By Bill Marx
Summer has never been a time for theaters taking chances and the sluggish economy only encourages the hot weather drift to safety. But there’s some funky activity around the margins as well as encouraging news about Shakespeare & Company’s finances. Also, the Gloucester Stage Company has forsaken last year’s geriatric lineup and is moving in a livelier and fresher direction.
1: Women of Will, written and performed by Tina Packer. Presented by Shakespeare & Company at the Founders’ Theatre, Lenox, MA, through July 24. The American premiere of Packer’s “40-odd years of deep investigation into all things Shakespeare.” Shakespeare & Company favorite Nigel Gore and Packer “present a series of scenes from Shakespeare’s canon, providing insight into the chronological growth of Shakespeare’s portrayal not only of female characters but of the qualities traditionally considered feminine.”
2: Colorado by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. Directed by Brendan Hughes. Presented by the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater at the Harbor Stage, Wellfleet, MA, June 3 though July 3. The New England premiere of a “sharp, dark” satire about a dysfunctional American family and the forces that keep it from realizing its dreams.
3: Comin’ Home to Indiana, an alternative musical epic. Staged by the ismailLites at the Third Life Studio, Somerville MA, at 8 p.m. on June 4 and 5. For reservations email: firstname.lastname@example.org. An intriguing-sounding satiric evening, a send-up of American history that is made up of “22 songs tracing the forgotten history of the Tribe of Ishmael, a tri-racial nomadic population of mostly Scots-Irish, mixed with some Native Americans and escaped slaves.” Who are the ismailLItes? “In the 19th century, a gypsy-like tribe roamed Indiana and other states of the Midwest. Known for music and dancing—but despised by main-street society—the so-called “Tribe of Ishmael” was ultimately broken up by authorities, and the clans disappeared.”
4: Before I Leave You by Rosanna Alfaro. Directed by Daniel Gidron. A staged reading at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA, on June 7 at 7 p.m. Free. Veteran playwright Alfaro gives her latest script an airing, with some impressive local actors lending support, including Ken Baltin, Kippy Goldfarb, Debra Wise, Michael Tow, and Julian Silver.
5: Table Manners by Alan Ayckbourn. Directed by Eric C. Engel. Presented by the Gloucester Stage Company, East Main Street, Gloucester, MA, June 17 through July 3. A revival of the first play in Aycbourn’s The Norman Conquests trilogy, which is set during a frenzied weekend in a country home in Sussex, England. Each play takes place in a difference room; Table Manners is set in the dining room. It will be interesting to look at this play in light of the melancholic turn the playwright’s work has taken over the past few years. When the 1973 script was first produced in the Boston area it was treated as a straight ahead farce. The cast features Steven Barkhimer, Lindsay Crouse, Jennie Israel, Richard Snee, and B. Adamson.
6: The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown. Directed by Anders Cato. Staged at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge, MA, June 22 through July 10. “A twist in time and a boldly contemporary score give fresh perspective to the classic boy-meets-girl tale.” The show opens the Main Stage season and claims to be “a moving portrait of two people fighting the universal struggle for love.”
7: The T Plays 2010 Presented by Mill 6 Collaborative at the Factory Theatre, Boston, MA, June 23 through 27. A return of an ‘insta-theater’ approach to that Mill 6 Collaborative used back in 2008. Here’s the set-up: “In 2008 Mill 6 brought you the first ever T Plays. This time we’ll present 7 World Premieres over 4 days (we’re including 2 bus lines). Chance will team up a playwright, director, actors, and a T line. The playwright will board the T knowing only the number of characters and the setting (the very T line they are on). At the end of the round trip they turn their freshly written script over to the director and actors. Three days later the shows go up! ” Audiences will vote on their favorites. Are you ready for Our T?
8: It’s Judy’s Show: My Life as a Sitcom by Judy Gold and Kate Moira Ryan. Original music by Judy Gold. Lyrics by Kate Moira Ryan and Judy Gold. Additional material by Eric Kornfeld and Bob Smith. Directed by Amanda Charlton. Presented by Williamstown Theatre Festival at the Nikos Stage, June 23 through July 4. A predictable boomer creation: a stage show that revolves around a nostalgic look at television. “Building on the success of her show 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, funny-woman Judy Gold returns to the stage in this hilarious look at her amazing life through the lens of the classic sitcoms of her youth.”
9: The Amorous Quarrel by Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin). Directed by Jenna Ware. Presented by Shakespeare & Company at the Rose Footprint Theatre, Lenox, MA, June 23 through August 28. An early Moliere comedy that was penned on “the cusp between the dozen years he spent touring the countryside with unbridled farces and the wicked social satires with which he’d soon set Paris astir.” No word on the Shakespeare & Company web page about the translation that is being used.
10: Sophie Tucker: The Last of The Red Hot Mamas by Jack Fournier and Kathy Halenda. Staged by The New Repertory Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in the Charles Mosesian Theater, Watertown, MA, June 26 through July 11. A music revue that pays homage to a vaudeville performer who, during a career that spanned over seven decades, “found popularity and fame with self-parody and suggestive songs like “I’m the Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “You’ve Gotta See Your Mama,” as well as her signature number “Some of These Days.”’ Mary Callanan takes on the role of Sophie Tucker.