As the summer winds down, there are still several new plays to open, and some special events (like the appearance of Tyne Daly, Sutton Foster and Ute Lemper) to look forward to, as well as departures, of Nicholas Martin from the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the casts of The Last Goodbye (going), Fifth of July (going). and Pool Boy (gone).
Opening Sunday – The Memory Show at Barrington Stage Company
A new musical is about to be born at Barrington Stage as The Memory Show begins its first preview tonight, in a workshop production that will officially open on Sunday evening. While these Stage 2 efforts get a full measure of props, costumes and scenery, they are still in the process of evolution, serving the same purpose as pre-Broadway road tours do for mammoth shows. Here, the book and lyrics by Sara Cooper might be tweaked, and the music by Zach Redler could also undergo change as the preview audiences exert their important influence.
The show itself is both familiar and bittersweet – with its moment of comedy – as an estranged daughter returns home to care for her mother who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The mother may forget some things, but she remembers important details of her daughter’s past.
Musical Theatre Lab curator William Finn calls The Memory Show “funny and heartbreaking and moving in many unimaginable ways. This is a story of a mother and daughter trying gamely to hold on to what they remember of each other. It’s amazing how painful hilarious can be.” The play is directed by Joe Calarco and Vadim Feichtner is music director.
It stars the incredible Catherine Cox (Broadway: Footloose, Baby, Oh! Coward) and Leslie Kritzer (Broadway: Sondheim on Sondheim, A Catered Affair, Legally Blonde). I can hardly wait to see what this team has in store for its audiences.
The Memory Show plays through August 29, Tuesday through Friday and Sundays at 7:30 pm and Saturdays at 4:00 and 8:00 pm. For tickets go to www.barringtonstageco.org
The Pool Boy Departs
I returned for the final performance of Pool Boy (original review) to see what changes time had wrought. The hustle and bustle of a new show had the actors learning new material right up to the opening, though the changes were minimal once the show opened. It seemed to me that all the actors had layered their performances with additional insights and depth, and as much as I had enjoyed the opening night, time had the effect of smoothing over some of the obvious rough spots. Composer Nikos Tsakalakos (interview) remained on hand, quietly playing with the upstage band for the entire run. I spoke with him after the last show, and he has hopes of continuing Pool Boy’s development.
There were a lot of ghosts in the audience, friends and colleagues from the Musical Theatre Lab over the years. As one of the Berkshire’s most important resources, the lab has seen many of its works in progress continue on to greater success in New York and beyond. Much of this has to be the dedication of Barrington Stage to musical theatre, and the continued involvement of Bill Finn, its curator and artistic director.
Bill Nelson’s All Male Revue
Also in the works is the return of Bill Nelson’s All Male Revue, which entertained diverse audiences last August with its hip, “out” and sophisticated songs and lyrics by the smooth Bill Nelson, as close to Noel Coward reincarnated as you are likely to see in the 21st Century. While BSC is quick to point out that “nothing’s naked but the lyrics,” they sure are delicious concoctions to savor. The cast is pretty much the same as last year with Bill Nelson playing the welcoming host. Returning are Orville Mendoza, Frank Galgano and Claibourne Elder, and one more singer to be announced. (Howie Michael Smith has another engagement and is not able to appear.)
Nelson is a highly creative soul, and no doubt there will be new gems introduced along with some familar favorites. The details of the show and casting confirmations have not yet been released, but this is looking to be a melodic and memorable evening of fun, spoofs and memories.
The Bill Nelson All Male Revue will run August 26 and 27 at 9:30 (following The Memory Show) and August 28 at 10:00 pm at Barrington’s Stage 2. It is scheduled to return October 8,9,10 at 8:00 pm.
For tickets, call the Box Office at 413-236-8888 or visit www.barringtonstageco.org
A Delicate Balance begins at Berkshire Theatre Festival
Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning play A Delicate Balance is now in previews, with the official opening set for Tuesday August 24. Albee-holics have been thirsting for a fix of the gifted playwright’s explosive drama for a very long time. Kate Maguire (interview) and the Berkshire Theatre Festival had announced plans for his Virginia Woolf but the rights were withdrawn for a New York revival halfway into the process.(backstory)
A Delicate Balance has begun performances and will run through September 4th. In the first tier cast are Keir Dullea, Lisa Emery, Jonathan Hogan, Mia Dillon, Maureen Anderman, and Mia Barron.
Edward Albee’s thought-provoking and witty drama deals withfamily tensions in an empty-nester household. Fights, alcoholism, and revelations abound in the play that won Albee not only his Pulitzer, but many other awards as well.
Hurry to the Box Office – word has it that tickets are going fast. Tickets are on sale online or at the Box Office: (413) 298-5576.
Shane McRae and Noah Bean talk about Fifth of July at Williamstown Theatre Festival
This brief interview of the actors who play the two gay characters, Kenneth Talley Jr. and Jed Jenkins in Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July (review) is very laid back, but very interesting nevertheless. We thank the Williamstown Theatre Festival for making it available.
Three Special Cabaret Evenings – Tyne Daly, Sutton Foster, Ute Lemper
We love the growing number of cabaret offerings in the Berkshires, and look forward to some special evenings in the next couple of weeks.
Tony Award-winning star Tyne Daly brings her knockout cabaret act to Barrington Stage for one night only. It is shaping up to be a special evening of heartfelt and humorous songs and stories, and it came about serendipitously when BSC artistic director Julianne Boyd visited Daly after a performance not too long ago. They swapped phone numbers and we have a happy evening in store! The concert is on Labor Day Weekend, September 2 on the BSC Mainstage, and, of course, it is a fundraiser. The $75 tickets include a reception with the star. There are lower priced seats for just the concert. For tickets, call the Box Office at 413-236-8888.
Sutton Foster recently starred on Broadway as Princess Fiona in Shrek: The Musical, for which she was honored with Tony and Drama Desk nominations, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. She is a consummate performer.
She will be bringing her cabaret performance An Evening with Sutton Foster to Berkshire Theatre Festival on August 22 at 7pm on the historic Main Stage. There are two tiers of ticket prices, with and without a reception with Foster. Contact the BTF Box Office at 413-298-5576 ext. 33 or visit www.berkshiretheatre.org to purchase tickets.
Finally, there is Ute Lemper, (BOS preview) who brings her Last Tango in Berlin show to Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre on August 27 at 8 pm. It’s an evening that celebrates the great artists of cabaret – Dietrich, Piaf, Brel and of course, Lemper herself. She is a legend. Tickets can be had by calling calling (413) 997-4444 or online at www.thecolonialtheatre.org
Berkshire Playwright Lab to Workshop Blair MacKenzie Play
A staged reading workshop production of Blair MacKenzie’s Scam directed by Tom Bloom will take place on Wednesday, August 25 at 8pm. It is another in the continuing free series at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. “
Tom Bloom has been involved with the Berkshire Playwrights Lab since its early planning stages, and is always looking out for new playwrights for us to read,” said Bob Jaffe, co-artistic director of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab. “He has been working with Blair MacKenzie on the development of Scam and thought that it was at the right stage for us to present. Having just worked with Tom as an actor on Better Than Chocolate, we are thrilled to have him back as a director with Scam.”
Of course it is as current as today. Who hasn’t received an email from some Nigerian con artist. But the play turns the tables. In Scam, when social misfit Savanna Keener brings home the Nigerian boyfriend she met online, her white suburban family is immediately suspicious. Is the handsome, sliver-tongued Morris really in love with their awkward daughter, or are his intentions more nefarious? The ensuing hilarious and poignant conflict exposes family fault lines and raises the question: Who is scamming whom? The cast for this workshop reading will include five actors to be announced.
Admission is free. For reservations, call 413.528.0100 or visit the Mahaiwe Box Office (14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, Mass.)
Women’s Action Movement Theatre
It’s not easy when you are the new kid on the block, and for professional theatre artists Kristen van Ginhoven and Leigh Strimbeck who founded WAM Theatre in 2009 it’s a struggle. But the feisty founders began an online Kickstarter campaign to raise $3500 to support their November production of Tony nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl’s contemporary farce ‘Melancholy Play’.
It is also important to note that a portion of proceeds will be donated to The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.
At week three of the KickStarter campaign, they have already raised nearly 50% of their goal, with over 30 backers making pledges towards the WAM Kickstarter project! They now have five weeks left to raise the remaining funds.
To join their WAM Kickstarter adventure and help WAM reach their $3500 goal by October 1, 2010, all you have to do is go to www.kickstarter.com and search for WAM or go directly to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/WAMTheatre/wam-theatre-presents-sarah-ruhls-melancholy-play
The deal with Kickstarter is that you make a pledge towards the goal, and at the end of the challenge, if the goal is met, your pledge is turned into a donation.