Two Quick Summer Snapshots
by Larry Murray
Theatre News is in the air today as Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company announced its full season of 2014 offerings and the Williamstown Theatre Festival dropped the names of the shows and stars to light their main stage marquee. A detailed look at the Barrington Stage offerings is in the works here at Berkshire on Stage as Gail M. Burns and I report on the kick-off lunch and our discussions with Julianne Boyd and others later this week. For now, the BSC offerings are:
Kiss Me, Kate will be from June 11 through July 12. This classic musical which mixes Shakespeare with a traveling troupe of theatrical folks was first announced last September. The popular musical recounts the backstage and onstage antics of two feuding couples during a touring production of The Taming of the Shrew. Sparkling with 18 classic Cole Porter songs, Kiss Me, Kate includes “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “So in Love,” “Always True to You in My Fashion,” “Too Darn Hot,” and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”.
Breaking the Code, Hugh Whitemore’s biographical drama about the true story of Alan Turing, the famed mathematician and computer science pioneer and the primary designer of the Turing Machine, an early computer used to solve the German Enigma code during World War II, a solution many believe was instrumental in the Allied victory. The title refers to both the solution of the Enigma code and Turing’s open admission to his homosexuality, which at the time violated not only the codes of polite society but British law. To star BSC Associate Artist Mark H. Dold, and will be directed by Joe Calarco. Performances of Breaking the Code are from July 17 through August 2.
Mark St. Germain’s world premiere comedy, Dancing Lessons, directed by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, with performances from August 7-24. Dancing Lessons stars John Cariani, who made his BSC debut as ‘Dogberry’ in last summer’s Much Ado About Nothing. Cariani is also the playwright of the popular play Almost, Maine and is currently starring in the play’s Off-Broadway revival.
Dancing Lessons centers on a young man with high-functioning autism (Asperger’s syndrome) as he tries to navigate a relationship with a Broadway dancer, now sidelined with injuries.
With a fondness for Arthur Miller plays, Juulianne Boyd tackles another classic, An Enemy of the People which will also run on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage from October 2-19. This powerful drama explores the impact of polluted waters in a small town and the consequences to one man of uncovering the truth. Arthur Miller wrote his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play An Enemy of the People in response to the political climate fostered by McCarthyism in 1950 and is still relevant today.
All these will be Main Stage productions. Barrington Stage Company’s Associate Artists Joshua Bergasse, Darren R. Cohen, Mark H. Dold, William Finn, Christopher Innvar, Renee Lutz, and Mark St. Germain all return to be part of the theater’s 20th Anniversary Season.
“We want to continue to challenge ourselves and our audiences,” said Artistic Director Julianne Boyd in a statement. “The overwhelmingly positive response to productions as diverse as On the Town, The Chosen and Southern Comfort last season shows all of us at BSC that our audiences are willing to respond to a wide range of programming, and we want to build on that for our 20th season. Shows such as Kiss Me, Kate, Breaking the Code, and the world premieres of Dancing Lessons and The Golem of Havana are a strong indication that we will continue to entertain, to enlighten, and to challenge ourselves and our audiences.”
Williamstown announces three
Meantime, over at Williamstown THeatre Festival, their mainstage productions have also been announced.
June Moon | July 2 – July 13, 2014
By Ring Lardner and George S. Kaufman; Directed by Jessica Stone
Earnest and gullible young lyricist Fred Stevens boards a train in Schenectady bound for the Big Apple, determined to make a name for himself in the thriving Tin Pan Alley scene. However, the life he’s imagined is rife with seductive distractions — namely dames — that threaten to derail his dream of penning the next big ditty. Both bitterly funny and deliciously literate, legendary humorists Ring Lardner and George S. Kaufman celebrate and skewer the perishable pop of yesteryear. Director Jessica Stone, whose WTF productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Last of the Red Hot Lovers left audiences convulsed with laughter, brings her special brand of glee back to the Festival stage.
Living on Love | July 16 – July 26, 2014
By Joe DiPietro and Garson Kanin
Based on the play Peccadillo by Garson Kanin; Directed by Kathleen Marshall
With Renée Fleming
World-renowned soprano Renée Fleming takes the Festival stage as celebrated diva Rachel DeAngelis. When her husband, the fiery and egomaniacal Maestro Vito DeAngelis, becomes enamored with the lovely young lady hired to ghostwrite his long-delayed autobiography, Rachel retaliates by hiring her very own – and very handsome – ghostwriter to chronicle her life as an opera star. As the young writers try to keep themselves out of the story while churning out chapters, the high-energy – and high-maintenance – power duet threatens to fall out of tune for good. A sparkling new comedy from two-time Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro, adapted from a work by the revered Garson Kanin and directed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall.
The Visit | July 31 – August 17, 2014
Book by Terrence McNally; Music by John Kander; Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Choreographed by Graciela Daniele; Directed by John Doyle
With Chita Rivera
In her Festival debut, Broadway legend Chita Rivera embodies Claire Zachanassian, the oft-widowed richest woman in the world, who returns to the hardship-stricken town of her birth. The locals pray that her wealth will bring them a new lease on life, but the carefully plotted renewal she offers carries a dreadful price. Tony Award-winning director John Doyle helms this incendiary musical – one of the last collaborations between the incomparable John Kander and Fred Ebb, with a book by Tony Award winner Terrence McNally and choreography by Graciela Daniele. Sardonic and morally complex.
“There’s a real dynamism to this summer’s Main Stage season and it thrills me in particular to have so many female powerhouses be part of the Main Stage this summer, between Jessica Stone, Renée Fleming, Kathleen Marshall, and Chita Rivera,” Gersten said. “This was by happenstance, but it’s a beautiful way for me to close out my term as Artistic Director.”
Nikos Stage productions, special events, and additional details about the 2014 WTF Summer Season will come later.
Barrington Stage at the St. Germain Stage
Barrington Stage opens the 2014 St. Germain Stage season with the Berkshire premiere of Sharr White’s The Other Place, directed by BSC Associate Artist Christopher Innvar. Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. Her husband has filed for divorce, her daughter has eloped with a much older man, and her own health is in jeopardy. May 21 – June 14
Then Barrington Stage will present from June 18 to July 6 a daring theatrical experience that takes Ettore Scola’s Academy Award nominated 1977 Italian film A Special Day and recreates the love story between a mysterious man and an overworked housewife in the heyday of Italian fascism. Working on A Special Day is a new play about a life-changing encounter between an overworked housewife and a mysterious bachelor on May 8, 1938 – the day Rome celebrates Hitler’s visit to Mussolini’s Italy. A bittersweet drama unfolds within the charged political landscape of rising fascism in Rome.
The company’s Musical Theatre Lab kicks off its ninth season with its 10th world premiere musical, The Golem of Havana the story of a Hungarian-Jewish family living in Batista’s Havana on the brink of the Cuban Revolution running from July 17 through August 9.
Tony winners William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin (who penned the award-winning The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which was developed, workshopped and premiered at Barrington Stage) plan to revisit Finn’s 1989 musical Romance in Hard Times, with a new book by Sheinkin. The workshop production will be presented from August 14-31 at the St. Germain Stage, directed by Joe Calarco.
More information -Barrington
Various discounted Combo Passes are on sale for the BSC season now while single tickets will go on sale Monday, March 3, 2014 at 10am. Reservations for groups of 15 or more are now being taken and may be arranged by contacting Janie LaBrasca in Group Sales at 413-997-6118. For information on shows, passes and tickets call 413-236-8888 or visit www.barringtonstageco.org
More information – Williamstsown
Special Discount Ticket Bundles are available for purchase until March 14, 2014 at www.wtfestival.org. Single tickets for the 2014 Williamstown Theatre Festival season will be available in April