Preview: A Thousand Clowns at Berkshire Theatre Group July 16-28


Preview of A Thousand Clowns at Berkshire Theatre Group

by Larry Murray

Herb Gardner is the author who launched A Thousand Clowns (that’s the cast pictured above, click on each picture for a bio of the actor) which was first a play, then a movie. And while the film has been mostly forgotten, the play is one of those that is pretty much evergreen, fun to do, fun to see, and fun to talk about. It has the distinction of opening Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage on July 21 at 8pm. Previews begin July 16 at 8pm and closing is on July 28, 2012.

Turns out it is a must-see for my colleague Gail Burns, and myself.

That’s because the main character just happens to have the name of Murray Burns – and even better, he’s a bit eccentric. During the play he expounds on his nonconformist worldview: that a person must fight at all costs to retain a sense of aliveness. Now that makes him more interesting don’t you think? There’s also a young boy named Nick who lives with Uncle Murray, subject to the watchful eye of social worker types who insist he conform to society in order to keep custody of the boy. Little things, you know, like keeping a regular job.

But when Uncle Murray walks off his job as a joke writer for “Chuckles the Chipmunk,” it’s time for “the system,” to make life “normal.” When social worker, Sandra Markowitz, is thrown into the mix, her world is turned upside down, when the strength of Nick and Murray’s love for each other begins to outweigh the rules. As Nick and Murray find a way to stay together, the path becomes filled with laughter, warmth, sweetness and inspired madness. This Tony nominated play is one of Broadway’s most beloved. In 1965 the play was developed into a film which featured Jason Robards as Murray Burns and Martin Balsam in an Oscar winning role as his brother, Arnold. That same year, Herb Gardner won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Comedy for this endearing and hilarious play.

The cast includes James Barry as Albert Amundson, Rachel Bay Jones as Sandra Markowitz, Jordan Gelber as Leo Herman, Andrew Polk as Arnold Burns, Russell Posner as Nick Burns and CJ Wilson as Murray Burns.


Kyle Fabel (Director) Berkshire Theatre Festival Director: Finian’s Rainbow (2011); No Wake (2010). BTF Actor:The Einstein Project, Four Dogs and a Bone, The Illusion & Keely and Du. Other Directing credits: Mrs. Whitney, The Persian Quarter, Fabuloso, Tranced, The Four of Us, Trying (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); An Enemy of the People, The Last 5 Years (Playhouse on Park); Rich Hall’s Campfire Stories (Edinburgh); A Cautionary Tail; Ayckbourn’s A Small Family Business, The Suicide, Enrico IV & The Ruffian on the Stair (NYU Graduate Acting Program). Other actor credits: Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention (Broadway); A Free Man of Color (LCT). Addt’l New York credits: The Triangle Factory Project & Noël Coward’s Long Island Sound (The Actors Company Theatre); David Ives’ English Made Simple (Primary Stages). Regional credits: The Farnsworth Invention & Feydeau’s Private Fittings (La Jolla Playhouse); The Alchemist (Shakespeare Theatre DC); A Steady Rain (Hartford Theaterworks); Closer, The Dead Eye Boy & Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); The Taming of the Shrew (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Cymbeline & Loot (Hartford Stage Company); The Last Hurrah (Huntington Theatre); Tony Kushner’s Hydriotaphia (Alley); Rich Hall’s Best Western (Edinburgh). TV: Law and Order: Criminal Intent. MFA from NYU Tisch School Of The Arts.

James Barry (Albert Amundsen) this will be his 10th season and 14th production with The Berkshire Theatre Group since the summer of 2000. BTG credits include Tommy, The Caretaker, The Einstein Project, A Dream Play, Amadeus & This Is Our Youth. Broadway: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. New York: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (The Public), It’s A Wonderful Life (Queens Theatre), Sive (Irish Rep). Regional: Man of La Mancha starring Terrence Mann (Connecticut Rep), Wittenberg (Chester Theatre Co), Pump Boys & Dinettes (New Theatre), The Full Monty (Drury Lane, Chicago), Two by Friel after Chekhov (Irish Rep, Chicago), The Bomb-itty of Errors (Syracuse Stage).

Rachel Bay Jones (Sandra Markowitz) debuted here in last season’s Sylvia (Sylvia). Rachel was recently on tour with the Broadway-bound new musical version of A Christmas Story (Mother); Off Broadway in Transport Group’s acclaimed revival of Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again (the Actress, Drama League Honor); in the Broadway revival of HAIR (Mother / Buddadalirama); and on Broadway as Patti LuPone’s standby in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Other Broadway and large-scale Tour credits include roles in: Meet Me in St. Louis; Grand Hotel; Fiddler on the Roof; Rent (Berlin Company; in German). Regional performances includes several productions of The King and I (Anna, opposite Lou Diamond Phillips); Urinetown (Penelope Pennywise, Carbonell Performance Award); and Evita (Eva, in Spanish and English). Rachel is also a singer and recording artist (solo album, ShowFolk).

Jordan Gelber (Leo Herman) can currently be seen in movie theaters starring in Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse. Broadway: All My Sons, Avenue Q (original cast, special Outer Critics Circle Award). Off-Broadway: Mike Leigh’s 2000 Years (The New Group); Avenue Q (The Vineyard); The Joke (Studio Dante); Tina Howe’s Birth and After Birth (Atlantic Theater); On The Sporadic (EST); Jump! (The Exchange); The Polish Play (Katharsis); Waiting for Godot (NY Int’l Fringe Festival). Regional: Betty’s Summer Vacation (Yale Rep); Camelot (BTF). TV: Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Rescue Me, The Unusuals, Ugly Betty, first three Law & Order series (recurring on SVU), The Sopranos, 100 Centre Street. Film: Dark Horse, Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Pretty Bird, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Everyday People (IFP/Gotham Award nominee for Breakthrough Acting), Riding in Cars With Boys, Changing Lanes. BA, Stanford University; MFA, NYU Tisch Graduate Acting (2000 Laura Pels Award).

Andrew Polk (Arnold Burns) New York: Burning, Mouth To Mouth and Critical Darling (New Group), The Accomplices (Drama Desk Nomination), Walmartopia (Minetta Lane), The Green Zone (Lincoln Center), Flight (Lucille Lortel), Vick’s Boy (Rattlestick), The Truth Teller (Circle Rep.), among many others. Broadway Tour: Biloxi Blues (Helen Hayes nom.). Regional: The Homecoming, November and Speed-The-Plow (A.C.T.), At Home At The Zoo (Philadelphia Theatre Co.), A New War (Long Wharf), Dinner with Friends (Alley Theatre), Love! Valour! Compassion! (Philadelphia Theatre Co., Barrymore Award), Angels in America (Alliance Theatre), Arena Stage, Ford’s Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Trinity Rep, among many others. Film and TV; The Closer, 30 Rock, Lights Out!, Butterflies of Bill Baker (in production), Coming Up Roses, Private Parts, Entropy, all three Law & Order shows, Third Watch. Training: London’s Webber-Douglas Academy (Fulbright Scholar). Associate Artist at American Conservatory Theater. Founder of The Cape Cod Theatre Project.

Russell Posner (Nick Burns) Off Broadway: Lost in Yonkers, (Arty Kurnitz) Nominated for a Drama Desk Award, Best Revival, Television: Comedy Central, Eugene Mirman Pilot Episode, Commercials: General Mills Fiber One, Mass Mutual, Nestles Drumsticks Ice Cream. Training: Cultural Arts Playhouse/improvisation workshop, Actors Technique, New York City.

CJ Wilson (Murray Burns) BTF Credits: Period of Adjustment, Macbeth, The Einstein Project, The Book Club Play. Broadway: A Steady Rain, Festen, Henry IV, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Best Man. Off-Broadway: Medieval Play, The Lady from Dubuque (Signature Theatre), The Bear (HERE), All-American (LCT 3), Happy Now? (Lucille Lortel Nom.) (Primary Stages), OFFICES, The Voysey Inheritance (Atlantic Theatre), Race (Classic Stage Company), Home of the Brave (Jewish Rep), Stop Kiss, The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Merry Wives of Windsor (Public). Regional: Wilma, Shakespeare Theatre, Old Globe, McCarter, Fulton Opera House, ACT in Seattle, Hartford Stage, Syracuse Stage, Williamstown, Chautauqua, and the Acting Company. Film: GHOUL, The Magic of Belle Isle. Television: Blue Bloods, Pan Am, Onion Sportsdome, Brotherhood, Without a Trace, Third Watch, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: CI, Ed, New Amsterdam, All My Children, One Life to Live. Honors: Fox Fellow.

Ticket and Performance Information

Tickets to A Thousand Clowns are $37-$57, all preview tickets are $37. Contact the Stockbridge Campus Ticket Office at 83 East Main Street, by calling 413-298-5576 or the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield by calling 413-997-4444. Tickets can also be bought online at Ticket Offices are open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-2pm or on any performance day from 10am until curtain. All plays, schedules, casting and prices are subject to change.

A Thousand Clowns
by Herb Gardner
directed by Kyle Fabel

With scenic design by Randall Parsons, costume design by Olivera Gajic, lighting design by Dan Kotlowitz and sound design by J Hagenbuckle.

Performance Dates

July 16 Monday 8pm (Preview)
July 17 Tuesday 8pm (Preview)
July 18 Wednesday 7pm (Preview)
July 19 Thursday 8pm (Preview)
July 20 Friday 8pm (Preview)
July 21 Saturday 2pm
July 21 Saturday 8pm (Opening/Press Night)
July 23 Monday 8pm
July 24 Tuesday 8pm
July 25 Wednesday 7pm
July 26 Thursday 8pm
July 27 Friday 8pm
July 28 Saturday 2pm & 8pm

About Berkshire Theatre Group

The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires. Having united in November of 2010 under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on four stages in Stockbridge, MA, Pittsfield, MA and Lenox, MA. The Fitzpatrick Main Stage (408 seats), cataloged by the National Register of Historic Places, was originally designed and built by Stanford White as the Stockbridge Casino in 1888. The intimate Unicorn Theatre (122 seats) is a home for emerging artists and new theatrical ideas. The Colonial in Pittsfield (780 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. BTG also performs at the newly built outdoor Neil Ellenoff stage at the Mount. Together they serve over 100,000 patrons per year and reach over 10,000 students through their educational and outreach programs. For more information on BTF call (413) 298-5536 and on The Colonial call (413) 448-8084. To purchase tickets, call (413) 997-4444 or (413) 298-5576 or go online to

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