Fran Platt presents a comprehensive survey of regional cultural events
Bard SummerScape, June 25-August 16, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson
Bard SummerScape brings topnotch performers in the fields of music – including classical, opera and cabaret – as well as theater, dance and cinema to the Bard College campus for seven weeks each summer. The extravaganza is organized around the Bard Music Festival, which each year examines the life, work and cultural milieu of a single composer through concerts of both orchestral and chamber music, pre-concert talks and panel discussions. This year’s focus will be on Carlos Chavéz (1899-1978), offering “The Musical Voice of Mexico,” from August 7 to 9 and “Mexico, Latin America and Modernism” from August 13 to 16.
Opening weekend at SummerScape always spotlights a world-class dance company, and this year Pam Tanowitz Dance will perform on June 27 and 28, accompanied by the Flux Quartet. SummerScape is renowned for dusting off rarely performed operas, and perhaps the most exciting event in this year’s lineup will be the very first full staging in America of Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers. Performances of the opera by the American Symphony Orchestra with guest vocalists will take place on July 24, 26, 29, 31 and August 2.
This year’s theatrical offering will be an inventive, interactive restaging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! performed in the round, with audience members seated at long tables to share food and song with the actors. Daniel Fish directs. There will be 25 performances between June 25 and July 19: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Thursday through Sunday evenings. Outdoors, Fernando Rubio’s performance/installation Everything by My Side will be presented from July 9 through 12.
“Reinventing Mexico,” a series of films related to the Bard Music Festival theme, will run on weekends from July 11 to August 2. And it wouldn’t be a Hudson Valley summer without a visit to the glorious Spiegeltent, with food, drink, late-night dancing and great cabaret acts throughout SummerScape’s run, including the B-52s’ Kate Pierson on August 8 and three “Harlem on the Hudson” evenings from the Catskill Jazz Factory.
Ticket prices for Bard SummerScape events typically range from $25 to $95 ($10 for film screenings). For full details on performers, programs, locations, dates, times and prices for all events, visit https://fishercenter.bard.edu/summerscape. Bard College is off River Road in Annandale-on-Hudson. 758-7900.
Powerhouse Theater, June 26-August 2, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie
Powerhouse Theater, a collaboration between Vassar and New York Stage and Film, presents stage works in various phases of development, from early stages of “workshopping” to full-blown productions. This is your chance to see the creative process in action, catching dramas and musicals by heavy-hitters in the field before they hit the Great White Way. Mainstage productions this season include the world premiere of Keith Bunin’s The Unbuilt City, directed by Tony nominee Sean Mathias, from July 1 to 12; and The Light Years, a project of the Debate Society, set at the 1893 and 1933 Chicago World’s Fairs, from July 23 to August 2.
There will be three Martel Musical Workshops at Powerhouse this summer: A musical adaptation by Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson of Somerset Maugham’s Rain, directed by Barry Edelstein (but with the casting for Sadie Thompson yet to be announced as of press time), will be performed July 10 through 12. From July 17 to 19, a musical based on the groundbreaking miscegenation case Loving V. Virginia by Marcus Gardley and Justin Ellington will be directed by Patricia McGregor. And July 31 to August 2 will see the unveiling of the latest project by Tony/Grammy-winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening, American Psycho), in collaboration with Kyle Jarrow and directed by Rachel Chavkin: Noir, about a reclusive apartment-dweller who becomes obsessed with eavesdropping on his neighbors.
Inside Look workshops at Powerhouse 2015 will include Desire, six new short plays based on Tennessee Williams stories by playwrights including Beth Henley and John Guare. Michael Wilson directs, and it runs from July 2 to 5. Anna Ziegler’s The Last Match, about a tennis confrontation between Russia and the US, will be presented from July 17 to 19, with Gaye Taylor Upchurch directing.
Tickets cost $40 to Mainstage productions, $30 to workshops, but the Powerhouse season also includes some free offerings. Reserve your seat by phone for the two annual readings festivals of plays in early stages of development, presented from June 26 to 28 and from July 31 to August 2. Or just show up for the outdoor performances of classics by the Powerhouse Apprentice Company: Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom from July 17 through 19 and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night July 10 through 12 and Much Ado about Nothing July 23 through 25.
For more information on specific performances, locations on campus, dates and times, or for tickets and reservations, call the Powerhouse box office at 437-5599 or visit https://powerhouse.vassar.edu/boxoffice.
Mount Tremper Arts Summer Festival, July 11-August 22, Mount Tremper
Contemporary dance, music, performance and spoken word are the areas of focus of the Summer Festival Mount Tremper Arts, bolstered by artsy barbecue nights. The schedule begins with camp, hosted by AUNTS and described as “a weeklong experiment in choreography, art, and collective living that culminates in live performance” on July 11.
On July 17 and 18, Skin Horse Theater’s Nat & Veronica present the world premiere of Clouds/Cows. On July 24 and 25, composer Dave Malloy and friends perform Ghost Quartet. Tom Chiu and the Flux Quartet perform the world premiere of Chiu’s Retrocon on July 31 and August 1.
From August 7 to 9, the International Contemporary Ensemble performs David Lang’s Whisper Opera. Playwright/director John Jahnke and Hotel Savant reinterpret Greek drama with Alas, the Nymphs August 14 and 15. Poets Tan Lin and Robert Fitterman read at the Pork and Poetry! Art-B-Q event on August 22.
Admission to most events costs $20. For more information or to order tickets, call 866-811-4111 or 688-9893 or visit https://mounttremperarts.org. Mount Tremper Arts is on South Plank Road in Mount Tremper.
Shadowland Theatre, May 29-September 27, Ellenville
This snazzily renovated old vaudeville venue in downtown Ellenville presents high-quality theatre productions year-round starring Actors Equity casts, often including famous names. Currently running through June 14 is Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’ Tony and Pulitzer-winning hommage to A Raisin in the Sun, directed by James Glossman. Next in the summer lineup is Pulitzer-winner Donald Margulies’ Baron-Munchausenesque tall tale, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, subtitled The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont, as Told by Himself.
Directed by Brendan Burke, it runs from June 19 to July 5.
July 10 to August 2 brings in Ken Ludwig’s popular farce Moon over Buffalo, again with Burke directing. The musical tribute Woody Guthrie’s American Song, adapted by Peter Glazer and directed by Chris Blisset, will be performed from August 7 to 30. And the last days of summer, September 4 to 27, herald a romantic Drama Desk-winning musical, Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, directed by Michael La Fleur.
Tickets for all Shadowland Theatre productions cost $39 for evening performances Thursday through Saturday, $34 for matinées on Sundays and the first Saturday of each play’s run. For more information on casts, dates and times, to subscribe or reserve tickets, call the box office at 647-5511 or visit www.shadowlandtheatre.org. Shadowland is at 157 Canal Street in Ellenville.
Woodstock Playhouse, May 29-August 23, Woodstock
One of the original theatres in the US to offer a summer stock season, the Woodstock Playhouse has expanded its lineup under new management for 2015, offering six shows instead of the usual four. The season opened with a production of Oliver! with a cast of youths from the New York Conservatory of the Arts. Upcoming shows begin with Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s Tony-winning rock musical, Spring Awakening, running June 18 through 28.
The season continues July 9 through 19 with the kid-friendly musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a stage adaptation of the 1968 movie (Sherman Brothers songs included) that was in turn based upon a children’s book by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Next comes The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop, running July 23 to 25.
From July 30 through August 9, the Playhouse will stage a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! that can reasonably be expected to be less unconventional than the version at Bard SummerScape. And the summer rep season winds up August 13 through 23 on a darker note with Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s gruesome-but-gorgeous, Tony-winning Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Ticket prices for all productions range from $32 to $40, typically (but not always) with evening performance Thursday through Saturday and matinées on Sunday. For more details or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 679-6900 or visit ulsterpub.staging.wpengineplayhouse.org. Woodstock Playhouse is at 103 Mill Hill Road in Woodstock.
The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, May 15-September 20
Community theater thrives year-round at this barnlike structure on the eastern outskirts of Rhinebeck, with many shows produced in-house by Lou Trapani’s CenterStage Productions. The space serves as a temporary home for other local theater groups’ productions as well. This season kicked off with a CenterStage revival of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, the run ending June 7 with Tracy Carney directing. But if you missed that, don’t fret: There are shows booked back-to-back all summer.
From June 12 to 21, Lisa Lynds directs a production of the rarely seen 1970 Obie-winner The Me Nobody Knows. Based on the writings of inner-city kids and set to music by Will Holt and Gary William Friedman, it’s the play that launched the young Irene Cara’s career. Then, on June 26, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s much-loved Seussical: The Musical takes over, directed by Emily DePew and running through July 12.
HMS Productions steps in with Michael Berkeley and Ray Roderick’s Rip! The Musical – about Rip van Winkle – the weekend of July 17 to 19, directed by Michael Berkeley. From July 24 to August 16, Center regulars Up in One Productions will present the stage adaptation of Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s 1952 Singin’ in the Rain film screenplay, snappy score intact. Good luck to director Kevin Archambault in finding an actor who can do the dancing-up-the-wall trick like Donald O’Connor!
The weekend of August 21 to 23 is dedicated to two fundraisers for the Center – a family magic show and a concert by Tony-winner Alice Ripley – plus a pay-what-you-will one-shot visit from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival with The Tempest. The summer season wraps up from August 28 to September 20 with a Rhinebeck Theater Society production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, directed by Andy Weintraub.
Tickets for most shows at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck – typically Friday and Saturday evening performances and Sunday matinees – cost $25 and $27. For more details and to make reservations, call the box office at 876-3080. 661 Route 308, Rhinebeck. Or go to www.centerforperformingarts.org.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, June 9-September 1, Boscobel, Garrison
Open-air Shakespeare productions are a glorious summer tradition, and you can’t beat the spectacular setting of Boscobel, overlooking the Hudson Highlands in Garrison, which serves as home for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s tented theater. For 2015, new artistic director Davis McCallum will direct his first production for the troupe: the Bard’s late romance The Winter’s Tale, in which one character gets to “Exit, pursued by a bear.” This summer’s other Shakespeare production will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Eric Tucker.
Cycling in repertory throughout the season with these two will be The Arabian Nights, adapted for the stage by Mary Zimmerman and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. There will also be a limited run of five performances of An Iliad, a one-actor play adapted from Homer by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare and directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch. And the festival’s training program for young actors, the Conservatory Company, will perform Shakespeare’s The Tempest several times, at Boscobel and on tour to various Hudson Valley venues.
Ticket prices vary widely based on production, date, location and seating; for more information or to order tickets, call the box office at 265-9575 or visit www.hvshakespeare.org. Plan to arrive up to two hours early, enjoy the view and have a picnic; picnic boxes catered by the Main Course in New Paltz can be preordered from the onsite café, given at least two days’ notice. Boscobel House & Gardens is at 1601 Route 9D, Garrison. Go to https://hvshakespeare.org.
Bird-on-a-Cliff Theatre Company, July 17-September 6, Comeau Park, Woodstock
Another way to enjoy Shakespeare outdoors in the summer lies closer to home than Garrison, and considerably cheaper: Bird-on-a-Cliff’s charming, relatively low-budget performances in the picnic-blanket atmosphere of the pastoral Comeau property just outside the hamlet. Admission is by donation, with $5 the suggested rate.
This summer’s Shakespeare production will be the Bard’s snarkiest rom/com, Much Ado about Nothing, running from July 17 to August 9. The second 2015 production will be an adaptation by Jerry James and David Aston-Reese of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, running from August 14 to September 6.
Performances start at 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with no reservations necessary. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. For more information call 247-4007 or visit www.birdonacliff.org.