Posts Tagged ‘Williamstown Theatre Festival’

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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THEATER: “The Visit” with Chita Rivera Gets an Epic Production at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 4th, 2014
The cast on the set of The Visit. (photo by T. Charles Erickson)

The cast on the set of The Visit. (photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: From the moment you take your seat at the ’62 Center where the Williamstown Theatre Festival performs, you know you are in for a special evening. Soaring into the flies on stage is Scott Pask’s single set that will contain the evening’s performance of The Visit. This tuneful John Kander and Fred Ebb musical has been trying to get to Broadway since 2001. With a book by Terrence McNally and Chita Rivera in the lead role as Claire Zachanassian, it could be well on its way. The WTF production is directed by John Doyle, who knows how to showcase the darker side of human nature, the rich manipulating the poor and it couldn’t be more timely.

Gail M. Burns: This is billed as Kander and Ebb but since Fred Ebb’s death in 2004, Kander and McNally have formed the creative team. Doyle made many changes for this version – cutting the show from two and a half hours and two acts down to a 95-minute one-act form – so the lyrics have obviously been changed since Ebb wrote them.

Larry: The 2001 production was put together at Chicago’s Goodman but 9/11 killed its prospects when New York producers were unable to fly in to see it. The Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA staged a workshop production in 2008, and now in 2014 it looks like the Williamstown team has put together the definitive version. Earlier productions were a bit top heavy having incorporated far too many characters and details from Friedrich Dürrenmat’s 1956 satirical play about greed and revenge, Der Besuch der alten Dame.

The tightening up of the show has worked well, and only a few songs have been lost – the Chorale that opened Act 2, Claire’s “Confession” song, and the reprise of “Winter” by a Young Adam. Other songs have likely been shortened a bit to keep things moving swiftly. They were not missed, since the story is still delightfully rich, full of detail. With a large cast and luscious ten-piece orchestra under David Loud, this Williamstown production fully conveys a dark parable about what desperate people will do when faced with a financial payoff.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

John Doyle, Chita Rivera, Roger Rees All Excited by the Kander-Ebb Musical “The Visit” at WTF [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Chita Rivera stars in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of The Visit. (photo: Laurie Duncan)

Chita Rivera stars in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of The Visit. (photo: Laurie Duncan)

Preview of “The Visit” by Larry Murray

There’s a lot going for the Kander and Ebb musical The Visit, which runs on the Main Stage of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown from Thursday (July 31) through August 17, 2014. First and foremost is its lead actor, Chita Rivera. And then there is the return of John Doyle as director and Roger Rees, a WTF favorite.

I had a chance to chat with all three briefly before one of their rehearsals. I asked Doyle, who is known for having actors play instruments during a performance (Remember Donna McKechnie in Ten Cents a Dance at WTF?) if that was to be for this new project, and he laughed, “No, not this time. It’s really a rather dark musical, very European, and not at all what you might expect from a Kander and Ebb score.”

Rivera for her part was delighted to have a chance to put together a large scale musical once again, thinking out loud that “It’s very exciting, very unique, dark [and] passionate. It’s one of the last scores Freddie and John wrote. I am enjoying the challenge and who knows where it might go.” With luck, it could have a life on Broadway after Williamstown.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER: Brilliant Production of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 28th, 2014
Sam Rockwell, Nina Arianda (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Sam Rockwell, Nina Arianda (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: Playwright Sam Shepard says that his own experience of being in love inspired the aptly titled Fool for Love, now on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown through Saturday (August 2). He wrote: “[Falling in love is] such a dumbfounding experience. In one way, you wouldn’t trade it for the world. In another way, it’s absolute hell.” In the play, May and Eddie (Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell) are both trapped, dumbfounded, in their own mutual hell of love.

Larry Murray: Their relationship hit the rocks ages ago, yet something still binds them together. This passion is at the core of Shepard’s raw and emotion-drenched drama. Like watching a catastrophic storm destroy the foundations of our lives, we watch the two lovers cling to each other like life rafts even as they try to flee from the tumultuous waters of their own unpredictable relationship.

Gail: And we discover the brutal roots of their affair over the brisk, intermission-less 75 minutes of this production. Eddie and May are more than lovers, they are half-siblings whose mutual father kept two wives and families secret from each other until after his unwitting offspring had fallen in love in high school.

Larry: Fool for Love was written three decades ago, yet like so much of Shepard’s work, it still holds us in its thrall as the pair confront their passion for each other and the inevitable pain that May will feel when Eddie’s wanderlust kicks in again. The script is at times subtle with much to read between the lines, a masterpiece of understatement and allusion. But as with Sam Shepard plays, the words escalate into explosive action, the actors tearing at each other like mortal enemies. Everything happens in May’s seedy motel room while Eddie practices his lasso tricks, swigs beer and cleans his shotgun. When Eddie isn’t looking, she packs her suitcase in order to make a quick getaway. As a story, how do you feel this 1983 play has held up?

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell Passionate About “Fool for Love” at Williamstown Theatre Fesival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell play two ex-lovers holed up in a run down desert motel.

Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell play two ex-lovers holed up in a run-down desert motel.

By Larry Murray

Today we got a peek at the pair of lovers at the core of Sam Shepard’s drama, Fool for Love, which begins performances on the Nikos Stage of the Williamstown Theatre Festival on Wednesday (July 23) and continues through August 2. Daniel Aukin directs this Sam Shepard myth of the new Wild West. It stars Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur, Midnight in Paris) and Sam Rockwell (WTF’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Seven Psychopaths). The cast also includes Christopher Abbott (Girls, Martha Marcy May Marlene) and Gordon Joseph Weiss (Awakenings, Reversal of Fortune). The creative team includes Dane Laffrey (Scenic Design; Bad Jews), Anita Yavich (Costume Design; WTF’s As You Like It), Justin Townsend (Lighting Design; Here Lies Love), Ryan Rumery (Sound Design) and David Leong (Fight Director; WTF’s Corners). The Production Stage Manager is Kyle Gates.

Watching Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda interact during the press junket it was clear that the two performers were meshing together well as the two former lovers in the searing drama. In the Shepard play, the couple, May and Eddie, unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart in the process. Director Aukin sang praises of the two and finds them a good match for this tangled tale. During my brief one-on-one with them, they joked with and teased each other, and the director, and clearly were having fun working with each other.

The good cheer belies the difficult roles they play. For Eddie and May, beaten down by ill-fated love and a ruthless struggle for identity, the question becomes one of whether they can ultimately live with, or without, each other.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Talking with Justin Long about “Living On Love” at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Justin Long (l) and Renee Fleming

Justin Long (l) and Renee Fleming

Interview and preview of “Living on Love” by Larry Murray

Sitting down with Justin Long, it cames as no surprise that he is passionate about theater, film and the stage. (He has been seen in WTF’s One Slight Hitch and Seminar). What is a revelation is his incredibly fast mind, combined with an earthiness and passion that reveals what is truly important to him. It’s not fame, parties or celebrity. Turns out he really loves the mountains, the fresh air and the Williamstown Theatre Festival which brings him to our doorstep. Sitting down to talk with Justin during rehearsals for the world premiere Main Stage production, Joe DiPietro’s Living on Love, we learned a lot about Long and were surprised by his honesty and candor.

He’s part of a great cast that is preparing Living With Love which runs from Wednesday (July 16)-July 26. It also includes Anna Chlumsky (In the Loop, “Veep”), Renée Fleming (Le Nozze di Figaro, La Traviata), Blake Hammond (First Date, Sister Act), Scott Robertson (Cabaret, Damn Yankees), and Douglas Sills (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Little Shop of Horrors).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

WTF: Lauren Ambrose and Chris Pine Are Out; Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell Now in “Fool for Love” [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 20th, 2014
Fool for Love now stars Sam Rockwell (l) and Nina Arianda (r).

“Fool for Love” now stars Sam Rockwell (l) and Nina Arianda (r).

Citing scheduling conflicts for the originally scheduled actors Chris Pine and Lauren Ambrose, the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) has announced that Tony Award-winner Nina Arianda and stage and screen star Sam Rockwell will join the cast of Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, playing the Nikos Stage from July 24–August 2, 2014. The two originally cast in-demand actors have departed the production due to scheduling conflicts.

“While we were greatly looking forward to welcoming Chris Pine back to Williamstown, Sam Rockwell and I have long included Fool for Love at the top of our wish list for a production on the Nikos Stage, and we are thrilled that Sam is available to return to Williamstown. He has a long history of recreating extraordinary roles by great American writers here. We are further blessed by the red-hot Nina Arianda, a formidable actor and great foil as May to Sam’s Eddie.” – Jenny Gersten, Artistic Director Emeritus

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Remembering Nicholas Martin and his time at the Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, May 5th, 2014
Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

Update 5-1-14 – The sad news arrived that former Williamstown Theatre Festival artistic director Nicholas Martin (75) passed away at the Beth Israel Hospital after a long illness. His theatre friends all over the country mourn his passing. It seems appropriate for me to post the last interview we did with him in which he reflects on theatre, Williamstown and the people in theatre he loved. You might also like to read Don Aucoin’s report in today’s Boston Globe. (LM).

As the curtain goes up tonight on Fifth of July, (August 11-22) Nicholas Martin wraps up his three year stint as artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival with some pretty impressive achievements. We talked about a few of them during a recent conversation, but first some background.

Martin is much beloved by his company of actors and designers, and part of that is his loyalty to them. In 2008 when he took over as artistic director, Campbell Scott appeared in The Atheist, and was featured again in the recent 2010 Our Town which Martin also directed. In fact, Martin directed 14 WTF shows before taking the reins in June 2008. His history with Campbell Scott goes back to one of his earliest WTF directorial efforts, Dead End in 1998.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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