Mar 09

“The Hotel Nepenthe”: Here’s looking at you and you and your other you, kid kid kid…

Photo by Maggie Hill Photography

Presented by The Brown Box Theatre
Written by John Kuntz
Directed by Alex Lonati
Produced by Kyler Taustin

March 9-11, 2018 in Massachusetts
Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress St., Boston
March 15, 2018 in Princess Anne, MD
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Brown Box on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Boston, MA) It was a wintry evening in Boston’s Financial District and, as the audience moseyed into the lobby of an office building with wet snow piled upon our hats and coats, we found our seats to the soundtrack of bubbly theme songs from classic pre-1970s television and cinema. There were themes from Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, and that kicky rendition of the Charleston dance song as featured in It’s A Wonderful Life (1940s).

Once seated and ready for the performance, patrons sat with our four actors lounging around the small stage space in short leopard-print bathrobes. Hm? Earlier in the week, I told a pal that I was going to see a play by John Kuntz, and their heads-up was “John Kuntz? His stuff is weird but wonderful!” And yes, very immediately, with the bouncy lyrics of “The Ballad of Gilligans Island” promising a fateful trip, I knew I was in for a theatrical adventure. Continue reading

Feb 20

World Music Concert: Presenting Carla Bruni

Presented by the World Music/CrashArts

Thursday, 15 February 2018 ONLY
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Avenue
Carla Bruni on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Boston, MA) As a vocalist Carla Bruni had an effortless delivery, and she was best crooning at a mellow level, which any close listener of Bruni’s albums would already know.  Her voice was much fuller and sultrier at a slow pace, which conveyed more genuine feelings that the audience sensed and responded to with thundery clapping.  Program notes provided by World Music/CrashARTS prepared the audience for a coup de foudre, the French term for falling in love at first sight, trying to ready everyone for a moody and emotional evening of intimate ballads.  Ultimately, as anticipated, this was a performance for romantics to attend the week of Valentine’s Day; a concert presenting new songs from Carla Bruni’s latest album called “French Touch.” Continue reading

Jan 16

“The Liar”: Sassy and Solid

Photo by David Brooks Andrews

Presented by Wellesley Repertory Theatre 
Directed by Marta Rainer
Written by David Ives

Jan 11 through Feb 4, 2018
Wellesley Repertory Theatre
106 Central St, Wellesley, MA
WRT on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

An earlier posting of this review included typos. We sincerely apologize for such mistakes to the cast, crew, and audience of The Liar.

(Wellesley, Massachusetts)  On a rainy night I drove to Wellesley, my Kia Soul surrounded by rolling mists of grey fog, and my patriotic heart weighed down by the repeated disappointment that is Donald, embarrassed and saddened by the virulent racism he displayed again —this time publicly referring to other nations as “shithole” countries.  At the theatre, I settled into my seat with a sigh and a slight frown. And I probably crossed my arms at some point, which I’m prone to do when silently seething.  I was sad and huffy and not in a state to kindly review anything.   Continue reading

Dec 11

Honestly and Wonderfully: “She Loves Me”

The cast of “She Loves Me.” Photo by Maggie Hall.

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Book Written by Joe Masteroff
Music Originally by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed by Ilyse Robbins
Music directed by Matthew Stern

November 24th through December 23rd, 2017
Greater Boston Stage Company on Facebook
395 Main St, Stoneham, Massachusetts 02180

Review with Bishop C. Knight

(Stoneham, Massachusetts) An adaptation of the 1937 play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László, She Loves Me is set in a perfume shop where the entire staff pauses to sing in unison “Pleeeease doooo call again” to every departing customer.  In a broad sense, this is one of those comedies defined by the positive space of its set; meaning that the characters’ workspace and workspace culture were as much part of the musical as the characters’ dialogue and songs.  She Loves Me is evocative of other comedies reliant on their sets, like Cheers and Seinfeld which respectively wouldn’t be what they are without Sammy’s Boston bar and Jerry’s apartment building. Continue reading

Dec 11

A Lonely Old Man and His “Christmas Carol”

Rebecca White and Joel Colodner; Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Stage adaptation by Tony Brown
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian

November 29 thru December 24, 2017
Merrimack Repertory Theatre on Facebook
132 Warren Street, Lowell, MA  01852

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Lowell, Massachusetts)  Megan Sandberg-Zakian’s production needed a larger cast.  Three hard-working actors struggled to carry this Christmas story, which Charles Dickens populated with nine very diverse characters.  These actors paced the small stage quickly switching between accents and affectations, to communicate to the audience that they were presenting a different personality, and it ended up being an evening of too much talk.  At one point when my eyes were glazing over, I asked myself if I were in a comfortable lull or if I was just bored.  Then during intermission, I overheard a fellow patron say that she hoped she did not fall asleep during the second act.  So I had my answer: She and I were just bored. Continue reading

Nov 27

Utterly Enchanting: “The Perils of Mr. Punch”

Presented by Modern Time Theater
Puppeteers Rose Friedman & Justin Lander
Modern Times Theater Website

November 24th thru 26th, 2017
Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St.
Brookline, Massachusetts 02445
Puppet Showplace on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Brookline Village, Massachusetts) The puppeteer spouses Rose Friedman and Justin Lander are as lovely as their puppets and, in particular, Justin Lander’s sense of humor was utterly enchanting.  At one point during their opening act, Lander intimated to a kiddo at the front of the audience, “You owe me an ice cream sundae.”  A few minutes later during this musical skit, Lander told kids and presumably their parents that he was holding “one of the many instruments you can make out of old washing equipment.”  For cornballs like myself who thoroughly enjoy observational comedy,  statements like that are a hoot! Continue reading

Nov 27

A Broadway Revival of “The Color Purple”

Presented by the Boch Center 
Book Written by Alice Walker
Musical Adapted by Marsha Norman
Music by Brenda Russell and Allee Willis

November 21st – December 3rd, 2017
Church up in Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA
The Color Purple on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

“I believe…as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  -C.S. Lewis

(Downtown Boston, Massachusetts) Dear stars and dear trees:  For all of my life, I’d been closeted about my consumption of musicals.  But after witnessing the musical revival of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Celie and Sophie have officially folded me into musical theatre, and I want to stay swaddled in the feeling of this lively genre.  I can tell I am swooning over this Broadway show the way all firsts captivate you – your first kiss, your first live music concert, your first adult job, and your first Broadway musical.    Continue reading

Nov 20

Of a Family’s Home: “The Magic Fire”

Two generations; one woman. Gretta Beaty and Alice Hunter as Lise. Photo by Johanna Bobrow.

Presented by Theatre@First
Written by Lillian Garrett-Groag
Directed by Elizabeth Hunter

November 10 through 18, 2017
Unity Somerville, 6 William Street
Somerville, Massachusetts  02144
T@F on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

It is important to note that Queen Geek, Kitty Drexel performed in this production. As per the New England Theatre Geek reviewing policy, Knight’s review is tailored to avoid nepotism.

(Davis Square, West Somerville, Massachusetts) In her Note from the Director, Elizabeth Hunter wrote that she “invited you into this room because [she wanted] you to feel like part of the family,” and Hunter succeeded in creating that audience experience. Continue reading

Nov 08

The Writing Is On The Wall: “New and Dangerous Ideas”

Sarah Leach, Phoenyx Williams, and Christopher Johnson in the world premiere of “New and Dangerous Ideas” by Christopher Johnson at The Wilbury Theatre Group. Photo by James Lastowski.

Presented by Wilbury Theatre Group
Written by Christopher Johnson
Directed by Josh Short

November 2nd through 18th, 2017
Wilbury Theatre Group, 40 Sonoma Ct
Providence, Rhode Island  02909
WTG on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Providence, Rhode Island)  Lately I’ve been listening to JAY’s most recent album 4:44 when I’m driving, and one of my favorite tracks is “Smile,” partly because of the following lyric:  A loss ain’t a loss, it’s a lesson / Appreciate the pain, it’s a blessin’.  JAY’s album – released in response to Beyoncé’s Lemonade – is a reflection of the current state of Black American manhood, and right now you can hear that same lyric echoed by Black men throughout all the creative spheres.  The two men starring in New and Dangerous Ideas were certainly grappling with the lessons that we all can learn from the losses of rampant racism. Continue reading

Oct 30

“GoreFest XV” and Its Demons

Presented by ImprovBoston
Book by Nate Lopez
Lyrics and score by Jake Cassman
Directed by Nate Lopez
Produced by Josh Garneau

October 19 – 31, 2017
ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect Street
Central Square, Cambridge, MA 02140
ImprovBoston on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Cambridge, Massachusetts)  The cast of the horror show Gorefest XV: Horror House stars clichés such as Rich Guy, Girl Next Door, Mom Girl, Devil Girl, Overachiever Girl, Gay Guy, and Laura Dern.  They were hilariously accurate stereotypes, even Laura Dern as Laura Dern.  For example, Overachiever Girl became sulky when she placed second in a contest.  And Laura Dern screamed “Take this Academy,” as she stabbed herself with a trophy, falling to a fake death, on a stage smothered in puddles of fake blood.   Continue reading