Steve Martin comedy at Middletown Lyric Theatre

MIDDLETOWN — “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” a long running Off-Broadway hit by Steve Martin, is being performed by Middletown Lyric Theatre.

The absurdist comedy places Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso in a Parisian cafe in 1904, just before the renowned scientist transformed physics with his theory of relativity and the celebrated painter set the art world on fire with his cubism theory.

Shows will be held March 6, 7, 13 and 14. All shows will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13. The show will be directed by Nathan Greer.

“The show is a good fit, because the visual arts have always been a large part of the Middletown community as well as being this industrial, manufacturing, innovative, steel town,” said Charley Shafor, managing artistic director of Middletown Lyric Theatre. “It made sense. Here’s this little bar, these quirky patrons, and the idea that there was this meeting between Einstein and Picasso when they were in their 20s, coming together, having this conversation about the future,” Shafor said.

In Martin’s first comedy for the stage, the popular actor and screenwriter uses colorful characters to tell the story about the contributions they will later make.

Bystanders, including Picasso’ agent, the bartender and his mistress, Picasso’s date, and an elderly philosopher named Charles Dabernow Schmendimen are a few of the lively characters that add to the humor. A surprise patron later joins them at Lapin Agile, the Paris cabaret/bar that inspired Picasso’s famous oil painting, “At the Lapin Agile.”

“Guests will laugh, and laugh, because it is so funny, but I am also hoping they walk away and have a conversation, and gain an even greater appreciation of art. That’s why we’re doing this play,” Shafor said.

Sponsored by the Middletown Community Foundation, a ten-member cast will star in the show. The cast includes Michael Schlotterbeck as Freddy; Les Landen as Gaston and Sara Carbaugh as Germine. Chris Griesinger stars as Albert Einstein and Doug Malcolm stars as Pablo Picasso.

To gear up for the show prior to its opening, MLT partnered with Middletown Arts Center on an arts exhibition and a Feb. 28 Picasso-inspired brunch.

“This was done in conjunction with our show, ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile.’ We were both looking for a way to introduce our two groups of patrons to both organizations. This art-inspired collaboration is a great way to bring fine art and performance art together,” Shafor said.

As part of the collaboration, MAC will feature original art submissions by area artists that are inspired by Pablo Picasso. Art was featured at the brunch, as well as on display during the run of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”

“We are always open to having something new and different, and exposing the artists to the community. We also look for opportunities to offer the community something new and different to enjoy,” said Patt Belisle, executive director of the Middletown Arts Center.

MLT’s season will continue with “Forbidden Broadways Greatest Hits” on April 17, 18 and April 24, 25 and “November” on May 29, 30 and June 5, 6, Shafor said.

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