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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Oct 04

Boston Theatre Great, Spiro Veloudos Announces Retirement from the Lyric Stage

Image via https://www.lyricstage.com/spiro-veloudos-retirement/

BOSTON – Theatre director Spiro Veloudos announced that he will retire as the Producing Artistic Director of the Lyric Stage Company of Boston in December 2019, said a press release dated October 3.

“Ever since I started in this role in 1998, I promised to make the Lyric Stage ever more vibrant and to continually push my limits, producing shows that would challenge, entertain, and inspire our audiences.

“When I concluded my Sondheim Initiative with the production of Pacific Overtures this past spring, I took the summer off to contemplate what might be next, and I realized that it is time for me to focus solely on my work as a director and to let others manage the daily operations of the theatre and to guide it into the future.

“I am greatly looking forward to my productions of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” this fall and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” in spring 2020. And I hope that moving into this new chapter of my life will allow me more time to relax, enjoy being with friends and family, and focus more exclusively on my true love: directing,” said Veloudos. Continue reading

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Oct 01

Your Fave is Fanfiction: “The Book Club Play”

Becca A. Lewis, Sean Patrick Gibbons, Greg Maraio (with Pepto Bismol), Rachel Cognata; photo by Stratton McCrady.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
By Karen Zacarias
Directed by Shana Gozansky
Dramaturgy by Caity-Shea Violette

Sept. 26 – Oct. 13, 2019
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre 
Boston, MA
BPT on Facebook

“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”
John Waters

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The pop culture obsessions of today are the classics of tomorrow: 50 Shades of Grey is Twilight fanfiction; the Twilight Saga is influenced by Wuthering Heights; Wuthering Heights was controversial in its day for its critical examination of religious hypocrisy, and class inequality within the gothic fiction genre. If the cultural narrative in response to a book shows us who we are as a society, then The Book Club Play at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre shows us that book snobs are insecure secret-hiders.  Continue reading

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Sep 18

On “The Akhmatova Journals,” part of the October 2019 That’s What She Said program at Central Square Theater

That’s What She Said presented by The Nora Theatre Company.
Coming to the Central Square Theater in October 2019!
CST on Facebook

Article by Kitty Drexel.

Playwright Ginger Lazarus; photo via www.gingerlazarus.com.

(Cambridge, MA) Playwright Ginger Lazarus said the journey to write her drama “The Akhmatova Journals” began in 1993 while visiting St. Petersburg, Russia.

Lazarus was completing a semester abroad in Moscow through the O’Neill Center’s National Theater Institute when fellow students invited her to visit the Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House with them. She said during a phone interview in late July that she planned on meeting her classmates there that afternoon but a sudden, touristy apathy convinced her to spend the afternoon sipping espresso in a cafe instead.

“I still kick myself for not going,” Lazarus said.

Lazarus’s play “The Akhmatova Journals” is scheduled for a dramatic play reading as part of the That’s What She Said program held by the Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA. Continue reading

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Sep 16

Completely Natural, Incredibly Beautiful: “The America Plays”

Amanda J Collins and Robert Najarian; photo by Corinne Elicone.

Presented by Mount Auburn Cemetery
By Patrick Gabridge, Mount Auburn Cemetary Artist-in-Residence 
Directed by Courtney O’Connor
Music in All the Broken Pieces written, performed and recorded by Arshan Gailus

September 12, 2019 – September 22, 2019
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Cambridge, MA
MAC on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The America Plays is a pleasant introduction to a select few of the curious residents interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery through theatre. These short plays in place preserve the lives of eight artists, politicians, and scientists while asking their audience to hike the cemetery grounds. It’s a charming way to meet some New England spirits and watch the grounds transition to their fall colors.  Continue reading

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Sep 13

We’re on the Same Side: “The Purists”

J Bernard Calloway and John Scurti; Photo Credit: T Charles Ericksonn© T Charles Erickson.

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
By Dan McCabe
Directed by Billy Porter
Original music by Michael Sandlofer

Aug. 30 – Oct. 6, 2019
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Editor’s Note: This article now includes an addendum by Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston) These are some terms and figures within hip hop culture that viewers should understand to better appreciate The Purists.

These are some terms and figures from musical theatre culture that viewers should understand.

  • Jerome Kern
  • George & Ira Gershwin
  • Bob Fosse 
  • Andrew Lloyd Weber 
  • National treasure, Bob Ross
  • Rapping in musicals
  • Annie + video 
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • Call center/Box office
  • The Golden Age of musical theatre

Oppression isn’t a contest. Virginia is mourning the 400th anniversary of slavery in the US. June 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The ADA wasn’t made law until 1990. The only people who win when marginalized communities fight are the rich, white people who make money from our oppression. No one is free until we are all free. Freedom must be intersectional.   Continue reading

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Aug 27

Riffs, Shimmies, Herstory: “Six”

Anna of Cleves (Brittney Mack, at center) performs “Get Down” in SIX, written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss and directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage.
Photo: Liz Lauren

Presented by the American Repertory Theatre
By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Direction by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage
Music direction by Roberta Duchak
Choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille 

Aug. 21 – Sept. 29, 2019
The Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge MA 02138
A.R.T. on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: sexual abuse of a minor, gas lighting, female objectification

(Cambridge, MA) Six is catchy like Hamilton. They have similar harmonic elements; both borrow heavily from popular music formats. Unlike Hamilton, Six lends its female characters depth beyond the deeds of a man. The women of six will be remembered for more than a shared husband. They’ll be remembered for living and their shared husband.  Continue reading

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Aug 26

Prison is a Place: “Cherry Docs”

The cast; Photo by Tenneh Sillah.

Presented by Acropolis Stage Company
By David Gow
Directed by Evan Turissini
Law practice consultation by Will Korman
Judaism & culture consultation by Becky Price

August 23 – September 1, 2019
The Rockwell
255 Elm Street
Somerville, MA 02144
Acropolis Stage on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

This critique contains minor spoilers. 

Trigger warning: depictions of violence, domestic terrorism, racism, hate speech, panic attacks, white fragility

(Somerville, MA) Cherry Docs may be the most relevant-to-our-times production this theatre season. Other area-productions will claim to be relevant (storytelling often is) but they won’t attack the western world’s ongoing white, male, hetero, cis problem like David Gow’s play. Gow even offers solutions to the problems that our white men create for us. The script isn’t perfect, but it does offer the victims of predatory, toxic male behavior a way out. Cherry Docs a more compassionate play than is credited.  Continue reading

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Jul 23

Laughter Through Tears: “Steel Magnolias”

The Cast; Photo by Tim Gurczak

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Robert Harling
Directed by Paula Plum

July 19 – Aug. 3, 2019
Club Cafe
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA
Hub on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Steel Magnolias is a theatre classic. It can be seen in fringe and community productions across the country. The 1989 movie starring Sally Fields and Dolly Parton has firmly cemented itself into the 80’s pop culture. The 2012 TV-movie starring Queen Latifah and, queen in her own right, Phylicia Rashad introduced a new generation to the story. It has survived well because of its timelessness. There will always be a need for safer-spaces where women can be themselves beyond the emotional and physical labors society demands from them. Hub Theatre’s production nestles into that need.  Continue reading

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Jul 21

Superfans in Cosplay Having the Best Time: “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
Adapted from the book, The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan 
Book by Joe Tracz
Music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki
Directed by Stephen Brackett
Music direction by Wiley DeWeese
Choreography by Patrick McCollum
Fight direction by Rod Kinter
New puppetry design by AchesonWalsh Design Studios

July 17 – 28, 2019
Huntington Avenue Theatre
264 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA
The Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Saturday afternoon’s performance of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical was an event for superfans and their friends. Children in Camp Half-Blood t-shirts and their adults congregated to the Huntington Theatre to watch this musical about modern day children of Greek gods. It’s not a production for everyone; it’s specifically written for devotees to the Rick Riordan book. Theatre-lovers will appreciate the ingenuity of the design team but they should attend knowing that this musical isn’t for them; It’s for fans in their childhood years. Continue reading

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