Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 17, 2022

Review: Shakespeare & Company, The Approach

Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA
through May 29, 2022
by Shera Cohen

Photo by Daniel Rader
Three exemplary actresses star in "The Approach," the opening play at Shakespeare & Company. Those audience members who may think that the troupe only performs works of the Bard, realize that about half of the season includes contemporary and/or plays written by everyone else. Mark Rowe's piece falls into the latter category. Unfortunately, the material is not worthy of the directors' energy and actors' acumen.

As an exercise in the portrayal of character study, the play deserves an A+. However, while sometimes "less is more," in this case "less is still less". Tina Packer (S&Co's founder) and Mark Farrell co-direct a series of conversations between female duos. Never, at any point, are all on the stage at the same time, or except for hugs at the end of each scene do they even touch. The actors sit and talk. It is obvious that every word in this very talky play is carefully chosen, just as the directors have purposely chosen each glance and silence.

Two of the women are sisters with a go-between friend as a confidant of each. Michelle Joyner and Shakes regular Elizabeth Aspenlieder portray the estranged siblings, with Nicole Ansari as their mutual friend Cora. The audience soon realizes that the friendship has spanned decades, since grade school. It would be unfair and a misnomer to state that any one actor outshines the others, both in language delivery or silences. 

The fourth wall, the audience, essentially eavesdrops on the trio whose conversations go from mundane and boring to those with deeper meaning, inuendo, and falsehoods; i.e. romances, connections with others. There is an obvious and purposeful lack of connection between each other. Noticeably, the woman sitting in the left chair constantly asks "Why?" She genuinely wants to know the answers, but accepts short, meaningless quips from the other woman.

Why the title, "The Approach," is completely unclear; the play could have easily been titled just about anything else. Not that the actors required wide strokes of active movement on the stage, but focus on dialogue alone can be tedious. The setting is Dublin, Ireland. Yet, again, except at the masterful interpretation of the accents, the location could have been anywhere. 

A course in analyzing depiction of character study, "The Approach" is ideal.

May 16, 2022

REVIEW: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Dances of Spring

Springfield Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
May 13, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran

Mark Russell Smith
Three weeks after leading the first of two spring concerts by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, guest conductor (and former SSO music director) Mark Russell Smith welcomed an eager audience back to Symphony Hall for a diverse selection of music by four composers. 

The program began with “Liquify,” a nine-minute 2018 tone poem by his childhood friend Michael Abels, which Smith introduced as “a collection of riverfront scenes” that local patrons could relate to the Connecticut River. The colorful piece reflected Abels’ background in film music (most notably, the score for the 2017 horror movie “Get Out”), and Smith directed the SSO in an energetic, pulsating traversal.

Next in what he called this opening “triptych of dances” was the more traditional and familiar “Saturday Night Waltz” from Aaron Copland’s 1942 ballet “Rodeo.” The musicians gave the Brooklyn-born composer’s authentic-sounding western rhythms a jaunty yet relaxed flair. The last dance in the triptych was also the most exotic: the closing “Coqueteos” movement of the 2003 suite for string orchestra “Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout,” by California native Gabriela Lena Frank. Drawing on her mother’s Peruvian heritage, Frank describes “Coqueteos” as “a flirtatious love song sung by gallant men known as romanceros.” The SSO’s performance was every bit as “bold and festive” as the composer calls for. 

The evening closed with a cornerstone of the symphonic repertoire: a brilliant account of the first symphony by Johannes Brahms. Premiered in 1876 to popular and critical acclaim, it quickly established Brahms as a worthy successor to Beethoven. From a gripping “Un poco sostenuto” opening passage and a vigorous “Allegro” main part of the first movement, through a lush and radiant “Andante sostenuto,” a graceful and flowing “Un poco allegretto e grazioso,” to a dramatic, then triumphant finale, tempos and balances were virtually ideal throughout. As in the second symphony by Brahms mentor Robert Schumann last month, the result sounded simultaneously fresh and inevitable.  

In pre-concert remarks, SSO Interim Executive Director Paul Lambert promised an upcoming season with at least six concerts by the orchestra. Both of their spring programs demonstrated beyond a doubt that musicians and audience alike are more than ready for this enticing prospect.

Preview: Cirque du Soleil Presents CRYSTAL

Mullins Center, UMASS, Amherst, MA
www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal
May 19-22, 2023

 

CRYSTAL is the very first experience on ice from Cirque du Soleil. World-class ice skaters and acrobats claim their new frozen playground with speed and fluidity as they challenge the laws of gravity with never-before-seen acrobatics.

 

The misfit heroine, Crystal, takes the audience on an exhilarating tale of self-discovery as she dives into a world of her own imagination. CRYSTAL invites you to suspend reality and glide into a world that springs to colorful life the signature sound and sights of Cirque du Soleil. CRYSTAL is suitable for all ages.

 

Scott Smith is one of the performers in this production and he took a few minutes to talk with ITS about this unique theatrical event.

 

ITS: How long have you been skating?

 

SS: Since I was 7 years old. My local skating clubs would put on shows, like “The Nutcracker”. I was a competitive skater for 20 years and won some international medals. Then I did shows, including a combination trapeze/skating act on a cruise ship. So, being a big Cirque fan, when I saw they were looking for performers I was thrilled because, in a way I had been training for this all my life.

 

ITS: Who does the show appeal to more; Cirque fans or ice show fans?

 

SS: It has everything a Cirque fan wants, like the acrobatics, the music, the theatricality. But the show is on the ice, and we have a wide variety of skating styles, like extreme skaters, free style skaters and figure skaters. But unlike a more traditional ice review, it brings that kind of edgy, abstract Cirque feel to it, and it has a LOT more acrobatics.

 

ITS: One doesn’t often associate the word “theatricality” with hockey arena.

The rink completely transforms into a stage, there’s phenomenal projections that are put on to the ice, so that you wouldn’t even know that you are looking at a hockey rink. You get pulled into the story through the lighting and sound.

 

ITS: How many people are on the tour?

SS: 100 people tour, but only about 40 are actually on stage, and the rest support those of us in front of the audience. There’s really another full show going on backstage!

 

ITS: Cirque has shows that are centered on different elements, like water, with different themes and stories. Is there a connecting thread that runs through them makes people such fans?

The production value of a Cirque de Soleil show is always very high, and people appreciate that. And the level of acrobatic performance as well, from the singing to the musicians, to the acrobats and in this case the skaters, there’s a high level of excellence and athleticism needed to be part of the show. The audience knows that they are seeing the crème de le crème.

 

ITS: Any part of “Crystal” that still surprises you?

SS: I’ve done the show over 700 times now and just hearing the music; I still love the music and that’s not always the case. The music in this show is absolutely amazing. And of course, I’m wowed by my colleagues and their skill all the time.

 

ITS: What’s the most interesting reaction you’ve had from people who see the show?

SS: Honestly, a lot of people don’t expect there to be as much skating as there is! There are full skating numbers, full acrobatic numbers, but it is a nice blend of both. There are aerialists, and we have extreme skaters with huge ramps and hockey skates and padding, and flips, and figure skaters like myself with backflips and triple jumps. It really has something for Cirque and skating fans alike. And of course it is very family friendly. 

May 9, 2022

Preview: Wilbraham United Players, Present Laughter

Fellowship Hall Stage, Wilbraham United Church, Wilbraham, MA
Weekends, May 13-22, 2022

Poor Garry Essendine, the famous leading man is not having a good week. The world that
revolves around him is just not behaving as it should. As he faces down the years of middle-age the ingenue he brought home from a party wants to stay with him forever; his not really “ex” wife has him conspiring against his friend and director. His producer’s wife is trying to seduce him; his long-suffering secretary and his servants serve with a side of “sass” and to top it all off a crazy playwright who is a dedicated fan just won’t leave him alone.

Tickets can be purchased in advance on the Player’s website, wilbrahamunitedplayers.org

Preview: Close Encounters with Music, "Reeds and Strings"

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA
May 29, 2022

The organic voice of the oboe, a member of the woodwind family, meets kindred wood string instruments at the May 29 Close Encounters with Music performance on May 29 at 4pm. First oboist of the New York Philharmonic leads the way from Mozart’s Oboe Quartet to Cimarosa’s Oboe Concerto and Benjamin Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, a musical masterpiece that will be accompanied by images of historic paintings of the mythological tales.   

Liang Wang
The Metamorphoses is Ovid's longest extant work, a continuous epic poem in 15 books. Based on the poetry of Hesiod and Callimachus, it features a collection of separate stories linked by the common theme of transformation. A tour de force for oboe players, the programmatic work is a refresher course in Roman mythology and a rare experience for listeners to enjoy the full range of the oboe—from seductive to weeping to simulating flying chariots and thunderbolts, fountains and drunken feasts. 

Oboist Liang Wang is joined by violinists Itamar Zorman and Susan Heerema, violist Michael Strauss, and Close Encounters artistic director and cellist Yehuda Hanani. Zorman, Strauss and Hanani also perform the Beethoven String Trio in C minor, written in his dramatic, misterioso key, with constant dialogue between minor and major, darkness and light.s also an active arranger and editor of scores, as he rarely finds p

May 6, 2022

Preview: MOSSO Summer Concert Series

Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
Various dates throughout Summer 

MOSSO, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, have announced details of their duo summer concerts at Symphony Hall. MOSSO will celebrate the music of Stephen Sondheim and John Williams. These concerts mark the first time in almost 20 years that the musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra have performed summer concerts in Springfield.

On Thursday, June 23, MOSSO celebrates the music of Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim who penned the words and music to Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods. Conductor Tim Stella will lead the program. Stella is former Resident Music Director of Goodspeed Musicals, and a conductor at Radio City Music Hall.

On Thursday, July 21, Maestro Kevin Rhodes returns to Springfield to conduct a MOSSO benefit concert, with a program of light classics and music of renowned composer John Williams, whose works include Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Schindler’s List. Maestro Rhodes will be joined by guest soloist, violinist Yevgeny Kutik, whose two prior solo appearances in Springfield were met with great acclaim.

Maestro Kevin Rhodes served as Music Director and Conductor of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra for 20 seasons, until the SSO paused performances in 2020. Last season, Maestro Rhodes conducted three ballet productions at Milan’s famed Teatro alla Scala.

Tickets for both concerts will go on sale on May 9, 2022.

MOSSO is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, which is not a subsidiary of nor affiliated with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. 

PREVIEW: Berkshire Museum, Little Cinema

PREVIEW: Little Cinema 
Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA
dates vary, May-August, 2022

The big screen in Berkshire Museum's Little Cinema hosts screenings of worldwide theatre and art throughout the summer. The museum announced its lineup of screenings in partnership with Exhibition on Screen, National Theatre Live, and Great Art on Screen.
 
Exhibition on Screen is a look into the life and impact of great artists of the ages. Little Cinema
begins on Thursday, May 19 with Frida Kahlo, a detailed look at the famed artist. Using her letters and key works as guides, this film reveals the secrets behind the bold colors and the symbolism contained within her work. Two screenings of Frida Kahlo will feature Spanish subtitles.
 
National Theatre Live screenings bring the stage performances of various celebrated London theatres to Pittsfield, offering an up-close look at some of the world’s top performers, including Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in the upcoming screening of films including the buzzy, innovative production of Cyrano de Bergerac starring James McAvoy.
 
Great Art on Screen, a series of event documentaries exclusively for cinemas, is an in-depth look into the works and legacy of famed artists. Summer screenings include Raphael: The Young Prodigy, which follows the life story and work of one of the most influential Renaissance painters.
 

April 28, 2022

REVIEW: UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center, Amherst, MA
April 26, 2022
by Jarice Hanson

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is an American treasure. On Tuesday night the extraordinarily talented cast of the North American Tour played to a packed house at the Frederick C. Tillis Performance Hall at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. With an excitedly appreciative audience cheering the performers, the company included seven dances choreographed by the current Artistic Director, Robert Battle, concluding with three classic dance pieces choreographed by the company’s founder, the late Alvin Ailey.   

Enhanced by simple, but elegant costumes, music that ranged from percussion pieces to pop, jazz, and gospel, and simple but mood enhancing lighting, the dancers created an electrifying experience that communicated joy, hope, and the beauty of remembrance.  

One of the Alvin Ailey hallmarks is the use of contemporary music to celebrate the African-American experience. This performance featured songs by Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and Leontyne Price, with instrumental numbers by Wynton Marsalis, Sheila Chandra, and Stevie Wonder.

It is hard to single out specific performers from the ensemble pieces because the very ethos of the company honors the collectivity of Ailey’s vision of celebrating the African-American cultural experience. Every member of the company is versatile and trained in a variety of dance genres. The largest group numbers included the opening “Mass,” featuring the fluidity of the denoted body and the power of coming together (a great metaphor for emerging from the darkest days of a pandemic) and the concluding piece, titled “Revelations” which highlighted traditional American music such as “Pilgrim of Sorrow,” “Take Me to the Water,” and “Move, Members, Move.” Singular dancers were too many to mention by name, but each, a true artist who fluidly supported the ensemble and able to shine when it was their time in the spotlight.

The name of the company reflects not only the company’s visionary founder, but the very specific traditions of American Dance. With references to swing, classical ballet, cakewalks, jazz and more, this company celebrates traditions of persons of color who find the uniqueness in being an “American” in contemporary times. Their musical choices and their physical gifts lift us up and bring us the joy of unity.  

As the audience left the theatre after a rousing standing ovation punctuated by several curtain calls, the feeling was euphoric. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater lifts us by their joy, their enthusiasm, their unique cultural contribution, and most of all, with their beauty, talent, and the joy of life. 

April 26, 2022

REVIEW: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Of Heroes and Poets

Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield, MA
April 22, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran

A sizable and enthusiastic audience gave the SSO and guest conductor Mark Russell Smith (their music director from 1995 to 2000) a warm welcome back to the stage of Symphony Hall, after a long absence, for the first of two concerts the orchestra is presenting this spring. 

In pre-concert remarks, Smith identified the “heroes” in this program’s title as Antonin Dvorak, for the commanding scope of his 1894 cello concerto, and its soloist, for the technical challenges it presents, and the “poets” as composers William Grant Still and Robert Schumann. Still’s 1948 “Danzas de Panama” for string orchestra reflect the Latin and African roots of their Panamanian folk sources. Smith and the SSO launched the evening with lively accounts of the first (“Tamborito”) and fourth (“Cumbia y Congo”) dances, in which the players visibly relished the rare chance to make percussive sounds by striking the sides of their instruments.     
Thomas Mesa

Rising young Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa then made a sensational SSO debut in a thrilling account of Dvorak’s masterful concerto, written in the United States but clearly evoking the musical traditions of his Czech homeland. A Juilliard graduate, winner of several major competitions, and widely acclaimed performer, Mesa brought deep, rich tone and flawless technique to a majestic opening “Allegro” (which also featured a lush solo turn by hornist Robert Hoyle), a soulful “Adagio, ma non troppo,” and a stirring “Allegro moderato” finale. Smith and the ensemble offered heroic and poetic support throughout. 

The concert ended after intermission with a vibrant rendition of Schumann’s second symphony, completed in 1847. From a somber “Sostenuto assai” opening passage to a joyful “Allegro, ma non troppo” main part of the first movement, through a playfully energetic “Allegro vivace” scherzo and a warmly rapturous “Adagio espressivo” slow movement, the emotional heart of the whole work, to a jubilant closing “Allegro molto vivace,” conductor and players had the full measure of this Romantic masterpiece. Strong cohesion and esprit de corps all evening made listeners forget their nearly-two-year hiatus from live performance.   

The SSO’s next spring concert, “Dances of Spring,” also under Smith’s direction, will feature music by Michael Abels, Aaron Copland, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Johannes Brahms on May 13, 2022.  

April 19, 2022

PREVIEW: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Of Heroes and Poets

Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
Friday, April 22, 2022


The Springfield Symphony brings heroic and poetic music to life through the voices of three of music’s most interesting characters.
William Grant Still
 
The prolific and under-appreciated American composer William Grant Still was inspired by the evocative and rhythmic dance music of Panama, and scored dances for the string section.

Bohemian composer Antonin Dvořák, often inspired by folk music, gives Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa the perfect vehicle to share his passion and artistry in his mammoth and definitive Cello Concerto.

The concert concludes with the second symphony of Robert Schumann, the great Romantic composer of songs and symphonies, whose lyrical gifts are unparalleled.

In addition to free parking on concert nights for SSO concert-goers, the MGM Springfield Loop, through PVTA service, provides free public transportation that has several stops within walking distance from Symphony Hall. 

Tickets start at $15 and include free parking for SSO patrons.

April 18, 2022

REVIEW: Escaping Eden, The Hartt School

University of Hartford, Hartford, CT
April 15-16, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

Cast of Escaping Eden
Composer, lyricist, and book writer Dawson Atkin, who was also music director and lead
guitarist, calls “Escaping Eden” a “sung-through folk musical adaptation of the biblical story of Adam and Eve, which examines the story from Eve's perspective to ask questions about gender roles, free will, and the way we tell stories.”

All four cast members were Hartt musical theatre majors, ranging from freshmen to seniors. The four band members, who play two guitars, mandolin, violin, harmonica, and percussion, were all current Hartt instrumentalists. While Atkin credits Jonathan Larson (“Rent”) and Anais Mitchell (“Hadestown”) as major inspirations for “Eden,” the imaginative score and its brilliant realization by the tight ensemble also evoked “Bright Star,” the 2016 Broadway musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.

Like Atkin's one-man “Notes for Me and You” (reviewed by ITS in October 2020), “Escaping Eden” also works as a song cycle, especially in this staged reading. But the richer harmonies and probing interplay of multiple characters in “Eden” show considerable growth in dramatic sophistication over its predecessor. In a post-show interview, Atkin called this “first time writing my own lyrics for a show…a wonderful challenge.” They tell the “Eden” story with a Sondheim-like balance of colloquial and poetic language. 

It would be hard to imagine stronger performances than those by this well-knit cast. Highlights included: Tanner James’s transformation as Adam from contented farmer (a light-hearted “Made for Me”) to committed soulmate to his wife (a blazing “Leap of Faith”); Stephani Bauduccio’s desperate quest as Eve for “more to life than work and lentil soup” (an impassioned “Garden of Stones” and shattering “In the First Place”), Kyle Kobetsky’s evolution as the Serpent from tempter (a seductive “Eve and the Serpent”) to doubter (“The Apple Tree”), and Trenyce Nolan’s steady guidance through the story as the Creator (the opening “Let There Be Light” and closing “Epilogue”).

Atkin’s eclectic musical textures range widely among country/bluegrass (Joseph Hayes’s plucky mandolin in “Lovebirds I” and “Our Home”) to blues (Kelly Gembara’s sensuous violin in “Eve and the Serpent” and “Lullaby”) to emo rock (Wen Wen Van Der Wende’s dramatic percussion in “I Don’t Care”). This world premiere is an exciting new chapter in a promising writer’s career.   

April 15, 2022

REVIEW: Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Rachmaninoff & Tchaikovsky

The Bushnell, Belding Theater, Hartford, CT
April 8-10, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

For the seventh “Masterworks” weekend of their current season, Music Director Carolyn Kuan and the HSO presented two popular Russian favorites that have both earned the sometimes derogatory nickname “warhorses” but which continue to reward close listening in performances as fine as these. 

Henry Kramer
The program opened with a riveting account by rising Maine native Henry Kramer of Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto, written in 1909 as a vehicle for the composer-pianist to play on his first American concert tour. Having started his piano studies at the relatively late age of 11, Kramer is an acclaimed international soloist and competition winner and has taught at multiple music schools.  That experience was evident in his total command of the immense technical challenges posed by the “Rach 3” and the invariable sensitivity of his interpretive choices.

From the soft melancholy opening theme to the massive original cadenza of the Allegro through the hushed radiance of the Intermezzo and the visceral excitement of the Finale, Kuan and the HSO offered their stellar pianist thrilling and committed support. The Belding’s overhead “piano cam” showed the remarkable dexterity and almost nonstop motion of Kramer’s hands in both the concerto and his fluid encore rendition of Chopin’s exuberant D major prelude in response to a standing ovation.  

The concert closed with a vibrant interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony, a sort of 1888 comeback piece after a three-year silence from the composer, which Kuan led and the musicians played with blazing conviction. A somber opening “fate” motive led into an animated Allegro first movement; principal horn Barbara Hill’s solo in the Andante cantabile was tender and restrained; the Allegro moderato waltz was graceful and fleet; and the jubilant Finale transformed “fate” into majestic triumph. For sheer rightness of tempo and balance of shifting moods, this performance set an exceedingly high standard. 

The HSO’s next “Masterworks” program, “Scheherazade & Shankar,” will feature Kuan and sitar player Anupama Bhagwat on May 6-8, 2022.

April 13, 2022

REVIEW: UMass Fine Arts Center, Anat Cohen Quartetinho

Frederick C. Tillis Performance Hall, Amherst, MA
April 9, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

The 24th annual UMass High School Jazz Festival brought student ensembles from around the region to the Amherst campus to perform and take part in clinics and masterclasses by UMass jazz faculty and guest jazz musician/educators, including clarinetist and bandleader Anat Cohen. The daylong event culminated in a public concert by Cohen and her latest musical group, the Quartetinho. 

Anat Cohen
Its four diverse members, all current Brooklyn, NY residents and multi-instrumentalists, are: Tel Aviv native Cohen (clarinet, bass clarinet); Brazilian Vitor Goncalves (piano, keyboards, accordion); Israeli Tal Mashiach (upright bass, seven-string guitar); and, from Maryland, James Shipp (vibes, percussion, electronics).

As their Portuguese name (meaning “little quartet”) suggests, their repertoire is heavily influenced by Brazil, which Cohen said in a post-show Q&A she first visited in 2000 and “never looked back.” The opening set included pieces by two of that country’s greatest composers, Egberto Gismonti and Antonio Carlos Jobim, in distinctive interpretations that showcased the group’s breathtaking individual and collective improvisational skills. 

Other highlights were several songs written by band members, including a tender tribute to his grandparents that featured Mashiach on guitar, and a lively waltz by Cohen built around a complex rhythmic scheme. Most moving was a powerful arrangement, spotlighting Cohen’s bass clarinet and Mashiach’s string bass, of “Goin’ Home,” the slow movement theme from Dvorak’s “New World” symphony, which they premiered at Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein’s funeral last fall and here dedicated to “all the displaced people” around the world.

Praising the warm acoustics of Tillis Hall, Cohen was a charismatic performer, in almost constant motion around the ample stage as she played. Her tone on both instruments was unfailingly pure and mellow, even through occasional shrieks and wails for emphasis. All four players shifted with easy virtuosity among their various instruments, exuding a sense of joy and mutual admiration that was infectious. 

This rapport extended to the post-show Q&A moderated by Brazilian-born UMass jazz professor Felipe Salles. The musicians’ spirited exchanges with student audience members augured well for the next generation of jazz performers and educators.  

April 6, 2022

Preview: The Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Summer Concert Series

The Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield, MA and Vicinity
Several dates and venues
April 6, 2002 

MOSSO, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, have announced a summer concert series of three programs, two in Springfield Symphony Hall, and the third, an outdoor brass quintet program in Forest Park.

According to MOSSO Chair Beth Welty, “Our musicians are performing concerts in April and May in Symphony Hall because the Springfield Symphony Orchestra was mandated to produce those concerts by the National Labor Relations Board. But, although the musicians have been in negotiation with the SSO since late 2019, our community has not yet had a steady series of professional quality live orchestra programs. MOSSO is here to provide that music.” Welty added, “There has not been an ongoing summer pops series since the SSO performed in Westfield’s Stanley Park some twenty years ago.”

On Thursday, June 23, MOSSO will celebrate the music of the late, legendary Broadway composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, who penned the words and music to A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, and others. Broadway conductor Tim Stella (of The Phantom of The Opera and Hello, Dolly!) will lead the program, joined by some major Broadway stars. 

On Thursday, July 21, Maestro Kevin Rhodes will return to Springfield to conduct a program of light classics and music of renowned composer John Williams, whose works include Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Schindler’s List. Maestro Rhodes will be joined by a guest soloist. This will be a benefit concert for MOSSO, so that the nonprofit organization can continue to deliver professional symphonic music to Greater Springfield and Western MA. 

On Saturday, August 13 (Rain date: Sunday, August 14), a MOSSO brass quintet will perform a free concert at Camp Star Angelina, Trafton Road in Forest Park, Springfield. This concert will be produced for MOSSO by Bing Productions. No tickets are required.

PREVIEW: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Spring 2022 Concerts

Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield, MA
by Michael J. Moran 

Mark Russell Smith
The SSO will present two concerts this spring, on Friday, April 22, and Friday, May 13. Both
programs will be led by Minneapolis-based Mark Russell Smith, SSO Music Director from 1995 through 2000. They will take place at 7:30pm in Springfield’s Symphony Hall. 

Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa will be the featured visiting artist for the first concert, “Of Heroes and Poets.” Mesa is affiliated with the Detroit-based Sphinx organization. Focused on increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music, Sphinx is a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Mesa will perform Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. The SSO will also present William Grant Still’s “Danzas de Panama,” featuring Latin tunes and rhythms, and Robert Schumann’s Symphony #2. 

Speaking in a recent interview about “classics” like Dvorak’s concerto, Mesa said, “I’m always looking for the new, even, I think, in these great works that are actually really old.” For the past ten years, he has played a cello made by Richard Tobin in 1820. This cello was used to record soundtracks for the first movies ever created. 

On May 13, in a program called “Dances of Spring,” the orchestra will play Michael Abels’ “Liquify,” Aaron Copland’s “Saturday Night Waltz” from the ballet “Rodeo,” Gabriela Lena Frank’s “Coquetos from An Andean Walkabout,” and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony #1. 

Abels is a U.S. composer and producer best known for his scores for the Oscar-winning films, Get Out and Us. Born in Berkeley, California to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions. 

Tickets may be purchased through the SSO box office (413-733-2291) or online at the orchestra’s web site: www.springfieldsymphony.org

March 30, 2022

REVIEW: The Bushnell, Dear Evan Hansen

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
Through April 3, 2022
By Jarice Hanson

Audiences in the Pioneer Valley/Nortern CT have been waiting for the touring company of the Broadway hit, “Dear Evan Hansen” since May, 2020 when it was originally scheduled to come to the Bushnell.  

Now that the pandemic has allowed touring companies to perform again, run--don’t walk--to see this wonderful story brought to life by an extraordinary company of actors/singers and musicians.

photo by Mathew Murphy
“Dear Evan Hansen” is ultimately a story of how hard it is to be a young person, social anxiety, parental relationships, and the aloneness of contemporary life.  E-mail is the way of communicating, and when Evan is instructed by his doctor to write a letter to himself, he composes a letter thought by others, to be his classmate Connor’s admission of his despair. The story deals tough subjects, including suicide, but it is also a story about hope and figuring out how the real world is preferable to the online world of lies and innuendo. 

There are 17 actors in the company, but only eight perform each night. On opening night Sam Primack, listed in the program as the “alternate” Evan Hansen took the lead with his boyish charm and skilled vocalizations. A totally believable lovable nerd, Evan is the kid in every class that everyone overlooks. When he has an encounter with a troubled teen named Connor, his imagination spins into a story that filled with humor, and an overshadowing sadness that gives this tale a contemporary wallop that had most of the audience in tears by the end of Act I. 

Nikhil Saboo, as Connor, has a voice like an angel, and when Alessandro Costantini as Jared, a kid with an entrepreneurial streak, joins in the trio, the three “boys” light up the stage with clever choreography by Danny Mefford. 

The songs carry most of the story that is supplemented by dialog and brilliant staging by Director Michael Grief. Every performer is perfect in their roles, and the sound design (sometimes a problem at the Bushnell) allows the singers articulation to carry the meaning in the extraordinary songs penned by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Music Director Garret Healey on keyboards conducted the seven live musicians on a cantilevered platform, and were perfectly attuned to the singers’ voices.

Every cast member is a standout, and most have Broadway credits to their names. Jessica E. Sherman was exceptionally moving as Evan’s mother; Claire Rankin and James Moye as Connor’s bereaved parents; and Stephanie La Rochelle as Zoe, their daughter, personalized the grief that can tear a family apart. Another “student” who becomes involved in the plan to memorialize Connor, is played by Ciara Alyse Harris, who demonstrates stage presence far beyond her years.

It’s easy to see why “Dear Evan Hansen” won six Tony Awards, including “Best Musical.” As an anthem to mental health and the problems of youth, the show seems timeless. It was also notable that the audience was comprised of a number of single parents and their teens. It’s a story that ultimately does what theater does best—it exposes the humanity we all need. This production, delayed by the pandemic, shows that life goes on and can be absolutely wonderful.

March 24, 2022

PREVIEW: Playhouse on Park, Divas: Double or Nothing

Playhouse on Park, West Hartford, CT
through March 27, 2022























Photo Credit: Rich Wagner

Ever wish you could see all of your favorite DIVAS on one stage? Well, thanks to award-winning choreographer/director, Darlene Zoller, West Hartford is getting the DIVA treatment! Our resident dance company, stop/time dance theater, now in its 17th year, is bringing the heat and paying homage to all of your favorites: Cher, Tina, Gloria, Shania, Dolly, Whitney...and more! DIVAS is an original show featuring 18 outstanding company members who will sing and dance their way into your heart with a mix of tap, jazz, swing and funk. This will be a non-stop, high-energy extravaganza with high kicks and even higher notes, so grab some friends and get your tickets today! And remember...what happens at Playhouse on Park stays at Playhouse on Park (but you’re going to want to tell everyone you know)!

COVID-19 Policy: All patrons must be fully vaccinated. Vaccination card, government issued ID, and masks are required for all patrons.

March 23, 2022

Preview: K and E Theater Group, Altar Boyz

Northampton Center for the Arts, Northampton, MA
www.KETG.org
March 24 - 27, 2022

"ALTAR BOYZ" is a foot-stomping, rafter-raising, musical comedy about a fictitious Christian boy-band on the last night of their national 'Raise the Praise' tour. The Boyz are five all-singing, all-dancing heartthrobs from Ohio: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham. The Boyz perform their signature hits such as 'Rhythm In Me,' 'The Calling,' and 'I Believe' along with spectacular choreography. Not just great singing troupe, there is a plot to this musical as the Boyz  question their loyalty to each other and ask whether or not faith is really holding them together.

Full of sharp parody, sinfully spectacular dancing and irreverent humor, "ALTAR BOYZ" has been adored by audiences all over the world. With an extraordinary mix of side-splitting songs, uncontrollable laughs and light-hearted fun, this award-winning and totally original musical is 90-minutes of heavenly delight that is destined to rock the masses of all denominations!

Bill Martin is the musical director. K and E Theater Group Artistic Director Eddie Zitka is the director and choreographer.

Performances run from Thursday, March 24, through Sunday, March 27, 2022 at Northampton Center for the Arts, 33 Hawley Street, Northampton, MA. 

Tickets are general admission for $27.00. There is no reserved seating.

For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit KETG.org.
 
* There are strobe light effects used in this production.
** Proof of vaccination and face coverings that cover the nose and mouth will be required for entrance and while seated at the Northampton Center for the Arts.

March 17, 2022

Preview: Majestic Theater, Blithe Spirit

Majestic Theater, West Springfield MA
through April 3, 2022
by Tim O’Brien

The formal title of this play is “Blithe Spirit; An Improbable Farce in Three Acts.” Author Noel Coward famously dashed off the formidably lengthy script in less than a week in early 1941.

Upscale British author Charles Condomine has invited village psychic Madame Arcati to his Kent home for a summer’s eve séance, as research for an upcoming novel. The spiritualist inadvertently conjures up the ghost of Charles’ young wife Elvira – deceased for seven years now. Life in the Condomine household shall never be the same.

While the inherent comic premise of the script is mild by contemporary standards, director Sue Dziura has dealt admirably with the biggest challenge (sheer time) by setting a very brisk pace. The cast - clearly up to the task - deliver their lines in a classic Coward-esque rapid-fire and keep things moving.

Russell Garrett (Charles) is at the hub of the plot, and delivers everything the role demands, from bored English privilege to terrified realization. Only Charles can see Elvira, which causes immediate problems with his very-much-alive-so-far second wife, Ruth.

Sarah Corbyn Woolf charms as the ethereal Elvira. Her arc from bemused spirit returned to Earth to malevolent plotter is well-nuanced. Jeannine Haas (Madame Arcati) earns many of the biggest laughs as the eccentric medium, giving her country-side accent and an air of genuine unpredictability.

Stuart Gamble and Christine Voytko (Doctor and Mrs. Brandman, respectively) are exactly right as the earnest country physician and his wife, who is a bit star-struck by Madame Arcati.

Caelie Scott (Edith) darts through the production as the over-eager maid, trying hard to please. She displays a lovely singing voice in the endgame as well.

For being more than 80 years old, "Blithe Spirit" has aged well, and this Majestic Theater production does it proud. Catch it if you can.

REVIEW: Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Italian

The Bushnell, Belding Theater, Hartford, CT
March 11-13, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

As a gesture of solidarity with the suffering people of Ukraine and a reminder that music reflects the full range of human experience, Music Director Carolyn Kuan began each concert of the sixth “Masterworks” weekend of their current season by leading the HSO in the Ukrainian national anthem. HSO musicians also wore Ukrainian flag emblems over their hearts. 

The following program surrounded a 21st-century concerto with two popular favorites by Felix Mendelssohn, opening with four numbers from his incidental music for an 1843 Berlin production of Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” A playful “Intermezzo,” a radiant “Nocturne,” a mercurial “Scherzo,” and a magisterial “Wedding March” were all performed with conviction and finesse. 

The concert’s centerpiece was American composer Kevin Putz’s Flute Concerto, whose 2013 world premiere in California was led by Kuan. Her humorous spoken introduction included helpful excerpts played by orchestra members and rising Chicago-born soloist Demarre McGill. He met the piece's technical challenges with fluid tone, dexterity, and emotional sensitivity, from a virtuosic first movement (marked “With great sincerity and affection; flexible, with motion”) and a sensuous “Andante” to a rollicking finale (“Very fast, with tremendous energy”). 

The colorful orchestration of Putz’s lush and attractive score, which included a ravishing quotation from Mozart’s twenty-first piano concerto and a joyous round of clapping, offered the musicians, especially the percussionists, many opportunities to show off, which they did with flair and panache.    

The program closed with a blazing account of Mendelssohn’s fourth symphony, which he based on his 1831 travels through Italy and always called his “Italian” symphony. Inspired by Kuan’s animated leadership, the orchestra tore with gusto into an exuberant opening “Allegro vivace,” a stately “Andante con moto,” a tender “Con moto moderato,” and a breathless closing “Saltarello: Presto.” The cohesive power of this performance made it all the more surprising that the composer didn’t allow the work to be published in his lifetime because he doubted its quality. 

The HSO’s next “Masterworks” program, “Rachmaninoff & Tchaikovsky,” will feature Kuan and pianist Henry Kramer on April 8-10, 2022.

March 14, 2022

REVIEW: Exit 7 Players, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Exit 7 Players, Ludlow, MA
through March 20, 2022
by Jarice Hanson

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time originated in London’s West End in 2012 and came to Broadway two years later, winning multiple Tony Awards and the “Best Play” award in 2015. The show is based on the novel by Mark Haddon and adapted by Simon Stephens, and tells the story of Christopher, a neurodivergent 15-year-old, who stumbles upon a neighbor’s murdered dog and writes about the experience of trying to find the murderer. In the process, he negotiates his first foray into the sensory-stimulating world of dealing with police who initially think he killed the dog, to negotiating train travel to find his mother, and dealing with people whom he can’t and won’t trust. 

The play gives the audience an insight into the mind of a young man coming of age who is on the Autism Spectrum. Without ever specifying Christopher’s condition, the staging of the play itself brings us into the mind of a person for whom sensory overload is a matter of daily life. It’s a play so well written and so sensitively structured, it would be rare for a community theater to successfully tackle the subject. Fortunately, in the hands of director Michael O. Budnick and a cast of hard-working actors, Exit 7’s production hits the mark. 

Young Lucas Gonsalves very ably portrays Christopher, the sparkplug who drives the show. Gonsalves has fine stage presence, a believable British accent, and the physical stamina to sustain the energy of the show. Make no mistake—this is a very taxing role, and Gonsalves commits to it fully. He demonstrates a range that allows him to moderate his performance between moments of frenzy and a controlled collapse when external forces require the character to completely shut down in withdrawal.    

Jason Rose-Langston very effectively portrays Christopher's father as he deals with his son’s gifts and limitations, while still making you believe he deeply loves his son and struggles to understand him. Equally up to the challenge of the role is Gilana Chelimsky who portrays Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher, who adds an effective measure of control to the events that draw young Christopher into the functioning world while she recognizes his very special talent for math and systematic information processing. Also of note is Jami Wilson's performance in the pivotal role of Christopher's mother.

Much of the show depends on helping the audience experience the sensory overload that drives Christopher’s boundless energy.  The set constructed by Michael O. Budnick, Frank Croke, and Bruce Torrey is a masterpiece of projections, light, and sound that defies the limitations of the space and gives attention to the ensemble of Nancy Wright, Jeffrey Flood, Andy Price, Dan Jarvis, Hannah Zaitz, and Teresa Allie, all of whom play multiple roles, and who hit their marks with precision, timing, and control.   

Kudos to Exit 7 Players who recognized the importance of this very unique story and who so effectively take the audience into the mind of a young man who is considered “different.” In their telling of the story, they reach into our hearts and minds to show the beauty in love that cuts through all of our differences.

March 10, 2022

Review: The Bushnell, My Fair Lady

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through March 14, 2022 
by Rebecca Phelps
 
When you arrive at the Bushnell Theatre get ready to sit back and soak in nostalgia for this beloved and most popular Lerner and Loewe musical. This newly minted Lincoln Center revival of the iconic classic "My Fair Lady" does not hold back on the glamourous costumes, sumptuous sets, full orchestra, and spectacle that audiences love to see fully realized on stage. Director Bartlett has mastered the art of reviving an old classic, updating it, and yet keeping all the original charm in the script and music as written.
 
Shereen Ahmed plays the role of Eliza Doolittle, the lowly girl selling flowers at Covent Garden when the opera lets out. She shows herself to be no shrinking violet right from the start when she realizes that Professor Higgins is writing down every word she says. Unfortunately for this reviewer as well as audience members, her cockney accent was so pronounced she was not only difficult for Professor Higgins to understand, but difficult for the audience to understand as well. One member of the audience commented that she needed closed captioning. Nevertheless, as soon as Ahmed opened her mouth to sing, we were immediately transported by her crystal clear, effortless singing voice. It was obvious that her voice training regimen with Higgins began to pay off in the story; her lines became easy to understand. Ahmed made for a sensational Eliza, as poised, elegant, and self-possessed as one could imagine.
 
Laird Macintosh portrays Henry Higgins as an appropriately blustery, privileged, bullying, and winey mama's boy.  Alfred Pariseau makes the most of his role as Colonel Pickering - a difficult one with relatively few lines but lots of stage time. Martin Fisher rounds out the major cast of characters as the often scene stealing role of Alfred Doolittle (Eliza's unlikely philosophical father). The accents utilized by Alfie, Mrs. Higgins, Mrs. Pearce and Alfie's wife-to-be represent several well-defined accents; a tribute to the detailed work that went into this production.
 
One can't leave out a mention of the huge, beautifully elaborate set that is on stage for most of the production. It is an enormous piece depicting Higgins' library, complete with circular stairway, that rotates bringing Bushnell's patrons into four different rooms in the house. Often the set is moving as the servants and other cast members walk through from one room to another in elaborate choreography. The show is worth seeing just for that alone.

The Bushnell's "My Fair Lady" makes for a delightful well-spent evening being transported into a world of classic musical theater bliss.

March 7, 2022

REVIEW: UMass Fine Arts Center, “Guitarra!” Berta Rojas

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA 
March 5, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

As the exclamation point after the title of this concert suggests, the quiet charisma and impressive virtuosity of Paraguayan guitarist Berta Rojas not only won a standing ovation from a nearly full house in the intimate Eric Carle Museum auditorium but inspired such post-show comments from satisfied concertgoers as “That was amazing!” and “How do you even do that?” 

Berta Rojas
Rojas built each half of her program around one of two preeminent women guitarist-composers of the past century. The first half honored French musician Ida Presti, who has been called “the greatest guitarist of the 20th century and possibly of all time.” In both the opening “Segovia,” Presti’s rhapsodic 1962 tribute to Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia, and “Danse Rythmique,” her joyful 1959 homage to her husband, guitarist Alexandre LaGoya, Rojas navigated the swift changes of tempo and mood with flawless dexterity and interpretive sensitivity. 

British composer-guitarist John Duarte’s 1982 “Idylle pour Ida,” commemorating Presti, and Spanish composer Federico Moreno Torroba’s 1924 “Sonatina,” whose first movement Presti played on her debut recording in 1938, drew equally deft performances from Rojas, especially in the Sonatina’s lush and haunting central movement, to complete the concert’s first half. 

The second half featured four compositions by Argentinian guitarist-composer Maria Luisa Anido. The gentle melancholy of her 1971 “Preludio Lejania,” the high spirits of her folklike “Aire de Vidalita,” and the mercurial colors of her “Triste No. 1” culminated in the emotional intensity of “El Misachico,” a funeral march in memory of Anido’s mother, in which Rojas added percussive effects by tapping the bridge and side of her guitar. 

Brazilian composer-guitarist Sergio Assad’s 2015 suite “Anido’s Portrait,” commissioned by Rojas, depicts in four short movements places that helped shape Anido’s life and career: Argentina, Spain, Russia, and Cuba. Rojas skillfully balanced the high energy of “Zapateado” and “Aire de Salsa” with the subtler rhythms of “Chacarera” and “Aire de Kalinka.” 

Her moving encore was a spellbinding account of her countryman Augustin Barrios’s final composition, “El Ultimo Tremolo.” The clear acoustic of the Carle auditorium, which Rojas called “a beautiful space to play guitar,” and her warmly personal spoken introductions to the music further enhanced this memorable event.

February 28, 2022

Preview: Academy of Music, Altar Boyz

Academy of Music, Northampton, MA
www.KETG.org
March 24-27, 2022

This winner of the 2005 Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding Best Off-Broadway Musical is a foot-stomping, rafter-raising, musical comedy about a fictitious Christian boy-band on the last night of their national 'Raise the Praise' tour. "Altar Boyz" will be performed by K and E Theatre Group.    

The Boyz are five all-singing, all-dancing heartthrobs from Ohio: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham. With their tight harmonies and spectacular choreography, the troupe will delight  audiences. As they perform their signature hits such as 'Rhythm In Me,' 'The Calling,' and 'I Believe,' the Boyz question their loyalty to each other and ask whether or not faith is really holding them together.

Full of sharp parody, sinful dancing and irreverent humor, the musical brings an extraordinary mix of side-splitting songs, uncontrollable laughs and light-hearted fun, this award-winning and totally original musical is 9minutes of heavenly delight that is destined to rock the masses of all denominations!

The Boyz raising the praise are Dante Woods as Matthew, Michael DeVito as Mark, David Webber as Luke, Michael Luciano as Juan, and Christopher Marcus as Abraham. Bill Martin is the musical director. K and E Theater Group Artistic Director Eddie Zitka is director and choreographer.

Tickets are general admission for $27.00. There is no reserved seating.

February 16, 2022

Preview: MA Create the Vote Fellowship

A yearlong program, the Create the Vote Fellowship is a learning community for grassroots organizers focused on building advocacy, creating knowledge, and sustaining political power in Massachusetts’ arts and cultural sector. The inaugural class of Fellows is composed of nine artists and cultural leaders from across Massachusetts.

Over the next 11 months, Create the Vote Fellows will develop their grassroots organizing knowledge and strengthen their professional network through sharing, learning, networking, and mentorship. A key feature of the Fellowship will be co-designing a strategy to strengthen and support local and regional networks of arts and cultural advocates. Create the Vote Fellows will also work collaboratively with a broader coalition for arts and cultural advocates in the Commonwealth to engage votes and candidates in the 2022 statewide elections.

The Fellowship hopes that others will join in celebrating the inaugural Create the Vote Fellowship cohorts.

The Create the Vote Fellowship is generously supported by the Barr Foundation.

For further information, contact www.mass-creative.org


February 4, 2022

Preview: Ja'Duke Theatre, Nunsense: The Musical

Ja'Duke Theatre, Turners Falls, MA

www.JaDukeTheater.com

through February 27, 2022 

 

Ja’Duke Theater is proud to present "Nunsense," this year’s first musical of the highly anticipated Ja’Duke 25th Anniversary Season. The play is directed by Ja’Duke's founder Nick Wanyelovich with choreography by Eula Sagan.  "Nunsense' will be presented in the brand new, state of the art, Ja’Duke Theater.

 

"Nunsense" is a hilarious spoof about the misadventures of five nuns trying to manage a fundraiser with a supporting cast of 20 nuns, the Little Sisters of Hoboken. Sadly, the rest of the sisterhood died from botulism after eating vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia Child of God. Thus, the remaining nuns – ballet-loving Sister Leo (Jenna DiDonato), street-wise Sister Robert Anne (Samantha Myburgh), befuddled Sister Mary Amnesia (Rachel Howe), the Mother Superior Sister Regina (Judith Dean Kulp), and mistress of the novices Sister Mary Hubert (Juniper Holmes) and the Little Sisters of Hoboken – stage a talent show in order to raise the money to bury their dearly departed.

 

Ja’Duke Theater is continuing its quest to bring laughter and joy into people's lives during these trying times. With catchy songs and irreverent comedy, Nunsense is sure to keep audiences rolling with laughter and wanting more.  After all, Nunsense is Habit Forming!

Preview: Jacob's Pillow, Festival 2022

Jacob's Pillow, Becket, MA
June 2022- August, 28, 2022

Festival 2022 will feature 10 weeks of on-site programming, running June 22 through August 28.
For Festival 2022, audiences will return to the newly renovated Ted Shawn Theatre, which will reopen for the Festival in June. The Pillow’s flagship performance space, opened in 1942 as the first theater built for dance in the U.S., will have a new cooling and air ventilation system, orchestra pit, expanded accessibility for artists and audience members, an increased stage depth (by 10 ft.), and enhanced technology among other improvements. Companies will also perform on the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage and at sites across the campus.

For 10 weeks of on-site programming, the renowned Jacob's Pillow has confirmed companies and engagements to perform in Festival 2022 this summer which include: America(na) to me, Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE, BODYTRAFFIC, SW!NG OUT, A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, Limón Dance Company, Music from the Sole, Black Grace, Taylor Stanley, Michelle N. Gibson with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Liz Lerman, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dance Heginbotham, and Miami City Ballet.

Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and home to America's longest-running international dance festival, currently in the midst of its transition to becoming a year-round center for dance through a five-year strategic plan titled Vision ‘22.

For Festival 2022, audiences will return to the newly renovated Ted Shawn Theatre, which will reopen for the Festival in June. The Pillow’s flagship performance space, opened in 1942 as the first theater built for dance in the U.S., will have a new cooling and air ventilation system, orchestra pit, expanded accessibility for artists and audience members, an increased stage depth (by 10 ft.), and enhanced technology among other improvements. Companies will also perform on the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage and at sites across the campus.