Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

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

Debra Jo Rupp Brings Home “The Cake”

Debra Jo Rupp, best known for her TV appearances in That ‘70s Show and Friends, returns to The Berkshires in The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter, which plays Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, June 21-July 15. The Cake, which opened in Los Angeles last year to rave reviews, won a L.A. Ovation for Miss Rupp’s performance as Della, a baker, whose life is turned upside down, when a close friend asks her to bake a wedding cake for her daughter, who is marrying a woman. Playwright Bekah Brunstetter,is best known for her work on NBC’s This is Us.

The cast of The Cake includes Nemuna Ceesay,  Douglas Rees, and Virginia Vale. Jennifer Chambers, who staged the original production in Los Angeles, directs the Barrington Stage production..

Debra Jo Rupp is a part-time resident of Lee, MA. Area theater-goers have seen Rupp  in A Flea in Her Ear, at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Deathtrap at Berkshire Theatre Group, and To Kill a Mockingbird at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield. Rupp  starred as Dr. Ruth Westheimer in Becoming Dr. Ruth at Barrington Stage Company, Hartford’s TheaterWorks, and Off-Broadway. Later this summer, she’ll star in Chester Theatre Company’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit.

Because of the recent Supreme Court ruling about the Colorado baker, The Cake may bring some issues center stage. Barrington Stage will offer talk back on June 27 and July 11, plus a cafe chat on July 6.

For details: 413-236-8888 or www.barringtonstageco.org/mrfinns/.

Tara Franklin

“Bar Mitzvah Boy” Has American Premiere at Chester Theatre

Mark Leiren-Young’s Bar Mitzvah Boy, winner of the 2017 Jewish Playwriting Prize, has its American Premiere as the season opener at Chester Theatre, June 21-July 1 in Chester, MA. Will LeBow, veteran Boston area actor, plays a successful divorce attorney who wants a late-in-life Bar Motzvah. Tara Franklin, WMass based actor and star of productions at Chester and Berkshire Theatre Group, plays the Rabbi. As the attorney finds his spiuritual way, the Rabbi guiding him is losing hers.

A Canadian journalist, and writer for stage and screen, Leiren-Young is bet known for his books, Never Shoot A Stampede Queen and The Killer Whale Who Changed The World, his Lifetime series Blood Ties, and The Great Canadian Music Dream.

For details: 413-354-7771 or www.chestertheatre.org.

Keep in Mind

Arts Beat Radio airs every Friday at 8AM, on 89.5fm/WSKB. On June 29, Mark G. Auerbach chats with WAM Theatre Co-Founder Kristen Van Ginhoven, who is directing the Pulitzer Prize winning play Disgraced at Chester Thestre this summer..  Start your weekend with ArtsBeat Radio. Tune in live on the airwaves, on Comcast ch. 15, or www.wskb.org

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan, Adriel Flete and Company in On Your Feet! Photo by Matthew Murphy

On Your Feet!, the hit Broadway musical baed on the true  life story of international superstar Gloria Estefan and her husband, producer-musician-entrepreneur Emilio Estefan, plays The Bushnell in Hartford through June 24. Cuban-American Broadway actress Christie Prades stars as Gloria Estefan, and acclaimed stage and television actor Mauricio Martinez, plays Emilio Estefan.  Emilio and Gloria Estefan together have won 26 Grammy Awards, but their music is only half the story. From the heart of Havana to the streets of Miami came a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the music industry had ever seen.  On Your Feet!   follows the Estefans’ journey to superstardom, set to their chart-topping, smash hits, including “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “1-2-3,” “Get On Your Feet,” “Mi Tierra,” Don’t Want To Lose You Now,” and “Reach,” in addition to an original song written by Gloria and her daughter Emily Estefan. For details: 860-987-5900 or www.bushnell.org.

David Garrison

The Berkshire Theatre’ Group’s 90th Anniversary Gala celebrates nine decades of theatre in Stockbridge on July 1, with a reception, performance of the world premiere of Lee Kalcheim’s Coming Back Like a Song! and a gala dinner. Gregg Edelman stages the play about famous songwriters Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen and Jimmy Van Heusen, starring David Garrison, Philip Hoffman and David Rasche.For details: 413-997-4444 or https://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/support/berkshire-theatre-s-90th-anniversary

Charles Busch My Kinda Sixties. Weaving tales of his Manhattan childhood and adolescence raised by his indomitable Aunt Lillian through the lens of the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, Charles regales us with hilarious stories and songs from Broadway to Pop, featuring the work of Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, the Beatles, Henry Mancini, Bob Dylan, Stephen Sondheim, and Kander and Ebb. Songs include “Two for the Road,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “The Times They Are A-Changin.” June 24-25 at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, MA. For details: 413-236-8888 or www.barringtonstageco.org/mrfinns/.

David M. Lutken

David Lutken and The Seat of the Pants Band return to Barrington Stage in Pittsfield on July 3-4, with their Give Me Liberty, 2018 annual “4th of July American-a-rama’”. It’s songs of Myth and Legend, History and Humor, Patriotism, Rebellion and Resistance with banjo, bass, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, harmonica and guitar. Come and sing along to America’s great music again. Lutken is the star of Goodspeed’s The Will Rogers Follies, and creator of Woody Sez. For details: 413-236-8888 or www.barringtonstageco.org/mrfinns/.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra launches the Talcott Mountain Music Festival in Simsbury, CT with their annual Celebrate America concert, June 29. Rain Date: June 30. Adam Boyles conducts a salute to Leonard Bernstein and some Americana.. Fireworks follow the concert. For details: 860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.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.

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