Jun 27

Laura Neill’s “DIVAS”

The ensemble

Presented by OperaHub in collaboration with DIVA Museum
Written by Laura Neill
Produced and Stage Directed by Adrienne Boris
Music Directed and Collaborative Piano by Patricia Au
Starring Chelsea Beatty, Kathryn McKellar, Lindsay Conrad, Glorivy Arroyo, and Christie Lee Gibson

June 21 through 30, 2018
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston
OperaHub on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, Massachusetts) DIVAS is a new play by the writer and educator Laura Neill.  It is being performed for the rest of this week in a black box at the BCA.  On the Sunday I attended, the black box was very warm. The man sitting next to me repeatedly wiped the sweat trickling down his brow, and half the audience was skimming through their programs, while the other half fanned their perspiring faces.  The small theatre’s high temperature didn’t seem to bother most of the patrons, who had either greying or thoroughly whitened hair. OperaHub’s noble mission is “to present high-caliber, affordable, and accessible classical music to a wide community of music and art lovers,” but looking around the audience, it was easy to remember that the classical music community remains mostly white and older. Continue reading

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Jun 25

BeBe Winans was “Born for This”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Original Music and lyrics by BeBe Winans
Book by Charles Randolph-Wright, BeBe Winans and Lisa D’Amour
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
Choreographed by Warren Adams
Orchestrations, Arrangements, & Music Direction by Steven Jamail
Starring Milton Craig Nealy, Kirsten Wyatt, Phillip Brandon, Matthew Griffin, and Donald Webber, Jr.

June 15 through July 15, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Downtown Boston, MA)  Born for This was the musical biography of soul gospel musician Benjamin “Bebe” Winans, a Detroit native who began his career releasing albums with his sister Priscilla “CeCe” Winans from 1984 through 1996.  In 1989, BeBe won a Grammy for Best Male Soul Gospel Performance. In 1997, he signed with Atlantic Records and released his first of seven solo albums. That same year, BeBe delivered the international hit “I Wanna Be The Only One,” which featured British soul trio Eternal and topped the UK Singles chart in May 1997.  Throughout his career, Bebe has collaborated other Grammy award winning R&B vocalists – such as Stephanie Mills, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder.
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Jun 11

“A Chorus Line” as a Period Piece

Wahle as Zach with Ensemble. Photo by Herb Philpott.

Presented by Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett
Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Originally Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian
Direction; Recreation of the Original Choreography by Leslie Woodies
Music direction by Dan Rodriguez
Assistant Director/Assistant Choreographer – Lauren Gemelli

June 7 through 17, 2018
Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
617 Lexington St., Waltham, MA 02452
Reagle on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Waltham, Massachusetts) I had never seen A Chorus Line so, for readers who are unfamiliar with this 1975 Broadway musical about life in show biz, please let me provide a brief summary.  On a bare stage, a group of dancers bring their headshots and personal histories to an audition where they share their birth names, stage names, birthdays, and ages, as well as their most formative life experiences.  There was a tough boy from the Bronx, another guy from a big Italian family, a saucy woman who flirted with the director, and fifteen more performers – all with large and extremely memorable personalities. Continue reading

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Jun 07

Ready for “A Piece of My Heart”

Photo credit: Nile Scott Photos

Presented by Wellesley Repertory Theatre
Written by Shirley Lauro
Suggested by the book by Kevin Walker
Directed by Nora Hussey
Starring in the sensational ensemble:  Victoria Georgia, Marge Dunn, Ariela Nazar-Rosen, Sarah Lord, Jenna Lea Scott, Andres Lyman, Danny Bolton, and Alan White

May 31 through June 24, 2018
Wellesley Repertory Theatre
The Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
106 Central St, Wellesley, MA
WRT on Facebook

Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Wellesley, Massachusetts) A Piece of My Heart is a drama about five nurses and one singer who voluntarily travel to Vietnam for one year during the Second Indochina War.  This cast of patriots did a terrific job recreating the emotional bonds of friendship that form between those in war zones. Continue reading

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Jun 04

Fingers in “Cold Blood”


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Original idea by Michèle Anne De Mey
Produced by Astragale ASBL
Co-produced by Charleroi Danses

May 30 to June 3, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Downtown Boston, MA)  The show began with a narrator sonorously incanting:  “It’s dark. You hear a voice. That voice will count to three, and at three you will be asleep.  One. Two. Three.” Continue reading

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May 29

Eyes on the Future: “The Legend of Georgia McBride”


Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Written by Matthew Lopez
Directed by Russell Garrett

May 3 through 20, 2018
Greater Boston Stage Company on Facebook
395 Main St, Stoneham, Massachusetts 02180

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Stoneham, Massachusetts) This was a production ostensibly about an Elvis Presley impersonator, but it turned out to be an entertaining tale about much more – 1960s billboard music in general, dance as freeing self-expression, femme identity, family, marriage, and pregnancy.  On a warm spring day, a pal and I attended the last show of the play’s run, and The Legend of Georgia McBride was an absolutely perfect performance for that breezy Sunday afternoon.  Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham is a comfortable venue, and everyone loved the music featured throughout the play.  Ushers tapped their feet. Patrons around me snapped, clapped, and sang along. The actors infused the story with a hopeful and happy energy that kept the audience laughing, commiserating, intrigued, engaged, and enthusiastic. Continue reading

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May 11

“DIANA!” – sketch comedy for millennials born in the mid-1990s

Presented by ImprovBoston
40 Prospect St, Cambridge, MA
Friday, 4 May 2018 @ 10pm
Next performance is June 8, 11PM
IB on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Central Square, Cambridge) DIANA! was marketed as an all-women musical to be performed by a cast of passionate comediennes who celebrate imperfection, and this was the only preparation patrons were provided, because that’s how it goes in the improv comedy circuit.  Late night audiences show up, some degree of inebriated and half-heartedly hoping our performers are capable of spontaneously spurning out sunny slapstick satire. The cast of DIANA! had their assignment – to parody imperfection – and they did a terribly terrific job of mocking classy “classic people” and laughing at highbrow literature. Continue reading

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May 08

A Majestic “Migration”


Presented by Step Afrika!
Produced by 
ArtsEmerson
Choreographed by Jakari Sherman, Jackie Semela, Paul Woodruff
Percussionists: Artis Olds, Jakari Sherman, Andrew Vinson

May 3 through 6, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

“One of the most important functions of jazz has been to encourage a hope for freedom, for people living in situations of intolerance or struggle.”  –Herbie Hancock, jazz pianist and bandleader

(Boston, Massachusetts)  I could feel the crackling energy of the show, even before it started.  I could anticipate that it’d be a layered and textured theatrical experience that engaged the audience, even before dancers and musicians arrived on stage.  I am a person who is always listening to music. Likewise, I’m a patron who yearns for a show’s soundtrack to play both before and after the performance, as well as during its intermission.  The recording of African drum music, peppered with the rattling of gourds and the rhythmic clapping of hands, was vitalizing and encouraged a social atmosphere before the show began. Most patrons were out of seats, strolling around, greeting each other, standing in small circles having spirited conversations, smiling while sipping drinks; it was the pre-party I always wished for. Continue reading

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Apr 23

“Cabaret” : Red Lights & Secrets

Aimee Doherty* Photographer: Tom Shoemaker

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Based on stories by Christopher Isherwood
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Music by John Kander
Book by John Masteroff
Directed by Rachel Bertone
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez

April 14th thru 29th, 2018
BCA Calderwood Pavilion
Wimberly Theater, Boston
Moonbox on Facebook

Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Boston, Massachusetts) I assume that unlike many in the audience at the Wimberly Theatre, I went to the Calderwood Pavilion knowing nothing substantial about Cabaret and naïvely expecting lots of eye-high rockette dance moves.  Seated with friends before the show, I opened up a program and encountered a quote by Christopher Isherwood, the British-American novelist who holds a principal place within my private imaginative world.  This quotation was from Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, upon which Cabaret is based, and it goes “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Someday, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”   Continue reading

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Apr 02

“A Dead Man’s Diary”: A Sacred Love for Theatre


Presented by Arlekin Players Theatre
Based on the novel by Mikhail Bulgakov
Original stage composition based on the novel written by Igor Golyak and Zhenya Brodskaya
English translation by Yana Minchenko
Composed by Jakov Jakoulov
Directed by Igor Golyak
Choreographed by Victor Plotnikov

17 March thru 1 April 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Jackie Liebergott Black Box
Downtown Boston, Mass.
Arlequin Players on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Emerson College) A Dead Man’s Diary was a drama performed in Russian, and patrons could request an earplug device that provided English voiceover during the production.  The play begins with our main character Sergei Maksudov writing a novel that is inspired by a dream of his native city and, upon completing this work, Maksudov shares his manuscript with various writers and critics.  One of his readers prompts Maksudov to adapt the book to a play, and thus commences Maksudov’s meanderings through the world of theatre ‒ a sphere where he is scorned by the director of the Moscow Art Theater, Stanislavsky.  At its core, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Theatrical Novel examines a writer’s sacred love for theatre. Continue reading

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