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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Sep 12

One Ironic Goose Step At A Time; or Two Geeks, One Show: “Straight White Men”

Photo by Andy Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures. The cast in a moment of superficial contemplation.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Written by Young Jean Lee
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

Sept. 7 – 30, 2018
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Mainstage Theater
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Representation matters. Straight White Men is written by an Asian playwright. Noelani Kamelamela was asked to write a review in addition to the critique written by Kitty Drexel. Both are posted below.

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

(Watertown, MA) The synopsis of Straight White Men seems like it would be a Men’s Rights Activist’s nearest and dearest dream brought to life.  I imagine a white man in a polo shirt and khakis sitting down by the light of a tiki torch to read what would be a thoroughly delightful description: after all, the main action only involves four white men.  Yup. Four white men. No women. No people of color. This hypothetical straight white man would see the name Young Jean Lee and maybe remember sweet ole Robert E. Lee. Perhaps it hearkens him back to time before, when America was great.  “What a fine night of theatre!” this man in a barcalounger would remark aloud as he reached for his credit card and purchased a ticket to New Rep Theatre’s production which runs at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown through September 30th. Continue reading

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Aug 27

The Monkey is Omniscient: “Timbuktu, USA”

Top row (l-r): Karos, McMaster, Kaiss, Astudillo
Bottom row (l-r): Wiseman, Hillyer, Baltay; photo credit to David Marshall

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Written and directed by Kenneth Prestininzi
Assistant direction from Teresa Cruz
Fight choreography by Drew Frayre

Aug. 25 – Sept. 1, 2018
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: references to bestiality, incestuous kissing

(Boston, MA) Sleeping Wezel’s Timbuktu, USA is an absurd political satire made digestible via the mechanics of a bedroom farce. There is opportunity a plenty to be delightfully offended by the comings and goings of Prestininzi’s chaotic neutral politicians. The buffoonery so closely resembles the US current political boondoggle that audience members may leave confused. Fear not, Timbuktu, USA is a diversion well worth any disorientation. Continue reading

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Aug 17

A Love Letter, inspired by “A Good Death”

Photo credit: Colleen Moore

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
Written by Shelley M. Hobbs
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Produced by Kelly Smith

August 17 through September 2
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00PM
Sundays at 2:00PM
Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion on Facebook

Written by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, MA)  OOH child, nothing but praise for A Good Death!  I’m about to provide a review that’s emotionally charged with encouragement – for you to see this play and to bring loved ones; especially for you to bring religious relatives you have trouble communicating with.  I’ll use the words love and queer repeatedly, because it is a play about lesbian companions who are platonic life partners.  I’ll show why Boston is damn lucky to have Also Known As Theatre (AKA) as it newest independent theatre company.  I want AKA to flourish. I want Alison Bechdel to attend. I want YOU to attend, and here’s why: Continue reading

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