by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Everyone wants a perfect night out, and we’ve come up with twelve of them. Looking over the choices, 2013 is going to be memorable theater-wise. You want diversity? The Berkshires will play host to some unusual characters, from the Marx Brothers to Young Frankenstein, who will be featured side by side with William Shakespeare, Edith Wharton and Bertolt Brecht. All invite both savvy locals and jaded New Yorkers to refresh their theatrical taste buds. Classics and new works get vigorous productions as new scripts vie with old chestnuts to dazzle and delight at night, even as the green landscape and blue skies imbue the days with wonder.
This list does not limit its choices to the four major Berkshire theater companies, or theater alone for that matter. Instead it extends its view well beyond the Berkshires so as to include a couple of hidden gems that join the better known crowd-pleasers. A confession: limiting the choice to just a dozen was almost impossible, so you will find others carefully nestled within the descriptions themselves.
“Animal Crackers” – Williamstown Theatre Festival
The Marx Brothers got their start in vaudeville and developed their distinct personas from the comic ethnic stereotypes of that genre. They then came to Broadway in 1925 to make a name for themselves in “legitimate” theater with “The Cocoanuts.” But it was a very different Broadway, and there was nothing “legitimate” about the Four Marx Brothers (Zeppo was still part of the act), who were true originals. The WTF is presenting a new adaptation of George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind’s 1928 stage vehicle for the brothers, directed by Paul Wishcamper, (already a big hit at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre) on the Main Stage. Will we see actors pretending to be Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo? Or will the performers put their own spin on classic lines such as: “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” (June 26-July 14) (Burns) http://www.wtfestival.org/