Shrek, Shakespeare highlight arts-focused Third Thursday in Pittsfield

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Photo Gallery | PHOTOS: July 2015 Third Thursday

PITTSFIELD — What's green, ornery and can sing?

"Shrek — The Musical!"

The latest production from the Youth Theatre troupe at Barrington Stage Company was among the highlights of Third Thursday where #ArtsMatter was the theme of the monthly downtown block party.

The 14-member cast gave a sneak preview of the show with a brief performance at Persip Park, Third Thursday's new main stage this year. The show opens next Thursday for a three-week run at the Berkshire Museum on South Street, based on the Dreamworks animated movie, according to Youth Theatre Director/Choreographer Christine O'Grady.

"People will recognize favorite lines and characters from the film, just not word for word," she said.

The musical is more of a back story, according Pittsfield's Austin Lombardi, who plays the lovable ogre.

"The show gives more of a history of how [Shrek] grew up and why he is the way he is," said the 20-year-old actor.

The second season of Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park also debuted on Thursday night at The Common on First Street. This year's selection, "Romeo and Juliet," opened to an attentive crowd, which gathered at the park's new pavilion, the backdrop for the tragic love story.

The production runs through Sunday; July 23 to 26, and July 30 to Aug. 2, with all performances beginning at 8 p.m. Shows are free of charge.

Dance, music, visual arts, along with theater, dominated the Third Thursday landscape on North Street, from Park Square to the Linden Street/Maplewood Avenue intersection — devoid of vehicular traffic as usual to make the event pedestrian-friendly.

On the front lawn of St. Joseph Church, five youngsters and their instructor, Andres Ramirez from Funk Box Studio in Pittsfield, demonstrated their break dance moves to the music of disc jockey BFG.

"Break dancing is very underground, but still huge," Ramirez said. "It's a culture of teaching our kids respect for yourself and others."

New York City-based Timbila was the featured band at Persip Park, with its music rooted in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the East Village of Manhattan. The year's first three Third Thursdays have also included the Crowne Plaza sponsoring a band performing on a temporary stage set up on the South Street side of the hotel.

Despite being outside the North Street venue, the sidewalk shows have been well attended, according to Mike Mongeon, executive chef at One West, the hotel's signature restaurant.

"People are enjoying our food and drinks," he said. "We're seeing a very good business that caters to more of an adult crowd."

On the visual arts scene, Community Access to the Arts annual show, "I am A Part of Art," continued an exhibit at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Renne Avenue. For painting novices, Berkshire Paint and Sip on North Street hosted a demonstration for those learning how to paint as they savor a favorite alcoholic beverage.

Owner and professional artist Michelle Iglesias had four women eager to try their hand at turning a white canvas into a beautiful scene of flowers in a field.

One of them, Roseann Aversa, of Great Barrington, admitted she had zero painting skills.

"I do know how to hold a brush," she said.

For many paint and sip participants, learning how to paint is usually secondary, according to Iglesias.

"Typically, most of my clients are women who do it for the social experience — it's all about having fun," she said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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