Convenience: Comedy, Opera and a Neighborhood Affair

77 Square on Madison.com, July 2014

Summer’s here, and the time is right for singing and acting in the streets  at least on Madison’s east side.  Next-door neighbor arts organizations TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater and Fresco Opera Theatre are teaming up to celebrate their shared neighborhood in Convenience, a new production opening Friday, August 1.

Combining comedy, opera and a walking tour of Schenk’s Corners, Convenience tells the story of a fictionalized, east side convenience store and its eccentric customers, including a developer and an activist, as well as conspiracy theorists, musicians, know-it-alls and assorted neighborhood characters.

When the developer and the activist hatch competing plans for the store, the stage is set for conflict  and a most unlikely romance.

Convenience: Comedy, Opera and a Neighborhood Affair, is written by Danielle Dresden, from TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, directed by Melanie Cain, from Fresco Opera Theatre, and features arias Cain selected from some of the world’s greatest operas.  Donna Peckett, from TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, choreographs a solo a cappella tap dance, and Frank Cain, from Fresco Opera Theatre, makes a cameo appearance as a fan of what he calls “Scratch and Sniff” lottery tickets. The cast includes singers and actors, with George Abbott, Ashton Lareau and Clarisse Tobia performing, as well as Melanie Cain, Dresden and Peckett.

The brief walking tour of Schenk’s Corners, which takes place during Convenience keeps the plot  and the audience  moving while conveying fun facts about neighborhood history, thanks to the help of Ann Waidelich, Cliff Woolever and the Eastside History Club.  Archival images of the area, collected by the Eastside History Club, are also used in the production.

Performances were Friday and Saturday nights, August 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 7:30 pm, with a Sunday matinee at 4 pm, August 3 and 10.  Tickets were $20 for general audiences, $15 for students and seniors. Contact TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater and Fresco Opera Theatre for more information: 608.244.2938; 608.712.9533

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