Mar 11

Interview with Composer Erin McKeown, Composer of “Miss You Like Hell” Playing at Wilbury Theatre Group

Photo of Erin McKeown by Jo Chattman

Miss You Like Hell
Presented by Wilbury Theatre Group
Book & lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes
​Music & lyrics by Erin McKeown
Directed by ​Don Mays
Music direction by ​Matt Requintina

​March 5 – 29, 2020
The Wilbury Theatre Group
40 Sonoma Court
Providence, RI 02909
Wilbury on Facebook

Erin McKeown in Concert:
Saturday March 14
7p doors, 8p show
The Good Will Engine Company
41 Central St, Providence, RI 02907
Jocie Adams supports
TICKETS for Erin McKeown in Concert

Interview conducted by Kitty Drexel

Providence, MA — Composer and lyricist Erin McKeown graciously agreed to answer interview questions ahead of her post-performance talkback after the March 13, 7:30PM performance of Miss You Like Hell at the Wilbury Theatre Group. We are grateful that she took the time to connect with us about performances, her career, and upcoming projects!

This interview has been edited for clarity, grammar, and length.

Queen Geek: March 2, 2020 was Super Tuesday. What parts of “Miss You Like Hell” do you find the most rewarding or cathartic in this political climate?

Erin McKeown: I find the witness to the audience extremely rewarding. It’s their catharsis that really feels good to me. I need to watch art that other people made in order to experience catharsis. I can’t feel my own catharsis with something I made. But I do really find it wonderful to watch. Continue reading

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Feb 06

A Moving Adaptation: “Little Women”

Photo by Nile Scott Studios; The March women in “Little Women.”

Presented by Wheelock Family Theater at Boston University:/ 
Music by Jason Howland
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Book by Allan Knee
Based on the Book, “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott
Directed by Nick Vargas
Music Directed by Jon Goldberg
Choreography by Laurel Conrad

Performance dates: Jan 31 – Feb 23, 2020

Wheelock Family Theater at Boston University, 
180 Riverway
Boston, MA
Wheelock on Facebook 

Review by Chloé Cunha

Boston, MA — Like anybody who grew up with an overactive imagination and an abundance of energy, I have fond memories of exploring fantastical worlds as a kid. My mum used to transform her bed into a space ship, her bedroom, an alien planet. A whir and a hum and we were off, her narration painting the room around us into a whole new galaxy. Continue reading

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Jan 29

Protest Harder, Longer, Faster: “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical”

Cast of Hair. Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado
Music by Galt MacDermot
Directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone
Music direction by Dan Rodriguez
Intimacy direction by Angie Jepson
Dramaturgy by Emily White

Jan 26- Feb 23, 2020
Open Caption services will be provided on Saturday, 2/8 during the 3:00pm performance.
MainStage Theater
Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Content Warning: This production contains strong language, frequent references to sex and illicit substances, and brief nudity. Recommended for ages 18+.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Watertown, MA —  Hair is the only time I’ve been (purposefully) naked onstage. I have fond memories of performing in Counter-Productions Theatre Company’s Hair in 2010. Getting naked as an expression of civil protest was just one of the perks of joining their cast. Continue reading

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Dec 19

Light and Frothy Secular Fun: “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”

IBWC National Tour Company. Jeremy Daniel Photography, 2017. *Includes Makayla Joy Connolly

Presented by Work Light Productions
Based on the 1954 film “White Christmas by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner
Music directed by Michael Horsley

Boch Center Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St
Boston, MA
IBWC on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is the secular, heteronormative Christmas musical I didn’t know I needed to see the season. I was in a grumpy mood when last night. I was feeling so grinchy that I could have abandoned my theatre plans to don a furry, green unitard and guide an empty sleigh drawn by a single, overworked pup into the Boston streets. My mood was foul when the curtain rose. But, by the time the curtain went down, I was chipper with the holiday spirit. The dancing and singing in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is so infectiously charming that I had no choice but be swept into a better mood. Continue reading

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Dec 18

Depth of Understanding: “Moby Dick”


Presented by American Repertory Theater
Music, Lyrics, Book, and Orchestrations by Dave Malloy
Based on Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Music Direction and Supervision by Or Matias
Choreography by Chanel DaSilva
Developed with and Directed by Rachel Chavkin

December 3, 2019 – January 12, 2020
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
ART on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Cambridge, MA) Moby-Dick, as director Rachel Chavkin said when talking about multihyphenate writer Dave Malloy, attempts to formally “capture Melville’s eclecticism”. The novel Moby-Dick has a chapter as a play, another as a poem, and wraps the tale of an ill-fated drive for vengeance alongside descriptions of whale types, and the many ways one can prepare and eat a whale. Continue reading

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Dec 17

An Apocalyptic “Parade”

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Alfred Uhry
Directed by Jason Modica
Music direction by Catherine Stornetta
Choreography by Kira Troilo
Costume Design by Chelsea Kerl
Set Design by Lindsay Genevieve Fuori
Lighting Design by Steve Shack

Performance dates: Dec 15 – Dec 28, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, Roberts Theatre, 527 Tremont St., Boston: 
Facebook link

Review by Chloé Cunha

(Boston, MA) “Where will you stand when the flood comes?” An angry mob asks the ominous question, and Parade gives little comfort in its answer. Moonbox Production’s staging offers an apocalyptic vision of the past and present, with little optimism for the future. It’s a dizzying tale well-told, but the bleakness it offers may be tough to swallow in the present day when hope feels increasingly scarce. Continue reading

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Dec 16

A Response to “Tuck Everlasting” at The Umbrella Stage Company

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company
Based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt
Book by Claudia Shear & Tim Federle
Music by Chris Miller
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis
Music direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Lara Finn Banister

December 6 – 22, 2019
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742
USC on Facebook

Response by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) I have wrestled with my response to the Umbrella Stage Company’s production of Tuck Everlasting. Writing this essay has been difficult. I do not publish these words lightly. It hurts my heart to do so. But, out of love for those who may be negatively impacted by this musical, I must. It is more important to protect children than it is to be polite.

Interpretations of art change over time. The innocuous children’s literature of a previous generation can serve as a clear warning signal to this one. Times have changed. Tuck Everlasting is no longer just a story about living life to its fullest. It is now also a story about predatory grooming and the community that would have excused the predatory behavior as normal.

Tuck Everlasting the musical is about the predatory grooming of a minor. In it, Jesse Tuck, a 102-year-old adult (sexual) predator who looks 17-years-old, meets pre-pubescent, 11-year-old girl Winnie Foster in the wilds of an NH forest. He begins grooming her for marriage while she is removed from parental oversight.

Winnie gets away from Jesse by chance because of an altercation with a gun. She is not saved by parental or community interference. She is not saved by her clever mind or spunky attitude. She is saved by chance.

Out of respect to the hardworking cast and crew of Everlasting Tuck, I cannot delve into the performative details of this musical. I am finding it impossible to separate their work from the context of the production.In any other context, I would happily sing their praises.  I apologize for this.

Everlasting Tuck could start a conversation about how predators groom children as well as communities. Unfortunately, the conversations I overheard at the theatre on Saturday afternoon told me that the audience instead took a hard left at discussing this necessary topic. It is not more important to congratulate hardworking friends than it is to point out social evils.

I understand why no one was saying anything; no one wants to be the bad guy by pointing out the obvious dangers in the room. I don’t mind incurring blame if it means children are protected from sexual predators like the White Rhino Report’s Al Chase and Boston Children’s Theatre’s Burgess Clark. Communities enable predatory grooming by ignoring the signs and making excuses instead.

A lot of grooming looks normal from the outside. It is up to a community to notice the signs of predatory behavior and put a stop to them. I’ve listed resources to help identify it below.

Community politics are not more important than protecting children. I did not speak up when I was a little girl involved in a poisonous theatre production. I am speaking up now.

Resources:

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Dec 06

The Joy and Sadness of “Oliver!”

The cast of Oliver! Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Lionel Bart
Directed and Choreographed by Michael J. Bobbitt
Music Direction by Sariva Goetz

December 2-29, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Watertown, MA) From before this show began, I was in high spirits. En route to the theater, the soundtrack played in my mind. Once at the Mosesian Center for the Arts hall, surrounded by the gorgeous set, I paused – nervous about my ability to give an impartial review. I have fallen in love with and seen the 1968 movie rendition umpteenth times. I did not have much to worry about though, even as I anticipated lines, reacted to choreography or held my breath through differences between the stage version and screenplay. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Don’t Tell Me the Odds: “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka”

Photo by Nile Scott.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly
Adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald
Based on the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Directed by Emily Ranii
Music directed by Nathan Urdangen 
Choreographed by Russell Garrett

Oct 25 – Nov. 17, 2019
Boston University
200 Riverway 
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka (2004) should not be confused with the West End and Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently touring in the US (now in Omaha!). Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is not. Both incorporate elements from Dahl’s novel and the two Hollywood movies. They are similar but not the same.  

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka cannot compete with the novel or the movies. Fans of the other Wonka media should view this iteration as the children’s theatre it is and not compare it to its source materials. They will be disappointed. Continue reading

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Oct 31

The Lost Treasures in “Cambodian Rock Band”

Matthew Yee, Peter Sipla, Aja Wiltshire, Eileen Doan, Greg Watanabe; Photo by Liz Lauren courtesy of Victory Gardens

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
A co-production with Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and City Theatre in Pittsburgh
By Lauren Yee
Directed by Marti Lyons
Featuring the songs of Dengue Fever, Sinn Sisamouth, Voy Ho, and Rose Serey Sothea
Cast includes Eileen Doan (Pou, keyboards), Albert Park (Duch), Christopher Thomas Pow (Leng/Ted, guitar), Peter Sipla (Rom, drums), Greg Watanabe (Chum, bass),  and Aja Wiltshire (Neary/Sothea, vocals).

Oct 16-Nov 10
Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
Lowell,MA
MRT on Facebook 

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Lowell, MA) The history one learns from Cambodian Rock Band will vary based on previous knowledge of the Cambodian genocide, the Vietnam War, and other geopolitical histories of that era. Lauren Yee’s narrative blends details about how characters survived genocide with elements from the real stories of countless others. Yet, one doesn’t leave the theater with fresh tears of sadness, rather, with smiles over tear-stained faces. The actors, particularly the father-daughter pair of Chum (Greg Watanabe) and Neary (Aja Wilshire), have both very touching and comical exchanges throughout the over 2 hour run time. 

It weaves together a portrait of a father, a mystery, history, and amazing music. From the pre-show announcement to ‘cold open’, both in Khmer, audiences are taken on a ride between the 70’s to the early 2000s features a band from the 70s, singing in Khmer. Continue reading

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