Stagestruck: Two Women − Intimate dramas explore shifting connections
Aug14

Stagestruck: Two Women − Intimate dramas explore shifting connections

A pair of two-handers, playing through this month and just next weekend respectively, examine intimate, intricate relationships between women. Harbor Stage Company, one of the region’s most reliably stimulating summer theaters, premieres its adaption of a cinema classic (see below) and the Valley’s adventurous Clementine Theater Collective celebrates its second season with a “sharp, moving almost-love story.”   The Clementine...

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Stagestruck: Ending on a Laugh
Aug14

Stagestruck: Ending on a Laugh

New Century Theatre is closing its summer season as it began — with “a full-out comedy,” as director Sam Rush puts it. This one is The 39 Steps, a jokey reconstruction of Alfred Hitchcock’s epic 1935 thriller. Or perhaps I should say deconstruction, since it’s performed by just four actors and played strictly for laughs. The now-classic scenario in which an innocent bystander is caught up in a mysterious and increasingly perilous...

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Basemental: Nanny’s “Nowhere” Is Vulnerable Grunge Rock Not To Be Missed
Aug11

Basemental: Nanny’s “Nowhere” Is Vulnerable Grunge Rock Not To Be Missed

I first caught Nanny at the 13th Floor in Northampton this past March; one of my bands was sharing a bill with them. Earlier this summer, I saw them again and had that feeling I was starting to grasp the songs. It wasn’t long before I learned a debut EP was right around the bend, too. This weekend it will be released at a show to celebrate the accomplishment. Nowhere by Nanny This new EP, named for closing track six, Nowhere, recalls...

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Cinemadope: How Reagan Forever Changed The Presidency
Aug11

Cinemadope: How Reagan Forever Changed The Presidency

With the ongoing avalanche of reporting on Russia and that nation’s relationship with our current president, it feels almost quaint to look back on the days of the Reagan era. Certainly there was international intrigue then, but today, the jelly beans and faux folksiness of Ron and Nancy’s White House sometimes seem — at least to a writer who went from boyhood to teenager under Reagan — like childhood memories from overnights at a...

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Stream Queen: Movies And Shows The Critics Got Wrong
Aug11

Stream Queen: Movies And Shows The Critics Got Wrong

Since its inception in the late 19th century, film has evolved from a seemingly trivial medium into one of the most wide-reaching and popular industries. Film criticism has grown right along with it, as academic and journalistic reviewers endlessly argue over film’s true purpose. Though film and TV criticism depends entirely on the biases and opinions of the critic herself, we all value critics’ opinions over our own. They know what...

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Stagestruck: Old-Fashioned Fun
Aug10

Stagestruck: Old-Fashioned Fun

The Fitzpatrick Mainstage on the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Stockbridge campus is the site of what I’m told is the country’s oldest continuously operating summer theater. For 89 years the building, converted from a former casino in 1928 by Broadway star Eva Le Gallienne, has staged a wide-ranging repertoire and launched dozens of stage and screen stars. This season BTG, perhaps looking ahead to next year’s 90th anniversary, has...

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Stagestruck: ‘This’ Drama as Sitcom Is ‘Too Snappy, Too Loud’
Aug08

Stagestruck: ‘This’ Drama as Sitcom Is ‘Too Snappy, Too Loud’

This is the title of the play now running at Barrington Stage Company (through August 27). But it might be more accurately called This and That. Melissa James Gibson’s script is a grab-bag of seriocomic situations, satirical barbs and personal anguish that harks back to the ’80s TV series thirtysomething. Her characters, approaching middle age – i.e., their forties – are preoccupied with marital, parental, ethical, sexual and...

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V-Spot: My Doc Won’t Give Me A Vasectomy!
Aug09

V-Spot: My Doc Won’t Give Me A Vasectomy!

Hi Yana, What can we do to build our case to hesitant doctors to perform vasectomies on young people (between 18-25 years old)? What would you recommend to someone interested in this procedure? I have been trying to get my GP (general practitioner) on board since my early 20s and I know so many other young men aiming for the same procedure. When I ask for it, I’m chided for my decision, denied the procedure, or told to redirect my...

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Stagestruck: A List Of Things To Live For in ‘Every Brilliant Thing’
Aug07

Stagestruck: A List Of Things To Live For in ‘Every Brilliant Thing’

Everyone needs something to live for. Some of us have a harder time finding it than others. Much harder. So … if you’re a young child and your mom has just tried to kill herself, what can you do about it? Well, you could give her a list of everything that makes the world beautiful and life worth living: 1.) Ice cream. 2.) Water fights. 3.) Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV. “All things that, at seven, I...

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Beerhunter Roadtrip! The Hudson Valley
Aug04

Beerhunter Roadtrip! The Hudson Valley

The thing to remember about summer in the Valley — aside from which SPF to use and which local farm stands sell the best corn — is that it will be over before you know it. Sure, the swimming holes don’t really warm up until September, and the cows at Cook Farm gamely enable our ice cream habit into the chillier months. But that special windows-down, afternoon road trip is a fleeting thing. With that in mind, I’m putting the August...

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Valley Show Girl: A Jam Session in the Forest With Staind Singer Aaron Lewis
Aug07

Valley Show Girl: A Jam Session in the Forest With Staind Singer Aaron Lewis

Staind. Remember them? I think at one point in our late-’90s lives we were all blasting “Tormented” or “Dysfunction” and relating to the ultra-sensitive alternative rock that was birthed right here in the Valley. Well, times have changed, and people change. Aaron Lewis, singer of the now-retired Staind has gone on to other things, including switching up musical genres to country. Lewis also puts on an amazing benefit concert once a...

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One Good Tern Deserves Another; Saving The Birds One Nest At A Time
Aug07

One Good Tern Deserves Another; Saving The Birds One Nest At A Time

One favorable consequence of always carrying binoculars in plain view is that they help create an international citizenry of nature lovers. I’ve just returned from a trip to England visiting family. There, we camped in the chilly, Scotland-like region of northeast England called Northumberland – in Latin, the “North Shadows” – an island-pocked coastline of temperamental weather and steep cliffs wedged between rocky and sandy beaches....

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Pour Man: This Fair Trade Wine Might Be The Cheapest Thing At Your Co-op
Aug09

Pour Man: This Fair Trade Wine Might Be The Cheapest Thing At Your Co-op

Riojana; Rosé, 2016; La Rioja, Argentina, $6.99 Not only is Riojana rosé a very good wine that sells for an incredibly low price, but it is also a wine that you can feel good about drinking. Riojana wines are produced by La Riojana, a certified Fairtrade cooperative of more than 500 families in the Rioja region of northwestern Argentina. All of the owners are equal partners, a group of small- and medium-scale farmers, who grow the...

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Stagestruck: Chekhov in Middle School – WTF…
Aug03

Stagestruck: Chekhov in Middle School – WTF…

What is it with all the Chekhov parodies? Just this summer Silverthorne Theater Company gave us Stupid Fucking Bird, Aaron Posner’s metatheatrical riff on The Seagull. There’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Christopher Durang’s Uncle Vanya mashup. And last year I directed Nagle Jackson’s The Quick-Change Room, about a Russian theater turning The Three Sisters into a musical comedy. Now comes Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow,...

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V-Spot: A Question From The Mono-Poly Guy
Aug02

V-Spot: A Question From The Mono-Poly Guy

Hi Yana, I always thought of myself as a monogamous person who sometimes dabbled with non-monogamy, but lately I’ve really been struggling to determine just what my “relationship paradigm” is. It started when I was in a non-mono relationship that transitioned to a mono one. We tried to get our conflicting needs met, but ultimately we made the painful decision to part ways. I then started some casual relationships and developed real...

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Cinemadope: It Takes Two To Go Down In A Bloody Shootout
Aug02

Cinemadope: It Takes Two To Go Down In A Bloody Shootout

For as long as stories have been told, they have been told about pairs: Odysseus and Penelope, Arthur and Merlin, Bugs and Elmer. It’s a rare tale that doesn’t focus, in some way, on that essential human desire to connect. It can bring us to ecstasy or despair — sometimes both — but there’s no escaping our need for each other. This week, Valley filmgoers have a chance to catch famous pairs on screens all over the area. Some of them...

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Cinemadope: Summer Cinema Slam in Brattleboro
Jul31

Cinemadope: Summer Cinema Slam in Brattleboro

Summer Cinema Slam 2017 is taking place at the New England Youth Theater in Brattleboro this Saturday night. Featuring an all-Vermont slate of films and artists — the bill includes four shorts and one hour-long feature, with musical act Hungrytown providing ambiance during the food truck and beer intermission — the films on display run the gamut from animation to period piece to drama. Ten dollars before or $15 at the door gets you a...

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Stagestruck: This Weekend Features ‘Slowgirl’ and ‘Doctor Doolitte’
Aug03

Stagestruck: This Weekend Features ‘Slowgirl’ and ‘Doctor Doolitte’

Two small-scale productions playing in the area this weekend have one thing in common. They both take place in the jungle. Apart from that, they couldn’t be more different. Slowgirl traces a tentative, emotionally fraught encounter between a motormouth teenager and her reclusive uncle through the terrain of traumas past and present in the aftermath of a sudden tragedy. Doctor Doolittle is PaintBox Theatre’s season-ending performance,...

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Stagestruck: History as a Living Weapon at Double Edge
Aug01

Stagestruck: History as a Living Weapon at Double Edge

A highlight of my summer theater season is always the magical change of pace afforded by Double Edge Theatre’s annual indoor/outdoor performance. This year, that peripatetic spectacle offers its own change of pace. Where previous seasons have given us captivating tales of magic and adventure from world literature and folklore, We The People brings it all back home – literally. Here, instead of the colorful silks and scarves we may...

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The V-Spot: How Do I End a Perfectly Fine Relationship?
Jul31

The V-Spot: How Do I End a Perfectly Fine Relationship?

How does one respectfully remove themselves from a relationship that in fact does not have any huge problems? I’m with a righteous man who checks a lot of boxes but doesn’t get me excited. I enjoy his company, we have a great time and do a lot of cultural things. The flip side is there is no passion, there is no tingle. As someone that is used to the old fade out move, how do I end a relationship respectfully and with integrity? And...

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The Pour Man: The Sheep Eat The Grape Skins So You Don’t Have To
Jul31

The Pour Man: The Sheep Eat The Grape Skins So You Don’t Have To

Don’t let the price of this wine put you off. It’s a bit expensive for my purse too, but it frequently goes on sale for much less, and it is an excellent and well-balanced New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that won’t drown you with overpowering grapefruit flavors or aromas of bruised tomato vine like some of the country’s cheaper wines do. Whitehaven is a privately-owned winery, started in 1994 in a small rented facility by Sue White and...

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Stagestruck: Animal Behavior – An Albee Prequel in Stockbridge
Jul31

Stagestruck: Animal Behavior – An Albee Prequel in Stockbridge

At the beginning of At Home at the Zoo, Ann appears from the kitchen and says to her husband Peter, “We have to talk.” Then they talk for an hour, and by the time Peter leaves their apartment to have a quiet read in Central Park, we know a lot more about him than we did in The Zoo Story. Let me explain. The Zoo Story, Edward Albee’s career-making one-act, takes place on a park bench where mild-mannered Peter is accosted by...

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Stagestruck: Hitting the Nail – New Century’s heroic truths
Jul28

Stagestruck: Hitting the Nail – New Century’s heroic truths

I’ll get right to the point: Hold These Truths, at New Century Theatre, is possibly the most important play of the summer, with certainly one of the season’s most exhilarating performances. It’s not only searingly suggestive of our current national crisis, but is a heartbreaking, infuriating, inspiring and energizing story in its own right. Jeanne Sakata’s one-person play is about one of the most disgraceful (and hidden) episodes in...

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Stagestruck: Gladrags and Ragtime at Shakespeare & Company
Jul27

Stagestruck: Gladrags and Ragtime at Shakespeare & Company

Intimate Apparel is all about fabrics. The silky fabrics draping the figures of elegant Gilded Age matrons and the coarser fabrics worn by their servants, delineating both economic and social standing. The deceptively comfortable fabrics covering the women’s corsets, whose plain or fancy decorations likewise convey status but whose whalebone stays and torturous lacing mean confinement for women of all stations. And then, those...

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Stagestruck: Taking Steps to Hilarity at Barrington Stage
Jul26

Stagestruck: Taking Steps to Hilarity at Barrington Stage

The classic sex farce is set in a large room with about half a dozen doors, in and out of which pop guilty lovers, jealous spouses and other staples of the genre, and behind which most of the shenanigans real and suspected take place. Alan Ayckbourne’s classic Taking Steps (at Barrington Stage Company through August 5) turns that convention on its head. The difference here is that much of what would normally happen offstage (like...

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

Stagestruck: Dancing on the Edge at Jacob’s Pillow With Akash Odedra

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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StreamQueen: Indie Films Coming Off the Festival Circuit You’ve Gotta See
Jul24

StreamQueen: Indie Films Coming Off the Festival Circuit You’ve Gotta See

Though digital media has forever changed the face of filmmaking, there’s still one key way independent filmmakers can premiere their work: by entering it into the festival circuit. Each year many films, spanning all lengths and genres, debut to those lucky minority able to attend the most established festivals. Independent film festivals offer the world’s first look at the year’s best films. Moonlight first screened at the Telluride...

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O, Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds On Massachusetts’ Pot Bill
Jul24

O, Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds On Massachusetts’ Pot Bill

We’re no Nevada, but last week Massachusetts took two rippin’ steps toward weed legalization and protection in the state. First the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a business cannot fire an employee for being a medical marijuana patient — a decision that is causing headaches in HR offices around the state who claim it will be difficult to maintain drug-free workplaces. Then the Legislature passed a compromise bill on...

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Cinemadope: That Time the MoMA Refused to Return Nazi-Stolen Art
Jul24

Cinemadope: That Time the MoMA Refused to Return Nazi-Stolen Art

My first exposure to Egon Schiele came via Deane G. Keller, an artist and professor whose figure drawing classes remain one of my most lasting memories of art school. We had been working on some hand studies when he suggested I might enjoy the Austrian artist’s work, and when class let out I cut through the trees to the school library to look up the man with the strange name. The collection of work I found amazed me: drawings,...

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V-Spot: Your Campfire Sex Life
Jul24

V-Spot: Your Campfire Sex Life

I love reading all of your stuff. I was wondering if you had any advice on getting back into a sexual relationship. My partner and I have been together for over four years and our sex has fizzled out a bit. I think now we feel really nervous about it and don’t know how to get back into it even though we both really want to! If you have anything to read or any advice to give that would be amazing. — Rekindle Our Romance   It’s...

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Valley Show Girl: Soundtracking Life with Eddie Japan
Jul24

Valley Show Girl: Soundtracking Life with Eddie Japan

Ahead of their show at the Iron Horse, I plug my purple Skull Candies into my ears, and click play on the intro track to Eddie Japan’s Golden Age. The sound of static pulls me in, reminding me of vinyl, so I pretend I’m listening on a record player, not my computer at work. “E-Cabaret /When the Morning Comes” jumps right into a blend of genres: I hear’ bits of ’70s pop, ’80s new wave, a hint of Latin, and a dash of big band, all on a...

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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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O Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds Of Massachusetts’ Pot Bill
Jul21

O Cannabis: Getting Into The Weeds Of Massachusetts’ Pot Bill

We’re no Nevada, but last week Massachusetts took two rippin’ steps toward weed legalization and protection in the state. First the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a business cannot fire an employee for being a medical marijuana patient — a decision that is causing headaches in HR offices around the state who claim it will be difficult to maintain drug-free workplaces. Then the Legislature passed a compromise bill on...

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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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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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