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

Dec 06

There’s No Remedy for Fascism: “Man of La Mancha”

The cast; photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Book by Dale Wasserman
Music by Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Original production staged by Albert Marre
Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman
Music direction by David Reiffel
Movement direction by Judith Chaffee

Dec. 1 – 24, 2017
Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) There were children in attendance the night I saw this production. Please note that while no one is ever undressed and strong language is avoided, MoLM does approach adult themes. Parents unwilling to discuss why a cowardly group of adult men with rage issues would rape a woman because their feelings were hurt should not bring their kids to this musical. Kids the answer is: they do it because they can.

New Rep’s production of Man of La Mancha is excellent. Get your tickets right now. Continue reading

Dec 04

Do Better: “Nurse Play”

Photo from Exiled Theatre’s Facebook page.

Presented by Exiled Theatre
By James Wilkinson
Directed by Joe Juknievich
Movement direction by Kayleigh Kane

Dec. 1 – 17, 2017
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
Exiled Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The days of casting the able-bodied to play a disabled person are nearly at an end. We aren’t there yet. While it is unacceptable to cast a white person to play a person of color, it is still marginally acceptable to cast an abled person in the role of a disabled character. Boston has many working actors that identify as seeing impaired. Should a theatre decide to cast an abled person in the role of a disabled character, it behooves the theatre to make it abundantly clear to the audience/disabled community that great pains were taken to either cast from the disabled community, or that the disabled community representative was consulted in the production of the play. Anything less is offensive. Continue reading

Nov 28

Love Can’t Afford to be Afraid: “Tartuffe”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Co.
By Moliere
Translated by Ranjit Bolt
Directed by Peter DuBois
Choreography by Daniel Pelzig
Original music by Peter Golub
Fight direction by Ted Hewlett

Nov. 10 – Dec. 10, 2017
Avenue of the Arts
Huntington Avenue Theatre
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) If you haven’t seen #metoo then it’s likely you’ve been under a proverbial rock. Female and male victims of sexual assault rallied their cry in solidarity with the women accusing Harvey Weinstein of years of criminal misconduct. Weinstein is a pig enabled by others so focused on their own careers/pocketbooks that they wouldn’t stop him. Whether intentional or not, the Huntingington’s Tartuffe is a reflection of the news cycle. In our own backyard, Berklee School of Music harbored rapist professors. “Good” men can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves.   Continue reading

Nov 27

A Broadway Revival of “The Color Purple”

Presented by the Boch Center 
Book Written by Alice Walker
Musical Adapted by Marsha Norman
Music by Brenda Russell and Allee Willis

November 21st – December 3rd, 2017
Church up in Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA
The Color Purple on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

“I believe…as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  -C.S. Lewis

(Downtown Boston, Massachusetts) Dear stars and dear trees:  For all of my life, I’d been closeted about my consumption of musicals.  But after witnessing the musical revival of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Celie and Sophie have officially folded me into musical theatre, and I want to stay swaddled in the feeling of this lively genre.  I can tell I am swooning over this Broadway show the way all firsts captivate you – your first kiss, your first live music concert, your first adult job, and your first Broadway musical.    Continue reading

Nov 20

Adapt or Perish: “3Sisters”

The sisters Prozorov. Photo by Stratton McCrady

Presented by the Suffolk University Theatre Dept.
Inspired by the play by Anton Chekhov
Adapted and directed by Robert Kropf

Nov. 16-19, 2017
Modern Theatre
Boston, MA 02111
Modern Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Script adaptations are like staged, audience-ready fanfiction. In a Boston Sunday Globe article by Sandy MacDonald from August 2017, director and writer Robert Kropf explained that he adapts works to bypass the laws preventing him (and anyone) from making edits. The laws are frustrating but necessary to protect a playwright’s work. If the author is extremely dead, such as Anton Chekhov, it’s difficult to know what his original intentions for a work were without thoroughly researching first. Continue reading

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
MRT on Facebook

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

Nov 14

Misstep: “42nd Street”

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Music by HARRY WARREN
Lyrics by AL DUBIN
Book by MICHAEL STEWART & MARK BRAMBLE
Based on the Novel by BRADFORD ROPES
Original Direction and Dances by GOWER CHAMPION

October 31st – November 12th, 2017
North Shore Music Theatre
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) In the mood for regressive theater that features outstanding tap dancing? If you can stomach a musical with a thin plot that celebrates a time when there was no such thing as sexual harassment, then 42nd Street: The Musical is your show! You will have to try hard to find a script that is as nostalgic for the pre-Harvey Weinstein show business era as this one. It’s a revival of a revival of a 1980 play based on a 1933 movie which was designed to help people remember a time before the Great Depression. Continue reading

Nov 06

It Starts in the Home: “3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show”

Wesley T. Jones, Vienna Carroll, Michael Bryan; Photo credits: David Marshall

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Conceived and written by James Scruggs
Directed by Mark Rayment

Nov. 3-11, 2017
Nicholas Martin Hall
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show reclaims appropriated Black culture so to spit racism into the faces of oppressors. It’s beautiful and horrifying. Potential audience members please be aware that 3/Fifths’ contains nudity, graphic violence, and the unvarnished, unadulterated truth of what it is to be a Black man in America. Gunshots and police video are used because violence is our legacy and our future. 3/Fifths’ is a mirror showing us who we already are. Continue reading

Nov 03

Art within Cultural Context: “Kiss”

Kiss presented by ArtsEmerson
Written by Guillermo Calderón
Directed by David Dower

October 26 – November 19, 2017
Emerson Paramount Center՚s Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre
Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Holly Goss

(Boston, MA) Kiss is a play within a play that tells the story of a zealous young theatre group՚s gross misinterpretation of a Syrian play called Kiss. These naive and fresh-faced actors, come up against a nasty dose of realism when they learn what Kiss really means. However the play falls apart when the cast try to diligently apply their new knowledge, to re-perform this seemingly simple love story and reveal the true horror of the war lurking underneath. This second performance falls flat and fails to deliver the big twist the audience anticipate. Kiss tackles a breadth of themes, the war in Syria, the importance of cultural context, the purpose of art. However, the writing is ultimately overly ambitious and is unable to get to the heart of these important questions. Continue reading