Stagestruck: Murdering the Play
Sep26

Stagestruck: Murdering the Play

Even before the houselights dim, The Play That Goes Wrong is going wrong. On the uncurtained stage, a techie is still working on the floorboards and the stage manager is frantically trying to secure a part of the set. She recruits an audience member to help out while she goes in search of the dog who’s supposed to appear in Act Two. This is a preview of things to come in this English import and current Broadway hit, whose national...

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Stagestruck: “Hir” and Now
Sep26

Stagestruck: “Hir” and Now

Playwright Taylor Mac has described Hir as “a kitchen-sink drama.” Which is fair, as long as you understand that the sink in question is full of filthy dishes and fresh vomit. The genre- and gender-bending play, at Shakespeare & Company through October 7, begins with a homecoming and ends with an expulsion. In between, it tackles themes of gender and identity, power and privilege, dysfunction and abuse, love and hate – and one of...

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Stagestruck: Eight Shows for the Price of Two
Sep24

Stagestruck: Eight Shows for the Price of Two

This weekend and next, two theater companies demonstrate, once again, the breadth and variety of Valley stages. In Greenfield, Silverthorne Theater Company opens a two-week run of “six unruly comedies” by America’s cheekiest stage satirist, Christopher Durang. In Northampton, Serious Play Theatre Ensemble makes a triumphant return from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a pair of pieces that marry words and music in unique ways....

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Stagestruck: Play by Play by Playwrights
Sep20

Stagestruck: Play by Play by Playwrights

Before a play hits the stage, it goes through several other stages. The first is the opposite of public performance – the writing, solo and in private. Then, for the members of the Northampton Playwrights Lab, it’s shared with a small circle of fellow dramatists, who offer insights and suggestions to the work in progress. Then, usually after several revisions and further feedback, it’s put on its feet for the first time in a reading....

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Stagestruck: Hometown Tales & Terrors
Sep19

Stagestruck: Hometown Tales & Terrors

Walk down Main Street in any small American town and look around. There are the unassuming shopfronts and placid homes, holding private, ordinary lives. But behind the doors lie extraordinary secrets and dreams. Three plays this weekend in our not-so-ordinary Valley take us down some increasingly twisty side streets, from Thornton Wilder’s deceptively tranquil village, to a high school that hides the portal to an underworld of...

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Stagestruck: Puppets in the Green Mountains
Sep15

Stagestruck: Puppets in the Green Mountains

For two decades, Sandglass Theater, the justly world-renowned puppetry troupe headquartered in Putney, Vermont, has produced an international festival that serves as a gathering and showcase for masters of the form. The tenth biennial “Puppets in the Green Mountains” festival, Sept. 20-23 in Putney and Brattleboro, offers a variety of cross-disciplinary performances, some “for all ages” and some primarily for grownups. The performers,...

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Stagestruck: Women in the Saddle
Sep12

Stagestruck: Women in the Saddle

Hot on the heels of my recent rundown of women’s representation in the area’s summer theaters comes more encouraging evidence from some of the fall season’s first shows. The Majestic Theater is playing a cowboy musical in which the lead is not a boy. WAM Theater, which provides on- and offstage opportunities for women, continues its popular staged-reading series. And Pittsfield’s Whitney Center for the Arts revives the classic...

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Stagestruck: An Extraordinary Ordinary Man
Sep06

Stagestruck: An Extraordinary Ordinary Man

Two years ago I reviewed A Fiery and Still Voice, a living-history performance at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, Mass. The delightfully engaging show by Enchanted Circle Theater is back for four Saturdays this fall – Sept. 8th & 15th and Oct. 13th & 27th, two shows a day, 11 and 1. Info and tickets here. Here’s what I wrote about it at its premiere. If you’re like me, you studied William Cullen...

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Stagestruck: Minority Report — Women and people of color on summer-theater stages
Sep05

Stagestruck: Minority Report — Women and people of color on summer-theater stages

Readers of this column will know my practice of periodically reporting on the progress (or not) in the representation of women and people of color in area theaters. The summer season has recently ended, so I’ve been making a tally of this summer’s shows. The news is good. My usual accounting falls into three categories — plays written by, directed by, and centrally featuring women and/or “minorities.” This year the results are better...

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Pick of the Day 8/26: Louie Anderson at the Academy
Aug26

Pick of the Day 8/26: Louie Anderson at the Academy

Louie Anderson is a bonafide comedic icon.  His Emmy winning turn as Christine on the FX show Baskets has only cemented his legacy.  Anderson brings his humor to the Academy of Music tonight! 274 Main St., Northampton. Tickets are $25-$45.

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Stagestruck: Physick and Physics at Shakespeare & Company
Aug25

Stagestruck: Physick and Physics at Shakespeare & Company

A few years ago, when I told my brother I was directing a production of As You Like It, he said, “That’s the one about Beatrice and Benedick, isn’t it?” Well, no, but the confusion is understandable. Several of Shakespeare’s comedies have interchangeable titles: As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing (the one my brother was thinking of), All’s Well That Ends Well, and for that matter, Twelfth Night. As You Like It is the one about the...

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Pick of the Day 8/24: RPM
Aug25

Pick of the Day 8/24: RPM

Three days of metal, punk, and rock? Could it be? Yes! And it happening NOW!!  RPM Fest is New England’s biggest heavy music and camping festival, featuring 50 bands including Black Tusk, Tombs, Whores, Acid Witch, Child Bite, INCITE, Against the Grain, S.N.A.F.U. , Dead Empires, BARISHI, Heavy Temple, Worshipper, and more!  Performances on three stages, beer, food, vendors, games, and more.  Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club. 210...

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Pick of the Day 8/21: Transperformance 28: Amperbands
Aug21

Pick of the Day 8/21: Transperformance 28: Amperbands

Celebrate community and the arts with Transperformance 28: AmperBands! Featuring Colorway as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Soul Magnets as Sly & the Family Stone, Fancy Trash as Paul McCartney & Wings, King Radio as Simon & Garfunkel, Eric Olsson and Free Range Cats as Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, and so many more!  4:00-9:30 p.m.  Pines Theater-Look Park, 300 N Main St., Florence.   Adults $10;...

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Pick of the Day 8/20: Michelle Malone at the Iron Horse
Aug20

Pick of the Day 8/20: Michelle Malone at the Iron Horse

The New York Times says Michelle Malone is “the kind of singer and songwriter who can jolt things into overdrive.” She’s been on the scene for decades and she’s  collaborated with artists like Steve Earle Malone,  the late Gregg Allman, ZZ Top, and The Indigo Girls.  She’s known for “explosive” live performances and she’s also released more than a dozen records.  Slings and Arrows is her...

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Pick of the Day 8/17: Tuvan Throat Singers
Aug17

Pick of the Day 8/17: Tuvan Throat Singers

Tuvan throat singers to perform in Brattleboro, Vermont Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents Alash Ensemble, a trio of Tuvan throat singers. The central Asian republic of Tuva is home to a style of throat singing whereby  one singers produces two or more notes simultaneously. “Often a low drone and a high-pitched melody or other-worldly vocal effects not found in western music.” The musicians of Alash, however,...

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Pick of the Day 8/16: Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers
Aug16

Pick of the Day 8/16: Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers

If you’re aching for the Blues, check out Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers at Hawks & Reed tonight. Or if you’re yearning for some “Electric Delta Boogie–” you got it, check out Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers at Hawks and Reed.  Harpe has been called one of “the most dynamic, talented, and exciting roots rocking blues women on the scene,” by Living Blues Magazine.  8 p.m. (doors open at 7...

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Pick of the Day 8/10:Colorway at Luxe Burger Bar in Springfield
Aug10

Pick of the Day 8/10:Colorway at Luxe Burger Bar in Springfield

Colorway is awesome. They blew us away during their Advocate Sessions performance and I’ve gotten to see them here and there since then. Here’s a chance to catch them at a no cover, all ages show in Springfield. Luxe Burger Bar, 1200 West Columbus Ave., Springfield. 413-785-5893.

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Stagestruck: End-of-summer shows in the Berkshires — food for fun and thought
Aug08

Stagestruck: End-of-summer shows in the Berkshires — food for fun and thought

When Shakespeare & Company first set up shop in the Berkshires, their mainstage was a greensward before a wooded glade at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Lenox estate, with the audience seated on folding lawn chairs. That tradition has lately been revived, with outdoor performances at their present home in Lenox, as well on the grounds of the Mount, just down the road. The productions are generally the Bard’s comedies that have some...

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Staff Picks 8/9- 8/15
Aug07

Staff Picks 8/9- 8/15

Punk Prom at the Flywheel Arts Collective // SATURDAY, AUGUST 11 It’s not an ordinary lame prom at the Flywheel. Western Mass punks unite wearing their best alternative formal wear as they jam to local favorites, pose in a photobooth, and stop by a temporary tattoo station. The musical lineup for the evening includes pop punk band Nanny, alternative fuzz pop group Kindling, math metal punk band OroborO, atl-country meets punk group...

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Pick of the Day 8/7: BSO at Tanglewood
Aug07

Pick of the Day 8/7: BSO at Tanglewood

One of the finest reasons to live in western Mass is our proximity to great art.  So get out there and lap it up! It’s a day of musical activities for the entire family at Tanglewood and the whole shabang ends with an 8 p.m. concert featuring all the festival’s orchestras performing together.  Tanglewood on Parade: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. Tanglewood Music Festival, 297 West St.,...

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Local Calendar: Monday 8/6 – Wednesday 8/9
Aug06

Local Calendar: Monday 8/6 – Wednesday 8/9

MONDAY 8/6 MUSIC 43rd Annual Vermont Jazz Center Summer Jazz Workshop: 4 p.m. The Putney School, 418 Houghton Brook Rd., Putney. Berkshire High Peaks Music Festival: $12 – $50. The Berkshire School, 245 N. Undermountain Rd., Sheffield. 800-843-0778. cewmusicinfo@aol.com. Plainfield Concert Series: 7 p.m. Free. Donations are accepted. Plainfield Congregational Church, 356 West Main St., Plainfield. 413-634-0025....

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Pick of the Day 8/5: Dangerous House
Aug05

Pick of the Day 8/5: Dangerous House

The Williamstown Theater continues it summer run with a new play called Dangerous House. An aspiring black South African footballer named Noxolo moves to London for a fresh start. But she’s drawn back when Cape Town becomes host to the World Cup and she discovers her ex-lover (played by Emmy nominee Samira Wiley of Orange is the New Black) may be in danger. Will Noxolo risk everything to confront the secrets of a life she swore to...

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Stagestruck: Dancing down Hubbard Street— 40 years young
Aug03

Stagestruck: Dancing down Hubbard Street— 40 years young

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a frequent and popular visitor to the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. This year, celebrating its 40th season, the company presents a quartet of works showcasing its history and its current 16-member troupe, one of the most technically accomplished ensembles I’ve seen. The program, running through Sunday on the Pillow’s Ted Shawn mainstage, begins with “Decadance/Chicago,” excerpts from Israeli...

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Local Calendar: Thursday 8/2 – Sunday 8/5
Aug02

Local Calendar: Thursday 8/2 – Sunday 8/5

THURSDAY 8/2 MUSIC Amherst Downtown Beats – Flathead Rodeo & Colorway: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free. The Amherst BID’s Downtown Beats Summer Concert series continues with a performance by Flathead Rodeo and Colorway.Kendrick Park, East Pleasant St., Amherst. 413-345-2945. ann@amherstdowntown.com. An Evening with Pat Metheny: 8 p.m. $45 – $95. Pat Metheny with Antonio Sanchez, Linda Oh& Gwilym Simcock. Mahaiwe...

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Pick of the Day 8/2: The Amendments
Aug02

Pick of the Day 8/2: The Amendments

Thanks to the Northampton Arts Council,  The Cardboard Sea Theater presents The Amendments.  It’s a play about the sorrows of death and embattled family relationships. Judith and and her estranged brother Gabe’s father die; Judith just wants one thing from his estate.  Gabe, however, lays claim to what Judith wants and he’s got an amended will to back him up.  “As the night stretches on, Judith is forced to...

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Stagestruck: Three in the Hills
Aug01

Stagestruck: Three in the Hills

A trio of two-character plays now running in the Hilltowns and Berkshires offer a summer-season variety of subjects, styles, and even venues – a black-box theater, a converted town hall, a church sanctuary. Pauline Productions is dedicated to “producing and creating theatre with a focus on strong roles for women onstage and behind the scenes.” The Roommate, running till Saturday on a purpose-built stage in the Ashfield Congregational...

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Staff Picks Week of 8/2 – 8/8
Aug01

Staff Picks Week of 8/2 – 8/8

Valley Show Girl Presents at the 13th Floor Music Lounge // SATURDAY, AUGUST 4 The Valley Advocate’s own Valley Show Girl columnist Jennifer Levesque is curating a lineup of local acts at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence, which includes guitar and synth driven duo Fire Letters, progressive synth sorcerer John Trudeau, Grey Matter, led by ex Sebadoh member Eric Gaffney, and doom folk songwriter Celseigh. 99 Main St., (Above...

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Local Calendar: Tuesday 7/31 & 8/1
Jul31

Local Calendar: Tuesday 7/31 & 8/1

TUESDAY 7/31 MUSIC Alceste: 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. 12 Senior/$14 General. Opera based on heartbreaking story narrated by Euripides: King Admetus is dying and his wife, Alceste offers Apollo her own life in exchange for that of her beloved. $South Hadley’s Tower Theaters, 19 College St., South Hadley. 413-533-3456. info@towertheaters.com. Greenfield Military Band Concert: 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free. Energy Park, 50 Miles St.,...

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Stagestruck Abroad: Shakespeare’s Haunts, Part 2 — Stratford
Jul29

Stagestruck Abroad: Shakespeare’s Haunts, Part 2 — Stratford

Nowadays, Stratford-upon-Avon feels not so much like a town as a gift shop. The once-sleepy hamlet where William Shakespeare was born some 450 years ago, which he abandoned for a life on the London stage, has become a mercantile monument to Stratford’s most famous son – which must seem ironic to the “anti-Stratfordians” in the Shakespearean authorship controversy, who can’t credit the notion that an uneducated bumkin from a provincial...

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Local Calendar: Thursday 7/26 to Sunday 7/29
Jul26

Local Calendar: Thursday 7/26 to Sunday 7/29

THURSDAY 7/26 MUSIC A Little Night Music: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Trinity United Methodist Church will present “A Little Night Music” every Thursday during the month of July at 6:00pm. Free, donations accepted for all food items. Trinity United Methodist Church, 361 Sumner Ave., Springfield. 413-737-5311. Alex Johnson: 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Alex Johnson of Colorway, formerly of the Drunk Stuntmen. Luxe Burger Bar, 1200 West Columbus...

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Stagestruck Abroad: Two plays in London show theater’s unique power
Jul25

Stagestruck Abroad: Two plays in London show theater’s unique power

When I was recently in London, I saw two plays with connections to my favorite (make that favourite) British venue, the National Theatre. One was an African-American riff on a 19th-century melodrama, the other a dramatic immersion in a migrant camp on the English Channel. Though quite different in style and content, both wrestle ingeniously with wrenching issues and engage their audiences in unorthodox ways. An Octoroon has just...

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Pick of the Day 7/25: We the People
Jul25

Pick of the Day 7/25: We the People

In this time of political chaos and division, it makes sense to go back to the beginning to determine exactly what the Great Experiment was all about. But We the People can’t be put in a box; not only because it’s outside on the farm in Ashfield Double Edge calls home, but because their vision is larger than an a mere examination of the meaning of democracy. Artistic Director Stacy Klein says in a Greenfield Recorder...

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Pick of the Day 7/22: The Southern Vermont Dance Festival
Jul20

Pick of the Day 7/22: The Southern Vermont Dance Festival

The Southern Vermont Dance Festival 2018 is all day today! From 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Take your pick of over “113 dance classes, two Galas at the Latchis, an outdoor Promenade Performance and picnic, two Informal Showings, and lots of free community events!”  The event includes both free and ticketed events. Now that sounds like a good day!  The River Garden, 157 Main St.,...

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Pick of the Day 7/21: Lempicka at the Williamstown Theatre
Jul20

Pick of the Day 7/21: Lempicka at the Williamstown Theatre

Williamstown is definitely one of the places to be this summer if you love the stage! And one of my favorite artists is the inspiration for Lempicka, a world premiere musical. Tamara de Lempicka was a war time painter who created beautiful (and frosty) portraits of aristocrats and others. Her Art Deco style is beautiful and her story is compelling. Lempicka and her husband fled the Russian revolution and she turned to painting to...

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Pick of the Day 7/18: Shakespeare Under the Stars: Othello
Jul18

Pick of the Day 7/18: Shakespeare Under the Stars: Othello

Shakespeare’s Othello is a remarkable play that hinges upon (gulp) racist stereotypes. Othello is, after all black, and his wife Desdemona is white.  Her father is none too happy and it doesn’t help that Othello’s standard bearer, Iago, is a master at stirring the racist pot.  There’s a lot of charged language in this play that sounds much prettier in Elizabethan English than in current slang, but the damage is...

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