Dec 05

Begin the Pegeen: MAME

The cast of Mame (2016). Photo Credit: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots.

The cast of Mame (2016). St. George center stage, looking exquisite in red. Photo Credit: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots.

Presented by the Stoneham Theatre
Book by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee
Music & lyrics by Jerry Herman
Based on the novel by Patrick Dennis, and the play Auntie Mame by Lawrence and Lee
Directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
Music direction by Matthew Stern

Nov. 25 – Dec. 23, 2016
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA
ST on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
Mame gave a chump such an ice-cold “No”
For seven days they shovelled snow
So you can put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame”

Put the Blame on Mame,” from the film “Gilda” (1946), by Allan Roberts & Doris Fisher

(Stoneham, MA) Stoneham Theatre’s production of Mame dazzles. It’s a classic show with all the trimmings. Themes of classism and resulting conflicts will be only slightly offensive to gossipy, snooty attendees. It’s a nearly perfect Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/etc. treat that anyone from any doctrine can enjoy. Continue reading

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Sep 23

Hot and Bothered Art: SEMINAR

Seminar Pictures

Liz Hayes* and Jordan Ahnquist*; Photo Credit: David Costa

Presented by Stoneham Theatre
by Theresa Rebeck
directed by Weylin Symes

Stoneham, MA
Sept. 12 – 29th, 2013

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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Stoneham) You can create memorable characters on stage and just let them be who they are, and they can be like fun guests at a cocktail party, hilarious and aimless.  Or you can create wooden characters on stage and then let them come at least somewhat to life, which can win you points among theatergoers who are just happy not to fall asleep in the second act.  But it’s awfully difficult to create memorable characters and then let them struggle, flounder, and grow on stage.

Seminar at the Stoneham Theatre is that rare production that both piques our interest and takes us on a romp of a ride.  It’s as if the production set off to check all the boxes for the checklist of good theater. Continue reading

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Dec 25

Close to a Classic: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Photo: Mark Linehan* & Erin Brehm. Credit: David Costa.

Photo: Mark Linehan* & Erin Brehm. Credit: David Costa.

presented by Stoneham Theatre

adapted for the stage and directed by Weylin Symes

395 Main St. Stoneham, MA
November 23rd through December 23rd, 2012
Stoneham Theatre Facebook Page

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Stoneham) In an interview in Time Magazine, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar once quipped that every mistake he made in his first film became his signature “style” in subsequent ones. The holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t stand the test of time because it is perfect, but because of its many flaws. It is a holiday redemption story told by director Frank Capra at his most moody, and one can see why it bombed in its inaugural run at the movie houses. The script moves in a disjointed style, with a biblical fable serving as tacked-on bookends to a dark meditation on inequality in America. If not for Capra’s bold and technically-accomplished direction and the performance of a lifetime by Jimmy Stewart, the movie would be a laugher by now.

Stoneham Theatre’s staging of Weylin Symes’ theatrical adaption of Capra’s screenplay may have seemed like a safe end-of-year choice, and crowds have come in droves to see the spirited production, but this is as difficult a script as some of Shakespeare’s obscure works, and director Caitlin Lowans fails to navigate this production around many pitfalls. If not for Mark Linehan’s heart-on-sleeve performance as the desperate George Bailey and near-universal knowledge of the iconic storyline, this staging would have derailed. Continue reading

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Sep 24

Half-Baked Silliness: LUMBERJACKS IN LOVE

Photo Credit: Carla Donaghey.

BOOK AND LYRICS BY: Fred Alley
MUSIC BY: James Kaplan
STORY BY: Fred Alley & James Kaplan

presented by Stoneham Theatre
Stoneham, MA
September 13th – 30th, 2012
Stoneham Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Stoneham) There is nowhere to hide with a new musical. Unlike a fresh drama, where an audience can be tricked into going along if there’s enough shouting, as soon as an actor opens her mouth to start singing, the audience can tell whether the song enhances or detracts from the plot, usually with disastrous results. Continue reading

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Dec 04

Commiserating in Catholicism: Sister’s Christmas Catechism

"Sister" Denise Fennell, photo credit: EEI.

Sister’s Christmas Catechism by Maripat Donovan with Jane Morris and Marc Silvia, Stoneham Theatre, 11/25/11-12/23/11 (in repertory with The Nutcracker),  http://www.stonehamtheatre.org/holidayshows2011.html.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Stoneham, MA) “How many of you used to get hit with a wooden spoon?” deadpans Sister (Denise Fennell) in the middle of the one-woman show, Sister’s Christmas Catechism.  Hands shoot up in the audience, the owners near tears with laughing.  “We used to run as soon as my mom reached for the drawer.”

The audience reaction should seem sad.  Such a statement feels more at home in the setting of a support group.  Yet through Fennell’s deft handling of the subject-matter, it often is funny.  Sister’s Christmas Catechism is filled with ad-libbed material that tap-dances on the most sensitive spots of the recovering Catholic psyche, and it takes Fennel’s sharp comic timing and extreme “been-there-done-that” sensitivity to pull it off. Continue reading

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Nov 27

The Nutcracker: Reinventing Sugar Plum Fairies with Sugar Plum Cookies

Toys standing on left (L-R): Alycia Sacco (as doll Phoebe), Grant MacDermott (as Monkey), Nick Sulfaro (as Hugo); Seated on right (L-R): Danny Bryck (as Fritz), Sirena Abalian (as Clara). Stoneham Theatre's "The Nutcracker" is directed by Caitlin Lowans. All photographs taken by Carla Donaghey.

The Nutcracker as imagined The House Theatre of Chicago, based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffman, book by Phillip Klapperich and Jake Minton, music by Kevin O’Donnell, lyrics by Jake Minton, Stoneham Theatre, 11/25/11-12/22/11, http://www.stonehamtheatre.org/holidayshows2011.html.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Stoneham, MA) With a contemporary setting and opening scenes that take place at a Christmas party, Stoneham Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker” promises to be a modern update of the classic E.T.A. Hoffman children’s book and eventual ballet by Tchaikovsky.  A sudden chill interrupts the family scene when it’s announced that Fritz (Danny Bryck), the older brother of Clara (Sirena Abalian), has died while serving in the military.

In the fallout of this tonal shift, the party guests dispose of the Christmas tree like pallbearers taking away a coffin.  The core members of the family, including parents Meagan Hawkes and Mark Linehan, continue to grieve.  From there, the original story is used as a springboard for Clara to deal with the loss of her brother. Continue reading

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Oct 26

A Play of Imagination Leaves Little to Imagine

The Turn of the Screw by Jeffrey Hatcher, Stoneham Theatre, 10/21/10-11/7/10

http://www.stonehamtheatre.org/

Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Gianni Downs’ minimalistic scenery welcomes the audience to an atmospheric ghost story.  As the audience enters the theatre, they see a raked black stage with a single deep purple velvet chair and slight blue lighting on the stage.  However, the main focal point runs from the stage to the balcony—a collection of ropes tied off in waves across the ceiling that lead to ropes hanging down next to the chair.  I’m intrigued.  Upon reading the director’s notes in the program, I am enthusiastic to see her desire to honor Henry James’ preference to leave fear to the imagination.  Unfortunately, from the time the house lights go down to the curtain call, I see too much.  The heavy-handed interpretation of the director combined with exaggerated characterizations lead to a production that is only scary in that it does not trust its material or its audience. Continue reading

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