Mar 07

Gallivanting Amongst the Cakes: CAKEWALK

Photo by Richard Hall/Silverline Images

Photo by Richard Hall/Silverline Images, contestants and their cakes

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
Written by Colleen Curran
Directed by David J. Miller

Feb. 26 – March 19, 2016
Plaza Back Box
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) It is Independence Day 1984. The ladies of a small town in Vermont have won a place in the annual cakewalk competition and are patiently awaiting the critique of guest judge, Julia Child. First prize is a glamorous trip for two to Paris, France. Among the other prizes are a lifetime supply of flour and accolades from the citizenship for an entire year. Most of the gang looks forward to the friendly competition. Ruby Abel (Kelley Estes) is out for blood. Ready to slow down her paranoid manipulations are fellow contestants Martha (Aina Adler), Augusta (Maureen Adduci) and Leigh (Victoria George). Taylor (Matt Fagerberg) just wants to find the registration room. Each has their own secrets to keep and insecurities to air. A seemingly safe summer fair turns into a conundrum of colliding small town politics. 
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Mar 03

“Richard II”: Spoiled Man-Boy King Destroys Himself in Simple Production

ASP Richard II (l to r) Northumberland (Marya Lowry), King Richard II (Doug Lockwood), Bishop of Carlisle (Malcolm Ingram), Bolingbroke (Michael Forden Walker), and Henry Percy (Lewis D. Wheeler). Photo by Stratton McCrady

ASP Richard II (l to r) Northumberland (Marya Lowry), King Richard II (Doug Lockwood), Bishop of Carlisle (Malcolm Ingram), Bolingbroke (Michael Forden Walker), and Henry Percy (Lewis D. Wheeler). Photo by Stratton McCrady

Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Allyn Burrows

Feb. 17-March 13, 2016
Cambridge YMCA
Cambridge, MA
ASP on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Richard II is not about a Danish prince languishing over a ghost’s warnings or an elderly king like Lear, mad with grief due to age and family strife. No, this is a story about the abuses of power and a complex man who both understands why he must give up his throne but is honest enough to admit to himself that he just really, really doesn’t want to. Continue reading

Feb 29

Boxer Shorts II, “From Water to Dust”: Ashes to Ashes

Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots, "Tape"

Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots, “Tape”

Boxershorts, A Cycle of Short Plays: “From Water to Dust” (Del Agua al Polvo)
Presented by Brown Box Theatre Project and Icaro Compania Teatral
Directed by Talia Curtin and Kyler Taustin
Plays by Jose Rivera, Nilo Cruz, Maria Irene Fornes, Caridad Svich
Brown Box on Facebook

BOSTON
Atlantic Wharf
290 Congress St
Feb 26-28 & Mar 4-6, 2016

SALISBURY
Headquarters Live
115 S Division St
March 10, 2016

OCEAN CITY
Center for the Arts
502 94th Street
March 11-14, 2016

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Brown Box Theatre presents Boxer Shorts: From Water to Dust (Del gua al polvo) in collaboration with  Icaro Compania Teatral. It’s a short evening, say 50 minutes to an hour, of work from playwrights we don’t see a lot of in Boston: Jose Rivera, Nilo Cruz, Maria Irene Fornes, and Caridad Svich. From science fiction to abstract drama, It’s a nice change of pace. While not 100% reflective of the work by these playwrights, it’s an introduction to their work. It’s enough to give the audience motive to seek out more. Continue reading

Feb 24

Nice Legs Fellas: THAT 1770’s SHOW

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Image care of Google

Presented by The Hasty Pudding Club
Written by Daniel S. Milaschewski,, Jacob D. Rienstra, and A.J. Unitas
Music composed by Dylan MarcAurele

Feb. 6 – March 6, 2016
Farkas Hall
12 Holyoke Street
Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) HPT168: That 1770’s Show is like a Ru Paul’s Drag Race production of “A Day in the Life on Plimouth Plantation” if the budget were slashed and the performers given a strict diet of cafeteria food. It’s good ole’ drag satire in which Massachusetts institutions are the butt of the jokes. It’s hilarious if that’s your thing. If it’s not: the show’s still funny but you won’t enjoy yourself as much as everyone else. Continue reading

Feb 22

Short, Sweet, and Gory: “La Zombiata”


Presented by WholeTone Opera
Opera by Jillian Flexner
Based on the opera by Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave.
Stage Director: J. Deschene
Music Director: Ian Garvie

February 12 – 14, 2016
Davis Square Theater
Somerville, MA
WholeTone Opera on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville, MA) The few times I’ve been to an opera, I noted that if you took out a lot of the notes people sang, you would end up with a bloody, sexy tale. Being that I’m generally inclined for a bloody, sexy tale over a lot of notes, I daydreamed of a streamlined opera that didn’t take itself so seriously. (Have you gathered I don’t usually like opera?) Continue reading

Feb 16

“Baltimore”: Damn Straight it’s About Race

2/9/16 Boston Center for American Performance and New Repertory Theatre present BALTIMORE, A BU New Play Initiative Production by Kirsten Greenidge - Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue - After she’s dismissed from her job in the athletics department, Shelby Wilson becomes Resident Advisor to a group of freshmen—after all, it’ll look good on her resume. She soon discovers that a racially charged incident has set student against student, and it’s up to her to mediate the situation. In this world premiere production, playwright Kirsten Greenidge explores the complexities of racism from the perspective of eight culturally diverse college students. Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave. (Lane-Comley Studio 210) 2016-02-09-BALTIMORE_033.nef - Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

2/9/16- Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

Presented by Boston Center for American Performance and
New Repertory Theatre at the Boston University Theatre
By Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

February 10-28, 2016
Boston University Theatre
Lane-Comley Studio 210
264 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) I know what you’re thinking. Oh great, another play about race. And yes, this is a play about race. But the problem people don’t see in this thought process is that art exists as a response to society and our experiences living in it. Plays about race would not need to be written if we did in fact live in a post-racial society. So yes, this is a show about race, and if that bothers you then you are exactly the person that needs to see this play. Continue reading

Feb 16

It’s A Privilege To Be So Offended: AN OCTOROON

(photo cred: Jeremy Fraga)

(photo cred: Jeremy Fraga)

Presented by Company One and ArtsEmerson
Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Summer L. Williams

Jan. 29 – Feb. 27, 2016
Emerson/Jackie Liebergott Black Box
559 Washington St; Boston MA, 02111
Company One on Facebook
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAI know enough about civil and political rights to know that I don’t know nearly enough to speak with authority; I know enough to know that white people need to shut up and show up in support of the voices of people of color (POCs). That white people have done more than enough talking on behalf of the peoples we oppress. My suggestion is to attend An Octoroon and stay for the talk back. Use your money to express your belief that everyone deserves equal rights and equal representation. Use your attendance as an opportunity to start a respectful conversation about the US’s race problem. Let POCs know that their fight doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  Continue reading

Feb 14

After so long, we’re still back to this: BACK THE NIGHT

2/3/14 Boston Playwrights' Theatre presents 'Back the Night' By Melinda Lopez. Directed by Daniela Varon. February 4-28-2016. With violence on campus rising to epidemic proportions, Em is in total denial. But when her best friend Cassie gets assaulted, Em makes some unexpected personal discoveries. Sometimes you do the wrong thing for the right reason. 2016-02-03_BACKTHENITE_002.jpg - Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Written by Melinda Lopez
Directed by Daniela Varon

February 4-28, 2016
Boston Playwright’s Theatre
Boston, MA
BPT on Facebook

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

Trigger warnings: sexual assault and physical violence, sexual situations, adult language, suicide, mental health, activism

(Boston, MA) Institutional support of criminals and criminal behavior either through incompetence or genuine ignorance is common. Although a college campus is the setting of Melinda Lopez’s Back the Night, it could be a stand-in for a fancy secondary school or any urban space. It is both cheaper and simpler in these forums to blame the victim than actually pursue justice.

Em, Sean and Cassie pit themselves against assault on campus after Cassie is injured one night. Em is the pre-med Nancy Drew who likes putting things into proper boxes and Melissa Jesser portrays her with an intensity that simmers just below the surface. Cassie (Amanda Collins), long an ardent anti-violence advocate, is finally putting a lot of her principles to the test. Sean just wants everyone to make it to graduation alive. Along the way, the undergraduates realize that intentions aren’t pure on any side of the issue. The set served as both metaphor and scenery, with decaying infrastructure and dorm furniture offset by autumn leaves and warm lighting.

When I attended, the audience of mostly college aged students and a few older attendees were both amused and engaged. Although the play is a new work, the topics have been stewing in higher education for some time. Local universities such as Boston University responded in the past three years to federal investigations related to sexual harassment under Title IX by leveraging pre-existing resources and coordinating new sets of training for incoming and ongoing students, staff and faculty. For survivors as well as for those who work at or attend a university, the transitions toward justice seem insignificant and much less than what was promised.

To be fair, there are a lot of great sea changes still occurring: a queer character like Sean, played by a bouncy Evan Horwitz, or a non-white character like Em can exist on a campus, which is a sign of progress. Authorities can’t produce those specific, permanent and positive transitions in a vacuum. Rallying and other forms of pressure by non-authorities as well as pushback, then, is more like a dance: there is movement over time, even if there is no easily discernible direction. Also, dances end, and it can take time before a different dance begins.

Lopez gets the internet’s impact on survivor’s rights in many ways: frequently the ability to reach lots of potential activists doesn’t lead to the revolution, especially since the internet reaches not only sympathetic minds, but also perpetrators and victim-blamers who are all too willing to sit on the sidelines and throw stones. At the very least, perpetrators are not given a forum in the play. There’s still lots of meat to chew on. Even when your friends are a mirror or an inspiration, they can still misunderstand and make demands on your sanity that can be almost as terrible as physical trauma. At a fairly short hour and a half, humor between the three friends lightens the frustration, exhaustion and constant questioning. Lopez has captured the voice of modern undergraduates and also provided a snapshot of the strained relationships of students to the adults who are supposed to guide and shield them.

Next on deck for Boston Playwrights’ Theatre is Rhinoceros a co-production with Suffolk University written by Eugene Ionesco at the Modern from February 25-March 13.

Feb 09

No Day But Today to See “Rent”

6-Full Cast - (C)Eric Antoniou

(C) Eric Antoniou

Presented by Fiddlehead Theatre Company at the Back Bay Events Center
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Music Direction by Nathan Urdangen
Directed by Stacey Stephens

February 5-21, 2016
Boston, MA
Fiddlehead Theatre Company on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) Rent has a very special place in my heart, and the hearts of many musical fans. I’ve been criticized by various people who point out their faults with the show, including the childish mentality that you can live in New York City (center of the universe) without paying rent for an entire year and expect zero consequences. Whatever shortcomings in its plot, it’s a fantastic rock musical and I was excited for all the nostalgic feels during the Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s production this past weekend, and while I wasn’t blown away, I wasn’t disappointed either. Continue reading

Feb 09

With The Stars Thrown In: MARY POPPINS

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Based on the stories by PL Travers and the Walt Disney film
Music and lyrics by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman
Book by Julian Fellows
New songs and additional music by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe
Co-created by Cameron Mackintosh
Directed/choreographed by Russell Garrett
Music directed by Robert L Rucinski

January 29 – February 28, 2016
American Sign Language and Audio-description are offered on Friday February 26 at 7:30 and Sunday February 28 at 3:00.
Boston, MA
Wheelock on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The adaptation of a beloved movie into a musical theatre production can be a sticky business. On the one hand, it is necessary to tread carefully in order to honor the childhood memories (or other) of an audience. On the other, there’s a story to tell. Something usually gets lost in translation. In the instance of Mary Poppins at Wheelock Family Theatre, it’s the story that suffers. Worry not! The performances still enthrall. Continue reading