Aug 05

It’s Only Torture if Organs Fail: “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them”

Photo Credit: Titanic Theatre Co’s Facebook page. The company is not afraid of icebergs or snuggles.

By Christopher Durang
Directed by Adam Zahler
Presented by Titanic Theatre Company

July 25-August 10, 2013
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
Titanic Theatre Co Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

M for Mature. Actors occasionally appear in their underoos.

(Watertown) The attack on the two towers in NYC and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 changed the way the United States viewed itself forever. Before that day, many citizens viewed North America as the most powerful entity in the world. After 9/11, we recognized our vulnerability as a country. Almost everyone was looking for answers. There were many who turned to The Arts for catharsis. These same people reacted in anger when artists turned back to them for compassion. The Arts were supposed to provide answers. While coping with the same shock, we artists didn’t know what to do either.

It’s been 12 years since the attacks and the US is still divided. Our media has moved on to bigger and newer things. But our artists are still processing the events and asking questions. The media has given the American people plenty of reasons to explain why Taliban members attacked. Thank goodness for The Arts. Playwright Christopher Durang hasn’t given up on understanding the U.S.’s response to the attacks of 9/11. Rather than focus on the “badness” of Ossama Bin Laden*, Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them ponders the American people’s decade-long reaction from the perspective of western, 20/20 hindsight. He peppers his absurdist play with Dadaism and panic. The script is a sweet bouquet of human experience and dramatic flair. Continue reading

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May 29

“Faerie Tales” Double Feature


presented by Blue Spruce Theatre

Act 1: “Goblin Market”
by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon
Music by Polly Pen
Based on the poem by Christina Rossetti

Act 2: World Premiere of “The Rag Doll”
Music and Lyrics by David Reiffel
Book by Silvia Graziano

Directed by Jesse Strachman
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Kira Cowan

May 23-26, 2013
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Blue Spruce Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown) Blue Spruce Theatre’s Faerie Tales has a bit of charm, some nice music, and an engaging visual style. None of these things, however, manage to carry the show on their own. This is very sad as there are elements in the play, like fairies and the importance of family, that I adore when utilized in other media.

Faerie Tales uses two different stories that overlap in theme. The first act is devoted to adapting Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, to the stage. Laura (Teresa Winner Blume) and Lizzie (Abigail Clarke) are sisters who stumble on a magical fairy marketplace. Lizzie shies away from eating the market food and going near the animal-like creatures, but Laura is too taken with their strangeness and is immediately seduced into spending a night among the goblins. When her sister returns and begins to grow ill, Lizzie struggles to find a cure. Continue reading

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May 06

Struggling with Genius: AMADEUS

Photo: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
A play with music by Peter Shaffer
Directed by Jim Petosa

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
April 28th – May 19th, 2013
New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) The story goes that an earnest young monk once asked a Zen master to describe the immaculate nature of the Buddha.  The Zen Master, most likely with an insufferable grin on his face, pointed to a pile of dung.

This sums up the life of Antonio Salieri (Benjamin Evett) in the spirited production of Amadeus being staged at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.  Salieri, an accomplished composer who writes operas for Hapsburg monarchs, dedicates his life to capture the music of God.  Instead, he discovers his own private dung heap in the form of a foul-mouthed former child prodigy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tim Spears).  Salieri is crushed to learn that Mozart, a drunk, womanizing jerk, has a much clearer channel to God’s radio station and can compose the most beautiful music the world has ever known, even while playing billiards.  It drives the devout Italian composer to lose both his faith and his scruples. Continue reading

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Apr 02

Properly and Honestly: MASTER CLASS

Amelia Broome as Maria Callas; Photo: Rob Lorino

Presented by New Repertory Theatre

A play with music by Terrence McNally
Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA 02472
March 31 – April 21, 2013
New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown) Amelia Broome doesn’t use a Greek accent in her portrayal as international treasure and opera superstar, Maria Callas. The audience doesn’t have the luxury of knowing why Broome chose not to use an accent. Broome’s performance is effective without one so the reasons don’t matter.

Master Class is a grand opportunity for non-Classical singers (plebes) to experience the horror and joy that is operatic study. It is a (relatively) cheap vocal coaching for its length and history wrapped in a convenient package. The dialogue is only slightly dramatized for the benefit of the audience. The majority of Callas’ lessons and helpful hints are comments that any voice teacher could and would give her student. The majority of these same lessons and hints are conveyed in a similar manner as well. Continue reading

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Jan 14

Incomplete Sweetness: MARRY ME A LITTLE

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

presented by New Repertory Theatre

songs by Stephen Sondheim
conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene
directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
musical direction by David McGrory

Arsenal Center for the Arts
in the Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA
January 6th – January 27th, 2013
New Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) As a songwriter, Stephen Sondheim is better than you.  He just is.

He mastered the art of straightforward musicals with West Side Story and he’s been toying with us ever since.  After figuring out what sappy audiences want in a love song, he’s been not giving it to them, choosing instead to dwell in the tensions and the ambiguities of our romantic natures in lovely, sonic dissonance. Continue reading

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Jan 13

Office Space on Downers: THE MEMORANDUM

Photo credit: Flat Earth Theatre; a normal day at the office.

Photo credit: Flat Earth Theatre; a normal day at the office.

presented by Flat Earth Theatre

By Václav Havel
Translated by Vera Blackwell
Directed by Victoria Rose Townsend

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
January 11th – 19th, 2013
Flat Earth Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

If Václav Havel’s life is any indication, it may wise not to let your biography get more interesting than your scripts. The Czech playwright went from a persecuted critic of Communism to his country’s first freely-elected president. His play, The Memorandum, here translated by Vera Blackwell, now often inevitably is viewed through that lens. Continue reading

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Oct 21

An Incomplete Sentence: RACE

Photo Credit: New Repertory Theatre; the cast

by David Mamet
Directed by Robert Walsh

presented by the New Repertory Theatre
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
October 14th – November 4th, 2012

New Rep Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) It’s become trickier to discuss racism in the post-2008 election era than it was before. We have elected a black president, many hope to say, and that is enough.

Leave it to troublemaking playwright David Mamet to clear his throat amid the quiet in 2009 with his biting and succinct dramatic comedy, Race, now being performed by the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown. His play refuses to rest on recent racial gains, instead showing the trouble beneath the surface, the kind
that otherwise is obscured unless a police officer arrests a Harvard professor or a neighborhood watchman shoots an unarmed teen. Mamet’s script sparks necessary dialogue about an uncomfortable subject, but the flawed storyline of the play, combined with uneven execution by New Rep’s cast, misses the opportunity to create deeper understanding of inherent social inequality. Continue reading

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Oct 15

Some Freedoms are More Free than Others: “Parade”

Photo credit: F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company, the cast with director Joey DeMita kickin’ it.

book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown

Directed by Joey DeMita
Music Directed by Steven Bergman

The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company
Oct 12- Oct 20, 2012
The Arsenal Center for the Arts Black Box
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, Massachusetts

F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown) A True Story: Mr. Leo Frank was infamously the prime suspect in the murder trial of a young National Pencil Company factory worker, Mary Phagan in 1913. Jim Conley, the factory janitor, was also held as a suspect. Frank was sentenced to death; Conley was sentenced to work on a chain gang. Later, Frank’s sentence was commuted in 1915 to life in prison. Local public outrage inspired a lynch mob to kidnap Frank, drive him back to Marietta, Georgia, where the murder took place, and hang him. Parade spans the trial and 2 year imprisonment of Frank. Continue reading

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Sep 16

Brilliance and Bravery in New Rep’s “The Kite Runner”

The Kite Runner adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler.
Novel by the same name by author Khaled Hosseini.
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue.

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Performances, September 9-30, 2012
New Repertory Theater
Charles Mosesian Theater
Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA 02472

New Repertory Theater Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown) New Rep’s The Kite Runner is adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler from the novel by the same name by author Khaled Hosseini. Director, Elaine Vaan Hogue, interprets her subject with fresh perspective in our post-9/11 world with compassion and ingenuity. Continue reading

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Sep 02

One Performance Left! Luminarium Dance Company’s Mythos/Pathos

Luminarium Dance Company presents
Mythos:Pathos
August 31 @ 8pm
September 1 @ 8pm
September 2 @ 4pm
in Black Box Theater
at Arsenal Center for the Arts

Watertown, MA

Purchase tickets at http://www.LuminariumDance.org/buy-tickets or call 617-477-4494 to reserve

(copy from Arsenal Center for the Arts)

Luminarium Dance will debut its new full-length performance Mythos:Pathos throughout August. The work will explore lesser-known characters and under-examined storylines of Greek mythology from a contemporary viewpoint. Artistic Directors Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman are proud to weave these familiar myths into a cohesive saga, while coloring the production with innovative choreography. Mythos:Pathos also features nontraditional lighting design by Matthew Breton, that manifests in unique ways onstage, from wearable to handheld lighting. This new work will incorporate materials donated by the communities of Somerville and Watertown that will be used to construct installations on and offstage.

Luminarium plans to preview the project in Somerville. In late August, Luminarium will bring an evolved form of the project to the Arsenal Center for the Arts, for a one-week residency, including a gallery exhibit in the lobby. This performance at the Arsenal Center for the Arts offers a pre-show installation performance art series, followed by a full dance performance in the Black Box Theater.

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