Category Archives: Stage – all

“The Thanksgiving Play” Opens At The Lyric Stage October 18

 The Lyric Stage Presents 

THE THANKSGIVING PLAY

by Larissa FastHorse

Directed by Scott Edmiston

OCTOBER 18 – NOVEMBER 10

 

A Hilarious New Comedy By Larissa FastHorse.

The First Boston Production Of A Play

By An Indigenous American Female Playwright

Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays: when families gather to celebrate the warmth of home, the bounty of the harvest – and a legacy of genocide and violent colonial expansion!

Good intentions collide with absurd assumptions in this wickedly funny satire, as a troupe of terminally “woke” teaching artists scrambles to create a pageant that somehow manages to celebrate both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month.

FEATURING: Barlow Adamson, Amanda Collins, Grace Experience, Jesse Hinson.

 Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota) (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright. Larissa’s produced plays include The Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons, Artists Rep), What Would Crazy Horse Do? (KCRep, Relative Theatrics), Urban Rez (Cornerstone Theater Company, ASU Gammage, NEFA National tour 2019-20), Landless and Cow Pie Bingo (AlterTheater), Average Family (Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis), Teaching Disco Squaredancing to Our Elders: a Class Presentation (Native Voices at the Autry), Vanishing Point (Eagle Project,) and Cherokee Family Reunion (Mountainside Theater).

The Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA  02116. Box Office:  617-585-5678 www.lyricstage.com 

“A Christmas Carol” Opens At Trinity Rep, Providence On November 7

TRINITY REP CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS WITH 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Trinity Rep is proud to present its annual holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol. Noted for being a new production each year, the 2019 production has been inspired by the senses, with a focus on the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season. With an abundance of dancing and singing, this year the production will be directed by Kate Bergstrom. Beloved acting company member Jude Sandy will be playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. A Christmas Carol runs November 7 through December 29, with press opening on Tuesday, November 12 at 7:30 pm. Among the ten most-attended productions of A Christmas Carol in America each year, Trinity Rep’s production has become a southern New England tradition, serving over 1.6 million people since its inception more than four decades ago. Last year’s production was the highest-selling show in Trinity Rep’s history. More show details are online at TrinityRep.com/carol. Tickets start at $27 and are available online or by contacting the box office at (401) 351-4242. 

Sensory Friendly Plus! Production

Trinity Rep will continue offering a Sensory-Friendly Plus! performance of A Christmas Carol , on Saturday, November 16 at 2:00 pm. Designed to meet the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum, and/or individuals with sensory processing disorders or other cognitive disabilities, this performance features modified sound, lighting, and other adjustments. Patrons are invited to make sounds, enter and exit as needed during the performance, and enjoy this holiday tradition with their family and community. 

The Sensory-Friendly Plus! performance features a red warning light that will illuminate before intense sound and light effects, and includes trained ushers in the audience to offer assistance, a social story and plot synopsis sent in advance, and a safe space in the lobby for patrons to return to if they need a break from the performance. More information can be found at TrinityRep.com/sensoryfriendlyplus. 

Resident Acting Company member Jude Sandy had to say of his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, “Playing Scrooge at Trinity Rep has been a dream for me ever since I was a Brown/Trinity Rep graduate student. A lot of my prep, apart from consuming every detail I can of the original story, is thinking about how I can honor Dickens and generations of Trinity Rep audiences and the great performances of my fellow acting company members past and present. I hope to wrap myself up in all that glorious history and communal ownership, and aim to reflect all that rich tradition living in our shared present.” 

Director Kate Bergstrom said of the production, “Part ghost story, part Odyssey, part party like its 1843, I envision this journey as a livening of the senses. With a full-bodied ensemble-driven world, my hope is to uncover and reveal the transcendental magic of generosity and joy implied in Dickens’ call to A Christmas Carol. Telling this story is a quest for magic. Telling this story is a call for redemption, radical compassion, and hope.”

Long-Standing Tradition 

Founding Artistic Director Adrian Hall first added A Christmas Carol to Trinity Rep’s lineup in 1977, just four years after moving into the company’s current home at the Lederer Theater Center on Washington Street. Since then the production has been a holiday staple for generations of families in Southern New England. Trinity Rep’s production is set apart from other holiday productions by the fact that it is re-imagined every year by a new director, cast, and set of designers. 

Cast and Creative Team 

Director Kate Bergstrom, who is a graduate of the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program in directing will be working alongside Michael Rice (music director), and Taavon Gamble (choreographer). They are joined on the creative team by Patrick Lynch (set design), Olivera Gajic (costume design), Barbara Samuels (lighting design), and Broken Chord (sound design.) In addition to Jude Sandy, Resident Acting Company members Timothy Crowe, Mauro Hantman, Stephen Thorne, and Rachael Warren will take on various roles in the production. They will be joined by third-year students in the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Acting program including: Danielle Dorfman ‘20, Jack Dryden ‘20, Ricardy Fabre ‘20, Henry Hetz ‘20, Michael Rosas ’20 and Haley Schwartz ‘20. Guest artists AJ Baldwin and Taavon Gamble will join the production. 

The production will also feature a children’s cast comprised of young local actors including: Honesto Aguinaldo (Warwick, RI), Adrian Amaya (Johnston, RI), Lily Butler (Johnston, RI), Anthony Davis (Cumberland, RI), Breyannie Davis (Cumberland, RI), Rylee Donelan (Barrington, RI), Aryielle Jean-Noel (Attleboro, MA), Elizabeth Peart (Providence, RI), Haley Pezza (East Greenwich, RI), Claudia Rufio (Plainville, MA), Vivien Thorne (Lincoln, RI), Warnsey Wiggins, Jr. (West Warwick, RI) 

For more information on the 2019-20 Season, call the box office at (401) 351-4242 or visit Trinity Rep’s website www.TrinityRep.com 

Opening: New England Premiere Of “ADMISSIONS” OCTOBER 25 AT SPEAKEASY, Boston

ADMISSIONS
Opens At SpeakEasy Stage Company
October 25

From October 25 to November 30, 2019, SpeakEasy Stage Company will proudly present the New England premiere of ADMISSIONS, the winner of the 2018 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.

From provocative playwright Joshua Harmon, author of Significant Other, Skintight, and Bad Jews, ADMISSIONS is a bold new comedy “of the left, by the left, for the left ̶ for today” (The New York Times). The story centers on Sherri Rosen-Mason and her headmaster husband Bill, who have worked hard for many years to expand the racial diversity of the student body at the small New England prep school where they work. But when their son’s Ivy League dreams are on the line, personal ambition and progressive values collide in this no-holds barred look at privilege, power, and the perils of hypocrisy.

Joshua Harmon’s plays have been produced across the United States at such prestigious regional theaters as Studio Theatre, The Geffen, Actor’s Express, The Magic, and Theater Wit, among others, and internationally in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, and throughout the U.K. e is a two-time MacDowell fellow, under commission at Manhattan Theatre Club, and an Associate Artist at Roundabout. Mr. Harmon is also a graduate of Juilliard.

SpeakEasy Founder and Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault will direct this New England premiere production of ADMISSIONS. Winner of three Elliot Norton Awards including the 2014 Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence, Mr. Daigneault has directed dozens of Boston premieres, including the company’s recent productions of The View Upstairs, The Scottsboro Boys, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Allegiance, and Fun Home.

The cast is Marianna Bassham, Michael Kaye, Maureen Keiller, Nathan Malin, and Cheryl McMahon.

The design team is Eric Levenson (scenic); Charles Schoonmaker (costumes); Karen Perlow (lighting); and Dewey Dellay (sound).

Stephen MacDonald is the Production Stage Manager. Erica Marie Rabito is the Assistant Stage Manager.

ADMISSIONS will run for six weeks, from October 25 through November 30, 2019, 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.

Review: 7 Fingers’ “Passengers” At ArtsEmerson

7 Fingers’ 

Passengers 

At ArtsEmerson

Is Astounding

 

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Sereno Aguilar Izzo and Sabine Van Rensburg
Photo Credit: Alexandre Galliez

I am a late arrival to the experience of contemporary circus, and if  Passengers performed by The 7 Fingers now playing at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre is any indication of what I have been missing, I have been making a huge mistake in not attending a performance years ago. I am now hooked and can’t wait to go again.

Presented by ArtsEmerson, this United States premiere is not your father’s big top. Contemporary circus brings the essence of circus combined with dance, music, and a theme that runs throughout the performance. In this case the theme is passengers on a train that can be interpreted different ways, but at bottom it is what the production notes say; “The journey is the destination” and that captures it perfectly.

What I witnessed was astounding. Performances of death defying feats (and I am not exaggerating when I use that term) moving seamlessly from one to another while tapping into a wonderment that at times was mesmerizing. This was mixed with a raw beauty and a celebration of the human body that was breathtaking. 

Freyja Wild
Photo Credit: Cimon Parent

The performance opens with eight performers boarding a train and using their breath to create the sound of the locomotive picking up speed. Rear projections, shadows and silhouettes are used subtly and with great effect. The action moves to each performers’ particular talent while never straying from the theme. Freyja Wild with hula hoops demonstrates an art form I didn’t know existed. Hoops were rolling in from off stage and Ms Wild would catch them with her feet, hands, and arms. She was fascinating to watch.

Sabine Van RensburgPhoto
Credit: Sébastien Lozé

Freyja also plays ukulele and sings a tune entitled Roam about her colleague Sabine Van Rensburg who performs using aerial silks. The song describes the beauty that Sabine creates while climbing high on the gorgeous silks that make her appear to be floating on clouds that she has made. While this is extremely dangerous and physically incredibly challenging, she looks as if she is doing it all effortlessly. I couldn’t help but think of the lines from the poem “High Flight”; “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth.” as I watched.

Sereno Aguilar Izzo displays a number of talents highlighted by his juggling that is both deeply intricate and humorous. At one point he was tossing about more balls than I could count, catching them in not only his hands, but with the crux of his elbows, chin, and in his shirt. His expressions contained a warmth that was charming and kind.

To a tango/blues version of St. Louis Blues, Sereno and Sabine worked the trapeze. At times the two appeared as one with their bodies connected and arms and legs seeming to be extensions of each other. The musical arraignment was superb as was the performance.

Sereno Aguilar Izzo Juggling
Photo Credit: Alexandre Galliez

Contortionist Maude Parent put on a display that had my tight and aching back envious. What makes this special is she is not performing a feat as much as giving expression with her amazing talent that touches on the beauty and adaptability of the human body. It isn’t so much being an observer of what she was doing as being moved deeply by it.

As with Ms Parent, Brin Schoellkopf’s performance on the tight wire was about grace and balance, something that speaks to us as we strive to lead better lives. This is not to take away from his amazing physical talent but to appreciate how he uses it to convey much more than just the physical.

Conor Wild
Photo Credit: Alexandre Galliez

Conor Wild is a master of the Chinese pole. The smooth metal pole rises high from the center of the stage and Mr. Wild climbs it without any aids. Once at the top he performs moves that make him appear weightless. At times when he is reaching out from the pole with only his leg barely wrapped around it to hold him, he looks free and peaceful.

Towards the conclusion, Louis Joyal and Samuel Renaud give a performance of Russian cradle. Playing on a theme that runs throughout the production, this epitomizes the trust one human will place in another to survive a dangerous challenge. From a platform erected high above the stage, Joyal makes acrobatic flips and leaps into the air trusting Samuel to catch him as he begins to fall. Renaud covers his hands and forearms in rosin for a better grip. The powder drifts into the air. This combined with rear wall projection gives an amazing feeling that was like something out of  scene from an old movie showing the steam from trains at a station.

I have given a rundown of the various parts of Passengers, but it is not a series of acts. Rather, it is an interwoven work that creates an emotional stirring within. It is contemplative, thought provoking, and inspiring. The mixture of theatre, dance, and music with circus performance skills results in an expressive art form unto itself. 

The music is mostly original and the arrangements are excellent. In fact, I have just purchased the score which is a joy to listen to by itself. Lyrics, music, and arrangements are by Colin Gagne in collaboration with Jean-Sebastian LeBlanc, Boogat, Freyj Wild, and Jerome Guilleume. Direction and choreography are by Shana Carroll.

Sereno Aguilar Izzo and Sabine Van Rensburg
Photo Credit: Cimon Parent

I think what I found most impressive, and there was plenty to be impressed by, was that while these talented people were in constant danger of serious injury and even death, I never felt they would get hurt. There were a couple of reasons for this. One was the fact that they were not emphasizing the death defying aspect of what they were doing, but rather the beauty contained in their movements, which were indeed beautiful. The other, and more important part was how they conveyed the trust they had in one another. They had no hesitation at all when leaping, hanging, swinging, or balancing that they would be there for one another. There was a beauty in that display of the human spirit that was deeply moving. I might also add that each had to trust in his and her self; to have the confidence their training, practice, and physical conditioning would carry them through. It is all quite remarkable.

Seeing Passengers is an incredible experience. It is something you most likely will want to see more than once. ArtsEmerson continues to enhance its reputation for bringing the unusual and unique to Boston stages. I look forward to seeing much more in the future.

ArtsEmerson Presents 

7 Fingers

Passengers

Through October 13

Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre

219 Tremont Street, Boston

617.824.8400

tickets [at] artsemerson [dot] org

Review: “Kinky Boots” At The Ogunquit Playhouse

Walking In One Another’s Shoes

Kinky Boots At The Ogunquit Playhouse

Kinky Boots

Through October 27

The Ogunquit Playhouse

ogunquitplayhouse.org

207.646.5511

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Photo by Gary Ng

Kinky Boots, the smash Broadway hit musical by Harvey Fierstein and with music by Cyndi Lauper, is closing out the Ogunquit Playhouse’s 87th season, and what a way to end the summer. This powerful production is led by Graham Scott Fleming and Kyle Taylor Parker as Charlie and Lola with direction and choreography by Nathan Peck. The sets and costumes from the Broadway production have been brought in and are incredible.

The story about Charlie who has reluctantly taken over his father’s shoe manufacturing factory which has fallen on hard times is one about looking beyond the differences in people’s lifestyles and working toward finding what makes us alike.

Photo by Gary Ng

Graham Scott Fleming brings complexity to the character of Charlie who has been struggling to establish his own identity against the wishes of his father who wants him to take over the factory. This is laid out in the opening number Price & Son. Charlie does not share his father’s love of designing and manufacturing shoes (The Most Beautiful Thing).

Kyle Taylor Parker’s Lola is outrageous and explosive as he takes the stage (The Land of Lola) surrounded by six angels, all men dressed in drag. The costumes and Angels are stunning and very high energy. When Mr. Parker makes the transition from Lola, the flamboyant and exciting drag queen to Simon, his real name, dressed in men’s clothing it is amazing to see the difference in personality. It is also quite touching.

Lola and Charlie have teamed up to start producing women’s shoes for men, a move that has saved the factory but caused tension between some of the workers who are not comfortable working with a drag queen. Charlie also begins to have some issues with this even though he and Lola/Simon have learned they share very similar issues with their fathers (I’m Not My Father’s Son). 

Don (Joe Coots), one of the factory workers, is unable to accept Lola and the tension between the two leads to Lola challenging Don to a contest where each must do one thing requested by the other. This leads to a boxing match, Don’s request, between them (In This Corner). The scene is choreographed beautifully and leads to the pair finding respect for one another. Lola’s request is an interesting one and not what you may think. I’ll leave it at that, but it is moving.

Lauren, played by Maggie McDowell, is also a factory worker who has a crush on Charlie but believes he is out of her reach (The History of Wrong Guys).  Ms McDowell brings a subtle humor to the role that is perfect for the part.

Photo by Gary Ng

George (John Scherer) the factory manager is staid yet able to adapt to the changes that are happening. He is loyal to the Price legacy and is the man behind the man who keeps things together. Mr. Scherer underplays the part just enough while conveying humor and tradition.

Other outstanding numbers include Everybody Say Yeah where boots and dancers cross the stage on conveyor belts. It is original, lively, and exciting. Charlie’s reflection on his struggling with accepting his friendship with Lola and his new business venture is captured beautifully in The Soul of a Man.

Photo by Gary Ng

The finale which is staged as a Milan fashion show with the Angels strutting down the runway in elaborate and colorful costumes while showcasing the new line of boots from Price and Son is incredible. Even Don puts on a pair and struts his stuff.

This is a feel good musical with a very touching story. Everything about this production is tops. It is so strong that I left the theatre feeling a bit drained as energy is flying is all directions. It’s a good way to feel.

I have talked with friends who are planning on going to see Kinky Boots at the Ogunquit Playhouse and they tell me tickets are selling fast. It is playing through October 27, so I would suggest ordering your tickets soon. Ogunquit is lovely this time of the year, and adding Kinky Boots to your visit will guarantee you will have a great time. I have no reservations about recommending this one.

“The Stone” Now Playing At Arlekin Players Theatre

ARLEKIN PLAYERS THEATRE REMOUNTS

GERMAN PLAYWRIGHT MARIUS VON MAYENBURG’S 

THE STONE 

New Dates Added September 13 – 29 (performed in English)

“This is our house underneath all this mildew and junk. I know every stone.”

Arlekin Players Theatre will remount German playwright Marius von Mayenburg’sThe

Wolfgang (David Gamarnik) and Hannah (Olga Sokolova).
Photo by Irina Danilova

StoneSeptember 13 – 29 performed in English at their theater at Studio 368 in Needham.  Directed by Arlekin Players Theatre’s Artistic Director Igor Golyak  (Elliot Norton Award-winning A Dead Man’s Diary), the production was performed in Russian by the same cast in May and June. Arlekin will be offering unique pre-show and post-show talks for interested groups. *See the performance schedule below. Tickets range from $45 – $65.  Arlekin will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. For more information and tickets, visit arlekinplayers.com or call 617-942-9822.

“It’s a kind of theatre that not only crosses borders but also draws from a number of performance traditions: dance, spoken word, performance art, and modern music arrangement harmoniously intertwine in our performances to create unique and memorable productions.” Igor Golyak, Artistic Director

In 1935, a young couple purchases a house from a Jewish family in Dresden, Germany. The play follows the lives of the house’s residents, who must grapple with their own identity while experiencing the reverberations created by 60 years of German history. As the house is passed from owner to owner, and generation to generation, the secrets buried in the garden and within the walls reveal themselves.

Marius von Mayenburg is a playwright, translator, dramaturg, director and one of the most widely produced German playwrights. Born in Munich in 1972, he studied Old German at University in Munich, before moving to Berlin in 1992, where he did a course in playwriting at the Hochschule der Künste from 1994 to 1998. In 1995 he completed a placement at the Münchner Kammerspiele. In 1998, he became a member of the artistic direction team at the Baracke, the studio theatre of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. In 1999 he went with Thomas Ostermeier to work as artistic director and playwright-in-residence at the “Berliner Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz”. His plays receive regular staging at Schaubühne/Berlin, Royal Court Theater/London, and other venues around the world.

The Stone Production design team features David R. Gammons(scenographer),Nastya Bugaeva(costume design), Jeff Adelberg(light design),Jakov Jakoulov(original score), Vladimir Gusev(video designer) and an eight-member cast including Jenya Brodskaia (Conductor #1), Misha Tyutyunik(Conductor #2 ),Olga Sokolova(Hannah),Viktoriya Kovalenko(Heidrun),  Darya Denisova (Witha), Rimma Gluzman (Mieze),Anna Kovalenko (Stefanie), and David Gamarnik (Wolfgang).

Arlekin Players Theatre was created in Boston in 2009 and has since toured to New York, Chicago, and Hartford, as well as to several international festivals. Arlekin takes strong pride in their emphasis on self-identity; they are a company of immigrants performing works that play on the ideas of cross-culture, home, and traditions, challenging the idea of nationality, and finding common themes that unite us all. Performances are in Russian, with simultaneous translation into English. The company makes its home in Needham, MA.  For more information, visit www.arlekinplayers.com.

THE STONE Performance Schedule

Sept 13 at 8 pm

Sept 14 at 8 pm

Sept 15 at 3 pm

Sept 20 at 8 pm

Sept 21 at 8 pm

Sept 22 at 3 pm and 7 pm (sold out)

Sept 27 at 8 pm

Sept 28 at 8 pm

Sept 29 at 3 pm

“Kinky Boots” Opens At The Ogunquit Playhouse September 18

Hilarious and Heartwarming, Kinky Boots to Open at Ogunquit Playhouse

The winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots hits the Ogunquit Playhouse stage September 18 through October 27. Featuring a hilarious, uplifting book by four-time Tony winner, Harvey Fierstein and a joyous, Tony-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, the Ogunquit Playhouse production is staged by Nathan Peck, and stars Graham Scott Fleming as Charlie Price, and Kyle Taylor Parker as Lola, with Tony-nominated Scenic Design by David Rockwell and Tony-nominated Costume Design is by Gregg Barnes.

The hit musical is based on the 2005 Miramax film written by Geoff Dean and Tim Firth, and tells the heartwarming story of Charlie Price who has reluctantly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola. As it turns out, Lola is the one person who can help Charlie become the man that he is meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair find that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… and discover that, when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world. This joyous show is sure to have audiences dancing in the aisle and discovering, sometimes, the best way to fit in… is to stand out! 

Graham Fleming

Leading the cast as Charlie Price is Graham Scott Fleming. He portrayed Charlie at the Muny in St. Louis earlier this year, and was nominated for a Dora Award for Best Male Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Charlie Price in the Canadian production of Kinky Boots. On Broadway he performed in Miss Saigon, and at Papermill Playhouse in My Very Own British Invasion. In addition to Kinky Boots, Mr. Fleming starred in the Canadian premieres of Ghost and Jukebox Hero. 

Kyle Taylor Parker returns to the Ogunquit Playhouse as the fabulous diva, Lola. Last season he performed in the Ogunquit production of Smokey Joe’s Cafe that transferred to New York City, and he continued to perform in the production through its Off-Broadway run. Mr. Parker was in the original Broadway cast, as well as the National Tour of Kinky Boots for which he won an IRNE Award for Best Visiting Actor for his performance. In addition, he performed in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway and the National Tour of In the Heights. He was recently featured in NBC’s smash hit Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. At regional theatres he has performed in Dreamgirls, Hair, and the world premiere of My Very Own British Invasion. 

Kyle Taylor Parker

The Ogunquit Playhouse production of Kinky Boots features Joe Coots as Don, Maggie McDowell as Lauren, Ashley North as Nicola, and John Scherer as George. Joe Coots performed in the Ogunquit Playhouse productions of The Full Monty, Crazy for You, and South Pacific. His most recent theater credits include the world premiere of Human Error and the First National Tour of Kinky Boots. Maggie McDowell returns to Ogunquit Playhouse after performing as Marty in 2014’s Grease. She has performed in Kinky Boots on Broadway, in the First National Tour, and at The Muny earlier this year. On Broadway she performed in Disaster!, and Off Broadway in The Marvelous Wonderettes, and Pinklacious. Ashley North joins the cast after recently performing in the National Tour of Kinky Boots. Her many regional theatre credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hair, and Les Miserables. John Scherer returns to the Ogunquit Playhouse stage where he last appeared in 2001’s 42nd Street as Billy Lawlor. On Broadway he has performed in Lovemusik, By Jeeves, and Sunset Boulevard. His Off-Broadway shows include Olympus On My Mind, Dames At Sea, and Preppies.

Tickets are on sale now. Preview performances start at $36 and economy seats start at $51 each. To learn more about becoming a Playhouse member, or to purchase tickets and gift cards, visit www.ogunquitplayhouse.org or call the Ogunquit Playhouse Box Office at 207-646-5511

Review: “Little Shop of Horrors” At The Lyric Stage In Boston

Little Shop Of Horrors

At The Lyric Stage 

Will Grow On You

Review: Little Shop of Horrors

Directed by Rachel Bertone

At The Lyric Stage

Copley Square, Boston

Through October 6

lyricstage.com

617.585.5678

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Dan Prior, Katrina Z Pavao with Audrey II
Photo: Mark S. Howard

Little Shop Of Horrors, the rock and roll musical based on the 1960 cult film of the same name has shown incredible legs. It first appeared Off-Off-Broadway in 1982, moving to Off-Broadway, and then finally to a full Broadway run. It is as fresh today as it was then. The wonderful score which is based on a combination of Rock and Roll, Motown, and the girl groups of the early 1960s is the kind of music that has audiences tapping their feet and experiencing ear-worms as they leave the theatre.

Little Shop Of Horrors is an ideal musical with which to begin the 45th season at the Lyric Stage in Boston, and it gets the full Lyric treatment from Director/Choreographer Rachel Bertone. Set in Mushnick’s Florist shop on Skid Row in New York, the set, designed by Janie E. Howland, is inviting with various hues of green. Add in Dan Rodriguez as Music Director along with costumes by Marian Bertone and lighting by Franklin Messner Jr and you have a must see production that is nothing short of sensational.

Dan Prior, Remo Airaldi
Photo: Mark S. Howard

Remo Airaldi plays Mr. Mushnik, the florist who is struggling to stay in business while employing two workers, the hapless Seymour Krelborn (Dan Prior) and Audrey (Katrina Z. Pavao). Just when Mushnik is about to close up shop for good, Seymour reveals a “strange and interesting plant” he has been nurturing. The plant is put on display in the window of the flower shop and business begins to boom. There is just one problem; the plant named Audery II by Seymour, has a strange dietary requirement. The Venus Flytrap style vegetation desires human beings rather than houseflies. This all makes for an interesting story that combines Science Fiction and musical comedy all flavored by the 1960’s rock theme. This formula makes for two hours of great fun.

Chiffon (Pier Lamia), Crystal (Lovely Hoffman), and Ronnette (Carla Martinez) perform as a Girl Group version of a Greek Chorus and get things off to a strong start with the title tune. Moving through various homages to the music of the early Rock years, they touch on such memorable groups as the Ronettes and the Supremes. In both shimmering and taffeta dresses that invoke the period, they are outstanding while performing from various spots on the stage including the two balconies, one on each side. The score is well crafted and gives all the flavor of the period while also remaining original. 

Lovely Hoffman, Carla Martinez, Pier Lamia Porter, Katrina Z Pavao, Dan Prior
Photo: Mark S. Howard

Katrina Z. Pavao as Audrey, the sweet girl who has been finding love in all the wrong palces, displays wonderful acting skills along with a singing voice that delights. On Somewhere That’s Green she takes us on a nostalgic trip through the 1950s complete with mentions of Betty Crocker and I Love Lucy. Corny? Not really. Ms Pavao delivers it with a soft warmth that is touching. She brings a depth to her character that transcends the comedy. Yes, she is quite funny, but also a very sympathetic character. It would be easy to play Audrey as a ditz, but Ms Pavao takes it much further and displays wonderful talent. This is her Audrey. 

Audrey is in an abusive relationship with a sadistic dentist (is there any other kind?) played by Jeff Marcus,and a black eye and a broken arm make for some moments that are very dark. Mr. Marcus plays multiple roles and uses many different voices, not an easy task. His rendition of Be A Dentist with backup by Lovely, Crystal, and Ronnette is painfully funny as he describes taking his mother’s career advice; “Son, you have a talent for giving pain, be a dentist”. If you’re an anti-dentite, after seeing the dreaded chair and drill on stage this will only fuel your hatred. Ouch!

Dan Prior, Lovely Hoffman, Carla Martinez, Pier Lamia Porter
Photo: Mark S.Howard

Dan Prior as Seymour fits into his role as if it were a suit tailored especially for him. His timing is perfect, and his interactions with Remo Airaldi’s Mushnik work very well. As usual, Mr. Airaldi does not disappoint. I still remember his terrific performance in last year’s SpeakEasy production of Shakespeare In Love. There is a degree of abuse in the relationship between Mushnik and Seymour as well, and it is that common trait shared by Audrey and Seymour that draws them together.  They both lack in self-esteem and find love as they see the good in each other, and express it in  Suddenly Seymour. It is a touching and sweet number as the two open up to one another.

There is one other character not to be overlooked, a certain plant that eventually takes center stage and has a voracious appetite. Audrey II has four incarnations as the play progresses. The creation of puppet designer Cameron McEachern, Audrey II is simply amazing. Growing from a small potted plant sipping on blood to a full grown man-eating creature, it is a marvel to see. Tim Hoover inhabits the large version and moves it in synch with the words spoken and sung by Yewande Odetoyinbo. 

Katrina Z Pavo and Audrey II
Photo: Mark S. Howard

It is fascinating to watch Mr. McEchern’s creation in action as it swallows people whole.  After the performance I attended had concluded, audience members lined up at the stage to stare at Audrey II who was still on display. The plant that drew spectators to Mushnik Florist had that same pull at the Lyric. People were fascinated by it, I know I was. What a piece of work is this plant.

The Lyric Stage’s Little Shop of Horrors is theatrical perfection from top to bottom. Don’t miss it. I doubt a better production of it has ever been done, nor will there be one to top it in the future. 

“Little Shop Of Horrors” Opens At The Lyric Stage August 30

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

Lyric Stage August 30 Through October 6

 Book and Lyrics by                    Music by

     HOWARD ASHMAN             ALAN MENKEN

 Based on the film by Roger Corman, Screenplay by Charles Griffith

  Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Breton

Music Director, Dan Rodriguez

This award-winning sci-fi pulp musical follows nebbishy florist-shop worker Seymour who haplessly pines after his coworker Audrey.

Suddenly, opportunity falls into his lap in the form of a mysterious, carnivorous, conniving – not to mention singing – plant that promises to fulfill Seymour’s every wish.

CAST:

Dan Prior                              Seymour Krelborn

Katrina Z Pavao                  Audrey

Remo Airaldi*                     Mr. Mushnik

Jeff Marcus*                        Orin and others

Pier Lamia Porter*            Chiffon

Lovely Hoffman*               Crystal

Carla Martinez*                  Ronnette

Lovely Hoffman*               Crystal

Yewande Odetoyinbo*    Audrey II (voice)

Tim Hoover                          Audrey II (puppeteer)

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)

August 30 – October 6, 2019

Lyric Stage Company of Boston

140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston

Box Office:  617-585-5678

website:  lyricstage.com

SpeakEasy Stage Company To Present “Choir Boy”

Choir Boy

Opens At

SpeakEasy Stage Company

September 13

From September 13 to October 12, 2019, SpeakEasy Stage Company will proudly present the New England premiere of the acclaimed Broadway musical drama CHOIR BOY.

Nominated for four 2019 Tony Awards including Best Play, CHOIR BOY is a powerful coming-of-age story punctuated by the soaring harmonies of live gospel, spiritual, and R&B performances.  For fifty years, the elite Charles R. Drew Prep School has been dedicated to the education of strong, ethical black men; its legendary choir an emblem of all it holds true.  But for Pharus Young, the opportunity to take his rightful place as the leader of these talented vocalists comes at a price.  Can he still earn his place in the hallowed halls and sing in his own key?

CHOIR BOY is the work of acclaimed writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, Oscar-winner for the film Moonlight, which was based on his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. Mr. McCraney’s other plays include Ms. Blakk for President (co-written with Tina Landau), The Brother/Sister Plays, Head of Passes, and Wig Out!  Mr. McCraney is currently the Chair of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama, and is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.  His original TV series David Makes Man recently debuted on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network. 

Maurice Emmanuel Parent will direct the New England Premiere of CHOIR BOY.  An award-winning, Boston-based actor, Mr. Parent is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Front Porch Arts Collective, a new black-led theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theatre. Mr. Parent made his professional directorial debut last season with Breath & Imagination, a co-production between Front Porch and the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, for which he received an IRNE Award nomination for Best Director of a Musical.  

Joining Mr. Parent are David Freeman Coleman, who will serve as Music Director, and Yewande Odetoyinbo and Ruka White, who will co-choreograph.  

Boston Conservatory graduate Isaiah Reynolds will return to Boston to play Pharus.  He is being joined by Jaimar Brown, Antione Gray, Dwayne P. Mitchell, Malik Mitchell, Aaron Patterson, Thomas Purvis, Nigel Richards, J. Jerome Rogers, and Richard Snee.  

CHOIR BOY will run from Sept. 13 – Oct. 12, 2019, 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.

Ticket prices start at $25, with discounts for students, seniors, and people age 25 and under.  For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call BostonTheatreScene Ticketing Services at 617.933.8600 or visit www.SpeakEasyStage.com.