` Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Quick Takes"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Snap Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1999 - 2007 by the authors


brief notes from our readers


"Keely & Du"
No more at The Moment

* Also see REVIEWS

Reviewed in REVIEWS

"Stones in His Pockets" *
"Adrift in Macao" 2
"The King And I" 2
"La Cage Aux Folles"
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

* Also reviewed here in QUICK TAKES

Date: Sat, 08 Mar 2008 11:15:11 -0800
From: Jim Wagner jrwagner@rcn.com
Subject: 'Quick Take' of Hovey drama

Quick Take: Review by Jim Wagner

KEELY AND DU, by Jane Martin
Performances through March 15
Presented by Hovey Players, Waltham MA
Directed by Bill Doscher
Co-Producers: Jessie Olson & Kristin Hughes
Stage Manager: Mark Sickler
Cast: Philana Gnatowski, Ann Carpenter, Larry Lickteig, Robin Gabrielli

The judges who award outstanding performances around Boston need to get to Waltham by March 15 to see the Hovey Players' production of KEELY AND DU by Jane Martin. This drama with four actors is directed by Bill Doscher. Keely (Philana Gnatowski), a young woman pregnant by rape, is held captive by a militant anti-abortion cadre insistent that she deliver (and love) the fetus Keely is determined to abort. Du (Ann Carpenter), the group's grandmotherly nurse, is assigned to care for Keely in a locked basement for several months. The play is about their changing relationship, and both actresses hold the stage firmly the entire drama. Walter (Larry Lickteig), the zealous minister who leads the anti-abortionists, frequently visits Keely's prison to persuade her to follow their plan. They even bring in repentant rapist Cole (Robin Gabrielli), Keely's alcoholic ex-husband, who begs forgiveness.

These four actors are terrific, especially young Philana Gnatowski and stage veteran Ann Carpenter in their demanding, leading roles. Larry Lickteig and Robin Gabrielli make their unsympathetic characters fully understandable. All are convincing. In a program note Bill Doscher, whose directing awards include musical shows, thanks the Hovey Players for letting him do "serious stuff." Audiences and judges should be grateful as well.


Mathew Todd’s cheeky BLOWING WHISTLES (at Zeitgeist Stage through Feb 9th) starts off like a lightweight British sitcom. Picture, if you can, an even-more-gay-than-it-already-is ARE YOU BEING SERVED. Then something sweet happens. The titillating laughter gives way to some lovely sentiment as a sincere banker bloke and his less than honest lover celebrate their 10th anniversary.

The lover (a buff Christopher Michael Brophy) thinks he’s God’s gift. He’s the kind of guy who thinks a boy toy is an appropriate anniversary present. Brian Quint gives a heartbreaking performance as the banker who tries to please everyone, even at his own expense. Director Thomas Garvey mines some earnest emotion from the over the top script and classy performances from Quint and Joey Pelletier as the confused teenager who comes wrapped or should I say ‘unwrapped’ as a gift.

Irish Gig
By Beverly Creasey

Marie Jones’ STONES IN HIS POCKETS (at Hovey Players through next weekend) is a vigorous workout for two actors. The duo gets to play over a dozen roles in this peculiar little comedy of bad movie manners. The premise brings an American film company to Ireland to shoot some local color and everyone in town wants in.

There’s an old coot whose claim to fame is that he’s the last surviving extra from John Wayne’s THE QUIET MAN. There’s the kid who abuses drugs to escape his dashed dreams and it wouldn’t be a Hollywood movie without a pompous director and a frazzled assistant, not to mention a haughty starlet who just can’t, for the life of her, master an Irish accent. Our entrée into this strange world of close-ups and wide shots filled with “downtrodden peasants” are two regular blokes, happy to be extras.

Often an actor in STONES will find himself playing a scene with himself as another character, so keeping each one distinct is of paramount importance. Director Leigh Berry’s cast does a good job of making each character unique and the brogues are surprisingly easy to understand (which sometimes isn’t the case with native Irish speakers). Bill Stambaugh and Michael Sean Corbett run a good race, transitioning smoothly from silly to sober and back again.

Coup de Theatre at North Shore Music Theatre
By Beverly Creasey

The NSMT’s LES MISERABLES is a must see and here’s why. No more dark, gloomy Broadway set. The brooding, plodding direction of the original production has been replaced with a clarity and vitality which infuses the show with freshness and excitement. NSMT plays their shows in the round and here’s the delightful paradox: The much ballyhooed circular staging (Think FORBIDDEN BROADWAY) that we’ve come to expect in LES MIZ is gone! Director and choreographer (and soon to be NSMT’s Artistic Director/Producer) Barry Ivan makes the action soar—and not once are you conscious of the sightlines. Now you’re conscious of the through line, and Victor Hugo’s sweeping story.

If all you remember about the novel is Jean Valjean’s imprisonment for stealing bread---and his escape through the Paris sewers---you’ll be enthralled by the heroics of Fred Inkley’s Valjean. He brings a strength of character to the role that few actors do. Devin Richards, too, makes an indelible mark as Javert, the policeman who dogs Valjean through the years. See it, as well, for Ron Wisniski as Thenardier, the scurrilous landlord who looks like he stepped out of a scathing Daumier caricature. Every aspect of the show makes a political impact. The French Revolution is only a memory to the students who arm the barricades in LES MIZ but the cause is the same. The poor are no better off--- and Ivan and company make you keenly aware of the stakes.

Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2007 20:29:51 -0400 From: "Renee Miller" reneepmiller@hotmail.com
Subject: The Kentucky Cycle

Hi Larry,
I went to see part I of the Kentucky cycle yesterday and was surprised that I didn't see you there; we seem to be hitting lots of shows at the same time. This is by far the best theatre I have seen in Boston in a long time. The action of the show was so well paced and riveting that I hardly noticed the time. I wasn't able to stay for the evening of part II but plan to go next weekend. I am urging everyone to get to see this amazing event.
Renee Miller

From: Kay Bourne
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 10:30:55 EDT
Subject: Re: Miss Saigon
To: SWhiteJB@aol.com @ COMPANY THEATRE

by all means put me on the reviewers' list - you are doing fantastic work at the Company Theater - I felt so good about the state of theater to see so many enthusiastic people in the audience - and you have a wonderful mix of actors on the stage. I loved seeing the orchestra play - that is a unique aspect to your production as well. Congratulations all around.
Kay Bourne

Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 19:08:30 -0400
From: dcreasey dcreasey@bu.edu
Broadway Tap Fest
By Beverly Creasey
I can’t think of a more exciting opening to a musical. The curtain slowly rises and we see---and hear---the thunder of a hundred pounding feet. Then it lifts up to fully reveal the fifty tapping choristers of that glorious old chestnut, 42nd STREET (playing through next weekend only). The Reagle Players have staged the Harry Warren/Al Dubin musical before, but this time the spectacular Gower Champion choreography (recreated by Eileen Grace and Susan Chebookjian) practically lifts the roof off the Waltham theater space.

Sure, there’s the sweet story of the little girl from Allentown (Jessica Greeley) who steps out of the chorus and into the lead. There’s the handsome producer (John Anthony) who famously says “You’re going out there a youngster, but you have to come back a star.” But the big reason to see the Reagle production is the dancing: The New York City tapestry ballet—“where the underworld can meet the elite” on “bawdy, naughty, gawdy, sporty 42nd Street”---will lift you right out of your seat and send you tapping your way happily home.

Kudos, too, to Suellen Estey as the haughty star who breaks her leg and can’t go on. Her tough break, of course, leads to a lucky break for “Allentown.” You’ll remember that life has imitated art a couple of times. That’s how Shirley McLaine and Catherine Zeta-Jones, both got their starts.

It’s not often you get to see a huge-scale musical with all the bells and whistles. Reagle knows how to pull out all the stops and director Eileen Grace knows how to turn up the heat.

Date: Sat, 04 Aug 2007 17:07:46 -0400
From: dcreasey dcreasey@bu.edu
Subject: Mr. Marmelade review
Quick Take Review
By Beverly Creasey

Any psychologist will tell you that a child’s play mimics the adult behavior (s)he experiences---so a “naughty” dolly might get a “time out” or maybe even a spanking, in some households. Playwright Noah Haidle drags this imaginative play toward the dark side in his creepy tale of latchkey kids called MR. MARMELADE (playing through Aug. 11th at the Boston Center for the Arts).

John Kuntz gives a downright scary performance as the sadistic, manipulative imaginary friend of an adorable, pigtailed four year old, portrayed in glorious, melt-in-your-mouth naiveté by Rachel Hunt. The Company One production, directed by Shawn LaCount, makes the sometimes hilarious, sometimes shocking material jump right off the stage. (Scene cards, like old silent movie exposition, even warn us that some of the action will be hard to take, for the squeamish.)

This dark comedy, nevertheless, has its bright side, in the pint-sized personage of a disturbed five year old, brilliantly played by Greg Maraio. He befriends the lonely little girl with an imagination as bizarre as his and together they keep evil at bay.

Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 12:37:58 -0400 From: "Erin Griffiths" egriff1978@gmail.com
Subject: quick take on "Mr. Marmalade"

I don't normally have the urge to write about shows I've seen (and i see alot) but after last night's performance of Company One's Mr. Marmalade, I couldn't resist.

All I can say is this is one of the funniest, smartest, and most interesting plays I've seen in a long time. Not only was it bitingly funny, but it had me thinking about just about everything well after the show was over.

The production itself was flawless and the cast was to die for. John Kuntz was in top form as always and it was a delight to see him as the smarmy and charming Mr. Marmalade. But the play belonged to Rachael Hunt as Lucy and Greg Maraio as Larry. It's always a minefield when an adult plays a child, and these two not only pulled it off but made me forget I was watching adult at all. Hunt, who spends the entire show onstage was simply mesmerizing to watch, the absolute heart of the play. As for Greg Maraio's adorable Larry, all I can say is that his performance was the funniest I've seen all year (or longer). Hilarious and touching, he stole every scene he was in.

Strong performances all around from the supporting cast Daniel Berger-Jones, Amanda Good- Hennesey, Mark Vanderzee, Danny Balel, and Tory Bullock.

Go see this play! Its not for children due to a lot of the racy subject matter, but if you are over 18, you're sure to have a good laugh, and it doesn't hurt if your sense of humor is on the darker side
Erin Griffiths

Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 20:29:13 +0000
Subject: RE: FW: Mr. Marmalade

Company One's Mr. Marmalade opened this past weekend at the BCA Plaza Theatre and I have a brief recommendation:

I saw it on opening night and it was polished and ready and absolutely hilarious. I feel like I need to see it again because we were all laughing so hard I missed some lines. I can pretty much guarantee that you'll enjoy it (unless you're offended easily, in which case: stay home).

Company One is taking a big step, hiring their first equity performer: local legend John Kuntz! John is fantastic as always and it's a fabulous cast all around, but to my mind the real standout is Greg Maraio as Larry. His physicality is so perfect that he didn't have to say a word to have me rolling in the aisles.

This is a high-energy summer play by a hot, young playwright, so bring some friends for the fun! The show deserves to be a big hit - kudos to Company One. (But please - no kids!!)

Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007
From: Larry Stark larry@theatermirror.com
Subject: The Complete Works of Wilm Shaxpy (ABRIDGED)

The Makeshift Theatre Co, has been doing theater for younger audiences, at ghodawful hours of the pre-dawn like 10 A M for a while, but until 15 July they'll be on the Durrell Stage at the Cambridge YMCA doing Everything Shakespeare wrote in a little over an hour, with lengthy asides and a Dramatic Intermission --- and all for a mere $15. The three guys in sneakers are Larry Leggett, Jonathan Overby, and Artistic Director Andrew Rhodes, and their high-energy high-jinks is quick, broad and subtle by turns, and a laugh riot. They are masters of a sort of sidelong glance and dying voice that implies Something Is Screwed Up Here, they throw themselves about the stage like dimented things (whether doing Ophelia or Juliet or Desdemona --- the shriek's the same), and they at least Mention 36 plays.
Well, Thirty SEVEN, actually, though Larry Leggett has this Thing about "Hamlet" that....
Ooop! NoNoNo, I'll be as mysterious about that as they are about some "Schottish Play" they want to do as a Step-Dancing Musical. (That is a lie, but so is a lot of this fun show. It's funny for everyone, but the more you know about Shagsberd, the funnier it gets.) And what d'ya expect for only Fifteen Bucks, huh? Check 'em out!
===Anon. /H4>

Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 09:44:48 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
From: Caroline Ellis clbellis@earthlink.net
Subject: short take

I paid another visit to the improv comedy concert featuring a local band called Jim's Big Ego. My first review praised the concept, the band, and the audience participants, but criticized the performer who interpreted how the songs answered audience members' questions. See http://www.theatermirror.com/CBEte&tojtob.htm

Since then, the show has been polished, and there is a new "interpreter" -- a "medium" called Jenny G (Jenny Gutbezahl). Jenny G makes all the difference. She is completely comfortable with improv and has a rapid-reaction comic sense. She also gave an improved explantion about just what this offbeat entertainment aims to do.

The show is a clever vehicle for the band because you have to listen carefully to the lyrics if you want to know how they "answer" the audience questions, and the lyrics are a particular strength of Jim's Big Ego.

Although the show is temporarily closed, it will reopen at Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway Theater in Davis Square, Somerville, in July and may also run in August. A packed audience on June 17 got a big kick out of it, and I can now recommend warmly it for an evening of kooky fun. For more information, see http://www.theegoandtheoracle.com.

Caroline Burlingham Ellis

Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2007 15:04:50 -0400
From: "Garrido-Castillo, Pedro Jose,Ph.D." PGARRIDOCASTILLO@PARTNERS.ORG
Subject: FW: must-see play

there is a new play in town that i highly recommend: THE TRIAL OF ONE SHORT SIGHTED BLACK WOMAN VS. MAMMY LOUISE AND SAFREETA MAE. written by karani marcia leslie, it is the inaugural production of the roxbury crossroads theatre (www.Roxburycrossroadstheatre.com). although it is billed as "a comedic courtroom drama that centers on the efforts of a successful black woman to sue two stereotypes of american black women", it is indeed more than that. it is, really, a scholarly, honest, and profoundly moving exploration of the legacy of slavery, african-american identity, and the perennial problem of the "color line" (as w.e.b. dubois termed it) in this country. it has very funny as well as very sad moments; its characters are richly developed. from writer to producer to director to actors, everyone gives his/her soul to this production.

reviewers have called it "a wickedly funny, thoughtfully provocative play, often funny but also deeply serious" and "a lightly rolllicking vehicle of wit, humor and history."

although i am not a frequent theatre goer, i have seen my share of plays over the years. i can tell you, without exaggeration, that this play moved me in ways that i had never been moved by a work of art, dramatic or otherwise. based on the reaction of very enthusiastic and appreciative fellow audience members, i don't think my reaction was atypical.

last but not least, as a bonus, you will get to see our own talaya freeman displaying her great thespian gifts in a magisterial role.

the venue is the boston center for the arts plaza theatre, 539 tremont st., in the south end. it will run through 6/10/07.
please do your soul a favor and go see this play.

"Hillary & Monica"
"The Trial of One Short Sighted Black Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae"
Quick-Takes from Larry Stark

I have only a few minutes before going to be "ROASTed", and I have had a devastating Cold for ten debilitating days now, so I think I'll go, after tonight's show, to the Beth Israel Emergency Room to find out just what is wrong with me.
But these two plays, seen back-to-back last week-end, are beautifully written and acted and, yes, Surrealistic and in-your-face attacks on current affairs. The one with the longest title is at the BCA; the other is at Gloucester Stage Company --- and both must be seen to be believed.

"The Trial" puts not people, but IMAGES on trial --- noting the persistence of the "Aunt Jemima figure" and the younger, sexier Black prostitute as stereotypes. The suit is brought by a young and more-or-less upwardly-mobile Black woman in a business power-suit (Kortney Adams), who complains that the jokes of her peers at her expense are based on these demeaning character-studies in old movies. Since there is really no courtroom, the prosecutor (Valerie Lee) and defender (Marvelyn McFarlane) can summon any witnesses they want, real or imaginary, and get The WHOLE Truth from them. And it turns out that hardly Any of these witnesses (including Jeff Gill's hard-shelled slave-owner) is willing to Step Down after testimony ends. The judge (Talaya Freeman) is quite capricious in sustaining or denying objections, and her search for the Whole Truth changes several of the characters' minds about a lot of things. And that could be true of you in the audience as well.
This is a toe-to-toe battle about truths and mythologies, well worth everyone's attention. It is brilliantly directed by Jacqui Parker, written by Karani M. Leslie, and produced by Ed Bullins' new Roxbury Crossroads Theatre --- in their first full-length production.

Out in Gloucester, it's Heidi Dallin and Jacqueline Kristel playing two famous women; their fictitious collision supposedly takes place before Bill Clinton's dalliance became public. Yvette Heyliger, who not only wrote but directed this production, barges across genres from farce to stand-up to high drama to politiical gossip, with quips and malapropisms popping off in all directions. The scene here is a small display-room showing the table-crockery chosen by every First Lady --- some of which come close to turning out Intercontinental Ballistic Weapons as the conflicts escalate.

I can't remember how many (dozen?) times Mrs. Clinton hollered "Ah no, Little Girl, you're not sneeking out through that door yet!" at Lewinsky's guilty back, and Monica's stumbles ("I was gong to meet him in the Oral Office") and ignorance ("Woodward and Bernstein? Who are they?") are in serious need of editing. But these are both actresses of solid talent and experiences going at each other non-stop and no-quarter, drawing blood early and often.

Jeff Pierce makes a buzz-word/cliche walk-on as Bill Clinton, as well as another as a Secret Service Agent, and Vanessa Shaw plays a smarmy Betty Currie --- and both of them rush into other costumes as Woman Three, Man One --- but these turn out to be nearly irrelevent to the Title Bout that used both of them, but never ceases.

It's important to remember that, no matter what your politics, your memories of this national crisis, nor your interest in next year's presidential election, you will be surprised (repeatedly) by the playwright's store of detail, and her ability to make two shouting national icons into decidedly, passionately, believably human beings. I don't think I've ever watched two actresses work harder, or succeed more brilliantly.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Present Laughter" by Noel Coward
Date: Thur, May 24, 9:27 AM

     The Huntington Theatre Company's final production of their 25th season is an excellent example of what this firmly middle-brow theatre does best. Played on a sumptuous Art Deco inspired set by Alexander Dodge, with costumes by another longtime Huntington designer, Mariann Verhegen, the show has a Broadway flair. The casting is strong in most cases with a smattering of locals, Nancy E. Carroll as the Swedish maid, Alice Duffy as a matronly Lady Saltburn, and Richard Snee as Henry Lypiatt, whose wife is pursuing the leading man. That part is taken by Tony nominee Victor Garber, whose more or less convincing as fading West End star, Garry Essendine, if somewhat tame.
     The women are occasionally problematic. Sarah Hudnut, seen last fall in "The Cherry Orchard" doesn't come across as old enough to be Garry's private secretary. Lisa Barnes is sufficient as Garry's former wife Liz and Holly Fain is a good basic ingenue. As Joanna Lypiatt's Pamela J. Gray's motivations are somewhat unclear. Both Mark Victor and Brooks Ashmanskas seem to equate volume with emotion, to which Ashmanskas adds a level of physical comedy which doesn't suit the show. James Joseph O'Nell makes the most of the Cockney butler
     But a good time is had by all. "Present Laughter" sometimes feels like the third act of "Design for Living" writ large and with no agenda. HTC is doing a relatively complete script of this three act "Bon Voyage" which was written on the eve of WWII, with its opening delayed until 1942 after Coward his duties to Britain's propaganda efforts. It toured along with "This Happy Breed" and was joined in the canon by another evergreen, "Blithe Spirit." The size of its cast has kept it mostly to the community stage, so HTC's production is probably the best chance to see a first-rate production of Coward and his arch witticisms.
"Present Laughter" by Noel Coward, May 18 - June 17
Huntington Theatre Company at B.U. Theatre 264 Huntington Ave., (617) 266 - 0800-???? HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Dog Sees God" by Bert V. Royal
Date: Mon., May 21, 11:40 PM
Quicktake on DOG SEES GOD

     A suburban company of young actors from the South Shore, the Gurnet Theatre Project, has produced interesting several shows in the last three years. This time, for a brief run at the BCA, they've moved closer to the Fringe with a production on Bert V. Royal's "Dog Sees God; Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" which brings the Peanuts gang into high school. CB, played by Jonathan Orsini, is still the same lost soul, his sister Sally, played by Gillian Mackay-Smith, is trying to find herself--this week she's a Wiccan, Linus, played by Foster Johns, is now a stoner. You get the idea. The script has seems to have been generated at least partially from improvisation by its original cast of young NY TV actors. The original production won an award at the 2004 NY International Fringe Festival.
     Director Brian C. Fahey pulls the show's rambling scenes together and the result is a show with some of the heart of the original. It could use some editing however. The only actor seen much around town is busy Jonathan Popp, who plays Matt. It may take a moment to figure out which of the original characters he is. Lucy, played by Danielle Baumann, is shows up briefly in a rather peculiar situation. Gurnet is running the show one more weekend, but it's liable to turn up on the stages of local liberal highschools, especially those with active GLTS support groups. If you can come in out of the good weather--finally--this weekend, it's worth a shot.
"Dog Sees God" by Bert V. Royal, May 18 - 26
Gurnet Theatre Project at BCA, Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Gurnet

Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 20:10:12 -0400
From: "S______ R______"
Subject: THE MAIDS

Hello Larry,
I wanted to tell you about an incredible theatrical experience that I had on Saturday night in Gloucester.
Not many people know of the performances, the company have been very specific and elusive ?? But I was so blown away that I am compelled to tell all.

I was invited by a close friend of mine to see The Maids, produced by The Contemporary Theatre of Boston, for those of you who might not know...it is an absurdist play by the brilliant French playwright Jean Genet.
CTB from what I hear, is a new? edgy company who want to shake up our rarely shaken Boston Theatre Scene.
And shake they did!

This was no ordinary performance in an ordinary theater, this was 'site specific' and this specific site was a beautiful home in Gloucester.
The audience were greeted at the door and served drinks and food for one hour, pre performance. I LOVED this! There were about thirty guests, or audience members and almost all of them were dressed up in period clothing, or just dressed up!
I recognized some Gloucester Stage veterans and some South End artists. A truly eclectic group.

After about an hour of lovely drinks and munchies and period music from the 40's, we are ushered into a gorgeous room which for all intents and purposes is the living room of the "Madame" in which the story is based around.

The playing space and close proximity to the audience at first felt a bit too close, but within minutes we are transported back in time and I even found myself leaning in for some of the more intimate moments. The play itself is dark and I will get to the acting in a moment.

I first want to comment on the amazing level of detail, gothic candelabras, working period phones right down to a beautiful working victrola. Absolutely splendid.

The actresses were good almost bordering on brilliant at times.
British actress and Co- founder of CTB gave a terrific performance as "Madame" Nadia Delemeny gave a very pure absurdist performance and this character suited her wonderfully and her beauty and subtle humor made it even more of a pleasure to watch.
Molly Schreiber's portrayal of Claire was poetic and strong, and the incredible transformation's that she makes through the play actually gave me goose bumps!
Judith Kalora who played Solange ,well to put it plainly...SCARED THE CRAP out of me!!

I have been a patron of the arts and a devoted theater go-er for more years than I can remember, and I have NEVER felt frightened by a stage play, but this actress actually made me flinch and I felt my stomach tighten up in to a ball for the duration of the show! Larry, this was one of the best productions I have ever seen.And I do not say this lightly.

The carefully crafted imagery, the poetry, intensity, etc. were breathtaking. I have seen The Maids in New York several years ago and I can promise you this, Chris Cavalier's vision and direction BLEW ME AWAY!!

SO PLEASE all of you who read this...
contact the CTB and book your tickets as soon as possible.They have been touring for quite a few weeks so not sure how much longer they can go on. I have no idea were they will go next, they do have a website, not easy to find however.

And ACTORS...send your résumé's to this incredible company and lets hope they stay in Boston for a very long time!!
Best Regards,
[S. L.]
PS...If at all possible, please do not publish my email address, I do not have any way to contact the company and do not want to be flooded with questions!
I hope your health is good.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "No Man's Land" by Harold Pinter
Date: Wed, May 16, 11:30 PM
Quicktake on NO MAN'S LAND

     Boston's senior director, David Wheeler, one of the founders of the seminal Theatre Company of Boston, is directing his 14th Pinter production, his third at the ART. Harold Pinter's enigmatic 1975 "No Man's Land", an exploration of the aging poet--among other things--is a dense verbal structure, more lyrical than dramatic. Wheeler has brought back TCB stalwart Paul Benedict for the central role of Hirst, and set him opposite veteran actor Max Wright as Spooner. The two spin improbable histories for themselves in Hirst's palatial sitting room, almost a temple to drink. Two younger men, Hirst's flamboyant son Foster, played by A.R.T./MXAT student Henry David Clarke and the latter's rough companion, Briggs, played by Lewis D. Wheeler take care of the old man and the house. They're more recognizably "Pinteresque."
     In the show's two acts, much is said, little in fully illuminated. It's been suggested that this piece is the author's response to Eliot's "The Waste Land." Bleakness certainly applies, J. Michael Grigg's elegant monumental set emphasizes the fragility of the two old men and their hermetic lives. But ultimately, the author has no conclusion to draw. There's no play there for any of the four. But they do it so well. And perhaps this production signals the return of a favorite Boston actor to our boards.
"No Man's Land" by Harold Pinter, May 12 - June 10
A.R.T at Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St. Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Parade" by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown
Date: Mon, May 14, 11:12 PM
Quicktake on PARADE

     Speakeasy is ending their season with Boston's first professional production of Uhry and Brown's Tony winning "Parade", a large cast music drama based on Uhry's book. He's better remembered for another modern classic, "Driving Miss Daisy." Jason Robert Brown is better known for whose quasi-autobiographical reversed order romance, "The Last Five Years" which Speakeasy also produced plus his revue, "Songs for a New World." Director Paul Daigneault has assembled a impressive cast of 29 musical actors to recount the fate of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory superintendent from Brooklyn, who managed his father-in-law's factory in Atlanta in 1913. He was falsely accused of raping one of his young female employees, sentenced to hang. When the governor commuted this sentence, citing faults with his trial, a mob lynched Frank. The real murderer, presumed in this retelling to be a black janitor who testified against Frank at his trail, was never tried.
     Produced at Lincoln Center by Hal Prince, "Parade" had a disappointing first run, but has since found a place in the ongoing development of American Musical theatre. The principal cast members are two Speakeasy favorites, Brendan McNab, seen in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," as well as last fall's "See What I Wanna See," and Norton winner Bridget Beirne, who played Queenie in their production of La Chieusa's "The Wild Party." Also prominent is Timothy John Smith, recent IRNE winner from Lyric's "1776." as a local reporter who seizes on the case as his chance at fame. Paul D. Farwell plays both the through character of a Confederate veteran, and sickly Judge Roan. Austin Lesch, seen regularly locally and just in from the national tour of "Altar Boys: opens the show as the young confederate soldier, singing "The Old Red Hills of Home," something of a theme for the piece. Edward M. Barker is the rascally janitor. There are also first rate performances from local music theatre regulars. David Krinnit is the suave and unpricipled prosecutor,Dorsey, while Terrence O'Malley is the "dancing governor", Slaton. Gerald Slattery doubles as the local barkeep and Frank's "good old boy" lawyer, Luther Rosser. Tom Watson is a local firebrand preacher and anti-Semite, who joins forces with the prosecution. Speakeasy veteran Kerry A. Dowling, seen this fall in "The Women" is affecting as the victim's mother, Mrs. Phagan.
     The show's design by Eric Levenson is an elegant unit set which efficiently suggests the various locales required. Stacy Stephen's period costumes, including numerous changes, give a real sense of pre-WWI Atlanta, trying to make its way into the 20th century, still very much "olde South." IRNE winner Karen Perlow provides the necessary flexible lighting design. Changes of set pieces and furniture are handled a vista by the ensemble with admirable dispatch. Jose Delgado conducts a an ample pit orchestra with fellow IRNE winner Paul S. Katz at the keyboard. Don't let this "Parade" pass you by.
"Parade" by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown, May 12 - June 16
Speakeasy Stage Co. at Roberts Studio, Calderwood
BCA, 529 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Speakeasy

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie
Date: Sat, May 12, 11:32 PM

     The Stoneham Theatre end its regular season with a revival of Agatha Cristies' classic thriller "And Then There Where None." They've become adept at staging such plays. This time the director is Caitlin Lowans, working on an elegant Art Deco set by Katheryn Monthei from Brandeis with excellent costumery by Rachel Padula-Shufelt. They've assembled an excellent regional cast who form a coherent ensemble as they're bumped off one by one.
    They're Anastasia Barnes as Vera Claythorne, the hostess' social secretary and Robert Najarian, last seen as Eisnstein in URT's "Einstein's Dreams," as Captain Lombard, the romantic leads, more or less. The rest of the victims included Steve Barkhimer, who was Also in "Einstein's Dreams" as Blore, a former copper turned P.I., Stoneham veteran Shelley Bolman as Dr. Armstrong, a nervous neurologist, Gene Fleming as retired General MacKenzie, Colin Kiley as brass speeder Anthony Marsten, director/playwright Jack Neary as Rogers the butler with Eve Passeltiner as his wife, the cook, Stephen Russell up from the Cape as imposing Justice Wargrave, and Ann Marie Shea as disapproving Miss Brent. All strangers to one another, these ten have been invited for the weekend by the Owens, owners of a palatial house which sits alone on an isolated island. They've been delayed, no one in the cast has met them either.
    As the play winds through a labyrinth of character revelations to a multiple surprise ending, the ensemble draws the audience in to their plight over its three acts, afternoon, evening, and the next morn, as they're marooned with nine companions, one of whom is killing them off. Even if you remember who-dunnit, this production is worth the short ride out to Stoneham.
"And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie, May 11 - 27
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham, (782) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Two Rooms" by Lee Blessing
Date: Thurs, May 10, 11:53 PM
Quicktake on TWO ROOMS

     Add one more recently formed company to the active Boston Fringe Theatre scene. Darrren Evans' "Theatre On Fire" is finishing their season over at Charlestown Working Theatre with prolific playwright Lee Blessings' "Two Rooms." This 1980 play centers around the hostage crises in Lebanon, but clearly shows how little the West has learned about the situation in more than 25 years.. Presented with an elegiac air, this full-length work concentrates on the wife of an American University teacher waiting at home near Washington for her husbands release. Jason Beals, seen in Molasses Tank's "Conquest of the South Pole" is the blindfolded hostage. Kate Donnelly, seen in ToF's last project, Jamie Pachino "Race," is his young wife mourning for news. IRNE winner Michelle Dowd is Kate's State Department liaison, clearly unable to do or say much. And Craig Houk gets back into the theatre scene to play a reporter seeking an exclusive to Kate's story.
    Director Evans maintains the relentless pace of impending tragedy, which is a valid interpretation of Blessing's uncomfortable script. Even the impatient will be swept up in its careful development. The set, designed by Prav Menon-Johansson, the office in Kate's house, is indicated by strip curtains and minimal furniture, she's emptied it otherwise. It also functions as the cell. Simple lighting and the director's ominous sound design complete the technical support. Check out Theatre on Fire's next season when it's announced. They're yet another reason to find your way over to CWT, which is only three blacks from the Sullivan Sq. stop on the Orange Line, with sufficient street parking.
"Two Rooms" by Lee Blessing, May 4 - 19
Theatre on Fire at Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Ave. Charlestown, 866 - 811 - 4111 Theatre On Fire

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Arms and the Man" by Bernard Shaw
Date: Sun, May 6, 6:12 PM
Quicktake on ARMS AND THE MAN

     Shaw’s “Arms and the Man.” his first major play has been much produced during the last 100 years. An enduring farce about the excesses of romantic love and patriotism, the play is closing out the Lyric’s season. Director Spiro Veloudous has done the play with a light touch, allowing his excellent cast to shape their stock characters into recognizable human beings. There’s still some fine tuning to do. Barlow Adamson as Bruntschili, the Swiss professional soldier and unlikely hero of the piece needs to play more of the leading man while James Ryen, as Sergius, his apparent rival for the heroine could use even more hauteur, for example.
     As Raina, Sergius’ fiance in love with his dashing romantic image, Ellen Adair plays the ingenue to the hilt, until the final revelations, of course. The role of her mother is another plum part for Bobbie Steinbach, And Ken Baltin’s Major Petkoff, her father, is funny without becoming ridiculous. The family's main servants, Louka, played by Sarah Abrams, and Nikola, the butler, played by Peter Carey, have much more realistic attitudes than their employers—this is of course Shaw. Their place in the finale presages later turnabouts in his plays.
     The whole show is handsomely done on an airy Art Deco inspired set by Cristana Tedesco with appropriate uniforms and Balkan dress by Molly Trainer. John Cuff’s lighting helps keep things light and airy. The production has original music scored and recorded by Jonathan Goldberg. The whole affair reveals how entertaining GBS could be even as he tweaked the nose of the British Empire, which would shortly be bloodied by WW1. Shavians will have a chance to see this master much harder at work this summer, when the Publick Theatre presents “Misalliance” in repertory with “Romeo and Juliet.”
"Arms and the Man" by Bernard Shaw, May 4 - June 2
Lyric Stage at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon, Copely Sq. (617) 585 - 5678 Lyric Stage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Wild Party" by Andrew Lippa
based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
Date: Wed, May 11:59 PM
Quicktake on THE WILD PARTY

     Those with fond memories of Speakeasy's production of Michael John LaChiusa's version of "The Wild Party" a few season's back are liable to be slightly disappointed in Andrew Lippa's approach to the same material. Not the New Rep's current production just could be the sharpest and most energetic small music theatre presentation of the season, but that Lippa's one-man show (book, music, and lyrics) seems something of a pastiche. He's tried to meld the jazz and music theatre sounds of the Roaring '20s with contemporary styles with mixed results. He's also concentrated on four principal characters, leaving the rest of Moncure's menagerie mostly as background. None of the four are particularly well motivated.
     First there's Queenie, the archetypical blonde nightclub dancer, played Marla Mindelle, the center of most of the numbers, bored after three years living with Burrs, a vaudeville clown with a dark side. Burrs gives Todd Alan Johnson, seen as Mac the Knife previously at the New Rep a chance to play full-throttle. The other woman, who shows up for the party is Kate, a nightclub singer and old friend, played by Sarah Corey, who appeared in "Caroline or Change" as Mother, with an agenda to break things up. She's accompanied by Black, played by Maurice E. Parent, seen last season as Coalhouse in "Ragtime." He and Queenie hit it off, Sarah vamps Burrs, and tragedy ensues. But the major motivation behind it all seems to be terminal boredom, not a particularly dramatic emotion.
     The rest of the characters are given somewhat short shrift, though Leigh Barrett as Madeline True, Lesbian, has the show's most memorable number, the solo "An Old Fashioned Love Story." Jake Mosser and Ilyse Robbins as Eddie the Prizefighter and Mae, his diminutive partner, have their own musical hall number, "Two of a Kind" but no plot, and Phil the Broadway producer, played by Brian De Lorenzo, is really just part of the ensemble. Director Rick Lombardo has assembled a fine ensemble and choreographer Kelli Edwards generates a lot of erotic heat from them, with the help of Betsy Adkins and Ilyse Robbins as Dance Captains. One could only wish that all this talent had stronger material to work with, It's a show certainly worth watching, there are effective and challenging musical moments, masterfully handled by music director Todd C. Gordon, but the aftermath isn't a hangover, but rather like a large dinner of Chinese takeout where everyone ordered their favorites, a lot got sampled, but the result wasn't particularly satisfying. The ending is typical. When Queenie, whose world has crashed around her, should be waiting for the cops, she sings a rather moralizing power ballad and exits into the night. End of show.
     The design for "The Wild Party" is uniformly superb with a mirror filled set by IRNE winner Janie E. Howland, spot-on period costumes by IRNE winner Frances Nelson McSherry, and effective contemporary lighting by Franklin Meissner, Jr. Properties by Erik D. Diaz and a number of small movable pieces, notably the brass bed and the bathroom give a sense of Queenie and Burrs' hermetic world. All that's lacking is the author's dramatic focus, despite the best efforts of all involved. Sometimes you can't have everything. Incidentally, the New Rep is adding a summer show this year. Leigh Barrett, Andrew Giordano, and Maryann Zschau are doing "Side by Side by Sondheim" July 7 - 22 on the Arsenal Mainstage. That'll be something.
"The Wild Party" by Andrew Lippa, April 25 - May 20
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St. Watertown MA, (617) 923 - 8487 New Rep

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Flu Season" by Will Eno
Date: Sun, Apr 29, 10:31 PM
Quicktake on THE FLU SEASON

     Whistler in the Dark, which has performed previously at the Charlestown Working Theater--and no doubt will do so again--is currently presenting the Boston premiere of post-modern playwright Will Eno's "The Flu Season." over in Watertown. The Black Box space opened officially last fall with the New Rep's production of Eno's more recent "Thom Pain (based on nothing), a monodrama performed by Diego Arciniegas. Eno's earlier play has a cast of six, two omnipresent as the Prologue and the Epilogue, whose commentary frames the action. Prologue is Ed Hoopman, who recently completed a run as Hamlet for the New Rep's school tour, while the acerbic Epilogue is Jennifer O'Connor, one of Whistler's Artistic Associates and Company Manager of the Imaginary Beasts from Lynn for which she last played a Dromio.
    The storyline concerns the Man, played by Nael Nacer and the Woman, done by Meghan Newsmith. Both are newcomers at a residential mental health facility, where they interact, barely, with the Doctor, done by David LeBahn, and the Nurse, Shelley Brown, two rather superficial professionals. There's an air of autobiography about the situation, which may simply be Eno's way with words and fervid imagination. A somewhat predictable plot takes a little too long to unfurl, but director Ben Fainstein and the cast hold the audience's attention.
     The various locales around the sanitarium are indicated by a few movable pieces of furniture and Andrew Dickey's area lighting. The tragedy of the Woman is largely due to the lack of affect on the part of the Man. No one's past is really much explored; this is very much a play in the present. Whistler in the Dark has previous presented works from the world stage. With this effort by Eno they come to these shores (Brooklyn), but will open next fall with another Howard Barker enigma "A Hard Heart." Before then we may see some local writing at the second "Fever Fest," this time to be presented at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center Aug. 23 - 25. Imaginary Beasts will be doing a show based Lorca's puppet pieces about "Don Cristobal and Sena Rosita," Aug 9 through 18 at the Arsenal Black Box. Both companies are outstanding examples of the new wave of Boston's theatre Fringe. By the way, the title of this piece may refer to the winter season during which the action unfolds. Or it may not. With Will Eno you never know.
"The Flu Season" by Will Eno, Apr. 27 - May 5
Whistler in the Dark at Downstage Black Box, Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St. Watertown MA, (617) 923 - THTR Whistler in the Dark

Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2007 17:37:08 -0400
From: "Caroline Ellis" clbellis@earthlink.net
She Loves Me

Larry, I don't review the Concord Players because I am a longtime member, and I feel like it's a conflict of interest. But I would like to say (with that caveat) that I thought the current production of "She Loves Me," running for two more weekends, was just great--Sarah Consentino especially. Barbara Cook better watch out. Her laurels are in danger.
Caroline Burlingham Ellis

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Secret Garden" by Marsha Norman & Lucy Simon
from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Date:Sat, April 28, 1:21 PM
Quicktake on SECRET GARDEN

     Turtle Lane is closing their season with one of the best shows the company has done in a while. Director Michelle M. Aguillon has assembled an ensemble of voices which can handle Simon’s harmonies and Norman’s lyrics, and act as well. Music director Wayne Ward gets the best out of this well-trained group. The design team of Michelle Boll and John MacKenzie has met the show’s scenic requirements with a combination of well-painted scenery and effective projected backgrounds. Robert Itzcak’s costumes suit the period and mood, giving a final touch to this Victorian Gothic romance.
    While not a children’s show “The Secret Garden” is family friendly, as the plucky orphan, Mary Lennox peserveres against her uncle’s depression and his brother’s frustration. Hannah Grace Horsely captures the role and has enough of a voice for the music. Likewise Benjamin Hirsh as her supposedly sickly cousin, Colin. James Fitzpatrick is convincing as his father, as is Michael Goodwin as his doctor uncle. Elizabeth Robinson is luminous as his mother Lily, who died bearing, while Anne Velthouse is in good form as her sister, Mary’s mother, who died, along with her father, in India. It should be noted that more than half the cast are ghosts or “dreamers” as the program has it. Among the living, Michelle Mount makes a fine perky housemaid and Gary Ryan does well as her fey brother. Both were coached in their Yorkshire accents by James Tallach, who plays the old gardener, Ben Weatherstaff.      Turtle Lane in Newton near the pike has once again proved its worth to the local music theatre community. The show runs through Jun. 3rd with some cast rotations.
"Secret Garden" by Marsha Norman & Lucy Simon Apr 27-June 3
Turtle Lane Playhouse
263 Melrose St. Auburndale MA, (617) 244 - 0169 Turtle Lane

Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2007 14:13:30 -0400 From: "Jeff Poulos" jpoulos@stagesource.org
Subject: The Flu Season

I try to keep these appeals to a minimum, as I know you probably hear from many people about “must sees” all the time. However, occasionally I feel compelled to call your attention to a theatre production that I think is worthy. Whistler in the Dark’s “The Flu Season” by Will Eno is one of those occasions for me, and I encourage you and your friends to see it.

Written by Will Eno (author of “Thom Pain (based on nothing)”, produced earlier this season by New Rep), FLU SEASON is filled with beautiful language, dark humor and complex characters. A man and woman, each working thru complex emotional issues while institutionalized, develop a relationship, one which is somewhat mirrored by older characters Doctor and Nurse in the play (who themselves are in a much different point in their lives). The action of the play receives context and commentary from two narrator characters (Prologue and Epilogue), among the smartly written dialogue. Love, heartbreak, loneliness, humor, nuance and poetry permeate throughout. I loved the way characters articulate thought and action so very literally and make one think. I found it incredibly complicated and simple at the same time. And did I mention how much humor is written into the play?

Whistler in the Dark is a young company on the rise (in Whistler’s first year, we were impressed enough to invite them to participate in the Boston Theatre Conference last summer). The production is bare bones, with simple furniture, lighting, costumes and sound, don’t expect a lot of bells and whistles – but what is most impressive is the strength of this non-union cast and crisp direction. The performances all strong, tackling challenging language and issues with fully realized characters. Kudos to Whistler and the company for working hard and accomplishing much with such little resources.

The show runs Thursday-Sunday, through May 5, at Arsenal Center for the Arts, in the Black Box Theatre, in Watertown. You can buy tickets at 617-923-THTR or www.arsenalarts.org.

GO to see a new theatre company, and GO to see strong actors in a well-written, complicated play that honors language, love and humor.

If you haven’t been to a Whistler show yet, I suggest you try now. I’m all about encouraging promising new companies, and I hope you’ll do the same. Thanks.
PS. Please feel free to forward this to your theatre-going co-workers, friends and family.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Crazy For You" by Geo. & Ira Gershwin, new book by Ken Ludwig
Date: Fri, Apr 27, 12:43 AM
Quicktake on CRAZY FOR YOU

     There's nothing like a dose of Gershwin to start a season. North Shore's opener this year is "Crazy for You," the revamped version of "Girl Crazy" done by Ken Ludwig with additional songs from the brother's canon. They've assembled a sparkling cast headed by Broadway song and dance man, Jeffry Denham, as Bobby Child. Opposite him there's Amanda Watkins, just in from the "Sweet Charity" tour, as Polly Baker, whose father (John O'Creagh) owns the abandoned theatre in the defunct gold rush town of Deadrock, Nevada. Bobby, a erstwhile banker who wants to tap his way onto Broadway, has been sent to foreclose. The rest is predictable, as the two warble and dance from Gershwin standard to standard.
    NSMT favorite David Coffee has the plum role of impresario Bela Zangler, with hilarious drunken number, "What Causes That" near the beginning of the second act. North Shore regular Maureen Brennan plays Bobbie's domineering mother--she owns the bank. Notable in the talented ensemble are Dan Amboyer as Lank Hawkins, local saloon keeper, who is sweet on Polly, Lyn Philistine, who starts out as Bobbie's pushy fiance and winds up with Lank, Jayson Eliot plays Moose and a mean bass while Kristen Beth Williams is Tess the dance captain pursued by Bela. This production was directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, who's redone the 1992 Tony winner for NSMT's arena. He manages to combine song and dance traditions, the look of the big revues of the '30, are a gentle parody of the good old fashioned musical comedy. Costumes are based on William Ivey Long's original's. The settings were done by Campbell Baird. "Crazy for You" is another fine start to a North Shore season, which will end in November with their production of "Les Miserables."
"Crazy For You" by Geo. & Ira Gershwin, new book by Ken Ludwig, Apr.24 - May 13
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverly MA, (978) 232 -7200 NSMT

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Valhalla" by Paul Rudnick
Date: Sun, Apr 22, 2007 9:41 PM
Quicktake on VALHALLA

     Paul Rudnick is perhaps best known to the general theatre-goer as the author of "I Hate Hamlet". Several of his more overtly gay-themed plays has attracted notice. But "Valhalla", a sprawling attempt to weave the tale of mad Ludwig of Bavaria, whose monuments to history (late 19th Century) are the fairty-tale castle which inspired the one at Disneyland and funding Wagner's Opera House at Bayreuth with the career of a ne'er-do-well, James Avery from East Texas during the '30s, is a misshapen farce burdened with a two and one-half hour script with about one hour's too many "laugh-riot" one-liners
     The play doesn't create much sympathy for any of its characters, who number almost two dozen leaving the two leads, Ludwig (Brian Quint) and James (Jon Ferreria) focused on themelves and their pursuit of ineffable "beauty." The only semi-rounded character is IRNE winner Christopher Michael Brophy, as Henry Lee Stafford, James' sexually confused friend. The rest of the six actor ensemble includes Theater Coop veteran Maureen Adduci, who plays mostly Ludwig's mother but ends the show as tour leader, Natalie Kippelbaum, Elisa MacDonald who plays most of the princesses and Henry's wife whom James seduces (of course) and co-director Rick Park who plays Ludwig's various functionaries.
    The cast tries hard--often to little avail--but when a character is onstage for only a few minutes and the actor has to exit swiftly to make the next costume change, there's no much hope for more than a superficial sketch. Seth Bodie's costume assembly does the job but has a certain dress-up quality. Ci-director David J. Miller's set is a bland unit with one end of the Black Box indicating Bavarie, the other Texas, neither particularly distinguished. The action thus has a lot in common with a tennis match. Jeff Adelberg's lighting helps and Walter Eduardo provides all the cuts from Wagner selected by Reinhold Mahler. But a play never really emerges.
"Valhalla" by Paul Rudnick, Apr.
Zeitgeist Stage Co. at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Einstein’s Dreams" adapted from Alan Lightman by Wesley Savick
Date: Sat, April 21, 11:21 PM

     As part of the Cambridge Science Festival, MIT’s Catalyst Collaborative and the Underground Railway Theatre are presenting a new adaptation of Alan Lightman’s 1993 novel, “Einstein’s Dreams.” The script is newly adapted by director Wesley Savick from a previous effort by David Radford and Brian Niece. The title role goes to Robert Najarian who gives the role of a Chaplinesque quality as the young patent clerk wrestles with his new concept of Time. The other two actors, Debra Wise, artistic director of URT, and Steven Barkhimer play colleagues in his office plus all the rest of the characters in his “dreams.” Savick has taken his three experienced professionals and helped them create a tight physical ensemble around the script’s various abstractions. He’s also avoided incorporating recent gossip about Albert in favor of trying to understand his philosphical dilemmas.
     Live music is provided by world-music composer Evan Harlan, using themes from which he improvises on the accordian. The simple set concept of movable units was conceived by Cambridge artist Wen Ti Tsen. The show’s being presented in the round floor auditorium of the new museum of the Broad Institute, part of Cambridge Center in Kendall Sq., on Main St. next to the Whitehead Institute near Ames St. There are six more performances next week as part of the Festival. URT has announced the ground breaking for their new Central Sq. Theatre for May 1, 5:15 - 7:30pm. The public is invited.
"Einstein’s Dreams" adapted from Alan Lightman by Wesley Savick, Apr. 19 - Apr. 29
Underground Railway/Catalyst Collaborative at Broad Museum & Institute, MIT/Harvard
321 Main St. Kendall Sq., tickets at door Underground Railway

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Memory House" by Kathleen Tolan
Date: Fri, April 20, 11:16 PM
Quicktake on MEMORY HOUSE

     TheatreZone is finishing their season at Chelsea Theatre Works with a production of Kathleen Tolan's naturalistic mother/daughter play, "Memory House." The variation on the predictable conflict is that Katia, played by Becca A. Lewis was adopted from Russia as a child, and is having trouble writing her college essay about her memories. Add to that her mother, Maggie, is divorced from her father, an liberal academic. Mother, an orderly midwesterner, is played by Suzanne Ramcyck, who manages to bake a blueberry pie onstage during the show's taut 90 minutes. Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques has concentrated on small details and everyday behavior and the relationship between mother who's coasting into middle age and daughter in an emotional crisis is effective. Tolan's dialogue is well-constructed, allowing the cast to build complex characters. The play doesn't aim for any great dramatic heights but resolves quite satisfactorily, even though it raises far more questions than it answers. Julia Noulin-Merat's realistic set contributes a great deal to the believability of the show.
     "Memory House wraps up next weekend. It's certainly worth the trip to Chelsea, where street parking is not difficult. And the Theatre Works has finally gotten their elevator installed, so there's no more climb up to the third floor lodge hall that serves as their rather elegant theatre. Watch for their shows next fall, and keep an eye out for their free outdoor production this summer.
"Memory House" by Kathleen Tolan", Mar. 30 - Apr. 29
TheatreZone at Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St, Chelsea Sq., (???) ???-???? TheatreZone

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Surviving the Nian" by Melissa Li & Abe Rybeck
Date: Wed, April 18, 11:34 PM

     "Surviving the Nian" (Chinese New Years), the winner in the 2007 Jonathan Larson Award to facilitate its development. The result, having its world premiere for Theatre Offensive at the BCA, is very much a contemporary piece of music theatre in the style of Larson ("Rent") and other current practitioners. Much of the first half is sung-through and informational. The music is generally pleasant and relatively undemanding. None of the six performers has what would be described as a musical comedy voice, which adds their performances as characters.
     "Surviving the Nian" is more of a domestic drama, along the lines of the family-based TV serials popular in China, definitely in the soap opera tradition. Director Patrick Wang has paid careful attention of small details. Two actresses, Megumi Haggerty and Abria Smith, play a lesbian couple from Boston, Kaylin a Chinese exchange student now working in real estate, Asha, a black lawyer, her business and life partner. They've come back to visit Kaylin's family; her mother played by Judy Tan, her Uncle Tony, played by WFT regular Gary Ng, her brother Vincent, played by Hyunsoo Moon, and his fiance, Jessie, played by Mariko Kanto. Her mother expects her to rejoin the family in Hong Kong and contribute to its finances. The resulting conflicts are predictable, but the denouement is pleasantly appropriate for all concerned. Musical support in the second act is still needs development. As a whole the show is an impressive first outing, in need of pruning and more thematic concentration.
    Erik Diaz' set and Nathaniel Packard's lighting provide attractive support for the show, through Uncle Wu's acupuncture office somewhat overwhelms the second half scenically. It somehow should be retractable to make room for the end of the show. Music director Juri Panda Jones gets a professional sound from her ensemble, supporting Li's lyrics and theme quite nicely. While there's about half an hour too much of a good thing, this premiere is worth the effort.
"Surviving the Nian" by Melissa Li & Abe Rybeck, Apr.14 -
Theatre Offensive in Roberts Studio
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Theatre Offensive

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Winnie the PoohPooh" adapted from A.A.Milne by Kristin Seigel
Date: Saturday, April 14, 2007
Quicktake on POOH

     The Wheelock Family Theatre is taking children of all ages back to the Hundred Aker Wood for Spring break. Harold Withee, last seen as George W. in Zeitgeist effective "Stuff Happens," has the title role. Several other regulars, including Ricardo Engermann as Rabbit, Mansur as Eyore, marina Re as Owl, and Grace Napier as Kanga complete the adult cast. Young Grace Brakeman is an energetic Piglet and Sirena Abalian hops along as Roo. A.Minh-Anh Day is Christopher Robin, who's the leader of a group of Narrators who lead into the story. The script is acceptable, but doesn't quite capture the charm of A.A.Milne's work.
     The stuffed animal costumes by Charles Baldwin come closer but a very much old-school children's theatre, as is Harwich's James P. Byrne's direction. The large ensemble and the leading players come together on his set and the show is satisfatory for the younger set as an introduction to live theatre. Incidentally, Tigger, [;ayed byW. Yvonne Murphy bounced in the the finale.
"Winnie the Pooh" adapted from A.A.Milne by Kristin Seigel, Apr. 13 - May 13
Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway , (617) 879 - 2300 WFT

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Persephone" by Noah Haidle
Date: Wed, April 11, 10:44 PM
Quicktake on PERSEPHONE

     The world premiere of Noah Haidle's "Persephone", read last spring as part of the HTC's Breaking Ground series owes its success as much to the author's cleverness and Nicholas Martin's apt direction as to a stunning performance by Melinda Lopez as the statue of Demeter, the main character in the piece. Through voice and very limited movement, Lopez creates a witty and believAble Earth-mother, mightily dismayed by the world from which she cannot look away. The second half of the play, set in a Manhattan park circa 2007, is full of Durang-like non-sequitor and urban violence, the first in a sculptors studio in 1507 Florence; both handsome designs by David Korins.
    All the various parts in the piece are played by a trio of actors, led off by Jeremiah Kissel, who appears as the sculptor's patron in Act 1, plus a laid-back harpist and a starving mouse. The sculptor, Guiseppe, is done by Seth Fisher; his model is Mimi Lieber. Each actor then plays innumerable walkons with Kissel memorable as a art-loving Rat in Act 2. Their reappearence in various guises underscores human--and animal--transience against Demeter eternal marble form. The play is full of surprizes, many of them unpleasant, but overall, it comes off as a rather dystopian and fantastic tragicomedy. Haidle has revived a species of drama not seen much since immediately after WWII and previously in the '20s. Let's hope he doesn't become "the next big thing." This summer, Company One will be mounting his "Mr. Marmalade" which made quite a splash for Roundabout in 2005.

"Persephone" by Noah Haidle, Mar. 30 - May 6
Huntington Theatre Co. at BCA Wimberley
527 Tremont, (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "...Young Lady from Rwanda" by Sonja Linden
Date: Sun, Apr 8, 4:05 PM
Quicktake on ...Young Lady from Rwanda

     The full title of Sonia Linden’s compelling documentary play, "I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda " is far too long to fit on a marque, but does capture the special essence of her piece. For while the subject of the story, Juliette, is a survivor of the genocide, what’s staged is her recovery from the ordeal by writing about her life as a middle-class Rwandan, played by Dorcas Evelene Davis from New York. This process is facilitated by Simon. a British poet working with clients at a refugee center, played by the ever-dependable Owen Doyle. His life as a minor poet and frustrated novelist serves as a foil for her larger tragedy.
     Director Weylin Symes presents the play with notable economy on a simple but strong black and white set by Richard Chambers. Stoneham has resisted adding multi-media details, using sound by David Wilson to enhance some key scenes. The play is easy to watch if not to listen to as we are reminded of the horrific violence wrecked on the Tutsi by their Hutu neighbors. But it’s a lesson not to be forgotten even as the world watches the barbarity currently savaging Darfur on the opposite side of Africa. The small hope this play offers for salvation somehow seems too little. Linden approach to the subject, using only two actors whose personal stories are revealed in a series of monologues and simple scenes is a unique way to deal with such a subject, however. This show is well worth the short trip out to Stoneham.
"...Young Lady from Rwanda" by Sonja Linden, April 5 - 22
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main Street Stoneham, (781) 279-2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Conquest of the South Pole" by Manfred Karge
Date: Fri, Apr 6, 9:43 AM

     Molasses Tank, one of CWT's resident Theatre's, has mounted a darkly comic version of German filmmaker/playwright Manfred Karge's "The Conquest of the South Pole," an allegorical romp in the Brechtian tradition. This 90 minute play has a small group of unemployed men, who all feel like losers, reenacting Admundsen's epic journey in an attic. Written before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the play centers around one Slupianek, who's desperate to release them from their round of pinball, snaps, and trips to the unemployment office. This pivotal role is played by versatile Jason Beals, last seen playing Prospero in 11:11's under-rehearsed "Tempest." He's also canoodling with the wife of his friend Braukmann, played by George Saulnier III, the only one of the group to have a job, albeit an unsatisfactory one. La Braukman is done by Janelle Mills with admirable energy. The rest of the motley crew includes William McGregor as gruff Buscher, who emigrates at he end of the play, and suicidal Seiffert, played by quirky Bob Musset. There's also Frankieboy (Mike Budwey) who thinks he's a dog.
     The play is an excellent example of contemporary Continental writing, which blends heightened language, mixed metaphor, and bravura style in an adventurous manner not practiced much in the U.S. Director Steve Rotolo, who's also doing a cameo opposite Ashley Kelly, gives it a staccato interpretation on an interesting set by Christopher Allison. Matt Breton's lighting is appropriately non-realistic. Molasses Tank has mastered this style, which is worth the trip over to Charlestown. CWT is only three blocks from the Sullivan Sq. T stop, with street-parking a short ways down the hill.
"The Conquest of the South Pole" by Manfred Karge, Mar. 29 - Apr. 14
Molasses Tank at Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill St., Charlestown, (866) 811 - 4111 Molasses Tank

Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2007 12:57:25 +0000
From: edwinb314@comcast.net
Subject: Dancing at Lughnasa (Quick takes)

Dear Larry,
The production of "Dancing at Lughnasa" at the BCA was a revelation to me. Having seen a previous production in a much less intimate setting, I had an impression of an uninteresting and unmoving play. This production was well-designed, well-cast, well-directed, and both absorbing and moving. The cast uniformly impressed me as real human beings with ranges of strengths and weaknesses of their characters. A very rewarding theatrical experience. I highly recommend it.
Edwin F. Beschler

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Titus Andronicus" by Wm. Shakespeare (and Geo. Peele?)
Date: Sun, Apr 1, 9:57 AM

     The Bard’s first credited tragedy, “Titus Andronicus”, a Senecan gore-fest may have been reworked from a script by one of the lesser University Wits, Geo. Peele. The play is seldom done and appreciated mainly for some of its verse. Peele is credited mainly with helping to regularize the iambic pentameter mastered by his compatriot, Christopher Marlowe. The storyline of the play is probably his invention. Director/designer David R. Gammons makes it as clear as possible with a clean theatre-of-cruelty staging.
     The ASPs production stylizes much of the action. Gore is eliminated and symbolic stones provide most of the props. Actor/director Robert Walsh pulls out all the stops to play the title role, while guest artist Joel Colodner anchors the rest of the family as his older brother Marcus, a senator. Dmetrius Conley-Williams plays the arch-villain, Aaron the Moor, with real relish. The main villain, Tamora, Queen of the Goths, is assayed by John Kuntz as a mannered interpretation which doesn’t rise to the level of energy needed. Likewise, Paul Melendy as the much-brutalized Lavina, Titus’ daughter, doesn’t engage the audiences sympathy. The concept of using an all-male cast founders slightly with these two roles. The rest of the large ensemble is generally up to the challenge of playing Titus’ remaining sons, assorted Romans, Goths, etc. Those who don’t know the play should probably read a good synopsis to keep track of who’s doing what horrible deed to who and why. The revenge theme is sadly all to familiar on the nightly news, in Iraq, and on the streets of Dorchester.
"Titus Andronicus" by Wm. Shakespeare, Mar.29 - Apr. 22
Actors’ Shakespeare Project at The Garage, 38 JFK
Harvard Sq., (866) 111 -4111 ASP

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Miss Witherspoon" by Christopher Durang
Date: Mon. Mar. 26, 5:00 pm

     Since "Sister Mary Ignatius..." in 1981,Christopher Durang's fantastical excursions , some more successful than others, have incorporated religious satire. His recent Pulitzer nominated whirlwind consideration of reincarnation, "Miss Witherspoon," now running at the Lyric Stage, harks back stylistically to "The Actor's Nightmare", with a single character careening through a metaphysical adventure. Director Scott Edmiston, whose Fall production of "The Women" for Speakeasy just won IRNEs for Best Play and Best Director, couldn't have found a more ideal title player than Paula Plum, who just picked up another Best Actress award at this year's IRNEs for Lyric's "...The Goat." Plum, who's created seven one woman shows as well as appearing for the ART, the Huntington, the Gloucester Stage, and the Lyric among other companies, easily draws her audience into this fantasy which carries her from suicide into Bardo, the Buddhist equivalent of Purgatory, for a series of unwilling reincarnations.
     Attempting to guide her is perfectly cast Mala Bhattacharya, a true diva. Marianna Bassham, last seen as Ymma in "Silence" over at the New Rep, plays two entirely different mothers, while Larry Coen, who just did Laura in "The Plexiglas Menagerie" for Goldust, is the fathers, as well as Gandalf in the finale. Fellow IRNE winner Jacqui Parker (Best Play and Best Musical Actress) shows up as a guidance counselor but steals the finale as a really cool Jesus. The result, on a whimsical set by Janie E. Howland, this year's Best Scenic Design IRNE winner with a soundscape by Dewey Dellay, who got the Sound Design IRNE, is something to behold, enjoy, and possibly think about. Durang has zeroed in on questions not normally raised in secular everyday theatre, especially the big one; "What's next?" The epiphany he ends on seems less pat and satirical than more downbeat conclusions to his other works.
"Miss Witherspoon" by Christopher Durang, Mar. 23 - April 21
Lyric Stage at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon St., (617) 585 - 5678 Lyric Stage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Fat Pig" by Neil LaBute
Date: Thurs, Mar 22, 10:56 pm
Quicktake on FAT PIG

     By putting the primary insult in his latest dyspeptic play "Fat Pig," in the title, Neil LaBute opens the door for the audience having sympathy with at least one of his characters. The actress playing Helen, Lilane Klein, builds on that possibility right up to the play's potentially maudlin finish. As Tom, James Ryen, a tall leading man with an interesting face last seen as the prince in ASP's "Winter's Tale", has the opposite problem. His character clearly doesn't live up to his looks. In fact, if these parts were played by different actors, say a more imposing Helen and a shorter Tom, the heartache might be the same, but the impact would be diminished.
    Once again, LaBute focuses on appearances in his story telling, while maintaining has basic theme that essentially people are no damn good. Even the best have unconquerable weaknesses, the author included, who doesn't seem to be able to get beyond his Calvinist worldview. The two other people in this play, Jeanine, Tom's former girlfriend who works in Accounting, and Carter, his buddy, the office slacker, are much more one-dimensional examples. Award-winning actress Laura Latreille makes much more of Jeanine, as much through her physical presentation as her staccato delivery, than Michael Daniel Anderson does of Carter. He's underwritten to the point of being a sitcom escapee. Neither of Tom's office mates has much back story, and Carter's complaint about having a fat mother seems imposed. Our hero's background is also too much inferred, though Ryen makes him likably plausible. Only Helen has enough of a past to suggest a possible future after the inevitable breakup. The play's end seems a bit abrupt, but the performances and a lot of sharp writing make this 100 some minute romance worth watching.
"Fat Pig" by Neil LaBute, Mar.16 - April 7
Speakeasy Stage in Roberts' Studio
BCA Calderwoood, 529 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Speakeasy

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "White People" by J.T.Rogers
Date: Sun, Mar 18, 9:25 PM
Quicktake on TITLE

     The New Rep’s smaller space opened last Fall with Diego Arciniegas performing “Thom Paine (based on nothing)”, an avant garde monodrama. Their last Downstage offering of the season is a trio of interlocked monodramas by J.T.Rogers entitled “White People” directed by Arciniegas. This intense piece has three “white” Americans, a corporate lawyer originally from Brooklyn but now managing a branch office in St. Louis, an idealistic young college instructor in lower Manhattan. and a former highschool beauty queen in North Carolina. The lawyer, Martin, played by Stephen Russell, has a teenage son who’s become a sullen skinhead, the teacher, Alan, done by Robert Knopf, is struggling to relate to his student’s slang, and Georgia Lyman’s Mara Lynn has an epileptic son.
     The misery behind their lives unfolds through direct address woven together on a composite set by Harvard’s J. Michael Griggs. Stage right is an office being packed up where Michael’s tale unfolds. It stretches across to upstage left. The center is a pigeon-spattered bench in Stuyvesant Park where Alan describes his frustrations. Mara Lynn is mostly stage left or down center, except when she uses the office to remember visiting a Hindu doctor at the hospital. Upstage right a row of chair indicates a waiting room which unfortunately figures in each story. The question remains, why “white people?”
    It boils down to language, most evidently for the teacher, but a stumbling block for all concerned. Martin has lost all contact with his son, Alan and his wife fall prey to street violence, and Mara Lynn feels that everyone from her husband to the doctor talks right through her. And behind each character are unresolved issues concerning race and class. It’s an unsettling show acted with admirable intensity. No solutions are offered and audience reaction could well depend on whether or not they identify with the three characters. The technical support, Charles Schoonmaker's well-chosen costumes, David Kahn’s careful lighting, and Scott G. Nason's sound design all contribute to the effect.
"White People" by J.T.Rogers, Mar. 9 - Apr. 1
Downstage at New Repertory Theatre
321 Arsenal St. Watertown, (617) 923 - 8487 New Rep

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Well" by Lisa Kron
Date: Thurs, March 15, 12:03 AM
Quicktake on WELL

     The distinction between true allergic reaction and psychosomatic response is as hard to pin down as the real nature of Lisa Kron's Obie-winning Tony-nominated quasi-autobiographical “theatrical exploration,” Currently being recreated at the Huntington, at first “Well” seems to be a one woman show starring Kron with five extra characters, chief of which is her mother played by theatre veteran Mary Pat Gleason. The other four play multiple roles as the author attempts to define wellness. In the course of two intermissionless hours however this purpose becomes muddied and the show becomes personalized and ultimately inconclusive, more a commentary on itself.
     The process of creating a solo piece from elements of one’s own life is certainly relevant to today’s theatre, but is not in itself necessarily interesting, at least not for two hours. The show has a pastiche quality, attempting to correlate race relations in 1960s Lansing Michigan to the minutia of a residential allergy clinic in Chicago, combined with memories of growing up with a mother whose life was limited by illness. The author challenges her own veracity in the process which leaves additional questions unanswered.
    All of which is sporadically amusing; Kron’s standup timing is impressive, regularly garnering laughs at her own expense. Tony Walton’s set, done for Broadway looms over the action but seems more decorative than appropriate. The conceit that all this is somehow an exploration with no clear course, except on some notecards in the author’s pocket, seems hollow and unfortunately true, the sporadic effort of a skilled performance artist to deal personal concerns working from contradictory premises. The results are maudlin at best, and probably much more compelling in Off-Broadway confines than displayed on the Huntington’s vintage proscenium.
"Well" by Lisa Kron, mar. 9 - Apr.8
presented by Huntington Theatre Co. at BU Theatre
264 Huntington Ave., (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Grapes of Wrath" adapted from John Steinbeck by Frank Galati
Date: Thur, March 8, 11:15 PM
Quicktake on GRAPES OF WRATH

     The Stoneham Theatre has produced several shows based on works of literature, including John Steinbeck's “Of Mice and Men” which the author adapted himself. His masterwork. “The Grapes of Wrath” was however turned into a film starring Henry Fonda, which is how most audiences remember the story. Frank Galati's adaptation of this epic for Steppenwolf won a Tony award and introduced Gary Sinese to the Broadway stage, but is a much more challenging piece. Director Weylin Symes and his staff have made an honest effort to deal with this tale of the Joad's journey from the Oklahoma dustbowl to California’s fruitlands.
     With a large cast of professional and local actors, an effective if somewhat monochromatic unit set by Gianni Downs, and live fiddle and banjo music chosen by Jim Warner, the show does justice to the original, but doesn’t come to life often enough. It’s hard to come up to the level that a practiced ensemble can achieve. Susan Bigger and Ed Peed inhabit the roles of Ma and Pa Joad, and Jonathan Popp is believable as Tom Joad. Derek Stone Nelson doesn’t rise to the mythic figure of Preacher Jim Casey often enough. Richard Arum and Darius Omar Williams turn in effective cameo roles as does Jim Wryna as Grandpa. In the end, the production doesn’t balance the grimness of Steinbeck’s tale with the novels theme of the indominability of human spirit. Galati’s adaptation does preserve his parable and poetic ending unlike Hollywood’s effort.

"Grapes of Wrath" adapted from John Steinbeck by Frank Galati, Dates, Mar.1 - 18
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Brendan Behan" adapted by Shay Duffin
Date: Wed, Mar 7, 11:36 PM

     The season of one-person shows continues. Behan’s back, or rather Shay Duffin’s resurrected the man again, and his show seems as fresh as ever. Duffin, who was last here in Boston as part of the ensemble for “The Departed”, first put his fellow South Dubliner onstage here at the Charles Theatre about 20 years ago. He’s now older than the writer was at his death aged 41, and brings a depth to the sadness behind the banter. Material for this piece comes from Behan’s various published writing, including “The Borstal Boy”, but most of the songs are traditional barroom tunes heard in his best-known play, “The Hostage.” The intimate confines of JTOB, with Guinness available in the lobby, make this show seem like a homecoming. Maybe it’s time some of our local theatres took a second look at his plays, and the social criticism behind their antics.

"Brendan Behan" adapted by Shay Duffin, MAR.7 - 31
255 Elm St. Davis Sq., (1-866) 811 - 4111 J T O B

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Comedy of Errors" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Fri, March 2, 2007 11:23 AM

     The Imaginary Beasts, a physical theatre resident at the Lynn Center for the Arts, has opened their latest effort at the Charlestown Working Theatre. “The Comedy of Errors”, largely borrowed from Plautus’ Roman farce, “The Twin Menachmi” is an early Shakespearean with a complicated Italianate plot and various passages intended to show off the author’s rhetorical skill, including a solemn opening which sets for the circumstances. Matthew Woods’ the group director starts off with this static scene but quickly moves into a commedia mode which suits the varied skills of his company. Unfortunately these don’t include consistent verse speaking and enunciation on the part of all these young actors. He’s also emphasized the confusion of identities in the plot by a lot of cross-gender casting. Of the identical twin brothers, Antipholus of Syracuse is played by Debra Mein, while Antipholus of Ephesus is played by Daniel Balkin. The latter’s wife is played by Rocky Graziano while her sister is played by Elizabeth Olson. The two Dromios, slaves both. are played by Jennifer O’Connor and Caitlin Stewart-Swift, dressed in clown suits made from over-sized long underwear.
    The costumery in general much of which is changed onstage behind a pair of rolling racks which constitute the show’s only scenery, is an imaginative hodgepodge with a period feel. The rest of the ensemble. all women, play a variety of characters with energy if some tendency to indicate. The pace of the show would be improved by cutting some of the obscure humor and an attempt to identify locations. Better music choices would also help or even an original score with identifiable themes. Woods might do well to put this concept on the shelf and revisit it when he had a stronger company. The present production is however worth the short trip over to Charlestown. The Working Theatre is after all only two and a half blocks from the Sullivan Sq. stop on the Orange Line and street parking is available. The Imaginary Beasts will also be running the show at the Lynn Center for the Arts.
"Comedy of Errors" by Wm. Shakespeare, Mar.1 - 10
The Imaginary Beasts at Charlestown Working Theatre
422 Bunker Hill St., Charlestown / (978) 500-5533 ImaginaryBeasts

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Oliver Twist" by adapted from Charles Dickens by Neil Barrett
Date: Wed, Feb 22, 11:58 PM

     At the center of this faithful adaptation of Dickens best known novel is Ned Eisenberg's scenery chewing performance as Fagin, the mastermind of the gang of juvenile thieves. This role, played as a version of Shylock, was a favorite of Victorian actor/managers. Michael Wartella as the title character, young Oliver, is convincing as the eternal victim, good but very naive. ART regulars, Remo Airaldi as the Beadle Mr. Bumble, Karen MacDonald as the harridan who keeps the workhouse and marries Mr. Bumble, Will LeBow as Mr. Brownlow, Oliver's grandfather, and Thomas Derrah as Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker as well as Mr. Grimwig, Brownlow's cynical friend perform up to their usual standard, and also take a number of minor roles.
     Notable visiting artists include glowering Gregory Derelian as Bill Sykes (sans dog) and Mrs. Sowerberry, Jennifer Ikea as doomed Nancy, and Carson Elrod as the Artful Dodger, who narrates the story up until his fateful meeting with Oliver on the road to London. The rest of the cast are uniformly convincing as they morph from character to character, form a street band to play Gerald McBurney's original score and join the ensemble in musical interludes in which the cast sings short setting of the author's prose commentary.
     Rae Smith's set is a unique combination of early Victorian popular theatricals, penny dreadful tableaus, toy theatre, and stylized grand guignol. Her costumes are drawn from crude illustrations from the time. Neil Barrett's direction is marvelously choreographed with moments of mock solemnity and frozen violence. Lighting by Scott Zielinski, who recently did Three Sisters and Dido for the ART, and David Remedios' usual first-rate sound design complete this revival of "Oliver Twist" which will next move to NYC's Theatre for a New Audience.
"Oliver Twist" by adapted from Charles Dickens by Neil Barrett, Feb.17 - Mar. 24
A.R.T at Loeb Auditorium
64 Brattle St. Harvard SQL,, (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-�Souvenir� by Stephen Temperley
Date: Sun, Feb 18, 6:11 PM
Quicktake on SOUVENIR

This legendary tone-deaf soprano sold out her last concert, at Carnegie Hall no less, in two hours no less. The Boston premiere of Stephen Temperley�s �Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins� might just be as fortunate. Starring multiple-award winner Leigh Barrett as the diva and IRNE winner Will McGarrahan as her faithful accompanist Cosme McMoon, this bio fantasia weaves their lives together from the time they meet. He�s an aspiring composer and song-writer in the life; Madame Jenkins is a socialite who lives at the Ritz.
Despite her obvious musical failings, which are skillfully demonstrated by Barrett, so well that one might fear for her vocal chords, the audience finds Madame Jenkins� obsession as endearing as Cosme does. McGarrahan�s wry delivery and comic timing match his role perfectly. David Costa-Cabral�s period couture is impeccable, and his mock opera getups for the final concert are a hoot. Skip Curtis� elegant unit set and Robert Cordetta�s effective lightimg show their familiarity with the space. Well produced as usual, this engaging comedy makes an interesting comment about artistic obsession. or as FFJ once put it, �Some may say I couldn�t sing. but no one can say that I didn�t sing.�

�Souvenir� by Stephen Temperley, Feb.16 - Mar.17
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley YMCA
140 Clarendon, (617) 585 -5678

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Doubt" by John Patrick Shanley
Date: Tues, Feb 6, 11:09 PM
Quicktake on DOUBT

     John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt" starts out with a homily on "doubt," preached by Father Flynn, the pastor of Saint Nicholas, here played by actor/director Chris McGarry in his fifth collaboration with the author. In a sense, the play is Shanley's explication of the conflict between doubt and faith, between faith and "rules." The latter is personified by Sister Aloysius, the principal of the convent school associated with the parish, played by Cherry Jones, who received a Tony for her performance in the role on Broadway. The former is personified by Lisa Joyce as Sister James, a young 8th grade teacher who becomes Sister Aloysius's informant. The matter of the play is a possible improper relationship between the school's only black student and the pastor, who's also the basketball coach. In the course of Sister Aloysius' relentless pursuit of Father Flynn, whose liberal ways she does not approve of, the fourth member of the cast, the boy's mother, played by Caroline Stefanie Clay, who appeared in the original off-Broadway Manhattan Theatre Club production
     Shanley's emotional and intellectual puzzle involves various unseen characters as well; the elderly monsignor who Sister Aloysius avoids since she's sure he'd side with the pastor, the boy himself, and in a sense, the world outside the Church which she seeks to fend off by a firm application of rules. This ninety minute piece is very tightly constructed with measured revelations, always leaving room for multiple interpretations, which Doug Hughes Tony-winning direction evenhandedly maintains. With scenes moving across on John Lee Beatty's set, costumes by Catherine Zuber, and effective lighting by Pat Collins, this is probably the best mounted touring show the grace the Colonial's venerable boards in a long time.
"Doubt" by John Patrick Shanley, Feb. 6 - 18
MTC, Jon B. Platt, etc at the Colonial
106 Boylston, (6i7) 931 - 2787 Colonial

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Beauty and the Beast" by Ashman, Menken, Rice & Woolverton
Date: Sun, Feb 4, 10:32 PM

     For their annual musical, the Wheelock Family Theatre has added to the current crop of "Beauty and the Beast" productions. The cast is made up from a number of returning professionals, a variety of local theatre students, and a few WFT participants, plus guest artist Douglas Jabara as the Beast. Angela Williams, seen previously in "The Sound of Music" plays Belle, while Christopher Chew who sang Von Trapp gets to be comic as Gaston. Mansur plays Belle's Father while Gary Ng gets knocked about as LeFou. The magical inhabitants of the Beast's castle include Robert Saoud as Lumiere the Candlestick, Chip Phillips as Cogsworth the Clock, Lisa Korak as Babette the Featherduster, Jeanine Belcastro as the opera singing Wardrobe, and Gamalia Pharms as Mrs. Potts, who gets to sing the title song.
     Director Jane Staab relies on her professionals to develop the drama, while she manages a large ensemble who play the villagers, the magical dishes and tableware, etc. IRNE winning choreographer Laurel Stachowicz puts them through their paces for the Act I finale, "Be Our Guest," which might be more impressive with a bit of food. She does pull off the final battle with plenty of slapstick. Conductor Steven Bergman and a professional ensemble provide strong support from the pit. Anita Fuch's multilevel set on wagons is solves the complex staging for the castle with three wagons but seems a trifle under-decorated. Stony Cook's lighting creates all the necessary moods. The production is definitely a first-rate introduction to live music theatre, if a mite too long for some of the younger set.
"Beauty and the Beast" by Woolverton, Menken, Ashman & Rice, Feb. 2 - Mar, 4
Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway
Boston, (617) 879 - 2300 Wheelock Family Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Midsummer Nights' Dream" by Wm.Shakespeare
Date: Sunday, Feb 4, 10:07 PM

     One of the Bard's most produced comedies, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is almost actor and concept proof. Even the ART's aerial version had its moments, thanks to a strong group of rude mechanicals. Director Daniel Elihu Kramer's approach has had some less than intriguing publicity concerning the gender-switching between Paula Plum and Timothy John Smith. Plum plays Hippolyta and Oberon while Smith plays Theseus and Titania. The conceit works not because of insight but because of the skill of these principals, but an impressive ensemble of local Shakespeareans and fast paced direction.
     The remaining six actors double their way through the action. Robert Pemberton is a stentorious Bottom assaying "Pyramus" and a powerful Egeus. Shelley Bolman is Lysander, in love with Egeus' daughter Hermia, and Peter Quince, the author "Pyramus and Theseus." Angie Jepson is petite Hermia, claimed by Risher Reddick's Demetrius, who also does Francis Flute, who of course plays "Thisbe." Jepson is a cute "Lion" as Snug the Joiner. Elizabeth Hayes is taller Helena, desperately in love with Demetrius, also plays Snout the tinker aka "Wall." Finally Ben Lambert is lithe Puck, as well as Starveling ("Moonshine"), and Philostrate. The four young lovers become Titania's fairies. Very basic costumes facilitate these character changes on a bare set, covered with red flowers, which might suggest field of poppies from Oz.
"A Midsummer Nights' Dream" by Wm.Shakespeare, Feb. 2 - Mar.3
Boston Theatre Works at BCA Plaza
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600

__ From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "States of Grace"

After more than two years of development, Underground Railway's Debra Wise and various collaborators are presenting the world premiere of "States of Grace," a monodrama featuring Wise as Faith, a stand-in for activist author Grace Paley. The rest of the cast includes versatile Owen Doyle in his first stint as a puppeteer/actor, UConn MFA Fay Dupras who fabricated most of the puppets, and Khalil Fleming a young actor seen at Boston Children's Theatre, Wheelock Family Theatre, and Stoneham as well as on PBS. The script combines several of Paley's unique stories with her political concerns and her frustrations as a writer, mother, and public citizen. The puppetry is incorporated into the realistic kitchen set designed by David Fichter and constructed by Will Cabell, who won IRNEs for their previous work on "Alice Underground", URT's last adult drama created in 1997-1998. "States of Grace" was directed by Greg Smucker, a longtime collaborator and lit by M.I.T.'s Karen Perlow, both of whom worked on "Alice..." The original score was created by world-music composer Evan Harlan, currently on the faculty of the New England Conservatory. Debra's performance is convincing and heartfelt, whether arguing with her father, a puppet who rises from a kitchen cabinet, talking with her spouse who appears from the refrigerator as a humanette, or dealing with a young black neighbor played by Khalil. At one point she morphs into a disgruntled retired druggist, conflicted over his black neighbors. Wise will next be seen at the New Rep in Austin Pendleton's "Orson's Shadow." "States of Grace" will have a special performance at Tufts on Mar. 5 before the show becomes part of URT's touring repertory. For tickets call the Underground Railway at (781) 643 - 6916 or go to their website, www.underground railway.org. This premiere runs through February 10th at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave. near B.U.'s Aganniss Arena.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Winter's Tale" by Wm. Shakespeare
Quicktake on THE WINTER'S TALE

The ASP's second offering of the season is a brisk production of Shakespeare's late romance "The Winter's Tale" played in the round. Veteran actor/director Ricardo Pitts-Wiley from Rhode Island makes a forceful Leontes, the King of Sicilia consumed by jealousy. B.U.’s Paula Langton is a forceful and extremely pregnant Hermione, his adoring wife. Visiting artist Joel Colodner plays Polixenes, King of Bohemia and Leontes boyhood friend who Leontes imagines has cuckolded him. Veteran Boston actor Richard Snee is Antigonus, Leontes loyal advisor, forced to spirit away Hermione's newborn daughter. IRNE winner Bobbie Steinbach is his strong willed wife Paulena, who later saves the day. Almost all the actors play at least two roles. Thus when exiting, pursued by a bear, after depositing the child on the coast of Bohemia Snee reappears moments later as the Shepherd, herding members of the company who moments before played the bear as a group mime. This is the moment when the first sign is given that the play isn’t merely a domestic tragedy.
In the second half, things lighten even further when John Kuntz, noodling on his sax, appears as Autolycus and demonstrates his roguish ways by relieving Doug Lockwood who’s now playing the Shepherd’s clownish son of his possessions by pretending to be an Irish clergyman recently set upon by robbers. The young lovers, played by James Ryen and Cristi Miles, of contrasting heights but well-matched playing Florizel and Perdita, recall couples from the Bard's earlier romances. He's the Prince and she doesn't know she's really Hermione's daughter. At the festival which follows, just as they're about to be engaged by her father, Polixenes, who's there in disguise, halts the happy occasion and troubles loom. The young lovers abscond with the help of Camillo, Leontes' former adviser played by Doublas Theodore, who previously helped Polixenes flee from Sicilia and has been advising him these 16 years. The three return to Leontes' court.
It's now up to visiting director, Curt L. Tofteland from the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, to sort out the finale. Through happy accident, the Shepherd brings proofs left with Perdita when she was abandoned. Autolycus has duped the two bumpkins into bringing them to Polixenes who's pursuing his son--and future daughter-in-law--to Sicilia. This goes smoothly enough but the real challenge is when Paulena leads Leontes et al to a supposed statue of Hermione and brings it "to life." As with most of the show this is accomplished with few frills. The acting area is plain with an abstract motif suggesting a bare tree on the floor, a design echoed on banners hung from the balcony in the tall hall at CMAC. Costumes suggest period garb but are largely utilitarian. It takes a dozen adults and one child to carry off this show, but ASP has added a fourth to their season, in which director Ben Evett will use just six actors to mount "Love's Labours' Lost". That should be worth seeing.
"The Winter's Tale" by Wm. Shakespeare, Jan. 25 - Feb. 17
Actors' Shakespeare Project at Camb. Multicultural
Bullfinch Courthouse, 41 2nd St, E. Camb. (866) 811 - 4111 (TM) ASP

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Britannicus" by Jean Racine, translator C.H.Sisson
Date:Wed, Jan 24, 2007 10:56 PM
Quicktake on BRITANNICUS

     Robert Woodruff's final exercise for the ART as its Artistic Director is a surprisingly coherent modern dress production of Jean Racine's seldom seen "Britannicus"--if you basically ignore the titillating dumbshow in the shadows stage left and right and finally upstage. While the text provides all the information needed for the drama, the director seems to feel the audience won't get understand how decadent things are unless they see Nero taking a shower before the action while two minor characters have a quickie on the set center stage and his mother finishes dressing on the other side of the set ignored by a man in a robe on the bed nearby. C.H,Sisson's servicable prose translation is well-acted in prime-time drama style by an experienced New York and rep theatre cast, which includes Adrianne Krstansky from the Brandeis faculty as Albina, Agrippina's confidant. The poetic cast of the original--which is in rhymed couplets--is large missing but not essential to the drama
     Joan McIntosh acts up a storm as Agrippina, Nero's manipulative mother, the center of the drama from first to last. Alfredo Narisco is her dissolute son, ready to live up to the huge motto at the back of the stage; "Empire creates its own reality," the clearest expression of the director's intent. The title character is played rather monochromatically by Emerson grad Kevin O'Donnell, while his fiance Junia, the focus of the rivalry between him and his step half-brother the emperor, is done by boyish Merritt Janson from the Institute, who has the better part and deserves at least one decent costume. John Serrios plays Burrhus, Nero's Praetorian military adviser supplied by Agrippina, who's ultimately unable to control his Emperor while David Wilson Barnes is the duplicitous Narcissus, who pretends to befriend Britannicus while working for all the more powerful members of the court. He and Krstansky have a thing going. The man on the bed, who's never heard from, is Pallas, Nero's tutor, played by Douglas Cochrane.
     The historically minded will note that Seneca, Nero's chief political advisor is missing from the cast, though he is mentioned. Racine probably thought that the recent death of Mazarin, Louis XIV's eminence gris, made any attempt to include such a role politically unwise. "Britannicus" was intended as a morality play for the Sun King; on today's stage it becomes a dynastic thriller, a taut drama--the script of course maintains the unities--which doesn't need the multimedia signposts which clutter this production. Incidentally, Nero's current wife, Octavia, Britannicus' sister, done by Megan Roth, doesn't say a word, but does get to sing a couple of arias--in French probably.
    The entire show is miked since the stage is cleared to the walls, the set is predictably techno, and the lighting grid looms overhead and out over the orchestra. Video projection plays a peripheral and only occasionally distracting role in the show. The costume plot is modern and indicative, and would be appropriate for any daytime soap. The result is more coherent that most recent ART efforts and the cast manages to do the play quite professionally despite the technical distractions.
"Britannicus" by Jean Racine, Jan. 20 - Feb. 11
American Repertory Theatre in Loeb Auditorium
64 Brattle, Harvard Sq. (617) 547 - 8300 A R T

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Silence" by Moira Buffini
Date: Fri, Jan 20, 11:53 PM
Quicktake on SILENCE

     When London playwright Moira Buffini penned "Silence" in 1999, she probably didn't consider that this dark comedy about medieval times, roughly based on historical personages and events, would have even more resonance only eight years later. The script, which won the Washburn Prize, was inspired by the unease over the approaching millennium, but its freewheeling gender-politics, odd anachronistic attitudes, religious and political unrest now seems prophetic. Rendered as a chase and set in the mythic Dark Ages, a small cast of six raises some big questions about power, religion, and loyalty.
    The heroine of this mini-saga is Ymma of Normandy, played by luminous Marianna Bassham, seen last fall as Ophelia for the ASP. Her nemesis is Lewis Wheeler's Anglo-Saxon king, Ethelred, labeled by history as the Unready, whose bullying petulance and religious mania turns lethal as the action progresses. The King marries this princess, exiled from Normandy by her brother, to his ally, Silence of Cumbria, a small northwestern kingdom, created by the dissolution of Northumbria around 866 AD. Lord Silence, played by Emily Sproch, is not the boy he seems to be, and therein hangs the tale. Silence and Ymma flee north towards his homeland after Ethelred decides to marry the lady himself for his own salvation -- her mother was a saint. Ymma also has a powerful effect on the King's enforcer, Eadric Longshaft, a rough warrior played by IRNE winner Christopher Michael Brophy, who played the Thane for the New Rep's educational tour last spring. The ensemble is rounded out by IRNE winner Anne Gottlieb, seen this fall as the lead in "The Women" at Speakeasy, as Ymma's companion, Agnes, and B.U.'s Michael Hayes as Roger, a conflicted Catholic priest who attempts to instruct Silence in the faith despite his own urges.
     This three-act drama takes the cast from Dover to Kent through the midlands to the north, through a mythic landscape played on an impressive unit set by Cristina Todesco, constructed by Wooden Kiwi, expertly lit by Christopher Ostrom. IRNE winner Frances Nelson McSherry's period costumes complete the picture, while providing a subtle commentary on the action. Director Rick Lombardo, at the top of his form, has also provided an impressive original sound design. The play, which raises such universal questions as Father Roger's "Is God going to destroy us? And if he is, is he wrong?" could stand on its own, but the New Rep's impressive production values help sweep the audience along to the evening's ironic conclusion.
"Silence" by Moira Buffini, Jan. 17 - Feb. 11
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal, Watertown / 617 - 923 - 8487 New Rep

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Amazon/Haiku" by Alfaro/Snodgrass
Date: Sun, Jan 14, 8:29 PM
Quicktake on AMAZON/HAIKU

The Equity Members Project at Boston Playwrights', which runs for one more week there, before moving up for a weekend in Gloucester at the West End, features senior actor June Lewin in two compelling performances in two long one-acts. In Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro's "Sailing Down the Amazon" she holds the stage alone as Rima, a retired actress recently diagnosed with Alzheimers, who decided to take a exotic trip rather than have an MRI. It's the turn of the Millennium after all.
In Kate Snodgrass' "Haiku" Lewin plays Nell, the mother of an adult autistic woman, Louise, played Emily Singara. She's become sure that her daughter comprehends more than most people realize. Her older daughter, Billie, played by Kippy Goldfarb, gave up on that possibility long ago. But Nell, a writer, has published two short books of haiku poetry which she believes comes from Lulu and a crisis is looming as she's slowly growing blind.
These two pieces paint effective and contrasting portraits of mental illness with the help of a simple but effective set by Lisa Pegnato and careful lighting by Marc Olivere. Matt Otto did the sound design, most important in "...Amazon." The economy and elegance of the writing in each play is a reminder of the serious work being done by Boston's local playwrights.
"Amazon/Haiku" by Alfaro/Snodgrass, Jan.11-21, Jan. 26-28
JRV at Boston Playwrights & West End Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, 1 Wash.St, Gloucester (617) 661 - 7930 Company Website

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Guys on Ice" (1998) by Fred Alley and James Kaplan
Date: Saturday, January 13, 2007
Quicktake on GUYS ON ICE

     The closest we're liable to get to ice-fishing hereabouts this winter is currently running at the Stoneham Theatre. The duo who adapted "The Spitfire Grill" for the American Folklore Theatre in Wisconsin, Fred Alley and James Kaplan, turned their imaginations to this sedentary winter sport to create an engaging show, light on plot and folksy in demeanor. "Guys on Ice" is a day spent fishing for working men Marvin and Lloyd, played by Cory Scott and Bill Stambaugh, snug in a shanty out on the lake, drinking Leinenkugel (Linie beer) and singing about things like their snowmobile suits or "Fish is de Miracle Food." They're waiting for the arrival of Cubby from the cable TV fishing show, their shot at local fame, and hiding their beer from Ernie the Moocher, played by William Gardiner. He starts the second half with a bit of audience participation and a paean to "Linie" accompanied by the spoons.
    "Guys on Ice" is an homage to the homegrown musical shows which had their roots in the Grange and the brief heyday of regional playwriting which began after WWI and faded after WWII. Its tunes echo lightweight country comedy with a touch of the polka. The creative team, IRNE winners director Jason Southerland from BTW, Jose Delgado, one of Boston's busier music directors, and Ilyse Robbins, eclectic choreographer, have let the material speak for itself, moreso than more frantic treatment of small town working class life seen in TV sit-coms. Jenna MacFarland Lord's set is a revolving fishing hut against a slanted drop of ice and sky, with an amazing collection of props and decor assembled by Karla Sund. Molly Trainer has dressed the cast in appropriately well-worn winter gear. The show is an affectionate portrait of small town Wisconsin which the American Folklore Theatre has played since its creation in 1998, complete with regional accent ( vaguely Scandanavian) and local slang and no particular political message. See you on the ice.
"Guys on Ice" by Fred Alley and James Kaplan, Jan. 12 -28
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St., (781) 279 - 2200
Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Woman in Black" by Susan Hill, adapted by Stephen Mallarat
Date: Sat, Jan 13, 8:46 AM

Stephen Mallarat's adaptation of Susan Hill's story, a long-running London favorite, has once again surfaced hereabouts, this time as a "winter tale" down in the Hovey Players' basement digs. "The Woman in Black" is a Wilke Collins inspired thriller, set at the beginning of the 20th century, which involves a solicitor enlisting the aid of an actor to tell the story of a haunting which changed his life. Introverted Kipps, played by Randy Marquis, is coached to become all the people in the recounting while Chuck Swager who plays the bumptious actor takes over the narration. Director Kristin Hughes has used the whole small space to surround the audience with the show.
The storytelling is enhanced by "the miracle of recorded sound," a novelty on stage in pre-WWI London. The show takes place in a shuttered theatre as the pair rehearse the tale. A mysterious silent woman in black joins in, played by Eden Land. Lighting designer John MacKenzie does his best giving the limitations of the Hovey's system and the spread of the show. The script, which follows the format of the original tale, seems a bit forced and could be condensed into a long one-act for more dramatic effect, but holds up well enough. The challenge of using two actors to accomplish a journey to the bleak shore of Northern England and the mysterious situation which unfolds there is interesting in itself.

"The Woman in Black" by Stephen Mallarat, Jan. 12 - 27
Hovey Players in Abbott Theatre
9 Spring St. Waltham / (781) 983 - 9171 Hovey Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Bronte" by Polly Teale
Date: Thurs, Jan 11, 11:32 PM
Quicktake on BRONTE

     Wellesley Summer Theatre is currently presenting the American premiere of the third part of British playwright Polly Teale's trilogy. This award winning ensemble has previously presented her "Jane Eyre" and "After Mrs. Rochester," also directed by Nora Hussey. "Bronte" focuses on the author Charlotte Bronte, the author of "Jane Eyre", as well as her younger sisters; Emily, whose only published novel was the controversial "Wuthering Heights," and Anne who wrote "Agnes Grey" and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall," two somewhat sentimental efforts. Alicia Kahn, one of WST founders, is back to play Charlotte, while Wellesley grad Catherine LeClair, who's been working in Maine but has relocated to New York, has returned to play Emily. Wellesley senior Kelly Galvin, with several WST credits, plays Anne. WST veteran Melina McGrew, who appeared in both of the earlier Teale productions recreates her role as Rochester's first wife, Bertha, and also becomes Heathcliff's Cathy. In several scenes, Kahn once again plays Jane Eyre.
     The men in this production are John Gavin as Rev. Patrick Bronte (nee Brunty), Dan Bolton as his curate, Arthur Bell Nichols, who married Charlotte, and Derek Stone Nelson, who plays the French schoolmaster who inspired Charlotte to develop her innate writing skills and also recreates his role as Rochester. Davin and Nelson also appeared in "After Mrs. Rochester." The important part of Branwell Bronte, the pampered son of the family, who lead a dissolute life of failure, falls to Greg Raposa, who also appears as Heathcliff. Branwell was probably Emily's inspiration for that unfortunate free spirit.      As in past productions, the set and lights are in the expert hands of Ken Loewit, while Nancy Stevens does another fine job of effective period costuming. George Cook from BC's Robesham Center has supplied an effective sound design of music and sound effects. WST's production is up to their usual standard. The author has supplied a timeline of events in the lives of the Brontes which should be scanned before the show for a fuller understanding of their unique situation and achievements.
"Bronte" by Polly Teale, Jan. 10 - Feb. 3
Wellesley Summer Theatre in Ruth Nagel Jones Theater
Alumni Hall, Wellesley, (781) 283 - 2000 Wellesley Summer Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "See What I Wanna See" by Michael John LaChiusa
Date: Mon, Jan. 8, 12:04 AM

     Versatile Aimee Doherty has had an interesting collection of roles in recent seasons, starting with "Into the Woods" at the New Rep's old Newton digs, one of Bobby's girlfriends in Speakeasy's "Company" then onto the plain heroine of Amimus' "Promises, Promises" opposite her husband, Jeff Mahoney, followed by Evelyn Nesbit in the New Rep's "Ragtime" over in Watertown. This fall she played the youngest member of the "set" in Speakeasy's "The Women" followed by strong ensemble work in their "Bubbly Black Girl..." Now she's front and center as the female lead for Michael John LaChiusa's twin music theatre pieces in "See What I Wanna See" for the Lyric, a show adapted from three short stories by early 20th century Japanese writer, Ryonosuke Akutagawa. Doherty plays the role of the role of Kesa, created by Idina Menzel in the New York production, opposite tenor Andrew Giordano as Morita. A BosCon alum, he's back in town in a leading role this time.
     The duo play a pair of lethal lovers in Noh-like vignettes set in medieval Japan used as preludes for the two longer sections, where they play related roles. The first, more operatic piece, is "R Shamon", another retelling of "In the Grove", set in 1951 New York when Kurosawa's classic version was bursting on the film scene. The second more conventional music drama, a post 9/11 fable about the endtime, is "Gloryday" based on "The Dragon". The two halves are subtly connected, primarily through Brendan McNab's movie theatre janitor who morphs into disillusioned Catholic priest. The other two players are June Babolan as the Medium who becomes the priest's atheist Aunt Monica and Emerson grad Andrew Schufman who first plays a knife-carrying hoodlum named Mako, then a young television reporter. The cast becomes a seamless ensemble under director Stephen Terrell, with Doherty as the central focus in "R Shamon" and McNab as the force behind "Gloryday." in which she plays a rather wasted actress.
    Music director Jonathan Goldberg makes the most of his talented vocalists, with himself at the keyboard, two reeds, and three percussionists. The unit set is an architectural creation reminiscent of origami by Brynna C. Bloomfied backed by the suggestion of the famous gate, expertly lit by Karen Perlow. Costumes were created by Rafael Jaen and capture the three periods of the show. LaChiusa's music, which has touches of Japanese tradition, hovers somewhere between modern chamber opera in the world of Weill, Sondheim, and other more contemporary composers who're expanding the horizon of the musical theatre..

"See What I Wanna See" by Michael John LaChiusa, Jan. 5 - Feb. 3
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon, (617) 585 - 5678 Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Design for Living" by Noel Coward
Date:Mon, Jan. 8, 12:14 AM

     Publick Theatre's indoor debut at the BCA Plaza, Noel Coward's 1932 "Design for Living," is a stylish affair. Having previously tackled "Private Lives", director Spiro Veloudos, leaving Stephen Terrell to helm LaChiusa's"See What I Wanna See" over at the Lyric, has taken on shepherding Susanne Nitter and Diego Arciniegas, the Directors of the Publick, along with Gabriel Kuttner, last summer's Wil Shakspur, through the comic emotional minefield of this Coward classic. The complicated menage a trois of Gilda, Leo and Otto is complimented by Nigel Gore as Gilda's friend then husband Ernest, an essential part of this frothy mix. Beth Gotha as Hodges her housekeeper, Richard Arum, Janelle Mills, Jocelyn Parrrish, a trio of her New York friends, and Paul Melendy complete their world of art and hedonism. The three leads, in parts originally written for the Lunts and the author, slip into their high-class Bohemian roles as if born to play Coward. Nitter is especially impressive in one of Lynn Fontaine's signature roles.
    Costumer Raphael Jaen from Emerson, assisted by Stephanie Cluggish, gives the cast truly elegant tailoring which Harvard's J.Michael Griggs sets off perfectly on a Matisee-inspired set. Upgrades in the furniture mark each act, from a Paris studio, to a comfortable London flat, to an elegant New York penthouse. Both artists use effective palettes, bolstered by Scott Clyve's careful lighting. The BCA's oldest theatre has seldom looked better. And Sir Noel hasn't been better served.
“Design for Living” by Noel Coward, Jan 4 - Jan. 27 Publick Theatre. in Plaza Theatre, BCA
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Publick Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Bombs & Manifestos" by Brian Polak
Date: 7 January 2007

     Seen in part at last Spring's "FeverFest 2006," this dramatic monologue, addressed to the audience in the style of "Thom Pain..." is coming along but still needs a meaningful conclusion or at least a stronger crescendo. Steve Johnson as "BB"does yeoman duty getting through "Bombs & Manifestos" , an hour long piece broken into about half a dozen episodes. Brian Polak, the author, gets a bit of the sense of last year's group piece "PS Page Me Later" which was constructed from "found" texts. Daniel Bourque directs the piece cleanly and makes the most of Johnson's slightly crazed appearance. The actions is also segmented by Jeff Stern's videos which are mostly abstracted shots taken in the subway. Kelly Fitzpatricks's set provides a similarly abstracted sense of being "down under" bolstered by John Tibbetts sound design. Anyone who sees this piece over the next several weeks won't look at the less talented subway musicians the same way again.

"Bombs & Manifestos" by Brian Polak, Jan.5 - 20
Alarm Clock at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600
Alarm Clock Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”Xmas Week" by Suzan-Lori Parks
Date: Sun, Dec. 31, 3:44 PM
Quicktake on XMAS WEEK 365

    After all the build-up, this example of Park’s recent year-long playwriting effort was rather underwhelming. TheatreZone’s diverse cadre was enthusiastic and interesting to watch in an hour-long effort that preceded their pre-New Years party. The nine pieces done had echoes of Beckett and Shepard, with a touch of Wilson in “The Key.” The show was engaging if rather trivial as 20 some actors danced their way through scene changes. Perhaps when the cross country presentations of these "weeks" is over, the author and one of her directors can get together and extract at least one coherent evening of theatre from these rough notes.
    Other companies will be trying other “weeks” worth of writing later in 2007 and Parks herself will be at MIT during the Spring semester. The best news of the evening was that construction of an elevator to reach TheatreZone’s third-floor hall is under way. Now if something could be done about public transportation and parking they’d be all set.
"Xmas Week/365" by Suzan-Lori Parksr, Sat. Dec.30, 2006
TheatreZone at Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St. Chelsea, (617) 887 - 2366
< A Href=”http://www.theatrezone.org/”>TheatreZone

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde
Date: Wed, Dec 27, 11:04 PM

     The easiest description of Ridiculusmus' "The Importance of Being Earnest," a slight reduction of Oscar Wilde's most popular play, is too clever by half. The comic duo of David Woods and Jon Haynes play all nine characters in the farce, using costume and voice changes which become fragmented as the play picks up pace and the farce heads for its coincidence-filled conclusion. The most obvious laughs result from costume incongruities though Wilde's famous epigrams win their share. Audience members familiar with the play will get the most out of this bravura performance, but probably won't see it as the social satire director Jude Kelly, OBE, and Ridiculusmus hoped to create for their British audience. Americans have always found the antics of Ernest Worthing and Algernon Moncrief risible but distant.
    The production is however a solid entertainment even though the joke wears thin from time to time given the necessary hiatuses created by costume and scenery changes. The set has a jumble shop air with props kept on shelves at the back and anachronistic touches like a fridge hidden in the credenza and a music system which the actors ostensibly control using a remote to provide dramatic background. The acting is generally broad, on par with Monty Python, which keeps the focus on the trivial, certainly the author's original intent. The play has survived for more than a century not because of its deep analysis of Victorian mores, but its universal silliness. "The Importance of Being Earnest" is first and foremost farce, focusing on human fallibility, which comic writers have been puncturing for at least 2500 years.
"The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde, Dec.21 - Jan.14
Ridiculusmus at ART, Loeb Stage
64 Brattle St, Harvard Sq. (617) 547 - 8300
American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Inspecting Carol" by Dan Sullivan and the Seattle Rep
Date: Thurs, Dec 21, 11:00 PM

     When Dan Sullivan and the Seattle Rep created "Inspecting Carol" back before the turn of this century from a collision between an annual production of the Dickens' classic and Gogol's political farce "The Inspector General," the resulting satire had personal meaning to the company and their audience. Productions since have had varying success; the Lyric Stage ran it a few seasons ago for the holidays and got a lot of laughs but made little impact. The show's since moved onto the community theatre stage where it will no doubt last a few years longer. Zero Point's current revival, running this weekend and next at Durrell Hall is in that class, and unfortunately not near the top.
    The enthusiastic cast fills the roles unevenly, with Michael Aveller coming closest to the mark as Wayne, the computer geek who wanders in for an audition and is mistaken for a dreaded NEA inspector. Michael Di Loreto as MJ the put-upon stage manager is also well-cast. The rest of Emil Kreymer's motley crew are only fitfully believable and occasionally unintelligible. The show isn't helped by a sparse setting and uncoordinated costumery. Zero Point previous revivals have included "The Dinner Party" and "Moonchildren" with some of the same actors, but these experiences haven't yet generated the sense of ensemble needed for this complicated comedy. "Inspecting Carol" operates on several levels and styles of humor. The show's more of a challenge than it may first appear.

"Inspecting Carol" by Dan Sullivan & Seattle Rep, Dec. 21 - Dec.30
Zero Point at Durrell Hall
Camb YMCA, 820 Mass. Ave, Central Sq. / www.theatremania.com Zero Point Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Santaland Diaries" by David Sedaris, adapted by Joe Mantello
Date: Wed, Dec 20, 10:18 PM

     Channeling his inner elf once again, John Kuntz has returned to "The Santaland Diaries" by David Sedaris, heard now and again on NPR. Wesley Savick directed this current run of Joe Mantello's adaptation in the New Rep's Downstage black box theatre. The program starts with two short pieces by Kuntz, first a riff on the presents from the "12 Days"--in a two room flat, followed by an interpretive "dance" audition-piece based on Dickens' three ghosts requiring audience participation. The action is backed by a large mural of St. Nick's whiskers, the centerpiece of Cristina Tedesco's design. Molly Trainer supplied John's elf uniform.
    Kuntz's approach to the piece employs his range of quick characterizations, but develops a strong central voice for the aspiring soap opera actor at the center of it all. "The Santaland Diaries" skewers the commercial excess of season while retaining a whiff of nostalgia for its essential charm. Extra late night shows have been added due to demand for tickets. Contact the New Rep for details. The next program in the company's second space will be a series of New Voices play readings at the end of January into February.

"Santaland Diaries" by David Sedaris, Dec. 20 - Dec.31
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts, Black Box
321 Arsenal, Watertown, (617) 921 - 8487 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol"" adapted by Rick Lombardo
Date: Thur, Dec 14, 10:40 PM
Quicktake on CHARLES DICKENS' CHRISTMAS CAROL season, and Scrooge, played by Paul Falwell, is back on stage for the second year at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. Rick Lombardo's adaptation holds up quite well to a second viewing with its combination of professional actors and children's theatre kids, all singing to move the show along, and in the current fashion, providing their own accompaniment. Anna Lackaff's arrangements of the music chosen suit the performers, including the beginners among the kids.
     A number of current productions have a single narrator, often a grown up version of Tiny Tim, though Bob Cratchit and even Ebenezer himself have had their say. Lombardo's version uses successive narration in a story theatre style, emphasizing the author's words and moral indignation. Most of the cast from last year's premiere have returned, starting with Steven Barkhimer whose main role is The Ghost of Christmas Present. Brett Cramp is once again a gangly Cratchit, heartbreaking in a scene singing to his dead little one, while a monstrous puppet of Christmas Future looms over his family. Christmas Past is again a very fey Ilyse Robbins, the show's choreographer. Boscon opera grad Dawn Tucker has replaced Leigh Barrett as Mrs. Cratchit, since the latter is performing in Reagle's suburban holiday extravaganza this year. Opera singer Patrice Tiedman provides another soaring voice in the chorus and plays Mrs. Fezziwig. Returning men include a very ghostly Peter Edmund Haydu as Jacob Marley, Eric Hamel notable as Topper the perennial bachelor, and Terrence O'Malley as oratorical Fred, Scrooge's nephew. Cristi Miles is back as Belle among other roles. And Tiny Tim this year is Spencer Evett, the third generation of that clan on the Boston stage.     This production may start to grow in successive years; Peter Colao rough hewn set is very flexible and John Malinowski's lighting provides considerable variety and effects. There are room for a few more street urchins and characters, though the concept of a group of performers telling Dickens' immortal tale is very well executed as is. The New Rep is providing an alternative however. Starting Dec. 21, local favorite John Kuntz is reviving David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" in the Art Center's intimate Black Box through the 31st. Seating needless to say is limited.
"Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol"" adapted by Rick Lombardo, Dec. 10 - 24
New Rep & Watertown Children's Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown MA, (617) 923 - 8487 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Onion Cellar" by Amanda Palmer, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Marcus Stern et al
Date: Wed, Dec 13, 10:20 PM

     With a title inspired by a mention in chapter 42 of 1999 Nobel Prize winner Gunter Grass' fable "The Tin Drum" and some creative differences during its creation, the American Repertory Theatre opened Amanda Palmer's "The Onion Cellar" in their flexible space at Zero Arrow St. This time this large black box space is set up as a cabaret with tables and a bar along the side serving beer and wine at the usual prices. A large circular array of lights hangs over stage against one wall. Opposite the stage the wall above the audience is covered with memorabilia. The conceit is that "Shmuh's Onion Cellar" is an establishment where patrons chop onions for themselves to release tears they've been holding back. Several interlocking family tales, created with the help of a cast made up from ART veterans and Institute students, are revealed between songs written and musical numbers written and performed by Palmer and her partner, Brian Viglione. The musicians play themselves with younger doubles from the ensemble.
     Both Karen MacDonald and Thomas Derrah appear in dual roles. MacDonald is the Mother of the Girl in Blue, who died in a car crash after her prom. Derrah is a probable Lunatic in a gray suit bound in wide white tape with a phone handset taped to his head. The pair also play the Louvers, a childless older couple from Wisconsin who've driven their RV to Cambridge to visit their nephew who attends Harvard. Jeremy Geidt is the Father quietly drinking himself into oblivion. Remo Airaldi is the MC for the cabaret who tells of his childhood and mimes to an aria sung by Caruso near the end of the show. The program doesn't identify individual roles, but two students appear as both Onion Boy and Mute Girl, two peculiar lovers, as well as the Girl in the Bear Suit and her friend, both of whom tend bar. Kristen Frazier is the daughter. The ensemble includes Claire Elizabeth Davies, Brian Farish, Merrit Janson, and Neil P. Stewart. The final show was directed by Marcus Stern, Associate Director at the ART, who teaches at Harvard, the Institute, and Harvard Extension.
    The 90 minute show is somewhere between a club concert, a theatrical collage, and an incipient rock album. The Dresden Dolls are frequently billed as Brechtian Punk Cabaret, and their often loud alternative rock sound can definitely alienate members of the audience from each other. Earplugs are available on request. Palmer's "Onion Cellar" performed at the opening sets out a premise, but the piece which best catches their essence is "Coin Operated Boy". Her lyrics when audible show flashes of wit. Viglione gets an impressive drum solo late in the show which lasts a bit too long. Of the various routines in the collage, MacDonald and Derrah's "Louvers" are the audience favorites. The show's theme of love and loss, which is of course universal, is only obliquely explored and hardly revelatory. Of the ART's two shows adapted from other mediums currently playing ("Wings of Desire" closes this Sunday), the earnestness of "The Onion Cellar" seems preferable.
"The Onion Cellar" by Amanda Palmer, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Marcus Stern et al, Dec.9 - Jan. 13
ART in Zero Arrow St.
Arrow & Mass. Ave, Harvard Sq. (617) 547 - 8300 ART

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "On Ego" by Mike Gordon & Paul Broks
Date: Tues, Dec 5,
Quicktake on ON EGO

     The latest reading of from MIT's Catalyst Collaborative was a drama based on an intriguing question. "How does meat become mind?" How does the complex collection of neurons which make up the brain and the nervous system develop a sense of awareness? The science fiction premise of the play and the relationship between its characters moves it well beyond dry theory. A neurologist who firmly believes that the ego is merely a fiction is participating in teleportation experiments with his physicist father-in-law. During a demonstration, something goes wrong. Instead of his original body being vaporized in the process, a duplicate is created on the other end where he's meeting his wife for an anniversary. To complicate matters, his wife has just been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor which is robbing her of portions of her memory. Protocol demands that the original, which is indistinguishable from the new copy, be destroyed.
     The cast was two founders of the Underground Railway Theater, Alice the wife, played by their artistic director, Debra Wise, and Derek, Alice's father, played by former artistic director, Wes Sanders. The neurologist was played by Stephen Russell, seen with various local companies including WHAT where he produces WHAT for Kids! The production was directed by Jon Lipsky, artistic associate at the Vineyard Playhouse and professor of theatre at BU. The script, called a "theatrical essay" by London playwright, Mick Gordon, was written in conjunction British neurologist Paul Broks, whose nonfiction work "Into the Silent Land" was the play's starting point. A complex multimedia piece as well, the play is still in development.

"On Ego" by Mike Gordon & Paul Broks, Dec. 4-5
MITA & Underground Railway at Rm 10-250 & Durrell Hall, Camb YMCA
(781) 643 - 6916 URT
MIT Office of the Arts

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures" by Carl A. Rossi
adapted from Douglass William Jerrold, a columnist for the magazine, Punch
Date: Sun, Dec 3, 11:46 PM

     This adaptation by Carl Rossi of Victorian humorist Douglass William Jerrold's popular series, what Mrs. Caudle, a middleclass London housewife, said to her husband before they went to sleep at night, is an effective monodrama. He has edited some 20 of them, shortening them effectively, providing a comic arc for the incessant concerns of the title character. Joseph Zampereli, Jr. directed a one-night only staged reading of the piece at Boston Playwrights' for the Delvena Theatre.
     Lynne Moulton was a redoubtable Mrs. Caudle, taking a taciturn Mr. Caudle, played by a silent Rick Park, to task for everything from loaning a friend his umbrella to the prospect of her mother moving in with them. Narration identifying each lecture was supplied by Hugh Metzler with stage directions given by Justine Curley. These two figures could well have more to say as the script develops. At present it provides a short pleasant glance at a bygone era, not all that different from more conservative aspects of our own. In the right setting, "Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures" could play very well for the historical crowd.

"Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures" by Carl Rossi, Dec.3
Delvena Theatre Co. at Boston Playwrights Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston Boston Playwrights'

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Nickel and Dimed" by Joan Holden
adapted from Barbara Ehrenreich's novel
Date: Sun, Dec 3, 5:59 PM

     When this dramatization played at Trinity in 2003 it was questioned as being to focussed on the travails of the author of the original book. Susan Lombardi - Verticelli plays Barbara very matter of factly, which helps shift attention to the workers who are of more interest. Director Megan Orwig has assembled an ensemble of five versatile actors to play the staff of a “Kenny’s” Restaurant in Key West FL, a team of “Magic Maids” in Portland ME, and associates at MallMart in Minneapolis. Ehrenreich's conclusion is remains true; you can’t make a living on minimum wage., especially when Social services are less than adequate, especially for women. These “workers” in alphabetical order are Jordan Harrison—the only guy—Jackie Heath, Ellen Lokos, Danielle Muehlenbein, and Donna Spurlock.
     South City has as part of its mission to provoke the intellect and inspire change in the human condition. Joan Holden’s adaptation, which was done for the San Francisco Mime Troupe, has the same goal. Unfortunately, there’s no prescription in either the original book or this staging to suggest how the working poor, subjected to “repetitive stress of the spirit,” can really effect change. And even if the new Congress raises the minimum wage, too little too late, very little will change , particularly as the cost of the situation in the Middle East comes due. But maybe “Nickel & Dimed” will make a few people better tippers and refold merchandise at Target.
"Nickel and Dimed" by Joan Holden, Dec. 1 - Dec. 17
South City Theatre at Devanaughn
back of Piano Factory, (781) 874 - 9831 South City

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Christmas Story" by Philip Grecian
based on Jean Sheperd's 1983 film and other tales
Date: Sat. Dec. 2, 11:13 PM

     Philip Grecian's stage adaptation in 2000 of radio humorist Jean Sheperd's 1983 film, "A Christmas Story" has become a community theatre staple in the last few years. The Stoneham Theatre's second professional production, directed this year by veteran Massachusetts director and playwright Jack Neary, has a depth and timing that can be difficult to achieve. It also boasts a different cast from last year, headed by Robert D. Murphy who's been widely seen around the area as The Old Man with Derek Santos, from Stoneham's Young Company Summer Program, as his son, Ralphie, the third grader who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Lisa Tucker, a founding member of Beau Jest who was seen last season in "A Prayer for Owen Meany", is Mother. Seven year old Evan Robinson-Johnson completes the Parker family as Randy, the little brother who likes to hide.
     All the other adults in the show are played by Penny Benson, who appears as Miss Shields and the Department Store Elf, and Michael G. Dell'Orto who plays Santa, the Xmas tree salesman, the Prize Deliveryman, and Black Bart. The narration is handled by Mark S. Cartier, who brings a mature quality to the role of Ralph, the grownup writer. The rest of the kids include Zach Camenker as Scut the bully, Adam Fisher as Flick whose tongue gets frozen, Khalil Fleming as Schwartz, Ralphie friend, Gillian Gordon as Helen the smart girl and Rebecca Stevens as Esther Jane who likes Ralphie. Neary puts this talented crew through their paces and myriad costume changes on a two level set by Audra Avery. The forties period clothes were collected by Molly Trainer. Sheperd's functional if slightly eccentric family still resonates as real, even half a century past the period of the play. Parents and kids will enjoy it will enjoy it.
"A Christmas Story" by Philip Grecian, Nov. 25 - Dec. 23
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Date: Sat, Dec 1, 11:32 PM

     Practice makes perfect. Sometimes going back to an original concept does too. This year, North Shore Music Theatre's Artistic Director, Jon Kimbell, has taken the helm of their perennial seasonal show he helped create eighteen years ago. He's carefully reduced some of the extras added to "A Christmas Carol - A Musical Ghost Story" in recent years, and retained some old favorites. IRNE winner David Coffee returns as the area's most lovable Scrooge, IRNE winner Cheryl McMahon is once again his Cockney housekeeper, and Tom Staggs still soars overhead as the ghost of Jacob Marley.
     The score based on traditional carols and songs has been tightened by music director Brian Cimmet, and only drops the "Pig" song from the final Stave. There's less DayGlo and a somber scary Ghost of Christmas Future played by Richard Gallagher, who also plays Young Scrooge. Robert Jason Jackson seen at the Huntington last season as Holofernes and on Broadway in "Aida" is a new towering Ghost of Christmas Present--still on stilts--and Teri Dale Hansen is a new Ghost of Christmas Past and Mrs, Cratchit. The show is narrated by Erik Grafton as grown up Timothy Cratchit, in shirtsleeves, and Australian Benjamin Howes, seen Off-Broadway in [title of the show] is Bob Cratchit. Mark Aldrich is back for a second year as Scrooge's nephew Fred and Briga Heelan, who started with NSMT's Youth Academy, plays both Fred's new wife Meg and young Scrooge's lost love Belle.
    There's a bit more fog in old London Town, but the setting is much the same as previous productions.. The musician are again spread between two raised platforms and a visible pit. The ensemble is strong and the opening number includes the children of the company playing handbells. All in all the production emphasizes the humanity of the people in Dicken's story and gets the audience singing along with the curtain call's "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Dates
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverly, MA , (978) 232-7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Wings of Desire" filmscript by Wim Wenders & Peter Handke
adapted by Gideon Lester & Dirkje Houtman
Date: Wed, Nov. 29, 10:43 PM
Quicktake on WINGS OF DESIRE

     Regular patrons of the ART won't be surprised to be sitting through another theatrical collage,again an effort with international overtones. In 100 minutes the ART and Toneelgroep Amsterdam wrestle with a disjointed adaptaion of the filmscript for Wim Wenders' 1987 film classic "Der Himmel uber Berlin" (released internationAlly as "Wings of Desire"). The show opens with two immortal beings aka "angels" atop a canteen trailer at an outdoor cafe, somewhere. Fine sand drifts down from the flies in thin streams, indicating the passage of eternity. Mam Smith, a fine aerilaist, periodically soars above the scene, much more angelic than the show's two angels dressed in black and white formal wear. Periodically, actors playing characters address the audience. The only one who really makes contact is Stephen Payne, playing the role of a former angel done by Peter Falk in the original film. Loud rock music played live by Jesse Lenat and Hadewych Minis adds to the mix, especially as the action winds up. (Ear plugs might be a good idea.)
     The production is an interesting set of glosses on the subject, but as live theatre, "Wings of Desire" just doesn't add up. There are a few memorable moments, but the text might as well have been done in Dutch most of the time, perhaps with the odd surtitle. Robin Young's presence as The Newsreader adds little except brief local recognition. The ideas behind the adaptation have potential but lack of follow-through, of any real attempt to deal with the diviseness in today's world, make for sterile theatrical experimentalism. It's as if every "why don't we?" though of during its creation was tossed in, like the colorful furniture in the finale, without ever asking "Why?"

"Wings of Desire" by Wenders & Handke, Nov. 25 - Dec. 17
American Repertory Theatre & Toneelgroep Amsterdam at the Loeb
64 Brattle St, Harvard Sq. (617) 547 - 8300 American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant" by Kyle Jarrow
Date: Sunday, November 26, 2006, 10:44 PM

     As a critique of the Church of Scientology, Kyle Jarrow's parody of a children's holiday pageant is relatively mild and probably funnier to those who've had a brush with this 20th Century attempt to emulate a 19th century predecessor, Christian Science. "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant", which got an Obie in 2003, is a rather weak brew compared to the overwrought accusations found on various websites. But as an hour long amusement performed by nine local youngsters, AVMUSCSP does suggest how contemporary religion continues to indoctrinate the young or alternatively turns its practitioners into children, sometimes with disastrous results.
    The set for the show by Jenna MacFarland-Lord uses cardboard cutouts like those kids produce for middle-school productions with a set of hired risers suggesting the same sort of atmosphere. Costumes by Laura Perrault are very basic, mostly choir robes, but include a cardboard box robot. Music director Jose Delgado, who's next door doing Speakeasy's "Bubbly Brown Girl..." has gotten the young cast to sing out along with a taped score with the same sort of synthetic pop quality as those operations like Disney distribute for their "kids" shows. Nathan Leigh did the orchestrations and sound design. At worst, AVMUSCSP is a piece of offbeat silliness for the holidays.
"A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant" by Kyle Jarrow, Nov. 24 - Dec. 16
Boston Theatre Works in Plaza Theatre
BCA , 539 Tremont (617) 933 - 8600 Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Exceptions to Gravity" by Avner the Eccentric
Date: Sun, Nov 26, 6:43 PM

     If there’s any show for the holiday season that can be described as pure entertainment, the current edition of Avner the Eccentric’s collection of timeless comic routines fills that bill. Suitable for all ages, combining slapstick humor, mime, audience interaction, disceptively simple magic, and an unique attitude, this 90 minute perambulation is an interesting contrast to the intense one woman show which just closed at the Lyric. Predictably unpredictable, every new stunt seems to grow organically from Avner’s persona, a serious clown, not so much sad as put upon by reality. What’s coming next is unclear, but it will be funny. See it soon, then take some friends and see it again.
"Exceptions to Gravity" by Avner Eisenberg, Nov. 24 - Dec.23
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon (617) 585 -5678 Lyric Stage

Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2006 19:03:36 +0000 From: edwinb314@comcast.net
Subject: Staff Happens

Dear Larry,
You probably ( I hope) have heard about the extension of this play at the BCA and the great reception it has had. Let me add my voice of encouragement to get out as many people as possible to see it. Required attendance in anticipation oof the 2008 elections!! Regards,
Edwin F. Beschler

Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 02:35:21 +0000
From: ngundy@comcast.net (Nathaniel Gundy)
Subject: Quick Take on Stuff Happens

Oftentimes I wonder whether theater has any real power to shape the world or even a society. Even great works, I think, generally just provide us with escape from our present world and maybe a little reflection on the side.

David Hare's Stuff Happens, on the other hand, drags us kicking and screaming into our present world, sits us down and makes us listen. Which may be one of the reasons there aren't many productions of it currently playing. Boston can be that proud Zeitgeist Stage (www.zeitgeiststage.com) is among the first handful of companies in the world to mount it. This is relevant theater, and the fact that it's masterfully crafted and hugely entertaining (great design, great cast) is almost incidental. If you're fuzzy on how we got into Iraq (which many of us are), this is a stunning chronicle. And even if you know all the facts, seeing them lived out before you will kill stone dead any world-weariness or apathy you may have understandably developed.

Real people are presented on stage making real decisions. And at the end of the play, the real people in the audience have some real decisions of their own to make.

The show has been extended through December 2nd. It plays at the BCA Black Box. Go see it and make history.
Nathaniel Gundy

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Bubbly Brown Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin"
book, music & lyrics by Kirsten Childs
Date: Sunday, Nov 19, 6:40 PM

     Kirsten Child’s semi-autobiographical show, "The Bubbly Brown Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin," is successful 100 minute entertainment. In tracing how one ambitious black girl from LA makes it in NY, the script doesn’t break much new ground, but it does provide suggest that be yourself requires admitting who you are. Under Jacqui Parker’s steadying hand, Boscon Junior Stephanie Umoh, who appeared in “Ragtime” at the new Rep carries the show quite convincingly. from its slow start to a somewhat sentimental conclusion. The ensemble, which includes Anich D'Jae seen in "Caroline...", Aimee Doherty seen in Animus' "Promises, ...", IRNE winner Brian Richard Robinson, John King from "Kiss of..." and peripetatic Jackie Comisar, sings and dances through some thirty numbers which makes for a fast paced show with a lot of costume changes. Eric Levenson’s set is simple and effective. Seth Bodie’s costumes catch the show’s periods from the early ‘60s through the ‘80s. Music director Jose Delgado does justice to Childs’ workmanlike tunes. The show’s message should be appropriate to the approaching season.
"The Bubbly Brown Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin", Nov. 17 - Dec. 9
Speakeasy Stage Co. in Roberts Studio
BCA Calderwood (617) 933-8600 Speakeasy

Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2006 02:39:55 -0500
From: Ed & Charlotte Peed peeds@comcast.net
Subject: Quick take on "Stuff Happens"

The recent extension of Zeitgeist's "Stuff Happens" gives everyone who hasn't yet seen it the opportunity to go to one of the best shows running in town. In turns maddening, frustrating, hilarious and moving, it's a masterful marshalling of some wonderful talent. Breaking the rules (white set, some lights on the audience), the tight direction of this nearly 3 hour piece flies by in what seems like half that time. As angry and dumbfounded as the subject matter often made me, that Miller touch left me in tears at the end. GO SEE IT!

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Rapture Project" by Great Small Works
Date: Thur, Nov 16, 11:07 PM

     The Obie winning troupe, Great Small Works, is having a short run this week at the Charlestown Working Theatre. Company members, John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin and Jenny Romaine, joined by Shane Baker, Andrea Lomato and Jessica Lorence, with original music composed and performed by Jessica Lurie, present "The Rapture Project." This political satire/fantasy is performed using Sicilian-style marionettes made by the members and Marsha Gildin with interludes by the troupe in costume. As usual, Great Small Works material is drawn from the current political situation set in its historical context. The storyline follows fundamentalist Christians pursued by Beelezbub and a prominent feminist critic as they journey the Middle East, with a puppet version of the Final Battle with traditional results. The show will run in NYC at the HERE Arts Center in Manhattan for three weeks in January.
     This production's not a kids show. But John Bell and Trudi Cohen, and their son Isacc, will perform "Lyzer the Miser", seen at last June's Cambridge River Festival, and "Our Kitchen", a toy theatre piece which results in pancakes at 2pm on the 18th & the 19th for younger audiences. "The Rapture Project" mixes humor, mysticism, and the continuing disaster of the crusader mentality in an oblique look at today's religious strife. It has a folk art feel combined with sophisticated 20th century graphics. Ir's effectively bizarre.
"The Rapture Project" by Great Small Works, Nov.16 -18
Great Small Works at Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Ave, Charlestown (617) 242 - 8285 CWT

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Mother of All Enemies" by Paul Zaloom
Date: Thurs, Nov 9, 11:16 PM

     He's back. Paul Zaloom, aka Beakman, or the Ringmaster from Bread & Puppets legendary summer Circus, is also back to his roots, using the traditional Karagoz shadow puppet show for his latest political satire. Those who caught his last touring extravaganza "Velvetville", an attack on junk culture, may find this fable in the folk tradition easier to take in. With direction from Randee Trabitz and puppets made by Lynn Jefferies, Zaloom uses his sarcastic insights to creat a whirlwind tour of today's turbulent world. Definitely not for kids, (he's did two Beakman shows for them last weekend), his hero sets off to find a place where he can marry has friend, Henry, and adopt some kids. The show, which premiered at the Orlando Puppet Festival in 2004, is quite tourable, and will no doubt evolve as social concerns continue to stew. It was interesting to watch the day after The Election, at the same time the marriage debate was being "recessed" up at the State House. The performer's breezy style is definitely on a roll. Watch for an independent "puppet" film of "Faust" he's got coming out.

"Mother of All Enemies" by Paul Zaloom, Nov.8 - 11
Out on the Edge, Theatre Offensive at Roberts Studio
BCA Calderwood, 529 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Theatre Offensive

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Rabbit Hole" by David Lindsay-Abaire
Date:Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Quicktake on RABBIT HOLE

     There's no White Rabbit in David Lindsay-Abaire's "Rabbit Hole" or any of the fantasy audiences have come to expect from the author of "Fuddy Meers,", "Wonder of the World," or "Kimberly Akimbo." There is, however, the same insightful view of human nature, this time at a suburban housewife and her stock broker husband try to come to grips with the loss of their four-year old son. Of course, her younger sister, Izzy (short for Isabel) opens the play by telling her that she's pregnant by a "real" musician, her tipsy mother can't forget her brother who died of a heroine overdose, and her husband misses the dog. The setting is realistic, all their actions are predictable, though Becca, the heroine, played by Donna Bullock, does punch a woman in the supermarket. That unfortunate was ignoring her own child. Geneva Carr's Izzy is not as flighty as her wardrobe would suggest, and Maureen Anderman as their Natalie has unexpected depths. Even Howie, the husband, played by Jordan Lage, starts to relate to his wife on a more hopeful level by the end of the evening. It's a play, like most of the author's work,that works up slowly to its point, this time with far fewer mirrors and almost no smoke.
     Predictably, the setting by James Noone is a monument to stagecraft, with three meticulous interiors that roll on and off. A two level unit set would have been less distracting and possibly more evocative. John Tillinger's low-key directing, and the cast's contemporary ensemble style are sufficient to establish the characters and their situation. The interior decoration is extraneous. Costumes, props, lighting, and sound are firstrate and more appropriate. Bullock leads the show with the same kind of detailed work that won Cynthia Nixon a Tony for her role. We know her and the rest of the cast quite well by the end of the play; where they've been, what they are, and where they might be going. Lindsay-Abaire's used everyday elements to tell a simple and moving tale, ending not with "happily ever after," but "they lived."
"Rabbit Hole" by David Lindsay-Abaire, Nov.3 - Dec.3
Huntington Theatre Co. at B.U.Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Urinetown" by Mark Hollman & Greg Kotis
Date: Fri, Nov 3, 12:12 AM

     If you've avoided this musical satire for one reason or another, the current production at Beatrice Hereford's Vokes Playhouse out in Wayland on Rt. 20 would be a good place to catch what's become one of the most produced musicals across the country--if you can get a ticket. The Newton Country Player's just had a success with Tony winner "Urinetown" over at Lasell, the Lyric opened last year's season with it, and Newton South High's doing the show in the spring.
     Directed by Donnie Baillargeon, the show gets off to a good start with Vokes' stalwart David Berti as Officer Lockstock the narrator and his sidekick Little Sally the urchin, done by Peri Chouteau. The ensemble is in fine voice, the story which centers around a public revolt against having to pay to pee rings ludicrously true. The music and lyrics by Mark Hollman start off with echoes of Brecht and Weill and evolve into a sendup of contemporary musical theatre. The love story between Bobby Strong public facility attendant, sung by Kendall Hodder, and Hope Cladwell daughter of the urinal magnate, sung by Sarah Consentino, pushes all the right buttons. Supporting roles such as Lockstock's partner, Officer Barrel and Penelope Pennywise, Bobby's boss, done by Bill Stambaugh and Janet Ferreri are edgy. Ferreri's opening number, "It's a Privilege to Pee" sets the tone for the evening. The energetic ensemble, who play both the downtrodden masses and Cladwell's flunkies, have moments to shine, like Mark Soucy's demented thug, Hot Blades Harry.
    Steven McGonagle has done another outstanding set for the company with echoes of the original, Mario Cruz conducts the small musical ensemble--out of sight in this production--with the required flair, and Jennifer Condon's choreography sends up all the usual suspects, from Robbins to Fosse to Twarp. It's a goodtime show with serious digs at the potential disaster of overpopulation, depletion of resources, and public indifference. Or as author Greg Kotis, trained in political economy, ends the show, "Hail Malthus."
"Urinetown" by Mark Hollman & Greg Kotis, Oct. 26 - Nov. 17(shows added)
Vokes Players at Vokes Theater
RT.20, Wayland (508) 358 - 4034 Vokes Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "All This Flying, All This Tumbling Down" by Dario Fo & Franca Rame
Date: Thurs, Nov 2, 1:02 AM

     Works by Nobel Laureate Dario Fo have been scarce on the American Stage since his injudicious remarks made after 9/11. Whistler in the Dark, who've previously been seen mostly at the Charlestown Working Theatre, have prepared four monodramas by the old clown and his wife/partner, Franca Rame, and taken them on the road. They're performing in various venues in Boston and Cambridge. The translations are by Gillian Hanna and Amy Nora Long. Meg Taintor directs three actors, two seen previously with Whistler in the Dark, Lorna McKenzie and Jennifer O'Connor, and Nikki Carroll, an Aussie who toured last year for Shakespeare & Co. Each woman does one solo piece, the trio combines for the final piece, "All Women Have the Same Story," a surrealistic fairy tale.
     The first monodrama, "Rise and Shine" features O'Carroll as a woman so frazzled by work, an infant, and an inconsiderate husband that she feels she's going mad as she hurries to get ready for work. The second, "A Woman Alone" is an entire domestic melodrama with Lorna McKenzie, really going mad cooped up in her apartment with a crying baby and an invalid brother-in-law, being stared at by a pervert with binoculars, badgered by obscene phone calls, and pursued by an unwanted lover. Jennifer O'Connor is "Alice in Wonderless Land" succumbing to temptations and the modern world in ways which have made Lewis Carroll faint. Costumes are mainly lingerie and few accouterments chosen by Kelly Leigh David, the set is two translucent screen which can be used for shadows, and the interlude sounds are a danceable mixtrack. The show works surprisingly well in the informal atmosphere of a nightspot. Fo would approve. Be sure to check the group's website for directions to venues and any schedule changes. The tour wraps up Friday the 10th at the Charlestown Working Theatre.
"All This Flying, All This Tumbling Down" by Dario Fo & Franca Rame, Oct.24 - Nov. 9
Whistler in the Dark at Charles Playhouse Lounge, Midway Cafe (JP), Zeigeist (Camb), Art&Soul (Camb.), The Vault(Lynn Arts), and Charlestown WT
check website for directions; (866) 811- 4111
Whistler In The Dark

Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 14:59:40 -0500
From: Eva Ng eywn@comcast.net
Subject: "Stuff Happens" Quick Take
" Stuff Happens" The play!

I just saw the Zeitgeist production of "Stuff Happens" at the Boston Center for the Arts. It is an extremely timely production and an excellent play.

The play is a historical account of how we got ourselves into the Iraq mess, using actual public statements (plus imaginary closed door conversations). In particular, it illustrates how people got drawn in whom you would think would know better. The heart of it is about the exercise of power, those seduced by the proximity of power, and those conditioned to defer to power. Unavoidably, you experience the danger of insularity in power. Both Colin Powell and Tony Blair are portrayed as sympathetic and somewhat tragic characters.

Various features stand out. The dialogue is sharp and fast, the power play subtle and transparent all at once. The play is staged in a very intimate theater, with a large ensemble cast. This intimacy gives the viewer a sense of immediacy, the feeling of viewing large events close up, and is very effective. It costs $30 but is definitely worth the money. I hope you all go see it as soon as possible.
More details at: www.zeitgeiststage.com
Eva Ng

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Holes" by Louis Sachar
Date: Saturday, Oct 28, 6:12 PM
Quicktake on HOLES

     Fans of Louis Sachar popular juvenile adventure will enjoy seeing such colorful characters as X-Ray, Armpit. ZigZag, and Zero brought to life. Fan’s of the author’s movie adaptation will recognize the script, which is largely a sage adaptation of his screenplay. There in lies some difficulty for those coming to the tale for the first time. The action is fast and furious as it gets the hero, Stanley Yelnats IV, wrongly accused of theft, from juvenile court to Camp Green Lake, a sinister private rehabiltation facility in the desert. The program is to dig a large hole everyday for no apparent reason. Armando-Carlos Gonzalez, seen last year about this time of year in “The Lord of the Flies.” His best friend, Hector Zeroni, aka Zero, is played by Dan Reulbach, also in “...Flies.” The core of the show is fellow WFT students, including Cyrus Akeem Brooks, Nicholas Carter, Shauday Johnson- Jones, David M. Kalm, and Tadesh Inagaki. The adult, mostly Equity cast includes Whitney Avalon as Kissing Kate Barlow, WST regular Shelley Bolman as Mr. Pendanski. Neil Gustafson as Mr.Sir. Monique Nichole McIntyre, Ed Peed as the Sheriff, Marina Re as the mysterious Warden, Darius Omar Williams as Onion Sam, and WST General Manager Jane Staab is madame Zeroni, whose curse on Stanley’s pig-stealing great great grandfather just may be the reason for his troubles. Additional grown-ups include tall Kevin Ashworth as nasty Trout Walker, Wheelock grad Chris Burcato as Stanley’s dad (III) and Rydia Q. Vielehr as Zero’s mom. Most double in other small roles as well. It’s a really big show.
     Director Susan Kosoff, WST’s producer keeps the fragmented action moving, but the result isn’t especially dramatic. Sachar’s dilemma in creating this script was to continue an already successful franchise. He might have been advised to let a more skilled playwright adapt his work to make it less linear, to make the melodrama more consistent, getting all the plot elements better foreshadowed in the first half. The result is still engaging most of the time, though Danila Korogodsky’s modernist unit set somewhat overdoes the “hole” motif and doesn’t capture the feeling of the desert very well. It’s still far better family entertainment than the expensive arena shows which blow into the Wang or the Paramount Opera House.
"Holes" by Louis Sachar, Oct.27 - November 26
Wheelock Family Theare
200 The Riverway, Boston, (617) 879 - 2300
Wheelock Family Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Ice Breaker" by David Rambo
Date: Fri, Oct 27, 11:35 PM
Quicktake on THE ICE BREAKER

     Hollywood veteran David Rambo's "The Ice-Breaker", originally commissioned for the Geffen in L.A. is having part of its National New Play Network's "rolling national premiere" at the New Rep over at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. The piece has the feel of a treatment intended for development in a small film being tried out as a play. As a concept, comparing the immensity of an incipient ice-age to a December/May (June) relationship between an older male scientist in seclusion and a brash young grad student is intriguing if inconclusive. The resulting pedestrian script is however isn't and ultimately banal with a weak payoff.
     Will Lyman, the voice of Frontline and Boston's best underworked actor, seen recently as Claudius on the Common, makes a convincing senior scientist, driven to a desert hideaway by academic politics over his controversial ideas and a family tragedy. Amy Russ plays the perennial student of indeterminate years, juvenile because of her lowly academic position. Unfortunately her underwritten role becomes monotonous, dependent on superficial charm and bumptiousness. While Lyman has a deliberate depth to his performance, her's becomes tedious and not very believable. The two sometimes seem to be in two different plays not written by the same author. Too many of her actions are plot devices, from finding his diary in Antartica while there on an punitive Outward Bound visit to finally "getting" the significance of his research. Director David Zoffoli from Merrimack keeps the action going through some fairly dubious passages but ultimately the climax is unconvincing being delivered by mail with a final spotlit scene.
     The New Rep production is good-looking with an effective realistic set by architect Alan Joslin, well lit by David Parichy who's worked with Zoffoli in Lowell. Molly Trainer's costumes done for two people in one setting suggest their academic lack of concern for fashion. David Kahn's passing thunder storm and incidental Southwestern local radio cuts add to the verisimilitude. Supporting new scripts is an important though risky part of today's regional theatre. This o's Magic Theatre and at the Phoenix in Indianapolis. The New Rep presented Philadelphian Thomas Gibbon's "Permanant Collection" in 2004 also under the auspices of the same National New Play initiative. They'll present Austin Pendleton's "Orson's Shadow", which they read successfully in 2003 later this season. It's been seen in NYC and its suburbs.
"The Ice Breaker" by David Rambo, Oct. 25 - Nov. 19
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St. Watertown , (617) 923 - 8487 New Repertory Theatre

Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 21:07:31 -0400 >BR> From: "Francis Conneely" conneelyf@hotmail.com
Subject: Stuff Happens Quick Take

I was told if I sent my few words on Stuff Happens to you, you could post them in the Theater Mirror.
Francis Conneely

Stuff Happens, currently playing at the BCA, is frightening play. Frightening because if one quarter of it is true, then it leaves you wondering what our current administration is doing or has done...The play is very well written and well performed. The actors that play both Bush and Powell put forth a convincing performance worth the price of admission alone, but the entire ensemble also gives a full and robust performance. SEE THIS PLAY.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hairspray" by O'Donnell & Meehan, Shaiman & Wittman
based on film by John Waters
Date: Thurs, Oct 26, 11:30PM
Quicktake on HAIRSPRAY

     See NSMT do the first regional theatre production of "Hairspray", A Tony Award winning musical based on John Waters' 1988 film. Listen to an affectionate parody of a not so affectionate parody, book by Mark O'Donnell & Thomas Meehan, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. Watch a large energetic cast in costumes originally designed by William Ivey Long, on a set by Howard C. Jones, who's done a dozen or more shows for NSMT. Catch Boscon grad Bridie Carroll as Tracy Turnblad, appropriately padded out and madTV personality Paul C. Vogt as her mother Edna, augmented for and aft. He did the role in the Las Vegas production as well.
     Joining them are Inga Ballard as Motormouth Maybelle, the Black D.J. —once a month—on the TV show based on American Bandstand. Todd DuBail is Corny Collins the M.C. of 20 or so. North Shore favorite . IRNE winner David Coffee plays the show's sponsor, Tracy's high school principal, and Mr. Pinky, who hires her—once she's become a local celebrity—to be a spokesman for his boutique for large women. Tracy's true love, a budding rock & roll singer, Link Larkin is David Larsen, seen in NSMT's "West Side Story" in 2003. The other pair of lovebirds is Sarah Elizabeth Nischwitz as Penny Pingleton, Tracy's best friend and Dashaun Young, as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Maybelle's son.
     The rest of director/choreographer Barry Ivan's integrated ensemble is equally talented and ready to dance the night away. Music director Dale Reiling doesn't stop the beat, except when a ballad is called for. Lighting, sound support, and effects are as usual top-drawer and really cool. The show's message "Can't we all dance together?" is welcome as ever, given the divisiveness in today's society, even when delivered as a modern fairy tale with almost cartoon characters. Welcome to the EARLY '60s.
"Hairspray" by O'Donnell & Meehan, Shaiman & Wittman, Oct.24 - Nov. 19
Nortth Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Dunham Rd., Beverly MA, (978) - 232 -7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hamlet" by Wm. Shakespeare + Hamlet Conversation with ASP and S&C
Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Quicktake on HAMLET

     Ben Evett's Actors Shakespeare Project continues to find new ways to look at the canon, without resorting to adaptation or techical trickery. This time they've put the play on the stage of the Strand Theatre, the renovated silent movie palace in Dorchester at Upham's Corner. Evett himself takes the title role under the direction of the New Rep's Rick Lombardo who he's worked with before. The usually eclectic ASP cast is bolstered by Johnny Lee Davenport, who's appeared with S&C and many other Shakespeare companies, as Claudius. He's joined by several other African Americans, including Willie E. Teacher as Horatio and Edward O'Blenis as Laertes. Marya Lowry as Gertrude, Robert Walsh as Polonius, plus Ken Cheeseman as The Ghost, the Player King, and the Gravedigger and Sara Newhouse as both Rosenkrantz and Osric—the first played as a man, the second as a woman—have all appeared previously with ASP. Marianna Bassham, seen at the New Rep and the Lyric, is a heart-wrenching Ophelia. Actors with other Shakespeare credits fill out the 16 member ensemble, including composer Bill Barclay, who performs onstage during "The Mousetrap" and plays the steel cello under it throughout.
     In what may become a regular part of their programme, the company hosted a discussion moderated by Harvard's Steven Greenblatt, with Tina Packer, her husband Dennis Krausnik, and son Jason Asprey from the S&C "family" production of "Hamlet" this summer and Bassham, Davenport, Lowry, Walsh & Evett representing ASP's current effort. Joining them was assistant director Per Jensen from Trinity, where the play was done last season with an "Upstairs/Downstairs" motif plus Steven Maler, who helmed Commonwealth Shakespeare's version on the Common two summer's ago. The points under discussion were illustrated by short scenes performed by members of S&C and ASP to appreciative applause. Maybe next time, the Publick Theatre and Shakespeare Now! can join the fray.
""Hamlet" by Wm. Shakespeare, Oct. 19 - Nov. 12
Actors Shakespeare Project at The Strand, Upham's Corner
543 Columbia Rd. Dorchester, 1 (866) 811 - 4111 A.S.P

Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 17:32:45 -0400
From: "Dr. Susan Corso" peacecorso@comcast.net
Subject: STUFF HAPPENS Quick Take

Go see STUFF HAPPENS. The acting is organic, the directing inspired, and the piece is mandatory for anyone who has thought about politics in the past three years.
Dr. Susan Corso

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "9 Parts of Desire" by Heather Raffo
Date: Sun. Oct. 22, PM
Quicktake on 9 PARTS OF DESIRE

     Heather Raffo's "9 Parts of Desire" is a unique sole show based of interviews with Iraqi women, composited down into 9 distinct characters. While Raffo performs her award-winning piece in Washington DC, Lanna Joffrey takes up the headscarf and burka on the Lyric Stage in Copley Sq. Award-winning director Carmel O'Reilly helps her conjure up these troubled women on a unique thrust unit set created by her frequent collaborator, J. Michael Griggs from Harvard, well lit by the Lyric's own Rob Cordella. Rafael Jaen from Emerson provides a range costume accessories to distinguish between the several woman. There are definite elements of tragedy in this theatrical collage, but these woman forge on, seeking love, seeking security for their families and their country. They range from a elderly leftist exile in London to a Baghdad teenager confined to her house. They all blend into a powerful indictment of the foreign policy blunders which led to the current endless occupation without getting into politics, but concentrating on individual human consequences.

"9 Parts of Desire" by Heather Raffo, Oct.20 - Nov. 8
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon, (617) 585 - 5678 Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Around the World in 80 Days" by Mark Brown, adapted from Jules Verne
Date: Fri, Oct 20,

     Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days" was first adapted to the stage by the author himself for a spectacular production in Paris around the turn of the 19th century This breezy novel is best remembered for Mike Todd's blockbuster film done about 50 years ago. Mark Brown's recent adaptation, seen around the country, is having its first outing in the Boston area at the Stoneham Theatre for the next three weeks. With only five cast members, a lot of simple costume changes, and enough props, it probably won't be the last time this amiable adventure/farce is seen in these parts.
     The story revolves around an eccentrically orderly English gentleman, played with his usual aplomb by IRNE winner Steven Barkhimer, one Phileas Fogg, Esq., who makes a bet with members of his club that he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. His main companion on this exciting journey is his new valet, Passepartout, played by Christopher Brophy, first seen locally at Stoneham. Brophy won his IRNE for the role of Shane Muggitt in Speakeasy/BTW's award-winning "Take Me Out." All the rest of the parts are taken by three actors. Petite Eve Kagan, seen last spring in Sugan's "Talking with Terrorists," plays various servants and supernumeraries, but by the middle of the first act has taken on the role of Aouda, the Indian beauty Passepartout and Fogg rescue from suttee. Antic Victor Warren, who was seen last seaon in the title role of Margulies "Brooklyn Boy" for Speakeasy, is persistent Detective Fix, when he's not playing everything from a member of the Reform Club to the driver of a train in the Old West. Veteran comedian Robert Saoud, seen in the season opener "You Never Know," plays so many parts, from ship captains, several pukka sahibs, various authorities and even a U.S.Cavalry colonel, that he's designated as Actor 1 in this story theatre ensemble. Director Weylin Symes keeps his solid cast scurrying up and down the complex levels or zipping offstage to change into their next costume while Barkhimer forges serenely on.
     The effective unit set is another architectural creation by Cristina Todesco, backed by a projection screen which alternately displays backgrounds or a world map. This changing backdrop is flanked by signs for the major cities Fogg passes through on his journey which are illuminated in sequence. Rachel Padula Shufelt has provided an array of costume pieces which allow the ensemble to create about 40 characters during this two hour show. Sound designer Nathan Leigh and lighting designer Mark Lanks help keep the whirlwind trip going. Once again the short trip out to Stoneham is worth taking.
"Around the World in 80 Days" by Mark Brown, Oct.19 - Nov. 8
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - " Mauritius" by Theresa Rebeck
Date: Wed. Oct. 18, 11:33 PM
Quicktake on MAURITIUS

    Theresa Rebeck's new play " Mauritius" is receiving a powerhouse world premiere on the Huntington Theatre Co.s Wimberley stage at the BCA. The script, which was developed at Lark in NYC was read last spring during HTC's Breaking Ground series. It's since under gone further rewrites and is being directed by Woolly Mammoth's Rebecca Bayla Taichman , who's also continuing her collaboration with Rebeck in a remounting of "The Scene" at Second Stage in NYC. That show ran at last year's Humana Festival. Rebeck will also open another new play, "The Water's Edge" at Second Stage later in the season.
    "Mauritius" is a modern melodrama with humorous overtones involving sibling rivalry and stamp collecting. The latter obsession allows for the plot complication, the former defines the character development. The excellent five actor ensemble centers around wild child Jackie played by Obie winner Marin Ireland and prim Mary, her older half-sister, played by Boston's favorite Canadian actress, Norton winner and Brandeis MFA, Laura Latreille. Their struggle is over Mary's grandfather's stamp collection which has been in their mother's possession since his death. Jackie wants to sell, Mary claims sentimental attachment and rightful ownership, even though she's not been around for a long time. Jackie, who took care of their mother during her long decline due to cancer has already started trying to find out what the collection's worth.
    The album contains two legendary very early "error" stamps from the British colony of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. She's met with seeming indifference from seedy stamp dealer, Peter, played by Robert Dorfman and been romanced by slick young operator, Dennis, played by Michael Aronov, who she meets at the stamp shop. Dennis ultimately makes a deal for her with a wealthy collector, belligerent Sterling, a shady Brit played by James Gale. And that;s just the start of the plot.
    While the show is predicated on past relations between Jackie and Mary leading to their present situation, between hanger-on Dennis and Peter, which seems somehow paternal, and some sort of prior incident between Peter and Sterling, the play, like most melodramas is about present actions. The ensemble does somehow seem like a tight dysfunctional family however, given to extended monologues, simultaneous arguments at crosspurposes, and devious often farcical personal confrontations. Jackie is the primary focus but Mary comes on strong in the pinch. Dennis is less a villain than a trickster, looking for excitement in the main chance. Further tweaking, when and if the show finds a future production, will heighten the intrigue.
    HTC as usual hasn't stinted on production values. Trinity's Eugene Lee, whose last Obie was for "Wicked," who got an IRNE for "Top Dog..." has created a very detailed shabby office as the main scene, with wagons which come out of the walls for alternate locations. Costumes chosen by peripetatic Miranda Hoffman and jarring original music by Martin Desjardins add unique touches. The script may undergo further development to tie up loose ends but is a crackling show at the moment.
" Mauritius" by Theresa Rebeck, Oct. 6 - Nov.12
Huntington Theatre Co. in Wimberley Theatre
BCA Calderwood, 539 Tremont, Boston / (617) 933 - 8600

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "First Blush" by Amy Adler
Quicktake on FIRST BLUSH

     BU 2006 graduate playwright Amy Adler's "First Blush", running at the BPT in preparation for another foray to the ACTF at the Kennedy Center, is a contemporary drama of the 20 somethings, sort of a "Sex in the City" for two couples, with a hint of Margulies. It might be better served by a slightly older, slightly more experienced cast though the student actors do well enough. The two women are better written and Meghan Bradley's Emma is well-realized. Katy Rubin's Gwen grew up, to a point, in college and shows only traces of character beyond that period in her life.. But their future as posited by playwright Adler is really more of the same "living in the city" fantasy. The two men, Katy's sometime husband Paul, played by Jared Craig, and his feckless friend, Ian, played by Michael Peterson, are college-boy cliches, whose solution to life is to go back to school.. The fact that none of these four really have last names is typical of this sort of rather superficial drama, sufficient to the times but not very satisfying. At least the author hasn't tied her 80+ minute plus intermissionless work to any specific events, so should Adler decide to find some more significant relevance for these characters, she could develop them into a full-length play. Faculty director Eve Muson, BU BFA/MFA has given the current script a fair outing.
    The several scenes are defined by ingenious sliding panels which with the current light plot give the stage hands a chance to appear in a shadow show. The backdrop is a black and white abstract while the modern furniture is sufficiently nondescript to serve the unit set. which starts as an apartment, but must serve as an office, a bar, etc. Downstage center is occupied by a coffee table as per usual. The background sound is suggestive but not distinctive as are the contemporary costumes, which work well enough for the women, but don't help the men gain any substance. Still, this show is probably good enough to bring home the bacon for BU once again.
"First Blush" by Amy Adler Oct.12 - 22
Playwrights' Theatre at B.U.
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (866) 881 - 4111 Company Website

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Night In November" by Marie Jones
Date: Fri, Oct 13, 10:58 PM

     The mystical art of the shannachie is alive and kicking at Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway in Davis Sq. Somerville through Thanksgiving. Award-winning actor Marty Maguire, using a one-man comedy written by Marie Jones, brings Kenneth Norman McAllister, a Belfast Protestant, and some forty of his countrymen--and women--to uproarious life. More than that, he and the author turn Kenneth's mid-life crisis into what could be taken for a religious conversion, from a thoughtless bigot into a bona fide Irishman, in a show which swoops from laughter to tears as a real story should.
    Jones, whose "Stones in His Pockets" was an instant classic, starts this tale, once upon a time, on "A Night in November" when Kenneth begins to realize how hollow his lower-middle class existence as a dole-clerk has become when he takes his nicotine-fiend father-in-law to a crucial soccer match between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and is ashamed at how completely prejudiced the old hooligan is. His frustration mounts with his wife, his job, his social friends and the dismal political stalemate under which he lives. The comic absurdity of it all becomes maddening. There's no way out. But of course there is. Jones sends him on an impulse off to New York the next April to be close to the World Cup competition. The result is even more hilarious and ultimately uplifting. Like any good fable there's a chance McAllister might just live happier when he goes back to Belfast.
    This energetic one-man show is perfectly suited for JTOB, which is set up cabaret style. The only set is a stack of boxes, red white and blue at first, representing McAllister's Unionist background. A suit coat, a red cardigan, and a football supporters T-shirt are Maguire's sole costume changes/props. The backdrop is an out-of-focus mural of soccer fans in the stands. Minimal lighting effects help change the scene, particularly for our man's inner monologues. Maguire first appeared in one of Marie Jones plays in Ireland in 1986 and this script could well have been written with this versatile actor in mind. He first presented "A Night in November" in L.A. , then at the 2002 Edinburgh Festival, followed by two soldout runs at the Tricycle in London, two runs in Dublin, and back to L.A. where it won two Ovation Awards in 2005. Recently Maguire appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in Jones latest play, "The Blind Fiddler."
     Many impressive shows from the contemporary Irish theatre have been seen in Boston, and this comic jewel, directed by Tim Byron Owen, is up with the best of them. JTOB in Davis Sq. is easy to get to on the Red Line, there are dinner packages available, and the Burren just next door upstairs. Guiness and Harp are available at the refreshment stand as well. Shows start at 7:30 pm evenings, Sunday matinees at 3pm. Come early for the best seats and something before the show.
"A Night In November" by Marie Jones, Oct.11 - Nov. 26
at Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway
255 Elm St. Davis Sq, Somerville (866) 811-4111 JTOB

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "By the Bog of Cats" by Marina Carr
Date: Thurs. Oct. 12, 11:23 PM
Quicktake on BY THE BOG OF CATS

     Marina's Carr's country tragedy, "By the Bog of Cats," owes a bit of its inevitability to Euripides, but at least as much to J.M.Synge. The violence in the show marks it as contemporary while its poetic diction plus touches of the supernatural make piece unmistakably Irish. The Devanaughn Theatre, under Rose Carlson's direction, manages to make a complex and ingrown plot come together in the confines of their brick box in the basement of the Piano Factory. More extensive scenic background and less cumbersome changes would help create a stronger air of magic realism, though the full-sized "caravan" stage left is impressive.
    The ensemble cast revolves around Hester Swane, the daughter of the Travelin' People, played by Abbey Theatre veteran Dani Duggan, who's the current producing artistic director of the company. Hester's been thrown over by Carthage Kilbride, a local lad, played by Charles Hess. They have a young daughter, Josie, named for her grandmother, played on alternate nights by Holly Payne-Strange and Sarah Smith. Carthage believes he has bought Hester off and is marrying the daughter of a rich neighbor, Xavier Cassidy, played by Phil Thompson. His new love is Caroline, played by Ellen Adair, The source of this basic tale is of course "Medea". But Hester first appears carrying a dead black swan, an old friend which she buries, but not before being accosted by a mysterious Ghost Fancier, played by Jordan Harrison, and engaging in gossipy exposition with her oldest friend Monica, played by Jean Sheikh. She also gets a visit from the Catwoman, a blind seer, played quite spookily by Liz Robbins. Jordan shows up in act two as a waiter and the ghost of Hester's brother. Fred Robbins also appears briefly in the second act as dotty old Father Willow, the parish priest.
     The cast manages acceptable Irish accents, though Duggan's more accurate Midlands brogue is not always immediately comprehensible amidst the Americanized sound. Nothing important gets lost however. Within scenes the action makes good use of the limited space. The lighting is servicable, though a more elaborate plot would support the varied scenes more fully. The original music by Katie McDonnell adds an appropriate touch. There's a sense of commitment to the play which definitely helps the show.
"By the Bog of Cats" by Marina Carr, Oct. 12 - 29
Devanaughn, back of the Piano Factory
791 Tremont, (617) 247 - 9777
Devanaughn Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Little Shop of Horrors" by Ashman & Menken
Date: Sat, October 7, 11:10 PM

     The most important character in Ashman And Menken's first hit show is Audrey II, a "strange and unusual plant" usually done with puppets, from a small sock type to a giant body puppet. For their "Little Shop of Horrors", John Ambrosino and his Animus Ensemble are trying something different. Veteran Boston rocker Neil Chapman, dressed in a green Capitol Records T-shirt is the villainous talking and singing vegetable. He's first rolled onstage in a little red wagon, but soon stands tall and as A2 grows gets three dancers, Melissa Ham-Ellis, Christin Fagone, and Maria Larossa as tendrils. Choreographers Josie Bray, the group's other Artistic Director, gets the whole cast dancing as part of the plant by the end, except of course by the girl group, Chiffon, Crystal, and Ronette aka Heather Fry, Emilie Battle, and Sehri Wickliffe. The latter two are both music theatre students at BosCon while Princeton grad Fry will be directing Geo. C. Wolfe's "The Colored Museum," Animus' show next April.
     The show, as everyone will remember, takes place in a Skid Row flower shop. The owner, Mr. Mushnik is done by Eric Ruben, seen last spring in the company's "Once Upon a Mattress" as the King, and at the New Rep in "Into the Woods." the year before. His clerk, Audrey (1) is Erin Tchoukaleff, who was Lady Larkin last spring and Sylvia midseason in "Promises, Promises," bringing her distinctive soprano to the role. Audrey's boyfriend Orin, the evil dentist, is Turtle Lane regular Jim Jordan, who was also in Animus' "...Mattress" and "Promises..." Jordan also essays a variety of walkons. His counterpart, who does the rest of them and the doorbell is Perri Lauren. And at the center of it all as Seymour the orphan is Christian Kiley, who's done shows with Reagle. His naive sound blends well with the other voices in the show. Music director Robert Mollicone at the keyboard, backed by electric bass and drums keeps the score hopping along and is well served by the ensemble. This show rocks! "Little Shop..." has two more weekends to go. Real fans will also want to catch Turtle Lane's version which plays from mid-November through the holidays.
"Little Shop of Horrors", book & lyrics by Howard Ashman, music - Alan Menken, Oct. 6-21
Animus Ensemble at BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont, (617 933-8600) Animus Ensemble

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Almost Asleep" by Julie Hebert
Date: Wed, Oct 4,
Quicktake on ALMOST ASLEEP

     One of the two innovative companies producing at the old firehouse at the base of Bunker Hill Ave. in Charlestown, a few blocks from the Sullivan Sq. T-stop on the Orange Line is Molasses Tank Productions. Their fall offering is Julie Hebert's short but intense drama, "Almost Asleep." This ensemble piece is essentially a nightmare, as a woman's persona fragments into five characters. Susan Gross plays The Chatterer, who recounts a brutal encounter which an incident at work earlier in the day has brought back to mind. Becca A. Lewis is The Sleeper, who is able to repress this past--much of the time. Wendy Nystrom is The Dreamer, who tries to make sense of her fears. Kristin Shoop is The Fool, who survives by childlike play. And Loann West, who also did the set and costumes, is The Warrior, a strong and bitter realist.
     Artistic director Steve Rotolo, one of the group's founders, has staged the piece simply, allowing the poetic flow of words, which occasionally overlap, to build a dense abstract of this unnamed woman's mental turmoil, a mix of fear and hope. "Almost Asleep" builds to a crescendo and fades on an image. The show is less than an hour long, but just long enough. The author had worked with various contemporary theatre groups, several on the West Coast, and is currently writing for the Scott brothers T.V. hit, NUMB3RS.
    The Charlestown Working Theatre has a number of interesting shows scheduled this year. Next up is a brief visit at the end of the month by a mask and movement duo from Brelin, Theatre Kranevit, perrforming a piece based on the Bros. Grimm, followed in mid-November by the Obie-winning Great Small Works performing their latest effort, "The Rapture Project". This Greenwich Village/Cambridge based tabletop puppet company continues to create sharp political shows. CWT is only a short walk from the Sullivan Sq. Station on the Orange Line. Park at that lot or come abit bit earlier and find street parking nearby.
"Almost Asleep" by Julie Hebert, Oct. 5 - 21
Molasses Tank Theatre at Charlestown Working Theatre
442 Bunker Hill Ave., Charlestown, (617)242.3285 Molasses Tank

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Thom Pain" by Will Eno
Date: Sun, Oct. 1,
Quicktake on THOM PAIN (based on nothing)

     As the inaugural event for its "Downstage@New Rep series, using the black box space on the ground floor at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, the New Rep is presenting Diego Arciniegas in Will Eno's Pulitzer-nominated "Thom Pain (based on Nothing." The exercise in stand-up existentialism shows another side to the Publick Theatre's artistic director, know generally for his Shakespearean roles, such as Friar Laurence in the New Rep’s Watertown opener last fall. Arciniegas has of course recently done Count Dracula in Stoneham, after two years as their Marley, and will appear in Noel Coward's "Design for Living", PT's January show indoors at the BCA. He also has three IRNE acting awards from past years.
     Here Arciniegas takes on the anonymous role of a self-described nobody created by Eno collaborator, James Urbaniak, and make it his own. It’s tempting to imagine just what this hour-long monologue might be based on, beyond a disturbed imagination. Each member of the audience will probably have their own take. It’s open seating, all 84 of them. Get there early, sit on the center aisle at your own peril if you want the full effect, but don’t show up late. The piece was directed by Brandeis faculty member, Adrienne Hewlett, who did “Frozen” at the New Rep last season.
"Thom Pain" by Will Eno
Downstage@New Rep, Arsenal Center for for the Arts Black Box
321 Arsenal St., Watertown (617) 923 - 8487 New Rep

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Coming Up for Air" by Stan Strickland & Jon Lipsky
Date: Sat, Sept. 1, 30 11:12 PM

     Peripheral to the Boston Jazz Festival, saxiphonist/flautist/drummer/dancer Stan Strickland presents a turning point in his 30 year career as a jazzman. Written (edited?) and directed by Vineyard & Boston playwright Jon Lipsky, this intense mono-drama, two years (and a lifetime) in development, is built around the musician's near-drowning seen as part of a life-long spiritual quest. The 80 minute + show is seamlessly interwoven with original live music, culminating in an extended composition in which Strickland plays both saxs, flute, percussion, etc., developing the piece against loops from the preceding instrument. It's "far out and in deep," and not to be missed. The low-ceiled BCA Black Box is acoustically perfect for jazz; Eric Levinson's simple set and expressive lighting complete the show. Seating is limited. Get tickets now. PS. Check out his website for his latest jazz vocal CD.

"Coming Up For Air: An AutoJazzography" by Lipsky & Strickland, Sept. 28 - Oct. 14
Alliger Arts at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Stan Strickland

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "I Am My Own Wife"" by Doug Wright
Date: Wed, Sept 20, 10:58 PM
Quicktake on I AM MY OWN WIFE

     As the author of "I Am MY Own Wife" points out, this bio-docudrama has two focuses, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf and himself, Doug Wright. His fascination with that unique person, a German transvestite who survived the Nazi's and the East Germans, helped him deal with his own sexuality, though his self-exploration seen onstage is rather perfunctory. Charlotte's however is as detailed as the woodwork on her beloved furniture from the gay '90s. Thomas Derrah plays both, and about 40 other incidental characters, transforming in an instant into figures from her past, tourists at her museum, relatives, and of course Wright. The original script was created with the assistance of Moises Kaufmann and Jefferson Mays, who played the part of Charlotte. Derrah brings his own physical acumen to this interpretation, directed by Jason Southerland.
     Wearing a version of Charlotte's black "hausfrau" dress created by Rachel Padula Schufeld, the actor conjures up Charlotte's particular world. Eric Levenson's sparse 3/4 set is largely black and white except for a highly polished antique Edison phonograph on the upper level--reached by a ramp and one small turn-of-the century desk downstage left. John. R. Malinowski's fluid lighting constantly redefines the acting area, while Nathan Leigh's sound design includes vintage recordings from Charlotte's special period. Those who saw Jefferson Mays ethereal performance downtown will be especially interested in Derrah's more robust approach. Incidentally, Wright's previous work includes "Quills" seen two seasons ago at the New Rep. His current show, about to move onto Broadway is "Grey Gardens."
"I Am My Own Wife"" by Doug Wright, Sept.14 - Oct. 8
Boston Theatre Works at Zero Arrow St.
Arrow & Mass. Ave. Harvard Sq., (617) 728 - 4321
Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A New Brain", music & lyrics - William Finn; Book - Wm.Finn & James Lapine
Date: Sat, Sept 16, 9:48 AM
Quicktake on A NEW BRAIN

     When William Finn, then best known for his "Falsettos" shows, came close to dying from an inherited brain condition, his quirky sensibilities naturally turned his experience into a musical—with the help of sometime Sondheim collaborator, director James Lapine. "A New Brain" has had several Boston-area productions since its NY run at Lincoln Center, but Metro Stage's current brief run in Cambridge may come closest to realizing its potential. Directed by Turtle Lane regular James Tallach with music direction by IRNE winner Jennifer Honen Galea, the show boasts an ensemble cast of well-trained and experienced local singers, who've been seen in various area productions recently. Community theatre veteran Jim Fitzpatrick takes the main role of Gordon Michael Schwinn. His mother Mimi is played by another area veteran, Mary O'Donnell, who was part of Metro's production of Jason Robert Brown's "Songs for a New World" last spring. Brown did the vocal arrangements for "A New Brain".
     Kendra Kachadoorian, trained in opera, here plays Lisa, the homeless woman whose harsh worldview balances Schwinn's self-pity. Also in "Songs..." she was last seen at TLP as the brash gun-toting New Jerseyite in Ahrens & Flaherty's early musical, "Lucky Stiff." Schwinn's other nemesis, Mr.Bungee, the frogee star of the children's show for which he writes songs, is Gary Ryan, TLP's "Pippin" last season and Sr. Leo in Metro's "Nunsense A-Men" last fall. On the more sympathetic side, another community theatre veteran, Peri Chouteau, plays Rhoda, Schwinn's agent, and gets to show her comic flair as Gordon's ventriloquist dummy in a dream sequence. She'll next play Little Sally in Vokes upcoming "Urinetown."
     Metro's artistic director, versatile Robert Case, who with Tallach designed the simple but effective set, plays the Doctor, while conservatory-trained Anne Velthouse plays his nurse Nancy. Her husband Aaron, an NEC opera student last seen as Sky Masterson at TLP plays the hospital chaplain. Nicholas Nunez, a senior music major at BosCon, plays Roger Della-Bovi, a wealthy sailor and Gordon's life partner. Recent BU grad Joe Lanza is Richard, the nice nurse, who feels trapped in his hospital career. This ensemble should be enough to alert in-town music theatre fans to the wealth of talent in various suburban producing groups. We can only hope that Metro, whose work has steadily improved, can somehow afford longer intown runs for future efforts. "A New Brain" has four performances, Thu -Sat at 8pm, Sun. at 2pm, next weekend, Sept. 21-23.
"A New Brain", music & lyrics - William Finn; Book - Wm.Finn & James Lapine, Sept. 15-23
Metro Stage Co. at Durrell Hall, Camb YMCA
800 Mass. Ave. Central Sq, (617) 624 - 5023 Metro Stage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Radio Golf" by August Wilson
Date: Thursday, Sept 14, 9:51 AM
Quicktake on RADIO GOLF

     Even though it's a full-length play, "Radio Golf," the last of his 10 plays set in Pittsburgh's Hill District, one for each decade of the 20th century, August Wilson's last effort seems somehow unfinished. Despite director Kenny Leon's best efforts, and a hardworking cast experienced in the author's style, the play never quite comes together. The main character, Harmond Wilks, played by Hassim El-Amin, undergoes a reversal of fortune, but his personal changes seem arbitrary. The references to characters in others plays in the cycle also seem gratuitous. The effect of the action is melodramatic; the fortunes of Harmond and his partner, Roosevelt Hicks, played by James A. Williams never seem compelling. And Harmond's wife, Mame, played by Michole Briana White, seems somehow nonessential; more of a plot device.
     The rest of the cast includes two slightly mythic characters, Sterling Johnson played by Eugene Lee, and Elder Joseph Barlow, played by Anthony Chisholm, both typically Wilsonian. Their speech is colorful, embellished by folk wisdom. Their world views are unique if somewhat arbitrary. Their scenes elevate the action beyond a comedy about two ambitious black businessmen which ends in unanticipated betrayal. As usual the set is impressive and the rest of the technical support fully professional, from David Gallo's detailed set design to Donald Holder's lighting, Susan Hilfrey's costumes, and sound design featuring Kathryn Bostic's compositions.
    Wilson's work is always worth consideration, but "Radio Golf" lacks the impact of his more important plays. With the help of friends and longtime collaborators, its a satisfactory evening of theatre even where the work seems embryonic.
"Radio Golf" by August Wilson, Sept. 8 - Oct.15
Huntington Theatre Co. at Mystic Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh
Date: ,
Quicktake on THE PILLOWMAN

     When Katurian, the main character in this 2 1/2 hour play, is introduced early on, his full name turns out to be Katurian Katurian Katurian --his parents were "strange."-- a fourth "K" immediately comes to mind. Unlike McDonagh's earlier successes, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," "A Skull in Connemara" and "The Lonesome West," all set in rural Ireland, "The Pillowman" takes place in some totalitarian, possibly Slavic, state in a nebulous present in a police interrogation cell. But this isn't the neurotic world of Kafka's decaying Austrio-Hungarian Europe, but the contemporary paranoid universe born of the cold war, where the President of the United States admits that his secret police aka the CIA have been holding prisoners abroad where they can be tortured. If you can stomach the nightly news, the ghastly revelations that slowly unwind in this play won't be altogether shocking.
     Director Rick Lombardo has assembled a tight ensemble cast of of three local actors he's worked with before--all IRNE winners--and an equally impressive newcomer, Bradley Thoennes. Katurian, the hapless writer of "downbeat" fairytales, gets a modulated performance from John Kuntz, starting with his initial confusion. His two tormentors are Steven Barkhimer as the "good" cop, Tupolski--self described as a violent alcoholic--and Philip Patrone, back onstage after a hiatus, as Ariel, the "bad cop"--a sadistic torturer. Both characters are so over the top as to be gruesomely funny, less so as the play progresses. As good as these three are, Thoennes, as Michal, Katurian's mentally damaged older brother, creates a riveting portrait of the ultimate victim. The rest of the cast appear in scenes which illustrate several of Katurian's dark fables, full of the menace which lurks behind most of the stories collected by the Bros. Grimm.
    The production is played against an impressive set by John Howell Hood suggesting steel and concrete, backed by tall mirrors which reflect the action and the audience. These also serve as a "scrim" for the pantomimes which illustrate several stories. IRNE winner Frances Nelson McSherry designed slightly fantastic garb for these scenes while dressing the quartet from the "real" world in appropriately work-a-day wear. Haddon Givens Kime, now located in Atlanta, provides original aetherial music for transitions while John R. Malinowski deals with the mirrored background handily and lights the interrogation scenes with a bright shadowless wash. The violent actions were done by Robert Walsh, who directed "True West" for the New Rep last fall as well as two shows for the ASP. "The Pillowman" gets the new Rep's second season in their new digs off to an impressive start. The company is also adding three special production which will be done in the Arsenal Center's small black box theatre on the first floor. These start off at the end of the month with Will Eno's "Thom Pain(based on nothing)" performed by Diego Arciniegas, followed in December by John Kuntz reprising his award-winning performance of Sedaris' "The Santaland Diaries," and a run of "White People" by J.T.Rogers in March.
"The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh, Sept. 6 - Oct. 1
New Rep at Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal, Watertown, (617) 923 - 8487 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "FeverFest06" hosted by Whistler in the Dark
Date: Sat, August 26, 2006 11:15 PM
Quicktake on FEVERFEST06

     The Whistler in the Dark company gathered the majority of the “experimental” theatre groups together for an end of summer event in spacious Durrell Hall at the Camb. YMCA. There was some overlap in casting and something of a general theme involving love and loss. Whistler presented two short plays of their own, Deborah Levy’s feminist exercise, “The B File”, directed by Meg Taintor and Howard Barker’s “Don’t Exaggerate, subtitled “A Political Statement in the Form of Hysteria,” directed by Ben Fainstein. Taintor appeared in the latter while Fainstein took part in Dangerous Animal’s movement piece, “Seal Skin,” directed by Caleb Hammond.
    Mill6 resurrected two memorable Theatre Marathon pieces, Larry Blamire’s sketch about slow service, “My Name is Leslie” directed by Antoine Gagnon and John Edward O’Brien’s “10 Minute Clinic”, directed by Kathy Maloney, both with the same cast including Rough & Tumble regulars. Alarm Clock presented Brian Polak’s chilling monodrama, “Bombs and Manifestos” directed by Daniel Bourque, featuring Steve Johnson as a deranged street musician—of sorts—down in the subway. Imaginary Beasts—formerly the Iron-Rail Company from Lynn Arts—did a scene from their recent “Good Witch/Bad Witch” called the “Dream of a Good Witch” directed by Cathy McLaurin featuring Lorna McKenzie using a mask and a complex costume assisted by Jennifer O’Connor.
     All the pieces were interesting in their own right, though several seem too long for such a program. Tech was minimal as befitted a one day event. If the cooperation between these companies can be extended to promotion of their efforts during the season, “Fringe” activities may receive the attention they are coming to deserve once again. Especially since the Theatre Coop is on hiatus and the Rehearsal Hall at the BCA is becoming too expensive for most companies.
"FeverFest06" hosted by Whistler in the Dark, Sat. Aug. 26
Whistler in the Dark, Dangerous Animal, Alarm Clock, Mill6, Imaginary Beasts at Durrell Hall
Camb YMCA, Mass. Ave. Central Sq. Whistler in the Dark

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Beauty and the Beast" by Woolverton, Menken, Rice & Ashman
Date: Sat, Aug 12, 11:10 AM

     To close their 38th season, the Reagle Players have mounted a full-scale production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," which has had several local productions in the past two years, from North Shore's arena version to various community and school attempts. As usual, Reagle's show is an ambitious effort featuring a massive set with full orchestra, an experienced cast, two level wagons and impressive costumes, some hired from North Shore's production. The effect is generally impressive, though Michael Jarrett's lighting design, which features a quartet of moving instruments seems too dark at critical moments and would benefit from integral lighting on the set wagons, which might be too complicated.
     As usual the voices and talents are impressive. Reagle's "resident" Broadway star, IRNE winner Sarah Pfisterer is a heartfelt Belle, while Fred Inkley's signature Beast is heartbreaking with a surprising comic side. Edward Watts, seen last month in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" gets a workout as Gaston with a voice to match his biceps. Among the local favorites, Reagle stalwart Harold Walker plays Belle's father Maurice while newcomer Paul Giragos displays his abilities as a physical comedian as Lefou, Gaston's much-abused sidekick. Among the enchanted objects, Beth Gotha, seen on various local professional stages is Mrs. Potts with Sam Blumenfeld as her son Chip, the teacup. Another Reagle veteran, Roy Earley is Cogsworth the clock. Recent B.C. grad Zach Bubolo shows promise as the candlestick Lumiere, while community theatre regular Melissa Beauregard is Babette the feather duster. NEC opera grad Rachelle Riehl is Madame de la Grande Bouche, the operasinging vanity. Among the dancers, Kia Chao is outstanding as the acrobatic Rug.
     The creative staff is led by director Kate Swan, a veteran of the original show and associate choreographer for various tours. The recreated choreography is managed by Reagle's new associate producer Eileen Grace. Reagle's staff music director Paul S. Katz is in charge with conductor Jeffrey P. Leonard getting impressive sound as usual from his full professional pit. The costumes are from Terry Schwab at the Cumberland County Playhouse with additional pieces from Miguel Angel Huidor at NSMT. The set was hired from ZFX. "Beauty and the Beast" is an impressive finale to this season. It runs for one more weekend with a 7:30 curtain to accommodate familes.
"Beauty and the Beast" by Woolverton, Menken, Rice & Ashman, Aug. 10 - 19
Reagle Players at Robinson Theatre
Waltham High, Lexington St. / (781) 891 - 5600 Reagle Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Taming of the Shrew" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date:Sunday, July 30, 2006

     At least it's free. And since the stage has been set up parallel to Charles St., the audience doesn't have to watch on a slant unlike last summer's "Hamlet". VIP seating doesn't obscure the view for the groundlings as much, though inconsiderate people with tall chairs tend to. As for this summer's production, a modern dress version of "The Taming of the Shrew"--set in the North End of "Bostonia" instead of Padua--it's more of the same misplaced invention. The young lover, Lucentio, played by Scott Barrow, lurches onstage on roller blades. His man Tranio one.o, played by Nat DeWolf, has a textbook "Bahstin" accent, less convincing than Larry Coen's homegrown improv honed version as Biondello. Petruchio, played by Darren Pettie rides in on a Vespa scooter. After marrying Jennifer Dundas' Kate, he takes her home to Revere Beach, suggested by a backdrop of giant beach towels, beach chairs, and a Weber grill. Baptista, Kate & Bianca's father, played with an accent by Paul D. Farwell, runs an italian restaurant called 'Tista's, spelled out in illuminated letters which dominates the set. Younger daughter Bianca, played by Angie Jepson, elopes also on skates. And so it goes.
     An experienced cast does as well as can be expected jumping from situation to situation, developing rather one-note characterizations. This is least effective, unfortunately, for the two leads who come off as singleminded and loud, with no simpatico. Those with clownish roles, like Remo Airaldi's Hortensio, one of Bianca's official suitors, come off better. As Petruchio's man Grumio, energetic Antonio Edwards Suarez is too intent on physical comedy, however. The tone of the show is set more by Clint E.B.Ramos' post WWII costuming and J Hagenbuckle's selection of pop tunes than by John Coyne's impressive but inflexible realistic set. This large cast effort demonstrates that throwing money at an idea doesn't help if there's no core to the basic idea.
The Taming of the Shrew" by Wm. Shakespeare, July 22 - Aug.13 (weather permitting)
Commonwealth Shakespeare at the Parade Ground
Boston Common, (617) 532-1212 Commonwealth Shakespeare

Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2006 14:23:42 +0000 (GMT)
From: "Alison Hopkins" alburke4@juno.com
Subject: MMAS Really Rosie

Mr. Stark,
I love your website and your reviews! I just want to make you aware of a fantastic production running now at the Black Box Theatre in Mansfield, MA. I just saw the show yesterday and these youngsters are fantastic!!! They are all between the ages of nine and twelve and what talent!!! If you get a chance you should try to get there. The remaining dates are 8/3 - 8/6. I look forward to reading your review (hopefully). Kyle Burke (Alligator) is my nephew (he's a star in the making, as are all these kids. Director Gary Poholek does a great job with them
. Thanks, Alison Hopkins

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hovey Summer Arts Festival, A"; Kelly Dumar & Philana Gnatoski
Date:Sat, July 29, 8:20 AM

     The two long one acts in the first half of the Hovey Players annual summer festival, done basically as workshops, are both long on interesting characters and situations fraught with possibilities. Both however would be more effective dramas if expanded into full-length two act dramas with more attention paid to their structure. Kelly Dumar's "What We Save" would get some real dramatic tension if it broke leaving the audience wondering whether Corri, played energetically by producer Leigh Berry would go to California to confront her first love Lance, played by Ted Batch. Moreover, there would be time to flesh out the other two characters including Lance's wife Sharon, played by Jeannie Lin and Corri's wheelchair-bound husband Vic, played by J. Mark Baumhardt. And possibly, since there is one flashback scene already, the important character of Lance's grandmother, Nana, a minister might join the action "then" as well as now. Director Michelle M. Aguillon gets good performance from her cast as it is.
     "The Halfway House Club", whose title might be evocatively shortened to "Halfway", written by recent Emerson grad Philana Gnatoski brings four unlikely lost souls together in an informal temporary rooming house, basically a place to stay for those who've just broken up with someone and lost their place to live. The central role, Samantha, played by the author, is a 20ish bookstore clerk who's been in and out of this residence, Anne, her new roommate played by Penny Benson, on the other hand, has just walked out on her philandering husband of more than a few year. They're joined, by a stretch of imagination by two guys, John Grenier-Ferris last seen at Hovey in "Buried Child", as Paul, a banker, and Jack, a photographer new in town, played by James Tallach. Their various exchanges are interesting, but there's a sense of the Absurd to the situation. The staging needs to be rethought--perhaps move to a common area and some sort of dramatic arc created. Breaking just after the first man arrives would set up a second half, and allow more time for development. J. Mark Baumgarten directs the action with understanding.
     The second set of plays, "Fin and Euba" by Audrey Cefaly and "Bob's Date" by John Shanahan were done this Saturday, and will be repeated next Friday. The two discussed above will be seen again next Saturday. Both programs start with showings of short dramatic or comic films by local filmmakers. While the contrast is interesting, live and recorded acting don't blend all that well. The film showings really do deserve their own night.
"What We Save" by Kelly Dumar & "The Halfway House Club" by Philana Gnatoski, July 28, Aug. 5
Hovey Players at Abbott Theatre
9 Spring St., Waltham MA (781) 893 - 9171 Hovey Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Copenhagen" by Michael Frayn
Date: Wed, July 26, 11:16 PM
Quicktake on COPENHAGEN

     When Michael Frayn's Tony winning drama "Copenhagen" toured through several seasons ago it received respectful attention but not much comment. With the nuclear issue once again in the news, not to mention harbingers of WWW III--and possible Armageddon-- in the Middle East, this historical mystery/morality seems much more relevant. With only three actors and a simple elegant setting by Judy Stacier, Diego Arciniegas has once again done a firstrate production, equal to anything seen by any local theatre so far this season.
    Barry Press plays the father of modern atomic theory, Neil Bohr, trapped in Nazi-occupied Denmark along with his wife Margrethe played by Suzanne Nitter. It's 1941 and half-Jewish Bohr can see the writing on the wall. His former student, Werner Heisenberg played by Gabriel Kuttner, now chair of Nuclear Physics at Leipzig, has come on a formal visit.Bohr learns that Heisenberg, largely responsible for quantum mechanics, whose name is attached to its "Uncertainty Principle," is in charge of Germany's program to exploit nuclear fission, presumably to build a Bomb. Exactly what the two spoke of during this brief visit has been the source of much speculation, especially since each man gave vague differing reports of the event after the war. Frayn's weaves several conjectures into a two act text which circles, like electrons in orbit around a nucleus, around issues like scientific responsibility and patriotism, in an attention grabbing script.
     All three actors are wearing discrete headmikes, which frees up the blocking considerably, allowing Kuttner on occasion to circle the audience, and the two men to be seen back in the garden but still heard clearly. There's a complex score prepared by Steven Barkhimer and Anthony Phelps finds new uses for Publick's slowly improving lighting. This may not be light summer entertainment like "The Beard of Avon", it's partner in rep through the first week in September, but "Copenhagen" is perhaps the strongest and most intellectually stimulating on this summer.
"Copenhagen" by Michael Frayn, July 26 - Sept. 10
Publick Theatre at Herter Park
Soldiers Field Rd. Brighton, (617) 782 - 4525 Publick Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hamlet" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Mon, July 17, 9:48 AM
Quicktake on HAMLET

     Eleanor Holdridge, the director of the first production of "Hamlet" this esteemed company has presented has fallen prey to concept, but fortunately that doesn't much get in the way of a cast of experienced Shakespearean's doing the play up brown. Her opinion that young Hamlet would have made a terrible king does limit the possibilities of Jason Asprey's development of the melancholy Dane, however. The role is played with a bit too much teen age angst and perhaps too little of the noble mind, but is still affecting. Holdridge also suggests that the whole evening is some sort of massive flashback, the Prince's life flashing--literally--before his eyes before he dies. The loud sounds and strobes which accompany this concept do keep the audience on its toes. Since the company for the play has been reduced to 11, she's also made cuts and rearrangements. The play starts in the court rather than on the battlements--a not uncommon tactic when trying to shorten this three hour plus work--but later on reduces the players to the Player King alone, which then requires Gertrude, played by Tina Packer, founder of S&C and Jason's mother, and Claudius, played by Nigel Gore, to read their parts in "The Mousetrap." Hamlet also delivers his advice to the players to them, something of an in-joke. This complex rewrite is interesting to watch and works more or less, but perhaps Polonius, played by Asprey's stepfather, Dennis Krausnick, in the context of the action, might more logically have done the murdering brother. Gore plays the realization as well as can be expected but the scene becomes muddled.
    Fortinbras, played by Stephen James Anderson, fortunately has been left in, though in modern combat gear he's scruffier than need be. The show is modern dress, though Hamlet shows up for the play with a play in a doublet wearing an Elizabethan ruff. Much of the rest of the time he's a bit retro, suggesting Edwin Booth in street clothes. The Prince's two main foils, Horatio and Laertes, are done with style by Howard W. Overshown and Kevin O'Donnell. Elizabeth Raetz's Ophelia is affecting but not fully in tune with the ensemble, though her relationship with Hamlet is touching. An excellent English actor, John Windsor-Cunningham triples as the Ghost, the Player King and the lone Gravedigger, making each part memorable. Edward Check's minimal set in the black box is functional if occasionally indulgent. Ophelia doesn't have a gravetrap, but she does get to open a manhole cover and dabble in some water during the mad scene. And for some reason Hamlet's favorite corner of the palace includes a giant lighting globe. However, none of the show's eccentricities get in the way of truly powerful performance from all the principals, unlike the pastiche presented last summer on the Boston Common.
"Hamlet" by Wm. Shakespeare, July 1 - Aug. 27
Shakespeare & Co. in Founders Theatre
70 Kemble St. (RT.7A) Lenox MA, (413) 637 - 3353 Shakespeare & Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Date: Tuesday, July 17, 9:57 PM

     Stephen Adly Guirgis's 2005 effort for LABrynth, his homebase in NYC, is a sprawling meditation on despair, even more grounded in the implications of morality, particularly as seen by certain Catholic thinkers, than "Our Lady of 121st St." Like the latter piece it is episodic, with cameos for members of his company. Unfortunately, since the setting is Purgatory and both Jesus and Satan are represented, along with quirky modern characters, and the action only loosely linear, the script rambles and is currently at least half an hour too long, without arc or conclusion. Never the less, Company One's Summer L. Williams, the group's education director, gets her cast through it with eventually.
     Most of the show is in a courtroom setting with George Saulnier as the Judge, a Confederate Army Officer who committed suicide. Performances range from excellent to acceptable, with standout efforts by Shawn La Count, Company One's artistic director, as Satan, Noel Armstrong as Cunningham, Judas' defense attorney, and Raymond Ramirez as her client, who never appears in court. Mason Sand, an original Company One member, plays the prosecutor, an obsequious Middle Easterner named El-Fayoumy with a florid vocabulary, a joke which wears out too quickly. Saulnier is impressive doubling as Caphias, the High Priest, one of the scripts several intentional doubles. Greg Maraio's Butch Honeywell, the foreman of a three person jury, has an impressive monologue which serves as the coda for the evening but comes rather out of the blue. Juanita Rodrigues, a teacher at the Boston Art's academy is effective as Judas' mother, Henrietta, who opens the show and a scene stealer as trash-talking St. Monica.
     The author's freewheeling imagination provides many interesting moments and challenges to the actors, and he raises a lot of old unanswered question about faith. But he and LABrynth don't seem to have been able to winnow through this collection to shape a coherent piece of theatre. Scenes that might have been useful acting exercises seem to have been retained, confrontations erupt but don't conclude, and characters like Satan, Cunningham, or El-Fayoumy, just fade without resolution. Company One is to be congratulated, however, for attempting this script and including such a range of local actors, including Boston Arts Academy students, in the effort. Not every piece of "fringe" theatre can be successful.
"The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" by Stephen Adly Guirgis", July 14 - Aug. 5
Company One at BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Company One

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Servant of Two Masters" by Carlo Goldoni (1730's)
Date: Sun, July 16, 9:56 AM

     The Bankside Festival at Shakespeare & Co.s new home--just down the road from their old one--is still largely in the future, but this summer, in the tent erected on the proposed with of a recreation of The Rose, an early Elizabethan playhouse, a group of young actors associated with the Company in various capacities is staging Carlo Goldoni's "The Servant of Two Masters." Derived from the Italian playwright's published script, which was created working with a latter-day Commedia Dell'Arte troupe, this production uses a recent translation/adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher and Paolo Emilio Landi, further massaged by director Dan McCleary and his band of comedians.
    The result is a two part version of this farce, which has Truffaldino, a wily servant in the Arlechinno mode, serving two masters, who happen to be a young man on the run for having killed his finance's brother in a duel, and said fiance, disguised as her dead brother, following him. In the meantime, the young lovers Silvio and Clarice, the son of Dottore Lombardi and daughter of Pantalone, have the usual travail, since Clarice was formerly betrothed to the dead brother, who's seemingly shown up to claim her--and the money Pantalone owes "him." A period typical scenario, the sort which via early romances with similar plots supplied the Bard with material for his most famous comedies.
     Part One is performed on Wed. at 6:15 pm, Part Two on Fri.; both are done Sat. at 1:15 pm and 6:15 pm. The shorter second half begins with a hilarious speed-through of first, followed by a repeat of the script's most famous routine, Truffaldino serving dinner to both masters, offstage on either side, at the same time, while filling his own mouth. The part is taken by versatile Michael Burnet, whose day job is director of Bankside Programming. He tackles the role in somewhat Buster Keatonesque fashion, since this production is unmasked commedia, derived from American slapstick and burlesque, closer to tent shows and the traveling circus. Rest of the company ranges from Jeffrey Kent, who brings a touch of the Borscht circuit to Pantalone and Sam Reiff-Pasarew who blusters melodramatically as Il Dottore to graduates of S & C's Young Company about to enter college, like Lydia Barnett-Mulligan(Clarice) headed for Williams in the fall, and Grant Heywood(Silvio). Brighella, the innkeeper is Karen Lee, who among her various credits teaches at Jacob's Pillow and has a Pilates Studio in Lenox. Beatrice, the lover is disguise, is Catherine Taylor-Williams, who's appeared in major S&C productions, works in their Communications office, and will director for the Young Company's Fall Festival. Her opposite number, Florindo is David Joseph, who acts in NY and is in real estate. In short, the group is a very mixed bag of theater folk, brought together to create this show. The result is frequently surprising and thoroughly hilarious, mixing contemporary references with very old jokes and routines. Definitely worth getting there early for.

"The Servant of Two Masters" by Carlo Goldoni, June 23 - Aug. 26
Shakespeare & Co. "Traveling Tragedians" at Rose Footprint Theatre
70 Kemble St. (RT.7A), Lenox Ma, (413) 637 - 3353 Shakespeare and Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Lucky Stiff" by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty
Date: Sunday, July 15, 8:18 AM
Quicktake on LUCKY STIFF

     Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's musical farce, their first joint effort, which won the 1988 Richard Rodgers Production Award, has surfaced again at Turtle Lane. Written for ten performers with doubling as part of joke, and accompanied by a small keyboard focused ensemble, the show is a harbinger of Ahrens & Flaherty;s later work, with her lyrics the most interesting part. The book, based on Michael Butterworth's "The Man Who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo," has two parallel and conjoined comic plots which jostle their way to the climax without developing a really satisfactory arc. Director Elaina Vrattos gets her cast of comedians through it with only minor problems.
     In order to inherit six million dollars, the main character, Harry Witherspoon, an English shoe salesman, done by engaging Wayne Fritsche, has the take the embalmed body of his late uncle, from New Jersey, on a vacation to Monte Carlo. Thomas Bourque is the "stiff," Uncle Anthony, wheeled from situation to situation. They're followed by Annabel Glick, played by petite Sarah Ziegler, the representative of a dog shelter from Brooklyn who will get the money if Harry fails to live up to the terms of his uncle's bequest. Hot behind them is larger than life--and very nearsighted Rita, Anthony's adulterous girlfriend played at full throttle by Kendra Kachadoorian. It seems that Anthony purloined his millions from her husband. In her wake is Vinnie, her optometrist brother, played by Chris Moleske, who she implicated in the crime. Moreover, Rita's the one who shot Anthony in a jealous rage. The rest of the cast includes Arjana Vizulis, who plays a chanteuse who latches onto Vinnie in Monte Carlo, Kirstin Kennedy and David W. Frank in a variety of cameos,and Brad Fugate as the ubiquitous tip-greedy bellhop or waiter. Ahren's adaptation perhaps maintains too much of the work's original linear comedy. But the performances are engaging and the principals' voices fit their characters.
     Like the cast, the setting changes a lot to follow the story, which can get tedious. The show needs more levels, wagons, and multipurpose units though John MacKenzie as usual does his best with the limitations of TLP for both set and lights. The company has arrived at a minimalist style which is sufficient but not very satisfying. Richard Itczak's costumes capture the flavor of the show more successfully. The result however is a perfectly respectable production of this piece which marks the start of a productive collaboration in today's American musical theatre. And there's cabaret seating and of course the bar is open..
"Lucky Stiff" by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty, July 14 - Aug. 13
Turtle Lane Players at the Playhouse
283 Melrose, Auburndale MA, (617) 244 - 0169 Turtle Lane

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" by Jay Johnson
Date: Thur, July 13, 10:52 PM

     Jay Johnson's solo show "The Two and Only" is a rather unique exercise. On the one hand, it's the basic small-town American breaks into show-business success story. On the other it's an almost Absurdist peek into the mindset of a ventriloquist, that species of puppeteers whose childhood imaginary friends grow up to be their performing partners. Johnson, along with his directors Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel, has created a script which includes the history of the art of ventriloquism from its presumed roots in necromancy, his career including the stint on T.V.'s "Soap" and his relationship to his mentor Art Sieving, and a strong sampling of routines with various puppets, including Nethermore the Vulture, a sock puppet snake, a rowdy monkey, and his original partner, Skippy. Bob, from the TV show appears of course, but seems much less relevant, less a partner than a confrontation. As the pieces fall into place, Johnson's life so far has a kind of completeness.
     The show has an interesting set design by Beowulf Boritt, whose work was recently seen on Broadway for "The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee." It's various ingenious features are only fully revealed by the end along with Cliff Taylor's lighting design. Suffice it to say that again seemingly incidental ideas achieve resonance as the performance progresses. Johnson's voice characterizations are subtle when need be, but it's his careful puppetry that makes him, along with other current performers such as Jeff Dunham and Ronn Lucas, a master of this form. He's spent most of his career on the nightclub and college circuit, so his rapport with the audience is earnest and easy. He's there to share. Behind the eternal kid with a dummy there's an interesting worldview.
"Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" by Jay Johnson, July 12 - Aug. 6
ART at Zero Arrow Theatre
Arrow St. & Mass. Ave., Harvard Sq.(617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll.com
Subject: Quicktake- "Proof" by David Auburn
Date: Mon. July 10, 4:30pm
Quicktake on PROOF

    Those who missed this pultizer Prize winner when it came through a few seasons ago, or who haven't caught it otherwise, may want to see it up close and personal in the Black Box Space at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown. I missed it Sunday, but reliable sources were impressed. The cast features Theatre Onmibus's founder and award-winning actor Richard McElvain as the dead father and Lindsay Flathers, a recipient of the Irene Ryan Competition(2004) at the Kennedy Center as Catherine, the young--and troubled--mathematician. For details go to http://www.arsenalarts.org/specialevents.html.
    It's a donation show and there's plenty of free parking. There's a bus from Central Sq. Cambridge to Watertown Sq. that passes right by. There are two fancy restaurants near the theatre, and a big food court at the Arsenal Mall just down the street.
"Proof" by David Auburn,July 6 - 23
Theatre Omnibus in Black Box, Arsenal Center for the Arts
Arsenal St. Watertown, (978) 468-5639

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Singin' in the Rain" by Comden & Green, Brown & Freed
Date: Thur, July 6, 11:15 PM
Quicktake on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN

     North Shore Music Theatre will spend the month of July "Singin' in the Rain" in a new production of an old favorite, the stage version of the Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen classic movie musical, adapted for the stage by Comden and Green. As the Reagle Players proved a couple of seasons ago with Kirby Ward's IRNE winning production, it's a "can't miss" crowd pleaser, even with a rather pedestrian book and songs from Brown & Freed's catalog. It is sui generis even without the rain.
    Richard Stafford's arena production captures some of the signature dance moments from the original with first-rate work by Matt Loehr in the Gene Kelly role of Don Lockwood, silent film star and Mark Ledbetter as his buddy, Cosmo Brown, the Donald O'Connor role. Kelly D. Felthous is a charmer as Kathy, the Debbie Reynolds role. The trio rise to the occasion and topple the couch in "Good Morning." Loehr sloshes his way through "Singin' in the Rain" with glee, and Ledbetter tries to "Make 'em Laugh," which lacks the zaniness of the original,. But how do you run up the walls on an arena stage? In the dream ballet, "Gotta Dance," Sae La Chin is the Girl in the Green Dress, Cyd Charisse's role, the centerpiece of this improbable number. And even though she doesn't have a number, local diva Leigh Barrett opens the show with thrilling tones as Dora Bailey, Hollywood radio personality. Barrett also doubles later on as Lina Lamont's diction coach. In the role of that vocally challenged silent film star, Beth Beyer is a bit one note--or perhaps screech. She needs to generate a bit more sympathy for this overwritten comic role.
     North Shore hasn't stinted for this production with a large ensemble, an array of costumes from Kansas City coordinated by Randall Klein, a flexible set by Howard C. Jones, and impressive lighting by Martin E. Vreeland. Music director Richard Hip-Flores conducts a strong pit with keyboard backup. The various film sequences, including artistic director Jon Kimball's introduction in period style, are well-done, filmed at Endicott College in Beverly. Within the limitations of the form, a musical about show-biz, cliches intended, "Singin' in the Rain" is a first rate entertainment, tuneful and appealing.
"Singin' in the Rain", adapted by Betty Comden & Adolf Green, songs by Nacio Herb Brown & Arthur Freed, July 5 - 30
North Shore Music Circus at Dunham Woods
Brimbal Rd., Beverly MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2006 07:54:03 -0400
From: "BILL DOSCHER" crysbyl@usa.net
Subject: Quicktake for THE BLACKJEW DIALOGUES

For publication:
What does it mean to be Black? What does it mean to be Jewish? These questions and more are examined thoughtfully and hilariously in THE BLACK JEW DIALOGUES currently running through July 22 at the Puppet Showcase Theater in preparation for the show's extended showing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Larry Jay Tish (the Jew) and Ron Jones (the Black) have created an entertaining and thought-provoking look at racial stereotypes as they portray themselves and numerous historical archetypes ranging from Egyptian slaves to gangster rappers to Jewish mothers. Aided by the effective use of audio-visual backgrounds and inventive costuming, as well as the seamless direction of Margaret Ann Brady, the production gently forces the audience to examine its own feelings and prejudices. Intercut throughout the show are also filmed vignettes featuring the performer's puppet alter-egos interviewing the "typical" Black and Jewish passerbys on the streets of Cambridge and Brookline. I left the theater entertained and, yet, thinking and, after all, isn't that the goal of all good theatre. More information can be found at www.theblackjewdialogues.com.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Beard of Avon" by Amy Freed
Date: Wed, July 5, 11:25 PM
Quicktake on THE BEARD OF AVON

     Amy Freed's comedy "The Beard of Avon" is a somewhat show-biz take on the "authorship" question which has engaged some Shakespeare scholars--and not a few crackpots--over the years. Originally commissioned by L.A.'s South Coast Rep in 2001, this racy contemporary farce set in Elizabethan England, plays with the Bard's life and language. Its clever conclusions may offend some of the Oxfordians and will certainly set local Stratfordians quibbling. The rest of the audience gets a good laugh at it all, aided Diego Arciniegas' well-paced direction.
    The central characters are Edward DeVere, the dissolute Earl of Oxford, played by local stalwart Bill Mootos, and Will Shakspere(sic) played by Gabriel Kuttner, last seen in Sugan's "Talking to Terrorists." Publick Theatre regular Eric Hamel plays Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton in a Oscar/Bosey relationship to Devere, while Will is attached to a put-upon Anne Hathaway played by versatile Helen McElwain. The complications which ensue are a mix of period and modern comedy, with plenty of innuendo. The action includes Queen Elizabeth, played in high style by M. Lynda Robinson and the members of the vagabond company Will runs off with. Richard Arum plays John Heminge and Gerald Slattery is Henry Condol, the two actors named in Shakespeare's last will and testament. Ellen Adair has great fun playing Geoffrey Dunderhead, the boy who plays female roles, while Risher Reddick is a blustering Richard Burbage. Barry Press, new to the Publick, who will play Neils Bohr in their "Copenhagen" which opens later in the month, gets to be Old Colin, a Stratford friend of the Shakspere's, Lord Derby, and Walter Fitch, a mistreated playwright. Others in the acting company double as members of the Court; Bacon, Walsingham, Burleigh, and Lady Lettice as well.
     Emerson's Rafeal Jaen has provided first class period costumes with contemporary touches--Devere is in leather and McElwain gets to show quite a bit of leg. The stage has been further upgraded and allows Judy Stacier from Tufts to create a variety of environs, well lit by production manager Anthony Phelps, once the sun goes down. Steven Barkhimer has contributed an original score which suggests the period. The ensemble manages to be convincingly Elizabethan while playing in contemporary form. Freed's script doesn't really contribute that much to the "question" but it does raise interesting issues of inspiration. Given the choice between exploring an idea and pulling a gag, "The Beard of Avon"'s more liable to go for the laugh, which results in a pleasant entertainment with a few thoughtful moments.
"The Beard of Avon" by Amy Freed, June 29 - Sept. 3
Publick Theatre at Herter Park
Soldiers Field Rd., Brighton (617) 782 - 5425 Publick Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Harlequin Refined By Love" by Pierre Marivaux
Date: Sat, July 1, 11:26 PM

     Anyone who's been put off from Marivaux by the ART's last two autuerial interpretations should get out to Topsfield to catch Iron-Rail's lighthearted adaptation of the first show this rival of Moliere created for the Theatre Italien back in 1720. Matthew Woods has used his young ensemble to present the work as a courtly comedy based on the Commedia with no obvious subtext. The company ran the show two weekends at LynnArts, a new art center in downtown Lynn right across from the commuter rail stop, and will do it again next weekend at the Gould Barn of the Parson Capen House just off the Common in Topsfield
     Arlechino (Harlequin) was played by the leader of the Italian troupe that Marivaux worked for. Dan Balkin takes the part here and finds the right blend of the old slapstick comedy with the poise the king and court required. But before he "wakes" up, Jill Rogati sets the tone of the play as the Fairy Queen's major domo, Trivelin. Her physical control is fully "Dell'Arte." Erin Cole as the Monarch has an effective air of glamour, with an imp, Papillon (Maggie Talbot-Minkin) to drive the action assisted by Ramses King as her sidekick. Besides this adult fairy-tale element, Marivaux has added three pedants, Angelo Bosco as the Philosoph, Jonathan Overby as the Dancing Master, and Ashley Santor as the Music Mistress. Their task is to refine Harlequin as a suitable consort for Her Majesty. It's not hard to guess how that turns out. Rather it's a duo from the pastoral romances that does the trick. Meaghan Dutton is the charming Sylvia who throws aside Damon Jespersen's doltish Dimas for Harlequin, which of course arouses regal ire.
     In other words, there's actually a plot, which develops quite interestingly, even though Merlin, the Queen's fiance never shows up. (It was a small company.). The Neal Rantol Vault Theatre at LynnArts is a black box studio with minimal lighting, which is sufficient for a show written to be lit by chandeliers. Meaghan Dutton did add a few effects and the director supplied (and D.J.'d) a period score. The show is further distinguished by Cotton Talbot-Minkin's interpretation of traditional costumes, which have the right element of whimsy. Only Harlequin is masked; the rest are "made up." The company is working on a show for later in the summer "Good Witch / Bad Witch", which will run Aug. 3 - 12 in Lynn, and 17-19 again in Topsfield. The environment and puppets will be created by Cathy McLaurin. They'll also be participating in a Summer Fringe Festival which Whistler In The Dark is organizing for Sat, Aug. 26th at the Camb. YMCA which will also include Alarm Clock, Dangerous Animal, Mill6, and others. Save the date.
"Harlequin Refined By Love" by Pierre Marivaux, Jun22 - July 1 (Lynn) July6 - 8 (Topsfield)
Iron-Rail Stage Co. at LynnArts
25 Exchange St. Lynn, (978 - 500 - 5553) Iron-Rail at LynnArts

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Moonlight" by Harold Pinter
Date: Wed, June 28, 11:58 PM
Quicktake on MOONLIGHT

     "Moonlight" (1993) is one of the last of Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter's 29 some plays. It revisits many of his earlier themes of family, responsibility, and death in a poetic framework where the drama is only implied. The QE2 Players, in their annual outing at the BCA have given the work a careful journeyman like production. Director Michael Halloran uses the particular strengths of his diverse cast to let the language of the piece speak for itself, however obliquely.
     Central to the piece is JIm Robinson as Andy, a retired civil servant raging against fate from his deathbed. Gwen Sweet is his patient and often acerbic wife. Their youngest, Bridget played by Emma Stanton, functions as a minor chorus to the action. Their two sons, who're somewhere planning something, but doing very little, are Rob Rota as Jake and Travor Thompson as Fred. This duo is almost a parody of early Pinter by the master; their dialogue is almost entirely constructed from cliches. Jennifer Barton Jones and Edwin Bescheler are Maria and Ralph, friends of the family, who seem to be in contact with the boys, who are somehow estranged from their father. The action resists any definite interpretation.
     The shows been kept simple. Cara McCarthy's set has two acting areas on levels with furniture, backed by a blue scrim overlaid with a grid of pinkish rectangles. Kathy Maloney's lights help define the show from moment to moment. Andy Bergman has selected some trancy music to provide transitions. All in all it's an effective use of the oldest theatre space at the BCA. The whole effort has the touch of the Absurd necessary to set off the obscure dialogue, which provides clues to the action, but little conclusion, just moonshine.
"Moonlight" by Harold Pinter, June 28 - July 1
QE2 Players at Plaza Theatre, BCA
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 QE2 Playersa

Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 17:13:19 -0400
From: "" biz362@earthlink.net
Subject: Hello from Jerry
Hi, Larry! Just a quick note to your avid readers that if they get the chance they should take a nice drive to beautiful Northampton, MA to see Jack Neary's play "The Turn Of The Screw"... a great adaptation of the classic and a GREAT performance by none other than Birgit Huppuch in the main role...
It's at the New Century Theater at Smith College... beautiful space, and it all made for a great day and night. Jack directed it himself and there was some terrific effects and a GREAT set!
It runs next weekend (has been extended!)
Hope all are having a great summer (when the sun comes out!)
Jerry (Bisantz)

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Will Rogers' Follies" by Peter Stone; music - Cy Coleman; lyrics - Comden & Green
Date: Sat, June 24, 12:12 AM

     To open their season, the Reagle Players have gone back to an earlier success, "The Will Rogers Follies," which combines Peter Stones fictional biography of the legendary cowboy comedian with Cy Coleman, Betty Compton and Adolf Green's tribute to the equally legendary Ziegfield Follies, one of the pinnacles of the Broadway revue. The production is again directed by Robert Eagle, choreographed this time by Eileen Grace, who's just become the company's Associate Producer. She was the show's dance captain for its Broadway run and recreates the work of its original choreographer, Tommy Tune. Grace is currently a director/choreographer at Radio City Music Hall, among her several achievements. The spectacular numbers which are the show's claim to fame are seen in all their complexity on the touring version of Tony Walton's set with Willa Kim's costumes. Music direction for this production is handled with his usual consummate skill by IRNE winner, Paul Katz.
    This time, the title role is taken by IRNE winner, Scott Wahle, seen on Channel 4 News, who captures the folksie essence of Rogers. Fellow IRNE winner, Broadway light Sarah Pfisterer is back as Betty Blake, Roger's wife, who has the show's best ballads. Veteran Reagle character man Harold Walker comes on strong as Rogers' outspoken father, Clem. From the original cast, showgirl Dana Leigh Jackson sings, vamps, and dances the central role of Z's favorite, a foil for the leading man. The four Rogers' kids are Sam Blumenfeld, Leo Hattabaugh, Ari Shaps, and Zoe Varant.. The show also features two touring veterans, Joanne Wilson's trained dogs--all rescued from the pound--and Chris Daniel as The Roper, who add to its showbiz air.
    And behind all the glitz is the timeless wisdom of Will Rogers, who "never met a man he didn't like." A star of vaudeville, silent & talking pictures, a radio pioneer, and a syndicated newspaper columnist, the Cherokee Kid was a true American hero for the common man through the '20s and the early '30s. "Will Roger's Follies" keeps coming back--the Company in Norwell will do the show (28 July - 20 August 20th) in a smaller version--not because of its gaudy trimming and implied naughtiness, but because the tradition of speaking truth to power needs to be constantly renewed, now as much as ever.
    Reagle's next production is "Throughly Modern Millie" in mid-July. Before then, they're hosting a special preview of the latest touring edition of "Cats" on July 7-8, at their regular ticket prices--available on their website-- with free parking as always.
"Will Rogers' Follies" by Stone, Coleman, Comden & Green, June 22 - July 1
Reagle Players at Robinson Theatre
Waltham HS, (781) 891 - 5600 Reagle Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Romeo and Juliet" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date:Thur. June 22, 11:29 pm
Quicktake ROMEO AND JULIET (seen at Final Dress)

     Brian Tuttle's 11:11 Theatre has generally presented his new plays in the intimate confines up the stairs at the Actor's Workshop on Summer St. Their naturalistic style, moved to the larger open space of Durrel Hall, works well enough for this modern dress "Romeo and Juliet," but seems a bit more like a workshop. Some of the cast need additional work on volume and verse-speaking, and the whole production, which clocks in at slightly over two hours even though edited. Pace and consistency should improve as the show runs. Director Tuttle takes a small role in the play and probably should have had a strong assistant director/verse coach to improve things.
     As the star-crossed lovers, Kerlee Nicholas and Melissa Baroni are interesting choices. He's best when moody and street smart, getting too close to yelling when emotional. She's consistently childish and occasionally runs on, playing against her physical presentation. However, their relationship is more believable than the brawling lovers seen earlier this season at the ART. John Ferreira's Mercutio comes closest to a Shakespearean presentation and his quite effective. Various roles have been changed and reduced. Emily Evans' Nurse is younger than usual and less humorous. Peter played by Rebecca Maddalo is just the Capulet's houseperson. The Montague street presence is coed; Fran Betlyon plays Romeo's Page, Balthasar. The director plays his father, which may be out of necessity. As Juliet's parents, Curt Klump and Diana Varco do well enough in these plot-essential roles. James Smith and Adam Harper have the airs for Prince Escalus and Count Paris. Jason Warner is more a plot element as Friar Lawwrence. The 21 person ensemble for this production is at least twice the size of many recent barebones productions.
    The show features live music and songs by Lucas Carpenter backed by drummer John A. Brewton. These definitely help define the show as contemporary. Lighting and set are rudimentary but appropriate, though more of the action could be played closer to the audience. The death scene is, but setting it up is difficult. Bodies can be very inconvenient. The ending thus becomes a bit sketchy, especially the final discovery. Only Rick Lombardo's New Rep production last fall made the whole confusion work.
"Romeo and Juliet" by Wm. Shakespeare, Jun. 23 - July 1
11:11 Theatre Co. at Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA
820 Mass. Ave., (617) 549 - 7770 11:11 Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe" by Eric Overmeyer
Date: Fri, June 16, 11:26 PM

     Connoisseurs of wordplay in the tradition of Ionesco and the Absurd will be delighted with Whistler in the Dark's current production of Eric Overmeyer's 1988 dark comedy "In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe." This fragmented after-dark peek into the purported world of ghostwritten conspiracies, chain letters, and the resurgence of Dr. Fu Manchu--aka the Yellow Peril--is obliquely prophetic and potentially disquieting. The second production of this new theatre group brings back Lorna McKenzie and Jennifer O'Connor, who appeared in their production of "The Possibilities" earlier this season, along with Travis Boswell, Stacey Kirk. Chuong Dinh Pham, and Alejandro Simoes to form an interesting ensemble, all associated with the publishing firm headed by Maria Montage. Simoes plays Lyle Vial, who's getting chain-letter after chain-letter. Pham plays Dennis Wu, an American of Chinese extraction, and also appears as a sinister Far Eastern merchant, Tranh Kirk plays his girlfriend, Christine, who's been given a most important assignment by editor-in -chief McKenzie. O'Connor is her assistant, Buster, but also Mrs. Peterson, and the Joculatrix, the Norman inventor of the chain letter. And they all work for Boswell's Ampersand Qwerty. He also plays Oscar Rang, a strange podiatrist.
     If this doesn't all quite make sense, the show somehow does. Co-Artistic director Ben Fainstein has directed the piece efficiently on a simple set with simply defined areas, Andrew Dickies' lighting helps define these as needed. Kelly Leigh David's basic '80s costuming gives the cast a slight retro look. Overmeyer's convoluted scripts haven't been seen much around these parts lately. Perhaps this energetic production will encourage consideration of his unique--albeit twisted--talents.
"In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe" by Eric Overmeyer, Jun.24 - July
Whistler in the Dark Theatre at Charlestown Working Theatre
442 Bunker Hill St, Charlestown/ (866) 811 - 4111 Whistler in the Dark

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Playwrights' Platform Festival, Series B"
Date: Thurs, June 15, 11:48 PM

     The 34th Annual Playwrights' Platform Festival of New Plays opened seven short plays for its second half. No musicals this time, mostly short plays three in living rooms. The subjects ranged from Andrew S. Burns leftist playwright in a dilemma--"The Carpenter"-- Kelly Dumar's teenagers trying to find a friend's grave--"New Digs", or Scott Welty's frustrated couple selling souvenirs--"An American Icon in Gatlinberg." Phyllis Rittner pitted a Mormon copywriter against a swinging L.A. executive and a gay waiter--"The Offer"-- Peter M. Floyd came up with a couple confronted with love and death personified--"The Little Death"--while Christopher King imagined a confrontation between as former political prisoner and a reporter--"The Dark Retreat," played mostly with the lights out. G.L.Horton finished the evening off with two teenagers from a blended family resisting visiting Grandma--"Christmas at Grandmas's." While there was an excess of furniture, acting and directing was sharp, even when the messages got a bit muddled. Audience choice awards will be announced on Saturday night, and posted at the website next week. The favorite plays from this year's fest will be offered publishing contracts from Heuer Publishing of Cedar Rapids, www.hitplays.com. Watch for the 35th PPAFNP next June.

"Playwrights' Platform, Series B" by Burns, DuMar, Horton, Floyd, King, Rittner, Welty, June 15-17
Playwrights' Platform at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
929 Comm. Ave. Allston, Playwrights' Platform

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Samurai 7.0 - under construction" by Beau Jest
Date: Sat, June 10, 10:55 PM
Quicktake on SAMURAI 7.0

     Every thing old is new again--or something like that. Beau Jest, a movement theatre back in Boston after seven years, brings the experience of its varied members, who began working together in 1984, to its latest project. "Samurai 7.0" somewhat ruefully subtitled "under construction" is a theatrical collage built around the storyline of Kurosawa's epic tale of a village's battle against bandits. Having been refused permission to adapt the original, the group widened their horizons to include the Hollywood blockbuster "The Magnificent Seven," based of course on the Japanese original, which itself had been inspired by movie westerns, plus the unlikely movie musical, "Seven Brides for...." But being Beau Jest, additional cultural references to seven began to intrude, such as Disney's Seven Dwarves, followed by the six rude mechanicals, Shakespeare's Henry V, etc. The result is "cinematic theatre," similar to that practiced by Rough & Tumble or Pilgrim, but with BJ's own particular comic sense, which in this case meshes very well with Kurosawa's Zen impulses. The existential tragedy of the farmers, the warriors, and the bandits trapped in a static dysfunctional society continues to resonate in the daily news, which doesn't have to be directly referenced to be relevant.
     The eight members of the ensemble, Larry Coen, Robert Deveau, Elyse Garfinkel, Jordan Harrison, Scott Raker, Davis Robinson, Robin JaVonne Smith and Lisa Tucker play the seven, morphing into the villagers, the marauders, and the scenery. Five are past company members--four appeared in their awardwinning "Krazy Kat" (1995)-- and the other three are Bowdoin graduates who've studied with Robinson there. His innovative direction creates a physical framework for the action, which is supported by Judy Gailen's scenic imagination, which used projected surtitles, symbolic props such as bamboo screens, giant fans, decorative fans, etc.--acquired at Crate & Barrel--along with simple puppets, shadow, rod, and toys provided by Libby Marcus. The cast wears simple color-coded pajama style costumes created by Seth Bodie, which range from Larry Coen's more traditional deep orange garb as the leader to very plain white wear for gangly Jordan Harrison who takes the Mifune role, named "Dopey" in this production. M.I.T.'s Karen Perlow puts the simple lighting available in Calderwood Rehearsal A through its paces to great effect. Composer Don Dinicola provides a soundscape which mixes traditional percussion, played by Tamora Gooding, with pop recordings and of course the "Magnificent Seven" theme (best known from Marlboro commercials). It's a whirlwind cultural stew with theatre at its heart, whose agenda is aesthetic and possibly philosophical, intended as stimulating entertainment. Welcome back.
"Samurai 7.0 - under construction" by Beau Jest, June 7 - 24
Beau Jest at Calderwood Rehearsal
BCA, 529 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Beau Jest

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Songs for a New World" by Jason Robert Brown
Date: Thurs, June 8,

     The Metro Stage Company's revival of Jason Robert Brown's 1995 revue, "Songs for a New World" shows the continued development of this company. At least on par with their successful "Assassins" a little over a year ago, this current effort, again directed by Janet Neely, achieves much of the potential in this collection of songs which vary from the universal to the personal. Originally staged with only four singers, Metro is using eight, which adds variety and offers more vocal color in the group numbers, which are not the show's strongest material.
     The first real show stopper is the third, "Just One Step" Tracy Nygard's comic suicide attempt. Her last musical was "The Full Monty" at Turtle Lane. Kristin Huberdeau, whose various credits include NSMT, soon gets into "Stars and the Moon," a song which has moved into the repertoire of some well-known singers. She's also affecting in the "Christmas Lullaby." The second part starts with Grace Summer, who just played Helena in "Midsummer..." for Hovey, doing a Kurt Weill parody. "Surabaya-Santa". Mary 'ODonnell, the most experienced cast member, repeats the "New World" theme several times starting with the opening, but is most impressive doing "The Flagmaker 1775," one of the show's two historical numbers, an anti-war piece.
     James Tallach, a Turle Lane stalwart who was seen in Metro's "Assassins," has a strong romantic duet with Nygard, "I'd Give It All for You," one of several numbers foreshadowing Brown's better known show, "The Last Five Years." Aaron Velthouse, most recently Sky Masterson at Turtle Lane, is most impressive doing "KIng of the World," about a jailed dictator. Joshua Heggie, seen last winter at Turtle Lane as Jim in "Big River" joins Chas Kircher in "The River Don't Flow," followed soon after by "She Cries". Kircher closes the first act as the lead singer in "The World Was Dancing," a bittersweet romance with Huberdeau. Velthouse leads the penultimate number, "Flying Home."
    The distinctive voices of this ensemble are backed up by music director Karen Gahagan at the keyboard, with Michael Joseph on a second. Kimmerie Jones provided the cast with simple black costumes suited to their personae; Andrew Haserlat created an effective unit set, and John MacKenzie gets effective lighting out of the limited positions available. Choreography, necessarily brief, is by Donald Ray Gregorio, another Turtle Lane hand. Anyone interested in the continuing development of the American Musical Theatre who hasn't heard this collection of smart songs should take in this production. Incidentally, all the lyrics are available of the author's website.
"Songs for a New World" by Jason Robert Brown, June 10-17
Metro Stage Company at Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA
850 Mass. Ave. Camb, (617) 524 - 5013 Metro Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Ain't Misbehavin'", music by Thomas "Fats" Waller
Date: Thurs, June 1, 2006 11:29 PM
Quicktake on AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'

     "Fats" is back! The musical legacy of stride piano player Thomas Walker is getting a gold-plated revival at North Shore through the 18th. IRNE winner Kent Gash, who staged a memorable "Pacific Overtures" there, is reunited with Trinity's Joe Wilson Jr. from last year's "Top Dog/ Under Dog" and a four other dynamic performers for a high-energy upclose revival of this perennial. Wilson displays singing and dancing abilities right up with his award-winning acting skills. Natasha Yvette Williams makes the role originally created by Nell Carter her own, and as she proved in "Abysinnia," her voice is better. World-traveler Monique L. Midgette and bubbly Idara Victor show great range as well, getting laughs and evoking heartbreak as required. Bass baritone Ken Robinson came up from Atlanta with director Gash and will be doing working on an M.F.A. at Yale next year. He'd be welcome in any NSMT production. The sixth member of the ensemble is music director Darrell G. Ivey at the piano(s), who makes Waller's compositions come alive, and gets full-toned jazz and swing from a pit full of local jazz men.
     This is a show to keep coming back to. If anything Waller's music and his treatment of lyrics, from those of his most notable partner, Andy Razaf, to standards he recorded still sound fresh and true. Gash's staging is innovative--wait for Wilson's Act One exit, and his spectacular entrance in Act Two. Emily Beck's setting combined with William H. Grant III's lighting are striking as is the sassy look of Austin K. Sanderson's costumes. In NSMT's arena, one number flows into another, with great audience contact. With today's tendency to run certain shows forever, it's surprising that this collation hasn't got a permanent home somewhere. It's back here only too briefly.
Ain't Misbehavin'", music by Thomas "Fats" Waller, concept Horowitz & Maltby, May 30 - June 18
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverly MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”An Ideal Husband” by Oscar Wilde
Date: Sat, June 3, 11:28 PM

     If you haven’t seen Oscar Wilde’s dramatic comedy, “An Ideal Husband”, written in 1895 at the same time as “The Importance of Being Earnest,” the Wellesley Summer Theatre’s current revival is a very good chance to see a polished ensemble do all four acts with every epigram lovingly in place. IRNE winning actress Alicia Kahn is back as the dangerous and alluring Mrs. Cheveley, with her usual partner, Derek Stone Nelson as the author’s stand-in, Lord Arthur Goring. The lady’s real target is Sir Robert Chiltern, an upright politician with a secret. Cheverley. who’s just blown in from Vienna, runs afoul of Goring’s unwillingness to participate in the plot, even though they were once engaged--for three days. She also meets sturdy resistance from Angie Jepson as Gertrude Chiltern, his highly moral wife. And Lord Arthur has been rather diffidentally courting Robert’s younger sister, Mabel, played by Wellesley student, Kelly Galvin.
     The rest of the ensemble, most of who were in WST’s stunning “Under Milk Wood” earlier this spring, includes senior members of the troupe, the Peeds and Lisa Foley as the fading Mrs. Marchman. Ed Peed plays Lord Caversham, Lord Arthur’s father, while Charlotte plays Mrs. Cheveley’s talkative friend, Lady Markby. Wellesley grad Victoria George is catty Lady Basildon. Marc Harpin is the Chiltern’s stuffy butler Mason. John Davin, who appeared with WST last season is Arther’s ironic man Phipps. Luis Negron doubles as the Vicomte in Act One, and Arthur’s footman, Harold, in Act Three, while Dan Bolton is the perfect gentleman, Mr. Montford, at the Act One party, and plays Mason assistant James, in the rest of the play.
Director Andrea Kennedy pays attention to the formality required to make this comedic drama work. Nancy Stevenson’s Edwardian costumes help the cast, who wear them well, get into the period. Ken Loewit’s unit set of arches is suitably mauve, and well lit as usual. A few pieces of fine furniture define each location. It’s a performance to sit back and listen to, and perhaps be surprised by its cogency, and the intimations of Wilde’s own serious disgrace just two years later.
”An Ideal Husband” by Oscar Wilde, May30 - June 24
Wellesley Summer theatre in Ruth Nagel Joanes Theatre
Alumni Hall, Wellesley College / (781) 283 - 2000 Wellesley Summer Thtr

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hot Mikado" adapted by Bell & Bowman from G&S
Date: Fri. June 2, 11:34 PM
Quicktake on HOT MIKADO

     An energetic young ensemble is tackling this adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan's satirical "The Mikado" for the next two weekends at the Footlight Club, American's oldest continuous community theatre. The show has roots in two productions from the late '30s; the "Swing Mikado" which purportedly began as a WPA project and the "Hot Mikado" which legendary showman Billy Rose created as a vehicle for Bill Robinson in 1939, capitalizing on the interest created by the earlier production. This current adaptation surfaced in the mid-90s and may contain some material from these earlier parodies, which vanished almost completely during WWII. Bell & Bowman make an acceptable attempt to work mostly in the '30s musical styles of swing and N.Y. big-band jazz, but they also get into late '50s early rock and Broadway musicals of the same period, then mix in some styles from even later. The result is a potpourri that never quite gels.
     Director Richard Repetta, who also responsible for the set design and, with Dora Cruz, the costumes, suggests that this show is a parody of a parody. G & S fans will get the joke and there's something for the rest of the audience. However, his zoot-suited "gentleman of Japan" and ladies in gaudy china-trade garb don't parody anything currently relevant. The overall style is murky and some of the comic garb is just ugly rather than humorous. But the much of the show is well-sung and music director Tim Evans makes Bowman's rearrangements work, though some are rather pedestrian. The second half is much closer to the original and hence works better. For the whole idea to work, a greater attempt to bring in present day Japan and the world needs to be made. There are a few sly comments hidden inside the chorus' voluminous jackets. Watch for them and enjoy the rare chance to see this theatrical curiosity.
"Hot Mikado" adapted by Bell & Bowman from G&S, June 2 - 17
Footlight Club in Eliot Hall
7A Eliot St. Jamaica Plain, (617) 524 - 3200 Footlight Club

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Ain't Misbehavin'", music by Thomas "Fats" Waller
Date: Thurs, June 1, 2006 11:29 PM
Quicktake on AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'

     "Fats" is back! The musical legacy of stride piano player Thomas Walker is getting a gold-plated revival at North Shore through the 18th. IRNE winner Kent Gash, who staged a memorable "Pacific Overtures" there, is reunited with Trinity's Joe Wilson Jr. from last year's "Top Dog/ Under Dog" and a four other dynamic performers for a high-energy upclose revival of this perennial. Wilson displays singing and dancing abilities right up with his award-winning acting skills. Natasha Yvette Williams makes the role originally created by Nell Carter her own, and as she proved in "Abysinnia," her voice is better. World-traveler Monique L. Midgette and bubbly Idara Victor show great range as well, getting laughs and evoking heartbreak as required. Bass baritone Ken Robinson came up from Atlanta with director Gash and will be doing working on an M.F.A. at Yale next year. He'd be welcome in any NSMT production. The sixth member of the ensemble is music director Darrell G. Ivey at the piano(s), who makes Waller's compositions come alive, and gets full-toned jazz and swing from a pit full of local jazz men.
     This is a show to keep coming back to. If anything Waller's music and his treatment of lyrics, from those of his most notable partner, Andy Razaf, to standards he recorded still sound fresh and true. Gash's staging is innovative--wait for Wilson's Act One exit, and his spectacular entrance in Act Two. Emily Beck's setting combined with William H. Grant III's lighting are striking as is the sassy look of Austin K. Sanderson's costumes. In NSMT's arena, one number flows into another, with great audience contact. With today's tendency to run certain shows forever, it's surprising that this collation hasn't got a permanent home somewhere. It's back here only too briefly.
Ain't Misbehavin'", music by Thomas "Fats" Waller, concept Horowitz & Maltby, May 30 - June 18
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverly MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Heading for Eureka" by George Sauer
Date: Fri, May 26, 11:29 PM

     Prolific local playwright George Sauer's full length satirical look at the "traditional" American family (as seen on TV), is being presented by CentAstage as a product of their developmental program. The result, "Heading for Eureka," directed by Darren Evans who runs CentAstage's readings, is two acts of laughter, as much from the efforts of a first rate cast as the author's evident wit. The script does have a lot of blackouts reminiscent of sketch comedy.
     Leading the cast of comedians are local theatre veterans Dale Place as George and Maureen Keiller as Martha, the parents. Place was last at the BCA as part of Sugan's valedictory, "Talking with Terrorists," while IRNE winner Keiller was in Boston Theatre Works' just closed "The Sweetest Swing in Baseball." The kids, Dick and Jane, are Michael Avellar, a Theatre Coop regular, and Allison Colby, a recent Emerson grad. The quartet develops the ensemble required for a convincing family. The situation--yes, it's a sitcom--has the four lost in the desert on a family vacation in the SUV, heading for Eureka somewhere in the southwest. There's also Toto the family dog, who's stuffed but variously animated and voiced by the family members in turn. Adam Soule, who was also in "The Sweetest Swing..." is lurking about said painted desert dressed as an Injun. His character later turns out to be named Mork (You guessed it.), and morphs into an Eminen type dude and then a Hassid before revealing his true nature.
     The fast paced show, including the movable cactus, takes place on a pleasantly cartoonish set by Ken Loewit and is effectively costumed by Elizabeth Tustian, including Dale Place's various costume changes. That versatile comic also plays various minor characters including Grandma. Grandpappy is played by Jeff Gill, a failed cowboy actor reduced to running a motel in the desert, the setting for the second act. Grandpappy also reveals a taste for Shakespeare and during a sandstorm convincingly handles Lear's "tempest" speech. Gill gets to end this production with a parody of the end of "Cherry Orchard" set up by Keiller's exit lines. The show is full of such intellectual humor as seasoning to some good jokes, a few bellylaughs, and effective physical comedy. "Heading for Eureka" never quite makes it. "Eureka!" is famously translated from the Greek as "I Have Found It!" What Sauer set out to find roaming in the wilds of popular culture isn't really clear, but that doesn't matter. The trip is pleasant enough and the cast's top-drawer.
"Heading for Eureka" by George Sauer, May 26 - June 17
Centastage in Plaza Black Box
BCA, 539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 CentAstage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: QT"ChurchYard...

The Flying Lings' ambitious premiere production of Tuft's grad Marc Frost's neo-Brechtian satire "The Churchyard Motel" is an ambitious attempt to focus on homelessness, politics and personal responsibility, complete with an anti-heroine and songs. Perhaps inspired by the author's sojourn with Rough & Tumble in "Apocalypso" last winter, the result falls very flat, partially over lack of talent, but mostly because the script makes very little sense. R&T been working in their style for quite a while; it's not easily replicated in a short rehearsal period with too many neophyte actors. The show's seven songs, with a rudimentary score by Marie-France MacDonald, don't advance what storyline Frost's got but rather attempt to comment on it. Maybe if anyone of the principals could really sing it would help.
     The show starts with a too-soon annoying Dan Balkin as Ivan, a wannabe member of the cast/crew who attempts to explain the magic of theatre, as one presumes the author sees it. The rudimentary stagecraft of this production doesn't support much sense of wonder. Not soon enough he's hustled off by Jennifer Regan, a member of the ensemble who's evidently the stage manager and the rest of the group drags out props and platforms. As the main character, Annette, a pickpocket who's supporting a crew of homeless folks hanging out in a churchyard, Ann Moffett has a certain charm but really hasn't that much to work with as the script careens from incident to incident. Christopher Babayan as her eventual rich husband is unconvincing on several levels. Claire McKeown as Trixie the Tramp, Annette's protector who runs a popular bawdy house, has presence but can't always be understood, a problem that afflicts other members of the cast from time to time. Eliza Brunette has considerable presence at "Big Sher", the mayor of where ever this show happens, and almost talks her way through a song or two. Her role however has more than one too many cliches. Patrick Dorion as Andre, the Mayor's political adviser and protege tries his best with unclear material while Vincent C. Morreale as his assistant, the Mayor's gofer, just manages to get through his part.
     New theatre generally deserves encouragement, but this production just isn't ready for general consumption. It's a classic example of the pitfalls directing one's own work, particularly on this scale, is generally discouraged. "The Churchyard Motel" also suggests that writing workshops may not be the best way to develop a finished drama. Closer analysis and one-on-one work with an experienced director/dramaturg might give such a piece a better chance. Ambition and concept just aren't enough. Social comment by way of melodrama is very tricky.
"The Churchyard Motel" by Marc Frost, May 25- June 3
The Flying Lings at Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA
829 Mass. Ave. Central Sq., 1 (866) 811 - 4111 Company Website

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Island of Slaves" by Pierre Marivaux, translated/adapted by Gideon Lester
Date: Thurs, May 18, 11:44 PM

     The final offering for the season from the A.R.T. is another dismal reconception of a minor classic, this time one of Pierre Marivaux's philosophical comedies from pre-Revolutionary France. While their joint production with SITI of "La Dispute" had some amusement value, this mangled version of "L'Ile des Esclaves" is set in grungy theatrical locale, this time by David Zinn, using ideas left over from "Orpheus X." Instead of an island off Greece ruled by escaped slaves, director Robert Woodruff has designated the locale to be a rundown basement club featuring drag queens, presided over by Thomas Darrah in a blond wig as Trivelin, the one of the five original speaking characters in Marivaux's 11 scene dissertation on overbearing masters and long-suffering servants.
     The first pairing of master and slave washed up on this mythical shore are John Campion, whose most notable part at the ART in the past few seasons was Oedipus, as irascible Iphicrate and ART veteran, Remo Airaldi as Arlequin, his downtrodden smart-aleck slave. Next comes ART original Karen MacDonald as Euphrosine, a hard taskmasters and her sullen maid, Cleanthis, played by newcomer Fiona Gallagher. The premise of this comedy. blown much out of proportion in this production, is that under the rule of this island's inhabitants, masters must become slaves and vice versa. The drag queen chorus (Freddy Franklin, Ryan Carpenter, Adam Shanahan Airline Inthyrath, and Santio C. Cupon) is evidently supposed to highlight this reversal, but instead becomes manages to overshadow the argument of the play, try as the cast might to get through versions of the original confrontations. By the time the situation is reconciled, with mutual apologies, the audience is just glad the 90 minutes of high-volume antics are over.
     While Campion and Airaldi manage to set things up in scene one, the rest of the show can be summed up by the scene of Euphrosine's humiliation midway through, where MacDonald shows her loyalty to the ART by being strapped to a revolving target wearing a pig mask while paint is thrown at her by the queens. The original show played 127 times in the repertory of the Theatre-Italien, an evolved commedia troupe, between 1725-1768 despite the French court's lack of enthusiasm for its preaching against the mistreatment of servants. The play was revived for the repertory of the Comedie-Francaise in 1930 and has had success recently in English language productions even here in the States. But ramping up the stakes of "L'Ile des Esclaves" rather timid morality to the level of this ART effort, as in the ART's previous excursion with "La Dispute," results in another exercise of theatricality, this time tinged with the theatre of cruelty accomplishing little other than titillation. If there's a lesson about man's inhumanity to man being taught, it's more typified by the artistic license exercised onstage than by anything in this abortive text.
"Island of Slaves" by Pierre Marivaux, May 13 - June 11
A.R.T.at Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St. Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Boston Theatre Marathon '06" by 50 Playwrights
Date: Mon, May 22, 9:08 AM
Quicktake on THEATRE MARATHON '06

     The eighth Boston Theatre Marathon, running for the second year in May rather than in connection with the actual event, showed some general improvement in the writing of its 10 minute pieces, if not in the diversity of participation or the ambitions of the work. Many of the more notable works, from Robert Bonotto's opening piece, "Mal Canto," an opera burlesque featuring Sara DeLima and Robert Saoud with Jeffrey Goldberg at the piano to Jack Neary's closer, a character study of two actresses written for and performed by IRNE winners Ellen Coulson and Bobbie Steinbach were sketches appropriate for revues. Very few pieces tried to complete a dramatic arc in 10 minutes. But the entertainments were varied, including Richard Snee's "Black Irish" performed with his wife Paula Plum or Ted Reinstein's "Fine!", a political satire featuring Barlow Adamson, Sean McGuirk, and Ilyse Robbins. There were notable solo performances such as Ellen Peterson's tough wife in Janet Kenney's "Weight," Kevin Dunkleberg's tattooed man in John Kuntz' "Oscar," or on a more serious note, Cristi Miles in J.K.Walsh's "Huma's Loom."
     Past marathon participants included Eliza Rose Fichter and Debra Wise playing mother and mother in Patrick Gabridge's unique family drama, Vince Siders and Jeff Gill in Jon Shanahan's "Brushstroke." a rumination on artistic impulse and Will Lyman and Melinda Lopez in Jon Lipsky's intense duet, ""Belly of the Whale." Andrea Kennedy's "Bobby Came Home" with Nathaniel McIntyre as a returning Iraq War vet was a searing comment on the consequences of combat. And Robert Mattson's "Martinis, Dry & Bitter" gave Jennifer Condon another plum role seated at the bar.
     The Boston Theatre Marathon continues to fulfill its place in the local theatre scene as a charity event and a chance for the diversity of local theatre companies, from the Wellesley Summer Theatre doing Megan Maile Green's "Theology Class" using members of their soon-to-open "Ideal Husband" to the Portland Stage having fun with Jason Wilkin's "Kickass Librarian," a variously political sketch. It remains a chance to see the range of actors already mentioned, plus groups such as Rough & Tumble, who did part of their current piece, "Hinterlands" which closes this coming weekend to QE2 who did George Sauer's "Miss Marple..." with Charlotte Ann Dore, Jennifer Barton Jones, and Helen McElwain. Sauer's latest, "Heading for Eureka" opens this coming weekend next door in the Plaza. McElwain, another Marathon veteran, also appeared in Leslie Harrell Dillen's "Brain Surgery" opposite Robert Murphy, who also showed up in Ernest Thompson's "American Terrorist," another oblique swipe at current affairs. And the listing could go on. Quite simply, you hadda be there. Next year, go.

"Boston Theatre Marathon '06" by 50+ Playwrights, Sunday May 21
sponsored by Boston Playwrights' Theatre in the Wimberley, Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 529 Tremont, Boston Boston Playwrights' Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hinterlands" by Dan Milstein et al.
Date: Sun, May 14, 8:50 PM
Quicktake on HINTERLANDS

     For this productions, Rough & Tumble has metamorphosed into "The Hinterlands Revue," a traveling variety troupe sometime in the late 1920s, wandering the byways of Pennsylvania, perhaps. Company veterans, Kristin Baker, Irene Daley, and George Saulnier III are joined by David Krinitt, Harry LaCoste, and two members of the Snappy Dance Co., Tim Gallagher and Bonnie Duncan. Bonnie has been the company's costumer for the past couple of years and continues in that capacity. Director Dan Milstein is largely responsible for the scenario and script, though one senses the usual company input. The show has a sense of melancholy as the troupe struggles to deal with various crises and changes, but also has a good deal of fun. The pace is leisurely but will probably pick up as they run. Fred Harrington's live contributions from the keyboard might hurry them along faster.
     They've configured the Calderwood rehearsal hall differently this time, facing the three-quarter seating towards the entrances which are canvassed arcades like entering an old time circus. The acting area is three-quarter with vintage folding seating. Bring a pillow. Designer Jeremy Barrett has created a large false proscenium which rest against the balcony behind the acting area, serving as the entrance for a rolling wagon and various furniture units. There's juggling, dance, acrobatics, etc. as behooves such a show, but also some heartbreak. That's show-biz. Longtime Rough & Tumble fans will relate to this stage of the company's search for "theatre that doesn't suck."

"Hinterlands" by Dan Milstein et al., May 12 - 27
Rough & Tumble Theatre at Calderwood Rehearsal Studio
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Rough & Tumble

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Wonder of the World" by David Lindsay-Abaire
Date: Fri, May 12 11:42 PM
Quicktake on TITLE

     Vokes Players' spectacular winter production of "Amadeus" was a hard act to follow, and while the acting in "Wonder of the World", another of David Lindsay-Abaire's skewed takes on modern society and women in it is worth the admission--if you can get a ticket--the technical support for this offering is merely sufficient. There's no organizing theme to the variety of scenes, starting with the opening, This is one of those production where the crew needs to incorporated in the show, probably be costumes changes, unless some sort of complex unit set's been devised.
     The central character, Cass Harris, is played with full out by Kathleen Dalton, with David Wood as Kip, her husband with a guilty secret, and more importantly, Kimberly McClure as Lois, the woman she meets on her pilgrimage to Niagara Falls. McClure's deft underplaying as an abandoned and alcoholic wife planning to commit suicide by going over the falls in a barrel forms a predictable support to Dalton's flights of fancy. The rest of this cast of comedians includes stalwart Bill Stambaugh, the captain of the Maid of the Mist who Cass takes up with, Deanna Swan and Brad Walters as a pair of would-be private eyes Kip hires to locate her, and most impressively, Anne Damon, as everyone else, starting with a woman Cass buys a blonde wig from, the pilot of a sightseeing helicopter--trying to overcome a fear of heights, three waitresses at three different themed restaurants--all in the same scene, and finally, a marriage counselor who shows up wearing a clown costume because she's just been volunteering at a children's hospital. Kip incidently is afraid of clowns.      Like Abaire's other two notable plays, the cockeyed world view of "Wonder of the World" must become believable. This cast under Doug Sanders make it work. For their summer time show, John Barrett will direct the Vokes Players production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," a landmark play which continues to resonate in the American political landscape.
"Wonder of the World" by David Lindsay-Abaire, May 4 - 20
Vokes Players at Vokes Theatre
RT#20, Wayland MA, (508) 358 - 4034 Vokes Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Manifest/Destiny" by Vladimir Zelevinsky
Date: Sat, May 13,11:34 PM

Previous scripts by Vladimir Zelevinsky, playwright-in-residence at the Theatre Coop in Somerville have required considerably more actors and were set in fabled locations. "Manifest/Destiny" has only four players, a few props and bits of furniture, but has a boatload of characters from several centuries and encompasses the entire United States, the Atlantic and Europe. In some ways, it's a perfect show for Theatre Coop's finale at the Peabody House on Broadway, Somerville, about six blocks north of the Sullivan Sq. T-station.
Zelevinsky has distilled the immigrant experience with some emphasis on the experience of Jewish and Irish emigres, and concentrating mostly on the 19th century. The central motif of the first part, "Manifest," has a mixed group of steerage passengers crossing the Atlantic in a leaking steamer. To pass the time they speak of their past lives and their manner of going to the New World. The goals and tragedies of their lives are well considered and make an almost tragic arc. The second section is not as polished while detailing the further travels of newcomers from the East Coast into the West. This material needs more focus and a more forceful conclusion, but has several moving sections and a bit more humor. Perhaps some reference to the current immigration crisis would be appropriate as a coda.
For the last nine seasons, the Theatre Cooperative has produced a variety of thought-provoking plays, often as regional premieres. Attendance and fundraising have been erratic, so the company is going on hiatus, leaving its current home. "Manifest/Destiny" featuring Robert Doris, Linda Goetz, Korinne Hertz, and John McClain could however be easily staged almost anywhere, so we might look for its further development and reappearance next season. But why take the chance? Parking isn't that difficult along Broadway and public transportation is an option. Help the Theatre Coop to a graceful exit.
"Manifest/Destiny" by Vladimir Zelevinsky, May 12 - 27
The Theatre Cooperative at Eliz.Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville (617) 625 -1300 Theatre Cooperative

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Kong's Night Out" by Jack Neary
Date: Thurs, May 11, 8:24 AM
Quicktake on KONG'S NIGHT OUT

     After a season of shows with serious social comment of one sort or another, the Lyric and Spiro Veloudos returns to their other speciality--farce with no obvious redeeming social value, except good-natured laughter. Jack Neary's last original play on their stage was "Beyond Belief," giving his bitter sweet comic take on the tribulations of the Church, but in "Kong's Night Out" it's competitive human nature and basic silliness to the fore. The cast couldn't be more suitable.
     To start with, Larry Coen is Myron Segal, the hapless producer of "Foxy Felicia," a frothy new 1933 musical set to open the same night his arch-rival Carl Denham is showing his new attraction, "the eighth wonder of the world." up the street. Myron''s invested his mother Sally's life savings in the show. She's a stripper played by IRNE winner Ellen Coulton. He's also dependent on M.J.J.Cashman's Siegfried Higginbottom, a foreign investor with a yen for Sally. To add to Segal's problems, his niece, Daisy, shows up from Buffalo. She wants to get into show business, has an important letter from his sister which Myron ignores, and is played by Lordan Napoli, making a triumphant return to the Lyric. Then there's Steve Gagliastro as Segal's gun-toting henchman, Willie, who's improving his vocabulary. Willie and Daisy hit it off right away. Segal's wife, an actress named Bertille, played full out by New Rep stalwart Rachel Harker, is secretly carrying on an affair with Denham, played by Redfeather's Timothy Smith. Myron didn't give her the lead in "Foxy Felicia." To complete the confusion, there's BU grad Sarah Abrams as blonde Ann Darrow, the focus of Kong's desire and Gold Dust Orphan Christopher Loftus as Jack, her heroic--but not too bright--fiance.
     Robert M. Russo's art deco set has a back wall of doors with downstage entrances left and right, so the toing and froing gets quite frantic. Kong even puts in a partial appearance. IRNE winner Gail Astrid Buckley as usual has a field day with costumes for the ladies, from Harker's backless wonder and Coulton's velvet creation to Napoli's girlish get-ups. Neary's been working on this script since 2001 and this world premiere marks its final period of refinement. He's also about to open a new musical "Ring a Ding Ding" at the Firehouse in Newburyport, has a one-act in the Theatre Marathon on May 21, and is opening an adaptation of "The Turn of the Screw" at Smith College's New Century Theatre on June 15th. See 'em all.
"Kong's Night Out" by Jack Neary, May 5 - June 3
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon, (617) 585-5678 Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Caroline or Change" -book & lyrics - Tony Kuschner; music - Jean Tesori
Date: Sun, May 7, 10:27 PM

     Speakeasy's N.E. premiere of Kuschner & Tesori's Tony nominated music drama, "Caroline or Change"--in association with North Shore Music Theatre--is a challenge for their established expertise, the excellent cast of mostly local singers, and the audience's attention. This modern "folk opera", with Tesori's usual eclectic mix of musical styles ranging from Motown to klezmer, from classical to jazz is sung-through using Kushner's heightened prose for most of the show. Award-winning actress Jacqui Parker, the artistic director of Our Place Theatre and the African-American Theatre Festival plays the title character, a disappointed but determined divorcee, supporting her three younger children working as a maid for the Gellmans, a well-off Jewish family in Port Charles, Louisiana. Her oldest son is in the Army in Vietnam. Her oldest daughter Emmie, sung by Shavanna Calder, is becoming increasingly rebellious and Black. It's late fall 1963. The Gellman's young son, Noah, played by Jacob Brandt, misses his mother terribly, especially since his father Stuart, played by Michael Mendiola, has just remarried one of the boy's late mother's friends, Rose, played by Sarah Corey.
    This might all sound like a soup opera set against the background of JFK's asassination and the rising turmoil of the '60s, but Kuschner and Tesori start off the show with a comic abstraction. Caroline's first scene is alone in the basement, doing the daily laundry. Her companions are the washer, the dryer, and the radio. These all "sing"; this is an opera of sorts. The Washing Machine is sung by A'lisa D. Miles, resplendent in white wearing an elaborate head wrap. She also appears later in the show as the Moon, a bit like something out of "The Magic Flute." The almost satanic Dryer wearing a pompadour and ruffles is sung down and dirty by Brian Richard Robinson, Robinson also appears twice later as the Bus, symbolized by its driver, with a placard round his neck directing negro passengers to the back of the vehicle. The Radio is sung by Emilie Battle, Nikki Stephenson and Anich D'Jae Wright, in pink party dresses complete with elbow length gloves, with a MoTown sound and all the moves. The show's choreography was done by Jackie Davis. Even though the script has a basis in Kuschner's childhood in Louisiana and some family traumas, almost everything is stylized to some degree, so that moments of realistic acting become all the more powerful. The three grandparents, the Gellmans, played by Dorothy and Dick Santos, and Rose's old radical father, played by Sean McGuirk, form a base for this reality. Father expresses himeslf as often on the clarinet as through speech, while Rose, a transplanted New Yorker, rejected by her stepson and unsatisfied by her new husband, is in a quandary.
     Caroline's interaction outside of her place of employment is largely with Dotty Moffet, played with sincerity by Merle Perkins. Dotty is dressing in current styles and attending night classes at the community college. The two grow further apart as Caroline's frustration and suspicion about change grows. She clings fiercely to her family as Emmie tries to become her own person, and the younger two, Jackie played by Breanna Bradlee, and Joe, played by Dominic Gates, try to please their mother. Throughout this complex story, Tesori's eclectic music leads the way under music director Jose Delgado's able control. Each character has an effective and appropriate sound, with Davis' strong alto at the center. Director Paul Daigneault has assembled an experienced and committed ensemble resulting in a unified show despite its at times rarified styling. Eric Levenson's unit set with set pieces on wagons, well-served by John R. Malinowwski's area lighting keeps the focus of the characters. Gail Astrid Buckley's costumes are of the period without drawing attention to themselves, except for the abstract characters. Once again, Speakeasy has brought a complete and satisfying contemporary production to the BCA.
"Caroline or Change" - Tony Kuschner & Jean Tesori, May 5 - June 3
Speakeasy Stage Co. in Roberts Studio, Calderwood
BCA, 527 Tremont , (617) 933 - 8600 Speakeasy Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Ragtime", lyrics & music - Ahrens & Flaherty; book by McNally
adapted from the novel by E.L.Doctrow
Date: Tues, May 2, 7:07 AM
Quicktake on RAGTIME

     The New Rep is finishing up their inaugural season at the Arsenal Center for the Arts with an impressive mounting of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's award-winning music drama, "Ragtime". The book was adapted by multiple-Tony winner Terrence McNally from E.L.Doctrow's lauded panoramic historical novel. The excellent cast, New Rep's largest to date, is anchored by IRNE Award winner Leigh Barrett as Mother in a role which uses all her best talents. She's partnered by veteran music theatre performer Peter Edmund Haydu as Father, last seen locally in the New Rep's "Christmas Carol" as Marley et al. The more romantic duo of Coalhouse Walker Jr., the ragtime piano player from Harlem and his girl, Sarah, are played by NYU Vocal performance grad Maurice E. Parent, who's done the role in NYC, and Stephanie Umoh, a BosCon BFA candidate. Both bring charm and power to their roles. Representing the third element in "Ragtime"'s melting pot, singer and comedian Robert Saoud has his most fulfilling role in a long time as Tateh, the Lativian emigre artist who starts out ragged selling silhouettes on the street in front of a tenement on the lower East Side and winds up in California making silent movies for the nickolodeons, all for his motherless daughter.
     Primary casting for rest of the ensemble has June Babolan as anarchist Emma Goldman, Dee Crawford as the Gospel Singer, Aimee Doherty as showgirl Evelyn Nesbit, Paul D. Farwell as firechief Willie Conklin, Frank Gayton as Henry Ford, Paul Giragos as Harry Houdini, Austin Lesch as Mother's Younger Brother, big Bill Molnar as financier J.P. Morgan, Sophie Rich as Tateh's daughter, and Samuel A Wartenberg as Mother's young son. All these singers, dancers, and scene shifters join as many other members of cast in various large numbers as director Rick Lombardo and choreographer Kelli Edwards meld them into a seamless ensemble. The entire company numbers more than thirty, not counting appropriately attired music director Todd. C. Gordon visibly conducting from a keyboard his seven member orchestra on a bandstand hovering over backstage left.
     Audiences who've experienced this classic American music drama downtown in one of the barns, or even in one of several community productions, such as Footlight's IRNE winning effort, have a chance to get close-up and involved in another excellent New Rep musical effort. Most members of the ensemble plays several parts in this panorama of turn of the century American in and around New York, all are firmly in period and place under Lombardo's skilled direction. Janie E. Howland's movable set pieces form and reform the playing areas, Francis Nelson McSherry and Molly Trainer deserve their equal billing for a set of superb costumes and many, many changes, and Dorian Des Lauriers' black and white (mostly) projections expand the scope of various scenes. "Ragtime" is a glorious end to a very impressive first season in Watertown for the new New Rep in its 21st year.
"Ragtime", lyrics & music - Ahrens & Flaherty; book by McNally, Dates
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
123 Arsenal St. Watertown, (617) 923 - 8487 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Ragtime", lyrics & music - Ahrens & Flaherty; book by McNally
adapted from the novel by E.L.Doctrow
Date: Tues, May 2, 7:07 AM
Quicktake on RAGTIME

     The New Rep is finishing up their inaugural season at the Arsenal Center for the Arts with an impressive mounting of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's award-winning music drama, "Ragtime". The book was adapted by multiple-Tony winner Terrence McNally from E.L.Doctrow's lauded panoramic historical novel. The excellent cast, New Rep's largest to date, is anchored by IRNE Award winner Leigh Barrett as Mother in a role which uses all her best talents. She's partnered by veteran music theatre performer Peter Edmund Haydu as Father, last seen locally in the New Rep's "Christmas Carol" as Marley et al. The more romantic duo of Coalhouse Walker Jr., the ragtime piano player from Harlem and his girl, Sarah, are played by NYU Vocal performance grad Michael E. Parent, who's done the role in NYC, and Sarah Umoh, a BosCon BFA candidate. Both bring charm and power to their roles. Representing the third element in "Ragtime"'s melting pot, singer and comedian Robert Saoud has his most fulfilling role in a long time as Tateh, the Lativian emigre artist who starts out ragged selling silhouettes on the street in front of a tenement on the lower East Side and winds up in California making silent movies for the nickolodeons, all for his motherless daughter.
     Primary casting for rest of the ensemble has June Babolan as anarchist Emma Goldman, Dee Crawford as the Gospel Singer, Aimee Doherty as showgirl Evelyn Nesbit, Paul D. Farwell as firechief Willie Conklin, Frank Gayton as Henry Ford, Paul Giragos as Harry Houdini, Austin Lesch as Mother's Younger Brother, big Bill Molnar as financier J.P. Morgan, Sophie Rich as Tateh's daughter, and Samuel A Wartenberg as Mother's young son. All these singers, dancers, and scene shifters join as many other members of cast in various large numbers as director Rick Lombardo and choreographer Kelli Edwards meld them into a seamless ensemble. The entire company numbers more than thirty, not counting appropriately attired music director Todd. C. Gordon visibly conducting from a keyboard his seven member orchestra on a bandstand hovering over backstage left.
     Audiences who've experienced this classic American music drama downtown in one of the barns, or even in one of several community productions, such as Footlight's IRNE winning effort, have a chance to get close-up and involved in another excellent New Rep musical effort. Most members of the ensemble plays several parts in this panorama of turn of the century American in and around New York, all are firmly in period and place under Lombardo's skilled direction. Janie E. Howland's movable set pieces form and reform the playing areas, Francis Nelson McSherry and Molly Trainer deserve their equal billing for a set of superb costumes and many, many changes, and Dorian Des Lauriers' black and white (mostly) projections expand the scope of various scenes. "Ragtime" is a glorious end to a very impressive first season in Watertown for the new New Rep in its 21st year.
"Ragtime", lyrics & music - Ahrens & Flaherty; book by McNally, Dates
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
123 Arsenal St. Watertown, (617) 923 - 8487 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hiding Behind Comets" by Brian Dykstra
Date: Sat, April 29, 12:07 AM

     Brian Dykstra's post-modern grande guignol, "Hiding Behind Comets," just opening as Zeitgeist's final offering of the season, is one of those contemporary theatre pieces which pretend to explore hard-edged reality, but which confuse the sensational with the significant. If the script were subjected to the main character's test whether it should live or die, "HBC" would fail. But like a car wreck by the side of the road, this four actor, one set show will probably continue to lure in small theatres until the next example of this depressing trend in current script writing comes along.
     Briefly, this brief two-acter takes place in a roadside bar somewhere boring in northern California. A thuggish stranger has shown up. The young bartender, Troy, played by Greg Raposa, seen in "The Fox" earlier this season, is arguing with his fraternal twin sister, Honey, played by Olivia Rizzo. She wants him to close early--it's around midnight--and come with her and his slutty girlfriend, Erin, played by Kelley Estes, to a party down the road. The older man, Cole, is Rick Park, veteran local actor. At the end of the first act, after a good deal of sexual innuendo,involving a long ambivalent scene between Cole and Honey, followed by a long confessional monologue from Cole, the girl's leave. Cole and Troy face off, the incipient mystery rears its head,resulting in a "significant" curtain line. There's a suspicion that a play might develop in the second act, but the first has the air of a padded one-act, and with editing, would play well as such, though probably not in ten minutes.
     What develops in the second part, however, is a series of vaguely Absurdist confrontations between Troy and Cole which become increasingly violent. By the conclusion, the question becomes who will kill who, with no clear reason why. We're in Shepard country without a map. "Hiding Behind Comets," which takes its title from an oblique reference to the suicidal Heaven's Gate cult, trades on the fading memory of Jonestown to create melodramatic frisson with no real purpose other than violence for its own sake. While "stuff happens" may be the message of the evening news--and the current political morass--more is expected of drama. Zeitgeist's David J. Miller has once again found a script with limited moral value, given it a realistic production, and invited an audience. With the other choices currently available around town, he shouldn't be surprised if they don't come. Like the set, which is very realistic, except for the main wall behind the action, which has the entrances and a window, but is merely one side of the black box, there's something missing in this show which can't be salvaged by Park's impressive acting skills. Raposa manages to keep up most of the time, but the two recent theatre grads playing the girls are left far behind. And the audience is left wondering if they've just watched a staged treatment for a low budget M or X rated film. Or whatever.
Seen in Preview "Hiding Behind Comets" by Brian Dykstra, April 30 - May 20
Zeitgeist Stage Company in Plaza Black Box
BCA, 259 Tremont, (617) 933-8600 Zeitgeist

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Damn Yankees" by Adler & Ross, Abbott & Wallop
Date: Thur, April 27, 12:04 AM
Quicktake on DAMN YANKEES

     Recent revivals of this vintage '50s musical have seemed a bit irrelevant, but NSMT's Jon Kimbell hit upon the perfect way to update the show without significantly changing its basic period quality. Their current version, doctored up by Joe DiPietro of "I Love You, You're...etc." fame, replaces the defunct Washington Senators with our hometown team, laboring under the curse back in 1957. Red Sox marketing is on board, so opening night featured a visit from Wally, the Green Monster, to warm up the crowd. Director Barry Ivan keeps his crack cast on track with the period. The costumes include replica '50s uniforms on the team and period dress for the women. Vintage performances are turned in by Kay Walbye and Richard Pruitt as Meg and Joe, with sturdy George Merrick as young Joe Hardy, the baseball hero. The low comedy is supplied by local talent, Becky Barta and Mary Callanan as unabashed fans of the young hunk.
The show biz glitz comes from Jim Walton and Shannon Lewis as Applegate, the demon agent, and Lola, his devilishly attractive side-kick. Walton brings the right air of delicious villainy to his role while Lewis vamps her way through the part Gwen Verdon made famous. And it's all basically PG with hearth and home as the central values of the plot as Applegate returns from whence he came at the end, continuing to damn the Red Sox to frustration until the next millennium. You see, the poor devil's a Yankee fan.

"Damn Yankees" by Adler & Ross, Abbott & Wallop, Apr. 27 - May 14
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Dunham Rd., Beverly MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "All's Well That Ends Well" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Insert date and time

     The Actors' Shakespeare Project's final offering of the season, the Bard's seldom done "All's Well That Ends Well", directed by the company's Artistic Director and founder, Benjamin Evett, displays their increasingly tight ensemble work. Casting within the company , however, has resulted in two distinctive performers, John Kuntz and Jennie Israel, taking the romantic leads, rather against type. The duo, at odds for 95 percent of the action, is almost impossible to bring together in the closing scene, and as in "Measure for Measure," another dramatic comedy, the result isn't very satisfying. Israel, the company's Associate Artistic Director, played Lady Macbeth for CSC and was effective last fall as Goneril in "King Lear," but, as Helena, comes across rather flat in this lighter part. Kuntz, who played Rich. III in the company's inaugural production, is a believably spoiled young noble, Bertram Count Rossillion, but doesn't project the romantic aura the role requires.. However, the play is rich enough that its array of lesser characters, including LaVache, the family fool, also played by Kuntz, make this a rewarding production.
     Two central characters are particularly effective. As the Countess, Bertram's widowed mother, Boston acting legend Paula Plum shows her varied talents, adding more comedy than is usual to the role in scenes with LaVache. Shakespeare & Co.'s Allyn Burrows', who appeared in ASP's "Measure for Measure" as The Duke, and was Kent in "Lear, " makes the most of Capt. Parolles, Bertram's dishonest associate. His comic downfall provides the play's secondary complication, and serves as a foil to Bertram's own dissembling. Award-winning actress Bobbie Steinbach is also entertaining playing aged Lord LaFeu, adviser to both the Countess and the King, and doubling as a noble Widow in Florence, mother to Ellen Adair's Diana, the object of Bertram's transient affections and the key to the plot. David Gullette from the Poet's Theatre is believable as the King, the cause of the action, who must finally sort out the result. The remaining three of the ensemble of ten actors, who play named parts, members of the military, and various servants, are Paula Langton and Greg Steres, as the noble brothers Dumain and Risher Reddick as the inept Duke of Florence and Rinaldo, the Countess' steward. They keep the show rolling along, manipulating Caleb Wertenbaker's ingenious formal set with minimal furniture and three trunks on wheels which form set pieces and hold many of the costume changes.
     This time, ASP has arranged Durrell Hall so that seating is against and on the permanent stage, with the acting area on a painted map on the main floor and partially under the balcony. Live music is provided by fiddler Oisin Conway, who also speaks the epilogue, and pianist Natty Smith who also gets to turn the signs which indicate whether scenes are in Rossillion, Paris, or Florence. Most of the cast sings a mixture of ballads, madrigals, and folk tunes to help with transitions between scenes. There's a particularly effective choral piece before Bertram's assignation which is played up in Durrell's actual balcony. Evett and company have created an effective, entertaining, and understandable production with much to offer. The limitations of the principal characters are implicit in the tale itself, which Shakespeare borrowed from Boccacio, and which he may tried earlier in a lost version entitled "Love's Labor Won."
"All's Well That Ends Well" by Shakespeare, Apr. 20 - May 14
Actors' Shakespeare Project at Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA
800 Mass. Ave, Camb, 1 (866) 811 - 4111 (TM) A.S.P.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Nunsensations" by Dan Googin
Date: Fri, Apr 21, 11:57 PM

     The latest edition of Dan Goggin's "Nunsense" saga takes the Little Sisters of Hoboken to Las Vegas to present a revue in return for a donation to their school, Mt. St. Helen. Still a crowd-pleaser, the joke is wearing thin. "Nunsensations" has little new to offer, musically or lyrically. Several of the songs are clearly out of the trunk and could be dropped into any previous version unnoticed. Goggin's has found a successful formula which perhaps makes the best use of his talents for harmless parody.
nbsp;    The cast of "Nunsensations" features Bonnie Lee as Rev. Mother Mary Regina, complete with Irish brogue with Bambi Jones as Sr. Mary Hubert, her second in command, more in charge than ever. Carolyn Drocoski, who's been involved with the Nunsense for 18 years and who directed Lyric's production of "Meshaggah-Nuns!" two seasons ago, is Brooklyn born Sr. Robert Anne, tough as ever, Emerson grad Jeanne Tinker plays Sr. Mary Paul aka Amnesia, ditsy as ever. Her irrepressible sidekick Sr. Mary Annette has only one appearance, however. (She's just tried out for "Ave. Q".) Sr. Mary Leo, the dancer, is Carrie Keskinen, who completes what's billed as the world premiere cast of this show. All five display considerable comedic talent and are in fine voice. "Nunsense" fans--and there may be legions of them--won't be disappointed or surprised.
nbsp;    Stoneham will be following this show with more visitors from Las Vegas, a recreation of "The Rat Pack." They'll be opening their fall season in Sept. with Cole Porter's vintage show "You Never Know."
"Nunsensations" by Dan Googin, April 20 - 30
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham MA, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Man Who" by Oliver Sacks, Peter Brook & Marie-Helene Estienne
Date: Thur, April 20, 10:33 PM
Quicktake on THE MAN WHO

     Those familiar with Oliver Sacks' anecdotal study of neurological anomalies, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat" will find some of the more striking references from that work embedded in this collage of interactions between doctors and patients. Those familiar with the recent work of Peter Brook will recognize the transformations the four actors undergo in this short effort. In the course of 75 minutes, each plays doctors confronting men suffering from some abberation of perception. These unique symptoms suggest the malleability of reality, at least for the individual. There are of course no conclusions or judgements, and no patients with secondary clinical diagnoses.
     The cast, directed by Wesley Savick consists of IRNE winner Steven Barkhimer, Robert Bonotto, Owen Doyle, and Jim Spencer. Barkhimer was last seen for the Nora in Van Gogh in Japan, as was Robert Bonotto. Both were seen this fall at the Lyric in Steve Martin's version of "The Underpants." Owen Doyle appeared recently in "A Prayer for Owen Meany" at Stoneham. Jim Spencer was in Nora's "Antigone: last season and was nominated for an IRNE for his role in ACT's "City Preacher" by Ed Bullins. Director Savick recently directed "Theatre District" for Speakeasy, and Zayd Dorhn's IRNE winning "Permanent Whole Life'" at Boston Playwrights'. The show has the polish one would expect from such an ensemble.
     In a piece of nonlinear theatre like this, the arc of the action comes from connections made between its disperate elements. As the ensemble moves from the calming attitude of the neurologists to the varying degrees of agitation shown by their patients, the depth of the failure of perception becomes painfully clear. And the common dilemma shared by both classes is heightened as doctor becomes patient and vice versa. There are a few bravura moments, carried off by Barkhimer and Doyle, while Bonotto and Spencer have quieter epiphanies. The simple truth of the show however, is that there is no cure for these problems, a very sobering thought. Like the rest of life, they can only be dealt with.
"The Man Who", Apr.20 - May 7
Nora Theatre Co. at Boston Playwrights'
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, 1 (866) 811 - 4111 Nora Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Sweetest Swing in Baseball" by Rebecca Gilman
Date: Sun, Apr 16, 8:09 PM

     As with other workss by this author, Chicago playwright Rebecca Gilman's "The Sweetest Swing in Baseball" takes a potentially interesting question about the intersection of social responsibility and personal life and oversimplifies it. Her instincts trend toward melodrama and her characters are essentially stereotypes which even experienced actors may have trouble overcoming. This play did well enough in London with Gillian Andersen in the lead, but has run into criticismon this side of the pond in San Francisco and in Chicago where it's about to close.
     The main character is Dana, a contemporary painter, played with conviction by Sarah Woodhouse, seen last fall at ASP as Cordelia. Here she's possibly miscast, but seems to be enjoying the role, with its range of misery and madness, real and imagined. The author has provided her with a reported troubled background and some snappy responses, but there's not enough to make the audience really care. The other four actors in the cast each play two parts, not necessarily related. Two IRNE winners, Chris Brophy and Maureen Keillor have important, but ultimately not pivotal roles. Chris, fresh from touring as Macbeth for the New Rep, plays Dana's boyfriend, a frustrated artist who leaves her, which may precipitate her suicide attempt and a psychopathic thug in the institution where she's checked in. The strongest scene is an agon between the two of them in the occupational therapy room which unfortunately doesn't really get anywhere. Keillor plays the owner of the gallery where Dana's last show is a failure and her psychologist, Dr. Gilbert. The artist's had several therapists during the last few years. Rhonda the gallery owner is practically a stock character and Dr. Gilbert's one interesting detail, that she trained to be a dancer, is never explored. It's just another factoid.
     Similarly, the characters played by Eve Passeltiner and Adam Soule don't get beyond the traits Gilman has assigned them. Passeltiner is Rhonda's ambitious assistant and briefly, Dr. Stanton, the head of the institution, an old friend of Dana's former therapist--who died. As the assistant, she's befriended Dana, and would really like her to change allegiances when she starts her own gallery. The conflict between her friendship and self-interest is never really tested. Soule briefly plays an up-and-coming young artist, almost a walkon, and Michael, an alcoholic prone to binges.The latter character is gay computer programmer, which might be relevant but seems merely trendy. The real problem is that in eighty minutes, even with a skilled ensemble, there's not enough time to develop relationships between these characters which might lead to drama. Instead, the author seems almost be writing a parody of a parable about her own recent rise to transient fame. Gilman relies on one-liners and blackout scenes rather than actual confrontations. Moreover, the conceit that the leading character in order to stay longer at this institution than her cheap health insurance will allow, pretends to be Darryl Strawberry and finds some kind of psychic salvation thereby is a joke without a punchline, and possibly exploitative. London audiences might have accepted a Canadian playing an American artist pretending--rather badly--to be a Black baseball superstar with a checkered past and a drug habit, but here, it strikes out, to employ an obvious metaphor, as Gilman too often does.
    BTW is also hosting a breif late night run of "Gorilla Man", a definitely edgy entertainment. Check their website for details.
The Sweetest Swing in Baseball", April 13 - May 6
Boston Theatre Works in Plaza Theatre, BCA
539 Tremont , (617) 933 - 8600 Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (1976) adapted by Rich. C. George
from Roald Dahl's book (1963) Date: Sun, Apr 9, 7:58 PM

     After two fairly serious show's aimed at older children, WFT's spring offering is a technologically updated version of a 1976 adaptation of Roald Dahl's darkly comic classic, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Richard C. George script is fairly typical children's theatre fare, even with director/designer James P. Byrne's showmanship. Dahl's literary merit is quickly lost in the toing-and-froing. Turning the narrator into a T.V. news personality, Played by Dan Bolton, and using video to separate the sections of the story doesn't disguise the oversimplification of the tale and its moral. But squads of kids get to participate, as stage children, as Oompa-Loompas, and as Squirrels.
     The role of the mysterious chocolatier, Willy Wonka, is taken by WFT General manager Jane Staab, who won't be mistaken for either Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp. Charlie Bucket is played by Khalil K. Fleming, seem this time last year as Jack. His Grandpa Joe is done by WFT veteran Mansur, while Grandma Josephine falls another regular, Ilyse Robbins. Mr. Bucket is Harold Withee, currently touring with the New Rep's Macbeth while Mrs. is done by Jackie Davis from Our Place Theatre. Both were seen last December in "Promises, Promises." The four other holders of the wonderful Golden Ticket, which lets lucky children tour the Chocolate Factory are Andrew Schlager(gluttonous Augustus Gloop), Talia Weingarten(demanding Veruca Salt), Laura Morell(gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde). and, from Stoneham--seen last fall in "Pal Joey, "--Andrew Barbato as (TV addict Mike Teavee). Each meets their appropriate fate with adequate theatrical effects. Their parents are Susan Bigger (Mrs. Gloop), John Davin and Lisa Korak( the wealthy Salts), Gamalia Pharms (Mrs. Beaurergarde), and Darius Omar Williams as Major TeaVee. Greg Nash is Grandpa George, and Pharms doubles as Grandma Georgina,
     The show takes place on a simple set and in the house, lit by IRNE winner John R. Malinowski. It was choreographed by IRNE winner Laurel Stachowicz, with costumes by Lisa Simpson, who also dresses the Gold Dust Orphans. Andy Aldous handled the sound, Tim McCarthy produced the Comedy Central style videos along with animator Michael Duplessis. The electronic captioning from c2 fits right into the rest of the effects. Fans of the book may find a few things missing, and those who just saw the most recent movie will notice some differences. If there's no edgier script available for this first book, perhaps someone should extract one from "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator," Dahl's sequel, a take on the future and space travel--circa 1972.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (1976) adapted by Rich. C. George, Apr. 7 - May 14
Wheelock Family Theatre at Wheelock College
200 The Riverway, Boston (617) 879 - 2300 Wheelock Family Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Maternal Instinct" by Monica Bauer
Date: Sun, April 2 , 6:49 PM

     The Out of the Blue Co. is currently presenting their annual Actors' Equity Showcase production of a new play at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre. This year it's "The Maternal Instinct" by BPT alumna Monica Bauer. The script began as a 10 minute script called "Ouch" and has grown into a two act full-length play. Still seemingly in development, not all of its scenes seem quite fully grown. Moreover, it's hard to decide whether this is a 21st century family drama with comic moments, or a very dark comedy of contemporary manners.
     The principle characters are a married lesbian couple--this being Massachusetts. Alisha Jansky plays Sarah, a special ed teacher, the wife of Lillian, an ambitious professor of biochemistry at one of our universities, played by Karen Woodward Massey. Sarah wants a baby, Lillian is unalterably opposed. Lillian's sister, Emma, who has two kids of her own, played by Rena Baskin, has been conspiring with Sarah to find a donor. Eventually this role falls to Lillian's friend and mentor, Fred, the head of her department, played by Stephen Cooper. Eachmember of this unlikely menage a trois has an encounter in the Public Garden with an incoherent drunken woman whose vocabulary consisted mostly of the word "Ouch." Played by Elise Manning,this homeless souse, who is also pregnant, provides a catalyst for the final action, or so it seems. Like many current scripts, things are left rather up in the air as the lights fade out for the last time.
     Production values on a set by Loann West are basic but sufficient. A full-scale production for this 13 scene play might require a revolve and a small side wagon, but this version survives without them. The ensemble acquits itself well under Melissa J. Wentworth's direction, going for realistic rather than comic timing in most cases. The viewpoint of the play does veer from almost satirical to realistic emotions with no clear line of action, however. Still, the social problems it explores, and the deeper question of how family background influences adult relationships, are interestingly developed, worth attention--and further rewrites.
"The Maternal Instinct" by Monica Bauer, March 30 - April 16
Out of the Blue Theatre Co. at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (866) 811 - 4111 Out of the Blue

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Merrily We Roll Along" by Stephen Sondheim & Geo. Furth
Date: Fri, Mar 31 11:12 PM

     Sondheim fans who missed the Vokes' production last fall, or who would like to catch "Merrily WE Roll Along" again, can spend an energetic evening with the Longwood Players, a recent addition to community based production companies in the city. Heading up the strong ensemble cast for this revival of a 1981 show--revised and revised again until it finally worked in 1994--are Don Ringuette as Frank Shepard (Inc.), Michael Kripchak as Charley Kringas, his best friend and lyricist, and Katie Pickett as Mary Flynn, a novelist and their longtime friend. They're joined by Shannon Muhs as Frank's first wife Beth, Frances Betlyon as his second wife, Broadway star Gussie Carnegie, plus Kevin Ashworth as Gussie's first husband, Joe Josephson, a producer and Clint Randell as Tyler, their friend who invents the phone answering machine, and invests in their shows.
     Director Lisa Hackman makes the show's backwards plot work as well as it can--the first scene is in 1976 and the show ends in 1957, and the ensemble with the help of costume designer Deborah Hobson moves back through the periods. The set is well conceived by Amy Vlastelica but the execution could be refined. Music director Jeremy Lang gets a good sound out of his eight piece ensemble while vocal director Paul Mattal prepared the cast for some of Sondheim's tricker passages quite sufficiently. Casting a show where the actors must seem to be twenty years older in the opening scene at a Hollywood party than at the end where they're on a rooftop in the Village watching Sputnik overhead is a feat in itself. What this production lacks in polish, it makes up for in energy. And it fits quite well into Durrell Hall.
"Merrily We Roll Along" by Stephen Sondheim & Geo. Furth, Mar 31 - Apr. 8
Longwood Players in Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA
820 Mass. Ave., Central Sq. (1-800) 595 -4TIX Longwood Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Orpheus X"" by Rinde Eckert
Date: Thur, Mar 30, 11:04 PM
Quicktake on ORPHEUS X

     Rinde Eckert's second effort at post-modern opera for the A.R.T is even more self-referential than his first sojourn, "Highway Ulysses," two seasons ago. This time the author composer's front and center himself as Orpheus, modernized into a popstar singer/songwriter. Euridyce isn't his wife in this version, she's a poetess accidentally killed by the cab X's riding in one night. The part's sung by Suzan Hanson, last heard at the ART in Philip Glass' "Sound of a Voice." This time she's also seen nude in the video loops by Brookline's Denise Marika which form an integral part of the spectacle. The remaining two roles are done by John Kelly, seen last season as Cupid in "Dido, Queen of Carthage". He plays Orpheus' business manager and then Persephone, Queen of the Dead, without changing costume however.
     This 90 minute project, directed by Robert Woodruff, has interesting moments, and as a gloss on the legend, thematic potential. Writing on the walls is once again prominent, and possibly more meaningful for this story. David Zinn's abstract set revisits the reflective qualities of plexiglas and features two faux steel beams as projection surfaces for Marika's contribution. IRNE winner Christopher Akerlind's lighting compliments the scenery. The show has occasional flashes of brilliance, but somehow seems very indulgent. Artistic self-absorbtion as a theme is limiting, especially when production effects overshadow the music. There's an impression that the author, composer, and main actor would play all the parts if he could.
"Orpheus X"" by Rinde Eckert,
ART at Zero Arrow St.
Corner Mass. Ave & Arrow, Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 ART

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Road Home..." by Marc Wolfe
Date: Wednesday, March 29, 2006

     The last time he was in town, OBIE winner Marc Wolfe got an IRNE award as Best Solo performer for "Another American; Asking and Telling." This time his patriotism has led him to consider 9/11/02, by way of a 7,000 mile journey from Seattle back to New York. "The Road Home; Re-membering America" is made of his interpretations, without costume changes or special props, of conversations he recorded along the way. Through Wolfe we meet West Coast radicals, a Native American, a raucous German hitchhiker, a Muslim Public Health Service dentist in Mississippi, a Maylaysian mystic at an ashram, and a New York architectural critic, among others. At end Wolfe still has some magic beans given him by Eartha, the daughter of a hippie from Redwood California. He hasn't planted them yet, but this show is perhaps preparing the soil.
The HTC production was directed by David Schweizer, best known for radical opera productions. Working with Wolfe must be almost a vacation. Scene designer Andrew Lieberman whose also done a few operas takes advantage of the Wimberley's facilities to create a deceptively simple set and together with Peter West's lighting provides projected backdrops and signage to move things along. Robert Kaplowitz provides an effective soundscape and original score. "The Road Home..." , like Soans' "Talking to Terrorists" which Sugan is playing next door in the Plaza, is yet another example of how verbatim material from real-life situations is being transformed for today's theatre, using the particular skills of the artists involved.
"The Road Home; Re-membering America" by Marc Wolfe, Mar.24 - April 30
HTC at BCA Wimberley
527 Tremont, (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Talley's Folly" by Lanford Wilson
Date: Sun, March 26, 11:50 PM
Quicktake on TALLEY'S FOLLY

     Some Pulitzer Prize dramas age better than others. Lanford Wilson's "Talley's Folly," the second play in his hometown trilogy resonates just as deeply as it did in 1979 -- post- Vietnam. In this long one act with only two characters. Wilson evokes all the history which bedevils the Talley clan in "The Fifth of July" and "Talley & Son"
    Marianna Bassham is luminous as Sally Talley, thirty and unmarried, stuck living with her difficult family, the richest people in this rural town. WHAT's Steven Russell gets beyond the ghost of Judd Hirsch to create his own appealing Matt Friedman, an accountant from St. Louis, shipped to this county to escape WWI, come to claim Sally in marriage in the midst of WWII. Director Adam Zahler, in his usual economical style, brings the two together, eventually.
    Janie Howland's fragmented "folly" of a ruined boathouse floats on the Lyric stage, well lit by John Cuff. Dewey Dellay's soundscape evokes the riverside and distant band music across water nicely. Lanford Wilson's ouevre hasn't been seen here often enough recently. This fine Lyric production may reminds other producers of his mastery of language and almost Chekovian characterization.
"Talley's Folly" by Lanford Wilson, Mar. 24 - Apr. 22
Lyric Stage Company at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon, (617) 585 - 5678 Lyric Stage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A More Perfect Union" by Kirsten Greenidge
Date: Thurs, Mar 23, 11:38 PM

     Company One's current show, "A More Perfect Union" written by Kirsten Greenidge, is theatrical collage in the style they've developed. This show's in conjunction with the Boston Arts Academy, directed by Juanita A. Rodriguez from that high school's faculty., and funded in part by the Surdna Foundation. About half of the cast are Boston Academy students playing various young people. The script weaves together several contemporary storylines; a lost twelve-year old Katrina refugee, a Moldovan mother searching for her daughter who's been forced into prostitution, a CNN stringer sent to jail for leading a protest, an angry half-Hispanic cop and his idealistic half-Irish sister, and of special interest to the students, the case of Obain Ottouoman, a Boston math teacher from Ivory Coast being deported over an immigration technicality.
     The first act, complete with multimedia projections, is somewhat muddled, but everything becomes clearer by the end of the show--and a trifle preachy. However, the action is continually interesting, the acting is energetic and believable. Doublas Theodore is very creditable as Obain, Our Place stalwart David Curtis is Coop the CNN reporter, and Mary Driscoll is convincing as the distraught Moldovan mother. Tina Do and Damean Hollis show up between scenes as typical teenagers, a kind of comic chorus. Eladio Banks, who participated in the demonstrations supporting Obain, is the luckless prep school guy who runs afoul of Raymond Ramirez's angry cop.
     Technical support is impressive, with an multilevel unit set by Mark Buchanan, responsible for the lighting as well. Video projections by Joseph Doullette and abstracted costumes by Jennifer Varekamp give the show a unique look. The end of the script seems a bit abrupt, as if development weren't quite complete. If Company One does indeed take this show to the Edinburgh Festival, perhaps that can be remedied.
"A More Perfect Union" by Kirsten Greenidge, March 9 - April 1
Company One at Plaza Black Box
BCA, 539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Company One

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Talking with Terrorists" by Robin Soans
Date: Sun, Mar 19 12:21 AM

     Anyone bemoaning the lack of international political awareness on the Boston stage should get down to the BCA for the American premiere of Robin Soans' "Talking with Terrorists" presented by Sugan. This verbatim docu-drama juxtaposes IRA and Loyalists, African child soldiers, the Palestinian intafada, Kurdish nationalism and Iraq plus a few British politicians. Eight talented actors shift between the former and the latter, playing overlapping scenes against an emblematic set created by J. Michael Griggs. Carmel O'Reilly has once again created a strong theatrical statement from a script hot off the London stage.
    It may be too much to hope that some playwright in this country will adopt the same technique to chastise our government for its gross shortcomings so far this millennium. "Stuff Happens" will open soon in New York. A play by Elizabeth Wyatt based on Rachel Corrie ran in January at Boston Playwrights. The Theatre Coop has Barbara Jordan recreated on its stage at the moment, and Company One is once again taking on current issues in the Black Box next door. But where's the response to the soon to be 3000 servicemen and women killed in Iraq, not to mention ten times as many Iraqis, and the continued bumbling and fraud in the aftermath of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Plus out of control oil prices, etc., etc., etc. Jimmy Tingle can't do it all by himself, and much of it isn't really a laughing matter. Boston Playwrights, it's your job now.
"Talking with Terrorists" by Robin Soans, Mar. 17 - April 8
Sugan Theatre Company in Plaza Theatre, BCA
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Sugan Theatre Company

Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 14:35:56 -0500 (EST) From: MikeyHammond@aol.com
Subject: SPAM-A-LOT

If any of you are wondering how SPAM-A-LOT in Boston compares to the Broadway Production... WELL, wonder no more! The show was great! Some performers were better... some were not as good... but if you had nothing to compare, I don't think you would notice or care! This cast seemed to have much more energy than the Broadway cast. The set was exactly the same as far I could tell. One major difference was... the Boston Audience seemed to REALLY get the jokes that came from the Monty Python films. The laughter in Boston was exuberant, while the laughter in New York was scattered and unpredictable. Lost on the Boston audience however, were the theatre references... such as when one character breaks into "Another Hundred People Just Got Off of the Train." The show is quite fun and enjoyable. I would say, "Don't Miss It" if you are able to get a ticket.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Bill W. and Dr. Bob" by Bergman & Surrey
Date: Thurs, Mar 16, 11:35 PM
Quicktake on BILL W. AND DR. BOB

     Perhaps of most interest to those committed to the 12 step process, "Bill W. and Dr. Bob" is a very American piece of theatre, in the tradition of temperance melodramas. There's even Todd Gordon at the upright providing a musical background to somewhat excessive scene changes. The pace of the show is intentionally deliberate. The cast, led by consumate pros Robert Krakovski and Patrick Husted in the title roles, is solid, humanizing their characters as much as possible. Rachel Harker and Kathleen Doyle play the wives without descending into soap opera, while Marc Carver and Deanna Dunmyer play all the other roles, perhaps too many of them. Carver and Harker have been seen before at the New Rep, any of the others would be welcome again.
     "Bill W. and Dr. Bob" may be seen off-Broadway next year. It will be interesting to see if the piece attracts the same committed audiences that have led the New Rep to add shows to the current run. Fine tuning the script and a slightly less cumbersome scene change approach might help pick up the pace. And some sort of social counterpoint might make things less simplistic.
"Bill W. and Dr. Bob" by Stephen Bergman and Janet Surrey, Mar. 5 - 26
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown Arsenal, (617) 923 - 8487 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Seven Rabbits on a Pole" by John C. Picardi
Date: Thur, Mar 9, 11:22 PM

     The second of John Picardi's proposed ten plays exploring Italian-Americans in Massachusetts during the decades of the last century is having its New England premiere at Stoneham. The evening is long on plot and somewhat stereotypical as far as character goes, but director Robert Jay Cronin guides his skilled cast through the storyline for a satisfying if somewhat melodramatic show. The most notable performances are by the ladies, IRNE-winner Cheryl McMahon and Stoneham regular Robyn Eizabeth Lee. McMahon uses her comic skills gently to humanize the WASP neighbor of this Italian farm family growing vegetables near Wollaston beach. Lee, who's been seen mostly as an ingenue, stands out playing the "simple" daughter, Julia, an autistic young woman yearning for love. The men of the family, Barry M. Press as patriarch Enio, sturdy older brother Peter, and Robert Antonelli as college-educated Lawrence are far more stereotyped, limited by expository writing and predictable action from developing unique characters. Timothy J. Smith, seen as the Narrator in "A Prayer for Owen Meany" has the much more interesting part of Q. Turner, a Detroit area autoworker who's left his family back on the farm to come East looking for work. He arrives peddling rabbits he's caught in the Blue Hills. He stays because he might be able to fix the tractor.
     This full length drama, which might be more comfortably divided into three acts instead of two, is presented with Stoneham's usual flair, including a striking selective realism farmyard designd by Charlie Wilson and careful period costuming by Rachel Kurland-Foxglove. One can only hope that Picardi's next play(s) are better structured, and perhaps that this one, already published might be reworked.
"Seven Rabbits on a Pole" by John C. Picardi, Mar. 2 - 19
Stoneham Theatre
539 Main St. Stoneham, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ?The Fox" by Allan Miller, based on D.H.Lawrence?s novella
Date: Sun, Mar 5, 4:30 PM
Quicktake on THE FOX

    This season?s effort by Lila Levitina's Basement on the Hill Stage is the local premiere of Allan Miller?s adaptation of D. H. Lawrence?s novella ?The Fox?, another tale of lust and death in the ?Lady Chatterley? mode, without the class implications. As usual, Levitina has drawn on her Russian theatre background to employ effective symbolic elements which are quite in keeping with Lawrence?s underlying psychological methods. The cast for this long one-act are all young local actors, quite at home with the production?s physically expressive style. The only caveat is that the two women, Robin Rapport as frail Jill and Grace Summers as sturdy Nellie may be a bit too young for their roles. Greg Raposa is more or less the right age and type for Harry, a soldier on leave.
     None the less the cast does a good job at this rather timeless interpretation. Levitina and her design team--Masha Lifshin and Leonid Osseny, setting; Emily Romm, music; Olga Ivanov and Irina Romm, costumes and props; Felix Ivanov, choreography--bring a common expressionist sensibility to this production which set more recently than its WWI rural English background. A period production might make Jill and Nelly's retreat to the countryside to further their closeted relationship easier to understand, and Henry?s appearance which takes on the aura of a fox spirit from the mythic past clearer. However, the symbolism which breaks through the realistic action at intervals is however clear enough.
     The set is appropriate for the informal nature of Hall A, which is a big improvement over cramped Leland , and effectively lit by Matthew Breton. Overhanging branches suggest the looming wood outside. The production is a reminder of the expressionist tradition which is still strong throughout the former U.S.S.R. and not seen here enough.
?The Fox" by Allan Miller, Mar.2-18
Basement on the Hill at Calderwood, Hall A
527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600
Basement on the Hill Stage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Buried Child" by Sam Shepard
Date: Sat., Mar. 4, 2006 8:57 AM
Quicktake on BURIED CHILD

     It's been a good year for Sam Shepard here in Boston. And Hovey Players' ambitious season continues with a respectable production of his Pulitzer prize winning gothic family drama, "Buried Child"--the reworked 1995 version which incidentally just had a run in NYC.      IRNE winning director Bill Doscher has crafted a solid show with a cast of experienced actors from varying backgrounds. Mike Lydon is the crippled father Dodge, with a unique vocabulary, unable to move far from the couch center stage. Sandi McDonald is mother Halie, out of touch, either upstairs with her pictures or gallivanting with her pastor Father Dewis, played by Mark Bourbeau. John Greiner-Ferris is an eerie Tilden, the eldest son, back home from his troubles in New Mexico, finding corn--and more--out back where none's been planted for years. Jason Beals is brutal one-legged Bradley, the younger surviving son, even more out of control. Joe Coffey is Tilden's son, Vince, back for an unannounced visit, along with his prescient girlfriend Shelley, played by Stephanie Romano. These seemingly mismatched band of players pull Shepard's unique dramatic vision together while hurtling through three short acts. "Buried Child" is a lurching piece of modern Absurdist drama, with roots in O'Neill and Beckett, and maybe Vhekov, and even deeper roots in the original tragic vision of family tragedy and madness.
"Buried Child" by Sam Shepard, Mar.4 - 18
Hovey Players at Abbott Theatre
9 Spring St., (781) 647 - 1211 Hovey Players

From: larry stark
Friday, 3 March 2006

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas
Date: Wed, March 1, 10:58 PM
Quicktake on UNDER MILK WOOD

     The award-winning Wellesley Summer Theatre jump starts the season with an ensemble production of Dylan Thomas' evocation of one spring day in a small Welsh fishing village much like his hometown. For "Under Milk Wood", director Nora Hussey has once again combined her veteran professionals with top student actresses in the company's unique style to evoke some fifty odd--often very odd--characters.
     The cast is headed up by Ed and Charlotte Peed, Lisa Foley, and Jackson Royal. Ed is memorable as the poetical Rev. Jenkins , Willy Nilly Postman and Mr. Pugh, the would-be poisoner and schoolmaster. Charlotte plays a collection of wives, from Mrs. Willy Nilly, who steams open the mail to Mrs. Pugh, the target of her husband's obsession. Lisa Foley is notable as Mrs. Ogmore Pritchard living with the ghosts of her two henpecked husbands and Rosie Probert, blind Capt. Cat's lost love. The old sailor is played by Jackson Royal, who hears the town from dawn to dusk from his window at the Sailors' Arms, which is home to Maryann Sailors, the oldest woman in town, also played by Foley. Spencer Christie is her son, Sinbad Sailors, the publican, supply bitter black ale to Derek Stone Nelson as Mr. Waldo, the town drunk. Stone is also the town's offical madman, Lord Cut Glass, who lives in a small house full of clocks. Sinbad is secretly in love with student company member Sarah Barton's Gossamer Beynon. the schoolmarm, daughter of the butcher. The Peeds play her parents. Newcomer student Rebecca Floyd plays Lily Smalls, dreaming of being "wicked" while herding goats. Gossamer is one of the object's of Spencer's Nogood Boyo's lust. Recent grad Victoria George is wayward Polly Garter, nursing another bastard and dreaming of "Little Willy Wee, who is dead, dead, dead" as well as Myfanwy Price, who keeps the sweet shop and carries on a postal romance with Mog Edwards, the draper at the other end of town, who's played by Marc Harpin. Haprin also plays the music-mad organist, Organ Morgan, the trial of his wife, played by Sarah Barton. And that's just a sampling of the inhabitants which the ensemble switches between effortlessly.
    "Under Milk Wood" was originally written for a radio presentation, but has been produced onstage for the last half century--not often enough-- by companies brave enough to attempt it. The Burtons made a flawed but interesting movie of the piece in Wales, using mostly local actors. Production manager and lighting designer Ken Loewit, with set designer Tim. S. Hanna, have arranged the R.N.Jones Studio in the round with atmospheric lighting behind the seating, illuminating walls hung with netting an scraps of sails. Loewit's lighting effectively defines acting areas and the time of day. The unit set is a dock-like raised central platform with mooring posts conveniently placed for seating. The ensemble accessorizes their basic early 20th-century rural costumes, designed by Nancy Stevenson, with hats, shoes, and hand props to help change character, Two young women fiddlers, who didn't make it into the program, provide live music and effects. WST's next production is Oscar Wilde's least produced and most serious comedy, "An Ideal Husband" coming along May 30th. "Under Milk Wood" has only eleven more performances. It's worth the short drive to Wellesley.
"Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas, Mar.1 - 19
Wellesley Summer Theatre in Ruth Nagel Jones Studio
Alumni Hall, Wellesley College (781) 283 - 2000 Wellesley Summer Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Full Monty" by Terrence McNally & David Yazbek
Date: Sun, Feb 26, 9:36 PM
Quicktake on THE FULL MONTY

     If you didn't spend a fortune to see "The Full Monty" when it blew through on natonal tour, or get out to NSMT's version back in their own theater, this production at Turtle Lane is quite respectable. In a way it's more convincing to see the folks who give their time and talent to this venue doing this particular show than to watch a slicker professional cast pretending to be blue collar. The six guys who decide to become male strippers all have strong voices and make a good show of dancing badly. This motley ensemble is lead by James casey as Jerry who's divorced and Harold, played by James Tallach, whose marriage is on the rocks. Among the woman, Tracy Nygard is good as the wife of a laid-off manager, while Katie Ford’s s convincing as Harold's loving spouse. Thgis is an ensemble show, with everyone doing their share, including Turle Lane’s favorite bartender as a retired vaudevillean at the piano.
    The quality of the cast makes one wish that this adaptation of a British Indie film weren't so formulaic. Terence McNally has done better But it works well enough. The orchestra under Wayne Ward is guite up to par, John McKenzie and Michelle Boll's set is efficient with a central revolveal, and Robert Itzak's costumes are believable. There show’s on through March 12. And yes the do end with the title exposure. "Guys and Dolls" is next.
"The Full Monty" by, Feb.16 - Mar.12
Turtle Lane Playhouse in Auburndale
283 Melrose St. Newton, (617) 244 - 0169
Turtle Lane

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Goat" by Edward Albee
Date: Sat. Feb. 25, 12:07 AM

     "The Goat" (or Who is Sylvia?) by Edward Albee is either the darkest comedy the dean of American Absurdist has ever written, or the first postmodern tragedy. Indeed, as director Spiro Veloudos mentions, the additional subtitle is ''Notes toward a definition of tragedy." Whatever this provocative drama is, the Lyric's production is at the highest level. Multiple award winner Paula Plum plays Stevie, the wronged wife, with range and brilliance. Stephen Schnetzer, who was brought in to replace the original male lead, brings his experience in the role on Broadway and in Washington to Martin, the bedeviled husband. He meshes perfectly with Plum. Richard Snee as Martin's best friend Ross, who knowingly precipitates disaster for his friends, plays the superficiality of that role perfectly. And young Tasso Feldman is convincingly callow as Stevie and Martin's gay teenage son Billy.
     Albee isn't shy about including everything from classical references to passing references to some of his own plays in the dialogue, constantly providing a supertext to the evolving family catastrophe caused by hapless Martin falling in love with a goat. Since the audience is aware of this incredible premise from the first, the ostensibly realistic start to the first scene of the play is already fraught with Absurd double meanings. By the second, when Stevie starts breaking various object d'arte around the set, a stunning modern living room by Brynna C. Bloomfield, there's a feeling that things really might get out of control. And in the brief third scene, the final moments are shattering as in an ancient tragedy. Considerably shorter than many of his notable works, the play packs every bit as much punch.
    This script ranks with Albee's Pulitzer prize winners; "A Delicate Balance", "Seascape", and "Three Tall Women". "The Goat" won the Tony, but like his first important play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" was passed over for the more prestigious literary award. Like most of his work, the play centers around family relationships and the potential destructive power of love, whatever form it takes. Whether or not any of the action refers to the playwright's own life story is immaterial.
"The Goat" by Edward Albee, FEB. 24 - MAR. 18
Lyric Stage Co.
140 Clarendon St., Copley Sq. (617) 585 - 5678 Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Underneath The Lintel" by Glen Berger
Date: Thurs.

     "Under the Lintel" is an intriguing one man show, given an intense reading by Jason Lambert. His indeterminate age and lack of accent immediately raises some questions, none of which are really answered. Barlow Adamson, who also did Shakespeare's "R&J" for this company, has directed the piece economically, without forcing any particular interpretation on Glen Berger's complex monodrama. The set has a somewhat improvised air which only adds to concerns whether Lambert's Librarian is merely obsessive, or involved in some deeper mystery concerning the obscure myth this archetypical functionary is pursuing. Mill 6 continues to find and produce challenging plays of literary interest using some of the best talent available. Now if they could only find a slightly larger and equally affordable venue, so more people could see them.

"Underneath The Lintel" by Glen Berger 791 Tremont Street (Rear), (866) 811 - 4111 Mill6

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Othello" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Sun, Feb 19,
Quicktake on OTHELLO

     With "Othello", Boston Theatre Works has achieved a level of Shakespearean production beyond their past efforts. The show is bolstered by a cast lead by Jonathan Epstein and Tony Molina, two Shakespeare and Company veterans who played this piece in Lenox, as Iago and the title role. In addition, Susanna Apgar, who trained and acted with S&C plays Desdemona, while Iago's wife is played by Elizabeth Aspenlieder, a ten year member of the company. The remainder of the reduced cast includes ART grad and filmmaker Trey Burvant as Michael Cassio, local actor Michael McKeogh as Iago's pigeon Roderigo, while Publick Theatre and Shakespeare Now! hand Gerard Slattery takes on both the Doge of Venice and a functionary on Cyprus where the action happens. Actor and retired teacher Ray Jenness, now with the Gloucester Stage Company, plays Desdemona's father, the Governor of Cyprus, and the Venetian emissary at the end of the play, while Claire Shinkman, whose last Shakespearean role was Laertes in last summer's Theatre in the Raw "Hamlet" at the Theatre Coop, is a Venetian senator and Cassio's bawdy playmate Bianca. These nine form a tight ensemble more than capable of illuminating this play.
     The show is performed on a plain abstract set by Zeynep Bakkal, with a distant strip of sky seen behind large revolving doors at the back and no furniture, just a low central platform. John R. Malinowski has designed simple but effective lighting which changes with the mood of the play as much as the action. Rachel Padula Shufelt's costumes are modern, minimal, and very effective. Cam Willard's soundscape, with wind, storm, alarums, and musical backgrounds moves the action along. Jason Slavick has directed the show with an economy that matches the production, relying on his experienced cast and the words of the Bard to carry the action. Compared to the ART's mirror backed extravaganza several seasons ago, or the touring version the Guthrie recently brought in, this production digs deeper into the conundrum of Othello's tragedy, leaving the audience with more to think about, and Epstein and Molina's artful performances to remember.
"Othello" by Wm. Shakespeare, Feb. 16 - Mar 11
Boston Theatre Works in Plaza Theatre
BCA, 539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit" by Gerard Alessandrini
Date: Fri, Feb 17, 11:42 PM

     He's Back. The latest version of Needham native Gerard Alessandrini's satirical view of Broadway, the 2005 edition, is running for a month in larger new theatre at the BCA. A decade ago, an earlier edition of this parodic formula played for six and one/half years in Boston at the Terrace Room. The concept transfers well enough to a conventional proscenium stage, the kind of stage where most of its targets appear.
     The talented ensemble, Janet Dickinson, Valerie Fagan, Kevin McGlynn, and Nick Verina, with music director Catherine Stornetta at the piano takes on Broadway past and present. This includes "Wicked" due here shortly and the interminable "Les Mis..." on its way out, though next season's edition will probably find a way to attack the fact that MacIntosh is reopening his cash cow on Broadway. Most of the humor is broad and basic, but the pace is breakneck as usual. It helps to have seen the shows and the Annual Tony Awards on television, to know vaguely what was hot in 2005 (and what flopped), but the absurdity of the current production milieu on Broadway, which Alessandrini considers "a crime" is obvious. Media stars like Christina Applegate take their knocks, "Avenue Q" and Julie Taymor's "Lion King" take their lumps, and will no doubt get a few more in years to come.
    While the level of satire hardly approached Culture Clash's visit last spring under HTC auspices. this spoof will probably due better, helping to keep the lights bright down on its end of Tremont. The performers have voices and charm to match any who've toured into town in "legitimate" vehicles, and would be welcome as leads for NSMT or Reagle, or in fact, on HTC's mainstage. Alessandrini's contribution to the American Musical Theatre may not be soley as is fondest critic, but for keeping the revue format alive and kicking.
"Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit" by Gerard Alessandrini, Feb.14-Mar.12
Wimberley Theatre in Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 presented by H.T.C.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Romeo & Juliet" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Wed, Feb 15, 11:45 PM
Quicktake on ROMEO & JULIET

     The A.R.T.'s reputation for making Shakespeare tedious remains unblemished with this latest production. There was some hope that when Hungarian Janos Szasz defected to do a movie, a new director, Israeli Gadi Roll, might avoid some of the excesses usually perpetrated, especially when the black actor playing Romeo left over "creative differences" to be replaced by ART/MXART graduate Mickey Solis, who'd been originally cast as Benvolio. No such luck; the auteur strikes again. The current production is Shakespeare played at full bellow in eccentric modern dress on a stage, a rectangle covered with dark sand, placed between two halves of the audience,. The acoustics of the Loeb are made worse by this arrangement, so much so that some of the cast. even seasoned ART members, seem to be getting hoarse. Or it could be the particles floating in the air from the powdery stage covering.
     The show is made longer by incessant scenery rearrangement, which has stagehands in black in the darkness unrolling and rerolling carpets, removing and resetting chairs and stand lights. Almost all humor has been squelched along with almost every trace of romance. The biggest laugh is unintentional as Juliet clambers down a ladder from the steel "balcony" which extends from the rear to over the house stage right. Her cowboy boots, worn on alll occasions, are the final touch. Romeo and his friends are upper class hoodlums given to wielding knives, obviouysly fake and wooden, which makes the fight scenes athletic exercises. There have been a number of productions hereabouts featuring the star-crossed lovers, including the New Rep's inaugural effort last fall, which used modern dress and contemporary metaphors to reinvigorate the play. This attempt in international style is the least successful. Fortunately, Shakespeare fans have BTW's "Othello" starring Jonathan Epstein opening this weekend at the BCA or Trinity's idiosyncratic "Hamlet" as options.
"Romeo & Juliet" by Wm. Shakespeare, Feb.4 - Mar.16
A.R.T. at Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St. Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Possibilities" by Howard Barker
Date: Sat, Feb 11,10:44 PM

     Social conscious theatre continues at CWT with a new company, Whistler In The Dark, presenting English poet and playwright Howard Barker's series of moral fables, "The Possibilities", an ensemble show originally created by The Wrestling School, an experimental theatre group in London. These hard edged intellectual pieces, the bloody-minded British equivalent of Brecht's Lehrstuck, resonate with current worldwide unrest even more than they did in the '90s when they were written. The name of the group, incidentally, comes from an admonition in one of the two poems used to introduce the show.
     An ensemble, four women and three men, mostly recent theatre grads, present these pieces briskly under the direction of Meg Taintor, the group's Co-Artistic Director. The cast includes Timothy F. Hoover, seen at TheatreZone last season as Tom Joad, Brian Quint who just did "Romance 101" with Lowell's new Image Theatre, and very tall Andrew Winson who was in the Theatre Coop's "Our Country's Good" last fall. Sarah Huling most recently appeared with the Czech-American Marionette Theatre in "The Book of Esther", Lorna McKenzie has worked with Footlight, Walpole, Medway, and Destruction, Jennifer O'Connor was also seen in TheatreZone's "Grapes of Wrath" while Sarah Pauline Robinson graduated from Brandeis/Theatre Arts last May. WITD has assembled a good ensemble of physical actors for their first effort. Their next one will be Eric Overmeyer's "In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe."
"The Possibilities" by Howard Barker, Feb.11 - Mar. 4
Whistler in the Dark at Charlestown Working Theatre
442 Bunker Hill Ave., Charlestown (617) 945 - 9033 Whistler In The Dark

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Flesh & Blood" by Peter Gaiten
                 based on a novel by Michael Cunningham
Date:Sat., Feb. 11, 1:08 AM
Quicktake on FLESH AND BLOOD

    Peter Gaiten's reduction of Pulitizer Prize winning novelist Michael Cunningham's novel "Flesh and Blood" for the stage is only sporadically successful. Try as they might, David J. Miller and his cast of eleven actors rarely get beyond the soap opera nature of this family saga, filled with cliche situations and contemporary hot button issues. The playwright's first error was to stick largely to the serial nature of the novel, which traces three generation of an American family which sprung from a poor Greek immigrant and a working class girl from New Jersey. While the scene does expand to include New York, its suburbs, and Boston, it doesn't capture any specific locale. Miller's unit set, as usual well-done and allowing for a fluid presentation given the limitation of the BCA Black Box, is more decorative than necessary and rather than becoming a symbol of the father's aspirations, is more of an interesting obstacle course.
     The father of the Stassos family, Constantine, who came here as a young man, is played by veteran local actor, Robert D. Murphy, who develops a believable character from rather thin soil. Maureen Aducci, as Mary, the mother of the three children whose overlapping fates provide much of the action, has more chance to develop a complex role, and does so with grace, as she's done in past seasons at the Theatre Coop. The showiest part is Cassandra, taken beyond stereotype by Dan Minkle, who finds in this drag-queen/shoplifter with a heart of gold perhaps the production's most intriguing, if still sparse, character. Seen at the Publick in past seasons in roles such as Ajax and often at Ren Faires, Minkle's burly presence combined with bitchy dialogue is a bright spot in the production.
     The children are Susan (Angela Rose), the oldest, with complex sexual issues concerning her father, Mason Sand as Will, aka Billy, who comes out while studying at Harvard, and Zoe (Melissa Baroni), who never grows up and runs off to the Village where she eventually contracts AIDS after fathering an illegitimate black child. Each has enough plot complications and psychological baggage to have a play of their own. This excess results in a long show with very little resolution. Some novels just aren't suitable to transfer to the stage. While "the sins of the father(s)" is a venerable device, in this case it becomes an embarrassment of cliches. The cast, which also includes Claude Del (Jamal), Andrew Dufresne(Todd, Susan’s husband), Eliza Lay(Magda), Gregory Maraio(Ben, her son Both the), and Achilles Vatrikas(Harry) tries hard and does achieve a number of effective moments as they play themselves--and additional characters--from 1935 to 2035. However, the mixture of partial realism, pop culture sensationalism, and poetic symbolism--as witness the character names--never gels. Still, Zeitgeist makes its usual brave effort at producing a show not likely to get done otherwise hereabouts. Various members of the audience may take home a range of viewpoints from this disjointed family saga, which barely touches on the poltical and social changes during the periods it covers.
"Flesh & Blood" by Peter Gaiten, Feb. 10 - Mar. 4
Zeitgeist Stage Co. at BCA Plaza Black Box
539 Tremont , (617) 933 - 8600 Zeitgeist Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - “Sara Crewe” book & lyrics - Susan Kosoff, music Jane Staab
            based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1904 novel>br> Date: Sun Feb. 5.,7:33 PM

     The revival of Kosoff & Staab’s adaptation of Mrs. Burnett’s famous novel—right behind “The Secret Garden”— is first rate musical theatre for anyone old enough—and still unjaded— to appreciate its romantic moral. The trials and tribulations of a young girl losing her station and being demoted from a proveleged “princess” princess to a menial still resonates. Andrea Ross in the title role is supported by some of the best musical theatre performers in town and a believable cast of other young actors, all tightly directed by Jane Staab. Music director Jonathan Goldberg has improved the orchestrations. Janie Howland has created a two level revolving set right up to her usual standard, as currently on display in Speakeasy’s “Five by Tenn” and Marian Piro's period costumes are a finishing touch. WFT’s 25th anniversary season continues with another sterling show. Suspend your belief in the ungoodness of humanity and go back to the pre-WWI optimism for a spell. It might do you and any young people you take along some good.

“Sara Crewe” book & lyrics - Susan Kosoff, music Jane Staab, Feb.3 - 26 (matinees school vacation week)
Wheelock Family Theatre at Wheelock College Auditorium
200 The Riverway / (617 )879-2147
Wheelock Family Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "No Politics!" by Patrick Brennan
Date: Sat, Feb 4, 11:21 PM
Quicktake on NO POLITICS

     The second play in the Theatre Coop's annual developmental series, Patrick Brennan's "No Politics" had a workshop production this Friday and Saturday. It's a promising family comedy with more than a little touch of sit-com. Jack (Christopher Mack), who runs the Website for a local PBS station and his wife Amy(Elizabeth Brunette), who also works have just found out she's pregnant after eight years of marriage. Her father, Arthur Riley(Peter Brown), who manages a McDonald's and his second wife, Carol(Katheryne Holland) are coming over to dinner. They're Reagan Republicans, Jack and Amy are vegetarian Democrats. Amy's mother, Arthur's first wife Diane (Debbie Friedlander) is also coming over. She's also a Republican. It's the eve of the Iraq War. Both Amy and Carol have made their husbands promise "No Politics."
     At present Brennan's play has a good start on character and tone, an interesting premise which pits family relationships against political viewpoints, and a lot of plot potential. As a one act it's bursting at the seams and needs to expand into a two act comedy with an occasional moment for reflection. The experienced cast under Daniel Bourque's direction did a respectable job with the material in its current form.
     This year's series began with Linda Carmichael's drama, "Life's Morsel" last month, and on Feb. 17 & 18, George Matry Masselem's "Beating Death" gets its chance. The Coop's regular season continues in March with Katherine Thatcher's "Voices of Good Hope", about Congresswoman Barbara Jordan with Michelle Dowd taking that role. The season will finish with another play by Vladimir Zelevinsky, the premiere of "Manifest Destiny", a play about immigration. Zelevinsky's earlier plays at the Coop were developed in the same process that the three this year are undergoing.
"No Politics!" by Patrick Brennan, Feb.3-4
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House,
277 Broadway, Somerville, (617) 625 - 1300 Theatre Cooperative

Date: Sun, 05 Feb 2006 16:45:36 -0500 From: "Don Werner" dwerner01@hotmail.com
Subject: five by tenn
To: "larry stark" larrystark@theatermirror.com

Hi Larry,
Wasn’t the continuity of, “Five by Tenn” impressive? I’ve seen two act plays that seem to be two different shows, yet here we have five different plays that blend together as one great show. This show has the total package of excellence in directing, staging, lighting, music and acting. Definitely, one of the finest casts I’ve ever seen.
Don Werner

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Simpatico" by Sam Shepard
Date: Insert date and time
Quicktake on SIMPATICO

     Fans of Sam Shepard who've never seen this American Master's 1994 psychological puzzle may want to catch the last weekend of its run at the Devenaughn. The play's not Shepard at his best, and indeed worked better as a movie. The scenes and situations, especially the central conflict between Vinnie and Carter, two old friends whose lives have been intertwined since childhood, have a familiar ring to them.
    The show would work better with really strong actors in these parts, but the whole cast of this production is acceptable at best, and generally too young. The women, Susan Gross(Cecilia) and Lisa Caron Driscoll(Rosie), are generally more effective, and Phil Thompson's enigmatic Simms has the right creepiness. Joe O'Connor and Angelo Athanasopoulus as Vinne and Carter have trouble finding effective line readings together in the all-important opening scene but warm to their roles by the end. Director Jeannie-Marie Brown makes interesting use of the limited theatre space to set a variety of scenes, but hasn't helped the cast pull together into an ensemble. Remember to get there early even with reservations.
    The theatre is in the back of the large Piano Factory Building reached from the middle of the parking lot. By T, get off at Mass. Ave. on the Orange Line, walk one block down to Columbus, and one block away from downtown to Bob the Chef's Bistro. Go down the side street by the restaurant half a block to the parking lot. The theatre entrance is below the big air duct going overhead to the large chimney in the middle of the lot. There are only about 50 seats. Again, get there early. "Simpatico" by Sam Shepard, Jan. 26 - Feb. 12
Devanaughn Theatre in the Piano Factory
791 Tremont Rear, 1 (866) 811- 4111 (TM) Devanaughn Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”Five By Tenn"
Date: Sun, Jan 29, 5:56 PM
Quicktake on FIVE BY TENN

    Speakeasy’s latest production, “Five By Tenn” is more than just a collection of some of the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright’s lesser writing. The order and structure of the piece suggests Tennessee Williams’ life and works. Beginning with a 1948 piece, “These Are the Stairs You Got to Watch”, a large cast one act which could have functioned as the first act of a longer play, there’s a focus on a dreamy young man, a poet lost in the rough and material world. Eric Rubbe, who was last seen here in “Jacques Brel...” fills this reoccurring role. The part is much expanded in an even earlier work, “Summer at the Lake,” which foreshadows themes central to Williams’ best known work, “The Glass Menagerie.” In this one act, the poet’s mother is played to perfection by Trinity stalwart, Anne Scurria, who just finished the rerun of “Ruby Sunrise” at the Public in NY. Another veteran actress, Mary Klug, is her put-upon maid, and the voice of doom. The second scene from “Vieux Carre”(1977) plays next, based on an autobiographical short story. It chronicles the poet’s coming out enabled by an older jaded artist, played by Will McGarrahan as only he can.
     The center of the collection is a short two scene play “And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens”. An intermission occurs between the scenes. Allyn Burrows plays Candy Darling, a transvestite trying to have a relationship with Karl, a straight rough sailor willing to put up with her “friendship”--and nothing else-- for cash. Christopher Brophy, seen as the villain last spring in “Take Me Out,” who plays an equally frustrated fellow in the first piece, is the object of Candy’s attention, Burrows carries off his role with the same panache that made his King John brilliant for Shakespeare & Co. this summer, and his Kent unique in “King Lear” for ASP this fall. The rest of the second half is an Absurdist piece “I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow”--originally written for television-- followed by “Mr. Paradise,” a coda of sorts. In these two short plays, William Young, seen last fall in "Red Elm," who might by the author in his decline, is first confronted by a younger self, again played by Rubbe, and then by starry-eyed college student, played by Ellen Adair, who appears in the first playlet as a promiscuous teenager. The quality of the acting by all and sundry brings out the best in the material.
Scott Edmiston has directed the show fluidly on a two-level unit set by Janie E. Howland. This airy creation suggests the Vieux Carre, Williams’ spiritual home. Gail Astrid Buckley costumed the ensemble with her usual sure touch and sense of place. Karen Perlow's lighting provides a range of atmospheres, with musical touches by Dewey Dellay completing the show. This sampler of Williams’ work from his earliest up through his later less successful years suggests that more producing companies should delve into the treasure trove of his writing.
"Five by Tenn" by Tennessee Williams, Jan. 27 - Feb. 25
Speakeasy Stage Co. in Roberts Studio at Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 527 Tremont / (617) 933 -8600
Speakeasy Stage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "They Named Us Mary" by Lyralen Kaye
Date: Fri, Jan 27, 11:39 PM e

     "They Named Us Mary", which ran in 2004 with its author, Lyralen Kaye, in the lead, is back again with Kaye again playing the oldest of five sisters named Mary, Mary Clare. The play still attempts to combine a bitter domestic drama with fantasy elements. Whether these moments should be described as expressionist or symbolist or even surreal is debatable. In any case, the script is still an uneasy mix of the main character's dream images and rather trite scenes with her dysfunctional siblings and their domineering mother shortly after the death of their father. The acting, which aspires to Meisner's interpretation of the Method made infamous by Actor's Studio, is uneven at best. The cast, Diane DeCoste (Maria, the mother), Emily Evans (Mary Grace, the good one), Steve Falcone (the father's ghost, etc), Angela Gunn (Mary Margaret, the party girl), Bertie Payne-Strange Mary Anne, the kid), and Christina Wolfskehl (Mary Teresa, the rebel), never finds a common ground. Moreover, there's never really as sense of place--Pittsburgh--or the period--the 1980's??.
     While the situation is potentially interesting, the drawn out revelations are more like a soap opera than a drama. The material needs to be tightened into a forty or fifty minute--or shorter-- one-act played on a unit set without tedious scene changes. It will probably be made into a low budget independent film instead, which actually might bring the circumstances into better focus. The unfortunate situation of abused children has become a dramatic commonplace. When combined with substance abuse and religious hypocrisy the play quickly turns melodramatic. Director Courtney O'Connor has tried to integrate the elements of the show, but minimal funding and problems of pace make for a tedious time.
"They Named Us Mary" by Lyralen Kaye, Jan.26 - Feb.12
Another Country Productions at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (866) 411 - 8111 Another Country

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Tom Crean - Antartic Explorer" by Aidan Doyle
Date: Thursday, Jan 26, 12:04 AM Quicktake on TOM CREAN - ANTARTIC EXPLORER

     Aidan Doyle's rousing performance of his one-man docudrama, "Tom Crean - Antartic Explorer" will remind anyone complaining about the cold of a New England winter how easy we have here. Crean, an Irishman bosun in the Royal Navy, accompanied both Scott and Shackleton on their attempts to reach the South Pole. The two act tale of his experiences draws his audience in as only a first-class storyteller can. The facts of Crean's adventures are astounding enough, but Galwayman Doyle's genial Irish style, in the grand tradition of the sennachie, makes these almost unbelievable journeys real once again.
     The voyages of Scott's "Discovery" and "Terra Nova", as well as Shackleton's "Endurance" have been the subject of PBS documentaries as well as several touring museum exhibitions, but a closeup view based on the experiences of one of the crew provides a truer window into that time only a hundred years ago when Antartica was truly Terra Incognita. Doyle employs his considerable skill as a raconteur, clown, and writer to make "Tom Crean", who ends his days keeping the "South Pole", the pub he built in his hometown of Annascaul in Kerry, an admirable everyman, forging ahead into adversity, deserving of the four Royal medals the seaman won. Performed on a square of canvas with a few homey props to make the period more real, A long wooden sled of the type which the intrepid explorers of the Antartic towed across the ice, in some places four miles thick, at other times perilously thin over the polar seas hangs behind him against the black backdrop. "Tom Crean - Antartic Explorer", which won Best Solo Performance at the New York International Fringe Festival in NYC in 2003, is a mesmerizing tribute to indomitable human spirit and the survival value of a sense of humor.
     Doyle's show, which had its second successful run at Burlington's Northern Stage this past fall, is only part of a busy career centering around his company, "Play on Words" which tours schools and small theatres throughout the U.K. from a home base in Rochester, England. A return visit to Boston would be welcomed sooner rather than later.
"Tom Crean - Antartic Explorer" by Aidan Doyle, Jan 25 - Feb. 11
Sugan Theatre Co. in Plaza Theatre, BCA
529 Tremont, Boston /(617) 933 - 8600 Sugan

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Flowers of Red" by Eliza Wyatt
Date: Sun, Jan 15, 5:58 PM
Quicktake on FLOWERS OF RED

     There's one more weekend to see Eliza Wyatt's latest play, which had its first run this summer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is getting further development at BTW this month. Wyatt, who makes her home in Brighton England as well as here, is no stranger to crosscultural conflict. Her take on the meeting between a Palestinean woman and a young American peace activist the same age has real resonance. Krista D'Agostino as Samia and Caryn Andrea Lindsey as Roberta embody these two, and throughout the play almost seem to be living in two separate worlds, even though they're both in Raffa in the Gaza strip waiting for Isreali bulldozers to wreck the place. Director Marco Zarattini has set the two on separate tracks which can be disconcerting, but which is ultimately successful. Jonathon Myers plays a shady young man pretending to be another activist, a Buddhist even, but who is apparently working for the CIA--a fact known to the audience from the first.
     The production is a bit rough and ready, but both the set, props and costumes are sufficient to the task. The play, which is now being presented with a brief intermission might benefit from several internal breaks, but has an interesting line of development, and nice toches. There is indeed room for expansion on several points and Wyatt should be encouraged to continue working on this piece. The play was inspired by the death of Rachel Corrie, who was run down by a bulldozer at Raffa trying to prevent the punitive destruction of Palestinean homes several years ago. Despite recent developments, neither side has really advanced much closer to a peaceful resolution to the dilemma in which both populations are trapped.
"Flowers of Red" by Eliza Wyatt, Thurs.-Sun. thru Jan. 22
Boston Theatrics at BTW
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (866) 411-8111 (TM) Eliza Wyatt

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by Simon Bent, based on John Irving's novel
Date: Sat, Jan 14,

     The Stoneham Theatre has developed a reputation for strong full-scale presentations of provocative recent plays. Their New England premiere of Simon Bent's adaptation of John Irving's semi-autobiographical 1988 novel, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" is another such success. Irving's complex novel, which deals with religious and moral issues against the background of a hidebound New England town in the late '50s and '60s , comes to a climax during the Vietnam era. The issues this work raises have a prescience today, making "...Owen Meany" one of the most significant productions this company has offered.
     Multitalented New Yorker Ken Schatz is riveting in the title role of the boy with the wrecked voice, described by his friend John as the smallest person he ever knew. John Wheelwright, the narrator of the piece and the author's stand-in, is played with conviction by Timothy Smith, a faculty member at the College of the Holy Cross and Artistic director of Worcester's Redfeather Theatre. John's grandmother, from old and rich New England stock, is played by Ann Marie Shea, seen recently at BPT in Dan Hunter's "Red Elm". Bobbie Steinbach, fresh from Maria in ASP's "Twelfth Night" gets a few more laughs as Mrs. Wheelwright's wheelchair-bound cook. Owen's Irish parents are played by Owen Doyle, seen last fall as Dr. Seward in "Dracula" at Stoneham, and Sharon Mason who like Doyle has acted for a number of local companies. John's singer mother, Tabitha, is played by Caitlin Lowans, Stoneham's Education director, who just directed their "A Christmas Story". His stepfather, Dan, is peripetatic local character lead Richard Arum.
     The rest of the talented ensemble includes Jon L. Egging as a traditional Episcopal priest and Stephen Russell doubling as Rector Wiggins, a breezy modern minister, and as Dr. Dolder, the school psychiatrist. Lisa Tucker from Beau Jest is Wiggin's Sunday school teacher wife. Floyd Richardson, last seen in TheatreZone's "Firebugs," plays an eccentric local, Mr. Fish, as well as the police chief, and Owen's superior officer. Cory Scott plays several generally menacing younger characters crucial to Owen's fate. The rest of the ensemble doubles as Owen's schoolmates and later as adults, particularly Gerald Slattery, who goes from a fat bully to the headmaster of the school. Christine Hamel, a local teacher and actress, and Cristi Miles, last seen at the New Rep in their "Christmas Carol", play little girls, various wives and mothers, and nuns. Director Weylin Symes has pulled this diverse cast together to create a fast paced condensation of Irving's sprawling epic. He's helped by Audra Avery's plain and efficient abstract unit set, realized with the help of scenic artist Jenna McFarland. Seth Bodie comes up with an array of costumes that help define a broad range of characters. David Wilson's soundscape and Gianni Downs' lighting complete the show. The first three shows in Stoneham's season were interesting, if somewhat uneven, but this engaging drama is simply a must-see, for Schatz' and Smith's performances, and the ensemble which supports them, as well as Bent's reduction of Irving's moving tale.
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by Simon Bent, Jan. 12 - 29
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham MA, (781) 279-2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Les Liaisons Dangereuse" by Christopher Hampton
Date: Sat, Jan. 14, 1:02 AM

     Unlikely as might seem, mostly to those who've not ventured out to Waltham to see them, the Hovey Players production of Christopher Hampton's 1985 adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos epistolatory novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuse"(1782) does a better job of illuminating the play in Abbott's intimate confines than a much more visually impressive large-scale proscenium version now running downtown. This is due largely to a fine ensemble cast led by Melissa Sine as the schemer Marquise Merteuil and Jason Beals as her former lover and co-conspirator Vicomte Valmont. As the center of the action, these two skilled performers generate the kind of electricity sadly missing at the Huntington. Sine, with a number of past leading roles for the Hovey, is every inch the lady and always in charge. Beals, who was impressive in Molasses Tank's last two Absurdist productions, is a beardless, redheaded charmer, believably dangerous without being obvious--except to the audience. Sara Jones, as his victim Marianne de Tourvel, is willowly and attractive, a believable target for Valmont's passion and the opposite of his usual choices, embodied--but fully dressed--as Anne Freud's juvenile Cecile.
     The rest of the ensemble under Kristin Hughes careful direction includes Andy O'Kane as Chevalier Danceny, Cecile's earnest young man and Valmont's nemesis, Kristin Shoop --seen last season in the lead of "Violet" at Footlight opposite Beals--as Valmont's courtesan Emelie. Chris Wagner plays Azolan, Valmont's valet, with appropriate airs, Sandi McDonald, a veteran actress and producer for Footlight lends real dignity to Valmont's knowing aunt, Mme. de Rosemonde, and Leslie Wagner is nicely unknowing as Cecile's mother. All are properly costumed in elegant gowns and coats done by Kimmerie H. O. Jones and wigged by Judy Disbrow.
     Seating in Hovey's small basement theater is limited so order tickets now; many of their shows sell out. It's also open seating, so come early and meet friends in the upstairs lobby. There's easy parking behind the library next door. And Waltham has plenty of interesting small eateries, including the company's favorite, Baan Thai, just around the corner down the main drag across from City Hall.
"Les Liaisons Dangereuse" by Christopher Hampton, Jan 13 - 28
Hovey Players at Abbott Memorial Theatre
9 Spring St. Waltham, (781) 893 - 9171 Hovey Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre, trans. Stuart Gilbert
Date: Thurs, Jan 12, 10:21 PM
Quicktake on NO EXIT

     The major question to answer about this current production of Jean-Paul Sarte's landmark one act "Huis Clos" (No Exit) is whether Imago's director/designer Jerry Mouawad's ingenious tilting stage adds that much to the show. His cast of ART veterans, Remo Airaldi, Will LeBow, Paula Plum, and Karen MacDonald have some 250 roles for the company among them. They could probably present the play effectively on a flat stage with the requisite furniture and plain lighting. There are effective moments, but the choreography and balance required to make theis conceit work may have gotten in the way of fully developed interpretations. As it is, Plum as Inez shows the greatest range, but MacDonald as Estelle has the greater emotional impact. LeBow very recognizable voice sometimes seem too strong for his conflicted character. Airaldi adds another weird comic creation to his portfolio. Those familiar with the play, which is widely read though not so often produced these days will probably find Mouawad's constructivist approach enlightening, though not essential.
     For once, everything about this ART production is fully in service of the play. Sartre's grim view of the human condition comes through loud and clear. Rafael Jaen's late '40s costumes give MacDonald and Plum additional interest. Jeff Forbes lighting does more than the script requires but helps guide the audience through the maze of reversals in the script. The three-quarter seating effectively encloses the action which barrels through an hour and a half with no let-up. Anyone of the principals could and has carried a show. Together their ensemble is compelling and should get even better as the month progresses.
"No Exit" by Jean Paul Sartre, Jan. 7 - 29
A.R.T. at Loeb MainStage, Harvard Sq.
64 Brattle St, (617) 547 -8300 American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Les Liaisons Dangereuse" by Christopher Hampton
                adapted from a novel by Choderlos de Laclos (1782)
Date: Wed, Jan 11, 11:23 PM

     The Huntington's latest effort is a lavish but unsatisfying attempt to reenergize Christopher Hampton's 1985 retelling of a scandalous proto-novel from pre-Revolutionary France. It fails largely because the two actors cast in the leading roles are don't catch fire with either the audience or each other. La Marquise de Tourvel, the schemer behind the various plots, has been played on screen by luminaries such as Jeanne Moreau (1959), Glenn Close (1988), and Catherine Deneuve(2003 TV). N.Y. actress Tasha Lawrence has neither the presence or the vocal range to carry off the role, and is betrayed by her costumes more than once. Mr. Blackwell would have a field day. Her partner in intrigue, Le Vicomte de Valmont, done by Gerard Phillipe(1959), John Malkovich (1988), Rupert Everett(2003), and in the original RSC stage version by Alan Rickman (1985-89 London & NY) falls to film & TV personality Michael T. Weiss who is generally unconvincing. The third important role, Marianne, La Presidente de Tourvel, a young very religious married woman, whom Valmont inexplicably sets out to seduce, was done by Annette Vadim in 1959 (her father directed), Michelle Pfieffer (1988), and Natasia Kin ski in 2003. At the Huntington, young Yvonne Woods has the look and bearing, is a convincing actress, but is too limited vocally. The director, Daniel Goldstein seems to have intended make the piece more contemporary by avoiding any sense of upperclass speech. It's only when Valmont's aunt, IRNE winner Alice Duffy, is dominating a scene that the vocal drama matches the pseudo-aristocratic costumery. Much of the cast simply babbles.
     James Noone's set is impressive from the orchestra, if a little too tall, but has the usual sightline problems from the balcony--and it twinkles. Mark Stanley's light plot has holes so that actors are sometimes out-of-focus at key moments. The original music by Loren Toolajian, period-like with intrusive modern beats, doesn't accomplish very much. It's the concept driven costuming by Erin Chainani--modern touches and references-- that proves the least effective, except when most in period. Why is Valmont wearing pinstripes?
    If you want to experience this expose of decadence with the inevitable titillation, rent the Oscar-winning 1988 movie--screenplay by Hampton--to get the story (but don't laugh too hard at Keanu Reeves as the young dandy) then find Vadim's 1959 version to get the picture. If you're a movie buff, search out Milos Forman's 1989 "Valmont" with Annette Being and Colin Firth. The original epistolatory two volume text is a bit of a slog in either French or English.

""Les Liaisons Dangereuse" by Christopher Hampton, Jan. 6 - Feb. 5
Huntington Theatre Co. at B.U. Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, (617) 266 - 0800

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Underpants" by Carl Sternheim, adapted by Steve Martin
Date: Sun, Jan 8, 20o6 11:07 PM

     One could argue that this script should more fairly be labeled as "based" on rather than "adapted" from German Expressionist author Carl Sternheim's most remembered work. Steve Martin has reduced the cast, eliminated most of the philosophical implications, but fortunately improved the farce. This style of comedy is one of the Lyric's strong points, and under Daniel Gidron's sophisticated direction and with a cast of seasoned local professionals, the result is thoroughly entertaining if somewhat intellectually bland. Gail Astrid Buckley's costume are ideal as ever and Cristina Todesco's set has simple elegance.
     Caroline Lawton is the young wife, Louise, whose bloomers accidentally fall as she's watching a royal parade. IRNE winner Steven Barkhimer is overbearingly Germanic as her government clerk husband, Theo, an older man. Lewis D. Wheeler, a rich poet, and Neil A. Casey, a Jewish barber, are the couple's two new lodgers, who each witnessed Louise's mishap and find her suddenly attractive. She's encouraged to accept the poet's advances by her nosey neighbor, Gertrude, played wryly by Stephanie Clayman. Casey, in his inimitable fashion, keeps getting in the way. For variety, Robert Bonotto shows up in the second act as Klinglehoff, a sober scientist, who's also seeking a room and gets an eyeful. Martin's take on this classic is fast and funny if rather inconclusive, aimed at crowd-pleasing more than examining the ramifications of a rigid society and bourgeois complacency. It's played across the country in both red and blue states incidentally.
"The Underpants" by Carl Sternheim, Jan. 6 - Feb. 4, 2006
Lyric Stage at Copley YWCA
140 Clarendon, Boston, (617) 585 - 5678 new number Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol"
Date: Mon, Dec. 12, 10:56 PM

     There's a new Scrooge in town, just across the Charles. In association with the Arsenal Center for the Arts and the Watertown Children's Theatre, who also now perform there, the New Rep has mounted a fully staged, very musical version of this holiday classic, which director Rick Lombardo has been working on for about twelve years. Scrooge is played by local favorite Paul D, Farwell, who makes a formidable curmudgeon. The tale unfolds in story theatre fashion with various members of the ensemble picking up the narration using the author's original text. The ensemble also provides live accompaniment on a variety of instruments.      Steven Barkimer who plays Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Present, as well as several other parts, plays the piano, guitar, and penny whistle, for example. Jennifer Hazel, a vocal teacher from NSMT, plays flute, the piano, and several comic roles.. IRNE winner Leigh Barrett plays Mrs. Fezziwig and Mrs. Cratchit, provides strong vocals of course and a bit of percussion. Choreographer Ilyse Robbins is a very fey Christmas Past with a hint of the spookiness of Dicken's description of that spirit, plus the young wife of Scrooge's nephew Fred as well at the orchestra chimes. Brandeis MFA Cristi Miles is Belle, Scrooge's lost love and also plays the tympani and chimes, while Peter Edmund Haydu, who plays her husband as well as a very tattered Jacob Marley and a scurrilous Old Joe the pawnshop man, plays the guitar on occasion. Both Terrence O'Malley as Fred, the jovial nephew and Brett Cramp as a lanky Bob Cratchit also play guitar. However, the prize for musical valor goes to Eric Hamel, playing Dick, Scrooge's apprentice friend, and Topper, the perennial bachelor, who picks up a fiddle after eight years away from the instrument and manages a creditable dance tune. It's a very busy cast, with everyone singing, playing, and dancing in a fast-paced, entertaining show
     The youthful part of the ensemble is quite convincing and will probably grow in future productions. Peter Colao's set is rather architectural with door units that track in, two small side wagon stages, a large window in the rear, and a number of surprises. John R. Malinowski provides a flexible light plot which helps speed the action along. Music director Anna Lackaff has arranged the shows traditional music, composed additional material, and used tunes and lyrics from the director to make the best use of the cast's musical talents. Lombardo has also created as soundscape and special audio effects to add to the magic of the evening. And of course there's snow and fog as the story requires, plus some special effect surprises. This will be another production of "A Christmas Carol" to return to year after year, to initiate all members of the family to the wonder of live theatre, and to enjoy a unique interpretation of an important part of American Christmas tradition, which was introduced over here when the author himself read the story at the Parker House back in the 19th century.

"Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol", Dec. 10 -24
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts
32` Arsenal St. Watertown, (617) 923 -84487 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, adapted by NSMT
Date: Sun, Dec 11, 11:53 PM

     NSMT's longest running show, "a musical ghost story", is back as engaging as ever in their reclaimed digs. Long time fans will notice a few changes, to take advantage of the current cast of veterans like David Coffee back as Scrooge and George Dvorsky, Christmas Present and a charitable gentleman. There's also IRNE winner Cheryl McMahon as Scrooge's comic housekeeper and Mrs. Fezziwig and jovial Wayne Pretlow as Mr. Fezziwig and the other charitable gentleman. The show as usual is narrated in the context of inspiring a group of Victorian players who then proceed to enact the tale, by a grown Timothy Crachit, this year by Bill English who did so very effectively last year, . Marley, done again by Tom Staggs, flies higher than even, under the guidance of the show's general factotums AKA the Pearlies. Scrooge sails away just before the intermission as usual. This year's Pearlies, tumbling and dancing all over the place are veteran Tabb and newcomer Jessie Lee Goldwyn. The Ghost of Christmas Future is done by newcomer Perry Ojeda who also plays the younger Scrooge in affecting scenes with Belle, played by Carrie Specksgoor in her third year with the show.
     The Cratchit kids are locals from a variety of programs including NSMT's Youth Theatre, with Maureen Brennan again doubling as their mother and the Ghost of Christmas Past, gliding about on her float. Newcomer Bill Carmichael is a very appealing BobCratchit. The complex set is back out of storage and spiffed up as usual, with the musicians spilt between a raised loft where music director Brian Cimmet reigns, a pit for the brass and strings across the stage, from which they move to various positions throughout the house or onstage as needed, while the harpist is on the balcony over the vomitorium. The costumes under Joanna C. Murphy's supervision capture the several eras of the show, lighting and special effects, including snow, confetti, and pyro add to the magic of the season. NSMT "A Christmas Carol" remains the gold standard for interpretation of this classic in these parts,
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens at al, Dec. 2 - 24
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverly MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Firebugs" by Max Frisch
Date: Sat., Dec. 10, 10:33 PM
Quicktake on THE FIREBUGS

     Once again TheatreZone has come up with a first-rate interpretation of a modern classic. Max Frish's absurd tragicomedy "Herr Biedermann und die Brandshifter", known in English as "The Firebugs", was taken in 1958 as an allegory about the rise of fascism. It's continued relevance suggests that Frisch's insight into the relationship between middle-class capitalism, government oppression, and terrorism (in this play, arson) is as true today.
     Gottlieb Biederman (God-loved Anyman), a hair tonic manufacturer is a perfect role for veteran comic actor Bill Doscher. His wife Babette is played by Danielle Fauteux Jacques, co-director of this production with Atissa Banuazizi, and TheatreZone's Artistic Director. The two "firebugs", Sepp Schmitz and Willi Eisenring, are an ominously bald Floyd Richardson, a TheatreZone veteran, and tuxedoed Stephen Libby, seen as a Dromio at Publick Theatre this summer. The remaining parts are a delightfully accented Flavia Steiner as Anna the maid, silent Elizabeth Kurtz as widowed Mrs. Knechtling, Rick Carpenter briefly as the ambiguous Ph.D, and Anna Waldron as leader of the chorus of firepeople. She starts the show in an outrageous sequined dress singing--what else--a torch song. The eight chanting and dancing actors in the diverse chorus harken back to those in the ancient Greek comedy, giving this absurdist comedy a unique timelessness.
     This 90 minute show features live contemporary music and sound effects from Mark Warhol's ensemble. Matthew Kossack worked out the footstomping street-wise choreography. The set of red painted levels was created by Julia Noulin-Merat in her 9th show for TheatreZone. She’s completing her MFA in Scenic Design at BU. Debbi Hobson's costumes, from Biederman's continental suit to Sepp's carnival wrestler's garb to the effective fireman's outfits give the show a finished look. This "morality play, without a moral" is well worth the short trip out to Chelsea. Carpooling is best; go a little early. .Parking around the triangle in Chelsea Sq. is generally easy to find.Suggest driving in through tank farm and the wholesale vegetable market from Rt. 99 in Everett, thenturn left at the second set of lights after driving under the Tobin Bridge. There's a good map on TheatreZone's site. The Chelsea Theatre Works theatre space is a marvelous old Oddfellow’s Hall up three flights of stairs.

"The Firebugs" by Max Frisch, Dec.9 - 23
TheatreZone at Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet, Chelsea Sq. / (617 ) 887 - 2336 TheatreZone

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard
Date: Thur, Dec 9, 11:37 PM
Quicktake on ARCADIA

     Last summer, "Arcadia", one of Tom Stoppard's landmark plays, recived a strong outdoor production at the Publick Theatre. Longwood Players' current presentation of this historical puzzle is quite a respectable chance for those who missed this summer's long run to wonder at Sir Tom's time-spanning play. Central to the cast is versatile Owen Doyle who play erstwhile poet and cuckold Ezra Chater for the Publick and essays the role of Bernard Nightingale, ambitious academic. His opposite number, Hannah Jar vis is played by education specialist Kaitlyn Chantry. The young romantic leads, math genius Thomisina and her tutor Septimus are ably taken by Zofia Goszczynska, seen earlier this season in "Our Country's Good" and Adam Friedman, a Princeton grad in his first Boston appearance. Thomisina's pleasure-seeking mother, Lady Croom, is Jennifer Bubriski, whose brother, Capt. Brice is John Brice. Andrew Moore is Chater in this production, while Cahal Stephens is the "picturesque" landscape gardener, Rich. Noakes.
     The play swings between 1809-1912 and the present, where Hannah and Bernard are both researching the history of the Coverly estate for different reasons. In the present they meet the sexually forthright Chloe Coverly played by Allison LInker, seen earlier this fall in "N(as in Bonaparte)" with Pilgrim and repressed Valentine Coverly, a mathematical biologist. There's also their silent brother Gus, a intuitive musician played by Zach Adler, who also appears towards the end of the play as Thomasina's younger brother, Augustus, who does speak. These dozen actors must also invoke other unseen characters important to the action, including George Gordon Lord Byron, Mrs. Chater, and Lord Croom. Marc S. Miller has shaped this cast into a working ensemble with acceptable English accents. They managed to navigate the complex time-defying plot to make the various mysteries clear. Stronger attention to diction would help with some of the more abstruse moments, but all-in-all it's a solid rendition of the play. Longwood's next project will be Sondheim's early effort, "Merrily We Roll Along" for two weekends March 31 - April 8.
"Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard, Dec. 2 -10
Longwood Players in Durrell Hall
820 Mass. Ave, Camb. YMCA, Central Sq. 1 (800) 595 - 4TTX Longwood Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Red Elm" by Dan Hunter
Date: Sun, Dec 4, 6:20 PM
Quicktake on RED ELM

     As the final new play in BPT's fall season, Dan Hunter's "Red Elm" shares the theme of growing old and leaving a legacy with "The Red Lion" and "Permanent Whole Life". This script may be the best written, but it's the most incomplete. The play's 90 minutes would make a good first two acts--with a bit more tweaking. Like too many current scripts, which seem to be written with an eye to the TV movie market however, the hard work of completing the drama has been left up to the audience--or some future producer's wishes. There are at least three dramatic conclusions implied by the action, some of which is brilliant. The author needs to pick one and go for it.
     The cast of "Red Elm" is superb. Veteran actor William Young is patriarch Jack Butler, a modern Iowa farmer. His long-suffering wife, Margaret, is played by Worcester actress, teacher and playwright, Anne Marie Shea. Their remaining son, Ezra, is Mark Peckham, new to Boston with credits in Providence and elsewhere. Jack's secretary and Ezra's love interest is Julia Jirousek in another appealing performance. Their acting as much as the author's storytelling makes one want to know what happened to these people.      The set is another effective exercise in abstracted realism by Susan Zeeman Rogers with believable costumes by Gail Astrid Buckley. The show, which was announced for Wesley Savick was directed quite smartly by newcomer Karl Michaelis; Savick is listed as the dramaturg for all the preparatory work he did with Hunter. Lights and sound, plus other technical details are well-handled by a largely B.U. crew. It's a good close to a fall season of interesting work. Look for 11:11 and Brian Tuttle;e to come down from their fourth floor perch at the Actor's Workshop in January. Also in January, playwright Elizabeth Wyatt, who works both here and in Brighton England is bringing "Flowers of Red", a show based on the life and death of Rachel Corrie which she premiered this summer at the Edinburgh Fringe.
"Red Elm" by Dan Hunter, Dec. 1 - 18
Boston Playwrights' Theatre in Studio B
949 Comm. Ave, Allston, (617) 358 - PLAY Boston Playwrights' Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Apocalypso!" by Bill Donnelly
Date: Sat, Dec. 3, 11:07 AM
Quicktake on APOCALYPSO!

     Rough & Tumble's revival of William Donnelly's "Apocalypso!", first done by the industrial theatre three years ago, has a cinematic feel like their most successful collaboration with Donnelly, "Backwater" It wouldn't take much to film this millenial comedy as a low-budget independent romance. But then the audience would lose the personal touch that Rough & Tumble regulars, Kristin Baker, George Saulnier III, Irene Daly, and Jason Myatt bring to their roles. These stalwarts play Dora, who's got a message about the end of days, Gus, who's less than honest, Cal, who reads self-help books, and Dwight, her husband, with a big secret. They're joined by IRNE winner Kortney Adams as Gin, Cal's sister who's thrown Boone, her husband played by Henry LaCoste, out of the house. He's moved in with Mark Frost's Walt, a friend with a secret. And Gus is shacked up with Sherry, the bartender, played tough by Judith Austin. There are a lot of good two-scenes and thoughtful acting. The opening, between Gus and Boone would play as a ten minute piece itself. But the production as a whole would benefit from generally faster pacing and the newcomers to Rough & Tumble, with the exception of Austin, need to discover the lost art of picking up cues. Adam's character, Gin, is probably the only one where Pineteresque pauses are really appropriate.
     Still, director Dan Milstein. has given the show a nice arc, even when it seems to bog down in trivia. Ron DeMarco's abstract cityscape backed by an equally abstract "sky", surrounding the bits of furniture which defines scenes sets the mood. Perhaps Fred Harrington's live accompaniment gets a bit too meditative, and might try contrasting with the action more, but it's never inappropriate. Bonnie Duncan's costumes are a bit more subdued than usual, but entirely suited to the characters. The result is the best bargain in holiday shows. Unfortunately "Apocalypso!" doesn't run through New Year's. But then who knows when the end will come?
Apocalypso!" by Bill Donnelly, Dec. 2 - 17
Rough & Tumble Theatre at Calderwood Pavilion, Rehearsal Room
527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Rough & Tumble

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Christmas Story" adapted by Philip Grecian from Jean Shepherd's movie
Date: Fri, December 2, 11:19 AM

     There's another option for family holiday entertainment besides "The Nutcracker(s)" or various visits with Scrooge including NSMT's resurrected production and the a version about to open at the New Rep at the Arsenal in association with the Watertown Children's Theatre. Stoneham Theatre has perhaps started another holiday tradition by reviving the stage version of Jean Shepherd's 1983 movie, "A Christmas Story," the humorists's nostalgic look at growing up during the end of the depression in northern Indiana. Philip Grecian's adaptation uses a grownup Ralph Parker, played by Shelley Bolman, to narrate the saga of Christmas, the Old Man, and the 200 shot Red Ryder air rifle. Bolman, who's worked with Wheelock Family Theatre and teaches there, is the perfect host for this fast-paced account as a cast of ten, two other adults plus seven youngsters, under Caitlin Lownes direction, whisks us through the month of December in frigid Indiana.
     Mother, first to utter the famous line "You'll shoot your eye out" is deftly handled by Bates and Emerson grad Meagan Hawkes, who's taken time out from documentary film-making to deal with Ralphie, Randy--hiding under the table--and of course the Old Man. Dale Place, Stoneham's favorite Scrooge, takes on the mantle of Father, hanging on as a low-level manager, driving his "new" used Oldsmobile, and of course proud of his "major award." While Bolman and Hawkes take alternate roles as the mythical Red Ryder or Miss Fields, Ralphie's teacher, the Old Man is more than enough from Place to handle, pursued by the neighbor's dogs, dreaming of turkey instead of meatloaf and red cabbage, with the firm goal of keeping his family housed, clothed and fed, battling the coal furnace daily.
     The seven youngsters in "A Christmas Story"--plus two alternates--come partly from Stoneham's own Youth Theatre. But Ari Shaps, a Gloucester six-grader, is a product of NSMT's youth program, as is Henry McClean who as kindergartener Randy, spends most of the show hidden somewhere on the set or encased in his snow suit. Ralphie's friends, Flick and Schwartz, John-Michael Breen and Nick McGrath, come from NSMT and Stoneham respectively. Scut Farkas, the playground bully, is played by Stoneham's Danny Marchant. The two girls, Helen, the class brain--who's also reputed to have beaten up Farkas--and Esther Jane who's sweet on Ralphie, are done by diminutive Emily Pinto and tall Sarah Reed, both from Stoneham's program. All are good at being kids and quite on par with the three seasoned professionals who move the show along. Bolman, Hawkes, and Place show that taking the risk of acting with youngsters can pay off. Animals are another matter, but the destructive hounds next door are only heard, not seen.
     The show takes place on Jenna McFarland's colorful changeable set, which looks like an illustration from the Saturday Evening Post. It also folds and shifts so that the kitchen stage left becomes Ralphie's classroom, and the livingroom becomes Goldblatt's Dept. Store, among other things. Fans of the film won't be disappointed, families discovering the Parker's for the first time will find a lot to recognize. So be careful with BB guns, and don't lick the flagpole, but do take a short ride out the Stoneham for this shiny new production, a definite addition to the holiday season.
"A Christmas Story" by Philip Grecian, Nov. 25 - Dec. 23
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Three Sisters" adapted from Anton Chekov
Date: Thurs, Dec 1, 11:47 PM
Quicktake on THREE SISTERS

     If you've read "Three Sisters, understand the relationships between the characters --the program is no help--and can sit through 3 1/2 hours of Paul Schmidt's workmanlike translation punctuated by at least an hour's worth of pauses and dumbshow, then here's your chance. Krystian Lupa, a renowned Polish director, has had 10 weeks to build this interpretation of what Chekov always maintained was a comedy. There aren't many laughs in his version, but you'll be able to improve your seat after the intermission. Set and costumes are interesting if rather arbitrary, and the original score includes monotonous drumming by the director. Opinions will vary. Read the ARTicles afterwards, but find a synopsis before you decide to brave yet another auteur show committed in the name of a world famous author at the ART.

"Three Sisters" adapted from Anton Chekov, NOV. 26 - JAN. 1
A.R.T at Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle, Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Crowns" by Regina Taylor
Date: Sunday, Nov 27,
Quicktake on CROWNS

     When a show has a cast headlined by Michelle Dowd, Fulani Haynes, Jacqui Parker, and Merle Perkins, and is directed by Lois Roach, its material only has to be interesting to provide satisfying entertainment, and probably a bit of enlightenment.. Regina Taylor's adaptation of "Crowns", based on Cunningham and Marberry oral history of "church hats", though a bit thin as a narrative deals honestly with the real-life stories of Black Southern women and their Sunday "crowns." The cast, which also includes Mikelyn Roderick, Heather Fry, and Darius Omar Williams, makes the most of the material and sings from the bottom of their souls, Perkin's, as might be expected. has the showiest number, but Williams, Haynes, Dowd, and Parker get to into the spirit when called upon.
     Not as seasonal as some of Lyric's past December offerings, "Crowns" makes a fine holiday entertainment nevertheless. Its Pentecostal roots are traced back to their West African counterparts, and are clearly part of the survival strategy of African-Americans before and after slavery. The cast is in sympathy with the material and with the support of music director Evelyn Lee-Jones at the keyboard ready to testify.
"Crowns" by Regina Taylor, Nov. 25 - Dec. 23
Lyric Stage at Copley Sq. YWCA
140 Clarendon, Boston, (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Company

Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005 23:01:38 -0500
From: "Jerry Bisantz" jbisantz@comcast.net
Subject: Hello from Jerry Bisantz

Hi, Larry! First of all, congratulations on your recent, much deserved award! It's about time Theatermirror got recognized for the incredible impact you have had on the theatrical community.

I am just writing this little blurb because Sharon and I just got back from Speakeasy's "Kiss Of The Spider Woman". No matter what anyone thought of the show (and we liked it a lot!), I can't help but notice that so little mention is ever made of the orchestra. Paul Katz once again has done a sensational job with amazing musicians (kudos to the trumpet player, Paul Perfitti, who has incredible chops!). The sound technician Briand Parenteau had such a sensational mix. This is really hard shit to do right, and wow, did they ever crank! (sorry, I was in a band for years and I just love to hear a band at the top of their game!) I just want people out there to notice the orchestra any time they can... when they are that good, it makes everything else work so well!

That's about it... have a great Holiday season! See you at "Promises, Promises"!

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "50 Million Frenchmen" by Cole Porter & Herbert Fields
Date: Sun, Nov 13, 11:18 PM

Music theatre buffs got their chance last weekend to take in a rare concert performance of Cole Porter's early Broadway show, "50 Million Freshman" (1929) performed by American Classics. If you didn't know about it, go to their website and get on their mailing list. Many of their regulars were in fine voice and ready to take on the broad, and sometimes racy lyrics and vintage jokes of this period piece with a workmanlike book by Herbert Fields.
Brent Reno once again proved his worth as a leading man, and got to sing the show's only standard "You Do Something to Me." Opposite him was the youngest of the De Lima clan, Kate. Her mother, Sarah, as Violet, a character part got two Bea Lillie type numbers. Peter Carey, as the owner of the Parisian Hotel where everyone is staying functioned almost as the M.C. Shows like this were closer to reviews loosely connected by a disposable plot. Our hero, Peter Forbes (of "the street") has two playboy friends ready to relieve him of part of his fortune; Michael, sung with panache by one of the group's founders, Benjamin Sears, and Billy, sung by Eric Bronner, who got to tenor away at a parody ballad "I Worship You (I Don't Love You)." Since this is a romantic farce in the Gilbertian mode, Michael winds up with the heroine's friend, Joyce whose motto was "Don't Make Me Be Good", sung by Joei Marshall Perry. The heroines parents, the Carrolls from Terra Haute, were ably handled by Peter Miller, clearly the senior comic since he was wearing plaid Bermuda shorts with his tux jacket, and Kerry Dowling, tired of being "The Queen of Terra Haute." Her answer is to marry of her daughter to a Russian Count played by Turtle Lane stalwart, JIm Jordan. The Count unfortunately escapes the final party with two racy entertainers, The American Sister Act, sung by co-founder Mary Ann Lanier and La 'Tarsha Long. Which leaves Valarie Anastasio as May, a cabaret singer friend of the hero, to match up with Billy, having given up trying to "Find Me a Primitive Man," the only other number with a life beyond this show. Then Msr. Pernase the hotel manager takes up with the not so shrinking Violet. Or at least, that's the line up for the finale.
Staging director David Frieze applied his usual light touch to come up with enough action to make situations clear--if not logical. Margaret Bulmer did her usual virtuoso job at the Steinway, and co-founder Bradford Conner had several walkons and directed the rest of this large cast when they morphed into the Chorus. The remainder of the American Classics season will include a Chamber Music program for Valentines day, on Feb 10 & 12, and for the second year, a Ragtime Festival featuring two different concerts on April 21, 22, & 23. Last year's Ragtime Concerts sold out to an overflow audience. Get you tickets early.
"50 Million Frenchmen" by Cole Porter , Nov 11- 13
American Classics in Pickman Hall, Longy
27 Garden St, Camb, American Classics

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Number" by Caryl Churchill
Date: Sun, Oct 23, 11:13 PM
Quicktake on A NUMBER

     Caryl Churchill's recent exploration of an alternative reality, "A Number", which played New York last season starring Sam Shepherd, is a puzzle involving cloning and family responsibility. The latter is most important. IRNE winner Steve McConnell is Salter, the British father of all three of the identical young men whose stories make up the play. All three, Bernard, Bernard, and Michael, are played by Lewis D. Wheeler, who subtley distinguishes between the three by accent, minor costume changes, and physical presentation. It seems that twenty or so years before, Salter had his young son cloned, under circumstances which seem to change depending on which Bernard he's interacting with. The first scene involves sets up a seemingly plausible situation as Salter rants about the news that the firm which cloned Bernard has made as many at twenty additional copies. But the next scene introduces another more frightening Bernard, who Salter seems also to have commissioned. The worlds of the two brothers interacts eventually with alarming consequences. Hovering in the background is the possibility that they are both copies of Salter himself.
     As a coda to this 65 minute piece, MIchael, one of the unauthorized clones shows up from America. He's a far different seemingly well-adjusted person than the first two. As usual, this show first seen at London's Royal Court, Churchill's home base, leaves more questioned unanswered than resolved. The simple set was done by Lyric's Skip Curtis, with lighting by house electrician, Robert Cordella. The soundscape and original music is again the work of Dewey Dellay. There will be discussions after every Sunday matinee, and no doubt more than a few on the way home. Part science fiction in the British sense, part Pinteresque theatre of menace, "A Number" is another successful Boston premiere of the Lyric--and will probably join the local repertory next season.
"A Number" by Caryl Churchill, Oct. 21 - Nov. 19
Lyric Stage Company at Copley Sq. YWCA
140 Clarendon St., (617) 437 - 7172 Company Website

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Dracula" by Weylin Symes, after Bram Stoker's novel
Date: Sun, Oct 23, 2005 8:07 PM
Quicktake on DRACULA

     Those familiar with the 1920's Balderston version of this story, often done by community theatres, will find Weylin Symes version an improvement. Stoneham's artistic director, along with director Greg Smucker, have fashioned a contemporary thriller from Stoker's Victorian Gothic novel, hewing close to the original story line, which is not always dramatically effective. Perhaps they'll be able to workshop this script over the next year or so and bring it back in a future season. Stoneham's kept the cast down to six without sacrificing any important plot elements, and Susan Zeeman Rogers, aided by Jenna McFarland's able stagecraft, has come up with a flexible expressionist set with hints of the silent film classic "Caligari" and touches of Edward Gorey. The complex scene changes are carried out by the cast, perhaps f or budgetary reasons. This can be distracting. A couple of supernumeraries might be speed things up.
     The title role is played by Publick Theatre's Diego Arciniegas with a nod to Dryer's "Nosferatu" and no hint of Bela Lugosi. Nathaniel McIntyre plays Jonathan Harker, the unfortunate young realtor sent to Transylvania to deal with the Count. IRNE winner Richard McElvain is Dutch scientist Van Helsing. He should somehow appear earlier in the action. The two heroines, Jonathan's wife Mina and her cousin, Lucy Westenra are played by Joy Lamberton, seen this summer at the Publick in "Arcadia" and "Comedy of Errors", and Angie Jepson, seen last summer in "Troilus and Cressida" in a title role. Their parts are convincing Victorian but could be more substantial to take advantage of these fine young talents. Lucy's fiance, Dr. Seward, is played by Owen Doyle, also seen in "Arcadia" as well as ASP's "Julius Caesar." He also plays the Romanian innkeeper. These experienced actors form a tight ensemble which lifts the production over a few rough patches in the storytelling.
     This production combines Stoneham's committment to new work aimed at a mainstream audience. Period costumes by Rachel Padula Shufelt and expert lighting by IRNE winner Karen Perlow catch the melodrama of the piece while giving the evening a contemporary air. The show is certainly appropriate to the season.
"Dracula" by Weylin Symes, Oct. 20 - Nov. 6
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham MA, (781) 279 - 2000 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Keening" by Humberto Dorado
Date: Thur, Oct 20, 10:53 AM
Quicktake on THE KEENING

     The English-lanuage version of Columbian screenwriter Huberto Dorado's "Con el Corazon Abierto" (With an Open Heart), retitled "The Keening" now playing at the ART's Zero Arrow St. facility is one of the strongest pieces of theatre seen in these parts in a long time. This monodrama, acted with precision by Marissa Chibas, currently the Head of Acting at Cal Arts, is an epic narrative of the life of one anonymous Columbian woman, whose interesting life but not extraordinary life reflects more than a half century of bloody political turmoil in that South American country. Director Nicholas Montero, who developed the original production for a 2004 festival in Bogota, has carefully orchestrated Dorado's storyline as a solemn ritual, past tragedy, not offering catharsis in the traditional sense. "The Keening" leaves the audience with an understanding of outrage without relief, mirroring the circumstance in his homeland. The evening is acted out on a formal thrust setting, where realistic detail combines with modern sterility, by Mexican designer Alejandro Luna, reinforcing the starkness of the tale and its Brechtian style. Chibas' powerful contained performance shows a survivor, not a victim, living the best she can in a devastating reality.

"The Keening" by Humberto Dorado, Oct. 14 - Nov. 12
A.R.T. at Zero Arrow
Arrow & Mass. Ave, Harvard Sq. (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Boy Friend" by Sandy Wilson
Date: Weds, Oct 12, 11:04 PM
Quicktake on THE BOY FRIEND

     "The Boy Friend"'s back, some fifty years after this homage to the fun of frivolous musical theatre brought Julie Andrews across the pond to the States. Dame Julie's in charge this time, and her vision of Sandy Wilson's bijou isless a revival and more a fond memory of a time when musicals weren't supposed to be significant. The tunes are actually hummable, the lyrics recall the kind of romance Rodgers & Hart and Irving Berlin were putting out over here, and West End theatres were laying on with regularity in the '20s. The cast captures the bright young things of the period, with a few older folks thrown in for comic relief. The snappy patter is predictable, but the laughs ring true, and the coincidences of the plot go back to the roots of romantic comedy. Choreographer John DeLuca has obvious watched a lot of early movie musicals while paying close attention to current styles, with an emphasis on froth. This is the kind of show where the audience walks out with a grin, not worrying whether the chirubes accents were consistent or whether it all makes sense.
     Almost the brightest part of the evening, however, is Tony Walton's production design, done as a kind of giant toy theatre in illustration style with Kelly Hanson's help. He was assisted on the costumes, which at times steal the show, by Rachel Navarro.When this Goodspeed production is done in New York, which could take a while, expect local musical theatre producers to take a second look at its charms. In the mean time, they might want to search out its sequel, a Noel Cowardish sea-going romp, "Divorce Me, Darling"
"The Boy Friend" by Sandy Wilson, Oct. 12-23
Goodspeed Musicals at the Shubert
265 Tremont St. , (800) 477- 7400 (TC)

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" by Martin McDonagh
Date: Sat, Sept 24, 11:23 PM

     The Hovey Players' season opener is the first play in Martin McDonagh's Connemara trilogy, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane." Under Michael Tonner's careful direction, the four members of the ensemble create a spellbinding domestic tragedy. Mikki Lipsey is the doddering old mother, Mag Folan, demanding and abrasive; Mary O'Donnell her long-suffering daughter Maureen who's been caring forthe old biddy these twenty years, with no help from her two married sisters. There's something sinister about the situation in this isolated farmhouse, to be sure. Their neighbors are the Dooleys, feckless Ray, who functions as the messenger in this tragedy, and his older brother Pato. A brief and belated relationship between Pato and Maureen is the crux of the action. If you haven't seen the piece, the outcome will be disturbing. If you have, this production in Hovey's intimate basement has the inevitability of tragedy. This was the play which established McDonagh in the current ranks of important new Irish writers. It was his the most harrowing until his recent "The Pillowman" which is closing on Broadway.
    As usual, Hovey has achieved a functional and realistic set for this show with believable costumes and effective lighting. Irish music over the onstage radio completes the picture. The cast with the help of dialect coach Mark Usher sounds appropriately Irish in a contemporary way. Hovey's next show is Craig Lucas' "Prelude to a Kiss" in November.
"The Beauty Queen of Leenane" by Martin McDonagh, Sept. 23 - Oct. 8
Hovey Players at Abbott Hall
9 Spring St. Waltham, (781) 893 -9171

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Our Country's Good" by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Date: Sun, Sept 18, 11:08 PM
Quicktake on OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD (1988)

     Those with more than a nodding acquaintance with George Farquahar's "The Recruiting Officer" may find interesting parallels in "Our Country's Good". However, to appreciate British playwright, Timberlake Wertenbaker's historical drama, it isn't necessary to know more than that Farquahar, an Irish playwright who was a former British officer, wrote several late Restoration Comedies which like Sheridan's "The Rivals" had amorous young officers as principle romantic characters. And that the British penal system transported thousands of minor criminals away to the colonies as convict labor, many as far as Australia, but even here to Georgia. This play would seem an unlikely script to be presented bu a group of prisoners, given its critical look at the Army, but "Our Country's Good" is in fact adapted from Thomas Keneally's novel, The Playmaker, which was based on just such a performance. The drama won an Olivier in England, a Drama Critic's Circle Award here, and was nominated for 6 Tonies.
     This current revival may suggest some contemporary prisoner situations, but the drama is primarily and grimly historical. The ensemble at the Coop which features Seth Holbrook as Lt. Clark who decides to direct this play, Austin de Besche as Capt. Phillip, the Governor of this prison colony in New South Wales who encourages him, and Nate Connors as brutal Major Ross, who'd hang the lot of them. Connors also doubles as Lt. Brewer a Marine who is forced in fact conduct hangings and goes mad. Zofia Goszczynska plays his doxie, Duckling Smith and doubles briefly as a stargazing officer.      Two woman who have no doubled roles are SerahRose Roth, who plays Liz Morden, a petty thief liable to be hanged who gets one of the female leads in the play and Erin Scanlon, who gets the other, the breeches part, falls in love with the director, who winds up having to play Lt. Plume, the hero of the piece. Nancy Hoffman doubles as both Dabby Bryant and Meg Long, two whores. The remaining men in the ensemble all double as both officers and prisoners. Michael Avellar is moving as an Irishman, Freeman, who's forced to become the hangman. Kevin Ashworth is both second in command and the pickpocket Robert Sideway. Andrew Winson plays both the Chaplain and the writer who plays Capt. Brazen, John Wisehammer a Jew falsely transported. Ian G. Byrd plays the recruiting officer,a severely beaten prisoner, and the ghost of the first man hanged in the colony. Needless to say, the cast is busy changing costumes when they're not also moving a few bits of furniture to set a large number of scenes in the play's brief two hours, This is not a show for the squeamish, but a sobering modern classic, and another unique offering from the Coop. Note: An earlier version of this misidentified Seth Holbrook. We apologize.

"Our Country's Good" by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Sept. 16 - Oct. 1
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville, (617) 625 - 1300 Theatre Cooperative

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Real Thing" by Tom Stoppard
Date: Thurs, Sept 15 8:13 AM
Quicktake on THE REAL THING

     The Huntington Theatre Company's opener, Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" confirms the author's place as a master of English language drama. This production's interpretation, directed by Evan Yionoulis, achieves a commendable balance between Stoppard's linguistic fireworks and the marital conundrums that beset the main character, not coincidentally a playwright. Indeed the first scene of the play turns out to be the first scene of this character's latest play, entitled "House of Cards" which is ostensibly about adultery, featuring his current wife and one of their friends. "The Real Thing" does concern itself about marital fidelity, but is also about truth and complex relationships. The author has agreed that material in the play is "self-referential", but it would be a mistake to think that this meditation of marriage, friendship, and even politics is more autobiographical than any writer's work.
     HTC eschews "star power" for this production and instead fields a sound professional cast of NY and regional actors, led by Rufus Collins as Henry and luminous Kate Nowlin as Annie, his second wife If Henry is the glib but somewhat befuddled brains of the piece, Annie is its rather conflicted heart. The rest of the cast are strong, but their characters in a sense are pawns in the central drama. The handsome set, like that for "39 Views" which Yionoulis directed at HTC last season, is an abstract expanse by Kris Stone in the moderne mode currently favored at Yale SoD. While the open stage suggests a kind of universality, the vista leaves the action adrift at times. It also doesn't help the antique acoustics of the Mystic aka the B.U.Theatre, and the odd line gets lost in all that space. There is however so much vintage Stoppard to listen to that most of the audience won't feel deprived. Real Stoppard fans will have heard it before and look forward to hearing it again, perhaps after a reread. "The Real Thing" will never become a staple but it will keep coming back as a rare dish, worth seeing each time to discover new tidbits. It will be interesting so see what LOngwood does with "Arcadia" after its successful outing at the Publick this summer, and later in the season when the B.U. Drama program tackles the same script. Who's for "Jumpers" or "Travesties", or (one can hope) "The Invention of Love."
"The Real Thing" by Tom Stoppard, Sept. 9 - Oct. 9
Huntington Theatre Company at the B.U.Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Educated" by Donna Sorbello
Date: Sat, Sept 10, 11:09 PM
Quicktake on THE EDUCATED

     At some point, a play in development needs to get in front of an audience. Donna Sorbello's "The Educated", a long one act focussing on two Middle Eastern grad students and their somewhat mysterious relationship tackles a serious contemporary situation, but might have been workshopped longer. Less superfiial direction would also help develop the characters along with the argument.. Amar Strivastava, as Sandahar the central character, is convincingly torn between East and West. Alan White, his more religious compatriot Hadji, has a more internalized role. Susan Gross, as Sandahar's fAmerican freshman girl Sonia back after five years or more doesn't get beyond her rather stereotyped part. A confrontation between her and Hadji might help. Director Kevin Mark Kline manages the numerous scenes efficiently, but hasn't taken his cast much beyond the page.
     Technical support for this production is basic. Michael Clark Monson's set has a sterile unlived-in quality but functions well enough. However, his lighting could use a little more definition, perhaps a gobo or two, but no one's left in the dark. Tracy Campbell's costumes are acceptable. A few more changes might be help, especially for Sandahar, to mark the passage of time. Jamieson Alcorn's soundscape, mostly Middle-Eastern popular music, is evocative. A playlist for Western audiences unfamiliar with these recordings would be appropriate. "The Educated" is an interesting start to the new play season, worth seeing for the questions raised, even though the action isn’t fully realized yet. It could well develop into an important contribution to the current dialogue about East and West. A lower ticket price for a work still needing work might attract a bigger audience, however.
"The Educated" by Donna Sorbello, Sept. 9-25
A&P+D atBoston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 661-1387 BPT

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Urinetown" by Greg Kotis & Mark Hollman
Date: Sun , Sept 11, 11:05 AM
Quicktake on URINETOWN

     Fans of the American Musical Theatre can't help being amused by this show, which began as an Off-Off-Broadway lark in a garage as part of a summer fringe festival and wound up on Broadway winning Tony awards. A few are still appalled at its title, and "Urinetown" probably would have seemed more of a political fantasy if we hadn't had the aftermath of Katrina and a monumental display of governmental incompetence 24/7 on the media this month. The audacity of political scientist Greg Kotis' view of society and Mark Hollman's ability to echo landmarks of the musical from Weill to Les Miz are the heart of this satire, which has all the hallmarks of a classic.
nbsp;    Of course it helps IRNE winning director Spiro Veloudous to be able to build his show around such IRNE winning stalwarts as Christopher Chew as Officer Lockstock the narrator and Marianne Zschau in full voice as Ms. Pennywise, not mention having IRNE winner Sean McGuirk as the villain, Caldwell B. Cladwell. Then there's favorites such as Peter A. Carey, Peter Edmund Haydu, and Robert Saoud in supporting roles, along with IRNE winning choreographer Ilyse Robbins in the cast leading her own hilarious efforts. The show also introduces two recent local grads, veterans of college musicals, Rob Morrison as Bobby, and Jennifer Ellis as Hope, as the unlikely--except in musicals--love interest between an assistant at a Public Amenity and the millionaires daughter. The pair bring a freshness to these roles, not to mention real musical theatre voices. Let's hope they don't run off to NYC too soon.
     Support includes IRNE winner Jonathan Goldberg as music director conducting from the keyboard, an effective grungy set by Norton awardee Janie E. Howland, expert lighting by IRNE winner Karen Perlow, and appropriately Brechtian costumes from Rafael Jean. As usual, the Lyric is overflowing with topnotch local talent including an engaging ensemble singing and dancing up a storm, and changing costumes every few minutes as they switch between the distressed lower classes and the Cladwell's associates at Urine GoodHands Co. So "Hail Malthus", "Don't Be The Bunny", and don't miss this unique start to the small theatre musical season. There's a special student performance on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at rush prices, which are $10 for all shows anyway.
"Urinetown" by Greg Kotis & Mark Hollman by Greg Kotis & Mark Hollman, Sept 9 - Oct. 11
Lyric Stage Company at Copley Sq. YMCA
140 Clarendon, (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Carmen" by Georges Bizet after Merimee’s novella
Quicktake on CARMEN

     Only opera fanatics will find much fault with the ART’s guest production of “Carmen.” This romantic fable suits Theatre de la Jeune Lune’s physical theatre style much better than their previous effort seen here, Moliere’s “The Miser.” The lead singers are uniformly excellent, capable of dealing with TJL’s energetic use of stage space while singing with clarity and feeling. The first half of the evening, Acts 1 & 2 is more effective than Acts 3 & 4, perhaps because the director’s industrial unit set doesn’t conjure up the Pyrenees very well, and is not used particularly well for the finale. Two sisters, Christina Baldwin and Jennifer Baldwin Peden are Carmen the seductive gypsy and Micaela the virtuous orphan respectively. Bradley Greenwald is a sold and convincing Don Jose, the basque country boy with a quick temper turned soldier. Bill Murray is vocally suited to Escamillio the bullfighter, moves well, but hasn’t been well served by the costumer. In 2003, these four were instrumental in developing the production with Dominique Serrand, the director, who originally played Zuniga, the police commander, the villain in the first half. Thomas Derrah, the only member of the ART regular company appearing in the show replaces him, coming up with another invidious characterization, reminiscent of Eric Von Stroheim. He doesn’t get to sing however.
The show is accompanied by two grand pianos which actually makes Bizet’s musical ideas clearer than the re-orchestration which was done after his untimely death only three months after Carmen’s disastrous premiere. Most of the recitative has been replaced by dialogue, all in clearly enunciated French sparingly surtitled by Steven Epps, the company’s associate director. The result is a show probably closer to Bizet’s original inspiration than what’s normally heard at opera houses. It’s a good start to the large theatre season in town, close to but not over the top in its inventiveness.
"Carmen" by Georges Bizet, libretto by Meilhac & Halevy

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Story" by Tracy Scott Wilson
Date Mon, Sept 5, 11:01 AM
Quicktake on THE STORY

     Tracy Scott Wilson 's script for "The Story" starts with the media scandals concerning Black reporters, most recently Jason Blair at the NYTimes. The author then permeates the action with her own observations starting with growing up as a middle-class African American in suburban Newark. All this freight may be too much for a 90 minute theatre piece to fully digest, but the suburb cast Zeitgeist's David Miller has assembled for this exhilarating production gives all the ideas swirling around the central topic of racial identification a sound airing. It's a superb start to the fall season.
     The center of the action turns around the conflict between Nydia Calon's Yvonne, a brash young reporter just hired at a major urban newspaper, The Daily, and Pat, her boss, the paper's veteran Black reporter, now in charge of community news aka Outlook. Nydia Calon, first seen here last spring in "Tooth & Claw" and Michelle Dowd, seen in Zeitgeist's "Bee-Luther-Hatchee" and last season in "Homebody/Kabul" play these parts to the hilt and could be the whole play. Dowd's role, incidentally, was originated at NYC's Public Theatre by Phylicia Raschad. "The Story" however, adopts a more cinematic approach, bringing in Yvonne's white lover, Gabriel Field as Jeff, a rich young White assistant editor on the Metro desk.For balance there's Pat's protege, Neil, a sharp young Black reporter, played by IRNE winner, Keedar Whittle. Field also briefly plays Jeff Dunn, another rich White guy teaching in an outreach program at an inner-city school. The play's action is triggered when he's shot driving at night not far from his school. His pregnant wife, Jessica, played by Caryn Andrea Lindsey, says the shooter was a black man.
     The plot of course becomes complicated. Neil immediately thinks "Charles Stuart" and starts investigating the wife. Pat is worried about her community's image and assigns Yvonne to cover the positive activities at local community centers. Yvonne, who really wants to work on "real news" for Metro or preferably the National desk, finds this boring. But she meets Latisha, a bright youngster, perhaps an image of her earlier self, who tells her that the killing was done by a member of a previously unknown girl gang. "Latisha", played by a Junior at Boston Arts Academy, Chantel Nicole Bibb, is Yvonne's ticket to promotion as the story becomes front page news. Predictably, thing unravel, given the complex personalities involved and the internal politics, personal and racist, at the paper, resulting in a dramatic final moment 90 minutes into the play. Unfortunately, it's not a real conclusion to the drama. Like too many contemporary scripts, which seem to be conceived to work for film or TV, "The Story" is a good first and second act, leaving the audience to finish the play on the way home.
.     However, Zeitgeist does an impressive job getting to this moment with simple but effective in-the-round staging. The cast handles scenes of overlapping and intercut dialogue with precision. A three woman ensemble, IRNE winner Kortney Adams, IRNE nominee, W.Yvonne Murphy, and busy Kaili Turner, switch between half a dozen minor roles apiece, once by simple costume changes even metamorphosing from three community center directors into three of their teen-age charges onstage. They could easily step into either of the major roles. Wilson's cinematic script plays quite well under Miller's careful direction and tight technical support. Even without a dramatic conclusion, this show is well worth seeing.
"The Story" by Tracy Scott Wilson,Sept. 2 - 24
Zeitgeist Stage Co. in BCA Black Box
539 Tremont St., (617) 933- 8600 (BTS) Zeitgeist Stage Co.

Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2005 02:20:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: MikeyHammond@aol.com
Subject: Abyssinia - Shubert Theatre

I was VERY pleasantly surprised by Abyssinia! Definitlely a must see! The performances were outstanding... Picture a young Patti Labelle and Stephanie Mills in the lead roles. That is what they sounded like. The show was moving, had a great message... was very often funny! The music is memorable. You would leave humming a few of the songs... if the next song didn't knock the previous song right out of your head. Many of the songs would stand on their own in a musical revue type show. I enjoyed it very much. I would actually see it again. The audience was quiet. Mostly older people... BUT they all stood up before the curtain call even began. I feel like the show was missing the excitement it could have if there was a celebrity in it. But, the cast is very talented. Other than Abyssinia's mother... who seemed to be fishing for her notes...(acting was great) and Sally... a great actor, but I wonder if her voice will withstand what she is doing with it... went slightly flat occasionally. The men were all strong as well. The preacher has a great number and sounds like Darius De Haus. The entire cast is African American. (Tracy... bring your entire church group!) The set is somewhat stationary and doesn't change much... but they light it beautifully! See it! You will be in for a nice surprise. I might go back! It was only the 3rd night... I am sure it will get even better! Be warned... it does get a little heavy at times... but no worse than Ragtime (which it really DIDN'T resemble... other than one song)
- Michael -

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Abyssinia" by Kociolek & Racheff
Date:Friday, Aug 26, 12:23 AM
Quicktake on ABYSSINIA

     In "the show must go on" tradition, North Shore Music Theatre's revival of "Abyssinia", which they first presented in 1995, is a rousing start to Boston's downtown season. The cast, with Shannon Antalan in the title role, forms a tight musical ensemble, under the able musical direction of Goodspeed's Michael O'Flaherty at the keyboard. This production moves down to Connecticut next, with hopes for a Broadway opening later in the season. Fans of North Shore's in-the-round space may miss the intimacy, but director Stafford Arima, who did "Aida" for NSMT last season, keeps the action flowing on a simple platform stage, well-suited to the show's narrative form. Costumes, set pieces, and lighting, blend into a powerful drama.      "Abyssinia" is a rather straight-forward adaptation of Joyce Carol Thomas' "Marked by Fire", a novel of sharecropping life in rural Oklahoma early in the last century. BJ Crosby as Mother Vera, the local midwife and the heroine's mentor moves the action along, vocally and dramatically. The show, which verges on "folk opera" in the tradition of Scott Joplin's "Treemonisha", would not have been out of place in the regional drama period of the '30s. It's had a number of distinguished performances around the country in the last decade. The ensemble rises to the challenges of its rousing gospel, ragtime, and jazz score, which is often sung through. The cast of fourteen, with extensive credits in music theatre and the concert stage, produces a mighty sound. This is a show which should become part of the American Musical Theatre tradition.
     NSMT second "away" show will be Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot", Sept 20 -Oct. 9, just before Julie Andrew's production of "The Boyfriend", the show which brought her to the States, having its pre-Broadway tryout, Oct.11-23. The old Schubert, which is looking quite spiffy these days, hasn't seen this much music in years. NSMT is still hopeful that they can be back on their own stage by the first of November for "The Full Monty", in the buff and in the round. Maybe some new friends from downtown will be willing to head up to the North Shore for a grand re-opening.
"Abyssinia" by Ted Kociolek & James Racheff, music, lyrics, and book, Aug 23 - Sept. 11
North Shore Music Theatre at Schubert Theatre
265 Tremont St., Boston / (800) 477-7400 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hamlet" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Insert date and time
Quicktake on HAMLET

     It used to be said that performing “Hamlet” was the true test of a leading man. These days the Scottish king or Richard Crookback are probably more of a challenge, as Hamlet has turned into an alienated Everyman. Local character actor, George Saulnier III, does a down to earth job of playing the doleful prince, with good jobs from a cast of Theatre Coop regulars. The text approximates the first printing of the play, the so-called “bad” quarto and runs les than 2 1/2 hours. A few more judicious cuts might have kept things moving faster in spots.     Josh Pritchard, normally seen as a low comic does an admirable job as Claudius, Cheryl Singleton is a mature and believable Gertrude. Peter Brown doubles as the Ghost and the Player King, while Kevin Groppe revels in Polonius and the Gravedigger. SerahRose Roth is touching as Ophelia, and Claire Shinkman does her best as a gender switched Laertes, a conceit that doesn’t quite work. Dan Liston’s Horatio beats the anemic conception seen last month on the Common. Director Lesley Chapman’s direct approach delivers sound Hamlet--minus Fortinbras--who was more politically important then than now. A few more props, particularly weapons for the guard, would have been welcome. This in-the-round production with acting areas contiguous to sections of the audience makes the play very accessible. Less sauna-like weather would make it more enjoyable. Dress lightly--like the cast--and bring extra water, Refill at the concession stand during intermission.

"Hamlet" by Wm. Shakespeare,Aug. 12 - 21
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville (617) 625 - 1300 Theatre Coop

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Sound of Music" by Rodgers & Hammerstein
Date: Sat, Aug 13, 12:02 AM

     Reagle's definitely got themselves a leading lady in Sarah Pfisterer, back for her third season, and the second show this summer. “The Sound of Music” (1958) let Oscar Hammerstein approach his roots in the operetta while once again finding a way for decency to respond to tyranny. Pfisterer's Maria and co-star John Davidson as Baron Von Trapp anchor a solid production of this classic, combining her fresh fully-trained voice with his forty years of show-biz experience. Davidson is not only a believable, but not especially threatening military man, but also enough of a mature aristocrat to project an attractive touch of nobility and manners, making their May and December romance seem inevitable.
     It’s the music however that makes “The Sound of Music.” Jenny Lynn Stewart, a professional singer with a strong operatic background, has toured internationally in the role of the Mother Abbess. Her strong presence lifts the scenes in the Abbey. She’s ably backed up by Marian Rambelle, Rachelle Riehl, and Margie Quinlan as Srs. Berthe, Margaretta, and Sophia, all trained and experienced singers, who lead an ensemble totalling eighteen in Rodgers Latin “Preludium” and the wedding “Processional”. On the musical comedy side, Bob Freschi, seen here last year in “The Music Man” and Sylvia Ryne bring an urbane touch to Max and Elsa and a depth of performance credits. Their sophistication provides an essential contrast to Maria, especially along with Davidson in Hammerstein's most Lorenz Hart-like ditty, “How Can Love Survive?” And to round out the Von Trapp household, Stan and Aurlie Alger, Reagle stalwarts play Franz from Captain’s naval days and Frau Schmidt the housekeeper. Everything’s well-blended together in the effective revival under Frank Roberts’ careful direction.
     Of course, it’s the kids who are the center of this show, and Reagle’s rounded up a charming septet. Tisch student Molly O'Neal is Liesl, and has a nice moment in the reprise of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” singing with Pfisterer. Steven Krueger and Christian Johansen are the two brothers, Friedrich and Kurt. Deanna Michelle Foltz is mischievous Louisa, Charlotte Horan shines as truth-telling Brigitta, while Claire Dickson and Ashley Learned Kamal are the two youngest. And under Jennifer Honen's tutelage, they do become the Trapp Family Singers.
     It’s the best family show so far this summer--the possible exception being NSMT’s burned-out “Cinderella”--with an effective hired set spruced up considerably by Matt Rudman, and classic costumes from Kansas City. Jeffrey P. Leonard gets a full professional sound out of the pit. Speakeasy’s Paul S. Katz has the able assistance with the music direction from Dan Rodriguez, currently completing his degree at Oberlin College and Conservatory. Fans of the Hollywood classic should remember not to sing along, however. Reagle regulars should also plan to restrain themselves when Kirby and Beverly Ward bring their Irving Berlin “Say It With Music” revue back the weekend of Oct. 7-9.
"The Sound of Music" by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Aug 10 - 25
Reagle Players at Robinson Theatre
Waltham HIgh, (781) 891-5600 Reagle Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Hal Harry Henry" adapted from Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Thursday, July 28, 11:41 PM
Quicktake on HAL HARRY HENRY

     Those who caught "Breathe of Kings" during its brief run in 2003 may want to catch it this weekend in the larger space of the Roberts Studio at the BCA, under its new title, "Hal Harry Henry." Noel Joseph Allain is once again in the role of Hal aka Henry V, while Eric Lochtefeld who has appeared in several of Mary Zimmerman's production, including the Tony-nominated "Metamorphoses" play his father, Henry IV, aka Henry Bolingbroke, Sir John Falstaff, Exeter, and other roles. The author and head director, Shawn Cody, also plays Hotspur among other roles. He does well enough acting, but might have concentrated more on the direction and found another Henry Percy, or better still, further honed his complex script and engaged a more subtle director.
    This production is headed for New York, and while the ensemble is energetic, half the student actors simply aren't ready for prime time. There's also the conceptual difficulty of having Angela Aliki Basset play the boy Henry VI. She also serves a narrative thread, quoting from various texts, including "Hamlet", "Richard II", and "Midsummer...", serving as the French Herald, as well as playing Katherine of France, Henry VI's mother. She's most successful in the last brief role. The double is too pat. Cody needs to find a strong youth to play this role, and could of course have him play Katherine after the Elizabethan tradition. The reverse really doesn't work. Richard II, as played by Sheila Bandyopadhyay, one of the producers, is only slightly successful. Most of the rest of the cast would be perfectly fine in a collegiate production, providing more rigorous attention was paid to their verse speaking, which is far too colloquial. Only Julia Niven as Hotspur's wife comes near the mark, as well as Curt Klump when playing his father.      This historical pastiche has some merit, but needs some dramaturgical scrutiny. Since the second half is half the length of the first, Cody might well want to intimate that the War of Roses and snarling Dick is what comes next. The conceit that what the audience is watching is an acting troupe recounting Henry VI's family's history for the young prince just isn't well-enough established to frame the action. As long as "Hamlet" is being stirred into the mix, Polonius' introduction for the players might be used, and more Brechtian moments employed as the show progresses. Right now, the staging is about on the level of the best of the Globe High School Finals, and the characterizations would generally get only a passing grade. Klump might even get a B for Northumberland, Percy's father, and Ancient Pistol.
"Hal Harry Henry" adapted from Wm. Shakespeare's histories by Shawn Cody, July 27 - 31
Shakespeare East in Roberts Studio, Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 933- 8600
Shakespeare East

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Comedy of Errors" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Thursday, July 28, 2005 8:34 AM

     Of all Shakespeare's plays, "The Comedy of Errors" derives its humor most from the action rather than its characters. Based loosely of the ancient Roman comedy by Plautus, "The Twin Maenechmi," the play follows one day's adventures of identical twins Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus, and their equally identical servants, the Dromios. The former played by Lewis Wheeler has come to town seeking his long-lost brother. The Ephesian is played by Bill Mootos, and with a little costume help from Rafael Jean and some cool shades, they look quite alike. The long-winded Dromios, Steven Libby and Hary LaCoste are more indistinguishable. To add to the plot, their father, Egeon, played to Nigel Gore, has also arrived in Ephesus and been arrested, since this city in Asia Minor and Syracuse, off the "boot" of Italy are enemies. If he can't make bail by sundown, he'll be executed.
     Of course the twins are instantly mistaken for one another, and indeed, can't tell their own servants apart Hint: audience members who might get confused should note their footwear. The real mixups start when Carolyn Lawton, as Adriana the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, drags his brother into the house because he's late for supper--and something more. Of course her husband shows up. Dromio of Syracuse, having been told not to admit anyone, bars the door, and gets into a shouting match with his counterpart. The husband storms off, and the audience soon discovers that the foreign Antipholus is smitten with Adriana's sister, Luciana, played by Joy Lamberton. The latter is not about to start fooling around with her sister's husband, though she's intrigued. But it's a comedy, everything works out at the last minute. Egeon gets all his family back--and his life--his sons each get a sister, and the Dromios get the last laugh. Director Diego Arciniegas puts the company through their paces in a sprightly manner. Half of this cast is also in "Arcadia", which will now play in weekly rotation with "Comedy of Errors" until early September. Also the Young Company will be presenting their version in early August.
"Comedy of Errors" by Wm. Shakespeare, July 21 - Sept. 10
Publick Theatre in Herter Park
1400 Soldiers Field Rd. Brighton, (617) 782- 5425 Publick Theatre

From: “will stackman” profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - “The Learned Ladies” by Moliere, translator - Richard Wilbur
Date: Sat, July 23, 9:59 AM

     The Vokes Players summer classic this year is Richard Wilburs’ translation/adaptation of Moliere’s 1672 domestic comedy, “Les Precieuses riducles.” Wilbur’s approach is more sympathetic than the original, which is rarely produced even at the Comedie Francais. Director John Barrett has fielded a strong ensemble cast, many of whom were in last summer’s Shaw classic, “The Devil’s Disciple.” His set is square and realistic and the collection of costumes Elizabeth Tustian has come up with are appropriate to the period. Wilbur’s couplets prove very playable and the comic observation, while not especially contemporary, still resonates.     Kimberly Schaffer and Evan Bernstein are charming as the almost thwarted young lovers, Deanna Swann, Melissa Sine and Mickie Lipsey are the over-educated title characters. Dan Kelly is back at Vokes, this time to channel his innner poet as the pedantic villain, the ladies' idol. James Ewell Brown is the henpacked father of the girls. Kate Mahoney plays Martine, the cook, one of Moliere’s favorite recurring servant roles. Robert Mackie, Kent Miller, and David Dobson round out the able cast. Another fine production at Vokes worth the drive to Wayland, only a few minutes west on Rt. 20 off 128.
“The Learned Ladies” by Moliere, July 21 - Aug. 6
Vokes Players at Beatrice Hereford’s Vokes Theatre
Rt. 20, Wayland, (508) 358 - 2011 Vokes Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Syringa Tree" by Pamela Gien
Date: Thurs, July 21,

     Those who missed Pamela Gien's remarkable solo show this last January can catch it at the Loeb until the end of the first week in August. Perhaps the best current example of the monodrama Russian theatre theorist Evreinov proposed during the 1920s, this piece probably provides its author/actress more catharsis than an audience could hope to get, at least in one sitting. Indeed much of the action would be recognized by Freud's student J. L. Moreno, whose controversial psycho-drama became a basis for modern therapeutic techniques. This rewarding if occasionally uncomfortable theatre piece starts somewhat cryptically as this former ART company member regresses to a four year old on a swing in her back yard in urban Johannesburg. By the end of the show, she, as the main character Elizabeth (named after the Queen?), is able to come home from America, where she fled just after the Soweto riots and begin to come to terms with her inner turmoil. There’s a lot of hidden artifice in the construction of the one hour forty minute continuous piece, directed by Gien’s acting guru, Larry Moss. It’s certainly the best serous theatrical effort onstage in town at the moment.

"The Syringa Tree" by Pamela Gien, July 15 - Aug. 7
presented by ART at Loeb Theatre
64 Brattle St. Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Pippin " by Stephen Schwartz & Roger O. Hirson
Date: Thur, July 7, 2005 12:01 AM
Quicktake on PIPPIN - seen in preview

     Turtle Lane’s first show ever, in 1982, was Stephen Schwartz's “Godspell” and a few years later this spinoff from Wayland's Vokes Theatre first tried “Pippin”, their summer offering this year. TLP recently did Schwartz’s “Rags” in 2003. His music, with its ever-present touch of the popular, is well suited to those who generally perform there. The show however , written in the early '70s, no longer has echoes the youth culture of the period it originally spoke for. "Pippin"'s first act seems overlong; its second rather arbirtrary. While some anti-war themes still resonate, Schwartz's continuing preoccupation with "growing up", evident even in his current Broadway success "Wicked", comes across as self-indulgence.
     While director James Tallach has pulled together an effective, mostly young, ensemble, the two principal's seen in the preview, Shanna McEachern as the MC of this morality play, and Russell Peck as its title character, didn't make enough audience contact to make the action compelling. Patricia Strauss' choreography, which echoes the novel moves of the show's original director Bob Fosse, matches the capabilities of her dancers. However, this style has become so ingrained in American Musical Theatre that their use today, even in a show where they were first showcased, becomes something of a parody. Perhaps what "Pippin" needs is not revival, but renovation. TLP's current production will satisfy those nostalgic for its period, who remember numbers like "Magic to Do" or even "Extra-Ordinary." Wayne Ward has done his usual solid job as music director. Jeff Gardiner's set is sufficient, if not displayed to its best under TLP's meager lighting capabilities. Robert Itszack's costume plot echoes the original medieval circus motif but doesn't quite come together; some of the painted clowns seem overdone while the story characters seem unfinished. All-in-all, a pleasant enough presentation of a show whose juvenile concerns have lost much of their relevance, unless sold by extremely compelling performances.
"Pippin" by Stephen Schwartz & Roger O. Hirson, July 8 - Aug. 14
Turtle Lane Playhouse a
283 Melrose St. Auburndale, (617) 244 - 0169 Turtle Lane Playhouse

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard
Date: Wed, July 6, 2005 11:26 PM
Quicktake on ARCADIA

     Tom Stoppard may well be the current successor to Bernard Shaw, producing plays which combine fine writing, witty situations, and provoking ideas. His 1993 "Arcadia" may be less well-known than "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", but this play is more ambitious, for it uses the mathematical mysteries of the universe as its poetic springboard. The drama shifts from the past to the present and back again, combining a country-house comedy with an academic puzzle involving Byron, while touching on the paradoxes of time.
    Publick Theatre's fine ensemble casts includes Susanne Nitter as Hannah and Nigel Gore as Bernard, two feuding academics in the present. In the past there's Kelly Adair as Thomasina Coverly, a naive genius, and Lewis Wheeler as Septimus Hodge, her tutor, a rakish young University man. The action takes place on her father, Lord Cooms' estate, where Lady Cooms (Caroline Lawton) has her eye on Septimus, Septimus is dallying with Mrs. Chater, the wife of a local poet, who's also of interest to Milady's brother, dashing Captain Brice (Bill Mootos). The erstwhile poet, Ezra Chater(Owen Doyle), is determined to call Septimus out, but is continually dissuaded by his charm, even though the young rascal has published a scathing review of Chater's first book. Meanwhile, eager Rich. Noakes(Gerard Slattery), a very up-to-date--for 1812--landscape architect, is busy turning the Arcadian Cooms' landscape into a Romantic wilderness--complete with a hermitage.     Now back in the present, Valentine Coverley(Eric Hamel), a University mathematician has taken to referring to Hannah, some 20 years his senior as his "fiance." Val's hoydenish sister Chloe(Joy Lamberton) has fallen for Prof. Bernard, and their pathologically shy younger brother Gus(Will Ford) won't speak but knows everything that's going on, and where to find the proof. Will also plays Augustus, Thomasina's haughty brother, as the past and the present come together at the end of the action, where the mysteries of what probably happened to who become clear, and the audience finds out what Jellaby the butler (Bill Gardiner) knew all along. Some characters in the plot never appear onstage, but the dozen who do are vividly drawn in the production under Diego Arciniegas' expert direction.
    "Arcadia" runs through Sept. 4th and will be joined in repertory by "The Comedy of Errors" on July 21st. The unit set for both is an impressive set of pillars and the great outdoors. There's plenty of free parking and picnic space right on the Charles. A bus from Central Sq. stops two blocks away on Western Ave. Check the website for details and a schedule of performances.
"Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard", July 1 - Sept. 4 (in rep starting July 21)
Publick Theatre in Herter Park
1400 Soldiers Field Road, Brighton MA / (617) PUBLICK Publick Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "DoublePlay" by Lisa Burdick & Vladimir Zelevinsky
Date: Sat, July 2, 11:05 PM

     This year's "Double Play" program at the Theatre Coop featured two vignettes by Vladimir Zelevinsky, whose adaptation of "Forget Herostratus!" ended their regular season, and a dialogue by Shadow Boxing Theatre's Lisa Burdick. Each piece was done twice with different actors and directors. Zelevinsky's "Last Scene", a final confrontation between the astronomer Bruno and an Inquisitor was directed in period by Jason Myatt, and as an abstract modern dress scene by Lisa Burdick. The first version pitted Randy Farias as the priest against Korinne Hertz as Bruno, then in the second half Louisa Richards represented authority and Eva Passeltiner was the heretic. The scene might be an interesting beginning or end to a longer effort.
     Burdick's dialogue "Suit Yourself" was first directed by Lesley Chapman, who had John Joyce and Robin Rapoport defusing a bomb. In the second half, Marc S. Miller had himself observing Sara Peterson sculpting invisible clay. Equally inventive directors could have done other versions of this amusing exercise. Finally, Zelevinsky's "Silence", a ten minute play, was directed by Wendy Nystrom with Kevin Groppe and Janelle Mills playing to actors having the world's briefest backstage romance. Lisa Burdick had Susan Gross and Dan Liston play the same brief encounter. Each couple presented the same action with subtle differences, based as much on their individual acting styles as the direction.
     The next mind-stretching efforts at the Theatre Coop will be "Theatre Diversified"--a festival by and about people of color--on July 22nd and 23rd, followed by Theatre in the Raw's production of "Hamlet", Aug. 12 - 21, which will be interesting to compare to the CSC's big show downtown on the Common which ends earlier in the month. And go to the Coop's website to checkout their interesting offerings for the coming season.
"Double Play" by Lisa Burdick & Vladimir Zelevinsky, July 1st & 2nd
Theatre Coop at Peabody House Theatre
277 Broadway, Somerville (617) 625 - 1300 Theatre Cooperative

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Frogz" created by Carol Triffle & Jerry Mouawad
Date: Thurs, June 23, 9:48 PM
Quicktake on FROGZ

     In place of the annual repeat performance of "The Island of Anywhere", the ART's perennial show for youngsters, this June they've imported Oregon's Imago Theatre for a run of "Frogz", subtitled " a theatrical menagerie." This variety mask/mime show, which has changed as they've played around the world, opens with a trio of said creatures being simply themselves. They're followed by some pretty scary double sided alligators with red LED eyes. Families with skittish kids are advised to sit up a few rows safely in the center of the house. Anyone in the front row may get up close and personal with these and other more abstract entities. There are solos, like an amazingly animated paper bag, some concertina beasts, and penguins playing musical chairs. "Frogz"' eleven pieces using five performers take about two hours including intermission. Everyone will have their own favorites, all are memorable.
     Imago, led by Triffle and Mouawad, has become a leading physical theatre company in the past decade. They combine excellent theatrical dance skills with Le Coq based mime, using unique costume ideas. Check their website: http://www.imagotheatre.com/frogz.shtml for pictures. There's a video clip of the Frogz on ART's site listed below. Members of the company will be back next January to perform Mouawad's treatment of Sarte's "No Exit", which is performed on a tilting stage. Their current production may be easier to fathom, though it's not without profound moments. So round up some kid and get on over to the new Zero Arrow St, Theatre, which is set up as a simple auditorium for this show.
"Frogz" created by Carol Triffle & Jerry Mouawad, June 21 - July 10
Imago Theatre at Zero Arrow Theatre for the ART
Zero Arrow St., Harvard Sq. (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "AMERIKA or The Disappearance" adapted from an unfinished novel by Franz Kafka
Date: Wed, June 22, 11:39 PM
Quicktake on AMERIKA

     The parting shot of the ART's season is based on an unfinished juvenile novel by Prague's master of macabre fantasy Franz Kafka. It follows the strange adventures of young Karl Rossman, exiled from Germany to Amerika before WWI. ART regulars combine with members of director Dominic Serrand's company from Minneapolis, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, which got a Tony award this year, to create an interesting ensemble. Both Serrand, and Gideon Lester, the ART's associate artistic director and the script's author, have their own experiences coming to this country which inform the production. The result is interesting if rather inconclusive, running about three hours with intermission since a lot of the incidents from the original novel have been worked into this adaptation.
     Nathan Keepers, seen last year in Moliere's"The Miser", ART's first collaboration with TJL,displays a mastery of physical comedy as Karl, though the character shows very little development. TJL co-artistic director, Stephen Epps has three impressive roles, does the ART's Will Lebow. Thomas Derrah gets two major shots as does Remo Airaldi. Most members of the ensemble in fact have three named roles, and fill in walkons as needed. TJL stalwart Sarah Agnew serves as Fanny, the narrator, Karl's almost constant shadow,doing yeoman work in an unevenly written part, winding up as a singing angel. Deborah Knox, a ART/MXAT student seen last fall in "The Provok'd Wife" gets to vamp the hero up to and including a gratuitous nude scene which should amuse Harvard's alumni. One senses that this combined company, given a lot more time to work on the material, might be able to find some epiphany in its obscure fantasy. As it stands, the script is longer than it needs to be, embellished with theatrical effects that don't really get anywhere. The constructivist set and video effects credited to the director are effective from time to time but don't achieve a coherent design. Sonya Berlovitz' costumes are just that. Whether or not the production is more than a gloss for the complex and tormented writing the script is based on is an obvious question.
"AMERIKA" by Gideon Lester, adapted from Franz Kafka,Jun.18 - July 10
A.R.T. in Loeb Auditorium
64 Brattle St., Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Pride & Prejudice" by Jane Austen, adapted by Andrea Kennedy
Date: Tues, June 14, 9:28 AM
Quicktake on PRIDE & PREJUDICE

     There are several currently available stage adaptations of Jane Austen's first and most popular novel, "Pride & Prejudice." Wellesley Summer Theatre company member Andrea Kennedy has taken a fresh look at this archtypical Regency Romance with an ear toward catching the author’s proto-feminist observations, beginning of course with ironic “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” the novel’s opening line. She’s directed the show in the company’s style, and has the services of Alicia Kahn as Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine and Kahn’s regular stage partner, Derek Stone Nelson, as dour Mr. Darcy, her opposite number Their Beatrice and Benedick relationship is kept at the center of the action, though perhaps too much of the rest of Austen’s two volume chronicle is retained. There is a lot of dialogue in the original work, and the cast handles it expiditiously. The structure of the gentry during the Regency is made quite clear, though it does take three hours with intermission. The story theatre approach to the narration could be strengthened, however
Ken Loewit’s unit set created more for “Pride’s Crossing”, which closes this weekend, is perfectly adequate for this second production. Lucy Dean has caught the period in the costumes, including those which must do double and even triple duty as the cast switches roles. Senior company members Charlotte and Ed Peed play all the older couples with just enough distinction between father and mother, aunt and uncle, and neighbors. Gladys Mattesoian returns as the formidable Lady Catherine De Brough. Marc Harpin gets good comic mileage out of the insufferable Reverend Mr. Collins, who will probably get straightened out eventually by Angie Jepson’s quiet Charlotte Lucas Kelly Galvin adds a touch of bravado to the wayward Lydia, who may also be able to manage her dodgey catch, the reprobate Lieutenant Geo. Wickham, played by David Shaw. Melina McGrew is appealing as Jane, the oldest of the five daughters, who eventually gets to marry their new rich neighbor, Mr. Bingley, done with admirable openess by Spencer Christie, despite Claire George as his haughtty sister, Caroline. Claire Davis is the third sister Kitty and Lady Caroline ill-flavored daughter Anne,while Bethany Winkels gets to be all the servants and a few of the neighbors. So forget Sir Larry’s version or the Masterpiece Theatre series, and settle back to get a glimpse of what Austen had to say about the eternal dance of the sexes 200 years ago.
"Pride & Prejudice" by Jane Austen, adapted by Andrea Kennedy, June 6 - 25
Wellesley Summer Theatre in Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
Alumnae Hall, Wellesley (781) 891 - 1158 Wellesley Summer Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Pieces of Whitey" by Patrick Gabridge
Date: Thur, Jun 9, 11:38 PM

     Ironically, the major moral of Patrick Gabridge's "Pieces of Whitey", Rough & Tumble's spring offering, is that there's very little new to say about race relations in today's America. White America ignores Black America; it's more comfortable that way. So the company, under Dan Milstein's measured direction, instead of playing the comedy in antic style, adopts a reflective pace. This strategy can be annoying, but it may be the only way to make the point using this material. As in "Blinders", which Out of the Blue did this spring at Boston Playwright's, Gabridge's imagination runs on, with more scenes and situations than are really necessary to make his point. Rough & Tumbles' company,old hands Kristin Baker, Irene Daly, George Salunier III, recent addition Jason Myatt, and new comers Josh Pritchard and Karen "Mal" Malme; all seasoned improvisors and sketch comedians, could probably create tighter scenes for some situations from scenarios rather than prepared dialogue. Gabridge's interwoven plot lines, perhaps intended to suggest real life, instead become overly self-referential. The conceit that the audience needs to be cued as to whether characters, all of whom are played by white actors, are black or white by having them wear appropriately "colored" shirts might be even more pointed if there were a "person of color" in the ensemble. Anyone interested in the questions posed by this show, which should be the entire local theatre going crowd, might want to take in this show, regardless of their own personal racial identification.

"Pieces of Whitey" by Patrick Gabridge,
Rough & Tumble in Rehearsal Hall
BCA Calderwood, 527 Tremont St. (617) 933 - 8600 Rough & Tumble

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Laughing Wild" by Christopher Durang
Quicktake on LAUGHING WILD

     As the second of the two works scheduled by the Huntington Theatre Company to coincide Pride Month, Christopher Durang's drama for two, "Laughing Wild", seems even more dated than "Falsettos". Not that its concerns aren't relevant, but the specific cultural referents, some conveniently annotated in the latest newsletter, add a touch of Trivial Pursuit to the evening. The author, who's half the cast, seems content to let his words speak for themselves. Some just aren't as funny as they were when he started creating this "cult comedy" in the '80s. His co-star, Emmy winning Debra Monk, who also has a Tony and several nominations works harder at her part. One wishes she had more to work with; less stereotype, more substance.
     Monk's on first with a monologue which sets up the situation and establishes that her character's actually certifiably insane.
Durang, in his monologue parodies New Age quasi-religious activities, notably the Harmonic Convergence in Central Park. After the intermission, the two, who've figured in each others monologues, now enter a shared dream in which she becomes Sally Jessie Rafael (sic) and he is her interviewee, the Infant of Prague. Which leads to a discussion of AIDS and the Catholic Church. Etc.
Durang fans will no doubt appreciate seeing the man do his own material, which is clever in small doses. Those who watched his start at Harvard will have to make do with remembering "Sister Mary Ignatius..." and waiting for the current co-chair of the Playwrighting Program at the Julliard to grow up. Or they can join the obligatory and occassionally inappropriate laughter at the Wimberley.

"Laughing Wild" by Christopher Durang, June 3 - 26
Huntington Theatre Co. in Wimberley Theatre
BCA Calderwood, 527 Tremont, (617) 255 - 0800 Huntington Theatre Co.

Date: Sun, 05 Jun 2005 12:27:19 -0400
From: Ann Carpenter Subject: Quick-Take" Forget Herostratus"

I had the opportunity to see "Forget Herostratus" last night at the Theatre Cooperative. Unfortunately, there were very few audience members there to see this fine production so following is a little publicity for this excellent cast.

The story is about a young man named Herostratus who in 356 BC burned down the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The temple was considered one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World and the narcissistic Herostratus was motivated by the desire to secure immortal fame. The title refers to the fact that the authorities tried to thwart his notoriety by threatening to execute anyone who spoke his name. The story is intriguing and has many levels to ponder in this age of the "cult of celebrity".

Dan Cozzens in the title role is absolutely riveting. Peter Brown is alternately both touching and fierce as the governor in love with his young wife and is at his best during a confrontation scene with Herostratus close to the end. The rest of the ensemble does a good job and the play held the audience's interest throughout.

I was at one of the larger venues on Friday night which was packed with theatergoers for what I and my companions considered an inferior product. This small theater and this production in particular are worth the time and money. Go see it. Through June 11.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "FAME - the Musical" by De Silva, Fernandez, Levy & Margoshes et al.
Date: Fri, June 3, 8 :53 AM
Quicktake on FAME

     It's not the 198? movie, with its one-hit wonder Academy Award winning song. It's not the "teenage angst in Manhattan show-biz" TV series remembered for Debbie Allen's choreography.. It's a musical begun back then, and premiered in Sweden in 1993, a box-office success abroad, and less than impressive off-Broadway (but close) in NY. Not quite a juke box musical. though that song works its way in, "FAME" has an unremarkable pop score with rather pedestrian lyrics. The cleverest is "Mabel's Prayer" about being an over-weight dancer nicely done here by Krystal N. Pyram. The anthem this time is "Bring on Tomorrow," which is forgettable at best.
     On the upside, NSMT's hardworking young ensemble, which includes a dozen local kids as unnamed students, really enjoys putting on a fast-paced show with director/choreographer Richard Stafford at the helm. Andrew Graham gets first rate sound from his pit, and several of the performers, notably Dennis Moench as Schlomo, from the original NY cast, actually play instruments very well onstage as part of their roles. Everyone's enthusiasm is infectious; the result is enjoyable, if bland. The plot varies from the movie, which indeed gets scornfully mentioned at times, but the show's is still a bit of a soap-opera. None of the characters gets much beyond their stereotypes; all their passion goes into singing, dancing, and more-or-less acting, which makes the romance a bit perfunctory. But the result is a show which stage-struck teens and their families can take in without trepidation. Being gay is a casual joke (it's still the '80s), none of the characters are out, and Lynette Marrero as Carmen Diaz, the poster child for over-ambition and reckless living, slips away before the end, only to show up after the first curtain call for a grande finale outside the story. She even finally gets to dance on top of a tiny Yellow Cab. The show is sure to show up at a high school near you in the next few years.
"FAME" by De Silva, Fernandez, Levy & Margoshes, May 31 - June 19
North Shore Music Theatre
Dunham Woods, Beverly MA / (978 ) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Duplex" by Peter Fernandez
Date: Sun, May 29, 7:39 PM
Quicktake on DUPLEX

     Audiences used to finding new music theatre work sponsored by the New Opera and Musical Theatre Initiative (NOMTI) this time of year won't have as many choices as in the past. They can however take a chance on Peter Fernandez' "Duplex", an ambitious effort by Alarm Clock which just opened in the BCA Black Box. The book which began life as a screenplay has too many dialogue scenes and too many locations. The cast's limited singing abilities handle the unchallenging lyrics adequately and the overall effect is earnest but not pretentious. It's a likable enough first effort with a hint of sophistication about pop music. After this brief run, serious playdoctoring and more attention to music theatre fundamentals might result in a nice little show with popular appeal. The whole thing could be boiled down to a long one act piece, but it might be more fruitful to tighten up the main action while giving the ensemble more stories of their own. Luke Griffen of ACTC does a good job of getting his four principles and four ensemble players, each of whom has at least two roles, through the two acts with only a few overlong scene changes. Technical support is a bit rough amd ready but adequate.
     Those who want more new music theatre should plan to catch "Hollywood Insider" from Bisantz and Gilbane, the duo who musicalized "Romance 101" for the "Summer Shorts" at Turtle Lane last year. This 1/2 hour opus concerning the trials of "little" Tommy Pulsifer, child star, will be part of the Playwrights' Platform June 9 - 18 Festival at Boston Playwrights', playing June 16,17 &18. This year's summer new works program will be back at the Hovey in Waltham in July, 15 thru 23, featuring longer works and a film or two. Go to the appropriate websites for information; http://www.playwrightsplatform.org/festival.html OR http://www.hoveyplayers.com/shows/shorts05.html
"Duplex" by Peter Fernandez, May 27 - June 11
Alarm Clock Theatre in BCA Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Alarm Clock Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Unveiling & Audience" by Václav Havel
Date: Thur, May 26, 11:15 PM

     Perhaps if this short production had played downtown, the cogniscenti might notice more. Havel's two one acts, which focus on the semi-autobiographical character of Ferdinand Vanek, a hapless playwright in a repressive society, are probably more relevant in 2005 than these Absurdist gems were when MTP presented them in 1999. "Unveiling" shows Vanek, nicely underplayed by Jason Beals, visiting his two oldest friends, a couple whose lives have become completely focussed on their home and new baby, who now insist that he and his wife must do the same. Their material concerns, presented in classic Absurdist terms, make Lyralen Kaye and Sean Stanco totally blind to their friend's real problems. He's no longer employable as a writer, but is rolling barrels in a brewery.
     In "Audience", Vanek meets with his boozy foreman, who insists on pouring a continuous on-the-job tipple. Tom Moreira skillfully shows this disappointed low-level manager working up to the point of this meeting. After offering Vanek a better job as the warehouse manager, he sloshes around to the point. The foreman, well into his cups, offers the playwright the chance to fill out the weekly reports on the employees, including Vanek himself, which go to the authorities. Vanek indignantly refuses as the foreman, but in the coda, the audience must decide what's next for our hero. Havel was of course originally referring to the oppressive secret police in his homeland under the Soviet occupation, but anyone filled out a CORI form lately?? Does Homeland Security make you feel any safer?? The relevant quote on Bunker Hill Avenue might be, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." Note:The founding fathers didn't mean the government watching the people, but vice versa.
    MTP production values were neat and clean as usual, with slides used to present the material possessions of Vanek's friends while the actors simply sit facing the audience. The brewery was seen as backlit shadows on the screens used for the first play. Technical director Duncan McCulloch has done his job well as usual. Director Steve Rotolo lets the words and the situation carry the action, letting his actors find and develop characters, avoiding showy blocking and excess physicalization. This sort of honest theatrical effort is another good reason for finding a way to employ Chicago's Bailiwick model somewhere here in Boston. One or two shows a week, running in repertory spread over at least six weeks, would allow interesting productions a chance to find an audience.     And just as a reminder, Charlestown Working Theatre is at the bottom of Bunker Hill St close to the Somerville line. The building, an old firehouse complete with cupola is actually only a short walk from the Sullivan Sq. stop on the Orange line. Head towards the old Shrafft's building, cross the highway below the traffic circle, turn right and head uphill. Wait for the lights! There's a nice community garden with benches next door if you get there early. Drivers can find parking by turning left at the new firehouse before going uphill, reversing direction carefully a few blocks down, and finding a spot near the Stove Foundry building about two blocks from the theatre.
"Unveiling & Audience" by Václav Havel, May 12 - 28
Molasses Tank Productions at Charlestown Working Theatre
442 Bunker Hill St., Charlestown (617) 242-3285 Molasses Tank Productions

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Falsettos by William Finn
Date:Thurs, May 26, 9:01 AM
Quicktake on FALSETTOS

     While groundbreaking, Wm. Finn's "Falsettos"(1992), the condensation of three one act sung-through music dramas into two related acts, is more a harbinger of the future for one part of the American Musical Theatre than an enduring classic in its own right. Though many of the individual scenes are brilliant, the action is a bit anti-climactic and slightly bathetic. The evening feels more like a song cycle than a drama, which given the intensity of the emotions invoked, with individual actions complete in themselves, is no cause for complaint. A cast of Broadway regulars, plus young Jacob Brandt from Newton, fleshes out Finn and Lapine's somewhat sketchy characterizations and handles the musical complications with ease and clarity. Linda Muggleston, as wife and mother Trina, at the center of this family drama, gives the strongest performance of the evening, including the show stopping "I'm Breaking Down." Steve Routman, as her husband's psychiatrist who falls for Trina after the divorce provides a strong through-line, and has a few big moments of his own. Each cast member has their own chance to shine as well.
     David Korin's simple set with an adjustable background and a few pieces of white furniture keeps the focus on the small company; only five in Act I; two added in Act II. Donald Holder's lighting adds to the effect for an almost seamless show. The four piece ensemble in the pit, with music director Michael Friedman at the piano, does full justice to Finn's unpretentious score. The rest of the technical support is equally effective, keeping the effect of a simple family drama in the midst of a whirlwind of emotion. This show is easily the best production at the Huntington this season and perhaps last as well.
"Falsettos by William Finn, May 20 - June 26
Huntington Theatre Co. at BU Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Desire Under The Elms" by Eugene O'Neill
Date:Thur, May 19, 10:40 PM

     The ART's approach to Eugene O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms" is best summed up by the set. The elm trees of the title, which loomed over the original production in 1924 on Robert Edmund Jones's set based on O'Neill's sketches, are felled or dead and limbless. There's a rusting wreck of a pickup truck upstage left and a lot of real stones. The actors spend too much time moving these about. The raked stage is covered with dirt and gravel, so much that the female lead wears kneepads for the entire play. There's no hint of green anywhere on this "purty" farm. And while much of the author's language is there, O'Neill's attempt to find tragedy in the lives of his Yankee neighbors has been "Grotowskized" by Hungarian film and stage director Janos Szasz into a modern dress relative of Sam Shepard's "Curse of the Starving Class. "
     The original production was set in 1850's Vertmont, though it probably should have been placed on the colonial shore of Connecticut, where the Puritan tradition was more firmly embedded. The patriarch of the Cabot family, Ephraim, is played by Off-Broadway veteran Raymond Barry. He rises to the occasion, as did Walter Huston, whose serious New York career began with this part. His three sons are all capable A.R.T./MXAT students. Mickey Solis, who had the title role on "Olly's Prison", plays the youngest, Eben, whose conflict with his father is the core of the drama. The action revolves around 76 year old Ephraim's third wife, Abby Putnam, played somewhat shrilly by another New York actress, Amelia Campbell, whose shiny blue dress and modern accent --not to mention the kneepads above her fashionable boots--set her too far apart from the rest of the cast. The prototype for O'Neill's family dramas, most of which mirrored aspects of his own troubled life, is evident in this play, but this production, by physicalizing the action, reduces much of plot to blatant melodrama.
     That glaring interpretation is reinforced by another extreme Riccardo Hernandez set. The farmhouse, which O'Neill used to confine the action, is a flat construct floating over the gravelly acting area down center on the thrust. Its windows are illuminated to indicate the room where a scene is supposed to occur, courtesy of Christopher Akerlind. And at the end of about two hours non-stop, the language of the author is reduced to key lines repeated by the three central members of the cast. Ephraim proclaims upstage while he works on a stone wall, Eben down center builds a totemic stone marker over the grave of his smothered son, and Abby creates a miniature stone wall around herself to one side. The auteur director's symbols hold precedence over O'Neill's rough poetry. This voice became far more impressive in his later plays, but is deserving of better here, especially since he began at Harvard under George Pierce Baker's tutelage.
"Desire Under The Elms" by Eugene O'Neill, May 14 - June 12
American Repertory Theatre in Loeb Drama Cntr
64 Brattle, Harvard Sq. (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "An Evening with Havel" by Václav Havel
Date: Wed, May 18

     Since I won't be able to see Molasses Tank's revival of this program they did in 1998 until next week, this note is alert for a rare chance to see two interesting pieces by the only modern playwright to be elected President of his country. The company is doing ''Unveiling" and ''Audience," two one-acts connected by a typically Czech character. MTP's previous piece at the Charlestown Working Theatre, an underused venue, was a bill of Ionesco plays. By all reports, this effort is equally well-done and intellectually stimulating.
     The evening is directed by Steve Rotolo; the company consist of Jason Beals, Lyralen Kaye, Tony Moreira , and Sean Stanco. Conneiseurs of modern European playwrighting, the sort with an Absurdist tinge, will want to make their way over to the bottom of Bunker Hill St. The theatre, in the first block, is actually a short walk from the Sullivan Sq. stop on the Orange line. Head for the old Shrafft's building, walk under the highway, and head uphill. Wait for the lights! There's a nice community garden next to the old firehouse if you get there early.
"Unveiling" & "Audience" by Václav Havel, May 12 - 28
Molasses Tank Productions atCharlestown Working Theater
Bunker Hill St, Charlestown (???) ???-???? Company Website

Date: Tue, 17 May 2005 13:03:44 -0500
From: "Christian Potts" CPotts@fitzgerald.com
Subject: Quick-take review: "Guys & Dolls" @ Bay Colony Productions, Foxboro Orpheum

Hi Larry--
Just wanted to write you in hopes you can post this in the "Quick Takes" section…

I had the opportunity to see Bay Colony's "Guys & Dolls" on Saturday night (5/14) and I have to tell you that, hands-down, it was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, community or professional theatre. Bill Cunningham, Rob Goldman and Dori Bryant have assembled an all-star cast of actors from all over to stage the BEST version of "G&D" I have ever seen, and have provided them with a show that is worthy of any of the houses in the Theatre District.

I know from talking with the cast and the crew after the show that everyone is immensely proud of the show and are equally as awed at the level of talent of all players involved, both on- and back-stage. I feel like I've been in enough shows as an actor and crew member to know what a great show and cast looks like, and these guys are it, no question.

They have one weekend of shows left (May 20-22/ Fri & Sat shows @ 8 p.m. and a Sun matinee @ 3 p.m.), and I would encourage everyone who can to run to the Orpheum to see the show. It may be a 30-minute ride from Boston, but it is well worth it, believe me.

Thanks for the space--
Christian T. Potts

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Julius Caesar" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Sun, May 15, 10:06 AM
Quicktake on JULIUS CAESAR

     Historic Durrell Hall at Cambridge's Central Sq. YMCA has seen some interesting shows since its recent renovation. But none have been as complete and professional as the Actors' Shakespeare Project's ensemble production of "Julius Caesar". They've taken down the temporary thrust leaving the small original proscenium stage. Seating has been set in a wide arc under the edge of the horseshoe balcony, with the back rows raised sufficiently for better sightlines. The center of the hall becomes the main acting area, with platforms reaching up to the stage which is reserved mostly for the title character. The acoustics of the room are much improved by this arrangement.
     The director for ASP this time is Richard Scanlan, former MIT professor, past president of the Poet's Theatre, one time literary manager for the ART and its Institute, currently a member of the Harvard English Department. Brutus is ction "Measure for Measure". Benjamin Evett, the company's founder takes on Cassius. These two experienced players, who survived playing MacDuff and Banquo respectively for CSC on the Common, are the core of this ensemble production. The title role is taken by Greg Steres who played sickly Edw. IV in last fall's inaugural effort, "Rich. III" directed by Evett, while Calpurnia is done by Jennie Israel who was Lady M. on the Common. The pivotal role of Marc Antony is interestingly interpreted by IRNE winner Dorian Christian Baucum who trained with Shakespeare & Co. Marya Lowry, who appeared last fall as Buckingham and was the Chorus in "Henry V" on the Common plays Brutus' wife Portia. Lowry doubles as well a tribune in the opening scene and as a general in Acts IV and V. Israel also doubles as various roles, including Pindarus, the Greek slave who helps Cassius commit suicide. Bobbie Steinbach, who played the Queen Mother last fall, is the other tribune in the first scene then morphs into a slightly comic interpretation of old Casca, one of the conspirators. She also doubles in various smaller roles.
     Gus Kelley, who's been busy for Shakespeare Now!, is part of the crowd until he shows up as Octavius Caesar at the very end of the first half. The ensemble includes David Evett, back to do cameos as senators Cicero and Publius, the Triumvir Lepidus, and several soldiers in the end. Owen Doyle, with a slight resemblance to the Bard backchats with the tribunes in the opening, is ominous as the Soothsayer and Artemidorus, and has other named roles. Young Khalil Fleming, done playing Jack for the Wheelock Family Theatre, is Brutus' boy servant Lucius. Bill Barclay, Tony Berg, and Andrew Winson are conspirators, tradesman, soldiers, do various live sound effects, and help keep the show flowing up and down the aisles. The action is well-paced and energy is maintained. Incidentally, Scanlan's next project is directing Claire Bloom and John Neville in a staged reading of ''Venus and Adonis" at N.Y's famous 92d Street Y. His revival of the Roman Play here takes slightly over two hours. Shows begin at 7:30 evenings, Wed. through Sun. (no show May 18th) with a Sun. matinee at 3.
"Julius Caesar" by Wm. Shakespeare, May 12 - June 5
Actors' Shakespeare Project at Durrell Hall
Ca mb YMCA, 820 Mass. Ave. Ca mb, (866) 811 - 4111 (TheatreMania) Actors' Shakespeare Project

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Shakespeare in Hollywood" by Ken Ludwig
Date: Sun, May 8, 9:08 PM

     Ken Ludwig's "Shakespeare in Hollywood" was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Co. but never produced in England. That's unfortunate because the piece might be funnier if worked over by a few British comedians. The show was premiered in Washington DC at the Arena Stage, where its farcical too-ing and fro-ing seems to have worked quite well in the round. Farce is a delicate balance between premise, character and comic writing. This script doesn't quite develop its premise(s), may have too many characters based on Hollywood legends, and depends on out of context quotes from the Bard instead of jokes for much of its humor. Still, now that Culture Clash has folded their tent down at the BCA, it's the funniest show in town, even with Dick Van Patton's revival of "The Sunshine Boys" opening out at the Stoneham Theatre. Director Spiro Veloudous keeps the action humming along on Janie E. Howland's minimalist set and Gail Astrid Buckley of course gets the costumes just right.
    Lyric's first rate cast is very likable, with Christopher Chew revealing his Shakespearean side as Oberon and Ilyse Robbins joyfully cavorting as Puck. These two spirits have somehow wound up on the set of Max Reinhardt's 1935 Hollywood production of "A Midsummer Nights' Dream" Ken Baltin plays that famous regisseur, who's written as a likable Austiran emigre instead of the theatrical tyrant MR is reported to have been. Actor/director Peter Carey is everyone's nemisis as censor Will Hays and predictably hilarious, while Robert Saoud slips easily into lowbrow movie mogul Jack Warner. Caroline deLimavamps away as Jack's dumb blonde mistress Lydia Lansing, a talentless starlet who was actually cast in the film as Helena. Elizabeth Hayes plays her opposite, Olivia Darnell--read DeHavilland--whose simple charm attracts Oberon. Olivia however winds up with the films titular star, Dick Powell, played by Ben Lambert, whose major credits are Shakespearean. As Pyramus and Thisbe--aka Bottom and Flute--former vaudevillians Jimmy Cagney and Joe E. Brown are sketched with ease by Bob De Vivo, last seen in Metro's "Assassins" and David Kriniit from last season's "Noises Off". Gabriel Field, from BCM's Kidstage, is Warner's yes man Darryl, while sketch comedienne Margaret Ann Brady gets into Louella Parsons with relish and some great outfits. Most of the cast have appeared for the Lyric before; all seem to be having a great time doing farce. Unlike "Moon Over Buffalo", this Ludwig may move on the college productions--it's been on some regional stages--but is unlikely to make to Broadway. New Jersey or Connecticut are possible. Ludwig's biggest hit, the reworked musical "Crazy for You", is opening Reagle's season this summer in Waltham, though "Lend Me a Tenor" continues to be his signature farce. With a touch of screwball comedy, "Shakespeare in Hollywood" makes a pleasant enough two hours in Tinseltown.
"Shakespeare in Hollywood" by Ken Ludwig, May
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley Sq. YWCA
140 Clarendon St., Boston (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Looking for Normal" by Jane Anderson
Date: Sat, May 7, 9:48 AM

     In recent seasons, Waltham's Hovey Players have presented a number of contemporary plays exploring family dynamics. Jane Anderson's "Looking for Normal", directed by Hovey's president Michelle M. Aguillon, is their latest effort. This time the focus is gender identification across several generations of a midwestern farm family. A crisis is precipitated by the main character's desire, in his late forties, to undergo a sex change operation. John Tierney's portrayal of Roy Applewood, the father, is solid, but Kate Tonner, as his wife Irma, really shines as the center of the play. Daria da Silviera is Patty Ann, their daughter just becoming a woman, while Steve Travierso is their son, Wayne, off on his own as a rock'n'roll roadie. Both the youngster's parts are less substantially written, as are Grandpa Roy played by area theatre veteran Bill Doscher, and peripatetic community theatre actress Sandi McNeal as Grandma Em. The sprawling family saga was probably more digestible as the HBO movie it became in 2002, after its 2001 run in L.A. The single most interesting part is the shade of Roy Sr's mother Ruth, played by Renee Tyzbir. A free spirit, she escaped her new son and midwestern roots to run off to become a nurse in WWI, then stayed in Europe, abandoning her family. Ruth appears as commentary to the action, as do both children from time to time. The kids explain human sexual functions using diagrams and also detail moments in their lives. Believable jobs are also done by John Grenier-Ferris as Rev. Muncie, their family's pastor, and Jere Babst as Frank, Roy Jr.'s boss.
     This script, as well written as individual scenes are, gives the slight impression of having been assembled from a list of specific themes the author wished to include in her exploration of the conflict between what responsibilities people have to their children versus those to themselves. "Looking for Normal" probably should have been a novel. But Hovey does a good job of presenting the material, even when things become melodramatic. Director Aguillon has tried to achieve a dramatic arc for material which is essentially discursive, which makes the show interesting if not ultimately compelling. The play does suit the talents employed and just fits into Abbott theatre's basic set. It has more substance that many youth-oriented navel-gazing shows passing across stages these days. Incidentally, Hovey's winter success "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress", Alan Ball's wedding comedy about the bridesmaids, is being remounted for the EMACT competition, Sat. May 28 on the Babson College stage in Wellesley.
"Looking for Normal" by Jane Anderson, May 6 - 21
Hovey Players in Abbott Theatre
9 Spring St. Waltham, (781) 893 - 9171 Hovey Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Damn Yankees" by Abbott & Wallop, Adler & Ross
Date: Sun, May 1, 9:26 AM
Quicktake on DAMN YANKEES

     "Damn Yankees" is one of those '50s musicals created by the legendary Geo. Abbott. It clings to the Brill Building canon, with several songs aimed squarely at the Billboard charts. The show won eight Tony's; for Bob Fosse's innovative choreography, for Gwen Verdon's unique dancing, and for Ray Walston's wickedly comic portrayal of Mr. Applegate aka Old Nick, for its book, adapted from Wallop's popular novel, and for Adler & Ross' slick score & lyrics. It didn't have much competition however.
     No doubt the Turtle Lane company has fond memories of their earlier production, and this time round at least one of the casts is headed by Chuck Walsh as Joe Boyd, the middle-aged realtor who gets to by young Joe Hardy, played by Charlie Walsh, Chuck's son. Mrs. Boyd is played by his mother, Susan Walsh. Unfortunately, the show hasn't aged as well as the Walshes. The sentimental plot doesn't get leavened by the presence of Applegate and Lola, the witch he brings in to seduce young Joe, who's pining for his old girl. Walston and Vernon were originals; Eric Gordinas and Margo Pyne are talented, but hardly in the same league. The music is full of Tin Pan Alley clatter, and sometimes just hung on the story. "You Gotta Have Heart", "A LIttle Brains, A Little Talent", "Whatever Lola Wants", and "Two Lost Souls" are still memorable, but only the first really plays as part of the show. A fifth number, a mambo parody, "Who's Got the Pain" has mercifully been almost forgotten. The second dancer in the show, Gloria the intrepid girl sports reporter, played by Carla Van Meter who did Charity several seasons ago, gets "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo" in the middle of the first act, then has to get through the rest of the show helping to keep the plot, what there is of it, afloat.      The tempo of this production is a bit leisurely, which doesn't work for anything but the baseball players' choral numbers. Jeff Gardiner's sets and lights are acceptable, but don't have enough pizazz to pick things up. Similarly Robert Itczak's costumes vaguely recall the '50s, but only Applegate's approach the snazziness such weak material requires. Turtle Lane fans won't be disappointed, but director Elaina Vrattos needed to find something new to bring this warhorse back out of the barn to compete with current musical theatre.
"Damn Yankees" by Abbott & Wallop, Adler & Ross, Apr. 29 - June 5
Turtle Lane Playhouse
283 Melrose St. Auburndale MA, (617) 244 - 0169 Turtle Lane Playhouse

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Tooth and Claw" by Michael Hollinger
Date:Mon, May 2, 9:18 AM
Quicktake on TOOTH AND CLAW

     Villanova professor Michael Hollinger, whose plays get their start at the Arden Theatre Company in suburban Philadelphia, in the last year has gotten on hereabouts at the Vokes Theatre (Incorruptible, a medieval ecclesiastical farce) and at the Lyric Stage (Red Herring, a film noir parody). Now Zeitgeist's doing "Tooth & Claw", a docu-comedy about tensions between ecologists and the inhabitants of the Galopogos Islands. This is perhaps Hollinger's most thoughful work to date, combining fact and fiction, comedy and drama into a play which explores the conflict between the scientific world's desire to preserve the rare fauna of these remote islands for posterity and the immediate needs of local fisherman.
The scientific concerns of the play center around retired naturalist Malcolm Neary, played by Ed Peed with a touch of Attenborough, and young tortoise specialist "Doctora" Schuyler Baines, the daughter of an old friend of his, played by newcomer Lisa Morse. She's had extensive regional and NY experience and will be featured in Stoneham's June revival of Christie's "The Mousetrap." Peed was seen in Zeitgeist's "Bee Luther Hachee" by another Philadelphia playwright, and is a regular with the Wellesley Summer Theatre. Each of these scientists has their own worldview based on the traditions of Darwin and something more.
The staff of the research station where the action occurs is led by Dr. Carlos Zavata, played by Luis Negron who just finished "Living Out" at the Lyric and was seen last season in "Our Lady of 121st St." Nydia Calon has returned to Boston to play Ana Ortega, the staff secretary as has Juan Luis Acevedo. a Brandeis MFA has who plays Gonzalo Reyes, chief technician at the Darwin Research Station. The script mixes English and Spanish dialogue, including Schuyler's attempts to learn the language on the job. The chorus of fisherman includes Christopher Barnard, Diego Estevan Ribeiro, Alejandro Simoes, Amar Srivastava, and Xavier Torres. Torres also plays a park ranger while Ribeiro doubles as Mendoza, a local firebrand politician. The others play tour guides and locals.
While this script is a lot wider than it's deep and occasionally drifts toward melodrama,"Tooth and Claw" does offer a range of perspectives, from Dr. Seuss's "One Fish, Two Fish..." as a simple description of evolution to questions of parenthood and touches of classical poetry. The title after all comes from Tennyson's "In Memoriam". Director/designer David Miller has set the show's numerous scenes abstractly in the round, featuring a map of the islands painted by Jenna Howland on the floor and entrances ingeniously created on all four sides. Jeff Adelberg's effective lighting and costumes from Tracy Campbell, who recently evoked the '30s in the Dustbowl for TheatreZone's "Grapes of Wrath",add to the tropical setting. There's live music from the cast and good sound effects by Walter Eduardo. All in all, a solid presentation of an interesting drama with an earnest mix of sentiment and scientific concern.
"Tooth and Claw" by Michael Hollinger,Apr 29 - May 21
Zeitgeist Stage Company in Plaza Black Box
BCA, 539 Tremont (617) 933-8600 Zeitgeist Stage Co.

Date: Sun, 01 May 2005 14:37:37 -0500
From: Susan Daniels susandaniels@earthlink.com
Hi IRNE people,
Saw the new musical "You Never Know" at Trinity Rep in Providence last night, and it was wonderful. I sat with a smile on my face for 2 1/2 hours. It's there till 5/22. Go, go . . . and bring your friends.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine
Date: Sat, Apr 30, 12:18 AM
Quicktake on INTO THE WOODS

     The complex moral questions raised in this vintage Sondheim musical based on traditional fairy tales have been somewhat obscured by the number of juvenile productions the show had in the '90s. The New Rep's current production of "Into the Woods" is definitely not a kid's show. Featuring a cast of some of the best music theatre actors in the area, the evening first revolves around the story of Rapunzel, with IRNE winner Nancy E. Carroll as the Witch, complicated by the quest of fellow IRNE awardee, Leigh Barrett, as the Baker's Wife, and Evan Harrington as The Baker. They strive to lift her curse that's left them childless. At the same time, simpleton Jack, played by IRNE winner Miguel Cervantes, is sent by his mother, IRNE winner Kerry A. Dowling, to sell his cow, "Mily White." Meanwhile, Cinderella, played by Aimee Dougherty, seen last fall in Speakeasy's "Company" pines to go to the Festival, greedy Little Red Riding Hood played byBosCon vocalist Veronica J. Kuehn is filling her basket and herself at the bakery prior to heading for the woods, and veteran performer, Paul J, Farwell, is telling the stories, while also appearing as a Mysterious Stranger, who will turn out to be someone's father.
     Everyone sets of "into the woods". By a tree she planted, Cinderella magically receives a ball gown and golden slippers from her mother's spirit, sung by reliable Naomi Gurt Lind. The Baker and his wife search for "the cow as white as mild, the cloak as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slipper as pure as gold" which the Witch has demanded to lift the curse. Jack sells Milky White for five of the six beans the Baker has in the pocket of the coat he inherited from his long lost father. Little Red meets up with the Wolf, played by Todd Alan Johnson in his third New Rep show, and after her inevitable ingestion is rescued by the Baker who eviscerates the Wolf, releasing her Granny doubled by Lind as well. Journeying to the tower in the woods, the Witch visits Rapunzel, sung by NEC grad Hayley Thompson-King, and doesn't notice tenor Andrew Giordano, her princely suitor, lurking nearby. Just before the first of three midnights, Cinderella in her new clothes races home through the woods pursued by Prince Charming, doubled by versatile Johnson. And we're only halfway through the first act. The second act concentrates on the consequences of the resolution of these various tales, particularly the death of the Giant.
    While there are two dozen numbers in the program, "Into the Woods" is actually a complicated set of recurring motifs and reprises, with only a few unrepeated songs, all woven into a lush musical tapestry. A crack ensemble, prepared by Todd C. Gordon, who was unable to conduct the opening, was deftly handled by associate music director, Steven Bergman at the main keyboard, with Timothy Evans or Josh Finstein taking his place on the second. The various locales for the intertwined stories were ingeniously achieved by Peter Colao on the New Rep's intimate stage by three storybooks which open to reveal various pop-up settings, plus some sliding profile trees and a woodland scrim. IRNE winner Franklin Meissner Jr. does his usual lighting magic under limiting conditions, and Nancy Leary from the B.U.Theatre Department provides detailed fairy tale garb for the sixteen member ensemble. The New Rep's production of this complex music drama is a fitting climax to their tenure in Newton Highlands, and perhaps a promise of things to come next season at their new home at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. They open with "Romeo and Juliet" in September, and close with "Ragtime" in May 2006. "Bon voyage"
"Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine, Apr. 27 - May 29
New Repertory Theatre
54 Lincoln St, Newton Highlands, (617) 332 - 1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Thoroughly Modern Millie" by Richard Morris, Dick Scanlan, & Jeanine Tesori
Date:Thurs, Apr 28,11:52 PM

     For all it's mindlessness, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" , which began as a Julie Andrews film written by Richard Morris parodying the movie musicals of the '30s, is firmly grounded in the traditions of the American musical theatre. North Shore's arena adaptation of this Broadway hit is predictably better than most road company versions of such shows, even if the quick change costumes, courtesy of Kansas City Costume Co., are definitely touring models. Jeanine Tesori's music, as in Footlight's recent production of "Violet", reveals her mastery of yet another part of the American songbook. Scanlan's lyrics are predictable but entirely suitable to the Roaring Twenties style.
     Barry Ivan, an old NSMT hand gets the choreography and stage direction just right most of the time, though the window ledge scene could work better if the setting were reconceived for this important number. Energetic Milena Govich in the title role, and tenor Ryan Silverman as her true love Jimmy are definitely bright young things, while local favorites, Beth McVey as the villain Mrs, Meers and Becky Barta as Miss Flanagan, the office manager, make the most of their comic roles. The most successful parody however is when Amanda Serkasevich, seen as Guido's "Muse" in NSMT's "Nine" and Richard Roland, as Miss Dorothy and Trevor, Millie's boss, burst into a Victor Herbert number to indicate love at first sight. This is a show that celebrates the inane pleasures of musical comedy, where the plot doesn't really have to make sense as long as the lead couple winds up together and musical numbers make up for shortcomings in the dialogue, less than plausible portions of the story line, or potentially embarrassing stereotypes. It would be hard to rewrite to inject any sort of significance into these goings on, which are also suitable for all ages, but not the cynical.

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" by Richard Morris, Dick Scanlan, & Jeanine Tesori, Apr. 26 - May 15
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverley MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 21:09:53 +0000
From: "Carl Rossi" carossi54@hotmail.com
Subject: My review of MY PRICE POINT (Theatre Offensive, Boston, MA)
If you are a thirtysomething, Mike Albo’s performance-piece MY PRICE POINT may well have you in stitches; others may find Mr. Albo’s take on pop culture, materialism and trendsetting to be little more than safe, predictable cattiness (what is fresh to the young is stale to their elders) --- if Mr. Albo means to satirize America’s trashiness, he ends up celebrating it, instead. MY PRICE POINT dissolves instantly on contact --- as with last season’s LAST SUNDAY IN JUNE, I cannot quote a single line for you --- and what remains is Mr. Albo himself, good-looking in a scruffy sort of way, and hyper as a child craving attention and doing everything he can to get it; Jeremy Chernick’s setting, which consists of numerous pairs of footwear attached to strands of red yarn stretching up into the flies, is as arresting as Mr. Albo’s humor is arrested.
"My Price Point" (7-30 April)
BCA Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 933-8600

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Violet", book & lyrics Brian Crawley, music Jeanine Tesori
Date:Sun, Apr10, 9:34 PM
Quicktake on VIOLET

     Those who missed Speakeasy's darker production of this unique piece with music by Jeanine Tesori, who did "Caroline" with Tony Kuschner, have one last weekend to make it over to the Footlight Club. IRNE winner Bill Doscher's at the wheel of this bus trip through the South in the early '60's. "Violet" is based on Doris Bett's Southern Gothic tale, "The Ugliest Pilgrim", which finds the heroine, played by Kristin Shoop, journeying from rural North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to see a television evangelist. Violet was scarred by an accident with an ax as a child, a condition the audience has to imagine. Talene Monahan plays her as a youngster from 10 to 14; Ian Flynn is the TV preacher. Steven Littlehale, who played Tateh in last season's "Ragtime" is Violet's father, seen in flashbacks. The show incidentally was the first Off-Broadway musical to win the Drama Critics Circle Award(1998) in NY.
     On her quest for physical salvation, Violet meets two soldiers, Flick a black career sergeant, played by Samuel Martinborough, and Monty, a green corporal played by Jason Beals. A complicated relationship ensues as the trio journeys together, played out in song. Musically, the show is an interesting blend of period pop, country, and gospel, well handled by Markus Hauck and his ensemble, with Dee Crawford at the head of the choir. The setting by Catherine Helmansky et al. involves a bit too much shifting of furniture but is generally effective, with photographic scenography on rotating back elements. Historic Eliot Hall presents minor acoustic problems which might be compensated for by some discrete area miking and suppressing the drumkit. The cast of 19 puts on a moving and poignant show, however, which gets into the soul of the period.
"Violet", book & lyrics Brian Crawley, music Jeanine Tesori , Apr. 1 - 16
Footlight Club in Eliot Hall
7A Eliot, Jamaica Plain, (617) 524 - 6506 Footlight Club

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Beanstalk, the Giant and Jack" by Anthony Hancock & Susan Kosoff
Date: Sat, Apr 9, 8:18 PM

     The Wheelock Family Theatre's offering for their younger audience this spring is a revival of a rather PC slapstick fable "The Beanstalk, the Giant and Jack" written a while back by two of WST's founders, with music by Jane Staub, which she plays live. It's in a typical children's theatre mode with less drawbacks than usual. While they'd like to be inspired by the traditions of the commedia, this show seems closer to that tradition as filtered through the British Panto--without the Dame, and the hero is played by a real kid, Khalil Flemming. The Beanstalk is topped by a dancer, the Cow has two actors inside in classic style, the Giant is a baby who throws tantrums, and veteran Boston actor John Davin gets to play Baby Willy. Davin's also the traveling "wizard" who cons Master Jack and his Uncle Bill, played by Bill Mootos, into buying the beans. For added action, Sir Lancelot and Lady Elaine are riding about the countryside. The same two actors, Grace Napier and Dan Boulton, also play two commedia lovers running away from Pantaloon, her father, played by Matt Lazure and the Magic Harp and its Harpist. It's silly enough for early grades, though some toddlers might get confused by the doubling. There could be more edge for older kids and adults, without changing the basic script.
     This isn't "barebones" kids theatre, of course, with veteran director James P. Bryne at the helm and designing the set, and John. R. Malinowski doing the lighting, which of course includes the aisles. Bright costumes by Marian Piro, masks by Janet Meyers except for the Giant Heads which were created by the late Tony Hancock, and sound effects either live by Jane and her cohort or from Andy Aldous' sound design round out the show, which includes several original songs choreographed hither thither and yon by Laurel Stachowicz. And there's no product placement as can be found in the over-priced traveling shows that zip into downtown. Even the refreshments are reasonable.
"The Beanstalk, the Giant and Jack" by Anthony Hancock & Susan Kosoff, Apr. 8 - May 8
Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway Boston, (617) 879 - 2300 Wheelock Family Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Olly's Prison" by Edward Bond
Date: Wed, Apr 6, 11:29 PM
Quicktake on OLLY'S PRISON

     Edward Bond's 1993 teleplay "Olly's Prison" translates into about three hours of mostly monologues, with intermission. Part one is not quite two hours long. The first half hour or so is brilliant British Absurd, dynamically played by Bill Camp as Mike the central character. Most of the play's point about workingclass despair is effectively made in this "talking heads" type scene. Little else in the script comes up to it, though Karen McDonald's anguish as Ellen, the mother of a boy who hanged himself, played practically as monologue, comes close. Angela Reed as Vera, who pursues Mike throughout the play is effective, but as a woman who's constantly commenting on herself doesn't get much further into the role. Thomas Derrah has a nice turn as a nicotine fiend who, for a change, may just be the sanest character in the show. Olly played by Mickey Solis doesn't show up until the middle of the second part and barely survives the ending. David Wilson Barnes plays Frank, the villain of the piece as written, which is to say opaquely.
    Like "Gagarin Way" which Sugan is presenting down at the BCA, this show is not for the faint-hearted. And since it's not anywhere as funny and about an hour longer, it's not for the easily bored either. Perhaps British audiences can still revel in workingclass angst, especially those who still believe in socialism. Bond seems to have turned from an angry young man with an ear for poetry to a sour old sod with little belief in character development. Fortunately, this experienced cast supplies enough to bring their roles to life. For someone interested in social change, the nihilism Bond presents here makes anything short of bloody revolution seem unlikely, especially since his plot seems to have been inspired by Buchner, informed by Ionesco, and infiltrated by Pinter. Only a few Beckett-like moments provide any clarity for these poor souls trying to communicate with themselves by endlessly talking.
"Olly's Prison" by Edward Bond, Apr. 1 - 24
A.R.T at Zero Arrow
Mass. Ave & Arrow St. Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Gagarin Way" by Gregory Burke
Date: Sat, Apr 2, 11:30 PM
Quicktake on GAGARIN WAY

     The Sugan Theatre Company has played out moments of violence embedded in modern Celtic drama on the Boston stage before. They've also displayed humor and a love of language, while exploring powerful social ideas. The collision of all three is the basis of Scotsman Gregory Burke's humorous and appalling "Gagarin Way". This award-winning play which started at the Edinburgh Fringe is in the Edward Bond tradition, with just a touch on Monty Python in the ineptness of its characters
    Sugan veteran Ciaran Crawford is compelling as Eddie, a loose cannon with an interesting take on Sarte and Genet and crime. Comedian Rick Park is a looming presence as Gary, a radical worker with anarchist tendencies, and relatives who run drugs. Rodney Rafferty, seen last as a Xmas elf at TheatreZone, is their comic foil as a hapless University educated security guard, caught up in their violent political action. Newcomer Dafydd Rees is the salaryman from Surrey, whose kidnapping is the center of the action. Stooge-like farce degenerates into ultra-violence as Burke mixes modern philosophy, political theory, and obscene slang to suggest the deterioration of all four lives. Not a show for the faint-hearted or the lazy listener, but another serious addition to the spectrum of Sugan's firsts in Boston. It also marks the return of Brendan Hughes from his MFA sojourn to Yale with rigorous direction on a realistic set by fellow Yalie Sandra Goldmark. The clock even works.
"Gagarin Way" by Gregory Burke , Apr. 1 - 23
Sugan Theatre Co. in Roberts Studio
BCA Calderwood, 527 Tremont - (617) 933 - 8600 Sugan Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Den of Thieves" by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Date: Fri, Apr 1, 10:59 PM
Quicktake on DEN OF THIEVES

     One of Guirgis' earlier works for the LABrynth Theatre (1996) of which he's a member, this script has all the hallmarks of his more recent efforts, such as "Jesus Hopped the A Train", which got Company One a Norton last year or "Our Lady of 121st St.", for which Vincent E, Siders got a Supporting Actor nod from the IRNEs for his Speakeasy appearance. Quirky characters face unlikely moral questions in odd situations somewhere deep in the city. There are only ambiguous solutions to insoluble problems.
     This time however the plot is more complicated and the roles more stereotyped, with quirks piled upon quirks. There's a cartoon-like quality to the whole affair. Company One's cast, while each sufficient in their own efforts, doesn't seem to be all in the same strip. Nicole Parker as Maggie, the heroine, has the additional problem of playing a depressed kleptomaniac while Mason Sand as her ex-boyfriend Flaco is a hyper coke-head. The two never really get a chance to connect. Keith Mascoll as Paul, who's addicted to recovery programs for all his addictions, has too much on his plate to find a center or Maggie. And Molly Kimmerling is Flaco's current girlfriend, Boochie, a stripper who's completely into her own caricature. These roles seem to have been created as specific acting problems, then pasted into a farcical thriller involving three equally improbable mobsters. Tony Berg is Sal, a stone killer who cooks. James Milord is Little Tuna, the confused son of the Big Tuna, Kenneth McFadden, who shows up as in a classic farce at the end.
     The results are sporadically entertaining, but the characters and their situations are less believable than average TV fare. The high point of the production is sound designer Mike Feld's live percussion solos on junk instruments used to cover the scene change in the middle of this 90 minute comedy. Company One works hard to find a center for the conflicts dumped into this script, but there's no through line of action. Guirgis' latest, a joint production of LABrynth and the NY Public Theatre, "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" is currently running in NY. "Den of Thieves" will probably show up as a HRST project in the next few years.
"Den of Thieves" by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Mar 31 - Apr. 23
Company One in Plaza Black Box
BCA, 539 Tremont St., (617) 933 - 8600 Company One

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Assassins" by Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman
Date:Wed. Mar 30, 11:32 PM
Quicktake on ASSASSINS (Press Preview)

     If you missed this Sondheim show a few seasons ago at the Lyric, and didn't spend a fortune to see the Tony-winning revival in NY, here's a chance to catch a solid 90 minute performance of "Assassins" by local musical theatre folk. Janet Neely directs this musical fantasy, which features BosCon grad Robert Case as actor John Wilkes Booth, Turtle Lane's James Tallach as immigrant Leon Czolgosz, and regional player Bob DeVivo as Charles Giteau the disappointed office seeker. If your history's a little rusty, check the program notes. Case is also responsible for a well-conceived if not quite polished set. Michael Kreutz does justice to Sondheim's quirky score conducting a six piece ensemble from the keyboard.
     Historical Durrell Hall on the Cambridge YMCA's second floor makes an interesting venue for this alarmingly funny look at the American president as a target. The cast also includes Corey Jackson as dispeptic Guiseppe Zangara who shot at F.D.R. and Chris Moleski as schizophrenic Samuel Byck who planned to crash into the Nixon White House. Erin Tchoukeff and Jaclyn Campbell are Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, Charles Manson's two followers who shot at Gerald Ford.. John Dupuis is a sad-sack John Hinckley who almost got Reagan. In the sombre conclusion David Janett ends the show as Lee Harvey Oswald. The two structural characters, the Proprietor of the shooting gallery, played by Ari Vigoda who recently played Einstein in "Picasso" at the Lapin Agile" and the Balladeer, done by David Sharrocks, are well cast. The ensemble includes Deb Poppel, who has a brief cameo as Emma Goldman, plus Kristen Huberdeau, Will Morningstar, and Natasha Warloe. If nothing else, this show is a reminder of just how gun-crazy American society has been.
"Assassins" by Stephen Sondheim & John Weidman,Apr. 1 - 9
Metro Stage Co. at Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA
820 Mass. Ave. Central Sq., (617) 524 - 5013 Metro Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ?Living Out" by Lisa Loomer
Date: Sun, Mar 27, 6:34 PM
Quicktake on LIVING OUT

Too few contemporary plays concern themselves with the consequences of every-day decisions that well-intentioned people make. The only villain in Lisa Loomer's "Living Out", commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum in L.A., performed there a year ago, is the economic situation that bedevils the complicated intertwined lives of professional couples and the immigrant women they hire to care for their children. Since "Living Out" is set in L.A., these nannies are mostly Latino, usually illegal, and underpaid under the table. Often mothers themselves, they must put the needs, desires, and preferences of their employers ahead of their own families. Mariela Lopez-Ponce plays Ana Hernandez, a refugee from El Salvador who's joined her husband Bobby, played by Luis Negron, in L.A. Their youngest son lives with them; the older was left behind with his grandmother. She decides that she must lie about having a child of her own to raise in order to get a job tending Nancy Robin's newborn. Rachel Harker shows her usual finesse playing this ambitious young mother, conflicted between her promising entertainment law career and her child. Dale Place does a fine job as her happy-go-lucky lawyer husband, a dedicated--and therefore underpaid--public defender. The lives of these two couples intertwine literally onstage as the action under Lois Roach's skilled direction flows across Brynna Bloomfield's unit set. The scene triples as the Robin?s new "fixer-upper" home in Santa Monica, the Hernandez apartment on the edge of the barrio, and a nearby park where the nannies congregate with the charges in strollers.
The rest of the cast, Jen Alison Lewis and Lisa Tucker as two mothers Ana seeks work from first, plus Nelida Torres-Colon and Elaine D. Theodore as the women they hired instead, round out the play and provide comic relief when needed. The play is fraught with drama as Ana's life unfolds, and a handkerechief or two may be called for by the end. Jane Hillier-Walkowiak's costumes are realistic with nice touches. Eleanor Moore's lighting is fluid enough to follow the action. Dewey Dellay provides a soundscape with appropriate baby sounds, atmospherics, and music. The only thing missing is the jets which add to the uproar almost anywhere in the L.A. While the play is set there, working couples across the country in any city with a population of recent immigrants will relate. Basically, this is a play about something worth thinking about.
"Living Out" by Lisa Loomer, Mar. 25 - April 23
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley Sq. YWCA
140 Clarendon St. , Boston (617) 437 - 7172
Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Culture Clash in AmeriCCa" by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza
Date: Wed, Mar 23, 11:08 AM

     After twenty years creating shows across the country starting in their native California, the trio of Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza, aka Culture Clash, has finally made it to Boston. They should be invited back yearly. Combining the instincts of sacred clowns, the acumen of Dario Fo, and the worldview of Chicanos from the Left Coast, CC parades a rainbow of extraordinary Americans across the stage. The show opens in Washington DC with a cab driver in white and ricochets around the country from Frisco and L.A. to NY to Miami, bringing Americans of all colors, genders, and religions to life. The troupe created new material for about half the show during a trip to Boston earlier this year, using interviews and observation with an eye towards everyday truths and absurdity. Beantown has plenty. The only one not in the show yet is the Big Dig.
     As they say,"Culture Clash in Americca" run started before St. Patrick's Day and goes through Cinqo de Mayo, so there should be some tickets sometime. CC is alternately though-provoking, moving, but mostly hilarious. Be there or be square.
"Culture Clash in AmeriCCa" by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza by,Mar. 18 - May 8
presented by Huntington Theatre Co. at Wimberly Thtr, Calderwood Pavilion,
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "39 Views" by Naomi Iizuka
Date: Thurs, March 17, 12:15 AM
Quicktake on 39 VIEWS

     Naomi Iizuka's "36 Views" is billed as an éexpos of the international art and antique scene but it's really a well-done character-driven drama with an exotic premise and a unique structure. In fact, paying too much attention to questions of truth and beauty which decorate the action may result in missing some of the plot, which involves good old fashioned payback. Not that it's all that significant, because interesting characters and strong portrayals are the primary reason for seeing the Huntington's current elegant production, even without a really satisfying ending.
     V Craig Heidenreich seems born to play the charming and unscrupulous oriental art dealer, Darius Wheeler, from the first words of his opening monologue while Christina Toy Johnson is being unburdened from layer after layer of kimino upstage behind one of the handsome transparent sliding screens in Adam Stockhausen's efficient and handsome set. Johnson, seen at the Huntington in "Sisters Matsumoto", plays Sersuko Hearn, a young Japanese art expert who fall briefly for Wheeler. One wonders if the outcome of the play has some personal significance for the author. However, Jane Cho, who plays Claire Tsong, an art restorer with a secret employed by Wheeler, is the pivotal character of the piece, responsible for more than one plot twist. Cho was seen at the Huntington in "Journey to the West". All three keep the show interesting even through a few daytime TV moments.
     Only occasionally is the play swamped by all the first-rate production accouterments, including three kurogo in traditional Kabuki stagehand garb complete with hoods. Some set changes seem to be merely for effect as in the climax. So does the use of the wooden clapper to emphasize dramatic moments. The difference between this Western interpretation and the traditional Japanese stage is that the musicians are visible and integral to the action. When the bamboo flute plays to heighten the drama, the musician is accompanying the performer. It would be interesting to take this script a step further and perform"39 Views" using the Kabuki runways into the audience as well. The action currently sometimes get lost in Stockhausen's spacious decor on the Huntington's proscenium stage.
"39 Views" by Naomi Iizuka, March 11 - April 10
Huntington Theatre Co. at BU Theatre
264 Huntington Ave. (617) 266 - 0800 HTC

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Jack Neary
Date: Sat, Mar. 12, 2005 11:00 AM

     Prolific Massachusetts playwright Jack Neary has histake on Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher", first done in 2000 at Mt. Holyoke's Summer Theatre, running this month in Waltham down in the Hovey Players basement theatre next to the Library. Reconceived as a 1930's noir thriller, Poe's anonymous narrator has become a successful pulp mystery writer, played by Eric Houghton, returning to Boston to visit his childhood friends, the Usher twins. After the conflagration which consumed their ancient estate, the author's being interrogated by a Boston cop played by Ted Batch.The detective's also questioning the Usher's sole remaining servant, Fiona, played by Tracy Nygard, who supplies interesting "suppositions" concerning the household. The central character, sickly Roderick Usher, is done by Timothy Dargon, while Christine Ellen Frydenburg is his sister Madeline, who has quite a bit to say this time. The unnatural relationship between these two siblings is still central here, but the Victorian fascination with entombing the living, Poe's central metaphor, becomes more Freudian and incestuous in the complicated plot Neary's devised.
     Hovey, as usual, does a thorough jobfor this production, given their theatre's limitations. Director John MacKenzie uses the space effectively, particularly in situations where the playwright has characters move directly from the decaying Usher mansion to the police station and back again. Michelle Boll has supplied a well-finished set which IRNE winner MacKenzie lights as well as possible. The young ensemble performs smartly, though most are a bit young for their parts. The show would benefit from some gravitas and a stronger sense of the fantastic. As one of the inventors of the detective thriller, Poe might be amused by what's been made of his Hawthornean mood piece. Neary's script is about to be published by Baker's. It will be interesting to see what other groups in different venues do with it. Hovey would well to find additional performance space for such future efforts, though earlier in the season, "Scotland Road" and "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress", did well enough in this cramped space.
"The Fall of the House of Usher" by Jack Neary, Mar. 11 -26
Hovey Players at Abbott Theatre
9 Spring St. Waltham, MA (781) 893 - 9171 Hovey Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Dido, Queen of Carthage" by Christopher Marlowe
Date: Wed, March 9, 11:02 PM
Quicktake on DIDO, QUEEN OF CARTHAGE (1585)

     Neil Bartlett, the British director of the ART's latest reimagined classic, Christopher Marlowe's first official play, "Dido, Queen of Carthage", possibly doctored by Thomas Nashe, suggests that it comes from an imagination where "desire, danger, eroticism, vulgarity and transgression are always inexplicably linked." Unfortunately, Bartlett's realization of this vision onstage at the Loeb offers very little that regular attendees haven't seen other auteur directors try. The high points of the text receive due attention, and Marlowe's invented climax, which has Karen McDonald as Anna, Dido's sister, commit suicide after the equally estimable Gregory Simmons as Iarbus, her kingly suitor has killed himself, is surprisingly effective. But a little more thought could have gotten the bodies offstage before the start of the curtain call. Returning to the ART from Straford, Canada, Diana D'Aquila carries off the title character with aplomb, regal all the way. Colin Lane's Aeneas is a bit of a cypher but handles Marlowe's "mighty line" with skill.
     On the negative side, Remo Airaldi and Thomas Derrah in drag give overly entertaining performances as Dido's Nurse and Juno, Queen of the Gods. Whatever point these characters might have made is dissipated, though Derrah's movie star impersonation is a hoot, however irrelevant. Saundra McLain's Venus makes the goddess a streetwise black beauty, whose attitudes don't always jibe with the author's intent. The star of the show is Venus' son Cupid, played by John Kelly, "the New York performance artist, singer, dancer, and drag queen", functioning as something of a stage manager to the action. His almost constant and quite striking presence, standing in for the author and the director, makes the somewhat arbitrary narrative derived from the first third of Vergil's "Aeneid" more acceptable. Indeed this production would be more consistent if there was a physical presence of the rest of the gods throughout, even if these deities were silent. This would at least give Will LeBow as Jupiter something more to do after the first scene, and possibly make Juno's scheming plausible, especially if Sam Chase's hunky Hermes had more than two brief appearances.      It's not likely that this classic will be done again by so vocally competent a company hereabouts any time soon. Rae Smith's design concepts, modern dress with classical trimming and lots of negative space, are effective though hardly surprising, but Laura Jeppesen's consort of viols playing music adapted from the period is a real bonus. Caveat emptor and the show runs over two hours with no intermission, even though the production plan has an obvious break after Act III.
"Dido, Queen of Carthage" by Christopher Marlowe, Mar. 5 - 26
American Repertory Theatre on Loeb Mainstage
64 Brattle, Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 American Repertory Theatre


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Anna in the Tropics" by Nilo Cruz
Date: Sun, Mar 6, 8:49 PM

     Pulitzer Prize winning plays are often character-driven with more attention to language than to storyline. Nilo Cruz's "Anna in the Tropics" balances these elements better than most, then adds Tolstoy's monumental romance "Anna Karenina" to the mix. His tale of Cuban cigar makers in 1920's Florida doesn't completely parallel the novel. Speakeasy has brought back ART Institute directing grad Daniel Jaques and gotten a sterling cast capable of making Cruz's words sing. Melinda Lopez is Conchita, the factory owner's older daughter whose husband Palomo, played by Diego Arciniegas, has been unfaithful. Her mother, Ofelia, is Bobbie Steinbach; her father Santiago, Dick Santos. Robert Saoud plays her uncle. Cheche, who's a potential problem. BosCon grad Angela Sperazza is her bright eyed younger sister. The catalyst for the action, the new lector, Juan Julian, brought in to read to the cigar makers while they work, is played by Liam Torres, a New York actor whose credits include his one man show "Spanish White Person".
    Jaques, director of INTAR New Works Lab in NYC, moves the show along briskly, getting solid performances from the ensemble, which adopts Cruz's cadences without much of an accent. They are after all actually supposed to be speaking Spanish. Susan Zeeman Rogers has created a wide frieze set allowing the action to flow naturally. Amanda Mujica's costumes catch the period and J. Hagenbuckle has assembled authentic music to move from scene to scene. As usual Speakeasy gives the show a first class production, retaining the intimacy of previous profuctions next door in the BCA Plaza, while taking advantage of tighter focus which the more spacious Roberts Studio allows. The audience needs to be drawn into this show, which may explain its short run in a big Broadway house last season.
"Anna in the Tropics" by Nilo Cruz, Mar.4 - 26
Speakeasy Stage in Roberts Studio, Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Speakeasy Stage

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Fortinbras" by Lee Blessing
Date: Sat, March 5,12:43 PM
Quicktake on FORTINBRAS

     The work of prolific playwright, Lee Blessing, best known for his Pulitzer nominated "A Walk in the Woods", hasn't been seen much in these parts recently. He's currently professor of playwrighting at Rutgers, and "Fortinbras", his 1992 commission for the Mark Taper's graduate program shows up quite regularly on campuses across the country. A dark farce written just after the start the first Gulf War, the production out at the Vokes Theatre concentrates on the play's comic virtues with a fine ensemble cast who've played with various groups around the area. Bill Stambaugh plays the title role as a modern everyman with John Joyce as his overeager aide-de-camp. The rest of the cast, who are mostly ghosts, have fun with the campier aspects of their parts; Melissa Sine as Ophelia in leather, Vokes veteran Robert Zawistowski as a speechless Polonius, peripetatic Gordon Ellis as a baby-faced Hamlet appearing first of a TV screen. Projected 3D CGI scenery created by Dean O'Donnell almost becomes the star of the show. David Hansen's Horatio and Chris Wagner's Osric, who spend most of the show among the living, provide most of the commentary on the action. The author has a bit of fun with the idea of the soliloquy as well. It's an entertaining enough piece to wish Blessing would revisit the script given what's happened since and make the comedy even more relevant. The old mole himself could even show up.
    For those who've not yet discoverd the Vokes Theatre, this historical gem is right on US #20 in Wayland, a short drive off RT #128 west of Waltham. There's plenty of well-plowed parking for this jewel box theatre. Reservations are more or less mandatory as most nights sell out.
"Fortinbras" by Lee Blessing, Mar. 3 - 19
Vokes Players at Beatrice Hereford's Vokes Theatre
US #20 Wayland MA, (508) 358-4034 Vokes Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Homebody/Kabul" by Tony Kushner
Date: Sun. Feb. 27, 6:50 pm

The current version of Tony Kushner’s rumination on Afghanistan, set in 1998 and first written pre9/11, runs just under 3 hours with intermissions. The author has tightened up several sequences, and reduced the cast slightly from its 2002 run at Trinity. BTW artistic director Jason Southerland has staged the show briskly on a set by Zeynep Bakkal from Northeastern which has Nancy Carroll’s Homebody sitting in a small raised kitchen between the two pillars upstage. The rest of the show takes place using bits of furniture and props out on the floor of the thrust, which is partially covered by a textured groundsheet. Carroll is engaging but appropriately detached during the opening, so that Helen McElvain as her daughter Priscilla, around whom the reaction revolves, seems believably rejected and clinging to her absent mother.
Bill Molnar gives a sufficiently complex performance as her communication engineer father, Milton. Both are seduced in different ways by Nathaniel McIntyre’s drug-using expat Chango Twistleton. PBS fans of Wodehouse will get the joke there faster. Michele Dowd is imposing as Mahala (which means woman and implies tenderness), an upper-class Afghani who used to be a librarian. John Sarrouf truly looks and sounds the part of multilingual Afghani guide as he plays a central role in Pricilla’s discovery of what might have happened to her mother in Kabul. Sujoy De, Paul Giragos, and Amar Srivastava all handle their lines in several Afghan languages with aplomb, and act their parts with conviction.Nancy Lynn Leary’s costumes, with Amy Wright’s assistance help make it all believable. BTW has once again demonstrated their ability to turn out a first class productions using local talent and energy. The work Kushner has done on the script has reduced the amount of indulgent language and made the storyline a bit clearer, even if it still has a slight Arabian Nights flavor, and no real conclusion. And at the current political juncture it still seems prescient and not a little frightening.

"Homebody/Kabul" by Tony Kushner, Feb 24 - Mar 19
Boston Theatre Works at BCA Plaza Theatre
527 Tremont, (617) 933-8600 Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Topdog/Underdog" by Suzan-Lori Parks
Date: Sat, Feb 27, 8:33 PM

    Whichever of the two version of Topdog/Underdog you get to see at the New Rep (there’s a reduced price if you see both) you’ll get a compelling reading of Parks’ Pulitzer Prize winning text, tightly directed by Kent Gash from the Alliance. Both actors, Kes Khemnu or Joe Wilson Jr. excel in either role, though Wilson’s performances are more memorable. Khemnu’s will grow on you however. Eugene Lee’s set is a powerful metaphor introduced into the play, and it helps. Even if you caught the show in Providence, the intimacy of the New Rep makes it less easy to sit back from the action, though it may get you thinking about certain unanswered dramatic questions ibefore the action implodes in the final Cain and Abel moment.

"Topdog/Underdog" by Suzan-Lori Parks, Feb. 23 - Mar. 27
Alliance Theatre, Atlanta & Trinity Rep at New Repertory Theatre
64 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands (617) 332 - 1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Red Herring" by Michael Hollinger
Date: Sun, Feb 20, 10:52 PM
Quicktake on RED HERRING

     Lyric's current production of Michael Hollinger's parody "Red Herring", a hard-boiled thriller set in 1950's Boston is a comedy which would do better in summer stock. Joe McCarthy is conducting hearings in Washington, an unlikely spy is preparing to pass H-Bombs secrets to the Russian's, and Boston's only female police detective, Maggie Pelletier, played by Sara Newhouse with an accent honed in "Sweepers" last year in Stoneham , is having an affair with Barlow Adamson, playing Frank Keller, a G-Man after atomic spies. Newhouse is the only member of the cast who doesn't play more than one character. The prize goes to veteran Boston actor Richard Snee who plays the body discovered in scene two, Adamson's partner, Andrei the Russian fisherman, an atomic scientist, and a hen-pecked husband. The pace of the show would be a lot snappier if scene changes were as fast as his costume and character switches.
     The rest of this experienced cast is almost as versatile, wringing most of the humor out of this rather pointless script. Hollinger spends too much time exploiting the tropes of the genre and complicating the plot to do much else. Allison Clear as Joe McCarthy's daughter, a Radcliffe girl engaged to a young Harvard physicist, and Marc Harpin as Jewish All-American boy spying for the Soviets (so that neither side will have a monopoly on the big one), make a appealing naive couple. Comedienne Leslie Dillen is the widow of the corpse and having affair with one of her tenants, Andrei the fisherman. She and Snee play well off each other, but are funniest in alternate roles as the dominating owner of a wedding dress boutique and her mousy third husband. The whole effort however is as inconsequential as a pulp novel found in a library book exchange, read on a long flight, and left behind next to the barf bag. Director Courtney A. O'Connor can't get the comedy to build much, impeded by scenes which can't flow into each other because there is too much furniture to shift. Byrnna Bloomfield's set is not a good solution to the problem of reproducing a cinematic setting. Also the show would be funnier if Philadelphian Hollinger really knew Boston as well as he knows B-pictures and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
"Red Herring" by Michael Hollinger, Feb. 18 - Mar. 19
Lyric Stage Co. at Boston YWCA Auditorium
140 Clarendon, Copley Sq., (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "John and Jen" by Andrew Lippa & Tom Greenwald
Date:Sat, Feb 19, 5 10:41 PM
Quicktake on JOHN & JEN

     Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald's 1995 chamber music theatre piece "John and Jen" is getting a first rate production at the Stoneham Theatre. Director Scott Edmiston has reunited two members of the original cast of his revival of "Jacques Brel..." in Gloucester; IRNE winner Leigh Barrett and erstwhile Blue Man Eric Rubbe, to play Jen who goes from being a child in the '50s to a mother of a grown son in 1990 and John, her brother in the first act, her son named for him in the second. Janie E. Howland has created a set that suggests kids rooms and/or an attic, backed by enlarged photos of John and Jen, with a large screen above the musicians upstage which provides continually changing pictures, historical references, and mood setting projections. Karen Perlow's lighting, her first effort for Stoneham, is expressive as ever, while Gail Astrid Buckley's costumes fit the action and the changing years to a tee. Music director Timothy Evans at the keyboard joined by cello and percussion gives Lippa's score a polished rendition.
    This is a show that good enough, especially given such a rich production by practiced professionals, that one wishes it were better. Lippa and Greenwald should revisit this work, which grew from a ten minute sketch to one act to its current short two act form. The first act could use more development of brother John and just a bit more presence for their parents, the abusive WWII vet father, and the mother who probably left him--and them. The sung-through music becomes repetitive so that reprises lose their impact. Adding a second keyboard and using the possibilities of sampled sound would emphasize changes in music styles over the time period that are currently merely suggested. The lyrics are quite clever though only a few phrases stand out. Barrett and Rubbe sing with clarity; their voices blend well and carry over the accompaniment for a rich natural sound. Their chemistry as brother and sister then mother and son is quite appealing, as they range from comic moments to the depths of family crisis. The fact that they've worked together before allows them to start at a level which the show's three week run couldn't achieve from a standing start.
"John and Jen" by Andrew Lippa & Tom Greenwald, Feb. 17 - Mar. 6
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham MA , (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff" by Edw. Albee
Date: Fri, Feb18, 12:02 AM

     The revival of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff", now having its pre-Broadway tryout at the Wilbur, is surprisingly relevant, but hardly revelatory. The original production which famously didn't get the Pulitzer in 1962--nobody did--and the revival about ten years after were largely Method acting exercises, but this cast, chosen by the author, brings a variety of styles which mesh with his words, and create friction by contrast. Movie star Kathleen Turner in her third Broadway effort plays Martha in recognizable blowzy style, even more effective here than it was for Tallulah or Mrs. Robinson, and even funnier. Certified genius Bill Irwin brings his meticulous stagework to George, creating an insidious portrait of disappointment with many carefuly crafted moments. Mireille Enos walks a fine line between caricature and madness as brandy swilling Honey, mousey wife of a new faculty member. David Harbour plays Nick, her husband, with a swagger that doesn't get much beyond this somewhat underwritten part as the object of Martha's lust. The ensemble clicks most of the time and show works as well as ever, though the evening coasts a bit during a three hour two intermission running time.
     Albee's dialogue, every scabrous bit of it, is insightful and well-constructed, but possibly no longer necessary. Playwrights and the theatre in general have gone beyond this ground-breaking script from forty years ago. Its careful build toward "Bringing up Baby" takes too long, though this does give one time to admire all the detail in John Lee Beatty's execution of what legendary designer Robert Edmund Jones called an ADBLR (another damn Broadway living room). Director Anthony Page, who's done a number of well-received Albee shows in London, rings all the changes the set provides but its linear layout mirrors the predictable development of the action too neatly. The Boston audience will probably fill the Wilbur while the show's here briefly, but how"...Virginia Wolff" will fare in the Big Apple remains to be seen. It should make it to the end of the season.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff" by Edward Albee, Feb. 15 - Mar. 6 (pre-Broadway)
Broadway in Boston at The Wilbur Theatre
246 Tremont St., (617) 931-ARTS Broadway in Boston

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Blue/Orange" by Joe Penhall
Date:Sunday, Feb 13, 10:59 PM
Quicktake on BLUE/ORANGE

     Zeitgeist Stage Company's present production of Joe Penhall's 2001 award winning "Blue/Orange" is the best effort director David Miller and his associates have conjured up in a while. This intense three-handed mind game, featuring IRNE winners Dorian Christian Baucum and Steven Barkhimer with Eric Hamel caught in the middle, is at once an indictment of bureaucratic psychiatry and an exploration of the meaning of madness. Played out in the round under diffuse atmospheric lighting on another well-designed set by Miller, the script also touches none too gently in racism and differential diagnosis.      Baucum is convincing as tormented street-wise Christopher who may be jiving with his white medicos, but is at least troubled, Penhall, who's had some practical experience with schizophrenics, has captured the social dilemma this variation of human consciousness presents. Barkhimer once again plays the conformist, a doctor who goes along to get along, full of ambition and only professionally concerned with others. Hamel, who appeared in minor roles at the Publick this summer, is an earnest young psychiatrist in training, eager to do good but essentially clueless. His Dr. Flaherty is convinced that the diagnostic indicators he's learned will lead him to a treatment for Christopher. Barkhimer's more flexible approach as his supervisor, Dr. Smith, however self-serving, may actually be more appropriate. Anyone who's experienced psychiatry from either side of the couch will be intrigued by this two act play, which ends with more questions than it began with.

"Blue/Orange" by Joe Penhall, Feb. 11 - Mar. 5
Zeitgeist Stage Co. in BCA Black Box
529 Tremont, Boston, (617) 933-8600 Zeitgeist Stage Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Trumbo: Red, White & Blacklisted" by Christopher Trumbo
Date: Thurs, Feb 10 11:44 PM
Quicktake on TRUMBO

     Christopher Trumbo's tribute to his father, the late screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, could easily have turned maudlin. It is saved by the old man's legendary acerbic personality and the acknowledged brilliance of Trumbo's writing, even when composing a letter to a member of his family. The present interest in this show, which has been done in NYC by luminaries such as F. Murray Abraham, Nathan Lane, Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Robbins, Alec Baldwin, and its present star, Brian Dennehy, lies in the uneasiness many in the creative community feel confronting the current administration. Witness the recent PBS flap over "Postcards from Buster" and increasing self-censorship throughout the media.
    Brian Dennehy's impressive performance as Dalton brings an all-American sincerity to the role. He's fully believable as a Colorado native who knocked about doing menial jobs during the depression, eventually becoming a newsman and screenwriter who served as a war correspondent in the Pacific. Understanding the nuances of the Hollywood blacklist requires details passed over very quickly in this 90 minute show, though observant members of the audience will spot first-term California congressman Richard M. Nixon sitting next to the chairman at the HUAC hearings, for example. Multimedia sequences add depth to the story, but it would have been nice to see or hear some examples from Trumbo's award-winning screenplays. Copyright and other considerations probably make this impossible, however. A passage or two from Trumbo's most important novel, "Johhny Got His Gun" would also be instructive. There's enough to ponder in the less public material presented. Tickets are going fast if you plan too. You might want to compare Trumbo's real soul-searching to Tom Murphy's exploration in "The Sanctuary Lamo" which Sugan is presenting next door in the Roberts.

"Trumbo: Red, White & Blacklisted" by Christopher Trumbo, Feb.8 - Mar. 6
presented at Wimberley
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8500 Huntington Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Far Side of the Moon" by Robert Lepage
Date: Wed, Feb 9, 10:51 PM

     Robert Lepage's two hour multimedia confrontation with the cosmos, first presented in Quebec, Feb. 2000, is bolstered by award-winning actor Yves Jacques' spellbinding performance as the only visible actor--except for the set. The content and structure of "The Far Side of the Moon" owes more to the contemporary novel than to traditional drama. Like many such efforts, detail can overcome the action, which is a somewhat pedestrian study of sibling rivalry metaphorically entwined with the USA/USSR "space race", seen from a French-Canadian viewpoint. The show is visually and technically stunning, with a mechanized set, projected effects, an effective use of puppetry by a mostly unseen Eric LeBlanc, and more transformations of an ironing board than one might imagine. At first the show seems to be straining towards cinema, but after a while, the fact that one actor is telling this family story in real time becomes a tour de force. There's an economy to Lepage's narrative that belies the technical complexity of the production. It's possible that fewer tricks could strengthen the author's point. His philosophical arguments tend to get buried in theatrical bravura. However, "The Far Side of the Moon" is certainly the most successful display of current international theatre style seen at the Loeb in quite a while.

"The Far Side of the Moon" by Robert Lepage, Feb. 4 - 27
presented by American Repertory Theatre on Loeb Mainstage
62 Brattle St. Camb. , (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Sanctuary Lamp" by Tom Murphy
Date: Sat, Feb 5, 11:35 PM

     Sugan's celebration of their move next door to expansive Robert's "black box" Studio is a stunning revival of one of Tom Murphy's great plays, "The Sanctuary Lamp" (1975). This anti-clerical bellwether of Irish existentialism has a fine cast under Carmel O'Reilly's sharp direction on an impressive set by J. Michael Griggs. Nigel Gore, seen several seasons ago here in "A Child's Christmas in Wales", is Harry, the tormented circus strong man. Stacy Fischer, seen in Stoneham's "The Violet Hour" this fall, is Maudie, the runaway waif. Aidan Parkinson, now keeper of the flame for the Poet's Theatre, is the enigmatic Francisco, Harry's estranged partner. Jackson Royal, seen regularly at the Wellesley Summer Theatre, is the Monsignor, in whose church this unlikely trio has sought refuge.
    "The Sanctuary Lamp" was included in the Abbey Theatre's retrospective of Murphy's work in 2000, but is not as well known on this side of the pond as "Famine", "The Gigli Concert", or "Bailegangaire" which Sugan has done previously. Like much of his work, there are layers and resonances, symbols and surprizes, requiring some attention on the part of the audience. And no simple conclusions. But as Harry says, "You know"
"The Sanctuary Lamp" by Tom Murphy, Feb. 4 - 25
Sugan Theatre Co. at Roberts Studio, Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 537 Tremont, Boston (617) 933 - 8600 Sugan Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Miss Saigon" - Boubil & Schoenberg; "The Sound of Music" - Rodgers & Hammerstein
Date:Sun, Feb 6, 6:30 PM

    Fans of musical theatre have two sturdy revivals at very reasonable prices this month. Turtle Lane has mounted an economical production of the Cameron MacIntosh blockbuster, "Miss Saigon" with the same youthful energy and ingenuity they brought to "Evita". Shorn of excess, weaknesses in the book--derived after all from a Belasco exotic potboiler turned into a Puccini opera--and middle-brow music with operatic pretensions are more evident. But TLP gets a good show out of it all as they usually do, thanks to sound direction by Michelle Auguillon and a hard working orchestra under the stage conducted by Wayne Ward at the keyboard. Jeff Gardiner's settings and lights do the job, though a bit more would be welcome. Richard Itczak's costumes are on the mark as usual, with help from Val Verge. And yes, they do the helicopter.
     Wheelock Family Theatre has revived the multi-cultural version of "The Sound of Music" which Jane Staab first did over a decade ago. African-American soprano, Angela Williams, is a vibrant Maria, with Leigh Barrett as the Abbess--Lisa Korak will sing some performances--and rising young singer/actress Andrea Ross as Liesl, the oldest of the Trapp children. Christopher Chew gets his first chance at the Captain, and since this is the original R&H score, sings "An Ordinary Couple", omitted from the movie, with Williams. Other songs often cut or shortened are also included, with maestro Jonathan Goldberg making sure the music is first class. Brian Richard Robinson makes a unique effete Max while Eileen Nugent brings her rich voice to Elsa, the other woman. This first-rate production is an excellent introduction to the best of the American Musical theatre, though some of the “love stuff”, not to mention the Anschluss, will have to be explained to the small fry. The text displayed on either side of the stage is particularly useful during the several liturgical pieces in Latin, as well as for some of Hammerstein’s lesser known lyrics.
"Miss Saigon", Feb. 3 - Mar. 13, TLP
"Sound of Music", Feb. 4 - 27, WFT
------- Turtle Lane Playhouse in Newton
Melrose St. Auburndale, (617) 244 - 0169 Turtle Lane Playhouse -------- Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston
200 The Riverway. Fenway, (617) 879 - 2300 Wheelock Family Thtr

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Nothing But The Truth" by John Kani
Date: Wed, Jan 26, 11:12 PM

     John Kani's busy schedule probably won't bring him back to Boston in the near future. His play "Nothing But The Truth", a three-person family drama which encapsulates the decades long struggle against apartheid from the viewpoint of one elderly civil servant and his "daughters", told in the context of preparing to bury his activist brother who died in exile, is destined to become a theatre classic. As one of the world's great actors, he brings his own personal history to the performance, making this a must-see theatrical event, here through Sunday.
Tickets are scarce, especially since subscribers had to rebook due to the weather. Don't delay. This Tont-winner's two co-stars, Warona Seane and Esmeralda Bihl, are actresses of stature as well, supporting Kani's epic performance. The simple realistic set, thrust into a 2/3 seating arrangement, is a reminder that the Loeb doesn't always have to be used to present circuses. But this drama would work on an almost bare stage. Don't miss it.
"Nothing But The Truth" by John Kani, Jan 21 - 30
South African Festival at ART
Loeb, 64 Brattle St. Camb, (617) 547 - 8300 American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Thrill Me" by Stephen Dolginoff
Date: Thur, Jan 20, 11:45 PM
Quicktake on THRILL ME

     The tabloid tale of Leopold and Loeb transfigured into Stephen Dolginoff's "Thrill Me" showed up at the Midtown Theatre Festival in NYC in 2003.This two man music drama gets a second outing as part of Stoneham Theatre's Emerging Stages series this weekend and next, backed by a solo piano score. Although there is dialogue this 80 minute recounting of the murder of Booby Franks feels like it's being sung through."Thrill Me"'s musical ambitions are high, but Dolginoff's score has very little distinction, at least in this presentation. There are balance problems to be solved so that tenor Jonathan Reid Galt, playing Nathan Leopold can be heard more. Baritone Jonathan Colby as Richard Loeb, the simpler role, comes across more clearly.
     The framing device, Leopold's final parole hearing 35 years after their conviction, helps clarify what little plot there actually is. The potential drama of the death penalty, and Clarence Darrow's famous plea which saved the pair from it, is mentioned in passing. This show's reputation as serious musical theatre rests more on its potential than what's actually in the script in terms of characterization and drama. And while Jenna McFarland's looming black courtroom docks which back the action are impressive, the show would probably be more compelling in a more intimate theatre. NOMTI fans will appreciate this attempt but the general musical comedy crowd may be disappointed.
"Thrill Me" by Stephen Dolginoff, Jan 20 - 28
Emerging Stages at Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham, (781) 279 -2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Tempest" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Mon, Jan 17, 10:12 AM
Quicktake on THE TEMPEST

     Boston Theatre Works, out of necessity, has opened "The Tempest" in the vast brave new world of the BCA Cyclorama. As usual under its dome, acoustics are the problem. But if you know the play at all, Shakespeare & Co.s Jonathan Epstein's performance as Prospero is worth the earstrain. He's joined by S&C regulars Allyn Burrows as drunken Stephano, seen in town this fall as Clarence in ASC's "Richard III", and pixieish Susannah Millonzi as Ariel. The relationship between Prospero and his aetherial servant is touching and complex. Sarah Hickler, from both S&C and the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Co. makes an interesting but rather tame Caliban. Miranda has a sturdy tomboy attitude as played by Elizabeth Hayes, seen in BTW's "Antony & Cleopatra" and this fall in Lyric's "A Little Night Music". Neil Casey, last seen in Stoneham's "The Violet Hour,"is Trinculo, the putupon clown here dressed as a baker, fond of RediWhip as well as the bottle.
     This production is very close to the "barebones style" of S&C, being played on white marley taped to the floor with no furniture. An indeterminate sit-upon or two might help, however. Some of the cast have worked outdoors at the Publick Theatre, like Bill Molnar as King Alonso, Gerald Slattery as his old councilor Gonzalo, and Richard LaFrance as assistant villain, Sebastian. All are capable of being heard, but reverberation muffles their lines from certain locations. The complex and expensive technical solutions to performing in this space are beyond the budget of most small theatres, and tend to restrict the use of all that glorious space. So go for the acting, try to sit front and center, and enjoy some theatrical magic as a balm for winter's chill.
"The Tempest" by Wm. Shakespeare, Jan. 13 - Feb. 13 (17 performances)
Boston Theatre Works in the BCA Cyclorama
529 Tremont St., (617) 931 - ARTS Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Book of Hours" by Laura Harrington
Date: Sat, Jan 15, 10:05 PM
Quicktake on THE BOOK OF HOURS

     Laura Harrington's new play, "The Book of Hours", which runs one more weekend out in Wellesley, is far more interesting--and potentially disturbing--than some reviews have suggested. While the script definitely still seems in development, the piece has the makings of strong drama. The strong cast of six WST regulars does a good job with what they're given under Nora Hussey's efficient often understated direction, which sometimes plays against the material Set and sound effects are up to Ken Loewit's usual standard; costumer Kelsey Peterson captures the period and WST ensembles know how to wear older clothing.
    Even though the script seems sketchy in spots, its overall scope and language has substance. Harrington's "The Book of Hours" was ready for a first audience, if not the level of attention it has received. Now it's time for the author to plow her stronger points made in the second half back into the first. It might also help to split the narrative viewpoint between the two sisters. Kelly Galvin's teenage coolness as Sophie somehow works against the action. Unlike many current scripts about entirely self-absorbed metrosexuals, however, these six live--and die--during a real and all too relevant crisis. The questions raised, sometimes a bit baldly, about patriotism and family are worth thinking about.
"The Book of Hours" by Laura Harrington, Jan. 7 - 22
Wellesley Summer Theatre in Ruth Nagel Jones
Alumni Hall, Wellesley, (781) 283 - 2000 Wellesley Summer Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Last Little Porn Shop in Manhattan" by Ann Continelli
Date: Fri, Jan 14, 8:29 AM

     After almost a year of reading and workshops, Ann Continelli's latest outrageous farce, "The Last Little Porn Shop in Manhattan", is on the boards. With a company of 12 playing twice as many characters and enough plot twists for half a sit-com season, this energetic production--complete with choreographed half-time show--clocks in at under two hours. Continelli's writing and direction is broad and to the point, resulting in a show which is risque but not offensive. The play takes its premise from Mayor Guiliani's much-publicized cleanup of Times Square, mostly by uprooting small businesses to make way for Disney and the like. More could be made of the economic situation underlying the spurious morality of his crusade, especially given the denouement of the play.
    The acting is rather basic, with honors going to Jonathan Barron and Katie Graycar as the stalwart employees of this corner porn store. Julia Propp and Will Keary are endearing as the octogenarian owners of the place. A slightly longer version with an intermission might allow for more character development. Costuming is imaginative, and Heather Balcunas' simplified multi-unit set works well in the space.
    It will be interesting to see how the company works with the material when the show finishes next weekend at the BCA and moves for the month of February to the very different space of Durrell Hall at the Cambridge YMCA. It takes time to refine low comedy and to sharpen satire, to move beyond broad acting to social commentary. It will then be time to refine the script and give the characters more depth before plotting future productions. The current version is an amusing romp, well worth sitting through.
"The Last Little Porn Shop in Manhattan" by Ann Continelli, Jan. 6 - 22; Feb. 3 - 26
T&A Productions at BCA, Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont St., (617) 933 - 8600 Todd & Ann Productions

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Dressed Up!" - Leslie Dillen; "Wigged Out!"- Paula Plum
Date: Sat, Jan 8, 6:14 PM

     There?s an abundance of solo shows in town to start the second half of the season, but the two highly personal accounts of relationships between mothers and daughters playing briefly at Boston Playwrights might be the most effective. Pamela Gien's much-touted ?Syringa Tree? running on the ART Mainstage has legs as much for its reflection of the shameful era of apartheid as for her fluid performance, and may become a film and be published as a novel. Leslie Dillen's and Paula Plum?s much less exotic efforts, slices of Americana may turn up again, but why take the chance?
Without judging between their efforts, both of which involve their mother?s obsession with dressing right. it should be noted that Dillen?s is much more about her, while Plum?s barefoot remembrance centered around the night her mother died doesn?t place herself as the narrator as much in the foreground. Both actress draw on their own performance experience and strengths, as modulated by Karen MacDonald's unobtrusive direction, to make the audience comfortable and attentive to their reminiscences. The amount of skill required to pull off such personal pieces is obvious only in hindsight. They?re helped by Susan Zeeman Rogers set, a boudoir suggestive of the inside of a hatbox, Karen Perlow's careful lighting, and two unique soundscapes prepared by David Remedios. And the plethora of clothes needs, chosen and modified by Anna-Alisa Belous are the final touch.
"Dressed Up!" - Leslie Dillen; "Wigged Out!"- Paula Plum, Jan. 6 - 17
DUWO Sister partnership at Boston Playwrights? Theatre
949 Comm Ave. Allston, 617-358-7529 Boston Playwrights? Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Quills" by Douglas Wright
Date: Sat. Jan. 8, 1:30 PM
Quicktake on QUILLS

    Audiences will probably be divided in their appreciation or rejection of the New Rep's current offering, Douglas Wright's "Quills". But they're liable to want to discuss not only its Guignol style but the significance, if any, of its message. Just as since its publication the literate world has been evaluating the work of the monstrous Marquis De Sade which this difficult script once again brings to the stage. The original NYC production had a limited run of 26 perfomances but won the author one of four Playwrighting Obies for 1995. The show had a similiar run at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in the summer of '97. Not much has been seen of the play since, though the film with Jefferey Rush in 2000 made a bit of a stir.
     Director Rick Lombardo is correct in his assessment that various themes in play have a great deal of immediate contemporary reference, both political and social, but his hard-working cast of seasoned pros headed by Austin Pendleton hasn’t quite found the tone to pull off a somewhat ungainly mix of sexual innuendo and Grand Guignol. The whole thing is just too distancing; the implications too diffuse. Still audiences may find the mix of comedy and horror intriguing. And one can only hope that its star doesn’t catch cold playing about half the show nude in the New Rep’s drafty hall.
"Quills" by Douglas Wright, Jan. 5 - Feb. 6
New Repertory Theatre in Newton Highlands
54 Lincoln St., 617-332-1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Quills" by Douglas Wright
Date: Sat. Jan. 8, 1:30 PM
Quicktake on QUILLS

    Audiences will probably be divided in their appreciation or rejection of the New Rep's current offering, Douglass Wright's "Quills". But they're liable to want to discuss not only its Guignol style but the significance, if any, of its message. Just as since its publication, the literate world has been evaluating the work of the monstrous Marquis De Sade which this difficult script once again brings to the stage. The original NYC production had a limited run of 26 perfomances but won the author one of four Playwrighting Obies for 1995. It had a slightly longer and somewhat controversial run at the Berkshire Theatre Festival shortly thereafter. Not much has been seen of the play since, though the film with Jefferey Rush in 200 made a bit of a stir.
     Director Rick Lombardo is correct in his assessment that various themes in play have a great deal of immediate contemporary reference, both political and social, but his hard-working cast of seasoned pros headed by Austin Pendleton hasn’t quite found the tone to pull of a somewhat ungainly mix of sexual innuendo and Grand Guignol. The whole thing is just too distancing; the implications too diffuse. Still audiences may find the mix of comedy and horror intriguing. And one can only hope that its star doesn’t catch cold playing about half the show nude in the New Rep’s drafty hall.
"Quills" by Douglas Wright, Jan. 5 - Feb. 6
New Repertory Theatrein Newton Highlands
54 Lincoln St., 617-332-1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Seance" by Robert Smythe
Date: Wed, Jan 5, 3:19 PM
Quicktake on SEANCE

    As the technical Director of the Puppet Showplace, just had a chance to see a quick dress rehearsal of the award-winning Mum Puppet Theatre's show "Seance" which the Showplace is presenting at Mass College of Art, Tower Auditorium, Thurs. - Sat., Jan. 6-8 this weekend. The show has quite a range of visual effects and some unique physical acting. The subject matter, late 19th century spiritualism, is still with us; witness just opened "Medium" on TV and "White Noise" at the movies. It'll be well worth the trip up Huntington Ave. for a performance unlike anything seen in Boston recently. Author/director Smythe who founded Mum has a very particular worldview. And the show's original music by Adam Wernick won a Barrymore (Philadelphia's Norton) Get there early for the best seats; reservations are strongly recommended.

"Seance" by Robert Smythe,Jan. 6 - 8, 8pm
Puppets at Night at Mass Art/Tower Auditorium
Huntington Ave., (617) 731 - 6400 Puppet Showplace


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Matter Familias" by Ginger Lazarus
Date: Thurs, Dec 9, 12:09 PM

     Ginger Lazarus' "Matter Familias" is an extreme modern farce, with a strong cast and sharp direction by Wesley Savick. Once again, BPT has created a production which would benefit from a longer run, though this high-powered cast wouldn't be available for an extended engagement. The play is an Absurdist farce based on parent/child relationships, skillfully acted by a skilled ensemble. Helen McElwain is instantly likable as usual, while Nancy E. Carroll brings an almost demonic quality to the role of her manipulative mother. Barlow Adamson unleashes his comic potential to be annoying as her unwanted boyfriend. Kortney Adams and Karen "Mal" Malme make believable partners. As the two straight men, Robert D, Murphy finds nuances to Dad, trying to hide in front of the TV, while Gus Kelley brings a pleasant naivete to the role of a forty year old man being adopted by a 33 year old woman. You'll have to see this show to find out that turns out.
There's only one more weekend of the last of the three new plays presented by Boston Playwrights' this fall. The holidays are all about family, try getting to know this clan.
"Matter Familias" by Ginger Lazarus, Dec. 2 - 19
Boston Playwrights Theatre, Studio B
949 Comm. Ave. Allston / (617) 358 - PLAY Boston Playwrights

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "I'm away from my desk right now..." by R&T
Date: Sat, Dec 11, 11:47 AM

     The ensemble doing Rough & Tumble's fall farrago, "I'm away from my desk right now..."--Kristin Baker, Matt Chapuran, Irene Daly, Jason Myatt, George Saulnier III-- bring their own work experiences to this collection of nine sketches. Which may be why an unexpected air of seriousness creeps into the hijinks from time to time. The four pieces Bill Donnelly has written for them certainly have a wry sense of reality, even his parody of a socialist drama, "Blut/Werker" which ends the program. More of the whimsy shown in "Fire Drill", created by director Dan Milstein, co-founder Kristen Baker, and veteran comedienne Irene Daly, might leaven the rest of the show. Still, for their first time out of the confines of the Leland, the company has retained their homey style, with Fred Harrington at the Roland providing live musical continuity. It's a money-back guaranteed bargain in more comfortable surroundings, with a lot of nice touches, running one more weekend.

"I'm away from my desk right now...,Dec. 3 - 18
Rough & Tumble Theatre in Rehearsal Hall, Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 527 Tremont (617) 933 - 8300 Rough & Tumble

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Christmas Carol" based on Charles Dickens
Date:Sun, Dec 5 9:56 PM
Quicktake on A CHRISTMAS CAROL X 2

     North Shore's version of the Dicken's classic, created by Jon Kimball et al continues to evolve as this musical ghost story turns 15 while NSMT heads into its golden anniversary year. The opening, including the obligatory announcement, has been smartened up. Many old hands, headed by David Coffee, and the new bright young faces proceed once more to make this perhaps the best "Christmas Carol" around. No need to travel to Trinity, doing its usual double bill of the Adrian Hall script, or Hartford, which has its own elegant production. The Eustis/Dehnert version that played the Emerson Majestic last year seems to have gone back into the drawer.
It's a shorter trip to Stoneham, where a script director Robert Jay Cronin tried out at Vermont's Northern Stage a couple of years ago gets its local premiere. With music by Angelyn Fullarton and lyrics by both of them, plus some traditional carols, Cronin tries to fit Dicken's tale into a more conventional music theatre format. Some of his ideas are interesting, and none of his rewrites are objectionable, but the piece is still in need of development. The framing story, which has four younger siblings reading the original novella under pressure from their college age older sister, seems too contrived. But Dale Place is still an excellent Scrooge, as he has been for five years, and the cast makes a rather eclectic score work fairly well. Some workshopping with NOMTI might sharpen things up if Stoneham does this adaptation again next year.
South Shore residents can to Norwell get to the Company Theatre's version; it's advertised here on the Mirror. And Public Radio listeners know about the celebrity reading coming up at B.U. to benefit Rosie's Place. Remember, a Scrooge-free holiday is not necessarily a good thing.

"A Christmas Carol" (A Musical Ghost Story) Dec. 3 - 24
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverly MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre
"A Christmas Carol" adapted by Robert Jay Cronin, Dec. 2 -23
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham MA , (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Provok'd Wife" by John Vanburgh
Date: Wed, Dec.1,11:49 PM
Quicktake on THE PROVOK'D WIFE

     Sitting through Mark Wing-Davies interpretation of a Restoration "comedy of (bad) manners" in the Loeb is somewhat better than watching the usual academic production in this country of such a work, often performed by earnest acting students. But his attempts to modulate this seldom-done "classic" and to find creative hooks to engage a contemporary audience is only fitfully successful. The uncompromisingly square set, for example, generally rejects the forced perspective of the period but does find anything evocative to replace it with, instead falling into post-modernist cliche.

The show suffers from the usual ART mix of clever ideas and contemporary tropes, starting with the some of cast affecting a genteel Southern accent, which the program suggests has at least remnants of aristocratic speech from the 1600's. The only character for whom this choice works particularly well is Effie Johnson's Lady Fanciful. Some use dialect very little, like Adam Dannheisser playing Heartfree, and most drop the affectation by the end of the evening. Thomas Derrah as Razor, the valet, and Karen MacDonald as Mademoiselle, Fanciful's waiting gentlewoman don't need to, though Derrah slips into it for effect at times. These ART stalwarts pump much needed life into the evening halfway through the second half of this three hour evening, and Derrrah's surprizing costume change near the very end signals a change in tone heralding the climax. Gabriel Barry's costumes in general suggest period style and indicate character, but don't work together very often.

The weakest part of the show is the music, both recorded background and live performance, especially the parody interpolated into a scene with Lady Fanciful at the end of the original second act, where bad verses are accompanied by guitar and accordion. Concerning that accordion; just because there's a student who can play one, doesn't mean it has to be inflicted on the audience. But at least Wing-Davies didn't try to add an "actual" aroma to the show, as he has in the past. "The Provok'd Wife" by John Vanburgh, Nov. 27 - Dec. 26

American Repertory Theatre at Loeb Drama Cntr
64 Brattle St. Harvard Sq., (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Fully Committed" by Becky Mode
Date:Sun, Nov 28, 8:39 PM

     Even those familiar with John Kuntz's solo shows, such as his Norton award winning St*rf*ckers, will be intrigued by the ease with which last month's Richard the Third shifts between Sam, the harried reservation clerk at a trendy New York restaurant and forty some people on the other end of the line. Helped by a cluttered realistic set designed by Skip Curtis, the Lyric's production manager and artistic director Spiro Veloudos' unobtrusive direction, Kuntz gets to display the range of his acting talents, from broad caricature to pleasant realism. The somewhat frantic 1999 New York version of "Fully Committed", originally directed by Nicholas Martin, and starring Matt Setlock, who created many of the characters along with author Becky Mode, didn't quite catch the holiday spirit the way Lyric's production does. There really is a play hiding behind all the comic schtick. Kuntz manages to suggest how Sam the actor "at liberty" might play the often unpleasant people he talks to, from demanding patrons to the upstairs staff. And his small triumphs are relished just as much upon seeing the play again.

"Fully Committed" by Becky Mode, Nov. 26 - Dec. 23
Lyric Stage Co. at Copley Sq. YWCA
140 Clarendon St., (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Johnny Guitar" by van Hoogstraten, Silvestri & Higgins
Date: Sun, Nov 21, 8:30 PM
Quicktake on JOHNNY GUITAR

     Given the unlikely subjects of some recent Off-Broadway attempts at musical theatre, Nicholas van Hoogstraten's reworking of Nicholas Ray's cult western into a sendup of the horse opera seems almost obvious. Especially since the original film featured gender reversals with two pistol-packing women in a showdown and political undertones comparing frontier justice to the blacklist. Paul Daigneault and Speakeasy have been lucky enough to get IRNE winner Kathy St. George, on leave from "Menopause-the Musical" around the corner, to take on the Joan Crawford role of roadhouse keeper Vienna, and comedienne Margaret Ann Brady for Emma Small, the cattle baroness originally played by Mercedes MacCambridge. Both have eyes of The Dancing Kid, played by newcomer Timothy J. Smith, currently Foothill's education director. But Vienna's secret weapon is her old flame, a gunslinger who rides into town calling himself "Johnny Guitar"--supposedly as an entertainer for her saloon--played by local leading man, Christopher Chew, fresh from "A Little Night Music." This is its first production since this parody won the 2004 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical for a run at the New Century last spring. Joel Higgins' clever lyrics were especially praised .

These versatile players are supported by an ensemble of five who play citizens, outlaws, and the posse, singing backup for various numbers, shifting Caleb Wertenbaker's ingenious set, and brandishing a lot of hardware. J.T.Turner is the sheriff--and the show's armorer-- while Luke Hawkins, currently going for a BFA at Boston Conservatory, is the kid in The Kid's gang. Chris Cook from Rough & Tumble plays various rube's and rhythm guitar, Drew Poling, last seen along with Chew in Lyric's opener plays a number of big guys, adding his strong baritone to the backup, while John Pocaro, seen in a number of Speakeasy shows, plays the bartender, the bank teller, and other civilians. Music director Jose Delgado makes the most of Mark Silvestri's country pop sound with these excellent singers and a four piece ensemble. Everyone's obviously had a great time overdoing this show, including Gail Astrid Buckley, whose costumes capture the Crawford style and the look of the Hollywood Western, played against the garish chromatics of Wertenbaker's set. Catch it early while everyone's consumed with Thanksgiving and early shopping.
"Johnny Guitar" by van Hoogstraten, Silvestri & Higgins,Nov. 19 - Dec. 18
Speakeasy Stage Co. in Roberts Studio at Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 527 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600 Speakeasy

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Scotland Road" by Jeffrey Hatcher
Date: Sat, Nov 20, 10:41 PM
Quicktake on SCOTLAND ROAD

     Those who missed this absurdist mystery several seasons ago when the New Rep did it have one more weekend to try and get their imaginations around one of Jeffrey Hatcher's more popular plays. The cast, Leigh Berry, Rachel Kline, Wayne Vargas, and Phyllis Weaver, is first rate and John MacKenzie's spare set is the best in several seasons, especially the slide sequence which serves as a prologue. His soundscape and lighting are also quite effective. Director Lissi Engvall has gotten strong performances from the ensemble, with each actor getting a chance to shine. This short intellectual thriller, written before either the film or the musical, has some surprising resonances for today, especially since another section of the famous wreck has just been discovered. There are political implications as well, beyond the usual questions.

"Scotland Road" by Jeffrey Hatcher" through Nov. 27
Hovey Players at Abbott Memorial Theater
9 Spring St. (next to the Library) Waltham, (781) 647 - 1211 Hovey Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Burn This" by Landford Wilson
Date: Thursday, Nov 18, 10:24 PM
Quicktake on BURN THIS

     Not quite a revival, though the original starring John Malkovich was done in 1987, "Burn This" seems just a little dated. Various elements of its story-telling and characterization have been used in more recent scripts. Despite Wilson's updates for a production in 2002, the drama doesn't quite make it into the 21st century. The problem may be that the character whose death is the catalyst for the action seems merely a device, and never comes alive, even in the person of his older brother, the starring role. Film and T.V. star Michael T. Weiss is initially aceptable as the violent and implusive Pale, who takes his knickname from V.S.O."Pale" brandy, but never quite becomes fully believable. The center of the story, Anna, is another collection of cliches, which Anne Torsiglieri, last seen as the love interest in "Marty", doesn't get much beyond. The script, a series of scenes for actors, doesn't provide her much opportunity, however As the dead gay dancer Robbie's partner and roomate, she's never given a chance to show her stuff--or even his. As Anna's rich straight boyfriend, a science fiction writer, Brian Hutchinson, is practically a cypher, even after recounting his one homosexual encounter years ago as a student. The most developed character, though also well short of an epiphany, is Nat Wolf's Larry, the third roomate, a gay ad-man who has almost all the good lines and who comes closest to suggesting the possibility of change.

This exercise in applied navel gazing might be more compelling in a small studio theatre, such as last spring's production at the Piano Factory. On James Noone's oversized evocation of a loft apartment/dance studio, complete with a real firesecape in the background, the action gets lost. Costumes and set direction don't add much, though everything looks very professional, and a bit too clean. The choice of music only adds to the air of a soap opera; an effective citynoise soundscape might be more effective. Too many scenes seem directed from pose to pose with very few surprises. The opening night audience filled with StageSource members found laughs that added very little to the drama, but amused theatrical insiders. The production in 2002 at Signature starring Edward Norton seems to have taken a similar approach.

"Burn This" by Landford Wilson, Nov. 12 - Dec. 12
Huntington Theatre Co. at the Mystic Theatre
264 Huntington Ave. , (617) 266 - 0800 Huntington Theatre Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Value of Names" by Jeffrey Sweet
Date: Sat, Nov 13, 10:52 PM

     The Theatre Cooperative moves from 18th century France and Cyrano to 1980's Hollywood for Jeffrey Sweets'drama (with a few jokes) about the effect of the infamous Blacklist which resulted from HUAC investigations thirty years earlier. Specifically,"The Value of Names" is the story of Benny Silverman, who recovered his career by appearing on a pointless but profitable sit-com, his actress daughter Norma, who's decided to change her billing name to her mother's, Seidl, to move out of his shadow, and a former best friend who "named names", including Benny's, to protect his own directing career. Leo has just taken over the helm of the play Benny's daughter is about to appear in. The dialogue rings true, thanks to some intense characterization by Harold Withee as Benny, Nelleke Morse as Norma, and the ever-dependable Fred Robbins as Leo, the successful director.

All three cast members have given their characters distinctive and believable habits of self-dramatization, each dealing with the touchy situation in their own way. Continuity is maintained by occasional asides from Norma, which need to be better differentiated from the action, perhaps by lighting. Moreover, the information these interjections impart could easily have been included in the script. But at worst this convention is a minor nuisance. Overall, the quality of this well-done 90 minute production, another fine job by Lesley Chapman, makes this interesting drama well worth seeing. A well-finished California patio Set by Gino Ng, costumes by Tracy Campbell, and considerable work by the rest of Doc Madison's crew make "The Value of Names" a more developed production than usual. Reservations are advised since seating is limited. Meet the playwright at the Nov. 20 & 21 performances.

"The Value of Names" by Jeffrey Sweet, Nov. 12 - Dec. 11
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville, (617) 625 - 1300 Theatre Cooperative

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Strike Up the Band" (1927) by Geo. S. Kaufman and the Gershwins
Date:Sun, Nov 7, 10:40 PM

     Another concert revival of a seldom-heard work from canon of memorable shows has come and gone. This time American Classics assembled the usual stellar crew of topnotch local singers tackle the Gershwin's blend of Gilbert & Sullivan with jazz and the increasingly sophisticated musical idiom of Broadway shows in the '20s. The show's title song has become a perennial, owing to the success of the rewritten version of this musical which folded in Philadelphia in 1927, only to find favor a few years later during the Depression. Of course few remember that its intent and lyrics were satirical. "Strike Up..."'s biggest hit "The Man I Love", was cut from "Lady Be Good"(1924), but was already popular in England before being placed in this show. The most interesting musical sequences however, are the extended openings and closing of the two acts which approach operetta, only they're funnier.
Kudos go as usual to music director, accompanist and co-producer, Longy's Margaret Ulmer who makes the grand piano stand in for an orchestra. Valeria Anastasio and Brian Robinson were in top form as the love interest, with Brent Reno and Caroline De Lima as the second duo. Bob Jolly once again was in the fore as Horace J. Fletcher, cheese tycoon who finances the war with Switzerland at the heart of the plot. Sara De Lima got to spend the show pursuing Jolly while Ben Sears and Brad Connor, both part of the driving force behind American Classics, had substantial comic roles as a confidential presidential adviser and the mean factory manager who turns out to be an enemy agent. As in Kaufman's more famous satire, "Of Thee I Sing", the political observations still resonate. All the minor roless were filled by one actor labeled as George Spelvin. Today that part was played with panache by Peter Miller, who amused the audience, his wife Leigh Barrett and their two boys to no end, and even got to parody Cohan in "Yankee Doodle Rhythm", which deserves to be wider known, as do several other songs from this clever show.
American Classics next foray into the archives of the American Musical Theatre is a selection of songs and sketches from Irving Berlin's legendary Music Box Revues (1921 - 1924), scheduled for April 8th and 10, 2005. Mark your calendars now. The hall was almost full today.
"Strike Up the Band" by Geo. S. Kaufman, music - Geo. Gershwin, lyrics - Ira Gershwin , Nov. 5 & Nov. 7
American Classics at Pickman Hall, Longy
27 Garden St. Camb., (617) 244 -1125 American Classics

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Playboy of the Western World" by J. Millington Synge
Date: Wed, Nov 3, 11:10 PM

     Habitues of the ART will recognize the forces at work in the Abbey Theatre's production of one of their first international successes. "The Playboy..." played Boston in 1911. The Continental auteur approach is rampant. There's a boring square set, a very minor character (The Bellman) elevated to sort of an M.C., rudimentary blocking, interpolated dumbshow done in silhouette, physical acting, and worst of all, very little joy. In his brief preface, which director Ben Barnes has The Bellman quote at the beginning of the show, Synge makes one simple demand of theatre; "On the stage one must have reality, and one must have joy". What the Abbey is doing at the Wilbur is severely lacking in both qualities, despite the efforts of some fine Irish actors, who can be understood enough of the time, and who have moments of reality However, the fitful clarity has been achieved by slowing the pace of most of the show to leisurely amble when it really should race along, and the stylized moments mitigate against reality. Sugan's "The Well of Saints", playing down the street, is more coherent if also lacking in enough joy.

"The Playboy of the Western World" by J. Millington Synge, Nov. 2 -21
Abbey Theatre of Dublin at the Wilbur Theater
246 Tremont St. Boston, (617) 931 - 2787 Broadway in Boston

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Glider" by Kate Snodgrass
Date: Sun, Oct 31, 5:45 PM
Quicktake on THE GLIDER

     There are only eight more scheduled performances of what may just be the best new play put up this year. An earlier version of Kate Snodgrass' "The Glider" was part of the Women on Top Festival in 2002. The current production, an intense ninety minutes, features Laura Latreille, Birgit Huppuch, and Kimberley Parker Green as three sisters gathered on the porch of their family's boathouse overlooking a lake in Michigan. Their mother has just died, and family secrets, past and present come boiling to the surface. Wesley Savich has directed this superb cast as a tight ensemble, including intense confrontations with overlapping dialogue. Richard Chambers, now teaching at Suffolk, has once again come up with an architectural set full of intriguing detail. Rachel Padula-Shefelt has costumed each of the three with care, enhancing their characters. Haddon Kime has provided atmospheric sound which enhances the selective realism of the production. But these three performers could probably have the show work on a bare stage with a few essential props and some chairs, though the porch glider of the title would be missed.

In an ideal world, such a show would move somewhere for an extended run. But Latreille will be heading back to Canada, Huppuch down to New York, and Green to Washington DC. This Chekovian drama will probably been seen again in these parts, but this production will be hard to beat. Avoid regret; get tickets now.
"The Glider" by Kate Snodgrass, Oct. 29 - Nov. 14
Boston Playwrights' Theatre, Studio A
,949 Comm. Ave. Allston (617) 358 - 7529 Boston Playwrights Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Ramona Quimby" by Len Jenkins from Beverly Cleary's novels
Date: Sat, Oct 30, 11:06 pM
Quicktake on RAMONA QUIMBY

     You don't have to be a kid to enjoy WFT's latest offering, though taking one or two to this unsentimental production would be a very good idea. Andrea Ross is charming and unaffected in the title role. Helen McElvain as her big sister Beezus is a delightful narrator, and throughly believable as a middle-schooler to boot. The pair bring Cleary's dueling sisters to life. The rest of the professional cast includes Ken Baltin and Monique Nicole McIntyre as their parents, with Sonya Raye and Ricardo Engermann as Aunt Bea and her beau, Uncle Hobart. Jane Staab is hilarious as Mrs. Kemp, their elderly neighbor addicted to soap operas, but Maureen Keiller takes the prize as the scourge of the third grade, Mrs. Griggs. Gary Thomas Ng shows up in a variety of parts including the Cub Scout leader. Other experienced local actors include Vindy Vatanavan as Susan, Ramona's goodie-goodie rival, Sarah Guyer Brown as the Brownie leader, a waitress, and Selma from the wedding shoppe, plus Wesley Lawrence Taylor as the minister and the man with the dog. High schooler Jacob Liberman, a old WFT hand seen at other theatres as well is Ramona's friend, Howie.

    There is of course a ensemble of students from the children's theatre program choreographed into various interludes by IRNE winner Laurel Stachowicz. Russian trained designer Danila Korogodsky has come up with a striking set with suggests Mondrian and Albers, expertly lit by John Malinowski. Marian Piro's costumes capture the realism of the original books. Director Susan Kosoff has pulled together an entertaining show from Len Jenkins' script which deftly interweaves themes of growing up, family crisis, sibling rivalry, and surviving the third grade. This is contemporary children's theatre done right. WFT is also introducing an electronic open captioning system in partnership with "c2" at all performances. Electronic signs on either side of the stage provide description and dialogue. For more information on this system, go to Caption Coalition.

"Ramona Quimby" by Len Jenkins , Oct 29 - Nov 28
Wheelock Family Theatre
200 The Riverway, (617) 879 - 2147
Wheelock Family Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”COMPANY" music by Sondheim, Book by Furth
Date: Mon. Oct. 16, 12:30 am
Quicktake on COMPANY

”Company”s back in town, having previewed here in 1970. Speakeasy’s director Paul Daigneault has gathered a first rate cast, including last year’s IRNE awardees for Best Musical Performances, Sean McGirk and Nancy E. Carroll, plus “BatBoy” veterans, Kerry Dowling, Sarah Chase, and Michael Mendiola as Bobby at the center of it all. From previous Speakeasy musical productions, there’s Jerry Bisantz, Julie Jirousek, and Merle Perkins, plus Elaine Theodore from last season’s “...121st St.”, who makes it threw the fastest song in the show without hyperventilating. Most of the songs in this show are ensemble numbers. The experience and training of this cast pays off, under Paul Katz’s sure hand as music director. If you’ve never caught this landmark Sondheim show, you probably won’t see a better production anytime soon. And it’s worth revisiting, the 1995 modifications and the addition of “Marry Me a Little” as the first act closer are improvements, balancing the conflicts within the main character. And there’s Carroll’s eleven o’clock number, “The Ladies who Lunch”, which the originator is playing in her one woman show down the street at much higher prices. The new space is impressive to say the least; just watch your step.
"Company " by Stephen Sondheim and Geo, Furth, Oct. 14 - Nov. 12
Speakeasy Stage Co.at Roberts Studio Thtr, BCA
Calderwood, 537 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600
Speakeasy Stage Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”Richard III" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Sun. Oct. 17, 12:05 am

Director Ben Evett’s choice of John Kuntz as “Richard III” pays off in surprising ways. For once the role is not quite a star turn. We get a deformed Richard, withered are and spidery fingers at war with the world, up against seasoned campaigners from both his own family, York, and their War of Roses opponents, Lancaster. The all-star local cast gives as good as they get, even though of course Richard Crookback does a significant number of them in; at least in Shakespeare’s version, based on Thomas More’s histography told to him by the future saint’s patron, Thomas Morton, one of the actual Richard’s enemies. For the record, More’s calumny was never published in his lifetime, but completed and brought forth by his relatives after his execution in their on-going struggle with Henry VIII. There might be a play in that too.

But now in historic Old South, used quite effectively for this production, there’s a modern dress ensemble playing a bare bones three hour reduced text. The woman, headed by associate artistic director, Sarah Newhouse, as Anne take on the spider king, with Paula Plum as exotic Margaret of Anjou, one of the original instigators of brawl, Jennie Israel as the wife of Edw. IV, the sickly Yorkist who dies part way into the play, and Bobbie Steinbach as Richard’s feisty mother, the Duchess. Marya Lowry makes it five, playing Buckingham as a Duchess. Ken Cheeseman as Hastings, Richard Snee as Stanly, David Evett as the Bishop of Ely, and Allyn Burrows as both Clarence and Catesby are all outstanding. There few if any letdowns, and the four boys in the show will probably improve working in this company. After overdone productions at the ART and the summer extravaganzas on the Common, it’s refreshing to lean back in a pew and hear the play as it might have been in Blackfriar’s centuries ago,
”Richard III" by Wm. Shakespeare, Oct. 12 - Nov. 7
Actors’ Shakespeare Project at Old South Meeting House
310 Washington St. Downtown Crossing, (866) 811 - 4111 (Theatre Mania)
Actors’ Shakespeare Co.

Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2004 09:11:31 -0400
From: Ann Carpenter anncarpenter@comcast.ne
Subject: Hi Larry--no reviewers there last night so here's my Quick Take

Run don't walk to the latest Theatre Zone production "Cooking With Elvis" in Chelsea at the Chelsea Theatre Works. Cooking With Elvis was a hit at the 2000 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is very rarely done in the Boston area.This Theatre Zone production is hilarious, touching , and extremely well-acted. Last night's opening night crowd laughed and hooted raucously throughout the show and kept applauding long after the curtain call. The dysfunctional family in this show includes an anorexic mother, a teenage daughter obsessed with cooking, an Elvis impersonator dad who is paralyzed from a car accident and mom's live-in lover who has issues of his own. Stephen Libby's Elvis numbers are worth the price of admission alone but all the performances are top-notch. Susan Paino's costume designs especially her Elvis costumes are very well done and deliciously flashy. I know...I know.. Chelsea??Where's Chelsea?? It's too far!! Guess What? From Boston it's the first exit over the Bridge. Closer than the Stoneham Theatre. Closer than Hovey. Closer than Company Theatre or New Rep or Turtle Lane. And it's housed in a beautifully restored historic building with an art gallery in the lobby!! For more information go to www.theatrezone.org or call 617 8872336. This production is definitely one to put at the top of your list.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Sonia Flew" by Melinda Lopez
Date: Thurs, Oct 14, 2004 12:05 AM
Quicktake on SONIA FLEW

     While there's plenty of time to catch Melinda Lopez' "Sonia Flew", au courant theatre goers will want to fly down to the new Wimberley proscenium stage at the BCA to catch this intriguing and emotional drama. The first rate cast of six (playing twelve characters) is headed by Carmen Roman, a veteran of the New York and Chicago scene, in the title role (at first). Jeremiah Kissel and Will Lebow do their usual outstanding jobs. Zabryna Guevera, who appeared as the heroine's vivacious Latin friend in "Breathe Boom" is equally strong as young Sonia's mother. Amelia Alvarez is develops depth as young Sonia and is convincing as her American teenage daughter. Jose Quintanilla is equally believable as Sonia's college age son. The play begins shortly after 9/11/2001 and flashes back forty years to Havana, 5/1961, and lays out the situation with remarkable economy. The script is short enough at present that the playwright could add a bit more breathing room without sacrificing the intensity. The show is as completely produced as anything on the Huntington mainstage (which perhaps should be given back its original name, the Mystic). The season has had several interesting openings so far, but this is probably the first must-see production. With a run of six weeks, there's no excuse to miss it.

"Sonia Flew" by Melinda Lopez, Oct. 12 - Nov. 28
Huntington Theatre Company in the Wimberley at the Calderwood Pavilion
BCA, 537 Tremont St, (617) 933 - 8600 Huntington Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Another American: Asking and Telling" by Marc Wolf
Date: Sun, Oct 10, 10:33 PM

     Boston Theatre Works' presentation of Marc Wolf's interview based solo show is an interesting counterbalance to the freewheeling offerings in Theatre Offensive's annual festival. This Obie winning indictment of the American military's hypocritical "don't ask; don't tell" policy is perhaps the best civic's lesson in today's theatre. Wolf's performance, originally directed by Joe Mantello, as he morphs from soldier to soldier, from lesbian nurse to decorated Marine, with no costume changes, takes Anna Deveare Smith's documentary style to a new level. It's unfortunate that political theatre of this quality won't be seen by those in power. Such drama certainly needs to be seen by everyone else, regardless of their political or sexual orientation. This show is a reminder that the power of reality theatre, even when done by a lone performer on a bare stage, far exceeds the dross on reality TV.

"Another American: Asking and Telling" by Marc Wolf, Oct. 7 - 23
presented by Boston Theatre Works at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont St. South End, (617) 933 - 8600 Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Jasper Lake" by John Kuntz
Date: Sat, Oct 9, 11:19 PM
Quicktake on JASPER LAKE

     There's a lot going on under the surface of "Jasper Lake", John Kuntz's disturbing comedy premiering at Boston Playwrights' for one more week. It's not clear that the author, the director, or the cast knows exactly what's happening in a Landford Wilsonesque look into the lives of the inhabitants of this exclusive community. The action has a life of its own, making this definitely a developmental production, somewhat puzzling but generally rewarding. A first rate cast includes B.U. students of various ages and experience plus Jennifer Burke as Deb, Bill Molnar as Mitch, and Sharon Mason as his wife, Nora. Bill Gardiner is Deb's long-suffering husband, Edouard Tournier is their moody son, Caleb. At the center of the action are two young women with a psychic connection, Amanda Sywak as Jennifer, Nora's daughter, and Sarah Abrams as Liz, who's somehow drawn to the lake. Eric Gould is Drake, Liz's traveling companion, perhaps the most stable one of the lot. And he's a roadie.
The simple set centers around a movable empty bathtub, serving as a multipurpose metaphor. Director Douglas Mercer keeps the action flowing from scene to scene between two neighboring houses and the lake, abetted by Eric Larson's economical lighting and a spare sound design by Haddon Kime. The 95-minute production is entered in this year's Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Future productions are definitely called for, by independent repertory theatres looking for a challenge or perhaps even community theatre groups. See it now and watch for it later.
"Jasper Lake" by John Kuntz, Oct. 7 - 17
Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave., Allston MA (617) 358 - 7529 Boston Playwrights' Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Small Infinities" by Alan Brody
Date: Wed, Oct 6,

This staged reading of Alan Brody's play examining the mind of Isaac Newton was a preliminary effort of the Catalyst Collaborative. This project combines the Underground Railway Theatre, the M.I.T. Office for the Arts, and Massachusetts playwright Jon Lipsky to brings playwrights and scientists together to create new works whichexplore themes in science and technology. Brody's play, a short two act biodrama which Lipsky directed, explores various paradoxes in Newton's personality , particularly his belief in mathematical proof while at the same time practicing illicit alchemy. Audience reaction was positive, due largely to strong performances. The discussion afterwards suggested that more historical context might more fully ground the drama. There's certainly room for expansion and complication.

Richard McElvain read Newton, forcefully as expected, developing a fascinating character in the process. Veteran actor Jim Bodge was a genial Robert Hooke, the mathematician's elder rival in the field of optics. Nat McIntyre played Nicholas Fatio de Dullers, a young mathematician from the Continent enamored of Isaac, who was unable to return his passion. Debra Wise, Artistic Director of URT played Catherine Barton, Newton's cousin, a woman of the world, eager to use him to enter London society. Kathleen Donahue read his mother, Michael Ouellette his long suffering friend, the astronomer Edmund Halley, and Dale Place, the Greenwich astronomer John Flamsteed. Robert Murphy had a brief comic turn as a counterfeiter. One of Newton's less-celebrated achievements was when as Master of the Mint he reformed its operations and provided much needed stable currency.

The Catalyst Collaborative plans to fully produce one such play a year at the new Central Square Theatre, a facility which will be shared by Underground and Nora. The next URT reading of Debra Wise's latest project, "A State of Grace", based on the short stories and poems of writer and activist Grace Paley, will be held at Durrell Hall in the Cambridge YMCA on Mass. Ave across from City Hall on Nov. 16.
"Small Infinities" by Alan Brody, Oct. 6
Underground Railway Theatre & M.I.T. Office for the Arts at 10 - 250
Halfway down the Infinite Corridor Underground Railway

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Taming of the Shrew" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date:Sat, Sept 25, 8:40 AM

     Leave your critical analysis of the Bard behind and heigh thee out to Waltham for the last weekend of Hovey Players informal production of "The Taming of the Shrew". Michelle Aguillon in the lead makes an effective Kate the shrew and Josh Bartok, returning to acting, is a not so antic Petruchio. Stephen Falcone could steal the show as Christopher Sly and later Vincentio, but somehow the Induction and the main play haven't quite melded in this production. Brian Busch and Emily Evans make a nice pair as Lucentio and Bianca, while the rest of the ensemble, Stephen Falcone, Mike Haddad, Eric Houghton, A.J. LaDuke, Neal Leaheey, Jim Muzzi, Andy O'Kane, and Christopher Wrenn get their licks in whenever director Wayne Vargas let's them, and probably a few times he didn't count on. The production doesn't solve feminist objections to the play's premise, but the generally comic tone balances things out nicely. Now which local theatre group'll be the first to stage John Fletcher's sequel to "The Shrew", "A Woman's Prize or the Tamer Tamed", which recently ran in rep with the original in D.C.?
"The Taming of the Shrew" by Wm. Shakespeare, Sept. 17 - Oct. 2
Hovey Players at Abbott Theatre
Waltham, (781) 893 -9171 Hovey Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Approaching Moomtaj" by Michael Weller
Date: Sat, Sept 18, 11:11 AM

     This "fairy tale for adults" does eventually get to "Happily ever after", though the route is a bit tortuous. Still in development, this latest response to the national malaise stemming from 9/11/2001, is worth seeing for all its current foibles. Weller has let his imagination loose, and the result is often realistic scenes full of insight and quirky dream sequences. Rick Lombardo, given the usual short rehearsal period, with the help of a superb ensemble, has crafted an darkly humorous production. Robert Prescott in from LA is a compelling leading man as Walker Dance/ Sir Robert, while Thomas Derrah from the ART constructs two related but unique types as Wylie Dancer/Sufi Sid with his usual flair. The whole cast plays dual roles in the domestic drama set uptown in Manhattan and in the computer induced fantasy.
Walker's wife Kelly is played by an extremely self-assured Rachel Harker, a New Rep regular who's graced other local stages. Harker gets to cut loose as Queen Aunt Noor in Moomtaj, the scene of Walker's dream. Lordan Napoli, seen last winter with John Kuntz in "The Kringle Cult" is charming as Walker's recent fling Madeline the cellist and comically inventive as Mawan, the court musician. Natalie Brown from Hartford Stage, seen last at New Rep in "The Real Thing" as Faith, Walker's therapist, has some unique moments trying to question him with a mouth full of Novacaine from a root canal, and is reduced to the palace maid-of-all work in the fantasy. Rounding out the cast is local student Jacob Brandt who plays Walker's young son and the presumably deaf/blind Prince in the fantasy and Liberian body builder, Kevin Topka, as A Bahkt, a video game assailant brought to life. Weller couldn't ask for a better ensemble for this world premiere.
There have been recent calls for more world premiere's in the area. Here's one by a noted American playwright with a great deal of current resonance, warts and all. The technical support with a set by Janie E. Howland, executed by Wooden Kiwi, multi-media by Dorian Des Lauriers, original music by Haddon Kime, and costumes by Frances Nelson McSherry, award-winners all, is equal to just about anything you're liable to see in town or even in the Big Apple. Go decide what Weller's saying; there's a lot worth thinking about in this script. "Approaching Moomtaj" by Michael Weller, Sept. 15 - Oct. 17
New Repertory Theatre in Newton Highlands
54 Lincoln St. Newton, (617) 332 - 1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Antigone" by Sophocles, adapted by Richard McElvain
Date:Sun, Sept 19, 8:03 PM
Quicktake on ANTIGONE

     Anyone anticipating stately cadences and the overblown poetry often associated with Greek Tragedy, or perhaps a chorus on stilts, will find Nora Theatre's current offering much more direct. Daniel Gidron, working from a text adapted by Richard McElvain, has directed a modern dress version that is both contemporary and timeless. McElvain as Creon, Jocasta's brother and the effective ruler of mythical Thebes, a modern city in revolt, is the archetypical bureaucratic ruler. But his tragedy becomes personal as he collides with the will of Antigone, Oedipus' older daughter by Jocasta, who disobeys her uncle's decree and buries her younger brother, killed by her older brother during the rebellion. The personal and the political are inevitably intertwined as Marianna Bassham playing the title role drives the action to her death.
This first of Sophocles' three explorations concerning the doom of the house of Cadmus, which tells the end of the story, is supported in this tight production by a six person chorus, who also fill other roles in the plot. Jessica Burke plays Ismene Antigone's younger sister, while Donna Sorbello plays both Cassie, Creon's personal assistant and his doomed wife, Eurydice. Jim Spencer is Haemon, Creon's son, Antigone's fiance, while Ed Peed plays the almost comic guard, and Sylvia Ann Soares predicts Creon's ultimate downfall as Tiresias, the blind prophet. Eric Mello is both final messengers, as well as appearing to Antigone as the shade of her dead brother, the rebel Polynices, one of the few additions to this classic tale. As chorus, the group functions mostly as Creon's staff and ultimately witness to his downfall. The connection between ancient fable and modern political circumstances is subtle but clear.
An abstract and sterile architectural backscene with a graffiti scrawled cementblock wall to one side, designed by Brynna Bloomfield serves as the setting. Dewey Dellay's musical soundscape helps drive the action as does Kathy Peter's lighting, which includes a sweeping searchlight. Jacqueline Dalley's modern dress interpretation is economical and effective, allowing the chorus to assume their separate roles without confusion. Of all the productions of an ancient tragedy seen here recently, this effort is most consistent and effective, with no intruding political or aesthetic agendas, allowing the original to have its say, and appropriately borrowing lines from a later poet, such as "What a piece of work is man?" to reinforce the message.
"Antigone" by Sophocles,Sept. 16 - Oct. 3
Nora Theatre at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 491 - 2026 Boston Playwrights Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand
Date:Sat, Sept 18,

     The production this summer at Barrington was grander, but not necessarily more heartfelt, and certainly not cast as diversely. Lesley Chapman and her ensemble have achieved a sincere slightly over two hour long rendition of this classic, to kick off a season of Heroes. Peter Brown is a creditable Cyrano, the young lovers, played by Marc Harpin and Janelle Mills are in fact young, and just a bit foolish. Luis Negron is appropriately aristocratic as Comte DeGuiche, and Theatre Coop veteran Tony Dangerfield is his usual self as Ragneau, man of all work and friend of all poets. Rostand's timeless magic works, especially when reduced to a reasonable size. Most of the ensemble has been seen either at the Coop or in other adventurous local venues. All in all, the show is worth the trip over to Broadway, Somerville.
"Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand, Sept. 17 - 0ct. 9
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House Theatre
277 Broadway, Somerville, (617) 625 - 1300 Theatre Cooperative

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - the Who's "TOMMY" by Pete Townsend et al.
Date: Sun, Sep 12, 9:42 AM
Quicktake on TOMMY

     Whether or not it qualifies as an opera, the current revival of "Tommy" at Stoneham is high-energy musical theatre with an engaging proto-star in the lead. "Star Search" winner Jake Simpson has the charisma required for the lead, and could easily move onto a career in musical theater, except that he'll probably get rich first as a pop star. At times his acting is better than his singing, but maybe that's the music, which has it's weak points. And the ensemble backing him is a powerhouse comprised of first rate local and regional talent, plus some very good teens from Stoneham's own Youth Theatre. Not to mention tiny Emily Sheeran as four year old Tommy who could steal the show if she wasn't so professional. Unless you absolutely can't stand R&R, don't miss this production with a solid band under Angelyn Fullerton, directed and choreographed by Robert Jay Cronin, on a constantly changing set devised by Charlie Morgan. It's not that hard to get to Stoneham. And don’t believe everything you read in the papers.

"Tommy" by Peter Townsend, Sept. 9 - Oct. 3
Stoneham Theatre
125 Main St. Stoneham MA, (781) 291 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Little Night Music" by Steven Sondheim
book by Hugh Wheeler after Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night"
Date: Mon, Sept 13, 10:33 AM

     Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" may be even more convoluted than Bergman's classic film. If you haven't seen either, briefly the show follows the romantic misadventures of a fiftyish lawyer, Fredrik Egerman in early 1900th century Sweden. He's just remarried to a very young second wife, Anne, who's younger than his grown son Henrik. The boy's a sombre sort studying to become a minister and madly in love with his new step-mother. And his father's still in love with his former mistress, a well-known leading lady, Desiree Armfeldt. This woman of the world is currently dallying with Count Carl-Magnus, a doltish dragoon, who's wife Charlotte tolerates his endless affairs. When Anne senses Fredrik's affection for Desiree one night at the theatre, after which Fredrik goes to visit her for the first time in years, and is discovered by the Count, the farce gets rolling. Carl-Magnus sends Charlotte to spill the beans about Fredrik and Desiree. Desiree gets her mother, a former courtesan, to invite the Egerman's including Henrik for a weekend in the country. The Count finds out about it and plans to crash the party with Charlotte in tow. And that's the first act.

    Under the midnight sun of a Scandinavian summer, everything is sorted out after a fashion, under the watchful eyes of a chorus of five Liebsleiders who provide a running musical commentary on events from the beginning, as well as expressing the principals inner thoughts. Maryann Zschau as Desiree winds up with Chris Chew as Fredrik, Lianne Grasso as Anne runs off with Billy Piscopo's Henrik, and even Leigh Barrett's Countess Charlotte is briefly reconciled with Drew Poling's Carl-Magnus. And Bobbie Steinbach's Mme. Armfelt watches it all, together with young Andrea C. Ross as Fredrika, Desiree's daughter. "A Little Night Music" is probably Sondheim's most durable show and amply repays revisiting every few years. Don't be put off by the scaffolding and netting around the Copley YWCA. The Lyric Stage Company's production inside is one of the finest they've ever done. And the building renovation includes new bathrooms! And better dressingrooms. Their 31st season is off to a great start.

"A Little Night Music" by Steven Sondheim, Sept. 10 - Oct. 16
Lyric Stage Company in Copley Sq.
140 Clarendon St., (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Company.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "NINE" by Kopit & Yeston
Date: Fri, Aug 27, 11:29 PM
Quicktake on NINE

     North Shore's current production of "Nine", the Fratti/Kopit/Yeston musical version of Fellini's psychologically autobiographical masterpiece "8 1/2" is not quite their best work, but a worthwhile attempt nevertheless. Daytime drama star Robert Newman as Guido Contini doesn't charm the audience enough to gain sympathy, which makes the whole evening rather flat. His strong Broadway female co-stars, who deserve more publicity that they've gotten, are also much more musically interesting, though not entirely believable either. Josie de Guzman turns in a solid performance as Luisa, the wife, somewhat blunted by her stature and funerial costume. Milena Govich makes the most of Carla, the vamp, in spite of some weak staging and an unattractive black wig. Blonde Amanda Serkasevich, Guido's muse, is appropriately charming as Claudia and carries Newman in the duet that opens the short second act. Other first-rate performances are Inga Ballard as Saraghina, the woman on the beach (but tamborine-less), Melissa Hart as Guido's mother, and local Beth McVey as Lilliane La Fleur, his producer and former Folies Bergeres headliner.
The show would be less somber if costumer Alan Michael Smith hadn't tried to suggest a black and white movie by using basically black and white costumes, with very few changes. This worked in '82 on Broadway, but doesn't work in the round. Set designer Russell Parkman hasn't made maximum use of NSMT technical facilities, striving for a simplicity that doesn't illuminate the show. Nor did director Barry Ivan, who's done a number of shows at NSMT including last season's "West Side Story", make full use of in-the-round staging, perhaps reflecting the simplicity of the set. The cast of 19 echoes the recent Broadway version, giving an almost a concert feel to the show. Unfortunately the Yeston songs aren't concert quality. But if you didn't get to see the Banderas version in NYC or weren't lucky enough to catch Vokes Players stunning version in 2001, NSMT's current effort might be worth the trip to Beverly. Any touring version passing through downtown probably won't be as good.
"NINE", book; Arthur Kopit based on Mario Fratti's play, music & lyrics; Maury Yeston, Aug. 24 - Sept.12
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverley MA , (978) 323 - 7200
North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Music Man" by Meredith Wilson
Date: Sat, Aug 144 1:02 AM
Quicktake on THE MUSIC MAN

     The Reagle players end their 36th season with their best show since their IRNE winning "Singin' in the Rain" Once again, local anchorman Scott Wahle plays the lead, one that suits him. Opposite his Prof. Harold Hill is last year's stunning Eliza Doolittle, Sarah Pfisterer, as Marion the Libarian. Cheryl MacMahon, who did her first Reagle show last month as Miss Lynch in "Grease", almost gets away with as much scene stealing playing Eulalie MacKechnie Shinn, the mayor's wife. But there's kids in the show, Emily Paley as Amaryllis and Sam Blumenfeld as Winthrop, so no mere grown-up has a chance, though voice actor Robert Lydriad comes close at Marcellus. Emerson student Jenny Sinerate has risen through the Youth Theatre ranks to score in her third role this summer, the mayor's daughter Zaneeta. The mayor is a veteran of 26 Reagle seasons, "Jerry" Walker and Darcy Pullam is wonderfully Irish as Marion's mother.
The music's fine under Jeffrey P. Leonard's baton in the pit, with Karen Gahagan guiding the chorus. Robert Eagle does this kind of show with sure hand, abley assisted by Eileen Grace, Reagle's Radio City Music Hall connection and resident choreographer Susan M. Chebookjian, who captures Onna White's original choreography with an impressive group of young dancers. Plus this year's set, designed by James Fouchard and master scenic artist Robert Moody is a shared effort done specifically for this production and one at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. Get out to Waltham--there's free parking--and wipe the memory of Disney's recent dismal television version from your memory. Wilson's tunes are as good as ever, the large cast is rock solid, and the parking's free.
"The Music Man" by Meredith Wilson, Aug. 12 - 21
Reagle Players at Robinson Theatre
Waltham High, (781) 891 - 5600 Reagle Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Richard III" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Mon, Aug 9, 9:56 AM

     New England Shakespeare Festival's "Richard III" has a large ensemble, an impressive collection of costumes, and is doing Shakespeare's second longest text virtually uncut. How they're doing it is somewhat debatable and just a bit off-putting. There's a bookholder prompting up left, actors carry cue scripts, and the acting ranges from melodramatic to downright campy. Some of the players are skillful and have their moments; Kim. H. Carrell in the title role doesn't get much beyond the basics most of the time however. Still, if you want to reconnect with the Histories, and haven't seen the fourth part of the Bard's epic treatment of the War of the Roses for a while, the company of around 20 playing over 50 roles will be at the Crane Estate in Ipswich next weekend. Check their website for details.

"Richard III" by Shakespeare, tour ends Aug 14 & 15
New England Shakespeare Festival at MIT; Crane Estate final weekend

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Merchant of Venice" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date:Fri, Aug 6, 9:12 AM

     Director Diego Arciniegas, who takes the title role in this production, has tried to broaden the usual focus of this sometimes controversial play. The unfortunate tale of Shylock is only part of the action, after all. IRNE winner Steven Barkhimer plays the part in a determined manner without resorting to histrionics. Antonio's passion for his friend Bassanio gets equal time. Nathaniel McIntyre does his best Shakespearean role to date in that part, playing opposite his wife Tracy Fischer who's a free-spirited Portia. She still needs to soften her vocal quality at times to support the verse, but will probably improve as she did last summer playing Olivia. Benjamin Lambert gets a lot of energy into Gratiano, while Kortney Adams plays Portia's companion Nerissa, his sweetheart, with flair. Ozzie Carnan Jr. makes what he can of Launcelot Gobbo, particularly when playing with Wm. Gardiner as Old Gobbo, his blind father. Carnan also carries off the Prince of Morroco with style. The ensemble is generally proficient playing the various subplots, and effective in period costuming with a Turkish touch by Rafael Jean. All in all the best production of this difficult script that the Publick has done in its 35 year run. And an interesting contrast to their production of "Troilus..." with many of the same actors which will return next week and alternate with "Merchant..." through Sept. 12.

"The Merchant of Venice" by Shakespeare, in rep. weekly through Sept. 5
Publick Theatre at Herter Park,
Soldiers Field Rd. Brighton, (617) 782 - 5425 Publick Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "A Clockwork Orange" adapted from his novel by Anthony Burgess
Date:Thurs, July 29, 11:16 PM

     There?s a play somewhere in Anthony Burgess? dystopian potboiler, ?A Clockwork Orange?. Company One hasn?t quite found it yet, but they have found a superb Alex in Raymond Ramirez. They?ve also worked hard on the violent physical action, with three people involved in the fight direction. Their efforts at dealing with Burgess? contrived ?droog? slang aren?t anywhere as successful. The rest of the cast of 15 tries hard to work with some 50 roles, and would be helped by strong rather than adequate costuming. Character development seems to have been left too much to the cast, with only Brian Fahey sufficiently over the top as the Chaplain, with Brian Quint coming close as both Deltoid the social worker and ther Minister of the Inferior--er Interior. Claire Shinkman, a WST regular does what she can with a series of minor characters, most of which could be taken much further. The same goes for Claire Carmichael. Joyeux Noel has a few interesting moments, going from the exotic dancer tormenting our hero to the researcher who breaks his conditioning and severalmore distinct personae. Mason Sand unfortunately doesn?t make much of Dr. Brodsky, whose treatment Alex falls victim to.
It almost seems like this show is a workshop in the early stages of development, with some clumsy scene-changes and marginal multi-media efffects. In the best of all possible worlds this effort would go back into the studio, get a character reduction and lose or shrink a few scenes, voice work, and some more rewrite. Maybe too the New York Dolls, whose participation has been the PR focus would have time to get creative with the score. At the present their music just does the job. Ramirez opening and closing narration is quite effective. More would help move Alex?s saga along.
But go see this effort for the leading role and to support a theatre who?s efforts have been improving exponentially. Which seems to have led to unreasonable critical expectations. Just don?t expect Kubrick?s cool irony or Burgess? intellectual puzzle.
"A Clockwork Orange" byAnthony Burgess, July 22 - Aug. 14
Company One at BCA Theatre
539 Tremont, (617) 426 - 2787 Company One

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Incorruptible" by Michael Hollinger
Date: Fri, July 16, 11:25 PM

     From "Incorruptible"'s capsule description, one might assume that Vokes Players' latest production, set in a 13th century monastery, is a satirical critique of the venality of the Roman church. While that element is implied, like most good farces the play's real focus is on human failings. Headed by Dan Kelley, the Scribe and David Berti, the Abbot, with Jeff Mahoney as high-born Brother Felix and Andy Brown as simple Brother Olf , plus reluctant recruit, the one-eyed Nobert nee Jack the minstrel, a seasoned cast plays the humor of the occasionally gruesome situation with aplomb. Add Mikki Lipsey as a hardnosed peasant worried about her cow, Aimee Doherty as her freespirited daughter--Jack's "sort of" wife--and Anne Damon as the Abbot's sister, the termegant Abbess of a convent one town away, and the action comes fast and furious. The show's as much about how these sinners got that way and ends with predictable but satisfying redemption. Timing is all, and director John Barrett leads his antic crew on a merry romp in less than two hours with intermission. Indeed, author Michael Hollinger might have taken a little more time to round out the play by developing his collection of characters more. But there's enough for everyone to think about after the laughter. The whole thing is after all driven by a desire to do good.
    The Vokes is small, their subscription list is large; reserve early for a chance to catch is entertainment before the end of the month. And watch for their Hundredth Anniversary celebration coming up in September.
"Incorruptible" by Michael Hollinger, July 15 - 31
Vokes Players at Beatrice Hereford's Vokes Theatre
Rt.20, Wayland MA, (509) 358 - 4034 Vokes Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Grease" by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey
Date:Sat, July 10, 9:37 AM
Quicktake on GREASE

     The first time Turtle Lane did "Grease" it was 1981, which was also the last time until this summer's revival. There are performers in this 1971 parody of early R&R whose parents did it. There were old hands in the audience groovin' along with the music while the younger set cheered their friends on. It's got a good long run a good long run, the already respectable pace will probably pick up. Some microphone support would help balance singers with the band, which is visible through the giant juke box which forms the back of Jeff Gardiner's set.
     This productions, directed by Jennifer Condon, is worth a visit. It might even be interesting to compare the efforts of these earnest young performers who really fit their parts with the Reagle Players' more professional effort which opens for a three week run next weekend. In either case, the infectious nostalgia of this evocation of rock'n'roll high school movies is suitable summer fare for parents and teenagers alike. And anyone who's "Born to Hand-Jive."
"Grease " by Jacobs & Casey, July 9 - Aug 15
Turtle Lane Playhouse
283 Melrose St, Newton (Auburndale) MA (617) 244 - 0169 Turtle Lane Playhouse

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Troilus and Cressida" (1602) by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Thurs, July 15, 11:03 pM

     The Publick Theatre has fielded a cast of 21 sturdy Shakespeareans for a straighforward production of the Bard's version of a New Tragedy, a story from the middle of the Iliad. The two young people in the title, Priam's youngest son and the daughter of a Trojan priest who defects to the Greeks are played by Kawa Ada, a young Canadian/Afghani who studied at Boston Conservatory and Angie Jepson who's in the graduate acting program at Brandeis. Both are welcome additions to the local scene. The show's director, IRNE winning actor Steven Barkhimer, playing Ulysses delivers the famous speech on Time with real impact, as he attempts to rouse Douglass Brown Flynn's Achilles. The relationship between the latter and his companion Patroclus played by Eric Hamel is quite open with only the slightest hint of camp. Hamel also doubles as Priam's priestly son Helenus The busiest doubler is stalwart Richard LaFrance who plays Helen's Greek husband, Menelaus, Priam's son Magarelon (briefly) and the Trojan general Antenor exchanged for Cressida. The cast is proficient at switching between the Attic dress of the Greeks and the more Oriental attire of the Trojans, all designed by Troy Siegfried.
     Last season's Audrey, Elizabeth Wightman, is Helen resplendent in white drapery while associate artistic director Susanne Nitter, Viola last year, takes the small but significant role of Cassandra, Priam prophetic daughter. Bill Gardiner, who did Puck and Feste last year, turns in another interesting performance as Pandarus, Cressida's uncle who brings the lovers together. Gerard Slattery really hits his stride as Thersites, the scurrilous Greek clown knocked about by all and sundery. Nathaniel McIntyre plays a stalwart Hector, whose slaughter by the Myrmidons, Achilles' special troops, is the climax of the action. The series of vigorous and stylized battles leading up to this were staged by Kim H. Carrell, a seasoned fight director with the touring N.E. Shakespeare Festival. Seth Ridge's Paris is impressive as a two-handed fighter. There are solid performances by Daniel Minkle as the blustery Ajax and James Bodge as the elder Nestor.
     Not only is this production a chance to see one of the Bard's less popular pieces but the company has done a solid and inventive show which makes clear the futility and frustration of war. The whole question of allegiance and interest which has been part of the Drama since the Greeks invented the form 2500 years ago is clearly on the table. The doubts Shakespeare raised about politics and the reasons for war 404 years ago are with us today.
"Troilus & Cressida" by Wm. Shakespeare, June 10 - Sept 12 (in rep w/ "Merchant" starting July 29)
Publick Theatre on Soldier's Field Rd
Herter Park, Brighton (617) 782 - 5425 Publick Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"; book by Linda Wolverton
Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice
Date: Fri., July 9, 11:47 PM

     North Shore Music Theatre's crowd-pleasing new production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is an interesting reworking of the Broadway franchise. Unlike the touring show displayed downtown in past seasons, scenery doesn't dominate the action, and the fantastic costumes are more performance oriented. Youngsters addicted to the video will notice differences in the storyline more than adults. Both will recognize the the theme song and palette. And "Be Our Guest" is the big showstopper, with 3/4 of the 31 person cast onstage just before intermission. The rest of the Menken's movie-music operetta is merely pleasant, and most of Ashman and Rice's lyrics remain eminently forgettable, though workmanlike in context.
     But the fairy tale still works. Nikki Renee Daniels, last seen at NSMT as Sarah, the tragic heroine in "Ragtime", is a plucky petite Belle. Brad Little, seen on the road as the "Phantom" plays the tormented human side of the Beast from the start. It's satisfying to watch the romance all work out, even with the Hollywood imposed distraction of Brian Noonan's Gaston. The book doesn't take that melodramatic blowhard much beyond the original cartoon, so his put-upon sidekick, Lefou, played by Jeff Skowron is actually more interesting. It's the humans turning into objects who ultimately make the show however.
     Their costumes, created by Miguel Angel Huidor, do reflect the period of the classic French fairytale as promised. Ron Wisniski's Lumiere is more the gent than a candlestick, Jessica Leigh Brown, his main interest Babette, is an amusing french maid turned featherduster. Jeanne Lehman, Mrs. Potts the housekeeper, handles the title song with grace and only incidentally resembles a teapot. Her son Chip, young Ari Shaps, remains perky while being wheeled around in a teacart and spinning around on a stool inside. Dick DeCareau as Cogsworth the Butler is appropriately precise, while Gina Ferrall, as Madame Bouche the erstwhile opera singer turning into a chest of drawers is imposing. This strong ensemble, quite musically gifted as well, forms the core of the show and the actual catalyst for the romance.
Fans of contemporary hard-edged music drama, full of angst, sexual ambiguity, and social problems won't even think of seeing this one, which will leave more seats for families and those seeking a good old-fashioned entertainment. The former can wait for "Nine", NSMT's next offering, the latter should reserve seats now. The projected scenes over the audience provide context, NSMT mechanical lifts, turntable and sliding set pieces provide variety, lights and sound are impeccable as usual, and Bill Stanley's orchestra provides a rich and lively sound. The show would be a better introduction to live theatre than balcony seats for the upcoming "Lion King" at the same price. And there's free parking and no DNC traffic problems at the end of the month.
"Beauty and the Beast" by Wolverton, Menken, Ashman & Rice, July 6 - Aug. 1
North Shore Music Theatre at Dunham Woods
Beverly MA , (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Afterthought - "Seussical" by AUTHOR
Date: Thur, July , 8:45 AM
Afterthought on SEUSSICAL

     Reagle's farm-team, their Youth Theatre, under the direction of Deborah Peros-Finnell and Joanne Peros Sinerate put on a lively version of Ahren's and Flaherty's Broadway effort last week. The show, which was the last major musical to tryout in Boston --if you don't count "Marty", which seems to be on terminal hold--still has storyline problems. Add to this an overstuffed cast, and the production was not quite as polished as previous YT efforts. They also had to move to a new venue, since the old one's been demolished. The sightlines are better, the acoustics are typical of school architecture, including a noisy air-handling system, and the lighting rudimentary. There really is no excuse for the bad architecture and mediocre equipment foisted on American schools.
     But the kids did their best and miking helped. Angela Richardson as The Cat in the Hat has real stage presence, Peter Romagna was an endearing Horton, and Jen Sokoliski shone as Gertrude McFuzz. Sabrina Ruffin had the sound power for the Sour Kangaroo, though the role still doesn't make a lot of sense. Others did well enough with their parts, even the big kid in the rented Grinch suit (not really a good idea.) The several musical theatre organizations around the area who run youth programs are all to be commended for providing opportunities for musical theatre often sadly lacking in local schools. The two director/choreographers and Brian J. Paulsen didn't stint in their efforts to make this a strong experience for the cast.
     "Seussical", like "Honk" risks being dismissed as a children's musical, as one snide newspaper scribe did. It would be interesting to see what a small producing company like Turtle Lane, Vokes, or even Stoneham could do with the show, given sixteen or so experienced performers and four or more hardworking puppeteers. There are various minor characters, events, and variations in scale in the show which could be better done using a variety of contemporary puppetry techniques than the scurrying about written into the current book.
"Seussical - the Musical" by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty, June 30 & July 1
Reagle Players Youth Theatre at McDivitt Middle School
Church St. Waltham Cntr, Reagle Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "King John" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: June 18 - July 4
Quicktake on KING JOHN

     The Town Cow Company started presenting free outdoor Shakespeare around the summer solstice three years ago. Their first production was a "transcendental" version of "Timon of Athens", with director Thomas Caron in the title role. Last summer he played Hamlet, and this summer the company is tackling the seldom-seen "King John". An offshoot of the venerable Concord Players, some members of the Town Cow--see their website for an explanation of the name as well as directions--have been workshopping Shakespeare for some time. Their stage is the lawn of a small park next to a large church, backed this year by rented black and purple drapes. There's a free standing staircase and a small platform for the wooden armchair which serves as a throne. It's all natural light and sound, which means the actors occasionally have to compete with commuter jets from nearby Hanscom Field. Still the play works and the fiberglass chairs are comfortable.
     Caron is effective as King John, though the most dynamic character in the play is Philip Faulconbridge, who's known as the Bastard of Richard Lionheart, John's brother, the previous King. Jay Newlon plays this part with relish. The strong female part of Constance, the widow of Lionheart's middle son Geoffrey, and mother to Prince Arthur, who the King of France is willing to support as the rightful king, is vividly played by Lida McGirr. John McAullife does yeoman service as Phillip of France, and Kevin Shoemaker is a dashing Dauphin. Myron Feld is appropriately servile as Hubert, a politician from Angiers who sides with John and is prepared to do in Arthur, well-played by Alexander Brako Sayde. This is one of those histories where a list of relationships and/or politically affiliations helps sort out the action. Tony Dangerfield, as Cardinal Pandulph, is the only one whose loyalties aren't in question. Find a synopsis before heading off to Concord for the last weekend of performances. You're not likely to see a better two hour production of this piece around here otherwise.
"The Life & Death of King John" by Wm. Shakespeare, Jun 18 - July 4
Town Cow Theatre Company in Ann Cunningham Park Monument Sq. Concord MA,
Town Cow Theatre Co.

P.S. The Publick Theatre starts their summer repertory June 8 with ?Troilus & Cressida? which runs through the DNC, then to be joined by July 29 by ?The Merchant of Venice? which plays in rep with ?Troilus...? through Sept. 12. Check their Website; Publick Theatre; for schedule and directions.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Midsummer Night's Dream" by Will Shakespeare
Date: Sat, Jun 26, 5:17 PM

     It was mostly overcast, but any showers held off from dampening the Commonwealth Shakespeare's Parks Tour opening on the Common today. If only the sound system was as cooperative. Everyone soldiered on the several times that mikes cut out. This collegiate company of twelve is well cast and energetic, giving their all for this ninety minute version of the play. Director Douglas Mercer, with Shakespeare experience in Minneapolis and New York, starts the play with his company asleep on stage, then wakes them for a 1950's modern dress interpretation of the play done in contemporary fashion, which means a lot of physical comedy and undressing by the young lovers, stoogeryx5 from the rude mechanicals, and poetry in passing from Theseus & Hippolyta/Oberon&Titania who are of course double cast. The clever costuming is by Jessica Curtright. Teenagers should enjoy it.
     The next chance to catch this effective and unpretentious production, with an effective touring unit set by Christine Todesco, is Tues and Wed., 2pm June 29-30 at the Elma Lewis Theatre at the Playstead in Franklin Park. It'll tour around the city, skipping East Boston and Allston/Brighton this summer and have a final outing August 1 near the Parkman Bandstand, again on the Common. All shows are 2pm and of course free; watch for a review later in the week.
"Midsummer Night's Dream" by Will Shakespeare, June 26 - Aug 1
Commonwealth Shakespeare on Parade Ground, Boston Common
off Charles Street, (617) 532 - 1221 Commonwealth Shakespeare

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Miser (L'Avare)" adapted from Moliere
Date:Thurs, Jun 24, 12:03 AM
Quicktake on THE MISER

     The ART's 2003-2004 season ends much as it began, with an overlong evening. Dominic Serrand's "tragic" interpretation of Moliere's satire, freely adapted by Daniel Ball--who interpolated dialect comedy and scatalogical humor into the text-- at least has an intermission. Once again, however, an opening night audience was funneled out a single side door after the obligatory standing O with no access to the amenities. Those familiar with this classic and the circumstances surrounding its origins may find the Theatre de la Jeune Lune's approach interesting though slight. Most audiences will probably be alternatively bored, slightly confused, and only occasionally amused.
The cast, drawn largely from Serrand's Minneapolis based company, is very skilled at physical comedy but without much joy. Its co-founder, Stephen Epps, radiates obsession in the title role of Harpagon, which an ailing Moliere wrote for himself. ART veterans Karen McDonald as Frosine the matchmaker and Remo Airaldi as the schizophrenic Master Jacques--both cook and coachman--get the most satisfied laughs. Will LeBow, as the older romantic lead, Valere, has been given an overly serious characterization plus an accent which logically has touches of Italian and Spanish. Neither helps clarify his role. Wellesley Summer Theatre company member Bern Budd brings a sturdy dignity to Anselme, the outside character who solves the family's dilemma in the climax.
The female members of the company have the most radically reinterpreted roles. Sarah Agnew's Elise is played very skillfully as a frizzy-haired ninny emotionally crippled by despair. This doesn't leave much room for character development. Mariane, the ingenue, played by Natalie Moore, has had her dialogue "translated" into a kind of pidgin which is supposed to suggest her mysterious origins. Her convuluted speech provides opportunity for malaprop comedy, but does little for the play. Both women, as well as Frosine, are victims of post-modern indicative costume design, a quirky blending of period style with rummage sale oddities. As Cleante, the miser's son, Stephen Cartmell has the atrocity of the evening, a purple Mohawk wig and a bustle of ribands. Neither helps his overly bombastic acting.
Clearly the director means to suggest some sort of mass folie caused by Harpagon's stinginess and obsession with his gold. But the point is driven home over and over again, without much insight, including a somewhat baffling coda which includes a choral number. Once again, the ART has presented directorial excess as "Art", displaying a continuing distrust of original authors and contemporary actors abilities to interpret them for today's audiences without an imposed context.

"The Miser" adapted by Daniel Ball from Moliere, June 19 - July 18
ART in association with Theatre de la Jeune Lune at the Loeb
64 Brattle St. Harvard Square, (617) 547 - 8300 American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Advanced Notice - Summer Shakespeare
Date: June thru Sept.
ADVANCE NOTICE - Ther Bard in Greater Boston

     An extensive schedule of Shakespearean productions, which will beupdated whenever new information becomes available is posted ON THE AISLE. Send additions and corrections to the adress above. See you there.

"King John", ?Troilus and Cressida?, ?Two Gentlemen from Verona?, Measure for Measure?, etc. by Will Shakespeare, June thru Sept.
Various companies, frequently outdoors
from dowtown Boston to the suburbs to the Berkshires ON THE AISLE

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "West Side Story" , book by Laurents, music by Bernstein, lyrics by Sondheim
Date: Sat, Jun 19, 12:21 AM
Quicktake on WEST SIDE STORY

     "West Side Story", one of the landmarks in the development of American musical theatre opened on Broadway almost half a century ago. Jerome Robbins' choreography added immensely to the vocabulary of stage dance, Leonard Bernstein's music moved the form closer to Carnegie Hall than Tin Pan Alley, and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics marked him for future greatness. As the opening to Reagle Players 36th summer season, this production, which successfully recreates Robbins' efforts, is well worth the trip to Waltham. The bright young cast under Ken Leigh Rogers, senior dance lecturer at Carnegie Mellon, forms a tight ensemble with all the right moves, and voices when needed.
Stephen Brockway and Mary Tucker are satisfying as the star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria. Stacey Harris generates Latin heat as Anita, while David F. M. Vaughn and Adam Jacobs are menacingly real as rival gang leaders, Riff and Bernardo. Amy Shure is a ball of comic relief as Anybodys, in this case anybody's obnoxious kid sister. As Det. Schrank, New York actor Robert Ieardi looks and sounds the part, while Reagle veterans , Dan Kiley and Charley Borden, with local musical performer Craig Downs bring a sense of adult futility to the streetcorner world of the Sharks and the Jets. There's an especially competent orchestra under the baton of Jeffery P. Leonard from the music department at Lexington High. The choreography was recreated with exceptional style by Lori Leschner, a dance instructor at NYU with extensive professional experience, including tours of this show.
Reagle's season, which continues with July with "Grease" with some of the same performers and ends with Scott Wahle returning perfectly cast as "The Music Man", is off to a good start in their spacious home. Check the website for driving directions; there's always plenty of parking. And their Young Company is doing "Seussical" at the end of this month at a new location, the John W. McDivitt Middle School in Watham Center, much closer to the several buses and the commuter rail.
"West Side Story" book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein,
lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Reagle Players in Robinson Theatre, Waltham
Lexington St., (781) 891 - 5600 Reagle Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - Revivals of "Jane Eyre" and "After Mrs. Rochester " by Polly Teale
Date: Sun, Jun 13, 11:06 AM

     Those who missed "After Mrs. Rochester" last January have another chance to see this intriguing show, based on the life of author Jean Rhys, whose novel, "The Wide Sargasso Sea" is a semiautobiographical "prequel" to Charlotte Bronte's classic novel. And those who didn't catch the production of Polly Teale's adaptation of "Jane Eyre" in 2001, or who have fond memories of that excellent production, can see it in repertory with "After..." all this month at the Wellesley Summer Theatre. For the next two Saturdays , "...Eyre" is running in the afternoon at 3, with "After..." on at 8. Or there are plenty of chances to catch either on different nights.
     "Jane Eyre" reunites Alicia Kahn in the title role and Derek Stone Nelson as the tragic Edward Rochester, in performances which benefit from other shows they've done together. Kahn also plays Ella, Rhys as a girl in "After...", with Lisa Foley as the older author, and Melina McGrew as the omnipresent mad Bertha Mason, the first Mrs. Rochester. Kortney Adams, Ella's black playmate adds a new twist to the same part in "...Eyre". The large cast, most playing in both shows, is up to the increasingly professional standards of the company, and includes John Boller, Jim Butterfield, Steven Cooper, John Davin, Ken Flott, Richard LaFrance, Gladdy Matteosian, Charlotte Peed and Jackson Royal. Wellesley grads and students Sarah Barton, Heather Boas, Kelly Galvin, and Claire Shinkman along with Molly Weston from the Wellesley Summer Theatre for Children complete the company. For the original reviews and current casting , go to ON THE AISLE. Then get out to Wellesley, there are directions on their website. And the new parking garage adjacent to the theatre is open. It'll be worth the trip.
"Jane Eyre" and "After Mrs. Rochester " by Polly Teale, June 10 - 26
Wellesley Summer Theatre, Ruth Nagel Theatre, Alumnae Hall
Wellesley MA, (781) 283 - 2000 Wellesley Summer Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Body and Sold" by Deborah Lake Fortson
Date:Sun, June 13, 7:22 PM
Quicktake on BODY AND SOLD

     The two parts of this show, both derived from real life situations, while factually and thematically related don't come together in a dramatic whole. The first half, set in India, has an anthropological feel. While the purpose may be to allow the audience to feel removed from the problem, then bring them face to face with similar problems in this country, the result is a bit of compassion fatigue. Direct juxtaposition of scenes here and abroad might be more effective.
    However, the multiracial, almost multigenerational cast is effective in presenting the melodrama of country girls being lured into prostitution, an age old tale, despite the slow pace of the action at times. These are real stories. And in the second half, which takes to the mean streets all over this country, the ensemble becomes quite engaging, with many more overlapping situations. Everyone has their moments. The action is worth waiting for. Both sections a helped immensely by Vessela Stoyonova's live performance of her original music.
     Director/author Deborah Lake Fortson is trying to present a difficult continuing social problem. However, given the level of sensationalism in all the media, one's immediate reaction is unfortunately, "what else is new?" The decline in social services in this country has effected generations of youngsters across this country. Another exegesis on the subject seems almost exploitative. One might say that it is unlikely that we'll be able to do anything about the sexual exploitation of youngsters abroad, as in Central Europe, until we get our own house in order. But even preaching to the converted can't hurt. This developing show deserves support, and is a welcome counterweight to the endless narcissism which pervades many current works. The powers that be are unfortunately unlikely to see it, however.
"Body and Sold" by Deborah Lake Forston, June 10 -26
Tempest Productions at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 425 - 2787

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Afterthought - Seventeen Plays from Playwrights' Platform
Date: Sat, June 12, 2004 10:45 AM

     This year's Playwrights' Platform 32nd Annual Festival, one of the longest running new works series in the area, workshopped seventeen new short works by its members at Boston Playwrights' the past two weekends. Most pieces had been read at regular meetings over the past year. Several playwrights appeared in each others' or their own work, including Jerry Bisantz, G.L.Horton , Gail Phaneuf, and Rebecca Saunders. Most of the support staff were also regular participants in the Platform, though by in large directors for each project were drawn from various other theatre groups. Over the years the Platform has concentrated on unique character development and quirky situations. This year topics ranged from a comic rewrite of Sophocles' "Philoctetes" and a punny murder set in ancient Rome to contemporary issues, both comic and serious, reflecting the concerns and life experiences of their authors.
The second week's series was by and large the more successful, but both weekends had their highpoints. There were notable performances by Rocky Graziano in Alan Fowler's "Bliss", Jerry Bisantz in G.L.Horton's "Speed Dating with a Divorce Lawyer", Edward Sorell in Sean David Bennett's "Fall Out", and Ken Gottleib in Patrick Brennan's "Hack the Vote". For a complete list of authors and the Favorite awards from audiences and the participants, check out the Platform's website. Then finish that play. sign up for a reading, and perhaps see the results next year about this time.
"Playwrights' Platform Festival" , June 3 - 5, 10 - 12
Playwrights' Platform at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, Studio A
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, Playwrights' Platform

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Tom Jones" by George Stiles and Paul Leigh, etc.
Date: Fri, Jun 4, 9:55 AM
Quicktake on TOM JONES - the Musical

     It's hard to live up to the hype, let alone a fondly remembered Academy Award winning movie, but the award winning North Shore Music Theatre lives up to their own high standards in what amounts to a world premiere of this new version of Henry Fielding's rowdy 900 page novel. Director Gabriel Barre's whirlwind approach, Stiles' eclectic and informed musical theatre score, Leigh's witty lyrics, and a hardworking ensemble of consumate professionals, ten of whom play multiple roles makes for an unforgettable show. David Burnham grows on the audience as the title character, Angela Gaylor is a Broadway star in the making as Tom's true love, Sophia. Jeremy Webb, with some of the most interesting music in the show, is a consumate villain as the evil half brother. Sarah Gettlefinger, bound back to Broadway next season, is elegant as the amoral Lady Bellaston, Tom's entree in society's bedroom, while Michele Ragusa is a consummate comedienne as Mrs. Fitzpatrick, unsuccessfully lusting after our hero while fleeing her mad Irish husband played by Stephen Bienskie. A more complete review is posted ON THE AISLE.

"Tom Jones" by Stiles & Leigh, w/ Dan Brambilla, Vera Guerin, Gabe Barre, et al; Jun 1 - 20
North Shore Music Festival at Dunham Woods
Beverly MA, (978) 921 - 7874 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Advance Notice - "Tom Jones " by Paul Leigh and George Stiles
Date:,Tues May 25 5:52 PM,,
Advance notice for Tom Jones: the Musical, based on Fielding's novel

     Musical theatre fans are becoming increasingly aware that NSMT regularly presents shows which rival anything seen on the big stages in downtown Boston. Their next presentation, the American premiere of a revamped version of Paul Leigh and George Stiles "Tom Jones", its American premiere, may just up the ante. There hasn't been a new show with such promise since Flaherty and Ahrens "Seussical" lumbered into town almost four years ago. Stiles' most noted work is "Honk!" with Anthony Drew seen at NSMT in 2000, with whom he also did "Just So" seen there in 2001. With Paul Leigh he's also done the award-winning "Moll Flanders" and "The Three Musketeers" and the composer' s just provided new songs for Cameron McIntosh's "Mary Poppins" opening in London in December.
Directing this improved show is Gabriel Barre, who helmed last fall's "Memphis" premiere for NSMT. Barre directed Lippa's "The Wild Party" in New York for MTC, among his notable credits, and currently directing Frank Wildhorn's "Camille Claudel" and Kander and Ebb's musical adaptation of "Skin of Our Teeth". Producer Daniel D. Brambilla, CEO of the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, Canada's largest theatre is being credited as a co-collaborator on this production. He'd been interested in bringing this classic to the stage for several years, and convinced lyricist Leigh to write his own book to replace John Doyle's used for the first production in York, England.
The cast of thirteen, brings David Burnham, who appeared in "Letters from 'Nam" at NSMT back for the title role with Angela Gaylor, seen there in "Carousel" and "A Little Night Music", as his true love, Sophie. Both have extensive touring experience. The rest of the ensemble, who play a myriad of characters have appeared in major musicals in New York and around the country. The show will be done in epic style, as befits a novel the size and scope of "The Curious History of Tom Jones - a Foundling". The cast will change costumes a vista in the moat around the stage, handle most of the props and scenery, and supply live sound effects as needed. A thirteen piece pit orchestra with music director Lynne Shankel conducting will play a rich newly orchestrated score, with period touches blending with a very modern sound. As usual there are satellite stages, scenic decoration around the arena, and once again projections. The show seems especially well suited for NSMT's in-the-round staging. There are only three weeks to this run, and while all seats in this arena provide a good view, prime seats go fast. If you missed out on "Pacific Overtures" the end of last summer, get a head start this season.
"Tom Jones" by Paul Leigh and George Stiles, June 1 - 20
North Shore Music Theatre in association w/ Hummingbird Centre (Toronto)
Dunham Woods, Beverly MA, (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Flesh Eating Leftists" by Jayk Gallagher
Date:Monday, May 24, 2004 10:26 PM

     Jayk Gallagher, seen last fall in the Poet's Theatre production of Dario Fo's "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" may have picked up something from the only official clown to win a Nobel prize. Of course, having John Kuntz as script advisor on this piece which Jayk began as an Emerson theatre student probably also helped. But the antic core of the show is all his own. Many comedians make chameleon-like switches from character to character, but in this show, his characters literally take over the comedian, with their own idea of what "Flesh Eating Leftists", a sociopolitical exegesis should be about.
     In the course of this one hour safari through Jayk's various selves, the show touches upon some very real social problems from a wonderfully skewed viewpoint. There are moments of Bogossian-like intensity and riffs reminiscent of William's on a roll. Jayk can be seen melting down at the Black Box around 10:30 pm Thurs. through Sat. after performances of Zeitgeist's "Popcorn" and on Monday nights at 8pm. Definitely worth the price--or more.
"Flesh Eating Leftists" by Jayk Gallagher, through Jun 4
Jayk Gallagher w/Zeitgeist Stage at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont St.; suggested donation $5 at the door

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "POPCORN" by Ben Elton
Date: Thur, May 20 11:15 PM
Quicktake on POPCORN

     The satirical target(s) in Ben Elton's "Popcorn" are no more hard to shoot than fish in a barrel, but that should be part of the fun in this black farce, which depends on several well-setup shootings. That there's not more fun, though former TV writer Elton does know how to get quick laughs, is due to a rather realistic production of this almost surreal British take on Hollywood excess and Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" in particular. There's an aura of sit-com about it.
    Zeitgeist has once again found a script which displays social malfunction and mistakes that act for relevant criticism. The play in fact participates in the very phenomenon it castigates, which sends very mixed signals to its audience. The cast is competent and sometimes brilliant, with Susan Gross just barely edging out her partner in crime, Jesse Soursourian, for top honors. Stephen Epstein's Hollywood director is believably obsessive, while Jennifer Huth and Caryn Andrea Lindsey are just a bit too commonplace as his soon-to-be ex and their teenage daughter, even in their wardrobe. Naeemah A. White Peppers, in her last Zeitgeist role for a while, doesn't fit the part of a Playboy centerfold/now actress and hasn't found a way to make being African-American add anything to the piece. George Saulnier III, who is capable of being more outrageous is too laid-back as the producer. The show seems more like an episode from a soap opera than biting social commentary; it's satire is old-hat, though at least it's not boring.
"POPCORN" by Ben Elton,May 14 - June 5
Zeitgeist Stage Co. at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont, South End, (617) 426 -ARTS Zeitgeist Stage Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Rose Tattoo" by Tennessee Williams
Quicktake on THE ROSE TATTOO

     Andrea Martin can't quite carry this dinosaur from Tennessee William's ouevre the way she did as Mrs. Siezemagraff in Durang's "Betty's Summer Vacation." several seasons ago. But Ms. Martin makes a brave attempt in this much more difficult role and is quite convincing as Serafina despite the embarrassing stereotypes rampant in this play. These aren't ameliorated by director Nicholas Martin's predilection for portraying the obvious. The surprisingly large and largely irrelevant cast includes the return of Dominic Fumusa last seen in as the gangster in "Dead End" as the romantic interest Alvaro, aka the grandson of the village idiot in Ravenna, plus local talent that also last appeared at the Huntington in "Dead End". These include Diego Arciniegas as Fr. De Leo, Nancy E. Carroll --leading a goat-- as the Strega, plus Cheryl McMahon and Bobbie Steinbach as nosey neighbors, Guiseppina and Peppina. Melinda Lopez, seen in "A Month in the Country", and whose full-length play, "Sonia Flew", will premiere at the new BCA theatre space next season, has the supportive role of Assunta, the herbalist/midwife. Everyone does their best with this over-long, underwritten script and Ms. Martin's masterful comic timing mercifully keeps things light in some of the murkier moments.
Two young actors new to the Huntington, Greta Storace and Ryan Spyek, do credible jobs as Rosa, the daughter and her sailor boyfriend. Storace is quite convincing as a thirteen year old, then at sixteen. The final scene of his departure is as good as any of William's one-acts which helps. Colleen Quinlan, seen as Mrs. Siezemagraff's daughter in "Betty's...", is joined by Dara Fisher, making a pair of comically erotic local belles off to frolic with the American Legion in New Orleans. Fisher also doubles at an uptight Anglo school teacher, which is one less role than her three in "The Blue Demon". The entire evening would be more tolerable by serious editing of irrelevant interludes that don't move the action along plus finding a way to take one intermission rather than two. A set including a revolve, lights with projections, and original music by Mark Bennett all contribute to a finished production.
"The Rose Tattoo" by Tennessee Williams, May 14 - June 13
Huntington Theatre Company at the Mystic Theatre, B.U.
264 Huntington Ave, Boston (617) 266 -0800 Huntington Theatre Company

Date: Thu, 20 May 2004 00:28:22 -0400
From: Larry Stark larry@theatermirror.com
Subject: Re: rose tattoo with andrea martin

In a word, it's a hit.
It's as close to a sex-farce as Williams could come, full of no-nonsense laugh-lines that Andrea Martin belts like Ted Williams swatting fungoes. The Sicilian eagerness of the four central figures to jump into the sheets salts even the widow's demands of the statue of Our Lady for "A Sign!" because she'd prefer to be uncertain that her beloved (and apparently continually horny) husband was unfaithful --- and later the sign she demands is that She can now be "unfaithful" to her dead husband's memory with a like-a-look "Grandson of the village idiot of [Limone?] ."
This glibly goofy "gentleman caller" knows a good thing when he sees it, and convinces the lady she "has been a widow too long." Dominic Fumusa plays the comedy of this sex-minded bumbler smitten with a woman (only about 30) with a fifteen-year-old daughter.
That daughter (Greta Storace) is busy being smitten by a hunk in a sailor-suit (Ryan Sypek) who probably IS the virgin (so far) his girl's mother wants him to remain --- but you know how tight those sailor-suit pants can get.... Melinda Lopez is a staunch friend, Diego Arciniegas a scandalized family priest, Nancy E. Carroll a rhyming bag-lady playing Chorus-leader with Cheryl McMahon and Bobbie Steinbach as Sicilian neighbors --- and all of these home-team citizens are fine.
Designer James Noone has solved the problem of the immensity of the Huntington stage by putting huge rough-wooden lattices on each side that have focus-lines, and they point to a house-on-wheels that can present an outside and then --- occasionally as someone enters through its door --- spin it to reveal a cozy living-room with work-room attached, hardly losing an instant in the change. It might not look so good from balcony seats, however.
At one point a beautiful moon (created completely by Kevin Adams' lights) lights up a background of dramatic cloud-shapes while the two kids do a balcony-scene, to a smatter of appreciative applause.
This is something to take the awful taste of (GagPtui!) BUTLEY out of my mouth. The entire cast seems a little hyper, a touch over the top, but that only means they understand the hearty lusts and solid comedy of the play. Maybe Nickie Martin CAN direct after all...

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Saviour of Fenway" by Brendan Bates
Date: Fri, May 14, 11:19 PM

     This play, which received an Excellence in Playwriting (or Playwrighting) Award at the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival last year, may have gotten that recognition because it confirms for New York fans the almost psychotic desperation of the Red Sox faithful. Actually its pedigree traces back to barroom sagas, the sort Eugene O'Neill made famous. Author and cast member Brendan Bates might indeed write a significant American play someday; he's got an ear for banter, though his monologues do go on. What he's written here is two hour long acts of boozy neo-realistic soap opera set in the context of the last two games of the 2003 ALCS playoffs, which once again, Boston lost. Just as there are "chick flicks", this is a "guy play." And the guys who frequent neighborhood watering holes to watch the Sox on TV don't seem to be coming out for live theatre.
Not that there isn’t a plot, or at least some action, here. The daily frustration of the four working stiffs in the piece is heightened by their disappointment with the home team. Each has his own personal problems. But these are laid out in rather laborious detail, usually between two characters at a time. The relevant action would be far more interesting condensed into two shorter acts half the length. But that wouldn't allow these four performers associated with the New Actors Workshop in NYC equal time to show their chops, which are at times impressive. But less would indeed be more in the case of this script. Neither the obsession of the true fan nor the failed lives of these four working guys from Quincy, Nate Meyer as Walshie the bartender included, is truly explored. Instead they're displayed as sort of a South Shore version of an existential nightmare, from which only one, Patty the young barman (John Highsmith), has a chance to escape, partly because he's willing to think his way out of the box. Certainly Sweeney (John Burch) or Shane (Bates) won't be able to.
"The Saviour of Fenway" by Brendan Bates, May 5 - 30
Nate Meyer Productions at Durrell Hall, Camb YMCA
820 Mass Ave. Camb, (877) 238 - 5596 Savior of Fenway Website

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Elegies" by William Finn
Date: Sun, May 9, 11:14 PM
Quicktake on ELEGIES - a song cycle

     Natick-born William Finn's "Elegies" is a series of story songs about loss and the reaffirmation of life, beginning with the closing of a small corner grocery, ending with a tribute to 9 /11/2001. In the eighteen or so pieces in between Finn remembers friends, relations, and his dogs. All on an empty stage significantly decorated by Caleb Wertenbaker using a montage of photoblowups, sung by five Speakeasy veterans, some of the strongest musical theatre performers in Boston, with the company's musical director, Paul S. Katz at the keyboard. 2003 IRNE winner Leigh Barrett and Speakeasy diva Kerry Dowling have lush voices which make the show's ballads soar and sing a lighter piece or two as well. Michael Mendiola has two wonderful comic turns and then turns serious for Finn's paean to Natick and his mother, before going onto "When the World Stopped Turning." Jose Delgado gets to start things off and shortly has a ball leading "Joe Papp" who "don't take crap!" And reliable Will McGarrahan stands in for the author several times remembering lost friends and fellow musical eccentrics, with the recurring "Mark's All-Male Thanksgiving." One can assume that William Alan Finn, a " 3 named composer" himself will be pleased when he shows up for the performance on the 16th, as part of NOMTI's annual "Birth of a Musical" festival. Despite the sombre implications of much of the material, this 90 minute show soars along with the voices and makes a strong end to this year's season for the company.

"Elegies" by William Finn, May 7 - 29
Speakeasy Stage Company at BCA Theatre
539 Tremont St., South End, (617) 426 - ARTS Speakeasy Stage Co.

From: "Arthur Hennessey" norfolk1a@hotmail.com
Subject: Really Quick Take on Curse of the Starving Class
Date: Fri, 07 May 2004 15:28:09 -0400

Hi Larry,
Shepard devotees, it is your last weekend to get your fix at Theatrezone.
Curse of the Starving Class is chock full of great characters and is handled well by a first rate cast. Remember, this is one that is not done that often, so if you are one those who have only experienced it on the pages of your dog-eared copy of Seven Plays by Sam Shepard, please make the effort.

Frank Rich once pointed out that Shepard's plays seem to play more effectively in your mind after you leave the theatre than they do while you are actually watching them. Curse is a perfect piece of evidence for his argument. The great monologues are done with such care by the cast that you find you remember the incidents relayed by them as vividly as if you had seen them in amovie, or in real life: A young girl riding a horse through a bar, a man castrating sheep as an eagle keeps swooping down on him, an invasion of zombies taking over a rural community, a father crashing through a door in drunken stupor. We see none of these take place on stage, but we feel as if they are a part of what we have physically experienced.

With computer programmers and white collar service workers being displaced the way Shepard was witnessing farmers being pushed out, this play has an eerie resonance.

See it also to check out the best and most accessible small theatre in Boston. Streets upon streets of available parking spots surround a nicely restored hall with plush seats and, (Gasp!) enough leg room for Twentieth Century Man. It is one of the easiest theatres to drive to in the Metro Boston area. Once again, last weekend is coming up.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Kimberly Akimbo" by David Lindsay-Abaire
Date: Mon, May 3, 11:20 PM

     It probably seemed stranger to folks in L.A. where this play was commissioned in 2002 that the show opens with snow in April in New Jersey. Here in the author's hometown, that's just weather. Those whose only experience of Lindsay-Abaire is his other masterpiece, "Fuddy Meers" will find "Kimberly Akimbo", the final production of Boston Theatre Works season, closer to reality. This time the parallel universe is right next door.
    Judith McIntyre as the title character, a prematurely aged 16 year old, creates another memorable role for herself with characteristic directness. Ann Barry as Kimberly's pregnant hypochondriac mother, Pattie, and Marc Carver as her boozy dad, Buddy, play all the facets of their fractured roles. Jacob Liberman is perfect as Jeff, Kimberly's incipient boy friend, another outsider. The most reminiscent character is Debra, Kim's homeless aunt, played by Elizabeth Anne Quincy, who makes the most of this schemer whose major purpose is to move the plot along and reveal most of the background. The role could use some quiet time, but Lindsay-Abaire doesn't provide much.
     The play's quirky worldview is heightened by Caleb Wertenbaker multipurpose set featuring multipurpose furniture changed by the cast, ingenious flip units in the walls similar to those he designed for the Market two seasons ago, and interesting atmospheric lighting. Gail Astrid Buckley's costumes and accessories place the characters in their milieu perfectly. Fay Gerbes' soundscape is fine as far as it goes; there could be more earlier in the piece. Artistic Director Jason Southerland assisted by his line producer Jennifer Nario has let the playwright speak for himself through a first rate cast and a sound production for a fitting finale to BTW's season. There are only 8 more performances and one's all ready sold-out. Don't delay.
"Kimberly Akimbo" by David Lindsay-Abaire, April 30 - May 16
Boston Theatre Works at Boston Playwrights Theatre
949 Comm. Ave, Allston, (617) 939 - 9939) Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "SCAPIN" based on "The Fouberies of Scapin" by Moliere
Date: Sat, May 1 1:04 AM

     Moliere probably would have liked it, if only because the spirited cast of the New Rep's homegrown original musical is having so much fun doing it. John Kuntz wearing a BoSox cap with his red and blue diamonds uses his entire repertoire of theatrical tricks as the title character and even gets to play the sax. Steven Barkhimer and Ken Baltin dive right into the silliness as the two fathers. Bret Carr and Miguel Cervantes use their voices and their comic talents as the two heroes. The aptly named Jennifer LaFleur is one ditsy heroine; Bonita J. Hamilton, with the best pipes in the crowd, is feisty as the other. Bates Wilder is an Ur-clown as the put-upon servant Sylvester, and Matthew J. Nichols steals the show whenever he can as the nameless Messenger, the Nurse with a costume malfunction, a Government purity agent, and a boorish patron with a cell phone. Haddon is upstage center at the keyboards dress in Mozart attire along his bassplayer and drummer, while Rick's in the back row hoping nobody puts in something that was cut or puts in something they just thought of. It's burlesque musical theatre post-Urinetown, full of topical references and low humor. A good end to a great season.

"Scapin", book & lyrics by Rick Lombardo; music & lyrics by Haddon Kime, thru May 30
New Repertory Theatre
54 Lincoln St. Newton Highlands, (617) 332 -1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Noises Off" by Michael Frayn(1982)
Date:Mon, May 3, 11:25 PM
Quicktake on NOISES OFF

     Michael Frayn's deconstruction of farce, "Noises Off" may not be the premiere comedy of the last century, but it's in the running. The talented crew at the Lyric is running to catch up with it. Opening night they kept up with it, despite a bit of a slow start. When the cast has Jeremiah Kissel with Barlow Adamson, Neil A. Casey, Sarah deLima, Jessica Healy, Bob Jolly, David Krinitt, Kristen Sergeant, and Maryann Zschau all charging fearlessly into the fray under Spiro Veloudos' sure hand they're bound to get it right most of the time. If you've seen this play before, you'll probably understand it better the second time. Newcomers should get there on time and take a peek at both programs - the Lyric's and the one for "Nothing On", the sex comedy this hapless lot is taking on the road from Weston-Super-Mare to Stockton-on-Tees through the counties. It helps to sort out who's who beforehand, because you'll have to figure out who's doing what with whom backstage as the show goes on. Frayn goes from the absurd to the Absurd in three acts full of physical comedy and unexpected humor. You may want to visit the bar during each intermission to get in the spirit of the play.
"Noises Off" by Michael Frayn, April 30 - June 5
Lyric Stage Company in Copley Sq.
140 Clarendon St., Boston (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject:Correction to Quicktake on ?Mojo Mickybo?
Date:Wed, April 21, 2:54 PM
Correction on MOJO MICKYBO

     There was an error in the program. J. Michael Grigg?s designed the set; Tess James once again did the lights. They both deserved praise.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: "ON THE AISLE - Boston & beyond" update
Date:Thurs, April 22, 10:12 AM
Update for ON THE AISLE

     The archives for last year's reviews are much more substantial, the graphic situation with the ISP has improved, and the first relevant review from NYC is posted. Dramaturg Colette Boudreau reviews John C. Picardi's "Seven Rabbits on a Pole", the second play in a series. "The Sweepers", his first, just closed at Stoneham. The list of links to local theatre websites has expanded; additions and corrections would be appreciated.


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Boston Theatre Marathon" by
Date: Mon, Apr 19 12:31 AM

     The 6th annual Boston Theatre Marathon, the last at Boston Playwrights' Theatre if the schedule for the new theatre space at the BCA holds, had the usual mix of new and old faces. The 45 ten minute pieces were long on comic sketches, had more parts for women, but fewer surprises than previous events. There were a few more female playwrights, not quite as many celebrity authors, and a host of the usual suspects from various parts of the greater local theatre community.
IRNE winners Nancy E, Carroll, Maureen Keiller, and Bobbie Steinbach each had splendid solo moments. Carroll's was a monologue by Israel Horowitz, "Cat Lady", Keiller got in touch with her inner chicken in Joe Byer's "Chickenworks", and Steinbach sat enthroned in Tom Grady's "I Love You Virus." Susan Thompson from Pilgrim was also outstanding in IRNE winner Laura Harrington's "The Life You Save." Kippy Goldfarb along with Maureen Keiller did well in Alan Brody's "Annie and Issie", which might be part of a longer play, while Goldfarb along with Helen McElwain played a touching mother and daughter scene in Janet Kenney's "Ma in Her Kerchief". Stacy Fischer and Bill Gardiner has some good moments as estranged father and daughter in Kathyrn Zamboni's " What Else Should I Bring?" Ed Peed got to let his Shakespeare hang out in Carl Rossi's farce "Sir and the A.S.M." along with Colin Hamell and Susan McConnell. Richard McElvain played yet another dissipated soul in Jon Lipsky's "The Drum", along with Ava Eisenson as his daughter. Ben Evett played a conflicted father in Michael Murray's "Home" while Jerry Bisantz was on the boards this time as a hapless traveler shanghaied by the policies of airport security. The Curse of the Bambino and other sports obsessions had their innings--Andrew Dolan was the archetypical Red Sox fanatic--but there was little or no mention of Iraq. The less said about Brustein's "Terrorist Sketch" the better.
Just what the move down to the BCA and the more significant shift to the end of May will do to this event which has become a highpoint of the theatre season remains to be seen. The Boston theatre community can only hope that it's a change for the better. Of course, it might just mean that more groups will do their own short play events, giving even more new works some exposure.
"Boston Theatre Marathon" April 18, 2004
The Theatre Community at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston MA, Boston Theatre Marathon

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Mojo Mickybo" by Owen McCaffery
Date:Sun, Apr 4, 4:56 PM DST
Quicktake and more on MOJO MICKYBO

     "Who are these guys?" Well, they're Sugan regulars, Colin Hamell and Billy Meleady recounting the tale of Mojo and Mickybo, two kids from the streets of Belfast. Mojo's Protestant, Mickybo's Catholic, but they briefly become mates one hot summer. It's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who supplant comic book characters in their imagination; but like their heros, there's no escape to Bolivia from the divided streets and the real violence which scars their lives. And they?re only running one weekend more at the BCA.
     Hamell and Meleady easily switch between their grown up selves and some dozen or so characters in these two kids' lives, with no props and versatile physical acting on a simple but effective set by Tess James (who lit Howie the Rookie) last year. J.Michael Griggs who designed Howie it this one. Director Carmel O'Reilly pulls it all together, bringing Owen McCaffery's award winning script to life, with all its humor and heartbreak. If the iconic images of Butch and Sundance don't immediately come to mind, they will after seeing this show. It's wheeker, even if talkin' isn't everyways clear. What in life is?
At least there's a glossary in Sugan's program. The show?s a brisk ninety minutes; the conflicy between neighbors for whatever reason has to be a source of comedy to keep it from becoming permenant tragedy, This show created in the heart of Belfast had five good years for the Kabosh. troupe. It?s a fitting end to one of Sugan?s best seasons and shouldn?t be missed.
"Mojo Mickybo" by Owen McCaffery, closes April 24
Sugan Theatre Co. at BCA Theatre
539 Tremont St., (617) 426 - 2787 Sugan Theatre Co.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Curse of the Starving Class" by Sam Shepard (1977)
Date: Thurs, Apr 15,10:54 PM

     Sam Shepard's satirical family tragedy "The Curse of the Starving Class" might be more relevant today than it was more than 25 years ago. Under Paul Melone's crisp direction, a first-rate seasoned cast brings out the raw emotion in this three act drama. Eliza Rose Fichter is unsettling as Emma, the teenage daughter, Floyd Richardson finds real depth in Weston, her drunken father, Danielle Fauteux Jacques is unrelenting as Ella. the mom, while Michael McKeogh eventually gets into Wesley, the son who's not all there. The supporting cast is up to par as well. This is vintage Shepard well done, played from the heart and aimed at the gut. The main characters handle the author's signature extended speeches with real flair.
     TheatreZone's new Chelsea Theatre Works space is comfortable and spacious, once you climb the two flights to it, with good sightlines. The production is simple but sufficient, with a working stove and the all important refrigerator. A more complete soundscape would help, but the lighting is effective . There are good directions on their website to their location in the shadow of the Tobin Bridge. If you know how to drive in through Chelsea Market, there's sufficient street parking around the square. The company even raised a real live lamb aka Hamlet for the show.
""Curse of the Starving Class" by Sam Shepard, April 15 - May 8
TheatreZone at Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea (617) 661 - 9622 TheatreZone

Whither the Bard?
Now that the NEA blessed Guthrie production of "Othello" has blown through Boston during Holy Week, traditionally a slow time for theatre, it might be interesting to assess the state of Shakespeare onstage in these environs. Locally, in the summer there's Publick Theatre working outdoors on the old Boston Shakespeare Festival site in Brighton for two months or so, Commonwealth Shakespeare free on the Boston Common a couple of weeks, with a tour of Boston Parks as well, and additional outdoor productions in Concord, Stoughton, and in other communities. Swan Theatre played "Othello" indoors in Arlington at the Regent last summer. The ART generally does one radical interpretation of the Bard each season; the Huntington almost never, though BU Fine Arts is closing its season with "Romeo and Juliet" on the main stage. Trinity does its bit, though their modern adaptation of "Merry Wives" was pushing it a bit. Their summer outdoor shows and projects with Brown have provided Providence with significant performances. Broadway in Boston, whatever you might think of their parent company, has brought major British Shakespeare tours through Boston; Simon Russel Beale as "Hamlet" and the Hall's "As You Like It."

Of the smaller companies, Boston Theatre Works has made major attempts, doing "Macbeth" and most recently, "Antony and Cleopatra", which got Anne Gottlieb her Best Actress IRNE. New Rep went out on a limb with Austin Pendleton as "King Lear"; he was better suited for "Waiting for Godot", and peripatetic Mill6 just "Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet", an adaptation for four men over in the bowels of the Piano Factory at Devanaughn, directed by Barlow Adamson, who works with CSC's school project in Charlestown. Shakespeare Now!, who just held the annual Sonnethon at BPL, strives mightily to bring their barebones productions to schools in the area, and did a creditable job of "Julius Caesar" for school audiences last fall in Ellsworth Auditorium at Pine Manor with S&C's Jason Asprey as Cassius. Shakespeare & Co. toured a "Romeo & Juliet" in the area using seven players, then doubled the number for a weeklong school presentation at North Shore Music Theatre last month. North Shore hasn't done their own school Shakespeare productions recently, though they're opening "Kiss Me Kate" later this month.

What's lacking in these various efforts is a permanent year-round company like Boston Shakespeare which imploded finally with Peter Sellars at the helm. Perhaps Ben Evett, who seems to have ben dropped from the ART roster, will be able to get something going with his actor based project. It will probably be a long time until Boston sees something like the Chicago Shakespeare venue completed recently on their Waterfront. There's nothing of the like in all the reconstruction promised for Boston apres BigDig. The two additional spaces being added to the BCA have one old problem; limited parking and less than convenient access. Though permanent signage from, and in, Back Bay Station would help.

So what about the NEA's "Shakespeare in American Communities", administered by ArtsMidwest, a consortium of generally conservative heartland state arts agencies. Is this effort, presented as an attempt to revive touring theatre, which delivers approved productions of a dead white playwright to small and middle-sized cities, an attempt to encourage more politically correct, less liberal live theatre, to bribe established groups to clean up their act and take it on the road at a time when funding is getting ever tighter? There's certainly no evidence that recent tax breaks for the wealthy have trickled down to the arts, except perhaps to art dealers vending investment grade works. Was the Guthrie's visit to Amherst and Boston a nod to the Romney Republicans, who don't seem to have noticed? NYU's Aquila production, more modern and more integrated, would have been a lot more economical to present hereabouts, and would have fit into less well appointed venues, but might have sparked reaction, as intended, from political commentators left and right. And if a regime change occurs in Washington, what will the future of all this NEA puffery be? Will conservative politicians go back to trying to eliminate the agency? Will necessary fiscal changes limit available funding? How will such parsimony make any difference for the array of Shakespearean production already going on in here ( as noted above) --and in other parts of the country for that matter? Stay tuned.

H4> From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"" by Jessie Braham White
Date:Fri, April 9, 11:32 PM
Quicktake on SNOW WHITE

The current Wheelock Family Theatre production lives up to the company's usual high production standards. The set is flexible if not especially imaginative, the costumes have fairy-tale appeal, sound and lights are professional. The script, however, their "first traditional fairy-tale" is definitely not up to the standard of WFT's previous work. It's a humdrum, dated adaptation written for an expandable cast, including forest animals and a squad of juvenile ladies in waiting. The text borrows a bit from Cinderella (which helps explain why SW is so good at keeping house), gives cutesy barely non-Disney names for the Seven and employs stereotyped characterizations which went out of style decades ago--or so we hoped. The effect is compounded at WFT by having the Dwarfs(sic) played by small adults--four Equity members-- who try mightily to cope with dialogue written for prepubescent boys and ostensibly comic situations. The potentially clever idea of having the Queen (Robin V. Allison) have a witchy godmother(Robert Saoud), who's keeping her beautiful, is wasted through weak sightgags and doggerel magic spells. Yahanna Faith in the title role stays cool throughout it all while Shelley Bolman as the Prince doesn't even get to kiss her. That would be too ickey perhaps, but the lack of contact suits the boring nature of their characters as written. There?s a general waste of good actors, but the less said about Doug Lockwood's Dandipat Bombas the Court Chamberlain, the better.
The problem of doing a show with a title that adults will recognize and bring the kids to, compounded by needing to get students from after-school programs onstage doesn't need to come to this. Some sort of Story Theatre presentation based on series of related fairy tales would be a far better introduction to the form than this sprawling dinosaur, which has little or no real drama and encourages many of its young participants to pretend to Act. Some of the older members of the cast aren?t much better.
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" by Jesse Braham White, based on a tale by the Brothers Grimm, April2 - May 2
Wheelock Family Theatre at Wheelock College
200 The Riverway, Boston (617) 879 - 2300 Wheelock Family Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Ragtime: the Musical" by Terence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Date:Fri, April 2,11:34 PM
Quicktake on RAGTIME

    Tickets are liable to be in short supply for a satisfying production of "Ragtime: the Musical" which opened at the Footlight Club this weekend. The large cast and substantial orchestra give a first-class rendition of Flaherty and Ahren's songs. Justin A.L.Waithe gives a strong and convincing performance as Coalhouse Walker, while Marshalee Ducille as Sarah and Maria Wardwell as the well-to-do matron from New Rochelle are both moving. Other fine vocal characterizations come from Brian Ott as Father and Stephen Littlehale as Tateh. Christina Pizzo Buxton is stirring as Emma Goldman, while Kristin Shoop and Ian Flynn are amusing as Evelyn Nesbit and Harry Houdini. Steven Key is a dignified Booker T. Washington. Set and lighting are sufficient given Footlight's resources, and the costumes are first rate. McNally's book catches the flavor of Doctorow's epic novel and director Bill Doscher gets the cast through it's 31 scenes and even more songs with dispatch. And the show's probably more relevant today than when it won several Tony awards in 1998. Call now.

"Ragtime" by Terence McNally, based on the novel by E.L.Doctorow, Apr. 2 - 17
Footlight Club at Eliot Hall
7a Eliot St., Jamaica Plain (617) 524 - 3200 Footlight Club

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Sweepers" by John C. Picardi
Date:Sun, April 4, 12.04 AM
Quicktake on THE SWEEPERS

     Starting with another impressive set by award-winning Richard Chambers and three outstanding performances by Sarah Newhouse, Marina Re, and M. Lynda Robinson, Stoneham's New England premiere of John C. Picardi's "The Sweepers" has a lot going for it. His script is well-constructed with engaging if predictable moments, which generated appreciative comment and laughter for the opening night audience. Set at the very end of WWII on a back street in Boston's North End, "The Sweepers' is an affectionate and somewhat melodramatic look at the lives of three Italian mothers, two (Newhouse and Robinson) with husbands and sons in the Army, one (Re) who lost her older brother in WWI and whose 4F son, a fledgling lawyer is getting married. There?s local resonance with a lot of effective touches through the efforts of director Robert Jay Cronin and costumer Jane Alois Stein giving the show a realistic texture. There's still a lot to be explored in the second (and third) generation experience which underlies much of the development of the American character in the latter half of the 20th century. This play does its share with a mixture of drama and humor, with trials and tragedy balanced by the simple tasks of everyday living, lightened by stereotypical characterization at times. It will be interesting to see part two of Picardi's ten play cycle, now running in New York, when it arrives here sooner or later--preferably sooner.

"The Sweepers" by John C. Picardi, April 1 - 18
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St, Stoneham MA , (617) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Backwater" from a screenplay by Bill Donnelly
Date:Sun, Mar 28, 10:09 PM
Quicktake on BACKWATER

    Rough & Tumble's latest group creation, again with text from playwright Bill Donnelly, combines their collective talent for quick characterization and physical comedy with more complex storyline than usual. It's in English rather than "blah-blah", their unique brand of gibberish. Founding member Irene Daly, who can perform "b-b" with an Irish brogue, gets to create a complex person, Lea Boyle, this time. She's the only member of the cast who plays only one part. George Saulnier III is back after being George in "...Virginia Wolff" last fall, playing a range of real people from Lea's father, the boyfriend she breaks up with, her old English teacher Mr. Clark, and others. Chris Cook, who's joined the group more recently, is primarily Neville, a young playwright with a crush on Lea, as well as Todd, an obnoxious former classmate, and others.
    Newcomer Paul Garigos is mostly old flame Wes, the guy you know Lea will probably end up with, while Claire Shinkman gets juicy cameos as a video store manager, a community theatre diva, and a jealous teenager. Zabeth Russell's roles range from Lea's mother to a third grader who catches Lea and Mr. Clark in the closet, with various intersting personas in between. The show's charming, with interesting moments of dialogue and some insight into what going back home unsuccessful might mean. What plot there is, is a bit predictable and potentially tedious. That;s more than made up for by Dan Milstein's ingenious direction, which simulates crossfades and closeups, plus the cast's infectious spirit. A little of the goofy fantasy which enlivened previous shows wouldn't be amiss, however.

"Backwater" adapted for the stage by Rough & Tumble Theatre, thru Apr. 10
Rough & Tumble Theatre at BCA Leland Center
539 Tremont, Boston, (617) 426 - 2787 Rough & Tumble

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "What the Butler Saw" by Joe Orton
Date: Fri, Mar 12, 11:10 PM

     Those who found Durang's "Betty's Summer Vacation" illuminating at the Huntington last season will find similar edification in Orton's "What the Butler Saw." Only instead of Andrea Martin, they'll have to settle for Paxton Whitehead's patented upper-class twit. Martin will be back in May for "The Rose Tattoo" playing the Anna Magnani part, which should be an interesting stretch. She'll be joined by Diego Arciniegas, Nancy E, Carroll, and Cheryl McMahon. Until then, Darko Tresnjak's attempt to breathe life in this 40 year old parody of British farce will wheeze harmlessly on, followed by BU Fine Arts "Romeo & Juliet." Orton may have understood the artful construction of cheap comedy, but this measured production lets every seam show. That it's considered a classic English comedy of its time merely shows how far that genre had fallen.
    David P. Gordon's set once again symmetrical set is ever so spiffy with Barcelona and Eames chairs, designer accouterments, but not enough doors. Linda Cho's swinging '60s costumery is easy to take off, and lights and sound do their job. However, inspired tackiness might have been more suitable. It's all so safe, filled with random chortles and the whole repertoire of nudge-nudge-wink-wink. The Huntington might have done better to go back to its old playbook and revive a vrai farce from Feydeau like "The Lady from Maxims'" rather than this dated sendup of a British imitation written by a professional badboy.. The able comedians in this ensemble would have had a better time, especially Susan O'Connor, the primary victim, who's too often reduced to mugging. This show's not even as funny as "Springtime for Henry."
"What the Butler Saw" by Joe Orton, March 5 - April 5
Huntington Theatre Company at the Mystic Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, (617) 266 - 0800 Huntington Theatre Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Lost City"
Date: Thurs, Mar 11 and time
Quicktake on LOST CITY

     Company One's "Lost City" can't quite decide what sort of show it wants to be, but the ride its cast takes their audience on is nearly as interesting as the one going on next door at Speakeasy. Perhaps it's the premise, passengers stranded in Rochester waiting for a connection to Boston, that's a mite too pat. The cast, which participated in creating the show, has come up with memorable characters, from Mason Sands' weird Henry, with a satchel of crude paper sculptures, to Shawn Lecount's dual characterization of Ezra, the gay bank officer and his tough Irish partner, who he's trying to rejoin in Boston. Hilary Fabre gives a bravura performance as Angie, returning from California to visit her dying Russian mother, with capsules of courage in her purse. Michelle Baxter's Wilma, coming from Chicago to help her third son now in jail and Summer L. Williams, hoping for in vitro fertilization at a famous Boston hospital, are truly convincing. Then there's Mark Abby Vanderzee's fireman, slated to receive a medfal for bravery he's not sure he deserves and Naya Chang's Viola, not quite ready to join the BSO but sure she will some day.
     And just possibly, all these characters with rich inner stories are figments percolating in the imagination of Keith Mascoll's Kareem, a young African American playwright heading home from a disastrous reading in Chicago of a play about the ancient Maya. Since he no doubt heard once again the old cliche, "write what you know", Kareen could just be creating a narrative involving his fellow stranded passengers. The moments where the entire cast participates in poetic fantasies, possibly connected to his earlier work, are the least successful, though interestingly staged by director, Victoria Marsh. Sarah Shampnois' set, three orange back-to-back benches sitting on a floorpattern made from glued down maps provides quite a variety of movement opportunities. Krista McCann's lighting is varied and effective, as is Elizabeth Fuller's soundscape. While not as powerful as last season's "Truth & Beauty", "Lost City" is a strong effort, worthy of further development. Company One's vision of theatre once again adds to the diversity of the Boston scene.

"Lost City" by Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller with Company One, Mar. 4 - 27
Company One in BCA Black Box
539 Tremont St., (617) 426 - 2787 Company One

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Birthday Party" by Harold Pinter (1958)
Date:Wed, Mar 10, 10:53 PM

     If Pinter's still your cuppa, Joanne Akalaitis' production of "The Birthday Party" will satisfy your thirst. With a veteran A.R.T cast headed by Thomas Derrah as the hapless Stanley, with Karen MacDonald as Meg the landlady, and Will LeBow and Remo Airaldi as Goldberg and McCann, the hit men, joined by Terence Rigby as Petey, Meg's husband, and Elizabeth Laidlaw as partygirl Lulu, the playwright's opaque text is about as clear as it can be. Paul Steinberg's looming symbolic set, an almost subliminal soundscape by Bruce Odland engineered by David Remedios, and Jennifer Tipton's atmospheric lighting are up to the usual ART standard without becoming distracting. Lulu's Carnaby St, ensembles set the period, otherwise Gabriel Berry's costumes are vintage Empire in decay, including Stanley's pajamas. This early Pinter script is still a somewhat undigested mix of angry young kitchen-sink realism, Kafkaesque situations, and Orwellian dialogue, but Akalaitis has concentrated on making the original play work, rather than imposing a contemporary interpretation. The paranoid viewpoint underneath may or may not be relevant to current political developments, but the timeless spectre of faceless fate remains intriguing, if distant.
"The Birthday Party" by Harold Pinter, Mar. 6 - 27
American Repertory Theatre at Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St. Harvard Sq. Camb, (617) 547 - 8300 American Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Yellowman" by Dael Orlandersmith
Date: Insert date and time
Quicktake on YELLOWMAN

     Dael Orlandersmith's poetic narrative lifts the fate of her star-crossed lovers, Alma and Eugene, above the petty domestic drama of their story. She's a poor darker-skinned farm girl; he's a lighter-skinned townie. They meet in grade school and are drawn into a love which defies the internal color line that separates African-Americans in their South Carolina community. Adrienne D. Williams from NY and IRNE winner Dorian Christian Baucum embody these two, as well as their parents, their playmates, and their kin. Using story theatre techniques on a simple stage, two folding chairs, and excellent lighting by John R. Malinowski, the actors unfold the complex details of their simple story. Award-winning director Lois Roach deftly orchestrates the passage of time and scenes where one actor must play two characters in conflict. Orlandersmith's language is mesmerizing at times, sometimes too much so. But there's so much in this script that too much at times is forgivable. A more subtle plot ending might have gotten this Pulitzer-nominee the brass ring; what she does achieve is often astounding.

"Yellowman" by Dael Orlandersmith, Mar. 3 - April 4
New Repertory Theatre
54 Lincoln St. Newton MA, (617) 332 - 1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Tone Clusters" and "Middle-Aged White Guys"
Date: Sat, Mar 6, 10:45 PM

     The Theatre Coop's latest offering is a mismatched pair of short modern pieces. Joyce Carol Oates' "Tone Clusters" is a disturbing T.V. interview by a faceless interrogator of the parents of an alleged murderer. Their 20 year old son appears to have abused and murdered a 14 year old neighbor, but they're sticking by him. The questioning veers from the philosophical to the mundane, as the parents let slip enough information to suggest the young man's guilt. It's Dostoevsky Grand Inquisitor rewritten for the New Yorker. Harold Withee and Christine Hamel give convincing performances as the luckless Gulick'l;/s, Frank and Emily, nailed in the spotlight. Peter Brown is the unseen voice
    The sombre mood of this first 50 minute piece is broken after intermission by the elusive Jane Martin's "Middle-Aged White Guys", a surreal farce set in a toxic waste dump on the site of a former baseball field. The guys in question are three small-town brothers, Roy, Clem and Moon Mannering, played by Harold Withee, Robert Doris and John McClain. They're gathered there just before Roy, the mayor, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, is supposed to officiate at the annual fireworks. It's the 20th anniversary of the death of their high-school sweetheart, R.V., a lounge singer played by Summer Doyle, who shows up from the afterlife. But that's after Mona, Roy's second wife, played by Christine Hamel, arrives in her slip with a gun and starts shooting at him. She leaves after Moon, who's back from Africa where he was a mercenary, relieves both his brothers of their wallets and Roy's carkeys. This lets Mona run off to Arizona to join Clem's wife, who left last week. By the end of this 80 minute comedy, which might be described as Sam Shepard crossed with Ionesco with a touch of Gospel, Elvis (Peter Brown) and the dead Mrs. Mannering(Mary Driscoll) have also appeared to convince the trio that they've been chosen. For what? You'll have to see for yourself.
    Both plays were directed by Stage Source's Marc S. Miller with technical support from the ever-ingenious Doc Madison. Both shows use projections and lighting effects by Darren Evans. Mary Hurd's costumes are apt as usual. There's original incidental music by Dutch jazzman Jorrit Dijkstra. As anticipated, the Theatre Coop's efforts provide an alternative to the usual theatrical fare.

"Tone Clusters" by Joyce Carol Oates & "Middle-Aged White Guys" by "Jane Martin", Mar. 5 - 27
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway,Somerville (617) 625 - 1300 Theatre Cooperative

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Van Gogh in Japan" by R.L.Lane
Date: Sun, Mar 7, 11:19 PM
Quicktake on VAN GOGH IN JAPAN

     Larry Lane's "Van Gogh in Japan" has a first rate cast, an interesting set concept, some strong scenes, and a sprawling bioplay script not really ready for this level of production. Told in serial fashion, the play traces Van Gogh's life from when the artist first descended on his brother Theo in Paris through his tortured time in Arles to his eventual suicide, Seth Kanor embodies the artist convincingly, without much textual support. Robert Bonoto brings the first half to life with his portrayal of manic Degas; Scott Serverance gives a strong performance in the second half as the self-involved Gauguin. Mara Sidmore is good as the coquettish figure model, Lisette, and believable later as Theo's wife, Jo. Joe Pacheo provides a good anchor as the long suffering Theo, while Steve Barkhimer has three cameos, culminating as a blind accordianist serenading Gauguin in a bistro after Van Gogh's death. Faith Justice, Seth Compton, and Michaela Lipsey play an interesting variety of smaller parts. The author's direction with Anne Gottlieb's assistance is efficient.
     But these performances can't do much more than prop up a pedestrian script, which has too many characters in scenes which go on just a bit too long. But Susan Zeeman Rogers set painting, derived from the painter's works and changed a vista like huge canvases and Jaqueline Dalley's period costumes provide strong character support. Dewey Dellay's original music and soundscape are equally helpful, as is Scott Pinkney's expressive lighting. The show exhibits the painter's life without really exploring it, which may be good enough. As a new play in development, the show has moments of brilliance.

"Van Gogh in Japan" by R.L.Lane,
Nora Theatre Company at BPT, Studio A, Mar. 4 - 28
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 491 - 2026 Boston Playwrights'

From: Larry Stark larry@theatermirror.com
Subject: Quick-Take
Stephen Adly Guirgis will visit The Boston Center for The Arts today (7 March) where the SpeakEasy Stage Company will be doing his latest hit "Our Lady of 121st Street" and I am hoping to drop by for the talk-back. Those lucky enough to have seen Guirgis' breakthrough play "Jesus Hopped The A-Train" (also done at the BCA by Company One last year) will be happy to know that he writes this comedy as beautifully as he did that tragedy --- though those theatrical categories always interpenetrate in his work.
But it's the street-smart characters and and every-day language of send-ups and put-downs and self-confrontations that explode from Guirgis' pages that make him American theater's hope for the future. He writes people that any Black or Latino actor can slide into and wear like a second skin, dialogue that spills effortlessly from their tongues in a "Wish I had said that!" exaggeration of their everyday speech. (And even Elaine Theodore who like me is neither Latino nor Black can seem both when emboldened by this text!)
The Artistic Directors of both The New African Company (Vincent E. Siders) and The Our Place Theatre Project (Jacqui Parker) are in this SpeakEasy cast, and last night --- and the one from Up You Mighty Race (Akiba Abaka) was in the audience last night. With such talents as these boiling into the Boston spotlight, I expect expect to see a sort of "Harlem Rennassance" to take hold here in the Athens of The East that will make Elma Lewis and Jim Sprouill proud.
What Stephen Adly Guirgis' plays demonstrate is that that those on the edges of society are really on the cutting edge of it. He has taken their concerns, their talk and their conflicts and made ART out of them.
What happens in the play? Well it starts at the funeral of Sister Rose --- who fled alcoholism into the church to become the tough-love teacher touching and improving the lives of everyone in the 'hood --- except that someone's stolen the body. The mourners, with the funeral on-hold, strip away their present lives to reflect on their pasts, many of which have intertwined, and most of which will intertwine in their meandering wait for resolution. One is driven by sight of his ex-wife to the confessional for his second visit after a fifteen-year proudly-proclaimed sinful diversion. There are reunions of old friends, old enemies, old friends-turned-enemies in a restaurant on one edge of the stage, in a men's bar on the other. One closet-gay lawyer has brought his actor-partner, one mourner has a retarded brother to keep tabs on, the detective investigating the corpse's abduction grew up here ---
You see? It isn't what they do but who they are that makes Guirgis' people exciting, not what happens exactly but who it happens to that makes his plays sing. And it isn't even "Our Lady of 121st Street" but all the wonderful people at her un-resolved funeral that makes this production, even so early, in contention as the best damn play of the year.
( a k a larry stark )
"Our Lady of 121st Street" (5 - 27 March)
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Wait Until Dark" (1966)
Date: Sat, Feb 28, 11:47 PM
Quicktake on WAIT UNTIL DARK

     If you've never seen this thriller and have only vague memories of the 1967 Arthur Penn film starring Audrey Hepburn, a trip out to Stoneham might be in order. Regional theatre maven Kent Paul and a competent cast hew close to the standard production, and there's more than a touch of Hepburn in Victoria Arbiter's performance as Susy in the lead. The pace will hopefully pick up during the run. Fredrick Knott's penchant for complex plotting over character gives the evening a retro feel. Dan Domingues plays the villainous Roat without the tics that Quentin Tarentino gave to the part when he and Marisa Tomei brought the show through Boston on the way to New York in 1998. However Domingues doesn't project a real sense of menace, as when Robert Duvall went after Lee Remick in the original stage success. And Roat's certainly different from his role in "A Girl's War" last fall. Joe MacDougall manages to humanize Mike, the more sympathetic con man, but could use more physical presence.
    Tony Andrea's set is up to Stoneham's standard with a realistic period feel. John Ambrosone's lighting achieves the feeling of light and dark the play requires. Jayde Chabot's costumes could use a bit more color and style. Stan Severson's soundscape needs to be more constant, to help set the city scene, and the musical choices are forgettable. TV crime drama, which often draws on the same film noire traditions behind this play, may have made the theatrical thriller redundant. But this one is carefully presented with enough plot twists for mystery fans, even those who've seen the play before.

"Wait Until Dark" by Fredrick Knott, Feb. 26 - Mar. 14
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham Center, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Spitfire Grill", by Alley & Valcq
Date: Sun, Feb 15, 2004, 7:02 PM

     A small musical that doesn't take place in Manhattan or any other city, with no show biz characters. A book where peoples troubles are real and they're worried about survival, not the state of their neuroses. What a concept! While the 1996 movie "Care of the Spitfire Grill" by Lee David Zlotoff, which won the Sundance audience award, counter-balanced its sentimentality with a rather edgy ending and took place in Maine, the musical "The Spitfire Grill" , moved to the authors' home state of Wisconsin, is a bit more redemptive. Music theatre tends to do that. And the town's still Gilead.
     From "A Ring Around the Moon" started almost unaccompanied by Percy Talbott leaving jail in the opening to Bobbie Steinbach's crusty Hannah Ferguson, who got a hand opening night on her entrance, to the ensemble complaint about "Ice and Snow" as they chop shovel and sand, the show is full of small moments, telling and true. Maryann Zschau's throughly unglamorous Shelby has two strong solo numbers, and a big heart. Chris Chew, who don't make the original New York production, but went to Wisconsin for the run there in the authors' American Folklore Theatre, makes Sheriff Joe Sutter believably decent with two nice ballads. The lyrics and score make use of the engaging honesty of country songs without sounding as if they were written for broadcast or concertizing, though you might catch Bobbie reprising "Forgotten Lullaby" in her next cabaret show. The show has a goodtime feel without blunting the realities of a small town which has lost its only industry, and how struggling to hang on makes hard times harder. Spring comes to Gilead, it'll come here too.

"The Spitfire Grill"; lyrics by Fred Alley, Music by James Valcq; book by both, Feb. 13 - Mar. 13
Lyric Stage Company at YWCA
140 Clarendon St. Copley Sq,, (617) 437 - 7172 Lyric Stage Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Conspiracy of Memory" by Steven Bogart
Date: Sun, Feb 8,7:29 PM

     Steven Bogart's "Conspiracy of Memory" began, to use the author's description, as a "weird screenplay." Elements of that effort still exist in an episodic scene structure and melodramatic twists. Its current world premiere by Boston Theatre Works is however well-acted throughout and competently directed by BTW managing director, Nancy Curran Willis. The notion of an elderly Jewish Alzheimer's sufferer reliving concentration camp experiences would be interesting in itself, but the overlay of family drama, Nazi hunting, and inevitably guilt, turn the show into a collage of cliched images played out by overly simplified characters. The tragedy becomes muddied by too much of a bad thing.
However, the production is well mounted and costumed, the cast takes their roles to heart, and multimedia effects by Caleb Wertenbaker with original sound and music by Haddon Kime focus attention where needed. Leonard Auclair gives a masterful performance as Ivan Jacoba, whose increasing dementia triggers the action. Marcia Friedman is believable as his faithful wife, while Sharon Mason as his daughter and Brian Mason as his grandson are equally good. Ken Baltin is intense as the Nazi hunter, Avram while Renee Miller as his blind survivor partner, Edith, adds depth to their scenes. Kevin Steinberg is convincing as a very contemporary young rabbi. And Eliza Rose Fichter has some good moments as the grandson's girlfriend. All this talent however is used for storytelling rather than dramatic action. Still, as a work in development, there's a lot to consider, if not remember, about "Conspiracy of Memory."

"Conspiracy of Memory" by Steven Bogart, Feb. 6 - 22
Boston Theatre Works at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, (617) 939 - 9939
Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Tycho & Kepler" by industrial theatre
Date: Fri, February 6, 11:17 PM
Quicktake on TYCHO & KEPLER

     Of the various competitions in the history of science, the arcane astronomical arguments between the wealthy Danish aristocrat Tycho Brahe and the dour German scholar Johannes Kepler over the Copernican modifications to orthodox Ptolemaic theory in the days before the telescope might not seem especially dramatic. The industrial theatre begs to differ. Head writer Bill Donnelly and the cast, company members Kevin LaVelle and Timothy Barney as Tycho and Kepler respectively, plus Luke Dennis as The Expert and James Henderson as The Assistant (playing a myriad of small roles) have assembled a text from Kepler's voluminous and often personal writings, known meetings, and imagined confrontations between the two, plus official records. Using a fluid chronology triggered by The Voice, Sally Dennis, intoning "Start again," the cast, under Chris Scully's energetic direction, weaves a compelling hour of theatre.
     Dianne Scully's period costumes set the scene, especially the myriad accessories which transform Henderson into Kepler's mother, a bishop, and one of Tycho's greedy relatives. Dan Scully's unit set, with the room surrounded by tall chalkboards scrawled with abstruse astronomical calculations, makes good use of the space in the Leverett Old Library, using light to vary the scene. Though the piece is fairly complete as is, further development of the role of the Expert, who appears in modern dress, might allow the point made in the program note, that Kepler's abandonment of his theoretical cosmic solids for the provable laws of planetary motion led to Newton's principles of universal gravitation, the true beginning of modern physical science, to become part of the drama. Not to mention placing the action more fully in its period and then our own. As the script stands, Kepler's notion, that "the roads by which men arrive at their insights into celestial matters seems to me almost as worthy of wonder as those matters in themselves" has been well served. The industrial theatre aspires to "good theatre well made." They've done it again.
"Tycho & Kepler" by industrial theatre, Feb. 6 - 21
industrial theatre at Leverett Old Library
Mill St., Harvard Riverside (617) 257 - 7480 industrial theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Unemployable Livia Peacock " by Nancy Pearson
Date: Sat, Feb 7, 6:14 PM

     Katherine Pearson's clever play, a series of sketch-like scenes, ends with "Have I got a story to tell you." When was the last time you saw a new play where the heroine, faced by a mid-life crisis, found a viable solution, developed a better relationship with her spouse, and had fun doing so? Pearson, who was out-of-work a while herself, brings considerable charm the lead character, Livia Peacock. Hopefully her current position at New Hampshire Public Television won't keep her from more challenging roles around here soon.. Producer Anne Continelli, the "A" in T & A displays various comedic talents as Merry Peacock, a buxom ballet teacher and other cameos. Michael LaChance is believable as Livia's workaholic husband and Guiseppi Raucci is believable as an eager young Harvard MBA, even though he actually went to Bentley and St.John's for such studies before trying acting. Both men have several effective cameos.
    The simple setting by Todd Michael Hall, the "T" of T & A reflects Livia's previous career as a kindergarten teacher. It's movable solid color blocks provide enough scenic variation, but the color scheme wears thin. A bit more variety would help the show. The props stacked stage right create visual clutter; removable masking would help. Director Rick Park makes imaginative use of the space and guided the cast's costume selection for the right touches. The show works as a simple story; the additional of some plot complications, or perhaps a subplot for boisterous sister Merry would turn it into a play. But it's fun while it lasts and a good antidote for winter doldrum's and overly serious drama.
"The Unemployable Livia Peacock " by Nancy Pearson, Feb. 6 - 28
T & A Theatre Company at BCA Leland
539 Tremont, Boston, (617) 426 - 2787 Boston Center for the Arts

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "FLANAGAN"S WAKE"
Date:Thurs, Jan 29, 11:14 PM
Quicktake on "Flanagan's Wake"

     It was probably inevitable that after weddings, divorces, and even a bar mitzvah, the premise show would get around to holding a wake. Actually this show which began in Chicago a decade ago--and is still running there-- has been kicking around the midwest ever since, with a side trip to L.A. Boston is overdue. Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway in Somerville is the ideal venue for such an improv-driven audience participation evening. All it needs is a few more of local touches and more songs.
    The project was the brainstorm of Chuck Kavelas, executive producer, who also plays Mayor Martin O'Doul, also the twon's publican. Chuck's gathered a cast which includes TheatreSports veterans Marc Bennett Hirsh, who plays Mickey Finn, and TC Cheever playing Brian Ballybunion. Kathleen Brophy is the deceased's fiance of thirty years, Fiona Finn, while Bob Karish plays his invalid Mother. The festivities are presided over by veteran local actor Steve Turner as Fr. Damon Fitzgerald while Kerry Ann Dailey plays the rather fey Kathleen Mooney. Music director Karen Gahagen is Tara O'Doul when she's at the keyboard. When she's not, Danny Sullivan or Miles Goldberg as Declan Faloon will be tickling the ivories. The cast seems well-versed in the tropes of contemporary improv, which work quite well in this context. Set and costumes, which seem to be a family affair are quite suitable.
     If you're into being part of such an evening, sit down front. Show up early to get into the ambience. You don't have to hit The Burren beforehand, there's Guiness at the bar in the lobby. And think up some good Irish nouns to yell out when called upon; give the cast something new to work with. It's good to see improv back in this space, which hosted TheatreSports for a while. The troupe from the Lizard Lounge is performing on Monday nights as well. In fact, Improv seems to be making a comeback at various locations. Kitchen Sync is doing shows at the Puppet Showplace in Brookline, and other troupes have regular nights at various venues. Could be a sign of the times.
"Flanagan's Wake" originally conceived by Jack Bronis, Jan 29 into March
at Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway
255 Elm Street, Davis Square, Somerville (617) 591- 1616 Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Dazzle" by Richard Greenberg
Date: January 24, 11:25 PM
Quicktake on THE DAZZLE

     Audiences headed out to the New England premiere of Tony-winner Richard Greenberg's "The Dazzle" are more likely to be bemused than bedazzled by his Absurdist take on the lives of the Collyer brothers of urban legend. But they're not liable to forget three great performances in the play's elusive roles. Neil A. Casey brings extreme vulnerability to the role of neurotic Langley Collyer, imagined as a concert pianist who takes a half hour to play "The Minute Waltz." Bill Mootos as Homer Collyer indeed becomes his brother's keeper, for want of anything more compelling in his life-and eventual death. As Milly the woman in their life, luminous Anne Gottlieb, seen this fall as Cleopatra and last spring in "Betrayal", creates another complex and subtle character. She however joins the brothers in their descent.
     None of the actor’s achievements would be possible without Greenberg's dense and crafty text. The playwright has synthesized the artificial comedy of Wilde and Coward with Ionesco's potential for madness and Shepard's dysfunctional relationships. Director Weylin Symes has modulated the production carefully to take advantage of the feeling of unease which radiates from the stage. The feeling of comedy on the verge of tragedy prevades the evening. Designers Gianni Downs (set), Shelby O'Clair (lights), Jason Landry (sound), and of course, Gail Astrid Buckley (costumes) have created a convincing and unsettling world for these three misfits to inhabit. This play doesn't have the appeal of "Take Me Out" which got four best play awards last year-"The Dazzle" got only one during its run-but it may have more legs, once theatre's like Stoneham take a crack at it. But don't wait for them; take a chance on this groundbreaking production, and record your opinion on it.
"The Dazzle" by by Richard Greenberg, Jan.22 - Feb. 8
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St., Stoneham MA (781) 279 - 2200
for directions Stoneham Theatre

NAME WITHHELD a minority report

Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 17:29:36 -0500
From: Larry Stark larry@theatermirror.com
Subject: RE: The Threepenny Opera

I got this in the mail today:

From: Name Withheld
Subject: RE: The Threepenny Opera
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 16:09:44 -0500

Dear Larry,
Go ahead with my "Name Withheld Opinion".
Read the Globe yesterday.
It just feels lonely to be in the minority. You know, from time to time I look around at the merry crowd and think "someone, either them or me, must me an idiot." And it's very hard not to think it's me since there are so many of them and so few of me.

From: Name Withheld
Subject: The Threepenny Opera
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2004 11:26:24 -0500

Dear Larry,
Let me talk about the show . I see it as a collection of numbers, most of which are excellent. I don't see it as a coherent show with either a clear story line or a clear point of view. Good directing to me is about these two things.

The acting in the numbers is impressive; it creates a gallery of characters' snap shots, but where is character development? They all (except for probably Jenny) exist as still caricatures. Even when the numbers are brilliantly executed, we categorize the characters immediately as certain types or archetypes. What else is there for us to do? What change to follow? What pain or joy to feel for? What intellectual idea to grasp? The parade of stick figures no matter how well they move, sing, or dress could only be amusing for a short while.

I don't think it's the actors' fault -- it's director's lack of the so called "throughout" vision.
What are some other decisions the director made?
Having the whole troupe on stage during the whole show, but not assigning them any "jobs" aside from being present. Why is the stage so cluttered? What does it mean? The population density and the absence of privacy in the bums' world? Then why, for example, didn't they all make love to each other during Polly/MacHeath's first night?

We are forcefully made aware of the cabaret nature of the set and consequently the setting. We witness the make-up at the beginning, and the make-up table and the lights are a part of the set.
Why is this idea, whatever it is,("the world is a stage,.." for example) dropped? What happens to it after the initial make-up scene and a few repetitive meaningless manipulations with the switch board? How on earth is it compatible with the helicopters victimizing I don't know who --- the rascals? the whores? the poor? the cabaret actors?
Again, whatever these helicopters cleverly symbolize --- Kosovo, Iraq, or American militarism in general --- the only reason I could think of to justify their presence is winking in the direction of the liberal public.

There are a lot of similar inconsistencies. I will stop before I sound mean. I just feel that the director's choices were not subordinated to any idea or concept.
A big budget deceivingly presents itself as freedom of choices, but it is a director's responsibility to check every single decision against that unifying concept of his.
I didn't find that here.
That is why many things seemed random, and thus confusing.

Name Withheld

From: Norfolk1a@aol.com
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 12:12:10 -0500
Subject: Quick Take on Far Away

Hi Larry
I read Far Away last year and I was immediately excited by its possibilities, but being an actor and director as well, there were things that bothered me about it. The last scene of Caryl Churchill's brief, 50 minute play seemed to read more like a novel than drama, and the more I re-read, the more I doubted that it could actually work as the conclusion for the work on stage. I felt that on an intellectual level it made perfect sense, but it didn't quite capture the mystery of the first two sections, or the visceral impact of the coup de theatre which she sets up brilliantly.

However, the reviews from London and New York were great, so I was eagerly looking forward to Zeitgeist's production. David Miller has done a good job putting this play into the Black Box, and Loann West has done such a fantastic job of costuming that it set me to praying that critics remember her work all the way into next year's awards lists.

My frustrations with the play are not with Zeitgeist's production, but with the last scene of this play. I think I will now have to see another production, (if one ever comes around here,) to see if the scene can be effective on anything more than an intellectual level. I guess I just want it to work because I think the rest of the play is so damn good. Bravo to Caryl Churchill, who I think is in her sixties. Sophocles wrote the macabre and terrifying Women of Trachis in his sixties, and both these examples help to show that experienced playwrights are not dated, or boring, but they can in fact contribute intense "fringe" pieces to the theatrical landscape.

When I was living the Seattle area, plays in the school of Far Away, (only far better,) made consistent appearances in a vibrant theatre scene. I would love to see smaller companies in this area take more risks and try to produce works like this. However, a passion for new storytelling and working to expand the boundaries of what theatre can be run smack up against the consumerism of most entertainment these days. A recent interview in the New York Times with Wallace Shawn, whose edgy play Aunt Dan and Lemon is being revived in New York, was very enlightening. When asked about his acting experience he said that he was fortunate because acting payed the bills. "I certainly couldn't make even a lowly bourgeois living writing play," Shawn says. "My plays have been strange from the beginning, and they never got unstrange."
Art (Art Hennessey)

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "After Mrs. Rochester" by AUTHOR
Date: Jan 17, 11:08 PM

     The Wellesley Summer Theatre's director, Nora Hussey, has quietly achieved a theatrical coup with what amounts to the North American premiere of Polly Teale's "After Mrs. Rochester." This examination of the life of author Jean Rhys which Teale's London company, Shared Experiences, just closed in November 2003. The script looks at Rhys' life in the context of her acclaimed novel, "The Wide Sargasso Sea", a prequel to "Jane Eyre" about the first Mrs. Rochester, by depicting her girlhood in the West Indies , her tumultuous bohemian life, and lifelong fascination with the mysterious woman in the attic. Three characters are almost constantly onstage; Jean, played by Boston theatre veteran Lisa Foley in her twelfth WST production, Ella (the author in her younger years, before her nom de plume) played by Alicia Kahn, a founding member of the WST, and Bertha Mason (the first Mrs. R.) by Melinda McGrew, a recent grad back for her fifth season, now studying at the Actor's Studio. The drama rebounds between modern times, with the author locked in her room, the past as her life unfolds, and the fictional as Bertha howls and pleads intruding into both. The transitions are seamless and powerful. Kahn continues to mature with each leading role, backed here by a strong ensemble.
     Other excellent performances by actors who've joined the troupe before include Charlotte Peed as Ella's mother, recent grad Lauren Balmer, also at the Actor's Studio, as Jean's rather unwanted daughter, stalwart Stephen Cooper as both Jean's father and Ford Maddox Ford, who first published her, and Heather Boas, another grad and Actor's Studio student, as Jane Eyre. Newcomer Kortney Adams, recently seen downtown in "Body & Sold" and "Tereus in Fragments", moves between Ella's West Indian playmate Tite and the family housekeeper, Meta, with ease. Doug Lockwood, who does Wallace Shawn's "The Fever" in people's homes plays mirrored characters as Rochester and Ella's first lover. Richard LaFrance, good as Sir Andrew and Frances Flute in last summer's Publick Theatre offerings, doubles convincingly as a seductive uncle and then the long-suffering father of her daughter. In fact, no one's miscast, there are no compromises for students in the company, and the whole production has pace and panorama, The WST continues to improve its already high standards, for which it has received two NETC Moss Hart Awards so far.
    There's only one more weekend to get out to see this unique production with yet another interesting flexible multipurpose set by Ken Loewit and excellent costuming by Andrew Poleszak. The Jones has little over 100 seats this time. Parking is still down behind due to construction; call or get instructions off the Web. Reserve tickets early and don't arrive at the last minute, or you'll miss one of the season's best so far.

"After Mrs. Rochester" by Polly Teale, Jan. 9 - 24
Wellesley Summer Theatre at Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Alumnae Hall, Wellesley College
106 Central St. Wellesley MA, (781) 283-2000 Wellesley Summer Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "BAD DATES" by AUTHOR
Date: Wed, Jan. 7. 11:40 PM
Quicktake on BAD DATES

     There's more to Brandeis grad Teresa Rebeck's "Bad Dates", having a triumphal revival at the Huntington this month, than the advance publicity would suggest. Pay attention to the details, this is a cannily written script by a seasoned professional, which makes use of her most recent T.V.credits. Whether or not this 90 minute multiscene monologue would work as well without Julie White, the solo performer with whose input the piece was conceived, remains to be seen. She definitely lives up to her New York notices from the Playwrights' Horizons production last summer. But in the best of all possible worlds, we'd also get to see Melinda Lopez who's understudying the role and currently one of this year's four Huntington Playwrighting Fellows, tackle the part of Haley later in the season. In any case, this is a script that's liable to be around for a while; costume shops (and actresses aspiring to the role) had better stockpile "cute" shoes, though it wouldn't be surprising to see some name actress take it on the road next. Ms. White, with an impressive stage, screen, and television resume doesn't need to. Boston can be thankful that "Butley" go moved to earlier in the season. This show is a good antidote and part of a great start for the winter season.

"Bad Dates " by Teresa Rebeck, Jan 2. - Feb. 1
Huntington Theatre Company at the Mystic Theatre
264 Huntington Ave., (617) 266 - 0800 Huntington Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”URINETOWN"
Date: Wed. Jan. 7 11:09 PM
Quicktake on "URINETOWN - the musical"

It’s a parody, it’s a satire, it’s a burlesque; no it’s a musical. Whatever “Urinetown - the musical” is, this production which started on the west coast has washed up downtown, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. If this farrago’s about anything, it’s about the world-view of the American musical theatre--and by extension, what that peculiar institution says about this society. The energetic cast, the cheesy special effects, the parodies of everything from Les Mis to B Movies, the tongue-in-cheek choreography which skewers Fosse, Strouman, et al, and constant reference to the lousy title make for a hilarious evening, even for the unititiated. “ThreePenny” which open this week at the New Rep keeps being mentioned, but “Johnny Johnson”, “The Cradle Will Rock”, and “Street Scene” might also be noted. This self-referential show’s garage roots at the Off-Off Broadway Fringe Fest are gleefully maintained however. The big stages are off to a good start this new year with a most unlikely show.
"URINETOWN - the musical" book - Greg Kotis, music Mark Hollman Jan. 6 - 18
Acara/Dodger Holding at the Colonial
106 Boylston,(617) 931 - 2787

From: "Sean D Bennett" sdbennet@bu.edu
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 10:42:21 -0500

Just want to say that MONTICEL, at the Playwrights Theatre, is just about the best new play I've seen in many years. What a great pleasure it is to hear and see such gorgeous writing - if there were any justice in this world, this play would win every award for which it is eligible, and the small theatre in which it is playing would be selling standing-room. The cast is luminous - they give deeply moving, brilliantly conceived performances. Birgit Huppich is wonderful. The direction, set design and lighting are all of the very highest category. There are only a few performances left, including an added Saturday Matinee, but MONTICEL is slated to close on Sunday. Too bad - some local company should pick it up and schedule it for next season - the playwright will be heard from many times in the future and it wouldn't hurt to be first in the "encouraging" line.
Sean D. Bennett
Senior Program Coordinator
B.U. School of Law

From: “will stackman” profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - “A Christmas Carol” adapted by Jon Kimbell, David James & David Zoffoli
Date: Wed, Dec 10, 11:13 PM
Quicktake on Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL

     NSMT uses the subtitle “A Musical Ghost Story” for their evolving adaptation of this holiday classic. This special effects filled production certainly has an otherworldly air. After fififteen years of development, NSMT manages to use every technical trick in their repertoire to bolster the equally well developed performances of a veteran cast. Each of the four ghosts, Marley and the three Christmases, has unique attributes which will surprise the uninitiated. Moreover, music director Janet Roma manages to conduct her nine piece ensemble from position over the stage with players seated in three separate locations as well as participating in the action, while singers enter the stage from all directions.
     As Scrooge, David Coffey returns for his 12th straight season, while George Dvorsky (Christmas Present) also appears for the 12th time, but not consecutively. Carol McMahon has them both beat, playing Scrooge’s housekeeper for the 13th time as well as Mrs. Fezziwig, while Tom Staggs has only played Marley for five. Coffey's Scrooge evokes more pity than most, but is extremely effective. Dvorsky's Ghost towers above the scene. Good voices abound, such as Jennifer D. Goode (no pun intended) playing nephew Fred’s bride (Meg), and Maureen Brennan as the Ghost of Christmas Past as well as Mrs. Cratchit. Michael Arden, as grown-up Tim, the Narrator, has an fine natural tenor. Wayne W. Pretlow and Edward M. Barker who both appeared in the world premiere of "Memphis" earlier in the season add to the multi-cultural aspect of this early Victorian show. Kathy Meyer (Dance Captain) and Rob Flebbe are the ever-present Pearlies, street performing acrobat/dancers when not assisting in almost every scene as constantly recostumed factotuums. The youngest members of the cast too deserve applause.
If you’ve seen a more conventional adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” you’ll be pleased and intrigued by the insights NSMT's musical theatre version affords. They've even turned the curtain selling scene into an eleven o'clock number based a grim music hall favorite. North Shore's theatre-in-the-round is just off 128 past the Liberty Tree Mall. Follow the directions on their website. They do sell out, so reserve ahead.
“A Christmas Carol” based on Dickens, Dec. 5 - 21
North Shore Music Theatre
62 Dunham Rd., Beverley, MA (978) 232 - 7200 North Shore Music Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - " Monticel' " by Russell Lees
Date: Mon, December 8, 11:21 PM
Quicktake on MONTICEL'

     The third play in BPT's fall season of new plays exploring moments in American political history where politics, race, and personality combine to illuminate some aspect of the national psyche is possibly the most problematic. Russell Lees "Monticel'" tackles the enigma of Thomas Jefferson, cash-strapped Virginia slaveholder and aristocrat, author of the Declaration, national politician, and very private intellectual. The author has combined recent speculation and discoveries concerning Jefferson's relations with Sally Hemmings, a slave inherited from his deceased wife, with the politics of the disputed election which made him President, with his closest rival , New York's Aaron Burr, Vice President. The catalyst for the action in Lees play, however, is the shadowy figure of James Hemmings, Sally's older brother whom Jefferson freed, for reasons unspecified.
    The characters in Lees' piece are an interesting mix. Nigel Gore plays an appropriately magisterial Jefferson. The politics of the period are represented first by Steven Barkheimer as the antifundamentalist pamphleteer, James Callender, jailed briefly under the Alienation and Sedition Act, the major blot on John Adams' presidency. The opposition appears as a Federalist Congressman, Francis Williams, played with cold calculation by Charles Weinstein. Williams attempts to convince Jefferson to bow out in favor of Burr "for the good of the country," on the assumption that the less principled New Yorker will be more willing to compromise. In the midst of this swirl of backroom politics is Birgit Huppuch as Patsy Jefferson Randolph, the youngest daughter, in a tizzy at the prospect of going to Washington to be her father's hostess. The return from Philadelphia of James Hemmings, played forcefully by Vincent E. Sliders, also has Patsy at once delighted and more than usually in a state. And quietly going about her household duties through all this drama is Shari Johnson Atkins at Sally Hemmings, conflicted, worried about her infant son, aware of her precarious position in the household.
There may be too many "big ideas" in this script, each brought to the fore, often not really resolved. The tension is palpable under Wesley Sack relentless direction, which may have been the only viable choice at this stage of the piece's development. Historical drama is always a challenge; the emotions and politics in this play could easily support an opera. Haddon Kime’s excellent original music and soundscape only scratch the surface of such a possibility. Richard Chambers' symbolic set, dominated by a black, white, and gray American Flag--with the current 50 stars--and three classic pillars, once again demonstrates this Norton and IRNE winners mastery of subtle uncluttered design. As the current campaign for the White House heats up, a reminder of the turmoil at the beginning of the process, with issues of states rights, race relations, and international tensions looming, is worth considering.
" Monticel' " by Russell Lees, Dec. 4 - 21
Boston Playwrights' Theatre, Studio B
949 Comma. Ave., Allston, (617) 358 - 7529 Boston Playwrights Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Truman Capote's Holiday Memories" by Russell Vandenbrouke
Date:Thur, Dec 4, 10:39 PM

     This pleasant production based on adaptations of two Capote autobiographical short stories--"The Thanksgiving Visitor" and "A Christmas Memory" is a welcome addition to this holiday season. Once again, the Huntington's rehearsal hall, Studio 210 has been turned into an impressive venue. Director Jim Petosa's cast, headed by Helen-Jean Arthur as "Aunt" Sook, is uniformly excellent without falling into Southern stereotypes. Arthur has worked with Petosa, director of B.U.'s Theatre Arts, at the Olney Theatre Center in Washington DC, , his other venue, during her extensive career.
    William Gardiner, seen last summer at the Publick, now studying at B.U., binds the show together as the adult narrator. Chris Conner, a sophomore, is quite believable as Capote's younger self, seven year old Buddy. Without Gardiner's constant focus this memory play would easily become precious. Two senior acting students take all the other roles. Bob Braswell is especially convincing as the neighborhood bully, while Emily Strange has moments as a girl who bests him in the schoolyard and a simpering cousin. Kenichi Takahashi's unit set compresses Buddy and Sook's house into a playground for this odd pair. The most impressive stagecraft however is the use of shadowed actors behind the cyc and various projections, which enlarge the world of the show. Mathew Novotny's lighting design ties it all together, along with Matt Griffin's soundscape. This show's production values are equal to any currently running in town.
     This presentation is part of B.U. Professional Theatre Initiative, employing seasoned actors working with aspiring students. Starting with "Hay Fever" featuring Paula Plum and Richard Snee last spring, such efforts will probably receive the attention they deserve when the two new spaces being built at the B.C.A. can be used. More vigorous promotion will be required, however, to get shows like this one the audience they deserve. Performances of this 90 minute piece start at 7 on Tuesday and Thursday and prices are reasonable, making this an ideal family outing, close to both the Orange and Green lines.
"Holiday Memories" adapted by Russell Vandenbroucke, Nov. 18 - Dec. 21
B.U.Professional Theatre Initiative in Studio 210,
264 Huntington Ave, Boston (617) 266-0800 B.U.P.T.I

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Snow in June" by Charles L. Mee
Date: Wed, Dec 3, 11:31 PM
Quicktake on SNOW IN JUNE

     It's snowing plastic on stage at the Loeb when the audience arrives. It stops snowing occasionally during the action, but the chorus has to dig the principles out for their curtain calls. Director Chen Shi-Zheng's recasting of a Kunju musical play or "Chines Opera" from the Yuan Dynasty into contemporary vernacular, with a Country and Western flavor supplied by Paul Drescher's score, is rather rudimentary. Charles Mee provides a few whiffs of Brecht in the text. The vengeful ghost ending is a modernization of the ancient text.
     Evan Harlan's ensemble Andromeda does the composer proud, especially given only rarely inspired lyrics. The three actors, David Patrick Kelley, last seen here in Enrico IV, Rob Campbell, who appeared in The Orphan of Zhao for the director at Lincoln Center, and the ART's Thomas Derrah give predictably mannered performances, quite skillful but not very engaging. There's a lot of shades of Hong Kung Fuey films-- plus snow shuffling by the 12 member ensemble of ART students. In one long act--only about 85 minutes this time--there's clownish villainy, stylized acting, and impressive vocals with surtitles by Quin Yi, a superb young traditional singer. The drama is slight but the production is cohesive with effective moments of stagecraft. ART regulars won't be too surprized.

"Snow in June" text by Charles L. Mee based on The Injustice Done to Tou O , Nov. 29 - Dec. 29
American Repertory Theatre at Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St. Camb., (617) 547 - 8300 A.R.T./

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "My Life with the Kringle Kult" by John Kuntz
Date: Mon. Dec. 1, 11:37pm

     Nostalgia is a big part of the holidays, but a trip to an alternate universe where Santa Claus rules in Kringletown, right next door to the realm of the Tooth Fairy, is a new sort of holiday adventure. Those who caught Centastage's "Spiced Eggnog" last year about this time will be more prepared for John Kuntz's extended fantasy playing for two more weeks. This time Kuntz is Karl Kringle, Head Elf while Laura Napoli is Twinkle Kringle, a sweet young elfette in charge of new arrivals at Santa's workshop aka the audience. The villain of the piece is Baroness Tinsel aka Page Turner and ultimately Mitzi, all played by Rick Park. Jenna McFarland's set is tackily festive with appropriate special effects. Kuntz is currently enrolled at BU in the graduate Playwrighting program, where his compatriots will probably have a field day with this script. Meanwhile, if you want something wickeder than "Messugah-Nuns" and less camp than "Who's Afraid of the Virgin Mary", Landry's latest at the Machine, these three comic virtuoso's will brighten up your holiday. Just watch out for the brussel sprouts.

"My Life with the Kringle Kult" by John Kuntz, Nov. 28 - Dec.13
Boston Theatre Works in the BCA Theatre
239 Tremont, (617) 427 - ARTS Boston Theatre Works

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Meshugah-NUNS" by Dan Goggin
Date:Sun, Nov 30, 10:38 PM
Quicktake on MESHUGAH-NUNS

     Nunsense #5, the Ecumenical (sic) addition to this popular franchise is the Lyric's holiday offering. Fans of the Nuns will recognize their old friends, Sr, Robert Anne from Brooklyn, played this time by Maryann Zschau, the Reverend Mother done with a fine brogue by Chamber Repertory veteran, Delina Christie, her second in command Sr. Hubert, played by Maureen Keiller, seen last year as the Queen of the Nile in "Epic Proportions", and the unpredictable Sr. Amnesia taken by newcomer Sara Corey, with her sidekick Sr. Mary Annette. The quartet is joined this time by Howard Liszt, who was supposed to play Tevye in that nights show. As the only man in the company, Frank Gayton, last seen as Buddy in "Follies(in concert)" manages to hold his own.
     The situation this time is that the Sisters are on an ecumenical cruise. Due to rough weather, Howard is the only actor capable of performing, so the five of them concoct a show, which leads to such numbers as "Contrition", "If I were a Catholic", and a five minute synopsis of "Fiddler" with the audience enlisted to sing the chorus. Speciality numbers include the Rev as Sophie Tucker, the other three as "Three Shayna Madeles" a la the Andrews Sisters, and a rousing closer called "Rock the Boat" where Ms. Keiller brings down the house. There's nothing controversial beyond the original premise of this rather innocent series. You'll get more of the jokes if you've seen "Fiddler", which is currently playing at Turtle Lane, but you don't have to be Catholic or have seen the four previous travesties to get the point. It little good fun is always welcome, especially this time of year.
"Meshugah-Nuns" by Dan Goggin, Nov 28 - Dec. 27
Lyric Stage Company at Boston YWCA
140 Clarendon St. Boston, (617) 437-7172 Lyric Stage Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - Stoneham's "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Date:Sat, Nov 29, 10:48 PM

     The annual Christmas Carol derby is underway with Stoneham's entry, for the fourth year, off to a solid start. Elegant Dale Place is once again portraying Mr. Scrooge, with stalwarts Christopher Chew and Kathy St. George as the Cratchits. The Publick Theatre's Diego Arciniegas is dramatically scarey as the Ghost of Marley, while 10 year old Katherine Lucas from Tewksbury debuts impressively as a tiny Christmas Past, Thomas M. Reiff reprises Christmas Present (and Fezziwig), while Tony Rossi, a Melrose sophomore operates the giant Christmas Future. Peter Edmund Haydu, fresh from "Haymarket" at BPT, returns as the chief narrator, Timothy. Shawn Sturnik is back as Fred, Scrooge's breezy nephew, while Julie Jirousek, seen last month as "The Girl in the Frame," once again plays Mille, his lovely wife, as well as Scrooge's cockney charwoman. Shelley Bolman debuts as young Ebenezer with charming Laura DeGiacomo reprising Belle, his lost sweetheart. And Deidre Shaw's strong voice again soars out as Mrs. Fezziwig. Janie Howland's picture postcard set is charming as ever.
     If taking in "A Christmas Carol" fits your family's holiday plans, Stoneham's has all the memorable Dicken's quotes, good singing, charming costumes, lively dancing, not to mention a talented cast of local favorites. Their prices are reasonable, there are a variety of local restaurants, and plenty of free parking just up Main Street (Rt. 28) by City Hall. The theatre is two miles down Rt.28 off I95(Rt. 128) and only a short drive up I93 from Boston, Cambridge, or Somerville. Consider your downtown alternatives.

"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Nov. 28 - Dec. 23
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham MA, (781) 279 - 2200 Stoneham Theatre

MINORITY from G.L.Horton
My family piled into a van and went to Stoneham to see “A Christmas Carol”. Everyone enjoyed it, in their separate ways. The tinier than Tiny Tim member of the family went after promising to be Good As Gold-- up to now he had only been taken to shows for his age group or outdoor theatre or shows amplified to the point where a bit of wriggling and whispering wouldn’t annoy his neighbors. But the promise wasn’t necesssary-- the Little Guy was utterly rapt, absorbed past wriggling. On this basis he has been upgraded to Approved Junior Audience member, and will be awarded a trip to “Fiddler on the Roof’ at Turtle Lane in the near future. He was no help for this review, however. When asked what he liked best, he replied “Nothing. It was all good.”

The Teen was absorbed too, and abandoned his cynical pre-show opinion that “A Christmas Carol” was likely to be less exciting than an action film. He joined a discussion of the stagecraft involved in the vanishing of the Ghost of Christmas Future, and gave high makes to all the acting and singing. When the Teen arrived home (after 10:30 pm), he got out his trumpet and began to practice the carols he’d just heard-- an action that speaks louder than words.

The adult professional musician in our family group was lavish with praise for all the singing, solo and ensemble. Everyone agreed that the quality of the music was so high that we could have closed our eyes and simply appreciated the Stoneham performance as a concert-- though no one would have wanted to give up the sight of the lavish costumes, charming sets, or energetic dancing. They gave the whole experience high marks for holiday cheer, saying that they would reccommend the cozy Stoneham Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” to all their friends -- and that I should pass the Horton-Williams-Cook-Meyer family approval along to The Mirror.

As for me: I laughed, I cried, and Diego’s Marley made my hair stand on end. My critical mind did note that this production’s use of music is peculiar in that its songs and carols seem to be a kind of parallel structure rather than integrated into and expressing the narrative. But that’s all right-- the music is beautifully traditional, I wouldn’t want to miss a measure of it; and the narrative features Dickens straight up. I am sentimental about such things. I love the story, and I know that the depth of my enjoyment is based on having had Dickens read to me by my grandmother when I was so young I sat on her lap while hearing it; and on being taken to various stage and film versions as I grew up, and then on taking my own daughter and stepkids and now my grandchildren-- and imagining as I experience it for the umpteenth time that there is a ghostly Christmas Future in which its comfort and joy reaches the hearts of generations to come. The cast seems to have these feelings too. They look as if they know that they are performing something more than just a good show full of holiday cheer. They are making memories, creating the blessed ties that bind.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Creation of the World (and other Business)" by Arthur Miller
Date: Sat, Nov 22, 12:14 AM

     It is difficult to argue with God, but if any living dramatist can take a shot at it, Arthur Miller can, and did, about three decades ago. It may be easier to follow his logic on the page, but Fred Robbins and his cast at the Coop bring much of this work to life. Forrest Walter plays the Deity while Naaemah White-Peppers plays the Adversary in this dark manachean comedy, which after all ends in the world's first murder. The role of Lucifer was written to be played by a man, and while White-Peppers is striking in her leathers and bustier, the temptations she represents may confuse the issue.
     Marc Harpin is a goofball Adam, quite cute in his nude suit, pubes and all, while Chinasa Ogbuagu is far more serious most of the time in hers. In the second act their sons show up. Samuel Young plays a distant Cain while Michael Avellar is just a little too nerdy as Abel. The contrast works, however. In the first act these two play seraphim as part of the choir. Kate Fredric as Chemuel, the Angel of Mercy, and Yindy Vatanavan as Azreal, the Angel of Death, don't make much of their underwritten parts. Perhaps casting two petite actresses in roles written for large men wasn't the best choice.
    However, IRNE winner Walters is compelling in his frustration with humankind, while Norton awardee White-Peppers is certainly seductive. In this time of increasing strife worldwide, the original falling out between brothers is worth reconsidering. Seeing a drama unfold often reveals layers that don't appear on the printed page. Robbin's direction makes good use of Thomas M.J. Callahan's expansive set which even makes use of one of the actual stained glass windows in the hall. Matt Soule's lighting does a lot with a little, though it doesn't quite solve the dilemma of varying skin tones. Izhar Schejter's original music and soundscape adds a lot to the evening. Miller is well served by this production.

"Creation of the World (and other business)" by Arthur Miller, thru Dec. 13
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville MA / (617) 625-1300 x1 Theatre Coop

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - Chris Calloway's "Blanche & her Joy Boys" by Mark St. Germain
Date: Thurs, Nov 20, 9:30 AM

     One wants to like this effort and its execution, now into its second incarnation. Chris Calloway is a charming presence with her share of the family's talent and a wicked sense of mimicry. But this script, celebrating the life of her aunt, Blanche, her father's older sister, still needs development. This current version derives from one which Sheryl Bailey Heath and Chris Calloway workshopped at the Barrington Stage Company last summer, directed by Juliane Boyd. The current rewrite is credited to Mark St Germain, who did the book for "Moby Dick" which climaxed the New Rep's season two years ago. All the elements are there but there's still work to be done. Although told as an extended flashback, the storyline is too linear and tends to plod, especially in the first half. Memory plays can jump around more, allowing various strands of the action to be woven more tightly. The irony of the title could be played more as well.
    This show should probably be described as "a biography -- with music" and here too there's room for more finesse. Chris Calloway has an interesting voice and excellent diction, but lacks the brass needed for some of the selections. Even in an intimate space such as the New Rep, modern sound reinforcement might help. And while music director, arranger, and accompanist David Alan Bunn backed by Frank Abraham on the bass produce an engaging sound, much of music being presented requires a swing band. At least a few numbers would benefit from fuller sound, even if it had to recorded, preferably by Chris Calloway's own ensemble. An electronic keyboard as well as an upright might also be a step in the right direction.
     These reservations shouldn't keep any fan of musical theatre, swing era jazz, and American music from catching this unique show. Chris Calloway is a tireless performer, clearly enjoying recreating her amazing family and the world they helped create. So "Hi-de-Ho" yourself out to Newton Highlands; the New Rep's still just a short walk from the T and there's plenty of parking nearby.
"Blanche & her Joy Boys" by Mark St. Germain (Sheryl Bailey Heath & Chris Calloway), Nov. 12 - Dec. 14
New Repertory Theatre and the Barrington Stage Co.
54 Lincoln St. Newton Highlands, (617) 332-1646 New Repertory Theatre

From: Geralyn Horton g.l.horton@mindspring.com
Subject: Quick take or minority report "Follies In Concert"
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 13:42:50 -0500

Follies in Concert

Musical performance in two acts. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Goldman. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Musical director, Michael Joseph. Choreography, Ilyse Robbins. Lights, Ellen Moore. Sound, E.L. Copeland. Produced by Overture Productions.

The "Follies in Concert" that Deb Poppel's Overture Productions has mounted at John Hancock Hall is glorious, not to be missed. There were some empty seats at last Friday's opening--- don't let this happen again! It isn't just that Boston's splendid home team singers put their individual stamp on the brilliant and moving star-turn songs that stud this show: Kathy St. George's "Ah, Paris"; Mary Callanan's "Broadway Baby"; Bobbie Steinbach's "I'm Still Here"; Maryann Zschau's "Could I Leave You?" and "The Ballad of Lucy and Jessie" ; Frank Gayton's "Buddy's Blues": and Leigh Barrett's "Don't Look at Me" "In Buddy's Eyes," "Losing My Mind," and "Too Many Mornings." It isn't just the difference a full orchestra free of the pit and in intimate collaboration with the performers makes. It's that director Spiro Veloudos and conductor Michael Joseph and the Overtures company has captured the tragic transcendence latent in musical theatre, which "Follies" mines by claim-jumping the field from Minsky's to Mozart.

It is true that "In Concert" presents "Follies" interlocking set of metaphors with only a nod towards those-- like "Beautiful Girls" "Mirror, Mirror" or "Loveland"-- that are dependent on Spectacle, but you can close your eyes as the gorgeous sound embraces you and picture a production to match. You may never have another chance to hear Sondheim's "Follies" ensembles and choruses with this degree of clarity and balance and expressivity. Beginning and coming full circle with "Waiting for the Girls Upstairs", the ensembles are woven from longing and loss: banal patterns, easy ironies, clever quips and second hand fantasies individualized and harmonized so beautifully that they break your heart, time after time. Love vs lust, ripening vs decay, art vs manipulation-- the lines are so fine that they may be visible only to the eyes of innocent folly or of enlightenment. Most of us stumble around in ignorance, chasing rainbows, falling through the cracks, most of the time-- though our desperation is quieter than the cruel eloquence James Goldman's book and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics give their characters. The eloquence of the first act "The Road You Didn't Take" is parodied and purged through the razz-matazz of Show Biz psychoanalysis finale in "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow" "Love Will See Us Through" and "Live, Laugh, Love", and then we're back to "The Girls Upstairs"-- but it's not the same. We've been on a purgatorial journey, to arrive at wisdom, and wisdom's broken but open heart.

Follies in Concert
Musical performance in two acts. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Goldman. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. Musical director, Michael Joseph. Choreography, Ilyse Robbins. Lights, Ellen Moore. Sound, E.L. Copeland. Produced by Overture Productions.
At John Hancock Hall, Friday Nov. 22 and Saturday Nov. 23, 8:00pm
tickets 617-931-2787.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "FOLLIES In Concert" by AUTHOR
Date: Sat, Nov 15, 10:52 AM
Quicktake on FOLLIES In Concert

     You probably won't get the chance to see this many of Boston's finest musical theatre performers in one show for some time to come. Nor is it likely that anyone in town will be able to do as musically sound (full orchestra and ensemble) a production of this ground-breaking (1971) Sondheim classic given current costs. There were unfilled seats (towards the back) at last Friday's opening, but seats for this coming weekend may well be gone by showtime.
     Tony winner Len Cariou is a commanding presence as Ben Stone, but the real vocal fire comes from luminous Leigh Barrett as Sally Plummer and vivacious Maryann Zschau as Phyllis Stone, former showgirls who married a couple of young lawyers whose lives took different turns. The reliable Frank Gayton gets to strut his stuff as Buddy Plummer. As the central quartet in this complex piece, these four set a high standard for the rest of the show. Paul D. Farwell, who directed "Follies" for Turtle Lane a while back doubles as the actual stage manager for this enormous cast and gets to play Weisman the impresario as well, the easier part of his job.
     Local luminaries from stage and cabaret get to shine as well. Kathy St. George is predictably over-the-top as Solange in a red sequinned sheath while statuesque Mary Callahan brings down the house as Hattie, the Broadway Baby, when not exchanging jibes with diminutive Solange. Bobbie Steinbach, in a real change from "A Girl's War" is definitely still here as Carlotta, more in the Stritch mode than de Carlo, but which one's still working? Deb Poppel (who also produced this extravaganza) and Frank Aronson, seen in "Marty" last year, make a perfect vaudeville team. Barbara Morash has the ideal presence and voice as Heidi the opera singer, while Lianne Grasso, seen last year as the ingenue in Sweeney Todd, is charming as young Heidi. And Brad. D. Peloquin as Roscoe has the perfect tenor for serenading beautiful girls, who do actually appear from time to time wearing Richard Itcsak's refurbished creations from the Turtle Lane production.
    Indeed, the younger folks in the show, headed by Brent Reno, seen last weekend in American Classics' "Peggy Ann" and Caroline deLima, playing hooky from "Jacques Brel...." as young Ben and Phyllis, with Josh Grissetti and Stephanie Birnbaum as Buddy and Sally, demonstrate the depth of talent waiting to move center stage around town. When the entire cast of more than two dozen, including conservatory and musical theatre students, sings out, the hall rings. Director Spiro Veloudous and music director/conductor Michael Joseph have taken this concert performance to a musical high. Would there were funds to do an encore like this every year. And it's a benefit for Boston-based youth arts programs. What're you waiting for?
" FOLLIES" by James Goldman & Stephen Sondheim, Nov. 14, 21 - 22
Overture Productions at John Hancock Hall
200 Berkeley St., (617) 931 - 2787 (TM) or BOSTIX

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "ORATORIO OF THE POSSSIBILITARIANS" by Bread & Puppet Theatre
Date: Fri. Nov. 14, 10:30 AM
Quicktake on “The Oratorio of the Possibilitarians”

     If you need a blast from the past and some hope for the future, get over to the renovated hall at the Cambridge YMCA for Bread & Puppets sortof-annual fall spectacular, complete with brass band and lots of political jibes. The shows in two parts; a sort of potpourri at the start featuring The Really Bad Idea Theatre Troup among other favorites, Intermission is proceeded by the company’s founder and director, Peter Schumann as Uncle Sam on the tallest stilts you’ll see outside of Barnum and Bailey. The “Oratorio” is far more serious with edgier humor and some really striking images. In any other country, these folks would be a designated National Treasure. There’s also a “Symposium on Subversive Papier-Mache” on Monday Nov. 17th at 7 pm. which includes Howard Zinn and Robbie McCauley. Should be a rouser.

"The Oratorio of the Possibilitarians" by Bread & Puppet, Nov. 11 - 23
Bread & Puppet at Durrell Hall, Camb, YMCA
820 Mass. Ave. Camb, (617) 661-9622

From: Norfolk1a@aol.com Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 12:25:56 -0500
To: larry@theatermirror.com
Subject: Quick Take

Believe the hype. The Theatre Royal Bath's As You Like It playing at the Wilbur is the real deal. It is refreshing to see a touring British production of Shakespeare that is not all dependent on a star or two's central performances, and the discouragements that I felt when watching Ian McKellan's Richard III, Simon Russel Beale's Hamlet and the Donmar Warehouse Twelfth Night have been replaced with a regenerated respect for British mastery of the bard.

A wise director like Peter Hall can see that Shakepeare's plays are ENSEMBLE pieces, and does he ever deliver an ensemble. It would take to long to list the moments and performances, but special mention must be made, (even in a quick take,) of Rebecca Hall's Rosalind. That's right, "Hall," as in Peter Hall's 19 year old daughter. Part of the magic of the evening for me was watching my cynical feelings of nepotism melt away within minutes of her taking the stage. And by the time Rosalind and Orlando start their chemistry, you have long forgotten Ms. Hall's pedigree, or even her name for that matter. Hers is not a perfect performance, but it is as winning as I have ever seen, and I don't think there is a single line of Shakespeare's verse that she rendered unitelligible or vague.

Any actors or directors out there who wish to see inspiring Shakespeare should beg, borrow, steal or pay for a ticket, (A Christmas Gift to yourself,) to see this production before it leaves.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Julius Caesar" by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Fri, Nov 7, 3:01 PM
Quicktake on JULIUS CAESAR directed by Daniel Gidron

It may interest fans of the Bard to reacquaint themselves with the prequel to "Antony and Cleopatra" which BTW staged earlier in the fall. Shakespeare Now! is performing a two hour version of this tragedy, which is not produced as often as it used to be, in the large three-quarter hall at Pine Manor. All performances but one are weekdays at 10 am for school audiences brought in.
The cast features Jason Asprey from Shakespeare & Co. as the lean and hungry Cassius, a part which he plays with intensity. Christopher Brophy appears as a solid but less-than-commanding Brutus. Kim H. Carrell's Caesar is definitely past his prime, but effective, if not up to Cassius' description of him. Lewis Wheeler would be acceptable as Antony in a collegiate production; here he's too lightweight. Seth Reich as Octavius is hampered by an insufficient costume and no concept of what he will become. Seth Compton is good as Lucius, Brutus's faithful young servant and does a few other minor parts quite handily.
Melissa Sine, a Shakespeare Now! veteran is convincing if a bit young as Portia, but too distinctive to be doubling as a collection of male messengers and even the Greek slave who helps Cassius commit suicide. Artistic Director Linda Lowy as Calphurnia is on the same level as Carrell, but out-of-place in this production when she doubles a variety of Romans from one of the conspirators to a soldier in the field. One can sympathize with tight budgets, but two more young men as utility walk-ons would have made things less jarring.
This production falls somewhere between the "bare-bones" tradition and complete staging. Brynna Bloomfield's three substantial set pieces provide an effective background to the action. Amanda Mujica's Roman costuming sets the period well (even if some of the tunics and togas seem a bit too short), while Michael Micucci's lighting and Dewey Dellay's original soundscape add to the texture of the show. This level of polish makes some of the doubling intrusive, though many members of the cast have effective moments outside their named roles. The largely male cast overcomes most of the acoustic difficulties of the hall, though some lines are lost when played down or to the side.
"Julius Caesar" by Wm. Shakespeare, Nov. 4 - 21; call for evening performance
Shakespeare Now! at Pine Manor College
400 Heath St., Brookline (617) 326 - 3643 Shakespeare Now!

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Silent Movie Play" by Rough & Tumble Theatre
Date:Fri, Nov 7, 2003 11:08 pM

     Rough & Tumble's fall edition of "theatre that doesn't suck" is a revival of their earlier blah-blahless "Silent Movie Play", informed by eight years of experience. With Sean Barney as the humble shopboy--industrial seemingly on hiatus this fall--the cast includes Kristin Baker reprising her original role as the shopkeeper's daughter. Jason Myatt joins R&T as her father , along with Ron Rittinger as the dastardly villain. Irene Daly completes the ensemble as Sarge, the lovable neighbor hood cop. Per usual, everyone except the hero doubles as all the incidental characters as well. R&T regulars George Saulnier III and Tori Low are appearing elsewhere this fall; Tori in California at the Del Arte School. Who knows who'll be doing what in R&T's surprise show in March & April.
Dan Milstein directs the revival having also done the original. Resident composer Fred Harrington at the keyboard also gets to play his original score again. Bonnie Duncan works miracles with thrift shop costuming for yet another show. Brett Bundock has given them more scenery that usual, including an expressionist streetscape backdrop. And if Larry counts the instruments, he'll realize that Kathy Maloney has once again provided atmosphere using two dozen ordinary clip lights, plus two strings of miniature holiday lights to illuminate the house. Compared to 1/2 price mediocre seats from Bostix, at ten bucks, The Silent Movie Play is the real theatrical bargain in town, and it's not actually in the basement, even if it feels that way.

"The Silent Movie Play" directed by Dan Milstein, Oct. 31 - Nov. 22
Rough & Tumble Theatre at BCA, Leland
539 Tremont, (617) 426 - 2787 Rough & Tumble

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Boston Fringe" by AUTHOR
Date: Thurs, Nov 6, 11:25 PM
Quicktake on BOSTON FRINGE 2003 Nov. 6th program

     Company One's Boston Fringe Project fits the definition of such events rather loosely. Everything's taking place in the BCA Black Box and has been programmed. by the producers. There's little of the anything can happen, show up and perform spirit. Still the juxtaposition of various companies, some of whom weren't seem at the BCA last year for economic reasons, all with some sort of social viewpoint, has potential. Company One's own piece, the two part "Before My Eyes" ,which is probably intended to grow into a full-length offering, bookends each performance. Based on published interviews with failed Palestinian suicide bombers, and similarly with Israeli soldiers, it is a serious attempt to dramatize the impossible situation these ordinary people find themselves in.
The rest of the show I saw included Centastage's production of Kathleen Rogers' "Ballast" seen at the Boston Theatre Marathon. It has a solid cast but still seems to be a fragment of a longer work. Tricord Production's "Inner City Blues" is energetic but unresolved, almost self-frustrating in its attempt to illuminate the difficulties young urbanites of color face. Zeitgeist tosses in Pinter's brief and intimidating "The New World Order" without getting beyond its indubitable menace. Other evenings include work by the New African Company, Hysterical Performances, and the Mill6 Theatre Collaborative, all with their own special take on life in these times. There are also surprise guests, some already scheduled after every show.
"Boston Fringe"; works by Company One, Kathleen Rogers, Keith Antar Mason & Ntozake Shange, Harold Pinter, etc. Nov. Oct. 30 - Nov 22
Company One, Centastage, Tricord Prod., & Zeitgeist Stage Co. at BCA, Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 426-2787 Company One

From: "Kim Carrell" cyrano3112@hotmail.com
Subject: "Haymarket"
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2003 11:10:31 -0500

I wanted to send in a brief review of "Haymarket" at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, but after reading Beverly Creasey's review there's no need. I can't add anything to what she said. The show is excellent and the performances truly marvelous. So I will simply say this - Get tickets. GO. SEE IT NOW.
Kim H. Carrell

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
To: announcements@theatermirror.com
Subject: RE: Correction
I'm happy to correct my comments on Swan Stage's "Othello" last August and recognize that costumer Leila Jaques created the period costuming herself.

That I assumed it might be borrowed from Emerson is a testament to her work, as her solo efforts seemed up to the standards of their shop. Others looking for such quality work might want to contact Leila through swanstage.com
Will Stackman


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Haymarket" by Zayd Dorn
Date:Sat, Nov 1, 11:40 PM
Quicktake on HAYMARKET

     Chicago's equivalent of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, an earlier and perhaps even more egregious miscarriage of justice, gets a stunning retelling with a superb cast in Zayd Dorn's new play "Haymarket." Barlow Adamson, Ken Baltin, Peter Edmund Haydu and Birgit Huppuch each play two contrasted roles drawn from various levels of society and the city government. Jacqui Parker and Wesley Savick play Lucy and Albert Parsons, the editors of the radical newspaper "The Alarm." The play goes far beyond the damning fact that Albert Parsons was tried and executed for the deaths caused by a bomb thrown at a rally after he finished speaking to examine the impact of the event. Current parallels are clear but the drama focuses on the effect on persons, large and small, of the time.
Adam Zahler's direction is crisp and to the point, Richard Chambers set is elegantly simple, Rachel Padula-Shufelt's period costumes (1886) are accurate and effective, and Haddon Kime’s original music completes the show. A better ensemble cast drawn from local talent would be hard to imagine and there hasn't been a better example of efficient contemporary stagecraft this fall. This production is another triumph for the developmental process for playwrights at Boston Playwrights.
"Haymarket" by Zayd Dorn, Oct 30 - Nov.16
Boston Playwrights Theatre
949 Comm. Ave., Allston, (617) 359 - 7529 Boston Playwrights Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norman Juster & Sheldon Harnick
Date: Sat, Nov 1, 11:05 pm

     This is a really big show, with a large energetic cast of professionals, college students, and children in the Wheelock Family Theatre style, There's action in the aisles, fanciful characters broadly acted, and a safe familiar story. Fans of Juster's book won't be disappointed, those unfamiliar with this modern classic may find its linguistic games a bit precious. The late Arnold Black's score seems to have been constructed for student players and supports Harnick's semi-clever lyrics.
    WFT's diverse casting suits this script especially well. Ricardo Engermann is outstanding as Tock the Watchdog and gets to show off his gymnastic prowess as well. Professional singers in the company provide strong support for the variety of young voices, including Tristan Viner-Brown reprising the role of Milo he played earlier at the Harwich Junior Theatre. James P. Bryne's direction has a touch of camp like many professional children's theatre shows. Both parents and children might be better served by a more imaginative approach. But it's safe to say that a good time will be had by all..

"The Phantom Tollbooth"
by Norman Juster & Sheldon Harnick, Lyrics Harnick: music, Arnold Black Oct 31 - N0v 30
Wheelock Family Theatre, Wheelock College
180 the Riverway, Boston (617) 879 - 2300 Company Website

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "On the 20th Century" by Comden & Green; music Cy Coleman
Date: Sat, Nov 1, 9:32 AM
Quicktake on ON THE 20TH CENTURY

     If paying over a hundred dollars for a pair of tickets to an old-fashioned musical seems absurd not to mention the cost of parking in downtown Boston, look west to Wayland and the exquisite little Vokes Theatre on Rt. 20 where "On the 20th Century", one of Comden & Green's legendary shows is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Based of a screwball comedy film which starred John Barrymore and Carole Lombard, this show business show takes sly digs at the movies and the theatre, with able assistance from Coleman's score, which send up--among others--Richard Rogers, Kurt Weill, Jacques Brel, and C&G's old collaborator, Leonard Bernstein, all in good fun. The voices are good, the lyrics impeccable, the script improbable, and the performances hilarious. And designer Stephen McGonagle and his crew have produced a set you have to see to believe, especially given the size of the stage in miniature hall.
Check the website for sold-out performances, and reserve now, for this or later performances in what promises to be a stand-out season.
"On the 20th Century" by Betty Comden & Adolf Green, music by Cy Coleman, Oct. 30 - Nov. 15
Vokes Players at the Beatrice Hereford's Vokes Theatre
Rt. 20 Wayland MA, (508) 358-4034 Vokes Players

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Girl in the Frame" by Jeremy Desmon
Date: Sun, Nov 2, 8:32 PM

     The Stoneham Theatre's latest Emerging Stages project, the world premiere of Jeremy Desmon's "The Girl in the Frame" may be the world's first metrosexual musical. Smartly written with witty lyrics and an acceptable if sketchy score, this four character bijou chronicles the quirky beginnings of the marriage of two twenty-something professionals Alex and Laney, played by Josef Hansen and Ceit McCaleb. Hansen appeared at Stoneham in "Little Shop" and "Man of La Mancha." Into their frenetic four year engagement comes the girl in the frame - a picture frame - Julie Jirousek, whom Alex calls Evelyn and Laney calls Casey. But after their marriage --and Evelyn's departure -- Christopher Chew shows up as the even more fantastic Tomas. To say more would be giving away secrets from a show filled with delightful surprises and hilarious moments.
The cast is energetic and in good voice, with Chew once again parodying his own musical comedy charisma. Music director Timothy Evans keeps the tunes bouncing along, while director Weylin Symes keeps the action physical and funny. Jenna McFarland's set is a pleasant abstraction of an apartment with inset pieces as necessary, Christine Alger's realistic costumes have just enough fantasy to match the show, but keep things real. For a book clearly in development, the pace of the evening is sure. So be sure not to miss this one; Stoneham's closer than you think and there's plenty of free parking.
"The Girl in the Frame" byJeremy Desmon, Oct. 30 - Nov. 15
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St., Stoneham (781) 279-2200 Stoneham Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "BUTLEY" by Simon Gray
Date: Thurs, Oct 30, 8:33 AM
Quicktake on "Butley"

     The house was packed last night (it was the press opening), Alexander Dodge's set got applause (the BU shop does standard Broadway realism quite well), and of course the star (Nathan Lane) was cheered on his entrance. He also got the obligatory standing O at the end. What happened in between wasn't as spirited. Everyone did their best in this revival. Simon Gray's 1971 comedy of bad manners got the requisite laughs, mostly from Lane's physical comedy and the academic in-jokes (no surprise in Boston). Benedick Bates as Ben Butley's former student (and on-again off-again lover/office mate) plays his opaque part as written, without adding much. The script itself seems like old news; it's subject and structure as contrived as reference to the unities near the end (which can't be called a climax). Rent the 1974 movie with Alan Bates if you want to see what all the fuss was about, without so many parentheses.
PS. Jerry Kissel is Lane's understudy; it would be interesting to see what this Boston veteran and IRNE/Norton awardee could make of this piece, assisted by one of our more imaginative local directors.

"BUTLEY" by Simon Gray, Oct. 24 - Nov. 30
Hunting Theatre Company at Mystic Theatre
264 Huntington Ave. Boston, (617) 266 -0800 Huntington Theatre Company

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "TEMPTATION" by Vaclav Havel
Date: Sat, October 25, 11:20 PM
Quicktake on "Temptation"

     If you want a really scary Halloween, take in Vaclav Havel's "Temptation" performed by HRDC on the mainstage at the Loeb next weekend. Former Czech President Havel's retelling of the Faust legend, his most recent full-length script (1999) is predictably compelling and cautionary, even performed by undergraduates. The play concerns one Dr. Foustka, ably played by Greg Gagnon, a skilled physical comedian, whose life as a researcher at a scientific institute is totally disrupted when his delving into mystical matters calls up Fistula, played with demonic relish by John Dewis, who claims to be a sorcerer-on a disability pension.
     This play takes Havel back to his Absurdist roots as he subjects his hero to twists and turns in his relationship with Dr. Vilma, his colleague, played by New Zealander Julia Morton, his yearning for Marketa, the secretary, played by Sara Peterson, and his problems with his colleagues. The set stretches the full width of the front of the theatre, center seats or to the left are preferred. Sightline problems aren't as bad as "Lady with the Lapdog". Sound, lights, and costumes are effective, but a better fog machine would help. The last time this play was done around here was in Feb. 2000 over at the Theatre Coop just after Dubya was given the election. It seems scarier this time around. Especially since Havel himself signed a letter supporting Bush's approach to Iraq, before old Europe figured out our Prez really meant to do it.
"Temptation" by Vaclav Havel, Oct. 25 - Nov. 1
Harvard-Radcliffe Drama Club on the Loeb Mainstage
64 Brattle St. Harvard Sq., Camb MA (617) 547-8300

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 12:19:10 -0400
From: Ann Carpenter anncarpenter@comcast.net
Subject: excellent shows neglected

In the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of seeing two excellent shows that apparently flew under the Theater Mirror radar. I realize that Boston has a very active scene at this point and it's not possible to be everywhere so here's my two cents. The first show that I saw was "Dinner With Friends" at the brand new Chelsea TheatreWorks space presented by Theatre Zone. Theatre Zone used to perform at the old Actor's Workshop and attracted full houses with their excellent productions. This was again a top-notch production with experienced actors directed with professionalism. The small audience enjoyed itself immensely.

Last night I saw "Side Show" at Riverside TheatreWorks and along with the rest of the small audience was moved to reward the cast with a standing ovation. I see a lot of theater including musicals at many of Boston's leading local houses and Rebekah and Sarah Turner as the Hilton twins could perform on any of these stages. The rest of the cast was excellent also. So why the small audiences for these two shows? One thing they have in common is location..location..location. Both theaters are in out-of the -way urban neighborhoods that an audience may hesitate to go to. My advice is to take the risk and seek out these theaters. You will not be disappointed. Both shows run through Nov.1. Riverside's phone number is 617-361-7024 and TheatreZone can be reached at 617-887-2336.


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Pictures of Patty Hearst"
Date?Sat, Oct 11 12:26 AM

     This year's entry from B.U. in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival competition is Bill Lattanzi's "Pictures of Patty Hearst" a docu-drama reexamination of the 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst, before any of its present cast members were born. Kimberley Parker Green plays the title role; five other BU acting students play all the other parts, primarily the members of the SLA, but also reporters, Patty's parents and relatives, and citizens. There's also live percussion, mostly for effect, ably handled by Mora Townsend. Students and faculty from this production may become eligible for additional programs including scholarships. Incidentally, the year before's entry, Ronan Noone's "The Lepers of Baile Baiste" won him top honors.
Lattanzi, one of the co-founders of the Boston Theatre Marathon, attempts to show how Patty Hearst, a wealthy "California Girl" became enmeshed in the violent and paranoid world of this mini-cult. While the story has worldwide relevance today, with the spread of independent "terrorist" activity, Lattanzi's treatment is character, almost caricature, focused. But the cast is lively and interesting, with something of the air of an improv troupe. Those who remember the mindset of the Nixon years, when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, not to mention the Beach Boys or disco, may find somethings to remember here. What a long strange trip it's been. Patricia Hearst Shaw's children, by her ex-bodyguard, should be the same age as some of the cast members.

seen in preview
"Pictures of Patty Hearst" by Bill Lattanzi, Oct. 9 - 19
Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 358 - 7529 Boston Playwrights' Theatre

From: lherman
Subject: Re: Fwd: Everything Was Possible Date: Wed, 08 Oct 2003 10:46:02 +0000
Finally this morning is Siegel's review of A Man of No Importance and he trashes the music and also guy who played Alfie, then lets that half-empty perception color the whole review, including the headline, so the positive things he says are buried. Disgusting! Plus I thought Alfie was wonderful, and fully as "interesting" as my beloved Albert Finney. I agree with you, (1) did we see the same play? and (2) that's power for you.
This is the lady who loved the film so much she rented a copy and invited memover for dinner. So we saw "A Man of No Importance" at the BCA together

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Accidental Death of an Anarchist" by Dario Fo
Date: Thurs, Oct 9, 2003 11:07 PM

     The Poet's Theatre, whose name and activities date back to the 1950s, is back in the basement in Davis Sq. for the first time in four years. This time they're producing Nobel Laureate Dario Fo's 1970’s political farce, "The Accidental Death of an Anarchist", a play's whose time has come round again, unfortunately. Artistic director Aidan Parkinson takes Fo's own part, The Maniac. His distinctive Irish accent suits the role. His foils are Emerson acting teacher Richard Gilman as the Superintendent of Police with Andrew Sullivan and Jayk Gallagher as the two Inspectors. These guys may be a bit young for the parts, but they get the laughs. Gaetan Bonhomme, a scientist/actor new in town, is the Sergeant, on loan from France. Evelyn Seijido - the stage manager - will also play that part, presumably on loan from elsewhere. London actress Nadia de Lemeny is the enquiring journalist. It's potentially a fine ensemble working at top frantic form.
     Director John Quinn from the Norwood School Drama program keeps the farce zipping along with Parkinson ahead of the pack. The cast should come closer to catching up to his physical humor as the run progresses. This classic farce, anarchic in its own right, is a welcome antidote to the navel-gazing in most post 9-11 plays about terrorism. Fo's injudicious remarks after that event will probably keep him out of this country for the foreseeable future. This Poets Theatre production, full of updated wisecracks and current references, will do instead.

Seen in Preview "The Accidental Death of an Anarchist" by Dario Fo, Oct. 9 - 26
The Poets Theatre at Jimmy Tingle's OFF BROADWAY
256 Elm St. Davis Sq. Somerville, (617) 591-1616 Jimmy Tingle's OFF BROADWAY

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "Pictures of Patty Hearst"
Date?Sat, Oct 11 12:26 AM

     This year's entry from B.U. in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival competition is Bill Lattanzi's "Pictures of Patty Hearst" a docu-drama reexamination of the 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst, before any of its present cast members were born. Kimberley Parker Green plays the title role; five other BU acting students play all the other parts, primarily the members of the SLA, but also reporters, Patty's parents and relatives, and citizens. There's also live percussion, mostly for effect, ably handled by Mora Townsend. Students and faculty from this production may become eligible for additional programs including scholarships. Incidentally, the year before's entry, Ronan Noone's "The Lepers of Baile Baiste" won him top honors.
Lattanzi, one of the co-founders of the Boston Theatre Marathon, attempts to show how Patty Hearst, a wealthy "California Girl" became enmeshed in the violent and paranoid world of this mini-cult. While the story has worldwide relevance today, with the spread of independent "terrorist" activity, Lattanzi's treatment is character, almost caricature, focused. But the cast is lively and interesting, with something of the air of an improv troupe. Those who remember the mindset of the Nixon years, when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, not to mention the Beach Boys or disco, may find somethings to remember here. What a long strange trip it's been. Patricia Hearst Shaw's children, by her ex-bodyguard, should be the same age as some of the cast members.

seen in preview
"Pictures of Patty Hearst" by Bill Lattanzi, Oct. 9 - 19
Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 358 - 7529 Boston Playwrights' Theatre

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "The Credeaux Canvas"
Date:Sun, Oct 5, 10:51 PM

     There's truth in advertising on Zeitgeist's latest postcard. Two of the three young actors in the show play what a Chicago reviewer described last spring as "the least gratuitous nude scene in recent memory." Naaemah A. White-Peppers as Amelia and Joshua Rollins as Winston carry it off very well. If only the first scene of this two year old script were as interesting, and all its exposition added up to more than soap opera. Keith Bunin, like a number of current up-and-coming New York playwrights has the knack for positing interesting complex characters, a good ear for dialogue (if a bit long-winded when it comes to self explanation), and a rather pedestrian sense of drama.
     While the subject matter of this script is potentially interesting, as was Jon Robin Baitz's sojourn into the painter's world last year, the characters expected to carry the its weight are cliched losers; the graduate student painter whose technique trumps his imagination, the singer unable to break into the New York scene, and the poor little rich kid whose Daddy remarried and cut him off. There's a lot of competent acting expended creating people it's hard to care much about, particularly Chris Loftus' Jamie, a mentally-fragile spoiled brat. And it's telling when veteran actress Renee Miller shows up to open Act II with a bravura performance as an art collector. Her we understand; all of a sudden it's a play and not daytime television.
     Director/designer David J. Miller has once again concocted an interesting set with an action-painted raked floor invoking Pollock. There are a few blocking problems to be solved given the shallow three-quarter layout. Costume and lights are sound, as is the recurring theme music. All-in-all, an entertaining enough job of a script which doesn't live up to its pretensions, but probably worth a look-see.

"The Credeaux Canvas" by Keith Bunin, Oct 3 - 25
Zeitgeist Stage Co. in BCA Black Box
539 Tremont St. Boston, (617) 426 - 2787 Zeitgeist Stage Co,

From: “will stackman” profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - “Antony and Cleopatra” by Wm. Shakespeare
Date: Wed, September 24, 8:26 PM

    Boston Theatre Works has streamlined this unwieldy classic down to a company of 14 (including the strolling cello player who provides all the music). As in Shakespeare’s day, the company wears contemporary dress, with appropriate accessories. The action is continuous, in the round on two oriental rugs, with three white blocks serving as all the furniture. A few props and some pieces of cloth complete the scene. Most of the players, with the exception of Antony, Cleopatra, and her two ladies, and Caesar play a several parts. Even James Barton’s Enobarbus comes back as the countryman with the basket of asps, while Mara Sidmore, who appears as Octavia, Antony’s second Roman wife, the sister of the emperor, also plays Eros, Antony’s squire, and Procelius, Caesar’s administrator.
    In the title roles, Robert Pemberton plays Antony as playboy general with an eye to the main chance. He never quite achieves tragic stature, but is effective in the role. Anne Gottlieb has the glamour for Cleopatra and a sure grasp of this mercurial role. Barton’s Enobarbus, who serves as a kind of chorus throughout holds the audiences attention through the complex plots from the brief prologue added to the play to his death, from shame more than anything. Ted Hewlett, as Octavius Caesar (later Augustus) is calculating in his business suit, and implacable in his effort to become the sole ruler of the empire.
     While its not always clear just who the remaining members of the ensemble may be sometimes, since they're playing at least two dozen named roles, the action is clear. Brian Abscal is good as Cleopatra's major domo, Christopher Crowley is effective as several other Egyptians, and as Menas, Pompey's piratical associate. Michael F. Walker plays brash Pompey the Younger with suitable swagger. Shelley Bolman takes on several of Caesar's bureaucrats, but has a fine comic moment as the messenger Cleopatra terrorizes when he brings news of Antony's remarriage. Bill Molnar is the ineffectual Lepidus, the weakest member of the triumvirate, while Dev Luthra is menacing as Agrippa, Caesar's enforcer, As Cleopatra's ladies, Elizabeth A. Wightman and Elizabethan Hayes make an interesting contrast in height and style playing Charmian and Iras. Its a bit unfortunate that BTW didn't come up with a more diverse ensemble however.
     Familiarity with the full text might help one appreciate the sweep of this tale of political strife and director Jason Slavik and dramaturg Bridget Frey's cuts and elisions. Plutarch's story gets told once again with admirable dispatch; nothing important is omitted, and the best of Shakespeare's drama is well played, up close and personal. It's worth taking in, especially since the play's not done as often as its rich verse deserves.
“Antony and Cleopatra” by Wm. Shakespeare, Sept. 19 - Oct. 12
Boston Theatre Works at the Tremont Theatre
275 Tremont, Boston, (617) 939 - 9939 Boston Theatre Works

Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2003 17:02:06 -0400
Subject: resend of OT Dublin
From: Geralyn Horton g.l.horton@mindspring.com
Date: Tues Sept 24,
Quicktake on "Dublin Carol" by Conor McPherson

The production of "Dublin Carol" at the Nora Theatre is a miniature masterpiece. Don't let its short run at the B.U. Playwrights Theatre pass without seeing it. People who saw the London or NYC productions have told me that neither were as good as the Nora's, and I can well believe it. I read Conor McPherson's script last year, and I was disappointed in it-- I could not find it in me to care about the callous old drunk of an undertaker who is "Dubin Carol''s central character. It seemed to me that in this script the material to open hearts and enlarge lives that makes Mc P's other plays the great gifts to actors and audience they are just wasn't there. But seeing it in Nora's production I discovered how wrong I was. Richard McElvaine, whose work I have watched with pleasure for something like thirty years, turned the words of "Dublin Carol" into just that kind of greatness. The more opportunity I've have to compare McEIvaine's work to that of the celebrated actors whose names are household words to theatre lovers, the Tony and Olivier winners, the more I've come to appreciate what a treasure Boston has in him. Merryl Streep says that the actor's job is " to make the character's case", and that's what McElvaine does, in spades. I understood just how well -- and how little-- John understands himself, and the desperate rigidities he has adopted to limit the damage he can do to anyone who cares for him. I understood the small painful ways he tries to stretch those limits to accommodate and support and encourage others, and how his fear and guilt snap him back like a rubber band, into drunken oblivion or cruelty. McElvaine presents a wealth of physical and vocal detail, a complete non-verbal vocabulary for expressing everything unspoken that impinges on John's soul-- perceptions, memories, waves of panic or tender impulses damped down or cut off before they could emerge as more than a gasp or a tic or an expletive. His scene partners-- Bryce Pinkham as a fresh faced young hireling on the brink of the primrose path, Devon Jencks as John's long- abandoned daughter--- could not help but pay this luminous figure the rapt attention that is a form of love, and the rhythms of rapport within the ensemble reach out to embrace the audience. About ten or fifteen minutes before the end of the 90 minute one act, cathartic tears began to flow down my cheeks, and I left the theatre feeling that glorious mixture of humility and exaltation that is the hallmark of tragedy.
To the Nora team that makes this miracle possible-- director Janet Morrison, designers Eric Levenson (set) Jacqueline Dalley (costumes) and David Wilson (lighting and sound) --- grateful thanks.
"Dublin Carol" by Conor McPherson, Sept. 18 - Oct. 5
Nora Theatre Company at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 491 - 2026 (also Ticketmaster & Bostix)

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - "DUBLIN CAROL"
Date: Sat, Sept 22,11:02 PM
Quicktake on "Dublin Carol" by Conor McPherson

     The spirits haunting Richard McElvain, once again courtesy of Conor McPherson in Nora Theatre's season opener, "Dublin Carol", are first those out of the bottle. He plays John Plunkett, a boozy undertaker; his boss is in the hospital and it's Christmas Eve. John and his temporary assistant, Mark, played smartly by Bryce Pinkham, come in at the opening from an interment in the rain. After a cup pa and biscuits (and his bottle) he lets the boy go on his way.
    Then in the second scene, his grown daughter Mary, in the person of Devon Jencks, shows up. Plunkett abandoned his family for booze and other women years ago. Now his son's a layabout in London and his estranged wife is dying of cancer. Those who saw Devon's lighter side this summer at the Publick Theatre will want to her with her Irish up, matching family pain with the old man. It would be nice to see more of her.
     The payoff for this 90 minute monologue-filled and almost classically constructed script comes in the third and final scene when Mark, in some distress, returns for his pay to find the old fella by drink taken. The epiphanies are minor but wrenching. Once again, buoyed by McElvain's stamina as a raconteur and ability to create unique characters, McPherson's rather bleak hopefulness wins out.
     Director Janet Morrison deftly leads her excellent cast through this maze of damaged relationships. Eric Levenson's set aptly echoes the time, place, and mood of the play. Jacqueline Dalley's costumes do the same, while David Wilson's lighting and sound combine to complete the show. This Nora production is up to the standard set by previous award-winning Sugan and New Rep efforts with McPherson's scripts, both of which featured McElvain, of course.
"Dublin Carol" by Conor McPherson, Sept. 18 - Oct. 5
Nora Theatre Company at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 491 - 2026 (also Ticketmaster & Bostix)

From: BDAndelman@aol.com
Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2003 01:06:14 EDT
Subject: antony & cleopatra
To: larry@theatermirror.com & [ withheld ]
just saw this tonight.... EXCELLENT!!! the staging was brilliant... you both need to see this. larry... press night/reception is monday 9/22 @ 7:15.. if you have any trouble getting tix let me know... as a founding member here i have a myriad of privileges....

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”A GIRL'S WAR"
Date:Saturday, September 20, 9:04 AM
Quicktake on A Girl's War

    If you missed the workshop production of Joyce Van Dyke's award-winning script at Boston Playwright a while back, here's your chance to see Bobbie Steinbach repeat her most serious role to date, Arshaluis Sarkisian. Katarina Morhacova is stunning as Anahid Sarkisian, the "girl" in question, a fashion model who returns home to wartorn Nagorno-Karabakh. Benjamin Evett plays her former flame, an English-sounding photographer, with his usual flair. Dan Domingues, whose Malcolm for Commonwealth Shakespeare this summer was just acceptable, digs deep into the conflicted character of a former Azeri neighbor, her dead little brother's best friend, now on the other side. Mason Sand from Company One doubles as the ghostly presence of that brother, and the photographer's gay New York/Italian assistant. As usual, the New Rep has found the talent for every part.
    This production won't sell out quite as quickly as "Sweeney Todd" or "Waiting for Godot", director Rick Lombardo's two smash hits last season, but reserve as soon as possible. IRNE and Norton award-winner Richard Chambers has created an intriguing multi-use set flanked by ancient grave markers, Denitsa Blitznakova's costumes follow the arc of the drama nicely, and Haddon Kimes' war and music soundscape is superb as expected. IRNE winner Dan Meeker ties it all together with lighting that moves smoothly from harsh reality to expressionist effects. While this script has special resonance for the Armenian (and Azeri) community hereabouts, continuing ethnic/religious conflicts across the globe make this specific drama symbolic of an ancient problem through the painful history of civilization. As the last line asks, are we in the same world where this goes on?
"A Girl's War" by Joyce Van Dyke, Sept. 17 thru Oct. 19
New Repertory Theatre
54 Lincoln St. Newton MA, (617) 332 - 1646 New Rep on the Web

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”LADY WITH A LAPDOG"
Date:Thurs, Sept 18, 5:19 PM
Quicktake on “Lady with a Lapdog”

There’s no dog in this show, which given it’s two hour + intermissionless timing may be a good thing. There are four clowns, two of whom get to act. Most of the acting is done by Stephen Pelinski from the Guthrie, who’s pretty good at it. Be nice to see him in a play. Elizabeth Waterston, recently out of Yale, has less opportunity (and no dog). The frieze set gives them lots of exercise, though the two bowler topped clowns in blue-striped bathing suits who run all over the auditorium get a lot more. There are obstructed views of some part of the show from most seats, except high up in the center, which is closer to the overly-load sound system (This can be fixed.) Theatre in Russia and its empire has been trying these sorts of experiments since just after the Revolution. So have people elsewhere. Dario Fo comes to mind, though his shows have some political purpose. But since 9-11 he won’t be back soon. The usefulness of such efforts has probably over. Except in studio productions. Lilia Levitina’s recent effort "The Language of Kisses" was more justifiable in that respect.
"Lady with a Lapdog" by Kama Ginkas from a short story by Anton Chekhov, through Oct. 11
ART at the Loeb
64 Brattle St., (617) 547 - 8300


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”WHEN PIGS FLY"
Date: Sun, Sept 14, 8:45 PM
Quicktake on Howard Crabtree's, "When Pigs Fly"

    Costume designer Howard Crabtree's last show, finished a few days before his death, doesn't try to be much more than inspired silliness. "When Pigs Fly" has a childlike joy in entertaining, however, that lifts it beyond parody to gently urge tolerance. This collection of sketches it not so much a drag show - the cast, except for their shoes, probably dons as much men's wear as showgirl costumery - but rather that rare theatrical commodity, a burlesque. As the finale suggests, Crabtree and Waldrop's intent was to take things "Over the Top". The cast, with four out of the five members of Lyric's 1998 outing, does just that.
    The best single example however, is not Crabtree's hilarious extravagant creations, achieved with considerable last-minute difficulties by Tina Marie Green-Heinze from the Philadelphia scene, with local help from Rita Sclavunos using original sketches uncovered by Maryann Zshau at the New York Public Library and wigs conjured up by Gail Astrid Buckley. It's Peter A. Carey's side-splitting renditions of Mark Waldrop's updated "Torch Songs". Carey, a musical theatre veteran, performs these wicked lyrics dressed in a white tux jacket, sitting on a bentwood chair, fondling a chiffon scarf. He then caps these digs at Dick Cheney, Pat Robertson, and Chuck Heston with the gentle reminder that "Laughing Matters." Dan Bolton as Harold himself has a childlike sweetness. Neil A. Carey plays the frustration of any actor or actress saddled with impossible costumes, while Britton White and Brian Robinson skip through a difficult novelty number, "Light in the Loafers", with style. Dr. Robinson later brings down the house in one of the few drag numbers, "Bigger is Better", which could be performed by a substantial woman with no changes. He also makes a great Quasimodo. White, the designated hunk, is most surprising in "Not All Man", but most affecting dressed in a business suit in the simple suburban ballad, "Sam & Me."
    There ARE tickets left, especially since the show was extended one week by popular demand before it opened. Don't delay; Lyric Stages' 30th season opener is the perfect antidote to any sense of decline, either on the national or Fenway scene.

"When Pigs Fly" by Crabtree, Waldrop, and Gallagher, Dates
Lyric Stage Company
140 Clarendon St., Copley Sq. (617) 437-7172
thru Oct. 18

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”PETE 'N' KEELEY"
Date: Sunday, Sept 6, 11:46 PM
Quicktake on "Pete 'n' Keeley"

It's fluffy, it's silly, it's the opposite of "Man of LaMancha" which closed Stoneham's regular season last spring. This confection about a television special, stars Chris Chew and Kathy St.George, as a divorced pair of somewhat insufferable singers, having a ball sending up show biz marriage, live TV, and tabloid pop culture. If you remember live television variety - sham dance and all - and have a taste for light entertainment, "Pete 'n' Keeley" is a good way to start the season. St. George's show stopping "Black Coffee" is just short of over the top, and Chew's Vegas-inspired "Fever" is way beyond. They are after all two of our best local musical theatre people. And being a "musical," the ending is pure schmaltz.
The original music songs by Brady and Waldrop, including "Tony 'n' Cleo" (inspired by Shakespeare?) might have come from any one of a hundred old TV shows. Tim Evan's musical direction is impeccable, Gail Buckley's costumes are perfectly camp, and everyone's having a great time cutting loose. So you might as well join them.
Stoneham's also premiering a new musical by Jeremy Desmon, "The Girl in the Frame", Oct. 30 through Nov. 9. Considering that "Pete 'n' Keeley" began just to the west in Springfield, and went on to an Off-Broadway run, plan to catch this Emerging Stages project on the way up.
"Pete 'n' Keeley" by James Hindman, Sept. 4 - 28
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St., Stoneham MA, (781) 279-2200

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”OILD SOLDIERS"
Date: Fri. Sept 5, 10:21 PM
Quicktake on "Old Soldiers"

"Old soldiers never die"; old plays can always be revived. This dark comedy about WWI vets set in 1962 may feel a bit dated, but it deserved its recognition from the American College Theatre Festival decades ago. It's still worth attention. The show is solidly acted by a reliable quartet; Tony Dangerfield, Chuck Galle, Fred C, Marden, and Lida McGirr. It's relevance of a reminder of the lasting effects of war is obvious. The author could easily update the context to WWII and 'Nam - it could even stay on Armistice Day, Nov. 11 - without changing the strong human drama behind the details. Leslie Chapman and the Coop have found another script worth re-examining.
"Old Soldiers" by Martin Jones, Sept. 5 - 13
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville (617) 625 -1300

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake- "PACIFIC OVERTURES"
Date:, Mon, Sept 1, 2003 2:24 PM
Quicktake on “Pacific Overtures”

Get out to Beverley one way or another before Sept. 14. Otherwise, you’ll miss one of the best musical theatre performances so far this millenium. “Pacific Overtures” in the round works wonderfully. The cast of 14--playing 100+? parts--is superb. This may not be Sondheim’s best, but it’s mature, daring, and effective. And relevant.

"Pacific Overtures", music & lyrics, Stephen Sondheim, book by John Wiedman , through Sept. 14
A Joint production at North Shore Music Theatre
Dunham Rd., Beverley MA / (978) 232-7200
North Shore Music Theatre

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 13:39:26 -0400
Subject: Quick Take --- Shakespeare & Co.
From: Geralyn Horton g.l.horton@mindspring.com
My annual pilgrimage to Shakespeare & Co. was abbreviated to a single Saturday matinee and evening this year-- nowhere near enough time to take in the riches this national treasure of a Company has to offer.

But the concentrated dose of Much Ado About Nothing at 3 pm and King Lear at 8 pm, both in the new Founder's Theatre, demonstrated once again the peculiar strengths and the endless fascination of the work of a real actor-centered Rep company-- which is, after all, the sort of company Will S. wrote his plays to accommodate.

I was a bit worried about my probable reaction to the Much Ado, directed by Daniela Varon and described as set in 1950's Sicily. Not that I had any reason to distrust the director or her choices-- I've seen nothing but excellent work from Varon in the past. But the "Much Ado" S&C's AD Tina Parker did some seasons back on the old outdoor Mainstage at the Mount, with Jonathan Epstein as Benedict and Ariel Bock as Beatrice and what seemed to be a cast of thousands peopling a world so beautiful and vivid it almost hurt to look at at, is at the very top of the list of excellent productions I've seen in my half century of avid Shakespeare-seeing. I wasn't sure I could avoid odorous comparisons. But not to worry: Varon's is utterly different, and excellent in its own more modest 16 actor way. It could serve as a model for the effective and tasteful use of period pop culture references, a practice which when ill done (as it most often is) sets my teeth on edge and brings out the scolding Puritan in me.

I did miss a few of my favorite lines, trimmed to make room for '50's music and business-- but the music and business were delightful. I'll praise the individual performances and discuss the staging and interpretation when I have more time, but for now I just want to urge everyone who possibly can to get thee to Lenox MA and see these wonderful shows. Back to back and with nearly the same cast playing Lear in nearly the same set as Much Ado, the experience is a celebration of the depth and range of ensemble acting not likely to be paralleled anywhere. I've been looking forward to seeing what Jonathan Epstein would do when he first tackled Lear for at least a decade-- but I never expected to be blown away by his Dogberry on the very same day! The Shakespeare mailing list I follow recently had a long discussion about the rarity of actors who excel in both comic and tragic roles. Here, about half the Shakespeare & Co. cast makes that huge leap in a mere matter of hours, triumphantly.
Geralyn Horton, playwright
Newton, MA

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”OTHELLO"
Date:Mon, Aug 18, 3:19 PM
Quicktake on “Othello”

If you want the Bard straight-up with no concepts and very few cuts, the Swan Stage Company’s “Othello” is a workmanlike effort dressed in borrowed Elizabethean garb. The leads are acceptable, even moving on occassion. Chi Wright is an interesting somewhat lightweight leading man, Seth Reich’s Iago is Old Vice with very little character otherwise, Emily Strong’s Desdemona is convincing, and Chuck O’Toole’s Michael Cassio for once is actually part of the play, not just a piece of the plot. Mare Freed’s Emelia rises to the occasion at the end of the play, and Rachel Werkman has a nice turn as Bianca, Cassio’s courtesan. The rest of the ensemble tries their best but needs a lot of seasoning plus practice speaking verse and projecting.

Courtney O’Connor, who teaches acting and directing at Emerson, and did a good job on last summer’s CSC park show “Much Ado...”, keeps the play moving along, but with too many blackouts. Her staging at the end is problematic. But for the most part, it all works. If you go - there are directions on the Website - sit up front. The necessary and antique air-conditioning is too hard for most of these studio actors to overcome. Next season, the company might do better to tackle one of the comedies.

"The Tragedie of Othello" by Wm. Shakespeare, August 14 through 24
Swan Stage Company at Regent Theatre
7 Medford St., Arlington Center (781) 646-4849
Swan Stage Company

From: "John_Ct" john0959@netzero.net
Subject: Questions from a Theatre Fan.
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003 12:36:31 -0400

My 11 y.o. daughter, her grandmother, and I (her father) attended "Secret Garden" at TBTS.
We've been given a cherished memory that will last our lifetimes.
This production is opera, and goes well beyond the average musical.
The casting is incredible.
Consistently and superlatively talented musical voices -
Lisa Trader - I now believe the legends of "sirens" who's voices can control men's emotions. Indeed, Mrs. Traders every note will haunt the audiences memories as Lily haunts her Archie's.
Norman Large - He is either Archie or Archie was intended to be him. A match of character or role made in theatrical heaven.
David Elledgridge - Finely cast and fully vocal. His renditions of "Lily's eyes...Strangely quiet, but now... and Quartet why won't he say what he wants...
leave the audience with a lasting tune.
I cannot compliment this cast enough.
If TBTS is to end this year, this Is her Swan Song - and a fitting one of quality and caliber to match any production.
I am sorry that this run must end,
I've seen it twice, and will see it again this thursday, and maybe again Sat.
(both matinee's) as my daughter also wants to experience it again.
I wish this could have been filmed I would Gladly purchase this tape.
John Hoyle
Newington Ct.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”CIRCLES OF TIME"
Date: Mon, Aug 11, 2003 4:28 PM
Quicktake on “Circles of Time”

”Circles...” is a nice play with an uplifting ending and unshamed of its worldview. It will be interesting to see what the critical community, who were there in some force on Sunday, makes of it. Kudos to June Lewin for a luminous performance as the central character. And to director Daniel Gidron for finding the center of the play, which began life in Homer, Alaska, where octagenarian Timmereck currently lives as a musical. The script could use further development and some more humor, but it’s sound and engaging. with a sense of the South. Brynna Bloomfield’s set is simple and subtle. It’s general seating so get there early for a good seat, Go; the short first act is a bit thin, but the second is rich.
"Circles of Time" by Shirley Timmreck, August 7 through 23
Kaplan/Bullins at Lyric Stage
140 Claredon, Copley Sq. (617) 437-7172

From: "Russ Greene" rrgreene@hotmail.com
Subject: Quick Take: Greetings from Planet Girl
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2003 22:35:43 -0400

Had to write about this wonderful company of women who made me laugh for a solid 90 minutes tonight at Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway Theater. I must confess that I have long respected the comic abilities of Margaret Ann Brady -- having been fortunate enough to have performed with her back in the late 80s early 90s -- and I hurt from the laughs she compelled out of me (and the other audience members) by her sheer comic force. The other comediennes of the company -- Jan Davidson, Dorothy Dwyer, Lucy Holstedt, and Julie Perkins under the guiding hand of Larry Coen -- are equally guilty of causing my sides to split repeatedly throughout the evening.

This funny troupe only has one performance left this week at Jimmy Tingle's (Friday Aug. 8 at 8pm) before they are off to the NYC Fringe Festival (those lucky Gotham-ers!). They do have some additional shows in the area in September. I would encourage everyone to see this wonderful and uniquely funny comedy troupe whenever they play a venue near you. If you want to check out more about the group or their upcoming performances, check out their website www.planetgirl.info
Russ Greene

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”MACBETH"
Date:Sun, July 20, 2003 10:26 PM
Quicktake on Macbeth

Should you make the time and join the throngs on the Common for CSC’s production of the Scottish Play? Of course! As a wise old friend of mine once put it, time spent with Shakespeare is never wasted. This summer’s effort has some of director Steven Maler’s same old problems. Various good ideas don’t quite mesh. Jay O. Sanders, though prone to oratory, makes a fine Thane, all power with inner doubt. He probably realizes the role better than anyone else seen around here recently. Jennie Israel is competent as the Lady, but doesn’t project the erotic force the part requires. Her sleepwalking scene is all business, due partly to distant blocking. Ben Evett is a nice counterbalance as Banquo, and might do better if Fleance hadn’t been cast as a cute little kid. The three witches are a continuous and not particularly effective presence, neither mysterious or frightening. They spend a lot of time as stagehands moving three small wagons which clutter the stage at times.

The set adds to the problem. These castles has no upstairs, everything comes from below. And having the witches smear blood-red paint on translucent portions at the rear is a tedious metaphor. But the cast speaks the verse well and can be heard. J Hagenbuckle’s sound effects are effective. The modern dress in Peronist style makes the military aspects of the play easy to fathom. Baron Kelly, seen in the “NO” play at the New Rep is a convincing Duncan. Why he has two white sons may be irrelevant, although there are black actors in town who would do as good a job as Dan Domingues.

Other notable supporting players include Robert Walsh as Macduff, who’s also the fight director. This means he and Sanders are liable to survive their final brawl, which is one of the show’s highlights. Julia Jirousek is strong as Lady Macduff. John Porell’s bloody Sergeant has the energy the role often lacks, and his cigar-sucking Siward, the English general, is throughly military as well. Jeff Gill’s old priest is touching, Adam Soule is good as the cream-faced loon, and Christopher Hagberg gets a few laughs as the Porter in a serape. As the action hurtles along, the ensemble is right on top of the play, in spite of a South American dictatorship concept which is supposed to make things relevant. What more do you want for free?

"Macbeth" by Wm. Shakespeare, July 17 - Aug. 10
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company on Boston Common
Parkman Bandstand off Tremont St., (617) 532-1212

Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 15:03:41 -0400
From: "Larry Stark's Theater Mirror" larry@theatermirror.com>
Subject: Minority Quick-Take
I Sebastiani is a dedicated group of enthusiasts attempting to re-create the street-comedy of Italy that evolved over two centuries bracketing the time of Shakespeare. Their Resources are lovingly informative, and their Glossary alone is worth the price of admission. But, to my eyes, "The Twin Captains" --- their current production in the small Leland space at the BCA --- smells of the lamp. If it were part of a lecture-demonstration in which historians (rather than theatrical practitioners) illustrated aspects of what Commedia Dell'Arte might have been like back then, Audiences would be better served. I gather that Commedia artists spent their entire lives honing and perfecting their Arte in spontaneous, imaginative and perceptive response to their audiences. Though "Those who belong to Sebastian" have been working together for a dozen years, they still have much to learn about theatricality.
To my eye, the analogies to their work would be Peter Schumann's Bread & Puppet Theatre and any long-running Improv Troupe... with all the shortcomings of both in evidence.
The program lists them as an offshoot of Boston's Society for Creative Anachronism --- an informal group of amateur historians attempting amateur theatrics with a romantic attitude toward history that would make Don Quixote blush. If you like that sort of thing, you'll like This sort of thing. I didn't laugh quite enough.
But I am a strange old man.
===Anon. ( aka larry stark )

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake- "THE TWIN CAPTAINS"
Date:Tues, July 15, 2003 10:25 PM
Quicktake on I Capitani Gemellare

Here they go again! This scenario has a strong plot device, and a well-balanced cast with strong characterizations. Cat Crow gets to play Isabella as a frustrated bride-to-be, Abby Weiner is her gossipy bawdy maid, Olivetta. Tanina Carrabotta is a demure Flaminia until the street fight, and Aaron Santos is getting more believable as Oratio, her suitor. Mike Bergman, maskmaker and troupe member since 1991 is a genial Pantalone, keeping an inn this time, Jay Cross, another veteran masker, gets to do a Danny Kaye routine as Gratiano. Alex Newman, the capocomico of this merry band, switches jerkins and his posture to play the twin captains. Carl West is a buck-toothed Arlecchino, servant to the good Spavento, while Mike Yoder lurks about as Brighella, attached to the evil twin.

The Greatest Commedia Dell’Arte Troupe in the Entire World, at least in this vicinity, is developing as an ensemble. Their show this winter in Cambridge had its moments but didn’t quite hang together. The next show, also in the Leland, made better use of the ladies of the company. But in this one, all rise to the occasion. If you’ve only heard of this traditional source for comedy, including some of Shakespeare and Moliere, get on down to the B.C.A. There’s life in the old form yet.

"The Twin Captains" adapted by Alex Newman , July 16-26
i Sebastiani at Leland Center, BCA
539 Tremont St. Boston MA, (617 ) 426 - ARTS
Web - i Sebastiani

From: cdeford@comcast.net
Subject: Reagle "My Fair Lady"
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 13:26:49 -0400

Hi Larry,
I went to the opening of the Reagle Players "My Fair Lady" on Friday, and I urge you to go. I don't think you'll ever see a better Eliza Doolittle than Sarah Pfisterer. Crandall Diehl, who did the musical staging for the Reagle Players, was dance captain of the original 1956 production. He has staged it all over the world, and he told me "she's one of the best." Can't get a better endorsement than that.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”Twelfth Night"
Date:Sun, July 13, 2003 10:57 PM
Quicktake on TWELFTH NIGHT

Publick's production of "Twelfth Night", one of the best of the Bard's courtly comedies sets the play in the Renaissance and sticks to it. Susan Nitter makes a convincing Viola/Cesario; Shakespeare’s intelligent heroines are her forte. Stacy Fischer rises to Olivia, though not always vocally. Steven Barkhimer's Sir Toby has some depth, Devon Jencks is a spirited Maria, and Richard LaFrance is a silly but likable Aguecheek. Bill Gardiner's Feste plays a range of folk instruments and actually makes most of the wordplay funny in its own right. Director Diego Arciniegas is both puritanical and totally gullible as Malvolio. Ben Lambert plays a Sebastian that might just be mistaken for his sister. And George Saulnier III has a lot more to say in this play plus shifting a lot of plants.

The traps are used, rather oddly for Viola's first entrance, a bit too much during the letter scene, and quite well for Malvolio's torment. Susan Zeeman Rogers set consists mainly of hanging Oriental carpets and proliferating potted trees. Neither improves the acoustics. Amanda Montieros has collected a muted set of costumes that add a lot to the show's period richness. Hats for the gentlemen would be nice on occasion. < BR> Barkhimer's period music is fine as usual, includind a full-cast version of "The Wind and the Rain" at the finale. All-in-all, a more satisfactory and consistent rendition than CSC's extrasravaganza on the Common two years ago.

"Twelfth Night" by Wm. Shakespeare, July 11 - Sept. 14
(in rep with "A Midsummer Night's Dream")
seen July 13th at Publick Theatre on the Charles
1440 Soldiers Field Rd. Brighton, (617) 782-5425

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”Cloud Nine"
Date:Sun, July 13, 2003 12:06 AM
Quicktake on CLOUD NINE

Is it a BritCom? Is this play an exercise in the Absurd? Is it an expose on how deeply Victorian sexual mores permeate English society ? And why is that man wearing a dress? Whatever Carol Churchill's 1978 farce is, the Harvard-Radcliffe Summer Theatre is doing a bang-up job of it in the Loeb EX. Undergraduate actors seem particularly well suited for this gender & mind-bending script, written before some of them were born. Graham Sack, with the most professional credits, is rather good as Betty in Act One in darkest Africa, and Edward in Act Two. Dan Cozzens makes a better four year old in Act Two than a colonial administrator, but brats are easier to play. Sasha Weiss as ten year old Edward in Act One, and widowed Betty in Act Two shows the greatest range, while Bonnie-Kathleen Discepolo has real flair as man-hungry widow Saunders in Act One and Lin, the lesbian single mother in Act Two. John Dewis is a cipher as Joshua the black houseboy but is charismatic as Gerry, a predatory homosexual in Act Two, a part preferably played by a Black actor. And that's only half the cast.

HRST seems to be focusing on the vagaries of love this summer, having begun with "The Fantastiks" and finishing in a few weeks with Wilde's "An Ideal Husband". The set for this show, which mutates somewhat noisily during the interval from the veranda of an African estate to a London Park is quite interesting. The costumes are appropriate and changeable. This play, which seems to show up on a number of women's studies reading lists, hasn't been done locally that recently. It's worth a look-see if you haven't before.Tickets are cheaper if you buy them in person.

"CLOUD NINE" by Carol Churchill, July 11 - 26
Harvard-Radcliffe Summer Theatre at Loeb EX
64 Brattle, Harvard Sq.; hcs.harvard.edu/~hrst/ or Holyoke Center Box Office, (617) 496-2222.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”My Fair Lady"
Date:Sat, July 12, 2003 9:00 AM
Quicktake on MY FAIR LADY

If you're thinking about taking in a large cast (40+) musical with a full orchestra (including a harp), impressive sets, memorable music with witty lyrics, there's one more weekend of Reagle's lavishly produced Lerner and Loewe classic. Sarah Pfisterer, one of Broadway's Christine's in "Phantom...", not to mention three years as Magnolia in "Showboat", creates a memorable Eliza, definitely a strong woman. John Hillner, last seen at Reagle as Lank in "Crazy for You", the role he created on Broadway, captures the infuriating Henry Higgins, though his English accent is hard to place. There are other notable performances from Darcy Pulliam, also from "Showboat" as Henry's aristocratic mother, Wellesley Player veteran Peter West as Colonel Pickering, and Reagle favorite Harold Walker reprising Alfred Doolittle. Dominic Sahagan turns in an appropriately sappy Freddy.

At Reagle, good performances aren't enough. Director Frank Roberts has choreographer Randall Diehl, the show's original dance captain to recreate Hanya Holm's innovative dances and musical staging. Richard Schreiber's original set designs, built and painted locally had the services of Brandeis's master painter, Bob Moody, who created a show drop with a huge portrait of the leading lady in record time. Costumes are recreations of the originals hired for the occasion. Jeffrey P. Leonard's orchestra is as good as any you'll hear downtown and probably bigger. Make reservations ASAP; the best seats go fast.
You don't have to drive into Boston and the parkings free.

"My Fair Lady " - Alan J. Lerner & Friedrick Loewe based on Shaw's "Pygmalion", July 10-19
Reagle Players at Robinson Theatre, WHS
617 Lexington St. Waltham, (781) 891-5600 or www.reagleplayers.com

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Date: Fri., June 26, 2003 11 PM

The Publick Theatre is all Shakespeare this summer, with A ...Dream>/b> running in rep with 12th Night (starting July 10) . After a soggy start last week the Summer show is beginning to gel, though getting its mix of visual metaphors together may take a while. The Athenians are traditionally costumed in outfits which must be more comfortable than last year's Hamlet gear, but the world of faerie is more "international", or perhaps inter-genre. The mechanicals ,like their betters are Greek, but their accents suggest pure Charlestown. The level of projection is adequate, but sitting close and center is still recommended.

The company under Diego Arciniegas' direction keeps up a vigorous pace, as much as possible. Diego's costume as Oberon (he also doubles as Theseus) limits his speed onstage. The young lovers, following the current mode, get in plenty of physical comedy, if not enough sympathy. Pyramus & Thisbe at the end has some big laughs, beginning with Wall, but several recent local attempts have been better conceived. The insubstantial fabric set gets most of its magic from the plethora of traps used by designer, Susan Rogers. It'll be interesting to compare PT's approach to the low-budget touring version Commonwealth is sending around to the parks this summer.

The Publick Theatre, which uses the refurbished outdoor site of the Boston Shakespeare Festival--whose tent blew away in a hurricane during the '50s--is on the Charles River in Brighton, across from WBZ. It's about a mile hike along the river from Harvard Square but the Western Avenue bus from Central Square comes within three blocks at Brighton Mills. There's plenty of parking; bikes welcome. Lots of picnic space. Go for a Night out (but bring the mosquito repellent.)
seen June 26th "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Wm. Shakespeare,
in repertory through Aug. 23 Publick Theatre at Herter Park
1400 Soldiers' Field Road, Brighton (617) 332-0546

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”Ionesco, not Ionesco"
Date:Sun, Jun 22, 2003, 5:45 PM

Rediscover one of the seminal influences in contemporary drama in three of Ionesco’s short works written around 50 years ago, early in his career as a playwright. Molasses Tank Productions revival of “Improvisation”, “Salutations”, and “The Painter” all take place on a somewhat pataphysical set by Duncan McCullough, performed by a company of five; Jason Beals, Lara B. Krepps, Jane Martin, John Morton, and Michael F. Walker. For this Sunday’s matinee, Jeff Boardman took over the part of Ionesco in “Improvisation” while Morton played the Painter during Walker’s scheduled absence. The acting is broad and energetic, though Boardman got some sympathy as the put-upon playwright and Beals, as the rich man in “The Painter”, reaches a sort of epiphany. This ensemble of experienced young actors makes the shows work.

The literary conundrum behind them is all too apparent in this media-inundated age. Briefly, "Improvisation" involves a character named Ionesco being "schooled" by three critics, in a play with recursive overtones. "Salutations" is a pure word-game, and might have been more effective as a curtain warmer, but is quite amusing. The longer one-act after the interval, "The Painter", turns from how the rich swindle the artist to a surreal hijacking of art itself.

If you haven’t yet discovered the Charlestown Working Theater, it’s in the old Firehouse at the base of Bunker Hill St., on the other side of Sullivan Square from the stop on the Orange Line, a four block walk. Just be careful negotiating the traffic at the circle. When driving, approach Bunker Hill St. from the circle but turn left at the base of the hill and find parking along Medford St., just past the new firehouse. Go a little early; all this rain has produced a bonanza of flowers in the community garden next to the firehouse, which even has a few places to sit and commune.

seen Sun. Jun. 22
"Ionesco, not Ionesco" by Eugene Ionesco, June 13 - July 5
Molasses Tank Productions at Charlestown Working Theatre
442 Bunker Hill St, (617) 471- 5384

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”Little Moon of Alban"
Date: Sunday, June 22, 2003 10:15 AM

There are only three more chances to catch another luminous performance by Alicia Kahn in another multi-scene, multi-character literary drama, which is the speciality of the Wellesley Summer Theatre under Nora Hussey. Kahn, as Brigid Mary Mangan in one of Costigan's romances involving the "troubles", is once again teamed with dependable Derek Stone Nelson, here playing a British officer. Ken Flott, recently seen in industrial's "Fool for Love", as Patch Keegan the IRA man plus the Peed's, Charlotte and Ed, each in dual roles, provide substantial support. Returning actor Joshua Martin isn't quite right as Brigid Mary's doomed fiance, a role which was one of Robert Redford's T.V. triumphs in this Emmy-winning Hallmark Hal of Fame show from 1958 starring Julie Harris.

Though the script flopped on Broadway, "Little Moon of Alban", a metaphor from Yeats "Deidre of the Sorrows", was redone by Hallmark in 1964, this time with Harris and George Peppard. The rest of the WST cast, including regulars such as Lauren Balmer, Berne Budd, and John Boller, is quite believable, though some new student members in cameo roles could use seasoning, especially in gender-switched roles. Everyone's Irish is sufficiently musical. The set, also used for a production of Brecht's "Antigone" may be better suited for that tragedy, but Hussey makes it work, and the implications are appropriate. Another show worth a trip to Wellesley, but be prepared to park down behind Alumnae Hall where the RNJones black box theatre is located. Then hike up a somewhat gravely driveway to the basement entrance. The college is building something big out front.

"Little Moon of Alban" by James Costigan, in repertory, June 11 - 28
Wellesley Summer Theatre at Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre,
Alumnae Hall, Wellesley College, (781) 283 - 2000

From: “will stackman” profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - “Platform Fest, Series A”
Date: Fri, June 20, 2003 11:10 pm
Quicktake on Playwrights’ Platform Annual Summer Festival of New Plays, Series A

The first weekend of the 31st Annual Playwrights’ Platform Annual Summer Festival of New Plays put five recent works on the boards, performed with brio by a variety of local professional and community actors, directed by a similar range of talent. Monica Raymond’s “Hijab”, seen earlier in the month at the Boston Directors Lab series in Cambridge, led off the evening. Directed by Chris Connaire, founder of the People’s Theatre in Inman Square years ago, not to mention the Cambridge Arts Council, this brief excursion into the complexity of mother/daughter relationships against the current geopolitical scene, was the most intriguing and serious piece of the evening. Wendy Golden as the mother and Jennifer Makholm found its lighter side however, with Connaire’s help.

Bill Doncaster’s “This is Wilco” was an interesting if not wholly successful journey into the imagination of a bullied child. Jerry Bisantz’s ironically titled “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” had Rick Parks as Robert explaining a homicidal moment, with Kerry Bryers as an exotic dancer and Giusseppi Rauddi as her man playing silent characters in the story he's recounting to his shrink. The piece was compelling if over just a bit too quickly. Patrick Brennan’s “dog_eat_dog.com”, energetically acted by Jerry Bisantz from the Hovey, Jim Jordan from Turtle Lane, and newcomer Randy Farais as Norm the Geek was entertaining but predictable. This sketch needs to take its premise further. Robert Mattson’s “Designer Disaster” with the largest cast and the most scenes has some entertaining acting, particularly from Margaret McCarty as Laura and Glen Victor Doyle, but didn’t get anywhere. This somewhat mean-spirited parody of reality TV home makeover wasn’t any funnier than the real thing.

Next weekend's Series B will have seven short plays; Joyce Flynn's "Faraway", set in Galway, Geo. Sauer's "Outside the Tent" directed by Nancy Curran Willis, Karla Sorenson's "Sweet Home Chicago" which takes place in a pickup truck, Sandy Burns "Eternal Bliss", Susan Leonard's "The Thing About Ballast" directed by Joe Antoun, Geralyn Horton's "Snakes and Ladders" seen at Acme's Short Play Fest, and "Practicing Peace" by Kelly DuMar set in a suburban meditation room. There's something here for everyone's fancy, including belly-dancing this time.

Annual Festival of New Plays, Series A, June 19-21
Playwrights’ Platform at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston; tickets, (617) 358-7529;
www.playwrightsplatform.org for more info

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”Letters to Declan"
Date:Tues, June 17,10:54 PM

The preview of Jack Gallagher's autobiographical "Letters to Declan", written starting in 1993, was a perfect example of the courage required to do contemporary stand-up. This two-act piece by this Boston-born master comic is in turn sentimental, hard-nosed, heartwarming, and truthfully funny. The fifty-year old comedian-actor-writer mines his own experiences as the father of two young boys to create a series of sketches based around letters written to them, for their eventual perusal. The life-lessons expounded have the ring of truth and the clarity of fiction, Not a bad way to spend two hours in the theatre, where most current scripts are simply pretense with few redeeming moments. Gallagher knows his subject and the audience. OFF BROADWAY's basement venue is just right for this intimate show, directed to the audience, from somewhere in Gallagher's psyche. And the Burren is nect door, where you might run into either Gallagher or Tingle apres show.

seen in preview "Letters to Declan" by Jack Gallagher, June 18-27
at Jimmy Tingle's OFF BROADWAY
255 Elm St. (Davis Sq.) Somerville, (617) 591-1616

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”RAPIST JAMES"
Date:Sun, June 15, 2003 9:00 PM
Quicktake on "Rapist James"

Next Stages' third production, "Rapist James", another small cast premiere of contemporary drama exploring sexual tensions, has moments of compelling dialogue, characters full of secrets, and a course of action masquerading as a plot familiar to viewers of daytime drama, aka soap opera. The title, which refers to one of two, or perhaps three, offstage characters essential to the story line, sets up one apparent plotline, which eventually mutates, somewhat dishonestly, into another. The three onstage actors, Nathaniel McIntyre (Sam), Amy French (Katie), and Julie Jirousek (Ellen), are convincing, and consistent as circumstances evolve and the play unwinds. But the drama, which revolves around the oncoming wedding of Katie and Sam, and various impediments thereto, including the title character and of course her sister Ellen, never really takes off.

Still director Daniel Goldstein keeps things humming along in the round on Christina Todesco's set of apartment furniture with photo-collages marking the entrances. Jeff Carnavais' lighting includes toning color coming in from beneath the seating, and the director's music choices are effective. The result is a tight and believable show, skillfully performed but not particularly satisfying. Sam is the only character who seems to develop, however unsurely. Katie and her sister may be victims of their family circumstances and possibly can't move beyond them. And why the audience should care about any of them is rather unclear. But daytime drama has a huge fan-base, so there's probably a place for such a play.

"Rapist James" by Christopher Denham, June 12 - 28
Next Stages at Studio 210, BU Theatre
264 Huntington Ave, (617) 238 - 5596

From: OLDGRUMP79@aol.com
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 10:36:48 EDT
Subject: quick takes
Crazy For You is a corny, old fashioned, tap dancing, musical extravaganza. Norton Singers put 36 people on the stage of the Weber Fine Arts Theater at Wheaton College, and backed them up with a 20+ piece orchestra.
Quite a few of the dancers had never tapped before the rehearsals started. What they lacked in skill, they made up for with their unbridled enthusiasm. The choreographer, Pam Shapiro, has to be proud of her work and the work of her boys and girls. Yes, there were a few stumbles and goofs. So what! The joy the actors brought to the stage rubbed off on the audience. A well deserved standing O, hailed not only the skilled dancers, but the efforts of the not so skillful. There were some very good experienced dancers in the show.
The great looking sets, Pete Molitor, costumes, Daniel Kozar, and the fine direction of Ken Butler gave me a fun night out. I wish the show could have played for more that one weekend, I do believe I would have gone a second time. My whistling is terrible, and my voice is worse, but that didn't stop me from filling my little car with horrible sounds all the way home. Congratulations to all that worked hard to put on this fine show.
Bob Guenthner aka The Oldgrump

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”THE ODD COUPLE"
Date: Sat, June 7, 2003 11:46 PM
Quicktake on "The Odd Couple"

The show must go on, and it is in Stoneham, even after Pat Morita, one of the co-stars in this revival, had to withdraw after our wet weather got to his arthritis and "Mr. Miyagi" had to get back to sunny California.
Award-winning local actor, director, and media maven Michael Allasso jumped into the part of Felix Unger mid-week. Not yet quite off-book, Allosso held his own with co-star Sherman Hemsley and a sprightly cast of local talents.
Helmsley, a veteran of the Negro Ensemble Company, the Urban Arts Group, and Broadway in "Purlie Victorious", not to mention recent productions of "I'm Not Rappaport" makes a fine Oscar Madison. The first act is not Simon's funniest, and director Maynard Sloate would do well to get more comedy into the opening card game, which Arthur Comengo, Steven Dascoulias, Thomas Kee, and Jasper McGruder take just a bit too seriously. The second act comes alive when Rachel Harker and Dayle Ballentine show up as Gwendolyn and Cecily, the Pigeon sisters from upstairs. The ladies have the right touch and exquisite timing. By next weekend, things will be much more together.
Simon fans will have a good time at this well-done production.
"The Odd Couple" by Neil Simon, June 6 - 29
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham , (781) 279 - 2200

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”RUTHLESS!"
Date:Sun, June 8, 6:46 PM
Quicktake “Ruthless!”

Winner of the 1993 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the comic take on the eternal brat, movie divas, and a lot more has been playing somewhere on and off ever since, and is headed for the West End next season directed by the author. Speakeasy’s production, which tries out a new song or two is another winner under Larry Coen’s inventitive direction. Kathy St. George gets to pull out the stops parodying Judy and Liza (and Lorna) almost simultaneously, not to mention Marlena, etc. Will McGarrahan is in rare form as the mysterious Sylvia St. Croix. Margaret Ann Brady has a show stopper in “I Hate Musicals” as Lita Encore, a theatre critic. BU BFA grad Michelle Damigella (Louise, Eve) and Bos Con grad, Andrea Lyman (Miss Thorn, Miss Block), seen locally in “Walker” at BPT, are fine comic foils for St. George and Walnut Hill student Kristin Parker, who is devilishly cute as “Tina”, the young talented murderess. There’s plenty of talent throughout this production, including Gail Astrid Buckley’s matchless costumes and Janie Howland’s clever set. This one could run longer, but see it soon; campy pleasures shouldn’t be denied.
"Ruthless!", book & Lyrics by Joal Paley, music by Marvin Laird, June 6 - 28
Speakeasy Stage Company at BCA, Black Box
539 Tremont St., (617) 426-2787

From: OLDGRUMP79@aol.com
Date: Mon, 19 May 2003 09:27:36 EDT
Subject: quick take ????

I went to the Walnut Hill School in Natick to see Blood Brothers. At the end of the show I was totally in shock. The performance I witnessed was on a par with a professional tour. The acting, voices, lighting, directing and choreographing amazed me. Since the show is only a one weekend shot, I didn't write a review, but I just had to pass a comment about it. The fellow that accompanied me to the show was in total agreement. He is a singer, dancer, director, so his opinion is a bit more learned than mine. This will not be a one time shot, I am going to take in more plays at this school.
Bob G. AKA the oldgrump

From: "Russ Greene" rrgreene@hotmail.com
Subject: Quick take: TWO BY TWO at NCP
Date: Sun, 11 May 2003 13:37:06 -0400
I had to write to encourage you, and anyone else who might have the opprtunity to see the wonderful and warm production of TWO BY TWO now playing at Newton Country Players. The ensemble is tight, the vocals superb, the costumes well executed and correct, the pace is just right, a touching and charming production. Nothing unusual about an NCP show, I grant you. BUT, this is also a great 'theater story'...

You see, the show went through a major cast change at the last minute. The actor originally cast as Noah was unable to perform and with only 5 days notice, Jim Fitzpatrick stepped in to play a role in a show he had only seen once 10 years ago. If you know the show, you know how daunting a challenge this could be -- to give a reference point the part of Noah is larger than the role of Tevya in Fiddler. For a production to succeed as well as this one has with such an obstacle is truly the stuff of legends. I would have recommended this charming production to anyone without having known this backstage story, but knowing it (because you couldn't tell that Jim hadn't been cast from the beginning) makes it even that more impressive. The entire cast, crew, production team, and the staff of NCP have all pulled together and pulled off something, well, magical.

The production has only 2 or 3 performances left and the seating is limited. But if you want to see a real theater success story, and a heckuva good show to boot, get thee to TWO BY TWO.

From: "will stackman" To: larry@theatermirror.com Subject: I forgot. Date: Sun, 11 May 2003 17:20:06 -0400 X-OriginalArrivalTime: 11 May 2003 21:20:07.0656 (UTC) FILETIME=[18CCF680:01C31803] X-MIME-Autoconverted: from 8bit to quoted-printable by ns1.speedhost.net id RAA20402 X-Rcpt-To: X-Spam-Status: No, hits=1.7 required=6.0 tests=FROM_ENDS_IN_NUMS,SPAM_PHRASE_00_01 version=2.44 X-Spam-Level: * X-DPOP: Version number supressed Here's "Cat Mountain" for pasting. ----

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”CAT MOUNTAIN"
Date:Sun, May 11, 2003 11 AM
Quicktake on "Cat Mountain" by Behind the Mask Theatre

In the past few months, devotees of mask theatre have been able to enjoy Behind the Mask Theatre's latest fantasy, first at the Coolidge Corner Theatre; then at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, their home base, evenings last weekend at the Puppet Showplace, and upcoming, their final performance at Central Congregational in J.P. on Sat. May 17th at 2pm. “Cat Mountain” combines impressive mask

s derived from the Japanese Noh tradition with authentic costumes to tell an imaginative original folktale in the Cinderella mode. Mask-maker/performers Eric Bornstein (Storyteller) and Deborah Coconnis (Mistress Hatemori & Secret, the Cat) are joined by Kelly Cutler as Sho, the heroine, dancers Leda Elliot & Rachel Fouts, plus David Kessler as the traditional Oriental stagehand (Kuroko) in black. Kessler, along with Paul Rehm and Cutler, is responsible for the shadow show which describes Sho’s journey to "Cat Mountain." The setting was designed by Moriah Tumbleston. Another solid stage piece from the troupe which performed "The Monkey King" last year. This year's live music is performed by singer/songwriter, Patricia Vlieg . You have one more chance to see this show. Central Congregational has a parking lot and is a short walk from the Green St. stop on the Orange Line.
"Cat Mountain" created by Behind the Mask Theatre, May
Behind the Mask at Central Congregational
85 Seaver St., Jamaica Plain (617) 876-7412; www.behindthemask.org

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”ROMULUS"
Date:Sat, May 12, 2003
Quicktake on Romulus at Theatre Cooperative

The Coop's season closer is an amusing, somewhat leisurely romp through the end of the Roman Empire as imagined by Durenmatt(1949 - Four Acts- after WWII) and refurbished a while back by Gore Vidal (1963 - Two Acts - Vietnam heating up). The play's take on empire and "Civilization" might be relevant today. Jason Myatt makes a fine Emperor/chicken breeder, Eve Passeltiner a strong Empress, Mare Bayard their histrionic daughter Rea, and IRNE winner Forrest Walter a striking "ghost" as Aemelian, her P.O.W. fiance. Rodney Raftery is Romulus' nemesis, Ottaker the Goth, who's a bit of a surprise. Gerald Slattery plays Otto Rupf, millionaire, who'll save the empire, providing everyone switches from togas to pants. This textile mogul also wants Rea. Mostly farce, with a touch of philosophy, the show takes place an open thrust backed by bright "outsider art" scene painting with quite respectable costumes. Take a short trip to Broadway (Somerville) before the end of the month for a bit of speculative history and some wry laughs.
"Romulus" by freely adapted by Gore Vidal, May 9 - 31
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville, (617) 625-1300

An avid theater-goer friend of my daughter's who saw the New Rep's "SWEENEY" said that in her not-so-humble opinion it is better than the NYC original, which she saw and thought wonderful, or any other production of it she's seen since.

I have no other live productions to compare it to: much as I admire Sondheim, the story is so cruel that I've only listened to the cd and watched the video productions that were carried by PBS. It is certainly better than those. But comparisons aside, Rick's New Rep staging is a marvel! Seamless and confident and brilliant, it will make your hair stand on end. Not to be missed! And it makes one proud to be part of a community that can achieve work of such quality.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”Veronika Vavoom, Volcanologist"
Date: Sun, May 4, 2003 11:37 PM

Those who caught "VV,V" in last year's BTW Unbound New Play series will want to take a look at it reworked and in full production. Others with a taste for somewhat uneven adventurous playwrighting in the Fornes/Kopit/Durang mode may have a good time at this peculiar and ultimately moving show. With a two-level set by J.Michael Griggs draped in red, and high-energy performances by Jenny Israel in the title role, Chris Brophy as her former boyfriend, Jonathan Silver as an extremely troubled teen, Ann Barry as a bit of everything, and IRNE winning actress Maureen Keiller in a dual role as the boy's over-the-top mother, and Veronika's as well, this production rocks. Actually, it's the Motown soundscape complete with choreography interspersed with ominous rumblings, but ... Check it out for the next two weekends, then take at look at this year's BTW Unbound 2003 at the very end of May.
" VERONIKA VAVOOM, VOLCANOLOGIST" by Olga Humphrey, May 2 -18
Boston Theatre Works at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave. Allston, (617) 728-4321

Date: Sun, 04 May 2003 11:35:20 -0400
From: "Larry Stark's Theater Mirror" larry@theatermirror.com
Subject: "Perfect" --- FOOL FOR LOVE & ONCE UPON A MATTRESS In the past three days I was privileged to see a light, frothy little comedy and a dark, quirky drama, and each one Flawlessly brought to the stage. (Yeah yeah, nothing in theater is ever "flawless"; but you didn't see these shows, I did. The word stands.)

The Turtle Lane Playhouse uses a sort of "two-platoon system" that plugs excellent "understudies" into several roles at odd times during their runs. That means you may Not see Susan Walsh play the logorheic Queen or Jennifer Condon play Princess "Fred" nor Aimee Doherty play Lady Larkin in the Mary Rodgers/Marshall Barer comedy "Once Upon A Mattress" as I did. So what?
The show is a genuine delight for which I WILL give a full review, but here I must paraphrase it's prologue:
"You can tell a lady by the cut of her hair
But a genuine Cut-Up is exceedingly rare!"

"Fool for Love" is at The Industrial Theatre, a few blocks from Harvard Square, and it is the kind of carefully crafted production for which my tired cliche "riveting" was originally invented. The pace is deliberate and engrossing, the pauses and the "comic relief" lines perfectly placed, the games with theatrical reality astonishing, the set as garishly tawdry as any motel-room, the cast physically flawless, and the sound and lighting effects so subtle and so effective I will, again, need a full review to try to do them justice.

If you think you like good theater, go first to "Fool For Love" (it won't last more than one more week-end, damn it!) and then to "Once Upon A Mattress".
If you don't like either of them, I'll pay you back the price of your ticket.
And, on my budget, I cannot afford to make such a promise lightly.
( a k a That Fat Old Man with The Cane )

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake - ”Once Upon a Mattress"
Date:Fri, May 2, 2003 11:01 PM

Want to take the family to a musical, but have some reservations about the subject matter of "Sweeney Todd", "Side Show", or even "Man of La Mancha" ? Turtle Lane Playhouse's current offering, Mary Rodger's fairytale "Once Upon a Mattress" might be just the ticket. Ron Dion's set is charming, Robert Itzak's costumes are colorful and comic, the cast is in fine voice, and director Jerry Bisantz gets all the laughs in the right place. Marshal Barer's lyrics have just a hint of Mary's famous father's first partner, Lorenz Hart, and music director Wayne Ward's tight ensemble is careful not to drown out the words. Perri Chouteau or Jennifer Condon are adorable as princess Fred --Winifred-- and Jim Jordan plays Prince Dauntless the Drab as a lovable nebbish. Chuck Walsh is a delightfully dotty Wizard, Eric Rubin an energetic King, especially when chasing after the female chorus, and Susan Walsh or Abigale Cordell wonderful nags as Queen Aggravain. So go take another look at the show which made Carol Burnett famous, and will make almost anyone smile. You won't have to think about it.
"Once Upon A Mattress" music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer,
book by Jay Thompsom, Marshall Barer, and Dean Fuller, April 25 - June 1
Turtle Lane Playhouse
283 Melrose St, Newton (617) 244-0169

From "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject Quicktake -" SideShow"
DateThurs, May 1, 2003 10 AM
Quicktake on SIDESHOW
If the negatives in some published reviews of the climax to one the Lyric's most interesting seasons cause music theatre fans to skip "SideShow", it will be their loss. Spiro Veloudos' production of this gritty fable is probably superior to its somewhat overblown Broadway antecedent. The cast, headed by Maryann Zschau(Daisy), Susan Molloy(Violet), Christopher Chew(Terry), and Peter A. Carey(Buddy) handle Kreiger's sung-through score with exceptional skill, not to mention another stunning performance by Brian R. Robinson as Jake. The rest of the ensemble is musically sound as well. Janie E. Howland's fluid set is a wonder and Gail Astrid Buckley's costumes, which turn a cast of seventeen into over fifty characters, are just right. Lyric's"SideShow" adds up to an "attraction" that get's more interesting as you think about it.
"SideShow", book & lyrics - Bill Mitchell, music - Henry Krieger April 25 - May 31
Lyric Stage Company, Copley Square
140 Clarendon St. Boston, (617) 437 - 7172

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”Sweeney Todd"
Date:Tues, Apr 29, 2003 1:28 PM
Quicktake on SWEENEY TODD:the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

It’s an old-fashioned penny-dreadful melodrama brought to seething life by one of the best musical theatre ensembles assembled hereabouts in a longtime. As usual, Rick Lombardo works directorial magic in the New Rep’s intimate hall, aided and abetted by Peter Colao’s intricate protean set.

Todd Alan Johnson plays Sweeney with relish, while Nancy E. Carroll as Mrs. Lovett reminds all just how good a musical performer she can be. Music director Janet Roma keeps cast and musicians under total control. Speakeasy veteran Leigh Barrett makes the Beggar Woman into a role worth watching.

Brent Reno and Lianne Grasso play the young lovers with engaging awakwardness. Paul D. Farwell and Bob Zolli make Judge Turpin and Beadle Banford villians worth hissing, while being musically impeccable. BosCon student Austin Lesch is appealing an Tobias the crippled boy and Even Harrington as Pirelli the Italian Barber has just the right phony operatic sound. Frances Nelson McSherry and Christine Alger costume one and all through myriad changes with believable Dickensian wear.

And Production stage manager Greg Nashe’s crew manages to stay almost invisble as the cast appears to change sets through more than two dozen scenes. Don’t miss this one; advance sales are already quite substantial.
"Sweeney Todd:" book by Hugh Wheeler, music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Apr. 24 - May 25
New Repertory Theatre
62 Lincoln, Newton Highlands, (617)-332-1646.

From: Norfolk1a@aol.com
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 10:39:36 -0400
Subject: Quick Take Piece of My Heart

Hi Larry,
This is just a quick take on Piece of My Heart. The American Repertory theatre used to have an ad campaign that read; "Imagine What Theatre Can Be." Well, anybody, and I mean anybody, who loves theatre should head to the Leland Center to check out Piece of My Heart.

6 Women and 1 Man in a tiny, low-ceilinged black box, with nothing but simple costumes take you on a journey that is riveting, emotional and in the end has the heartbreaking, bold truth bearing down on you with the weight of our current world situation.

Even though the play is taken from a book of interviews, and faces the danger of falling into docudrama, this playwright is operating on a level above even most of our leading dramatists. She is brave in her themes and conclusion. For all the hell these women went through, both before and after the war, their participation had an objective and inherent good that overshadows all of their individual problems, pains, demons, and horrible memories. A tough pill to swallow for anybody, most of all those whose lives were ruined.
You don't have to imagine what theatre can be, you can see it, right now.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”LIFE WORKS"
Date: Mon., April 14, 2003 10:32 AM
Quicktake on Life Works

The final offering in Theatre Cooperative's New Play Series was Robert Mattson's "Life Works', a somewhat opaque title for a one act thriller which probably should be developed into a two-act play. The cast, Michael Athas, Mark Cafazzo, Frank Ridley, and Amy Strack carried the action successfully under Joseph Zamparelli Jr.'s direction, but the material didn't offer enough depth for real character development, though there were intriguing hints. The climax seemed a bit rushed. Jito Lee's set tucked into one corner of the Peabody House space was convincingly grungy.. It will be interesting to see if this script goes anywhere.
"Life Works" by Robert Mattson, Apr. 11-12
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville MA, 617) 625-1300

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”THE WILD PARTY"
Date:Sun, Mar 23, 2003 11:03 AM
Quicktake on "The Wild Party" (Lippa)

If you'd like to compare Lippa's solo effort to the Tony-nominated version by Chiusa (with G,Wolfe's help) which Speakeasy did last year, trek on down to Hyde Park to RTW's renovated second-floor hall (no elevator yet). An energetic group of local singers, including a bevy of BosCon students, tackle this Lloyd-Webber inspired opus based on J.M.March's racy poem, which began development at the O'Neill and ran briefly at the Manhattan Theatre Club. The acoustics in this old ballroom, "French's Opera House", even with miking, make sound balance with their lively jazz ensemble chancy at times but everyone's in good voice. Try to get a table on house right. This productions a good try and RTW will be giving Turtle Lane a run for the money (providing patrons and sponsors continue supporting both with the same) Incidentally, each theatre is now enrolling youngsters for their respective summer programs.
There are good directions on RTW's Website; http://www.riversidetheatreworks.org/. The Fairmount commuter rail line has the most trains. There's parking in nearby bank lots, but turn left after the clock on the triangle before River St. turns into Fairmount Ave. to get into the lot across from the theater or park in the lot just to the right of said landmark. Turning around on Fairmont without going down aways can be difficult. In the daytime, the Hyde Park Avenue bus from Forest Hills is also an option.
"The Wild Party" by Andrew Lippa (everything), Mar. 21 - Apr. 6
Riverside Theatre Works at "French's Opera House" now RTW
45 Fairmount Ave. Hyde Park, (617) 361-7024

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-"TRUTH & BEAUTY"
Date:Fri, Mar 21, 2003 10:10 PM
Quicktake on "Truth & Beauty"

This piece, which has also played as “American Gothic”, is a far more political effort that Ping Chong’s cerebral peepshow presented last year at the Market Theater. The director, the BCA’s Michelle A. Baxter, rightly suggests that it is particularly relevant at this time with its themes connecting commerce and violence. Company founders Shawn La Count and Mark VanDerzee take the two central roles labeled “S” and “M”, while Mason Sand and Joshua McCarey serve as visible stage hands in white lab coats on either side. Karim Badwan’s stark set with active lighting is effective with a few surprizes; the video component is relevant if not entirely necessary. Sound by Ken Porter generally enhances the action. This production continues this Brookline-based groups experimentation with multimedia, and in that respect is their most successful effort so far. Well-acted too.
"TRUTH & BEAUTY" by Ping Chong in collaboration w/Jeffrey Rose & Michael Rold, Mar.20 - Apr. 12
Company One
Black Box, BCA
539 Tremont, Boston, (617) 426-2787

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”A NEW WAR"
Date:Wed, Mar 19, 2003 11:30 PM
Quicktake on "A New War"

Walking back from Davis Sq. after seeing an extended Sat. Nite Live sketch known as "A New War", I wondered whether these impersonations deserved any more of my time. Then I turned on the tube to get the early news and saw someone off the cover of Mad Magazine explaining why he'd gone off prematurely (sort of) followed by on-air blather almost as skewed but not as comical as WHAT's show. If you found anything funny in the previous remark, you're ready for "A New War."
Gil Hoppe's 80 minute political satire (or perhaps burlesque) of 24/7 war coverage isn't a home run; it's more of a weak two-bagger. But his team of Michael Dorval, Caitlin Gibbon, Nathaniel McIntrye & Stephen Russell is in the park, even if the comic payoff is kinda lame, and they don't get beyond the 7th inning stretch. There's plenty of room for improvement in this show which seems frozen sometime last fall when it was a hiit on the Cape and inspired by the first two years of the current administration.
But if you need a laugh, and you've already seen Rough & Tumble's "Bits & Pieces", at the BCA--soon to be joined by Mill 6's efforts late nights on Fri. & Sat., consider descending to Jimmy's venue. Just follow the arrows and you'll get there eventually. The Burren is right next door; the show might seem funnier if you stop there first.
A NEW WAR" by Gip Hoppe, Mar. 7 - Apr.13
Wellfleet Harbor Actors' Theatre at Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway
255 Elm St. Somerville, (617) 591-1616

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 18:46:18 -0500
From: "Larry Stark's Theater Mirror" larry@theatermirror.com>
Subject: "A New War"

I was at Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway tonight, where The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater has remounted Gip Hoppe's "A New War" which Boston critics apparently loved last October when it had its premiere on Cape Cod.

It is a pallid parody of television's 24-hour news programs. Set, lighting, costumes, and an excellent cast two of whom (Michael Dorval & Stephen Russell) appear doing a whole series of talking heads, with repeated character-changes, inside a big t-v set . I do hope all these theater artists were well paid for what they do.

I guess the bad news is that there wasn't so much uproarious laughter from the sparse crowd to keep me awake, but the good news is I didn't snore. And if you go, you'll be out in Davis Square by quarter to ten and the bars will still be open.
( a k a larry stark )

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-"BITS & PIECES"
Date:Mon, Mar 17, 2003 3:37 PM
Quicktake on "Bits & Pieces"

A core group of the usual suspects, including Chris Cook the new guy, is up to a variety of things in this latest Rough & Tumble exercise in physical fun. Kristin Baker started last Saturday’s show off with a madcap dash to the office accompanied by Fred Harrington at the keyboard. He provided backup for a number of sketches, though there was some recorded music. Tori Low was her usual enigmatic self in several wordless pieces, plus a marvelous Ionesco send-up. George Saulnier III was chameleon-like as usual as he and Chris fought over a chair, drowve around in a car a few times, and had confrontations over Kristin in the longest piece of the evening, scripted by William Donnelly. Irene Daly was in the thick of it, once even playing a self-satisfied disembodied head. Starting this weekend, another NAPA group, Mill6, will be presenting two one-acts after the weekend performances. See either or both, you’ll be glad you did.
"BITS & PIECES" by Rough & Tumble, plus some words by Bill Donnelly, Mar.14 - Apr. 6
A series of sketches
Leland Cntr, BCA
539 Tremont, Boston, (617) 426-2787

From: "jerry bisantz" jbisantz@attbi.com
Subject: Coyote On a Fence, a fan letter from Jerry B>
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 23:52:52 -0500

Dear Larry,
It's very rare that I gush about a show, but I have to tell you and your rather large and savvy audience to GET THEIR COLLECTIVE ASSES TO THETREMONT THEATER to see Boston Theater Work's brilliant "Coyote On A Fence". As a "sometimes playwright", it can be humbling, indeed, to discover a script so well put together as Bruce Graham's play... there is not a "down" moment. Nancy Curran Willis' direction is seamless and the acting is absolutely terrific. Bobbi Steinbach, Pater Papadopoulos, Barlow Adamson and Fred Robbins are all right on. Anyone who loves great acting and a play that deals with an important issue (death row) WITHOUT PREACHING... would be advised to get tickets right away for closing weekend. This show really deserves sold out crowds.
Jerry B.

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”BETRAYAL
Date:Mon, Mar 10, 2003 10:05 AM
Quicktake on Betrayal

The Nora Theatre Company's latest stylish revival is one of Pinter's timeless displays of the fallibility of human memory and personal relationships. A close relation to his earlier "Old Times" (1970), "Betrayal", a nine scene short play chronicles a seven year affair between the wife of one man and his best friend, not by recounting its aftereffects, but by beginning at the end--now--and taking the three characters--and the audience--step by step back to its beginning. Director Scott Edmiston gets effective performances from his trio of Anne Gottlieb, Joe Pacheco, and Jason Asprey on a stark white set by Janie Howland, impeccably costumed by Gail Astrid Buckley. As usual, attention to the dialogue and a tolerance for pauses is necessary when listening to a Pinter play. The structure of the piece is more musical or poetic than dramatic, since the tension between the characters is one of ambiguous revelation than conflict. Best seen with intimate friends and discussed afterward. (Pause) But it should be seen. In any case. Soon.
"BETRAYAL"(1978) by Harold Pinter, Mar. 7 - 30
Nora Theatre Company at Boston Playwrights' Theatre
949 Comm. Ave, (617) 491-2026

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Date:Sun, Mar 9, 2003 12:32 PM
Quicktake on "Letters to a Student Revolutionary"

IRNE nominated director Leslie Chapman, the Artistic Director of the Theatre Cooperative has found another interesting script, especially relevant to these increasingly political times. The Cooperative has also assembled a sound cast of actors with Asian and Southeast Asian backgrounds. These focal actors form a tight ensemble to move through various scenes of eloquent docu-drama. Actually, that label doesn't quite fit, since though the action of the piece covers the decade preceding the massacre in Tianimen Square in 1989, the play is really a comparison between lives of two young Chinese women, Bibi from California, played by Linda Tsang, and "Karen", an bookkeeper in Beijing who has adopted a secret Western name to signify her desire to get to America. Their decade long correspondence, which began with a chance encounter on the street and which presumably ends with the massacre. The difficulties each encounters as they struggle to deal with traditional Chinese family values, societal expectations, and the force of events around them makes for an interesting evening. Set, costume changes, lighting, sound, and projections under Doc Madision's technical direction show the steady improvement of the company's ingenuity if not resources. It's often easier to park on the other side of Broadway; just be careful crossing this busy four lane street.
"LETTERS TO A STUDENT REVOLUTIONARY" by Elizabeth Wong, Mar. 7 -29
A play in one act
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway Somerville, (617) 625-1300

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com
Subject: Quicktake-”No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs
Date:Sat. Mar. 1, 2003 10:45 AM
Quicktake on No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs

The "NO" play may be the most important show touching on the inter-racial problem that the New Rep has presented over the past few seasons. John Henry Redwood's latest effort is powerful not simply because of the very real human struggles it depicts, but because the play confronts a more fundemental dilemma. How do we deal with the harsh truths of life? Is a lie of omission sometimes the only way out? And what will the consequences be? Director Adam Zahler together with an excellent cast pulls together a tight ensemble around this backwoods family drama, with its moments of comedy and tragedy, its air of mystery and potentially explosive conclusion. Classically-trained Jacqueline Gregg brings real authority to the lead, Mattie Cheeks, opposite Baron Kelly, currently on a Fulbright at Harvard, as her ebullient husband.The two create a couple worth rooting for. Ted Kazanoff, as a Jewish sociologist doing research in their part of North Carolina, is comic when necessary, and moving at the end. Natanjah Driscoll from Brookline, as the younger daughter, and Giselle Jones from Canada as the older are believable siblings and convincing throughout. Brandeis M.F.A. Candidate, Celli LaShell Pitt, is a strong presence as the mysterious Aunt Cora. While the climax of the play may seem momentarily satisfying, Redwood has left enough unanswered questions hanging over the Cheeks family to make this play the potential start of at least a trilogy. These people are engaging enough that audiences may want more of them.
"No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs" by John Henry Redwood , Feb.26-Mar. 30 New Repertory Theatre
52 Lincoln St. Newton MA, (617) 332-1646

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”A CLASS ACT"
Date:Sun, Mar 2, 2003 7:21 PM
Quicktake on A CLASS ACT

This show, which might have been simply a concert of lyricist/composer Edward Kleban’s previously unheard work, turns out to be an absorbing musical, a long, loving look at a Broadway original. The first rate cast, headed by Jon Blackstone as Ed, with Leigh Barrett and Kerry Dowling as the most significant women in his life. All are in great voice. Joe Siriani as the legendary Lehman Engel--who too should be better known--Gretchen Goldsworthy as the go-getting Felicia, his sometime boss at Columbia records, and Will MacGarrahan as Michael Bennett and Ed’s friend Bobby, the drummer all have their shining moments. Two Boston Conservatory students, Emily Swanson, who seduces Ed as the delicious Mona, and Andrew Miramontes, who gets to play Marvin Hamlisch, also come through. It’s musically complex and the lyrics are all they’re cracked up to be. The judgement that Kleban was better at the latter is true, but his tunes were better than most in Speakeasy’s recurring hit, “Bat Boy”. It’ll be back; you only have this month to see “A Class Act.”
"A Class Act" by Music & Lyrics by Edward Kleban, Book by Linda Kline & Lonnie Price, March 1-22
Speakeasy Stage Company at BCA Theatre
539 Tremont St. Boston, (617) 426-ARTS

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”As Bees in Honey Drown"
Date:Sunday, Feb 16,10 AM

The Drama Deptpartment in NYC, started by the author of this piece, labels "As Bees in Honey Drown" an "instant classic". It seems to be becoming one around here as well. M.Lynda Robinson, the new Managing Director of the Gloucester Stage Company, reprises her role as "Alexa Vere de Vere" performed for the Nora Theatre Company a few seasons ago in this larger scale production in Stoneham.
The rest of the cast of this stylish and slightly wicked comedy includes Patrick Zeller as first-time novelist "Evan Wyler", and three other performers in multiple roles. Laura Given Napoli has several delightful cameos starting with Amber, the photographer's assistant who speaks of herself in the third person. Christopher Brophy first appears as a hiularious menswear clerk, then morphs into a vicious rocker, and winds up as Michael, "Alexa"--OKA Brenda--'s first partner. Jessica Jackson switches through a variety of stylish types, while Ricardo Engermann starts as the Photographer and winds up a recording company executive. The cast has a blast pulling off this farce of appearences and deception on an interesting multi-level set by Jenna McFarland. There's plenty of free parking in Stoneham.
"As Bees in Honey Drown" by Douglas Carter Beane, Feb. 14 - Mar. 2
Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham MA, (781) 279-2200

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-"From Slavegirl to Mistress”
Date:Thurs, Feb 13 8:03 PM

I Sebastiani, more usually seen around the SCA, have their version of 17th century commedia dell’Arte improvised farce up at Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA through this Saturday. It’s a mildly bawdy romp with a lot of zany activities played just a bit leisurely. Jay Cross and Alex Newman who got this version together appear as master and servant. The latter naturally comes off better. Cat Crow is outstanding as a woman of easy virtue. Abby Weiner and Aaron Santos are appriately ditzy lovers, while Carl West stands out as Pantalone. If you’ve never seen a show in this fashion, complete with live period music, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Just don’t throw vegatables, Durrell Hall just been renovated.
"Slavegirl/Mistress" a scenario adapted by Cross & Newman, Feb. 11 thru 15
I Sebastiani at Durrell Hall, Camb. YMCA
820 Mass. Ave, Central Sq. Camb (617) 964-7684, x2

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”It’s All True"
Date:Monday, Feb 10, 11:29 AM
Quicktake on IT’S ALL TRUE

This backstage tale of the legendary “opening” of Marc Blitzstein’s labor opera “The Cradle Will Rock” may be most interesting to theatre buffs, but Spiros Veloudos’ agile direction of this six character piece (where the women each play multiple roles) should engage the more casual theatre goer.

The cast, headed by Geoffery P. Burns as “Orson Welles”, who was directing Federal Theatre Project #891 at the time (while playing the Shadow on radio), with Robert Saoud as “John Housemann”, who produced TCWR, and Neil A. Casey as “Howard DaSilva” who had the lead are all solid. Christopher Chew is compelling as the neurotic composer, Julie Jirousek shines as his recently-deceased wife “Eva”as well as the WPA actress “Olive” struggling with the lead in his show, and Jennifer Valentine as stage manager “Jean Rosenthal” and Welles’ first wife “Virginia” adds some comic irony. The cast would be worth seeing even if the play wasn’t as interesting as it is.
"It’s All True" by Jason Sherman, Feb. 7 - Mar. 8
Lyric Stage Company at YWCA
140 Clarendon Boston, (617) 437-7172

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”La Dispute"
Date:Thurs, Feb 6, 2003 11:24 AM
Quicktake on LA DISPUTE

Marivaux remains as trivial as ever in the current production of one of his lesser works at the ART this month. All the technical virtuosity and brio surrounding the piece still doesn't overcome its central misanthropy. The script was after all played once in 1744 and not revived until 1938, with its current "popularity" dating from 1973. It's fun to watch, after an overlong mime/dance opening, interestingly costumed in modern high style (as seen in fashion photos), and set against a Serra-inspired set suggesting a maze. The S.I.T.I. cast members have a unique controlled style, which can be very engaging. The lighting is Continental with interesting angles, while the sound attempts to comment on the action but gets a bit banal. As an example of the guest company's work, the show has some addtional interest, though ultimately it seems like business as usual at the A.R.T.
"La Dispute" by Pierre Marivaux, Feb. 1-22
American Repertory Theatre/S.I.T.I. Company at Loeb Auditorium
LDC, 64 Brattle St., Camb (617)) 547-8300

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”The Shape of Things
Date:Mon, Feb 3, 2003 12:06 PM

When Evelyn, played by foxy Laurie Latreille, appears at the very beginning of Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things", the audience knows she's up to something. They won't find out what for almost two hours (there's no intermission). The wait is worth it, even if the end of the play doesn't quite satisfy. What "Evilyn" does with Tommy Day Carey's Adam is the crux of the play. (Their names are significant.) Her incidental effect on Jenny and Phillip, two of Adam's friends played by ever-delightful Stacy Fisher and newcomer Walter Belenky is just collateral damage in the war between the sexes - or is this art? In a cool fast-paced style, director Paul Melone speeds all four actors through numerous changes in Paul Theriault's evocative set. The cast sets and removes all their furniture on an abstract stained glass floor pattern. This production lives up to Speakeasy's reputation for high-class cutting edge production, including expressive costumes by Gail Buckley and compelling sound plus original music by Rick Brenner. Go for it.
"The Shape of Things" by Neil LaBute, Jan.31 - Feb.22
Speakeasy Stage Co. at BCA Theatre
539 Tremont St., (617) 426-2787

A quick-take from Beverly Creasey: POZZO'S PARTY
Ken Baltin electrifies the stage in the New Rep's fiftieth annoversary production of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot". Baltin is a Diaghelev impressario of a POZZO...he's a performer of the first order who contemplates every dramatic move he makes....and can he take a seat! Rick Lombardo's subdued production crackles when Baltin and the pathetic (or is that psychopathic) Lucky enter the scene. Bates Wilder fills the stage with his larger than life servant/poet. ...which is going some because John Kuntz and Austin Pendleton are Vladimir and Estragon. Go just to see Kuntz impersonate a guinea pig eating a carrot. My politically savvy audience listened to every word (which is why I think Lombardo sacrifices some of the comedy) and they laughed the laugh of irony when Estragon asks his mate "We lost our rights?" and Vladimir replies "We got rid of them." Nice to know that fifty years after its premiere, "Godot" still resonates loudly. The boys are right "Time will tell."

A quick-take from Beverly Creasey: WONDERFUL WIZ
Lois Roach is a magician--to take a bare stage (RCC) and turn it into the enchanted land of Oz--without scenery...ABRACADABRA you are transported to a dreamland full of animals, witches and adorable munchkins. "The Wiz" features the spectacular choreography (AND performances) of Jackie Davis and Born Allah, and shazam a tornado tapdances Dorothy over the rainbow. Deborah Thompson is reason alone th see "The Wiz. She's a little Dorothy with a big voice. Roach also gets charming performances from Heather Fry as one of the good witches (the one who can't disappear), from Craig Smith as a sweet Scarecrow, from Trecia Reavis as a hip Tin Man and from Eric Darden as an adorable lion. Lynette Gittens is the scary Eveiline and Eboni Walcott, Joseph Eveillard and Lorenzo Hooker tap up a storm. TALK TO YOUR FEET: Ease on down the road and see "The Wiz" or a bad witch will drop a house on you!

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake -”Howie the Rookie"
Date: Sun, Jan, 26 2003 1:00pm

For a mini-saga set in the slums of Dublin, Sugan's latest is curiously exhilerating. Blly Meleady (the Rookie) plays yet another Irish original to perfection, Kevin Steinberg's thug (the Howie) is compelling. The show is two 45 minute monologues detailing the lives and deaths affecting this neighborhood in a day or two. J/ Michael Grigg's set is part playground, part dungeon, offering director Carmel O'Reilly and her actors an amazing variety of spaces to inhabit. Tune up your ears; these guys talk inner-city. Get tickets now, this two-man marvel is only on 'til Feb.15
"Howie the Rookie" by Mark O'Rowe, Jan 24 to Feb. 15
Sugan Theatre Company at BCA Black Box
539 Tremont, (617) 426 - 2787

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”Marathon
Date: Monday, January 20, 2003 6:15 PM
Quicktake on Marathon

Those who were amazed watching a cast of runners jog for ten minutes in Israel Horowitz's ten-minute play about the Gloucester road race at the Theatre Narathon two years ago will be astounded to see two actors do the same for almost an hour in the Stoneham Theatre's presentation of Italian playwright, Edoardo Erba's "Marathon", "running" through Jan. 26th. Actually, Horowitz has been working on his own version of this script, but it wasn't ready for production, so a version by Colin Teevan from England is on the boards. Both actor/runners,, buff Eric Laurits and lanky Adam Paltrowitz, turn in strong and affecting performances under Weylin Symes tight direction. The play is more than just a novel feat of endurance for the cast, even when you can see the end coming. Set and lighting are economical and quite effective.
"MARATHON" by Edoardo Erba, English Version--Colin Tevan, Jan.17-26
Emerging Stages at Stoneham Theatre
395 Main St. Stoneham, (781) 279-2200

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake - ORSON'S SHADOW
Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 10:29 AM
QUICKTAKE on "Orson's Shadow"

If you missed last night's reading of Austin Pendleton's "Orson's Shadow" presented FREE at the New Rep, you missed an exciting evening of theatre. This play, which has been a success across the country (except in Westport CT), revolves around Orson Welles' attempt to direct Laurence Olivier in Ionesco's "Rhinocerous" (a play both men despised) in the early days of Britain's National Theatre. The cast, directed by Adam Zahler, featured (in order of appearence) John Kuntz (Kenneth Tynan, critic terrible), Colin Hammell (Sean, Orson's gopher), Jeremiah Kissel (Orson), Thomas Derrah (Olivier), Brigit Huppuch (Joan Plowright, the future Mrs. Olivier), and Paula Plum (Vivian Leigh, his wife at the time). The script is witty, comic, with the kind of absurdity only the recounting of real lives can achieve.
If the New Rep puts this play into production next season, or in the future, don't miss it, especially if they can field as excellent a cast. And if artistic director Rick Lombardo announces another free reading of some script they're interested in, take advantage of that opportunity as well.
"ORSON'S SHADOW" by Austin Pendleton, Mon. Jan.20
New Repertory Theatre
54 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, www.newrep.org

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”ANNA KARENINA
Date:Friday, January 17, 2003 1:02 PM
Quicktake on Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina"

The best literary adaptaion this company has staged in its six year history, "Anna Karenina" pares down this 850 page opus to a fluid 2 hours, 20 minutes. The script focuses on Anna, played by Alicia Kahn, who may be getting typecast as a period heroine, but continues to develop along that line, and Levin, Tolstoy's alter-ego in the work, played with reserve by Bern Budd. He was seen opposite Kahn in "Little Women" and as an embattled farmer in the Moss Hart Award-winning, "The Clearing". The play is staged in the round with only six neutral benches as furniture. The two leading constantly ask each other, "Where are you?" which moves then right into the next arena under Nora Hussey's innovayive direction.
Other returning company members include Derek Stone Nelson, who is acceptable if a bit restrained as Count Vronsky, and Stephen Cooper as Anna's husband, once again a heavy, but more sympathetic this time. Lauren Balmer is convincing as Dolly, Anna's sister-in law and Melina McGrew is charming as Kitty, Levin's eventual wife. Ken Flott, gets to play three interesting smaller roles, including Levin's dying brother Nikolai, while newcomer John Boller adds a light touch as Stiva, Anna's philandering brother. Gladys Metosian plays Princess Betsy, the symbol of social propriety while Jennifer Barton-Jones play Countess Vronsky. An ensemble of students plays a variety of minor roles and passersby. Throughout the events of the play Jackson Royal stalks hooded and cloaked in black, Death personified from Anna's nightmares. He also serves as the priest for Levin's confession and wedding.
Those who remember the book will not be disappointed, others who see this show might be tempted to visit this classic soon. More audience to play to might bring out more from the cast. There's lots of free parking.
"ANNA KARENINA" adapted by Helen Edmundson, Jan. 8 - Jan. 25
Wellesley Summer Theatre at Alumnae Hall, Wellesley College
106 Central St. (Rt. 135) Wellesley MA, (781) 283-2000

from Larry Stark
The Theater Mirror
Subject: Golda's Balcony
This one-woman show moved effectively through the life of the Israeli who saved her state from the onslaught of five different Arab armies. She did it by demanding delivery of American phantom jets and other armaments. Her threat to use atomic rockets on her enemies --- even though that would drag America and Russia into an atomic world war three --- proves her sincere patriotism. She saved the nation.
Danny Gidron's direction has Annette Miller lurching from her past life (stage-left) to the desk (stage-right) at which she deals in present-tense with that war.
William Gibson's play concerns the survival of a Jewish State, with a (however flawed) happy ending. As far as it goes, it is an interesting view of the last admirable moments in Israeli history.
I come to this play, however, wondering about the rape of Lebanon, the blind-eye turned on Christian murders in refugee camps, and the promised withdrawals of troops from conquered territories. I wondered as I watched whether anyone will write a companion piece explicating the mind of Baruch Goldtstein on the eve of his selflessly patriotic gesture in Hebron. To me the play traces the history of Israelis from enduring pogroms to ordering them. I wondered if the children of Hannan Asrauwi will spend the next three thousand years toasting (in Arabic) "Next year, in Jerusalem!" before they are allowed a state of their own.

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”THE BLUE DEMON"
Date: Thursday, January 9, 2003. 11:08 AM
Quicktake on "The Blue Demon"

Darko Tresnjak's 90 minute "The Blue Demon" at the Huntington is big, self-consciously beautiful, and not particularly insightful. No cliche's suffer any damage in this production, which is great fun to watch, well-presented (even if the acting is rather basic), and moves right along. The three stories told never quite achieve their potential, though the Jewish "Tailor's Story" comes closest. The framing tale of the Sultan's jester's demise is the least well-developed, with an undistinguished conclusion, but the costumes are gorgeous. The title refers to disturbing thoughts which keep one up at night. This show won't. As the three tradesmen say in their final exit line, "Did you hear the one about the Muslim, the Christian, and the Jew..."
”THE BLUE DEMON" by Darko Tresnjak, through Feb. 2, 2003
Huntington Theatre Co. at B.U.Theatre
264 Huntington Ave. Boston , (617) 266-0800

From: g.l.horton@mindspring.com and "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”GOLDA'S BALCONY"
Date: Jan 8, 2002
Quicktakes on GOLDA'S BALCONY

GERALYN HORTON: I have to admit upfront: What I most love about theatre is not so much the acting as the reacting--the way that a play can capture the complex permutations within an interlocking sets of relationships over time. I prefer large cast plays to small ones, and I do not like one-person shows, period. Yes, I’ve performed two of Rosanna Alfaro’s monodramas, enjoying them tremendously, and written six of the seductive things myself. But as an audience member I find them unsatisfying. The solo character is shown off or shown up, the actor likewise; as spectator I feel conned, or complicit.
However, Annette Miller in GOLDA’s BALCONY proved to be the exception.
The shear acting power manifested on the was uncanny, but thanks to the guiding hand of director Daniel Gidron I never for a moment felt that the acting or the character was on display for its own sake. Actor, author, and audience; we had come together to understand this character because it is a matter of life and death. By understanding her we may better understand our singular selves and our still tribal world.
Gibson has fashioned a Golda who is a force-- not of nature, but of human nature-- because she can say “we” with utter assurance; and because she believes that the survival of a particular ideal “we” is of absolute value, more important than the survival of individuals, she is able to lead people to extraordinary effort and sacrifice. Miller’s towerring performance, while it has a few deft touches of impersonation, succeeds because the actress is able to re-create and embody that huge primitive almost impersonal force we recognize as leadership.
However, because we recognize leadership doesn’t mean that the play insists that have to approve of it. I don’t think that anyone who goes in to GOLDA’s BALCONY thinking that Zionism was a bad idea will come out of it a convert. For every “we” there is an implied “they”, and Gibson’s script makes it easy to imagine the same sort of passionate intelligence at work on the other side, conspiring to survive and uniting to prevail whatever the cost. And GOLDA’S BALCONY certainly makes clear what the cost may be: a nuclear exchange that exterminates “us’ and “them” alike.

WILL STACKMAN: Yes, Annette Miller is exceptional at presenting William Gibson’s interpretation of a possible view of Golda Meir’s life, as seen from her own viewpoint on “Golda’s Balcony”. Director Daniel Gidron and the actress have crafted a tight and interesting performance from Gibson’s reduction of his 1977 script, which might not come off so well without their seasoned efforts.
Given the current continuing crisises in the Middle East it’s useful--and a bit disheartening--to be reminded how far back into the 20th Century these difficulties actually stretch. The play presents no solutions. It does provide the grim reminder that the only known nuclear power in that part of the world is the Jewish state. W.S.

"GOLDA'S BALCONY" by William Gibson, Jan. 3 - Feb. 22
Shakespeare & Co. at Tremont Theatre
276 Tremont, Bos (866) 637 - 3353

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”Beyond Beief"
Date: Insert date and time
Quicktake on BEYOND BELIEF or Catholics are people too!

While this is a “world premiere” of this title, Theatre Marathon regulars will recognize several Jack Neary sketches which were higghlights previous years and have already been published by Bakers. Not to worry, they’re worth a second look placed in the context of this show. Neary has done a tight job of directing Bobbie Steinbach, Ellen Colton, and Cheryl McMahon in the key roles of the three widows on the porch reading the paper. Bob Saoud does a fine comic turn as Santa, and a quick music hall parody of “Love & Marriage” as “Sex & Catholics”. Lindsay Joy and Christopher Loftus have a hilarious sketch as “Catholic Man” and “horny woman”, then get more serious in the second half. And since “Catholics are people too” members of the Roman Church will probably enjoy the hilarity in the first half and understand the ending to the show better than most.
"BEYOND BELIEF" by Jack Neary, Jan.3 thru Feb. 1, 2003
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
140 Clarendon St, (617) 437-7172

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”New Curtains for Macbeth"
Date:Monday, January 6, 2003 2:36 PM

One way to get a new play on is to do it yourself. Larry Weinstein, under Spiros Veloudos direction, does a commendable job of premiereing his long one-act monodrama as “Mack Finer”, frustrated second-rate actor. Next time around, and there should be one, the play will benefit if the author could step back from this possibly autobiographical material and concentrate on words and structure. But it’s an interesting evening, and if you go see “Beyond Belief”, there’s a discount coupon off the already low price.
"New Curtains for Macbeth" by Larry Weinstein, thru Jan. 19th, 2003
Lyric Stage in association with Boston Playwrights’ at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre,
949 Comm. Ave., Allston (617) 492-0431

From: "Carl Rossi" carossi54@hotmail.com
Subject: An SOS for yet another show!
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 2002 13:59:40 +0000
9 December 2002
More Seasons Greetings (with STILL more to come):
This weekend I saw another show by a troupe who has been consistently ignored by the major newspapers: The Gold Dust Orphans' production of JOAN CRAWFORD'S CHRISTMAS ON THE POLE, which is one of the most entertaining Christmas shows you will find this holiday season. If you remember and enjoyed Carol Burnett's parody of MILDRED PIERCE on her TV show, then the Orphans' production is for YOU! And it features a rendition of "Jingle Bells" that has got to be the most hilarious thing I have seen all year - truly! You will be cheering the place down, just as Saturday night's audience and I did.
If you groan at yet another CHRISTMAS CAROL or NUTCRACKER Ballet, why not treat yourself to this fun show instead (and it's "safe" enough for your Aunt Esther, too!).
If you cannot attend, please pass this along to those who can.
My review will come later - and it will be a rave!
* * *
Machine at the Ramrod Center for the Performing Arts
1254 Boylston Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 265-6222
Playing Thu/Fri/Sat until 21 December
Tickets: $25 (cash) at the door

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”Cloak and Dagger"
Date: Friday, December 6, 2002

Rough and Tumble is up to their old tricks in the intimate confines of the Leland Center this month. Four of the usual suspects, Sean Barney, Irene Daly, Tori Low, and George Saulnier III are joined by two new hands, Kimberly Conzo and Brian Platt to "blah, blah" their way through a spoof on spy movies.

There's no point to it all, as anyone who's seen the latest Bond installment should know. Fred Harrington accompanies the action at the keyboard and Bonnie Duncan's costume scrounging is superb as usual. Dan Milstein and company continue to develop their skills at physical comedy and observational humor. What's more, the Mill 6 collaborative is doing a bill of three one-acts in the same space at 10:30 pm after their show for the next three weekends. Marty Barrett, William Donnelly, and Chris Walsh were each given the same picture of a donkey, and have come up with three short plays billed as "Three Pieces of Ass." David Dowling directs.
"CLOAK AND DAGGER" byRough & Tumble, Dec. 5-21
Rough and Tumble Theatre at Leland Center, BCA
539 Tremont, Boston, (617) 426-ARTS

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-”The Blowin pf Baile Gall"
Date:Sunday, December 8, 2002 5:30 PM

The second of Ronan Noone’s plays about his native Connemara has just as many secrets as his award-winning “The Lepers of Baile Baiste” and a few more surprises. A first rate Irish cast, headed by 2002 IRNE winner Billy Meleady, includes Ciaran Crawford, Derry Woodhouse, and Susan B. McConnell.
Then add Aaron Pitre as the most obvious “blowin” (someone not born and raised in this “baile”). Wesley Savick’s direction lets the language drive the action, Richard Chamber’s set is a believable house under renovation, Gail Astrid Buckley’s costumes look worked in, and Haddon Kime’s African beat fills the spaces between scenes evocatively. Kudos also to Kim Carrell for intense fight scenes with tools on a very tight and cluttered stage. If Noone’s first professional production by Sugan this fall gave indications of major talent, this followup doesn’t disappoint.
BPT is right on the BC Green Line (even if you may have to catch a bus on the weekends) so weather is no excuse to miss this one.
"The Blowin of Baile Gall" by Ronan Noone, Dec. 5-22
949 Comm. Ave. Boston, (617) 358-PLAY

Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:41:33 +0800
Subject: Check This Out!
From: Lori Frankian laf602@earthlink.net
Hi Folks,
I don't usually do this, in fact, I've never plugged just one show before, but I had a had a ball and thought you would too! It's funny, fast moving and has some shining stars!
Looking for something to do between now and December 21st?

Go See

By Larry Coen & David Crane
Directed by Davis Robinson

Neil A. Casey, Christopher Robin Cook, Maureen Keiller, Nathaniel McIntyre, Laura Napoli, Terrance O'Malley and Richard Snee

Call 617-437-7172 for tickets or go to www.lyricstage.com

From: "Carl Rossi" carossi54@hotmail.com
Subject: An SOS for another show!
Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002 15:14:56 +0000
7 December 2002

Seasons Greetings (with more to come):

Last night I attended a performance of The Our Place Theatre Project's production of BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY, and there were only eight of us in the audience! It's a good play, a good production - so where are the crowds? I fear this may go the route of the excellent BEE-LUTHER-HATCHEE so here I am, banging the drum again. BLUES is an engrossing drama, but it needs the current provided by a full house to really take off.

If you cannot attend, please pass the word on to others (why not give tickets to the show as Christmas gifts?):

The Our Place Theatre Project, Inc.

by Pearl Cleage
Directed by Jeffrey Robinson


Jacqui Parker
Michael Green
Ricardo Engermann
Dorian Christian-Baucum
Stepanie Marson-Lee

December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 @ 7:30 p.m.
December 6, 13, 14, 20, 21 @ 8:00 p.m.
December 7, 14, 21 @ 4:00 p.m.
December 10 pay-what-you-can night @ 7:30 p.m.

$24.00/general public
10% discount for seniors/students
Group rates available for groups of 10 or more

Boston Center for the Arts
549 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 426-2787

Box Office Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 12:00 non - 5:00 p.m. (thru curtain)

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake -”MORNING STAR"
Date:Saturday, November 23, 2002 4:27 PM
Quicktake on "Morning Star" by Sylvia Regan

The Theatre Cooperative's current offering, "Morning Star", a 1940 potboiler which brought Yiddish cabaret star Molly Picon to the Broadway stage, is an engaging piece of period drama. The fact that the play has never really been off the boards - somewhere - for the last sixty years; that Steppenwolf put it in their season in 1999; or that the Folksbiene in NYC had a hit in 2000 when it was performed translationed into Yiddish, should encourage anyone with an interest in the scope of the American theatre to check out their performance.

Under Suzanne Bixby's uncomplicated direction, a solid cast of local actors, headed by Maureen Adduci and Fred Robbins , lets this story of "An American Family" (that was its recent Yiddish title) unfold, using all the familiar tropes of domestic drama and comedy. They manage a believable collection of accents without slipping into parody. The message isn't profound, but it rings true. No one should be surprised that the same questions about impending war, economic justice, and personal sacrifice are still relevant today, and not just on the Lower East Side. TC's Artistic Director Leslie Chapman has found another good one.
"Morning Star" by Sylvia Regan, Nov.15 through Dec. 14, 2002
Theatre Cooperative at Peabody House
277 Broadway, Somerville MA (617) 625-1300

From: Dustin Weild dustinweild@yahoo.com
Subject: here's my first review!
The Bad Seed, Nov. 8th - 23rd, THE CONCORD PLAYERS.
51 Walden Street, Concord, MA. Call (978) 369-2990 for tickets.

Maybe I went in with my expectations set too high. I had, after all, seen the Concord Players do "Little Women" last year. It was so well done that, upon moving to Boston (since then), I immediately set out to see the Concord Players do more theater! But The Bad Seed is missing something, something crucial.

I had seen and enjoyed the 1950s thriller movie about a little girl predisposed to remorseless acts of murder. It was spine-tingling precisely because the girl WAS little - AND young. This is where director Rik Pierce missed the mark. Susanna Ronalds-Hannon, clearly a teenager, as Rhoda is an o.k. actress, but her age is a distraction to the plot. Because of her age, the whole story line failed. It wasn't all that unbelievable the she kills people. The idea in the Bad Seed is that Rhoda is already killing (in this case a classmate, and an old woman) at the tender age of 7 or 8, 9 at the most. A teenager who kills? So what! Apparently, they were mindful of the fact because it seemed as though they were trying to make her appear younger, judging by the rediculous costumes they put her in.

So disstracted was I, by this major casting faux pas, I almost missed the fact that there were many fine individual performances. Thomas Caron as Leroy, the bumbling janitor who's on to Rhoda was so stunning, I could sense the other actors' performance rise whenever he was on stage. Peter Yensen as Emory was an absolute delight and provided many a good laugh. Kerrie Miller as Christine Penmark captured the agony of the killer's mother so well, the audience most literally could feel the pain. Brenda Walsh, in a difficult role as Mrs. Daigle (the mother of the dead classmate) was the most compelling portrayal of a drunk I've seen!

If you're a fan of the Concord Players, go see the show. There are many (more than I mentioned here) oustanding performances. But if you're a fan of thrillers, skip this show, it ain't thrilling. (Dustin Weild can be reached at dustinweild@yahoo.com )

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake on "Romeo and Juliet" - ShakespeareNow! Theatre Company
Date: Monday, November 11, 2002 1:45 PM
Bardolators with a need to see a more complete “Romeo and Juliet” than this company presented last year may want to take in their current production in Ellsworth Hall at Pine Manor College in Brookline (Chestnut Hill off Route 9). Plan to sit front and center as close as possible, and pay attention. There’s a lot of reverb in this large auditorium. The cast is energetic and most of the performances have moving moments. The show is in modern dress suggesting the conflicts in the Middle East, a concept which needs further development. But the age old-tale of “star-crossed lovers” is still effective.
“Romeo and Juliet” - Wm. Shakespeare Nov. 7 thru 24
ShakespeareNow! Theatre Company at Ellsworth Hall
Pine Manor College, 400 Heath St., Chestnut Hill, MA 781-326-3643

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake on "The Lepers of Baile Baiste"
Date: Sun, 03 Nov 2002 17:30:04 -0500
Put Ronan Noone's prizewinning play on the must see list. The esnemble under Carmel O'Reilly's direction is very taut. Be warned, though this is set in a bar and there are a few laughs, the subject is the effect of abuse by a Christian Brother on six of his pupils.
You know it's going to be a rough night when the comic relief is Billy Meleady playing the resident drunk and he threatens people with a longshoreman's hook from under in his raincoat. Everyone is on their mark, particularly Josef Hansen as "Clown" Quinn in final scenes. Regulars Colin Hamell, Ciaran Crawford, and Derry Woodhouse are excellent as usual. Chris Burke, who just finished shooting for "Mystic River" is back with Sugan after a few seasons away. And Ed Peed gets to use his excellent Irish accent for the first time for Sugan as the Sergeant. John Morgan, who hails from Galway, plays the parish priest who's been covering up the situation for years. It's all very real and honest, and like some of the characters in the play, may be too painful for some to consider. But the show does what really good theatre should; makes the audience examine the question at hand. Honesty may be the best policy, but it can be devastating. Be warned, but be there.

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake for "A Life in the Theatre"
Date: Sat, 09 Nov 2002 17:46:17 -0500
Quicktake on “A Life in the Theatre”
How do you get three actors in a two person play? Director Lilia Levitina accomplishes this in her current production of Mamet’s 1977 “A Life in the Theatre” which runs one more weekend (five shows) in the Leland at the BCA.
She makes the Stage Manager, played by diminutive Chiara Durazinni, an integral part of the show. But how do you create a backstage and an onstage (for plays by Chekov or O’Neill) in the confines of the Leland? Perform most of the onstage scenes with doll-like puppets manipulated by the actors. It helps that Robert, the older actor. is Will Cabell, an experienced puppeteer, with both his own Starbird Theatre and the Underground Railway. as well as a long-time member of the Barnstormers Summer Theatre in Tamworth New Hampshire. Zachary Falconer, part of “Our Place Theater” does quite well himself as John, the younger actor whose rise parallels John’s slide from seasoned trouper to old toper. The design team of Russsian artists;
Maria Koreneva, Leonid Osseney & Irina Romm plus a score by Emily Romm add a new dimension to this early Mamet work. It’s worth a visit.
"A Life in the Theatre" directed by Lilia Levitina
Basement on the Hill Theatre at the Leland Center, BCA
539 Tremont, Boston ; (617) 426-2787

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re:Quicktake on "Marty" Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 15:57:54 -0500
So if what you wanna do is see "Marty" at the Huntington, there may be a few tickets left, but not many. John C. Reilly is a worthy successor to Rod Steiger and Ernest Borgnine, and sing a whole lot better than either of them. Anna Torsiglieri as his shy girl Clara sings nice, but just isn't as convincing as reject in the romance department. The company is generally excellent, the music is pleasant, the lyrics not very inspired but servicable. As promoted, this is more of a chamber musical; half the cast only sings in a few chorus numbers. Should become a small theater staple even if it doesn't make it on home turf in the Big Apple.
Book by Rupert Holmes based on Paddy Chayefsky,
Music and Lyrics by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams
Huntington Theatre Co., 264 Huntington Ave. through Nov. 24. Call (617) 266-0800 (Good luck!)

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake on "Our Town"
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 22:08:52 -0500
It's good to return to "Our Town" every decade or so, especially if you're from New England. Boston Theatre Works' Artistic Director Jason Southerland has put together a personable cast and a clean modern production of Thorton Wilder's jewel of the American Theatre. Bobbie Steinbach brings a knowing grin to the all-important Stage Manager, not the usual Yankee philosoph, but a more worldly and feminine viewpoint. The cast includes Scott Adams and Lindsay Joy as the young lovers, Sharon Mason, John Furse, Elizabeth Wightman or Shelley Brown, and James Bodge as their parents, with a sound ensemble of townspeople, young and old. The modernistic set by Robert Pyzocha allows for shadow scenes which bringing the intentional artificiality of the show into this millenium. Costumes by Molly Trainer suggest the various decades between the turn of the century and now. But Wilder's tale of love and marriage, birth and death remains the same, fortunately.

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake-"Smelling a Rat"
Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 22:59:04 -0400
Quicktake on “Smelling a Rat”

Take five smart comic actors, an off-beat farce by Mike Leigh, best known for his films, Daniel Gidron’s tight direction, and the Nora Theatre Company’s usual attention to production detail, and it’s a potential hit.
Put it all in a very pink bedroom set by Eric Levenson on the platform stage of Studio A at Boston Playwrights’, add some catchy sound by Dewey Dellay, ideal costumes by Gail Astrid Buckley, then lean back and laugh. The comedy begins with Paul Kerry and Stephanie Dorian as Victor and Charmaine Maggot, working class and proud of it. Randall A. Forsythe is magistereal as Rex Weasel, owner of the extermination service. Charles Linshaw is impressively uncommunicative as Rock Weasel, Rex’s rocker son, and Mara Sidmore is priceless as Melanie-Jane Beetles, Rockie’s high-strung girlfriend. This 1988 script may have been intended as a comment on Thatcherite England, but its comedy would work in any urban setting where kids and parents collide, where workers gossip about their bosses, and life just doesn’t go as planned. See for yourself--soon; it’s a short run.
“Smelling a Rat” by Mike Leigh, Fri. Oct 25 - Sun. Nov. 10
The Nora Theatre Compnay at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Comm. Ave, (617) 491-2026/ Ticketmaster (617) 931-2000

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake on "The Gig"
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 19:03:08 -0400
"The Gig", which just opened at The Lyric Stage, probably won't attract the attention that Speakeasy's "Bat Boy" did, but it's a far better example of contemporary musical theatre. Definitely worth a visit. Chip Philips does a fine job as the leader of an amateur jazz band which accepts a Catskills "gig from hell," and learns a lot about each other from it. Peter Carey, Brian De Lorenzo, Benjamin DiScipio, and Peter Edmund Hadyu, all in fine voice and well-realized characterizations form the core of the band with Philips. Paul Farwell plays the bass player who can't go; he's replaced by big voiced Brian Robinson, as Marshall. a professional who's played with Basey and Goodman. Farwell returns as Vince, Ricki Valetine's manager. Kathy St. George has some of the funniest numbers in the show as that aging star just out of rehab. St. George is more appealling as Donna, the waitress who' been round. Elizabeth Asti is charming as Lucy, a younger waitperson opposite DiScipio's Arthur, a painfully shy dentist, the band' drummer. And then there's always entertaining John Davin as Abe the resort's owner, resident tummler, who also personally cleans the pool. It's a nice little show, full of pleasant tunes, and some interesting lyrics. It will pay to listen closely. So go already.
"The Gig" by Douglas J. Cohen (based on Frank D. Gilroy's film) The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon St.
Oct.18 - Nov. 16 (617) 437-7172

From: "will stackman" profwill66@hotmail.com
Subject: Quicktake -Stoneham's "The Woman in Black" Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 17:33:18 -0400

Chiller Theatre
Robert Pemberton and Neil A. Casey do a bang-up job under Craig Foley's direction of this interesting if somewhat obtuse British thriller which just opened at the Stoneham Theatre. Janie E. Howland's set is suitable flexible, Mark O'Maley's lights and J Hagenbuckle's sound add immeasurably to an spooky evening. Make up a carpool and go on out; it's easy to find on Main St. just off the Interstate; at the most 1/2 hour from Boston, less from Cambridge or Somerville. Lots of free parking, and a number of good places to eat, not to mention a great old Ice Cream place just down 28 from the theatre. Check this one out, then head up to Lowell and see what Merrimack does with the same script.
"The Woman in Black" - adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from a novel by Susan Hill
Oct 18 - Nov 3
Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St. (781) 279-2200

From: JTACTOR@aol.com
Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002 15:44:40 EDT
Subject: Batboy

Larry, Here is a QuickTake on BATBOY THE MUSICAL.
Go. Go Now. Don't just sit there, get to the BCA now! Get tickets now, it will sell out!

Paul Daigneault and the production team at Speakeasy have cornered the market on local premieres, especially of smaller cast musicals from NYC. They outdo themselves in this production.

Batboy relates the tale (found at any supermarket checkout line), of a half man/half bat found in a cave down south. It shows his struggle to become human, and to be accepted by the redneck locals. Taken in by the wife of the local Veterinarian, taught how to act, behave and speak (from BBC language tapes no less), our Batboy goes on to try and conquer the towns prejudice against him. But what about all those cows that have mysteriously died......

What makes the musical great is that Daigneault and the cast "get it". This is a campy, melodramatic, schlock-horror piece that's humor comes from all involved playing it with earnestness and honesty. Kerry Dowling as the wife of the Vet delivers a performance that could easily go wrong in the hands of a lesser actress, but Kerry gets it just right. Miguel Cervantes is wonderful as the Batboy, winning and keeping the audience throughout the show. Michael Mendiola plays the Veterinarian with something to hide, lending his considerable acting talent and great voice to the role. Sara Chase serves up the doctors daughter with wonderful stage presence.

The rest of the ensemble play multiple roles, and it is worth the price of admission just to see the instant character changes that go on in this show. Each and every one of them is solid, and makes this ensemble one of the best you will see in Boston this season.

The show runs at the BCA through 10/26. ,
J.T. Turner

Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002 15:12:11 -0400
Subject: Quick-Take on bee-luther-hatchee
From: Geralyn Horton g.l.horton@mindspring.com

I finally made it to BEE LUTHER HATCHEE, and I'm joining the rest of the "gang" in urging people to get to the BCA tonight to see Zeitgeist's production-- it is a production well worth seeing, with good acting and deft direction. The "issues" raised by author are important ones in need of the discussion the play is sure to prompt. What we-- and this is a personal, citizen's "we", not a theatre critic's or the royal one-- need very badly is a safe, non-judgmental place to have that discussion: the important discussion about bearing witness and identity and empathy and community, not the secondary one author Thomas Gibbons raises about whether it is OK for a writer to use a misleading pseudonym or to pass off a fact-based work of the imagination as nonfiction. "We" owe a debt of gratitude to David Miller of Zeitgeist Theatre for working to create such a safe place, welcoming to all. I just wished after the show that there had been a large and diverse audience, preferably one that felt comfortable responding to the stage action in the way that the matinee audience in NYC at "Having Our Say" or the New Globe audience in London at "Henry V" or "Merchant of Venice" responded, weighing the testimony, confirming the immediacy of the conflicts depicted. Or, at a post-play discussion, I would have loved to hear the cast, who invest so much credible emotion in their roles, talk about how living through this confrontation night after night has affected them.

However, I can see why see why people - black, white, or "other" - might be unsure of being welcome, and hesitate to attend the play. It deals with 2 likable people who long for recognition, but their situation is such that they can only get what they want by betraying what they are. Their confrontation exposes injuries that go back generations and yet are still so raw and painful that most people would prefer to let them fester rather than be in the room when the pain and anger are let loose.
Geralyn Horton
playwright, actor, critic
Newton, MA