“Taffeta Memories” Comes to Colonie’s Cook Park

June 15th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

Take a spin back to America of Happier Days as we celebrate the reunion of the sister singing group, the Taffetas at the Village of Colonie Theater in the Park. These four sassy ladies will be performing Taffeta Memories, produced by the Farmer’s Market of the Village of Colonie. This production will be performed outdoors at the beautiful Frank A. Leak Amphitheater for the Arts in Cook Park tonight (June 15) through Sunday, June 18. Admission is FREE.

Directed by Michael C. Mensching, with musical direction by Alex Malsan, the musical comedy features The Taffetas, four singing sisters from Muncie, Indiana who in the were the talk of the town back in the 1950s. Now almost a half-century later, they are putting on a reunion show. However, their reunion is bittersweet, with a last minute departure of singing sister Deb. But never fear, this awesome alto didn’t storm out in a diva fit, but was presented a surprise opportunity for a major life-sustaining operation.

Please join us in sending thoughts and prayers to that Swinging Sister, and in welcoming baby sister Jane, fresh from a solo tour and ready to join her older sisters and create a wonderful reunion event. Gosh, it’s just like when little-now-all-grown-up Janet Jackson toured with the Jackson Five…

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THEATER REVIEW: “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at the Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

June 14th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara
Freddy (Colin Pritchard) and company singing about all the “great big stuff” Freddy wants.

Freddy (Colin Pritchard) and company singing about all the “great big stuff” Freddy wants.

By Roseann Cane

In 1964, Marlon Brando pleasantly surprised critics and fans with his wildly funny portrayal of a goofy con artist in the film Bedtime Story. David Niven played a perfect foil – a suave, gentlemanly con artist – with Shirley Jones completing the triumvirate as their demure, naive prey.

The remake, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, appeared in 1988, with Steve Martin and Michael Caine reprising the Brando and Niven roles with Glenne Headly stepping in for Jones. (Just before I sat down to write this, I was sad to learn that the very gifted Ms. Headly had died.) The writers cleverly added a contemporary plot twist, and this version was every bit as hilarious as the original, if not more so.

2005 brought the Broadway opening of the stage version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Jeffrey Lane. Although the show received mixed reviews in the U.S., it was wildly successful in the U.K., and enjoyed a good, long run on Broadway. It was nominated for a slew of Tony and Drama Desk awards, with Norbert Leo Butz garnering one of each.

The current production at the Mac-Haydn Theatre, which opened last weekend, was my first time seeing it on the stage. The Mac is a rather small theater in the round, which presents some real challenges for a director staging a big, brassy musical, and I have been impressed on more than one occasion to observe their directors rising to the challenge, and then some. For the most part, director John Saunders did an admirable job, as did the actors he directed. The show opened with Sebastiani Romagnolo’s well-choreographed riot of singer/dancers seemingly emerging from everywhere in the house to the stage and back with effortless abandon. To make such well-executed chaos seem effortless is an impressive accomplishment.

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“Million Dollar Quartet” Opens Berkshire Theatre Group’s 2017 Summer Season [Berkshire on Stage]

June 13th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

Berkshire Theatre Group presents the Tony Award-winning jukebox musical and epic night of rock ‘n’ roll, Million Dollar Quartet, directed and music direction by James Barry (Broadway’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). Million Dollar Quartet runs from Wednesday (June 14) through Saturday, July 15 at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Opening night is set for 8pm Saturday (June 17).

Director James Barry says, “I’m thrilled to be making my debut as a director at BTG, specifically in he Unicorn Theatre, where I made my professional acting debut 18 seasons ago in The Einstein Project. Coming back to the Unicorn to direct a show that I have been involved with for years is an honor. I performed the role of Carl Perkins in the first National Tour of Million Dollar Quartet for two years, and since then, I have reprised the role many times and provided musical direction. I am honored to take a seat in the director’s chair for this production.”

Million Dollar Quartet brings you into the recording studio with icons, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Based on a true story, set on December 4, 1956, Million Dollar Quartet follows the tale of these four legendary musicians, as they come together for one monumental night of music at Sun Records in Memphis. This smash-hit musical includes classic tunes such as: “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Walk the Line,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.

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Berkshire Playwrights Lab Celebrates a Decade of Original Plays [Berkshire on Stage]

June 9th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
Saint James Place at 352 Main Street (Rts. 7 & 41) in Great Barrington, MA is the new home of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab.

Saint James Place at 352 Main Street (Rts. 7 & 41) in Great Barrington is the new home of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab.

Berkshire Playwrights Lab is celebrating its tenth anniversary and its new home at Saint James Place in Great Barrington with a celebration today (Friday, June 9). BPL kicked off the year with the Radius Playwrights Festival, which featured new short plays created by six local writers within a 50-mile radius of Great Barrington and filled the new performance space to capacity. BPL will continue its Staged Reading Series on Wednesdays June 28, July 12 & July 26, and will cap off the summer with a full three-week production of Some Old Black Man, a play that began its history with BPL as a Staged Reading in 2015.

Today’s anniversary celebration begins with a 7pm party for Underwriter and Patron ticket holders that includes a silent auction, followed by a performance at 8:30pm (house opens for show-only ticket holders at 8pm), and a reconvening of the gathering for Underwriters and Patron ticket holders post-show. The performance will be a revue of some of the best short plays performed at BPL galas through the years, which have always featured professional stage and screen actors, many very well-known. The cost for the party and performance is $250 per Underwriter ticket; $150 per Patron ticket; and show-only tickets for $50 per person.

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Local Murder Mystery Comes to Dorset Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

June 8th, 2017, 1:00 pm by Sara
Oliver Wadsworth as one of the many characters in “The Tarnation of Russell Colvin.” Photo: Riikka Olson

Oliver Wadsworth as one of the many characters in “The Tarnation of Russell Colvin.” Photo: Riikka Olson

By Gail M. Burns

In 1812 Russell Colvin, a farm worker who all agreed was “feeble-minded,” disappeared from the Boorn family farm in East Manchester, Vermont, where he, his wife and their many children lived with her family. Seven years later, two of his brothers-in-law, Stephen and Jesse Boorn, were accused of murdering Colvin, and sentenced to hang. At almost the eleventh hour, a man claiming to be Russell Colvin was identified in New Jersey and brought to Manchester, where everyone agreed that this was indeed the missing man. Charges were dropped.

This is a very brief synopsis of the true story actor Oliver Wadsworth will bring to the stage in The Tarnation of Russell Colvin at the Dorset Theatre Festival for four performances this week (today-June 10), before touring it to Jamaica VT on Thursday, June 22; Wardsboro VT on Saturday, June 24; and South Londonderry VT on Friday, June 30.

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“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” Opens at Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

June 5th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

Those Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are up to no good, but they are bringing loads of laughter to the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, opening on Thursday (June 8) and running through Sunday, June 18.

Based on the 1988 movie, the stage musical is an irreverent, sexy, fast-paced farce. It’s the height of the social season on the French Riviera, the beautiful – and wealthy – women are arriving, and two clever con men are waiting to ply their charms, take the money and run. When the art of the con turns into a contest to see who can get the most money out of the prettiest lady the soonest, all bets (except at the roulette table) are off, and things just get funnier, until a final plot twist reveals the biggest con of all – who really is The Jackal!

Gabe Belyeu is back at Mac-Haydn to play Lawrence Jameson, a suave gentleman, a Prince, a bon vivant – all as the case (or con) demands. Mr. Belyeu is a favorite at the theater, two of his most comedic roles were last summer’s Alfie Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Gomez Addams in The Addams Family.

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Jeanne MacDonald Comes to Bridge Street Cabaret [Berkshire on Stage]

June 2nd, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

With a voice as pure as a Catskill creek, NYC nightlife luminary Jeanne MacDonald mesmerizes audiences and critics alike with her subtle, intelligent way with a lyric and an authentic style all her own. Come to Catskill’s intimate Bridge Street Theatre at 8pm on Saturday (June 3) and find out what all the shouting’s about!

Originally from Freeport, Long Island, MacDonald is a graduate of the Crane School of Music. Her education and performing experience encompass a wide range of performance styles, from jazz to classical to musical theater. She has performed in such renowned venues as the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, the FireBird Cafe, the Hideaway Room at Helen’s and in the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Annual Cabaret Convention. McDonald also makes regular NYC appearances on the stage of the beautiful Metropolitan Room in Chelsea.

She was the 2008 MAC Award Winner for Female Vocalist and 2008 NY Nightlife Finalist, both of which she received in 2004 as well. She has earned the BACK STAGE Bistro, the MAC Hanson Award and in 2005 was presented with the Julie Wilson Award for excellence in cabaret on the stage at Jazz at Lincoln Center. MacDonald’s debut CD Company, produced and arranged by her longtime musical director/arranger Rick Jensen, received outstanding critical praise and a MAC Nomination for Recording of the Year. McDonald developed her artistry at the celebrated Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake, where she recorded her most recent CD, Live at the Bradstan.

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THEATER REVIEW: “4000 Miles” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

June 1st, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara
Annette Miller in 4000 Miles.

Gregory Boover and Annette Miller in 4000 Miles.

Review by Macey Levin

Leo has cycled across the United States from Washington State, with several side jaunts, finally to arrive at his Grandma Vera’s apartment in Manhattan. Amy Herzog’s gentle play 4000 Miles, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2013, currently at Shakespeare & Co.’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox, examines the relationship of these two people who have family bonds but are light-years away from each other due to their generational disparities. These differences in attitudes and life experiences are key to the thematic statements of this terrific production.

The eighty-something-year-old Vera (Annette Miller) has lived her life in New York City where she and her late husband Joe were political lefties; Leo (Gregory Boover) is a philosophical lefty who is also a vegan, an environmentalist… and all those things one would expect of a twenty-something-year-old who doesn’t know who he is or what he wants to do with his life. The two parry, hug, laugh and argue about small things and then confide in each other about big things. Most importantly, they help each other. Vera sets Leo on a path to maturity; Leo gives Vera a newly-found respect for herself.

The characters roll through a series of mini-crises and a couple of blow-ups, some dealing with Leo’s love/hate relationship with his mother, whom he calls Jane; a problem that has arisen between him and his adopted Chinese sister; Vera’s missing checkbook and more. None of the various situations causes grave conflict, but the two gain insight into each other and themselves.

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