Featured photo above: The cast of Sondheim Tribute Revue, clockwise: Kaileigh Reiss, Craig Juricka, Kristin Lawler, and Chris Hunter,
By Steven Froias
It takes an equal amount of fortitude and passion to launch a professional theater company in the best of times. And deep reserves of each to keep it going through a world-wide pandemic Indeed, live theater across the United States is still grappling with the fall-out from that extraordinary event.
Yet, Seaglass Theater Company – the self-described vagabond company presenting creative performances of classical music, theater & beyond – has proven that being bold is the ticket to success on stage. Since 2016 – and even during the pandemic – it has continued to offer New Bedford area audiences unique, professional theater. In so doing, it has developed a dedicated fan base who appreciate its artistry and thoughtfulness. So much so that despite all challenges, the group is now planning to offer those supporters a full season in 2024.
Before that, though, they’ll be returning once again to Gallery X, 169 William Street, New Bedford for a Sondheim Tribute Revue on Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday, Nov. 5. It’s a taste of what sets Seaglass apart.
The revue is, says Seaglass Artistic Director Patrice Tiedemann, a special show licensed by the folks who handle the artistic legacy of the legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim.
“It was conceived after his passing,” Tiedmann says – and came with specific guidelines but room for creative companies like Seaglass to express some individuality. “The company can only do songs from shows that have appeared on Broadway,” she explains, “and only three from any given show.”
That still leaves a vast songbook for any singer to contemplate, as anyone familiar with Sondheim’s prolific and amazing output is no doubt familiar with. Four professional singers will bring the song choices to life after a process of creative development with Seaglass.
Collaboration with professional performers – and also local community artists and other groups – is a hallmark of the Seaglass approach, according to Tiedemann.
“We asked the singers ‘what would be useful to you as an artist’?,” she says, and also thought about their voices as a company and suggested some songs. “It’s a real collaborative process with the artists, which results in a much more organic and honest performance.”
That ethos applies to other arts organizations in New Bedford; Seaglass has worked with DATMA and enjoys a great relationship with Gallery X, where the vagabonds frequently find a home.
And it certainly applies to the audience. Recognizing that some of their offerings – such as opera – may be novel to the area, they applied for and received a New Bedford Local Cultural Council grant which allowed the company to offer free tickets to the community by way of introduction. It’s important to establish a dialogue with patrons, Tiedemann believes – and likes to say, “If you like what we do, please tell everybody what we do! If you don’t like what we do, please tell me.”
People like it. In spite of the pandemic, Seaglass has forged ahead under the guidance of Patrice, as well as Dr. Matthew Larson, Music Director and David McCarty, Artistic Adviser, and is a participant in the Southcoast Community Foundation’s Building Blocks program. It’s helping them plan and mount that full season for 2024, which will be announced soon.
After bringing Stephen Sondheim to Gallery X. When asked what her favorite Sondheim song is, Patrice Tiedemann replies “Not a day goes by.”
As Seaglass merrily rolls along, it’s clear that not a day goes by without the company moving boldly forward and fulfilling their quest to bring unique and meaningful theater to the greater New Bedford region.
- Join Seaglass Theater Company for a journey through the musical world of Stephen Sondheim – one of the most celebrated figures in the history of theater – on either Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday, November 5 at 3:00 p.m. at Gallery X, 169 William Street, New Bedford. The staged concert features 4 outstanding vocalists and a 3 piece band bringing his iconic songs to the stage. Tickets are $20-$30 and can be purchased via Eventbrite here.