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

Dec 11

Priscilla Dreams The Answer–And The Answer Is 42

The ensemble of Priscilla Dreams the Answer. Left to Right: Bob Mussett (Harry), Dakota Shepard (Zop), Caroline L. Price (Priscilla), Michael Caminiti (Simon), Emily Kaye Lazzaro (Zip). Photo Credit: Sarah E. Farbo

Priscilla Dreams The Answer by Walt McGough, Fresh Ink Theatre Company, The Factory Theatre, 12/8/11-12/17/11,  http://www.freshinktheatre.com/on-stage.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Douglas Adams would be proud of Walt McGough.  While Priscilla does not have to deal with a world that is already destroyed, she does have to find the answer to save both the Earth and another planet that has a close relationship with the Earth.  This clever and witty play takes the audience on a journey through space and time but never loses sight of the core humanity, which is the test of well-crafted science fiction. Continue reading

Dec 11

Better than a School Concert: big: the Musical

big:  The Musical, book by John Weidman, music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., Turtle Lane Playhouse, 12/9/11-12/30/11, http://www.turtlelane.org/showdetail.php?show=Big.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Auburndale, MA) My parents were forced to sit through some terrible school concerts, including an animal-themed choral concert which featured lyrics wondering why there were so many anteaters, but no uncle-eaters.  They fixed their smiles and did their duty.

If you’re a parent of one of the many children in the youth ensemble in big: the Musical, this will seem like a treat in comparison.  You have a reason to feel pride, as your child has discharged his or her role admirably, dancing and singing his or her heart out.  The night will pass quickly for you. Continue reading

Dec 10

Great Acting While on a Treadmill: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Photo Credit: Stratton McCrady

The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Davis Square Theatre, 12/7/11-1/1/12, http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/events/merry-wives-windsor-0.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville, MA) It’s one thing for a young theater troupe to be ambitious, but it’s something else to watch the troupe succeed in its ambition.

In its early history, the Actors’ Shakespeare Project has decided to skip the low-hanging fruit of the Bard’s body of work and reach for some of his more obscure works.  (Hands up for anyone who knows a single line from Troilus and Cressida, which the troupe performs in the spring.) Continue reading

Dec 08

Hope Held ‘HIGH’

Sister Jamison Connolly (Kathleen Turner) and Cody Randall (Evan Jonigkeit) in HIGH, Photo credit: Lanny Nagler

High by Matthew Lombardo, Broadway National Tour, Cutler Majestic Theatre,

12/7/11-12/11/11,  http://www.highonbroadway.com/about.html.  Male nudity, mature language and themes

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA)  

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”  Madeleine L’Engle

How do we find strength and salvation in the middle of pain and suffering?   Everyone tries to hide from pain and many people try to protect others from the experience, but the inevitability of life is that human beings get hurt.  We try to breathe and “be strong”–to not let anyone see that we are falling apart.  What if we all admitted that we are not perfect–that there isn’t even one person out there that could be categorized by society’s standards as “normal”?  High offers no escape from that darkness that lies inside of all of us and calls us to either face our flaws or recede further into our own shame. Continue reading

Dec 06

Announcement: The Cabaret Series: Journey Home

Central Square Theater presents

The Cabaret Series

Three Performances by The Circle Project

Tickets:  https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/9406285

More information:  http://www.facebook.com/events/320303664662501/

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Central Square Theater presents The Cabaret Series by The Circle Project. The three scheduled performances are:

Journey Home – December12, 2011  at 7:30pm

Just in time for the holidays, six young, talented friends and artists join each other to riff on the universal theme of “returning home” through reflections on their own growth and personal stories intermixed with contemporary songs by Beyonce, John Legend, and Adele and musical theater pieces by Scot Alan. Come home to Central Square Theater and be introduced to the members of The Circle Project.

You & I – February 13, 2012 at 7:30pm

One way or another, every song is a love song. Either it’s exultation and happiness or heartbreak and devastation. Are we miserable because we’ve listened to all these heartbreakingly romantic love songs or we heartbroken because we have idealized love from letting our emotions take us away? Share the joy and laugh away at the pain with songs by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, as well as American Classics like “Stormy Weather”, “Stranger in Paradise” and “It Had to Be You”.

Get Ready – May 21, 2012 at 7:30pm

Spring. The time of renewal and reenergizing takes full bloom as the change in the season invokes a mood, calling us to act upon winter hibernation and realize our dreams in the spring. Join The Circle Project for songs by Meredith Brooks and Sam Cooke and musical theater pieces by Leonard Bernstein, Michael John Lachuisa, and William Finn. Continue reading

Dec 05

ChristmasTime Dazzles

Photo Credit: Reagle Music Theatre

ChristmasTime, Reagle Music Theatre, 12/3/11-12/11/11, http://www.reagleplayers.com/current.html.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Waltham, MA) The Reagle Theatre, for its Christmas pageant, does not settle on a few simple scenes followed by the solemn Nativity.

This production takes its audience to as many locales as possible: a Cathedral interior, Santa’s workshop, a busy Victorian street, and a digest version of the Nutcracker performed almost completely by ballet dancers in teddy bear suits.  Christmas Time is energetic, all-encompassing, and exhausting in its depiction of the holiday. Continue reading

Dec 04

Hitting the Sweet Spot: The Velveteen Rabbit

Photo Credit: Boston Children's Theatre

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, adapted by Burgess Clark, original music by Austin Davy, Boston Children’s TheatreNancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 12/3/11-12/18/11,  http://bostonchildrenstheatre.org/season/the-velveteen-rabbit/.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

If the mark of a good play is its ability to transport you from your own day-to-day cares into another world, then the Boston Children’s Theatre’s The Velveteen Rabbit passes with flying colors. Continue reading

Dec 04

High-Voltage Holiday Cheer: A Christmas Carol: A Musical Ghost Story

David Coffee (Ebenezer Scrooge) and Gordon Baird (Jacob Marley). Photo by Paul Lyden.

A Christmas Carol:  A Musical Ghost Story. adaptation by Jon Kimbell, North Shore Music Theatre, 12/2/11-12/23/11, http://www.nsmt.org/.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA)  

There are two types of Christmas displays you can create with those dangly lights from the hardware store.  You can hang a string or two on a bush or you can cover every inch of your home’s exterior with sequenced glitz that spells out the lyrics of “Jingle Bells” and blinks a tableau of Santa feeding a reindeer.  Either option can be beautiful or ugly, depending on how it’s done.

The same holds true with staging Charles Dickens’ A Christmas CarolContinue reading