WELCOME TO ONE MAN'S VIEWS ON THE BERKSHIRE REGIONAL THEATRE SCENE
BERKSHIRE BRIGHT FOCUS.com
Reviewing theatre in Berkshire County, Massachusetts
and theaters within driving distance in New York State (including New York City ),
Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts
Our seasons begin Oct 1 and end September 30
Theatre News in the Time of Pandemic
As our regional theaters have all shut down their operations (while some are still actively planning for the summer months) I wanted to alert you, keep you posted on plans, and encourage you to think about the year(s) ahead. So, I will be posting news as I get it and as I am able from theaters around the Berkshire region which includes eastern NYS, northern Connecticut, southern Vermont and Massachusetts as far east as Springfield. Anything I have seen - or might see - will still be posted in the regional columns below
GREAT BARRINGTON PUBLIC THEATER PREMIERES BEAR TALES: SIX FEET TOGETHER, A FULL-LENGTH, ONLINE VIDEO PROGRAM OF ELEVEN NEWLY CREATED SOLO PERFORMANCES, INCLUDING A BRAND NEW PLAY WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY DAVID MAMET.
Review Available NOW (scroll down to show lists)
Great Barrington Public Theater today announced the April 27 release of an online video program expressly created for theater lovers now taking the health advisory to stay safe at home. Bear Tales: Six Feet Together spotlights fresh work and stories from new and established voices. While primarily spotlighting the deep pool of talent residing in and around the Berkshires, it also includes a new one-woman play written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet, with the accomplished Rebecca Pidgeon taking the role of famed reporter, critic and bon vivant Dorothy Killgallen.
“With stay-at-home social distancing the temporary new normal, a core group of our artists stepped forward with the idea to write and self-record a series of brand new works expressly for these extraordinary days.” Artistic Director Jim Frangione explains. “While our summer season remains in flux, for the last several weeks, we’ve been curating and creating boundary-pushing solo performances for video play.” Deann Simmons Halper, Executive Director of the Public adds, “Despite the uncertain times, we want to continue to engage our audiences with new voices, daring work and compelling theater. Each performance is exceptional and shows the ability and power of individual expression.” Frangione continues, “Many of these solo pieces were originally scheduled to premiere onstage for our Bear Tales Solo Performance Festival in late May, but will now be seen even sooner online. When we explained the project to David Mamet, he immediately expressed interest, and wrote and directed his wonderful take on Dorothy Killgallen.”
The standalone, online program showcases performers, playwrights and storytellers, including Alexandra Angeloch, Michael Brady, Will LeBow, Elizabeth Nelson, Aimee Doherty, Cindy Parrish, Jessica Provenz, Andy Reynolds, Anne Undeland, and an especially captivating marionette theater piece by film and theater designer, art director, illustrator Carl Sprague.
The full list of Bear Tales: Six Feet Together titles will be announced when the production is released on April 27, on the company website.
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Williamstown Theatre Festival to produce its season in collaboration with AUDIBLE. 4/7/20
AFTER EXHAUSTIVE DELIBERATIONS AND AT THE ADVICE AND COUNSEL OF THE ORGANIZATION'S CHIEF ADVISORS, WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE 2020 SUMMER SEASON IN WILLIAMSTOWN AS PLANNED
Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director along with Kate Navin, Artistic Producer of Audible, announced today that the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival summer season will be produced on Audible, the world’s largest producer and provider of original spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks. The season Includes Dylan Baker, Kate Burton, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Chlumsky, Carla Gugino, Audra McDonald, Taylor Schilling, and more. This provides continued work for the artists involved in the Festival season, and produces a body of work that will be made available for global Audible listeners to enjoy and experience. It also marks the first time that a theatrical season of work will be produced on Audible.
“This virus might get to tell us what we cannot do but it does not get to dictate what we can do,” Greenfield said. “The voices of these artists will be heard. Through this alliance with Audible, we keep artists and the generative artistic process centered and steady through this unspeakably difficult moment when public gathering simply isn’t possible. Doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and scientists are on the frontlines saving humanity right now; theatre makers can only continue to create work that gives the life we arrive at, on the other side of this crisis, meaning, depth, humor and beauty.”
Williamstown Theatre Festival is unable to proceed with the theatre season in Williamstown. Williamstown Theatre Festival will be in touch with WTF Bundle buyers and donors about their options and how they can access the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival Season on Audible.
“Powerful and transcendent, Williamstown and its artists have consistently produced some of the most memorable theater of our time,” Navin said. “Deeply dedicated to our mission of bringing more theater to more people, Audible is thrilled to collaborate with Williamstown in making an extraordinary lineup available to millions of people worldwide. The artists and these poignant works deserve to be experienced and will undoubtedly entertain and inspire audiences everywhere.”
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FOR MORE ON AUDIBLE'S THEATRICAL OFFERINGS GO TO THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE:
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Hartford Stage Announces Their 2020/21 Season
+ More News
Artistic Director of Hartford Stage, Melia Bensussen announces:
As You Like It
By William Shakespeare • Directed by Melia Bensussen
Love and other contradictions. Shakespeare’s most beloved romantic comedy features his most delightful heroine, Rosalind, who is banished from the court of Duke Frederick and escapes to the enchanted Forest of Arden, a fantastical place where all are welcomed and embraced. Lost amidst the trees, she finds community and acceptance in this exuberant gender-bending theatrical journey.
By Martín Zimmerman • Directed by Melia Bensussen
The past is always present. Simona’s father is an enigma. Curious about his life in Latin America before moving to the US, she obsesses over his secrets and her thoughts and dreams become haunted by the mystery that is his past. A moving and poetic look at the bond of fathers and daughters, love and sacrifice. From Martín Zimmerman, a writer and producer of Netflix’s Ozark, and the showrunner and creator of the streaming service's crime thriller, Puerta 7.
ANGRY, RAUCOUS AND SHAMELESSLY GORGEOUS
By Pearl Cleage • Directed by Susan Booth
In association with Denver Center Theatre Company and Arena Stage
Rage before beauty. Anne and Betty are best friends who return to the United States to participate in an arts festival after twenty-five years of living abroad in creative exile. However, they find that the country is quite different than it was in the ’70s. Drawing on a life of art and activism, playwright Pearl Cleage explores the current political landscape and the generational differences among African-American women with her signature wry humor.
MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN
Written and Directed By David Catlin
The monsters within. An eerie evening of ghost stories get spun as Mary Shelley herself breathes new life into her tale of the infamous Victor Frankenstein and his unholy experiment. Along the way, Shelley’s own personal torments emerge to add to this gothic tale of love and horror in this terrifying retelling of Frankenstein.
+ 2 MORE TITLES TO BE ANNOUNCED along with dates!
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From Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, NY:
As many of you are aware, we needed to cancel all the events we had scheduled during the month of March, though several of those have already been re-scheduled for later in the year.
Sadly, this means we’ve had to cancel what would have been the opening production in our 2020 “American Roots” Season, Audrey Cefaly’s MAYTAG VIRGIN. Unfortunately we weren’t able to find an open space on our production calendar this year when our dream cast (Joel Bryant and Kay Capasso, whom we were flying out from Los Angeles) and dream director (Patrick White), would all be free simultaneously. We’re now hoping to open our 2021 Season with that production.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that our second show, Samuel D. Hunter’s LEWISTON, currently slated to open on May 28th, will be able to go on as scheduled, but if not we should be able to find space for it later in the season.
In the interim, rest assured that we’re brainstorming all kinds of ways we can stay connected with you in our respective isolations. As a kick-off, here’s a copy of the archival video of our 2015 production of THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH for you to enjoy at your leisure. HERE
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From Kate Maguire at Berkshire Theatre Group:
I want to offer you an update. Our staff is working from home. We are putting plans in place to open our doors on August 1st, with the iconic musical Godspell on the Fitzpatrick Main Stage in our beloved Playhouse. The Unicorn theatre will open on August 8th with the musical comedy They're Playing Our Song by Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager. Next up at the Unicorn is a beautiful story of one family’s perseverance through uncertain times, And a Nightingale Sang, in its original fall slot, opening on September 24.
Over Labor Day weekend, Letters to the President originally scheduled for July, will run for two very special performances at The Colonial Theatre.
Also at The Colonial Theatre, Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr. will swim into late October, and Peter Pan will fly from summer to the holiday season, in December. Peter Pan first premiered in 1929. At that time, J.M. Barrie dedicated all future proceeds to a children's hospital in London, as the times demanded caretaking. We are in such times as well. Our production of Peter Pan will be dedicated to all the brave healthcare workers in our community. To each, we will offer a complimentary ticket to our Peter Pan. Details to follow.
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Announcements and Items of Interest
Berkshire Theatre Group Presents. . . .
For those of you who remember last year's special presentation at the Colonial Theatre - Hershey Felder as George Gershwin - the BTG is bringing the performer back for a one performance only presentation of his Irving Berlin show:
Live Stream from Florence, Italy:
HERSHEY FELDER as IRVING BERLIN
Mother's Day • Sunday, May 10 at 8pm
Tickets: $50, per household • 50% of proceeds benefit BTG
For viewing on Smart TV, Computer, smartphone or tablet for 72 hours
post live performance
The Immigrant Songwriter Who Gave America a Voice
A One-Time-Only, Live Streamed Broadcast Musical Event!
Experience some of America’s greatest songs in the context in which they were written! From “God Bless America,” to “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “White Christmas,” “Always,” and so many more… in a musical event that has been performed in theatres throughout the nation and abroad.
From Stephen Sanborn at The Two of Us Productions:
WHAT: Virtual Staged Readings Series presented by The Two Of Us Productions, the award winning theater company based in Columbia County NY, in collaboration with The Copake Grange:
AGNES OF GOD is a gripping drama by American playwright John Pielmeier, Agnes of God tells the story of a novice nun who gives birth and insists that the child was the result of a virgin conception. A psychiatrist and the mother superior of the convent clash during the resulting investigation. Can the possibility of miracles exist within the realities of today's world? April 25th at 7:00 pm.
STRANGER IN THE ATTIC is set in the country home of freelance writer Brian Hollander and his wife Dana, their quiet life is unexpectedly upset by the arrival of a stranger named Kendrick, who is offering an exclusive story to Brian about a murder that has not happened yet! WHEN: AGNES OF GOD, the gripping drama by John Pielmeir. Saturday April 25th at 7:00 pm. STRANGER IN THE ATTIC, the suspense drama by John Kaasik. Saturday May 9th at 7:00pm.
HOW: Both shows will be presented using ZOOM on-line videoconferencing. Please go to www.TheTwoOfUsProductions.org for information and to send us your RXVP. TICKETS: This performance is free to the public, donations are gratefully accepted. For more information & RSVP please visit: www.TheTwoOfUsProductions.org or call 518-329-6293.
AGNES OF GOD was missed by this reviewer due to an unanticipated stay in the hospital for an Anaphylaxis attack on Saturday.
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About Chester Theatre Company - 4/7/20
As a result of the global pandemic, and with the utmost concern for its audiences, artists, employees, and interns, and the residents of the town of Chester, CTC has made the necessary decision to cancel the first three shows of the 2020 summer season. A decision on the remaining show, Nia Vardalos's Tiny Beautiful Things, will be announced by July 1.
Chester Theatre Company will be offering online content and events, and continuing to engage with our audience. Programming will include opportunities for the kinds of conversations that are central to CTC's identity and mission. To view or participate, please sign up for the newsletter on the company's website, www.chestertheatre.org, and subscribe to Chester Theatre Company on Facebook and Instagram.
Producing Artistic Director Daniel Elihu Kramer says, "It's clear that these cancellations are the right thing for our artists, our audience, and our community. That doesn't make this announcement any less painful. We look forward to the time we can come together again." Patrons who purchased tickets will be contacted by staff in the coming days. They will have the option of converting their purchases to a tax-deductible donation or receiving refunds. Ticket buyers are asked not to call the box office at this time. Staff is working remotely, and all affected patrons will be contacted by either email or phone.
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This is from Julianne Boyd, Artistic and Founding Director of Barrington Stage Company:
We wish we could continue with our season uninterrupted; however, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the first production of our season, The Great Leap. We will now begin the season on June 18 with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics, by Nilo Cruz. This was not an easy decision, as it affects the many people who contribute to making our shows possible: our subscribers, our ticket holders, our donors, our artists, our actors and our craftspersons.
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From Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, Artistic Director of theRep in Albany, NY (which had to cancel both its hit production of "The Irish..." and its final production due to open the company's new theatre in May):
Thrilled by the response to my FaceBook questions about costumers making masks. We have arranged to deliver our industrial machines to our stitchers homes...We are connected to the hospital network accepting masks. Our costume staff (one at a time) have gone into our stock to pull the cotton that is most recommended. We have more muslin coming in next week for the cause. I am so proud of Amber and Andrea for their commitment and creativity! This is strictly a volunteer, work from home deal and I love these women for turning their skills to this task. Thank you, all -- Creativity is what will get us through! I send love to all my FB friends -- stay safe and keep those messages coming - I love the good news in the midst of the rest. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
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More from Melia Bensusson at Hartford Stage - 03/28/2020
We lost a great colleague to Covid-19 this week in the amazing actor Mark Blum, who met his wife actor Janet Zarish (who was in Emily Mann's production of A Doll's House at Hartford Stage in 1986) while both were working with me 20 years ago.
A shout out to our Technical Director, Aaron Bleck, who gathered gloves, glasses, N95 masks, and other safety equipment from our shops and the shops at The Hartt School at the University of Hartford to share with our local medical professionals.
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At this time Dorset Theatre Festival is postponing tickets sales for the 43rd Season until further notice.
We hope this delay will result in less confusion and inconvenience for our patrons in the event our plans must change.
In the meantime, many of our ongoing programs continue in the world of social distancing. The Dorset Theatre Festival Women Artists Writing Group has moved their meetings to an online platform, and The Jean E. Miller Young Playwrights Program is being offered online for the first time ever in its eight-year history, still at no charge to the local schools who participate. Artist development programs, including our new Commissioning and Fellowship program, will also forge ahead.
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From Mandy Greenfield at Williamstown Theatre Festival:
Dear Pillow Community,
I want to start off by hoping that you, your family, and your friends are healthy and safe, and then by thanking you for your enduring dedication to our beloved Jacob’s Pillow.
By now, I’m sure you have received many cancellation announcements from the arts organizations you treasure, as we respond to the global spread of the coronavirus.
Even so, it is still very hard to tell you that, for the first time in our 88-year history, our Board and Executive Leadership have made the difficult decision to cancel the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival for this summer.
We remain unwavering in the commitment to our mission. And, in the coming months, we will do all we can to take care of our staff, community, artists, and audiences. When the time is right, we'll look to create strategies that support our mutual recoveries and well-being.
Currently, we look forward to exploring different ways we can bring to you what is quintessential about the Pillow experience digitally, and we hope you will join us. For more details about these plans, I hope you'll watch this video.
At times like these, we can find comfort in the courage and moral imagination of our ancestors and predecessors. In the midst of World War II, with its many shortages and hardships, Pillow founder Ted Shawn wrote, “Jacob's Pillow has great and necessary work to do...and we must carry on no matter what the difficulties.”
We continue with that conviction today more than ever. Thank you always.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT'S AVAILABLE?
Click on the links in each region (the most recent at the top) below;
then make up your own mind about what to see.
Current Archives: 2018-2019
Berkshire County + Massachusetts
Vermont and Connecticut