GSC’s ‘Bank Job’ – Robbery Goes Wrong, Comedy Goes (Mostly) Right

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Bank Job – Written by John Kolvenbach; Directed by Robert Walsh; Set Design by Jon Savage; Lighting Design by Russ Swift; Costume Design by Linda Ross; Sound Design by David Wilson. Presented by Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester through June 10.

 

If you were of television-watching age during the late sixties and you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the Smothers Brothers downed a few cans of Red Bull and then robbed a bank – now’s your chance to find out. Gloucester Stage Company is presenting the New England premiere of John Kolvenbach’s somewhat uneven but very funny Bank Job, which takes us on a lightning-paced ride which slows down only when the bank robbing brothers take time out to relive their Smothers Brothers-esque unresolved childhood squabbles.

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A.R.T.s “Arrabal” Electrifies

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Arrabal – Book by John Weidman; Music by Gustavo Santaolalla/Bajofondo; Choreographed by Julio Zurita; Directed and co-choreographed by Sergio Trujillo; Choreography by Julio Zurita; Scenic Design by Riccardo Hernandez; Costume Design by Clint Ramos; Lighting Design by Vincent Colbert; Sound Design by Peter McBoyle; Projection Design by Peter Nigrini. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge, through June 18

 

It may be relatively early in the 2017 theater season, but it seems highly unlikely that anything you will see on Boston stages (or anywhere else) this year will pack the kind of visual, aural and emotional wallop that Arrabal – now making its United States premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge – will deliver to the senses. This tango-based work combines Latin music and dance with a horrific (and true) political story to create a singular theatrical experience that is alternately steamy and harrowing.

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Lyric Stage Delivers Fresh Take on “Camelot”

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The closing show of Lyric Stage’s season is “Camelot”, a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. It is a fresh new take on this classic musical by David Lee, a cautionary tale based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T.H. White novel “The Once and Future King.” The original Broadway show opened on December 3, 1960, ran for 873 performances and won 4 Tony Awards, and the original cast album was America’s top selling LP for 60 weeks.

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This is a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Worth Seeing Multiple Midsummer Nights

 

By CJ Williams

 

‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ – Directed by Patrick Swanson; Written by William Shakespeare; Stage Management by Marsha Smith;  Composition & Sound Design by David Reiffel; Set Design by Eric Levenson; Puppetry  & Design by Elizabeth Rocha; Costume Design by Jessica Pribble; Lighting Design by Deb Sullivan. Presented by Actor’s Shakespeare Project at the Multicultural Center, 41 2nd Street Cambridge, MA through June 4.

 

Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s take on “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is both a faithful and thoroughly up-to-date rendition of a classic. But that’s what Shakespeare, performed and produced well, is in a nutshell: timeless. Not every cast or production team can pull that kind of rabbit out of the theatrical hat, though – even the best productions of the Bard often end up slogging through a sad stodgy seriousness in using the centuries old Elizabethan cant, costume, and anything else historical they can get their hands on. (Either that, or they blow it all on a modern spin that mangles the wordplay and subtlety of the language.)

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Ellis A Revelation in Speakeasy’s “The Bridges of Madison County”

 

by Michele Markarian

 

‘The Bridges of Madison County’ – Book by Marsha Norman. Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Based on the novel by Robert James Waller. Directed by M. Bevan O’Gara. Music Direction by Matthew Stern. Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company, Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through June 3.

From the opening strains of a sole, mournful cello, you get a sense that the story about to unfold is a sad one. Let me clarify by saying I may have been the only person in the audience unfamiliar with the book or film. Which is a good thing, because I find musical adaptations of films in general to be lackluster, pallid affairs. But M. Bevan O’Gara and the cast of Speakeasy Stage Company’s “The Bridges of Madison County” do such a great job creating an alternate reality that I was truly transported. Adding to the magic is the score, which is very, very intriguing.

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LAB’s “Yellow Bird Chase” Great Fun for Kids – And Adults

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Yellow Bird Chase’ – Conceived and Directed by Jason Slavick; Written by the LAB Ensemble; Scenic Design and Props by Rebecca Lehrhoff; Puppetry Direction & Design by Penny Benson; Costume Design by Kendra Bell; Lighting Design by PJ Strachman. Presented by Liars & Believers (LAB) at the Boston Center for the Arts, Martin Hall, 527 Tremont Street Boston through May 21.

 

There’s a lot of fun to be had at Liars & Believers’ expanded production of ‘Yellow Bird Chase’, the laugh-filled fairy tale with music that marks their debut as Artists in Residence at the Boston Center for the Arts. Originally developed as a 30 minute piece for the 2015 “Outside the Box” festival, “Yellow Bird” is 70 minute mash-up of clowning, puppetry, and cabaret-style music that is pure entertainment. And while the production appears to be aimed mostly at the kiddies, there’s still plenty to keep the adults in the audience amused, particularly if they’re fans of iconic 60’s pop tunes.

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Jenson Channels the Spirit of Lester Bangs in ArtsEmerson’s ‘How To Be A Rock Critic’

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘How To Be A Rock Critic’ – Based on the Writings of Lester Bangs; Written by Erik Jenson and Jessica Blank; Performed by Erik Jenson; Directed by Jessica Blank; Lighting Design by Lap Chi Chu; Scenic Design by Richard Hoover; Sound Design by David Robbins; Dramaturg: P. Carl; Produced by Thomas O. Kreigsmann at Emerson/Paramount Center’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, 559 Washington Street, Boston, through May 21.

 

If you are a music fan of a certain age who experienced the evolution of Rock n Roll from the late sixties to the early eighties with any degree of enthusiasm, ‘How To Be A Rock Critic’ – a kind of one-night stand with the (deceased) seminal rock critic Lester Bangs – is not to be missed. Erik Jenson, who plays the speed and cough syrup-fueled pseudo-journalist and bona fide creative writer Bangs with a beautifully unhinged bravado, perfectly captures the near spiritual experience of what happens when people like Bangs (and me) hear those three chords that unleash the mind-bending power of a truly great rock song.

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Praxis’ “Jesus Hopped the A Train” a Tense, Provocative Journey

 

by Michele Markarian

 

“Jesus Hopped the A Train”. Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Directed by Dayanne C. Byron Walters and Daniel Boudreau. Presented by Praxis Stage at the Dorchester Art Project, 1486 Dorchester Avenue through May 21.

 

Walking into the tiny, bare bones space at 1486 Dorchester Avenue, where Praxis Stage is performing “Jesus Hopped the A Train”, I was immediately filled with a stab of homesickness for those theater spaces that used to thrive in Boston and Cambridge before the gentrification of theater prevailed – The Leland Center. The Piano Factory. Little Flags Theater. Without large budgets and grants, theater artists had to rely less on production values and more on sheer energy and talent – which this production has an abundance of.

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SPRING AWAKENING (Wilbury Theatre Group – Providence, RI)

“SPRING AWAKENING”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Wilbury Theatre Group’s closing show of their season is “Spring Awakening”, the 2007 Tony Award winning musical by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater which won 7 Tonys. This musical ran for 888 performances on Broadway and is a fusion of morality, sexuality and rock n’ roll that explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood. The musical is an adaptation of the controversial 1891 play with the same name by Frank Wedekind which was banned in Germany due to its portrayal of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide.

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Stoneham’s “Gabriel” is Gripping Theater

by Michele Markarian

 

‘Gabriel’ – Written by Moira Buffini. Directed by Weylin Symes. Presented by Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, through May 14.

 

It’s a rare piece of writing that immerses you in its world so intensely that to leave it is almost a shock to the system. Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend series is this kind of writing. Throw in a five-star cast with superlative direction, lights, sound and set, and you have Stoneham Theatre’s masterful production of “Gabriel”.

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