Joan Rivers is a force of nature—one of the hardest working celebrities in the world. She has enjoyed an illustrious career spanning more than four decades in the entertainment industry and beyond, and as her recent accomplishments reveal, she’s as robust and relevant as ever. An entertainment legend of unparalleled accomplishment and talent, Joan is an internationally renowned comedienne, Emmy-award-winning television talk-show host, Tony-award-nominated actress, bestselling author, playwright, screenwriter, film director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer, cosmetic-company entrepreneur, and red-carpet fashion laureate. Above all things, however, Joan is a proud mother and grandmother.
Jay Stolar is a soul singer with an arsenal of heart gripping songs. His live performances hark back to the early days of R&B, when it was an artist’s job to connect to every person in the room. He is a deeply influential player in the New York City music scene.
Early in his career, Jay fronted the indie-rock band Julius C while attending the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. The band played over 500 shows internationally, had a charted single on FMBQ, appeared multiple times at SXSW and CMJ, won national contests and, most importantly, strengthened the musical relationship between the members of the band. However, inner-turmoil over musical direction left Jay unable to deny that a solo career was in his future.
Each tour, International Guitar Night founder Brian Gore invites a new cast of guitar luminaries to join him for special evenings of solos, duets and quartets that highlight the virtuosity and diversity within the world of acoustic guitar. At the Colonial, Brian will be joined by jazz legend Martin Taylor from Scotland with his smooth chord/melody stylings; Solorazaf, a great Madagascar guitarist and singer with a unique rhythmic sense, and renowned Brazilian composer and guitarist, Celso Machado.
San Francisco guitar poet Brian Gore has a reputation as one of the most interesting and influential performers of “the next generation” in acoustic guitar. His style offers strikingly beautiful tone and dynamics, and he draws much of his inspiration from myth and modern literature. His recent project, Santa Cruz in Song and Image, is a remarkable multimedia collaboration with illustrator Bill Russell built around 10 songs inspired by Santa Cruz, CA. There is an iBook with text and images designed to enhance the listening experience, and the album includes illustrated postcards, also evoking Santa Cruz.
With our Spring Season just about to kick off, we decided to pick the brain of Berkshire Theatre Group's Programmer, Simon Shaw, to find out what exactly goes into programming a presented season.
How did you get into programming? What is your history with the Performing Arts?
“Let me start from the beginning, I initially got into the performing arts because of my love of rock ‘n roll. I toured Europe for eight months with various pop bands. Once I realized I really didn’t want to stay on the road, I found a position with a promoter in London. He presented acts as diverse as the Bolshoi Ballet and Rod Stewart and also worked on developing talent. I spent six years working with him in London. During that time I met my wife, an American, and I moved to the States. I started working with a Broadway Booking Agency out of New York City that managed touring shows. I worked there from 1999 to 2005. Then we decided we wanted to leave New York City and head to the Berkshires. Through friends, I was introduced to the previous executive director of The Colonial Theatre and was invited to program the inaugural season in 2006. After the inaugural season we went our separate ways and I formed my own company, Shaw Entertainment. Currently Shaw Entertainment represents a handful of touring artists and I also program the Queens Theatre in New York City and of course, Berkshire Theatre Group’s The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.”
In anticipation of A Christmas Carol, we sat down with director, Eric Hill, to talk about his experience with A Christmas Carol and why he loves this story.
What do you find so special about A Christmas Carol?
“My favorite thing about A Christmas Carol, isn’t the fact that its set during Christmas or that it’s a holiday story, my favorite thing Is that A Christmas Carol is really a ghost story. It’s a story in which at first the ghosts are terrifying but then we realize that they serve a purpose, that the ghosts are here to bring us a message, a lesson.”
What is special/different about this production of A Christmas Carol as opposed to other adaptations?
“It is a challenge to create such well known literary characters; we have to find their spirit. I have actually performed in A Christmas Carol, in various roles, since I was in High School. This production stays close to the literary story, it’s not a musical, and we do our best to find the spirit of all the characters.”
Before moving to the Berkshires, I knew the name Woody Guthrie and knew that he’d written the songs “Alice’s Restaurant” and “This Land is Your Land,” but the extent of my knowledge ended there. Once I arrived in Berkshire County, I began to realize what a large influence Woody had, not only on this region, but on the music world at large. My first encounter with Woody was when I arrived in Stockbridge and discovered the real Alice’s Restaurant (now named Theresa’s Café). I must admit, I felt a bit as if I was standing next to a historic monument.
My second encounter was during last year’s Guthrie concert at The Colonial, when I realized just how large and talented the entire Guthrie clan is. Having the entire family on stage, making beautiful music; it was like the Von Trapp family meets The Mamas and The Papas. I’d never seen anything like it. That’s when I realized that all these people stemmed from one man, one patriarch, Woody Guthrie.