Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Advertisement

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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

bospassagebanner

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.

Click to read the rest at 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.

“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.

The Cock'N'Bull RestaurantJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysCaffe LenaHolly & EvanCartoonist John CaldwellAdvertise on Nippertown!Hudson SoundsThe LindaArtist Charles HaymesBerkshire On StageAlbany PoetsLeave Regular Radio BehindThe Sanctuary For Independent Media