4 These Were Two Weeks That Were, 9 - 13 November '05"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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This Was
The Week
That Was

9 - 14 November '05

Covered
10 nov MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Shakespeare Now! TOWER AUDITORIUM 115
11 nov MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG Vokes Players 116
12 nov [ REBELS 1775 @ NEW ENGLAND THEATER CONFERENCE ]
12 nov [ NEW ENGLAND THEATRE CONFERENCE Award Ceremony ]

13 November:
This has been a week of Missing Plays!
I promised Joe Antoun personally that I'd visit the Monday night Cabaret of new songs BOSTON SINGS BOSTON that CentaStage does every year --- then I caught a cold and couldn't.
I've now missed seeing The New Rep's TRUE WEST not once but Twice, and I was so slow deciding when to see the newest SLAMboston series of shorts that Another Country does at The Devanaughn that my only open date got Sold Out! Then, today, I literally slept through the matinee of COLLECTED STORIES at The Theatre Cooperative. (I have plugged it in for the 19th; I'm eager to see Tracy Chapman act again!)
I really hate to disappoint people who have gone to the trouble of inviting me, personally, even when flair-ups of my Writing Block mean I can't always guarantree a review. But it's also a disappointment to ME to miss a show, and missing so many is a double-downer. My apologies to everyone.....

10 nov MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Shakespeare Now! TOWER AUDITORIUM 115

Every time SHAKESPEARE NOW! dusts off "Midsummer" it's completely new.
Their shows are done for a auditorium full of school-kids bussed in from several different places, and are keyed to English classes --- those intentions, plus a tight ensemble most of whom play many roles and a tight budget and portability of shows and sets all dictate emphases in what nevertheless result in interesting productions of the high-school canon.
This production emphasized the poetry, with characters at several points delivering rather long monologues directly to the audience. Between them, the cast --- particularly Rocky Graziano as Puck/Philostrate --- was lively, bouncy, energetic enough to wake up a largely indifferent crowd of kids. A trio of girls behind me whispered semi-audibly through the entire show; a boy to my right in the row ahead literally spent toe whole morning playing games on a hand-set under the coat thrown over his head. Only an occasional passionate kiss on-stage or the cross-dressing of "Thisby" woke the crowd to participatory whistles.
I'm sure there were rapt, respectful students enjoying the show, but those few, those happy few, in no sense repaid Director Daniel Gidron, Producer Linda Lowy, nor the cast for all their work.

11 nov MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG Vokes Players 116

Every new production of this nearly Mythic musical Is NEW!
This was a revised and somewhat re-written (and certainly Pruned) version of the show used in the last Broadway revival. The title song, in variations, served as "transitions" between periods, as the plot ran backwards from 1976 to '57. Director Russell R. Greene and makeup-master Jack Wickwire saw to it that Peter Adams and Donnie Baillargeon and Peri Chouteau looked and acted younger every step of the way as the music/lyrics team of Franklin Shepard & Charley Kringas and writer Mary Flynn --- the trio whose story this is. And I really liked the integrity with which the acting of the lines demonstrated the age-changes.
Peter Adams got positively boyish as the play unfolded, and underlined the fact that Frank "always says yes when he should say no" --- the bottom-line flaw and message that his central character lives. It is essentially his story --- a tragedy of manners --- with everyone else circling this charismatic, over-successful music-maker through too many marriages and affairs, too many easy crowd-pleasers, too much easy money.
As Frank's two pals, Baillargeon and Chouteau fade from his life as their attempts to get him to do Significant rather than merely Successful work fail again and again. Their major breakup-scenes here were spectacular. They come, I realized this time out, because their working with Frank is, for their lives, a waste of Their talents as much as His.
The larger circle of Frank's life included Tara Faulkner and Tracy Nygard playing his two very different wives, David Berti as his first producer --- there isn't space here to explain why each one was indeed the star of this show while on stage. But that was true of Everyone on that stage. Greene had a "chorus" full of people, most of them rushing in and out of costumes and wigs to fill several background-parts, whose faces were familiar from plays I saw them starring in. That old cliche about "no small parts" came true in this show because even a one-line walk-on, in the hands of these actors, shone.
But for this particular play, I am not the best Mirror to reflect it properly. I saw it first in a very long production which emphasized George Furth's Book as much as Sondheim's Music & Lyrics, and though every time I've seen it since I've gotten home before 1 a m, I always expect that long version. And I think the only way I'll ever get it is if someone turns this very cinematic story into a movie.
But that's just me...

12 nov [ NEW ENGLAND THEATRE CONFERENCE Award Ceremony ]

Friday evening, Lee Vander Laan and I were honored with a Award citing The Theater Mirror " ... for outstanding achievement in the American theatre."
I have put the lovely apple-green transparent plastic trophy saying that on that top-shelf of my book-case on which I have enshrined my collection of Shakespeare's 40 Signet Classics volumes. It will forever remind me of a delight-filled day at the New England Theater Conference talking with people who really love theater.

I was there for only half the day --- one of Four filled with workshops and discussions and performances hardly any of which I could participate in.

2005 NETC Major Award Honorees -
Ms Betsy Palmer, star of theatre, film and television.
Keith Johnstone, inventor of Theatresports, Micetro Impro, etc.
Laurence Maslon, co-author of "Broadway: The American Musical".

2005 NETC Regional Award Honorees:
SHEAR MADNESS, Boston MA
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE, Beverly, MA
SPEAKEASY STAGE COMPANY, Boston, MA
STANDING ROOM ONLY, WERS, Emerson College, Boston,
LARRY STARK -THEATER MIRROR

Early in the afternoon, Jon Kimbell of NSMT threw away a prepared "keynote speech" and simply said the sooth about theater's unique ability to reach the heads and hearts of human beings, and the necessity for theater-lovers to explain to everyone why The Arts and in particular This Art should be encouraged, supported, and rewarded. Since it was ex tempore, I really hope Someone recorded that talk.

I actually read a talk about "The Art of Writing [And Reading] Reviews" to a small collection of old friends, who then opened a lively exchange of thoughts and ideas about "the critic biz" as they saw it. I don't think anyone there heard anything new or illuminating in my talk, but their talk-back was the real meat of the meeting. Thank you all!

12 nov [ REBELS 1775 @ NEW ENGLAND THEATER CONFERENCE ]

For me the day started with a reading of "Rebels 1775" --- a musical take on the American Revolution. The presentation was considerably condensed, but the plot involved a Colonial ship-master and smuggler drawn into the maelstrom that was Boston between the Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker's Hill. The creators are hoping for a production in the area, and what I heard of the songs and summation of the book convinced me they do deserve one.

ASIDE:
At the Vokes Theatre I luckily ran into Joan Tolentino Dunton, whom I first met when she stepped into the role of Anitra in "Peer Gynt". That was only the second production on the Loeb Drama Center mainstage, when I was just beginning my "career" as an unpaid stagehand and theater enthusiast. She and her husband David Dunton followed their talent to New York and California, and now back in Cambridge Joanie was seeing the show with her daughter, who is also an occasional actress.
Seeing her unleashed a flood of fond memories --- particularly because she seems to have changed not a whit since her days with Joe Everingham's MIT Dramashop (I will never forget her Dolly Levi in THE MATCHMAKER!) and Spingold and other stages still shining in my late-middle-youth. She mentioned interest in auditioning and I hope to see her on stage again. Break a leg Joanie!!!!

Love,
===Anon.

This is, to date, a preview of
WHERE WILL LARRY BE?

15 nov [ Meet my Doctor; schedule Knee Surgery ]
16 nov MIT Student Center STAR WARS TRILOGY MIT Musical Theatre
17 nov Hovey Players PRELUDE TO A KISS
18 nov [ Farewell Party for Teri Wilkinson ]
19 nov Theatre Cooperative COLLECTED STORIES
20 nov Roxbury Community College STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
27 nov Lyric Stage of Boston Inc. CROWNS
2 dec Cambridge Y Family Theatre ARCADIA The Longwood Players
3 dec B U Dance Theatre THE EGO SHOW Nicole Pierce & EgoArt Inc.
4 dec Devanaughn A DOLL'S HOUSE
9 dec Calderwood BCA - PROMISES, PROMISES Animus Ensemble
22 dec

Break a leg in any case......
Break a leg ALL!
Love,
===Anon.


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |