Jan 26

No More Love on the Run*: Purcell’s THE INDIAN QUEEN

Purcell Queen

presented by the Handel and Haydn Society
Harry Christophers, Artist Director
Aisslinn Nosky, Concert Master
John Finney, Chorusmaster

January 25 & 27, 2013
Jordan Hall & Sanders Theatre
Boston, MA
Handel and Haydn Facebook Page

There are some culture-lovers reluctant to attend an evening of opera. Some fear pomp and stuffiness; others fear boredom. These fears encumber the uninitiated with false bias against the excellence that only classical music can convey. H&H’s performance of The Indian Queen was entirely lacking in snobbery and the program notes were jam packed with enough historical trivia to entertain a fidgety toddler. The music of Purcell was warm and gentle. It wrapped around the audience like an electric Snuggie; a balm for the bitter winter chill.   Continue reading

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Jan 24

“At the Mountaintop” Delivers Unexpected, Unwelcome Twist

Presented by Underground Railway Theater

Presented by Underground Railway Theater

Produced by Underground Railway Theater

By Katori Hall
directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian

January 10 – February 3, 2013
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Central Square Theater Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) Sometimes, there’s a moment in a show that can make or break it. When that moment comes, the audience will divide accordingly. Maybe this turn is cheesy, too scary, or just a little off-kilter with the rest of the story. When it happens in At the Mountaintop, and the audience will know when it does, it redefines the sort of narrative being watched. The show starts out smart but softens into a peculiar if interesting mess.

Katori Hall’s two-man play concerns the late and well-loved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Maurice Emmanuel Parent) and his conversations with a hotel maid, Camae (Kami Rushell Smith). Like A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher, performed by The Salem Theatre Company last year, Central Square Theater’s At the Mountaintop concerns two personalities bouncing off each other in a contained space. Also like A Picasso, one happens to be famous and respected while the other, an intrigued woman, has slipped
through the cracks of history. Continue reading

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Jan 22

LO-FI LOWDOWN: A Double Bill of Epic Old-timey Proportions

LO-FI LOWDOWN
COMES TO OBERON FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY

Pictured: Tanya O’Debra Photo credit: Molly Peck

Pictured: Tanya O’Debra, her make-up is flawless. Photo credit: Molly Peck.

ACT ONE: JAZZ NOIR, BY BREMNER DUTHIE
ACT TWO: RADIO STAR, BY TANYA O’DEBRA
JANUARY 27TH @ 7PM

Lo-Fi Lowdown Facebook Page

 Cambridge, MA: The Boston premiere of Lo-Fi Lowdown, a double bill of epic old-timey proportions, comes to Oberon (2 Arrow Street Cambridge, MA) for one night only. This 1940’s themed cabaret/radio show plays on Sunday, January 27th at 7pm. Tickets ($18) are available at the door and online.

Act One: Jazz Noir, by Bremner Duthie
Bremner sings songs from the era of Film Noir. Songs from the dangerous night on the dark side of the street, like a burst of passion on a lazy afternoon, leaving violence in their wake.

Act Two: RADIO STAR, by Tanya O’Debra
Directed by Peter James Cook
Original Music by Andrew Mauriello
Boston native cum NYC comedienne Tanya O’Debra brings her award winning play, Radio Star, to Oberon for her first hometown show.

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Jan 21

“Once” from Theater Communications Group

"Once" by Enda Walsh

“Once” by Enda Walsh

Once by Enda Walsh
Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Theater Communications Group (TCG)
January 2012
$13.95
520 Eighth Ave, 24th Floor
New York, New York 10018
www.tcg.org

This volume includes the book and lyrics but not the score. It includes a brief foreword by writer Enda Walsh about the workshop process in a church basement in Cambridge, MA.

The story revolves around an Irish man, “Guy,” who has almost given up on life, love and music. He is given new perspective by a passionate and sweet Czech woman, “Girl,” a single mother and music enthusiast. Together these unrequited lovers set on a course for life affirming change and success while renewing their faith in the power of creation and love. Continue reading

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Jan 21

Good, Right, True: “Legend of Sleepy Hollow: An American Pantomime”

Imaginary Beasts 2013

Imaginary Beasts 2013; no horses were used in this production. They gave full consent.

presented by Imaginary Beasts: Winter Panto 2013
Part of the Emerging Theatre Company program

Conceived and written by Matthew Woods and the Ensemble

Directed by Matthew Woods
Choreography by Joey Pelletier and Kiki Samko

January 11 – February 2, 2013
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Imaginary Beasts Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) The pantomime (panto) began its troubled youth as British entertainment based on the Elizabethan masque. It touched on classical subjects, included music and often borrowed from the Commedia dell’Arte style. These days, if one travels to jolly olde England during the Christmas and New Year’s season, one is confronted with vaudeville debauchery, bedazzled drag queens, slapstick and heaps of audience participation. It’s amazing that the US hasn’t already adopted the Panto and claimed it as our own invention. Enter Legend of Sleepy Hollow: An American Pantomime.

The form has been simplified and adapted for the small stage by Imaginary Beasts and contains the same wacky charm as its British cousin and more of the brash sassiness expected from the fringe theatre scene. We’re treated to country line dancing, Rocky references, and an extra hairy Fairy Godfather (Mikey DiLoreto) who speaks in rhyme and verse but not to a multimedia spectacular. The charm is in the ensemble’s work and it is served with campy flair. Continue reading

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Jan 20

Lithgow Survives a Train-wreck: THE MAGISTRATE

John Lithgow (Aeneas Posket) and Dandies. Photo by Johan Persson

John Lithgow (Aeneas Posket) and Dandies. Photo by Johan Persson

Simulcast at the Coolidge Corner Theatre
Presented by the National Theatre in London

by Arthur Wing Pinero
directed by Timothy Sheader
lyrics by Richard Stilgoe
music by Richard Sisson
choreography by Liam Steel

Brookline, MA
January 17th and February 3rd, 2013

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Brookline) I defy you to dislike John Lithgow on stage or film. The veteran actor has had one of the most vibrant careers in film, staring in everything from the campy 80’s classic the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension to the bloody television show Dexter. While Lithgow has amazing acting chops, much of his allure is that he appears to thoroughly enjoy himself in every role, showing the same joy as a child might upon getting his first role in a school production. His joy for acting can sometimes get in the way of his more miserable roles, but it’s impossible not to enjoy watching; his character may be dying of Alzheimer’s in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but Lithgow still seems to be having the time of his life doing so.

It is Lithgow’s ability to have fun while acting that is the only fun thing worth watching in the Simulcast production of The Magistrate, beamed from the National Theatre in London. This unfunny comedy is a testament that a play can be terrible even though it’s English and based on an antique script. John Lithgow is Posket, the judge in question, an honest man who marries into a family that harbors one little secret that will upend their sense of decency. His wife, Agatha (Nancy Carroll), lied about her age when they first met, and her lie shaved five years off the age of her son from a previous marriage, as well. Everyone thinks the youth, Cis (Joshua McGuire), is a precocious 14-year old, including himself, but he actually is a normal and randy young adult. Hilarity is supposed to ensue as this secret is in danger of being revealed, but hilarity doesn’t. Continue reading

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Jan 20

Wistful Grief: SHAKESPEARE’S WILL

 

Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway. Photo by Meghan Moore

Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway. Photo by Meghan Moore

by Vern Thiessen
Directed by Miles Potter
Composed by Marc Desormeaux

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre

50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, Massachusetts 01852
January 10th – February 3rd, 2012
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) William Shakespeare may have done more than any writer of his time to examine both internal and external human drama, but he ducked the fight when it came to his own family; so goes the premise of Shakespeare’s Will, the taut and layered production now playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. The Bard may get the headlines in the play’s title, but it is his absence that is the singular event that shapes the life of his wife, Anne Hathaway, who is the only character in this beautifully lonely one-woman play. Through the brave performance of Seanna McKenna, we are reminded that even in the shadow of greatness the drama of everyday is enough to create volumes of literature. Continue reading

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Jan 16

“Other Desert Cities”: Facades Collide With Reality

Photo caption: Anne Gottlieb and Christopher M. Smith in a scene from SpeakEasy Stage's production of Other DesertCities, running January 11 through February 9 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Tickets at speakeasystage.com or 617.933.8600. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Photo caption: Anne Gottlieb and Christopher M. Smith, Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

By Jon Robin Baitz
Directed by Scott Edmiston

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
January 11 – February 9
Wimberly Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Speakeasy Stage Co Facebook Page

Review by Becca Kidwell

(Boston) At a time when nostalgia for the eighties is heightening (neon, rubber bracelets, leg warmers,
cut off tees), Jon Robin Baitz reminds us that our recent past was neither as lavish or simple
as we would like to contain it. As the last of the Reaganite politicians cling desperately to
the “grand old party,” gen-xers (like myself) try to find meaning out of a part of seeming trivial
history. Baitz sends a thermobaric weapon to the Wyeth household in the form of Brooke Wyeth, played by Anne Gottlieb. Continue reading

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Jan 15

“Vinegar Tom”: A Deceptively Timely Play

Photo credit: Whistler in the Dark; This show contains material that may trigger PTSD  - please try to see it anyway.

Photo credit: Whistler in the Dark; This show contains material that may trigger PTSD – please try to see it anyway.

presented by Whistler in the Dark Theatre
Vinegar Tom is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

by Caryl Churchill

directed by Mac Young
songs composed by Molly Allis, Juliet Olivier & Veronica Barron
music Composed and Performed by: Veronica Barron & Tony Leva
lyrics by Caryl Churchill

January 11th-February 2nd
The Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116
Whistler in the Dark Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

TRIGGER WARNING

(Boston) Historical fiction is often said to reflect the era in which it’s written rather than the era it’s written about.  Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom, originally performed in 1976, mirrors the growing awareness of feminism.  In 1600’s England, a group of women deal with being unmarried, unrepresented, and unwanted. The result is a play that’s appropriately bleak.

Vinegar Tom begins with Alice, portrayed by the excellent but often subtle Becca A. Lewis.  Lewis playfully drives the show as a young woman with a feather-light conscience despite having an infant son out of wedlock.  Her performance is credible not as a woman anachronistically independent or “ahead of her time,” but as someone who wants to marry and live on her own terms.  She is aided by her mother, Joan (Karin Webb), who is largely dismissed and derided by their town as an old hag. Continue reading

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Jan 14

Incomplete Sweetness: MARRY ME A LITTLE

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

presented by New Repertory Theatre

songs by Stephen Sondheim
conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene
directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
musical direction by David McGrory

Arsenal Center for the Arts
in the Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA
January 6th – January 27th, 2013
New Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) As a songwriter, Stephen Sondheim is better than you.  He just is.

He mastered the art of straightforward musicals with West Side Story and he’s been toying with us ever since.  After figuring out what sappy audiences want in a love song, he’s been not giving it to them, choosing instead to dwell in the tensions and the ambiguities of our romantic natures in lovely, sonic dissonance. Continue reading

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