Highlights include concerts by Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Blind Boys of Alabama, John Pizzarelli Quartet, and more
Great Barrington, Mass.— The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will present an array of festive events in December, including concerts by Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, the Blind Boys of Alabama featuring Preservation Hall Legacy Horns, John Pizzarelli Quartet with Catherine Russell, HD broadcasts by London’s National Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet, and family movies. “It is always a treat to celebrate the holidays at the Mahaiwe,” said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly. “From diverse holiday concerts to nostalgic classic movies and performance broadcasts—when it’s freezing outside, we look forward to a warm and wonderful season inside our historic theater.”
Canadian fiddle virtuosos Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy will perform “A Celtic Family Christmas” on Sunday, December 3 at 7:00pm. Accompanied by an array of talented session musicians—and their entire family—the married duo will guide audiences into the wonderful world of a true Cape Breton Christmas celebration. Known for her flamboyant skill and trademark step-dancing, MacMaster is the sweetheart superstar of the Cape Breton fiddle. Leahy was part of the brilliant, popular Canadian group Leahy. Together they create a whirlwind of fiddle-driven music, song, and dance. Tickets are $25 to $75.
Blind Boys of Alabama will fill the Mahaiwe with holiday spirit on Sunday, December 10 at 7:00pm. The world-renowned Preservation Hall Legacy Horns from New Orleans will join the group for this performance. The concert will feature songs from the Talkin’ Christmas! album, as well as the band’s previous Grammy-winning Christmas recording, Go Tell It on the Mountain, along with Blind Boys’ gospel classics. After touring in the gospel caravans of the 1940s and 50s, the Blind Boys have enjoyed accolades and awards from all parts of the music world, including a remarkable five Grammy Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, as well as an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. They have also appeared on recordings with Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Susan Tedeschi, Aaron Neville, Ben Harper, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and many other great artists. Their live shows are roof-raising musical events that appeal to audiences of all cultures, as evidenced by an international itinerary that has taken them to virtually every continent. Tickets are $30 to $67.
John Pizzarelli Quartet with Catherine Russell will present “Billie & Blue Eyes” on Saturday, December 23 at 8:00pm. In this program, Catherine Russell’s Grammy Award-winning vocals and John Pizzarelli’s smooth quartet pair to evoke the glory days of jazz, taking on two of the greats: Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. This unforgettable evening features soulful interpretations of chart-topping classics like “All of Me,” “God Bless the Child,” “Witchcraft,” and “One More for My Baby.” Instead of stepping back in time, these artists pull the music gracefully into the present, and do it all with their signature panache. Tickets are $30 to $100.
London’s National Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet HD Broadcasts
Saturday, December 2 at 1:00pm, the Bolshoi Ballet in HD will present an encore broadcast of Taming of the Shrew. Acclaimed choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot brings out the wit, fast-paced athleticism, and vibrancy from the Bolshoi Ballet dancers in Shakespeare’s rowdy comedy. Principals Ekaterina Krysanova and Vladislav Lantratov clash, challenge, and eventually give themselves to one another in a wonderfully entertaining production that can only be seen at the Bolshoi. Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Brian Schaefer will give a pre-screening talk about the production at 12:40pm.
London’s National Theatre in HD production of Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical, Follies, will be broadcast in an encore presentation on Friday, December 8 at 7:00pm. The play is set in New York City, 1971. On the eve of a once-glorious theater’s destruction, all of life’s might-have-beens take center stage as two jaded couples glamorize the old days in what proves to be a shattering experience. Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee, and Imelda Staunton play the magnificent Follies in this dazzling new production. Featuring a cast of 37 and an orchestra of 21, it’s directed by Dominic Cooke.
On Saturday, December 16 at 2:00pm, London’s National Theatre in HD will broadcast Young Marx, a new comedy written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman. Broadcast live from The Bridge Theatre, London, the production is directed by Nicholas Hytner and reunites the creative team behind Broadway and West End hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors. Rory Kinnear (The Threepenny Opera, Penny Dreadful, Othello) is Marx. 1850, and Europe’s most feared terrorist is hiding in Dean Street, Soho. Broke, restless, and horny, the thirty-two-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit, and child-like emotional illiteracy. Recommended for ages 15+.
Wednesday, December 27 at 1:00pm, the Bolshoi Ballet in HD will broadcast The Nutcracker, with choreography by Yuri Grigorovich and music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The holidays would not be complete without the enchanting tale of young Marie and her Nutcracker prince. The production transports children and adults alike to a world of magic and wonder. This is an encore broadcast; the production was captured live in 2014.
Sponsored by Harney & Sons Fine Teas, tickets to London’s National Theatre in HD and Bolshoi Ballet in HD broadcasts are $17/$10 everyone 21 and under.
The Mahaiwe will present its annual free holiday screening of Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) as a gift to the community on Friday, December 22 at 7:00pm.
In addition, the theater will screen Home Alone (1990), John Hughes’ Christmas comedy starring Macaulay Culkin on Thursday, December 28 at 4:00pm. General admission tickets are $7. Mahaiwe movies are sponsored by Don Buchwald and Associates.
A limited number of $15 tickets are available for audience members ages 30 and younger to the Mahaiwe’s live performances through the Mahaiwe Youth Discount program. The Mahaiwe is located at 14 Castle Street in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6:00pm and three hours before show times. For tickets and information, see www.mahaiwe.org or call 413.528.0100.
About the Mahaiwe
Located in downtown Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center is the year-round presenter of world-class music, dance, theater, classic films, Live in HD broadcasts, and arts education programs for the southern Berkshires and neighboring regions. The intimate jewel box of a theater opened in 1905. Since 2005, the performing arts center has hosted over 1,000 events and welcomed over half a million people through its doors. More than 18,000 students from 61 different schools have benefited from the Mahaiwe’s school-time performances and residencies. For more information, see www.mahaiwe.org.
About the Berkshires
Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, the Berkshires offers culture and adventure year-round. The surrounding mountains provide plenty of opportunity for outdoor excursions in all seasons while world class culture and entertainment, along with a deeply rooted food culture and an array of lodging options amidst picturesque towns, set this region apart. For more information, visit berkshires.org.