BerkshireWeekend Cultural Preview, June 29-July 4, 2016

A highly selective preview of cultural events taking place this weekend in the greater Berkshire region, including a modern, jazzy take on Bach; contemporary dance; early music; classic Tennessee Williams; “Mountain Motown,” a rock legend performing a tribute to Frank Sinatra, plus a whole lot more.

 

Fantasque Puppets by Amy Tompetter (photo Jacques Luigi)

Fantasque Puppets by Amy Tompetter (photo Jacques Luigi)

BARD SUMMERSCAPE OPENS with DANCE AND THEATRE PREMIERES – AND PUPPETS

(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) – The Bard SummerScape Festival returns this week with the first of two world premieres. “Fantasque,” a major new commission for dance and puppetry that marks the first collaboration between two significant creative artists, opens the festival on Friday, July 1. Bard’s new ballet, geared to audiences of all ages, pairs original choreography from Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award-winner John Heginbotham, with puppetry and design by longstanding doyenne of the puppet theater world Amy Trompetter, set to the music of Respighi and Rossini (July 1–3).

Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (1917), four puppet plays by leading Italian Futurist Fortunato Depero, as newly rediscovered, translated, designed, and directed by Obie and Bessie Award-winning artist Dan Hurlin, begins its run on Thursday, July 7, with the first performance almost a full century after its creation. Hurlin’s production combines traditional bunraku puppetry techniques with state-of-the-art technology – from 3-D printing to sound sampling – and a live score by Tony Award-nominated composer/sound designer Dan Moses Schreier (July 7–17).

Both presentations take place in the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.

The opening week also brings cabaret from Isaac Mizrahi (July 1) and Mx. Justin Vivian Bond (July 2), plus live jazz from The Jazzmeia Horn Ensemble (July 7), in Bard’s Belgian Spiegeltent, where dining is available throughout SummerScape 2016.

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Jeremy Kittel Band

Jeremy Kittel Band

JEREMY KITTEL BAND OPENS PS21 SEASON with BACH

(CHATHAM, N.Y.) – PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century kicks off its summer 2016 performance series with the eleventh annual Paul Grunberg Memorial Bach Concert, featuring award-winning American violinist, fiddler, and composer Jeremy Kittel and his band in The Tent at PS21 on Saturday, July 2, at 7:30pm. Fluent in multiple musical genres, Kittel – formerly of the Turtle Island Quartet – composes music drawn from traditional roots, jazz, Celtic, classical, electronic, and other streams.

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Ghost Train TrumpeterGHOST TRAIN ORCHESTRA REVIVES SPEAKEASY-ERA JAZZ at MASS MoCA

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — Ghost Train Orchestra, which reimagines the wild jazz that came pouring out of speakeasies and cabarets of Chicago and New York City in the Prohibition years of the 1920s, forever changing the face of American music, entertains for dancing at the Dré Pavilion at MASS MoCA on Saturday, July 2, at 8pm. The 11-piece ensemble brings a  new spin on vintage jazz that modernizes a classic sound.

Drawing his influences from the musical greats of the 1920s, such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, bandleader and creator Brian Carpenter founded Ghost Train Orchestra in 2006 — the same year he was charged with producing an event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the historic Regent Theater in Boston.

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Simi Stone

Simi Stone

SIMI STONE BRINGS ‘MOUNTAIN MOTOWN’ to HELSINKI HUDSON

(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Woodstock soul-rock singer-songwriter Simi Stone brings her signature brand of “Mountain Motown” music and her all-star band to Helsinki Hudson on Friday, July 1, at 9pm. Stone’s bands includes musicians who have played with Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Gang of Four, B-52s, and Vernon Reid.

Simi Stone plays violin, guitar and percussion and boasts a huge, versatile voice. She reminds me of Diana Ross, although last time I saw her I closed my eyes and realized that who she really recalls is Jackson Five-era Michael Jackson, in the best possible way. She’s a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, in demand as a rock violinist, and her violin gives her self-described “Mountain Motown” sound her unique imprint. But she can also sling on a guitar and make that sing, or play various percussion instruments. Or, frankly, she can just shimmy across the stage unburdened by any instrument with the hot legs and sexy allure of Tina Turner. That works, too.

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

DON’T LOOK BACK: WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN BOB DYLAN PLAYS TANGLEWOOD

(LENOX, Mass.) – Consider yourselves warned. When you go to see Bob Dylan perform at Tanglewood on Saturday, July 2, you will be hearing almost no songs you associate with Bob Dylan. In fact, unless you’re a hardcore fan, you may only recognize one or two of the 20 songs he will probably play that night. All together, only four songs – 20 percent of the concert – were originally recorded by Dylan in the 20th century. Then again, it’s Bob Dylan, and some say they’d pay to hear him sing the telephone book.

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Todd Williams

Todd Williams

EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL FEATURES MOZART

(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y. and GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Aston Magna’s “Mozart’s Diversions” takes place Friday, July 1, at Bard College at 8pm and again on Saturday, July 2, at Simon’s Rock College at 6pm, with “A Musical Joke,” the Horn Quintet, and Divertimento, K. 287, featuring Todd Williams and Linda Dempf on natural horns and the Aston Magna string ensemble.

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Michael Raymond-James

Michael Raymond-James

‘CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF’ OPENS MAINSTAGE SEASON at BTG

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – The Tennessee Williams classic “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” about a Southern family’s web of emotional deceit, opens the summer season at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage at Berkshire Theatre Group, running through Saturday, July 16. The play is directed by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright David Auburn.

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Debra Jo Rupp

Debra Jo Rupp

DEBRA JO RUPP, TAMARA TUNIE TAKE LEADS at BARRINGTON STAGE

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – The summer theater season at Barrington Stage Company is fully underway, with Debra Jo Rupp in Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Kimberly Akimbo” and Tamara Tunie of TV’s “Law and Order” in the lead role of the world premiere of “American Son,” written by Christopher Demos-Brown and already winner of the prestigious Laurents/Hatcher Award for Best New Play of 2016.

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Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), "The Connoisseur," 1961. Oil on canvas mounted on board, 37 3/4" x 31 1/2". Cover illustration for "The Saturday Evening Post," January 13, 1962. Private collection. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “The Connoisseur,” 1961. Oil on canvas mounted on board, 37 3/4″ x 31 1/2″. Cover illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” January 13, 1962. Private collection. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

MUSEUM JUXTAPOSES ROCKWELLIAN REALISM with ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – For the first time ever, Norman Rockwell Museum will explore the contrast between the abstract and realist movements, placing works by Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, and Andy Warhol side by side with Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns, and over 40 other preeminent artists, including Walton Ford, Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler, Jeff Koons, Anita Kunz, Jacqui Morgan, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, Saul Steinberg, and Cy Twombly.

Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World,” on view through October 30, examines the forces that forged the mid-century dismissal of narrative painting and illustration, as well as the resurgence of realist painting during the latter half of the twentieth century, its presence and critical consideration today, and the ways in which our contemporary viewpoints have been shaped by post World War II constructs.

The exhibition’s official opening reception will take place on Thursday, July 14, at 6:30pm, and will include remarks from featured artists.

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Austin Lombardi

Austin Lombardi

‘FIORELLO!’ GETS REVIVAL at BTG’S UNICORN THEATRE

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – “Fiorello!,” the 1959 musical about New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who broke up the stranglehold so-called Tammany Hall had on New York City politics, is being revived by Berkshire Theatre Group at the Unicorn Theatre through Saturday, July 23. The winner of three Tony Awards, the musical, created by the legendary Broadway duo Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, is one of only nine to have also won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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