Bring Your Light Sabers: Star Wars Returns, Plus Martha Graham Dancers, Chris Smither
John Williams' music is a familiar sound in the Berkshires, and this season is no different. In addition, a legendary choreographer's company at the Pillow plus folkie Chris Smither at the Guthrie Center add up to a lively week.
"Star Wars" returns to the Berkshires on Friday, Aug. 16, from a galaxy far, far … well, you know. This year it's the film "Star Wars: A New Hope," shown on the screen, as the Boston Pops Orchestra accompanies it with the live John Williams score. This is the fourth episode of the series, if you are keeping count. Keith Lockhart, an old hand at music/film projections, is the conductor. More info and tickets can be found online.
The musical "Little Shop of Horrors" continues its run through Aug. 18 at the Mac-Hadyn in Chatham, N.Y. It's got a book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and a score by Alan Menken. The story of a florist with a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh, the 1980s-era show is directed by Erin Spears-Ledford and choreographed by Lauren Monteleone. David Maglione is the music director. Find more info and tickets online.
The Martha Graham Dance Company visits the Ted Shawn Theatre from Aug. 14-17 with a program devoted to The EVE Project, which celebrates female power and the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. According to the Pillow, this "two-year project presents a comprehensive range of Graham's classics alongside new commissions by some of today's leading female voices, providing entree into today's most pressing conversations."
Among the works on the program, Graham's well-known "Appalachian Spring" and all-female "Chronicle," as well as a suite of "Lamentation Variations" and a new work by choreographer Maxine Doyle and former Batsheva Dance Company member Bobbi Jene Smith. Note: no Sunday performance.
At the Pillow's smaller Doris Duke Theatre, Aug. 14-18, see a Pillow exclusive, New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns in a program called "Beyond Ballet." The versatile Mearns earned a Bessie Award last year, and the New York Times has hailed her as "a dancer who leaves everything she owns on the stage while realizing movement fully, all the way to her fingertips." Her Pillow program pairs her in multi-genre collaborations. They include "No. 1" with the French hip-hop artist Wang Ramirez, the world premiere of a duet with postmodern dance’s Jodi Melnick, and others. Tickets and info are online.
If you are of a certain age, you may remember Chris Smither from the coffee house circuit in the 1960s, or you may remember the song Bonnie Raitt made famous, "Love You Like a Man." But he's a fine performer in his own right. Catch him Friday and Saturday evenings, Aug. 16 and 17, at the Old Trinity Church of Great Barrington. Find tickets and info on the website.
International funk is on the menu at Mass MoCA on Saturday, Aug. 17, with Jupiter & Okwess. Led by singer and songwriter Jupiter Bokondji Ilola, this group offers a mix of traditional Congolese rhythms with Western rock, funk and pop styles. The group's music is said to be irresistibly danceable. More info and tickets can be found online.
And don't forget…
The Live on the Lake series continues on Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. It's outdoors at Burbank Park, Lake Onota, Pittsfield. Bring your own chair or blanket and pack a picnic. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed at this free event.
Then, Third Thursday comes around again to downtown Pittsfield on Aug. 15. Head for Persip Park from 5 to 8 p.m. for excerpts from Barrington Stage Company's "Hansel and Gretel," followed by Berkshire Theatre Group's "Shrek," and the Brazilian sound of Berkshire Bateria.
As always, there is free Music After Hours on the terrace of The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home outside Lenox over the weekend from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Friday, Aug. 16, the players are Elizabeth Kasius and Heard, while on Saturday, Aug. 17, hear Natalia Bernal and Jason Ennis Group.