Posts Tagged ‘Barrington 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.

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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.

At Barrington Stage, Marg Helgenberger Going for a Tour-de-Force in “The Other Place” [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, May 19th, 2014
Marg Helgenberger (photo:  Larry Murray)

Marg Helgenberger (photo: Larry Murray)

By Larry Murray

In deciding to do The Other Place, Marg Helgenberger has accepted the biggest acting challenge of her long and honored career. When she steps into the role of Juliana Smithton, she assumes the identity a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. Her husband has filed for divorce, her daughter has eloped with a much older man and her own health is in jeopardy. But in this brilliantly crafted work, nothing is as it seems. Piece by piece, a mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth about Juliana boils to the surface. The story unfolds in a cottage on the windswept shores of Cape Cod.

At a preview gathering at Barrington Stage Co.’s Sydelle & Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield, director Christopher Innvar and the popular Emmy Award-winning star of TV’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” made themselves available to talk about the upcoming show. A transcript of that discussion follows.

Helgenberger has had one of the most successful careers of any actor, and most of it on television, which she says is a “writer’s medium.” But for all her success, she yearned for a chance to return to the “actor’s medium,” live theater.

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Tommy Tune, Liz & Ann Hampton Callaway Headed to Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, March 21st, 2014
Broadway’s legendary song and dance man, Tommy Tune, hits the stage high stepping through his nine-time Tony Award winning career celebrating 50 years on the Great White Way. He sings, dances, and laughs his way through those glorious musical moments that made him a Theatre Legend.

Broadway’s legendary song and dance man, Tommy Tune, hits the stage high stepping through his 9 time Tony Award winning career celebrating 50 years on the Great White Way. He sings, dances, and laughs his way through those glorious musical moments that made him a Theatre Legend.

Barrington Stage Company, the award-winning theater in downtown Pittsfield, under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson, is proud to present the 2014 Summer Concert Series on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage featuring Tony Award-winner Tommy Tune in Taps, Tunes, and Tall Tales on Monday, July 28 at 8pm, and the return of Tony Award nominees Liz & Ann Hampton Callaway in the Berkshire debut of their all-new show Here Come the Callaways on Monday, August 11.

Single tickets to Tap, Tunes and Tall Tales and Here Come the Callaways will go on sale to the general public on Monday, March 24 at 10am.

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MCLA and Barrington Stage Team Up for “Dancing Lessons” in North Adams [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, March 7th, 2014
John Cariani is featured in Mark St. Germain’s "Dancing Lessons."

John Cariani is featured in Mark St. Germain’s “Dancing Lessons.”

Barrington Stage Company, the award-winning theater in downtown Pittsfield, under the leadership of artistic director Julianne Boyd and managing director Tristan Wilson, travels to North Adams to present a staged reading of “Dancing Lessons,” the new romantic comedy by playwright Mark St. Germain, on Saturday (March 8) at 7pm at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ Church Street Center, Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium (corner of Church and Porter Streets), North Adams.

Directed by Julianne Boyd, “Dancing Lessons” stars John Cariani and Brenna Palughi. Cariani made his BSC debut as Dogberry in last summer’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Cariani is also the playwright of the popular play “Almost, Maine” and is currently starring in the play’s Off-Broadway revival. Recently seen in John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill” on Broadway, Palughi is making her BSC debut.

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Burns and Murray Discuss and Dissect Barrington Stage Company’s 20th Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Julianne Boyd in front of her company’s Union Street theatre, Photo by Larry Murray.

Julianne Boyd in front of her company’s Union Street theatre, Photo by Larry Murray.

by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: I have long described Barrington Stage Company (BSC), as a tenacious little theatre company that started life twenty years ago in Sheffield. But over two decades, both their budget and reputation has grown to make them arguably the leading theatre company in the Berkshires. They’ve sent shows to New York, the latest being 2013′s On the Town which is being prepared for a fall Broadway opening. The company has come a long way, don’t you think, Gail?

Gail M. Burns: My first visit to BSC was in August of 1998, their fourth year. After that I never missed a season, lured in by both the chance to see top-notch productions of seldom-seen musicals – Mack and Mabel, On the 20th Century, Falsettos, The Human Comedy – and the very reasonable ticket prices. I have followed them from the Consolati auditorium at Mt. Everett Regional High School, through a variety of guest stints and make-shift spaces, to their current facilities in downtown Pittsfield. There have been many more hits than misses, but there has always been a sense of adventure, excitement, and professionalism. The common denominator has been the vision and energy of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd.

Larry: Sitting on the Boyd-Quinson stage for the season announcement was a revelation. I had never set foot on the actual stage, and was shocked at how little wing and crossover space there was to work with. It made me doubly appreciative of the miracles BSC’s production teams accomplish every time they mount a big brassy musical like On the Town or West Side Story.

Gail: Most of our regional stages are remarkably tiny. It felt crowded with all of us lunching. Keeping frantically dancing bodies from colliding in that confined space seems unthinkable.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Barrington Stage and Williamstown Festival Make Major 2014 Season Announcements [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, January 31st, 2014
One of the great heroes of WWII is Alan Turing who broke the Nazi’s enigma code and whose riveting personal story will be presented by Barrington Stage Company this summer.

One of the great heroes of WWII is Alan Turing who broke the Nazi’s enigma code and whose riveting personal story will be presented by Barrington Stage Company this summer.

by Larry Murray

Theater news is in the air as Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company announced its full season of 2014 offerings and the Williamstown Theatre Festival dropped the names of the shows and stars to light their main stage marquee. A detailed look at the Barrington Stage offerings is in the works here at Berkshire on Stage as Gail M. Burns and I report on the kick-off lunch and our discussions with Julianne Boyd and others later this week. For now, the Barrington Stage Company offerings are:

Kiss Me, Kate will be from June 11-July 12. This classic musical which mixes Shakespeare with a traveling troupe of theatrical folks was first announced last September. The popular musical recounts the backstage and onstage antics of two feuding couples during a touring production of The Taming of the Shrew. Sparkling with 18 classic Cole Porter songs, Kiss Me, Kate includes “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “So in Love,” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” “Too Darn Hot,” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”.

Breaking the Code, Hugh Whitemore’s biographical drama about the true story of Alan Turing, the famed mathematician and computer science pioneer and the primary designer of the Turing Machine, an early computer used to solve the German Enigma code during World War II, a solution many believe was instrumental in the Allied victory. The title refers to both the solution of the Enigma code and Turing’s open admission to his homosexuality, which at the time violated not only the codes of polite society but British law. To star BSC Associate Artist Mark H. Dold, and will be directed by Joe Calarco. Performances of Breaking the Code are from July 17-August 2.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Three Transgender Couples Find Love in “Southern Comfort,” a Touching New Musical [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Annette O’Toole and Jeff McCarthy. Photo by Scott Barrow.

Annette O’Toole and Jeff McCarthy. Photo by Scott Barrow.

Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Most people think that the musical Oklahoma! was so innovative that it changed the course of musical theater, and I think Southern Comfort may end up doing the same. What do you think, Larry?

Larry Murray: This intimate production for Bill Finn’s Musical Theatre Lab certainly explores new ground not only for musicals, but for theater in general. The story of Lola and Robert, a transgender couple, is Shakespearean in its scope, sweeping in its complexity and has an unusual hybrid score that is part musical theatre, but because of its instrumentation, more bluegrass and country than Broadway. The story was incredibly unusual, and down-to-earth in a human, people-next-door way, though few of us can claim such interesting neighbors. There are basically three couples, though their identities and relationships are far from standard. You are good at following the family trees in Shakespeare, can you run down who is who, who was who and who will be who?

Gail: Well, with the exception of Lola (Jeff McCarthy), all the characters have transitioned and are living as the gender with which they identify. Robert (Annette O’Toole), Sam (Todd Cerveris) and Jackson (Jeffrey Kuhn) are men and Carly (Natalie Joy Johson) and Melanie (Robin Skye) are women, although only Melanie is using the gender assigned her at birth (this is called cisgender). Once a trans person announces their gender then they expect to be referred to and treated as such, even if they never make any further cosmetic change to their appearance. But in this case all the trans folks appear to be the gender they claim to be. Except for O’Toole and McCarthy, these are cisgender actors playing their own gender, in other words biological men are playing Sam and Jackson and biological women are playing Melanie and Carly.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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