To life in shtetl and on stage


The American musical doesn't get a whole lot better than "A Chorus Line" and "Fiddler on the Roof." Either one in a single Berkshires theater season would be cause enough for high anticipation. But both in the same season is beyond beyond.

Berkshire Theatre Group is producing "A Chorus Line" at its Colonial Theatre on South Street in downtown Pittsfield, July 2 through 21 (press opening, July 7). On Union Street, a few blocks north of the Colonial, Barrington Stage Company is producing "Fid dler" on its Main stage, June 13 through July 14 (press opening, June 17).

"A Chorus Line" and "Fiddler on the Roof" may be the prime theater "events" this summer but they're not the only ones.

For example, consider a multimedia musical-in-development by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim -- "Here Lies Love," a preseason offering by Williamstown The atre Festival at Mass MoCA, June 21 through 24. Imelda Marcos -- yes, you read that right -- is the subject of this piece that promises, among other things, to use all of the space in Mass MoCA's Hunter Center.

You also can consider Aca demy Award-winning act ress Olympia Dukakis playing Pros pero in "The Tempest" at Shake speare & Company's Founders' Theatre, July 19 through Aug. 19 (press opening July 27), something of an event. Ditto Bradley Cooper as "The Elephant Man," July 25 through Aug. 5, at WTF (press opening July 26), and a brand new play by Mark St. Germain about the one and only Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- "Dr. Ruth, All the Way," at BSC's St. Germain Stage June 19 through July 15 (press opening, June 30).

And you can be sure there will be a lot of buzz surrounding "Satchmo at the Waldorf," a new play by Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout. Gor don Edelstein directs; the always compelling John Doug las Thomp son stars as Louis Arm strong, aka Satchmo -- at Shake speare & Company's Foun d ers' Theatre Aug. 22 through Sept. 16 (press opening Aug. 24).

On a personal level, beyond "A Chorus Line" and "Fiddler," I am particularly intrigued by:

1. "Far From Heaven," a brand new musical based on Todd Haynes' haunting 2002 film, set in the late 1950s, about a suburban Connecticut housewife who finds herself attracted to her black gardener. WTF Main Stage, July 19-29 (press opening July 21).

2. Director David Hyde-Pierce's "Guys and Dolls"-ish take on Oscar Wilde's sublime Victorian comedy "The Impor tance of Being Earnest," at WTF's Main Stage, June 26-July 14 (press opening, June 28).

3. "We Are Women: A Bern stein Cabaret," all those wonderful Leonard Bernstein Broad way songs. BTG Colonial Theatre, Aug. 9 through 12.

4. The Raviv ("Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo") Joseph plays -- "Animals Out of Paper," opening Chester The atre Company's season of uncommon love stories, July 5 through 15; and "The North Pool" at Barrington Stage's St. Germain Stage, July 26 through Aug. 11 (press opening July 29).

5. Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" at WTF's Nikos Stage, July 11-22 (press opening July 12), if only be cause it's being directed by Jessica Stone, whose inspired production of "Forum" two summers ago at Williamstown still resonates in my memory, and also because it stars Brooks Ashmanskas.

6. Berkshire Actors Theatre at Berkshire Museum. This Berkshires-grown theater company made an impressive debut last summer at Nicki Wilson's New Stage Performing Arts Center on North Street with a galvanic production of John Patrick Shanley's nasty black comedy, "Four Dogs and a Bone." BAT is bringing that production back this summer, cast intact, and playing it in rotating repertory with another Shanley play, "Doubt," June 21 through July 15. This summer, however, BAT will be on South Street in Berkshire Museum's 200-plus-seat auditorium, home of Little Cinema. Can that problematic space rise to theatrical occasions, even with plays as relatively undemanding, technically, as these two?

See you on the aisle!


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