May 21

“Pirates of Penzance” Pillages Hearts

Emily Casey, Sean Pfautsch, Matt Kahler, Ryan Bourque, Dana Omar. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

presented by American Repertory Theater
produced by The Hypocrites
by Gilbert & Sullivan
adapted by Sean Graney, Kevin O’Donnell
directed by Sean Graney

Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Hypocrites’ Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) The Hypocrites’ production of Pirates of Penzance is an absolute confection.  Adapting the beloved Gilbert and Sullivan operetta to a quirkier, more contemporary stage, Sean Graney and Kevin O’Donnell infuse the original libretto and its score with banjos, bathing suits, beach balls, and a warmth that charms but never cloys.  It’s energetic and just plain fun.

Premiering in New York in 1879, the original show has a long history of making audiences titter at lyrics like, “I am the very model of a modern major general.”  The comic opera lampoons Victorian concepts of honor, piracy, politeness, the literary inconveniences of being a foundling, and, most importantly, duty. Continue reading

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Nov 27

The Nutcracker: Reinventing Sugar Plum Fairies with Sugar Plum Cookies

Toys standing on left (L-R): Alycia Sacco (as doll Phoebe), Grant MacDermott (as Monkey), Nick Sulfaro (as Hugo); Seated on right (L-R): Danny Bryck (as Fritz), Sirena Abalian (as Clara). Stoneham Theatre's "The Nutcracker" is directed by Caitlin Lowans. All photographs taken by Carla Donaghey.

The Nutcracker as imagined The House Theatre of Chicago, based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffman, book by Phillip Klapperich and Jake Minton, music by Kevin O’Donnell, lyrics by Jake Minton, Stoneham Theatre, 11/25/11-12/22/11, http://www.stonehamtheatre.org/holidayshows2011.html.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Stoneham, MA) With a contemporary setting and opening scenes that take place at a Christmas party, Stoneham Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker” promises to be a modern update of the classic E.T.A. Hoffman children’s book and eventual ballet by Tchaikovsky.  A sudden chill interrupts the family scene when it’s announced that Fritz (Danny Bryck), the older brother of Clara (Sirena Abalian), has died while serving in the military.

In the fallout of this tonal shift, the party guests dispose of the Christmas tree like pallbearers taking away a coffin.  The core members of the family, including parents Meagan Hawkes and Mark Linehan, continue to grieve.  From there, the original story is used as a springboard for Clara to deal with the loss of her brother. Continue reading

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