Shadowland Stages 2024 Season: Connection and Comedy | Theater | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Following the years of silent, empty auditoriums during a raging pandemic, the packed seats of a theater are a sigh of relief to audiences and staff alike. Within those lined rows we find connection and common ground—a space for people of all backgrounds, side by side, to escape the divisive political tensions of today's world. Now in its 39th year of entertaining and inspiring audiences, Shadowland Stages in Ellenville is on a mission to do just that: Reflect the human experience with the power of live theater. From buddy comedies (“The Garbologists”) to war-time love stories (“Dear Jack, Dear Louise”) to nostalgic musicals (“Beehive, the 60s Musical”), Shadowland’s upcoming performances spotlight our shared humanity in spite of perceived divisions.

“This year, America is kind of split in half and I think it's going to be a pretty aggressive political year,” artistic director Brendan Burke says. “The shows are trying to create moments of when we come together as people. Those moments that bond us together: laughter, music. Moments and themes of connection across geography and political affiliations.”

click to enlarge Shadowland Stages 2024 Season: Connection and Comedy
Courtesy of Shadowland Stages
Alexandra Fortin and Michael Liebhauser in Shadowland's production of "Dear Jack, Dear Louise."

The main event for 2024 is Larry Gallagher’s “Beehive, the 60s Musical” (August 9-September 8). Its nostalgic array of songs like “Proud Mary,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” and “A Natural Woman” are sure to draw in musical and 60s soul fans alike. “It was a tumultuous decade, and we're in some difficult times ourselves. There's a parallel there. In a lot of ways, it’s some music that bonded us together as a means of expression for political change. It really plays like a great setlist,” Burke says.

This season is full of laughter, kicking off the first in a slew of regional-premiering comedies with the theater’s first-ever Sherlock Holmes production. The hilarious revamp of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s crime novel Hound of the Baskervilles ran in early June. Next up, “Lend Me a Soprano,” a comedy by Ken Ludwig, (July 12-August 4). Based on his play “Lend Me A Tenor,” this gender-swapped show bridges laughter and music, following the high-stakes chaos of a night behind the scenes at the opera. “The Garbologists” (September 13-September 29) is especially poignant in its humanity despite its hilarity. The story winds through a New York City garbage route, where an unlikely friendship between two sanitation workers blossoms despite their different backgrounds.

click to enlarge Shadowland Stages 2024 Season: Connection and Comedy
Courtesy of Shadowland Stages
Jessica Lòpez-Barkl, Paul Herbig, and Michael Frederic in Shadowland's "Hound of the Baskervilles."

Ken Ludwig’s work appears again with “Dear Jack, Dear Louise,” (June 21-July 7) premiering in the region for the first time in a co-production with Penguin Rep Theatre. The love story is based on Ludwig’s own parents, whose correspondence during World War II began a long-distance romance. The actors rarely interact on stage, instead reciting each other’s letters within side-by-side sets. Despite their separate lives, a military doctor and an aspiring actress are able to build a relationship that defies geographic boundaries. The play will run for five weeks at Penguin Rep Theatre in Stony Point after July 7. “It's going to be a very intimate and heartwarming experience for the audience,” Burke says.

Shadowland’s wide array of genres this year leaves a plethora of events for audiences to choose from. “That's our focus: to remind people that there's a place for theater in everyone's life,” Burke says. Shadowland is closing out their season with a world-premiere of Nicky Glossman’s “The Road to Jerusalem,” (October 4-October 20) a new play portraying seven intertwining stories in the American West of the late 1800s. The play made its debut with a one-night-only benefit reading at Shadowland Stages in February, featuring big names like Oscar-nominated actor Judd Hirsch, David Strathairn, and Jay O. Sanders. Though the theater is yet to announce the cast for the play’s run, Burke assures that “it's going to be a very exciting cast.”

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