Posts Tagged ‘Pittsfield’

Joy Behar to Talk It Up @ the Colonial Theatre on Friday [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Joy Behar

Comedian/talk show host Joy Behar brings her stand-up tour to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. With more than 30 years on stage and screen, Behar’s one-woman show takes us on a journey from her rollicking childhood in Brooklyn to center stage as one of America’s most notable talk show hosts and comedians. Behar comments, “It’s a good time to take stock of my shenanigans.”

Tickets to Joy Behar at 8pm on Friday (October 17) are on sale now for $35, $50 and $65. Contact the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield by calling 413-997-4444. Tickets can also be bought online at www.berkshiretheatregroup.org. The Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-2pm or on any performance day from 10am until curtain.

Behar is a comedic original and a leading woman both on stage and screen. She received an Emmy Award for her performance on The View, where she was a member of the cast for 16 years. She also hosted her own talk shows, The Joy Behar Show on HLN and Say Anything on Current TV.

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THEATER: “An Enemy of the People” at Barrington Stage, a Collision of Fire and Ice Onstage [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
An Enemy of the People with Joey LaBrasca, Dee Nelson, Steve Hendrickson, Katya Stepanov and Noah Bailey (photo:Kevin Sprague)

“An Enemy of the People” with Joey LaBrasca, Dee Nelson, Steve Hendrickson, Katya Stepanov and Noah Bailey (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Tragically, An Enemy of the People, a tale of the battle between the truth and those who would manipulate or stifle it for their own gain, is as relevant today as when Henrik Ibsen penned En folkefiende in 1882 in response to the public attacks on his play Ghosts, and in 1950 when Arthur Miller adapted it as a response to the actions of the House Un-American Activities Committee headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy. It is all too easy to draw parallels to the key concerns of today.

Larry Murray: I agree, Gail, and rarely do we see theater productions that so perfectly capture the temper of our times from a distance of 65 or 130 years. I think a large part of the reason that An Enemy of the People works so well is the excellence of every aspect of the Barrington Stage Company production in Pittsfield. Director Julianne Boyd has been doing these issue plays for many years now, and has yet to have one that has misfired. Her sense of historical importance combines with some pretty innovative direction to bring a big, long, grey play like this into sharp focus. The fourteen actors – drawn as much from this region as from New York – are uniformly superb.

Gail: The plot is painfully simple. In a town struggling to revive its economy after the Second World War, much money and many hopes have been pinned on the healing spa waters of Kirsten Springs and a new resort has been developed to capture the tourist market. The local doctor, Thomas Stockmann (Steve Hendrickson), concerned over a rash of illness among the Springs early patrons, has had the water analyzed and discovered that it is, in fact, contaminated by the run-off from the tannery upstream – a business that has been in his wife’s family for generations and is currently owned by his ecentric father-in-law, Morten Kiil (Glenn Barrett). Dr. Stockmann’s brother, Peter (Patrick Husted), is the Mayor, and they both sit on the board of directors of the resort. Dr. Stockmann has a happy family life with his wife Catherine (Dee Nelson), 20-something daughter Petra (Katya Stepanov), and two school-age sons Morten (Noah Bailey) and Ejlif (Joey Labrasca). They are well liked in the community and in the first scene the family is entertaining Aslaksen (Jack Wetherall), the publisher of the local paper, its young editor Hovstad (Scott Drummond) and his assistant, Billing (Christopher Hirsh), along with an elderly neighbor, Captain Horster (Don Paul Shannon), at dinner when the water analysis report arrives from the lab.

At first everyone hails Dr. Stockmann as a hero for catching this important information on time. But as the economic impact of this discovery becomes clear – the Mayor goes about making that impact starkly real to all concerned – the worm turns and by the opening of the second act Dr. Stockmann is not even allowed to speak at a public meeting he has called, held in the Captain’s home because no one in town will rent him a hall. Stockmann is officially declared An Enemy of the People, and the play concludes with he and his family sheltering behind their living room couch, as a mob roars outside their home and hurls rocks through their windows, determined to stick together and fight for the truth.

Larry: The tension that built during the opening of the second act where the point of the play all melds together, builds the excitement of the citizens into a frenzy, and you can feel it build all around you as the ensemble brings the action of the mob into the midst of the audience. It is a passionately breathtaking example of full-tilt theatrical magic at work. And it has to be the most memorable 15 minutes of theater I have seen this year. It’s an all-out assault on the truth by the classic powers-that-be which is at the heart of this great human story.

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Festival Fever: Pittsfield CityJazz Festival Heats Up

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
The Robert Woodard Heath Trio

The Robert Woodard Heath Trio

The tenth annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival kicked off last weekend at a variety of smaller Pittsfield venues, but things really heat up this week. In addition to the region’s top big band, this week’s line-up of fest performances also includes four of jazz’s top female vocal and instrumental performers; the annual “jazz crawl” with local musicians in restaurants and lounges throughout downtown; the screening of a documentary film; and a new entry in the Jazz Prodigy series.

One of the fest highlights is the Jazz Prodigy concert at 7pm tonight (Wednesday, October 15), featuring 17-year-old Battleboro pianist-organist-composer Franz W. Robert, who will perform with bassist Eli Heath and drummer Benny Woodard in the Robert Woodard Heath Trio at the Berkshire Music School.

Acclaimed jazz vocalist Stephanie Nakasian steps up to the microphone at Baba Louie’s Backroom on Friday, October 17. She’ll be accompanied by a trio led by pianist Hod O’Brien with bassist Jeff Link and drummer Jereme Vinette. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door.

The final concert of the fest features Schenectady’s own Empire Jazz Orchestra with three very special guest saxophonists – Claire Daly, Sharel Cassity and Ada Rovatti – in concert at the Colonial Theatre. Opening for EJO will be the Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble. Tickets are $20 & $35.

The festival winds down with the screening of the 2011 documentary film, “The Girls in the Band,” chronicling the difficulties that women musicians have faced before being welcome into the jazz field. The film will be screened at the Berkshire Museum at 2pm on Sunday, October 19. Admission is $10.

ADDITIONAL UPCOMING FESTIVALS:

Bridge Jazz Fest @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall & College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, Troy & Albany, 2/27&28/14

Noam Pikelny & Stuart Duncan and Their New Bluegrass Duo Project @ the Colonial on Thursday [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

by Larry Murray

When it comes to banjo and fiddle, bluegrass lovers love the old hands the best, but there are some youngsters that are preparing to step into the boots of the great legends. Foremost among them are Noam Pikelny and Stuart Duncan who have certainly proved themselves in front of audiences all across the country. Now they are on a national tour together, having put together an unusual evening that will hold any music lover spellbound.

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Obie Award-Winning Musical Ode to the Unemployed Coming to Mr. Finn’s Cabaret [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
(L to R) Vito Dieterle, Ian M. Riggs, Ethan Lipton, and Eben Levy in “No Place To Go.” (photo:  Heather Phelps-Lipton)

(L to R) Vito Dieterle, Ian M. Riggs, Ethan Lipton, and Eben Levy in “No Place To Go” (photo: Heather Phelps-Lipton)

Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield will offer Ethan Lipton’s No Place to Go, the Obie Award-winning musical ode to the unemployed, for three performances this weekend (October 10-12) at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center.

Composed and performed by Ethan Lipton & his OrchestraEben Levy (guitar), Ian M. Riggs (upright bass) and Vito Dieterle (sax) – No Place to Go received an Obie Award and was commissioned and originally produced by Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. Originally directed by Leigh Silverman, No Place to Go is produced in association with ArKtype/Thomas O. Kriegsmann.

The corporation where he’s worked for the past 10 years is moving to Mars, and Ethan Lipton doesn’t want to go. The work of a truly original American theater artist, No Place to Go is a deeply compassionate musical ode to America’s work force, steeped in musical traditions including jazz, blues, folk and country. Capturing the vagaries of everyday life with wry humor and universal appeal, No Place to Go is a love letter to friends, family and country.

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Jim Brochu Gives His Regards to Broadway in His One-Man Show @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
Jim Brochu and his cast of “character men.”

Jim Brochu and his cast of “character men.”

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: “Character Man” at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is a wonderfully funny and touching evening of unforgettable theatrical memories. Jim Brochu may not be the first actor to draw on the famous and near-famous he has rubbed shoulders with during a long and rich life to create an evening’s entertainment, but he is certainly one of the best. As he explains at the outset, playing a “character man” means you are an essential part of any play, even though people are not likely to remember your name.

Gail M. Burns: Jack Gilford, Bert Lahr, Lou Jacobi, Zero Mostel, Jack Albertson, Phil Silvers, Charles Nelson Reilly… Indeed, while I recognized many of the names Brochu mentioned – and their faces as they appeared on a screen upstage – I am hard pressed to place his mentor, David Burns (obviously no relation), even though his face was shown at various ages throughout the show. But Burns was Brochu’s dear friend and enabler – his entree into the fascinating and frustrating world of show business.

Larry: For an hour and a half he certainly keeps the Barrington Stage audience spellbound as he rattles off anecdotes and stories about his father, his co-stars, and his beginnings as an orange drink seller in lobbies at intermission. The period he focuses on most effectively is the one in which I was a stage door Johnny myself. But while I was outside with a program and a pen he was running to get corned beef sandwiches from a deli for Cyril Ritchard, Australian stage, screen and television actor, and director. Ritchard is probably best remembered today for his performance as Captain Hook in the Mary Martin musical production of Peter Pan.

Gail: I can just taste that orange drink, Larry. It was watery with strong overtones of cardboard, and it was wildly overpriced, but you HAD to buy one when you went to the theatre in New York. I suspect now that I, like Brochu, could no longer afford one, let alone a Broadway ticket, but the very mention of that beverage brings back memories to anyone who has ever darkened a Manhattan theatre.

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Jay & the Americans Celebrate the Music Inn and Made in the Berkshires, Oct. 12 [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, September 8th, 2014

A benefit for a benefit for Music Inn Archives

Music Inn Revival and Berkshire Theatre Group present Jay & the Americans at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Sunday, October 12 at 7:30pm as a part of Made in the Berkshires 2014 and a benefit for the Music Inn Archives. Over Columbus Day Weekend on October 10-12, the fourth annual Made in the Berkshires Festival features cutting-edge theatrical works performed as staged readings, live music, film, short stories and dance in a festival atmosphere. New and innovative pieces as well as established work will be presented by local Berkshire County playwrights, actors, directors, musicians and performers.

Tickets for Jay & the Americans are on sale now for $35-$65. Ticket buyers who purchase an All-Access MITB Festival Pass for $50 will receive a 15% discount for tickets to Jay & the Americans and admission to all of the events for MITB Festival. Contact the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield by calling 413-997-4444. Tickets can also be bought online at www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.

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THEATER: Mark St. Germain’s Luminous “Dancing Lessons” Sparkles @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, August 15th, 2014
John Carioni(l) and Paige Davis (r) in Dancing Lessons (photo: Kevin Sprague)

John Carioni(l) and Paige Davis (r) in “Dancing Lessons” (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Mark St. Germain’s newest play Dancing Lessons at Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company could easily be categorized as a play that teaches us something new, and when it comes to Asperger Syndrome, it is certainly both instructive and inspirational on that subject. But that is a by-product of what has to be St. Germain’s best work to date. It is really a romantic comedy at heart, and it takes us to the verge of tears even as we are laughing delightedly at a young couple trying to figure out how to deal with each other.

Gail M. Burns: There are more and more people with diagnoses on the Autism Spectrum, and what they teach us is that there is no such thing as “normal.” Everyone’s brain and body function and experience the world differently and society makes an enormous error when it tries to force humankind into any mold. Every couple faces challenges as their relationship develops because there is no other place where we are as intimately and openly ourselves.

Larry: There are only two characters in this one act play, Paige Davis (as Senga Quinn, a successful Broadway dancer) and John Cariani (Dr. Ever Montgomery – a professor of geosciences who is about to be honored for his achievements). Both were at the top of their game, but are under new stress as they tentatively come together and blow apart as the story unfolds. Because of his Asperger’s, Ever is aware that he sees the world differently than most. Yet he needs help in fitting into the normal world. He uses the term “neuro-typicals” to describe people who are not like him. He refers to himself as an “Aspy,” an abbreviated description he likes to use. What I find interesting is that Senga – who is a dancer and actually sidelined with an injury – is also searching for answers.

Gail: Both characters are facing a crisis of self. Ever is very intelligent and “high-functioning.” He has had great success in his chosen field, but is terrified of relating on a personal and physical level. Senga (her name was supposed to be Agnes but her aunt wrote it backwards on her birth certificate) has achieved success as a dancer – studying and performing with some of the top choreographers and their companies, and appearing on and off-Broadway – but she was hit by a taxi and her left leg is shattered, with seriously torn muscles and ligaments in her knee. Her only hope for any kind of recovery is surgery, which a rare allergy to anesthesia prevents, and even then she will never be able to perform at the level she did before.

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