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The Houghton Mansion in North Adams has become a regular stop on the paranormal circuit.

'Spooky Berkshires' TV Show Features Local Sites

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Joe Durwin, left, and Jeff Belanger share a pint and talk ghost stories in 'The Spooky Berkshires' being aired on Halloween night.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshires and several local writers are featured in the premiere of "New England Legends," a new television series that follows adventurer and author Jeff Belanger as he explores tales from around New England.

The show featuring the Houghton Mansion and October Mountain State Forest, "The Spooky Berkshires," is scheduled on Thursday, Oct. 31, at 10 p.m. on WGBY, the PBS station based in Springfield and carried on Time Warner. It will be followed by a second episode on "Mysteries in Stone," set in the eastern end of the state.

"The Spooky Berkshires" examines the tragic history of the Houghton Mansion in North Adams and its century-old reports of hauntings, then heads up to October Mountain to chase down stories of Bigfoot sightings, UFOs, and the ghost of a young girl said to haunt an abandoned cemetery somewhere deep in the woods.

Belanger speaks with local historian Paul Marino and Jennifer Huberdeau, a North Adams Transcript reporter, both of whom have written extensively about the Houghton Mansion. The Church Street landmark was the home of the city's first mayor and is purportedly haunted by his daughter Mary, who was killed in a traffic accident, and his chauffeur, who was so distraught he killed himself.

Now a Masonic Temple, the house has become a regular stop on the paranormal circuit and has been featured prominently in several other "ghostly" series.

Joe Durwin, who writes the blog These Mysterious Hills and is a Pittsfield correspondent for iBerkshires, takes up the matter of oddities on October Mountain in South County.

"New England Legends promises to be something a bit different than the kind of ghost-hunting, unexplained mystery shows that are currently all over TV," he said. "This show is less about trying to chase or solve the enigmas of life, as exploring the social fabric of what these things mean to us."

Belanger, in a press statement, said the show is about legends, not ghost-hunting.



"Legends are living, breathing things. They define our communities as much as the buildings or the people who came before us," he said. "New England Legends will explore those tales from the fringe that make living in New England that much more interesting."

Belanger is founder of Ghostvillage.com and is the author of such books as "Weird Massachusetts" and "The World's Most Haunted Places."

Executive producer is Tony Dunne, who wrote and produced "Things That Go Bump in the Night: Tales of Haunted New England" for PBS in 2009.

"We're taking a snapshot of these stories and showing believers and skeptics alike how these legends help define what it means to be from New England," said Dunne in a statement. A native of Massachusetts, he lives in Western Mass.

Durwin said he enjoyed working on the project, filmed earlier this year.

"It was a great project to work on. Anthony Dunne has a lot of skill and experience with this kind of material, and Jeff Belanger is of course one of the true rock stars of New England folklore," he said.


Tags: houghton mansion,   legendary,   paranormal,   public television,   state forest,   

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Jacob’s Pillow Free Live Stream Series

BECKET, Mass. — Jacob's Pillow is pleased to announce the launch of a new free livestream series, Jacob's Pillow Live, which will feature nine select performances from this summer's 92nd annual international Dance Festival.

Jacob's Pillow Live will provide audiences the opportunity to tune in from anywhere in the world to enjoy live performances on the scenic outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage and in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre.

According to a press release:

Live performances will occur each week of the festival between June 22 and Aug. 24—from the celebrated repertoire of The Royal Ballet of the United Kingdom to the unique thrill of Princess Lockerooo & The Fabulous Waack Dancers—with advance online registration available. Out of the nine livestream events, five will include access to a free "Encore" stream released the following week, allowing an additional 24 hours to watch the performance on-demand.

This new series provides livestream access to arts lovers and families who are not able to travel to experience these events in person, while affording local and regional audiences more opportunities to blend at-home viewing with in-person visits to the festival this summer. Registration for these free livestreams is now open to everyone at http://jacobspillow.org/live.

"Our dance and live music events really shine because they are brimming with creative talent from around the world," said Jacob's Pillow Executive and Artistic Director Pamela Tatge. "We want to honor the fact that our visiting audience is global as well, and always has been. We are delighted to bring lovers of dance this expanded, and more flexible, series of chances to experience live performances at our festival this summer for free, no matter where they are watching from."

Livestreams will include access to Jacob's Pillow's Gala performance, as well as other  performances from inside the historic Ted Shawn Theatre—which opened in 1942 as the first performance space in America designed exclusively for dance—and from the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage.

The livestream on July 6 will bring viewers a performance by The Royal Ballet of the United Kingdom, from the Ted Shawn Theatre, on the company's sole engagement in the United States this year—and their first touring performance in the country since 2015. In addition to classical and contemporary ballet, the series will feature performances that range in styles from Afro Latin and jazz to tap, flamenco, tango, contemporary, musical theater, hip-hop, house, vogue, waacking, and Indigenous masked dance. All livestreams in this series are family-friendly, and all include English-language captioning, available in browser while viewing.

Jacob's Pillow Live comprises the following livestreams for summer 2024, in chronological order. Select livestreams also include an Encore stream, to be made available after the performance.

  • Saturday, June 22 at 6:15PM EST — Performances from the Season Opening Gala

    • From the historic Ted Shawn Theatre

    • This event will include performances by members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, pianist Craig Baldwin and dancers from the New York City Ballet, Sekou McMiller and Friends, Caleb Teicher and Conrad Tao, Soles of Duende, and a world premiere by The School at Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Ballet Program. Details at jacobspillow.org/gala.

  • Saturday, June 29 at 6PM EST — The School at Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Ballet Program

    • From the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage

  • Saturday, July 6 at 8PM EST — The Royal Ballet of the United Kingdom

    • From the historic Ted Shawn Theatre

    • Includes an Encore stream, available from 12pm on Wednesday, July 10 to 12pm on Thursday, July 11.

  • Saturday, July 13 at 6PM EST — The MasterZ at Work Dance Family

    • From the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage

    • Includes an Encore stream, available from 12pm on Wednesday, July 17 to 12pm on Thursday, July 18.

  • Thursday, July 18 at 8PM EST — Social Tango Project

    • From the historic Ted Shawn Theatre

    • Includes an Encore stream, available from 12pm on Wednesday, July 24 to 12pm on Thursday, July 25.

  • Saturday, July 20 at 6PM EST — The School at Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Program

    • From the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage

  • Saturday, July 27 at 6PM EST — Dancers of Damelahamid

    • From the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage

    • Includes an Encore stream, available from 12pm on Wednesday, July 31 to 12pm on Thursday, August 1.

  • Saturday, August 17 at 6PM EST — The School at Jacob's Pillow Musical Theatre Program

    • From the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage

  • Saturday, August 24 at 6PM EST — Princess Lockerooo & The Fabulous Waack Dancers

    • From the outdoor Henry J. Leir Stage

    • Includes an Encore stream, available from 12pm on Wednesday, August 28 to 12pm on August 29.

Jacob's Pillow has been experimenting with access to online performances and livestreams for several years, explained Tatge. Building on more than a decade of online access through Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive, the Pillow took its first real steps in 2020, when health and safety concerns required pivoting to an all-digital summer festival. This work continued in 2021, when Jacob's Pillow aired an online series of streaming performances from the outdoor Leir Stage roughly two weeks after filming. In 2022 and 2023, Jacob's Pillow produced a series of performance streams that aired during the fall, winter, and spring. "As we look toward the opening of our reimagined Doris Duke Theatre in 2025," Tatge said, "we are excited to build and deepen our world of digital productions, livestreams, and interactive online events. We want to make these available to any arts lover, anywhere, who wants to see what the future of dance can look like."

 

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