By William Wolf

BROADWAY IN THE BERKSHIRES  Send This Review to a Friend

One of the pleasures of summer vacationing is seeing what goes on out of Manhattan. I spent a delightful evening in Lenox, Mass, seeing a spirited revue, "Broadway in Berkshires," staged as a benefit for the venerable Shakespeare & Company's education and training programs. Actress Deborah Grausman produced the event, prevailing upon New York theater colleagues to give of their time and talent and put on the show. The host was Broadway star Chip Zien, who struck a perfect balance between his congeniality and humor and giving a proper spotlight to the array of skilled performers. In short, the gang delivered. Some $60,000 was raised. Grausman and Zien also conducted an auction in which a pair of prime seat hard-to-get tickets for the hit "The Book of Mormon" went for $1900.

I never cease to be amazed at how much talent is around and competing for the Broadway spotlight. For example, Brian Charles Rooney wowed us with his "The Audition Medley," in which he sang snatches from songs combining right-on imitations of different performer styles with a wide range of his vocal skills, whether low note or soaring soprano. Amazing chap, Rooney.

Another hit was young Peter Mazurowski of "Billy Elliot," whose dancing was sensational.

There were terrific voices on display. Grausman, who toured the country as Chava in "Fiddler on the Roof," excelled with "The Life I Never Led" from "Sister Act," and she and strong-voiced Adam Alexander had fun with the humorous "The Song That Goes Like This" from "Spamalot." Alexander also gave an impassioned interpretation of the demanding "Impossible Dream."

Tall, elegant Rachel de Benedet, currently in "Catch Me If You Can," deeply impressed with "So in Love," a number that provided a prime opportunity to show off her superb voice.

Two of the songs couldn't have been more appropriate for the occasion. Eleni Sophia, in her dynamic voice, sang "Dear Mr. Shakespeare," and Bill Barclay and Shawn Cody teamed on the very funny number from "Kiss Me Kate"--"Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Zien got his licks in with "No More," from "Into the Woods," which he sang in the Broadway production. It was a note of triumph contrasting to the self-ribbing he did about his appearing in the recent short-lived "People in the Picture.''

Other numbers that made an impact included "You Should Know" sung by Sophia, Grausman, Paul D'Agostino and David Joseph; "Geographica," by Barclay, Shawn Cody, Ryan Link, Alexis Hightower and Karmine Alers; "Waiting for Life" by Kearran Giovanni; "Another Day" by Alers and Link;" "It Would Have Been Wonderful" by Erik Liberman, and a rousing finale with the company singing "I Got Rhythm."

The show was directed by Sam Scalamoni and written by Matthew Riopelle. The musicians, led by Music Director and pianist Paul Staroba, were Owen Young, cellist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and percussionist Chris Mattoon. Kat West stage-managed.

A dinner followed the performance, and Stan and Susan Rosen, who operate the Hampton Terrace bed and breakfast inn, where a number of the cast members stayed, generously gave an after party for those associated with the show. Congenial hosts that they are, the Rosens made a point of inviting other guests at their establishment to attend as well.


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