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Chris Noth and Fritz Weaver Join LINCOLN'S FAVORITE SHAKESPEARE Benefit Performance in MA

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Chris Noth and Fritz Weaver Join LINCOLN'S FAVORITE SHAKESPEARE Benefit Performance in MA

Acclaimed actors Chris Noth and Fritz Weaver join the cast of Lincoln's Favorite Shakespeare with John Douglas Thompson and Kathleen Chalfant. On August 14 at 4pm at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage, this noted quartet of actors are donating their performances to the event and will present scenes and soliloquies known and loved by Abraham Lincoln from the canon of Shakespeare with a reception immediately following at Chesterwood.

The benefit performance, presented by Kate Maguire, Artistic Director of Berkshire Theater Group and Donna Hassler, Executive Director of Chesterwood, a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation includes the opportunity to attend a twilight reception at Chesterwood, the newly-restored studio where Daniel Chester French created the seated figure of Lincoln for the Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Assembled and annotated by noted scholar Harold Holzer, author and editor of over 40 books about Lincoln, the program is inspired by the 16th President's lifelong love of Shakespeare. The program is produced and directed by Gordon Hyatt.

Tickets to Lincoln's Favorite Shakespeare are on now for: $100 for the performance at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage and reception at Chesterwood; $50 for the performance only. Call the BTG Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield 413-997-4444. The ticket office is open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-2pm or on any performance day from 10am until curtain. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.berkshiretheatregroup.org

Mr. Holzer, who will narrate, discovered that the President attended twelve or more theater productions while in office-Lincoln's love of the Bard began while crossing the Illinois plains by railroad as a prairie lawyer. He and his wife Mary often exchanged lines from their favorite plays. Mr. Lincoln, Holzer observed, was especially fond of actors Edwin Booth, the noted tragedian, and James Hackett, the outstanding Falstaff of his era.

Kathleen Chalfant appeared in Henry V at the NY Shakespeare Festival, All's Well That Ends Well at the Yale Rep and Tony Kushner's Angels In America on Broadway. She has received Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations. For her performance in WIT she received the Drama Desk, OBIE, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critic Awards.

Chris Noth Theater Credits include Broadway: Gore Vidal's The Best Man (Theatre World Award). Off Broadway: Farragut North (Atlantic Theater), What Didn't Happen (Playwright's Horizon), Patronage (Ensemble Studio Theater), Arms and the Man (Roundabout Theatre), Just a Little Bit Less Than Normal (Manhattan Theatre Club). Regional Theater: Play of Giants and Rum and Coke (both at Yale Repertory Theatre), Hamlet (title role, American Shakespeare Festival), American Buffalo (Berkshire Theatre Festival), The Kentucky Cycle (Taper, Too). Film Credits: Sex & The City: The Movie, Castaway, Mr. 3000, The Perfect Man, Double Whammy, Getting to Know You, Searching for Paradise, Texas Funeral, Cold Around the Heart. Television Credits - Telefilms: Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders (TNT miniseries), Caesar (TNT miniseries), Exiled: A Law & Order Movie (NBC), Bad Apple (TNT, starred and executive produced). Series: Law & Order (original cast, Det. Mike Logan), Sex & The City (Mr. Big, Golden Globe Nomination), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (Det. Mike Logan).

John Douglas Thompson has appeared on Broadway in A Time To Kill, Cyrano and Julius Caesar. Off Broadway in Satchmo At The Waldorf (Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Awards) Othello (Obie and Lortel Awards/Theatre for a New Audience), The Emperor Jones (Irish Rep), Richard III and Othello (Shakespeare & Company, Lenox). He will appear this fall in the title role of Tamburlaine at Theater for a New Audience.

Fritz Weaver, a member of the Theater Hall of Fame, won a Tony for Child's Play. Other Broadway appearances include The Chalk Garden, (Theater World Award), All American, Baker Street, Absurd Person Singular, Love Letters and The Crucible. He has appeared as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Henry IV and Richard II, among others. His most memorable role, arguably, was that of the doomed German Jewish patriarch Dr. Josef Weiss in the watershed TV mini-series Holocaust (1978), for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. Since 1995, Weaver is known as the narrator of programs on the History Channel.

Gordon Hyatt (producing director) was first associated with the Berkshire Playhouse as Technical Director while in college. Now emeritus, he served as BTF board member for 16 years. He served on the Chesterwood Council for 9 years and produced the program celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial with the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Aaron Copeland's Lincoln Portrait, narrated by James Earl Jones. The gardens in his Stockbridge home, designed by Daniel Chester French in 1929, are now restored and enlarged with the dedicated help of his wife Carole. Mr. French was also instrumental in creating the neighboring Berkshire Playhouse, the second oldest summer theatre in America.

Chesterwood, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is the summer home, studio and gardens of America's foremost sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). French is best known for his sculptures of the Minute Man (1871-75) and the seated figure of Abraham Lincoln (1911-12) for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Situated on 122 acres, the property and its buildings were donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation by French's only child Margaret French Cresson (1889-1973). Chesterwood is recognized as both a National Historic Landmark and a Massachusetts Historic Landmark. Chesterwood is located at 4 Williamsville Road, off Route 183, in Stockbridge. For more information, see www.chesterwood.org or call 413.298.3579, ext. 25210.

The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires. Having united in November of 2010 under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on five stages in Stockbridge, MA and Pittsfield, MA. The Fitzpatrick Main Stage (400 seats), cataloged by the National Register of Historic Places, was originally designed and built by Stanford White as the Stockbridge Casino in 1888. The intimate Unicorn Theatre (122 seats) is a home for emerging artists and new theatrical ideas. The Colonial in Pittsfield (780 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. BTG also performs at the outdoor Neil Ellenoff stage, located on the grounds of BTF in Stockbridge, and at The Garage, a music venue located in the lobby of The Colonial. BTG serves over 100,000 patrons per year and reaches over 17,000 students through its educational and outreach programs. For more information on BTG call (413) 448-8084. To purchase tickets, call (413) 997-4444 or go online to www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.

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