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
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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

Mar 09

The Harm that Lust Can Do: TRISTAN & YSEULT

overs Tristan (Dominic Marsh) with Yseult (Hannah Vassallo) Kneehigh’s Tristan & Yseult Photo by: Richard Termine

Lovers Tristan (Dominic Marsh) with Yseult (Hannah Vassallo).  Photo by:Richard Termine

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Directed and adapted by Emma Rice
Written by Carl Grose & Anna Maria Murphy
Performed by Kneehigh Theatre Company
Composed by Stu Barker
Sweet Band: Lizzy Westcott, Justin Radford, Pat Moran, James Gow

March 5 – 15, 2015
Cutler Majectic Theater
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) In 2006 Twentieth Century Fox released a film bastardization of the Tristan and Isolde myth, Tristan & Isolde. It was headlined by James freakin’ Franco, directed by Kevin Reynolds, and produced by Ridley Scott. It was terrible but sweet, innocent youths flocked to the theater because, then “It” boy, James Franco (Tristan) participated in naked sexy times with Sophia Myles (Isolde) and they wanted to see it. These poor kids assumed that T&I were star crossed lovers with good intentions and bad luck. The truth lives thousands of miles away from the inane crud Reynolds and Franco brought to screen.

Kneehigh Theatre Company’s Tristant & Yseult presents a more true interpretation of the medieval French tale. Tristan (Dominic Marsh with a dodgy French accent), Yseult (Hannah Vassallo) and King Mark (Stuart Goodwin) are caught in a love triangle. Tristan loves and serves the English King Mark like a father. In return, Mark loves Tristan like a son. After defeating the Irish royal Morholt (Niall Ashdown),  Tristan sails to Ireland to capture Morholt’s sister, the fair Yseult, and bring her back to England at Mark’s behest. Upon seeing her for the first time, both men fall deeply in love with Yseult. Yseult gives her sensible heart to Mark but her hormonal lady bits to Tristan. The actions are narrated by the elegant White Hands (Kirsty Woodward) and the patrons of the Club of the Unloved, the omniscient ensemble dressed in snoods, thick glasses, and windbreakers (snood dudes). There’s betrayal and laughs aplenty. Continue reading

Jan 30

That Which Makes Us Different Makes Us Beautiful: BREATH & IMAGINATION

Elijah Rock, Nehal Joshi and Harriet D. Foy Photo credit: Mike Ritter

Elijah Rock, Nehal Joshi and Harriet D. Foy
Photo credit: Mike Ritter

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created/written by Daniel Beaty
Directed by David Dower
Music directed/accompanied/arranged/additional music by Jonathan Mastro

Jan 27 – Feb 08, 2015
Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
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Roland Hayes (School of Music) on Facebook, Wiki

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Black lives matter: Racism is alive and thriving everywhere. “But it’s 2015,” people will cry. Right, it’s 2015 and racism is still alive and thriving in Boston. To prove a point: check out which art makes the most money. For an institution greatly concerned with artistic expression, remaining significant in an ever modernizing world, and pushing boundaries, opera tends to steer clear of non-White people. Opera includes POCs in its casting but its stories are mostly about White people. Roland Hayes, first Black man to sing a concert at Symphony Hall would be an excellent subject for an opera.  Thank the great goodness that there’s Breath & Imagination to educate the masses. Continue reading

Nov 20

A Story Worth Telling: “The Old Man and the Old Moon”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created by PigPen Theatre Co.

November 19 – 23, 2014
Emerson/Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
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Review by Nick Bennett-Zendzian

(Boston) Theatre is storytelling. Hopefully that’s not a revelation to anyone reading this, but given that theatre covers such a broad spectrum, I find it helpful to remember that no matter what art forms get incorporated into a production, the story is what lies at the heart of every play, musical, opera or what have you. And the young men who make up the ensemble of the NYC-based fringe group PigPen Theatre Company have proven themselves to be masterful storytellers with their contemporary folktale-style production of “The Old Man and the Old Moon,” running until this Sunday at the Paramount Theatre in Downtown Boston. Continue reading

Oct 23

Not your Momma’s Mozart: “The Magic Flute”

Created by the Isango Ensemble
Adapted and Directed by Mark Dornford-May
Music Arrangement by Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis
Based on the opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emanuel Schikaneder
Presented by Eric Abraham and ArtsEmerson

October 21 – 26th
Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont street, Boston
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Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) Dispense with any ideas you might have about corseted Victorian Opera when you walk into the Culter Majestic to see The Magic Flute. This modern (perhaps even post-modern) adaptation of a classic piece of canon receives energetic, vivacious, and absolutely infectious treatment from its cast of boundless performers. This is absolutely not your momma’s Mozart. Continue reading

Oct 17

Speak What we Feel Not What We Ought to Say: KING LEAR

Produced by ArtsEmerson
Created by Shakespeare’s Globe
Directed by Bill Buckhurst

October 15-23, 2014
Paramount Center
559 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02111
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Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA)

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. I don’t bring this up in order to achieve the fifteen minutes of internet fame that it will garner him (hi, Dad!), but rather to insist that the themes of King Lear are persistent to fathers and daughters to this day. I mean, there’s really nothing like having an angry Dragon bellow at you for three hours about filial duty to remind you to at least call your father on his birthday. Continue reading

Apr 27

Violent Dichotomies: The Wholehearted

Dee Crosby – ESPN Intro from Imaginary Media Artists on Vimeo.

Presented by ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage
Created by Stein|Holum Projects
Written by Deborah Stein
Directed by Suli Holum & Deborah Stein

April 17 – 27, 2014
Paramount Theater
Jackie Liebergott Black Box
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings for partial nudity, emotional & physical violence, strong language, and Cup Noodles soup.

(Boston) In The Wholehearted,Dee Crosby (played by the Tilda Swinton-esque Suli Holum) uses antiquated media technology to send a video love letter to her Ex, Carmen. Crosby was a boxing champ in the early 2000’s with a stellar career, a pristine image and what appeared to be a perfect marriage to her coach, Charlie. Unfortunately, Charlie didn’t know how to leave the match in the ring. In her video love letter, Dee relives her most memorable career events deepest turmoils. Creators Holum and Stein show us that assault victims come in all shapes, sizes and definitions of femininity. Continue reading

Apr 08

Our Differences are Our Similarities: NOT BY BREAD ALONE

Presented by ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage
Created by Adina Tal and Nalaga’at Deaf-Blind Theater
Conceived by AdinaTal
Original music by Amnon Baaham
“Dancing Closely” written and performed by Zvi Tal

April 2 – 6, 2014
The Paramount Center
Theatre District
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Not by Bread Alone is the most sincere piece of theatre I have seen all year. Productions like this are why we artists create; it is why theatre exists. The tremendous talent of the Nalag’at Deaf-Blind Theater is awe-inspiring. It’s Boston run is over but it will be in the US for a while longer. I suggest doing everything in your power to attend this brilliant production. Continue reading

Mar 07

Life is But a Dream: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Presented by Bristol Old Vic
in association with Handspring Puppet Company
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Tom Morris

March 6th – 15, 2014
ArtsEmerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA
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Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston) As much as I love my Willy (and, trust me, there’s no girl in the world who loves Willy more than I do), Midsummer has always been a problematic play for me.

It’s not the language; this play is simply beautiful linguistically with enough famous speeches to keep a casual listener engaged but not so much that it begins to feel like Hamlet (bopping from one pop culture soliloquy to another with nary a breath in between). This play has more rhyming couplets than you can shake a stick at; and natural imagery that can lull even a colicky infant into the show’s titular pleasant reverie. Continue reading

Jul 19

Strung Together with Friends and Family: THE SHAKESPEAREAN JAZZ SHOW

Photo Credit: Tripp Clemens

Presented by ArtsEmerson
“Conceiver”, Director – Alex Ates
Composer, Musical Director: Patrick Greeley
Puppeteers – Christina Kuchan, Orrin Whalen
Created by Alex Ates & Patrick Greeley

The Shakespearean Jazz Show is a Boston-born project created by young artists from Emerson College and Berklee College of Music.

July 18 & 19, 2013 at 8pm
Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
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Berklee College of Music Facebook Page
The Nine Worthies band Tumblr

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) There is so much potential for greatness in The Shakespearean Jazz Show that it’s truly tragic that it falls so far from its mark. Patrick Greeley writes some damn fine music; the Nine Worthies are a great band (I’m looking at you Jamila Dunham); the vocalists are quite sincere, the shadow puppets are very clever… But these separate elements do not make art on their own. They must be strung together. The talented members of Jazz Show did not make this happen. Continue reading