To add to the festivities of the holiday season, Shakespeare and Company is presenting a costumed staged reading of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. With many of our favorite books, we imagine life going on after we close the book. The romance of Pride and Prejudice continues in this delightful play by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. Jane Austen would be pleased to see her characters live once again.
However, this reading has a short run from December 15 to 17. If you miss the performances, Shakespeare and Company has other presentations during the winter season which will please you. There will be a Winter Studio Festival of Plays January 13 – 14, 2018. Five plays will be read over the two days.
February 17-18, 2018 Lovers’ Spat Round Two will offer scenes from Shakespeare and other playwrights showing that the course of true love never did run smooth.
Click on the link below as Bob and I discuss this.
Each year The Dorset Players offer a show that brightens the holiday season. This year they are presenting The Twelve Days of Christmas, a family friendly production with a cast primarily of children and a few adults. Putting together the participants of the twelve days song is a challenge for this year’s partridge in a pear tree. She gets some help from the audience. Having a cast primarily of children also presented challenges to Sheila Childs which she shares in our interview with her.
Click on the link below to hear about that and more.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a delightful musical that Hubbard Hall is presenting on weekends until December 3. This is a new version of the play written specifically for Hubbard Hall which is a perfect setting for it. As David Snider, the director of the play and the Executive and Artistic Director of Hubbard Hall explains in the playbill, he heard that a theatre in Raleigh, North Carolina had done a shorter version of the play which David has admired since he saw it as a seventeen year old. He wrote the theatre and never heard from them. Instead, he received a phone call from Rupert Holmes. Holmes had written the play, the music and the lyrics. After a long telephone call, Holmes agreed to write a version which set the action at Hubbard Hall in 1895. Since his adopted name is Holmes, the year 1895 has special significance for the playwright/composer.
The result is a delightful production in a setting that enhances the play. Charles Dickens wrote the book on which the play is based. Unfortunately, Dickens did not finish the book because he died. However, as in all the productions of this play, it is the audience who finishes it by voting on the villain. Each performance may be resolved differently, not only in terms of the killer but also who will be the couple who find love and happiness at the play’s end.
Bob and I went to opening night. We not only enjoyed the production, but had a chance to talk with Mr. Holmes and some of the actors. You can click on our discussion below. You can also click on the Hubbard Hall web site for tickets. We have also included the interview which Joe Donahue had with Rupert Holmes and David Snider on WAMC.
Besides producing a season of fine plays each summer, The Williamstown Theatre Festival has a range of other programs, many of which involve preparing the next generation of theatre professionals. Bob and I were fortunate to interview some of those involved in these programs. Because of the number of plays and interviews we do during the season, we didn’t have the opportunity to share these enlightening discussions with the theatre people of the future on our blog. We do so now.
The first interview, with Brendan George, provides a picture of what life for an apprentice at the Williamstown Theatre Festival is like. Often after we finish an interview, a comment is made that adds to what we already learned. In this case, Brendan provided insight into how important each person, backstage or onstage, is. In commenting on what his experience working on The Model American meant, he explained that he had worked on the floor for the play. “I won’t get an award for that floor, but I know it was important for the play.”
Community theatres are an important resource. The Dorset Players is an outstanding example. They not only offer an opportunity for children and adults to act in plays, they also give people a chance to develop their back stage skills such as building sets, hanging lights and all the other aspects of theatre. The major performer in one play might be working on costumes for the next. Although community theatres have to pay royalties for the plays , as all theatres do, community theatres can present classic plays which have large casts because the players volunteer their time.
Recognizing how inspiring the longevity of the Dorset Players is, Bob and I had the pleasure of interviewing Angie Merwin, currently the President of the Board. She also has been doing lighting for many years. Past presidents, Suzi Dorgeloh, who does costumes and directs and Errol Hill who acts, works on sets and does whatever needs to be done, also shared their experiences and gave us a sense of how valuable community theatre is to the volunteers and to their audiences.
The Berkshire Theatre Critics Association announced the nominees for their Second Annual Berkshire Theatre Awards. These awards, known as “Berkies,” are given to theatres in Massachusetts, Vermont, New York and Connecticut. They are voted on by the critics in the area. The awards celebrate the quality and diversity of theatre in the greater Berkshire region. There is also a special award honoring the late Larry Murray, the founder of the awards. This award, The Larry Murray Award for Community Engagement on the part of a theatre company, is voted on by the Association’s Board members.
The award winners will be announced at the awards ceremony November 6 on the St. Germain Stage in the Sybelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield.
Bob and I interviewed Peter Bergman, the President of the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association, about the association and the awards. After you click below to listen to him, you can review the nominees below.
The Last Wife runs until November 5 at the Elayne Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA. This is a production of WAM Theatre. The play runs Friday through Sunday. Tickets are purchased through the Shakespeare and Company box office.
The play is about Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr, and her influence on a future king and two queens of England, specifically Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. This is history as it should be experienced. Not only is the language contemporary, but the issues that the play raises about the political power of women are relevant today. Not just history, the play is a delightful theatrical experience.