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Are We There Yet?: Digging Disney
By Rebecca Dravis On: 09:59PM / Thursday June 12, 2014
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Disney's "The Little Mermaid" came out when I was around 16 years ago. I very clearly recall rolling my eyes in typical teenage fashion when my mother asked if I wanted to watch it. Watch a Disney movie? That was so for babies.

But I watched it anyway ... and fell in love with everything Disney. Within a few years I had amassed a collection of Disney VHS videos, videos that I still have, videos that are the reason I might be one of the two people left in Massachusetts with a couple VCRs still in my house, videos that I could not wait to show my own daughter. "The Jungle Book." "The Fox and the Hound." "Aladdin."

Magical.

I have continued that collection since my daughter was born, only now my personal copies are on DVDs (though I feel like I might be one of the 10 people left in Massachusetts with a regular DVD player, as Blue Ray is all the rage, at least until something even better comes out and they try to make us think we need to buy copies of everything we already own in whatever format that ends up being). The latest in my collection is "Frozen," which I wasn't prepared to love as much as I did. It's not only the amazing music, it's the story and its message. I love that in the end, it's the love between sisters that saves the day, not a prince. Awesome!

This Saturday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m., Images Cinema, our cool local movie house in Williamstown, will show "Frozen." Images doesn't typically show Disney movies, but there is a special reason for this one: It's Williams College reunion weekend, and the movie's Oscar-winning hit song “Let it Go” was co-written by Williams alum Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Regular ticket prices apply, but lest you think it's silly to pay to see a movie you own (and I know most of the people reading this column probably DO own it), I guarantee watching it in Images with an intimate crowd sure to include children singing along will be an amazing experience. How do I know? My fellow Girl Scout leaders and I showed it to a group of 25 second-graders and listening to all of them belt out "Let it Go" together was extraordinarily cool to hear. Images is located, by the way, at 50 Spring St. in downtown Williamstown, which should be hopping this weekend with alumni.

And speaking of Disney princesses, there is, of course, Cinderella. Remember how she has nothing to wear to the ball until the fairy godmother swoops in to save the day? Mill City Productions in North Adams is debuting a show this weekend in which Cinderella has nothing to wear to the ... disco??? Yes, "Cinderalla Goes Disco" will play Fridays, June 13 and 20 at 7 p.m., Saturdays, June 14 and 21 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sundays, June 15 and 22, at 2 p.m. at the Mill City Theatre in Building 4N (next to the Visitor's Center) of the Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams.

Mill City promises this to be an interactive play that will allow children from the audience to shine on stage with the actors and is fun for the whole family. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for students/seniors and will be available at the door. For more information, visit www.millcityproductions.org.

Not sure if your child would like "Cinderella Goes Disco"? Look this weekend as my 8-year-old and I kick off a yet-to-be-named series of summer family theater reviews in which she and I will see family plays all around the Berkshires and then discuss the pros and cons for the kiddos. "Cinderella" is our first stop, and we are excited to work on this project together this summer. Beats sitting around the couch moaning "I'm borrrred" all summer!

 

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Summer on Stage
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:26PM / Thursday June 05, 2014
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I promised you a column of summer family fun. First I'm going to start with theater, not only because there is so much family theater in a Berkshire summer but also because I live with a little actress who likes nothing more than being on stage.

One of our favorites is Shakespeare & Company's Rose Footprint productions, outdoor theater under the big round tent, where the audience sits in lawn chairs and the actors run around and through the audience and interact with them. This year, the production is "The Servant of Two Masters," billed on S&Co's website as "a comical blend of the Italian classic Commedia dell’arte and contemporary performance styles that tells the story of the outrageous and wily servant, Truffaldino, who secretly signs on with two masters simultaneously."

The actors are young, colorful and funny, and kids of all ages will love this show, which runs three times a week from June 25 through Aug. 23.

From July 23 through Aug. 10, Barrington Stage Company will present "Hairspray Jr." at the theater in the Berkshire Museum. Based on the film and Tony Award-winning stage musical of the same name, "Hairspray Jr." follows spunky plus-sized teen Tracy Turnblad as she pursues her dream of dancing on national television and navigates the racial tensions and stereotypes of the 1960s. Please note that children under 5 are not allowed into the theater.

Just over the border in Chatham, N.Y., the Mac-Haydn Theatre — the very cool theater in the round — will host another season of children's theater on Friday and Saturday mornings starting June 27. This year's productions are "Wilbur the Not-So-Big, Not-So-Bad Wolf," "Aladdin," "The Pied Piper" and "Rumplestiltskin." Every show we've seen in this theater has been amazing, and I highly recommend the short drive across state lines.

Back in Massachusetts, Berkshire Theatre Group presents "Seussical the Musical" at The Colonial in Pittsfield from Aug. 7-17. On its website, BTG says actors will be "flown" through the theater for the second year. I missed "Peter Pan" last summer but apparently that was such a big hit they're flying again this year. Pretty cool.

The last production I will mention is the free outdoor theater that Williamstown Theatre Festival presents every year. While I miss the colorful on-stage show the young actors used to present, I will admit that last year's production of "Dracula" was awesome. In fact, I liked it so much I read the book over the winter. (Well, by "read" I actually mean "listen to on CD" but whatever.) Anyway, this year WTF is presenting "Robin Hood" from July 16-25. The WTF website says "the Williamstown woods are magically transformed into Sherwood Forest as sought-after director Stella Powell-Jones enlivens this legendary swashbuckling adventure on the outdoor free theater stage." Magic, yes, but also buggy so don't forget the spray!

If I've missed any family theater fun, I'll catch up on it next week. For this weekend, enjoy what looks like gorgeous weather with two fishing derbies. On Saturday, June 7, the 22nd annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby takes place at the Frank Controy Pavilion at Onota Lake in Pittsfield from 6 a.m. to noon to raise money for the Jimmy Fund. Fee is $10 adults, $5 for children ages 14 and younger. On Sunday, June 8, the 20th annual Fishing Derby at Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington will be held for youth up to age 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. No fishing experience necessary. Prizes and souvenirs for all participants will be provided through generous community donations. Funds raised will support the Action Adventures Out-Of-School Financial Assistance Program.

Summer is coming!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Remembering Harley
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:14PM / Thursday May 15, 2014
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No one should ever have to suffer the pain of losing a child.

As a parent of a child with two autoimmune diseases, I face that terror perhaps more often than most parents. But I'm sure anyone reading this column, any parent, would feel nothing short of sheer despair should something happen to their child.

That's why I cried when I heard about Harley Ogle.

I heard about the death of this Pittsfield second-grader from my mother, who used to work with Harley's grandmother. She hesitated when telling me, obviously sensitive to my own situation with my daughter. Harley died in his sleep; my daughter has type 1 diabetes, and most type 1 kids who die do so in their sleep. When she told me, my heart ached for this family. She told me how she and Harley's grandmother had become grandmas around the same time: He was born just a few months after my own daughter, and while they worked together they shared pictures and stories of their beautiful grandbabies as they grew into infants and toddlers and little kids. This year, they both entered second grade, my daughter with her health issues and Harley with some of his own.

But my daughter made it to her 8th birthday. Harley died this spring just a couple weeks before his own 8th birthday. My mother went to the wake and cried hard, both for Harley and for the fear she feels as the grandmother of my daughter. In fact, she cried so hard that Harley's grandmother came to check on HER the following week to make sure SHE was all right.

I share this story not to be have a depressing column this week. I share it to urge you to help turn Harley's death into something positive. 

This Sunday, May 18, Harley will be remembered with a benefit at the Back Nine Bar & Grill, 303 Crane Ave., Pittsfield, from 3 to 10 p.m. There will be food, raffles and live music by Rev Tor, Domino Theory, B.A. Dario, Longview Gunslingers, and Chris Merenda. All proceeds will support the Pittsfield Family YMCA licensed elementary school-age programs, which Harley attended at Williams Elementary School. Attendees who provide school supply donations will receive two free raffle tickets; supplies that are needed include board games, arts and crafts, markers, scissors, UNO cards, Jenga, paper, books, sidewalk chalk, glue/glue sticks, pencils and erasers and Legos.

Tickets are $10 and are available at Nichols Package Store, Wheeler's Market in Lanesborough and at the Pittsfield Family YMCA. For more information, contact family friend Lindsay Dambrauskas at 413-212-1479.

If you want to know more about Harley and the lives he touched in his short time on Earth, visit the Facebook page set up in his honor. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy, and hug your own kids a little harder tonight.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Gone To The Dogs
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:29PM / Thursday May 01, 2014
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"Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once wrote five very wise words: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” 

This Saturday, May 3, dogs take center stage at both ends of Berkshire County. 

First, in Williamstown, the annual Humane Race to benefit the Berkshire Humane Society starts at 10 a.m. on Water Street. Rain or shine (unfortunately, it's looking like rain, and no one ever said happiness is a wet puppy), this 12th annual 5K Fun Run and One Mile Walk - with or without your dog - will offer a day of outdoor entertainment for the entire family.  The race begins at 10 a.m., with check-in and race day registration starting at 8 a.m. Finish line festivities will include music, games, prizes and food booths. Race Day Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for children. To learn more about the event, visit www.humanerace.org.

Then, later in the day, people can come to the Mason Library in Great Barrington from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. to meet Jori, the Great Barrington police dog, and his officer, Tim Ullrich. Jori will do a sniffing demonstration, and show his knowledge of signals and commands. Jori, a German shepherd from Slovakia, became the town’s first K-9 officer in 2011. His arrival was truly a community affair: to bring Jori to town, the department raised $30,000 from 26 donors to pay for veterinary bills, retrofitting of one of the police vehicles and setting up a donation account to cover future costs.

If you're looking for something to do with the kids on Sunday, May 4, head to Dalton for the annual Dalton CRA May Day Race & Obstacles and Popsicles for Kids. A 5K and 10K race start at 9:30 a.m., but the fun for kids starts at 10:30 a.m. The race happens behind Nessacus Middle School; the kids do not go on any roads. Those 8 and under will run half a mile and those 9 to 12 will run a mile. The races include fun obstacles and all finishers get a ribbon and freeze pop; awards will be given to the top three boys and girls in each age group. The cost is $6.

And as we are winding down to the end of the school year, I wanted to share a link to a funny blog I read online about how the last few weeks of school feel for parents. Read it here and I hope you laugh as much as I did!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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Are We There Yet?: Hoppy Easter
By Rebecca Dravis On: 12:56PM / Thursday April 17, 2014
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"I'm feeling hoppy," reads the cheerful poster hanging on the door to my daughter's bedroom. Fifty-one weeks of the year it doesn't make sense, but this week it does, as Easter is this Sunday, April 20.

Which means this weekend's family fun can be found in the form of Easter egg hunts in pretty much every corner of the county — including Pittsfield, despite that they have decided to take the word "Easter" out of their official egg hunt, which will be visited by "The Bunny." (What does THAT animal look like?)

But I don't want to get political in this column.

So for Saturday, April 19, here's what I know about.

Pittsfield's "eggstravaganza" is at 10:30 a.m. at Morningside Community School. In Williamstown there's a hunt from 1 to 3 p.m. at Williamstown Commons. In Great Barrington, Blue Rider Stables is having a hunt and other spring activities from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. In North Adams, there will be an egg hunt as part of the Bunny Run-Walk-Hop to End Homelessness at 10:30 a.m. And Lenox and Dalton have town hunts at 11 a.m., in Lenox at the Lenox Community Center and Dalton at the CRA. Clarksburg's is at 10 a.m. at the town field.

Want to do some good this weekend instead of wipe away tears when your kid doesn't find the golden egg? Because Easter this year comes near Earth Day, on Saturday, April 19, you can help clean up the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk, Berkshire County’s National Recreation Trail. This year’s work season includes a variety of restoration techniques for River Walk’s severely abused river location, planting thousands of native plants propagated from seed collected locally, while ridding the riverbank of knotweed, bittersweet, garlic mustard, multiflora rose and other exotic-invasives. Volunteers should meet at the W. E. B. Du Bois River Garden Park by the former Searles Middle School parking lot on River Street, near Bridge Street, at 9 a.m. Morning coffee and lunch will be provided. Tours will be given in the afternoon.

In the evening in Williamstown, a half-dozen Williams College performing ensembles are teaming up to present "Raise the Roof!" a benefit for residents of the Spruces Mobile Home Park and others displaced by Tropical Storm Irene. The performers will include the Springstreeters, the Accidentals, Good Question, Ephoria and Far Eph. A bake sale will accompany the event, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Paresky Auditorium. There is no admission charge, but a hat will be passed during the performance.

Hoppy Easter ... and make sure to check out our calendar of events to find some vacation week fun, including a puppet show at the library in Williamstown on Tuesday and Touch A Truck on Wednesday in North Adams.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires.com. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



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News Headlines
Cheshire Town Cleanup Deemed Success
North Adams License Commission OKs Transfer to V&V
Pittsfield Granted $4.5 Million To Finish North Street Reconstruction
Clarksburg Awarded $920K MassWorks Grant for Road
PEDA: Springfield Rail Car Contract Benefits Berkshires
Williams Chapin Library Seeking Volunteers
Berkshire Health Systems Investing $6M in North County
Colegrove Park School Project Toured
Pittsfield School, City Officials Prepping For Big Decisions
BArT Students Get Lesson in Chocolate, Child Labor

 




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