PITTSFIELD — After two summers of outdoor theatre productions Berkshire Theatre Group is bringing all of its programming indoors this summer.
The theatre company will hold two major productions, "Once" and "Dracula," along with its year-round BTG PLAYS! education programs in the Colonial Theatre. The season kicks off with the world premiere of "B.R.O.K.E.N. Code B.I.R.D. Switching," on June 23 at the Unicorn Theatre, in Stockbridge. "Songs For A New World" and Edward Albee's "Seascape" will follow.
Tickets go on sale at noon on Friday, Feb. 25. Tickets can be purchased online at berkshiretheatregroup.org or by calling the Colonial ticket office at 413-997-4444.
Cast listings and additional programming will be released at a later date.
"We're so relieved to get back into those spaces," Berkshire Theatre Group Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire said during a phone interview on Wednesday. "We had a good time under the tents, but it’s not the same as being indoors, in the theater spaces, with all the bells and whistles that make it all magic."
The past two years, strict state, local and Actors’ Equity Association COVID-19 protocols had limited where and under what conditions theater shows could be produced. In 2020, BTG produced "Godspell" under a tent at The Colonial, along with several other productions and concerts under a tent at Fitzpatrick Main Stage and in the Unicorn Theatre courtyard. Upgrades to HVAC filters and added ozone-free NPB ionization, allowed for the return of productions to the Unicorn Theatre stage during summer 2021 and to The Colonial's stage in December.
"When we produced 'Godspell' outside, I was struck by the real need, the primal need, we have to to gather and to tell our stories," Maguire said. "We're making sure that happens. The Berkshire Theatre Festival, our Stockbridge campus, has never missed a year."
While productions will take place at the intimate 112-seat Unicorn Theatre, the 314-seat Fitzpatrick Main Stage will remain dark this summer, allowing for the enhancement of the historic Fitzpatrick Playhouse's HVAC system. The Fitzpatrick Playhouse, designed by famous Gilded Age architect Stanford White in 1887 and originally known as the Stockbridge Casino, has been home to the Berkshire Theatre Festival since its founding in 1928.
"We're going to let those upgrades happen over the course of this year," Maguire said. "We're heading toward the 100th anniversary in 2028, which is not that far away. Everything we're doing now is with an eye towards that 100th anniversary. It's a historic building. We're looking at it, trying to sort it out — what it will look like, what we need to do to do theatre there for the next 100 years."
Before the summer kicks off, BTG PLAYS! will present "Footloose," with a cast of Berkshire teens, at The Colonial, April 8-10.
“We’ve mounted shows with kids for years and have had as many as 120 on stage at one time. Because of COVID, we have 25 of Berkshire County’s most talented and wonderful kids on the stage for ‘Footloose,’” she said. “They’re in rehearsals now and just having a blast. They are so happy to be back together. We work with kids from all over the county. It’s a great way for kids from north and south county to meet and get to know each other.”
BTG PLAYS! touring show, "Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs Before Dark KIDS," based on Mary Pope Osborne's popular book series, will stop at The Colonial on April 23 for a 2 p.m. performance.
The upcoming season lineup features features a Tony Award-winning musical, a classic gothic tale of horrors, a world premiere play, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and the first musical by a Tony Award winner.
"B.R.O.K.E.N code B.I.R.D wwitching" starts the summer season with its world premiere at the Unicorn Theatre with previews on June 23 and 24. Opening night is June 25.
"This is a play we were going to do before COVID," Maguire said. "It's an extraordinary look at an African American woman who finds herself questioning who she has become. She's very successful in a very white world and all of the sudden she begins to realize the world she finds herself in may not be the world she wants to be in. It's a hard look at self, of who she wants to be. It's a story of identity."
"Songs For A New World," a series of songs composed by Tony Award-winning Jason Robert Brown, opens at the Unicorn Theatre on July 23, with previews on July 21 and 22, followed by Edward Albee's "Seascape," on Oct. 1, with previews Sept. 29 and 30.
"Once," winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book of Musical, kicks off the summer at The Colonial with previews on July 1 and 2. Opening nigh is July 3. Based on the film written and produced by John Carney, with music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, "Once" is a love story; the story of a guy who gave up on love and music and the girl who inspired him to dream again.
"It's just a piece about love; how you can be moved by the force of love, whether it's the person standing in front of you or the gift you’ve been given," she said. ""It's also an immigrant story. The woman at heart of piece finds herself in Ireland. She teaches this man, who is about to give up singing, not only how important love for another person is, but also about how important one’s creativity is; how important it is to take care of."
Next up at The Colonial, opening Aug. 13, is "Dracula," based on Bram Stoker's novel which first introduced this legendary vampire to the stage.
"It's the original horror story and we have the space needed to pull out the bells and whistles that it needs," Maguire said. "I think it's going to be a really exciting production and I can't wait to see the bat swoop in over the audience. I think we're all in for a little romance and escapism."