APRIL 12, 2018 – The Jewish contribution to cabaret looms virtually as large as that to the American musical, at least if the upcoming summer lineup at the Barrington Stage Company is any indication.
The Pittsfield showplace has often featured music by William Finn, who grew up Jewish in Natick and won two Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score in 1992 for “Falsettos.”
Since 2012, the Barrington Stage Company has honored the composer with a series of individual performances known as “Mr. Finn’s Cabaret.” This year’s offerings, from June 3 to Sept. 22 in the cozy nightspot named for Finn on the lower level of the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, are likely to satisfy the most demanding fans with a generous sampling of both Jewish-themed content and American cabaret gems.
BSC is presenting a New Songwriters Cabaret June 17-18 featuring composer Benji Goldsmith and lyricist Stefan Melnyk. Entitled “Lies We Tell Ourselves,” their evening of song will include insight, humor, irony, and surprise.
By contrast, Jewish playwright-actor Charles Busch of “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” fame will reminisce June 24-25 about his mentoring aunt Lillian Blum, who took him in after the death of his mother and had a major impact on his interest in the arts. Music by such legendary Jewish composers as Burt Bacharach, Bob Dylan, Stephen Sondheim, and the duo John Kander and Fred Ebb (“New York, New York,” “Cabaret”) will join songs by the Beatles and Henry Mancini in the program, called “My Kinda Sixties.”
BSC’S Music Theatre Conservatory will follow with an intriguingly named July 2 evening: “Best of Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don’t Know.” The title composers and lyricists in this annual cabaret concert – which BSC’s musical theater lab co-founder and artistic director Finn has been presenting for several years now – will include students from his summer conservatory program.
The company’s eclectic cabaret lineup will take on a strikingly humorous tone soon after with comedienne-actress Leslie Kritzer July 8-9. Kritzer, a cast member in BSC’s recent revival of “Guys and Dolls,’’ will present a program called “Half Jew, All Guilt’’ (Jewish father, Puerto Rican Catholic mother). Her performances will combine stories about her life and songs pertinent to her show.
Expect a singularly personal presentation July 29-30 from two-time Tony-winning Jewish composer Jason Robert Brown, who received a Tony for Best Original Score for “Parade.”
Look for more Finn material with actor Brandon Uranowitz’s Aug. 5-6 program “The Songs of William Finn.’’ Uranowitz earned a Tony nomination for playing Jewish therapist Mendel in an acclaimed 2016 revival of “Falsettos.”
Finn fans – and who is not? – will be excited to hear that he has teamed up once again with Rachel Sheinkin. He wrote the music and lyrics and she won the Tony for Best Book of a Musical in 2005 for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
Now, the pair is gearing up for what could be another pre-Broadway run. This time the show on the Barrington Stage Company’s mainstage is the world premiere of a musical version of “The Royal Family of Broadway.”
The show will begin previews on June 7 and open on June 13 for a limited run through June 30.For show times and tickets, go to barringtonstageco.org or call 413-236-8888.