Posts Tagged ‘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.

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They’re Back: “The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County” [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 1st, 2016
They are desperate: Amy Friebke, Meg Dooley, Diedre Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher (photo: Mike Molinski)

They are desperate: Amy Friebke, Meg Dooley, Diedre Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher (photo: Mike Molinski)

Taconic Stage Company and Mac-Haydn Theatre have a perfect recipe for a girls’ night out on Mondays this August. The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County, a hilarious musical revue loosely based on those ubiquitous TV shows, is essentially a friendly (and boozy) battle between the weekenders and the locals in New York’s Columbia County.

The musical numbers are all original songs such as, “Don’t Fool Around on Your Broker,” “Shop Till You Drop,” “A Good Handyman Is Hard to Find,” and “It Isn’t Easy Being a Bitch.”

The limited run is four performances – today (Monday, August 1) and Monday, August 15 at 3 & 8pm. at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 518-392-9292 or go to www.machaydntheatre.org.

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Get a Sneak Peek at MASS MoCA’s Phase III Expansion: “It’s a game changer…” [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 29th, 2016
Birds-eye view of MASS MoCA campus and buildings

Birds-eye view of MASS MoCA campus and buildings

There is a lot going on this summer at MASS MoCA in North Adams, but perhaps nothing is more unusual and tempting than a chance to see how their latest expansion project is coming along, physically, financially and artistically.

So in anticipation of the 2017 Memorial Day Weekend unveiling of Building 6 — the site of MASS MoCA’s third and final phase of development of its 16-acre, 28-building campus — the museum will celebrate the progress of its landmark construction and fundraising effort on Saturday (July 30) with an open house of Building 6, to include a construction update, hard hat tours and a reception. Those who are contributors and members will, of course, be in attendance, but the event also offers a chance for those not-yet-supporters to become part of what will soon – once again – be the largest museum for contemporary art in the world.

New programs included in the Phase III expansion include:

A series of temporary exhibitions, long-term installations and scholarly programs realized in partnership with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, which will show Rauschenberg’s works along with the works of artists who have attended the Foundation’s residency program in Captiva, Florida. The inaugural Rauschenberg residency program features a collaboration between artists Lonnie Holley and Dawn DeDeaux.

A long-term exhibition of the carved marble sculpture of Louise Bourgeois — some never before seen — realized in partnership with The Easton Foundation

A long-term exhibition of immersive light and space environments by James Turrell, including a dramatically scaled Ganzfeld, plus a new outdoor “skyspace” observatory to be created from an abandoned fire-suppression water tank

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Stone Witch” @ Fitzpatrick Main Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
Judd Hirsch and Rupak Ginn in “The Stone Witch" (photo: Emma Rothenberg-Ware)

Judd Hirsch and Rupak Ginn in “The Stone Witch” (photo: Emma Rothenberg-Ware)

Review by Macey Levin

A young, struggling author/artist of children’s books is offered the chance to observe his idol, a legendary figure. He sees that he can watch a genius at work and, when the time is right, show him his own book with which he has been struggling for years. Unbeknownst to him, this opportunity is fraught with unknown challenges. This is the premise of Shem Bitterman’s The Stone Witch, currently in its world premiere at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge.

Peter Chandler (Rupak Ginn) has submitted his book to a powerhouse editor, Claire Forlorni (Kristin Griffith), who likes his work but also tells him she needs help to motivate fabled author Simon Grindberg (Judd Hirsch) to finish a project that is now 12 years old. She asks Peter to spend one day a week with Simon. He accepts the task.

Upon arriving at Simon’s isolated country home, he is confronted by the author in his pajamas and robe and who is at once child-like and dour. The older man avoids Peter’s suggestion that they work and instead bounces from nonsensical bantering to fleeting anger to disdain for Peter’s book. Frustrated, Peter tries various ploys to settle Simon down. The day finishes in a detente. Over the next several weeks the young man journeys to the country and then decides to spend his week’s vacation there urging and assisting Simon to finish his book.

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REVIEW: The Capitol Steps @ the Cranwell Spa [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Review by Larry Murray and Pearce Rowley

In the real world, our current slash and burn politics are deadly serious with few exceptions. The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is one of those rare occasions when elected officials and the media can laugh at themselves. In the media, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher and Lewis Black regularly elicit laughs, while the other television talking heads send viewers on a search for headache relief.

The Capitol Steps are a musical revue that mines American politics, and have been doing so for more than 35 years. The story goes that it began at a Christmas party in Senator Charles Percy’s office, and like most Congressional activities, they just don’t know when to stop.

Of course there is lots of humor in politics. And for years, the Capitol Steps have been mining it.

2016 may offer the troupe its richest source of material ever. With a billionaire buffoon, a yiddish socialist and an ambitious, anointed former first lady as their primary targets, the stage is set.

With a fearless and talented quintet of refugees from our nation’s capitol, the performers – with nothing more than a few props – turn our current politics on its head. If only the nightly newscast was half as funny. There are several Capitol Steps troupes criss-crossing the country at any given time; in Lenox, the company has settled into a new performing space at the Cranwell Spa. So new in fact, you can still detect the new-car-smell of turps and sawdust.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Peerless” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
Sasha Diamond as “M” and Laura Sohn as “L” are featured as sisters in Jiehae Park’s comedy “peerless” (photo: Justin Allen)

Sasha Diamond as “M” and Laura Sohn as “L” are featured as sisters in Jiehae Park’s comedy “Peerless” (photo: Justin Allen)

Review by Macey Levin

When Barrington Stage Company Artistic Director Julianne Boyd introduced the play Peerless by Jiehae Park at its opening performance, she said, “Park is a new voice… The rhythms of the play are different… It’s a comedy until it isn’t… It has shades of Macbeth…” She didn’t say, “It’s a terrific piece of theater!” And it certainly is.

The play centers on twin Asian sisters, seniors in high school, awaiting their college acceptances. L (the characters’ names are way off the beaten track) has applied to THE College (institution names are not used), and she is concerned that she’ll be beaten out. Her sister M (Sasha Diamond) assures her she has nothing to worry about, though L (Laura Sohn) is concerned about a nerdy classmate who may or may not be as bright as her.

The first several scenes depicting high school life are quite funny though a shadow of darkness hovers over the comic moments. A third of the way through this 85-minute play a corner is turned, and we slowly find ourselves in a contemporary/teen-age version of Macbeth. You don’t have to know the Shakespeare play, but it adds a level of intrigue to be aware of it as Peerless develops. The play, however, can stand alone.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Pirates of Penzance” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
Will Swenson and  pirates ensemble (photo: John Rando)

Will Swenson and pirates ensemble (photo: John Rando)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

If you are looking for a traditional, D’Oyly Carte staging of The Pirates of Penzance, keep on moving. There is nothing for you to see here. What is on the Main Stage at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is what you get when you let two award-winning 21st century artists and the perfect cast loose with one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s silliest masterpieces. It is a tidal wave of music and mayhem guaranteed to thrill and entertain all but the stodgiest of Savoyards.

After the colossal international success of their fourth collaboration, H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) – think of it as the Hamilton of the Victorian era – Gilbert & Sullivan were free in Pirates (1879 NYC/1880 London) to be fully themselves artistically. The result is G&S at the top of their form – witty, silly fun set to sublime music. It is also the most American of their operettas in feel, and the only one to premiere in New York instead of London.

In 1980, the centennial of Pirates’ London premiere, the New York Public Theatre, then under the leadership of Joseph Papp, presented this operetta as one of its free summer offerings outdoors on the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. This production was directed by Wilford Leach, choreographed by Graciela Daniele, and featured new orchestral arrangements by William Elliott, who also served as the musical director. It went on to a successful run on Broadway, winning seven Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Director for Leach, and Best Choreography for Daniele.

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Kickwheel Premieres “Passage” @ Shire City Sanctuary [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

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For more than a year, Kickwheel Ensemble Theater (the creative arm of The Berkshire Fringe) has been devising a new play that will premiere with a limited run of performances at Pittsfield’s Shire City Sanctuary from Wednesday-Sunday (July 27–31).

Merging original text, music, researched accounts and fantastical imagery, Passage weaves together two parallel storylines of survival: the tale of Sir John Franklin’s doomed 19th expedition to conquer the famed Northwest Passage and the story of a modern day couple on a luxury wellness cruise through the now melting arctic.

A dark comedy exploring themes of a changing climate, love and loss, Passage integrates sea otters on razor scooters, a guru of ultimate enlightenment, dead sailors, marketing executives and questions of hubris and faith to reveal the cyclical nature of human history.

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