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10 shows to see at lauded out-of-town venues in Hudson Valley, the Berkshires and beyond
Don't believe the hype—summer is not over yet. There are still four weekends until Labor Day, which means there's plenty of time for a getaway to catch an out-of-town show. While there are promising productions to see in New York, this is the season when regional theatre heats up. The Northeast proves to be a mecca for talented artists to put fresh spins on beloved classics and debut new works. So peg your end-of-summer sojourn to one of these worthy shows.
Barrington Stage Company – Pittsfield, MA
Approximately three hours away from Midtown Manhattan by car, this multi-theatre venue is known for presenting top-notch productions of plays and musicals—this is where The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Mr. Saturday Night first bowed. Masks are required.
A Little Night Music
Through August 28
Broadway stalwarts Sierra Boggess, Jason Danieley, Emily Skinner and Mary Beth Peil lead the cast of A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's rarely revived musical inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night. A mess of love affairs sparks a romantic comedy of errors in the country where jealousies and passions rage. Songs include "You Must Meet My Wife," "A Weekend in the Country" and Sondheim's wistful classic "Send in the Clowns." Barrington cofounder Julianne Boyd directs, making this production her swan song: she's retiring after 27 years at the helm of the company.
Bay Street Theater – Sag Harbor, NY
Enhance your Hamptons trip by seeing a show at this modern wharfside playhouse, which is approximately two hours away from Midtown Manhattan by car or the Hampton Jitney. Masks are required.
Through August 28
Inspired by E.L. Doctorow's novel of the same name, Ragtime is a rich, heartrending and relevant portrait of early 20th-century America, filled with racism, classism and immigrants doggedly pursuing the American Dream. With songs by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally, this epic musical interweaves the stories of a Black musician, a Jewish immigrant and a wealthy white family against the backdrop of a changing nation. Bay Street Theater's associate artistic director Will Pomerantz helms the production, which stars Broadway vets Derrick Davis, Lora Lee Gayer and Zachary Prince.
Berkshire Theatre Group – Berkshires, MA
About a three-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan, the Berkshire Theatre Group was founded in 2010 when the Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Colonial Theatre merged. The company presents classic and contemporary works on four stages in two nearby towns: Stockbridge and Pittsfield. Masks are required at both theatres.
Songs for a New World at The Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge
Through August 20
Jason Robert Brown's breakthrough musical is a perennial crowd-pleaser, a series of witty and insightful songs delivered by a wide array of characters grappling with pivotal moments in life and love. A diverse and versatile cast of four stars in this production, directed by Broadway vet Gerry McIntyre.
Dracula at the The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield
Through August 27
Tony winner David Auburn directs this stage adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic thriller about a sexy and sanguine vampire and the doctor obsessed with hunting him down. Mitchell Winter and NYC stage stalwart Jennifer Van Dyck star as the bloodsucker and his nemesis.
Dorset Theatre Festival – Dorset, VT
Dorset Theatre Festival is based in a century-old theatre fashioned from a pair of pre-revolutionary barns. Approximately four hours from Midtown Manhattan by car, Dorset Theatre Festival is known as an incubator for new plays, and frequently presents work by prolific playwright Theresa Rebeck. Masks are required.
Runs August 18-September 3
It wouldn't be a summer at Dorset without a work by Theresa Rebeck—only this time she's the director, not the dramatist. Penned by Ronán Noone, Thirst is a world premiere play about the lives of the (mostly) unseen servants in Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece Long Day's Journey Into Night, as two Irish maids and an American chauffeur talk and flirt in the kitchen of the Tyrone family's home in 1912. But simmering tensions and passions lead this trio on their own long day's journey.
Goodspeed Opera House – East Haddam, CT
Since its founding in 1963, Goodspeed has been a musical theatre hot spot, mounting more than 250 tuners on its two stages and transferring 22 to Broadway. Goodspeed is approximately two and a half hours away from Midtown Manhattan by car. Masks are required.
Anne of Green Gables
Through September 4
L. M. Montgomery's century-old children's novel is reimagined as a folk-rock musical in this world premiere production. From the moment Anne Shirley arrives on Prince Edward Island, things are rocky. Adopted by siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, the headstrong redhead is quick, confrontational and desperate to figure out her future. At first no one knows what to do with her, but you can be sure that, by the end, they fall for this spirited child, as will the audience. Matte O'Brien and Matt Vinson are behind this page-to-stage adaptation, an excellent choice for families with musical-loving tweens.
September 16-October 6
Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway! We admit, we're cheating a bit with this one since it's really a fall run. But this new mounting of the ultimate backstage musical boasts quite the pedigree. Four-time Tony nominee Randy Skinner—who started his career as a dance assistant on the original Broadway production of 42nd Street and choreographed the 2001 revival—directs and promises "new elements and surprises." Max Von Essen is domineering director Julian Marsh, Kate Baldwin is self-involved diva Dorothy Brock and Carina-Kay Louchiey is the spunky chorus girl who goes out a youngster but comes back a star. Featuring jaw-dropping tap numbers and iconic songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, including "We're in the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway" and the title tune, this 42nd Street is worth the shuffle off to Connecticut.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival – Cold Spring, NY
Approximately 75 minutes from Midtown Manhattan by car, and easily accessible via Metro-North, this company mounts classics and new takes on old favorites in an elegant, open-sided tent overlooking the Hudson River. Proof of full vaccination required; masks are optional but encouraged.
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play
Through September 17
If you missed Anne Washburn's polarizing dark comedy Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play when it ran Off Broadway a decade ago (full disclosure, it's one of my favorites), this is your chance to catch this thought-provoking and laugh-inducing work of social commentary inspired by the apocalypse and The Simpsons. To reveal too much would spoil the funny. Suffice to say that one generation's pop-culture phenomenon can, over time, transform into another era's classic art. A kooky celebration of live theatre and how we pass down stories, with haunting songs by Michael Friedman.
Romeo and Juliet
Through September 18
The Bard's romantic tragedy gets a new twist courtesy of a mature couple: real-life spouses and longtime Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival stars Kurt Rhoads and Nance Williamson, who imbue the doomed lovers with palpable passion. Gaye Taylor Upchurch directs this age-blind production, which proves that love at first sight never gets old.
Ogunquit Playhouse – Ogunquit, ME
Founded in 1933, the Ogunquit Playhouse specializes in musicals, both world premieres and revivals, given handsome productions in its historic theatre. Located in a seaside resort town, the theatre is approximately five hours from Midtown Manhattan by car. Masks are optional but encouraged.
Mr. Holland's Opus
Runs August 13-September 10
Tony-winning performer BD Wong is showing off his other talents as the lyricist, book writer and director of Mr. Holland's Opus, a world premiere musical inspired by the popular 1995 movie of the same name. Akron Watson stars as the title character, a composer turned high school music teacher who learns that being a mentor is even more valuable than making his own art. Tony nominee Wayne Barker wrote the music, and the supporting cast includes Broadway vets Anastasia Barzee and Veanne Cox.
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Top image: The cast of Ragtime at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY, just a few hours away from Midtown Manhattan. Photo by Lenny Stucker.