“King Elizabeth” at the Gamm (Pawtucket, RI)

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

The Gamm is doing a new version of Frederich Schiller’s “Mary Stewart” adapted and directed by Gamm Artistic Director Tony Estrella. While there are some slow moments in it, the acting is excellent and vibrant.

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“THE BEST OF EVERYTHING” (2nd Story Theatre)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

2nd Story Theatre’s latest show is “The Best of Everything”, by Julie Kramer is the adaptation of Rona Jaffe’s 1958 novel. It shows how young women were treated in a paperback publishing company when men ruled the roost. The lone female editor is 36 year old Miss Farrow. The original novel electrified women back then at a look at the lives of these five young women who are employees of this firm. This show captures the incisive look at the personal and professional struggles these women faced and at times still face.

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“GODSPELL” Barker Playhouse

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Players last show of their 108th season is “Godspell” with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak, originally opened Off-Broadway on May 17, 1971. It is the loose account of the life and death of Christ and is constructed as a continuous stream of stories, told through parables, many taken from the Gospel according to St. Matthew and St. Luke. The show lives on in the minds of many as one of the “hippie” musicals and is performed in two acts. Also Godspell is the Old English spelling of gospel. The show is sketch-like in nature and suited to improvisations and ad libs. The timeless message of “Godspell” has always been about finding your quiet, unshakeable faith amid a loud, very cold, very shallow modern world. Mike Farrelly picks 10 of the best performers for this show and elicits terrific performances from each and everyone of them. Musical director Ron Procopio not only taught the different style of songs to the cast but plays lead keyboard while conducting a three piece orchestra. Choreographer Michael Maio taught the different styles of dance to them including soft shoe, Charleston and jazz. Their combined efforts win them a standing ovation at the close of the show.<P>

The set for the show is by Patricia Cotoia while all the costumes are by Bob DeMattio. Ed Benjamin III stars as Jesus and is excellently cast in this role. One of Jesus’ most powerful numbers is “Alas for You” where the words “Alas, alas, alas for you! Blind Fools!!” which rings true today as it did back in biblical times as well as in 1970’s when the show was first written. Ed’s first song is “Save the People” where the cast dances around him. He also sings “Beautiful City” where he explains that he wants a city for all men. The Last Supper and the death scene are fabulously portrayed not leaving a dry eye in the house including mine. The opening philosophers section has beautiful harmonies in it and is wonderfully performed as they sing individual parts first and then later in harmony. Black and gray costumes are used for this opening segment and then brightly colored costumes are used for the rest of the show.

Michael always does an incredible job on any show that he directs. He gives all his performers their moment to shine in this high energy show. The first act is vaudevillian while the second act becomes more somber after “Turn Back O Man.” Samuel Gelman as John the Baptist sings “Prepare Ye” and later becomes Judas where he and Ed stop the show with “”All for the Best” done in counterpoint. “Day by Day” is given a lovely rendition by Trish St. Laurent with her powerful voice where the disciples learn to share with each other. Another fantastic group dance occurs as Bethany Lynn Giammarco belts out “Bless the Lord.”

A rousing number is “We Beseech Thee” with powerful vocals by Chris Margadonna and a dynamite dance by the cast. The betrayal scene is stunning, too. “By My Side” is a dynamic touching duet by Rebecca Kilcline and Stephanie Post. Stephanie also sings “Learn Your Lessons Well.” Ron Procopio sings the tear jerking “On the Willows” during the Last Supper as Jesus says goodbye to his followers which leaves the audience in tears. My favorite song in the show is “Turn Back O Man” sung excellently by Christy McCarthy as she tries to seduce the men in the audience as well as Jesus. “All Good Gifts” is sung by Tim Reid with his tenor voice soaring off the charts. Court Stafford sings “Light of the World” which closes the first act. “Long Live God” and “Prepare Ye” are done in counterpoint as Jesus is crucified. The show’s ending will leave you emotionally drained at its intensity but uplifted because Jesus left hope for the future. In these trying times who could ask for anything better for the world. So for a marvelous rendition of “Godspell”, be sure to catch this version at The Players. To join this 108 year old theatre club, just call Bill Applegate.

GODSPELL (12 to 21 May)

The Players, Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, Providence, RI

1(401)273-0590 or www.playersri.org

 

‘Barbecue’ Grills Up Layers of Comedy with a Slice of Commentary

By C.J. Williams

 

Written by Robert O’Hara; Directed by Summer Williams; Scenic Design by Jessica Pizzuti; Costume Design by Tyler Kinney; Lighting Design by Jen Rock; Sound Design by David Wilson. Presented by Lyric Stage Theater, 140 Clarendon St. Boston, MA.

 

“Barbecue”, the new comedy by Robert O’Hara currently being staged at the Lyric, dives right in. Into comedy, into the half-tragic, half-sidesplitting look at addiction in the O’Mallery family, and into a park where the team of dysfunctional characters are setting up for an intervention with their drug-and-alcohol-addled sister, Zippity Boom.

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“ART” (2nd Story Theatre, Warren, RI)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

2nd Story Theatre’s latest show is the 1998 Tony Award winning play, “Art.”  It is Yasmina Reza’s serio-comedy and is a sophisticated study of the nature of friendship. One of Marc’s best friends, Serge, has bought a very expensive painting: all white with white diagonal lines. As Marc and Serge argue about its value and the definition of “art,” another friend, Yvan is pulled into the fray. Soon the discussions become less theoretical and

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“SEUSSICAL” (Rhode Island College Theatre)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Rhode Island College Theatre’s closing show of their season is “Seussical, the Musical”, which creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. It reveals a world where anything is possible from an elephant in a tree, to a person too tiny to see, to a heroic child and dreams running wild. The show is a magical, musical world where helping a friend, never giving up and keeping a promise comes true.

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“THE GREAT GATSBY” (University of Rhode Island Theatre)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

URI’s closing show of their season is “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This classic novel has been adapted for the stage by Simon Levy, it remains the evocative story of the pursuit of wealth and romance in The Jazz Age of  the roaring 1920’s. Enigmatic self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby pursues the married, moneyed Daisy Buchanan as his party guests drink and Charleston their frenzied way through life at his opulent Long Island mansion.

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Theater Mirror Short Takes: “The Little Dog Laughed” & “Our American Hamlet”

by Mike Hoban

 

“The Little Dog Laughed” – Take Your Pick Productions

The Happy Medium Theater Company may have taken their final bow with last summer’s production of Ronan Noone’s “Brendan”, but HM founders Mikey DiLoreto and Audrey Lynn Sylvia have gotten off to a roaring start with their new company, Take Your Pick Productions, with a very funny and touching production of “The Little Dog Laughed” by Douglas Carter Beame.

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“Inherit the Wind” at Ocean State Theatre

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

“The current production of “Inherit the Wind” at Ocean State Theatre sparkled with dazzling performances, propelled by energy, sincerity and conviction. The play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, which debuted in 1955. The story fictionalizes the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial as a means to discuss the then-contemporary McCarthy trials.

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“INHERIT THE WIND” (Ocean State Theatre)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at Ocean State Theatre Company is one of the outstanding dramas of our time “Inherit the Wind” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. While this Tony Award winning play debuted in 1955, its story is as relevant today as it was then. It is a fictionalized account based on the Scopes monkey trial of 1925, when a Tennessee teacher was arraigned for reading passages from “On the Origins of Species” to his pupils. The teacher, Bertram Cates is a callow Darwinian. The real battle in this show is between the two counsels.

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