May 22

Geeks Read Books: TCG Play Reviews

(Somerville, MA/NYC) Occasionally the New England Theatre Geek is invited to review plays. Theatre Communications Group (TCG) provides gratis paperback copies to NETG in exchange for objective reviews. The opinions stated here are not shared by TCG and are the author’s own. Continue reading

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May 16

Play It Again Sam: “Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles”

Sam and Dinah (Marcus DeLoach and Heather Johnson) robotically repeat their morning routine. Photo: Liza Voll

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music & Libretto by Leonard Bernstein
Stage directed by David Schweizer
Music direction by David Angus
Dramaturgy by John Conklin

May 11-20, 2018
DCR Steriti Memorial Rink
561 Commercial Street, Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel

After Bernstein’s performance at the White House in 1960, President Eisenhower remarked, “You know, I liked that last piece you played: it’s got a theme. I like music with a theme, not all them arias and barcarolles.” quote taken from leonardbernstein.com. Eisenhower was a bit imperceptive.

(Boston, MA) Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles are presented by the BLO in one continuous operetta subtitled, “Sam and Dinah Say Goodnight (Scenes From A Marriage).” It is a “new reimagining” of Bernstein’s works which abbreviates Tahiti and merges the reduced scoring directly into Arias & Barcarolles. They are not performed individually as suggested by BLO’s marketing materials. The performance runs about 90 minutes. Continue reading

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Apr 20

It’s a Great Cake. A Bride-Cake. Mine: “Old New Borrowed Blue”

Celeste Godin as Havisham; photo by Nile Scott Shots.

Presented by MetroWest Opera
Conducted by Brendon Shapiro
Stage directed by Cassandra Lovering

Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night
Libretto by Jon Olon-Scrymgeour
Music by Dominick Argento

The Beautiful Bridegroom
Music and libretto by Dan Shore

April 19 – 21, 2018
Plaza Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
MetroWest on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Many an opera is devoted to women’s pre and post connubial anxieties. With all of the riches for women, one must ask where are the men?  In Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night Dickens’ spinster is an anti-heroine reliving a decades old tragedy. In The Beautiful Bridegroom, a Lady, her daughters and maid all wish for wedded bliss. If weddings are such fun, there should be operas from the giddy perspective of tenors in tuxes and basses in vestments. A person is supposed to like the person they marry. For all its progress, opera has further to go.   

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Apr 17

Real Hopes and Real Dreams: “The Rosenbergs (An Opera)”

Church and Gibson; Kalman Zabarsky, Photographer

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Score by Joachim Holbek
Libretto by Rhea Leman
Music direction by Cristi Catt
Stage direction by Dmitry Troyanovsky
Dramaturgy by Magda Romanska

April 12 – 22, 2018
BPT
Boston, MA
BPT on Facebook

April 27-29, 2018
Brandeis University
Spingold Theater
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02453

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAEthel and Julius Rosenberg were accused of delivering crucial information on the creation of the atomic bomb to the USSR in 1953. This case, considered one of the most infamous spy cases in US history, validated HUAC and contributed to the country-wide paranoia known as the Red Scare. Such attacks on communist affiliates is similar to the current presidential administration’s attacks on socialism. The Rosenbergs (An Opera) considers the couple accused of treasonous espionage. It proves that the American government and the people it claims to serve have changed very little in the last 65 years. Continue reading

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Mar 26

Punk, Communist Opera to Burn Your Daddy’s Ears: The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera from Boston Lyric Opera on Vimeo.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Kurt Weill
Libretto by Bertolt Brecht
English translation by Michael Feingold
Original German text based on Elisabeth Hauptmann’s German Translation of John Gay’s
The Beggar’s Opera
Conducted by David Angus
Stage directed by James Darrah

March 16 – 25, 2018
Huntington Avenue Theatre
264 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) 3Penny is not your Daddy’s stodgy traditional opera. Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht were communist rabble rousers hell-bent on challenging the operatic form. They were freedom fighters rebelling against the Nazis through theatre. A stalwart Marxist, Brecht wanted to destroy opera’s association with the bourgeoisie. Weill believed opera could belong to the proletariat if given the opportunity. Both would have appreciated the BLO’s production of The Threepenny Opera. Opera purists would not.     Continue reading

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Mar 05

It’s Time to Talk About White on White Crime: “Ripe Frenzy”

 

Left to right: Veronika Duerr, Stacy Fischer, Samantha Richert. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky. It’s a strange cruelty to photograph actors from below.

Presented by NewRep Theatre and Boston University College of Fine Arts
By Jennifer Barclay
Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary

Feb. 24 – March 11, 2018
BU College of Fine Arts
Studio ONE
Boston, MA
NewRep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: references to gun violence, references to animal abuse, references to violent behavior, references to suicide, stalking. NewRep/BCAP don’t include trigger warnings and they should. 

(Boston, MA) The people who commit monstrous wrongs are still people. The man who murdered 17 in the recent Florida tragedy took an Uber to get to the school. After, he went to Walmart, bought a drink at Subway and ate at McDonald’s. He was arrested as he walked out on his own (a common occurrence for white shooters). In Ripe Frenzy, a similar tragedy is told from the perspective of a mother who lived through the event. It is possible to cherish a monster even as he commits horrendous acts. Continue reading

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Mar 05

Driving Mr. Daisy: “The White Card”

Karen Pittman and Daniel Gerroll in The White Card. Photo: Gretjen Helene Photography; Charlotte manages Charles’ microaggressions.

Presented by ArtsEmerson with the American Repertory Theatre
By Claudia Rankin
Directed by Diane Paulus
Dramaturgy by P. Carl

Feb. 24 – April 1, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orchard Stage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Reviews by Kitty Drexel and Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston, MA) The White Card is a conversation starter for those unused to discussing race at length. It’s for those who think we live in a post-racial society, the kind of person who resents the dialogue because there are “bigger problems” to fix. Other attributes include denying racism because they have imaginary Black friends, thinking “all lives matter,” and feeling threatened when any indication of their own culpability within society’s systemic racism. Those who have regular discussions on race, inequalities and the struggles for justice will have their work affirmed. Continue reading

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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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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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Dec 06

There’s No Remedy for Fascism: “Man of La Mancha”

The cast; photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Book by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Original production staged by Albert Marre
Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman
Music direction by David Reiffel
Movement direction by Judith Chaffee

Dec. 1 – 24, 2017
Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) There were children in attendance the night I saw this production. Please note that while no one is ever undressed and strong language is avoided, MoLM does approach adult themes. Parents unwilling to discuss why a cowardly group of adult men with rage issues would rape a woman because their feelings were hurt should not bring their kids to this musical. Kids the answer is: they do it because they can.

New Rep’s production of Man of La Mancha is excellent. Get your tickets right now. Continue reading

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