(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Folk-rock stars Graham Nash, Art Garfunkel, and Don McLean from the 1960s and ‘70s, modern Broadway star Audra McDonald, bluegrass legends Del McCoury and David Grisman, and neo-lounge act Pink Martini top the list of guest artists taking the stage at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center from July through the end of the year. In addition, Stockbridge native and superstar rock ‘n’ roll drummer Kenny Aronoff will deliver a motivational talk, and Mahaiwe regulars Paul Taylor Dance Company and John Pizzarelli, the latter in a tribute to Frank Sinatra, will make return engagements. The world-renowned alternative Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, based in Hudson, N.Y., will also appear. The Mahaiwe will also continue its National Theatre in HD series, which this year features “Hamlet” starring Academy Award-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, best known for his portrayal as Sherlock Holmes in the TV series “Sherlock.” Tickets to the newly announced summer and fall shows go on sale to Mahaiwe members on Thursday, April 16, at noon and on sale to the public on Wednesday, April 22, at noon.
The Mahaiwe stage will also play host to Aston Magna Music Festival, Berkshire Bach Society, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Boston Early Music Festival, Clark Art Institute, Close Encounters with Music, Fairview Hospital Gala with Rita Rudner, Heather Fisch’s Opera Nouveau, Tom Gold Dance, Shakespeare & Company, and Noche Flamenca.
The world-renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company, which has been rechristened Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, will return to the Mahaiwe for its eighth consecutive summer with performances on Thursday, July 9 at 8pm, Friday, July 10 at 8pm, Saturday, July 11 at 3pm and 8pm, and on Sunday, July 12 at 2pm. The diverse programs will feature Paul Taylor masterworks from various eras, including “Company B” (1991, music by the Andrews Sisters), “Eventide” (1997, music by Ralph Vaughan Williams), “Esplanade” (1975, music by Johann Sebastian Bach), “Diggity” (1978, commissioned score by Donald York), “Piazzolla Caldera” (1997, music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky), and “Promethean Fire” (2002, music by J.S. Bach, orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski).
Pink Martini will swing into Great Barrington on Monday, July 13 at 8pm. The Portland, Oregon-based “little orchestra” offers a multilingual musical travelogue from samba in Rio to cabaret music in Paris. The group draws on diverse influences to weave a seamless musical fabric that defies immediate classification, but has been lauded by critics throughout the world for its international flavor and ability to entertain. First attaining recognition during the lounge music revival of the mid- and late-1990s as exemplified by such acts as the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and bands of that ilk, Pink Martini sought a wider variety of styles, from Japanese torch songs to Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.” According to the group’s musical leader, Thomas Lauderdale, “Pink Martini is like a romantic Hollywood musical of the 1940s or 50s—but with a global perspective which is modern,” he wrote on the band’s official website. “We bring melodies and rhythms from different parts of the world together.” Pink Martini performs its repertoire on concert stages throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and Australia.
Don McLean, who is forever associated with his classic hits “American Pie” and “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night),” will perform on Saturday, August 8 at 8pm. Since first hitting the charts in 1971, McLean has amassed over 40 gold and platinum records world-wide and, in 2004, was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. His songs have been recorded by artists from every musical genre, most notably Madonna’s No. 1 recording of “American Pie” in 2000 and George Michael’s version of “The Grave” in 2003, sung in protest at the Iraq War. In 2007, he shared his life story in Alan Howard’s biography, The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Songs. His manuscript for “American Pie” recently went up for auction at Christie’s and sold for $1.2 million.
The Mahaiwe will present Free Fun Friday, sponsored by Highland Street Foundation, on Friday, August 14 from 10am to 4pm. The event will feature four multi-talented performers from Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, who will walk on stilts, juggle, unicycle, and clown around both inside and outside of the theater. Bindlestiff has performed on stages and festivals around the world, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall (NYC), Glastonbury (UK), Burning Man (NV), Ruigoord (NL), Bonnaroo (TN), and in the Caribbean Seas. Admission is free.
On Saturday, August 15 at 8pm, the Mahaiwe will present an evening with legendary singer-songwriter Graham Nash, whose songs defined a generation and helped shape the history of rock and roll. He’s written over 200 songs, including such classic hits as “Carrie Anne,” “On A Carousel,” “Simple Man,” “Our House,” “Marrakesh Express,” and “Teach Your Children.” He is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee — with the Hollies and with Crosby, Stills, and Nash. He was also inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame twice, as a solo artist and with CSN, and he is a Grammy Award winner as well. Nash’s passionate voice continues to be heard in support of peace, and social and environmental justices. The No Nukes/Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concerts he organized with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt in 1979 remain seminal benefit events. In 2011, he was instrumental in bringing MUSE back to the forefront with a concert to benefit Japan disaster relief and groups promoting non-nuclear energy worldwide.
Berkshire native rock star drummer Kenny Aronoff will return home on Sunday, August 23 at 7pm to talk about his strategies for a successful life and career, and share insights from his performances with the biggest musicians, for four presidents, at the Kennedy Center Honors and in the biggest stadiums around the world. He first saw Hard Day’s Night at the Mahaiwe in 1964, and 50 years later performed with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on “The Night that Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles.”
The Mahaiwe’s 10th Anniversary Gala on Sunday, October 11 will star singer and actress Audra McDonald. It will honor Felda and Dena Hardymon, who provided invaluable advice, encouragement, and extraordinarily generous support to the Mahaiwe’s development and growth. McDonald won her first Tony Award a year after graduating from Juilliard. Five Tonys later, she has released five solo albums, received two Grammy Awards, and established herself as a dramatic actress in films and television.
Del McCoury and David Grisman will perform a concert as “Del and Dawg” on Saturday, November 7 at 8pm, celebrating the nearly 50-year bluegrass friendship that these two legendary musicians have shared. McCoury met Grisman at the first show he ever played (on banjo) with Bill Monroe in the spring of 1963 at New York University in Greenwich Village. Three years later, the duo played their first gig together in Troy, N.Y., at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They both celebrated the arrival of first-born sons, Monroe Grisman and Ronnie McCoury, within a month of each other. Through the years, they have shared the stage at venues and festivals across the country and in 2012 released Hardcore Bluegrass, a unique collection of bluegrass classics, made at two Dawg studio jam sessions in the 1990s.
Grammy Award winner and pop-folk icon Art Garfunkel will perform on Saturday, November 14 at 8pm. He has made an indelible mark on the music world as both a solo artist and half of the unrivaled Simon & Garfunkel. A Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member and Diamond selling artist, he has also enjoyed a successful film career, published a book of poetry, and released 12 original solo albums, the most recent being Some Enchanted Evening in 2007.
On Saturday, December 19 at 8pm, jazz guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli will honor Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday with his “Swing 7 Frank Sinatra Centennial Celebration” concert. Pizzarelli has had a multi-faceted career as a jazz guitarist, vocalist, and bandleader. Internationally known for classic standards, late-night ballads, and the cool jazz flavor he brings to his performances and recordings, he has recently established himself as the consummate entertainer and radio program host with the launch of “Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli,” a nationally syndicated radio program co-hosted with his wife, Broadway star Jessica Molaskey. He is among the premier contemporary interpreters of the great American songbook, bringing to the work his signature style and brilliant guitar playing.
London’s National Theatre in HD Broadcasts and Movies
On Thursday, July 16 at 7pm, the Mahaiwe will broadcast London’s National Theatre in HD production of Everyman adapted by Carol Ann Duffy. Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) takes the title role in this dynamic new production of one of English drama’s oldest plays, directed by the National Theatre’s new Director Rufus Norris. One of the great primal, spiritual myths, Everyman asks whether it is only in death that we can understand our lives. A cornerstone of English drama since the 15th century, it now explodes onto the stage in a startling production with words by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, and movement by Javier De Frutos.
The Mahaiwe will present three broadcasts of London’s National Theatre in HD production of “Hamlet” with Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch on Thursday, October 15 at 7pm, Sunday, October 18 at 3pm (encore), and Saturday, November 21 at 7pm (encore). Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock, The Imitation Game, Frankenstein at the National Theatre) takes on the title role of Shakespeare’s great tragedy. Directed by Lyndsey Turner (Posh, Chimerica) and produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, National Theatre Live will broadcast this eagerly awaited production live to cinemas. As a country arms itself for war, a family tears itself apart. Forced to avenge his father’s death but paralyzed by the task ahead, Hamlet rages against the impossibility of his predicament, threatening both his sanity and the security of the state.
Mahaiwe will present its annual Thanksgiving screenings of The Wizard of Oz (1939) on Saturday, November 28 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm.Tickets are $7. Mahaiwe Movies are sponsored by Don Buchwald & Associates.
South County Stories
The Mahaiwe is working with numerous community partners and several local teaching artists to create South County Stories: community narratives developed into a theatrical format of short plays. These plays will be cast with community members and performed in Great Barrington later this summer. The series plans to explore the working history of the southern Berkshires, share family hopes and memories across generations, and celebrate the community’s heritage during this process and with these performances.
Cornerstone Theater Storytelling is the model, created by a theater company based in LA that has collaborated with communities across the country for almost 30 years. This project will incorporate as many different voices as possible, and there will be preliminary readings of the plays before they’re performed to make sure that the works ring true.
The Mahaiwe is partnering with Housatonic Heritage, the Great Barrington Historical Society, Berkshire Grown, and the Sheffield Land Trust, and WAM Theatre on this program. South County Stories is sponsored by Salisbury Trust Wealth Advisory Services, and funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Tickets to the newly announced summer and fall shows go on sale to Mahaiwe members on Thursday, April 16, at noon and on sale to the public on Wednesday, April 22, at noon. A limited number of $15 tickets to each live performance are available for audience members ages 30 and younger through the Mahaiwe ArtSmart Tix program, sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union. The Mahaiwe is located at 14 Castle Street in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6pm and three hours before show times.