Posts Tagged ‘Larry Murray’

THEATER: Small, Quirky & Fun: “Gutenberg! The Musical!” @ the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Dominick Varney and Shaun Rice play Doug and Bud.

Dominick Varney and Shaun Rice play Doug and Bud.

Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Gutenberg! The Musical! is the kind of small, quirky musical that the Theater Barn in New Lebanon does extremely well, and that their audience just loves. And with just two actors, one pianist and virtually no sets or costumes, it also suits their small space and modest budget requirements

Larry Murray: I am always amazed at how the Theater Barn finds these little musical gems to keep us amused. And coming back for more. Anthony King and Scott Brown, who wrote this two man show were also in it originally, when it ran just 45 minutes. Later it was expanded to two acts and had a significant 2007 New York production directed by Alex Timbers (Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Last Goodbye) that starred our Williamstown favorite, Christopher Fitzgerald, and Jeremy Stamos.

Gail: The show is presented as a Backer’s Audition, a theatre ritual in which the creators of a musical do a concert version of their work before an audience of potential investors/producers. If the show involves proven talent, say, Stephen Sondheim or Jason Robert Brown, stars interested in appearing in the production participate in the audition, but that is at a higher level than these two guys – a caregiver at a nursing home and a senior barista at Starbucks – have achieved.

Larry: Dominick Varney and Shaun Rice play Doug and Bud, an aspiring words-and-music team peddling their musical very loosely based on the story of Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468), inventor of the printing press. Their comic timing and energy levels are remarkable, and Varney’s lithe and rubbery body is pretty amazing to see in action. Rice keeps up, barely, his strong suit being his amazing range of voices. He uses them to portray many of the dozen-plus characters in this musical. Both use a variety of imprinted hats to indicate which role they are playing at the moment.

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THEATER: Brilliant Production of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 28th, 2014
Sam Rockwell, Nina Arianda (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Sam Rockwell, Nina Arianda (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Playwright Sam Shepard says that his own experience of being in love inspired the aptly titled Fool for Love, now on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown through Saturday (August 2). He wrote: “[Falling in love is] such a dumbfounding experience. In one way, you wouldn’t trade it for the world. In another way, it’s absolute hell.” In the play, May and Eddie (Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell) are both trapped, dumbfounded, in their own mutual hell of love.

Larry Murray: Their relationship hit the rocks ages ago, yet something still binds them together. This passion is at the core of Shepard’s raw and emotion-drenched drama. Like watching a catastrophic storm destroy the foundations of our lives, we watch the two lovers cling to each other like life rafts even as they try to flee from the tumultuous waters of their own unpredictable relationship.

Gail: And we discover the brutal roots of their affair over the brisk, intermission-less 75 minutes of this production. Eddie and May are more than lovers, they are half-siblings whose mutual father kept two wives and families secret from each other until after his unwitting offspring had fallen in love in high school.

Larry: Fool for Love was written three decades ago, yet like so much of Shepard’s work, it still holds us in its thrall as the pair confront their passion for each other and the inevitable pain that May will feel when Eddie’s wanderlust kicks in again. The script is at times subtle with much to read between the lines, a masterpiece of understatement and allusion. But as with Sam Shepard plays, the words escalate into explosive action, the actors tearing at each other like mortal enemies. Everything happens in May’s seedy motel room while Eddie practices his lasso tricks, swigs beer and cleans his shotgun. When Eddie isn’t looking, she packs her suitcase in order to make a quick getaway. As a story, how do you feel this 1983 play has held up?

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A Tapping and Tall-Tale Telling Tommy Tune Will Light Up Barrington Stage Tonight [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 28th, 2014
A wonderful, pensive moment with Tommy Tune, captured by photographer Stephen Sorokoff.

A wonderful, pensive moment with Tommy Tune, captured by photographer Stephen Sorokoff.

Broadway’s tallest tapper takes to Barrington Stage Co.’s Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in Pittsfield — dancing, singing and tale-telling through 50 years of big-time showmanship. The show features Tommy Tune and his musical director Michael Biagi. It’s the kick off for the 2014 Summer Concert Series with Tony Award-winner Tommy Tune in Taps, Tunes, and Tall Tales tonight (Monday, July 28) at 8pm.

Tune is a nine-time Tony Award winner for his work on Seesaw, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Nine, My One and Only, Grand Hotel and The Will Rogers Follies. In addition, he has been awarded eight Drama Desk Awards, three Astaire Awards and the Society of Directors and Choreographers’ George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was honored with the Helen Hayes Tribute in 2011.

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Relentlessly Inventive Bang on a Can Offers Festival of New Music During MASS MoCA Stay [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Pop-up orograms in the galleries are a regular feature of the Bang on a Can Festival.

Pop-up programs in the galleries are a regular feature of the Bang on a Can Festival.

From Saturday (July 26) through August 2, the “relentlessly inventive” (New York Magazine) new music collective Bang on a Can collaborates with MASS MoCA to present Bang on a Can Plays Art, a jam-packed, week-long new music extravaganza featuring 14 concerts in eight days, as the culmination of the 13th annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA which began on July 14. Bang on a Can Plays Art draws inspiration from the visual art on exhibit in the galleries at MASS MoCA. Each concert will showcase music that interacts with the art on various levels – stylistically, thematically and whimsically – performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Festival artists and fellows, and special guests Steve Reich and Glenn Kotche (of Wilco).

Bang on a Can Plays Art kicks off in the afternoon on Saturday (July 26) with Bang on a Can Plays Izhar Patkin featuring Terry Riley’s minimalist classic In C, followed by a performance that evening of Bang on Can co-founder David Lang’s haunting death speaks by the Bang on a Can All-Stars with special guest Shara Worden, as well as a late-night solo concert by Worden’s musical alter-ego My Brighest Diamond.

Festival highlights include Bang on a Can Plays Teresita Fernández featuring Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe’s Cruel Sister (July 27); Bang on a Can World Premiere Composer Concert showcasing brand new music by the Festival Fellows (July 28); Bang on a Can Plays Ann Hamilton (July 29), featuring the world premiere of Paper Chorus created by the Festival musicians wearing Hamilton’s all new paper sculptures; Bang on a Can Plays Mark Dion featuring Morton Feldman’s Why Patterns? (July 30); Bang on a Can Plays Sol LeWitt featuring the music of Steve Reich, who was a friend and colleague of LeWitt (July 31); Bang on a Can Plays Anselm Kiefer, featuring Georg Friedrich Haas’ powerful string quartet In iij. Noct. performed in total darkness (July 31); Bang on a Can Plays Natalie Jeremijenko featuring Wilco’s Glenn Kotche (Aug. 1); and the annual Bang on a Can Marathon at MASS MoCA featuring more than 50 musicians and composers in six hours of non-stop, boundary-smashing music – a feast of sound including classical, contemporary, minimalism, ambient, jazz, experimental and more – including special guest Steve Reich and his newest composition Radio Rewrite, special guest Glenn Kotche’s recent chamber music and music from his new release Adventureland (Cantaloupe) and a rare performance of Edgar Varese’s masterpiece Ionisation (Aug. 2).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Like a Bad Penny, Peter Schickele Brings PDQ Bach Back to the Colonial Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Peter Schickele

NOTE: Larry Murray reminisced with Professor Peter Schickele about the imaginary P.D.Q. Bach which you can read here. There is also a rare photo of the tromboon, part trombone, part bassoon which Bach invented.

Musical humorist Peter Schickele will perform 50 Years of P.D.Q. Bach: A Triumph of Incompetence at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Saturday (July 26) at 8pm. It’s been 50 years since Professor Peter Schickele released P.D.Q. Bach on an unsuspecting musical public. And it’s been 80 years since the professor’s mother released the professor on an society ill-prepared for such singular genius. And now, because everyone loves a birthday, Professor Schickele has reached back across the decades to explore the damp vaults and dusty attics of Leipzig to once again celebrate the twenty-first child (out of twenty) of the great J.S. Bach. This special, once in a half-century, musical extravaganza will feature the crème de la crème of history’s most justifiably neglected composer.

Peter Schickele will perform twelve “quite heavenly songs” including: musical upsettings of the signs of the zodiac (for chamber ensemble), excerpts from The Notebook for Betty-Sue Bach (for solo piano), and songs from Shakespeare: The Bard’s most famous speeches set to 1950′s rock ‘n’ roll (for piano & chamber ensemble).

One thing that Peter Schickele and P.D.Q. Bach have in common is their love of writing party music. Mr. Schickele has composed rounds, songs and piano miniatures which have served as presents, congratulatory messages, homages, bread and butter notes (notes, get it?) and simply as something new to bring to sight-reading parties. He has been writing such pieces since he began composing during his early teenage years, and he continues to do so with undiminished enthusiasm; sometimes the results turn out to be among his best works.

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THEATER: Mark H. Dold as Alan Turing in “Breaking the Code” at Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Mark H. Dold and the cast of "Breaking The Code" (photo: Kevin Sprague.)

Mark H. Dold and the cast of “Breaking The Code” (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: If we had awards for theatrical achievement here in the Berkshires, I would immediately hand over the Best Actor in a Play award to Mark H. Dold for his tour de force portrayal of the complex and brilliant Alan Turing (1912-1954) in Breaking The Code, which is currently at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield. I understand that this was a role of great importance to him personally, and his dedication, commitment and hard work are evident.

Larry Murray: Yes, Dold is a major reason to see Hugh Whitemore’s play, it is a work that demands much from the person playing Alan Turing. In a pre-show interview, Dold summed up Turing this way: “He didn’t quite trust the human mind, it could be prone to make mistakes. He felt the only way to counter human error was to create a machine, a computer.”

And the play is designed as a bit of a puzzle starting in the middle, going back and forth in time and ending at the beginning, with his first true love.

Gail: Turing might admire the semi-cryptic style in which Whitemore has chosen to tell his life story.

Larry: Most people don’t know much about Turing, but he figured out how to break the Nazi enigma code and went on to develop the first computers and artificial intelligence. But tragedy was to be his lot, not because he was gay, but because he was honest about his homosexuality in England in the 1950′s when it was not only against the law, but terribly misunderstood, and considered a terrible security risk.

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James and Keira Naughton Preparing for Premiere of “Cedars” [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
James Naughton stars in Cedars at the Berkshire Theatre Group.

James Naughton stars in Cedars at the Berkshire Theatre Group.

Berkshire Theatre Group presents James Naughton in the world premiere of Cedars at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge. Opening night is Saturday (July 26) at 8pm; preview performances begin on Wednesday (July 23) at 8pm and the production closes Saturday, August 9 at 8pm.

In this world premiere, two-time Tony Award-winner James Naughton takes the stage as Gabe in Eric Tarloff’s one-man comedy, a raw and witty exploration of an estranged father-son relationship. Cedars is directed by Naughton’s daughter, Keira Naughton, who is a long-time BTG artist. She has acted in productions including: Birthday Boy, Macbeth, Faith Healer and The Book Club Play and most recently directed a stage adaptation of Roman Fever by Edith Wharton which featured Kim Taylor and BTG’s Artistic Director, Kate Maguire in 2013.

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Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell Passionate About “Fool for Love” at Williamstown Theatre Fesival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell play two ex-lovers holed up in a run down desert motel.

Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell play two ex-lovers holed up in a run-down desert motel.

By Larry Murray

Today we got a peek at the pair of lovers at the core of Sam Shepard’s drama, Fool for Love, which begins performances on the Nikos Stage of the Williamstown Theatre Festival on Wednesday (July 23) and continues through August 2. Daniel Aukin directs this Sam Shepard myth of the new Wild West. It stars Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur, Midnight in Paris) and Sam Rockwell (WTF’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Seven Psychopaths). The cast also includes Christopher Abbott (Girls, Martha Marcy May Marlene) and Gordon Joseph Weiss (Awakenings, Reversal of Fortune). The creative team includes Dane Laffrey (Scenic Design; Bad Jews), Anita Yavich (Costume Design; WTF’s As You Like It), Justin Townsend (Lighting Design; Here Lies Love), Ryan Rumery (Sound Design) and David Leong (Fight Director; WTF’s Corners). The Production Stage Manager is Kyle Gates.

Watching Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda interact during the press junket it was clear that the two performers were meshing together well as the two former lovers in the searing drama. In the Shepard play, the couple, May and Eddie, unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart in the process. Director Aukin sang praises of the two and finds them a good match for this tangled tale. During my brief one-on-one with them, they joked with and teased each other, and the director, and clearly were having fun working with each other.

The good cheer belies the difficult roles they play. For Eddie and May, beaten down by ill-fated love and a ruthless struggle for identity, the question becomes one of whether they can ultimately live with, or without, each other.

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