Moscow, a gay musical interpretation of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, along with a straight (so to speak) version of the classic play are among the offerings at the fourth annual Chekhov Now Festival, presented at Off-Broadway's Connelly Theatre by the LITE Theatre Company. Productions, which include traditional stagings of Chekhov alongside reinventions of his plays and short stories, run from Oct. 28-Nov. 24 in rotating repertory.
Moscow, which was voted a 2001 Audience Favorite prize at the Edinburgh Fringe, may or may not be a musical vision of hell, where three men are trapped in a theatre with nothing but a script of Three Sisters to ward off their desperation and despair. Maury R. McIntyre composed the music with book and lyrics by Nick Salamone. The score, centered around a painful love triangle that develops between failed playwright Jon, virginal Matt and Luke, a hustler from Mobile, includes the seduction number "Touch," "So Long, Matt," about the young man's mother, "Alabama," Luke's rant against his homophobic father and "Behind Me," Jon's recollection of passionate nights on Fire Island. Performances of Moscow begin Nov. 4.
Another musical interpretation of Chekhov, the one-act world premiere Rothschild's Fiddle, is paired with Peter Campbell's adaptation of what might be the writer's most famous short story, "The Lady With the Dog." Fiddle, a collaboration between Adam Melnick, Grammy-winning Klezmatic Frank London and Judythe Cohen, is the story of Gentile peasants who live beside a Jewish village in Pre-Revolutionary Russia. Performances of both plays begin Oct. 30.
Sam Mossler penned a sequel to The Cherry Orchard entitled The Ghosts of Firs Nikolaich, beginning performances (appropriately) on Halloween, Oct. 31. This send-up, directed by Tim Herman, finds little left on Ranyevskaia's former homestead, but the lonely ghost of the faithful servant Firs (who, at the end of Cherry Orchard, is forgotten by the family and left to die, lying in the middle of the stage) and greedy Lopakhin's plans for a series of country homes.
For the traditionalists, there are also stagings of Three sisters, directed by Cynthia Croot for the Tinderbox Theatre, beginning Nov. 1, and The Cherry Orchard, performed by Jovial Crew and directed by Darren Gobbert, beginning Nov. 2. Ellen Beckerman's Gull, a Chekhov Now entry in 2000, returns with a simplistic and stark staging of The Seagull, beginning Nov. 8. Tickets to performances are $15. The Connelly Theater is located at 220 East 4th Street between Avenues A and B. For reservations, call (212) 414-7773. Chekhov NOW is on the web at http://www.chekhovnow.org.
— By Christine Ehren