Posts Tagged ‘Roseann Cane’

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.

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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.

Burns and Cane Review : “The Love List” at the Lake George Dinner Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
(l to r) are Jarel Davidow, Rachel Cornish and Bill Saunders in The Love List at theLake George Dinner Theatre.

(l to r) are Jarel Davidow, Rachel Cornish and Bill Saunders in The Love List at theLake George Dinner Theatre.

by Gail Burns and Roseann Cane. For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings visit GailSez.org.

Roseann Cane: In the few years since last visiting Lake George, I’d forgotten just how breathtakingly beautiful the Adirondacks are. The Holiday Inn Resort, home of the Lake George Dinner Theatre, overlooks the lake and boasts a glorious view.

This was my first visit to this theater, and I rarely go to dinner theater. The attentive, professional waitstaff couldn’t have been more pleasant. I enjoyed my generous portion of hearty vegetarian lasagna.

Gail Burns: My salmon was delicious and generous too. With salad, coffee, and cheesecake for dessert, the meal is substantial and a good value.

Roseann: And here’s another nice touch: patrons have the option of purchasing tickets for the show only—a convenience for vacationers who may have a limited time to enjoy all the activities that Lake George has to offer.

Gail: We think of the Berkshires as a tourist destination, but it does not have the Touristy feel that Lake George has. Lake George Dinner Theatre can run a single show for three months because most of their audience are “transients.”

Roseann: The place was packed on the Tuesday afternoon we attended. I don’t think it’s possible to get a bad table, and I got a kick out of watching the reactions of other audience members in a way that’s not possible in a conventional theater.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Burns and Cane Review: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

by Gail Burns and Roseann Cane. For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings visit GailSez.org.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum @ The Theater Barn

Roseann Cane: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum first opened on Broadway in 1962 and has enjoyed many incarnations, including two revivals on Broadway (one in the ’70s and one in the ’90s), over the last half-century. I would have loved to see the Cantonese version produced in Hong Kong just a few years ago! It’s easy to understand its popularity. Smart, bawdy, upbeat…what’s not to love? And the show has a solid pedigree, thanks not only to its esteemed creators, but because it’s based upon the works of the Roman playwright Plautus, and celebrates his stock characters—the cunning slave, the dirty old man, the braggart warrior—as well as his joyful vulgarity.

Gail Burns: When I told a friend I would be seeing/reviewing ……Forum I was asked if I wasn’t heartily sick of it, and I answered no, for all the reasons you have outlined above. I have seen many productions, but three stand out in my mind as really special: the all-male version at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2010, starring Christopher Fitzgerald; the 2007 production starring Jim Charles at the Cohoes Music Hall; and the 2002 production at the Theater Barn starring Matthew Daly and Anthony Devine. So I was obviously very excited to see what the Barn would do with this show in 2012.

But I have to say that I was disappointed from the moment I entered the theatre. I remembered Abe Phelps wonderfully colorful set from 2002, and this time he produced nothing but grey monoliths.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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