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

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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

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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

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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:

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Nov 25

What Jesus Would Do: “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”

Photo by Hub Theatre Company; Jesus (Jaime Hernandez) and Judas (Cristian Mancinas-Garcia)

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Steven Bogart
Fight choreography by Matthew Dray
Dialect coaching by Charles Linshaw

Nov. 8 – 23, 2019
First Church Boston66 Marlborough St
Boston, MA
Hub Theatre on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: blasphemy, betrayal, cursing, portrayals of Satan, extreme Christianity

(Boston, MA) Stephen Adly Guirgis doesn’t give his audience answers in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. He gives them a question: does Judas belong in Hell for his actions against Jesus of Nazareth? Guirgis supplies an answer to this question but his answer is only one answer of many. It’s up to audience members to discern the answer that makes the most sense to them. 

Continue reading
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Nov 20

Art and Capitalist Consumption and “Room&Board&Opera”

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Music by Jonathan Bailey Holland
Libretto for “The Battle of Bull Run Always Makes Me Cry” and “Naomi in the Living Room” by Jonathan Bailey Holland
Libretto for “Always” by Jon Jory
Music Director & Pianist for “Always” by Patricia Au
Stage Director for “Always” by Ingrid Oslund
Music Director & Pianist for “The Battle of Bull Run Always Makes Me Cry” and “Naomi in the Living Room” by Jean Anderson Collier

November 7, 2019
Room&Board
375 Newbury Street, 
Boston, MA 02115
Room&Board&Opera

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Room & Board is a US-chain of upscale furniture stores that started in Minnesota about three decades ago. The particular one I went to on Newbury Street has a showroom that has been utilized in a number of Boston-based events, so maybe it’s not so surprising that a theater company would see an opportunity to bring art into an unlikely space. Boston Opera Collaborative has pushed forward with this unexpected, incongruously hilarious venue, setting three, ten-minute comic operas in this space for what was a one-night only event and a unique moment in my time as a theater critic. Continue reading

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Nov 19

Forge Theater Lab presents “Chasing the Ghost,” December 7 – 14, 2019


CHASING THE GHOST
A New Play by Ashley Lauren Rogers
Presented by Forge Theater Lab
Directed by Samantha deManbey
Dramaturgy by Natalie Scott

December 7, 13, and 14 at 8:00 PM
December 8 at 2:00 PM
December 12 at 6:30 PM (Pay What You Can)

Wallace Theater for Performing Arts
McKay Building at Fitchburg State University

67 Rindge Road, Fitchburg, MA
$15 General / $5 Students & Seniors (60+)
Buy tickets online or pay cash at the door

About the Play: Kurt, a vlogger in the early days of YouTube who used to scream about video games, is married to Patty, a struggling vampire romance author. While Kurt has left that life behind him, anger and all, their relationship will be put to the test when one night he is visited by a shadow person…who won’t stop tickling his feet.

​This play is not recommended for children under 14 because of profanity and disturbing situations.

Featuring Charles Amaral, Noah Dawson, Amy DeMar-DuBois, Brittany Messuri, Leeann Monat, Austin Swallow, and Cheyenne Winley. Lighting design by Phillip T. Smith.

Chasing the Ghost is made possible by a generous donation from show sponsor Justin Nelson.

More information about the artists and the production can be found at https://www.theforgetheaterlab.org/chasing-the-ghost.html.

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Nov 05

It’s Moist-city in Here: “X”

The cast; Photo by Jake Scaltreto.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Alistair McDowall
Directed by Lindsay Eagle
Dramaturgy by Dee Rogers
Violence and Movement Consultant: Sarah Gazdowicz
Scenic Designer: Darren Cornell
Costume Designer: Erica Desautels
Lighting Designer: Connor S. Van Ness
Sound Designer: Kyle Lampe
Special Effects Designer: Lynn Wilcott
Props Designer: Jake Scaltreto
Cast: Cassandra Meyer, David Anderson, Nick Perron, Slava Tchoul, Abigail Erdelatz

Nov. 1 – 16, 2019
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: gore, blood, violence, psychological horror

(Watertown, MA) Flat Earth’s production of Alistaire McDowall’s X is a mind fuck. This psychological horror-ballet with dripping blood, broken minds, and sleep deprivation won’t let its audience get away with mindlessly consuming a performance. And then it pounds it into you so you never forget. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Don’t Tell Me the Odds: “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka”

Photo by Nile Scott.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly
Adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald
Based on the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Directed by Emily Ranii
Music directed by Nathan Urdangen 
Choreographed by Russell Garrett

Oct 25 – Nov. 17, 2019
Boston University
200 Riverway 
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka (2004) should not be confused with the West End and Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently touring in the US (now in Omaha!). Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is not. Both incorporate elements from Dahl’s novel and the two Hollywood movies. They are similar but not the same.  

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka cannot compete with the novel or the movies. Fans of the other Wonka media should view this iteration as the children’s theatre it is and not compare it to its source materials. They will be disappointed. Continue reading

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Oct 24

“My Fascination with Creepy Ladies” and a Complete Replication of Poe

Foreground, front to back: Siobhan Carroll, Luz Lopez, Elena Toppo.
Background, front to back: C. Padraig Sullivan, Christine Power, Jessica Golden

Presented by Anthem Theatre Company
A Collection of Horrors by Edgar Allan Poe
Conceived and Directed by Bryn Boice
Featuring Anthem company members Michael Poignand, Johnny Kinsman, Siobhan Carroll, Olivia Z. Cote, Sarah Gazdowicz, Jessica Golden, Katie Grindeland, Luz Lopez, Jessica Scout Malone, Eric McGowan, Christine Power, C. Padraig Sullivan, and Elena Toppo.
Designed by Bridget K. Doyle and Theona White

October 17 – November 3, 2019
South End / BCA Plaza Theatres
Plaza Black Box Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Event on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Berenice, Annie, Ligeia, Rowena, Annabel Lee, Morella, Lenore, and so many others– an archetype with many names collapsed into a single, waifish woman with hair that hangs loose over her shoulders and a hint of otherworldliness. Meanwhile, the heroes and narrators of these stories are boiled down into the figure of a melancholic, bow-tied, possibly opium-addled narrator.

The woman in question is always on the verge of death, or has already died, but in the wake of that death, she is somehow made more beautiful, powerful, and entrancing. In Anthem Theatre Company’s My Fascination with Creepy Ladies, these characters are now four, leering, dancing, and laughing Creepy Ladies that haunt eight, terrorized, pale, bow-tied Poes. Continue reading

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