Sep 15

Is the Rhythm Nation Unionized? Or, Fun is Fun: Amazon’s “Cinderella” 

Produced by Amazon Studios 
Director and writer Kay Cannon
Musical score by Mychael Danna and Jessica Rose Weiss
Cinematography by Henry Braham
Film Editing by Stacey Schroeder
Songs arranged by Keith Harrison
Score performed by Synchron Stage Orchestra
Conducted by Johannes Vogel
Choreography by Ashley Wallen

Review by Kitty Drexel

Amazon — The new Cinderella by Amazon Studios and Kay Cannon is receiving many bad reviews. Cinderella isn’t bad. It’s mediocre. It’s Glee

This Cinderella is written for and appeals to a new generation of consumers. It’s not for us; it’s for a population of The Voice fans who skim Instagram as they tweet their deepest thoughts.

It’s sexist and racist. Women are still degrading themselves for men. The leads and most secondary characters are majority white. England is so busy attempting to correct its inherent classism that it can’t cast BIPOC as leads in the stories it appropriates. (It’s not enough to put non-white people in mainstream movies and TV. You’ve got to let them tell their own stories.)  Continue reading

Sep 05

Geeks Review Books: “Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created ‘Sunday in the Park with George'”

Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George”
By James Lapine
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374200091
Hardcover/e-Book
$40.00
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374200091
416 Pages

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — The world is on fire right now: Texas has nearly outlawed abortion access. The women and girls of Afghanistan are being systematically stripped of their human rights as the world watches. There is still a pandemic and not nearly enough people are getting vaccinated. People in Louisiana don’t have electric power. The West Coast is experiencing a severe drought. The people of Haiti are still recovering from a devastating earthquake on August 14. But, we’re still expected to behave like everything is okay. Things aren’t okay. 

I made a promise to post a book review in exchange for a copy of Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George.”  It was difficult to read this book. It isn’t the book’s fault that extenuating circumstances made focus of any kind difficult. August was a difficult month. The book itself is great. 

Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George” is a book by writer and director James Lapine on the genesis and exegesis of creating the famous musical with Stephen Sondheim about the paining “Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat.  Continue reading

Aug 31

Connecticut’s Flagship Producing Theaters Announce Mask and Vaccine Requirements

Article by Kitty Drexel

CONNECTICUT — A six-member consortium of Connecticut Flagship Producing Theaters announced mandatory indoor-space vaccination and mask requirements for all audience members, staff, crew, and artists to minimize exposure to COVID-19 said an August 30 press release. 

The theatres say patrons must be masked and fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine to attend an indoor performance. The vaccination and mask requirements are effective immediately and follow current CDC and state and local official guidelines. It represents a collective investment in the well-being of their respective audiences. 

Theatre vaccination and masking measures will be reassessed with changing conditions. Patrons should refer to a theatre’s website for specific requirements and possible exemptions (medical, age, etc.). 

Public Relations Manager Patricia Blaufuss said in an email, the CFPT will accept the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines from patrons.

On August 23, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 said the FDA website. It will be marketed as Comirnaty and available to treat COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older.  

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Janssen COVID-19 are approved for emergency use.

Please refer to these websites for more information on safety protocols and more information about seasons, ticketing, and other updates. 

About Connecticut Flagship Producing Theaters:

CFPT is comprised of six nonprofit institutions: Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Goodspeed Musicals, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, and Yale Repertory Theatre. Though distinctive in their missions, programming, and daily operations, CFPT members are significant contributors to Connecticut’s economy, responsible for $42M in direct economic activity each year, and enriching the lives of the more than 330,000 patrons who visit and enjoy CFPT productions annually.

Aug 20

14 Greater-Boston Theatres Announce Proof of Vaccination and Mask Requirements

Article by Kitty Drexel

  • Proof of vaccination or a Negative COVID-19 test is required
  • Masks must be worn
  • New survey results show majority of arts goers support these measures
  • Bindle, a digital vaccine record app, is free. http://www.joinbindle.com/people

BOSTON — Fourteen theatre companies in the Greater Boston area will require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for all artists, staff members, and audiences as live, indoor performances resume for the 2021/2022 season, said a press release dated August 19. Masks are also required. 

The list of participating theatres is below.

The press release said that these policies begin immediately and remain valid through October 31. Policies are per CDC guidelines and will be reevaluated as COVID-19 pandemic evolves. 

“Proof of vaccination may include showing either a vaccination card, a photo of the card, or a digital vaccine record (through an app such as Bindle at www.joinbindle.com/people),” said the press release. Audience members without proof of vaccination will be required to show proof of a recent negative COVID test before entering.

Individual theatres will list specific protocols and guidelines on their websites. At this time, New England Theatre Geek has received protocol updates from the Huntington Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and Central Square Theater in addition to the joint press release from the fourteen theatres. 

The New England Theatre Geek eagerly awaits updates from other New England performing institutions. “We are reluctant to attend or review indoor performances by organizations that do not enact similar protocols and safety measures,” said Queen Geek Kitty Drexel. 

“Our primary mission is to support our theatre community. We cannot do that if organizations aren’t first taking the necessary steps to protect their staff, crew and casts. Audience members can’t make informed decisions if they aren’t assured the community’s health is a priority.”  

The June 2021 results of the ArtsBoston Audience Outlook Monitor survey said that 73% of audiences plan to resume indoor performances by Sept 2021. Audience Outlook Monitor is a longitudinal survey to keep tabs on arts attendees thoughts, concerns and intentions as the pandemic and the state’s reopening guidelines evolve, said ArtsBoston.com.

The 14 theatre joint press release said that the most recent round of Audience Outlook Monitor survey data (collected August 9 – 13, 202) found that 80% of respondents indicated that proof of vaccination would make them more likely to attend indoor events. 50% said that proof of vaccination or negative COVID test is a prerequisite for their attendance. 98% of respondents reported being fully vaccinated or planning to do so. 

Theatres in New York City, Washington, DC, and Chicago have established similar policies requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and mask wearing.

It is good practice to stay home if experiencing COVID symptoms on the day of the performance. Common symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell. 

PARTICIPATING THEATRES:
Actors’ Shakespeare Project*
American Repertory Theater (ART)
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre*
Central Square Theater*
The Front Porch Arts Collective
The Gamm Theatre*
Gloucester Stage Company*
Greater Boston Stage Company*
The Huntington Theatre Company 
Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse*
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Moonbox Productions
SpeakEasy Stage Company*
Wellesley Repertory Theatre*
 *Member of New England Area Theaters (NEAT), an association of midsize theatres

Jun 22

Reintegration Through Art: “The Boston Project: Project Resilience”

Banner art by SpeakEasy Stage Co.

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company 
Written by Fabiola R. Decius, Adriana RoCale, Nico Pang, Hortense Gerardo, Paige Monopoli, and Magda Romanska
Performed by Cheryl Singleton, Garciela Femenia, Jupiter Lê, Paige Clark, Gigi Watson, and Darya Denisova
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons, Michelle Aguillon, Desire Bennett, Michelle Ambila, Alex Lonati, and Dmitry Troyanovsky

Running June 18-30, 2021
Streaming Online 
Speakeasy Stage Company on Facebook

Review by Afrikah Smith

ONLINE — Celebrating the unique identities and experiences that make up the city of Boston, Speakeasy presents The Boston Project: Project Resilience. Showcasing six original plays by Boston local playwrights, Project Resilience is part of Speakeasy’s initiative in supporting the creation of new play development set in Boston. Continue reading

May 31

You Sow What You Are: “TRACES/REMAIN: Seed to Harvest: The Wooden Book”

Banner by ArtsEmerson

TRACES/REMAIN
Seed to Harvest: The Wooden Book
Presented by ArtsEmerson
Based on the Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler 
Featuring the artistry of Toshi Reagon, Letta Neely, Deen Rawlins-Harris, Jenny Hughes, Dyllan Nguyen, Leo Alarcon
Parable Path Boston is Toshi Reagon’s year long artist residency at Emerson College
ArtsEmerson is a sponsor of Boston While Black.

April 8 – June 26, 2021
TRACES/REMAIN incorporates in-Person & online events. Please see below for more details. 
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Remaining opportunities to see/submit to the Wooden Book:
Frugal Bookstore, Nubian Square
MAY 24–JUN 07
57 Warren Street, Roxbury, MA 02119
Drop Off Hours: MON–WED 10:00AM–3:00PM;
THU–FRI 10:00AM–5:00PM
SAT 10:00AM–3:00PM
https://frugalbookstore.net
Sower Session: MAY 25 @ 5:30-7:00PM (Zoom)
Neighborhood Tabling Session: JUN 12 @ 4:00PM-6:00PM (Nubian Square Park)

Franklin Park Tennis Courts
JUN 06
Circuit Drive, Boston, MA 02130
Neighborhood Tabling Session: JUN 06 @ 1:00PM-3:00PM (Across from Lemuel Shattuck Hospital)

BCYF/Shelburne Community Center
JUN 10–24
2730 Washington St, Roxbury, MA 02119
https://www.boston.gov/departments/boston-centers-youth-families/bcyf-shelburne
Sower Session: JUN 10 @ 6:00-7:30PM
Neighborhood Tabling Session: JUN 13 @ 1:00PM-3:00PM (Malcolm X Park, behind Shelburne)

Egleston Branch Library 
JUN 26
2044 Columbus Ave, Roxbury, MA 02119
Culminating Celebration: 1:00PM–3:00PM
https://www.bpl.org/locations/22/

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — Moments from Reagon’s 2017 concert of her opera, Parable of the Sower still haunt me. So when I heard about Parable Path Boston, I got excited. When I heard about TRACES/REMAIN, I did a little wiggle-dance in my seat. Butler’s Parable Series is excellent reading whether you enjoy science fiction or not. It’s exciting to see Reagon and Butler inspiring new audiences. 

I signed up for the May 25 Sower Session and put a visit to the Frugal Bookstore in Nubian Square, Boston in my calendar. I Googled the series to remind myself of the content of the novels. I thought I was ready.  Continue reading

Mar 25

“Paradise Blue”: Rich and dynamic audio play

Presented by Audible Originals & the Williamstown Theatre Festival
Written by Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Sound design by Darron West
Music composed by Kenny Rampton and Bill Sims Jr 
With André Holland, Kristolyn Lloyd, Simone Missick, Keith Randolph Smith, and Blair Underwood
Williamstown Theatre Festival on Facebook

Audiobook is available at Audible.com on March 25 at 3 PM.

Review by Afrikah Smith

AUDIOBOOK — Rich, dynamic jazz fills my ears. Paradise Blue starts off with explosive keys, steady drums, a wailing trumpet solo, and a bang. The silence that followed piqued my curiosity until cymbals shook it off and the jazz picked up once again. We are whisked away to Paradise Club. The best place to hear jazz in Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood. Continue reading

Mar 17

A Review in Which the Magic Tricks Aren’t Described: “The Conjurors’ Club”

Geoff Kanick performs in ‘The Conjurors’ Club.’ Photo courtesy of A.R.T.

Presented by American Repertory Theatre
Created by Vinny DePonto and Geoff Kanick
Original Music by Alex Harris
Voiceover work by Artist Isuri Wijesundara
Opening Video by Gabe Jacobs
Video Voiceover by Isabela Salgado
Technical Consultancy by Joshua Samuels
Web Design by Eleanor Philips
Zoom Wizardry by Alycia Marucci and Sumner Ellsworth
Scenic/Background Consultancy by Heather Morris
Costume Consultancy by Alma Reyes Burgos
Lighting Consultancy by Joseph Lorenzen
Digital Systems Programming by Justin Paice & Michael Policare

March 12 – April 11, 2021
A virtual event
Stream HERE
Follow @TheConjurorsClub on social media

Disclaimer: This review contains minor spoilers. 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — The Conjurors’ Club starts long before the Zoom room opens with a brown 8.5 x 11 envelope with a stamp from Jean Eugene’s Fine Watches. This envelope arrives within another envelope from the American Repertory Theatre. Don’t open it! Its contents are a surprise. Continue reading

Mar 01

Black Spatial Relics Second Annual Convening, Day 3: A Day of Dreaming and Envisioning

Presented by Black Spatial Relics
Facilitated by Arielle Julia Brown

February 23rd-27th 2021
ZOOM & HowlRound Livestream
Black Spatial Relics on Facebook

Review by Afrikah Smith

ZOOM — Working towards a future for Black creative spaces that foster exploration, community, and liberation, Black Spatial Relics (BSR) hosts their second annual convening in celebration of their five-year anniversary. Running February 23rd to February 27th, the Black Spatial Relics Annual Convening is free and open to the public.

At its February 25th session, Black Spatial Relics presented three workshops hosted by 2020 BSR artists-in-residence Danielle Deadwyler and Ada Pinkston, and guest artist Angel Edwards.

In the first workshop, Deadwyler shared her documentary busitopen. Exploring Black womanhood and motherhood through the lives of four Black women, Deadwyler juxtaposed the repetition of sound, movement, and various historic images of working class Black women. Through each woman’s relationship to labor and love, Deadwyler focused on the practices of recollection, ritual, and their significance. Continue reading

Feb 04

The Horrors of Knocking: “No One at the Door”

No One at the Door” would be Odysseus’s catchphrase if he was a mailman.

Presented by Theatre of the Electric Mouth
written by Lyubomir Parushev
Directed by Molly Cohen
Sound by Zach Trebino
Video by Steve Barroga
Featuring Samantha Turret as Sam and Tom Vinson as Jack

Available on YouTube on Feb. 15, 2021
Theatre of the Electric Mouth on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

*Knock, knock*
Who’s there?
The Void.

YOUTUBE — “Where do you want to get dinner?” is a question that defines many modern relationships (like mine). In the case of Jack and Sam, domestic bliss is interrupted by a rapping, rapping at their chamber door. Sam asks Jack to answer the door. Jack can’t do anything right. Continue reading