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Theater

All Dazzling Scope and Shouting Soul

Theater: ‘The Who’s Tommy’

It’s the brave company that takes on “The Who’s Tommy,” a high-risk piece of theater if ever there was one. This Brit-band’s fantastical “rock opera” of 1969 was never intended for the stage, but was writ large for Broadway production 25 years later. At heart, it’s nothing more than a few dozen music-video scenes accompanied by brilliant late-1960s rock songs, all shakily stitched together by a plot involving vague themes of Eastern-mystic-inspired self-discovery and a blind, deaf and dumb kid who plays pinball.

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Before the Thunder That Changed a Nation

Theater: ‘Moonchildren’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Berkshire Theatre Festival’s revival of Michael Weller’s first play, “Moonchildren,” is intelligent and keenly observed in Karen Allen’s directorial debut with the company. A good-to-brilliant cast gives fresh performances and brings near perfect timing to lightning fast comic banter, hilarious but meaningful monologues and deeply felt confessions.

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Pleasant, Jaunty and a Trifle Dusty

Theater: ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

A century and a half or so of Broadway musicals has produced oodles of timeless classics and perhaps an equal number of forgettable shows. Somewhere in the middle is “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the quintessential chestnut if there ever was one.

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Sometimes, It Just Has To Be

Theater: 'F2M'
compass@lakevillejournal.com

There’s gender. And then there’s biology.
In Isabelle, the two are at war.
That’s where “F2M” focuses in Patricia Wettig’s play in progress about a girl, wanting to be a boy.
F2M means female to male. And that means counseling, drugs, surgery, isolation and a risky life at the edge of the tribe as Isabelle’s father, Clarence (actor Ken Olin, playwright Wettig’s husband), sees it.

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Dance Like the Show

Theater: ‘42nd Street’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

There’s something about tap dancing, and lots and lots of tap dancers, that makes audiences forgive anything, even the frail silliness of a show like “42nd Street.”
It started out as a 1930s Warner Brothers movie that embraced the glitter required of Depression-era musicals: the little guy (or gal) comes from obscurity and trouble to flourish in hard times, accompanied, often incoherently, by tricky Busby Berkeley numbers.
And, of course, bouncy songs like “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”
Grinning tap dancers.
Sequins.
Lots of sequins.

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“Streetcar,” Even Darker Than Usual

Theater: ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” is almost foolproof. But the production at Williamstown Theatre Festival weakens the dramatic power of this classic American play.

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When Ilene Met Irwin

compass@lakevillejournal.com

It all began at a dinner party in Salisbury. Gloria Miller asked Ilene Tetenbaum how she met her partner, Irwin Leff. “I advertised,” Tetenbaum said, two words that sparked a friendship, a collaboration and a play titled “Adjustment: A Gentle Comedy for Cynical Times” scheduled for a reading at the Berkshire Theater Festival, July 1.

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Lovely! Do It Again, and Again

Theater: Ibsen at Bard
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Was this the wrong room? People were running in circles, fists pumping, heads back, darting and dodging for space.
And against a glassy wall at Bard’s Gehry-built arts center, a small woman with long red hair watched, fist at mouth, the other hand holding a sheaf of papers to her chest.
No. This was the right room. Caitriona McLaughlin was preparing her actors to rehearse the first act of Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck.”
“Remember. Hold on to the relationships you have with each other,” she cried out. “And watch your energy level,” all said with sing-songy inflections.

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A Joyful, Sparkling Production

Theater: ‘Guys and Dolls’

Countless reasons explain why Frank Loesser’s “Guys and Dolls” is a classic of the American musical theater. The plot, the characters, the laughs and, oh yes, the terrific music. All of this is highlighted in Barrington Stage Company’s engaging and vibrant production.

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The Sound of Music Drowns out A Very Nasty Past

Theater: 'The Sound of Music'

Walter Kerr snappishly wrote of “The Sound of Music,” that “it suffers from little children.”
Indeed it does.
But those little children are drawing their every cousin, every uncle, every friend, every voice and tap and acting teacher, every parent and grandparent and every even modestly interested acquaintance of those above to Rhinebeck’s Performing Arts Center, filling the entire house for last Sunday’s matinee.

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