THEATER REVIEW: “Children of a Lesser God” @ Fitzgerald Main Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

July 7th, 2017, 11:00 am by Sara
Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff in “Children of a Lesser God” (photo: Matthew Murphy)

Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff in “Children of a Lesser God” (photo: Matthew Murphy)

Review by Barbara Waldinger

Who are the children of a lesser god?

Mark Medoff’s Children of a Lesser God, a play that focuses on the struggles of deaf people to deal with society at large, is as relevant to the problems facing minorities today as it was in the aftermath of the civil rights movement. It captured the Tony award for Best Play in 1980 and for its two leads, John Rubenstein and Phyllis Frelich. (Frelich was the first deaf performer to be so honored, and when the movie adaptation came out a few years later, Marlee Matlin became the first deaf actress to win an Academy Award.) Now the play is being revived to open the 89th season of Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzgerald Main Stage in Stockbridge, with direction by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon, featuring Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff.

A love story between a male teacher at a school for the deaf, and a female former student (subsequently a custodian at the school), the play seeks to make a case for deaf rights. The deaf woman Sarah Norman (Ridloff), takes a stand: she stubbornly, even angrily, refuses to learn to lip read or to speak. Graceful, elegant and breathtakingly expressive in her signs, Sarah understandably fears how she will look and sound if she vocalizes. She has never needed language, having lived in this cocoon-like school since the age of five, and having engaged in numerous sexual escapades that did not depend on language. The dedicated teacher James Leeds (Jackson), is determined to persuade Sarah, with whom he has fallen in love, to join the speaking world, which will offer her many more opportunities in life. On the classroom blackboard (which slides on and off the set) is written: “Speech is not a specious but a sacred sanction secured by solemn sacrifice.” He promises that with his help, Sarah will no longer be dependent on others to speak for her.

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“Children of a Lesser God” Comes to the Fitzpatrick [Berkshire on Stage]

June 19th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

Children of a Lessser God at Berkshire Theatre Group

Berkshire Theatre Group presents the Tony Award-winning Children of a Lesser God, directed by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon. The play runs from Thursday (June 22) through Saturday, July 22 at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge.

In today’s culture, there are endless methods of communication. Are we truly listening to one another? At the core of the Tony Award-winning Children of a Lesser God, written by Tony Award-winner Mark Medoff, is a poignant story about human communication, connection and compromise.

This production features Lauren Ridloff as Sarah Norman, Joshua Jackson as James Leeds, John McGinty as Orin Dennis, Tony Award-winner Stephen Spinella as Mr. Franklin, Kecia Lewis as Mrs. Norman, Treshelle Edmond as Lydia and Julee Cerda as Edna Klein.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Bakelite Masterpiece” @ the Unicorn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

October 12th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
David Adkins and Corinna May in WAM Theatre’s Bakelite Masterpiece (photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware)

David Adkins and Corinna May in WAM Theatre’s Bakelite Masterpiece (photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware)

Review by Macey Levin

Under what circumstances would a convicted art forger gain his freedom by forging another masterpiece? The current production of The Bakelite Masterpiece by Kate Cayley, jointly produced by WAM Theatre and Berkshire Theatre Group at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, explores an historical incident in the Netherlands during the late stages of World War II.

Han van Meegeren (David Adkins) has been sentenced to be executed for having sold an original painting by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer to Nazi leader Hermann Goering. His defense is that the painting was his forgery. The prosecutor Geert Piller, (Corinna May) an art historian and resistance fighter, conducts one last interview demanding Meegeren sign a prepared confession. He refuses citing the fact that the painting was not the original. To prove his facility at forgery he requests that he be allowed to demonstrate his ability to recreate another Vermeer. Out of curiosity, Piller agrees.

He tells her he will reproduce Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, the “long-lost” painting he sold to Goering, if she will pose for him in a blue dress. Reluctantly, she agrees. Instead he paints an interpretation of Vermeer’s Woman in a Blue Dress. Both are attempting to define their respective version of the truth; he to demonstrate the validity of his claim; she to reinforce the case against him. As van Meergeren starts to paint, he and his watchdog develop a relationship of mutual respect. After feinting and parrying through several conversations each becomes concerned for the other.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Constellations” @ the Unicorn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

August 11th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
Kate Baldwin and Graham Rowat in “Constellations,” BTG, 2016. Photos by Emma Rothenberg-Ware.

Kate Baldwin and Graham Rowat in “Constellations.” Photos by Emma Rothenberg-Ware.

Review by Macey Levin

Life is full of serendipity. A chance remark, meeting a stranger, missing a train, making a decision, all contribute to the arc of our lives. We don’t know what is going to happen in the next moment that will redirect us immediately or in the future. We review and dissect our experiences to determine the why of the path we have chosen. This is the core of Nick Payne’s engrossing play Constellations now at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge.

Marianne (Kate Baldwin) and Roland (Graham Rowat) meet at a mutual friend’s barbecue. That moment, like others throughout the script, is played again and again with the actors using different inflections and timing to give each replay a different quality. We follow them through their growing relationship, marriage and separation. Each important moment of their lives together and apart is explored as they contemplate why they are where they are.

Marianne is a cosmologist who facilely refers to string theory, relativity and quantum theory. She says that in a parallel universe everything one does is not always what it seems. A beekeeper, Roland informs her that bees have a strict utilitarian purpose; the workers, drones and queen know their predetermined responsibilities. Their different occupations are a severely opposite to each other but also a description of the two lovers. In addition to their contrasting professional worlds, they also have a problem in communication. Or is it that they hear what they want to hear, another of playwright Payne’s thematic statements. To further express the communication content, one of the scenes is performed entirely in sign language, a fitting dramatic complement.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Stone Witch” @ Fitzpatrick Main Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

July 28th, 2016, 3:00 pm by Sara
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.

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Judd Hirsch Stars in “The Stone Witch” [Berkshire on Stage]

July 21st, 2016, 3:00 pm by Sara
Actor Judd Hirsch

Actor Judd Hirsch

Berkshire Theatre Group welcomes the world premiere of The Stone Witch, featuring Tony, Golden Globe, Emmy and Obie Award-winning actor Judd Hirsch.

It’s an interesting tale. Peter, an aspiring children’s book author, is sent to the cabin of his idol, Simon, a reclusive award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books, to help him finish what might be his last book. Desperate to save his own career, Peter hopes to discover the secret of Simon’s genius, but first he must accept the impossible task: helping Simon confront the monsters that populate the woods inside his mind. This darkly humorous play makes us question the cost of success.

Written by Pen/USA Award-winning playwright Shem Bitterman (Harm’s Way, Open House, Influence) and directed by Drama Desk and Humanities Award-winning director Steve Zuckerman (Broadway: Nuts), The Stone Witch opens in previews tonight (July 21) and runs through Saturday, August 20 at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Little Shop of Horrors” @ the Colonial Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

July 11th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
Little Shop of Horrors, 2016 (photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware)

“Little Shop of Horrors” @ the Colonial Theatre thru July 23 (photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware)

Review by Larry Murray

Like a Christmas tree draped with tons of tinsel, a whole new Audrey II made her appearance in the Berkshire Theatre Group’s re-imagining of the classic skid row musical, Little Shop of Horrors. And as funny as it was to behold Taurean Everett as the infamous hungry green plant from outer space, she was but one of the many pleasures that this brilliant musical has in store at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. This is, after all, the deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical which has been devouring the hearts of theater-goers for more than 30 years.

I have seen perhaps a half dozen productions of Little Shop in theaters big and small, but none has come close to the perfection of the cast that director Ethan Heard assembled into a true ensemble that meshed together perfectly. At the top of his form is Stephen DeRosa as Mushnik the florist, one of the finest character actors around, and whose physical comedy work is matched with his sublime ability to play dead serious as well.

Stanley Bahorek, no stranger to the Berkshires either, slipped easily into the role of the nebbishy Seymour, and with both great acting chops and a strong baritone voice that sold every song and bit of business he had with all the other characters on stage. And his plaintive exchanges with the carnivorous plant had the audience howling. Of course, he is in love with Audrey, after whom he named the plant, and Lindsay Nicole Chambers captured her sweet spot, which is somewhere between caricature and pathos as her clueless character demands.

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BTG’s “Fiorello!” Heads to Off-Broadway [Berkshire on Stage]

July 7th, 2016, 1:00 pm by Sara
A victorious “Fiorello!” with Austin Lombardi as the memorable Mayor (photo: Emma Rothenberg-Ware)

A victorious “Fiorello!” with Austin Lombardi as the memorable Mayor (photo: Emma Rothenberg-Ware)

Berkshire Theatre Group and Artistic Director/CEO Kate Maguire announced that due to critical acclaim and record breaking attendance, BTG’s production of the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning musical, Fiorello! is moving to New York City. This is the first time Berkshire Theatre Group will be producing a show Off-Broadway. The current production, playing at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, is being directed by Robert Moss, the founder of Playwrights Horizons in New York City.

Moss says, “Mayor La Guardia was long gone by the time I moved to New York, so I never lived under his tenure in City Hall. But the “Little Flower,” as he was called, lives on in memory. The music is toe-tappingly delightful, the characters are richly drawn and a story about good guys is desperately needed in today’s jaded and vitriolic politics. It’s great to be reminded, as the music lifts us aloft, that good can triumph over selfishness.”

The current staging of Fiorello! continues in the Berkshires through Saturday, July 23 at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. For ticket information and show times go to

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