Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

Lauren Ridloff in Children of a Lesser God at Berkshire Theatre Group

Children of a Lesser God Heads To Stockbridge

Children of a Lesser God, Mark Medoff’s Tony Award-winning play which became a popular movie starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin, heads for Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge, MA, for a limited run June 22-July 22. Directed by Tony Award-winner, Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun), this production features Lauren Ridloff as Sarah Norman (Wonderstruck; former Miss Deaf America), Joshua Jackson as James Leeds (The Affair, Dawson’s Cree), John  McGinty as Orin Dennis (Deaf West Theatre’s Pippin),

Joshua Jackson in Children of a Lesser God at Berkshire Theatre Group.

Tony Award-winner Stephen Spinella as Mr. Franklin (Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, James Joyce’s The Dead), Kecia Lewis as Mrs. Norman (Once on this Island, The Drowsy Chaperone, Leap of Faith), Treshelle Edmond as Lydia Glee, and Julee Cerda as Edna Klein.  

On Arts Beat Radio, Berkshire Theatre Group CEO Kate Maguire talked about this production of Children of a Lesser God, which has Broadway aspirations. Maguire says “This play is a poignant story about human communication, connection and compromise. In today’s culture, there are endless methods of communication. Are we truly listening to one another?”. Maguire added that thhe playwright Mark Medoff is involved in this revival.

All performances will have open captioning, and the following performances are ASL-interpreted: June 24 at 8PM, June 26 at 7PM, July 12 at 2PM, and July 21 at 8PM. 

There’s a talk-back with the actors and creative team after the June 26 performances. For details: 413-997-4444 or www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.

UMass Fine Arts Center Announces Season

Music, theatre, and dance from the far corners of the world highlight the UMass Fine Arts Center upcoming season in Amherst. From Tango Buenos Aires to the Venice Baroque Orchestra to the Broadway musical Cabaret to Sacred Dances and Legends of Hawaii, there are offerings coming to Amherst that you won’t likely find on area stages outside of the world’s major cultural capitals. 

There are discounted subscription tickets available, along with discounts for seniors and students. For details on the season: 413-545-2511, 800-999-UMAS, or www.fineartscenter.com.

Plan Ahead: That Big Apple Theatre Trip

Now that you’ve seen excerpts from the Tony Awards musical contenders on the televised awards ceremony, your thoughts may lean towards a New York City theatre trip. If you plan it right, a day on Broadway can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Summer is tourist season in New York City, but once Labor Day comes around, and the kids are back in chool and the toursts are gone, it’s easier to snag tickets to a Broadway hit. In fact, a good time to go is during the Jewish holidays. Playbill.com, BroadwayWorld.com, and BroadwayStars.com all have theatre news and ticket information; BroadwayBox.com has some good deals on tickets. http://www.broadwaybox.com/

If you’re a student, senior, retired, military, or fall into several other categories, the Theatre Development Fund offers a great ticket discount program. TDF runs the TKTS booth at TimesSquare. See if you qualify. https://www.tdf.org/nyc/10/TDF-Membership

Getting to the city is easy. You can get on Amtrak in Springfield, Windsor Locks or Hartford, and go directly to Penn Station, which is on the West Side of Manhattan near the theatre district. Amtrak generally has a cafe car from New Haven south, and wifi. If you get on the train at Windsor Locks, the parking is free, but you need advance tickets.. For Amtrak informaiton:  https://www.amtrak.com/home  You can also drive down to New Haven, and jump on the hourly Metro North trains to Grand Central. For MetroNorth details: Metro North: http://www.mta.info/

The Theatre District is also called Hell’s Kitchen. Skip the touristy restaurants on Times Square and the good-but-pricey ones on W. 46th Street, also known as “Restaurant Row”. I like some of the places on Ninth Avenue, including Totto Ramen for a quick meal. http://tottoramen.com/

And don’t forget, The Bushnell brings the big Broadway shows to Hartford. For their upcoming season: The current Broadway hits, School of Rock and On Your Feet are Hartford-bound, along with some recent hits like Finding Neverland, Fun Home, The Color Purple, and Something Rotten. www.bushnell.org.

Keep in Mind…

Arts Beat Radio welcomes WAM Theatre Co-Founder Kristen Van Ginhoven on Friday, June 16, 8AM-9AM. live from The Press Room in Westfield, MA, on 89.5FM/WSKB. Host Mark G. Auerbach and Kristen Van Ginhoven talk about WAM and her directing debut at Chester Theatre in MA..  C’mon down, caffeinate, and watch live radio; or

Kenneth Tigar in Under Milk Wood at North Hall in Huntington.

tune in live on the airwaves, on Comcast ch. 15, www.wskb.org or at www.westfieldtv.org

Margery Shaw in Under Milk Wood at North Hall in Huntington

Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas’ radio play which became a theatre piece, will be staged on June 25 at the 2017 North Hall Arts Festival in Huntington, MA. Mitch Giannunzio directs a company of actors including Ellen Barry, Margery Shaw, and Kenneth Tigar. Under Milk Wood, is the story of a fictitious fishing village in Wales, and the lives of its residents. For details: 413-667-5543 or www.northhallhuntington.org.

Stupid F***ing Bird, Aaron Posner’s sort of adaptation of Chekhov’s classic play The Sea Gull opens the Silverthorne Theatre’s season at Greenfield’s Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center (formerly The Arts Block), with performances June 22-July 1. The familiar characters are there in all their tortured glory, even if the names are slightly modified. The themes of thwarted ambition and family conflict are played out in this thoroughly contemporary and funny piece that leaves no doubt about the comedic genius of both Posner and his prototype. For details: www.silverthornetheater.org.

Jaws in Concert. Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanada Orchestra perform the John Williams score in synch with a screening of Steven Spielberg’s summer movie blockbuster on June 18 at Tanglewood. For details:888-266-1200 or www.tanglewood.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. 

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