Posts Tagged ‘Williamstown Theatre Festival’

THEATER REVIEW: “Paradise Blue” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 27th, 2015
(l) Blair Underwood and (r) De’Adre Aziza in Paradise Blue. Photograph T .Charles Erickson

(l) Blair Underwood and (r) De’Adre Aziza in Paradise Blue. Photograph T .Charles Erickson

Theater review by Larry Murray

In Dominique Morisseau’s “Detroit Cycle” of three plays, it is the women who come most vividly to life, and in Paradise Blue – currently onstage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival through Sunday (August 2) – that is doubly true as Kristolyn Lloyd brings a sad sweetness to her character Pumpkin, while the scintillating De’Adre Aziza burns up the stage with her heat as Silver, an opportunistic spider lady whose charms are impossible to spurn. Unless you are Blue (Blair Underwood), a trumpet player whose high notes could shatter glass, and low moods suffocate both his sanity and humanity. The second play in Morisseau’s series takes us to the Paradise Valley jazz club in 1949 where we also meet Corn (Keith Randolph Smith) and P-Sam (Andre Holland) as Blue secretly plots to sell his club and accept a gig in Chicago, where he will be a featured artist, not a back bench player.

According to the program notes, the first play in the cycle, Detroit ’67, was produced at the Public Theater in 2013, and looked at the explosive and unstable days of the 1967 riots/rebellion. Skeleton Crew, slated for a 2016 production at the Atlantic Theater Company, depicts four auto workers facing an uncertain future as the city edges toward the 2008 recession. In many ways it documents the difficulties of Motor City in the past and present, and offers a gloomy outlook on the future. Just as August Wilson’s plays give us a view into the inner life of Pittsburgh, so does Paradise Blue give us a taste of what life in Detroit might have been like for African Americans in the past.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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REVIEW: A Passionless “Kinship” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015
(l to r) Cynthia Nixon (She) and Chris Lowell (He). Photo by T. Charles Erickson

(l to r) Cynthia Nixon (She) and Chris Lowell (He). Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Theater Review by Roseann Cane

Phèdre, Racine’s 17th-Century masterpiece, was a retelling of a Greek tragedy already examined many centuries before by Greek and Roman writers. What made this retelling so striking is the focus on the title character, previously portrayed as a monstrously evil woman. Racine’s Phèdre is a psychologically complex character whose obsession drives her to commit terrible acts, but this time she is more human than monster, and though she causes great suffering she is also a victim trapped in her own obsessions.

Playwright Carey Perloff was inspired to write Kinship in 2009, when she was directing Phèdre at Ontario’s Stratford Festival. “I was really trying to understand the nature of obsession,” she has said. “I love obsession, but it’s really strange. It’s not rational: it feeds on itself, so you need more, and more, and more of that drug to keep you feeling alive, even though you know it’s destructive. When it turns out that Hippolytus [Phèdre’s stepson] is in love with someone else, Phèdre becomes a monster, and decides she’s going…to take them down.”

In Kinship – currently being presented at the Williamstown Festival Festival’s Nikos Stage – the story is told through three characters, She (Cynthia Nixon), Friend/His Mother (Penny Fuller) and He (Chris Lowell). She is a driven, powerful middle-aged woman living a life many would envy. A successful newspaper editor, she has a devoted husband and two children she clearly adores.

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REVIEW: Jessica Hecht and Justin Long Dazzle in Premiere of “Legacy” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
(L to R): Justin Long (Dr. Goodman), Jessica Hecht (Suzanne) and Eric Bogosian (Neil). (photo: T .Charles Erickson)

(L to R): Justin Long (Dr. Goodman), Jessica Hecht (Suzanne) and Eric Bogosian (Neil). (photo: T .Charles Erickson)

Reviewed by Roseann Cane

As I settled into my seat at the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Nikos Stage for the world premiere of Daniel Goldfarb’s Legacy, I was impressed enough with Dane Laffrey’s set to jot, “Smart, creamy, winter white with touches of gray and blue, cool blue lighting [by Justin Townsend]….” This apartment, neatly organized, almost pristine, had a Scandinavian air.

Not long into the first act, I decided that the set was utterly wrong for the play, and in some ways emblematic of what I found disappointing in the production. Too many components just don’t mesh, though there are many moments of brilliance. With apologies to Aristotle, I found the whole of the play lesser than the sum of its parts.

Neil (Eric Bogosian), a literary lion well into his sixties, and his younger-by-several-decades wife, Suzanne (Jessica Hecht), married for 17 years, are scholars ensconced in an apartment in (where else?) the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Neil suggests a hybrid of Philip Roth and Norman Mailer, with his bellowing talent and testosterone-tinged sense of entitlement, but though we hear the words, we don’t hear what’s beneath them. Bogosian, for whose body of work I have much admiration, is far too laid-back and monotonous to inhabit Neil, a man whose latest novel has just received a scathing review in The New York Times. The words he utters are those of an very successful artist in crisis, someone whose sense of self and his place in the world has been shattered. Bogosian’s declarations about failure and desperation seemed more kittenish than leonine. His performance is so understated that it’s one-dimensional.

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Two World Premieres Open the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2015 Season [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
(L to R): Estelle Parsons (Mrs. Bennet), Kyra Sedgwick (Faye Garrit) and Mary Wiseman (Julia Conroy) Photo: Paul Fox.

(L to R): Estelle Parsons (Mrs. Bennet), Kyra Sedgwick (Faye Garrit) and Mary Wiseman (Julia Conroy) Photo: Paul Fox.

Williamstown Theatre Festival hosts the opening night celebrations for its first two shows of the 2015 season at 8pm on Thursday (July 2): on the Main Stage, Off the Main Road, world premiere play by Pulitzer Prize-winner William Inge, and on the Nikos Stage, Legacy, a world premiere play by Daniel Goldfarb. A special opening night celebration will follow the performances.

On the Main Stage, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Krya Sedgwick makes her WTF debut in Inge’s Off the Main Road. As the second wave of feminism crests in America, the elegant but emotionally fragile Faye Garrit (Sedgwick) seeks refuge from her husband, a former professional baseball player, by checking into a run-down resort on the outskirts of St. Louis with her 17-year-old daughter. The future for mother and daughter may look hazy, but personal, political and sexual awakenings allow them to move forward with new and heartbreaking clarity. Directed by Evan Cabnet, this gripping and powerful drama deepens Inge’s legacy of penning rich, emotionally hard-hitting stories populated by complicated and truthful human characters.

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Williamstown Theatre Festival Adds Six Special Events to Busy 2015 Season Calendar [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

boswtf15

The Williamstown Theatre Festival has added a batch of new, exciting special events to their 2015 season line-up. In addition to the Main Stage and Nikos Stage productions, the 61st season will also include: Paradise Lew (Monday, July 13), an evening of stand-up with Williamstown veteran Lewis Black; straight from its hit Off-Broadway run, a one-night-only concert performance of Benjamin Scheuer’s The Lion (Sunday, July 19); the return of the stripped-down musical comedy duo the Skivvies (Sunday & Monday, July 26 & 27); The Darrell Hammond Project (Monday, August 10), with “Saturday Night Live” impersonation icon Darrell Hammond; for the first time ever at Williamstown, one of the most-celebrated musical improv shows in the world, Baby Wants Candy (Thursday-Saturday, August 20–22); as well as this summer’s Free Theatre production, Song for a Future Generation (July 15–18 & 21–24).

As previously announced, WTF’s Main Stage Season will include William Inge’s Off the Main Road directed by Evan Cabnet and featuring Kyra Sedgwick in her WTF debut (June 30–July 19); the world premiere of the 2012 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award-winner Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau; directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson (July 22–August 2), and six-time Tony® Award-winner Audra McDonald and Tony nominee Will Swenson in Nobel laureate Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece: A Moon for the Misbegotten, directed by Gordon Edelstein (August 5–August 23).

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Justin Long, Blair Underwood, Estelle Parsons, More Cast for Williamstown Theatre Fest [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Williamstown Theatre Festival

In Williamstown, the stars come out during the daytime as well as at night when the Williamstown Theatre Festival is in season.

Here’s a guide of some of the luminaries to be on the lookout for thanks to WTF’s artistic director Mandy Greenfield, who has announced additional casting for Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Main Stage and Nikos Stage productions for the upcoming summer season, which kicks off on Tuesday, June 30 and runs through Sunday, August 23.

On the Main Stage:

Becky Ann Baker (returning for her 13th season at WTF), Aaron Costa Ganis (WTF’s Whaddabloodclot!!!), Howard W. Overshown (Julius Caesar), Academy Award-winner Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde) and Mary Wiseman (An Octoroon) join Kyra Sedgwick in Off the Main Road (June 30-July 19).

Tony Award-nominee De’Adre Aziza (Passing Strange), Andre Holland (Selma), Keith Randolph Smith (Fences) and Blair Underwood (“Sex and the City,” A Streetcar Named Desire) all join the cast of the world premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Paradise Blue (July 22-August 2).

Aaron Costa Ganis and Howard W. Overshown also join the cast of A Moon for the Misbegotten (August 5-August 23), with Audra McDonald and Will Swenson.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Williamstown Theatre Festival Announces Audra McDonald, Kyra Sedgwick, Will Swenson, 5 Play Premieres & a New Musical [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
Six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald and Tony Award-nominee Will Swenson will co-star in O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald and Tony Award-nominee Will Swenson will co-star in O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten.

By Larry Murray

Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield has announced the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2015 Season, the 61st season for the Tony Award-winning theater company and first under Ms. Greenfield’s leadership.

The season, which was announced on Monday from the City Winery stage at WTF’s Annual Gala, runs from June 30–August 23 with a Main Stage line-up that includes: a world premiere production of William Inge’s Off the Main Road (June 30–July 19), directed by Evan Cabnet and featuring Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Kyra Sedgwick in her WTF Debut; the world premiere of Paradise Blue (July 22–August 2) by 2012 L. Arnold Weissberger Award-winner Dominique Morisseau directed by Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson; and an invigorating new look at Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten (August 5–23), featuring six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald and Tony Award-nominee Will Swenson.

The Nikos Stage season kicks off on July 1 and includes the world premiere of Daniel Goldfarb’s Legacy (July 1–12), starring Jessica Hecht and Eric Bogosian; the American premiere of Carey Perloff’s Kinship (July 15–25), directed by Jo Bonney and starring Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winner Cynthia Nixon; the world premiere of Unknown Soldier (July 30–August 9) with music & lyrics by Michael Friedman, book & lyrics by Daniel Goldstein and directed by Trip Cullman; and the American premiere of two British plays, including Michaela Coel’s solo play Chewing Gum Dreams and Mike Bartlett’s An Intervention (August 12–23) directed by Lila Neugebauer.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

PigPen Theatre Co. Offers “The Old Man and the Old Moon” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
The company takes storytelling to new heights. Seen here: Ryan Melia, Curtis Gillen, Ben Ferguson, Matt Nuernberger, Dan Weschler.

The company takes storytelling to new heights. Seen here: Ryan Melia, Curtis Gillen, Ben Ferguson, Matt Nuernberger, Dan Weschler

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s final show of the 2014 season is The Old Man and the Old Moon, which runs on the Nikos Stage from Wednesday (August 6) through August 17.

Of course, the endlessly imaginative PigPen Theatre Co. comes to Williamstown with a reputation for luminously low-fi spectacle that elevates traditional storytelling to high art. Their fantastical, song-filled tale takes us to the end of the world, when an old man abandons his duty of filling the moon with liquid light to search for his missing wife. With a rollicking array of ever-changing characters, inventive theatrical effects and an infectious contemporary folk sound, these seven young actor-musicians transform the seemingly ordinary into sheer wonder.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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