Jan 27

Climate Terrors: “The Last Catastrophist”

Evelyn Holley as Marina and Shanelle Chloe Villegas as Lucia (L to R). Photo by Paul Fox.

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre Company
By David Valdes
Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz
Dramaturgy by Sarah Schnebly
Fight choreography by Marge Dunn

January 24 – February 8, 2020
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Fresh Ink on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Boston, MA — The opening of The Last Catastrophist coincides with a news update saying that the current president will repeal Obama era environmental protections for streams, wetlands, and groundwater. Repealing these measures is a step backwards from preventing the devastating effects of climate change on US lands. What small matter is clean, public drinking water so long as his precious golf courses are green? One can’t possibly spend one of every five working days golfing on his private business estates without golf courses greener than envy.

Water is life. Continue reading

Jan 24

“The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created by Back to Back Theatre, Australia
Authored by Michael Chan, Mark Deans, Bruce Gladwin, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Sonia Teuben
Directed by Bruce Gladwin
Composed by Luke Howard Trio – Daniel Farrugia, Luke Howard, Jonathon Zion
Performed by Michael Chan, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price

Jan. 23–26, 2020
Emerson Paramount Center’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
ArtsEmerson on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Boston, MA —  One of the ignoble truths of living as a disabled person is that people stare. People stare at us because we’re different. They stare because they can. Performance is one way that disabled people wrestle back control. We get to choose when people stare at us. It is liberating.

In Back to Back Theatre’s The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes, the disabled cast wants you to stare so they can stare back. And when they do, they do not flinch. I’d wager good money that Thursday night’s audience has never had their gaze turned back on them. Witnessing this was deliciously rewarding. Continue reading

Jan 23

Bickering is A Language of Love: “We All Fall Down”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
by Lila Rose Kaplan
Directed by Melia Bensussen
Jan. 10 – Feb. 15, 2020
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.” – Traditional song (American version)

Boston, MA — We All Fall Down is a family portrait that examines clashing egos during a period of family dilemma. The Stein family isn’t talking to each other. In their defense, they aren’t listening either. It’s Passover. Everyone has an agenda and none of them correspond. We All Fall Down is about the power we give denial. The stronger the denial, the tauter the family bond. Continue reading

Jan 17

Calling the Police Over a Picnic:”Pass Over”

Photo by Nile Scott Studios; Lewis D. Wheeler, Kadahj Bennett, Hubens “Bobby” Cius

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co. with The Front Porch Arts Collective
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Monica White Ndounou
Fight choreography by Brandon G. Green
Movement coaching by Mila Thigpen
Dramaturgy by Pascale Florestal

January 3 – Feb. 2, 2020
Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts
SpeakEasy on Facebook
The Front Porch on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: white guilt, language, fuck the police

(Boston, MA) The sheer volume of what one must understand as true regardless of personal belief in order to not merely understand but thoroughly digest Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over at SpeakEasy Stage is overwhelming. The role that white people play in perpetuating racism’s systemic horrorshow machinations against Black people (and all people of color) is astounding.

Here is a list of links containing basic concepts that could be helpful. 

  • It is not the responsibility of Black people to explain racism or to convince white people that it exists. 
  • Being nice isn’t the same as not being racist. Racist people are nice all of the time. Nice people are racist all the time.
  • Black friends won’t make a white person less racist. Dismantling internalized racism requires a lifetime of work.  
  • It should go without saying that Black people want equality. They don’t want to reverse their treatment at the hands of white people back onto white people. 
  • Racism is about power. Reverse racism doesn’t exist. 
  • White people have to stop taking personally Black resistance to oppression.  
  • All of this information is a Google search away. 

Continue reading

Dec 19

Light and Frothy Secular Fun: “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”

IBWC National Tour Company. Jeremy Daniel Photography, 2017. *Includes Makayla Joy Connolly

Presented by Work Light Productions
Based on the 1954 film “White Christmas by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner
Music directed by Michael Horsley

Boch Center Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St
Boston, MA
IBWC on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is the secular, heteronormative Christmas musical I didn’t know I needed to see the season. I was in a grumpy mood when last night. I was feeling so grinchy that I could have abandoned my theatre plans to don a furry, green unitard and guide an empty sleigh drawn by a single, overworked pup into the Boston streets. My mood was foul when the curtain rose. But, by the time the curtain went down, I was chipper with the holiday spirit. The dancing and singing in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is so infectiously charming that I had no choice but be swept into a better mood. Continue reading

Dec 18

Depth of Understanding: “Moby Dick”


Presented by American Repertory Theater
Music, Lyrics, Book, and Orchestrations by Dave Malloy
Based on Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Music Direction and Supervision by Or Matias
Choreography by Chanel DaSilva
Developed with and Directed by Rachel Chavkin

December 3, 2019 – January 12, 2020
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
ART on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Cambridge, MA) Moby-Dick, as director Rachel Chavkin said when talking about multihyphenate writer Dave Malloy, attempts to formally “capture Melville’s eclecticism”. The novel Moby-Dick has a chapter as a play, another as a poem, and wraps the tale of an ill-fated drive for vengeance alongside descriptions of whale types, and the many ways one can prepare and eat a whale. Continue reading

Dec 17

An Apocalyptic “Parade”

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Alfred Uhry
Directed by Jason Modica
Music direction by Catherine Stornetta
Choreography by Kira Troilo
Costume Design by Chelsea Kerl
Set Design by Lindsay Genevieve Fuori
Lighting Design by Steve Shack

Performance dates: Dec 15 – Dec 28, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, Roberts Theatre, 527 Tremont St., Boston: 
Facebook link

Review by Chloé Cunha

(Boston, MA) “Where will you stand when the flood comes?” An angry mob asks the ominous question, and Parade gives little comfort in its answer. Moonbox Production’s staging offers an apocalyptic vision of the past and present, with little optimism for the future. It’s a dizzying tale well-told, but the bleakness it offers may be tough to swallow in the present day when hope feels increasingly scarce. Continue reading

Dec 16

A Response to “Tuck Everlasting” at The Umbrella Stage Company

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company
Based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt
Book by Claudia Shear & Tim Federle
Music by Chris Miller
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis
Music direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Lara Finn Banister

December 6 – 22, 2019
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742
USC on Facebook

Response by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) I have wrestled with my response to the Umbrella Stage Company’s production of Tuck Everlasting. Writing this essay has been difficult. I do not publish these words lightly. It hurts my heart to do so. But, out of love for those who may be negatively impacted by this musical, I must. It is more important to protect children than it is to be polite.

Interpretations of art change over time. The innocuous children’s literature of a previous generation can serve as a clear warning signal to this one. Times have changed. Tuck Everlasting is no longer just a story about living life to its fullest. It is now also a story about predatory grooming and the community that would have excused the predatory behavior as normal.

Tuck Everlasting the musical is about the predatory grooming of a minor. In it, Jesse Tuck, a 102-year-old adult (sexual) predator who looks 17-years-old, meets pre-pubescent, 11-year-old girl Winnie Foster in the wilds of an NH forest. He begins grooming her for marriage while she is removed from parental oversight.

Winnie gets away from Jesse by chance because of an altercation with a gun. She is not saved by parental or community interference. She is not saved by her clever mind or spunky attitude. She is saved by chance.

Out of respect to the hardworking cast and crew of Everlasting Tuck, I cannot delve into the performative details of this musical. I am finding it impossible to separate their work from the context of the production.In any other context, I would happily sing their praises.  I apologize for this.

Everlasting Tuck could start a conversation about how predators groom children as well as communities. Unfortunately, the conversations I overheard at the theatre on Saturday afternoon told me that the audience instead took a hard left at discussing this necessary topic. It is not more important to congratulate hardworking friends than it is to point out social evils.

I understand why no one was saying anything; no one wants to be the bad guy by pointing out the obvious dangers in the room. I don’t mind incurring blame if it means children are protected from sexual predators like the White Rhino Report’s Al Chase and Boston Children’s Theatre’s Burgess Clark. Communities enable predatory grooming by ignoring the signs and making excuses instead.

A lot of grooming looks normal from the outside. It is up to a community to notice the signs of predatory behavior and put a stop to them. I’ve listed resources to help identify it below.

Community politics are not more important than protecting children. I did not speak up when I was a little girl involved in a poisonous theatre production. I am speaking up now.

Resources:

Dec 06

The Joy and Sadness of “Oliver!”

The cast of Oliver! Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Lionel Bart
Directed and Choreographed by Michael J. Bobbitt
Music Direction by Sariva Goetz

December 2-29, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Watertown, MA) From before this show began, I was in high spirits. En route to the theater, the soundtrack played in my mind. Once at the Mosesian Center for the Arts hall, surrounded by the gorgeous set, I paused – nervous about my ability to give an impartial review. I have fallen in love with and seen the 1968 movie rendition umpteenth times. I did not have much to worry about though, even as I anticipated lines, reacted to choreography or held my breath through differences between the stage version and screenplay. Continue reading

Dec 04

“Luminarium In Concert” Playing December 6 & 7

Presented by Luminarium Dance Company
December 6 & 7, 2019
Multicultural Arts Center
41 Second Street
Cambridge MA
Luminarium on Facebook
Tickets starting at $18

Announcing Luminarium’s 2019 Feature Production

LUMINARIUM IN CONCERT

(Cambridge, MA) Luminarium Dance Company triumphantly ends its 2019 Season with its feature production LUMINARIUM IN CONCERT—a melding of contemporary, Odissi, and unique lighting that catapults live performance to a whole new level. Venture into Luminarium’s world of movement and light where fanciful animals are brought to life through shadow-play; witness the exhilaration of combat sport beyond the ring; sink into the luscious imagery of a new screendance film; and delight in an amusing and provocative examination of “self,” all in a night’s work.

LUMINARIUM IN CONCERT features Company Members Jessica Chang, Devon Colton, Melenie Diarbekirian, Merli V. Guerra, Amy Mastrangelo, Katie McGrail, and Jennifer Roberts, and Satellite Company Members Victoria Kreutzer and Karina McKenna.

DECEMBER 6 & 7 @ 8PM
Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second Street, Cambridge MA.

RUN TIME
Roughly one hour, including intermission.