Review: "A Lesson from Aloes" at Hartford Stage

Review: "A Lesson from Aloes" at Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage’s final offering for its 2017/18 season, A Lesson from Aloes by Athol Fugard, has a setting that is at once dated and timely: during Apartheid in South Africa. For those unfamiliar with Apartheid, it was a legal system instituted after World War II to suppress nonwhite citizens of South Africa; think of it as a combination of the Jim Crow laws against the Blacks in America’s southern states and the Nuremburg laws against the Jews in Germany. It was an oppressive, extreme form of racism and social injustice, finally lifted in 1994, after negotiations following the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.

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Review: "Kiss" at Yale Rep

Review: "Kiss" at Yale Rep

When I was asked to review “Kiss,” Guillermo Calderón’s Rubik’s cube of a political play now appearing at the Yale Repertory Theatre, I assumed that the most difficult part would be having to type out the piece one-handed due to a pesky finger injury. As it turns out, my bum knuckle is the least of my problems. “Kiss” is a fascinating play. It’s an ambitious and inventive work with a lot on its mind. It’s the kind of play I’d love to discuss and analyze at length, but “Kiss” contains a myriad of twists and turns I have been asked to not talk about. It’s probably for the better. The surprises in store at the Yale Rep are among the key pleasures of seeing “Kiss.” So, forgive me if I seem like I’m skirting the matters at hand. I am.

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Review: "The Will Rogers Follies" at Goodspeed Musicals

Review: "The Will Rogers Follies" at Goodspeed Musicals

Goodspeed Musicals’ sparkly The Will Rogers Follies pays heavy homage to the titular cultural icon, plastering its stage with black-and-white photos and bombarding the audience with sequins and glitter. For all its self-awareness, however, this production feels like a recreation of early 20th century entertainment rather than a 21st-century spin, resulting in a revue that feels dated and wildly out of touch.

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Review: "Crowns" at Long Wharf Theatre

Review: "Crowns" at Long Wharf Theatre

There is something about gospel music that I find irresistible: It’s uplifting and redeeming; it moves you to tap your foot or clap your hands.  Mix that with blues and hip hop and you have the multi-generational musical story, Crowns.  Inspired by the book, Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, Regina Taylor creates and directs a musical jubilee that brings to life the portraits of six African-American women through triumphant song, movement, story, and, of course, hats. First performed in 2002, the Long Wharf production is a revision of the original, updated in conjunction with Emily Mann’s McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton where Crowns was first produced.

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Review: The Lipstick Project's "Cabaret" at the Darien Arts Center

Review: The Lipstick Project's "Cabaret" at the Darien Arts Center

History was made on April 27th, 2018 in Darien, CT as twenty-two woman took the stage for the first-ever performance of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret, with an all-female cast. Under the direction of Carin Zakes and choreography by Caitlin Roberts, this was a strong production with every bit the risque and reflection you'd want out of this material. 

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Review: "The Age of Innocence" at Hartford Stage

Review: "The Age of Innocence" at Hartford Stage

When I heard that Hartford Stage was putting an Edith Wharton novel on stage, I jumped for joy. Wharton was one of my favorite novelists in my late teens and early twenties. Having started with Ethan Frome in high school, I quickly devoured her other novels and short stories. I found her descriptions of beautiful, rich interiors and high society manners engrossing, mostly due to my interest in historical fiction at the time. I also adored the tragedy that befell on her characters, and the sacrifices made by them (usually for love – because I was a typical swooning young woman at the time). For me, film adaptations vary from excellent (House of Mirth with Gillian Anderson) to mediocre (Age of Innocence with Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder), but lucky for us, Douglas McGrath’s smart, concise adaptation of Age of Innocence definitely leans toward the former: It is a worthy reworking of Wharton’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel with standout performances and stunning staging.

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Review: "The Legend of Georgia McBride" at TheaterWorks

Review: "The Legend of Georgia McBride" at TheaterWorks

Grab your false eyelashes, size 12 pumps, and Judy Garland quips, and go see Theaterworks’ latest offering, The Legend of Georgia McBride. Written by Matthew Lopez (The Whipping Man, Reverberation), it relays the journey of a young man finding his place in the world in the last place he probably ever thought of: in a drag show. I will tell you how much I liked this show: After curtain call, a woman behind me in the audience commented that I appeared to be enjoying myself; apparently, I couldn’t hide my enthusiasm. It’s hysterical and heartfelt, provided you have no problem with men dressing up as women and lip-syncing. Obviously, I don’t.

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Review: "Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3" at Yale Repertory Theatre

Review: "Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3" at Yale Repertory Theatre

Suzan-Lori Parks’ first triptych in her 12-part epic journey, Father Comes Home from the Wars, a co-production with the American Conservatory Theater, explores the journey of a slave during the Civil War. It’s part ode to Greek theater, and part racial commentary that leaves you wondering if we’ll ever cure ourselves of the scourge of racial injustice, given our sordid history with slavery.

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Review: "Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" at Long Wharf Theatre

Review: "Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" at Long Wharf Theatre

Playwright Ken Ludwig is making the rounds here in Connecticut with another piece that originated at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton in 2015. This time, it’s an adaptation of another mystery writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his illustrious pipe-smoking sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, with a reworking of one of Doyle’s most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, The Hound of Baskerville.

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Review: "White Guy on the Bus" at Square One Theatre Company

Review: "White Guy on the Bus" at Square One Theatre Company

Square One deserves credit for mounting this complex play with such deft, and its effort to spark a conversation about race and privilege is clear and very well-intentioned. It’s a shame that, once again, the company’s season is awkwardly upended by real-world timing, but I do hope that they will continue diving into difficult themes and dialogues – perhaps in the future with stories by and about women and people of color, rather than the white men who inflict violence upon them.

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Review: “Sunset Baby” at Collective Consciousness Theatre

Review: “Sunset Baby” at Collective Consciousness Theatre

I dare suggest that theater can be an even more powerful tool for empathy. The magic ingredient at CCT lies in this distinction. To get to your seats, you must physically walk through Nina’s front door and into her apartment. Even the back row is only feet away from the un-mic’d performers and those in the front can feel the wood floor creak when an actor walks across the stage. There is an unabashed voyeurism in their shows, a sense of watching an intimate conversation you shouldn’t be privy too. But that’s exactly what makes CCT and “Sunset Baby” so powerful.

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Review: "Murder on the Orient Express" at Hartford Stage

Review: "Murder on the Orient Express" at Hartford Stage

What makes it special?

New Jersey’s McCarter Theatre Center has brought to Hartford Stage Ken Ludwig’s highly-anticipated stage adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s most famous novels, Murder on the Orient Express. Already, ticket sales have been extended an additional two weeks, and I’m here to say that it is indeed worth the hype.

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Review: "Sister Act: The Musical" at the Opera House Players

Review: "Sister Act: The Musical" at the Opera House Players

The Opera House Players clearly dove into this production process with earnest joy and the best of intentions. It’s a shame that the musical takes such giant step backwards from the original film. For anyone considering this production as a lighthearted weekend activity, I encourage you to of course support you community theaters – but please, bring with you a discerning eye and critical lens. Entertainment for entertainment’s sake is always a delight, but unless we hold writers accountable for their questionable work, lines like those mentioned above are going nowhere.

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Review: "Field Guide" at Yale Repertory Theatre

Review: "Field Guide" at Yale Repertory Theatre

Yale Repertory Theatre welcomes back Austin, Texas’ cutting-edge performance group, Rude Mechs, to perform their latest work. They have performed works at the Yale Rep before in their “No Boundaries” performance series. One of these pieces – The Method Gun – is about a production of A Streetcar Named Desire without any of its main characters. With Field Guide, the group takes on Dostoyevsky.

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Review: "Constellations" at TheaterWorks

Review: "Constellations" at TheaterWorks

TheaterWorks presents the unconventional work, Constellations, by British playwright Nick Payne. This play takes the “boy meets girl” story and turns it on its head: what happens if the boy and the girl meet over and over with circumstances ever so slightly different? It’s a play exploring choice and destiny; of finding and losing love; and it is powerful, compelling stuff.

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Review: "Office Hour" at Long Wharf Theatre

Review: "Office Hour" at Long Wharf Theatre

Long Wharf’s latest offering, Office Hour, is playwright Julia Cho’s third work to be produced at Long Wharf with a tough and timely subject: the eminent threat of a school mass shooting.  The 75-minute one act focuses on what happens (maybe) when a professor tries to reach out to a troubled student who may become the next Seung-Hui Cho.

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Review: "Feeding the Dragon" at Hartford Stage

Review: "Feeding the Dragon" at Hartford Stage

As a little girl, I was entranced by the book (and film), From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The story is about two suburban kids, Claudia and Jamie, who decide to run away and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I thought it was a brilliant plan: living amongst the relics and artistry of ancient civilizations. Imagine my joy in hearing about Sharon Washington’s Feeding the Dragon, a solo work about “the little girl who lived in the library.” I knew about the apartments at the New York Public Library (I have friends on the inside), so I was excited to hear a first-hand account of someone who lived in one of these spaces.

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