If It’s the Berkshires, This Must Be the ’60s

If you wax nostalgic for the 1960s and can’t wait for those vibes to return, you’re not alone. This summer, Brandeis thespians traveled west to revisit the age of Aquarius with the noted Berkshire Theatre Festival. The trip back in time began June 28 with “Moonchildren,” a gripping 1971 play by Michael Weller ’65 about coming of age in those turbulent times. The production, staged at the Unicorn Theater in Stockbridge, Mass., included performances by Samantha Richert, M.F.A.’11, and Jesse Hinson, M.F.A.’11, who both attained coveted membership in the Actors’ Equity Association for their roles in the show. Aaron Costa Ganis ’06 (already an Equity member) also appeared onstage, while Jay Hagenbuckle, M.F.A.’08, participated as sound designer.

In another bow to the 1960s, the festival offered a new version of “Tommy” directed by Brandeis faculty member Eric Hill, who holds the Louis, Frances and Jeffrey Sachar Chair in Creative Arts. Known as the first rock opera, “Tommy” features music and lyrics by Pete Townshend of the English rock band the Who. Since its release in 1969, “Tommy” has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, achieving a berth in the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant value.” Its July 7 –16 run at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, Mass., featured Ben Rosenblatt, M.F.A.’11, who also earned his Equity card with this production, and sound design was by Hagenbuckle.

Reaching back beyond the ’60s to the days of the Brothers Grimm, Hill also directed an edgy adaptation of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” scheduled for July 18–30 on a new outdoor stage constructed at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, Mass. The family classic showcases the work of Brandeis-trained designers, with Chesapeake Westveer, M.F.A.’10, on scenery, Benjamin Williams, M.F.A.’11, on lighting, and Hagenbuckle on sound.