Berkshire Theatre Group's summer season hits 'wish lists'
PITTSFIELD -- Wishes are coming true this summer at Berkshire Theatre Group.
Karen Allen has been wanting to direct William Mastrosimome's "Extremities."
David Auburn has been talking to Berkshire Theatre Group artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire about directing Eugene O'Neill's "Ama Christie."
The role of King Henry II in James Goldman's "The Lion in Winter" is high on actor Treat Williams' wish list.
Maguire has been trying for seven years to get the rights to Bernard Slade's 1975 comedy hit, "Same Time, Next Year."
This summer, everyone is getting what they hoped for in a BTG season that begins in late June on the Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge with "The Lion in Winter" and ends in late August, also on the Fitzpatrick Main Stage, with Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Anna Christie."
In between there will be "Extremities" (July 11-27; press opening, July 13) in the Unicorn Theatre; "The Cat and the Canary," a 1922 thriller by John Willard set on a stormy night in an eerie Hudson River mansion, also in the Unicorn (July 31-Aug. 24; press opening, Aug. 3); "Same Time, Next Year" with David Adkins and Corinna May, in the Fitzpatrick (July 23-Aug.10; press opening, July 25); and, on the Colonial stage in Pittsfield, the previously announced musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" (July 1-20; press opening, July 6).
In addition, there will be special events and series, and the community musical, which will be announced in April.
Tickets are now available to BTG subscribers and members. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Feb. 20.
"Oklahoma!" reunites the creative team that created last season's "A Chorus Line" and the 2010 season's "The Who's Tommy" -- director Eric Hill and choreographer Gerry McIntyre.
" ‘Oklahoma!' really speaks to what it is to be an American, in all aspects," Maguire said during a recent interview in her office at the Colonial in Pittsfield's Upstreet Cultural District.
As for the rest
"These projects have been incubating," Maguire said. "Karen (Allen) appeared in the original 1982 Off-Broadway production of ‘Extremities' and now, 31 years later, she wants to look at the play as a director.
"David Auburn could have said he wanted to direct a new play this summer. What he did say was that he wanted to work on ‘Anna Christie,' " Maguire said.
"What this season really is about is a company of artists that has developed over time and these are the plays they wanted to work on.
"All in all, it's about being 85 years old (Berkshire Theatre Festival, which merged with the Colonial Theatre to create Berkshire Theatre Group, marks its 85th anniversary this summer) and where we've gotten to as artists. How do we hold on to our bonds?"
Indeed, Maguire said, that question is the thread that runs through each of the season's plays.
"Extremities" is about the terrifying cat-and-mouse connection between a rape victim and the man who attacked her in her house.
"Anna Christie" focuses on the challenges in the relationships among a woman who has fallen on hard, desperate times, her estranged father with whom she is trying to reconcile, and a sailor who falls in love with her.
"Same Time, Next Year" spans 25 years in the relationship between a man and a woman, each married to someone else, who meet at the same time each year at a motel in Northern California.
"Oklahoma!" looks not only at the varying and complex demands of human relationships, but also explores the American sense of territory and connection to the land.
And "Lion in Winter" focuses on the intricacies of politics and the ties of marriage and family as King Henry II and his wife, Queen Eleanor of Acquitaine, battle over the future of their feuding sons and accession to the throne.
"[We're working this summer with] mature artists who want to do mature work.
"The season is about the maturity of our company and 85 years of theater history," Maguire said. "It's about honoring Berkshire Theatre Festival."
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The season at a glance ...
Fitzpatrick Main Stage
- "The Lion in Winter" by James Goldman. Directed by Robert Moss. June 25-July, 13 (press opening -- June 29)
- "Same Time, Next Year" by Bernard Slade. Directed by Kyle Fabel. July 23-Aug.10 (press opening -- July 25)
- "Anna Christie" by Eugene O'Neill. Directed by David Auburn. Aug. 20-31 (press opening -- Aug. 24)
- "Extremities" by William Mastrosimone. Directed by Karen Allen. July11-27 (press opening -- July 13)
- "The Cat and the Canary" by John Willard. Director TBA. July 31-Aug. 24 (press opening -- Aug. 3)
- "Oklahoma!" Music by Richard Rodgers. Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein Jr. Directed by Eric Hill. July 1-20 (press opening -- July 6)
- Ellenoff Musical Theatre Series. Select Mondays at 2 p.m. Colonial Theatre.
- Friday Series. Select Fridays at 2 p.m. Fitzpatrick Main Stage and Unicorn Theatre.
- Made in the Berkshires. Oct. 11-13. Colonial Theatre and Unicorn Theatre.
- "Mary and Edith -- Musings by Women a Century Apart: Stories by Mary Mott and Edith Wharton." Unicorn Theatre. October (dates TBA).
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- Tickets now on sale for subscribers and BTG members. Tickets on sale to general public beginning Feb. 20.
- Complete ticket and program information available online at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org; by telephone at (413) 997-4444; in person at Colonial box office, 111 South St., Pittsfield.
- Box office hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; performance days, 10 a.m. until curtain.
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