Singing! Dancing! Naked Singing and Dancing!
Musical theater thrives in the region this week — on stage and on film. It might require a drive, but you can hear country/western music, Bernstein and great stuff for children in the coming days ... or catch up with nudity that began 50 years ago and caused a sensation on Broadway.
The most famous work by Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial is being celebrated all summer worldwide, is, of course, "West Side Story." At the Shed on Saturday night at 8 p.m., Tanglewood presents the remastered movie of this iconic musical, on big screens.
But instead of canned music, the Boston Symphony Orchestra plays Lenny's great score live, while the original vocals (Natalie Wood lip-synching Marnie Nixon, among others) are left intact. I've seen this technique before, with David Newman conducting, and its a wonderfully immersive experience.
Pray for good weather; the Shed seats are sold out, but the lawn beckons. There are big screens outside, too. Info can be found online.
Berkshire Theatre Group
At the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, crowds continue to celebrate the Age of Aquarius 50 years on at the production of "Hair," complete with nudity. It is directed by Daisy Walker. Let your hair down and pay a visit. It continues through Aug. 11.
Meanwhile, the BTG on Thursday begins its run in Pittsfield at the Colonial Theatre of "Tarzan," based on the Disney film. The music and lyrics are by rocker Phil Collins, with book by David Henry Hwang. No nudity that we know of!
"Tarzan" is definitely for kids as well as adults and features more than 100 local youth. There are matinees on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.The 100-plus-year-old Colonial was restored in 2006 and is a Berkshires landmark. The show runs through Aug. 16. For more information, visit the website.
Cross over to nearby New York State and you'll find two theaters worth your while. At the Mac-Haydn, starting Wednesday, July 26, you can enjoy "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," with music from the Disney film. This new production features the hits by Alan Mencken and Stephen Schwartz.
The Mac-Haydn is on Route 203 in Chatham. It also as children’s theater shows. On July 27 and 28, it's "The Pied Piper." Visit the website for more information.
The Theater Barn
This professional company on Route 20 in New Lebanon, N.Y., opens its musical season on Thursday, July 26, with "Pump Boys and Dinettes" by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann.
The book was created to recall the authors' experiences at a lounge in New York City and evolved into a show about guys who pump gas and the Double Cupp diner next door. It opened off-Broadway in 1981 and moved to Broadway the next year. The music is original county and western songs. It has been a favorite of regional theater ever since. Information is available online.
Barrington Stage Company
Here's another musical aimed at young people: Ronald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach." With words and music by Benjamin Pasek and Justin Paul, and a book by Timothy Allen McDonald, it is being performed Thursday, July 26, through Aug. 12 at the Berkshire Museum by the teens participating in Barrington Stage Youth Theatre.
Dahl’s story is a fanciful take about an old tree, a magic potion, a truly big peach, and a collection if singing insects. It is tuneful and fun. There are matinees Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. The Berkshire Museum is located in downtown Pittsfield at 39 South St. For more information, visit the website.
And there's more ...
Barrington Stage's Mr. Finn's Cabaret is presenting "An Evening with Jason Robert Brown" July 29 and 30. The Tony-winning composer and lyricist will present music from his career plus songs from a new album. We are told the shows are sold out, but you can check for returns.
At Jacob's Pillow July 25-29, pop music fans can check out the Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, a blend of African, Caribbean and contemporary choreography with live jazz music by Arturo O'Farrill and Resist. The company also performs pieces inspired by artist/activists Nina Simone and Fela Kuti, and Dancing Spirit, originally choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Info online.
The Guthrie Center in Great Barrington has Aztec Two Step on Friday, July 27. New York songwriter Lucy Kaplansky is the featured artist on Saturday, July 28. Info online.