Nov 08

A Parody of an Autobiography: Kurt Vonnegut’s MAKE UP YOUR MIND

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Barlow Adamson and Tracy Goss in Kurt Vonnegut’s Make Up Your Mind. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Written by Kurt Vonnegut
Assembled by Nicky Silver
Directed by Cliff Fannin Baker

Oct. 30 – Nov. 30, 2013
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Speakeasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Make Up Your Mind was assembled by Nicky Silver from 11 drafts of an unfinished play written by Kurt Vonnegut. To repeat: this is a play by Kurt Vonnegut and edited by Nicky Silver. It was not thought up and written by Silver. To hear the complaints made about this show, one would think that it was written by meth addled donkeys. If there is fault (and there is), then the fault lies with Vonnegut who didn’t even get to finish the darn thing before his tragic death in 2007. Rather than dwell on the negative, let’s focus on the fact that we get one more nugget of gold from our dearly departed author. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Don’t Fear the Beards: THE HOBBIT

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Andrew Barbato and Stephen Benson. Photo credit: Wheelock Facebook page.

Andrew Barbato and Stephen Benson. Photo credit: Wheelock Facebook page.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien
Adapted for the stage by Patricia Gray
Directed by Shelley Bolman
Original score by Will Holshouser
Fight choreography by Ted Hewlett

October 25th – November 24th, 2013
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA
Wheelock on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) Picture a staging of The Hobbit without copious CGI, but with kids in cute beards rocking outrageous Scottish accents.  Could be good, could be terrible, right?

The thing is that J.R.R. Tolkien, bless his bookish heart, knew jack about pacing a story, and cared even less.  The Hobbit, here interpreted by Patricia Gray, is an episodic yarn that meanders here and there, getting bogged down into bedtime storytelling action by the time the band hits the Misty Mountains.  It works perfectly as bedtime fare for geeks just for precisely this reason; the thing reads like a really rocking night of Dungeons and Dragons.  Things just happen, and your characters get bailed out by the dungeon-master (Tolkien) every now and then to keep the story moving. Continue reading

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Nov 04

A Polite Mugging: MRS. MANNERLY

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Care of MRT Facebook Page

Care of MRT Facebook Page

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Mark Shanahan

October 24 – November 17, 2013
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) I didn’t know there had to be rules about flashback nostalgia stories, but I think I’ve found one….if only I can decide which one.

First, let’s define the genre.  Have you ever seen the movie A Christmas Story or The Wonder Years?  Then you know the kind of show MRT’s Mrs. Mannerly is attempting.  It’s the adult narrator looking back on his precocious tween self, with a wistful smile, to share lessons learned. Continue reading

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Oct 31

Things to Do in Boston When You’re Dead: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

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Presented by the Post-Meridian Radio Players
Adapted by Jay Sekora
Original film script by George A. Romero and John A. Russo
Directed by Jay Sekora and Mindy Klenoff

October 25 – November 2nd, 2013
Responsible Grace Church
Somerville, MA
PMRP on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville) Halloween can be a bit bizarre for those of us in our twenty-somethings.  That weird age bracket when you’re not yet ready to give up the idea that this time of year should be about more than the hum-drum and ordinary; that perhaps there was something to the sugar-coated memories of your childhood walks around the neighborhood in the brisk autumn air wrapped in some crude approximation of a Jedi robe that came from a Party City bag; that perhaps, if you look hard enough, there’s something out there to do that’s not sit at a bar and commiserate with the other “adults” who are still trying hopelessly to deny the fact that they’re too old for free candy from strangers (no matter how good their home-made Hogwarts uniform looks). Continue reading

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Oct 29

A Gore-tastic Romp: EVIL DEAD, THE MUSICAL

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Photo care of Arts After Hours Facebook Page; Ash gets all the hotties.

Arts After Hours
Book and Lyrics by George Reinblatt
Music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris, George Reinblatt
Music Supervision by Frank Cipolla
Additional Lyrics by Christopher Bond Additional Music by Rob Daleman
Directed by Corey Jackson
Music directed by Mario Cruz
Choreographed by Nicole Spirito

October 24, 2013- October 31, 2013 – Act NOW, most shows are sold out!
LynnArts Rantoul Black Box Theatre
25 Exchange Street
Lynn, Massachusetts
Arts After Hours on Facebook

Review By: Kate Lew Idlebrook

(Lynn) It ‘s Halloween. There’s lots to do, so why run to Lynn and spend the evening watching the Arts After Hours production of Evil Dead: the Musical? Because it’s bloody fun. That’s why.

And it doesn’t get much more Halloweeny than this.  It’s a spoof of your typical teenage horror flick, a story we all know well. Five college students go on spring break to a deserted cabin in the woods. They end up confronting an unspeakable evil that promises,  “It’ll be just like you were killed by some guy named Don”. Do you get it? They’ll be dead by dawn. Laughing? Then you’ll love the show. Continue reading

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Oct 29

Faith, Failure, and “The Power of Duff”

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Photo: T.Charles Erickson

Presented by The Huntington Theatre Company
By Stephen Belber
Directed by Peter DuBois

October 23 – November 16, 2013
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont Street
Boston, MA
Hunting Theatre Co on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) In a television studio’s newsroom, sentiment is well known. It’s strange that The Power of Duff’s main conceit is that news anchor Charles Duff (the excellent David Wilson Barnes) scandalizes a nation by praying on air at the end of the show’s broadcast. While the reactions to Duff’s sermons are difficult to swallow, especially in the play’s first half, it’s fascinating to watch the everyday lives of these characters unravel as they reach out to connect with one another. Continue reading

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Oct 28

“Brewed”: Happy Medium Stirs the Pot

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Credit: Debut Cinematic/Karen Ladany

Presented by Happy Medium Theatre Company
By T. Scott Barsotti
Directed by Mikey DiLoreto

October 24th-November 2nd, 2013
The Factory Theater
Boston, MA
Happy Medium on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Happy Medium Theatre and writer T. Scott Barsotti embrace the American gothic tradition with enthusiasm in Brewed. It’s a fully fleshed-out horror story with the bones of a family melodrama, a violent reaction to the ties that bind blood siblings.  The whose story is a creepy creature and a bleakly humorous outing for the Halloween season. Continue reading

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Oct 28

Nuanced Heartbreak: “Water By The Spoonful”

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Photo credit: Mark S. Howard

Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston
By Quiara Alegria Hudes
Directed by Scott Edmiston

Oct. 18th – Nov. 16th, 2013
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
Lyric Stage on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) Behind the People Magazine covers of smiling celebrities announcing sobriety, there is a more jagged and complex tale behind every junkie’s recovery.  Physiologically, the junkie’s brain has been re-wired to seek out new, chemical heights of pleasure, and going clean means settling for a life of just okay.  Psychologically, the task is much harder, as the junkie in recovery must confront the human wreckage of his or her addiction and attempt to make amends, which can be a Sisyphean task. Continue reading

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Oct 21

Marriage Should Only Be a Manageable Annoyance: EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR

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Photos by Theatre on Fire.
It stays this sexy for the entire show.

Presented by Theatre on Fire
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Darren Evans

Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Street
Charlestown, MA 02129
Theatre on Fire on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Charlestown) Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a complicated show. The topic of domestic abuse is a sensitive one. Most media outlets using it as a subject twist reality to create good and evil characters out of common humans. In truth, an abuser isn’t all evil and the victim isn’t all sugar and spice; they are people with flaws like everyone else. Women and children aren’t the only victims of domestic violence (but are the majority of victims), men aren’t the only perpetrators of abuse (again, they are the majority), and abuse isn’t exclusive to heterosexual couples. Exit is a rare jewel of a show because playwright Lauren Gunderson pays proper respect to victims of domestic abuse while spinning a hilarious tale. Her victim isn’t the butt of jokes and her villain isn’t pure, concentrated evil. Continue reading

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Oct 21

Rage Against the Love Machine: ROMEO AND JULIET

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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

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