Tuesday, May 15, 2007


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com

Subject: Quicktake - "Parade" by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown

Date: Mon, May 14, 11:12 PM

Quicktake on PARADE

     Speakeasy is ending their season with Boston's first professional production of Uhry and Brown's Tony winning "Parade", a large cast music drama based on Alfred Uhry's book. He's better remembered for another modern classic, "Driving Miss Daisy." Jason Robert Brown is better known for his quasi-autobiographical reversed order romance, "The Last Five Years" which Speakeasy also produced plus his revue, "Songs for a New World." Director Paul Daigneault has assembled a impressive cast of 29 musical actors to recount the fate of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory superintendent from Brooklyn, who managed his father-in-law's factory in Atlanta in 1913. He was falsely accused of raping one of his young female employees, sentenced to hang. When the governor commuted this sentence, citing faults with his trial, a mob lynched Frank. The real murderer, presumed in this retelling to be a black janitor who testified against Frank at his trial, was never tried.

     Produced at Lincoln Center by Hal Prince, "Parade" had a disappointing first run, but has since found a place in the ongoing development of American Musical theatre. The principal cast members are two Speakeasy favorites, Brendan McNab, seen in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," as well as last fall's "See What I Wanna See," and Norton winner Bridget Beirne, who played Queenie in their production of La Chieusa's "The Wild Party." Also prominent is Timothy John Smith, recent IRNE winner from Lyric's "1776." as a local reporter who seizes on the case as his chance at fame. Paul D. Farwell plays both the through character of a Confederate veteran, and sickly Judge Roan. Austin Lesch, seen regularly locally and just in from the national tour of "Altar Boys: opens the show as confederate soldier when young, singing "The Old Red Hills of Home," something of a theme for the piece. Edward M. Barker is the rascally janitor. There are also first rate performances from local music theatre regulars. David Krinnit is the suave and unpricipled prosecutor,Dorsey, while Terrence O'Malley is the "dancing governor", Slaton. Gerald Slattery doubles as the local barkeep and Frank's "good old boy" lawyer, Luther Rosser. Brett Cramp is Tom Watson, a local firebrand preacher and anti-Semite, who joins forces with the prosecution. Speakeasy veteran Kerry A. Dowling, seen this fall in "The Women" is affecting as the victim's mother, Mrs. Phagan.

     The show's design by Eric Levenson is an elegant unit set which efficiently suggests the various locales required. Stacy Stephen's period costumes, including numerous changes, give a real sense of pre-WWI Atlanta, trying to make its way into the 20th century, still very much "olde South." IRNE winner Karen Perlow provides the necessary flexible lighting design. Changes of set pieces and furniture are handled a vista by the ensemble with admirable dispatch. Jose Delgado conducts a an ample pit orchestra with fellow IRNE winner Paul S. Katz at the keyboard. Don't let this "Parade" pass you by.

"Parade" by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown, May 12 - June 16

Speakeasy Stage Co. at Roberts Studio, Calderwood

BCA, 529 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Wild Party

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com

Subject: Quicktake - "The Wild Party" by Andrew Lippa

based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March

Date: Wed, May 11:59 PM

Quicktake on THE WILD PARTY

     Those with fond memories of Speakeasy's production of Michael John LaChiusa's version of "The Wild Party" a few season's back are liable to be slightly disappointed in Andrew Lippa's approach to the same material. Not that the New Rep's current production just could be the sharpest and most energetic small music theatre presentation of the season, but that Lippa's one-man show (book, music, and lyrics) seems something of a pastiche. He's tried to meld the jazz and music theatre sounds of the Roaring '20s with contemporary styles with mixed results. He's also concentrated on four principal characters, leaving the rest of Moncure's menagerie mostly as background. None of the four are particularly well motivated.

     First there's Queenie, the archetypical blonde nightclub dancer, played Marla Mindelle, the center of most of the numbers, bored after three years living with Burrs, a vaudeville clown with a dark side. Burrs gives Todd Alan Johnson, seen as Mac the Knife previously at the New Rep a chance to play full-throttle. The other woman, who shows up for the party is Kate, a nightclub singer and old friend, played by Sarah Corey, who appeared in "Caroline or Change" as Mother, with an agenda to break things up. She's accompanied by Black, played by Maurice E. Parent, seen last season as Coalhouse in "Ragtime." He and Queenie hit it off, Sarah vamps Burrs, and tragedy ensues. But the major motivation behind it all seems to be terminal boredom, not a particularly dramatic emotion.

     The rest of the characters are given somewhat short shrift, though Leigh Barrett as Madeline True, Lesbian, has the show's most memorable number, the solo "An Old Fashioned Love Story." Jake Mosser and Ilyse Robbins as Eddie the Prizefighter and Mae, his diminutive partner, have their own musical hall number, "Two of a Kind" but no plot, and Phil the Broadway producer, played by Brian De Lorenzo, is really just part of the ensemble. Director Rick Lombardo has assembled a fine ensemble and choreographer Kelli Edwards generates a lot of erotic heat from them, with the help of Betsy Adkins and Ilyse Robbins as Dance Captains. One could only wish that all this talent had stronger material to work with, It's a show certainly worth watching, there are effective and challenging musical moments, masterfully handled by music director Todd C. Gordon, but the aftermath isn't a hangover, but rather like a large dinner of Chinese takeout where everyone ordered their favorites, a lot got sampled, but the result wasn't particularly satisfying. The ending is typical of this problem. When Queenie, whose world has crashed around her, should be waiting for the cops, she sings a rather moralizing power ballad and exits into the night. End of show.

     The design for "The Wild Party" is uniformly superb with a mirror filled set by IRNE winner Janie E. Howland, spot-on period costumes by IRNE winner Frances Nelson McSherry, and effective contemporary lighting by Franklin Meissner, Jr. Properties by Erik D. Diaz and a number of small movable pieces, notably the brass bed and the bathroom give a sense of Queenie and Burrs' hermetic world. All that's lacking is the author's dramatic focus, despite the best efforts of all involved. Sometimes you can't have everything. Incidentally, the New Rep is adding a summer show this year. Leigh Barrett, Andrew Giordano, and Maryann Zschau are doing "Side by Side by Sondheim" July 7 - 22 on the Arsenal Mainstage. That'll be something.

"The Wild Party" by Andrew Lippa, April 25 - May 20
New Repertory Theatre at Arsenal Center for the Arts

321 Arsenal St. Watertown MA, (617) 923 - 8487
New Rep

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Flu Season

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com

Subject: Quicktake - "The Flu Season" by Will Eno

Date: Sun, Apr 29, 10:31 PM

Quicktake on THE FLU SEASON

     Whistler in the Dark, which has performed previously at the Charlestown Working Theater--and no doubt will do so again--is currently presenting the Boston premiere of post-modern playwright Will Eno's "The Flu Season." over in Watertown. The Black Box space opened officially last fall with the New Rep's production of Eno's more recent "Thom Pain (based on nothing), a monodrama performed by Diego Arciniegas. Eno's earlier play has a cast of six, two omnipresent as the Prologue and the Epilogue, whose commentary frames the action. Prologue is Ed Hoopman, who recently completed a run as Hamlet for the New Rep's school tour, while the acerbic Epilogue is Jennifer O'Connor, one of Whistler's Artistic Associates and Company Manager of the Imaginary Beasts from Lynn for which she last played a Dromio.

    The storyline concerns the Man, played by Nael Nacer and the Woman, done by Meghan Newsmith. Both are newcomers at a residential mental health facility, where they interact, barely, with the Doctor, done by David LeBahn, and the Nurse, Shelley Brown, two rather superficial professionals. There's an air of autobiography about the situation, which may simply be Eno's way with words and fervid imagination. A somewhat predictable plot takes a little too long to unfurl, but director Ben Fainstein and the cast hold the audience's attention.

     The various locales around the sanitarium are indicated by a few movable pieces of furniture and Andrew Dickey's area lighting. The tragedy of the Woman is largely due to the lack of affect on the part of the Man. No one's past is really much explored; this is very much a play in the present. Whistler in the Dark has previous presented works from the world stage. With this effort by Eno they come to these shores (Brooklyn), but will open next fall with another Howard Barker enigma "A Hard Heart." Before then we may see some local writing at the second "Fever Fest," this time to be presented at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center Aug. 23 - 25. Imaginary Beasts will be doing a show based Lorca's puppet pieces about "Don Cristobal and Sena Rosita," Aug 9 through 18 at the Arsenal Black Box. Both companies are outstanding examples of the new wave of Boston's theatre Fringe. By the way, the title of this piece may refer to the winter season during which the action unfolds. Or it may not. With Will Eno you never know.

"The Flu Season" by Will Eno, Apr. 27 - May 5

Whistler in the Dark at Downstage Black Box, Arsenal Center for the Arts

321 Arsenal St. Watertown MA, (617) 923 - THTR
Whistler in the Dark

Monday, April 30, 2007


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com

Subject: Quicktake - "Secret Garden" by Marsha Norman & Lucy Simon

from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Date:Sat, April 28, 1:21 PM

Quicktake on SECRET GARDEN

     Turtle Lane is closing their season with one of the best shows the company has done in a while. Director Michelle M. Aguillon has assembled an ensemble of voices which can handle Simon’s harmonies and Norman’s lyrics, and act as well. Music director Wayne Ward gets the best out of this well-trained group. The design team of Michelle Boll and John MacKenzie has met the show’s scenic requirements with a combination of well-painted scenery and effective projected backgrounds. Robert Itzcak’s costumes suit the period and mood, giving a final touch to this Victorian Gothic romance.

    While not a children’s show “The Secret Garden” is family friendly, as the plucky orphan, Mary Lennox peserveres against her uncle’s depression and his brother’s frustration. Hannah Grace Horsely captures the role and has enough of a voice for the music. Likewise Benjamin Hirsh as her supposedly sickly cousin, Colin. James Fitzpatrick is convincing as his father, as is Michael Goodwin as his doctor uncle. Elizabeth Robinson is luminous as his mother Lily, who died bearing, while Anne Velthouse is in good form as her sister, Mary’s mother, who died, along with her father, in India. It should be noted that more than half the cast are ghosts or “dreamers” as the program has it. Among the living, Michelle Mount makes a fine perky housemaid and Gary Ryan does well as her fey brother. Both were coached in their Yorkshire accents by James Tallach, who plays the old gardener, Ben Weatherstaff.

     Turtle Lane in Newton near the pike has once again proved its worth to the local music theatre community. The show runs through Jun. 3rd with some cast rotations.

"Secret Garden" by Marsha Norman & Lucy Simon Apr 27-June 3

Turtle Lane Playhouse

263 Melrose St. Auburndale MA, (617) 244 - 0169
Turtle Lane

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com

Subject: Quicktake - "Valhalla" by Paul Rudnick

Date: Sun, Apr 22, 2007 9:41 PM

Quicktake on VALHALLA

     Paul Rudnick is perhaps best known to the general theatre-goer as the author of "I Hate Hamlet". Several of his more overtly gay-themed plays has attracted notice. But "Valhalla", a sprawling attempt to weave the tale of mad Ludwig of Bavaria, whose monuments to history (late 19th Century) are the fairty-tale castle which inspired the one at Disneyland and funding Wagner's Opera House at Bayreuth with the career of a ne'er-do-well, James Avery from East Texas during the '30s, is a misshapen farce burdened with a two and one-half hour script with about one hour's too many "laugh-riot" one-liners

     The play doesn't create much sympathy for any of its characters, who number almost two dozen leaving the two leads, Ludwig (Brian Quint) and James (Jon Ferreria) focused on themelves and their pursuit of ineffable "beauty." The only semi-rounded character is IRNE winner Christopher Michael Brophy, as Henry Lee Stafford, James' sexually confused friend. The rest of the six actor ensemble includes Theater Coop veteran Maureen Adduci, who plays mostly Ludwig's mother but ends the show as tour leader, Natalie Kippelbaum, Elisa MacDonald who plays most of the princesses and Henry's wife whom James seduces (of course) and co-director Rick Park who plays Ludwig's various functionaries.

    The cast tries hard--often to little avail--but when a character is onstage for only a few minutes and the actor has to exit swiftly to make the next costume change, there's no much hope for more than a superficial sketch. Seth Bodie's costume assembly does the job but has a certain dress-up quality. Co-director David J. Miller's set is a bland unit with one end of the Black Box indicating Bavaria, the other Texas, neither particularly distinguished. The action thus has a lot in common with a tennis match. Jeff Adelberg's lighting helps and Walter Eduardo provides all the cuts from Wagner selected by Reinhold Mahler. But a play never really emerges.

"Valhalla" by Paul Rudnick, Apr.

Zeitgeist Stage Co. at BCA Black Box

539 Tremont, (617) 933 - 8600


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Winnie the Pooh

From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com

Subject: Quicktake - "Winnie the Pooh" adapted from A.A.Milne by Kristin Seigel

Date: Saturday, April 14, 2007

Quicktake on WINNIE the POOH

     The Wheelock Family Theatre is taking children of all ages back to the Hundred Aker Wood for Spring break. Harold Withee, last seen as George W. in Zeitgeist effective "Stuff Happens," has the title role. Several other regulars, including Ricardo Engermann as Rabbit, Mansur as Eyore, Marina Re as Owl, and Grace Napier as Kanga complete the adult cast. Young Grace Brakeman is an energetic Piglet and Sirena Abalian hops along as Roo. A.Minh-Anh Day is Christopher Robin, who's the leader of a group of Narrators who lead into the story. The script is acceptable, but doesn't quite capture the charm of A.A.Milne's work.

     The stuffed animal costumes by Charles Baldwin come closer but a very much old-school children's theatre, as is Harwich's James P. Byrne's direction. The large ensemble and the leading players come together on his set and the show is satisfatory for the younger set as an introduction to live theatre. Incidentally, Tigger, played by W. Yvonne Murphy bounced in the the finale.

"Winnie the Pooh" adapted from A.A.Milne by Kristin Seigel, Apr. 13 - May 13

Wheelock Family Theatre

200 The Riverway , (617) 879 - 2300

Thursday, April 12, 2007


From: "will stackman" profwlll@yahoo.com

Subject: Quicktake - "Persephone" by Noah Haidle

Date: Wed, April 11, 10:44 PM

Quicktake on PERSEPHONE

     The world premiere of Noah Haidle's "Persephone", read last spring as part of the HTC's Breaking Ground series owes its success as much to the author's cleverness and Nicholas Martin's apt direction as to a stunning performance by Melinda Lopez as the statue of Demeter, the main character in the piece. Through voice and very limited movement, Lopez creates a witty and believable Earth-mother, mightily dismayed by the world from which she cannot look away. The second half of the play, set in a Manhattan park circa 2007, is full of Durang-like non-sequitor and urban violence, the first in a sculptors studio in 1507 Florence; both handsome designs by David Korins.

    All the various parts in the piece are played by a trio of actors, led off by Jeremiah Kissel, who appears as the sculptor's patron in Act 1, plus a laid-back harpist and a starving mouse. The sculptor, Guiseppe, is done by Seth Fisher; his model is Mimi Lieber. Each actor then plays innumerable walkons with Kissel memorable as a art-loving Rat in Act 2. Their reappearence in various guises underscores human--and animal--transience against Demeter eternal marble form. The play is full of surprizes, many of them unpleasant, but overall, it comes off as a rather dystopian and fantastic tragicomedy. Haidle has revived a species of drama not seen much since immediately after WWII and previously in the '20s. Let's hope he doesn't become "the next big thing." This summer, Company One will be mounting his "Mr. Marmalade" which made quite a splash for Roundabout in 2005.

"Persephone" by Noah Haidle, Mar. 30 - May 6

Huntington Theatre Co. at BCA Wimberley

527 Tremont, (617) 266 - 0800