Nov 07

Crossed Communications: The Sussman Variations

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by Richard Schotter
directed by Jeff Zinn
music by Phil Schroeder
Boston, MA 02215
November 1 – 18

Boston Playwright’s Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Charlie Sussman (Ken Baltin) is turning 75 and his entire family has come to celebrate with him at his Connecticut beach house to celebrate in The Sussman Variations. His son Jonathan (Steven Barkhimer) has a paper on The Tempest to write that will put his career on the world map. His daughter Janey (Erin Cole) has a big secret to share with the family and is afraid that they won’t share her happiness. Deirdre (Laura Latreille) needs to practice for her international tour and attempts to keep the peace. Granddaughter Miranda (Lauren Thomas) is on house arrest until she writes her college essay. Margery (Cheryl McMahon), Charlie’s wife, wants to throw a party that will reunite the family despite their differences. Each family member suffers under the weight of familial expectations, frustrated with the conflict of whom they are and whom they supposed they should be. Continue reading

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Nov 06

The Drowsy Chaperone: Breezy Surface, Deeper Meaning

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Photo credit: Curtain Call Theatre; L to R, Melinda Edge as Janet, Lance Wesley as Robert, and Sharon Petti as The Drowsy Chaperone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.

directed by Martha Sawyer
musical direction by Meri-Lee Mafera
choreography by Jennifer Walsh

presented by Curtain Call Theatre
182 Commercial Street, Braintree MA.
November 2 -10

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Braintree) The Drowsy Chaperone pulls a neat trick. In order to treat its audience to an old- fashioned musical comedy in a jaded age, it bookends the story with the alternately joyous and grim analysis of a musical fan. Richard Carey plays the asocial, contemporary fan in question, obsessed with the non-existent 1928 play of the title. His interest in the sunny musical and his running commentary turns the show-within a-show into a meditation on how a lonely man deals with sadness. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Technicolor Gangsters: GUYS AND DOLLS

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Photo by Paul Lyden

presented by North Shore Music Theatre

Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Based on “The Idyll of Sarah Brown” and characters by Damon Runyon
Directed by Mark Martino
Choreographed by Michael Lichtefeld

Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International www.mtishows.com

North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, Ma
October 30th – November 11th, 2012

North Shore Music Theatre Facebook Page
October 30th – November 11th, 2012

(Beverly) It’s easy to know from the opening sequence whether a production of the musical Guys and Dolls is going to hit on all cylinders or fall flat. The intro and music is supposed to paint a picture of the vibrant and surprisingly ordered chaos of New York City in the roaring 20’s, or at least the New York City that ferments in the imagination of the show’s authors, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. It’s a metropolis awash with crime, as an apple is filched from a vendor and a pocket gets picked within the first two minutes of stage time, but it’s genial and high-energy crime, so much so that even cops simply shake their heads at the crooks’ peccadillos. Continue reading

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Nov 03

Overall A Charming Opera:The Barber of Seville

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Photo credit: Longwood Opera; a touching moment on the balcony.

by Giacomo Rossini
Jeffrey Brody – musical director, J. Scott Brumit – stage director

presented by Longwood Opera

Fully staged, in English
Christ Episcopal Church
1132 Highland Ave.
Needham, MA
Friday, November 2, 8 PM and Sunday, November 4, 2:30 PM

Longwood Opera Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Needham)The Barber of Seville was made famous in popular culture by the Bugs Bunny cartoon, “The Rabbit of Seville,” in which Bugs violently shaves a reluctant Elmer Fudd. The beautiful music by Giacomo Rossini could charm the pants off of anyone with ears. It is the timeless warmth and wit of Rossini’s opera that would bring you to watch Longwood Opera’s production of Barber but it is the individual performances of the cast that would keep you in your seat.   Continue reading

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Nov 03

Trapped by the Words: THE CHOSEN

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Photo by Timothy Dunn

Adapted by Aaron Posner & Chaim Potok
Directed by Daniel Gidron

presented by The Lyric Stage Company
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA
October 19th – November 17th, 2012

Lyric Stage Company Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) Adapting a novel to the stage can be a wrenching exercise. Pages upon pages of description, of scene, of setting, of theme must be boiled down to dialogue and action that can stand alone. By all accounts, Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen is considered a richly-layered and well-written story about the tension between Jewish communities, as told through the friendship of two young men who find themselves caught between the secular and religious communities at the dawn of Zionism. Unfortunately, he and co-writer Aaron Posner fail to adapt the novel to a script form, leaving in a narrator who breaks up the scenes and explains away the heartfelt tension between the characters, leaving us with a broken dialogue that tells an incomplete tale about the weight one must bear when one is called to carry the load of doing good. Continue reading

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Oct 30

Superfluous Songs, Sweet Spirit: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

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Photo credit: Gary Ng; A History of PEI.

Script adapted by Don Harron
Score by Norman Campbell
Directed by Jane Staab

presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA
October 19th – November 18th, 2012
Wheelock Family Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

The Anne of Green Gables franchise is prone to schmaltz. Any literary series that is adored by pre-teen girls, misty-eyed elderly women and Japanese soap opera anime fans can’t help but spin off some over-the-top theater. Few productions can find that young-at-heart sweet spot captured so perfectly by the series’ original creator L.M Montgomery. Anne, the orphan girl who shakes up Prince Edward
Island with her sentimental and vibrant perspective, is the tragic optimist in all of us. Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of the musical Anne of Green Gables largely succeeds in capturing the sweet spirit of the original tale with a strong cast that commits to looking at the world through the unjaded prism of youth. Continue reading

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Oct 30

Separating the Political from the Familial: NOW OR LATER

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Photo: Paul Marotta; with Tom Nelis and Grant MacDermott.

by Christopher Shinn
directed by Michael Wilson

presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
South Boston
October 12 – November 10
Huntington Theatre Company Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(South Boston) John, Jr. (Grant MacDermott) is a college student who has pissed off the Muslim Student Association of his University in the name of free speech. He was incredibly insensitive at a privately hosted but publicly monitored “naked’ party thrown by a fellow college student. He firmly believes that he is entitled to behave in an offensive manner because he is an American citizen. Unlike many kids in his situation, he cannot just let his act of emotional terrorism blow over; he is the son of Presidential nominee John, Sr. (Tom Nelis). Amidst the tumult of election night, Jr. comes to the slow realization that his action affects more than just his immediate circle of friends and family. It has the potential to affect the entire nation. Continue reading

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Oct 30

Free-Flowing Fluids in “GoreFest X: 28 Days Latte”

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Photo Credit: Ryan Kelly Coil; Nothing like a mid-morning snack.

presented by ImprovBoston

Writer/Lyricist/Director: Don Schuerman
Composer/Music Direction: Steve Gilbane
Choreography by Sejal Patel

ImprovBoston
40 Prospect St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
October 24 – 31, 8pm and 10pm shows
ImprovBoston Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) ImprovBoston’s 28 Days Latte begins with a toilet-cleaning scene that will stir unpleasant memories in most people who have seen the dark side of the food service industry. Brandishing a plunger, Brendan Mulhern makes sure to let the audience know what sort of splattering they’re in for. Even before a zombie plague hits the dwellers of the Cambridge coffee shop, GoreFest X lives up to its name with audience-splashing internal fluids.

Watching the improv musical come together is an impressive feat, but ImprovBoston has had a great deal of practice marrying songs to blood-soaked jokes. The 10th Annual Halloween Horrorshow knows just the formula to layer the scatological humor for the broadest laughs. Depicting disemboweled homeless and the awkwardness of end of the world sex, 28 Days Latte revels in its tastelessness and hopes the audience is there for the mindlessly juvenile ride. It does just what it says on the tin.

Beyond “zombie apocalypse,” the show doesn’t have much in the way of plot. This is fine. ImprovBoston veterans like Patrick French, Megan Golermann, Alex LeBaron, Ben Scurria, Kara Gelormini, and Julie Devito are given plenty of breathing room to bounce off one another. Together, they build scenes that reference all facets of nerd horror culture, from the Manic Pixie Dream Girl charm of Zooey Deschanel to the almost comically grim comics of Frank Miller. The show isn’t particularly tight but the jokes
are.

As I watched, fake blood drying on my temple, I didn’t compare it to the zombie-virus episode of the television show, Community, or the hit film, Shaun of the Dead (2004). Zombies have been hot for more than a few years at this point. Instead, I thought of last year’s performance, GoreFest 9: MASSacre General Hospital, similar in packaging to 28 Days Latte but more tragic in tone. With a clinic as its backdrop, it was a looser, gloomier yarn. The stakes are high in both shows, though, even if 28 Days Latte is flippant in tone despite (or because of) the end of the world. If you feel your holiday is lacking in pretend fluids, I suggest grabbing a raincoat and seeing ImprovBoston’s Halloween offering before this year’s GoreFest is complete.

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Oct 29

Entertaining and Well-Done Whining: UNCLE VANYA

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Photo credit: Apollinaire Theatre Company

by Anton Chekhov
directed by Daniella Fauteux Jacques
presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company

Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet Street
Chelsea, MA
October 10th – November 4th
Apollinaire Theatre Company Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Chelsea) I believe I once read that the sitcom Seinfeld didn’t last more than a season in Russia. Now I know why. Russia already had its Seinfeld; his name was Anton Chekhov, who writes brilliantly about all light and no heat. If you would like to chuckle and grimace about the painful foibles and imagined slights of the human condition, then you should catch the Apollinaire Theatre Company’s imaginative and spirited production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. But be warned, their lives might look painfully similar to your most dysfunctional family Thanksgivings. Continue reading

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Oct 26

More than a Handful of Clever: A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE

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Photo credit: Theatre on Fire

by Martin McDonagh
Directed by Darren Evans

presented by Theatre on Fire
Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, MA
October 12 – October 27th, 2012
Theatre on Fire Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Charlestown) Successful comedy and drama scripts employ a slightly sadistic withhold-and-give strategy with audiences. Comedy or tension must be built and dissipated and built again. There must be some normalcy to lead us on to the surprise. Think of the easygoing date that occurs before the heroin overdose in the movie Pulp Fiction. Two couples are out on a date making small talk. We know it will end up weird because the movie already has been very weird, but the date is downright boring, and the usually witty dialogue is purposely pedestrian. The payoff comes just a few minutes later with a group of strangers trying to decide what to do with a mob boss’s wife as she is overdosing. Continue reading

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