Posts Tagged ‘Larry Murray’

John Williams Ailing, Bows Out of Tanglewood [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 3rd, 2015
John Williams Conducting The Boston Pops 5/22/07. Photo by Michael Lutch.

John Williams conducting the Boston Pops, 5/22/07. Photo by Michael Lutch.

John Williams regretfully has had to cancel his upcoming appearances at Tanglewood in Lenox for Tanglewood on Parade on Tuesday (August 4) and Film Night on Saturday, August 22, due to a back ailment that requires him to rest and limit travel over the next few weeks. Williams is expected to recover soon and return to his conducting work in the coming weeks.

BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will lead the Boston Pops in Williams’ “Throne Room and Finale” from “Star Wars” during Tanglewood on Parade on Tuesday (August 4). And Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart will join conductor David Newman to lead John Williams’ Film Night on August 22.

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Chattin’ with Ian Lowe from Cap Rep’s “Murder for Two” – A Zany Musical Mystery with Killer Laughs [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Ian Lowe has a solo song, “Protocol Says” in his role as a detective in Murder for Two. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Ian Lowe has a solo song, “Protocol Says,” in his role as a detective in “Murder for Two.” Photo by Joan Marcus

Story by Larry Murray

Everyone can be a witness to the hilarity in Murder for Two, a witty musical murder mystery with a twist. One actor – Ian Lowe – investigates the crime, the other – Kyle Branzel – plays all of the suspects, and they both play the piano! This show is a zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, a whodunit that just happens to be loaded with both great music and killer laughs. The show has been running at Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre since July 10 and continues through Sunday, August 9.

We were able to catch up with the lead detective, Ian Lowe, who is familiar to theater-goers in the region for his appearances at the Adirondack and Dorset Theatre Festivals. He’s played the role before, and after completing the Albany engagement, will be on the road to New Haven’s Long Wharf Theater, New Jersey’s famed George Street Playhouse and Denver Center for the Performing Arts where Murder for Two plays next.

Ian and I chatted about what makes the show such fun. Lowe describes it as “90 minutes of madness,” which conflates the traditions of a good old-fashioned detective story “with the antics of Monty Python and the humor of ‘South Park.’ It requires your attention, but it is also just a lot of fun. Boiled down to its essence, I find it a very creative bit of musical comedy that also manages to be high style art.” That is due to the depth of its sources and references.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Paradise Blue” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 27th, 2015
(l) Blair Underwood and (r) De’Adre Aziza in Paradise Blue. Photograph T .Charles Erickson

(l) Blair Underwood and (r) De’Adre Aziza in Paradise Blue. Photograph T .Charles Erickson

Theater review by Larry Murray

In Dominique Morisseau’s “Detroit Cycle” of three plays, it is the women who come most vividly to life, and in Paradise Blue – currently onstage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival through Sunday (August 2) – that is doubly true as Kristolyn Lloyd brings a sad sweetness to her character Pumpkin, while the scintillating De’Adre Aziza burns up the stage with her heat as Silver, an opportunistic spider lady whose charms are impossible to spurn. Unless you are Blue (Blair Underwood), a trumpet player whose high notes could shatter glass, and low moods suffocate both his sanity and humanity. The second play in Morisseau’s series takes us to the Paradise Valley jazz club in 1949 where we also meet Corn (Keith Randolph Smith) and P-Sam (Andre Holland) as Blue secretly plots to sell his club and accept a gig in Chicago, where he will be a featured artist, not a back bench player.

According to the program notes, the first play in the cycle, Detroit ’67, was produced at the Public Theater in 2013, and looked at the explosive and unstable days of the 1967 riots/rebellion. Skeleton Crew, slated for a 2016 production at the Atlantic Theater Company, depicts four auto workers facing an uncertain future as the city edges toward the 2008 recession. In many ways it documents the difficulties of Motor City in the past and present, and offers a gloomy outlook on the future. Just as August Wilson’s plays give us a view into the inner life of Pittsburgh, so does Paradise Blue give us a taste of what life in Detroit might have been like for African Americans in the past.

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REVIEW: Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers” @ Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 24th, 2015
(l to r) Matt Gumley, Jake Giordano, Stephanie Cozart, David Christopher Wells and Paula Jon DeRose (photo: Kevin Sprague)

(l to r) Matt Gumley, Jake Giordano, Stephanie Cozart, David Christopher Wells and Paula Jon DeRose (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Larry Murray

At the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, the fresh new production of Lost in Yonkers is a contender for the summer’s best comedy. It’s a really funny show, especially the first act when we get to meet the characters. It is also in the race for the year’s best drama, as the second act unfolds with more gravitas than guffaws. It’s likely to be a hot ticket, too, since it is hitting the sweet spot with its audiences, as they find its human dimensions absolutely riveting.

Granted, it’s been a long time since just having Neil Simon’s name on the marquee was a gold-plated guarantee of a hot ticket. Lost in Yonkers came well after Simon’s laugh-a-minute comedies The Odd Couple and Fools, and also much later than his autobiographical plays Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound.

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DANCE: Daniil Simkin Reveals Four New High Tech Ballets at Jacob’s Pillow [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

By Larry Murray

I caught up with Daniil Simkin a couple of months ago as he was finishing up his promotional duties for the Rick Burns American Masters documentary about American Ballet Theatre, which recently aired on PBS-TV. He was also carefully monitoring the progress of the four choreographers who were creating new works for his program, Intensio, which has its premiere tonight (Wednesday, July 22) at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket. Simkin is more than just one of the best dancers of his generation, he is also an impresario, an entrepreneur of dance, and – what many people don’t know – an almost geekish lover of multimedia technology. In short, a Renaissance man bridging the classical and modern ages of old school ballet and the latest theatrical technology.

When we spoke, Intensio was already well on its way with the choreographers hard at work on their new pieces. “We’re all getting together for two weeks before arriving at the Pillow and doing the final work before the performances. We plan to allow a full week each for rehearsals and for the multi-media elements before arriving in Becket to put Intensio on stage again,” said Simkin. Intensio is a major life-long Simkin family project and was done – in an entirely different form – in December 2009 at the Palace Theater in Athens, Greece.

“We need to tech this properly because it is not just sets on a bare stage with music. It’s much more than that. We are trying to create media effects that include real-time figure projection. We’ve been pre-teching it, which has been a way of trying stuff out, making decisions as to what enhances each piece, and what doesn’t. We have not done projections before on the scale we are doing them now,” he explained. The dancers are ready. The performances begin tonight (Wednesday, July 22). The pressure is on.

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Chesterfest Offers Music, Food & Beer for Sunset Concerts at Historic Site [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 17th, 2015
Chesterfest at sunset (photo: Paul Rocheleau)

Chesterfest at sunset (photo: Paul Rocheleau)

A wide range of contemporary American musicians – from folk, alt-country and rockabilly to garage, punk and psych-folk bands – are scheduled to perform this summer at Chesterfest, a new Americana music series presented by Stockbridge’s Chesterwood, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Chesterfest will kick off on Sunday (July 19) at 5:30pm with singer-songwriter Dan Blakeslee, followed by Yep Roc recording artist Jonah Tolchin at 6:30pm, in support of his new album, Clover Lane. Both will be performing at Chesterfest for the first time.

The concerts will be held at Chesterwood on Sunday evenings from July 19 through August 30, rain or shine. In the event of rain, concerts will be held under a barn-size tent. Artists perform at 5:30pm, followed by a second artist at 6:30pm The grounds open at 5pm; attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for lawn seating. Tickets are $15 per person; children under 18 are free. Wandering Star Craft Brewery beer, made in the Berkshires, and Lakota-Bar-B-Q, the best barbeque this side of the Mississippi, is available for purchase. Tickets may be purchased at each performance (cash only) and online with a credit card (plus service charge) at

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TONIGHT @ the Mahaiwe: Pink Martini, a Musical Travelogue from Rio to Paris [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 13th, 2015
Pink Martini has a nostalgic big band sound, but with a fresh and lively viewpoint.

Pink Martini has a nostalgic big band sound, but with a fresh and lively viewpoint.

Pink Martini swings into Great Barrington’s Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center at 8pm tonight (Monday, July 13). The Portland, Oregon-based “little orchestra” offers a multi-lingual musical travelogue from samba in Rio to cabaret music in Paris. “As part of the Mahaiwe’s 10th anniversary season, we are presenting some of our audience members’ favorite artists, and we’re thrilled to welcome back this delightful ensemble, led by Thomas Lauderdale and vocalist China Forbes. They packed the house in 2013, and are about to do so again!” said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly.

The group draws on diverse influences to weave a seamless musical fabric that defies immediate classification, but has been lauded by critics throughout the world for its international flavor and ability to entertain. First attaining recognition during the lounge music revival of the mid- and late-1990s, Pink Martini sought a wider variety of styles, from Japanese torch songs to Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.”

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MASS MoCA’s Chalet Beer Garden Offers Music, Art & Intelligent Conversation [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 9th, 2015
Mass MoCA’s beer garden is a festive way to spend a summer’s eve.

MASS MoCA’s beer garden is a festive way to spend a summer’s eve.

It happens every Thursday and Friday at 5:30pm (and onward into the night). The Chalet, the summer beer garden at MASS MoCA in North Adams, is now open for business, and it’s a great place to spend a summer evening.

This year, they’ve added an all-star squad of appearances and performances: First is the critically acclaimed Soundsuit artist Nick Cave, followed by Sayler/Morris, the artist duo behind Eclipse (now on view). Clifford Ross stops by to talk about Harmonium Mountain, his phantasmagorical video-and-audio installation mounted on 12 massive outdoor screens in Courtyard D. Lastly, Dean Baldwin himself, sculptor, installation artist and the creator of The Chalet, makes an appearance to discuss his practice.

Today (Thursday, July 9) at 7pm, join in a conversation with Chicago-based artist Nick Cave. Part sculptor, part filmmaker, part dancer and part installation-sound-and-performance artist, Nick Cave is most notable for his Soundsuits, full-body outfits combining sculpture and costume crafted from objects found in antique shops and flea markets. Get an insider’s sneak preview at the Chalet about his upcoming MASS MoCA show, opening in 2016.

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