Dec 03

Castaway Caught in Colonialist Fantasy in “Shipwrecked!”

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Written by Donald Margulies
Original music composed and performed by Dan Rodriguez and the repertory cast
Directed by Allison Olivia Choat

Nov 25 – Dec 29
Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Moonbox Productions on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Halfway through Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, when Louis de Rougemont (Kevin Cirone)–a real person who claimed to have been stranded in the Pacific in his 1899 serial-turned-book–lives on an unspecified island in a carefree existence with an unspecified, idealized indigenous people who variously refer to him as “chief” or “god,” I thought I’d be writing a very different review. But the lively depiction of a “man-eating octopus” and “flying wombats” early in the show should have tipped me off. This is a narrative that pokes holes in itself, a comedy-drama, a man using a survivor’s unlikely colonialist narrative to build his self-worth, and a story about the stories we tell ourselves to feel better. Continue reading

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Dec 01

Salty Peanuts: “A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage”

Image found via Facebook

Presented by Boch Center Schubert Theatre
Story by Charles M. Schultz
Music by Vince Guaraldi
Adapted by Eric Schaeffer

Dec. 1-2, 2018
265 Tremont, Boston, MA 02116
CB on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) The CBS television special A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered in 1965, has long been a holiday favorite of mine. Before I understood its sophisticate themes or even its dialogue, the adorable cartoons, slow jazz, and children’s voices were instinctively and irresistibly soothing. Decades later, Charlie Brown’s dark horse demeanor and romantic ideals still hold up as a paragon of optimism in a world that makes it so easy become disenchanted and give up our hopes and dreams.

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Nov 19

“WET: A DACAmented Journey.” A Lucid Dreamer Speaks.


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Produced by Cara Mía Theatre & Ignite/Arts Dallas
Written and Performed by Alex Alpharaoh
Directed by Brisa Areli Muñoz

November 8-25, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Boston, MA    02111
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) Alex Alpharaoh’s one-man show is a captivating fusion of poetry and play. Alpharaoh transforms from character to character, suspense to comic relief with shape-shifter ease, never missing a stanza as he leads the audience through his onstage persona, Anner’s, ceaseless real-life struggles as an undocumented person in the US. Even traveling to see his dying grandfather for the first and last time is a life-threatening ordeal. It’s not life-or-death, but life as you know it-or-an undiscovered country certainly feels like comparable stakes. Continue reading

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Nov 05

Unfunny and Racist: “FRIENDS: THE MUSICAL PARODY”

PLEASE NOTE: Not every actor in this photo was part of the show on October 26th. No updated press photos were available.

Produced by Right Angle Entertainment
Lowell Auditorium
Book and Lyrics – Bob & Tobly McSmith
Music & Music Arrangements – Assaf Gleizner
Director – Tim Drucker
Choreographer – Billy Griffin
Music Director – Tegan Miller
Geneneral Management – Jim Lanahan, Right Angle Entertainment

Viewed on October 26th, 2018

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Look, I could write a couple of paragraphs to discuss the many shortcomings and few bright points about this musical parody of an insanely popular 90’s sitcom, but none of that matters. The production I saw of this play should be condemned for allowing one of the most racist moments I’ve seen on stage in decades.

Early in the play, the character of Ross is on a paleontology trip to China. To illustrate this with a minimal set change, they have him wear an Asian conical hat. We next see some kind of an assistant behind Ross also wearing an Asian conical hat. That assistant smiles broadly, folds his hands into his sleeves, and walks backwards in a quick shuffle, all while bowing slightly. It is a perfect example of a racist depiction of an Asian underling, the kind of grotesque caricature you expect from a mid-20th century Bugs Bunny cartoon, not a 21st century theatrical production.

I walked out at intermission. Maybe the play got better in the second act, but it certainly couldn’t have done anything to redeem itself.

Queen’s Note: The New England Theatre Geek supports Mr. Idlebrook’s decision to leave during the intermission of Friends: The Musical Parody. It is 2018. A majority white cast and creative crew should know and do better than to spread casual messages of hate and racism through yellowface. The New England Theatre Geek has pledged to promote tolerance and to shun hate. By walking out of this performance, Mr. Idlebrook was participating in this pledge.

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Oct 05

An Anglo-American Commentary: “Sherlock’s Last Case”

Rufus Collins, Mark Zeisler, and Malcolm Ingram in SHERLOCK’S LAST CASE. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Scenic Design by Hugh Landwehr
Written by Charles Marowitz
Directed by Maria Aitken

September 28 thru October 28, 2018
Huntington Avenue Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
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Written by Bishop C. Knight

(Avenue of the Arts, Boston)  What I appreciate about the Sherlock and Watson mysteries are the stories’ focus relationships.  Sherlock and Watson’s cases are often initiated by a client who needs help with a relative and, at least once before the mystery is solved, Sherlock or Watson expresses loving gratitude for the delightfully dotty Mrs. Hudson.  My favorite character is Dr John Hamish Watson, whom I adore for the same reasons I adore Tom Hagen in The Godfather saga.  Dr Watson is an intelligent, reliable, and logical gentleman with an understated wit.  He is quiet, loyal, short and handsome. I might have a crush on Doctor Watson… Continue reading

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Oct 05

Boldly “Being Earnest”

Photos: Nile Scott Studios

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Direction and Choreography by Ilyse Robbins
Music by Paul Gordon and Jay Gruska

13 September to 7 October, 2018
Greater Boston Stage Company
395 Main St, Stoneham, MA 02180

Written by Bishop C. Knight

(Stoneham, Massachusetts) In September, I attended the East Coast Premiere of Being Earnest at the Greater Boston Stage Company (GBSC).  This comedy runs for another week ‒ featuring actress Ephie Aardema who performs internationally, as well as other accomplished actors.  GBCS’s adaptation is set in 1960s London, and the composers stayed true to Oscar Wilde’s play. Continue reading

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Oct 02

“Meet Fred,” No Strings Attached!


Presented by Puppet Showplace Theater
By Hijinx Theatre in association with Blind SumMiT
Directed by Ben Pettitt-Wade
Fred theme music by Jonathan Dunn
Puppetry dramaturgy by Tom Espina & Giulia Innocenti

Sept. 28-30, 2018
Plaza Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Puppet Showplace on Facebook
Hijinx on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) In Meet Fred, three-man puppetry meets meta-theater meets sociopolitical satire meets disabilities awareness. All this was beautifully woven together with tight storytelling, sharp humor, and arresting visuals. The result is one of the most engaging, funny, and touching theater experiences you will ever have. Continue reading

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Oct 01

The Unfinished Work of a More Perfect Union: NATIVE GARDENS

Gabriel Marin (Pablo De Valle), Vivia Font (Tania Del Valle), Joel Colodner (Frank Butley)
Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
By Karen Zacarías

September 12 – October 7, 2018
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Writers must walk a fine line with audiences when it comes to parables. For a parable to be effective, the story must signal its intentions early and clearly. If done well, it gives the story license with the audience to present an incomplete worldview to prove a point. The devil, however, is in the details – as in what details to give the audience and what details to leave out – to create a world that gets enough buy-in from the audience to think about the issue. Continue reading

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Sep 25

“Borrowed Cash” and Their Stolen Songs


Presented by Harvard’s American Repertory Theater
Written by Daniel Jenkins and Melissa van der Schyff
Directed by Gina Rattan

Sept. 13 – Sept. 23, 2018
OBERON – American Repertory Theater
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
ART on Facebook

Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Cambridge, MA) Borrowed Cash was a band headlined by the two ex-lovers Ann Marie and Harper, who were Brits parading as hillbilly Southerners. Between the ex-spouses, Ann Marie provided the most twanging, crooning Americana songs center stage with eyes closed.  Harper spent most of his time supplying the main keyboard riffs, singing backup harmonies, and blowing a harmonica.  Harper is actually NYC-born actor Daniel H. Jenkins, and Ann Marie the Canadian actress Melissa van der Schyff. Neither are British or Southern, but both did a great job of playing bitter British bandmates who suffered a nasty divorce. Continue reading

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Sep 24

“Vicuña” or not “Vicuña,” That is the Question

(L to R) Evelyn Holley, Srin Chakravorty, Steve Auger, Arthur Barlas, and Jaime Hernandez in Zeitgeist Stage Company’s production of Vicuña. Photo by Joel Benjamin.

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company 
By Jon Robin Baitz
Directed by David J. Miller

September 14th – October 6th, 2018
Plaza Black Box Theater
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) In Vicuña, the year is 2016, and Amir, a young Iranian-American tailor’s apprentice, gets thrown into the world of national politics when Kurt Seaman, the loose cannon business tycoon-turned underdog presidential candidate, drops in to order a special suit (made of fine vicuña wool) for his third debate against an unnamed female opponent. Caught between virtue and duty, flirting with Seamen’s daughter Ivanka—er, I mean Srilanka—and disaster, Amir must decide whether to make the suit and betray everything he believes in, or refuse and let his family and closest friends suffer the consequences of denying this powerful and dangerous man. Continue reading

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