Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Bombs & Music"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey

BOMBS and Music

By Beverly Creasey

No Bombs No Music

Even before the Alarm Clock Theatre’s BOMBS & MANIFESTOS begins, you hear the rumble of distant subway trains, lulling you like the stethoscope sound of steady, sloshing heartbeat. John Tibbetts’ soothing underground sounds dovetail with Jeff Stern’s evocative (high contrast photography) films of MBTA escalators and tunnel walkways projected onto faceted, grid marked screens hung on either side of Kelly Fitzpatrick’s clever photo collage set. The setting for the play is exquisite. The play is not.

Brian Polak’s one-track rant (which has scarcely little to do with the Unabomber) about the gaps in American society--- between haves and have-nots, between meaning and meaninglessness, between truth and fiction---delivered by Steven Johnson as a subway busker, left me feeling like the captive subterranean audience he assaults in the play, unable to leave until their train arrives. The anti-climactic monologue is amplified by a microphone in the miniscule black box theater at the BCA (with only three rows of seats) and the result is almost deafening. All I could think of during the deadly diatribe is the warning posted all over British underground stations: Mind the Gap!

Music for the Spheres at Metro Stage

When you see a special performance, like Kendra Kachadoorian’s righteous panhandler in Metro Stage’s vibrant A NEW BRAIN, you’re left wishing you could see it again—and you can’t because the show has closed. Well, the Metro Stage Company made my dreams come true last night with their one performance only cabaret, called HEART AND MUSIC, in which they staged the showstoppers from their last three seasons—and some knockouts from shows they may be producing in the future, God willing.

There was Aaron Velthouse soaring into the stratosphere with “Flying Home” from SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD, Joshua Heggie rocking the house with Charles Kircher in “River Won’t Flow” and Mary O’Donnell nailing the powerful title song, all from WORLD.

Please. Please. Please let Metro get the rights to HAIRSPRAY, Lord. Their foot stomping, roof raising “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” choreographed to beat the band by director, Linda Sughrue, lifted the entire audience out of its seat. Speaking of the band, Karen Gahagan and Mark McGettrick sounded like a whole orchestra. Did I mention that James Tallach arrived as mother Turnblad in six-inch heels? And that Paul Farwell was emcee---in full “Sisters of Mercy” habit? I can’t begin to describe the hi-jinks. Suffice it to say, everyone had a ball. And some of us won raffle prizes!

Stop kicking yourselves. They may do it again. If they do, do not miss it or you’ll be tempted to fling yourself off a ledge, like Tracy Nigard threatens in the hilarious “Just One Step.” Bravo, Metro. Bravissimo!

"Bombs & Manifestos" (5 - 20 January)
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide