PITTSFIELD -- "We have a Berkshires-wide audience. We want to welcome them," says Berkhire Theatre Group programmer Simon Shaw.
And so, for the fall, BTG is welcoming audiences to its venues in Pittsfield (the Colonial Theatre and The Garage) and Stockbridge (the Unicorn Theatre) with country music, jazz, rock, soul, bluegrass, theater, comedy, community events -- a little of this, a little of that, a lot designed to appeal to its Berkshires base, Shaw says.
"The conundrum for us each season is how best to build that season," Shaw said in an interview in the Colonial Theatre lobby.
"We have come to learn over the years what our audiences enjoy. So, the season we've put together has some date nights, excellent musicianship, comedy."
Shaw and BTG CEO / artistic director Kate Maguire are rolling out a fall season that gets under way Sept. 27 with the historic rock band 10,000 Maniacs at the Colonial, and wraps up in December, also at the Colonial, with BTG's traditional community offering -- Eric Hill's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
Sandwiched between those events are appearances by:
• Outpsoken talk show host and comedian Joy Behar in "Me, My Mouth, and I," Oct. 17
• Banjoist Noam Pikelny and fiddler Stuart Duncan, Oct. 16
• Kinks founder, rock guitarist Dave Davies, Nov. 26
• Country rockers Pure Prairie League, Nov. 16
Filling out the schedule is Pittsfield City Jazz Festival; Romance, Soul and Rock & Roll; country rockers BlackHawk & The Outlaws; the annual juried Made in the Berkshires weekend festival of staged play readings, music, film, short stories, and dance, created and / or performed by Berkshires artisans; and several theater offerings, among them "Poe," a new play by Eric Hill starring David Adkins; "Letters Home," based on actual letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East; and Peter Story in "Men Are From Mars -- Women Are From Venus LIVE! Sneak Preview!" a fusion of theater and stand-up comedy based on the best-selling book.
And, leaping ahead to next year, Shaw has booked George Thorogoood & The Destroyers for March 3.
The fall schedule is heavy in October with eight events -- seven at the Colonial and one in Stockbridge where "Poe" opens Oct. 4 after two nights of previews. Hill's play is set against the background of Poe's disappearance for four days in 1849 when he was found nearly dead outside a polling station on the eve of election day.
"October always has been a busy month for us. Also November," Shaw said.
"Our schedule is really strong musically."
It also is a season about storytelling, Shaw said.
"All these bands, classic bands, are telling stories," Shaw said, in addition to the spoken word narratives of talk show host and comedian Joy Behar and the theater piece "Letters Home."
"This is such a strong work," Shaw said, "and we have a strong veterans community in the Berkshires. We want to honor them. We want to have their stories told."
Tickets are available today to BTG members and passholders. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Tuesday.
Season at a glance
• 10,000 Maniacs. 8 p.m. Sept. 27. Colonial
• "Poe,” Oct. 2-26. Unicorn Theatre
• Made in the Berkshires Festival Oct. 11-13. Colonial / Unicorn / Garage
• Noam Pikelny & Stuart Duncan. 8 p.m. Oct. 16. Colonial
• "Joy Behar: “Me, My Mouth, and I.” 8 p.m. Oct. 17. Colonial
• Pittsfield City Jazz Festival: The Empire Jazz Orchestra. 8 p.m. Oct. 18. Colonial
• "Romance, Soul & Rock ‘N Roll: “Stage and Screen.” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25, 26. Colonial
• “Men Are From Mars — Women Are From Venus Live! Sneak Preview Show!” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30. Colonial
• “Letters Home.” 2 p.m. Nov. 9. Colonial
• Pure Prairie League. 8 p.m. Nov. 15. Colonial
• Dave Davies. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26. Colonial
• BlackHawk & The Outlaws. 8 p.m. Dec. 4. Colonial
• “A Christmas Carol.” Dec. 14-22. Colonial
• George Thorogood & The Destroyers: 40 Years Strong, 7:30 p.m. March 3
Complete ticket and season information is available by telephone at (413) 997-4444; online at berkshiretheatregroup.org; or in person at Colonial box office, 111 South St., Pittsfield