Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility at A.R.T. is “Uncommonly Good”

 

Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility – By Kate Hamill; Based on the novel by Jane Austen; Directed by Eric Tucker; Choreography by Alexandra Beller; Scenic Design by John McDermott; Lighting Design by Les Dickert; Costume design by Angela Huff; and Sound Design by Alex Neumann. Presented by Bedlam at American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge through January 14

 

Fans of New York-based Bedlam have been eagerly awaiting the theater troupe’s return to Cambridge, and as we saw once again on opening night, with ample reason. Anyone who had seen their insanely clever productions of St. Joan and Twelfth Night/What You Will (both of which won Eliot Norton and IRNE Awards for Best Visiting Productions in 2015 and 2017 respectively) at the Central Square Theatre in recent years must surely have had the performance dates circled on their calendars. And Bedlam, true to form, did not disappoint.

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A Timeless “CHRISTMAS CAROL” at Hanover Theatre

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Hanover Theatre’s holiday show this year is the 10th Anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol” which is an annual favorite. This musical version of this well known holiday tale was adapted and directed by Troy Siebels. “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless story that still resonates with people of all ages and carries a message that is as genuine and poignant now as it was when it was first written back in 1843. This splendid musical version captures the true spirit and meaning of the holiday season for everyone.

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Old World Music, Comedy from Renaissance Era Lights Up Christmas Revels – A Venetian Celebration

 

By Mike Hoban

Christmas Revels – A Venetian Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Directed by Patrick Swanson; Musical Direction by Megan Henderson; Set Design by Jeremy Barnett; Sound Engineer, Bill Winn; Costume Design by Heidi A. Hermiller; Choreography by Kelli Edwards. Presented by Revels at The Sanders Theater at Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, through December 27th.

It seemed appropriate that snow was still lightly falling last Saturday evening, just in time for opening night of the Christmas Revels – A Venetian Celebration at the Sanders Theater in Harvard Square. Not that it snows much in Venice, Italy – the setting for the 47th Christmas Revels – nor do the performances of the Revels necessarily bear any resemblance to any traditional New England Christmas celebration. But there is something (okay, the old world music and comedy that are trademarks of any Revels show) about this Cambridge Yuletide tradition that bring that same warm feeling as any of the traditional holiday shows, and the gentle snowfall just completed the experience.

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NSMT’s Delivers Spirited ‘Christmas Carol’

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre’s holiday show this year is the 27th Anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol, A Musical Ghost Story” which is an annual favorite. This version of this well known holiday tale was written by former NSMT artistic director, Jon Kimball which he adapted back in 1989. As Jon explains “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless story that still resonates with people of all ages and carries a message that is as genuine and poignant now as it was when it was first written back in 1843. This splendid musical version captures the true spirit and meaning of the holiday season for one and all.

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Lyric’s ‘Hold These Truths’ Brings Light to Dark Chapter of American History

 

 by Mike Hoban

 

‘Hold These Truths’ – Written by Jeanne Sakata; Directed by Benny Sato Ambush; Scenic Design by Shelley Barish; Sound Design and Original Music by Arshan Gailus; Choreography by Jubilith Moore; Lighting Design by Karen Perlow; Costume Design by Tobi Rinaldi. Presented by Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, through December 31

 

Theater often reflects the times we live in. As a result, 2017 has been a year where productions have often left audiences with the horrible sense of dread that what we thought could never happen again, may indeed be happening again. Local theatre companies have produced a number of Nazi-themed plays like Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day, Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy, and Brecht on Brecht, while a national tour of the revival of Cabaret rolled into Boston just days after the inauguration. There were also a handful plays (To Kill A Mockingbird, Thurgood) that served as reminders that maybe those bad old days of institutional racism may not yet be over.

 

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Onward to Glory with “Man of La Mancha”

By Michele Markarian

 

Man of La Mancha, by Dale Wasserman. Music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion.  Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman.  Presented by New Repertory Theatre, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown through December 31.

 

“Man of La Mancha” is based on the story of Miguel de Cervantes, one of Spain’s – and the world’s – most eminent authors. Cervantes was imprisoned many times over the course of his lifetime, usually for financial reasons, and managed to survive five years in captivity by pirates during his early military career. Throughout his captivity, his love for literature kept him going, setting the stage for his creation, Don Quixote, the nobleman who wishes to restore chivalry by becoming a knight in a world that’s decidedly harsh. With the help of a recruit, poor dumb farmer Sancho Panza, who serves as his squire, and his courtly love towards the lowly born Aldonza (renamed Dulcinea), Don Quixote attempts to live out his reality in his world where chivalry thrives.

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Praxis’ Successfully Blends Comedy, Political Commentary in ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Accidental Death of an Anarchist – Written by Dario Fo; Adapted/Translated by Gavin Richards & Gillian Hanna; Directed by James Peter Sotis. Presented by Praxis Stage at First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston through December 17

 

Who says political theater has to be dour?

Not Praxis Stage, which has updated Dario Fo’s 1970 farce, the Accidental Death of an Anarchist, to deliver a very funny take on how western capitalist political systems “deal with” dissent. The re-worked script also fires a few broadsides at the circus that is the current United States political debacle, with references to “alternative facts” and “Fake News” sprinkled throughout. The play is based on a real life case where an anarchist, who was being interrogated in connection with a 1969 bank bombing in Italy, either jumped or was thrown to his death from the fourth-story window of a Milan police station. If that sounds a little heavy-handed, don’t worry, there’s plenty of clever dialogue and physical comedy to keep the non-Democratic Socialists entertained.

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Women Stand Strong in Boch Center’s Magnificent ‘The Color Purple’

 

by Mike Hoban

 

The Color Purple – Based on the novel by Alice Walker; Book by Marsha Norman; Directed by John Doyle. Music and Lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray; Set Design by John Doyle, Costumes by Ann Hould-Ward; Lighting by Jane Cox; Sound by Dan Moses Schreier. Presented by the Boch Center Shubert Theatre through December 3.

 

For those who believe that pain and suffering are indeed the gateways to a spiritual life, then Celie, the central character of The Color Purple, must surely be the poster girl for that philosophy. Celie suffers through presumed incest, teen pregnancy, and losing her children all by the time she turns 15, and the years that follow don’t get much better. But through persistence and prayer she endures her trials and tribulations and transforms herself into a strong woman of dignity and honor before our eyes.

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Greater Boston Stages’ ‘She Loves Me’ is a Delight

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘She Loves Me’ – Book by Joe Masteroff; Music by Jerry Bock; Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; Based on a play by Miklos Laszio. Directed by Ilyse Robbins; Music Direction by Matthew Stern; Scenic Design by Brynna Bloomfield; Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg; Costume Design by Gail Astrid Buckley; Sound Design by John Stone. Presented by the Greater Boston Stage Company at 395 Main St, Stoneham through December 23rd

 

The Greater Boston Stage Company and director Ilyse Robbins have again mined gold from Broadway’s lesser known catalogue, following up the wonderfully campy season opener Dames at Sea with an utterly charming production of She Loves Me, which debuted on Broadway in 1963. Featuring two of Boston’s most gifted female musical theater actors (Jennifer Ellis and Aimee Doherty – both fresh off sterling performances in the Huntington’s Merrily We Roll Along) as well as a pair of Boston’s emerging leading men (Sam Simahk and Jared Troilo), She Loves Me is a delight.

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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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