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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Ogunquit Playhouse’s ‘FROM HERE TO ETERNITY a Powerful, Dramatic Musical

By Sheila Barth

 

Okay- straight out – Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of new musical “From Here to Eternity” is so overwhelming, realistic, and gut-wrenching, it’s the hardest-hitting musical I’ve seen in a while. Some of you remember the dramatic movie that won Frank Sinatra an Academy Award and took several other Oscars. The movie was superlative, and this new musical seems slated for success.

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MARY POPPINS (Uncommon Theatre, Foxboro)

MARY POPPINS
Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of Walt Disney with “Mary Poppins” and the opening musical of Uncommon Theatre’s 38th season. This musical opened on Broadway on November 16, 2006, closed on March 3, 2013 and ran for 2619 performances. It is now a full Broadway musical with 44 major awards worldwide. The story of Mary Poppins, the magical nanny who flies into the troubled lives of the Banks children will dazzle and delight audiences of all ages. Bert, the chimney sweep welcomes the audience into the world of “Mary Poppins” with “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” We then follow Mary’s exploits throughout all of London where she charms each person she comes in contact with. The talent of this cast captures the hearts of all members of the audience by propelling them to their feet at curtain call. Director Meg Dussault, music director Linda Barbieri, orchestra director Esther Zabinski and choreographer, Anna Pietal  definitely out do themselves with this spectacular musical.

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LEGALLY BLONDE – (Dean College)

LEGALLY BLONDE
Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The School of Arts at Dean College’s fall musical is “Legally Blonde, the Musical” which is based on the Amanda Brown novel and the 2001 movie which starred Reese Witherspoon. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl from Delta Nu who is the college sweetheart and home coming queen who doesn’t take no for an answer. So when her boyfriend, Warner dumps her for someone more “serious”, she puts down the books, heads to Harvard Law School to win him back. Along the way Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style. She also discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others and defends fitness guru, Brooke Windham from murder charges. Director Ali Angelone creates a high energy contemporary musical with her keen insight into these comic characters while musical director taught them all these musical numbers does so while playing lead keyboards and conducting a seven piece orchestra. Ali who is also the choreographer, supplies the dance numbers that stop the show with their power and execution. Their combined expertise wins the cast a standing ovation at the curtain call.

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CHICAGO (Footlights at the Grange, Swansea, MA)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome to the 1920’s with the current musical at Footlights at the Grange. Director/choreographer Brian Barry Pereira transports the audience to the prison atmosphere needed for this terrific blockbuster musical “Chicago.” Kander and Ebb’s 1975 vaudeville type show is based on the 1926 play by Maurine Watkins. The 1997 musical version won six Tony Awards and the 2003 movie version won the Academy Award.

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Halloween Family Fun with ‘THE ADDAMS FAMILY’

By Sheila Barth
A nod of the shroud to North Shore’s Stage 284 for its two-act, two-hour finger-snapping, fun production of musical comedy ”The Addams Family”.  Based on Charles Addams’ cartoons, the spoofy, spooky, kooky family play resurrects the popular 1960‘s TV wacky, weird, family, and their creepy, abnormal, anti-societal demeanor.

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YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at MMAS is the 1999 revival version of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” which is based on Charles Schultz’s beloved “Peanuts” comic strip. The revival opened on February 5. 1999 and made a star out of Kristen Chenoweth, winning her the Tony Award for best featured actress as Sally Brown. The show takes us through an average day in the life of Charlie Brown. The audience catches a glimpse of their favorite characters and includes many moments from all the days of his life from Valentine’s Day to baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair. They include all his friends. both human and non-human and strung together on the string of a single day, from bright uncertain morning to hopeful starlit evening. Director/choreographer Adam Joy infuses the musical with high energy from start to finish with his talented cast while musical director Eli Bigelow not only conducts his five piece orchestra but plays keyboards and taught them this glorious music. They are rewarded with a resounding ovation at curtain call.

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“Hair” Still Rocks at Fifty

 

By Michele Markarian

 

“Hair” – Book and Lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Music by Galt MacDermont.  Directed by Joey C. Pelletier. Presented by Heart and Dagger Productions at Club Café, 209 Columbus Avenue, Boston, through October 20.

 

I was a little kid when my parents bought the album of the original Broadway cast of “Hair”, after they’d gone to New York to see it. I thought the music was contagious and would sing along to the soundtrack.  My naïve mother didn’t know the meaning of the words in “Sodomy” any more than I did, so the singing worked out nicely.  Years later, I found a book in our local library by original cast member Lorrie Davis, called “Letting Down My Hair: Two Years With the Love Rock Tribe–From Dawning to Downing of Aquarius”. Fans of “Hair”, this book is not to be missed!  ($30 used on Amazon.)  I read and reread it cover to cover until my mother, who had wised up by then, got her hands on it and declared it “filthy”. Years later, as a young theater reviewer in college, I volunteered to see a Brown University production of “Hair”. The show itself was excellent, but I was disappointed to experience it as a piece of history, rather than something relevant to the times.

 

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THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Stadium Theatre’s current musical extravaganza is “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, a new musical which debuted at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in October, 2014. Then in March, 2015 it played at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey. Both theatres have had shows transferred to Broadway. Unfortunately this musical did not make it and why is a complete mystery to me. This version is based on the Victor Hugo 1831 novel which was transformed by Disney into an animated film in 1996. This version has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Peter Parnell. However this is not the usual happy musical from Disney where everyone lives happily ever after. The songs from the Disney film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are powerful and potent and the tale dark and Gothic but still it is an entrancing and enticing musical to see and savor. Director Becca Donald and musical director Mark Colozzi pick the best performers for these roles and infuse them with high energy all night long. Mark plays lead keyboards and conducts a fabulous 9 piece orchestra and obtains awesome harmonies from the cast. Choreographer Matt Parello supplies some upbeat dances to lighten up the show in some of the gypsy sequences. Their expertise wins a very well deserved spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the performance.

 

The storyline is a deformed man, Quasimodo is hidden from the world by his devious caretaker and longingly observes all of Paris from atop a bell tower. However during the Feast of the Fools, he escapes for the day to join the crowd, discovering both the cruelty and compassion of strangers and new friends he must defend from a familiar evil. Becca blocks this huge epic musical splendidly on a fantastic two story cathedral style set by Wayne Boucher. She brings every ounce of pathos pouring out to the very appreciative audience. The multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Eve Lajoie, Gina Giuliano, Linda McDermott, Dean Hernandez and Caroline Tillinghast . Jack Cappadona does a magnificent job as Quasimodo, the poor tormented creature whose only friends are the gargoyles of Notre Dame. He captures the pathos of this character perfectly and acts his heart out in this role. Jack’s voice is so powerful as he renders the hopeful “Out There” where he yearns to be like other people, “Heaven’s Light” and the 11th hour show stopping song “Made of Stone” which is despairing but all are fabulously sung by this young man who should be a professional performer after seeing him in this performance. Hannah Duhamel also shines as Esmeralda, the gypsy who captures Quasimodo’s heart. She is a gorgeous brunette with a beautiful voice which is heard with the chorus in “God Help the Outcasts” and in “Someday”, a duet with Phoebus where people should learn to live with each other peacefully after facing prejudice against the gypsies. Hannah also sings the poignant “Top of the World” song with Jack when he brings her to the bell tower.

 

Powerful vocalist Cooper Ceruolo plays the Captain of the guard, Phoebus who falls in love with Esmeralda. His voice is heard in “Rest and Recreation” and “The Court of Miracles.” I last reviewed him as Chris in “Miss Saigon” at the Stadium. John McElroy Morgan as Frollo, the pious archdeacon who lusts after Esmeralda and becomes more depraved. He is terrific as this pious but bigoted man whose hate for the gypsies overpowers his religious nature and he also treats his nephew, Quasimodo with disdain due to his father’s assignation with a gypsy girl. When Frollo meets Esmeralda, his dark side comes out. John is onstage almost the whole musical. His powerful voice is heard in “Hellfire” with the choir. He sends chills up your spine with this bloodthirsty song and his malevolent character. The chorus and congregation vocalists are incredible and their voices soar in the group numbers especially in “The Bells of Notre Dame”, the Latin songs, “Justice in Paris” and “While the City Slumbered.”  Mark does a magnificent job with the soaring, beautiful harmonies of these numbers. So for a splendid new epic musical, be sure to catch “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Stadium Theatre before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (20 to 22 October)

Stadium Theatre, 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket, RI

NSMT’s EVITA is Magnificent

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

North Shore Music Theatre’s fourth musical of their 62nd season is “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This rock opera is about Eva Peron, bit actress, mistress and wife to Argentine dictator, Juan Peron. This show is a collage of Eva’s rise to power and her early death. It is a look at a woman loved by the poor, hated by the rich and powerful and who was not above taking matters into her capable hands, whether it be charity funds, colonels on the rise to political power or, finally, political power itself.

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