by Mark G. Auerbach
Jeff McCarthy is “Kunstler” in Barrington Stage Season Opener
Barrington Stage Company, the award-winning theatre in Downtown Pittsfield, MA presents The Creative Place International/And Theatre Company production of Kunstler by Jeffrey Sweet, through June 10 at the St. Germain Stage. Jeff McCarthy, star of Broadway’s Smile, Side Show, Urinetown, and Beauty and The Beast, plays former ACLU director and attorney and civil rights leader William Kunstler. McCarthy is an Associate Artist at Barrington Stage, where in recent years, he has appeared in Sweeney Todd, Man of La Mancha, and Southern Comfort. Meghan Fay directs.
As director of the ACLU from 1964-1972, Kunstler gained prominence serving as defense attorney for the Freedom Riders and the Chicago Seven as well as members of the Black Panther Party, Attica Prison rioters, the American Indian Movement, and Weather Underground. As an attorney in private practice in NYC, he continued to court headlines with controversial clients, from defending Omar Abdel-Rahman for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to notorious mafia figures like John Gotti.
Tonys’ Local Ties
The Tony Awards nominations are out and the theatre community is energized for the awards, which are sometimes called The Superbowl of Broadway. A Tony Award win is a mark of excellence for the winner, big box-office for the producers of the winner, and a barometer of what shows you’ll see touring to venues like The Bushnell or performed in our regional theatre. Last year, it was almost a one-show Tonys season–that was Hamilton. This year, the competition for a win is intense, and many incredible shows, Hartford Stage’s Anastasia, for example, got lost in the shuffle.
Several multi-award nominees got their start in area theatres. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, a multi-nominated musical, started out at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, the same theatre that sent Waitress, and revivals of Hair, Pippin, and Porgy and Bess to New York. Come From Away, a wonderful musical about the town of Gander Newfoundland on the day planes were diverted on 9/11, spent some time at Goodspeed, which also sent the original Annie, Man of La Mancha, and Shenandoah to Broadway.
David Korins, the UMass theatre grad and scenic designer nominated for War Paint, the musical about Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein, has four shows running simultaneously on Broadway, including Hamilton. That’s a record breaker.
Jane Cox, another UMass theatre grad, is a nominee for lighting design for August Wilson’s Jitney.
Denis Jones, director and choreographer for Goodspeed’s current hit, Thoroughly Modern Millie, is a nominee for his choreography for Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, which premiered at Goodspeed.
Kate Baldwin, nominee for her performance in Hello Dolly, is a regular at Berkshire Theatre Group, where she starred in A Little Night Music, Bells Are Ringing, and Constellations. Her co-star in A Little Night Music, Phillipa Soo, won the Tony last year for Hamilton.
Hartford Stage’s Anastasia picked up two nominations this year. That theatre has won a Tony Award for outstanding regional theatre; it sent A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder to New York, and brought home a Tony for Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical for Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, who is currently staging Heartbreak House.
For details on the Tony Awards: http://www.tonyawards.com/index.html
North Hall Arts Festival Announces Season
The North Hall Arts Festival in Huntington, MA. has announced its 2017 season with an eclectic mix of music and theatre in the foothills of The Berkshires. The Festival opens on May 27-28 with A Showcase of Opera and Song, with singers performing works from Rossini to Weill and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Other season highlights include a staged reading of Sylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood on June 25; jazz with Charles Neville and The New England Nevilles on July 2; and pianist Monica Jakuc Leverett with her Piano Babe in Toyland concert on July 23.
Kenneth Tigar and Margery Shaw perform A.R. Gurneys Love Letters on August 20. Mitch Giannunzio directs. The piano-clarinet duo of Jerry Noble and Bob Sparkman perform on September 10.
Sevenars Concerts 50th Season Announced
The Schrade and James Family continue an incredible summer music tradition started by Robert and Rolande Schrade, who brought a family chamber music series to Worthington, MA On Sunday afternoons, they perform an array of music from the classics like Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Massenet to the more popular styles of Gershwin, and jazz.
The Schrade-James Family kick of the season on July 9, and the concert showcases the children, grandchildren and of the family members of Robert and Rolande Schrade. Other season highlights include The Greenwood Chamber Players performing music for flute and strings on July 30; the eagerly-anticipated return of Jerry Noble and Friends on August 6, when Noble, jazz xlarinetist Bob Sparkman, and cellist Christopher James perform Elgar’s Concerto, Op. 85, in Elgar’s own piano-cello version. Rorianne Schrade closes the season with a preview of her Carnegie Hall recital program on August 13. Her program will include Mozart, Beethoven, Pärt, Liadov, Scriabin, Glazunov, Kapustin, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky-Feinberg.
For details: http://www.sevenars.org/index.html
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.