Feb 03

Disparate Pieces: THE WHIPPING MAN

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Care of the New Rep Facebook page.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
by Matthew Lopez
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

January 25th – February 16th, 2014
Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) Sometimes you can check off all the boxes for what makes an interesting play without the play adding up to great theatre.  The Whipping Man, playing at the New Repertory Theatre, has all the ingredients (interesting slice of history, family drama, a striking set, a strong cast), but they don’t create something bigger. Continue reading

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Dec 02

Charm Conquers All: CAMELOT

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Photo credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Photo credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Books and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Lowe
Original production directed and staged by Moss Heart
Based on “The Once and Future King” by TH White
Directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett
Musical direction by David McGrory
Dance Captain – Maurice Emmanuel Parent
Fight Captain – Michael J Borges

Nov. 23 – Dec. 22, 2013
Charles Mosesian Theater
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

(Watertown) The Director’s Notes by Russell Garrett are excellent. An audience member desiring nostalgic information correlating Camelot to the anniversary of JFK’s assassination will be well pleased. For this purpose, I will not dwell on the JFK’s Camelot as Mr. Garrett has already done an excellent job of doing so in the programme. If you’d like to know more, see the show.

Considering the weight that the Kennedy Family carries in the US, one might expect Camelot to be a more serious show. Lerner and Lowe’s fluffy hit does examine some heavy issues but the majority of the script and lyrics are intended to entertain rather than educate. The sugary sweet production by New Rep does not fail in its mission to cheer Baby Boomers and to indoctrinate younger generations in classic musical theatre. Continue reading

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Nov 25

Nothing is but What Is Not: “Macbeth”

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Presented by F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Joey DeMita
Original Music by Steven Bergman

November 22 – 30th, 2013
Arsenal Center for the Arts
F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Watertown) Some projects require a special touch.  There are, for instance, people who implicitly understand Musicals.  The musical form requires things that other theatre does not: an eye for choreography, an ear for music, an interest in balancing ham and legitimate acting…

Directing Shakespeare is a very specific task that requires a very specific skillset: an ear for rhetoric, an understanding of verse, a knowledge of history, an eye for embedded stage directions… F.U.D.G.E.’s Joey DeMita has none of these skills. Continue reading

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Aug 21

Flat Earth Sends “Rocket Man” to the Moon

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Photo via Flat Earth Theatre Facebook page. Awesome sauce.

presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Steven Dietz
Directed by Lindsay Eagle

August 16 – 24, 2013
Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA

Flat Earth Theatre on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown) The center of Rocket Man is the unraveling life of middle-aged divorcee, Donny (Robin Gabrielli), an unsteady center for an unassuming story.  Flat Earth Theatre has certainly taken on a tough show to pull off well.  Newly single and struggling to maintain his relationship with his teenage daughter, Trisha (Mariagrazia LaFauci), Donny is having a slow-moving breakdown.  He fights back with fantasies of traveling to space and going to another reality where time travels backward and his wife, Rita (Korinne T. Ritchey), is still with him. Continue reading

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Aug 05

It’s Only Torture if Organs Fail: “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them”

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Photo Credit: Titanic Theatre Co’s Facebook page. The company is not afraid of icebergs or snuggles.

By Christopher Durang
Directed by Adam Zahler
Presented by Titanic Theatre Company

July 25-August 10, 2013
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
Titanic Theatre Co Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

M for Mature. Actors occasionally appear in their underoos.

(Watertown) The attack on the two towers in NYC and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 changed the way the United States viewed itself forever. Before that day, many citizens viewed North America as the most powerful entity in the world. After 9/11, we recognized our vulnerability as a country. Almost everyone was looking for answers. There were many who turned to The Arts for catharsis. These same people reacted in anger when artists turned back to them for compassion. The Arts were supposed to provide answers. While coping with the same shock, we artists didn’t know what to do either.

It’s been 12 years since the attacks and the US is still divided. Our media has moved on to bigger and newer things. But our artists are still processing the events and asking questions. The media has given the American people plenty of reasons to explain why Taliban members attacked. Thank goodness for The Arts. Playwright Christopher Durang hasn’t given up on understanding the U.S.’s response to the attacks of 9/11. Rather than focus on the “badness” of Ossama Bin Laden*, Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them ponders the American people’s decade-long reaction from the perspective of western, 20/20 hindsight. He peppers his absurdist play with Dadaism and panic. The script is a sweet bouquet of human experience and dramatic flair. Continue reading

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May 29

“Faerie Tales” Double Feature

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presented by Blue Spruce Theatre

Act 1: “Goblin Market”
by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon
Music by Polly Pen
Based on the poem by Christina Rossetti

Act 2: World Premiere of “The Rag Doll”
Music and Lyrics by David Reiffel
Book by Silvia Graziano

Directed by Jesse Strachman
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Kira Cowan

May 23-26, 2013
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Blue Spruce Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown) Blue Spruce Theatre’s Faerie Tales has a bit of charm, some nice music, and an engaging visual style. None of these things, however, manage to carry the show on their own. This is very sad as there are elements in the play, like fairies and the importance of family, that I adore when utilized in other media.

Faerie Tales uses two different stories that overlap in theme. The first act is devoted to adapting Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, to the stage. Laura (Teresa Winner Blume) and Lizzie (Abigail Clarke) are sisters who stumble on a magical fairy marketplace. Lizzie shies away from eating the market food and going near the animal-like creatures, but Laura is too taken with their strangeness and is immediately seduced into spending a night among the goblins. When her sister returns and begins to grow ill, Lizzie struggles to find a cure. Continue reading

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May 06

Struggling with Genius: AMADEUS

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Photo: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
A play with music by Peter Shaffer
Directed by Jim Petosa

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
April 28th – May 19th, 2013
New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) The story goes that an earnest young monk once asked a Zen master to describe the immaculate nature of the Buddha.  The Zen Master, most likely with an insufferable grin on his face, pointed to a pile of dung.

This sums up the life of Antonio Salieri (Benjamin Evett) in the spirited production of Amadeus being staged at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.  Salieri, an accomplished composer who writes operas for Hapsburg monarchs, dedicates his life to capture the music of God.  Instead, he discovers his own private dung heap in the form of a foul-mouthed former child prodigy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tim Spears).  Salieri is crushed to learn that Mozart, a drunk, womanizing jerk, has a much clearer channel to God’s radio station and can compose the most beautiful music the world has ever known, even while playing billiards.  It drives the devout Italian composer to lose both his faith and his scruples. Continue reading

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Jan 14

Incomplete Sweetness: MARRY ME A LITTLE

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Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

presented by New Repertory Theatre

songs by Stephen Sondheim
conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene
directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
musical direction by David McGrory

Arsenal Center for the Arts
in the Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA
January 6th – January 27th, 2013
New Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) As a songwriter, Stephen Sondheim is better than you.  He just is.

He mastered the art of straightforward musicals with West Side Story and he’s been toying with us ever since.  After figuring out what sappy audiences want in a love song, he’s been not giving it to them, choosing instead to dwell in the tensions and the ambiguities of our romantic natures in lovely, sonic dissonance. Continue reading

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Jan 13

Office Space on Downers: THE MEMORANDUM

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Photo credit: Flat Earth Theatre; a normal day at the office.

Photo credit: Flat Earth Theatre; a normal day at the office.

presented by Flat Earth Theatre

By Václav Havel
Translated by Vera Blackwell
Directed by Victoria Rose Townsend

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
January 11th – 19th, 2013
Flat Earth Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

If Václav Havel’s life is any indication, it may wise not to let your biography get more interesting than your scripts. The Czech playwright went from a persecuted critic of Communism to his country’s first freely-elected president. His play, The Memorandum, here translated by Vera Blackwell, now often inevitably is viewed through that lens. Continue reading

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Oct 21

An Incomplete Sentence: RACE

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Photo Credit: New Repertory Theatre; the cast

by David Mamet
Directed by Robert Walsh

presented by the New Repertory Theatre
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
October 14th – November 4th, 2012

New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) It’s become trickier to discuss racism in the post-2008 election era than it was before. We have elected a black president, many hope to say, and that is enough.

Leave it to troublemaking playwright David Mamet to clear his throat amid the quiet in 2009 with his biting and succinct dramatic comedy, Race, now being performed by the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown. His play refuses to rest on recent racial gains, instead showing the trouble beneath the surface, the kind
that otherwise is obscured unless a police officer arrests a Harvard professor or a neighborhood watchman shoots an unarmed teen. Mamet’s script sparks necessary dialogue about an uncomfortable subject, but the flawed storyline of the play, combined with uneven execution by New Rep’s cast, misses the opportunity to create deeper understanding of inherent social inequality. Continue reading

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