Stagestruck: A Crisis of Faith, with Laughs
Jun18

Stagestruck: A Crisis of Faith, with Laughs

Church & State, now on the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn stage in Stockbridge, is the funniest play about a serious issue I have ever seen. The issue is gun violence, specifically mass shootings, and the humor is threaded into the storyline so organically that, far from cheapening the theme, it lends to it a richer, more deeply human heart. The central figure is North Carolina’s (fictitious) junior senator, Republican Charles...

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Stagestruck: Barrington’s world premiere musical — not ready for prime time
Jun15

Stagestruck: Barrington’s world premiere musical — not ready for prime time

The “royal family” of Broadway in the early 20th century was the Barrymores – Ethel, “first lady of the American theater,” John the swashbuckling Shakespearean, and Lionel, best remembered now as mean old Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. The hit Broadway comedy of 1927 was The Royal Family, an affectionate sendup of the Barrymores and the showbiz aristocracy they embodied. Now it’s a musical, The Royal Family of Broadway, which...

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Stagestruck: At Shakespeare & Company, the Show Must, and Did, Go On
Jun13

Stagestruck: At Shakespeare & Company, the Show Must, and Did, Go On

A theater story: For three years in the mid-’70s, Anthony Perkins starred in the long-running Broadway production of Equus, playing the psychiatrist Dr. Dysart (pause for Psycho jokes). Just before one matinee came an announcement: “Anthony Perkins will not be appearing in this performance.” Groans of disappointment! “His role will be played by Richard Burton.” Buzz of excitement! At the time, Burton, who had played the part in...

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Stagestruck: What’s on stage this summer — Berkshire edition
Jun13

Stagestruck: What’s on stage this summer — Berkshire edition

Time was, summer theater was pretty predictable. Two comedies, a drama and a whodunit was the standard lineup when I was in summer stock way back in the day. Even the major venues — of which the Williamstown and Berkshire Theater Festivals were the grande dames — attracted audiences with familiar work and famous names. Those days are gone, summer theater having become just as varied and adventurous as any cold-weather stage. While...

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Stagestruck: Lessons in Survival
Jun04

Stagestruck: Lessons in Survival

Two plays now running in Hartford are framed by resistance movements against political and economic oppression, and both carry weighty metaphors. At TheaterWorks through June 23, a lesson in global economics is tucked into a torn-from-the-headlines thriller, and at Hartford Stage through this weekend, a lesson in trust and betrayal is wrapped around a tenacious plant. That plant is the aloe, the spiny green succulent that manages to...

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