Dec 15

A Delight: “Real Women Have Curves: The Musical”

The company in the A.R.T. world premiere of Real Women Have Curves: The Musical. Credit: Nile Hawver/Maggie Hall.

Presented by American Repertory Theater
Music & Lyrics by Joy Huerta & Benjamin Velez
Book by Lisa Loomer
Additional Material by Nell Benjamin
Based on the Play by Josefina López
And HBO’s Real Women Have Curves, Screenplay by Josefina López & George LaVoo
Music Supervision by Nadia DiGiallonardo
Directed & Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo
Dialect Coaching by Elisa Gonzales
Intimacy Coordination by Lauren Kiele DeLeon
Dramaturgy by Brisa Areli Muñoz

Dec. 6, 2023 – Jan. 21, 2024
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 

The online Playbill

ART’s content warning from its website: “This production stages and discusses xenophobic commentary, racism, sexual themes, and body shaming and contains haze and fog. Recommended for sixth grade and up.”

Runtime: 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The New England Theatre Geeks believe that real women identify as women. The discussion about how “woman” is defined has come a long way since 1990. It still has further to go.  #TransWomenAreWomen

Real Women Have Curves: The Musical is playing at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge through January 21. It is based on the 1990 play and 2002 movie of the same name by  Josefina López. 

It is important to note that Real Women Have Curves: The Musical is not about the important discussion surrounding LGBTQIA identity. It is a musical based on a movie based on a play about a young Latina woman from L.A. That’s the story. 

There is other theatre that carefully, strategically, and emphatically discusses this issue from the perspective of intersectional feminists. Real Women Have Curves: The Musical is already doing a lot of heavy lifting. Please do not demand more from it than it plans to give.  Continue reading

Sep 15

How mortal Gods can be: “The Half-God of Rainfall”


This trailer is so cool!
Presented by American Repertory Theater
A co-production with the New York Theatre Workshop
By Inua Ellams
Directed by Taibi Magar
Movement Direction by Orlando Pabotoy
Orisha Movement Consulting/Choreography by Beatrice Capote
Intimacy Direction by Ann James
Voice & Dialect Direction by Dawn-Elin Fraser
Dramaturgy by Iyvon E.
Projection design by Tal Yarden
Physical therapy by Artistic Athlete Health Collective

Sept. 8 – 24, 2023
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA

This production contains haze, fog, flashing lights, and loud sounds, and stages sexual and physical violence. A.R.T. recommends it for ninth grade and up.

Review by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The American Repertory Theater presents Inua Ellams’ The Half-God of Rainfall at the Loeb Drama Center in Harvard Square through Sept. 24. Directed by Taibi Magar, it tackles human concerns of identity, immortality, and generational trauma through the marriage of Greek and Yoruba storytelling and NBA basketball. 

The Half-God of Rainfall is about Demi (Mister Fitzgerald), a half-Nigerian/half-Greek son of serial abuser, Zeus King of the Greek Gods. Demi reconciles his holy parentage as he achieves fame and fortune as an NBA player. His journey takes him from rural Nigeria, across the United States, to Mount Olympus.  Continue reading

Sep 09

Welcome and Safe Travels, Sweet Child: “Walk with Amal” events on Sept. 7

Photo by Queen Kitty. Amal receives a prayer from an American Native tribal representative welcoming Amal to Boston. 

Presented by ArtsEmerson, American Repertory Theater, Company One, and many others. 
Performed by Walk with Amal
Artistic producer Amir Nizar Zuabi
Producers: David Lan & Tracey Seaward
The Walk Productions in association with Handspring Puppet Company 
Puppetry Director: Enrico Dau Yang Wey
Technical Director: Muaz Jubeh
Puppeteers: Ashley Winkfield, Ashley Winkfield, Bartolomeo Bartolini, Craig Leo, Emma Longthorne, Fida Zaidan, Mouaiad Roumieh, Nicole Baker, Sebastian Charles, Troy Feldman, Yukari Osaka

Sept. 7 – 9, 2023
Various locations in Massachusetts
City of Boston website has updated information

BOSTON, Mass. — ArtsEmerson, the City of Boston, and members of the journalism and arts communities extended a warm welcome to Little Amal on September 7 at the Rowes Wharf Rotunda, Boston. It was there that she began her journey of 6,000 miles across the US. 

You are welcome here, sweet friend (and caregivers!). We wish you safe and peaceful travels across this uniquely great but troubled nation. 

Amal is a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl. Her name means “hope” in Arabic. She has already journeyed across many countries, and she carries a message of hope for displaced people everywhere. 

There is a home for you. Our human potential for compassion is boundless. Continue reading

Mar 05

Politically Stale Content v. Beautiful Production Work: “The Wife of Willesden”

Marcus Adolphy, Clare Perkins, George Eggay, Andrew Frame, and the company of “The Wife of Willesden.” Photo: Marc Brenner

A Kiln Theatre Production presented by the American Repertory Theater
Adapted by Zadie Smith, adapted from Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath”
Direction by Indhu Rubasingham
Composition and sound design by Ben and Max Ringham
Movement Direction by Imogen Knight
Fight Direction by Kev McCurdy
Voice & Dialect Coaching by Hazel Holder

February 25 – March 17
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tickets and Info

Critique by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

Cambridge, MA –Loud, rebellious female characters from classic literature are juicy fodder for feminist reclamation, and understandably so. For women and folks of marginalized gender identities, it’s rare to see ourselves reflected as complex human beings in historical texts, even if most of these surviving texts are by dead white men. Shakespeare, for instance, likely didn’t have radical feminist intentions when he wrote Taming of the Shrew. But, Kate’s story is reshaped and retold again and again and again, problematic parts and all, if only to prove to the world that yes, women like her always existed.

The Wife of Willesden, a Kiln Theatre Production currently running at the A.R.T., strives to continue in this tradition, reexamining with the titular character from Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath” (a tale from The Canterbury Tales) through a 21st century lens. The text was adapted (or translated, which I would argue is more accurate) by novelist Zadie Smith, with raucous, ensemble-driven direction by Indhu Rubasingham. Continue reading

Dec 16

Fear Is the Mind Killer: “Life of Pi” at A.R.T.

Presented by American Repertory Theater
Based on the novel by Yann Martel
Adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti
Directed by Max Webster
Scenic and Costume Design by Tim Hatley
Puppetry and Movement Direction by Finn Caldwell
Puppet Design by Nick Barnes by Finn Caldwell
Video Design by Andrzej Goulding
Lighting Design by Tim Lutkin
Sound Design by Carolyn Downing
Original Music by Andrew T. Mackay
Dramaturgy by Jack Bradley

Dec. 6, 2022 – Jan. 29, 2023
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

“I must not fear. 
Fear is the mind-killer. 
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. 
I will face my fear. 
I will permit it to pass over me and through me. 
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. 
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. 
Only I will remain.”
– The Bene Gesserit’s “Litany Against Fear” from Dune by Frank Herbert

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Life of Pi at American Repertory is for fans who loved the novel and the movie. It’s for people who loved the movie, too. Life of Pi may also appeal to people who don’t regularly attend the theatre but enjoy a spectacle epic. 

Life of Pi the stage adaptation is not for children. The movie was rated PG, but the theatrical version is PG-13 at least. Puppets are no longer an indication of child-friendly content. Life of Pi’s puppets can be graceful and inspire wonder – yes – they also rightly invoke fear.  Continue reading

Sep 03

Anti-racist Discourse Can Feel Like an Attack: “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992”

Wesley T. Jones as Keith Watson and Elena Hurst as Hector Tobar in “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.” Photo: Lauren Miller

Presented by American Repertory Theater in association with Signature Theatre
Conceived, Written, and Revised by Anna Deavere Smith
Directed by Taibi Magar
Scenic Design by Riccardo Hernandez 
Costume Design by Linda Cho 
Lighting Design by Alan C. Edwards 
Sound Design by Darron L. West 
Projection Design by David Bengali 
Movement Coach Michael Leon Thomas
Dialect Design by Amy Stoller
Sensitivity Specialist Ann James
Featuring Elena Hurst (she/her), Wesley T. Jones (he/him), Francis Jue (he/him), Carl Palmer (he/him), and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart (she/her). 

Digital playbill
Digital guide & dramaturgy 
Runtime: Two and one half hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

Aug. 28 – Sept. 24, 2022
ASL Interpreted: 9/18 at 2PM & 9/21 at 7:30PM
Audio Described: 9/17 at 2PM & 9/22 at 7:30PM
Open Captioned: 9/17 at 2PM & 9/22 at 7:30PM
Relaxed: 9/24 at 2PM
Loeb Drama Center 
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge MA 02138

This production contains footage of extreme violence, instances of racialized and discriminatory language, and the sound of a gunshot.

Review by Kitty Drexel

I can’t forever dwell in darkness.
I can’t forever dwell in the idea,
just identifying with people like me,
and understanding me and mine.

  • Twilight Bey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 isn’t a conversation starter. It is the continuation of a centuries-long conversation. While my fellow white people are arguing about woke politics and sniffling about their fragile feelings, BIPOC and their allies live the negative effects of systemic racism. 

This play is about the violence perpetrated against Latasha Harlins, Soon Ja Du, Rodney King, and George Floyd. Graphic violence is depicted. Audience members see the moment when Latasha Harlins dies. We see LAPD police brutally and mercilessly beat Rodney King. Reginald Denny nearly died during the Los Angeles riots. This play is not for children.  Continue reading

Jun 04

Could be Better, Could be Worse: American Repertory Theater’s “1776”


Presented by American Repertory Theater
Produced in association with Roundabout Theatre Company
Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Based on a Concept by Sherman Edwards
Directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus
Music Direction by Ryan Cantwell
Choreography by Jeffrey L. Page
Music Supervision by David Chase
Orchestrations by John Clancy
Vocal Design by AnnMarie Milazzo
Dialect Coaching (NYC) by Dawn-Elin Fraser
Dialect Coaching (Cambridge) by Erika Bailey
Fight Direction by Thomas Schall

May 17 – July 24, 2022
Loeb Drama Center
Cambridge, MA
Run Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

The mask goes over your nose.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Contemporary performances of Stone & Edwards’ 1776 are a response to Hamilton. The 1997 Broadway revival production at the Roundabout Theatre had an all white, all cis male cast (with Star Trek TNG’s Brent Spiner in the role of John Adams). American Repertory Theater tries something different with its 2022 production. It is largely successful thanks to the brave, button-pushing performances of its actors. 

1776 is the reproduction of the infamous congressional meetings that lead to the United States’ declaration of independence on July 4, 1776. John Adams (Crystal Lucas-Perry), Benjamin Franklin (Patrena Murray), and Thomas Jefferson (Elizabeth A. Davis) cajole the members of the Continental Congress into voting for American independence from British tyranny.  Continue reading

Sep 25

“Borrowed Cash” and Their Stolen Songs


Presented by Harvard’s American Repertory Theater
Written by Daniel Jenkins and Melissa van der Schyff
Directed by Gina Rattan

Sept. 13 – Sept. 23, 2018
OBERON – American Repertory Theater
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
ART on Facebook

Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Cambridge, MA) Borrowed Cash was a band headlined by the two ex-lovers Ann Marie and Harper, who were Brits parading as hillbilly Southerners. Between the ex-spouses, Ann Marie provided the most twanging, crooning Americana songs center stage with eyes closed.  Harper spent most of his time supplying the main keyboard riffs, singing backup harmonies, and blowing a harmonica.  Harper is actually NYC-born actor Daniel H. Jenkins, and Ann Marie the Canadian actress Melissa van der Schyff. Neither are British or Southern, but both did a great job of playing bitter British bandmates who suffered a nasty divorce. Continue reading

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

Dec 24

A Mobile, Spectacle-Driven Adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility”

Presented by Bedlam
Written by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Eric Tucker

December 10, 2017 – January 14, 2018
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)
ART on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Communicating the swift wit of a Jane Austen story is sometimes lost in an adaptation of her work. What better metaphor for the pace and quick gossip of polite society than a stage where all the furniture has wheels and actors move across it with the precision of a ballet? Bedlam, in its own words, “creates works of theatre that reinvigorate traditional forms in a flexible, raw space.” This adaptation is as kinetic and flexible as described, but it works best when its uses its techniques to highlight Austen’s source material, not when they try to rely on special effects. Continue reading