Posts Tagged ‘Larry Murray’

Progressive Love on the Dance Floor: JD Samson @ MASS MoCA [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
Singer and producer JD Samson is at Mass MoCA on September 5, 2015.

Singer and producer JD Samson is at MASS MoCA on Saturday (September 5).

A member of the legendary electro-feminist-punk project Le Tigre, the singer and producer JD Samson is an articulate champion of social causes and a party waiting to erupt. She’s here with a live band set and a DJ set for a summer-ending night of progressive love on the dance floor. Samson takes the stage at MASS MoCA’s Courtyard C on Saturday (September 5) at 8pm.

An eloquent activist, feminist, writer and performer, Samson was raised in a Cleveland suburb by two artists. Coming out at the age of 15, Samson overcame hardships to become a strong activist for feminist and LGBT rights. She pursued her passion in film by attending Sarah Lawrence College, where she landed a job managing projections for the electronic, feminist group Le Tigre – an all-female band with roots in dance, punk and pop music. Shortly thereafter, in 2000, Samson became a contributing member of the band. As a part of Le Tigre, Samson channeled her personal life to produce electrifying, upbeat music with strong sociopolitical and LGBT ties. When the band took a break in 2006, Samson formed a new project, MEN, with Le Tigre’s Johanna Fateman.

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THEATER Review: “Evita” @ the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 31st, 2015
Eva Peron

Eva Peron

Theatre review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: I’ve waited a long time for Evita to be performed in this area…

Larry Murray: It’s one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most interesting concept musicals because its jewel of a lead, Eva Perón (Joanna Russell) left such an impressive legacy that even an Englishman was inspired to make her life into a musical. People don’t think of the safety net she created in the middle of a brutal military dictatorship, but as Evita brings out, her story was propelled by her upbringing as a desposeído. She cared for the poor even as the government enriched itself to the point of bankruptcy.

Gail: Eva Perón (1919-1952) was an amazing woman, and like most amazing women her story is told and retold through various patriarchal lenses – political, religious, sexual and here artistic. Since she was only 33 when she died of cancer, there was not time for Evita to tell her own story.

And while this 1976 Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera is iconic and well known, this is the first time I have been offered an opportunity to see it since I bought a $10 seat in the nose-bleed section of the original Broadway production in 1979. (Yes, you could see a Broadway musical for $10 back then.) It’s a show everyone knows, and nobody does. For the tiny Theater Barn in New Lebanon to tackle it takes chutzpah!

Larry: I was impressed by both leads, Joanna Russell has a tremendous voice which she kept under control, building songs like “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from pianissimo beginnings to exuberant displays of vocal prowess. Her acting style was forthright, and not overwrought, whereas someone trained as an actor rather than a singer might have been tempted to burn up the scenery a bit, don’t you think? In a gorgeous glittering white dress, arms raised high on the balcony, she was every bit the Evita we have come to know from legend.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Roomful of Teeth Return to MASS MoCA on Friday [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Roomful of Teeth (photo: Nicholas Whitman)

Roomful of Teeth (photo: Nicholas Whitman)

Exploring new vocal territory and sharing music from their new 2015 album Render, the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth comes home to MASS MoCA in North Adams to celebrate the work of composer-in-residence Ted Hearne, harnessing all sorts of colors, gestures and timbres as the group explores all possibilities of the human voice. Roomful of Teeth’s annual two-week residency culminates in a concert at 8pm on Friday (August 28).

Both as an expansion and a tribute to the group’s self-titled predecessor (called “sensually stunning” by The New York Times), Render is the next leg of Roomful of Teeth’s journey to mine the expressive possibilities of the magnificent vocal palette offered by each of the ensemble’s eight powerful singers. Group alto and Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw relates the title of the album to the “idea of seeing…distinct particles slowly come together [to] create an image” (NPR). The recording emerges as one likeness, but remains unforgettably composed by distinct and enormously talented contributors, including founder and artistic director Brad Wells, as well as William Brittelle, Wally Gunn, Missy Mazzoli, Caleb Burhans and ensemble tenor Eric Dudley.

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“Engagements” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 24th, 2015
Adam Gerber, Robert David Grant and Amanda Quaid.

Adam Gerber, Robert David Grant and Amanda Quaid.(photo: Kevin Sprague)

By Larry Murray

The newest play at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is the sexy, millennial world premiere comedy Engagements by Lucy Teitler, which runs through Sunday (August 30).

Engagements tells the story of Lauren, a very bright but slightly confused millennial who is spending her summer attending picture-perfect engagement parties. Lauren has no qualms when facing love’s trials, but may have met her match in her best friend’s boyfriend. As the unforgettable heroine of this pitch-black anti-romantic comedy, Lauren navigates this midsummer nightmare as she weighs the value of her romantic life against the real significant other in her life, her best friend.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

MUSIC: PigPen Theatre Co. Arrives @ MASS MoCA on Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Part innovative theatre company and part indie-folk band, PigPen Theatre Co. creates albums that turn into musicals performed as fully staged productions or straight-forward concerts. The band will be at MASS MoCA in North Adams for the latter, playing material from their new album, Whole Sun, which was released last month. Currently on a national tour, PigPen arrives on the MASS MoCA campus at 8pm on Saturday (August 15) for a sprawling, rollicking live show, outdoors on the Dré Pavilion.

PigPen Theatre Co.’s pursuits are anything but strictly theatrical, and the group has attracted a huge following on the merit of their music alone. PigPen’s debut album, Bremen, was named the #10 album of the year by The Huffington Post. The members of PigPen aren’t lying when they say they couldn’t have done it without their fans: the band’s freshly released sophomore LP, Whole Sun, successfully raised more than $50,000 via Kickstarter, exceeding its original goal in less than 48 hours.

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Visa Problems Force Cancellation of “Chewing Gum Dreams” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 10th, 2015
Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel

By Larry Murray

Williamstown Theatre Festival has announced that the American premiere of Chewing Gum Dreams, the solo show written and performed by Michaela Coel, scheduled to begin performances on Wednesday (August 12), has been cancelled due to delays with immigration procedure.

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THEATER Review: “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” @ Fitzgerald Main Stage [Berkshire On Stage]

Friday, August 7th, 2015
Darren Pettie (l) and Angel Desai (r) in Frankie and Johnny in the clare de lune. Photo by Michelle McGrady.

Darren Pettie (l) and Angel Desai (r) in “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.” Photo by Michelle McGrady.

Theater review by Larry Murray

In his play about a failed actress turned waitress and a short order cook who quotes Shakespeare, Terrence McNally has peopled his play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune with two interesting characters. And very little plot. When it comes to classic love affairs, Frankie and Johnny tales are numerous, and in this case the tragic and doomed love affair is reimagined as a one-night stand that turns serious.

With the lights and classical music turned down low, the audience giggles, then laughs at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzgerald Main Stage, as this tale begins with the sounds of steamy sex and a series of ever more intense moans and groans emanating from beneath the sheets. We hear (but do not see) Frankie (Angel Desai) and Johnny (Darren Pettie) consummating their mating in a big bed that dominates the set. Resplendent and massive, it takes up what seems like half the fifth floor walk-up tenement that is Frankie’s home. Sex over, she wants to send Johnny on his way so she can enjoy the rest of the evening watching TV and eating ice cream. Out of the blue, Johnny announces he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, raise a family and have non-stop sex. She is having none of it.

That is the gist of the story which can be summarized even more simply. In the first act, Frankie makes him a meatloaf sandwich, and in the second act he makes her a western omelette. He has a beer with a milk chaser as he engages in grandiose sentiments, and she is having none of it.

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Linda Lavin Returns to Club Helsinki on Sunday [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, August 7th, 2015
Linda Lavin with her musicians.

Linda Lavin with her musicians

Her last appearance in our area was SRO, and now Club Helsinki in Hudson is welcoming back for a third time two-time Tony Award and Golden Globe winner Linda Lavin backed up by her five-piece band and musical director/pianist, the famed Billy Stritch.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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