Jun 10

Wistful, Warm and Inconclusive: SELECTED SHORTS ON TOUR: SPRINGTIME, SEX & BASEBALL

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A National Public Radio Production
Hosted by the Huntington Theatre Company

Avenue of the Arts
BU Theatre
June 8th, 2013
Huntington Theatre Co Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Short review: It was great.  You missed it.  Support your public radio.

(Boston) Kidding, kidding, but really what else is there to say?  Take four well-crafted short stories of love, baseball and awkwardness, mix in three superb actors and stir.  Watching the touring production of Selected Shorts is a powerful reminder that we are creatures of narrative.  Whole societies are shaped by storytelling, be it a creation myth or an endearing belief of what a well-regulated militia looks like.  People die for stories, people become president by telling stories.  Without stories we might as well climb back up into the trees (unless you believe in the Christian creation story….see?). Continue reading

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Jan 07

A Parental Nightmare or Fantasy: MEMORY HOUSE

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***With Apologies to Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the cast of Memory House, this review was intended to be published during the October/November run****

Susan Pellegrino and Rebecca Blumhagen. Photo by Meghan Moore

Susan Pellegrino and Rebecca Blumhagen. Photo by Meghan Moore; snuggles.

by Kathleen Tolan
Directed by Melia Bensussen

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, Massachusetts 01852
October 25th – November 18th, 2012

Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) Family dramas on stage and screen are filled with “explanation” moments, when a parent is called out by a now-grown child to explain the who, what and where, when, how and why of family history.  The explanation moment can be a blessing or a curse, as it hits home for parents just how much they’ve screwed up their children’s lives while also giving them the chance to make their cases before the court.  This theatrical device can be used sloppily for Lifetime dramas or effectively for Oscar-bait movies. Continue reading

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Jan 06

Breathtaking Chutzpah: PIPPIN

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Photo: Michael Lutch; a tender balancing act.

Photo: Michael Lutch; a tender balancing act.

book Roger O. Hirson
music and lyrics Stephen Schwartz
directed by Diane Paulus
circus creation Gypsy Snider of Les 7 Doigts de la Main
choreography by Chet Walker in the style of Bob Fosse

presented by American Repertory Theatre
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
December 5, 2012 to January 20, 2013
ART Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge) This Cirque du Soleil meets Fosse production of “Pippin” tells the tale of the Everyman, a youthful personification of any adult tentatively beginning the journey toward self-knowledge. Our young hero seeks the meaning of life in all the wrong places: violence, sex, politics, and other follies of inexperience. What the audience soon realizes is that Pippin, son of Charlemagne (the Emperor who not only made Christianity famous but mandatory), for all his proclamations, isn’t special. He is on the same journey that all young adults travel in their search for self – plus or minus some fantastical hardships and an orgy or two. What our hero discovers on this epic ego-trip is that, after he finds and secures a lasting relationship with meaning, he doesn’t know what to do with it. Continue reading

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Dec 31

Embracing the Flaws: TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

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Stratton McCrady Photography; the cast getting funky with Shakespeare.

Stratton McCrady Photography; the cast getting funky with Shakespeare.

presented by Actors Shakespeare Project

Davis Square Theatre
255 Elm Street,
Somerville, MA
December 12th, 2012 – January 6th, 2012
Actors Shakespeare Project Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville) Because Shakespeare has become the standard by which Western theatre is judged, we often forget that the man first had to feel his way in the dark, just like every other art school wannabe.  Two Gentlemen of Verona, believed by some to be the Bard’s first play, shows frustrating snatches of his future brilliance.  All his trademark comedic pieces are there (cross-dressing women, inconstant lovers and the amazing power of the wilderness to right all wrongs), but this script reads like the man was working on deadline.  Themes are picked up and discarded, wordplay only sporadically catches fire and a plot point in the final act makes you want to bang Shakespeare’s head against the floorboards and scream, “Rewrite!” Continue reading

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Dec 29

Bring Tissues: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

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Photo credit: Turtle Lane Playhouse; Joseph and Pharaoh getting familiar.

Photo credit: Turtle Lane Playhouse; Joseph and Pharaoh getting familiar.

by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

Presented by Turtle Lane Playhouse

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
December 7th-30th, 2012
Turtle Lane Playhouse Facebook Page
283 Melrose Street
Auburndale Ma 02466

Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Bertone
Music directed by Daniel Rodriquez

The music of Andrew Lloyd Weber has a way of wheedling its way under your skin and pulling on the most protected of heart-strings. Tim Rice’s words and lyrics are like poetry. This is true still of Turtle Lane’s production of Joseph the 2nd to last production for this Playhouse before the doors close forever. It’s a damn shame, their productions are touching and their outreach is vast. This is a community theater production with all the trappings of community theater but it is strikingly good. Those expecting it to be a different beast will be disappointed. Those anticipating a friendly night of theater will be happily surprised by the quality of the local music, dancing and costumes. Continue reading

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Dec 29

“The Worldwide Dessert Contest: Enhanced Multimedia Edition”

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Worldwide_Dessert_cover

The Worldwide Dessert Contest: Enhanced Multimedia Edition
Dan Elish
Alina Adams Media

(September 17, 2011)

Aline Adams Media presents Dan Elish’s: The Worldwide Dessert Contest: Enhanced Multimedia Edition,  an ebook with musical numbers embedded into the journey to play while you read. This multimedia fantasy novel about master dessert-concocter John Applefeller, his assistant Stanley and their friends. They learn together, with a bit of song, that with some ingenuity you can do anything you set out to do with a bit of mentoring and help from your creative friends. Continue reading

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Dec 25

A Somewhat Fun Yuletide Tradition: THE CHRISTMAS REVELS

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photo credit: The Christmas Revels

photo credit: The Christmas Revels

 

presented by Revels, Inc.

Directed by Patrick Swanson George Emlen, Music Director Sanders Theatre Cambridge, MA December 16th – 27th, 2012

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Cambridge) Christmas is perhaps the one time of the year when America adheres fiercely to tradition. Every family that celebrates Christmas has its rituals, whether it’s going to midnight mass or eating all of the red M&M’s on Christmas Eve and all of the green M&M’s on Christmas Day. The trick is to keep the rituals vibrant and alive, rather than go through the motions year after year. Continue reading

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Dec 17

Enduring Marriage: HALF N’ HALF N’ HALF

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Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

by John Kolvenbach
directed by Kyle Fabel

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
November 29th – December 23rd, 2012
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) It is frustrating to see a craftsman like playwright John Kolvenbach run rings around pedestrian writers.  His play Half n’ Half n’ Half shows that he understands how a play functions on a deep level and that he could write in any genre he chooses, from The Seagull to Lend Me a Tenor.  Kolvenbach toys with the audience in several genres with this comedy, while demonstrating his near-mastery of them all.  This is more than an exercise in play writing, however.  Throughout this script of multiple plays, Kolvenbach is able to document how a lifetime romantic commitment often drives us to need to be committed. Continue reading

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Dec 11

TCG Books: “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue”

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TCG Books, New York, 2012

Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue
Quiara Alegria Hudes
TCG
New York
2012
www.tcg.org

1 of 3 plays by Hudes, others include:
Water by the Spoonful
The Happiest Song Plays Last (forthcoming)

Hudes’ work Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue spans 3 generations of military men. Hudes weaves the experiences of her uncle and her cousin, Elliot, into the narrative of Grandpop, Pop, the hero, Elliot, and Ginny, Elliot’s mother. All four attempt to balance their civilian lives while remaining devoted to their blood and service families. Continue reading

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Dec 06

A Decadent 18th Century Treat: “The Way of the World”

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Photo credit: The Boston Conservatory

Written by William Congreve
Directed by Christopher Webb
December 4 – 7, 2012

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) For a tragically short engagement, The Boston Conservatory has decided to showcase the adultery comedy of manners, The Way of the World.  The theatrical effort revives the Restoration-era play by William Congreve (1670 – 1729) for the contemporary stage.  With everyone in powdered wigs and dimpled with fake moles, Mirabell (Marchant Davis) plots to marry the clever Mrs. Millamant (Emily Shankman) by outwitting her wealthy, mean-spirited aunt, Lady Wishfort (the delightful Jacqueline Harding, playing her role with zeal). Continue reading

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