Irving Berlin's America a hit at Open Eye

By Joe Moskowitz
People poured into Margaretville’s Open Eye Theater building during the first weekend in June to see Bill Tari and Cedric Taylor perform in the world premiere of playwright Chris Defaa’s “Irving Berlin’s America.”

It’s a musical about the legendary songwriter’s last night alive. Berlin spent many summers during his 101 years at his second home in Lew Beach. Several of his descendants attended the June 1performance.

Fortunately, only people poured in and the only thunder was the applause at the end. The Open Eye Theatre doesn’t fare well when the skies open up. The theatre was badly damaged by floods, with Hurricane Irene the most responsible. About $123,000 has been spent, essentially rebuilding the stage and audience area. There is still work to be done in the basement.

But Irwin Karl, who does much of the construction and electrical work at the theater, says another problem has been discovered, part of the roof leaks. It’s not related to the flood. The water wasn’t that deep, but neither are the theater’s pockets.

The O’Connor Foundation of Hobart came to the rescue with a $10,000 matching grant. But in order to get that money and to pay for the job, the theater would need another $10,000 in matching funds. This time a large number of people in the community contributed and the Open Eye is almost there. Executive Director Amie Brockway says that as of Sunday they only needed another $700 and they could start writing checks to get the roof fixed.

Leaky roofs must be repaired, but no matter what, a summer full of shows will go on, including a Youth Theater Workshop, “Too Many Frogs”, which is a play involving workshop members, Summer Short Cuts III, Mysterious Moments with Artie Martello, and more.
The Open Eye box office phone number is 586-2727.