Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

THEATER: “Shining City” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 25th, 2015
L to R: Mark H. Dold as Ian and Wilbur Edwin Henry as John (photo: David Fertik)

L to R: Mark H. Dold as Ian and Wilbur Edwin Henry as John (photo: David Fertik)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Synopsis: A Dubliner seeks help from a counselor after claiming to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. As their sessions unfold, secrets are exposed as a simple tale turns out to be anything but. Burns and Murray had decidedly different views on this Tony nominated play, with her thumb up, and his thumb down

Larry Murray: Shining City by Irish playwright Conor McPherson was nominated for two Tony Awards, including Best Play when it opened on Broadway in 2006. We saw it performed on Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield with a superlative cast including a brilliant Wilbur Edwin Henry as John, a mess of a man filled with insecurities, guilt, confusion and regret. The production gets high marks, but the play itself – for all its rhapsodic reviews across the country – failed to excite this observer. You know that saying about how bored the shrink must be listening to everyone prattle on about their FDI’s (Fears, Doubts, Insecurities)? Well, this play proves there is a lot of truth to that jest.

Gail M. Burns: I think you’re missing the point here, Larry. Shining City isn’t about what is being said much as it is about what is being heard and felt, and not by the audience, but by the central character of Ian (Mark H. Dold), a former Roman Catholic priest starting his new career as a therapist and his new life as a sexual being – with all that that entails, including fatherhood – in modern day Dublin. A therapist’s job is to listen, but Ian not only listens to John, he absorbs him and subsequently reenacts his sad, repressed life as his own.

Larry: Trying to be rational about my dislike of this play, it comes down to the playwright whose dialogue, while perhaps reflecting how people actually talk, was full of tentativeness and uncertainty, with eruptions of monologues laced with periodic f-bombs. These were delivered with marvelous Irish accents, and a credit to dialogue coach Wendy Waterman. Lots of pseudo meaningful conversation filled with endless “ers” and “ums,” with frequent “you knows” to dazzle the audience with its authenticity, and perhaps for the playwright to prove he could write like Harold Pinter. All that embellishment got in the way of the story for me.

Of course, Dold is an ex-priest who couldn’t find God, may have homosexual tendencies and is now continuing in a job that continues to require him to repress his own ideas and feelings. Interesting stuff. But we mostly hear him recite clinical dialogue like “I understand,” and “That’s ok” from him as he encourages his patient to share more information while trying to keep him calm. John claims he has seen the ghost of his wife, who was recently killed in a car accident, and talks about their unsatisfying relationship.

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FREE: The Complete Jacob’s Pillow Schedule of Inside/Out Performances [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Daniel Gwirtzman Dance on the Inside/Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow (photo:  Christopher Duggan)

Daniel Gwirtzman Dance on the Inside/Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow (photo: Christopher Duggan)

For ticketed performances, see our season schedule story.

Presenting both emerging and esteemed dance artists from across the U.S., the Inside/Out Performance Series at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket will return to the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage this summer, beginning today (June 24). An essential part of the Pillow’s mission and a beloved tradition, Inside/Out performances are free and open to the public, featuring family-friendly and diverse dance styles ranging from classical ballet and hip-hop to tap and circus arts.

Serving a record-breaking 22,500+ audience members of all ages in 2014, the series is a part of more than 350 free programs including performances, talks, tours, exhibits, films, classes and community events offered throughout the festival.

Schedule of Free Performances 2015

Free Inside/Out Performance: Kùlú Mèlé Dance & Drum Ensemble
Today (Wednesday, June 24), 6:15pm
Infusing African dance with urban American flair, Philadelphia-based Kùlú Mèlé boasts a rich repertoire of authentic, folkloric dance from Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and Cuba. Founded in 1969 by Baba Robert Crowder and led by Artistic Director Dorothy Wilkie, the company’s high-energy performances get adults and children up on their feet and dancing in the aisles, distinguishing itself with beautiful costumes, a thrilling percussion battery and dynamic choreography. FREE

Free Inside/Out Performance: Summation Dance Company
Thursday (June 25), 6:15pm
Brooklyn-based and all-female, Summation Dance Company finds beauty in struggle and humor in the mundane. Led by NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduates Sumi Clements and Taryn Vander Hoop, the modern dance company is “full of energy and creativity” (Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times), performing highly physical work since its formation in 2010. Summation presents an excerpt from “Shift” (2013) which explores the notion of planes of existence, and “Updating Route, Please Standby” (2014), a reflection on the relationship between expectation and reality. FREE

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Ballet BC Opens Jacob’s Pillow 83rd Season on Wednesday [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Andrew Bartee of Ballet BC (photo: Michael Slobodian)

Andrew Bartee of Ballet BC (photo: Michael Slobodian)

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket opens its 83rd season with Canada’s premier contemporary ballet company, Ballet BC, presenting a diverse program in the Ted Shawn Theatre from Wednesday-Sunday (June 24-28). Led by Artistic Director Emily Molnar, former soloist of Ballet Frankfurt and principal of Ballet BC, the company performs works filled with intensity and technical prowess. The program includes workwithinwork by the prolific William Forsythe, Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto’s sleek and edgy Twenty Eight Thousand Waves, and Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s Consagración set to Igor Stravinsky’s landmark score, “The Rite of Spring”.

“Ballet BC creates intensity, elegance, and excitement on stage,” says Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Ella Baff. “The dancers are spectacular and they will perform a program that shows why this company has distinguished itself as one of the best on the international dance scene.”

Comprised of a select group of 18 uniquely talented and classically trained dancers, Ballet BC works with top Canadian and international choreographers to inspire innovation and collaboration. The company hallmark is incorporating their formidable ballet technique into unconventional works, pushing the boundaries of the classical idiom. Molnar explains her efforts to ensure the future of dance as a growing art form in an interview with Michael Crabb of Pointe Magazine: “My biggest responsibility is to cultivate potential, to provide a productive environment where the dancers can grow…Our work today focuses on new movement invention.”

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“I Know I Came in Here for Something” Lights Up Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, June 22nd, 2015
Cathy Lee-Visscher and Dierdre Bollinger with Brian Litscher and Monk Schane-Lydon.

Cathy Lee-Visscher and Dierdre Bollinger with Brian Litscher and Monk Schane-Lydon.

If you’re of a “certain age,” you know the feeling well — you walk in to a room and stop and say, “I know I came in here for something.” Well, you’re not the only one, and now there’s a musical comedy that proves it: I Know I Came in Here for Something… (The Middle-Aged Musical!), being performed at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham tonight (June 22) and July 13.

The team that brought you last summer’s smash hit The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County, Carl Ritchie and Wayne Moore, have put together clever lyrics and catchy tunes (“The Baby Boomer Blues,” “You Haven’t Changed at All,” “Try Our Pill,” “Who Wants to Be Middle Aged?” and more) to tell the story of four folks wandering through the mazes and amazements of middle age. Columbia County, Los Angeles and Las Vegas audiences roared with delight and so will you as they tell it how it is about the dangers and delights of “getting on in years.”

Diedre Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher play Woman One and Woman Two. Both were featured in last year’s Housewives, which played to non-stop laughter as a Mac-Haydn Monday show. Ms. Bollinger has a wide range of performance credits, including roles in all of Carl Ritchie’s revues, and at area and Off-Off-Broadway theaters.

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Mark H. Dold Returns to Barrington Stage in “Shining City” [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 18th, 2015
Wilbur Edwin Henry (John) and Mark H. Dold (Ian) star in Conor McPherson’s “Shining City” at Barrington Stage’s St. Germain Stage from June 18 through July 11, 2015 (photo: David Fertik)

Wilbur Edwin Henry (John) and Mark H. Dold (Ian) star in Conor McPherson’s “Shining City” at Barrington Stage’s St. Germain Stage from June 18 through July 11, 2015 (photo: David Fertik)

Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company is presenting Conor McPherson’s Shining City from June 18-July 11 with a press opening at 3pm on Sunday (June 21).

Directed by BSC Associate Artist Christopher Innvar (BSC’s The Other Place, The Whipping Man), the production stars Mark H. Dold (BSC’s Breaking the Code) as Ian and in their BSC debuts Wilbur Edwin Henry (Off Bway: Our Town; Bway: Is He Dead?) as John, Patrick Ball as Laurence and Deanna Gibson as Neasa.

Set in present-day Dublin, a man seeks help from a counselor, claiming to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. However, what begins as just an unusual encounter becomes a struggle between the living and dead – a struggle that will shape and define both men for the rest of their lives. In this contemporary ghost story, Conor McPherson explores what it means to lose faith – in God, in relationships and in one’s self.

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David Adkins Debuts His “Thoreau or, Return to Walden” @ Unicorn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

boswalden1

Berkshire Theatre Group presents a new play, Thoreau or, Return to Walden, a world premiere written and performed by David Adkins, at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Opening night is Saturday (June 20) at 8pm. Preview performances begin on Thursday (June 18) at 7pm, and the production closes Saturday, July 11 at 8pm.

In this world premiere, BTG alum David Adkins takes the stage as New England Transcendentalist, poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. Long-time BTG artist Eric Hill, who most recently wrote and directed Adkins in the wildly well-received Poe, directs the production.

The writing of Henry David Thoreau comes to life in this dramatic and uplifting tale as he battles with himself, with his own thirst for blood and for the soul of our American conscience. It’s 1859. The Union is on the verge of civil war over the issue of slavery. Passion, politics and prose collide on the shores of Walden Pond when beloved American naturalist and prophet of peaceful resistance learns that freedom fighter and abolitionist John Brown has been sentenced to hang. How did the beloved poet and naturalist, hero of children’s books, inspirer of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and writer of Walden and Civil Disobedience come to write, “I do not wish to kill nor to be killed, but I can foresee circumstances in which both these things would be by me unavoidable (A Plea for Captain John Brown).” When you come to your final moment, will you know that you have truly lived?

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“Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host” Mixes Talk Radio and Dance @ Jacob’s Pillow [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 12th, 2015
Anna Bass, Ira Glass and Monica Bill Barnes in Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host (photo: David Bazemore)

Anna Bass, Ira Glass and Monica Bill Barnes in “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host” (photo: David Bazemore)

Dance to talk radio sounds like an impossible thing to pull off, but it’s not. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket presents Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, a special pre-Festival performance starring Ira Glass, the host and executive producer of the famed public radio program This American Life. “The Tina Fey of dance” (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post) Monica Bill Barnes and fellow dancer and collaborator Anna Bass perform with Glass, bringing the unlikely art forms of talk radio and dance together for a production that is “unapologetically human and refreshingly relatable” (Brian Schaefer, The New York Times). This limited engagement will be presented in the Pillow’s Ted Shawn Theatre for two performances only, at 8pm on Saturday (June 13) and 2pm on Sunday (June 14).

Lauded as “equal parts heart and humor” (Maura Judkis, The Washington Post), Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host finds harmony in the partnership of radio icon Ira Glass’s trademark storytelling and Monica Bill Barnes’s witty, theatrical movement style. Dancers Barnes and Bass illustrate Glass’s narration in three stirring acts which focus on performance as an occupation, artistic and romantic relationships, and a personal look at the lives of Bass, Barnes and Glass. The stories cover a wide range of subjects, told live and in pre-recorded interviews with dancers: from a Riverdance touring company’s attempt to win the lottery, to the thorny rewards of longtime partnerships and the passing of loved ones. Public radio sensation Glass is a perfect fit for these tender conversations, “inviting those kinds of confessions with his ability to pose piercing questions in casual, almost innocent, way” (Brian Schaefer, The New York Times). Barnes and Bass give lively, poignant performances with multiple costume changes and pantomime style movement, taking the stage both alongside Glass’s narration and in several dance-only moments.

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Amber Chand to Revisit “A Heroine’s Journey” at Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 11th, 2015
Amber Chand

Amber Chand

The Berkshire Theatre Group presents Searching for the Moon: A Heroine’s Journey – Tales of Love, Despair, Faith and Forgiveness written by and starring Amber Chand, directed by Jayne Atkinson at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge at 7pm on Saturday (June 13).

Global entrepreneur and visionary storyteller Amber Chand weaves together the events of her life — an eclectic tapestry of Indian arranged marriages, English boarding schools, military coups in Uganda, encounters with Rwandan genocide survivors, and the rise and fall of her multi-million dollars company — in her acclaimed one-woman show, Searching for the Moon: A Heroine’s Journey – Tales of Love, Despair, Faith and Forgiveness. Directed by Tony Award-nominated actress and BTG alum Jayne Atkinson, the show taps into universal themes in which we are all heroes and heroines on the unfolding journeys of our lives.

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