Thursday, January 24, 2019

Pioneer Valley Theatre News January 24, 2019

Pioneer Valley Theatre Newsletter
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 January 24 - February 13, 2019

Sweeney Todd opens this Friday at the Academy - come see it! You can also see The Mountaintop at the Majestic, Josie's Magical Flute at the Shea, or Happier Valley Comedy at their own new performance space. 

Also, mark your calendar for February 9 at 3:00 PM at Flywheel Arts in Easthampton - I'm helping to host a meeting about the Future of the Performing Arts. Add your voice!

The next issue will include events through February 20. Submit upcoming events via the link below or by emailing me before Tuesday at midnight. Any questions, comments or feedback? Email me at

Submit Your Theatre Event
from Howlround
Making Light
by Daniel Jackson

From the article: 

Basement Complex Suite 102 begins in near darkness. There are no house lights, so ushers have to lead the audience to their seats with small flashlights. There is a dim red glow from an exit sign, and, far upstage, the LEDs of analogue electronic instruments flicker. Each audience member also has their own flashlight, handed to them when they arrived; some play with the switch but nothing happens. A couple people giggle nervously, others whisper to each other. Most aren’t used to being in the dark this long.

Have you read an interesting article about theatre recently? Send it to me!
Want to know even more about events in the Pioneer Valley and beyond,
including reviews, interviews, and previews?
In the Spotlight, Inc.

Berkshire on Stage
Click to Access: Pioneer Valley Theatre Personnel Spreadsheet
West Springfield's Majestic Theater  presents “The Mountaintop,” a historical drama by Katori Hall
January 24 through February 10

The play is set entirely in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., having just delivered his “I've Been to the Mountaintop” speech on behalf of the sanitation workers of Memphis, retires to the motel to prepare for another long day of campaigning. Here he encounters Camae, a beautiful maid. After some initial superficial exchanges, the pair begin a deep discussion about Dr. King's hopes and fears. “The Mountaintop” offers audiences a different side of Martin Luther King, Jr.; a man who despite his flaws remains an inspiration.

According to the Majestic's Producing Director Danny Eaton, “Toward the end of the play, Dr. King says, 'I am just a man. I am just a man.' He adds that all he wanted was to be a minister at a small church, and he wonders who will carry the baton after he's gone. Katori Hall has gifted us with a remarkable portrait of both the man as well as the icon. And, of course, the message is as relevant today as it ever was.”

The Mountaintop” premiered in London where it won several theater awards and critical acclaim prior to its Broadway run in 2011. It has since been produced in leading American cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Palo Alto, in addition to being staged in South Africa, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Jamil Mangan will portray Dr. King, and Lynnette R. Freeman will play Camae. Gilbert McCauley will direct the play, with Eaton serving as producing director. Set designer is Josiah Durham, and Dawn McKay is costume designer. Dan Rist is lighting designer and Stephen Petit is production stage manager.

Tickets for these shows range from $24-$34 and are now available by calling or visiting the box office during its hours of operation, which are Monday through Friday 10am – 5pm and Saturday 10am – 1pm. Subscriptions are still being accepted for the five Season shows.
Panopera presents SWEENEY TODD, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Friday, January 25 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, January 27 at 2:00 PM
Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton

2019 marks the 40th Anniversary of Sondheim’s masterpiece, Sweeney Todd. Winner of Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score, the work has been equally at home in the world’s opera houses. In keeping with this tradition, Panopera will present Sweeney Todd with its full, original orchestration and a cast of singing actors also equally at home on the musical and operatic stage.

Tickets available online or by calling 413-584-9032 x105
Josie's Magical Flute w/Laura Patrick, and Not in Charge
January 25 at 7:30 PM
The Shea Theater, Turners Falls, MA

Josie's Magical Flute, the Shea's in-house improv comedy troupe, returns for another hilarious show.  With guest star Laura Patrick, of The Ha-Ha's! And Not In Charge, the Valley's new favorite (their shows at Happier Valley Comedy routinely sell out). Long and short form improv comedy from some of the Valley's best!

Happier Valley Comedy Presents The Happier Valley World Open Cup Grand Prix Series Derby Bowl Championship!
January 26 at 7:00 PM
Happier Valley Comedy Theater, 1 Mill Rd, Hadley, MA
In this brand new, competitive comedy show, two teams of improvisers face off through scenes and games, scored by an audience panel of judges on a wide variety of completely ridiculous criteria, to see who can win the ultimate prize: an old trophy we found in someone's attic. Saturday, January 26th at 7pm at the new Happier Valley Comedy Theater (1 Mill Valley Rd, Hadley, on rte.9). And stick around after for the 9pm showcase and open improv jam! Tickets: $13 online and at the door. For more info:
UMass Theater presents Mrs. Smith at UMass
February 1 at 7:30 PM
The Curtain Theater, UMass Fine Arts Center

Free and open to the community

Cat lover...
Guitar Hero.

Kidnapped from her Upper East Side penthouse and held for ransom by a Norwegian death metal band, Mrs. Smith suffered the Stockholm Syndrome granting her extraordinary musical abilities. She uses her mad guitar skillz and vocal stylings to express the grief and rage she feels over the disappearance of her beloved cat Carlyle. Why aren't you helping find him??

"Maybe you saw her in that Hungarian bathhouse Gucci ad last year, strumming on her guitar. She’s an elderly, pearl-wearing lady that rocks out to heavy metal and wails about her missing cat. Ridiculous and bizarrely funny.” - Vogue Magazine, 2018 Best in Music Editors Pick

Mrs. Smith's recent appearances include The Cutting Room NYC, Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, Guitar Gods Festival, Feedback Fest (Costa Mesa, CA), Cafe Mojito (Bologna, Italy), and Club Helsinki (Hudson, NY). She has appeared in international ads for GUCCI and she is officially endorsed by Ibanez Guitars, DiMarzio pickups, Mezzabarba Custom Amplification, and Ernie Ball strings.

"PURRFECT!" - The New York Post
"LUMINOUS!" - Gay City News
"Truly a feast for the ears" - Hornet
"She might be the best hope for a shred revival" - Guitar World Magazine

This event is free and open to community members.

Mrs. Smith at UMass was made possible in part by a grant from the UMass Arts Council.

More Information.
Happier Valley Comedy presents The Understudies: An Improvised Musical
February 2 at 7:00 PM
Happier Valley Comedy Theater, 1 Mill Rd, Hadley, MA

Be part of the fun as four improvisers create an entire musical from scratch with a little help from the audience. Saturday, February 2nd at 7pm at the new Happier Valley Comedy Theater (1 Mill Valley Rd, Hadley, on rte.9). And stick around after for the 9pm showcase and open improv jam! Tickets: $10 online and at the door. For more info:
Exit 7 Players presents You Can’t Take It With You
Feb 8-17, Friday and Saturdays at 8pm, Sunday’s at 2pm
Exit 7 Theater, 37 Chestnut St, Ludlow, MA 01056

At first the Sycamores seem mad, but it is not long before we realize that if they are mad, the rest of the world is madder. In contrast to these delightful people are the unhappy Kirbys. The plot shows how Tony, attractive young son of the Kirbys, falls in love with Alice Sycamore and brings his parents to dine at the Sycamore home on the wrong evening. The shock sustained by the Kirbys, who are invited to eat cheap food, shows Alice that marriage with Tony is out of the question. The Sycamores, however, though sympathetic to Alice, find it hard to realize her point of view. Meantime, Tony, who knows the Sycamores are right and his own people wrong, will not give her up, and in the end Mr. Kirby is converted to the happy madness of the Sycamores, particularly since he happens in during a visit by an ex-Grand Duchess, earning her living as a waitress. No mention has as yet been made of the strange activities of certain members of the household engaged in the manufacture of fireworks; nor of the printing press set up in the parlor; nor of Rheba the maid and her friend Donald; nor of Grandpa's interview with the tax collector when he tells him he doesn't believe in the income tax.
One of the most popular and successful plays of modern times.

We will have two ASL interpreted shows during this production: Sunday, February 10 and Friday, February 15. Purchase tickets in Section 1 if you need to see the interpreters.

Tickets On sale Now!

Cast List:
Penelope Sycamore - Terry Adams
Essie - Mo DuBois
Rheba - Sam Fett
Paul Sycamore - Joe Lessard
Mr. De Pinna - Bruce Torrey
Ed - Beau McGregor
Donald - Ben Cantwell
Martin Vanderhof/Grandpa - Leon Jerfita and Deb Jacobson
Alice - Krystle Bernier
Henderson - Regina Erpenbeck
Tony Kirby - Johnny Gordon
Bolus Kolenkhov - Lindsay Holmes
Gay Wellington - Victoria DeCosmo
Mr. Kirby - Jim Reilly
Mrs. Kirby - Nancy Colby
G-Men - Amanda Seymour, Hannah Zaitz
Olga - Court Lyons

Directed by Chris McKenzie Willenbrock
Happier Valley Comedy presents The Ha-Ha's & Friends: Improvapella!
February 9 at 7:00 PM
Happier Valley Comedy Theater, 1 Mill Rd, Hadley, MA

Longtime local favorites The Ha-Ha's perform a completely improvised comedy show with a special guest - this month we welcome Improvapella from Catalyst Comedy in Boston! Saturday, February 9th at 7pm at the new Happier Valley Comedy Theater (1 Mill Valley Rd, Hadley, on rte.9). And stick around after for the 9pm showcase and open improv jam! Tickets: $13 online and at the door. For more info:
Serious Play presents ON THE EXHALE by Martin Zimmerman
Performed by Serious Play alumna, Elizabeth Solomon
Directed by Sheryl Stoodley, Artistic Director

*Post Show Discussion: following Sunday Feb 10, 2:30 staged reading
led by Boston University Dept. of Medicine’s Dr. Bindu Kalesan

Sunday Matinee, February 10, at 2:30pm (*with post show discussion)
and Monday February 11 at 7:30pm

Location: A.P.E. Gallery, 126 Main Street, Northampton, MA
Tickets: $20 General, $18 Students / $24 at the door
Performances for 14 yrs.& up
Available starting Jan 11 at
Reservations are encouraged due to limited seating
Box Office opens half hour before staged reading at A.P.E Gallery

Contact: Sheryl Stoodley for more information
Call (413) 588-7439 or email

About the Play: After a devastating school shooting, a mother develops an obsession that begins to take over her entire existence.
“A startlingly original, and visceral examination of American gun violence.” NY Times)
Play written in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.

There have been 1,300 school shooting incidents in USA since 1970.
 In 2018, there were 82 school shooting incidents in the USA, the highest there have
ever been since 1970.
2018 was the highest year for the number of victims killed, including the shooter,
with 51 killed. --- Facts from Center for Homeland Defense & Security

Elizabeth Solomon is a writer, creator, business owner, living in Florence MA, who performed with Serious Play Theatre Ensemble in the early years when Serious Play was first part of the A.P.E Artist Associates on the third floor art space of Thornes Marketplace with Gordon Thorne & Lisa Thompson. Not only did her time in the Serious Play Ensemble transform her adolescence, but it shaped the trajectory of her life. Driven by a lifelong interest in systems, psychology and communication, Elizabeth has put storytelling and human connection at the foundation of her career. Serious Play welcomes her back to share this important staged reading with our Valley community.

Dr.Bindu Kalesan, MPH, PhD/ Post Show Discussion Leader is a clinical epidemiologist and a biostatistician at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Kalesan is interested in clinical and health outcomes research. Her work primarily explores cardiovascular and other long-term consequences in patients undergoing treatment for cardiac diseases, cancer, infectious and trauma. She also focuses on public health consequences of firearm violence in the US and the short- and long-term effects of firearm injury survivorship. Currently she is a faculty and the Director of Center for Clinical Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research, department of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Kalesan received her PhD in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics from University of Bern, master’s degree in public health and another in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Christian Medical College, India.

*Serious Play Artistic Director and Managing Director will join Dr. Bindu Kalesan and Bill
Newman on WHMP’s Bill Newman Show, this Jan 31, 9am, to discuss the issue of gun violence and survivorship in America and the play.

Serious Play Theatre Ensemble works toward reshaping society’s conversation on prominent social issues through the art of ensemble theatre.
Join Serious Play for this staged reading and the important Sunday Feb 10, post-show discussion
UMass Theater presents Auditions for Play Lab and Sweat

Sunday, Jan. 27 — joint auditions for all three plays from 3-9:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Center 

Monday, Jan. 28 — CALLBACKS for Sweat, 6-10:30 p.m. in the Curtain Theater

Tuesday, Jan. 29 — CALLBACKS for Come My Beloved, 6-10:30 p.m. in Room 204

Wednesday, Jan. 30 — CALLBACKS for Swimming Lessons, 6-10:30 p.m. in Room 204

What to prepare
We will hold joint auditions for all three plays. Performers are asked to read the read before auditioning. Performers will be auditioning from sides to be provided (please check back as the audition date approaches). 

Sides, character breakdown, and sign-up genius link for audition slots are at
Shakespeare Stage presents Auditions for THE TEMPEST
Directed by Julian Findlay 

Locations and dates:

Forbes Library 
20 West st, Northampton, MA
Wednesday, Jan 30th, 4:30-6:00pm
Saturday, Feb 2nd, 12:15-2:25pm

Greenfield public Library 
402 Main st, Greenfield, MA
Monday, Jan 28th, 4:30-6:30pm
Friday, Feb 1st, 4:30-7:00pm

Please prepare a classical monologue no longer than 3 minutes
Bring a headshot and resume. Must be 18 years or older.

Performed at the Northampton Center for the Arts at 33 Hawley st, Northampton, MA

Email for details and audition appointments.
Black Cat Theater CALL FOR SET CHIEF
(South Hadley, MA) Black Cat Theater, Inc is seeking letters of interest and
resumes for the position of Set Chief for their Spring production of Blithe Spirit.
Set Chief will work with the Director’s design and be the point person
responsible for the construction of the set.Email letter of interest and resume to by February 1.
Sex and Power Looking for Lighting Designer and Stage Manager!

Performances will be in early spring at the Northampton Arts Trust. Small stipend available. 

Actor, dancer, interfaith minister Joanna Rush girlsplains the complexities of Sex and Power in our culture. Enduring date rape and gang rape in real life she went on to a career in movies and on stage playing various species of seductress, which, by the way, exposed her to misogyny as practiced internationally throughout history. Covering ground that ranges from evolutionary biology to Greek mythology, the invention of masculinity, our socio-economic systems, and anecdotes from her own acting career, she provides insights that can help us heal today’s sorry state of sexual affairs. Rush’s creative, nontraditional outlook offers hope and a road map for how we can progress and ride the #MeToo movement into a healthier sexual landscape for all.

More information here. Contact Joanna with questions.
Phantom Sheep Productions in association with J-ART presents 
LaughCrafters: Comedy Improv Classes Winter Session (Feb-Mar)

J-ART with Phantom Sheep Productions is proud to offer their next session of Comedy Improv classes! 

6 Weeks, Mondays 7-9PM Starting February 4th
Springfield Jewish Community Center

Open to the general public!
Adults & Teens 15+

Focusing on finding the funny, quick thinking, building scenes, creating characters, trusting yourself, and unleashing your talent through the power of collaboration! 

Using short form theater games and exercises, each week is taught in a very fun, encouraging, and constructive atmosphere.

All levels welcome and challenged at own pace.

Tuition for entire session:
$86, General Public (discounts available for JCC members and previous students)

413-739-4715 or for more info and to sign up! 
Facebook event.

Phantom Sheep has been a proud partner of the Springfield JCC since 2014 offering arts education for all ages including puppetry, acting, and improvisation.   More information about the troupe is available at or
Happier Valley Comedy presents Setting Sail Into Improv with Misch Whitaker
February 9 at 11:00 AM
Happier Valley Comedy Theater, 1 Mill Rd, Hadley, MA

You've heard of improv, maybe seen some shows, or maybe you've even taken a workshop or two already- and you want more. Improv is calling your name like the sea has called so many sailors before you - so climb aboard! Learn the ropes from the cast of Boston's Unscripted Musical Project as you play, seek, and discover more about what makes this art form so accessible and entertaining. We'll be using games, exercises, and scene work to learn new skills and have a lot of fun. Focus will be on improv as a team sport and how to give and receive support in a group. Make new friends, step outside your comfort zone and get ready to find out how much further we can go when everyone works together to get there!

Prerequisites: None! This workshop is great for beginners.

About Your Teacher:  
Misch Whitaker has studied, performed and taught improv for over ten years; past credits include Improv Asylum Mainstage (2008-2012) and ImprovBoston Mainstage (2013-2014). She currently performs with and directs Boston's Unscripted Musical Project (B.U.M.P), KERPLUNK! and Dirty Disney at Catalyst Comedy.

More information.

Upcoming Training Programs at Double Edge Theatre 

Double Edge Theatre was founded by Stacy Klein to research the role of actors’ training in the development of performance creation. Training is the heart and vitality of Double Edge’s creative process. Since 1982, when it was first developed by Klein based on her work with Rena Mirecka, Grotowski’s founding actor, it has grown to include work with large objects, developed by Klein and David Flaxman from 1985, and then outdoor work and spectacle developed with Carlos Uriona since 1996. Since 2011 Matthew Glassman has been leading the development of training at Double Edge. The unique, holistic methodology engages the actor’s full potential – physical, vocal, emotional, and imaginative – to drive individual exploration, ensemble collaboration, and performance creation.

Summer Intensive: May 31 - June 14, 2019
Spectacle Immersion: May 31 - Aug 24, 2019
Fall Immersion: Fall 2019

Winter Intensive: January 1 - 7, 2019
Spring Intensive: March 15 - 17, 2019
Creation Lab: March 15 - April 14, 2019

Pioneer Valley Theatre Companies
Is your theatre company missing? Email me!
Academy of Music Theatre

Arena Civic Theatre

Black Cat Theater

Chester Theatre Company

The Country Players

Drama Studio

Eggtooth Productions

Exit 7 Players

Ghost Light Theater

Hampshire Shakespeare Company

Happier Valley Comedy

Ja'Duke Center for the Performing Arts

K and E Theater Group

Ko Theater Works/Ko Festival of Performance

Majestic Theater

New Century Theatre
PaintBox Theatre


Pauline Productions

Real Live Theatre

Red Thread Theater

Serious Play Theatre Ensemble

Silverthorne Theater

Smith College Department of Theatre

St. Michael's Players

Starlight's Youth Theatre, Inc.


Turbulent Times Theater

UMass Theatre Guild

Valley Light Opera

Westfield Theatre Group

Wilbraham United Players
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