Dec 23

One Big Deep Breath. Now: “Chicken & Biscuits”

Presented by Front Porch Arts Collective
In partnership with Suffolk University
Written by Douglas Lyons
Directed by Lyndsay Allyn Cox
Dramaturgy by Juliette Volpe
Fight/intimacy consultations by Ted Hewlett

Dec. 9, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023
Modern Theater
525 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02108

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — For centuries white people told the lie that the white experience is universal. Theatre is about universal stories, we white people said. If a story is truly universal, it can be played by any cast and be seen by anyone, and the intended message will still resonate. 

These days, it’s less about convincing producers that Black people can tell a story; it’s about convincing white people that they’ll appreciate a show created for someone else first, white people last. My fellow white people, if you can love Lizzo, an artist who has said to ETonline she makes music for the Black experience, you can love a play like The Porch’s Chicken & Biscuits

In St. Luke’s Church in New Haven, CT, sisters Baneatta Mabry (award-winning Boston actor Jacqui Parker) and Beverly Jenkins (Thomika Bridwell) are mourning the death of their father Bernard Jenkins. Reginald Mabry (Robert Cornelius) is leading the service for Bernard while being a supportive husband to Baneatta but the drama is flying too high for Reginald to catch up.  Continue reading

Dec 20

She Sets Fire to the Smell of Lemons: “OTP” at BPT

Blanca Isabella, Hampton Richards; Photo by Stratton McCrady.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston University New Play Initiative
Written by Elise Wien
Directed by Enzo Gonzales
Cultural consultant: Ciera-Sadé Wade
Intimacy coaching by Jess Scout Malone
Featuring: Hampton Richards, Blanca Isabella, Diego Cintròn, Dom Carter

December 8-18, 2022
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215

Content Advisory: This play contains mentions of suicide and depictions of self-harm.

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass — OTP is the acronym for One True Pairing, which identifies a person’s favorite fictional romantic relationship. In Wien’s OTP, now closed, best friends Michelle (Hampton Richards) and Ceci (Blanca Isabella) are co-writing a submission to Madame Tussaud’s “Melt Your Heart Out” fanfiction contest. 

Their fanfic features a teenage President Barack Obama (Diego Cintròn doing good accent work). Obama is the leader of the free world during the day and immortal stealer of hearts by night. Suspend your disbelief. OTP is worth it. 

All is well until their lives outside the fanfiction writing intrude on their work: Michelle is running for JSA President! Ceci is writing solo fanfic! Both girls learn that there is more to friendship than convenience and (relation)shipping the same world leader. Dom Carter stars as an uncannily familiar politician with amnesia whom Ceci must rescue from mutant foxes in apocalyptic Illinois.  Continue reading

Dec 07

Joy to the Sacred and the Ordinary: “Black Nativity”

Image from “Black Nativity” Facebook page.

Presented by The National Center of Afro-American Artists
https://blacknativity.org/
Executive Producer and Director: Voncille Ross
Choreographer: George Howard
Ballet Mistress: Desiree Springer
Choral Director, Children of Black Persuasion: Marilyn Andry
Choral Director, Voices of Black Persuasion: Milton L. Wright
Stage Manager: Brion-Michael Rock
Board of Directors – Margaret Burnham and Vivian Johnson, Co-Chairpersons, Kafi Meadows, Frances Bernat, Denzil D. McKenzie, Melissa Nobles, Amy Olatunji, Honorable Milton L. Wright

December 2 – 18, 2022, weekends, with matinees at 3:30 pm and evening shows at 8 pm
Robert J. Orchard Stage
Paramount Center
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111

Review by Craig Idlebrook

BOSTON, Mass — There are competing ideas in the narrative of the traditional Christian nativity story – that the son of God is born and that a young woman who is temporarily homeless gives birth to a child in a barn and the child is loved. One of the most profound aspects of Black Nativity, a long-running production of Langston Hughes’ holiday show, is that it deftly gives equal weight to both.

The poet Hughes, who wrote the book and utilized traditional Christmas carols for this musical, first staged Black Nativity off-Broadway in 1961. Less than a decade later, in 1969, the play was first performed in Boston. The Boston production has become a beloved, if sometimes overlooked, holiday tradition here for more than a half century, and taking part in the cast has become an intergenerational endeavor for some Black families in the area. Continue reading

Dec 06

Losing the Heartbeat: “Little Women: The Broadway Musical”

Photo by Nile Scott Studios

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott
Book by Allan Knee
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Music by Jason Howland
Directed & Choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
Music Direction by Matthew Stern

November 25 – December 23, 2022
Greater Boston Stage Company
Stoneham, MA

Review by Kate Lew Idlebrook

Stoneham, Mass — As producers mine history for intellectual property that can be spun into gold, especially those that are in the public domain, they can sometimes lose sight of what makes a classic a classic.

Unfortunately, this was the case with Little Women: The Broadway Musical. In the original story, Luisa May Alcott created a world full of wonderfully full, relatable characters. She allowed her characters to speak for themselves and trusted her readers to hear the message. I only wish the Greater Boston Stage Company’s production of this play had the space to do the same. Continue reading

Nov 18

Safe But Not Sorry*: “The Play That Goes Wrong”

Photo by Mark. S. Howard.

Presented by Lyric Stage Company of Boston 
By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields
Directed by Fred Sullivan, Jr.
Stunt Coordinator/Fight Captain: Michael Liebhauser
Scenic Design by Peter Colao
Run Crew: Hazel Peters, Talene Pogherian
Featuring Kelby T. Akin, Alexa Cadete, Nora Eschenheimer, Dan Garcia,
Mitch Kiliulis, Michael Liebhauser, Marc Alexander Pierre, and Dan Whelton. Understudies: Margaret Clark, Patrick French, and Matt C. Ryan.

November 11 – December 18, 2022
Lyric Stage Co.
140 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116

Approximately two hours, including one intermission.
This production uses strobe lighting and fog effects. There is one live simulated gunshot in Act 2.

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” — G. K. Chesterton

BOSTON, Mass — Chesterton was a Christian philosopher who argued, with this statement, that most things are done by novices who do those things imperfectly. This Chesterton saying goes along with the Voltaire-attributed aphorism, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” 

Neither Chesterton nor Voltaire was responsible for a cast of accident-prone actors or an elaborate set determined by fate to destroy itself on opening night. Not even Voltaire, the paragon of eighteenth-century French amateur and society theatre, could have imagined The Play That Goes Wrong.  Continue reading

Dec 29

You Don’t Have to Understand Your Queer Family to Love Your Queer Family: “The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge”

Rehearsal for “The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge.” Photo by Meghan Moore/Megpix

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Trista Baldwin
Directed by Courtney Sale
Cast: Kristian Espiritu, Karen MacDonald, Eliza Simpson, Milicent Wright

Now – January 4, 2022
Video on Demand via Mandolin.com
MRT Playbill 
MRT on Facebook

Age Recommendation: 14 and older. Some adult content/language.

Review by Kitty Drexel

Video-On-Demand — The copious productions of The Christmas Carol that come around every year are for mainstream Christmas celebrators. The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge is a Christmas production for the rest of us. It’s intersectionality feminist. It passes the Bechdel Test. It’s under two hours, and you can drink rum-nog the entire time from your own home. Cheers! 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house… Carol (New England darling Karen MacDonald) was stirring because her daughter Holly (Kristian Espiritu) was finally coming home to Brockton, Mass.! This year Holly is bringing her special friend Jordan (Eliza Martin Simpson). Worlds, politics, and identities collide when Holly reveals to Carol that Jordan is more than just her Jewish, progressive liberal friend from Portland.

Milicent Wright plays the online Zumba cueing, comestible baking, excellent listener and BFF neighbor Chris. I would take Zumba class with Chris/Millicent any day. She seems fun.  Continue reading

Dec 21

A Bougie Meh: “Imagine Van Gogh”

Queen Geek’s own photo from the event.

Imagine Van Gogh
The original immersive exhibition in Image Totale© 
Annabelle Mauger & Julien Baron, Artistic Directors and creators
Curated by Androula Michael
Scenography by Annabelle Mauger & Julien Baron
Animation and effects by Julien Baron & Donatien Zébi
Translations by Sarah Jackson
Musical research by Gérard Thouret

December 21, 2021 to March 19, 2022.
December 2021 – March 2022
Open Daily 10 am – 9 pm
SoWa Power Station
550 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA
Info for Boston Attendees

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — I tried not to have expectations entering Imagine Van Gogh

Without intending to, I expected Imagine Van Gogh to be like Yayoi Kusama’s “Love Is Calling” which ran at the ICA. Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms is immersive and kaleidoscopic. Imagine Van Gogh is also immersive. Van Gogh’s paintings are magnified and set to the music of classical artists Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Bach, Delibes and Satie. It makes Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings accessible to an audience that can pay the ticket price. Continue reading

Dec 17

Messing with Your Algorithm or Not Your Daddy’s Inspiration Porn: “Teenage Dick”


Presented by The Huntington
Produced in association with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Pasadena Playhouse
Written by Mike Lew
Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
Assistant direction and movement coordination by Ashleigh King
Choreography by Jennifer Weber
Fight choreography by Robb Hunter

December 3 – January 2, 2022
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
The Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Content warning: Disabled people exist everywhere 24/7. If this play “expands your world,” you should know that’s ableist, and it’s really not about you.

BOSTON — This one time, in the Before Times, I was taking an ashtanga-style yoga class, and a random woman told me I was “inspirational.” I was dripping in sweat after having performed 60-minutes of intermediate poses with only one arm, and a brunette Karen in Athleta and Lululemon compression wear decided it was super important to tell me that I inspired her. She didn’t say what I inspired her to do, just that I was “inspirational.” 

I wish I could say that I told the Karing Karen she inspired me to vomit a little in my mouth, but I was too shocked to say much of anything. I picked up my mat, and I skedaddled out of the studio to fume inspirationally in peace.

This horse can’t even do yoga.

I live with brachial plexus palsy, a permanent paralysis of my left arm from my shoulder through my fingers. (Coincidentally, it’s also the sexiest of the palsies.) Sometimes complete strangers find my ability to do completely normal, everyday things Inspirational. Showing up to yoga is difficult for everyone, Karen. 

Abled people have a nasty habit of deriving inspiration from the inabilities of disabled people. We aren’t inspirational just because you find relief from not being disabled. Your inability to see us as people with lives is a You problem. As Buck says in Teenage Dick now at The Huntington, “Please don’t involve me.” Continue reading

Dec 16

The WASPs are Not OK: “Incels and Other Myths”

Photo by Stratton McCrady: Matthew Swain, Julien Tornelli, Fady Demian.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre 
Written By Ally Sass
Directed by Erica Terpening-Romeo
A BU New Play initiative production
Produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre

December 2-12, 2021
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
BPT on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

BOSTON — Incels and Other Myths invites the audience into the world of massive multiplayer online gaming and the Lord of the Flies corners of the internet, where misogyny has even less consequences than in the physical world. Elaine (Allison Blaize), a mythology teacher at an all-girls high school, and her precocious but awkward son Avery (Aidan Close) play the historical fantasy game, “Oracle.” In “Oracle,” they try on highly gendered, performative personas and encounter friends and monsters that help them get in touch with integral parts of themselves they couldn’t face in real life. Continue reading

Dec 15

No Room at the Inn: “Witness”

WITNESS: A new virtual documentary theater piece

A screen capture of the online platform.

Presented by Arlekin Players’ (Zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab
Conceived and directed by Igor Golyak
Written by Nana Grinstein with Blair Cadden & Igor Golyak
Scenography & Costume Design by Anna Fedorova
Virtual Design by Daniel Cormino
Sound Design by Viktor Semenov
Produced by Sara Stackhouse
Dramaturgy by Blair Cadden 
Featuring the Arlekin Acting Company

December 10, 2021 – January 23, 2023
Over the Arlekin (zero-G) virtual Theater Lab platform
and Zoom
Arlekin Players on Facebook
Playbill

Review by Kitty Drexel

“It doesn’t feel virtual; it feels real.” 

– Talkback moderator Inessa Rifkin, a founder of the Russian Jewish Community Foundation and a founder of the Russian School of Mathematics, after the December 13 performance of Witness.  

ONLINE/Zoom  — It’s almost Yule! Here’s a Christmas story: In May 1939, the MS St. Louis carried 937 passengers from Nazi-occupied Germany to Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government refused the ship. Its passengers remained onboard; the ship didn’t dock. Cuba had cancelled the immigration papers of the onboard immigrants without notifying them. 

The United States refused the ship too. The US had space to put the passengers but our politicians let money and immigration law stop them from welcoming the passengers. We made a 1976 secular movie about it called “Voyage of the Damned” with Faye Dunaway. How American of us. 

The Jewish passengers were finally allowed some succor when the ship returned to Europe that June.  254 of the passengers died in the Holocaust: 84 in Belgium; 84 in Holland, and 86 in France. There was no room at the inn or the stable with Mary and Joseph. 

Witness by Arlenkin Players is about the fluffy talent show that the passengers held to boost morale. Local New Englanders who are also immigrants play passengers on the boat. It’s about the stark tragedy that our country, a nation that says it welcomes immigrants at its front door on the East Coast, decided that Jewish immigrants fleeing for their very lives should go elsewhere. Popup text boxes invite us to learn about who the passengers were and if they survived the ship. It’s about the multigenerational fight against anti-Semitism in the US. The Arlekin Acting Company portrays Jewish characters from across the decades. Continue reading