Posts Tagged ‘Lenox’

LIVE: Boston Symphony Orchestra @ Tanglewood, 7/3/15 [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 6th, 2015
Jacques Lacombe conducts Gershwin Piano Concerto in F with Kirill Gerstein, soloist. (photo: Hilary Scott)

Jacques Lacombe conducts Gershwin Piano Concerto in F with Kirill Gerstein, soloist.

Review by Larry Murray
Photograph by Hilary Scott

All across the Berkshires, the stages have lit up as music, theater and dance return to the area in profusion. No migration is bigger – or more welcomed – than the annual arrival of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 100+ players and staff, all of whom make their homes in the Berkshires every summer. The legendary orchestra has a world famous sound that is still unequaled, one that is loud enough to fill Tanglewood’s 5,000-seat shed which serves as its summer concert hall with music, and up to some 15,000 on the lush and legendary lawn that surrounds the concert hall with the aid of loudspeakers. Both the classics and popular music are welcomed at the famous Lenox venue with its lush grounds.

Friday night (July 3) was perfect in every respect for the symphonic opening. The weather was clear and brisk, the grounds serene and green, the festive crowd expectant and in a very good mood.

For its first concert of the 2015 Tanglewood season, the BSO explored the riches of our country’s own musical heritage with a ravishing all-American program of music by John Harbison, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland and Duke Ellington. The dynamic Jacques Lacombe conducted, with the exciting pianist Kirill Gerstein, equally renowned in jazz and classical repertoire, featured in Gershwin’s Concerto in F. John Douglas Thompson electrified the audience as the speaker in Copland’s Lincoln Portrait.

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REVIEW: “The How and The Why” @ Shakespeare & Co [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 4th, 2015
Tod Randolph (l) as Zelda and Bridget Saracino (r) as Rachel. (photo: John Dolan)

Tod Randolph (l) as Zelda and Bridget Saracino (r) as Rachel. (photo: John Dolan)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: The How and The Why is a play about the biological fact of being female. It is not about sexual preference or gender roles, it is about being biologically, physiologically female. The two characters in the play – women aged 28 and 56 – are evolutionary biologists by trade, and they are also mother and daughter, but only in the biological sense since Zelda (Tod Randolph) gave Rachel (Bridget Saracino) up for adoption immediately after birth.

Larry Murray: I wasn’t sure how I would react to The How and The Why, but the focus on what it means to be female was surprisingly revelatory to me. So many men joke about how they don’t “understand” women, they don’t realize that figuring it all out is a pretty complicated job for women, too. There are far more difficult choices than I realized as any women balances her personal and workaday worlds with the unyielding evolutionary demands of child bearing. It’s something you have done so smoothly, and I have little understanding of. This play covers a lot of information as its scientific theories are discussed alongside some very human emotions. It’s a volatile combination. The relationship on stage could be compared to the Hadron collider because – at times – the mother and daughter came so close to annihilating their relationship with one another. But for all the insights science gives us, isn’t it limited in its contribution to understanding mammals, being more about contemporary women in the 21st Century than aborigines in the forest?

Gail: Playwright Sarah Treem addresses many aspects of the choices available to upper class white women in modern day America, yes. The choices available to women of other classes and races are very different, and actually more dramatic, which is why they are written about more often. Choices to reproduce, to marry, even to have a career that allows for financial independence are unique to this race and class in this culture.

Larry: While the how and why of scientific inquiry is easy to understand – how do things happen and for what reason – the collision between Zelda and Rachel is less easy to fathom. We know how the 29 year old tracked down her birth mother, but it is not at all clear why. Within the first few minutes of the play she seems unprepared to ask the important questions someone would ask a birth mother, Rachel makes an attempt to leave several times before the gentle comments of Zelda bring her back to their meeting.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Three Resign Board Leadership in Continuing Drama at Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Editorial by Larry Murray

An earlier article covers the news of Rick Dildine’s recent departure from Shakespeare & Company.

More changes. Following a meeting on Tuesday, Sarah Hancock, chairwoman of the board of trustees at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, resigned from her role as Chairman, but remains on the Board. Also resigning their position are Vice Chairwoman Claudia Perles who also remains a Board member, and Vice Chairman Charles Schader who has left the Board “for personal reasons.”

In a written statement, the company’s executive committee said that a new leadership team would be nominated during the next board meeting on March 30, and that team would “continue the company’s tradition of artistic excellence and community service. While we are sorry to see these persons leave their positions, changes like these happen from time to time in any organization, and it would be a mistake to interpret these departures as a sign that the company is in turmoil or in trouble. Neither is true,” the statement read. “In fact, the company’s financial status has greatly improved over the past years, it has an exciting season about to launch, ticket sales and enrollments in the company’s renowned training and education programs are both strong and the staff is actively engaged in making this season the great success it promises to be.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Dildine Leaves Shakespeare & Company; Ball, Bock and Croy to Lead New Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
Rick Dildine

Rick Dildine returning to the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis from whence he came.

By Larry Murray

Rick Dildine’s six-month tenure at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox was filled with controversy and secrecy as he tried to reign in expenses, redirect energies and reshape the legendary Berkshire institution that has always been valued for the actors who founded it. When the new season was revealed last month, it was more notable for the absence of the company’s regular actors being included than anything else.

A bland marketing campaign has followed, one that is most noticeable for its absence of the usual Kevin Sprague photos which have been a trademark of the company for some 20 years or more. Unimaginative blocks of color were substituted for the lively images that once communicated the essence of each upcoming play. The marketing of company subscriptions has been lackluster as well. The lack of familiar names and images has resulted in some regular subscribers taking a “wait and see” stance to see who the coming season will actually offer on stage. People who do not know how to sell tickets should not be allowed near the marketing budget, they always end up killing ticket sales.

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Shakespeare & Company 2015 Puts the Spotlight on Diversity of Plays, People, Topicality [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
John Douglas Thompson returns at last.

John Douglas Thompson returns at last.

By Larry Murray

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox announced its upcoming season at a celebratory gathering of members of the company, its board and select members of the press. With a dozen productions and special events planned over the summer, a challenging handful of contemporary plays will join proven Shakespeare works on the company’s three stages. As PR spokesman Elizabeth Aspenlieder remarked: “This season includes both the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays, Comedy of Errors, and the longest, Hamlet, plus one that’s in-between.”

Of the new works, the regional premiere of Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti caused considerable buzz, and the world premiere of Jane Anderson’s Mother of the Maid, starring Tina Packer was greeted with applause. In addition, the summer season includes The Unexpected Man by Yasmina Reza, and opens with the provocative new play by Sarah Treem, The How and the Why.

Diversity seems to be one key to the season, with four plays by women playwrights, including Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet. She has made her mark on stage and screen as both actor and writer and has created this astonishing play, to be seen for the first time in New England. Red Velvet is about Ira Aldridge, an African-American actor at the centre of controversy in 1833 when he takes over from Edmund Kean in Othello at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, It premiered in 2012 at the Tricycle Theatre in London, and in the this US debut will stars one of the company’s most renowned members, John Douglas Thompson.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Review: “It’s a Wonderful Life” Returns to Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, December 15th, 2014
It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play runs from Dec. 5-28. (photo: Enrico Spada)

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play runs from Dec. 5-28. (photo: Enrico Spada)

Theater review and discussion by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray (Reprinted from the December 12, 2013 review)

Larry Murray: What can be more fitting for the holidays than It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play which is the story of idealistic George Bailey as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. Do you agree that Shakespeare & Company in Lenox captured all the magic of Frank Capra’s classic 1946 holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life in this production?

Gail M. Burns: Darned if I know. I am one of the few adult Americans who has never seen the film all the way through. This iteration, adapted by Joe Landry from the screenplay by Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, and Jo Swerling, reimagines the story as performed by five stalwart radio actors on a snowy Christmas Eve when the sound effects guy gets stuck in the blizzard and can’t get to the studio. We, the studio audience for the broadcast, get the fun of watching them cope with the emergency and perform all the music and sound effects as well as the well-worn story of George Bailey.

Larry: Landry didn’t miss a single plot point of the film, and the five actors created the dozens of characters with just their voices. It was astonishing to hear Ryan Winkles change his voice instantly from Clarence the angel (second class) to Bert the cop. He played a dozen roles, as did favorite Jonathan Croy and the amazing Jennie M. Jadow. These chameleons changed accent, tone and cadence from one character to the next like racers taking the hairpin turn on the Mohawk Trail.

Gail: David Joseph and Sarah Jeanette Taylor anchor the story as George Bailey and the woman he marries, Mary Hatch. They also provide much of the charming music, with Taylor on piano and Joseph as the lead vocalist. The whole show, but especially the music, was charming in its simplicity and beauty, with many songs sung virtually a cappella. Joseph plinks out a few notes on the xylophone and Winkles bravely tackles a trombone riff, but Jadow on violin and Taylor on piano provide the melodic lines.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Sheryl Crow in Concert with Boston Pops Added to Tanglewood 2015 Line-up [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Sheryl Crow

Nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow will join Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops at Tanglewood in Lenox on June 19, 2015, at 8:30pm, for a concert performance to help kick off Tanglewood’s 2015 season. She last appeared at Tanglewood in concert with James Taylor and Yo-Yo Ma in August, 2009.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

James Taylor Returns to Tanglewood for July 4th with All-Star Band, Fireworks [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
The Berkshires love James Taylor’s appearances at Tanglewood as much as those of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The Berkshires love James Taylor’s appearances at Tanglewood as much as those of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

James Taylor returns to Tanglewood in 2015 with his All-Star Band for a performance on Saturday, July 4, at 7pm in the Koussevitzky Music Shed, followed by a spectacular fireworks display over the Stockbridge Bowl in celebration of the Independence Day holiday.

The July 4 performance will include many of the iconic songs so closely associated with Mr. Taylor, as well as new original material from his forthcoming album — his first in a decade — to be released in 2015. Mr. Taylor, who regularly performs to sold-out audiences at Tanglewood, has returned to the festival 23 times since his first performance there in 1974.

Tickets for the July 4 concert by James Taylor, priced from $26 (lawn tickets) to $103, go on sale January 24 at 10am at 888-266-1200 or www.tanglewood.org, where visitors can also find full details of the 2015 Tanglewood concert schedule, including performances by the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops orchestras, the Tanglewood Music Center and guest artists from the worlds of classical, jazz, the American Songbook, Broadway, pop rock, dance and film. Tanglewood — this country’s preeminent summer music festival and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra — is located in the Berkshire hills between Stockbridge and Lenox.

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