Sep 21

You Can Lie Down or Get Up and Play: An Interview with Taylor Mac on judy’s “24-Decade History of Popular Music: Film Screening & Discussion with Taylor Mac” event at Boston’s 2023 Raising Voices Festival

Taylor Mac (Photo courtesy HBO Max)

Event: 24-Decade History of Popular Music: Film Screening & Discussion with Taylor Mac
Presented as part of the Raising Voices Festival: A Celebration of Music, Art, and the Power of Protest
Saturday, September 23, 2023 @ 7:30pm EDT
Old South Meeting House
Boston, MA

More about the Raising Voices Festival 
Presented by Revolutionary Spaces
September 23 & 24, 2023
Downtown Boston: Various Locations
Performance Schedule & Map 
Admission is free. 
Registration is highly encouraged.

About the documentary film Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music
Filmed on Saturday, October 8th, 2016 
@ St. Ann’s Warehouse
Brooklyn, NY 11202
Written and created by Taylor Mac 
Music direction by Matt Ray
Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman 
Costume designs by Machine Dazzle 
Makeup artistry by Anastasia Durasova
Produced by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Joel Stillerman, Linda Brumbach, Alisa Regas, Taylor Mac, and Mari Rivera
HBO Documentary Films in association with Content Superba, a Telling Pictures and Pomegranate Arts Production in association with Fifth Season and Nature’s Darlings
Streamed on HBO Max

Interview by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Taylor Mac graciously met the New England Theatre Geek’s Queen Kitty for an interview on Wednesday afternoon to discuss judy’s HBO documentary Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music and the Raising Voices event 24-Decade History of Popular Music: Documentary & Discussion with Taylor Mac on Saturday, Sep 23, 2023, 7:30pm EDT. 

Mac regularly contributes to the Boston theatre-ecology. Mac’s stage play, Joy and Pandemic played at the Huntington in April of this year.  Mac’s 2012 essay “A Culture of Trust” was published in the 2022 publication of HowlRound Anthology: Essays and Conversations from the First Ten Years. Judy’s Hir was produced by Apollinaire Theatre in February 2020. (One of the last, lucky productions before the lockdown). And, of course, The Lily’s Revenge at Club Oberon (RIP) in 2012.

We thank Taylor Mac for their time and judy’s team for setting up the interview.

Mac was full of laughter. It was truly a pleasure to meet with judy. 

(The below interview is edited for grammar and clarity.)

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Queen Kitty: Your Decade History of Popular Music History, you’ve described it as a radical fairy realness ritual.

Taylor Mac: Yes.

QK: It spans 24 decades with a 24-piece orchestra for 24 hours, singing 246 songs. What was your dramaturgical research process like? It’s just so much. It must have been so intense for you.

TM: It was a constant reminder that I’m not a historian. I’m not trying to be a historian, and I don’t want to be a historian. Part of the dramaturgy was to make sure that was clear to the audience. In all of the stage shows, in one form or another, that this was expressed to the audience. Continue reading

Jun 14

Jam, Jive and Everything: “Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical Show”

The company; Photo by Nile Scott Photography

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company
Co-produced with The Nora at Central Square Theater and The Front Porch Arts Collective
Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. & Murray Horwitz
Musical Adaptions, Orchestrations, and Arrangements by ​Luther Henderson
Directed and Choreographed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent
Co-Choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
Co-Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez and David Freeman Coleman

June 9-26, 2022
Greater Boston Stage Company
395 Main Street
Stoneham, MA 02180
Runtime: 2 hours including intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

STONEHAM, Mass. —  Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a show that builds and builds until the energy and the intensity seem unsustainable. Then it builds some more. The musical opens with the titular song and spans the great career of Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller. There is little dialogue but a lot of impressive dancing. 

The red Art Deco set by Jon Savage, Aria Pegg, and Tori Oakes transports the audience to a speakeasy deep in the bowels of New York. The audience is flanked by large-scale landscape murals depicting Black jazz musicians and dancers a la Josephine Baker. The stage extends close to the first row to give the cast plenty of room to stomp, prowl, and wiggle. Café tables are placed on the edges of stage left and right.  Continue reading

Mar 25

We Know You Can Dance to the Beat: An Interview with Brian Boruta about Umbrella Stage’s “Head Over Heels”

Presented by Umbrella Stage
Adapted by James Magruder
Concept and Original Book by James Whitty
Music by The Go-Go’s
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by David Wright
Choreography by Lara Finn

April 15 – May 8, 2022 (no performance 4/17)
Presented on the Main Stage
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742

Interview by Kitty Drexel

CONCORD, Mass. — The Umbrella Stage returns to performances this April with Head Over Heels. Brian Boruta generously chatted with me on Friday, March 18 about the musical, gender politics, and The Go Go’s. 

This interview is condensed. It has been edited for grammar, congruity, and clarity. 

Queen Kitty: It’s awesome that you’re starting with Head Over Heels. Why this show now?

Brian Boruta: It’s funny; I think about this show now, because we had chosen this show earlier than now. Then things all got moved around.

We moved, a couple of years ago, to a committee-based approach to season planning. As we were coming out of the pandemic, it was really important that as many voices and perspectives as possible be included in program planning. 

One thing that came to the fore in that conversation was finding ways throughout the season coming out of the pandemic to just celebrate joy in many forms, to celebrate love, to amplify different marginalized voices throughout the season. Head Over Heels really popped out as that title that we could put towards the end of the season that celebrates joy, celebrates love, and celebrates community.  Continue reading

Aug 15

Frothy Fun and B-Side Moments: MAMMA MIA

Tari Kelly (Tanya) with Tiffani Barbour (Rosie) and Erica Mansfield (Donna) in MAMMA MIA! live on stage at North Shore Music Theatre thru September 2. Photo©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Directed & Choreographed By: Kevin P. Hill
Music Direction By: Bob Bray
Music And Lyrics By: Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus And Some Songs With Stig Anderson
Book By: Catherine Johnson
Originally Conceived By: Judy Cramer

August 2 – September 2, 2018
North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) There is a reason why the musical Mamma Mia has become such a phenomenon – I mean, aside from the fact that a group of Swedes sold their souls to the devil to make the most earworm-y music of the 20th century. The story is one long, sexy summer party that showcases the current or past foibles of our twenties. A young woman secretly invites her three potential fathers to her island wedding without telling her mother about it – it’s as if someone set out to re-envision Midsummer Night’s Dream with platform shoes. Continue reading