Jan 07

A Parental Nightmare or Fantasy: MEMORY HOUSE

***With Apologies to Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the cast of Memory House, this review was intended to be published during the October/November run****

Susan Pellegrino and Rebecca Blumhagen. Photo by Meghan Moore

Susan Pellegrino and Rebecca Blumhagen. Photo by Meghan Moore; snuggles.

by Kathleen Tolan
Directed by Melia Bensussen

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, Massachusetts 01852
October 25th – November 18th, 2012

Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) Family dramas on stage and screen are filled with “explanation” moments, when a parent is called out by a now-grown child to explain the who, what and where, when, how and why of family history.  The explanation moment can be a blessing or a curse, as it hits home for parents just how much they’ve screwed up their children’s lives while also giving them the chance to make their cases before the court.  This theatrical device can be used sloppily for Lifetime dramas or effectively for Oscar-bait movies. Continue reading

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Dec 17

Enduring Marriage: HALF N’ HALF N’ HALF

Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

by John Kolvenbach
directed by Kyle Fabel

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
November 29th – December 23rd, 2012
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) It is frustrating to see a craftsman like playwright John Kolvenbach run rings around pedestrian writers.  His play Half n’ Half n’ Half shows that he understands how a play functions on a deep level and that he could write in any genre he chooses, from The Seagull to Lend Me a Tenor.  Kolvenbach toys with the audience in several genres with this comedy, while demonstrating his near-mastery of them all.  This is more than an exercise in play writing, however.  Throughout this script of multiple plays, Kolvenbach is able to document how a lifetime romantic commitment often drives us to need to be committed. Continue reading

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Sep 20

A ROAD FORGOTTEN: HOMESTEAD CROSSING

Homestead Crossing 
Presented Merrimack Repertory Theatre
by William Donnelly    
Directed by Kyle Fabel

Photo Credit: Meghan Moore

Merrimack Repertory Theatre Website                 Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page
50 E. Merrimack St.
Lowell, MA
Sep 6 – Sep 30, 2012

Review by Kate Lonberg-Lew

(Lowell, MA) It’s so easy to get lost in the minutia of daily life – the food shopping and bill-paying – that you forget that you make your own destiny. That, in fact, your destiny is created in those very everyday decisions. And it takes an unexpected event, be it a stranger knocking at your window or an unexpected call from an old friend, to remind us. Homestead Crossing, currently playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, is the story of just such a couple.
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Apr 29

A Pitch-Perfect Meditation: GHOST-WRITER

Dan Kremer and Rebecca Harris. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Ghost-Writer by Michael Hollinger, Merrimack Repertory Theatre,    4/19/12-5/13/12, http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=109.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) The author starts with a blank page. It fills with words. From where do the words come? That is the underlying mystery of Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s masterful production of Ghost-Writer. Continue reading

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Mar 24

Lovely Confusion: MRS. WHITNEY

Deirdre Madigan, Photo by Meghan Moore

Mrs. Whitney by John Kolvenbach, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 3/15/12-4/8/12, http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=107.

Reviewed by Kate Lonberg-Lew

(Lowell, MA) Unless you are lucky enough to have met your soulmate at fifteen and lived happily ever after (and if you have, please take a moment to pinch yourself and make sure you’re real) then you will relate to the feelings of loneliness, love and the existence of your own romantic Achilles heel in this superb production of Mrs. Whitney at the Merrimack Repertory Theater in Lowell. Continue reading

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Feb 19

Daddy Long Legs: Musical Humor and Charm

Robert Adelman Hancock & Megan McGinnis, photo by Meghan Moore

Daddy Long Legs, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, Book by John Caird, Based on the novel by Jean Webster, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 2/9/12-3/4/12

Reviewed by Anthony Geehan

(Lowell, MA) The concept of love at first sight is something that has been around in theater and literature since the times of ancient mythology. There is another and more complicated hook for a love story however, in which two people fall in love without ever seeing each other. Such pieces as Mask, Sleepless in Seattle, and Parfumerie have taken on the concept that love can spark purely on personality and intrigue without any physical attributes taken into account. So it is with the musical Daddy Long Legs, a new performance being hosted by The Merrimack Repertory Theatre based off the book by John Caird. Continue reading

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Jan 14

Making Something out of Nothing: THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE

Hanley Smith and William Connell. Photo by Meghan Moore

The Voice of the Turtle, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 1/5/12-1/29/12, http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=103.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA)  In comic books, as in soap operas, you’re always hoping your favorite super hero will finally get his/her romantic mate.  It was such a relief when Lois finally slipped off Superman’s glasses and figured out that Clark was a world-beater.  And Peter Parker was always getting such a raw deal, even though he could have crushed his foes with his bare hands as Spider-Man, that it was a blessed event when Mary Jane finally noticed him.

But as soon as that happened, the characters stopped growing and the dialogue in the comics became just painful.  It would be “darling” this and “sweetie” that, with some artful fade-outs when the couple needed some alone-time.  The conversations grew so bad to read that you couldn’t wait for Lex Luthor to erase Lois’s memory with a Wipe-O ray gun and the courtship could start all over. Continue reading

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Nov 28

The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) Review–SERIOUSLY!

Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor & Matt Rippy (L-R) Photo by Meghan Moore

The Ultimate Christmas Show by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, Reduced Shakespeare CompanyMerrimack Repertory Theatre, 11/25/11-12/18/11,  http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=110.  Contains scatological humor and some Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor flesh.   

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Lowell, MA)  They’re baaack!  Every so often, a rustle of popular culture floats through the air, gets put into the Reduced Shakespeare grinder and out comes some side-splitting fun.  At their east coast premiere of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), the Reduced Shakespeare Company exceeds expectations.  Blending holiday traditions from ancient times to modern, religious to secular, The Ultimate Christmas Show presents a jolly evening for anyone who can appreciate a little irreverence with sincere heart. Continue reading

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Oct 30

This Verse Business: The Road Less Traveled Of Frost’s Poetry

Gordon Clapp as Robert Frost. Photo by Meghan Moore.

This Verse Business by A.M. Dolan, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 10/20/11-11/13/11,  http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=101.

Reviewed by Anthony Geehan

(Lowell, MA)  There is an inherent problem in the study of classic poetry. Most of what is deemed worthwhile to scholars are works that tend to be genre defying and broke the conventions of the times they were written in. However, when a poet’s collection becomes so widely revered, scholars tend to set them as the new template for the system that the writer had originally broken through. This leads to the poems losing much of their edge and therefore becoming mundane to modern audiences. There is possibly no bigger victim of this “catch-22” than west coast born, New England based poet Robert Frost, and there is possibly no better cure for this academic sickness than a play like This Verse Business. Continue reading

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