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
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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

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Aug 17

A Love Letter, inspired by “A Good Death”

Photo credit: Colleen Moore

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
Written by Shelley M. Hobbs
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Produced by Kelly Smith

August 17 through September 2
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00PM
Sundays at 2:00PM
Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
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Written by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, MA)  OOH child, nothing but praise for A Good Death!  I’m about to provide a review that’s emotionally charged with encouragement – for you to see this play and to bring loved ones; especially for you to bring religious relatives you have trouble communicating with.  I’ll use the words love and queer repeatedly, because it is a play about lesbian companions who are platonic life partners.  I’ll show why Boston is damn lucky to have Also Known As Theatre (AKA) as it newest independent theatre company.  I want AKA to flourish. I want Alison Bechdel to attend. I want YOU to attend, and here’s why: Continue reading

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Aug 03

PROSPERA – la Señora de la Isla: “La Tempestad”

Presented by Trinity Repertory Company with Rhode Island Latino Arts (RILA)
Originally Written by William Shakespeare
Translated to Spanish by Orlando Hernandez
Directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo

June 28 through July 27, 2018
Toured around Rhode Island. Schedule with locations is HERE
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Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Roger Williams Park, Providence, Rhode Island)  This bilingual English-Spanish adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest was part of the Rhode Island Latino Arts’s (RILA) program Teatro en El Verano (Theater in the Summer).  It was directed by the Brown/Trinity second-year Tatyana-Marie Carlo, who was drawn to the humor and magic of The Tempest.  Carlo’s ensemble cast performed the play in a hybrid Spanglish, switching back and forth between the two languages mid-stanza, sometimes mid-line. Continue reading

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Jun 27

Laura Neill’s “DIVAS”

The ensemble

Presented by OperaHub in collaboration with DIVA Museum
Written by Laura Neill
Produced and Stage Directed by Adrienne Boris
Music Directed and Collaborative Piano by Patricia Au
Starring Chelsea Beatty, Kathryn McKellar, Lindsay Conrad, Glorivy Arroyo, and Christie Lee Gibson

June 21 through 30, 2018
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston
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Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, Massachusetts) DIVAS is a new play by the writer and educator Laura Neill.  It is being performed for the rest of this week in a black box at the BCA.  On the Sunday I attended, the black box was very warm. The man sitting next to me repeatedly wiped the sweat trickling down his brow, and half the audience was skimming through their programs, while the other half fanned their perspiring faces.  The small theatre’s high temperature didn’t seem to bother most of the patrons, who had either greying or thoroughly whitened hair. OperaHub’s noble mission is “to present high-caliber, affordable, and accessible classical music to a wide community of music and art lovers,” but looking around the audience, it was easy to remember that the classical music community remains mostly white and older. Continue reading

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Jun 25

BeBe Winans was “Born for This”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Original Music and lyrics by BeBe Winans
Book by Charles Randolph-Wright, BeBe Winans and Lisa D’Amour
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
Choreographed by Warren Adams
Orchestrations, Arrangements, & Music Direction by Steven Jamail
Starring Milton Craig Nealy, Kirsten Wyatt, Phillip Brandon, Matthew Griffin, and Donald Webber, Jr.

June 15 through July 15, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Downtown Boston, MA)  Born for This was the musical biography of soul gospel musician Benjamin “Bebe” Winans, a Detroit native who began his career releasing albums with his sister Priscilla “CeCe” Winans from 1984 through 1996.  In 1989, BeBe won a Grammy for Best Male Soul Gospel Performance. In 1997, he signed with Atlantic Records and released his first of seven solo albums. That same year, BeBe delivered the international hit “I Wanna Be The Only One,” which featured British soul trio Eternal and topped the UK Singles chart in May 1997.  Throughout his career, Bebe has collaborated other Grammy award winning R&B vocalists – such as Stephanie Mills, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder.
Continue reading

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Jun 11

“A Chorus Line” as a Period Piece

Wahle as Zach with Ensemble. Photo by Herb Philpott.

Presented by Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett
Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Originally Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian
Direction; Recreation of the Original Choreography by Leslie Woodies
Music direction by Dan Rodriguez
Assistant Director/Assistant Choreographer – Lauren Gemelli

June 7 through 17, 2018
Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
617 Lexington St., Waltham, MA 02452
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Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Waltham, Massachusetts) I had never seen A Chorus Line so, for readers who are unfamiliar with this 1975 Broadway musical about life in show biz, please let me provide a brief summary.  On a bare stage, a group of dancers bring their headshots and personal histories to an audition where they share their birth names, stage names, birthdays, and ages, as well as their most formative life experiences.  There was a tough boy from the Bronx, another guy from a big Italian family, a saucy woman who flirted with the director, and fifteen more performers – all with large and extremely memorable personalities. Continue reading

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Jun 07

Ready for “A Piece of My Heart”

Photo credit: Nile Scott Photos

Presented by Wellesley Repertory Theatre
Written by Shirley Lauro
Suggested by the book by Kevin Walker
Directed by Nora Hussey
Starring in the sensational ensemble:  Victoria Georgia, Marge Dunn, Ariela Nazar-Rosen, Sarah Lord, Jenna Lea Scott, Andres Lyman, Danny Bolton, and Alan White

May 31 through June 24, 2018
Wellesley Repertory Theatre
The Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
106 Central St, Wellesley, MA
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Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Wellesley, Massachusetts) A Piece of My Heart is a drama about five nurses and one singer who voluntarily travel to Vietnam for one year during the Second Indochina War.  This cast of patriots did a terrific job recreating the emotional bonds of friendship that form between those in war zones. Continue reading

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Jun 04

Fingers in “Cold Blood”


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Original idea by Michèle Anne De Mey
Produced by Astragale ASBL
Co-produced by Charleroi Danses

May 30 to June 3, 2018
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
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Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Downtown Boston, MA)  The show began with a narrator sonorously incanting:  “It’s dark. You hear a voice. That voice will count to three, and at three you will be asleep.  One. Two. Three.” Continue reading

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May 29

Eyes on the Future: “The Legend of Georgia McBride”


Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Written by Matthew Lopez
Directed by Russell Garrett

May 3 through 20, 2018
Greater Boston Stage Company on Facebook
395 Main St, Stoneham, Massachusetts 02180

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Stoneham, Massachusetts) This was a production ostensibly about an Elvis Presley impersonator, but it turned out to be an entertaining tale about much more – 1960s billboard music in general, dance as freeing self-expression, femme identity, family, marriage, and pregnancy.  On a warm spring day, a pal and I attended the last show of the play’s run, and The Legend of Georgia McBride was an absolutely perfect performance for that breezy Sunday afternoon.  Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham is a comfortable venue, and everyone loved the music featured throughout the play.  Ushers tapped their feet. Patrons around me snapped, clapped, and sang along. The actors infused the story with a hopeful and happy energy that kept the audience laughing, commiserating, intrigued, engaged, and enthusiastic. Continue reading

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May 11

“DIANA!” – sketch comedy for millennials born in the mid-1990s

Presented by ImprovBoston
40 Prospect St, Cambridge, MA
Friday, 4 May 2018 @ 10pm
Next performance is June 8, 11PM
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Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Central Square, Cambridge) DIANA! was marketed as an all-women musical to be performed by a cast of passionate comediennes who celebrate imperfection, and this was the only preparation patrons were provided, because that’s how it goes in the improv comedy circuit.  Late night audiences show up, some degree of inebriated and half-heartedly hoping our performers are capable of spontaneously spurning out sunny slapstick satire. The cast of DIANA! had their assignment – to parody imperfection – and they did a terribly terrific job of mocking classy “classic people” and laughing at highbrow literature. Continue reading

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