Oct 13

Let’s do some living/Before we die: “Wild Horses”

Leenya Rideout and Rafael Molina during filming at Unitas Community Center, Lowell. Photo: Kathy Wittman

Presented by Merrimack Theatre Company 
By Allison Gregory
Directed by Courtney Sale
Featuring Actor Leenya Rideout
Music by Rafael Molina
Film by Kathy Wittman
Costume Design by Lee Viliesis

COVID PROTOCOLS: Vaccination or negative test result required. Masks also required for both indoor and outdoor locations. See the full details here

Video-On-Demand Dates: Oct. 4-17, 2021
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

CONTENT WARNING: Wild Horses contains adult language and content. Recommended for ages 16 and older. Mentions of child abuse and descriptions of animal abuse. 

Run Time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

Streaming — Wild Horses, streaming now on MRT.org, is a prime example of great theatre that translates well to both in-person and online viewing. MRT’s recording reveals solo-performer Leenya Rideout as a skilled storyteller capable of spinning nuance with a single gesture. One can practically feel the electric energy rippling off of her captured performance. 

Rideout is good in the video. She’d be better live. This is a streamed performance that’ll make you regret you didn’t see it in person.  Continue reading

Aug 20

14 Greater-Boston Theatres Announce Proof of Vaccination and Mask Requirements

Article by Kitty Drexel

  • Proof of vaccination or a Negative COVID-19 test is required
  • Masks must be worn
  • New survey results show majority of arts goers support these measures
  • Bindle, a digital vaccine record app, is free. http://www.joinbindle.com/people

BOSTON — Fourteen theatre companies in the Greater Boston area will require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for all artists, staff members, and audiences as live, indoor performances resume for the 2021/2022 season, said a press release dated August 19. Masks are also required. 

The list of participating theatres is below.

The press release said that these policies begin immediately and remain valid through October 31. Policies are per CDC guidelines and will be reevaluated as COVID-19 pandemic evolves. 

“Proof of vaccination may include showing either a vaccination card, a photo of the card, or a digital vaccine record (through an app such as Bindle at www.joinbindle.com/people),” said the press release. Audience members without proof of vaccination will be required to show proof of a recent negative COVID test before entering.

Individual theatres will list specific protocols and guidelines on their websites. At this time, New England Theatre Geek has received protocol updates from the Huntington Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and Central Square Theater in addition to the joint press release from the fourteen theatres. 

The New England Theatre Geek eagerly awaits updates from other New England performing institutions. “We are reluctant to attend or review indoor performances by organizations that do not enact similar protocols and safety measures,” said Queen Geek Kitty Drexel. 

“Our primary mission is to support our theatre community. We cannot do that if organizations aren’t first taking the necessary steps to protect their staff, crew and casts. Audience members can’t make informed decisions if they aren’t assured the community’s health is a priority.”  

The June 2021 results of the ArtsBoston Audience Outlook Monitor survey said that 73% of audiences plan to resume indoor performances by Sept 2021. Audience Outlook Monitor is a longitudinal survey to keep tabs on arts attendees thoughts, concerns and intentions as the pandemic and the state’s reopening guidelines evolve, said ArtsBoston.com.

The 14 theatre joint press release said that the most recent round of Audience Outlook Monitor survey data (collected August 9 – 13, 202) found that 80% of respondents indicated that proof of vaccination would make them more likely to attend indoor events. 50% said that proof of vaccination or negative COVID test is a prerequisite for their attendance. 98% of respondents reported being fully vaccinated or planning to do so. 

Theatres in New York City, Washington, DC, and Chicago have established similar policies requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and mask wearing.

It is good practice to stay home if experiencing COVID symptoms on the day of the performance. Common symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell. 

PARTICIPATING THEATRES:
Actors’ Shakespeare Project*
American Repertory Theater (ART)
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre*
Central Square Theater*
The Front Porch Arts Collective
The Gamm Theatre*
Gloucester Stage Company*
Greater Boston Stage Company*
The Huntington Theatre Company 
Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse*
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Moonbox Productions
SpeakEasy Stage Company*
Wellesley Repertory Theatre*
 *Member of New England Area Theaters (NEAT), an association of midsize theatres

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

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

May 19

Streamed Content to Prevent COVID-19 Brain Drain: Can You Smell What the Pollen is Cooking?

Dear Readers,

The theatre community exploded over the weekend! There’s enough content here to keep you busy for weeks. Please stream responsibly.

All our love from six feet away,
Kitty
Queen of the New England Theatre Geeks

Let us know if we missed something! Email us at blognetheatregeek@gmail.com or find us on our social media pages.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/netheatregeek
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandTheatreGeek/

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Apollinaire Theatre Company — Apollinaire at Home announces the special event: Queer Soup’s Mal Malme and The Invasion of Pleasure Valley. Queer Soup Theater’s Mal Malme and members of the original cast of The Invasion of Pleasure Valley join Apollinaire at Home next Thursday, May 21st to revisit their early campy hit.

ArtsEmerson — ArtsEmerson is thrilled to announce that renowned musician, composer, producer, and activist Toshi Reagon is launching Parable Path Boston, based on the tenets of Octavia E. Butler’s novel The Parable of the Sower. Parable Path Boston will kick-off on Friday evening, May 22 with a one-night-only streaming event, the centerpiece of which is a full presentation of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower: The Concert Experience.
To access any or all of the May 22 online events, please visit ParablePathBoston.com.

Central Square Theater — “ART IS OUR ACTIVISM – Online Series,” is a series of online play readings, Central Conversations, and educational programs specifically designed to engage audiences in a conversation for the here and now.
Wild Goose Dreams
By Hansol Jung. Directed by Debra Wise
Monday, May 18 at 7PM on Facebook Live! 
Presented by Underground Railway at Central Square Theater

A Conversation with Sherry Turkle & Sarah Shin
Thursday, May 21 at 7PM on Zoom & Facebook Live!
Join Dr. Sherry Turkle, a researcher of human relationships with technology, and Sarah Shin, a co-founder of Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston, for a conversation about Wild Goose Dreams. Dr. Turkle will discuss how technology supports and inhibits connection in the play, while Ms. Shin will speak to the Korean cultural aspects.

Much Ado About Nothing
By William Shakespeare. Directed by Eric Tucker
Monday, May 25 at 6PM on Zoom & Facebook Live!
Presented by Bedlam

The Phlebotemists
By Ella Ford. Directed by Cassie Chapados.
Monday, June 29 at 7PM on Facebook Live!
Presented by The Nora at Central Square Theater

Classic Stage Company — Classic Conversations continues on CSC’s Facebook page every Thursday at 6PM. Follow and Subscribe to watch every premiere Thursdays at 6pm.
Tony Nominee, Ethan Slater, Thurs. May 21 at 6pm, Spongebob Squarepants, Fosse/Verdon
Steven Pasquale, Thurs. May 28 at 6pm, The Bridges of Madison Country, American Son
Bianca Horn, Thurs. June 4 at 6pm, The Great Comet, The Awesome 80s Prom

Luminarium Dance Company — Luminarium continues to present its TEN4TEN Performance Series celebrating its tenth anniversary season with curated shows every two weeks, highlighting its award-winning repertory spanning 2010 to present. This week’s online performance features early examples of Luminarium Dance Company’s interdisciplinary take on community engagement. Enjoy choreographic collaborations that go “beyond dance” with the New England Quilt Museum (2013) and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (2015).

Luminarium Dance Company & Monkeyhouse are thrilled to produce the seventh 24-Hour ChoreoFest!
TRI-STATE CHOREOFEST
SATURDAY, MAY 23
12-8pm: Live-streamed creation period & interviews
8pm: Live-streamed performance

Liars & Believers — LAB presents Ted & Marie by Joy Besozzi. It is live on its Pandemic Play page.
Coming Up: LAB has 3 shows in the pipeline, a big project gearing up, and a new experiment percolating.Plus several friends are creating shows and doing concerts. As long as this goes on, we’ll keep making art and sharing with you great things we find.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre —  Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s professional training program for high school students, the MRT Young Company, goes virtual this year with classes online from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for three weeks, July 13-31. Renowned Chicago educator, director, and actor Robert Cornelius returns to lead the intensive.
The rate is $450 per person for the full course. Past Young Company participants may register for only $350. To register, visit www.mrt.org/youngcompany or call the Box Office at 978-654-4678. The program requires a laptop or tablet and internet access; if needed, MRT will provide technical support for any student.

Open Theatre Project — Week 3 of the OTP Community Write. On Monday, featured playwright Nick Malakhow chose “Communication/Miscommunication” and “New Rituals” to inspire our community’s writing this week.  Performed by Alissa Cordeiro, Erik McGowan, Dave DiLillo, and Tasha Matthews.
PANDEMIC-MONUIM by Bob Williams with Dave DiLillo
Home Not Alone by Judith Black with Tasha Matthews
Talk To You by Nick Malakhow with Alissa Cordeiro & Erik McGowan

Puppet Showplace Theater The Hatchery: Virtual Project Night
Wednesday, May 27 | 6:30 – 8:30 pm
FREE Virtual “Drop-in” Event – Donations Welcome
Join Resident Artist Sarah Nolen for Puppet Showplace Theater’s first-ever digital Hatchery!

Silverthorne Theater Company — Silverthorne Theater Company presents Days of Possibilities by Rich Orloff. Streaming now-June 4. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/WXc9WmKAjXc” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

SpeakEasy Stage Company — Beginning Wednesday, May 20 at 5PM, is a five-week half-hour series offering an insider’s guide to the five shows making up SpeakEasy’s 2020-2021 Season, which is also the company’s 30th Anniversary year. Those interested can join by tuning into SpeakEasy’s Facebook page for each live 30-minute Q&A session. The schedule of shows and artists is as follows:
Once On This Island – Wednesday, May 20, 5:00-5:30pm; Artists present: Director Pascale Florestal, Music Director David Freeman Coleman
People, Places & Things – Wednesday, May 27, 5:00-5:30pm – Artists present: Director David R. Gammons, Actress Marianna Bassham, Actor John Kuntz
Slave Play – Wednesday, June 3, 5:00-5:30pm; Artist present: Director Tiffany Nichole Greene
Bright Star – Wednesday, June 10, 5:00-5:30pm; Artists present: Director Paul Daigneault, Actress Laura Marie Duncan, Choreographer Misha Shields, Music Director Eli Schildekraut
The Inheritance – Wednesday, June 17, 5:00-5:30pm; Artist present: Director Paul Daigneault

Announcing the SpeakEasy Play Discussion Club –  a weekly discussion surrounding some of today’s most exciting scripts! Join SpeakEasy staff and artists for an online conversation about the play’s major themes and impact on the American theatre canon.For this series of plays, the theme is Celebrating Contemporary Female Voices:
WEEK ONE:
Introduction Session or “Play Reading 101: A How-To Guide”
An optional resource for those interested in the tips and tricks of play reading!
Thursday, May 21 from 5:00 – 5:30pm (Sign Up Here)
WEEK TWO:
Cost of Living by Martyna Majok
Thursday, May 28 from 5:30 – 6:30pm (Sign Up Here)
WEEK THREE:
Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee
Thursday, June 4 from 5:30 – 6:30pm (Sign Up Here)
WEEK FOUR:
DIASPORA! by Phaedra Michelle Scott
Developed through SpeakEasy’s The Boston Project
Thursday, June 11 from 5:30 – 6:30 (Sign Up Here)
WEEK FIVE:
Wild Goose Dreams by Hansol Jung
Thursday, June 18 from 5:30 – 6:30pm (Sign Up Here)

Elsewhere, on the internet:
What’s streaming: https://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/whats-streaming-the-1998-theatrical-version-of-cat_90994.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=14may2020

Radio theatre podcasts: https://broadwaypodcastnetwork.com/podcast/dracula-a-comedy-of-terrors/%MCEPASTEBIN%

Gillian Anderson’s, Streetcar: https://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/gillian-anderson-streetcar-tom-hiddleston-coriolan_90974.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=14may2020

Oct 31

The Lost Treasures in “Cambodian Rock Band”

Matthew Yee, Peter Sipla, Aja Wiltshire, Eileen Doan, Greg Watanabe; Photo by Liz Lauren courtesy of Victory Gardens

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
A co-production with Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago and City Theatre in Pittsburgh
By Lauren Yee
Directed by Marti Lyons
Featuring the songs of Dengue Fever, Sinn Sisamouth, Voy Ho, and Rose Serey Sothea
Cast includes Eileen Doan (Pou, keyboards), Albert Park (Duch), Christopher Thomas Pow (Leng/Ted, guitar), Peter Sipla (Rom, drums), Greg Watanabe (Chum, bass),  and Aja Wiltshire (Neary/Sothea, vocals).

Oct 16-Nov 10
Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
Lowell,MA
MRT on Facebook 

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Lowell, MA) The history one learns from Cambodian Rock Band will vary based on previous knowledge of the Cambodian genocide, the Vietnam War, and other geopolitical histories of that era. Lauren Yee’s narrative blends details about how characters survived genocide with elements from the real stories of countless others. Yet, one doesn’t leave the theater with fresh tears of sadness, rather, with smiles over tear-stained faces. The actors, particularly the father-daughter pair of Chum (Greg Watanabe) and Neary (Aja Wilshire), have both very touching and comical exchanges throughout the over 2 hour run time. 

It weaves together a portrait of a father, a mystery, history, and amazing music. From the pre-show announcement to ‘cold open’, both in Khmer, audiences are taken on a ride between the 70’s to the early 2000s features a band from the 70s, singing in Khmer. Continue reading

Sep 21

A Study in Contrasts: “Tiny Beautiful Things”

Shravan Amin, Nael Nacer, Lori Prince and Caroline Strang. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed
Adapted for stage by Nia Vardalos
Co-Conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail and Nia Vardalos
Directed by Jen Wineman

September 11 – October 6, 2019
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Lowell, MA) Tiny Beautiful Things delivers a personal memoir through the vehicle of questions answered by ‘Sugar’, who does so in each case with an insight drawn from a personal story.

Continue reading

Jan 28

A Nourishing Treat: “Slow Food”

Joel Van Liew, Brian Beacock, Daina Griffith. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Wendy MacLeod
Directed by Sean Daniels

January 9 – February 3, 2018
50 E Merrimack St, Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) You know a play hooks you when you start to get uncomfortable from the opening moment. As the lights go up in Slow Food,, we see two diners, Peter and Irene (Joel Van Liew and Daina Michelle Griffith) looking wane in a Greek restaurant as they begrudgingly sip glasses of water and wait. By the time the waiter, Stephen (Brian Beacock), appears, it is hard not to hate him. Continue reading

Oct 01

The Unfinished Work of a More Perfect Union: NATIVE GARDENS

Gabriel Marin (Pablo De Valle), Vivia Font (Tania Del Valle), Joel Colodner (Frank Butley)
Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
By Karen Zacarías

September 12 – October 7, 2018
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Writers must walk a fine line with audiences when it comes to parables. For a parable to be effective, the story must signal its intentions early and clearly. If done well, it gives the story license with the audience to present an incomplete worldview to prove a point. The devil, however, is in the details – as in what details to give the audience and what details to leave out – to create a world that gets enough buy-in from the audience to think about the issue. Continue reading

May 22

Fempool: THE VILLAINS’ SUPPER CLUB

Kristen Mengelkoch (Galactic Girl). Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Lila Rose Kaplan
Directed by Sean Daniels

April 25 – May 20, 2018
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Bringing a comic book to life on stage can be extremely difficult, but deconstructing the comic book genre onstage can bring a new round of pitfalls. While the Merrimack Repertory Theatre production of “The Villains’ Supper Club” sometimes stumbles through the scattershot superhero world created by Lila Rose Kaplan’s script, it does so with a winsome and improvisational spirit. This, combined with the fact that Rose Kaplan has packed the script with some really great comical lines, leaves theatergoers with a visually stunning and utterly unique theatrical experience that may not always make sense, but is always entertaining. Continue reading