Out & About
A country crooner in Bethel, powerful theater in Potown
By Valerie Havas & Emma Stamm
Brad Paisley is no stranger to tradition. His much-lauded brand of country music finds its roots in the American convention of rambling stories, heart-wrenching harmonies, and breakneck instrumentals. Paisley’s sound, however, incorporates swing, bluegrass, shuffle, and more into the mix to give it a more modern feel. The town of Bethel has a similar story: steeped in the memories of the famous 1969 Woodstock Festival, it also found its modern artistic edge with the recently-opened Bethel Woods Arts Center. Brad performs there with special guests Taylor Swift, Jack Ingram, and Kellie Pickler (of American Idol fame) as part of the “Bonfires and Amplifiers” tour. July 27 at 7:30 p.m. $52.50 reserved, $30 lawn.
A House Afire
This month, the Powerhouse Theater more than lives up to its name, offering an explosive lineup of musical and theatrical talent. First up is Geometry of Fire, a new drama set against the backdrop of the Iraqi war by Emmy-nominated playwright Stephen Belber. Logan Marshall-Green (former star of The O.C.) plays a returning soldier who crosses paths with a Saudi-American man grieving the loss of his father (June 27-July 8, 8 p.m., weekend matinees at 2 p.m., $30-$35). Next up: The Boy Who Heard Music, the newest rock opera by legendary Who guitarist Pete Townsend. The work, based on the rocker’s semiautobiographical novella of the same name, is presented as a concert reading, with partial production values (July 13-14 at 8 p.m., $25). Topping off the schedule is Romantic Poetry: A Musical Play, a new musical by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley that’s being called “a soaring love song to impossible romance.” The play features music by Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger. (July 19-29 at 8 p.m., weekend matinees at 2 p.m. $30, $35).
The Bard at Boscobel
If it’s true, as Shakespeare said, that “All the world’s a stage,” then one of the more spectacular venues must be the riverside theater at Boscobel, home of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. This year, the festival presents two of the Bard’s best: the romantic comedy As You Like It (June 20-Sept. 2), directed by Kurt Rhoads, and the gripping historical drama Richard III (June 12-Aug. 18), directed by Terrence O’Brien. The comedy, complete with disguised identities, gender reversals and delightfully tangled love stories, provides a light-hearted contrast to the saga of the murderous, hunchbacked king. Come early and picnic by the banks of the Hudson, a stone’s throw from the gorgeous historic mansion. Call for exact schedule and ticket information. Boscobel Restoration. 1601 Rte. 9D, Garrison. 845-265-9575 or www.hvshakespeare.org
Opera, dance, drama and so much more — Bard SummerScape offers myriad ways to escape the dog days of summer. The festival kicks off with a world premiere performance by Doug Varone and Dancers. Bard’s Fisher Center commissioned Varone to choreograph the untitled work, which is based on the music of Edward Elgar (July 5-8, $20-$50; call for info on opening night gala). Then there’s George Bernard Shaw’s masterful drama, Saint Joan, the story of a young French woman who rallies an army, burns as a heretic, and achieves immortality as a Catholic saint. Gregory Thompson, the head of Glasgow’s acclaimed Tron Theatre, directs (July 12-15 and 19-22, $45). And opera buffs won’t want to miss A Florentine Tragedy and The Dwarf, two one-act operas by Alexander von Zemlinsky, both inspired by the writings of Oscar Wilde. Olivier Tambosi, founder of the Neue Oper Wien, directs (July 27, 29 and Aug. 2, 4-5; $35-$85). Call for exact times and tickets, as well as schedule information on other events.
School’s out, Culture’s in
The SUNY New Paltz campus may be relatively empty of students during the summer, but its cultural calendar is as busy as ever. The college’s Samuel Dorsky Museum, for example, is celebrating the artistic legacy of the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony, founded in Woodstock in 1902. A Designed Life: The Arts and Crafts of Byrdcliffe features paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, furniture and ceramics created by the folks who helped give Woodstock its artsy image (through Dec. 9). Are you partial to pianos? Then head on over to PianoSummer at New Paltz (July 14-Aug. 3), where the musical treats include a recital by virtuoso Russian pianist Valery Kuleshov (July 21 at 8 p.m., $27); a recital by Hyung-Min Suh, the 2006 winner of the Jacob Flier Piano Competition (July 18 at 7:30 p.m., $10), and a concert by PianoSummer faculty members (and acclaimed artists) Susan Starr and Robert Hamilton (July 28 at 8 p.m., $27). SUNY New Paltz.
, New Paltz. Art exhibit info: 845-257-3844 or www.newpaltz.edu/museum. PianoSummer info: 845-257-3880 or www.newpaltz.edu/piano