Oct 13

Let’s do some living/Before we die: “Wild Horses”

Leenya Rideout and Rafael Molina during filming at Unitas Community Center, Lowell. Photo: Kathy Wittman

Presented by Merrimack Theatre Company 
By Allison Gregory
Directed by Courtney Sale
Featuring Actor Leenya Rideout
Music by Rafael Molina
Film by Kathy Wittman
Costume Design by Lee Viliesis

COVID PROTOCOLS: Vaccination or negative test result required. Masks also required for both indoor and outdoor locations. See the full details here

Video-On-Demand Dates: Oct. 4-17, 2021
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

CONTENT WARNING: Wild Horses contains adult language and content. Recommended for ages 16 and older. Mentions of child abuse and descriptions of animal abuse. 

Run Time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

Streaming — Wild Horses, streaming now on MRT.org, is a prime example of great theatre that translates well to both in-person and online viewing. MRT’s recording reveals solo-performer Leenya Rideout as a skilled storyteller capable of spinning nuance with a single gesture. One can practically feel the electric energy rippling off of her captured performance. 

Rideout is good in the video. She’d be better live. This is a streamed performance that’ll make you regret you didn’t see it in person.  Continue reading

May 31

Good for Them: “A Woman of the World”

Denise Cormier in MRT’s A Woman of the World. Photo: Kathy Wittman.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Rebecca Gilman
Directed by Courtney Sale
Featuring Denise Cormier

May 15-30, 2021
Video on Demand
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Yes, she was a genius but nothing really happened to her. She never left her house!” – Mary Loomis Todd on Emily Dickinson in A Woman of the World

STREAMING — The summary on the MRT website for A Woman of the World buries the lede. It focuses on her ties to poet Emily Dickinson as a way to lure audience members with Protestant leanings. The summary fails to emphasize famous New Englander Mabel Loomis Todd’s more modern fleshly proclivities: she was into open-marriages centuries before it was cool and took great pleasure in sex.  Continue reading

Oct 31

The Lost Treasures in “Cambodian Rock Band”

Matthew Yee, Peter Sipla, Aja Wiltshire, Eileen Doan, Greg Watanabe; Photo by Liz Lauren courtesy of Victory Gardens

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
A co-production with Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and City Theatre in Pittsburgh
By Lauren Yee
Directed by Marti Lyons
Featuring the songs of Dengue Fever, Sinn Sisamouth, Voy Ho, and Rose Serey Sothea
Cast includes Eileen Doan (Pou, keyboards), Albert Park (Duch), Christopher Thomas Pow (Leng/Ted, guitar), Peter Sipla (Rom, drums), Greg Watanabe (Chum, bass),  and Aja Wiltshire (Neary/Sothea, vocals).

Oct 16-Nov 10
Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
Lowell,MA
MRT on Facebook 

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Lowell, MA) The history one learns from Cambodian Rock Band will vary based on previous knowledge of the Cambodian genocide, the Vietnam War, and other geopolitical histories of that era. Lauren Yee’s narrative blends details about how characters survived genocide with elements from the real stories of countless others. Yet, one doesn’t leave the theater with fresh tears of sadness, rather, with smiles over tear-stained faces. The actors, particularly the father-daughter pair of Chum (Greg Watanabe) and Neary (Aja Wilshire), have both very touching and comical exchanges throughout the over 2 hour run time. 

It weaves together a portrait of a father, a mystery, history, and amazing music. From the pre-show announcement to ‘cold open’, both in Khmer, audiences are taken on a ride between the 70’s to the early 2000s features a band from the 70s, singing in Khmer. Continue reading

Sep 21

A Study in Contrasts: “Tiny Beautiful Things”

Shravan Amin, Nael Nacer, Lori Prince and Caroline Strang. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed
Adapted for stage by Nia Vardalos
Co-Conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail and Nia Vardalos
Directed by Jen Wineman

September 11 – October 6, 2019
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Lowell, MA) Tiny Beautiful Things delivers a personal memoir through the vehicle of questions answered by ‘Sugar’, who does so in each case with an insight drawn from a personal story.

Continue reading

Jan 28

A Nourishing Treat: “Slow Food”

Joel Van Liew, Brian Beacock, Daina Griffith. Photo by Meghan Moore.

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

January 9 – February 3, 2018
50 E Merrimack St, Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) You know a play hooks you when you start to get uncomfortable from the opening moment. As the lights go up in Slow Food,, we see two diners, Peter and Irene (Joel Van Liew and Daina Michelle Griffith) looking wane in a Greek restaurant as they begrudgingly sip glasses of water and wait. By the time the waiter, Stephen (Brian Beacock), appears, it is hard not to hate him. Continue reading

Nov 05

Unfunny and Racist: “FRIENDS: THE MUSICAL PARODY”

PLEASE NOTE: Not every actor in this photo was part of the show on October 26th. No updated press photos were available.

Produced by Right Angle Entertainment
Lowell Auditorium
Book and Lyrics – Bob & Tobly McSmith
Music & Music Arrangements – Assaf Gleizner
Director – Tim Drucker
Choreographer – Billy Griffin
Music Director – Tegan Miller
Geneneral Management – Jim Lanahan, Right Angle Entertainment

Viewed on October 26th, 2018

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Look, I could write a couple of paragraphs to discuss the many shortcomings and few bright points about this musical parody of an insanely popular 90’s sitcom, but none of that matters. The production I saw of this play should be condemned for allowing one of the most racist moments I’ve seen on stage in decades.

Early in the play, the character of Ross is on a paleontology trip to China. To illustrate this with a minimal set change, they have him wear an Asian conical hat. We next see some kind of an assistant behind Ross also wearing an Asian conical hat. That assistant smiles broadly, folds his hands into his sleeves, and walks backwards in a quick shuffle, all while bowing slightly. It is a perfect example of a racist depiction of an Asian underling, the kind of grotesque caricature you expect from a mid-20th century Bugs Bunny cartoon, not a 21st century theatrical production.

I walked out at intermission. Maybe the play got better in the second act, but it certainly couldn’t have done anything to redeem itself.

Queen’s Note: The New England Theatre Geek supports Mr. Idlebrook’s decision to leave during the intermission of Friends: The Musical Parody. It is 2018. A majority white cast and creative crew should know and do better than to spread casual messages of hate and racism through yellowface. The New England Theatre Geek has pledged to promote tolerance and to shun hate. By walking out of this performance, Mr. Idlebrook was participating in this pledge.

Oct 01

The Unfinished Work of a More Perfect Union: NATIVE GARDENS

Gabriel Marin (Pablo De Valle), Vivia Font (Tania Del Valle), Joel Colodner (Frank Butley)
Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
By Karen Zacarías

September 12 – October 7, 2018
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Writers must walk a fine line with audiences when it comes to parables. For a parable to be effective, the story must signal its intentions early and clearly. If done well, it gives the story license with the audience to present an incomplete worldview to prove a point. The devil, however, is in the details – as in what details to give the audience and what details to leave out – to create a world that gets enough buy-in from the audience to think about the issue. Continue reading

May 22

Fempool: THE VILLAINS’ SUPPER CLUB

Kristen Mengelkoch (Galactic Girl). Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Lila Rose Kaplan
Directed by Sean Daniels

April 25 – May 20, 2018
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Bringing a comic book to life on stage can be extremely difficult, but deconstructing the comic book genre onstage can bring a new round of pitfalls. While the Merrimack Repertory Theatre production of “The Villains’ Supper Club” sometimes stumbles through the scattershot superhero world created by Lila Rose Kaplan’s script, it does so with a winsome and improvisational spirit. This, combined with the fact that Rose Kaplan has packed the script with some really great comical lines, leaves theatergoers with a visually stunning and utterly unique theatrical experience that may not always make sense, but is always entertaining. Continue reading

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
MRT on Facebook

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

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
MRT on Facebook

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