Larry Shares Thoughts On Theater With Middle Schoolers!

 

Larry recently received this request to share his thoughts on theater from an unlikely source, so we thought we’d share it with you – Editor.

 

 

Hello Mr. Stark!

 

Our names are Aylin and Julia. We are students of JJ Daniel Middle School and we need help with a project. We are studying “Entertainment Throughout The Years” and we have some questions for you. We would be delighted to have you answer them.

 

Thank you so much for your time,

Julia and Aylin

 

 

Wow.

 

First, I’d love to take such a course with you; I’d learn things I never thought of before, I’m sure!

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“BORN YESTERDAY”

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Ocean State Theatre Company’s fifth season’s winter comedy is “Born Yesterday” by Garson Kanin. An uncouth, corrupt rich junk dealer, Harry Brock brings his showgirl mistress Billie Dawn with him to Washington, D.C. When Billie’s ignorance becomes a liability to Brock’s business dealings, he hires a journalist, Paul Verrall, to educate his mistress. In the process of learning, Billie Dawn realizes how corrupt Harry is and begins interfering with his plan to coerce a Senator into passing legislation that would allow Brock’s business to make more money. The original show ran for 1642 performances on Broadway. Director Amiee Turner casts marvelous performers in these role and elicits terrific performances from this timely show that could have been written about contemporary political times we live in.

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Tension, Humor Ricochet in Lyric’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Written by Edward Albee.  Directed by Scott Edmiston.  Presented by Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through February 12.

 

George (Steven Barkhimer) and Martha (Paula Plum), a middle-aged married couple with a fondness for alcohol, live on the campus of a college over which Martha’s father presides. George is a professor there, but Martha’s father has not nurtured his career the way he and Martha had hoped. One night, after a faculty party, Martha informs George that she has invited another couple over, a young professor and his wife, whom her father told her to be kind to. The fact that it’s 2:00am doesn’t deter anyone from acting on the invitation, and when Nick (Dan Whelton) and Honey (Erica Spyres) arrive and start to drink, the real fun begins.

 

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Trinity Rep’s “Mountaintop” Humanizes MLK with Laughter, Grace

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘The Mountaintop’ – Written by Katori Hall;  Directed by Kent Gash; Set Design by Jason Sherwood; Costume Design by Kara Harmon;  Lighting design by Dawn Chiang, Sound Design by Justin Ellington, Projection Design by Shawn Duan. Presented by Trinity Repertory, 201 Washington St, Providence, RI through February 12th.

 

When I was a young boy in 1968, I remember watching television one night when the CBS Evening News came on. “Good evening. Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of non-violence in the civil rights movement, has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee,” deadpanned Walter Cronkite, an actual newsman reading the news. I ran to wake my grandmother, who was napping, and asked, “Nana, who is Martin Luther King?”

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Intimate Exchanges Sizzles with Possibilities

 

By Michele Markarian

 

Intimate Exchanges, Written by Alan Ayckbourn; Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio. Presented by The Nora Theatre Company, 450 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge through February 12.

 

Lionel is a gardener, who is employed – like his elderly father before him – by the wealthy Celia Teasdale and her alcoholic headmaster husband, Mr. Teasdale. Sylvie is a young woman who is also employed by the Teasdales to do work around the home. All of the characters want to remold and remake the working-class Sylvie, including Sylvie herself. These were the characters and plotlines that were present the night I saw “Intimate Exchanges”, as there are actually two different versions of the play, with four different endings, two possibilities per show, that the audience votes on during intermission. All of the characters are played by two actors, Sarah Elizabeth Bedard and Jade Ziane.

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imaginary beasts’ Winter Panto is Devilishly Good Fun!

 

By CJ Williams

 

‘Winter Panto 2017 – Princess and the Pea – by Imaginary Beasts; Directed by Matthew Woods; Set and Sound Design by Jason Sherwood and Matthew Woods; Set Construction by Daniel Atchason and Joe Oullette; Puppet Design by Beth Owens and Jill Rogati; Stage Management by Nate Goebel; Costume Design by Cotton Talbot-Minkin;  Lighting design by Chris Bocchiaro. Presented by Imaginary Beasts at Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116 through February 4.

 

You don’t have to be a child to enjoy the delightful Winter Pantomime being put on by Imaginary Beasts this chill season – nor do you have to be an adult to giggle at the devilish and timely jabs and jibes the troupe insert regarding current events and personalities. As I sat in the theatre this weekend, surrounded by old, young, and innumerable in-betweens, the slapstick and sly both elicited hearty merriment. Sometimes, the stuff I thought might go over the littler one’s heads got the largest laughs from them in particular. But this is partially because the audience-involved pandemonium was written – and performed – with enough versatility that where subtle politics miss some, there’s enough energy and incongruity to the situations themselves to leave humor a-plenty, references aside.

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“DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER” (Walpole Footlighters)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Walpole Footlighters second show of their 93rd season is the French farce, “Don’t Dress for Dinner.” This show is about Bernard planning an intimate evening with his mistress and packs his wife off to her mother’s house. Unfortunately his wife, Jacqueline, stays in town and his best friend is to be uses as an alibi. But there is a hidden secret there, too. Throw in two cooks, mistaken identities and some fantastic slapstick routines and you have the ingredients for the madcap romp that ensues. The alibis get confused and Bernard and Robert have to improvises excuses at break neck speed. Director Dan Delaporta infuses the show with high energy and shows adeptness at comic direction so each of the six performers has their moment to shine in this farce.

Dan tackles this contemporary farce with a talented cast and creates some hilarious shtick. The constant spilling drinks, naughty doings and wrestling on the sofa and slapping each other around are some of the laugh out loud moments. Leading the cast as Bernard, the husband is Dan Kirichok. He is a debonair actor who plays the part with nervousness and high anxiety. Dan has a flair for the role with facial expressions and slow burns. Another comic bit is his constantly changing costumes due to spilled drinks. He also wrestles on the sofa and wields the ice tongs around threateningly. Ann-Marie Weaver is Jacqueline, the long suffering wife who has a hidden secret of her own. She finds out about her husband’s infidelity and is furious about it. Ann-Marie gets to yell and browbeat the other characters with humorous results. She sprays Bernard several times with water and checks out her sexy dress. Jacqueline mixes up Suzanne for Suzette, creating chaos in the house which leads to the men to tell lie after lie to cover the truth up.

Peter McElhinney is very comical as Bernard’s best friend, Robert. He is hilarious as he runs around the stage trying to keep the secrets from being revealed. Peter is a hoot when he cowers in fear when threatened to be beaten up or being castrated by a jealous husband. His facial expressions are excellent as is his rapid line delivery. His last explanation is hysterical.  Emily Murray is Suzette, the real cook who is mistaken for the mistress. She has the funniest one liners in this show. Emily’s facial expressions are fantastic during the show and a laugh out loud moment is when she hides the money in her bra. Also hilarious is when the two men transform her maid’s outfit into an evening dress in a split second as well as when she struts out in a mink coat at the close of the show.  Ashley Harmon plays Bernard’s sexy mistress, Suzanne who is a model. She is a beautiful brunette who makes this role come alive with her clever and sarcastic lines. Ashley struts around in evening wear while making or should I say ruining dinner. She displays the jealous streak in Suzanne as she slaps Bernard around and spills sauce all over him. Last but not least is Andrew Bradley as the physically threatening character of George. Although he doesn’t enter until later in the show, he gets to knock out the two men, gets sat on by the three women and helps to resolve the sticky situation at hand. One of his funniest moments occurs when Peter pays him off with hush money to pretend to be Suzette’s Uncle Robert. So for a laugh a minute farce, be sure to catch “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at Walpole Footlighters to lighten up this cold winter season.

DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER (3 to 19 February)

Walpole Footlighters, 5 Scout Road, East Walpole, MA

1(508)668-8446 or www.footlighters.com

“The Children’s Hour” (Gamm Theatre)

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

Lillian Hellman was one of the most significant women playwrights in American History. This work, “The Children’s Hour,” proved to be quite scandalous in 1934 when it was first produced, but seems tame and somewhat dated in contemporary times. It is a drama set in an all-girls boarding school run by two women, Karen Wright and Martha Dobie. An angry student, Mary Tilford, runs away from the school, and to avoid being sent back she tells her grandmother that the two headmistresses are having a lesbian affair.

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Huntington Gives Ibsen Classic ‘A Doll’s House’ a Contemporary Look

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘A Doll’s House’ – Written by Henrik Ibsen, Adaptation by Bryony Lavery; Directed by Melia Bensussen; Scenic Design by James Noone; Costume Design by Michael Krass; Lighting Design by Dan Kotlowitz; Sound Design & Original Music, Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen. Presented by the Huntington Theatre at 264 Huntington Ave., Boston through February 5th.

 

It is easy to see why “A Doll’s House” – now being given a powerful staging by the Huntington at the BU Theatre – is viewed as a feminist play, despite being written by a man. Henrik Ibsen’s classic has at least one of the key elements of second stage modern feminism – the concept that women could no longer be treated as possessions (or in “Doll’s House” – as something akin to pets) by their significant others. What was nearly inconceivable, however, is the fact that it had been written in 1879, and not 1979. This somewhat (2011) new adaptation by British playwright Bryony Lavery (a woman) is making its U.S. debut, and updates some of the language to make it more relatable to modern audiences. This was my first exposure to the play, and it appears that the new adaptation (which I was assured didn’t veer materially from the original) succeeds brilliantly.

 

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Speakeasy’s ‘Hand to God’ Is Devilishly Funny

 

by Sheila Barth

 

SpeakEasy Stage Company presents Robert Askins‘ Broadway, multi-nominated, two-act, two-hour comedy, through Feb. 4, Boston Center for the Arts, Virginia Wimberly Theatre, 527 Tremont St., Boston, Wednesday, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 4,8 p.m.; Sunday,3 p.m.; Feb.2, 2 p.m. also. For mature audiences only. Tickets start at $25; student, senior, 25-year-old-under, discounts. 617-933-8600, SpeakEasyStage.com.

Some people think Robert Askins’ play, “Hand to God,” is irreverent, blasphemous, gross, and horrible. Actually, it’s an in-your-face satire about a Southern, small-town Texas church, its pastor, a Christian Puppet Ministry teacher, three teen-agers, and an out-of-control puppet named Tyrone. Throughout the play – that’s popular internationally and nationally – there are touches reminiscent of multi-award winners “The Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q,” and others of the same genre. However, “Hand to God” is a wildly bizarre comedy, not a musical.

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