I know how gardeners feel when the seed catalogs arrive in the middle of winter. It’s a signal that no matter how dismal the weather, there is hope for the future.
That’s how I feel, when in April, summer theater schedules are announced. Yes, it’s months away from opening nights, but there is hope.
This year it’s more than hope. It’s salvation. In 2020 there were no announcements. And, except for a couple of determined companies who found a way to offer a couple of productions under a tent, all theaters were closed. That makes this April’s announcements a joyous occasion.
All COVID protocols concerning masks, social distancing, and designated seating will be in effect both on stage and in the audience. In most cases, there will not be tickets or programs and some organizations will require temperature taking and contact listings. Nothing has been released about the need for vaccinations or a negative COVID test. There will be inconveniences, but there will be theatre.
The Berkshire Theatre Group, is producing a three-play summer season. They are also producing a series of concerts between May. 1 – July 3. The concerts will be offered in a tent outside the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.
As for theater, the tent on the Stockbridge, MA. campus will host the Oscar Wilde classic comedy of manners, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” It runs June 18 to July 10.
The family musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” will be offered at the Colonial tent July 23- August 15. This space has the distinction of being the location where last year “Godspell” became the first live musical offered nationally after the pandemic shutdown.
The final show is “Nina Simone: Four Women.” The play focuses on the famed African-American jazz singer’s transition from performer to activist. It will be offered outdoors behind the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. It runs August 13-September 5.
Barrington Stage Company has revealed that its season will be split between their indoor main stage and under tents on the property.
The season starts on June 10 with “Who Could Ask For Anything More,” a concert devoted to the music of George Gershwin. It will be offered in a tent on the Barrington Stage property.
July 9-24 a play with a to-be-announced title will be offered in the same space. Also playing in the tent is “Boca,” a comedy about seniors living in Florida. It runs July 30-August 22.
Barrington Stage’s indoor theater season begins on June 18, with a new play “Chester Bailey.” It teams the popular Tony Award-winning actor Reed Birney with his son Ephraim. It’s a World War II drama concerning a doctor and his patient. It continues through July 3.
July 16-August 1, presents the premier of “Eleanor” about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt.
The indoor season finishes August 12 to 29 with “Sister Story,” a work about an actual person who had a hot line for people to anonymously confess their crimes. This story is about one of the truly bizarre confessions left on the tape.
BSC will also offer several special events - in including the week long “Celebrating Black Voices” in midtown Pittsfield, August 3-8.
Williamstown Theater Festival is also producing outside this summer. The first of the three events is “Nine Solo Plays by Black Artists.” It will be offered on the front lawn of the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance in Williamstown. It consists of nine 30-minute pieces by Black playwrights written for actors of color. They will be offered in three units, each featuring three plays. It runs July 6-25
The second piece, “Row,” is a world premiere musical describing the exploits of the first woman who attempted to row the Atlantic Ocean. It was originally scheduled for 2020 and is part of the company’s audio book series. It plays July 13- August 8. It is offered outside the Clark Museum in Williamstown.
The third work is an immersive theater piece which will take place at various sites throughout the town. It features and was devised by The Forest Arden theater company and will be performed July 20-August 8.
Shakespeare & Company just built an outside 500-seat amphitheater on its Lenox, MA property. But to-date, the only title announced is “King Lear,” which stars Christopher Lloyd. It opens July 2.
However, if you can’t wait for the excitement of live theater – in only a couple of weeks, the local theater company, Playhouse Stage, will be producing a musical indoors at the Cohoes Music Hall. “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” will run Fridays through Sundays, April 30-May 9. Seating is limited to 50 people a performance.
The four person cast details the joys and problems of courtship and marriage. The first act is a light-hearted look at dating; the second examines the equally funny realization that courting and marriage require two separate skill sets.
It’s not only wonderful news for theater-goers. It means that if theater can be produced safely you can be sure all the art forms will be represented in some manner this summer.
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.
The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.