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'A Moment in Time' world premiere on LI

Story by four-time Tony winner Stewart F. Lane to open at DHPAC next week

June 15, 2010 | 06:50 AM
"It's an opportunity to see a show in development, before it, hopefully, reaches Broadway," said Jared Hershkowitz, chair of the Theater Arts Department at Five Towns College and one of the producers of "A Moment in Time."

The show, written and directed by four-time Tony winning producer, Stewart F. Lane will have its world premiere at the Dix Hills Performing Arts Center at Five Towns College on June 25 and run through June 27.

"Five Towns College is doing a full production," noted Lane, with "full sets, full costumes, full orchestration. This is fabulous … very professional."

The story, said Hershkowitz, is a young marine's "search for self," a marine who is stationed in Afghanistan, and is set to the music of John Denver.

Denver fans will easily recognize his most popular music such as "Leavin' On a Jet Plane" and "Country Roads." But, said Hershkowitz, some very obscure Denver songs will also be heard. A grainy rendition of "All This Joy" can be seen on a YouTube video, he noted. "I think this is the first time that there will be a public performance of ["All This Joy"] since that concert."

Lane added, "John Denver was a terrific troubadour. When you look at the poetry of his lyrics the songs take on a new meaning … [you see] another aspect of the songs."

But, noted Hershkowitz, it's "not about John Denver. It's about a soldier as he relives moments in his life through music … it's a memory play."

Added Hershkowitz, "Stewart — and so do I — feels very strongly about paying homage to the incredible sacrifices these men make — the homesickness. In Afghanistan it's a very difficult war — it's in the desert. A lot of them come back and say they feel the support of the American people but they've had two, three or four tours of duty. [They feel] the pain of missing home. They need our support." He added, "after a while, you forget it's John Denver's music … you see the story."

Said Lane, "I've seen a lot of anti-war productions … but it's a long time since we've seen a bit of flag waving." That's what he hopes to accomplishing with "A Moment in Time."

It took Lane three years to get the rights to the music and to write the play. Four years ago Lane was working on "Stormy Weather," the story of Lena Horne, when he found out that someone he knew "owned John Denver's songbook," but he initially didn't know what to do with the songs. There already had been John Denver revues produced. But Denver's themes of freedom, individuality and concern for the environment finally coalesced into a story.

The cast consists of show business professionals such as Michael Sample, who plays the marine, Timothy Warmen who plays his father and Marie Danvers who appears as his mother. "Michael Sample … has a voice to die for," said Hershkowitz. Warmen is a Broadway veteran with roles going back into the early 1990s and Danvers appeared in the Broadway production of "Phantom of the Opera."

Joining the professionals will be Theatre Arts students from Five Towns College, all of whom had to go through a New York City and Long Island audition to land their roles. Noted Hershkowitz, "It's a mini 'break' in their careers … I'm excited about the ensemble."

Summed up Lane, "between the facilities [at Five Towns College] and the talent, who could ask for anything more."

The show will run on Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, June 27 at 2 pm. Tickets are $20 per person, $17 for seniors and students. For tickets, call 656-2148 or go to www.dhpac.org.

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