Out of Town
Staying In Pittsfield: Once Pours Out It’s Heart
I first saw Once, music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, book by Enda Walsh, Off Broadway at The New York Theatre Workshop. I saw it again when it transfered to Broadway and again before voting. When scheduling my trip to Pittsfield, I was offered Ain’t Misbehavin at Barrington Stage and Once by the Berkshire Theatre Group at the Colonial Theatre. I choose the later as I had never been to the the Colonial Theatre and what a treat.
This 2012 Tony award winning musical, is based on based on the 2007 film of the same name and the song “Falling Slowly” won the Academy Award. The musical won Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Book. The musical also won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
From the moment you enter the theater, you are treated to the cast members singing on the stage, offering Irish standards and drinking songs. A bar is set up inside the theater selling Guinness and Irish coffee as the play waits to begin.
The plot concerns a thirty-something Dublin busker (identified only as “Guy”) who is giving up on his music because the memories of his defunct relationship are too painful. That is until a a young Czech woman (identified only as “Girl”), approaches. He now works as a vacuum cleaner repairman in his father’s shop. The girl responds that she has a vacuum that “does not suck”, and asks him to fix it. She offers to pay for the repair by playing piano for him. She snatches the sheet music for a new song from his jacket. The Academy Award winning “Falling Slowly”). Guy fixes the vacuum, Girl becomes acquainted with his father. They are clearly attracted to each other, but circumstances make this impossible. They start to write, rehearse and record songs together. Girl introduces Guy to her family, including her young daughter, Ivanka. She arranges a meeting with a banker to persuade the bank manager to approve a loan — which would enable Guy to take his music to New York. The banker is impressed with his talent, approves the loan, and adds that he can play guitar as well. Guy tells Girl that she has convinced him that his musical career is worth pursuing. One of the musicians Billy gets into an argument with the bank manager. In the meantime the girl in Czech, tells the guy she loves him, when he asks her to translate, she replies, “It looks like rain”. Guy has fallen in love with the girl.
The band records a demo for a major record label and receive praise for their performance. When the band takes a break the girl remains at the piano. Thinking she is alone, plays one of her own compositions that reveals the depth of her feelings. Guy, hears and ask the girl and her child to move to New York with him. Girl tells him her husband is trying to reconcile with her. Guy plays the demo for his father. Impressed and moved, he gives Guy money to help him get settled in New York. Guy’s ex whose leaving started the whole episode wants him back. A few days later girl comes home to find a piano with a bright red bow on it — a gift from Guy.
Taking the leads are David Toole (Guy) and Andrea Gross (Gal). Supporting them are Pearl Rhein (Reza), Adam Huel Potter (Billy) and as Guy’s father, Kurt Zischke. All give standout performances.
My only critique is the accents go in and out and are not accurate.
The thirteen member cast is terrific in their musicality, dancing and performing. They all play multiple instruments throughout the production. Andy Taylor, the company’s musical director is also in the show and you would never know it.
Broadway actor turned director Gregg Edelman, gives this production an A+ treatment.
The set by Josafath Reynoso and lighting by Matthew E. Adelson are Broadway quality.
Once is a delight and the Berkshire Theatre Group is to be commended.
Once: The Berkshire Theatre Group’s Pittsfield The Colonial Theatre until July 16th.
Florence Welch, Martyna Majok, Rachel Chavkin and More On New Musical Gatsby Coming To A.R.T
Florence Welch Photo by De Wilde
Producers Amanda Ghost and Len Blavatnik for Unigram/Access Entertainment, Jordan Roth, and American Repertory Theater(A.R.T.) at Harvard University announced today that Gatsby, a brand-new musical stage adaptation of the legendary F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, will make its highly anticipated World Premiere at A.R.T. in 2024, and will be directed by Tony Award® winner Rachel Chavkin and choreographed by Tony Award winner Sonya Tayeh.
Gatsby will feature music by Florence Welch, the Grammy Award-nominated international rock star of Florence + the Machine and Thomas Bartlett, the Oscar and Grammy Award nominee, with lyrics by Ms. Welch, and a book by Pulitzer Prize® winner Martyna Majok.
Gatsby will be produced at American Repertory Theater by special arrangement with Amanda Ghost and Len Blavatnik for Unigram/Access Entertainment, and Jordan Roth, in association with Robert Fox. Hannah Giannoulis serves as co-producer.
American Repertory Theater (Diane Paulus, Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director; Kelvin Dinkins, Jr., Executive Director) at Harvard University produces groundbreaking work to catalyze dialogue and transformation. Tony Award-winning and nominated productions include Jagged Little Pill; Waitress; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; All the Way; The Glass Menagerie; Pippin; Once; and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Its revival of 1776, a co-production with Roundabout Theatre Company, is currently touring nationally. Learn more at AmericanRepertoryTheater.org.
Additional Gatsby news will be announced soon.
Reading For Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen and Ann McNamee New Musical Other World
Other World, a new musical with an original score and story by Tony Award Nominee Hunter Bell (book), Obie Award winner Jeff Bowen (music and lyrics), and singer-songwriter and author Ann McNamee(music and lyrics) will present invite-only staged readings on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17 at Open Jar Studios in New York City. With direction by Jenn Rapp (The Illusionists Director/Choreographer) and choreography by Karla Puno Garcia (Tick, Tick … BOOM! film, Kennedy Center Honors), Other World is being developed in creative consultation with the five-time Academy Award winning WĒTĀ Workshop (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies).
One moment Sri and Lorraine are in a garage on Earth. The next, they’re unexpectedly transported into Sri’s favorite video game, Other World. Now trapped in the game and in a race against the clock, this unlikely pair must work together, discover their inner strengths, and connect with gifted gamers and astonishing avatars in order to survive and find a way home. With art direction provided by Academy Award–winning Wētā Workshop (The Lord of the Rings, Avatar), this heartfelt, humorous musical explores the connections we make on- and off-line, while celebrating the families and friendships we need to thrive in any world. Join us for this spectacular, original, otherwordly adventure. Your journey begins…now!
The cast features Micah Beauvais (Sri), Bella Coppola (Lorraine), Ryan Andes (Roman/Antagon), Madeleine Doherty (Myra), Kaden Kearney (Tris), Brandi Porter (Temula), Mikaela Secada (Jamie), with Sojouner Brown, Elena Camp, Sommer Carbuccia, Laura Dadap, Seth Rettberg, Sherisse Springer, Blake Stadnik, Levin Valayil, and Jason Williams.
The creative team for the developmental presentation also features music direction by Amanda Morton (KPOP), casting by Paul Hardt Casting (Once Upon A One More Time), video design by Khristian Bork (Coco live at the Hollywood Bowl, Danny Elfman – Coachella), sound design by Hidenori Nakajo (Octet), and general management by Alchemy Production Group (The Music Man, Come From Away). The Executive Producer is Lauren Tucker/Alchemy Production Group.
For more information about the show, visit https://otherworldmusical.com/
Hunter Bell (Book) earned an OBIE Award, a Drama League nomination, a GLAAD Media nomination, and a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical, all for the original Broadway musical [title of show]. Other credits include the books for Silence! The Musical (Lucille Lortel Nomination, Outstanding Musical), Now. Here. This. (Vineyard Theatre), Bellobration! (Ringling Bros. Circus), Villains Tonight! (Disney Cruise Lines), Found (Atlantic Theater, Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Book of a Musical), and Julie Andrews’ The Great American Mousical (Goodspeed). He is a co-creator of the web series “the [title of show] show” and has developed television with ABC Studios/ABC Television. Hunter is a proud graduate and distinguished alumnus of Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts, a member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild, a MacDowell Fellow, and currently serves on the board of the Educational Theatre Association and Educational Theatre Foundation, national arts advocacy organizations representing theatre teachers and students.
Jeff Bowen (Music and Lyrics) wrote the music and lyrics for and starred in the Broadway musical [title of show] (OBIE Award) and Now. Here. This. Additionally, he has written music and lyrics for Now. Here. This. (Vineyard Theatre), Villains Tonight! (Walt Disney Company), and the theme songs for the web series “the [title of show] show” and “Squad ’85.” His songs can be heard on the original cast albums of [title of show], Now. Here. This., as well as Broadway Bares Openingsand Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project. He is a proud member of ASCAP, AEA, Writers Guild, Dramatists Guild, and the National Audubon Society. He serves as a faculty member of the National Theatre Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center.
Ann McNamee(Music and Lyrics) received a B.A. from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Music Theory from Yale University, leading to a twenty-year career in teaching, choral conducting, and music research at Swarthmore College. After retiring as Professor Emerita, Ann composed for, sang, played keys, and toured with the Flying Other Brothers and Moonalice, both bands led by her husband Roger McNamee. She composed the majority of the songs on the Moonalice album that was part of T Bone Burnett’s nomination for Producer of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards. For the Lilith Fair tour in 2010, she fronted the band Ann Atomic. Another highlight was opening up for U2 at the Oakland Coliseum in November 2011. She retired from touring in 2012 in order to collaborate on musical theater projects full-time. Ann’s outside interests include co-founding the Haight Street Art Center, a community center/poster music/print shop to celebrate rock poster art in the Bay Area.
Out of Town
The Avett Brothers Musical Swept Away Sails Into Arena Stage This Fall
Swept Away, the new musical written by Tony Award winner John Logan (book) and “America’s biggest roots band” (Rolling Stone), The Avett Brothers (music and lyrics), was announced today as part of the 2023/24 season at Arena Stage, Washington, DC (Molly Smith, Artistic Director; Edgar Dobie, Executive Producer). Performances will begin November 25 and will continue through December 30. Tony Award winner Michael Mayer will direct the production as he had last year in the musical’s sold-out world premiere at Berkeley Rep. The Arena Stage engagement will feature an updated score with additional, never-before-heard songs. Swept Away is produced by Special Arrangement with Matthew Masten, Sean Hudock, and Madison Wells Live.
Swept Away is set in 1888, off the coast of New Bedford, MA. When a violent storm sinks their whaling ship, the four surviving souls — a young man in search of adventure, his older brother who has sworn to protect him, a captain at the end of a long career at sea, and a worldly first mate who has fallen from grace — each face a reckoning: How far will I go to stay alive? And can I live with the consequences?
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacting the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its eighth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. arenastage.org
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