Dec 13

A Christmas Story: Resurrecting Americana for the Holidays

l. to r. Adam Freeman as Schwartz, Charlie Brodigan as Flick, Lexi Ryan as Esther Jane, and Andrew Cekala as Young Ralphie. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures

A Christmas Story, adapted/written by Philip Grecian, New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 12/11/11-12/24/11, http://newrep.org/christmas_story.php.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA) Like the film it’s adapted from, the stage version of A Christmas Story paints a childhood spent during the holidays in a golden glow.  Yes, the flustered family of Ralphie (Andrew Cekala) meet nothing but frustrations as they try to pull Christmas together against mean-spirited neighborhood dogs, hideous bunny suits, and intimidating department store Santas, but their holiday is ultimately a nostalgic one. Continue reading

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Nov 30

Three Viewings: Humor and Human Folly at the Graveside

Adrianne Krstansky as Virginia in Three Viewings. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Three Viewings by Jeffrey Hatcher, New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 11/27/11-12/18/11, http://newrep.org/three_viewings.php.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA) Three Viewings is the kind of theatrical outing that I cannot recommend highly enough, a play where writer Jeffrey Hatcher deftly and comically attempts to capture the variation and nuance of human nature. Continue reading

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Nov 06

Spring Awakening: Must See Anachronistic Musical of Teenage Repression

Spring Awakening, music by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics by Steven Sater, The F.U.D.G,E Theatre Company, Black Box Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 11/4/11-11/12/11, http://www.fudgetheatre.com/.  Adult Themes and Language.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

 

(Watertown, MA)  Spring Awakening is not a show I would recommend; instead, it is a show I would require audiences to see.  Despite the early-20th century backdrop of Germany, the pop-rock musical is a thinly veiled indictment of contemporary repression of teenage sexuality.  Members of the cast occasionally wear anachronistic clothing: goggles, fingerless gloves, and sneakers.  If not for the pervasive nature of the Internet in our modern times and the sometimes salacious information it provides, the play would be perfectly suited for a contemporary adaptation in Middle America.

Instead, we follow our main character, Melchior Gabor, passionately played by Jared Walsh, as he deals with the puberty, lust, and lack of information plaguing his age group.  The adults in his community, varied roles all played fantastically by Linda Goetz and Jim Fitzpatrick, refuse to give their children and charges any information that would make their transitions into adulthood easier.  Continue reading

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May 10

PASSING STRANGE: More than ‘the real’

The cast of Passing Strange. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

 Passing Strange, book and lyrics by Stew, music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, New Repertory Theatre, The Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 5/1/11-5/22/11, http://newrep.org/passing_strange.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

New Repertory Theatre’s production of Passing Strange examines a classical theme in a post-modern construct–the quest for the meaning of life.  Like Candide and Pippin, the youth in Passing Strange leaves his familiar surroundings to find “the real” or the meaningful existence but finds only more illusion and more questions.  New Rep’s masterful presentation carries the audience along the journey, earnestly hoping the youth will find what he is looking for.

If New Repertory Theatre uses even half of the talent from Passing Strange for their fall production of Rent, they will have another hit on their hands.  The vibrant cast of Passing Strange electrifies the concert-style stage with their performances. Continue reading

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Nov 30

Love in the Moonlight

(front to back) Anne Gottlieb (Frankie) and Robert Pemberton (Johnny) in FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE. Photo by Christopher McKenzie.

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally, New Repertory Theatre, 11/28/10-12/19/10.  Nudity and Mature Themeshttp://newrep.org/frankie_johnny.php

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is a difficult play to stage.  The tight, witty, intelligent romance by Terrence McNally requires a comparable production that will not fall flat; New Repertory Theatre’s current production rises to the challenge.

A two-person play needs two strong actors.  Anne Gottlieb and Robert Pemberton deliver beyond expectations.  Not only are they strong individual actors, but they also thrive as a couple.   While Terrence McNally has said that the play is a “romantic fairytale”, the play would not hold an audience’s attention if it was not grounded in genuine, believable characters.  As Robert Pemberton speaks every line, his eyes reveal the sincerity of his heart.  Over the span of one night, Johnny’s profession of love could seem ludicrous, even threatening—except for the fact that this Johnny is truly sincere and truly loves Frankie.  Ann Gottlieb walks the delicate line between being fragile and resilient.  If she does not display strength, the character of Johnny would crush her; at the same time, the character of Frankie has been hurt and the vulnerability still has to be there to create the tension.  As Frankie, Gottlieb has found this balance so that the character can hold her own against Johnny, but still fear the pain of heartbreak.  Gottlieb and Pemberton completely draw the audience in to Frankie and Johnny’s struggle where one can’t help but fight with them for the connection to something that can last.  They ARE Frankie and Johnny—trying to be more than just a couple of “bodies bumping around in the night”. Continue reading

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