Jun 07

“The Magic Mirror”: Window Into Another World

Photo Credit: Scott Bump, Not a photo of a brunette Khaleesi’s wedding. But it could be.

Presented by Juventas New Music Ensemble
Music by Polina Nazaykinskaya
Music direction  by Lidiya Yankovskaya
Stage direction by Erin Huelskamp

BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA
Juventas New Music Ensemble Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) The Magic Mirror succeeds, most of all, in elegance.  Characters move through a sumptuous world, wandering along whirls of purple and blue on the floor, moving through dark woods and bright cottages. Varvara Sosedova, a visual artist from Moscow, brings personality and charm to the scenes, costumes, and props she designs. The contemporary songs and music also do their part to bring a hard edge to the story.  Even when characters aren’t as distinguishable as they could be or when the story begins to drag, the Juventas New Music Ensemble and composer Polina Nazaykinskaya create a fully realized world for Alexander Pushkin’s Snow White. Continue reading

May 30

Promo: The Magic Mirror

Promo by Gillian Daniels

Juventas New Music Ensemble will be presenting an interpretation of Snow White this weekend, Polina Nazaykinskaya’s The Magic Mirror.  Based on the version of the fairytale by Alexander Pushkin, the story is a classic that has been adapted for contemporary audiences. In this version of the tale, the seven dwarfs have been replaced with seven brothers and the Evil Queen’s perspective promises to be explored. Continue reading

May 29

“Faerie Tales” Double Feature


presented by Blue Spruce Theatre

Act 1: “Goblin Market”
by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon
Music by Polly Pen
Based on the poem by Christina Rossetti

Act 2: World Premiere of “The Rag Doll”
Music and Lyrics by David Reiffel
Book by Silvia Graziano

Directed by Jesse Strachman
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Kira Cowan

May 23-26, 2013
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Blue Spruce Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown) Blue Spruce Theatre’s Faerie Tales has a bit of charm, some nice music, and an engaging visual style. None of these things, however, manage to carry the show on their own. This is very sad as there are elements in the play, like fairies and the importance of family, that I adore when utilized in other media.

Faerie Tales uses two different stories that overlap in theme. The first act is devoted to adapting Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, to the stage. Laura (Teresa Winner Blume) and Lizzie (Abigail Clarke) are sisters who stumble on a magical fairy marketplace. Lizzie shies away from eating the market food and going near the animal-like creatures, but Laura is too taken with their strangeness and is immediately seduced into spending a night among the goblins. When her sister returns and begins to grow ill, Lizzie struggles to find a cure. Continue reading

May 21

“Pirates of Penzance” Pillages Hearts

Emily Casey, Sean Pfautsch, Matt Kahler, Ryan Bourque, Dana Omar. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

presented by American Repertory Theater
produced by The Hypocrites
by Gilbert & Sullivan
adapted by Sean Graney, Kevin O’Donnell
directed by Sean Graney

Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Hypocrites’ Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) The Hypocrites’ production of Pirates of Penzance is an absolute confection.  Adapting the beloved Gilbert and Sullivan operetta to a quirkier, more contemporary stage, Sean Graney and Kevin O’Donnell infuse the original libretto and its score with banjos, bathing suits, beach balls, and a warmth that charms but never cloys.  It’s energetic and just plain fun.

Premiering in New York in 1879, the original show has a long history of making audiences titter at lyrics like, “I am the very model of a modern major general.”  The comic opera lampoons Victorian concepts of honor, piracy, politeness, the literary inconveniences of being a foundling, and, most importantly, duty. Continue reading

Apr 19

“Beowulf”: A Badass, Raucous Production

Kickin'it olde school. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

Kickin’it olde school. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presented by American Repertory Theatre
A songplay by Banana Bag and Bodice
Text and lyrics by Jason Craig
Music by Dave Malloy
Directed by Rod Hipskind, Mallory Catlett

Oberon
Cambridge, MA
April 16 – May 5
A.R.T. Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) An aggressively weird audio feast, this Beowulf is a musical take on the millennia-old epic-poem. The dialogue performs the syntax gymnastics of Seamus Heaney’s translation while the songs are guttural and set to a frantic, pleasing percussion. Banana Bag and Bodice’s production, though, both honors the source material while dissecting it. Continue reading

Apr 02

Properly and Honestly: MASTER CLASS

Amelia Broome as Maria Callas; Photo: Rob Lorino

Presented by New Repertory Theatre

A play with music by Terrence McNally
Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA 02472
March 31 – April 21, 2013
New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown) Amelia Broome doesn’t use a Greek accent in her portrayal as international treasure and opera superstar, Maria Callas. The audience doesn’t have the luxury of knowing why Broome chose not to use an accent. Broome’s performance is effective without one so the reasons don’t matter.

Master Class is a grand opportunity for non-Classical singers (plebes) to experience the horror and joy that is operatic study. It is a (relatively) cheap vocal coaching for its length and history wrapped in a convenient package. The dialogue is only slightly dramatized for the benefit of the audience. The majority of Callas’ lessons and helpful hints are comments that any voice teacher could and would give her student. The majority of these same lessons and hints are conveyed in a similar manner as well. Continue reading

Mar 22

Not Your Daddy’s Rock Opera: URO’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Courtesy of the URO Facebook Page

Words and Music by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Presented by The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra*

The Norwood Theatre
109 Central St.
Norwood, MA
March 21st at 7:00 pm – March 24th at 2:00 pm
URO Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Norwood) The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra (URO) rocks. They have made a brilliant career out of rocking classics by musicians such as The Beatles, Bowie, and Queen. Last night’s performance of Jesus Christ Superstar was no exception. Put simply, they capture all the funk that Andrew Lloyd Weber missed. Continue reading

Feb 11

“Cinderella” Goes to Harvard

dunster

presented by the Dunster House Opera at Harvard University
Cendrillon by Jules Massenet

Directed by Katherine Moon ’14
Music Directed by George Fu ’13
Produced by Stephanie Havens ’14 and Marina Chen ’15

February 9 – 6th at 8:30 p.m.
Dunster House, Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Review by Nicola McEldowney

(Cambridge) The thing about going to a college production is this: it takes place at college. Therefore, coming into this production, I felt a great sense of trepidation, because I recently got over my own bout with college and I am still susceptible to triggers. Fortunately, I only have a few symptoms left: occasional twitching, a diploma and a pair of college-apparel socks. But here, it was dangerous: there were post-college stress disorder triggers everywhere. There were all the trappings of university life: the dining hall (where the production took place), the ill-rendered student council campaign poster deftly incorporating the “M-F” word, and of course, the nearly-full take-out container of sushi casually tossed in the trash. This kind of thing can transport you back to your own college days with the kind of nostalgia so profound it requires Kaopectate. Continue reading

Jan 26

No More Love on the Run*: Purcell’s THE INDIAN QUEEN

Purcell Queen

presented by the Handel and Haydn Society
Harry Christophers, Artist Director
Aisslinn Nosky, Concert Master
John Finney, Chorusmaster

January 25 & 27, 2013
Jordan Hall & Sanders Theatre
Boston, MA
Handel and Haydn Facebook Page

There are some culture-lovers reluctant to attend an evening of opera. Some fear pomp and stuffiness; others fear boredom. These fears encumber the uninitiated with false bias against the excellence that only classical music can convey. H&H’s performance of The Indian Queen was entirely lacking in snobbery and the program notes were jam packed with enough historical trivia to entertain a fidgety toddler. The music of Purcell was warm and gentle. It wrapped around the audience like an electric Snuggie; a balm for the bitter winter chill.   Continue reading

Nov 03

Overall A Charming Opera:The Barber of Seville

Photo credit: Longwood Opera; a touching moment on the balcony.

by Giacomo Rossini
Jeffrey Brody – musical director, J. Scott Brumit – stage director

presented by Longwood Opera

Fully staged, in English
Christ Episcopal Church
1132 Highland Ave.
Needham, MA
Friday, November 2, 8 PM and Sunday, November 4, 2:30 PM

Longwood Opera Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Needham)The Barber of Seville was made famous in popular culture by the Bugs Bunny cartoon, “The Rabbit of Seville,” in which Bugs violently shaves a reluctant Elmer Fudd. The beautiful music by Giacomo Rossini could charm the pants off of anyone with ears. It is the timeless warmth and wit of Rossini’s opera that would bring you to watch Longwood Opera’s production of Barber but it is the individual performances of the cast that would keep you in your seat.   Continue reading