Summer Arts Preview: Music, theater, art, dance

Our writers' best bets for the season ahead
The touring production of "Hamilton"; inset: Phantogram (left) and artist John Sloan's "A Roof in Chelsea NY."
The touring production of "Hamilton"; inset: Phantogram (left) and artist John Sloan's "A Roof in Chelsea NY."


Remember, for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to get a “Hamilton” ticket or two, the Broadway smash about our Founding Fathers isn’t the only highly celebrated Lin-Manuel Miranda musical visiting the Capital Region this summer.

“In The Heights,” Miranda’s 2009 musical about three days in a Hispanic-American neighborhood in  New York City, will enjoy a month-long run in Albany’s Washington Park June 28-July 27. It didn’t win 11 Tonys like “Hamilton” (it won four including Best Musical), but it did win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (like “Hamilton”) and the Park Playhouse production (unlike “Hamilton” at Proctors August 13-25), is free.

Along with those two gems there is so much more. While some venues may slow down for the summer, there remain many wonderful ways for theater lovers to enjoy their favorite pastime over the next couple of months. And, if you’re willing to put a few miles on your car, the options for entertainment throughout the Capital Region and its neighboring communities are seemingly endless.

Take the Berkshires for example. Beginning with previews tonight at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts, is Kenneth Lonergan’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize nominated play, “The Waverly Gallery.” Featuring S&C favorites Annette Miller and Elizabeth Aspenlieder, the show officially opens Sunday and runs through July 14 at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. A new staging of the play, about a daughter dealing with her mother’s dementia, ran earlier this year on Broadway and earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Revival and Best Performance by an Actress (Elaine May).

Already under way in Pittsfield at Barrington Stage is “Hold These Truths,” Jeanne Sakata’s play about Japanese-Americans incarcerated during World War II, and a few miles to the north the Williamstown Theatre Festival will host a world premiere of Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” Joel de la Fuente stars in Sakata’s one-man show on the Barrington Stage until June 8, while Oscar, Tony and Emmy nominated actress JoBeth Williams stars in “Grand Horizons” July 17-28 in Williamstown.

In Cooperstown this summer, musical fans will be able to take in the Glimmerglass Opera production of “Showboat,” June 6 through July 27. The show, rarely produced because of its many logistical issues, includes the classic Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein song, “Ol’ Man River.’

At Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, “The Full Monty” takes center stage from July 5-August. 11, while at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham, Carol Max asked her customers what they wanted to see this summer, and they’re overwhelming response was another production of “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”  The show first ran during the fall of 2017 at Curtain Call, and with Matthew Reddick reprising the lead role, this summer’s production opens May 30 and runs through June 29.

If you’re looking for something a little different, the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York will take you back to Mt. Vernon and the home of George Washington where Martha, a few years after the passing of her husband, is dealing with her own impending death. Being staged June 7-16 at the Meader Little Theatre on the campus of Russell Sage in Troy, the show is dominated by the specter of slavery, America’s original sin.

And, before “Hamilton” comes to Proctors, “Waitress,” nominated for four Tony Awards in 2016 and still up and running on Broadway, will have its national touring production in Schenectady June 11-16. Six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics for the show, which is based on the 2007 film of the same name and tells the story of a waitress, played by Keri Russell in the movie, dealing with an abusive relationship.

While Joseph Morales is expected to play the lead in “Hamilton,” Proctors officials still don’t know yet when tickets will go on sale. And if you don’t want to worry about tickets, you can watch “In The Heights” at Park Playhouse for free in Albany’s Washington Park. Playing the female lead will be Loudonville’s Arianna Papaleo, a Holy Names graduate and currently a student at New York University.

— Bill Buell


Rapper Cardi B’s concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center — originally scheduled for Sunday but moved to Sept. 6 — promises to be among the summer highlights.

The Beck/Cage the Elephant/Spoon concert at SPAC on Aug. 12 is another highly anticipated show.

Multi-platinum band Hootie & The Blowfish — its “Cracked Rear View”  (“Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry,” “Only Wanna Be With You” ) is among the Top 10 best-selling albums of all time — embarks on its first full-scale tour in more than a decade and drops in at SPAC on Aug. 4.

Other SPAC highlights: 

Dead & Company (June 18), Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz festival (June 29-30), Blink- 182 and Lil Wayne (July 1), Luke Bryan (July 11) and Train and Goo Goo Dolls (July 26).

SPAC has back-to-back nights for both Phish (July 2-3) and the Dave Matthews Band (July 12-13) and toward the end of summer features farewell tours by Kiss (Aug. 24), Lynyrd Skynyrd (Aug. 31) and Peter Frampton (Sept. 1).

Over in Lenox, Massachusetts, Tanglewood highlights will include Brian Wilson (June 16), Josh Groban (July 2) and seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight — “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” — & The Spinners on Aug. 28.

Trumpet legend Herb Alpert & Lani Hall come to The Egg on Aug. 4.

John Mayer starts his tour at the Times Union Center on July 19 and Shinedown plays the venue Sept. 20.

In Glens Falls, Travis Tritt & the Charlie Daniels Band perform on June 23 at Cool Insuring Arena.

While Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park won’t announce its full, 30th anniversary season until May 29, organizers have announced that its season will begin at 7 p.m. on July 7 with contemporary Indian folk-rocker Raghu Dixit (rain site is Proctors).

Smash Mouth performs July 12 at Schenectady County SummerNight in downtown Schenectady, a huge, evening-into-night block party. Also, Harbor Jam concerts at Rivers Casino & Resort begin on Saturday, July 6, with Ambrosia.

Up north, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile performs this Friday and Saturday in the Shelburne Museum’s Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Green series in Burlington, Vermont. Lyle Lovett is there on Aug. 4.

At Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, several shows are already sold out, but among those that aren’t: Richard Thompson and Shawn Colvin (July 13) and Jon Anderson of Yes (July 24).

Death Cab for Cutie seems destined to become one of the most popular shows at Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown this summer. The Grammy-nominated rock band will be joined by Jenny Lewis on June 21.  

Between festivals and solo shows, one only has to ask if there’s enough time to see and hear everything going on at MASS MoCA this summer. It’s the venue’s 20th anniversary and there will be a block party celebration on Saturday to kick off the season, featuring Tank and the Bangas, a funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz band. Then the Solid Sound festival takes over on June 28-30, with Wilco, Courtney Barnett, The Feelies and others slated to take the stage. Singer-Songwriter and Berkshire favorite Caroline Rose performs on July 20, followed by Maggie Rogers on July 30. The annual Bang on a Can concert marathon takes off on Aug. 2 and runs through Aug. 4, with performances by Sun Ra Arkestra, Ben Frost, Pauline Oliveros and others. MASS MoCA wraps up the summer on Aug. 31 with Flying Lotus, an experimental hip-hop and electronic artist. 

Skyloft, the Capital Region’s newest concert venue, brings in singer-songwriter and former lead guitarist for The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, on July 30, followed by indie rock band Real Estate on Aug. 7. 

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, which broke into the mainstream with its single “Face Down,” heads to Jupiter Hall in Crossgates on July 14. The band plays amongst a crowded line-up of bands set to perform, including Wolves at the Gate, Valleyheart, Viewpoints and Brookline-NY. 

Since its big move to Bethel Woods, Mountain Jam has maintained its promising lineup, with artists like Willie Nelson, Alison Krause, Twiddle, The Avett Brothers and others scheduled to take the stage from June 13-16.  

Following that, Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Blondie usher in music from the 1970s and 1980s on July 20. Heart, Sheryl Crow and Elle King head to Bethel Woods on July 29. 

The venue is also celebrating the golden anniversary of Woodstock with several days of events, including a performance by Ringo Starr, Arlo Guthrie, Santana and others, from Aug. 16-18. 

From local to international talent, Caffe Lena can be relied on to bring in the best of the best. On June 15, brother-sister duo Jocelyn & Chris Ardnt take the stage with their latest album, “The Fun in the Fight.” Then, Melanie, one of only three women who performed at Woodstock, will play two sets on July 28. For the first time in the venue’s history, Judy Collins will take the stage on Aug. 17. 

Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter of Phantogram return to Upstate Concert Hall on Aug. 31 after a year or two of touring. The Greenwich natives are touring with the album “Three,” which came out in 2016. The alt-rock quartet Silversun Pickups is slated to perform at Upstate on July 13.

— Indiana Nash & Jeffrey Haff


From provocative installations to classic and cozy illustrations, there will be plenty to feast one’s eyes upon this summer. Saratoga Arts offers a look at emerging regional artists, while the Clark Art Institute delves into one of the world’s most prominent Impressionist painters. Here’s a glance at what’s to come in the local visual arts world: 

Albany Center Gallery
“Interact” is the summer show created by regional artists Ali Herrmann, Danielle Klebes, Reinhardt Moore, Lisa DeLoria Weinblatt, Steve Rein and Jeff Wigman. Each of their works has to do with the way that humans connect with their environment and with others. Comprised mainly of paintings, the exhibition will be on display from today until June 22. An opening reception on June 7 is from 5-8 p.m.  For more:    

Albany Institute of History & Art
If you can’t wait until August to get your “Hamilton” fill at Proctors, check out “The Schuyler Sisters and Their Circle,” which opens on July 20. The exhibit brings together everything from portraits to manuscripts to decorative arts to tell the story of how the Schuyler sisters and their descendants helped shape the United States. Shortly before that, on June 19, “A Brilliant Bit of Color: the Work of Walter Launt Palmer,” opens, combining the vivid paintings and drawings of Palmer, as well as a rare painted ceramic cup.   

Chesterwood, Stockbridge
Each summer, Chesterwood features contemporary sculptures on its grounds. Rick and Laura Brown have been invited this year to install their work, “One Impulse from Vernal Wood.” The installation is comprised of nine site-specific sculptures, constructed using distress or standing dead trees found on the trails of Chesterwood. The exhibition runs from June 29 through October 27. 

Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
It’s all about the senses at the Clark this summer. On June 8, “Renoir: The Body, The Senses.” and “Jane Cardiff: The Forty Part Motet,” open. The former will focus on how Renoir used the human figure throughout his career, from Realism to Impressionism. The latter engages more in the viewers’ sense of hearing, with a ring of speakers playing out Thomas Tallis’ “Spem in alium (Hope in any other).” The Renoir exhibit runs until Sept. 22, while the Cardiff installation runs through Sept. 15.

Hyde Collection, Glens Falls 
What could be better than seeing New York City from a bird’s eye view? Seeing through the works of John Sloan in “From the Rooftops.” The exhibition brings together works from the Ashcan School painter as well as some of his contemporaries to depict the working class and immigrant populations in NYC during the early to mid-1900s. “From the Rooftops” opens on June 15 and runs through Sept. 15.   

MASS MoCA, North Adams
Artist Cauleen Smith takes a deep dive into this idea of utopia in “we already have what we need.” Through light-infused and sci-fi-esque video installations, Smith creates a version of utopia, suggesting that this planet has the potential to create the ideal world. Beyond the films, there are also 30 drawings of must-read books that touch upon themes in the exhibition, like “In the Wake” by Christina Sharpe and “Sula” by Toni Morrison. 
“Suffering From Realness” also runs through this summer season, exploring the human condition through nearly every medium from sculptures to paintings. It touches upon racism, violence, the politicized body of wartime and the complexity of responsibility. There will be a reception for these two exhibitions as well as “Now I Let You Go,” and “Joe Manning: Looking at North Adams,” from 5:30-7 p.m. on Saturday. 

Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge
In celebration of the museum’s 50th anniversary, it’s giving us a deeper glance into the life of its namesake artist. “Norman Rockwell: Private Moments for the Masses” features illustrations of Rockwell’s joys and of his anxieties. “Triple Self-Portrait,” the touchstone of the exhibit, looks at Rockwell’s identity crisis. It was created at a time when Rockwell was seeing success in commercial illustration while those in the art world felt mostly contempt for his career. “Christmas Homecoming” features more of the joyful side of the artist’s life, with his friends and family gathered around while Rockwell looks on in pride. Other favorites include “No Swimming” and “The Runaway.” The exhibition will be up through October 27.

Saratoga Arts, Saratoga Springs
Summer at the Arts Center Gallery starts off with “Passing Time,” an exhibit that brings together paintings by Paul Chapman, an installation by Rebecca Flis and photography by Harry Wirtz. The show will run until June 15. Saratoga Arts will introduce its annual “10 by 10 Exhibition,” featuring works by 100 regional artists.

Tang Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs 
Just because Skidmore College slows down during the summer doesn’t mean the Tang Teaching Museum does. On June 4, The Streb Extreme Action Company takes over the museum. Streb is known for its intensely physical performances, that combine technical skill with popular appeal. The company will turn the Tang into its rehearsal and performance space, as well as an exhibition (“Streb Action”) of its archived work, which dates back from 1985. While the Streb Company will only be in residence until June 21, the exhibit will be open until July 21. Later on in the summer, the museum will explore the short but prolific career of artist and Skidmore graduate Ree Morton. The artist attended Skidmore from 1953-1956 and studied nursing, though she studied art later in life and went on to create sculptural pieces as well as drawings and paintings in the style of feminist and post-minimalist movements. “Ree Morton: The Plant That Kills May Also Poison,” opens on Aug. 10.

University Art Museum at the University at Albany 
The University at Albany is turning its attention on sports this summer. “ACE: art on sports, promise, and selfhood,” which explores youth, gender, race and identity through the lens of athletic culture. The exhibit features both established and emerging artists and opens on June 28.

— Indiana Nash


The Philadelphia Orchestra brings superb music making to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center July 31-Aug. 17 with a compelling mix of programs that include three films, Metropolitan Opera singers, Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center, pieces never played at SPAC before, and the resounding cannon and fireworks opening night. Music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin will grace the stage for two weeks.

Tanglewood’s season opens June 15 with mandolinist/host Chris Thile in Live From Here, then proceeds to James Taylor and his All-star Band July 3-4 before the Boston Symphony Orchestra takes the stage July 5 under music director Andris Nelsons and pianist Emanuel Ax. The season continues until Aug. 25 and features the Boston Pops, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, a film night, a Kevin Puts’ world premiere, the Verdi Requiem, and solo performances from great artists like pianists Yefim Bronfman, Paul Lewis, Kirill Gerstein, Nikolai Lugansky and Jean-Yves Thibaudet; violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Joshua Bell; cellist Gautier Capucon.

The Lake Placid Sinfonietta celebrates its 102nd season every Wednesday and Sunday from July 4-Aug. 11. 

— Geraldine Freedman


The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents international artists in six concerts Aug. 4 – 20 in the intimate Spa Little Theatre. All programs feature music never played before on this summer series.

The Capital Region is rich with music festivals that offer classical, world, jazz and even a festival orchestra in wide-ranging venues: Caroga Lake Music Festival  (July 15-Aug. 18); Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival  (June 9, Aug. 4-25); Lake George Music Festival (Aug. 11-23); Marlboro Music every Saturday and Sunday (July 13-Aug. 11); Music from Salem at Cambridge’s Hubbard Hall (July 7-Aug. 11) and Tannery Pond Concerts in New Lebanon (June 15-Aug. 24).

Luzerne Chamber Music Festival in Lake Luzerne has two series: stars like violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn, pianist Toby Blumenthal and musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the NYC Ballet Orchestra (Mondays, July 8-Aug. 12) and the Faculty Concerts (June 21-Aug. 2). Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum in Bolton Landing is June 19-Aug. 25. Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center has the Mostly Modern Music Festival is June 10-28 and the Decoda Institute July 16-26.

— Geraldine Freedman


The Streb Extreme Action Company, the experimental action dance group, will be at Skidmore College’s Tang Museum June 4-21 with its “action-hero choreography” that has dancer/athletes presenting the “drama of action,” said choreographer Elizabeth Streb (see more on page 12).

In contrast is New York City Ballet’s season July16-20 at SPAC, which includes two matinees, and presents two performances of George Balanchine’s choreography; three featuring the ballet “Coppelia”; three new dances from living choreographers and the gala that samples dances by Balanchine, Chris Wheeldon, and Justin Peck.  

— Geraldine Freedman


Opera Saratoga’s season offers song recitals and masterclasses starting May 25 before the season officially opens on June 29 with Donizetti’s comic opera “Daughter of the Regiment” followed the next day with the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Ellen West.” Kids will love “Hansel and Gretel” (July 5) with its handmade puppets. One night is devoted to the intriguing Rimsky-Korsakov one act “Mozart and Salieri” (July 11) with a recital in the first half of Mozart and Salieri arias. The season ends July 14.

Glimmerglass Opera just north of Cooperstown, has a plethora of opera-related events that include lectures, Young Artists recitals and a youth opera by Benjamin Britten.  The season opens July 6 with Kern/Hammerstein’s “Showboat” (1927) performed without amplification. Other operas are by Verdi, Corigliano, Tchaikovsky, and a world premiere by Jeanine Tesori with performances almost daily until Aug. 24.

The Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake spotlights young singers with a diverse season that opens July 3 with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita.”

Rodgers/Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” opens Aug. 14. Other operas are by Mozart (July 17) and Ken Puts (July 31). The season ends Aug. 17.

Bard Summerscape at Bard College spotlights Austrian composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who became a 1930s-1950s Hollywood success story.

His opera ,“The Miracle of Heliane” (1927) runs July 26 – Aug. 4.

Boston Early Music offers baroque splendor in “Versailles: Portrait of a Royal Domain” June 21-22 at Great Barrington’s Mahaiwe Theater.

— Geraldine Freedman



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