Arts Beat

By Mark G. Auerbach

New Leadership at Goodspeed Musicals


Goodspeed Musicals’ Board of Trustees have selected Donna Lynn Hilton as the new artistic director and David B. Byrd as the new managing director of the two-time Tony Award-winning theatre. Hilton and Byrd will succeed Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed’s executive director, who retired at the end of 2020

Donna Lynn Hilton arrived at Goodspeed Musicals in 1988 and has been a creative force at the organization ever since. For the past 13 years, Hilton has been Goodspeed’s highly respected producer, responsible for guiding productions and musical development at the Goodspeed Opera House and The Terris Theatre. During her tenure, she led the expansion of Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals and the creation of the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Grove at Goodspeed Musicals. Her work has impacted the development of new musicals and revivals not only on Goodspeed’s stages, but in regional theatres across the country, on Broadway, and the United Kingdom, earning her an international reputation as a leader in the field.


David B. Byrd’s career in the professional regional theatre has spanned 20 years with his most recent position as managing director of Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, Virginia. Prior to his work in Norfolk, Byrd was managing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he introduced a new play program and produced a novel collaboration with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. He also served as adjunct professor in the UT-Knoxville Department of Theatre. No stranger to Connecticut, he has held leadership positions at Yale Repertory Theater (associate managing director) and Westport Country Playhouse (director of marketing) and is a graduate of the Yale University School of Drama.

For details: www.goodspeed.org.

The Capitol Steps, the musical political satire troupe which had been putting the mock in democracy for almost 40 years, has closed-up shop, a victim of the pandemic. They had performed annually in the Berkshires for many summers, plus weekly in Washington, DC and on tours across the country. Some of their material lives on their website and YouTube channel. For details: www.capsteps.com.

Chester Theatre Company will be partnering with Hancock Shaker Village for the 2021 summer season. The three-show season will take place outdoors under a tent on the 750-acre grounds of the living history museum. This is a temporary change in location for the safety of audiences, performers, staff and crew due to restrictions caused by COVID-19. The season will be titled Chester@Hancock. For details: www.chestertheatre.org.


“Celestial Graces: A Remembrance of Nadine Shank,” will be aired Jan. 31 by the UMass Amherst Department of Music and Dance on its YouTube channel. The virtual concert features excerpts of performances by the beloved pianist at UMass and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, who died last year after a short, valiant fight against Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare form of progressive dementia. Among those featured in the concert are pianist Giles Vonsattel, pianist Estela Olevsky, and saxophonist Lynn Klock. For details: http://www.umass.edu/music/music-and-dance or https://www.youtube.com/user/umassmusicdance

TheaterWorks Hartford has changed the streaming dates of its upcoming production, “Talkin’ To This Chick Sippin’ Magic Potion” by James Anthony Tyler. The work in development will now stream Feb. 7-26. Their reason for the postponement was detailed in a thoughtful, appropriate, response. https://twhartford.org/we-are-paused/

Broadway World announced its 2020 Berkshires Awards winner. The awards, voted upon by theatre fans, showered accolades on Barrington Stage and Berkshire Theatre Group. For details: https://www.broadwayworld.com/boston/article/Winners-Announced-For-The-2020-BroadwayWorld-Berkshires-Awards-Barrington-Stage-Berkshire-Theatre-Group-Take-Home-Wins-20210105

Berkshire Theatre Group received a $100,000 grant from the Cultural Organization Economy Recovery Grant program through the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The grant supports losses sustained during the COVID19 pandemic. For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.

Chester Theatre Company received a $45,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The grant supports losses sustained during the COVID19 pandemic. For details: www.cheatertheatre.org.


Mike Wartella, the Berkshires actor who made a splash on Broadway in “Tuck Everlasting” and “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory,” has released his debut solo album, Polarity, featureng original songs in a mix of pop, rock and folk genres. Wartella played Mickey Rooney in the Broadway-bound musical “Chasing Rainbows: The Road To Oz” at Goodspeed and Paper Mill. He returned home last summer to star in Berkshire Theatre Group’s “Godspell.” Polarity is available of the Everblue label. For details: https://music.apple.com/us/album/polarity-ep/1544416090


Marilyn R Atlas, the Hollywood talent/literary manager and producer, is presenting two ZOOM seminars for Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, one on creative memorable characters on Jan. 23, and one on how to pitch a script on Jan. 30. For details: www.berkshirefilm.org.

“Survivors’ Voices: Works of Resilience” written and read by survivors of childhood sexual abuse, will be presented in a live ZOOM event by Silverthorne Theater on Jan. 22-24. Each showcase will highlight 8-9 survivors reading their original writing and then a dialogue between the audience and the artists. Advance registration is required. For details: https://silverthornetheater.org/event/survivors-voices-event/

Kathryn Lockwood, viola professor at the UMass Department of Music and Dance, will perform a free solo recital on Jan. 22, livstreamed from Bezanson Recital Hall at the UMass Fine Arts Center. Lockwood is a member of the world music duo Jalal. The program features works by Bach, Reger, and Kurtag. For details: https://www.umass.edu/music/event/faculty-recital-kathryn-lockwood-viola

The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) Victory Theatre and New England Public Media (NEPM) are partnering to present El Puerto Rico 3: Identity Duets to audiences across the region, with two virtual airings on Jan. 23-24. These special debut concerts will feature new MIFA commissioned works by six contemporary Puerto Rican composers performed by the Victory Players Contemporary Music Ensemble under the direction of Music Director Tianhui Ng. For details: at www.mifafestival.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.


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