Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

“Spring Awakening” Soars with Youthful Energy in Theatre Institute at Sage College Production [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, April 24th, 2015
L to R Amelia Morgan, Annaleigh Lester, Katie Pedro, Taylor Hoffman, Kelci Loring.

L to R Amelia Morgan, Annaleigh Lester, Katie Pedro, Taylor Hoffman, Kelci Loring.

Review by Larry Murray and Gail M. Burns

Larry Murray: With book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, the 2006 Tony Award-winning alternative rock musical “Spring Awakening” is now playing at Sage College’s audience-friendly Meader Little Theatre in Troy. Last performance is Sunday (April 26). I am putting all this information up front because this review is more of a “must see” reader advisory: this production with its youthful cast is directed by Leigh Strimbeck and utilizes a functional and ingenious set by Juliana Haubrich.

Gail M. Burns: The Theatre Institute at Sage is a great company that is doing some really great theatre. TIS is only five years old, but it is carrying on the tradition established on its campus by the now defunct New York State Theatre Institute, which utilized Sage facilities, faculty and students to provide quality theatre for schools and the general public from 1974-2010. The connection with Sage was NYSTI’s greatest asset, and in turn the company helped the Sage Colleges develop a robust theatre curriculum. It is not at all surprising to see what talented students select Sage today.

Larry: We haven’t had a chance to see this cutting edge musical much in these parts, the only production I can remember is the one at the University at Albany Department of Theatre which was last year. None of our Equity companies, nor even the Mac-Haydn or Theater Barn have staged it. That may because the music is so important to the whole production, and it requires violin, cello and bass in addition to piano, drums and guitar. Two or three synthesizers will never do the score justice. I was as impressed with the accomplished musicians and Music Director Marcus Schlegel, as with the actors. The cellist, Erin Rousseau, on whom much of the melody line rests, has a vibrato and intonation that infused the songs with real heart.

Gail: I saw a production of the 1890/91 Franz Wedekind play of the same name, upon which this musical is based, at Williams College many years ago. “Spring Awakening” is an ideal college show because you need to have a young cast and a fairly sophisticated audience. Really, the best way to “get away with” staging this fierce and graphic material is to bill it as education. The play has a prominent role in the development of 20th century theater, and, as you mentioned, this musical version has made history, too.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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“An Iliad,” Homer’s Epic Story of Undying Love, Chaos & Humanity @ Hubbard Hall [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

AnIlliad

By Larry Murray

Masterfully adapted by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare from Robert Fagles’s acclaimed translation, An Iliad adapts Homer’s Trojan War epic into a gripping piece of theater that captures both the heroism and horror of war. This fierce, funny piece will ignite your imagination and leave you breathless. It stars Jeannine Haas and is directed by Sheila Siragusa at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, in a co-production with Pauline Productions.

Greek poet Homer’s 8th-century B.C. epic, “The Iliad,” told the story of the mythical 10-year Trojan War, featuring two warrior heroes, the wrathful Greek, Achilles, and noble Hector, the peace-loving Trojan prince. Now, a lone poet travels through time, wearily sharing her often-anguished memories of that war-mongering, vengeful time nearly three millennia ago.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

C-R Productions Says Goodbye to Cohoes Music Hall with Two Gala Shows This Weekend [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
Tony Rivera (l) and Jim Charles (r) at Cohoes Music Hall

Tony Rivera (l) and Jim Charles (r) at Cohoes Music Hall

After a dozen years of staging musicals at the Cohoes Music Hall, C-R Productions is closing the curtain on its main-stage shows to focus on its performing arts school and youth performances. Marking the end of one era and the beginning of another are two concerts to say goodbye on Saturday and Sunday (April 25 & 26).

The company has fallen on hard times in recent years and has found it impossible to financially maintain main stage shows at the venue in Cohoes. The gala benefit shows will also serve as the springboard for continuing its C-R Kids programs.

The company produced many memorable shows during its dozen years of operation, at one point even taking its production of the The Producers to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. But during recent years the quality of its productions and size of its audiences sagged and subscribers dwindled to just some 300. Many of them were older and not as receptive to new work as musical theatre has evolved. That is not enough to sustain a company that hires professional talent and has always tried to keep up with the evolving art form. Their operation also suffered from inadequate PR, often opening shows without detailed press releases or photos in sufficient time to generate advance stories that might have helped sell more tickets. Physical problems with the theatre itself – a leftover from the Victorian era – also drained valuable resources.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Justin Long, Blair Underwood, Estelle Parsons, More Cast for Williamstown Theatre Fest [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Williamstown Theatre Festival

In Williamstown, the stars come out during the daytime as well as at night when the Williamstown Theatre Festival is in season.

Here’s a guide of some of the luminaries to be on the lookout for thanks to WTF’s artistic director Mandy Greenfield, who has announced additional casting for Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Main Stage and Nikos Stage productions for the upcoming summer season, which kicks off on Tuesday, June 30 and runs through Sunday, August 23.

On the Main Stage:

Becky Ann Baker (returning for her 13th season at WTF), Aaron Costa Ganis (WTF’s Whaddabloodclot!!!), Howard W. Overshown (Julius Caesar), Academy Award-winner Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde) and Mary Wiseman (An Octoroon) join Kyra Sedgwick in Off the Main Road (June 30-July 19).

Tony Award-nominee De’Adre Aziza (Passing Strange), Andre Holland (Selma), Keith Randolph Smith (Fences) and Blair Underwood (“Sex and the City,” A Streetcar Named Desire) all join the cast of the world premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Paradise Blue (July 22-August 2).

Aaron Costa Ganis and Howard W. Overshown also join the cast of A Moon for the Misbegotten (August 5-August 23), with Audra McDonald and Will Swenson.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

WAM Theatre to Open Fresh Takes Series with “Silence,” Directed by Tod Randolph [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, April 13th, 2015
Moira Buffini’s “Silence” is the first Fresh Takes play reading of 2015

Moira Buffini’s “Silence” is the first Fresh Takes play reading of 2015

WAM Theatre has announced the cast for their staged reading of Silence by Moira Buffini, the first reading in the 2015 Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. The inaugural series last year sold out, and whetted audience appetites for more professional readings of plays that explore the lives and experiences of women and girls.

WAM Theatre will present the reading on Sunday (April 19) at 3pm at No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, 6 Depot Street in West Stockbridge.

The cast of Silence features Gregory Boover (Shakespeare & Company’s Romeo & Juliet), Doria Bramante (Ensemble for the Romantic Century’s Beethoven Love Elegies), Caroline Calkins (Shakespeare & Company’s Private Eyes), Rory Hammond (NYU’S The Scarlet Letter), Miles Harrison (Pittsfield Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Josh Aaron McCabe (Shakespeare & Company’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Acclaimed actor and director Tod Randolph, a Berkshire area favorite, will direct the reading. Jessica Sovronsky will be the stage manager.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

James Lecesne Brings “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” to Club Helsinki on Sunday [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, April 10th, 2015

James Lecesne’s “Leonard Pelkey” is a masterpiece of storytelling

James Lecesne’s “Leonard Pelkey” is a masterpiece of storytelling


By Larry Murray

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey is a one man show written and performed by James Lecesne. It has received rave reviews in New York City, so I was delighted to learn that it has been booked into Club Helsinki in Hudson for one night only on Sunday (April 12) at 8pm. Tickets are $40 reserved; $25 for limited bar seating. To secure tickets call 518.828.4800.

A show about the brutal murder of a 14-year-old boy should not, logically speaking, leave you beaming with joy. And yet that’s the paradoxical effect of “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” a superlative solo show at Dixon Place written and performed by James Lecesne, himself a pretty darn dazzling beacon of theatrical talent. When he disappeared, Leonard was wearing a pair of rainbow-colored platform sneakers that he’d made himself by gluing half a dozen flip-flops to the bottom of Converse high-tops.” – Charles Isherwood, New York Times

It was some 40 years ago that a multi-talented Emerson College student James Lecesne and I worked together, he filling the role as stage manager for Boston’s Pocket Mime Theatre at the Church of the Covenant on Newbury Street. We would spend a lot of time talking about life in general and theatre in particular. Who knew then that he would one day create and star in this wonderful and challenging play, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, which ran last month at Dixon Place in Manhattan’s lower east side. I was the fundraiser and publicist for the little mime company with a candy box stage and no dressing rooms, an early force (along with the Boston Repertory Theatre and Cambridge Ensemble) that helped start the explosive growth of theater in Boston in recent decades. Back then, mime was no easy sell, and things have not changed much in the interim. Mime still gets very little respect and is a sure-fire laugh on tv shows like “Saturday Night Live.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

All About Tina Packer’s New Book, “Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays” [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Tina Packer’s “Women of Will” becomes a book.

Tina Packer’s “Women of Will” becomes a book.

You can say it is a culmination of a lifetime studying Shakespeare and his plays, but it is more than than. It is passion on paper (or your tablet) as well.

Today (Tuesday, April 7), Tina Packer, Shakespeare & Company’s Founding Artistic Director, actor, writer and one of the country’s foremost experts on Shakespeare is launching her new book Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays (336 pages, $27.95). The launch will be followed by more than a month of promotional activity. Published by Knopf, Women of Will is a fierce and witty exploration — part master class, part brilliant analysis — of the women in Shakespeare’s plays that illuminates Shakespeare’s changing understanding of the feminine and reveals some of his deepest insights.

Packer has synthesized 40 years of teaching, textual analysis and stage experience into Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays, which charts Shakespeare’s evolution and his increasingly empathetic and nuanced portrayal of his female characters. It follows Shakespeare’s development from youth to enlightened maturity and explores the spiritual journey he undertook. Most importantly, Packer grapples not only with the language and the historical context of the plays but with them as they were and are actually performed.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Berkshire Theatre Group Offers Tempting Array of Comedy, Drama and Musicals in 2015 [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
In addition to top Equity actors, the Berkshire Theatre Group trains students who are are serious about preparing themselves for a career in theatre arts and are part of the upcoming 86th season.

In addition to top Equity actors, the Berkshire Theatre Group trains students who are are serious about preparing themselves for a career in theatre arts and are part of the upcoming 86th season.

The announcement of the upcoming 2015 season for the Berkshire Theatre Group came in two announcements a month apart, but here is the rundown of the theatrical offerings from the now merged Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Colonial Theatre.

Tickets may be purchased in person at the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield or by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org. The Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday 10am–5pm, Saturdays 10am–2pm or on any performance day from 10am until curtain. All plays, schedules, casting and prices are subject to change.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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