Jan 21

Excuses Are Not Explanations:”Haroun and the Sea of Stories”

Photo by Clive Grainger.

Presented by Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Composed by Charles Wuorinen
Libretto by James Fenton
Conducted and stage direction by Gil Rose, Artistic Director

January 19, 2019
Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory
Boston, MA
BMOP on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The opera Haroun and the Sea of Stories is based on Iranian author Salman Rushdie’s magical realism novel of the same title. This cast has an awful lot of white people in it for an allegorical opera set in the subcontinent of imaginary India. What an opera set in India about fictional Indians and their nonhuman, non-colonizer friends demands is actual Indians. Asian erasure is unacceptable in an art form bursting at the seams with underpaid, overeager POC* artists. Such casting means that disappointed POC audience members leave at intermission just like the lovely couple next to me quietly did on Saturday night. Opera is killing itself by failing to include the very people it seeks to serve with such casting decisions.    Continue reading

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Jan 08

Awkwardness is Part of the Process: “Small Mouth Sounds”

All photos by Nile Scott Studios. The cast. Digesting.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
By Bess Wohl
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

Jan. 4 – Feb. 2, 2019
Boston Center for the Arts
The Calderwood Pavilion Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook

This critique has been updated from its previous posting. The update includes corrections and clarifications. (1/31/19 KD)

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: penis, simulated pot smoking, heavy moaning

It’s January and chances are that you (or your acquaintances) are experiencing an influx of athletic practitioners in your studio of choice. For example, at my own neighborhood ashtanga yoga studio, January 1 meant that the floor became overwhelmed with novices and their wholesome, divot-free mats. Small Mouth Sounds(SMS) captures that awkward group consciousness of baby-yogis talking first “did I make a huge mistake?” steps towards enlightenment. An enlightened mind is not obtained overnight. The journey is schadenfreude for the audience. Continue reading

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Dec 10

Ethos of Old World fables: “A Story Beyond”

Presented by Liars & Believers
Written by Jason Slavick and Rachel Wiese
Music and Lyrics by Nathan Leigh
Directed by Jason Slavick and Faye Dupras

Dec 6 – Dec 22, 2018
Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Liars & Believers on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu 

(Boston, MA) A Story Beyond is a reimagined fable inspired by various European folklores. This new musical tells the story of a young girl, Maya, who makes a dangerous and fantastical journey to figure out how to save her village from a dark cloud that threatens to turn everyone she loves into lead. Maya’s story is told through puppets, shadow puppets, mask theatre, and a two-person band. Other folk tales are interwoven with the main plot like a Spokane. Continue reading

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Dec 10

Identities on a Spectrum: “Winter People”

Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky; there wasn’t a cast photo available. Mondragon was left out of the reel altogether. Strange.  

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
By Laura Neill
Directed by Avital Shira
Fight choreography by Jessica Scout Malone
Dramaturgy by Cayenne Douglass and Jordyn Stoessel

December 6-16, 2018
BPT
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
BPT on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Winter People and playwright Laura Neill aren’t taking any of your establishment bullshit. This play challenges how we view play production. It takes great risk with even greater success. It is well written and should be viewed by as many developing and established artists as possible. It breaks rules and shows us why these traditional rules are should be broken. Continue reading

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Dec 07

An Inalienable Right for Some: “1776”

Photo by Andy Brilliant/Brilliant Photography

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Book by Peter Stone
Co-directed by Austin Pendleton and Kelli Edwards
Music direction by Todd C. Gordon
Choreography by Kelli Edwards

Nov. 30 – Dec. 30, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: systemic racism, sexism, bracingly tight pleather pants

(Watertown, MA) 1776 is a quirky, innuendo-laced musical about Boston’s part in the US’s bid for independence. New Rep gives us a fun production that is more timely than it is educational. This musical might be based on historical facts but this production brings new momentum to current events. Continue reading

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Dec 04

“Twelfth Night” Thrums with Life

L to R: Sarah Gazdowicz (OIivia), Charlotte Kinder (Viola); Photo Credit: Sharman Altshuler

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Allison Olivia Choat

Nov 25 – Dec 29, 2018
Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Moonbox Productions on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) There are productions of Shakespeare that are focused on reciting the text rather than acting it out. I understand the temptation. Maybe it’s the rhythm, maybe it’s the Bard’s reputation as, well, THE BARD, but sometimes theater groups seem to engage with Shakespeare’s comedy as a text to worship rather than a story to tell, even with a comedy like Twelfth Night. I’m happy to say Moonbox Production not only engages with the high emotions, cartoonish confusion, and whacky consequences of the comical cross-dressing romance but celebrates the story and its jokes with delight. Continue reading

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Dec 03

Castaway Caught in Colonialist Fantasy in “Shipwrecked!”

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Written by Donald Margulies
Original music composed and performed by Dan Rodriguez and the repertory cast
Directed by Allison Olivia Choat

Nov 25 – Dec 29
Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Moonbox Productions on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Halfway through Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, when Louis de Rougemont (Kevin Cirone)–a real person who claimed to have been stranded in the Pacific in his 1899 serial-turned-book–lives on an unspecified island in a carefree existence with an unspecified, idealized indigenous people who variously refer to him as “chief” or “god,” I thought I’d be writing a very different review. But the lively depiction of a “man-eating octopus” and “flying wombats” early in the show should have tipped me off. This is a narrative that pokes holes in itself, a comedy-drama, a man using a survivor’s unlikely colonialist narrative to build his self-worth, and a story about the stories we tell ourselves to feel better. Continue reading

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Dec 01

Salty Peanuts: “A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage”

Image found via Facebook

Presented by Boch Center Schubert Theatre
Story by Charles M. Schultz
Music by Vince Guaraldi
Adapted by Eric Schaeffer

Dec. 1-2, 2018
265 Tremont, Boston, MA 02116
CB on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) The CBS television special A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered in 1965, has long been a holiday favorite of mine. Before I understood its sophisticate themes or even its dialogue, the adorable cartoons, slow jazz, and children’s voices were instinctively and irresistibly soothing. Decades later, Charlie Brown’s dark horse demeanor and romantic ideals still hold up as a paragon of optimism in a world that makes it so easy become disenchanted and give up our hopes and dreams.

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Nov 19

Lived A Girl Trapped: “In the Forest, She Grew Fangs”

Photo by Tenneh Sillah. With Kira Compton and Branwyn Ritchie.

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
By Stephen Spotswood
Directed by Kelly Smith
Movement design by Jessica Stout Malone

Nov. 16 – Dec. 2, 2018
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
AKAT on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) In the Forest, She Grew Fangs twists the Little Red Riding Hood cautionary tale about the dangers of strange men into a different cautionary tale about the dangers of female mental health. Fans of horror theatre may find a lot to enjoy in this production. Intersectional feminists might not. ITFSGF explores the modern young woman’s psyche as she comes of age. It does so through the lens of bullying culture and a little light stabbing. Continue reading

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Nov 19

“WET: A DACAmented Journey.” A Lucid Dreamer Speaks.


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Produced by Cara Mía Theatre & Ignite/Arts Dallas
Written and Performed by Alex Alpharaoh
Directed by Brisa Areli Muñoz

November 8-25, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Boston, MA    02111
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) Alex Alpharaoh’s one-man show is a captivating fusion of poetry and play. Alpharaoh transforms from character to character, suspense to comic relief with shape-shifter ease, never missing a stanza as he leads the audience through his onstage persona, Anner’s, ceaseless real-life struggles as an undocumented person in the US. Even traveling to see his dying grandfather for the first and last time is a life-threatening ordeal. It’s not life-or-death, but life as you know it-or-an undiscovered country certainly feels like comparable stakes. Continue reading

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