Dec 09

Fading into the Woodwork: STELLA AND LOU

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Photo by Meghan Moore.

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Bruce Graham
Directed by Charles Towers

November 29th – December 22nd, 2013
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”  Yet many of us cling onto being small all our lives.  Doing a play about that intentional smallness can be tricky without having the play succumb to smallness itself. Continue reading

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Dec 09

Life (Instructions Not Included): BECKY’S NEW CAR

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Photo by Mark S. Howard.

presented by The Lyric Stage Company
by Steven Dietz
Directed by Larry Coen
Production sponsored by Tim & Linda Holiner

November 29th – December 22nd
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) Film, literature and theater are filled with midlife crises.  The plotlines for men offer them the chance to break away from office meetings and drudgery to lead a life of adventure and get the girl (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty).  For women, the midlife crisis plotline offers a chance to break free from the ties that bind, to take a vacation from a family, and to have some great sex (The Bridges of Madison County).  Too often, things either resolve too well or too tragically, but always too neatly.  The explosion.  The choice.  The last goodbye.  Fade out. 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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Nov 25

Nothing is but What Is Not: “Macbeth”

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Presented by F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Joey DeMita
Original Music by Steven Bergman

November 22 – 30th, 2013
Arsenal Center for the Arts
F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Watertown) Some projects require a special touch.  There are, for instance, people who implicitly understand Musicals.  The musical form requires things that other theatre does not: an eye for choreography, an ear for music, an interest in balancing ham and legitimate acting…

Directing Shakespeare is a very specific task that requires a very specific skillset: an ear for rhetoric, an understanding of verse, a knowledge of history, an eye for embedded stage directions… F.U.D.G.E.’s Joey DeMita has none of these skills. Continue reading

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Nov 20

Working out the Humbugs: A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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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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Nov 20

Kissinger Would Have Cried: MISS SAIGON

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Francis Jue (Engineer) in North Shore Music Theatre’s production of Miss Saigon running through November 17, 2013. Photo © Paul Lyden

­Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Music by: CLAUDE-MICHEL SCHONBERG
Lyrics by: RICHARD MALTBY, JR., and ALAIN BOUBLIL
Original French Lyrics by: ALAIN BOUBLIL
Additional Material by: RICHARD MALTBY, JR.
Directed and Choreographed by: RICHARD STAFFORD

November 5th – November 17th, 2013
North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

It’s not often that a soap opera can double as a critique of American foreign policy, but North Shore Music Theatre’s production of Miss Saigon succeeds in creating a surreal love story in which American exceptionalism finds its gory limits. Continue reading

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Nov 15

As The Screw Turns: Simple Machine’s “Turn of the Screw”

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Photo Credit: Kyler Taustin Photography

­­­­

Presented by Simple Machine
By Jeffrey Hatcher; Adapted from the novella by Henry James

November 8-23, 2013
The Taylor House Bed and Breakfast
50 Burroughs St. Boston MA 02130

The Gibson House Museum
137 Beacon St. Boston MA
02116
Simple Machine on Facebook

Good News! The run has been extended.
Saturday, November 23 at 4:30 PM, The Taylor House Bed & Breakfast
Sunday, November 24 at 7:30 PM, The Gibson House Museum

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston) Alright, so, here’s my deal: I wouldn’t say that Henry James is my nemesis mostly because I’m not ready to commit to him that deeply (a nemesis/hero relationship is, after all, a long, complex, and fraught one with ups, downs, and side-plots).  But I will say this: Henry James is at least on the super team of literary villains who have plagued my academic career. Continue reading

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Nov 13

A Grim Giggle at Giving in “The After-Dinner Joke”

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Photo care of Christopher McKenzie

Presented by Whistler in the Dark Theatre
By Carol Churchill
Directed by Meg Taintor

November 7-24, 2013
The Charlestown Working Theatre
442 Bunker Hill Street
Charlestown, MA 02129
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Charlestown) A system has been built around giving to the poor and helping the needy.  Whistler in the Dark’s The After-Dinner Joke is a bleak comedy lampooning a culture that’s been created around charity: those who give to it, those who decide where the money goes, and those still in need when the giving is done.  It’s a show full of pratfalls and particularly British moments of social observation.  The titular joke, however, is overshadowed by grim realizations about human nature. Continue reading

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Nov 13

Homosexuals Are People: “The Normal Heart”

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Photo by Richard Hall/Silverline Images

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
By Larry Kramer
Directed by David J. Miller

November 1 – 30, 2013
Plaza Black Box
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger Warnings: Rape, Proud Homosexuality, Truth

(Boston) Britney Spears thinks that gay people are “adorable and hilarious.” Her quote is terrifying because it is indicative of the thoughts and feelings of the majority of US citizens. For most of the world, only straight people are real™ people. Gay people are fun and quirky but we aren’t real™ people deserving of equal rights and a voice, says society. The LGBTQ get to be characters, sidekicks, and sassy friends who are defined solely by the people with whom we rub nethers (and other fun parts). Spears and people like her are stereotyping an entire community of human beings because it hasn’t occurred to them that we’re also human. Our history, culture and politics are just as rich as the hetero-normative precedent. Continue reading

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Nov 13

BLO Opera Annex: “Lizzie Borden”

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BOSTON LYRIC OPERA continues the 2013-14 season with its Opera Annex production of Jack Beeson’s riveting masterwork:

LIZZIE BORDEN

Sung in English with projected text
Based on a Scenario by Richard Plant
Composed by Jack Beeson
Libretto by Kenward Elmslie
Realized by Todd Bashore (orchestration) and John Conklin (dramaturgy)
Stage Directed by Christopher Alden
Conducted by David Angus

 

 

FOUR PERFORMANCES ONLY: November 20, 22, 23, 24, 2013
The Castle At Park Plaza
130 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
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BOSTON (November 6, 2013)—Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) continues its 2013-14 season with a production of Jack Beeson’s operatic masterpiece, Lizzie Borden, for BLO’s Opera Annex series, in a world premiere chamber version in seven scenes, specially commissioned by BLO and directed by the acclaimed Christopher Alden. Running four performances only, November 20-24, Beeson’s riveting opera captures the dramatic, claustrophobic family portrait based on the sensational Fall River, Massachusetts axe murders that gripped the nation in 1892.

Lizzie Andrew Borden was tried and acquitted in the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts, but here has been controversy ever since about her guilt or innocence. In their opera, composer Jack Beeson and librettist Kenward Elmslie leave no doubt about her murderous culpability, while changing a few details of the well-known story for theatrical reasons. An older sister, Emma, becomes a younger sister, Margret. A suitor for Margret is created, the sea captain Jason McFarlane, and a psychologically convincing backstory for the stepmother, Abbie (her subservient and deeply resented role as a servant-nurse to the dying first Mrs. Borden, Lizzie’s mother) is developed. The Beeson piece was first performed in 1965 as a three act opera.

 

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