Due to unprecedented demand, SpeakEasy Stage will remount its acclaimed production of THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS for four additional weeks, December 30, 2016 – January 22, 2017.The entire original cast will return to the production, which has been hailed as “a powerful and vivid reminder of racial injustice both past and present.” Tickets for the added performances are now on sale.
“I am thrilled to have another opportunity to share THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS with Boston audiences,” said SpeakEasy Founder and Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault. “Rarely have I been more proud of a production, and rarely has a show seemed as timely and important as this one.”
Featuring music and lyrics by Broadway legends John Kander and Fred Ebb, and a book by David Thompson, THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS brings to light the shocking true story of nine African American teenagers jailed in Alabama in 1931 for a crime they did not commit. With an exhilarating and infectious score that mixes gospel, jazz, and vaudeville, the show flips the script on the classic minstrel construct to lay bare the fateful case that inspired the American civil rights movement. Nominated for 12 Tony Awards during it initial Broadway engagement, THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS is also notable as the final collaboration between Kander and Ebb, whose works include such musical theatre classics as Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
The entire original cast will be back for these additional performances. They are: Darren Bunch,Shalaye Camillo, Taavon Gamble, Russell Garrett, De’Lon Grant, Brandon G. Green,Sheldon Henry, Wakeem Jones, Steven Martin, Darrell Morris, Jr., Maurice Emmanuel Parent, Aaron Michael Ray, and Isaiah Reynolds.Ticket prices start at $25, with discounts for students, seniors, and persons age 25 and under.
The second installment of THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS will run for four weeks, December 30, 2016 through January 22, 2017, 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 the box office at 617.933.8600 or visit www.SpeakEasyStage.com
The SpeakEasy Stage’s production is as good a one as you will see.
The Scottsboro Boys was John Kander and Fred Ebb’s final collaboration. Mr. Ebb passed away in 2004 and Mr. Kander finished the play on his own. It debuted in 2010. It is a musical about nine young black men, actually boys (the youngest was only thirteen), who, in 1936, were falsely accused of raping two white women in Alabama. It is a tragic and heart wrenching story about a terrible miscarriage of justice and racism.
While the original production received 12 Tony Award nominations, it was greeted with mixed reviews and some protests when it appeared on Broadway.
The SpeakEasy Stage’s production is as good a one as you will see. Staging a musical such as this that deals with a true story that is sure to make an audience very uncomfortable has to be difficult; however, everything about Paul Daigneault’s direction is excellent. The sets, the music, the lighting. And that is just what can make this awkward for the audience. A lively musical with many one liners that stings.
Kander and Ebb set this as a minstrel show with some of the roles reversed. You will see such mainstay minstrel characters as Mr. Tambo and Mr. Bones, only in this case they are black men playing grotesque and exaggerated depictions of white characters. Makes you see things from a bit different perspective to say the least.
At no time during the play do you lose sight of the tragic injustice that is taking place.
Yes, this is a musical, and a lively one too with many great tunes and lively dance numbers. This can also lead to much discomfit. I asked some of the cast members after the show if different audiences react in different ways (at the performance I attended most applauded after each number, though I felt it inappropriate to do so.). They told me that some remain silent until the end and applaud when the play is over. At other times they can feel a hesitation before getting a response. This all makes sense in a show such as this where the music is very good and the performers excellent. However, you don’t exactly want to walk out of the theatre humming Electric Chair or Minstrel March. At no time during the play do you lose sight of the tragic injustice that is taking place, and that took place not very far in our past. The solid cast never allows that to happen. All the players are deeply vested in their characters and it shows.
Don’t let any of this dissuade you from seeing this fine cast perform on the stage of the Calderwood Pavillon. As usual, the SpeakEasy has assembled a very talented cast that does not disappoint. This is a rare opportunity to see Kander and Ebb’s final work, and we are lucky to have the SpeakEasy that does not shy away from such productions.
Due to popular demand, performances have been extended through November 26.
617.933.8600 At The Calderwood Pavillon, 527 Tremont Street, Boston’s South End
“Significant Other” SpeakEasy Stage Now Through October 8th
reviewed by Bobby Franklin
Significant Other by Joshua Harmon, who’s Bad Jews was a great hit last year, opens with Jordan Berman (Greg Maraio) celebrating the news of his friend Kiki’s (Sarah Elizabeth Bedard) engagement to be married. Kiki and Jordan are joined by two other long time friends Laura (Jordan Clark) and Vanessa (Kris Sidberry). They are sharing a scorpion bowl and Kiki is feeling no pain. Soon the conversation turns to Jordan, who is gay, and how it is time for him to find a significant other. We learn that Jordan tends to obsess over romantic interests and is now attracted to Will (Jared Troilo) from his office, who may or not be gay.
As the play progresses we watch as Jordan pursues Will both in real life and in fantasy. It is very interesting to see how this is staged, having Jordan speak to his friends while also in the moment with Will. It is almost as if the action pauses so he can update his friends. The effect works very well.
As time goes on we see that Jordan has not been able to make a connection with Will or any other man. Meanwhile, Vanessa and Laura join Kiki in walking down the bridal path. This leads Jordan to feeling a bit of a loser. He also begins to feel he is losing his friends and his sadness turns to anger when he confronts Laura at her bachelorette party. it was at this point Jordan started to get under my skin. Sorry, I just cannot feel sorry for someone that selfish.
At first I felt sadness for for Jordan, but my sadness turned to anger at him for his selfishness and inability to understand that life moves on and people have changes in their lives.It does not mean friendships end, but they do change, and he just cannot accept that.
It does not mean friendships end, but they do change
Throughout the play he pays visits to his elderly grandmother Helene (Kathy St. George) and hears advice about life and aging, though nothing really seems to resonate with him.
As I was watching Significant Others I couldn’t help but think about Company which I had seen last week. Company had a similar theme about people moving on with their lives and dealing with how these changes effect friendships. What I found striking was, even though the characters in Company are only a few years older than those in Significant Others, they are much more mature than Jordan and his friends. Company was written in 1970, and I think by comparing the two we see how much longer it takes people to grow out of adolescence today. There were times during this play when I just wanted to shout out “Grow up, the world does not revolve around you!”
Okay, so this is not a group of people I would want to spend time with. Having said that, the production is well done, though I feel the play have been shorter. A number of points were made and did not have to be repeated.
It is very funny, and all of the players are quite good.
Greg Maraio has terrific talent
Greg Maraio has terrific talent which is why I disliked his character so much. Unless, of course, he was going for sympathy. If that was the case, I missed it. But i don’t think so. I believe Mr. Maraio captured the frustration and anger that too many young people feel when they realize life is a bumpy ride.
It’s funny, but the SpeakEasy Stage has a way of leaving me thinking about their productions for days after I have seen them. Leaving the theater I felt I really did not like this play. But, I think i could spend hours talking about it.
Directed by Paul Daigneault
SpeakEasy Stage Company
527 Tremont Street In The South End
From September 9 to October 8, 2016, SpeakEasy Stage Company will proudly present SIGNIFICANT OTHER, a sharply observed new comedy about the challenges of finding love and letting go, written by Bad Jews playwright Joshua Harmon.
Slated to begin previews on Broadway in February, 2017, SIGNIFICANT OTHER tells the story of Jordan Berman, a 29 year old single gay man whose life up until now has revolved around BFF’s Kiki, Laura, and Vanessa. But as singles nights suddenly turn into bachelorette parties, Jordan starts to worry about his romantic prospects, and sets out on a journey to find his own Mr. Right.
SIGNIFICANT OTHER is the latest from playwright Joshua Harmon, whose play Bad Jews was the third most-produced play in the United States during the 14-15 theatre season. A recent graduate of Julliard, Mr. Harmon has received fellowships from MacDowell, Atlantic Center for the Arts, SPACE at Ryder Farm, and the Eudora Welty Foundation. He is currently at work on commissions for Roundabout Theatre Company, Lincoln Center Theater, and Manhattan Theatre Club.
SpeakEasy Founder and Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault will direct this New England premiere production of SIGNIFICANT OTHER. Mr. Daigneault’s recent SpeakEasy directing credits include the acclaimed productions of Violet, Mothers & Sons, Big Fish, The Color Purple, In the Heights, and Next to Normal. Mr. Daigneault is the recipient of three Elliot Norton Awards, including the 2014 Norton Award for Sustained Excellence.
Norton Award nominee Greg Maraio and Norton Award winner Kathy St. George head the cast, which also includes Sarah Elizabeth Bedard, Jordan Clark, Eddie Shields, Kris Sidberry, and Jared Troilo.
The design team is Christopher & Justin Swader (scenic); Tyler Kinney (costumes); Daniel H. Jentzen (lighting) and Lee Schuna (sound).
SIGNIFICANT OTHER will run for five weeks, from September 9 through October 8, 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 persons age 25 and under.
For tickets or more information, the public is invited to call the box office at 617.933.8600 or visit www.SpeakEasyStage.com .
SpeakEasy Stage Company is closing out their 25th anniversary season with a very strong production of Dogfight directed by Paul Daigneault. The New England premiere of the musical is based on the 1991 film and screenplay by Bob Comfort, and with music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Most of the story takes place on November 21, 1963 and focuses on three young Marines, Eddie Birdlace, Bernstein, and Boland who refer to themselves as the Three Bees. They are to be deployed the following morning to Southeast Asia and are embarking on a game the Marines call Dogfight. It is where each recruit puts up money that is pooled and will be awarded to the man who can bring the ugliest woman to a party they are having. It is demeaning to women but also serves the purpose of removing any sense of empathy from men who are about to be sent into combat.
Eddie, (Jordan J. Ford) finds waitress Rose Fenny (Alejandra M. Parrilla) at a local dinner and sweet talks her into attending the party with him in the hope he has found his winning date. Rose is caught up in his flattery and is thrilled to go. The others are also finding their mates for the evening.
It would be easy to settle in at this point and see this play as being about women being objectified. It runs much deeper than that. While what the Three Bees and the other soldiers are doing is cruel, it is also juvenile and demeaning to them as well. But, they are required to give up much of their sense of humanity considering they will soon be in a very inhumane environment. They are young and, because of their weeks of basic training, feel prepared for anything the world will throw at them. Instead of this being about a group of young men acting like jerks,
it has much more serious overtones considering what is about to happen in their lives
it has much more serious overtones considering what is about to happen in their livesand in the world.
Rose is no victim. While she is deeply hurt when she finds out what Eddie was up to, she is also touching him deeply with her warmth and confidence. Eddie at first saw an overweight and insecure girl, but fast begins to learn much about himself and life from Rose. He finds it is not so easy to be cruel. As the story unfolds we are touched on many emotional levels. As one audience member stated after the performance, “I have learned to always bring a box of tissues to a SpeakEasy production.”
The play does have a number of funny and warm moments that will make you smile. Alejandra M. Parrilla as Rose and Jordan J. Ford as Eddie are simply wonderful in the restaurant scene where Rose shows she can match Eddie’s tough guy bravura as well as add a very strong wit. Her kindness is also infectious and is breathed in by Eddie. Their touching duet First Date, Last Night sung while gazing at San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge is a beautiful love song.
As the story moves forward in time, much has to be compressed and Director Paul Daigneault does magnificent job of putting so much into so short a time on stage. It really is a bit overwhelming but important as it conveys so many feelings that force us to think hard about all we have just seen.
Ms Parrilla and Mr. Ford are supported by a solid cast
Ms Parrilla and Mr. Ford are supported by a solid castthat includes Jared Troilo (Boland) and Drew Arisco (Bernstein). Patrick Varner will be suffering from a multi personality disorder after playing seven parts, but he handles every one of them just fine.
The theater is set with the audience sitting on three sides of the stage. This, along with two movable staircases, is extremely effective. A beautiful score, fine musical direction, and the intimate atmosphere along with this cast have very talented young actors makes this a play not to be missed.
I know I often say this after seeing a SpeakEasy production, but I left the theater with much to think about, and with much to feel.
We are lucky to have such a great company in Boston.
We are lucky to have such a great company in Boston.I hope you go down to the Calderwood Pavilion and spend a couple of hours being touched by these fine young actors.
Playing through June 4th at The Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont Street, South End, Boston
My review of the SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of “Violet” could be summed up in just three words: See this play.
Violet, which premiered off Broadway in 1997 originally got mixed reviews, but fortunately survived and went on to play Broadway. This Boston run is being directed by Paul Daigneault who is taking it on for the second time, it played the SpeakEasy in 2000, and he has done a masterful job. Along with a remarkable score composed by Jeanine Tesori with lyrics by Brian Crawley and a first rate cast led by Alison McCartan who’s Violet is near perfect.
Set in 1964, it is the story of Violet, a young woman who has a severe facial scar that resulted from a tragic accident when she was a child. She has gathered together enough money to take a bus trip from her home in Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma where she believes a faith healer can remove her scar and the emotional pain that goes with it.
Along the way she befriends a number of people including two soldiers, Flick and Monty, who both come to care for her very much. There are also scenes that occur during the performance of the young Violet, played with amazing depth by Audree Hedequist, and her father played by Michael Mendiola in a role filled with emotion that seems made to order for him. The two are beautiful to watch together and give the audience insight into how Violet’s strength was developed.
It would have been so easy for this play to have fallen into the story of a bitter young woman who is mad at the world for the bad hand she has been dealt, and the people who look at her and feel pity for her, but that is not how it goes.
Violet is tough and smart. Yes, she is angry and hurt, but at no time did I feel pity for her. I was sympathetic towards her, but I also recognized the amazing strength of her character. Flick does as well. Her father did a remarkable job giving her the tools to enable her to deal with life, which is conveyed in the number “Luck of the Draw”. The people Violet encounters on her trip learn as much from her as she does from them.
The musical score is breathtaking covering many genres including gospel, folk, rock, and country. It is hard to believe one composer could master so many different types of music. While all the numbers are outstanding I do have to make mention of “Let It Sing” performed by Dan Belnavis as Flick. His incredible voice fills the theater with emotion.
I would also note that the scenes with the faith healing preacher are played just right by John F. King who did not slip into parody, which would have been easy to do, but instead showed the human qualities of the man without diminishing him. It was not easy to do, but Mr. King got it right.
Again, see this play, you will not be disappointed. Violet will move you, touch you, and make you want to Let It Sing! What you see and hear will stay with you long after you experience this amazing production. Theatre is alive and well in Boston thanks to the SpeakEasy Production Company.
Photo Credit: Glenn Perry
Violet, playing through February 6th at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., Boston.617.933.8600