Apr 23

Mother’s Day Should be Plural: “Little Orphan Danny”

Julie Foldesi (Band Member/Women) and Dan Finnerty (Book, Lyrics, Music/Danny)
Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Concept by Dan Finnerty and Sean Daniels
Book and Lyrics by Dan Finnerty
Music by Dan Finnerty and Dan Lipton

March 21 – April 15, 2018
Lowell, Massachusetts
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) As a father of an adopted child, I often wonder how I will guide my son through the emotional stages of thinking about his origin story. I picture many long, earnest, possibly tear-filled conversations that will be good for us to go through, but certainly not entertaining. In Little Orphan Danny, wiseass rock singer Dan Finnerty decided to tell his own story of adoption, and it’s indeed a tearjerker of a musical. My eyes were wet and my ribs were sore from laughing so hard. Continue reading

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Mar 19

The First Tragic Big Man of Hollywood: “Lost Laughs – The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle”

Aaron Muñoz (Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle) and Kristen Mengelkock (Will); Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Andy Bayiates and Aaron Muñoz.
Directed by Nathan Keepers

February 14 – March 11, 2018
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Since the advent of the movie industry, we only pay money to see fat men on the silver screen if we can laugh at them. This has invited a parade of tortured souls willing to be crying-on-the-inside clowns in exchange for riches and some measure of acceptance. Too often, however, these jesters (John Belushi, Chris Farley, etc.) break down, and we celebrate the tragedy of a “brilliant life cut short” while waiting for the next heavy man waiting in the wings. Continue reading

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Feb 08

Rooted and Roots-less: “KNYUM”

Photo by Meghan Moore.

 

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Vichet Chum
Directed by KJ Sanchez

Venue: 50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
January 10 – February 4, 2018
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) We owe our individual existences to thousands of coincidences in history, but our identities are forged through careful curation. Many find their identities come preformed for them, whether
they like it or not, but some, like second-generation immigrants, must sort early in life through
conflicting information and cultural influences to find who they are. Continue reading

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Dec 11

A Lonely Old Man and His “Christmas Carol”

Rebecca White and Joel Colodner; Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Stage adaptation by Tony Brown
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian

November 29 thru December 24, 2017
Merrimack Repertory Theatre on Facebook
132 Warren Street, Lowell, MA  01852

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Lowell, Massachusetts)  Megan Sandberg-Zakian’s production needed a larger cast.  Three hard-working actors struggled to carry this Christmas story, which Charles Dickens populated with nine very diverse characters.  These actors paced the small stage quickly switching between accents and affectations, to communicate to the audience that they were presenting a different personality, and it ended up being an evening of too much talk.  At one point when my eyes were glazing over, I asked myself if I were in a comfortable lull or if I was just bored.  Then during intermission, I overheard a fellow patron say that she hoped she did not fall asleep during the second act.  So I had my answer: She and I were just bored. Continue reading

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Nov 14

Stardust and Deep Roots: SILENT SKY

Julia Brothers, Polly Lee, Alexis Bronkovic, Victoria Grace, and Tom Coiner
Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Sean Daniels

Oct. 18 – Nov. 12
50 E Merrimack St
Lowell, MA 01852
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) There has been a move in recent years to use film and stage to unearth the hidden stories of women who have advanced society while making their contributions in the confines of sexism. This has resulted in a series of earnest biopics or bio-plays, some more well-crafted than others. Continue reading

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May 15

Captivating Recollections: “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend”

Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Christian Duhamel and Edward Bell
Conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels
Directed by Sean Daniels

April 26 – May 21, 2017
Merrimack Repretory Theatre
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) A one-person play is like a long blind date – you are stuck with a stranger for the evening, so you inwardly pray beforehand that you’ll like them. But when that one person is actress Charissa Bertels performing her passion project, My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend, you might find yourself cursing time for flying so fast through an entertaining evening. Continue reading

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Apr 14

Interrupted Lives: “Chill”

Kim Fischer, Maria Jung, Monica Giordano, and Danny Bryck. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Megan Sandburg-Zambian

March 22-April 16, 2017
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 E. Merrimack Street, Lowell MA 01852
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Review by Kate Lew Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Maybe you’ve been wondering what your teenaged Millennial child or grandchild was doing while hanging in a basement with friends, or perhaps you’re a nostalgic Millennial looking to recapture that just-before-graduation feeling. Either way, here is your chance, because “Chill” now playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre is the perfect opportunity. Continue reading

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Feb 22

Hilarious Hot Flashes and Other Mid-Life Crises of the Woman: “Women in Jeopardy”

Gail Rastorfer, Julia Brothers, and Jessica Wortham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
Written by Wendy MacLeod
Directed by Sean Daniels

February 15-March 12, 2017
50 E. Merrimack Street, Lowell MA 01852
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Review by Kate Lew Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) My husband and I had a very stressful week that culminated in the knowledge that our heater, broken since Thursday, wouldn’t be fixed until Monday. So by the time Saturday night arrived, we were in need of some good, comedic distraction, and Women in Jeopardy, premiering at the the Merrimack Repertory Theater, rose to the challenge.

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Feb 03

Almost There! “The Making of a Great Moment”

Photo by Meghan Moore; Danny Scheie and Aysan Celik

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Directed by Sean Daniels

January 4 – 29, 2017
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) At any point in the year, there are dozens of small theatrical troupes of two or three actors crisscrossing the country to perform at schools or community centers. They perform plays you have never heard of in places you’ve never heard of, and the only way they do their job is to take the absurd situation they find themselves in seriously. Continue reading

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Dec 12

A Ted Williams After-School Special: “Going to See the Kid”

Joel Colodner, Veronika Duerr, John Gregorio. Going to See the Kid. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Joel Colodner, Veronika Duerr, John Gregorio. “Going to See the Kid.” Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Steven Drukman
Directed by Alexander Greenfield

November 30th – December 24th, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Sometimes, you get the sense in the opening minutes that a play is going to be so bad that you steal yourself to feel sorry for the actors. It is a testament to the professionalism of director Alexander Greenfield and the cast of Going to See the Kid that I didn’t cringe much for them onstage as they crisply worked with the material they had, but the script was just as cringe-worthy as I had feared. Continue reading

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