THEATER REVIEW: “The Birds” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

June 22nd, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
Kathleen McNenny, Sasha Diamond, and Stevie Ray Dallimore. Photo: Scott Barrow

Kathleen McNenny, Sasha Diamond, and Stevie Ray Dallimore. Photo: Scott Barrow

Review by Macey Levin

To be clear! The title of the short story “The Birds” written by Daphne Du Maurier in 1952 is the only thing the play – currently at Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield – has in common with Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1963 thriller.

Adapted for the stage by acclaimed Irish playwright Conor McPherson, “The Birds” has a prescient quality in that the human race is doomed due to climate change, a phrase that does not occur in the play. Because of a change in environmental conditions nature has turned on itself creating an uninhabitable planet. Birds, whose migratory patterns have been disrupted because of a change in global warmth and tides, cluster by the thousands seeking food and devastating the landscape, ultimately attacking animals and humans. Tierney (Rocco Sisto), a farmer, says, “The bluejays killed my dog.”

Diane (Kathleen McNenny) and Nat (Stevie Ray Dallimore) stumble across each other after they have abandoned their cars on a road. They wend their way through woods attempting to avoid an assault until they discover a run-down lakeside cottage. They become aware that the birds’ aggressive actions come only during high tide, giving them an opportunity to leave the house to scavenge for food and other supplies in a local village that has been ravaged by the birds; their acquisitions are meager.

They have also seen Tierney carrying a shotgun on the other side of the lake, but it appears to be too far to travel to contact him. After they establish a routine and modify their intake of food and water, they are joined by Julia (Sasha Diamond), a young woman who says that she has fled a group of predatory humans. Her entrance into their lives changes the dynamic of Diane and Nat’s daily existence.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Camping With Henry and Tom” @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

October 13th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
Kevin O’Rourke, Patrick Husted & PJ Benjamin in Camping with Henry and Tom. Photo by Scott Barrow.

Kevin O’Rourke, Patrick Husted & PJ Benjamin in “Camping with Henry and Tom.” Photo by Scott Barrow.

Review by Macey Levin

At the opening night of Mark St. Germain’s play Camping with Henry and Tom, Julianne Boyd, artistic director of Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, declared for this season’s finale that she and her staff didn’t realize the relevance of the play when it was originally selected. Though first produced at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in 1993 when Ms. Boyd was artistic director there, the play could have been written last night with lines from the past week’s newscasts.

Some of the issues, personalities and catch-phrases that have been involved in the current presidential election are in this flawed but intriguing play. The characters – Thomas Alva Edison, Henry Ford and President Warren G. Harding – argue over corruption in government, the need for an outsider to be elected, sexual escapades of elected officials, immigration (Ford has an extensive speech in which he says, “First get rid of the Jews”) and “Let’s make America great again,” amongst other comments.

The premise of the play is partially based on an actual incident. Ford and Edison used to go camping together; St. Germain fictionalized their last trip, in 1921, by including Harding. They decide to leave the fictional campsite where their aides and the press have surrounded them to seek a quiet time. Ford, driving a Model T, veers to miss a deer on a mountainous road, disabling his car by running into a tree. Their first and continuing argument is what to do about the injured deer. Their attitude and decisions toward it mirror the development of the conflicts. While they wait to be rescued their various aspirations and personalities are revealed.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER: “Camping with Henry & Tom” at Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

October 3rd, 2016, 1:00 pm by Sara

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Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company presents Mark St. Germain’s award-winning play Camping with Henry and Tom, directed by Christopher Innvar. Camping with Henry and Tom previews begin on Wednesday (October 5) with an official opening set for Sunday (October 9). The play runs through Sunday, October 23.

In 1921, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President Warren G. Harding took a camping trip together into the Maryland woods to escape civilization; what they couldn’t escape was each other. Inspired by an actual event, Camping with Henry and Tom is an exploration of friendship, politics and leadership—a comedic and dramatic clash of two great minds and one great heart of the twentieth century.

Camping with Henry and Tom features PJ Benjamin as Thomas Edison (Broadway: The Wizard in Wicked), Patrick Husted as Henry Ford (BSC’s An Enemy of the People), Fisher Neal as Colonel Starling (TV’s Person of Interest) and Kevin O’Rourke as Warren Harding (WGN America’s Outsiders and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Debra Jo Rupp and Mark H. Dold will share “Love Letters” at Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

September 19th, 2016, 1:00 pm by Sara

bosloveletters

Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is preparing a September treat, a special production of Love Letters, directed by Julianne Boyd and starring BSC favorites Mark H. Dold (Freud’s Last Session, Breaking the Code) and Debra Jo Rupp (Dr. Ruth, All the Way, Kimberly Akimbo). Performances begin on Thursday (September 22), with opening night set for Saturday. The show is slated to run through Sunday, October 2.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, written by A.R. Gurney, Love Letters is unusual in that it is not so much acted as simply read, with a very naturalistic – and loving – vibe. The heart-warming show has been performed all over the country and by everyone from local actors to some of our biggest stars. Its appeal is catnip for theater lovers. Gurney’s gem is a touching, funny and ultimately moving story of a 50-year old correspondence between two childhood friends whose relationship weathers time and distance.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “Tribes” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

August 25th, 2016, 1:00 pm by Sara
C. David Johnson, Deirdre Madigan, Joshua Castille, Justine Salata and Miles G. Jackson (photo: Scott Barrow)

C. David Johnson, Deirdre Madigan, Joshua Castille, Justine Salata and Miles G. Jackson
(photo: Scott Barrow)

Review by Macey Levin

For the deaf, there are four divisions: those born deaf, those who lose their hearing, those who lip read and those who use sign language. Playwright Nina Raines calls them, and other groups, “tribes” in the play of that same name currently at Barrington Stage Company’s Boyd-Quinson Main Stage in Pittsfield.

Tribes is an intriguing play with some flaws. The first scenes introduce a highly dysfunctional North London family. The patriarch, Christopher (C. David Johnson) a self-involved former teacher turned writer, tries to rule his conflicted family with an iron hand and injurious comments. His wife Beth (Deirdre Madigan) argues with him and their two oldest children, who have recently returned to live at home, at the least provocation. Daniel (Miles G. Jackson) is a schizophrenic who has been rejected by a young woman his family abhorred. The daughter Ruth (Justine Salata), a depressive, believes she is an opera singer with an outstanding future. The youngest son Billy (Joshua Castille) attempts to ameliorate the conflicts with measured success. He has learned to speak by lip-reading his family and the guidance of his mother. Christopher feels that if Billy signs there will be a stigma covering his son. He declares, the deaf “…are the Muslims of the handicapped world.”

Into Billy’s life comes Sylvia (Eli Pauley), the child of deaf parents with whom she signs; she tells him she is slowly losing her hearing. Their initially tenuous relationship moves into a love affair; she helps him get his first ever job as a lip reader for the courts when videotapes do not have audio. When he brings Sylvia home to meet the family, she is subjected to an inquisition led by Christopher, especially when he learns she signs. Various confrontations soon develop between Billy and the family as well as with Sylvia.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “Broadway Bounty Hunter” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

August 23rd, 2016, 3:00 pm by Sara
Annie Golden and Alan Green (photo: Scott Barrow)

Annie Golden and Alan Green (photo: Scott Barrow)

Review by Larry Murray

Broadway Bounty Hunter is having its world premiere at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield as part of its Musical Theatre Lab (MTL) where Tony-winner William Finn introduces the most promising new musical writers to Berkshire audiences. The exuberant new musical overflows the stage of the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center and brings the audience into the world of blaxploitation and martial arts movies of the ’70s.

Curiously, its composer, lyricist and co-book writer Joe Iconis never experienced the arrival of the black hero and Hong Kong chop-socky aesthetic directly: he was not born until 1981, long after the form had been bled dry by the Hollywood film industry. Even so, his ability to turn these formulaic movies into a satirical musical is a wonder.

With Julianne Boyd sitting in the director’s chair, Broadway Bounty Hunter matched the awesome energy level achieved by BSC’s earlier mainstage musical Pirates of Penzance directed by John Rando. And in a theater as intimate as the St. Germain, the intensity of the choreography by Jeffrey Page matched the incredible volume of the musical and vocal sounds from its perfectly cast ensemble. Ensconced in the rear fifth of the stage were the six musicians of the band, the largest in memory for a MTL production. The score is rich with R&B and funk and not a little of plain old ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll.

With those elements in place, Iconis added one more: Broadway, in the person of Annie Golden, an aging actress who gets no respect, and who clings on to her fading identity even as a younger generation tries to replace her. She goes through auditions with an old headshot, determination and an old star-shaped off-Broadway award she received decades ago. (Little does she suspect, at the outset, that it will come in handy later in the show as her secret shuriken throwing star.)

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

Last-Minute Change of Directors for “Broadway Bounty Hunter” [Berkshire on Stage]

August 15th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
Broadway Bounty Hunter‘s creative team remains essentially unchanged: (l to r) Joe Iconis, Annie Golden, Lance Rubin, Sweet Tooth Williams (photo: Stephen Sorokoff)

The “Broadway Bounty Hunter” creative team: (l to r) Joe Iconis, Annie Golden, Lance Rubin, Sweet Tooth Williams (photo: Stephen Sorokoff)

Just days before opening night, director Leah C. Gardiner has parted ways with Barrington Stage Company’s production of Broadway Bounty Hunter due to creative differences.

Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director of Barrington Stage Company, has stepped in to handle direction for the musical’s world premiere.

The first preview on Friday, August 12 was cancelled. Previews began on Saturday, and the opening night world premiere performance is slated for 7:30pm Friday (August 19). The new musical starring Annie Golden (former lead singer with new wave band the Shirts and currently featured in Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” will run through Sunday, September 4.

Founded in 2006, the BSC Musical Theatre Lab is overseen by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Artistic Producer William Finn.

Under the leadership of Julianne Boyd, Broadway Bounty Hunter will continue essentially unchanged. The hot new musical features music and lyrics by Joe Iconis (Be More Chill, The Black Suits, Bloodsong of Love), book by Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin (author of Denton Little’s Deathdate) and Jason SweetTooth Williams (Off Broadway: Once Upon A Mattress) and choreography by Jeffrey Page (Broadway’s Violet). Joel Waggoner (BSC’s Presto Change-O, Southern Comfort) serves as music director.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “Peerless” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

July 27th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
Sasha Diamond as “M” and Laura Sohn as “L” are featured as sisters in Jiehae Park’s comedy “peerless” (photo: Justin Allen)

Sasha Diamond as “M” and Laura Sohn as “L” are featured as sisters in Jiehae Park’s comedy “Peerless” (photo: Justin Allen)

Review by Macey Levin

When Barrington Stage Company Artistic Director Julianne Boyd introduced the play Peerless by Jiehae Park at its opening performance, she said, “Park is a new voice… The rhythms of the play are different… It’s a comedy until it isn’t… It has shades of Macbeth…” She didn’t say, “It’s a terrific piece of theater!” And it certainly is.

The play centers on twin Asian sisters, seniors in high school, awaiting their college acceptances. L (the characters’ names are way off the beaten track) has applied to THE College (institution names are not used), and she is concerned that she’ll be beaten out. Her sister M (Sasha Diamond) assures her she has nothing to worry about, though L (Laura Sohn) is concerned about a nerdy classmate who may or may not be as bright as her.

The first several scenes depicting high school life are quite funny though a shadow of darkness hovers over the comic moments. A third of the way through this 85-minute play a corner is turned, and we slowly find ourselves in a contemporary/teen-age version of Macbeth. You don’t have to know the Shakespeare play, but it adds a level of intrigue to be aware of it as Peerless develops. The play, however, can stand alone.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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