Dec 28

Welcome to the Party, Pal: “Yippee Ki Yay” at The Huntington

Darrel Bailey; photo by Rod Penn.

Presented by The Hungtington
A Die Hard parody
Produced by James Seabright
Written by Richard Marsh
Directed by Hal Chambers
Performed by Darrel Bailey

December 27-December 31, 2023
Huntington Theatre 
264 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 

The digital playbill 

Run Time: 75 minutes no intermission

Recommended for ages 14+

Review by Kitty Drexel 

BOSTON, Mass. — Bruce Willis told us Die Hard is not a Christmas movie in 2018.

Richard Marsh’s Yippee Ki Yay is a Die Hard parody, but it’s not about Die Hard. It’s about love: the love between a man and his favorite film, the love between two Die Hard uberfans, and the love between an NYPD cop and his shoes.

Yippee Ki Yay: The Die Hard Parody is visiting The Huntington through December 31. There are only a few performances left.

Allow me to explain why nearly everyone needs to see this one-man tour de force play about a Bruce Willis movie from 1988. It’s come from the Edinburgh Fringe (Do we want a fringe festival in Boston? Support fringe shows to get a fringe festival.) for audiences of most ages whether those ages enjoy action films or not. Bailey performs the play like an epically kinesthetic standup routine. Only people who hate fun dislike standup comedy. Continue reading

Nov 04

Epic Theatre Adventure in Boston: “The Blue Man Group”

Photo via Blue Man Group Boston

Presented by Blue Man Productions
Created, written and directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton, Chris Wink
Blue Men: Mike Brown, Adam Erdossy, Bryce Flint-Somerville, Kean Haunt, Dan Keilbach, Jason McLin, Eric DeLima Rubb 
Musicians: Ryan Ainsworth, Kevin Asmus, Jonathan Dusoe, Kyle Harris, Oliver Hofer, Tony Irons, Alexander McGillivray, Victor McSurely, James Murphy, Darren Ray, Robb Simring, Randall Wooten

Performances are ongoing
The Charles Playhouse
74 Warrenton St
Boston, MA 02116

Duration: approximately 90 minutes. 

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Blue Man Group has performed in Boston at the Charles Playhouse for over 25 years. In October, the show added new sketches, new music, and new videos from the creative agency Pretty Damn Sweet. The show has even updated its grand finale to appeal to new audiences.  

Blue Man Group invited us to the new show on Nov. 2. Our press tickets gave us VIP access. The VIP package for ticketholders includes a bag of Blue Man goodies such as a branded water bottle, sunglasses, and lip balm. It got us a fun lanyard and ensured we could take photos with the Blue Men after the show at a meet-and-greet.  Continue reading

Oct 03

Lyric Stage Company Shares Death of Spiro Veloudos, Producing Artistic Director Emeritus

Spiro Veloudos. (Courtesy Lyric Stage Company)

BOSTON, Mass. — The Boston theatre community mourns today. 

The Lyric Stage Company of Boston announced the death of Spiro Veloudos, the long-time producing artistic director of Lyric Stage Company of Boston and avid supporter of small and mid-sized theatres, on October 3, 2023. He was 71. 

His death was confirmed on Monday night, October 2, by his sister, Shelia Demetriadis of Richmond, VA.

An accessible-to-all, loving Boston Globe announcement and obituary by Don Aucoin for Spiro Veloudos is available on the Lyric Stage website. 

The Lyric Stage Company sent a note of remembrance, penned by current Producing Artistic Director Courtney O’Connor to its email list at 10:50 AM today. It links to the Aucoin article. 

Spiro Veloudos was the producing director at Lyric Stage Company through 2019. He directed more than 65 productions at the Lyric: Nicholas Nickleby, Avenue Q, Assassins, Souvenir, Death of A Salesman, Noises Off, Superior Donuts, and Into the Woods. He directed ten Sondheim shows over twenty seasons through his Sondheim initiative. 

Veloudos earned the Best Director IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards multiple times. He received the 2006 Elliott Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Salem State College, and the StageSource Theatre Hero Award (2003). He was named Best Artistic Director by Boston Magazine in 1999.

A more personal obituary for Veloudos is on Honoring Memory

Mr. Veloudos, you were a force of good in Boston. You are missed. 

May Mr. Veloudos’ legacy be a blessing to our theatre community.

Boston, MA – 02/23/17 – Spiro Veloudos on the Lyric Stage (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter: (Don Aucoin) 

Sep 09

Welcome and Safe Travels, Sweet Child: “Walk with Amal” events on Sept. 7

Photo by Queen Kitty. Amal receives a prayer from an American Native tribal representative welcoming Amal to Boston. 

Presented by ArtsEmerson, American Repertory Theater, Company One, and many others. 
Performed by Walk with Amal
Artistic producer Amir Nizar Zuabi
Producers: David Lan & Tracey Seaward
The Walk Productions in association with Handspring Puppet Company 
Puppetry Director: Enrico Dau Yang Wey
Technical Director: Muaz Jubeh
Puppeteers: Ashley Winkfield, Ashley Winkfield, Bartolomeo Bartolini, Craig Leo, Emma Longthorne, Fida Zaidan, Mouaiad Roumieh, Nicole Baker, Sebastian Charles, Troy Feldman, Yukari Osaka

Sept. 7 – 9, 2023
Various locations in Massachusetts
City of Boston website has updated information

BOSTON, Mass. — ArtsEmerson, the City of Boston, and members of the journalism and arts communities extended a warm welcome to Little Amal on September 7 at the Rowes Wharf Rotunda, Boston. It was there that she began her journey of 6,000 miles across the US. 

You are welcome here, sweet friend (and caregivers!). We wish you safe and peaceful travels across this uniquely great but troubled nation. 

Amal is a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl. Her name means “hope” in Arabic. She has already journeyed across many countries, and she carries a message of hope for displaced people everywhere. 

There is a home for you. Our human potential for compassion is boundless. Continue reading

Aug 29

Geeks Read Books: “Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein: A Study of Influence” by Dr. Rebecca Schmid

Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein: A Study of Influence
by Dr. Rebecca Schmid, PhD in Musicology
226 Pages
67 music exx. and 4 b/w illus.
Series: Eastman Studies in Music
Series Vol. Number: 189
Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Hardcover
9781648250606
June 2023
$105.00 / £90.00

Ebook (EPDF)
9781800109315
June 2023
$29.95 / £24.99

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Dr. Rebecca Schmid’s Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein: A Study of Influence examines the influence of Kurt Weill on the careers and egos of Marc Blitzstein and Leonard Bernstein (in addition to other notable artists such as Lotte Lenya, Stephen Sondheim, Igor Stravinsky, Bertolt Brecht, and even playwright and critic Dorothy Parker). It became available in June 2023 and may be purchased via the University of Rochester Press on the Boydell & Brewer website.

Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein: A Study of Influence is a largely successful work that will complement the library of Weill, Blitzstein, and Bernstein scholars if those scholars skip over Schmid’s first chapter “Why Influence?” Schmidt begins the chapter by quoting T.S. Eliot: “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone… His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.”  Continue reading

Aug 10

You’re Welcome to Walk (Concrete Info TBD): Little Amal Walks Across America


The Walk Productions in association with Handspring Puppet Company
Presented by ArtsEmerson, American Repertory Theatre, Company One, the Institute of Contemporary Art, The City of Boston, and many others. 

September 7 – 9, 2023
Dewey Square, Boston — 4:00 PM
Chinatown Gate, Boston — 4:30 PM
Length: Two Hours

BOSTON, Mass. — On September 7, 2023 at 4 PM – 6 PM, Little Amal will begin her journey of 6,000 miles across the United States in Boston as part of the largest free public festival ever created bearing messages of compassion, empathy, and hope. She remains in Boston through September 9.

The “Walk with Amal” website says that Little Amal’s name means “hope” in Arabic. She is a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee child.

Her urgent message is simple: “Don’t forget about us.”

Little Amal’s journeys across the world carry a message of hope for all displaced people and children separated from their families. She has traveled across 13 countries and met more than a million people.

Everyone is welcome to walk with Amal. Continue reading

Jul 17

Every Story is a Galaxy of Stars: “The Boy Who Kissed The Sky”

Presented by Company One Theatre in partnership with the City of Boston’s Office of Arts and Culture
By Idris Goodwin
Music by Divinity Roxx and Eugene H. Russell IV
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Music directed by David Freeman Coleman
Choreography by Victoria Lynn Awkward
Dramaturgy by afrikah selah

The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Rd
Boston, MA 02125

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — The cast of The Boy Who Kissed the Sky performed admirably on Saturday evening despite technical difficulties and intense heat. The beloved Strand Theatre is old and, despite its renovations, failed under the extreme heat. The actors and band met the moment with indomitable will and aplomb. 

Idris Goodwin’s The Boy Who Kissed the Sky is a fantasy on the childhood of Jimi Hendrix in music, dance, and color. A Boy (Errol Service Jr.) lives with his father (Cedric Lilly) in Seattle. The Boy imagines universes across a history of rock music with pencil set to paper as he strums a broom that bleeds corn bristles.

His multidimensional, intergenerational guide and musical conscience is J. Sonic (Martinez Napoleon). Together with the groovy Feedbacks (Yasmeen Duncan, Kiera “Kee” Prusmack, James Turner, and Adriana Alvarez) they witness a world of experiences so the Boy can find his own rock n roll voice.  Continue reading

Mar 13

Show More, Explain Less: “POV: You Are An AI Achieving Consciousness”

Presented by CirqueSaw
Created by Nathan Leigh
Performed by Nicole Orabona

March 9-18, 2023
A Virtual Event
Zoom access required
40 Minutes

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ONLINE — I greatly respect artists who are involved in every aspect of the creation process of their art, but I don’t advise it. Creator Nathan Leigh is a multi-hyphenate who wrote, composed, directed, coded, and designed POV: You Are An AI Achieving Consciousness. Such intimacy with his work means he knows he can track every nuance and fine detail.

Such intimacy does not grant Leigh a fresh perspective or even moderate insight into glaring problems. In academic circles, this is when a professor would invite the dreaded reviewer #2 into the editing process.

Reviewer #2, in theory, should offer handy advice that a writer hasn’t considered. This is almost never the case in scientific circles. In artistic workshopping, it will be helpful if the artists are open-minded. It is in the spirit of creating thoughtful and mind-enriching art that I offer the following critique. Continue reading

Nov 09

Racism, Misogyny and Old White Men Oh My! I’d Like to Put Jack Back in The Box: A “Jack in the Box” book review

Jack in the Box or, How to Goddamn Direct
By Jack O’Brien
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hard cover/e-book
$28.00/$14.00
272 pages
ISBN 9780374603830

Review by Alyssa O

The Interwebs — Three-time Tony Award winning director Jack O’Brien has a lot to say about theater. And why shouldn’t he? Throughout the course of his decades-spanning career he’s worked with all the greats; Mike Nichols, Neil Simon, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the list keeps going.

He’s collected all of these tales in his latest book, Jack in the Box, or How to Goddamned Direct.

The book is, in its best moments, part no-holds-barred manifesto on trusting your instincts, and part memoir of the good old days of theater, rife with juicy behind the scenes show-biz anecdotes about people you’ve definitely heard of. What working director wouldn’t want a peek inside that box?

Jack in the Box really shines as a charming, rip roaringly funny read that affirms the unexpected joys of working in the theatre. The brilliance of this book is that it’s not a how-to manual. It delivers nothing in terms of rules or actionable instructions an eager neophyte director can take back to the rehearsal room.

What it does do is celebrate the fact that whether you’re throwing together your first rehearsal in a local church basement or at the Old Globe Theater, nobody really knows what the heck they’re doing. Theater is an experiment, there is no road map, and that is a beautiful thing.

Plenty of big names have already sung the book’s praises. Ethan Hawke calls Jack in the Box, “magic… illuminating, insightful, and essential.”

Nathan Lane says it’s, “the most candid, eloquent, hilarious and moving explanation I’ve ever read on the subject [of directing].”

But, I’m guessing that if you’re reading New England Theater Geek, you’re looking for a different take. Gosh darn it, I’m here to give it to you.

Unfortunately, Jack in the Box takes a hard-left turn into old-white-man land that I cannot endorse or recommend to any contemporary director working to build a more inclusive world.

Whether it’s hints on how to deal with difficult cast members (spoiler alert: in his career he can only think of two moments of “stop-the-music adversity, both involving actresses”) or how to approach “edgy” humor involving racial stereotypes (I’m not even going to do a pull-quote from his anecdote about his old pal Jerry Lewis going for it with Jew jokes. In a world where antisemitism is dangerously on the rise again, I don’t know what editor thought it would be cute to keep that one in.)

Jack in the Box is woefully out of step with the values of most modern theatre creators. I can’t even recommend it as a fun if slightly out of touch read about the Golden Days of Theater.

I am, however, comforted by the fact that men like O’Brian are dinosaurs. He and his ilk will soon retire to their nursing home for obsolete fogies and leave us to take over a Zeitgeist with rulebooks they haven’t written. We inherit a global theatre community where there’s space for a variety of perspectives and where racism and misogyny aren’t excused as simply being “from a different time.”

Oct 28

The Precise and the Indefinable: “On Beckett” 

Photo via https://artsemerson.org/events/on-beckett/

Presented by ArtsEmerson, with Irish Repertory Theatre 
Produced by Octopus Theatricals
Conceived and performed by Bill Irwin
Based on the writings of Samuel Beckett, Texts for Nothing, The Unnamable, Watt, and Waiting for Godot.

October 26 – 30, 2022
Open Captioning, Oct. 29, at 2:00 PM
Audio Description, Oct. 30, 2:00 PM
Emerson Paramount Center
559 Washington St
Boston, MA 02111

Beckittns on Instagram

90 minutes, no intermission

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ArtsEmerson isn’t asking you to turn your phone off for its health. Turn your damn phone off, you git. 

BOSTON, Mass — On Beckett is a masterclass taught by Bill Irwin on the works of playwright, novelist, Nobel Prize winner, and, among other things, WWII resistance fighter Samuel Beckett. Irwin’s dedicated performance, journalistic dramaturgy, and storytelling transcend the medium of the solo show. 

On Beckett isn’t merely a performance incorporating the works of the infamous playwright; it is a doctorate-level dissertation. Emerson, give Irwin his honorary Ph.D.     Continue reading