AC Battles DC in “Westinghouse and Edison: War of Currents” at Ventfort Hall [Berkshire on Stage]

March 28th, 2014, 1:30 pm by Sara
Inventors Thomas Edison (l) and George Westinghouse (r).

Inventors Thomas Edison (l) and George Westinghouse (r).

Veteran actor Douglas Weeks will reenact a fierce battle that took place at the beginning of the electrification of America. Back then individuals did the inventing, and sold the benefits, not the huge corporations that would follow in their footsteps.

There’s not only a great story of clashing personalities but deep history behind “Westinghouse and Edison: War of Currents” which is being performed at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox on Saturday (March 29) at 3:30pm. A Victorian tea will be offered after the performance.

Weeks will take on the role of George Westinghouse, 19th century inventor, industrialist and a pioneer in the early days of the electrical industry. Although Westinghouse invented a wide range of mechanical equipment including the railroad air brake, Weeks will focus on the titanic battle between Westinghouse and Thomas Edison in creating a system for distributing electrical power.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.


High Tea, Spirited Talk, Gorgeous Surroundings Surround “Downton Abbey” Event in the Berkshires [Berkshire on Stage]

January 21st, 2014, 1:00 pm by Sara
The Gilded Age lives on in Lenox.

The Gilded Age lives on in Lenox.

Last year Ventfort Hall hosted a sold-out audience for “Lords, Ladies & Mummies: The Story of Highclere Castle, the Real Downton Abbey.” This year the lively subject continues with “Living the Fast Life and the English Country House,” which just happens to coincide with the fourth season of the highly popular television series. Now reaching its conclusion, the tale has moved forward in time and reached the Jazz Age as the fictional Crawley family and their servants cope with huge changes sweeping through England.

Curt DiCamillo, architectural historian and a recognized authority on the British country house, will give the visual presentation. His insights will be followed by good conversation as the guests linger over an English High Tea, replete with a selection of 18 savories and desserts in what is arguably the most elegant setting in the Berkshires.

With limited seating, the special midwinter event takes place at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum on Saturday, January 25, at 3:30 pm. (If needed, a snow date has been scheduled for Sunday, January 26, at 3:30 pm.)

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Bill Dedman Unravels the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark at Ventfort Hall, Sept. 28 [Berkshire on Stage]

September 23rd, 2013, 1:00 pm by Sara

She lived to be 104 and left behind mansions she never lived in and a $300 million fortune relatives are now fighting over. It’s quite a story, one that fascinates anyone who hears about it. And this month at Ventfort Hall, you will have a chance to learn the story that’s behind behind the story of the rich and reclusive Huguette Clark, who lived the gilded life in a gilded cage of her own making.

That’s because investigative reporter Bill Dedman of NBC News, was able to sniff out the real facts when he went in search of, and discovered, the fascinating, almost unbelievable details.

So spicy is the tale that it that it will appear in hardcover this month, in a book he titles “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Burns and Cane Review Sarah Jeanette Taylor as “Clara” (Schumann) at Ventfort Hall [Berkshire on Stage]

July 13th, 2012, 1:30 pm by Sara
Ventfort Hall is a Lenox “Cottage” that has been preserved. Here it is seen in an older postcard.

Ventfort Hall is a Lenox “Cottage” that has been preserved. Here it is seen in an older postcard.

Review by Gail Burns and Roseann Cane

Clara is written and directed by Mary Guzzy and features Sarah Jeanette Taylor in the title role.

Gail Burns: Many people look forward to the summer show at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox because it always focuses on a woman of the Gilded Age, and usually one with some Berkshire ties.

I have been saying all summer that we need to hear the stories of strong, intelligent women now more than ever, so even though she has no link to the Berkshires I was really glad to hear that this summer’s show would be about celebrated 19th century pianist and composer, Clara Wieck Schumann.

Roseann Cane: Although Ventfort Hall wasn’t built until 1893 (for Sarah Morgan, sister of J.P.), it serves as a lovely home for Clara. The library provides an evocative setting for the story of the remarkable Clara Schumann (1819-1896), one of the most acclaimed pianists of the Romantic era. She was, in fact, famous long before she married then-unknown Robert Schumann.

Gail: Each Ventfort play has introduced me to the story of a woman I knew little to nothing about previously. At least I had heard of Clara Schumann, but I hadn’t known that she was a more famous musician than her husband.

Roseann: Clara, who publicly performed at the age of nine and made her formal debut at 11, played music from memory, something rarely seen at the time. She studied with her musician father Friedrich Wieck, a strict and cruel teacher who managed her tours through Germany, France, and Austria during a period when women who were not singers just did not perform in public. She was also a prolific composer; sadly, much of her work remained unknown until the later 20th Century. None of her (known) compositions date after 1853.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

LIVE: Anne Undeland Brings the Gilded Age to Life at Ventfort Hall in “Open Marriage” [Berkshire on Stage]

July 13th, 2011, 3:00 pm by Sara

Open Marriage @ Ventfort Hall

What memories an old photograph can conjure up. The men who built those little cottages in Lenox in their derby hats were tycoons and scoundrels by day, refined at night. Their model wives found ways to expand their own enjoyment of life while maintaining proper decorum. Of course the tea was served “just so” – one lump or two? – when necessary, but corsets and rules can barely tame the libido. For many trapped in that age, it would find a way of expressing itself despite the rigid constraints of HRH Queen Victoria. When one visits such great buildings from the Gilded Age as Ventfort Hall in Lenox, the eyes widen in appreciation of the opulence, the lavish attention to detail, but one begins to wonder what sort of lives were lived there.

The wonderful actress and storyteller Anne Undeland has some insights and has been sharing them over the past few years in her annual one-woman show. Each summer she and her collaborators focus on a historic individual to weave a story around and in the process bring the past back to life. This year Julianne Hiam has written the tale of Elsie Clews Parsons, born in 1874 New York, and who married a four time Republican representative to Congress. This was before the family values and religious right more or less took over the party. Still, Elsie made lots of waves.

click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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