Jan 26

Manni on “Sondheim on Sondheim”

Photo credit: Mark S. Howard

Photo credit: Mark S. Howard

Presented by Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Conceived by James Lapine

Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Musical Direction by Jonathan Goldberg
Choreography by Ilyse Robbins

January 15-February 21, 2016
Lyric Stage on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) Stephen Sondheim is a widely cherished American lyricist and composer of countless musicals. His resume is both expansive and impressive, so a man named James Lapine decided to create a biographical show that incorporated musical numbers interspersed with videos of Sondheim talking about his life and influences, and it was ok I guess. Continue reading

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Apr 25

Integrity Sells for So Little: CITY OF ANGELS

Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo by Mark S. Howard

Presented by Lyric Stage Co. of Boston
Book by Larry Gelbart
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by David Zippel
Vocal arrangements by Cy Coleman and Yaron Gershovsky
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Music direction by Catherine Stornetta
Choreography & musical staging by Rachel Bertone

March 27 – May 2, 2015
Boston, MA
Lyric on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) City of Angels pays homage to film noir with tongue firmly in cheek sexual innuendo and integrated design film tropes. The Lyric Stage Co. of Boston brings life to this beloved musical with panache and two shakes of wit with inspired clever projection design by Jonathan Carr and zippy choreography by Rachel Bertone. This production is great fun. The book and lyrics are clever. The score, vocal and instrumental, is inherently singable. The artistic upsides far outweigh the downsides. An evening spent at COA is one well spent. Continue reading

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Sep 08

“Sweeney Todd” Delights in Dire Tragedy

Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo by Mark S. Howard. Christopher Chew, Paul C. Soper.

Presented by the Lyric Stage of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed & Staged by Spiro Veloudos
Music Director, Jonathan Goldberg

Sept. 5 – Oct. 11, 2014
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
Lyric on Facebook

Review Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In today’s entertainment landscape, probably the most surprising thing about The Lyric Stage’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is how un-sexy it makes murder. No, grisly death probably shouldn’t be attractive as a rule, but television shows like Hannibal and Dexter and even some thriller novels give serial killers a stylized warmth. Blood is splashed artfully over plastic tarps and cannibalized flesh is prepared with exquisite attention to detail for unsuspecting dinner guests. Stephen Sondheim’s infamous musical gives us only Sweeney Todd’s icy vengeance, spinning more out of control with every throat he slits in his barber’s chair, and Mrs. Lovett’s questionable baking skills. Continue reading

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May 16

Right is Better Than Nice: INTO THE WOODS

Photo by Mark S. Howard. The cast; kicking ass and taking names in The Woods.

 

Presented by Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Directed & staged by Spiro Veloudos
Music directed by Catherine Stornetta

May 9 – June 15, 2014
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
The Lyric on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(BostonInto the Woods is a tough nut to crack. On the one hand, it’s a classic and butts will fill seats faster than Satan fills a church on Sunday. On the other, it’s a classic and everyone who loves this show will have an opinion that they swear it’s the only legit one because they saw that Broadway performance that one time… on DVD. The Lyric Stage Co’s production is good but not good enough to silence the naysayers (the lines to the bathrooms were all atwitter with sarcasm). The audience community of Boston is protective of their favorite shows. This one falls under the blanket of shows that the community will fight for to the death (of their subscription). Continue reading

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Feb 27

Sins of the Father: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Photo by Mark S. Howard.

Photo by Mark S. Howard.

Presented by Lyric Stage Co of Boston (40 Years)
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Spiro Veloudos

February 14 to March 15, 2014
Boston, MA
Lyric Stage on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

From the program notes: Robert N. Wilson, The Writer as Social Seer

“Willy’s failure is our failure, for we are also involved in the cult of success, and we, too, measure men by occupational attainment rather than by some sympathetic calculus of the whole human being. We are all partners in the American Dream and parties to the conspiracy of silence surrounding the fact that failures must by definition outnumber successes, given our cultural ground rules and or singular interpretations of the words ‘success’ and ‘failure’.”

(Boston) There is so much that The Lyric’s production of Death of a Salesman gets right. This is a fantastic production – the best of theirs I’ve seen all season, which is saying a lot for a theatre that regularly that creates solid art. It is the same cut and dried script that generations have come to love with a few spins that make it new and poignant.   Continue reading

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Jan 09

“33 Variations”: Beethoven Mired in Melodrama

Photo credit: Mark S. Howard; snuggles with Beethoven.

Photo credit: Mark S. Howard; snuggles with Beethoven.

By Moises Kaufman
Directed by Spiro Veloudos

presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston
140 Clarendon Street, 2nd floor
Boston, MA  02116
Lyric Stage Facebook Page

Review  by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) In Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations, only works of genius transcend death. Musicologist Dr. Katherine Brandt (Paula Plum) throws herself into her studies of Ludwig van Beethoven when diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Brandt’s crisis is contrasted with Beethoven (James Andreassi) as he loses his hearing in 1823.

The contemporary setting is ultimately too light when played side by side with history. Katherine fights against her illness tooth and nail as she struggles to complete her research in Germany, but where that illness should be driving the drama, it instead turns 33 Variations into an issue piece when it could have been so much more.

Katherine’s strained relationship with her daughter, Clara (Dakota Shepard), never feels terribly real, which is disappointing. I understand why Katherine demands perfection of her adult child but I don’t understand why those demands still inspire such loyalty in Clara. It’s not that it isn’t heartening to watch her help Katherine through her sickness, but the relationship feels weak.

Even weaker, though, is Clara’s romance with Mike Clark (Kelby T. Akin), her mother’s nurse. It’s cute in a romantic comedy sort of way. Still, a male nurse dating a distressed, emotionally vulnerable woman strains believability. Despite this, their courtship is cute and humorous. Remembering his profession and under what circumstances their affair transpires, though, wrecks the illusion.

33 Variations is most alive when it deals with history and those obsessed with it. Beethoven’s struggle to write thirty-three variations of a mediocre waltz is thrilling. We can see exactly why Katherine is so passionate about him and his life. It also explains why a friendship grows between her and Dr. Gertrude Ladenburger (Maureen Keiller) while they do research in the Beethoven archives. The really interesting story, the one about art and talent transcending time, is there. It’s just buried under melodrama.

Now, the melodrama isn’t all bad, but it’s best when finding the bittersweet humor of Katherine’s difficulties. Otherwise, the story of a genius plagued by the perils of infirmity has been done before and better. Here, despite Paula Plum’s nuanced acting, the story drags.

Perhaps the strongest quality of the play is the way in which this well-mined material is staged. The actors really throw themselves into their roles, deftly pealing away the layers of melancholy to the humor and hope beneath the material. Pianist Catherine Stornetta does the most to breathe life into the show as she plays each variation.

It’s also magical to watch Beethoven share the stage with Katherine. When Katherine talks with Clara and Beethoven yells at his assistant, Anton Schindler (Victor L. Shopov), their conversations in their respective eras weave together. They are separate from each other only by degrees, knitted together by the desire to continue living fully and happily.

For the play, it’s an unfortunate separation that does it no favors. Katherine’s own deterioration is depicted well, but much too weak to carry a story on its own. As it is, 33 Variations tugs heartstrings, but doesn’t transcend its melodramatic trappings. If only the show had been more ambitious, maybe even as ambitious as the art that it depicts, then it would have really shined.

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Sep 13

Election-Year Escapism: THE MIKADO

Erica Spyres (Yum-Yum) and cast of The Mikado at The Lyric Stage. Photo by Mark S. Howard

The Mikado, music by Arthur Sullivan, libretto by W.S. Gilbert
Directed by Spiro Veloudos

Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA
September 9 – October 13

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

It is rare to see good actors overacting, over-annunciating and mugging the audience to ring out every laugh. It is even rarer to enjoy every minute of it. In the Lyric Stage Company’s staging of Gilbert and Sullivan’s the Mikado, you get the delicious treat of both.

If you have never seen a Gilbert and Sullivan play, then now’s the time to get initiated with this production. Continue reading

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May 10

Geeks Nerds and Artists Episode 6: Spiro Veloudos

photo credit: Lyric Stage of Boston

Episode 6: Geeks, Nerds & Artists Podcast: Spiro Veloudos, Artistic Director of Lyric Stage Company of Boston and director of current production of Avenue Q

http://www.lyricstage.com/

Avenue Q: May 11-June 24, 2012 (it is selling out presently)

Spiro Veloudos is the Producing Artistic Director of The Lyric Stage Company. and has been honored with numerous awards and honors including The Elliot Norton Award and The Independent Reviews of New England (IRNE) Award. He has been personally honored with the 2006 Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, Stage Source’s 2002 Theatre Hero Award and was cited as the city’s Best Artistic Director by Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston program in 1999. Continue reading

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Jan 16

A Mainly Nutritious Treat: Superior Donuts

Will LeBow, Omar Robinson. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts, Lyric Stage, 1/6/12-2/4/12, https://lyricstage.com/main_stage/superior_donuts/.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) Allow me to digress right from the get-go and say that it’s worth the price of admission of Superior Donuts to watch Lyric Stage Producing Artistic Director Spiro Veloudos give his send-up of the standard fire-exits-and-cell-phones spiel before this play begins. A theater that sets loose a dry wit like Veloudos on the crowd before the play begins is bound to produce something worthwhile.

And Superior Donuts doesn’t disappoint.  Continue reading

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Sep 08

Big River: A Journey of Human Nature

Jordan Ahnquist as Huckleberry Finn and De'Lon Grant as Jim. Photo by Mark S. Howard

 

Big River, Music and Lyrics by Roger Miller, Book by William Hauptman, Lyric Stage, 9/2/11-10/8/11.  https://lyricstage.com/now_playing/big_river/.  Family Friendly.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Lyric Stage’s production of Big River celebrates the imagination of Mark Twain.  Based on the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the show explores the American landscape of the 1800’s.  The production shines a light on the various forms of humanity that Twain observed in his own travels.  His words come alive through a rousing score, talented cast, and innovative staging. Continue reading

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