Archive for May, 2011

Be Here Now: “Zero Hour” Extended, “Avalanche” Survives @ Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield [Berkshire On Stage]

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
`Jim Brochu as Zero Mostel (photo by Stan Barouh)

Jim Brochu as Zero Mostel (photo by Stan Barouh)

As Barrington Stage Company’s (BSC) production of “Zero Hour” concludes the second week of its three week run, the word of mouth has gotten a bit out of hand. It seems that those who see this one-man show that recreates the life and times of legendary actor Zero Mostel are telling their neighbors and friends about it in glowing terms. This has set off an avalanche of phone calls for tickets at the BSC box office. With just the final weekend remaining, there are not nearly enough tickets to go around.

So what’s a theatre to do but revise their tightly planned schedules in order to find some additional playing time that will keep everyone happy.

Click to read the rest of this story at Berkshire On Stage


Tisziji Munoz, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Tisziji Munoz

Tisziji Munoz

“My earliest musical memories go back to when I started out as a drummer at the age of three or four. Of course, I wasn’t about to go out and buy anything at that age, but I was certainly open to receiving music from people in the family.

“And that would reach into the music of Tito Puente. Yes, Tito Puente and the music of Art Blakey, his Afro-Cuban explorations with the Jazz Messengers augmented by people like Ray Barretto.

“Most of the records that I was given were in the vein of Latin American music, salsa, Afro-Cuban jazz and that sort of thing. I had hundreds of albums of that kind of music when I was young.”

Jazz guitar pioneer Tisziji Munoz leads his high-octane quartet – featuring keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Bob Ra-Kalam Moses and bassist Don Pate – into Club Helsinki in Hudson at 8pm on Sunday. Tix are $18.

Be Here Now: Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano” @ the Mac-Haydn Theatre Chatham [GailSez]

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
From left: Andrea Dotto, Carl Hulden, Kelly L. Shook, Tim Quartier, John Saunders, and Karla Shook in the Mac-Haydn production of Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano."

From left: Andrea Dotto, Carl Hulden, Kelly L. Shook, Tim Quartier, John Saunders, and Karla Shook in the Mac-Haydn production of Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano."

I entered the Mac-Haydn a little on the grumpy side. I am not a fan of “revue-sicals” and I couldn’t imagine Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano being anything but. But at the conclusion, as many in the audience rose to their feet cheering the talented cast, who were clearly pleased with the work they had just done, I was happy as a clam. This is indeed a revue of songs by the inimitable Irving Berlin, but creators Ray Roderick and Michael Berkeley have crafted the piece with a singular flow and have avoided one of the major pitfalls of the genre – too much exposition painfully forced into dialogue.

You really don’t need to know that Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was born Israel Isidore Baline in Russia, emigrated with his family to New York City in 1893, dropped out of school at age eight to become a newsboy and discovered that he could sell more papers if he added a little song to his sales pitch in order to enjoy this show. Chatty critics like me can tell you all of that, and there are plenty of good biographies of Berlin out there too. You just need to know a good song, well sung, when you hear it.

They are all good songs, well sung, with some pretty nifty dancing in there too, thanks to sisters Karla and Kelly L. Shook who have directed and choreographed the show here at the Mac-Haydn after being involved with it professionally for many years. They also both appear on stage, along with Mac-Haydn favorites John Saunders and Andrea Dotto, and newcomers Tim Quartier and Carl Hulden. The combination of the Shooks personal experience with this show and with this theatre, and with Saunders and Dotto, have allowed them to tailor this production to fit the cast and venue like a Kate Middleton’s wedding gown. Perfection!

Click here to read the article at GailSez.

LIVE: Northern Water Snake @ SwordPaw HQ, 5/24/11

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The fine folks at SwordPaw Music opened the doors to their new headquarters in Troy for the first time on Tuesday, May 25, launching the space with a triple-bill performance of Matthew Carefully, North America and Northern Water Snake. Looks like the start of something big…

Photographs/slide show by Timothy Reidy

RIP: Gil Scott-Heron, 1949-2011

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron
Poet, musician, author and activist…

Gil Scott-Heron, who died on Friday, was all of those things… and more. He’s been called “the Godfather of Hip-Hop” and “the black Bob Dylan.”

He made his recording debut back in 1970 with “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” and recorded more than a dozen albums over the course of the next 12 years. His most recent album, last year’s “I’m New Here,” was his first new studio album in more than 15 years.


Be Here Now: “Women of Will: The Complete Journey” 2011 @ Shakespeare & Company [GailSez]

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Tina Packer in "Women of Will: The Complete Journey" at Shakespeare & Company. 2010 Photo: Kevin Sprague

Tina Packer in "Women of Will: The Complete Journey" at Shakespeare & Company. 2010 Photo: Kevin Sprague

Late last August, as I staggered into the homestretch of a stressful and frenetically busy season of reviewing, I took two days off from my day job to do something I REALLY wanted to do – go to the theatre. I was one of about 100 people who saw all five parts of Tina Packer’s “Women of Will: The Complete Journey” over a period of forty-eight hours beginning Wednesday night and ending late Friday afternoon. The setting was one of the rehearsal/meeting rooms in the Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts, which was rapidly rearranged and redecorated for each performance. And while my fellow audience members enjoyed lovely luncheon or went into Lenox to catch a meal in between the morning and afternoon shows on Thursday and Friday, I sat huddled in the stage managers’ office, typing frantically, subsisting on Diet Coke and Rice Krispie Treats. Being a theatre critic is soooo glamorous!

The results of my work can be read HERE.

They and this comprehensive May 2011 press release from Shakespeare & Company will give you a thorough overview of the history and the content of this five-part experience. While I do joke about the special kind of theatrical insanity that makes people like me sit through 12 ½ hours of theatre in two days, seeing the show in this format was physically and mentally exhausting. There was a Woodstock-type comradery amongst us “Five-Parters” in the audience. (Some sissies came for just one or two parts!) But if we were tired just watching, you can imagine how punch-drunk exhausted Pack, Nigel Gore, director Eric Tucker, and the stage managers and tech crew were. PHEW!

Click to read the entire story at GailSez.

Festival Fever: The Lake Elvis Festival, 6/2-5/11

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Lake George Elvis Festival

Got Elvis?

Oh yeah!

America’s Vacationland is once again gearing up to shake, rattle ‘n’ roll with the eighth annual Lake George festival dedicated to all things Elvis.

This year’s Elvis Festival kicks off at 7:30pm on Thursday with the free opening ceremonies in beautiful Shepard Park. Ronny Craig will serve as master of ceremonies, and you’ll get the opportunity to hear many of the fest’s sideburned headliners free of charge, including the 2009 Ultimate Elvis Champion Bill Cherry and the 2010 Elvis Festival ’70s champion Mark Anthony. Other Elvis tribute artists slated to perform include Dwight Icenhower, Lance Dobinson, Denny Diamond, Ted Torres, Jesse Aaron and Mark Gagnon.

According to organizers, Lake George’s Presley party is now the second-largest Elvis Tribute Artist Competition in the world. (Yeah, please don’t call ‘em Elvis impersonators. They’re Tribute Artists.)


Happy Birthday, Clint!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Yup, Clint Eastwood celebrates his 81st birthday today.

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