Tag Archives: Trinity Rep Providence

“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 

“Oklahoma!” At The Trinity Rep

 

Oh, What A Beautiful Production

This is an Okalahoma! not to be missed.

reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Charlie Thurston as Curly and Rachael Warren as Laurey (center) Photo by Mark Turek
Charlie Thurston as Curly and Rachael Warren as Laurey (center)
Photo by Mark Turek

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Okalahoma!, now playing at the Trinity Rep in Providence, RI is an outstanding production of one of the greatest musicals of all time. It is staged in an intimate atmosphere that along with the stage, includes three platforms that are placed among the audience, and where much of the cast spends time during the performance. It works beautifully.

From the moment Curly, played by the very talented Charlie Thurston, steps onto the stage to sing Oh, What A Beautiful Morning, you know this is going to be a joy to watch.

Mr. Thurston has a perfect voice for the role

Mr. Thurston has a perfect voice for the role and the acting ability to go with it. He is joined by Rachel Warren as Laurey, and they are wonderful together; you would think the roles were created for just them. They sparkle and hearing them sing is delightful.

Judd (Joe Wilson) and Curly (Charlie Thurston) Photo by Mark Turek
Judd (Joe Wilson) and Curly (Charlie Thurston)
Photo by Mark Turek

There is a dark side to Okalahoma! that is seen in the character of Judd Fry played by Trinity regular Joe Wilson, Jr. Mr. Wilson uses his excellent acting abilities to bring a humanity to a very dark figure in the play. I have not seen many productions of the play, but I do know that Joe was able to evoke sympathy from the audience for Judd, whom many will remember mostly as the evil creature portrayed by Rod Steiger in the movie version. With his subtle and pained expressions he brought a depth to a character that deserves to be better understood, and, in this version, is.

This is not, of course, a full scale Broadway production, but in many ways it is better. It does have an orchestra consisting of six musicians who are as good as any you will hear. They are on the mark throughout the play, and you couldn’t ask for more.

Rebecca Gibel as Ado Annie Carnes and Stephen Thorne as Ali Hakim Photo by Mark Turek
Rebecca Gibel as Ado Annie Carnes and Stephen Thorne as Ali Hakim
Photo by Mark Turek

The entire cast is nearly flawless. Janice Duclos as Aunt Eller conveys a strength of character and kindness. Stephen Thorne in the role of Ali Hakim keeps us smiling as the traveling salesman who is trying to avoid a shotgun wedding. Jude Sandy as Will Parker makes the audience feel like shouting to him as the character seems determined to keep making the wrong decisions. Jude is always just one step away from losing everything.

Finally, included in this great cast is Rebecca Gibel as Ado Annie.

Ms Gibel has talent, real talent.

Ms Gibel has talent, real talent.She is funny, sings beautifully, and can act. The way she conveys Annie’s pent up sexuality by using body tremors along with her facial expressions and absolutely entrancing eyes is just breathtaking. Oh, and she is funny, very funny. In a cast that is abundant with talent, Rebecca Gibel showed that she has what it takes to go far. I look forward to seeing her as she continues on what should be a marvelous career.

This is an Okalahoma! not to be missed. It is warm and intimate. It is full of life’s good and bad. Be good to yourself and travel the short distance to Providence to see this play. You will not be disappointed.

 

Directed and Choreographed by Richard and Sharon Jenkins

Playing through June 5th

Box Office: 401-351-4242 www.trinityrep.com

“The Heidi Chronicles”

At Trinity Rep, Providence, RI

Reviewed

by David Curcio

“Valuing happiness is not necessarily linked to greater happiness. In fact, under certain conditions, the opposite is true. Under conditions of low (but not high) life stress, the more people valued happiness… the higher their depressive symptoms.”*

In an interview with Vivienne Benesch, the director of The Heidi Chronicles at the Trinity Rep in Providence, she pulls an unusual quote, made by the main character, from a highly quotable play: “I’m afraid I haven’t been happy for some time.” With this line, Benesch reveals her vision of the play as a study in the search for happiness, with its backdrop of militant, idealistic second-wave feminism in the 1960s and 70s and the insufferable self-obsession of the 80s, when money rendered such ideals a lot less pressing.

Angela Brazil as Heidi Holland Photo Mark Turek
Angela Brazil as Heidi Holland
Photo Mark Turek

Heidi, played with blushing earnestness by Angela Brazil, is an art historian with a focus on arcane female painters from the Madonnas of the Renaissance to “the present day.” With her focus on the ways in which women portray themselves (and other women) through the ages, she seems to be looking for the ways these pictures of women in liminal moments – at once inviting us in while remaining slightly aloof – might reveal something about herself, and maybe they do. Like these woefully underrepresented artists and their subjects, Heidi is forever skirting the esprit de corps without fully engaging. Like Zelig, she’s a witness when it all goes down but never an active participant. From a college “Students for McCarthy” mixer to “Consciousness Raising” feminist retreats to baby showers in apartments on Central Park West and power lunches with her executive friends, Heidi remains an outsider.

Angela Brazil as Heidi Holland and Rachel Christopher as Susan Johnston Photo Mark Turek
Angela Brazil as Heidi Holland and Rachel Christopher as Susan Johnston
Photo Mark Turek

The looming question is why Wendy Wasserstein’s play, a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, is relevant today. For all of the (fantastic) cast’s enthusiasm, it feels a bit dusted off, and a dismal reminder of how little progress feminism has made. Director Benesch laments that “we will probably never be post-feminist,” and if we define post-feminist as a meaningful reaction against the contradictions and black-and-white thinking of the second-wave feminism of the sixties and seventies, or as the notion that second-wave feminism is so assimilated into our society we assume it has “won” (a phenomenon also referred to as Enlightened Sexism), she is at least partly right. Feminism as a movement is protean, with definitions and goals that are forever shifting with the political, financial and social climate of the day. With ongoing wage discrepancies, the dearth of women in executive positions, the all-out war on birth control, abortion and HPV vaccination, and a presidential frontrunner who attributes much-deserved criticism by a female journalist to her period, can this battle ever end, let alone be won?

Heidi art for webBut I think Heidi already knows this. As a woman who looks at paintings for a living, she sees the subtle shades of gray that compose the world, and her militant friends’ taunts “either you shave your legs or you don’t” demand self-definition based on arbitrary black-and-white thinking that Heidi cannot accept. Her two male friends, one a handsome, sensitive homosexual doctor and the other a philandering blowhard, represent the breadth of the male sex in Wasserstein’s universe: either a perfect but unattainable specimen or a (surprisingly ernest) scumbag who’s always up for a romp. She remains friends with them throughout the play’s span of twenty one years, but they show little change or growth. Peter is steady and compassionate, but ultimately a crushed cynic in the face of the AIDS epidemic. Scoop takes Heidi’s virginity at a college mixer and appears and reappears over the years with the same frequency as Peter – a friend perhaps, albeit one who forever wants to get in her pants just one more time despite his marriage. He’s played with a believable, endearing schmuckiness (if there is such a thing) by Mauro Hantman.

The idealism of the seventies caving to the self-absorption and financial highs of the eighties is embodied in Heidi’s friend Susan, a “lingerie burning” radical turned Hollywood Power exec. In an exclusive restaurant where Diane Keaton is dining a few tables away, she tells her lunch companions, “Equal rights is one thing. Equal pay is one thing. But winning because you’re a woman is something else!” And with that kind of dough, who has time to think about equality? The shift from idealism to self-absorption begs the question: were Heidi’s peers this shallow all along, and does money just allow them to embrace it?

As I sat in the theater I wondered what the intended audience might be. Vivienne Benesch says that “any play with this many funny, smart women can be an eye-opener for men.” A bit of condescension from the director – as a man, it should sting, but it doesn’t. Just what kind of bimbos does Benesch think us men hang out with? While executed seamlessly, the production is ultimately a nostalgia piece for the baby-boomer set, who can first have a good laugh at the funny ways they dressed and then a serious reflection on whether their lofty ideals were really attained.

The brilliant, spare sets and one thousand percent believable costumes (by Lee Savage and Tracy Christensen respectively), and the charismatic, wholly believable performances across the board were not enough to save this production from its worn material. Happiness, Heidi’s ever-elusive ideal, is presented in the play as life’s greatest of mysteries. It is therefore apposite to paraphrase Heidi’s friend Scoop, the jagoff philanderer, who provides Heidi with the maxim that if one aims for a six out of ten in life, there will be no disappointments. It is when one shoots for the ten that things get depressing and despair can set in. The play’s ending shows Heidi as a single mother. Is this a cop out? Does it perpetuate the notion that only by having children will a woman be happy, or does it acknowledge a genuine, biological maternal instinct, the fulfillment of which brings meaning to this life of an observer? Scoop might ask if this a six or a ten, and I wondered the same. But did feminism ever address the key to individual happiness, and does Heidi’s motherhood provide satisfactory closure to these twenty nine years? Sadly, it translates more as an admission that the progress we were hoping for never really happened and that hopefully the next generation will fix it.

*From Can seeking happiness make people unhappy? Paradoxical effects of valuing happiness.

by Iria B. Mauss, Maya Tamir, Craig L. Anderson, and Nicole S. Savino, Nicole S. in

Emotion, Vol 11(4), Aug 2011.

The Heidi Chronicles is playing at the Trinity Rep in Providence through January 3rd. www.trinityrep.com