Stage musicals continue to evolve, and the inclusion of a rock score is no longer a novelty, but an inevitability, and that’s a good thing. The world has moved far beyond the saccharine sentiments of The Sound of Music, and into the bolder, more contemporary sounds of Spring Awakening, Rent and Urinetown. In Pittsfield, Julianne Boyd artistic director of Barrington Stage Company, and Tristan Wilson, Managing Director are in constant motion nurturing (and finding funding for) their Musical Theatre Lab. Each summer, under the artistic direction of Tony winning composer William Finn, they present something new and different. The moment is almost upon us for this year.
The big event this summer is the full scale workshop production of The Black Suits, with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Iconis and Robert Emmett Maddock. Directed by John Simpkins, with musical direction by James Sampliner, The Black Suits began previews August 16 and will continue to play through September 2 at BSC’s St. Germain Stage (formerly Stage 2), located on the upper level of the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield.
“Joe Iconis is the best musical theatre writer that the public has never heard of.” – NY Theatre Review
The Black Suits is a rock musical about a high school garage band on suburban Long Island trying to win the St. Anne’s Battle of the Bands. Two teens struggle to learn how to be real friends as the inevitability of adulthood threatens to pull them apart. A musical about dreams, blood, Pop Tarts, records, drug runs, blue hair and the transformative coolness of rock and roll music.
Joe Iconis and cast talk abd sing about The Black Suits.
John Simpkins (Director) John has directed the Off-Broadway productions of Bloodsong of Love, ReWrite, Plant That Ate Dirty Socks, Things to Ruin (co-conceiver) – all with Joe Iconis. He directed last season’s The Bus at 59E59 Theatres. Regional: NC Theatre (Hairspray); Engeman Theatre (A Wonderful Life, Damn Yankees); Sacramento Music Circus (Cabaret, Annie); Lyric Oklahoma (Evita). He has developed new works at Goodspeed, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Second Stage, Ars Nova, NAMT, NYMF, and York Theatre. John is Artistic Director at Sharon Playhouse and faculty at NYU Steinhardt (Floyd Collins, Sweet Smell of Success, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Parade, Violet, The Fix). www.john-simpkins.com
Harrison Chad as Brandon.
Broadway: Caroline,or Change, Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, and The Kennedy Center’s production of Mame. Television: Smash, Dora the Explorer, Go,Diego,Go, Little Einsteins, and Ed. Film: Tarzan 2, Charlotte’s Web 2, Carry Me Home, The Hebrew Hammer, Messengers.Brown University: Spelling Bee, Spring Awakening. Harrison is currently studying Political Science at Brown University. Harrison is also a proud member of AEA, SAG, AFTRA, and a proud brother of AEΠ. He would like to thank his wonderful parents, his sister Amanda, and Station 3 for all of their support.
Sarah Cetrulo as Lisa.
In NYC (off-off Broadway): The Sound of Music (Maria), Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey), Aida (Amneris), Into the Woods (Cinderella), Bye Bye Birdie (Kim).
In NJ (selected regional): Cabaret (Sally Bowles), Beauty and the Beast(Belle), Les Miserables (Eponine), The King and I (Tuptim).
Annie Golden as Mrs. Werring
Annie was last seen on Broadway and across America in Xanadu and created the role of Georgie Bukatinski in The Full Monty.
Other Broadway/Off-Broadway credits: The Leader of the Pack, Assassins, Ah! Wilderness, On The Town, The Shaggs, and Little Shop of Horrors as Audrey.
Films: Hair, Twelve Monkeys, Baby Boom, Brooklyn Rules, Suddenly Seeking Susan, and I Love You, Phillip Morris. Television: Law & Order, Cheers, Miami Vice, Third Watch sang on Letterman with the band as guest soloist and as a member of Darlene Love’s Christmas choir each year.
Jason Hite as John
Jason Hite is thrilled to be making his Barrington Stage debut with The Black Suits. Regional: Giant (Dallas Theatre Center), Spring Awakening (San Jose Rep), Girlfriend (Berkeley Rep), All Shook Up, A Christmas Carol (Center Rep).
Check out Jason’s band 5j Barrow at www.5jbarrow.com. Jason’s career has taken off, and the sky is the limit. One of the great things about the Barrington Stage Musical Theatre Lab is you get a chance to see new faces that are definitely on the rise.
Ben Platt as Ricky
Ben will be making his onscreen debut in the upcoming October 5th release of the Universal Picture Pitch Perfect (dir. Jason Moore). National Tours: Caroline, or Change (dir. George C. Wolfe, Tony Kushner).
Workshops/Readings: Alice By Heart (Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik), Irma La Douce (dir. Rob Ashford, starring Katie Holmes), Bridges of Madison County (dir. Bartlett Sher, Jason Robert Brown).
Regional Credits: Dead End ( dir. Nicholas Martin, Ahmanson Theatre), The Music Man, Mame, Camelot, and The Sound of Music (Hollywood Bowl).
Will Roland as Nato
Will is a recent graduate of NYU Steinhardt who’s been poking his nose into scrappy theatre all around the five boroughs in the last year. Recently you might’ve seen him in The Bus at 59E59, Wonderful Town at The Gallery Players, or Billy Witch with Studio42.
If you travel, you might’ve caught Will in Zombies, Actually at the New Orleans Fringe Festival, or We Didn’t Have Time to be Scared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Visit his website at www.will-roland.com
The Special (and free) Events
August 21. Conversations With…The Making of The Black Suits with Joe Iconis and John Simpkins. Tuesday at 4:30pm. St. Germain Stage (formerly Stage 2) at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield. The creative team discusses the process of creating a musical in Barrington Stage’s Musical Theatre Lab. Moderated by Musical Theatre Lab Artistic Head William Finn. Free (reservations recommended).
August 23. Post-Show Discussion: The Black Suits. St. Germain Stage (formerly Stage 2) at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield. Following the Thursday 7:30pm performance.
Performances of The Black Suits will take place at Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage (formerly Stage 2) located on the upper level of the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, from August 16 through September 2. Performances are Tuesday-Friday at 7:30pm, Thursday at 3pm (excluding August 16), Saturday at 4pm and 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $15-$39; with preview prices of $15 on August 16 & 17. Seniors: $28 all matinees. Youth 18 and under $15 all performances except Saturday evenings. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. 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.
About Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab
The Musical Theatre Lab, created in 2006, is a place for young musical theater writers to develop their work on all levels: from staged readings to workshops to full productions. Since its creation, eight world premieres and four workshops have been produced. The critically acclaimed The Burnt Part Boys (2006), written by Nathan Tysen, Chris Miller and Marianne Elder, received a production at Playwrights Horizons in May/June 2010, and is now published by Music Theatre International. Kirsten Childs, who wrote the 2007 world premiere Funked Up Fairy Tales, continued developing her musical at the Sundance Institute in December 2007. Barry Wyner’s 2007 hit musical Calvin Berger recently received critical acclaim at the George Street Playhouse. See Rock City & Other Destinations by Adam Mathias and Brad Alexander was produced in 2008 and later played at the Transport Group in NYC, where it won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical. Sara Cooper and Zachary Redler’s The Memory Show received critical acclaim and will be seen Off-Broadway in 2013.