Williamstown Theatre Festival's "Row" was designed to be seen at the reflecting pool at the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown. Photo: Joseph O’Malley and R. Masseo Davis

Williamstown Theatre Festival’s ‘Row’ on now at Clark Art Museum

This world-premiere musical tells the story of the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Williamstown Theatre Festival
Not a review

After several cancellations due to rain, I saw this world premiere musical last night. Barred by the theater from writing a review, the comments below are intended to aid audiences in enjoying the experience. I was told the show missed many rehearsals due to the weather and so was not ready be reviewed, but the ticket price is still around $90 per person. Based on the performance I saw, I believe the cast is absolutely ready to perform this show. Is it worth the price? I cannot say.

The show has been designed to be seen at the reflecting pool at the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, and is an outdoor experience. The show starts, officially, at 8 p.m. and runs for more than two hours getting, out at shortly after 10 p.m. It is performed in one lengthy act; use the restroom before it starts. The seats are metal chairs — not uncomfortable but tiring after such a long time.

Williamstown Theatre Festival’s “Row” at The Clark. Photo: Jackson Miles and Joseph O’Malley

What you should know before you go:

  1. Dress warmly. Northern Berkshire nights can become cold, even in August. Bring a sweater or jacket; wear a scarf. I don’t know how the 10-member cast survives each performance.
  2. There are no programs. Go online and print one for yourself so who you know who the characters are. Some are identified as Tina Turner, Cher, Dolly Parton, or Barbra Streisand. None of them sound like those stars.
  3. The sound is loud. Well amplified, a Foley artist controls what you hear. The eight musicians make a big sound and the singers do, as well.

This is a true story about Tori Murden, the first woman to row, solo, across the Atlantic Ocean. Some of what occurs takes place only in her mind. In one scene, she confronts Amelia (Earhart, but not identified as such in the program listings). It is one of several moving moments.

Playing in a water-based environment provides many unique opportunities for mirrored images, and they are beautiful. The lighting is special, designed by Jen Schriever, and also gives you visuals that surround the pool. It is more than half the physical beauty of the show and will make it a difficult for the show to move to another location.

“Row” will continue through August 15. For information and tickets, call the box office or visit the Williamstown Theatre Festival website.