Posts Tagged ‘Pittsfield’

Like a Bad Penny, Peter Schickele Brings PDQ Bach Back to the Colonial Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Peter Schickele

NOTE: Larry Murray reminisced with Professor Peter Schickele about the imaginary P.D.Q. Bach which you can read here. There is also a rare photo of the tromboon, part trombone, part bassoon which Bach invented.

Musical humorist Peter Schickele will perform 50 Years of P.D.Q. Bach: A Triumph of Incompetence at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Saturday (July 26) at 8pm. It’s been 50 years since Professor Peter Schickele released P.D.Q. Bach on an unsuspecting musical public. And it’s been 80 years since the professor’s mother released the professor on an society ill-prepared for such singular genius. And now, because everyone loves a birthday, Professor Schickele has reached back across the decades to explore the damp vaults and dusty attics of Leipzig to once again celebrate the twenty-first child (out of twenty) of the great J.S. Bach. This special, once in a half-century, musical extravaganza will feature the crème de la crème of history’s most justifiably neglected composer.

Peter Schickele will perform twelve “quite heavenly songs” including: musical upsettings of the signs of the zodiac (for chamber ensemble), excerpts from The Notebook for Betty-Sue Bach (for solo piano), and songs from Shakespeare: The Bard’s most famous speeches set to 1950′s rock ‘n’ roll (for piano & chamber ensemble).

One thing that Peter Schickele and P.D.Q. Bach have in common is their love of writing party music. Mr. Schickele has composed rounds, songs and piano miniatures which have served as presents, congratulatory messages, homages, bread and butter notes (notes, get it?) and simply as something new to bring to sight-reading parties. He has been writing such pieces since he began composing during his early teenage years, and he continues to do so with undiminished enthusiasm; sometimes the results turn out to be among his best works.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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Mark H. Dold Is Both Hero and Outcast in Play About Alan Turing, “Breaking the Code” [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Mark H. Dold

Mark H. Dold plays Alan Turing, founder of computer science, mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker, strange visionary and a gay man before his time who was horribly persecuted for his sexual orientation despite helping end a terrible war.

As the summer’s theatre season moves forward, Barrington Stage Company plans to take a look back in time to World War II and the days when simply being gay made you a worthless human being, no matter your contributions to society, or helping to win a war against fascism.

It’s just one more tough subject that is taken on by the award-winning theatre in downtown Pittsfield under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson.

The play is Breaking the Code, Hugh Whitemore’s biographical drama of Alan Turing, starring BSC Associate Artist Mark H. Dold. Directed by Joe Calarco, performances run from today (Thursday, July 17) through Saturday, August 2.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

The Singers Shine in “A Little Night Music” from Berkshire Theatre Group [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 11th, 2014
Kate Baldwin and Graham  Rowat (photo: Reid Thompson)

Kate Baldwin and Graham Rowat (photo: Reid Thompson)

Theatre review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Gail M. Burns: Four couples meet, mate and miscommunicate in the woods as Midsummer Night smiles three times – “First, for the young who know nothing, second for the fools who know too little, and third for the old who know too much.” No, not Shakespeare, although the parallels are obvious, but Stephen Sondheim as the Berkshire Theatre Group presents his delightful 1973 musical A Little Night Music at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

Roseann Cane: The more Sondheim musicals I see (and see again), the more I’m astonished by the man’s genius. I cannot think of another composer and lyricist whose work displays such depth, breadth and variety, who achieves the nearly impossible feat of transmitting intellect, wit and emotion. This production is blessed by a cast gifted with sumptuous singing voices and some standout acting capable of rendering all three with ease and style

Gail: This is a score that I have loved and memorized and cherished in my heart for four decades, and, as with anything so personally meaningful, I find I have a hard time finding words to help others understand how beautiful this score is and how the incredibly clever and intricate lyrics are rendered easy enough to understand so that even someone who has never heard them before can follow along as they rapidly advance both plot and character.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Richard Chamberlain to Introduce New Musical “Sometimes Love” at BTG Benefit [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Richard Chamberlain

Special Benefit Event Featuring a Reading of Sometimes Love
composed and written by Martin Rabbett
written by Jocelyn Fujii
featuring Richard Chamberlain
at the Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
Friday, July 18 at 2pm
Tickets: $40 (ticket includes catered boxed supper and talk back with cast)

Berkshire Theatre Group presents a special benefit event featuring a reading of Martin Rabbett’s new musical Sometimes Love at the Colonial Theatre on Friday, July 18 at 2pm with participating artist, Richard Chamberlain.

In Sometimes Love, seven contemporary New Yorkers, most of them longtime friends, discover that life brings empowerment in surprising ways. They face the full spectrum of challenges: unemployment, infidelity, narcissistic lovers and alcoholic parents. But when the shame is confronted head-on and the smoke finally clears, their broken lives arrive at a fragile order, a simple and elegant truth. Love comes and goes, they discover, and the only way to make it stay is to adapt to its many mutations.

“I wrote the music for ‘Sometimes Love’ over a three-year period, during which I was going through a painful personal experience,” Martin Rabbett director, composer and writer said. “Through it all, I discovered that it was not just the writing of the music that helped me heal, but the friends who lived through that time with me. It was, for me, a redefining of family—the realization that in the end, we really can create our own family. That experience empowered me and ultimately saved my life.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“Working on a Special Day” Is Simply Beautiful at Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 26th, 2014
Working on a Special Day

(photo by Kevin Sprague)

Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Take away the claustrophobic sets and piles of clutter that mark the film that Working on a Special Day is based on, and lurking in its core is a remarkable story well suited for the stage. I’m trying to think of a word that sums up the essence of this very unusual 74 minute play that has both charm and substance.

Gail M. Burns: It is achingly simple, both in style and story. It gets at the very root of human need – for companionship, affection and physical intimacy.

Larry: Exactly, and The Play Company and Por Piedad Teatro have wrought a perfect distillation of the overwrought 1977 Italian film Una giornata particolare that was directed by Ettore Scola and starred Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. It captures the essence of two human beings whose lives are suffocating, although in completely different ways. From the first moments, with the house lights still on, it begins in a deceptively simple and creative way.

Gail: The actor/director/translators – Antonio Vega and Ana Graham – started the show in their street clothes, sharing the welcoming speech with BSC Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, and then chatting with the audience as they changed into their costumes and prepared the stage. This is a rare time when Barrington Stage Co. has “imported” a production on to their stage, in this case literally. Por Piedad Teatro is based in Mexico City and has as its mission: “…to promote the dialogue between two cultures – Mexican and American – so close to one another and yet so different, through cutting edge contemporary theater.” Previously the company’s only American performances have been in New York City, so it is exciting to have this production join the international offerings of the Berkshire Fringe in downtown Pittsfield this summer.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Dueling Appraisals of “Kiss Me, Kate” @ Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
Elizabeth Stanley and Paul Anthony Stewart and the cast of Kiss Me, Kate (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Elizabeth Stanley and Paul Anthony Stewart and the cast of Kiss Me, Kate (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Gail M. Burns: Kiss Me, Kate is not my favorite musical, but this production just blew me away. Everything about it was perfect. It was big and bold and colorful – non-stop action and comedy and dancing…I am out of superlatives. All I can say is Wowee-wow-wow! Whadda show!

Roseann Cane: Considered his most successful musical, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate opened on Broadway on December 30, 1948, and ran for more than a thousand performances, winning the first ever Tony Award for Best Musical. …Kate was produced rather late in Porter’s remarkable career – his first Broadway show, in 1916, was the far-less-well-received See America First.

Gail: I think I like Porter’s songs far better than the shows and films they were written for. By the time he wrote Kiss Me, Kate, most of which was penned right here in the Berkshires in the Porters’ home in Williamstown, he had already lived through a decade of constant pain following a riding accident that left him crippled. Delightful as it is, the song “Where Is the Life That Late I Led” takes on a rueful irony for Porter himself.

Roseann: Based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Kate is essentially art imitating life imitating art. A divorced couple reunites to go on the road with a musical version of Shakespeare’s play, and their backstage relationship parallels the action onstage. Actress Lilli Vanessi (Elizabeth Stanley) has become a movie star since her separation from Fred Graham (Paul Anthony Stewart), the swaggering, egocentric director and producer of the play. Lilli, although preparing to remarry, is still in love with Fred, and hides her feelings until she receives a bouquet of flowers Fred had intended for someone else.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire On Stage.

Bittersweet “Working on a Special Day” Unfolds at Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Antonio Vega and Ana Graham direct and star in “Working On A Special Day” at Barrington Stage June 18-July 6. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Antonio Vega and Ana Graham direct and star in “Working On A Special Day” at Barrington Stage June 18-July 6. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Working on A Special Day has received recognition internationally and arrives at Barrington Stage Company in a production by the Play Company and Mexico City-based Por Piedad Teatro. According to Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson, it will run from Wednesday (June 18) through July 6 at Barrington Stage’s St. Germain Stage. Press Opening is Sunday, June 22 at 3pm.

Directed by and featuring Ana Graham and Antonio Vega, Working on A Special Day is a new play about a life-changing encounter between an over-worked housewife and a mysterious bachelor on May 8, 1938 – the day Rome celebrates Hitler’s visit to Mussolini’s Italy. A bittersweet drama unfolds within the charged political landscape of rising fascism in Rome.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Experience the Amazing World of Butterflies All Summer at Berkshire Museum [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, May 29th, 2014
The Black Swallowtale butterfly (photo: Howard Hoople)

The Black Swallowtale butterfly (photo: Howard Hoople)

Butterflies don’t have to make any noise to attract our attention.

Silent, etherial and delicate, butterflies are the stars of the summer stage, able to captivate us without saying a word, and hold our attention for as long as they are in our midst. Many an actor wishes they had the ability to conjure up the same magic. Of course we too are sometimes like them, as Carl Sagan reminded us, “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”

These self-propelled flowers only live a mere week or two, and as George Carlin famously said, “The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”

They are also the inspiration for artists, many of whom have contributed their works to this summer long show at the Berkshire Museum.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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