Posts Tagged ‘Oldcastle Theatre Company’

Bennington’s Oldcastle Theatre to Host Classical Concert Series with L’Ensemble [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Oldcastle Theatre

When the Oldcastle Theatre organizers were planning their new downtown home in Bennington, they thought of more than just their own needs for theater when the renovated the old Knights of Columbus Hall. With flexible seating and a sound-enhancing rectangular shoebox shape, the new facility can host music of all kinds, but its superb acoustics are sure to be treasured by classical music lovers. After the new facility opened this past spring, eight theater productions have been staged, and now the spotlight turns to music.

L’Ensemble – billed for nearly 40 years as “not your ordinary chamber ensemble” – will be in residence at the new Oldcastle Theatre at 331 Main Street in Bennington for three concerts beginning on Saturday (November 23).

L’Ensemble’s musical mission has always been to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the definition of chamber music. L’Ensemble performs all facets of chamber music from Bach’s unaccompanied sonatas to fully staged productions. Under the direction of founder and artistic director, Ida Faiella, L’Ensemble’s repertoire includes the classics and much, much more, from jazz-influenced works to cabaret arrangements of the standards by such composers as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein.

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Reviewing a New Sherlock Holmes Tale – “Knight’s Gambit” @ Oldcastle Theatre Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Sherlock Holmes - Knight’s Gambit

Theater Review and Dialogue by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Early in the development of Paul Falzone’s Sherlock Holmes – Knight’s Gambit we heard that Nigel Gore was going to play Holmes, and we were both pretty excited in seeing this brilliant actor – often Tina Packer’s onstage partner at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox – in a very different role. But as Oldcastle’s director Eric Peterson explained before the performance began, Gore had to bow out and open auditions were held for his part in New York City on Friday, September 13, a mere two weeks before the original opening night. Rehearsals were delayed, and the opening was pushed up a week as Nick Plakias took the title role at the last minute.

Gail M. Burns: I understand that Gore’s mother fell ill, requiring him to head home to Great Britain. Of course, we wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back to New England soon, but a real-life crisis like that creates problems of a very different nature for a theatre company. Significant income from fall productions come from school groups, and postponing or canceling those bookings can be devastating for finances and community relations.

Larry: Plakias and the cast, which included Richard Howe, Scott McGowan and Bill Tatum, first appeared on stage as if nothing untoward had happened, but it wasn’t too deep into the first act when Plakias liberated his script from under the chessboard and began to refer to it in quick glances, as if to be sure of his next cue. It was clear he knew the script – or at least 95% of it – but was not yet on solid ground.

That got me thinking about how amazing actors and theatre companies are when faced with the adversities of life. We don’t think of actors as people who get indigestion or the blues, have family members who get sick, or worse, and while there are understudies for major shows on Broadway they are not at all common in regional or community theatres.

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THEATER: Venture Capitalists Get Rich on “Other People’s Money” at Oldcastle Theatre Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Jenny Strassburg and Paul Romero, in Other People’s Money, at Oldcastle Theatre Company June 21-30. (photo: Eric Augenstein)

Jenny Strassburg and Paul Romero, in Other People’s Money, at Oldcastle Theatre Company June 21-30. (photo: Eric Augenstein)

Review by Larry Murray

Ever since the Oldcastle Theatre Company in Bennington, Vermont opened its new theatre downtown they’ve been on a roll. Their latest offering is Jerry Sterner’s OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY is one hell of a play, especially if you are wise to how money is made these days, and it is not by working hard, let me tell you. If tales of greed, lust and power pique your interest, here is a brilliant production of an older gem in Southern Vermont that is simply two hours of pure entertainment that might evoke a few gasps as you realize that what you are seeing is all basically true.

Just over the Massachusetts border from the Berkshires, Bennington, Vermont shares the region’s incredible affinity for well done plays by professional casts on subjects that are not the normal summer straw hat fare. With OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY, they chose a complex play that hits close to home dealing in depth with one of the greedy practices that caused America to lose so many manufacturing jobs. It is possible that seeing this play will give you an inoculation against such tactics being successful in the future because all business is ultimately personal when jobs are involved.

In 1989, the play OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY: The Ultimate Seduction, opened at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York, and the production ran for two years. It was voted the best off Broadway play by the Outer Critics Circle. Mitt Romney would likely praise the play, since it gives voice to the logic behind corporate takeovers, often euphemistically called “reorganizations”.

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Review: “A Strange Disappearance of Bees” Has Critics Buzzing With Excitement [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
(l to r) Jenny Strassburg and Melissa Hurst in “A Strange Disappearance of Bees” at Oldcastle Theaetre Company.

(l to r) Jenny Strassburg and Melissa Hurst in “A Strange Disappearance of Bees” at Oldcastle Theaetre Company.

Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Without question, “A Strange Disappearance of Bees” has to be one of the best original plays I’ve seen in a long time. By “original” I mean conceived wholly from the mind of the playwright – we see lots of adaptations, translations and historical or biographical plays, but this one is a new creation.

Larry Murray: It’s been years since a new play came out of the blue and knocked my over like a stroke of theatrical lightning.

Gail: For starters, it is clearly plotted and truly moving and engaging. These are good but imperfect people – just like you and me – and through the course of the play we come to care about them and understand why they make the choices they do.

Larry: Elena Hartwell, whom we had the pleasure of meeting – almost by accident – in the lobby before the performance began is the sort of person you just naturally fall into a conversation with. And her play is peopled with uncomplicated characters who you just can’t help liking.

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Review: Oldcastle Offers Fun-Filled “Around the World in 80 Days” in Bennington [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Around the World in 80 Days @ Oldcastle Theatre Company

Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: The play Around the World in 80 Days is about as deep as a shallow puddle says its creator, Mark Brown, but it’s really fun. It’s full of life, and the actors tell the tale as a group of eight-year-olds might, one minute they are bouncing around, pretending they are riding on an elephant, the next they are fighting for their lives in the middle of a typhoon. The Oldcastle production gives those of us in the audience a chance to be young again.

Gail Burns: You know I hadn’t thought of it that way, and I’m glad you helped me see the light. I was thinking that the show was rather juvenile, but of course it’s meant to be. It is told with child-like simplicity and has the joie de vivre of children at play. It is not only a great show to take children to see, it is a great show to enjoy with child-like glee.

Larry: Jules Verne wrote his adventure novel in 1873, the middle of the Industrial Revolution, and it was an amazing time to live in. Housing conditions were improving rapidly with the invention of indoor plumbing and the ability to live a more civilized and organized life than was possible before. Among the amazing feats of the era was the completion of the Suez Canal, America’s Transcontinental Railroad and the Great India Peninsula Railroad which made it possible to travel around the world ten times faster than in the previous century. It was all recounted in Verne’s book Around the World in 80 Days which Mark Brown reworked in 1999-2001 as the basis of this play.

Gail: There were still frontiers and uncharted lands then, although Phileas Fogg and his entourage stay safely within the bounds of “modern” civilzation and travel modes during their journey. This is a story of man’s sublimation of nature.

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Burns and Murray: Oldcastle’s New Theatre, New Musical “Northern Boulevard” [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, December 10th, 2012
Northern Boulevard at Oldcastle Theatre Company

Northern Boulevard at Oldcastle Theatre Company

by Gail Burns and Larry Murray
For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings, visit

The new facility

Larry Murray: It was a special night for Bennington, Vermont, with the opening of a brand new theatre by the Oldcastle Theatre Company and the premiere performance of Northern Boulevard, an impressive new musical by Bennington composer Carleton Carpenter, all watched over by a full house of residents, supporters and friends.

Gail Burns: From the opening comments by Eric Peterson, it seems to be a million dollar addition to downtown Bennington – neither of the company’s previous homes have been downtown. If the community embraces this new location, it could have the same sort of impact on Bennington that the Barrington Stage Company and the newly reburbished Colonial Theatre has had on Pittsfield.

Larry: I think the new facility is both efficient and flexible, design wise, being a large black box with movable seating modules, which are both nicely raked seating for great sight lines and quite comfortable. I didn’t think about my bum for 2.5 hours, which is not always the case in even the newest theaters.

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