Two fresh stage companies — one in its second year and the other brand new — are offering area audiences new artistic opportunities. While one is a contemporary take on the modern art world, the other is a rarely performed opera by a 20th century master.
The Pegasus Theatre Project at the West Windsor Arts Council in Princeton Junction is closing its second season with “Bakersfield Mist,” Fridays and Saturdays, April 13, 14, 20, and 21, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 15 and 22, at 2 p.m.; and Wednesday, April 18, at 10 a.m.
Stephan Sachs’ 2011 script is based on the true story of a California woman truck driver who purchases a thrift shop painting as joke only to find out she may be in the possession of a lost work by innovative American abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock.
The two-actor play was inspired by a documentary “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?”— the woman’s frank response to hearing the famous artist’s name — and the ensuing arguments by arts professionals about the work’s authenticity, value, and nature of art.
The Los Angeles Times called it “a wry two-hander that handles highbrow artistic issues while zinging in plenty of uproarious one-liners. A perfect marriage of emotion and ideas that is rare indeed.”
Pegasus Theatre Project calls itself the professional resident theater company of the West Windsor Arts Council and seeks to explore “the theme of how we establish a human connection with those who have vastly different values, beliefs, and lifestyles; those whose truth is vastly different from our own.” The company was founded by Judi Parrish of Ewing, Peter Bisgaier of West Windsor, and Jennifer Zefutie of Cranbury.
Donne Petito of Hopewell plays the rough-edged truck driver and Rupert Hinton of Princeton is the polished art connoisseur visiting her trailer park home. Co-founder Bisgaier directs.
In addition to the performance the company and arts center have scheduled several related events involving the current exhibition of 32 works exploring “Abstraction.” First will be an opening night after performance wine and cheese reception on April 13, a talkback with the cast and creative team on Sunday, April 15, and Wednesday, April 18, and a pre-performance reception on Saturday, April 21.
Bakersfield Mist, West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction. Friday and Saturday, April 13, 14, 20, and 21, at 8 p.m. ; Sunday, April 15 and 22, at 2 p.m.; Wednesday, April 18, 10 a.m. $22 to $26. 609-759-0045 or www.PegasusTheatreNJ.org
#b#A New Take on a Rarely Seen Opera#/b#
The newly established Hub City Opera and Dance Company in New Brunswick is offering its first full stage production, the opera “Der Mond” (The Moon) on Sunday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m., at the Nicholas Music Center, 85 George Street, New Brunswick.
The rarely seen work is by 20th century German composer Carl Orff, who is best known for his 1937 secular oratorio based on medieval poems, “Carmina Burana.”
While the one-act opera is based on a Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, Hub City producers say “it is not necessarily for children. Since its premiere in 1939, ‘Der Mond’ was quite popular on stages of the German-speaking world until the mid 1970s.”
A fantasy set in a time when the moon was tied to a tree in a small village, the story involves four travelers who steal the orb and set forth a series of dreamlike situations. Orff called the work the “little theater of the world.”
According to promotional information, the Hub City Opera and Dance Company performs rare, little known, or new works and provides audiences “with novel and unexpected interpretations of known works through new combinations of artistic disciplines.”
Company coordinators say they collaborate with regional educational and civic institutions, Rutgers’ Departments of Music and Dance, Rutgers Children’s Chorus, and the Highland Park Community Chorus.
The production is directed by company founder Geza G. Schenk and Annamaria Stefanelli
Schenk is a German native whose family includes opera singers and a piano instructor. His academic and professional background includes Slavic studies, linguistics, marketing, and dramaturgy for the Bavarian Theater Academy in Munich. A Highland Park resident, he runs a graphic design company, teaches part-time at Rutgers University, and sings with the Highland Park Community Chorus.
Stefanelli is an active soprano performing in a variety of venues ranging from state performance to fundraising events. She has a B.A. in drama and English from Franklin and Marshall College, an M.A. in English from New York University, and has studied opera at Rose Bruford College in the United Kingdom. A resident of Roseland, she operates a voice and piano studio and runs A&R Artists.
Der Mond, Hub City Opera and Dance Company, Nicholas Music Center, Mason Gross School of the Arts, 85 George Street, New Brunswick. Sunday, April 15, 7:30 p.m. $5 to $15. 848-932-7511, www.hubcityopera.org, or masongross.rutgers.edu