Dec 19

Light and Frothy Secular Fun: “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”

IBWC National Tour Company. Jeremy Daniel Photography, 2017. *Includes Makayla Joy Connolly

Presented by Work Light Productions
Based on the 1954 film “White Christmas by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner
Music directed by Michael Horsley

Boch Center Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St
Boston, MA
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Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is the secular, heteronormative Christmas musical I didn’t know I needed to see the season. I was in a grumpy mood when last night. I was feeling so grinchy that I could have abandoned my theatre plans to don a furry, green unitard and guide an empty sleigh drawn by a single, overworked pup into the Boston streets. My mood was foul when the curtain rose. But, by the time the curtain went down, I was chipper with the holiday spirit. The dancing and singing in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is so infectiously charming that I had no choice but be swept into a better mood. Continue reading

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Dec 18

Depth of Understanding: “Moby Dick”


Presented by American Repertory Theater
Music, Lyrics, Book, and Orchestrations by Dave Malloy
Based on Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Music Direction and Supervision by Or Matias
Choreography by Chanel DaSilva
Developed with and Directed by Rachel Chavkin

December 3, 2019 – January 12, 2020
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Cambridge, MA) Moby-Dick, as director Rachel Chavkin said when talking about multihyphenate writer Dave Malloy, attempts to formally “capture Melville’s eclecticism”. The novel Moby-Dick has a chapter as a play, another as a poem, and wraps the tale of an ill-fated drive for vengeance alongside descriptions of whale types, and the many ways one can prepare and eat a whale. Continue reading

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Dec 17

An Apocalyptic “Parade”

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Alfred Uhry
Directed by Jason Modica
Music direction by Catherine Stornetta
Choreography by Kira Troilo
Costume Design by Chelsea Kerl
Set Design by Lindsay Genevieve Fuori
Lighting Design by Steve Shack

Performance dates: Dec 15 – Dec 28, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, Roberts Theatre, 527 Tremont St., Boston: 
Facebook link

Review by Chloé Cunha

(Boston, MA) “Where will you stand when the flood comes?” An angry mob asks the ominous question, and Parade gives little comfort in its answer. Moonbox Production’s staging offers an apocalyptic vision of the past and present, with little optimism for the future. It’s a dizzying tale well-told, but the bleakness it offers may be tough to swallow in the present day when hope feels increasingly scarce. Continue reading

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Dec 16

A Response to “Tuck Everlasting” at The Umbrella Stage Company

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company
Based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt
Book by Claudia Shear & Tim Federle
Music by Chris Miller
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis
Music direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Lara Finn Banister

December 6 – 22, 2019
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742
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Response by Kitty Drexel

(Concord, MA) I have wrestled with my response to the Umbrella Stage Company’s production of Tuck Everlasting. Writing this essay has been difficult. I do not publish these words lightly. It hurts my heart to do so. But, out of love for those who may be negatively impacted by this musical, I must. It is more important to protect children than it is to be polite.

Interpretations of art change over time. The innocuous children’s literature of a previous generation can serve as a clear warning signal to this one. Times have changed. Tuck Everlasting is no longer just a story about living life to its fullest. It is now also a story about predatory grooming and the community that would have excused the predatory behavior as normal.

Tuck Everlasting the musical is about the predatory grooming of a minor. In it, Jesse Tuck, a 102-year-old adult (sexual) predator who looks 17-years-old, meets pre-pubescent, 11-year-old girl Winnie Foster in the wilds of an NH forest. He begins grooming her for marriage while she is removed from parental oversight.

Winnie gets away from Jesse by chance because of an altercation with a gun. She is not saved by parental or community interference. She is not saved by her clever mind or spunky attitude. She is saved by chance.

Out of respect to the hardworking cast and crew of Everlasting Tuck, I cannot delve into the performative details of this musical. I am finding it impossible to separate their work from the context of the production.In any other context, I would happily sing their praises.  I apologize for this.

Everlasting Tuck could start a conversation about how predators groom children as well as communities. Unfortunately, the conversations I overheard at the theatre on Saturday afternoon told me that the audience instead took a hard left at discussing this necessary topic. It is not more important to congratulate hardworking friends than it is to point out social evils.

I understand why no one was saying anything; no one wants to be the bad guy by pointing out the obvious dangers in the room. I don’t mind incurring blame if it means children are protected from sexual predators like the White Rhino Report’s Al Chase and Boston Children’s Theatre’s Burgess Clark. Communities enable predatory grooming by ignoring the signs and making excuses instead.

A lot of grooming looks normal from the outside. It is up to a community to notice the signs of predatory behavior and put a stop to them. I’ve listed resources to help identify it below.

Community politics are not more important than protecting children. I did not speak up when I was a little girl involved in a poisonous theatre production. I am speaking up now.

Resources:

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Dec 06

The Joy and Sadness of “Oliver!”

The cast of Oliver! Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Lionel Bart
Directed and Choreographed by Michael J. Bobbitt
Music Direction by Sariva Goetz

December 2-29, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
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Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Watertown, MA) From before this show began, I was in high spirits. En route to the theater, the soundtrack played in my mind. Once at the Mosesian Center for the Arts hall, surrounded by the gorgeous set, I paused – nervous about my ability to give an impartial review. I have fallen in love with and seen the 1968 movie rendition umpteenth times. I did not have much to worry about though, even as I anticipated lines, reacted to choreography or held my breath through differences between the stage version and screenplay. Continue reading

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Dec 04

“Luminarium In Concert” Playing December 6 & 7

Presented by Luminarium Dance Company
December 6 & 7, 2019
Multicultural Arts Center
41 Second Street
Cambridge MA
Luminarium on Facebook
Tickets starting at $18

Announcing Luminarium’s 2019 Feature Production

LUMINARIUM IN CONCERT

(Cambridge, MA) Luminarium Dance Company triumphantly ends its 2019 Season with its feature production LUMINARIUM IN CONCERT—a melding of contemporary, Odissi, and unique lighting that catapults live performance to a whole new level. Venture into Luminarium’s world of movement and light where fanciful animals are brought to life through shadow-play; witness the exhilaration of combat sport beyond the ring; sink into the luscious imagery of a new screendance film; and delight in an amusing and provocative examination of “self,” all in a night’s work.

LUMINARIUM IN CONCERT features Company Members Jessica Chang, Devon Colton, Melenie Diarbekirian, Merli V. Guerra, Amy Mastrangelo, Katie McGrail, and Jennifer Roberts, and Satellite Company Members Victoria Kreutzer and Karina McKenna.

DECEMBER 6 & 7 @ 8PM
Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second Street, Cambridge MA.

RUN TIME
Roughly one hour, including intermission.

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Nov 26

Be Old Until You Are Young: “Quixote Nuevo”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company in association with Hartford Stage and Alley Theatre
A reimagining of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
By Octavio Solis
Directed by KJ Sanchez
Compositions and sound design by David R. Molina
Other compositions by Eduardo Robledo
Music direction by Jesse Sanchez
Fight direction by Ted Hewlett
Vocal and dialect coaching by Robert Ramirez
Dramaturgy by J. Sebastián Alberdi

Nov. 15 – Dec. 8, 2019
HUNTINGTON AVENUE THEATRE, 264 HUNTINGTON AVENUE
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Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) It’s only three days until Thanksgiving! So let me take this opportunity to remind you, dearest reader, that the very land you stand on was stolen by colonizers from Native American tribes. Quixote Nuevo takes place on the Mexican-American border. The US is currently keeping the children of immigrants in cages at that border. Their parents aren’t much better off. When you see this production, and you should because it is excellent, please consider the role colonizers and their progeny (us) have played in putting the land’s indigenous peoples behind bars. Continue reading

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Nov 25

The More Things Stay The Same: “An Iliad”


Presented by ArtsEmerson: A Homer’s Coat Production In Association with Octopus Theatricals
Written By Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare
Based on Homer’s Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Starring Denis O’Hare
Bassist: Eleonore Oppenheim

November 20 – 24, 2019
Emerson Paramount Center Robert J Orchard Stage
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Boston, MA) In pre show moments, I wondered about the cluttered stage and oppressive light fixture prominently placed stage left. I worried that I would need to shield my eyes if it remained. Then An Iliad began and its purpose clarified with a wash of sound and light cues that left our star, Denis O’Hare, in its wake. One of many instances that proved I had no need to worry. Continue reading

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Nov 19

Forge Theater Lab presents “Chasing the Ghost,” December 7 – 14, 2019


CHASING THE GHOST
A New Play by Ashley Lauren Rogers
Presented by Forge Theater Lab
Directed by Samantha deManbey
Dramaturgy by Natalie Scott

December 7, 13, and 14 at 8:00 PM
December 8 at 2:00 PM
December 12 at 6:30 PM (Pay What You Can)

Wallace Theater for Performing Arts
McKay Building at Fitchburg State University

67 Rindge Road, Fitchburg, MA
$15 General / $5 Students & Seniors (60+)
Buy tickets online or pay cash at the door

About the Play: Kurt, a vlogger in the early days of YouTube who used to scream about video games, is married to Patty, a struggling vampire romance author. While Kurt has left that life behind him, anger and all, their relationship will be put to the test when one night he is visited by a shadow person…who won’t stop tickling his feet.

​This play is not recommended for children under 14 because of profanity and disturbing situations.

Featuring Charles Amaral, Noah Dawson, Amy DeMar-DuBois, Brittany Messuri, Leeann Monat, Austin Swallow, and Cheyenne Winley. Lighting design by Phillip T. Smith.

Chasing the Ghost is made possible by a generous donation from show sponsor Justin Nelson.

More information about the artists and the production can be found at https://www.theforgetheaterlab.org/chasing-the-ghost.html.

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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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