Berkshire Theatre Festival artistic director Kate Maguire announced the company's diverse 2009 season, to include 11 productions including plays by Brian Friel, Henrik Ibsen, Neil Simon and the work of actor David Garrison and director John Rando.
The 81st season in Stockbridge, MA, will run May 21-Dec. 30, 2009, and is dedicated to the memory of William Gibson, the playwright of The Miracle Worker, who was based in Stockbridge. He was also a former artistic director of Berkshire Theatre Festival, from 1966 to 1970, and was a long-serving member of the Board of Trustees at the Festival.
Among season highlights are the world premiere of a new play about baseball announcer Red Barber, starring Garrison and directed by Tony Award winner Rando, plus a run of the popular Broadway by the Year concert seen at Town Hall in Manhattan.
Here's the 2009 season at a glance:
Broadway by the Year, created/written/hosted by Scott Siegel with an all-star cast, presented by special arrangement with The Town Hall in New York City, June 19-27, 2009. "For the first time ever, this amazing evening of show tunes from Broadway's glorious past is presented in the Berkshires."
The Einstein Project by Paul D'Andrea and Jon Klein, directed by Eric Hill, June 30-July 18, 2009. "The Einstein Project humanizes an immortal figure. Through conversations with his son, his wife, and his colleagues, Paul D'Andrea and Jon Klein present a vulnerable, fiendishly intelligent Albert Einstein trapped between his beliefs and his duty. A fascinating portrait of the man who, however reluctantly, ushered in the atomic age."
The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon, directed by Warner Shook, July 21-Aug. 8, 2009. "Mel and Edna Edison, a middle-aged couple living in New York, find their luck is quickly deteriorating during a terrible heat wave and a garbage strike. When Mel cracks under the pressure, his family intervenes in an attempt to nurse him back to his old self, with predictably unpredictable results. World renowned playwright Neil Simon presents a comical, and sometimes sad, look at the pressures placed upon a working class family that ripples with his trademark crisp dialogue and quirky, hysterically memorable characters."
Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Anders Cato and James Leverett, directed by Anders Cato, Aug. 11-29, 2009. "A woman struggles to keep several terrible family secrets, the implication of which are only worsened by a puritanical Pastor, a lascivious son, and her own guilt-ridden, well hidden past. Full of dark symbols, Ghosts exemplifies Henrik Ibsen's uncanny ability to overturn Victorian social values by using them as the damning elements in his work." Unicorn Theatre
Faith Healer by Brian Friel, directed by Eric Hill, May 21-July 4, 2009. "Francis Hardy has an unusual job. He, his wife, Grace, and his loyal manager, Teddy, travel across the British Isles performing a series of almost vaudevillian faith healings. But like any professional, Hardy begins to worry about losing his talent, or whether or not he ever really had one. The strain is felt by his wife, observed by his manager, and so grips Francis that he becomes obsessed with curing the incurable, no matter the cost."
The Wiz, lyrics and music by Charlie Smalls, directed by Ralph Petillo, July 7-Aug. 15, 2009. "When Charlie Smalls set out to re-imagine L. Frank Baum's classic tale for a new audience, no one could have expected it to become nearly as beloved as the original. Featuring incredible music, a modern voice, and a family-friendly atmosphere, The Wiz has delighted audiences the world over."
Sick by Zayd Dohrn, director to be announced, Aug. 18-Sept. 6, 2009. In this regional premiere, "a small home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is the only safe haven for the children of the Krebs family. But despite Mrs. Krebs' attempts to protect her family with scrubbers, masks, and isolation, the delicate balance is brought to the breaking point when her husband's academic career brings a stranger into their safe house. In its Northeast Premiere, Sick seeps onto the stage as a terrifying family drama filled with dark comedy, mistrust, and shocking realism."
Red Remembers by Andrew Guerdat, directed by John Rando, with David Garrison ("Married. . . With Children"), Sept. 11-Nov. 1, 2009. "Well into retirement, Red Barber, the former announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, invites the audience into an intimate, beautifully nostalgic story about his life, the history of baseball, and the core values of humanity in an ever changing world. The honor, loyalty, and perseverance of America and its favorite pastime are not lost upon Red, and he ensures they shall not be lost to us." Theatre for Young Audiences
The Wind in the Willows, adapted by E. Gray Simons from the novel by Kenneth Grahame, directed by E. Gray Simons III, July-August at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. "Berkshire Theatre is proud to return to the Berkshire Museum for The Wind in the Willows. This classic children's tale deals with the eccentric Mr. Toad and his three friends, Mole, Ratty, and Mr. Badger. Exciting as well as educational, this is a production the whole family will love."
Peter Pan: The Musical, based on the play by J. M. Barrie, directed by E. Gray Simons III and Travis Daly, "with a cast of children and adults drawn from the local Berkshire community," on the BTF Main Stage, Sept. 4-13, 2009. "Head towards the 'second star to the right' and re-discover this wonderful tale of the boy who wouldn't grow up. BTF is proud to once again stage a production cast completely from the Berkshire County community. Join the Darling children, the Lost Boys, and evil Captain Hook for an evening of music, merriment, and wonder."
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Eric Hill, directed by Hill and E. Gray Simons III, at the Unicorn Theatre, Dec. 10-30, 2009. "BTF's fourth annual production of the classic Dickens' tale. A holiday tradition that the whole family will love." For subscription and ticket information, call the BTF box office at (413) 298-5536 ext. 33 or visit www.berkshiretheatre.org.
Founded in 1928, Berkshire Theatre Festival is one of the oldest professional regional theatres in the United States and the longest-running cultural organization in the Berkshires. Now under the helm of artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire, BTF presents "theatre that matters" — world premieres, contemporary works, and classics that speak to who we are in our world today. The Main Stage (408 seats), cataloged by the National Register of Historic Places, was originally designed and built by Stanford White as the Stockbridge Casino in 1888. The mission of BTF's second stage, the intimate Unicorn Theatre (122 seats), is to provide a home for emerging artists and new theatrical ideas. BTF's education program, BTF PLAYS!, reaches over 10,000 children annually through school residencies, touring performances, and summer performance training and writing programs. During the summer months BTF opens its doors to over 75 administrative, acting, and technical interns and apprentices.