“The Rocky Horror Show” on Stage, Not the Screen [Berkshire on Stage]

October 18th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

Let’s do the Time Warp again!! This deliberately kitschy rock ‘n’ roll sci-fi musical is more fun than ever when it’s performed live on stage! Just in time for Halloween, this audience favorite featuring a live cast and a live band is an experience you will not want to miss!

Town Players of Pittsfield present Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at the Berkshire Community College’s Boland Theater in Pittsfield, opening at 8pm on Friday (October 20), as directed by Matthew T. Teichner.

Teichner has worked on well over 100 productions as director, designer and/or stage manager over his nearly 30-year theatrical career. He has won numerous awards for directing and design, and his production of Rent at The Egg won Best Musical for 2011 in the Times Union Readers’ Poll. For the second run of his production of Rent in 2011, Teichner had the honor of working with Daniel Weiss, who was the Associate Conductor of the original Broadway production, and David Malachowski (currently touring guitarist for the Rent 20 national tour). Teichner is also a concert lighting designer and has done lighting for over 200 national and international touring artists.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Color Purple” @ Proctors

October 13th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Greg
Cynthia Erivo and the cast of The Color Purple on Broadway

Cynthia Erivo and the cast of “The Color Purple” on Broadway

Review by Greg Haymes
NOTE: The photograph is of the Broadway cast, not the national touring company which is presenting the show at Proctors.

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, the stage musical of “The Color Purple” launched its national tour at Proctors in Schenectady this week, and the tale is far from a typical musical comedy. In fact, it’s not a musical comedy at all, but rather a musical drama, chronicling the trials and tribulations of Celie (Adrianna Hicks), a young black woman in the Deep South in the early 20th century.

And although her struggles are many and often seemingly insurmountable, the show is ultimately a rich and emotionally uplifting one, following Celie’s journey from passivity to defiance and independence. Unfortunately, the second act moves a bit too quickly and the motivation for her self-empowerment is never fully explained. Likewise with her husband, Mister (Grady Gregory), whose reasons for his shifts in attitude aren’t explored or thoroughly explained.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Gaslight” @ Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]

October 11th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
Kim Stauffer and Mark H. Dold as Mr. & Mrs. Manningham.

Kim Stauffer and Mark H. Dold as Mr. & Mrs. Manningham

Review by Macey Levin

“Gaslighting” refers to the attempt to surreptitiously drive someone to insanity. This sinister act is at the core of Patrick Hamilton’s play Gaslight, now receiving a stellar production at Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company. First produced in London in 1938, it was presented in the United States in 1941 under the title Angel Street starring Leo G. Carroll, Vincent Price and Judith Evelyn. The film with Ingrid Bergman (Academy Award for best actress,) Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten and a very young Angela Lansbury was released in 1944. There have been subsequent theater and film versions.

Set in London in 1880, the play is a classic example of Victorian melodrama. Mr. Manningham (Mark H. Dold) holds his wife Bella (Kim Stauffer) with a tight rein while subtly creating situations that convince her that she is slowly losing her mind, just as had happened to her mother. There is a third-floor apartment, presumably locked, in their newly acquired house where Manningham sneaks into at night when he is supposed to be at his club discussing business. When Bella complains that she hears footsteps in the apartment, he ridicules her and says her mind is playing tricks.

There are other devices he uses to compound her fears as he threatens her with punishments. He also demeans her in front of servants, especially the young Nancy (Ali Rose Dachis) with whom he shamelessly flirts in front of Bella. The housekeeper Elizabeth (Peggy Pharr Wilson) is the only support Bella has, but she is not in a position to do anything but comfort her.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “John Ball’s ‘In the Heat of the Night’” @ SLCA [Berkshire on Stage]

October 10th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

Chief Gillespie needs the help of travelling Detective Virgil Tibbs to solve a murder that has brought the town of Argo, Alabama to a boiling point. (l-r: Chris Foster as Chief Gillespie and Aileem Penn as Mister Tibbs). Photo by Adam Wilson-Hwang.

Review by Barbara Waldinger

It has been said that a director’s hand should be invisible; that his/her job is to bring the text to life from the page to the stage without imposing an alien concept onto the material. However, there are times when a directorial concept is so powerful that it transforms the way we see a play. Patrick White’s smashing yet minimalist directorial debut of John Ball’s “In the Heat of the Night” at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts in Averill Park is one of those times.

In the Heat of the Night has gone through several incarnations and spawned diverse progeny. Initially a novel by Schenectady native John Ball, in 1967 it was converted into a popular film written by Stirling Silliphant and directed by Norman Jewison. Starring Sidney Poitier as detective Virgil Tibbs and Rod Steiger as police chief Bill Gillespie, the movie garnered five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor (Steiger). Next was the stage play, adapted from the novel by Matt Pelfrey, which was originally produced by the Free Southern Theater, a community theatre operating from 1963 until 1980 in Mississippi, as part of the Black Theatre Movement as well as the Civil Rights Movement. Denise Nicholas, one of four founders of the FST, went on to become a writer of the successful television series based on the same characters which ran from 1988 to 1995. Two film sequels appeared in the early 1970s, and Ball went on to write many other novels featuring Virgil Tibbs. There are also a number of songs titled In the Heat of the Night, among which is a version by Ray Charles, whose music was played between scenes of the Circle Theatre Players’ production at SLCA.

In the Heat of the Night is a detective story that focuses on the relationship between Gillespie (Chris Foster), a white sheriff, and Virgil Tibbs (Aileem Penn), a visiting black detective, in 1962 Alabama, as they try to solve a murder. Racism rears its ugly head from beginning to end of this play, which takes place in the crucible of the Civil Rights era.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night” Comes to Sand Lake Center for the Arts [Berkshire on Stage]

October 5th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

Chief Gillespie needs the help of travelling Detective Virgil Tibbs to solve a murder that has brought the town of Argo, Alabama to a boiling point. (l-r: Chris Foster as Chief Gillespie and Aileem Penn as Mister Tibbs). Photo by Adam Wilson-Hwang.

At 8pm on Friday (October 6), the Sand Lake Center for the Arts in Averill Park will present the regional premiere of John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night, adapted by Matt Pelfrey from John Ball’s novel, as the opening production in the Circle Theatre Players 2017-18 subscription season. The play will run for two weekends until Sunday, October 15 and is directed by Patrick White in his SLCA debut. Tickets are $18; youth under age 18 $10.

John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night is adapted from the classic crime novel of 1965 which won Schenectady native John Ball an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel. Ball was also awarded a slice of immortality with this novel, which introduced the character of Virgil Tibbs (Aileem Penn), a black California police detective passing through the small town during the time of intense bigotry and the civil rights movement. He is the most hated man on sight by the color of his skin but proves himself indispensable to the investigation of a murder and reveals himself to be the town’s salvation.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

THEATER REVIEW: “Lost Lake” at the Unicorn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

October 4th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
Lynnette R. Freeman and Quentin Mare. Photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware.

Lynnette R. Freeman and Quentin Mare. Photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware

Review by Macey Levin

Two lonely people adrift in private worlds filled with conflict and confusion proceed to build an improbable friendship. Their story unfolds in David Auburn’s sweet and affecting play Lost Lake, beautifully directed by Daisy Walker at Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge.

Veronica (Lynnette R. Freeman) a Manhattan nurse practitioner, rents a ramshackle cottage on an upstate New York lake for a week’s summer vacation for her two young children from Hogan (Quentin Mare), a self-proclaimed handyman who isn’t very handy. She is strong and direct, while he prevaricates and offers promises that will not be fulfilled.

Visiting in the spring to look over the cottage, she discovers it needs cleaning, has to have the water burner fixed, the land-line telephone turned on, an extra bed, the dock in the lake must be repaired and a loose shutter has to be secured. Having been his home for the last year, Hogan promises his clothes and personal possessions will be gone when Veronica and the kids arrive. After some haggling about financial details, she gives him a deposit based on his guarantees. When she arrives in mid-August nothing has been done.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “Broadway Bound” @ Oldcastle [Berkshire on Stage]

October 3rd, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
Anthony J. Ingargiola and Sarah Corey. Photo: Erika Floriani

Anthony J. Ingargiola and Sarah Corey. Photo: Erika Floriani

Review by Gail M. Burns

From his perch in 1986, Neil Simon looked back to 1947 and wrote a play about the future. All the characters in Broadway Bound, the final installment in his quasi-autobiographical trilogy of plays about the Jerome family, are teetering on the verge of the precipice of change. The young people, sons Eugene (Anthony J. Ingargiola) and Stanley (Robbie Rescigno), are reaching eagerly for their future, filled with the promise of romance, adventure and success as comedy writers. Their father, Jack (Jason Asprey), is about to leave his wife and family, something their mother, Kate (Sarah Corey), knows and may or may not be ready for. And Kate’s father, Ben (Richard Howe), is clinging to his life in Brooklyn as his wife prepares to move to a retirement community in Florida.

It is a joy to see Ingargiola return to the stage at the Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington after his thoroughly winning portrayal of Huck Finn in last season’s musical Big River. His Eugene is kind and caring. He has a believable brotherly bond with Rescigno’s much more aggressively ambitious Stanley, and a truly warm rapport with Corey as his mother. The scene late in the play where Kate recounts her teenage adventure of running off to the Paradise Ballroom (when she should be sitting shiva) in order to dance with movie star George Raft requires Ingargiola to listen with love and wonder as he gains a deeper understanding of Kate as more than just his mother. That is not an easy trick to do. And when they dance – Eugene says later that he couldn’t hold his mother close because the moment was just too intimate – there is magic on the stage.

Which brings us to the delicate subject of casting. Corey is a fine actress and she gives a wonderful performance, but she is too young to play Kate. There is a time to play a role like Kate, and you need to live a while to earn that right. It took me about half an hour to be able to put this problem out of my mind and accept her as the 50-something matriarch. That I did accept her and was able to move past the age issue is a tribute to her talent and commitment to this role, but there are so many fine actresses of the right age – Oldcastle regular Christine Decker springs instantly to mind – for whom meaty roles like this are hard to find, that I still question director Eric Peterson’s choice.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

World Premiere of “Sing Me a Story” @ Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

October 2nd, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

Sing Me a Story!, a celebration of the art of the story song, makes its world premiere this weekend (October 6-8) at the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill as the final installment in its 2017 Cabaret Series. With a cast that features concert, recording and stage stars Lisa Asher, Scott Coulter and Tom Andersen, plus musical director Ian Herman, this new revue trains the spotlight on a very specific type of song – one that tells a story. Think of sixteen little one-act plays in one 80-minute show!

Utilizing songs from the worlds of country, theater, pop, and the Great American Songbook and featuring the work of such artists as The Beatles, Harry Chapin, Cole Porter and the legendary Broadway songwriting team of John Kander & Fred Ebb, this show is guaranteed sweep you away – song by song, story by story.

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