Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

Hershey Felder brings Our Great Tchaikovsky to Hartford Stage.

Hershey Felder Brings “Our Great Tchaikovsky” to Hartford Stage

Hershey Felder, the remarkable actor, pianist, playwright, composer, and historian brings his solo play with music, Our Great Tchaikovsky to Hartford Stage or a limited run on August 19-27. The versatile Felder, who has starred in his George Gershwin Alone and Monsieur Chopin at Hartford Stage, portrays the famous and very eccentric Russian composer, who created such masterworks as the scores to The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and the 1812 Overture. Nine days after he conducted the premiere of his Symphony Pathétique as a healthy 53-year-old, he was dead. To this day, how and why remains a mystery. 

Felder recently directed concert pianist Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willisden Lane, his adaptation of Golabek’s memoir co-written with Lee Cohen. The Montreal-born artist has adapted plays with music about composers Beethoven, Bernstein, and Berlin. Felder, in 1994, spent time working on Stephen Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation interviewing Holocaust survivors.

For details: 860-527-5151 or www.hartfordstage.org.

Joel Ripka at Chester Theatre Company

“Every Brilliant Thing” Gets New England Premiere at Chester Theatre

Chester Theatre Company presents the New England Premiere of Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe’s Every Brilliant Thing, directed by Daniel Elihu Kramer, and starring Joel Ripka, through August 13 in Chester, MA  Every Brilliant Thing was produced by Paines Plough and Pentabus Theatre Company at the Ludlow Fringe Festival, enjoyed a successful Off Broadway run at Barrow Street Theatre, and was subsequently adapted for television and broadcast on HBO.

When a boy’s mother attempts suicide, he starts a list of everything that’s brilliant in the world to convince her to stay: things with stripes, ice cream, Christopher Walken’s hair. Joel Ripka, in his 7th appearance at Chester Theatre, leads the audience on an engaging journey of a son’s gift to his mother, to himself, and to the audience.

For the first time in its tenure at The Town Hall Theatre, Chester Theatre will be turning the space into a theatre in the round. For details: 413-354-7771 or www.chestertheatre.org.

Darling Grenadine Premieres at Goodspeed Musicals

The world of a charming songwriter is on the rocks in Daniel Zaitchik’s contemporary new musical Darling Grenadine plays Gooidspeed Musicalss August 18-September 17, at The Terris Theatre in Chester, CT.

In Darling Grenadine, fun-loving jingle composer Harry lives a chamred life in modern Manhattan with his girlfriend Louise, brother Paul and beloved Labrador Retriever (also Paul!). Life sparkles with the fizz of romantic comedies and the whimsy of MGM musicals. But will it all go flat when reality interrupts Harry’s tenderly orchestrated fantasia? A rich contemporary score explores the friction between romance and reality, bitter and sweet, high and low. 

Darling Grenadine features book, music and lyrics by Daniel Zaitchik. As a singer-songwriter, his recording projects include Bad Dancer and Summer of the Soda Fountain Girls (with his old band Blue Bottle Collection.)  As a playwright-composer his projects include Picnic at Hanging Rock (Goodspeed’s 2017 Festival of New Musicals), and Suprema (with playwright Jordan Harrison.)  His work has been developed at Lincoln Center Theater, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, New Dramatists, Ars Nova and The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. He has been awarded the 2017 Kleban Prize for Most Promising Musical Theatre Lyricist.

Leslie Jordan

Darling Grenadine will be directed by Kristin Hanggi. who is best-known for directing and developing the international smash-hit Rock of Ages. For details: 860-873-8668 or www.goodspeed.org

Plan Ahead

Stephen Spinella

Warhol Capote opens the fall season at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, September 9-October 13. In the late 1970s, Truman Capote and Andy Warhol decided that they were destined to create a Broadway play together. Over the course of the next several months, they would sit down to record a series of intimate, wide-ranging conversations. The play never came to be, and the hours and hours of tape were lost to the ages. Until now. Rob Roth adapts the play; Michael Mayer directs. Tony Award winner Stephen Spinella, direct from Berkshire Theatre Group’s Children of a Lesser God, and Leslie Jordan from Will & Grace and Sordid Lives co-star. For details: 617-547-8300 or www.americanrepertorytheater.org

Keep In Mind…

Arts Beat Radio welcomes Chester Theatre Company’s Daniel Elihu Kramer on Friday, August 11 from 8AM-9AM. live from The Press Room in Westfield, MA, on 89.5FM/WSKB. C’mon down, caffeinate, and watch live radio; or tune in live on the airwaves, on Comcast ch. 15, www.wskb.org or at www.westfieldtv.org

Rorianne Schrade, award-winning pianist, and the voice of the Sevenars concerts, previews her September Carnegie Hall recital program at the Sevenars season finale on August 13. Her program will include works by Mozart, Beethoven, Scriabin, Glazunov, and Rachmaninoff. This concert marks her return to the concert stage after a five year hiatus. Welcome her back! For details: 413-238-5854 or www.sevenars.org.

Kenneth Tigar and Margery Shaw in Love Letters in Huntington.

Love Letters, the A.R. Gurney play about two upper-crust New Englanders, who share their correspondence of fifty years, will be presented on August 20 at Historic North Hall in huntington, MA. Actor and playwright Mitch Giannunzio directs; Margery Shaw and Kenneth Tigar co-star.  For details: 413-667-5543 or www.northhallhuntington.org..

Pravda, David Hare’s and Howard Benton’s powerful play explores the role of journalism in society. The Berkshire Theatre Group presents a free staged reading, staged by Dan Dwyer on August 18. Tickets required. For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.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. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat Radio on 89.5fm/WSKB Radio.

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