Feb 18

The Merchant of Venice Pounds for Justice

(L to R) Trinity Rep resident company members Stephen Thorne, Rachael Warren and Brown/Trinity Rep MFA actor Mary C. Davis in The Merchant of Venice at Trinity Rep. A bold new setting brings to light the timelessness of Shakespeare’s controversial play. Directed by Artistic Director Curt Columbus, the show runs through March 11 in the Chace Theater. Set Design by Eugene Lee, Costume Design by Olivera Gajic, Lighting Design by Keith Parham. Photo by: Mark Turek.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, Trinity Repertory Company, 2/3/12-3/4/12, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/TN.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Providence, RI) . The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays but also one of his most satisfying. Shakespeare’s play examines the intricacies of love, loyalty, and ethics among the citizens of Venice. Trinity Rep’s current production provides a clear straightforward rendition of the tale.
Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Feb 16

Medea: Special Victims Unit – Corinth

Medea with Chorus, L to R: Sarah Newhouse*, Obehi Janice, Jennie Israel* & McCaela Donovan © 2012 Stratton McCrady Photography

Medea by Euripides, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, 2/8/12-3/4/12,  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/whats-new/medea.  Mature content.  Not recommended for children under 13.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Cambridge, MA) No one who watches Court TV or Law and Order can deny the pull of a good crime drama.  Even those who pretend to be indifferent or opposed to crime drama cannot help being drawn in (and for those who are still pretending that they don’t care, wasn’t that you who tweeted about the Casey Anthony trial all of those times?).  What may surprise audiences of Medea is that society hasn’t changed much in 4000 years.  Actors’ Shakespeare Project brings to life a Greek drama that examines the dark impulses and desires that haunt not only the “cultured” audiences from Greece’s Golden Age, but also the dark realities of our own society.

Before the play even starts, the audience is surrounded by an air of mystery and foreboding.   Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Apr 02

The Last Five Years: Tempestuous Love

(left to right) Aimee Doherty and Mark Linehan in The Last Five Years. Photo by Christopher McKenzie.

The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, New Repertory Theatre, 3/27/11-4/17/11, http://newrep.org/last_five.php.

by Becca Kidwell

Less than a week after Elizabeth Taylor’s death, what story could be more apropos than the tumultuous romance of  two artists?  Jason Robert Brown’s chamber musical about the conflict marriage and career examines the fallout of two people who meet in the middle but remain apart.  New Rep’s production of The Last Five Years delivers two masterful performances to a faulty libretto.

Aimee Doherty shows her versatility going Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Mar 22

Living in Exile: A War Story of Epic Proportions

Robert Walsh and Tamara Hickey; photo by Stratton McCrady c 2011

Living in Exile by Jon Lipsky, 3/17/11-3/27/11.  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

How do you fit the story of a ten year war into a night of entertainment?  First, take a familiar piece of material; second, get two talented actors; third, have Actor’s Shakespeare Project produce it.  Many students have struggled with The Illiad in school.  Jon Lipsky reinvents Homer’s story of the epic battle of Troy. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Mar 18

EDUCATING RITA: Laughing at Learning

Jane Pfitsch as Rita in Educating Rita, by Willy Russell, directed by Maria Aitken at the Huntington Theatre Company, 3/10/11 Set Design Allen Moyer Costume Design Nancy Brennan Lighting Design Joel E. Silver © T Charles Erickson photoshelter.com/c/tcharleserickson tcepix@comcast.net

Educating Rita by Willy Russell, Huntington Theatre Company, 3/11/11-4/10/11.  http://www.huntingtontheatre.org/ Herbal cigarettes smoked during the show.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

During my studies to become a teacher, I was told one of the movies that I should not see on education was Educating Rita.  I can understand some of the caution; I would not want to be a teacher like Frank, but the story does remind us of the pure joy of learning and the need for critical thinking.  Knowledge is more than expertise and understanding is more than results.  The Huntington’s production of Educating Rita reminds us that learning should not be at the cost of  of our individuality.

Being a perpetual student, Allen Moyer’s set had my “geeky sense” tingling–a room full of books and a sterile, air of pomposity–typical of a professor’s office.  The office also hides the desperate desire of Frank (played by Andrew Long) to pretend that he is still an academic although he has been jaded for years.  Life and renewed purpose enter Frank’s office in the form of Rita (played by Jane Pfitsch).   Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Mar 09

reasons to be pretty–Do these jeans make my butt look fat?

Greg (Andy Macdonald) confronts Carly (Danielle Muehlen) who is responsible for his break-up in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of Neil LaBute’s Broadway hit reasons to be pretty, Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

reasons to be pretty by Neil LaBute, Speakeasy Stage Company, 3/4/11-4/2/11.  http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=reasons Contains mature language.

Reviewed Becca Kidwell

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  When we get out of high school, we hope the teasing will stop; however, we find new forms of teasing in fashion magazines, tv shows, and hanging out with friends.  Have we become too sensitive?  No.  But where do we draw the line?  How do we stop feeling put down by the world and begin feeling secure in ourselves?  Speakeasy Stage Company’s production of reasons to be pretty by Neil LaBute makes us examine these questions through their dynamic production.

Anyone who knows about LaBute should not be too surprised by the tirade of expletives that open the play.  They will not be too surprised that the cause is Steph, played by Angie Jepson, who hears that her boyfriend Greg, played by Andy McDonald, has described her face as “regular”.  While it is an extreme reaction, we understand that it is akin to any answer to the question “do my jeans make my butt look fat?”  Andy McDonald plays a calm, normal guy who dodges the verbal missiles on all sides, but still ends up with Steph leaving him.  Angie Jepson’s belligerent performance is matched by the vulnerability she displays when Steph keeps returning to Greg for approval. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Mar 07

Yellowman: Shades of the Past

Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith, Trinity Repertory Company, 2/25/11-4/3/11.  http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/DM.php Contains mature language and themes

Resident acting company member Joe Wilson, Jr. as Eugene and Brown/Trinity Rep MFA actor Rachel Christopher ’11 as Alma in Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Laurie Carlos, now through April 3 at Trinity Rep. Set design by Seitu Jones, costume design by William Lane and lighting design by Michael Wangen. (photo: Mark Turek)

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

“We hate everything we are told to hate until we realize it is us, ourselves, a new baby just had as we lower her into the well.”  Laurie Carlos, Director

Are we the products of our past?  As if being birthed from their own parents’ hatred, Rachel Christopher as Alma and Joe Wilson, Jr. as Eugene enter to rhythmic breathing and begin to tell their separate, yet intermingling stories of their lives. Under the direction of Laurie Carlos, Trinity Rep creates an evening of dance and poetry–of lives brought together–and torn apart.

Alma is raised by her mother Odelia who passes on her ingrained hatred of being dark-skinned.  Alma complains about being fat and big, but even in childhood Eugene is attracted to her.  Eugene grows up being hated for his light-skin by many Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Mar 05

What’s Happening at the Boston Lyric Opera: Agrippina

(copy of press release–working on article about opera, but it will not be ready by the time their show starts & I want you to have the information)

Oh, the depravity!
Boston Lyric Opera goes Baroque with elegant, insidious Agrippina

Caroline Worra stars in satire of the fall of the Roman Empire, opening March 11

Production features three countertenors: Anthony Roth Costanzo,
David Trudgen and José Alvarez

WHAT: Witness the ultimate stage mother have a major melt-down in one of opera’s most intense “mad scenes,” as she plots to make her son Nero Emperor of Rome in BLO’s production of Handel’s fast-paced Agrippina. This light and frothy opera with insidious undertones is based in historical fact, weaving the twisted tale of a mother’s desperate scheme to remove her husband from the throne and elevate her spoiled teenage son…creating a complicated intrigue of shifting alliances and turning the Imperial court into a nest of elegant vipers.

This classical yet modern production, created by Glimmerglass and New York City Opera, features exciting debuts and is the third in BLO’s 2010-2011 Season; it will be presented at the Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre. Three countertenors, a five-piece continuo group and an elevated orchestra pit built specifically for the production will immerse the audience in a uniquely Baroque experience. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Nov 09

THE FARCE IS WITH HIM: An Interview with Brian McEleney

www.trinityrep.com

pictured (left to right): Fred Sullivan Jr., Brian McEleney, Anne Scurria and Mauro Hantman in Twelfth Night, directed by Brian McEleney at Trinity Rep. Set designs by Eugene Lee, costumes by William Lane, lighting by John Ambrosone. (Photo: Mark Turek)

by Becca Kidwell

In these harsh economic times, it is difficult to imagine having the same job at the same company for twenty-six years.  It is even more difficult to imagine having a theatre job for longer than the run of one show.  Brian McEleney of Trinity Rep has done both.  This year, he continues his joyful romp through life as director of Trinity Rep’s productions of Absurd Person Singular and The Crucible and actor in The Completely Fictional—Utterly True—Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe.

Although he did a few plays in high school, it was not until college when he started to think about a theatrical career.  As a senior at Trinity College (where one of his classmates was Anne Scurria—now a fellow company member), McEleney was accepted to Yale and “that convinced me that this could be a serious career, and I’ve done almost nothing else ever since.”  He first taught at Princeton University and The Bread Loaf School of English.  Since 1981, he has taught at Trinity Rep and is currently the head of acting for the Brown/Trinity M.F.A. Program.

With successful productions both in acting and directing, I ask him which he prefers:

“Hard to say which I like more; it’s kind of like asking which of your children is your favorite…  However, preproduction work as a director is tremendous fun — thinking about the play, imagining what the production should look and feel like, finding big ideas that will tie the whole thing together.  And also, when you’re directing, the dreaded labor of learning lines isn’t an issue.  However, after the play opens you’re pretty much done.  As an actor, I love the performing aspect — the fact that you get to do it eight times a week that you get a new chance every day to make it better and deeper.  I love the athletic aspect of acting that you always have to be doing your absolute best and giving the play to a new audience every night.” Continue reading

Share with Your Audience