Feb 02

Almost Like Family: THE BEST BROTHERS

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Daniel MacIvor
Directed by Charles Towers

January 8 – February 1st, 2015
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Every time a member of one’s family dies, the remaining members of the family must re-form to create a unit, or split away and cease to be. This is an especially arduous task for two almost estranged brothers in The Best Brothers. They must resolve what they were to each other when the matriarch of the family was alive, and what they are to each other now that she is gone. Continue reading

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Jan 12

A Winsome Hot Mess: MIDSUMMER

Midsummergraphic5inPresented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
By David Greig & Gordon MacIntyre
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Music Direction & Sound Design by David Reiffel

December 26th – January 18th, 2014
189 Winnisimmet St
Chelsea, MA
Apollinaire on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Perhaps we’ve never puked at the front door of our sister’s wedding or stolen and spent a mobster’s money on one weekend, but the effervescent play MidSummer makes us wish we had.

Because this play lacks anything resembling pretension, David Greig and Gordon MacIntyre’s well-crafted script and Daniele Fauteux Jacques’ pitch-perfect staging makes us recognize the low notes and high notes of our lives in this 95-minute yarn. There is something surprisingly universal about the story of a low-rent con artist and a desperate divorce lawyer who are thrown together for a lost weekend that enables them to find themselves, if only in the telling. Continue reading

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Jan 02

Church Class Recovery: SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM – THE MYSTERY OF THE MAGI’S GOLD

Photo c/o Spectacle Management

Photo c/o Spectacle Management

Presented by Spectacle Management
Sister’s Christmas Catechism online
Written by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan
Directed by Marc Silvia

December 16 – 31, 2014
The Larcom Theatre
Beverly, MA
Spectacle Management on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) What is it about the simple black-and-white getup of the nun’s habit that makes its inhabitant seem so powerful? The nun has become a fixture in theatre and film because the costume demands attention. Continue reading

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Dec 08

Delightfully Off-Kilter: “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti”

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Book, Music and Lyrics by Barry Kleinbort
Based on a play by Jeffrey Hatcher

November 28 – December 21, 2014
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) It’s one thing to create a play that mimics the feeling of being trapped in a conversation with someone who is batty; it’s another to make such a play entertaining. As the play 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti demonstrates, the difference is all in the storytelling prowess of the off-putting character. Continue reading

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Nov 10

Floating Above the Fray: ETHER DOME

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Elizabeth Egloff
Directed by Michael Wilson

Oct. 17 – Nov. 23rd
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) The biopic or docudrama is a mainstay of the flatscreen and the silver screen, but it doesn’t get nearly as much play on stage. In theory, it should, as these types of stories appeal to those who want to learn something while they are being entertained, and that would seem to include the well-educated who can afford to go to the theatre on a regular basis. But even Shakespeare’s straight-up docudramas, the Henrys and such, don’t do as much business as Romeo and Juliet or Much Ado About Nothing. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Words vs. Action: DUSK RINGS A BELL

Pictured Todd Lawson and D'Arcy Dersham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Pictured Todd Lawson and D’Arcy Dersham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Stephen Belber
Directed by Michael Bloom

Oct. 23 – Nov. 16th, 2014
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Trigger warning: Contains Adult Language

(Lowell, MA) Which watershed moments in our lives define us, the ones where we rise above our fears or the ones where we give in to our basest nature? That’s the central question of the beautiful and flawed production of Dusk Rings a Bell, playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Continue reading

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Nov 04

Halloween Leftovers: CANNIBAL – THE MUSICAL

Photos Courtesy of Erik Fox

Photos Courtesy of Erik Fox. Trappers gotta trap.

Presented by Arts After Hours
Written by Trey Parker of South Park
Directed by Corey Jackson
Music Direction by Mario Cruz
Choreography by Nicole Spirito

October 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 29. 30 31, and November 1st at 8PM.
October 19, 26 at 3PM
LynnArts Rantoul Black Box
25 Exchange Street
Lynn, MA
Arts After Hours on Facebook

Review by

(Lynn, MA) When college academics look back at the body of work of Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park, I can only assume they will look at his early script for Cannibal – The Musical as a sign of his future potential. The script, which was a senior project while Parker was at the University of Colorado – Boulder, reads much like one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays”, with moments of brilliance, some car-crash-worthy attempts at brilliance, and a lot of head-scratching mediocrity. It presents a comedic challenge to any who attempt it. Arts After Hours embraces this challenge with enthusiasm, and hits many of the high-notes of comedy teed up by Parker, but misses a few others. Continue reading

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Oct 14

Jigsaw Transcendence: “Angels in America – Perestroika”

Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Presented by Umbrella Arts
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis

The Umbrella
Concord, MA
October 3 – October 18, 2014
Umbrella Arts on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Concord, MA) In 100 years, Tony Kushner’s sprawling masterpiece of Angels in America might be studied by school-kids, much like the Odyssey. That might be the right setting, providing a full semester to fully take in this script. Kushner asks us to follow along as he pinballs between real and surreal, politics and religion, gay culture and religion. Each well-developed scene feels like a glistening jewel of a short story, complete in pacing and characters, but it can be very hard to understand how these pieces come together into one cohesive story. If you’re watching the play for the first time, it can feel like reading a New Yorker magazine from cover to cover in one sitting. Continue reading

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Jul 15

Go Big or Go Home: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

The Cast. Photo found on It’s A Fiasco Facebook page.

It’s a Fiasco Theatre Company
by William Shakespeare
Sponsored by the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Council – presented under the auspices of the Actors’ Equity Association Member’s Project Code.

June 19 – 29, 2014
Longfellow Park, 175 Mt. Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA
It’s A Fiasco on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Think for a moment of the conditions under which Shakespeare was performed in the Elizabethan era and you realize this play was never meant to be locked away in an ivory tower. At the time the words of these plays were fresh, so was the concept of public sanitation. Most of the population was illiterate, and probably a good amount of them shared their skin with some form of vermin. Even in the hallowed halls of royal theater, the patrons probably stank to high heaven and air conditioning was a couple of centuries from being invented. So if at first glance it seems incongruous to speak some of the English language’s best poetry next to a Cambridge water park, it might be best to remember this probably would have been considered a pretty gentile staging grounds back in the day. Continue reading

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Jul 15

A Sinking Feeling: DISNEY’S A LITTLE MERMAID

Adrienne Eller as Ariel in North Shore Music Theatre's Production of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID running July 8 - 27, 2014. Photo©Paul Lyden

Adrienne Eller as Ariel in North Shore Music Theatre’s Production of Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID running July 8 – 27, 2014. Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Book by Doug Wright
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen Story and the Disney Film produced by Howard Ashman & John Musker and written & directed by John Musker and Ron Clements
Direction by Michael Heitzman
Music directed by Bruce Barnes
Choreography by AC Ciulla

July 8th – July 27th, 2014
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly) Whenever you are suspending disbelief, there are rules that must be followed to create a new reality. It doesn’t matter if you are writing Game of Thrones or playing make-believe with a 2-year-old, the ground rules, once established, have to be enforced or the whole thing falls apart.

That is perhaps the main reason why the musical version of Disney’s A Little Mermaid, playing at the North Shore Music Theatre, couldn’t hook either me or for my 8-year-old daughter. This show is largely aquatic, but director Michael Heitzman fails to create a sea for our imagination. Sometimes, the merpeople and fish hobble awkwardly in tight fin-like gear; other times, they use the same wires and pulleys to occupy the same air as the seagull. Merpeople aren’t allowed on land, until they are at the end of the play. Too often, they crossed the streams. Continue reading

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