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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Park Street Church, Boston

 Photo by J.T. Lynch

On the corner of Tremont and Park Street, the Park Street Church is a stop on Boston's Freedom Trail.  It was founded 1809.

 Photo by J.T. Lynch

Until 1846, it was the tallest building in the United States.  Its stature, however, was based on other things:  on Pastor Edward Beecher (brother to Harriet Beecher Stowe) who promoted the ideals of Abolition.  To perhaps the most noted abolitionist of his day, William Lloyd Garrison, who spoke out against slavery here.

Photo by J.T. Lynch

It was here the song "My Country 'Tis of Thee" received its first public performance in 1831. How odd, that such a place of tumultuous thought and deed could now provide a quiet corner of tranquility in this otherwise bustling city.

For more on this historic church and its still active congregation, have a look at their website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Berkshire Theatre Coming Season - Stockbridge, Massachusetts

This week, a look at the coming season at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts:


by Charles Ludlam
directed by Aaron Mark        
featuring Bill Bowers and Tom Hewitt

at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage, Stockbridge
Previews June 24-June 27
Press Opening/Opening Night: June 28
Talk Back: June 30
Closing: July 19
Tickets: Preview: $42
A: $62 B: $52 C: $42  
Two actors take on eight characters in this classic romp of a gothic spoof.

Named one of the best plays of the 20th Century by the New York Times and Time Magazine, Aaron Mark directs Charles Ludlam's campy comedy which tells the pell-mell tale of Lady Enid and Lord Edgar who arrive one stormy night at a haunted and dreary estate to investigate the sudden disappearance of Irma Vep. Sidesplitting antics and mysteries unfold as the two journey from the London manor to the ancient pyramids in Egypt with vampires, werewolves, mummies and more in tow in this satire of Victorian melodrama, Gothic horror and classic films.
music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by Hugh Wheeler
orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick
suggested by a film by Ingmar Bergman
originally produced and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince
directed by Ethan Heard
music direction by Nathan Dame
choreography by Sam Pinkleton
featuring Kate Baldwin, Gregg Edelman, Penny Fuller, Maureen O'Flynn, and Graham Rowat

at The Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
Previews June 30-July 4
Press Opening/Opening Night: July 5 at 8pm
Talk Back: July 7
Closing: July 19
Tickets: Preview: $50
Tickets: A: $65 B: $45 C: $25
Sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union
Stephen Sondheim beloved and award-winning musical, A Little Night Music explores the witty and farcical tale of unexpected liaisons, relentless desire, and ill-fated heartbreak in the life of acclaimed actress, Desiree Armfeldt. One eventful weekend, Desiree, her former beau and his wife, and Desiree's current lover and his wife all arrive at a Swedish country estate. Long-held passions are soon rekindled in this classic waltz of a musical directed by Ethan Heard (who also directed BTG's 2013 hit murder mystery, The Cat and The Canary)Featuring Sondheim's notable show tune, "Send in the Clowns,” A Little Night Music celebrates love and all the foolhardy particulars it entails.
by Michael Frayn
directed by Eric Hill
featuring David Adkins, Corinna May, Barbara Sims, and Walton Wilson 
at The Unicorn Theatre, Stockbridge
The Larry Vaber Stage
Previews July 9-July 11
Press Opening/Opening Night: July 12 at 8pm
Talk Back: July 14
Closing: July 26
Tickets: Preview: $42; A: $48

Directed by Eric Hill, the acrimonious give and take of life sets up the premise for Michael Frayn's (Noises Off and Copenhagen) Tony Award-nominated Benefactors.

In 1960s London, visionary architect David struggles to follow his dream of transforming the slums at Basuto Road into affordable mass-housing projects as his firm pressures him to design McMansion-style apartments instead. He and his wife, Jane are also trying to salvage the troubled marriage of their neighbors Colin a former journalist and Shelia, a hopeless romantic and retired nurse.

Skillfully examining the fragility of human relationships, Benefactors sketches an intricate portrait of 1960s idealism and the toll political and psychological sacrifice has on hope, friendship, and love. 
by Erik Tarloff
directed by Keira Naughton
featuring James Naughton

at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage, Stockbridge
Previews July 23-July 25
Press Opening/Opening Night: July 26 at 8pm
Talk Back: July 28
Closing: August 9
Tickets: Preview: $42
A: $62 B: $52 C: $42
Sponsored by Natalie and Howard Shawn

Keira Naughton directs the world premiere of  a one-man play, Cedars, a raw and witty exploration of an estranged father-son relationship. Gabe, a 50-ish defense lawyer, finds himself on the more unfortunate side of life and now, by his father's bedside at Cedars Hospital. His many troubles, some self-induced and others thrust upon him, are quickly revealed as he bares all in unbridled, cathartic conversations with his non-responsive father.

A broken marriage, past heartbreak, a dwindling career, family struggles, new relationships, and a slew of mid-life crises take center stage as Gabe tries to find solid ground amid the mess of his world.
by Nöel Coward
directed by Tom Story
featuring Christopher Geary, Tom Pecinka, and Ariana Venturi
at The Unicorn Theatre, Stockbridge
The Larry Vaber Stage
Previews July 30-August 1
Press Opening/Opening Night: August 2 at 8pm
Talk Back: August 4
Closing: August 16
Tickets: Preview: $42
A: $48

Lovers and friends, friends and lovers, what's the difference when it comes to interior designer Gilda, playwright Leo, and artist Otto? That's the same question they ask themselves in Nöel Coward's ultra-sophisticated romantic comedy.
Design for Living, directed by Tom Story who began his acting career on BTF's Unicorn Stage, now makes his directorial debut on the same stage.

Set in the carefree 1930s, the freewheeling, amoral, modish trio of characters all fall in and out of love with each other and with others while their mutual friend, Ernest tries to be the moral voice of reason. Themes of self-destruction, celebrity, success and outcomes of romantic machinations are explored through this wicked ménage à trois.  
by Michael V. Gazzo
directed by Greg Naughton

at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage, Stockbridge
Previews August 13-August 15
Press Night/Opening Night August 16
Talk Back: July 28
Closing: August 30
Tickets: Preview: $42;
A: $62 B: $52 C: $42

The war fought abroad is just as devastating as the war fought within. This rings devastatingly true for Johnny Pope, a Korean War Veteran who has safely returned home to New York City and now struggles with drug addiction after being heavily medicated during his hospital stay. Greg Naughton, founded and served as Artistic Director of Off-Broadway's Blue Light Theater Company in NYC for six award-winning seasons. He is also James Naughton's son and is making his BTG directorial debut with A Hatful of Rain. He performed at The Colonial Theatre last year with his band, The Sweet Remains.

In A Hatful of Rain, Johnny's battle strangles his daily life and slowly deteriorates the relationship between him and his family as he attempts to hide and support his habit. His brother, Polo tries to help but there's only so much he can do. His pregnant wife, Celia is convinced he's having an affair and tries to hold their faltering marriage together while their father's visit only adds to the tumultuous downturn of Johnny's life. Gazzo's raw, insightful and carefully crafted storytelling depict the demise of an embattled soul and raises social consciousness on issues regarding addiction and the cost of war for our veterans.
music by Stephen Flaherty
lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
co-conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Eric Idle
based on the works of Dr. Seuss
directed by Travis G. Daly
music direction by Mark Gionfriddo
choreography by Kathy Jo Grover

9th Annual Children's Theatre Production
at The Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
Opens August 7; Closes August 17
Special Note: As a community production, there is no press night for Seussical
Tickets: Adult A: $30, Child A: $20, Adult B: $25, Child B: $15
Sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union

Seussical is an unforgettable tale of friendship, love, family, and community, The Cat in the Hat narrates a whimsical story of Horton the Elephant who must guard a lonely abandoned egg and protect the Whos from all danger! With flying stunts by the actors, unforgettably fun songs and dance, the musical dives into a fantastic and incredible crazy-quilt adventure exploring the wonderful power of imagination, determination and positive thinking!
A Lover's Tale: Scenes by Giuseppe Verdi, Charles Ludlam and Alexandre Dumas
The Lady of the Camellias by
Alexandre Dumas
Camille by Charles Ludlam
La Traviata by Giuseppe Verde
directed by Dustin Wills
operatic direction by Carlos Conde

at The Unicorn Theatre, Stockbridge
The Larry Vaber Stage
Opens August 23; Closes August 30
Tickets: $30
For one week at The Unicorn Theatre, opera's rising stars perform scenes from the original title piece, Alexandre Dumas' novel The Lady of the Camellias, Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata which was adapted by Dumas' novel, and Charles Ludlam's parody of the novel, Camille. 
For more info, have a look at the Berkshire Theatre Group website here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Merrimack Repertory Theatre Upcoming Season - Lowell, Mass.

This week, another New England theater announces its upcoming season: The Merrimack Repertory of Lowell, Massachusetts:


Seven regional premieres that reflect the

contemporary American human experience.

Lowell, MA - Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has announced its 2014-2015 Season. The slate of seven plays continues the company's commitment to advancing the cause of the human understanding by creating theatrical productions at the highest level of artistic excellence, as well as its tradition of introducing new works to the area. Each of the plays selected for the upcoming season, the company's 36th, will be a regional or world premiere. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is the only professional theatre in the Merrimack Valley area and continues to serve as a vital cultural, educational, and economic resource for Greater Lowell and its surrounding region.

The announcement was made by Artistic Director Charles Towers and Executive Director Elizabeth Kegley at an event for subscribers in Nancy L. Donahue Theatre in Lowell's Liberty Hall on Monday, March 31. Towers, who has served as MRT's artistic director since 2001, says, "When selecting a season, I am reminded of a principle attributed to Socrates - 'an unexamined life is not worth living.' Thus, our job in the theatre is to fully examine the lives of characters as created by a playwright, thereby giving the audience an opportunity to examine their own lives as reflected against the uniqueness of a fictional other."


The 2014-2015 Season at Merrimack Repertory Theatre embodies that principle, presenting characters and families whose relationships, struggles, and joys will be familiar to MRT audiences, with an ultimate goal of that familiarity leading to a deeper understanding of our own lives and compassion for others.


By Michael Golamco

Directed by Kyle Fabel

September 11 - October 5, 2014

Sponsored by Enterprise Bank

All teenagers need someone to talk to. Vuthy has chosen a skull. He is a young Cambodian-American struggling to find his place - in a community that doesn't truly accept him and in a family that seems to be disappearing. A comedic drama about finding a direction and a home.


According to Charles Towers, "Year Zero is an appealing story about all our pasts; all of us, who are descendents of immigrants, no matter when they came to American or what country they came from. Still, the specific ethnicity of this particular story makes it especially important to be produced in the city that has the second largest Cambodian-American population in the country." 

The play also presents a unique opportunity for MRT to reach out into the large Cambodian-American community of Lowell. MRT has already begun forming an advisory committee with members of the Cambodian community that will provide cultural perspective for the production.


By Stephen Belber

Directed by Michael Bloom

October 23 - November 16, 2014

Molly and Ray unexpectedly meet 25 years after their teenage romance. Though their kiss has had a lasting effect on both of them, the memory of their youthful fling is overshadowed by tragic revelations about what has happened in the intervening years.


This production will mark the MRT debut of Michael Bloom, who is an Obie Award-winning director who spent the past nine years as artistic director of the Cleveland Play House. Charles Towers responded to the play immediately, "One thing (among many) I like about this play is that it breaks the conventions of most two-person plays in unique ways." The bittersweet play premiered at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York in 2010.


Book, Music and Lyrics by Barry Kleinbort

Based on a play by Jeffrey Hatcher

Directed by Barry Kleinbort

November 28 - December 21, 2014

Sponsored by Wannalancit Mills/Farley White Interests

Virginia Carpolotti is a devoted widow with loving memories for her recently-deceased husband. Though her love endures, her confidence in him flounders as one shady character after another comes calling for the debt that Ed put in her name, and things really heat up when a mysterious $1 million ransom note appears. A delightful comic musical featuring Tony Award-nominee Penny Fuller.

"I directed Penny Fuller in MRT's production of A Delicate Balance in 2008, in which she gave a brilliant performance," says Towers. "When she sent me this delightful one-woman chamber musical, which was written especially for her, I immediately decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Penny is a Tony-nominated actor and this is a rare opportunity to have her on our stage."


By Daniel MacIvor

Directed by Charles Towers

January 8 - February 1, 2015

When Kyle and Hamilton Best's mother dies in a bizarre accident involving a Filipino drag queen, the two brothers try to find common ground - often failing with hilarious results. They bicker over the details of the obituary, Kyle's unfortunate taste in men, and whom Mom loved best - only to find it may very well have been the dog.


Playwright Daniel MacIvor has long been considered a Canadian theatre icon and his most recent play, The Best Brothers, further cements that reputation. The comedy was celebrated at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2012 and later went on to a successful run at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre. Towers remarks, "I read this play one morning and sought to get the rights to it that afternoon. It is rare when I laugh out loud reading a play in my living room, so I pay attention when that happens."


By Nick Gandiello

Directed by Melia Bensussen

February 12 - March 8, 2015

World Premiere

Gwen thought she had successfully walked away from her troubled past. But then her ex-husband returns with news of their grown daughter's disappearance and with him come the demons that she sought to erase from her idyllic new life. A powerful new drama that explores complex family dynamics.


"Director Melia Bensussen (who directed The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead and Two Jews Walk into a War at MRT) is one of my closest collaborators. She sent me this play by an up-and-coming young playwright who is unsparing in looking at the real drama of troubled lives. I responded immediately to the family situation and to the central question at the heart of the play: can people really change?" says Towers.


By Leslie Ayvazian

Directed by Christian Parker

March 19 - April 12, 2015

When two middle-aged married couples take a weekend trip to celebrate a milestone birthday, they find themselves pondering elusive romance and contemplating what comes next. This unorthodox love story proves that rejuvenation can be found at any age.


Leslie Ayvazian was loosely inspired by the characters in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream when writing Out of the City. Though there are few direct parallels between the plays, the underlying spirit of the Bard's play remains. As Charles Towers notes, "The countryside does strange things to lovers of any age, and this wry comedy never fails to surprise and delight."


By Bruce Graham

Directed by Charles Towers

April 23 - May 17, 2015

Sponsored by Circle Health

Tormented by the menacing grip of an aging mind and an uncertain future ahead, one man has a plan - but it is not what his family had in mind. A touching family drama sprinkled with surprising humor that asks what it means to truly love someone.

Playwright Bruce Graham and Charles Towers as director last partnered on Stella and Lou, which was very well-received by MRT audiences in December 2013. Towers remarks, "While The Outgoing Tide still reflects Bruce's unique blend of humor and pathos, the story couldn't be more different from Stella and Lou. The twists, the turns, the deeply recognizable family relationships and, of course, the humor, all combine to carry us to a place where dignity, honesty and humanity take hold and refuse to let go."


Subscriptions are now available through the MRT Box Office for the 2014-2015 Season. Subscribers to a seven-play packages receive a 20% discount off single ticket prices and guaranteed same seats throughout the season. Seven-play subscriptions start at just $140 for adults and $126 for seniors. Three-play sampler packages are also available, with a 15% savings off single ticket prices. FlexPass packages are available in increments of 4, 5, 6, or 7 and allow the ultimate in flexibility while still receiving a discount. All subscribers are entitled to the full slate of benefits that includes free even exchanges, and discounts on additional tickets and Young Company tuition. A full list of benefits can be found at

Subscriptions can be purchased by calling
978-654-4678 or by visiting Tickets for individual productions go on sale in August.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre

(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)

50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852

Box Office: 978-654-4678  


Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Here's the latest from Ocean State Theatre Company:

WARWICK, RI – Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC) is thrilled to announce that its second full season in their new state-of-the-art theatre located at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick, will open with Lerner and Loewe’s stunning Broadway classic, My Fair Lady.

“Celebrating the great American musical is part of our mission statement and American Musicals don’t get much better than the stunning My Fair Lady,” said Amiee Turner, Producing Artistic Director. “This also gives us an opportunity to sort of “throw back” to some of the wonderful memories people have of seeing musicals at the Warwick Tent back in the day!”

Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s 1914 play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower peddler who agrees to take speech lessons from the opinionated linguistics professor Henry Higgins in order to fulfill her dream of working in a flower shop. Eliza succeeds so well, however, that she outgrows her social station and even manages to get Higgins to fall in love with her. The original production ran for nearly seven years on Broadway, which made it the longest running show of its time. This timeless classic features an unforgettable score including such songs as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “The Rain in Spain,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” and “I Could Have Dance All Night.” 

My Fair Lady, will be presented from September 24 - October 12, 2014.

The season continues on October 29 with the intense and gripping thriller, Dial M for Murder. Tony Wendice has married his wife, Margot, for her money and now plans to murder her for the same reason. He arranges the perfect murder. He blackmails a scoundrel he used to know, into strangling her for a fee and arranges a brilliant alibi for himself. Unfortunately… the murderer gets murdered and the victim survives. But this doesn't stop the husband. He sees his hireling's death as an opportunity to have his wife convicted for the murder of the man who tried to murder her! With a killer dead and a victim in jail, will the police inspector discover the truth? Will the husband be revealed? This murder thriller will keep you spellbound with suspense!

Dial M for Murder will be presented from October 29 – November 16, 2014.

In late January, OSTC will present the New England premiere of Jeff Stetson’s fascinating and dramatically compelling play, The Meeting. This eloquent play depicts the imagined meeting of two of the most significant men of modern times: Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Differing in their philosophies, but alike in their desire for equality, the two men debate their conflicting approaches to the same grave social problems. Both understand they may have to give their life for their beliefs, but neither is aware of how soon their assassins' bullets would await them. In time to celebrate Black History Month, this thought provoking play takes an intimate look at two larger than life figures.

The Meeting will be presented from January 28 - February 15, 2015.

Named one of Time Magazine's 10 best shows of 2001, Jason Robert Brown’s Drama Desk winner The Last Five Years, is a contemporary song-cycle musical, which ingeniously chronicles the five year life of a relationship, from meeting to break-up... and from break-up to meeting… all at the same time! A frequently humorous, often romantic, and intensely personal look at the relationship between a writer and an actress told from both points of view - his going forwards and hers going backwards. This intimate musical has received raves from critics and fans alike with songs that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.  

The Last Five Years will be presented from February 25 – March 15, 2015.

Lend Me A Tenor takes place at the Cleveland Grand Opera Company's gala season-opener of Otello, which is to be performed by world-famous tenor Tito Morelli, in the hopes that this will put Cleveland on the operatic map. Morelli is late, unable to rehearse with the company, and through a hilarious series of mishaps, is given a double dose of tranquilizers, which mix with the alcohol he has consumed, and he passes out. The company believes him to be dead and doesn't know what to do. Luckily an aspiring singer is convinced to don the Otello costume and try to fool the audience into thinking he's really Morelli. Now there are two Otellos running around! Lend Me A Tenor is non-stop laughter and door-slamming hilarity, which guarantees to leave the audience in stitches.

Lend Me a Tenor will be presented from April 1 – 19, 2015.

Rounding out the season is one of Stephen Sondheim’s most popular Tony® Award-winning musicals, Into the Woods, which brings together everyone’s favorite storybook characters for a timeless, grown-up musical. This epic fairytale follows a Baker and his wife who wish to have a child, Cinderella who wishes to attend the King's Festival, and Jack who wishes his cow would give milk. When the Baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child, because of a Witch's curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone's wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later. From storybook to stage to screen to OST, this is Sondheim at his most charming.

Into the Woods will be presented from April 29 – May 17, 2015.

“Of course, we will also continue with our Family Fun Fest and our Piano Bar Series and will be announcing a delightful family musical for the holidays within the next few months,” said Ms. Turner.

Previews for all productions are scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30pm and Thursday at 2:00 and 7:30pm. Opening weekend performances will be held on Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:00. All other performances will be held Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30pm, as well as select Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. The theatre is located at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI. Preview performances will be $30.00 for plays and $39 for musicals. All other performances will be $34.00 - $49.00 for plays and $39.00 - $54.00 for musicals. Discount rates for groups of 20 or more will also be available.

Subscriptions for the 2014-15 Season are now available. For the coming season, subscribers can enjoy discounted rates with several different subscription options:

The Preview and Premiere Subscriptions allow subscribers to choose from the best seats in the house before they go on sale to the public, secure the same choice seats for each show, save over single ticket pricing, renew the same seats annually and exchange seats up to 24 hours in advance for a small fee. 6-Show, 3-Play and 3-Musical subscriptions range in price from $99 - $250.

The Flexible Passport and Pick-4 Combo provide the ultimate in flexibility by either including six “seats” which can be used in any combination or choosing specific seats for any four productions. The choice is yours! The Flexible Passport and Pick-4 Combo allows patrons to enjoy most subscriber benefits, choose from the best seats in the house before they go on sale to the public, and save over single ticket prices.


Season ticket subscriptions are available for purchase at the box office Monday through Friday 12:00 noon – 6:00 pm and Saturday from 12:00 noon – 4:00 pm. (The box office is also open until curtain time on performance days.) Tickets are available online anytime at and via telephone during normal box office hours by calling (401) 921-6800.

Single tickets for the 2014-15 Season will go on sale to the public beginning July 7, 2014.

Now Available