Summer Arts preview: Music, theater, art, dance

Our writers' best bets
From left: Barrington Stage's "Kunstler," Riverdance and Rod Stewart.
From left: Barrington Stage's "Kunstler," Riverdance and Rod Stewart.

From Diana Ross to Shakespeare to Picasso, a look at some of the expected highlights on the summer Arts scene.


The Capital Region’s favorite jam band won’t be appearing at SPAC this summer, but there are plenty of other fish in the local music sea.

The calendar is filled with a wide range of talent, and sometimes more than one show on the same night. Witness: Dead & Company on June 20 at SPAC, while at the same time, across town, Mozart in Havana with pianist Simone Dinnerstein and the Havana Lyceum Orchestra at Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center.

Some expected highlights, chronologically:

  • May 28: The 1975, Glens Falls Civic Center. English rockers scored their first No. 1 album last year.
  • June 2, the Avett Brothers, Brewery Ommegang. Fine American folk rock. (They also play Tanglewood Sept. 1)
  • June 16-17, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, SPAC. Two nights of acoustic mastery.
  • June 17, The Shins, Brewery Ommegang. Indie pop group fresh off first new album in five years.
  • June 20, Dead & Company, SPAC. Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer, Bob Weir and friends wowed the SPAC audience last summer.
  • June 24-25: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, with Saturday headliner Chaka Khan.
  • July 1, John Mellencamp with EmmyLou Harris and Carlene Carter, Tanglewood. Rock from the Heartland.
  • July 22, SPAC: The ageless Sir Roderick David “Rod” Stewart (29 albums)and 1980s hit-maker Cyndi Lauper hit SPAC in the middle of their short, but eagerly awaited, month-long tour.
  • Aug. 1, Alabama Shakes, Palace Theatre. Fun blues/ rock music.
  • Aug. 19, Colin Hay, The Egg. Remember Men at Work?
  • Aug. 19, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Times Union Center. Husband- and-wife country superstars team up in Albany.
  • Aug. 26, Luke Bryan, SPAC. One of country’s best-liked and top-selling artists.
  • Aug. 30, Diana Ross, Tanglewood: Legendary Supremes vocalist returns to the Berkshires for the first time since 1989. Her daughter, Rhonda, opens.
  • Sept. 2, Zac Brown Band, SPAC. An annual highlight.
  • Sept. 10, Little Feat, The Egg. Fine musicianship, and maybe just as popular now as in their early days before the death of Lowell George.

And a few others of note:

  • June 17, Four Voices: Joan Baez, Indigo Girls and Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Tanglewood
  • June 18: Train with O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield, SPAC.
  • July 2, Natalie Merchant, Tanglewood.
  • July 3-4, James Taylor and his All-Star Band, Tanglewood
  • July 9, New Kids on the Block, Times Union Center
  • July 21, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Brewery Ommegang
  • Aug. 5, Santana, Bethel Woods.
  • Aug. 30, Sting, SPAC (and at Tanglewood on Aug. 29)

Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park will announce its schedule this week, so watch for a lineup that always includes outstanding international musicians.

— Jeffrey Haff


Even the toughest of theater critics are rarely disappointed with a trip to the Berkshires during the summer months, and the 2017 season looks just as appealing as ever. In fact, the summer is already under way in Pittsfield where the Barrington Stage Company is offering up Jeffrey Sweet’s “Kunstler,” an off-Broadway production starring Jeff McCarthy as the self-described “radical lawyer” and civil rights activist William Kunstler. Sweet set his play in 1995, although flashbacks will take the audience back to the turbulent 1960s when Kunstler was defending the Chicago Seven following the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

The New York Times called it “an eye-opening history lesson,” and lavished praise on McCarthy, whose Broadway credits include “Urinetown,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Chicago.” The only other person on stage is a law student played by Keona Welch, described as “very appealing” by the New York Times.

The show has a limited engagement and closes on June 10.

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts and new artistic director Allyn Burrows promise another exciting season, and will return to Elizabeth Wharton’s home, The Mount, for another production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” July 11-Aug. 19.

Penned by the bard himself in 1595/96 and directed by Jonathan Croy, the play tells the story of four lovers lost in the woods. David Bertoldi and Caroline Calkins head the cast for Tina Packer’s troupe, which is celebrating its 40th summer in the Berkshires.

Heading north into Vermont later in the summer, the Dorset Theatre Festival will mount David Mamet’s American Classic, “American Buffalo,” Aug. 24-Sept.

2. Treat Williams, whose Hollywood success includes “Hair” and “Prince of the City,” will return to the stage where he started his career as Danny Zuko in the Broadway production of “Grease.”

“American Buffalo” is Mamet’s 1975 play about a junkyard dealer who thinks he has sold a valuable coin for far less than it’s worth, and schemes to steal it back. The play premiered in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre and opened on Broadway in 1977 starring Robert Duvall and John Savage and earned two Tony nominations.

Joining Williams on stage will be Stephen Adly Guirgis, co-artistic director of the Labyrinth Theater Company in New York City and a playwright himself, his most recent work, “Between Riverside and Crazy,” winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Back in Albany, the Capital Repertory Theatre will be mounting a production of the smash Broadway musical, “Mamma Mia!” July 7-Aug. 13, directed by Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill. Featuring the music of the Swedish rock group, ABBA, the show was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2002.

Also not to be missed is the Adirondack Theatre Festival production of “Nikola Tesla Drops The Beat,” June 21-July 1 in Glens Falls. An electronic musical based on one of the late 18th century’s greatest inventors, the show tells the story of Tesla’s epic battle with Thomas Edison over alternating and direct current. Nikko Benson and Benjamin Halstead wrote the play, which is being directed for ATF by Marshall Pailet.

— Bill Buell


  • On Saturday, the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown opens “Andrew Wyeth at 100: A Family Remembrance.” It’s an intimate view of the artist, as Victoria Wyeth, granddaughter of the artist, is guest curator. Visitors will see sketches, paintings and ephemera from her personal collection plus her photographs of the artist. Two of Wyeth’s most popular works, “Master Bedroom” (1965) and “The Revenant” (1949), are in the show. Victoria Wyeth, who is a psychologist, will be doing gallery talks. The exhibit runs through Sept 4.
  • On May 28, MASS MoCA will become the largest art museum in America, with the grand opening of Building 6, a new 130,000 square-foot gallery that features work from artists Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, James Turrell, Jenny Holzer and Laurie Anderson. With the latest expansion, the museum in North Adams, Massachusetts will boast 250,000 square feet of art space.
  • On June 4, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts unveils “Picasso: Encounters,” an exploration of Pablo Picasso’s large-scale printmaking experiments. The exhibit begins with Picasso’s seminal “Self-Portrait” (1901) from his Blue Period and includes 35 of his most important graphic achievements dating from 1904 to 1970.
  • June is a big month for The Hyde Collection, as the museum will emerge as an important upstate venue for modern and contemporary art. On June 10, the Glens Falls museum opens its Feibes & Schmitt Gallery, named for Schenectady art collectors and patrons Werner Feibes and Jim Schmitt. The first show in the 1,500-square-foot gallery is “Distribute and Multiply: The Feibes & Schmitt Gift,” with works by Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Lewitt, Louise Nevelson, Bridget Riley and Andy Warhol. In tandem with the new gallery, an Ellsworth Kelly exhibit opens June 25 in the Charles R. Wood Gallery.
  • The Albany Institute of History & Art is this year’s host for the Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region Exhibition. Photographer, curator and collector Jack Shear is the juror. Last year, Shear curated “Borrowed Light: Selections from the Jack Shear Collection,” an exhibit that celebrated his gift of 500 photographs to the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. Shear, who was married to the artist Ellsworth Kelly until the artist’s death in 2015, is president of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. The Regional opens June 17 and runs through Sept. 3.

— Karen Bjornland


Before the summer season hits, pianist Simone Dinnerstein and the Havana Lyceum Orchestra visit Skid-more College’s Zankel Music Center June 20, the first time a Cuban orchestra of this size has toured this country since the revolution.

At the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra will offer a wealth of performances from opening night’s cannon roar/ fireworks (Aug. 2) to the final “A Night at the Opera” (Aug. 19) and including two film nights and even an evening with circus artists. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center brings international artists to play six intimate concerts at the Spa Little Theatre (Aug. 6-22).

They are only a part of the depth of offerings. “Chopin and His World” is the orchestral/chamber music focus at Bard Summerscape (Aug. 11-20); Music from Salem at Hubbard Hall gives four Sunday afternoon concerts of traditional masterworks (July 9-Aug.13). The Luzerne Chamber Music Festival in Lake Luzerne offers Monday evenings (June 26-Aug. 14), sometimes with members of the New York City Ballet Orchestra or the Philadelphia Orchestra. There’s also Caroga Lake Chamber Music in various locations (July 17- Aug. 20) mixing crossover artists with classical musicians; Lake George Music Festival has chamber music and a festival orchestra(Aug. 11-24); and the Decoda Chamber Music Institute at Skidmore College gives three concerts in July.

A bit farther afield is the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, which is celebrating 100 years this summer every Wednesday and Sunday (July 5-Aug. 13) in downtown Lake Placid; the Sembrich Museum offers everything from a kids’ opera to a Scottish fiddle champ in Bolton Landing (June 15-Aug. 16). Cooperstown Summer Music Festival (July 9-Aug. 27) presents chamber masterworks in various locations; at Marlboro Music in Marlboro, VT brilliant young artists perform every weekend (July 15-Aug. 13); and in New Lebanon, international stars play four intimate concerts in the barn at Tannery Pond Concerts (June 17-Aug. 19). There’s also always Tangle-wood with the splendid Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, the myriad chamber concerts and the pop stars (June 17-Sept. 3).

Of special local interest is the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s WaterMusicNY project July 2-8 at seven communities along the Erie Canal that features seven new works ASO members will perform.

— Geraldine Freedman


Opera fans will thrill to the combination of dance, puppets and great singing at Opera Saratoga as the season opens July 1 with Verdi’s comic opera “Falstaff,” followed by the 18th century fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” (July 2), and the 1937 union busting allegory “The Cradle Will Rock” (July 9). The final show of the season is July 16.

Musical theater is a big draw for the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake where young singers develop their vocal chops and the Glimmerglass Opera just outside of Cooperstown where those singers hope to one day sing. Opening night for both is July 5 with the season ending Aug. 19 (Seagle) and Aug. 22 (Glimmerglass).

Seagle features “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” and “My Fair Lady.” At Glimmerglass it’s “Porgy and Bess” and “Oklahoma.” Other operas include: Guettel’s “The Light in the Piazza” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at Seagle; Handel’s “Xerxes” and Donizetti’s “The Siege of Calais” at Glimmerglass.

Not to be missed are also Hubbard Hall Opera Theater’s production of Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” (Aug. 11-20) in Cambridge; Boston Early Music’s Baroque Neapolitan double bill of Pergolesi’s “La Serva Padrona” and “Livietta e Tracollo” in Great Barrington (June 24-25); and five performances of Dvorak’s “Dimitrij” at Bard Summerscape (July/Aug) in Annandale-on-Hudson.

— Geraldine Freedman


New York City Ballet has two weeks (July 5-15) at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center including three premieres from choreographers Justin Peck and Alexei Ratmansky, nights devoted to George Balanchine’s genius or Richard Rodgers’ magical scores. Of special interest is Balanchine’s “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.”

The company also gives four performances in June/July as part of the Bard Summerscape.

A SPAC project for 80 local kids will be their performance July 20 prior to the debut of Che Malambo, the all-male Argentinian, foot-stomping, percussion-wielding dance company.

Proctors also offers the international Celtic wonder Riverdance June 16-18.

If one travels: Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts, celebrates its 85th anniversary (June 21-Aug. 6) in a sylvan setting where Miami City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico and the Doug Varone Company perform.

Parson Dance Company north or Chatham opens PS/21’s month-long festival of dance (Aug. 4-Sept.2) with other companies.

And Tom Gold (formerly of NYC Ballet) brings his company to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington Aug. 4.

— Geraldine Freedman

Categories: Art, Entertainment

Leave a Reply