Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

Playwright Ben Scranton’s “Charlotte’s Revival” Featured at Pittsburgh’s New Works Festival.

Ben Scranton

Local playwright Ben Scranton, best known as an actor who spent seven seasons at StageWest, has written eight plays. His recent work Charlotte’s Revival, a three-character, 40 minute one-act drama, will be produced by The Pittsburgh New Works Festival, with performances scheduled at Duqesne University for five performances September 20, 21, 26, 28 and 29.

Scranton arrived at StageWest as an actor, after appearing in the national tour of Annie. He was featured in StageWest productions of Guys and Dolls, A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum, The Boys Next Door, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Nerd. He and his wife Lorrie performed concerts from the American Songbook in many venues around WMass.

Chralotte’s Revival, according to Scranton, is “the story of Charlie Walker, who runs an old movie house assisted by his teen-aged son Tommy.  While changing the movie marquee late one night, he is confronted by Charlotte Lange, a troubled and grief-stricken loner with a tragic past.  Through a series of fictional movie references, and an emotionally shattering story, she accuses Charlie of a personal indiscretion dating back to high school.  The events upend their world and force Charlie to confront his relationship with both Charlotte and his son.  His memory is tested as he struggles to do the right thing”.

Scranton has been the recipient of a Playwriting Fellowship from the MA Cultural Council; . a two-time recipient of the Robert R. Lehan Playwriting Award, Westfield State University; his plays have been performed by the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT.and in California, Florida, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

For details on the Pittsburgh New Works Festival: https://pittsburghnewworks.org

The Bob Sparkman Trio.

The Bob Sparkman Trio to Perform at Sevenars and North Hall

The Bob Sparkman Trio, an annual Sevenars Concerts tradition, ends the Sevenars season on August 18, and then returns to WMass to perform at North Hall in Huntington on September 8.  Combining the gifts of jazz clarinetist Bob Sparkman with those of Jerry Noble, classical and jazz pianist, guitarist, and composer, and Kara Noble, bass guitarist and vocalist. Clifton “Jerry” Noble is a sought-after composer of works performed internationally, as well as gifted staff pianist for Smith college, the trio is in demand around the area.

The Bob Sparkman Trio will lead you on a swingin’ jazz journey, visiting many of the nostalgic destinations in the American Songbook.  Tunes like “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” “Stars Fell On Alabama,” “Can’t Get Indiana Off My Mind,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” and “Basin Street Blues” are only a few of the stops on this magnificent musical meander.

For details on the Sevenars performance: www.sevenars.org. For details on the North Hall performance: www.northhallhuntington.org.

Of Note: 

Ruby Rakos and Michael Wartella as Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Goodspeed’s Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz.. (Photo by Diane Sobolewski.)

Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz, the musical about young Judy Garland that charmed Goodspeed audiences in 2O16, is one step closer to Broadway. New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse presents the musical, now helmed by Denis Jones, who choreographed Goodspeed’s and Broadway’s Holiday Inn and Hartford Stage’s The Flamingo Kid, Chasing Rainbows  features Ruby Rakos as Judy Garland/Frances Gumm, and Pittsfield native Michael Wartella as Mickey Rooney. Rakos and Wartella starred in Goodspeed’s production. . For details https://papermill.org/

Matthew Lopez

The Inheritance, Matthew Lopez’s epic, two-part play inspired by EM Forster’s novel Howard’s End, was named Best New Play at The Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards in London. The play, which debuted at the Young Vic and transferred to the West End, took home three top honors at the ceremony. The Inheritance, which was Lopez’ Aetna New Voices Fellowship commission, was dramaturged by Hartford Stage Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Williamson. Playwright Lopez also wrote The Legend of Georgia McBride, which was a major hit at Hartford’s TheaterWorks. The Inhertiance opens on Broadway next month. For details: https://theinheritanceplay.com/

Keep in Mind…

Boston Ballet returns to Jacob’s Pillow for the first time in over a decade, performing in the Ted Shawn Theatre, August 21-25. Under the artistic directorship of Mikko Nissinen since 2001, Boston Ballet is recognized worldwide for repertoire that is “one of the most eclectic in the country” (The New York Times). Boston Ballet’s program includes excerpts of William Forsythe’s critically acclaimed Playlist (EP), which pairs Forsythe’s daring choreography to a soundtrack pulled straight from today’s top charts; as well as Pas de Quatre and Rodin by Russian classical choreographer Leonid Yakobson; and resident choreographer Jorma Elo’s Bach Cello Suites. For details: www.jacobspillow.org.

B.R.O.K.E.N code bird S.W.I.T.C.H.I.N.G, a new play by by Tara L. Wilson Noth will have its world premiere at a free staged reading at Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre on August 23. This event is part of BTG’s ongoing series, No Boundaries in Art. Originally a web series featuring artists expressing various points of view and social commentary, the No Boundaries in Art series continues on and off the stage. In Noth’s play, A woman is tasked with representing a black teenager accused of murder. In her search for the truth, she is forced to face her own devastating truths about marriage, race and the woman she has chosen to be. For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.

John Douglas Thompson

Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s taut political drama, comes to Shakespeare & Company a staged reading for one performance on September 1. Tina Packer directs. The special staged reading features the Obie Award-winning John Douglas Thompson as Brutus along with a cast of returning Company favorites. For details: www.shakespeare.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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