More Than 100 Berkshire Residents Appear in “Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires”

For the second year in a row Williamstown Theatre Festival Associate Artistic Director Laura Savia and playwright Lucy Thurber are collaborating on a great big world premiere Community Works production. This year the title is Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires and there will be four free performance August 13-16 on the Main Stage in the ‘62 Center. Last year more than 80 local residents took part, this year the number has topped one hundred.

“People love a spectacle, and this show has equal amounts of fun and theatricality to provide awesome moments of joy for the audience,” Savia said. “Not only is it family friendly, but it is about the children of the Berkshires. Lucy has done a great job honoring the families of the Berkshires creating wonderful ‘meat and potatoes’ theatre scenes to fit between all the music and magic.”

In Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires, three kids ask their grandmother to tell them about a time long ago. She speaks of a world made of water, of star-crossed lovers, and of banshees. The stories come to life — warriors and magical creatures flood the stage as the tales unfold with original music and floor-pounding dance – asking the question what it really means to be a hero.

A successful playwright for more than twenty years – her 2014 play cycle The Hill Town Plays won an Obie Award – Thurber just loves the process and product of creating Community Works with Savia. “Honestly, last year’s community production of Orpheus in the Berkshires is the thing I am the most proud of in my career as a writer so far.”

Community Works has replaced the WTF’s Free Theatre productions which used to feature Equity and non-Equity actors in family-friendly outdoor shows. Both last year and this Savia and Thurber have staged their productions indoors – last year at the Greylock Works space (the former Cariddi Mill on Rt. 2 in North Adams), and now on the MainStage.

“We want people to come early, hang out on the lawn, and eat some Jack’s hot dogs!” Thurber enthused, referring to North Adams’ iconic Eagle Street vendor. “There will be music by different artists before each performance, including Kids for Harmony from Pittsfield.” Admission is free but reservations required.

Thurber and Savia came up to Berkshire County for workshops with various partner organizations throughout the year “We came up for a week every other month, for a total of 5 or six weeks. Thomas Sadoski, who appeared in Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, and other guest artists often came with us,” Savia explained.

“I learned how to share a brain with Laura so that we can give our cast the best, most professional theatrical experience together,” Thurber said. “We have learned to move quickly as a unit. I am the playwright, Laura is the director, and WTF Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield is the producer, but we have to be able to cover each other’s positions at a moment’s notice.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interviewed about ten days before the opening, Thurber was pleased that the production was further along than she and Savia had hoped, and spoke enthusiastically of their collaborative process. “We can see the work we still have to do but with a community production rewriting takes on a different aspect than it does professionally,” she explained. “In the sections I’m not sure of, I trust that Laura will find ways to stage them without losing the focus of the play. My lines may be overwritten, or not, but she will intuit where that section is, where I am intentional and where I have left things loose for her to interpret. We are on the same page with the why and the what of this production.”

“We are well-aligned in our vision,” Savia agreed.

“Last year we learned that miracles were possible and that you can still tell a wonderful and elegant story with a large cast of people of all ages and walks of life,” Savia said. “This kind of spectacle wouldn’t be possible with a small cast.”

To engage people Savia and Thurber have collaborated with about seven different community organizations including the new Berkshire County ARC which works with people with Down Syndrome and traumatic brain injury. Transportation has been provided by the Pittsfield Public Schools, removing a significant barrier to participation for many

“I learned how much we can trust our partner organizations,” Thurber confessed. “There are many people involved last year who have returned to work with us again, which has allowed me to craft a more mature play. The group is getting to know how Laura and I work and how they work individually and corporately. The tenets of professional theatre apply to newcomers as well as more experienced participants.”

“Our lead partner is Berkshire Community College and Megan Whilden, the Executive Director of the Osher Life-Long Learning Institute (OLLI) based there, Savia explained. “I call Megan the Fairy Godmother of Community Work. As a result of her many successful years running the Pittsfield Cultural Development Office, and now working at OLLI, she knows everyone! Workshops both with both BCC and OLLI students have created a really helpful dialogue between the generations.”

“Being in the mill space last year was magical, but it was really important to all of us to institutionalize Community Works and have the production in the ’62 Center this year,” Thurber explained. “It is a significant part of the Festival and Mandy wanted it on the MainStage. We have a full design team and luckily the set for Legendary Romance (running on the MainStage through August 20) is very open so our set fits right in. We are really excited and trilled to make this as big a part of the WTF season as possible.”

“And because we are rehearsing on campus and at the Williams Inn, our other artists are stopping by rehearsals, connecting with our cast, who in turn go to see their new friends in our productions,” Savia said. “It’s a real cross-pollination.”

“We want to move Community Works forward in the coming years,” Thurber said. “We want to offer more opportunities to cross-pollinate and become more and more a part of the WTF – just as important a part as any MainStage show.”

The Williamstown Theatre Festival Community Works presents
Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires
by Lucy Thurber
directed by Laura Savia
with a cast of more than 100 local folks!

August 13, 14 & 16 at 7 pm
August 15 at 2 pm

On the MainStage of the ’62 Center for Theatre & Dance
1000 Main Street
Williamstown, MA 01267

http://wtfestival.org/

Admission is FREE but reservations are required.

COMMUNITY WORKS is supported in part by Greylock Federal Credit Union, The Feigenbaum Foundation, and grants from the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire and the Pittsfield Cultural Council, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

CAST

Grandmother: Penny Bucky – North Adams, MA

Sue: Alexandra Templer – Atlanta, GA

Jim: Andy Hogeland – Williamstown, MA

Tom: Hiram Delgado – San Juan, Puerto Rico

Carol: Judy Sellman – Jacksonville, VT

Auntie Gene: Shirley Edgerton – Pittsfield, MA

Uncle Nick: Bill Sellman – Jacksonville, VT

Abby: Amanda Lyn Jungquist  – East Tawas, MI

GRANDCHILDREN:

Sean Colletta – Pittsfield, MA

Ari Kraiman – Philadelphia, PA

Devon Lennon – Lanesboro, MA

London Martin – Pittsfield, MA

Crystal Moore – Pittsfield, MA

Abdul Peoples – Pittsfield, MA

Cloey Parlapiano – Pittsfield, MA

Ethan Shaw – Pittsfield, MA

Nick Trapiani – Pittsfield, MA

Naomi Tayi – Pittsfield, MA

Job Vengali – Pittsfield, MA

Grace Wallis – San Marino, CA

WATER PEOPLE:

Miriam: Katasha Acosta – Gainesville, FL by way of Havana, Cuba

Pastor: Ryan Haddad – Parma, Ohio

Tameka Bennett – Mobile, AL

Jetta Berthiaume – Pittsfield, MA

Zachery Berthiaume – Pittsfield, MA

Aileen Bliss – Stockbridge, MA

Chloe Boehm – Pittsfield, MA

Gael K. Bryant – Williamstown, MA

Jennifer Daley – Pittsfield, MA

Lyndsay deManbey – Sandisfield, MA

Joan Diver – Williamstown, MA

Maura Dubuque – East Greenbush, NY

Carolyn Fabricant – North Adams, MA

Isaac Gotterer – Lenox, MA

Emma-Margaret Gregory – North Adams, MA

Krishan Gutschow Rai – Williamstown, MA

Tashi Gutschow Rai – Williamstown, MA

Chris Hall – North Adams, MA

LouAnn Hazelwood – Leeds, MA

Piper Jacobs – North Adams, MA

Tess Johnstadt – Williamstown, MA

Kameron Knott – Katy, TX

Kate Lauzon – Pittsfield, MA

Michael Lively – North Adams, MA

Carter Marks – Lee, MA

Bella Maisonneuve – Pittsfield, MA

Karen McNulty – Pittsfield, MA

Meghan Mongeon – North Adams, MA

Eva Moser – North Adams, MA

Michael Ortiz – Stamford, FL

Maggie Seckler – New York, NY

Courtney Pontier – North Adams, MA

Keya Robertson – Pittsfield, MA

Ed Sedarbaum – Williamstown, MA

Ginger Sumner – Pittsfield, MA

Sam Tucker-Smith – Williamstown, MA

Regina Velázquez – Williamstown, MA

Serafina Velázquez – Williamstown, MA

Xavi Velázquez – Williamstown, MA

Sonal Vyas – Williamstown, MA

Arya Vyas – Williamstown, MA

Stella Waynick – Williamstown, MA

Linda White – Williamstown, MA

Maxine Wisbaum – Pittsfield, MA

RANGERS:

Scott: Keshav Moodliar – New Delhi, India

John: Brendan Dalton – Upper Darby, PA

Ranger Dad: Christopher ‘BIGZDAKING’ Barton – North Adams, MA

Hook: Xaida Brazeean – Chesire, MA

Steel: Michael Obasohan – North Adams, MA

Dead Drop: Danny Trotter – North Adams, MA

Julian Abelskamp – Santa Cruz, CA

Marion Cimini – Pittsfield, MA

Lottie Dustin – Williamstown, MA

Wendy Jones-Gregory – Williamstown, MA

Jeff Kosharek – Rochester, NY

Marilyn Larkin – Pittsfield, MA

Barbara Mahony – Pittsfield, MA

Yamalia Marks – Malibu, CA

Bradford Rosenbloom – Pittsfield, MA

William Valles – Barrington, RI

BANSHEES:

Lead Banshee: Jessy Yates – Broadview Heights, Ohio

Drums: Otha Day – North Adams, MA

Cindy Keiderling – Lee, MA

Fatima Anaza – Houston, TX

Mary Ellen Cangelosi – Williamstown, MA

Phil Case – Westfield, MA

John Chapdelaine – Westfield, MA

Natalie Celebi – Bath, ME

Mary Deyo – Westfield, MA

Karel Fisher – Richmond, MA

Karel Fisher – New Rochelle, NY

Carolyn Kettig – New York, NY

Donna Leaf – West Springfield, MA

Shira Lynn – Williamstown, MA

Chrissy Margevicius – Cleveland, OH

Doris McNabb – Williamstown, MA

Carol Neuhaus – Housatonic, MA

Angel Rathbaum – Lee, MA

Phyllis Riley – Williamstown, MA

Kathleen Ryan – Housatonic, MA

Leslie Scarlett – Lenox, MA

Rachel Skalka – Woodbridge, CT

Shannon Spargo – East Berne, NY

Susan Taylor – Pittsfield, MA

Reiko Yamada – Williamstown, MA/ Sapporo, Japan

BAND:

Vocals: Cali Cybulski – Pittsfield, MA

Saxophone/Guitar: Zev Jarrett – Richmond, MA

Vocals: Grace Ida Marks – Lee, MA

Guitar: Dan O’Connell – North Adams, MA

Guitar: Vladimir Zeleny – Pittsfield, MA

Bass: Tyler Shaw – Adams, MA

Drums: David Ball – Stephenville, TX

dysFUNKcrew:

Becky Ahamad – Chesire, MA

Jamal Ahamad – Chesire, MA

Ashton Darrett – North Adams, MA

Michael Obasohan – North Adams, MA

One thought on “More Than 100 Berkshire Residents Appear in “Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires”

  1. Pingback: REVIEW: “Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires” in Williamstown | BERKSHIRE ON STAGE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s