Sep 07

Langston Hughes as “The Black Clown”

The Black Clown Production Photo
The cast of The Black Clown.
Photo: Maggie Hall.

Presented by American Repertory Theater
Adapted from Langston Hughes’ poem
Adapted by Davóne Tines and Michael Schachter
Music by Michael Schachter
Choreographed by Chanel DaSilva
Directed by Zack Winokur
Music Direction by Jaret Landon
Trumpets by Dave Adewumi and Robyn Smith
Keyboards played by Jaret Landon and Bethany Aikin
Reeds by Rajiv Halim, Isaiah Johnson, and Jason Marshall

August 31 – Sept 23, 2018
Loeb Drama Center
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
ART on Facebook

Written by Bishop C. Knight

(Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA)  In The Black Clown program, the A.R.T. Artistic Director wrote how “Langston Hughes drew deeply on the traditions of African American music,” and Hughes would have been pleased with this production.  

The pit orchestra breathed life into spirituals and added rhythmic profundity to operatic adaptations of Hughes’ poems. Keyboards were played by Jaret Landon, a Chicago-based composer who was the show’s Music Director, and Bethany Aiken, who studied Music History at Oberlin College.  A theater experience fusing vaudeville, gospel, and jazz, Black Clown brought Langston Hughes’ verse to life onstage.  Every musician in this production – from the trumpet players, to the actors who themselves are acclaimed singers – every musician, per their participation in this production, paid respect both to Hughes and to the African American music at the heart of Hughes’ art. Continue reading

Aug 27

The Monkey is Omniscient: “Timbuktu, USA”

Top row (l-r): Karos, McMaster, Kaiss, Astudillo
Bottom row (l-r): Wiseman, Hillyer, Baltay; photo credit to David Marshall

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Written and directed by Kenneth Prestininzi
Assistant direction from Teresa Cruz
Fight choreography by Drew Frayre

Aug. 25 – Sept. 1, 2018
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: references to bestiality, incestuous kissing

(Boston, MA) Sleeping Wezel’s Timbuktu, USA is an absurd political satire made digestible via the mechanics of a bedroom farce. There is opportunity a plenty to be delightfully offended by the comings and goings of Prestininzi’s chaotic neutral politicians. The buffoonery so closely resembles the US current political boondoggle that audience members may leave confused. Fear not, Timbuktu, USA is a diversion well worth any disorientation. Continue reading

Aug 24

“Cloud Tectonics”: Love is Love is Love is Love

CLOUD TECTONICS by José Rivera, production poster

Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel
by José Rivera
Director: Jaime Carrillo
Musicians: Nick Thorkelson, Mitchel Ahern, Anaís Azul, Francis Xavier Norton, Luz Lopez, Fernando Barbosa
FPTC on Facebook

Aug 8th @ 6:00pm
Hyde Square Task Force
30 Sunnyside Street, Jamaica Plain
(In Boston’s newly designated Latin Quarter!)

Aug 14th @ 7:30pm
The Fort Point Room at Atlantic Wharf
290 Congress Street, Boston

Aug 17th & 18 @ 7:30pm
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston

Aug 21th @ 7:30 pm
Gloucester Stage
267 East Main Street, Gloucester

Review by Diana Lu

(Various locations, MA) I remember once chatting with a friend about Japanese media. He mentioned that in a lot of Japanese narratives, a nuclear disaster occurs and the rest of the story deals with the aftermath. That rarely happens in American narratives, he noted, which focus on anxiety about impending disaster. That is, what we in the US fear the most, has already happened in Japan.  Later, I heard a podcast discuss The Handmaid’s Tale. In it, one host observed that Atwood’s gruesome fictional future is actually the reality of the past, for black slave women. Continue reading

Aug 20

Fatal Attraction: Love, Friendship, and Ritual Sacrifice in the name of “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord”

Photo by Ally Schmaling. — with Gina Fonseca, Khloe Alice Lin, Lisa Joyce and Tatiana Isabel.

Presented by Off the Grid Theatre Company
Written by Alexis Scheer
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw

August 17 – September 1, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Roberts Studio Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02116
Off the Grid on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) It is 2008, a momentous year for the United States, and especially for four teenage girlfriends in suburban Florida. This radical, ambitious, creative squad grapples with identity, relationships, and adult responsibility using the occult as a metaphor…or is it anything but? Continue reading

Aug 17

A Love Letter, inspired by “A Good Death”

Photo credit: Colleen Moore

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
Written by Shelley M. Hobbs
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Produced by Kelly Smith

August 17 through September 2
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00PM
Sundays at 2:00PM
Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion on Facebook

Written by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, MA)  OOH child, nothing but praise for A Good Death!  I’m about to provide a review that’s emotionally charged with encouragement – for you to see this play and to bring loved ones; especially for you to bring religious relatives you have trouble communicating with.  I’ll use the words love and queer repeatedly, because it is a play about lesbian companions who are platonic life partners.  I’ll show why Boston is damn lucky to have Also Known As Theatre (AKA) as it newest independent theatre company.  I want AKA to flourish. I want Alison Bechdel to attend. I want YOU to attend, and here’s why: Continue reading

Aug 16

Drag Messiah: A very Allston Christmas; Yes on 3!

Quorum Boston presents Drag Messiah: A very Allston Christmas

Yes on 3!

Performance Dates:
August 17, 2018
7:30PM
MIT Building 6, Room 120
77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
Aug. 17 event on Facebook

August 18, 2018
7:30PM
First Parish Cambridge Unitarian Universalist
3 Church St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Aug. 18 event on Facebook
Quorum Boston on Facebook

(Cambridge, MA) Since its writing, Handel’s Messiah has been used as a fundraising concert for various causes to benefit society. In Handel’s time, that was the Foundling’s Hospital for London orphans. Quorum will be performing Drag Messiah: a Very Allston Christmas* in order to raise awareness and donations for Freedom for All Massachusetts, a trans-lead organization that is working to protect the ways in which Massachusetts currently allows trans people to use public accomodations (including but not limited to bathrooms) that align with their gender identity. These protections – which allow trans people to live, work, and move through society with basic dignity – also help prevent violence and discrimination against trans people. An anti-LGBTQ group is trying to repeal them, and Freedom for All Massachusetts is working hard to prevent that from happening through public education and awareness. We will have more information, volunteer sign-up for those interested, and VOTER REGISTRATION!

Written by a queer composer who participated in drag culture and wrote many cross-gendered opera roles, the Messiah as performed by an LGBTQ chorus (some of whom will be in drag) will bring awareness to and celebrate the diversity of gender in our Boston community. It will be a very exciting and high-quality concert, and our aim is to use the popularity of the Messiah and the newfound public interest in drag to support the trans community, which is often marginalized from both the classical music and drag scenes, spaces which should be open to all. We will be performing the entire piece with a guest orchestra of historically-informed instrumentalists, in a setting both intimate and powerful. You have not heard this piece performed with as much emotional authenticity as you will this August.

*What’s Allston Christmas?
It’s that time in August and early September when people scavange treasures left on the sidewalk or put in the trash by departing renters. It’s is a working-class celebration of new life and valuing what has been discarded by others, concepts which are also foundational to the queer experience. Handel’s Messiah – a larger-than-life oratorio about birth, rejection and punishment at the hands of those who don’t understand your worth, and the triumph of good will and promise for a better future – is the perfect piece to sing for this occasion.

Quorum Boston is an LGBTQ vocal ensemble that performs music almost exclusively by LGBTQ composers (like Handel!) in order to combat the erasure of queerness in the classical music canon and help new voices be heard.

Aug 15

Frothy Fun and B-Side Moments: MAMMA MIA

Tari Kelly (Tanya) with Tiffani Barbour (Rosie) and Erica Mansfield (Donna) in MAMMA MIA! live on stage at North Shore Music Theatre thru September 2. Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Directed & Choreographed By: Kevin P. Hill
Music Direction By: Bob Bray
Music And Lyrics By: Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus And Some Songs With Stig Anderson
Book By: Catherine Johnson
Originally Conceived By: Judy Cramer

August 2 – September 2, 2018
North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) There is a reason why the musical Mamma Mia has become such a phenomenon – I mean, aside from the fact that a group of Swedes sold their souls to the devil to make the most earworm-y music of the 20th century. The story is one long, sexy summer party that showcases the current or past foibles of our twenties. A young woman secretly invites her three potential fathers to her island wedding without telling her mother about it – it’s as if someone set out to re-envision Midsummer Night’s Dream with platform shoes. Continue reading

Aug 10

“Leftovers” and the Balance Between Wishes and Truths

Photo by Paul Fox.

Presented by Company One Theatre
Written by Josh Wilder
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Developed by C1 PlayLab

July 21 – August 18, 2018
The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Road, Boston, MA 02125
The Leftovers on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) When a giant dandelion bursts out of the ground in their Philadelphia yard, Kwamaine (the charming Christian Scales) is enchanted while his older brother, Jalil (Kadahj Bennett, who pulls some of the best humorous faces I’ve seen on any given stage), is understandably baffled. Their harassed mother, Raquelle (Lyndsay Allyn Cox), is mostly just annoyed. Writer Josh Wilder and director Summer L. Williams deliver an odd, funny city-based fable that becomes a magic realist quest through systemic poverty, race, The Cosby Show, and the insulating nature of fantasies. Continue reading

Aug 08

“CATO & DOLLY”, The Hancocks

Ye Olde Statehouse

Presented by the Bostonian Society
Produced in partnership with Plays in Place, LLC
Written by Playwright Patrick Gabridge
Directed by Courtney O’Connor
Performed by Stephen Sampson and Marge Dunn

July 6th through September 29th, 2018
Old State House, Downtown Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Boston, Massachusetts)   On a rainy Saturday, Kathy Mulvaney explained to the crowd of museum visitors that she needed a minute to bring in more chairs, as the hall was fuller than anticipated.  Mulvaney is the Director of Education at the Old State House. She told us that the historical play Cato & Dolly would be about twenty minutes, and she noted that we could not re-enter if we decided to leave for the bathroom.  Finally, Mulvaney encouraged us to sit back and enjoy. Then the hall went silent. Continue reading

Aug 06

A State of Virginal Ecstasy; Or, Needs More Snakes in Bowls: “Dark Room”

Ensemble | Photo Credit, Andrew Brilliant

Presented by Bridge Repertory Theater
Written by George Brant
Inspired by the life, death, and photography of Francesca Woodman
Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio
Associate director and dramaturgy by Alexander Platt
Choreography by Doppelgänger Dance Collective

July 27 – August 16, 2018
In residence at the Multicultural Arts Center
Cambridge, MA
Bridge Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Disclaimer: I auditioned for this production, and was not cast. It is my opinion that only a jackass would allow rejection, a natural process of auditioning, to taint their review.

(Cambridge, MA) Producer and director, D’Ambrosio gives an important, informative speech before Dark Room to guide audience expectations. She suggests we allow the performance to wash over us. Should we become puzzled by the actions onstage, rather than self-interpret what we see, we should allow the performance to explain itself through continued observance. I’d further posit that audience members do proper research before attending. The chiaroscuro style of Francesca Woodman is emphatically stirring. To fully absorb the performance, it behooves an audience to google Woodman’s art. Continue reading