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Regge Life accepts his award for Outstanding Direction of a Play for 'Topdog/Underdog' at Shakespeare & Company, which also won Outstanding Production of a Play and Best Ensemble Production, at the Berkshire Theatre Awards. Photo by Peter Levine.

Mac-Haydn Theatre, Shakespeare Take Top Honors at Berkshire Theatre Awards

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Tara Franklin accepting the award for Outstanding Solo Performance for 'On the Exhale' at the Chester Theatre Company.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Theatre Critics Association presented the Berkshire Theatre Awards on Nov. 11, the fourth year the awards have been presented to honor and celebrate the excellence and diversity of theater in the greater Berkshire region.

The 2019 awards really display the commitment of regional theaters to presenting new and diverse work. Women and minorities were well-represented among the nominees and the winners in all categories. Nominees represented theaters in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Connecticut.

Critics J. Peter Bergman and Macey Levin once again hosted the ceremony, which saw top honors for Outstanding Play Production go to the Shakespeare & Company's production of Suzan-Lori Park's "Topdog/Underdog" and "Ragtime" take home the award for Outstanding Musical Production for the Mac-Haydn Theatre.

This year's ceremony featured musical and Shakespearean performances by nominees David Joseph ("Times Stands Still" at Shakespeare & Company) and Greg Boover ("Twelfth Night" at Shakepeare & Company), and musical selections by Monica M. Wemitt, Rachel Rhodes-Devey and Gabe Belyeu from the Mac-Haydn Theatre.

John Saunders was named Outstanding Director of a Musical for his work on "Ragtime" at the Mac-Haydn, and Regge Life was named Outstanding Director of a Play for "Topdog/Underdog" at Shakespeare & Company.

Tara Franklin took home the award for Outstanding Solo Performance for "On the Exhale," directed by Colette Robert and presented at the Chester Theatre Company.

The Larry Murray Award for Community Outreach and Support through Theater went to Tina Packer, founder of Shakespeare & Company, for her decades of work bringing theater and theater education to the Berkshire community. The recipient of this award, named in honor of the late Larry Murray, BTCA founder, is selected by the Board of the BTCA. Packer spoke briefly about her joy at receiving this special award and her long residence in the Berkshires.
 

The other 2019 Berkshire Theatre Awards are as follows:

* Outstanding Solo Performance:
Tara Franklin, "On The Exhale," Chester Theatre Company.

* Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Tie between Monica M. Wemitt, Carmen Bernstein, "Curtains," Mac-Haydn Theatre and Dorcas Leung, Little Red, "Into the Woods," Barrington Stage Company.

* Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play: Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Ellen, "The Waverly Gallery," Shakespeare & Company.

* Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Rob Brinkmann, Jud Fry, "Oklahoma!," Mac-Haydn Theatre.

* Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play: Robert Zuckerman, Lou Fischer, "If I Forget," Barrington Stage Company.
 
* Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical: Rachel Rhodes-Devey, Mother, "Ragtime," Mac-Haydn Theatre.

* Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical: Mykal Kilgore, Witch, "Into the Woods," Barrington Stage Company.



* Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play: Diane Prusha, Hazel, "The Children," Shakespeare and Company.

* Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play: David Adkins, Martin, "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?," Berkshire Theatre Group.

* Outstanding Ensemble Performance: Tie between "Time Flies and Other Comedies," Barrington Stage Company and "Topdog/Underdog," Shakespeare & Company.

* Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play or Musical: Brian Prather, "Into the Woods," Barrington Stage Company.

* Outstanding Costume Design of a Play or Musical: Jen Caprio, "Into the Woods," Barrington Stage Company.

* Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play or Musical: Sherrice Mojgani, "Into the Woods," Barrington Stage Company.

* Outstanding Sound Design of a Play or Musical: Beth Lake, "Selling Kabul," Williamstown Theatre Festival.

* Outstanding Choreography: Justin Boccitto, "Crazy For You," Sharon Playhouse.

* Outstanding Direction of a Musical: John Saunders, "Ragtime," Mac-Haydn Theatre.

* Outstanding Direction of a Play: Regge Life, "Topdog/Underdog," Shakespeare & Company.

* Outstanding New Play: "Dig" by Theresa Rebeck, Dorset Theatre Festival.

* Outstanding Production of a Musical: "Ragtime," Mac-Haydn Theatre.

* Outstanding Production of a Play: "Topdog/Underdog," Shakespeare and Company.


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PCTV Documentary Finds Pittsfield Parade Dates Back to 1801

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Television's recently released documentary "Fighting For Independence:  The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" has traced the first Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade back to at least 1801.  

An article in the Pittsfield Sun from July 7, 1801, says that "at 12:00 o’ clock at noon a Procession was formed consisting of the Militia of the town."

Previously the Pittsfield Parade Committee acknowledged that the parade dated back to 1824.

"This was a fascinating discovery, as we researched to put this documentary together," said Bob Heck, PCTV’s coordinator of advancement and community production and executive producer of the program.  "Not only were we able to trace the parade back further than ever before, but to see how the parade has impacted Pittsfield, and how the community always seems to come together to make sure the parade happens is remarkable."

The Pittsfield Fourth of July parade experienced bumps in the road even back in the early 1800s - most notably, when Captain Joseph Merrick, a Federalist, excluded Democrats from the yearly post-parade gathering at his tavern in 1808.

The parade ran concurrently from at least 1801 until 1820. In 1821, Pittsfield’s spiritual leader Dr. Rev. Heman Humphrey, canceled the festivities so the day could be dedicated to God before resuming in 1822 after residents decided they wanted their parade.

"Fighting for Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" premiered July 4 at 9:30 am on PCTV Access Pittsfield Channel 1301 and PCTV Select.  The program is available on-demand on PCTV Select, available on Roku and Apple TV, or online.

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