Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

New Shows For the New Year

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical is Playhouse on Park’s first show of the New Year. Performances at the West Hartford theatre are January 15-February 2. The musical, by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, is a loving re-creation of 20 or so of Rosemary Clooney’s popular songs and a fresh, remarkably personal, and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend. With her signature songs woven in and out, we learn both the story of her successes on film, radio, and TV, as well as her struggles in her personal life. It features many of Clooney’s signature hits, including “Hey There (You with the Stars in your Eyes),” “Tenderly,” and “Come On-A My House” Susan Haefner, who originated the title role, will be starring as Rosemary Clooney; Kyle Brand will direct, with music direction by Robert James Tomasulo and choreography by MK Lawson. For details: www.playhouseonpark.org.


The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington has announced several concerts for its 2020 season. will present concerts by Gin Blossoms on March 6; Madeleine Peyroux on April 17; and Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro in Och & Oy: A Considered Cabaret on Sunday, July 19 at 7:00pm. Tickets are now on sale. For details: www.mahaiwe.org.

Westfield Concerts begins the New Year with a January Music Weekend. KICK: The INXS Experience kicks off the weekend on January 10. James Montgomery performs on January 11, and Porter Carroll Jr wraps up the weekend on January 12. The series is powered by Gaslight Entertainment, and the concerts are held at The Westfield Woman’s Club in downtown Westfield. For details: www.westfieldconcerts.com.


K & E Theater Group has announced their first production of the 2020 season, the musical Altar Boyz, scheduled to run April 16-19 in Northampton. For details: ketg.org

Of Note:

A Crossing, a new musical co-conceived by Mark St. German and co-conceived, directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, was given a developmental presentation on December 13 at the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio in New York. Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, commissioned and produced the musical, which features a book by St. Germain and music and lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, in association with Calpulli Mexican Dance Company. A Crossing is a new dance musical that follows the lives of a group of migrants crossing the Mexican-American border. For details: www.barringstonstageco.org.

Barrington Stage Company, under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, announced the 2019 Associate Artists: actor Alan H. Green, composer Joe Iconis, costume designer Sara Jean Tosetti and actress Peggy Pharr Wilson. Previous honorees have included: choreographer Joshua Bergasse, director Joe Calarco, costume designer Jen Caprio, music director Darren R. Cohen, actor Mark H. Dold, actress Gretchen Egolf, music director Vadim Feichtner, composer/lyricist William Finn, actor/director Christopher Innvar, production stage manager Renee Lutz, actor Jeff McCarthy, casting director Pat McCorkle, lighting designer Scott Pinkney, scenic designer Brian Prather, director John Rando, actress Debra Jo Rupp, press director Charlie Siedenburg, actress Elizabeth Stanley and playwright Mark St. Germain. For details: www.barringtonstageco.org.

MIFA Victory Theatre announced its acquisition of 134 Chestnut Street in downtown Holyoke, a key development in the Victory’s restoration and reopening. The property, which adjoins the back of the theater, was acquired on November 5, 2019. The Victory faces 81-89 Suffolk Street. For details:  https://mifafestival.org/


David Sanford, Mount Holyoke Music Professor and director of the Pittsburgh Collective was honored by the New York Times for his composition Black Noise, chosen as one of the 25 best classical music tracks of 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=44&v=f4-sd2VAtvc&feature=emb_logo

Keep in Mind…

The Nutcracker

The Albany Berkshire Ballet performs its 45th annual production of The Nutcracker on Saturday, December 21, at Springfield Symphony Hall. There are two performances at 1PM and 4:30PM. Local youths Hannah Markel of Southwick, MA, and Emalie Mendes of Chicopee, MA will perform in the student lead role of Clara, each appearing in one performance. The professional company is also joined by 150 WMass students ages 4-18. Albany Berkshire Ballet’s production is choreographed by Madeline Cantarella Culpo and features sets by Carl Sprague and costumes designed by Rita Watson & Victile Donahue, For details: www/albanyberkshireballet.org.

Rock Voices  provides singing opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels to come together as a community and harmonize together!  Founded by Tony Lewchner, who serves as the company’s Executive Director, and resident director of The Rock Voices choruses, in Hadley, Northampton, and Brattleboro, says the ensemble’s mission is to “heal ourselves and others through song”, accompanied by a live band. For details on Rock Voices: Rockvoices.com. The group performs on January 11 at The Academy of Music Theater in Northampton. For details: www.aomtheater.com.


Sam Newsome, saxophonist and composer, performs on December 19, at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, under the auspices of Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares. New York-based Sam Newsome works primarily in the medium of solo saxophone, an approach for which he gained world-wide critical acclaim with his 2009 recording, Blue Soliloquy: Solo Works for Soprano Saxophone, which received a five-star review in Downbeat magazine. For details: www.jazzshares.org.

The Capitol Steps, frequent visitors to Western New England, have recorded their annual Politics Takes A Holiday public radio special for New Year’s Eve. The show features some of their current musical spoofs along with some of their oldies. 89.5fm/WSKB in Westfield, will air the special, along with other radio stations coast-to-coast. For details: http://www.capsteps.com/radio/

After The Island, David Rowland’s sequel to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, will have a staged reading under the auspices of Shakespeare Stage, December 20-21 at A.P.E. @ Hawley, 33 Hawley Street, Northampton. Julian Findlay directs. Tickets are available at the door for the 7:30PM performances. For details: [email protected]

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, and is a contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio.

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