Aug 14

Burning Down the Establishment One BIPOC Critic at a Time: A Profile of Pascale Florestal

Florestal, image from www.pascaleflorestal.com

Profile by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON/ZOOM — Boston’s theatre journalism scene is a barren wasteland of white maleness. The desperate cries of BIPOC performing artists and designers for accurate representation are carried by winds off of the Atlantic ocean to diversity-parched cities and towns across New England: where are the critics of color?

Critiquing and reviewing circles have remained steadfastly white for the last few decades. Out of the current eleven members of the Boston Theater Critics Association, six are white men, five are white women.

The Front Porch Arts Collective launched the Young Critics Program in spring 2019 in partnership with WBUR the ARTery. It is the only independent training opportunity specifically geared towards young BIPOC journalists in New England. Boston-based director, dramaturg, educator, writer, and collaborator Pascale Florestal is the woman in charge. Continue reading

Aug 04

“Macbeth” Gets Bloody Good: Part II

Presented by Liars & Believers
Directed by Jason Slavick
Original Music and Sound Design by Jay Mobley
Additional Video by Sam Powell

June 18, 2020 – Present (Weekly)
View – https://www.liarsandbelievers.com/show/pandemicplay/
LAB on Facebook, Twitter

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM – When we last left our antiheroes, Macbeth (Jesse Garlick) found his ambitions for the throne awoken by three, soothsayer witches (all played by Rebecca Lehrhoff in different registers and Instagram filters) and Lady Macbeth (Rachel Wiese) decided to do whatever was in her power to climb the hegemonic ladder and stomp on every person who got in their way as bloodily as possible. Betrayal has yet to visit ruin and mental anguish on their lives. Continue reading

Sep 13

We’re on the Same Side: “The Purists”

J Bernard Calloway and John Scurti; Photo Credit: T Charles Ericksonn© T Charles Erickson.

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
By Dan McCabe
Directed by Billy Porter
Original music by Michael Sandlofer

Aug. 30 – Oct. 6, 2019
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Editor’s Note: This article now includes an addendum by Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston) These are some terms and figures within hip hop culture that viewers should understand to better appreciate The Purists.

These are some terms and figures from musical theatre culture that viewers should understand.

  • Jerome Kern
  • George & Ira Gershwin
  • Bob Fosse 
  • Andrew Lloyd Weber 
  • National treasure, Bob Ross
  • Rapping in musicals
  • Annie + video 
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • Call center/Box office
  • The Golden Age of musical theatre

Oppression isn’t a contest. Virginia is mourning the 400th anniversary of slavery in the US. June 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The ADA wasn’t made law until 1990. The only people who win when marginalized communities fight are the rich, white people who make money from our oppression. No one is free until we are all free. Freedom must be intersectional.   Continue reading

Jul 23

Laughter Through Tears: “Steel Magnolias”

The Cast; Photo by Tim Gurczak

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Robert Harling
Directed by Paula Plum

July 19 – Aug. 3, 2019
Club Cafe
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA
Hub on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Steel Magnolias is a theatre classic. It can be seen in fringe and community productions across the country. The 1989 movie starring Sally Fields and Dolly Parton has firmly cemented itself into the 80’s pop culture. The 2012 TV-movie starring Queen Latifah and, queen in her own right, Phylicia Rashad introduced a new generation to the story. It has survived well because of its timelessness. There will always be a need for safer-spaces where women can be themselves beyond the emotional and physical labors society demands from them. Hub Theatre’s production nestles into that need.  Continue reading

Sep 24

Casual Disregard for Our Mutual Humanity: “The Niceties”

Look who’s teaching now. Lisa Banes and Jordan Boatman. Photo: T. Charles Erickson. 

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Kimberly Senior
Original music and sound design by Elisheba Ittoop

Aug. 31 – Oct. 6, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The Niceties is a play about primary sources. It’s about the writers of white history, and white history’s casualties. It’s about speaking effectively and effective listening. It’s about race and the people who decide what is and isn’t racist behavior. It’s about attempting to be a good person while being good to other people. It’s about an impetuous Black student who’s had enough of excuses from a white professor, and an egotistical white professor who’s forgotten how to teach. There are no winner; there’s only complication. Continue reading

Aug 27

The Monkey is Omniscient: “Timbuktu, USA”

Top row (l-r): Karos, McMaster, Kaiss, Astudillo
Bottom row (l-r): Wiseman, Hillyer, Baltay; photo credit to David Marshall

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Written and directed by Kenneth Prestininzi
Assistant direction from Teresa Cruz
Fight choreography by Drew Frayre

Aug. 25 – Sept. 1, 2018
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: references to bestiality, incestuous kissing

(Boston, MA) Sleeping Wezel’s Timbuktu, USA is an absurd political satire made digestible via the mechanics of a bedroom farce. There is opportunity a plenty to be delightfully offended by the comings and goings of Prestininzi’s chaotic neutral politicians. The buffoonery so closely resembles the US current political boondoggle that audience members may leave confused. Fear not, Timbuktu, USA is a diversion well worth any disorientation. Continue reading

Aug 20

Fatal Attraction: Love, Friendship, and Ritual Sacrifice in the name of “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord”

Photo by Ally Schmaling. — with Gina Fonseca, Khloe Alice Lin, Lisa Joyce and Tatiana Isabel.

Presented by Off the Grid Theatre Company
Written by Alexis Scheer
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw

August 17 – September 1, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Roberts Studio Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02116
Off the Grid on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) It is 2008, a momentous year for the United States, and especially for four teenage girlfriends in suburban Florida. This radical, ambitious, creative squad grapples with identity, relationships, and adult responsibility using the occult as a metaphor…or is it anything but? Continue reading

Aug 15

Frothy Fun and B-Side Moments: MAMMA MIA

Tari Kelly (Tanya) with Tiffani Barbour (Rosie) and Erica Mansfield (Donna) in MAMMA MIA! live on stage at North Shore Music Theatre thru September 2. Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Directed & Choreographed By: Kevin P. Hill
Music Direction By: Bob Bray
Music And Lyrics By: Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus And Some Songs With Stig Anderson
Book By: Catherine Johnson
Originally Conceived By: Judy Cramer

August 2 – September 2, 2018
North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) There is a reason why the musical Mamma Mia has become such a phenomenon – I mean, aside from the fact that a group of Swedes sold their souls to the devil to make the most earworm-y music of the 20th century. The story is one long, sexy summer party that showcases the current or past foibles of our twenties. A young woman secretly invites her three potential fathers to her island wedding without telling her mother about it – it’s as if someone set out to re-envision Midsummer Night’s Dream with platform shoes. Continue reading

Aug 10

“Leftovers” and the Balance Between Wishes and Truths

Photo by Paul Fox.

Presented by Company One Theatre
Written by Josh Wilder
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Developed by C1 PlayLab

July 21 – August 18, 2018
The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Road, Boston, MA 02125
The Leftovers on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) When a giant dandelion bursts out of the ground in their Philadelphia yard, Kwamaine (the charming Christian Scales) is enchanted while his older brother, Jalil (Kadahj Bennett, who pulls some of the best humorous faces I’ve seen on any given stage), is understandably baffled. Their harassed mother, Raquelle (Lyndsay Allyn Cox), is mostly just annoyed. Writer Josh Wilder and director Summer L. Williams deliver an odd, funny city-based fable that becomes a magic realist quest through systemic poverty, race, The Cosby Show, and the insulating nature of fantasies. Continue reading

Aug 06

A State of Virginal Ecstasy; Or, Needs More Snakes in Bowls: “Dark Room”

Ensemble | Photo Credit, Andrew Brilliant

Presented by Bridge Repertory Theater
Written by George Brant
Inspired by the life, death, and photography of Francesca Woodman
Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio
Associate director and dramaturgy by Alexander Platt
Choreography by Doppelgänger Dance Collective

July 27 – August 16, 2018
In residence at the Multicultural Arts Center
Cambridge, MA
Bridge Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Disclaimer: I auditioned for this production, and was not cast. It is my opinion that only a jackass would allow rejection, a natural process of auditioning, to taint their review.

(Cambridge, MA) Producer and director, D’Ambrosio gives an important, informative speech before Dark Room to guide audience expectations. She suggests we allow the performance to wash over us. Should we become puzzled by the actions onstage, rather than self-interpret what we see, we should allow the performance to explain itself through continued observance. I’d further posit that audience members do proper research before attending. The chiaroscuro style of Francesca Woodman is emphatically stirring. To fully absorb the performance, it behooves an audience to google Woodman’s art. Continue reading