Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

Think Summer! Chester Theatre Company Announces Season

Tara Franklin

Producing Artistic Director Daniel Elihu Kramer has announced Chester Theatre Company’s 2018 Summer Season, which will feature an American Premiere, a Pulitzer Prize winning play, and a play written by a Pulitzer Prize winner and 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

Said Kramer, “So many wonderful actors and directors are returning to Chester this summer. Together, we’ll explore the never-ending process of growing up: falling in love, exploring faith and friendship, and learning who you are. I’m excited for the conversations these remarkable plays will prompt.”

The season opens with the American Premiere of Mark Leiren-Young’s Bar Mitzvah Boy about a man having a late-in-life Bar Mitzvah, directed by Guy Ben-Aharon, and starring Tara Franklin, the Berkshires-based actor who has received glowing notices for her performances at Berkshire Theatre Group in The Homecoming and At Home at the Zoo (Zoo story) stars.

James Barry

Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitxer Prize winner sets four characters at an explosive dinner party, which explores   explores the prickly and often painful territory of American identity,. WAM Theatre’s Kristen can Gihoven, who staged I and You last season in Chester, directs, and Kim Stauffer stars.

Debra Jo Rupp, Berkshires-based artist, will be featured in the upcoming Chester Theatre season.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Iranian playwright  Nassim Soleimanpour brings Debra Jo Rupp and Joel Ripka back to Western Masachusetts, followed by Stephen Massicotte’s Mary’s Wedding.

Annie Baker, Amherst native and award-winning playwright will be showcased with her new play, The Aliens, staged by Daniel Elihu Kramer. James Barry, director of Berkshire Theatre Group’s Million Dollar Quartet, Joel Ripka, and I and You’s Paul Pontrelli co-star.

Chester Theatre Company’s performances are held at the Historic Town Hall in Chester, MA. For season details: 413.354.7771 or www.chestertheatre.org.

Of Note

The Arts Extension Service at UMass/Amherst has received grants from local cultural councils in Amherst, Easthampton, Springfield, and Westfield  to bring evening-long Community Engagement for Artists workshops to their communities in the fall of 2018. Taught by AES instructor Terre Vandale, the workshops will cover the exciting practice of community engagement, including sharing examples of innovative projects, the skills needed and the steps required for artists to create public art with the community, or “art for social change” projects that truly reflect the needs and desires of the communities involved. For details on The Arts Extension Service programs: https://www.umass.edu/aes/

Darko Tresnjak, Artistic Director of Hartford Stage, Tony Award winner for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which he premiered at Hartford Stage and directed on Broadway, and director of Broadway’s Anastasia, will make his Metropolitan Opera debut in September.  He’ll stage Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, which opens September 24, and he’ll bring his frequent Hartford Stage collaborators, scenic designer Alexander Dodge and costume designer Linda J. Cho with him to the Met. For details:  http://www.metopera.org

Madelyn Gardner sings at Methuselah

Madelyn Gardner, Berkshire Theatre Group’s publicist, won the Berkshires Got Talent award for her singing. She’ll be headlining Pittsfield’s Methuselah Bar and Lounge on March 23, with Dylan Girouard on guitar and Tim Shiebler on percussion. For details: http://methbar.com/

The 36th Annual New England Saxophone Festival and Competition, under the auspices of tThe University of Massachusetts Department of Music & Dance, brings saxophone players, students, enthusiasts, and teachers to Bezanson Recital Hall on the UMass/Amherst campus on April 14. Events  include concerts and interactive clinics by Salles (jazz), Hulting-Cohen (classical), the Yosvany Terry Quartet (Afro-Cuban music), and The Moanin’ Frogs (popular chamber music), plus an evening performance by the UMass Wind Ensemble. High school players are invited to take part in classical and jazz competitions (entry deadline: March 16). For details: www.umass.edu/saxophone/competition.

Keep in Mind…

Million Dollar Quartet plays The Bushnell. Photo by Billie Wheeler.

Million Dollar Quartet plays The Bushnell for one night only on March 8. If you missed it at The Majestic or Berkshire Theatre Group, it’s a flash back to one night in December, 1956, at Sun Records in Memphis. Rockabilly star Carl Perkins is reworking his song “Matchbox”, when fellow Sun recording artists Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley stop by. An impromptu jam session takes place, and producer Sam Phillips had the smarts to record it. A local reporter who was called and sat in on the session headlined his newspaper article which ran the next day, “Million Dollar Quartet”. For details: 860-987-5900 or www.bushnell.org

Annie, Jr, will be performed by Academy of Music Theatre and Academy Youth Productions pn March 8-9 at Northampton’s Academy of Music Theatre. Based on the popular comic strip and adapted from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, with a  book and score by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, Annie Jr. features everyone’s favorite little redhead in her very first adventure. Annie premiered at the Goodspeed Opera House before moving to Broadway stardom forty years ago. For details: 413-584-9032 ext.105  or www.aomtheatre.com

The Westfield News Radio Show will be hosted by ArtsBeat’s Mark G. Auerbach on Thursdays in March, from 6AM-8AM on 89.5fm/WSKB. Mark’s guests on March 15 are scheduled to include: Ann Burke from the Economic Development Council of W.Mass; Jeanne Yocum, author, The Self Employment Survival Guide. and Thom Fox, radio host and mentor. Tune in  live on the airwaves, on Comcast ch. 15, or www.wskb.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 for 89.5fm/WSKB. This March, Mark produces and hosts the Westfield News Show, Thursdays from 5AM-8AM on 89.5fm/WSKB.

To Top