Broadway in the Berkshire at Shakespeare & Company

Benefit Nets $60,000 for Education Program

By: - Aug 16, 2011

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On a Monday evening when the lights are out along the Great White Way a busload of stars traveled to Lenox for Broadway in the Berkshires. The stunning evening of music and dance, hosted by the glib and charming, Chip Zien, thrilled the audience and raised some $60,000 for the education programming of Shakespeare and Company.

The fabulous evening of all star entertainment was flawlessly produced by the very talented Deborah Grausman, the founder of Berkshire Musical Theatre Workshop (BMTW), who also performed during the musical revue.

Zien, as he humorously informed us, has lived for 25 years just up the road but has never previously been invited to perform at S&Co. Several times during the evening he attempted to “audition” for artistic director Tony Simotes. But he was regularly cut short by yet another star with stunning renditions mostly of their current Broadway shows.

Toward the end of the performance Zien offered a compelling song from his role as Baker in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

As a one off, with just a run through during the afternoon, the performance was everything one could hope for and then some. It was such a dazzling event that it deserved a longer run. If only. But for one night it was just fabulous.

During an all star event there were so many highlights. But Brian Charles Rooney brought the house down with a medley, in both male and female roles, that provided a kind of overview of Broadway’s greatest hits. With remarkable vocal and dramatic dexterity he was able to snap from one gender to another mid song. My goodness. What a remarkable talent.

Another thrilling segment entailed the juvenile Peter Mazurowski, currently starring as one of the three actors portraying Billy Elliot, in the long running Broadway musical. It was spellbinding and magical as he executed an intricate and complex dance solo.

The musical accompaniment for the program was provided brilliantly by pianist Tod Rainey, drummer, Chris Mattoon and Owen Young a cellist borrowed for the evening from the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Shawn Cody, an alumnus from S&Co, with members of his cast, performed a number from a musical in process The Water Dream. During the dinner following the performance we spoke with him about the project which he has been working on for several years including readings at S&Co. He is confident that the musical is Broadway bound and is in the process of finding producers.

Karmine Alers and Ryan Link were paired for a selection from Rent. He was a part of the 2009 Tony winning revival of Hair directed by ART’s Diane Paulus.

There were a number of humorous references to Shakespeare. Zien asked us how many of his plays have been transformed into musicals? The answer it seems is eight. That led to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”from Kiss Me Kate based on Taming of the Shrew. Indeed, how perfect and amusing for the occasion.

When introducing the stars of current Broadway shows Zien often reminded us, with some over the top chagrin, that his recent musical The People in the Picture has closed. He then introduced the stunning Rachel DeBenedet who plays Paula Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can. Kearran Giovanni also sang a selection from that show.

As the evening progressed the hits kept on coming. The audience was truly thrilled and delighted.

On a soggy summer night when the stars shone brightly through the gloom.