Barrington Stage Company reveals first three productions of 25th anniversary season

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PITTSFIELD — A popular Stephen Sondheim musical and two world premieres — one a musical by Niko Tsakalakos; the other a play by Mark St. Germain — will be part of Barrington Stage Company's 25th anniversary season next year.

Sondheim's 1987 "Into the Woods" will join the new musical, "Fall Springs," and new play, "Gertrude and Claudius," on BSC's 2019 schedule.

Boyd announced these first three productions Friday at a gathering of BSC board members, trustees, donors, guests and members of the press at BSC's Wolfson Center on North Street.

Details about these productions — dates, BSC venues, casting — and the rest of the season are expected to be announced shortly after the first of the new year.

"This is our launch for the 25th season," Boyd said in a brief telephone interview Friday morning. "There are some ideas we have in mind."

In selecting material for a season, Boyd said that rather than work thematically, "what I usually do is choose plays I feel strongly about.

"I love these plays," she said. "Two of them — 'Fall Springs' and 'Gertrude and Claudius' — are unlike anything I've done. What I'm trying to do is offer our audience worlds they don't know."

"Fall Spring" will be directed by Stephen Brackett. It is the work of composer-lyricist Niko Tsakalakos ("Pool Boy") and Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (book and lyrics). The musical, which is being developed at BSC, is about a small cash-strapped town that is sitting on top of the country's richest reserve of cosmetic essential oils that is ready to be tapped by fracking.

"Who would have thought a musical about fracking?" Boyd asked rhetorically; describing "Fall Spring" as a kind of "Urinetown"-style send-up. "It's a quirky, fun evening that also has some things to say."

Unfolding prior to the events in Shakespeare's "Hamlet," "Gertrude and Claudius" is drawn from a novel by John Updike that views the adulterous relationship between Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, and his uncle, Claudius, as a love affair.

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"Who would have thought a play about an affair between Gertrude and Claudius?" Boyd said enthusiastically.

"Gertrude and Claudius" was commissioned by Orlando Shakespeare Theatre in Florida which will produce the world premiere in March. "We will have the play's second production," Boyd said.

St. Germain has a long history with Barrington Stage which has produced his "Ciao!" (2001); "Ears on a Beatle" (2003); "The God Committee" (2004); "The Collyer Brothers at Home"/"Period Piece" (2006); "Be More Scary" 2008), a musical for which he co-wrote the book with Kyoung-ae Kang; "Freud's Last Session" (2009); "Best of Enemies" (2011); "Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah" (2013); "Dr. Ruth, All the Way" (2012); "Dancing Lessons" (2014); and his 1995 drama "Camping With Henry and Tom" (2016).

"Into the Woods" is a Tony Award-winning collaboration between Sondheim (music and lyrics) and James Lapine (book) that takes an inventive look at a bunch of fairy tale characters — a baker and his wife; Rapunzel; Little Red Riding Hood; Jack, the giant and the beanstalk; and Cinderella, among others — as they each journey into the woods in search of happily ever after; reckoning, in the end, with the after.

Barrington Stage first produced "Into the Woods" in 2010 with its Youth Theatre.

Boyd — who has directed BSC's previous Sondheim productions "Follies" (2005); "Company" (2000 and 2017); "West Side Story" (2007 and 2018); "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (2010); and "A Little Night Music" (1998) — said she felt Joe Calarco was the perfect choice to direct the musical's first professional production.

"It is a totally gleeful show," Boyd said. "Joe has never done it. It's a perfect fit for his wild imagination."

In addition to last season's "Ragtime," Calarco's directing credits at BSC include this season's "A Doll's House Part 2" and "Breaking the Code" (2014), "Kiss Me, Kate" (2014) and "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" (2007 and -08).

Reflecting briefly on BSC's approaching 25th season, Boyd said "it often feels as if we are older, more like 50. So many theaters are failing.

"We are here," Boyd said emphatically.


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