Mar 16

Inclusive and Intersectional: THE TASTE OF SUNRISE

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Photo by Craig Bailey, Perspective Photo.

Elbert Joseph as Tuc in Mother Hicks at Emerson Stage. Photo by Craig Bailey, Perspective Photo.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Written by Suzan L. Zeder
Composed by Peter Stewart
Directed by Wendy Lement and Kristin Johnson
Choreographed by Patricia Manalo Bochnak

March 13 – 22, 2015
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA
Wheelock on Facebook

PART TWO OF THE WARE TRILOGY, produced with Emerson Stage (Mother Hicks, February 2015) and Central Square Theatre (The Edge of Peace, April 3-12, 2015)

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) In Susan Zeder’s The Taste of Sunrise, Tuc (Elbert Joseph) grows up poor, black and deaf in an ASL-ignorant hearing community in Ware, IL.  At the behest of the well-intentioned Dr. Graham (Donna Sorbello), Jonas Tucker (Cliff Odle) sends Tuc to a school for the deaf to learn how to speak. After years of social solitude, he finally meets kids just like him. They teach him sign; Tuc learns to communicate and to express himself. With help from friends Maizie (Amanda Collins) and Nell Hicks (Brittany Rolfs), discovers what it means to self-discover, to lose and then rebuild one’s identity. Continue reading

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Feb 11

Totally Rad To The Max: Bogart and Lement’s “PINOCCHIO”

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Photo by by Kippy Goldfarb.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Adapted by Steven Bogart and Wendy Lement
Based on the book The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Directed by Steven Bogart
Music directed/composed by Mary Bichner
Choreographed by Patricia Manalo Bochnak
Dramaturg: Kate Snodgrass
Sign Performers: Jola Leary, Adrianna Kathryn Neefus, Desiree Weems Sheppard

Jan. 30 – Feb. 22, 2015
ASL/Audio description: Feb 12,20,22
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA
Wheelock on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Many years ago, when I was a burgeoning opera singer, I attempted to read Collodi’s Pinocchio in the original Italian to learn the language. Pinocchio, originating as a series of short stories in an Italian magazine, is a convoluted tale of dramatic proportions about a little wooden puppet-boy who gets into scrapes only to be saved by those who inexplicably love him. Pinocchio has no social skills, no respect, and no discipline. Yet,his father Geppetto and the Blue Fairy are devoted anyway. I read about ¾ of the book on my journey towards bilingualism. Considering my penchant for justice and the frequency in which Pinocchio is rewarded for his bad behavior, I’m surprised I slogged through as much as I did. Continue reading

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Jan 30

Technicolor Fabulousness: HAIRSPRAY

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Photo by Gary Ng.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Book by Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan. Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman
Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters.
Directed by Susan Kosoff
Musical Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Laurel Conrad

January 24 – February 23rd, 2014
180 The Riverway
Wheelock College
Boston, MA
Wheelock Family Theatre on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) The first act of Wheelock Theatre’s Hairspray is such a great way to dance away the winter blues that it should be prescribed like Vitamin D.  Words fail to do justice in describing this outlandish, energetic, and mirth-filled play, which unfolds like American Bandstand on just a hint of acid, so I’ll just say that I smiled straight through from the downbeat of the opening number until intermission.  Since the second act couldn’t top the first without causing people to disappear to a Nirvana of spastic theatrical comedy, it’s probably just as well that the play trailed off slightly after intermission, like a great joke that leaves you with a fit of the giggles. 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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Apr 29

Spunk without Charm: PIPPI LONGSTOCKING

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Photo by Gary Ng. Sirena Abalian as Pippi Longstocking.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Story by Astrid Lindgren
Adapted for the stage by Thomas W. Olson
Music by Roberta Carlson
Directed by Wendy Lement

Boston, Massachusetts
April 12th – May 12th, 2013
Autism Friendly Modified Performance: Saturday April 27 at 10:00am
ASL/AD: Friday May 10 at 7:30 & Sunday May 12 at 3:00
All performances offer Open Captioning
Wheelock Family Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) Why is everyone in such a hurry to update our iconic and innocent redheads?  A cover for a new edition of Anne of Green Gables ditches her red hair and makes her uncomfortably shapely.  The pigtailed girl in the Wendy’s logo seems to have grown up and has nothing more to do than disparage other peoples’ lunches.  And now we have Pippi Longstocking to add to the list. Continue reading

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Oct 30

Superfluous Songs, Sweet Spirit: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

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Photo credit: Gary Ng; A History of PEI.

Script adapted by Don Harron
Score by Norman Campbell
Directed by Jane Staab

presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA
October 19th – November 18th, 2012
Wheelock Family Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

The Anne of Green Gables franchise is prone to schmaltz. Any literary series that is adored by pre-teen girls, misty-eyed elderly women and Japanese soap opera anime fans can’t help but spin off some over-the-top theater. Few productions can find that young-at-heart sweet spot captured so perfectly by the series’ original creator L.M Montgomery. Anne, the orphan girl who shakes up Prince Edward
Island with her sentimental and vibrant perspective, is the tragic optimist in all of us. Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of the musical Anne of Green Gables largely succeeds in capturing the sweet spirit of the original tale with a strong cast that commits to looking at the world through the unjaded prism of youth. 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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Jan 30

A Well-Done Introduction to a Classic: THE WIZARD OF OZ

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Katherine Leigh Doherty as Dorothy and ensemble in the Wheelock Family Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz. photo by Tony Paradiso.

The Wizard of Oz, By L. Frank Baum, music and lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company, based upon the Classic Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and disbuted in all media by Warner Bros, Wheelock Family Theatre, 1/27/12-2/26/12, http://www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org/feature-performance.aspx.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) If I hear one more mediocre stage actress imitate Judy Garland’s tortured delivery of Dorothy Gale from the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, I will buy the Wicked Witch of the West a poncho.  Inadequate productions of L. Frank Baum’s bizarre story often parrot the rampant overacting of the movie, with disastrous results.

Luckily, Wheelock Family Theatre director James P. Byrne and actress Katherine Leigh Doherty (Dorothy) set a fresh and nuanced tone to their production of The Wizard of Oz, rallying most of the cast to create characters that are both vibrant and familiar.  Continue reading

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Oct 24

Phantom Tollbooth: Topsy-Turvy Family Entertainment

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The Phantom Tollbooth, based on the book by Norman Juster, book by Norman Juster and Sheldon Harnick, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Arnold Black, Wheelock Family Theatre, 10/21/11-11/20/11, http://www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org/feature-performance.aspx.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) A musical adaptation of Norton Juster’s 1961 children’s book of the same name is currently being performed at the Wheelock Family Theater.  With an inventive, bright cast and set, the play is sure to fascinate younger viewers.  Continue reading

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Feb 20

THE SECRET GARDEN: A Magical Secret Worth Sharing

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photo by Gary Ng

The Secret Garden, book and lyrics by Susan Kosoff, Music by Jane Staab, Wheelock Family Theatre, 1/28/11-2/27/11 (including weekday performances 2/22/11-2/25/11), http://www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org/feature-performance.aspx

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

As I was watching Wheelock’s production of The Secret Garden, I wished I was eight again (except for the horrible prospect of growing up again).  Wheelock Family Theatre is a magical place where dreams come alive, and this is particularly evident in their production of The Secret Garden.

One can’t help but be enchanted by the scenery by Matthew T. Lazure.  The garden wall rotates and reveals the inside of the garden, and Colin’s room appears from the walls of the seemingly impenetrable house.  Another clever aspect is the “growth” of the flowers during intermission; I put my head down for one minute–I look up and see leaves; I put my head down for another moment, look up and see flowers in full bloom. Continue reading

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