Sep 16

All Cucumbers and Hooves: UNDER MILK WOOD

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Photo courtesy of Artsboston; a picture of the cast at the reading with Mr. Scanlan in the front.

Photo courtesy of Artsboston; photo was grabbed from the Poet’s Theatre FB page.  A picture of the cast at the reading with Mr. Scanlan in the front.

A celebration in honor of the revival of The Poet’s Theatre and the centennial of the Author’s birth.

Presented by The Poet’s Theatre
By Dylan Thomas
Directed by Bob Scanlan

Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall
Harvard University
Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 @ 7pm ONLY
Poet’s Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“…the idea that I write a piece, a play, an impression for voices, an entertainment out of the town I live in, and to write it simply and warmly and comically, with lots of movement and varieties of moods, so that, at many levels, through sight and speech, description and dialogue, evocation and parody, you come to know the town as an inhabitant of it.”
– Dylan Thomas – Collected Letters edited by Paul Ferris (London: Dent, 2000 (new edition)

(Cambridge, MA) Under Milk Wood is a radio drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. It was performed on the stage during Thomas’ lifetime (and by Thomas himself). It became a movie directed by Andrew Sinclair, and featured Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O’Toole, in 1972. For his centennial, the BBC has a site devoted to a recent film production of Under Milk Wood. All of this is mentioned because not nearly enough Americans have an appreciation for Thomas’ work –  aside from his famous poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” His work is elegant, romantic, and, best yet, free to read on the internet or in a library. It is a worthwhile, mind-expanding endeavor to read as much of his collected works. If not for your own sake, then to woo a paramour or two. Continue reading

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Sep 12

Children Will Listen and Learn: GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER

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Photo: Paul Marotta; Meredith Forlenza and Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Photo: Paul Marotta; Meredith Forlenza and Malcolm-Jamal Warner – they make a stupidly beautiful couple.

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co
By Todd Kreidler
Based on the screenplay by William Rose
Directed by David Esbjornson

Sept. 5 – Oct. 5, 2014
BU Theatre
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) There are certain conservative republicans that like to argue that racism is finally dead. They are deeply incorrect. It’s 2014 and racism is thriving in the United States of America. It affects everyone and everything. To get into the nitty gritty, please see this Wikipedia article which is currently very good. Who knows how long the populace will let it stay that way.

Racism is so prevalent in everyday culture that bigotry tainted events occur and most people can’t even see it. Take for instance, the couple sitting in front of me last night at the Huntington theatre that was patiently waiting for the show to start. An usher asked to see their tickets as there seemed to be some seat mix up with a couple in the aisle. The usher had intended to interrogate the seated couple and move them… until the standing couple pointed out that the usher was attempting to seat them in the incorrect row. The usher responded, “my bad,” and moved the couple to their seats. The seated couple was Black. The usher and the standing couple were White. The appropriated idiom circa 2004 was horrifying. Continue reading

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Sep 08

“Sweeney Todd” Delights in Dire Tragedy

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Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo by Mark S. Howard. Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper.

Presented by the Lyric Stage of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed & Staged by Spiro Veloudos
Music Director, Jonathan Goldberg

Sept. 5 – Oct. 11, 2014
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
Lyric on Facebook

Review Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In today’s entertainment landscape, probably the most surprising thing about The Lyric Stage’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is how un-sexy it makes murder. No, grisly death probably shouldn’t be attractive as a rule, but television shows like Hannibal and Dexter and even some thriller novels give serial killers a stylized warmth. Blood is splashed artfully over plastic tarps and cannibalized flesh is prepared with exquisite attention to detail for unsuspecting dinner guests. Stephen Sondheim’s infamous musical gives us only Sweeney Todd’s icy vengeance, spinning more out of control with every throat he slits in his barber’s chair, and Mrs. Lovett’s questionable baking skills. Continue reading

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Aug 29

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back: PYGMALION

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Photo credit: Flat Earth Theatre

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By George Bernard Shaw
Edited/directed by Devon Jones

August 22-30, 2014
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: Sexism, Racism, Classism

(Watertown, MA) My Fair Lady is derived from Shaw’s Pygmalion. Pygmalion is derived from the Greek myth by the same name from Ovid’s Metamorphosis. It is the story of a sculptor, Pygmalion, who fell so hard in love with his sculpture that the goddess Aphrodite brought it to life. The sculpture isn’t given a name or granted personhood in the myth. Similarly, affluent Henry Higgins refuses to see impoverished Eliza Doolittle as more than a parroting animal until she provokes him into heated arguments. In addition to sexism and classism, the play’s dialogue also discusses racism. Flat Earth’s production includes actors of color. It takes a long, hard look at what it means to experience color, gender and educational privilege against the backdrop of London’s great equalizer: Tube delays. Continue reading

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Aug 25

Banish John Falstaff: Henry the 4th

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Presented by Theater@First
A New Adaption of William Shakespeare’s Histories
Directed by Shelley MacAskill

August 21st – 30th
Unity Somerville
6 William Street, Somerville
Theatre@First on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville) Shakespeare’s histories can be problematic to bring to the stage. In these plays, the usual issues of Shakespearean verse and thick language are compounded with cinematic scope, characters sometimes too big to be readily believable, and all kinds of crazy epic battle scenes. Compounding two histories into one doubles the trouble. Henry the 4th is a conflation of the two parts of Henry IV relying mostly upon part 1 with some of the more salient and dramatic moments of part 2 tacked onto the play’s end. Continue reading

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Aug 18

Needs Oil, But Still Burns Rubber: GREASE

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Photo © Paul Lyden

Photo © Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book, music, lyrics by Warren Casey & Jim Jacobs
Directed by Mark Martino
Music directed by Craig Barna
Choreographed by Mark Stuart

August 12th – August 24th, 2014
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) The backstory behind the script for the musical “Grease” is that writers Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey locked themselves away to write a bunch of 50’s era songs, and then tried to piece together a plot to fit the songs together. This sounds like a recipe for a disaster of a script, and for a long time I personally thought the plot flimsy and vacant. Continue reading

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Aug 15

“God Hates Musicals” but Quite Clearly Loves Everyone

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Presented by Ministry of Theatre
Book by Joe Creedon
Lyrics by Emily Laverdiere
Composed by Bryan Dunn

Directed by Joe Creedon
Music direction by Steve Sarro
Choreography by Jackie Simon

August 13 – 24, 2014
TheatreLab@855
Boston University
GHM on Facebook

TriggersSlurs, emotional violence, speaking in tongues

Review by Kitty Drexel

In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, I did audition for this musical and was not cast. It is my firm belief that only a narcissistic ass would allow something like that to color their review.

(Boston) The men who wrote the Bible (believe what you may, it was Man that compiled and interpreted the word of God) made it pretty clear that God loves us all. Jesus tried his darnedest to teach the masses that God loves us equally. Yet, despite these truths, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) actively refutes this. In fact, they go out of their way to tell anyone who will listen that, unless you repent, they are damned to Hell. The WBC pickets funerals and other events to convey their message. They believe that they spread their core message,“God hates fags,” out of love. Pull the other one. Continue reading

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Aug 12

Here the Rodents Reign Supreme: “The Annotated History of the American Muskrat”

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Presented by The Circuit Theatre Company
Written by John Kuntz
Directed by Skylar Fox

August 2 – 16, 2014
The Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Circuit Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) My parents were in town this weekend and, in the interest of involving them in my life, I asked them to attend The Annotated History of the American Muskrat with me. My conservative Dad’s immediate response was to ask, “is it weird?” At the time he asked I couldn’t give a definitive answer but, after attending Sunday’s matinee performance,  I can honestly answer that, yes, this show is weird. Yet, “weird” doesn’t scratch the surface of what it is. It is also intensely powerful (reviewers use these words a lot. This show is actually powerful and intense versus a “powerful” and “intense” production of, say, The Cherry Orchard.) in ways that cause the viewer to question how Americans process the life we consume. It’s a bad trip on the best acid. It’s about everything and nothing. It is not for the weak. Continue reading

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Aug 12

Actresses Define an Era in “Playhouse Creatures”

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Andrew San Photography

Andrew San Photography

Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company
By April DeAngelis
Directed by Anna Trachtman

August 1 – 17, 2014
The Factory Theatre
Boston, MA
Maiden Phoenix on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company puts on the sort of historical play I love. Playhouse Creatures looks at the Restoration Era with new eyes, examining the lives of actors Mary Betteron (Christine Power), Ms. Marshall (Janelle Mills), Nell Gwyn (Emily White), and Ms. Farley (Emma Goodman) as they take to the English stage once women are lawfully allowed to act again. Their agendas diverge wildly: they do it for money, fame, or unbridled joy. Regardless, the show is a delicious exploration of what women looking to make art do when faced with a patriarchal society. Continue reading

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Aug 05

Blast Off Achieved: “Astro Boy and the God of Comics”

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Banner courtesy of the C1 Facebook page

Presented by Company One
Written and Directed by Natsu Onoda Power

July 19-August 16, 2014
Plaza Theatre at Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
C1 on Facebook

Review by Noe Kamelamela

(Boston) Sci-fi disciples should rocket into the BCA to catch Astro Boy and the God of Comics.  Company One not only delivers the flash and joy of Mighty Atom, but also ably handles the more thorny political commentary.  Violence, death, and some racially offensive content are referenced. Continue reading

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