Now in its 18th season, The Hudson Stage Company of Armonk, founded and run by producers Denise Bessette, Olivia Sklar and Dan Foster, and operating as a professional non-profit since its inception, has been dedicated to presenting fresh, dynamic, original works since 1999.
With such a packed list of past heavy-hitters as Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles, John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, and Animals Out of Paper, by Rajiv Joseph, there’s no doubt they’ve got that goal well covered.
And they continued to play the field and open new doors with their latest smash, The Hound of the Baskervilles, which played Whippoorwill Hall Theater from April 28th to May 13th. “It was a complete departure from anything we’ve ever done,” says Bessette, with a laugh, citing the show’s specific aspects of quirky, physical comedy, as well as its aura of sheer and silly fun that differs greater from their previously darker work. “But in that way, it’s keeping with our mission, too. We’re all about trying new things, shaking things up, and presenting new works you’ll not see anywhere else.”
While it may have indeed been a new venture for the company, it hit all the right notes in keeping with the company’s mission. The show chronicled the renowned detective and his ragtag group of friends and colleagues as they collected clues to unveil the killer of Sir Charles Baskerville, and determine the true identity of the hound who lay beside him. But, as mentioned, with a dark plot, rooted mostly in that from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel of the same name, the brilliant presentation, helmed by Mark Shanahan, comes with an added (heaping) helping of sight gags, slapstick bits, and rapid-fire quick changes that make the stage show so thoroughly enjoyable and memorable.
To boot, it was all expertly executed by three actors of the highest Broadway caliber: Matt Ban, Joe Delafield, and Denis Lambert. Ban (who plays Watson, among others) effortlessly exhibits a mastery in physical comedy, down on the floor at the drop of a hat, exaggerating otherwise minuscule movement, and playing with props to humorous effect. Delafield, who portrays nearly all members of the Baskerville brood, revels in his cavalcade of facial expressions, while Lambert’s knack for accents (especially when portraying Latina bombshell, Cecile), is simply unmatched.
Again, a departure to say the least, but their decision to produce it–among all the other wildly exciting new works they’ve put out past and present–is what makes Hudson Stage Company such an enticing entity.
While their full slate of programming for the upcoming season is still in the works, Bessette advises those eager theatergoers to rest assured that “We’re narrowing down our selection [and] we’ve got a bunch of terrific new plays coming–all of which are new to Westchester County.”
It’s all in keeping with their aforementioned goal: to provide easy, local access to fantastic theatre productions (sans the expensive Broadway prices). Of note, their Armonk location is close enough to attract visitors from Fairfield, Putnam, and Rockland counties in addition to the devoted group of Westchester County regulars.
“We love our audiences, and we’re very proud of our fantastically diverse program,” Bessette concludes. “I mean, 18 years going strong in the county… we’ve got to be doing something right, right?!”
Hudson Stage Company holds its performances regularly at Whippoorwill Hall Theatre within North Castle Public Library at 19 Whippoorwill Road East in Armonk. For more information on upcoming performances, visit www.hudsonstage.com.