Stagestruck: Dancing on the Edge at Jacob’s Pillow
Jul25

Stagestruck: Dancing on the Edge at Jacob’s Pillow

The two mainstage programs at Jacob’s Pillow dance festival last week offered intriguing contrasts in modern dance envelope-pushing. And perhaps surprisingly, it was the simpler, solo show that delivered more variety and excitement.Aakash Odedra is an Englishman of Indian parentage who first trained in the dance traditions of his ancestral culture and then branched out into a stylistic kaleidoscope of world traditions. The pieces he...

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Get Out With Staff Picks: Hang Out With Master Beaders
Jul24

Get Out With Staff Picks: Hang Out With Master Beaders

200 Master Beaders, 1 Project — ALL WEEKENDThis weekend maser beadwork artist Darcy Rosner and beaders from SweetBananberry will be at Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen adding another whimsical art installation to the outside gallery. They’ll be assembling a mosaic mannequin out of the beadwork of 200 participating artists from across the globe. The mannequin will become a regular feature at Three Sisters, but if you want to...

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Stagestruck: Opposites Attract in Silverthorne’s Gentle Comedy
Jul24

Stagestruck: Opposites Attract in Silverthorne’s Gentle Comedy

Chapatti, now playing at Silverthorne Theater Company, is one of the sweetest comedies about grief, loneliness and suicide I’ve ever seen.The title is unfortunate, even confusing, since Christian O’Reilly’s play takes place in Dublin, not Delhi, and the name has nothing to do with the play’s plot or theme. For what it’s worth, Chapatti is a dog, named after his fondness for that Indian flatbread.There are dog people and there...

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Tease VIDEO Feel Good Drift on Sessions Friday
Jul20
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Stagestruck: Misfit Millennials – “Speech & Debate” at Barrington Stage
Jul20

Stagestruck: Misfit Millennials – “Speech & Debate” at Barrington Stage

Reid Thompson’s setting for Speech & Debate, now receiving a near-perfect production at Barrington Stage Company, is a high school classroom. Maps and historical posters line the walls and headshots of famous Americans form a frieze above a pair of whiteboards – which become screens for Alex Basco Koch’s witty between-scenes animated projections. Lighting by Burke Brown also divides the room into discrete areas representing the...

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Staff Picks: Harry Potter Inspired Music with Draco and the Malfoys
Jul17

Staff Picks: Harry Potter Inspired Music with Draco and the Malfoys

Draco and the Malfoys • Saturday  I held out on Harry Potter mania for years, but finally succumbed when the last book came out in 2007. I read them all in a matter of months, but I didn’t go as far as these folks, who wrote albums of Harry Potter-inspired music. I can’t think of a better venue to appreciate this band than a library, and that’s exactly where they’re having the show. Hoping they play “All...

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Basemental: Young Musicians Deserve Pay, Too
Jul17

Basemental: Young Musicians Deserve Pay, Too

I’ve played in about a half dozen bands over the past seven years here in the Valley. I’ve played on the steps of my beloved Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley (for free) and I’ve played The Calvin (for $250); I’ve played countless basements (including “The Basement”), colleges, and plenty of bar shows to boot. With the exception of the very occasional, yet lucrative, college show or an exceptionally good night at a bar, which does...

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Cinemadope: ‘Wanna-Bes Need Not Apply,’ Documentary on Madonna’s Back-up Voguers
Jul17

Cinemadope: ‘Wanna-Bes Need Not Apply,’ Documentary on Madonna’s Back-up Voguers

“Wimps and Wanna-Be’s need not apply!” That was the tagline of a print ad announcing an open audition for “FIERCE Male Dancers” who wanted to earn a spot on Madonna’s controversial, ground-breaking Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. It would have been a dream job for any dancer, but nobody — certainly not the seven young men, most barely 20 at the time, who ended up touring the globe with the pop star — could have predicted the impact the...

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Stagestruck: Bare Bard at Shakespeare & Co., Cymbeline Reviewed
Jul18

Stagestruck: Bare Bard at Shakespeare & Co., Cymbeline Reviewed

Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare’s “romances,” those late works in which comedy blends with tragedy and the endings are neither strewn with corpses nor aclang with wedding bells, but suffused with poignancy and forgiveness. The Tempest is the most popular of this group – in fact, it inaugurates the company’s new outdoor performance space next month – and Cymbeline runs a close second to Pericles as the least performed.So...

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Eddie Japan Bringing 60s Pop With 80s New Wave to Northampton Saturday
Jul17

Eddie Japan Bringing 60s Pop With 80s New Wave to Northampton Saturday

Cinematic Pop MusicBoston/Western Mass’ Eddie Japan combines that feel good ‘60s pop with a splash of ‘80s alternative new wave that’s a blast. In 2013, Eddie Japan won Boston’s ultra cool Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, and picked up a Boston Music Award for “Live Artist of the Year.” That sold me. I’m going to check them out for my column next week, Valley Show Girl, when the band comes to town on Saturday night. Eddie Japan is...

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Stagestruck: Wizard of Arrrrrs — PaintBox Theatre
Jul19

Stagestruck: Wizard of Arrrrrs — PaintBox Theatre

“Oh dear, the Wicked Witch is coming!” cried the Mayor of Munchkin City. “In that case,” responded Good Witch Glinda, “I’ve got to go.” “But why?” asked Dorothy, who was just starting to get used to not being in Kansas anymore. “Because she and I can’t be onstage at the same time. You’ll see why in a minute.”That meta-moment is part of why I love Tom McCabe’s PaintBox Theatre. The troupe’s inspired approach to kids’ shows combines...

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Stagestruck: Lives on the Line
Jul15

Stagestruck: Lives on the Line

In her “Detroit Trilogy” of plays, Dominique Morisseau looks at black lives in that once-vibrant city through the lens of three distinct eras and groups of people.  Paradise Blue takes place in a 1949 jazz club in the city’s historic Black Bottom district, which is threatened by gentrification. Detroit ’67 is set in a “blind pig,” an unlicensed after-hours bar, during that summer’s deadly riots – which were triggered by a police raid...

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Stagestruck: Shakespearean Double Act
Jul13

Stagestruck: Shakespearean Double Act

Think of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as fan fiction – Tom Stoppard’s contribution to the “greatest-play-ever-written” phenomenon. That is, Hamlet.  In fact, though they were written centuries apart (around 1599 and 1966, respectively), the two make a well-matched repertory duet for an adventurous theater company, as minor characters in the elder become leads in the upstart, and vice versa.That’s just what Hampshire...

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Stagestruck: Art as Activism – Creative tactics at KO Festival
Jul11

Stagestruck: Art as Activism – Creative tactics at KO Festival

The KO Festival of Performance opened last weekend, kicking off a diverse five-week season clustered around the theme “Tactics for Trying Times.” First up was Jimmy & Lorraine, written by Talvin Wilks and developed with Hartford’s HartBeat Ensemble. The playwright describes his scrapbook drama as a “dramatic reflection” and “a type of mashup,” culled from the writings and correspondence of two great African-American artist/activists:...

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Review: ‘In a Different Light’ at Easthampton City Arts Gallery
Jul10

Review: ‘In a Different Light’ at Easthampton City Arts Gallery

Thirteen of America’s presidents gather for a summit. They listen as Thomas Jefferson explains this new majesty before them — a giant, wonderfully fluffy chocolate-glazed doughnut with rainbow sprinkles. Teddy Roosevelt gathers his jacket at the hip judging the round table’s character. Ulysses S. Grant looks dumbfounded. George Washington, with his clenched fists and downcast eyes, appears to be looking for an excuse to leave.This is...

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At Play: All Things Scottish and Great
Jul10

At Play: All Things Scottish and Great

Get your Scot on at the 24th annual Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival Saturday at Look Park in Northampton. The day-long event is jammed with all things Celtic and “tidy” (that’s Scottish slang for excellent).The day will feature Scottish music, athletic feats of strength, vendors, historical recreations, food, and beer.Don’t miss Albannach (that’s them in front of that rippin’ hawk). The band is straight outta Scotland and features...

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Tundrastomper Are Good Musical Neighbors in Western Mass
Jul03

Tundrastomper Are Good Musical Neighbors in Western Mass

Tundrastomper, an explosive, chaotic, and notey rock band, formed about 10 years ago when Skyler Lloyd, Sam Brivic, Andrew Jones, and Max Goldstein were teenagers — about 13 years old each. They grew up in a town in Westchester, New York, called Ardsley. I looked it up on Google Maps and, well, it is what you might expect for New York City suburbs: the green space is evenly split between golf clubs and public parks, and the houses...

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Get Pumped for Green River Fest With Pre-Show at The Root Friday
Jul03

Get Pumped for Green River Fest With Pre-Show at The Root Friday

Before the sounds of mic checks and inflating balloons echo over the Greenfield Community College verdant field to signal the start of Green River Fest next weekend (July 14-16), this Friday (July 7) Sun Parade and Twisted Pine will give the Valley a taste of the the genre-bending rock that’s in store with a show at The Root Cellar.Sun Parade’s music is chill and groovy with hypnotic melodies under a soft-fuzzy coo on the mic. Their...

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Lexi Weege Plays Homefield Brewing Sunday
Jul03

Lexi Weege Plays Homefield Brewing Sunday

Woman of RockLexi Weege has picked up on how solo female acts are received: they’re objectified, controlled, censored, and restrained — but you won’t see any of that at a Weege show or hear it in her music. She’s punk AF in that way. Weege’s sound is bold, alive, and woke as hell. Her powerful voice and jazz-inspired compositions are just one aspect of Weege’s electric performances. Weege is a regular on...

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Wizard of Oz Performed by Plucky PaintBox Theatre
Jul03

Wizard of Oz Performed by Plucky PaintBox Theatre

Do You Represent the Lollipop Guild?After more than 70 years since the film’s release (and more than 100 since the book’s), is there any more magic to be wrung from The Wizard of Oz? PaintBox Theatre has answered this jaded question with a resounding, Absolutely! With just three actors, a few props and a whole lot of cleverness and children’s art, the PaintBox troupe is going to recreate the wonderful world of Oz....

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Sticks & Stones Won’t Break Your Bones at Hope and Feathers, Amherst
Jul03

Sticks & Stones Won’t Break Your Bones at Hope and Feathers, Amherst

Sticks and Stones II, the new exhibit at Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery, is a contemplation of the very small and natural. The four artists contributing to this show meditated on things like pebbles, pieces of cloth, terra cotta, and textiles. The end result is a celebration of the little ones we take for granted.Look for terra cotta pieces by Mary Carroll, textile constructions by Sharon McCartney, mixed media/ assemblages by...

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Stagestruck: Stellar Casts Overcome Awkward Plot Points at Chester and Williamstown Theatres
Jul03

Stagestruck: Stellar Casts Overcome Awkward Plot Points at Chester and Williamstown Theatres

Are we finally breaking through the color bar in American theater? Is the tokenism represented by theaters programming one “diverse” play during Black History Month giving way to broader representation and bolder casting choices? Judging from the area’s summer theater lineup, it just might be.In late June, for example, three plays focusing on people of color opened in Western Mass. One of them stipulates only that its two characters...

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Stagestruck: Song & Dance
Jun30

Stagestruck: Song & Dance

Two shows now running in the Berkshires are rooted in the past but right up to the minute. Both Tireless, playing this week at Jacob’s Pillow, and Ragtime, at Barrington Stage through July 15, take their inspiration from the music of a bygone era while inviting us, implicitly but exuberantly, to reflect on our own times.I don’t know why or when Ragtime was chosen as this season’s mainstage musical at Barrington Stage, but I’ll bet the...

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Staff Picks: Math Rock Rocks!
Jun27

Staff Picks: Math Rock Rocks!

Giraffes? Giraffes! + More Math — FridayIt’s a night of awesome math rock at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield this Friday. Expect unusual time signatures, angular guitar lines, and sheer epic experimental forays into the boundaries of rock n’ roll. Giraffes? Giraffes! is an immensely popular Western Mass-based math rock duo that headlines the night. Other great acts include the jazzy, mathy, and intensely...

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Stagestruck: Brother/Sister Act — The New Theresa Rebeck Play Gets World Debut in VT
Jun27

Stagestruck: Brother/Sister Act — The New Theresa Rebeck Play Gets World Debut in VT

The publicity for Downstairs, which opened at the Dorset (VT) Theatre Festival last week, gives rather short shrift to the fact that it’s a world premiere by the prolific Theresa Rebeck, whose plays Bad Dates and Mauritius are also being produced in the region this summer (at Shakespeare & Company and Oldcastle Theatre, respectively). Most of the attention has been showered on another first: Tyne Daly and her brother, Tim Daly,...

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Fourth of July Fireworks: Where and When
Jun26

Fourth of July Fireworks: Where and When

It’s Going to be a BlastCommunities all over the region are lighting off fireworks this week to celebrate America’s independence — July 4, the day, back in 1776, the 13 colonies told King George to kick rocks. It’s a good time to party and reflect on what made the colonists risk their lives for freedom. There are about two dozen grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence, here’s a few (the “he” is England’s King...

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Hip-Hop Workshop for the Family
Jun26

Hip-Hop Workshop for the Family

The Family That Rhymes Together …This hip-hop workshop is family-friendly and focused on training young people in fashion, rhythmic poetry, and visual arts. The weekly class integrates inner-city arts and graffiti using constructive “off the wall” methods. Hosted by Sheldon Smith, who’s been producing art and clothing since the ’90s, the workshop seeks to help people of all ages find their creative voices.Off the Wall: Visual...

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Summit View Rocks With Trailer Trash
Jun26

Summit View Rocks With Trailer Trash

Take in Some TrashTrailer Trash is headlining this Friday’s edition of Summit View’s Pavilion Summer Concert Series. The immensely popular weekly shows at the banquet hall, on Route 5 in Holyoke, are free and open to the public. There’s a BBQ buffet for purchase and a cash bar to keep you sated and dancing. The buffet opens at 5:30 p.m. and the music goes 6:30-10 p.m. Trailer Trash plays covers of modern country hits and has built up...

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Long Live the Staycation! Why Leave Western Mass?
Jun26

Long Live the Staycation! Why Leave Western Mass?

Hanging around the house is something we all do, but usually in an unfocused, squished-between-chores-and-obligations sort of way. But when you stay home for vacation, your dwelling can become a sanctuary, free from the day-to-day grind. If you can’t afford to get out of town, treat your home like a resort: stock it with your favorite goodies, splurge a bit on something comfy, and postpone responsibilities for a while. Indulge in the...

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Go See: Ghosts of Industry by Catherine Gibbs
Jun26

Go See: Ghosts of Industry by Catherine Gibbs

Familiar Forgotten PlacesCatherine Gibbs picked a ubiquitous, but faded piece of local history for her exhibit at the Elusie Gallery in Easthampton: Mill buildings and train yards. Though not as much is manufactured here anymore, not that long ago people in places like Easthampton, Northampton, Holyoke, and Chicopee would tell time by the manufacturer whistles signaling breaks and shift switches. And the trains that would haul away...

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Berkshires Arts Festival This Weekend
Jun26

Berkshires Arts Festival This Weekend

Art in a (Butter)NutshellStrolling through booths of fine art with a glass of wine in your hand underneath a sunny sky in the Berkshires isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon, or two. That’s what you’ll get at the 16th Berkshires Arts Festival at the Ski Butternut resort. This year’s event boasts 200 jury-selected artists and designers who will show and sell their jewelry, textiles, wood, furniture, ceramics, leather, glass,...

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Stagestruck: Fowl Play(s)
Jun20

Stagestruck: Fowl Play(s)

“Birds of a feather flock together,” as the saying goes, but that’s no excuse for these two avian-themed plays to be running at the same time in this area. They are entirely different species.The Birds, at Barrington Stage Company, is a claustrophobic thriller, while Stupid Fucking Bird, opening on Thursday at Silverthorne Theater Company, is a cheeky updating of Chekhov’s The Seagull. When asked what Stupid Fucking Bird is...

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Review: ‘Mikhail and Margarita’
Jun19

Review: ‘Mikhail and Margarita’

Though he is commonly considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, due to Soviet censorship, Mikhail Bulgakov never saw his most famous work published in his lifetime.Now, more than 40 years after its publication, and 70 years after Bulgakov’s death, Julie Lekstrom Himes, a Massachusetts fiction writer, is bringing Bulgakov into the 21st century.Bulgakov, (1891-1928), lived in Russia during the height of Joseph Stalin’s...

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Django This Weekend: You’ve Never Heard an Accordion Rock Like This (w/vid)
Jun12

Django This Weekend: You’ve Never Heard an Accordion Rock Like This (w/vid)

Hot Gypsy JazzNorthampton’s annual Django in June is a week-long bonanza of Gypsy jazz workshops, concerts, and jamming with artists from across the globe. The event celebrates the musical stylings of Django Reinhardt. The music has been described as hot jazz or Gypsy swing, either way the sound is jolly, accessible, and unique. There’s a camp for “djam” musicians that runs throughout the celebration, but for the rest of us, there’s...

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Go: Revelations on Picasso’s Passion at The Clark
Jun12

Go: Revelations on Picasso’s Passion at The Clark

Pablo Picasso often painted himself as a bull.A fan of attending bullfights in his native Spain, the Cubist master saw himself as the hulking beast with big muscles, wild eyes, and swinging genitalia.In a piece now on view at The Clark in Williamstown, Large Bullfight With Female Bullfighter — a work largely interpreted to feature the artist, his wife, and his lover — the face of the bull is wild with smoothed-back curling hair. His...

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