Jun 15

Geek Book Review: “Madeline Kahn: Being The Music, A Life”

Madeline Kahn book cover

Designed by Peter D. Halverson

Madeline Kahn: Being The Music, A Life

By William V. Madison
University Press of Mississippi
Jackson, 2015
www.upress.state.ms.us
(336 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 48 b&w photographs, filmography, index
9781617037610 Cloth $35.00)
Found wherever fine books are sold

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life is distinct for being one of the only in print books devoted to Kahn’s life. A notoriously private woman, she kept her personal secrets close. Rather, she was known for her stage and screen capacity for uproarious humor, and striking beauty. She was less known for her demons and deep insecurities.

This biography by William V. Madison catalogs her ascent to stardom from her birth in Boston, her childhood in New York City, and her adult life everywhere else. It details her work in Mel Brook’s movies, and her ongoing partnership with director Peter Bogdanovich. She was nominated for Academy Award for Blazing Saddles, and also for her vulnerable performance as Trixie Delight in Paper Moon. She was a Broadway darling of the second degree. Her stage career never reached the heights she had hoped it would. Her life was cut mercilessly short by ovarian cancer in 1999 but this biography lives on to tell her story. Continue reading

Jun 12

Don’t Image Search ‘Felching': “After All The Terrible Things I Do”

© T Charles Erickson Photography

© T Charles Erickson Photography

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co.
Written by A. Rey Pamatmat
Directed by Peter DuBois

May 22 – June 21, 2015
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Huntington Theatre’s production of  After All The Terrible Things I Do has a start so rough that it was surprising that it ended so well. Our first impression is of the glorious stage by Clint Ramos. The bookstore set where are heros interact evokes the recognizable bittersweet nostalgia of favored reading holes. There are nooks and crannies, patches of light and dark. It’s nearly perfect. All it needs is a fat tabby napping on a pillow of paperbacks. Continue reading

Jun 09

Who Doesn’t Like Penis Stuff? : THREE

Adulthood blows. Enjoy your youth now. Photo Credit: Ron Spalletta

Adulthood blows. Enjoy your youth now. Photo Credit: Ron Spalletta

Presented by Boston Public Works Theatre Company
By Emily Kaye Lazzaro
Directed by A. Nora Long

June 5 – 20, 2015
Boston Center for the Arts
Plaza Black Box
Boston, MA
BPW on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Hollywood characterizes women like they’re mysterious flowers incapable of raunch or, conversely, like unsexy raunch-machines that repel penises. Theatre is kinder to us by generally allowing us our humanity, albeit a fragile one that must be guarded… unless characterizing us as a Strong Female Character who is impervious to nurturing. The unjust stereotypes abound. Why can’t we be complicated people who attempted to appropriately abide the status quo while farting into a void? This is who we are. You know, just like dudes.    Continue reading

Jun 01

No Parrots Were Harmed in the Making of This Production: LIGHT UP THE SKY

The cast of Light Up the Sky. Photo: Mark S. Howard.

The cast (in their finery) of Light Up the Sky. Photo: Mark S. Howard.

Presented by Lyric Stage Co. of Boston
By Moss Hart
Directed by Scott Edmiston
Music direction by Will McGarrahan

May 15 – June 13, 2015
Boston, MA
Lyric on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) If one scratches the surface of theatre history, information on Moss Hart and his great effect comes spilling forth like a Texan hitting oil in his backyard. He was beloved by most, if not all, for his contributions. He worked with greats such as George S. Kaufman, Kurt Weill, and Ira Gershwin. He co-wrote countless musical reviews (I’d Rather Be Right), directed some hits (Camelot), and wrote several award winning screenplays (A Star Is Born). He was a gentleman, a scholar and pretty great guy. Continue reading

May 30

Don’t Trust the Process: THE SUBMISSION

Photo via Zeitgeist Facebook page

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Co.
by Jeff Talbott
Directed by David J. Miller

May 5 – 30, 2015
Plaza Black Box
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Let me preface this review with the following: It is near impossible to have a frank discussion about institutional oppression and personal culpability/responsibility without becoming defensive or offended. If you are a white person who hasn’t closely examined your personal involvement as either an actual or potential racist, it is highly likely that you engage in racist behavior and don’t even know it. If you think it’s OK to affect a lisp and ridicule gay people because you “have gay friends,” you’re likely a homophobe. If you treat either gay people and/or people of color as not “normal,” you’re probably one, the other, or both. Casual racism/homophobia isn’t a POC/LGBTQ+ issue. It’s a failing of the white/hetero, cis members of society convinced that the fight against oppression ends when it becomes inconvenient to fight. It is possible to consider yourself a good person and still be rotten with racism or homophobia. Continue reading

May 27

From You, OK. I Learned It From Watching You: PEDR SOLIS

Brian Church, Baritone in the title role of Pedr Solis. Photo by Liz Linder Photography.

Brian Church, Baritone in the title role of Pedr Solis. Photo by Liz Linder Photography.

Presented by Guerilla Opera and The Boston Conservatory
Music by Per Bloland
Libretto by Paul Schick
Directed by Laine Rettmer

May 15 – 23, 2015
The Zack Box
8 The Fenway
Boston, MA
Guerilla Opera on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Pedr Solis is an avant garde (i.e. strange), dark, messy beast of a prog rock opera. It’s set, props, and libretto are highly conceptualized and feature the most abstract of metaphors. The staging is full-contact. It should be a complete mess but it isn’t. Rather, as a logical, relatively objective reviewer I found it quite entertaining. As an over-educated audience member relying on her emotions to determine if she had a good time, I found my experience less than satisfying.   Continue reading

May 12

The Power of Shame: THE VOICES OF WE


Presented by 333 Productions and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Written by Robbi D’Allessandro
Directed by Shana Gogansky

April 25 – May 9, 2015
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
Voices of We on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, gun shots, political satire, kickass feminism

(Boston, MA) Trigger warnings abounded for The Voices of We. They were plentiful because the writing was effective and the acting was very good. The stories in Voices aren’t necessarily true to life but they could be true for someone. The point is that these stories are true enough to appear realistic in performance. In the case of the scenes with the most abundant triggers, the inherent realism should serve as a warning to audience members that we, as a society living these stories, have a long way to go.   Continue reading

May 07

Hate the Player, Not the Game: DON GIOVANNI

Costume Designer Tilly Grimes, © T Charles Erickson Photography, Set Designer Laura Jellinek, Each ticket holder receives free admission to Rock’s Gun Show.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Conducted by David Angus
Stage Directed by Emma Griffin
Fight direction by Andrew Kenneth Moss
BLO Concertmaster: Sandra Kott
BLO Chorusmaster: Michelle Alexander

May 1 – 10, 2015
Boston Lyric Opera
The Shubert Theater
Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Opera singers are gifts that keep on giving. Along with my usual attendance of BLO’s Don Giovanni, I had the pleasure of experiencing a bonus adventure the Friday evening before while out with my wife. She and I were supposed to be on a romantic date. We did not count on a cameo by a premier performer. I was to be well-compensated for my diverted attention. Continue reading

May 06

A Different Cup of Tea: BOXER SHORTS

Photo credit: Brown Box Theatre Project

Photo credit: Brown Box Theatre Project, “Play”

Presented by Brown Box Theatre Project
Works by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Tenessee Williams, Diana Raznovich
Works directed by Darren Evans, Kyler Tausin, Anna Trachtman
Performed by Cameron Gosselin, Meredith Stypinski, Lizzie Milanovich, Johnny Quinones, Janelle Mills

Boston: April 24 – May 3, 2015
Atlantic Wharf
290 Congress St

Delmarva: May 8 – 11, 2015
Ocean City Center for the Arts
Ocean City, MD
Brown Box on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Brown Box Theatre’s mission involves bringing accessible theatre to uncommonly accessible spaces. They’ve made a home on Atlantic Wharf and Delmarva (MD). Their current production Boxer Shorts: an evening of short plays brings many genres to the same stage. In one sitting, the audience experiences a range of theatre from the mundane to the absurd. The result is an interesting evening of entertainment with varying levels of success. Continue reading

May 04

High Velocity Surrealism or, Buckle Up, It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Night: “The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century)”

This video has been slowed down considerably to protect the innocent.

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Produced by Double Edge Theatre
Conceived, designed, and directed by Stacy Klein
Composed by Alexander Bakshi
Music and vocal direction by Lyudmila Bakshi

April 30 – May 3, 2015
Emerson/Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: Strobe effect, Gunshots

One hour with no intermission.

(Boston, MAStacy Klein writes in her director’s note that Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) pairs the dream-like works of Marc Chagall with the “extreme conflicts” of the twentieth century. Images from his paintings are reflected in the troupes’ depiction of significant events in American history. Her intention as designer, director and co-creator was to “(reflect) history through (the creators’) own eyes” as “the only way to speak to (their) desires for the future.” If what Klein and Double Edge presented is their vision of the future, we are doomed; Grand Parade is a hot mess. Continue reading