Jan 17

Calling the Police Over a Picnic:”Pass Over”

Photo by Nile Scott Studios; Lewis D. Wheeler, Kadahj Bennett, Hubens “Bobby” Cius

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co. with The Front Porch Arts Collective
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Monica White Ndounou
Fight choreography by Brandon G. Green
Movement coaching by Mila Thigpen
Dramaturgy by Pascale Florestal

January 3 – Feb. 2, 2020
Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts
SpeakEasy on Facebook
The Front Porch on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: white guilt, language, fuck the police

(Boston, MA) The sheer volume of what one must understand as true regardless of personal belief in order to not merely understand but thoroughly digest Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over at SpeakEasy Stage is overwhelming. The role that white people play in perpetuating racism’s systemic horrorshow machinations against Black people (and all people of color) is astounding.

Here is a list of links containing basic concepts that could be helpful. 

  • It is not the responsibility of Black people to explain racism or to convince white people that it exists. 
  • Being nice isn’t the same as not being racist. Racist people are nice all of the time. Nice people are racist all the time.
  • Black friends won’t make a white person less racist. Dismantling internalized racism requires a lifetime of work.  
  • It should go without saying that Black people want equality. They don’t want to reverse their treatment at the hands of white people back onto white people. 
  • Racism is about power. Reverse racism doesn’t exist. 
  • White people have to stop taking personally Black resistance to oppression.  
  • All of this information is a Google search away. 

Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Nov 26

Be Old Until You Are Young: “Quixote Nuevo”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company in association with Hartford Stage and Alley Theatre
A reimagining of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
By Octavio Solis
Directed by KJ Sanchez
Compositions and sound design by David R. Molina
Other compositions by Eduardo Robledo
Music direction by Jesse Sanchez
Fight direction by Ted Hewlett
Vocal and dialect coaching by Robert Ramirez
Dramaturgy by J. Sebastián Alberdi

Nov. 15 – Dec. 8, 2019
HUNTINGTON AVENUE THEATRE, 264 HUNTINGTON AVENUE
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) It’s only three days until Thanksgiving! So let me take this opportunity to remind you, dearest reader, that the very land you stand on was stolen by colonizers from Native American tribes. Quixote Nuevo takes place on the Mexican-American border. The US is currently keeping the children of immigrants in cages at that border. Their parents aren’t much better off. When you see this production, and you should because it is excellent, please consider the role colonizers and their progeny (us) have played in putting the land’s indigenous peoples behind bars. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Nov 25

What Jesus Would Do: “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”

Photo by Hub Theatre Company; Jesus (Jaime Hernandez) and Judas (Cristian Mancinas-Garcia)

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Steven Bogart
Fight choreography by Matthew Dray
Dialect coaching by Charles Linshaw

Nov. 8 – 23, 2019
First Church Boston66 Marlborough St
Boston, MA
Hub Theatre on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: blasphemy, betrayal, cursing, portrayals of Satan, extreme Christianity

(Boston, MA) Stephen Adly Guirgis doesn’t give his audience answers in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. He gives them a question: does Judas belong in Hell for his actions against Jesus of Nazareth? Guirgis supplies an answer to this question but his answer is only one answer of many. It’s up to audience members to discern the answer that makes the most sense to them. 

Continue reading
Share with Your Audience
Nov 12

Vintage Neuroses in a Noir Package: “Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror”

Photo via Facebook; the cast at Charlestown Working Theatre.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Produced by special arrangement with the children of Shirley Jackson, and Catalyst Management, LLC. 
By Shirley Jackson
Directed by Mathew Woods
Ensemble: Laura Detwiler, Denise Drago, Lauren Foster, Molly Kimmerling, Amy Meyer, Bob Mussett, Jennifer Taschereau

November 2nd – November 16th, 2019
Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA  02129
The Beasts on Facebook

Trigger warning: psychological horror, emotional trauma, spooky ghosts

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Journeys end in lovers meeting; I have spent an all but sleepless night, I have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very air tastes like wine. I have been frightened half out of my foolish wits, but I have somehow earned this joy; I have been waiting for it for so long.”― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

(Charlestown, MA) imaginary beasts’ latest production, Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror brings the psychological pain of everyday anxiety into sharp focus. The beasts tell six stories adapted from the works of Shirley Jackson in a style that they have named “narrative theatre.” Cast members dictate the action onstage just as a third-person voice narrates the passages of a book.  It looks and sounds like a one or two-person Greek chorus.

The vignettes that make up the production examine the commonplace terrors that women experience on the daily: isolation, powerlessness, and disorder. There is puppetry, mime, and yes, scene narration. The narrators are like impartial babysitters watching their human companions toddle towards danger. They might stop them, but where’s the fun in that?  Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Nov 09

African Traditions and European Expectations: “The Magic Flute”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Performed by the Isango Ensemble

Based on the opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto in German by Emanuel Schikaneder

Adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May
Music Arranged by Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis

November 6 – 10, 2019
Open Caption Performance: Sun, November 10, 2PM
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA

The Magic Flute is performed in English, Xhosa, Zulu and Tswana

Review by Kitty Drexel 

(Boston, MA) This weekend the Isango Ensemble returns to Boston for a weekend of performances of The Magic Flute. It is an exceptional performance of a classic, beloved opera. They overhaul Mozart’s composition by obliterating the standards of white, European traditions. Their production instead incorporates indigenous African performance traditions of dance, music, and storytelling. It’s a pleasant culture shock to the senses.  Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Nov 04

Don’t Tell Me the Odds: “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka”

Photo by Nile Scott.

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly
Adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald
Based on the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Directed by Emily Ranii
Music directed by Nathan Urdangen 
Choreographed by Russell Garrett

Oct 25 – Nov. 17, 2019
Boston University
200 Riverway 
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka (2004) should not be confused with the West End and Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently touring in the US (now in Omaha!). Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is not. Both incorporate elements from Dahl’s novel and the two Hollywood movies. They are similar but not the same.  

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka cannot compete with the novel or the movies. Fans of the other Wonka media should view this iteration as the children’s theatre it is and not compare it to its source materials. They will be disappointed. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Oct 17

Life Smells Weird: “SpongeBob the Musical”

National Tour Cast of The Spongebob Musical. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Presented by the Boch Center Wange Theatre
Based on the series SpongeBob Squarepants by Stephen Hillenburg
Book by Kyle Jarrow
Music by Tom Kitt
Original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani, Lil’ C, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Andy Paley, Tom Kenny, Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg, Blaise Smith & Tom Kitt
Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton
Production conceived and directed by Tina Landau
Choreography by Christopher Gattelli
Music direction by Patrick Hoagland
Music supervision by Julie McBride & Timothy Hanson

October 15 – 27, 2019
Boch Center Wang Theatre
Boston, MA
SpongeBob and Wang Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA)

A SpongeBob Squarepants internet primer: 

  • SpongeBob is a cartoon featured on the Nickelodeon TV network. 
  • SpongeBob Squarepants has a devoted YouTube channel with helpful playlists.
  • Encyclopedia SpongeBobia has a series timeline and community forum for fans.
  • SpongeBob Squarepants has spawned many dank memes. A “dank meme” is colloquial phrase that describes viral internet media of outdated comedic value.  

(Boston, MAThe SpongeBob Musical currently playing at the Wang Theatre is great fun. Tina Landau’s production engages the audience with colorful design and choreography. Tom Kitt’s upbeat, pop score is catchy but thoughtful. It’s a heartening musical comedy that teaches important lessons about friendship, generosity and civic duty.  Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Oct 07

The Broadway Facts of Life: “42nd Street”

PREVIEW: The Umbrella Stage Company Presents 42nd Street from The Umbrella on Vimeo.

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company 
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by James Murphy
Musical restaging and new choreography by Lara Finn Banister

September 27 – October 20, 2019
The Umbrella Main Stage 
Concord, MA
The Umbrella Stage on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) 42nd Street is a show-within-a-show jukebox musical serving as a thinly veiled excuse to pair tap dance with 1930’s Broadway hits. The 1933 Depression-era movie had choreography by Busby Berkeley and was nominated for an Academy Award. The movie (and eventually the musical) has deeply impacted musical theatre. Bullets Over Broadway, Kiss Me Kate and other backstage musicals have all been influenced by 42nd Street’s incarnations. It’s a classic but carries with it the problems of its time.   Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Oct 01

Your Fave is Fanfiction: “The Book Club Play”

Becca A. Lewis, Sean Patrick Gibbons, Greg Maraio (with Pepto Bismol), Rachel Cognata; photo by Stratton McCrady.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
By Karen Zacarias
Directed by Shana Gozansky
Dramaturgy by Caity-Shea Violette

Sept. 26 – Oct. 13, 2019
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre 
Boston, MA
BPT on Facebook

“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”
John Waters

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The pop culture obsessions of today are the classics of tomorrow: 50 Shades of Grey is Twilight fanfiction; the Twilight Saga is influenced by Wuthering Heights; Wuthering Heights was controversial in its day for its critical examination of religious hypocrisy, and class inequality within the gothic fiction genre. If the cultural narrative in response to a book shows us who we are as a society, then The Book Club Play at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre shows us that book snobs are insecure secret-hiders.  Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Sep 18

On “The Akhmatova Journals,” part of the October 2019 That’s What She Said program at Central Square Theater

That’s What She Said presented by The Nora Theatre Company.
Coming to the Central Square Theater in October 2019!
CST on Facebook

Article by Kitty Drexel.

Playwright Ginger Lazarus; photo via www.gingerlazarus.com.

(Cambridge, MA) Playwright Ginger Lazarus said the journey to write her drama “The Akhmatova Journals” began in 1993 while visiting St. Petersburg, Russia.

Lazarus was completing a semester abroad in Moscow through the O’Neill Center’s National Theater Institute when fellow students invited her to visit the Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House with them. She said during a phone interview in late July that she planned on meeting her classmates there that afternoon but a sudden, touristy apathy convinced her to spend the afternoon sipping espresso in a cafe instead.

“I still kick myself for not going,” Lazarus said.

Lazarus’s play “The Akhmatova Journals” is scheduled for a dramatic play reading as part of the That’s What She Said program held by the Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience