Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

Take a load off, Annie. Take a load for free … Mavis Staples sets the room singing on a February night. The outside temperature is in the single digits, and 500 people are joining in the chorus.

She is a gospel singer with a deep and powerful range, a Blues and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famerand Grammy Award-winner — she has marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and performed at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center brings music to the Berkshires year-round, and dance, film, comedy and theater as well, in a restored 1905 concert hall and cinema.

Mahaiwe is a Mohican name, the place downstream — in this case, from the Housatonic River. The theater re-opened in 2002 as part of Great Barrington’s Downtown Historic District, and they continue to offer programming with the mischief of Pilobolus (contemporary dance company) coming out for a curtain call in a fall of water and sliding across the stage.

BTW Berkshires