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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Hubbard Hall Presents “The Glass Menagerie” [Berkshire on Stage]

April 19th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara
(left) Grace Sgambettera, Christine Decker, and David Snider in rehearsal for “The Glass Menagerie” at Hubbard Hall and (right) Grace Sgambettera as Laura and Christine Decker as Amanda rehearse a scene.

(left) Grace Sgambettera, Christine Decker, and David Snider in rehearsal for “The Glass Menagerie” at Hubbard Hall and (right) Grace Sgambettera as Laura and Christine Decker as Amanda rehearse a scene.

Hubbard Hall in Cambridge is producing Tennessee Williams’ classic The Glass Menagerie for the first time in its almost 40 year history. Opening Saturday (April 22) on Hubbard Hall’s mainstage, this great American play tells the tale of Tom, his sister Laura, their mother Amanda and the Gentleman Caller. A meditation on how the past can haunt our present, this drama made playwright Tennessee Williams famous and is perhaps his most personal work – giving us a window into his love for his real life sister Rose. Filled with laughter, love and longing, The Glass Menagerie is a great play about family, forgiveness and our desire to let go of the past.

Roger Danforth, recent Artistic Director of the Drama League of New York, directs a powerful cast including David Snider (last seen as John Proctor in the Hall’s production of The Crucible), Grace Sgambettera, recent Skidmore College graduate and Saratoga Shakespeare actor Woodrow Proctor and Cambridge’s very own Christine Decker as Amanda.

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THEATER: Hubbard Hall & Cambridge Central Present “Fiddler on the Roof” [Berkshire on Stage]

March 23rd, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
The cast of "Fiddler on the Roof"

The cast of “Fiddler on the Roof”

Hubbard Hall, in partnership with Cambridge Central School, presents the award-winning musical Fiddler on the Roof on the Hubbard Hall Main Stage. The production will whisk you away to the small village of Anatevka where Tevye, Golde and their five daughters struggle to preserve tradition and cultural identity while trying to find their own place in a rapidly changing world. Written by Joseph Stein with the music of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick – including “Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life” and “Sunrise, Sunset” – the musical theater classic is directed and choreographed by Kyra Fitzgerald. The production opens on Friday (March 24) and runs through Sunday, April 2.

“This is the first year the CCS Drama Club is officially in residence at Hubbard Hall, and we’re thrilled,” says Hubbard Hall Executive & Artistic Director David Snider. “Having dozens of these teens fill the Hall each afternoon with their energy, music and talent is a great addition to the life of the Hall, and the Hall space better supports and features the work of these amazing students. We hope everyone in the community will come out to cheer and revel in their great work.”

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Book Club Play” @ Hubbard Hall [Berkshire on Stage]

March 6th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Sara
The relationships between Ana (Megan Demarest), her husband Rob (Wade Simpson) and their old college friend Will (Oliver Wadsworth) form the heart of “The Book Club Play.”

The relationships between Ana (Megan Demarest), her husband Rob (Wade Simpson) and their old college friend Will (Oliver Wadsworth) form the heart of “The Book Club Play.”

Review by Gail M. Burns

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my winter down-time reading. Books – tangible, virtual and audio – provide satisfying and very inexpensive entertainment. Sharing them with friends is an added joy and having an excuse to gather together for food and friendship makes belonging to book clubs a popular pastime.

Of course, such gathering are not just about books, they also reflect the character and social milieu of the participants. Confined as they often are to a single setting with a relatively small cast of characters, it is not surprising that a playwright took her own personal Book Club experience and translated it to the stage.

The Book Club Play had its world premiere in 2008 at the Berkshire Theatre Group. Since then it has gone on to become playwright Karen Zacarías’ most produced work. Through Zacarías’ working relationship and friendship with Hubbard Hall’s Artistic Director David Snider, it has found its way to the Freight Depot Theatre at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge as a delightful winter time treat.

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Blues & Brews @ Hubbard Hall on Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

February 24th, 2017, 9:30 am by Sara
The Roadside Blues Band

The Roadside Blues Band

Beat the winter blues and swing into spring at Blues & Brews – a smokin’ hot fundraiser for Hubbard Hall in Cambridge.

Beginning at 6pm on Saturday (February 25), listen and dance to the hot sounds of the Roadside Blues Band and enjoy chili, corn bread and desserts. All ages are invited, although ID is required to partake of the cash bar for beer & wine.

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“Whispering Bones” Makes for a Creepy Hubbard Hall-o-Ween [Berkshire on Stage]

October 26th, 2016, 3:00 pm by Sara

whisper

Once again, Kelvin Keraga hosts an evening of creepy and chilling tales at Cambridge’s Hubbard Hall, told by some of Greater Nippertown’s best storytellers. For hundreds of years writers have taken us by the hand and led us into old houses filled with apparitions: phantoms woven from memories and dreams and the dark core of our humanity. These tales are explorations of our souls, where characters cross the line between life and death, caught in situations that often draw out their deepest feelings. The supernatural teaches us what is natural: frailty and strength, loss and recovery. The nurturing power of imagination.

Saturday’s Whispering Bones is a great mix of great stories and the proceeds from the show will benefit Hubbard Hall’s Arts Education Scholarship program. This program helps to ensure that no student at Hubbard Hall is ever turned away from a class based on financial limitations.

This year’s Whispering Bones cast includes Siri Allison, Jack Boggan, Barbara Chepaitis, Kelvin Keraga, Stephanie Moffett-Hynds, Erin Ouellette, Tony Pallone and Catherine Seeley.

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20% Theatre Co. Explores Queer & Trans Experience [Berkshire on Stage]

September 30th, 2016, 1:00 pm by Sara
From “The Naked I: Self Defined” at Hubbard Hall and Bennington College on October 1.

From “The Naked I: Self Defined” at Hubbard Hall and Bennington College on Saturday (October 1)

Hubbard Hall in Cambridge has partnered with Bennington College in Vermont to bring area audiences cutting-edge monologues and short scenes that explore the queer and trans experience. Presented by 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities from Minneapolis, The Naked I: Self Defined features brand new, never before seen monologues, short scenes, movement pieces, spoken word poems, short film and more, and includes the contributions of over 70 artists.

Inspired by The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary by Tobias K. Davis, a production that explored the bodies and experiences of transgender, gender-queer and intersex individuals (which 20% Theatre Company produced back in 2009), the company has created, and will continue to create and produce a new NAKED I production every two years that takes the idea of a monologue-based play to a new level and boldly explains and explores the land beyond ‘male’ and ‘female’.

Executive and Artistic Director David Snider says, “We have teens in our community realizing their LGBTQ or Trans identities who have few resources for support – and few opportunities to see their stories on local stages. This is a rare and much-needed foray into performance directly addressing issues from the LGBTQ and Transgender communities, and I’m thrilled to be able to offer it at the Hall.”

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OPERA REVIEW: “Madama Butterfly” @ Hubbard Hall [Berkshire on Stage]

August 17th, 2016, 1:00 pm by Sara
Bei-Bei Guan

Bei-Bei Guan

Opera review by Gail M. Burns

When Alexina Jones founded Hubbard Hall Opera Theater in 2008, one of her goals was to “engage and build rural audiences for opera through offering affordable, intimate, high-quality musical and theatrical performances.” This she achieved immediately when HHOT’s premiere production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte started out playing to 85 percent capacity its first few performances, and then it sold out.

This year, which is Jones’ last at Hubbard Hall as she is moving on in her arts management career, 25 people were turned away from the open dress rehearsal of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly that I attended. The Hall only seats 120. A “rural audience” for opera has not only been engaged, they have been enthused. In case you are not sufficiently impressed, Jones is well under age 40.

Jones started out producing truncated, comedic, family-friendly operas – although the singers and musicians have always been professionals – on the theory that full-length grand opera might scare off first-time opera-goers. And now they are packing the house for full-length productions of Rigoletto and Madama Butterfly.

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