Sep 19

Pretty to Watch, Messy to Contemplate: FAR FROM HEAVEN

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Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo. Look at those costumes!

Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co.
Book by Richard Greenberg
Music by Scott Frankel
Lyrics by Michael Korie
Based on the Focus Features/Vulcan Production Motion Picture, Written & Directed by Todd Haynes

Directed by Scott Edmiston
Musical Direction by Steven Bergman
Choreography by David Connolly

Sept. 12 – Oct. 11, 2014
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) In 1957, Betty Friedan conducted a survey of Smith College graduates to celebrate their 15th anniversary. When she discovered that many of her contemporaries were deeply unhappy, she expanded her research to include other US suburban housewives. She continued her research into psychology and other social sciences. Her studies found a “problem that has no name,” a depression among women despite their ensured physical and emotional comforts. A life revolving around marriage and children was deeply unfulfilling.

This study and her corresponding writings were the basis for The Feminine Mystique, a book that sparked the second-wave of feminism. Published in 1963, it has played an influential part in assuring a modern woman’s right to equality. Women who work outside of the home owe a large part of their freedoms to Friedan and the women who worked with her. Friedan began her survey the same year that Far From Heaven begins. Continue reading

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Sep 16

All Cucumbers and Hooves: UNDER MILK WOOD

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Photo courtesy of Artsboston; a picture of the cast at the reading with Mr. Scanlan in the front.

Photo courtesy of Artsboston; photo was grabbed from the Poet’s Theatre FB page.  A picture of the cast at the reading with Mr. Scanlan in the front.

A celebration in honor of the revival of The Poet’s Theatre and the centennial of the Author’s birth.

Presented by The Poet’s Theatre
By Dylan Thomas
Directed by Bob Scanlan

Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall
Harvard University
Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 @ 7pm ONLY
Poet’s Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“…the idea that I write a piece, a play, an impression for voices, an entertainment out of the town I live in, and to write it simply and warmly and comically, with lots of movement and varieties of moods, so that, at many levels, through sight and speech, description and dialogue, evocation and parody, you come to know the town as an inhabitant of it.”
– Dylan Thomas – Collected Letters edited by Paul Ferris (London: Dent, 2000 (new edition)

(Cambridge, MA) Under Milk Wood is a radio drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. It was performed on the stage during Thomas’ lifetime (and by Thomas himself). It became a movie directed by Andrew Sinclair, and featured Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O’Toole, in 1972. For his centennial, the BBC has a site devoted to a recent film production of Under Milk Wood. All of this is mentioned because not nearly enough Americans have an appreciation for Thomas’ work –  aside from his famous poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” His work is elegant, romantic, and, best yet, free to read on the internet or in a library. It is a worthwhile, mind-expanding endeavor to read as much of his collected works. If not for your own sake, then to woo a paramour or two. Continue reading

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Sep 12

Children Will Listen and Learn: GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER

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Photo: Paul Marotta; Meredith Forlenza and Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Photo: Paul Marotta; Meredith Forlenza and Malcolm-Jamal Warner – they make a stupidly beautiful couple.

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co
By Todd Kreidler
Based on the screenplay by William Rose
Directed by David Esbjornson

Sept. 5 – Oct. 5, 2014
BU Theatre
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) There are certain conservative republicans that like to argue that racism is finally dead. They are deeply incorrect. It’s 2014 and racism is thriving in the United States of America. It affects everyone and everything. To get into the nitty gritty, please see this Wikipedia article which is currently very good. Who knows how long the populace will let it stay that way.

Racism is so prevalent in everyday culture that bigotry tainted events occur and most people can’t even see it. Take for instance, the couple sitting in front of me last night at the Huntington theatre that was patiently waiting for the show to start. An usher asked to see their tickets as there seemed to be some seat mix up with a couple in the aisle. The usher had intended to interrogate the seated couple and move them… until the standing couple pointed out that the usher was attempting to seat them in the incorrect row. The usher responded, “my bad,” and moved the couple to their seats. The seated couple was Black. The usher and the standing couple were White. The appropriated idiom circa 2004 was horrifying. Continue reading

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Sep 09

It Might as Well Be 1963: “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline”

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Presented by the Peterborough Players
A musical about the legendary country singer by Dean Regan
Directed by Tom Frey
Music directed by Ellen Mandel

Sept. 3 – 14, 2014
55 Hadley Road
Peterborough, NH 03458
Peterborough Players on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger Warnings – vintage racism

(Peterborough, NH) The musical’s title, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline references her cover of the gospel song and last single, “Just A Closer Walk with Thee.” Just as Cline sings about her desire to walk with God, this musical expresses Dean Regan’s wish for just one more concert communion with Cline. To those who worship at the church of song, A Closer Walk was a spiritual experience of the musical variety. Bridget Beirne is so good in the title role that audiences might have gotten their wish. Continue reading

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Sep 08

“Sweeney Todd” Delights in Dire Tragedy

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Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo by Mark S. Howard. Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper.

Presented by the Lyric Stage of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed & Staged by Spiro Veloudos
Music Director, Jonathan Goldberg

Sept. 5 – Oct. 11, 2014
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
Lyric on Facebook

Review Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In today’s entertainment landscape, probably the most surprising thing about The Lyric Stage’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is how un-sexy it makes murder. No, grisly death probably shouldn’t be attractive as a rule, but television shows like Hannibal and Dexter and even some thriller novels give serial killers a stylized warmth. Blood is splashed artfully over plastic tarps and cannibalized flesh is prepared with exquisite attention to detail for unsuspecting dinner guests. Stephen Sondheim’s infamous musical gives us only Sweeney Todd’s icy vengeance, spinning more out of control with every throat he slits in his barber’s chair, and Mrs. Lovett’s questionable baking skills. Continue reading

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Aug 29

Thunder, Lightening, and Rain: MACBETH

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Credit: Brown Box Theatre Project

Credit: Brown Box Theatre Project

A play by William Shakespeare
Directed by Kyle Taustin
Presented by Brown Box Theatre Project

August 22 – 31, 2014
Various outdoor venues around Boston

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Around Boston) Look, you just can’t beat free outdoor Shakespeare. A picnic basket, a good friend or two, and the immortal words of the sweet swan of Avon resounding amidst mother nature’s glory is just where it’s at, folks. It’s particularly poetic to see Macbeth, a play about the slow descent into the darker parts of man, performed under deepening darkness. Continue reading

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Aug 29

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back: PYGMALION

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Photo credit: Flat Earth Theatre

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By George Bernard Shaw
Edited/directed by Devon Jones

August 22-30, 2014
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: Sexism, Racism, Classism

(Watertown, MA) My Fair Lady is derived from Shaw’s Pygmalion. Pygmalion is derived from the Greek myth by the same name from Ovid’s Metamorphosis. It is the story of a sculptor, Pygmalion, who fell so hard in love with his sculpture that the goddess Aphrodite brought it to life. The sculpture isn’t given a name or granted personhood in the myth. Similarly, affluent Henry Higgins refuses to see impoverished Eliza Doolittle as more than a parroting animal until she provokes him into heated arguments. In addition to sexism and classism, the play’s dialogue also discusses racism. Flat Earth’s production includes actors of color. It takes a long, hard look at what it means to experience color, gender and educational privilege against the backdrop of London’s great equalizer: Tube delays. Continue reading

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Aug 26

Sweet and Playful Ladies: LITTLE WOMEN

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Presented by Peterborough Players: Second Company
Adapted by Gus Kaikkonen
from the novel by Louisa May Alcott
Directed by Charlie Morgan
Compositions by/adapted by Ellen Mandel

August 23, 26, 29, 30 at 2pm; August 25 at 7pm
55 Hadley Road
Peterborough, NH 03458
Peterborough Players on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Peterborough, NH) The adaptation of Little Women by Gus Kaikkonen for Peterborough’s summer stock is sweet and playful without being saccharine. Kaikkonen has concentrated the lengthy classic by Louisa May Alcott into five charming scenes. This play gives us the same adventures of the March family within a toddler-approved time frame of 90 minutes. The acting is strong from the Players’ Second Company. There is lovely entr’acte music by Ellen Mandel. Little Women is a healthy summer diversion in the forests of New Hampshire. Continue reading

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Aug 25

Banish John Falstaff: Henry the 4th

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Presented by Theater@First
A New Adaption of William Shakespeare’s Histories
Directed by Shelley MacAskill

August 21st – 30th
Unity Somerville
6 William Street, Somerville
Theatre@First on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville) Shakespeare’s histories can be problematic to bring to the stage. In these plays, the usual issues of Shakespearean verse and thick language are compounded with cinematic scope, characters sometimes too big to be readily believable, and all kinds of crazy epic battle scenes. Compounding two histories into one doubles the trouble. Henry the 4th is a conflation of the two parts of Henry IV relying mostly upon part 1 with some of the more salient and dramatic moments of part 2 tacked onto the play’s end. Continue reading

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Aug 18

Needs Oil, But Still Burns Rubber: GREASE

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Photo © Paul Lyden

Photo © Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book, music, lyrics by Warren Casey & Jim Jacobs
Directed by Mark Martino
Music directed by Craig Barna
Choreographed by Mark Stuart

August 12th – August 24th, 2014
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) The backstory behind the script for the musical “Grease” is that writers Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey locked themselves away to write a bunch of 50’s era songs, and then tried to piece together a plot to fit the songs together. This sounds like a recipe for a disaster of a script, and for a long time I personally thought the plot flimsy and vacant. Continue reading

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