Theatergoers are in for another summer of exciting original work, contemporary favorites and beloved classics at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.
First up is The Man in the Ceiling, running from May 30–June 25. A new musical with a book by East Ender Jules Feiffer, music by Andrew Lippa and directed by Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller, The Man in the Ceiling adapts Feiffer’s children’s book of the same name. In this musical comedy, Jimmy Jibbett wants to be an artist, but has to deal with: being a disappointment to his father, daydreaming during school and getting better on the ball field. Feiffer told Dan’s Papers, “The ‘thing’ of the play is what everyone deals with from the time they’re young. I’m still dealing with it—how to deal with your creative needs in a world that is often indifferent to them or misunderstands them…and how to just go on going on.” The Man in the Ceiling had a reading at the 2016 Bay Street Theater’s New Works Festival. Schwartz saw the potential immediately. “This is the first time we’re doing a full production of a reading we did,” he says. “Sitting in the packed house and hearing this new work by Jules Feiffer and Andrew Lippa…everyone walked out saying, ‘when are we going to see a full production?’”
Schwartz directs the second production of the season, Intimate Apparel, running July 4–30. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, Intimate Apparel tells the story of Esther Mills, an African American seamstress who makes lingerie for society ladies and “ladies of the night.” The successful but lonely Esther has complicated friendships with the different women in her life, finds love with a Caribbean laborer working on the Panama Canal and makes an unusual friend in a Hasidic shopkeeper who shares his fabrics with her. “It’s a play I have loved since it premiered,” says Schwartz. “I saw the original production and it really made a big impact on me. I like the period [in which] it’s set, in 1905. It’s a little about immigration and I thought, at this time, it would be interesting to do a show that represented [current issues]. There are strong parallels in our contemporary society for minority groups.”
The season concludes with the William Shakespeare comedy As You Like It, directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle, running August 8–September 3. In As You Like It, Rosalind flees persecution in her uncle’s court to the Forest of Arden with her cousin, Celia. Some of Shakespeare’s most famous passages are in As You Like It; audiences will no doubt recognize “All the world’s a stage!” This show is a co-production with Classic Stage Company in Manhattan.
Schwartz is excited to bring the Bard to the main stage. “The audience we’ve been building is ready to see a fresh new take on a classic,” he says. “We’ve done our free readings for two years of Shakespeare outdoors, and I’ve always wanted to do a [Shakespeare play] on the main stage. John Doyle, the Tony-winning director, is an artist I think is unparalleled. He and I got to know each other a little bit last year and started talking about Bay Street and Classic Stage collaborating. There’s going to be actors playing instruments, and the set will be really fun and summery and almost immersive for the audience.
“The thing I’ve been so excited about this season is that we have really stellar artists,” Schwartz says. “Between Jules Feiffer, Andrew Lippa and Lynn Nottage and then to have John Doyle—and I suppose Mr. Shakespeare, as well!—I feel what we’ve been doing at Bay Street is bringing the top artists working in the theater to Sag Harbor.”
Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts is located at 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor. For tickets, subscriptions and more information, call 631-725-9500 and visit baystreet.org.