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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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Letter: Coronavirus Tests Only for Those in the 'Big Club'

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

George Carlin once joked, "It's a big club and you ain't in it." The rich and powerful have access to things that you and I do not. A few years ago, I saw an advertisements on television about the shingles shot. The ad recommended that if you were over a certain age, that you were at risk and that you should get the shot. I went to my health-care provider who said because I had not reached the age of 60, I could not get it. I got shingles within a year.

Now you have to be in that big club that you ain't in to get a coronavirus test. Ordinary folks like you or me cannot get tested. But if we were NBA basketball players, movie stars, royalty, or a politician we get to cut to the head of the line. You don't even have to show symptoms. The entire Utah Jazz team was tested and most didn't have symptoms.

Of course, when those that are connected want a test, they get it. U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley recently announced that she tested negative for coronavirus after experiencing flu-like symptoms — that's all it took to get a test, flu-like symptoms. There were many others in Congress that got the test after allegedly being exposed to someone who had it, but who exhibited few if any the symptoms themselves: Lindsey Graham, Matt Gaetz, John Yarmuth, Mitt Romney, Katie Porter, Vicente Gonzalez, Lizzie Fletcher.

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