PITTSFIELD — Barrington Stage Company is reopening its indoor Boyd-Quinson Mainstage on Union Street at 2 p.m. Nov. 1 with a film presentation of the first live performance of a brand new musical, "The Right Girl," about sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood.
This is the first presentation at the Boyd-Quinson since Gov. Charlie Baker lifted a ban on indoor performances imposed during the summer as part of his COVID-19 safety protocols.
"Now that ... Massachusetts (has) achieved a level of control over virus spread, the state has moved to Phase 3/Step 2 of reopening and we can open our beautiful indoor theater and safely gather to enjoy this great American art form as a community," Barrington Stage’s founding artistic director Julianne Boyd said Monday in a prepared statement.
In a separate email, Boyd said the rest of BSC's programming this year will be "mostly virtual."
First up is a virtual reading of Mark St. Germain's "Typhoid Mary," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31, directed by Matthew Penn, who directed the original live production in 2018 at BSC's St. Germain Stage at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center.
Boyd said in the email that Barrington Stage will host a holiday cabaret that will be filmed in the empty theater for streaming in December. Boyd is planning to mount the 10th edition of the popular 10X10 New Play Festival Feb. 11-28 on the mainstage.
Barrington Stage had planned an indoor production of David Cale's "Harry Clarke" with Mark H. Dold in August and, in preparation, undertook extensive work to bring the Boyd-Quinson well within state, local and federal COVID-19 safety guidelines. When Gov. Baker tightened those guidelines, effectively banning indoor performances, Barrington Stage moved "Harry Clarke" to an open-air tent on Linden Street, diagonally across the street from BSC’s Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center.
"The Right Girl" is directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman and includes music by 11-time Academy Award nominee and Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriter Diane Warren.
The presentation for an audience of invited industry professionals and members of the general public will be followed by a live talk back featuring Stroman and three cast members -- Alysha Umphress and Tony Yazbeck, both of whom appeared in BSC’s 2013 production of “On the Town,” and 2020 Tony Award nominee Robyn Hurder. According to BSC, the speakers will all be at least 12 feet from any audience member.
Seating capacity at the 520-seat Boyd-Quinson Mainstage has been reduced to a socially distanced 160, well below the maximum capacity of 250 permitted in Phase 3/Step 2 of Gov. Baker's COVID-19 reopening plan. In addition, every other row has been removed.
According to BSC officials, the theater’s ventilation and filtering system has new MERV-13 filters and all the theater air will be purged after each performance. Masks are required at all times for staff and audience members. The entire theater, including public areas, seats and armrests, will be sanitized using hi-tech electrostatic sprayers, disinfectant sprays and wipes.
A collaboration among Warren (music and lyrics), former screenwriter Louisette Geiss (book and lyrics), and Howard Kagan (book and lyrics), "The Right Girl" is based on the true stories of a number of women, Geiss among them, who were victims of sexual abuse and harassment while on their jobs Hollywood's entertainment industry.
Geiss’ screenwriting career ended in 2008 when she was sexually harassed. She has since become a leading activist in the campaign to bring offending men in the film and television industry to account for their actions.
“To create this musical over the last two years was cathartic," Geiss said in prepared remarks. "The creative team sat down with more than 20 of my fellow survivors, women who are victims of about a dozen different men in entertainment.
"Only portions of their stories have been recounted in the press to date, so by presenting these women’s stories in their own words in an entertaining format like musical theater, we hope they resonate with an even bigger audience and empower other survivors to speak out."
“When we wrote this story, we also wanted to explore the times when we as a society have chosen whether or not to hear these women, the role of media in that process, and how the movement these survivors started is affecting everyone," Kagan said.
"Live theater allows us to laugh, cry, and examine uncomfortable messages that are important to hear, all while managing to entertain us," Warren said. "I've always believed that anything worth saying is worth singing. Musical theater is the perfect medium to tell this story ... "
"Though the story is fictionalized, almost all of the dialogue, lyrics and situations came directly from these contributors and publicly reported stories," Kagan added. "Our goal, from day one, has been to amplify and honor these women's stories, and encourage audiences to help them change the world."
Ticket information is available at email@example.com. BSC officials said that since space is "extremely limited," reservations will be confirmed on a first-come, first-served basis.