Review: A Peek into Eugene O’Neill’s Dysfunctional Family

Review: A Peek into Eugene O’Neill’s Dysfunctional Family

When I noticed a well-dressed man and a little furry dog walk into the lobby of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, I immediately recognized Jeremy Irons. His purposeful stride had a distinguished air compared to the nearby theatre attendees near the bar or waiting for the theatre doors to open. While asking a staff member if Jeremy Irons just walked in, she replied “Yes, he and Smudge just arrived.” He had about 35 minutes to dress and prepare for his role of James Tyrone in the Eugene O’Neill award-winning play A Long Day's Journey into Night.

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Review: “A Chorus Line” at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Review: “A Chorus Line” at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

“A Chorus Line” opened at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston last weekend, providing a fantastic start to the theater’s 50th Anniversary Summer Season. With book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, Music by Marvin Hamlisch, and Lyrics by Edward Kleban, this musical tells the story of a group of seventeen inspiring performers auditioning for a place in a Broadway show’s chorus line. The roughly two-hour piece is conducted like a legitimate audition during which the audience gets to witness these individuals share their fears and motivations with the directing team and one another, all while dancing their hearts out for a chance at one of eight coveted roles.

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Off-Broadway Review: Founder’s Project’s “First Love”

Off-Broadway Review: Founder’s Project’s “First Love”

With a nod to magical realism, Edward Albee’s “Zoo Story,” and a splash of the surreal – specifically the world of René François Ghislain Magrritte – Charles Mee provides a mostly realistic narrative about the experiences of an older couple who fall in love for the first time. Currently running at Cherry Lane Theatre, Mr. Mee’s “First Love” is a kaleidoscopic montage of the emotional fallout when Harold (Michael O’Keefe) meets Edith (Angelina Fiordellisi) on a park bench. This is not the most pleasant of meetings. Harold, having given up on love or any approximation to love, is asleep on that bench. Edith arrives and immediately instructs Harold to “shove up” so she and her radio can occupy the same bench.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Secret Life of Humans”

Off-Broadway Review: “Secret Life of Humans”

It is difficult to parse David Byrne’s “Secret Life of Humans,” currently running at 59E59 Theaters, without issuing spoiler alerts. As the eighty-five-minute play unfolds, three “stories” – one lasting a single night, one across a lifetime, and one that spans humanity’s sixty-million-year history, collide in a cathartic resolution that jangles the senses. Inspired by Yuval Harari's “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” David Burns tackles the essential questions about science, philosophy, and what it means to be human. Produced previously at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Mr. Burns’ play arrives at 59E59 at part of its annual Brits Off Broadway series.

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Review: The Life of the "Skeleton Crew"

Review: The Life of the "Skeleton Crew"

Walking into the Geffen Playhouse to take my seat, I was wowed by scenic designer Rachel Myers dramatic and detailed two-story set. Downstairs is a break room with metal lockers, bulletin boards, tables and chairs, and a small kitchenette. One immediately can tell this is set in Detroit with stickers of the city’s hockey team the Red Wings and football team the Lions on the wall.

Upstairs is an assembly line with automotive wheel rims hanging down. When one of the workers power up the drill to work on the moving silver rims, smoke rises and dissipates near the UAW (United Automobile Workers of America) Local 167 sign hanging over in the corner.

A chain link fence with barbed wire is partially peeking out along both the front stage wings.

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Review: Miss Julie sets the bar high for the Summer Season at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Review: Miss Julie sets the bar high for the Summer Season at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Directed by Matt Cahoon, this US Premiere production of Howard Brenton’s new adaptation of August Strindberg’s 1888 play Miss Julie invites the audience into the kitchen of a home in Sweden. It tells the story of Julie, lady of the house, Jean, her father’s valet, and Kristin, the house cook and Jean’s fiancé. It is a story of lust, ambition and a desire to break through the barriers of class. When Julie and Jean give in to the building sexual tension between them, the unforeseen consequences are catastrophic.

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Review: "Talking Heads" at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

Review: "Talking Heads" at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues were first broadcast on television in 1988, and, like all of Bennett’s pieces of work have been over the years, were praised for their wit and sensitive poeticism that perfectly bottled the essence of the human spirit. Talking Heads has since gone on to enjoy a life of many revivals on the stage, harking back to the early format that Bennett’s formative works took: a single storyteller offering us a glimpse into their life. For its final production in the Courtyard Theatre before undergoing major refurbishment, the West Yorkshire Playhouse has revived the monologues, presenting them as two separate shows on the same days.

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Review of "A Lesson From Aloes" at Z Space

Review of "A Lesson From Aloes" at Z Space

A country should always learn from their past, but what if there is something to learn from the history of a country and ocean away? Z Space presents their production of A Lesson From Aloes by Athol Fugard, which examines an era of racial tension and oppressive government in South Africa that is unfortunately familiar to issues we are facing today.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Desperate Measures” at New World Stages

Off-Broadway Review: “Desperate Measures” at New World Stages

After its previous three-time extended sold out run at the York Theatre Company, “Desperate Measures” is back Off-Broadway and the antics of rabble-rousing Johnny Blood are as bodacious and bawdy as ever. Although billed as being “loosely based” on the classic Shakespearian comedy, “Desperate Measures,” currently playing at New World Stages, has the “guts” of “Measure for Measure” with the charm and appeal of a traditional Broadway musical. Peter Kellogg and David Friedman are to be commended for achieving this feat and bringing this clever retelling back to the stage.

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Review: “A Blanket of Dust” at the Flea Theatre

Review: “A Blanket of Dust” at the Flea Theatre

Nearly anyone who was alive and conscious on September 11th, 2001 will tell you they remember where they were on that day. While I was only eight years old at the time, even I still remember seeing it on TV – and the reactions of everyone surrounding me – when it happened. My memory is even clearer of the aftermath in the succeeding years: the blind patriotism and trust in government among the vast majority of Americans, the pro-war propaganda of the Bush administration, and on the other side, persisting conspiracy theories surrounding who was really responsible for the collapse of the World Trade Center. All of these are the themes that A Blanket of Dust – the new play by Richard Squires – explores in a very personal and thought-provoking manner.

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Off Broadway Review: "Desperate Measures" at New World Stages

Off Broadway Review: "Desperate Measures" at New World Stages

The Wild West meets the British Bard with New World Stages’ Desperate Measures. With a musical score by David Friedman and book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg, it premiered at York Theater in 2017 with three extensions, and it’s easy to see why: It’s a madcap musical with heart, and there’s lots to love about it. 

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Off-Broadway Review: Elevator Repair Service’s “Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf”

Off-Broadway Review: Elevator Repair Service’s “Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf”

In Act III of Edward Albee’s classic play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (The Exorcism), George and Martha are alone following Nick and Honey’s departure. The deception that has haunted their marriage has been “exorcised” and the couple wonders what their future holds: Will things get better? Can they survive without the deception? Will they be all right? Albee’s dense text is to be parsed on several deep levels and through a variety of critical lenses, including the historical and psychological. Albee is deeply concerned about the future of America and his rich tropes and deep questions surround that primary theme. One would have to stay on the surface of the text to find misogyny and patriarchy as significant themes or relevant traits of the playwright or his male characters.

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Review: “Calendar Girls” at Greater Boston Stage Company

Review: “Calendar Girls” at Greater Boston Stage Company

“Calendar Girls,” by Juliette Towhidi and Tim Firth, marks Greater Boston Stage Company’s last show of their eighteenth season, and is quite the uplifting note to go out on. Based on a true story, this show has been adapted to the stage from the Miramax motion picture of the same name, and tells the story of a group of ladies in a Women’s Institute organization in Yorkshire, England who decide to raise money for leukemia research through the selling of a nude calendar. The catch? The calendar features these women themselves, who are by no means the young model-types that one may come to expect in such calendars, as the art. Soon the project, which starts in memoriam to one of the women, Annie’s, late husband, turns into an opportunity for her best friend Chris, a failing florist, to finally find her place in the spotlight. Yet as the powerful impact this small act of charity has made becomes clear to these women, they are suddenly forced to evaluate their own actions and their place in one another’s lives, leaving them as exposed emotionally as they are on each calendar page.

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Review: “The Lady in Black” at Don’t Tell Mama

Review: “The Lady in Black” at Don’t Tell Mama

As I recall, up until the past year or so, I had never been asked or invited to review a musical cabaret act for OnStage Blog. That was until I had been asked personally to attend a blues singer’s cabaret show, playing at the West End Lounge for one night only. Perhaps little known to my readers, I have a great appreciation for old-fashioned blues and soul music, and cabaret shows are, in and of themselves, a type of theatrical performance. So when I was asked to once again review a brand new cabaret show by Mary Elizabeth Micari (aka “Reverend Mary”) this past weekend at the prestigious Don’t Tell Mama, it was difficult for me to turn it down.

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Review: The Nora Theatre Company presents Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Review: The Nora Theatre Company presents Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Now playing at Central Square Theater (Cambridge, MA) is Les Liaisons Dangereuses presented by The Nora Theatre Company. The novel, of the same name, was written in 1782 by Pierre-Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos. Two hundred years later Christopher Hampton penned the play that would go on to premiere at The Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985. While the story is familiar and has been produced a myriad of ways, in this version all ten characters, including six women, are portrayed by an all-male cast. Director Lee Mikeska Gardner first did this play with an all-male cast when she directed a production in Washington, D.C. in 2005 and wanted to direct a similar production here in Boston over a decade later. This concept is a new, intriguing way to tell an old story and I’m sure while some are confused by it, others are curious to see how it would play out on stage. 

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Review: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ at the 5th Ave Theatre

Review: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ at the 5th Ave Theatre

My love of deaf talent and traveling took me to Seattle Washington. The 5th Avenue Theatre is producing ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. Recently creative teams have decided to use an actor who is Deaf for the character of ‘Quasimodo’ since he is described as deaf in the original Victor Hugo classic novel. This reaction is what I am hoping for in casting rooms all over the country, and this production is a perfect example of how great it can work. 

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Review: "From Grief to High Delight You In Midair" at the Lounge Theatre

Review: "From Grief to High Delight You In Midair" at the Lounge Theatre

Sitting in the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, an older gentleman and two young girls sitting in the front row, step onstage to make an announcement. The man is Benson Schaeffer, the father of Rebecca Shaeffer and the girls are her cousins. Benson informs us he is the husband of the performer, and father of Rebecca. The girls (one looks like a young Rebecca) request audience members to silence their cell phones. As they go back to their seats next to other family members, the protagonist Danna Schaeffer takes the stage. This is her play, that she wrote, to share the story and honor her daughter. She begins telling the audience how giddy with excitement she and Benson were about the accomplishments of their only child. Rebecca had achieved so much at such a young age. Her world was her oyster until July 18, 1989. 

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Review: "Fun Home" at 4th Wall Theater

Review: "Fun Home" at 4th Wall Theater

Fun Home won the Tony Award for Best Musical back in 2015. This story of a female coming to terms with her sexuality amidst her father’s relationships with men and underage boys is now being produced by community theatres nationwide. I was curious to see if 4th Wall Theatre would give the show the justice it deserved. With Kate Swan’s direction and the cast, it did more than that. 

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Off-Broadway Review: Abingdon Theatre Company’s Production of “Fruit Trilogy”

Off-Broadway Review: Abingdon Theatre Company’s Production of “Fruit Trilogy”

Eve Ensler’s commitment to ending violence against cisgender, transgender, and gender non-conforming women and girls globally (V-Day: A Global Movement to End Violence Against Women) has been unwavering since “The Vagina Monologues” premiered at HERE in 1996. Ms. Ensler attempts to continue that commitment in “Fruit Trilogy,” Abingdon Theatre Company’s final mainstage production of its twenty-fifth anniversary season. Currently in its “New York premiere” at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, “Fruit Trilogy” was produced outside of New York City as early as 2016 in Leeds, England.

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