Apr 23

God Is Change: “Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Sower”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon
Co-Directed by Eric Ting & Signe V. Harriday 
Music and Lyrics by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon 
Music Direction by Toshi Reagon  
Choreography by Millicent Johnnie 
Movement Director: Yasmine Lee 
Performed by Marie Tatti Aqeel, Alina Carson, Helga Davis, Kyle Garvin, Jared Wayne Gladly, Toussaint Jeanlouis, Karma Mayet Johnson, Morley Kamen, Alexandra Koi, Josette Newsam, Shelley Nicole, Toshi Reagon, Noah Virgile, Evie Schuckman Orchestra Monique Brooks Roberts, Zach Brown, Bobby Burke, Fred Cash, Jr., Chogyi, Matt Graff 
Orchestra: Monique Brooks Roberts, Zach Brown, Bobby Burke, Fred Cash, Jr., Chogyi, Matt Graff

April 21 – 24, 2022  
Open Captioning: Fri, April 22 @ 8:00 PM
American Sign Language: Sun April, 24 @ 2:00 PM
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre 
219 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116

Recommended for Ages 13+  

Running Time: 120 minutes, no intermission 

Please Note: Proof of vaccination or a negative test is required for entry

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God
Is Change.”
Earthseed, Lauren Olamina in The Parable of the Sower

BOSTON, Mass. — The audience was small on Thursday night but grateful. We’d waited over two years to see Toshi Reagon’s Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Sower. The air was palpable with anticipation. We had each other to talk to and other excited conversations to easedrop on. When the theatre held the house lights for an extra 20 minutes to allow late audience members to straggle in, we were okay with it. 

When the lights finally dimmed to signal the start of the show, a hush fell over us. Finally, after all this waiting, it was time for church. 

Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Sower is an opera adapted by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon from the Afro-futurist science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler’s novel The Parable of the Sower.  The ArtsEmerson website says it is “a genre-defying, modern congregational opera that celebrates two centuries of Black music.”  Continue reading

Mar 25

We Know You Can Dance to the Beat: An Interview with Brian Boruta about Umbrella Stage’s “Head Over Heels”

Presented by Umbrella Stage
Adapted by James Magruder
Concept and Original Book by James Whitty
Music by The Go-Go’s
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by David Wright
Choreography by Lara Finn

April 15 – May 8, 2022 (no performance 4/17)
Presented on the Main Stage
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742

Interview by Kitty Drexel

CONCORD, Mass. — The Umbrella Stage returns to performances this April with Head Over Heels. Brian Boruta generously chatted with me on Friday, March 18 about the musical, gender politics, and The Go Go’s. 

This interview is condensed. It has been edited for grammar, congruity, and clarity. 

Queen Kitty: It’s awesome that you’re starting with Head Over Heels. Why this show now?

Brian Boruta: It’s funny; I think about this show now, because we had chosen this show earlier than now. Then things all got moved around.

We moved, a couple of years ago, to a committee-based approach to season planning. As we were coming out of the pandemic, it was really important that as many voices and perspectives as possible be included in program planning. 

One thing that came to the fore in that conversation was finding ways throughout the season coming out of the pandemic to just celebrate joy in many forms, to celebrate love, to amplify different marginalized voices throughout the season. Head Over Heels really popped out as that title that we could put towards the end of the season that celebrates joy, celebrates love, and celebrates community.  Continue reading

Jan 10

A Lot to Unpack: Guerilla Opera’s “Rumpelstiltskin”

Presented by Guerilla Opera 
Based on the tale by the Brothers Grimm
Composed by Marti Epstein
Libretto by Marti Epstein and Greg Smucker
Shadow puppetry animation and direction by Deniz Khateri
Conducted by Jeffrey Means
Featuring the Guerilla Opera Ensemble

Premiere date/Reviewed on January 7, 2022
Via Parma Live Stage

Upcoming: 
Rumpelstiltskin Studio Album & Release Party
January 14 at 7:30
An Online Event
Album is available on Navona Records

Review by Kitty Drexel

ONLINE — On January 7, Guerilla Opera held an online viewing party to premiere their short opera Rumpelstiltskin on Parma Live Stage. Rumpelstiltskin will be presented again at the album’s release party on January 14, 7:30 PM. The album will be available on Navona Records. 

Composer Marti Epstein and Guerilla Opera retell the Brothers Grimm Rumpelstiltskin story with some updates for their opera. Rumpelstiltskin (Aliana de la Guardia), a human man with magical abilities, is now portrayed as a sympathetic character according to Epstein’s “Note from the Composer” available on the Navona Records website. The opera explains Rumpelstiltskin’s desire for a child and elaborates on his single-minded obsession with obtaining one: unconditional love.  Continue reading

Nov 29

All We Like Sheep: H+H’s “Messiah”

Georg Friederich Händel’s Messiah
Presented by Handel + Haydn Society
Performed by Harry Christophers, conductor
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Emily Marvosh, contralto*
James Way, tenor
Roderick Williams, baritone
H+H Orchestra and Chorus

November 26, 27, & 28, 2021
Boston Symphony Hall
301 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02115
H+H on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — We were granted tickets to Handel + Haydn’s Messiah. It was lovely: the orchestra was in good form on their period instruments; the choir sang in four voices with rich purity; the soloists were attuned to the orchestra. It was a nice afternoon at the symphony. Our first since the quarantine.

In the program, H+H included a note: “We regret to announce that countertenor Reginald Mobley has been forced to withdraw from this week’s performances due to illness. We are pleased to announce that contralto Emily Marvosh has graciously agreed to take his place.” Continue reading

Nov 09

Seated in the Tonsorial Parlour: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Presented by The Longwood Players
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed by Kaitlyn Chantry
Music Directed by Jeremy Lang

November 5 – 20, 2021
Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St.
Chelsea, MA
TLP on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Chelsea, Mass. — TLP’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a forthright production. It takes no risks, but it lacks pretension. The staging is simple but the vocals are strong. The orchestra performs mightily. It is exactly what a good Sweeney Todd should be at a community level.  Continue reading

Nov 08

Witches, Vamps, and Rock & Roll: “Macbeth in Stride”

Steven Cuevas at the piano with Kira Helper, Charlie Thurston, Reggie D. White, and Whitney White in rehearsal for Macbeth In Stride.
Photo: Lauren Miller

Presented by American Repertory Theatre
Created and performed by Whitney White
Orchestrations Steven Cuevas and Whitney White
Music Director Steven Cuevas
Choreography Raja Feather Kelly
Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky and Taibi Magar

October 23 – November 14, 2021
Audio Described Performances: Friday, November 12 at 7:30PM and Saturday, November 13 at 2PM
Open Captioned Performances: Thursday, November 11 at 7:30PM and Saturday, November 13 at 2PM
Loeb Drama Center
Cambridge, MA
ART on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

Macbeth in Stride is a lush pop, rock, gospel, and R&B musical theater event that can only be described as An Experience. It is the first of a five-part series by Obie Award-winning artist Whitney White examining the women of Shakespeare through a black, queer, feminine lens. I’m often skeptical of shows with stated agendas like this, but Macbeth in Stride delivered far more than what was promised, in more ways than I expected. Continue reading

Oct 16

Everything And More; or, Why My Ex is Straight Now: “The Rocky Horror Show”

Richard O’Brien’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW / MOONBOX PRODUCTIONS 2021
Photography: Molly Shoemaker

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Music, lyrics and book by Richard O’Brien
Directed by David Lucey
Music Directed by Mindy Cimini
Choreography by Daniel Forest Sullivan
Dramaturgy by Allison Olivia Choat

October 16 – 31, 2021
Oct. 23 & 24 @ 7PM (ASL Interpreted Performance)
Fri 10/29 8pm (Audio Described Performance)
“The Lab” 
25 Brattle Street
Cambridge MA 02138
Moonbox on Facebook

Please note: Masks and either Proof of Vaccination/Negative PCR Covid Test Results (within 72 hours) are REQUIRED for entry. Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe!

Tickets are General Admission with Pay-What-You-Can* Seating available at the box office prior to each performance.

Content warning: Language, SEXual content, and fabulous drag queens across the gender spectrum

Review by Kitty Drexel

Cambridge, MA — The Rocky Horror Show at The Lab in Harvard Square is everything Rocky Horror could be during these COVID-times and more. Its energy is electric. The cast is damn brilliant. The band is brilliant. Every single person involved in the preview on Friday night knows how to get down (and get back up again). 

Moonbox’s The Rocky Horror Show will cure what ails you – removing the cause but not the symptom. The Lab is awash in bisexual lighting when you enter; we were all lit up in pinks, purple and subtle blues. Gobos twirled above our heads as we sat in rows facing the audience. OMGs, it was so much fun!  Continue reading

Oct 15

It’s “Rent”: “RENT 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour ‘Farewell Season of Love'”

RENT 20th Anniversary Tour, Credit Amy Boyle 2019.

Produced by Work Light Productions
Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Directed by Evan Ensign 
Based on the original staging by Michael Greif
Choreography by Marlies Yearby  
Music Supervision and Additional Arrangements by Tim Weil 

Shubert Theater COVID-19 protocols

Boch Center Shubert Theatre
265 Tremont St 
Boston, MA 02116
Rent tour on Instagram

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — RENT 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour “Farewell Season of Love” at the Shubert Theater is Rent.  You will love it or hate it based on your preferences for the dated rock musical.

My lovely wife and I had a fun time. We like the show. The people sitting immediately behind us had a better time. They said they’d seen it every time it came through New England. That’s a lot of Rent. 

Rent is now a period piece. It was first performed on Broadway in 1996; I was a sophomore in high school. Bill Clinton had taken office for his first term that January.  Continue reading

Jun 04

Donate Now so Theatre Can Exist Later: “Songs for A New World”

The soloists from “Songs for A New World.”

Songs For A New World, A Performance to Benefit SpeakEasy Stage
Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Music directed by Jose Delgado
Cast includes Rashed Alnuaimi, Laura Marie Duncan, Jennifer Ellis, Dwayne P. Mitchell, Davron Monroe, Mikayla Myers, Rebekah Robles, Alexander Tan, and Victor Carrillo Tracey
The program is HERE

May 26 – June 8, 2021
Streaming to your Device
Tickets  
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

STREAMING — SpeakEasy stage had two COVID compliance officers, and a testing coordinator. OccMed provided health services to the Song for A New World Team and Viracor Eurofins Clinical Diagnostics was their COVID testing provider. A disclaimer that COVID safety protocols were followed during rehearsals and recording of this fundraiser. Continue reading

May 24

2Life Communities Presented “L’Chaim 2 Life!” Virtual Concert on May 23

Photo of Skybell in “Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish” provided by 2Life Communities.

Presented by 2Life Communities
Hosted by Amy Schectman 
Dramaturgy interview with Dr. Barbara Wallace Grossman
Featuring vocalist Steven Skybell, Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish and music director and Tony Award-nominated composer Zalmen Mlotek.
Fiddler in Yiddish online

May 23, 2021 at 11 AM
Streamed via private YouTube link
Boston, MA and New York, NY

Review by Kitty Drexel

YouTube — On May 23 at 11 AM, 2Life Communities and host 2Life Communities President and CEO Amy Schectman celebrated universal themes of community, tradition and life with their virtual, fundraising concert L’Chaim 2Life.”  Broadway notables, performer Steven Skybell and composer Zalmen Mlotek, performed selections from their Off-Broadway hit production Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish Continue reading