Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Blood Wedding"-"Dracula" & "The Emperor's New Clothes"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Larry Stark


Theater is always an art of the possible. Genuine critics always demand that reach exceed grasp; reviewers often marvel that the miraculous illusion of a silk purse sometimes belies the sow's-ear of its construction; and, ignoring both, there is always an actual audience that tends, more or less, to be satisfied, and occasionally uplifted, by what reviewer and critic both see as mere artifice. Let's try a few examples:

"The Emperor's New Clothes"

Adapted by Noah Smith
Directed by Caitlin Stewart-Swift

Props & Costumes by Deb "the" Shea
Costume Design by Lesley Anne Moreau
Graphic Design by Kristin Boucher
Stage Manager Catie Howell

Johnny....................James Aitchison
Susie.......................Lianne O'Shea
Rags..........................Tim Fairley
Prince.......................Gavin Killeg
Pennyloaf......................Debra Mein
Emperor...............Vincent C. Morreale
Empress........................Erin Brehm
Mother......................Kaili Turnerr
Bryanna......................Erika Gellar
Models...Victoria Townsend, Jessica Corbo
A Photographer.......Andres Rey Solorzano

Part of the problem with theater for kids is giving the grown-ups and parents something they too can enjoy. Some of the adult experience is in watching the kids "get" and enjoy the show; the more interesting that is, the less necessary it is to slide into the plot or performance any sop to the elders. Here, since the basic story can be fully described in three or so succinct sentences, Noah Smith's and Caitlin Stewart-Swift's concern was What To Add.

They emphasized the Emperor's clothes-fetish by saying he held fashion-shows almost hourly, and brought in a pair of bored models and a photographer, and they added an overworked designer (Pennyloaf). On the other side, Johnny the charlatan was shown as a congenital swindler, with a sister (Susie) who'd prefer to go straight, settle down, and marry. Voila, there's a Prince to fall in love with --- and, to complicate things, Johnny and Pennyloaf ended their every sentence insulting one another with inadvertent compliments. So they, too, were smitten! Then came the subtextual moral: Johnny, the Empress and the Emperor were too self-absorbed to listen to Susie or the Prince, so none of them believed these two knew there was no "beautiful suit of clothes". (The faithful and intelligent dog Rags might have helped, but he could only bark.) So again the company invented an obnoxious Parent and Child who noisily came late, asked people to start the play over again just for them, demanded an intermission as a bathroom-break, and only then rather innocently admitted they saw no beautiful clothes on the preening Emperor standing there in nothing but a suit of red underwear.

So Emperor and Empress and Johnny all reformed, two pairs of lovers got each other, and the parents got to watch a cutely quick little fairy-tale which was interesting both to themselves and their children up to, say, eight, and it was (Tarantarah!) L I V E theater!
[ Next Up: "ROBIN HOOD!" ]

"The Emperor's New Clothes" (6 - 21 February)
MAKESHIFT THEATRE COMPANY
@ The Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street, ARLINGTON MA
1 (???) ???-????

"Dracula"

Adapted by John Mattera
Directed by Michael Babish

Producer Chris DeKalb
Costume Design by Cara Chiaramonte
Lighting Design by Matt Kimmel
Sound Design by by Neil Marsh
Set Design by Lesley Anne Moreau
Make-up Design by Crystal Kaloostian
Assistant Make-up Designer Kathleen Di Simone
Fight Choreographer Lara Jay
Props Cordinator Shaunna Francis
Light Board Operator Kay Coughlin
Technical Director Jennifer Koerber
Graphic Design by Gilly Rosenthal
Publicity/Ad sales by Heidi Clark
Photography by Elizabeth Leonard
Videographer Jo Guthrie
Assistant Housee Manager Beckie Hunter
Assistant Director/Stage Manager/Dramaturg Renee Johnson

Jonathan Harker................Andrew Lebrun
Count Dracula......................Ron Lacey
Elder Vampire Bride.............Cynthia Alex
Middle Vampire Bride.........Leslie Drescher
Younger Vampire Bride....Marie-Laurie Dubois
Ship Captain.................James Scheffler
Martha Westenra..............Jeanne Callinan
Henry Westenra.................David Policar
Lucy Westenra...................Marty Seeger
Mina Murray.....................Kerri Babish
Sarah........................Gilly Rosenthal
Arthur Holmwood.................Andrew Hicks
Dr. Peter Seward.............Thomas Champion
Prof. Abraham van Helsing.....Charles Hughes
Miss Renfield................Jamianna Devlin
Servants
Laurie Brackett, Danielle Brennan
Nell Farrington, Santiago Riva

Sometimes just the fact that theater is live is enough. Some Community Theater groups have no intentons beyond saying the lines, being someone else, and etertaining friends and neighbors and family in the result. Such theater can be addictive and keep people active for years. Rather than trying to out-perform movies or television or Broadway, there's a compact in such theatres it which the moment on stage is its own reward.

I got lost looking for this play, barged in halfway through the first half, but marvelled at the enthusiasm of cast and audience --- most of whom have enjoyed theater together for years --- for this familiar classic brought to life again. The proof of the show I can only sum up in one of my cliches:
You can tell a production's a success when no on wants to go home after!

"Dracula" (12 - 27 February)
THEATRE @ FIRST
@ The Elizabeth Peabody House, 277 Broadway, SOMERVILLE MA
1(888)874-7554

"Blood Wedding"

by Federico Garcia Lorca
Translated and Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Music Composition by Dean W. Russell, Edward Young
Costume Design by Frances Nelson McSherry
Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg
Assistant to The Lighting Designer Juliana Beecher
Technical Director Matthew Breton
Assistant Technical Director Lucas Garrity
Scenic Design by Justin Townsens
Prop Master Jacqueline Ferrante
Master Electrician Kevin Davis
Assistant Master Electrician Christina Malanga
Light Board Operator Nik Heleen
Costume Run Crew Natalie Blizniak, Lauren Maggio, Heather Oshinsky
Paint Charge Anita Shriver

Producer Janet Bobcean
Associate Producer Justin Townsend
Assistant Stage Manager Marlee Delia
Assistant Stage Celeste Littman
Stage Manager Vivian Yee

The Bride.........................Kate Downey
Her Father.....................Daniel Belford
The Bridegroom.....................Ian Harris
His Mothe.....................Mali MacConnell
Leonardo.......................Paul Dranginis
His Wife....................Rachael MacAskill
His Mother-in-Law...Anna Elizabeth Westendorf
Moon........................Michael Underhill
Death....................Joseph Paul Frangieh
Neighbor.......................Tsyeba Johnson
Maid...........................Julie Mercurio
Girl...........................Hayley Perkins
Girl........................Desiree Fernandes
Villager...................Aaron Rivera-Davis
Villager......................Dean W. Russell
Villager.........................Edward Young

I once asked Harry M. Ritchie, at Tufts, what he expected his theater-students to learn about acting from the productions they did on campus, and he said Nothing. They got all they needed from classes in acting, he said, and then drive and determination and talent was what would take them further. He said he did plays not for theater students, but to show the rest of the student-body what live theater was.

This production, I think, intended to give performer and spectator a glimpse of what theater meant to Spain's most illustrious modern poet. Flamenco-style guitar and background-music and a feeling almost of ritual instead of reality were directly involved. A dialogue between a sumptuous figure of The Moon and a scruffily implacable figure of Death contrasted sharply with the farmer families who wore shoes only for formal occasions like a wedding. Earthy jokes contrasted with the oppressions of fate, love warred with duty, and young bodies paid the price. Reach of course outdistanced grasp --- theater is often the art of the possible --- but the power of the poet was, to all, obvious.

"Blood Wedding" (11 - 14 February)
NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE
@ Studio Theatre, Curry Student Center, 360 Huntington Avenue, BOSTON MA
1(617)373-4700

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |