Shakespeare in the Park
about to be born as Third Thursday celebrates
Pittsfield’s new baby
by Larry Murray
In Pittsfield, the whole city is collectively anticipating the arrival of yet another theatre company, and ushering in the newborn is the 3rd Thursday celebration on July 17. Talk circulates about the weather for the open air performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Actors are telling each other to “break a leg”. The folks who will make up the audience are deciding which chairs and blankets to bring to Springside Park, and where to park. A shuttle has been arranged from downtown to take folks to the site, and then bring them back. In short, this is a big deal. A really big deal. Even the monthly 3rd Thursday revolves around it.
Upstreet Pittsfield’s award-winning street festival, 3rd Thursdays, returns on Thursday, July 17th with the All the World’s a Stage theme, sponsored by Berkshire Gas. The event will be celebrating the performing arts with music, theatre and dance.
One of the main events of the evening is the 3rd Thursday Art Show, an opening night celebration of Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show will feature local artists displaying and selling their work, a meet and greet with the actors from the production, hors d’oeuvres provided by Mission Bar + Tapas and a Shakespeare themed cake by Madeleine’s Patisserie and Café. There will be a $5 admission to the show, with all proceeds benefitting Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park. There will be a free shuttle to and from Springside Park leaving at 7:30pm from the St. Joseph Church parking lot.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the opening night celebration for the inaugural year of Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park,” Jen Glockner, the Director of Cultural Development said. “The cast and crew have been working for months to prepare for this production and we cannot wait for Pittsfield residents to see it.”
The Story of Pittsfield’s Shakespeare in the Park July 17-27
It was about nine months ago I first heard rumblings about some sort of open air theatre happening in Pittsfield, and in March the official announcement was made. With a $5,000 challenge grant from Allen Harris, President and Chief Investment Officer for Berkshire Money Management, founder Enrico Spada began an Indiegogo crowdfunding campagn, believed to be the first in Pittsfield for a local cultural initiative. The seed money was matched by the public and work commenced to raise the balance needed to underwrite the expenses of setting up a full theatrical stage and support facilities at Springside Park. Along with Lead Sponsor Berkshire Money Management, generous support is being provided by Berkshire Bank, the Greeneway Wellness Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Pittsfield Cultural Council, Price Chopper Supermarkets, Berkshire United Way, Lamar, and a variety of local businesses and initiatives, and in-kind support from the City of Pittsfield, Blue Q, Berkshire Production Resources, Day Mountain Sound and Barrington Stage Company.
Rehearsals have been ongoing for some time, and the stage has now been trucked in and setup at Springside Park, ready for Thursday’s opening night. The photo montage above shows the construction and first tech rehearsal as the actors prepare to take their places.
Many are curious about the casting and the 19-member multigenerational cast ranges in age from 7 to 75 and hails from across the Berkshires, including eight Pittsfield residents. “I think we’ve assembled an excellent cast across all age groups,” said Founder and Director Enrico Spada. “Community is a big part of what we are: it’s exciting to have sisters, cousins, even a mother and son within the cast.”
The cast features Pittsfield-bred actor Jerome Spratling, who plays the double role of Oberon and Duke Theseus opposite Shakespeare & Company’s Elizabeth “Lily” Cardaropoli as Titania and Hippolyta. Pittsfield residents Christopher Brophy (as the bombastic actor Nick Bottom), Maizy Scarpa (as the mischievous sprite Puck) and Gail Ryan (as the indignant parent Egeus) round out the cast alongside Main Street Stage’s Alexia Trainor, Shakespeare & Company’s Renée Margaret Speltz, Seth Keyes, and Robert Griefeld.
Recent high school graduates Fiona Barnett-Mulligan (Chatham), Dylan LeSage (Taconic), Julius Reese (Taconic) and Julie Castagna (Taconic) play Shakespeare’s frazzled teenage lovers. Travis Hoose, Fiona Mathews, Nora Mathews, Claudia Maurino, Zoe Nadig, and Elliot Trainor (whose mother Alexia also stars) comprise the Fairy ensemble.
The A Midsummer Night’s Dream creative team will be led by local actor, director and theatre teacher Enrico Spada. Lighting design and technical direction will be by Maia Robbins-Zust of Berkshire Production Resources. Audio will be provided by Day Mountain Sound, with costume design by Kathy Moraweic. The stage manager is Alex Reczkowski with assistant stage manager Haley Barbieri.
A free celebration of the performing arts all over Pittsfield
3rd Thursday attendees will also enjoy live performances of Hairspray JR. from Barrington Stage Company, Seussical from the Berkshire Theatre Group, Opera Notte and Cabaret from the Whit and Shakespeare & Co. Other highlights include: the Berkshire Museum’s traveling butterflies, performances from Polysonic Joy, Berkshire Rocks, Rock On and KidZone Dance Studio, Zumba and the Berkshire Eagle 15 Minutes of Frame Photo Booth on Park Square, open mic with Kaylene and demos and performances from the Funkbox Dance Studio. The Pittsfield Suns will be outside the Pittsfield Family YMCA. The miniature train rides from Roaming Railroad are back, as is the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club Fun Zone with basketball, bean bag toss and more.
The band Zep (Led Zeppelin tribute band) will perform outside at the Crowne Plaza and more performances can be found indoors as well. The Town Players of Pittsfield will present Applause, Applause! at the Whitney Center for the Arts and Blueberry Buckle will be rocking the Marketplace Café. The Berkshire Museum offers free admission for Berkshire County residents during the 3rd Thursday events.
The performances continue inside with Berkshire Theatre Group’s A Little Night Music, Barrington Stage’s opening night of Breaking the Code at the main stage and The Golem of Havana at the St. Germain Stage. The Beacon Cinema has a special screening of The Grateful Dead; Beat Club and head over to Mission (no cover) and check out the Picky Bastards, a collective gathering of rotating local folk, rock and Americana musicians hosted by Andy Wrba and Chris Merenda.
The largest free outdoor event series in the Berkshires, 3rd Thursdays goes from 5pm-8pm and is family friendly and open to all. The City Stage will be located on Park Square due to construction at Sottile and Persip Parks. Once again North Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from West Street to Linden Street and will be filled with music, performance, demos, good food and community.
Mayor Dan Bianchi commented, “July’s Third Thursday is shaping up to be a highlight of the season. I am happy to welcome Shakespeare in the Park to Pittsfield and pleased they will be a part of Third Thursday.”
He added, “This Third Thursday truly highlights, not only the adult performers and artist in the community, but also the talented children living in the Berkshires. ”
3rd Thursdays season sponsors include, Berkshire Gas, Berkshire Health Systems, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Berkshire Eagle and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Upcoming 3rd Thursdays dates and themes, August 21st: Art + Industry; September 18th: Walk A Mile in Her Shoes; and October 16: Halloween. 3rd Thursdays is organized by the City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development. For more information on 3rd Thursdays please visit discoverpittsfield.com/3rdthursdays, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-499-9348. 3rd Thursdays are held rain or shine and there is plenty of free parking throughout downtown’s Upstreet Cultural District.