A short stroll from Hampton Terrace is Shakespeare & Company, one of the world's longest-running and most prestigious Shakespeare presenters. Founded by Royal Shakespeare veteran Tina Packer more than 36 years ago, the company has been presenting simultaneous performances on their multiple stages for years.
Many of the founding actors/administration are still around and involved, including Tina herself. The company has remained vibrant by mixing things up every year. They don't limit themselves to Shakespeare, and even when they do a play by the Bard, they frequently change the setting and time period - a testiment to the timelessness of Shakespeare's themes. Beyond that, expect dramas, comedies, Edith Wharton shorts, even live radio broadcasts like "War of the Worlds" or "It's a Wonderful Life."
Local theater blogger extraordinaire Larry Murray published a very clear listing of this summer's performances and times on his "Berkshire On Stage and Screen" this morning.
Click the link to also learn about ticket purchase options.
And speaking of casting, notable summer leads include Johnny Lee Davenport, Malcolm Ingram, Nigel Gore, Josh Aaron McCabe - all of whom have stayed at Hampton Terrace recently.
Located about one block from Hampton Terrace, Shakespeare & Company presents its 2014 Summer Season - celebrating the 450th birthday of The Bard.
Tickets are now on sale through their website, and special packages are also available for those who make it a goal to see as many of the summer's offerings as possible. We have plenty of guests who try to do that, but no one is more committed than Judy Newman, who has stayed here 56 nights since 2007. Originally referred by the Shakespeare & Company box office, Judy waits until the S&Co. schedule is announced, and then locks in at least three visits per summer. Judy has been here so many times, we don't even check her in. She goes right to her room and we see her at breakfast.
Although Judy tends to come on weekends, most of our Shakepeare and Company guests like to come midweek, when they can save up to $70/night at Hampton Terrace, compared to the weekend rates. We also do not have a midweek minimum, which helps those who cannot stay three nights on the weekends. This is also true for our guests who are interested in Jacob's Pillow, Williamstown Theater Festival, Berkshire Theater Festival and Barrington Stage Company.
But don't think you are limited to Shakespeare at S&Co. This talented group of actors can do anything - and they also tackle mysteries, romances, comedies - virtually no limit to their range. And they have been known to relocate Shakespeare's most iconic works to a different time and space. After all, where did West Side Story come from?
And here at Hampton Terrace, we are very proud to have hosted many of Shakespeare & Company's most beloved actors: John Douglas Thompson, Malcolm Ingram, Johnny Lee Davenport, Olympia Dukakis, and more.
Additionally, Hampton Terrace has twice hosted actors and the production team for "Broadway in the Berkshires," a bi-annual fundraiser for the Shakespeare and Company educational activities. And we have also twice hosted the after-party, which in 2013 featured an impromptu sing-a-long with Academy Award-winning composer, Alan Menken.
Founded by Tina Packer more than 30 years ago, Shakespeare & Company has reached iconic status in Lenox, home of the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. How proud we are to have such an important attraction literally walking distance from our inn.
Shakespeare & Company programs all year round, but concentrates its most expansive productions during the June through October "season." During this period, at least four different productions are rotating simultaneously. And then the entire calendar changes over several more times.
From November through Spring, the company presents other interesting shows - usually not Shakespeare. They are committed to helping the Berkshires build and sustain a twelve-month tourist season.
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.
A peek at the 2013 performance schedule for Shakespeare & Co. reveals a cornucopia-bursting bounty of classic riches. Shakespeare himself is well-represented, but he is in very, very good company indeed, in this dense, luxurious season of theatre.
Love’s Labour’s Lost, Richard II, and a Midsummer Night’s Dream are joined by Mother Courage And Her Children (Bertolt Brecht), The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Martin McDonagh), and Moliere’s Les Faux Pas. The majority of these performances take place just a 9-minute walk from Hampton Terrace, at Shakespeare & Co.’s home base.
The setting for Shakespeare & Co’s production of Love’s Labors Lost has been updated, for this production from Shakespeare’s time, to the 1940’s. According to the Berkshire Eagle, director Lisa Wolpe has crafted, with her cast, a fresh production that takes pains to use the language, rather than rely solely upon physical comedy for laughs. This classic battle of the sexes runs until September 1.
Richard II is a far more serious play, full of politics, war, and shifting alliances, as a king seals his own fate. In an interview with the Boston Globe, director Timothy Douglas says “Richard was the first king in his family who practiced diplomacy first before going to war . . . so I consider him a visionary.” He also invites the audience to draw their own conclusions about who, in this broiling tale of succession, is right, and who is wrong. This show has a limited run, until July 21.
Another season highlight, and one that puts the “& Company” in Shakespeare & Company: Moliere’s Les Faux Pas. As is the case with all things Moliere, this show should be uproarious, clever and fun. According to Broadway World Boston, “With a recipe that includes pirates, clowns, sword fights, food fights, and hilariously-failed schemes, there is something for everyone in this madcap jaunt.” This saucy comedy runs through August 24.
For more information about these shows, and the rest of the S&C season, call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit www.Shakespeare.org.
Photo via the Shakespeare & Co. website...
An appropriately creepy theatre event in this October month: A live reading of Frankenstein, at Shakespeare & Co, right here in Lenox. The evening of October 31st, three actors will bring a monster to life before your eyes. The reading takes place in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at 7:30 on October 31st. Tickets are general admission, $15 for adults, $5 for kids.
Frankenstein is a classic precisely because it transcends any superficial horror. Modern “horror” films gloss over the moral churning of the type that consumes Victor Frankenstein, in the wake of his creation’s debut. The elation of a creator at the moment of creation is quickly subsumed by his doubts, worries and suspicions. And the psychological power struggle between the creator and the creation are the stuff, indeed, of classics.
Shakespeare & Co.’s adaptation promises to take you on a classic journey filled with suspense, twists, and terror that will make your Halloween oh-so Halloweeny.
The Boston Globe has proclaimed the Berkshires "an aggregation of performing arts unmatched anywhere in the country."
So I would be irresponsible if I did not spend considerable energy letting you know the details.
Yesterday I covered the summer plans for Shakespeare and Company. But in doing my research, I ran into a website called "Berkshire on Stage" which essentially does much of my work for me. In that particular post, blogger Larry Murray was touting the line-up at Barrington Stage Company this summer.
But I noticed his blog several days ago which presents an overview of the summer. Since "going viral" is the dream of every blog, I am sure Larry will not mind if I lift directly from his post and share his research and opinions:
A Berkshire First-Timer Primer
You don’t need a theatre ticket to soak up the food, natural beauty, history, night life and fabulousness of the Berkshires during the summer. The Berkshires have plenty to offer, and are not only family friendly, but also nature friendly, gay friendly, pet friendly, vegan friendly and meditation friendly. In fact, the rural diversity of the area is surprisingly welcoming to all – both urbane and down to earth at the same time, a winning combination. There is no app for it. You have to come here to experience it.
Many who visit remark on the less frantic change of pace, one which lends itself for the one thing that distinguishes the area above all others, its wealth of arts offerings. Mention the Berkshires and most people automatically think of Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, when they think of this area. Or Jacob’s Pillow, the magnet for dance in America. And lately the Solid Sound Festival and Chicago’s Wilco at the mammoth Mass MoCA museum.
But quietly the Berkshires has become a buzz word among a new crowd, the serious theatre-goer. Not that theatre is new to the Berkshires, all of our companies have distinguished histories. But lately they have been creeping into the national news as the companies have been flourishing, expanding, and drawing ever-bigger crowds.
Once the theaters were thought to be for the summer crowd, but then , the locals discovered them too. These days you’ll find more residents than ever in the lines to get tickets for the really hot shows.
And local audiences can be tough audiences to please. They set the bar pretty high. Perhaps that is because the year-rounders, who endure the bitter cold winters, are hardy old souls, but once engaged by a play or musical, their hearts can melt like snowflakes under the spring sun. It happens a lot, and it is wonderful to see their smiles and hear their laughter. Makes living here year round even more enjoyable.
The Four Major Theatres and their Ten Stages
Located on the hilly and mountainous Western edge of Massachusetts, Berkshire County has a modest population of 130,000 hardy souls who benefit from being just a few hours from the bright lights of Broadway. In fact, many New Yorkers consider the Berkshires their summer hideaway, including dozens of performers, directors and playwrights. Even Bostonians, with their nearby siren call of Cape Cod are heading West to revisit the sometimes forgotten treasures of their own home state. I would gladly sign a petition to change the nickname from the Bay State to the Cultural State.
The four resident professional theatre companies contribute ten of the Berkshires’s two dozen stages to the culture count, with the balance at Tanglewood, the Pillow and three “presenting” organizations talked about below. And just behind this lineup are many more organizations who keep the Berkshires hopping from January to December.
Berkshire Theatre Festival (BTF) of Stockbridge and Pittsfield
The BTF is the granddaddy of the theatre companies, having been founded in 1928 and operating continuously since then, with the exception of 1942-45 which were the years when America fought WWII. Their main stage is a repurposed old casino which was dragged by oxen from Main Street Stockbridge, MA and has seen America’s greatest actors on its stage. It holds about 400 people. It is just a short drive from the famed Norman Rockwell Museum.
This summer the Fitzpatrick Main Stage will host Sylvia by A.R. Gurney, Period of Adjustment by Tennessee Williams, and the world premiere of In the Mood by Kathleen Clark.
The smaller Unicorn theatre only holds about 120, so every seat is close to the stage and because of its stadium seating angles, has excellent sight lines. Moonchildren will open the season there, followed by Dutch Masters and Finian’s Rainbow. Two plays will get world premieres at the Unicorn – the aforementioned Dutch Masters by Greg Keller and Birthday Boy by Chris Newbound.
The BTF recently merged with the Colonial Theatre and will share programming back and forth with it for the first time this summer. Thus three stages will be lit by this company.
The Colonial Theatre has its own extensive calendar of events and provides state of the art technical and production support for musicals and large dramas, like A Christmas Carol, while the Unicorn is being viewed as an ideal location for cabaret and jazz offerings, as well as solo performers.
Shakespeare & Company in Lenox
Also with three theaters, ShakesCo offers its usual mix of classics and contemporary plays in its 33rd Season. When not bringing Shakespeare back to life, they offer hilarious comedy and farce. So the Founder’s Theatre is where you will find the doomed lovers Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It, but their main house will also welcome the return of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a hilarious sendup of all things Conan Doyle with breakneck costume changes and cross-dressing spoofery.
The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre is a smaller “flex space” where crowds will flock to see Red Hot Patriot: the Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivans alternating with two other shows. The outdoor Rose Footprint Theatre is a destination for families, and this year the commedia dell’arte includes The Venetian Twins and the brand new Everyman/EveryActor.
Also on their bill of fare are The 39 Steps, The Learned Ladies and Women of Will with Tina Packer.
Barrington Stage Company (BSC)
The ingenue in our cast of great theaters is the Barrington Stage Company, founded just fifteen years ago by Julianne Boyd, and attracting nationwide attention for its excellent work. It has already sent several shows to Broadway, including William Finn’s 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Whipping Man and Freud’s Last Session. With a special knack for musicals, this summer includes the evergreen Guys and Dolls and The Game on the Main Stage. Also on the main stage is the premiere of Mark St. Germain’s The Best of Enemies. Stage 2 will host the premiere of the musical Mormons, Mothers and Monsters as well as Going to St. Ives, My Name is Asher Lev and Zero Hour, a one man show about Zero Mostel.
Their youth company also attracts numerous fans, this year presenting All Shook Up, a celebration of Elvis Presley at St. Joseph High School plus another location TBA.
At several points during the summer they will have three stages lit at the same time. And in October they will present a staged version of Lord of the Flies.
Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF)
While the first three companies are year-round residents and offer programming in the September-May slot, the WTF is only able to perform during the summer when it avails itself of two new theaters at Williams College. In essence it was a company begun 56 years ago by the college, and its friends, and it has grown and prospered as a visionary company with impeccable quality.
Two classic plays will light the Main Stage at the 62 Center this year: George S. Kaufman’s You Can’t Take it With You and Oliver Goldsmith’s rowdy comedy, She Stoops to Conquer. Closing the main stage season will be the Revue-sical Ten Cents A Dance, celebrating the music of Rodgers and Hart.
The recently announced Nikos Theatre season is one in which two classics, A Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll’s House can be seen in the intimate confines of this smaller theatre, as well as several new works, Lewis Black’s One Slight Hitch, the East Coast Premiere of Bess Wohl’s Touch(ed), and The Civilians’ production of You Better Sit Down: tales from my parents’ divorce.
Other Berkshire Venues
You will find a trio of “presenting” theaters in the Berkshires as well. Down south, in Great Barrington is another glorious restored theatre, The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, whose marquee will feature names like Joan Rivers, Paul Taylor Dance Company, The Wailers, Peter Yarrow and soprano Deborah Voigt.
At Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre there is not only The Who’s Tommy, but Tommy Tune and Tom Paxton plus far too many others to detail here.
In North Adams the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts has more than visual appeal, it has the Hunter Center performing space and Club B-10 for cabaret sized offerings. During the summer it also schedules things outdoors, from their walk-in open-air cinema to the multiple stages and excitement of the Solid Sound Festival featuring Chicago rockers Wilco. They also play host to the Bang on a Can week long contemporary music festival.
With three stages, Jacob’s Pillow is the place to be if you love dance. The array of dance offerings is breathtaking. The Ted Shawn Theatre is their main stage, where dance companies from around the world show off their latest works. In the Doris Duke Studio Theatre, emerging companies, and those who are working on complicated new pieces allow audiences a preview of what will soon be hot, and what might not.
Families love the Inside/Out stage and its free late afternoon performances most summer days. Set in the open air in the woods, the stage is being completely rebuild for 2011 and offers both samples of the companies performing there, and showcases the students at its school. The quality is high, the experience magical.
The BSO’s summer home is the place that began it all in the Berkshires. SInce 1936 the small orchestra encampment has grown, with the famous Shed also playing host to such well known artists as James Taylor, though this year he will be performing in the more intimate Ozawa Hall. There is also a theatre where opera and other staged works can be performed. It took us four articles to detail everything happening there.
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four
The great lawn, meticulously maintained, offers concert-goers the delightful experience of a picnic with live classical music, overlooking the beautiful Stockbridge Bowl. The only question on some people’s minds is whether the BSO’s Music Director, James Levine, who has been struggling with back problems, will be able to fulfill his scheduled performances. Even so, the BSO has one of the most impressive rosters of alternate conductors I have ever seen, so while missing the maestro might be a disappointment, the joy of discovering a fresh and upcoming conductor makes the gamble irresistible.
Tanglewood remains the Berkshires best known attraction, but the crowds who are arriving for other events are – in aggregate – beginning to outnumber those of the reigning diva for the first time. These new audiences are younger, more adventurous and who knows, they may take a night off from theatre to take in a concert. Now that would be a switch to the conventional thinking, wouldn’t it.
With so much on the calendar, the Berkshires offer as much culture in the summer as you will find in most major cities, and in an idyllic setting that still is pretty tough to top.
Shakespeare & Company, in its 33rd year, and located a block from Hampton Terrace, has announced its 2011 Schedule, and tickets ARE ON SALE. To buy on-line: TICKET CALENDAR
SEE THEIR WEBSITE:
SEE THEIR ON-LINE BROCHURE:
They have three premieres on the boards this summer with Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, The Hollow Crown, and Everyman/EveryActor, along with two of Shakespeare's best loved tales, As You Like It and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Due to popular demand, they're bringing back the side-splittingly funny The Hound of the Baskervilles and Tina Packer's expanded, five-part version of her spectacular Women of Will masterpiece titled Women of Will, The Complete Journey: Parts I-V.
In the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, they're presenting one of our finest casts in The Memory of Water, a beautiful story that's both funny and profound. They're also hosting the New England premiere of Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins by Margaret and Allison Engel. Tina Packer tackles one of America's most outrageous political voices in this hilarious one-woman show. And, of course, the EBT season wouldn't be complete without our highly successful Lunch Box Shakespeare featuring their very talented Performance Intern Company in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Founders' Theatre is set to bustle with sword fights, soaring poetry, and complex characters that have stood the test of time. With Daniela Varon at the helm of Romeo and Juliet, this production will set the standard for many years to come. Taking place in Paris after The Great War, my As You Like It brings music, dance, and song to this delightful comedy of true romance—a perfect complement to any summer's day or eve.
Our outdoor Rose Footprint Theatre includes the hysterical The Venetian Twins (a brilliant example of commedia dell'arte by Goldoni), the world-premiere of Everyman/EveryActor, and a cornucopia of lectures, tours, FREE theatre, cabarets, and special events for you and your family to enjoy.
CLICK TO CHECK HAMPTON TERRACE AVAILABILITY.
...."It was the first of December, all covered in snow..." Those words from James Taylor will forever bring me back to your place and the wonderful, warm time spent there. We arrived in the Fall (Nov. 30), when I awoke the next morning from a very restful sleep and looked out my balcony window, I knew the beauty James sings about. Quiet, white, home...the Berkshires did seem dreamlike on account of that frosting! The entire stay from beginning to end was full of wonderful images enhanced by your family's warmth and hospitality.
The ride back to New York City with Peter Reigert and Ylva Edlestein was dominated with talk about how we all felt we had just experienced a very special, magical few days, thanks in large part to your generosity. That is saying something coming from a bunch of jaded actors.
This thank you note from Ray arrived one day, along with this photo, taken from the front window of the Bonner Room.
Recognize Ray Abruzzo? Of course you do.....one of those faces that seems to be all over television: Well, tonight he is on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Probably best known as "Little Carmine" on The Sopranos, he has also had leading roles in House MD, NCIS, Boston Legal, Shark, Bones, Murder 101, CSI NY, Law & Order, The Practice, Touched by an Angel, NYPD Blue, Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote, Doogie Howser, Night Court, Dynasty, L.A. Law, 21 Jump Street, Trapper John MD, Riptide and Falcon Crest.
He also starred in the movie, House of Sand and Fog.
So you think you've seen him?
Ray spent a long weekend here, with several other actors, while appearing at Shakespeare & Company in a reading of David Black's "An Impossible Life." The thing about Ray...and other actors we have hosted here...is that without exception, these people are humble, unassuming, and appreciative. They are workers.....they just work in front of a camera, or on a stage, rather than driving nails or selling insurance.
The highlight of the weekend was the party that S&Co threw at Hampton Terrace after the performance.
Wow. Over a hundred people here from 11 pm on....open bar...desserts, fireplaces going. Locals and famous actors mingling. That is worthy of a blog in itself! Stay tuned!
Facebook is wonderful. I resisted at first...even canceled my account at one point...but now that I am connected to hundreds of friends and fans, new stuff is hitting my radar daily.
Kevin Sprague has always been my friend, but as of last week, he is a Facebook friend, and I am getting daily revelations from him.
As owner of Studio Two in Lenox, Kevin does website, publication work, photography and marketing for many of the arts groups in the Berkshires. I think that is the tip of the iceberg actually. He is also on the boards of many organizations, including several with me.
I guess he is best known for creating the public face of Shakespeare & Company with photograph collages that have graced all of their posters and programs for a decade.
He is also on the Board of the Berkshire Creative Economy, and in this capacity, I assume, he has taken on the project (probably gratis, knowing him) of making theater-going in the Berkshires easier to wrap your arms around.
He has created a website called: http://berkshiretheaters.com
There are thirteen stages listed, and the home page is quite concise: What is COMING UP. And there is a tab for THIS WEEK and THIS MONTH. Simple clicks for "read more" and "buy tickets" for each show.
This is a great idea. At Hampton Terrace we are always asked "what is going on this weekend?," or even "is there any theater th weekend of June 6th when we will be there?" Problem solved.
Berkshire theaters are world-class. I mean really world-class. Both the Berkshire Theatre Festival and Williamstown Theatre Festivals have won Tony's for "Best Regional Theater." Barrington Stage Company won two Tony's for "Putnam County Spelling Bee," which started as an improv workshop and found its way to Broadway literally the next year. Shakespeare & Company has been around 30+ years doing nationally recognized productions, many having nothing to do with actual Shakespeare. The Colonial and Mahaiwe Theaters book national touring companies and performers.
Last night we were fortunate to be invited by our friend, Elizabeth Aspenlieder, to the premier of "Les Liasons Dangereuses" at Shakespeare & Company, located just two blocks from us. She was playing the lead role, Marquise de Merteuil, in what has become a theater classic.
Beside being a wonderful and intimate production (no different than other quality offerings from this well-established presenter) we were reminded how lucky we are in the Berkshires. And I speak not only as someone who lives here, but also from the point of view of our visitors. In a pre-show welcome, director (and founder of Shakespeare & Company) Tina Packer offered that a mid-winter presentation was S&Co’s contribution to the effort to turn the Berkshires into a four-season cultural destination. This is a fully costumed production of 12 actors. Not a low-risk proposition.
That is not to say that we have not always attracted skiers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those who enjoy a nice inn with fireplaces. But to offer theater such as this, on cold winter weekends, is to up the ante with all those who want to grow the "Berkshire Creative Economy."
It is our pleasure and obligation to help make that effort pay. So if you are considering a trip to the Berkshires between now and March 21, know that you have four opportunities to see "Les Liasons Dangereuses" per weekend: 2 evening performances and 2 matinee performances. Tickets are available for $12 to $48 by calling 413-637-3353, or by going to Shakespeare & Company.
And consider a stay at Hampton Terrace. Our Romantic Weekend Package applies…which includes a $30 gift certificate to the local wine/gourmet food shop in town. Imagine a glass of wine and some cheese in front of our living room fireplace, and then an evening immersion with scheming 18th century aristocrats. That is what we did last night.