THEATER REVIEW: “Clever Little Lies” @ the Ghent Playhouse [Berkshire on Stage]

February 1st, 2018, 3:00 pm by Sara

Review by Gail M. Burns

Joe DiPietro has something to say about being married for the long haul – it’s a slog. This is neither news nor entertainment, it is simply a rather dreary fact of life. And it is a crummy basis for a comedy, which is what Clever Little Lies is supposed to be. And when you start with a crummy play no amount of money, talent, or hard work is going to make it right.

The 2015 New York production of this play starred Marlo Thomas, so it was billed as a nostalgic, 1960s sit-com style comedy and compared to early Neil Simon. Nothing could be further from the reality. In fact, 1960s sit-coms had more sympathetic and fully formed characters, and sit-com writers knew exactly how to structure a tight 25 minutes of laughs and pathos. Here DiPietro takes what should be a two-hour, two-act drama, and squeezes it into 90 intermissionless minutes, which does neither plot nor character development any favors.

All of this is in explanation of why Cathy Lee-Visscher’s production of Clever Little Lies at the Ghent Playhouse is so unsatisfying, despite some good performances and a handsome set.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.


PS21 to Open New Performance Venue in April [Berkshire on Stage]

February 1st, 2018, 1:30 pm by Sara

PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century will open the doors to its new state-of-the-art black box theater on Saturday, April 14. For the previous 12 years, Chatham’s PS21 has presented a dynamic program of contemporary dance, classical and roots music, and live theater throughout the summer months under a saddle-span concert tent.

The new facility is an extraordinary leap from a summer-only tent to fully equipped, year-round professional theater.

Judy Grunberg is PS21’s founder, Board President and a Chatham resident. One day in 1995 when Judy’s son Noah was in architecture school, her late husband Paul said, “Chatham could use a theater, a performing arts space, and maybe Noah could design it.”

“He just kind of threw it out there,” Judy said. “I thought, ‘What a cool idea.’ That put the spark in my head. My parents were both amateur musicians, our friends were musicians. My mother and I went to see all types of dance, from Broadway shows to ballet to folk dance. It’s hard for me to imagine my life without art in it. Paul was right. A performing arts space is just what we needed.”

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Ancram Opera House Presents “Aunt Leaf” [Berkshire On Stage]

January 31st, 2018, 2:00 pm by Greg

A tale from the dark woods of the Hudson River Valley and the darker woods of the imagination…

The Ancram Opera House will present Aunt Leaf, a ghost story inspired by American and Mexican folklore and a haunting Mary Oliver poem, at 4pm on Saturday & Sunday (February 3 & 4). Suitable for ages nine to ninety, the show features the acclaimed Mexican artist Indira Pensado as Storyteller, mixing English with Spanish to tell a spine-tingling tale that asks audiences to decide what is real, and what is not. Aunt Leaf is directed by Jeffrey Mousseau, Co-Artistic Director of the Ancram Opera House.

It’s 1910. Annabelle, a quiet 11-year-old, and her lonely great-aunt Leaf develop a secret ritual of storytelling. Each night the old woman sends the child into the woods to look for her husband. Each night the girl brings back stories — made-up “proof” of her deceased uncle — to cheer up the old woman. Annabelle’s fibs grow into stories, and her stories grow into tall tales. As she wanders deeper into the forest each night, she comes to believe her own stories are true.

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FIVE FIRSTS: Matthew Smedal

January 30th, 2018, 2:00 pm by Greg
Matthew Smedal

Matthew Smedal

NAME: Matthew Smedal
BAND AFFILIATION: Music Director/Conductor of “The Bodyguard at Proctors

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … Bette Middler. Some People’s Lives. I was 10. It was everything to me. You know, I used to be a little sheepish about that answer because I feel this pressure to say things like “Miles Davis, Kind of Blue” or “It was this album of newly discovered Handel arias for contra tenor and oboe” – because those are the types of answers people like me give, and we all then think, “Oh, my… such an advanced child!” No. My jam was Bette, and I spent my free time trying to play the songs by ear on the piano.

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Well, I remember the first musical I ever saw. It was a high school production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I was enamored, and I spent most of my time watching the conductor. I mean, I also loved what was going on onstage, but I sort of inexplicably concerned myself with what the conductor was doing the whole time. Wait, hold on – I could be inadvertently lying to you. My grammar school had a program where they would take us to see Gilbert and Sullivan operettas put on by our local G&S Society twice a year (Do those even exist anymore?). And much the same, I was glued to the conductor every time we went. Gosh, those were the best two days of school a year. I don’t think I’ve thought about that in a long time!

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Shakespeare & Company Announces 2018 Summer Season [Berkshire on Stage]

January 26th, 2018, 1:30 pm by Sara

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox has announced its 2018 summer season. Exploring themes of Delight, Deceit, and Desire, the season includes three Shakespeare plays: Macbeth, As You Like It and Love’s Labor’s Lost; plus the New England premiere of Morning After Grace by Carey Crim; >Creditors by August Strindberg adapted by David Greig; Heisenberg by Laurence Olivier Award winner Simon Stephens; Mothers and Sons by Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally; and HIR by Pulitzer Prize finalist Taylor Mac.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with our lineup for the 2018 Season,” said Artistic Director Allyn Burrows. “From stirring stories to sublime surprises, from gut punches to tender kisses, from raging battles to quiet moments, we’ve an array of programming that is sure to delight and deliver!”

The Roman Garden Theatre, inaugurated in 2017 for Shakespeare & Company’s production of The Tempest, will be re-configured for the production of As You Like It. Located adjacent to the Tina Packer Playhouse, the Roman Garden Theatre is an intimate outdoor performance space with comfortable bench and chair seating. All other performances take place in the Tina Packer Playhouse and the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre; and at The Dell at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

FIVE Q’S: Tom Templeton of “Paris Time”

January 26th, 2018, 11:00 am by Greg

NAME: Tom Templeton
PLAY/MUSICAL: “Paris Time” at Capital Repertory Theatre

1. THE FIRST PLAY/MUSICAL I SAW WAS … I was fortunate to attend a public elementary school (Shen) that afforded students the opportunity to go on field trips to see NYSTI productions. I must’ve seen a half dozen plays by the time I was nine years old. The problem is that it’s almost 30 years hence, and I don’t remember which shows I saw. I do remember seeing local actor David Bunce in several of them. I still admire him a great deal.

2. THE FIRST SCENE/SONG I PERFORMED WAS … My first role was a very minor character in the play, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” I was 12. Think I had three lines.

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“An Inspector Calls” Opens at Schenectady Civic Players [Berkshire on Stage]

January 25th, 2018, 2:00 pm by Sara
“An Inspector Calls” l-to-r: Mary N. Williams, Josie Smith, Kim Wafer and Angilique Powell (photo: Jenn Moak)

“An Inspector Calls” l-to-r: Mary N. Williams, Josie Smith, Kim Wafer and Angilique Powell (photo: Jenn Moak)

The third play of Schenectady Civic Players’ 90th anniversary season, An Inspector Calls, written by J.B. Priestley and directed by Patrick White, opens on Friday (January 26) and runs through Sunday, February 4, at its 12 South Church Street Playhouse in Schenectady’s historic Stockade district.

An Inspector Calls was first performed in 1945 in the Soviet Union. In 1946, it played in the UK with Ralph Richardson as Inspector Goole. One of Priestley’s best known works for the stage, it is considered one of the classics of mid-20th century English theater. Awards include the 1993 Laurence Olivier Award, a 1994 Drama Desk Award and a 1994 Tony Award for best revival of a play. It was called a “psychologically adept mystery” by The London Evening Standard.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

NOTE: There will be a free preview of An Inspector Calls at 7:30pm tonight (Thursday, January 25).

LIVE: “Saturday Night Liv” @ Dewey Hall, 1/20/18

January 24th, 2018, 4:00 pm by Greg

Review by Allison G.
Photograph by Domonique Ackley

This past Saturday night, “Saturday Night Liv” opened its 17th year at Dewey Hall in Sheffield. Hosted by Liv Cummins of Columbia Arts Team (and a great actor/musician in her own right), the comedy variety show left the audience out of breath from laughter. The Really Convincing Players – Andrew Joffe, Sarah Mitchell, Louise Pillai, Tony Carrano, Chad Tarves and Cummins herself – kept the audience engaged with witty humor, puns, deadpan facial expressions and their pure talent. There was rarely a quiet moment at this show.

Presented in two acts with music from the house band of Sandy McKnight and Chad Tarves, the show kicked off with the opening song about making New Year’s resolutions and going on a diet. In addition to the comedy sketches, the show featured guest acts the After Ours duo (Mark & Bonnie Parsons) and motivational comedian Rob Peck. After Ours calmed the audience to get them ready for more laughs, while Peck wowed us with his juggling skills and stories. Act One ended on a high note with “The Debate,” a gut-wrenchingly hilarious sketch that kept the audience in stitches.

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