Tag Archives: ArtsEmerson

Review: “An Iliad” ArtsEmerson

The Anger of Achilles

An Iliad

At Emerson Paramount Center 

Through November 24

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Denis O’Hare
Photo by Joan Marcus

The other night I saw An Iliad at the Emerson Paramount Center. Presented by ArtsEmerson, this modern take on Homer’s Iliad is funny, stirring, and thought provoking. Written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, it is directed by Ms Peterson and stars Mr. O’Hare. 

It first played in Boston the weekend after the Marathon bombings and has now been brought back for a very limited engagement. 

In approximately 100 minutes, Denis O’Hare accompanied by Eleonore Oppenheim on bass, tells the story of the Trojan War and the endless saga of man’s attraction to war and addiction to power. Mr. O’Hare is a dynamo on the stage while Ms Oppenheim adds mood and sound effects that beautifully enhance the performance.

There is a lot packed into this production, and you may feel a bit lost at moments, but you will never be bored and you will be moved. As time is running short, rather than have you spend time on more of my take on it I suggest you head over to the Paramount and see for it yourself. You’d better hurry though as there are only two performances left. Saturday at 8:00 P.M. and Sunday at 2:00 P.M.

An Iliad

Presented by ArtsEmerson In Association With Homer’s Coat

The Emerson Paramount Center

559 Washington Street, Boston

617.824.8400  artsemerson.org

Review: 7 Fingers’ “Passengers” At ArtsEmerson

7 Fingers’ 


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


Through October 13

Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre

219 Tremont Street, Boston


tickets [at] artsemerson [dot] org






MAY 16 – 19, 2019

Photo Credit:Jacqueline Lessac

On the heels of Cambodian New Year, ArtsEmerson is honored to welcome See You Yesterday, a moving performance by Global Arts Corps which explores the painful history of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Directed by Michael Lessac, nineteen Cambodian performers utilize their extraordinary physical skills, including acrobatics and circus arts, to travel back in time and shatter a legacy of silence. Global Arts Corps brings See You Yesterday’s U.S. premiere to Boston to close ArtsEmerson’s 2018/2019 season, for five performances only, May 16-19, at the Emerson Paramount Center Robert J. Orchard Stage. 

Over 22 weeks of development since 2012, Global Arts Corps—whose celebrated work brings together people from opposite sides of violent conflicts—collaborated with these young Cambodian artists as they grappled with the painful history of their country’s genocide. While details of the four-year horror have largely gone unexplored by younger generations of Cambodians, the cast of See You Yesterday interviewed their elders (and even a former Khmer Rouge child soldier) to build a stunning performance that is both beautiful and cathartic. 

“In 2013, when we brought our Northern/North of Ireland production Hold your Tongue, Hold your Dead to Boston audiences, we witnessed two communities, separated by an ocean and burdened by their own personalized historical memories, find a common healing ground in talk- backs across the footlights,” says See You Yesterday director Michael Lessac. “At a time when we seem to be clinging to what separates us and not what connects us, we wanted to be in the same place again to see what happens when another, totally different, theatrical vision of honesty, tenacity, and imagination takes the ArtsEmerson stage. See You Yesterday brings to Boston a cast of young Cambodian circus artists whose culture has forced them to live in silence with a harrowing memory. They have created a performance that shows us how hope can emerge from despair and how truth can emerge out of a powerfully moral and courageously honest imagination. I could not be more proud to be working with David Dower and his extraordinary team, in the namesake space of my old friend, Rob Orchard, as we once again explore together what happens when inherited conflict and unspoken multiple truths are surfaced across continents so that generations can talk to each other again.” 

See You Yesterday is precisely the kind of experience that ArtsEmerson has become known for over these past nine seasons,” says ArtsEmerson artistic director David Dower. “The show puts one of most vibrant world cultures in the spotlight. Our region hosts one of the largest Cambodian communities in the nation and as with last season’s Bangsokol, we are presenting it in deep partnership with that community, both in Boston and in Lowell. This effort to put the world on stage in dialogue with diverse communities delivers that particular synergy between the art and the audience that our supporters have come to count on. See You Yesterday also uses a form of storytelling that is entirely ArtsEmerson – sharing its moving search for restorative justice through the tools of circus and dance. We are proud to be working with Michael Lessac and Global Arts Corps to tell this story.” 



Review: “An Inspector Calls” At ArtsEmerson

Be Sure To Visit This House

Review: An Inspector Calls

Directed By Stephen Daldry

A National Theatre Landmark Production

Through March 14


Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Photo by Mark Douet

When the curtain rises for An Inspector Calls, now playing at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, a magnificent Victorian mansion appears center stage shrouded in mist and rain. It is rather breathtaking to see as we hear the occupants talking over dinner. Eventually, the sides of the house swing back revealing the diners while allowing the audience to get to know each character. 

At first I thought the house would steal the show, but nothing could take away from the fine acting on display over the next 100 minutes of this fast paced production filled with rapid fire dialog.

Jeff Harmer, Hamish Riddle and Andrew Macklin
Photo by Mark Douet

J.B. Priestly’s play which was written in 1945 and is set in 1912, takes in place the home of the prosperous Birling family, celebrating the engagement of their daughter Sheila (Lianne Harvey) to Gerald Croft (Andrew Maclin). Croft’s family runs a company that competes with the Birling’s firm, and the wedding appears to be as much a business merger as an affair of the heart.

The mood begins to change quickly when the mysterious Inspector Goole (Liam Brennan) arrives and begins questioning the individuals about a young woman named Eva Smith. Eva has taken her own life and the Inspector acts as a conscience while going from person to person while finding blame in each for driving the young Smith to such despair.

Priestly made no attempt to hide his agenda and it is clear the story comes down to a very black and white social commentary; wealthy industrialist is cruel and exploitative while the workers have no control over their lives. It is a theme that will be popular with many of today’s Millennials who seem to be quite taken with socialism, but it does not lend itself to discussion. Priestly has written a work that is more of a sermon promoting rather than an argument for his beliefs.

Liam Brennan, Jeff Harmer, Hamish Riddle, Andrew Macklin
Photo by Mark Douet

Does this mean only people who agree with the author should see it? Not at all. Actually, it is a very good work with excellent dialog, many surprises, and characters that are well developed, and that while it is strongly political in nature, there is much in it that will resonate with people from all spectrums of opinion. Step back from where Priestly is trying lead the audience and you have a story about human nature and the harm people do to one another because they don’t understand or simply choose not to see the consequences their actions have on the lives of others. This is a problem for not only wealthy capitalists, but for many people when they have power over others. It could even be true of college professors or lower level management people. 

This is the U.S. tour of the National Theatre production of An Inspector Calls, and the set from the original London West End theatre has been brought over. It is a first rate work that is a pleasure watch. At times I felt as if I were sitting in a London theatre while watching this incredibly talented troupe of actors plying their art. Costumes, lighting, and effects further enhanced the performances. 

Liam Brennan’s Inspector Goole is a combination of avenging angel and Ghost of Christmas yet to come, while Jeff Hamer in the role of family patriarch Arthur Brilling takes his character, who could have easily slipped into caricature, and fills him with depth and emotion.

Lianne Harvey’s Shelia Brilling at first appears to be uncaring, or rather naive, but then becomes a voice of reason and understanding. Eric Brilling, the alcoholic son played by Hamish Riddle, gains much depth as the play moves on, and his pain is deeply felt as the final scenes unfold. 

Gerald Croft (Andrew Maclin), the future son in law, and Sybil Birling (Christine Kavanaugh), the family matriarch, struck me as the coldest of the bunch. Both appeared to be from the school that says if nobody sees you, you didn’t do anything wrong. 

Not to be forgotten is Edna, the Birling’s maid. Played by Diana Payne-Myers, she has very little dialog but acts as witness to all that happens. While subtle, she is quite moving and plays an important role in the play.

Opening night was also Ms Payne-Myers 91st birthday. She has been performing the part for 22 years, I think she has it down pat. 

Jeff Harmer, Diana Payne-Myers, Lianne Harvey, Hamish Riddle, Andrew Macklin, Christine Kavanagh and Ensemble
Photo by Mark Douet

Be neither turned off or on by the political bent of An Inspector Calls. It is excellent theatre and it would be a shame not to take it in. We are in such polarized political times, but that has always been true to some degree. The important thing is to be able to listen to one another no matter how much we may disagree. While you may or may not agree with J.B. Priestly’s political views, there is much common ground to be found in how we can improve our lives when it comes to treating others with kindness and respect.

One thing everyone can agree on is this is a superb production that should not be missed. 

Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street, Boston. Tickets may be purchased online at www.artsemerson.org  by phone at 617.824.8400, or in person at the box office.

Reaching For The Light Without a Net

When Angels Fall

Directed and Choreographed By Raphaelle Boitel

Presented By ArtsEmerson

Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston

Through February 24


Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Raphaelle Boitel describes When Angels Fall as a dystopia. Set some time in the future, the performers emerge from darkness and never speak. Instead, we are left to interpret what is happening by witnessing a combination of aerial acrobatics, dance, and other expressive movements, some as simple as people walking across the stage. This is accompanied by original and very moving music composed by Arthur Bison. Add to all this,  lighting that is used sparsely but oh so effectively and a fog machine that at times gives the feeling that the aerialists are drifting through clouds makes this a captivating work that fascinates and intrigues. 

Ms Boitel’s future is cold. It is a place where human connection is frowned upon if not outright banned. As the work opens a performer is lowered from above to the song A Bicycle Built For Two (Daisy, Daisy). The old tune will be heard again, and in different versions, throughout the production. The reactions of the characters to this simple song of love and togetherness seems at first humorous, but as their confusion and fear shows it is apparent just how far removed they are from being able to understand and feel human connection, and that is where it becomes so very sad. It may be the future, but things have not moved forward. 

Throughout all of this there is one character, a noble savage type, who is looking for more. She is looking for conversation and is looking off stage toward someone or something as she reaches out for connection. 

The use of beams of light cutting through the fog and the darkness gives a feeling that all is not hopeless. The striving to reach up to the light that is expressed through the amazing aerial acrobatics is just astounding. The beauty and danger that are combined touch the emotions as the struggle to be allowed to feel is strongly conveyed. Can she escape and reach the light or will she fall?

In the 70 minutes it lasted, my eyes never left the stage. The movements, the music, the aerial feats were all spellbinding.  The seven performers were perfectly in sync while making it look effortless, which it certainly wasn’t. 

This is the first season I have covered ArtsEmerson, and I have been quite impressed. Artistic Director David Dower has made the unusual the usual under his direction. 

When Angels Fall is only playing until Sunday so don’t hesitate, you won’t want to miss this very original work. The Emerson Cutler Majestic is a beautiful theatre and this is a must see production. It is touching, enthralling, and deeply moving. And if you haven’t guessed by now, I really enjoyed it.

Photos by Sophian and Georges Ridel

ArtsEmerson Presents “An Inspector Calls”




MARCH 14 – 24, 2019

Jeff Harmer, Hamish Riddle and Andrew Macklin
(Photo by Mark Douet)

ArtsEmerson, Boston’s leading presenter of contemporary world theatre, is honored to welcome the U.S. tour of J.B. Priestley’s classic theatrical event, An Inspector Calls. Returning to direct his National Theatre masterpiece revival is Stephen Daldry (Oscar-nominated director of The Reader, The Hours and Billy Elliot) who also brings the iconic grand-scale set from the West End to Boston. This production of An Inspector Calls is the longest running revival of a play in history, seen by over 4 million theatergoers worldwide and winning an unprecedented number of awards including three Olivier Awards, four Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards. 

Written at the end of the Second World War and set before the First, the play begins when the mysterious Inspector Goole calls unexpectedly on the prosperous Birling family home, shattering their peaceful family dinner party with his investigations into the death of a young woman. The Telegraph calls it “an Edwardian thriller with a socialist purpose, tinged with a supernatural spin” and The Independent hails “its power and pertinence feel all the more striking.” 

“Daldry’s triumphant An Inspector Calls is the kind of treat we are always looking to bring to ArtsEmerson’s audiences,” says ArtsEmerson artistic director David Dower. “Like earlier productions of revivals like A Trip to Bountiful and Beauty Queen of Leenane, this one delivers a time-tested play in a definitive, visionary staging that exhilarates as much for being familiar as for being entirely unexpected. Each captures the full power of theater’s ability to lift us out of the toil and turmoil of our day yet still leave us deeply attuned to our connection to each other. It’s been two decades since it first conquered the world, but my first encounter lingers as an unforgettable experience at the theater and I can’t wait for Inspector Goole’s return visit.” 

Hailed as the theatrical event of its generation, winning more awards than any other production in history, An Inspector Calls has thrilled more than 4 million people worldwide.
When Inspector Goole arrives unexpectedly at the prosperous Birling family home, their peaceful dinner party is shattered by his investigations into the death of a young working-class woman. His startling revelations shake the very foundations of their lives and challenge audiences to question their own consciences. 

The production runs two weeks at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, located at 219 Tremont Street in downtown Boston. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ArtsEmerson.org, by phone at 617.824.8400, or in person at the box office.


“When Angels Fall” Coming To ArtsEmerson

ArtsEmerson Presents The New England Premiere


When Angels Fall

A Delightfully Dark And Mesmerizing Feat Of Visual Storytelling

Created And Directed By Raphaelle Boitel

Photo Credit:Sophian Ridel

ArtsEmerson is hosting the New England premiere of When Angels Fall, a riveting tale of flightless angels surviving in the wake of a global collapse. 

As a mesmerizing contortionist and aerialist herself, French creator and director Raphaelle Boitel’s storytelling is singular, and her ability to transform space in the air to the ground with large scale illusions along with bodies streaming across the stage is magical. Boitel brings her spellbinding visual storytelling (no words are uttered on stage) for five performances only, February 20-24, at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street, Boston.

Blending circus, dance, and cinema, When Angels Fall is a dystopia where the resilience of the human spirit is pitted against the sterile and mechanical. Drawing inspirit from such disparate artists as Pina Bausch, David Lynch and her long time collaborator, James Thierree, This delightfully dark and entrancing theatrical premiere explores how the beauty of let go gives us the strength we need to rise. When Angels Fall will summon laughter and awe during its harsh descent from the heavens.

“I was delighted to discover the work of Raphaëlle Boitel on her last US tour,” says Artistic Director David Dower. “There is a freshness of voice and of spirit alive in her that charms and powers the deep, dark, hallucinatory beauty in her work. Boston audiences are well-versed in the elements she’s mixing to create her visually stunning and dream-haunting pieces. She’s combining aspects of circus, modern dance, and multimedia performance— but her results are entirely new to us. I am excited to introduce a fast-rising female-led company to the city.” 

For more information:

617-824-8400, ArtsEmerson.org 

Review: “The End Of TV” At ArtsEmerson, Boston


A Warm And Touching Story
Of Two Lives Connecting
Now Playing At ArtsEmerson


The End Of TV
By Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman
Created by Manual Cinema
Through January 27
Emerson Paramount Theater

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Photo Credit: Judy Sirota Rosenthal

If you were to just sit and listen to the original music and lyrics composed by Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter that accompanies The End Of TV, that alone would be a pleasurable experience. But having that music along with the story that grew from it makes for an incredible evening of theatre.

Now being presented by ArtsEmerson at the Paramount Center in Boston and created by Manual Cinema, The End Of TV is certainly one of the most original works you will see this season. Combining that sublime score with visual effects that include shadow puppets, overhead projectors, actors performing in silhouette, and a touching and moving story, it leaves you with 75 minutes of theatre that is deeply moving.

The story, set during the 1990s in the Rust Belt, focuses on Flo (Kara Davidson), a retired factory worker who spends her days watching home shopping channels on her TV, and Louise (Sharaina L. Turnage), a recently laid off factory worker who has taken a job working for Meals On Wheels. Flo is slipping into dementia and her world is her television set. Louise is working to reinvent her life.

Photo Credit:Judy Sirota Rosenthal

Louise meets Flo while delivering meals to her, and at first their contact is brief, limited to the time it takes Louise to drop off Flo’s dinners. The two actors have no lines and are seen in silhouette projections on a screen hanging above the stage. The audience can see what is going on behind the scenes as the actors work in front of backdrop where their actions are captured and projected onto the overhead screen. The story is told with these images along with shadow puppets and scenes from television. It is remarkable to see the large array of emotions and expressions that are conveyed by the actors’ body movements. The lack of dialog and facial expressions actually enhances the emotional effect. A simple wave of the hand as a greeting gives the sense of connection that is building between the two women. It is fascinating to watch.

The only dialog is from the actors portraying the people from the home shopping channel and 1990’s TV programs who are also projected onto the screen. There are even appearances by the Jolly Green Giant. The five piece orchestra is on stage throughout the performance. The sound from a television can be heard throughout giving us the feeling of what it is like to be living in Flo’s world.

We also learn about Flo and Louise through flashbacks. Flo had worked in the factory during WW II. It appears it is the same factory Louise was laid off from. Both have had ordeals to overcome, and I was struck by the quiet strength of each.

The bond that grows between the two during the brief visits by Louise shows how important even a simple gesture of kindness can be. The fact that this is being done through silhouettes and without words makes it all the more touching.

Photo Credit: Judy Sirota Rosenthal

Discussing the subject of aging and the onset of dementia can make people very uncomfortable in today’s society. Not so in The End Of TV. There is a raw honesty to this work that allows us to watch and understand what happens in life as the aging process sets in. Seeing how much simple acts of kindness can mean to a person shows the importance of being connected to one another. And this is not just about what Louise does for Flo, but it also how Louise finds strength and hope in communicating with Flo.

While dealing with sad topics, this is not a sad play; It is heart touching and hopeful. The use of shadow puppets interspersed with the actors give it a childlike innocence that helps to simplify the complexities of the story. The warmth that comes from witnessing Flo and Louise connecting serves to remind us of our capacity for kindness and understanding, something that we tend to lose touch with in this fast paced world. There is so much to be given to and learned from one another. In my mind I still have the image of Flo and Louise gently waving to one another, so simple yet so very moving.

After the performance, the audience is invited onto the stage to speak with the actors and to see how it was all done.

Creative, unique, fascinating, humorous and touching, this is a work that will capture your heart. The End Of TV is one of the high points in a very rich Boston theatre season. It is a beautiful work and I highly recommend it.

For more information:

“A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage” In Boston


The Peanuts Gang Comes to the Boch Center Shubert Theatre for A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage

New Production is a Fresh Take on the Timeless Classic

Just in time for the holiday season, the Peanuts gang will be coming to the Boch Center Shubert Theatre from November 29 – December 2, 2018 for A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage. A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage is a fresh take on the timeless classic that gives the audience a completely new way of experiencing the storyline as portrayed by real actors who maintain the integrity and spirit of each Peanuts character.

This Emmy and Peabody award-winning story by Charles M. Schulz has been a longstanding tradition, warming the hearts of millions of fans since it first aired on television over 50 years ago. Now, the live on stage adaptation of the classic animated television special brings all your favorite characters to life – all set to the unforgettable sounds of the Vince Guaraldi musical score. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage encompasses each of your favorite scenes from the original animated television show.  It even expands the storyline into greater detail with more fun, more music, more finding the true Christmas spirit.  This Peanuts Experience also includes an intermission and, after the final bow, the show crescendos into a celebration of song as the audience is invited to join the Peanuts gang in singing Christmas favorites.

So, join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang in their journey to uncover the true meaning of Christmas.

Tickets are on sale and can purchased at the Boch Center Box Office, online at www.bochcenter.org, or by phone: 866.348.9738.

Review: Measure For Measure Presented by ArtsEmerson

“Measure For Measure”

At ArtsEmerson

Is Not A Problem

William Shakespeare’s  Measure For Measure is considered his first problem play. The production now playing at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre presents only one problem. It is here for only six performances, and a few of those performances are competing with the Red Sox in the World Series. This is too bad as the play, which is a collaboration by London’s Cheek By Jowl and Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre, directed by Declan Donnellan, and with a cast that speaks entirely in Russian (there are subtitles), is as interesting a production of one of Shakespeare’s works as you will see.

Set on a nearly bare stage with five large red boxes lining it, and an array of hanging lights of the type you might see in an industrial building, the starkness takes on a full life as the cast of thirteen enter and begin this story of power, the fairness and abuse of authority, hypocrisy, and conflicting principles. It is one of Shakespeare’s least performed, yet most moving works.

And yes, I wrote it is performed entirely in Russian, which may seem offsetting to some who can’t imagine seeing the works of the Bard performed in anything other than the original verse. However, I am here to tell you it works wonderfully when performed this way. There is definitely a synergy   when Russian actors take on Will Shakespeare. 

Interestingly, two of the most widely acclaimed film versions of King Lear and Hamlet were produced by Russian director Grigori Kozintsev, so this mix is not new. 

As the play begins the cast moves about the stage in a tight group without uttering a line. It is a device that is used to varying extents throughout the play as the crowd, in different sizes serves as witnesses, or perhaps a conscience, to and for the main characters. 

Angelo (Andrei Kuzichev) is played as a mousy bureaucrat who is given power by the Duke (Alexander Arsentyev), in the classic ambivalent role.

Anna Vardevanian’s Isabella is very interesting in that she gives us a more fragile and complex reading then I have seen before. Her “Man proud man” speech when confronting Angelo over his lack of compassion when enforcing the law is spoken more in mockery than anger. I found this to be very effective. Her facial expressions are priceless, especially in the closing scenes. 

There is much more to be said for this very talented cast, but time grows short, and you really should be making plans to see this Measure For Measure. It is a timely work that will have you reflecting on how power is wielded and what happens when people are too rigid and hypocritical when ruling over others. Of course there is much more to it, but you should really see for yourself. I highly recommend you do.

This is a unique and fast moving production that should not be missed. ArtsEmerson is giving Boston theatre goers a gift. Accept and enjoy it.

Measure For Measure

Cheek By Jowl and Pushkin Theatre

Presented by ArtsEmerson

At The Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre

219 Tremont Street, Boston

Through October 28

tickets [at] artsemerson [dot] org | 617.824.8400

Photos by Johan Persson