Friday, July 30, 2010

The Berkshires summer continues....

One of the things I love about summer in the Berkshires is that there is a treasure trove of cultural riches to take advantage of.  Each year I try to attend as many plays, concerts, symphonies, art exhibits, etc., etc., as I can and yet it is impossible to take it all in.  The Berkshire Fringe Festival has started and I haven't seen any of their productions yet.  My friend, Jim Beaudin, is appearing in "A Thousand Clowns" at the New Stage Theatre and I haven't been able to get to his play.  Tanglewood is right down the road and I've been missing the Saturday morning open rehearsals which my friends, Hermine and Jan, faithfully attend.

Waging battle against a summer cold this week has kept me in more than I like but I still have managed a pretty full schedule starting with the "Babes in Arms" cast party which I hosted last week at Moe's Tavern.  This fun musical opens this Saturday night, July 31st, in the Berkshire Theatre Festival Unicorn Theater.  We had a great time at Moe's.  They are big supporters of BTF so I like to be sure to throw a party or two each summer there.  Here is The Countess with the 'Babes'.....

The next night I went over to Shakespeare & Co to see "A Winter's Tale".  Jonathan Epstein and cast do a wonderful job as usual.  I particularly liked the 2nd act and Wolf Coleman's interpretation of the 'young shepard'....Hilarious!!

Then it was karaoke night at Rumpy's Tavern.  Arthur Oliver, the famous costume designer, and Catherine Williams, the founder of The Wharton Salon, sang a few tunes....

A private party for the cast of Endgame and some BTF friends was arranged for after the Friday performance.  Then more karaoke at Michael's of Stockbridge....

Kyle sings Lady GaGa while The Countess prances around :)))

Saturday night was the final performance of Endgame which I attended with some New York City friends.  So sad to see that acclaimed production end but it was almost worth it to see the 'Babes in Arms' kids tearing down the set so that they can stake claim to the stage.  They were so anxious to get their dancing shoes on and entertain everyone!

Monday was the Battle of the Improv Troupes.  Our very own Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe battled it out against MOPCO, an Albany, NY, troupe to support WAM Theatre and the New Stage Theater.  RBIT won bragging rights by a narrow margin and a fun time was had by everyone in the sold out crowd.

MopCo & RBIT take their bows.

The next night I was invited to The Mount for the Meet & Greet for The Wharton Salon's production of "Summer".  The Countess is a supporter of this wonderful new theater company which was started last year by Catherine Taylor-Williams.  Last summer their production of Edith Wharton's "Xingu" was sold out.  Hope to see you all there again this year.  The Countess is bringing all of the Berkshire Theatre Festival's apprentice group to one of the performances on August 22nd.  There will be a talk back for the kids and anyone else interested in learning about the company and the play.

Last night I was invited to the cast party for the BTF production of "Macbeth".  This is another MUST SEE production this summer.  Previews start next Tuesday and the play runs until August 14th.  The cast is excited and ready to get on the Main Stage.  It was a fun party with lots of old and new friends.  It is always delightful to have a chance to chat with those talented Stanton boys, Cooper and Ryder, who are in the cast.  Much thanks to our hostess, Kate Maguire, for a wonderful evening.
Countess Bedelia 7/30/2010 05:34:00 PM | 0 comments |

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another opening, another show...

One of the things that I love about the Berkshire Theatre Festival is their children's programs.  During the winter they have programs in 17 schools in Berkshire County and in the summer they run the BTF!Plays camps.  Last Friday was the first performance of a Camp play, "The Misadventures of Dr. Bubble Brain", which was written by a 5th grade student during one of the school classes. Absolutely delightful and entertaining. 

Natalia Bystrianyk, Katee Brown, and Harrison Gibbons in BTF PLAYS! 2009-2010 production of Hansel and Gretel's Grimm Tale. BTF photo

The Countess is proud to support these programs.  Many of the children who attend the camps are assisted by the Richie DuPont Foundation.  Please consider making a donation so that these important programs can continue.

Saturday night was the opening night of 'The Guardsman', a hilarious tale of treachery, deception, and assumed identities that has inspired three separate films.  Hilariously played by the real life husband and wife team of Michel Gill and Jayne Atkinson, the play inspires a laugh a minute!

The party after the opening night show is a great time to catch up with friends like Catherine, who is the founder of The Wharton Salon....

And Lady Boninski, another great friend....

After the opening night party at the theater is the Paint Shop Party for all the kids...and The Countess!  It has become a tradition to have a Knighting ceremony during the party.  The buzz goes around all week before the party..."Who will be knighted?  Will it be me? me? me?"  Such silly fun !!

Sir Tyler, First Knight of the Countess Court receives his honor.

Sir Steve, First Knight of the LOST Island, is now in the service of The Countess!

So much fun!!!
Countess Bedelia 7/20/2010 11:50:00 PM | 0 comments |

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Berkshire Theatre Festival: Theatre That Matters

Countess Bedelia 7/15/2010 11:03:00 AM | 0 comments |

Summer theater season has begun in the Berkshires

I just don't know where the last week went to!  Since I returned to the Berkshires it has been theater, theater, every day.....which makes The Countess very happy.

It started last Monday with the Meet and Greet for cast of "Babes in Arms".  This happy musical will be performed in the Berkshire Theatre Festival's Unicorn Theater from July 27 to August 28.  Lots of great songs like "My Funny Valentine" and tap dancing!!!!  I love tap dancing! Many of the cast are acting apprentices this summer at BTF. If you want to read a first person account of the life of a theater apprentice and what it's like to be in the cast of a musical, check out 'Hannah's Journey'.

Later in the week I also saw the BTF children's play at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield.  "The Mummy's Tale".  Performed by some of the very talented BTF acting apprentices, the production is funny and delightful.  There was a young boy about 8 or 9 years old sitting near me and he was laughing out loud during most of the show.

BTF photo-cast of "The Mummy's Tale"

On Saturday night "Endgame", Samuel Beckett's acclaimed play, opened in the BTF Unicorn Theater.  Even if you are not a fan of Beckett's work in the Theater of the Absurd, after reading the reviews which proclaim "this is about as good as Endgame ever gets", "Hill knows how to make art from the difficult classics".
"this was a flawless production of Endgame. It just doesn't get better", and "you're in for a treat", this production really is one of the shows that you HAVE to see this summer.

BTF photo - David Chandler & Mark Corkins in "Endgame"

In between BTF productions, I also went to see an incredible production of "Sweeney Todd" at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield.  This was the first "Out" night held by BSC and a lovely party was held after the performance at Jae's Spice.  Duke Davo and I had a great time meeting the cast and hanging with good friends.  This was something that used to happen on the third Thursday of every month at the North Shore Music Theater before it went bust.  A great idea for the community.

Last Friday night I attended opening night for "Richard III" at Shakespeare and Company, starring that magnificent actor, John Douglas Thompson.  Another MUST see production.  S&Co has quite a line up of shows this summer.  Hopefully I will catch them all.

Shakespeare & Co photo - John Douglas Thompson as Richard III

There have also been some great parties, dinners, and nights out on the town.  Here is The Countess making funny faces with friends during a night of karaoke at Michael's of Stockbridge...

I'll have to do a photo post when I download my pictures from my camera. 
Countess Bedelia 7/15/2010 07:32:00 AM | 0 comments |

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Flying to Martha's Vineyard....

What a great way to travel to the traffic, no waiting in the car for hours, no ferry.  Just 30 minutes in the air and you are there.  Leaving Boston...

The views are spectacular...

A few months ago Matt Wilkas invited me to come to the Vineyard and see the premiere reading of his new play "Big Babies".  He had been invited to be a part of the Vineyard Arts Project and ArtFarm Enterprises collaboration called "New Writers, New Plays". 

The Arts Project property in Edgartown was beautiful and Matt was fortunate to stay there for a couple of weeks along with two other playwrights and work on his play.

The cast included Lucas Papaelias, Jenn Harris, Daiva Deupree, Phillip Taratula, and Mike Doyle... 

The production was directed by Martha Banta.  Big Babies is a comedy about a surrogate mother who can't stop getting pregnant for people, a gay couple trying to have a baby, a plastic surgery addict, and the one thing they all have in common...

I loved the play.  It is funny and tells a good story.  But I never like to just take my word for it, here is a quote from the Vineyard Arts Facebook page from someone who saw a performance:  "I SAW 'BIG BABIES" THIS AFTERNOON AT THE VINEYARD ARTS PROJECT,NEW WRITERS,NEW PLAYS. IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE EVENT. I WAS HARD PRESSED TO REMEMBER THAT IT WAS NOT A FULL PRODUCTION. THE WRITING, THE ACTING AND THE DIRECTING WAS WONDERFUL. IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I'VE HEARD SUCH VOLUMES OF LAUGHTER."

Drama was represented by the play "Disgraced" by Ayad Akhtar and directed by Will Frears.  When Amir Randawa—an affluent Muslim-American lawyer married to the gorgeous (and white) Nicole—finds out that he’s been passed up at his law firm for a partnership he’s long been expecting, the wheels come off.

I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire second act of this very intense drama.  I was also astonished to learn that this was Ayad's first play!  Extremely intense.  It took me awhile to process all the feelings that the dialog aroused in me when it was over.

The Musical play was "Witness: Uganda".  Book and lyrics by Matt Gould and directed by Griffin Mathews.  In the summer of 2005, Griffin Matthews traveled to Uganda to volunteer at a village orphanage. During his six-week journey, he stumbled upon a group of orphaned teenagers living in squalor and decided to help find sponsors for their educations.  The book is based on Griffin's true experience and the story by itself is inspiring.  Add Matt's beautiful music and you have something truly magical. 

The singing by Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson was pure joy to listen to.  This play has already been commissioned to play in Los Angeles next year by Steven Schwartz of Wicked and Pippin fame.

On my last night there was a party at a beautiful ocean front home for everyone involved.  Here is a picture of the whole crew...

I also did some touring around this beautiful island.  It was my first trip so I wanted to just soak up some of the atmosphere.  Matt took me to see the 'campground' in Oak Bluff which is full of colorful Victorian cottages.  He had already picked out "The Countess Cottage"....

Who wouldn't have a good time with such handsome escorts as Matt and Travis...

Here is a view of Menemsha harbor where Captain Quint set out to do battle with Jaws...

I love the bike ferry....

And this was the view from my lunch table....

Thanks so much, Matt.  I'll never forget this special time.
Countess Bedelia 7/06/2010 10:01:00 PM | 0 comments |

From Nursery School to Opening Night.....

Two weeks ago The Countess attended the graduation ceremony at Bright Start Nursery School.  The four year old graduates marched down the aisle to "Pomp and Circumstance" and received their diplomas.  My adorable Baby Countesses made me proud.  They recited and made announcements and grinned from ear to ear.  Here they are with big sister, Melanie.....

This leaves Kindergarten, grammar school, middle school, high school, and college ceremonies to look forward to :)

Then it was off to the Berkshires to attend the opening night at Berkshire Theatre Festival of "The Last Five Years" starring Julie Reiber and Paul Anthony Stewart.  Both of these actors have impressive Broadway credits and incredible singing voices. 

Read the Boston Globe review and then get your tickets because the play closes this Saturday.

Julie Reiber (Berkshire Theatre Festival photo)

Paul Anthony Stewart (Berkshire Theatre Festival photo)

This weekend also brought delightful house guests, Opening Night parties, and dinner! fun! fun!
Countess Bedelia 7/06/2010 10:23:00 AM | 0 comments |