Laughter Abounds in Moonbox Productions’ “The 39 Steps”

(Cirone, Zahnzinger, Mussett and Gazdowicz in Moonbox Productions’ “The 39 Steps”)

 

by Michele Markarian

 

“The 39 Steps”. Written by Evan George Patrick Barlow. Directed by Allison Olivia Choat.  Presented by Moonbox Productions, the Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston through December 9.

 

“I was bored – no, more than bored, tired,” begins the play’s hapless, world weary protagonist, Richard Hannay (Kevin Cirrone), from a rented flat in London.  He decides to go to the theater, where he meets a mysterious woman (Sarah Gazdowicz, playing one of three roles) who, after shooting off a gun in the theater, asks if she can spend the night. When his guest is mysteriously murdered, Hannay is the suspect-at-large and goes on the run, but not before the dying woman gives him the address of a professor in Scotland with the cryptic phrase, “the 39 steps.” It is here that Hannay’s boredom ends and his adventure begins, as he journeys to Scotland. Along the way, he meets another young woman as well as a multitude of characters, some benign, some nefarious, many inept, and all played by Man 1 (Bob Mussett) and Man 2 (Matthew Zahnzinger).

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Company Theatre’s “Company for the Holidays” Sparks Holiday Spirit

 

by Evan McKenna

 

“Company for the Holidays: A Christmas Spectacular” – Directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, Music arranged by Steve Bass and Chris Hansen, music direction and several original arrangements by Steve Bass, choreography by Sally Ashton Forrest, costume design by Kathryn Ridder, lighting design by Adam Clark, set design by Ryan Barrow and James A. Valentin. Through 12/17

 

While Black Friday deals and long lines at the Christmas Tree Shop remind us that December is almost here, gifts and Christmas decorations don’t always spark that genuine holiday spirit. It’s family, song, and traditions that give Christmas its true essence, and that’s what Company Theatre’s “Company for the Holidays: A Christmas Spectacular,” which premiered Friday, illustrates so well, making it the perfect entré into the Holiday season.

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Oberon’s “The Fever” Brings Sense of Community to Theatrical Experience

 

by Mike Hoban

 

The Fever – Written and Directed by Abigail Browde & Michael Silverstone. Created in collaboration with Brandon Wolcott, Emil Abramyan, and Eric Southern. Produced by Oberon in collaboration with 600 Highwaymen. Performed at the Ex at the Loeb Theatre, 64 Brattle St. Cambridge through November 19

 

If you’re one of those folks who is a little (or a lot) skittish about the thought of attending a show where audience participation is built into the theatrical experience, relax, The Fever is not that kind of a show. In fact, it’s not really a “show” at all, certainly not in any traditional theatrical sense. This oddly compelling piece plays more like a social experiment in unforced compliance than theater, but it works in a way that never feels forced or hokey.

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Trinity Rep’s 40th Anniversary “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” A Holiday Gem

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Trinity Repertory Company ushers in the holiday season for their 40th Anniversary of their production of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and adapted by Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming. The show’s underlying themes of charity, forbearance and benevolence are universal and are equally relevant to people of all religions and backgrounds especially with the unsettling events in this country and around the world. This familiar tale is about the curmudgeonly miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghosts of Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Present and Future who hope to change his destiny and save his soul to ultimately discover the true meaning of Christmas.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time and the Mystery and Suspense Genre

 

by Michael Cox

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-TimeAdapted by Simon Stephens from the novel by Mark Haddon. Produced by Speakeasy Stage Company and playing at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion October 20 – November 25.

 

Just after midnight in Swindon, a town 71 miles West of London, fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone finds a dog brutally murdered in his neighbor’s garden. Wellington, a cherished family pet, has been impaled with a pitchfork and is still pinned to the ground. Mrs. Eileen Shears, the owner of the dog and the garden, calls the police. And when they arrive they’re looking for answers. But Christopher can’t provide them. Instead, he assaults the officer.

 

As The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time unfolds, Christopher tells us his side of the story. He writes it down in a notebook as part of a school project, and he chooses to convey the experience as a murder mystery.

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Sleeping Weazel Combines Thought-Provoking Message, Humor with “Traveling Minstrel Show”

 

Review by James Wilkinson

 

3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show. Conceived and Written by James Scruggs. Directed by Mark Rayment. Scenic and Graphic Design by Michael O’Reilly. Video Design by Jason Batcheller. Lighting Design by Bridget K. Doyle. Sound Design by Mark Van Hare. Choreographed by Nejla Yatkin. Makeup Artist: Brian Strumwasser. Presented by Sleeping Weazel through November 11.

 

There’s an inherent irony present in this review which I cannot help but appreciate. A white male is going to tell you what he thinks about a show that is very concerned with examining what happens when black men do not have control over their own narratives. If this is the kind of scenario that bothers you, then feel free to check out after this paragraph (I promise that I won’t take it personally). I’ll boil the review down to this: You should go see Sleeping Weazel’s production of James Scrugg’s play, 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show. You should see it, form your own opinion on the work and contribute to the conversation that Scruggs and his director, Mark Rayment are trying to start.

 

Still with me? Fantastic…

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NSMT’s “42ND STREET”

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome back to 1933 and the wonderful world of tapping feet in “42nd Street” at North Shore Music Theatre with a huge cast of 30 performers. It is loosely based on the 1933 movie musical with the same name which starred Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. The stage musical version opened on August 25, 1980 and ran until January 8, 1989, won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It starred Jerry Orbach as Julian Marsh and Tammy Grimes as Dorothy Brock and I was fortunate enough to catch that musical back in 1980. “42nd Street” is the tale of up and coming chorus girl, Peggy Sawyer who arrives in New York seeking a career on Broadway.

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“In the Heights” Soars at Wheelock Family Theatre

 

By Michele Markarian

 

In the Heights.  Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Book Quiara Alegria Hudes.  Directed by Rachel Bertone.   Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA, through November 19.

 

I don’t know if anyone remembers watching the 2008 Tony awards, but the winner of that year’s Best Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapped his acceptance speech. “What an odd little guy”, I thought, with a mixture of admiration and disdain (even for the Tonys, it was an unusual form of acceptance speech). I never felt compelled to see “In the Heights”, but given the quality of Wheelock Family Theatre’s musical productions, I figured, why not?  This wonderful show, expertly directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone, does not disappoint.

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Lyric’s “Souvenir” a Keeper

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Souvenir’ – Written by Stephen Temperley.  Directed by Spiro Veloudos.  Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA through November 19.

 

“How many people have already seen the show?” asked Producing Artistic Director Spiro Veloudos during his curtain speech. A large number of hands went up in the audience. “What the heck?  Who sees a show twice?” I thought. After seeing “Souvenir” once, I get it.  This is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen all year, with its two performers wonderfully in tune with each another.

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Huntington’s “A Guide for the Homesick” Artfully Mixes Global Politics, Personal Pain

 

by Mike Hoban

 

A Guide for the Homesick – Written by Ken Urban. Directed by Colman Domingo. Scenic Design by William Boles; Original Music and Sound Design by Lindsay Jones; Costume Design by Kara Harmon; Lighting Design by Russell H. Champa. Presented by Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, through Nov. 4.

 

About a third of the way through A Guide for the Homesick, the outstanding new drama being presented by the Huntington Theatre Company, it becomes apparent that this is not going to be your typical “boy-meets-boy, boy-is-closeted, boy-gets-boy” story. Instead, what we get is an utterly engrossing new work that weaves religiopolitical and mental health issues into a tale of two men (who just met) sharing their guilt and remorse over their potentially life-destroying screw-ups in a place far from home. The play, written by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ken Urban, features two Boston-born protagonists, and is fittingly receiving its premiere at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Calderwood Pavilion.

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