Aug 11

The Work Begins with Empathy: “A Kids Play About Racism”

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre with the Gottabees 
Lead Producers Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Alliance Theatre, and Seattle Children’s Theatre
Adapted & Directed by Kahlia Davis
Lyrics by Davied Morales
Music by Justin Ellington
Based on the book by Jelani Memory
More information at akidsplayabout.org

Streamed through August 7 on Broadway On Demand
Wheelock Family Theatre
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook
The Gottabees on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BROADWAY ON DEMAND — The Wheelock Family Theatre and the Gottabees collaborated with 41 Theaters for Young Audiences across the United States to present the world premiere, online theatrical experience of A Kids Play About Racism.

The Zoom play based on the children’s book A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory explains what racism is on a level that kids of all ages can understand and appreciate. A Kids Play About Racism is intended for ages 5+ but has a lot to offer adults too. It simplifies abstract concepts like white supremacy, microaggressions, Black culture, and emotional labor into digestible nuggets of truth. All viewers will be able to take away something valuable – even if it’s remembering that dismantling racism is strenuous; it’s okay to take a short rest before getting back to work.  Continue reading

Aug 03

10 Minute Stretch Breaks: “Dream Boston”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
Dream Boston: A New Series of Audio Plays
The 54th in ’22 by Kirsten Greenidge
McKim by Brenda Withers
Overture by Kate Snodgrass
By the Rude Bridge by Melinda Lopez

Online now for free on the Huntington Theatre website
Huntington on Facebook, Twitter
Please remember to donate! Donate now so theatre can still exist later. 

Critique by Noelani Kamelamela

STREAMING – I appreciate theatre makers using online platforms to present pre-recorded work or livestream theatrical content. In these times, when it is prudent for people not to be in theatres or congregating outdoors for a concert, the creation of work that can be digested at home or even on a lunch break is a political act beyond taking general responsibility for the health and welfare of a community by cancelling in person productions.

Dream Boston is easy to digest in four separate audio plays and can be listened to with an internet connection on someone’s phone for less than ten minute stretches.  The playwrights and the directors for Dream Boston are women. Continue reading

Jul 10

What We Mean When We Say Black Lives Matter

Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA 10th Anniversary Ribbon Cutting: (L-R) BCA Chairman Philip W. Lovejoy, Huntington Trustees Gerald and Sherryl Cohen, Calderwood Charitable Foundation Trustee John Cornish, former Huntington chairman J. David Wimberly, (behind) Paul Grogan of The Boston Foundation, BCA Executive Director Veronique Le Melle, Huntington Chairman Carol G. Deane, (behind) former BRA member Harry Collings, former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Bank of America Massachusetts State President Robert Gallery, Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois, (behind) former Huntington president William P. McQuillan, Huntington President Mitchell J. Roberts, Nancy Roberts, Huntington Managing Director Michael Maso, photo: Paul Marotta

Article by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — The July 9 press release said, “Huntington Theatre Company announces the election of 4 new board members and the promotion of two Huntington Advisors to Trustee level. The election took place during the Huntington’s year-end meeting of the Board of Trustees and Advisors on June 8, 2020.”

The headliner of the press release, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award winner, director of Huntington productions, and historically relevant badass Billy Porter is a new trustee of the Huntington. Porter and global businessman Professor George Yip are the only two people of color added to the Huntington’s snowflake white board leadership. Three of the six promotions are white women. The other is, of course, a rich, cis, white male.

While we congratulate all of the new board and trustee members, we can’t help but notice the Huntington’s hypocrisy. The theatre penned and posted a Black Lives Matter solidarity statement on its website. The election of four white people flies in the face of that solidarity statement. Continue reading

Jun 13

An Interview with Actor Michael Tow

Interview by Diana Lu for the New England Theatre Geek.

Actor Michael Tow:

Boston Theatre Scene
IMDB database

DIANA: So, Michael, I recently saw you in a Zoom reading of a local play (Wild Goose Dreams by Hansol Jung) in Boston and you’re such a fun, playful actor. What are your upcoming projects?

MICHAEL: The big one is Lucky Grandma. We premiered the movie at Tribeca, which was really my first part in the lead cast in a movie. And that was pretty exciting. The premiere was really successful at Tribeca and we went to LA and London and Macau and it did really well. Continue reading

May 20

You’re Very Cute When You Say ‘Snacks’: A Virtual Presentation of “Eyes Shut. Door Open.”

A virtual presentation over Zoom 
May 18, 2020, 7:30PM
A fundraiser and awareness campaign for The Phoenix Sober Community
Please donate to the campaign HERE

Written by Cassie M. Seinuk
Directed by Christopher Randolph
Sound design by Patrick Greene
Turner played by Michael Underhill
Johanna played by Melissa deJesus
Palmer played by Eliott Purcell
Stage Directions by Alex Leondedis

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — I reviewed Eyes Shut. Door Open. four years ago at Warehouse XI in Somerville, MA. This response to the May 18 reading does not supersede the 2016 critique. It exists in addition to it. It is critical to examine theatre’s adaptation to online performance.

One of the new rules of Zooming is to make your bed. If you insist on streaming from your bedroom, make your bed. Anyone watching you is already judging you on your household aesthetics (or lack thereof). Inviting viewers into your bedroom means sharing an intimate part of you. They will imagine you in that naughtily unmade bed. They will see your unwashed sheets and rumpled comforter and judge your hygiene. Better to make your bed than to feed the trolls. Never feed the trolls.

Speaking of rules. Necessity is forcing actors to develop new techniques for online streaming. Monday’s performance of Eyes Shut. Door Open revealed some mighty useful technical skills in its performers and sound technician. There was a lot to learn from this reading. Continue reading

Mar 23

Book Release and Online Event:”There Must Be Happy Endings” by Megan Sandberg-Zakian is Released Today!

There Must Be Happy Endings: On Theatre of Optimism & Honesty
By Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Published by The 3rd Thing Press
Olympia, 2020
Available on Kickstarter with a $24.00 pledge
Paperback, 230 pages

LIVE ONLINE EVENT!
Megan Sandberg-Zakian in conversation with Melinda Lopez
March 23, 2020, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Free on the HowlRound website! More info below.
Event on
Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“An ending doesn’t have to be happy to be satisfying. A good ending, happy or not, draws a line around the experience of story hearing and telling. It picks the story up, holds it in its hands, and offers it out, whole. It gives us the opportunity for a collective breath. A good ending is honest: a boundary we can feel, the knowledgable edge of a reliable container. It is a ritual threshold between story and not-story.” 

— Megan Sandberg-Zakian, “There Must Be Happy Endings,” There Must Be Happy Endings: On Theatre of Optimism & Honesty, 2020.

Somerville, Mass — There Must Be Happy Endings by Megan Sandberg-Zakian is an exploration in the personal dramaturgy of the mind and spirit. In her first book of essays, the author takes a deep dive into the works that have made a lasting impression upon her. They are an extension of her need to share stories through theatre. Whether by quoting Homer, The Dark Knight or Annie, these essays draw the reader into the author’s personal story by circumnavigating the landscape of the greater western narrative. She tells us why happy ends are important and why they are especially important to her. Her title essay isn’t demanding sappy closure but commanding a divine right to culminate our narratives with an end to the suffering within them.  Continue reading

Mar 03

Open Door Theater presents “Into the Woods,” March 27 – April 5, 2020

Open Door Theater Presents “Into the Woods,” March 27 – April 5, 2020

Be careful what you wish for! Open Door Theater brings Into the Woods, the award-winning musical twist on beloved fairy tales, to the Dragonfly Theater in Acton, March 27 to April 5 at www.opendoortheater.org.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Originally Directed on Broadway by James Lapine
Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick

Open Door Theater of Acton’s enchanting production of Into the Woods will run March 27 – April 5 at the Dragonfly Theater at R.J. Grey Junior High, 16 Charter Road, Acton. A musical twist on beloved fairy tales, the story follows Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Jack (with his beanstalk), Witch, and Rapunzel as they meet in the woods and discover the true power of “I wish.”

Performances
Into the Woods will include ASL interpretation at three performances, open captioning at all performances, a Sensory Friendly/relaxed performance, and an audio-described performance.

Tickets can be purchased HERE.
Accessibility information can be found at this link.

Friday, March 27th at 7:00pm / ASL
Saturday, March 28th at 7:00pm / ASL
Sunday, March 29th at 1:00pm / ASL
Friday, April 3rd at 7:00pm
Saturday, April 4th at 1:00pm / sensory friendly Act I only
Saturday April 4th at 7:00pm / audio described
Sunday, April 5th at 1:00pm /

Over the company’s 40-year history, Open Door has provided opportunities for underserved audiences to enjoy live theater. Tickets are $15 and all seats are assigned. For tickets and show details visit www.opendoortheater.org.

Mar 02

100% That Witch: “Hansel & Gretel”

The “Hansel & Gretel” cast. C/o imaginary beasts on Facebook.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Written & directed by Matthew Woods
Additional text by the Ensemble: Laura Detwiler, Lauren Foster, Colin McIntire, Amy Meyer, Bob Mussett, Kiki Samko, Jamie Semel, Sivan Spector, Jennifer Taschereau, Matthew Woods
Puppets designed by Elizabeth Owens & Jill Rogati

Feb. 7 – March 1, 2020
The Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA
The beasts on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Charlestown, MA — The run of Winter Panto 2020: Hansel & Gretel by imaginary beasts ended on March 1. You are out of luck if you are reading this review now. It was wonderful! The cast’s acting talents were in excellent form because the script was chock full of boisterous puns and pop culture references. Scenery chewing extended to the audience just a little bit so as to rope all comers into the play’s antics. Best of all, the audience was game to interact with the show for the duration of the took the two-and-a-half-hour performance. If you watch the beastie website, you can catch them next year.  Continue reading

Feb 25

Honor Your Boundaries: “Hir”

Photo via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/apollinairetheatre/photos/a.59182456990/10156464525606991/?type=3&theater

Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
Written by Taylor Mac
Directed by Brooks Reeves

February 14 – March 8, 2020
Chelsea Theatre Works
Chelsea, MA
Apollinaire on Facebook

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

Chelsea, MA — This month, Apollonaire Theatre Company tackles Hir, Taylor Mac’s comedy of manners fixing  conservative against expansive American views on gender, class and sex.  It is understood, even in the writing, that quite a few of the concepts will cheerfully ride over the heads of the audience.  Advanced gender studies classes may not be enough of an education to appreciate the entire play, but the production unfolds for as more than just the text: with costume, set dressing, emotion, repetition, intonation and even art in the lobby to bolster meaning and heighten context.  At 120 minutes with a single intermission, the time passes quickly, but I do caution people who are sensitive to issues such as domestic violence, elder abuse, teen bullying, and post traumatic stress disorder to perhaps read a synopsis or steel themselves to potentially be triggered. Continue reading

Feb 24

Don’t Feed the Troll: “Deal Me Out”

Photo by Stratton McCrady; Rachel Belleman, Matthew Bretschneider, Hannah Beebe, Dev Blair, Caleb Cedrone

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Written by MJ Halberstadt
Directed by Shana Gozansky
Dramaturgy by Ally Sass

February 13 to March 1, 2020
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215
BPT on Facebook
Critique by Kitty Drexel

Boston, MA — We all know that one toxic person who refuses to go away: they show up everywhere, you grew up together, they were hired when the company first started, etc. No one in your circle wants to get singled out by kicking them to the curb. Instead, everyone brines in their own contempt because confronting Toxic Tilly might upset the barely tolerable status quo. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s Deal Me Out directly addresses the harm they do. Continue reading