Dec 11

A Lonely Old Man and His “Christmas Carol”

Rebecca White and Joel Colodner; Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Stage adaptation by Tony Brown
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian

November 29 thru December 24, 2017
Merrimack Repertory Theatre on Facebook
132 Warren Street, Lowell, MA  01852

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Lowell, Massachusetts)  Megan Sandberg-Zakian’s production needed a larger cast.  Three hard-working actors struggled to carry this Christmas story, which Charles Dickens populated with nine very diverse characters.  These actors paced the small stage quickly switching between accents and affectations, to communicate to the audience that they were presenting a different personality, and it ended up being an evening of too much talk.  At one point when my eyes were glazing over, I asked myself if I were in a comfortable lull or if I was just bored.  Then during intermission, I overheard a fellow patron say that she hoped she did not fall asleep during the second act.  So I had my answer: She and I were just bored. Continue reading

Nov 28

Love Can’t Afford to be Afraid: “Tartuffe”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Co.
By Moliere
Translated by Ranjit Bolt
Directed by Peter DuBois
Choreography by Daniel Pelzig
Original music by Peter Golub
Fight direction by Ted Hewlett

Nov. 10 – Dec. 10, 2017
Avenue of the Arts
Huntington Avenue Theatre
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) If you haven’t seen #metoo then it’s likely you’ve been under a proverbial rock. Female and male victims of sexual assault rallied their cry in solidarity with the women accusing Harvey Weinstein of years of criminal misconduct. Weinstein is a pig enabled by others so focused on their own careers/pocketbooks that they wouldn’t stop him. Whether intentional or not, the Huntingington’s Tartuffe is a reflection of the news cycle. In our own backyard, Berklee School of Music harbored rapist professors. “Good” men can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves.   Continue reading

Nov 27

Utterly Enchanting: “The Perils of Mr. Punch”

Presented by Modern Time Theater
Puppeteers Rose Friedman & Justin Lander
Modern Times Theater Website

November 24th thru 26th, 2017
Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St.
Brookline, Massachusetts 02445
Puppet Showplace on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Brookline Village, Massachusetts) The puppeteer spouses Rose Friedman and Justin Lander are as lovely as their puppets and, in particular, Justin Lander’s sense of humor was utterly enchanting.  At one point during their opening act, Lander intimated to a kiddo at the front of the audience, “You owe me an ice cream sundae.”  A few minutes later during this musical skit, Lander told kids and presumably their parents that he was holding “one of the many instruments you can make out of old washing equipment.”  For cornballs like myself who thoroughly enjoy observational comedy,  statements like that are a hoot! Continue reading

Nov 27

A Broadway Revival of “The Color Purple”

Presented by the Boch Center 
Book Written by Alice Walker
Musical Adapted by Marsha Norman
Music by Brenda Russell and Allee Willis

November 21st – December 3rd, 2017
Church up in Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA
The Color Purple on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

“I believe…as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  -C.S. Lewis

(Downtown Boston, Massachusetts) Dear stars and dear trees:  For all of my life, I’d been closeted about my consumption of musicals.  But after witnessing the musical revival of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Celie and Sophie have officially folded me into musical theatre, and I want to stay swaddled in the feeling of this lively genre.  I can tell I am swooning over this Broadway show the way all firsts captivate you – your first kiss, your first live music concert, your first adult job, and your first Broadway musical.    Continue reading

Nov 14

Stardust and Deep Roots: SILENT SKY

Julia Brothers, Polly Lee, Alexis Bronkovic, Victoria Grace, and Tom Coiner
Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Sean Daniels

Oct. 18 – Nov. 12
50 E Merrimack St
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) There has been a move in recent years to use film and stage to unearth the hidden stories of women who have advanced society while making their contributions in the confines of sexism. This has resulted in a series of earnest biopics or bio-plays, some more well-crafted than others. Continue reading

Nov 14

Misstep: “42nd Street”

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Music by HARRY WARREN
Lyrics by AL DUBIN
Book by MICHAEL STEWART & MARK BRAMBLE
Based on the Novel by BRADFORD ROPES
Original Direction and Dances by GOWER CHAMPION

October 31st – November 12th, 2017
North Shore Music Theatre
62 Dunham Road
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) In the mood for regressive theater that features outstanding tap dancing? If you can stomach a musical with a thin plot that celebrates a time when there was no such thing as sexual harassment, then 42nd Street: The Musical is your show! You will have to try hard to find a script that is as nostalgic for the pre-Harvey Weinstein show business era as this one. It’s a revival of a revival of a 1980 play based on a 1933 movie which was designed to help people remember a time before the Great Depression. Continue reading

Nov 08

The Writing Is On The Wall: “New and Dangerous Ideas”

Sarah Leach, Phoenyx Williams, and Christopher Johnson in the world premiere of “New and Dangerous Ideas” by Christopher Johnson at The Wilbury Theatre Group. Photo by James Lastowski.

Presented by Wilbury Theatre Group
Written by Christopher Johnson
Directed by Josh Short

November 2nd through 18th, 2017
Wilbury Theatre Group, 40 Sonoma Ct
Providence, Rhode Island  02909
WTG on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Providence, Rhode Island)  Lately I’ve been listening to JAY’s most recent album 4:44 when I’m driving, and one of my favorite tracks is “Smile,” partly because of the following lyric:  A loss ain’t a loss, it’s a lesson / Appreciate the pain, it’s a blessin’.  JAY’s album – released in response to Beyoncé’s Lemonade – is a reflection of the current state of Black American manhood, and right now you can hear that same lyric echoed by Black men throughout all the creative spheres.  The two men starring in New and Dangerous Ideas were certainly grappling with the lessons that we all can learn from the losses of rampant racism. Continue reading

Nov 06

It Starts in the Home: “3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show”

Wesley T. Jones, Vienna Carroll, Michael Bryan; Photo credits: David Marshall

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Conceived and written by James Scruggs
Directed by Mark Rayment

Nov. 3-11, 2017
Nicholas Martin Hall
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show reclaims appropriated Black culture so to spit racism into the faces of oppressors. It’s beautiful and horrifying. Potential audience members please be aware that 3/Fifths’ contains nudity, graphic violence, and the unvarnished, unadulterated truth of what it is to be a Black man in America. Gunshots and police video are used because violence is our legacy and our future. 3/Fifths’ is a mirror showing us who we already are. Continue reading

Oct 30

Moby Dick, Disassembled in [or, the whale]

Photo courtesy of imaginary beasts’ Facebook page.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Written by Juli Crocket
Directed by Matthew Woods
Musical Composition by Kangaroo Rat Music (Anna Bell & Tim Desrosiers)
Movement Coaching by Molly Kimmerling and Amy Meyer

October 14-November 4, 2017
Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, Massachusetts
[or, the whale] on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “No one remembers an Ahab with two legs,” SHE (Raya Malcolm) tells the third member of the Ahab chorus, Danny Mourino, before sweeping him through a door that exudes a blue, haunting light. This disassembled retelling of Moby Dick is similarly haunting, stylish, and similarly full of light, specifically light slapstick, cheerful music, and a cast of tumblers on a colorful, creepy set complete with giant whale ribs. It’s delightful and strange, and I would expect nothing less from imaginary beasts. Continue reading

Oct 24

Fractured Mirrors of Friendship: “A Guide for the Homesick”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Directed by Colman Domingo
Written by Ken Urban

October 6 thru November 4, 2017
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Huntington Theatre on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Boston, Massachusetts) Sometimes friends party together, and sometimes friends talk about sex, and sometimes friends will live together.  Some friends from Massachusetts lovingly label each other as fellow Massholes, and there is nothing like the spark of instantaneous friendship when two strangers come from the same homeland.  A Guide for the Homesick is about two Bostonians abroad whose paths converge, who get drunk together, who discuss sex, have sex, and who share a holiday affair that neither will ever forget. Continue reading