Posts Tagged ‘Roseann Cane’

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.

Advertisement

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.

Theater: Problematic Production of “Private Lives” @ Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Private Lives at Shakespeare & Company (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Private Lives at Shakespeare & Company (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater Review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Roseann Cane: Currently at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox through the end of March, “Private Lives,” first presented in 1930, is probably revived more often than any play by Noël Coward. It has been subject of a myriad of literary analyses, many of which claim the play a reflection, or product of, Coward’s homosexual “world view.” Then, there are some who’ve declared Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” to be a play about homosexuality; various reports have Albee guffawing or expressing sheer exasperation in response. Of course, the works of these two masters are different as chalk and cheese, but I feel the need to emphasize the grave error we make when we assume sexual orientation trumps common humanity.

Gail M. Burns: During the 1920′s American women got the vote and ladies world-wide threw off their corsets and bobbed their hair in an unprecedented statement of physical freedom and autonomy. Here Coward makes Amanda (Dana Harrison) by far the more sexually aggressive character on the stage, and makes it clear that she neither regrets it nor finds her lifestyle unusual. Implicit in her “slatternly” ways is that she uses some form of birth control, because she is overtly unmaternal.

Roseann: Probably the frequent ‘Private Lives” revivals have more to do with the sophisticated silliness, the buoyant wit and wordplay, and the famous lines that are still amusing today, particularly those of Elyot (whom Coward originally played, and who is played by David Joseph in this production). “Don’t quibble, Sybil,” he responds to his new young wife early in the play. Later on, he declares, “Women should be struck regularly, like gongs.” And it IS funny, because we understand that Elyot is being superficial, and supercilious, too . There’s also the matter that he gets stricken as much as he strikes.

Gail: Today we are highly sensitive to the issue of domestic violence, but there are couples, like Elyot and Amanda, for whom physical altercations are part of the mating dance. The aggression is mutual. Amanda claims to be “covered in bruises” but there are no visible results from her rough and tumble session. At the end we see that Sibyl (Annie Considine) and Victor (Adam Huff) are similarly matched. The issue is controversial, but here we have to accept it as a part of the wide spectrum of human attraction.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

A Stunning “Stockholm” Gets its American Premiere at Stageworks/Hudson [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Emily Gardner Hall and Jason Babinsky in Stageworks/Hudson’s 2013 production of STOCKHOLM. Photo: Rob Shannon.

Emily Gardner Hall and Jason Babinsky in Stageworks/Hudson’s 2013 production of STOCKHOLM. Photo: Rob Shannon.

Theater review by Roseann Cane

In Hinduism, Kali is the Dark Mother, goddess of destruction, death and time. One of religion’s fiercest deities, she is frequently portrayed standing with one foot on top of her husband Shiva, who has thrown himself at her feet to stop a killing rampage.

“Stockholm,” in its American premiere at Stageworks/Hudson, explores one day in the life of Todd (Jason Babinsky) and Kali (Emily Gardiner Hall), a couple who appear to be blessed with deep love, earth-scorching passion and material success. As they prepare to celebrate Todd’s birthday and an upcoming trip to Sweden, they reveal the complexity of their relationship and the frightening grip of their connection. They are hostages to a cycle of eros and annihilation, at turns captors and victims, each craving escape and envelopment. More succinctly, Todd and Kali have Stockholm Syndrome.

Bryony Lavery’s stunning script is fittingly (and ironically) non-linear, weaving spoken word, choreography, sound, and visual effects in a way that transmits Todd and Kali’s imprisonment like a punch in the gut and wends its way into the observer’s psyche.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Burns & Cane Say “Much Ado About Nothing” Is as Close to Flawless as a Night at the Theater Can Be [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 19th, 2013
Much Ado Madness – Foreground: Christina Pumariega, Christopher Innvar and Gretchen Egolf. Background: David Bishins, David Ryan Smith and Gordon Stanley. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Much Ado Madness – Foreground: Christina Pumariega, Christopher Innvar and Gretchen Egolf. Background: David Bishins, David Ryan Smith and Gordon Stanley. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Theatre review and discussion by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Roseann Cane: Is there anything Julianne Boyd can’t do? Here in the already Shakespeare-rich Berkshires, the artistic director of the formidable Barrington Stage Company deemed it the right time to direct the company’s first attempt at a Shakespearean play, “Much Ado About Nothing.” She served it in Messina, Sicily, in the mid-1930s, dressed it as a screwball comedy of that era, spiced it with an original score by Andrew Gerle, and hot damn! It’s delicious.

Gail M. Burns: I saw the A.J. Antoon production of “Much Ado…” on Broadway as a teenager and promptly announced that this was my favorite Shakespearean comedy. In the intervening decades I have seen productions that made me question that selection, but Boyd’s interpretation gave me back the play I fell in love with. This “Much Ado..” is funny and timely and touchingly human.

Roseann: Even before we set eyes on the actors, Gerle’s lush music, initially played by a duo, then performed almost throughout by a quartet of fine musicians on mandolin, violin, guitar, clarinet and accordion, ushers us into Michael Anania’s sundrenched set of golds and oranges, yellows and blues. Sara Jean Tosetti’s vibrant Sicilian costumes are every bit as stunning.

Gail: The mark of good stage costumes is not only how they look but how they move. Tosetti’s set time, place, and rank while allowing the actors to engage in Boyd’s vigorous physical comedy, Cassie Abate’s exquisite choreography, and Ryan Winkles’ fight scenes.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Review: Tallulah Bankhead is “Looped” at Stageworks/Hudson [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 26th, 2013
Colleen Zenk in Stageworks/Hudson’s 2013 production of LOOPED. Photo: Rob Shannon.

Colleen Zenk in Stageworks/Hudson’s 2013 production of LOOPED. Photo: Rob Shannon.

Theater review by Roseann Cane

Tallulah Bankhead made her last film, “Die! Die! My Darling!,” in 1965. By then, the actress, more celebrated for her flamboyant personality and uncensored proclamations about her sexual appetite than for her artistry, suffered from the effects of decades of smoking (reportedly 150 cigarettes daily), drinking and reliance on cocaine, among other drugs. She died in 1968 at the age of 66.

Playwright Matthew Lombardo was inspired to write “Looped” by an event that occurred during the production of Bankhead’s final screen appearance. Because of a technical snafu, the actress was summoned to loop (re-record) one line of dialogue. The star showed up at the L.A. recording studio drunk and drug-addled, and unable – or unwilling – to retain the line. And so she held hostage the frustrated technicians as they descended into eight hours of Tallulah Land.

At Stageworks/Hudson, July 10-28, 2013, “Looped” opens as film editor Danny Miller (Michael Rhodes) seems ready to implode in frustration as he awaits the arrival of the hours-late Bankhead. Sound technician Steve (Steven Austin Young), a level up in the sound booth, takes everything in stride. He is on the clock, after all. Eventually Bankhead (Colleen Zenk) makes her grand entrance, a little wobbly in her black stilettos. She languorously unbuttons an elegant fur coat to reveal a spectacular royal purple dress.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Review: Karen Allen Directs a Brutal, Breathtaking “Extremities” at the Unicorn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Molly Camp, Miriam Silverman, James McMenamin and Kelly McCreary in Extremities. Photo by Abby LePage.

Molly Camp, Miriam Silverman, James McMenamin and Kelly McCreary in “Extremities.” Photo by Abby LePage.

Review by Roseann Cane

At the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, “Extremities” opens with a fresh-faced young woman, the unemployed Marjorie (Molly Camp), lounging about the country cabin she shares with two roommates. There is something restless about Marjorie, even as she attempts to relax in her peaceful home. She flips through magazines and smokes, unable to sit still for long. From her kitchen she brings a plant outside through her unlocked screen door. “God damn it!” she yells abruptly, massaging her calf. She dashes into the kitchen and returns outside with a can of insect spray. She scoops the dead–or-dying wasp with a trowel and brings it inside, delicately transferring it to the ashtray on her coffee table, and thrusts the burning end of her cigarette into the creature.

Before long, a smiling man walks through that screen door, courteously asking to see “Joe.” But the smiling man, Raul (James McMenamin), has another plan; he intends to rape Marjorie, and the cruel, violent attack is breathtakingly difficult to watch, and impossible not to.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER: Shakespeare & Company Offers Rarely Seen “Love’s Labour’s Lost” [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Michael F. Toomey (Costard), Alexandra Lincoln (Jaquanetta), Paula Langton (Holofernes), Josh Aaron McCabe (Sir Nathaniel), Ryan Winkles (Dull). Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Michael F. Toomey (Costard), Alexandra Lincoln (Jaquanetta), Paula Langton (Holofernes), Josh Aaron McCabe (Sir Nathaniel), Ryan Winkles (Dull). Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Roseann Cane: I had high hopes from the getgo when the charming and exuberant Tony Simotes bounced onto the stage to welcome us to the press opening of Love’s Labour’s Lost. As the play opened, his announcements continued over the radio – a 1940s-era radio whose purpose, I trust, was to transport the audience to what director Lisa Wolpe describes in her notes as “…the provocative backdrop of a post-war 1940s, a time of picking up the pieces while forging new ground in women’s rights and capabilities.”

Gail M. Burns: For a Shakespearean play, Love’s Labour’s Lost is just full of women, and Wolpe has added to their number by casting a woman, Paula Langton, as the schoolteacher Holofernes. She and her actresses also do a good job of giving the ladies distinct personalities, in spite of few spoken lines, (Did Alexandra Lincoln as Jaquenetta have more than five lines?), although they are undoubtedly drawing on clues in lines and scenes which Wolpe cut. She cut about a third of the text, and this production still runs two and a half hours. When Shakespeare & Company last mounted this play – outdoors to The Mount in 1999 – it ran three hours and I believe they made cuts then, too.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Cartoonist John CaldwellHolly & EvanCaffe LenaAdvertise on Nippertown!Artist Charles HaymesLeave Regular Radio BehindThe LindaBerkshire On StageAlbany PoetsHudson SoundsKeep Albany BoringCapital Repertory Theater