Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

Tony Awards: A Beacon of Hope on a Somber Day [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, June 13th, 2016


Laughter, applause and sorrow
Opinion by Larry Murray

Theater people are not perfect, despite the many awards for being the best, but of late the increasing diversity of the industry, from the Berkshires to Broadway, has been steady, and ever more noticeable. On stage as in the lives of theater people, there is an embrace of inclusiveness that is a role model for the rest of America. And if I dare say so, the audiences that go to live theater are less inclined to throw around hateful epithets that lead to sort of deadly hostility that broke out in an Orlando nightclub. And though the LGBT club-goers were primarily Latino and male out to celebrate, make no mistake, it was diverse as well with women, white boys and believers of all faiths among the dead and injured. Assault weapons are, after all, an equal opportunity automatic killing machine.

The theatre community, at every turn, refuses to let hate win. Through the AIDS crisis, through 9/11, through many unthinkable tragedies, the theatre community has said: We will not spread hate. All people are welcome here. When other communities say “your religion makes you a terrorist” or “your sexuality makes you an outsider,” we say: We love you. We want to hear your stories. We want to raise our voices together to affect change. Anyone who has ever actually read a history book knows: this action matters. Hate rhetoric creates more hate. Acceptance creates more acceptance. Despite the action of many citizens, I feel more hopeless all the time that gun control policy will change. But if I do have any hope at all, I have that hope because of the theatre. We are proud, we will not be silenced, we will affect change, we will spread love.” – Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Director of Programming at Feinstein’s 54 Below on Facebook

The tragedy in Orlando was noted last night by the host of the 2016 Tony Awards, James Cordon, but in the great tradition of show business, the show went on; and so, amidst our tears, a round of applause for the winners, please, including Hamilton with 11 Tonys.

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Re-Cap: Berkshire International Film Fest 2016 [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 10th, 2016
Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) poster 2016.

Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) poster 2016.

With the final events of last week’s Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) now history, the star-studded event is finally wrapped up. For a few days in June, the Berkshires were filled with luminaries such as Yo-Yo-Ma, Bruce Dern, Karen Allen, Meryl Streep, Ann Roth, Joan Anderson, Sheila Nevins, Mike Haley, Kent Jones, Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow, Gregory Crewdson, Julie Goldman, Ethel Sheffer and Douglas Trumbull. They were among 40 filmmakers in attendance. In addition, the BIFF announced the winners of the annual BIFF Juried Prize Award and the BIFF Audience Award.

In the Juried documentary category, the winner was Untouchable written and directed by David Feige, and in the Juried narrative category the Iranian entry, Wednesday, May 9 was awarded the prize. The Jury prize is sponsored by GWFF USA and was presented at a brunch Sunday at allium Restaurant in Great Barrington. Serving on the BIFF Jury were actors Mary Kay Place and Peter Riegert, Josh Braun and Dan Braun of Submarine Entertainment, casting director Gretchen Rennell, film executive Bob Harper and New York Film Festival director Kent Jones.

The Audience Award Winner for best narrative feature was a tie between Year by the Sea directed by Alexander Janko and starring Karen Allen, and the French film Our Women directed by Richard Barry. The Audience Award Winner for best documentary feature was the Sundance hit film Life, Animated directed by Roger Rees Williams.

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Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don’t Know, But Should… [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 10th, 2016
Bill Finn (l) and Sally Wilfert (r) will be on hand to showcase songs by upcoming show tune writers (photo: Stephen Sorokoff)

William Finn (l) and Sally Wilfert (r) will be on hand to showcase songs by upcoming show tune writers (photo: Stephen Sorokoff)

Tony Award-winner William Finn returns this weekend to Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield to host his popular showcase of new show tunes and other pop songs. With the cumbersome title of Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don’t Know, But Should…, Finn takes the Boyd-Quinson mainstage at 8pm tonight & Saturday (June 10 & 11).

Directed by Brandon Ivie, the cast of singers include: Jesse Gage, Demond Green, Sara Kase, Alex Syiek, Sally Wilfert and Emily Walton. Josh Freilich and Benji Goldsmith are music directors.

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FREE: Pre-Season Community Day @ Jacob’s Pillow on Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 9th, 2016


Following the success of last year’s Community Day, Jacob’s Pillow – the home to America’s longest-running dance festival and recipient of the National Medal of Arts – will again host their pre-season Community Day with free, family-friendly dance classes, performances and activities from 12noon-3pm on Saturday (June 11).

A campus-wide event in Becket, the festivities will include free dance classes for participants of all ages in varying dance styles, as well as a special children’s beginning ballet class taught by Berkshire Pulse instructor Sarah Daunt. Chuck Paquette, faculty member of Williams College and Berkshire Dance Theatre, will teach an all-levels Modern Class in the historic Sommers Studio at 12noon, followed by an all-levels Zumba class taught by certified Zumba instructor Rachael Plaine. All Community Day participants will have the opportunity to learn a hip-hop combination at the outdoor Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space from Berkshire-based company dysFUNKcrew and Berkshire Dance Theatre.

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Berkshire Pride Dance & Cabaret @ the Colonial on Friday [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016


By Larry Murray

Ever since the first whispers of the Berkshire Dance Party and Cabaret in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month began circulating, the chatter has been nonstop. Just what form will this event take? Event planner Oskar Hallig says they plan to take over Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre stage, lobby and adjacent club, the Garage. In other words, a major event. And the buzz is building. There simply has never been as large or openly visible event as this in the Berkshires before. Across the country June is Pride Month for the gay community, and this is a helluva way to kick it off.

On Friday (June 3) the huge Colonial stage will be converted into the Berkshire’s own Studio 54 for the dance party itself. Beginning at 8pm, guests will walk the pink carpet to enter. Many will head straight for a messaging booth to send notes before following the music to the dance floor.

Over in the Garage, where drinks and snacks will be available, a stage and cabaret will provide a completely different atmosphere, with a piano bar, and a stage where drag queens and belly dancers will entertain the guests. And that’s just for starters. The event is shaping up to be the party of the year, and honey, you don’t have to be gay to attend. This is too good for just the LGBT community, so many of their allies will be celebrating right along side them! Diversity and unity will reign on this special night.

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Berkshire International Film Festival 2016 Kicks Off Today [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
Kevin Sprague photo from BIFF 2015 – and 2016 is looking great, too!

Kevin Sprague photo from BIFF 2015 – and 2016 is looking great, too!

The 11th annual Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) kicks off its packed weekend line-up of films today (Thursday, June 2), marked by stronger international programming and continuing dedication to the best in documentary film. The BIFF will showcase 26 documentaries, 26 narrative features and 17 short films from 26 countries, including Germany, Afghanistan, Brazil, Australia, Iran, England, India, France, China, Italy, Israel, Austria, Norway, Hungary, Argentina and Iceland. The festival runs from today (June 2) through Sunday (June 5) in Great Barrington and from Friday-Sunday in Pittsfield.

To quote BIFF Founder and Executive Director, Kelley Vickery: “I believe this is one of the best festivals we have ever programmed. I am absolutely thrilled not only with our special events, but also our incredible line-up of foreign films, documentaries, narrative dramas, and shorts. Once again, we have secured the best in independent film which is what our audience has come to expect. It is exciting to have Yo-Yo Ma, Bruce Dern, Karen Allen, Doug Trumbull, Noah Baumbach, Gregory Crewdson, Jake Paltrow and Kent Jones as highlights in our program. It doesn’t get better than that! The BIFF’s programming has combined our community’s sense of wonder, curious spirit, intellectual needs, and desire to engage in and explore the world around us, as well as to learn about stories close to home. With 26 countries represented, the BIFF truly brings the world to the Berkshires!”

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WTF Presents “The Roommate” @ the Clark [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
Roommates: S. Epatha Merkerson (l) and Deirdre O’Connell (r).

Roommates: S. Epatha Merkerson (l) and Deirdre O’Connell (r)

The Williamstown Theatre Festival presents a free reading of The Roommate with S. Epatha Merkerson and Deirdre O’Connell at 2:30pm on Thursday (June 2) at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. The reading will be followed by a conversation about the process of working on new plays as well as WTF’s exciting summer 2016 season.

While the event is free, reservations are required. Visit or call 413 458 0524 to make a reservation. The reading begins promptly at 2:30 pm and runs for approximately two hours. Late arrivals will not be seated.

The Roommate, written by Jen Silverman and directed by Mike Donahue, tells the story of empty-nested and husband-less Sharon, who takes on a roommate in her Iowa City home. She gets a bit more than she bargained for when Robyn, a beat poet from the Bronx, moves in. As an unexpected friendship ignites between these two very different women, The Roommate asks us to consider the surprises — both troubling and thrilling — we face when we open ourselves up to new experiences late in life.

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Undie Rockers the Skivvies Bring Comedy-Pop to Pittsfield [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, May 27th, 2016
The Skivvies

The Skivvies

Undie-rock, comedy-pop duo the Skivvies to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield as part of the On The Stage Series at 8pm & 10:30pm on Saturday (May 28) and 7pm on Sunday (May 29). The Skivvies will be performing up close and personal, with artists and audience together on the historic Colonial stage. A post-show reception will also be held on Sunday at Hotel on North.

Praised by The Wall Street Journal as “smart, sophisticated…ingenious,” the Skivvies are Lauren Molina (cello and vocals) and Nick Cearley (ukulele and vocals), award-winning singer/actor/musiciansfrom New York City, performing stripped down arrangements of eclectic covers and eccentric originals. Not only is the music stripped down, but the Skivvies literally strip down to their underwear to perform.

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