Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

Dance Theatre of Harlem to Dance Elegiac Ballet with Music by Arvo Pärt [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Taurean Green and Ingrid Silva of Dance Theatre of Harlem (photo: Rachel Neville)

Taurean Green and Ingrid Silva of Dance Theatre of Harlem (photo: Rachel Neville)

Following a successful opening week of Festival 2013, Dance Theatre of Harlem returns to Jacob’s Pillow in Becket on Wednesday (July 9) with an all-new program. DTH gave its first professional performance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 1970; since that date, DTH and the Pillow have enjoyed a longstanding and fruitful artistic relationship.

The company, led by Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, performs Donald Byrd’s smooth yet power-packed contemporary ballet Contested Space, which features a plethora of solos and duets. past-carry-forward, created for DTH by Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, conveys the spirit and significance of the Harlem Renaissance. The cornerstone of this dynamic evening is the late choreographer Ulysses Dove’s moving, elegiac ballet Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, danced to “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” by Arvo Pärt. The company appears in a special seven-show engagement in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow, from Wednesday (July 9) through Sunday (July 13).

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“Housewives of Columbia County” Returns to Mac-Haydn [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 7th, 2014

The Real Housewives of Columbia County

Mac-Haydn Monday shows return to the theater, with four performances this summer offering even more musical entertainment during the theatre’s 46th season beginning with The Real Desperate Housewives of Columbia County and ending with Side by Side.

Carl Ritchie’s original musical The REAL Desperate Housewives of Columbia County will prove that “Country Life’s a B**ch” on three Monday nights beginning tonight (July 7), followed by July 14 & 28. The tongue-in-cheek take off on the “Real Housewives” shows, described in a Backstage review as “a fun, fizzy, fast cocktail” with “wit, sparkle and pizazz,” tells it like it is about locals, weekenders, divorce, marriage, parties – all the things that make country life a desperate delight!

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Mass Live Arts in Great Barrington Offers Experimental Performance, Film, Art, July 7-26 [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 7th, 2014
Thank You for Coming by Faye Driscoll (photo:  Maria Baranova)

“Thank You for Coming” by Faye Driscoll (photo: Maria Baranova)

Mass Live Arts, a summer festival of contemporary and experimental performing arts, returns for its second year to Bard College at Simon’s Rock in the Berkshires, tonight (July 7) through July 26. This year’s festival presents three New England premieres of critically-acclaimed, new and remounted works by choreographer Faye Driscoll, theater artists Sibyl Kempson and Mike Iveson, Jr., along with two media based performances by director Phil Soltanoff.

In addition to works of live performance, this year’s offerings have been expanded to include a Monday night film series July 7, 14 & 21 of “The Bogeyman Trilogy” by seminal theater director Reza Abdoh (1963-1995), as well as a rotating gallery showcasing visual works by established American theater artists Andrew Schneider (of the Wooster Group), Anne Gridley and Nature Theater of Oklahoma. This year will also be the first of an annual benefit dance party on Sunday, July 20 to raise funds for year-round residencies to commission and develop large-scale new works.

Mass Live Arts 2014 takes place July 7-26 at the Daniel Arts Center [Bard College at Simon’s Rock] 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington, MA 02130. Tickets are on sale now and range $10-30 with $150 all-inclusive Festival Passes.

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All-American Opening Night at Tanglewood Stars Renée Fleming [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Renee Fleming

The Boston Symphony Orchestra begins its 2014 Tanglewood season on Saturday (July 5), at 8:30 p.m. in the Shed, with an all-American Opening Night at Tanglewood program featuring superstar soprano Renée Fleming. The first half of the concert, led by conductor William Eddins in his BSO debut, begins with two brief works by Joseph Schwantner and Aaron Copland: the former’s Freeflight, a 1989 Boston Pops commission, and the latter’s Night Thoughts from Music for a Great City. Ms. Fleming then joins the orchestra for Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and the first half concludes with John Adams’s vivacious Short Ride in a Fast Machine. After intermission, Ms. Fleming joins conductor Rob Fisher (also in his BSO debut) and the orchestra for a selection of favorites from musical theater, including songs from South Pacific, The King and I, Porgy and Bess and The Sound of Music.

Ms. Fleming, who first performed with the BSO at Tanglewood on July 13, 1991, will also be featured from July 16-26 in Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Living on Love (written by Joe DiPietro and Garson Kanin) as a celebrated diva, along with actor Justin Long. In 2013 she released her album, Guilty Pleasures, which includes songs and arias in eight different languages and won her the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo. She also recently sang the National Anthem during the 2014 Super Bowl.

J.T. Rogers’ “Madagascar” Is the Kind of Play Chester Does Best [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
(L. to R.): Debra Jo Rupp (Lilian), Paul O’Brien (Nathan) and Kim Stauffer (June), photo by Rick Teller.

(L. to R.): Debra Jo Rupp (Lilian), Paul O’Brien (Nathan) and Kim Stauffer (June), photo by Rick Teller

Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: J.T. Rogers’ 2004 mystery/memory play Madagascar is exactly the kind of show Chester Theatre Company does best – a small cast, one-set, intellectual thriller. We saw echoes of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Pinter in its intricate though oblique structure. The three characters occupy the same hotel room, but at different points in time, so they never interact directly. In fact, by the end, it is apparent that, in the action set in the present time, it would be impossible for them to do so.

Larry Murray: I loved everything about this play except the script which is also why so many will enjoy it. It talks about rich white people suffering self-doubt, and that bores me to tears. The pretentiousness of the writing with its metaphors, allusions and flights into poetic arias can not disguise the fact that it moves very slowly and circuitously on stage. It asks its audience to spend two hours in the middle of a hotel room overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome with three self-absorbed characters trying to figure out why a fourth character disappeared from their lives. As academic theatre by a playwrright with a degree and many awards, this play may hit the spot with theatre-goers who are of a certain age and impressed by transcripts and C.V.’s. But if you are like me, you like your theatre to be an exploration about something more than white folk all neatly tied up in clever metaphors, similes and allusions which this play has in spades, right, Gail?

Gail: Well, I am that academic cerebral theatre-goer of a certain age, so I enjoyed this play a whole lot more than you did, although I agree that it was heavy with allusions to Greek and Roman mythology and culture, all of which used to be part of what white Western culture called a “Classic Education.” The matinee audience we attended with was of the generation who received such an education. Younger folks, or non-white folks, might find this totally confusing and irrelevant to their experience and more diverse educational background.

Larry: That Madagascar is well-bred with perfect manners is true, and those whose world is orderly are certainly going to like it for that. But my other reservation is it seems that all the action in this play – it’s big bang – happens offstage or in the past. All we experience, as an audience, is its aferglow as deduced from each characters memory.

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Natalie Merchant Returns to the Mahaiwe with New Album “Leave Your Sleep” [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Natalie Merchant returns July 5 at the Mahaiwe

Natalie Merchant returns July 5 at the Mahaiwe

Natalie Merchant is a new Mahaiwe audience favorite, having sold out her performance here with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic last year,” said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly. “We are delighted to welcome her back to Great Barrington to celebrate the release of her new album.”

Natalie Merchant returns to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center the with her band on Saturday (July 5) at 8pm.

Over her 30-year career, Merchant has earned a distinguished place among America’s most respected recording artists with a reputation for being a prolific songwriter with a compelling artistic vision and a unique and captivating performance style. With her latest and highly acclaimed Nonesuch recording, Leave Your Sleep, which debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at No. 17, she embarks on a new artistic path, creating songs from literary inspiration which are composed for expanded musical ensembles and orchestra.

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Theater Barn Kicks Off Season with “You Should Be So Lucky” by Charles Busch [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, June 30th, 2014
(l to r) Daniel Dunlow, Stephen Powell and Jamie Bock in You Should Be So Lucky at The Theater Barn through July 6th.

(l to r) Daniel Dunlow, Stephen Powell and Jamie Bock in You Should Be So Lucky
at The Theater Barn through July 6.

Theater Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Joan and Abe Phelps at Theater Barn have never been shy about booking outrageous and quirky comedies to open their season, and they have a knack for finding some really talented young comic actors as well. This year is no exception.

Larry Murray: You Should Be So Lucky is a great vehicle for young players, and Charles Busch is one of a handful of playwrights who are able to straddle the theatrical line between offbeat comedy and outright farce while always throwing in lots of unexpected twists and turns. Busch could be described as a writer whose work has characters who are more nervous and insecure than angst-ridden. They are exactly the kind of accessible roles young actors love to hone in on as they perfect their craft. And they aren’t too taxing on audiences either. His works aren’t performed nearly often enough in the Berkshire region. They offer such opportunities for playfulness.

Gail: An example of that playfulness came as director Phil Rice inserted Joan’s name into the list of VIPs the leading character meets at a swanky soiree, because for many young performers over the past 31 years meeting Joan Phelps has been an important moment in their early careers.

Larry: I’ve seen lots of promising actors at the Theater Barn, some of whom now have Equity cards. This year they certainly are kicking off the season with a corker of a play, one that is both a sort of madcap situation comedy but has characters that are both sweet and silly. There’s a generous dose of Jewish comedy, too, mashed up with gay humor, overwrought actresses and even a little supernatural possession. Something for everyone wrapped in a delightfully fast-paced show.

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Richard Chamberlain to Introduce New Musical “Sometimes Love” at BTG Benefit [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Richard Chamberlain

Special Benefit Event Featuring a Reading of Sometimes Love
composed and written by Martin Rabbett
written by Jocelyn Fujii
featuring Richard Chamberlain
at the Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
Friday, July 18 at 2pm
Tickets: $40 (ticket includes catered boxed supper and talk back with cast)

Berkshire Theatre Group presents a special benefit event featuring a reading of Martin Rabbett’s new musical Sometimes Love at the Colonial Theatre on Friday, July 18 at 2pm with participating artist, Richard Chamberlain.

In Sometimes Love, seven contemporary New Yorkers, most of them longtime friends, discover that life brings empowerment in surprising ways. They face the full spectrum of challenges: unemployment, infidelity, narcissistic lovers and alcoholic parents. But when the shame is confronted head-on and the smoke finally clears, their broken lives arrive at a fragile order, a simple and elegant truth. Love comes and goes, they discover, and the only way to make it stay is to adapt to its many mutations.

“I wrote the music for ‘Sometimes Love’ over a three-year period, during which I was going through a painful personal experience,” Martin Rabbett director, composer and writer said. “Through it all, I discovered that it was not just the writing of the music that helped me heal, but the friends who lived through that time with me. It was, for me, a redefining of family—the realization that in the end, we really can create our own family. That experience empowered me and ultimately saved my life.”

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