Mar 29

Larceny in Their Hearts: “TopDog/UnderDog”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Suzan-Lori Parks
Directed by Billy Porter

March 10 – April 9, 2017
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning – gunshots

(Boston, MA) Emasculation is something a man allows himself to feel. He can prevent emasculation by choosing not to feel that way. He can choose not to let society’s BS gender roles impact his self-definition of manhood. Flip the script: change how you think to change how you feel. Continue reading

Feb 16

“Baltimore”: Damn Straight it’s About Race

2/9/16 Boston Center for American Performance and New Repertory Theatre present BALTIMORE, A BU New Play Initiative Production by Kirsten Greenidge - Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue - After she’s dismissed from her job in the athletics department, Shelby Wilson becomes Resident Advisor to a group of freshmen—after all, it’ll look good on her resume. She soon discovers that a racially charged incident has set student against student, and it’s up to her to mediate the situation. In this world premiere production, playwright Kirsten Greenidge explores the complexities of racism from the perspective of eight culturally diverse college students. Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave. (Lane-Comley Studio 210) 2016-02-09-BALTIMORE_033.nef - Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

2/9/16- Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

Presented by Boston Center for American Performance and
New Repertory Theatre at the Boston University Theatre
By Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

February 10-28, 2016
Boston University Theatre
Lane-Comley Studio 210
264 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) I know what you’re thinking. Oh great, another play about race. And yes, this is a play about race. But the problem people don’t see in this thought process is that art exists as a response to society and our experiences living in it. Plays about race would not need to be written if we did in fact live in a post-racial society. So yes, this is a show about race, and if that bothers you then you are exactly the person that needs to see this play. Continue reading

Jan 16

At War With Each Other: DISGRACED

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Co.
Written Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Gordon Edelstein

Jan. 8 – Feb. 7, 2016
BU Theatre
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Disgraced tackles the complicated conundrum of existential humanity. One of the most trying aspects of existing is reconciling our darkest impulses against pointless altruism. For an example unrelated to the show, one can rashly wish the perpetrators of a horrendous crime to wither slowly in the blazing fires of Hell while still feeling compassion for the perp’s family. Meanwhile, expressing neither of these thoughts out loud. Simply wishing to be lawfully good does not eradicate one’s potential for committing chaotic evil acts. If so, the behavioral teachings of religion, say, would be unnecessary. Humans are complicated beasties. Continue reading

Nov 23

Festive and Fun: “A Civil War Christmas: an American Musical Celebration”

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Presented by Wellesley College Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel
Music by Daryl Waters
Directed by Nora Hussey

November 18 – 22
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
Wellesly, MA
WCT on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

Christmas theatre is a very specific genre that requires a very particular mix to make effective (or even palatable).  The recipe starts with good old-fashioned holiday cheer; add a dash of nostalgia, a hint of history, a generous helping of family values, and (of course) finish with a generous sprinkling of festive music.  Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration has all the necessary ingredients for the Christmas genre, but actually performing it requires a special touch.  The piece’s simplistic dialogue which features such tropes as characters telling you who they are before they begin to speak (“In the West Wing of the White House, President Lincoln’s maid was cleaning the floor…. Hi, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show tonight?”) that have the danger to edge this play towards the realm of children’s theatre cheesiness, or satirical campiness. Continue reading

Nov 16

Black Nuns are Supposed to be Funny: “SISTER ACT”

Photos©Paul Lyden

Photos©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner
Additional Book Material by Douglas Carter Beane
Based on the Touchstone Pictures Motion Picture Sister Act written by Joseph Howard
Direction and Choreography by Kevin P. Hill
Music direction by Andrew Bryan (with an assist by Adrian Ries)

November 3 – 15, 2015
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) What do you do with a musical version of a 90’s comedy that doesn’t age particularly well? You try and set it in the 70’s and hope for the best. The North Shore Music Theatre cast of Sister Act is winsome at times, but not crisp enough to transcend the problematic source material. Continue reading

Oct 12

Thank You Capt. Obvious: “appropriate”

Photo by Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots

Photo by Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co.
Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara
Fight choreo by Angie Jepson
 
Sept. 12 – Oct. 11, 2015
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook
 
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) It should not take a white person to teach another white person that racism exists. And yet, the case almost always is that white people can’t simply trust the experiences of black people. No, frequently a white person has to verify from other white people that POCs across the color spectrum aren’t lying for attention or handouts. Racism exists. It isn’t going away just because a group of old white men decided they don’t want to fight against it anymore (see the US govt.).

Enter: Jacobs-Jenkins’ appropriate. The Lafayette family has returned to their crumbling Arkansas plantation to hash out Father Lafayette’s hoarding problem, loans, and bigotry. Childhood was hard on them and everyone feels entitled to an apology they aren’t going to get. This entitlement wrapped in bitterness seeped in brittle pain results in violent arguments instead of the reunion they were hoping for. Continue reading

Jun 16

Sanitized Motown: DREAMGIRLS

Photo©Paul Lyden

Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book & lyrics by Tom Eyen
Composed by Henry Krieger
Directed & choreographed by Nick Kenkel
Music direction by Jesse Vargas

June 2-14, 2015
North Shore Music Theatre
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA 01915
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Sometimes, a musical is cursed with potential. The action on stage may be enough to bring the crowd to its feet, but you can still walk away thinking it should have been something more. Continue reading

May 30

Don’t Trust the Process: THE SUBMISSION

Photo via Zeitgeist Facebook page

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Co.
by Jeff Talbott
Directed by David J. Miller

May 5 – 30, 2015
Plaza Black Box
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Let me preface this review with the following: It is near impossible to have a frank discussion about institutional oppression and personal culpability/responsibility without becoming defensive or offended. If you are a white person who hasn’t closely examined your personal involvement as either an actual or potential racist, it is highly likely that you engage in racist behavior and don’t even know it. If you think it’s OK to affect a lisp and ridicule gay people because you “have gay friends,” you’re likely a homophobe. If you treat either gay people and/or people of color as not “normal,” you’re probably one, the other, or both. Casual racism/homophobia isn’t a POC/LGBTQ+ issue. It’s a failing of the white/hetero, cis members of society convinced that the fight against oppression ends when it becomes inconvenient to fight. It is possible to consider yourself a good person and still be rotten with racism or homophobia. Continue reading

Mar 03

There Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Dame: THE MOUSETRAP

mousetrap_logo

Presented by Theatre@First
Written by Dame Agatha Christie
Directed by Michael Haddad

Feb. 27 – March 7, 2015
Unity Church
6 William Street
Somerville, MA
T@F on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, I have worked with Theatre@First as an actor and as a crew volunteer. It is my firm belief that only a narcissistic ass would allow something like that to color their review.

(Somerville, MA) If you can’t keep a secret, chances are that you’d make a terrible murderer but a great victim. Seymour R. Goff’s famous advert for Seagram Distillers Corporation cautioned that “loose lips might sink ships.” It was in use by 1942 by the US Office of War Information. Across the pond, British allies were told to “keep mum” lest their thoughtless chatter accidentally leak information to Nazi sympathisers. The wartime influenced Mousetrap (1952), was rewritten as a radio play called Three Blind Mice (1947) after originally being written as a short story, argues quite strongly for keeping personal, potentially damning information quiet. It makes a very strong case for background checks. As for the guests staying at Monkswell Manor, they likely would have survived unscathed had they checked references and kept their noses clean. Continue reading

Jan 30

That Which Makes Us Different Makes Us Beautiful: BREATH & IMAGINATION

Elijah Rock, Nehal Joshi and Harriet D. Foy Photo credit: Mike Ritter

Elijah Rock, Nehal Joshi and Harriet D. Foy
Photo credit: Mike Ritter

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created/written by Daniel Beaty
Directed by David Dower
Music directed/accompanied/arranged/additional music by Jonathan Mastro

Jan 27 – Feb 08, 2015
Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook
Roland Hayes (School of Music) on Facebook, Wiki

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Black lives matter: Racism is alive and thriving everywhere. “But it’s 2015,” people will cry. Right, it’s 2015 and racism is still alive and thriving in Boston. To prove a point: check out which art makes the most money. For an institution greatly concerned with artistic expression, remaining significant in an ever modernizing world, and pushing boundaries, opera tends to steer clear of non-White people. Opera includes POCs in its casting but its stories are mostly about White people. Roland Hayes, first Black man to sing a concert at Symphony Hall would be an excellent subject for an opera.  Thank the great goodness that there’s Breath & Imagination to educate the masses. Continue reading