REVIEW: Acting, direction and script are ingredients for delectable ‘Taster’

“The Taster” by Joan Ackermann/ Directed by Tina Packer/ Shakespeare & Co.

SEE THIS PLAY, I urge you. The abundant pleasures of “The Taster” pile up at the Founders’ Theater in Lenox in a true feast. Earth-wisdom, human connection, imagination and play-cooking smarts are joyfully stirred together by playwright Joan Ackermann, director Tina Packer and some extraordinary actors.

It is about a man whose life’s work is to taste the food of a king before it is served to him. The king is one-fourth of the play’s two dysfunctional couples, one contemporary and one from the early 16th century. The couples are linked in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that they are played by the same actors.

Read more…

Annual Hudson Jazz Workshop and concert return

HUDSON–Hudson Jazzworks presents the 4th Annual Hudson Jazz Workshop at the Hudson Opera House, 327 Warren Street, Thursday, August 12 through Sunday August 15.

The intimate workshop provides a weekend immersion in jazz improvisational duo playing and composition with Armen Donelian and Marc Mommaas.

Sunday, August 15, at 3 p.m. guest Artist Jim McNeely will join the workshop faculty and participants in a concert of the students’ works-in-progress and performances by the faculty.

The Hudson Jazz Workshop is an international, intergenerational program, with individual and group instruction on the art of jazz improvisation, duo playing, technique, composition, harmony, accompaniment, rhythm and repertoire. Performance practicum (“jam”) sessions are held each evening.

Read more…

REVIEW: Complex exploration of era’s biggest crook debuts with its own back story

Imagining Madoff/Stageworks Hudson

IN CASE YOU LEFT the planet for a while after 2008, let me introduce Bernie Madoff, the “wealth management” mogul, who now resides in  prison for having bilked wealthy individuals, banks, unions, and  charitable organizations out of billions of dollars. The real-life Madoff is scheduled to be in there for 150 years or–you know.

What an idea for a play! Read more…

REVIEW: Characters shine in Christie classic

Spider’s Web/Theater Barn/New Lebanon

ABE PHELPS’ SET has intense, dark green walls and wainscoting dotted with red plush side chairs. It suggests right away that the evening may deliver impact along with familiar Agatha Christie comforts. And it does. Mostly.

For a while, audience brains are engaged in filing away the web data that rat-a-tats from the stage (no, not that kind of data–the spider’s kind–the plot kind). But eventually, under the care of charming Melissa Macleod Herion as Clarissa, endearing John Trainor as Sir Rowland and keen, importuning John Philip Cromie as the investigating officer, characters come shining through.

Read more…

REVIEW: ‘Our Town’ weaves its magic at PS/21

“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure,” says one of the characters in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” and the magical thing about seeing it under the Tent at PS/21 in Chatham is that, if you look up and to your right, there’s the moon in the sky. I don’t know what a potato moon looks like, but it should look like what the audience saw the other night during Walking the dog Theater’s exquisite production of the venerable play.

As the Stage Manager, David Anderson is our amiable guide through the lives, loves and deaths of the people of Grover’s Corners; part Greek chorus, part Godlike figure, he wanders about the stage commenting on the action, interviewing the characters, imparting words of wisdom. With minimal sets and virtually no props, the characters go about their daily lives in what may seem to us now to be an idealized version of a small American town at the turn of the 20th century. But there is a reason this play has endured through the generations; it speaks to universal truths in a folksy, accessible way while maintaining the pure poetry of its language. Read more…