Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

Tara Franklin

Tara Franklin  Stars in Chester Theatre’s On The Exhale

On The Exhale, Martin Zimmerman’s new play about gun violence in America, won raves in New York two years ago. Inspired by Sandy Hook, the one-person show stars Tara Franklin as a college professor suffering the unthinkable loss of her son in a school shooting, she fixates not on the shooter, but on the weapon itself. Her attempts to understand what happened unleash unexpected feelings about power, violence, and the role we all play in this American epidemic. Chester Theatre presents the drama, directed by Colette Robert, July 25-August 4.

Tara Franklin, well-known to Chester Theatre audiences for her stage work in Bar Mitzvah Boy, and Sister Play recently joined the staff of the organization in a dual role, that of Associate Artistic Director/Director of Education. A Berkshire native, Franklin has enjoyed a professional career in the theatre for the past twenty years, working in New York, Chicago and regionally.  Locally, she has been seen in numerous productions with the Berkshire Theatre Group, where she recently starred in Pirandello’s Naked; Pinter’s The Homecoming, and Albee’s  At Home at the Zoo (Zoo story)  In New York, she spent two years performing in Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. An adjunct faculty member at Smith College, Franklin teaches acting, and directed Men On Boats during last year’s mainstage season.  She holds a BFA from NYU Tisch and an MFA from UConn

For details: www.chestertheatre.org.

Danny Eaton

Majestic Theater Announces 23rd Season

The Majestic Theater’s Producing Director Danny Eaton has announced the 2019-2020 Season lineup for the West Springfield venue. The 5-play lineup includes: The Tuna Goddess, a comedy by Jade Schuyler; Forever Plaid, the pop musical about semi-pro harmony group; Ira Levin’s classic thriller Deathtrap; The Pitch, .a contemporary drama by the Pioneer Valley’s Stan Freeman is a play about baseball, best friends and betrayal; and 9 to 5: The Musical, Dolly Parton’s musical.

According to Producing Director Danny Eaton, “This upcoming season offers an interesting balance of plays, both well-known and newly-created. We’ve got two musicals, comedy, drama, thrillers and some are a mix. The Tuna Goddess is set in Chatham and its characters – two old friends – have very different lives in Massachusetts. Forever Plaid has been a theatrical hit for years, and we’re excited to bring it to the Majestic. I’d been trying to get the option to produce Deathtrap here for ages, and the timing was always off until now. It’s a classic play, full of twists and surprises. Stan Freeman, who wrote The Pitch, was a Pioneer Valley newswriter for 30 years, and this production is one of the first for this intriguing story. We end the season with 9 to 5: The Musical, which has been an audience favorite for years now.

For details: www.majestictheater.com

Mark Russell Smith

Springfield Symphony Orchestra Announces 76th Season

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Kevin Rhodes have announced the Orchestra’s 76th season, which celebrates Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, and brings some orchestral blockbusters to Symphony Hall. The Orchestra and Chorus will combine forces to perform Orff’s dynamic Carmina Burana; former conductor Mark Russell Smith returns to Springfield to present an all-Beethoven program, and there are many soloists onboard from pianist John Novacek to Julin Schwarz. There are new works on the bill, as well a audience favorites like Rachmaninoff’’s Piano Concerto No. 1,and  Respigi’s The Pines of Rome,

The Pops series has the annual Holiday Pops, this year with the [email protected] Chorus for a twist, Maestro Rhodes and the Orchestra performing a Valentine’s salute to Broadway love songs, and the return of a Movie Night pops, this time showcasing music from sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies.

The chamber music series returns to Longmeadow’s Twin Hills Country Club with a trio of concerts featuring SSO musicians.

For details on the upcoming season: 413-733-2291 or www.springfieldsymphony.org.

Salvatore Macchia

Of Note: 

Salvatore Macchia, Professor of Composition and String Bass at UMASS/Amherst,, has been named chair of the Department of Music and Dance. Macchia, who recently celebrated his 40th season with the department, is well-known for his work as a performer in the European and jazz traditions throughout America and Europe. His compositions have been performed throughout America, in Europe, the former Soviet Union and Japan, including performances at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in Poland, American Academy in Rome, the Computer Arts Festival in Padua, Italy, and the Aspen and Monadnock Festivals in the U.S. He is a member of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

Gary Capozziello

Keep in Mind…

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s Talcott Mountain Music Festival Series presents excerpts from two Tchaikovsky ballets, Swan Lake and Seeping Beauty,  on July 19, at the Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center . Carolyn Kuan conducts and violinist  Gary Capozziello is soloist. For details: www.hartfordsymphony.org.

The Jazz in July program at UMass/Amherst has scheduled two All Stars performances at Bezanson Hall on the Amherst campus. On July 11,  Sheila Jordan, Avery Sharpe, Earl MacDonald, Steve Johns, Jeff Holmes, Barry Ries, Bob Ferrier, Bruce Diehl, Genevieve Rose, and Ted Sullivan take the stage. On July 18, the line-up includes Luis Perdomo, Jason Palmer, Felipe Salles, Steve Davis, Catherine Jensen-Hole, Jeff Holmes, Greg Caputo, Bob Ferrier, Genevieve Rose, and Fumi Tomita. For details: www.jazzinjuly.com


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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