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“I Love You,” Not Perfect But A Lot Of Fun

May 9, 2021
"I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change"
Sabrina Flores

The big news about ”I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” playing at Cohoes Music Hall weekends through May 23, is that it’s the first area indoor theater production in over a year. The good news is that though the material is inconsistent, it’s a well-performed, swiftly directed effort that provides a lot of laughs.

SPAC venue for Chamber series & opera saratoga
SPAC

With the summer arts scene almost upon us, I offer a word of advice. Buy your tickets early.

Artwork for "The Light" presented by WAM
provided - WAM Theatre

WAM Theatre’s latest production is a reading of the new play "The Light" by Loy Webb, directed by Colette Robert, which will be available to stream through Sunday, May 2.

In the play, a surprise proposal gift puts the future of Genesis and Rashad's relationship at risk when they are forced to confront a devastating secret from the past. "The Light" is a 70-minute, real-time rollercoaster ride of laughter, romance, and despair that uncovers how the power of radical love can be a healing beacon of light.

"The Light" was playwright Loy Webb’s first play. Loy and WAM Theatre’s Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven join us.

Outside on Main
Williamstown Theatre Festival

As we approach May, it becomes clear not only that there will be live theater this summer, but there is now clarity on how it will be offered.

"Row" - Outside at the Clark
The Clark

It’s not often you get to write a review that is also a preview. However, since the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s world premiere of the musical “Row” has just been released by Audible Theatre and almost simultaneously with the release it was announced it would be given a live production at the festival this summer, this is a two-for-one recommendation for the show.

Costumed actors stand on a stage under a large tent
Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware / Berkshire Theatre Group

  

The Berkshire theatre scene is gearing up for an in-person summer season, with considerable measures taken to confront the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer Is Starting To Bloom

Apr 11, 2021
Outside on Main
'62 Center For Theatre and Dance

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.

Personally, I have preferred the Williamstown Theatre Festival Audio series of plays over Zoom productions.  Likely, it is because audio encourages imagination, while Zoom shows only the faces of actors in boxes.

“Paradise Blue” On Audio Lacks Heat

Mar 28, 2021
Dominique Morisseau
Williamstown Theatre Festival

The Williamstown Theatre Festival is resuming its Audio presentation of its 2020 summer season with a production of “Paradise Blue.”

Artwork for WAM Theatre production of Letters to Kamala
provided

In the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, playwright Rachel Lynett conjures three female American political leaders of the past to share their wisdom, perspective, and wry humor with VP candidate Kamala Harris.

In the WAM Theatre event, "Letters to Kamala," we meet three powerful women on whose shoulders Kamala now stands: Charlotta Bass, the first Black woman candidate for vice president, Charlene Mitchell, the first Black woman to run for president, and Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to be elected to the House of Representatives, first Asian-American woman to run in Congress and the first Asian-American to run for president.

The play is available for streaming from this Sunday, March 14 through Sunday, March 21. We welcome WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and playwright Rachel Lynett.

Images from BSC's 10x10 2020 Festival
David Dashiell / Barrington Stage Company

Barrington Stage Company’s 2021 10x10 New Play Festival is – you guessed it – going virtual this year! The event is also celebrating its 10th year of presenting short plays during these short days of winter.

Streaming March 11–14 and 18–21, half of the original plays are directed by Matthew Penn, and the other half by BSC Artistic Director Julianne Boyd – who joined us.

Academy Award winning actor Cloris Leachman has died at the age of 94.

A member of Elia Kazan's first class at The Actors Studio in New York City, she won her Oscar for the 1971 Peter Bogdanovich film "The Last Picture Show" and she entered the living rooms of America as television's Phyllis Lindstrom on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." She appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" at the age of 82 and until recently was performing for the screen - both on camera and voice-over work. 

Joe Donahue spoke with her in 2009 about her memoir "Cloris" and we re-post that interview now, in memoriam.

Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club
Williamstown Theatre Festival

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – It must be some sort of reviewer’s jinx that the play in a season you are most looking forward to experiencing is often the most disappointing.

Rehearsal shot from Williamstown Theatre Festival's “Animals”
Williamstown Theatre Festival

“Animals” is the third play of the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s season recorded as an audio book.  It is actually the first that make me realize how much I missed live theater at Williamstown this summer.

Cast and creatives of "Photograph 51" at WTF
Williamstown Theatre Festival

It’s impossible to know if the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s gamble to do their 2020 season as a series of audible books will pay off financially.   However, with the release of the first two plays of the seven-play series it has become clear it is an artistic success.

Cast, producers and creatives of "A Streetcar Named Desire"
Williamstown Theatre Festival

In March, when it became apparent that live theater would be almost impossible to produce during the Covid-19 pandemic, many theaters either shut down or experimented with streaming platforms.

In theater, there is no greater draw than “A Christmas Carol” during the holiday season.   And even though there are no live productions, there are plenty available on various streaming platforms.

There is live theater available for this 2020 Christmas season.  “Holiday Memories”,  being offered by Berkshire Theatre Group weekends through December 20, is an outdoor presentation of two short Truman Capote stories, adapted for the stage by Russell Vandenbroucke.

“A Christmas Carol” As A National Fundraiser

Nov 22, 2020
Geffen Playhouse production of "A Christmas Carol"
Chris Whitaker

The ideal situation for any artist is when you can develop a quality product and use it for the good of the community.

Book cover for "Singular Sensation"
Simon & Schuster / Simon & Schuster

We welcome New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel to the Roundtable this morning with the publication of his second book, Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway.


With over 150 insider interviews, Singular Sensation portrays the people, money, and power that created the blockbuster shows and aesthetic spectacle that has dominated not only a couple of acres of real estate in the heart of Manhattan but has also captured the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world.

Michael Riedel has been the theater columnist for the New York Post since 1998. Michael’s first book, Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway was a New York Times bestseller.

Artwork for "The Thanksgiving Play" presented by WAM Theatre
provided / provided

WAM Theatre will be presenting the second digital production of their re-imagined fall season beginning later this week, the wickedly funny satire "The Thanksgiving Play" by Larissa FastHorse, directed by Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston. The production will be available online November 19-22.

The play is fast-paced satire where good intentions collide with absurd assumptions, as a troupe of white Liberal teaching artists scramble to devise a grade school theatre performance that somehow manages to celebrate Turkey Day, while also honoring Native American Heritage Month.

To tell us more, we welcome Director Talya Kingston and actress Molly Parker Myers.

Live Summer Theater Gets A Million Dollar Reward

Nov 10, 2020
(l-r) Storm Lever, Alexandra Silber and Alysha Umphress were featured in "The Hills Are Alive with Rodgers and Hammerstein."
Daniel Rader Photo

BERKSHIRES – There was once a television series called “The Millionaire.” The concept was that one unassuming person who lived a humble but exemplary life was given a million dollars by a mysterious benefactor.

Artwork for "Typhoid Mary" at Barrington Stage
Barrington Stage Company / barringtonstageco.org

As the pandemic continues into its eighth month in the U.S. and an administration rails against the fact-based findings of doctors and medical advisors, the Barrington Stage Company is revisiting Mark St. Germain’s play, "Typhoid Mary," where arguments between God and science take center stage.

The virtual reading of "Typhoid Mary," a play by BSC Associate Artist Mark St. Germain, stars two-time Tony Award winner Judith Ivey as Mary Mallon aka ‘Typhoid Mary.’ The reading also features actors: Frances Evans, T.R. Knight, Kate Mac Cluggage and Joe Morton. The production is directed by Matthew Penn.

This is the true and turbulent story of Mary Mallon, known better as Typhoid Mary. As one of the most infamous women in America, her career as a cook left deaths in her wake. A carrier of typhoid, Mary refused to believe she was responsible, citing God’s will and the lies of science instead. Imprisoned on North Brother Island, the conflicts between her and the doctors were as impassioned then as they are today.

The reading will be available to stream on October 30 & 31 at 7:30 pm. Judith Ivey won two Tony Awards as Best Featured Actress in a Play for "Steaming" in 1983 and "Hurlyburly" in 1985. She was also nominated for "Park Your Car in Harvard Yard" in 1992 and a revival of "The Heiress" in 2013.

Book cover title artwork for "Homeland Elegies"
Little Brown / littlebrown.com

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His latest work is novel, "Homeland Elegies," a deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams. It blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in a world that 9/11 made.

Ghost Lights In Theaters Inspire Halloween Fun

Oct 20, 2020
Proctors by Ghost Light
Jim Murphy

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Every theater has a ghost. Why else is it that the last thing done when leaving a theater is to turn on the “ghost light?” A “ghost light” is a standing lamp with a single bulb placed in the middle of the stage. It’s left on all night.

Artwork for Troy Foundry Theatre's "Models of Perfection"
Troy Foundry Theatre / Troy Foundry Theatre

An eviction sign, cruel games and rituals of death, a documentary film crew, and a campaign launch. Brother and Sister have lived on this door step for as long as they can remember. Soon, Brother and Sister are forced to migrate as the environment violently disintegrates. But sister isn't ready to leave home behind.

Troy Foundry Theatre presents the world premiere of "Models of Perfection." The show begins performances on Wednesday and runs through November 1. It will happen in the E. Stewart Jones parking lot directly next to the Trojan Hotel in Troy, New York.

David Girard is the Artistic Director of the Troy Foundry Theatre and co-curator and devisor of the show. Niya Colbert is collaborator with Theatre in the X out of Philadelphia and co-curator and devisor of "Models of Perfection."

Artwork for WAM Theatre production of ROE
https://www.wamtheatre.com/ / https://www.wamtheatre.com/

Two Women. Multiple Truths. One Landmark Supreme Court Case. "ROE," by Lisa Loomer, is an historically sweeping play with a large ensemble cast that illuminates the history of one of the most polarizing social issues of the modern era, the Roe v. Wade, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion.

The play provides a reminder of the human stories behind the debates and how hard we have to work to compassionately communicate with people with whom we may disagree.

"ROE" will be presented as a creatively designed, digital production by WAM Theatre. Performances will be available October 17 through October 20. To tell us more, we welcome WAM Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and Scenic Designer Juliana von Haubrich.

In a collaboration devised to meet the challenges posed by the global health pandemic, the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival season will be the first-ever complete theatre season released by Audible, the world’s largest producer and provider of original spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks.

The 2020 WTF Season on Audible is being produced in an audio-only format safe to elevate, entertain, and transform audiences from the comfort of their homes. While this season is different, it is being made with the spirit of invention that has long been a hallmark of the Festival.

The new work looks to transport you into the world of Blanche DuBois in 1940s New Orleans, into a hotel in Thailand where Kina prepares for gender confirmation surgery, onto Tori McClure’s rowboat as she rows solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and so much more.

To tell us about it – we welcome Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director of WTF.


  Berkshire Theatre Group presents “An Intimate Performance with Brian Stokes Mitchell” on September 5 at 8 p.m. at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

 

Stokes is a Tony Award winning actor whose Broadway credits include “Ragtime,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Man of La Mancha,” and “Shuffle Along.” Television credits include Trapper John, MC and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Glee, Mr. Robot, Billions, and The Good Fight - among many others.

He is serving his 16th term as The Chairman of The Board of The Actors Fund and is a co-founder of the Black Theatre United Coalition.

The Growth Of Virtual Entertainment

Aug 30, 2020

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The learning curve of creative people never ceases to amaze.  Six months ago, when live entertainment, including theater, shut down, I never thought I’d be writing about how well new material can work on Zoom, and other digital platforms.

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