May 05

The Politics of Punching Down: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Jennifer Ellis, Robert St. Laurence*, Kate Klika, Phil Tayler, Jared Troilo*, Lori L’Italien, Aimee Doherty*, Todd McNeel, Jr., Leigh Barrett*. Photo by Mark S. Howard.

Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Steven Lutvak
Book and Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Music Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Larry Sousa

April 15 – May 22, 2022
Lyric Stage Company
40 Clarendon St
Boston, MA
Tickets

Critique by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

BOSTON, Mass. — Laughter is never neutral. Whiteness is never neutral. A comedy of manners might stake the claim that farce is some great, humanizing equalizer, but humor is inherently directional: someone is always doing the laughing, and something, or someone, is always being laughed at.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which won the Tony in 2014 for Best Musical, is vague about its directionality. Ostensibly, we’re laughing at the hypocritical mores of upper crust Edwardian England, but we’re just as often prompted to laugh at, for example, effeminate men, hyper-feminine women, or the “exotic” peoples suffering under the thumb of colonialism offstage. Continue reading

Mar 25

We Know You Can Dance to the Beat: An Interview with Brian Boruta about Umbrella Stage’s “Head Over Heels”

Presented by Umbrella Stage
Adapted by James Magruder
Concept and Original Book by James Whitty
Music by The Go-Go’s
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by David Wright
Choreography by Lara Finn

April 15 – May 8, 2022 (no performance 4/17)
Presented on the Main Stage
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742

Interview by Kitty Drexel

CONCORD, Mass. — The Umbrella Stage returns to performances this April with Head Over Heels. Brian Boruta generously chatted with me on Friday, March 18 about the musical, gender politics, and The Go Go’s. 

This interview is condensed. It has been edited for grammar, congruity, and clarity. 

Queen Kitty: It’s awesome that you’re starting with Head Over Heels. Why this show now?

Brian Boruta: It’s funny; I think about this show now, because we had chosen this show earlier than now. Then things all got moved around.

We moved, a couple of years ago, to a committee-based approach to season planning. As we were coming out of the pandemic, it was really important that as many voices and perspectives as possible be included in program planning. 

One thing that came to the fore in that conversation was finding ways throughout the season coming out of the pandemic to just celebrate joy in many forms, to celebrate love, to amplify different marginalized voices throughout the season. Head Over Heels really popped out as that title that we could put towards the end of the season that celebrates joy, celebrates love, and celebrates community.  Continue reading

Jun 10

Fate from a Fish Called Olga: “chekhovOS /an experimental game/”

chekhovOS /an experimental game/: Pretty in pink

chekhovOS /an experimental game/
Presented by Arlekin’s Zero Gravity (zero-G) Lab & The Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation
Inspired by The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
Conceived & Directed by Igor Golyak
Produced by Igor Golyak & Sara Stackhouse
Starring Jessica Hecht, and Anna Baryshnikov, Anna Bortnik, Darya Denisova, Jeffrey Hayenga, Melanie Moore, Nael Nacer & Mark Nelson
Mikhail Baryshnikov as playwright Anton Chekhov
Program slides are HERE (scroll down)

May 16 – June 24, 2021
Streamed over Zoom
Tickets are HERE
Arlekin Players on Facebook 

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Wheel of Morality turn, turn, turn/Tell us the lesson that we should learn.” – Yakko Warner, The Animaniacs  

ZOOM — Science fiction is now in black and white Chekhovian color streaming to an internet tool near you. chekhovOS /an experimental game/ only has a few more performances, so check it out before it disappears forever

There is a brief segment in the Animaniacs cartoon franchise called “The Wheel of Morality” that pokes fun at both game shows and cartoon shows that teach morality while also employing slapstick violence for laughs. In the segment, Yakko Warner turns a large game show wheel while siblings Wakko and Dot watch. Reliably, the spinning wheel lands on a number causing a small computer to print out the episode’s morale. The morale is often silly and almost never applies to the episode. The siblings are then chased off of the lot by Ralph the Guard. We love The Animaniacs in our house for its irreverence. 

The virtual morality of Arlekin Player’s production of chekhovOS /an experimental game/ (not to be confused with their last event Cherry OS /an experiment/) is a lot like the Wheel of Morality: the rules are unclear, the narrators are unreliable and the story isn’t linear. You’ll have a great time as long as you have no attachment to the ending. Try to have fun because nothing is certain. Or is it? Continue reading

Jun 04

Donate Now so Theatre Can Exist Later: “Songs for A New World”

The soloists from “Songs for A New World.”

Songs For A New World, A Performance to Benefit SpeakEasy Stage
Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Music directed by Jose Delgado
Cast includes Rashed Alnuaimi, Laura Marie Duncan, Jennifer Ellis, Dwayne P. Mitchell, Davron Monroe, Mikayla Myers, Rebekah Robles, Alexander Tan, and Victor Carrillo Tracey
The program is HERE

May 26 – June 8, 2021
Streaming to your Device
Tickets  
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

STREAMING — SpeakEasy stage had two COVID compliance officers, and a testing coordinator. OccMed provided health services to the Song for A New World Team and Viracor Eurofins Clinical Diagnostics was their COVID testing provider. A disclaimer that COVID safety protocols were followed during rehearsals and recording of this fundraiser. Continue reading

May 31

Good for Them: “A Woman of the World”

Denise Cormier in MRT’s A Woman of the World. Photo: Kathy Wittman.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Rebecca Gilman
Directed by Courtney Sale
Featuring Denise Cormier

May 15-30, 2021
Video on Demand
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Yes, she was a genius but nothing really happened to her. She never left her house!” – Mary Loomis Todd on Emily Dickinson in A Woman of the World

STREAMING — The summary on the MRT website for A Woman of the World buries the lede. It focuses on her ties to poet Emily Dickinson as a way to lure audience members with Protestant leanings. The summary fails to emphasize famous New Englander Mabel Loomis Todd’s more modern fleshly proclivities: she was into open-marriages centuries before it was cool and took great pleasure in sex.  Continue reading

May 21

It’s Abuse: “Herding Cats”

Photo by Danny Kaan. “Juliette” & Saddo.

Presented by OHenry Productions and Stellar, in association with Soho Theatre
By Lucinda Coxon
Directed by Anthony Banks
Featuring: Jassa Ahluwalia, Greg Germann, Sophie Melville
HeardingCatsPlay.com

May 19–22, 2021
In-Person and Streaming Tickets available
Soho Theatre Company 
21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE
Herding Cats on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

STREAMING — It is really cool that Greg Germann is able to perform from Los Angeles with actors performing in London at the same time. Zoom theatre has changed the ecology of theatre drastically and it is super, heckin’ neato. Before the pandemic, actors had to be recorded in their respective locations in order for such a feat to be accomplished. Science fiction is now!

I’m not sure why Herding Cats was chosen as the production to show off this technology. It’s not a great script. It wants to be edgy but fails. 

The stakes for the audience are depressingly low, low like six-feet-underground-low. Coxon doesn’t tell or show us why we should care about her characters. We don’t know who they are. I don’t know why I’m supposed to give these characters my attention. They aren’t clever or funny but they aren’t particularly unpleasant or dull either. 

We only know these characters are English because of their accents. Justine carries groceries in the first scene so we know they eat. Maybe. We don’t actually see them eat… Or talk to anyone else, or live at all. We only hear about their lives. They aren’t universal characters either. 

Continue reading

May 19

This is the Future Progressive Theatremakers Want: A “Firebird” Ballet

Crappy screencap of a screen photos by Kitty Drexel

Presented by Abilities Dance Boston
Based on the Slavic firebird folktale
Choreography by Ellice Patterson with the ensemble
Music composed and directed by Andrew Choe
The Firebird program has full cast and crew information

May 14 & 15, 2021
Livestreamed from the Wimberly Theatre at the Calderwood Pavillion
Boston, MA
Abilities Dance on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON/YouTube — The pressure to create during quarantine reached monstrous enormity. For every normie Tom, Delia, and Harrison Ford who worked on a script because Lear was written during a pandemic, an artist with a resume of successes couldn’t polish their abilities because they were too busy surviving the next 24-hours. 

Survival for the disabled arts community means something very different than it does the abled community. Jobs for disabled artists didn’t merely dwindle. They vanished overnight. Some of those jobs may never reappear

Our priorities went from managing a job to managing continued existence in a world actively trying to kill them: doctors appointments and surgeries were canceled, elevators became vectors for disease, carers were transferred to essential service positions. We went from demanding plastic straws in restaurants to demanding our right to live at all. It felt like ableds weren’t going to permit us either thing.   Continue reading

May 09

Shenanigans & Monkeyshines: “Planet of the Grapes Live”

Presented by Toy Theatre and co-produced with Project Y Theatre Company 
Written, performed and created by Peter Michael Marino 
Directed by Michole Biancosino
Music by Michael Harren
Screen management by Genny Yosco 

Remaining dates: May 8 – 16, 2021
Streamed over YouTube
NYC
Toy Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — We heard about the Zoom science fiction parody play The Planet of the Grapes Live from this American Theatre article written by creator Marino. His article is a deep dive manifesto into his inspiration for the Grapes parody of Planet of the Apes. The movie is famously parodied by cherished agents of pop culture such as The Simpsons, Robot Chicken, Spaceballs, etc. 

Science fiction parodies make for great entertainment. I needed a good chuckle so I purchased a ticket.  Continue reading

May 04

BLACK FEMINIST VIDEO GAME: A glimpse into the future?

Presented by The Civilians
Written by Darrel Alejandro Holnes
Directed by Victoria Collado
Video Game created by Ché Lovell Rose & Jocelyn Short
Produced by Ilana Becker
Sound Design by Twi McCallum
Featuring Christon Andell, Kyla Jeanne Butts, Starr Kirkland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Constance Fields, Phillip Patrick Wright, Michael Diamond, Mia Anderson, and Brandiss LaShai Seward.

April 27 – May 9, 2021
The Civilians
138 SOUTH OXFORD STREET #3C
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11217 
The Civilians on Facebook

Critique by Afrikah Smith

YOUTUBE — BLACK FEMINIST VIDEO GAME is a groundbreaking, online theatrical experience that explores love, neurodiversity, and the importance of Black feminism.

After a first date gone wrong, Jonas Jones (Christon Andell) is determined to find a way to win back his crush, Nicole (Starr Kirkland). As a biracial teenager with autism, Jonas broadcasts his life online as a means of connection, destigmatising autism, and becoming a filmmaker. Integrating live chat in the performance, Jonas asks audiences for advice on what he should do. While brainstorming, he finds an old gift from his mother; a video game that may lead a way to winning Nicole back.  Continue reading

Apr 30

Love is Everyone: “Until the Flood”

Maiesha McQueen in Until the Flood. Photo: Kathy Wittman

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
By Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Timothy Douglas
Original music by Lindsay Jones
Film by Kathy Wittman
Performed with excellence by Maiesha McQueen

April 17 to May 2, 2021
Via video-on-demand only
TICKETS
MRT on Facebook

MRT’s Content Alert: Based on real events, Until the Flood includes references to racism, bigotry, prejudice, and off-stage violence. The play contains strong adult content/language, including racial slurs. Recommended for ages 16 and older.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

STREAMING — The US police keep killing Black people. On Wednesday, April 28 a Collin County, Texas medical examiner ruled Marvin Scott III’s death a homicide. That was last night. Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by police on April 22. Derek Chauvin was convicted of killing George Floyd on April 20. Nearly a year after the murder took place. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Aleah Jenkins, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown: I could go on and on. It’s no wonder that human rights lawyers from around the world have called for an investigation of the international criminal court into the systematic murder of Black people in the US. 

Until the Flood is a one-woman show about the stories we tell with our lives. On August 9, 2014 Darren Wilson, a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. In response to the murder, Dael Orlandersmith interviewed Black and white people, compiled their stories and created this play. We are witness to a spectrum of views. Each monologue takes the viewer closer to Michael Brown and the events that formed the Black Lives Movement. Continue reading