Jan 08

Riveting Art: RED

Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo — with Thomas Derrah and Karl Baker Olson.

Red by John Logan,  Speakeasy Stage, Virginia Wimberly Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 1/6/12-2/4/14, http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=red.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) It’s one thing to pull off an entertaining melodrama, it’s quite another to stage a debate on art and make it captivating.  While the play Red may be too intellectual to be everyone’s cup of tea, it is engrossing, especially in this strong production staged by SpeakEasy.

The two-person play centers on renowned 20th century visual artist Mark Rothko (Thomas Derrah) and his first attempt to create a series of murals for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.  Continue reading

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Jan 04

Uncle Vanya’s House Party

John Kuntz as Uncle Vanya, Marissa Rae Roberts at Elena, Photos: Danielle Fauteux Jacques.

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov, Apollinaire Theatre Company, Chelsea Theatre Works, 12/29/11-1/22/12, http://www.apollinairetheatre.com/index.html.  Live gun fire in close proximity (blank gun)

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Chelsea, MA) It’s like being at your family’s holiday party, except for the relief that it’s not your family.  Words fly and passions rise as the audience travels from room to room glancing at the private moments of Vanya’s family.  Youth and beauty contrast with the harsh realities of country living as love and hope are thrown about bouncing from wall to wall.   Continue reading

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Dec 17

A Good-Hearted Mashup: What the Dickens?!

What the Dickens?! Music & Lyrics by Adam Brooks and TC Cheever; Book by TC Cheever, ImprovBoston, 12/15/11-12/23/11, http://www.improvboston.com/whatthedickens.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Cambridge, MA) The holiday season is littered with entertainment chestnuts that get trotted out every year.  Some can get worn thin, like poorer productions of A Christmas Carol; others take on a hipster status, like the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

If you want to enjoy two holiday traditions at once, come see What the Dickens?!, a mashup musical that populates Dickens’ classic Christmas morality tale with Schultz’s Peanuts characters.  Watching this play is like downing an invented drink mixed at a holiday party: the two flavors may mix curiously, but it’s all good.  Continue reading

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Dec 13

A Christmas Story: Resurrecting Americana for the Holidays

l. to r. Adam Freeman as Schwartz, Charlie Brodigan as Flick, Lexi Ryan as Esther Jane, and Andrew Cekala as Young Ralphie. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

A Christmas Story, adapted/written by Philip Grecian, New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 12/11/11-12/24/11, http://newrep.org/christmas_story.php.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA) Like the film it’s adapted from, the stage version of A Christmas Story paints a childhood spent during the holidays in a golden glow.  Yes, the flustered family of Ralphie (Andrew Cekala) meet nothing but frustrations as they try to pull Christmas together against mean-spirited neighborhood dogs, hideous bunny suits, and intimidating department store Santas, but their holiday is ultimately a nostalgic one. Continue reading

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Dec 11

Priscilla Dreams The Answer–And The Answer Is 42

The ensemble of Priscilla Dreams the Answer. Left to Right: Bob Mussett (Harry), Dakota Shepard (Zop), Caroline L. Price (Priscilla), Michael Caminiti (Simon), Emily Kaye Lazzaro (Zip). Photo Credit: Sarah E. Farbo

Priscilla Dreams The Answer by Walt McGough, Fresh Ink Theatre Company, The Factory Theatre, 12/8/11-12/17/11,  http://www.freshinktheatre.com/on-stage.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Douglas Adams would be proud of Walt McGough.  While Priscilla does not have to deal with a world that is already destroyed, she does have to find the answer to save both the Earth and another planet that has a close relationship with the Earth.  This clever and witty play takes the audience on a journey through space and time but never loses sight of the core humanity, which is the test of well-crafted science fiction. Continue reading

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Dec 10

Great Acting While on a Treadmill: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Photo Credit: Stratton McCrady

The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Davis Square Theatre, 12/7/11-1/1/12, http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/events/merry-wives-windsor-0.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville, MA) It’s one thing for a young theater troupe to be ambitious, but it’s something else to watch the troupe succeed in its ambition.

In its early history, the Actors’ Shakespeare Project has decided to skip the low-hanging fruit of the Bard’s body of work and reach for some of his more obscure works.  (Hands up for anyone who knows a single line from Troilus and Cressida, which the troupe performs in the spring.) Continue reading

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Dec 08

Hope Held ‘HIGH’

Sister Jamison Connolly (Kathleen Turner) and Cody Randall (Evan Jonigkeit) in HIGH, Photo credit: Lanny Nagler

High by Matthew Lombardo, Broadway National Tour, Cutler Majestic Theatre,

12/7/11-12/11/11,  http://www.highonbroadway.com/about.html.  Male nudity, mature language and themes

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA)  

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”  Madeleine L’Engle

How do we find strength and salvation in the middle of pain and suffering?   Everyone tries to hide from pain and many people try to protect others from the experience, but the inevitability of life is that human beings get hurt.  We try to breathe and “be strong”–to not let anyone see that we are falling apart.  What if we all admitted that we are not perfect–that there isn’t even one person out there that could be categorized by society’s standards as “normal”?  High offers no escape from that darkness that lies inside of all of us and calls us to either face our flaws or recede further into our own shame. Continue reading

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Dec 05

ChristmasTime Dazzles

Photo Credit: Reagle Music Theatre

ChristmasTime, Reagle Music Theatre, 12/3/11-12/11/11, http://www.reagleplayers.com/current.html.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Waltham, MA) The Reagle Theatre, for its Christmas pageant, does not settle on a few simple scenes followed by the solemn Nativity.

This production takes its audience to as many locales as possible: a Cathedral interior, Santa’s workshop, a busy Victorian street, and a digest version of the Nutcracker performed almost completely by ballet dancers in teddy bear suits.  Christmas Time is energetic, all-encompassing, and exhausting in its depiction of the holiday. Continue reading

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Nov 30

Three Viewings: Humor and Human Folly at the Graveside

Adrianne Krstansky as Virginia in Three Viewings. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Three Viewings by Jeffrey Hatcher, New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 11/27/11-12/18/11, http://newrep.org/three_viewings.php.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA) Three Viewings is the kind of theatrical outing that I cannot recommend highly enough, a play where writer Jeffrey Hatcher deftly and comically attempts to capture the variation and nuance of human nature. Continue reading

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Nov 28

The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) Review–SERIOUSLY!

Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor & Matt Rippy (L-R) Photo by Meghan Moore

The Ultimate Christmas Show by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, Reduced Shakespeare CompanyMerrimack Repertory Theatre, 11/25/11-12/18/11,  http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=110.  Contains scatological humor and some Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor flesh.   

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Lowell, MA)  They’re baaack!  Every so often, a rustle of popular culture floats through the air, gets put into the Reduced Shakespeare grinder and out comes some side-splitting fun.  At their east coast premiere of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), the Reduced Shakespeare Company exceeds expectations.  Blending holiday traditions from ancient times to modern, religious to secular, The Ultimate Christmas Show presents a jolly evening for anyone who can appreciate a little irreverence with sincere heart. Continue reading

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