Boyd Gaines, Jan Maxwell, Stark Sands and More to Relive Community Theater Roots in STARRY, STARRY NIGHT in the Catskills

Some of the Great White Way's most esteemed community theater alumni will go back to their earliest roots upstate over Memorial Day weekend when Starry, Starry Night is staged on Saturday, May 27th. The one-night-only event is a benefit for STS Playhouse, a community theater located in Phoenicia, in the heart of the Catskills.

The fundraiser will serve as the kick-off of a capitol campaign to fund a major renovation and expansion of The Playhouse, with those exciting plans to be announced at the event.

STS Artistic Director and Phoenicia resident Michael Koegel explains, "As Phoenicia grows, we want The Playhouse too to also evolve in ways that best serve our community. This evening will mark the beginning of our journey towards these goals, and we plan to make it a fun and memorable night of entertainment!"

Ticket holders of Starry, Starry Night will be treated to an evening of one-act play readings directed by Koegel and performed by an illustrious group of talent who will also participate in a post-show Q&A. The participating actors are Boyd Gaines (Contact, Gypsy, Driving Miss Daisy, four-time Tony Award winner), Jan Maxwell (Follies, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Royal Family, Drama Desk Award winner and five-time Tony Award nominee), Gemma Clarke Sands (the Louis Malle film, Damage), Byron Jennings (She Loves Me, You Can't Take It With You, TV's Boardwalk Empire), Robert Emmet Lunney (Fox TV's The Exorcist, Dancing on Lughnasa, A Delicate Balance), Carolyn McCormick (Drama Desk Award winner/Equus and Private Lives, TV's Law and Order), Kathleen McNenny (Fish in the Dark, Death of a Salesman, TV's Law and Order), Ellen Parker (The Heidi Chronicles, Equus, TV's Guiding Light and Law and Order), and Stark Sands (American Idiot, two-time Tony Award nominee for Kinky Boots and Journey's End).

The participating performers all share a common appreciation for Community Theater, and towards the Catskill Mountain region. As Jan Maxwell reflects, "The community theater in my hometown of Fargo, North Dakota was definitely the spark for the passion I feel about theater. Ten years ago, when looking for a place near Phoenicia, my heart did a triplet when I saw the theater in town. It was the selling point on buying a house nearby. I have very much enjoyed the productions throughout the years, and I am so happy to be involved with this important benefit." Kathleen McNenny chimes in, "I hail from Missoula, Montana and my beginnings in theater started with my local 4-H troupe and then my community theater. When I moved to Chichester, going to an STS production became a big part of our becoming familiar with the community up here. The shows are fantastic! I am so grateful to have STS in our community, and delighted to be a part of this benefit evening. "

The plays performed will be: Brights, Litter, and Good Flop Bad Flop, all written by Ulster county resident David Smilow, as well as A Long Trip by Dan McGeehan and Fun by Catherine Butterfield. Directors Guild of America Award winner and former Senior Director of The Guiding Light Bruce Barry, of Chichester, will serve as Executive Producer.

A pre-show cocktail hour will be held at 6:30 pm in the spacious pavilion of the Phoenicia Diner, 5681 State Route 28, Phoenicia, with hors d'oeuvres and wine served while attendees mix and mingle with the actors and bid on silent auction items to include bed and breakfast and inn stays, prizes and gift cards from area merchants and restaurants, private treatments, classes, and other personalized experiences from Catskill area artisans and therapists, theater memorabilia, and much more. At 8:30, the fun will continue down the road at STS, located at 10 Church Street, Phoenicia. In between acts, a live auction of premium items will be auctioned off, including private fly fishing lessons from a local master fisherman, personalized naming rights to a summer drink special at the world famous Phoenicia Diner, and a two-night stay in a Regal Suite at Mt. Tremper's recently renovated Emerson Resort & Spa, with a $200 Spa voucher and dinner for two at Woodnotes Grill. The Emerson is also offering a special Starry Starry Night in Phoenicia weekend stay that includes a discounted two-night stay and tickets to the event. Further information can be found at

Tickets to the event are $125 each and are available at, or by phone at (845) 688-1369.

As an added bonus, each Starry, Starry Night ticket comes with a one-year membership to STS, including one ticket to each of four performances planned over the 2017-18 season.

Further information is available at or at the STS Facebook page,

Launched as the Shandaken Theatrical Society in 1976, STS remains a pillar of the Phoenicia community. STS is staffed by dedicated volunteers who produce a diverse array of programming, including musicals, contemporary and classic plays, original works by regional playwrights, cabaret performances, a film series, and annual free family holiday show, readings, performances by local musicians, and workshops for both adults and children.

Photo credit: Gemma Clarke Sands and Stark Sands outside STS Playhouse, Phoenicia, NY. Photo by Mark Loete.

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