Posts Tagged ‘Oldcastle Theatre Company’

Oldcastle Brings Back Big Daddy and “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” in Bennington [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Cast- Standing Right to Left: Tom Ferguson, Loren Dunn, Paul Romero, Anthony Irizarry, Richard Howe; and sitting Left to Right: Renata Eastlick, Melissa Hurst, Jody Schade.

Cast- Standing Right to Left: Tom Ferguson, Loren Dunn, Paul Romero, Anthony Irizarry, Richard Howe; and sitting Left to Right: Renata Eastlick, Melissa Hurst, Jody Schade.

By Larry Murray

Oldcastle Theatre Company in downtown Bennington is bringing Tennessee Williams’ classic “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” alive. This timeless classic revolves around one family and the web they have woven to protect their patriarch, Big Daddy (played by Oldcastle veteran Paul Romero) and his wife, Big Momma (Melissa Hurst) from the truth: Big Daddy is dying. Their son, Brick (Loren Dunn) and his wife Maggie (played by newcomer Renata Eastlick) only inflame tensions with their withering marriage. As the evening unravels, so does the family’s web. An American classic, Williams’ favorite play and a great evening of theater.

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“4,000 Miles” a Satisfying Evening of Theater, Well Done at Oldcastle [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 18th, 2014
A worthwhile and winning evening of theatre.

A worthwhile and winning evening of theater

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Since summer began, it feels like we have traveled some 4,000 miles in search of great theater, so it was nice to come back home to Bennington, Vermont’s Oldcastle Theatre after another busy week on the road. Granted it is not really our home, but it feels like one nevertheless. We can always count on director Eric Peterson to never settle for the adequate, whether it be in the acting, scenery or choice of plays.

Gail M. Burns: This is a most satisfying play theatrically and emotionally. This is a play about healing, which can be an agonizingly slow and uneventful process in real life, but which playwright Amy Herzog crafts into a suspenseful narrative with characters we really come to care about. Peterson has assembled a top-notch cast, and Richard Howe has designed another detailed set which uses the Oldcastle performance space to bring you right into Vera’s Greenwich Village living room.

More and more in this region “summer stock” is less about happy musicals and Neil Simon comedies and more about small, thought-provoking new plays. Herzog’s After the Revolution had its world premiere just down the road at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2010, so this 2011 sequel play has a built-in audience. That play won Herzog the New York Times Best Playwright Award, while 4,000 Miles won the 2012 Obie Award for Best New American Play and was nominated for the Pulitzer.

Larry: I loved After the Revolution, Gail. (Review) I have a soft spot in my heart for plays and films about grandmothers and troubled grandsons, and 4,000 Miles did not disappoint, even as it took us in fresh new directions in the complex relationships between skipped generations. Janis Young as Vera Joseph was the perfect senior, fumbling with her hearing aid, her teeth and her memory, she still gave of her heart and home to long-absent Leo Joseph-Connell (Andrew Krug), who had just completed a 4,000 mile cross-country bicycle ride from Seattle to New York City.

Gail: Leo is actually Vera’s step-grandson. His mother was the youngest child of her late second husband. He has suffered a tragic loss while on his cross-country journey, and the way he handled that crisis, and himself in its aftermath, has angered his family and his New York-based girlfriend, Bec (Hannah Heller). Heller had the difficult job of having to enter both of her scenes in a high state of emotion and stress, the causes of which are only obliquely revealed by the end. Hannah is an important part of the play, but it is not about her.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Oldcastle Theatre Premieres Fast-Paced “Play Date” in Bennington [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Oldcastlet Theatre Company

Theater Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: In Play Date, when three couples decide to get to together with their children for some adult conversation while the young ones play, all seems normal enough. But from the moment the lights come up, the complications begin.

Gail M. Burns: You know, in my day a “play date” was called a cocktail party. They happened on Saturday evenings, and the parents had drinks and snacks while we kids ran amok. The premise here is that the kids get the drinks and snacks (expressed breast milk and free-range organic chicken cubes) while the parents run amok!

Quick plot synopsis – Blaine’s political ambitions ruin his wife Missy’s plans to have a “play date” not only for their son but for herself as well with washed up actor/stay at home dad Trent, when he announces that he’s staying home to campaign amongst the mommies. Missy quickly invites the divorced Carol and the impossibly perfect Deb (an endorsement from whose husband is the aim of Blaine’s political ambitions) and their offspring to join in, while Blaine invites the widowed Rowan, a British professor of literature, and his daughter to complete the gender balance. The parents’ needs and desires mix and mingle to create comic chaos while the unseen children disport themselves as children will, despite Blaine’s efforts to entertain them with his campaign power point. By the generally happy ending many problems are resolved and lessons learned, by the grown-ups, not the kids.

Larry: This play – a world premiere by Dramatist’s Guild member John Morogiello – demands a great deal from its cast of two players, the solid Jim Staudt who alternates in the roles of Blaine, Trent and Rowan, and the impressive Sandy York whose Missy, Carol and Deb are simply unforgettable. It’s not an easy task to play three essential characters so that there is no audience confusion.

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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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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