Berkshires theater will develop musicals

The little theater company in the Berkshires that nurtured “The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee” is positioning itself to be a new home for developing musicals.

Barrington Stage Company, which is relocating its mainstage shows to a newly renovated theater in Pittsfield, Mass., is launching the BSC Musical Theater Lab under the curatorial eye of “Spelling Bee” composer William Finn.

Lab will be working in association with the NYU Graduate Musical Theater Writing program, headed by Sarah Schlesinger.

Centerpiece of the first summer’s events will be three workshops — two featuring original narrative musicals and the third a song cycle. There will also be four or five staged readings of tuners.

“The Burnt Part Boys” (June 21-July 9) features a book by Mariana Elder, music by Chris Miller and lyrics by Nathan Tysen, all from NYU, where Finn teaches a master class in songwriting. Show, which centers on six teens struggling to come to terms with the loss of their father in a devastating mine accident, is helmed by Joe Calcarco.

The creators of this season’s Off Broadway hit “Grey Gardens” — composer Scott Frankel and book writer and lyricist Michael Korie — will present “Meet Mister Future” (July 20-30). Staged by Christopher Ashley, it takes place during the 1939 World’s Fair.

Third workshop will be a song cycle, “Dogs That Wear Hats” (Aug. 17-27), by composer Michael Shaieb and lyricist Stephen Tomac, both from NYU. “It’s about finding your place in the world,” Finn said.

Season will end with “Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists You Probably Don’t Know But Should,” Sept. 1-2. The collection of songs from various artists will be narrated by Finn and helmed by Dana Harrel.

The events for the Lab, a three-year program at BSC, will take place at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.

“What I’m really trying to do is to make Pittsfield the center of the musical writing world,” Finn said.

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