Open Eye stages Elizabethan Evening

Margaretville — More than 80 guests at The Open Eye Theater ’s second annual Midsummer Night’s Dinner arrived at the lobby of the Hanah Resort to find honored guests Drs. Robin and Stephen Larsen seated with Queen Elizabeth I, Lord Chamberlain Christopher Hatton, The Lord Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Lady in Waiting Sarah Greenley.

Played by Open Eye veteran Anne Saxon-Hersh, Vern Vance, Thomas Hafner and Sarah Hagakore, with the celebrated psychological researcher and his art historian wife, they were the focus of the opening reception.

Queen’s demands
Before going to the dining room, the Seneschal (Beau Morrow) pounded a gavel and gathered all to see entertainment requested by the queen. Young noble women, Melissa Day and Barbara Morrow, and “Lady Sarah” presented a court dance choreographed by Melissa to the music of the young strolling violinists Cedric and Curtis Taylor. The brothers played later in concert.

After the queen and her costumed attendants processed into the dining room, the Seneschal again gaveled all to “attend to the Master of Ceremonies, ” Open Eye trustee Gerry Balcar. Mayor William Stanton of Margaretville formally welcomed the Honored Guests to the village as required by Elizabethan protocol. Dinner producer Dr. Elizabeth Sherr gave the grace, and Town of Andes Supervisor, Martin Donnelly, led the loyal toast which Emcee Balcar remarked was to the United States, the nation that brought the free world out of the 20th century intact.

After dinner the doctors Larsen illustrated the history of the roll that theater has taken in the molding of people.

Einstein speaks
Producing artistic director Amie Brockway used a quote of Albert Einstein to further develop the theme. Reflecting on the flood she thanked all who had helped in every way with the recovery and then presented resolutions for outstanding contributions from the Board to technical director Erwin Karl and contractor Billy Joe Mathis. A dialogue ensued when the queen announced she had questions for the Larsens, who, in turn, had some for her. The queen advised those running the 21st century to avoid financial crises and tax those with money, as they would complain while others would revolt.

A messenger interrupted bearing a warrant for the arrest of Lady Sarah for treason, alleging her having treated with a Spanish naval officer. Sarah protested that the charges were false and intended to put her in The Tower of London to be tortured and executed. She raced for the door, stole the sword of the Seneschal, and faced the sheriff with it. She accused him of complicity in the false arrest and revealed herself as a ward of the Greenley family and daughter of the fencing master Henry Saint-Didier of Paris. They fought; she disarmed him and forced a confession of a plot by her former disgraced fiancé. The queen banished the sheriff to exile in Canada with the former betrothed suggesting it might be a better option than her 16th century justice system.

Theater ballads
Open Eye star Patricia Van Tassel gave a recital of Ballads of Theater accompanied by guitarist John Sheehan. The audience saw a video trailer of The Open Eye’s world premiere production of Sandra Fenichel Asher’s Walking Toward America in which Van Tassel played 33 characters. Playwright Wilma Mazo was introduced in advance of a performance of her short comedy The Name of the Game performed by Laura Battelani and John Exter. The closing songs, in Elizabethan tradition, were My Country T’is of Thee and Auld Lang Syne— respectively, a prayer for the continuance of freedom and an appeal for embracing the wisdom and good of the past to mold the future. Rumors surfaced after the dinner that playwrights of the Elizabethan era could be the special guests at the 2013 event.

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