Jeff McCarthy Is “Kunstler” @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

May 18th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara
Jeff McCarthy as William Kunstler (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Jeff McCarthy as William Kunstler (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Pittsfield’s award-winning Barrington Stage Company kicks off its 2017 summer season with Kunstler by Jeffrey Sweet. Running from Friday (May 18) through Saturday, June 10, the production by Saratoga Springs-based Creative Place International/And Theatre Company will take over the St. Germain Stage at BSC’s Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center. The official opening is at 3pm on Sunday (May 21).

Directed by Meagan Fay, Kunstler stars BSC veteran Jeff McCarthy (BSC’s Broadway Bounty Hunter, All My Sons, Sweeney Todd) as the self-described “radical lawyer” and civil rights activist William Kunstler and Erin Roché (BSC debut) as the whip-smart student who opposes him. The colorful, perpetually rumpled defense lawyer whose best-known clients include the Chicago Seven, inmates involved in the Attica prison riots and members of the American Indian Movement, makes a case for his often unconventional style, in this wise and revealing play.

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Sam Shepard’s “True West” Comes to Ghent [Berkshire on Stage]

May 17th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

Nathaniel Drake and Kevin Kilb in True West (photo: Kelly Mackerer)

The Ghent Playhouse presents Sam Shepard’s dark comedy, True West, which opens on Friday (May 19) and runs through Sunday, June 4 with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sunday afternoons at 2pm.

True West made its Broadway debut in 2000, and Shepard’s play has become a well-established contemporary masterpiece.

The Ghent Playhouse production is directed by Patrick White and introduces Nathaniel Drake to its stage, as Lee the drifter. Kevin Kilb, who was last seen in the Playhouse’s production of The 39 Steps, will play Austin, the yuppie screenwriter. Rounding out the cast is newcomer Rob Weber (as the Hollywood Producer) and Stephanie Sloane (as the brothers’ mother), who returns after 11 years, having last appeared in the Playhouse’s production of The Oldest Profession.

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Fort Salem Theater Hosts an Afternoon of Funny Songs [Berkshire on Stage]

May 16th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

The third in the Fort Salem Theater’s series of Sunday Afternoon Cabarets comes to the Washington County venue at 2pm on Sunday (May 21), when humorist Byron Nilsson takes the stage with his intimate, one-man program of funny and forgotten pieces, “Rhyme on My Hands: A Tribute to the Comic Song.”

Nilsson is an actor and writer who appeared in several musicals at the New York State Theatre Institute and was featured in two episodes of Law and Order. As a playwright, he has been produced at the New York Fringe Festival and the Ensemble Studio Theatre. A former chef, he served for 30 years as restaurant critic for Albany’s alternative newspaper, Metroland, and now writes for The Alt. In his spare time, he keeps bees and grows garlic and San Marzano tomatoes on his small Montgomery County farm.

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REVIEW: “Some People Hear Thunder” @ Capital Rep [Berkshire on Stage]

May 11th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

(Photo by Douglas C. Liebig)

Review by Barbara Waldinger

Some People Hear Thunder, a musical set in the midst of the Armenian genocide, purports to be something else. The director and star, Kevin McGuire, characterizes it as a “powerful musical love story,” and his co-star Joan Hess, agrees that it is a “triumphant human story” that is decidedly not about the genocide. But this production contradicts their protests, and that is not a bad thing.

Currently on the boards at Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre, the play was written by Gerson H. Smoger, a human rights lawyer, based on the 1916 recollections of Rev. Dikran Andreasian, an Armenian who managed to survive the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman government starting in 1915. Tens of thousands were deported, driven hundreds of miles on forced death marches with no food or water. The Ottoman army used the occasion of World War I to decimate their civilian Armenian population, plundering their material wealth and expropriating all of their properties.

To this day, Turkey dismisses the charge of genocide and denies that the deportations and atrocities were part of a deliberate plan to exterminate the Armenians. The U.S. initially refused to get involved as part of our World War I neutrality and has still not referred to the episode as genocide, out of concern for alienating Turkey, a NATO ally and partner in fighting Middle East terrorism. For many years Turkey successfully waged a well-organized campaign to discredit any attempt to recognize the genocide in films, but recently “The Promise,” a film about these events, was able to secure financing outside of Hollywood.

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Benita Zahn Returns to Fort Salem Cabaret [Berkshire on Stage]

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

Benita Zahn, WNYT-TV news anchor, returns to Fort Salem Theater in Salem at 2pm on Sunday (May 7) in the cabaret show BZ and the Girls: Women Who Sing. A part of the theater’s inaugural season 11 years ago, Ms. Zahn has returned at least once in each subsequent season, sometimes with fellow Singing Anchors Jerry Gretzinger and Jessica Layton, sometimes as the lead in a musical (I’m Getting My Act Together and They’re Playing Our Song), and often as a solo cabaret performer. As an actress, she has performed with every major performance group in the Capital Region.

This year’s outing finds her in the skilled company of three other Fort Salem veterans, singers Keri Alonzo, Sue Caputo and Lynne Kerr. These four Women Who Sing will light up the stage with four-part harmonies: the theater’s website calls them “The Andrews Sisters and The Supremes on steroids.” Interspersed with pop tunes like “Stop in the Name of Love” and “What a Wonderful World,” are musical theater favorites, including “At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line and “I Want It All” from Baby. Musical arrangements and accompaniment are provided by the Fort’s artistic director, Jay Kerr.

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“ChipandGus: A Comedy With Balls” Comes to Bridge Street Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

May 3rd, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
Christopher Patrick Mullen as Chip and John Ahlin as Gus in “ChipandGus.” Photo William Selby.

Christopher Patrick Mullen as Chip and John Ahlin as Gus in “ChipandGus” (Photo William Selby)

While the electric give-and-take of energy between actors on stage is often referred to as “ping pong,” a new play is taking the idea quite literally. A ping pong table and fast-paced matches are prominently featured in ChipandGus, a 90-minute “comedy with balls” by actor-writers John Ahlin and Christopher Patrick Mullen, getting a three-performance run at Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre this weekend.

In this Fat Knight Theatre production, two oddball buddies meet in the back room of a rundown sports bar in Schenectady for their weekly game. But what happens between volleys on this particular funny, sad, surprising night will change their relationship forever. Conceived over a ping pong table and written and rehearsed in basements, attics and garages, this fast, furious, smart comedy was the winner of the Overall Excellence Award for Ensemble in the 2016 NYC Fringe Festival, was selected for an extended run in the Fringe Encore Series at Soho Playhouse in NYC, and has been seen in developmental presentations in a variety of spaces, including a black box in New Jersey, a bar in Baltimore, a garage in Pennsylvania, Parkside Lounge in Manhattan, and Proctors in Schenectady.

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REVIEW: “The Glass Menagerie” @ Hubbard Hall [Berkshire on Stage]

May 2nd, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara

Laura (Grace Sgambettera) and her Gentleman Caller (Woodrow Proctor). Photo: Kyra Fitzgerald.

Review by Gail M. Burns

When you live with a story for a long time – and most Americans are introduced to Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie in high school or college – you see it through the lens not only of your own personal experience, but also of the social milieu of the day. I first met this play as a teenager in the early 1970s. Freudian theory was still widely accepted, and Amanda Wingfield was presented as a selfish, domineering mother who stifled her children and ruined their lives. It was still generally believed that a mother like that was the cause of a son’s homosexuality. At first I saw Amanda as the villain of the piece.

Later, I transferred that title to Tom, who abandons his mother and helpless sister just like his father before him. Now I tend to consider Jim, the gentleman caller, as the villain who raises, then crushes Amanda and Laura’s hopes.

The Glass Menagerie, currently playing at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, is the mostly highly autobiographical of Williams’ plays, and his first commercial success. It is obvious that Tom is Williams – whose given name was Thomas – and Laura is his elder sister, Rose, who ended up institutionalized for life after a botched lobotomy. Amanda is their mother, Edwina Dakin Williams. The family did live in St. Louis, his father was a traveling salesman more often on the road than at home, and Williams did work in a shoe warehouse. But Williams was the sickly child over whom his mother fawned, and there was another son in the family.

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Albany Civic Theater Presents “A Shot in the Dark” [Berkshire on Stage]

May 1st, 2017, 1:00 pm by Sara

Albany Civic Theater presents A Shot in the Dark by Marcel Achard, adapted by Harry Kurnitz.

Directed by Rachael Sheffer

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Pay-what-you-will preview at 7:30pm, Thursday (May 4)
Show dates: Friday (May 5)-Sunday, May 21; 7:30pm Fridays and Saturdays; 3pm Sundays

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