Summer theater roundup

The Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College (photo by Peter Aaron)

The Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College (photo by Peter Aaron)

Bard SummerScape, June 27 to August 17, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson

Bard SummerScape is a premier showcase of the theatrical arts, bringing amazing performers in the fields of music — including classical, opera and cabaret — as well as theatre, dance and cinema to the Bard College campus for seven busy weeks each summer.

SummerScape is technically part of the Bard Music Festival, which looks at the work of a single composer with orchestral and chamber music concerts, lectures and panel discussions. Franz Schubert is this year’s featured composer. Bard celebrates both the festival’s 25th anniversary and the bicentennial of Schubert’s musical setting of Goethe’s Gretchen am Spinnrade — considered by many the birth of the German lied.

The theme of Weekend One, Aug. 8-10, will be “The Making of a Romantic Legend”; Weekend Two, Aug. 15-17, will spotlight “A New Aesthetics of Music.” Ticket prices for Bard Music Festival events, many of which star Bard’s resident American Symphony Orchestra, range from $25 to $75.

World-class dance is also a part of SummerScape, and this 2014’s dance performances will be truly special: On Friday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 28 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., the Sosnoff Theater at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts will be a stop on the farewell tour of the first female choreographer ever to win a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” Postmodern dance powerhouse Trisha Brown is retiring, and at SummerScape her dance company will perform Proscenium Works: 1979-2011, consisting of I’m going to toss my arms — if you catch them they’re yours (2011), the final work of her career, along with two collaborations with Laurie Anderson and Robert Rauschenberg: Set and Reset (1983) and If you couldn’t see me (1994). Ticket prices range from $25 to $60.

With ten performances scheduled between July 10 and 20, SummerScape 2014’s theatrical production will be the world premiere of Love in the Wars. It’s an original version of Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea, dramatizing the romance between Achilles and the queen of the Amazons, as adapted by the Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist John Banville. Two-time Obie Award-winner Ken Rus Schmoll directs. Tickets will go for $25 to $35 for previews on July 10 and 11 and $25 to $50 for regular performances on July 12, 13 and 16 through 20, all staged in Theater Two.

This year’s full-scale opera production at SummerScape will be first American revival in 100 years of Carl Maria von Weber’s Euryanthe (1823). Starring Ellie Dehn, with William Burden, Wendy Bryn Harmer, Ryan Kuster and Peter Volpe, it will be directed by Kevin Newbury and accompanied by the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein. Ticket prices range from $25 to $95 for evening performances in the Sosnoff Theater on July 25 and Aug. 1 and matinées on July 27, 30 and Aug. 3. SummerScape 2014 will also include semi-staged productions of Schubert’s Fierrabras on Aug. 17 and Die Verschworenen Aug. 10, along with Von Suppé’s operetta Franz Schubert on Aug. 10.

The 2014 Bard SummerScape Film Festival, “Schubert and the Long Nineteenth Century,” will run Thursdays and Sundays from July 3 to Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Ottaway Film Center on the Bard campus. Among the films to be screened are Renoir’s Grand Illusion, Murnau’s Nosferatu, Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, Polanski’s Death and the Maiden, Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. Tickets cost $10.

Hipsters at SummerScape flock to the intimate, mirror-spangled confines of the Spiegeltent for cabaret performances, food, drink and dancing throughout the festival, hosted by Tony nominee Justin Vivian Bond. This year’s acts will include Molly Ringwald on July 5, Martha Wainwright on July 11 and Amanda Palmer on Aug. 15. For much more detail on performers, programs, dates, times and prices for all Bard SummerScape events, visit the website.

Bard SummerScape/Bard Music Festival, June 27 to Aug. 17, Bard College, 60 Manor Avenue, Annandale-on-Hudson.


Powerhouse Theater, June 20-July 27, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie

As impressive as Bard SummerScape, the Powerhouse Theater is a partnership between Vassar and New York Stage and Film gives an inside look at stage productions in various phases of development, from early stages of “workshopping” to full-blown shows. Mainstage productions for the thirtieth Powerhouse season will include new works by Richard Greenberg and John Patrick Shanley and an unprecedented collaboration with ten major playwrights.

In Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line, running from June 25 to July 6 and directed by Terry Kinney, a bohemian writer from Greenwich Village finds more than he expected when he commutes to Levittown, Long Island to teach adult-education creative writing. The cast will include How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor, Reasons to be Happy star Leslie Bibb and Tony-winner Randy Graff (City of Angels, Les Miserables). Tickets cost $40.

Next up, from July 5 to 13, is In Your Arms, directed and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli with music by Stephen Flaherty. It features ten dance vignettes that each tell a story without words of a pair of lovers, constituting an evening of storytelling, dance and music with a cast of more than 20 performers. The authors of the playlets are Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage and Alfred Uhry. The large dance ensemble includes Broadway stars including Ryan Steele (Newsies, Matilda, West Side Story), Carole Shelley (Billy Elliot), Tony-winner Debbie Gravitte (Jerome Robbins’ Broadway) and, amazingly, the original J. Pierrepont Finch from How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, multi-Tony-and-Emmy-winner and Mad Men’s Bertram Cooper, 83-year-old Robert Morse. Tickets cost $40.

On the Mainstage from July 16 to 27 will be a mystery titled The Danish Widow,written and directed by stage and screen superstar John Patrick Shanley, Pulitzer/Tony/Oscar/Emmy/Obie-winning author of Doubt, Moonstruck, Five Corners and a whole lot of other stuff. The cast had yet to be announced as of presstime, but the Shanley describes the play as “disturbing, funny, deadly serious, sexy — like a Hitchcock film with a Modernist edge.” Tickets cost $40.

The two Martel Musical Workshops to be presented on the Vassar campus this year will be SeaWife by Seth Moore & the Lobbyists, directed by and developed with Liz Carlson, with performances June 27 to 29 in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater; and A Walk on the Moon, with music and lyrics by Paul Scott Goodman, book and additional lyrics by Pamela Gray, adapted from her hit film, and directed by Michael Greif, with performances July 25 to 27 in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. Tickets to either cost $30.

Powerhouse 2014’s play workshops will be The Light Years, written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, developed and directed by Oliver Butler, with performances July 11 to 13; and Laugh by Beth Henley, directed by David Schweizer, with performances July 18 to 20. Both will be performed in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater. Tickets to either cost $30.

The first weekend of this year’s Readings Festival, June 20 to 22, will include The Unbuilt City by Keith Bunin, directed by Sean Mathias; Choice by Winnie Holzman, directed by Sheryl Kaller; The Humans by Stephen Karam, directed by Sam Gold; Gilgamesh, the Prince by David Rabe; and Fall by Bernard Weinraub, directed by Peter DuBois. The second weekend, July 25 to 27, will include The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll; American Pop by Michael Friedman, directed by Trip Cullman; Turn Me Loose by Gretchen Law, directed by John Gould Rubin and featuring Joe Morton; the first-ever reading of Ripcord by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by David Hyde Pierce, with T. R. Knight and Marylouise Burke; and Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel, directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt. Admission to the Readings Festivals is free by advance reservation.

For more information on specific performances, dates and times, or for tickets and reservations, call the Powerhouse box office.

Powerhouse Theater, June 21-July 28, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie; 437-5599,


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