Jun 05

Odyssey Opera’s “Patience” is Pitch Perfect

Photo by Kathy Wittman

Odyssey Opera
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by W.S. Gilbert
Conductor: Gil Rose
Stage Director: Frank Kelley
Choreographer: Larry Sousa

June 2&3, 2017 at 7:30pm
Huntington Avenue Theatre
Boston, MA
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) After seeing the most recent Gilbert and Sullivan to delight Boston last night, I’ve decided to become an aesthete. One need only find an English poet with opaque poetry to adore, dress in long, flowing garments, talk about the wonders of Aestheticism, lay around, and sigh. But while Patience mocks the women who fawn over pale, tragic poet Reginald Bunthorne (the remarkably funny Aaron Engebreth), it also mocks the Dragoons who are their forgotten fiancees, the vain rival poet Archibald Grosvenor (an airily confident Paul Max Tipton), and the humble, befuddled milk maid, the titular Patience (Sara Heaton), who’s too innocent to understand what the concept of love even is. In short, this is a Gilbert and Sullivan show at its most Gilbert and Sullivan: staunchly lighthearted. Continue reading

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May 19

“The Demon” Serves in Heaven and Raises Hell

Presented by Commonwealth Lyric Theater Orchestra and Chorus PESVEBI Georgian Dance Ensemble
By Anton Rubenstein
Based on a poem by Mikhail Lermontov
Conductor: Lidiya Yankovskaya
Artistic/Stage Director: Alexander Prokhorov
Production Director and Stage Manager: Steven Kunis

May 18th and 20th, 2017 at 8pm
Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
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By Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In the world of Anton Rubenstein’s The Demon, the danger of Hell is ever-present, princesses are virtuous, princes are valorous, and Heaven is an ethereal step away. Aleksey Bogdanov is the titular Demon, a creature that informs the audience and the angel with whom he spars, Anna Cley, he has chosen freedom over God. In the course of the play, he also chooses Tamara (played with wide-eyed innocence by Zhanna Alkhazova) and upends her life. Continue reading

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May 16

Blessed Be the Patron Saint of Iowa Housewives: “The Bridges of Madison County”

Glenn Perry Photography; Jennifer Ellis & Christiaan Smith.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Book by Marsha Norman
Music, lyrics and orchestrations by Jason Robert Brown
Based on the novel by Robert James Waller
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara
Music directed by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Misha Shields

May 6 – June 3, 2017
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The Bridges of Madison County is a musical about sacrifice and neglect. Ladies and gents, if you’re feeling underappreciated, please bring tissues. You’ll need them. Continue reading

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May 15

Captivating Recollections: “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend”

Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Christian Duhamel and Edward Bell
Conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels
Directed by Sean Daniels

April 26 – May 21, 2017
Merrimack Repretory Theatre
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) A one-person play is like a long blind date – you are stuck with a stranger for the evening, so you inwardly pray beforehand that you’ll like them. But when that one person is actress Charissa Bertels performing her passion project, My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend, you might find yourself cursing time for flying so fast through an entertaining evening. Continue reading

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May 12

Love Flusters Money: ANNIE

Presented by Troika Entertainment, LLC
Book by Thomas Meehan
Music by Charles Strause
Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Based on the “Little Orphan Annie,” a comic strip by Harold Gray which was based on the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley
Directed by Martin Charnin
Choreographed by Liza Gennaro
Music directed and conducted by Keith Levenson
Animals wrangled by William Berloni

May 9 – 21, 2017
The Wang Theatre operated by Boch Center
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAI’m a stoic deeply bruised by current events, but Annie at the Wang is such an uplifting show that I was able to smile and think of happier times. This production is a fast-paced, clean cut piece of theatre. Escapism isn’t always productive, but this particular dose isn’t doing anyone any harm.   Continue reading

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May 03

Successful Marriage of Romantic Comedy Eras in “Figaro”

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Conducted by David Angus
Directed by Rosetta Cucci

April 28th – May 7th, 2017
John Hancock Hall
Back Bay Events Center
180 Berkley Street
Boston, MA 02116
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) A 1950’s-style screwball comedy proves its compatibility with a comic opera from 1786 in this brilliant production. It’s layered, creating the idea of a show-within-a-show as stage hands help along the action, feeling like Kiss Me Kate with Mozart as source material rather than Shakespeare. With the help of charming, self-aware direction from Rosetta Cucchi and conductor David Angus, the story of two servants who outwit the wandering eye of a less-than-noble nobleman feels universal, familiar, and luminescent.  Continue reading

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Apr 18

Life’s a Circus: “Barnum”

Shonna Cirone (Charity Barnum), Todd Yard (PT Barnum), Dan Prior (Ensemble) and company; Photograph by Earl Christie Photography.

Presented by MoonBox Productions
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by Michael Stewart
Book by Mark Bramble
Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Bertone
Musical Direction by Dan Rodriguez
Circus Arts/Aerial Choreography by Ellen Waylonis

April 8th – April 30th
Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street
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Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) There’s hardly a figure in American History with a life more colorful than showman and notorious Humbug Phineas Taylor Barnum.  The exaggerations and theatrical tall-tales that are hallmark of Musical Theatre find no palette more suited than the true facts of P.T.’s exploits.  It’s therefore small wonder that these exploits became a musical in 1980 (titled, appropriately, Barnum).  What is astounding is the fact that Moonbox was able to match the schmaltz and pizzazz require to bring a true eighties style musical to light and life in full vibrant color at the BCA. Continue reading

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Mar 02

5 Handfuls of Butt: “A Ride On the Irish Cream”

Presented by Oberon
Written/Created/Co-composed/Lyrics by Erin Markey
Directed by Jordan Fein
Co-composed & Musical Directed by Emily Bate
Co-composed by Kenny Mellman 
Choreographed by Chloe Kernaghan 

Feb. 28 – March 4, 2017
Club Oberon
Arrow St
Cambridge, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) There is something exquisitely beautiful about a conventionally attractive woman being unconventionally, relentlessly, fearlessly strange in society’s general direction into perpetuity. It is a breathtaking thing. Erin Markey isn’t Jennifer Lawrence cutesy, “normal” weird. Markey and her merry band of revelers are Disco Pigs, Bellatrix LeStrange, mutated Alice in Wonderland kinds of weird. Their rock musical A Ride on the Irish Cream is gloriously odd.  Continue reading

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Jan 31

Dance Across the Picket Line: BILLY ELLIOT

Photo by Glenn Cook Photography; on the way to boxing class.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Book & lyrics by Lee Hall
Music by Elton John
Orchestrations by Martin Koch
Based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film Billy Elliot
Directed by Susan Kosoff
Originally directed by Stephen Daldry
Music direction by Jon Goldberg
Choreographed by Laurel Conrad
Sign Performances by Luke Baer, Alvin Haas, Ali Schmalenberger
Audio descriptions by Cori Couture, Ruth Celia Kahn

Jan. 27 – Feb. 26, 2017
ASL performances on Fri, Feb 24 @ 7:30, & Sun, Feb 26, @ 3
All performances are open captioned
The theatre is wheelchair accessible
Wheelock College
200 Riverway
Boston, MA
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Recommended for ages 8+ for mild violence, occasional references to sexy times by children who don’t understand what they are saying, and English cursing.  

Review by Kitty Drexel

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”
– Winston Churchill (that other quote attributed to Churchill is not something he actually said.)

(Boston, MA) Wheelock does great work with Billy Elliot:The Musical. The 2000 source movie Billy Elliot, is a sweet and rough story about a working class boy who becomes enchanted with dance while his widower father, and brother are caught up in the coal miners’ strike. They are more worried that Billy might be gay, than they are in monitoring Billy’s daytime whereabouts. The musical, based on the movie, incorporates many points of the movie’s plot. The big distinction is the musical’s Disney-fication. Alter expectations accordingly.    Continue reading

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Jan 11

“Mirror” Immerses Audience in Both Moving Show and Modern Complexities of Womanhood

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Frauenliebe und –leben
Music by Robert Schumann
Text by Adelbert von Chamisso

From the Diary of Virginia Woolf
Music by Dominick Argento
Text from the diaries of Virginia Woolf
Directed by Greg Smucker & Patricia-Maria Weinmann

January 6-8, 2017
Longy School of Music of Bard College
Cambridge, MA
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Two portraits of women, written over a century apart. The first is an idealized character looking to not only marry, but be subsumed by her husband’s identity in a happy, storybook life. In German, she sings of having no desire beyond being this man’s wife. She is the heroine of Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben (A Woman’s Love and Life) from 1830, itself based on a series of poems by Adelbert von Chamisso. Two men filter the story of a fictional woman, a touching if pastel view of a girl coming of age. Carley DeFranco breathes life into this creature (also played by Susannah Thornton, Rhaea D’Aliesio, and Julia Cavallaro, depending on one’s tour of the Zabriskie House mansion where the show is staged) with a Disney-esque sweetness. Continue reading

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