Jan 09

Into the Grey Space: “Capsule” at the Under the Radar Festival

Presented by the Public Theater
A part of the Under the Radar Festival 
By Whitney White and Peter Mark Kendall 
Directed and Produced by Taibi Magar & Tyler Dobrowsky
Original text and music, Whitney White and Peter Mark Kendall
Director of photography: Jess Coles
Editing by Josiah Davis, Lowell Thomas
Sound design by Broken Chord, Lee Kinney

January 6, 7:00PM – January 17, 11:59 PM EST
The Public Theater on YouTube
New York, NY 10003
Public Theater on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

YouTube – The emotional violence inherent in White & Kendall’s pandemic-diary, fringe film Capusule reminds me of the car crash scene from 1975’s Mahagony. Diana Ross and Anthony Perkins (of Psycho fame) star in this movie about haute fashion, modeling and the heart’s desires. Perkins, a narcissistic photographer with mommy-issues, crashes a cherry red convertible into a construction site with the incomparable Ross and he in it. She, our hero, eventually leaves Perkins and her promising career for a politician played by Billy Dee Williams. The writing in this movie is not clever. 

Continue reading

Dec 28

Williamstown Theatre Festival Releases “Animals” & “Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club” on Audible.com


Williamstown Theatre Festival 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/wtfestival
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Audible/theater titles
Facebook: www.facebook.com/audibletheater
Insta: www.instagram.com/audibletheater
Twitter: www.twitter.com/audibletheater

Reviews by Kitty Drexel

AUDIBLE — Williamstown Theatre Festival and Audible present Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour beginning on December 17. Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club by Shakina Nayfack is available starting tomorrow, December 29. We were given access to both early in order to write these reviews. 

Thank you to the Williamstown Theatre Festival for the advanced access!
Happy New Year, everyone! We’ll see you in 2021.

Best,
Kitty Drexel, the Queen Geek


Written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour 
Directed by Whitney White
sound design by Fan Zhang
Assistant direction by Tyler Thomas
Featuring: Madeline Brewer (Coleen), Jason Butler Harner (Henry), William Jackson Harper
(Yaw/Jason), and Aja Naomi King (Lydia)

Summary: Lydia (Aja Naomi King) and Henry (Jason Butler Harner) and their dinner guests Colleen & Yaw/Jason (Madeline Brewer and William Jackson Harper) are having a contentious evening. They’re constantly arguing about minor details, fragile egos are consistently bruised, and the wine bottle remains uncorked. Unspoken insecurities and dark secrets are revealed after Henry proposes to Lydia. Animals attempts to examine why marriage and relationships bring out the best and worst in people. This play has themes of race, class, gender, cancel culture, identity, and familial bondage. Continue reading

Dec 27

An Interview with Liars & Believers About Their Upcoming Project, “Beyond A Winter’s Day”


“To Bed To Bed” & Vasalisa The Blessed” written by Rachel Wiese
“Malka and the Behema” written by Jesse Garlick
Directed by Jason Slavick
Costume design by Kendra Bell
Puppet design by Faye Dupras
Shadow puppet design by Rebecca Lehrhoff
Mask design by Becca Jewett
Video editing by Sam Powell
Original music by Carlos Odria
Featuring: Rachel Wiese, Rebecca Lehrhoff, Glen Moore, Jesse Garlick, Cynthia Hu, Carlos Odria, Singer Mali

More information about their upcoming performances in January will be available via the LAB website: https://www.liarsandbelievers.com/show/beyondawintersday/

Interview by Kitty Drexel

EMAIL — The good, creative folks at Liars & Believers held two preview workshops of their upcoming production Beyond a Winter’s Day on December 17 and 20. They generously answered some questions over email about their work, the pandemic, and their hopes for the New Year. Please keep reading for responses. 

Thank you Jason, Jesse, Glen, Cynthia, Rebecca, and Rachel! We look forward to Beyond A Winter’s Day in January. We hope all of your New Year wishes are liberated into being with bright joy, cheer and grace.

———————-

Queen Geek: Please talk about your role in the show.  

Jason – I’m Jason Slavick, the Artistic Director of Liars & Believers, and the director of the show. I provide the guiding vision for the whole project and I shape each individual element. I’m much like a conductor in an orchestra. The individual artists play their parts, but I shape the tempo, the tone, and the overall feel. I try to create opportunities for the other artists to express themselves. And I try to help them do their best work. My biggest job is to make sure you in the audience feel engaged and understand what’s going on.

Jesse- I’m Jesse Garlick, an artistic associate with Liars & Believers as well as being the company’s director of education. I wrote Malka and the Behema as well as performing with the puppets in the piece. I also perform in the final piece, To Bed To Bed, as Rabbit. And lastly I play Stanislov in the interstitial pieces.   

Glen- I’m Glen Moore an artistic associate with Liars & Believers. I helped to devise and build content for the original production of “A Story Beyond” which was the inspiration for this online version. In this zoom production I play the storyteller Fargus, perform puppetry in the story Malka and the Beheyma, and lastly I don the mask of Bear in the story To Bed To Bed. 

Cynthia – I’m Cynthia I am the zoom master of the show. I control all the tech behind what you see and make sure “the magic” happens on time. Outside of the show I’m an actor and I’m pursuing my MFA in acting at The Actors Studio Drama School.

Rebecca- I’m Rebecca Lehrhoff, an Artistic Associate with Liars & Believers. I’ve worked with the company since 2014. I helped devise the content for both “Beyond A Winter’s Day” as well as the original 2018 production the show is inspired by, “A Story beyond.” In addition to playing Mishka and the mole, I designed, created and performed (along with Rachel Wiese) the shadow puppetry for Vassilisa the Blessed.

Rachel- And I’m Rachel Wiese, an Artistic Associate with LAB. I worked on writing and devising the original “A Story Beyond” and performed as Isabel in that production. For Beyond a Winter’s Day, I again portrayed Isabel as well as Condor and puppeteered (along with Becca) Vasalisa the Blessed. I wrote Vasalisa the Blessed and To Bed, To Bed. I had lots of fun scouting the location for To Bed, To Bed which we shot on Worcester Trust Land near my home in Worcester, MA.  Continue reading

Dec 24

Great Artistry with A Mediocre Title: “A Winter’s Evening”

A still from “A Winter’s Evening.”

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera 
Hosted by reigning Miss Massachusetts Sabrina Victor
Directed by Nathan Troup
Zaira Meneses, Classical Guitarist
Gabriella Reyes, Soprano
Brett Hodgdon, Pianist

Recorded at the Trustees’ Castle Hill at the Crane Estate, in Ipswich, MA
Available on Operabox.tv and the BLO website

Critique by Kitty Drexel

OPERABOX — Gabriella Reyes has a gorgeous dramatic soprano voice. Reyes sings repertoire favorites from Puccini and Strauss, traditional Christmas songs, and art song in Spanish. Her concert is a delight and anyone who can should watch it to support her.

High viewing numbers will also encourage the BLO to produce similar concerts. There are many talented, over-educated opera singers in the Boston-area that would stab your grandmother for the chance to perform one of these concerts. I used to be one of them. It’s in everyone’s vested interest for this concert to do well… And, it also happens to be lovely.   Continue reading

Dec 22

A Punk Holiday Cult Classic in the Making: “Mary’s Dark Christmas”


Written by Hayley Spivey
Music & Lyrics by Abbie Goldberg, Aaron Goodwin, Haley Spivey
Toy piano playing by James LaBella
Directed & edited by Andrew Child
Art direction by Andrew Child
Puppet knitwear & opening sequence artwork by Sara Kenny
Reindeer & snowman puppet by Joe Wood
Exterior of Mary’s House by Hayley Spivey
Ink & watercolor images by Lou Lim
Featuring: Ben Astrachan, Alex Casillas, Ethan Child, Becky Ittner, Dylan Scott, Kayla Shimizu, and Michael Herschberg

Premier on December 17, 2020
Eternally on YouTube

Review by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — Punk is not dead. Mary’s Dark Christmas is the most hardcore thing I’ve seen this year, and my housemate had COVID-19 before we knew what caused it or how it was spread.

In this deep dive into the twisted depths of Spivey’s conscious mind, third-grader Mary Christmas (Becky Ittner) goes on a bender of junk-punching tantrums because Santa (as himself) cancels Christmas. Jeff Bezos (Jack Brewer) swoops in to save capitalism with his Naughty or Nice program™. He believes “that everyone has the right to infect and kill their grandparents so they can see a few presents under their tree.” Continue reading

Dec 18

Williamstown Theatre Festival Releases “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Photograph 51” on Audible.com

Williamstown Theatre Festival 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/wtfestival
Insta: www.instagram.com/wtfestival
Twitter: www.twitter.com/wtfest

Audible/theater titles
Facebook: www.facebook.com/audibletheater
Insta: www.instagram.com/audibletheater
Twitter: www.twitter.com/audibletheater

Reviews by Kitty Drexel

AUDIBLE.COM — In April, the Williamstown Theatre Festival announced that it was presenting its seven productions planned for its 2020 season in partnership with Audible, the Amazon streaming service. Below are reviews for A Streetcar Named Desire and Photograph 51.

Additional reviews of Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour and Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club by Shakina Nayfack will post next week.

Happy Streaming!

A Streetcar Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Robert O’Hara
Assistant directed by Nicholas Polonio
Sound design by Lindsay Jones
Dialect coaching by Dawn-Elin Fraser and Deborah Hecht
Intimacy direction by Claire Warden

Featuring: Joel Reuben Ganz (Doctor), Joe Goldammer (Steve Hubbell), Carla Gugino (Stella Kowalski), Carmen M. Herlihy (Eunice Hubbell), Sullivan Jones (Harold Mitchell), Brian Lucas (Young Collector), Audra McDonald (Blanche DuBois), Stacey Raymond (Nurse), Cesar J. Rosado (Pablo Gonzales), and Ariel Shafir (Stanley Kowalski)

Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for a play that first premiered on Broadway in 1947. We assume that readers will have a working knowledge of this Tennessee Williams classic.

This radio drama version of Streetcar requires a listener to engage with it. It’s not something to listen to while driving or finishing a project. The listener will miss out on the actors’ subtleties and new takes on this classic. Audra McDonald, Carla Gugino, and Ariel Shafir use their voices as instruments. They fill silence with artistic nuance. Doing anything more complicated than idle hobby work will take away from the experience of their performances. Continue reading

Dec 18

Where do we go from here?: “Live Town Hall with the Davids: In Conversation With Claudia Rankine”


Live Town Hall: In Conversation with Claudia Rankine
Presented by ArtsEmerson 
Hosted by David Dower and David Howse

December 14 2020
Streamed live on Zoom via Youtube
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Afrikah Smith

ZOOM — In the “Live Town Hall with the Davids: In Conversation With Claudia Rankine,”  ArtsEmerson artistic director David Dower and executive director David Howse discuss with Claudia Rankine her latest publication Just Us: An American Conversation. They unpack the issues of normalizing whiteness, staying in the room, and the importance of holding conversations around human problems. A lot is said about the current politics in the theatre world that Boston area theatres and artists can benefit from by listening. Continue reading

Dec 15

“The Race” Plays with Interactivity and Corporate Dystopia

Workshop Presented by The Wilbury Theatre Group
Written by Mark Binder
Directed by Brien Lang
Original Music by Nikita Zabinski
Stage Management by Shoshana Adler

December 4 & 6, 2020
Live on Zoom
Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM — Have you ever had the wild urge to play a first-person shooter and hefting a gun that ends the lives of digital characters? No? What about being granted the power to give or take away their livelihood? With The Race, a piece workshopped earlier this month by The Wilbury Theatre Group, you’re given almost all the abilities of a faceless tribunal to do just that! It’s an engaging work of theater constructed to utilize Zoom. It’s also difficult, upsetting, and timely. Continue reading

Dec 14

Tweeting Truth to Power: How Far Has Cyrus Come?


Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel and Boston Cultural Council
By Cyrus McQueen

Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020, 7 PM
Streamed Live via Youtube
Boston Cultural Council on Facebook
FPTC on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

YOUTUBE–Cyrus McQueen used to be just your everyday standup comedian of Last Comic Standing fame. In the Age of Trump, he’s also become Twitter-famous as a cultural critic, offering race and politics analyses and wisecracks 280 characters at a time. He’s developed his experiences over the last four years into a first book, Tweeting Truth to Power: Chronicling our Caustic Politics, Crazed Times, & The Great Black & White Divide, which is supposed to be equal parts memoir and political discourse. Continue reading

Dec 13

This is what Economic Depression Looks Like: Boston BID presents “Downtown Holiday Magic”

The Macy’s tree at DTX

Presented by the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID)
With Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Huntington Theatre CompanyChristmas Revels, and Boston Ballet

Running Nov. 24 through Jan 31, 2021
Downtown Crossing, Boston, MA
Boston BID on Facebook

Article by Kitty Drexel

Boston — My delightful wife and I took a stroll through Downtown Crossing today to see the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District’s “Downtown Holiday Magic” decorations. Wreaths are hung on street lamps, flower pots had new holiday arrangements and trees had twinkly lights.

For all of its holiday cheer, and Boston BID is trying its hardest to be jolly, Downtown Crossing is downright depressing. Many DTX storefronts have been shuttered by the pandemic. The three-story Forever 21 is still vacant. Small businesses have been replaced by mega conglomerates that only want your money. A Western Union location that has existed on Winter St since I was in undergrad has gone out of business. Its sign advertising ice cold beverages is still up. This is what an economic depression looks like. Continue reading