Nov 23

Festive and Fun: “A Civil War Christmas: an American Musical Celebration”

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Presented by Wellesley College Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel
Music by Daryl Waters
Directed by Nora Hussey

November 18 – 22
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
Wellesly, MA
WCT on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

Christmas theatre is a very specific genre that requires a very particular mix to make effective (or even palatable).  The recipe starts with good old-fashioned holiday cheer; add a dash of nostalgia, a hint of history, a generous helping of family values, and (of course) finish with a generous sprinkling of festive music.  Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration has all the necessary ingredients for the Christmas genre, but actually performing it requires a special touch.  The piece’s simplistic dialogue which features such tropes as characters telling you who they are before they begin to speak (“In the West Wing of the White House, President Lincoln’s maid was cleaning the floor…. Hi, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show tonight?”) that have the danger to edge this play towards the realm of children’s theatre cheesiness, or satirical campiness. Continue reading

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Dec 10

Song, Cheer, and Social Misfits: “A Christmas Carol”

 

 

Presented by Anthem Theatre Company
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Steve Wargo
Musical Arrangements by Dianne Adams-McDowell
Directed by Michael Poignand

12/5/2013 — 12/21/2013
Boston Center for the Arts
Plaza Black Box Theater
Boston, MA
Anthem Theatre Co on Facebook

2 hours, 15 minutes with one intermission.

 

 

 

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Though remembered largely as a cheerful, life-affirming tale about learning to embrace kindness, A Christmas Carol is, really, a ghost story. Ebenezer Scrooge (Kevin B. McGlynn) contemplates loneliness and the end of his life as he’s visited by spirits that embody his past, present, and future. Anthem Theatre Company gives us a stripped down Victorian play, a musical with literal Christmas carols to color a melancholy London and the workhouse realities of its Industrial Revolution. Continue reading

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May 21

“Pirates of Penzance” Pillages Hearts

Emily Casey, Sean Pfautsch, Matt Kahler, Ryan Bourque, Dana Omar. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

presented by American Repertory Theater
produced by The Hypocrites
by Gilbert & Sullivan
adapted by Sean Graney, Kevin O’Donnell
directed by Sean Graney

Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Hypocrites’ Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge) The Hypocrites’ production of Pirates of Penzance is an absolute confection.  Adapting the beloved Gilbert and Sullivan operetta to a quirkier, more contemporary stage, Sean Graney and Kevin O’Donnell infuse the original libretto and its score with banjos, bathing suits, beach balls, and a warmth that charms but never cloys.  It’s energetic and just plain fun.

Premiering in New York in 1879, the original show has a long history of making audiences titter at lyrics like, “I am the very model of a modern major general.”  The comic opera lampoons Victorian concepts of honor, piracy, politeness, the literary inconveniences of being a foundling, and, most importantly, duty. Continue reading

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