Nov 17

Bloomingdale’s Empowerment: MENOPAUSE: THE MUSICAL

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Image courtesy of the Menopause Facebook Page. Apologies to the cast and staff. Photo link was not working properly.

Presented by Spectacle Management
Created by Jeanie Linders
Produced by GFour Productions

The Larcom Theatre
Beverly, MA
November 12th-16th, 2014
Spectacle Management on Facebook
Menopause: the Musical on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) Sometimes, it is impossible to decide the value of a show until you can decide on its politics. Menopause: the Musical, playing at the Larcom Theatre, is giddy and infectious, to be sure, but does its very existence set back women’s rights by a few decades? This is the question the theatergoer must ask as his or her foot starts tapping to the fun on stage. Continue reading

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Nov 10

Less is Indeed More: LES MISERABLES

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Photo by Paul Lyden

Photo by Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo; Original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel; Additional text by James Fenton
Directed and Choreographed by Marc Robin
Music directed by Andrew Bryan

October 28th – November 16th, 2014
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) For a Les Mis hater, I sure have seen the show enough times. I usually go in with a cloud hanging over my head. There is something about the show that rubs me the wrong way with its overwrought attitude, even as it brings me to tears each time I see it. To make matters worse, the play lends itself to overacting; heck, it practically demands it. Bad acting abounds on the street of Paris. Continue reading

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Nov 10

Floating Above the Fray: ETHER DOME

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Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Elizabeth Egloff
Directed by Michael Wilson

Oct. 17 – Nov. 23rd
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) The biopic or docudrama is a mainstay of the flatscreen and the silver screen, but it doesn’t get nearly as much play on stage. In theory, it should, as these types of stories appeal to those who want to learn something while they are being entertained, and that would seem to include the well-educated who can afford to go to the theatre on a regular basis. But even Shakespeare’s straight-up docudramas, the Henrys and such, don’t do as much business as Romeo and Juliet or Much Ado About Nothing. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Words vs. Action: DUSK RINGS A BELL

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Pictured Todd Lawson and D'Arcy Dersham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Pictured Todd Lawson and D’Arcy Dersham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Stephen Belber
Directed by Michael Bloom

Oct. 23 – Nov. 16th, 2014
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Trigger warning: Contains Adult Language

(Lowell, MA) Which watershed moments in our lives define us, the ones where we rise above our fears or the ones where we give in to our basest nature? That’s the central question of the beautiful and flawed production of Dusk Rings a Bell, playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Continue reading

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Oct 14

Jigsaw Transcendence: “Angels in America – Perestroika”

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Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Presented by Umbrella Arts
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis

The Umbrella
Concord, MA
October 3 – October 18, 2014
Umbrella Arts on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Concord, MA) In 100 years, Tony Kushner’s sprawling masterpiece of Angels in America might be studied by school-kids, much like the Odyssey. That might be the right setting, providing a full semester to fully take in this script. Kushner asks us to follow along as he pinballs between real and surreal, politics and religion, gay culture and religion. Each well-developed scene feels like a glistening jewel of a short story, complete in pacing and characters, but it can be very hard to understand how these pieces come together into one cohesive story. If you’re watching the play for the first time, it can feel like reading a New Yorker magazine from cover to cover in one sitting. Continue reading

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Oct 14

Earnest and Flawed: BENT

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This tragic yet beautiful photo was found on the Zeitgeist Facebook page. No photo credit was found.

This tragic yet beautiful photo was found on the Zeitgeist Facebook page. No photo credit was found.

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
By Martin Sherman
Directed by David Miller

Boston Center for the Arts
September 19th – October 11th, 2014
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) Terror comes when you slowly realize that you have run out of ways to escape a horrible situation. It can first comes in drips, and then all at once. Homosexuals in Nazi Germany first lived on the knife’s edge in a non-sanctioned world of winks and nods. In the play Bent, they succumb to terror in one fell swoop, but then realize that perhaps the most terrifying thing of all is when one can’t find the bottom of a nightmare. Then, all that one can do is accept what is happening and find ways to regain shreds of dignity. Continue reading

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Oct 07

Murder, We Hope: “Chicago”

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Heather Parcells (Roxie) and Bahiyah Hibah (Velma). Photo © Paul Lyden

Heather Parcells (Roxie) and Bahiyah Hibah (Velma). Photo © Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Directed and choreographed by Nick Kenkal

Beverly, MA
September 23rd – October 5th, 2014
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) At one point after a showstopping number during the North Shore Music Theatre’s production of Chicago, actor Sean McDermott (Billy Flynn) was clearly out of breath. He had a lot of company in the audience, as this production succeeds in leaving an audience breathless. 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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Jul 15

Go Big or Go Home: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

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The Cast. Photo found on It’s A Fiasco Facebook page.

It’s a Fiasco Theatre Company
by William Shakespeare
Sponsored by the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Council – presented under the auspices of the Actors’ Equity Association Member’s Project Code.

June 19 – 29, 2014
Longfellow Park, 175 Mt. Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA
It’s A Fiasco on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Think for a moment of the conditions under which Shakespeare was performed in the Elizabethan era and you realize this play was never meant to be locked away in an ivory tower. At the time the words of these plays were fresh, so was the concept of public sanitation. Most of the population was illiterate, and probably a good amount of them shared their skin with some form of vermin. Even in the hallowed halls of royal theater, the patrons probably stank to high heaven and air conditioning was a couple of centuries from being invented. So if at first glance it seems incongruous to speak some of the English language’s best poetry next to a Cambridge water park, it might be best to remember this probably would have been considered a pretty gentile staging grounds back in the day. Continue reading

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Jul 15

A Sinking Feeling: DISNEY’S A LITTLE MERMAID

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Adrienne Eller as Ariel in North Shore Music Theatre's Production of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID running July 8 - 27, 2014. Photo©Paul Lyden

Adrienne Eller as Ariel in North Shore Music Theatre’s Production of Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID running July 8 – 27, 2014. Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Book by Doug Wright
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen Story and the Disney Film produced by Howard Ashman & John Musker and written & directed by John Musker and Ron Clements
Direction by Michael Heitzman
Music directed by Bruce Barnes
Choreography by AC Ciulla

July 8th – July 27th, 2014
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly) Whenever you are suspending disbelief, there are rules that must be followed to create a new reality. It doesn’t matter if you are writing Game of Thrones or playing make-believe with a 2-year-old, the ground rules, once established, have to be enforced or the whole thing falls apart.

That is perhaps the main reason why the musical version of Disney’s A Little Mermaid, playing at the North Shore Music Theatre, couldn’t hook either me or for my 8-year-old daughter. This show is largely aquatic, but director Michael Heitzman fails to create a sea for our imagination. Sometimes, the merpeople and fish hobble awkwardly in tight fin-like gear; other times, they use the same wires and pulleys to occupy the same air as the seagull. Merpeople aren’t allowed on land, until they are at the end of the play. Too often, they crossed the streams. Continue reading

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