Encore!: Berkshire Theatre Group offers another look at area high school productions

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group thinks the musical productions of the area's high school's are worth another look.

So this year, for a third year, the company is bringing back, "Encore! An Evening to Celebrate High School Musicals," at 7 p.m. on Friday, at The Colonial Theatre.

The revue features approximately 10-minute segments of Berkshire County high school musicals to showcase the works performed this spring.

"It's cool to watch [the high school students] go out on stage in The Colonial and look out in the audience. They're just amazed," said Travis G. Daly, who is directing the one-night-only production.

He said it's also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the levels of commitment, talent and enthusiasm area youths bring to local stages.

This year's "Encore!" event will feature more than 100 students from Drury, Hoosac Valley Regional, Mt. Greylock Regional, Lee, Pittsfield, Taconic and Wahconah Regional high schools, along with special guest emcees. "It's exciting to see students from around the county continuing to develop their talent and share it with their peers at The Colonial Theatre, year after year," Daly said.

Many high school theater students go beyond school to audition for or enroll in BTG camps, community theater productions or internships, or participate in productions of other area theater companies. Some, by the time they're done with high school, have been in 12 to 20 school and area productions. "They're committing to it more and more," Daly said.

He cited Caroline Sprague as one example of a dedicated theater student. A senior with Monument Mountain Regional High School she, on April 15, directed her first professional production, the dramatic "Mirror, Mirror," at BTG's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge.

In a prepared statement about the production, she said, "After several years of exploration in stage management, directing, marketing, and acting, I get to put my training to the test with a project I really care about: a student-run, student-acted show about students. My hope is that "Mirror, Mirror" can serve as a model for future student-run productions, and can show the community the full power of collaboration between self-motivated and artistically ambitious high school students."

Said the young woman's mother, Corey Sprague, of the experience: "This is a real case of high schoolers doing good, a school thinking out of the box, and the community supporting education and experiential learning."

Another youngster who, Daly said, has worked his way up is Mount Everett Regional School's Charles Kerzner. He went from small roles as a young child to, at age 12, playing Peter Pan in BTG's 2013 production of the same name.

Daly said students have come to take ownership of the productions they're in, pitching in beyond acting, and reaching out into the community with their work.

"It's so cool to build relationships with all these different schools and their directors," he said. "I think ["Encore!"] can continue to build and turn into maybe a weekend- or day-long event."

Reporter Jenn Smith can be reached at 413-496-6239.

If you go ...

What: "Encore! An Evening to Celebrate High School Musicals," presented by Berkshire Theatre Group.

When: Tonight at 7.

Where: The Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield.

Tickets: $10 for students, $15 for adults, with proceeds benefitting the year-round education program, BTG Plays!

Info: 413-997-4444 or www.berkshiretheatregroup.org.


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