Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

Workshop: Festival of Opera @ the Unicorn Theatre, Aug 23-31 [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Workshop Festival of Opera at the Unicorn Theatre

The Berkshire Theatre Group is planning a week-long Festival of Opera at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Performances begin Saturday (August 23) and run through Sunday, August 31.

Presented in workshop form, some of opera’s rising stars will be featured in staged presentation of La Traviata, A Lover’s Tale and songs from the Romantics in The Paris Salon.

“This year, for the first time, we’re bringing a little opera back to the Berkshires,” Artistic Director/CEO Kate Maguire explains. “We have a week long workshop featuring A Lover’s Tale, an extraordinary compilation of Dumas’ original story about the Lady of the Camellias, Charles’s Ludlam’s Camille and La Traviata all rolled into one. Also that week, we will present a staged performance of La Traviata and a wonderful compilation of songs from the Romantics featuring the lovely soprano Megan Weston.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

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Blues Phenomenon Jonny Lang @ the Mahaiwe Thursday [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Jonny Lang (photo: Larry Philpot)

Jonny Lang (photo: Larry Philpot)

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will present Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Jonny Lang on Thursday (August 21) at 8pm. “I’m very excited to welcome this blues phenomenon to the Mahaiwe stage for the first time. It promises to be an unforgettable night,” said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly.

Jonny Lang is a blues, gospel and rock singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. As a 12-year-old, he began a musical journey in Fargo, North Dakota that has brought him to points across the globe. He mastered his skills at an amazingly young age, topping the Billboard charts with his first album, Lie to Me, in 1996 when he was only 16. Over the years, he has shared the stage with the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Aerosmith, Sting and Buddy Guy, who he continues to tour with today.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Final Week of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Features Aspen Santa Fe Ballet [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (phot:  Sharen Bradford)

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (photo: Sharen Bradford)

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, one of the country’s leading contemporary ballet companies, returns to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket for the 82nd season finale. The company – dually based in Aspen, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico – has established a mission of commissioning and performing work from international choreographers, building a diverse repertoire of tailor-made works.

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, described as a company’s whose “excited adulation has a tinge of wonderment that might charm the most cynical of New York dance fans” by Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times, brings three stylish contemporary ballets to the Pillow. Under the direction of Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty, the company will present Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo’s vigorous “Over Glow,” with music by Ludwig van Beethoven and Felix Mendelssohn; the dramatic “Beautiful Mistake” by Spanish-born, Munich-based choreographer Cayetano Soto; and Nicolo Fonte’s exuberant “The Heart(s)pace” set to music by Ezio Bosso. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet closes the 2014 Festival season in the Ted Shawn Theatre, from Wednesday-Sunday (August 20-24).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

LeeSaar’s “Grass and Jackals” Stunning Spectacle @ Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 18th, 2014
LeeSaar The Company (photo: Denise Cerniglia)

LeeSaar The Company (photo: Denise Cerniglia)

LeeSaar The Company closes Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014 with the captivating evening-length work Grass and Jackals, a sensual, inventive, and visually stunning spectacle of dance and light, presented Wednesday-Sunday (August 20-24) in the Doris Duke Theatre. Under the artistic direction of choreographers Lee Sher and Saar Harari, the New York City-based company presents provocative movement rooted in a bold contemporary dance aesthetic, marked by “emotional nakedness, free-associative logic and frank sensuality” (The New Yorker). With enchanting lighting design by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi), widely known for his work with Batsheva Dance Company, Grass and Jackals pushes physical and emotional boundaries for both performers and audiences.

At once soundly human and strikingly primal, dancers of Grass and Jackals prowl in sleek bodysuits “like animals under fire…their pliant bodies…blown back, nearly blown apart, knocked out of their usual alignment into some twisted shape, with ribs way over here, and a leg way up there,” comments Brian Seibert of The New York Times. Supported by an eclectic, ambient score including indie-pop artist CocoRosie, Grass and Jackals evokes visceral reactions with powerful solos and inhibition-releasing movement, seething with energy in an emotionally rich and physically challenging performance. Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff describes LeeSaar as “vivid, daring dance-theatre.”

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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.

THEATER: “Henry IV, Parts I & II” (Condensed) @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
The cast of Henry IV, Parts I and II (photo:  Kevin Sprague)

The cast of Henry IV, Parts I and II (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

Shakespeare’s two history plays purporting to be about King Henry IV of England (1367-1413 CE) are actually about the coming of age of his son, the future King Henry V (1386-1422 CE). They form the center of the Bard’s tetralogy which begins with Richard II and ends with Henry V, although some will argue that Henry VI, Parts I, II and III are also a part of what becomes then a seven-play cycle. All of this was quite recent history for Shakespeare (1564-1616 CE) and these plays were not only very popular entertainment, but also formed the Tudor equivalent of the required high school course in American History we are familiar with today. At a time when most people were illiterate and few had any formal schooling, they could learn the royally sanctioned history of their land at the theater while laughing at Sir John Falstaff and his merry band of thieves and whores.

Performed in their entirety, Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II occupy the stage for a good seven hours. Hard to perform apart contextually, they are impossibly expensive and time consuming for a modern company to perform together. Starting off last year with a production of Richard II, Shakespeare & Company wanted to continue on with the history plays, and so commissioned actor/director Jonathan Epstein to condense Henry IV into one play. The resulting work runs a solid three hours, and when you add in the much-needed 20-minute intermission you walk out of the theater about three and a half hours after you entered. Thankfully the evening performances start at 7:30, not 8pm.

Epstein has cut much of the history in favor of the excellent comedy in the plays, but sadly that renders the politics and battles that remain even harder for the average audience member to understand. Adding to that muddle, just about every significant political player is named Henry (and sometimes called Harry or Hal), which is neither Epstein nor Shakespeare’s fault, that’s just history. For the sake of clarity in this review we will refer to them as Henry IV, Prince Hal (the future King Henry V), Hotspur (Henry Percy), and Percy (Hotspur’s father, the Earl of Northumberland).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

REVIEW: Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano” the Revue-sical @ the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I Love a Piano

Review by Gail M. Burns

Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano is a revue of songs by the inimitable composer, but at the Theater Barn in New Lebannon, the revue creators Ray Roderick and Michael Berkeley have crafted a pleasant evening with a singular flow and have avoided one of the major pitfalls of the revue-sical genre – too much exposition painfully forced into dialogue.

You really don’t need to know that Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was born Israel Isidore Baline in Russia, emigrated with his family to New York City in 1893, dropped out of school at age eight to become a newsboy and discovered that he could sell more papers if he added a little song to his sales pitch in order to enjoy this show. Chatty critics like me can tell you all of that, and there are plenty of good biographies of Berlin out there, too. You just need to know a good song, well sung, when you hear it.

And they are all good songs, well sung, by a young and talented sextet under the smooth direction of Trey Compton – Theater Barn vets Stephanos Bacon, Jerielle Morwitz, Shaun Rice and Kimberly Suskind, joined by newcomers Maclain Dassatti and Eileen Whitt – with a fine range of talents.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Korean War Vet Fights Drugs and PTSD in Revival of “A Hatful of Rain” @ Berkshire Theatre Group [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
Actor Tommy Schrider stars in A Hatful of Rain in Stockbridge. (file photo)

Actor Tommy Schrider stars in “A Hatful of Rain” in Stockbridge. (file photo)

Berkshire Theatre Group presents Michael V. Gazzo’s A Hatful of Rain, a poignant foray into the devastating effects of heroin in the life of a Korean War veteran at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge. Preview performances begin at 7pm Wednesday (August 13); opening night is 8pm Saturday (August 16); and the production closes at 8pm August 30.

Tickets to A Hatful of Rain are $42 to $62; all preview tickets are $42. Veterans receive 20% off full price tickets.

The war fought abroad is just as devastating as the war fought within. This rings devastatingly true for Johnny Pope (Tommy Schrider) a Korean War veteran who has safely returned home to New York City and now struggles with drug addiction after being heavily medicated during his hospital stay.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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