Dec 28

Williamstown Theatre Festival Releases “Animals” & “Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club” on

Williamstown Theatre Festival 

Audible/theater titles

Reviews by Kitty Drexel

AUDIBLE — Williamstown Theatre Festival and Audible present Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour beginning on December 17. Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club by Shakina Nayfack is available starting tomorrow, December 29. We were given access to both early in order to write these reviews. 

Thank you to the Williamstown Theatre Festival for the advanced access!
Happy New Year, everyone! We’ll see you in 2021.

Kitty Drexel, the Queen Geek

Written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour 
Directed by Whitney White
sound design by Fan Zhang
Assistant direction by Tyler Thomas
Featuring: Madeline Brewer (Coleen), Jason Butler Harner (Henry), William Jackson Harper
(Yaw/Jason), and Aja Naomi King (Lydia)

Summary: Lydia (Aja Naomi King) and Henry (Jason Butler Harner) and their dinner guests Colleen & Yaw/Jason (Madeline Brewer and William Jackson Harper) are having a contentious evening. They’re constantly arguing about minor details, fragile egos are consistently bruised, and the wine bottle remains uncorked. Unspoken insecurities and dark secrets are revealed after Henry proposes to Lydia. Animals attempts to examine why marriage and relationships bring out the best and worst in people. This play has themes of race, class, gender, cancel culture, identity, and familial bondage. Continue reading

Dec 27

An Interview with Liars & Believers About Their Upcoming Project, “Beyond A Winter’s Day”

“To Bed To Bed” & Vasalisa The Blessed” written by Rachel Wiese
“Malka and the Behema” written by Jesse Garlick
Directed by Jason Slavick
Costume design by Kendra Bell
Puppet design by Faye Dupras
Shadow puppet design by Rebecca Lehrhoff
Mask design by Becca Jewett
Video editing by Sam Powell
Original music by Carlos Odria
Featuring: Rachel Wiese, Rebecca Lehrhoff, Glen Moore, Jesse Garlick, Cynthia Hu, Carlos Odria, Singer Mali

More information about their upcoming performances in January will be available via the LAB website:

Interview by Kitty Drexel

EMAIL — The good, creative folks at Liars & Believers held two preview workshops of their upcoming production Beyond a Winter’s Day on December 17 and 20. They generously answered some questions over email about their work, the pandemic, and their hopes for the New Year. Please keep reading for responses. 

Thank you Jason, Jesse, Glen, Cynthia, Rebecca, and Rachel! We look forward to Beyond A Winter’s Day in January. We hope all of your New Year wishes are liberated into being with bright joy, cheer and grace.


Queen Geek: Please talk about your role in the show.  

Jason – I’m Jason Slavick, the Artistic Director of Liars & Believers, and the director of the show. I provide the guiding vision for the whole project and I shape each individual element. I’m much like a conductor in an orchestra. The individual artists play their parts, but I shape the tempo, the tone, and the overall feel. I try to create opportunities for the other artists to express themselves. And I try to help them do their best work. My biggest job is to make sure you in the audience feel engaged and understand what’s going on.

Jesse- I’m Jesse Garlick, an artistic associate with Liars & Believers as well as being the company’s director of education. I wrote Malka and the Behema as well as performing with the puppets in the piece. I also perform in the final piece, To Bed To Bed, as Rabbit. And lastly I play Stanislov in the interstitial pieces.   

Glen- I’m Glen Moore an artistic associate with Liars & Believers. I helped to devise and build content for the original production of “A Story Beyond” which was the inspiration for this online version. In this zoom production I play the storyteller Fargus, perform puppetry in the story Malka and the Beheyma, and lastly I don the mask of Bear in the story To Bed To Bed. 

Cynthia – I’m Cynthia I am the zoom master of the show. I control all the tech behind what you see and make sure “the magic” happens on time. Outside of the show I’m an actor and I’m pursuing my MFA in acting at The Actors Studio Drama School.

Rebecca- I’m Rebecca Lehrhoff, an Artistic Associate with Liars & Believers. I’ve worked with the company since 2014. I helped devise the content for both “Beyond A Winter’s Day” as well as the original 2018 production the show is inspired by, “A Story beyond.” In addition to playing Mishka and the mole, I designed, created and performed (along with Rachel Wiese) the shadow puppetry for Vassilisa the Blessed.

Rachel- And I’m Rachel Wiese, an Artistic Associate with LAB. I worked on writing and devising the original “A Story Beyond” and performed as Isabel in that production. For Beyond a Winter’s Day, I again portrayed Isabel as well as Condor and puppeteered (along with Becca) Vasalisa the Blessed. I wrote Vasalisa the Blessed and To Bed, To Bed. I had lots of fun scouting the location for To Bed, To Bed which we shot on Worcester Trust Land near my home in Worcester, MA.  Continue reading

Dec 24

Great Artistry with A Mediocre Title: “A Winter’s Evening”

A still from “A Winter’s Evening.”

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera 
Hosted by reigning Miss Massachusetts Sabrina Victor
Directed by Nathan Troup
Zaira Meneses, Classical Guitarist
Gabriella Reyes, Soprano
Brett Hodgdon, Pianist

Recorded at the Trustees’ Castle Hill at the Crane Estate, in Ipswich, MA
Available on and the BLO website

Critique by Kitty Drexel

OPERABOX — Gabriella Reyes has a gorgeous dramatic soprano voice. Reyes sings repertoire favorites from Puccini and Strauss, traditional Christmas songs, and art song in Spanish. Her concert is a delight and anyone who can should watch it to support her.

High viewing numbers will also encourage the BLO to produce similar concerts. There are many talented, over-educated opera singers in the Boston-area that would stab your grandmother for the chance to perform one of these concerts. I used to be one of them. It’s in everyone’s vested interest for this concert to do well… And, it also happens to be lovely.   Continue reading

Dec 22

A Punk Holiday Cult Classic in the Making: “Mary’s Dark Christmas”

Written by Hayley Spivey
Music & Lyrics by Abbie Goldberg, Aaron Goodwin, Haley Spivey
Toy piano playing by James LaBella
Directed & edited by Andrew Child
Art direction by Andrew Child
Puppet knitwear & opening sequence artwork by Sara Kenny
Reindeer & snowman puppet by Joe Wood
Exterior of Mary’s House by Hayley Spivey
Ink & watercolor images by Lou Lim
Featuring: Ben Astrachan, Alex Casillas, Ethan Child, Becky Ittner, Dylan Scott, Kayla Shimizu, and Michael Herschberg

Premier on December 17, 2020
Eternally on YouTube

Review by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — Punk is not dead. Mary’s Dark Christmas is the most hardcore thing I’ve seen this year, and my housemate had COVID-19 before we knew what caused it or how it was spread.

In this deep dive into the twisted depths of Spivey’s conscious mind, third-grader Mary Christmas (Becky Ittner) goes on a bender of junk-punching tantrums because Santa (as himself) cancels Christmas. Jeff Bezos (Jack Brewer) swoops in to save capitalism with his Naughty or Nice program™. He believes “that everyone has the right to infect and kill their grandparents so they can see a few presents under their tree.” Continue reading

Dec 18

Williamstown Theatre Festival Releases “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Photograph 51” on

Williamstown Theatre Festival 

Audible/theater titles

Reviews by Kitty Drexel

AUDIBLE.COM — In April, the Williamstown Theatre Festival announced that it was presenting its seven productions planned for its 2020 season in partnership with Audible, the Amazon streaming service. Below are reviews for A Streetcar Named Desire and Photograph 51.

Additional reviews of Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour and Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club by Shakina Nayfack will post next week.

Happy Streaming!

A Streetcar Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Robert O’Hara
Assistant directed by Nicholas Polonio
Sound design by Lindsay Jones
Dialect coaching by Dawn-Elin Fraser and Deborah Hecht
Intimacy direction by Claire Warden

Featuring: Joel Reuben Ganz (Doctor), Joe Goldammer (Steve Hubbell), Carla Gugino (Stella Kowalski), Carmen M. Herlihy (Eunice Hubbell), Sullivan Jones (Harold Mitchell), Brian Lucas (Young Collector), Audra McDonald (Blanche DuBois), Stacey Raymond (Nurse), Cesar J. Rosado (Pablo Gonzales), and Ariel Shafir (Stanley Kowalski)

Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for a play that first premiered on Broadway in 1947. We assume that readers will have a working knowledge of this Tennessee Williams classic.

This radio drama version of Streetcar requires a listener to engage with it. It’s not something to listen to while driving or finishing a project. The listener will miss out on the actors’ subtleties and new takes on this classic. Audra McDonald, Carla Gugino, and Ariel Shafir use their voices as instruments. They fill silence with artistic nuance. Doing anything more complicated than idle hobby work will take away from the experience of their performances. Continue reading

Dec 13

This is what Economic Depression Looks Like: Boston BID presents “Downtown Holiday Magic”

The Macy’s tree at DTX

Presented by the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID)
With Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Huntington Theatre CompanyChristmas Revels, and Boston Ballet

Running Nov. 24 through Jan 31, 2021
Downtown Crossing, Boston, MA
Boston BID on Facebook

Article by Kitty Drexel

Boston — My delightful wife and I took a stroll through Downtown Crossing today to see the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District’s “Downtown Holiday Magic” decorations. Wreaths are hung on street lamps, flower pots had new holiday arrangements and trees had twinkly lights.

For all of its holiday cheer, and Boston BID is trying its hardest to be jolly, Downtown Crossing is downright depressing. Many DTX storefronts have been shuttered by the pandemic. The three-story Forever 21 is still vacant. Small businesses have been replaced by mega conglomerates that only want your money. A Western Union location that has existed on Winter St since I was in undergrad has gone out of business. Its sign advertising ice cold beverages is still up. This is what an economic depression looks like. Continue reading

Dec 11

Happiest of Holidays to All: SANTA’S HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA!

Presented by Reagle Music Theatre with Eternal Artists NYC 
Written and created by Eternal Artists NYC
Appearances by Joey Cullinane, Justin Long, Shoshana Bean, Leanne Cope, Maria Bilbao, Nati Rabinowitz, Cristina Lucas, Erica Lustig, and more.
Orchestra: Rose van Dyne (Conductor), Sophie Manoloff (Trumpet), Earle Perez (Cello), Miles Plant (Piano/Overture Orchestrations), Michael Brinzer (Reeds), Cosima Ho (Bells)

December 10, 11, 12 and 13 at 12:30 p.m.
Streamed live via Zoom
Viewers are encouraged to reserve screens early. 
Tickets are limited to 120.

Review by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Santa’s Holiday Extravaganza! is a holiday treat! This production injects the mid-day lunch hour with necessary levity. 2020 might be the worst of years since 2008, this week’s musical and dance potpourri brought to us by Reagle Music Theatre and Eternal Artists NYC shows us that festive celebration is good no matter the medium. 

December productions of A Christmas Carol are a tradition. Theatre companies do their darndest to infuse new life into this exhausted classic. A new show, unrelated to the Dickens story is a welcome change to the theatre landscape.  Continue reading

Dec 08

ImprovBoston Closes Doors on 40 Prospect St After 15 Years: An Interview with Managing Director Josh Garneau

ImprovBoston’s mainstage. Image found via Google.

ImprovBoston website
IB on Twitter
IB on Facebook

Interview by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, MA — On December 1, ImprovBoston officially announced the closure of its location on 40 Prospect Street in Cambridge. A letter to the greater improv community explaining the closure is on the IB website above an update from its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and a Black Lives Matter statement. 

I had the great privilege of working at ImprovBoston for a few years during the Great Recession. It was then that I met Managing Director Josh Garneau. He was a tech in the IB lighting booth. I was working in the box office when it was one clunky desktop connected to a printer that usually worked most of the time. Except when it didn’t. 

Garneau and I reconnected ten years at a StageSource event. When I heard that the 40 Prospect Street location had closed, its stage torn down, I reached out to Garneau to learn more about what losing the theatre will mean for the ImprovBoston community. 

Please note: this interview is edited for grammar and clarity.


NETG:  We know each other because we both worked at ImprovBoston. I worked in the Box Office and you were a tech in the booth performances. Could you tell me about your evolution as a tech to MD? What was it about the IB community that allowed you to rise through the ranks? 

JG: This is a fun question, and it brings up many good memories! 

As the Lead Tech at ImprovBoston I was involved with most of the endeavors at the theater. From working with our regular performers, admin, and night time staff, to interacting with our special guests and festival performers, I had to meet everyone and work with everyone. I also got involved with a lot of the behind the scenes operations. In the 10 years that I was there before I stepped in as Managing Director, if something happened in the building there was a good chance that I was involved.

Through those ten years I built up and maintained a lot of positive relationships and good will. I earned trust and respect from the vast majority of the people I worked with. 

At the same time my various professional day jobs involved learning about how businesses run. As a corporate trainer I had to learn what makes a business successful, and understand it thoroughly enough that I was able to pass that along to my trainees. 

When the time came to step in at ImprovBoston I was able to combine the two paths – the knowledge of the theater and my positive relationships, and my corporate knowledge – so I could step in and really take over and set to work immediately. 

By being a part of the ImprovBoston community, I was able to build and develop those relationships and the intimate knowledge of the theater that has been an invaluable part of my life as the Managing Director. I know ImprovBoston inside and out, and while I may not know every single human involved, I know our community and they know me. That personal connection has made all the difference. 

NETG: Closing the 40 Prospect space feels like a major blow to the ImprovBoston community. Could you talk about the decision to close the space? How was the decision made? 

JG: Yes indeed. Losing the space is a huge blow to both the community and to the business as a whole. The space at 40 Prospect holds so many memories and has such an outsized impact on the lives of the community members who used it as a gathering place, a performance space, a social epicenter, and a place where artistic ideas could be brought to life. 

The exterior of ImprovBoston. Image found via Google.

The decision to close the space was really, in many ways, the easiest choice of all. By the time we made the call it wasn’t as much a choice as it was a necessity. We were out of money to keep paying rent, and we were out of options. At the end, it was either let go of the space, or shut down the organization all together. All of the decisions leading up to that point are where the challenges were. 

When the pandemic first hit we chose to go dark before the State announcement in order to make sure we kept our community and audiences safe. Within a few weeks we’d pivoted and spun up online shows and classes. They were novel and fun ways to provide entertainment, stay connected, and make sure that our instructors could continue to earn some income. It was a new world we were living in, and we wanted to provide a space for people to experience joy. Simultaneously we also began aggressively fundraising. 

For most of ImprovBoston’s history, we’ve been operationally funded. Our shows and classes paid for everything, and fundraising was never the priority. Overnight that changed, and we found ourselves shifting to a model where fundraising was the priority. The online classes and shows couldn’t generate nearly enough income to pay the bills. 

Based on the numbers, we made another big choice to furlough the staff and stop treading water with online shows and classes. By furloughing we could conserve funds, and spend them on rent and other essentials. The goal was to keep fundraising (which we did!), and hope for more federal and local aid as we rode out the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, the aid never came. The Feds stalled out, and the state and local aid wasn’t enough. The grants and donations we have received have been wonderful and have helped us stay afloat this far.

NETG: Did you speak with the City of Cambridge and your landlord to try to stay? 

JG: We did attempt to work with the landlord, but they only offered a partial deferment on the rent which added to our debt while still being too much to support.

The City of Cambridge, and in particular Alanna Mallon, are very supportive and we’ve heard over and over that they want us to succeed. At the end of the day, though, the rent and our other non-negotiables have just been too much to support, so we had to make the hard choice based on necessity. 

NETG: Could you speak to the resiliency of the community during the pandemic? 

JG: The community has been amazing. Outright amazing. I’ve loved seeing people’s willingness to help the theater, and their ability to spin up art and creativity in the most challenging of times.

At the start of all of this, everyone had to take a breath and look around and define the new world we live in. Almost immediately the wonderful, creative, and talented people of our community started spinning up shows. Faster than any of the scripted companies could move, our community had dozens of shows up on running. 

Even after the theater went dark, many people have moved over to other platforms and groups to keep on producing the art, and it’s been wonderful to see. At the same time, people have jumped on everything ImprovBoston needs, from fundraising to helping clean out our space, and it’s pure ImprovBoston magic. We may no longer have the space, but the people at ImprovBoston are what makes it special, and they’ve proven that over the last 9 months by continuing to be creative, supportive, and caring. 

NETG: Where can we see more ImprovBoston content online? Are online classes still available? 

JG: Right now we are entirely dark. No shows, no classes, and no content. That will change in the future, but for now we are still, unfortunately, dark. The website will be the best place to look for announcements, and as changes come we will also post on social media.

NETG: What is next for ImprovBoston? What does the future look like?

JG: This is the (literal) $1,000,000 question. This is all theoretical, of course, but for the short term we are continuing to look at grants so that we can keep paying rent at our office space on Mass Ave, and spin up online classes.

As it becomes safe to have even small numbers of people in the room we will begin to bring people in to do shows on a real stage, together, but stream those shows out rather than performing in front of a live audience. We have received so many incredible offers of support form other theaters and venues around the metro area. There will probably be a time when we move to doing traveling shows – the traditional path of troupes without home theaters. 

Long term, although we hope it is within the next year, the goal is to have a capital campaign and acquire a new space. This will be a huge endeavor, and it will be made even harder because of the effects of the pandemic and our lack of a stage to play on. I believe, however, in the strength of the ImprovBoston community and I believe that, if any place can do this, it’s ImprovBoston. 

To state the obvious, losing a performance space is not a good thing for a theater. We’ve lost our platform, our primary revenue earner, and our easiest way of staying relevant and in the forefront.

However, there’s a lot of hope to be found. If we have to start over we have an enormous opportunity to do it right. To make an inclusive and equitable space for everyone – performers, staff, students, and audience  – where we can really showcase the power of improv and ImprovBoston to change lives positively and bring joy to the lives of our constituents. I am ridiculously excited to see that place manifest. 

NETG: How can fans and friends support ImprovBoston? 

JG: For right now, the best way to support is to keep thinking of us, and pay attention to our website for updates. When it’s time for us to release online classes or shows, sign up! If there is some extra cash lying around is the place to send it. There is so much hope for our future, but it’s a lot easier to get there if we have money to get us through this rough time. 

NETG: ImprovBoston is famously hands-on. Construction projects bring folks from many troupes together to build. Do you think there be a community-wide building project to construct the new space? 

JG: As you say, we are a hands-on place. Community involvement is essential to us, and the process of building a new space will be no different. When you physically build a new theater home, you are invested. We will be welcoming of that investment. I don’t know what that will look like as of now – but I do know that in some way shape or form our community will be involved. There will be a chance for a new generation of people to roll up their sleeves and get involved! 

Thank you to Josh Garneau for sharing his time and experiences with us! We at the New England Theatre Geek wish the best for the ImprovBoston community. We look forward to a time when we can share live comedy  with you again. 

If can donate to ImprovBoston, please go to 




Dec 04

Do Not Forget to Breathe: “in the absence of things (work in progress)”


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Commissioned by Krannert Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center (New York), and ArtsEmerson. This event is also presented in partnership with the National Black Theatre.
Writer and Performer: Somi
Director: Mariona Lloreta
Producer: Priscilla Nzimiro Nwanah
Editor: Victor Xavier Monzó
Sound Designer: Justin Ellington
Cinematographers: Sara Escobar & Jon Lowenstein
Lighting Designer: Michael Williams
Set Designer: Priscilla Nzimiro Nwanah

Live screening on Dec. 01, 2020 at 7PM
On Demand viewing Dec. 1 @ 9:30PM – 15 @ 6:00PM

Review by Kitty Drexel

ArtsEmerson/On Demand — in the absence of things is a ritual. Applause starts the film and fades to silence. Vocalist & songwriter Somi is presented with her back to us on an altar in darkness and shadows. She lies on trifold swathes of champagne, white, chocolate, and bronze fabrics while cradled from three sides by delicate purple flowers and greenery. Thin branches stand tall as if reaching to the heavens. Virtuosic piano music plays as a voice the texture of noil silk says in voice-over, “In the absence of things, there is breath.”  Continue reading

Nov 24

One Comedy, One Drama, Both Based in Reality: New Rep’s Showstopper Virtual Play Series

Showstopper Virtual Play Series
Presented by New Rep Theatre
Premieres by Alexis Scheer and Miranda Austen ADEkoje

November 21 – December 13, 2020
Performances will be audio described by Cori Couture on Saturday, 12/12 at 7:00pm and Sunday, 12/13 at 4:00pm.
Over Zoom
New Rep on Facebook

“A Very Herrera Holiday”
By Alexis Scheer
Directed by Sarah Shin
With Amanda Figueroa 

By Miranda Austen ADEkoje 
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
With Jasmine M Rush  

Review by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — New Rep’s “A Very Herrera Holiday” and “[keyp-ing]” are two plays about women who have had enough. In the former, Emma Herrera (Amanda Figueroa) uses her DIF crafting Youtube stardom to celebrate the holidays with a family recipe for coquitos. “[keyp-ing]” chronicles Monica Jenae’s personal fight against white supremacy as Boston-area freelance commercial producer.   Continue reading