Occasionally someone will reference magic at Hampton Terrace. Fine. We like to hear that. BUT….no one will deny REAL magic – the Disney kind - occurred late one Monday evening, this summer, in our living room.
Magic takes special ingredients, and it is undeniable that there was something brewing in the cauldron that evening. Deborah Grausman, a local friend with a foot in Shakespeare & Company, and a foot squarely with the New York musical theater crowd, had just produced her second “Broadway in the Berkshires,” to benefit the education programs at Shakespeare & Company.
Many Broadway leads have taken advantage of the “intensives” at S&Co. Even beyond a professional connection – for many Broadway actors – the Berkshires are like comfort food. So when Deborah comes calling, those who can, respond.
The sold-out performance at the Tina Packer Playhouse consisted of one show-stopping musical number after another, hosted by John Douglas Thompson.
This could have been magic enough, but we were in for a historic surprise. The actors, sponsors, and major benefactors of the evening were invited to Hampton Terrace for an “after-party,” and this is where our story begins.
Alan Menken has won eight Academy Awards and 11 Grammies for his scores and original songs from iconic Disney musicals, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas, as well as Broadway shows, Little Shop of Horrors, and Newsies. His daughter, Nora, performed in Master Class this summer with Deborah, and she was part of the “Broadway in the Berkshires” line-up. Her parents drove up from New York to see her, and serendipitously stayed at Hampton Terrace.
I have to admit: I threw a few of the ingredients into the cauldron as well. When Alan checked in that afternoon, I gave him the typical tour and steered him close enough to the Steinway to see John Williams’ letter. He said, “Ooh…Johnny played this piano!” I responded, “And you will too.” I told him about the after-party and he agreed he would sit down for a song, but not to expect more. “Of course not, Alan…”
So fast forward to after 11 p.m., when there were easily more than a hundred guests in our living room, dining room and bar – sipping champagne and eating chocolates from Chocolate Springs. Terrific jazz pianist, David Grausman, was playing the Steinway, when Alan Menken finally responded to the nudging and sat down to play his “one song,” “Part of Your World,” from The Little Mermaid. Deborah Grausman took the lead (Touring Company, Fiddler on the Roof), along with Lauren Jelencovich (currently featured vocalist with Yanni, Grand Prize in Ed McMahon’s Star Search). Encouraged at that level of professionalism coming from beside the piano, Alan continued on…
He played a dozen songs or more, perhaps surprised that virtually every one in the room knew all the lyrics to every song. Several highlights jump out…
“Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors: This rendition went to a whole different level when Jonathan Rayson took the part of Seymour. Jonathan played Seymour on Broadway, and in the national touring company. Just as impressive, was when Kat West jumped up to be Audrey in this iconic duet. Kat was the stage manager for “Broadway in the Berkshires” and although her resume of backstage management is long, even her friends did not know she could sing like this.
“Somewhere That’s Green,” Little Shop of Horrors: Joining Alan on the piano bench is Tonya Pinkins – a very familiar face to many. Star of Broadway, films and daytime soaps, she has won about every award there is, including a Tony. Watch this clip the whole way through. How they end the song sums up the evening here at Hampton Terrace.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this Berkshires adventure...!
The world-class theatre companies that call the Berkshires home have their own way of making the holiday season special. Right here in Lenox, MA, through December 29, Shakespeare & Co is presenting a radio-play adaptation of an American cinema classic: It’s A onderful Life.
George Bailey’s Christmas Eve odyssey is a tale that defines the Christmas spirit for many people. This radio play presentation (scripted by Joe Landry) features five actors playing more than 50 roles, and creating oodles of handmade sound effects. A pre-show introduction to how those sound effects are created gives the audience an insider’s peek, as they follow protagonist George, and Clarence the angel, on the journey to show George just how much he matters to the people and the world around him.
Playwright Joe Landry got his start in the business early – his first job, at age 12, was in the film department of the Fairfield, CT library. His love of film and theatre grew from there, and his parents encouraged the habit, introducing him to more theatres and opportunities. His work has been widely produced, and It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, can be seen across the country this holiday season.
As always, we’re sure this Shakespeare & Co. production will be excellent. For more information and tickets, visit the Shakespeare & Co. website.
Can’t help but mention that Shakespeare & Co.’s home base is just a two minute drive, or a nine minute walk, to your cozy quarters at Hampton Terrace.
Photo via the Shakespeare & Co. website.
Norman Rockwell created what are widely known as the iconic images of America in the 20th century. Images of personal moments, small town places – images known as America to the world, but known to Berkshires residents as “home”. Norman Rockwell moved to Stockbridge, MA in 1953 with his wife Mary and three sons. The people and places of the Berkshires became his subjects, and the rest – well, the rest is history.
That history can be explored at the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge, MA. Rockwell himself established the trust that paved the way for the museum, so that subsequent generations of fans could enjoy the legacy he left behind, up close.
Currently the museum is featuring an exhibit called “Norman Rockwell: Home For The Holidays”. Until January 26, 2014, you can view Rockwell’s depictions of the holidays – greeting cards, advertisements, props he used to stage his subjects, and more.
When you visit the Norman Rockwell Museum, explore the town of Stockbridge itself. You can still see some of the places featured in several of Rockwell’s works – Stockbridge’s Main St, for example, is still there, made famous by his painting “Main Street At Christmas”. The 1862 firehouse on Elm St. in Stockbridge is another famous Rockwell destination, featured in his piece “The New American LaFrance is Here!”
Savor unique downtown shops and restaurants. Enjoy a stroll. A visit to the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce website can give you all the information that you need to fill out a day of discoveries.
Photo via the Norman Rockwell Museum website. "Home For Christmas" by Norman Rockwell, 1955.
Romance is an experience that knows no season. Our Romantic Getaway Weekend Package is designed to set the tone for you – starting at just $229/night. Just add some time on the slopes, or exploring the beautiful Berkshires countryside while cross-country skiing, and you’ve got the recipe for a winter-perfect romantic weekend.
The Romantic Getaway Weekend Package
This package is accessibly priced for you (starting at $229/night) – and we don’t mind if you pay half when you book and half when you arrive. The package also includes:
- A $30 gift card for Nejaimes, our local wine/gourmet food shop
- A candle-lit breakfast buffet
- A comprehensive list of activities in the area during your stay (attached to your confirmation), as well as a list of guest-approved restaurants in the area
- Free early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability)
- An additional 30 percent discount when you book a third night
- We can also adorn your room with flowers and a bottle of champagne, or arrange for an in-room massage.
Cross Country Info
The Western Mass Cross Country Ski Area Association is a terrific resource for those who love to enjoy the magic of the countryside on skis. Their site links to information about seven ski areas, events, has a map laying out the location of each area, and more. There are options for skiers of all levels and trails designed by award-winning trail designers.
Need to information about local weather? Obviously you can use internet sources for gauging the snow levels during your visit, but we’re also happy to answer any questions you may have from the ground level. We want your stay to be as fun as possible and we’re in the business of making sure you have what you need to make that happen. Call us anytime at 800-203-0656.
Downhill, Tubing Destinations
• Jiminy Peak has been teasing us via Facebook for a few weeks now. They’re making oodles of snow, and making sure the world knows about it – and it’s beautiful, not to mention romantic.
• Bousquet Mountain claims to be the “best downhill skiing in the Berkshires” and has spawned five Olympic downhill skiers.
• Butternut is not only a great ski area, but one of the sites of the annual Berkshires Jazz Festival (not a winter event, but one to keep an eye on).
• Berkshire East, a family-run resort, gives you skiing in the winter and ziplining in the summer, at affordable prices.
Let us help you build the perfect weekend. We can give you a personalized rate quote, good for 30 days, to start it all off right. Give us a call at 800-203-0656 or contact us online.
Photo via the Jiminy Peak Facebook page...
December 28th at 8p.m. John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, a husband and wife duo, take the stage at the Mahaiwe for an evening of jazz and American song. The evening’s special guest, Bucky Pizzarelli, is a jazz guitarist and banjoist – as well as John’s father.
John Pizzarelli has been described as “madly creative” by the Los Angeles Times and “the genial genius of the guitar” by The Toronto Star. As for the family trio, the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed them “the First Family of Cool” and The New Yorker declared them “the von Trapps on Martinis.” The Grammy-nominated younger Pizzarelli was, of course, inspired by his father and took up the guitar at the age of 6. His career has spanned from clubs to Carnegie Hall, and included such highlights at playing Frank Sinatra’s 80th birthday show, and opening for a Sinatra tour. Pizzarelli is not afraid to embrace the pop elements of the jazz genre, and the classics of the American songbook.
Jessica Molaskey, singer actress, Broadway star, was summed up thusly by the New York Times: "...formidable talent, impeccable taste and acute wit." Her resume includes Broadway classics like Cats, Les Misérables, and Oklahoma – as well as the nationally broadcasted jazz radio show, Radio Deluxe.
Bucky Pizarelli’s career really gelled with his appointment as a staff musician at NBC in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he became a member of the Tonight Show Band. He’s played for presidents, and he’s played with legends. An unusual bit of trivia? He plays a 7-string guitar, music geeks. That means he can accompany himself with a bass line, if needed, while playing the guitar.
This show is essentially guaranteed to entertain, and with style – attendees are encouraged to arrive in New Year finery. Regular admission tickets range from $25 to $80. A $100 ticket gains you entrance to a post-show reception with the performers. You can make your reservation to the show now, online, at the Mahaiwe’s website.
Photo via the Mahaiwe's website...
The Berkshire Museum is not the only museum currently sharing the riches of its permanent collection here in the Berkshires. The Clark has a current exhibit that can engage you at the museum – or right at home. The Clark Museum has culled gems from its collection of portraits, figure drawings, and figure sculpture, to create a current exhibition they are calling “Face Time: Portraits And Figures In Paintings And Sculpture.
The works span from the years 1500 to 1900 and the exhibit features “fine works by Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Thomas Gainsborough, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, John Singer Sargent, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, and Auguste Rodin”.
A highly amusing feature of this exhibit is the accompanying response tool for visitors called “SIX”. SIX gives you six of the portraits of the collection on a touch screen at the museum – where you can enter your own interpretations of the artworks. The challenge presented is that you are limited to only six words for each interpretation. A poetic twist! Another twist? You can view the six at home, on your computer screen and submit your interpretations online, thus taking “The SIX Challenge” (http://www.clarkart.edu/sixhome/). You can also read other peoples’ interpretations (there’s some extremely clever ones in there) and use the “Grab A Word” feature to inspire you.
The Clark Museum was begun in the 1950s, from what began as the personal art collection of Sterling and Francine Clark – lifelong art collectors. Although it began as a personal collection, they had a strong desire to make the collection a public one – so an interactive exhibit like this seems highly fitting.
The exhibit runs from now until January 31, 2014. Visitor information such as hours and admission, can be gleaned from the Clark’s website.
This dapper photo is one of the "Six" featured on the Clark's website, for your interpretation enjoyment...
As with any museum, the Berkshire Museum holds an extensive permanent collection of artwork – and like any other museum, it’s simply not possible to display it all at once. The Berkshire Museum’s permanent collection boasts 50,000 member pieces, including art, artifact, and interesting natural specimens.
Objectify is “a major new exhibition”, culled from that diverse collection, and presented in celebration of the Museum’s 110th anniversary.
This show has been intriguingly meta-curated and presented in the format of an exhibit in progress. The exhibit transforms from the first gallery to the last, from the aesthetic equivalent of a private viewing of the collection in storage, to an airy, contemporary presentation where works are given space to breath as individuals, and not just members of a collection. Selection of participating works was shaped around the idea “What will the next 100 years look like?”
As we discussed in an earlier blog post , the Berkshire Museum was founded on the enthusiasm, initiative, and initial collection of Zenas Crane, a third generation owner of the Crane & Company paper manufacturer, in 1903. Crane & Company still exists as a purveyor of papers and fine stationery, but also as the official paper supplier to the US Treasury. It seems fitting that a company with such a rich and long history, would have fueled the formation of what is now a century-old collection…indeed, what will the next 100 years bring, at the Berkshire Museum?
More information about visiting the Berkshire Museum is available at the website.
Ever wondered what it might be like to travel via dog sled? Wonder no longer! When we say the Berkshires boast a variety of adventures to be had, both indoors and out, we couldn’t be more serious – and here’s an adventure you won’t find just anywhere: Dog sledding.
Hilltown Wilderness Adventures in West Chesterfield, MA, leads hiking and biking excursions in the warmer months, fishing and kayaking too…but the winter means snow and snow means sledding, and sledding at Hilltown means sledding with their team of Alaskan Malamute mushers. They also do dry-land sledding in snowless times of the year. But can you imagine the rush of sailing through the snowy scenery, pulled by a team of enthusiastic canines?
The dry-land (snowless) mushing activities include, per the Hilltown website:
• Scenic ATV Fall Foliage Rides
• Dog “Cart” Rides
• Learn How to Bikejor (biking) or Cani-Cross (jogging) with a Dog Attached
• Racing “Rig” Rides
The Hilltown Team is made up of an extremely handsome pack of Alaskan Huskies. Alaskan Huskies are considered to me more a type of dog, than a specific breed of dog – and this type of dog is famous for sled racing. They are a mixture of native, indigenous dogs, and more modern, European types of dog. They’re smaller than you might think, at only 40-60 lbs, and they come in every color of the canine rainbow, including classic looks that are attributed to Huskies, in shades of black/white or grey/white.
You can be a passenger behind these fine animals, or even learn to drive the team, it’s up to you. You’ll need to contact them directly, for rates and such, and you can do so through the Hilltown Wilderness Adventures website.
That fantastic photo of the dogs is also from the Hilltown Wilderness Adventures website.
Who says a romantic getaway can't include adventure...?
Good food and fine drink should be among your highest priorities when you visit the Berkshires. Here are a gaggle of wineries, breweries and distillers that are open to the public, for those who enjoy touring this particular avenue of the good life.
Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail – The Beverage Trail is a two-state beverage experience. It is an association of beverage and local food producers, drawn together to tempt your taste buds. The Beverage Trail includes members Brookview Station Winery, Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery, Chatham Brewing, and Hudson-Chatham Winery, all in New York (just a jaunt over the border) and Furnace Brook Winery, of Richmond, MA (more on them in a moment). Here’s a map!
Furnace Brook Winery – Year-round wine tasting, daily, from 12-5 awaits. Both reds and whites are represented on their list of award-winning wines. Other tantalizing selections include mead, and apple ice wine.
Les Trois Emme Winery - Their reds and whites include an Old Vine Zinfandel with deep, rich flavor and hints of cocoa, and their Stingy Jack Pumpkin Wine, the perfect accompaniment to your holiday meals. It’s best to check their website directly for information about their hours and availability throughout the year. They also accommodate private wine-tastings, as well as special events such as weddings. Located in New Marlborough, MA.
Balderdash Cellars – Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5, in downtown Pittsfield, MA, the tasting room is open at this new addition to the vine scene (call for information about private tasting sessions). The grapes are from California, but the wine is all Berkshires. Their whites, rosés and reds bear whimsical names like “Truth Serum” and “Fruit of the Boot”. If Truth Serum lives up to its name, it could bear amusing results on a group tour.
Pioneer Valley Vineyard - Located in Hatfield, MA, the Burt Family has farmed in Western MA for 6 generations. Their wines include those not only of the grape, but of other fruit as well – with the most intriguing offering being a Tomato Wine. Yes…Tomato Wine. Tomato is a fruit, after all. The winery shop is open through December, on Saturdays and Sundays, from 12-5.
Berkshire Mountain Distillers – No round-up of beverage producers in the Berkshires would be complete without a mention of Berkshire Mountain Distillers (http://berkshiremountaindistillers.com/home/) . Berkshire Mountain Distillers are the producers of the New York Times #1 Gin, Greylock Gin. They also recently made news for producing a spirit from Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Vodka, rum, bourbon and corn whiskey…there’s a little something for everyone at Berkshire Mountain Distillers. Though you cannot purchase their spirits on site, you CAN find them at the Berkshire Brewing Company, another great place to stop on your beverage tour. Established in 1994, they’re located in South Deerfield, MA – and they give brewery tours every Saturday.
Please feel free to enjoy the spoils of your touring once you return to Hampton Terrace – our bar is a cozy, welcoming space made for just such occasions.
Does anything beat the smell of fresh-baked bread? There’s certainly not much that does, and Berkshire Mountain Bakery is the place to get your fresh-baked bread fix.
Since 1986, this European-style bread bakery has been transforming flour into magic.
Traditional baking methods and sourdough leavening give their breads artisan quality. Owner Richard Bourdon was originally a musician – but was called to baking on a whim, while studying music. He spent many years baking in a variety of European locations, learning his craft, before settling in Western MA – and growing his business from a one-man operation, to one with over a dozen employees, baking oodles of bread. Learn more about the bakery and their baking methods at the Berkshire Mountain Bakery website.
There’s more than bread to be discovered – they also produce cookies, and take-n-bakepizzas, as well as pre-baked crusts that you can use to make your own pizzas. Preview their tasty products here. Offerings include savory Cheese and Herb, spicy Jalapeno & Cheese Ciabatta, surprising Cherry Pecan…and so many more.
The Housatonic, MA, bakery is open year-round, Monday through Saturday 8am to 7pm and Sundays from 8:30a.m. to 6p.m. Take a peek at this article from Saveur Magazine, December 2012 where they declare Berkshire Mountain’s loaves to be far more than merely delicious.
Stock up on delicious loaves...then come cozy up by the fire here at Hampton Terrace while you enjoy them...
Photo from the Berkshire Mountain Bakery website...