Category Archives: Stage – all

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

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.

“Detroit Red” Opens At ArtsEmerson

BEFORE HE WAS MALCOLM X, 

HE WAS DETROIT RED ARTSEMERSON PROUDLY PRESENTS 

THE WORLD PREMIERE OF 

DETROIT RED 

A WILL POWER AND ARTSEMERSON PRODUCTION 

FEBRUARY 01 – 16, 2020
EMERSON PARAMOUNT CENTER ROBERT J. ORCHARD STAGE

Will Power
Photo Credit: Adam A. Anderson

ArtsEmerson is thrilled to announce the World Premiere of Detroit Red by internationally renowned playwright Will Power. This theatrical exploration of the life of Malcolm X as he dwelled and came of age in the Roxbury section of Boston, plays the Emerson Paramount Center Robert J. Orchard Stage February 01 – 16, 2020. 

The world forever knows him as Malcolm X, but when he lived in Roxbury, he was dubbed “Detroit Red.” Will Power, along with director Lee Sunday Evans, shine a light on a pivotal coming-of-age moment in the celebrated, controversial civil rights leader’s life in this world premiere piece. Boxed in by race and class in 1940’s Boston, “Detroit Red” (Eric Berryman) transformed from a rowdy teenager into a street hustler. Detroit Red vividly brings this world to life, depicting a brutally honest, human portrayal of the future activist as he navigates the criminal underworld, taking the first steps in his quest to define the type of man he would eventually become. 

A potent, heart-wrenching deconstruction of a future American hero in turmoil, Detroit Red features three shape-shifting actors who create a deeply dramatic and surprisingly funny theatrical experience. The production offers a radical take on traditional theater, illuminating an iconic African-American figure and the community and circumstances that helped form him. 

“It’s been a joy working with Will Power, Lee Sunday Evans, Eric Berryman and the community of Roxbury dramaturgs on the development of Detroit Red,” says ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower. “When Will first described what he was aiming to do in this play we were immediately hooked. I loved that he wasn’t setting out to stage Malcom X’s biography. That story is told. I admired that he wanted to create this play in a deep collaboration with Roxbury itself.” 

“Will has found a surprising and explosive point of entry through the story of teenage Malcolm Little’s days in our city,” continues Dower. “The entire play is set in a single moment of epiphany trapped in a moment of reckoning — the sudden, impulsive moment of letting go of one story to make the space for the new story to unfold. The media is filled with stories of people who confronted this type of moment of reckoning, gun in hand. This play is about the moment Malcolm Little put his gun down, and let drop the story of Detroit Red. He changed his own narrative and, as a result, changed the world. Will and his team have zoomed in on that split- second decision, unpacking it for us on stage. And so we get to sit inside Malcolm’s head as he stood inside that Roxbury jewelry store at a life and death crossroads.” 

“I am fascinated by Malcolm’s time in Boston,” says Detroit Red playwright Will Power. “It is an unexplored period in the trajectory of a future world leader, a period that, when you include both his time as “Detroit Red” and his time incarcerated, adds up to almost a dozen years in which he lived in the state of Massachusetts. Malcolm X came to Boston as a skinny, countrified teenager (a “hick” as Malcolm describes it), and left Boston as the man known to the world as Malcolm X. In some ways, like Malcom, the city of Boston is iconic onto itself-it represents both the achievements and the complexities that exist in America. I can conceive of no other place that this play could’ve originated in other than right here in Boston.” 

Detroit Red plays for two weeks, February 1 – 16, 2020, at the Emerson Paramount Center Robert J. Orchard Stage. Tickets may be purchased at ArtsEmerson.org, by phone at 617.824.8400 or at the box office. 

Review: “The Cake” At The Lyric Stage In Boston

The Cake

Nobody Has The Corner On Self Righteousness 

Reviewed By Bobby Franklin

Karen MacDonald

I almost declined the invitation to review The Cake, now playing at the Lyric stage in Boston. Many works today are taking on societal issues, and getting people to think about what is going on around them while being more open to listening to the views of others is a good thing. It is healthy when we challenge ourselves and our, very often, deeply held views. It doesn’t mean we will necessarily change them, but understanding where others are coming from and why they feel the way they do helps to prevent us from putting up walls between one another and feeling anger. As hard as it is to believe, we can actually get along with people with whom we disagree. 

The problem with much theatre that I attend today is that it is self righteous. Instead of posing questions that will make us consider other views, many of the works I see tend to preach, and worse, demand that the audience members fall in line with a particular view point. I have received press packages that are filled with materials that all but tell me what I am supposed to feel about the play and about myself. Frankly, I find this insulting and disrespectful. It is also counterproductive. 

Kris Sidberry and Chelsea Diehl
Photo: Mark S. Howard

This used to be rare, but it is becoming too common today probably due to the polarizing times we live in. One exception to this is Ayad Akhtar’s The Who & The What that played at The Huntington Theatre in 2017 and dealt with the issues facing a Muslim family living in America. It was thought provoking but not preachy. Mr. Akhtar has said “Advocacy is not art, it’s advertising”. I couldn’t agree more.

In The Cake, author Bekah Brunstetter takes a similar approach. The play is about a gay couple living in New York, Jen (Chelsea Diehl) and Macy (Kris Sidberry), who have traveled to Jen’s original home in North Carolina where they plan to get married. Jen wants the ceremony to take place in the same venue where her parents were wed. Her mother has passed on but it is apparent she is looking for acceptance as she can not know, but does suspect, how her mother would feel about this. 

The play opens at Della’s Sweets, a bakery run by Della (Karen MacDonald) who was close to Jen’s mother and has known Jen since she was little. Della is very excited about having become a contestant on The Great American Bake Off, and is describing what it takes to make a good cake. Jen wants Della to bake the wedding cake for her and Macy. Macy arrives at the shop ahead of her and engages Della in conversation. 

At this point it all seems to be very predictable; the dumb and bigoted hick will respond with hate and disgust at the request while the enlightened couple will be both victim and moral superiors to the backward folks living down south. That is not at all how this plays.

Karen MacDonald and Chelsea Diehl
Photo: Mark S. Howard

Ms Brunstetter shows empathy for all of the characters and allows that many issues are not that cut and dried. In a twist, Macy turns out to be the self righteous one who has no room for differing views, while Della is willing to face the conflicts she faces with her beliefs. It is refreshing to see a Southern Evangelical treated with respect. And while Della is willing to question herself, Macy is very judgmental and believes “If you don’t want to be a bigot you have to think like me”. 

Jen is the most conflicted as she had been close to Della and was brought up in the same cultural environment. It is clear that Della is a mother figure to her. Having Della bake the cake for the wedding is important to her, but Jen is also understanding, while hurt, when Della makes excuses for not doing so. Della is also feeling pain as she loves Jen. There is a lot of emotional conflict here that spills over into the relationship between Macy, who grew up in New York, and Jen.

Fred Sullivan,Jr. and Karen MacDonald
Photo: Mark S. Howard

Karen MacDonald is perfect as Della, a woman without an inch of hate in her heart but views that are considered backwards, and even hateful, by big city liberals. Tim (Fred Sullivan, Jr)., Della’s husband, is a plumber. This is where I felt things could fall apart as the stereotype so often portrayed of white working class men is not usually flattering. While Tim is set in his ways, he is also a decent man who deeply loves Della. He also enjoys mashed potatoes which makes for a very funny scene, but you will have to see the play to find out what that is all about.

The interactions between Macy and Jen as well as between Della and Tim are both insightful into why they believe the things they do and what they believe about others. It is this hard facts back and forth that occurs between Della and Jen that really digs into the conflicted feelings they both are dealing with as well as a way to start understanding each other. 

Chelsea Diehl digs deep down into Jen emotions, those of a woman with a foot in two cultures. Jen does not agree with Della, but she understands her, while Della’s moral code precludes her from baking the cake, her heart tells her it is good that the little girl she has always loved has found someone she is in love with. They truly care for each other.

Chelsea Diehl and Kris Sidberry
Photo: Mark S. Howard

The one fault I found with the play is in the character of Macy. Kris Sidberry gives us a character that is so certain of her beliefs that she has an almost religious fervor about them, and many of us will recognize that person; the take no prisoner true believer. However, by the time the play moves to where the characters are beginning to find common ground it is too little too late for Macy. She has done something particularly cruel that gets brushed off and shouldn’t. And though she finds some common ground toward the play’s end, her journey there is not fully developed.

The Cake may involve a baker and the choice not to bake a cake for the wedding of a gay couple, but it is not about the right or wrong of making that choice. This is a play about how listening, and more importantly, treating one another with respect is the way to finding a way to understand one another. A way not to react with hate at that with which we do not agree. That goes for all people. 

This is a sweet play baked with warmth and humor about people being, for the most part, kind and understanding of one another without having to compromise their beliefs. This is not a dig in your heels political diatribe, but rather a thoughtful look at how we are all human, and of how we really can get along. The Cake is refreshing and delicious and is certainly worthy of being tasted.

The Cake

Directed By Courtney O’Connor

Through February 9

The Lyric Stage, Copley Square, Boston

617.585.5678

lyricstage.comR