Posts Tagged ‘Pittsfield’

REVIEW: Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers” @ Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 24th, 2015
(l to r) Matt Gumley, Jake Giordano, Stephanie Cozart, David Christopher Wells and Paula Jon DeRose (photo: Kevin Sprague)

(l to r) Matt Gumley, Jake Giordano, Stephanie Cozart, David Christopher Wells and Paula Jon DeRose (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Larry Murray

At the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, the fresh new production of Lost in Yonkers is a contender for the summer’s best comedy. It’s a really funny show, especially the first act when we get to meet the characters. It is also in the race for the year’s best drama, as the second act unfolds with more gravitas than guffaws. It’s likely to be a hot ticket, too, since it is hitting the sweet spot with its audiences, as they find its human dimensions absolutely riveting.

Granted, it’s been a long time since just having Neil Simon’s name on the marquee was a gold-plated guarantee of a hot ticket. Lost in Yonkers came well after Simon’s laugh-a-minute comedies The Odd Couple and Fools, and also much later than his autobiographical plays Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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REVIEW: “Bells Are Ringing” @ the Colonial Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 16th, 2015
James Ludwig (center) in Bells Are Ringing at Berkshire Theatre Group. (photo: Reid Thompson)

James Ludwig (center) in “Bells Are Ringing” at the Colonial Theatre (photo: Reid Thompson)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Roseann Cane: Currently on stage at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Bells Are Ringing originally opened on Broadway in 1956 – the same year that Candide, The Most Happy Fella and My Fair Lady premiered (Oh, to have a time machine!) – and ran for 924 performances. With a book and lyrics by Comden and Green, music by Jule Styne and choreography by Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, what a pedigree it boasts. Its star, the magnificent Judy Holliday, won a Tony for her performance, as did her co-star Sydney Chaplin.

Gail M. Burns: This is certainly a musical of its era, right down to the setting at a telephone answering service. For the young and unenlightened, back in prehistoric times when phones had rotary dials and plugged into the wall, if you weren’t home when a call came in, you missed it. Or if you were on the phone and another call came in, the caller got a busy signal. There was no way to leave a message. This was a problem, especially for the rich and famous, so the answering service was invented. Your number rang at a central switchboard where an actual human (invariably a woman) answered it and wrote down (with a pen on a piece of paper) your message. Then you called in, were read your messages, and you could return the calls, or receive important pieces of news, like “you got the job!” or “your uncle died.”

Judy Holliday’s first job was as an assistant switchboard operator at Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre in the 1930’s, and in 1956 a woman named Mary Printz opened Belles Celebrity Answering Service in New York. (Astoundingly, in this electronic age, the agency is still in business!) Comden and Green were clients of Printz’s and long-time friends and theater colleagues of Holliday’s, who by this point had won an Oscar to go with her Tony. They created Bells Are Ringing and the leading role of Ella Peterson for her.

Roseann: Which explains why this charming and paper-thin story, about a switchboard operator for an answering-service who falls in love with a client she has never seen, is more of a star vehicle and musical showcase than the more complexly plotted aforementioned shows, but so what?

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER: “Shining City” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 25th, 2015
L to R: Mark H. Dold as Ian and Wilbur Edwin Henry as John (photo: David Fertik)

L to R: Mark H. Dold as Ian and Wilbur Edwin Henry as John (photo: David Fertik)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Synopsis: A Dubliner seeks help from a counselor after claiming to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. As their sessions unfold, secrets are exposed as a simple tale turns out to be anything but. Burns and Murray had decidedly different views on this Tony nominated play, with her thumb up, and his thumb down

Larry Murray: Shining City by Irish playwright Conor McPherson was nominated for two Tony Awards, including Best Play when it opened on Broadway in 2006. We saw it performed on Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield with a superlative cast including a brilliant Wilbur Edwin Henry as John, a mess of a man filled with insecurities, guilt, confusion and regret. The production gets high marks, but the play itself – for all its rhapsodic reviews across the country – failed to excite this observer. You know that saying about how bored the shrink must be listening to everyone prattle on about their FDI’s (Fears, Doubts, Insecurities)? Well, this play proves there is a lot of truth to that jest.

Gail M. Burns: I think you’re missing the point here, Larry. Shining City isn’t about what is being said much as it is about what is being heard and felt, and not by the audience, but by the central character of Ian (Mark H. Dold), a former Roman Catholic priest starting his new career as a therapist and his new life as a sexual being – with all that that entails, including fatherhood – in modern day Dublin. A therapist’s job is to listen, but Ian not only listens to John, he absorbs him and subsequently reenacts his sad, repressed life as his own.

Larry: Trying to be rational about my dislike of this play, it comes down to the playwright whose dialogue, while perhaps reflecting how people actually talk, was full of tentativeness and uncertainty, with eruptions of monologues laced with periodic f-bombs. These were delivered with marvelous Irish accents, and a credit to dialogue coach Wendy Waterman. Lots of pseudo meaningful conversation filled with endless “ers” and “ums,” with frequent “you knows” to dazzle the audience with its authenticity, and perhaps for the playwright to prove he could write like Harold Pinter. All that embellishment got in the way of the story for me.

Of course, Dold is an ex-priest who couldn’t find God, may have homosexual tendencies and is now continuing in a job that continues to require him to repress his own ideas and feelings. Interesting stuff. But we mostly hear him recite clinical dialogue like “I understand,” and “That’s ok” from him as he encourages his patient to share more information while trying to keep him calm. John claims he has seen the ghost of his wife, who was recently killed in a car accident, and talks about their unsatisfying relationship.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Mark H. Dold Returns to Barrington Stage in “Shining City” [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 18th, 2015
Wilbur Edwin Henry (John) and Mark H. Dold (Ian) star in Conor McPherson’s “Shining City” at Barrington Stage’s St. Germain Stage from June 18 through July 11, 2015 (photo: David Fertik)

Wilbur Edwin Henry (John) and Mark H. Dold (Ian) star in Conor McPherson’s “Shining City” at Barrington Stage’s St. Germain Stage from June 18 through July 11, 2015 (photo: David Fertik)

Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company is presenting Conor McPherson’s Shining City from June 18-July 11 with a press opening at 3pm on Sunday (June 21).

Directed by BSC Associate Artist Christopher Innvar (BSC’s The Other Place, The Whipping Man), the production stars Mark H. Dold (BSC’s Breaking the Code) as Ian and in their BSC debuts Wilbur Edwin Henry (Off Bway: Our Town; Bway: Is He Dead?) as John, Patrick Ball as Laurence and Deanna Gibson as Neasa.

Set in present-day Dublin, a man seeks help from a counselor, claiming to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. However, what begins as just an unusual encounter becomes a struggle between the living and dead – a struggle that will shape and define both men for the rest of their lives. In this contemporary ghost story, Conor McPherson explores what it means to lose faith – in God, in relationships and in one’s self.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“Man of La Mancha” Gets a Julianne Boyd Makeover [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

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Man of La Mancha is a musical that is as famous as the Cervantes masterpiece it is based on, and as much loved. This week the glorious musical will get a fresh look from director Julianne Boyd as Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield continues its season on the same stage that has given birth to the company’s long list of hit musicals over the past decade. They include Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate and On the Town which is still drawing them in on Broadway.

Inspired by Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th-century masterpiece “Don Quixote,” Man of La Mancha tells a story rich in chivalry, romance, idealism, tilting at windmills and dreaming “The Impossible Dream.” Facing a mock trial by his fellow prisoners as he awaits his actual trial before the Spanish Inquisition, Cervantes stages as his defense the adventures of the knight-errant Don Quixote and his loyal sidekick, Sancho Panza.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

REVIEW: “Butler” @ Barrington Stage Opens Season with Laughs, History, Great Acting [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, May 29th, 2015
Maurice Jones (l) and David Schramm (r) in Butler.

Maurice Jones (l) and David Schramm (r) in “Butler” (photo by Kevin Sprague)

Theater Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: When Julianne Boyd announced the opening play of Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company season would be about the Civil War and the long forgotten Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893), and that it was a Civil War comedy, it seemed an odd choice. And having just seen Butler, it seems an unlikely blend of biography, political drama and comedy that takes us back a century and a half, and delivers quite a theatrical wallop. But I am not sure how to classify this play, do you, Gail?

Gail M. Burns: Playwright Richard Strand tells the story in a broad sit-com style, and director Joseph Discher has wisely chosen a talented and recognizable American sit-com star David Schramm to play the lead. Schramm is so much more than Roy Biggins, the odious greasy owner of a tiny airline who he played on Wings (1990-1997); he is a Juilliard graduate and has been acting non-stop since he was a teenager. But when we see him, we are primed for laughs, which he and the rest of the cast deliver in spades.

Larry: Strand could not have had an easy time imagining the conversation between the newly minted General Butler – he has been in the military just four weeks on May 23, 1861, the day the play takes place – his adjutant Lieutenant Kelly (Ben Cole) and the runaway slave Shepard Mallory (Maurice Jones). The plot revolves around the question of what you do with a slave seeking sanctuary when the law says you are required to return him to his owner. But as the play unfolds we learn it’s all so much more complicated than this since this is no ordinary slave. The supposedly illiterate and uneducated Shepard Mallory is anything but. Butler is at its most intense in the encounters between the General and the aggressive slave who will not take “no” for an answer. Their verbal volleys lead the lawyerly officer to conjure up a rationale for the Union to accept and conscript slaves as contraband from the war, and in so doing, it deprived the South of thousands of slaves whom they had been using in their own conduct of the war. As the war progressed, the South found their former slaves now part of the Army determined to beat them down. Sometimes at this historic distance from the conflict, we forget how breathtaking those years were. So much gets lost in the mists of time.

Gail: Mallory is the character who Strand undoubtedly had to invent from whole-cloth since he and the two slaves who arrived at Fort Monroe with him, were property, not people. I cannot find a record of their names. So Strand had free rein to make this man who he needed him to be for the purposes of the play.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

FEST: Berkshire International Film Festival to Screen 80 New Indie Films This Week [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia’s “H.” has already been been earning buzz before a frame has been screened. Middle-aged Helen lives with husband Roy and finds comfort from a “reborn” baby doll. Meanwhile, successful young artist Helen is expecting a child with her noncommittal partner. Foreboding signs begin to appear: a meteor reportedly crashes nearby; people go missing, and inexplicable, life-altering changes spiral the Helens’ inert realities into a terrifying journey through unknown terrain.

Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia’s “H.” has already been been earning buzz before a frame has been screened. Middle-aged Helen lives with husband Roy and finds comfort from a “reborn” baby doll. Meanwhile, successful young artist Helen is expecting a child with her noncommittal partner. Foreboding signs begin to appear: a meteor reportedly crashes nearby; people go missing, and inexplicable, life-altering changes spiral the Helens’ inert realities into a terrifying journey through unknown terrain.

The four-day festival features 31 documentaries, 27 narrative features and 20 short films

The 10th annual Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) has announced its weekend line-up of films that is marked with stronger international programming and continues its dedication to programming the best in documentary film and highlight films from our region. BIFF will showcase nearly 80 new independent feature, documentary, short and family films from a record 23 countries.

The festival, which takes place from Thursday-Sunday (May 28–31) in Great Barrington and Friday-Sunday (May 29–31) in Pittsfield, will bring films, filmmakers, industry professionals and fans together for a four-day festival celebrating independent film featuring 31 documentaries, 27 narrative features and 20 short films. Some of the countries represented this year are Egypt, Afghanistan, New Zealand, India, Brazil, South Korea, UK, Germany, Mexico, Ukraine, Norway, Sudan, Israel, France and Krygyzstan.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

First Look at Artists Slated for Mr. Finn’s Cabaret [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, May 8th, 2015
Mr. Finn’s Cabaret is hidden away under the St. Germain Stage on Linden Street in Pittsfield, but is the classiest nightspot in the Berkshires. (photo: Stephen Sorokoff)

Mr. Finn’s Cabaret is hidden away under the St. Germain Stage on Linden Street in Pittsfield, but it’s the classiest nightspot in the Berkshires. (photo: Stephen Sorokoff)

Barrington Stage Company, the award-winning theater in downtown Pittsfield, under the leadership of artistic director Julianne Boyd and managing director Tristan Wilson, is proud to announce the 2015 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 the artistic producer of BSC’s Musical Theatre Lab, Mr. Finn’s Cabaret celebrates its third season with an eclectic mix of performers from May through October as part of Barrington Stage Company’s 2015 season.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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