Jan 12

A Winsome Hot Mess: MIDSUMMER

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Midsummergraphic5inPresented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
By David Greig & Gordon MacIntyre
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Music Direction & Sound Design by David Reiffel

December 26th – January 18th, 2014
189 Winnisimmet St
Chelsea, MA
Apollinaire on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Perhaps we’ve never puked at the front door of our sister’s wedding or stolen and spent a mobster’s money on one weekend, but the effervescent play MidSummer makes us wish we had.

Because this play lacks anything resembling pretension, David Greig and Gordon MacIntyre’s well-crafted script and Daniele Fauteux Jacques’ pitch-perfect staging makes us recognize the low notes and high notes of our lives in this 95-minute yarn. There is something surprisingly universal about the story of a low-rent con artist and a desperate divorce lawyer who are thrown together for a lost weekend that enables them to find themselves, if only in the telling. Continue reading

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Jan 02

Church Class Recovery: SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM – THE MYSTERY OF THE MAGI’S GOLD

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Photo c/o Spectacle Management

Photo c/o Spectacle Management

Presented by Spectacle Management
Sister’s Christmas Catechism online
Written by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan
Directed by Marc Silvia

December 16 – 31, 2014
The Larcom Theatre
Beverly, MA
Spectacle Management on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) What is it about the simple black-and-white getup of the nun’s habit that makes its inhabitant seem so powerful? The nun has become a fixture in theatre and film because the costume demands attention. Continue reading

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Dec 08

Delightfully Off-Kilter: “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti”

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Photo by Meghan Moore.

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Book, Music and Lyrics by Barry Kleinbort
Based on a play by Jeffrey Hatcher

November 28 – December 21, 2014
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) It’s one thing to create a play that mimics the feeling of being trapped in a conversation with someone who is batty; it’s another to make such a play entertaining. As the play 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti demonstrates, the difference is all in the storytelling prowess of the off-putting character. Continue reading

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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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