Broadway Fire in Reagle’s “Technicolor Dreamcoat”

 

By CJ Williams

 

Directed and Choreographed by Susan M. Chebookjian, based on original Choreography by Anthony Van Laast. Lighting Design by David Wilson. Set Design by Peter Colao and Richard Schreiber. Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez. Presented by Reagle Music Theatre at 617 Lexington St, Waltham through June 18.

 

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is Broadway-theater fare in unexpectedly Beantown-local affordability – and the Broadway musical is put on to amazing effect at the Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham. For all its crowd-pleasing choruses, and a cast that could sing and dance down Carnegie Hall, “Dreamcoat” nonetheless pulls a nice undercurrent of depth as well.

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NSMT Serves Up A Delicious Slice of White Bread with Delightful ‘Music Man’

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Music Man’ – Book, Music, and Lyrics by Meredith Willson. Story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. Directed by Bob Richard. Choreography, Diane Laurenson. Music Direction by Milton Granger; Scenic Design by Kyle Dixon; Lighting Design by Franklin Meissner; Sound Design by Danny Erdberg; Costume Coordinator and Additional Costume Design by Paula Peasley-Ninestein. Presented by North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly, through June 18.

“I’m as corny as Kansas in August” may be a line from a song from another classic musical, (South Pacific, “A Wonderful Guy”) but it could certainly double as a description of Music Man, the delightful 1957 musical now being given an inspired revival at the North Shore Music Theatre. Set in 1912 Iowa, birthplace of Meredith Willson, writer of the book, music, and lyrics for the Broadway hit, Music Man may be the quintessential white bread musical, but damn – er, darn – is it good.

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NSMT’s “THE MUSIC MAN”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The opening show of Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre’s 62nd season is “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson. This musical first opened on Broadway on December 19, 1957 and ran for 1,375 performances. Robert Preston played the leading role of Harold Hill who cons the good citizens of River City, Iowa into buying musical instruments and band uniforms by promising to create a boy’s band in the town. Not knowing a clarinet from a saxophone, Hill expects to skip town with cash in hand, only to be caught by the arms of the beautiful Marian Paroo, the librarian, who transforms him into a reformed rouge and respectable citizen by the close of the show.

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Reagle’s “JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT”

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Reagle Music Theatre’s first summer musical of their 49th season is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, the biblical story of Jacob and his 12 sons. It is a spectacular presentation and stars country star Ayla Brown as the Narrator and IRNE nominee Peter Mill as Joseph. It was written in 1968 by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as a 15 minute cantata, this now two hour show is high energy from start to finish. The storyline is told by a narrator who interacts with her fellow performers at various times in the show. Joseph has prophetic dreams and is the most loved son of his doting father, Jacob who gives him a coat of many colors. It is a story about this boy with dream interpretation whose 11 brothers become jealous of him. They especially don’t like his prophecies and his splendid coat and sell him into slavery in Egypt. There Joseph rises from house slave to become Pharaoh’s second in command because of his gift for interpreting dreams. Director and choreographer Susan Chebookjian and music director Dan Rodriguez have all the necessary ingredients to make this high energy blockbuster musical one of the must see shows of this season.

Susan takes this story and creates many picture postcard scenes along the way. She combines shtick and pathos together excellently for the audiences to savor and enjoy. Susan dance’s are also breathtaking and include hoe down, tango, the ballet, the swim, the conga line and the rock and roll dances of the 1960’s. The numbers stop the show with sustained applause. Dan taught the cast the many different styles of songs to the cast with the harmonies soaring in them. He also conducts a marvelous 17 piece orchestra. The scenic design of the show by Peter Calao and Richard Schreiber is astounding and the costumes by Goodspeed Musicals are splendid including some colorful outfits for “Go, Go Joseph.” Stage manager Nicky Carbone keeps things moving smoothly all night long, making it flow seamlessly from one scene to the next.

The most important part of this show are the two leads. The Narrator is played by beautiful and statuesque, Ayla Brown. She has a fantastic soprano voice which soars in all her numbers including the Prologue, “Poor, Poor, Joseph” and “Go, Go Joseph.” She weaves her way in and out of the numbers with the rest of the cast beautifully. Ayla can not only belt some of the songs but sings sweetly on her softer ones, too. She interacts with the superb children’s chorus who join in on several numbers during the show. Ayla has grown into a seasoned actress and vocalist since I last saw her do this role back in 2008. She is a dynamic performer and makes this role her own. Her talented partner in the show is Peter Mill as Joseph. He was for the IRNE award for Mary Sunshine in “Chicago.” He has a fabulous tenor voice whether he is singing softly in “Any Dream Will Do” or with deep feeling and emotion in “Close Every Door” where his voice soars off the charts, sending chills up your spine with its poignancy. Peter’s interactions with other cast members is terrific whether is he is speaking with his brothers, father, Pharaoh and the rest. The warm relationship between Joseph and Jacob comes through dramatically in the reunion scene with Peter singing “Any Dream Will Do” in the arms of his father. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after this scene.These two strong leads set the bar high for the rest of the cast to live up to which they do in spades.

The other 11 brothers have oodles of talent, too. They shine in their singing and dancing prowess. The standout solos include the country western song “One More Angel” sung slowly and sadly to Jacob and then with wild abandon by Bernie Baldassaro in his lilting tenor voice, the Benjamin Calypso is sung by Taavon Gamble another powerful tenor, and another voice that soars off the charts is Jacob Sherburne who sings the French type song, “Those Canaan Days.” Jacob and his wife are expecting their first baby in July. The other talented brothers include Chris Scott who also plays the butler, Anthony Gervais who also plays the baker, Christopher Infantino, Adam Winer, Louis Brogna, AJ Manuel Lucero, Leo Galletto and Jack Dwyer. Another stunning performer is Andrew Giordano as the Pharaoh. He plays the part perfectly making the girls faint at his feet. Andrew’s Elvis impersonation is fabulous and his diction is perfect, ensuring you understand every line of the “Song of the King.” Jacob is excellently played by Rick Sherbourne with a great deal of warmth and feeling. He also plays Potiphar while Joy Clark plays his slutty wife where the women are dressed in 1920’s garb and dance the Charleston during the number where she seduces Joseph. The women have more to do in this new version of the show where they sing and dance up a storm. The Mega Mix is where the energetic cast reprises most of the songs from the show brilliantly. So go, go see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Reagle Music Theatre to lift your spirits up during the 49th anniversary of this theatre that brings Broadway close to home. Run do not walk to the box office. Tell them Tony sent you.

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (8 to 18 June)

Reagle Music Theatre, 617 Robinson St, Waltham, MA

1(781)891-5600 or www.reaglemusictheatre.org

Lyric’s Abridged Version of “Camelot” Still a Delight

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Camelot – Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, Music by Frederick Loewe; Directed by Spiro Veloudos; Music Direction by, Catherine Stornetta; Choreography by Rachel Bertone; Scenic Design by Shelley Barish; Costume Design by Elisabetta Polito; Sound Design by Elizabeth Cahill; Lighting Design by Karen Perlow. Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street Boston through June 25th.

 

Less isn’t always more, but with The Lyric Stage Company’s lovingly trimmed production of Camelot, less is more than enough. Although I’ve been a huge fan of this musical from boyhood, it has always seemed a bit too long, so while this this version may lack some of the grandeur of a “full” staging, it more than makes up for it with some solid performances by its leads and strong cast of supporting players.

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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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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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“BEEHIVE” (Theatre by the Sea)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Bill Hanney’s Theatre by the Sea’s first musical of their 84th season is “Beehive”, the 1960’s musical. This musical is a wild toe-tapping, head shakin’ musical tribute to the rockin’ women who made the 60’s and 70’s so special. It includes everyone from Lesley Gore to Janis Joplin, from the Shirelles to the Supremes, Aretha Franklin to Tina Turner and everyone in between. “Beehive” will have you dancing in the aisles. It starts off with Beehive hairdos and long skirts to free flowing hair and hippie fashions.

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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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