(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 →
(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 →
(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 →
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 →
(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 →
(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 →
(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 →
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.
(Watertown, MA)The Third Story is Charles Busch’s devotional to Mothers and their Mama’s Boys everywhere. Screenwriter Peg lures her son Drew back into the business via a narrative of Gangster Noir, B-movie Sci-Fi, Russian fairytale and the kind of motherly affection psychologists use to warm their couches. Peg’s excuse is McCarthyism but her vehicle is a journey through the psyche of a co-dependent man emotionally unprepared to leave the nest. Continue reading →
(Watertown, MA) I grew up believing Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice represented the theatrical establishment to overthrow. They wrote the stuff that mediocre crooners sang on cheesy records sold to bored housewives. They cursedly created the material for the medley that my 7th grade choir was forced to sing, filled with needless trills and fills. Continue reading →