Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

James Lecesne Brings “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” to Club Helsinki on Sunday [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, April 10th, 2015

James Lecesne’s “Leonard Pelkey” is a masterpiece of storytelling

James Lecesne’s “Leonard Pelkey” is a masterpiece of storytelling


By Larry Murray

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey is a one man show written and performed by James Lecesne. It has received rave reviews in New York City, so I was delighted to learn that it has been booked into Club Helsinki in Hudson for one night only on Sunday (April 12) at 8pm. Tickets are $40 reserved; $25 for limited bar seating. To secure tickets call 518.828.4800.

A show about the brutal murder of a 14-year-old boy should not, logically speaking, leave you beaming with joy. And yet that’s the paradoxical effect of “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” a superlative solo show at Dixon Place written and performed by James Lecesne, himself a pretty darn dazzling beacon of theatrical talent. When he disappeared, Leonard was wearing a pair of rainbow-colored platform sneakers that he’d made himself by gluing half a dozen flip-flops to the bottom of Converse high-tops.” – Charles Isherwood, New York Times

It was some 40 years ago that a multi-talented Emerson College student James Lecesne and I worked together, he filling the role as stage manager for Boston’s Pocket Mime Theatre at the Church of the Covenant on Newbury Street. We would spend a lot of time talking about life in general and theatre in particular. Who knew then that he would one day create and star in this wonderful and challenging play, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, which ran last month at Dixon Place in Manhattan’s lower east side. I was the fundraiser and publicist for the little mime company with a candy box stage and no dressing rooms, an early force (along with the Boston Repertory Theatre and Cambridge Ensemble) that helped start the explosive growth of theater in Boston in recent decades. Back then, mime was no easy sell, and things have not changed much in the interim. Mime still gets very little respect and is a sure-fire laugh on tv shows like “Saturday Night Live.”

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All About Tina Packer’s New Book, “Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays” [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Tina Packer’s “Women of Will” becomes a book.

Tina Packer’s “Women of Will” becomes a book.

You can say it is a culmination of a lifetime studying Shakespeare and his plays, but it is more than than. It is passion on paper (or your tablet) as well.

Today (Tuesday, April 7), Tina Packer, Shakespeare & Company’s Founding Artistic Director, actor, writer and one of the country’s foremost experts on Shakespeare is launching her new book Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays (336 pages, $27.95). The launch will be followed by more than a month of promotional activity. Published by Knopf, Women of Will is a fierce and witty exploration — part master class, part brilliant analysis — of the women in Shakespeare’s plays that illuminates Shakespeare’s changing understanding of the feminine and reveals some of his deepest insights.

Packer has synthesized 40 years of teaching, textual analysis and stage experience into Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays, which charts Shakespeare’s evolution and his increasingly empathetic and nuanced portrayal of his female characters. It follows Shakespeare’s development from youth to enlightened maturity and explores the spiritual journey he undertook. Most importantly, Packer grapples not only with the language and the historical context of the plays but with them as they were and are actually performed.

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DANCE: Larry Keigwin’s Wit, Musicality and Raw Emotions on Stage April 11-12 @ MASS MoCA [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, April 6th, 2015
Ashley Browne and Matt Baker of Keigwin + Company (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Ashley Browne and Matt Baker of Keigwin + Company (photo by Matthew Murphy)

By Larry Murray

Cultural partners Jacob’s Pillow Dance and MASS MoCA present Keigwin + Company, at 8pm Satuday and 3pm on Sunday (April 11 & 12) at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center. A favorite among dance audiences and critics, Keigwin + Company will bring a mixed program of high art and pure entertainment featuring a variety of diverse contemporary works that embody the company’s signature wit, broad musicality and profound emotional capacity. Annual co-presentations by Jacob’s Pillow and MASS MoCA are made possible by the Irene Hunter Fund for Dance.

Ella Baff of Jacob’s Pillow talks about Larry Keigwin and the partnership with MASS MoCA:

The job of an Artistic Director is to curate performances many other activities, and through that, create an exciting environment for artists and the public. I search far and wide for talent to bring a great variety of dance styles and traditions from all over the world. I travel, read, listen, look, network, attend performances, rehearsals, meet with artists, managers and agents. I cast a wide net and shape a Festival out of it from possibilities. I spend hundreds of hours seeing performances, rehearsals and watching videos.” – Ella Baff

We had a lively email exchange with Ella Baff, and quotes from that correspondence are in the pull-out quotes we have scattered in this preview.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Berkshire Theatre Group Offers Tempting Array of Comedy, Drama and Musicals in 2015 [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
In addition to top Equity actors, the Berkshire Theatre Group trains students who are are serious about preparing themselves for a career in theatre arts and are part of the upcoming 86th season.

In addition to top Equity actors, the Berkshire Theatre Group trains students who are are serious about preparing themselves for a career in theatre arts and are part of the upcoming 86th season.

The announcement of the upcoming 2015 season for the Berkshire Theatre Group came in two announcements a month apart, but here is the rundown of the theatrical offerings from the now merged Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Colonial Theatre.

Tickets may be purchased in person at the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield or by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org. The Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday 10am–5pm, Saturdays 10am–2pm or on any performance day from 10am until curtain. All plays, schedules, casting and prices are subject to change.

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Sexmob Adds Unusual Jazz Twist to 1925 Silent Film “Maciste in Hell” [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Sex Mob brings jazz and special effects to a classic silent film at Mass MoCA’s Club B-10  on April 4

Sexmob brings jazz and special effects to a classic silent film at MASS MoCA’s Club B-10

At MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday night (April 4), the propulsive quartet Sexmob, which combines mind-blowing jazz chops with a highly developed sense of wit and mischief, performs its brand-new original score to Maciste in Hell, the seminal work of the Italian silent era. The great Bartolomeo Pagano stars as Maciste, a Herculean strongman whose physical prowess and matching virtue are tested when the Devil and his minions capture him and drag him to hell. Fellini cites the film as one that inspired him to lead a life in cinema.

Originally formed as a vehicle for Steven Bernstein (most notable for his work as the trumpeter for Levon Helm from 2004 to 2012) and his slide trumpet, Sexmob quickly evolved to serve a much nobler purpose. Immediately after Bernstein assembled his band (Steven Bernstein, slide trumpet; Briggan Krauss, alto sax; Tony Scherr, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums), they began a residency at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan, largely playing Bernstein’s original songs. During a special evening of film music, however, the audience went crazy for the James Bond theme. Bernstein and his band realized that audiences engage more with music they recognize, and Sexmob’s legacy would be forever changed.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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Tony Simotes Joins Berkshire Theatre Group as Managing Director [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, March 30th, 2015
Tony Simotes. Photo by Kevin Sprague ©2010

Tony Simotes (Photo by Kevin Sprague ©2010)

In news that is as surprising as welcome, Tony Simotes has decided to stay in the Berkshires and apply his numerous talents to the growth of the Berkshire Theatre Group. The question of what would become of “our Tony” following his departure from Lenox’s Shakespeare & Company last October has ended. Happily.

The announcement was made by Berkshire Theatre Group’s Artistic Director/CEO, Kate Maguire. Simotes will become BTG’s Managing Director and an Artistic Associate and will begin work at BTG today (Monday, March 30).

It is reported that his responsibilities will include budgeting, fundraising, community outreach and helping formulate BTG’s strategic plan.

In an on-air interview at WAMC-FM, Simotes also spoke about his reasons for leaving Shakespeare & Company.

A True Original, Carl Hancock Rux Returns to MASS MoCA on Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, March 27th, 2015

One of the most magnetic and engaging performers ever to grace a stage at MASS MoCA, Carl Hancock Rux returns on Saturday night (March 28) for an intimate set of songs and poetry set to live piano music that ranges from the blues to German lieder to Lili Boulanger. The New York Times says, “Carl Hancock Rux is full of promise and virtuosity… a gifted poet who offers up vibrant imagery like a street corner preacher in the midst of a nervous breakdown.”

An American poet, novelist, singer-songwriter, essayist and Bessie Award and OBIE Award-winning artist, Rux’s poetry deals with issues of race, religion, politics, sexuality, isolation and personal relationships, while making use of satire, naturalism and rhetoric to convey the observations embedded within his poetry. Rux delivers his poetry with an unparalleled lyrical intimacy: his voice, both literally and in terms of his writing, is undeniably his own.

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Paul McCartney to Induct Ringo Starr into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Paul and Ringo

Paul and Ringo

By Larry Murray

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues to be pretty much a guy thing, reflecting the world of past half century or so of the macho dominated business. But there is still a lot of history here, as the powers who decide these things has revealed special guests for the 30th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, April 18, at Cleveland’s historic Public Hall. They include:

Paul McCartney inducting Ringo Starr

Stevie Wonder inducting Bill Withers

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