by Mark G. Auerbach
Spotlight: Austin Lombardi of Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fiorello
The Berkshire Theatre Group’s acclaimed revival of Fiorello, opens in New York on September 4, with performances scheduled through October 7 at East 13th Street Theater, home of Classic Stage Company. Fiorello was a sell-out in Stockbridge earlier this summer.
Pittsfield actor Austin Lombardi plays the title role of Fiorello LaGuardia in Berkshire Theatre Group’s mounting of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning musical Fiorello. For the young actor (who turned 21 during the show’s Berkshires performances), it’s a dream come true.
We had a chance to chat, before rehearsals resume in late August. “Some of the show is being recast” says Lombardi, “because some of the summer cast have to return to school or have other commitments. The theatre in New York is different, so we’re reblocking and rechoreographing some scenes”.
Lombardi, who graduated from Pittsfield High School in 2012, got hooked on theatre in the 7th grade, and he did some high school shows like Camelot, Sweet Charity, and Chicago. He moved on to productions at Barrington Stage and other area theatres, and the theatre has been an important part of his life since.
“I had originally auditioned for Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of Beauty and The Beast” said Lombardi, “And I got called-back. Kate Maguire saw my audition, and the next thing I knew, I was cast in Fiorello.”
“I only knew about Fiorello LaGuardia because of the airport connection”, says Lombardi, “But I did a lot of research quickly. I was floored by his humanity, and how he had so much to give to the people of New York. He had heart”. Lombardi learned to savor the musical gems like “Til Tomorrow” and “When Did I Fall in Love”.
The arts are important to Lombardi, who grew up within walking distance of Pittsfield’s North Street, and has experienced the renaissance of the neighborhood, thanks to the efforts of Berkshire Theatre Group and Barrington Stage. He likes the opportunity to see theatre and attend the arts on North Street on the third Thursdays arts festivals.
For Lombardi, who combines theatre with a day job at Barnes and Noble, getting cast in Fiorello is “the best thing that’s ever happened to me”. He relishes the opportunity to perform in New York,, and the homecoming afterwards.
For my Westfield News Group review: https://thewestfieldnews.com/review-fiorello-at-berkshire-theatre-group
For details on the New York performances of Fiorello: http://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/on-our-stages/theatre/619-fiorello-2
David Korins, the UMass Theatre grad who set the stage of Hamilton and won a Tony nomination in the process, is up for an Emmy Award for his work as production designer for the live TV broadcast of Grease.
Return Engagement: American Son. Barrington Stage’s acclaimed production of Christopher Demos-Brown’s riveting drama
American Son, which had its world premiere in Pittsfield in June, returns to Barrington Stage on September 14-25. Julianne Boyd directs the taut drama, which stars Tamara Tunie (Law & Order: SVU), Michael Hayden (Carousel), Luke Smith (Peter and the Starcatcher), and Andre Ware (House of Cards). For details: 413-236-8888 or www.barringtonstageco.org. For The Westfield News Group review: https://thewestfieldnews.com/review-american-son-world-premiere-at-barrington-stage.
Keep in Mind…
Beauty and The Beast, the Disney musical smash on Broadway, is this year’s Berkshire Theatre Group community theatre production. Alan Menken wrote the music. Howard Ashman and Tim Rice provided the lyrics, and Linda Woolverton adapted the script. The beloved Tony Award and Drama Desk Award-nominated musical features over 100 talented Berkshire County residents, directed by Travis G. Daly, with choreography by Kathy Jo Grover. Mark Gionfriddo of Mount Holyoke’s The Big Broadcast conducts. Performances are at Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre through August 19. For details: For details: 413-997-4444 or www.berkshiretheatregroup.org
The Mountaintop, Katori Hall’s rich drama about the last days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his encounter with a brash maid, .closes The Chester Theatre season, August 18-29. Colette Robert directs, and Jordan Mahome and Shelley Fort co-star. For details: 413.354.7771 or .http://chestertheatre.org/.
Sotto Voce, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Nilo Cruz, and directed by Daniel Gidron. This powerful, timely piece plays at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA through September 11. In 1939 the MS St. Louis set out in search of homes for the hundreds of Jewish refugees aboard, only to be turned away by Cuba and the United States. Decades later, a young Cuban-Jewish man seeks out Bemadette Kahn, a famous, reclusive writer who was separated from her Jewish lover when he boarded the MS St. Louis all those years ago. The result is three seemingly disconnected souls brought together in a fantastical relationship fueled by the power of memories. For details: 413-637-3353 or www.shakespeare.org
Samsara, Lauren Yee’s new play about a couple having a child via surrogate is the next offering on WAM Theatre’s Fresh Takes Series on August 21 at Six Depot Roastery and Cafe in West Stockbridge, MA. Leigh Strimbeck directs the play about the father-to-be and the surrogate mom in India. For details: http://www.wamtheatre.com/fresh-takes-2016/
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.