Jan 25

Sober Truth….With Jokes: THE WHITE CHIP

Jeffrey Binder in "The White Chip" Photo by Meghan Moore.

Jeffrey Binder in “The White Chip” Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Sean Daniels
Directed by Sheryl Kaller

Jan 6 – 31, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Earnestness may be the most difficult emotion to pull off in theater well. Attempts generally fall short and become bludgeoning lectures, wooden morality plays, or both. That’s what makes The White Chip, playing at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, such a theatrical revelation. Not only does it deliver a powerful, needed message on why so many fail at addiction recovery, but it is a riveting play that is a joy to watch, as playwright Sean Daniels manages to add just the right amount of humor and perspective to keep the audience hooked. Continue reading

Sep 22

If You’re Alive, You’re Afraid: BROKEN GLASS

Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Rep Theatre in partnership with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA Boston Chapter).
Written by Arthur Miller
Directed by Jim Petosa

Sept. 5 – 27, 2015
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) It is no wonder that America didn’t suspect that Adolf Hilter was a major threat to Europe, Germany, or the world. His staff lead a campaign that depicted him as a congenial yet private Everyman with a love of children and the outdoors. This branding made Hitler out to be a decent guy, not the Jew, intellectual, and LGBT hating dictator he was. America didn’t recognize Hitler for the power-hungry villain he was until it was almost too late. Marketing works, people. Raw Story has an excellent, rather brief article up. I highly suggest reading it for theatrical and historical perspective. Continue reading

Feb 24

Because He Could: ALBATROSS

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Presented by the Poets’ Theatre in collaboration with Ocean Conservancy
Directed by Rick Lombardo
Written by Matthew Spangler & Benjamin Evett
Based on “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The poem can be read here.

Feb. 13 – March 1, 2015
The Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre
Emerson/Paramount Center
Boston, MA 02111
Poets’ Theatre on Facebook
Ocean Conservancy on Facebook

Trigger Warnings: graphic violence, harsh language

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Disney’s Captain Jack Sparrow is a poster boy for pirates. He’s grimy, clever thief with a heart of tarnished gold. Jack likely smells rank but has an unmistakable charisma that drives audiences  wild. Some want to be him; some want to f^ck him, etc. It’s no wonder that this franchise made so much money.

Sparrow is a lie. He is the Hollywood equivalent of a romantic adventure on the high seas with creatures great and majestic during a time that never was. Pirates are not charming; they are brutal criminals capable of unthinkable acts. Historically, pirates sailing the Atlantic sacked and ravaged rival merchant ships. Cruelty was de rigueur. Continue reading

Oct 15

A Little Murder Between Friends: ASSASSINS

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures 2014

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures 2014

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr.
Directed by Jim Petosa
Musical direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Judith Chaffee

Oct. 4 – 26, 2014
Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Please note: there is no intermission for this 2 hour musical.

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) Society likes to label people who commit atrociously violent acts, Monsters. It is deeply important that we, the good folk of society, acknowledge that the Monsters who murder, harm, victimize, etc. aren’t depraved beasts transformed by mental illness into inhuman criminals. These Monsters are people who do monstrous things. So, if these Monsters are human just as we are human, then it follows that we must accept the possibility that we too are capable of monstrous acts. Continue reading

Sep 16

All Cucumbers and Hooves: UNDER MILK WOOD

Photo courtesy of Artsboston; a picture of the cast at the reading with Mr. Scanlan in the front.

Photo courtesy of Artsboston; photo was grabbed from the Poet’s Theatre FB page.  A picture of the cast at the reading with Mr. Scanlan in the front.

A celebration in honor of the revival of The Poet’s Theatre and the centennial of the Author’s birth.

Presented by The Poet’s Theatre
By Dylan Thomas
Directed by Bob Scanlan

Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall
Harvard University
Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 @ 7pm ONLY
Poet’s Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“…the idea that I write a piece, a play, an impression for voices, an entertainment out of the town I live in, and to write it simply and warmly and comically, with lots of movement and varieties of moods, so that, at many levels, through sight and speech, description and dialogue, evocation and parody, you come to know the town as an inhabitant of it.”
– Dylan Thomas – Collected Letters edited by Paul Ferris (London: Dent, 2000 (new edition)

(Cambridge, MA) Under Milk Wood is a radio drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. It was performed on the stage during Thomas’ lifetime (and by Thomas himself). It became a movie directed by Andrew Sinclair, and featured Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O’Toole, in 1972. For his centennial, the BBC has a site devoted to a recent film production of Under Milk Wood. All of this is mentioned because not nearly enough Americans have an appreciation for Thomas’ work –  aside from his famous poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” His work is elegant, romantic, and, best yet, free to read on the internet or in a library. It is a worthwhile, mind-expanding endeavor to read as much of his collected works. If not for your own sake, then to woo a paramour or two. Continue reading

Dec 02

Charm Conquers All: CAMELOT

Photo credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Photo credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Books and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Lowe
Original production directed and staged by Moss Heart
Based on “The Once and Future King” by TH White
Directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett
Musical direction by David McGrory
Dance Captain – Maurice Emmanuel Parent
Fight Captain – Michael J Borges

Nov. 23 – Dec. 22, 2013
Charles Mosesian Theater
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

(Watertown) The Director’s Notes by Russell Garrett are excellent. An audience member desiring nostalgic information correlating Camelot to the anniversary of JFK’s assassination will be well pleased. For this purpose, I will not dwell on the JFK’s Camelot as Mr. Garrett has already done an excellent job of doing so in the programme. If you’d like to know more, see the show.

Considering the weight that the Kennedy Family carries in the US, one might expect Camelot to be a more serious show. Lerner and Lowe’s fluffy hit does examine some heavy issues but the majority of the script and lyrics are intended to entertain rather than educate. The sugary sweet production by New Rep does not fail in its mission to cheer Baby Boomers and to indoctrinate younger generations in classic musical theatre. Continue reading

May 06

Struggling with Genius: AMADEUS

Photo: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
A play with music by Peter Shaffer
Directed by Jim Petosa

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
April 28th – May 19th, 2013
New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) The story goes that an earnest young monk once asked a Zen master to describe the immaculate nature of the Buddha.  The Zen Master, most likely with an insufferable grin on his face, pointed to a pile of dung.

This sums up the life of Antonio Salieri (Benjamin Evett) in the spirited production of Amadeus being staged at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.  Salieri, an accomplished composer who writes operas for Hapsburg monarchs, dedicates his life to capture the music of God.  Instead, he discovers his own private dung heap in the form of a foul-mouthed former child prodigy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tim Spears).  Salieri is crushed to learn that Mozart, a drunk, womanizing jerk, has a much clearer channel to God’s radio station and can compose the most beautiful music the world has ever known, even while playing billiards.  It drives the devout Italian composer to lose both his faith and his scruples. Continue reading