Alan Chartock | I, Publius: Berkshires brimming with culture this summer


GREAT BARRINGTON >> There really is no better place than the Berkshires. Of course, I am preaching to the choir since you are here now.

I love to sit in the front of Patisserie in Great Barrington and talk to people who are vacationing in town. I hear one superlative after another. One guy I spoke to at the Great Barrington Haven sighed as he told me that life was good: "I'm in the Berkshires and I'm on the right side of the ground."

From Tanglewood to Jacob's Pillow, from the Mount to Shakespeare & Company, and from the Berkshire Theatre Group to the Barrington Stage Company, there really is no other place like home.

If you listen to the Roundtable on WAMC and hear all of Joe Donahue's interviews with the presenters and the artists, you know exactly what I mean.

Tourism is our economy. The line is out the door at the SoCo ice cream store on Railroad Street. The kids are spending time in the town's toy shops. The Lake Mansfield Beach is beginning to look more and more like the Fire Island Beach on the Fourth of July.

Anyone who does anything to threaten that tourism is really an enemy of economic development.

Recently, the lovely Roselle and I spent some quality time with our friends, the Fluhrs, at the Courtyard at the Red Lion Inn. People were having such a good time. But I must warn you, you'll need reservations. The place is very popular.

Also, study the weather report because all outside courtyard reservations are cancelled in the event of rain. We got lucky.

Last Sunday we went to Tanglewood where we watched an amazing pianist, Yuja Wang. Her playing was extraordinary. Since we were seated up close we could see her singing the very profuse notes as she played them.

What really had everyone in the hall taking notice was her revealing sense of style and fashion. Her first piece was Ravel's "Piano Concerto in G." She also preformed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," which was exquisite.

The elderly man sitting next to us announced that he was a Yuja Wang "groupie." The conductor, Gustavo Gimeno, was not only first rate but I suspect he was for the ladies what Ms. Wang was for not-that-easily impressed people like me.

You've really got to give a lot of credit to the BSO's artistic administrator, Tony Fogg, who puts these programs together. I don't know how he does it but he comes up with perfectly balanced programs and brilliant guest conductors when needed.

He's a real treasure. Mark Volpe and the BSO are to be given great credit for finding, keeping and promoting him.

On Saturday, we went to see the "The Pirates of Penzance" at the Barrington Stage Company. It was a terrific performance by a great troupe. Though the extraordinary Julianne Boyd did not direct the production, she did find everyone so she gets a lot of the credit.

We saw a preview and generally people who write about theater do not review previews. In our case, I was so impressed with the performance that I haven't been able to contain myself. The singing and the dancing are worthy of any Broadway stage.

The casting was superb and the way the theater was transformed into a real Gilbert and Sullivan pirate ship was extraordinary.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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