Berkshire and Hudson Valley Cultural Preview (Jan 7-13, 2020)

The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include Punjabi party music, Mozart, theater, memoir … plus a whole lot more.


Sonny Singh (photo Cheryl Schiltz/courtesy artist)



On Saturday at 8pm, Sonny Singh, the vocalist and trumpeter who fronts the bhangra brass band Red Baraat, brings his own band to perform boundary-defying Punjabi anthems at MASS MoCA in North Adams. Backed by harmonium, electric guitar, tabla, and drums, Sonny Singh blends traditional Sikh music and Punjabi sounds with genres from across the globe. (January 8)




Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield presents the latest in Hershey Felder’s virtual Live From Florence film series, Mozart and Figaro in Vienna, beginning this Sunday at 8pm. The world first heard and saw The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna in 1786. This opera, considered by many to be the first and perhaps only perfect opera, was a collaboration between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte. Da Ponte was an Italian who was born Jewish, moved to Austria, became a Roman Catholic priest, and who finished out his life as a grocer in Pennsylvania and a book dealer in New York City. In the middle of all this, Da Ponte wrote the libretti for three of Mozart’s most celebrated operas, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. (January 9)



Melanie Greenberg (photo Hunter Canning/courtesy artist)



Melanie Greenberg’s one-woman show, The Elephant in the Room, reboots its run at the Apple Tree Inn in Lenox, Mass., tonight at 8 and will continue every Friday night throughout the month of January. The Elephant in The Room is the tale of a nice Jewish girl who goes on a psychedelic odyssey though Pentecostal churches, psych wards, the Ivy League and 12-step meetings that finally brings her closer to God, herself, and a resolution of intergenerational trauma. But funny. And with show tunes. (January 7)



Judy Staber and her new memoir (courtesy Spencertown Academy)



Judy Staber has long been a prominent figure in the region’s cultural scene. Staber returns to the Spencertown Academyin Spencertown, N.Y., where she served as executive director for many years, to celebrate the publication of her latest memoir, Rise Above It, Darling: The Story of Joan White – Actor, Director, Teacher, Producer and (sometimes) Mother. Joan White, also known as Judy Staber’s mother, was a well-known actress and teacher in the 20th century theatre world, and once served as artistic director of Berkshire Theatre Festival. Staber will read from her new book, take questions, and sign copies, on Saturday at 3:30. (Jan 8)



Dakota Johnson and Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter (courtesy Netflix)



And for those who prefer to stay in this weekend, warm and cozy and hopefully COVID-free, I highly recommend the new film, The Lost Daughter, starring Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and screening on Netflix. Adapted by Gyllenhaal from a novel by Elena Ferrante, the film also features Jessie Buckley, Ed Harris, and Peter Sarsgaard. The film, which takes place on a Greek island, is a modest, quiet yet complex psychodrama that hits home. It revels in women of all ages, stations, backgrounds, and walks of life, and the choices they make for their families and themselves. It’s an astonishing directorial debut by Gyllenhaal, who may become one of the most important filmmakers of her generation. It also features an amazing performance by Olivia Colman, guaranteed to be in the running for the Best Actress Award when Oscar time rolls around. Jessie Buckley, who plays the younger version of Olivia Colman’s character in flashbacks, is also a revelation, and I’m looking forward to going back and watching some of her performances in film and TV that I may have missed.



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