summer theater 2019

Hershey Felder in "George Gershwin Alone"
Mark Garvin

The celebrated one-man play, “George Gershwin Alone,” features acclaimed actor, playwright and accomplished pianist, Hershey Felder rendering an intimate portrait of George Gershwin’s personal life and artistic genius.

Widely regarded as the man who brought jazz into the concert hall, Gershwin changed the musical landscape forever. Packed with Gershwin’s legendary songbook, “George Gershwin Alone” features delightful classics such as “I Got Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” songs from “Porgy and Bess” and “An American in Paris,” and a complete performance of “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Berkshire Theatre Group presents “George Gershwin Alone” at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts through August 31.

Edward Albee’s classic “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” is being performed at the Weston Playhouse in Weston, Vermont through August 31. The production is directed by Mike Donahue.

In the play, it’s two o’clock in the morning when George and Martha return home from a college faculty party, but the night has only just begun. An evening of fun and games takes a dark turn as the line between reality and illusion blurs.

Three cast members from Weston join us this morning. Andrew Garman (George), Kristin Villanueva (Honey) and Jeffrey Omura (Nick).

Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog” won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for drama and was the number-one choice in last year’s New York Times list of “The 25 Best American Plays Since ‘Angels in America.’” The play is now being performed at Shakespeare & Company through September 8th.

In the play: two brothers, Lincoln and Booth, are locked in a battle of wits and struggle to come to terms with their identity and what history has handed them, even their names.

Director Regge Life; actors Deaon Griffin-Pressley and Bryce Michael Wood joined us.

Celebrating its 33rd summer season, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF) is a critically acclaimed professional, non-profit theater company based in Garrison, New York. The Festival has established a reputation for engaging and highly inventive productions staged under an iconic, open-air Theater Tent overlooking the Hudson River at historic Boscobel House and Gardens.

Jason O’Connell joined us to fill us in on two of HVSF’s current offerings. Returning to HVSF for a tenth season, the actor and playwright is portraying the title character of "Cyrano" in a new adaptation of the classic Edmond Rostand tale, which O’Connell has co-written with Brenda Withers. O'Connell is also playing The Narrator/Mysterious Man in the James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods.”

“I Loved Lucy” is an autobiographical play by Lee Tannen about his friendship with entertainment icon Lucille Ball during the final years of the comedy legend’s life.

After receiving a warm reception in London, the play will have its New York premiere performances in the Hudson Valley this month presented by Gary DiMauro at Helsinki Hudson in Hudson, New York on August 24, and at The Woodstock Playhouse in Woodstock, New York on August 31.

In this production, Lee Tannen will play himself opposite Sandra Dickinson as Lucy.

Accomplished stage and screen actor, Sandra Dickinson is best known for her work in Birds Eye Beefburger TV advertisements directed by Alan Parker in the early 1970s, and as Trillian in the 1981 television adaptation of “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.” She’s often works as a voice-actor for animated series.

Matt McGrath, Alyse Alan Louis, Sam Heldt, Ellen Harvey star in "Fall Springs" at Barrington Stage Company August 9-31
Bill Wright

The next mainstage show of Barrington Stage Company’s 25th Anniversary Season is “Fall Springs” -- a World Premiere Musical from Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab. It will run on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in Pittsfield, Massachusetts from August 9 to August 31.

The town of Fall Springs is cash-strapped but sits directly on top of America’s largest reserve of cosmetic essential oils. It has big dreams but at what cost? With new fracking techniques being recklessly implemented, the ground beneath Fall Springs is crumbling.

The new musical, directed by Stephen Brackett, features Music and Lyrics by Niko Tsakalakos and Book and Lyrics by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. They joined us at The Linda along with actors Felicia Finley, Ellen Harvey, Sam Heldt, Alyse Alan Louis, Matt McGrath, and Eliseo Román.

The final Mainstage show of the 2019 Williamstown Theatre Festival season is a new translation of Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts" by Paul Walsh, directed by Carey Perloff.

With great happiness, Mrs. Alving (Uma Thurman) welcomes her painter son Oswald (Tom Pecinka) home from years of living abroad. But when he starts to flirt with the family maid (Catherine Combs), she must intercede to save her son and herself from scandals present and past. Mrs. Alving struggles to find joy in a life bound by the strictures of Pastor Manders (Bernard White) and the spectral chains of mistakes from long ago.

Bernard White joins us to talk about the production.

Actor Deirdre O’Connell joins us to discuss her work in the World Premiere of Adam Bock's "Before the Meeting," which is currently running on The Nikos Stage at The Williamstown Theatre Festival. The production is directed by Trip Cullman.

Every day, Gail (O’Connell) and the regular members of her early morning group set up for their meeting in the exact same way: Nicole makes the coffee, Gail arranges the chairs, and Ron complains. As they forge a path toward sobriety and well-being, they come to rely on the routine and each other. But when Gail’s estranged granddaughter reopens old wounds, Gail knows it will take more than coffee, chairs, and companionship to keep her life from falling apart.

A few of O'Connell's credit include Broadway's "The Front Page" and "Magic/Bird;" television's "Nurse Jackie," "The Closer," and "Six Feet Under," and the films "A Dog Year," "What Happens in Vegas." and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Based on the Oscar-Winning DreamWorks Animation film, “Shrek The Musical” is a Tony Award-Winning fairy tale adventure, featuring songs from Jeanine Tesori and a book by David Lindsay-Abaire. “Shrek” brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage.

“Shrek” tells the tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a short-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, that’s where Shrek comes in.

The Berkshire Theatre Group production runs through August 17 at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We are joined this morning by Director Travis Daly and actor Alex Getlin who plays Fiona.

  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: "Once Upon a Time In Hollywood"

Upcoming:

  • Marco Benevento, CTRL Control - Alive at 5, Jennings Landing, Corning Preserve, Albany, Thursday 8/1, 5 PM
  • The Regrettes - The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany, Thursday 8/1, 8 PM
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra: Songs of the Sea, featuring pianist Janice Carissa - (music of Britten, Ravel, Debussy) - SPAC Amphitheatre, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, Friday 8/2, 8 PM
  • Black Arts & Cultural Festival featuring Mya, DJ Brian B, Gedeon Luke and the People, more - Empire State Plaza, Albany, Saturday 8/3, 2-7 PM
  • Sweet Honey in the Rock - Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday 8/3, 8 PM
  • HMT To Go: "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Sunday 8/4 at 3 and 7 PM
  • Thornetta Davis, Tas Cru & His Band of Tortured Souls - Agnes MacDonald Music Haven, Central Park, Schenectady, Sunday 8/4, 7 PM
  • Herb Alpert & Lani Hall - The Egg, Albany, Sunday 8/4, 7:30 PM
  • Disney’s "Newsies" - Park Playhouse, Washington Park, Albany, opens Tuesday 8/6, 7:30 PM, through Aug. 24
  • “Just for Kids” Free Summer Movies Series: "Night at the Museum" - Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes, Wednesday 8/7, 1 PM

New movies: "The Farewell," "Sword of Trust," "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw"

Jane Kaczmarek, Mark Feuerstein, and Mark Blum in "Tell Me I'm Not Crazy" at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Joseph O'Malley

Actress Jane Kaczmarek is best known for playing the character of Lois on the hit television series “Malcolm in the Middle.” She is a three-time Golden Globe and seven-time Emmy Award nominee. Currently she is starring in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of Sharyn Rothstein’s “Tell Me I’m Not Crazy.”

Forced into retirement and unsettled by the changing world around him, Sol buys himself a gun and his family is up in arms. His wife Diana (Kaczmarek) thought they’d spend more time together and with the grandkids, but Sol’s new hobby puts a bullet in that plan.

Meanwhile, their son Nate is trying to be a good stay-at-home dad while his wife is climbing the corporate ladder, and school is calling with concerns about their kid.

“Tell Me I’m Not Crazy” is a world premiere comedy playing on the festival’s Nikos Stage though August 3.

In “Beau,” eight actor-musicians tell the story of Ace Baker, who spends the first decade of his life fatherless. At 12 years old, a phone call reveals that his grandfather, Beau, has been alive all his life and his mother knew. Family secrets unravel as Ace rushes to make up for lost time with a man who changes his life and puts a guitar in his hand.

“Beau” features a concept, book, and lyrics by Douglas Lyons and music by Ethan D. Pakchar and Lyons. Michael Wilson directs the Adirondack Theatre Festival production which runs in Glens Falls, New York August 3-9.

We are joined by Douglas Lyons and Ethan D. Pakchar, actor Matt Rodin who plays Ace, and ATF Producing Artistic Director Chad Rabinovitz.

Actor Thomas Sadoski is currently appearing on the Main Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival starring in the world premiere of Bess Wohl's "Grand Horizons" with Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Priscilla Lopez, Maulik Pancholy, Ashley Park, Jamey Sheridan, and JoBeth Williams. TV viewers will recognize Sadoski from his work on HBO's "The Newsroom" and the recently cancelled CBS hit "Life in Pieces." Moviegoers have seen him in "Wild" and "John Wick: Chapter 2" just to name a few and those who love theater may have seen him in his Tony nominated work in "Reasons to be Pretty" or in "House of Blue Leaves," "The Tempest," or "Other Desert Cities" - for which he won a Tony Award.

"Grand Horizons" runs through July 28 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The play is scheduled to run at Second Stage Theater in New York City in December. It is directed by Leigh Silverman.

Three-time Pulitzer Prize-Winner Thornton Wilder’s "The Skin of Our Teeth" is now playing at The Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and runs through August 3. Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-Winner David Auburn directs the show.

"The Skin of our Teeth" is an optimistic tribute to the invincibility of the human spirit. To tell us more we welcome Harriet Harris who plays Mrs. Antrobus and Danny Johnson who plays Mr. Antrobus.

The new play, “Gertrude and Claudius,” billed as a prequel to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” began performances at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts last night, officially opens July 21, and runs through August 3 on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage.

The play is by award-winning playwright, Mark St. Germain, author of “The Best of Enemies,” “Dancing Lessons,” “Dr. Ruth, All the Way,” and the long-running Off-Broadway hit “Freud’s Last Session” – among many other plays.

“Gertrude and Claudius” is based on John Updike’s 2000 novel of the same title. The story shows Queen Gertrude’s relationship with Hamlet’s father, who appears only as ghost in the Shakespeare play, and how she conspires with his brother Claudius to commit the murder that sets in motion the events of the classic drama.

St. Germain has a long history with Barrington Stage, this being his 13th play produced by the company.

This summer, Saratoga Shakespeare Company celebrates its 19th season with two of Shakespeare’s greatest works in two different venues: "King Lear" in Historic Congress Park and "The Tempest" on the grounds of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Both productions deal with themes of stormy family relationships, human frailty, revenge, and redemption.

Building on last year’s successful collaboration, Saratoga Shakespeare begins the season joining forces with SPAC and Radial Arts to present Poetry in the Pines, bringing a new, innovative and music-filled production of "The Tempest" on the SPAC grounds. Performances will take place at the Reflecting Pool on Friday, July 19 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and on Saturday, July 20 at 11 a.m.

"King Lear" opens the following week with performances on Tuesday, July 23 through Saturday, July 27 and Tuesday, July 30 through Saturday, August 3. All performances will be at 6 p.m. in Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, on the Alfred Z. Solomon Stage.

We we welcome Saratoga Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Lary Opitz (who is playing King Lear); and production Directors Marcus Dean Fuller ("The Tempest") and Wesley Broulik ("King Lear").

Dorset Theatre Festival Resident Playwright Theresa Rebeck – author of Roundabout Theatre Company's 2018 Broadway production "Bernhardt/Hamlet" - has developed more than six productions at Dorset that have gone on to other stages around the country, including 2017’s "Downstairs" starring Tim Daly and Tyne Daly, which ran Off-Broadway at Primary Stages in the fall of last year.

The most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time, Rebeck returns to the Dorset Theatre Festival with "Dig" – running through July 27th.

A dying plant shop in a dying urban neighborhood receives a visitor from the past: Meghan, the neighborhood screw-up, whose suicide attempt followed a terrible tragedy. Roger, the store owner, wants nothing to do with this situation, but Meghan is improbably clinging to life. Can a soul beyond saving be saved? It is a play about courage, redemption and photosynthesis.

Living Room Theatre at the Park McCullough House in North Bennington, Vermont is gearing up for their 8th season this July 17-28th with “Lucy’s Wedding” - LRT's fourth new play and third by a female playwright since its inception in 2012.

The 7-member cast from New York City plays 5 female characters and 2 male characters. “Lucy’s Wedding,” written and directed by LRT co-artistic director Randolyn Zinn, is a comedy about an American matriarchy gone awry.

To tell us more we welcome Producer and Co-artistic Director of Living Room Theater Allen McCullough and actors Kirk Jackson, actor and Karen Trott.

Shakespeare & Company is currently presenting William Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night" directed by Company Artistic Director, Allyn Burrows. This classic showcases a rich, affecting, and deeply funny story of longing, love, and laughter which paints Shakespeare at his peak. Performances run through August 4th in the Tina Packer Playhouse.

This production of "Twelfth Night, or What You Will" unfolds in a mutable landscape of yearning and surprises, set in a dance hall on a boardwalk by the seashore in 1959. It Is the story of what arises from a shipwreck, the madness of love, and that shipwreck called love.

Helmed by Burrows who has previously acted in three different productions of "Twelfth Night" including the mainstage production at Shakespeare & Company in 1991 joins us this morning. Two of the actors join us as well - Miles Anderson (Malvolio) and Bella Merlin (Maria.)

Rachel Chavkin
Chad Batka

Rachel Chavkin won the Tony Award for best direction of a musical last month for the Tony Award winning best new musical "Hadestown." Fresh from that win she's taking on her newest project, "Annie Salem: An American Tale," the first Musical Workshop production of the 2019 Powerhouse season presented by Vassar and New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie, New York. The workshop will have performances July 5-7.

Adapted from the novel by Mac Wellman, "Annie Salem" features a book by Chavkin, music by Heather Christian, and lyrics by Chavkin and Christian. The show is an otherworldly journey into the jagged heart of rust-belt Ohio, where blue monkeys play in the wreckage of post-industrial America, and where high school boy Jack Scan is in love with the prettiest girl in town. It is a timely adaptation of Mac Wellman’s wry, surrealist coming-of-age story that travels through time and space, to Mars and back again as it tries to make sense of the forces lurking in the American woods.

André Braugher In "A Human Being, Of A Sort" At Williamstown Theatre Festival
Williamstown Theatre Festival - Joseph O'Malley

André Braugher is a Golden Glove and Emmy Award winner best known for his roles in "Homicide: Life on the Street" and the current NBC sitcom, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." He is currently starring in the Williamstown Theatre Festival's World-Premiere production of Jonathan Payne's "A Human Being, of a Sort."

Braugher plays a Southern convict named Smokey who is guarding the Bronx Zoo's most sensational exhibit: Ota Benga, a Congolese pygmy. 

Based on a true story, the play takes place in 1906, the public's fascination intensifies and protestors call for Ota's release, Smokey must grapple with the fact that his own freedom depends on another black man's captivity. 

"A Human Being, of a Sort" is directed at Williamstown by Whitney White and runs through July 7.

"Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story" is the new musical about the incredible rise and fall of Alan Freed, the man who coined the phrase rock and roll and brought its sound to the world. He discovered black artists and got them record deals. He traveled the country and got them heard from coast to coast. He spoke to the younger generation and brought them to their feet. By the dawn of the ’60s, he was the biggest name in music until scandal made him the biggest target in America.

To learn more about The Berkshire Theatre Group production of "Rock and Roll Man," which runs at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA through July 21, we welcome BTG's Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, producer and co-writer Rose Caiola, Tony Award-nominated actor Alan Campbell who plays Alan Freed and multiple-Emmy Award-nominated George Wendt who plays J. Edgar Hoover.

Beth Henley
Courtesy of Beth Henley

Since 1985, Vassar and New York Stage and Film have been proud partners in the Powerhouse Season which is known for being the springboard for new stories that go on to theaters across the country and around the world.

This summer, Powerhouse’s second Mainstage production is Beth Henley’s “Lightning (or The Unbuttoning).”

In a cabin high on a peak surrounded by the blue mountains and a vibrant, swirling sky, a young woman is visited by a traveling salesman as a lightning storm brews. A mysterious, mystical visitor, he awakens in her the promise and the peril of something more.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Beth Henley returns to Powerhouse with this story of resilience and determination in an unforgiving world.

The Dorset Theatre Festival’s 42nd Season is underway featuring the classic revival of Noël Coward’s "Private Lives" which plays through July 6. Then the World Premiere of "Dig," written and directed by Theresa Rebeck runs from July 11 – 27.

Another World Premiere - "Mrs. Christie" by Heidi Armbruster, directed by Giovanna Sardelli runs from August 1 – 17 and then "Slow Food" by Wendy MacLeod ends the season playing August 22–31. The season also includes the Pipeline Series: Three New Works in Process (July 2, July 23, and August 13).

Artistic Director Dina Janis joins us.

Since 1985, Vassar and New York Stage and Film have been partners in the Powerhouse season, a collaboration known for being the springboard for new productions that go on to theaters across the country and around the world.

The 2019 season began this past weekend and continues through July 28 bringing some of the most influential theatrical voices working today to Poughkeepsie, New York for fully-staged productions, workshops, and readings of new plays and musicals, and readings of other works in progress.

Johanna Pfaelzer is the Artistic Director of New York Stage and Film and she joins us with a preview.

Barrington Stage Company’s first Main Stage show of the 2019 summer season is the Tony Award winning Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical “Into the Woods.”

Originally on Broadway in 1987, “Into the Woods” tells the tale of a childless baker and his wife as they endeavor to lift their family curse by journeying into the woods where they encounter Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood, and other classic fairy tale characters.

The Barrington Stage Company production is directed by Joe Calarco and runs in Pittsfield, Massachusetts through July 13.

This morning we are joined by actors Mara Davi, Mykal Kilgore, Pepe Nufrio, and Kevin Toniazzo-Naughton and Musical Director Darren R. Cohen.

The Adirondack Theatre Festival is celebrating its 25th Anniversary season in Glens Falls, New York.

Running now through August 9th – the festival will present four mainstage productions, a concert reading, a "greatest hits" cabaret, a magical comedy show, and a dinner theatre for kids at the Charles R. Wood Theater.

Producing Artistic Director Chad Rabinovitz joins us with a preview of the season.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2019 summer season is about to get underway, the 65th season for the Tony Award-winning theatre company, which will include a production of  "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry marking the 60th anniversary of the Broadway opening, a new translation of Henrik Ibsen’s "Ghosts," five world premieres, two WTF-commissioned plays, and much more.

The season, running from June 25 – August 18, 2019, begins on the Main Stage with "A Raisin in the Sun" by Tony Award nominee Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Obie and NAACP Award winner Robert O’Hara and featuring Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson and Obie Award winner Francois Battiste. 

Mandy Greenfield is the Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Shakespeare & Company’s 2019 summer season is now under way – opening last night and running through October 13, 2019. Under the theme,"The Strings of the Heart," the season includes Shakespeare's “Twelfth Night,” “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” and, in aspecial work-shop production of “Coriolanus.”

The contemporary plays this season are the Pulitzer Prize finalist “The Waverly Gallery” by Kenneth Lonergan; Tony Award nominated play “The Children” by Lucy Kirkwood; Pulitzer Prize winner “Topdog/Underdog” by MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient Suzan-Lori Parks; and “Time Stands Still” by Obie Award winner Donald Margulies.

Allyn Burrows is Shakespeare & Company’s Artistic Director.