Jun 13

The People In The Picture: Uncovering the Past

Photo: Joan Marcus

The People in the Picture, book and lyrics by Iris Rainer Dart, music by Mike Stoller and Artie Butler, Roundabout Theatre Company, Studio 54, Broadway, 4/1/11-6/19/11.  http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/broadway/thepeopleinthepicture/index.htm

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

How can we ever forget the past?  How can remember?  These questions surface for Raisel and Red  when Jenny asks her Bubbie who the people in the picture are.  They are Raisel’s friends and theatre/film company.  These people hold the key to Jenny’s heritage and must instill it within her despite her mother’s objections and grandmother’s failing health.  Although the story and score are uneven, the talent and the sentiment carry the show through joy and heartbreak.

Donna Murphy spends the majority of the show as Jenny’s Bubbie who tries to pass down her family’s history.  Ms. Murphy shows her versatility by not only providing a strong dramatic performance but also by providing comedic moments depicting Raisel’s younger days.  Raisel shows her granddaughter Jenny (played by Rachel Resheff) the life that she and her theatre/film company had.  She tries to only share positive memories, but the horrible realities underneath keep seeping through.  Raisel’s daughter Red (played by Nicole Parker) pushes for the entire truth to be known and not simply a pleasant mythology.  Ms. Murphy’s acting, singing, and dancing flow effortlessly and show the whimsy, pain, and sacrifice that make up Raisel’s life. Continue reading

Jun 02

What’s On This Week: 2 June 2011

McCaela Donovan and members of the company in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, running May 6 - June 5 at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End. Tix/Info: 617-933-8600 or www.SpeakEasyStage.com. Photo: Stratton McCrady.

Since my students are graduating this week and then I’m off to New York, here’s one more week of what’s happening around this area. When I am back, I will share my reviews of the shows I’ve seen in New York; also, I hope to have articles for you on my obsession with Next to Normal and the Opera 101 piece that I have been planning.  (unless otherwise noted (POE @trinityrep), I do not know the quality of the productions, but find something you might enjoy and go see some theatre this weekend!)

Boston     Metro Boston
Rhode Island      Connecticut
Next to Normal Tour

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May 26

What’s On This Week

Learn To Be Latina, Company One/Boston Playwrights Theatre, Maureen Adduci (Jill), Crystal Lisbon (Mary), Shawna O'Brien (Hanan),Rory Kulz (Bill)

While I am busy helping my students finish out the year, here are some listings for this week (unless otherwise noted, I do not know the quality of the productions, but find something you might  enjoy and go see some theatre this weekend!)

BOSTON (in the city):


Animal Crackers, Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA 02116

May 6-Jun 4
Tickets by Phone: 617-585-5678

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May 18

Poe’s Existentialism by Gaslight

(L To R) Resident acting company members Brian McEleney and and Phyllis Kay with Brown/Trinity Rep MFA ’12 actor Charlie Thurston as Young Edgar Poe.in the world premiere of Stephen Thorne’s The Completely Fictional – Utterly True – Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe. Set Design by Susan Zeeman Rogers, Costume Design by William Lane and Lighting Design by Keith Parham. Photo by Mark Turek.

The Completely Fictional-Utterly True-Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe by Stephen Thorne, Trinity Repertory Company, Dowling Theater, 5/6/11-6/11/11, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/ST.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Something delightfully macabre is happening at Trinity Rep.  Even Edgar Allan Poe is beside himself–literally.  Stephen Thorne spins an atmospheric tale that combines true facts, speculation, and gothic fiction in his new play The Completely Fictional-Utterly True-Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe. Trinity Rep’s world premiere entices the senses, questions reality, questions meaning, and ushers in a new form of ghost story.

Thorne’s play begins with Edgar Allan Poe in the hospital–unsure of how he got there but the attendants tell him he is dying.  Poe explores his own demise and tries to find meaning through the senses.  In the first act, he denies that he is dying and tries to discover Continue reading

May 10

PASSING STRANGE: More than ‘the real’

The cast of Passing Strange. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

 Passing Strange, book and lyrics by Stew, music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, New Repertory Theatre, The Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 5/1/11-5/22/11, http://newrep.org/passing_strange.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

New Repertory Theatre’s production of Passing Strange examines a classical theme in a post-modern construct–the quest for the meaning of life.  Like Candide and Pippin, the youth in Passing Strange leaves his familiar surroundings to find “the real” or the meaningful existence but finds only more illusion and more questions.  New Rep’s masterful presentation carries the audience along the journey, earnestly hoping the youth will find what he is looking for.

If New Repertory Theatre uses even half of the talent from Passing Strange for their fall production of Rent, they will have another hit on their hands.  The vibrant cast of Passing Strange electrifies the concert-style stage with their performances. Continue reading

May 02

Antony and Cleopatra (ASPBoston): To the mattresses

Antony & Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, The Modern Theatre at Suffolk University, 4/27/11-5/21/11.  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/season7/antony_cleo.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Photo by Stratton McCrady

Actors’ Shakespeare Project continues to bring intelligible Shakespeare to Boston.  One of Shakespeare’s most complicated plots of politics and passion, Antony and Cleopatra can leave Shakespeare neophytes confused and questioning.  This production provides a clear path for understanding and appreciation of the text.

The backdrop, designed by Jeff Adelberg, looks like a collection of mattress coils that make up a wall.  This suggestive detail reflects Antony’s decision-making processes.  Antony is caught up in his love and does not recognize the ever-present threat of his fellow triumvirate colleague, Octavius.  Octavius uses Antony’s distraction to destroy the triumvirate and become emperor of Rome. Continue reading

Apr 26

The House of Blue Leaves Taunts Us One More Time

The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare, Walter Kerr Theatre, 4/4/11-7/23/11.  http://www.houseofblueleaves.com/flash.php?version=standard.   Contains stage violence, including an explosion.

Ben Stiller as Artie, Edie Falco as Bananas, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Bunny. Photo by Joan Marcus

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Like Jay Gatsby, the characters of The House of the Blue Leaves long for love and notoriety.  But also like Jay Gatsby, their shallow dreams are based upon delusions.  David Cromer’s revival uncovers all the darkness and pain hidden in the recesses of a middle class home into the light of day with laughter and cruelty.

Scott Pask’s institution-like set provides the perfect environment for an evening of madness.  But who mad?  The housewife who feels that she is nothing more than the humiliating joke of celebrity?  The zookeeper who dreams of becoming a successful movie songwriter?  Or perhaps it’s the nuns? Continue reading

Apr 25

Eurydice: Tears From A Clown

Adam Lauver as Lord of the Underworld, Annie Winneg as Eurydice, and the chorus of stones. Photo by Rob Lorino.

Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, The Independent Drama Society, BCA Black Box, 4/22/11-4/30/11.  http://sites.google.com/site/independentdrama/

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

The circus is in town and it is a beautiful tragedy.  The Independent Drama Society’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice evokes an abstract piece of shattered but connected moments.  Remaining faithful to the myth, Lindsay Eagle allows the audience to experience every breath of innocence, knowledge, and loss that the play has to offer.

The Greek chorus of stones consists of a highly skilled clowning troupe.  Upon entrance to the theatre, the audience is greeted by the members of the chorus as they play and perform.  Each member has a distinct personality that interacts in different ways between the audience and the main characters of the play.

Annie Winneg as Eurydice and Greg Nussen as Orpheus play the doomed young lovers who believe that love is all they need.  Although they do truly care for each other, they have difficulty communicating with each other or having any level of depth to their relationship, which leads to Eurydice’s struggle between her love for her husband and her love for her father.   Continue reading

Apr 24

Steel Magnolias is a tease

L to R : Rachael Warren (Truvy), Anne Scurria (Ouiser), Madeleine Lambert (Shelby) and Janice Duclos (M'Lynn) in Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias. Directed by Brian Mertes, the show runs through May 15, 2011 in the Chace Theater. Set design by Michael McGarty, lighting design by Dan Scully, costumes by William Lane. (Photo: Mark Turek)

Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, Trinity Repertory Company, 4/15/11-5/15/11.  http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/OC.php

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Most women know if they fix their hair and get it perfect, they shouldn’t mess with it.  Unfortunately, this production has sat too long coiffing itself after it already was looking good.  The beautiful script by Robert Harling and the talented ladies of the Trinity Repertory Company get lost in gimmicks and empty space.  Perhaps, in trying to distance itself from the movie, Mertes tried to make the production “new” and “fresh”, Trinity Rep’s production of Steel Magnolias loses the intimacy that the script requires. Continue reading

Apr 19

The Book of Grace: You Can’t Go Home Again

Frances Idlebrook as Grace, Jesse Tolbert as Buddy, Steve Barkhimer as Vet

The Book of Grace by Suzan-Lori Parks, Company One, 4/15/11-5/7/11. Mature themes and language, sexual content, and stage violence. http://www.companyone.org/

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

What is the cost of forgiveness and reconciliation? What is the real threat? Company One’s production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ The Book of Grace explores these questions through an intimate scene between three connected, yet separate, individuals.

Vet, played by Steve Barkhimer, likes a rigid, controlled environment both at his job (as a border control officer) and in his home life. Grace, Continue reading