Barrington Stage Raises the Curtain on 2013
by Gail Burns and Larry Murray
Once again, Barrington Stage is the first Berkshire theatre company to announce its slate of shows for the 2013 season.
Seven new productions were announced at a lunchtime gathering attended by a dozen arts writers and reporters in the Berkshires, plus – suprisingly – Pittsfield Mayor Bianchi, the Berkshire Visitors Bureau and the Berkshire Bank, an impressive sample of the opinion and taste makers for the Berkshires. They knew that what the company’s artistic director, Julianne Boyd had planned would affect them all, one way or the other.
Boyd did not disappoint. Once again she has firmly grasped the contemporary and traditional and smashed them together for an explosive 2013 season. Her nose for sniffing out the elemental human condition and finding ways to expand them theatrically is amazing. From a practical standpoint, full audiences for BSC means busy restaurants in downtown Pittsfield and beyond. The strong cadre of local ticket buyers is supplemented by a growing base of visitors who now add the company’s productions to their summer sojourns.
“In 2013,” Boyd observed, “our stages will be lit for a full six months of the year, not just during the peak summer months.” For a company that began on the stage of a high school in Sheffield, 20 years ago, it has grown to become the trend setter of the Berkshires, typified by taking on its first Shakespeare play, Much Ado About Nothing, putting it in the traditional late summer comedy spot, and mining it for its humor. Supplementing its community work via the Playwright’s Mentoring Project, the company will work closely with Shirley Edgerton’s Rites of Passage group to develop an evening of poems and stories written by Pittsfield residents that is inspired by Nozatke Sange’s play For Colored Girls which also gets a full professional production.
The ever reliable Mark St. Germain turns his attention to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway in an imagined meeting of the authors and frenemies in Hollywood, the premiere of Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah.
Turning back the clock to the 1940’s, the Main Stage will come alive with sailors on leave looking for love – or at least a good time – in the rarely seen WWII musical On the Town. Also set in that same decade, two Jewish boys play baseball in The Chosen, based on Chaim Potok’s novel. One is ultra-orthodox Hasidic, the other more a more secular, modern Jew. All this at the beginning of the state of Israel. Two sides of the same momentous decade.
The St. Germain Stage sees two additional works, the first being the season opener and American Premiere of Bashir Lazhar, the story of a teacher, an Algerian immigrant who finds himself in a combustable situation with his students as secrets are exposed and misunderstandings compound themselves.
Finally, there is the marvelous Bill Finn’s annual Musical Theatre Lab offering what has to be the most unusual show of the summer, Southern Comfort. With a folk-bluegrass score, Annette O’Toole as the transgendered boyfriend, and Jeff McCarthy as the trans girlfriend, this musical had a staged reading off Broadway and set tongues wagging all over town. It is an honest story of a unique American family just trying to stay together in rural Georgia.
Following is the Barrington Stage Company official announcement, with some additional commentary by Gail and Larry.
Pittsfield, MA – Julianne Boyd announced the 2013 season of musicals and plays that will take place in downtown Pittsfield in the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage and St. Germain Stage (formerly Stage 2) venues in 2013. Single tickets will go on sale March 1, 2013. Passes to the 2013 season at the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage and St. Germain Stage are on sale now by calling 413-236-8888 or online at www.barringtonstageco.org.
BOYD-QUINSON MAINSTAGE SEASON
On The Town
Performances for the previously announced Boyd-Quinson Mainstage production season opener On the Town will be from June 12 through July 13. The press opening is Sunday, June 16 at 5pm.
On the Town will be directed by Tony Award-winner (Urinetown) John Rando and choreographed by Emmy Award-winner (TV’s SMASH) Josh Bergasse, with music direction by BSC Associate Artist Darren Cohen. On the Town, the landmark Broadway musical features music by Leonard Bernstein, and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on the ballet “Fancy Free” by Jerome Robbins.
On the Town is the story of three sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City in 1944. Squeezed for time, they all manage to find love and incredible adventures in the Big Apple. On the Town features the first Broadway score by Bernstein, Comden and Green with such gems as “New York, New York,” “I Can Cook Too,” “Lonely Town” and “Some Other Time.” On the Town is sponsored by Berkshire Bank.
“World War II and the Forties are back! On the Town had its premiere on December 28, 1944 while “Oklahoma” which is being planned over at the Berkshire Theatre Group debuted March 31, 1943. The war ended in 1945 with the surrender of the Germans in May and the Japanese in August. Both shows welcomed scads of servicemen into their theatres via USO ticket distribution.” – Larry
“As BSC PR guru Charlie Seidenburg pointed out, both shows require the recreation of the original choreography, which means we’ll be treated to Agnes DeMille at The Colonial and Jerome Robbins at BSC. Who needs Jacob’s Pillow? I am also glad that Boyd clearly stated that she’d like to return to the days when BSC offered audiences a chance to see lesser known American musicals. Much as we all love the classics, I have such wonderful memories of driving down to Sheffield to see Mack and Mabel, On the Twentieth Century, Falsettos, and, of course, Follies.” – Gail
The Chosen, Chaim Potok’s acclaimed novel has been adapted for the stage by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok. Performances of The Chosen are from July 18 through August 3, with a press opening on Sunday, July 21 at 5pm.
From the director/adapter of BSC’s powerful, acclaimed 2011 production of My Name Is Asher Lev, The Chosen tells the much-beloved story of two boys, two fathers, and two very different Jewish communities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Set against the backdrop of World War II, Posner and Potok’s award-winning adaptation introduces us to Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders, both passionate, intelligent young boys on opposite sides of a baseball game. When the game takes a turn, and Reuven is injured by Danny, a unique friendship is born. As the boys grow up, they learn important lessons about their fathers, their community and themselves. Director: TBA. The Chosen is sponsored by Rhoda Herrick.
“I loved Posner’s adaptation and direction of My Name is Asher Lev at BSC in 2011, so I am really looking forward to this, even though Posner isn’t available to direct. I love that BSC presents a lot of plays that aren’t about people like me. Sure, its fun to laugh at yourself, but its more interesting to explore the diversity of humankind.” – Gail
“Another play set in the distant past of 1944-50 when ‘honor your father’ was taken as gospel. Two teens fight at a ball game but then become friends. One’s father, a rabbi, appears distant yet domineering, while the son who is obedient has to make his own choices in life. A favorite Potok theme – he must have had a terrible childhood himself. The play is very moving, and as with Asher Lev, suggests that sometimes you just have to grow up and be your own man.” – Larry
Much Ado About Nothing: Shakespeare makes his BSC debut
Barrington Stage will mount its first-ever Shakespeare play, Much Ado About Nothing. Performances are from August 8-25, with a press opening on Sunday, August 11 at 5pm.
Director Julianne Boyd and BSC veteran actors Christopher Innvar, Gretchen Egolf and Mark H. Dold join together to bring our audiences one of the greatest romantic comedies ever written – Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The dazzling love story between the headstrong Beatrice (Gretchen Egolf) and the confirmed bachelor Benedick (Christopher Innvar) – both always ready to do combat with a “merry war” of witty insults – is set against a darker story of intrigue and deceit as the machinations of Don John (Mark H. Dold), an illegitimate half-brother of the reigning Prince, unfold. Much Ado About Nothing is sponsored by Cynthia and Randolph Nelson.
“Much Ado… is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies, and Boyd has wanted to do this play with this cast ever since they all collaborated on Noel Coward’s Private Lives a few seasons back. Innvar and Egolf are no longer ingenues, and Boyd clearly sees Beatrice and Benedick as a more mature couple, slightly set in their ways and not ready to concede to an average relationship.” – Gail
“Hang up and step away from that cellphone. You are not the first glib couple to scorn love, marriage, and each other. Travel back to c. 1598 and meet your match – Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero.” – Larry
ST. GERMAIN STAGE SEASON
Bashir Lazhar, St. Germain Stage season opener
Barrington opens the 2013 St. Germain Stage season with the American premiere of Bashir Lazhar, written by Canadian playwright Evelyne de la Cheneliere, in a translation by Morwyn Brebner. Directed by BSC Associate Producer Shakina Nayfack, Bashir Lazhar will be presented from May 22 through June 8 at the St. Germain Stage, with a press opening on Sunday, May 26 at 3pm.
Bashir Lazhar tells the story of an Algerian immigrant who is hurriedly hired as the teacher at an elementary school in Montreal for a class of distressed students. His unorthodox teaching methods draw him into surprisingly explosive territory.
Adapted for the screen under the title Monsieur Lazhar, it was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
“A powerful portrait of the immigrant experience: dispossession, alienation and our own habits of intolerance. How often we forget that we are all from immigrant families on this continent, and that our nation is one that depends on unity to secure its promises. In diversity there is strength.” – Larry
“I know little about this play, but it intrigues me. Boyd says she loves a show with social significance. I love the way she has trained her audience to buy tickets for a serious one-hander like this, a big musical, and a little Shakespeare all in one season!” – Gail
In this world premiere by Zayd Dohrn a young female activist brings an older man—a famous political hacker/journalist—home to her Brooklyn apartment to spend the night. But as they start to expose each other’s secrets, personal and political desires collide, testing the limits of privacy in the modern world. Directed by Giovanna Sardelli (BSC’s The North Pool and Lord of the Flies).
Muckrakers will be presented June 13 – July 6 on the St. Germain Stage at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center.
Southern Comfort In the Musical Theatre Lab
Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab, under the leadership of William Finn, Artistic Producer, and Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director, kicks off its eighth season with the award-winning musical Southern Comfort from July 19 through August 10 (press opening: Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30pm).
Southern Comfort, based on the award-winning documentary of the same name, was first produced in 2011 by CAP21 Theatre Company, NYC (and a staged reading at the 2012 NAMT Festival of New Musicals). This will be the second production of the musical. Starring BSC veteran Jeff McCarthy and Annette O’Toole, who will be reprising their 2011 roles, Southern Comfort has a folk blue-grass score, with music by Julianne Wick-Davis and book and lyrics by Dan Collins. Wick-Davis and Collins are recipients of the 2012 Jonathan Larson Award for Southern Comfort. Tom Caruso, associate director of the upcoming Broadway musical Matilda, will direct.
Southern Comfort tells the story of male transgendered Robert Eads (Annette O’Toole) and his tight-knit community of individuals, including his trans girlfriend Lola Cola (Jeff McCarthy), living in the back hills of ‘Bubba Land’ Georgia. When Robert discovers that he has ovarian cancer, he refuses to let it dampen his spirits or his determination to live life fully. The show is a celebration of a uniquely American family, living life openly, honestly, and courageously by choosing to remain in rural Taccoa, Georgia, simply because it is the home they have grown to love.
“This year I have awakened more fully to the struggles of the trans community who have to fight for the right to be accepted all over again. The rustic and earthy setting of this musical merges the familiar with people we rarely get to meet, except on stage or in a film. Their stories are far more interesting than any conversation you’ve had so far today.” – Larry
“Again, a show about people who aren’t like me – I love it! Even though I have a good friend who is trans, I agree with Boyd that the idea of feeling that alienated from the body in which you were born is hard for non-trans people to wrap their heads around. In the end we are all just human beings, but I look forward to understanding more about how trans folk move through life and the challenges they face.” – Gail
Scott and Hem, A world premiere by Mark St. Germain
Celebrated author of BSC’s recent hit plays Freud’s Last Session, The Best of Enemies and Dr. Ruth, All the Way, Mark St. Germain will premiere Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah on the St. Germain Stage from August 15 through September 29, with a press opening on Wednesday, August 21 at 7:30pm.
In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, famous authors and frenemies, meet in Hollywood – the City of Dreams – to confront their own. Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah is a drama about the cost of love, friendship and the price of being a writer.
Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah is produced as part of a rolling world premiere agreement between Barrington Stage Company and the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Scott and Hem is sponsored by Sydelle and Lee Blatt.
“I have seen some really bad plays about the relationship between Fitzgerald and Hemingway, so I am trusting St. Germain to take the bad taste out of my mouth and give me a story of these two literary giants that entertains as well as enlightens me.” – Gail
“Confession: I used to keep Tender is the Night on my nightstand as a sleeping pill. Over several years of trying to read it, I never even got halfway through. No matter how active my mind, F. Scott Fitzgerald always helped me snooze off. I have a feeling when he meets Macho Man Hemenway in Mark’s play, there will be no such peace.” – Larry
Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Tried Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf
Beginning in late February/early March, Barrington Stage will collaborate with Shirley Edgerton’s Rites of Passage Educational Program for African American young women and develop a play using Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Tried Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf as a model. The young Berkshire County women will work with two playwright/poets in the community, Jamuna Sirker and Nakeida Bethel-Smith, and develop their own evening of poems/stories.
Next summer, as part of the 2013 WordXWord Festival, BSC will present the play For Colored Girls, performed by a professional cast of seven women. A landmark in African American literature, this powerful play expresses the many struggles and obstacles African-American women face throughout their lives. The following week, the local women will read their poems/stories at BSC. This performance will be followed by others throughout the area. For more information, please contact BSC’s Literary Associate Megan Dieterle at 413-997-6103.
“I am excited to see both the professional staging and the new work it inspires. I want to hear from the young women of color in the Berkshires. I am looking forward to sitting among another truly racially integrated audience at BSC too – the opening night of The Best of Enemies was the first time I had experienced that in this region.” – Gail
“You can’t live in the Berkshires – or Pittsfield – without knowing about the wonderful work that Shirley Edgerton and her organization does with young people. The most important thing we can do for those coming up behind us is to encourage their potential in an often indifferent, difficult world. In particular, developing strong women to persevere against the deeply entrenched discouragement and criticism they face every day.” – Larry
BSC Youth Theatre -
Disney’s The Little Mermaid
at the Berkshire Museum
Barrington Stage Company Youth Theatre goes under the sea for its 2013 production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR. to be presented July 24 through August 11 at Berkshire Museum (39 South Street). Directed and choreographed by Christine O’Grady with music direction by Sarah Brett England.
Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories, with music by 8-time Academy Award-winner Alan Menken; Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR.is a beautiful love story for the ages. Featuring the popular songs from the movie and Broadway musical “Part of Your World,” “Kiss the Girl” and the Academy Award-winning “Under the Sea.” In a magical kingdom beneath the sea, the fun-loving young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above.
All shows, casting and schedule subject to change. A full season of Mr. Finn’s Cabaret, staged readings and other exciting 2013 events will be announced soon.
2013 Season Passes Now on Sale
For the 2013 Season, Barrington Stage is introducing the Premium Combo Pass which includes seven shows for the price of five. This pass is the best value of the season and provides a savings of up to 31% off the 2013 single ticket price. Combo Passes include front orchestra section A seating at all three shows at the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage on any date (On the Town, The Chosen, Much Ado About Nothing), plus tickets to any date at all four St. Germain Stage shows (Bashir Lazhar, Southern Comfort, Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah and one more show TBA).*
Patrons who order a 2013 pass on or before December 18, 2012, will get access to the best seats beginning February 1, 2013, and the $5 per pass handling fee will be waived.
*Stand-alone Mainstage Passes may also be purchased at this time and are available for a range of prices and seating sections. Passes for St. Germain Stage alone are not for sale at this time, but may be available at a later date.
Single tickets will go on sale March 1, 2013
Reservations for groups of 15 or more are now being taken and may be arranged by contacting Group Sales at 413-236-8888 (or toll-free at 855-TIX-2BSC). For information on shows, passes and tickets visit www.barringtonstageco.org.