Winter Arts Preview

All the World's a Stage

Warren's venerable little theater gets warmed up for winter

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The stage plays at Warren’s 2nd Story Theatre are incredibly versatile, as actors tackle the classics and take on the obscure alike. Perhaps it has something to do with the complicated history of the theatre itself. According to actor Ed Shea, “I started 2nd Story back in 1978 in Newport above a bar – hence the name. That was its first incarnation. The second incarnation was on the East Side of Providence in the basement of School One. Our current location is the third and final (?) incarnation.”

Audiences will find variety in the first part of the 2013 offerings. First up is Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, a fictionalized spin on the lives of famed composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, whose lives were linked by career, passion and jealousy. While it’s been widely accepted by scholars that Mozart died of rheumatic fever, rumors circulated that his elder rival Salieri poisoned him. Shaffer brilliantly crafted a play that explores the probability of the latter, shining the light on Salieri’s dis- dain of the young prodigy. “I am playing Salieri,” says Shea, “the narrator, whose epic battle with God is at the heart of the play.”

“Audiences tell us that 2nd Story is warm, welcoming and inviting. It’s a very relaxed and un-precious environment,” he says. “It is intimate, but still provides a great deal of spectacle, which is very important, especially for our production of Amadeus.” Seats are comfortable, tickets are affordable and refreshments can be purchased at the downstairs bar and brought up to enjoy during the performance. Preview shows run the weekend of January 18-20 and regular shows span January 24-February 3. Tickets range from $20-$25.

Next up is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dale Wasserman’s stage adaptation of the book of the same name. Since making its Broadway premiere back in 1963, the show has been performed all over the world to rave reviews. As the title would suggest, it’s about a man and his mental illness. However, there’s a catch – that man is only pretending to be insane in order to serve out the remainder of his jail sentence in a mental ward rather than on a prison work farm.

“I’m not acting in Cuckoo’s Nest,” Shea says with tongue-in-cheek wit. “I’ll be resting up in Butler after playing Salieri in Amadeus.”

Shea, who also spent a dozen years as a leading actor at Trinity Rep, says folks should brave the cold to see a show “because it will warm them up, get their brains going, their hearts beating, their emotions churning and their imaginations revived.” What better a prescription for the winter blues? Catch a preview show on the weekend of March 8-10 or enjoy a regular show from March 14-24. Again, tickets range from $20-$25.