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

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"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

Join Me At The 2017 Service Academies Global Summit in D.C. - June 14-16


In just a few weeks, I will be heading to Washington, D.C. I have learned this morning that there are still a few open slots for attendees and sponsors for this event, that will feature top leaders from all branches of our military. I am excited about reuniting with many friends, and meeting new ones.

I would like to invite all service academy graduates to consider joining me at the 3rd Annual Service Academies Global Summit - to be held in Washington, D.C. from June 14-16, 2017. Although I am not a service academy graduate, the organizers have invited me to attend as a guest because so much of my work as an executive coach and an executive recruiters centers on working with service academy graduates. I will be moderating a panel on Transition for Military Officers.

See below for all the information you need to decide to put this event on your June calendar.
·         

   WELCOME TO THE 2017 SERVICE ACADEMIES GLOBAL SUMMIT

I    It’s a pleasure to invite you to the 2017 Service Academies Global Summit (“SAGS 2017”), which will be held in Washington, DC, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on June 14-16, 2017.  

     The purpose of the Service Academies Global Summit (SAGS) is to develop, inspire and promote Fellowship, Leadership/Professional Development and Service or the “super-community” of graduates worldwide from the five U.S. Service Academies.  This focus takes the following forms: 
  
     Fellowship – forming new friendships, relationships and opportunities for collaboration and engagement among graduates of the five U.S. Service Academies 
    
    Leadership/Professional Development – professional development and broadening to prepare us for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow through the exploration of timely, relevant issues and emerging trends from different sectors and in diverse areas (e.g. geopolitics, leadership, business, technology, entrepreneurship, etc.)

     Service – inspiring ourselves to live the missions of our alma maters throughout our lives, reflect upon how we’re presently doing so, and identify/advocate ways that we can continually contribute to the betterment of society

     The Service Academies Global Summit is a historic and seminal global gathering that’s an extraordinary opportunity for learning, interaction, collaboration and exposure to new ideas and opportunities.  In short, it is a gathering of proven leaders from around the world from all sectors – government, business, military and NGO/nonprofit – to strengthen shared bonds and help each other become better leaders and members of society.  SAGS 2017 will be an enjoyable, motivating, inclusive and relevant gathering of leaders with a robust combination of networking opportunities, actionable learning, thought-provoking discussions and collaboration possibilities.  The Summit is a non-profit endeavor organized by graduates of all five U.S. service academies and is open to spouses/partners and guests of attending graduates.    Please check the Summit website periodically for the latest updates and information.

   WHEN?


    The conference will be held from the 14th to the 16th of June, 2017.

      WHERE?

   We are excited to bring this year's Service Academies Global Summit to the DC Area. The conference will be held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

  
   REGISTRATION INFORMATION:


      ATTENTION JMO'S: Sponsored registrations should become available for active duty O-1's to O-3's and, as they do, will initially be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis.  We will manage this process to ensure JMOs from all academies receive some sponsored registrations.  If you are interested in obtaining one, please email Ms. Molly Dey (event management) at "SAGS17@afri.com" .
   
    SCHEDULE OVERVIEW

  For 2017, we’re initially planning for a minimum of 400-500 attendees with a tentative, general schedule as follows:  

    Wed June 14 – Opening Reception and Dinner
  
     Thurs June 15 – All day program followed by an early evening reception and “dinner on your own”

     Fri June 16 – All day program followed by a Closing Reception and Dinner

      Please pass this information along to fellow service academy graduates.

     See you in D.C.

     Al Chase


Friday, May 19, 2017

Review of "Nanjing Never Cries - A Novel," by Professor Hong Zheng


Novelist Hong Zheng is a professor at MIT working in the field of dark matter. In this gripping novel, he shines a light on the dark matter of the Sino-Japanese War that raged between 1937-1945. This is a slice of history about which I knew little. This story, "Nanjing Never Cries - A Novel," served to make me aware of the depth of the animus that still simmers beneath the surface of Chinese and Japanese relationships.

The action of the story is set in Nanjing, China before and during the Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation of China - an event called "a forgotten holocaust." Untold atrocities were committed by the Japanese. In this story, MIT classmates John Winthrop and Calvin Ren, a brilliant Chinese physicist, have reunited to work on helping the Chinese to develop a warplane that would allow China to defend itself against the relentless Japanese onslaught.

This historical novel follows John as he falls in love with May, Their love and lives are forever impacted by the Japanese occupation. The action toggles back and forth between intimate personal struggles and larger geopolitical intrigues under General Chiang Kai-Shek.

I am thankful that Professor Zheng has drilled deeply into his memory of that painful period to tell a story that needs to be read and understood as a cautionary tale.

Enjoy!

Al

Review of "He Comes In Fire" by Aaron R. Even - A Classic Southern Gothic Novel


Novelist Aaron R. Even has penned a classic Southern Gothic tale that is an historical fiction based on events that transpired in the South in the 1990s. A series of arson fires destroyed several black churches. The story sparked white hot initial interest in the press, smoldered for a while in the public consciousness, but then fell cold. Mr. Even reignites interest in these cases in "He Comes In Fire," by speculating on how  a racist criminal conspiracy could have been the driving force behind this series of fires.

The setting for the story is a fictional county in Virginia. A motley assortment of preachers, ex-cons, and garden variety lost souls interact in committing these crimes and trying to solve them.  . Thuggery mets theology, divinity meets drug abuse, arson meets atonement. Mr. Even's writing style is elegant and tension-filled. His characters come to life, and demand attention from the reader.

I look forward to reading more of his work.

Enjoy!

Al

Friday, May 12, 2017

Liars & Believers Present "Yellow Bird Chase" Conceived by Jason Slavick - Totally Enchanting and Ingenious


I had so much fun last night at the Calderwood Pavilion of the BCA. Liars & Believers have put together an absolutely enchanting piece - part circus and part theater - which they call "Yellow Bird Chase." The piece was conceived and directed by Jason Slavick , with writing help from the rest of the LAB Ensemble, in collaboration with Luminati.

The conceit is that the audience hears music and language coming from the performers. The music is sung primarily in English, but the actors speak in gibberish, forcing the listener to use other senses to decide what is happening in the story that is being acted out.

A group of three actors enter the theater, dressed as maintenance workers. The theater is decked out as a large janitor's closet, with equipment and supplies appropriate for cleaning a large office building. But they are also adorned as clowns, with appropriate clown noses. They encounter a beautiful yellow bird, who lays a golden egg. When the bird flies away, they are determined to follow it to collect more eggs and make their fortune. Their trek takes them to a desert, atop a high mountain, through the air in an airplane, and finally into an encounter with a frightening over-sized pirate. The props and set for these scenes are all assembled by the actors from cleaning supplies and equipment. The large pirate mask is a thing of genius. (I would love to show it, but my stubborn computer is not letting me copy the lovely images that LAB sent over this morning.) The yellow bird is formed from a pair of gloves, the camel they encounter in the desert is composed of a sheet, broomstick, and other accoutrements.

The creativity and ingenuity of this theater troupe is without parallel. The three actors are superb in their miming and in sustaining the gibberish, which proved to be internally consistent. The camel was always referred to as a "Humpety-Hump," and "Thank You" was always "Machu Pichu"! The three are Jesse Garlick as Marco, Rebecca Lehrhoff as Ruffles, and Rachel Wiese as Poodge, filling in for Glen Moore for a few performances.

While all of this delightful action is taking place, interspersed among the adventures of the travelers, there are jazzy and bluesy songs provided by the talented Luminati, featuring the wondrous vocal stylings of Johnny Blazes, backed up by trombonist Tim Lewandowski, and bassist Brendan Higgins. It all hangs together and flows perfectly. At one point, Mr. Lewandowski turned himself into a peg leg pirate using a plunger as his peg leg. Like Willy Wonka, these entertainers invite the audience to enter a world of pure imagination, and the experience is delicious. I could see anyone from the age of 3 to 93 enjoying this show.

Costumes Design is by Kendra Bell, Puppetry Direction and Design by Penny Benson, Scenic Design and Props by Rebecca Lehrhoff, Puppetry Coaching by Faye Dupras, Lighting Design by PJ Strachman, with Becca Leifer and Rachel Hock as Producers.

It runs through May 21st at the BCA. Get your tickets. Take your mother, grandmother, children, and grandchildren.

Liars and Believers Website

Enjoy!

Alndra Bl



Review of "Return To Dead City by Mike Reuther - A Cozzy Crager Mystery


As a lover of baseball, I was eager to read this murder mystery set in the world of minor league Class A ball. Detective Cozzy Crager has recently returned to his hometown of Centre Towne, PA, home of the struggling farm team for the Mets. He no sooner arrives than the aging star of the baseball team, Lance Miller, is found dead. And we are off to the races.

The list of suspects and those with an ax to grind constitute a fascinating story. There are intertwining relationships at every turn. Lance's ex-wife is a suspect. his brother is owner of the team, and has been implicated  in dubious financial dealings. The detective's investigation takes him from shady dives to the ivied halls of in the local university. There are ex-lovers to be considered in the mix.Then there is the complication Lance's steroid use, and the question of who provided the drugs.  Things are complicated, and it takes a great deal of grit on the part of Cozzy to untangle this Gordian knot.

The writing is crisp, clear, and entertaining. This novel, "Return To Dead City,"is part of author Mike Reuter's "Cozzy Crager Mystery Series." I look forward to reading more of them.

Enjoy!

Al

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review of "We Are All Weird" by Seth Godin - The Myth of Mass and the End of Compliance


I am a huge fan of Seth Godin and the wisdom that he freely shares so prolifically. I make it a priority to read each of his books, as well as his daily e-mail messages.  I have attended several of his live presentations. I always walk away from a Seth Godin encounter both challenged and energized. I read "We Are All Weird" a while ago, but am just getting around to sharing my thoughts on this little gem.

He summarizes well the theme of this book on page 4: "The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of the mass, and the never-ceasing tide of weird." This emphasis on the end of the efficacy of mass marketing builds upon his earlier book "Tribes." I recently reviewed a book by Sebastian Junger called "Tribe," in which the author makes a similar point about the role of tribe and close tribal relationships in engendering emotional health and healing from short term PTSD for warriors. Tribal dynamics apply to the field of warfare, and to the field of business. And the growing awareness of our need to identify and utilize the power of small tribes stands in sharp contradistinction to the traditional American ethos of independence and individualism.

Advances in technology, marketing, manufacturing, communication, and distribution now make it easy for any enterprising person or company to offer their unique services and goods to small niche markets of tribal members who appreciate something that is not geared for the unwashed masses. This is true of the commodities we buy, the foods we eat, the hobbies we enjoy, the politics we embrace, and the lifestyle we choose to pursue. Godin's book is a manifesto to push the envelope as far in the direction of tribal and weird as one dares to go.

It is the end of mass marketing, mass production, mass communication as we have know it. In a sense, Seth is saying, with a smile on his face and a glint in his eye: "Go in peace. The mass is ended."!

Enjoy!

Al

Taking A Second Look At "Desire" by Zeitgeist Stage Company - Finding An Interesting Connection


I so much enjoyed the six plays that constitute "Desire" that I returned last evening to the Boston Center for the Arts for a second look.

(See my review from last week): White Rhino Report Review of "Desire"

All of the things that I said in last week's review apply to my second visit. The performances were crisp and the storytelling compelling.

As I read through the program, I noticed a bit of synchronicity. The fifth play in the cycle, "Desire Quenched by Touch" was written by Marcus Gardley. When I saw the play last week, I was not familiar with Mr. Gardley's work. But his name keeps popping up on my radar screen. On Tuesday evening at Central Square Theatre, I attended a reading of a play. The play was presented by a new theater group that has been formed in town: The Front Porch Arts Collective. The group "is an inclusive organization which examines the interactions between race, economics, culture, gender, and sexuality from a Black and Brown perspective." Founders of The Front Porch Arts Collective are Maurice Emmanuel Parent, Dawn M. Simmons, and Keith Mascoll.

The play which they read was "Dance of the Holy Ghost: A Play on Memory" by Marcus Gardley. This reading is part of a Reading Series entitled "God's Closet." Over the next year, the Collective will present readings of five additional Gardley plays, in anticipation of mounting a full production of a Gardley play in the Fall of 2018.

For details on upcoming readings, see this website:

Front Porch Arts Collective Website

So, Boston audiences now have multiple opportunities to learn to appreciate the works of Marcus Gardley. The next opportunity is to visit the Zeitgeist production of "Desire," running through May 20.  Included in that run will be a  "Pay What You Can" (minimum of $10) performance next Wednesday evening.

Enjoy!

Al

Review of "The TimeKeepers" by Jenn Bregman - A Fast-paced Tale of Insurance Fraud


In Jenn Bregman's novel, "The TimeKeepers," attorney Sarah Brockman is struggling as a young lawyer trying to establish a personal injury law practice.Everything changes when she takes on a case precipitated by a serious car crash. She soon finds herself roped into a labyrinth of insurance fraud that  involves complicit parties at every level of the criminal justice system - judges, attorneys, policemen. In order to help her client, and to keep herself safe, she partners with some unlikely allies, including a socialite, an ex-felon, a crackhead, and a storytelling Mexican. In the midst of all of the chaos, she develops a strong affinity for handsome Sam. The action pinballs back and forth among Southern California, Mexico, and the Cook Islands, where the liberal banking laws play a role in the plot of this thriller.

The author dials in more than the average ratio of plot twists and surprises. The pace of the action is break-neck, and the characters are colorful enough to be interesting and amusing.  I could not wait to find out what would happen next, and found myself rooting strongly for Sarah, and for Sam.

Enjoy!

Al

Review of "A California Closing" by Robert Wintner - A Hilarious Send-Up of California Lifestyles


Robert Wintner has penned a hilariously entertaining send-up of the many excesses of life in affluent California. In "A California Closing," Michael Mulroney appears to be at the top of the heap. As a used-car magnate, he has opened multiple locations and his face is all over billboards and TV screens. He lives at the top of the hill - the most prestigious spot - in an outrageously expensive neighborhood. The problem is that he is over-leveraged, and the economy is in the toilet. He is only days away from foreclosure and disgrace. He needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

The action of this fast-paced novel takes us through his schemes to raise some quick cash, his obsession with the expensive bicycle fitness craze, his dalliance with the rich widow down the hill. Wintner peppers the narrative with a spicy variety of memorable characters and caricatures. Surface beauty often meets underlying ethical ugliness in this tongue-in-cheek morality tale. It is wonderfully entertaining social commentary about the worst abuses of the California lifestyle.

I enjoyed reading it, and plan to check out some of Mr. Wintner's other works.

Enjoy!

Al

Review of "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi - An Epic Tale of 300 Years of Captivity


It is easy to see why the voice of novelist Yaa Gyasi has reverberated so loudly in the literary world. This first novel, "Homegoing," has an epic reach in telling a story that spans 300 years and many generations. While steeped in history and full of complex and fascinating characters, it speaks clearly to the current issues of race relations - in Africa and in America.

The plot begins with two half-sisters born in different villages in Ghana in the 18th century. Following a common custom of the time, Effia is married off to an Englishman. She and her husband live comfortably in his household in the plush apartments of the Cape Coast Castle. The Castle is a place that contains a large holding cell for captives who are about to be shipped as slaves to the New World. Unbeknownst to Effia, her half sister, Esi, is one of those captives being held in the dungeon. Esi is about to be sent to America.

Throughout the novel, two narrative threads are constantly intertwining. The first thread follows Effia and her descendants as several generations in Ghana wrestle with the complexities of British colonization and the internecine warfare between the Fante and Asante tribes. The other thread follows Esi's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as they move from the ante-bellum plantations to the Civil War, the Great Migration to the North, the coal mines of Alabama, and the jazz clubs of the Harlem Renaissance.

Ms. Gyasi, born in Ghana and raised in Alabama, creates multi-layered characters about whom the reader comes to care deeply. This chronicle that follows generation after generation of a single family reminded me of the best of Alex Haley's "Roots." Throughout several centuries, strong individuals are swept up by forces larger than themselves. The bottom line is that this gifted writer shows us how the deep-seated memory of captivity and slavery can influence an individual several generations removed from the physical shackles.

I agree with the many others that have called this novel the best book of the year.

Enjoy!

Al

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review of "Helen - A Novel" by Anita Mishook - A Unique Look At Hollywood in the 1930s



First time novelist Anita Mishook has written in "Helen" a fascinating story steeped in the little known history of anti-Semitism in Hollywood leading up to the Second World War. Many of us have been familiar with the Communists who inhabited the Hollywood studios during those halcyon days, but few were aware of a robust underground of Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites hell bent on wresting control of the movie business from the hands of the Jews who had built many of the studios.

The story is told through the eyes of Helen, who travels from New York to Glendale to help out her sister. Her plan is to take care of her niece and nephew while her sister works in the family liquor store. One step at a time, Helen finds herself ensnared in a dark world of Nazis, mobsters, bookies, and thugs. The Anti-Defamation League believes that she is perfectly positioned to spy on the cabal of Nazi sympathizers. She is reluctant to play that role, despite her loyalty to the Jewish cause. She soon finds herself facing danger and challenges on every front. Who can she trust? How can she protect herself and her sister?

Many of the fictional characters in this novel are based on real individuals who played a significant role in these political and criminal intrigues at the height of the Hollywood studio system.

It is a delightful and disturbing first effort by Ms. Mishook.  Her characters are three-dimensional and complex, and the action is suspenseful and fast-paced.I look forward to reading more from her.

Enjoy!

Al


Review of "The Undoing Project" by Michael Lewis - A Friendship That Changed Our Minds


With the publication of "The Undoing Project," Michael Lewis has done it again; he has taken a complex and arcane topic, and made it accessible and fascinating to his readers. In this case, the topic is the unlikely friendship and collaboration between two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. These men conducted breakthrough studies that challenged the accepted wisdom of how we make judgments in uncertain situations. Their controversial conclusions established them at the top of their field, and in essence created the new field of behavioral economics. Their work also led to a revolution in Big Data, new approaches to evidence-based medicine, and new ways of viewing government regulation. Mr. Lewis acknowledges that much of the work that he has done over the past several years would not have been possible without the insights provided by this duo of Israeli scientists.

Like most Israelis, Daniel and Amos began their careers serving in the Israeli military. They were polar opposites in terms of personality, temperament, and demeanor. Tversky was an outgoing warrior who would command every room he entered. Kahneman, who had escaped the Nazis, lived with self-doubt and was an introvert. Despite these stark differences, they were often of one mind when it came to designing and interpreting experiments. Tversky's wife, Barbara, often noted that the relationship shared with Daniel was closer in some ways than a marriage. They completed one another intellectually. In 2002, six years after Tversky's death, Kahneman received the Nobel Prize in Economics for the work that he and Tversky had done together. They could often not remember which one of the two had originated a particular idea, so they would flip a coin to decide who should get the lead credit on any paper that they would write together.

Kahneman went on to write the acclaimed book "Thinking Fast and Slow." Michael Lewis's depiction of this unique friendship and partnership serves to shed light on how long-established ideas can be overturned and updated given enough willingness to challenge accepted thinking and to do the hard work of collecting and disseminating compelling data.

This book has practical value in helping the reader to assess how he/she makes decisions in a wide variety of settings - as a consumer, a parent, an employer or employee, a policy maker, or an academic.

Enjoy!

Al

Review of "Into The Magic Shop" by James R. Doty, M.D.


I found James Doty's book, "Into The Magic Shop," to be both fascinating and inspiring. He begins his tale by recounting an encounter he had when he was a child. He grew up in poverty in the California High Desert, the son of an alcoholic father and a severely depressed mother. He was a fan of magic,, and one day we rode his bike  to the magic shop in town, where he encountered Ruth, the shopkeeper's mother who was visiting from out of state. That magical encounter changed his life. Ruth offered to teach him a different kind of magic that summer if he would promise to practice the exercises she gave him to do.That summer changed his life and set him on an unlikely path to college, medical school, a career as a surgeon, and as a researcher who studies the relationship between the brain and the heart..

Ruth's summer course for James included exercises that have led to lifelong disciples of meditation, relaxation, mindfulness, and empathy for others. It was a spiritual course without dogma. In his introduction to the book, Dr. Doty shares a harrowing story of a surgery that went wrong, and how he was able to keep himself and his body from panic when a young boy's life was on the line and apparently ebbing away. In those weeks with Ruth that summer long ago, young James had learned about what  he would eventually be able to call "neuroplasticity" - the ability to learn new things and rewire the way our brains work and think.

The subtitle of this book gives an accurate picture of the journey that the reader will go on as he follows the path that James Doty took from that dusty summer to becoming a Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University, and Director of The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. The Center works in close cooperation with the Dalai Lama. The subtitle: "A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart."

This book is one that should be enjoyed by anyone willing to learn more about the ineffable connection between the heart and the head. Using science and personal experience, Dr. Doty reveals some of the magic in those connections.

Enjoy!

Al

Monday, May 08, 2017

SpeakEasy Stage Company Serves Up A Near Perfect Boston Premiere of "The Bridges of Madison County" - A MUST SEE


This powerful theater season in Boston has added another notch to its gun. The SpeakEasy Stage Company production of "The Bridges of Madison County" that opened this weekend at the Calderwood Pavilion is a transcendent work of art, with excellence on display by all involved, from the creative forces who wrote the piece, to the technicians who have helped to stage it, to those who bring it alive on stage and in the orchestra pit.

I had the privilege of seeing the short-lived Broadway run of this musical, with the luminous Kelli O'Hara in the key role of Francesca, the Italian war bride who is struggling with her life as a farmer's wife in the cornfields of Iowa. Ms. O'Hara's performance was wonderful, but I do not recall being as deeply moved by her portrayal of Francesca as I was yesterday by the incredibly talented Jennifer Ellis, who anchors this production. Ms. Ellis has built a stellar resume as a leading lady on Boston area stages, but she has never shone more brightly than she does in this challenging role. Her singing of the haunting score by Jason Robert Brown is crystal clear, but it is her ability to project the range of emotions that Francesca experiences during this play that builds a bridge between the character and the audience. She constructs that bridge with an artistry that employs tools of voice, inflection, gesture, glance, posture, gait, and pace. It is a performance that you will not want to miss.

Christiaan Smith as Robert
Jennifer Ellis as Francesca
"The Bridges of Madison County"
SpeakEasy Stage Company
Calderwood Pavilion
Through June 3rd


But it is not the case that this production relies on the brilliance of Jennifer Ellis alone. She is wonderfully supported on all sides. Her leading man Christiaan Smith, is a matinee idol right out of central casting as the rugged and loner Robert, a National Geographic photographer who has come to Madison County to capture the iconic covered bridges. Little did he suspect that a humble Iowa housewife would capture his heart in the process. He arrives at Francesca's farmhouse to ask directions. He is lost in more than one sense. Husband Bud (Christopher Chew) and teenage children Carolyn (Katie Elinoff) and Michael (Nick Siccone) have decamped to Indianapolis for the 4H National, where Carolyn's prize steer will be judged. The question is, while the family is away, will Francesca steer clear of the dangers that present themselves when sparks fly between her and Robert. Their duets soar and build musically and emotionally as the action of the play develops. "Wondering," "Falling Into You," "Who We Are and Who We Want To Be," and "Before and After You/A Million Miles" are all memorable in the depth of the writing and the brilliance of execution by these two fine actors.

Mr. Chew is a perfect foil. Bud is a solid, conservative, salt of the earth type who knows how to run a farm, but never figures out how to cultivate the fallow field that is Francesca's heart. His song, "Something From A Dream," helps to define his character. Ms. Elinoff and Mr. Siccone are effective as the troubled and troublesome teenagers who fight with one another and with their father over issues of future direction for them and for the family.

Francesca's wonderfully nosey neighbors are Marge (Kerry A. Dowling) and her laconic husband, Charlie (Will McGarrahan). Their subdued existence is wonderful counterpoint to the passion that Francesca and Robert exude. Ms. Dowling and Mr. McGarrahan are perfect in these important secondary roles. Highlights include her song "Get Closer," and his elegiac "When I'm Gone."
 Alessandra Valea does double duty as Robert's ex-wife, Marian, and Francesca's randy sister, Chiara. As Marian, she shines in the song "Another Life."

Rounding out the cast are Peter S. Adams, Rachel Belleman, Ellen Peterson, and Edward Simon. Ms. Belleman makes a strong vocal impression as a Radio Singer in State Road 21.

Director M. Bevin O'Gara makes an indelible mark with this production as she prepares to leave Boston for a new and exciting career opportunity to run a theater in upstate New York. She has made some excellent choices in allowing the actors to convey this moving story with a minimum of clutter. The Scenic Design by Cameron Anderson subtly suggests the angle of beams of the iconic covered bridges, enhanced by brilliantly conceived Lighting by Annie Weigand and Projections by Garrett Herzig. Costumes by Mark Nagle are rooted in the fields of Iowa, and Sound Design by David Reiffel helps to complete the bucolic setting of the action. Music Director Matthew Stern leads an excellent seven piece band that is strong in conveying Mr. Brown's liberal use of guitar and strings, featuring mellow cello riffs that set the right mood for the piece. Choreography is by Misha Shields.

The choices that Francesca and Robert make reminded me of Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken." It is an honest and deeply resonating story line. The peripatetic Robert came to Iowa to photograph bridges, but he found that the chasm deep in his soul was bridged by Francesca's beauty and openness. Her longing for home found an unlikely cure in the arms of this world traveler who had photographed her bombed out home town of Naples. He photographed the bench where she used to sit awaiting the return of her Italian soldier finance who never came back from the war. Seeing the picture of that bench ripped off the scab and opened up her heart to acknowledge a lifetime of longing for something ineffable.

Book is by Marsha Norman, based upon the novel by Robert James Waller. This production will run through June 4th. Rush to get tickets while they are still available. I consider this show a MUST SEE for any serious theatergoer.

SpeakEasy Stage Websites

Enjoy!

Al

Live Theater Comes To Fields Corner - Praxis Stage Company Presents "Jesus Hopped The A Train" by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Daniel Williams as Lucius Jenkins
Danny Mourino as Angel Cruz
Dawn Davis as Mary Jane
Harry Garo as Valdez
Daniel Boudreau as D'Amico
"Jesus Hopped The A Train" by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Praxis Stage Company
Through May 21st

In its initial season, Praxis Stage Company follows up the success of its initial production "Incident At Vichy" with another thought-provoking work. "Jesus Hopped The A Train" by Stephen Adly Guirgis is a gritty drama, set in a cell block on Riker's Island in New York City. Two inmates, Angel Cruz (Danny Mourino) and Lucius Jenkins (Daniel Williams) encounter one another during the one hour each day they are each allowed outside of their cells to exercise and experience some fresh air and sunlight. They initially verbally spar with each other and with the guard, Valdez (Harry Garo). Cruz is awaiting trial for attempted murder, and Jenkins is a serial killer who is awaiting extradition to be executed down South. Rounding out the cast are Dawn Davis as Mary Jane, Angel's attorney who sticks her neck out trying to help him, and Daniel Boudreau, as prison guard D'Amico.

This production is Directed by Mr. Boudreau and Dayenne C. Byron Walters. Technical Director and Set Builder is James Saint George, Set Design by Carlos W. Byron, Sound by Roberto Mighty, Original Music by Patrick Sebastien Casky, Fight Choreography by Nathan Johnson.

The performance space is an intimate second floor walk-up at 1486 Dorchester Avenue that is the home of Dorchester Art Project, a short walk from the Fields Corner stop on the Ashmont Branch of the Red Line.

Praxis Stage Company seeks to do "political theater." This production delves into the question of "how we erase members of our society through neglect, incarceration, and execution." The depiction of these two prisoners erases stereotypes. These two men, from tough backgrounds, talk in sophisticated terms about issues of faith, philosophy, worldview, and the nature of their crimes. They are thoughtful men whose deeds have consigned them to society's garbage heap. Mr. Morino and Mr. Williams give strong performances, creating three-dimensional human beings. Ms. Davis is also strong in her depiction of the attorney who is torn between a desire for justice and her propensity to offer grace and mercy, at great risk to herself and her career.

When you go to see this play, which will run through May 21st, take advantage of the new dessert shop next door at 1480 Dorchester Avenue: Coco Leaf. It features bubble tea and a wide assortment of Asian desserts.

Enjoy!

Al Chase


Company One Presents "Peerless" by Jiehae Park - Through May 27th


Company One has formed a unique partnership with Boston Public Library. "Peerless" by Jiehae Park is the first production to be presented in the newly refurbished Rabb Hall. This creative partnership promises many benefits to the Boston theater community.

In this play, Ms. Park addresses herself to the complexities of gaining admission to a top university - THE TOP UNIVERSITY. Identical twins M and L have done everything in their power to game the system as they understand it. The sisters have moved on their own to a rural school district to increase their geographical chances of selection. They are Asian, so they can play the diversity card. They have taken every possible AP course, so their adjusted GPAs are 4.8 and 4.6. But disaster strikes when a nerdy "undeserving" male student from their high school is admitted. They know that this is a zero sum game, and only one student from the district will attend THE UNIVERSITY.

As the action unfolds, the playwright asks many questions: How far will someone go to ensure admission to the ultimate college? What values will be compromised? Is the bond between twin sisters strong enough to endure the appearance of competition between them? Is the "system" rigged to force adolescents to become dehumanized in the process of applying?

Director Steven Bogart has this energetic cast of five talking and acting at a fast pace, befitting the pace at which Millennials live and communicate. M (Kim Klasner) and L (Khloe Alice Lin) in particular talk with each other in a patter that almost feels like Morse Code. They can finish each other's sentences, so the back and forth smatterings of phrases come like machine gun fire between the twins. James Wechsler stands out as D, the student who has gained early acceptance. His allergy to tree nuts proves to be a crucial plot point. Brenna Fitzgerald is effective as the enigmatic Dirty Girl, a disheveled Oracle at Delphi who shares mystical foreknowledge with the twins. Kadahj Bennett is BF, M's boyfriend who gets tired of her machinations and opts out of the prom date and the relationship.

Kim Klasner as M, Kadahj Bennett as BF
James Wechsler as D, Khloe Alice Lin as L
"Peerless" by Jiehae Park
Company One
Boston Public Library
Through May 27th
Photo by Jeremy Fraga 

Set Design is by Jiyoung Han, Lighting by Emmett Buhmann, Costumes by Miranda Giurleo, Sound by Lee Schuna

As currently constituted, the process of gaining admission to elite universities is flawed and contains many hidden biases. Ms. Park's play shines a much needed spotlight on that process, and prompts us to ask questions that are long overdue. Company One invites exploration of these questions with Talkback Sessions after performances of the play.

Through May 27th at Boston Public Library, Copley Square.

Company One Website

Enjoy!

Al

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Audiences Respond Enthusiastically To Boston Ballet's Latest Program - Stravinsky, Egmont and The Concert by Jerome Robbins

"The Concert" by Jerome Roberts
Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House
Through May 27th
Igor Burlak Photograph, Courtesy of Boston Ballet

Another Opening Night and another success for Boston Ballet. Last evening's audience was wildly enthusiastic about the triple program, including one Boston Ballet Premiere, a World Premiere, and a reprise of a popular program that Boston Ballet first presented in 2015.

The evening began with dancers all in elegant black and white costumes presenting the Boston Ballet Premiere of the "Stravinsky Violin Concerto," choreographed by George Balanchine, with Lighting by John Cuff, Staging by Paul Boos and Colleen Neary. The orchestra was led by Conductor David Briskin, and the violin soloist was Jason Horowitz. My guest, a knowledgeable ballet aficionado, called the choreography the most beautiful he had ever seen.

The opening Movement, "Toccata," was danced by Seo Hye Han, Lasha Khozashvili, Lia Cirio, and John Lam. Each of these Boston Ballet Principal Dancers demonstrated why they are at the top of their profession, combining grace, strength, endurance, flawless lines, and passion in their series of pas de deux. Cirio and Lam continued with the Second Movement, "Aria I," and Han and Khozashvili took over the stage for the Third Movement, "Aria II." The final Movement, "Capriccio," saw this quartet of dancers joined by eight women and eight men from the Corps de Ballet.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto by George Balanchine
Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House
Through May 27th
Igor Burlak Photograph, Courtesy of Boston Ballet


Following the first Intermission, we were treated to the World Premiere of "Creatures of Egmont," choreographed by Jorma Elo, Lighting by John Cuff, and Costume Design by Robert Perdziola. The music was Beethoven's "Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus," and the "Egmont Overture," Bach's "Fantasia & Fugue in g minor," Schumann's "Figure No. 6" from "Six Fugues." In this piece, the artistry of Lighting Designer John Cuff was on full display. The tones were all shades of blue - background, costumes, and lighting effects. Various levels of intensity of light signaled shifting moods and tempi.

"Creatures of Egmont" by Jorma Elo
Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House
Through May 27th
Igor Burlak Photograph, Courtesy of Boston Ballet

Twelve dancers interpreted the gorgeous choreography of Jorma Elo. They were: Lia Cirio, Lasha Khozashvili, Misa Kuranga, Paulo Arrais, Dusty Button, Sabi Varga, Seo Hye Han, Junxiong Zhao, Maria Baranova, Patrick Yocum, Addie Tapp, Drew Nelson.


"Creatures of Egmont" by Jorma Elo
Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House
Through May 27th
Igor Burlak Photograph, Courtesy of Boston Ballet

The final piece of the evening was a reprise of a 2015 Boston Ballet Premiere, "The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody)" by Jerome Robbins. This ballet, first performed in 1956 by the New York City Ballet, is an ironic look at the kind of creatures who attend concerts and manage to annoy their neighbors. It features music by Frederic Chopin, with Freda Locker on stage playing the Steinway. She becomes part of the action of the ballet, as well. This piece is light-hearted and amusing, and is an audience favorite.

Principal Dancers in this piece were Kathleen Breen Combes, Lasha Khozashvili, and Dusty Button. They were joined by Isaac Akiba, Diana Albrecht, Daniel Cooper, Emily Entingh, Dalay Parrondo, Matthew Slattery, Patrick Yocum and a Corps of twelve additional dancers.

Pianist Freda Locker
Kathleen Breen Combes
"The Concert" by Jerome Roberts
Boston Ballet
Boston Opera House
Through May 27th
Igor Burlak Photograph, Courtesy of Boston Ballet


This program, running in repertory with "The Sleeping Beauty" will close on May 27th. Get your tickets early.

Boston Ballet Website

Enjoy!

Al

Friday, May 05, 2017

"The Naive and the Sentimental Novlist" by Orhan Pamuk - Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature


There is a good reason that Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is a brilliant writer and is also a keen observer of the work of other writers.

In this non-fiction work, "The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist - Understanding What Happens When We Write and Read Novels," Pamuk uses as a springboard Friedrich Schiller's famous distinction between "naive poets and sentimental poets." A naive writer is one who produces work spontaneously, serenely, and unselfconsciously. A sentimental writer is reflective, emotional, questioning, and alive to his own artifice of the written word. In less than 200 pages, Pamuk takes the reader through an analysis of the writings of such literary luminaries as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Stendhal, and Proust.  He proposes that the best writers are always trying to achieve a proper balance between the extreme poles of naive and sentimental.

As a lover of classic literary novels, I found Pamuk's insights to be thrilling and eye-opening. His exposition has helped me to better appreciate the craft of writers I have long enjoyed, as well as helping me to come to value more recent authors who have found a way to achieve the proper balance between naive and sentimental.

Enjoy!

Al

"Up In The Cheap Seats" by Ron Fassler - A Historical Memoir of Broadway


Any fan of Broadway and its illustrious history will want to read this delightful book, "Up In The Cheap Seats." Author Ron Fassler takes us on a journey back to his boyhood growing up on Long Island. He tells the compelling story of how, between the ages of 12 and 16, he travelled by himself into Manhattan on the LIRR and saw 200 Broadway musicals and plays - for as little as $1.50 a ticket sitting "in the cheap seats"! As a young man, he took copious notes about his reactions to each of the shows. He shares those reflections in this book, supplemented by his adult thoughts, and peppered with interviews with many of the performers he saw as a boy. Among those interviewed for this book are Jane Alexander, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, John Lithgow, Bette Midler, Mike Nichols, Harold Prince, and Stephen Sondheim.

The anecdotes and personal memories are amusing and often moving As an adult, Mr. Fassler has worked in the arena he fell in love with as a young man. He has been a writer, actor, and director. This book and the memories that it shares prompted me to go through my own mental catalogue of shows that I enjoyed as a young audience member. Some of them I share in common with the author, including "Fiddler On The Roof," "Othello," "No, No, Nanette," and "Pippin."

If you love, theater, you will love this book.

Enjoy!

Al

"Tribe" by Sebastian Junger - On Homecoming and Belonging


This book, "Tribe," really resonated with me. I have always enjoyed the work of Sebastian Junger, from "The Perfect Storm, Fire," "A Death In Belmont," War," and the film "Restrepo." In this little gem of a book, the author looks at the stark contrast between tribal communities - whether First Nation tribes or other tight knit communities - in terms of how they receive returning warriors. Native American tribes use a combination of ritualistic and relational techniques to mitigate the difficulties that returning warriors encounter. . The key dynamic that will determine whether short term PTSD will become long term disability is the quality of the empathy and support offered by the tribe to which the person returns.

Junger also discusses the paradox that  during times or war or natural disaster, rates of depression and suicide go down dramatically. He offers insights into how Londoners responded to the German blitz bombing in WWII. Similar phenomena can be identified among those who survived 9/11, Hurricane Katrrina, and other disasters - natural or man-made.

Junger draws on his extensive understanding of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and military life to offer insights that have relevance for returning soldiers and the members of the communities to which they return.

This book is a quick and impactful read.

Enjoy!

Al

"Gabriel" Takes Wing At Stoneham Theatre - A MUST SEE - Through May 14th


As I sat watching the New England Premiere of "Gabriel" by Moira Buffini last evening at Stoneham Theatre, I thought to myself: "This is what a thoroughly satisfying night at the theater should feel like." Set Designer Matthew Lazure has designed a gloriously rustic home for six outstanding actors to tell the story of the mysterious visitor who shows up on the beach on the Nazi-occupied island of Guernsey. Ms. Buffini's scintillating script has elements of mystery, political intrigue, poetry, and philosophical reflection all woven into a tight package of tension and complex relationships among the sextet of characters. The pitch perfect cast features veteran actors at the top of their game, and a representative of the next generation of performers who acquits herself wonderfully amidst this covey of seasoned professionals. The Direction by Weylin Symes is tight and flawless, with pacing that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Costumes by Gail Astrid Buckley define each character, Lighting by Jeffrey E. Salzberg signals shifting action and tone, as does Sound Design by David Reiffel. All in all, this is about as close to perfect as professional theater can be.

Georgia Lyman as Jeanne
Marissa Simeqi as Estelle
Josephine Moshiri Elwood as Lillian
Alexander Molina as Gabriel
Thomas Derrah as Major Von Pfunz
"Gabriel" by Moira Buffini
Stoneham Theatre
Through May 14th
Photo by Nile Haver/Nile Scott Shots

Let's consider the six characters and the actors who bring them to life on the Stoneham stage.
  • Major Von Pfunz (Thomas Derrah) is the newly appointed commander of the occupying forces on the island of Guernsey. He and his troops have taken over the Hermitage, the ancestral home of the most prominent of the families on the island. He visits the displaced Becquet family in their temporary home, a humble cottage with no indoor plumbing for a toilet. He pretends not to speak English, and thereby teases out of Jeanne Becquet (Georgia Lyman) some damning information. This sets in motion a tug of war between the two of them that is a mini-war within the larger conflict of WWII. Mr. Derrah is so good as an actor that he has become more than an actor; he has become a destination. What I mean is that as soon as I learn that he has been cast in an upcoming play, I make sure to engrave the dates on my calendar so as not to miss another bravura performance. His Major Von Pfunz is a complex bundle of tics, grunts, gesticulations, vocal harangues, poetic reveries, and Machiavellian machinations. He is peerless in developing this kind of a role.
  • Cheryl McMahon is Lake, the long-in-the-tooth and crusty cook for the Becquet family. She may be a servant, but she also rules with an iron hand. Ms. McMahon is perfect in this pivotal role, at first refusing to help to rescue Gabriel, and then becoming a strong advocate for him.
  • As Jeanne Becquet, Georgia Lyman once again demonstrates her versatility as an actor. Jeanne's son, Michael, is off to the war, flying for the RAF. She is strong and gritty enough to be willing to do whatever it takes to protect her remaining family and household from the ravages of war. She crosses swords with Major Pfunz in a beautifully written and perfectly acted first scene, and the tension between them grows until the final explosion. She is regal at one moment, and debased the next. In this war of wits, she brings a strong arsenal of words and wiles.
  • Josephine Moshiri Elwood is Lillian, daughter-in-law to Jeanne. As a Jew living under a false identity, she spends each day under a sword of Damocles. The arrival of the Major who takes a strong interest in the family ratchets up the level of danger for Lily. She plays a pivotal role in rescuing and nurturing Gabriel. Ms. Elwood is strong in this role that demands both courage and gentleness.
  • Alexander Molina is the enigmatic Gabriel. He is found unconscious and naked, having apparently washed up on the beach. For days he totters between life and death in the Becquet cottage. When he finally awakens, he has no memory of who he is or where he has come from. He speaks fluent English and German. Is he a British soldier, a Nazi, an island resident? Throughout the play, various other characters try to define who he is, and he serves as a mirror, reflecting their individual desires and prognostications. This is a difficult role to play, for Gabriel is a true tabula rasa upon whom each other person tries to inscribe their own needs and expectations. Mr. Molina, returning to the Stoneham stage after appearing here in "Laura", is magnificent in this challenging role. Gabriel demonstrates in a number of ways that his body begins to function before his mind is fully engaged. It is a strong and mesmerizing performance.
  • Marissa Simeqi is Estelle, daughter of Jeanne and precocious resistance fighter. Early in the play, Estelle draws a chalk square on the cottage floor, invoking mystical powers to bring her brother home, or to send an angel. When the mysterious and nameless man appears, she dubs him "Gabriel." Estelle is insidious in the ways she finds to torment Major Von Pfunz, and in many ways she is the emotional heart of this drama. Ms. Simeqi presents one of the finest performances by a young actor I have seen in quite some time. She is confident, and clearly understands the subtle subtexts of the issues that her character wrestles with. This engaging and charismatic actor has a bright future.
Marissa Simeqi as Estelle
"Gabriel" by Moira Buffini
Stoneham Theatre
Through May 14th
Photo by Nile Haver/Nile Scott Shots

If you are familiar with Stoneham Theatre, then this is a great time to return. If you have never been, I strongly suggest you make your reservation now. You may also want to book a meal a few doors down Main Street at the fabulous Felicia's restaurant. Be an angel and take someone with you to see the near perfect "Gabriel." You have only until May 14th. Do not miss this play.

Stoneham Theatre Website

Enjoy!

Al



Stoneham Theatre Website
.
Enjoy!

Al

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Apollinaire Theatre Company Presents A Timeless "Everyman" by Carol Ann Duffy - Must Close May 6th


There are good reasons why a 500 year old morality play still has relevance in 2017. "Everyman" was a popular Morality Play in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a genre that was descended from the Mystery Plays of the Middle Ages. In these plays, various moral attributes would be personified and would confront the protagonist, Everyman, to convince him to live a godly life. There was a recent New York production of a modern adaptation, written by acclaimed playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins, and entitled "Everybody." Scottish Playwright Carol Ann Duffy has also taken this ancient allegory and modernized it using her unique voice. This is the production that is coming up to its final weekend by Apollinaire Theatre Company in Chelsea. I strongly suggest you try to see it this Friday or Saturday at 8:00.

Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques gets the most out of this energetic cast of 10 actors, many of whom play multiple roles. Leading the pack as Everyman is the excellent Armando Rivera, who takes the audience along on Everyman's journey in figuring out how to confront Death and face his judgment before God. Ann Carpenter is wonderful as God, portrayed as a conscientious and pissed off janitor busy cleaning up the messes than mankind has made. Julee Antonellis is a revelation as Death personified, combining elements of Joan Jett and a Hells Angel biker. Ms. Antonellis clearly takes as much delight in this role as Death takes in tormenting Everyman. Dale J. Young is cooly avuncular as Knowledge, helping Everyman cope with his mounting disappointments. frustrations, and fears. Rounding out this fine cast are Charlotte Kinder, Miriela Lopez-Ponce, Evelyn Holley, Chelsea Evered, Emily Edstrom, and Micaela Kluver.


Cast
"Everyman" by Carol Ann Duffy
Apollinaire Theatre Company
Through May 6th


The Director was aided in Set Design by Marc Poirier. Costumes are by Susan Paino, Lighting by Christopher Bocchiaro, Sound Design by Lee Schuna. Original music was composed by Lee Schuna and Dan Whitelock.

The beauty of this play is that it addresses issues that are global - climate change, justice, consumerism - while also drilling deep into issues of personal morality - greed, lust, fidelity, empathy, respect for family. When Everyman realizes he needs to address personal failings, he asks for help in remembering a Prayer of Contrition from his youth. The ensemble joins him in singing a glorious "Deus Meus" composed by Dan Whitelock. It brought me to tears.

The play's call for societal repentance is so strong and compelling I would love to see it performed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, and then have the cast march down Pennsylvania Avenue and repeat their performance on the South Lawn of the White House.

There remain only two performances. Do what you can to get to Chelsea this Friday or Saturday evening. Every Man and Every Woman will find something of value in this excellent production of a brilliant work of art that has stood the test of time.

Apollinaire Theatre Website

Enjoy!

Al