Nov 18

A Ritual and Remembrance: “What to Send Up When It Goes Down”

The company of What to Send Up When It Goes Down; Photo by Lauren Miller.

Presented by the American Repertory Theatre
Produced by The Movement Theatre Company
Written by Aleshea Harris
Directed by Whitney White
Presented in collaboration with Hibernian Hall
Ensemble Alana Raquel Bowers (Three), Nemuna Ceesay (Four/​Eight), Rachel Christopher (One/​Made), Ugo Chukwu (Six/​Miss), Kambi Gathesha (Two), Denise Manning (Nine/​Song Leader), Javon Q. Minter (Seven), Beau Thom (Five/​Man/​Driver)

NOV 14 – 16 at Hibernian Hall
184 Dudley Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

NOV 20 – 24 at The Ex (Loeb Drama Center)
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Roxbury/Cambridge, MA) In its initial moments, What to Send Up When It Goes Down declares itself as a ritual for Black people. Acknowledging the non-Black people in the audience it welcomes all others, with a clear request that all partakers be respectful. Even before it began, I knew the performance would tackle important issues that I resonate with, but the play was surprisingly evocative for the larger audience as well. Continue reading

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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 05

It’s Moist-city in Here: “X”

The cast; Photo by Jake Scaltreto.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Alistair McDowall
Directed by Lindsay Eagle
Dramaturgy by Dee Rogers
Violence and Movement Consultant: Sarah Gazdowicz
Scenic Designer: Darren Cornell
Costume Designer: Erica Desautels
Lighting Designer: Connor S. Van Ness
Sound Designer: Kyle Lampe
Special Effects Designer: Lynn Wilcott
Props Designer: Jake Scaltreto
Cast: Cassandra Meyer, David Anderson, Nick Perron, Slava Tchoul, Abigail Erdelatz

Nov. 1 – 16, 2019
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: gore, blood, violence, psychological horror

(Watertown, MA) Flat Earth’s production of Alistaire McDowall’s X is a mind fuck. This psychological horror-ballet with dripping blood, broken minds, and sleep deprivation won’t let its audience get away with mindlessly consuming a performance. And then it pounds it into you so you never forget. Continue reading

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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

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Oct 28

“Tomes of Terror: Beyond Grimm”

Presented by the Post-Meridian Radio Players
“A Hare-Raising Tale” by Naomi Hinchen, directed by J. Deschene
“The Myling” by Adrian Cory, directed by Tegan Kehoe
“The Boy Who Drew Cats” by Greg Lam, directed by Laura Corliss
“La Siguanaba” by Liz Salazar, directed by Joye Thaller

October 25th – November 2, 2019
Boston Brunch Church (formerly Responsible Grace)
204 Elm Street, Somerville, MA
PMRP on Facebook

Review by Piyali Mukherjee

(Somerville, MA) On Friday night, the Post Meridian Radio Players presented their Tomes of Terror: Beyond Grimm dramatized radio show at the Boston Brunch Church. The stories, collected from Norway, Ireland, Japan and Honduras, were presented as a show-case. The show provided a visual spectacle with a visible foley team and all actors in costume. Continue reading

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Oct 24

“My Fascination with Creepy Ladies” and a Complete Replication of Poe

Foreground, front to back: Siobhan Carroll, Luz Lopez, Elena Toppo.
Background, front to back: C. Padraig Sullivan, Christine Power, Jessica Golden

Presented by Anthem Theatre Company
A Collection of Horrors by Edgar Allan Poe
Conceived and Directed by Bryn Boice
Featuring Anthem company members Michael Poignand, Johnny Kinsman, Siobhan Carroll, Olivia Z. Cote, Sarah Gazdowicz, Jessica Golden, Katie Grindeland, Luz Lopez, Jessica Scout Malone, Eric McGowan, Christine Power, C. Padraig Sullivan, and Elena Toppo.
Designed by Bridget K. Doyle and Theona White

October 17 – November 3, 2019
South End / BCA Plaza Theatres
Plaza Black Box Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Event on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Berenice, Annie, Ligeia, Rowena, Annabel Lee, Morella, Lenore, and so many others– an archetype with many names collapsed into a single, waifish woman with hair that hangs loose over her shoulders and a hint of otherworldliness. Meanwhile, the heroes and narrators of these stories are boiled down into the figure of a melancholic, bow-tied, possibly opium-addled narrator.

The woman in question is always on the verge of death, or has already died, but in the wake of that death, she is somehow made more beautiful, powerful, and entrancing. In Anthem Theatre Company’s My Fascination with Creepy Ladies, these characters are now four, leering, dancing, and laughing Creepy Ladies that haunt eight, terrorized, pale, bow-tied Poes. Continue reading

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Oct 23

An Unabashedly Queer Celebration: “The Rocky Horror Show”

L to R: Jaclyn Chylinski (Phantom), Carly Grayson (Janet), Alexander Boyle (Brad) and Alex Jacobs (Narrator); Photograph: Sharman Altshuler.

Presented by Moonbox Productions 
Music, Lyrics and Book by Richard O’Brien
Directed by David Lucey
Music direction by Mindy Cimini
Choreography by Dan Sullivan
Costume Design by David Lucey
Set Design by Cameron McEachern
Lighting Design by Sam J. Biondolillo

Performance dates: Oct 18 – Nov 2, 2019
25 Brattle St, Cambridge MA
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/MoonboxProductions/

Review by Chloé Cunha

(Cambridge, MA) As a lifelong Cambridge resident, I remember when the Harvard Square Theatre closed. Like many, I was deeply saddened by the loss of this cinema treasure, where I had spent many a day and night watching some fantastic– and truly terrible– movies. More specifically, it was painful for the loss of the weekly screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which had been an institution since 1984. Continue reading

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Oct 22

Songs of Light and History: “Marie and Rosetta”

Lovely Hoffman, Pier Lamia Porter; photo by Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company in Collaboration with The Front Porch Arts Collective
By George Brant
Directed by Pascale Florestal
Musical Direction by Erica Telisnor

With Lovely Hoffman, Pier Lamia Porter

Oct. 17 – Nov. 10, 2019
Greater Boston Stage Company 
395 Main Street
Stoneham, MA 02180
GBSC on Facebook

Review by: Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Stoneham, MA) Marie and Rosetta is a tremendous concert built around a conversation that shares what should be a much more well-known story about the roots of Rock-N-Roll. It takes place on the first rehearsal night for a dynamic musical duo, played and sung by Lovely Hoffman as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Pier Lamia Porter as Marie Knight. The comedic and moving single act conversation has scenic and costume design by Baron E.Pugh and Michelle Villada, which help transport the audience to this moment in time. 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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