Aug 18

“Knoxville: Summer of 1915” and the Voyage of Nostalgia

Soprano/Vocals by Sarah Moyer
Piano by Timothy Steele
Artistic Direction by Ryan Turner
Composed by Samuel Barber
Based on prose poem by James Agee

Emmanuel Music
15 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
YouTube

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM — You are here and you are not here. You are waiting in your bedroom for your next Zoom meeting to start, you are in the shower taking fifteen minutes for yourself away from your kids, or you are putting on your mask, ready to head into work where you’re considered essential staff, but not essential enough for customers to remember to wear their masks when you take their order.

Simultaneously, your mind is thinking about your family road trips to Iowa, the raucous laughter of your friends in eighth grade, and traveling, once, to Paris. It’s been months since you’ve seen your family all in one place. You’re in your body, living through a strange time and a terrifying plague, simultaneously overwhelmed and bored while sitting in your room for the ninth hour in a row, feeling the spray from the showerhead, or sitting as far as you can from other masked people on the T, some of whom let their masks sit beneath their nostrils because, apparently, the smell of the train is that important. But you’re also encapsulated in your memories.

You are inside a refuge of the mind, the kind Knoxville: Summer of 1915 invokes with Sarah Moyer’s voice and the parred down instrumentation of Timothy Steele. Knoxville: Summer of 1915 is performed as part of a series called Summer Sessions from Emmanuel Music. Continue reading

Aug 10

“Chelsea People”: Getting to Know Your Community Through Theatre

Jessica Armijo Sabillon, right, with her family at O’Malley State Park in Chelsea. (L-R) Daughter Michelle, 13, her husband Reymer and daughter Adriana, 17. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Produced by Apollinaire Theatre Company
Part of Apollinaire in the Park 2020 (Online Edition): Chelsea People
Directed by: Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Music directed by David Reiffel
Composition by Allyssa Jones, David Reiffel, and David Rivera

August 8th 2020 at 8PM
The Chelsea Collaborative – Jessica L. Armijo
Apollinaire on Facebook
Chelsea Collab on Facebook

Critique by Afrikah Smith

ZOOM — How well do you know your community? Your neighbors? Friends? In our daily interactions, or lack thereof, we each hold a story within us worth telling, waiting for the right moment, or perhaps, the right people to tell.

In Apollinaire in the Park 2020: Chelsea People, the theatre challenged itself to create original plays and music based on interviews by community members nominated by the city’s leading community organizations: GreenRoots and the Chelsea Collaborative. The series ended with the story of Jessica Armijo. Continue reading

Jul 05

New Frontiers for Community Opera: “The ZOOMpresario”

Presented by Opera Del West
Based on The Impresario, A Comic Opera in one Act 
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
German text by Gottlieb Stephanie, Jr.
Additional English text and lyrics by Dan Shore
Video, stage direction by Brenda Huggins
Music direction by Eve K Budnick
Video engineering by Larry Budnick

Debuted to the internet on July 3, 2020
Available now on Youtube at https://youtu.be/4oEc6a8ORhs
Opera Del West on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Based purely on the self-deprecating tones of Music Director Eve Budnick and Lyricist Dan Shore during the performance’s live pre-show, I was expecting The ZOOMpresario to be of poor quality and unenjoyable. I was happy to be wrong. 

Both Budnick and Shore discussed the abundance with great confidence about their inexperience with virtual software and video. This is the antithesis of how artists are taught to present themselves. They could have been impressing us with their performers’ adaptability in the times of quarantine. They could have been discussing how they molded Mozart’s one-act opera to modern times. Instead, we were lead to believe that The ZOOMpresario’s creators weren’t suited to their task by their own words.  Continue reading

Jun 02

Sounds of Ethereal Violence: John Aylward’s “Angelus”

New Focus Recordings presents John Aylward’s Angelus 
Conducted by Jean-Philippe Wurtz
Release Date: April 24, 2020
Genres: Classical, Contemporary Chamber Music
Text translations and adaptations by John Aylward.

Performed by Ecce Ensemble: Nina Guo, voice; Emi Ferguson, flutes; Hassan Anderson, oboe; Barret Ham, clarinets; Pala Garcia, violin; John Popham, cello; Sam Budish, percussion

Disclaimer: Classical music is #whiteculture. While reading this critique please consider the impact white culture has on Black and Brown bodies. Right now is an excellent time for we white artists to figure out how to even the playing field. Black lives still matter during times of peace.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Digital Recording/Streaming — On the cover of Ecce Ensemble’s recording of Angelus is a reprinting of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus. A glorified stick figure in beige and mulled yellow, this humanoid seraph bares conical, gapped teeth at observers that look ready to snap. Its wings are elongated fingers with nail beds. Its feet are stunted three-pronged talons. Klee’s angel is no sentimental rendering of a chubby baby in sheets. It is more Biblical destroyer than Anne Geddes. This image prepares the listener for the ethereal violence of Aylward’s work. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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