Rock River Players Open Season With Original Work By Robert Frtiz

WILLIAMSVILLE – The Rock River Players (RRP) present a new play, I Used to Have a Cat by writer/director Robert Fritz Wednesday, October 11 through Saturday, October 14 at 7:30 at the Williamsville Hall, Dover Road, Williamsville, Vermont. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

Award-winning filmmaker Robert Fritz of Newfane has turned his attention to the RRP stage. I Used To Have Cats features only two actors, Sara Vitale and Natalie Neilson, who play sisters with contrasting life-styles and temperaments who live together. “These are two fantastic and accomplished actors,” Fritz said. “I was excited to write this new material specifically for them.”

Sara Vitale is a founding member of the Rock River Players and currently serves as secretary of its board of directors. Having studied acting and directing in college, she continues to pursue both in various community theater groups. Filming The Visit recently with Robert Fritz marked Vitale’s return to work in film. An art therapist for children with special needs, she is the mother of three children of her own. Vitale serves on the board of directors at the Compass School in Westminster, Vermont and teaches photography classes there on a volunteer basis. Past work in area theatre includes playing Chelsea in On Golden Pond and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. Most recently she was assistant director and lighting captain for the Rock River Players’ production of The Fantasticks.

Natalie Neilson grew up in San Francisco doing theater. She has starred as the leads in three Robert Fritz films: TWICE…, Past Tense, and Chasing Rainbows. She has won several awards for her acting including an Award of Excellence from the Accolade Competition, an Award of Excellence from The Indie Fest, and a Gold Award from the International Independent Film Festival. Neilson lives and works in New Hampshire.

Writer/director Robert Fritz, is also a best selling author. He studied composition and theater at The Boston Conservatory of Music where he earned a BM and MM in composition. As a filmmaker, Fritz studied cinematography at the Rockport Workshops, and directing with Jim Pasternak. His films have won over 90 awards from film festivals around the world. A director of numerous theater productions, Fritz has also made documentaries for industry and television and he has written and directed six feature films and one dramatic short. He has directed and co-hosted Creating (a TV series made for a Canadian Network) and directed episodes of the PBS series LeaderTalk with Garrison Krause, for which he also composed the theme music. Fritz wrote and directed the TV series Vermont Stories. He created She Was a Dancer, a multi–media work commissioned for the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. As a composer, Fritz has won commissions from groups such as Boston’s Collage-New Music and Dutch Radio. Having studied on scholarship at the Darmstadt (Germany) Institute for New Music, he has composed music for CDs, TV and film, including all of his own. Two of his arrangements appear on Celtic Ladies, which topped Billboard Magazine (2007-2008 World Music.)

I Used to Have a Cat is the opening play in the Rock River Players 2017-2018 season. It will be followed by the Players annual cabaret in February. In May the RRP will present two evenings of one-act comedies—including original works— following a weekend run of Marsha Norman’s ’night Mother directed by Sara Vitale. The RRP July production will be announced in November. For more information on the Rock River Players, contact producer Annie Landenberger at verbatimvt@gmail.com.

The Rock River Players present The Fantasticks

by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

WILLIAMSVILLE – The Rock River Players (RRP) present The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones July 19-23 at the Williamsville Hall, Dover Road, Williamsville, Vermont.

The Fantasticks tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play The Romancers (Les Romanesques) by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring parents who, by pretending to feud, trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into falling in love. The mothers –fathers in most productions– hire traveling actors to stage a mock abduction, so that Matt can heroically “save” Luisa, and end the feigned feud. When the children discover the deception, they reject the arranged love match and separate. Each then gains disillusioning experiences of the real world, seen in parallel fantasy sequences. They return to each other bruised but enlightened, and they renew their commitment with more maturity. The original off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks ran a total of 42 years making it the world’s longest-running musical. A rich and nuanced script coupled with beautiful, dynamic, thoughtful and familiar songs as “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” help make this show so endearing. It has played throughout the U.S. and in at least 67 foreign countries.

The Rock River Players production features Stewart McDermet as the wise and winning El Gallo; Veronica Stevens as the uber-romantic Luisa and Heather Martell as her gardening fanatic of a mother, Bellamy; Adam Culver as the hero-wannabe Matt and Nora Gordon as his plant-pruning mother, Hucklebye. David Roberts and Miles Keefe are the classic clowns as aging actor has-beens, Henry and Mortimer, and Nastia Stevens is the mischievous mute. Annie Landenberger directs; Ken Olsson is music director; Sara Vitale is assistant director and Bonnie Cramp, production coordinator.

Landenberger says, “The Rock River Players end their second season with this quintessential, delightful, resonating, relevant show. Like shows the RRP have done in the past, it feels viscerally well-suited to the Hall—a site with charm, history and warmth. On another note, audiences should know that the RRP and the Williamsville Hall Committee have acquired 50 new padded chairs. Many of the traditional folding chairs will also have pads. Seating is unreserved; the house opens a half hour before curtain. If audiences are happy with the new seats, we’ll gratefully accept donations to help cover their cost.”

Performances are at the Williamsville Hall Wednesday and Thursday, July 19 and 20 at 7; Friday, July 21 at 7:30; Saturday, July 22 at 2PM and 7:30 and Sunday, July 23 at 2PM. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Group rates are available. For reservations call 802-348-7156, option 2 or write verbatimvt@gmail.com.

“The Shadow People” on Friday, May 12 at 7 PM

WILLIAMSVILLE – Rock River Players present “The Shadow People” an old time radio drama Friday, May 12 at 7 PM at the Williamsville Hall.

According to director Debbi Reed-Savory, “The Hall of Fantasy was a series of radio dramas dedicated to scaring the living daylights out of its listeners.” “The Shadow People” by Richard Thorne aired in the early 1950s with professional sound effects and cast. Reed-Savory adds, “The Rock River Players’ chilling version will be more of a journey than a polished production. lt’ll be full of fright, as well as fun, as all who attend will be participating in providing homemade on-cue sound effects. How loud can you scream? Even the after-show refreshments will be spooky. Join the RRP to confront our most powerful fear, the dark. Turn the lights out, only if you dare.”

The Rock River Players launched in August 2015 and have since presented several productions with the intent of growing community through the lively arts. The production following the one-night old time radio show offering is The Fantasticks! on July 20 to 23.

The Williamsville Hall is located on Dover Road in the village of Williamsville. For more information on the May 12 event, contact Debbi Reed-Savory at deb.reedsavory@gmail.com.

For information on the Rock River Player, contact Annie Landenberger at verbatimvt@gmail.com or 802-348-7156, option 2.