Saturday, July 15, 2017

"Beauty and the Beast" Enchants Audiences at North Shore Music Theatre - Through July 30th


If you want a break from beastly New England summer weather, make tracks to Beverly and Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre for their delightful production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." The beloved Disney cartoon has been wonderfully adapted to the in-the-round stage at NSMT, and audiences are loving it.

Director Michael Heitzman has assembled a wonderful cast to tell the story set to music by Alan Menken, with Lyrics by Tim Rice, based on a book by Linda Wolverton and original Direction by Robert Jess Roth. Music Direction is by Rick Fox, Choreography by Lisa Shriver, Scenic Design by Stephen Dobay, Original Costume Design by Ryan J. Moller, Additional Costume Design by Sandra Pelletier, Lighting by John Burkland, Sound by Don Hanna, Makeup by Dena Olivieri, Wigs by Gerard Kelly.
  • The pivotal role of Belle is played by Rose Hemingway. She is lovely, delightful, and charming, winning the hearts of the Beast and of the audience. She shines in the opening number, as well as in "Home" and "A Change In Me." There were a handful of times when she was singing in her upper register that I would have appreciated more support in her voice, but that is a technical quibble, for overall she is a very engaging Beauty.
  • Stephen Cerf is a formidable Beast. He makes a triumphant return to the Boston area, having studied at Boston Conservatory before embarking on a career that has taken him to Broadway and on several national tours. His two shining moments vocally occur near the end of Act 1 with "How Long Must This Go On?" and "If I Can't Love Her," which gave me chills. The writing in this song is Menken and Rice at their best. I trust that the sound department has resolved the Opening Night problems with his microphone. He persevered through those technical struggles, and portrayed a believable and sympathetic Beast who showed a range of emotions from petulant to vulnerable.
Stephen Cerf as Beast
Rose Hemingway as Belle
Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"
North Shore Music Theatre
Through July 30th
Photo by  Paul Lyden
  • NSMT favorite son David Coffee returns to this stage to portray Belle's beleaguered father, Maurice. He is his usual impressive and engaging self in this paternal role!
David Coffee as Maurice
Rose Hemingway as Belle
Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"
North Shore Music Theatre
Through July 30th
Photo by  Paul Lyden
  • In the role of Gaston, Taylor Crousore is wonderfully and appropriately cartoonish as the narcissistic oaf who is a paragon of entitlement and macho cluelessness. His moment in the spotlight is the self-title number "Gaston." He is, indeed, specially good at expectorating.
Taylor Crousore as Gaston
Andrew Kruep as Lefou
Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"
North Shore Music Theatre
Through July 30th
Photo by  Paul Lyden
  • As Gaston's longsuffering sidekick, Lefou, Andrew Kruep is a revelation. He combines physical comedic timing with self-deprecating humor to create a wonderful foil for the boisterous and boastful Gaston. 
  • The enchanted staff members of the castle are wonderfully cast. Christiane Noll as Mrs. Potts is as warm and refreshing as the tea she brews. Her rendition of the title song is a highlight of this production. As her son, Chip, Ben Choi-Harris is an absolute delight. Benjamin Howes illuminates the stage as Lumiere. Ryah Nixon is the bubbly and buxom Babette, Phillip Taratula is amusingly arch as Cogsworth. Joy Hermalyn is the operatic Madame de la Grande Bouche. Her lyric soprano voice soars on several occasions. They are joined by the Ensemble in the rollicking anthem "Be Our Guest," which is elegantly staged and choreographed as a highlight of the show.
  • Heather Klobukowski helps to kick off the action of the play as the Enchantress, cursing the Young Prince (Cam Perrin). Mark DiConzo is the Bookseller who gives Belle the volumes that she treasures.
  • David Wright as Carpet does handsprings and cartwheels across the stage throughout the show. He is joined by Mr. DiConzo as Salt and Ben Cullen as Pepper.
  • The three Silly Girls who swoon over Gaston as Sydney Mei Ruf-Wong, Caitlin Wilayto, and Daisy Wright.
  • Additional Ensemble members are Katie Anderson, Briana Fallon, Joshua Gillespie, Justin Ronald Mock, Tyler Roberts, and David Visini.
"Beauty and the Beast" will run through July 30th. Make a day of it on the North Shore - picnic, trip to the beach, and a memorable evening of theater. Bill Hanney and his team say to you: "Be our guest"!


Enjoy!

Al


Monday, July 10, 2017

Captain Andy's Cotton Blossom "Show Boat" Ties Up At The Reagle Music Theatre Dock - Through July 16


Jerome's Kern's iconic score for the musical "Show Boat" is timeless. During Saturday's performance by the Reagle Music Theatre cast, I let the familiar tunes and riffs wash over me like a gently lapping wave made by the wake of a Mississippi riverboat. This current production is a well conceived and beautifully executed interpretation of the classic tale of struggle against the tide of racism and oppression up and down the Mississippi in the closing decades of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Some might argue that the stereotypical portrayals of blacks in this musical are not politically correct, but my opinion is that they are an accurate reflection of the ethos and attitudes that existed during the era in which the story is set.

From the opening moment, I knew that we were in good hands under the skillful direction of Rachel Bertone. As a director, she also thinks like a choreographer, and that was apparent in the first tableau - river hands struggling in slow motion to haul in a line along the river dock. That moment reflected both the poetry and beauty of the setting, and the arduous life lived by the characters in the play. It wonderfully set the tone for this entire production. A solid cast enhanced the telling of this story, using Kern's music and Oscar Hammerstein II's book and lyrics, based on the novel by Edna Ferber.

Ciaran Sheehan as Gaylord Ravenal
Sarah Oakes Muirhead as Magnolia Hawks
"Show Boat"
Reagle Music Theatre
Through July 16
Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott

Ciaran Sheehan returns to Reagle after last summer's triumph as Billy Bigelow in "Carousel." He is perfectly cast as Gaylord Ravenal, the charming river gambler who sweeps Magnolia (Sarah Oakes Muirhead) off of her feet. The two of them shine in their first duet, "Only Make Believe." As Captain Andy, Rick Sherburne sets just the right tone, and is matched by Susan Scannell Gilbert as his harridan of a wife, Parthy. Julie LaVerne (Dani Wrenn) is the star attraction aboard the Cotton Blossom, but she and her husband, Steve Baker (Chris Scott) are charged with miscegenation because Julie has Negro blood, and they are forced to leave the boat and the area, settling in Chicago.
An early musical highlight of the show is the scene in which Julie is joined by Magnolia and Queenie (Yewande O. Odetoyinbo) in singing the rousing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man."


Michel Bell as Joe
Yewande O. Odetoyinbo as Queenie
"Show Boat"
Reagle Music Theatre
Through July 16
Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott

Perhaps the most beloved and well known song from this show is "Ol' Man River," sung by Joe, portrayed here by the incomparable Michel Bell. He has played this role on Broadway, resulting in a Tony nomination. His vocal range is stunning, with a basso profundo that reverates like the 32 foot Diapason stop on a Wurlitzer Theater organ. His initial solo portion of this song is impressive in its own right, but was raised to another level of artistry when he was joined by the trio of stevedores, Kelton Washington, Taavon Gamble, and Davron S. Monroe. The contrast between Joe's deep bass notes and the trio's more lilting harmonies gave me chills. It was the highlight of the show for me.

Davron S. Monroe, Kelton Washington
Michel Bell as Joe
Taavon Gamble
"Show Boat"
Reagle Music Theatre
Through July 16
Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott


Adding comedic texture to the story are Joy Clark as Ellie May Chipley and Kevin Patrick Martin as her partner, Frank Schultz. Their moment to shine is in the duet, "Goodbye My Lady Love." Ms. Clark also stands out in the number "Life Upon The Wicked Stage." Todd Yard is excellent as Sheriff Ike and as Jim Greene. Other members of this fine ensemble cast are: Anthony L. Gervais, Brad Walters, Bernie Baldassaro, Louis Brogna, Georgia Buendia, Tracey O'Farrell, Noura Deane, Anna Chensny, Victoria Newhuis, Leo Galletto, JAsmine Robinson, and Monica Rosenblatt.

Musical Direction is by Dan Rodriguez, Scenic Design by Michael A. Micucci, Costumes by Amy Clark and Florence Klotz for Goodspeed Musicals, Lighting by David Wilson.

The play runs through July 16th, so there are four remaining opportunities to see this show before it pulls up anchor: Thursday at 2:00, Friday and Saturday at 7:30, and Sunday at 2:00.

Reagle Music Theatre Website

Enjoy!

Al


Sunday, July 09, 2017

A Star Is Born At Feinstein's 54 Below - Billy Recce Rocks The House


Let me try to put into perspective the significance of what occurred Friday evening at Feinstein's 54 Below. This is my favorite cabaret venue in NYC. I usually go there to see and to hear well-established Broadway stars perform. In recent months I have enjoyed the song stylings of Jeremy Jordan, Corey Cott, Laura Osnes, the cast of "Newsies" - you get the picture. Friday night's 9:30 show featured "The Perks of Being A Snowflake: Songs by Billy Recce." Mr. Recce is a 19 year-old undergraduate at Fordham University. To call him a prodigy and a wunderkind would be to understate the case. He is the youngest ever composer to have shows produced by the New York Musical Festival -  "Balloon Boy: The Musical" and "Rachel Unraveled."

To highlight the poignancy and irony of his barely legal status headlining in the upscale boite that is 54 Below, Billy recounted his experience in approaching the bar to cash in the drink coupon that they give to performers. He was handed a Capri Sun, which he gleefully slurped from the bench of the baby grand.



It is difficult to encapsulate Mr. Recce's writing style, since it covers so many genres and nuanced flavors. The most obvious comparison is with Tom Lehrer, who wrote and sang political and social parodies in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, there are elements in his writing that remind me of Jonathan Larson, as well as Duncan Sheik, composer of "Spring Awakening." It is hard to conceive of how someone of such tender years has been able to develop a worldview that allows him to write songs that are so sweetly sardonic, such as "My Roommate (Is A Neo-Nazi)" and "Go Into Finance" - performed with great aplomb by Rachel Ravel. While purporting to eschew tackling issues of politics, the songwriter invited to the stage Alexa Joseph to sing the "Betsy Devos' Song" in which our beleaguered and verbally-challenged Secretary of Education croons about saving all of the Caucasian children - not just those wearing jeans.

Other highlights of the evening included Lindsay Nicole Chambers kvetching over the ubiquitous Gwyneth Paltrow in the hilarious "Pain (Gwyneth Paltrow)." In several of the numbers, Mr. Recce was supported vocally by a talented cohort of his friends and classmates that included Laura Laureano, Victoria Duffy, Alexa Joseph, Sarah Rachael Lazarus, Rachel Ravel, Lynn Craig, Patrick Swailes Caldwell, and Roger Dawley. The band consisted of Rocco Recce on Trumpet, Adam Mastrocola on Drums, Vinny Carlino on Bass, Jimmy Ble on Guitar, and David Moses on Violin.



"Filter It! - All" reminded me a bit of "Turn It Off" from "Book of Mormon." And the gorgeous "Morning Is Coming Soon (Wally Weasel's G.O.P. Jamboree!) has elements reminiscent of the finale from "Spring Awakening" - "Song of the Purple Summer."



Mr. Recce has a strong following on his YouTube channel. Check out some of his clips here, and subscribe.

Billy Recce YouTube Channel

Remember this name.  Billy Recce shows strong promise of being his generation's answer to Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Jonathan Larson, or Lin Manuel Miranda. I can't wait to see and hear what he will produce next. This is one Caucasian manchild I hope that Betsy Devos will find a way to save!

Enjoy!

Al


Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Winnipesaukee Playhouse Presents Cole Porter's "High Society"


It is always a treat to discover a theater venue I had not previously visited. This week marked my first visit to the lovely Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith, New Hampshire. I can report that Summer Stock is alive and well on the shores of picturesque Lake Winnipesaukee. This modern 200-seat theater has the feel of an old barn, but with very comfortable seats and modern conveniences. The property even boasts its own covered bridge. New England charm at it finest!

The theater makes its mission clear in the blurb printed on the front of the Playbill: "Favorites from the big and small screen - gloriously brought to life on stage." The current production is Cole Porter's "High Society," based on the film starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly. This movie musical was inspired by the play, "The Philadelphia Story," starring Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn. This production, directed by Clayton Phillips, features several well know Cole Porter tunes, including "Let's Misbehave," "Just One of Those Things," "It's All Right With Me." A highlight was the Finale of Act One, was the lovely "True Love," made popular by Frank Sinatra. In this production, the duet is song beautifully by Tracy Lord (Haley Jones) and Dexter C.K. Haven (Jay Wilkinson). Other highlights included Mike Connor (TJ Lamando) singing "You're Sensational," and Liz Imbrie (Rebecca Tucker) singing "He's A Right Guy."

Other cast members include Sophie Pankhurst, Sebastian Ryder, Richard Brundage, Mark Stephen Woods, Wayne Shuker, John-Michael Breen, Thomas Doelger, Chris Hendricks, Sandia Ahlers, Kelley Davies, and Candice Shedd-Thompson. Musical Direction is by Clayton Phillips, Choreography by Bryan Knowlton, Set by Melissa Shakun, Costumes by Lori McGinley, Lighting by Matthew Guminski, and Sound by Thom Beaulieu.

"High Society" will run through July 15. Next up at the Playhouse will be a stage adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes mystery "The Hound of the Baskervilles," running from July 19-29.

Winnipesaukee Playhouse Website

Enjoy!

Al



Monday, June 12, 2017

Reagle Music Theatre Dazzles With A Flawless Production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"


Unlike Egypt under Pharaoh Ramses II, Reagle Music Theatre never seems to suffer any seasons of famine or drought. Each year, for the 49th straight summer, they have offered up a banquet of musical theater delicacies that delight, inspire, and entertain. This summer is no exception. The current production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is a flawless delight that is the best version of this musical I have ever witnessed.

The story comes from the book of Genesis, telling of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Joseph, favorite son of Jacob. The pedigree of this musical telling of the Joseph saga also harks back to biblical times - back when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were students at the Colet Court School in the London.

This production is vibrant, colorful, fast-paced and unmitigated fun. It is masterfully Directed and Choreographed by Susan M. Chebookjian, based on original Choreography by Anthony Van Laast. Exquisite Lighting is by David Wilson. The gorgeous Set has been designed by Peter Colao and Richard Schreiber. Music Director Dan Rodriguez leads a 17-piece orchestra that beautifully interprets the disparate music styles and genres that Lloyd Webber tosses into this tasty bouillabaisse of a score.

While showcasing three Principals in Joseph, Pharaoh, and Narrator, this show is very much an ensemble piece. The cast, including a spectacular 21-voice Children's Choir, is perfect, from the 12 brothers and their wives. to Jacob/Potiphar, the Baker and the Butler.

Let's begin with the Principals:
  • Ayla Brown presents the ancient storyline as Narrator. From her first entrance, she owns the stage. Her regal and statuesque carriage give her a commanding stage presence, yet she can be as approachable as a kindergarten teacher in telling the story of Joseph to the children in the choir. She shows off her impressive vocal chops in the "Prologue," "Go, Go, Go Joseph," and the reprise of "Any Dream Will Do."
Ayla Brown as Narrator
Children's Choir
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Reagle Music Theatre
Through June 18th

  • Peter Mill as Joseph takes us on a tortuous emotional journey that is both moving and mesmerizing. The dreamer who alienated his eleven brothers with his hubris becomes the trusted interpreter of dreams for the all-powerful Pharaoh. We see the impressive range of his voice and acting - beginning with the hopeful "Any Dream Will Do," to the despair of the prison cell in "Close Every Door."  Mr. Mill's pleading rendition of this song of hopelessness gave me chills - always a sign that I am experiencing great theater!
Peter Mill as Joseph
The Brothers
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Reagle Music Theatre
Through June 18th
  • And then there is Andrew Giordano as Pharaoh - The King in many ways. The character of Pharaoh is written to be performed as Elvis, with all of the attendant vocal tics and bodily gyrations. Mr. Giordano buys into this fun shtick and sells it to the audience with panache and aplomb. His "Song of the King" is a tour de force that had audience members enraptured. That he got to repeat this number during the "Megamix/Curtain Call" felt like being given a second dessert after a sumptuous and satisfying meal. 
Andrew Giordano as Pharaoh
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Reagle Music Theatre
Through June 18th
Then there are the remaining sons of Jacob, who are the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. Individually, these actors bring great talent. Collectively they are the solid foundation upon which this production stands. They show great stylistic range - both vocally and physically - in a variety of impressive production numbers. They adopt a cowboy elegy twang in "One More Angel in Heaven." In "Those Canaan Days," they raise their berets and intone a Gallic lament that would make Maurice Chevalier feel as home.

They are:  
  • Christopher Infantino as Reuben
  • Adam Winer as Simeon
  • Louis Brogna as Levi
  • Taavon Gamble as Naphtali, whose solo in "Benjamin Calypso" is a highlight.
  • AJ Manuel Lucero as Issachar
  • Chris Scott as Asher and Pharaoh's Butler
  • Jacob Sherburne as Dan
  • Leo Galletto as Zebulun
  • Anthony L. Gervais as Gad and Pharaoh's Baker
  • Jack Dwyer as Benjamin
  • Bernie Baldassaro as Judah
The Brothers
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Reagle Music Theatre
Through June 18th

On the distaff side, their wives are played by Joy Clark, Emma Clinch, Laura Sky Herman, Lenni Alexandra Kmiec, Helen Lee, Madeline Mathias, Paris Martino, Ashley Mayorquin, Hannah Shihdanian, Angela Syrett, Suzi Weisberg.

Rick Sherburne is Jacob and Potiphar, and Joy Clark is the seductive Mrs. Potiphar.

The Children's Choir, clad in all of the colors of the rainbow - matching Joseph's colorful coat - are: Phoebe Anthony, Jessica Arsenian, Georgia Buendia, Meghan Caldera, Jackson Daley, Tayah Fulciniti, Ananda Geller, Mia Giatrelis, Benjamin Harris, Audree Hedequist, Shiv Meiyur, Eden Melville, ANabel Moda, Druthi Muppala, Tanvi Muppala, Asher NAvisky, Clare Soucy, Rylee Truesdale, Julia Viaud, Gabe Watson, Sarah Wirth.

As I was leaving the theater after a prolonged curtain call and a rollicking standing ovation, I overheard two women behind me enthusing about what we had all just experienced: "You know, I have been coming to this theater for many years. This is the best show I have seen here." If you would like to find out for yourself what all of the brouhaha is about, you have four more chances to experience the wonders of "Joseph": Thursday at 3:00, Friday and Saturday at 7:30, and Sunday at 2:00 at Waltham High School.

Reagle Music Theatre Website

Enjoy!

Al

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Nora Theatre Company Presents The Thought-Provoking "The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion" by Alan Brody


I first became familiar with Alan Brody's writing when I saw the stunning production of "Operation Epsilon" in 2013. A Professor Emeritus at MIT, Brody bring to his playwriting a refreshing combination of intellectual vigor and deep understanding of the human condition. In this play, we follow the adventures and misadventures of Tom Terres (Gordon Clapp) and Bettina Belknap (Debra Wise) as they reluctantly attend their 50th high school reunion. They have each come alone, Bettina recently widowed, and Tom's wife having fled a number of years ago.

Using pantomime of conversations with other attendees and classmates, the playwright reveals a great deal about Tom and Bettina, and spotlights the insipidness of surface conversations that occur at such events, He also explores the nature of memory, longing, loneliness, the never-ending search for love, and the deep-seated desire to be seen and known by another. This theme of being seen reminded me of the epic film "Avatar." In this film, characters who love one another verbalize their love by saying "I see you." In "The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion," there is a poignant scene near the end of the play when Tom and Bettina, who had not real known one another in high school, sit and look into one another's eyes for several minutes without saying a word. We see love begin to bloom as they truly begin to see each other in that precious moment.

Fans of the classic TV show, "NYPD Blue" will recognize Mr. Clapp as Detective Greg Medavoy. As Tom, he is perfect in portraying a man who always kept his head down, hoping not to be noticed. His one love in life is books. He owns a small bookstore in a college town in Maine. He is shy and socially awkward, but manages to make a growing connection with Bettina, a neuroscientist who explains in detail to Tom how memory works. Ms. Wise is both confident and vulnerable as Bettina. Throughout the play, Tom and Bettina each experience three flashbacks that give exposition to some of their backstories. Matthew Zahnzinger and Sarah Elizabeth Bedard are excellent in playing multiple roles as they interact with younger versions of Tom and Bettina. One theme that emerges from Bettina's flashbacks is the steep price she had to pay as a female trying to break into the world of hard science - overcoming admission biases and glass ceilings, and sacrificing time and passion as a wife and mother. Director Lee Mikeska Gardner uses these four talented actors wisely, and frees them to create the kind of chemistry the playwright envisioned.

Debra Wise as Bettina
Gordon Clapp as Tom
"The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion"
by Alan Brody
The Nora Theatre Company
Central Square Theater
Through July 2nd
Photo Courtesy of A.R. Sinclair/Central Square Theater

Mr. Brody uses dance as a metaphor in this play. Tom and Bettina are coaxed into competing as dancers for the title of King and Queen of the reunion. Their entire evening of interaction has been one of dancing gingerly around the awkwardness of getting to know - and to see - one whose face is familiar, but who has been a stranger. It is a poignant, evocative and moving play that should be seen. It will run through July 2nd.

Scenic Design is by Steven Royal, Costumes by Chelsea Kerl, Lighting by John Malinowski, Sound by Nathan Leigh, and Choreography by Marlena Yanetti and Felton Sparks.

Central Square Theater Website

Enjoy!

Al

"Blood On The Snow" Returns to the Old State House - A Dramatic Depiction of the Aftermath of the Boston Massacre


The Bostonian Society has brought back their acclaimed production of "Blood on the Snow" by Patrick Gabridge and Directed by Courtney O'Connor. This play is the very essence of site specific theater, for the performance space on the second floor of the Old State House is the very chamber in which the historic events being depicted actually occurred in 1770.

Bill Mootos, Scot Colford, Dale Place and Daniel Berger-Jones
'Blood on the Snow' by Patrick Gabridge
The Bostonian Society
Through August 20th
 at the Old State House
(Source:Nile Hawver)
We often tend to think of the American Revolution as triggered by a single signal event - Paul Revere's ride or "the shot heard 'round the world." In fact, there was a long gestation to our departure from British rule. One of the kicks that Britain felt from the fetal nation aborning from its colonial womb was the strong public reaction to the shooting of twelve American civilians that occurred in front of the Old State House on March 5, 1770. Four of the victims died, including Crispus Attucks. In response, residents of Boston, under the leadership of Sam Adams, John Hancock and other Sons of Liberty, demanded the removal of the British troops garrisoned in Boston. "Blood on the Snow" depicts the tumultuous discussions that occurred in the Council Chamber overseen by the Royal Governor on the day after the massacre had occurred.

I pride myself in knowing quite a bit of history, yet I learned a great deal in watching the action of this play unfold. Director Courtney O'Connor has assembled a terrific ensemble cast of faces and voices that will be familiar to Boston theater goers. They are:
  • Dale Place as Thomas Hutchinson, acting Royal Governor
  • Ken Baltin as Andrew Oliver, Provincial Secretary
  • Daniel Berger-Jones as Lt. Colonel William Dalrymple, Commander of the occupying troops
  • Bill Mootos as Royall Tyler, Member of the Council
  • Jerry Goodwin as Harrison Gray, Member of the Council
  • Lewis D. Wheeler as Samuel Dexter, Member of the Council
  • Scot Colford as William Baker, Doorkeeper
  • Craig Ciampa as Samuel Adams
  • Matt Ryan as John Hancock
  • Trinidad Ramkissoon as Andrew, a slave
Costumes are by Laurie Bramhall, Scenic Design and Props by Katherine Burkhart, Lighting by Sean Sliney, and Sound by Brendan F. Doyle.


For those who wish to dive more deeply into the details of the events of the Massacre and the Revolution, The Bostonian Society has scheduled a whole series of events to coincide with the performances of this play - talkbacks, tours of the building, etc. See the website for more information. In addition to being a delight for Boston area residents, this play would be a great opportunity for visitors to supplement the usual Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, Duck Tour excursions. If you have family and friends visiting this summer, why not treat them to a performance of "Blood on the Snow." It will run through August 20th.

Blood on the Snow Website

Enjoy!

Al

Friday, June 09, 2017

Titanic Theatre Company Launches "Penny Penniworth" by Chris Weikel - At Central Square Theater - A Total Delight!


Titanic Theatre Company has a track record of making me laugh. I think the walls of the Black Box at Central Square Theater are still reverberating from my belly laughs at their IRNE Award winning comedy "The Polish Joke." And I know they must have heard my guffaws last evening throughout all of the 02139 ZIP code. The current production of "Penny Penniworth" is a total delight that must be seen.

If you are a fan of Charles Dickens, then you must not miss this send-up of "The play that Dickens would have written had he lived long enough." It is a wonderful amalgamation of Penny Dreadful low brow literature, melodrama, unlikely plot twists, gender-bending characters played by a quartet of gifted actors. lighting-fast changes of scenes, costumes, and characters. Think of the portion of "Nicholas Nickelby" when Nicholas and Smike escape from the Dotheboys Hall and encounter the traveling acting troupe of Mr. Vincent Crummles. If Crummles had mounted an eighty minute long production, it would have looked and felt like "Penny Penniworth," with a dash of Monty Python and "Noises Off" thrown in for good measure. Why, this play even features a brief appearance by an "Infant Phenomenon"!

Playwright Chris Weikel must know Dickens inside and out, for his allusions to Dickensian names, characters, locations, and implausible plot devices are brilliant and non-stop. Director Sarah Gazdowicz has this zesty troupe performing at an appropriate breakneck and frenetic pace. Ms. Gazdowicz makes a cameo appearance at the top of the show to explain that the struggling little acting troupe is short one person because of last minute "artistic differences," but the other four actors - in the spirit of "the show must go on" - have decided to mount the play short-handed.

The members of the cast are:
  • Ashley Risteen - Among her varied roles in this play, she shines most brightly - or darkly - as the mourning Ms. Havasnort, whose fiance died twenty years ago, and she wears nothing but black widow's weeds. She has also lost her marbles, and needs a companion to watch over her. 
  • Enter the impoverished Penny Penniworth (Caroline Keeler), who shares a London solicitor with Ms. Havasnort. Ms. Keeler is at the top of her game, when, because the acting troupe is missing a key actor, the actor she is portraying is forced to play both Penniworth and her abductor, the malodorous Mr. Dump. The scene in which she absconds with herself is the height of silliness, and a fun conceit.
  • Brooks Reeves shows his protean skills as Hotchkiss Spit, the widowed Mrs. Penniworth, and a variety of other characters. As Mr. Spit, he speaks in an incomprehensible accent that is somewhere between Yorkshire and the Muppets Swedish Chef. Every word he says must be translated by Penny, whom he loves. But alas, he is abducted (there are several abductions in this tragicomedy!) by pirates in Maracaibo, and we never see him again - or do we?
  • Isaiah Plovnick is Rupert Stryfe, scion of the Stryfe family and rival to Mr. Spit for Penny's hand. If there were an IRNE Award for Best Beard and Moustaches, it would go by acclamation to Mr. Plovnick. This actor also shines as a character with a speech impediment that has his chin whiskers shaking in anticipation of the successful completion of a syllable. There are several scenes in which the fact that Mr. Stryfe had a metal plate surgically implanted in his head offers up limitless opportunities for sight gags galore.


Costumes are by Erica Desautels, Scenic Design and Props by Rebecca Lehrhoff, Lighting by Connor S. Van Ness, Sound by Sarah Gazdowicz.

Have your physician write a prescription for a night at the theater and a heavy dose of "Penny Penniworth" to cure whatever ails you. This play is a tonic for the soul. It will run at Central Square Theater through June 25th.

Titanic Theatre Website

Enjoy!

Al

Sunday, June 04, 2017

World Premiere of "Reprise" by Eric Maierson - At The Paradise Factory Theater, 64 E. 4th Street - Through June 11



Playwright Eric Maierson raises the stakes high in the battle of the sexes in his three-hander play "Reprise." Michael (Ken Forman) has been in love with Erin (Tara Westwood) since they were in high school together. But that was thirty years ago. She has been married, and he has had a case of the blue balls for three decades. Things get complicated when Michael's testosterone-infused Russian friend, Leonard (Sean Patrick Folster) takes it upon himself to school Michael in the fine art of seduction. Things do not go well as first Michael and Leonard confront Erin when she comes to Michael's apartment.

Ken Forman as Michael
Tara Westwood as Erin
"Reprise" by Eric Maierson
Paradise Factory Theater
Through June 11th

Mr. Maierson depicts extreme polarity in how to approach a woman in pursuit of love or sex. Leonard's approach is full frontal assault, with a heavy dose of paternalism and misogyny. Michael's default setting is chronic reticence. Complicating matters is the fact that Erin has some deeply hidden psychosexual scars that make it difficult for her to know what she wants, or to be able to ask for what she needs. These three actors have created powerful characters. Leonard is fairly two-dimensional, but he is written that way because he is basically a boor. Michael and Erin are more nuanced, and we see several sides of each of these complex characters - from tender to hysterical to petulant.

Mr. Maierson raises many issues of sexuality, identity, communication, longing, courting and seduction, and healing from trauma. As Director, the playwright has these three actors tuned like a
string trio that plays several movements in a variety of tempi and keys. Josh Iacovelli has designed a very workable and realistic set that is beautifully highlighted by the Lighting design of Daisy Long.

As I watched the tug of war among Michael, Erin and Leonard, I could not help recalling the song from "Camelot" - "How To Handle a Woman." All three characters would have been far better off if they had heeded the advice that Merlin gave to young Arthur: "Love her, love her, love her." Easier said than done.

Sean Patrick Folster as Leonard
Tara Westwood as Erin
"Reprise" by Eric Maierson
Paradise Factory Theater
Through June 11th

The play run through June 11 at the Paradise Factory Theater, 64 East 4th Street, New York. This World Premiere of this fine play is well worth your attention and thoughtful reflection.

Reprise Website

Enjoy!

Al

The Instigators Present "The Seagull" by Anton Chekhov - At Access Theater Through June 18th


I love Chekhov, and I particularly enjoy his classic tragedy, "The Seagull." So I was more than happy to make the trek up to the 4th floor to the Access Theater at Broadway at White Street in TriBeCa to see this new showcase production by The Instigators. This production is directed by Lillian Meredith. She keeps the pace brisk, and she elicits acting from this fine troupe that is compelling. This version of the play has been adapted by Fergus Scully and Taylor Petracek, with original music by Sylvana Joyce. Set Design is by Chika Shimizu, Costumes by Lisa Renee Jordan, and Lighting by Caitlin Smith Rapaport.

While "The Seagull" is a true ensemble piece, the success of this play often falls on the shoulders of the actors who portray four main characters:
  • Irina Arkadina (Kristen Vaughan), a fading actress who returns for a brief visit to a country estate with her young lover, Trigorin, in tow. 
  • Her troubled playwright son, Konstantin (Taylor Petracek)
  • Her young lover, the writer Trigorin (Fergus Scully)
  • Nina (Jeanette Dilone), the ingenue who is loved by Konstantin and by Trigorin
Kristen Vaughan as Arkadina
Taylor Petracek as Konstantin
"The Seagull" by Anton Chekhov
Presented by The Instigators
In Association with Access Theater
Through June 18th
Photo by Lisa Renee Jordan

Each of these actors creates a character who is true to the spirit of Chekhov - passionate, troubled, and disconnected in some way from others, from the world, and from themselves. They are well supported by the rest of the ensemble of Emmanuel Elpenord as Medvedenko, Siena D'Addario as Masha, Kazuhiro Imafuku as Yakov, Roger Rathburn as Sorin, Todd Licea as Dorn, Deborah Unger as Paulina, and Peter Feliz as Shamrayev.

The Instigators are an organization that embraces ". . . the belief that cathartic storytelling cleanses the soul and stirs our humanity, helping us to recognize ourselves in others and make a little more sense of the world around us." In this production of Chekhov's first masterpiece, they succeed in providing such catharsis. This is a production filled with passion and pathos. At one point, Mr. Petracek, as a distraught Konstantin, throws open the window and screams out into the night, his cries of despair winging their way downward like a wounded seagull to the intersection of Broadway and White Streets below. This moment is emblematic of the ethos of this young company.

Chekhov's insights into the human condition remain timeless and relevant to 21st century human beings. This adaptation invites us to revisit this familiar work with fresh eyes. The  play will run through June 18th, and is worth a trip down to TriBECa.

Eventbrite Link for Tickets

Enjoy!

AL

Friday, June 02, 2017

Review of "Barking Up The Wrong Tree" by Eric Barker - An Evidence-based Look At Success


I was first introduced to author Eric Barker when our mutual friend, Harvard Business School professor Gautam Mukunda, invited us both to a dinner he was hosting. I learned of Eric's weekly Blog, "Barking Up The Wrong Tree," and have been a faithful subscriber and reader ever since. So I was delighted when I learned that he was expanding upon the themes in his Blog to offer a book that would address "The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong." I was not disappointed.

The book addresses the global question: "What separates the extremely successful from the rest of us?" In the six chapters, Barker examines this larger question through a variety of lenses, and asks six subsidiary questions:

  • Should we play it safe and do what we are told?
  • Do nice guys finish last?
  • Do quitters never win and winners never quit?
  • Is it what you know or who you know that leads to success?
  • Do successful people believe in themselves all of the time?
  • Is it possible to succeed and have true work-life balance?

In each chapter, the author presents scientific evidence on both sides of the argument. He then offers examples, and allows the informed reader to make reasoned conclusions about where the proper balance is between polar extremes. Along the way, we learn from the success of such diverse examples as a Navy SEAL, Viktor Frankl, Genghis Khan, urban raccoons in Canada, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin.

The book is full of valuable insights backed by solid scientific research. There is a good reason why Barker's Blog has garnered almost 300,000 subscribers. Each week he offers evidence-backed insights similar to those found in this book; I am already thinking about friends and colleagues to whom I will give copies of this provocative book.

Enjoy!

Al

Huntington Theatre Company Presents "Ripcord" by David Lindsay-Abaire - A Poignant Comedy - Extended By Popular Demand To July 2nd


I was excited when I learned that the Huntington Theatre Company would close its current season with the brilliant comedy, "Ripcord," by David Lindsay-Abaire. I had seen the New York production, and was moved to laughter and to tears by this brilliant work of art. I was eager to see what the Huntington would do in mounting its own production. As is always the case with the Huntington, they have brought the highest production values to the telling of this story. Director Jessica Stone has the cast fine-tuned, so that the comic timing hits like a series of lightning bolts. The Scenic Design by Tobin Ost is a faithful depiction of an upscale assisted living home that converts to a Halloween Haunted House, the cargo hold of an airplane, and other settings. Lighting by David Welner, Projection Design by Lucy Mackinnon, and Sound and Original Music by Mark Bennett transport us to the places that the playwright conceived in his fertile imagination.


Annie Golden as Marilyn and Nancy E. Carroll as Abby
 Huntington Theatre Company's production of
"Ripcord" by David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Jessica Stone,
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
Through July 2nd
© Photo: T. Charles Erickson
The play involves the unlikely pairing of two roommates in an assisted living home. If a female can be described as a curmudgeon, that is exactly who Abby is, played superbly by Nancy E. Carroll. She prefers to be alone, but cannot afford the extra expense of a private room. She has succeeded in scaring away most earlier roommates, and attempts to do so when Marilyn (the irrepressible Annie Golden) is assigned to her room. Marilyn is chronically and perpetually cheerful, seemingly incapable of getting angry. And Abby claims to be impervious to anything that might scare a normal person. They agree on a bet. If Marilyn can scare Abby, then Marilyn gets to take the bed by the window with the wonderful view. If Abby can make Marilyn angry, they Marilyn will agree to move out and leave Abby to her privacy. And the game is on!

Ms. Carroll and Ms. Golden have perfected their immiscible oil and water routine, upping the ante with each round of practical jokes, pranks, and mean tricks. South Boston's own Mr. Lindsay-Abaire is at the top of his game here. His limitless ability to concoct absurd and hilarious scenarios is on full display in this play. This story contains plenty of sight gags and clever verbal quips that elicit belly laughs. But, like all great comedy, if you drill deep enough into the funny bone you hit a mother load of tragic marrow that approaches pathos.

Ms. Carroll is well known to Boston audiences, having won numerous awards for her work here, on Broadway and abroad. Ms. Golden is also a familiar face, most recently seen in the five seasons of the Netflix series, "Orange Is The New Black" in the role of Norma Romano. I love the fact that Costume Designer Gabriel Barry gave Marilyn a vibrant orange sweater to wear in one of the scenes!

Adding texture and spice to the action are these additional excellent cast members:
  • Ugo Chukwu as Scotty, the aide who brings medication, food, and other amenities to the residents.
  • Laura Latreille as Colleen, Marilyn's daughter, and Richard Prioleau as Derek, Marilyn's son.
  • Eric T. Miller as Benjamin, Abby's estranged son.
Richard Prioleau, Nancy E. Carroll, Eric T. Miller, Annie Golden, and Laura Latreille
in the Huntington Theatre Company's production of
"Ripcord" by David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Jessica Stone,
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
Through July 2nd
© Photo: T. Charles Erickson
While providing us with non-stop entertainment, the playwright also gently invites us to ponder existential questions on the nature of aging, legacy, friendship, family, forgiveness, loneliness, and resilience.

You will not want to miss this final production in another successful Huntington season.

At the Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts through July 2nd. Pull the ripcord and order your tickets now. I guarantee a spectacular view and a soft landing.

Huntington Theatre Website

Enjoy!

Al

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Lyric Stage of Boston Scores A Trifecta - Three Perfect Leads for "Camelot" - Through June 25th - A MUST SEE!


There are several kinds of genius on display in the current glorious production of "Camelot" at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston. First, there is the creative genius of composer Frederick Loewe and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. Then there is the directorial and staging genius of Lyric's Producing Artistic Director Spiro Veloudos. There is the collective artistic genius of Music Director Catherine Stornetta, Choreographer Rachel Bertone, Set Designer Shelley Barish, Costume Designer Elisabetta Polito, Lighting Designer Karen Perlow, and Sound Designer Elizabeth Cahill. Finally, there is the performing genius of a stellar cast led by the troika of Maritza Bostic as Guenevere, Jared Troilo as Lancelot, and Ed Hoopman as Arthur.

Ed Hoopman as Arthur
Jared Troilo as Lancelot
Maritza Bostic as Guenevere
Garrett Inman as Squire
"Camelot"
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Through June 25th
Photo by Mark S. Howard
The Arthurian legend has provided fodder for writers for many centuries. This current production is a pared down adaptation of the original Broadway version that opened in the early 1960s. The show, with its young and idealistic king and his stunning lady, became associated with the Kennedy presidency. That connection added a layer of poignancy and nostalgia when the young President was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The short-lived Kennedy administration was often referred to as "Camelot." This new version has been adapted by David Lee, with new orchestrations by Steve Orich.

Ed Hoopman as Arthur
Maritza Bostic as Guenevere
"Camelot"
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Through June 25th
Photo by Mark S. Howard
Accompanying me last evening to the Lyric was a professional musician and theater enthusiast from the Baltics. He had never seen "Camelot," nor was he familiar with the music. To say that he was totally enchanted would be an understatement. The beauty of Loewe's melodies and the nuanced brilliance of Lerner's clever lyrics were not lost on my friend. He also praised the production values and the high level of professionalism of the cast. It was a revelation for me to be able to see this show, which I have loved since owning the original cast album, through the fresh eyes of my friend.

This new and abbreviated version of the musical eliminates some of the minor characters and subplots, and thereby shines an even brighter light on the three primary chess pieces - Arthur the King, Guenevere the Queen, and Lancelot the Knight.
  • Ed Hoopman embodies young King Arthur. His stentorian speaking voice is regal, and his singing captures the complexity of the man and his dilemma of knowing that he stands as one leg in a tragic scalene love triangle. We see and hear his heart in "I Wonder What The King Is Doing Tonight," and in "How To Handle A Woman." It is in the staging of this moving song that the genius of Director Veloudos is on full display. Arthur is singing downstage, while upstage on a staircase that does not lead to heaven, Lancelot kneels in prayer, and further up the stairs Guenevere observes. As Arthur closes the song and his revery with the refrain "Love her, love her, love her," we observes love blooming between Lancelot and Guenevere as they gaze longingly at one another. The triangle has been established in a touching and brilliant tableau.
  • Jared Troilo owns the stage as Lancelot. From his tour de force opening number, "C'est Moi," we see him as too perfect to be believed. Such purity cannot survive an encounter with the real world that contains the lusty month of May. Will he choose devotion to God or to the goddess Guenevere? Mr. Troilo also shines in the touching love song "If Ever I Would Leave You." 
  • The lyrics from that song includes these words: "Knowing you in spring, I'm bewitched by you so." Lancelot is singing to Guenevere, played by the beguiling Maritza Bostic. How appropriate that this graduate of Salem State should have picked up some the Witch City's tricks of the trade in how to bewitch an audience. She has been doing so in Boston since she landed on the Lyric stage in the breakout role of "Little Red Riding Hood" in the award winning production of "Into The Woods." She not only wins the hearts of Arthur, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Roundtable, but of every audience member within the same ZIP code as Camelot. Her rendition of "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" was a delight, and her interpretation of "I Loved You Once In Silence" was heart-rending.
  • Davron S. Monroe as Sir Lionel, Brad Foster Reinking as Sir Dinadan, and Jeff Marcus as Sir Sagramore are three manly Knights of the Round Table. Their moment to shine comes when they join with Guenevere in singing the clever ditty "Take Me To The Fair."
  • Rory Boyd as Mordred masters the art of smarmy swagger. Mordred is Arthur's illegitimate son from the days when young Wart sowed his wild oats. Mordred embodies evil intent, and leads the Knights down the primrose path in "The Seven Deadly Virtues."
  • Garrett Inman plays multiple roles, but stands out as young Tom of Warwick, who has heard of the wonders of the Roundtable, and begs to be part of the dream. Arthur entrusts him with the task of telling the story of Camelot.
  • Rounding out the cast are the excellent Jordan Clark, Margarita Damaris Martinez, and Kira Troilo as Ladies.
Maritza Bostic as Guenevere
Jared Troilo as Lancelot
Ed Hoopman as Arthur
Cast
"Camelot"
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Through June 25th
Photo by Mark S. Howard

Allow me a digression, and a return to Camelot as the symbol for the Kennedy Presidency. It was a time of hope and wonder, when Americans felt that America was great again, and the sky and the moon were the limit. As the performance of "Camelot" wound down to its tragic denouement, Mordred did his best to undue the dreams and promise of Camelot, undermining all of Arthur's good intentions for peace and prosperity. I could not stop myself from surmising that we have allowed into our American kingdom a Mordred who is systematically unraveling many of the programs that have been put in place to offer peace and prosperity. Perhaps that is why I could not stop a tear from flowing when I heard the elegiac line: "Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot." Will evil trump goodness in the real world?

This show is proving to be so popular that three extra performances have been added to accommodate the demand. Do not get shut out; order your tickets now. That, after all, is what both the simple folk and the king would do.


Enjoy!

Al

Ogunquit Playhouse Kicks Off Its 85th Season - And Kicks Up Its Heels With A Vibrant "Mama Mia! - Through July 1st


What fun! The rousing Abba jukebox musical, "Mama Mia!" is the initial offering of Ogunquit Playhouse's 85th season. Denizens of the Seacoast of Maine are loving this show as much as Broadway audiences adored it during its extended run on the Great White Way that began in 2001. This is pure theatrical fun, with every element of this production coalescing to make for a perfect afternoon or evening at the theater.

Director Larry Raben and Choreographer Richard J. Hinds keep their stellar cast in constant motion in telling this story of Sophie Sheridan using all of her feminine wiles to discover who her biological father may be. Music Director Jeffrey Campos leads a team of musicians that perfectly interpret the Abba songs that many of us grew up humming. And Set Designer Adam Koch brings us to an idyllic and isolated Greek island where magic happens for the inhabitants and visitors alike. Gorgeous and outrageous Costumes by Winfield Murdoch establish the time of the action, and Lighting by Richard Latta and Sound by Kevin Heard complete the job of transporting us to a time and place we all dream about.

Jodie Langel as Donna
David Engel as Harry
"Mama Mia!"
Ogunquit Playhouse
Through July 1st
Photo by Gary Ng
  • As Bride-to-be Sophie, Briana Rapa is vibrant and charming. She kicks off the action with the wonderful "I Have A Dream."
  • Her mother, Donna (Jodie Langel), is the former lead singer of a Girl Band that is reuniting for Sophie's wedding. Ms. Langel nails the ambivalence of Donna - excited for Sophie's big day, but stressed out trying to run a hotel on her own, and to raise her daughter single handedly. Her soaring rendition of "The Winner Takes It All" is a highlight of this production.
  • Ali (Sarah Faye Beard) and Lisa (Taylor Broadard) are Sophie's friends and bridesmaids. Their time to shine is in the familiar song "Honey, Honey."
  • Tanya (Angie Schworer) and Rosie (Kate Chapman) are Donna's former back-up singers and best friends who have come to the island to support Donna and Sophie on The Big Day. These two gifted singers are perfectly cast. Ms. Schworer uses every inch of her statuesque physique for comic effect, and Ms. Chapman's comic timing keeps the audience in stitches for much of the show. They unite with Ms. Langel for some of this musical's best numbers: "Chiquitita," and "Dancing Queen,"
Angie Schworer as Tanya
Jodie Langel as Donna
Kate Chapman as Rosie
Cast 
"Mama Mia!"
Ogunquit Playhouse
Through July 1st
Photo by Julia Russell
  • There are three possible candidates who may prove to be Sophie's biological father, all of whom hooked up briefly with Donna 22 years ago. They have been lured back to the island by Sophie. They are Harry Bright (David Engle), Bill Austin (Fred Inkley), and Sam Carmichael (Patrick Cassidy). Once they figure out why they have been invited, each one comes to the conclusion that he should walk Sophie down the aisle. The three men could not be more different from one another, and each of these three actors does a great job of differentiating the three suitors from one another. They shine in the production number "Mama Mia." Mr. Cassidy stands out in his solo "Knowing Me, Knowing You." Mr. Inkley pairs with Ms. Rapa for the song "The Name of the Game." And Mr. Engel joins with Ms. Langel for a moving rendition of "Our Last Summer."
Fred Inkley as Bill
Briana Rapa as Sophie
David Engel as Harry
Patrick Cassidy as Sam
"Mama Mia!"
Ogunquit Playhouse
Through July 1st
Photo by Gary Ng

  • Mike Heslin
    is Sky, Sophie's fiance. This BoCo grad is perfect in this role, using his voice and sculpted torso to portray an irresistible hunk of a man who has swept the young Sophie off of her feet. He joins with the company in a rousing rendition of "Voulez-vous," and "Lay All Your Love On Me."
  • Other cast members include Andy Tofa as Pepper, DJ Petrosino as Eddie, Drew Geraci as Father Alexandrios. Ensemble members are Elizabeth Casper, Alex Dorf, Taylor Fields, Sara Gallo, Rose Iannoccone, Alex Levy, Maryella Maloney, Zac Norton, Jonathan Ragsdale, Frankie Paparone, and Heather Jane Rolff.
Briana Rapa as Sophie
Mike Heslin as Sky
Male Ensemble
"Mama Mia!"
Ogunquit Playhouse
Through July 1st
Photo by Gary Ng

This wonderful production is a joyous celebration that makes a very fitting open act of this exciting Ogunquit season that includes "Bullets Over Broadway," "Ragtime," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "From Here To Eternity." You have until July 1st to see "Mama Mia!" But don't wait, for performances are selling out fast.


Enjoy!

Al

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Gloucester Stage Company Presents The New England Premiere of "Bank Job" by John Kolvenbach - Through June 10th


To kick off its season, Gloucester Stage Company is presenting the New England Premiere of John Kolvenbach's slapstick comedy, "Bank Job." Director Robert Walsh has assembled a sextet of some of the area's finest comedic actors to tell the tale of a bank heist gone terribly wrong. Johnny Lee Davenport, Shuyl Jia, Richard McElvain, Paul Melendy, and Nael Nacer put themselves through a dizzying array of physical and emotional contortions as they tell the implausible tale of two brothers who set out to rob a bank and attempt to escape through a window in the Executive Washroom. The cop who runs them down in the bathroom stalls is quickly compromised, but then there is a plot twist when a female bank employee uses her wits to trump the robbers and the cop. The action is fast-paced. Mr. Kolvenbach's writing can be a bit formulaic, and the characters not all fully developed, but these fine actors make the most of the material, and deliver a thoroughly entertaining performance. 

Paul Melendy as Russell
Johnny Lee Davenport as Dale
Nael Nacer as Tracey
Shuyl Jia as Jill
"Bank Job" by John Kolvenbach
Gloucester Stage Company
Through June 10th
Photo by Gary Ng

About the Play 
For two brothers new to the armed robbery industry, what seems like easy money turns out to be a lot more difficult than it looks in the movies in John Kolvenbach’s Bank Job. When heist plans A and B (and C through F) fail, Tracey and Russell find themselves locked in the bank bathroom with no choice but to depend on a brave bank teller, a guileless cop, and the man in the shadows who put them up to the whole thing. Directed by GSC Artistic Director Robert Walsh, Bank Job is a fun comedy about the holes we dig ourselves into—and the unexpected comrades we trust to dig us out. 

The New England premiere of John Kolvenbach’s Bank Job runs May 19 through June 10 at Gloucester Stage. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm at Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA.


Enjoy!

Al

ArtsEmerson Screens The Powerful "Chapter & Verse, Directed by Jamal Joseph - Through May 28th


ArtsEmerson is committed to bringing challenging and enlightening works of art to the stage and the screen. "Chapter & Verse" is the latest in this series of offerings, starring Daniel Beaty, who is known to Boston area audiences for his writing and for his acting.

This story of struggle and redemption in Harlem is gritty. One can almost smell the desperation as an excellent cast portrays the lives of men, women and young gang members clawing their way to survive one more day when the odds are stacked against them. This is an unblinking portrait lovingly portrayed that features an ending right out of Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities."

There are six more opportunities to see this film at the Emerson Paramount in Downtown Crossing - this coming Wednesday through Sunday.

ArtsEmerson Website

&   &   &   &   &   &   &   &   &   &   &   &   &   &   & 

"On the heels of the City of Boston officially declaring April 20th Daniel Beaty Day, and a neighborhood tour of his powerful one-person play, "Mr. Joy," ArtsEmerson is proud to announce an exclusive engagement of screenings of Beaty’s film debut, 'Chapter & Verse.' Directed by Jamal Joseph, a leader of the Black Panther Party who spent time in prison, and starting Daniel Beaty, Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and Selenis Leyva,  reflects upon what it means to forge your own destiny in an outwardly harsh society."

"After serving eight years in prison, reformed gang leader S. Lance Ingram (BEATY) re-enters society and struggles to adapt to a changed Harlem. Living under the tough supervision of a parole officer in a halfway house, he is unable to find a job that will let him use the technological skills he gained in prison. Lance is forced to take a job delivering for a food pantry where he befriends Ms. Maddy (DEVINE), a strong and spirited grandmother, and assumes responsibility for her 15-year-old grandson Ty, a promising student who is pulled into a dangerous street gang. When gang members decide to punish Ty for disobeying the “law of the streets,” Lance risks sacrificing his “second chance” at freedom so that Ty can have a “first chance” at a better life."

Enjoy!

Al