Jun 15

The Normal Heart: “We must love one another or die”

Photo: Joan Marcus

The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer, The Golden Theatre, Broadway, 4/27/11-7/10/11. http://www.thenormalheartbroadway.com/. Winner of Tony Award for Best Revival, Best Featured Actress, and Best Featured Actor.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

WH Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939” (from which the title of the play is derived) states that “no one exists alone”. That statement reaches to the heart of the AIDS movement as we acknowledge the thirtieth anniversary of the first diagnosed case and continue to strive for full equality for every human being. Larry Kramer’s revolutionary play not only remains wholly relevant since its original production in 1985, but also challenges us to see that we have not gone far enough and there is still much work to be done. The cast shows that the only way we’re going to get through all the struggles is together. Continue reading

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May 10

PASSING STRANGE: More than ‘the real’

The cast of Passing Strange. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

 Passing Strange, book and lyrics by Stew, music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, New Repertory Theatre, The Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 5/1/11-5/22/11, http://newrep.org/passing_strange.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

New Repertory Theatre’s production of Passing Strange examines a classical theme in a post-modern construct–the quest for the meaning of life.  Like Candide and Pippin, the youth in Passing Strange leaves his familiar surroundings to find “the real” or the meaningful existence but finds only more illusion and more questions.  New Rep’s masterful presentation carries the audience along the journey, earnestly hoping the youth will find what he is looking for.

If New Repertory Theatre uses even half of the talent from Passing Strange for their fall production of Rent, they will have another hit on their hands.  The vibrant cast of Passing Strange electrifies the concert-style stage with their performances. Continue reading

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Apr 02

The Last Five Years: Tempestuous Love

(left to right) Aimee Doherty and Mark Linehan in The Last Five Years. Photo by Christopher McKenzie.

The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, New Repertory Theatre, 3/27/11-4/17/11, http://newrep.org/last_five.php.

by Becca Kidwell

Less than a week after Elizabeth Taylor’s death, what story could be more apropos than the tumultuous romance of  two artists?  Jason Robert Brown’s chamber musical about the conflict marriage and career examines the fallout of two people who meet in the middle but remain apart.  New Rep’s production of The Last Five Years delivers two masterful performances to a faulty libretto.

Aimee Doherty shows her versatility going Continue reading

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Jan 21

‘Full’ of Inspiration

R. Buckminster Fuller:  The History (and Mystery) of the Universe by DW Jacobs,  American Repertory Theater, 1/14/11-2/5/11. http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/r-buckminster-fuller-history-and-mystery-universe.

R. Buckminster Fuller: THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE. Performed by Thomas Derrah. Photo: Marcus Stern.

Warning: contains profound thoughts

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

When someone asks me what subjects I liked when I was in school, I always say “all except science, I HATE science.”  What I have learned over the past few years is that I have hated science because no one made it interesting for me.  R. Buckminster Fuller:  The History (and Mystery) of the Universe reminds me again that love of science and love of learning start with a person who engages, challenges, and pushes you to see the world in new ways.

The one-man show connects theories of science, philosophy, sociology, and sustainability to life.  Fuller comes to life in such a way that the audience feels that they are at a “real” lecture.  Thomas Derrah presents the same frenetic and contagious energy that was Bucky Fuller’s trademark.  He bounces and dances around as he explains his principles for improving “spaceship earth” and also questioning all of the norms that surround us.  Like Bucky, he uses any and all forms of media that are available to him to get his point across. Continue reading

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Nov 30

Love in the Moonlight

(front to back) Anne Gottlieb (Frankie) and Robert Pemberton (Johnny) in FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE. Photo by Christopher McKenzie.

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally, New Repertory Theatre, 11/28/10-12/19/10.  Nudity and Mature Themeshttp://newrep.org/frankie_johnny.php

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is a difficult play to stage.  The tight, witty, intelligent romance by Terrence McNally requires a comparable production that will not fall flat; New Repertory Theatre’s current production rises to the challenge.

A two-person play needs two strong actors.  Anne Gottlieb and Robert Pemberton deliver beyond expectations.  Not only are they strong individual actors, but they also thrive as a couple.   While Terrence McNally has said that the play is a “romantic fairytale”, the play would not hold an audience’s attention if it was not grounded in genuine, believable characters.  As Robert Pemberton speaks every line, his eyes reveal the sincerity of his heart.  Over the span of one night, Johnny’s profession of love could seem ludicrous, even threatening—except for the fact that this Johnny is truly sincere and truly loves Frankie.  Ann Gottlieb walks the delicate line between being fragile and resilient.  If she does not display strength, the character of Johnny would crush her; at the same time, the character of Frankie has been hurt and the vulnerability still has to be there to create the tension.  As Frankie, Gottlieb has found this balance so that the character can hold her own against Johnny, but still fear the pain of heartbreak.  Gottlieb and Pemberton completely draw the audience in to Frankie and Johnny’s struggle where one can’t help but fight with them for the connection to something that can last.  They ARE Frankie and Johnny—trying to be more than just a couple of “bodies bumping around in the night”. Continue reading

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