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It’s the High Season at Bay Street

Tue, 06/18/2024 - 14:32
Seen in rehearsal, the cast of Bay Street Theater’s “Master Class” includes, from left, Brett Ryback, Rodney Ingram, Stella Kim, Vicki Lewis, Olivia Hernandez, and Ben Rauch. 
Tricia Baron

Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater will kick into high gear this week, starting Saturday with “My First Ex-Husband,” a series of monologues written by Joy Behar and performed with a few well-known friends -- Susie Essman, Tovah Feldshuh, Sherri Shepherd, and others. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the one-night-only performance is sold out.

Tickets are available, however, for Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play “Master Class,” which will begin previews on Tuesday and have its red-carpet premiere on June 29. The play is inspired in part by a series of master classes given by Maria Callas, the renowned opera singer, at the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1971 and 1972, several years after she stopped performing. With her glory days behind her, she retreats into memories of acclaim and adversity while contending with her students during a funny and brutal master class.

When “Master Class” opened on Broadway in 1995, Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times, “Mr. McNally’s achievement has been to take the legendary Callas, the somewhat camp Judy Garland figure of grand opera, and restore to the woman a sense of her passion and intelligence and the singularity of her gifts.”

Vicki Lewis, a star of stage, screen, and television, will play Callas. Her theater credits include “Anastasia” and “Chicago” on Broadway, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “News Radio,” and “Grey’s Anatomy” on the small screen, and the films “Breakfast of Champions” and “Pushing Tin.”

“She’s a marvelous actress,” said Scott Schwartz, Bay Street’s artistic director. “We feel really lucky to have her.” Mr. Schwartz noted that there is live music and live piano in the production, including snippets of opera arias sung by the “students.”

The other performers include Stella Kim, Olivia Hernandez, Rodney Ingram, Ben Rauch, and Brett Ryback. “Brett came to us because he was one of my leads in ‘Murder for Two,’ ” said Mr. Schwartz, who directed that play Off Broadway.

The production is directed by Lisa Peterson, a two-time Obie Award-winning writer and director who recently helmed “Good Night, Oscar” on Broadway. That play earned a best actor Tony Award for Sean Hayes.

Other members of the creative team are Rachel Hauck, a Tony Award-winning scenic designer; Laura Bauer, costume designer; Jen Schriever, lighting designer; Sun Hee Kil, sound designer; Yee Eun Nam, production designer; Melissa Sparks, production stage manager, and Mr. Ryback, music director.

“Master Class” will run through July 20, with matinees on Wednesdays and Sundays and conversations with the cast on Tuesdays. Showtimes vary depending on the day; ticket prices start at $49.99.

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