By Mark G. Auerbach
Live Performances Continue at Barrington Stage
Barrington Stage dropped plans to do an outdoor concert version of South Pacific, and instead, in the tradition of the theatre’s popular Mr. Finn’s Cabaret, will present The Hills Are Alive with Rodgers and Hammerstein, an evening of showtunes standards by the duo who created blockbusters from The King and I to The Sound of Music. From August 19-29, in an outdoor tent at Pittsfield’s Polish Community Club, Julianne Boyd stages the concert with music direction by Darren R. Cohen. The cast includes: Alan H. Green, Storm Lever, Nicholas Rodriguez, Alexandra Silber and Alysha Umphress. Umphress’ powerhouse performance in Barrington Stage’s On The Town launched her move to Broadway in that production. The opening performance is dedicated to health care workers and first responders.
And, Barrington Stage celebrates the world of cabaret with some other concerts, including Marilyn Maye in Party Time (August 24). Maye is 92, but she is, according to Rex Reed, “the real deal”. Her performances in concert, which combine theatrical flair and jazz influences, are legend. Ann Hampton Callaway brings her new show The Linda Ronstadt Songbook to Barrington Stage on August 31-September 1. Billy Stritch accompanies her on piano. On September 6, Broadway’s Leslie Kritzer, accompanied by husband Vadim Feichtner on piano, brings her cabaret show Is It Over Yet? To Pittsfield. Krtizer made a splash on Broadway in Legally Blonde and Beetlejuice, and her performance as Fanny Brice in a Paper Mill production of Funny Girl, had a special buzz going that she might be the first Brice on Broadway since Barbra. She had a hit cabaret show in New York, Leslie Kritzer is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches.
Barrington Stage has added Jeffrey Hatcher’s comic Three Viewings, a series of monologues set in a funeral home, to the roster, with Debra Jo Rupp starring in the production staged by Julianne Boyd, September 9-20. Rupp, who starred on TV’s That 70’s Show, is well-known to area theatregoers. The Berkshires resident has starred in Barrington Stage’s The Cake, Dr. Ruth: All The Way, which became Becoming Dr. Ruth (which she also played at TheaterWorks in Hartford and Off-Broadway) and To Kill A Mockingbird. She has also starred in shows at Williamstown Theatre Festival and Berkshire Theatre Group, and most recently, opposite Mark H. Dold in the online [email protected].
Also coming to Barrington Stage is Mark St. Germain’s new play, Eleanor, in a staged reading directed by Henry Stram, September 4-5. Tony Award-winning actress Harriet Harris, seen recently in Berkshire Theatre Group’s The Skin of Our Teeth and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All and Barrington Stage’s The Royal Family of Broadway, plays famed First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.For details: www.barringtonstageco.org.
Hartford Stage has cancelled its entire 2020-21 live theatre season, although they plan to offer a robust series of online programs. The Not-So-Complete History of Comedy (Online) opens their fall season on September 17, followed by A Broadway Evening with Hartford Stage on October 9. Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone and The Prom) co-stars with her partner Adam Heller from Hartford Stage’s The Flamingo Kid and Goodspeed’s Fiddler on The Roof. A New Works Festival is scheduled in November, and A Community Carol will live online during the holidays. Subscribers with tickets for the 2020-21 season should contact Hartford Stage at www.HartfordStage.org. Hartford Stage is the first year-round operation in the area to shutter live performances for 2020-21, although others may follow, and some organizations including The Springfield Symphony Orchestra and The UMASS Fine Arts Center have not, as yet, announced their upcoming season plans.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra introduces the HSO Summer Splash Series of hour-long chamber music ensemble concerts performed in and around Hartford. Concert locations and dates are: August 12 at noon (raindate August 14) at the Wadsworth Atheneum lawn; August 12 at 6:30PM (raindate August 13) at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. A second Hill-Stead concert will be held on August 20 at 6:30PM (raindate TBD) and the concert series ends on August 25 (raindate August 26) at the Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center. All of the concerts are free, but advance tickets are required. No walk-ups are permitted. Register (and read the information about safety) at www.hartfordsymphony.org.
Keep in Mind…
ArtsBeat TV/Radio features a dialogue with two area theatre artists: WAM Theatre co-founder Kristen Van Ginhoven and Taneisha Duggan of TheaterWorks. They discuss the changes theatres must make to accommodate and showcase voices missing from area stages. Tune in or stream at 8AM on Friday on WCPC15, 89.5fm/WSKB, westfieldtv.org, wskb.org, or watch on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVSHgj3eIl0
Kashmir, the Led Zeppelin tribute band, performs a live drive-in concert on August 29 at the sports field behind the Westfield Boys and Girls Club, who is a beneficiary of the fundraiser. Gaslight Entertainment and The Music Department are the presenters. Kashmr perform coast-to-coast performing the heartfelt ballads and rock anthems of one of America’s enduring music groups, whose music is an essential part of every classic rock station playlist. For details: www.purplepass.com.
The Berkshire Drive-In, a co-venture of The Berkshire International Film Festival and Shakespeare and Company, present The Berkshire Drive-In; a “Pop-up Drive-in” summer series on the campus of Shakespeare and Company in Lenox. Films are shownThursday through Sunday evenings through September 13, This week’s screenings include: Beethoven in Beijing (Thursday) and award-winning animated shorts from the Palm Springs International Animation Festival on Sunday. For the complete line-up: https://biffma.org/drive-ins/
Berkshire Theatre Group is presenting Bobbie’s Summer Series of live concerts for adults and kids at a tent on their Unicorn Theatre campus in Stockbridge. David Grover, former lead guitarist for Arlo Guthrie and a major presence in music making for children of all ages, performs a kid’s concert on August 15. James Barry, the actor/director and musician whose Corona Covers are making waves nationally, performs Beatles Songs for Kids on August 22. For the adults, highlights include Misty Blues Duo (August 14) Wanda Houston celebrating the diversity of women in jazz (August 21) and more. 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 TV/Radio for WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB, and is a contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio.