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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Sep 13

We’re on the Same Side: “The Purists”

J Bernard Calloway and John Scurti; Photo Credit: T Charles Ericksonn© T Charles Erickson.

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
By Dan McCabe
Directed by Billy Porter
Original music by Michael Sandlofer

Aug. 30 – Oct. 6, 2019
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Editor’s Note: This article now includes an addendum by Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston) These are some terms and figures within hip hop culture that viewers should understand to better appreciate The Purists.

These are some terms and figures from musical theatre culture that viewers should understand.

  • Jerome Kern
  • George & Ira Gershwin
  • Bob Fosse 
  • Andrew Lloyd Weber 
  • National treasure, Bob Ross
  • Rapping in musicals
  • Annie + video 
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • Call center/Box office
  • The Golden Age of musical theatre

Oppression isn’t a contest. Virginia is mourning the 400th anniversary of slavery in the US. June 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The ADA wasn’t made law until 1990. The only people who win when marginalized communities fight are the rich, white people who make money from our oppression. No one is free until we are all free. Freedom must be intersectional.   Continue reading

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Jul 21

Superfans in Cosplay Having the Best Time: “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
Adapted from the book, The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan 
Book by Joe Tracz
Music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki
Directed by Stephen Brackett
Music direction by Wiley DeWeese
Choreography by Patrick McCollum
Fight direction by Rod Kinter
New puppetry design by AchesonWalsh Design Studios

July 17 – 28, 2019
Huntington Avenue Theatre
264 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA
The Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Saturday afternoon’s performance of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical was an event for superfans and their friends. Children in Camp Half-Blood t-shirts and their adults congregated to the Huntington Theatre to watch this musical about modern day children of Greek gods. It’s not a production for everyone; it’s specifically written for devotees to the Rick Riordan book. Theatre-lovers will appreciate the ingenuity of the design team but they should attend knowing that this musical isn’t for them; It’s for fans in their childhood years. Continue reading

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Jul 12

New Rep Theatre Announces Open Captioning for 2019-2020 Season

New Rep header via http://www.newrep.org

New Repertory Theatre
Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Story coverage by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA)  New Repertory Theatre will provide one open captioned performance per each of its six productions during the 2019-2020 season due to a grant from the Theatre Development Fund, said a July 5 press release.

This project is also funded by the National Endowment for the arts, according to the press release. New Rep will offer discounts to those who require open captioned services. Continue reading

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