Berkshire Theatre Group announces new schedule of events

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PITTSFIELD >> Arlo Guthrie, 1950s folk icon The Kingston Trio, Grammy-winning rock band America, Lenox native and "American Idol" contestant Katherine Winston and two world premieres in the Unicorn Theatre highlight a newly announced schedule of music, laughter and food for thought at Berkshire Theatre Group's Colonial Theatre and The Garage, both in Pittsfield, and, in Stockbridge, the Unicorn Theatre.

The new block of events is in addition to a series of programs announced in mid-February, including Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster, comedian Robert Klein, BoDeans, and stage productions "Bells Are Ringing," "Mary Poppins," "Deathtrap" and "Frankie & Johnny in the Clair du Lune."

Guthrie will bring his Alice's Restaurant 50th anniversary tour to the Colonial Theatre on Oct. 11. The popular late 1950s-early '60s folk group, The Kingston Trio — whose hits included "Tom Dooley" and "The Ballad of Charlie and the MTA" — are scheduled to play the Colonial on May 15.

Grammy winners America, which marked its 40th anniversary in 2010, comes to the Colonial on May 28. The late '60s rock band dominated the pop music scene with "A Horse With No Name," 'Ventura Highway" and "Sister Golden Hair" among a number of other hits.

Lenox singer-songwriter, Winston — an "American Idol" contestant until she was eliminated two weeks ago — has been performing throughout the Northeast and Nashville, Tenn. She brings her repertoire of country, folk, blues and pop to The Garage at the Colonial on April 18.

Among other newly scheduled events are performances by "Last Comedian Standing" comic Ralphie May (Colonial, April 25); mixed media comedian McQueen (Colonial, June 6); and pianist/composer Robin Spielberg launching a new series, "On the Stage," on Nov. 15.

Also on tap is a series of community events, including Made in the Berkshires, Pittsfield City Jazz, Metamorphosis: Evolution of Music from the producers of Romance, Soul and Rock & Roll, and the second annual Encore! An Evening to Celebrate High School Musicals.

The idea, BTG programmer Simon Shaw said by telephone from the Colonial Theatre, is "to bring artists to our stage who will appeal to our audience and make them happy." Critical to the programming mix is booking "fresh voices who can bring new, younger audiences to our stage," Shaw said, citing as an example mixed media comedian and satirist McQueen, a Pittsfield native who has toured with the band Radiohead.

Shaw also said the new On the Stage series, launching with pianist/composer Robin Spielberg in November, will give audiences a "different and meaningful experience" of the Colonial. Audiences will be seated on the stage facing the auditorium. "Having the audience face the theater while being entertained will give concert goers a chance to engage and connect with the beauty of this theater in a very different way."

BTG's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge will present two world premieres this summer — one of them a collaboration with a new theater company — and, in October, a production of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming" (Oct.1-25; press opening, Oct. 3) directed by Eric Hill and featuring award-winning actor Rocco Sisto and BTG veteran and Berkshires native Tara Franklin.

Hill also will direct the world premiere of a play written by and starring David Adkins, beginning June 18 and running through July 11 (press opening, June 20). The play, "Thoreau or, Return to Walden," centers around New England poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau's reflections about life. Adkins, a longtime BTG veteran who appeared in last season's Unicorn productions of "Benefactors" and "Poe," both directed by Hill, brought a draft of his manuscript to BTG CEO and artistic producer Kate Maguire last fall.

"After our production of 'Poe'," Maguire said by telephone from her office at the Colonial, "I began thinking a lot about developing an 'Americans' series — plays about distinctive American personalities; plays that consider the way we write and think as Americans; that examine fundamental questions about what it means to be American. I'm proud to present this work."

In July, the Unicorn will host the world premiere of screenwriter and playwright Suzanne Heathcoate's "I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile" (July 15-Aug. 15; press opening, July 18), directed by Jackson Gay in his BTG debut, and starring another BTG veteran, Keira Naughton as a woman who reluctantly takes under her wing her niece, a clever, if troubled, teenager. The production is a collaboration with New Neighborhood, a theater artists collaborative founded this year that has its roots in the 2014 Yale Rep production of "These Paper Bullets!" which Maguire had seen in New Haven, Conn.

Maguire said Naughton contacted her "out of the blue" regarding the possibility of a collaboration between BTG and New Neighborhood, with which Naughton and several other Yale School of Drama graduates are involved. Maguire said she jumped at the opportunity. "We have a long association with Yale, many of whose graduates, including Keira and James Barry, have worked with us. I am very excited to bring this play here."

The summer portion of the Unicorn season opens May 22-24 with "Masha's Seagull," written by Classic Edge Theatre artistic director Justin Scheuer, directed by Hill; and ends Aug. 27-29 with "Searching for the Moon: A Heroine's Journey — Tales of Love, Despair, Faith and Forgiveness," written by and starring Amber Chand and directed by Jayne Atkinson. The play is drawn from Chand's experiences as a Ugandan-born woman of Indian descent.

"I see the Unicorn space as remarkable," Maguire said, " a place for challenging, often remarkable work; a place for emerging new ideas."

"Through the Looking Glass — Musings From the Pens of Berkshire Women Writers": 3 p.m. March 22. Unicorn

BoDeans: 7:30 p.m. April 16. The Colonial

Katherine Winston: 8 p.m. April 18. The Garage

Ralphie May: 8 p.m. April 25. The Colonial

"Encore! An Evening to Celebrate High School Musicals": 7 p.m. May 2. The Colonial

The Kingston Trio: 7 p.m. May 15. The Colonial

"Masha's Seagull": May 22-24. Unicorn

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America: 7:30 p.m. May 28. The Colonial

McQueen: 8 p.m. June 6. The Colonial

"Thoreau or, Return to Walden": June 18-July 11. Unicorn

"Deathtrap": July 1-25. Fitzpatrick Main Stage

"Bells Are Ringing": July 9-26. The Colonial

"I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn't Even Smile": July 15-Aug. 15. Unicorn

"Frankie and Johnny in the Clair du Lune": July 29-Aug. 23. Fitzpatrick Main Stage

Robert Klein: 8 p.m. Aug. 1. The Colonial

"The Homecoming": Oct. 1-25. Unicorn

Metamorphosis in "Evolution of Music": 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9, 10. The Colonial

Arlo Guthrie — Alice's Restaurant 50th Annivesary Tour: 7 p.m. Oct. 11. The Colonial

Annual Pittsfield CityJazz Festival — Greg Hopkins Jazz Orchestra with guest soloist Randy Brecker, trumpet: 8 p.m. Oct. 17. The Colonial

Made in the Berkshires Festival: Oct. 23-25. The Colonial, The Garage, Unicorn

Natalie MacMaster Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond — A Celtic Family Celebration: 8 p.m. Nov. 7. The Colonial

On the Stage Series — Robin Spielberg: 2 p.m. Nov. 15. The Colonial

Venues:

• The Colonial Theatre: 111 South St., Pittsfield

• The Garage: 111 South St., Pittsfield

• The Unicorn, 6 East St., Stockbridge

• Fitzpatrick Main Stage, 84 E. Main St., Stockbridge

Tickets:

Seats for all events are now on sale. Summer season pass packages range in price from $100 to $175.

Ticket purchases and complete information available by phone at 413-997-4444; online at BerkshireTheatreGroup.org, or in person at Colonial box office, 111 South St., Pittsfield.


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