New England Newspapers
PITTSFIELD -- It’s all about generating excitement, says Berkshire Theatre Group artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire, and BTG’s programmer, Simon Shaw.
With that in mind, Maguire and Shaw are rolling out a January-through-May 2012 schedule at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield and the Unicorn Thea-tre in Stockbridge that includes jazz master Ahmad Jamal; country star Travis Tritt; Men at Work lead singer Colin Hay; the innovative folk-rock-jazz-hip/hop-funk Turtle Island Quartet; Grammy- nominated soul singer Bettye LaVette; the Cajun/zydeco band BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet; singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer; The all-Duke’s Men of Yale; and folk artists Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.
In addition, BTG will present the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, "A Chorus Line," this summer at the Colonial. Details will be announced with the rest of the summer theater schedule some time in late January or February.
Events in the increasingly popular Garage, a new performing space in the Colonial lobby for up-and-coming local bands, will be announced shortly.
Tickets go sale to the general public on Wednesday and to BTG members on Monday.
Colonial Theatre tickets range from $75 to $15. Unicorn tickets range from $33 to $20 with $10 student tickets available for the Duke’s Men of Yale.
The schedule runs a wide range from family programming to an Elvis birthday bash; from Irish comedy and music to a tribute to the "Rat Pack" -- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop; from country music to folk, rock, soul, love songs and rhythmic percussive-dance performed to a beat box.
"Kate has been focusing on the different audiences we have in Berkshire County. How do we draw those audiences here?" Shaw asked rhetorically, joining Maguire for a late afternoon interview in her office at the Colonial Theatre.
"Country music, for example, is one of the biggest requests we get from audiences," Shaw continued. "So, how do you attract a major country music performer who is willing to play an 800-seat house and whom we can afford?"
The answer in this case, Shaw said, is Travis Tritt, who will be at the 780-seat Colonial Theatre on March 10 at 8 p.m. Tritt -- whose most recent album, "The Storm," was produced by "American Idol’s" Randy Jackson -- will bring his nationally touring solo acoustic concert to the downtown Pittsfield theater.
"What we’re looking at is generating excitement," Maguire said. "Our new space, the Garage, is a perfect example. It’s been a very big draw for us.
"The general goal is to get people in the doors; to build confidence and faith in Š our programming even if (people) don’t know the artist."
"What we hope is that people will trust us," Shaw said.
Comedian Ron White is a perfect example.
"Here’s a comedian few people know and he sold out two shows. There wasn’t a seat to be had," Shaw said
The 122-seat Unicorn Theatre is a big part of Maguire’s plan.
"I’m very pleased we’re using that space," Maguire said. "We want to bring first-rate artists there."
On Feb. 11, the Unicorn will host a return engagement of the popular all-male, a cappella choral ensemble, Duke’s Men of Yale, in a program entitled "A Night of Love and Heartbreak with De Doox."
Also at the Unicorn:
n Tarbox Ramblers, an Appalachian, blues and gospel band, Feb. 18
n the popular roots and folk duo, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, March 17
n singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, April 20
Maguire says she is encouraged by the increasing diversity of the Colonial’s audiences.
"You can come to six different shows at the Colonial in six different nights and never see the same audience," she said.
"I like filling the space. I like people getting it. I like people having fun here."
"Theater is about life," Shaw said. "It represents all of us."
All performances at 8 p.m., unless otherwise noted
Elvis Birthday Bash. Jan. 13. Tickets: $45-$15
Turtle Island Quartet. Feb. 17. $45-$20
Doktor Kaboom! Feb. 21 -- 2 p.m. $15
BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet. Feb. 24. $55-$20
Travis Tritt. March 10. $75-$40
Irish Comedy Tour. March 15 -- 7:30 p.m. $25
Danú. March 16. $40-$20
Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show. March 24. $45-$20
Ahmad Jamal. March 31. $50-$15
The Magic of Bill Blagg Live! April 17 -- 2 p.m. $15
Bronx Wanderers. April 27. $35-$15
Colin Hay. May 5. $40-$20
Rhythmic Circus. May 12. $35-$15
Bettye LaVette. May 26. $55-$20
All performances at 8 p.m.
The Duke’s Men of Yale. Feb. 11. $20 (adults); $10 (students)
Tarbox Ramblers. Feb. 18. $20
Jay Ungar & Molly Mason. March 17. $30
Carrie Newcomer. April 20. $30.
Ticket sales begin Wednesday for the general public; on Monday for members only
How: at the Colonial Theatre box office, 111 South St., Pittsfield; by telephone at (413) 997-4444; online at www.TheColonialTheatre.org.
Box office hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; performance days, 10 a.m. until intermission.