The 30 Hottest Tickets of the Summer Season
We know how you hate to commit. But, trust us, the hottest happenings on the horizon have such sizzle, tickets for them are not going to last. Bess Hochstein has scoured the region and come up with the 30 tickets of the season that are likeliest to sell out—and fast. We urge you to buy yours now or risk being left out in the cold.
Marina Abramović and Gregory Crewdson at the Berkshire International Film Festival
Both internationally acclaimed artists have been profiled in new feature-length documentaries, and both these giants of the art world will be make a rare personal appearance at BIFF’s seventh season to participate in post-screening Q&As and special events. Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present screens on June 1, after a cocktail party and dinner for passholders. Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters screens on June 3 and will be followed by a closing night party for passholders. All-access film passes are already sold out, but higher-level passes that include the festival’s special events are still available.
Berkshire International Film Festival, Great Barrington & Pittsfield, MA May 31 - June 3
Levon Helm Tribute at Club Helsinki Hudson
For some music fans, the highlight of last summer’s Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA came when Levon Helm took the stage, especially as members of Wilco joined him to perform “I Shall Be Released.” The Band’s drummer and singer was a beloved figure, and his death last month, after a prolonged battle with throat cancer, was mourned around the world. The memorials continue, and tickets to this tribute to Helm—featuring Ambrosia Parsley, Diamond Doves, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, the Felice Brothers, and special guests yet to be announced—will be scarce.
Club Helsinki Hudson, Hudson, NY June 7 @ 8 p.m.
Fiddler on the Roof at Barrington Stage Company
Barrington Stage’s tradition of opening the season with a gangbuster musical continues when curtains rise on the oft-told tale of Tevye and his daughters in Czarist Russia, adapted from a story by Sholem Aleichem. Ticket sales for this classic are already through the roof.
BSC Mainstage, Pittsfield, MA June 13 – July 14
Here Lies Love at MASS MoCA
When David Byrne and Fatboy Slim collaborated on an album based on the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos, it was news enough. In interviews, Byrne let drop that he had a larger vision for Here Lies Love, and now he’s bringing it to life during a residency at MASS MoCA, which will culminate in this multimedia rock opera work-in-progess production, presented by Williamstown Theatre Festival in conjunction with The Public Theater, where the finished piece is slated to debut. Byrne fans, and they are legion, are clamoring to see this show.
Hunter Center, North Adams, MA June 21 — 24
Chesterwood Presents an Evening with Annie Leibovitz
at the Mahaiwe
In her new book, Pilgrimage, the photographer known for her celebrity portraits re-trains her lens to focus on her vision of America, including fresh images from classic places and the homes of iconic figures from U.S. history. Several images taken at sculptor Daniel Chester French’s studio appear in the book. Premium tickets for $75 include reserved orchestra seating and a post-lecture reception; only 70 of these tickets will be sold. General reserved seating is $27 for adults, $17 for students.
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA
Monday, June 25 @ 7 p.m.
The Blue Deep at Williamstown Theatre Festival
This world premiere by Lucy Boyle has searing star power. Director Bob Balaban and actor Blythe Danner, who has spent many summers in Williamstown, are both returning for this full production after having participated in last summer’s sold-out reading of the play.
Nikos Stage, Willilamstown, MA June 27 – July 8
The Fortress of Solitude at Powerhouse Theater
Jonathan Lethem’s 2003 best-seller—a semi-autobigrahical exploration of friendship, race, music, changing times, and superpowers—is being adapted into a musical with book by Itamar Moses and music and lyrics by Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). Expect a moving story and a lively score that riffs on 1970s soul in this concert reading, conceived and directed by Daniel Aukin.
Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY June 29 – July 1
Talking Sex with Dr. Ruth at Barrington Stage Company
Given Mark St. Germain’s sensational success in the Berkshires and on Broadway (Freud’s Last Session), the premiere of his one-woman show, Dr. Ruth, All the Way, starring Debra Jo Rupp, is already burning up the box office. But things will really heat up when St. Germain moderates this one-night-only discussion and Q&A with Dr. Ruth Westheimer in the flesh, followed by a champagne reception with the diminutive doctor for VIP ticketholders.
BSC Mainstage, Pittsfield, MA
Monday, July 2, 7 p.m.;
Play runs on BSC’s Stage 2 June 19 – July 15
The Capitol Steps at Cranwell
Election-year politics are unavoidable. We say, if you can’t beat ‘em, laugh at ‘em. And you’ve got two months to do so when the Capitol Steps return for their sixth summer residency at Cranwell. Given the current state of our Union, the Steps are assured of having fresh fodder to parody in song for their entire stay. But don’t put off reserving your seat; ticket sales build throughout the summer and shows often sell out. Fortunately, this year Cranwell has added a Sunday matinee.
Cranwell Resort, Lenox, MA July 2 – September 2
A Chorus Line at The Colonial Theatre
Audiences are kicking up their heels at the chance to see Michael Bennett’s Pultizer Prize- and Tony Award-winning singular sensation, staged by the same artistic team that produced last year’s hit musical, Tommy.
The Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA July 7 – 21
The Imaginary Invalid (Le Malade Imaginaire)
at Bard SummerScape
Following their critically acclaimed, contemporary-day staging of Uncle Vanya in 2008, husband-and-wife team Peter Dinklage and Erica Schmidt reunite for an all-male production of Molière’s last play. Schmidt directs as Dinklage plays Toinette, saucy maid-servant and confidant to Argan, the wealthy housebound hypochondriac determined to marry his daughter to a doctor. Dinklage’s star has risen even further since his last SummerScape appearance, thanks to his role in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. If you want to see him play this gender-bent character, pick up the phone now.
Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY July 13 – 15, 18 – 22
75th Anniversary Gala Concert at Tanglewood
A stellar, celebratory evening featuring the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tangelwood Music Center orchestras with performances by Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Peter Serkin, and other special guests, led by conductors John Williams, Keith Lockart, and Andris Nelsons. Don’t fret too much if you can’t make it; PBS will be airing this historic evening on its Great Performances series. But there’s nothing quite like seeing a spectacle of this caliber live, especially when it ends with a firework display—which, given the occasion, promises to be exceptional.
The Shed, Lenox, MA July 14 @ 8:30 p.m.
Hong Kong Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow
Tickets are already scarce for this troupe’s rare North American performance and Pillow debut. The program includes work by top international choreographers Nils Christie, Peter Quanz, and Canadian-born, European-trained Kinsun Chan, with the U.S. premiere of his Black on Black. Photo: Gordon Wong
Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, MA July 18 – 22
The Power of Duff at Powerhouse Theater
New York Stage and Film artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer forecasts that this new play by Powerhouse alum Stephen Belber (in photo), about an anchorman who has a spiritual awakening during a live television broadcast, will be a huge hit this season. Neither she nor the folks at Vassar are naming names, but expect some exciting news when the cast is announced.
Mainstage, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY July 18 – 29
The Tempest at Shakespeare & Company
Starring Olympia Dukakis as Prospero. Need we say more?
Founders’ Theatre, Lenox, MA July 19 – August 19
Far From Heaven at Williamstown Theatre Festival
The musical adaptation of Todd Haynes’ 2002 film – itself an homage to the films of Douglas Sirk, including the 1955 drama All That Heaven Allows – is sure to attract a curious crowd anxious to scope out this preview production with book by Tony-Award-winner Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out) and an original score by Scott Frankel (composer) and Michael Korie (lyricist), the team behind Grey Gardens.
WTF Main Stage, Williamstown, MA July 19 – 29
Susan Orlean at The Mount
Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd who became a movie star (along with his many progeny) remains popular enough to more than fill The Mount’s limited seating, even decades after his death. The local author who penned a biography of this canine celebrity is no slouch either when it comes to attracting a crowd.
The Mount, Lenox, MA Monday, July 23 @ 4 p.m.
The Elephant Man at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Don’t miss this opportunity to see Bernard Pomerance’s play, which made its Broadway debut in 1979 and garnered the Tony Award for best play and the Drama Desk Award for outstanding new play, in WTF’s intimate Nikos theater. Starring Patricia Clarkson and Bradley Cooper, the high-wattage cast could easily fill WTF’s Main Stage, and then some. It’s something of a tradition to cast extremely good-looking men (David Bowie! Billy Crudup!) to play the deformed lead character, John Merrick, and with Cooper in the role, this production is no exception. It’s familiar territory for Cooper, who twisted himself into the very same role for his NYU Actors Drama School thesis performance.
Nikos Stage, Williamstown, MA July 25 - August 5
Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Mahaiwe
Two New England premieres plus popular pieces from the repertoire (including Esplanade and Aureole, marking the 50th anniversary of this seminal dance) make the company’s fifth-consecutive summer appearance at the Mahaiwe a must-see.
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA
July 26 – 28
The King in Spite of Himself (Le Roi Malgré Lui)
at Bard SummerScape
Bard’s Mainstage summer operas are sure to sell out, thanks in part to a string of rave reviews from the New York Times. Would-be audiences are strongly encouraged to buy tickets in advance for this production of Emmanuel Chabrier’s comic opera about a reluctant ruler, the first staged revival of the composer’s 1887 production. It’s directed by Thaddeus Strassberger, who helmed Bard’s ballyhooed operas of the past two summers: Les Huguenots (2009) and The Distant Sound (2010).
Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY July 27 & 29; August 1, 3 & 5
Jonah Bokaer x David Hallberg at Jacob’s Pillow
Bokaer, the “It Boy” of American contemporary dance (and a School at Jacob’s Pillow alum ) joins forces with Hallberg, the captivating classical dancer from South Dakota who shot to fame at American Ballet Theatre, then did a much-ballyhooed “reverse defection” to the Bolshoi Ballet. Hallberg fills venues with thousands of seats; dance fans are clamoring at the chance to see this duo in the Pillow’s much more intimate black box theater. Sets by visual artist Daniel Arsham only up the ante. Photo: Erin Baiano
Doris Duke Theatre, Becket, MA August 1 – 5
Barbara Cook & John Pizzarelli at the Mahaiwe
If jazz singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli doesn’t already own a house in this region he should probably consider buying one, given his increasingly frequent—and always popular—appearances at the Mahaiwe and Tanglewood. For one night only he teams up with celebrated soprano Barbara Cook—who has been named a Living New York Landmark, inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and feted at the recent Kennedy Center Honors—for an unforgettable evening of song. Word to the wise: tickets for this exclusive event are already scarce.
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA August 4 @ 8 p.m.
Bill Engvall at The Colonial Theatre
Best known for his work on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which led to his own TBS sitcom and a gig hosting Country Fried Home Videos on CMT, Bill Engvall is packing them in for two shows on one night.
The Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA August 4 @ 7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
Trey McIntyre Project at Jacob’s Pillow
Since making its debut at the Pillow in 2005 as a pick-up company, TMP has developed a fervid fan base; tickets are flying for this engagement. The mixed program’s inclusion of a new work based on Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be… You and Me amps up the baby-boomer appeal. Photo: Lois Greenfield
Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, MA August 8 – 12
John Williams’ 80th Birthday Celebration at Tanglewood
Join in a birthday party of epic proportions for this prolific composer of film scores and classical music, featuring a concert by the Boston Pops with special performances by Yo-Yo-Ma, Gabriela Montero, Jessye Norman, Leonard Slatkin, and other surprise guests.
The Shed, Lenox, MA Saturday, August 18 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saint-Saëns’s Henry VIII at Bard SummerScape
The Bard Music Festival’s two-weekend-long exploration of the life and times and work of Camille Saint-Saëns culminates in a rare concert performance of this grand opera, with full orchestra and chorus, conducted by Leon Botstein. The pre-concert talk, Out of the Shadow of Samson and Delilah: Saint-Saëns’ Other Grand Opera, will put this 1881-82 work in context.
Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY Sunday, August 19 @ 3:30 p.m.
Betty Buckley at the Mahaiwe
The Tony-Award-winning triple threat takes a gender-bending star turn in her new show, Ah, Men! The Boys of Broadway. In this one-night-only appearance, Buckley performs her favorite men’s songs from Broadway classics such as Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Pippin, and La Cage aux Folles. The show debuted earlier this year in New York and the music is soon to be released as a CD; the intriguing concept of the show combined with Buckley’s ardent fan following make this a ticket to pounce on. Tickets at the $150 level include a reception with the artist.
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, NY Sunday, August 19 @ 7 p.m.
The Joffrey Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow
Since leaving New York for Chicago in 1995, the Joffrey rarely travels east of the Hudson; balletomanes are abuzz that this legendary company – founded by a protégé of Ted Shawn – will close the 80th anniversary season with its first Pillow appearance since the 1960s. Photo: Herbert Migdoll
Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, MA August 22 – 26
Satchmo at The Waldorf at Shakespeare & Company
This one-man play written by Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout stars John Douglas Thompson – who never fails to set the stage afire with his searing performances – as Louis Armstrong.
Founder’s Theatre, Lenox, MA August 22 – September 16
Parsons Dance at PS21
Though David Parsons has headed his own company since 1987, he can’t escape his renown as a leading dancer for Paul Taylor, and why would he want to? Parsons burst on the scene with his signature solo, Caught, in which, through some fancy footwork and split-second strobe lighting effects, he appeared to fly around the stage. His regular appearances at this intimate summer stage in an old apple orchard are every bit as magical as that clever choreography, and since seating is extremely limited, don’t wait until the waning days of summer to reserve your tickets for this season-ending show.
Parsons Dance, Chatham, NY August 31 & September 1