Posts Tagged ‘Gail Burns’

Shakespeare & Company Announces Its 40th Anniversary Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Illustrations by Kevin Sprague

Illustrations by Kevin Sprague

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox has announced its line-up for the 2017 summer season, which includes three Shakespeare plays: Cymbeline, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; plus two Edith Wharton comedies, Roman Fever and the newly adapted The Fullness of Life. Additional titles include the Obie Award winning 4,000 Miles by Amy Herzog; New York Drama Critics Circle and the Outer Critics Circle Recipient, Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage; and Tony Award Winner, God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza.

“Marking this 40th Season at Shakespeare & Company represents a thrilling opportunity for us to celebrate our company’s legacy, to take stock of where we are, and to look forward to an exciting future,” said Artistic Director Allyn Burrows. “Our robust 2017 programming highlighting the Bard is expanded to include special musical guests and contemporary women writers. We heartily invite people to make our grounds a destination to picnic, and enjoy a true Berkshire theatrical experience, including our new outdoor theatre in the Shakespeare’s Garden.”

The new Garden Theatre, located directly across from the Tina Packer Playhouse, is an intimate outdoor performance space with comfortable seating. This summer the space will be home to The Tempest, performed in-the-round at dusk. The Company will also present a 90-minute production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream outdoors in the Dell at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home. The popular Fourth of July Community Event, featuring the reading of the Declaration of Independence, will also return this summer.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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Explore Wave Field Synthesis @ EMPAC [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

In 2016, EMPAC at RPI in Troy completed construction on a 496-speaker “wave field synthesis” audio array, one of the most extensive and precise systems of its kind in the world, and this week on February 16-18, EMPAC music curator Argeo Ascani and audio engineers Todd Vos and Jeff Svatek will present a series of demonstrations introducing audiences to this new immersive sound technology.

Introduction to Wave Field Synthesis will be offered in four sessions between Thursday-Saturday, with attendance limited to just 15 participants at each event. Please reserve your ticket in advance.

Wave field synthesis is a spatial audio rendering technique that places virtual sound sources in real space, creating a precise three-dimensional sound field that may be physically explored by the listener. This is accomplished by placing a very large number of very small speakers very close together. EMPAC’s new system is novel in that it can reach into a much higher frequency range than other such systems — the band of human hearing that is most sensitive to sound placement in space. EMPAC’s system is also unique in that it is modular in construction, allowing composers, musicians and aficionados different geometric configurations for the wave field.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Adirondack Theatre Festival Announces 23rd Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

The Adirondack Theatre Festival has announced its 23rd season – the third for Producing Artistic Director Chad Rabinovitz, who will again bring an entire season of major new works to Glens Falls with a team of top-level professional artists. After a record-breaking season of sold-out performances last year, nearly doubling attendance and subscribership in just the past two years, the 2017 season promises to be even bigger and better with performances running from June 21-August 12 at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls.


2017 SUMMER MAINSTAGE SHOWS

NIKOLA TESLA DROPS THE BEAT
By Nikko Benson & Benjamin Halstead
Directed by Marshall Pailet
June 21-July 1
A misunderstood genius. A rivalry for the ages. An idea that would change the world forever. Turning the volume up on one of our time’s most influential (and controversial) innovators, Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat is a theatrical experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen. A show that can only be described as “Hamilton meets Tesla”, this epic battle of Nikola Tesla vs. Thomas Edison is set to the rhythm of a brand-new beat, in a modern and mesmerizing musical that will leave you speechless… and electrified.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Williamstown Theatre Festival Announces 2017 Summer Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield has announced the Williamstown Theatre Festival 2017 Summer Season, the 63rd season for the Tony Award-winning theater company, which will include four world premieres, a new musical, the first production of a WTF commissioned artist and much more.

The season – running from June 27-August 20 – begins on the Main Stage with a production of a new comedy by Jen Silverman, The Roommate, (June 27–July 16) directed by Mike Donahue and starring Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson (WTF debut) and Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee Jane Kaczmarek (fourth season at WTF); continues with Sarah Ruhl’s 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist comedy The Clean House (July 19-July 29), starring Tony Award nominee Jessica Hecht (10th season at WTF) and directed by Rebecca Taichman; and closes with a new musical A Legendary Romance (August 3-20), with music and lyrics by Geoff Morrow and book by Timothy Prager and directed by Lonny Price.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “Forever Plaid” @ Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
Forever Plaid at Theater Barn.

“Forever Plaid” at the Theater Barn

Review by Gail M. Burns

I have lost track of how many productions of Forever Plaid I have now seen, but this time was special because I brought my 20-year-old nephew and he had never seen the show before. I had the pleasure of watching the Plaids work their magic once again, and as we exited the Theater Barn in New Lebanon, my nephew proclaimed that Forever Plaid was now his favorite musical of all time. The last show to earn that approbation was Cabaret, which actually IS one of the great masterpieces of 20th century musical theater. What is it about this little piece of fluff that has made it so hugely popular over the last quarter of a century? It holds the record as one of the longest running shows on the Vegas strip – and this is a show with no scantily clad women (in fact, there are no women at all!) What makes Forever Plaid work?

One word: writing. Stuart Ross didn’t just craft a great line-up of late 1950s/early 1960s guy-group harmony tunes; he created a story and four distinct, lovable characters. Over the course of a mere 90 minutes you genuinely come to care about Frankie, Sparky, Jinx and Smudge, even though you never learn their last names, or even their real first names except for Frankie/Francis. These four guys are the schleppy everymen we all knew or once were. Sort of the upbeat version of Seymour Krelborn, if he’d had pals instead of plants to hang out with.

For those of you who haven’t seen this show (where have you been for the past quarter century?) Forever Plaid is the story of a mid-20th century close harmony “guy group” who are dead. On February 9, 1964, en route to pick up their custom-made plaid tuxedos, they were driving in their cherry-red 1954 Mercury convertible and rehearsing their big finale when they were slammed broadside by a school bus filled with eager Catholic teens on their way to witness the Beatles make their U.S. television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The schoolgirls miraculously escaped injury. The members of Forever Plaid were killed instantly. Through the power of Harmony and the Expanding Holes in the Ozone Layer, in conjunction with the positions of the planets and all the other astro-technical stuff, they are allowed to come back to perform the show they never got to do in life.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

THEATER REVIEW: “The Pirates of Penzance” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
Will Swenson and  pirates ensemble (photo: John Rando)

Will Swenson and pirates ensemble (photo: John Rando)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

If you are looking for a traditional, D’Oyly Carte staging of The Pirates of Penzance, keep on moving. There is nothing for you to see here. What is on the Main Stage at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is what you get when you let two award-winning 21st century artists and the perfect cast loose with one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s silliest masterpieces. It is a tidal wave of music and mayhem guaranteed to thrill and entertain all but the stodgiest of Savoyards.

After the colossal international success of their fourth collaboration, H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) – think of it as the Hamilton of the Victorian era – Gilbert & Sullivan were free in Pirates (1879 NYC/1880 London) to be fully themselves artistically. The result is G&S at the top of their form – witty, silly fun set to sublime music. It is also the most American of their operettas in feel, and the only one to premiere in New York instead of London.

In 1980, the centennial of Pirates’ London premiere, the New York Public Theatre, then under the leadership of Joseph Papp, presented this operetta as one of its free summer offerings outdoors on the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. This production was directed by Wilford Leach, choreographed by Graciela Daniele, and featured new orchestral arrangements by William Elliott, who also served as the musical director. It went on to a successful run on Broadway, winning seven Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Director for Leach, and Best Choreography for Daniele.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “Big River” @ Oldcastle Theatre Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
Big River at Oldcastle Theatre.

“Big River” at Oldcastle Theatre

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

I am on record several times over with my loathing of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” which I generally refer to as “two-thirds of a great novel,” and I didn’t like Big River the first time I saw and reviewed it many years ago, but Oldcastle Theatre Co. has done the impossible and CHANGED GAIL BURNS’ MIND!! Thanks to the directorial vision of director/choreographer Tim Howard and his very talented cast, I finally see and accept this story for the ground-breaking piece of anarchy that it is.

The last third of Mark Twain’s novel remains an embarrassment, but the reason the rest of the story soars is the central relationship of Huck and Jim as they glide down the Mississippi on that raft. Two outsiders – a runaway slave and an orphaned lower class boy who are, as composer/lyricist Roger Miller so aptly writes, “Worlds Apart” – on a grand adventure. And while all of this production is fine and entertaining, the show really takes wing during the song “Muddy Water” when Huck and Jim hit the river. Here Howard and lighting designer Scott Cally bring Dan Courchaine’s previously spare set to vivid life as the raft rolls and the waters of the Mississippi swirl around it and Huck and Jim’s hopes are so high and yet so close that they can reach out and touch them…

Anthony J. Ingargiola simply IS Huckleberry Finn, portraying the character’s vulnerability as well as his much touted tough and mischievous sides with energy, humor, and a fine voice. Huck has not had an easy life, and, now that he is about 14, society is expecting him to start taking on adult responsibilities. Reji Woods is a gentle Jim, patiently schooling Huck that “Slaves Lives Matter” while steadfastly focused on his goal of gaining his own freedom and reuniting his family.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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