Shakespeare and Company presents The Children by Lucy Kirkwood at the Elayne Bernstein Theatre through August 18. This play blends comedy and drama as three old friends deal with issues that are personal and social. The audience is engrossed as each moment reveals new information about the trio’s complicated relationship. Set in England, the play deals with matters that are contemporary and universal. Although no children appear on stage, questions about the children are crucial to understanding their situation.
The Williamstown Theatre Festival has developed a unique program which involves the community in the theatre festival. Since 2015, the Festival has had a year long program which engages people from the Berkshires community in creating a production of their own The Festival partners with other organizations in the Berkshires. In the fall, winter and spring, artists from the Festival offer acting, play writing and story-circle workshops for community members of all ages, social and economic backgrounds and abilities. Out of these workshops emerge those who will work on creating the stage production that tells a story about the Berkshires. Bob and I were fortunate enough to interview Hayley Sherwood and Boo Killebrew about this year’s production, Summer’s Soldier. Click on the link below to listen to the wonderful story they have to tell about this remarkable program.
The Mac-Haydn Theatre presents Ragtime, a musical based on E. L. Doctorow’s novel., through August 4th. Bob and I saw the original Broadway production and have seen several productions since. However, this production creates a unique experience. The intimacy of the Mac-Haydn Theatre brings the audience into the play as the large and diverse cast surrounds the audience just as the audience surrounds the stage. John Saunders’ direction and the choreography of Sebastiani Romagnolo evoke this moment in American history with a reality and grace that transports you back in time, while the play seems more relevant than ever. The score by Flahery and Abrens and the book by Terrance McNally are as wonderful as one remembers. However, some of the scenes such as those with the immigrant Jewish Father and his daughter bring tears, not only about what was happening back then, but what is happening now. When the character of Mother sings, “We can’t go back to before,.” or Coalhouse Walker sings, “Make them hear you,” the songs have new meaning.
Bob and I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Fhodes-Devey, Gabe Belyeu and Tryrell Reggins before the show. Click on this link to hear the interview Ragtime Interview
That this production has such a short run is too bad so click on Mac-Haydn Theatre website or call 418-392-9292 quickly for tickets.
The Berkshire Theatre Group presents Working, a musical based on the book by Studs Terkel, through August 24 at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA. Given the size of the Unicorn Theatre, the audience feels close to the performers. This ensemble of ten performers skillfully act, sing and dance as they celebrate the experience of the diverse workers emerging from Terkel’s interviews. The variety of composers whose music enhances the stories, makes the hour and forty-five minutes glide by. This tribute to working people is a satisfying and enjoyable experience.
The Berkshire Theatre Group presents The Skin of Our Teeth at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage through August 3. Thorton Wilder won one of his three Pulitizer Prizes for this play which is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 1942. David Auburn directs an outstanding production with a fine cast who bring this unique play to life as Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus and their two children survive three catastrophes. Survival is one of the themes of the play which broke theatrical conventions when it was first produced and continues to do so now. This is a production that should not be missed. Listen to what Bob and I have to say about it by clicking on The Skin of Our Teeth Discussion
Shakespeare and Company presents William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew outdoors at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox, MA through August 17. Seeing these outdoor productions is always a delight. For some of us who remember the early days of Shakespeare and Company, these productions bring happy memories of the days when the company was in residence at The Mount. Looking at the families sitting on the green hillside, it is clear that new memories of Shakespeare productions out of doors are being created. The Taming of the Shrew is a challenging play which Bob and I discuss. That, however, does not diminish the pleasure of this production.
The Dorset Theatre Festival presents the world premiere of Dig through July 27. With its absorbing themes and complex characters, this play should have many future productions. The setting, an old shop filled with plants is not the usual one for a play. The audience enters another world as it gets to know the complicated people who find solace in the plants they tend. Written and directed by Theresa Rebeck, this play offers insight into flawed but redeemable humans whom you care about. For Bob and myself, seeing new plays is exciting as we enter lives we have known little or nothing of before. However much we enjoy a play, it is always a learning experience as people are brought to life through the skill of the actors and director. We have seen many plays by Theresa Rebeck and are always impressed by the diversity of her work as she explores the stories of different people in various worlds. Try not to miss this play.
Oldcastle Theatre presents Brighton Beach Memoirs through July 28. This production should not be missed. Neil Simon was a prolific American playwright. At one point, it would have been difficult to imagine a season without a Neil Simon play being performed. This is the first of an autobiographical trilogy that has pleased audiences both in film and on stage for many years. Starting with Brighton Beach Memoirs, Simon’s work changed. It was not any less humorous but there was a greater depth to the characters. They were not types as much as very human individuals. All of this is beautifully captured in this production of the play. Given the intimacy of the Oldcastle Theatre and the outstanding acting and direction of the play, the audience feels emotionally connected to the Jerome family with its ups and downs. Over the years, Bob and I have seen productions of the play, but each production of a play is a unique experience. The humor and the humanity of this family offer a special evening in the theatre. After listening to our discussion by clicking below,
Barrington Stage Company presents Time Flies and Other Comedies at the St. Germain Stage through July 27. This delightful assortment of six comedies with five versatile actors moving through the various situations with flair and brilliant comedic timing. Each play is quite different and the actors change into the clothes, characters and situations with remarkable ease. The playwright, David Ives is well-know for his various sets of short plays that are challenging and amusing. This cast keeps the audience attentive and amused through all these unique and delightful plays.
Selling Kabul is playing through July 20. Like the other productions at the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Nikos Stage , it is a World Premiere. Bob and I had not realized how short the run of the play was, but we are glad that we saw it and urge others to do so if they can. The play will be having an Off Broadway production at Playwrights Horizons in New York in March 2020. The intimate drama is worth seeing as it combines the human and the political while exploring the consequences of the United States breaking its promises to Afghan interpreters that they would receive visas to America. We see a young man who has put his wife, his child,, his sister and her husband and many others in danger as he hides from those who consider him a traitor for helping the Americans and other countries in this continuing war. Each of the actors brings his or her character to vivid life. Williamstown Theatre Festival director Mandy Greenfield, is to be commended for producing new and thought provoking and moving plays that engage audiences while making them think. Check out the other plays at the Festival so that you don’t miss any of the fine productions they offer.