Jan 26

Caregiver Vents and Mourns in “Mala”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company and ArtsEmerson
Written and performed by Melinda Lopez
Directed by David Dower

Jan. 6 – Feb. 4, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “Dying doesn’t make you wise,” says Melinda Lopez, describing the death of her tough, stubborn mother. “Dying doesn’t make you generous.” The words could serve as the thesis of Mala, a story of a loyal daughter processing guilt and bitterness over the death of her elderly parents. Baked into the subject matter is a grim but gentle humor, one that picks at the coat of polish usually applied to recollections of the grieving process. Lopez’s pain, here, is visceral and true, not some softly lit movie set. Continue reading

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Jan 25

Subvert Everything; 1 Critique and 1 Op-Ed: “Proof”

Photo: Forden Photography. Design: Bird Graphics; Featuring Michael Tow & Lisa Nguyen.

Presented by the Nora Theatre Company
Written by David Auburn
Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon

Jan. 18 – Feb. 18, 2018
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Introduction: Below are two pieces in response to The Nora Theatre’s production currently playing at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA. First is my critique of the production. The second is an opinionated response from fellow Geek Noelani Kamelamela. I asked Noelani to write a response to the production because representation is important. Three out of four cast members of Proof are Asian-American. This is significant because David Auburn didn’t factor race into his writing process. This means white was his default. No one gets extra credit for treating people of color like human beings. The Nora does get kudos for subverting the racial paradigm.

Review by Kitty Drexel

“In a good proof there is a very high degree of unexpectedness, combined with inevitability and economy. The argument takes so odd and surprising a form; the weapons used seems so childishly simple when compared with the far-reaching consequences; but there is no escape from the conclusions.”  – G.H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology

(Cambridge, MA) The stigma around mental illness remains sharp. The Nora Theatre’s production of Proof doesn’t tackle this stigma so much as wait until the audience is pliable and then viciously assault it. It isn’t gentle but it is effective.   Continue reading

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Jan 23

A Pleasant Romcom: “Shakespeare in Love”

Shakespeare at Viola’s feet. Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co.
Based on the screenplay by Mac Norman & Tom Stoppard
Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall
Directed by Scott Edmiston
Original music/music direction/sound design by David Reiffel
Choreography/period movement by Judith Chaffee
Fight direction by Ted Hewlett

Jan. 12 – Feb. 10, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) SpeakEasy’s production of Shakespeare in Love is okay. People who loved the movie will get a lot out of attending. Anyone expecting a revelatory experience from their theatre will be disappointed. Aside from the lighting design by Karen Perlow (which made Jennifer Ellis look like a gilded angel floating down from Heaven, and the set look like a theatre in a night forest) and the compositions by David Reiffel, this production is good but unremarkable.    Continue reading

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Jan 19

More Drama than a Bender in Manch-Vegas: “Lost Girls”

Presented by Take Your Pick Productions (and the Bob Jolly Charitable Trust)
By John Pollono
Directed by Melanie Garber-Letitia

Jan. 12 – 21, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts (Deane Hall)
Boston, MA
TYPP’s Lost Girls on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Lost Girls brought back memories I’d nearly forgotten about growing up in northern New Hampshire. I went to school with kids whose parents worked the register at the one Dunkin’s as their main source of income. My uncle is a Tea Party politician (we don’t talk to him). New Hampshire is deeply conservative place whose inhabitants honor their motto, “live free or die.” Alas, “living free” is usually expressed by making rash, uninformed choices in the name of freedom. Watching this play was a painful albeit nostalgic reminder of home. Continue reading

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Feb 03

Pretty is Not an Even Exchange for Powerful : REALLY

Rachel Cognata in REALLY (Photo by Jeremy Fraga)

Presented by Company One Theatre
With Matter & Light Fine Art, SoWa
With support from Gallery Kayafas
Written by Jackie Sibblies Drury
Directed by Shawn LaCount
Dramaturgy by Ilana M Brownstein and Francisca De Silviera

January 25 – March 12, 2017
63 Thayer St
Boston, MA 02118
C1 on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(SoWa,Boston, MA) Subscribers to American Theatre Magazine will recognize Really from its September 2016 issue. I was excited at the chance to see Company One perform a play I’d only read before. C1 did not disappoint. Still, I had more questions after seeing the show than I did after reading it. Continue reading

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Feb 02

Boston Arts Academy’s “The Wiz” Finds a Place to Call Home

Dorothy, portrayed by Kamiya Parkin; Photo credit Ella Snyder

Presented by Boston Arts Academy
Book by William F. Brown
Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls
Adapted From “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Directed by Maura Tighe
Musical Direction by Tyrone Sutton
Choreography by William McLaughlin

January 26-28, 2017
The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Road
Dorchester, MA 02125

Review by Travis Manni

(Dorchester, MA) In a world where the future of the arts is unclear, and many would like to be transported from reality for a while, it is refreshing to see the next generation of artists from Boston Arts Academy not only take pride in their art, but convey a powerful message of pride in one’s roots. In BAA’s production of The Wiz, I was blown away at the maturity and emotional depth that a group of young adults still in high school not only understood, but also was able to convey to the audience. Continue reading

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Jan 31

Dance Across the Picket Line: BILLY ELLIOT

Photo by Glenn Cook Photography; on the way to boxing class.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Book & lyrics by Lee Hall
Music by Elton John
Orchestrations by Martin Koch
Based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film Billy Elliot
Directed by Susan Kosoff
Originally directed by Stephen Daldry
Music direction by Jon Goldberg
Choreographed by Laurel Conrad
Sign Performances by Luke Baer, Alvin Haas, Ali Schmalenberger
Audio descriptions by Cori Couture, Ruth Celia Kahn

Jan. 27 – Feb. 26, 2017
ASL performances on Fri, Feb 24 @ 7:30, & Sun, Feb 26, @ 3
All performances are open captioned
The theatre is wheelchair accessible
Wheelock College
200 Riverway
Boston, MA
Wheelock on Facebook

Recommended for ages 8+ for mild violence, occasional references to sexy times by children who don’t understand what they are saying, and English cursing.  

Review by Kitty Drexel

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”
– Winston Churchill (that other quote attributed to Churchill is not something he actually said.)

(Boston, MA) Wheelock does great work with Billy Elliot:The Musical. The 2000 source movie Billy Elliot, is a sweet and rough story about a working class boy who becomes enchanted with dance while his widower father, and brother are caught up in the coal miners’ strike. They are more worried that Billy might be gay, than they are in monitoring Billy’s daytime whereabouts. The musical, based on the movie, incorporates many points of the movie’s plot. The big distinction is the musical’s Disney-fication. Alter expectations accordingly.    Continue reading

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Jan 31

“The Princess and the Pea”: A Fairytale Political Drama

“Three Plot Twists”: Sarah J. Mann as Prince Percy, James Sims as Mick Motley, Matthew Woods as Captain Brightside; photo credit: imaginary beasts.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Written by The Ensemble
Based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen
Directed by Matthew Woods

January 14 – February 4, 2017
Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
Boston, MA 02116
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) In this uncertain and tumultuous political climate, the arts are a fantastic medium to fight back. While this often applies to theatre, I must admit I was surprised that imaginary beasts’ production of The Princess and the Pea used the kid’s show to make a mockery of our current state of affairs. But it was effing brilliant. Continue reading

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Jan 24

Playing with Fate in “Intimate Exchanges”

Sarah Elizabeth Bedard and Jade Ziane. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
Written by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio

January 12-February 12, 2017
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Central Square Theatre on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Cambridge, MA) There truly is nothing like the unique experience of theatre. And in Alan Ayckbourn’s Intimate Exchanges, the audience is presented with a choose-your-own-adventure in which no performance is ever identical to the one before. Continue reading

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Jan 23

Complaining Grows the Heart: OUR SECRETS

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Co-presentation with: The Baryshnikov Arts Center and Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center
Created by Béla Pintér and Company
Directed and written by Béla Pintér

Jan. 19-22, 2017
Emerson/Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Performed in Hungarian with English supertitles

Review by Noe Kamelamela and Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAIt is 1980’s Budapest. Communism is the rule of the land (more on this important info is HERE, thanks to the ArtsEmerson blog). Impotent folk musician, István Balla Bán can only get it up for children. He is inconveniently attracted to his step-daughter Timike. At his wife’s request, he sees a therapist to whom he reveals his disgusting secrets. Govt. spies secret record his admission and use the recording to blackmail him. To avoid responsibility for his illness, István spies on his friend who writes an underground, anti-Communist magazine.  Please note, the graphic sexual content in this production involves adult actors playing minors. It is appropriately disturbing. Continue reading

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