Jeff McCarthy Is “Kunstler” @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

May 18th, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara
Jeff McCarthy as William Kunstler (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Jeff McCarthy as William Kunstler (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Pittsfield’s award-winning Barrington Stage Company kicks off its 2017 summer season with Kunstler by Jeffrey Sweet. Running from Friday (May 18) through Saturday, June 10, the production by Saratoga Springs-based Creative Place International/And Theatre Company will take over the St. Germain Stage at BSC’s Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center. The official opening is at 3pm on Sunday (May 21).

Directed by Meagan Fay, Kunstler stars BSC veteran Jeff McCarthy (BSC’s Broadway Bounty Hunter, All My Sons, Sweeney Todd) as the self-described “radical lawyer” and civil rights activist William Kunstler and Erin Roché (BSC debut) as the whip-smart student who opposes him. The colorful, perpetually rumpled defense lawyer whose best-known clients include the Chicago Seven, inmates involved in the Attica prison riots and members of the American Indian Movement, makes a case for his often unconventional style, in this wise and revealing play.

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Line-up Announced for Mr. Finn’s Cabaret [Berkshire on Stage]

April 13th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara

Barrington Stage Company has announced the 2017 season of performances at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret, located on the lower level of the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield.

Named for William Finn, the two-time Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist of Falsettos and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Artistic Producer of BSC’s Musical Theatre Lab, Mr. Finn’s Cabaret celebrates its fifth season with an eclectic mix of performers from May through August.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Whale” @ the Whitney Center for the Arts [Berkshire on Stage]

March 21st, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
The cast of “The Whale:” Nancy Schaffer (Mary), Sam Therrien (Ellie), Dane Shiner (Elder Thomas), Mark “Monk” Schane-Lydon (Charlie), Meaghan Rogers (Liz) and director Jackie DiGiorgis (photo: John Kickery/Kickery Kreative Photography)

The cast of “The Whale:” Nancy Schaffer (Mary), Sam Therrien (Ellie), Dane Shiner (Elder Thomas), Mark “Monk” Schane-Lydon (Charlie), Meaghan Rogers (Liz) and director Jackie DiGiorgis (photo: John Kickery/Kickery Kreative Photography)

Review by Barbara Waldinger

According to playwright Samuel D. Hunter, his award-winning play, The Whale – currently on stage at Pittsfield’s Whitney Center for the Arts – was conceived while he was teaching a course in expository writing to freshmen at Rutgers University. What he learned was that in order to teach students how to write a good essay, he had to teach them not only to think independently but to have empathy. Throughout the play, Charlie, his main character, recites a seemingly short, simple essay about “Moby Dick” that demonstrates these qualities.

Like Hunter, Charlie teaches writing, hoping to find moments of “naked sincerity” in his students’ work. A morbidly obese man bent on eating himself to death, Charlie seeks a connection with his teenage daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a young child. Having left his family to live with his partner Alan, a Mormon and former student who has since passed away, Charlie begs and bribes his daughter to spend time with him. Rounding out the cast is Liz, Alan’s sister, a nurse who cares for Charlie, Elder Thomas, a young Mormon who claims to have been sent on a mission to northern Idaho, where the play takes place, and Mary, Charlie’s former wife.

The visits of each of these characters to Charlie’s home comprise the structure of the play. What do they each want of Charlie? What does he want from them? Why does he choose to end his life? How do they try to stop him? We explore these questions and many more in a play that, despite its premise, offers hope and empathy.

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THEATER REVIEW: 10×10 New Play Festival @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

February 22nd, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara

Dina Thomas is horrified by the sight of two grown men – Matt Neely and Douglas Rees – playing with plastic dinosaurs in “Sandbox.” (photo: Scott Barrow)

Review by Gail M. Burns

Ten 10-minute plays – five before intermission and five after – helmed by two directors – Julianne Boyd and Matthew Penn – performed by a versatile ensemble of six actors – three male, three female – on a bare stage with only the most basic sets and costumes in the middle of February. This is the 10×10 New Play Festival at Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company, now in its sixth season and well established a welcome winter outing for locals and ski-bunnies alike.

This year’s showcase of 10 plays were selected from close to 200 submissions, and I am happy to say that the majority of them are written by women. Gender parity is an ideal, but it is nice to see the women in the lead for a change. All the plays are entertaining. Most lean towards comedy to make their point, but a couple are on the more thoughtful side.

But before we get to the plays themselves, mention must be made of the delightful “Hamilton”-ian rap, written by actor Matt Neely, which opens the show. This has become an annual tradition, and it alone is worth the price of admission. The cast wears a few bits of appropriately revolutionary dress, and Neely concludes the piece by striking Lin-Manuel Miranda’s signature Hamilton pose, which graces that show’s posters in silhouette.

This year the 10 plays can fairly neatly be divided into five pairs that cover the same ideas and issues. So I will review them that way, as contrasting pairs. I have numbered the plays by the order in which they are performed.

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Berkshire Playwright Ren Campbell’s “Opus to Moonlight” @ the Whitney [Berkshire on Stage]

January 27th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
David Boag, Mary Anne Nelson Grammer, Randy Lemire, Kristen Bossio and Carla Lewis.

David Boag, Mary Anne Nelson Grammer, Randy Lemire, Kristen Bossio and Carla Lewis.

At 2pm on Sunday (January 29) at the Whitney Center for the Arts, the Town Players of Pittsfield present a staged reading of Opus to Moonlight, the first full-length play by Berkshire resident Ren Campbell.

Three women and one shattering event create a debilitating tension between art and life.

Opus to Moonlight is a story about choices, secrets and creation. Three women, at three different stages of life, return to face the truth about the past. Time is fluid; the past interrupts the brief hour they spend together in the artist’s studio where their greatest achievements and ultimate betrayals occurred. In the end each must choose the future they are willing to create.

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Barrington Stage Company Announces 2017 Season [Berkshire on Stage]

January 26th, 2017, 1:00 pm by Sara
Jeff McCarthy as Kunstler

Jeff McCarthy as Kunstler

Barrington Stage Company, the award-winning theater in downtown Pittsfield, under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson, has announced its 2017 season.

The 2017 season at BSC will include Kunstler by Jefferson Award winner and Emmy Award nominee Jeffrey Sweet (Flyovers), directed by Meagen Fay (Second City in Chicago), and starring Jeff McCarthy (Broadway’s Chicago, BSC’s Broadway Bounty Hunter); a production of The Birds by Conor McPherson, directed by BSC Artistic Director Julianne Boyd (BSC’s Broadway Bounty Hunter, American Son); a new production of Ragtime, directed by Helen Hayes Award winner Joe Calarco (The Burnt Part Boys, Shakespeare’s R&J), with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty; and the laugh-out-loud but rarely staged comedy, Taking Steps, by Olivier and Tony Award winner Alan Ayckbourn (The Norman Conquests) in a new production from Tony Award nominated director Sam Buntrock (Broadway’s Sunday in the Park with George).

The 2017 season will continue with This by Obie Award winner Melissa James Gibson (“House of Cards”) and directed by Christopher Innvar (BSC’s The Other Place); Company, with a book by George Furth and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, choreographed by Jeffrey Page (BSC’s Broadway Bounty Hunter) and directed by Julianne Boyd, and Gaslight (Angel Street) by Patrick Hamilton.

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Women Will Rock the Constitution @ the Colonial Theatre on Saturday [Berkshire on Stage]

January 20th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Sara
HEAR OUR VOICE by Liza Donovan was one of five graphics chosen from The Amplifier Foundation’s public call for art for the Women’s March on Washington.

HEAR OUR VOICE by Liza Donovan was one of five graphics chosen from The Amplifier Foundation’s public call for art for the Women’s March on Washington.

The Women’s March on Washington has inspired nearly 300 other ‘sister marches’ to take place on Saturday (January 21), including Berkshire County. All 50 states and Puerto Rico are confirmed to have at least one grassroots-led march on that day, as well as 55 global cities on six continents, from Tokyo to Sydney, Nairobi to Paris to Bogotá.

A local steering committee – including Kristen van Ginhoven (co-founder and Artistic Director of WAM Theatre) and community members Jayne Benjulian, Lynn Festa and Mary Lincoln – is organizing a free local event in solidarity with Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield will be open from 10am-2pm to provide a positive place where people can gather in support of the DC march.

“This event is free and people are welcome to stay the whole time or come and go between 10am-2pm,” van Ginhoven said. “We will be streaming the DC Rally from 10am-1pm in the theater, along with having some other action-oriented activities in the lobby. We are having a curated program from 1pm-2pm inside the theater that will highlight readings from the Constitution and original writing created especially for this event by local writers. The committee came together to organize this event because we wanted to offer a local alternative for everyone who can’t make it down to DC but wanted to support the March.”

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Berkshire Movie Makers Offer Panel Discussion [Berkshire on Stage]

December 12th, 2016, 2:00 pm by Sara
Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative.

Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative

Movie Makers in the Berkshires, a panel discussion moderated by Diane Pearlman, executive director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, will be presented at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield at 6pm on Tuesday (December 13). Admission is free. The panel is comprised of film professionals who live and/or work here in the Berkshires: art director Carl Sprague, director Diana Walczak, director of photography Richard Sands, visual effects supervisor John Nugent and director/animator Ben Hillman.

This fascinating panel discussion is offered in conjunction with Now Playing: Festival of Trees 2016, on view at the Museum now through Saturday, December 31, featuring a fun movie and cinema theme. The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative is one of the Presenting Partners for the annual holiday event.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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