Jan 13

Out-of-Control Silliness: SPANK: THE FIFTY SHADES PARODY

Photo credit: Mills Entertainment; naughty, naughty


Photo credit: Mills Entertainment; naughty, naughty

 

presented by Mills Entertainment

January 12th – May 30th 2013
Wilbur Theatre
Boston, MA
Spank! Facebook Page 

Review by Craig Idlebrook

This review contains discussion of adult themes.

(Boston) On its surface, the parody looks like an easy genre to nail, as it seems much easier to make fun of an existing storyline than create a memorable one. But there are pitfalls in the genre, including the lack of opportunity for character development. Think of the Naked Gun or Airplane! movies; the characters must be blank slates who never realize they are in a strange world. To succeed, the parody must be either short (SNL) or have a unified comedic vision that is funny independent of the original storyline.

Spank!: the Fifty Shades Parody is full of gags that will make any cursory reader of the S&M novel Fifty Shades of Grey spit out her gag with laughter, but it fails to create a complete world of ridiculousness, as the actors never can get on the same page for the comedic feel for the show. In the end, the joke nearly spirals out of control and the show grows tedious. Continue reading

Nov 27

Charm and Spirit: “Sunset Blvd”

Photo credit: Pentucket Players, Inc

presented by Pentucket Players, Inc.
Sunset Boulevard

Book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Based on the 1950 film of the same title
Movie directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, produced and co-written by Charles Brackett

Rogers Center for the Arts
Merrimack College
North Andover, MA
Review is based on the performance of Nov. 24 at 8pm.
Performances ran Nov. 16 – 24, 2012
Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(North Andover) Sunset Boulevard is based on the classic 1950 American noir film directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It is named after the boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. William Holden played unlucky screenwriter Joe Gillis. Screen legend Gloria Swanson starred as the silent film star Norma Desmond. She ensnares Gillis with the luxury and excess only oodles of money can buy. What starts as an opportunity to reclaim their successes ends in tragedy for both. Continue reading

Oct 30

Superfluous Songs, Sweet Spirit: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

Photo credit: Gary Ng; A History of PEI.

Script adapted by Don Harron
Score by Norman Campbell
Directed by Jane Staab

presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA
October 19th – November 18th, 2012
Wheelock Family Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

The Anne of Green Gables franchise is prone to schmaltz. Any literary series that is adored by pre-teen girls, misty-eyed elderly women and Japanese soap opera anime fans can’t help but spin off some over-the-top theater. Few productions can find that young-at-heart sweet spot captured so perfectly by the series’ original creator L.M Montgomery. Anne, the orphan girl who shakes up Prince Edward
Island with her sentimental and vibrant perspective, is the tragic optimist in all of us. Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of the musical Anne of Green Gables largely succeeds in capturing the sweet spirit of the original tale with a strong cast that commits to looking at the world through the unjaded prism of youth. Continue reading

Oct 30

Free-Flowing Fluids in “GoreFest X: 28 Days Latte”

Photo Credit: Ryan Kelly Coil; Nothing like a mid-morning snack.

presented by ImprovBoston

Writer/Lyricist/Director: Don Schuerman
Composer/Music Direction: Steve Gilbane
Choreography by Sejal Patel

ImprovBoston
40 Prospect St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
October 24 – 31, 8pm and 10pm shows
ImprovBoston Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) ImprovBoston’s 28 Days Latte begins with a toilet-cleaning scene that will stir unpleasant memories in most people who have seen the dark side of the food service industry. Brandishing a plunger, Brendan Mulhern makes sure to let the audience know what sort of splattering they’re in for. Even before a zombie plague hits the dwellers of the Cambridge coffee shop, GoreFest X lives up to its name with audience-splashing internal fluids.

Watching the improv musical come together is an impressive feat, but ImprovBoston has had a great deal of practice marrying songs to blood-soaked jokes. The 10th Annual Halloween Horrorshow knows just the formula to layer the scatological humor for the broadest laughs. Depicting disemboweled homeless and the awkwardness of end of the world sex, 28 Days Latte revels in its tastelessness and hopes the audience is there for the mindlessly juvenile ride. It does just what it says on the tin.

Beyond “zombie apocalypse,” the show doesn’t have much in the way of plot. This is fine. ImprovBoston veterans like Patrick French, Megan Golermann, Alex LeBaron, Ben Scurria, Kara Gelormini, and Julie Devito are given plenty of breathing room to bounce off one another. Together, they build scenes that reference all facets of nerd horror culture, from the Manic Pixie Dream Girl charm of Zooey Deschanel to the almost comically grim comics of Frank Miller. The show isn’t particularly tight but the jokes
are.

As I watched, fake blood drying on my temple, I didn’t compare it to the zombie-virus episode of the television show, Community, or the hit film, Shaun of the Dead (2004). Zombies have been hot for more than a few years at this point. Instead, I thought of last year’s performance, GoreFest 9: MASSacre General Hospital, similar in packaging to 28 Days Latte but more tragic in tone. With a clinic as its backdrop, it was a looser, gloomier yarn. The stakes are high in both shows, though, even if 28 Days Latte is flippant in tone despite (or because of) the end of the world. If you feel your holiday is lacking in pretend fluids, I suggest grabbing a raincoat and seeing ImprovBoston’s Halloween offering before this year’s GoreFest is complete.

Oct 16

Unending Nostalgia: REMEMBERING THE 40’s

Photo credit: Reagle Music Theatre

presented by Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
Robinson Theatre
617 Lexington Street
Waltham, MA 02452
October 13th – October 14th
Reagle Music Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Waltham) Try as we might, we are losing our connection to the World War II generation. As our veterans of the war and the home front blink out, so goes the tangible feel of an era when much of a country was united for one cause. In anticipation of this angst, we see the children of WWII veterans attempting to interpret that experience through movies and literature (i.e. Saving Private Ryan), but it is rare to get a fresh glimpse of how that generation might view itself. Continue reading