Posts Tagged ‘Lenox’

THEATER: “Henry IV, Parts I & II” (Condensed) @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
The cast of Henry IV, Parts I and II (photo:  Kevin Sprague)

The cast of Henry IV, Parts I and II (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

Shakespeare’s two history plays purporting to be about King Henry IV of England (1367-1413 CE) are actually about the coming of age of his son, the future King Henry V (1386-1422 CE). They form the center of the Bard’s tetralogy which begins with Richard II and ends with Henry V, although some will argue that Henry VI, Parts I, II and III are also a part of what becomes then a seven-play cycle. All of this was quite recent history for Shakespeare (1564-1616 CE) and these plays were not only very popular entertainment, but also formed the Tudor equivalent of the required high school course in American History we are familiar with today. At a time when most people were illiterate and few had any formal schooling, they could learn the royally sanctioned history of their land at the theater while laughing at Sir John Falstaff and his merry band of thieves and whores.

Performed in their entirety, Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II occupy the stage for a good seven hours. Hard to perform apart contextually, they are impossibly expensive and time consuming for a modern company to perform together. Starting off last year with a production of Richard II, Shakespeare & Company wanted to continue on with the history plays, and so commissioned actor/director Jonathan Epstein to condense Henry IV into one play. The resulting work runs a solid three hours, and when you add in the much-needed 20-minute intermission you walk out of the theater about three and a half hours after you entered. Thankfully the evening performances start at 7:30, not 8pm.

Epstein has cut much of the history in favor of the excellent comedy in the plays, but sadly that renders the politics and battles that remain even harder for the average audience member to understand. Adding to that muddle, just about every significant political player is named Henry (and sometimes called Harry or Hal), which is neither Epstein nor Shakespeare’s fault, that’s just history. For the sake of clarity in this review we will refer to them as Henry IV, Prince Hal (the future King Henry V), Hotspur (Henry Percy), and Percy (Hotspur’s father, the Earl of Northumberland).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Advertisement

Jonathan Epstein Adapts, Directs and Stars in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” Thru Aug. 31 [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 7th, 2014
In rehearsal: Henry Clarke (l) and Jonathan Epstein (phot: Elizabeth Aspenlieder)

In rehearsal: Henry Clarke (l) and Jonathan Epstein (photo: Elizabeth Aspenlieder)

A sweeping spectacle of bawdy buffoonery and bloody rebellion, director Jonathan Epstein’s razor sharp and condensed adaptation of Henry IV delivers both parts in one dynamic evening of theatre. Performances run in Shakespeare & Co.’s Tina Packer Playhouse through August 31. Press opening is Friday (August 8) at 7pm.

Shakespeare’s take on honor, war, sex and violence has never been more acute than in this riotous comedy that inter-mingles the young-rascal-that-would-be-king, Prince Hal, with the psychological underpinnings of father/son relationships. Epstein sets Shakespeare’s wildest history tale between a bustling 15th century Eastcheap and a more contemporary London, where both settings blend together as we follow this stirring history of succession to the throne. Meet the notorious Prince Hal, heir apparent, who rebels against his father, forsakes the court and engages in petty crime with that huge ‘sweet creature of bombast,’ the unruly knight Falstaff. When the Prince’s nemesis, Hotspur, and the northern lords rebel, will Hal stay and continue carousing with his surrogate ‘father’ Falstaff or heed the call of duty from the ailing King Henry? An exhilarating and potent journey through time and history, Henry IV offers many of the most memorable characters and lines in Shakespeare’s canon as it continues to captivate and mesmerize audiences over four centuries later.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

A Jazzy “Midsummer Night’s Dream” Set in 1930′s New Orleans [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
(photo by Kevin Sprague)

(photo by Kevin Sprague)

Theatre review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is probably Shakespeare’s best known and most performed play next to Romeo and Juliet, and while it has within it the seeds of the tragedy about the star-crossed lovers, it does not end with a double suicide, but with the joy and happiness of a group wedding. But even more uplifting is that fantasy and reality are what we see married in this Shakespeare classic.

Gail M. Burns: And it is a very special show for Shakespeare & Company because it was the first show they ever presented outdoors at The Mount in 1978. Artistic Director Tony Simotes, a founding member of the company, played Puck back then. He has directed this production, which is the Company’s eighth, its second indoors in the Packer Playhouse.

Larry: Simotes decided to set this production in 1930’s New Orleans which means it opened, not surprisingly, with some Dixieland Jazz.

Gail: We both loved the music, composed by the multi-talented Alexander Sovronsky. In addition to acting as composer, music director and sound designer for this production, he also plays an hilarious Francis Flute who in turn is cast as the leading lady in Pyramus and Thisbe.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

All-American Opening Night at Tanglewood Stars Renée Fleming [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Renee Fleming

The Boston Symphony Orchestra begins its 2014 Tanglewood season on Saturday (July 5), at 8:30 p.m. in the Shed, with an all-American Opening Night at Tanglewood program featuring superstar soprano Renée Fleming. The first half of the concert, led by conductor William Eddins in his BSO debut, begins with two brief works by Joseph Schwantner and Aaron Copland: the former’s Freeflight, a 1989 Boston Pops commission, and the latter’s Night Thoughts from Music for a Great City. Ms. Fleming then joins the orchestra for Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and the first half concludes with John Adams’s vivacious Short Ride in a Fast Machine. After intermission, Ms. Fleming joins conductor Rob Fisher (also in his BSO debut) and the orchestra for a selection of favorites from musical theater, including songs from South Pacific, The King and I, Porgy and Bess and The Sound of Music.

Ms. Fleming, who first performed with the BSO at Tanglewood on July 13, 1991, will also be featured from July 16-26 in Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Living on Love (written by Joe DiPietro and Garson Kanin) as a celebrated diva, along with actor Justin Long. In 2013 she released her album, Guilty Pleasures, which includes songs and arias in eight different languages and won her the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo. She also recently sang the National Anthem during the 2014 Super Bowl.

Tina Packer Returns with “Julius Caesar” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar brims with modern politics

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar brims with modern politics

Idealism, ambition, conspiracy, honor, greed, betrayal and the lust for power — echoes of our own modern politics — are all on tap in Shakespeare’s potent and bloody Julius Caesar. Last performed at Shakespeare & Company. in 1993, Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer delivers audiences her ‘bare-Bard’ production of Caesar, marking its final leg of a three city tour – Orlando, Florida; Prague in the Czech Republic; and now at home in Lenox, with Shakespeare & Company. With seven actors playing multiple roles, this poetry-filled psychological and political thriller follows the conspiracy and assassination of the omnipotent Roman leader, and the consequences that ensue from his brutal murder. Performances run in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre from Friday (June 27) through August 30.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Rick Dildine to Head Shakespeare & Company in Lenox as Executive Director and President [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Good fortune has smiled on Shakespeare & Company as Rick Dildine joins the staff.

Good fortune has smiled on Shakespeare & Company as Rick Dildine joins the staff.

Shakespeare & Company Board Chair Sarah Hancock announced that Rick Dildine, previously of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, will become the organization’s Executive Director and President, starting early September, 2014. In this role, Mr. Dildine will be directly responsible for all of the Company’s programming and administrative activities.

Mr. Dildine comes to Shakespeare & Company after five years as Executive Director of the nationally acclaimed Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, and four years as Director of the MFA Program in Arts Management & Leadership at Webster University. He has a distinguished 15-year career in arts leadership, successfully managing several diverse organizations.

“I am honored to move into the role of Executive Director at Shakespeare & Company,” said Mr. Dildine. “It has been a long dream of mine to lead a destination theater, and to now work with one that is so well-regarded nationally for its work is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Shakespeare & Company has a 37-year history of producing exceptional theater and to be able to work alongside so many of its artists and craftsmen whose work I have admired for years is an incredible honor.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Review: Kristen Wold Makes a Tour-de-Force of “Shakespeare’s Will” [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, June 9th, 2014
Kristen Wold (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Kristen Wold (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Shakespeare’s Will has everything going for it except the truth, and the details that would inform us about the life of Shakespeare and those closest to him are essentially unknowable. While Kristen Wold, who plays Anne Hathaway, is absolutely convincing on stage, we saw what was, in essence, a gossip play.

Gail M. Burns: We should make it clear that we are discussing Anne Hathaway (1555/56– 6 August 1623) who was married to William Shakespeare, not the Academy Award-winning actress who is alive today. Like most women of her time, we know nothing about her except for what she did through the church and the legal system, and what men she “belonged to.” We know that she was baptized, married, her children were baptized and she was buried. We know who her father, brothers and husband were and what property they owned. We know that she and the children lived in Stratford, in Warwickshire, England, while her husband lived for many years in London while he worked in the theatre. At the time of their marriage, Shakespeare was 18 and Hathaway was 26 and pregnant.

Larry: As a playwright, one of the things you have going for you when you write about a dead person is the inability of the deceased to come back and challenge your assertions. Far more people claimed to have sex with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe after they died than when they were alive. And I suspect that Shakespeare was far less randy than the playwright Vern Thiessen has worked into his play, Shakespeare’s Will.

Gail: Or more so. Mores were very different back then, and it would be interesting to learn more about how married but separate couples like Hathaway and Shakespeare were expected to comport themselves.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Composers and Programs for the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music July 17-21 [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 6th, 2014
John Harbison, Michael Gandolfi in a photo by Sheppard Ferguson.

John Harbison, Michael Gandolfi in a photo by Sheppard Ferguson.

Harbison and Gandolfi focus on American composers, former Tanglewood Fellows

The 2014 Festival of Contemporary Music, under the direction of composers John Harbison and Michael Gandolfi, will highlight works by American composers as part of Tanglewood’s season-long focus on American music with a special emphasis on works by former/current Tanglewood Music Center Composition Fellows and works by women composers, including Hannah Lash, Kate Soper, Anna Weesner, British composer Charlotte Bray and Korean composer Seung-Ah Oh. This year’s festival will also feature music by some of today’s most respected American composers, represented either by very recent works or by very early pieces, including John Adams, Martin Boykan, Michael Gandolfi, John Harbison and Steven Mackey, as well as works by 20th century masters Jacob Druckman, George Perle and Roger Sessions.

A highlight of this year’s Festival of Contemporary Music is the world premiere of Welsh-born American composer Bernard Rands’ Folk Songs, a kind of autobiography of the composer’s musical life in England and Wales, Italy, Germany and the United States. This year’s festival also features the world premiere of Voices by the young German composer and 2012 TMC Fellow Benjamin Scheuer. These new works have been commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Holly & EvanCaffe LenaCartoonist John CaldwellAdvertise on Nippertown!Hudson SoundsLeave Regular Radio BehindArtist Charles HaymesKeep Albany BoringThe LindaAlbany PoetsBerkshire On StageRamblin Jug Stompers