Posts Tagged ‘The Theatre Barn’

THEATER REVIEW: “Forever Plaid” @ Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
Forever Plaid at Theater Barn.

“Forever Plaid” at the Theater Barn

Review by Gail M. Burns

I have lost track of how many productions of Forever Plaid I have now seen, but this time was special because I brought my 20-year-old nephew and he had never seen the show before. I had the pleasure of watching the Plaids work their magic once again, and as we exited the Theater Barn in New Lebanon, my nephew proclaimed that Forever Plaid was now his favorite musical of all time. The last show to earn that approbation was Cabaret, which actually IS one of the great masterpieces of 20th century musical theater. What is it about this little piece of fluff that has made it so hugely popular over the last quarter of a century? It holds the record as one of the longest running shows on the Vegas strip – and this is a show with no scantily clad women (in fact, there are no women at all!) What makes Forever Plaid work?

One word: writing. Stuart Ross didn’t just craft a great line-up of late 1950s/early 1960s guy-group harmony tunes; he created a story and four distinct, lovable characters. Over the course of a mere 90 minutes you genuinely come to care about Frankie, Sparky, Jinx and Smudge, even though you never learn their last names, or even their real first names except for Frankie/Francis. These four guys are the schleppy everymen we all knew or once were. Sort of the upbeat version of Seymour Krelborn, if he’d had pals instead of plants to hang out with.

For those of you who haven’t seen this show (where have you been for the past quarter century?) Forever Plaid is the story of a mid-20th century close harmony “guy group” who are dead. On February 9, 1964, en route to pick up their custom-made plaid tuxedos, they were driving in their cherry-red 1954 Mercury convertible and rehearsing their big finale when they were slammed broadside by a school bus filled with eager Catholic teens on their way to witness the Beatles make their U.S. television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The schoolgirls miraculously escaped injury. The members of Forever Plaid were killed instantly. Through the power of Harmony and the Expanding Holes in the Ozone Layer, in conjunction with the positions of the planets and all the other astro-technical stuff, they are allowed to come back to perform the show they never got to do in life.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

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THEATER Review: “God of Carnage” @ the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, September 14th, 2015
Upper: Brett Milanowski (l) and Aaron Holbritter (r) Lower: Erin Waterhouse (l) and Kathleen Carey (r)

Upper: Brett Milanowski (l) and Aaron Holbritter (r) Lower: Erin Waterhouse (l) and Kathleen Carey (r)

Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: At first, I was lulled into the thought that God of Carnage at New Lebanon’s Theater Barn was going to be a civil, if testy exploration of the issues surrounding a playground fight between two boys. The two sets of parents meet to calmly discuss the situation in this gem of a play by French playwright Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton. The words and tone change as the polite niceties soon give way to more primal behavior.

Gail M. Burns: In present day Brooklyn, Michael (Aaron Holbritter) and Veronica (Kathleen Carey) have invited Alan (Brett Milanowski) and Annette (Erin Waterhouse) over to discuss the fight between their 11-year-old sons. It seems that Alan and Annette’s Benjamin has whacked Michael and Veronica’s Henry with a stick, resulting in some superficial injuries and two broken teeth. The adults, who have not met until this encounter, are gathered awkwardly to discuss and “resolve” this crisis.

Larry: With direction by Phil Rice, this dark comedy comes as close to being the theatrical answer to an R-rated movie as I have ever seen on stage, as four grown-ups duke it out using every sort of humor you can imagine, from deadpan cracks to gross-out gags. There is something wickedly delightful in being able to watch other people’s decorum go south along with their marriages, and it is obvious that the actors have managed to cross the fierceness of Albee’s Virginia Wolf with TV’s laugh-out-loud characters in The Honeymooners.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

REVIEW: “A Murder is Announced” Is Classic Christie @ the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
John Trainor and Rie Lee.

John Trainor and Rie Lee.

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

The annual murder mystery – almost always an Agatha Christie – does so well for the Theater Barn in New Lenanon that they are running this year’s offering for three weekends instead of the usual two. A Murder Is Announced offers lots of familiar faces on stage and familiar names in the program at the cheerful, no-frills family-run theatre. John Trainor is once again wearing the trench coat as a Christie sleuth; Joan Coombs is dithering; Meg Dooley is playing the highly strung mistress of the house where the murders (yes, there are two) take place; Abe Phelps has designed a handsome set which is well lit by his son Allen Phelps; and a supporting cast of talented young actors struts their stuff.

A Murder is Announced is a 1977 stage adaption by Leslie Darbon of Dame Agatha Christie’s 1950 novel of the same title, which was her fiftieth published book. The novel was very well received and is considered classic Christie, so it is interesting that Dame Agatha didn’t dramatize it herself. If she had, I suspect we would have ended up with a smoother, funnier, less fraught work than director Aaron Holbritter has to work with here.

In a large country house called Little Paddocks in the small English village of Chipping Cleghorn, Miss Blacklock (Dooley) is minding her manners and presiding over her hodge-podge household of friends and relations with the questionable assistance of her lone servant Mitzi (Shannon Paul), a loquacious and excitable Russian. It is Friday, October 13, and uppermost on Miss Blacklock’s mind is the celebration of her dear friend Miss Bunner’s (Coombs) birthday. She’s been Miss Blacklock’s companion ever since the latter returned from a long stay abroad nursing her late sister through a losing battle with tuberculosis. But the day-to-day concerns take a back seat when a notice in the personals column of the local Gazette announces a murder will take place at Little Paddocks at 6:30 that evening.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

REVIEW: Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano” the Revue-sical @ the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I Love a Piano

Review by Gail M. Burns

Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano is a revue of songs by the inimitable composer, but at the Theater Barn in New Lebannon, the revue creators Ray Roderick and Michael Berkeley have crafted a pleasant evening with a singular flow and have avoided one of the major pitfalls of the revue-sical genre – too much exposition painfully forced into dialogue.

You really don’t need to know that Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was born Israel Isidore Baline in Russia, emigrated with his family to New York City in 1893, dropped out of school at age eight to become a newsboy and discovered that he could sell more papers if he added a little song to his sales pitch in order to enjoy this show. Chatty critics like me can tell you all of that, and there are plenty of good biographies of Berlin out there, too. You just need to know a good song, well sung, when you hear it.

And they are all good songs, well sung, by a young and talented sextet under the smooth direction of Trey Compton – Theater Barn vets Stephanos Bacon, Jerielle Morwitz, Shaun Rice and Kimberly Suskind, joined by newcomers Maclain Dassatti and Eileen Whitt – with a fine range of talents.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

LIVE: “The Drowsy Chaperone” @ The Theatre Barn, New Lebanon [GailSez]

Monday, August 29th, 2011
"The Drowsy Chaperone" @ The Theatre Barn

"The Drowsy Chaperone" @ The Theatre Barn

If you are a regular GailSez reader, then you will love The Drowsy Chaperone. Actually, if you are a regular GailSez reader you probably already know the entire score by heart and can correct me on several point of theatrical history. But you don’t have to an uber-theatre geek to get a kick out of this show, in fact what really thrills me is watching the audience all around me slowly glom on to what this show is all about and fall in love for themselves.

The Drowsy Chaperone is really about how art feeds our soul. In this case the art form is very specifically musical theatre, but the appeal is universal because you can apply the message to whatever does it for you – a good book, a great symphony, a stroll through a museum – without art in our lives we are somehow lesser beings.

This show is often billed as a musical inside a comedy, and the musical part was originally written by Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, and Don McKellarson as a stag party skit for Robert “Bob” Martin and Janet van de Graaff, The bride and groom are the stars (the characters still bear their names) and madcap mayhem threatens to disrupt their wedding day. It is a charming take off on early 20th century musical comedy (pre-Showboat), most specifically the Princess musicals, penned between 1915-1918 by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, and Jerome Kern for the Princess Theatre in Manhattan.

Click to read the rest of this story at GailSez.

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