Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

Review: “It’s a Wonderful Life” Returns to Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, December 15th, 2014
It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play runs from Dec. 5-28. (photo: Enrico Spada)

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play runs from Dec. 5-28. (photo: Enrico Spada)

Theater review and discussion by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray (Reprinted from the December 12, 2013 review)

Larry Murray: What can be more fitting for the holidays than It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play which is the story of idealistic George Bailey as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. Do you agree that Shakespeare & Company in Lenox captured all the magic of Frank Capra’s classic 1946 holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life in this production?

Gail M. Burns: Darned if I know. I am one of the few adult Americans who has never seen the film all the way through. This iteration, adapted by Joe Landry from the screenplay by Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, and Jo Swerling, reimagines the story as performed by five stalwart radio actors on a snowy Christmas Eve when the sound effects guy gets stuck in the blizzard and can’t get to the studio. We, the studio audience for the broadcast, get the fun of watching them cope with the emergency and perform all the music and sound effects as well as the well-worn story of George Bailey.

Larry: Landry didn’t miss a single plot point of the film, and the five actors created the dozens of characters with just their voices. It was astonishing to hear Ryan Winkles change his voice instantly from Clarence the angel (second class) to Bert the cop. He played a dozen roles, as did favorite Jonathan Croy and the amazing Jennie M. Jadow. These chameleons changed accent, tone and cadence from one character to the next like racers taking the hairpin turn on the Mohawk Trail.

Gail: David Joseph and Sarah Jeanette Taylor anchor the story as George Bailey and the woman he marries, Mary Hatch. They also provide much of the charming music, with Taylor on piano and Joseph as the lead vocalist. The whole show, but especially the music, was charming in its simplicity and beauty, with many songs sung virtually a cappella. Joseph plinks out a few notes on the xylophone and Winkles bravely tackles a trombone riff, but Jadow on violin and Taylor on piano provide the melodic lines.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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Sarah Ruhl’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” to Get Reading at GB’s Homespun Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
The cast includes (l to r) Cristina Bertocci, Patrick Toole, Frederikke Borge, Andrew Joffe, Hanna Kenny and Johanne Keston.

The cast includes (l to r) Cristina Bertocci, Patrick Toole, Frederikke Borge, Andrew Joffe, Hanna Kenny and Johanne Keston.

Homespun Theatre arrives on the Berkshire theater scene with a staged reading of Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl. It will take place on Saturday (December 6) at 7pm and Sunday (December 7) at 3:00pm at Lauren Clark Fine Art on 25 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, MA.

The play tells the story of Jean, a woman who finds a dead man sitting in a café and decides to answer his ringing cell phone. She becomes swept up in his life, finding herself connected to the people who loved him most, determined to finish his unfinished business. As Jean’s imagination takes over, heaven and earth become intertwined, the lines between truth and fable blur. She’s forced to confront her own assumptions of morality, redemption, and connection in a technologically obsessed world. Does technology hide us from true human connection?

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

The Pantaloons’ Annual Treat in Ghent: “Ali Baba and the Four Tea Thieves” [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

the Pantaloons

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

In these days when wages are stagnant, money is tight and the rabid consumerism of the late 20th century has lost all its luster, we are being encouraged to spend what disposable income we have on experiences, rather than objects. At the Ghent Playhouse, a $20 investment buys you one of the best holiday experiences available – a ticket to the Panto! And this year’s offering – Ali Baba and the Four Tea Thieves – is a gift that will keep on giving as you fondly recall the groaningly bad, er, good jokes, the hilarious costumes, and the wonderful songs.

What is a Panto? Well, it is a British theatrical tradition for the holiday season. Basically you take a familiar fairy tale or folk tale, have all the men play the women and the women play the men, add lots of new and (hopefully) witty lyrics to well-known tunes, and ignore the plot completely. There is lots of audience interaction – you get to boo the villians and sing along a bit and shout “He’s right behind you!” and such – and there’s a healthy mixture of topical humor on current events along with good old fashioned schtick. Only the most conservative and humorless of folks can fail to be amused by the goings-on.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Madcap Time Again as the PantoLoons Take Ghent Playhouse Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
The Pantoloons take a bow in last year’s panto “SleepFrog” at The Ghent Playhouse. (photo: Daniel Region)

The Pantoloons take a bow in last year’s panto “SleepFrog” at the Ghent Playhouse. (photo: Daniel Region)

Opening Friday (November 28) and running through Sunday, December 14, the Ghent Playhouse will present the PantoLoons’ fifteenth production. This year, the madcap troupe will present “Ali Baba and the Four Tea Thieves,” a new, heretofore untold, version of the Two Thousand and One Nights story of Ali Baba. The number of PantoLoons in the company necessitated this adaptation, thus Four Tea Thieves instead of Forty. Thus tea becomes the prize commodity instead of oil, leaving plenty of room for commentary on today’s mores.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

WAM Theatre’s “In Darfur” Places the Audience Right in the Middle of a War Zone [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, November 7th, 2014
A gripping story, based on actual events.

A gripping story, based on actual events

Review by Larry Murray

WAM Theatre presents “IN DARFUR” by Winter Miller; directed by Kristen van Ginhoven; coordinating producer – Jessica Provenz; scenic designer – JulianaVon Haubrich; costume designer – Govane Lohbauer; lighting designer – Natalie Robin; sound and projections design – Brad Berridge; fight director – Douglas Seldin.
Cast – Maryke – Tricia Alexandro; Jan/Ensemble – Christina Gordon; Male Ensemble – Marcus D. Harvey; Hamida – Shannon Harris; Male Ensemble/Fight Caprain – Warren Jackson; Carlos – Rich Lounello; Hawa – Sipiwe Moyo. 90 minutes, no intermission. October 30-November 16, 2014. At the Berry Family Studio at the Elayne P. Bernstein Center on the campus of Shakespeare and Company located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox, MA. http://www.wamtheatre.com or call the box office at 413-637-3353.

That genocide exists in our modern civilization is almost unfathomable. Isn’t mankind better than this?

From the comfort of our homes we find it difficult to grasp how the human mind can justify the killing of thousands of others just because they are different. How can people’s capacity for compassion be so often overwhelmed by a hatred of the “other” – those of a different religion, nationality or just some poor folks who are taking up too much space on land you covet.

WAM Theatre, which is located in the bucolic Berkshires of Massachusetts, chose Winter Miller’s difficult play IN DARFUR for its fifth season offering, and which is currently being performed in the Berry Family Studio at the Elayne P. Bernstein Center at Shakespeare & Company through Sunday, November 16. Brilliantly staged by Kristen van Ginhoven, it is an immersive theatrical experience that begins long before you enter the playing space itself: the hallways themselves are lined with fencing, signage and the accumulated rubbish of a hastily organized refugee camp.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Elska Is a Storyteller, Pioneer & a New Island for All Ages @ MASS MoCA [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Elska

She has been described as the Bjork of kids’ music. Her imagination runneth over.

Indie pop siren Elska, who has purportedly discovered a newly formed volcanic island off the coast of Iceland, makes “crazy awesome electronic funderworld faerie tunes for the whole family,” says our friend, Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco. Bring the kids to explore her wacky world in MASS MoCA’s Club B-10 at 2pm on Saturday (November 8).

With her signature blend of theater, storytelling and musical performance, Brooklyn-based Shelley Wollert becomes modern pioneer Elska, delighting children with her amazing tale of island discovery. Working closely with record producer and Iceland-phile Allen Farmelo, Wollert developed Elska’s world – a vibrant cast of characters that join her for fantastical adventures on the Island of Elska.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

LIVE: The Amsterdam Halloween Parade, 10/25/14

Friday, October 31st, 2014

The Amsterdam Halloween Parade

Review and photographs by Stanley Johnson

I took a walk with the living dead along Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam on Saturday (October 25). Not only were there zombies everywhere, but all kinds of ghosts, vampires, werewolves and fairy princesses, too. It was the City of Amsterdam’s annual Halloween Parade, and the weather was too nice to be spooky.

I walked with Abigail (dressed as an eskimo maid) and her elementary school group from Barkley Microsociety in Division 2 of the parade. Others groups in the division included McNulty Academy, Techler Arts in Education, St. Mary’s Institute, Marie Curie Institute, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts and the Amsterdam High School Cheerleaders.

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WAM Theatre’s “In Darfur” Promises to Deliver a Powerful, Immersive Experience [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

By Larry Murray

Ever since WAM Theatre emerged five years ago it has never played by rules of traditional theatre. Certainly its productions are top quality, but the company has a mission to make a powerful impact on the lives of women, both locally and globally.

That becomes more visible than ever before with its fifth annual fall production, where artistic director Kristen van Ginhoven has selected a play that typifies the company’s mission while transporting its audiences to places it has likely never been before.

The New England premiere of In Darfur, by Winter Miller, will place its audience in the middle of a refugee camp, with all the turmoil and heartbreak that suggests, balanced with moments of humor and deep caring. Tickets are now available through Shakespeare & Company, where the play will run from October 30–November 16 in the Berry Family Studio. Opening night, Saturday, November 1, is already sold out. Press performance is Sunday, November 2 at 2:30pm.

As a play, In Darfur is the compelling, provocative tale of three lives that intersect in the most challenging of circumstances: a camp for internally displaced persons. The story follows the mission to protect lives by an aid worker (Rich Lounello), the quest for safety of a Darfuri woman (Sipiwe Moyo) along with her struggle to maintain her dignity, and the dogged pursuit of a journalist (Tricia Alexandro) to deliver a front-page story that will focus the world’s attention on a humanitarian crisis.Timely, moving, and laced with unexpected humor, In Darfur is a journey of courage and humanity in the face of peril.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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