Feb 03

Disparate Pieces: THE WHIPPING MAN

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Care of the New Rep Facebook page.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
by Matthew Lopez
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

January 25th – February 16th, 2014
Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) Sometimes you can check off all the boxes for what makes an interesting play without the play adding up to great theatre.  The Whipping Man, playing at the New Repertory Theatre, has all the ingredients (interesting slice of history, family drama, a striking set, a strong cast), but they don’t create something bigger. Continue reading

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Jan 13

Questions That Shouldn’t Be Answered: IMAGINING MADOFF

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Joel Colodner as Solomon Galkin and Jeremiah Kissel as Bernard Madoff in IMAGINING MADOFF by Deborah Margolin. Photos by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Joel Colodner as Solomon Galkin and Jeremiah Kissel as Bernard Madoff in IMAGINING MADOFF by Deborah Margolin. Photos by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
by Deborah Margolin
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
January 4th – 26th, 2014
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) It is in our genetic makeup to try and understand what we cannot comprehend, no more so than when we are confronted with evil that makes a mockery of human decency. We want to know what makes the mass murderer different from us so badly that we desperately try to project understanding when there is none to be had.

Unfortunately, this tends to make us seek black and white answers to complex and disturbing questions. Growing up in a Roman Catholic household, I kept asking my mother who was in Hell besides Hitler. She would pause and respond, “Mussolini.” That was always the end of the conversation. Continue reading

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Dec 02

Charm Conquers All: CAMELOT

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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
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(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

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May 06

Struggling with Genius: AMADEUS

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Photo: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
A play with music by Peter Shaffer
Directed by Jim Petosa

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
April 28th – May 19th, 2013
New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) The story goes that an earnest young monk once asked a Zen master to describe the immaculate nature of the Buddha.  The Zen Master, most likely with an insufferable grin on his face, pointed to a pile of dung.

This sums up the life of Antonio Salieri (Benjamin Evett) in the spirited production of Amadeus being staged at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.  Salieri, an accomplished composer who writes operas for Hapsburg monarchs, dedicates his life to capture the music of God.  Instead, he discovers his own private dung heap in the form of a foul-mouthed former child prodigy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tim Spears).  Salieri is crushed to learn that Mozart, a drunk, womanizing jerk, has a much clearer channel to God’s radio station and can compose the most beautiful music the world has ever known, even while playing billiards.  It drives the devout Italian composer to lose both his faith and his scruples. Continue reading

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Apr 02

Properly and Honestly: MASTER CLASS

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Amelia Broome as Maria Callas; Photo: Rob Lorino

Presented by New Repertory Theatre

A play with music by Terrence McNally
Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA 02472
March 31 – April 21, 2013
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown) Amelia Broome doesn’t use a Greek accent in her portrayal as international treasure and opera superstar, Maria Callas. The audience doesn’t have the luxury of knowing why Broome chose not to use an accent. Broome’s performance is effective without one so the reasons don’t matter.

Master Class is a grand opportunity for non-Classical singers (plebes) to experience the horror and joy that is operatic study. It is a (relatively) cheap vocal coaching for its length and history wrapped in a convenient package. The dialogue is only slightly dramatized for the benefit of the audience. The majority of Callas’ lessons and helpful hints are comments that any voice teacher could and would give her student. The majority of these same lessons and hints are conveyed in a similar manner as well. Continue reading

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Jan 14

Incomplete Sweetness: MARRY ME A LITTLE

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Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

presented by New Repertory Theatre

songs by Stephen Sondheim
conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene
directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
musical direction by David McGrory

Arsenal Center for the Arts
in the Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA
January 6th – January 27th, 2013
New Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) As a songwriter, Stephen Sondheim is better than you.  He just is.

He mastered the art of straightforward musicals with West Side Story and he’s been toying with us ever since.  After figuring out what sappy audiences want in a love song, he’s been not giving it to them, choosing instead to dwell in the tensions and the ambiguities of our romantic natures in lovely, sonic dissonance. Continue reading

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Oct 21

An Incomplete Sentence: RACE

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Photo Credit: New Repertory Theatre; the cast

by David Mamet
Directed by Robert Walsh

presented by the New Repertory Theatre
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
October 14th – November 4th, 2012

New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) It’s become trickier to discuss racism in the post-2008 election era than it was before. We have elected a black president, many hope to say, and that is enough.

Leave it to troublemaking playwright David Mamet to clear his throat amid the quiet in 2009 with his biting and succinct dramatic comedy, Race, now being performed by the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown. His play refuses to rest on recent racial gains, instead showing the trouble beneath the surface, the kind
that otherwise is obscured unless a police officer arrests a Harvard professor or a neighborhood watchman shoots an unarmed teen. Mamet’s script sparks necessary dialogue about an uncomfortable subject, but the flawed storyline of the play, combined with uneven execution by New Rep’s cast, misses the opportunity to create deeper understanding of inherent social inequality. Continue reading

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Sep 16

Brilliance and Bravery in New Rep’s “The Kite Runner”

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The Kite Runner adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler.
Novel by the same name by author Khaled Hosseini.
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue.

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Performances, September 9-30, 2012
New Repertory Theater
Charles Mosesian Theater
Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA 02472

New Repertory Theater Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown) New Rep’s The Kite Runner is adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler from the novel by the same name by author Khaled Hosseini. Director, Elaine Vaan Hogue, interprets her subject with fresh perspective in our post-9/11 world with compassion and ingenuity. Continue reading

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May 07

Horrific Comfort Food: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

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l. to r. Bill Mootos, Ceit McCaleb Zweil, Lovely Hoffman, and Jennifer Fogarty in Little Shop of Horrors. Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Little Shop of Horrors, book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken, New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 4/29/12-5/27/12, http://www.newrep.org/little_shop.php.

Reviewed by Kate Lonberg-Lew

(Watertown, MA) Sometimes you are having a bad day. Sometimes you are in such a bad mood that escapism is the only way to manage.  It was in such a state that I entered the New Rep’s production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. I tell you this so that you will know exactly how steep a hill the cast had to climb in order for me to emerge smiling; which I did. Continue reading

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Apr 22

EPISODE 1 GEEKS, NERDS & ARTISTS Janie E. Howland

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Episode 1:  Geeks, Nerds & Artists Podcast: Janie E. Howland 10 April 2012

Photos of designs below.

Interview with Boston based set designer Janie E. Howland.  http://www.janiehowland.com

Credits include: Long Day’s Journey Into Night (New Rep), The Miracle Worker (Wheelock Family Theatre), History Boys and 5 by Tenn (Speakeasy Stage), Big River (Lyric Stage Company), Tonya & Nancy (Oberon), Breaking the Code (Underground Railway), Spring Awakening and Little Women (Boston Children’s Theatre). Venues include: Weston Playhouse, NSMT, New Rep, ART Instit., Nora Theatre, Stoneham Theatre, Seacoast Rep, Merrimack Repertory, Wheelock Family Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre Studio 210, Opera Boston, Emerson Stage, Barnstormers, Foothills Theatre. Founding member of CYCO SCENIC; MFA from Brandeis University; 2009, 2006 and 1997 winner of the Elliot Norton Award; 2007 & 2006 winner of the IRNE award; part time faculty at Wellesley College and Emerson College; USA local 829.

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