Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

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

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016
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

Advertisement

OPERA REVIEW: “Madama Butterfly” @ Hubbard Hall [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
Bei-Bei Guan

Bei-Bei Guan

Opera review by Gail M. Burns

When Alexina Jones founded Hubbard Hall Opera Theater in 2008, one of her goals was to “engage and build rural audiences for opera through offering affordable, intimate, high-quality musical and theatrical performances.” This she achieved immediately when HHOT’s premiere production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte started out playing to 85 percent capacity its first few performances, and then it sold out.

This year, which is Jones’ last at Hubbard Hall as she is moving on in her arts management career, 25 people were turned away from the open dress rehearsal of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly that I attended. The Hall only seats 120. A “rural audience” for opera has not only been engaged, they have been enthused. In case you are not sufficiently impressed, Jones is well under age 40.

Jones started out producing truncated, comedic, family-friendly operas – although the singers and musicians have always been professionals – on the theory that full-length grand opera might scare off first-time opera-goers. And now they are packing the house for full-length productions of Rigoletto and Madama Butterfly.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “And No More Shall We Part” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
(l to r) Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek (photo:  T. Charles Erickson)

(l to r) Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Reviewe by Macey Levin

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s American premiere of And No More Shall We Part by Australian playwright Tom Holloway is a challenging piece to write about. It offers so much in its content that requires great tolerance and that is played with outstanding theatrical energy and insight.

Pam (Jane Kaczmarek) and Don (Alfred Molina), middle-age parents of a son and daughter who are out on their own, live a simple and loving life. Pam has had a disease, never identified, for a period of time. Since treatments will no longer help her, she has decided to end her life to save Don and the children the agony of watching her deteriorate into unbearable pain. Told in flashbacks, we see the couple argue about the process of unassisted suicide. He can’t allow her to do it; she insists it is the best thing to do. He wants to be there when she takes the pills; she says he can‘t because that will implicate him in her death. Little by little he reluctantly acquiesces to everything she asks or demands.

Those of us of a certain age have faced, in one way or another, the traumas they are going through. Facing the loss of a loved one is a test of our own strength for it is not an easy realization that one’s life will be severely changed. This is part of Don’s reaction. He does not want Pam to leave him; he decries her actions as being selfish. He tells her to think of what she is doing to the family by taking herself away. To her, it is an act of love. Watching them is heart-rending.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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

Monday, August 15th, 2016
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: “An American Daughter” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
Pictured (L to R): Jason Danieley, Kerry Bishé, Richard Poe, Stephen Kunken, Roe Hartrampf, Deborah Rush and Diane Davis. (photo:  T. Charles Erickson)

Pictured (L to R): Jason Danieley, Kerry Bishé, Richard Poe, Stephen Kunken, Roe Hartrampf, Deborah Rush and Diane Davis. (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Review by Macey Levin

Almost 20 years ago Wendy Wasserstein’s An American Daughter was produced by Lincoln Center Theater; it received mostly mixed reviews and had a relatively short run. Not being one of Wasserstein’s major plays – i.e. The Heidi Chronicles or The Sisters Rosensweig – it has seldom been revived. The Williamstown Theatre Festival has taken a chance to bring it back in the midst of the current, very ugly presidential campaign. A number of the issues addressed in the play are, regrettably, still with us and, in some cases, exacerbated.

Lyssa Dent Hughes (Diane Davis) has been nominated to become the next surgeon-general. She is the daughter of Senator Allen Hughes (Richard Poe) from Indiana and is married to Walter Abrahmson (Stephen Kunken), a PhD. sociologist who is living in his past. Lyssa is well-equipped to fill the position given her background as a crusading physician whose major cause is women’s health. This does seem to be something of a hindrance (sound familiar coming from today’s political arena?)

Walter lets slip the fact that Lyssa ignored a summons to jury duty. The very plausible explanation in light of her professional responsibilities and being the mother of young twin boys is that it was misplaced. A participant in this conversation is an old self-involved, highly conservative friend Morrow McCarthy (Roe Hartrampf). He is invited to a brunch the next day in Lyssa’s home that is going to be filmed by television commentator Timber Tucker (Jason Danieley) and his crew for a news program.

Morrow, not so inadvertently, mentions the jury duty foul-up. When it is brought up in the interview a brouhaha develops which endangers Lyssa’s appointment. In addition, she refers to her mother as “an Indiana housewife” who made ice box cakes and canapes. This results in her being criticized as being condescending. Her “favorable” ratings go down (has this happened recently?), and she is given advice by everyone on how to handle the situation. The best and simplest advice comes from her father’s fourth wife Charlotte “Chubby” Hughes (Deborah Rush), who tells her to recognize the error and, more importantly, protect her family.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

“Message to Billy” Is a Serious Comedy [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 8th, 2016

bosmessagebilly

On Tuesday (August 9), Multicultural BRIDGE Social Justice In Action campaign will offer a rehearsed reading of a new one-act play, Message to Billy, hosted by Diana Felber Gallery in West Stockbridge, written by Steven Somkin and directed by Andrew Joffe with actors Lora Lee Ecobelli and Eddie Allen.

Steve Somkin offers this Social Justice In Action fundraiser to benefit Multicultural BRIDGE. CEO and Founding Director, Gwendolyn VanSant, “I am delighted to bring this play that covers the intersections of bias, race, class and gun control and conversation to our Berkshire community. I look forward to sharing Steven Somkin’s work and facilitating an engaged conversation afterwards.”

The underlying question of Message to Billy, a serious comedy, is what does it tell our children about ourselves when we let uncomfortable and unwelcome prejudices out in the open.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“The Comedy of Errors” Comes to Ten Broeck Mansion [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, August 5th, 2016
Poster designed by Scot Seguine, AlohaVictory.com

Poster designed by Scot Seguine, AlohaVictory.com

Antipholus of Ephesus is having a really bad day. First, his faithful servant Dromio of Ephesus reports on strange requests he never made, and then his wife barricades him out of his mansion. Before long, the police are after him, and an overzealous exorcist is flinging holy water in his face. Could it be that dark supernatural forces are at work? Or could it be that Antipholus of Syracuse, his long-lost twin brother, has arrived in town with his own servant Dromio – who also happens to be the twin of his brother’s servant – and is causing all sorts of mayhem around town?

Is your head spinning yet? Don’t worry, it’s all part of the fun in Confetti Stage’s production of The Comedy of Errors, the show widely believed to be the first play written by William Shakespeare. Presented in the style and of classic slapstick comedy, this tale of the bard is sure to have audiences laughing hard during its run at Albany’s Ten Broeck Mansion Garden, beginning at 7:30pm tonight (Friday, August 5).

As a special treat for the community, performances at 2pm on Sunday (August 7) and 7:30pm on Thursday (August 11) will be free to everyone. There will be light refreshments available to purchase at all performances. Tickets for all other performances are $15; students and children age 12 and under get in for just $8.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “Or,” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
Tod Randolph and Allyn Burrows in ‘Or,’ at Shakespeare & Company, 2016. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier.

Tod Randolph and Allyn Burrows in ‘Or,’ at Shakespeare & Company. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier

Review by Macey Levin

Aphra Behn is considered to be the first professional woman playwright, having been paid for her first play The Forc’d Marriage in 1670. Her plays, novels and poems were criticized for having too many references to sex and gender equality. There is a great deal of conjecture about her life including the possibility that she was never married to a merchant named John Behn. Having had an earlier career as a spy with a dubious reputation makes her a dramatic subject for a fictionalized, hilarious play by Liz Duffy Adams titled simply Or, at Shakespeare & Co.’s Tina Packer Playhouse in Lenox.

After a prologue and an opening scene that places her in debtor’s prison, the bulk of the play occurs in Behn’s apartments during the course of one night. Several people call on her while she is attempting to write her first play. Through talk about sex, arguments, talk about sex, conversations, talk about sex, displays of wit and a lot of back story, we learn of her adventurous life, but more, we learn of her courage and determination in an age when a woman was not allowed to have a place in the world other than in her home.

Her visitors include King Charles II who has been recently restored to the throne of England and for whom she spied on the Dutch during the second Anglo-Dutch War, the actress Nell Gwynne, a fellow spy William Scot who may also have been working for the Dutch, and the eccentric widow Lady Davenant who produced Behn’s first play. There are several threads of relationships and stories that bind these people together. The recounting of the plot though relatively simple could tend to be convoluted since the interaction of the characters is quite involved. In this production the story is easy to follow because the acting is so wonderful.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

The Cock'N'Bull RestaurantHolly & EvanCaffe LenaJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysCartoonist John CaldwellAdvertise on Nippertown!Berkshire On StageArtist Charles HaymesAlbany PoetsThe LindaHudson SoundsLeave Regular Radio BehindDark Wood Design