Oct 29

Songs of Ice and Fire: “Brother Nat”

Presented by The Boston Foundation
Book and Lyrics by Jabari Asim and Liana Asim
Music by Allyssa Jones
Music Director Damien Sneed

October 25, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orange Stage
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA  02111
Brother Nat on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) American history is black history, is slave history. It is a history that demonstrates the deepest stoicism and power of humanity. Beaten and chained, stripped of everything, Black American slaves formed communities tighter than blood, turned lifetimes of suffering into exquisite song, and used song to rise above, revolt against injustice, and redeem all humanity. Nat Turner’s Rebellion was a point of inflection in our nation’s story, which swung the course of history toward freedom and salvation. A grand opera is needed to deliver this epic. No other medium could do justice.  Continue reading

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Dec 25

Close to a Classic: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Photo: Mark Linehan* & Erin Brehm. Credit: David Costa.

Photo: Mark Linehan* & Erin Brehm. Credit: David Costa.

presented by Stoneham Theatre

adapted for the stage and directed by Weylin Symes

395 Main St. Stoneham, MA
November 23rd through December 23rd, 2012
Stoneham Theatre Facebook Page

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Stoneham) In an interview in Time Magazine, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar once quipped that every mistake he made in his first film became his signature “style” in subsequent ones. The holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t stand the test of time because it is perfect, but because of its many flaws. It is a holiday redemption story told by director Frank Capra at his most moody, and one can see why it bombed in its inaugural run at the movie houses. The script moves in a disjointed style, with a biblical fable serving as tacked-on bookends to a dark meditation on inequality in America. If not for Capra’s bold and technically-accomplished direction and the performance of a lifetime by Jimmy Stewart, the movie would be a laugher by now.

Stoneham Theatre’s staging of Weylin Symes’ theatrical adaption of Capra’s screenplay may have seemed like a safe end-of-year choice, and crowds have come in droves to see the spirited production, but this is as difficult a script as some of Shakespeare’s obscure works, and director Caitlin Lowans fails to navigate this production around many pitfalls. If not for Mark Linehan’s heart-on-sleeve performance as the desperate George Bailey and near-universal knowledge of the iconic storyline, this staging would have derailed. Continue reading

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Sep 24

Half-Baked Silliness: LUMBERJACKS IN LOVE

Photo Credit: Carla Donaghey.

BOOK AND LYRICS BY: Fred Alley
MUSIC BY: James Kaplan
STORY BY: Fred Alley & James Kaplan

presented by Stoneham Theatre
Stoneham, MA
September 13th – 30th, 2012
Stoneham Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Stoneham) There is nowhere to hide with a new musical. Unlike a fresh drama, where an audience can be tricked into going along if there’s enough shouting, as soon as an actor opens her mouth to start singing, the audience can tell whether the song enhances or detracts from the plot, usually with disastrous results. Continue reading

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Nov 27

The Nutcracker: Reinventing Sugar Plum Fairies with Sugar Plum Cookies

Toys standing on left (L-R): Alycia Sacco (as doll Phoebe), Grant MacDermott (as Monkey), Nick Sulfaro (as Hugo); Seated on right (L-R): Danny Bryck (as Fritz), Sirena Abalian (as Clara). Stoneham Theatre's "The Nutcracker" is directed by Caitlin Lowans. All photographs taken by Carla Donaghey.

The Nutcracker as imagined The House Theatre of Chicago, based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffman, book by Phillip Klapperich and Jake Minton, music by Kevin O’Donnell, lyrics by Jake Minton, Stoneham Theatre, 11/25/11-12/22/11, http://www.stonehamtheatre.org/holidayshows2011.html.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Stoneham, MA) With a contemporary setting and opening scenes that take place at a Christmas party, Stoneham Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker” promises to be a modern update of the classic E.T.A. Hoffman children’s book and eventual ballet by Tchaikovsky.  A sudden chill interrupts the family scene when it’s announced that Fritz (Danny Bryck), the older brother of Clara (Sirena Abalian), has died while serving in the military.

In the fallout of this tonal shift, the party guests dispose of the Christmas tree like pallbearers taking away a coffin.  The core members of the family, including parents Meagan Hawkes and Mark Linehan, continue to grieve.  From there, the original story is used as a springboard for Clara to deal with the loss of her brother. Continue reading

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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

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