Mar 18

What a marvel: “Edward II”

(l to r) Edward II (Maurice Emmanuel Parent), Gaveston (Eddie Shields), and Lancaster (Nigel Gore) – Photo by Maggie Hall

Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project
By Christopher Marlowe
Directed by David R. Gammons

February 22 – March 19, 2017
Charlestown Working Theater
ASPBoston on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

WARNING: Nudity, violence.

(I beg forgiveness from the cast and crew of Edward II! I was trapped on the west coast during the blizzard, and only returned last night. It was not possible to post Ms. Daniels’ review until then. My sincerest apologies, and best wishes for a closing weekend! – Kitty, the Queen Geek)

(Charlestown, MA)  This show is intense. I could feel my temples vibrate during intermission. The power and emotion has stayed with me for days. I cried during the show, afterward, and grew teary remembering it. I am not at all surprised the production has added more performances to its tight schedule. This is a melodrama realized with an expert, brutal hand. Continue reading

Oct 27

Beautiful and Painful: “The Scottsboro Boys”

Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots; The ensemble getting down.

Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots; The ensemble getting down.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Music and Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Book by David Thompson
Original Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Musical Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Ilyse Robbins

October 21 – November 26
Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street
Speakeasy on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) It’s difficult to know what to say about The Scottsboro Boys.  The piece is uncomfortable to watch not because of its incredible talent or flawless direction and design, but rather because it’s meant to be uncomfortable to watch.  The show is a remixed account of the historical case of The Scottsboro Boys, nine young black men who in 1931 were accused of raping two white women on a train, told through the lens of American Minstrelsy.  Performed with gusto and amazing energy, SpeakEasy’s production is a triumph that should be mandatory viewing for any American (particularly in an election year as fraught with the urge to “just give up” as this one has been). Continue reading

Mar 19

One Lick of “Bootycandy” and You’re Hooked

Photo credit: Glenn Perry Photography

Photo credit: Glenn Perry Photography

Presented by Speak Easy Stage Company
Written by Robert O’Hara
Directed by Summer L. William

March 12-April 9, 2016
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Speak Easy on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) Growing up gay and black is a very specific experience, and not one with which I will ever be able to identify. But Robert O’Hara’s hilarious and honest show gives the closest to an authentic experience anybody could possibly get. Continue reading

Aug 04

Come for the Shakespeare, Stay for the Ice Cream: KING LEAR

Photos by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Photos by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Presented by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Steven Maler

July 22 – August 9, 2015
FREE and Open to the Public
Parkman Bandstand
Boston Common
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company on Facebook

ASL-Interpreted Performances: Friday, July 31 @ 8pm and Sunday, August 2 @ 7pm
Audio Described Performance: July 30 @ 8pm (Rain date: August 9 at 7pm)

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) Before I even get into nitty gritties, let me take a moment to marvel at the fact that Commonwealth Shakespeare Company has brought free Shakespeare to the masses for almost two decades now.  Nothing really says “summer” like Shakespeare al fresco, and Shakespeare on the Common is the way the arts should be: available, relatable, and welcoming.  I was particularly excited this year to witness (for my first time) CSC’s ASL interpreted performance; and those interpreters were working just as hard as (if not harder than) the performers onstage.  Shakespeare on the Common feels like a community coming together to support arts that include them; and that touches even my grinchy critic’s heart more than I can say. Continue reading

Sep 19

Pretty to Watch, Messy to Contemplate: FAR FROM HEAVEN

Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo. Look at those costumes!

Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co.
Book by Richard Greenberg
Music by Scott Frankel
Lyrics by Michael Korie
Based on the Focus Features/Vulcan Production Motion Picture, Written & Directed by Todd Haynes

Directed by Scott Edmiston
Musical Direction by Steven Bergman
Choreography by David Connolly

Sept. 12 – Oct. 11, 2014
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) In 1957, Betty Friedan conducted a survey of Smith College graduates to celebrate their 15th anniversary. When she discovered that many of her contemporaries were deeply unhappy, she expanded her research to include other US suburban housewives. She continued her research into psychology and other social sciences. Her studies found a “problem that has no name,” a depression among women despite their ensured physical and emotional comforts. A life revolving around marriage and children was deeply unfulfilling.

This study and her corresponding writings were the basis for The Feminine Mystique, a book that sparked the second-wave of feminism. Published in 1963, it has played an influential part in assuring a modern woman’s right to equality. Women who work outside of the home owe a large part of their freedoms to Friedan and the women who worked with her. Friedan began her survey the same year that Far From Heaven begins. Continue reading

Jan 22

Sweetness Through Unbearable Cruelty: “The Color Purple”

http://www.speakeasystage.com/_photos/press/purple_10.jpg

Lovely Hoffman in The Color Purple. Photo by Glenn Perry Photography

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
Based on the novel written by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros/Amblin Entertainment motion picture of the same name
Book by Marsha Norman
Music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Musical direction by Nicholas James Connell
Choreography by Christian Bufford

January 10 – February 8, 2014
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St
Boston, MA
Speakeasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Two Disclaimers:
1. Brief nudity is used to abruptly symbolize the stark differences between the lives of Shug and Celie. Prudes should stay at home.
2. This is a musical predominantly about Black women. The only role White people play are as silent, historically accurate oppressors. Racists and sexists won’t enjoy themselves either.

(Boston) The Color Purple is exquisite. It is a tour deforce presentation of musical theatre at its finest. With only one small hiccup, this production achieves greatness on the stage. Run, do not walk, as fast as you are able and get tickets to this show. Do it. Continue reading

Dec 02

Charm Conquers All: CAMELOT

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

Oct 21

Rage Against the Love Machine: ROMEO AND JULIET

http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/sites/default/files/gallery/Stratton_McCrady_201310010235.jpg?download=1

Stratton McCrady Photography 2013

Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project
By William Shakespeare
Co-directed by Bobbie Steinbach and Allyn Burrows

October 2nd – November 3rd, 2013
The Strand Theatre
Dorchester (Boston), MA
Actor’s Shakespeare Project on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) We are so insane for love that we co-opt works of art that vilify love and turn them into romantic propaganda.  It happens with every generation.  I grew up with The Police song “Every Breath You Take” as the best love song of 1983, even though it was clearly about a stalker

Romeo and Juliet has become a stand-in for romance, so much so that Bugs Bunny and Pepe LePew could do the balcony scene and 4-year-olds would get the joke.  But while any college freshman with a dye job can enjoy the irony that this iconically romantic story could easily be considered a black comedy, few theatre companies can stage “R + J” productions that can cut through the “Will U Be Mine” ethos we smear on the play. Continue reading

Jan 24

“At the Mountaintop” Delivers Unexpected, Unwelcome Twist

Presented by Underground Railway Theater

Presented by Underground Railway Theater

Produced by Underground Railway Theater

By Katori Hall
directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian

January 10 – February 3, 2013
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Central Square Theater Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) Sometimes, there’s a moment in a show that can make or break it. When that moment comes, the audience will divide accordingly. Maybe this turn is cheesy, too scary, or just a little off-kilter with the rest of the story. When it happens in At the Mountaintop, and the audience will know when it does, it redefines the sort of narrative being watched. The show starts out smart but softens into a peculiar if interesting mess.

Katori Hall’s two-man play concerns the late and well-loved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Maurice Emmanuel Parent) and his conversations with a hotel maid, Camae (Kami Rushell Smith). Like A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher, performed by The Salem Theatre Company last year, Central Square Theater’s At the Mountaintop concerns two personalities bouncing off each other in a contained space. Also like A Picasso, one happens to be famous and respected while the other, an intrigued woman, has slipped
through the cracks of history. Continue reading

Sep 24

Redemption in the Motherf**cker with the Hat

Photo Credit: SpeakEasy Stage Company

by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by David R. Gammons

presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
539 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
SpeakEasy Stage Company Facebook Page
September 14 – October 13, 2012

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Speakeasy Stage’s The Motherf**ker with the Hat is a dark comedy that never quite tips over into bleak. Its main characters are addicts, recovering and otherwise, but they either have a sense of humor about it or have learned to accept their shortcomings. Fresh out of jail, Jackie (Jaime Carrillo) tries to break the tight circuit of repeating behaviors that has him locked into a pattern of loving, drinking, and messing up. Continue reading