by Linda Viertel –
With the advent of a new year, comes the delightful prospect of new theatre. From February 28 to March 21, Lyndhurst’s picture gallery will be the site of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, produced by the M&M Performing Arts Company, Inc. Set in Victorian dress, to complement the Gothic Revival masterpiece it will be performed in, the audience will have an up close and personal view of the young lovers who fall in and out of love, a blundering troupe of actors and their misadventures, and the spell mischievous fairies cast in the forest they all inhabit during the play’s course of one magical night. It’s the perfect antidote to winter’s chill.
Then “hold on to your hats” for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a fun fast-paced farce that includes all 37 plays in 90 minutes. It will be performed from March 1 to 22. “Three whacky actors weave their wicked way through all of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies in one wild ride that will leave you breathless. If you like Shakespeare, you’ll love this show. If you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love it even more,” states M& M’s press release.
But, who are the theatre-loving folks behind M&M Performing Arts, Lyndhursts’ resident theatre company? Melinda O’Brien and Michael Muldoon (the husband and wife “M&Ms”) met in high school, married in college, live in Yorktown Heights and have been acting, directing and producing with M&M, their non-profit organization, since 2000. Muldoon’s and O’Brien’s initial inspiration “….was to create theatre,” as Muldoon says, “in libraries, senior citizen centers, and schools – bringing theatre to these community’s venues.” They plan each season themselves, often with site specific locations in mind, not to mention audience appeal.
M&M has performed at the Lyndhurst site for the past 8 years. “It is an absolute pleasure to be inside the 19th century Gothic masterpiece,” Muldoon states, “And, when the opportunity arises to perform there, we are delighted to do so.” Their concept works: utilizing architecturally elaborate settings, often with stunning design details that would be impossible to reproduce, obviates the need to create elaborate sets. Muldoon and O’Brien bring in the lighting, own or rent an array of costumes, and their high-quality actors hail from the local area as well as New York City. Many of their actors have performed multiple parts over the years, but several new cast members participate each year.
Partnering with Red Monkey Theatre Group, M&M also performs at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in Pelham Bay Park as well as the continuing Library Theater Series. Free performances will be offered in libraries throughout the Hudson Valley and Connecticut starting this Spring. Since 2000, M&M has managed to create over 75 productions, traveling to more than 50 venues throughout the region.
For the Lyndhurst productions, O’Brien will be directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Muldoon will be directing The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) plus acting in both productions! This impresario certainly “wears many hats.” The team thinks of everything: “We’ve set up performances so audiences can see both plays on the same day: a matinee in the afternoon, then have dinner in the rivertowns and return for the evening performance.” Two different theatrical experiences in a spectacular venue (with plenty of parking), and dinner at one of the rivertowns’ engaging restaurants. Now, that will be a “date day” to remember!
(For ages 13+; all tickets are $40. Visit: Lyndhurst.org and go to showclix.com to purchase tickets. Join the conversation at Twitter: @LyndhurstNY and Instagram@Lyndhurst Mansion. Follow the event with#lyndhurstmansion.)