Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

Talking with Justin Long about “Living On Love” at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Justin Long (l) and Renee Fleming

Justin Long (l) and Renee Fleming

Interview and preview of “Living on Love” by Larry Murray

Sitting down with Justin Long, it cames as no surprise that he is passionate about theater, film and the stage. (He has been seen in WTF’s One Slight Hitch and Seminar). What is a revelation is his incredibly fast mind, combined with an earthiness and passion that reveals what is truly important to him. It’s not fame, parties or celebrity. Turns out he really loves the mountains, the fresh air and the Williamstown Theatre Festival which brings him to our doorstep. Sitting down to talk with Justin during rehearsals for the world premiere Main Stage production, Joe DiPietro’s Living on Love, we learned a lot about Long and were surprised by his honesty and candor.

He’s part of a great cast that is preparing Living With Love which runs from Wednesday (July 16)-July 26. It also includes Anna Chlumsky (In the Loop, “Veep”), Renée Fleming (Le Nozze di Figaro, La Traviata), Blake Hammond (First Date, Sister Act), Scott Robertson (Cabaret, Damn Yankees), and Douglas Sills (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Little Shop of Horrors).

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“A Great Wilderness” at WTF: A Story About Evangelicals Who Think They Can “Pray the Gay Away” [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 14th, 2014
From left: Mia Dillon, Jeffrey DeMunn, Tasha Lawrence and Kevin Geer. (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

From left: Mia Dillon, Jeffrey DeMunn, Tasha Lawrence and Kevin Geer (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: If the purpose of this play is to evoke a visceral reaction, it has succeeded beyond the playwright’s wildest dreams. I hated it.

In the program notes, playwright Samuel D. Hunter prepares us for A Great Wilderness by revealing that “I wasn’t completely sure I even wanted to write the play.” As a gay man who just saw it I would like to state, gently, that I am not sure I really wanted to see the play, either, Sam.

Still you have to give points to the Williamstown Theatre Festival for having the audacity to undertake it. WTF has a real passion for exploring the human condition, so it fits right in with their dramatic profile, focusing more on the people than the issues as a way of trying to understand them.

Gail M. Burns: I wanted to see it. I find the question of “curing” or “fixing” LGBT people as abhorrent as you, and I don’t understand the mindset that finds it not only a rational idea, but a necessary one. I came away with a better understanding of the fundamentalist Christian worldview.

Larry: To be clear, the play is about the characters, not the issues, and at the center of this gang of evangelical Christians is Walt (Jeffrey DeMunn) whose opening lines were said softly so as not to alarm Daniel (Steven Amenta). The young man, who got caught looking at gay porn on the computer, was unceremoniously shipped off to Walt to get the gay out of him, and was very soft-spoken as well. At intermission, I heard some people commenting they could barely make out their initial conversations, so I was relieved it wasn’t just me.

Director Eric Ting strived for realism in the dialogue, an admirable choice, but did it so well he left much of the audience, many of whom are older ticket buyers, wondering what was actually being said as Walt tried to assure Daniel there would be no shock therapy, just prayer, conversation and the isolation of the woods where there were no signals for the teen’s smartphone.

Gail: Despite my own hearing loss, I am famous for being able to hear and understand every word spoken or sung on a stage – even when I can’t hear my own husband sitting next to me (usually something about washing the dishes) – but even my well-tempered ears strained to hear much of this play. I heard it, but it wasn’t easy! I would suggest that either the actors project or some area mics be employed.

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The Singers Shine in “A Little Night Music” from Berkshire Theatre Group [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 11th, 2014
Kate Baldwin and Graham  Rowat (photo: Reid Thompson)

Kate Baldwin and Graham Rowat (photo: Reid Thompson)

Theatre review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Gail M. Burns: Four couples meet, mate and miscommunicate in the woods as Midsummer Night smiles three times – “First, for the young who know nothing, second for the fools who know too little, and third for the old who know too much.” No, not Shakespeare, although the parallels are obvious, but Stephen Sondheim as the Berkshire Theatre Group presents his delightful 1973 musical A Little Night Music at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

Roseann Cane: The more Sondheim musicals I see (and see again), the more I’m astonished by the man’s genius. I cannot think of another composer and lyricist whose work displays such depth, breadth and variety, who achieves the nearly impossible feat of transmitting intellect, wit and emotion. This production is blessed by a cast gifted with sumptuous singing voices and some standout acting capable of rendering all three with ease and style

Gail: This is a score that I have loved and memorized and cherished in my heart for four decades, and, as with anything so personally meaningful, I find I have a hard time finding words to help others understand how beautiful this score is and how the incredibly clever and intricate lyrics are rendered easy enough to understand so that even someone who has never heard them before can follow along as they rapidly advance both plot and character.

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Summer-Long Chesterfest Music Series Begins Tonight at Chesterwood [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 11th, 2014
The Pistolwhips, July 18, 2014 at Chesterwood.

The Pistolwhips, July 18, 2014 at Chesterwood

A wide range of contemporary American musicians, from folk, alt-country and rockabilly to garage, punk and psych-folk bands, are scheduled to perform this summer at Chesterfest, a new Americana music series presented by Chesterwood in Stockbridge, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Chesterfest will kick off at 6:30pm tonight (July 11) with singer-songwriter Mikey Sweet (returning to Chesterfest for the second year), followed by the Picky Bastards. Local sponsors of Chesterfest include Tune Street, Toole Insurance and Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club.

The concerts will be held at Chesterwood on Friday evenings, rain or shine, from tonight through August 29. Solo artists perform at 6:30pm, followed by bands at 7:30pm. The grounds open at 6pm; attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for lawn seating. Tickets are $10 per person; children under 18 are free. A glass of Wandering Star Craft Brewery beer, made in the Berkshires, is included with adult admission. Homemade snacks from Delicious Traditions and refreshments, including beer, will be available for purchase. More info: http://chesterwood.org/chesterfest-the-new-americana-music-festival-2014/

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Mystery Actors in “High Dive” Audience Have Fun at Chester Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
High Dive @ Chester Theatre Company

Come early to a performance and become part of the show.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to involve our audience in our 25th Anniversary celebration than with High Dive, Leslie Ayvazian’s remarkably brave, innovative and fun theatre piece,” said Chester Theatre Artistic Director Byam Stevens. “Brave, because it takes incredible courage for an actor to work with 35 strangers every night. Innovative, because it possesses a unique structure with its scripted lines for audience members. Fun, well, because it’s fun! Audience members who want to take part should come 15-20 minutes early to be “cast” by Jennifer (Rohn) in the lobby. They’ll be given sides (their lines) and direction – then the fun begins! This is truly not to be missed!”

In High Dive, comic misadventures pile up as Leslie, perched on a high dive platform, flashes back to the succession of farcical disasters that culminates in her present predicament. High Dive is a one-woman show with a very large cast — the other actors? The audience, who are invited to read lines from the script, and thereby experience the point of the play – the willingness to take risks and dive in. According to The NY Daily News, “High Dive is well worth the plunge. This brief and light-hearted look at Ayvazian’s misadventures… is an engaging and often hilarious show from beginning to end.”

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“The Dancing Fox: Wisdom Tales of Middle East” from Mettawee River Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The Dancing Fox

The Mettawee River Theatre Company has announced their summer touring dates for its 2014 production, The Dancing Fox: Wisdom Tales of the Middle East. Performances will take place at outdoor venues in upstate New York and nearby Vermont and Massachusetts, and are scheduled from Thursday (July 10) through Sunday, August 3.

The Dancing Fox, a reprise of a 2003 Mettawee production, is gathered from the shared folk traditions of Jews and Arabs, including the writings of Sufi mystics, along with fables and folklore of the region. In these tales we encounter some clever foxes, dim-witted fish, a vengeful snake and other colorful creatures, as well as a number of wise and foolish humans. New perspectives emerge from the comic twists and tragic turns of their adventures. A variety of masks, puppets and giant figures will be used to flesh out the particular realm of each tale.

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Dance Theatre of Harlem to Dance Elegiac Ballet with Music by Arvo Pärt [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Taurean Green and Ingrid Silva of Dance Theatre of Harlem (photo: Rachel Neville)

Taurean Green and Ingrid Silva of Dance Theatre of Harlem (photo: Rachel Neville)

Following a successful opening week of Festival 2013, Dance Theatre of Harlem returns to Jacob’s Pillow in Becket on Wednesday (July 9) with an all-new program. DTH gave its first professional performance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 1970; since that date, DTH and the Pillow have enjoyed a longstanding and fruitful artistic relationship.

The company, led by Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, performs Donald Byrd’s smooth yet power-packed contemporary ballet Contested Space, which features a plethora of solos and duets. past-carry-forward, created for DTH by Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, conveys the spirit and significance of the Harlem Renaissance. The cornerstone of this dynamic evening is the late choreographer Ulysses Dove’s moving, elegiac ballet Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, danced to “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” by Arvo Pärt. The company appears in a special seven-show engagement in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow, from Wednesday (July 9) through Sunday (July 13).

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“Housewives of Columbia County” Returns to Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 7th, 2014

The Real Housewives of Columbia County

Mac-Haydn Monday shows return to the theater, with four performances this summer offering even more musical entertainment during the theatre’s 46th season beginning with The Real Desperate Housewives of Columbia County and ending with Side by Side.

Carl Ritchie’s original musical The REAL Desperate Housewives of Columbia County will prove that “Country Life’s a B**ch” on three Monday nights beginning tonight (July 7), followed by July 14 & 28. The tongue-in-cheek take off on the “Real Housewives” shows, described in a Backstage review as “a fun, fizzy, fast cocktail” with “wit, sparkle and pizazz,” tells it like it is about locals, weekenders, divorce, marriage, parties – all the things that make country life a desperate delight!

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