Nov 08

A Parody of an Autobiography: Kurt Vonnegut’s MAKE UP YOUR MIND

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Barlow Adamson and Tracy Goss in Kurt Vonnegut’s Make Up Your Mind. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Written by Kurt Vonnegut
Assembled by Nicky Silver
Directed by Cliff Fannin Baker

Oct. 30 – Nov. 30, 2013
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Speakeasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Make Up Your Mind was assembled by Nicky Silver from 11 drafts of an unfinished play written by Kurt Vonnegut. To repeat: this is a play by Kurt Vonnegut and edited by Nicky Silver. It was not thought up and written by Silver. To hear the complaints made about this show, one would think that it was written by meth addled donkeys. If there is fault (and there is), then the fault lies with Vonnegut who didn’t even get to finish the darn thing before his tragic death in 2007. Rather than dwell on the negative, let’s focus on the fact that we get one more nugget of gold from our dearly departed author. Continue reading

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Sep 24

ADA Approved for the Mainstream: TRIBES

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Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo; Erica Spyres and James Caverly conversating.

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Co.
by Nina Raine
directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

September 13 – October 12
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook

There will be two ASL-interpreted performances:  Sunday, October 6 at 7PM and Friday, October 11 at 8PM.

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Southie) It is always a relief to see minorities portrayed by the Arts as their community deserves; with dignity, love and respect. We, the disabled, weren’t/aren’t always seen this way. It was (and still is) a commonly held belief of the Christian persuasion that people were born disabled as a punishment from God for sinning. This is despite Jesus saying that the disabled were walking, talking acts of God (John Chapter 9 verses 1-3). In specific, Christians used to believe that, since a deaf person couldn’t hear the word of God, they then couldn’t know God. Fast forward to modern day, the stigmas still exist even with the ADA protecting us. This is why it was so humbling to watch Speakeasy’s intelligent production of Tribes last Saturday. My hope is that this production is a sign that society is ready to welcome the disabled into the mainstream. Continue reading

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May 13

A Movement in Technicolor: IN THE HEIGHTS

Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Music directed by Nicholas James Connell
Choreography by Larry Sousa

Boston Center for the Arts
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Speakeasy Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) In the Heights tackles heavy subjects such as endemic poverty, Immigration Reform, affordable education and racial stereotype with canny artistic expression. This community in Washington Heights might be needy but they are not poor. They are proud, hardworking and passionate people who strive for a better life. Just like you and me.

This music incorporates traditional Latin dance with Rap, Hiphop, and Flow poetry, among many others. The dancing looks like it is straight from America’s Best Dance Crew. The ensemble dance scenes are electric and justifiably make the show the stand-out production that it is. The cast adapts to the different styles and each other with such ease it’s as if they studied at the same school. Continue reading

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Mar 04

Clybourne Park: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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Michael Kaye, Thomas Derrah, Marvelyn McFarlane, DeLance Minefee, Paula Plum, and Tim Spears in a scene from SpeakEasy Stage’s production of Clybourne Park, running March 1-30 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Tickets/info at speakeasystage.com or 617.933.8600. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

By Bruce Norris

Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company

March 1 – March 30

Nancy & Edward Roberts Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts Boston, MA

Speakeasy Stage Co Facebook Page

Review by Becca Kidwell

A strong script elevates a performance or points out the flaws of the company.  Speakeasy Stage’s production of Clybourne Park demonstrates its mastery through a strong ensemble, innovative set, and smart direction.  After seeing Clybourne Park, there is no question why this clever, dark play won at the Tony Awards in 2012.  When Boston sees Speakeasy Stage’s production, they will be talking about it for the rest of 2013 (Norton and IRNE awards in its future?).  The ensemble, comprised of Paula Plum, Thomas Derrah, Marvelyn McFarlane, Tim Spears, DeLance Minefee, Michael Kaye, and Philana Mia, pulls the audience into a dynamic confrontation between politics and politeness that never apologizes Continue reading

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Jan 16

“Other Desert Cities”: Facades Collide With Reality

Photo caption: Anne Gottlieb and Christopher M. Smith in a scene from SpeakEasy Stage's production of Other DesertCities, running January 11 through February 9 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Tickets at speakeasystage.com or 617.933.8600. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Photo caption: Anne Gottlieb and Christopher M. Smith, Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

By Jon Robin Baitz
Directed by Scott Edmiston

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
January 11 – February 9
Wimberly Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Speakeasy Stage Co Facebook Page

Review by Becca Kidwell

(Boston) At a time when nostalgia for the eighties is heightening (neon, rubber bracelets, leg warmers,
cut off tees), Jon Robin Baitz reminds us that our recent past was neither as lavish or simple
as we would like to contain it. As the last of the Reaganite politicians cling desperately to
the “grand old party,” gen-xers (like myself) try to find meaning out of a part of seeming trivial
history. Baitz sends a thermobaric weapon to the Wyeth household in the form of Brooke Wyeth, played by Anne Gottlieb. Continue reading

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Oct 23

Accidentally Sexy: “Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson”

Photo by Craig Bailey / Perspective Photo. The show is accidentally sexy; the cast is sexy on purpose.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company

Written by Alex Timbers
Music & Lyrics by Michael Friedman
Directed by Paul Melone
Music directed by Nick Connell

SpeakEasy Stage Company
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
October 19 – November 17, 2012

SpeakEasy Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) President Andrew Jackson (Gus Curry) invented the Democratic Party but was infamous for hating the English, the Spanish, American Aristocracy and Native American Indians. The book by Alex Timbers presents President Jackson as an angsty young man bristling with frenetic energy. He loves Populism, his wife Rachel and representing “The Voice of the People.” His hobbies include building the Trail of Tears, guns and erratic behavior. Even though there’s 100 years difference between his era and ours, not much has changed in politics: some political leaders just love a tantrum. Continue reading

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Sep 24

Redemption in the Motherf**cker with the Hat

Photo Credit: SpeakEasy Stage Company

by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by David R. Gammons

presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
539 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
SpeakEasy Stage Company Facebook Page
September 14 – October 13, 2012

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Speakeasy Stage’s The Motherf**ker with the Hat is a dark comedy that never quite tips over into bleak. Its main characters are addicts, recovering and otherwise, but they either have a sense of humor about it or have learned to accept their shortcomings. Fresh out of jail, Jackie (Jaime Carrillo) tries to break the tight circuit of repeating behaviors that has him locked into a pattern of loving, drinking, and messing up. Continue reading

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May 27

Connecting with the Cheerfully Cheesy “Xanadu”

McCaela Donovan and Ryan Overberg, Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Xanadu, book by Douglas Carter Beane, music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, Speakeasy Stage Company, Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 5/11/12-6/9/12, http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=xanadu.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

Xanadu, the 1980 film featuring Olivia Newton John and music by the Electric Light Orchestra, is well known for being a critical flop.  The chief crime of this cinematic musical, however, is in creating entertainment that doesn’t connect with its audience.  After all, it’s a movie about disco released a year after the genre died a largely un-mourned death.  I’m hard pressed to find a better image of disconnection than that.

In being brought to the stage, Xanadu has finally found its correct medium.  The show not only finds its audience but winks at it furiously throughout the course of the story. Continue reading

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Apr 22

EPISODE 1 GEEKS, NERDS & ARTISTS Janie E. Howland

Episode 1:  Geeks, Nerds & Artists Podcast: Janie E. Howland 10 April 2012

Photos of designs are displayed in this Flickr photoset.

Interview with Boston based set designer Janie E. Howland.  http://www.janiehowland.com

Credits include: Long Day’s Journey Into Night (New Rep), The Miracle Worker (Wheelock Family Theatre), History Boys and 5 by Tenn (Speakeasy Stage), Big River (Lyric Stage Company), Tonya & Nancy (Oberon), Breaking the Code (Underground Railway), Spring Awakening and Little Women (Boston Children’s Theatre). Venues include: Weston Playhouse, NSMT, New Rep, ART Instit., Nora Theatre, Stoneham Theatre, Seacoast Rep, Merrimack Repertory, Wheelock Family Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre Studio 210, Opera Boston, Emerson Stage, Barnstormers, Foothills Theatre. Founding member of CYCO SCENIC; MFA from Brandeis University; 2009, 2006 and 1997 winner of the Elliot Norton Award; 2007 & 2006 winner of the IRNE award; part time faculty at Wellesley College and Emerson College; USA local 829.

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Mar 17

We Have Mental Illness: NEXT TO NORMAL

A woman (Kerry A. Dowling) fantasizes about her psychopharmacologist (Chris Caron) in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of Next to Normal, running now thru April 15th 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/www.SpeakEasyStage.com. Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Next to Normal; Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston Center for the Arts Roberts Studio Theatre, 3/9/12-   4/15/12,   EXTENDED THROUGH 4/22/12 (Second and Final Extension)!!! http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=normal.

Read Rebecca’s interview with Kerry Dowling here.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) Break a toe and you might end up with a sore back.  Twist an ankle and your knee might have trouble compensating.  A family is like that.  It is a group of humans that moves in concert and is much more adaptable than a body, for better or worse.  When a part of the social organism is injured, the other parts imperfectly try to take up the load.  What else can you do, amputate?

Speakeasy’s production of Next to Normal provides a clear window into the holistic impact the mental illness of one member of the family has on the family-body.  It realistically and powerfully illustrates how we all soldier on when there are pieces of us missing.  But this isn’t an “Eat-Your-Vegetables-and-Learn-About-Mental-Illness” production.  Next to Normal provides pitch-perfect comedic timing, layered action, great music and a stunning set.  Life flows through this play; though it is heartbreaking, it is not a requiem.  Tissues are a must, however. Continue reading

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