Aug 28

Gonzo Greatness: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

Tommy Labanaris (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein) and Brian Padgett (The Monster). Photos © Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and lyrics by Mel Brooks
Original Direction & Choreography by Susan Stroman
Direction and choreography by Kevin P. Hill
Musical direction by Milton Granger

August 15-27, 2017
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) Sometimes, you know you’re in for a great night of theater with the very first line of a play; with Young Frankenstein, playing at the North Shore Music Theatre, you know it before the play even starts. Even the pre-play announcements and opening credits, told by a disembodied voice and projected onto a grey shroud, suck you into the campy, spooky, sexy world that Mel Brooks creates. Continue reading

Jul 03

Please, Make the Music Stop: THE MUSIC MAN

Photo by Paul Lyden.

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey
Music by Meredith Willson
Direction by Bob Richard
Music direction by Milton Granger
Choreography by Diane Laurenson

June 6 – June 18, 2017
North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) Sometimes, a play gets to an awkward age where it needs to be taken out of circulation for a while so it can age properly and can come back as a nostalgic piece. The Music Man, which was performed recently  at the North Shore Music Theatre, is one of those plays. In the age of Trump, this play’s racist and rape-culture overtones hit too close to home to be enjoyable. Continue reading

Feb 03

Almost There! “The Making of a Great Moment”

Photo by Meghan Moore; Danny Scheie and Aysan Celik

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Directed by Sean Daniels

January 4 – 29, 2017
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) At any point in the year, there are dozens of small theatrical troupes of two or three actors crisscrossing the country to perform at schools or community centers. They perform plays you have never heard of in places you’ve never heard of, and the only way they do their job is to take the absurd situation they find themselves in seriously. Continue reading

Dec 12

A Ted Williams After-School Special: “Going to See the Kid”

Joel Colodner, Veronika Duerr, John Gregorio. Going to See the Kid. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Joel Colodner, Veronika Duerr, John Gregorio. “Going to See the Kid.” Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Steven Drukman
Directed by Alexander Greenfield

November 30th – December 24th, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Sometimes, you get the sense in the opening minutes that a play is going to be so bad that you steal yourself to feel sorry for the actors. It is a testament to the professionalism of director Alexander Greenfield and the cast of Going to See the Kid that I didn’t cringe much for them onstage as they crisply worked with the material they had, but the script was just as cringe-worthy as I had feared. Continue reading

Nov 11

Scarily Relevant Once More: WEST SIDE STORY

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA
November 1- 20, 2016
NSMT on Facebook

BOOK BY: Arthur Laurents
MUSIC BY: Leonard Bernstein
LYRICS BY: Stephen Sondheim
Director: Bob Richard
Music Director: Milton Granger
Choreographer: Diane Laurenson
Based on Conception of Jerome Robbins
Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) How quaint – working class whites and Hispanics fighting for control of a few city blocks. West Side Story is a fun period piece hearkening back to a time when institutionalized racism was the norm and …
Continue reading

Nov 11

The Church is the Thing: HAMLET

Photo by Nile Scott Shots; Marianna Bassham and Ross MacDonald.

Photo by Nile Scott Shots; Marianna Bassham and Ross MacDonald.

Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Doug Lockwood

October 5 – November 6, 2016
Church of the Covenant
Boston, MA
ASP on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) Hamlet is often seen as a humanist play, one where the lead character, instead of taking much of any action, spends much of his time pondering the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Continue reading

Nov 02

Shakespeare…with Zombies: “Twelfth Night of the Living Dead”

Photo courtesy of Anthem's Facebook page

Photo courtesy of Anthem’s Facebook page

Presented by Anthem Theatre Company
Based on the work by William Shakespeare
Script by Brian MacInnis Smallwood
Directed by Bryn Boice

October 27 – November 5, 2016
Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Anthem on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) I’m going to make a case for why Twelfth Night of the Living Dead, a mashup of Shakespeare and zombie movies, rises above its original source material. And I’m making this case post-Halloween, so I’m not gripped with Salem festival-like fever. Continue reading

Oct 17

Sympathy for the Sinner: ABIGAIL/1702

Photo by Meghan Moore; Rachel Napoleon and Jon Kovach.

Photo by Meghan Moore; Rachel Napoleon and Jon Kovach.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Script by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Tlaloc Rivas

October 12 – November 6, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Ever notice that there aren’t many Academy Awards won for performances given in horror films? This might be because such scripts require a form of acting gymnastics – extreme emotion in some moments and the ability to deliver silly-sounding lines with a straight face in others. Continue reading

Sep 26

Trump Might Not be the Worst*: 45 PLAYS FOR 45 PRESIDENTS

Terrell Donnell Sledge starts off the show as George Washington. Photo by Meghan Moore;

Terrell Donnell Sledge starts off the show as George Washington. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg
Directed by Sean Daniels

September 7 – October 2, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Do you know that dull portrait of all the U.S. presidents that’s on the inside binding of high school history textbooks? Mix it with an episode of Game of Thrones and an episode of Who’s Line is it Anyway?, and you have 45 Plays For 45 Presidents. Continue reading

Jul 27

Saving Mr. and Mrs. Banks: MARY POPPINS – THE MUSICAL

Kerry Conte (Mary Poppins) with Scarlett Keene-Connole (Jane Banks) and Jake Ryan Flynn (Michael Banks), Photo © Paul Lyden.

Kerry Conte (Mary Poppins) with Scarlett Keene-Connole (Jane Banks) and Jake Ryan Flynn (Michael Banks), Photo © Paul Lyden.

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Book by Julian Fellows
Original and lyrics by Richard Sherman & Robert Sherman
New materials by Anthony Drewe & George Stiles
Co-created by Cameron Mackintosh
A Musical based on the stories of P.L. Travers & the Walt Disney Film
Directed and choreographed by Kevin P. Hill
Music direction by Milton Granger

July 12 – July 31, 2016
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA 01915
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) It’s hard to tinker with a musical movie that many consider practically perfect in every way, but when there’s money to be made, many a scriptwriter will try. Mary Poppins – The Musical is more successful than most Disney rehashes at adding some new touches to a classic plot and score, even if the finished product feels a bit overlong, and the North Shore Music Theatre production of this spectacle does a solid job staging this spectacle. Continue reading