Dec 19

Sex, Lies & Antlers: “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues”

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Presented by Happy Medium Theatre Company
By Jeff Goode
Directed by Mikey DiLoreto and Lizette M. Morris

December 17-22, 2013
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The Factory Theatre
791 Tremont St. Boston, MA
Happy Medium Theatre on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston) Difficult issues are difficult to tackle. It seems simplistic to put things this way, but of the theatre I’ve seen which attempts to handle “BIG PROBLEMS”, the vast majority is markedly ineffective.

This comes from a variety of factors: it’s easy to devolve into bad writing habits when you’ve got a hot-button issue on your hands. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve been bludgeoned with the two-by-four of justice or honestly by a well-meaning playwright who was simply trying to engage with society’s greater schema. Unfortunately, those instances have been so traumatic that I’ve managed to wipe most of them from my memory and replaced them with visions of dancing sugarplums. Continue reading

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Dec 10

Song, Cheer, and Social Misfits: “A Christmas Carol”

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Presented by Anthem Theatre Company
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Steve Wargo
Musical Arrangements by Dianne Adams-McDowell
Directed by Michael Poignand

12/5/2013 — 12/21/2013
Boston Center for the Arts
Plaza Black Box Theater
Boston, MA
Anthem Theatre Co on Facebook

2 hours, 15 minutes with one intermission.

 

 

 

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Though remembered largely as a cheerful, life-affirming tale about learning to embrace kindness, A Christmas Carol is, really, a ghost story. Ebenezer Scrooge (Kevin B. McGlynn) contemplates loneliness and the end of his life as he’s visited by spirits that embody his past, present, and future. Anthem Theatre Company gives us a stripped down Victorian play, a musical with literal Christmas carols to color a melancholy London and the workhouse realities of its Industrial Revolution. Continue reading

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Dec 02

Getting a Rise out of their Audience: THE SLUTCRACKER

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This production is intended for a mature audience only (18+). It depicts (albeit with great humor and entertainment value) graphic sexual acts and adult material. The following review is written for the same audience; please proceed accordingly and stop reading if you believe you may be offended by nudity, sexual content, and/or anything that calls itself “The Slutcracker”.

Photo care of the Slutcracker facebook page.

Directed and adapted by Vanessa White
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

November 30th – December 31st, 2013
Somerville Theatre
55 Davis Square
Somerville, MA
The Slutcracker on Facebook

(Somerville) Every year for the holiday season, the Babes in Boinkland take the good denizens of the Boston burlesque scene on a journey of fantastical fornication, sensational shtuping, and beautiful buggering.  This year, of course, is no exception.  If you appreciate the human form, are a fan of high ballet, and/or have a sense of humor about sexuality, why are you even questioning if you should see this show?  Go buy a ticket, and come, come, come to Somerville for a Christmas treat with more dick than Dickens. Continue reading

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Nov 20

Working out the Humbugs: A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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http://www.trinityrep.com/DownloadDocs/ACC13__0413.jpg

Photo credit: Mark Turek

Presented by Trinity Repertory Company
By Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming
Adapted from the story by Charles Dickens
Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky
Musical Direction by Darren Server
Choreography by Shura Baryshnikov

November 9 – December 28,
201 Washington St.
Providence, RI
Trinity Repertory Company on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Providence) I know what you’re going to say: “what can anyone possibly have to say about Dickens’ classic Christmas tale that I haven’t heard five billion times before?”  Trinity Rep sees your concern and raises you veritable Holiday Magic onstage before your very eyes.  If you’re feeling a case of the humbugs, a trip to Providence is well worth your while to get into the spirit (and spirits) of the season. Continue reading

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Jan 21

Good, Right, True: “Legend of Sleepy Hollow: An American Pantomime”

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Imaginary Beasts 2013

Imaginary Beasts 2013; no horses were used in this production. They gave full consent.

presented by Imaginary Beasts: Winter Panto 2013
Part of the Emerging Theatre Company program

Conceived and written by Matthew Woods and the Ensemble

Directed by Matthew Woods
Choreography by Joey Pelletier and Kiki Samko

January 11 – February 2, 2013
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Imaginary Beasts Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) The pantomime (panto) began its troubled youth as British entertainment based on the Elizabethan masque. It touched on classical subjects, included music and often borrowed from the Commedia dell’Arte style. These days, if one travels to jolly olde England during the Christmas and New Year’s season, one is confronted with vaudeville debauchery, bedazzled drag queens, slapstick and heaps of audience participation. It’s amazing that the US hasn’t already adopted the Panto and claimed it as our own invention. Enter Legend of Sleepy Hollow: An American Pantomime.

The form has been simplified and adapted for the small stage by Imaginary Beasts and contains the same wacky charm as its British cousin and more of the brash sassiness expected from the fringe theatre scene. We’re treated to country line dancing, Rocky references, and an extra hairy Fairy Godfather (Mikey DiLoreto) who speaks in rhyme and verse but not to a multimedia spectacular. The charm is in the ensemble’s work and it is served with campy flair. 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 25

Close to a Classic: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

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Photo: Mark Linehan* & Erin Brehm. Credit: David Costa.

Photo: Mark Linehan* & Erin Brehm. Credit: David Costa.

presented by Stoneham Theatre

adapted for the stage and directed by Weylin Symes

395 Main St. Stoneham, MA
November 23rd through December 23rd, 2012
Stoneham Theatre Facebook Page

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Stoneham) In an interview in Time Magazine, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar once quipped that every mistake he made in his first film became his signature “style” in subsequent ones. The holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t stand the test of time because it is perfect, but because of its many flaws. It is a holiday redemption story told by director Frank Capra at his most moody, and one can see why it bombed in its inaugural run at the movie houses. The script moves in a disjointed style, with a biblical fable serving as tacked-on bookends to a dark meditation on inequality in America. If not for Capra’s bold and technically-accomplished direction and the performance of a lifetime by Jimmy Stewart, the movie would be a laugher by now.

Stoneham Theatre’s staging of Weylin Symes’ theatrical adaption of Capra’s screenplay may have seemed like a safe end-of-year choice, and crowds have come in droves to see the spirited production, but this is as difficult a script as some of Shakespeare’s obscure works, and director Caitlin Lowans fails to navigate this production around many pitfalls. If not for Mark Linehan’s heart-on-sleeve performance as the desperate George Bailey and near-universal knowledge of the iconic storyline, this staging would have derailed. Continue reading

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Dec 03

It’s a Weirdly Wonderful Life with ImprovBoston’s “Merry Christmas, Mister Lampost!”

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Image Credit: ImprovBoston

presented by ImprovBoston

ImprovBoston
40 Prospect St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
December, Fridays at 10pm
ImprovBoston Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) Criticized as saccharine on its initial release, It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) is probably one of the most watched Christmas movies of the era. In it, Jimmy Stuart stars as George Bailey, an unlucky small town businessman who gains a new lease on life when his guardian angel shows him how awfully the world would get on without him. Continue reading

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Dec 17

A Good-Hearted Mashup: What the Dickens?!

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What the Dickens?! Music & Lyrics by Adam Brooks and TC Cheever; Book by TC Cheever, ImprovBoston, 12/15/11-12/23/11, http://www.improvboston.com/whatthedickens.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Cambridge, MA) The holiday season is littered with entertainment chestnuts that get trotted out every year.  Some can get worn thin, like poorer productions of A Christmas Carol; others take on a hipster status, like the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

If you want to enjoy two holiday traditions at once, come see What the Dickens?!, a mashup musical that populates Dickens’ classic Christmas morality tale with Schultz’s Peanuts characters.  Watching this play is like downing an invented drink mixed at a holiday party: the two flavors may mix curiously, but it’s all good.  Continue reading

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Dec 04

High-Voltage Holiday Cheer: A Christmas Carol: A Musical Ghost Story

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David Coffee (Ebenezer Scrooge) and Gordon Baird (Jacob Marley). Photo by Paul Lyden.

A Christmas Carol:  A Musical Ghost Story. adaptation by Jon Kimbell, North Shore Music Theatre, 12/2/11-12/23/11, http://www.nsmt.org/.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA)  

There are two types of Christmas displays you can create with those dangly lights from the hardware store.  You can hang a string or two on a bush or you can cover every inch of your home’s exterior with sequenced glitz that spells out the lyrics of “Jingle Bells” and blinks a tableau of Santa feeding a reindeer.  Either option can be beautiful or ugly, depending on how it’s done.

The same holds true with staging Charles Dickens’ A Christmas CarolContinue reading

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