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Unique Reading to Serve as a Katonah Classic Stage Benefit

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Katonah Classic Stage prides itself as a professional theater that uses Broadway talent and other accomplished performers to entertain local audiences by offering productions of the classics.


State Sen. Peter Harckham and County Legislator Erika Pierce and some of their colleagues in government will be on stage Saturday night not for a political rally but for a reading of Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.” The event will serve as a fundraiser for Katonah Classic Stage.

This Saturday night will be a bit different.

The stars of the show will be a cast of 10 mostly local, county and state elected officials who will come together for a reading of Neil’s Simon’s comedy “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” at the Bedford Hills Community House. Scheduled cast members are County Executive George Latimer, state Sen. Peter Harckham, Assemblyman Chris Burdick, County Legislator Erika Pierce and several members of the Town of Bedford government.

The cast is rounded out by Larry Reina, an assistant New York State attorney general, and Katonah Classic Stage board member Sam Morell.

“I don’t think anybody up there is pretending to be Laurence Olivier but it should be a fun, spirited, fun night out for everybody involved,” said Sharron Kearney, the theater company’s co-founder and executive director. “I think it’s a good opportunity for them to engage with our audience, it’s a great opportunity to show everybody that we do have their support at the local government level, which is huge for us as a new theater company.”

The event is actually a benefit for the still new nonprofit theater group. Established in Bedford in late 2019, Katonah Classic Stage had to halt with the onset of the pandemic a few months later and only gave its first full performance in the fall of 2021. Last month, it was announced that the company will begin its run as the professional theater company at its new home base at Whippoorwill Hall in Armonk. Their first production there, “Later Life,” will open on Apr. 27.

Co-founder and Artistic Director Trent Dawson said Saturday evening should be full of laughs and a good time for everyone. It also serves a need to bring quality local theater closer to home, he said.

“In a post-COVID world, people are eager to go out, but maybe they don’t want to travel all the way down to the city to see a show,” Dawson said. “With our Main Stage shows, we are giving people the option to see Broadway talent minutes from home.”

The idea for the evening was hatched by Morell, who has been a fountain of ideas since joining Katonah Classic Stage’s board, Kearney said. Of course, there was no guarantee that the elected officials would give up a weekend evening and run the risk of possibly embarrassing themselves, but their support for the benefit has been unwavering, she said. Everyone who was invited accepted the opportunity.

“It was kind of a unique idea, and then I have to say everybody was really eager to jump on board,” Kearney said. “We weren’t sure what kind of reception we were going to get when we extended the invitations, but everybody was really gracious in their acceptance.”

Of course, some of the cast members have had some stage experience but most don’t, she said.

But it helped to make the choice of going away from the classics for the reading, according to Dawson. He initially was toying with presenting something from Aristophanes, but then realized he was overthinking. It’s hard to go wrong with anything from Neil Simon.

Dawson also hopes this isn’t a one-off, and that they can occasionally schedule future readings with officials or other prominent people from different communities.

“I think it’s something we’ll continue if it goes well, and I think it will,” he said.

The cost of a ticket starts at $25 and is a donation to Katonah Classic Stage. Concessions will be available for purchase.

For more information about the evening, Katonah Classic Stage or for tickets, visit

The Bedford Hills Community House is located at 74 Main St. in Bedford Hills.



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