Oct 27

Beautiful and Painful: “The Scottsboro Boys”

Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots; The ensemble getting down.

Nile Hawver / Nile Scott Shots; The ensemble getting down.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Music and Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Book by David Thompson
Original Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Musical Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Ilyse Robbins

October 21 – November 26
Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street
Speakeasy on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) It’s difficult to know what to say about The Scottsboro Boys.  The piece is uncomfortable to watch not because of its incredible talent or flawless direction and design, but rather because it’s meant to be uncomfortable to watch.  The show is a remixed account of the historical case of The Scottsboro Boys, nine young black men who in 1931 were accused of raping two white women on a train, told through the lens of American Minstrelsy.  Performed with gusto and amazing energy, SpeakEasy’s production is a triumph that should be mandatory viewing for any American (particularly in an election year as fraught with the urge to “just give up” as this one has been). Continue reading

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Sep 06

Go On and Shoot a President: ASSASSINS

Photo credit: Chantal Acacio

Photo credit: Chantal Acacio; it’s clobbering time.

Presented by The MIT Musical Theatre Guild
Music and Lyrics by Steven Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Directed by Matt Putnam
Vocal Direction by David Favela
Music Direction by Marek Subernat

September 2 – 17, 2016
MIT Kresge Little Theatre
48 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA
MIT Musical Theatre Guild on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Cambridge, MA) As an American history buff (can you call yourself a “buff” anymore when you’re technically a professional historian?), I will be the first to admit that Assassins holds a special place in my heart.  Who else but the dynamic Steven Sondheim could take a subject matter like the murder of the president of the United States, and write a poignant, witty, yet ever-so-tenaciously perky musical about it?  The MIT Musical Theatre Guild has put together a fine production of the show, well worth your time despite the beginning-of-semester crunch. Continue reading

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Aug 16

Hot as Hell in Philadelphia” “1776”

Photo credit: Eurah Joanna Ko

Photo credit: Eurah Joanna Ko

Presented by The MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Book by Peter Stone
Directed by Emma Brown
Vocal Direction by Tom Ostrowski and Johnnie Han
Orchestra Directed by Julie Henion

August 12 – 14
MIT Kresge Little Theatre
48 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA
MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Cambridge, MA1776 is one of those archaic mainstays of musical theatre that gets some seasonal adoration around the patriotic holidays of summer and spends the rest of the year hiding in its box waiting for people to remember how catchy the good songs are (and forget how atrociously lingering the bad ones get).  It’s also got some technical and social difficulties: the cast is large; dare I say ungainly; and made almost exclusively of men.  Costuming the show is serious business since it’s a period piece (rarely modernized).  And the script… oh the script… the script has not aged well.  Sherman Edwards wrote some poppy songs that still captivate, but Peter Stone’s book is definitely a product of its time.  Once again; the good parts are great.  The bad parts just linger a little too long.  Last, but certainly not least, the show attempts to tackle some very dark eras of American History and doesn’t exactly do it in the best possible way. Continue reading

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Aug 28

Genre-Flexible “Winter’s Tale” Becomes a Summer Fantasia in Nathan Tufts Park

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Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz

August 14-30, 2015
Nathan Tufts Park (aka Powderhouse Park) in Somerville, MA
BRING A BLANKET and/or LAWN CHAIRS
Maiden Phoenix on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Somerville, MA) Maiden Phoenix gamely takes on one of the strangest of Shakespeare’s late period work. In the style of King Lear, Leontes (Juliet Bowler) comes to distrust his loved ones to the horror of his court. His queen, Hermione (Cassandra Meyer), is accused of adultery, their son, Mamillius (a hilariously bro-y Caroline Rose Markham), is separated from his mother, and a baby is abandoned on a hillside to be devoured by the wild. Then, suddenly, when a man “exits” the stage pursued by bears, the story transforms. The Winter’s Tale leaves aside its devastating tragedy and the king’s “too hot, too hot” anger in favor of a pastoral comedy. From this point on, the story flows together like a series of dreams. This peculiar shift suits not only more optimistic fare but the theatre group’s choice of setting, a green, fairy tale-like staging in Nathan Tufts Park. Continue reading

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May 04

High Velocity Surrealism or, Buckle Up, It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Night: “The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century)”

This video has been slowed down considerably to protect the innocent.

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Produced by Double Edge Theatre
Conceived, designed, and directed by Stacy Klein
Composed by Alexander Bakshi
Music and vocal direction by Lyudmila Bakshi

April 30 – May 3, 2015
Emerson/Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: Strobe effect, Gunshots

One hour with no intermission.

(Boston, MAStacy Klein writes in her director’s note that Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) pairs the dream-like works of Marc Chagall with the “extreme conflicts” of the twentieth century. Images from his paintings are reflected in the troupes’ depiction of significant events in American history. Her intention as designer, director and co-creator was to “(reflect) history through (the creators’) own eyes” as “the only way to speak to (their) desires for the future.” If what Klein and Double Edge presented is their vision of the future, we are doomed; Grand Parade is a hot mess. Continue reading

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Aug 12

Here the Rodents Reign Supreme: “The Annotated History of the American Muskrat”

Presented by The Circuit Theatre Company
Written by John Kuntz
Directed by Skylar Fox

August 2 – 16, 2014
The Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Circuit Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) My parents were in town this weekend and, in the interest of involving them in my life, I asked them to attend The Annotated History of the American Muskrat with me. My conservative Dad’s immediate response was to ask, “is it weird?” At the time he asked I couldn’t give a definitive answer but, after attending Sunday’s matinee performance,  I can honestly answer that, yes, this show is weird. Yet, “weird” doesn’t scratch the surface of what it is. It is also intensely powerful (reviewers use these words a lot. This show is actually powerful and intense versus a “powerful” and “intense” production of, say, The Cherry Orchard.) in ways that cause the viewer to question how Americans process the life we consume. It’s a bad trip on the best acid. It’s about everything and nothing. It is not for the weak. Continue reading

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