Julianne Boyd’s energy never wavers.
During a break from rehearsals for “A Little Night Music,” Barrington Stage Company’s soon-to-be-retired artistic director enthuses over her cast, which includes Tony nominee Emily Skinner and Jason Danieley (“They’ve known each other for years, which made it easy”); reminisces about her company’s start in a school auditorium in Great Barrington (“Some people turned up their noses, but [composer] Jerry Herman said, ‘I don’t care where [the show] is, as long as it’s done well’ ”); expresses awe over the company’s ability to build a five-building campus in Pittsfield (“My board made it happen!”); and expresses her excitement about her next chapter (“My husband and I are spending three weeks in Japan,” followed by a cruise and trip to Tuscany), which begins when the Sondheim musical she’s directing closes Aug. 28.
Although she is stepping down from her administrative role at the company she co-founded in 1995, she hopes to direct again but wants to give her successor the support and space that person will need. (The hiring of a new artistic director is expected to be announced shortly.) In the meantime, she’s focused on “A Little Night Music,” which she calls “an accessible ‘Comedy of Errors.’ It’s my favorite Stephen Sondheim musical because the wit of Hugh Wheeler’s book matches the Ingmar Bergman film” that inspired it, “Smiles of a Summer Night.”
“A Little Night Music” follows three miserably mismatched couples for whom the magic of a midsummer night (and perhaps a sip from a special tea) allows them to untangle themselves and happily realign. While “Send in the Clowns” became a pop hit, other songs from the show include “The Glamorous Life” and “Liaisons.”
Boyd is returning to “A Little Night Music,” having directed it at BSC in 1988.
“[Director] Hal Prince described the show as all whipped cream and knives,” Boyd says. “I love that juxtaposition. Each of these characters, and what they want, is so clear. Everyone experiences chaos in Act II and everyone ultimately shines in it.”
Boyd’s cast — including Broadway favorites Danieley (“Pretty Woman”), Skinner (“The Cher Show,” “Side Show”), Mary Beth Peil (“The King and I”), and Rebecca Pitcher (“The Phantom of the Opera”) — comes with a lot of built-in sparkle, but Boyd says actors not only love the show, they enjoy working at BSC.
Boyd’s understanding of what performers need also extends to what her audiences want.
“We do musicals,” she says, “but over the years we expanded to a decent number of straight plays. When [Mark St. Germain’s] ‘Freud’s Last Session’ was such a success, I know we could consider plays with social issues.”
Barrington Stage not only considers new plays, it nurtures them, offering playwrights and composers commissions and pairing them with a director who can bring it to the stage. While William Finn’s “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is perhaps the company’s biggest success, going on to Broadway and many regional productions, Boyd says she is equally proud of this season’s “ABCD,” written by 26-year-old May Treuhaft-Ali, and the opportunity to bring new voices to the stage.
“With our theaters, administration, and rehearsal spaces, and now our set production building, we are part of Pittsfield,” she says. “I love hearing from summer visitors and year-round residents about what they enjoy, and I love finding new things for them to experience.”
But Boyd is already excited about what lies ahead.
“I got married, we raised our kids, I directed theater in New York, and worked as the president of the directors union,” she says. “Then we came here, launched this company, became the first theater to produce a play in the pandemic. Now, I’d like to think about what I can do to be helpful to the next generation.”
A bilingual ‘Wizard’ in Chelsea
The always inventive Apollinaire Theatre Company and Teatro Chelsea are once again taking it to the streets with an “on-your-feet” adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” called “And Your Little Dog, Too!/Y Tu Perrito Tambien!” Aug. 5-20 in Chelsea Square.
Boston favorite Brooks Reeves, working closely with Apollinaire artistic director Danielle Fauteux Jacques and Paola Ferrer, adapted “The Wizard of Oz” with a contemporary eye and a script that shifts easily between Spanish and English.
“The goal was to create an irreverent and endearing adaptation of one of my favorite childhood books,” says Reeves. “Chelsea stands in for Kansas and the storm is gentrification, which is placing enormous stress on families there.”
The Wicked Witch, in this version, is the new landlord that is forcing Dorotea, Tio Henry, and Tia Emilia out of their apartment. When Dorotea (Gabriela Medina-Toledo) and her dog Toto land in Oz, their three friends — the Scarecrow, Tin Woman, and Cowardly Lion — are confronting the same issues of self-confidence, heartbreak, and fear but in contemporary ways. And of course, Dorotea wears bright red, sparkly high tops.
And, Toto, Dorotea’s dog, speaks.
“Toto is Dorotea’s best friend,” says Samuel Regueros, a rising senior at Boston University who plays the dog. “He’s very clear-eyed, and while other characters are struggling, he helps Dorotea find her strength.”
Reeves says that although he is the playwright, “And Your Little Dog, Too” has been a collaborative project that includes Jacques, new music by composer David Reiffel, Demetrius Fuller, and Carlos Zalduondo, and fight and movement choreography by Matthew Dray.
“We also had to work out who and when characters were speaking English or Spanish, always being clear what was said no matter which language it was in,” he says.
Since the scenes take place in and around Chelsea Square, adjustments had to be made to accommodate movement, and rehearsals have been spent mostly outdoors.
“It’s been so fun to be out on the streets, running around as some people pretend to be flying monkeys, or whatever, and Chelsea locals hear us switching easily between Spanish and English, as we play with this familiar story,” he says.
Tickets to “And Your Little Dog, Too!” are free, but donations are welcome. Performances start at 7:30 p.m., pre-show music starts at 6 p.m., takeout is available from local restaurants, and BearMoose Brewing Co. hosts a beer garden. For more information, go to www.apollinairetheatre.com.
BLO on Boston Common
Just one week after the Commonwealth Stage Company’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing” closes on Boston Common, Boston Lyric Opera provides another gift to the city with a free production of the opera “Romeo and Juliet” Aug. 11 and 13 on the CSC stage. Steve Maler, founding artistic director of CommShakes, will direct “Romeo and Juliet,” which features Ricardo Garcia as Romeo and Boston Conservatory at Berklee graduate Vanessa Becerra as Juliet. Music director David Angus will lead the BLO Orchestra and Chorus. The performance, sung in English with surtitles, coincides with the 20-year anniversary of BLO’s last free Boston Common show, “Carmen.” The opera runs two hours and chairs are available for rental at $10 each. Go to blo.org for more details.
Terry Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Presented by Barrington Stage Company. At Boyd-Quinson Stage, Pittsfield. Aug. 6-28. $25-$85. 413-236-8888, www.barringtonstageco.org