Jun 02

What’s On This Week: 2 June 2011

McCaela Donovan and members of the company in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, running May 6 - June 5 at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End. Tix/Info: 617-933-8600 or www.SpeakEasyStage.com. Photo: Stratton McCrady.

Since my students are graduating this week and then I’m off to New York, here’s one more week of what’s happening around this area. When I am back, I will share my reviews of the shows I’ve seen in New York; also, I hope to have articles for you on my obsession with Next to Normal and the Opera 101 piece that I have been planning.  (unless otherwise noted (POE @trinityrep), I do not know the quality of the productions, but find something you might enjoy and go see some theatre this weekend!)

Boston     Metro Boston
Rhode Island      Connecticut
Next to Normal Tour

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May 18

Poe’s Existentialism by Gaslight

(L To R) Resident acting company members Brian McEleney and and Phyllis Kay with Brown/Trinity Rep MFA ’12 actor Charlie Thurston as Young Edgar Poe.in the world premiere of Stephen Thorne’s The Completely Fictional – Utterly True – Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe. Set Design by Susan Zeeman Rogers, Costume Design by William Lane and Lighting Design by Keith Parham. Photo by Mark Turek.

The Completely Fictional-Utterly True-Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe by Stephen Thorne, Trinity Repertory Company, Dowling Theater, 5/6/11-6/11/11, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/ST.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Something delightfully macabre is happening at Trinity Rep.  Even Edgar Allan Poe is beside himself–literally.  Stephen Thorne spins an atmospheric tale that combines true facts, speculation, and gothic fiction in his new play The Completely Fictional-Utterly True-Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe. Trinity Rep’s world premiere entices the senses, questions reality, questions meaning, and ushers in a new form of ghost story.

Thorne’s play begins with Edgar Allan Poe in the hospital–unsure of how he got there but the attendants tell him he is dying.  Poe explores his own demise and tries to find meaning through the senses.  In the first act, he denies that he is dying and tries to discover Continue reading

Apr 24

Steel Magnolias is a tease

L to R : Rachael Warren (Truvy), Anne Scurria (Ouiser), Madeleine Lambert (Shelby) and Janice Duclos (M'Lynn) in Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias. Directed by Brian Mertes, the show runs through May 15, 2011 in the Chace Theater. Set design by Michael McGarty, lighting design by Dan Scully, costumes by William Lane. (Photo: Mark Turek)

Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, Trinity Repertory Company, 4/15/11-5/15/11.  http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/OC.php

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Most women know if they fix their hair and get it perfect, they shouldn’t mess with it.  Unfortunately, this production has sat too long coiffing itself after it already was looking good.  The beautiful script by Robert Harling and the talented ladies of the Trinity Repertory Company get lost in gimmicks and empty space.  Perhaps, in trying to distance itself from the movie, Mertes tried to make the production “new” and “fresh”, Trinity Rep’s production of Steel Magnolias loses the intimacy that the script requires. Continue reading

Mar 07

Yellowman: Shades of the Past

Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith, Trinity Repertory Company, 2/25/11-4/3/11.  http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/DM.php Contains mature language and themes

Resident acting company member Joe Wilson, Jr. as Eugene and Brown/Trinity Rep MFA actor Rachel Christopher ’11 as Alma in Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Laurie Carlos, now through April 3 at Trinity Rep. Set design by Seitu Jones, costume design by William Lane and lighting design by Michael Wangen. (photo: Mark Turek)

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

“We hate everything we are told to hate until we realize it is us, ourselves, a new baby just had as we lower her into the well.”  Laurie Carlos, Director

Are we the products of our past?  As if being birthed from their own parents’ hatred, Rachel Christopher as Alma and Joe Wilson, Jr. as Eugene enter to rhythmic breathing and begin to tell their separate, yet intermingling stories of their lives. Under the direction of Laurie Carlos, Trinity Rep creates an evening of dance and poetry–of lives brought together–and torn apart.

Alma is raised by her mother Odelia who passes on her ingrained hatred of being dark-skinned.  Alma complains about being fat and big, but even in childhood Eugene is attracted to her.  Eugene grows up being hated for his light-skin by many Continue reading

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