by Mark G. Auerbach
Berkshire Theatre Group’s 91st season, spread among its three theatres–Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre, and Stockbridge’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage and Unicorn Theatre, brings a new musical with Broadway aspirations, a new production of an under-appreciated tuner with contributions from Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Wicked’s Stephen Schwartz, acclaimed works from Thornton Wilder and Edward Albee, world premieres, a Gershwin portrait with Hershey Felder, and more to WMass this season. Kate Maguire, BTG’s CEO and Artistic Director, announced the season, and some of the directors, but casts and designers will be announced later. Tickets go on sale February 15.
In Association with Caiola Productions, BTG will present the new musical Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story, at The Colonial. The new musical chronicles the incredible rise and fall of Alan Freed, the man who coined the phrase rock and roll and brought its sound to the world. He discovered black artists—and got them record deals. He traveled the country—and got them heard from coast to coast. He spoke to the younger generation—and brought them to their feet. By the dawn of the ’60s, he was the biggest name in music—until scandal made him the biggest target in America.
Working is based on Studs Terkel’s book, adapted by Stephen Schwartz of Wicked and Nina Faso, which had a brief yet critically acclaimed Broadway run years ago. Further revised by Gordon Greenberg, it features music by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Schwartz, James Taylor and others. James Barry, who staged BTG’s powerhouse Million Dollar Quartet, directs.
Hershey Felder brings his musical portrait George Gershwin Alone to The Colonial. You may have seen him portraying Tchaikovsky at Hartford Stage, where he’ll be presenting his musical portrait of Irving Berlin this summer. He’s a brilliant actor, pianist, and musicologist, and his Gershwin work has been seen around the country.
BTG’s community musical will be Shrek: The Musical, staged by Travis Daly, with musical direction by The Big Broadcast’s Mark Gionfriddo.
Non-musical offerings include a new production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Skin Of Our Teeth, to be directed by David Auburn on The Fitzpatrick Main Stage. Wilder is known for Our Town and The Matchmaker, which was adapted into Hello Dolly. Eric Hill directs Edward Albee’s Tony winner The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Karen Allen, stage and screen director, who recently won acclaim for her film A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud, directs John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mulligar.
What We May Be, Kathleen Clark ‘s new play follows a troupe of actors who learn that their beloved theatre may fold. Gregg Edelman stages the world premiere. Mark Harelik,actor and author of The Immigrant, stages his new play What The Jews Believe, which comes to the Unicorn, in association with The American National Theatre.
For complete season details: https://www.berkshiretheatregroup.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 Radio for 89.5fm/WSKB.