Posts Tagged ‘Berkshire On Stage’

THEATER: Edgar Allan Poe’s Life and Death on Stage at the Unicorn [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, October 6th, 2014
The cast of “Poe” – a world premiere written and directed by Eric Hill at the Unicorn Theatre. (photo: Christina Riley)

The cast of “Poe” – a world premiere written and directed by Eric Hill at the Unicorn Theatre (photo: Christina Riley)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: We’re just weeks away from Halloween, and as if to set the mood for an evening with Poe we had a wonderfully spooky ride through darkness, rain, and fog as we made our way to the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Poe is a new work, getting its world premiere by the Berkshire Theatre Group.

With all the movies featuring grunting zombies, slashers and hauntings constantly being offered to us via Netflix and the local multiplex, one might wonder whether the world has forgotten one of the pioneers of horror, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). All you need to do is listen to Kate Maguire recite “The Tell Tale Heart” in this play to remember how penetrating true horror can be. She’s doing exactly that in the photo above, with David Adkins (far left), as Poe, listening raptly.

Gail M. Burns: Even though I am not a fan of Poe, or of the horror genre in general, I recognize him as an extraordinary writer – one of the first Americans ever to attempt to earn his living solely by his pen. If he had been a sober and careful steward of his finances, that plan might have worked out better than it did…

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A Man and a Devil Battle It Out at the Church on the Hill on Sunday [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Glen Williamson (photo: Robb Creese)

Glen Williamson (photo: Robb Creese)

Goethe’s “Faust” is one of the bedrocks of classic literature. Its story of a deal with the devil – signed in your own blood – still resonates today. Written two centuries ago, it is a rich vein of philosophical thought. And it’s about to be become relevent to us once again in a modern retelling in Lenox where people like their theater rich and deep.

Taking place on Sunday (October 5) at 2pm, a man and a devil will battle it out at the Church on the Hill in Lenox, as professional New York actor Glen Williamson performs his award-winning one-man play Beat the Devil! Faust, the Whole Story. The piece won the award for Best Adaptation at the United Solo Theatre Festival Off-Broadway in 2011. The Church on the Hill presents the Anthropos Theater production of Goethe’s theatrical masterpiece about about love, sex, murder, myth, magic, war, waves and a devil out of his depths. The Hadley Lyre Ensemble will play live music from Colin Tanser, J.S. Bach, and a piece composed especially for this event by Channa A. Seidenberg.

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Eric Hill Directs “Poe” as Kate Maguire Returns to Stage with David Adkins for a World Premiere [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

POE at Berkshire Theatre Group

Just reading a story by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) out loud to friends is enough to send chills down the spine. The briliance of Poe seems to literally jump off the page and into our imagination in a way few other writers have ever achieved. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story.

So it comes as exciting news that the Berkshire Theatre Group will be staging Poe, a world premiere at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Opening night is Saturday (October 4) at 8pm. Preview performances begin on tonight (Thursday, October 2) at 7pm and the production closes on Sunday, October 26 at 2pm.

And as you might expect of Poe, this new work based on his writing has more than a couple of surprises up its own sleeve. For one, a rare appearance by Kate Maguire on stage as Mrs. O’Donnell. The longtime BTG alum, David Adkins returns to take the title role as the literary great and masterful wordsmith Edgar Allan Poe. Perfect for the autumnal Halloween season of October, the poetic and macabre tales of terror come to life in a brilliant reflection of Poe written and directed by Eric Hill.

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10 Artists Show 4 Works Over 10 Hours in One Day @ EMPAC Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

On Saturday (October 4), EMPAC at RPI in Troy will present a day of contemporary art spanning disciplines, inviting the public to experience a festival of newly commissioned works that push boundaries of storytelling, along with one of the most technically outstanding guitarists of our time.

At 4PM, Temporary Distortion begins a six-hour performance of “My Voice Has an Echo in It,” combining live music, text and video in a fully enclosed 24′ x 6′ capsule made of two-way mirrors. All performers are completely confined within this free-standing, soundproof box; the audience watches and listens from outside, but the performers cannot see outside the container.

The first of three EMPAC-commissioned works premiering that day, “My Voice Has an Echo in It” calls into question the very nature of live events, with all sounds created by the performers captured, processed and stored by a computer before being played back for the listener after a few seconds delay. The audience experiences the performance both as a live spectacle and a disembodied record of what has just been presented. Audience members can listen to the performance through headphones stationed at windows in the soundproof box and are free to come and go whenever they please.

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THEATER: “Private Eyes” @ ShakesCo Is a Befuddling Tangle of Lovers and Cheaters. Or Is It… [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
The Company of Private Eye (photo: Enrico Spada)

The Company of Private Eye (photo: Enrico Spada)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: I had to be reminded that I had seen and reviewed a production of this play fifteen years ago, also at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. Although I liked it at the time, it was not a memorable experience.

Larry Murray: Private Eyes is an odd concoction for sure, with some of the wittiest comedy and clever aphorisms of the current fall season. Written by Steven Dietz, the revival of Private Eyes features a fresh look and much younger cast from when the Company staged it in 1999 in the Stables Theatre at The Mount. There is one rather unmissable change, however, since the therapist Frank played then by Robert D. Lohbauer has had a sex change and is now played by Lori Evans Pugh. In your prophetic earlier review (link) you advised audiences to be prepared to go through the looking glass.

Gail: For all its twists and turns, Matthew (Luke Reed) is the central character and whatever happens happens to him, whether in fantasy or reality. Another solid bit of reality here is that Matthew and Lisa (Caroline Calkins) are married, or were married during much of the action of the play. Lisa may, or may not, be having or have had an affair with Adrian (Marcus Kearns), an insufferable British director who has cast the couple in an unnamed romantic comedy. Adrian’s wife (Elizabeth ‘Lily’ Cardaropoli) may be stalking her erstwhile husband in various disguises, or the whole thing may be a series of semi-fantastic stories Matthew spins for his psychiatrist, Frank (Pugh.)

Larry: Jonathan Croy is at work here as the director, which means that when there is fun, it’s rib-splittingly funny and where there is tragedy, it fully shocks and dismays. Everything is topsy turvy in this Diet-zy concoction. In the program notes, the director says that Private Eyes is a delicate Swiss watch of a play, moving gracefully through time and memory.

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“An Enemy of the People” @ Barrington Stage: When a Majority Rejects the Truth [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, September 29th, 2014
Steve Hendrickson plays Tom Stockmann in An Enemy of the People. File photo by Rick Teller from an earlier Chester Theatre Co production of The Iliad.

Steve Hendrickson plays Tom Stockmann in An Enemy of the People. File photo by Rick Teller from an earlier Chester Theatre Co production of The Iliad.

By Larry Murray

The brilliant theatre director Julianne Boyd takes on another classic, An Enemy of the People, Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play. It is her third Arthur Miller play at Barrington Stage Co., having earlier staged The Crucible in 2010 and All My Sons in 2012. Both earned high praise from critics and audiences alike.

This powerful drama explores the impact of polluted waters in a small town and the consequences of uncovering the truth. Follow the story of one man’s brave struggle to do the right thing in the face of extreme social intolerance. Master playwright Arthur Miller adapted Ibsen’s classic play in response to the political climate fostered by McCarthyism in 1950, but the play is still shockingly relevant today.

The company’s fall production runs from October 2-19 on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage. The press opening is Sunday, October 5 at 3pm.

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Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach @ the Mahaiwe with St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, September 26th, 2014


The Berkshire Bach Society has put together a fascinating program titled “Bridging the Baroque” which connects early music with the Baroque era, from which came the classical period. With the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble – the artistic core of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s – it is an evening of Baroque and Classical favorites.

Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” is one of the most popular and evocative pieces in the canon, and Bach’s vibrant “Orchestral Suite No. 2″ is clearly influenced by Vivaldi’s brilliant Italianate harmonies, while Mozart’s “Divertimento” in D Major traces the transformation of light music into the Classical era.

The welcome classical music event takes place on Saturday (September 27) at 7:30pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. 413 528-0100 Tickets: $25-$70 (Box Office fees apply.) Berkshire Bach membership discount $5 $15 for 30-years and younger with ID. Students free with ID.

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A Bloody Powerful “Sweeney Todd” Live from Lincoln Center on PBS-TV [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Jay Armstron Johnson emotes.

Jay Armstron Johnson emotes.

Preview and review by Larry Murray

A miscarriage of justice in London led the barber Benjamin Barker to spend years in an Australian penal colony doing hard labor for a crime he did not commit. When he returned he changed his name to Sweeney Todd, reopened his barber shop on Fleet Street, and looked for an opportunity to even the score with Judge Turpin who raped his wife and sent him away. In the meantime, he began to slash the throats of customers, sending their dead bodies down a chute where they became the filling for Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies. It was a happy business arrangement. Her veal pies were a hit.

A few years ago, we speculated as to whether Sweeney Todd actually existed. It has been one of our most popular articles. Now we look at how it works on tape, on television. For theater goers, PBS-TV (WMHT-TV) is the place to be at 9pm on Friday (September 26).

In the hands of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd became an almost operatic story of murder and cannibalism, one which won him two Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score. Who could possibly criticize it? Certainly not anyone who has seen it.

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