Gore Vidal’s political classic staged in Wantagh
Eastline Productions is an intimate, grassroots community theatre in Wantagh that presents classic and obscure plays. Following this tradition, the theatre will be presenting the Long Island premiere of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, which opens on Feb. 19 and runs until Feb. 28.
The play is “a fictionalized account of the 1960 presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination. It has come down to a convention with the three candidates going for the nomination,” said Matt Rosenberg, the director of the play.
“Also the term ‘the best man’ is debated onstage. What characterizes being the best man? Does that mean having the guts to do what no one else should be able to do? Or does that mean that you’re a morally good person? That’s the debate that happens on the stage,” said Daniel C. Higgins, the artistic director.
Deborah Rupy of Hicksville, the new, and only, female president of the company, will be playing Alice Russell, the wife of the lead character, William Russell. If the old adage is true that life imitates art, then audience members may see much of contemporary society in the play.
“It’s perfect for the political arena at the moment,” Rupy said. “It’s fitting right in. It takes place in the ’60s, but it’s truly current.”
Rupy was voted in unanimously as president four months ago, and her partners have only kind words and praise for the decision.
“Because Deb was coming in with a fresh perspective, making her president was the right move,” Rosenberg said.
“Giving Deborah the reins was the right thing to do because of how organized she is, and there are not many female theatre owners on Long Island, so you know what, why not?” said Higgins.
“When I met the owners, they were looking for a fourth owner to come on board, and I really like to get into the nitty-gritty,” said Rupy. “I was asked to be president, so I’m gonna carry that torch.”
Of course, along with the new title comes more responsibility, but Rupy is wearing her new hat well, and with good humor.
“Oh Lord, everything!” she exclaimed when asked about some of her new duties. “No, we’re not a final-say ownership, like we hit the gavel and that’s it. We know where we want to be.
My job is steering us in the right direction, making sure we’re all on the same road. And if someone’s not on the same road, to pull them back in.”
Although she is now president, Rupy was quick to point out that she had to audition for her part just like anyone else, and that she is pleased with her new role.
“I really like my character,” she said. “She’s extremely powerful, but she takes a back seat. So to come out on stage and take a back seat, but still truly show the power that isn’t going to hit you over the head until you get further into the show, and further into the scenes, has been very interesting.”
The modest-sized theatre barely seems able to contain the pride and enthusiasm felt by the team about their work, and what they plan on accomplishing in the future.
“We are pushing for different, new, innovative, out-of-the-box ways to produce and bring really great live theatre to the area,” Rupy said.
“We can say we did this, and we can say it loudly and proudly,” said Higgins, referring to the team’s productions.
Rupy loves to act, and tends to miss it when she is away from the stage for too long. She also said that The Best Man is just as close to her heart as any other play she’s done.
“I love every single play,” she said. “I give 100 percent of myself to every character, and I find each play I do is just as challenging.”
Eastline Productions is located at 2123 Wantagh Ave. in Wantagh. Call 516-749-5047 or visit www.eastlineproductions.com for more information and playing times.
Friday, Feb. 19, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 27, at 8 PM
Sunday, Feb. 28, at 2:30 p.m.
Adult admission $20; senior admission (60+) $15; student admission (With ID) $15; To reserve tickets call 516-749-5047 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The theater seats 40 people so reservations are strongly recommended.
Director: Matt Rosenberg; Producer: Deborah Rupy,
CAST: William Russell… Angelo DiBiase; Alice Russell…Deborah Rupy; Dick Jensen… Dan Bubbeo; Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamage… Ginny Brown; Arthur Hockstader… Jim Bradley; Joe Cantwell… Ron Motta; Mabel Cantwell…Stephanie Tapoler; Don Blades… Christopher D. Emanuel; Clyde Carlin… Rob Rosin; Sheldon Marcus/Reporter… Jerry Burke; Catherine/Reporter… Morgan Faye; Dr. Artinian/Reporter/Delegate… John Rowe; Voice of TV Commentator… Daniel C. Higgins.
STAFF: Ownership: James M. Black II, Timothy O’Rourke, Patrick A. Reilly and Deborah A. Rupy; Artistic Director: Daniel C. Higgins; Technical Director: Matthew Rosenberg; Social Media Promotions: Daniel Schinina; House Manager: Gracie Donaldson.