Nov 12

Vintage Neuroses in a Noir Package: “Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror”

Photo via Facebook; the cast at Charlestown Working Theatre.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Produced by special arrangement with the children of Shirley Jackson, and Catalyst Management, LLC. 
By Shirley Jackson
Directed by Mathew Woods
Ensemble: Laura Detwiler, Denise Drago, Lauren Foster, Molly Kimmerling, Amy Meyer, Bob Mussett, Jennifer Taschereau

November 2nd – November 16th, 2019
Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA  02129
The Beasts on Facebook

Trigger warning: psychological horror, emotional trauma, spooky ghosts

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Journeys end in lovers meeting; I have spent an all but sleepless night, I have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very air tastes like wine. I have been frightened half out of my foolish wits, but I have somehow earned this joy; I have been waiting for it for so long.”― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

(Charlestown, MA) imaginary beasts’ latest production, Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror brings the psychological pain of everyday anxiety into sharp focus. The beasts tell six stories adapted from the works of Shirley Jackson in a style that they have named “narrative theatre.” Cast members dictate the action onstage just as a third-person voice narrates the passages of a book.  It looks and sounds like a one or two-person Greek chorus.

The vignettes that make up the production examine the commonplace terrors that women experience on the daily: isolation, powerlessness, and disorder. There is puppetry, mime, and yes, scene narration. The narrators are like impartial babysitters watching their human companions toddle towards danger. They might stop them, but where’s the fun in that?  Continue reading

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Nov 09

African Traditions and European Expectations: “The Magic Flute”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Performed by the Isango Ensemble

Based on the opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto in German by Emanuel Schikaneder

Adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May
Music Arranged by Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis

November 6 – 10, 2019
Open Caption Performance: Sun, November 10, 2PM
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA

The Magic Flute is performed in English, Xhosa, Zulu and Tswana

Review by Kitty Drexel 

(Boston, MA) This weekend the Isango Ensemble returns to Boston for a weekend of performances of The Magic Flute. It is an exceptional performance of a classic, beloved opera. They overhaul Mozart’s composition by obliterating the standards of white, European traditions. Their production instead incorporates indigenous African performance traditions of dance, music, and storytelling. It’s a pleasant culture shock to the senses.  Continue reading

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Nov 07

Nora Theatre Company Seeks 10-Minute Plays for “Sport-a-thon”

Logo via https://www.centralsquaretheater.org

The Nora Theatre Company
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

(Cambridge, MA) The Nora Theatre Company’s new 10-Minute Play Festival, Sport-a-thon is a new play event for New England-based playwrights.

Riding the passion that all New Englanders have for sports of practically every kind, The Nora will be starting a festival of 10-minute plays about sports focusing on the feminine perspective. We welcome bold ideas and innovative forms of performance within these plays and look forward to seeing the many ways that “plays about sports” can be written.

As the Nora’s mission focuses on promoting the feminine perspective, we will be looking for plays that showcase the feminine voice. The Nora strongly encourages female-identifying artists to apply as it is our goal to make your voices heard. Additionally, we especially encourage artists of color, LGBTQ+, and diverse viewpoints to apply for this marathon.

  • Please send applications to The Nora’s Assistant to the Artistic Director, Samantha Stafford at sstafford@centralsquaretheater.org.

Overview
PARTICIPATION: Sport-a-thon uses a committee based selection process to ensure that a diverse set of projects, both in content and message, are selected for this marathon.

SCHEDULE: The Nora Theater Company will begin reviewing new projects starting in January of 2020. The Marathon will take place March 23 and 24, 2020.

RESOURCES: The Nora and Central Square Theater will provide space, technical support/design, and a small budget for performers and directors as determined by the Artist Director.

BOX OFFICE, TICKETING, FRONT-OF-HOUSE: Central Square Theater will provide event RSVP mechanisms through our box office and all contact information is kept for future use. Central Square Theater will provide FOH support.

PUBLICITY: Central Square Theater will provide a level of publicity for the marathon and all publicity will adhere to CST’s union contracts.

ARTISTIC SUPPORT: While you control the development of your project, the Nora’s Artistic Director and Central Square Theater’s Staff will provide advice and aid in the production of your work.

Selection Criteria

  • You must be a New England based playwright
  • Your 10 minute play must involve sports in some way
  • The subject must be focused on the feminine perspective

Selection Process
Your play will be reviewed by a committee in consultation with the Nora’s Artistic Director. You may be contacted by the project curators in order to discuss your project further or clarify certain details.

How to Apply / Contact
Please send applications to The Nora’s Assistant to the Artistic Director, Samantha Stafford at sstafford@centralsquaretheater.org.

Please submit the following:
The Project: Please include a copy of your 10 minute play. The script must be in standard play format, with a title page, a character listing, the setting, props, and any technical requirements or other production considerations. Your name must not appear on the script.

Personal Details: Include a brief bio of who you are and the work you do. Please put all contact information for the playwright, including name, address, telephone number and email address on this page as well.

Please contact Samantha Stafford at sstafford@centralsquaretheater.org with any further questions.

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Nov 05

Accidental Racism is Still Racism: “Admissions”

A nice family moment; photo by Maggie Hall Photography

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company 
By Joshua Harmon
Directed by Paul Daigneault 
Original music and sound design by Dewey Dellay

Oct. 25 – Nov. 30, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont St
Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Please note: this critique contains minor spoilers. 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“I get that there are entitled white men who assume they get a seat without having to do anything to earn it, I do go to Hillcrest after all, and I do have eyes, but I’m actually one of the people working really fucking hard to earn a seat, and every time I get close it’s like, ew! Not You!” — Charlie Luther Mason throwing a tantrum in Admissions by Joshua Harmon.

(Boston, MA)  It’s no longer okay for anyone to say they “don’t see race.” It is bad, very bad to say this now. When one professes that they don’t see race, what they are saying is that they don’t see racism. This statement is a red flag for bigoted behavior. It’s especially heinous coming from liberal-until-inconvenient, white democrats like the ones in SpeakEasy’ Stage Company’s Admissions. We’re supposed to set a better example. 

Continue reading

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Nov 05

It’s Moist-city in Here: “X”

The cast; Photo by Jake Scaltreto.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Alistair McDowall
Directed by Lindsay Eagle
Dramaturgy by Dee Rogers
Violence and Movement Consultant: Sarah Gazdowicz
Scenic Designer: Darren Cornell
Costume Designer: Erica Desautels
Lighting Designer: Connor S. Van Ness
Sound Designer: Kyle Lampe
Special Effects Designer: Lynn Wilcott
Props Designer: Jake Scaltreto
Cast: Cassandra Meyer, David Anderson, Nick Perron, Slava Tchoul, Abigail Erdelatz

Nov. 1 – 16, 2019
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: gore, blood, violence, psychological horror

(Watertown, MA) Flat Earth’s production of Alistaire McDowall’s X is a mind fuck. This psychological horror-ballet with dripping blood, broken minds, and sleep deprivation won’t let its audience get away with mindlessly consuming a performance. And then it pounds it into you so you never forget. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Don’t Tell Me the Odds: “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka”

Photo by Nile Scott.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly
Adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald
Based on the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Directed by Emily Ranii
Music directed by Nathan Urdangen 
Choreographed by Russell Garrett

Oct 25 – Nov. 17, 2019
Boston University
200 Riverway 
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka (2004) should not be confused with the West End and Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently touring in the US (now in Omaha!). Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is not. Both incorporate elements from Dahl’s novel and the two Hollywood movies. They are similar but not the same.  

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka cannot compete with the novel or the movies. Fans of the other Wonka media should view this iteration as the children’s theatre it is and not compare it to its source materials. They will be disappointed. Continue reading

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Nov 01

SpeakEasy Releases Community Expectations

Boston, Mass. – SpeakEasy Stage Company published its Community Expectations, a public page on facilitating respectful conversations for artists, patrons, board members and staff, on its website the afternoon of October 30, 2019.

This list of expectations is a continuation of SpeakEasy’s work towards an inclusive, brave and accessible environment, said the SpeakEasy website. “The only way we can facilitate effective and constructive conversations created by this work is by treating all people with respect,” said the website.

In an email, Community Programs Manager Alex Lonati said, “So much of the SpeakEasy community already feels like a family, and our hope with this Community Expectations statement is that we will continue to create a space where everyone feels welcome and safe to participate and enjoy.”

The theatre company expects artists, patrons, board members and staff to comply with the tenets of the Community Expectations. The conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Respecting all cultural backgrounds and identities.
  • Understanding each individual’s right to be at the theater and enjoy it in their own way while being mindful of those around them.
  • Showing appreciation for the facility and those working within it.

“In this rather tumultuous time, we believe that our community can only benefit from a reminder of the respectful ways to act at the theater, and the fact that everyone is welcome to attend and enjoy art in their own way. If nothing else, we believe this statement will start a conversation and encourage people to really think about how they are impacting the experience of others,” said Lonati.

The website says that anyone who has experienced behavior that has negatively impacted their ability to fully participate the art SpeakEasy creates should reach out to Community Programs Manager Alex Lonati. Community members are also encouraged to contact SpeakEasy staff or the Board of Directors.

“We are here to listen,” says the website.

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Oct 25

Zoe Stuckless, Amber Crollo, Kelly Bachman are Heroes/Harvey Weinstein Continues to Hurt Women

Meanwhile on Twitter and Facebook, Harvey Weinstein won’t learn from his awful behavior. The theatre doesn’t need (any more) people like Weinstein.

The New England Geek stands with survivors. We will believe you if you choose to come forward. You are welcome here. You are not alone. #MeToo

The conversation is ongoing. Search #DowntimeBarNYC for updates.

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Oct 17

Life Smells Weird: “SpongeBob the Musical”

National Tour Cast of The Spongebob Musical. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Presented by the Boch Center Wange Theatre
Based on the series SpongeBob Squarepants by Stephen Hillenburg
Book by Kyle Jarrow
Music by Tom Kitt
Original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani, Lil’ C, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Andy Paley, Tom Kenny, Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg, Blaise Smith & Tom Kitt
Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton
Production conceived and directed by Tina Landau
Choreography by Christopher Gattelli
Music direction by Patrick Hoagland
Music supervision by Julie McBride & Timothy Hanson

October 15 – 27, 2019
Boch Center Wang Theatre
Boston, MA
SpongeBob and Wang Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA)

A SpongeBob Squarepants internet primer: 

  • SpongeBob is a cartoon featured on the Nickelodeon TV network. 
  • SpongeBob Squarepants has a devoted YouTube channel with helpful playlists.
  • Encyclopedia SpongeBobia has a series timeline and community forum for fans.
  • SpongeBob Squarepants has spawned many dank memes. A “dank meme” is colloquial phrase that describes viral internet media of outdated comedic value.  

(Boston, MAThe SpongeBob Musical currently playing at the Wang Theatre is great fun. Tina Landau’s production engages the audience with colorful design and choreography. Tom Kitt’s upbeat, pop score is catchy but thoughtful. It’s a heartening musical comedy that teaches important lessons about friendship, generosity and civic duty.  Continue reading

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Oct 07

The Broadway Facts of Life: “42nd Street”

PREVIEW: The Umbrella Stage Company Presents 42nd Street from The Umbrella on Vimeo.

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company 
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by James Murphy
Musical restaging and new choreography by Lara Finn Banister

September 27 – October 20, 2019
The Umbrella Main Stage 
Concord, MA
The Umbrella Stage on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) 42nd Street is a show-within-a-show jukebox musical serving as a thinly veiled excuse to pair tap dance with 1930’s Broadway hits. The 1933 Depression-era movie had choreography by Busby Berkeley and was nominated for an Academy Award. The movie (and eventually the musical) has deeply impacted musical theatre. Bullets Over Broadway, Kiss Me Kate and other backstage musicals have all been influenced by 42nd Street’s incarnations. It’s a classic but carries with it the problems of its time.   Continue reading

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