Feb 12

See the Movie First: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Book by Linda Woolverton
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice
Directed by Jane Staab
Music direction by Steven Bergman
Choreography by Laurel Conrad

Feb. 2 – March 4, 2018
Feb. 25 & March 2, ASL and audio-described
Wheelock College; Boston Campus
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA 02215
WFT on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” ― attributed to Margaret Atwood.

(Boston, MA) Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (DBatB) is beloved in all its forms. The 2017 film with Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Emma Thompson, and a vastly underutilized Audra McDonald, is a charming retelling with updates to make it more palatable for contemporary audiences. The 1994 musical adaptation of the 1991 film is not. The original Disney movie was notable for its strides in animation technology, but not for its intersectionally feminist portrayal of accepting others for their differences. Unfortunately for Wheelock Family Theatre, this problematic musical hasn’t received the update treatment. In some ways, it’s worse that the 1991 film. Continue reading

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Oct 30

Superfluous Songs, Sweet Spirit: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

Photo credit: Gary Ng; A History of PEI.

Script adapted by Don Harron
Score by Norman Campbell
Directed by Jane Staab

presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway
Boston, MA
October 19th – November 18th, 2012
Wheelock Family Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

The Anne of Green Gables franchise is prone to schmaltz. Any literary series that is adored by pre-teen girls, misty-eyed elderly women and Japanese soap opera anime fans can’t help but spin off some over-the-top theater. Few productions can find that young-at-heart sweet spot captured so perfectly by the series’ original creator L.M Montgomery. Anne, the orphan girl who shakes up Prince Edward
Island with her sentimental and vibrant perspective, is the tragic optimist in all of us. Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of the musical Anne of Green Gables largely succeeds in capturing the sweet spirit of the original tale with a strong cast that commits to looking at the world through the unjaded prism of youth. Continue reading

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Jan 30

A Well-Done Introduction to a Classic: THE WIZARD OF OZ

Katherine Leigh Doherty as Dorothy and ensemble in the Wheelock Family Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz. photo by Tony Paradiso.

The Wizard of Oz, By L. Frank Baum, music and lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company, based upon the Classic Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and disbuted in all media by Warner Bros, Wheelock Family Theatre, 1/27/12-2/26/12, http://www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org/feature-performance.aspx.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) If I hear one more mediocre stage actress imitate Judy Garland’s tortured delivery of Dorothy Gale from the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, I will buy the Wicked Witch of the West a poncho.  Inadequate productions of L. Frank Baum’s bizarre story often parrot the rampant overacting of the movie, with disastrous results.

Luckily, Wheelock Family Theatre director James P. Byrne and actress Katherine Leigh Doherty (Dorothy) set a fresh and nuanced tone to their production of The Wizard of Oz, rallying most of the cast to create characters that are both vibrant and familiar.  Continue reading

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Feb 20

THE SECRET GARDEN: A Magical Secret Worth Sharing

photo by Gary Ng

The Secret Garden, book and lyrics by Susan Kosoff, Music by Jane Staab, Wheelock Family Theatre, 1/28/11-2/27/11 (including weekday performances 2/22/11-2/25/11), http://www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org/feature-performance.aspx

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

As I was watching Wheelock’s production of The Secret Garden, I wished I was eight again (except for the horrible prospect of growing up again).  Wheelock Family Theatre is a magical place where dreams come alive, and this is particularly evident in their production of The Secret Garden.

One can’t help but be enchanted by the scenery by Matthew T. Lazure.  The garden wall rotates and reveals the inside of the garden, and Colin’s room appears from the walls of the seemingly impenetrable house.  Another clever aspect is the “growth” of the flowers during intermission; I put my head down for one minute–I look up and see leaves; I put my head down for another moment, look up and see flowers in full bloom. Continue reading

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