Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

Two World Premieres Open the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2015 Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
(L to R): Estelle Parsons (Mrs. Bennet), Kyra Sedgwick (Faye Garrit) and Mary Wiseman (Julia Conroy) Photo: Paul Fox.

(L to R): Estelle Parsons (Mrs. Bennet), Kyra Sedgwick (Faye Garrit) and Mary Wiseman (Julia Conroy) Photo: Paul Fox.

Williamstown Theatre Festival hosts the opening night celebrations for its first two shows of the 2015 season at 8pm on Thursday (July 2): on the Main Stage, Off the Main Road, world premiere play by Pulitzer Prize-winner William Inge, and on the Nikos Stage, Legacy, a world premiere play by Daniel Goldfarb. A special opening night celebration will follow the performances.

On the Main Stage, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Krya Sedgwick makes her WTF debut in Inge’s Off the Main Road. As the second wave of feminism crests in America, the elegant but emotionally fragile Faye Garrit (Sedgwick) seeks refuge from her husband, a former professional baseball player, by checking into a run-down resort on the outskirts of St. Louis with her 17-year-old daughter. The future for mother and daughter may look hazy, but personal, political and sexual awakenings allow them to move forward with new and heartbreaking clarity. Directed by Evan Cabnet, this gripping and powerful drama deepens Inge’s legacy of penning rich, emotionally hard-hitting stories populated by complicated and truthful human characters.

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REVIEW: “Moon Over Buffalo” Is a Five-Star Hit at Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
(l to r) Alyssa Chase and Joan Coombs in Moon Over Buffalo at The Theater Barn through July 5, 2015.

(l to r) Alyssa Chase and Joan Coombs in “Moon Over Buffalo” at the Theater Barn through July 5.

Theater Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Set in 1950’s America with nonstop laughs that barely gave its opening night audience at the Theater Barn in New Lebanon a chance to catch its collective breath, Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo, which was written in 1995, proves that its timeless combination of satire, slapstick and sight gags still make for an immense crowd-pleaser. His earlier turns at farce – Lend Me a Tenor and Fox on the Fairway – have established him one of the most popular purveyors of light comedy to summer and community theater. Moon Over Buffalo spoofs the theater, television and film, as well as families, sweethearts, egos and even your local weathermen. Nobody escapes his gaze unscathed.

Gail M. Burns: I love how Ludwig’s humor is simultaneously low-brow and literate, and the cast here does a great job of being broadly physical as well as bringing home the speeches from Shakespeare, Rostrand and Coward. George (Phil Rice) and Charlotte Hay (Mary Nichols) are a married couple of B-grade actors. We meet them in Buffalo, NY, touring Noel Coward’s Private Lives and Edmund Rostrand’s Cyrano de Bergerac in rep. Her stone-deaf mother, Ethel (Joan Coombs) is their costume mistress and a bit player, and Paul (Noah Mefford), the man they thought would be their son-in-law, is also an actor/administrator with the company. Their daughter Rosalind (Alyssa H. Chase) has recently left Paul, and the theater, in search of a “normal life” and arrives with a new fiancé, a local TV weatherman named Howard (Caleb John Cushing), in tow. Another interloper amidst the mayhem is Richard (Sky Vogel), a wealthy and successful “lawyer to the stars,” who has come to woo Charlotte away to that fabled land of normalcy. On the day that famed film director Frank Capra is coming to see the matinee to consider George and Charlotte for leads in his new Scarlet Pimpernel movie, George learns he has knocked up the ingénue Eileen (Clara Childress) and goes on a bender. Chaos ensues.

Larry: I don’t know who deserves the lion’s share of the credit for this superb production, the director or the actors, but the entire creative team went the extra mile to make this fast-paced story go by in a flash. It proves that Theater Barn has retro screwball comedy chops. There are no small roles in this play, making casting the key to a good production, which is why Joan Coombs was a real standout for me. She plays the mother-in-law who is deaf as a post, thereby setting up many of the play’s awkward situations as she putters about as wardrobe mistress and bit player. Coombs plays her with steadfast determination and total obliviousness as she picks up the pieces the others leave behind, including Cyrano’s floral trousers which always seemed to end up in two pieces.

But the real trouper in all this is Phil Rice, the show’s director who, due to the illness of the original actor, ended up playing the central role of George as well. And it’s a juicy role, too, the star turn. I had some rare-for-a-critic full belly laughs during his second-act drunk scene in which he gets to drop his drawers, recite Shakespeare and, literally, come out of the closet. The only straight man in the show is the lawyer, Richard (ably and subtly played by Vogel), who tries to woo away Charlotte.

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Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca Meld Spanish Dance with Classic Greek Drama [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, June 29th, 2015
Noche Flamenca (photo: Chris Bennion)

Noche Flamenca (photo: Chris Bennion)

Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca, whose vitality, energy and passion have won accolades around the world, return to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington from Wednesday-Sunday (July 1–5) with Antigona, their visually arresting adaptation of Sophocles’s Antigone. The dance drama merges live music, theatrical spectacle and dance to create a production that propels the classic Greek play to new heights. In the production, Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca bring the inherent theatricality of flamenco to bear on this classical tragedy – reigniting the theatrical potential of the Greek chorus as the lyrical and rhythmic heart of the drama.

Noche Flamenca’s lead dancer and choreographer, the celebrated Soledad Barrio, will embody Antigone, the classical Greek heroine. Daughter of Oedipus and sister of the shunned Polyneices, Antigone follows her heart and defies Creon by burying her brother. Sentenced to death, Antigone then kills herself. Ms. Barrio will bring her usual fire to the role. “Powerfully athletic,” says The Washington Post, “Soledad Barrio burst forth with a chain reaction of staccato footwork and pumping knees, whipping her head as hairpins flew. Not to join her in this captivating journey would be to lose a chance at love, both its ecstasy and its agony.”

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COMEDY: Unitard’s “House of Tards” @ Stageworks/Hudson on Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 26th, 2015
The comedy trio Unitard (David Ilku, Mike Albo and Nora Burns) perform “House of Tards” (photo: Tom Ackerman)

The comedy trio Unitard (David Ilku, Mike Albo and Nora Burns) perform “House of Tards” (photo: Tom Ackerman)

It’s been described as “incredibly vicious and relentlessly hilarious,” and has recently played LA, SF and New York City’s legendary Stonewall Inn. The acclaimed show House of Tards by the comedy trio Unitard returns to Hudson’s Stageworks/Hudson for one night only on Saturday (June 27), directed by Paul Dobie (assistant director for Broadway productions of Cabaret, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Glengarry Glen Ross, Wicked, Thoroughly Modern Millie).

Unitard – the NYC sketch comedy trio formed by Mike Albo, Nora Burns and David Ilku – is wildly twisted, outspoken and fabulous. For over 15 years, they have performed from coast to coast at such venues and festivals as We’re Funny That Way, the Aspen Comedy Festival, Toyota Comedy Festival, Joe’s Pub, HBO Workspace, PS122, Highways, Sketchfest, the Andy Warhol Museum, Theater Offensive and more. Some of their work has been featured on, CNN, Bravo, VH1, Logo TV and Comedy Central.

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THEATER: “Shining City” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 25th, 2015
L to R: Mark H. Dold as Ian and Wilbur Edwin Henry as John (photo: David Fertik)

L to R: Mark H. Dold as Ian and Wilbur Edwin Henry as John (photo: David Fertik)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Synopsis: A Dubliner seeks help from a counselor after claiming to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. As their sessions unfold, secrets are exposed as a simple tale turns out to be anything but. Burns and Murray had decidedly different views on this Tony nominated play, with her thumb up, and his thumb down

Larry Murray: Shining City by Irish playwright Conor McPherson was nominated for two Tony Awards, including Best Play when it opened on Broadway in 2006. We saw it performed on Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield with a superlative cast including a brilliant Wilbur Edwin Henry as John, a mess of a man filled with insecurities, guilt, confusion and regret. The production gets high marks, but the play itself – for all its rhapsodic reviews across the country – failed to excite this observer. You know that saying about how bored the shrink must be listening to everyone prattle on about their FDI’s (Fears, Doubts, Insecurities)? Well, this play proves there is a lot of truth to that jest.

Gail M. Burns: I think you’re missing the point here, Larry. Shining City isn’t about what is being said much as it is about what is being heard and felt, and not by the audience, but by the central character of Ian (Mark H. Dold), a former Roman Catholic priest starting his new career as a therapist and his new life as a sexual being – with all that that entails, including fatherhood – in modern day Dublin. A therapist’s job is to listen, but Ian not only listens to John, he absorbs him and subsequently reenacts his sad, repressed life as his own.

Larry: Trying to be rational about my dislike of this play, it comes down to the playwright whose dialogue, while perhaps reflecting how people actually talk, was full of tentativeness and uncertainty, with eruptions of monologues laced with periodic f-bombs. These were delivered with marvelous Irish accents, and a credit to dialogue coach Wendy Waterman. Lots of pseudo meaningful conversation filled with endless “ers” and “ums,” with frequent “you knows” to dazzle the audience with its authenticity, and perhaps for the playwright to prove he could write like Harold Pinter. All that embellishment got in the way of the story for me.

Of course, Dold is an ex-priest who couldn’t find God, may have homosexual tendencies and is now continuing in a job that continues to require him to repress his own ideas and feelings. Interesting stuff. But we mostly hear him recite clinical dialogue like “I understand,” and “That’s ok” from him as he encourages his patient to share more information while trying to keep him calm. John claims he has seen the ghost of his wife, who was recently killed in a car accident, and talks about their unsatisfying relationship.

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FREE: The Complete Jacob’s Pillow Schedule of Inside/Out Performances [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Daniel Gwirtzman Dance on the Inside/Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow (photo:  Christopher Duggan)

Daniel Gwirtzman Dance on the Inside/Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow (photo: Christopher Duggan)

For ticketed performances, see our season schedule story.

Presenting both emerging and esteemed dance artists from across the U.S., the Inside/Out Performance Series at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket will return to the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage this summer, beginning today (June 24). An essential part of the Pillow’s mission and a beloved tradition, Inside/Out performances are free and open to the public, featuring family-friendly and diverse dance styles ranging from classical ballet and hip-hop to tap and circus arts.

Serving a record-breaking 22,500+ audience members of all ages in 2014, the series is a part of more than 350 free programs including performances, talks, tours, exhibits, films, classes and community events offered throughout the festival.

Schedule of Free Performances 2015

Free Inside/Out Performance: Kùlú Mèlé Dance & Drum Ensemble
Today (Wednesday, June 24), 6:15pm
Infusing African dance with urban American flair, Philadelphia-based Kùlú Mèlé boasts a rich repertoire of authentic, folkloric dance from Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and Cuba. Founded in 1969 by Baba Robert Crowder and led by Artistic Director Dorothy Wilkie, the company’s high-energy performances get adults and children up on their feet and dancing in the aisles, distinguishing itself with beautiful costumes, a thrilling percussion battery and dynamic choreography. FREE

Free Inside/Out Performance: Summation Dance Company
Thursday (June 25), 6:15pm
Brooklyn-based and all-female, Summation Dance Company finds beauty in struggle and humor in the mundane. Led by NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduates Sumi Clements and Taryn Vander Hoop, the modern dance company is “full of energy and creativity” (Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times), performing highly physical work since its formation in 2010. Summation presents an excerpt from “Shift” (2013) which explores the notion of planes of existence, and “Updating Route, Please Standby” (2014), a reflection on the relationship between expectation and reality. FREE

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Ballet BC Opens Jacob’s Pillow 83rd Season on Wednesday [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Andrew Bartee of Ballet BC (photo: Michael Slobodian)

Andrew Bartee of Ballet BC (photo: Michael Slobodian)

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket opens its 83rd season with Canada’s premier contemporary ballet company, Ballet BC, presenting a diverse program in the Ted Shawn Theatre from Wednesday-Sunday (June 24-28). Led by Artistic Director Emily Molnar, former soloist of Ballet Frankfurt and principal of Ballet BC, the company performs works filled with intensity and technical prowess. The program includes workwithinwork by the prolific William Forsythe, Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto’s sleek and edgy Twenty Eight Thousand Waves, and Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s Consagración set to Igor Stravinsky’s landmark score, “The Rite of Spring”.

“Ballet BC creates intensity, elegance, and excitement on stage,” says Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff. “The dancers are spectacular and they will perform a program that shows why this company has distinguished itself as one of the best on the international dance scene.”

Comprised of a select group of 18 uniquely talented and classically trained dancers, Ballet BC works with top Canadian and international choreographers to inspire innovation and collaboration. The company hallmark is incorporating their formidable ballet technique into unconventional works, pushing the boundaries of the classical idiom. Molnar explains her efforts to ensure the future of dance as a growing art form in an interview with Michael Crabb of Pointe Magazine: “My biggest responsibility is to cultivate potential, to provide a productive environment where the dancers can grow…Our work today focuses on new movement invention.”

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“I Know I Came in Here for Something” Lights Up Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, June 22nd, 2015
Cathy Lee-Visscher and Dierdre Bollinger with Brian Litscher and Monk Schane-Lydon.

Cathy Lee-Visscher and Dierdre Bollinger with Brian Litscher and Monk Schane-Lydon.

If you’re of a “certain age,” you know the feeling well — you walk in to a room and stop and say, “I know I came in here for something.” Well, you’re not the only one, and now there’s a musical comedy that proves it: I Know I Came in Here for Something… (The Middle-Aged Musical!), being performed at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham tonight (June 22) and July 13.

The team that brought you last summer’s smash hit The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County, Carl Ritchie and Wayne Moore, have put together clever lyrics and catchy tunes (“The Baby Boomer Blues,” “You Haven’t Changed at All,” “Try Our Pill,” “Who Wants to Be Middle Aged?” and more) to tell the story of four folks wandering through the mazes and amazements of middle age. Columbia County, Los Angeles and Las Vegas audiences roared with delight and so will you as they tell it how it is about the dangers and delights of “getting on in years.”

Diedre Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher play Woman One and Woman Two. Both were featured in last year’s Housewives, which played to non-stop laughter as a Mac-Haydn Monday show. Ms. Bollinger has a wide range of performance credits, including roles in all of Carl Ritchie’s revues, and at area and Off-Off-Broadway theaters.

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