Jun 21

Sexy & Romantic: “Venus & Adonis”

Presented by Cambridge Chamber Ensemble
Music by John Blow
Libretto by Anne Kingsmill Finch or Aphra Behn
From Ovid’s Metamorphosis 
Stage direction by David R. Gammons 
Music direction by Stephanie Beatrice
Choreography by Alissa Cardone
Supratitles by Danielle Shevchenko 
Concert-master, Ming-hang Tam

June 17, 18, 19, 2022
Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center
41 2nd Street
East Cambridge, MA

Review by Kitty Drexel

Apologies to the cast, orchestra, and crew of Venus & Adonis. Family issues (including a COVID scare) prevented me from publishing this review on time. Mea culpa. 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Cambridge Chamber Ensemble’s production of John Blow’s Venus & Adonis was delightful. It was under an hour and packed in more action in 60-minutes than other Baroque operas do in 150 minutes. If you missed it, that’s a damn shame. Donate here and catch the next one. 

Adonis & Venus is a romantic opera. Cambridge Chamber Ensemble’s production was sexy. It needed an intimacy director. Continue reading

Jun 19

An Interview with Samantha Gould of Open Door Theater: “The Lightning Thief”

Presented by Open Door Theater
Book by Joe Tracz Music & Lyrics by Rob Rokicki
Adapted from the book The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Directed by Stephanie Henry and Brian Kelly
Musical Direction by J. Parker Eldridge

June 24, 25, and 26, 2022
Rain dates June 27 and 28
Outdoors at NARA Park Amphitheater
25 Ledge Rock Way
Acton, MA 01720

Friday, June 24 at 7:30pm / ASL, open captioning, sensory-friendly
Saturday, June 25 at 2:00pm / ASL, open captioning, sensory-friendly
Saturday June 25th at 7:30pm / ASL, open captioning, sensory-friendly, audio described
Sunday, June 26 at 2:00pm / ASL, open captioning, sensory-friendly, audio described

Interview conducted by Kitty Drexel

ACTON, Mass. — President & Executive Producer Samantha Gould of Open Door Theatre graciously agreed to an email interview ahead of Open Door Theater’s production of The Lightning Thief. This email has been edited lightly for grammar and clarity.

Queen Kitty: For those unfamiliar with Open Door Theater, please introduce yourself and the company to the New England Theatre Geek readership. 

Samantha Gould: Open Door Theater is an all volunteer non-profit community theater with a mission of equity and access and inclusion since 1980. 

Open Door Theater was awarded the Most Accessible Cultural Organization in the Commonwealth from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Up Initiative in 2019, having been an inaugural UP member in 2015. Each year we try to improve our reach by expanding our inclusive design practices and bettering ourselves.  Continue reading

Jun 16

Liminal Spaces for Desettlement: “The Orchard”

The Making of THE ORCHARD Virtual Experience from Igor Golyak on Vimeo.

Presented by Arlekin Players Theatre & (zero-G) Lab
Conceived, adapted, and directed by Igor Golyak
Based on The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, as translated by Carol Rocamora 
With new material by Igor Golyak 
Robotics designed by Tom Sepe
Music composition by Jakov Jakoulov
Emerging technologies design by Adam Paikowsky
American Sign Language direction by Seth Gore
Translations by Carol Rocamora
Full creative crew credits are HERE
Featuring Jessica Hecht, Juliet Brett, Darya Denisova, Elise Kibler, John McGinty, Nael Nacer, Mark Nelson & Ilia Volok
Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov and Firs

June 16 – July 3, 2022
The Orchard is a hybrid piece of theater and can be seen in two formats:
Live & In-Person
Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC
&
Virtual Experience, Online
(zero-G) Lab

The show runs just under 2 hours, with no intermission.

Review by Kitty Drexel

This review is of the virtual performance of The Orchard on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

New York & Online — The Arlekin Players are no strangers to the digital theatre. Their productions of chekhovOS / an experimental game/, Witness, and State vs. Natasha Banina were wildly successful. chekhovOS / an experimental game/ and Witness were both live and audience-interactive in ways that the theatre community hadn’t seen before. These shows navigated the new frontier of digital theatre by showing artists and audiences what is possible. 

They were also super cool to watch.  Continue reading

Jun 14

Finding Songs in Sorrow: “Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie”

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Devised by David M. Lutken with Darcie Deaville, Helen Jean Russell, and Andy Teirstein
Directed by Nick Corley and Sherry Lutken
Music direction by David M. Lutken
Featuring Darcie Deaville, Maggie Hollinbeck, David M. Lutken, Andy Tierstein

June 8 – 22, 2022
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Merrimack Ales,
92 Bolt Street
Lowell, MA 01852
The Playbill

2 hours with intermission

Review by Craig Idlebrook

LOWELL, Mass. — In the 21st century, the folk singer can easily be a target of ridicule, an archetype in American music which is somehow prone to both over-earnestness and affectation. However, the folk singer had more earnest origins. Folk music, as most know it, was made up of storytelling songs passed down and performed by families and groups of people, and it was the folk singer’s job to find and share these songs. Continue reading

Jun 14

Jam, Jive and Everything: “Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical Show”

The company; Photo by Nile Scott Photography

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Co-produced with The Nora at Central Square Theater and The Front Porch Arts Collective
Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. & Murray Horwitz
Musical Adaptions, Orchestrations, and Arrangements by ​Luther Henderson
Directed and Choreographed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent
Co-Choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
Co-Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez and David Freeman Coleman

June 9-26, 2022
Greater Boston Stage Company
395 Main Street
Stoneham, MA 02180
Runtime: 2 hours including intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

STONEHAM, Mass. —  Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a show that builds and builds until the energy and the intensity seem unsustainable. Then it builds some more. The musical opens with the titular song and spans the great career of Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller. There is little dialogue but a lot of impressive dancing. 

The red Art Deco set by Jon Savage, Aria Pegg, and Tori Oakes transports the audience to a speakeasy deep in the bowels of New York. The audience is flanked by large-scale landscape murals depicting Black jazz musicians and dancers a la Josephine Baker. The stage extends close to the first row to give the cast plenty of room to stomp, prowl, and wiggle. Café tables are placed on the edges of stage left and right.  Continue reading

Jun 11

Believe Victims, Listen to Black Women: “The Light” at the Lyric Stage

Photo by Mark S Howard; Dominic Carter and Yewande Odetoyinbo.

Presented by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston
By Loy A. Webb
Directed by Jacqui Parker
Intimacy direction by Ted Hewlett
COVID safety officer: Emily Collins
Music credit: “Natural High” from the EP “After Hours,” Allyssa Jones feat. Apollo Payton
Featuring: Dominic Carter and Yewande Odetoyinbo

June 3-June 26, 2022
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
140 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116
The Playbill 
70 minutes with no intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — The Light at Lyric State of Boston demands its audience believe victims, to listen to them. Trust their stories; lead with compassion. 

In a 2020 article by the American Psychological Association, “Black Women Often Ignored by Social Justice Movements,” lead researcher Stewart Coles said “Black women are often overlooked in people’s conversations about racism and sexism even though they face a unique combination of both of these forms of discrimination simultaneously.” Continue reading

Jun 04

Could be Better, Could be Worse: American Repertory Theater’s “1776”


Presented by American Repertory Theater
Produced in association with Roundabout Theatre Company
Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Based on a Concept by Sherman Edwards
Directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus
Music Direction by Ryan Cantwell
Choreography by Jeffrey L. Page
Music Supervision by David Chase
Orchestrations by John Clancy
Vocal Design by AnnMarie Milazzo
Dialect Coaching (NYC) by Dawn-Elin Fraser
Dialect Coaching (Cambridge) by Erika Bailey
Fight Direction by Thomas Schall

May 17 – July 24, 2022
Loeb Drama Center
Cambridge, MA
Run Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

The mask goes over your nose.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Contemporary performances of Stone & Edwards’ 1776 are a response to Hamilton. The 1997 Broadway revival production at the Roundabout Theatre had an all white, all cis male cast (with Star Trek TNG’s Brent Spiner in the role of John Adams). American Repertory Theater tries something different with its 2022 production. It is largely successful thanks to the brave, button-pushing performances of its actors. 

1776 is the reproduction of the infamous congressional meetings that lead to the United States’ declaration of independence on July 4, 1776. John Adams (Crystal Lucas-Perry), Benjamin Franklin (Patrena Murray), and Thomas Jefferson (Elizabeth A. Davis) cajole the members of the Continental Congress into voting for American independence from British tyranny.  Continue reading

Jun 01

Something worth straining for: “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Madeleine Barker and Kayla Shimizu in NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 at Wilbury Theatre Group; photo by Erin X. Smithers.

Presented by Wilbury Theatre Group
Book, music, and lyrics by Dave Malloy
Directed by Josh Short
Costume design by Meg Donnelly
Sound and lighting design by Andy Russ
Scenic Design by Keri King, Max Ponticelli, and Monica Shinn
Intimacy Direction by Susie Schutt
Music Supervision by Milly Massey
Choreography by Ali Kenner Brodsky

May 26 – June 19, 2022
WaterFire Arts Center
4 Valley Street, Providence RI
Tickets

Review by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

PROVIDENCE, RI — I woke up this morning to an aching neck and shoulders: a theater hangover. Last night, for two hours straight, I perched on the literal edge of my seat, craning and twisting in all directions, soaking in all there was to see and hear. This morning, I’m reminded, for the first time in well over two years, of how it physically feels to experience a story unfold, not at me, but with me.

To the creative team behind Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 at the Wilbury Theatre Group: thank you for creating something worth straining for. Continue reading

May 23

USDAC, the Arts & Mutual Aid: “Artists and Healers as Essential to Recovery from Crisis: A Reflection on Trying Times”

Images from the event. This discussion featured jackie sumell (The Prisoner’s Apothecary), Auntie Sewing Squad, Ana Rodney, and Taja Lindley.

A discussion presented by The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) with 18th Street Arts Center, in L.A.
Part of WE RISE 2022
Friday, May 20, 2022 6 pm-7:30 pm ET
ONLINE 
We Rise 2022 on Facebook
U.S. Department of Arts and Culture on Facebook

Review by Afrikah Smith

“As we have seen time and time again, when the governments fail us, it’s the people who come together and help communities survive…”  —Raquel de Anda, panel facilitator

ZOOM — Presented by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the discussion centered on the intersection of arts and mutual aid and what it means to create and be in community with one another. Emphasizing the ways that are anti-oppressive and that uplift and respect one another in community, the panel featured jackie sumell of The Solitary Gardens & Prisoner’s Apothecary, Kristina Wong and the Auntie Sewing Squad, Ana Rodney of MomCares, and interdisciplinary artist Taja Lindley. All whose work exemplified art, healing, and mutual aid efforts through the lenses of abolition, radical care, reproductive justice, transformative justice, and racial justice. Continue reading

May 09

So I Turned Myself to Face Me: “Blythely Ever After”

Stephanie Blythe as Blythely Oratonio. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Directed by John Jarboe
Music direction & arrangements by Daniel Kazemi
Cowritten by John Jarboe & Stephanie Blythe 
Blythely, flower, costumes and throne designed by Machine Dazzle with Rebecca Kanach
Original sound design by Dan Perelstein Jaquette 

May 6, 2022 at 7:30 PM
Royal Boston
279 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02116

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Opera is not dead. Opera has the potential to thrive in these interesting times. Stephanie Blythe ushers in its new dawn as Blythely Oratonio, a drag king with a most ostentatious countenance, in Blythely Ever After. Opera, the culture, need only evolve with its denizens to survive. 

Drag queen Sapphira Cristál, she of the six-octave range, opened the concert in a stately purple taffeta robe with “Dich Teure Halle” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. She sang live but she was so pitch-perfect that she sounded recorded. This aria sounds as good sung by a queen if not better than it does by a princess soprano. Continue reading