Oct 07

The Broadway Facts of Life: “42nd Street”

PREVIEW: The Umbrella Stage Company Presents 42nd Street from The Umbrella on Vimeo.

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company 
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by James Murphy
Musical restaging and new choreography by Lara Finn Banister

September 27 – October 20, 2019
The Umbrella Main Stage 
Concord, MA
The Umbrella Stage on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) 42nd Street is a show-within-a-show jukebox musical serving as a thinly veiled excuse to pair tap dance with 1930’s Broadway hits. The 1933 Depression-era movie had choreography by Busby Berkeley and was nominated for an Academy Award. The movie (and eventually the musical) has deeply impacted musical theatre. Bullets Over Broadway, Kiss Me Kate and other backstage musicals have all been influenced by 42nd Street’s incarnations. It’s a classic but carries with it the problems of its time.   Continue reading

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Dec 07

An Inalienable Right for Some: “1776”

Photo by Andy Brilliant/Brilliant Photography

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Book by Peter Stone
Co-directed by Austin Pendleton and Kelli Edwards
Music direction by Todd C. Gordon
Choreography by Kelli Edwards

Nov. 30 – Dec. 30, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: systemic racism, sexism, bracingly tight pleather pants

(Watertown, MA) 1776 is a quirky, innuendo-laced musical about Boston’s part in the US’s bid for independence. New Rep gives us a fun production that is more timely than it is educational. This musical might be based on historical facts but this production brings new momentum to current events. Continue reading

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Apr 23

“Cabaret” : Red Lights & Secrets

Aimee Doherty* Photographer: Tom Shoemaker

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Based on stories by Christopher Isherwood
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Music by John Kander
Book by John Masteroff
Directed by Rachel Bertone
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez

April 14th thru 29th, 2018
BCA Calderwood Pavilion
Wimberly Theater, Boston
Moonbox on Facebook

Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Boston, Massachusetts) I assume that unlike many in the audience at the Wimberly Theatre, I went to the Calderwood Pavilion knowing nothing substantial about Cabaret and naïvely expecting lots of eye-high rockette dance moves.  Seated with friends before the show, I opened up a program and encountered a quote by Christopher Isherwood, the British-American novelist who holds a principal place within my private imaginative world.  This quotation was from Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, upon which Cabaret is based, and it goes “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Someday, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”   Continue reading

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Jan 31

Dance Across the Picket Line: BILLY ELLIOT

Photo by Glenn Cook Photography; on the way to boxing class.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Book & lyrics by Lee Hall
Music by Elton John
Orchestrations by Martin Koch
Based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film Billy Elliot
Directed by Susan Kosoff
Originally directed by Stephen Daldry
Music direction by Jon Goldberg
Choreographed by Laurel Conrad
Sign Performances by Luke Baer, Alvin Haas, Ali Schmalenberger
Audio descriptions by Cori Couture, Ruth Celia Kahn

Jan. 27 – Feb. 26, 2017
ASL performances on Fri, Feb 24 @ 7:30, & Sun, Feb 26, @ 3
All performances are open captioned
The theatre is wheelchair accessible
Wheelock College
200 Riverway
Boston, MA
Wheelock on Facebook

Recommended for ages 8+ for mild violence, occasional references to sexy times by children who don’t understand what they are saying, and English cursing.  

Review by Kitty Drexel

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”
– Winston Churchill (that other quote attributed to Churchill is not something he actually said.)

(Boston, MA) Wheelock does great work with Billy Elliot:The Musical. The 2000 source movie Billy Elliot, is a sweet and rough story about a working class boy who becomes enchanted with dance while his widower father, and brother are caught up in the coal miners’ strike. They are more worried that Billy might be gay, than they are in monitoring Billy’s daytime whereabouts. The musical, based on the movie, incorporates many points of the movie’s plot. The big distinction is the musical’s Disney-fication. Alter expectations accordingly.    Continue reading

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Mar 24

Major and Minor Details: BIG FISH

Photo credit: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Photo credit: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co.
Book by John August
Music & Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Based on the Novel by Daniel Wallace and the Columbia Motion Picture Written by John August
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Assistant Director Alex Lonati
Musical Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Larry Sousa

MAR 13 – APR 11, 2015
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St.
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) I did not enjoy Big Fish. I did enjoy SpeakEasy’s production. The performances from the cast were, as always, exemplary but the script has many problems. Follow along as I list the major issues and make the conscious decision not to detail the minor ones. Continue reading

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Jun 19

A Chorus Line: Meant for One, Singular Audience (That May Not Be You)

Allison Russell as Maggie, Aimee Doherty as Sheila and Hannah Shihdanian as Bebe in A CHORUS LINE at Reagle Music Theatre June 15-24, photo credit Herb Philpott.

A Chorus Line, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, Reagle Music Theatre, 6/15/12-6/24/12, http://www.reagleplayers.com/current.html.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Waltham, MA) The Reagle Music Theatre is a supportive, intimate venue I remember with pleasure from when I visited it to review Christmas Time.  Reagle puts on the same high quality production in A Chorus Line, too, despite some difficulty with the microphones halfway through the play I sat through.

A Chorus Line fits for the Reagle even if the original material hasn’t aged well. Continue reading

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Sep 12

Rent (MA): Celebrating and Embracing Humanity

The cast of RENT. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Rent, book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 9/4/11-10/2/11, http://www.newrep.org/rent.php. Mature themes, Full-frontal nudity.

Reviewed by Leah White

(Watertown, MA) The New Repertory Theatre, in residence at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, opens its 2011-2012 season with Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical, RENT.  Considered groundbreaking in its 1996 premiere, RENT uses the story of struggling bohemian artists to convey its message of love, tolerance, and friendship. Continue reading

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Apr 02

The Last Five Years: Tempestuous Love

(left to right) Aimee Doherty and Mark Linehan in The Last Five Years. Photo by Christopher McKenzie.

The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, New Repertory Theatre, 3/27/11-4/17/11, http://newrep.org/last_five.php.

by Becca Kidwell

Less than a week after Elizabeth Taylor’s death, what story could be more apropos than the tumultuous romance of  two artists?  Jason Robert Brown’s chamber musical about the conflict marriage and career examines the fallout of two people who meet in the middle but remain apart.  New Rep’s production of The Last Five Years delivers two masterful performances to a faulty libretto.

Aimee Doherty shows her versatility going Continue reading

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Jan 25

NINE ways to leave your lover

Timothy John Smith (center) and company in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of NINE, running Jan. 21 - Feb. 20 at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion . Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Nine, book by Arthur Kopit, music & lyrics by Maury Yeston, adaptation from the Italian by Mario Fratti, based on Fellini’s 8 ½, Speakeasy Stage Company, 1/21/11-2/20/11, http://www.speakeasystage.com/index.php

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Speakeasy Stage Company has created an exquisite, solid revival of Maury Yeston’s award-winning musical Nine.  With masterful direction and a stage full of talent, Maury Yeston’s vision of the struggling director as a conductor of his own affairs takes the stage with vigor and tenacity.

Nine, based on Fellini’s film 8 ½, tells the story of a formally successful film director who is struggling with both a creative crisis and midlife crisis.  Timothy John Smith plays Guido Contini, the figure who represents Fellini.  Smith infuses Guido with both an arrogant confidence of a professed womanizer and the almost childlike uneasiness of someone whose world is trying to spin out of control.  Although he is betrayed by his own schema, he picks himself up, pulls himself together, and moves on. Continue reading

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