Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

Theater Review: “Romance Novels for Dummies” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 25th, 2016
Mary Wiseman and Justin Long (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Mary Wiseman and Justin Long (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Theater review by Larry Murray

Part romantic comedy and part relationship play, Romance Novels for Dummies had its world premiere on the main stage of the Williamstown Theatre Festival last week. There was drama, tension, laughs, pathos and cleverly drawn characters from rising playwright Boo Killebrew, but not enough to fill the big theater where her play was being staged. Romance Novels is the kind of play that is perfect for off-Broadway, an intimate tale of two sisters, with a series of dates that all go wrong, and the ghost of a deceased husband and the ongoing responsibilities of raising a daughter casting a shadow over it all.

Set in present day Brooklyn, the Eberwine sisters Liz (Mary Wiseman) and Bernie (Ashley Austin Morris) have moved to the big city from Mississippi. They brought with them six-year-old Lily (Emily Lyons) who is being raised by her stay at home mom and her wilder, pot-smoking, drinking and swearing older sister. Mom is trying to figure out what to do with her life, thus her interest in learning how to write romance novels from a self-help book.

Along the way she is encouraged to do some research by some real life dating, and that is how we meet Justin Long who plays Jake, Charles and Myron, her three research subjects who could also become real life boyfriends. Long, of course, is a natural character actor and quickly endows the three different guys with unique voices, stances and personalities. Mary Wiseman’s Liz has her own special response to each of them, and the succession of dates fills in one aspect of her personality.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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“Or,” Takes a Look at the First Female Playwright @ Shakespeare & Co [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
Tod Randolph (photo:  Kevin Spragu

Tod Randolph (photo: Kevin Sprague)

In Lenox, Shakespeare & Company presents Liz Duffy Adams’ playful comedy Or, based on the real life of Britain’s first female playwright Aphra Behn. Directed by Alice Reagan and featuring actress Tod Randolph, the in-the-round production begins previews on Saturday (July 23), officially opens on Friday, July 29 and runs through Sunday, September 4 in the Tina Packer Playhouse.

“The play is bittersweet,” says director Reagan. “We know that Aphra Behn would be forgotten and rediscovered many times in the more than 300 years since her death. And yet, the plot keeps moving, the world keeps spinning, and lovers will love. Or, is the story of one woman’s artistic beginnings and a larger story of a permissive, exciting moment in history when the culture shifted an inch or two, and a woman slipped in the door.”

Aphra Behn, known to history as the first credited female playwright, has one opportunity to have her play produced and fulfill her desperate desire to leave the spy trade behind her. The catch? She must finish and deliver her play by morning all while fighting off distracting romantic temptations, attempting to win a pardon, and trying to save the life of royalty. Her hectic antics unfold into a night of hilarity, passion and self discovery that tells a story that transcends time.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

THEATER REVIEW: “The Chinese Room” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
(L to R): Sue Jean Kim, Brían F. O’Byrne and Carson Elrod (photo: Daniel Rader)

(L to R): Sue Jean Kim, Brían F. O’Byrne and Carson Elrod (photo: Daniel Rader)

Theater review by Macey Levin

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda, the wizard Prospero’s teen-age daughter, upon seeing men other than her father for the first time, says, “Brave new world that has such people in ‘t.” Prospero responds, “’Tis new to thee.” The world premiere of Michael West’s play The Chinese Room currently at the Williamstown Theatre Festival explores a probable new world for the 21st century.

It is believed that in time computers will be virtually human; not only will they be able to think but also feel. The Chinese Room was part of an experiment by John Searles in opposition to this theory of artificial intelligence. An English-speaking subject would be placed in a room with several batches of Chinese writings and symbols with instructions in English. The subject would “translate” the material into English. A party outside the room, reading the translation, would think the subject actually knew Chinese. The intent was to show that one can be trained to do and say things but would not have intrinsic knowledge of what he or she was actually doing and, in all probability, did not have the emotional structure possessed by humans.

In the play, Frank McClintock (Brian F. O’Byrne) is fighting with the use of electronic devices, including holograms and the Cloud, to maintain power over the firm he founded while facing an attempt to wrest control from him by his old friend Hal. He is determined to keep all the firm’s information so that he can use it to return his wife Lily (Laila Robins), who is suffering from dementia, to the woman she was before her mind started to deteriorate. After rebooting Susannah (Sue Jean Kim), a droid he created, urging his son Zack (Elliot Trainor) to go to bed and then placating the confused Lily, Frank is visited by Daniel (Carson Elrod), another droid he designed, who has been sent by the firm to retrieve all the records and devices in Frank’s possession. Daniel is focused on his assignment and has no regard for Frank’s pleas or emotional state. Thus begins the drama of the exploration of the Chinese Room theory.

Judd Hirsch Stars in “The Stone Witch” [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 21st, 2016
Actor Judd Hirsch

Actor Judd Hirsch

Berkshire Theatre Group welcomes the world premiere of The Stone Witch, featuring Tony, Golden Globe, Emmy and Obie Award-winning actor Judd Hirsch.

It’s an interesting tale. Peter, an aspiring children’s book author, is sent to the cabin of his idol, Simon, a reclusive award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books, to help him finish what might be his last book. Desperate to save his own career, Peter hopes to discover the secret of Simon’s genius, but first he must accept the impossible task: helping Simon confront the monsters that populate the woods inside his mind. This darkly humorous play makes us question the cost of success.

Written by Pen/USA Award-winning playwright Shem Bitterman (Harm’s Way, Open House, Influence) and directed by Drama Desk and Humanities Award-winning director Steve Zuckerman (Broadway: Nuts), The Stone Witch opens in previews tonight (July 21) and runs through Saturday, August 20 at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Terri Mateer Shoots & Scores With “A Kind Shot” @ Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

terrimateer

Whether working the court or navigating life itself, former pro basketball player Terri Mateer has taken plenty of hits — but that hasn’t diminished her drive to score. A Kind Shot, the one-woman show she’s created out of her experiences, will be performed by Mateer herself this weekend (July 22-24) at the Bridge Street Theatre’s intimate Speakeasy in Catskill.

Fresh, brave, daring and performed with an athlete’s grace and confidence (but none of the indulgent swagger), the six-foot one-inch Mateer’s autobiographical show contains plenty of insider anecdotes and famous names that will appeal to fans of street, college and pro sports. Along with her experience in these worlds, Mateer has also worked as a model, a stripper, a designer and an actor. Raised by a single hippie mom and an African American surrogate father, and mentored by numerous others, she credits them with giving her the fortitude to confront the sexual abuse and harassment she’s experienced. Fortunately, it seems there’s been a happy ending for this girl who never quite knew who she was.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“peerless” Premieres at Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

peerless

Jiehae Park’s comedy peerless will be seen for the first time in the Berkshires at the Barrington Stage Company, the award-winning theater in downtown Pittsfield.

Directed by Louisa Proske, peerless begins previews on Thursday (July 21), officially opens on Sunday (July 24), and runs through Saturday, August 6 at BSC’s St. Germain Stage.

peerless tells the story of brilliant, ambitious twin sisters L and M when they realize that perfect academics and superb extracurricular activities aren’t enough to get into their dream college – so they decide to take matters into their own hands. peerless is a comedy…until it isn’t.

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“The Tempest” Comes to Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
(Photo by Haley Barbieri)

(Rehearsal photo by Haley Barbieri)

Shakespeare’s magical (and final) play, The Tempest, a story of revenge and redemption on a magical, mysterious island, opens soon in a free production outdoors on the First Street Common in Pittsfield. The Tempest is directed by Enrico Spada and features Berkshire theatre veteran Glenn Barrett as Prospero, leading a cast of professionals and young adult actors from across the Berkshires.

Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park’s third annual free production opens at 8pm on Thursday (July 21), following Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays street festival that evening, and runs Thursdays–Sundays at 8pm for 12 performances ending Sunday, August 7. Admission is free. Performances take place on Pittsfield’s First Street Common, located next to the Zion Lutheran Church. Audiences are invited to bring picnic blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy the romance under the stars.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

World Premiere of “Romance Novels for Dummies” in Williamstown [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
Mary Wiseman (L) and Justin Long (R) in rehearsal together for the world premiere of Romance Novels for Dummies by Boo Killebrew (photo: Daniel Rader)

Mary Wiseman (L) and Justin Long (R) in rehearsal together for the world premiere of “Romance Novels for Dummies” (photo: Daniel Rader)

By Larry Murray

You probably don’t know much about the new comedy Romance Novels for Dummies by Boo Killebrew since it is another world premiere play for the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel, it has a top notch cast replete with personal favorite Justin Long, the stunning Mary Wiseman, plus the enchanting Emily Lyons, Ashley Austin Morris, Connie Ray and the anchor, a solid Andrew Weems.

The set-up is wonderful, full of both dramatic and comic possibilities. Sisters Liz and Bernie couldn’t be more different: Liz is a good, Southern stay-at-home mom; Bernie is a flailing actress smoking and swearing her way through New York City. But when Liz is suddenly widowed, she and her young daughter move in with Bernie to start again. While Bernie challenges all of Liz’s assumptions about life, love and raising a child, Liz goes out on a series of internet dates which eclipse the grief, fear and gentility she’s known for so long. Can Liz compel her own story to end like a romance novel?

Romance Novels for Dummies is a play which asks us to imagine how we might handle the curve-balls — big and small — that life throws us.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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