Aug 13

Hip Hooray for Shakespeare: BLO’s “Romeo & Juliet”

L-R VANESSA BECERRA AND RICARDO GARCIA AS THE TITLE CHARACTERS IN BLO’S PRODUCTION OF ROMEO & JULIET.
Photo by Nile Scott.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
In partnership with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
Music by Charles Gounod
Libretto by Jules Barbier & Michel Carré, after William Shakespeare
English text by Edmund Tracy 
Performance edition by David Angus, Steven Maler and John Conklin
Conducted by David Angus
Directed by Steven Maler
Dramaturgy by John Conklin
Choreography by Victoria L. Awkward
Fight direction by Nile Hawver
The Playbill 

For Accessibility Information and Questions, BLO Audience Services can be reached at 617.542.6772 or boxoffice@blo.org.

FREE  on the Boston Common
Thursday, August 11, 2022 at 8PM
Saturday, August 13, 2022 at 8PM
Performed on the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company stage
139 Tremont Street 
Boston, MA 02111

Total run time, including one intermission, is two hours.
Sung in English with English supertitles.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — BLO’s Romeo & Juliet remixes the French opera by Gounod and Barbier & Carré with the original Shakespeare play of the same name. The BLO production is successful as an opera for the masses and as fan art of the original. Diehard opera fans may find fault in this original production, but the open-minded will find a lot to love.

Dwellers who live ‘neath the rocks can find the Rome & Juliet synopsis here: https://blo.org/romeo-juliet/. To sum up, Romeo and Juliet are two crazy kids who fall in love at a party. Then, because they snog instead of talking, they die. Love is hard.  

Boston Lyric Opera reduces the five-act opera to a merciful two. Score editors David Angus, Steven Maler, and John Conklin added two speaking actors (Ed Hoopman and Cheryl D. Singleton who were fantastic.) to the usual vocalists and supernumeraries to Gounod’s opera who read expositional text from Shakespeare’s play. The result is an opera/play hybrid that works: we still hear famous music from the opera that showcases the vocalists’ talents; the play hits all the important plot points (and deaths) and avoids a extra-lengthy visit to the Common. Continue reading

Jul 29

Ritual, Community and Baring Your Soul with Strangers: “(Tr)auma Queen: Feeling Spilt Milk, OR a series of experimental poetry to escape the shape of doorframes, also known as, a ritual of lemons”

production poster found on FringePVD website. this poster is badass.

Presented by FringePVD and The Wilbury Theatre Group
By and Featuring Teddy Lytle and Bay McCulloch

July 21 – 23, 2022
The Waterfire Arts Center Back Lot
475 Valley St,
Providence, RI

45 minutes without intermission

Review by Nicole LaBresh

PROVIDENCE, RI – When I think of Fringe, at the forefront of the word salad it conjures is “vulnerability.” Fringe in particular brings out the most intensely personal, soul-baring works. It does so largely by allowing artists free reign to put on whatever show they want. It is, among other things, a festival of works from the heart.

For the uninitiated, the Fringe Festival is a theatre festival devoted to experimental or fringe theatre works. It got its start in Edinburgh, but now has chapters all over the world, including one in Providence presented by The Wilbury Theatre Group, now in its ninth year. At a Fringe, you will see works the likes of which you probably have never seen before and that you may never see again. The performances range from poetry to music, dance to clownery, and things that defy any categorization. After two years without a live Fringe Festival because of COVID-19, local artists have a ton of pent up expression ready to be unleashed. Continue reading

Jul 27

Radical Hope and Radical Change: “The Hidden Territories of the Bacchae”

Photos by David Weiland & Graceson Abreu Nunez.

Presented by Double Edge Theatre
A response to The Bacchae by Euripides
Conceived, directred, and designed by Stacy Klein
Co-created and adapted with Milena Dabova, Jennifer Johnson, Travis Coe, and Carlos Uriona
Musical compositions and direction by Amanda Miller

Wed – Sun, July 20 – July 31 at 8pm, August 3 – 6 at 7:30pm
The Farm
948 Conway Road
Ashfield, MA 01330
Tickets

Review by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

ASHFIELD, Mass. — Driving along the twisted back roads to Ashfield, Massachusetts, my friend and I were in high, hopeful spirits. Double Edge Theatre, now in its 40th year, has crafted a foolproof yet ever-surprising mode of experiential performance. Season after season, it guides wide-eyed audiences through a labyrinth of natural scenic tableaus: dancers weave spiral paths through waist-high grasses; actors spin poetry from atop boulders, trees, ladders, canoes, and stilts; aerialists swoop across the rafters of the warm wooden barn. And, so my friend and I joyfully trekked 40-plus minutes to a remote stretch of farmland, expecting an evening of unexpected delights.

But the most delightfully unexpected element of The Hidden Territories of the Bacchae was not at the behest of the artistic team, but was instead a brilliant creative choice from Double Edge’s most important collaborator: the weather. About 40 minutes in, dark storm clouds started to impede our otherwise picturesque dusky tableau. Dionysus’ (played by both Travis Coe and Milena Dabova) braggartly claims of godlike power took on awe-inspiring meaning, and the performers leaned into the new subtext. We in the audience chuckled at the sky’s clever dramaturgical timing, but nervously so. We were not only at the mercy of the elements, but of our Double Edge guides, and we could only hope that our trust in them was not unfounded. Continue reading

Jul 18

Edith Wharton’s Intelude: “Mr. Fullerton, Between the Sheets”

Photo by Jason Grow. Newhouse as Wharton.

Presented by Gloucester Stage Company
By Annie Undeland
Directed by Judy Braha
Featuring Sarah Newhouse* as Edith Wharton, Ryan Winkles* as Morton Fullerton, Joshua Wolf Coleman* as Henry James, and Bridgette Hayes as Posy.

June 8 – 22, 2022
Gloucester Stage Company Theater
267 East Main St
Gloucester, MA

95 minutes without intermission

Review by Craig Idlebrook

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — How do you bring an iconic author’s love letters to life? That was the unenviable task that playwright Annie Undeland volunteered to do when she came across the letters Edith Wharton wrote to a lover during an extramarital affair. In reading the letters, Undeland has said she was struck how Wharton, who was known to be a refined and biting observer of Gilded Age society, became so nakedly besotted and unguarded, like any fool in love. Continue reading

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