Posts Tagged ‘Barrington Stage’

“Engagements” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 24th, 2015
Adam Gerber, Robert David Grant and Amanda Quaid.

Adam Gerber, Robert David Grant and Amanda Quaid.(photo: Kevin Sprague)

By Larry Murray

The newest play at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is the sexy, millennial world premiere comedy Engagements by Lucy Teitler, which runs through Sunday (August 30).

Engagements tells the story of Lauren, a very bright but slightly confused millennial who is spending her summer attending picture-perfect engagement parties. Lauren has no qualms when facing love’s trials, but may have met her match in her best friend’s boyfriend. As the unforgettable heroine of this pitch-black anti-romantic comedy, Lauren navigates this midsummer nightmare as she weighs the value of her romantic life against the real significant other in her life, her best friend.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.


REVIEW: “Butler” @ Barrington Stage Opens Season with Laughs, History, Great Acting [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, May 29th, 2015
Maurice Jones (l) and David Schramm (r) in Butler.

Maurice Jones (l) and David Schramm (r) in “Butler” (photo by Kevin Sprague)

Theater Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: When Julianne Boyd announced the opening play of Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company season would be about the Civil War and the long forgotten Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893), and that it was a Civil War comedy, it seemed an odd choice. And having just seen Butler, it seems an unlikely blend of biography, political drama and comedy that takes us back a century and a half, and delivers quite a theatrical wallop. But I am not sure how to classify this play, do you, Gail?

Gail M. Burns: Playwright Richard Strand tells the story in a broad sit-com style, and director Joseph Discher has wisely chosen a talented and recognizable American sit-com star David Schramm to play the lead. Schramm is so much more than Roy Biggins, the odious greasy owner of a tiny airline who he played on Wings (1990-1997); he is a Juilliard graduate and has been acting non-stop since he was a teenager. But when we see him, we are primed for laughs, which he and the rest of the cast deliver in spades.

Larry: Strand could not have had an easy time imagining the conversation between the newly minted General Butler – he has been in the military just four weeks on May 23, 1861, the day the play takes place – his adjutant Lieutenant Kelly (Ben Cole) and the runaway slave Shepard Mallory (Maurice Jones). The plot revolves around the question of what you do with a slave seeking sanctuary when the law says you are required to return him to his owner. But as the play unfolds we learn it’s all so much more complicated than this since this is no ordinary slave. The supposedly illiterate and uneducated Shepard Mallory is anything but. Butler is at its most intense in the encounters between the General and the aggressive slave who will not take “no” for an answer. Their verbal volleys lead the lawyerly officer to conjure up a rationale for the Union to accept and conscript slaves as contraband from the war, and in so doing, it deprived the South of thousands of slaves whom they had been using in their own conduct of the war. As the war progressed, the South found their former slaves now part of the Army determined to beat them down. Sometimes at this historic distance from the conflict, we forget how breathtaking those years were. So much gets lost in the mists of time.

Gail: Mallory is the character who Strand undoubtedly had to invent from whole-cloth since he and the two slaves who arrived at Fort Monroe with him, were property, not people. I cannot find a record of their names. So Strand had free rein to make this man who he needed him to be for the purposes of the play.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Barrington Stage Reveals Plays, Musicals for Its 2015 Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
Julianne Boyd in front of the Boyd-Quinson MainStage.

Julianne Boyd in front of the Boyd-Quinson MainStage.

By Larry Murray

It is somehow fitting, noted Julianne Boyd, that the most familiar song from Man of La Mancha, “To Dream the Impossible Dream,” will mark the Mainstage opening of Barrington Stage Company’s tenth year in Pittsfield.

At a news conference Artistic Director Julianne Boyd announced the theatre’s 2015 season of musicals and plays that will take place in downtown Pittsfield in the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, the St. Germain Stage and Youth Theatre venues.

​“It’s a summer of contrasts at Barrington Stage. We’re presenting musicals as different as Man of La Mancha and Shrek, and plays that run the gamut from Shining City to His Girl Friday, but what they all have in common are superbly crafted stories that I think our audiences will love,” said Boyd.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER: “An Enemy of the People” at Barrington Stage, a Collision of Fire and Ice Onstage [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
An Enemy of the People with Joey LaBrasca, Dee Nelson, Steve Hendrickson, Katya Stepanov and Noah Bailey (photo:Kevin Sprague)

“An Enemy of the People” with Joey LaBrasca, Dee Nelson, Steve Hendrickson, Katya Stepanov and Noah Bailey (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Tragically, An Enemy of the People, a tale of the battle between the truth and those who would manipulate or stifle it for their own gain, is as relevant today as when Henrik Ibsen penned En folkefiende in 1882 in response to the public attacks on his play Ghosts, and in 1950 when Arthur Miller adapted it as a response to the actions of the House Un-American Activities Committee headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy. It is all too easy to draw parallels to the key concerns of today.

Larry Murray: I agree, Gail, and rarely do we see theater productions that so perfectly capture the temper of our times from a distance of 65 or 130 years. I think a large part of the reason that An Enemy of the People works so well is the excellence of every aspect of the Barrington Stage Company production in Pittsfield. Director Julianne Boyd has been doing these issue plays for many years now, and has yet to have one that has misfired. Her sense of historical importance combines with some pretty innovative direction to bring a big, long, grey play like this into sharp focus. The fourteen actors – drawn as much from this region as from New York – are uniformly superb.

Gail: The plot is painfully simple. In a town struggling to revive its economy after the Second World War, much money and many hopes have been pinned on the healing spa waters of Kirsten Springs and a new resort has been developed to capture the tourist market. The local doctor, Thomas Stockmann (Steve Hendrickson), concerned over a rash of illness among the Springs early patrons, has had the water analyzed and discovered that it is, in fact, contaminated by the run-off from the tannery upstream – a business that has been in his wife’s family for generations and is currently owned by his ecentric father-in-law, Morten Kiil (Glenn Barrett). Dr. Stockmann’s brother, Peter (Patrick Husted), is the Mayor, and they both sit on the board of directors of the resort. Dr. Stockmann has a happy family life with his wife Catherine (Dee Nelson), 20-something daughter Petra (Katya Stepanov), and two school-age sons Morten (Noah Bailey) and Ejlif (Joey Labrasca). They are well liked in the community and in the first scene the family is entertaining Aslaksen (Jack Wetherall), the publisher of the local paper, its young editor Hovstad (Scott Drummond) and his assistant, Billing (Christopher Hirsh), along with an elderly neighbor, Captain Horster (Don Paul Shannon), at dinner when the water analysis report arrives from the lab.

At first everyone hails Dr. Stockmann as a hero for catching this important information on time. But as the economic impact of this discovery becomes clear – the Mayor goes about making that impact starkly real to all concerned – the worm turns and by the opening of the second act Dr. Stockmann is not even allowed to speak at a public meeting he has called, held in the Captain’s home because no one in town will rent him a hall. Stockmann is officially declared An Enemy of the People, and the play concludes with he and his family sheltering behind their living room couch, as a mob roars outside their home and hurls rocks through their windows, determined to stick together and fight for the truth.

Larry: The tension that built during the opening of the second act where the point of the play all melds together, builds the excitement of the citizens into a frenzy, and you can feel it build all around you as the ensemble brings the action of the mob into the midst of the audience. It is a passionately breathtaking example of full-tilt theatrical magic at work. And it has to be the most memorable 15 minutes of theater I have seen this year. It’s an all-out assault on the truth by the classic powers-that-be which is at the heart of this great human story.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“An Enemy of the People” @ Barrington Stage: When a Majority Rejects the Truth [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, September 29th, 2014
Steve Hendrickson plays Tom Stockmann in An Enemy of the People. File photo by Rick Teller from an earlier Chester Theatre Co production of The Iliad.

Steve Hendrickson plays Tom Stockmann in An Enemy of the People. File photo by Rick Teller from an earlier Chester Theatre Co production of The Iliad.

By Larry Murray

The brilliant theatre director Julianne Boyd takes on another classic, An Enemy of the People, Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play. It is her third Arthur Miller play at Barrington Stage Co., having earlier staged The Crucible in 2010 and All My Sons in 2012. Both earned high praise from critics and audiences alike.

This powerful drama explores the impact of polluted waters in a small town and the consequences of uncovering the truth. Follow the story of one man’s brave struggle to do the right thing in the face of extreme social intolerance. Master playwright Arthur Miller adapted Ibsen’s classic play in response to the political climate fostered by McCarthyism in 1950, but the play is still shockingly relevant today.

The company’s fall production runs from October 2-19 on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage. The press opening is Sunday, October 5 at 3pm.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Jim Brochu Gives His Regards to Broadway in His One-Man Show @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
Jim Brochu and his cast of “character men.”

Jim Brochu and his cast of “character men.”

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: “Character Man” at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is a wonderfully funny and touching evening of unforgettable theatrical memories. Jim Brochu may not be the first actor to draw on the famous and near-famous he has rubbed shoulders with during a long and rich life to create an evening’s entertainment, but he is certainly one of the best. As he explains at the outset, playing a “character man” means you are an essential part of any play, even though people are not likely to remember your name.

Gail M. Burns: Jack Gilford, Bert Lahr, Lou Jacobi, Zero Mostel, Jack Albertson, Phil Silvers, Charles Nelson Reilly… Indeed, while I recognized many of the names Brochu mentioned – and their faces as they appeared on a screen upstage – I am hard pressed to place his mentor, David Burns (obviously no relation), even though his face was shown at various ages throughout the show. But Burns was Brochu’s dear friend and enabler – his entree into the fascinating and frustrating world of show business.

Larry: For an hour and a half he certainly keeps the Barrington Stage audience spellbound as he rattles off anecdotes and stories about his father, his co-stars, and his beginnings as an orange drink seller in lobbies at intermission. The period he focuses on most effectively is the one in which I was a stage door Johnny myself. But while I was outside with a program and a pen he was running to get corned beef sandwiches from a deli for Cyril Ritchard, Australian stage, screen and television actor, and director. Ritchard is probably best remembered today for his performance as Captain Hook in the Mary Martin musical production of Peter Pan.

Gail: I can just taste that orange drink, Larry. It was watery with strong overtones of cardboard, and it was wildly overpriced, but you HAD to buy one when you went to the theatre in New York. I suspect now that I, like Brochu, could no longer afford one, let alone a Broadway ticket, but the very mention of that beverage brings back memories to anyone who has ever darkened a Manhattan theatre.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER: Mark St. Germain’s Luminous “Dancing Lessons” Sparkles @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, August 15th, 2014
John Carioni(l) and Paige Davis (r) in Dancing Lessons (photo: Kevin Sprague)

John Carioni(l) and Paige Davis (r) in “Dancing Lessons” (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Mark St. Germain’s newest play Dancing Lessons at Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company could easily be categorized as a play that teaches us something new, and when it comes to Asperger Syndrome, it is certainly both instructive and inspirational on that subject. But that is a by-product of what has to be St. Germain’s best work to date. It is really a romantic comedy at heart, and it takes us to the verge of tears even as we are laughing delightedly at a young couple trying to figure out how to deal with each other.

Gail M. Burns: There are more and more people with diagnoses on the Autism Spectrum, and what they teach us is that there is no such thing as “normal.” Everyone’s brain and body function and experience the world differently and society makes an enormous error when it tries to force humankind into any mold. Every couple faces challenges as their relationship develops because there is no other place where we are as intimately and openly ourselves.

Larry: There are only two characters in this one act play, Paige Davis (as Senga Quinn, a successful Broadway dancer) and John Cariani (Dr. Ever Montgomery – a professor of geosciences who is about to be honored for his achievements). Both were at the top of their game, but are under new stress as they tentatively come together and blow apart as the story unfolds. Because of his Asperger’s, Ever is aware that he sees the world differently than most. Yet he needs help in fitting into the normal world. He uses the term “neuro-typicals” to describe people who are not like him. He refers to himself as an “Aspy,” an abbreviated description he likes to use. What I find interesting is that Senga – who is a dancer and actually sidelined with an injury – is also searching for answers.

Gail: Both characters are facing a crisis of self. Ever is very intelligent and “high-functioning.” He has had great success in his chosen field, but is terrified of relating on a personal and physical level. Senga (her name was supposed to be Agnes but her aunt wrote it backwards on her birth certificate) has achieved success as a dancer – studying and performing with some of the top choreographers and their companies, and appearing on and off-Broadway – but she was hit by a taxi and her left leg is shattered, with seriously torn muscles and ligaments in her knee. Her only hope for any kind of recovery is surgery, which a rare allergy to anesthesia prevents, and even then she will never be able to perform at the level she did before.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Bittersweet “Working on a Special Day” Unfolds at Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Antonio Vega and Ana Graham direct and star in “Working On A Special Day” at Barrington Stage June 18-July 6. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Antonio Vega and Ana Graham direct and star in “Working On A Special Day” at Barrington Stage June 18-July 6. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Working on A Special Day has received recognition internationally and arrives at Barrington Stage Company in a production by the Play Company and Mexico City-based Por Piedad Teatro. According to Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson, it will run from Wednesday (June 18) through July 6 at Barrington Stage’s St. Germain Stage. Press Opening is Sunday, June 22 at 3pm.

Directed by and featuring Ana Graham and Antonio Vega, Working on A Special Day is a new play about a life-changing encounter between an over-worked housewife and a mysterious bachelor on May 8, 1938 – the day Rome celebrates Hitler’s visit to Mussolini’s Italy. A bittersweet drama unfolds within the charged political landscape of rising fascism in Rome.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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