Friday, July 31, 2009

Open to All: $15 Rush Tickets
at Williamstown Theatre Festival

For the first time in recent Berkshire memory, Rush Tickets are being made available to the general public by the Williamstown Theatre Festival . The sharply discounted tickets, priced at $15, are available to all - not just students, youth or seniors. This is an extraordinary move that can only help expand audiences for WTF in an economy where ticket buyers are watching their entertainment dollars more closely than ever.

“We believe strongly in the value of what we provide to our audiences. Now, more than ever, we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the magic of Williamstown Theatre Festival’s productions,” Board President Matt Harris said in announcing the news.

The hilarious 1920's spoof The Torch Bearers has audiences howling at the Williamstown Main Stage through August 9. T. Charles Erickson Photos.


This program is in addition to another discount program where buyers can get $10 off mainstage tickets by presenting stubs from another theatre company. There are also four half price ticket booths in Adams, Pittsfield, Great Barrington and Chatham, New York for day of performance tickets not only for theatre, but for dance and other events in the Berkshires and adjacent New York State.

A "mysterious presence" takes up residence at the Nikos Stage from August 5-16 is the wry new comedy Caroline in Jersey which features Lea Thompson and Matt McGrath as best friends in the play.

DETAILS: The rush ticket policy applies to both Main and Nikos Stage shows. You can now purchase rush tickets, based on availability, starting at 4pm until the curtain goes up at 8 pm, 8:30 pm on Saturdays. for all same-day evening performances. The $15 tickets - surprisingly - are even available by phone at 413.597.3400 or in person at 1000 Main Street in Williamstown. Beyond availability, there are some obvious restrictions: the discount cannot be applied to previously purchased tickets and cannot be combined with any other offer. Tickets are subject to availability and are only valid for same day performances. Limit 2 per person. Williamstown seating charts, ticket information

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Berkshire Theaters Collaborate on Discount Tickets

For those on a budget there are many ways to save on theater tickets. You can volunteer to be an usher, or man the snack stand in exchange for free admission. You can check out the availability of half price tickets at any of four locations of the Berkshire Half Tix Program.

And now, the four major companies have launched a scheme where you can get $10 off a ticket purchase for their main stage productions.

Othello stars the brilliant John Douglas Thompson at Shakespare & Company until September 6. Kevin Sprague Photo.

Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company, and Williamstown Theatre Festival are excited to announce a collaborative effort to provide more affordable theater opportunities for residents of and visitors to Berkshire County. While all four theaters currently have a variety of ticket options designed to make performances more affordable—from special discounts for County residents to rush tickets—the foursome saw an opportunity to collaborate as a group in an effort to provide even greater accessibility.

Prisoner of Second Avenue at Berkshire Theatre Festival until August 8

For the 2009 summer season, the four theaters are launching a ticket stub discount program to kick off the collaboration. All four theaters will offer discounted tickets to provide greater accessibility to theatre goers and to encourage patrons to attend productions at multiple venues. Patrons simply purchase a full price main stage ticket at any participating organization and retain their ticket stub. They may then turn in that ticket stub at any participating organization’s box office within two weeks of the performance date noted on the stub to receive $10 off the purchase of a full-price main stage ticket at that participating organization. That second stub may then be used within two weeks of its performance date to receive $10 off the purchase of yet another full-price main stage ticket at another participating theatre. The offer is valid for all main stage events at the four theaters, with the exception of one-time special events. Tickets may be purchased over the phone or in-person at each theater’s box office.

Jeremy Bobb (l) and Charles Shaughnessy (r) keep audiences on the edge of their seats in Sleuth playing Barrington Stage until August 1. Kevin Sprague Photo.

The four theaters were a natural fit for a collaborative effort—all four are producing theaters with full summer seasons of ongoing programming, and each provides educational and training programs. Additionally, all four theaters have similar ticket prices, making a joint ticket offer, such as the ticket stub discount, an easy program to implement.

True West with Paul Sparks (l) and Nate Corddry (r) at Williamstown Theatre Festival until July 26. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

The ticket stub discount program is just the first initiative of the collaboration, with plans for future initiatives already underway. The group intends to not only provide increased opportunities for patrons to see theater at an affordable price, but to work together to create greater visibility for the outstanding theater produced here in the Berkshires. The ticket stub discount program will launch on Monday, July 13th and will run through September 5 (noting that WTF season ends on August 23, and BSC and BTF’s seasons end on August 29).
Box Offices:

Barrington Stage Company: (413) 236-8888;

Berkshire Theatre Festival: (413) 298-5576;

Shakespeare & Company: (413) 637-3353;

Williamstown Theatre Festival: (413) 597-3400;

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A. R. Gurney Directs Himself
at Shakespeare & Company

A.R. Gurney

In a rare and unusual appearance, the Award-winning playwright, actor and director A. R.Gurney returns to Shakespeare & Company next week for a very special, one-time-only, benefit performance of his moving tale, Ancestral Voices. Gurney directs himself, award-winning actress Annette Miller and three other remarkable actors—Jake Robards, Corinna May and David Adkins—all assembled for one night only in Founders’ Theatre on Monday, July 20 beginning at 6:00pm. This special benefit performance of Ancestral Voices also marks the reunion of Gurney and Ms. Miller, who performed together in the Company’s celebrated 2003 benefit performance of Love Letters.

The PAPA Center at Shakespeare & Company.

Of course, it is all part of the ongoing efforts to retire the remaining debt on the company's PAPA Center which contains the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, rehearsal rooms, offices and scene shop so tickets range from $75 to $250. But considering the unique nature of the event, and the limited seats available, this is a bargain for such a historic event.

Ancestral Voices is preceded by a 6:00pm reception featuring cocktails and light fare provided by Samel’s of Pittsfield, and followed by a champagne and dessert reception with the actors at 9:00pm. Curtain time for Ancestral Voices is 7:30pm, and the show runs approximately 90 minutes. Founders’ Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For tickets, contact the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or, or contact Melissa Borgo in the Development office at 413-637-1199 ext. 105 or

Friday, July 10, 2009

Measure for Measure at Lunchtime at Shakespeare & Company

(l to r) Ross Bennett Hurwitz and Tom O'Keefe; Poornima Kirby; Nathan Wolfe Coleman. Danny Kurtz photos.

Lunchtime Shakespeare is being revived. It's an old tradition from Shakespeare & Company's days at The Mount; a midday combo of a substantial boxed lunch and a frothy bite of The Bard. Measure for Measure, is a tilt-o-wheel ride of political hypocrisy and ethical dilemmas, is brought to life on the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre stage by the energetic and talented troupe of young actors who are in S&Co.’s Performance Internship Program. Associate Director of Training Dave Demke directs.

First performed in 1604 and listed among Shakespeare’s comedies, Measure for Measure is as timely and relevant today as the latest disgraced politician or tabloid scandal. This lively but clear-headed play is a masterful mosaic of comedy and tragedy, intellectual debate and heart-felt passion. A searing indictment of corrupt politicians and moral hypocrisy, it is a play about balance—or rather, the consequences of imbalance when a powerful officeholder strictly enforces the nation’s morality laws, while hypocritically ignoring them in private practice. (Sound familiar?) Measure for Measure is a play that falls somewhere between comedy and tragedy, with grave issues of moral consequence interspersed with the exploits of characters like Lucio (a flamboyant gentleman), Pompey (a bawdy barkeep), and Mistress Overdone (the proprietress of a brothel).

“The thing I’ve been fascinated with is the way the play will swing from tragedy to comedy, literally within a scene. That swing of highs and lows is what I’m finding very compelling, as it has to do with forward motion. Once the train leaves the station, you can’t turn it around and you can’t stop it, ” Demke says, before choosing an alternative metaphor. “It’s something of a rollercoaster ride.”

Gabriel Portuondo and Tom O'Keefe

In Measure for Measure, a benevolent Duke has left Vienna temporarily in the hands of the harsh—and hypocritical—Angelo. Angelo rules by the letter of the law, even when it seems justice would be best served by a looser interpretation. Isabella, a young nun, learns that her brother Claudio has received a death sentence for out-of-wedlock practices, Angelo makes an indecent proposal to her, promising to save her brother’s life if she complies. The original “bed trick” is performed, to fool Angelo into thinking his bargain was accepted, while a “head trick” falsely convinces him Claudio is dead. Meanwhile, The Duke has not left Vienna but in fact has remained behind, in disguise, to witness Angelo’s rule. Will The Duke restore order to this tangle of illicit relationships, willful confusion, and misrule in the name of “law and order”?

Measure for Measure plays from July 10 to September 5, with all curtain times at 12:45pm. Tickets run $14 to $18 for Previews, and $16 to $24 performances on or after July 18. Patrons are invited to purchase specially prepared lunches and enjoy them on the terrace overlooking the Dottie and Stephen Weber Wetlands Garden or in the comfortable Bernstein Theatre Lobby. Boxed lunches (tuna salad, turkey, or veggie sandwich; apple; cookie; bottled water) should be ordered in advance from the Box Office for $7. Lunches are provided by S&Co.’s resident chef, Peter Mathis of Bountiful Harvest Catering in Pittsfield (413-281-7345). Lunches are available for pick-up in the Bernstein Lobby at noon.

The Bernstein is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For a complete listing of productions and schedules, to inquire about the 40% Berkshire Resident Discount, Youth Rush tickets, or other discounts, or to receive a brochure, you can call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New York City Ballet Summer Season at SPAC

New York City Ballet dances Firebird at Saratoga

Tonight, at 8:00 PM, the New York City Ballet will kick-off its 2009 Season at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The season will run from July 7 – July 18. I am headed up to SPAC to see them, and to check out the Lake George Opera's Madama Butterfly. It's difficult choosing between the great Berkshire offerings and those in nearby Saratoga, New York. I will file a report on Berkshire Fine Arts when I return.

Among the highlights of the summer program will be the Ballet’s presentation of the full-length Balanchine ballet, Coppélia, a work partially commissioned by SPAC that had its world premiere on SPAC’s stage in 1974. Children and teens from the Capital Region will have roles in Coppélia as well as Balanchine classic, Firebird which is also part of the Ballet’s SPAC season. The children were chosen from auditions that were held in May.

Other highlights of the Ballet’s SPAC season include the July 11 Ballet Gala featuring the final Saratoga performance of NYCB principal dancer Darci Kistler in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue; iconic Balanchine ballets including Swan Lake, Stars and Stripes, the Four Temperaments, and Scotch Symphony and works by Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins, as well as new choreography.

For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit