The highlights of the cultural weekend in our region include: choral music, chamber music, singer-songwriters, play readings, plus a whole lot more.
Twenty-five years ago, I saw singer Gail Nelson portray Billie Holiday in an unassuming nightclub in the Housatonic section of Great Barrington, Mass., called the Macano Inn. Nelson’s performance was called “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” and in it, Nelson brilliantly brought to life the legendary jazz singer best known for songs including "God Bless the Child," "When a Woman Loves a Man" and "Strange Fruit."
The theatrical concert also happened to be the inaugural production of a nascent theater company called the Barrington Stage Company, founded by Julianne Boyd, who had previously been artistic director of the Berkshire Theatre Festival. The rest, as they say, is history. Barrington Stage went on to claim its rightful place alongside the Berkshire’s other summer theaters, along the way sending many of its productions to Broadway, and most famously incubating the landmark William Finn musical, “The 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
Barrington Stage celebrates that legacy by reprising Nelson’s performance in “Gail Nelson Sings Billie Holiday” on Saturday and Monday at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret in Pittsfield Mass. Also at Barrington Stage on Saturday night is the album release concert for regional roots-rock group Whiskey Treaty Roadshow. And the critically acclaimed one-man show, “Hold These Truths,” continues its run at Barrington Stage this weekend through next.
The Cantilena Chamber Choir celebrates its 15thanniversary with a gala concert on Saturday at 7:30pmat Trinity Church in Lenox, Mass. The program includes the Mass for chorus and orchestra by Igor Stravinsky, as well as works by Byrd, Vaughan Williams, and Pizzetti.
Singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault kicks off this summer’s Troubadour Series at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington tonight at 8pm. Regional favorite Bobby Sweet brings his dazzling song craft and musicianship to the Guthrie Center on Saturday night at 8 p.m.
The Actors’ Ensemble brings Horton Foote’s moving play “The Trip to Bountiful” to life at PS21in Chatham, N.Y., with performances this Saturday and Sunday as well as next weekend.
Rock singer-songwriter, Tal Wilkenfeld, brings her unique blend of hard-rock and intimate self-portraits to Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday at 9 p.m. Wilkenfeld is perhaps best known for her instrumental prowess on bass guitar, heard in the service of the likes of Jeff Beck, Prince, the Allman Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Ryan Adams, and Mick Jagger, which saw her wind up on the cover of Bass Magazine. Now, Tal Wilkenfeld strikes out on her own, with her nakedly raw and emotional vocals and incisive songwriting. Think Ani DiFranco meets Led Zeppelin.
Hudson Hall presents Plays in Progress: Seeking Validation, an afternoon of staged readings of short, new works on Sunday at 3 p.m. With works written by Ellen Clarkson, Mel Cobb, Jr., Thalia Cunningham, Val Kavanagh, Byron Nilsson, and Jesse Waldinger, Seeking Validation features short plays about a bizarre job interview, a contentious writers’ group, a bittersweet reunion, a Mount Rushmore dedication gone awry, a rigid TSA agent, two elderly Venetians admiring the scenery, and a porn star with aspirations.
And finally, this Saturday at 8pm, the Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle presents the Escher String Quartet at Bard College playing worksby Mozart, Korngold, and Dvorak.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com