Above: (Left to right) Alan H. Green, Alysha Umphress, Jacob Tischler, Allison Blackwell and Britney Coleman in Barrington Stage Company’s production of Who Could Ask for Anything More?; photos by Daniel Rader.
Barrington Stage Company is welcoming us back to live theatre, starting the summer season with a packed house celebrating the legacy of George and Ira Gershwin in Barrington Stage’s production of Who Could Ask for Anything More?
With careful crafting from the costumes to the set design, Barrington Stage brings us what we have been looking forward to coming back to over the past year.
The traditional indoor theatre is reimagined as Barrington Stage is hosting a majority of their season in a spacious 200-person tent located in a previous lot owned by General Electric.
According to the Actors Equity Association, patrons must wear masks during the show and sign a waiver to hold Barrington Stage unaccountable for any illness that patrons may catch.
Despite the shift in venue, Barrington Stage continues to impress audiences with the quality of work they produce. The outside tent has a high-quality sound system as well as quite an impressive lightning design.
The sound and scenic crew consist of Lex Liang (set designer), Sara Jean Tosetti (costume designer), David Lander (lighting designer), and Josh Millican (sound designer).
Brothers George and Ira Gershwin have written and produced over 22 musicals throughout their careers before George’s untimely death in 1937.
Artistic Director Julianne Boyd addressed the audience prior to the show stating, “We here at Barrington Stage want to welcome you back to live theatre.”
It has been quite a journey, but being in this tent doing Gershwin is a dream come true. Gershwin’s music brings an unbelievable spirit and life, all things we need right now.”
This production is directed by Julianne Boyd and music directed by Darren R. Cohen.
As the five-piece band struck their opening chord, you could see the joy on all of their faces, unable to hide the excitement to play for an audience once again.
The cast is made up of, Allison Blackwell, Britney Coleman, Alan H. Green, Jacob Tischler, and Alysha Umphress.
This small cast was genuinely stellar, as they performed beautifully as both an ensemble and in their solo performances.
The production was presented as a review-style show with cast members singing Gershwin’s songs and taking the audience through a history lesson of their career and legacy.
The choreography by Jeffery L. Page was tastefully crafted for each different number, creating dynamic dancing in the group numbers. The individual numbers were truly curated for each performer, making each number pleasure to watch.
Allison Blackwell gave an outstanding performance followed by a long-standing ovation of “Summertime,” reflecting on her musical theatre roots, as she made her Broadway debut in Gershwin’s famous opera Porgy and Bess.
With an angelic lyric soprano vocal range, Blackwell got emotional while singing this tough number with poise.
Alysha Umphress was also another standout dynamic vocalist, wowing audiences in “Little Jazz Bird,” utilizing all aspects of vocal technique, stunning audiences with impressive, smooth scatting contributing to a seamless performance.
Britney Coleman delighted audiences in the famous jazz ballad “But Not For Me,” performing with natural and raw acting charm.
Alan H. Green delivers the 11 o’clock number with “My Man’s Gone Now,” often sang by a female lyric soprano; Green provides a different tonality and meaning to the piece.
The piece presented themes about confronting challenging aspects that life presents and is sure to send chills up your spine and tug at your heart.
The final number of the review was “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin'” Soon for New York from Porgy and Bess.
This was a perfect conclusion to the show and was presented in the context of the long-awaited reopening of Broadway.
Who Can Ak for Anything More? It is an excellent show for all ages, as it will expose the younger generation to the life and legacy of George and Ira Gershwin aa well as giving musical theatre audiences the utmost memorable experience.
With the theatre setting shifting outdoors, there is a caution to be had for inclement weather. Who Could Ask For Anything More? is running until July 3rd at 34 Laurel Street in Pittsfield, MA.
The show runs around 75 minutes, and you can learn more about the production by visiting: www.barringtonstageco.org/Season-Shows/gershwin .