Nov 02

The Divine Sister: Holy Moly!

A postulant (Sasha Castroverde, left) is serenaded by her Mother Superior (Jeffery Roberson aka Varla Jean Merman, right) in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of The Divine Sister, running now thru Nov. 19. Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

The Divine Sister by Charles Busch, Speakeasy Stage Company, Nancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 10/21/11-11/19/11, http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=divine. Contains adult language and content.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) “The hills are alive–with the sounds of…” *gag* (Hold on. Sometimes when I get emotional I tend to gag. Well, not really, but a nun or two in this play do and it becomes a running gag). Charles Busch and Speakeasy Stage Company bring singing, biking, and wrestling nuns to the stage. With cheek and pluck, Speakeasy Stage furnishes a delightful trip to the world of nun movies, tv shows, and musicals.

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Oct 30

This Verse Business: The Road Less Traveled Of Frost’s Poetry

Gordon Clapp as Robert Frost. Photo by Meghan Moore.

This Verse Business by A.M. Dolan, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 10/20/11-11/13/11,  http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=101.

Reviewed by Anthony Geehan

(Lowell, MA)  There is an inherent problem in the study of classic poetry. Most of what is deemed worthwhile to scholars are works that tend to be genre defying and broke the conventions of the times they were written in. However, when a poet’s collection becomes so widely revered, scholars tend to set them as the new template for the system that the writer had originally broken through. This leads to the poems losing much of their edge and therefore becoming mundane to modern audiences. There is possibly no bigger victim of this “catch-22” than west coast born, New England based poet Robert Frost, and there is possibly no better cure for this academic sickness than a play like This Verse Business. Continue reading

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Oct 24

Phantom Tollbooth: Topsy-Turvy Family Entertainment

The Phantom Tollbooth, based on the book by Norman Juster, book by Norman Juster and Sheldon Harnick, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Arnold Black, Wheelock Family Theatre, 10/21/11-11/20/11, http://www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org/feature-performance.aspx.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) A musical adaptation of Norton Juster’s 1961 children’s book of the same name is currently being performed at the Wheelock Family Theater.  With an inventive, bright cast and set, the play is sure to fascinate younger viewers.  Continue reading

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Oct 20

‘Or,’ Women Will Have The Last Laugh

Aphra (Stacy Fischer) catches William (Ro'ee Levi) and Nell (Hannah Husband). Photo by Mark S. Howard.

 

Or, by Liz Duffy Adams, Lyric Stage Company, 10/14/11-11/6/11, https://lyricstage.com/now_playing/or/  Contains mature themes.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA)  A new age is dawning in the 1660’s.  Women are allowed to act.  Strict Puritan regulations have been lifted.  What’s a girl to do?  Aphra Behn, one of the first professional playwrights that was female, has some answers with the help of modern day playwright Liz Duffy Adams.  Lyric Stage brings a delightful evening of ‘girl power’ to the stage in this play of Restoration, modern, and post-modern ideals.   Continue reading

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Sep 01

Last Year Boston, This Year New York

Missed some excellent shows in Boston last year?  Head down to New York City!

Meghan McGeary as Hannah. Photo by Marcus Stern.

The Blue Flower, Second Stage Theatre, 305 West 43rd Street, NY, NY. Becca’s review of the show at the American Repertory Theatre.

Sons of the Prophet, Roundabout Theatre Company, Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th Street, NY, NY. Becca’s review of the show at the Huntington Theatre. (Just change “Tony Award” to “Obie”

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Nov 22

The Religion of Family

Vengeance is the Lord’s by Bob Glaudini, WORLD PREMIERE, Huntington Theatre Company, 11/12/10-12/12/10.  http://www.huntingtontheatre.org/season/production.aspx?id=8511

Larry Pine (Mathew Horvath) and Karl Baker Olsen (Donald Horvath) in Vengeance Is The Lord's, by Bob Glaudini, directed by Peter DuBois. Photo by T Charles Erickson

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

“Honor thy father and mother” is the first and only commandment in the Horvath family.  In Vengeance Is The Lord’s, the Horvath family sticks together, supports each other—in all endeavors—but to what end?  The play starts out with a normal family Thanksgiving scene; the father starts by telling about his need to turn someone in who stole a car and the mother talks about forgiveness for Myers, their daughter’s killer.  As the story unfolds, however, the veneer is lifted to reveal not only hypocrisy but also an active crime family.  The audience and the youngest son Donny begin to question what justice means and how far love and loyalty should extend within a family.

The set by Eugene Lee provides a “gilded cage” for the Horvaths.  The house looks like any normal suburban household—with one exception—Cheryl’s room.  While it seems like any other bedroom in any other house, this bedroom haunts the Horvath family.  Along with the Horvath family, the audience is constantly reminded of the empty room and Cheryl’s horrific murder as the house spins on a turntable.  The effect of the turntable mirrors the family’s discontent; when they slow down or stop, the family ends up confronting problems that they would rather ignore.   The lighting design by Japhy Weideman, the sound design by Ben Emerson, and the original music by David Van Tieghem add to the tense domestic scene.

The actors form a cohesive family unit.  Roberta Wallach stands firm as the matriarch of the Horvath family, Margaret.  Wallach creates a woman who lives in pain, but who is strong and relatively self-sufficient; however, as the play progresses and the emotional pain becomes too much to bear, the character gives in to the physical operation.  Wallach reveals through this concession that Margaret has deferred some of her resolve to Matthew and Woody. Continue reading

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Nov 10

Let x Equal Much Promise

Proof by David Auburn, Curtain Call Theatre, Braintree, MA  11/5/10-11/13/10 http://curtaincallbraintree.org/

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Take x; add a strong cast and tight direction to a Pulitzer Prize winning script, and the result will be Curtain Call Theatre’s production of Proof.   The small theater group embodies two of the main themes of the play:  testing theories and proving yourself.

The cast brings strength and soul to the script.  At the core is Sarah Jacobs.  This recent Brandeis University graduate possesses natural talent that creates an awkward, intelligent, and inwardly strong Catherine.  She has a few small affectations and a lack of cynicism, but those nuances will go away with life and career experience.  Dan Delaporta, as Hal, exudes energy and geekiness.  He displays both the self-centeredness and sensitivity that makes him a good match for Catherine.  Both actors will continue to thrive as long as they practice their craft and remain open to all opportunities. Continue reading

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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

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Oct 18

Set Your Phasers On Stunned!!!

Kate Mulgrew and John Douglas Thompson photo by T. Charles Erickson

Antony and Cleopatra, Harford Stage, Hartford, CT  10/7/10-11/7/10

http://www.hartfordstage.org/shows/antony-cleopatra

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

From the start of the Antony and Cleopatra, Kate’s performance is filled with passion and abandon.  Running in bare-footed with a sword, anyone who has seen many of Ms. Mulgrew’s performances realizes this is not the calm, controlled persona of Kathryn Janeway, Elizabeth Seton, or Janet Eldridge.  Cleopatra is a woman who is one of the most powerful rulers in the world and yet is controlled by her lustful appetite for a man who can never be completely hers:  Antony.  Her strength and vulnerability are played out in her faithfulness to Antony and her jealousy of Antony’s wives.  Her performance evokes lust, humor, rage, sensuality, and pathos that compel you to be drawn into her plight.  The energy that she puts into her performance meets and sometimes exceeds some of the soldiers and dancers and does not stop until the snake kills her.  With the wildness of her character combined with a beautiful long flowing wig and voluptuous costumes, she appears more youthful and free than some of her roles from twenty years ago (if only we all could “youth-en” in that way!).   I hope we continue to get to see her versatility as the years go on.  As for the actress herself, Ms. Mulgrew was extremely gracious after running around for three hours to take the time to sign my program and allow me to thank her for her magnificent performance as well as her previous work. Continue reading

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