THE CRAFTSMAN – Based on the True Story of the Greatest Con Job of the 20th Century

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From the Chenango River Theatre:

From Oct. 8 – 24, Chenango River Theatre will present only the second staging of The Craftsman a new play by noted author Bruce Graham that was held over in its world premiere Philadelphia run. This is an intriguing tale of ambition, genius, and deception based on the true story of Dutch painter Han Van Meegeren, whose arrest and trial as a Nazi collaborator was a cause célèbre after World War II. A rich, reputable art dealer,
Van Meegeren had sold rare Vermeer paintings, which the Dutch consider national treasures, to the Nazis. Charged with treason and on trial for his life, the petty, passionate, manipulative and charming Van Meegeren gleefully embraces his trial to seek a revenge the prosecutors know nothing about. The Craftsman is a riveting, often humorous play, that raises sweeping questions about art and artifice, lying and forgery,
and hatred and revenge.

“A juicy slice of history…also plenty to chew on as we contemplate the world, where fame seems based on popularity, where “revenge has become a spectator sport,” and where fake has become the new normal.” The Philadelphia Inquirer Author Bruce Graham will be in attendance on opening night to see the show – CRT’s production includes revisions written after the Philadelphia premiere at The Lantern Theatre. Bruce will be onstage after the show for a 15-20 minute question and answer session with the audience.

In the lead role of Han Van Meegeren, James Wetzel returns to CRT, where his most recent appearances include The Immigrant (2019) and Taking Sides (2016). CRT’s Incoming Producing Artistic Director Zach Curtis (who will be replacing the company’s founding Artistic and Managing Director Bill Lelbach at the end of this season) has been cast as Joseph Pillel, the Dutch Resistance fighter now leading the provisional government after the Nazi’s have been driven out of the country.

Heidi Weeks (well known to Binghamton area audiences for previous roles in The Smell of the Kill, Other Desert Cities, Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help) plays Johanna, Van Meegeren’s wife. Michael Arcesi (Other Desert Cities, Of Mice and Men, Stella & Lou) plays Abraham Bredius, the renowned art critic who validated the findings of multiple lost Vermeer paintings. Josh Sedelmeyer plays Boll, the prosecutor whose
Jewish heritage influences his take on the prosecution of Van Meegeren as a traitor.

Rounding out the cast are local actors Chris Nickerson (Escanaba in da Moonlight, Blithe Spirit) and Ted Nappi (Of Mice and Men, Separation Rapid), who have also been seen in multiple productions at other area theatre companies. Directing and designing the set is CRT’s founding Artistic Director Bill Lelbach, in his final
production before retiring after serving as the company’s sole full time employee for the
last 15 years. The Craftsman is Co-Produced by IBM and an Anonymous Donor.

Running Oct. 8 – 24, tickets are $27 for all performances, except Thursday evenings are $25. The recommended way to buy tickets is at: www.chenangorivertheatre.org.
Tickets can also be purchased by calling the 24-hour box office line: 607-656-8499.
Performances are Thu/Fri/Sat at 7:30, Sundays at 2pm. The theatre is operating under CDC and NY State recommended guidelines – masks are required to be worn inside the building at all times, unless actively eating or drinking.

The theatre is being cleaned and sanitized after each performance. All performances are for “Vaccinated Audiences Only” (except Thu, Oct 21). Attendees will need to show proof of vaccination. The only exception is the Oct. 21 show, which will be for an “Open Audience” – on this one night proof of vaccination will not be
required (masks will still need to be worn at all times).

FREE TICKETS for high school and college students are available at all performances. Email tickets@chenangorivertheatre for reservations, which are required for the free ticket program. Chenango River Theatre’s intimate, air-conditioned 99 seat theatre is just 15 minutes north of Binghamton at 991 State Highway 12, Greene, NY. CRT operates under annual contract with Actors’ Equity Association, the national association for professional actors and stage managers in the United States.
CRT’s 2021 season is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts
with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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