By Mark G. Auerbach
Mini-Reviews: Arts Online, Part One
There’s such a plethora of area arts organizations providing online content, that you have to pick and choose what to watch on any given evening. It seems, if you include national and international streaming, there are more choices in front of your computer than there were live prior to the pandemic.
What’s refreshing about the online content is the creativity in what the arts groups are programming, and the feeling that you’re behind-the-scenes or backstage or front row center at every event. There are glitches and bloopers, easily forgiven because they’re entertaining. And the glimpses into artists living spaces is so cool. I never went to a live performance before and wondered how so-and-so decorated their den.
I’m thoroughly entertained by TheaterWorks’ Get Sauced with Rob Ruggiero, the theatre’s Artistic Director, who chats with guests from his kitchen. Rob is funny, and his guests equal him in charm, so it’s like hanging out in his kitchen with the cool kids in theatre. He brought together Christiane Noll and the cast of Next To Normal for a reunion. He interviewed Jamison Stern, star of Goodspeed’s La Cage Aux Folles and TheaterWorks’ The Legend of Georgia McBride in a personal conversation. With his connections nationwide, he’s brought Tony winner Beth Leavel and others into his kitchen. Get Sauced is my must-watch program. Archived on YouTube at TheaterWorks Pearl Street. For details: www.twhartford.org.
Casual Fridays with David Adkins is one of Berkshire Theatre Group’s newest online offerings. Adkins is a veteran theatre performer, whose breakthrough performance in The Hasty Heart put him on the map in the Berkshires. (I’ve interviewed him several times for ArtsBeat, and he’s engaging and passionate about his art.). He’s got great interviewing skills. I loved his most recent chat with Jenn Harris, probably best known for her performance in multiple roles in TheaterWorks’ Christmas on The Rocks. Sign up for Berkshire Theatre Group’s e-blast list for notifications. For Adkins’ chat with Harris: https://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/casual-fridays-with-david-adkins-3/ Others are archived on Berkshire Theatre Group’s Facebook page.
The Springfield Symphony’s Homegrown Series, hosted by Maestro Kevin Rhodes, offers informal chat and musical snippets. Rhodes, a charming chatter, usually introduces a piece of music, plays an excerpt, and chats with one of the musicians. One of the most fun segments was that with Patrick McMahon, the SSO’s Education Director, who gave a demo usually reserved for kids about how the orchestra works. If Rhodes ever decides to expand his career, he’d make a fabulous late night talk show host .Homegrown programs are archived at: https://www.springfieldsymphony.org/#homegrown
Eddie Zitka, Artistic Director of K & E Theater Group, is a homegrown talent, who got a lot of professional experience, and returned to the area to create his own theatre. He’s an enthusiastic booster of the local community theatre scene, and of those from the area, who went on national careers. Eddie’s enthusiasm is infectious, and I’m always charmed by stories of local people who make it big. His K&E Local Spotlight Series launched with an appearance and performance by Meghan Lynn Allen. For archived shows, visit K and E Theater Group on YouTube.
The Arts Extension Service at UMASS/Amherst has an updated emergency resource guide for artists, arts organizations, and others in the creative economy during the pandemic. http://www.umass.edu/aes/emergencyresourcelist
The Bushnell has announced that the September performance run of Wicked has been cancelled, and that the national tour of Hadestown, scheduled for an October run in Hartford, has been postponed. For details: www.bushnell.org.
Chester Theatre Company, which earlier this spring announced the cancellation of the early part of their season, has cancelled the complete 2020 summer season. Their planned production of a commissioned work, The Life of The World to Come by Darcy Parker Bruce, is on the docket for 2021. The theatre has launched online programming. For details: www.chestertheatre.org.
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington has cancelled all performances for June and July, asnd has rescheduled some events for 2021, including Madelaine Peyroux Trio to April 28; Hot Tuna with David Grisman’s Dawg Trio to July 21; Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro in Och and Oy!: A Considered Cabaret to July 18. The Puddles Pity Party and The Brubeck Brothers will not be rescheduled. For details: www.mahaiwe.org.
Broadway Live from Lincoln Center is now streaming Broadway productions from its archives on Fridays. On June 5, they present the New York Philharmonic’s concert production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel with Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn, Jason Danieley, Jessie Mueller and Robert Fairchild. On June 12, Nathan Lane stars in Douglas Carter Beane’s dark comedy The Nance. Tony Shaloub, Santino Fontana and Andrea Martin head the cast of Moss Hart’s Act One. For details: www.lincolncenter.org/BrosdwayFridays.
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington has premiered free virtual ZOOM lectures based on content from the Metropolitan Opera Live and Bolshoi Ballet HD series, both of which were part of the Mahaiwe’s pre-pandemic season. Dance writer Marina Harss and Jacob’s Pillow curator Norton Owen chat about “Inside the Bolshoi Ballet” on June 7 at 5:30PM on ZOOM, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Bolshoi in cinemas program. To receive updates, email [email protected], and put “Met Opera” or “Inside the Bolshoi” in the subject line to reserve a space. For details: www.mahaiwe.org.
National Dance Week Live from Lincoln Center presents a Tribute to Balanchine, filmed after his death in 1983, and featuring New York City Ballet artists in some of the over 120 works he created for NYCB on June 8. On June 4, the program features the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre performing their signature ballet Revelations. For details: www.lincolncenter.org/DanceWeek
The Seth Concerts feature Broadway talents in concert. Jeremy Jordan, star of Broadway’s Waitress, American Son (which premiered at Barrington Stage), and Newsies is featured on June 13-15. Jessie Mueller, who originated the lead in Waitress, and picked up a Tony for her performance in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical performs on June 21-22. For details: https://thesethconcertseries.com/
Show of Shows: Broadway.com Salutes The Tony Awards. https://www.broadway.com/buzz/199313/show-of-shows-broadwaycom-salutes-the-tonys-to-bring-theater-fans-together-on-sunday-june-7/
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.