theater

Bob Goepfert Reviews "The True"

9 hours ago
Michael McKean, Edie Falco and Peter Scolari in "The True"
Monique Carboni


NEW YORK - In its purest form, the political machine can serve individuals, but ultimately it neuters the democratic process.  At least that’s what playwright Sharr White says in his new play “The True.”

Shakespeare & Company is currently presenting Obie Award-winning playwright Taylor Mac's dark comedy “HIR,” directed by Alice Reagan through October 7.

The play begins with Isaac, who has returned from the war in Afghanistan, only to discover a household in revolt.

The insurgent: his mom.

Liberated from an oppressive marriage with a now ailing husband, and with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling as her ally, she’s on a crusade to dismantle the patriarchy. But in Taylor Mac’s sly, subversive comedy, we learn that annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it.

Mac has said “Hir” was inspired and influenced by Sam Shephard’s “Buried Child” and by his own miserable hometown experience in Stockton, California.

We are joined by actors Elizabeth Aspenlieder, John Hadden, and Jack Doyle.

The play, “Ann,” is an intimate, brash, and feisty portrait of Ann Richards, legendary Governor of Texas. 

Written by award-winning actress and writer Holland Taylor, “Ann” is an inspiring and hilarious play that brings us face to face with the complex, colorful, and captivating character bigger than the state from which she hailed. The Dorset Theatre Festival production is performed by two-time Tony nominee Jayne Atkinson (“House of Cards,” "Madam Secretary”) and directed by Kristen van Ginhoven. 

Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "The Spy Who Dumped Me"

Upcoming:

  • "Annie" - Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham, opens Thursday 8/23 at 2 and 8 PM; through Sept. 2
  • Blue Öyster Cult - Empire State Plaza, Albany, Thursday 8/23, 5:30-8:30 PM
  • Dick Dale - Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Thursday 8/23, 7 PM
  • The Blasters - Hangar On the Hudson, Troy, Friday 8/24, 8 PM
  • The Wailin’ Jennys - Calvin Theatre, Northampton, Saturday 8/25, 8 PM - The Egg, Albany, Sunday 8/26, 7:30 PM
  • Crystal Clear Acoustic Concert Series: House Sparrow - Thomas Schutte installation at Stone Hill, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Sunday 8/26, noon-2 PM
  • Borromeo String Quartet; music of Mozart, Bach, Mendelssohn, Ned Rorem - Maverick Concerts, Woodstock, Sunday 8/26, 4 PM
  • "Guardians of the Galaxy" - Outside the Times Union Center, Albany, Monday 8/27, 6:30 preshow/7:30 movie
  • "Sharon Bates: Exhibit B" - Opalka Gallery, Sage Colleges, Albany, opens Tuesday 8/28 through Oct. 13; opening reception Sept. 7

New movies: "Operation Finale," "Papillon," "Skate Kitchen," "The Happytime Murders"

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts was founded in 1978 to create a theatre of unprecedented excellence in Performance, Training, and Education. This season, Shakespeare & Company has presented productions of The Bard’s “Macbeth,” “Love’s Labours Lost,” and “As You Like It” – the last of which runs through September 2.

Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” began performances last night and opens officially on Sunday and Shakespeare & Company’s production of Simon Stephens’ “Heisenberg” opens tonight.

We are joined by Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer, Artistic Director Allyn Burrows, and Director of “Mothers and Sons,” James Warwick.

PITTSFIELD, Mass.  -  “West Side Story” playing at Barrington Stage Company through September 1, is a flawless production of a nearly perfect Broadway musical.   The integration of song, lyrics and story and dance is so united that it almost creates a sense of euphoria. 

Written by four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert E. Sherwood, “The Petrified Forest” tells the story of a waitress named Gabby Maple; a disillusioned writer named Alan Squier; and a fugitive killer named Duke Mantee as they sweat out a manhunt with a handful of colorful characters in an Arizona diner.

Berkshire Theatre Group presents “The Petrified Forest” on The Fitzpatrick Mainstage in Stockbridge, Massachusetts through August 25th.

The production is directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner David Auburn and stars David Adkins (Alan Squier), Rebecca Brooksher (Gabby Mable), and Jeremy Davidson (Duke Mantee) – who join us.

Roslyn Ruff (Berenice) - THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING  By Carson McCullers  Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch  Williamstown Theatre Festival  August 5 - 19
Carolyn Brown / Williamstown Theatre Festival

Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding,” directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, is running on the Main Stage at The Williamstown Theatre Festival through August 19.

Set in the South on the eve of a family wedding in 1945, housekeeper Berenice Sadie Brown tries to calm the nerves of her 12-year-old charge, Frankie, a tomboy - lonely and uncertain - struggling to feel a part of something.

McCullers novel was published in 1946 and the author adapted the story for the stage where it opened on Broadway in 1950.

Roslyn Ruff plays Berenice Sadie Brown. Ruff’s an accomplished television, film, and stage actress with Broadway credits that include “Romeo and Juliet” with Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, and “All the Way” with Bryan Cranston.

Samira Wiley (Pretty Mbane) - DANGEROUS HOUSE  By Jen Silverman  Directed by Saheem Ali  Williamstown Theatre Festival  August 8 - 19
Sarah Sutton / Williamstown Theatre Festival

For its final Nikos Stage production of the 2018 season, The Williamstown Theatre Festival presents “Dangerous House,” a new play by Jen Silverman directed by Saheem Ali.

Set in Cape Town, South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, “Dangerous House” contrasts the celebration of global football against a devastating truth of South African culture when it comes to gender roles and sexuality.

Samira Wiley plays Pretty Mbane. Wiley is an Emmy nominated Actress for her work as Moira on the Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and she played Poussey for four seasons on the Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.”

Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "Mission: Impossible – Fallout"

Upcoming:

  • The Philadelphia Orchestra: Young Virtuosi—Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saens, Elgar, Britten) Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, Thursday 8/9, 2 PM
  • Sylvia Tyson with violinist Scarlet Rivera - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Thursday 8/9, 7 PM
  • "She Loves Me" - Theater Barn, New Lebanon, opens Thursday 8/9 at 8 PM, through Aug. 19
  • "Little Annie Rooney" - Pine Hills Film Colony at Steamer No. 10 Theatre, Albany, Saturday 8/11, 7 PM
  • Ajkun Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote Suite - The Egg, Albany, Saturday 8/11, 7:30 PM
  • Boston Pops: John Williams Film Night - Tanglewood Shed, Lenox, Mass., Saturday 8/11, 8 PM
  • Skerryvore, Schenectady Pipe Band - Agnes MacDonald Music Haven, Sunday 8/12, 7 PM
  • American Idol Live! - Palace Theatre, Albany, Monday 8/13, 8 PM
  • "Guardians of the Galaxy" - Times Union Center outdoor screens, Albany, Monday 8/13, 6:30 PM (“fun & games”), 7:30 PM
  • Skeeter Creek, Sydney Worthley - Rockin on the River, Riverfront Park, Troy, Wednesday 8/15, 5-8:30 PM

New movies: "Generation Wealth," "The Meg," "BlacKkKlansman," "Slender Man"

If you missed the musical “Lempicka,” at Williamstown Theatre Festival, rest assured you will most certainly have another chance to see the show.  This work will certainly be playing on Broadway in the near future.  It’s a big, bold, sprawling work that is filled with powerful music, brilliant staging, gorgeous costumes and performances that are exhaustingly perfect.

In “Skeleton Crew,” Dominique Morisseau’s third play in her Detroit Cycle, a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. Power dynamics shift, and they are pushed to the limits of survival. When the line between blue collar and white collar gets blurred, how far over the lines are they willing to step?

The Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset, Vermont presents “Skeleton Crew” through August 4, directed by Jade King Carroll.

We are joined by actors Mirirai Sithole, Gabriel Lawrence, and Leland Fowler.

The Saratoga Shakespeare Company is presenting two summer productions in Congress Park in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York.

The bard’s “As You Like It” directed by Elizabeth Carlson-Guerin, and “Henry IV, Parts 1&2,”directed by David Girard. This is a Season of Transformation and celebrates Saratoga Shakespeare’s eighteenth summer season of free outdoor theater.

David Girard join us now along with Saratoga Shakespeare Company’s Artistic Director Lary Opitz and actors Gwynedd Vetter-Drusch and Kevin McGuire.

company of a HV Shakespeare production on the hill at Boscobel
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Facebook page

The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival is under way which includes two Shakespeare classics, "Richard II" and "The Taming of the Shrew," alongside David Farr’s adaptation of "The Heart of Robin Hood," and the world premiere of Seth Bockley’s "Rip Van Winkle; or, Cut the Old Moon into Stars, the first-ever mainstage commission by HVSF, featuring 40-plus members of the Hudson Valley community alongside a cast of 4 professional actors.

The season will also feature the HVSF Conservatory Company in an original clown piece, "The Sea-Maid's Music," devised and directed by Zachary Fine.

Davis McCallum is The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's Artistic Director.

Theresa Rebeck's new play "Seared" opens on Wednesday night on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival - her third play to premiere at WTFest. In "Seared," between the smell of sizzling garlic and balsamic drizzle, tempers are boiling over in an on-stage kitchen. Chef Harry has poured his heart into his intimate Brooklyn restaurant and it is finally paying off. A rave review has New Yorkers flocking through his door and selling out every table, but is this the success he has been dreaming of?

This also marks the start of a string of new productions for Theresa Rebeck. After "Seared," she'll premiere her new Broadway play "Bernhard/Hamlet" starring Janet McTeer followed by a New York premiere of "Downstairs" starring Tyne and Tim Daly and the release of her film, "Trouble" starring Anjelica Houston and Bill Pullman.

The Woodstock Shakespeare Festival, celebrating its 22nd Anniversary, will stage the bard’s beloved tragedy “Romeo and Juliet” this summer. The production will run on Woodstock’s outdoor Elizabethan stage every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from July 27 through September 2.

Bird-On-A-Cliff Theatre Company co-founders and artistic co-directors David Aston-Reese and Elli Michaels have run the Woodstock Shakespeare Festival since its beginning 22 years ago and they join us this morning along with “Romeo and Juliet” director, Christopher Martin.

The Badilas are a close-knit family of artists whose incredible talent and community spirit have made them a household name in Hudson. The Badila’s unique blend of Central and West African traditions and popular culture resonates at home, and reverberates on the world stage. Elombe and Pamela Badila united to create a family and legacy of education and performance that celebrates their heritage. Elombe passed away in 2012 and his family continues this mission.

Hudson Hall presents a series of Badila family events this weekend. 

We learn more from each of them but do want to make sure it’s clear that there are many other siblings and participants celebrating and performing in Hudson this weekend.

"Spirit of the River" will be performed at Hudson Hall on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Milandou Badila (aka Young Paris) creates Afrobeat hip-hop music with an electronic injection on Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. His most recent album is “My Tribe.” Lady Moon and The Eclipse perform on Saturday at 7pm - their EP "Believe" is available now and they are working on their first LP.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s second Main Stage production this year is the World Premiere Musical “Lempicka,” book and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer, music by Matt Gould, and directed by Rachel Chavkin.

Tamara de Lempicka, a Polish artist best known for her Art Deco paintings, was an active participant in the artistic and social life of Paris between the World Wars. She transformed herself from destitute refugee to a star of the art world. The musical explores the beauty and danger of one painter pursuing it all.

Sarah LaDuke spoke with Matt Gould and Rachel Chavkin in separate interviews that are both posted here.

Gould is the co-writer of "Invisible Thread" (Second Stage and The American Repertory Theater). He’s the recipient of the 2012 and 2014 Richard Rodgers Award, the Jonathan Larson Award and ASCAP’s Rodgers Award, Dean Kay, and Harold Adamson Awards.

Chavkin received Tony and Lortel nominations, and the Drama Desk, Elliot Norton and the prestigious Smithsonian American Ingenuity Awards for her direction of "Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812" (Broadway, Ars Nova, Kazino, A.R.T.). Other select credits include "The Royale" (Old Globe, LCT- Obie Award, Lortel & Drama Desk Nomination), "Small Mouth Sounds" (Ars Nova, Nat’lTour), and "Hadestown" (New York Theatre Workshop). She is the Founding Artistic Director of The TEAM.

Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s second Main Stage Powerhouse production this summer is “The Waves,” a musical adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf. The piece, which features a book by Lisa Peterson and music and lyrics by the late Davick Bucknam, was produced nearly 30 years ago in New York City. The version running at Vassar July 19-29 is directed by Peterson, features additional music and lyrics by Adam Gwon, and employs four time Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza as creative consultant and actor.

Esparza’s Broadway credits include “Cabaret,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Taboo,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Company,” “The Homecoming,” “Speed the Plow,” “Arcadia,” and “Leap of Faith.” Television credits include “Pushing Daisies,” “Hannibal,” “The Path,” “BoJack Horseman,” and he recently finished a six-season run as ADA Rafael Barba on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Esparza joins us to talk about his work.

The cast at Powerhouse features Ken Barnett, Eleasha Gamble, Douglas Lyons, Alice Ripley, and Lauren Worsham.

Actor Joshua Boone is back at The Williamstown Theatre Festival after making his debut at the festival last year in two plays, "Actually" and "Where Storms are Born." He now stars in James Anthony Tyler’s “Artney Jackson,” where he plays Perkins Howard.

Perkins is one of the employees of the cable company where the play is set. He has was left by his parents at the age of 15 when they were deported. He finished high school and made enough of himself to land a job that allows him buy cool sneakers and a $700 dollar rug from Costco.

Boone appeared on Broadway in the Tupac Shakur musical "Holler if Ya Hear Me" in 2014.

Laila Robins in "A Doll's House, Part 2" at Barrington Stage
Daniel Rader / broadwayworld.com

In the final scene of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 ground-breaking masterwork, “A Doll’s House,” Nora Helmer makes the shocking decision to leave her husband and children and begin a life on her own. Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2” dares to wonder what Nora has been up to since she slammed the door. The play received eight 2017 Tony Award nominations.

Joe Calarco directs “A Doll’s House, Part 2” on Barrington Stage Company’s Main Stage in Pittsfield, MA through July 28. Laila Robins stars as Nora.

Robins appeared in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of George Bernard Shaw's “Heartbreak House,” other Broadway appearances include “Frozen” by Bryony Lavery, “The Herbal Bed” by Peter Whelan, and “The Real Thing” by Tom Stoppard, directed by Mike Nichols. Large and small screen credits include “Deception,” “Murder in the First,” “Homeland,” “Bored to Death,” and “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.”

Matthew Broderick will forever be linked to the cinematic classic of 1986, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." However, before doing that at age 24 – he had already won a Tony Award for Neil Simon’s "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and had starred in Simon’s follow-up "Biloxi Blues." All of this after making his stage debut in Harvey Fierstein’s "Torch Song Trilogy."

Now, Broderick stars in this world premiere comedy by Douglas Carter Beane, "The Closet," as Martin O’Reilly who is stuck in Scranton, PA in a dead-end job at a religious supply company, his marriage is over, and his son won’t return his calls. Then a stranger, played by Tony nominee Brooks Ashmanskas, sashays into his world and drags Martin and everyone around him out of their respective closets.

"The Closet" runs through Saturday night on the Main Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Halley Feiffer
Kirk McCoy / LA Times

Halley Feiffer is a writer and actor. Her plays include "I'm Gonna Pray For You So Hard," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City," and "How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them." Her play "Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow" had its world premiere at The Williamstown Theatre Festival last summer. She has appeared on Broadway in "The Front Page" with Nathan Lane and "The House of Blue Leaves" with Edie Falco. 

Tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock there will be a Fridays@3 reading of Feiffer's new play, "Saying Goodbye to the People I Love From My Bathtub." Fridays@3 readings take place at The Clark Auditorium.

Voice Theatre's main stage production of “All My Sons” runs July 12th through the 29th at the Byrdcliffe Theater in Woodstock, NY.

“All My Sons” is a gripping drama written by one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th Century - Pulitzer Prize-winner Arthur Miller responsible for such great American plays as “Death of a Salesman,” “The Crucible” and “A View from the Bridge.”

Has right and wrong lost its value in America? A monstrous swindle catapults the Keller family, revealing their truths of profit and greed, love and shame.

Leigh Strimbeck plays Kate Keller, Ryan Feyk plays Chris Keller and Shauna Kanter directs.

Tyler Nelson as Paul in Rocking Horse Winner
Gary David Gold

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Opera Saratoga is doing local audiences a great favor by offering two short contemporary operas. It offers an opportunity to have a strong dramatic experience, hear haunting music and see youthful talent at its best. The two pieces on display at the Little Theatre on the grounds of SPAC might not be everyone’s taste, but they are the future of opera.

Chita Rivera
Laura Marie Duncan

The incomparable Broadway icon Chita Rivera performs a one-night-only solo concert, benefiting Williamstown Theatre Festival's New Play & Musical Development Initiative.

The two-time Tony Award winner and recipient of a special honor for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre at the 2018 Tony Awards (last seen at WTF starring in "The Visit" and its subsequent Broadway transfer) will recreate moments from her legendary career, showcasing the artistry and history that has made her a star of the Great White Way and beyond.

She will be accompanied by her long-time trio, Michael Croiter (Music Director/Percussion/Guitar), Gary Adler (Associate Music Director/Piano), and Jim Donica (Bass).

Cecilia Violetta López (Hanna Glawari) and Company of The Merry Widow
Gary David Gold

SARATOGA SPRINGS - If you are looking for a pleasant time in the theater, you will not do much better that the frothy operetta “The Merry Widow,” presented by Opera Saratoga at the Little Theatre in Saratoga State Park.

Debra Jo Rupp in Bekah Brunstetter's The Cake at Barrington Stage Company.
Carolyn Brown

Faith, family and frosting collide in the touching and timely new comic drama by Bekah Brunstetter, "The Cake," starring actress Debra Jo Rupp and directed by Jennifer Chambers. The play is running at Barrington Stage Company's St. Germain Stage through July 15.

Rupp plays Della. Della makes cakes, not judgment calls - those she leaves to her husband, Tim. But when her best friend's daughter comes home to North Carolina to get married, Della's life gets turned upside down when she realizes there's not just one bride, but two. She can't really make a cake for such a wedding, can she?

For the first time in her life Della has to think for herself, forcing her to re-examine some of her deeply-held beliefs, as well as her own marriage.

Debra Jo Rupp has been a regular at Barrington Stage Company in "Love Letters;" "Kimberly Akimbo;" "Dr. Ruth, All the Way;" "To Kill a Mockingbird" and many more. Her film credits include "Big," "Clockwatchers," and "Sgt. Bilko" and over 300 television appearances, most notably on "That ‘70s Show," "Seinfeld," "Friends" and currently recurring on "This Is Us" and "The Ranch" with Sam Elliot.

Christopher Lloyd in "Our Town" at Weston Playhouse
Hubert Schriebl

In the small town of Grover’s Corners, ordinary people lead extraordinary lives. The Pulitzer Prize winning "Our Town" is a simple yet profound story of a community, brought to life by Thornton Wilder’s singular voice.

Christopher Lloyd is playing The Stage Manager in Weston Playhouse's production of "Our Town" through July 7.

Lloyd is a beloved American character actor, best known for his work on "Taxi" and in the "Back to the Future" film franchise.

This season the Weston Playhouse presents productions of "Anne of Green Gables," "Our Town," "Fun Home," "West Side Story," "A Doll's House, Part 2," "Million Dollar Quartet," and "Two Trains Running" on its two stages in Weston, Vermont. 

Steve Stettler is Weston's Producing Artistic Director.

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