All posts by Bobby Franklin

WGBH Presents “Mala” Thursday Night at 10:00

WGBH PRESENTS

A SPECIAL BROADCAST OF

MALA

A ONE WOMAN PLAY BY MELINDA LOPEZ

Collaboration with

ArtsEmerson and Huntington Theatre Company

Airs on WGBH 2 on Thursday, April 9, at 10 p.m.

Melinda Lopez
Photo Credit: Paul Marotta

With live theatrical performances closed due to the coronavirus, public media outlet WGBH has collaborated with Huntington Theatre Company and ArtsEmerson to bring live theater to the living room. WGBH will present a special broadcast of Mala, a poignant drama written and performed by local playwright and performer Melinda Lopez. This award-winning play will air on WGBH 2 and YouTube TV on Thursday, April 9 at 10:00 p.m.

“Theater is a powerful medium to process challenging times. So with our Boston theaters dark, we are thrilled to be able to bring this important work to local audiences in partnership with ArtsEmerson and Huntington Theatre Company,” said Jon Abbott,  president and CEO of WGBH. “ Our shared commitment to the arts strengthens us as a community.”

Set during a winter of epic snowfall in 2015, Mala is inspired by notes Lopez frantically typed to herself on an iPhone while she cared for her increasingly frail and consistently fierce mother. These short missives ultimately create a moving and generous portrait of the way taking care of family tests, deepens, and changes our bonds to the ones we love. Lopez, a regular on Boston stages, also performs the play, directed by ArtsEmerson’s Artistic Director, David Dower. Although the performance was taped in 2018, it will be broadcast for the first time on April 9. WGBH viewers will be able to experience the humor, honesty, and ultimately cathartic experience of this award-winning play by a celebrated local artist.

“At the time this was filmed, we were so grateful to the Huntington and to WGBH for their interest in capturing this show during its return to Boston,” said Dower. “But we had no idea how urgent and moving it would become to have it available to air in the middle of this moment. It seems now like a bit of a miracle that it exists to be shown in this way. The WGBH team has brought such love and care to the making of this broadcast, and Melinda’s performance is indelible. We are so proud to have been a part of making this possible and relieved to be able to still connect with our city in this time of standing together by standing apart.”

After performing to sold-out houses during its 2016 world premiere engagement at ArtsEmerson, Mala won the 2017 Elliot Norton Award for Best New Script. Huntington Theatre Company presented a return engagement of the ArtsEmerson production at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA in January 2018, where WGBH recorded and produced the broadcast. Mala went on to play a successful run at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater.

“Each time I have seen Melinda Lopez’s stirring play Mala, I leave the theater with a sense of breathless joy and optimism, marveling at Melinda’s ability to draw everyone in as if they were family,” says Peter DuBois, Artistic Director of the Huntington Theatre Company. “Melinda’s message of resilience seems especially relevant now, when so many of us feel isolated as caregivers who are worried about a parent or mentor. Melinda’s play has warmth, laughter, and beauty — things I know we all need. I am looking forward to sharing it with new audiences through WGBH!”

Following the broadcast, ArtsEmerson will host a pre-recorded online conversation between playwright/performer Melinda Lopez and director David Dower at ArtsEmersonBlog.org.

Statement From ArtsEmerson Regarding Cancellation Of Performances

SUPPORTING THE CIVIC EFFORTS IN BOSTON TO FLATTEN THE CURVE ON SPREAD OF INFECTION

ARTSEMERSON IMMEDIATELY DISCONTINUES ALL PUBLIC PROGRAMMING

ArtsEmerson today announces that it will suspend scheduled public gatherings beginning today, March 13, with the hope of continuing more regular activity by the end of April 2020. This decision comes in an effort to support the civic efforts in our region to flatten the curve on the spread of the infectious coronavirus (COVID-19).

In all instances, ArtsEmerson is investigating whether programming may be rescheduled to a later date, and all ticket-holders will be notified directly with information and instructions as soon as possible. For anyone holding tickets to one of these performances, ArtsEmerson requests that you wait for an email with instructions rather than calling the box office. Staff members are working as quickly as possible in these challenging times.

Impacted events will not take place on these dates:

·       Plata Quemada – March 13-15

·       La Chana, part of Shared Stories: A POC Film Series – March 13-14

·       Film: Cyrano de Bergerac – March 14-15

·       Film: All My Sons – March 20-22

·       Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower – March 26-29

·       Film: Wise Children – March 27-29

For more information, please visit www.ArtsEmerson.org.

Statement From The SpeakEasy Stage Regarding Cancelation Of “The Children”

SPEAKEASY STAGE CANCELS ALL REMAINING PERFORMANCES OF 

“THE CHILDREN”

Giving the evolving circumstances around COVID-19, and out of concern for the health and safety of its patrons, staff, and artists, SpeakEasy Stage Company has decided to cancel all remaining performances of its production of THE CHILDREN effective immediately, Paul Daigneault, the company’s Founder and Producing Artist Director, announced today.

Boston Theatre Scene Ticketing Services, which handles all of SpeakEasy’s ticketing, will be reaching out to all patrons holding tickets to these cancelled performances to discuss their options, which include donating the cost of the tickets, exchanging for tickets to a future SpeakEasy production, or getting a refund.

All proceeds from any donated tickets will go to support SpeakEasy programs and artists, including those affected by the show’s cancellation.  

On behalf of its staff and artists, the company would like to thank all its supporters for their patience and understanding at this time.  

For information on any upcoming shows or events, the public is invited to check out the company’s website (www.SpeakEasyStage.com) and Facebook page, or call SpeakEasy’s Administrative Office’s at 617-482-3279.  

 

Statement From Trinity Rep Regarding Cancelation Of A Tale Of Two Cities

Trinity Rep In Providence Announces Cancellation of A Tale of Two Cities

Due to the state of emergency declared today in Providence by Mayor Jorge Elorza, all remaining performances of A Tale of Two Cities at Trinity Rep are cancelled. The Mayor has revoked all entertainment licenses until further notice.

The box office will be reaching out to all affected patrons. We ask patrons to await contact from the box office so that they can contact people for this weekend’s performances first. Tickets may be exchanged into a future performance of Sweat or Sweeney Todd, donated to Trinity Rep, or refunded to a gift card.

As a non-profit organization which employs many staff members and artists living paycheck to paycheck, we ask that you support Trinity Rep in any way you can at this time, including with your patience and generous spirit

Trinity Repertory Company | (401) 351-4242 | TrinityRep.com

 

Statement From Hartford Stage Regarding Closures Due To COVID-19

Hartford Stage Cancels All Remaining Performances Of Jane Eyre and Run Of The King’s Speech In Response To COVID-19

Based on recommendations from state and local government in response to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, Hartford Stage is canceling all remaining performances of Jane Eyre (March 12-14) and the run of The King’s Speech, scheduled for March 19 through April 19.

“The safety and health of our community, visiting artists, staff and volunteers always remains our first priority at Hartford Stage,” Managing Director Cynthia Rider said. “We know that communities are in need of our solidarity and support in these times and want to encourage neighbors and patrons to meet this crisis with compassion and care rather than fear and division.”

Rider added that the theatre will continue to closely monitor all updates and changing circumstances provided by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Should additional changes be made to upcoming performance schedules, visiting artists, ticket holders, staff, and volunteers will be notified as quickly as possible.

Tickets for Jane Eyre and The King’s Speech can be exchanged into performances of Ah, Wilderness! (May 7 – 31) or The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) (June 11 – 21). All exchange fees will be waived. Alternatively, tickets can be donated back to Hartford Stage, a 501(c)(3) organization, as a tax-deductible contribution at a time of increased financial challenges for the performing arts industry.

Patience is asked for in anticipation of high call volume as the Hartford Stage Box Office staff works to reach out directly to all ticket holders. For quick access to information on ticket exchanges, visit http://hartfordstage.formstack.com/forms/cancellation.

Statement From Huntington Theatre Regarding Closures Due To COVID-19

HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY
CANCELS ALL PUBLIC PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS
AT THE HUNTINGTON AVENUE THEATRE
AND CALDERWOOD PAVILION AT THE BCA

Huntington Theatre Company Managing Director Michael Maso announced today after much careful consideration that due to the evolving circumstances surrounding COVID-19, effective immediately, the Huntington Theatre Company will suspend all public performances and events at both the Huntington Avenue Theatre and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA until further notice.

The Huntington Theatre Company ticketing staff will be reaching out to ticket holders of Our Daughters, Like Pillars (scheduled for Mar 20 – April 19) to inform them of the cancellation of all public performances of the world premiere comedy by Kirsten Greenidge. The Huntington hopes to create a digital recording of this play to be made available to ticketed patrons. Huntington ticket holders will also have the option of donating their tickets, exchanging them for a future Huntington production, or refunds. All proceeds from donated tickets will go towards supporting artists and other contracted employees who will be affected by cancellations of Huntington programming.

In keeping with our commitment to customer service and our flexible exchange policies, we are happy to work with any patrons who feel uncomfortable attending their designated performance when our venues reopen. The Huntington would like to thank its patrons for their patience, understanding and support at this time. The artists and staff of the Huntington look forward to reuniting with audiences together in their venues when it is safe to do so.

For more information on the Huntington Theatre Company’s response to COVID-19 click HERE
For more information on ticketing donations, exchanges and refunds please call 617 266 0800.
For more information on the Huntington Theatre Company’s 2020-2021 season please click HERE

25th Anniversary of Riverdance Comes To The Wang Center

25th Anniversary of Riverdance Opens March 31 At The Wang Center

See RIVERDANCE as you’ve never seen or heard it before in the new 25th Anniversary production! For over 25 years, nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of RIVERDANCE. In a powerful and stirring re-invention of this beloved favorite, renowned composer Bill Whelan brings this mesmerizing, Grammy Award®-winning soundtrack back to life, completely revitalized for the first time since those original orchestral recordings. Producer Moya Doherty and Director John McColgan have produced an amazing new 25th Anniversary production with innovative and spectacular lighting, projection, staging and costume design, and an all-new finale number which will blow audiences away

www.bochcenter.org/buy/show-listing/riverdance-2020

Ogunquit Playhouse Announces 2020 Season Lineup

Tony-winners Jason Alexander and BD Wong to Premiere New Shows at
Ogunquit Playhouse as Part of its 2020 Season

Jason Alexander

The legendary Ogunquit Playhouse is thrilled to announce an exciting lineup of shows for its 88th season that includes the Northeast regional premiere of the hilarious dark comedy The War of the Roses, a new play based on the novel by Warren Adler and helmed by Tony Award-winner Jason Alexander, and the world premiere of the funny and heartwarming musical adaptation of Mr. Holland’s Opus, helmed by Tony Award-winner BD Wong. The season opens with the high-energy musical sensation Dirty DancingThe Classic Story on Stage based on the smash-hit film, then continues with a stunning revival of the Tony Award-winning, all-Gershwin, tap dancing extravaganza Crazy for You, and the exhilarating Broadway hit musical based on the lives of Grammy Award-winning husband-and-wife team Gloria and Emilio Estefan, On Your Feet!. The season will stretch to the holidays once again with the return of the hit show White Christmas in collaboration with The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

BD Wong

“We are honored and thrilled to be collaborating with an incredible team of industry leaders on a number of premieres as part of our 88th season in 2020,” stated Bradford Kenney, Ogunquit Playhouse Executive Artistic Director. “It’s been a great honor to be able to collaborate with Eleanor Bergstein to bring to the stage her iconic film Dirty Dancing. We have been working closely with Tony-winner BD Wong and Tony-nominee Wayne Barker over the last several years on the development of the new musical adaptation of Mr. Holland’s Opus, and we are thrilled to produce its world premiere for Playhouse audiences this year. We have also been working alongside Tony-winner Jason Alexander and the Broadway team on the development of the hilarious new play The War of the Roses, which makes one of its premieres on our stage in late summer. The cultivation of new works is now part of our mission as we produce world-class performances, tell the most compelling stories, and challenge and inspire our audiences in new ways. We are honored that these wonderful new shows will be seen alongside the entire season this year at Ogunquit Playhouse.” 

Five-show season ticket subscriptions are on sale now and the only way to guarantee the best seats for the best price to these exciting shows! Three and four-show subscriptions are on sale beginning Tuesday, February 18. Prices start at only $250 for a five-show subscription and $150 for a three-show subscription. Individual tickets are on sale exclusively for Ogunquit Playhouse Members starting March 11. Individual public ticket sales begin Wednesday, March 18 with prices starting at $53. Gift certificates are also on sale online and through the Box Office. To learn more about becoming a Member, season subscriber, or to purchase tickets and gift certificates, visit www.ogunquitplayhouse.org or call the Box Office at 207-646-5511. 

Review: “Swan Lake In Blue: A Jazz Ballet” At Greater Boston Stage Company

Swan Lake Swings

At The Greater Boston Stage Company

Swan Lake In Blue: A Jazz Ballet

Greater Boston Stage Company 

Stoneham, MA

Through March 1

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Sara Coombs and Andy McLeavey

In 1960 Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn recomposed selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker for jazz big band. After discovering this work, composer Steve Bass was inspired to recompose his own jazz ballet and chose Tchaikovsky’s other masterpiece Swan Lake. The result is Swan Lake: A Jazz Ballet now playing at the Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham.

The music is original with three themes taken from Swan Lake. The story has been moved to 1940’s New York where producer Florenz Siegfried (Andy McLeavey) is auditioning dancers for a musical. Odette (Sara Coombs), the swan here portrayed as a burlesque dancer, walks into the auditions and Siegfried is immediately taken with her. However, she quickly retreats to the Swan Club where she works for the possessive Von Rothbart, a shady gangster.

The adaptation works wonderfully. The score is solid and if you have ever caught yourself saying “Why don’t they write music like that anymore?”, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you will hear in this work. 

Andy McLeavey

The stage is set with a full big band/jazz orchestra directed by Steve Bass that transports the audience back to that golden musical age. The overture sets things in motion and the stage is then energized with non stop dancing. Ilyse Robbins has choreographed stunning and powerful numbers. With 21 pieces of choreography this had to be a daunting task, but Ms Robbins has scored a knockout. There isn’t a dull spot in the entire production.

Being a ballet there is no dialog, at least no spoken dialog, but the expressive dance speaks clearly and the story is told beautifully. Bringing Swan Lake into the 20th Century works and works very well. The stage full of talented dancers never leave the audience wondering what is happening. Sara Coombs and Andy McLeavey as the leads Odette and Siegfried are a joy to watch. Briana Fallon and Gillian Mariner Gordon as Little Swans join Ms Coombs for a burlesque number that uses swan feather fans to create a Sally Rand type piece that is sultry and sexy. 

David Visini is dark and menacing as Von Rothbart. He is downright scary and his presence further conveys the ability for words and mood to be expressed through dance. 

H.C. Lee, Jackson Jirard, Michael Skrzek, and Mike Herring

Jackson Jirard, Mike Herring, H.C. Lee, Erica Lundin, and Michael Skrzek make up the ensemble, giving a master class in tap. All are superb with Mr. Jirard adding an exclamation mark to the numbers they do together. If you can sit still during these performances you would have to be heavily sedated. 

There is also a teen ensemble that is made up of Lily Lawrence, Claire Lawrence, and Maya McClain. These young people are real pros and all have great futures in theatre. Maya McClain moved like a veteran professional in her numbers with Jackson Jirard. It’s nice to know there will be no dearth of talent in the years to come.

Costume Designer Kevin Hutchins does a beautiful job with the outfits the cast wears. The flavor of backstage musical theatre of the 1940s is captured in the clothing that is reminiscent of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. The soft hat worn by Von Rothbart is put to great use in expressing his gangster persona, while the dance numbers in the Swan Club capture the Age of Burlesque. Combined with the lighting designed by Chris Fournier, the atmospherics are sublime.

Maya McClain, Jackson Jirard, Erica Lundin and Cast

Steve Bass and Ilyse Robbins have created an original work that is being seen for the first time on the stage in Stoneham, but I believe this is something that will move on to other venues. This is no commodity musical. It is a marvelous piece that is destined to become part of musical theatre history. From top to bottom this is a first rate production, and you don’t want to miss it. Someday you’ll get to say you saw it when it premiered. You’ll also be saying “They really do write music and choreograph dancing the way they used to”.

What: Swan Lake In Blue: A Jazz Ballet

Where: The Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham, MA

When: Through March 1

Tickets: Phone: 781.279.2200, Box Office: 395 Main Street, Stoneham

Website: www.greaterbostonstage.org Review

“The Children” Opens At SpeakEasy Stage February 28

The Children

To Open At SpeakEasy Stage Company 

February 28

From February 28 to March 28, SpeakEasy Stage Company will proudly present the Boston premiere of the acclaimed drama THE CHILDREN by British playwright Lucy Kirkwood.

A 2018 Tony Award Nominee for Best Play, THE CHILDREN is a taut and timely new play that questions the responsibility each generation has for the way it leaves the world. One summer evening, in an isolated cottage on the British coast, Hazel and Robin, a long-married pair of retired physicists, are surprised by a visit from Rose, a former colleague whom they haven’t seen in 38 years. As the friends reminisce, long-held secrets come to light, leading to the real reason behind Rose’s return.  

A native of East London, Lucy Kirkwood is currently represented on London’s stages by The Welkin.  Her other works include It Felt Empty When the Heart Went at First but It Is Alright Now (2009 Evening Standard Award and 2010 John Whiting Award); NSFW (2012); Chimerica (2014 Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best New Play, plus a Critic’s Circle Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award); The Children (2016) and The Mosquitoes (2017). Her screen credits include Skins (Company Pictures), The Smoke (Kudos / Sky 1), and the short film The Briny, which she also directed.  Ms. Kirkwood adapted her play Chimerica into a four-part miniseries for Channel 4 in 2019, and has written a new four-part series Adult Material, following a woman’s life in the adult film industry, due to be shown in 2020.

Elliot Norton Award-winning director Bryn Boice will direct the SpeakEasy production of THE CHILDREN. Her recent credits include Universe Rushing Apart: Blue Kettle & Here We Go, two Caryl Churchill one-acts (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Admissions (The Gamm Theatre); Last Night at Bowl-mor Lanes (Greater Boston Stage); and an all-female production of Julius Caesar (Actors’ Shakespeare Project). Bryn is the newly appointed Associate Artistic Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and is the founding Artistic Director of fringe ensemble Anthem Theatre.

The cast consists of three Norton Award-winners:  Tyrees Allen, Karen MacDonald, and Paula Plum. 

The design team is Cristina Todesco (scenic); Rachel Padula-Shufelt (costumes); Jeff Adelberg (lighting); and David Remedios (sound). Rachel Sturm is the Production Stage Manager. 

THE CHILDREN will run for five weeks, from February 28 through March 28, 2020, in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End.

For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call BostonTheatreScene Ticketing Services at 617.933.8600 or visit www.speakeasystage.com  

Cast 

TYREES ALLEN* (Robin) is thrilled to be back at SpeakEasy Stage, after having played Pops in last season’s Between Riverside and Crazy [IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards — Outstanding Actor]. Broadway credits include Aida (OBC) and the renowned revival of Henry IV at Lincoln Center.   Notable regional credits include playing Colin Powell in the American Premiere of Stuff Happens at The Mark Taper Forum, the title role of Othello at The Old Globe, Christian in Ruined at Echo Theater, and Northumberland in Richard ll at The Goodman Theatre. At the Dallas Theater Center, he has played Elder Jay in The Christians, Evan in Sweat, James Bevel in The Great Society, and Aegisthus in Electra. Tyrees was a series regular on the TV show Women’s Murder Club, has had recurring roles on several shows, and has guest-starred on over fifty shows.


KAREN MACDONALD*
(Rose).  SpeakEasy: Polly, Other Desert Cities; The Drowsy Chaperone, The Drowsy Chaperone. Broadway: Amanda Wingfield [u/s, performed], The Glass Menagerie. Off-Broadway: Oliver Twist (TFANA). National: The Audience (Maltz Jupiter Theatre); No Exit (Hartford Stage); Faithful Cheaters (Trinity Rep); Escaped Alone (Gamm Theatre). Boston-Area:  The Cake, Red Hot Patriot (Lyric Stage); America Plays (Plays in Place);  Calendar Girls (Greater Boston Stage Company); Finish Line (Boston Theater Company); The Apple Family Plays (Greater Boston Stage Company, Gloucester Stage, New Rep); 73 productions including Arkadina, The Seagull, Mother Courage and her Children (American Repertory Theatre – Founding Company Member); All My Sons, Good People (Huntington Theatre); Long Day’s Journey into Night (New Rep); Universe Rushing Apart, Coriolanus, All’s Well That Ends Well, Hamlet (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Home of the Brave, The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead (Merrimack Rep). Ms. MacDonald has worked nationally from The Wilma Theater to Berkeley Rep. She has been awarded several IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards, and has received the Robert Brustein Prize for Sustained Achievement in the Theatre and the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence. 

PAULA PLUM* (Hazel). SpeakEasy credits include The History Boys, Reckless, The New Century, The Savannah Disputation, and The Divine Sister. She is the recipient of seven IRNE Awards; the 1995, 2007, and 2017 Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Actress; the 2004 Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence, and the 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University. In 2009, in association with SpeakEasy Stage, Paula was one of five actors nationwide to receive the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship. As a founding member of Actors’ Shakespeare Project, she has played Cleopatra, Beatrice, Lady Macbeth, and Phèdre. Paula has also appeared regionally at the Lyric Stage, the American Repertory Theatre, New Rep, Merrimack Rep, Huntington Theatre, Gloucester Stage, and Elm Shakespeare. Film credits include Mermaids, Malice, Next Stop Wonderland, and Woody Allen’s Irrational Man. Television: Science Court (three seasons – ABC) and The Dick & Paula Celebrity Special (co-creator and star – FX). Ms. Plum is a cum laude graduate of Boston University and has studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, the Dell’Arte Institute, and École Phillipe Gaulier in Paris. She has been published in American Theatre magazine, is married to actor Richard Snee, and is a professional acting coach.  www.paulaplum.com

Director Information

BRYN BOICE (Director) is thrilled to make her SpeakEasy debut. She is an award-winning director, educator, actor, and producer. Recent credits include Universe Rushing Apart: Blue Kettle & Here We Go, two Caryl Churchill one-acts for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (Elliot Norton Award–Outstanding Director, Large Theatre); Admissions (The Gamm Theatre); Last Night at Bowl-mor Lanes with Paula Plum and Nancy E. Carroll (Greater Boston Stage); and an all-female production of Julius Caesar for Actors’ Shakespeare Project. Upcoming: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (CSC2/Comm Shakes). NYC and regional credits as an actor and/or director include work with Asolo Repertory Theatre, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Caroline’s on Broadway, and Manhattan Theatre Club. Bryn is the newly appointed Associate Artistic Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and is the founding Artistic Director of fringe ensemble Anthem Theatre Company. She teaches acting, voice, applied movement, and dialects, among others, at Salem State. She holds an MFA in Directing from Boston University and an MFA in Acting from the Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training (FSU). More information at www.brynboice.com

Performance Schedule: February 28 – March 28, 2020 

Wed. & Thurs. at 7:30PM; Fri. at 8PM; Sat. at 4 & 8PM; 

Sun. at 3PM.  Additional performance Thursday, Mar. 26 at 2PM.