Get Ready for a Summer of Shows, Events and Music at Bay Street Theater - 27 East

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Get Ready for a Summer of Shows, Events and Music at Bay Street Theater

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Comedian Mike Birbigia presents four performances of his new show,

Comedian Mike Birbigia presents four performances of his new show, "Mike Birbiglia: Please Stop the Ride," at Bay Street Theater from July 25 to 28. COURTESY BAY STREET THEATER

authorAnnette Hinkle on Jun 10, 2024

The high season is officially underway across the East End, and this summer Bay Street Theater has a full slate of plays, musical evenings and other events designed to keep audiences entertained in the months ahead.

“I think this is one of the best seasons we’ve ever done,” said Scott Schwartz, Bay Street’s artistic director, during a recent presentation in the theater lobby previewing the upcoming season. “We’re fully back. People are excited to be here, business is good, the work is good, so I’m excited.”

The Bay Street mainstage season got underway just after Memorial Day with “The Subject Was Roses,” Frank D. Gilroy’s post-WWII drama starring a real life family of actors — John Slattery, his wife Talia Balsam and their son, Harry Slattery. The show, directed by Tony Award winner Scott Wittman, opened May 28 and runs through Sunday, June 16.

Next up will be the mainstage production of Terrence McNally’s “Master Class,” a play that Bay Street had hoped to present last summer, but was forced to cancel when lead actress Kate Burton (daughter of Bay Street co-founder Sybil Christopher) was cast in a Broadway show and had to withdraw.

“But we loved the show so much and thought it was perfect, we wanted to bring it back here,” said Schwartz.

“Master Class” is an exploration of art, ego and the pursuit of perfection. Set in the waning years of the life of opera diva Maria Callas, with her career behind her she retreats into memories of acclaim while contending with current voice students in a funny and brutal master class. McNally, who was a longtime resident of the East End with his husband, Tom Kirdahy, died at the age of 81 in March 2020, from complications of COVID-19.

“Terrence McNally was a genius writer of comedy. This play is cutting and biting and nasty in a delightful way,” Schwartz said. “Tom Kirdahy has been very supportive of us doing it. ‘Masterclass’ is sophisticated and very smart. You really get to know about Maria Callas, but it’s also really funny.”

Rehearsals for “Master Class” are now underway in New York City, and the show begins at Bay Street with preview performances on June 25, and a red carpet opening on Saturday, June 29. Performances continue through Sunday, July 20.

“For this play, we have Lisa Peterson, a wonderful director who directed ‘Goodnight, Oscar,’ and Rachel Hauck, who won a Tony for ‘Hadestown,’ is doing the set,” Schwartz explained. “Maria Callas will be played by Vicki Lewis from ‘NewsRadio’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ and she was a voice in ‘Finding Nemo.’ She was also in ‘Chicago’ and ‘Damn Yankees.’ She’s a marvelous actress and we feel lucky to have her. She’ll be fun to work with.

“Brett Ryback will play the pianist and musical director,” added Schwartz. “He was a lead in ‘Murder for Two’ Off Broadway.’ He’s funny and a great actor.”

The third mainstage play this summer is sure to be a crowd pleaser — Mel Brooks’s musical “Young Frankenstein,” which begins in previews on August 1, with opening night on Saturday, August 3, and running through August 25. The play is being produced in association with Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (where it opens in late June and runs through late July) and Geva Theatre in Rochester, N.Y. (where the show will move in September, after its Bay Street run). With music and lyrics by Mel Brooks and book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, original direction and choreography is by Susan Stroman and the show is directed by Stuart Ross.

“I think it will be really fun to have something people can laugh with and at for the final show of the season,” said Schwartz. “It’s delightful and hilarious.”

He added that Bay Street has developed a reputation in recent years for presenting big Broadway musicals on a much smaller scale and stage.

“These are shows originally conceived for the big stage. We’ve learned how to do them in a new way,” Schwartz explained. “We’ve done ‘Evita,’ ‘Ragtime,’ ‘My Fair Lady’ — it has to be a good show and seeing it with that intimacy can be just thrilling.”

“Young Frankenstein” will follow that same model as these other musicals at the theater.

“We’re giving ‘Young Frankenstein’ the Bay Street treatment and stripping it down and focusing on this core group of singers and actors,” he said. “This comedy is just hilarious and brilliant. Stuart Ross, who created ‘Forever Plaid’ and also did ‘Enter Laughing’ for us, is directing and Gerry McIntyre is choreographing the show for us. It’s an excellent team, though we can’t announce the cast yet.”

In recent seasons, Bay Street has added a fourth show in its summer repertoire — usually for just a one week run and usually in July. This year, that show will be “What I Know Now,” a one-woman play by and starring Julia Motyka, Schwartz’s wife, which runs July 15 to 20 at Bay Street.

“It’s about a woman who is facing her own mortality as she’s waiting for test results,” explained Schwartz. “She has to face her relationship to faith and her family history of illness. It’s kind of fun, despite the material.”

Beyond the mainstage offerings, coming up on Saturday, June 22, at 8 p.m., the theater will present an evening with TV personality and Bay Street Board of Trustees member Joy Behar and friends (including Susie Essman, Tovah Feldshuh, Sherri Shepherd and others) who will perform “My First Ex-Husband,” Behar’s all-new show which is a series of monologues, both funny and poignant. The performance is a benefit for Bay Street Theater and is produced by Rose Caiola, Cyrena Esposito and Tracy Mitchell in collaboration with the theater.

In addition, this summer Bay Street is bringing back Music Mondays. Offered on nights when the mainstage productions are dark, it invites artists to perform and share stories of their time on and off the stage in an intimate setting. The series kicks off with the legendary Patti LuPone on July 8, in a show conceived and directed by Scott Wittman (director of Bay Street’s first play of the season, “The Subject Was Roses”). Titled “Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes,” the show includes songs that are touchstones and reflections on Lupone’s life growing up — from the burgeoning rock ’n’ roll scene of the 1950s and coming of age in the politically and socially turbulent 1960s, to eventually achieving success with both career and family. The series will continue with The Harlem Gospel Choir in collaboration with Hamptons Jazz Fest on August 5, Erich Bergen on August 12, and finishes with Ari Axelrod on August 19.

Also this summer, comedian Mike Birbiglia brings his newest show, “Mike Birbiglia: Please Stop the Ride,” to Bay Street for four performances from Thursday, July 25, through Sunday, July 28. The comedian returns to Sag Harbor on the heels of his double sold-out performances last summer of “The Old Man and the Pool,” which debuted at Bay Street and went on to be a hit Broadway show and Netflix comedy special.

“Mike Birbiglia loves Bay Street, we feel we are one of his favorites,” said Schwartz. “He’ll bring it here and he’ll try out his new show for Broadway.”

On July 6, Bay Street will hold its 32nd Annual Gala at the theater. This year’s honorees are Broadway actor Neil Patrick Harris, his spouse, actor and chef David Burtka, and Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, executive director and chief curator of the Eastville Community Historical Society.

Finally, in partnership with the LGBT Network and the Long Island LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Bay Street Theater is hosting a series of late afternoon Summer Sunday Tea Dances with creative cocktail specials, light bites, music and lots of dancing on the theater patio and at the adjacent indoor bar. The first dance was held June 9, and subsequent Tea Dances will take place on June 30, July 7, July 14, August 11, August 18 and August 25. Open to all ages 21 and over, the festivities run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and each Sunday will feature a different theme. Attendees are invited to come early or stay after to catch a mainstage show, with Sunday matinee performances at 2 p.m. and evening performances at 7 p.m.

For information on the full Bay Street Theater season and tickets to shows and events, visit baystreet.org, call 631-725-9500 or visit the box office on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. In addition to performances, Bay Street also offers a series of summer theater camps for children age 4 to 17 beginning July 8.

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