by Mark G. Auerbach
The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 63rd Season will include four world premieres, a new musical, the first production of a WTF commissioned artist, and much more. Some of the season highlights include: Jen Silverman’s The Roommate, featuring Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) and Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee Jane Kaczmarek; Sarah Ruhl’s 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist comedy The Clean House starring Tony Award nominee Jessica Hecht and a new musical A Legendary Romance directed by Lonny Price. For season details: www.wtfestival.org
Chester Theatre Company‘s 2017 Summer Season will feature an American Premiere, two New England Premieres, and the return of actor Joel Ripka in a one-man performance. The highlights of Daniel Elihu Kramer’s program include: a staging of Lauren Gunderson’s I and You, directed by WAM’s Kristen van Ginhoven; Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morriseau, whose play Sunset Baby was smoking at TheaterWorks. Also planned are productions of Every Brilliant Thing staged by Kramer, and the American premiere of Folk by Tom Wells. Chester Theatre is on Route 20 west of Westfield, MA. For details: 413.354.7770, or visit www.chestertheatre.org
Tanglewood welcomes two popular artist concerts to the season. A season-opening performance of “Four Voices”—featuring legendary artists and longtime friends Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter plus Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls—will take place on June 17. Celebrated rocker John Mellencamp will join forces with fellow singer-songwriters Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter for a performance on July 1. For details: 888-266-1200 or www.tanglewood.org
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington announced three additions to the summer schedule , including concerts by Pink Martini (July 11), Michael Feinstein (August 6), and Sutton Foster (August 14). For details: 413.528.0100 or www.mahaiwe.org.
Major Creatives Head to Goodspeed.
Some of musical theatre’s most innovative directors and choreographers are headed to Goodspeed this season. Denis Jones, who choreographed Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn at Goodspeed and on Broadway, returns to stage the season operner Thoroughly Modern Millie. Jenn Thompson, who staged last season’s’s refreshed Bye Bye Birdie, and choreographer Katie Spelman from Broadway’s American Psycho, team up for Oklahoma! TheaterWorks’ imaginative Rob Ruggiero, who also works frequently with Goodspeed, and choreographer Parker Esse, will helm an important new revival of Rags. Esse’s work is familiar to Berkshire Theatre Group regulars, and he won a Helen HayesAward for his choreography for Arena Stage.
Tina Landau, who directed the Broadway revival of Bells are Ringing, will stage a new musical, Deathless at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. Kristin Hariggi and Chase Brock direct and choreograph the new musical Darling Grenadine in Chester, and Hunter Foster stages A Connecticut Christmas Carol in Chester, with dance staging by Lisa Shriver. For season details: 860-873-8668; or www.goodspeed.org..
Assassins, the Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman musical about presidential assassins and wanna-bes, gets a staging at The Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, CT March 17 through April 8. James Bundy directs. Stephen DeRosa, Lauren Molina, and Julia Murney star. Yale describes the controversial musical as ““United in states of disillusionment and alienation, nine men and women emerge from the shadows of the 19th and 20th centuries to take what they believe is their best—and only—shot at the American Dream. Fueled by our national populism in politics and in song, this Tony Award-winning musical masterpiece is a bone-chilling thrill ride through U.S. history.” For details: 203-432-1234 or www.yalerep.org.
The Yiddish Book Center will present a weekend program on “The World of Yiddish Theater”, April 21 to 23 in Amherst. .The program will be taught by Professor Debra Caplan, assistant professor of theater at Baruch College, CUNY. Caplan is a historian of Yiddish theater, dramaturg, director, and translator, as well as a founding member of the Digital Yiddish Theater Project. The deadline to register is April 7. For details: yiddishbookcenter.org/yiddish-theater-weekend-program
Keep in Mind…
Jacqueline T. Lynch. has written Comedy and Tragedy on the Mountain: 70 years of Summer Theatre on Mt. Tom, Holyoke, Massachusetts. It’s a history of live theatre on Mt. Tom from 1895 to 1965. Columnist Barbara Bernard has written the forward. Lynch will discuss her book on Saturday, March 18, at Blue Umbrella Books in downtown Westfield, MA. For details: http://www.blueumbrellabooks.com/
WAM’s Fresh Take Series presents The Flora and Fauna by Alyson Mead, winner of the Arizona-based Bridge Initiative: Women in Theatre New Work Contest. The play chronicles the celebrations and challenges of a female friendship that spans almost 30 years. Molly Clancy directs the reading or one performance, March 12 at No. Six Depot Roastery and Café on 6 Depot Street in West Stockbridge, MA. For details: www.wamtheatre.com
The Music of U2 is showcased by the Hartford Symphony Pops on March 18 at The Bushnell. Conductor Richard Carsey, singer Brody Dolyniuk and a rock band join the Pops to showcase U2’s many hits over the years. For details: 860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio.