May 09

So I Turned Myself to Face Me: “Blythely Ever After”

Stephanie Blythe as Blythely Oratonio. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Directed by John Jarboe
Music direction & arrangements by Daniel Kazemi
Cowritten by John Jarboe & Stephanie Blythe 
Blythely, flower, costumes and throne designed by Machine Dazzle with Rebecca Kanach
Original sound design by Dan Perelstein Jaquette 

May 6, 2022 at 7:30 PM
Royal Boston
279 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02116

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Opera is not dead. Opera has the potential to thrive in these interesting times. Stephanie Blythe ushers in its new dawn as Blythely Oratonio, a drag king with a most ostentatious countenance, in Blythely Ever After. Opera, the culture, need only evolve with its denizens to survive. 

Drag queen Sapphira Cristál, she of the six-octave range, opened the concert in a stately purple taffeta robe with “Dich Teure Halle” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. She sang live but she was so pitch-perfect that she sounded recorded. This aria sounds as good sung by a queen if not better than it does by a princess soprano. Continue reading

May 05

The Politics of Punching Down: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Jennifer Ellis, Robert St. Laurence*, Kate Klika, Phil Tayler, Jared Troilo*, Lori L’Italien, Aimee Doherty*, Todd McNeel, Jr., Leigh Barrett*. Photo by Mark S. Howard.

Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Steven Lutvak
Book and Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Music Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Larry Sousa

April 15 – May 22, 2022
Lyric Stage Company
40 Clarendon St
Boston, MA
Tickets

Critique by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

BOSTON, Mass. — Laughter is never neutral. Whiteness is never neutral. A comedy of manners might stake the claim that farce is some great, humanizing equalizer, but humor is inherently directional: someone is always doing the laughing, and something, or someone, is always being laughed at.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which won the Tony in 2014 for Best Musical, is vague about its directionality. Ostensibly, we’re laughing at the hypocritical mores of upper crust Edwardian England, but we’re just as often prompted to laugh at, for example, effeminate men, hyper-feminine women, or the “exotic” peoples suffering under the thumb of colonialism offstage. Continue reading

Apr 25

Joy, Compassion, Kicking Ass in Spandex: “Black Super Hero Magic Mama”

Ramona Lisa Alexander – Photo by Lauren Miller

Presented by Company One in collaboration with American Repertory Theater,
Boston Public Library, and Boston Comics in Color Festival
Written by Inda Craig-Galván 
Directed by Monica White Ndounou
Dramaturgy by Ilana M Brownstein and Regine Vital
Animation design & comics consultant: Cagen Luse
Fight choreography by Margaret Clark

April 23 – May 21, 2022
Rabb Hall @ Boston Public Library’s Central Branch
Copley Square
Boston, MA 
All tickets are Pay-What-You-Want ($0 minimum)

Recommended for ages 14 and up. This production contains depictions of police brutality, violence, death, grief, depression, and strong language.

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — The leads of Black Super Hero Magic Mama deserve a critic that looks like them. I look like the cops that are acquitted by juries that also look like me for killing unarmed Black men and women. There are more white critics than Black critics in New England. We need more Black critics in Boston. I strongly urge interested individuals to apply for The Porch’s Young Critics Program this winter and then to shoot me an email. 

Company One and American Repertory Theatre’s Black Super Hero Magic Mama shows us an unsettled Chicago. Sabrina Jackson (Ramona Lisa Alexander, who ran that stage like Pam Grier on a mission) is raising a bright young quiz show star Tramarion Jackson (Joshua Robinson). When Tramarion isn’t trouncing the competition on “Know Your Heritage” with Coach Corey Brackett (Ricardo Engermann), he’s writing comic books with his friend Joseph A Hughes aka Flat Joe (Anderson Stinson III). These two smart but mouthy kids have bright futures. That is until the worst happens. Continue reading

Apr 17

Stop Wasting Food: “BURGERZ”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written & performed by Travis Alabanza
Produced by Hackney Showroom
Directed by Sam Curtis Lindsay
Movement by Nando Messias
Dramaturgy by Nina Lyndon

April 13 – 23, 2022
Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theater
Boston, MA 
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Noe Kamelamela

Content warning:  gender-based violence and transphobia are discussed in this review and also in BURGERZ.

BOSTON, Mass. –In the time before the COVID pandemic started here in the States, the danger of being visibly queer felt risky and fun to me, heading to the strip mall eager to anger gender essentialists a bit like poking caged bears, a way to appease my past teenaged, quieter, closeted self. I was armed with keen attention to exits and entrances, always ready to leave. I would relate scenes to friends about children asking me what it was to be different.  Or people – rude people, very rude – being weird to me about what bathroom I went to, regardless of whatever I wore or which bathroom I used it was always wrong. Continue reading

Mar 19

I Need Your Hand on My Heart: “Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends”

Presented by ArtsEmerson and Sleeping Weasel
Written by Charlotte Meehan
Directed by Tara Brooke Watkins
Choreographed by Peter DiMuro
Videography by Lee Francois
Original composition “Alone Together” by Kirsten Volness

Live: March 12 – March 27, 2022
Streamed: April 1 – 10, 2022
Emerson Paramount Center
Jackie Liebergott Black Box
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends by Charlotte Meehan is about people. People are confusing, leaky, wonderful, breakable creatures capable of great love and harrowing despair. 

This play is also about disability. We are introduced to Meehan’s characters and their relationships, and then we learn about their relationships to Parkinson’s Disease. People with disabilities are human first so it is right that we learn the world of the play in this order. 

In Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends, three imperfect couples navigate their relationships. We watch them live with Parkinson’s Disease. The persons with PD are surviving. The caretakers are too. Survival means something different to each couple. We learn what survival means at the same time they do.  Continue reading

Mar 10

Geeks Review Books: “Boston Theatre Marathon XXIII: Special Zoom Edition Anthology”

Boston Theatre Marathon XXIII: Special Zoom Edition Anthology
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Edited by Kate Snodgrass, Artistic Director
Smith & Kraus, Inc
Softcover, 340 pages
ISBN: 9781575259611
Copyright 2021
$20.00
Purchase the Anthology 

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — Boston Theatre Marathon XXIII: Special Zoom Edition Anthology is the physical manifestation of the 23rd Annual Boston Theatre Marathon on Zoom. #BTMXXIIIelectricZOOMaloo 

The Boston Theatre Marathon was live and in-person until COVID-19 struck the Earth like a biblical pestilence. Years 2020 and 2021 were over Zoom. This anthology puts the magic and the mystery of 2021’s plays in one book.

From the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre website: “For more than two decades, the Boston Theater Marathon has brought together playwrights, directors, and theatre companies in an effort to foster collaboration between artists and producers.  Continue reading

Feb 21

Hidey-Ho Rangerinos: “Rx Machina”

Anastasia Olowin, Robyn Unger; Photo by Stratton McCrady.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre
By Caity-Shea Violette
Directed by Blair Cadden
Intimacy choreography by Jesse Hinson
COVID-19 Safety Management by Jay Eddy
Featuring: Anastasia Olowin, Robyn Unger, Lisa Tucker, Lila Heller, Isabel Van Natta
The digital program

February 17-27, 2022
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
BPT on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — Rx Machina by Caity-Shea Violette is one of two plays about addiction currently running in Boston. It’s no coincidence. COVID-19 has decimated our mental health. 

The modern human, when faced with a medical crisis and no affordable solutions, will turn to legal and illegal self-medicating. The CDC’s website says that the opioid epidemic is a public health crisis. The news, any channel, will confirm this statement.   Continue reading

Feb 19

Please Live Life to Its Fullest Responsibly: “People, Places & Things”


Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company 
Written by Duncan MacMillan
Directed by David R Gammons
Dramaturgy by Rulas A Muñoz

Feb. 11 – March 5, 2022
Audio Description – February 19 at 8pm and February 20 at 3pm
Open Captioning – March 3 at 2pm and 7:30pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CONTENT ADVISORY:  This production contains depictions of addiction and self-harm, discussions of sexual assault, an extended strobe light sequence, herbal cigarette smoke, and loud noises.

BOSTON — A friend once told me, despite the burden mental illness can present, that the brain is trying to help. The myriad painful symptoms I and many others experience as effects of mental illness are the brain’s way of facilitating, even normalizing the abnormalities of life. Sometimes, I’d rather it not. 

Just because the brain is trying to help, it doesn’t mean the brain is actually helping. It takes tremendous discipline to correct negative behaviors and toxic thoughts and to learn new ones. Failure is inevitable. If it takes a village to teach toxic patterns, it takes another village to reinforce positive ones. 

SpeakEasy Stage’s People, Places & Things running at the BCA is about addiction, mental health, the theatre, and identity. Emma (Marianna Bassham in a performance that will blow your mind) is in denial. She abuses drugs to cope with her performing career, her family, and the life that happens in-between. She’s on so many drugs when she collapses on stage during a production of The Seagull, it’s a miracle she isn’t dead already.  Continue reading

Feb 17

A COVID-19 Update: “Moving Forward: Too Soon to Talk About Post-Pandemic Life?”


Moving Forward: Too Soon to Talk About Post-Pandemic Life?
Presented by The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
ONLINE  — YOUTUBE RECORDING
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Facebook

Article by Afrikah Smith

ONLINE – With recent news of post-pandemic plans and mask mandates being lifted as early as April 2022 in California and New York, is it too soon to talk about a post-pandemic life in the Greater Boston area? With the trajectory of where we are heading, no. In fact, there is optimism that 2022 will be better.

Hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, GBCC President & CEO James Rooney moderated Moving Forward: Too Soon to Talk About Post-Pandemic Life?. The one-hour panel featured guest speakers Dr. Kevin Churchwell, Dr. Anne Klibanski, and Dr. Kevin Tabb, from Boston’s leading healthcare institutions, on what we can possibly expect in the very near future.  Continue reading

Feb 05

Lead Me On to the Light: “The Bluest Eye” at The Huntington

The cast in The Huntington’s production of The Bluest Eye by Lydia R. Diamond; Photo by T Charles Erickson.

Presented by The Huntington 
Based on the American classic novel by Toni Morrison
Written by Lydia R. Diamond
Directed by Awoye Timpo
Choreography by Kurt Douglas
Music direction by David Freeman Coleman
Original music by Justin Ellington 
Dramaturgy by Sandy Alexandre 
Intimacy direction by Ayshia Mackie-Stephenson

January 28 – March 13, 2022
Digital access available through March 27, 2022
ASL-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE: Friday, February 11 at 8pm.
OPEN CAPTIONED PERFORMANCE: Tuesday, February 15 at 7:30pm.
AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE: Saturday, February 26 at 2pm
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
The Huntington on Facebook

The Bluest Eye plays in approximately one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission.

Content warning: every kind of violence amidst a Black community

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Coming together in a circle to tell a story is essential to our humanity. That’s what we’re inviting the community into with The Bluest Eye.” – Director Awoye Timpo

Boston, MA — The synopsis for The Bluest Eye would have a newcomer believe that the play is about unattainable, western i.e. colonialist beauty standards. It is, but The Bluest Eye is about much more. 

Pecola Breedlove (Hadar Busia-Singleton) has come to stay with Claudia (Brittany-Laurelle) and Freida (Alexandria King). We learn through Claudia’s narration all about the Breedloves.  Mrs. Breedlove (McKenzie Frye, who tears the roof off in her role) and Mr. Cholly Breedlove (Greg Alverez Reid) are scarred from growing up in the Midwest. 

Through an examination of their stories, we come to understand Pecola and why she dreams of having blue eyes. Ramona Lisa Alexander,  Brian D. Coats and Lindsley Howard round out the cast. The cast is excellent together and individually in their own right.
Continue reading