Larry Picard as Sheridan Whiteside, and Chris Ferry as Bert Jefferson, rehearse a scene of “The Man Who Came To Dinner.”
Photo credit: Tracy Grammer

EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton Theater Company is putting together its final touches in preparation of its June production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner.”

The performance will be the third production put together by ETC and the dates for the show are Thursday, June 20, through Saturday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 23, at 2:30 p.m.

The production will take place this year at Williston Northampton School Theater, 19 Payson Ave., after recently announcing a partnership with Williston Northampton School to bring opportunities for local theater in multiple ways including hosting the upcoming production.

The production is directed by Eva Husson-Stockhamer and produced by Michael Budnick.

ETC President Michael Budnick and cast member Chris Ferry, who will portray Bert Jefferson, talked with Reminder Publishing about the upcoming production.

Budnick said the first two productions, “God of Carnage” and “Torch Song,” were so successful that the production group decided to look for bigger venues to host their shows.

Besides producing the play, Budnick is also set to play Professor Metz.

According to its website, “The Man Who Came to Dinner” is a timely satire of celebrity, cult of personality and egotism — with strong relevance to today’s fame-obsessed culture. Most recently revived on Broadway with Nathan Lane in the title role, the 2000 production was nominated for a Tony and a Drama Desk award.
Budnick talked more about the play and why it was chosen to be performed by members of the ETC.

He said, “We wanted to kind of step back a little bit and do a classic comedy but we also wanted to do one that has meaning for today’s society and some relevance. I have been working with Eva Husson-Stockhamer for a number of years on various projects and she has always wanted to do this particular play, so I decided to read it and also see it an early production on Broadway, and I was just in stiches. It was hilarious. Really, really funny and so appropriate for today because it kind of satires the cult of personality and celebrity and not what you know but who you know and what does it mean to have these relationships with all these eccentric people.”

Easthampton Theater Company is a production group created by Easthampton and nearby residents to bring quality community and regional theater productions to the city.

Budnick said the larger the production, the more members of the community that can become involved.
Auditions for the play took place in February and with rehearsals taking place since April, Budnick is excited to see it all come together after months of assembling the production and acting teams.

Ferry said that he is excited for people to see the play based on how well the rehearsals have been going.

He added, “Now that we have kind of crossed the off-book threshold, to start to see people acting and the scenes, its like the moment when an airplane just leaves the ground and starts to be flying instead of rolling. It’s really exciting and we get to see how good this production is going to be.”

Ferry is also a director and founder of the Easthampton Film Festival and he and Budnick plan to collaborate with their two organizations to keep promoting the arts and be able to draw people to the downtown area who are interested in theater.

He added, “It made sense to me to partner with the theater company because theater and film feel very Gemini to me, you are going to come into the theater to watch performances and storytelling in a visual way. I feel like there is overlap. If I am going to be making movies and showing movies, I want to meet the actors and producers and being in the theater company is a great way to do that.”

Budnick talked about what it means to put together another production.

He said, “This is a very funny play, and it is appropriate for all audiences. It’s got slapstick elements to it. To be able to draw people who are interested in the performances and these types of activities to the downtown area. They eat, they shop, they become a part of our increasingly vibrant arts and culture realm here in Easthampton.”

tgarnet@thereminder.com | + posts