“TOMFOOLERY” (Pawtucket Community Players)

“TOMFOOLERY”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Community Players’ third show of their 96th season is “Tomfoolery”. “Tomfoolery” is a musical comedy revue of the witty, wicked and thoroughly twisted world of famed satirical songwriter, Tom Lehrer. In concerts, TV appearances and a series of now-classic recordings, the Harvard-educated math professor delighted millions of fans during the 50’s and 60’s with his dry, cynical but good humored attacks on the A-bomb, racism, pollution, the military, the boy scouts and, of course, mathematics. Nothing is sacred in this revue where no one is spared. Lee Rush picks a topnotch 6 member cast while Maria Day taught them all the tongue twisting and comic lyrics. Bill Whitehead supplies the dance steps needed to pull off this clever and fun filled musical revue.

This show can be compared to “Laugh-In” or “Saturday Night Live” where one of the performers describes what is happening in the next number of this 28 song revue. The talented cast members are Ken McPherson, Paul Oliver, Chris Margadonna, Alyce Hagopian, Vivian Carrette and Michael Thurber. Lee gives them clever shtick to perform as they are huddled around a bar onstage left while the four piece orchestra is onstage right. The ensemble numbers are “Be Prepared”, a send up of the Boy Scout’s motto, “National Brotherhood Week” where everyone hates everyone else, “Christmas Carol” where they sing about the commercialism of the holiday, the peppy “Vatican Rag” where they are dressed up as nuns and the final number is a spoof of what will happen during World War III with “We Will All Go Together When We Go” which ends the show with a big bang. Since there are so many numbers, I will mention a few highlights. “She’s My Girl” a torch song by Chris where he sings about everything that is wrong with his girlfriend while Michael sings “The Elements” to the tune of Modern Major General by Gilbert and Sullivan. Alyce’s comic number is “In Old Mexico” about a bullfight gone wrong while Vivienne’s is “I Got It From Agnes” where you think she is talking about a virus being passed among them but it ends up being a giant lollipop. Paul’s comic number is “I Hold Your Hand in Mine” while Ken’s is “The Masochism Tango” where he describes all the torturous things he’d like done to him. Also funny is the comic never ending “The Irish Ballad” about a girl killing her family while the most well known song is “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” which opens the show. Maria has some clever and funny ad libs with the cast and audience. She will be playing Mrs. Paroo in “The Music Man” at Theatre by the Sea this summer. So for a fun filled musical revue that will leave you laughing all night long, be sure to catch “Tomfoolery” at Community Players.

TOMFOOLERY (25 March to 9 April)

Community Players, Jenks Auditorium, 350 Division Street, Pawtucket, RI

1(401)726-6860 or www.thecommunityplayers.net

 

 

“SISTER ACT” (Company Theatre)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Company Theatre’s current musical is “Sister Act”, the international smash hit musical based on the mega-hit, 1992 film that starred Whoppi Goldberg. Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman spare no expense in bringing the highest quality productions and the highest quality of talent to this historic theatre and this one is another feather in their cap. When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in one place that cops think she can’t be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun,

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“AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY” (Little Theatre of Fall River)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Little Theatre of Fall River’s current main stage show is “August Osage County” by Tracy Letts. The show won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize as well as five Tony Awards. It takes place in August, 2007 in a large country home outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It tells the story of the dysfunctional Weston family who all come together after the disappearance of Beverly Weston, the patriarch. The father opens the show when he is hiring an Indian woman, Johanna to look after his wife. He is a published poet who likes to quote T.S. Eliot. He delivers these ominous words “My wife takes pills and I drink. That is the bargain we have reached” which opens the gates to the adventure and whirlwind journey that the audience takes in this three act play. The couple’s three daughters, Barbara, Ivy and Karen are called back to the family home with husbands and beaus with them. Beverly’s wife, Violet is battling mouth cancer and a growing dependency on pain pills. They return to comfort their mother in her time of need and to try to get to the bottom of their father’s disappearance. Violet’s entire clan returns including her sister, Mattie Faye Aiken, her husband, Charles and their son, Little Charles. As the clan bickers and jokes, old truths come to the surface, jealousies flourish and eventually each one of the characters confront some past hurt and future fear. The moment as each one leaves Violet, is a marvelous moment in this show. It can be likened to Regina’s fate at the end of “The Little Foxes” when her daughter leaves her alone with her ill gotten gain of money. However this one is heard in the 21st Century. Director Roberto Soares casts these roles beautifully and obtains stunning performances from each one of them in this dramedy.

Leading this cast is Linda Monchik as Violet. Violet is an evil mom too end all evil moms, done with black comic moments thrown in the mix. She is excellent in this riveting role. The lesson to learn from these characters is you better be a good person or you’ll end up tasting your own poisonous venom. Her insults and running rough shod over the other characters is splendid to behold. The sordid secrets of the family come tumbling out wonderfully. Other colorful characters include Ron Caisse as Beverly, who delivers a strong monologue to start off the show as well as Violet’s strong willed daughters. Pamela Morgan is a powerhouse as Barbara. She delivers a tour-de-force performance. Her argument scene with her mother, husband, Bill and sisters are show stopping moments. These scenes are mesmerizing with their intensity. Michael McGill does a great job as Bill who tries to help his ex-wife with her problems with her dysfunctional family. Another impressive scene is the battle between Violet and Barbara about who will control the family. Violet needs Barbara’s help in Act 1 but then continually insults her in Act 2. Barbara finally puts her in her place in the dinner from hell sequence. It tells of the cruelty of family life but sometimes some kindness is thrown into the mix.

Erica Vitelli plays the youngest daughter, Ivy who has lived near her parents all her life. Now she wants to run off with Little Charles but there is a dark hidden secret that might explode at any moment. The argument scene between Linda, Pam and Erica is riveting and electrifying. Kathleen Povar plays the sexpot sister, Karen very well. She is engaged to Steve, a handsome cad in sheep’s clothing who tries to seduce her 14 year old niece, Jean. Strong performances are given in these roles by Ray Almeida Jr. as Steve and Shauna Brosky as Jean. Other amazing performers include Jay Burke as Charles who delivers a terrific speech to tell off his wife from insulting their son, the biggest scene stealer is Deb Sadler as Mattie Faye who delivers her many hilarious one liners perfectly and has a hidden secret that rocks the family with high intensity and Jeffrey Griffin as Little Charles who loves Ivy. Rounding out the cast are Nadine Goulet as Johanna and Richard Brosky as the Sheriff. So for a stunning, well written and provocative black comedy, be sure to catch “August Osage County” at Little Theatre of Fall River. It will definitely make you appreciate your own family after witnessing this messed up one. This electrifying show wins a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the night.  A word of praise for the stunning three story set designed by Roberto and built by George Sadler and his crew. Run do not walk to the box office before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY (16 to 19 March)

Little Theatre of Fall River, BCC, 777 Elsbree St, Fall River, MA

1(508)675-1852 or www.littletheatre.net

“ROMEO AND JULIET” (Community Theater)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Players fourth show of their 108th season is “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. It is considered to be one of the greatest works of romantic literature. Written in 1591, it is a story of deep passions which come out as lover or violence, the tragic tale soars with the poetry of heartbreak and doomed but perfect love. It can also been seen as a contemporary play with gang violence, emotionally absent parents, generation gap frustrations, reckless youth, unbridled passion and torrid romantic love. Director Roger Lemelin casts his show splendidly and blends the comic and dramatic moments together marvelously, too.

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“Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre

By Richard Pacheco

 

“Shirley Valentine” is a one-character play by Willy Russell. Taking the form of a monologue by a middle-aged, working class Liverpool housewife, it focuses on her life before and after a transforming holiday abroad. Russell turned the acclaimed play into a film staring the actress who did the show on stage in London’s West End, Pauline Collins.

 

The current production at 2nd Story offers a bravura performance by Joanne Fayan that bristles, sparkles and delights without hesitation and without stop.

 

Shirley is stuck in her life, caught and trapped in the dull day to day in Liverpool. There seems to be no escape from her doldrums which daily encroach on her and only leave her with faded dreams and lost hopes, in short leave her in a dismal state longing for more. Shirley finds herself regularly alone and talking to the wall while preparing an evening meal of egg and chips for her emotionally distant husband. Her friend whose husband left her for the milkman, offers to take her along on a trip to Greece, all expenses paid and Shirley can’t resist. Her two children often annoy and distress her with their attitudes and antics. Her husband is often distant and self-absorbed leaving her feeling trapped with no way out of her dilemma, which only seems to get worse everyday.

So when she heads off to Greece she does with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Here is a chance to revive herself and her life to reconnect with the Shirley Valentine who was bold and daring and tamed down when she became a wife, misplacing her sense of daring and love of life. In Greece, she is ignites in her love of life and herself once again, reviving her sense of daring and adventure, stirring her courage once again.

Joanne Fayan is raw delight in the role. She is poised and astute in her depiction of Shirley’s conflicting fees and dreams. She has personality that she exudes without fail. When she rants about her husband and her disappointments, it is comic gems, delivered with the right mixture so sassy and smart. The only thing missing from the performance is a Liverpool accent and frankly with this kind of gem of a performance, that is minimal and better no accent that a horrid one. Fayan’s performance makes up for this with a zest and convincing passion that illuminates the stage.

Mark Peckham directs with a sureness of touch and real energy, which takes full advantage of the theater in the round set up at 2nd Story’s upstairs theatre. He moves her with grace and supple confidence throughout the space, a sheer delight.

The setting and light design by Max Ponticelli is right on the mark evoking both the Liverpool flat and the Greek ruins with discrete and slight touches that work perfectly.

This is a bold and superb performance that shimmers with verve and personality, leaving an indelible mark in the memory and the heart. Ms.Fayan got a well deserved standing ovation at the end for her memorable performance. You don’t want to miss it.

It will be presented again until April 2in the Upstage theater with tickets: Regular – $35, Preview (online) – $20, Preview (phone/in-person) – $25. Under 25 – $25* Matinees are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday matinees at 2:30.

“Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

2nd Story Theatre’s current show is “Shirley Valentine”, a comedy by Willy Russell. Inside Mrs. Joe Bradshaw, a 42 year old mother of two grown children, is the former Shirley Valentine longing to get out. Her schoolgirl dreams have faded and she is reduced to talk to the kitchen wall while preparing her husband’s evening meal. It is to be on the table at the same time every night as he opens the front door. Her feminist friend, Jane offers her a trip to Greece, and with great trepidation, Shirley seizes the opportunity and goes, to encounter a totally new lifestyle there. This one person show contains humor, pathos, warm sympathy and human insight. It contains a tour de force performance by Joanne Fayan in the title role who captures the essence of this character perfectly. The whole audience rose to their feet at the end of her phenomenal performance. Brava!

Director Mark Peckham cast the right person for this role and elicits a stunning, multilayered performance from Joanne. He blends the comic and dramatic moments together splendidly. The show takes place in two acts. The first is set in a kitchen in Liverpool, England and the second is set on a secluded Greek island beach with a taverna. The sets by Max Ponticelli are superb. In the first act Shirley tells the problems of her life to the kitchen wall while drinking a glass of wine during scene one. The Nativity story with her son as Joseph is hilarious. In scene two, she tells the wall that she has decided to take the trip without telling her husband while running around getting ready to leave. She wants life beyond the wall and her neighbor gives a silk robe to take with her on her trip. The second act reveals how Shirley has become a free spirit again while recapturing her long lost youth. Shirley realizes it is what you want to do that is more important than what you have to do. Joanne runs the gamut of emotions in this role, keeping your attention during the whole 86 page script. She is absolutely brilliant in this role, making this one of the must see shows of this season. So for a powerhouse one woman show, be sure to catch “Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you.

SHIRLEY VALENTINE (10 March to 2 April)

2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market St, Warren, RI

1(401)847-4200 or www.2ndstorytheatre.com

 

“URINETOWN” (Bristol Theatre Company)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Bristol Theatre Company’s current show is “Urinetown” which won three Tony Awards in 2002. “Urinetown” is set in the future where a drought of epic proportions has forced corrupt officials to come up with a unique way to conserve water: people may only use public restrooms and they must pay for the privilege. Fed-up citizens take to the streets, but those breaking the law are carted off to the mysterious “Urinetown” never to be seen or heard from again. The satirical musical pokes fun at and sends up “The Threepenny Opera”, “Annie”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “West Side Story” and the Gershwin romances simultaneously. Director Chris Plonka casts all these roles beautifully and infuses the show with high energy from start to finish. He also brings out the light hearted side and brings the much needed tongue in cheek humor it deserves. Diane Campagna creates all the dance steps which spoofs the other shows wonderfully while musical director, Mario Sasso supplies the topnotch musical direction to pull off this unique and funny show.

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“CAROUSEL” (Swanhurst Chorus’ 23rd Annual Dinner Theater)

“CAROUSEL”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Swanhurst Chorus’ 23rd Annual Dinner Theater musical is “Carousel” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Based on the play “Liliom”, this show takes place in a small New England fishing village in Maine between 1873 and 1888. The tale revolves around the love affair between Billy Bigelow, a traveling carnival man and Julie Jordan, a local factory worker. They end up getting and after learning he is to become a father, Billy kills himself in a botched robbery.

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Wheelock’s ‘Billy Elliott’ – the Next Best Thing to Broadway

 

By Michele Markarian

 

Billy Elliott the Musical, Music by Elton John, Book and Lyrics by Lee Hall. Directed by Susan Kosoff. Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA, through February 26.

 

This winter, you can take Amtrak or the GoBus to New York City to see one of the many fabulous musicals there that grace Broadway. Or you can make it easy on yourself by taking the D line to Wheelock Family Theatre to catch “Billy Elliott the Musical”. You won’t be disappointed.  From the sets to the choreography to the exceptional cast, “Billy Elliott” is a show that should not be missed.

 

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“Thriller of the Year” at Theatre One

 

By Richard Pacheco

Theatre One finishes its season with a production of Glyn Jones’ “Thriller of the Year,” a play about a thriller writer who suddenly finds her life in jeopardy after winning a major award find a copy of her latest award winning book has been delivered with no note and no indication as to who it is from.

As the evening unfolds, when a series of unfortunate accidents occur, she soon finds out why: someone is trying to kill her using methods from her own book. Will she be able to discover the identity of the murderer before it is too late, using her novel to stay one step ahead; she finally comes face to face with the murderer. In the last chapter of her book how did her heroine die? And will Gillian suffer the same fate!

Jones, was a South African writer who also wrote for Dr. Who which he not only wrote for but acted in several times.

 

The cast is strong and energetic. The have a solid chemistry between them and real verve. The award-winning writer, Gillian Howard, is played by Susan Salveston. Howard is smug, self-satisfied with her own importance and more than a bit of a bully. She likes to get her way at any and all costs, from anyone around her from her publisher to her assistant, her doctor to her soon to be former mother-in-law. None of them really matter in her universe unless they contribute to her goals and succumb to her wishes. Salveston handles it all with verve and aplomb, making the nastiness delicious and entertaining as she goes about verbally abusing people at her whim.

Holly Christian Cipriani is her publisher, Irene Knight, the woman who put Howard on the map in the writing world and now must endure Howard’s relentless attacks and threats to find another publisher for her next book. She likes her alcohol, and indulges in it liberally at the apartment, particularly when Howard is on the attack, knowing full well Howard is not suppo0swed to drink for health reasons. Cipriani is energetic and bold in the role, a solid presence fully able ton confront the rampaging Howard.

Vanessa Lima is Madge Robinson, Howard’s assistant and for all practical purposes indentured servant. Madge has a growing discontent with her job and her boss an wonders about leaving to find greener pastures in the job market. Madge is very efficient and has contributed a lot behind the scenes to Howard’s success, perhaps even adding something to her acclaimed novel, more than just typing it. She has an underlying resentment against her boss that is well justified. Lima is excellent in the role, a mixture of submission and self confidence in her abilities and contributions to her boss that is appealing and effective.

Elizabeth Goulart is the dedicated and determined Beryl Spence, Howard’s doctor at her beckon call. She is smart, dedicated and determined to be the most supportive doctor, even making house calls in the wee hours of the morning. She often battles Howard over health choices like drinking brandy. Goulart has a smart presence as the doctor. She is poised and in control at all times even faced with Howard’s often bombastic and relentless assaults on her and her advice. Goulart handles it all with confidence and conviction.

Finally there is Howard’s soon to be ex mother-in-law, Edith Howard who longs for Gillian to get back with her son and often hints very obviously in that direction. Edith is genuinely concerned and a bit of a meddler to achieve her goal of getting her son and Gillian back together again. She is not obnoxious it her quest, just very obvious. Linda Merritt is Edith. She is meek yet determined in her quest and she handles the role with sincerity and warmth. She is convincing.

Together this ensemble evokes a sense of impending doom, which mounts as the play progresses. All this under the sure and firm direction of Peg Holzemer, which keeps it all directly on track to build suspense and concern as the tension mounts.

The set by John Marzelli offers a fine sense of upper class presence with paintings on the wall and furniture.

All these elements offer a fun quest for a murder and mayhem as it all closes in and you wonder who is out to kill Gillian and why. It comes as a surprise which I will not spoil.

It will be presented again March 10 & 17, and Saturday evenings March 11 & 18 at 7:30pm. Sunday afternoons March 12 & March 19, at 2pm. Tickets are $20 for general admission, and $18 for seniors and students cash only at the door. We collect food donations at all our performances for the Middleboro COA Senior Pantry. Come join the fun with Theatre One, bringing a little bit of Broadway to your backyard. Info 1-774-213-5193.