Broadway stars Alan Cumming, Kelli O'Hara ignite Mahaiwe summer

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Two Tony Award-winning Broadway luminaries — Alan Cumming and Kelli O'Hara — are scheduled to perform this summer at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

Cumming will appear in the Mahaiwe's annual Gala on Monday, July 18 in his new concert, "Alan Cumming Sings Snappy Songs." O'Hara will be at the Mahaiwe on Aug. 7 in an evening of music from the American Songbook.

Cumming and O'Hara headline a block of spring/summer events that includes appearances by MOMIX and Paul Taylor Dance Companies, author David Sedaris, and The Beatles tribute band, The Fab Faux. There also is an expanded list of HD broadcasts and community-sponsored events.

Clearly, Mahaiwe executive director Beryl Jolly suggested in a telephone interview, the jewels in the crown are Cumming and O'Hara.

"We have been waiting for this opportunity for some time. Finally," Jolly said, "the angels obliged."

The Mahaiwe's annual Gala is being moved from its traditional Columbus Day weekend slot to this July date to accommodate Cumming's schedule.

"This event just seemed too good to pass up so we were more than willing to make the move. Also," Jolly said, "we were able to schedule it for a Monday evening (when there are fewer events at other venues) to make it easier for people to come."

Cumming is best known to television viewers for his continuing role as Eli Gold on the CBS series "The Good Wife." He was last seen on Broadway in 2014 in a reprise of his Tony Award-winning performance as the Emcee in Roundabout Theatre's revival of "Cabaret" with Emma Stone. In addition to stage and film, he has performed at various venues around the world, among them Sydney Opera House,

O'Hara starred in the musicals "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Far From Heaven" at Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she also performed in a one-night-only benefit concert for the Tony Award-winning regional theater. She is a Tony Award winner for her performance as Anna Leonowens in the current revival of "The King and I." She was a Tony nominee for "South Pacific," "The Light in the Piazza," "The Pajama Game," "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It." She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in "The Merry Widow" with Renee Fleming and played Mrs. Darling in NBC's live telecast of "Peter Pan."

MOMIX will make its third appearance at the Mahaiwe on July 2 and 3. The July 3 performance is billed as a "kid-friendly" matinee featuring a number of company and audience favorites. MOMIX artistic director Moses Pendleton will give a pre-show talk on July 2 for Mahaiwe members and, together with several MOMIX dancers, an audience Q&A after the July 3 matinee.

Pendleton's talk, Jolly says, is part of an expansion of pre- and post-performance talks to include live and HD dance programs. New this winter and spring at the Mahaiwe is a collaboration with Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival to offer pre-broadcast talks with Bolshoi Ballet HD presentations. The partnership, Jolly said, is designed as a means of creating a "full dance experience" for audiences.

Paul Taylor Dance Company has become something of a fixture on the Mahaiwe's summer landscape and this summer is no exception. The dance company is making its ninth appearance at the Mahaiwe with three programs over two days — July 22 and 23. While the full program has yet to be announced, it is known that the featured work will be "Beloved Renegade," a 2009 work inspired by Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." On the afternoon of July 17, the Mahaiwe will screen "Dancemaker," a 2009 documentary Taylor.

Among other highlights:

• Author David Sedaris makes his third appearance at the Mahaiwe on April 10.

• In their second Mahaiwe concert, The Beatles tribute band, The Fab Faux, performs the complete "A Hard Day's Night" in addition to a number of Beatles favorites on July 30.

The Mahaiwe's HD broadcasts — which include productions by Bolshoi Ballet, The Met Opera and London's National Theatre — is expanding to include Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. Branagh's "Romeo and Juliet" – with Richard Madden and Lily James as the star-crossed lovers and Derek Jacobi as Mercutio — will be broadcast on Aug. 21.

The London National Theatre series will include an encore broadcast of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Audience" (3 p.m. on May 15), preceded at 1 by a tea-tasting with master tea blender Michael Harney of Harney & Sons Fine Teas at Castle Street Cafe; and Martin McDonagh in Matthew Dunster's "Hangmen" on March 20, a dark comedy, set in a pub, that considers the dilemma faced by the UK's second-best hangman on the day hanging is abolished.

More events will be announced shortly, Jolly said. In addition, the Mahaiwe will be hosting a number of programs — films, concerts, talks, performances — produced by Berkshires-based organizations.

On the whole, Jolly says, the Mahaiwe continues to make strides. Half the audience for its events come from the Berkshires; the rest from New York, Boston and all around the country. "We've become a destination," Jolly says, attributing the theater's national profile to the Internet.

Since its inception in 2009, the Mahaiwe's school field trips, Jolly says, have brought more than 14,000 students from 52 schools in four states to the theater.

The commitment to the HD broadcasts, Jolly said, is further evidence of the ways in which modern media technology can be used to connect audiences in small communities, like Great Barrington, with the broader international cultural scene.

"Through all our programming," Jolly said, "we are looking to expand to new heights and reach new depths."

SEASON AT A GLANCE

• March 4: Monument Mountain Regional High School Pops Concert. 8 p.m.

• March 5: The Met Live in HD — Puccini's "Manon Lescaut." 1 p.m. (pre-broadcast talk by Scott Eyerly, 11 a.m.; encore broadcast March 16 at 1 p.m.)

• March 5: Music in Common — "From Madness to Music" (documentary film). 7 p.m. (free)

• March 11: Imago Theatre's "ZooZoo." 10 a.m. (school field trip performance)

• March 12: Project Native Film Festival — "Embracing the Greatest Challenge of Our Time." 7 p.m. (free)

• March 13: Bolshoi Ballet in HD — "Spartacus." 1 p.m. (pre-broadcast talk by Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival director of preservation Norton Owen at 12:40)

• March 19: Close Encounters With Music — "J.S. Bach & Sons Legitimate and Otherwise." 6 p.m.

• March 20: London's National Theatre in HD — "Hangmen" by Matthew Dunster. 3 p.m.

• April 2: The Met Live in HD — Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." 1 p.m. (pre-broadcast talk by Scott Eyerly at 11 a.m.; encore broadcast April 13 at 1 p.m.

• April 10: Author David Sedaris. 7 p.m.

• April 16: The Met Live in HD — Donizetti's "Roberto Devereux." 1 p.m. (pre-broadcast talk by Scott Eyerly at 11 .m.; encore broadcast April 27 at 1 p.m.)

• April 17: Close Encounters With Music — "Fiddler OFF the Roof." 3 p.m.

• April 24: Bolshoi Ballet in HD — "Don Quixote." 1 p.m.(pre-broadcast talk by Jacob's Pillow scholar-in-residence Brian Schaefer at 12:40 p.m.)

• April 27: Treehouse Shakers' "Under the Tangle." 10 a.m. (school field trip performance)

• April 30: The Met Live in HD — R. Strauss' "Elektra." 1 p.m. (pre-broadcast talk by Scott Eyerly at 11 a.m.; encore broadcast May 11 at 1 p.m.)

• May 14: Close Encounters With Music — "The Arts of the String Quartet." 6 p.m.

• May 15: London's National Theatre Live in HD (encore broadcast).— "The Audience" with Helen Mirren. 3 p.m. (pre-broadcast Harney & Sons tea tasting, Castle Street Cafe at 1:30)

• May 27: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Mona Sherman Lecture — author Joe Klein. (free)

• June 2-5: Berkshire International Film Festival

• June 11: Close Encounters With Music — "Music That Shook the World." 6 p.m.

• July 2 and 3: Momix. July 2 at 8 p.m.; July 3 at 3 p.m.

• July 9: Aston Magna — "J.S. Bach — Sacred and Secular." 8 p.m.

• July 14: "From Naughty to Nice — Nudes From the Prado." Lecture by Laura Yeager-Crassell, interim curator of paintings and sculpture at the Clark Art Institute. (free)

• July 17: Paul Taylor documentary — "Dancemaker." 3 p.m. (free to Mahaiwe members)

• July 18: Mahaiwe Gala — "Alan Cumming Sings Snappy Songs." 8 p.m.

• July 22-24: Paul Taylor Dance Company. 8 p.m. on July 22; 3 p.m. on July 23; 7:30 p.m. on July 24

• July 30: The Fab Faux — The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" (complete). 8 p.m.

• Aug. 7: Kelli O'Hara — selections from the Amrican Songbook. 7 p.m.

• Aug. 21: Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company in HD — "Romeo and Juliet." 1 p.m.

Tickets

• Tickets go on sale to Mahaiwe members at noon on Wednesday and the general public at noon on Feb. 17.

• Gala performance-only tickets also will be available beginning Feb. 10 and 17. A special gala package, which includes a pre-show dinner, will be available in spring. • Gala ticket information is available through Dave Barrett at (413) 644-0940 extension 106 or via email at dave@mahaiwe.org.

• Complete ticket and schedule information is available online at mahaiwe.org; by phone at (413) 528-0100; or directly at the Mahaiwe box office at 14 Castle St.

Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and three hours before showtime on performance days.


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