A digest of what's playing at theaters in and around the Berkshires based upon reviews by Berkshire Eagle theater critic Jeffrey Borak.
Capsules include publication date of review, closing date of production, performance schedule, and production's running time.
A denotes a highly recommended critic's choice.
BIG RIVER: The light definitely shines on this masterly, thoroughly ingratiating production of Roger Miller (music and lyrics) and William Hauptman's (book) tuneful and imaginative setting of Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" that doesn't shy away from Twain's penetrating satire and harder message about hypocrisy, bigotry and intolerance in American society (July 14). Through July 24. Evenings — Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30. Matinees — Thursday and Sunday at 2. (2 hours 16 minutes — including one intermission)
Oldcastle Theatre Company, 331 Main St., Bennington, Vt. Tickets — $37 (students $12). (802) 447-0564; oldcastletheatre.org
FIORELLO!: This 1960 Pulitzer Prize-musical about the life and career of reform, progressive New York immigration lawyer-turned-politician in the 10 years leading up to his election in 1933, as a Democrat/Republican Fusion candidate to the first of what would be three-successive terms as mayor of New York, is being revived by a spirited company of young actors led by a manic, physically and vocally eccentric title role performance by Austin Lombardi. The production is most alive in its musical numbers which are the strength of this otherwise shallow material (June 27). Through July 23. Evenings — Monday through Thursday at 7; Friday and Saturday at 8. (2 hours 26 minutes — (including one intermission)
Berkshire Theatre Group, Unicorn Theatre, 6 East St., Stockbridge. Tickets — $60. (413) 997-4444; berkshiretheatregroup.org; at box office — Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield; Fitzpatrick Main Stage, 83 E. Main St., Stockbridge.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS: A bit of Charles Dickens infuses director Ethan Heard's shrewdly crafted production of this charming, poignant musical about a low self-esteem clerk in a Skid Row flower shop who finds a world of possibilities — love, fame, money — when he strikes a Faustian bargain with an exotic bloodthirsty plant he has nurtured to horrifying life. This is a show with a lot of smarts and an awful lot of heart (July 13). Through July 23. Evenings — Monday through Thursday at 7; Friday and Saturday at 8. Matinees — Thursday and Saturday at 2. (2 hours — including one intermission)
Berkshire Theatre Group, The Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield. Tickets — $65-$25. (413) 997-4444; berkshiretheatregroup.org; at Colonial Theatre box office and Fitzpatrick Main Stage box office, 83 E. Main St., Stockbridge
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE: Over-thinking has been problematic at Shakespeare & Company but not so in this thoughtfully rendered production of one of Shakespeare's most problematic plays. From design to staging in an impressive new theater-in-the-rectangle configuration in the Tina Packer Playhouse to a shimmering performance by Tamara Hickey as Portia and a richly nuanced performance by Jonathan Epstein as Shylock, director Tina Packer's production is of a piece that comes as close as any to reconciling elements that often are at war with one another (July 16). Through Aug. 21. In rotating repertory. Selected evenings at 7:30; selected afternoons at 2. (3 hours 4 minutes)
Shakespeare & Company, Tina Packer Playhouse, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets — $80-$20. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org; at 70 Kemble St. box office
THE TAMING: William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" is the inspiration for Lauren Gunderson's wildly uneven, hit-and-miss contemporary political comedy about a Georgia beauty queen who is determined to restore the United States to the promise of its Founding Fathers by rewriting the Constitution. Her scheme involves kidnapping a Southern senator's top aide and a liberal blogger who is out to save a rare rodent from extinction. The performances are energetic, committed and off-the-top but only Tangela Large as the senator's aide manages to find a human element beneath all the noise and bluster and give resonant voice to the "we the people" the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they set out to create a more perfect union (June 9). In repertory through July 30. Selected evenings at 7:30 or 8:30 and afternoons at 3. (1 hour 28 minutes — no intermission).
Shakespeare & Company, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets — $60-$20. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org; theater box office — 70 Kemble St.
TOWARDS ZERO: Awkward staging and a range of performances from unconvincing to uncertain and accomplished mark this generally unsatisfying production of a tidy Agatha Christie mystery about murder most foul at a seaside guest house (July 11). Through July 24. Evenings — Thursday through Saturday at 8. Matinees — Saturday at 4; Sunday at 2. (2 hours 21 minutes — including one intermission)
The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon, N.Y. Tickets — $27, $22. (518) 794-8989; tbarn.org; at the theater box office
UGLY LIES THE BONE: A badly scarred, severely injured veteran of the war in Afghanistan returns to her Florida home after her third tour of duty to pick up the pieces of her life and heal from wounds that are not only physical but which also reach deep into the marrow of her emotional being in Lindsey Ferrentino's drama. Christianna Nelson gives a steady, if somewhat cautious, performance as the deeply scarred veteran, Jess, in a production that also feels cautious and nowhere near as courageous as its central character (June 30). In rotating repertory through Aug. 28. Selected evenings at 8:30 and afternoons at 3. (1 hour 32 minutes — no intermission)
Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Tickets — $20-$60. (413) 637-3353; shakespeare.org; at box office — 70 Kemble St.