Berkshire Theatre Festival Plans Enticing 2009 Season

Randy Harrison, David Adkins Among Favorites to Return this Summer

By: - Feb 14, 2009

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BTF Artistic Director Kate Maguire has announced most  of the principal casting for the 2009 season of the Berkshire Theatre Festival. Randy Harrison ("Queer as Folk") will play Oswald in a brand new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's classic Ghosts.

Founded in 1928, Berkshire Theatre Festival is one of the oldest professional regional theatres in the United States and the longest-running theatre in the Berkshires. Over the decades, it has built an intensely loyal following among actors and audiences alike who return each summer for a mutual celebration of theatre, both classic and modern. Recently the company has been able to extend its season into the fall and winter, which has enabled it to also work with both local schools and museums.

Maguire also announced the return of the popular actors David Adkins (BTF's Waiting for Godot), Colin Lane, and Keira Naughton (BTF's The Book Club Play) all of whom will appear in Faith Healer.

Tommy Schrider and James Barry who played brothers last year in the company's production of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker will return to reprise their roles in a revival of The Einstein Project. 

Greg Keller (BTF's A Man for All Seasons) will be featured in the regional premiere of Sick. 

Stephen DeRosa (BTF's Waiting for Godot) will play Mel in Neil Simon's comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue. 

As previously announced, David Garrison ("Married . . . with Children") will recreate the colorful Red Barber in the one-man show Red Remembers this fall.

This will mark Randy Harrison's fourth summer with BTF after having previously appeared in Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Mrs. Warren's Profession, and last summer's fresh interpretation of Waiting for Godot which aroused a couple of critical hackles but far more cheers and hurrahs.  (We loved it.) He has also appeared as Boq in Wicked on Broadway and A Letter for Ethyl Kennedy at MCC in New York. 

In what could become the season's most anticipated production, Harrison, who seems to seek out roles he can reinvent, (see our BFA interview here) will once again be working with director and fellow BTF alum Anders Cato.   Cato and dramaturg James Leverett will be creating a brand new adaptation of Ghosts for this summer's production.

David Adkins, Colin Lane, and Keira Naughton will team up to bring Brian Friel's powerful character piece, Faith Healer to the Unicorn Theatre, directed by Eric Hill.  Adkins is celebrating his 13th season at BTF after wowing critics and audiences with his performance at Vladimir in last summer's hit production of Waiting for Godot. He was previously seen at BTF in Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Misanthrope, and The Father, among others.  In New York he has worked with The Women's Project, National Actors Theater and Manhattan Theater Club.

Faith Healer will also mark Colin Lane's Berkshire Theatre Festival debut.  Lane's previous work includes A Touch of the Poet and Molly Sweeney on Broadway as well as work at The Irish Rep, Arena Stage, American Repertory Theatre, Capital Rep, and Yale Rep. 

Naughton appeared last year as Ana in BTF's production of The Book Club Play.  She has previously appeared on Broadway in The Rivals, Dance of Death, and Three Sisters, as well as regionally at the Kennedy Center and Arena Stage among others.

Tommy Schrider was first seen on BTF stages in the non-equity company of the BTF's original run of The Einstein Project by Paul D'Andrea and Jon Klein.  This summer, he will rejoin director Eric Hill in re-creating Einstein, the man who moved this world to a new age. 

Schrider has also appeared at BTF in A Man for All Seasons, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and in New York at Irish Rep, Classic Stage, and New York Theatre Workshop.  For this production, he will once again be paired with James Barry in the role of Werner Heisenberg.  James was seen at BTF last summer in The Caretaker opposite Tommy and Jonny Epstein.  Barry has previously been seen at BTF in This is Our Youth, The Who's Tommy, The Misanthrope, and Amadeus, among other roles.

Greg Keller will take on the part of Jim in this season's black comedy Sick, written by Zayd Dohrn.  Keller has been seen at BTF in A Man for All Seasons, The Glass Menagerie, A Dream Play, and This is Our Youth.  He has also been seen on Broadway in Uncle Vanya and The Rainmaker and Off-Broadway at CSC, Lincoln Center, and Roundabout Theatre.

Stephen DeRosa will be taking on the role of Mel Edison in Neil Simon's comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue, directed by Warner Shook.  DeRosa also appeared last summer at BTF as Estragon in Waiting for Godot. He has also been seen at the Festival in Love! Valour! Compassion! as well as Lives of the Saints  He played Wilbur Turnblad in the Broadway production and first National tour of Hairspray. His other Broadway credits include Twentieth Century, Henry IV, and The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Productions Scheduled for the Main Stage

Berkshire Theatre Festival Main Stage performances are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8pm, Wednesdays at 7pm, with 2pm matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Tickets range from $19.28 to $68.00.

Broadway by the Year®- Created/Written/Hosted by Scott Siegel with an All-Star Cast

Presented by special arrangement with The Town Hall in New York City. Previews: June 19, 20 Opening Night/Press Night: June 20 Closes: June 27

Since 2002, this critically acclaimed cabaret series has become what Show Business Weekly deems, "Â…an invaluable and entertaining jewel in the cabaret crown of New York".  For the first time ever, this amazing evening of show tunes from Broadway's glorious past is presented in the Berkshires.  This strictly limited engagement has been called by The New York Times, "Witty, breezily paced. . .informative. . .valuable. . .the right perspective of lighthearted nostalgia."

The Einstein Project by Paul D'Andrea and Jon Klein

Directed by Eric Hill with Tommy Schrider as Albert Einstein and James Barry as Werner Heisenberg Previews: June 30, July 1, 2, 3, 4 Opening Night/Press Night: July 4 Closes: July 18

The Einstein Project humanizes an immortal figure. Through conversations with his son, his wife, and his colleagues, Paul D'Andrea and Jon Klein present a vulnerable, fiendishly intelligent Albert Einstein trapped between his beliefs and his duty.  A fascinating portrait of the man who, however reluctantly, ushered in the atomic age.  Originally presented in the Unicorn Theatre, BTF Director Eric Hill turns to the Main Stage to re-invigorate this extraordinary production.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon

Directed by Warner Shook with Stephen DeRosa as Mel Edison Previews: July 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 Opening Night/Press Night: July 25 Closes: August 8

Mel and Edna Edison, a middle-aged couple living in New York, find their luck is quickly deteriorating during a terrible heat wave and a garbage strike. When Mel cracks under the pressure, his family intervenes in an attempt to nurse him back to his old self, with predictably unpredictable results. World renowned playwright Neil Simon presents a comical, and sometimes sad, look at the pressures placed upon a working class family that ripples with his trademark crisp dialogue and quirky, hysterically memorable characters

Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen

Adapted by Anders Cato and James Leverett, directed by Anders Cato with Randy Harrison as Oswald Previews: August 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 Opening Night/Press Night: August 15 Closes: August 29

 A woman struggles to keep several terrible family secrets, the implication of which are only worsened by a puritanical Pastor, a lascivious son, and her own guilt-ridden, well hidden past. Full of dark symbols, Ghosts exemplifies Henrik Ibsen's uncanny ability to overturn Victorian social values by using them as the damning elements in his work. Now, BTF favorites Director Anders Cato and Dramaturg James Leverett present a brand new translation of this classic of the theatre.

Productions Slated for the Unicorn Theatre

 Berkshire Theatre Festival Unicorn performances are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8pm; Wednesday evening at 7pm; and Saturday afternoons at 2pm for Faith Healer and Red Remembers.  The opening and closing productions have slightly different schedules — please see details below.  Prices range from $19.50 to $44.00.

Faith Healer by Brian Friel

Directed by Eric Hill, with David Adkins, Colin Lane, and Keira Naughton Previews: May 21, 22 Opening Night/Press Night: May 23 Closes: July 4

(Playing Thursday through Saturday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm through June 20.  From June 20-July 4 performances will return to the normal weekly schedule as listed above.)

Francis Hardy has an unusual job. He, his wife, Grace, and his loyal manager, Teddy, travel across the British Isles performing a series of almost vaudevillian faith healings. But like any professional, Hardy begins to worry about losing his talent, or whether or not he ever really had one. The strain is felt by his wife, observed by his manager, and so grips Francis that he becomes obsessed with curing the incurable, no matter the cost.

Candide, Music by Leonard Bernstein

Book adapted from Voltaire by Hugh Wheeler, Lyrics by Richard Wilbur with other lyrics by Stephen Sondheim  and John LaTouche. Directed by Ralph Petillo Previews: July 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Opening Night/Press Night: July 11 Closes: August 15

(Plays the normal Unicorn Schedule; however the schedule on Thursday will feature a 2pm show and an 8pm show while Saturday will feature a 10am show and an 8pm show.)

 Based on Voltaire's novella, Candide is the story of a young man's journey of self-discovery as he tries to find his place in a world that appears to be growing increasingly hostile.  Alternately funny and poignant, Candide features some of the most recognizable music in the American canon and has proven to be a crowd favorite.

Sick by Zayd Dohrn

Director TBA, with Greg Keller as Jim Previews: August 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 Opening Night/Press Night: August 22 Closes: September 6

Regional Premiere. A small home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is the only safe haven for the children of the Krebs family. But despite Mrs. Krebs' attempts to protect her family with scrubbers, masks, and isolation, the delicate balance is brought to the breaking point when her husband's academic career brings a stranger into their safe house. In its Northeast Premiere, Sick seeps onto the stage as a terrifying family drama filled with dark comedy, mistrust, and shocking realism.

Red Remembers by Andrew Guerdat

Directed by John Rando with David Garrison (Married. . . With Children) as Red Barber Previews: September 11, 12 Opening Night/Press Night: September 12 Closes: November 1

(Playing Thursday through Saturday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm.)

World Premiere. Well into retirement, Red Barber, the former announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, invites the audience into an intimate, beautifully nostalgic story about his life, the history of baseball, and the core values of humanity in an ever changing world. The honor, loyalty, and perseverance of America and its favorite pastime are not lost upon Red, and he ensures they shall not be lost to us.

History of the Berkshire Theatre Festival

Founded in 1928, Berkshire Theatre Festival is one of the oldest professional regional theatres in the United States and the longest-running theatre in the Berkshires.  Now under the helm of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, BTF presents theatre that matters—world premieres, contemporary works, and classics that speak to who we are in our world today. 

The Main Stage (408 seats), cataloged by the National Register of Historic Places, was originally designed and built by Stanford White as the Stockbridge Casino in 1888. The mission of BTF's second stage, the intimate Unicorn Theatre (122 seats), is to provide a home for emerging artists and new theatrical ideas. BTF's education program, BTF PLAYS!, reaches over 10,000 children annually through school residencies, touring performances, and summer performance training and writing programs. During the summer months BTF opens its doors to over 50 administrative, acting, and technical interns and apprentices.

Quick Link to Berkshire Theatre Festival