By Kim Ostellino
If you’re a performing arts enthusiast, there are few locations that rival the Berkshires for their vast choices of arts and entertainment. This cultural mecca offers fabulous entertainment year-round, but as the summer season approaches the performing arts in the area really kick into high gear.
Whether you are looking for an outdoor pop concert, a Shakespearean play, or a lighthearted musical, the Berkshires are indeed a premier destination for all. With venues as varied as the shows themselves, you will never be at a loss for choices. One night you can enjoy a casual dance performance at an outdoor amphitheater and the next, be dressed to the nines at a performance inside one of the Berkshire’s exquisite estates. Whatever your mood, there will be something to inspire you.
Great Barrington heats up the summer season at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, with the venerable Ronnie Spector. They continue the good vibes with the classic summer sounds of The Beach Boys on August 15.
Tanglewood, the beloved music venue in Lenox, brings a wide variety of shows throughout their exceptional upcoming season. In early July, John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter take the stage, followed the next night by the fierce energy of Natalie Merchant. Local favorite James Taylor returns for his popular shows on the 3rd and 4th of July. The summer continues with The Boston Pops and an entertaining evening with humorist David Sedaris. The Tanglewood season winds down with a star-studded lineup, including Sting, the legendary Diana Ross, and Melissa Etheridge. Just up the street be sure to take in a play at Shakespeare & Company, new this year they will be doing an al fresco performance of The Tempest.
Nestled deep in the woods of Becket, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival is one of those special places that define the Berkshire experience. In a setting like a summer camp for adults, you will find world-class talent within a variety of dance interpretations. Check out their exhilarating summer line up as they celebrate their 85th year as a dance company. Included in their celebratory anniversary festival are performances by the renowned Miami City Ballet.
Berkshire Theatre Group produces wonderful events for their south county venues as well as in Pittsfield at The Colonial Theatre. In July, they present The Music Man, a musical that has been delighting audiences since its’ award-winning run on Broadway in 1957. Comedian & actress Janeane Garofalo will bring her unflinching brand of honest humor to the stage in July followed by rock ‘n’ roll legend Southside Johnny in August. In November, public radio icon Garrison Keillor, with performers Robin and Linda Williams, will bring his well-loved wit, ruminations, and harmonies to the live stage. Of course be sure to check out the lineup at Barrington Stage, here you can take in Ragtime, Taking Steps, Company and so much more.
No visit this summer will be complete without a stop at the newly expanded and unveiled MASS MoCA in North Adams. They will be opening their season with The Solid Sound Festival in late June (June 23-25) starring crowd favorites Wilco x2, Television, Kurt Vile and the Violaters, Robert Glasper Experiment, Big Thief, John Hodgman’s Comedy Stage, and so much more. Joan Osborne comes to town in early July, performing the iconic songs of Bob Dylan.
This is just a smattering of all we have to offer so be sure to learn more about all our performing arts venues. North, south, or central, wherever you find yourself in the Berkshires this summer, you will find a variety of live performances to suit your taste.
Kim is a freelance writer, devoted to bringing the best of the Berkshires to locals and visitors alike through her website, Berkshire Girl Online. She is an avid hiker and kayaker, who also loves to explore the cultural and historical sites of the Berkshires.