Chorus Line Opens Colonial Summer

Great Mix for Berkshire Theatre Group’s Second Season

By: - Dec 10, 2011

Colonial Colonial Colonial Colonial

There was considerable risk taking when Kate Maguire, the artistic director of the venerable Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, merged with the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. She is the artistic director and CEO of the year old Berkshire Theatre Group.

While the Stockbridge based Berkshire Theatre Festival may well have soldiered on indefinitely Maguire seized the opportunity boldly to leap forward. There was the enticing opportunity to use the 780 seat Colonial Theatre to present more ambitious, original productions.

From December 17 through 30 The Christmas Carol will be staged at the Colonial. Featuring James Taylor and members of his family it is sure to be a strong Holiday attraction. It will be his first dramatic appearance.

Last summer Maguire was cautious in staging the rock opera Tommy at the Colonial. It featured a BTF regular, Randy Harrison, in the title role. The musical opened after the all important Fourth of July holiday weekend and had a relatively brief run. Barrington Stage opened earlier with Guys and Dolls. They rode momentum and rave reviews into a strong selling Fourth. Then it seemed that Tommy had too brief a run.

In the press release that follows Maguire announces that A Chorus Line will open the summer season for the Colonial. But we are not informed of the opening date and length of the run. Let us hope that she has reevaluated reasons for not opening over the Holiday weekend last year. With James Taylor again selling out Tanglewood, and Barrington having announced Fiddler on the Roof,  it’s a no brainer for Chorus Line to also be selling tickets. Families and tourists in the Berkshires over the Holiday won’t be at Tanglewood every night. Last year Barrington had strong sales for Guys and Dolls. By the time Tommy opened it seemed that the production was playing catchup and never quite delivered the traction it deserved.

Tommy did well. Good enough for Maguire to follow up with A Chorus Line. With a different and more risky strategy, however, good might have been great.

In show biz he who hesitates looses. The renovation and relatively brief history of the new Colonial Theatre is a case study. After a $21 million renovation the theatre was under funded and ineptly programmed. The Colonial was dark too many nights and the performances were a mixed bag with too many ersatz tribute bands. They may have sold tickets but failed to build an image for originality and artistic integrity.

While not abandoning tribute bands and safe populist bookings Simon Shaw, who oversees theatrical programming, appears to be making solid progress. He responded negatively to my query during a press conference last year that the Colonial might include jazz and blues artists.

So it is particularly encouraging to see that the iconic jazz pianist, Ahmad Jamal, will appear on Saturday, March 31. He was a part of the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in 2007. It is awesome to have another chance to hear him in the Berkshires. There are too few opportunities to hear great jazz artists in the region. Back in October there was a good turn out at the Colonial for Grace Kelly and Phil Woods during the annual Pittsfield Jazz Festival. In 2010 pianist McCoy Tyner sold out the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington.

In June of 2010 Rosanne Cash did well at the Colonial. She later appeared at Mass MoCA. Progressive country music has a broad appeal even here in the Berkshires. Shaw has booked a solo night by Country star Travis Tritt on March 10. It will be a great occasion to wear my cowboy shirt, jeans, and hat. Yeeha.

Be still dear heart we will enjoy authentic Cajun music, BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet, on Friday, February 24. Perhaps they will serve red beans and crawdads in the lobby that night.

Speaking of which bravo to Shaw and Maguire for The Garage a series of low key music bookings during school nights for the younger audience. They are getting to explore the café and cabaret potential of that large and versatile lobby space.

The full schedule and calendar is still a work in progress. Particularly the plays planned for Stockbridge and the new stage in collaboration with The Mount. So far we are excited by highlights that include Travis Tritt, Colin Hay, Bettye LaVette, Turtle Island Quartet, Tarbox Ramblers, BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet, Danu, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, Ahmad Jamal, Carrie Newcomer, The Bronx Wanderers and Rhythmic Circus.

Press Release and Listings

Kate Maguire is excited to be announcing a diverse lineup of events. “It has been an extraordinary year—historic for The Colonial Theatre and Berkshire Theatre Festival.  Our newly formed Berkshire Theatre Group is able to produce entertainment on 5 stages and meet the widest audience possible.  We have opened new spaces and met new audiences.  As we enter the new year, it is our goal to continue to provide a broad spectrum of work at the Unicorn, the Garage and the Colonial.  We are also busy planning to bring great work to our summer stages at the Neil Ellenoff stage at The Mount and of course, to our beloved Fitzpatrick Main Stage.  My artistic partner Simon Shaw has generated a great roster of entertainers for audiences of all ages and we are of course, thrilled to announce that we have acquired the rights to present the legendary A Chorus Line this coming summer—but more to come on that and so much more!”


Simon Shaw, BTG’s programmer, comments, “It is a great pleasure working with Kate Maguire on this artistic adventure that is the Berkshire Theatre Group.  The combination of different venues has given us an opportunity to present wonderful artists in appropriate settings.  We are very focused on the different audiences we serve as well as the quality of the performers we present. I look forward to welcoming these audiences at the performances.”

The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield seats 780 audience members and was re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. As a part of the Winter/Spring 2012 programming, this beautifully restored theatre will be the venue for two incredible solo acoustic shows. Travis Tritt, legendary country star, will bring music from his multi-platinum musical career to the Colonial. Colin Hay, the original lead singer for Men At Work, will bring his solo and original works to the Colonial for a stellar night of intimate performance. Additionally at the Colonial will be a host of Irish comedians and musicians, just in time for St. Patick’s Day. The Elvis Birthday Bash, Bettye LaVette, The Bronx Wanderers and Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show will all transport the audience to a golden age of music. Doktor Kaboom! and The Magic of Bill Blagg Live! will delight kids of all ages. Finally, BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet will bring the best of Cajun and zydeko music to Pittsfield and many more will grace the Colonial stage and delight BTG’s audiences.

The Unicorn Theatre, an intimate 122 seat theatre, originally built as a home for emerging artists and new theatrical ideas, will host a series of incredibly talented singers and songwriters. Starting with The Duke’s Men of Yale, who appeared at the Unicorn this past summer, and continuing with folk singers, The Tarbox Ramblers, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason and Carrie Newcomer, The Unicorn will be filled with beautiful voices and soulful performances.

Berkshire Theatre Group will also continue to present concerts at its newest venue, The Garage. These concerts will be announced at a later date. Located in the lobby of The Colonial Theatre, The Garage is a dedicated music venue for local and regional acts as well as to host touring acts. Shows run from 9pm to Midnight and may feature a small cover charge.

Berkshire Theatre Group is also incredibly excited to announce its first show for Summer 2012, A Chorus Line. A Chorus Line, the award winning musical that won over the hearts of Broadway audiences with the true stories of chorus dancers, will dance its way across the Colonial stage. Guaranteed to be a singular sensation, A Chorus Line is the follow up to last summer’s premiere event at the Colonial, The Who’s Tommy. Performance dates and ticket sales for A Chorus Line will be announced at a later date. Stay Tuned!

At the Colonial Theatre

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens

Adapted by Eric Hill
Directed by Eric Hill and E. Gray Simons III
With Special Guest James Taylor as Bob Cratchit
December 17-30 ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets Still Available

Revel in the joy and redemptive power of Christmas as told in the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the infamous miser who is reformed and shown the error of his ways by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with terrific turns and infused with holiday music. This year, BTF’s annual community production moves to the Colonial and James Taylor joins the cast as Bob Cratchit.

Elvis Birthday Bash
Friday, January 13, 2012

8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $45 B: $25 C: $15 (limited balcony)

Celebrate the King’s birthday with the ultimate Elvis tribute show starring two of the world’s finest Elvis impressionists. Mike Albert is second to none in bringing to life the Elvis of the ’70s, while Scot Bruce looks like, sounds like—and swings his hips like—Elvis in his younger days. Backed by the fantastic Big “E” Band, they’ll leave you screaming for more.

Turtle Island Quartet
Friday, February 17, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: VIP: $45 (premium seating) A: $40 B: $30 C: $20

This dynamic string quartet is renowned for their innovative interpretations of folk, rock, jazz, funk, hip-hop and R&B as well as the music of India and Latin America. Now, the two time Grammy®-winning quartet is tackling works by legendary guitarist, songwriter and performer Jimi Hendrix. Yo-Yo Ma calls them “a unified voice that truly breaks new ground—authentic and passionate—a reflection of some of the most creative music-making today.”

Doktor Kaboom!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
2pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: $15

Doktor Kaboom! Creatively blends theatre arts with the wonders of scientific exploration, taking audiences on a compelling journey of spectacular experiments, demonstrations and applications of the physical sciences. Keeping his crowds riveted and rolling with laughter, Docktor Kaboom! is an interactive one-man science variety show suitable for all ages.

BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet
Friday, February 24, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: VIP: $55 (premium seating) A: $50 B: $35 C: $20 (limited balcony)

BeauSoleil is the real deal born out of the rich Cajun traditions of Louisiana. Their honest, heartfelt music blends zydeco, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex, country, blues and more into a satisfying musical recipe. Hailed by Garrison Keillor as the “best Cajun band in the world.”

Travis Tritt
Saturday, March 10, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $75 B: $65 C: $40 (limited balcony)

Travis Tritt comes to The Colonial to perform music from his multi-platinum musical career. His most recent album, The Storm was produced by Randy Jackson, of American Idol fame. He has a string of platinum albums and Top Ten singles, including five number–one hits, “Help Me Hold On,” “Can I Trust You With My Heart,” “Foolish Pride,” “Anymore” and “Best of Intentions.” He is currently traveling the country on his solo-acoustic tour, giving audiences an intimate musical experience, and telling stories in a rare and personal atmosphere.

Irish Comedy Tour
Thursday, March 15, 2012
7:30pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: $25

The Irish Comedy Tour takes the party atmosphere of a Dublin pub and combines it with a boisterous, belly-laugh trio. The clover—make that clever—comedians, whose ancestors hail from the Emerald Isle, include Detroit native Derek Richards; Boston-born Mike McCarthy; and from Dublin, Ireland Keith Aherne. Buy tickets early—this evening of comedy mixed with Irish songs packed the Colonial last year!

Friday, March 16, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $40 B: $30 C: $20 (limited balcony)

Danú is at the forefront of the traditional Irish music scene. Their standing room only concerts throughout Ireland feature high-energy performances and a glorious mix of ancient Irish music and new repertoire. For over a decade, Danú’s virtuosi players, on flute, tin whistle, fiddle, button accordion, bouzouki and vocals, have performed around the globe and recorded seven critically acclaimed albums. Danú takes its audiences on a musical journey to their native Ireland, offering a moving and memorable concert experience.

Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show
Saturday, March 24, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $45 B: $30 C: $20 (limited balcony)

This spirited tribute, already seen by over 1,000,000 people, re-creates one of the famous “Summit at the Sands” hotel shows at a time when the “Rat Pack” was creating hipster legend with a no-holds-barred nightclub act starring Vegas’ favorite sons: Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. Uncanny vocal re-creations of hits like “That’s Amore,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Mr. Bojangles,” unbridled humor and a live big band will send audiences straight back to one of the coolest times in history.

Ahmad Jamal
Saturday, March 31, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: VIP: $50 (premium seating) A: $35 B: $25 C: $15 (limited balcony)

How long is a musical career? When the music comes straight from the soul, a career lasts a lifetime… and that lifetime transcends time. Ahmad Jamal is a true-blue American Jazz master and musical legend with six decades of musical validity and counting under his belt. Stand up, and listen hard.

The Magic of Bill Blagg Live!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
2pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: $15

The Magic of Bill Blagg LIVE! is the most entertaining magic and illusion show on the market today! This is a Las Vegas style, family-show full of grand scale magic, illusion and unmatched audience interaction. Bill Blagg III is breaking the mold of the typical magician. Critics refer to his show as The Second City meets David Copperfield. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Bronx Wanderers
Friday, April 27, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $35 B: $ 25 C: $15 (limited balcony)

With superlative vocals and musicianship, dynamic enthusiasm and a genuine love of the blend of doo-wop and rock n’ roll music they perform, The Bronx Wanderers recreate the magic of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Transport back to the malt shop as The Wanderers perform hits by Dion & The Belmonts, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge, The Bee Gees, The Beatles and so much more. When asked what a typical repetoire of a Wanderer’s show is, founding member Vin Adinolfi says, “We like to say we are The Jersey Boys meets A Bronx Tale.”

Bob Weir Solo Acoustic – Sold Out!
Sunday, April 29, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $65 B: $45

Bob Weir has rescheduled his Colonial Theatre performance date! Weir is one of the leading rock guitarists in the world, called the genre’s “greatest, if most eccentric rhythm guitarist.”  As a founding member of The Grateful Dead, he helped establish that group’s signature sound. His own projects, including Ratdog and Furthur among others, cemented him as one of the driving forces in the world of rock music and jam bands. Weir now presents a solo acoustic show that proves he is a musician as durable and expansive as the music he has created.

Colin Hay
Saturday, May 5, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $40 B: $35 C: $20 (limited balcony)

Colin Hay may be best known as the lead singer for Men At Work, the platinum selling Australian band that topped worldwide charts in the ’80s with anthems like “Down Under,” “Overkill,” and “Who Can It Be Now?” Since moving to Los Angeles in 1989, Hay has made 11 solo albums and is confident that his latest, Gathering Mercury, is the best of the lot. Join him for a stellar night of his original music.

Rhythmic Circus
Saturday, May 12, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: A: $35 B: $25 C: $15 (limited balcony)

There’s tap dancing and then there’s Rhythmic Circus, the percussive-dance phenomenon that features a variety of musical flavors, from Minneapolis funk to salsa, and enlivened by a seven-piece band, vocalists and a beat-boxer. Past highlights include opening for Savion Glover’s Bare Soundz and collaborating with Vocal Essence in Witness: A Tribute to Duke Ellington. They have built a reputation for leaving audiences on their feet and dancing in the aisles!

Bettye LaVette
Saturday, May 26, 2012
8pm ∙ The Colonial Theatre
Tickets: VIP: $55 (premium seating) A: $50 B: $35 C: $20 (limited balcony)

2011 Grammy Nominee, Bettye LaVette will use her sultry, soulful voice and years of musical talent to transport the audience back to the golden age of James Brown and Aretha Franklin. According to The Windy City Times, “In an age where the word ‘diva’ is often used freely, LaVette makes Aretha, Patti, Gladys, Chaka and, yes, even Tina sound lightweight.” Her numerous television appearances include The Obama Inaugural Celebration at The Lincoln Memorial. Ms. LaVette’s performance is guaranteed to bring you back and remind you of a smoother time.

At The Unicorn Theatre

The Duke’s Men of Yale: A Night of Love and Heartbreak with Da Doox!

Saturday, February 11, 2012
8pm ∙ The Unicorn Theatre
Tickets: $10 for students and $20 for adults

The Duke’s Men of Yale are thrilled to return to the Berkshires on February 11th. In honor of Valentine’s Day, they will perform classic love songs by such artists as Chaka Kahn, Billy Joel, Sam Cooke, and the Jackson 5, along with newer songs by Adele and Rihanna. As one of the most beloved collegiate groups in the country, The Duke’s Men have performed everywhere from The White House to Lincoln Center, and recently headlined a concert with Glee’s very own Darren Criss.

Tarbox Ramblers

Saturday, February 18, 2012
8pm ∙ The Unicorn Theatre
Tickets: $20

Taking listeners to a place where Appalachian music, ancient blues and gospel come together in powerful, unexpected combinations, The Tarbox Ramblers are left-field traditionalists whose roughhewn, direct sound has drawn rave reviews from Rolling Stone, All Things Considered, The New Yorker and many more. Their live show is so compelling, Robert Plant hired them on the spot after hearing their performance. Plant even brought the Ramblers on as a backup band with Allison Krauss at the Rock Hall of Fame.

Jay Ungar & Molly Mason

Saturday, March 17, 2012
8pm ∙ The Unicorn Theatre
Tickets: $30

The heart and soul of American roots music with a well-loved repertoire of original tunes; Jay and Molly are musicians of enormous talent who draw their repertoire and inspiration from a wide range of American musical styles: 19th-century classics, lively Appalachian, Cajun, and Celtic fiddle tunes as well as favorites from the golden age of country and swing, along with their own songs, fiddle tunes and orchestral compositions.

Carrie Newcomer
Friday, April 20, 2012
8pm ∙
The Unicorn Theatre

Tickets: $30

Carrie Newcomer is a rare breed of singer/songwriter: the kind who illuminates life with startling depth, humor and clarity. Her ability to sharply observe the world lead the Dallas Morning News to rave, “She’s the kind of artist whose music makes you stop, think and then say, ‘that is so true’.” She has been described as “a soaring songstress” by Billboard, a “prairie mystic” by the Boston Globe and Rolling Stone said that she “asks all the right questions.” Carrie is one of the definitive
voices of the Heartland.