Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Weekend Wonders"
"What Happened in Boston, Willie"
Reviews of Current Productions
note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Beverly Creasey
Reviews by Beverly Creasey
How often do you have a weekend full of theater—and every one of the shows delivers? This weekend was a total treat. From Hovey Players’ satisfying DOUBT to Apollinaire Theatre’s cheeky MAMMALS to Turtle Lane’s rousing RENT, the performances were first rate.
BY THE WAY, YOU ONLY PAY A BIT MORE THAN THE PRICE OF A MOVIE TICKET at some of these theaters. You may have to go out of your way, but it’s worth the extra mileage.
Hovey’s Waltham space has the advantage of being a super small house where every seat (and the seats are new!) is close enough to catch a raised eyebrow---and scary Sister Aloysius (the remarkable Christine Connor) manages to raise a few. Connor is the indomitable nun on a mission to rid her school of the popular Father Flynn (Kendall Hodder in a canny performance) in John Patrick Shanley’s DOUBT, A PARABLE (playing through May 29th).
Jennifer Shea is lovely as the compassionate Sister James and Dyan L. Madrey makes the confrontation scene with Sister Aloysius crackle. Director Nancy Curran Willis gets formidable performances all around, making this DOUBT a certain hit.
The Apollinaire Theatre Company in Chelsea has a reputation for finding smart, contemporary plays and MAMMALS (playing through this weekend only) hits its mark, thanks to director Danielle Fauteux Jacques’ edgy approach to the material. This hip cautionary tale transcends a soap opera plot to become a searing portrait of stressed out British thirtysomethings “at the mercy of [their] hormones.” Jacques gets spot on performances from Becca A. Lewis and James Bocock as unfulfilled parents of two precocious little girls (Lorna Nogueira and Alison Meirowitz). Ted Batch and Maria Schaedler-Luera create sparks as the couple’s sparring friends. Playwright Amelia Bullmore couldn’t have a better production, even across the pond.
The first time I saw RENT, the music was so loud I couldn’t make out any of Jonathan Larson’s clever lyrics, let alone follow the plot (and I really wanted to, being a fan of the Puccini opera it’s based on). Turtle Lane Playhouse’s RENT (playing in Newton through June 6th) is decidedly not that visceral headbanger. You can savor the rock ‘n roll but you can hear every word in director James Tallach’s version. Now you can follow the story (and if you love La Boheme, you’ll be amused by the departures, some of which are quite bizarre) which has the modern day bohemians on drugs, on the street and living with AIDS.
The sweetest scene in La Boheme arrives in tact in RENT as the future lovers meet when Mimi’s candle has gone out and the two introduce themselves. Samantha Brior Jones and Michael Foley make a sexy couple but this Mimi is anything but demure. Poured into Kimmerie Jones and Richard Itzack’s skintight, golden silk pants, tall boots and black bustier, Mimi kicks her long legs over her head and slides into an erotic split (choreographed by Donald Gregorio). And she can sing!
The lovers are surrounded by Eric Desnoyers as the amusing narrator/roommate and his ex, the dynamo Melissa Gates and her new beau who’s a belle (Nella Nupier) not to mention James Casey and Chris Casello as another couple in need of love and shelter. Crisis is provided by Bill Toll as the unscrupulous landlord who’s going to make “the slackers” homeless. Casey and Casello have the beautiful “I’ll Cover You” and the entire cast (with soloists Kira Cowan and Jared Walsh) bring home Larson’s gorgeous anthem, “Seasons of Love.”
"Rent" (14 May - 6 June)
TURTLE LANE PLAYHOUSE
@ 283 Melrose Street, NEWTON MA
"Mammals" (16 April - 16 May)
APOLLINAIRE THEATRE COMPANY
@ Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Street, CHELSEA MA
"Doubt" (14 - 29 May)
THE HOVEY PLAYERS
@ Abbott Memorial Theater, 9 Spring Street, WALTHAM MA