By Mark G. Auerbach
Norm Lewis, the Broadway star who was the first African American to star as the Phantom in Broadway’s The Phantom of The Opera, brings his club act to Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Theatre tent on July 2-3. The SAG and Tony Award nominee won rave reviews for his Broadway stints in Porgy and Bess (opposite Audra McDonald), Les Miserables, Side Show, and The Little Mermaid. Lewis is currently starring in the SAG, Critics Choice, and NAACP Image Award-nominated Netflix film “Da 5 Bloods” by Spike Lee and in the Hulu miniseries, Mrs. America. For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.
Carolee Carmello: My Outside Voice. The three-time Tony Award nominee (who played Dolly Levi in the touring Hello, Dolly! at the Bushnell, comes to Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Theatre tent on July 9. She’ll be singing songs from her 14 Broadway shows and more. Her credits include Mamma Mia, Parade, and Scandalous for the stage, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for TV. For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org..
Glory Denied, the gripping tale of an American family during the Vietnam War is the true story of Colonel Jim Thompson, America’s longest-held prisoner of war. Berkshire Opera Festival launches its second stage series with the opera Glory Denied, which was written and composed by Tom Cipullo, based on the book by Tom Philpott. The production, sung in English will have two performances, July 22 and 24, at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington. Daniel Belcher, Caroline Worra, John Riesen, and Maria Valdez star. Sarah Ina Meyers directs and Geoffrey Larson conducts. For details: https://www.berkshireoperafestival.org/glory-denied
Summer of Simone. Nina Simone, musician, composer, and artist to be exact. Berkshire Theatre Group celebrates the late artist with Christina Ham’s play with music, Nina Simone: Four Women (Aug. 13-Sept. 5 at The Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. Goodspeed Musicals has added a new musical, Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical to its Goodspeed by the River Series, running Aug. 4-29. The Goodspeed production features Springfield native, Broadway artist Laiona Michelle as the music legend. Michelle wrote and conceived the musical with the support of Goodspeed. For details on Berkshire Theatre Group’s production: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org. For details on Goodspeed by The River: www.goodspeed.org. Sevenars Concerts opens its 53rd season with its annual Schrade Family Concert on July 11, in Worthington. The concert series, founded by the late Robert and Rolande Schrade, and featuring the Schrades with their five siblings all with first names beginning with “R”, hence the Seven R’s, always opens with family members. Three family members, Rorianne Schrade, Lynelle James, and Christopher James perform a program of Lizst Rhapsodies, Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel, and music of Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and William Grant Still. Tickets are available at the door. For details: www.sevenars.com.
King Lear opens Shakespeare & Company’s new season in a new performance space, The New Spruce Theatre, with performances through Aug. 28. Veteran actor Christopher Lloyd stars in Shakespeare’s tragedy about an aging king who must divide his estate amongst his three daughters. Nicole Ricciardi directs. For details: www.shakespeare.org.
Just A Reminder, as theatres and concert venues reopen, their administrators are working to achieve protocols that protect audiences, onstage and backstage talent, and those working in the theatre and on the grounds. Many venues will require advance reservations, paperless tickets and playbills, and social distancing, traffic patterns in the theatres, and masks. Check with the venues before you go.
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and The Yale School of Drama. He has worked for arts organizations nationwide, and reported on the arts for print and broadcast. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat, Athenaeum Spotlight and On The Mark for WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB. He’s a regular contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio and a member of the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association.