Curtain Up! The 2012 Season Begins this Weekend

The Season Begins

The goalposts have been moved, and the measure of the “summer” season begins to be taken this weekend as two of our four resident theatre companies light up their stages. Also revving the engines are MassMoCA, the Colonial Theatre and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center as they prepare for the long sprint ahead. Best of all, a new Cabaret will open with great talent on stage.

In decades past the Berkshire “season” – meant the period when when the “hot and bothered” out-of-state visitors would arrive to spend their “cool and bucolic” summers. For decades that was never before the Independence Day weekend. Now it begins as we celebrate Memorial Day. Tourist tip: Bring a sweater.

Barrington Stage Triple Header – Dedication, Upstairs, Downstairs

Over at 36 Linden Street in Pittsfield, where the feisty Barrington Stage Company (BSC) has just bought the VFW building, things are really buzzing. Saturday at 2:00 is the facility’s official dedication as the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center. Upstairs BSC’s Stage 2 has been operating there for several years, and will be renamed the St.Germain Stage. Downstairs the new Mr. Finn’s Cabaret will open for the first time with Joe Iconis and Family on stage. Named after composer and lyricist Bill Finn who watches over the company’s Musical Theatre Lab, it promises to be an exciting new venue for Pittsfield, and indeed, the Berkshires.

Lungs Opens, plus Free Talk with Actors

Lungs is a new play that moves at a torrid pace, written by Duncan Macmillan and directed by Aaron Posner the adapter/director of last season’s hit My Name Is Asher Lev. Lungs begins performances this week and officially opens on Sunday afternoon. It runs from May 23-June 10.

The play is a continuation of thought provoking works that this company is becoming increasingly known for, as if being the best presenter of musicals in the Berkshires was not enough! We take a deep look at this work in our earlier preview.

This theatrical outing takes place in a time of global anxiety and political unrest, as we meet a young couple who is contemplating having a child. If they overthink it, they’ll never do it. But if they rush, it could be a disaster. What will be the first to destruct – the planet or the relationship? Welcome to their conundrum.

Kicking off the weekend is one of the company’s free Conversations with… as Julianne Boyd and the cast of Lungs discuss the show on May 25 at 4:30pm. It makes for a great follow up if you have seen one of the previews, or a prequel if you haven’t. Reservations are highly recommended.

This week’s performances of Lungs are Wednesday to Saturday at 7:30. with matinees on Saturday at 4:00 and 7:30 and Sunday at 3:00. After the opening the Saturday evening performance will move to 8:00. Ticket Information below.

Mr. Finn’s Cabaret

An intimate new club setting is perfect for songwriters and performers who make really personal music. Bill Finn has been creating such gems for years, from A New Brain to Falsettos and his Putnam County Spelling Bee, all have won him accolades and awards. But he is the first one to share the stage with rising (and risen) talents.

Earlier we reported on the performers and dates that will be appearing there in a special feature story which you can find here.

Joe Iconis and his merry band return to Barrington this summer for a fun evening of Iconis tunes, both classic and brand spankin’ new. Featuring singalongs, three hanky ballads, persnickety character pieces, exhilarating stompers and more. Fire up your washboard and polish your whiskey glass – this is what entertainment is all about.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings, May 25-26 at 9:30, immediately following the performance upstairs on the St. Germain Stage.

If you are not familiar with Joe, he is the writer for the upcoming Musical Theatre Lab workshop production of The Black Suits and was last at Barrington Stage in 2011 with his hit cabaret.

Barrington Stage Tickets

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Barrington Stage Box Office at 413-236-8888 or visit www.barringtonstageco.org. The Box Office is located at 30 Union Street.

Cassandra Speaks begins Season at Shakespeare & Company

Shakespeare & Company has actually been hosting performances since the beginning of the new year, but their first major play of the new season begins this weekend and runs to September 2. Cassandra Speaks is written by Norman Plotkin and directed by Nicole Ricciardi. For an in-depth look at this fascinating work, check out our preview. Here’s a synopsis:

In a tour de force performance, critically acclaimed actor Tod Randolph portrays Dorothy Thompson, the complex journalistic icon who Time Magazine once called the most influential woman in America next to Eleanor Roosevelt. A trusted advisor to many world leaders, Thompson was the first foreign correspondent to be expelled from Nazi Germany on the personal order of Adolf Hitler. In this tell-all tale, we join Dorothy amidst the chaos of last-minute wedding day preparations, but Thompson spends more time regaling over her colorful career than she does getting ready to tie the knot.

Tickets

Cassandra Speaks runs from May 25 through September 2 in S&Co.’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox. You can call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit www.shakespeare.org.

Flamenco at the Mahaiwe

Update: You can get half price tickets for both performances via Berkshire on Stage. Go here to access this discount.)

What a wonderful time of year to immerse yourself in a transcendent and deeply emotional Flamenco performances as Noche Flamenca arrives in Great Barrington. The company stars the sublime and legendary dancer Soledad Barrio, and will be performing at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on May 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. At the Mahaiwe, the company will present a new program, “Ramas de Olivo” (“Olive Branches”), in memory of Olive Wong, the company’s mentor and friend, and will feature guest performances by famed flamenco dancers Alejandro Granados and Miguel Tellez.

A complete rundown of the performance and performers is contained in our preview/essay about flamenco here.

Performances are May 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. The Mahaiwe is located at 14 Castle Street in Great Barrington, Mass. Box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and three hours before show times. For tickets and information, see www.mahaiwe.org or call 413.528.0100.

Colonial Theatre Presents Bettye LaVette

It’s going to be a Lively Saturday Night as 2011 Grammy Nominee, Bettye LaVette brings her sultry, soulful voice and years of musical talent to Pittsfield, transporting her audience back to the golden age of James Brown and Aretha Franklin. According to The Windy City Times, “In an age where the word ‘diva’ is often used freely, LaVette makes Aretha, Patti, Gladys, Chaka and, yes, even Tina sound lightweight. We did a pretty thorough roundup of the singer and her music here.

Tickets to Bettye LaVette at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on May 26 at 8:00 pm are $20-$55. Tickets may be purchased in person at The Colonial Theatre Ticket Office at 111 South Street Pittsfield, MA 01201 or by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.

Mass MoCA Opens Canada Show, Dadnce Party to Follow

At Mass MoCA in North Adams, the Oh, Canada exhibit opens on Saturday, May 26, containing over 100 works by 62 Canadian artists. After the 6:00 reception grab some dinner in town or on campus then come back at 9 for a dance party with DJ Brendan Canning — co-founder of the Toronto based indie rock supergroup Broken Social Scene and a stalwart on that city’s DJ circuit for more than a decade. Canning trucks down from Toronto with a few crates of records in tow for an all-vinyl dance party to kick off the opening of Oh, Canada. Tickets for the dance party are sold separately and are $15.

The Oh, Canada exhibition opens Memorial Day Weekend at Mass MoCA.

There is a huge array of performing arts at Mass MoCA and our Summer Preview and Schedule is here.

Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M., closed Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.

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