ANNIE, (Pawtucket Community Players)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The first show of The Community Players 97th season is “Annie” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. This show is based on Harold Gray’s comic strip Little Orphan Annie, it won 7 Tony Awards and ran for 2,377 performances. With a combination of street smarts and optimism, Annie rises from next to nothing in 1930’s New York. She is determined to find her parents, who left her in the orphanage years ago in the clutches of the evil Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other orphans, Annie manages to foil Hannigan’s greedy plans and find a family with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his secretary, Grace and Annie’s lovable dog, Sandy. It has insightful direction by Brian Mulvey, topnotch music direction by Ron Procopio who plays lead keyboards and conducts a 7 piece orchestra and some energetic dance numbers by Leslie Racine Vazquez. Their combined expertise wins the cast a resounding standing ovation at the close of the show.

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“SWEENEY TODD” – RISE Playhouse, Woonsocket, RI

Review by Tony Annicone

 

Rhode Island Stage Ensemble’s fall musical is Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” which opened on Broadway on March 1, 1979 and won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical. This musical is a macabre tragicomedy based on the legend of a half mad 19th Century English barber who is driven to crime when his wife and his daughter are taken from him by an evil judge.

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‘From Silence’ at Marblehead Little Theatre

 

By Sheila Barth

 

Versatile Anne Marilyn Lucas never fails to surprise audiences with her theatrical prowess, whether she’s singing, acting, directing, or, in this case, with the newest play she wrote and successfully debuted off-Broadway.

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‘Or,’ Brings Real Wit to Restoration Era Farce

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Or,’ Written by Liz Duffy Adams; Directed by Adrienne Boris; Scenic Design by Ryan Bates;Costume Design by Erin Eva Butcher; Lighting Design by Emily Bearce; Sound Design by Julianne Mason. Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company and Simple Machine at Chelsea Theatre Works at 189 Winnisimmet St, Chelsea through September 23.

 

Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company and Simple Machine have combined forces to deliver a terrific adaptation of Liz Duffy Adams Or, a 17th century backstage sex farce loosely based on what could have been a single night in the life of Aphra Behn, the English poet and playwright who was one of the first English women to earn a living as a writer. Fueled by solid performances from its three member cast (in multiple roles), Or, is not only wickedly funny, but shows women (and men) in an astonishingly different light than one would expect in Restoration-era England, while paying homage to the life of a literary pioneer.

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“Dames at Sea” a Rollicking Ride

 

by Michele Markarian

 

“Dames at Sea”. Book and Lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, Music by Jim Wise.  Directed and Choreographed by Ilyse Robbins; Music Director, Steven Jones.  Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, through September 24.

 

As two pianists, flanking the stage, play the opening song of “Dames at Sea”, sung by a funny dancing vamp, Mona (the expressive Shana Dirik) a bored, gum-chewing chorus girl, the statuesque Joan (Sara Coombs) taps out the same dance routine in the corner. It’s an offbeat, charming opener, one where you know that what’s going to follow is going to be delightfully unexpected – after all, what is charm but the ability to deliver the unexpected? And like all of the musicals I have seen at this theater over the years, the characters onstage are not just singing and dancing, but have inner lives that make the action that much more exciting and real.

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ANNIE

ANNIE

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at Little Theatre of Fall River is “Annie”, the 1977 hit musical. Based on Harold Gray’s comic strip “Little Orphan Annie”, it won seven Tony Awards and ran for 2,377 performances. This high energy show is a hit again with this audience. This heart warming musical is the rags-to-riches story of plucky young Annie’s journey from a hard knock orphanage to the luxurious home of billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks. It has insightful direction by Paula Arruda, topnotch musical direction by Eli Bigelow and wonderful choreography by Jennifer Bellanti, Nina Calvo, Jill Goulet, Loralee Levesque and Raylin Medina. This show is what is needed in today’s society, a brighter future and the optimism of the title character.

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“DAMES AT SEA” at Greater Boston Stage

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Greater Boston Stage Company, formerly Stoneham Theatre, newest show is “Dames At Sea”, a musical spoof of “42nd Street”, “Anything Goes” and “Singing in the Rain.” It is a musical with books and lyrics by George Haimshon and Robin Miller with music by Jim Wise. It’s a parody of 1930’s Busby Berkeley-style movie musicals in which a chorus girl gets off a bus from Utah to NYC, steps into a role on Broadway and becomes a star.

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Renaissance City Theatre Inc., “Arsenic and Old Lace”

 by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at the Renaissance City Theatre Inc., the producing entity at the Granite Theatre is “Arsenic and Old Lace”, a farcical black comedy from yesteryear. Set in the 1940’s, “Arsenic and Old Lace” tells the story of newspaper critic, Mortimer Brewster, who is anxious to marry his fiancee, the girl-next-door and a minister’s daughter, Elaine. But standing between them is the wackiest, weirdest family tree that ever grew.

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‘The Odd Couple” – (Arctic Playhouse West Warwick, RI)

by Cindy Killavey

 

 

The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, The Arctic Playhouse, 117 Washington Street, West Warwick, RI through September 17

 

Oscar Madison and his card-playing cronies learn that Felix Unger is missing after his wife ends their 12 year marriage. When Felix arrives on the scene the friends try to cheer him up to no avail.. In the end, Oscar, who isn’t phased by clutter, insists Felix, “Mr. Clean”, stay with him. Oscar learns to regret this decision to the delight of the opening night crowd.

 

The card players include Tony Annicone as Speed; Anthony Capraro as Vinnie; J.P. McCormick as Murray and Bob Mignarri as Roy. This ensemble seamlessly trades barbs and witty dialogue and their reactions to Felix, crying in the bathroom and the mayhem when they think that he has swallowed a whole bottle of pills, draws hearty laughter from the audience.  The stage at this black box theater is intimate and directors John Faiola and Geoff Monti used some creative blocking for the several “chases” in the performance which the cast handled perfectly. Set changes were handled by the card players between the acts, another clever Directorial choice.

 

Henryce “Hen” Zannini and Denise Izzi are Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon These English “birds of a feather” are extremely entertaining.  The way they interact with each other would have you believing they really are sisters.

 

It’s easy to see that Fred Davidson (Oscar) and John Faiola (who wears two hats as Director and as Felix) have performed in these roles before. The chemistry between the two is palpable. Oscar’s eye rolls and bluster are a perfect foil for Felix’s mobile face and gestures. John’s ladle work is priceless.  When Felix turns what Oscar had hoped would be a romantic evening with the Pigeon sisters into a group sob fest, it’s the last straw.

 

Co-Director and first time Stage Manager Geoffrey Monti keeps things running smoothly throughout and the music choices are perfect.

 

For a wonderful evening of terrific theater, laugh-out-loud humor and delicious popcorn & cookies, don’t miss this show. Call for reservations as several performances are already sold out!!

 

www.TheArcticPlayhouse.com

401-573-3443

 

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, So Let’s “Burn All Night”

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Burn All Night’ – Book and Lyrics by Andy Mientus. Music by Van Hughes, Nicholas LaGrasta, and Brett Moses. Directed by Jenny Koons. Scenic Design by Sara Brown; Choreography by Sam Pinkleton; Costume Design by Evan Prizant, Lighting Design by Bradley King; Sound Design by Jessica Paz; Music Direction by Cian McCarthy. Produced by the American Repertory Theater at Oberon, 2 Arrow St, Cambridge, through Sept. 8

 

There’s a scene in the second act of “Burn All Night”, the millennial musical now making its world premiere at Oberon, where four friends are partying hard while waiting for the apocalypse, when they decide to engage in a faux philosophical game of “What would you do if the world were ending tomorrow?” The answer by one of them – that he would essentially get spectacularly wasted – angers the alleged deep thinker of the group, who was undoubtedly hoping for something a little more substantial. The unintentional irony is that the same holds true for much of “Burn” a frothy new work by Broadway and television star (and first time playwright) Andy Mientus, who has created a show that delivers high energy entertainment – but little of its promised depth.

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