By Mark G. Auerbach
TheaterWorks Hartford has announced its 2021-22 season with a mix of virtual and live performances, with subscription and membership options. A new musical, “Monstersongs,” staged by Jenn Thompson, opens the season in October, followed by Harrison David Rivers’ “This Bitter Earth,” beginning in February. Rob Ruggiero stages Matthew Lopez’ “Zoe’s Perfect Wedding” in spring 2022. Lopez penned “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” one of TheaterWorks’ biggest hits. Madeline George’s zany “Hurricane Diane” closes the season next summer. The online projects have not been announced, and there’s a gap in their season around the holidays, which may (please) mean that “Christmas on The Rocks” returns. Masks and proof of vaccination will be required. For details: www.twhartford.org.
The UMass Fine Arts Center has announced its 2021-22 season, which will feature a mix of virtual and on-site programming, beginning with online performances by the famed classical-crossover collective Kronos Quartet on Sept. 28; a conversation with violinist Jennifer Koh, opera singer Davóne Tines, composer Ken Ueno, and dramaturg Kee-Yoon Nahm on their anti-racist artistic collaboration; and the family-friendly musical theater piece “Sugar Skull!,” celebrating the tradition and spirit of Día de los Muertos. In-person shows are currently scheduled to begin in late October with the Massachusetts premiere of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s new work on the nature of recovery, “Afterwardsness.” Additional in-person performers taking the stage at the Fine Arts Center in 2021 will include violinist Jennifer Koh, singer/songwriter Martha Redbone, classical guitarist Christopher Ladd, pianist and Billy Taylor Jazz artist-in-residence Christian Sands, and circus troupe Acrobuffos.
The Fine Arts Center’s 2022 lineup includes dance, jazz, rock, folk, and traditional sounds from around the globe with ticketed shows from Nobuntu, the female a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe; Canadian circus troupe Cirque FLIP Fabrique; classical guitarist and multiple Latin Grammy nominee Berta Rojas; a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration with Irish ensemble Danú; a family-friendly Pacific and Indian Ocean islander production of music, film and dance from “Small Island Big Song”; cross-genre taiko drumming from the Kenny Endo Contemporary Ensemble; innovative jazz clarinetist Anat Cohen Quartetinho; Philly folk-rock star Amos Lee; a confluence of wide-ranging jazz, classical and Indian traditional sounds from Adam Rudolph/Go Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive; and ending with a set from the unparalleled masters of modern dance, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. For the full season line-up, and exhibition schedule for the UMass Galleries, COVID safety requirements (mask plus proof of vaccination): www.fineartscenter.com
With the TheaterWorks and UMass Fine Arts Center seasons announced, the only area cultural organization to not announce plans for a season is the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. But MOSSO, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, have organized some performances of their own, including a concert Aug. 28 at Stearns Square in Springfield, and Sept. 4 at NOSH in downtown Springfield. For their evolving schedule: www.springfieldsymphonymusicians.com/events.
Rachel Bay Jones, star of Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Pippin,” performs on the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Colonial Concert Series in Pittsfield on Sept. 4. The Tony Award winner was also featured on TV’s “Modern Family.” For details: www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.
Chester Theatre Company closes their season at Hancock Shaker Village with “Tiny Beautiful Things,” a theatrical adaptation of Cheryl Strayad’s “Dear Sugar” advice column. Daniel Elihu Kramer directs the comedy, which runs through Aug. 29. Berkshire audience favorite Tara Franklin stars, opposite James Barry, and Candace Barrett Birk and Taavon Gamble appear in the production. For details: www.chestetheatre.org.
Old Country Road performs country and bluegrass on Aug. 29, on the Huntington Town Green, as part of the Historic North Hall’s free outdoor concert series. In case of rain, this concert will be held inside Stanton Hall next to the Green. Old Country Road keeps the sound of vintage traditional country music alive with songs from the Golden Age of country music and bluegrass favorites, including songs by Hank Williams, Carl Smith, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Faron Young, and many others. For details: www.northhallhuntington.org.
Mark G. Auerbach studied theater 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.