For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings visit GailSez.org
In this episode, the writers wonder what they will do with themselves if they don’t see any theatre this weekend. There are slim pickings in the Berkshires, so they decide to explore offerings a little further afield.
Larry Murray: I really need your help Gail because I think we’ve hit it, the slowest time of the year for interesting theatre. Call me a curmudgeon but from the paltry calendar there’s simply nothing I want to see. I’ve even been snapping at press agents when they call about summer stuff. Why must we wait for good stuff, I ask.
Shows here! Shows there! And yet there are none that get my blood rushing this weekend. That just never happens.
Gail Burns: Oh, calm down, there’s lots of community and college productions.
Larry: You are right, but that’s not my cup of tea. In the Northern Berkshires there’s “Cannibal: The Musical” by Minerva Stage at the Polish Hall in Adams, Williams College Theatreis doing “The Importance of Being Earnest” (which seems to be all about the professors and not about the students who act in it and are not even named in their promotion).
Also at Williams is the Studio Series which presents “Soldier” in the ’62 Center, again with few details. Yorick, the MCLA Shakespeare club, is doing “King Lear” in their Venable Theatre but the seating there is uncomfortable, designed for short small people from the last century. The tried and true Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe (RBIT) is at the Spectrum Playhouse in Lee on Friday, and then they move on to Mill City’s space in Heritage Park in North Adams on Saturday. They’re clever and funny, and very tempting since you never know what will happen, yet they fall into the category of old friends.
Dare I mention that there is yet another interminable work-in-progress “showing” at Mass MoCA by a company that will wax poetic about stone building foundations in Vermont. And it is only partially fleshed out from what I gathered in Jeremy Goodwin’s Advocate article. It’s not even ready for a workshop, my guess it is still in the experimental stage, so that is too early for me. What do you see out there?
Gail: Well I might be tempted by the work-in-progress at MoCA because I am still, at heart, a flakey Sarah Lawrence girl, and all the Rodger & Hammerstein and Agatha Christie I have to review gets a bit much. I long for the avant garde and cutting edge, and besides I am a real fan of early New England stonework, although I agree with you that it may not be that theatrical. But to quote from Habakkuk (and not enough people do!): “The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.” (Habakkuk 2:11)
Larry: I was up for this work until the Mass MoCA release described it not as a play but a “showing.” Like it’s some precious piece of art on the wall or maybe a movie. And watching the videos from this much decorated company, my eyes glazed over. Everything is stated as a question, you know? Every sentence ends with an upward inflection? And there are so many students involved so it must be wonderful? It seems more of a term project or field trip than creative theatre. I am tempted to go because I just must be wrong about this, but their pr really sucks. I think they believe in “branding” when they really need to learn about paying attention to the audience as much as themselves.
Gail: On the other hand, this is a weekend I wish I lived in the Capital Region because there’s a ton of interesting stuff over there.
Larry: That is a blessing of this area, we are surrounded by culture. Our readers are heading to Boston to see “Fela!” (must be the half price tickets featured on our home page) and the Big Apple Circus if my statistics can be trusted. I’ve posted half a dozen out of town events since the offerings here are so thin right about now.
So let’s pursue the Albany area for the moment, what’s the top attraction there, is it worth the drive?
Gail: Classic Theatre Guild’s production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” (Click me) at Proctors has gotten good reviews, Capital Rep is opening Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” the RPI Players are doing my new favorite musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and Home Made Theater in Saratoga has a production of Neil Simon’s hilarious “Rumors” on the boards.
But my favorite pick is “The Whipping Man” which had its world premiere at Barrington Stage in 2010 and is running at Curtain Call Theatre through May 12. We both loved that one at BSC, and you interviewed the playwright Matthew Lopez, didn’t you?
Larry: Yes, Matt really did a great job on “The Whipping Man” and when I interviewed him he was still adding to the script. (Interview with Lopez) It is a solid work, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that harrowing play again. Looking beyond this weekend what do you see coming up that might really be hot?
Gail: Well we’ve elected to see C-R Productions’ “Hair” at the Cohoes Music Hall (and I WILL wear tie-dye even if it snows!) and “Amadeus” at the Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall, but that only scratches the surface of the early May openings.
Next weekend Albany Civic Theatre opens “The Farnsworth Invention” for a three week run and the Schenectady Civic Players open “The Real Thing” by Tom Stoppard, one of my favorite playwrights. For opera lovers like you Mosaic Arts is presenting Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” for two performances in the Little Theatre at Russell Sage.
But if I had all the time and money in the world I would head east instead of west next weekend or the one after and see the Greene Room Productions’ staging of the edgy new musical “Spring Awakening” at the Academy of Music Theatrein Northampton, MA.
I have seen a staging of an English translation of the original 1890/1 play by Frank Wedekind which was revolutionary in its own right then and now.
Larry: I also saw the original, and it was heavy slogging, though it had its moments. The musical has some real zip and energy.
Gail: This musical version with a score by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater is no less shocking, and it swept the Tonys in 2007. GRP is a youth theatre company and this is a play about teenagers. This could be an electric production!
Larry: It sounds like you will soldier on Gail, but I’m putting up the Ghost Light this weekend. It’s what we theatre people do when the stage is going to be dark and empty for a while. In the end, it may be the only chance I get to rest up for the crazy schedule we keep from May to August.
A click is heard. A single bright bulb starts shining in the middle of the stage as the players exit…