REVIEW: Musical spoof treads lightly through rock and religion

Altar Boyz/ Theater Barn

IF THE WHOLE IDEA of a religious rock concert makes you gag, worry not. The songs of “Altar Boyz” have the thump, electronic twang and almost enough decibels for rock, but you can actually understand lyrics (mostly sassy and clever) and also preserve your ears for future use.

Most of the time you may be uncertain whether the show’s point of view is anti-Christian satire in sheep’s clothing or youth-drenched, energetic evangelism. Reverence is not much in evidence, yet the sunshiny delivery of five very talented actors is likely to appease believers. Innocence abounds with the sass. The boyz often seem as if they are 25 going on 5. That may sound awful, but it’s actually rather charming. In any case, atheist and believer will each have something to nibble on. Read more…

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.

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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.

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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.

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