By Mark G. Auerbach
Hershey Felder, the pianist, playwright, and theatrical impresario, has brought his one-man portraits of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Tchaikovsky to area theatres, including Berkshire Theatre Group and Hartford Stage. Both theatres presented Felder digitally as well, in fundraisers for the venues when the pandemic began. Felder is riding out the pandemic in Florence, Italy. He’s announced a series of productions to be streamed. His season opens with A Paris Love Story, with Felder as Claude Debussy on November 22. Feldfer’s portrait of Tchaikovsky airs Dec. 20. Felder will play Yiddish writer Sholem Aleicham (whose stories inspired Fiddler on The Roof) in a program, Before Fiddler, with Klezmerata Fiorentina on Feb. 7. Felder premieres Puccinj, the story of the composer of La Boheme, Tosca, and Turandot on March 14, followed by the world premiere of Anna & Sergei, where he portrays Sergei Rachmaninoff, who has a strange meeting with Anna Anderson, the woman believed to be Anastasia, on May 16. Hartford Stage will participate in all of the screenings. For details: www.hartfordstage.org. Berkshire Theatre Group will participate in the Debussy screening. For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org. For details about Hershey Felder: www.hersheyfelder.net.
Berkshire Theatre Group has announced its holiday programming, which includes a Nov. 20-Dec. 20 performance run of Truman Capote’s Holiday Memories, to be staged in the (outside) Courtyard of The Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Russell Vandenbroucke adapted Capote’s work for the stage, and Eric Hill directs. David Adkins stars as Capote, with Tim Jones as Buddy, Corinna May as Miss Sook Falk, Daniel Garrity as “Man” and Isadora Wolfe as “Woman.” According to Kate Maguire, it’s an outdoor performance with two 30-minute acts, and the audience will be invited inside to warm up during intermission. BTG also presents the 6th Annual Children’s Holiday Extravaganza, a day-long virtual event on Nov. 29. For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.
WAM Theatre, which donates a portion of the box office proceeds from their Mainstage productions to organizations that work for gender equity locally, nationally, or internationally, scored a big hit with its recent production of Lisa Loomer’s ROE, which chronicled the backstory of Roe v. Wade. Over 1,800 people streamed the production, and WAM was able to donate $4,500 to three beneficiaries: the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts (ARFWM), the Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), and SisterSong. This brings WAM’s donation total since its founding in 2010 to more than $80,000. For details: www.wamtheatre.com
Silverthorne Theater and Time To Tell have joined forces to produce a virtual community event, Survivors’ Voices: Works of Resilience Written and Read by Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, to be staged in January. Created by Jackie Humphreys, LICSW with Donna Jenson from Time To Tell, and Lucinda Kidder from Silverthorne Theater, the presentation offers Survivors, based in the Pioneer Valley an opportunity to share their original writing regarding their experiences of CSA and their paths of healing in a creative, community-supported, and survivor-led, virtual weekend. Deadline to express an interest in participating is Nov. 11. For details: https://www.timetotell.org/survivor-voices
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents its second installment of Masterworks In-Depth with Carolyn Kuan Nov. 6-8. Maestra Kuan takes a deep dive into the music originally selected to be performed live at The Bushnell. Her guests include composer Kevin Puts and flutist Adam Walker, who had been planning to be a part of the live performances on Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Puts’ Flute Concerto. For streaming information: www.hartfordsymphony.org
Shakespeare & Company has launched a virtual November Reading Series, running Nov. 5-22, which includes three cutting-edge plays exploring race and the American dream, two staged by Regge Life. Richard Wesley’s Autumn opens the series on Nov. 5-8, followed by Kermit Frazier’s Kernel of Sanity, Nov. 12-15. The series concludes with Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, staged by Aimee K. Michel, Nov. 19-22. Online registration to view any or all the plays is required. Registration is free, but donations are requested. For details. www.shakespeare.org.
Hindsight, a three-episode podcast series, has been developed by The Piti Theatre Company in WMass and Ridgefield, CT’s Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. The podcast series, which utilizes local actors, according to Piti Director Jonathan Mirin, was created to coincide with the Museum’s exhibit, Twenty Twenty, a group show of drawings in which seven artists respond to the lived experience of this historic year. For details: www.aldrichart.org.
For A Fallen Veteran , Mark Gionfriddo’s new jazz piece commemorating those who died from COVID19 at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, will have its world premiere on Dec. 10, when performed by the Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College on their Hot Jazz on A Cold Night virtual concert. WWLP meteorologist Brian Lapis narrates. Gionfriddo, a Holyoke native, is the creator and director of The Big Broadcast! At Mount Holyoke, and Lapis is that production’s star. The concert airs on ZOOM. https://mtholyoke.zoom.us/j/
Larissa FastHorse, the Native American playwright who won a MacArthur Genius Award, will be speaking virtually on November 10 at 7 p.m. on a panel sponsored by the UMASS Fine Arts Center. WAM Theatre presents her The Thanksgiving Play on Nov. 19-22. Her presentation is free. Advance reservations required. For details: www.fineartscenter.com.
James Corden, late night TV host, won the 2012 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for his performance in Richard Bean’s comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, based on Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters. PBS Great Performances will air the National Theatre production with Corden, directed by Nicholas Hytner, beginning Nov. 6 on PBS stations. For details: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/james-corden-one-man-two-guvnors-3vihv1/12150/
Broadway’s Best are featured on PBS Great Performances on Fridays in November. The documentary, Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles airs on Nov. 13 on most PBS stations. It’s the story of the creation of the 1964 Broadway blockbuster Fiddler on The Roof, which has become a staple in theatres across the globe. On Nov. 20, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, which had its world premiere at Goodspeed Musicals down river before heading to Broadway, airs. Holiday Inn is based on the movie classic of the same name, and it’s simply superb, with Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu singing and dancing their way through a series of standards. Lea Solonga, backed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, showcases the actress, who made her Broadway debut in Miss Saigon, before starring in Les Miserables, Flower Drum Song, and Allegiance. For series details: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/broadways-best-2020-about-the-series/11997/
ArtsBeat TV/Radio chats with WAM Theatre’s Talya Kingston and Springfield Symphony Orchestra Maestro Kevin Rhodes on November 6 at 8AM on WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB. If you miss the broadcast, catch it after the fact on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaKV7wyg66M
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.