Tuesday, June 25, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: ‘Ann’ moves to Dallas, Washington, D.C.; ch’CHUNK at Dewey Hall; ‘Rip Van Winkle: The Musical’; Amplify 2019 auditions; BagShare Project in Pittsfield;

The BagShare Project uses volunteer labor to create durable shopping bags out of materials that would otherwise be burned or buried.

‘Ann’ starring Jayne Atkinson to be presented in Washington, D.C. and Dallas

Lenox — After the success of WAM Theatre’s fall 2018 production of “Ann” by Holland Taylor, WAM has announced that Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and Dallas Theater Center will present a new co-production of “Ann” in July and October of this year. WAM artistic director Kristen van Ginhoven will again direct the production, and Jayne Atkinson will return to star in the title role.

A one-woman tour-de-force, “Ann” is a spirited portrait of legendary Texas Gov. Ann Richards that brings the audience face to face with Richards’ complex, colorful and captivating character. Ticket sales for WAM’s 2018 co-production of “Ann” with the Dorset Theatre Festival broke all of its box office records.

Said Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith: “We at Arena are excited about this co-production and bringing Jayne Atkinson’s fantastic portrayal of Governor Richards, along with Kristen van Ginhoven’s wonderful direction, to Washington DC.  There really is no better place for a play about a strong woman politician.  We’re tossing rocks at that glass ceiling! And reminding our audiences of those who went before.”

The original design team of scenic designer Juliana von Haubrich, lighting designer Andi Lyons, sound designer M. L. Dogg, costume designer Jess Goldstein and wig designer Paul Huntley will return to design the co-production. The production will run July 11-Aug. 11 at Arena Stage and Oct. 15-Nov. 10 in Dallas.


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ch’CHUNK! Photo courtesy Oldtone Native

Dewey Hall to host swing dancing with ch’CHUNK!

Sheffield — Oldtone Native will present a night of swing dancing Friday, March 15, at Dewey Hall, beginning with a lesson with Jason Fenton at 8 p.m. Dancing to live music from ch’CHUNK! will begin at 9 p.m.

Western Massachusetts-based ch’CHUNK! performs classic swing as well as original tunes. The band’s name was derived from the sound and type of strumming associated with various types of swing music. The band’s members are Jack Dwyer on guitar and vocals, Ian Hamel on tenor guitar and vocals, Hannah Elliot on clarinet and vocals, Karim Sumun on bass guitar, Chris Trevethan on drums and washboard, and Jim Rutter on tenor banjo and mandolin.

The cost is a sliding-fee scale of $10–$20. Beginners are welcome and partners are not necessary. For more information, contact (413) 429-1176 or beth@oldtonemusicfestival.com.


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Abigail Dodge as Dame Van Winkle and Joshua Shakeshaft as Rip Van Winkle rehearse for the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society production of ‘Rip Van Winkle: The Musical. Photo courtesy Housatonic Musical Theatre Society

Housatonic Musical Theatre Society to stage ‘Rip Van Winkle: The Musical’

Falls Village, Conn. — The Housatonic Musical Theatre Society will present “Rip Van Winkle: The Musical” Thursday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, March 16, at 2 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m. in the Henry Burgess Auditorium at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.

Set against the backdrop of Colonial America, “Rip Van Winkle: The Musical” shares the untold story of Washington Irving’s legendary farmer who slept for 20 years. The original musical was created by Michael Berkeley and Ray Roderick, with music and lyrics by Michael Berkeley. Produced and assistant directed by Lori Belter, with direction and music direction by Michael Berkeley, choreography by Amber Cameron and drama coaching by Betsy Howie, the production includes 45 students on- and offstage from HVRHS and the Region One elementary schools, accompanied by a live orchestra.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children and seniors. Special $5 balcony tickets will be available at the door Friday, March 15. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact Housatonic Musical Theatre Society at hmtsCT@gmail.com.


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Student participants in Music in Common’s Amplify 2018 program. Photo: Lee Everett

Music in Common opens auditions for Amplify 2019

Sheffield — Music in Common has announced open auditions for its two-week residential program and performances, Amplify 2019, which will take place from Sunday, July 7, through Monday, July 22, at Berkshire School. High school- and college-aged musicians can apply online by Friday, March 15. Selections are based on applicants’ skill level and artistic merit, as well as the musical needs of the program.

Amplify participants have the opportunity to work with professional musicians and producers to learn, rehearse and perform in concert songs written by youth from around the world in the Music in Common JAMMS (Journalism as Music, Multimedia, and Songwriting) program, an experiential learning and cultural immersion program that deepens understanding between diverse groups of people and communities in conflict through dialogue and creative collaboration. Open to students regardless of musical skill or training, participants write and record a song together as a group and produce a video that addresses an issue important to them. To date, nearly 50 JAMMS songs have been written and recorded.

Amplify 2019 will be led by Music in Common founder and executive director Todd Mack, and Music in Common program director Marisa Massery.

For more information, contact Marisa Massery at (413) 248-6070 or marisa@musicincommon.org.


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Tyler Street Lab to bring BagShare Project to Pittsfield

Pittsfield — The Tyler Street Lab will host a BagShare Project workspace and training in April. The BagShare Project uses volunteer labor to create durable shopping bags out of materials that would otherwise be burned or buried. The residential community-run Tyler Street Lab is accepting donations of grain/feed bags, sewing machines and grommet machines, and will be setting up bins around Pittsfield to collect these materials.

The project is entirely community-run, working from donations of time and material. Those interested in volunteering their time, participating in the workshops, or donating materials or equipment, may contact Kate Lauzon at (413) 841-5841 or tylerstreetlab@gmail.com. A follow up email will be sent with the exact training dates.



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