Jan 16

Laugh-Out-Loud Ridiculousness: LEND ME A TENOR

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Lend Me A Tenor by Ken Ludwig, Ciitizen’s Bank Performing Arts Series,The Palace Theatre,  1/13/12-1/28/12,  http://www.palacetheatre.org/event-calendar.aspx?event=442&dt=1/13/2012&category=ALL.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Manchester, NH)  They usually don’t hand out acting awards for comedies, and that is a crying shame.  Is it really harder for an actor to emote than pratfall down the stairs a dozen times a show?  Is biting dialogue really harder to memorize than fifty quick entrances and exits?  A farce may be light on character development, but it is a full-court press of physicality and split-second acting.

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Jan 14

Making Something out of Nothing: THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE

Hanley Smith and William Connell. Photo by Meghan Moore

The Voice of the Turtle, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 1/5/12-1/29/12, http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=103.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA)  In comic books, as in soap operas, you’re always hoping your favorite super hero will finally get his/her romantic mate.  It was such a relief when Lois finally slipped off Superman’s glasses and figured out that Clark was a world-beater.  And Peter Parker was always getting such a raw deal, even though he could have crushed his foes with his bare hands as Spider-Man, that it was a blessed event when Mary Jane finally noticed him.

But as soon as that happened, the characters stopped growing and the dialogue in the comics became just painful.  It would be “darling” this and “sweetie” that, with some artful fade-outs when the couple needed some alone-time.  The conversations grew so bad to read that you couldn’t wait for Lex Luthor to erase Lois’s memory with a Wipe-O ray gun and the courtship could start all over. Continue reading

Jan 14

GOD OF CARNAGE: All Hail The Glorious Executioners!

Johanna Day, Brooks Ashmanskas, Stephen Bogardus, and Christy Pusz in Yasmina Reza’s GOD OF CARNAGE. January 5 – February 6 at the BU Theatre. huntingtontheatre.org. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, Huntington Theatre Company, 1/6/12-2/5/12, http://www.huntingtontheatre.org/season/production.aspx?id=10226&src=t.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Yasmina Reza grabs the audience by the jugular and does not let go for an hour and a half.   The evening at the Novak’s house in God of Carnage could easily have a voice-over that says “when people stop being polite… and start getting real.”  However, unlike The Real World, Yasmina Reza brings a much more believable situation to its drama than any tv reality show.  By taking a situation that anyone can relate to and heightening it to the absurd degree, God of Carnage holds a mirror up to our inner demons and leaves us laughing through the pain.  Under the direction of Daniel Goldstein, with a talented cast, and a cleverly constructed set, Huntington Theatre Company’s production of God of Carnage is a “must-see” show of the season.

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Jan 13

Hovey Players Present CLOSER

From press release:

(January 13, 2012) — Hovey Players present CLOSER by Patrick Marber, directed by Kristin Hughes, and produced by Nicole Sparks.  The Cast includes Sara Jane Burns as Alice, Robin Gabrielli as Dan, Bill Stambaugh as Larry, and Melissa Sine as Anna.

CLOSER focuses on the complex relationships and sexual politics, and morality of four people trading partners in search of love, intimacy, and being closer. By turns funny, scabrous, and tragic, this winner of the 1998 Olivier Award for Best Play and the 1999 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play offers a brutal and honest look at the pitfalls of modern romance.

Performances are January 13, 14, 20, 21, 26, 27 & 28, at 8pm, and January 22 at 2pm.

Tickets are $18 General Admission and $15 Seniors and Students.

Performances will be at the Abbott Memorial Theater, 9 Spring Street, Joel’s Way, Waltham, MA, next to the Waltham Public Library.  Reservations can be made by calling (781) 893-9171 or you may email reservations@hoveyplayers.com.

Jan 09

My Dark Love: An Improvised Teen Gothic Romance: ImprovBoston Brings Raunch to Well-Mined Twilight

My Dark Love, music by Steve Gilbane and Rajiv Nunna, ImprovBoston, Fridays, 10pm, 1/7/12-2/17/12, http://www.improvboston.com/shows/my-dark-love. adult humor

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Few up-to-date on pop culture in the last few years have escaped the scourge of Twilight.  The book and film franchise have jumpstarted the paranormal romance genre and, in the process, have become the focal point of obsession and hatred for fans and detractors, respectively.  Something about the concept of a vampire falling for a teenager really polarizes audiences.   Continue reading

Jan 08

Riveting Art: RED

Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo — with Thomas Derrah and Karl Baker Olson.

Red by John Logan,  Speakeasy Stage, Virginia Wimberly Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 1/6/12-2/4/14, http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=red.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) It’s one thing to pull off an entertaining melodrama, it’s quite another to stage a debate on art and make it captivating.  While the play Red may be too intellectual to be everyone’s cup of tea, it is engrossing, especially in this strong production staged by SpeakEasy.

The two-person play centers on renowned 20th century visual artist Mark Rothko (Thomas Derrah) and his first attempt to create a series of murals for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.  Continue reading

Jan 04

Uncle Vanya’s House Party

John Kuntz as Uncle Vanya, Marissa Rae Roberts at Elena, Photos: Danielle Fauteux Jacques.

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov, Apollinaire Theatre Company, Chelsea Theatre Works, 12/29/11-1/22/12, http://www.apollinairetheatre.com/index.html.  Live gun fire in close proximity (blank gun)

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Chelsea, MA) It’s like being at your family’s holiday party, except for the relief that it’s not your family.  Words fly and passions rise as the audience travels from room to room glancing at the private moments of Vanya’s family.  Youth and beauty contrast with the harsh realities of country living as love and hope are thrown about bouncing from wall to wall.   Continue reading

Dec 17

A Good-Hearted Mashup: What the Dickens?!

What the Dickens?! Music & Lyrics by Adam Brooks and TC Cheever; Book by TC Cheever, ImprovBoston, 12/15/11-12/23/11, http://www.improvboston.com/whatthedickens.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Cambridge, MA) The holiday season is littered with entertainment chestnuts that get trotted out every year.  Some can get worn thin, like poorer productions of A Christmas Carol; others take on a hipster status, like the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

If you want to enjoy two holiday traditions at once, come see What the Dickens?!, a mashup musical that populates Dickens’ classic Christmas morality tale with Schultz’s Peanuts characters.  Watching this play is like downing an invented drink mixed at a holiday party: the two flavors may mix curiously, but it’s all good.  Continue reading

Dec 13

A Christmas Story: Resurrecting Americana for the Holidays

l. to r. Adam Freeman as Schwartz, Charlie Brodigan as Flick, Lexi Ryan as Esther Jane, and Andrew Cekala as Young Ralphie. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

A Christmas Story, adapted/written by Philip Grecian, New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 12/11/11-12/24/11, http://newrep.org/christmas_story.php.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA) Like the film it’s adapted from, the stage version of A Christmas Story paints a childhood spent during the holidays in a golden glow.  Yes, the flustered family of Ralphie (Andrew Cekala) meet nothing but frustrations as they try to pull Christmas together against mean-spirited neighborhood dogs, hideous bunny suits, and intimidating department store Santas, but their holiday is ultimately a nostalgic one. Continue reading

Dec 12

Three Pianos: Ambition, Anachronism, and a Fun Party

Dave Malloy, Alec Duffy, Rick Burkhardt. Photo Ryan Jensen

Three Pianos by Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy, and Dave Malloy, American Repertory Theatre, Loeb Drama Center, 12/7/11-1/8/12,  http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/three-pianos.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

In Three Pianos, Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy, and Dave Malloy look to reconcile the historical Schubertiade with more modern, boozy gatherings of friends.

The production believes there’s little difference between the parties that Schubert threw for his friends, prominent artists during the Romantic movement, and the soirees of contemporary audiences.  Particularly entertaining are the actors, in the guise of German guests, deciding who should go on a beer run. Continue reading