BWW PREVIEW: 6 Shows Not To Miss This Summer In The Berkshires
The bad news first: the 2016/2017 Boston theater season is coming to a close. Now that we got that out of the way let's spin this into a positive because it doesn't mean our theater options suddenly run dry for the next few months! Right now, companies located in a Western Massachusetts region called the Berkshires are preparing to deliver full-length seasons of theater compacted into just a few months.
I always look forward to visiting this bastion of culture and enjoy taking in some of the best theater Massachusetts has to offer. It is where I saw Marin Mazzie play Blanche DuBois in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and the place that gave us such world premier's as 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE and Dominique Morisseau's PARADISE BLUE. The programming selection offered each year is enough to make any seasoned theatre-goer salivate with excitement.
Here are the six shows I'm looking forward to the most this summer.
Trip Cullman returns after directing last season's revival of Tennessee Williams' THE ROSE TATTOO to lead Rebecca Henderson (THE WAYSIDE MOTOR INN), Cristin Milioti (ONCE), Jeanine Serralles (GLORIA) plus many other great actors in Halley Feiffer's modern riff on Chekhov's THREE SISTERS. Little information is revealed about this adaptation but judging from the synopsis and the art direction; it's looking like it'll fit well into the Feiffer's milieu.
After noticing a disparate of roles for middle-aged women, playwright Jen Silverman was inspired, "to write a play for badass women in their 50s." Silverman gained notoriety when THE ROOMMATE, a two-hander comedy about transformation and midlife crisis, had its world premier at the 2015 Humana Festival. The Kilroy's List, an organization devoted to recognizing unproduced plays by female and trans authors, featured THE ROOMMATE in 2015. As if that wasn't enough to excite, casting couldn't be stronger. S. Epatha Merkerson (COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA) and Jane Kaczmarek (TV's MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE) play the rivaling duo. Mike Donahue who directed the world premiere returns to helm the Williamstown production.
Anna Ziegler and Lileana Blain-Cruz working together on a world premiere play should be more than enough to get onboard for the final production of Williamstown's 2017 season, but in case you're the stubborn type, I'll elaborate. Alexandra Socha (FUN HOME) and Joshua Boone (HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME) are Princeton first-year students who become caught up in each other and quickly learn about the blurred line of consent in this play that addresses gender politics. This production is co-produced by Manhattan Theatre Club where it'll transfer to in the fall for a New York debut. Coincidentally, Anna Ziegler's THE LAST MATCH also holds a fall off-Broadway premiere at Roundabout Theatre Company.
Harrison David Rivers's play about the American prison system told through the perspective of one family's fight was a finalist at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center's 2015 National Playwrights Conference and is now receiving its world premiere production directed by Saheem Ali. Myra Lucretia Taylor (FAMILIAR) plays Bethea, the mother struggling to care for one son while being haunted by the actions of her other.
The musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel depicting societal changes born out of the turn of the 20th century received its only Broadway revival in the same year as our nation elected its first African-American President. How will RAGTIME look in 2017 when the thought of social progress seems to dim with each new headline appearing to be the crime of the century? We are about to find out.
In 2014, producer Hal Luftig announced a revival of Mark Medoff's Tony-winning play to be directed by Kenny Leon (FENCES) for the 2015/2016 Broadway season, but the project never materialized. Now, Berkshire Theatre Group has announced a Kenny Leon-helmed revival, and Playbill confirmed Luftig's continued involvement.
Luftig made a statement back in 2014 with his intentions "to reflect society today." Medoff's play addresses how we communicate through barriers by focusing on a relationship between a speech therapist (Joshua Jackson) and a student who is deaf (Lauren Ridloff).
CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD runs from June 22 to July 22 on the Fitzpatrick Main Stage. Visit their website for more information.