Nov 06

“Peter and the Starcatcher,” and Vote Yes on 3!

With Lindsay Eagle, Robert Benton Orzalli, Michael John Ciszewski, Lauren Elias, Joey Cletis Pelletier, Molly Kimmerling, Claire Koenig and Bob Mussett. Picture by Tim Gurczak.

Produced by Hub Theatre of Boston
Written by Rick Elice
Music by Wayne Barker
Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Directed by Sarah GazdowiczNovember 2 – 17, 2018
First Church of Boston
66 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA 02116

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Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) Peter and the Starcatcher is a reimagined origin story for Peter Pan. Before he was the boy who wouldn’t grow up, Peter was an orphan with no name, no friends, and no home. Robbed of their childhoods, Peter and his fellow lost boys are sold to the treacherous, orphan-hating captain of The Neverland, Bill Slank. Slank has stolen Queen Victoria’s treasure trunk and left a decoy in its place on HMS The Wasp. Also aboard The Neverland is Molly Aster, daughter of The Wasp’s captain, righteous and patriotic Lord Leonard Aster. The Asters are revealed to be more than imperial apologists when a band of pirates capture The Wasp and sail for Neverland’s stolen treasure. The adventure lands everyone on Mollusk Island, inhabited by a tribe of English-hating Italian chefs, allowing Peter to discover who he truly is and where he belongs.
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Oct 29

Songs of Ice and Fire: “Brother Nat”

Presented by The Boston Foundation
Book and Lyrics by Jabari Asim and Liana Asim
Music by Allyssa Jones
Music Director Damien Sneed

October 25, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orange Stage
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA  02111
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Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) American history is black history, is slave history. It is a history that demonstrates the deepest stoicism and power of humanity. Beaten and chained, stripped of everything, Black American slaves formed communities tighter than blood, turned lifetimes of suffering into exquisite song, and used song to rise above, revolt against injustice, and redeem all humanity. Nat Turner’s Rebellion was a point of inflection in our nation’s story, which swung the course of history toward freedom and salvation. A grand opera is needed to deliver this epic. No other medium could do justice.  Continue reading

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Oct 09

A Haunted House, With Music : JEKYLL & HYDE

Constantine Maroulis (Edward Hyde) with William Mulligan (The Bishop of Basingstoke). Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Directed By Robert Cuccioli
Music Direction By Milton Granger
Choreographed By Kelli Barclay
Book And Lyrics By Leslie Bricusse
Music By Frank Wildhorn
Originally Conceived By Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn

September 25 – October 7, 2018
Beverly, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) As I was attempting to become a fiction writer, I thought I had found a clear path to getting published by watching the Lifetime Channel in November and December. The channel was chock full of terrible movies, all about some aspect of Christmas. It occurred to me that while you had to sell your soul to get a $10 check from a literary journal, surely they had to pay someone to write this shlock, and there was always demand for it. 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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Sep 07

Langston Hughes as “The Black Clown”

The Black Clown Production Photo
The cast of The Black Clown.
Photo: Maggie Hall.

Presented by American Repertory Theater
Adapted from Langston Hughes’ poem
Adapted by Davóne Tines and Michael Schachter
Music by Michael Schachter
Choreographed by Chanel DaSilva
Directed by Zack Winokur
Music Direction by Jaret Landon
Trumpets by Dave Adewumi and Robyn Smith
Keyboards played by Jaret Landon and Bethany Aikin
Reeds by Rajiv Halim, Isaiah Johnson, and Jason Marshall

August 31 – Sept 23, 2018
Loeb Drama Center
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
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Written by Bishop C. Knight

(Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA)  In The Black Clown program, the A.R.T. Artistic Director wrote how “Langston Hughes drew deeply on the traditions of African American music,” and Hughes would have been pleased with this production.  

The pit orchestra breathed life into spirituals and added rhythmic profundity to operatic adaptations of Hughes’ poems. Keyboards were played by Jaret Landon, a Chicago-based composer who was the show’s Music Director, and Bethany Aiken, who studied Music History at Oberlin College.  A theater experience fusing vaudeville, gospel, and jazz, Black Clown brought Langston Hughes’ verse to life onstage.  Every musician in this production – from the trumpet players, to the actors who themselves are acclaimed singers – every musician, per their participation in this production, paid respect both to Hughes and to the African American music at the heart of Hughes’ art. Continue reading

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Jul 23

Taking Flight: PETER PAN

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Based on the play by Sir J. M. Barrie
Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh
Music by: Morris “Moose” Charlap
Additional lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Additional Music by Jule Styne
Directed by Bob Richard
Choreography by Diane Laurenson
Music direction by Peter Leigh-Nilsen

July 10 – July 22, 2018
NSMT
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA 01915
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Review by Kate Lew Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) Fairies, pirates, flying, and magic, all on an island without parents – Peter Pan, Sir J.M. Barrie’s adventure about the boy who doesn’t want to grow-up and the magical island that is his home
has it all. Capturing this magic on stage can be a challenge, but Carolyn Leigh and Morris
(Mosse) Charlap turn the classic into a wonderful and catchy musical, and the North Shore
Music Theatre’s production of this musical is a strong revival of this classic tale. Continue reading

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Jun 27

Laura Neill’s “DIVAS”

The ensemble

Presented by OperaHub in collaboration with DIVA Museum
Written by Laura Neill
Produced and Stage Directed by Adrienne Boris
Music Directed and Collaborative Piano by Patricia Au
Starring Chelsea Beatty, Kathryn McKellar, Lindsay Conrad, Glorivy Arroyo, and Christie Lee Gibson

June 21 through 30, 2018
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston
OperaHub on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, Massachusetts) DIVAS is a new play by the writer and educator Laura Neill.  It is being performed for the rest of this week in a black box at the BCA.  On the Sunday I attended, the black box was very warm. The man sitting next to me repeatedly wiped the sweat trickling down his brow, and half the audience was skimming through their programs, while the other half fanned their perspiring faces.  The small theatre’s high temperature didn’t seem to bother most of the patrons, who had either greying or thoroughly whitened hair. OperaHub’s noble mission is “to present high-caliber, affordable, and accessible classical music to a wide community of music and art lovers,” but looking around the audience, it was easy to remember that the classical music community remains mostly white and older. Continue reading

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Jun 25

BeBe Winans was “Born for This”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Original Music and lyrics by BeBe Winans
Book by Charles Randolph-Wright, BeBe Winans and Lisa D’Amour
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
Choreographed by Warren Adams
Orchestrations, Arrangements, & Music Direction by Steven Jamail
Starring Milton Craig Nealy, Kirsten Wyatt, Phillip Brandon, Matthew Griffin, and Donald Webber, Jr.

June 15 through July 15, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Downtown Boston, MA)  Born for This was the musical biography of soul gospel musician Benjamin “Bebe” Winans, a Detroit native who began his career releasing albums with his sister Priscilla “CeCe” Winans from 1984 through 1996.  In 1989, BeBe won a Grammy for Best Male Soul Gospel Performance. In 1997, he signed with Atlantic Records and released his first of seven solo albums. That same year, BeBe delivered the international hit “I Wanna Be The Only One,” which featured British soul trio Eternal and topped the UK Singles chart in May 1997.  Throughout his career, Bebe has collaborated other Grammy award winning R&B vocalists – such as Stephanie Mills, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder.
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Jun 14

Don’t Expect the Movie: “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage”

Craven and Courts. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Presented by Boch Center
By Eleanor Bergstein
Music supervising and orchestrations by Conrad Helfrich
Choreography by Michele Lynch
Original choreography by Kate Champion
Directed by Sarna Lapine

June 13 – 17, 2018
Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage is a great production for professional-dance enthusiasts who enjoyed Dirty Dancing the movie but have no particular emotional connection to it. Diehard movie fans may feel put out by Eleanor Bergstein’s script upgrades. Musical aficionados may snark at the “acting” going on onstage. Anybody ready for some good time media nostalgia will enjoy themselves. Continue reading

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Jun 11

“A Chorus Line” as a Period Piece

Wahle as Zach with Ensemble. Photo by Herb Philpott.

Presented by Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett
Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Originally Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian
Direction; Recreation of the Original Choreography by Leslie Woodies
Music direction by Dan Rodriguez
Assistant Director/Assistant Choreographer – Lauren Gemelli

June 7 through 17, 2018
Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
617 Lexington St., Waltham, MA 02452
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Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Waltham, Massachusetts) I had never seen A Chorus Line so, for readers who are unfamiliar with this 1975 Broadway musical about life in show biz, please let me provide a brief summary.  On a bare stage, a group of dancers bring their headshots and personal histories to an audition where they share their birth names, stage names, birthdays, and ages, as well as their most formative life experiences.  There was a tough boy from the Bronx, another guy from a big Italian family, a saucy woman who flirted with the director, and fifteen more performers – all with large and extremely memorable personalities. Continue reading

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