Black Lives Matter: Speakeasy’s “Scottsboro Boys” A Spectacular Reminder (5 Stars)



by Michele Markarian


The Scottsboro Boys – Book by David Thompson, Music and Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Directed by Paul Daigneault. Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston through January 26th.


Despite the fact that you just know things are not going to go well for the nine boys on a train crossing the Alabama state line in 1931 (where, as a friend once told me, they are taught in school to call the Civil War “the War of Northern Aggression”), you can’t help but be mesmerized by Speakeasy Stage’s production of “The Scottsboro Boys”. It is a flawless production from start to finish, as well as a reminder of how much (and at times, how little) things have changed since then.

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Essays in Idleness


by Larry Stark


The THEATER MIRROR lives again!

My undying thanks to Mike Hoban, who is doing all the uploading/designing work I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with — as well as to Lee Vander Laan, whose continued generosity let me start The Mirror, and who, throughout its life, held my hand and fixed all my glitches making it real. They represent The Mirror’s past, and its future.

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Alternative Theater Venues Provided Some of the Best Productions of 2016

Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company’s ‘Sense and Sensibility”


by Mike Hoban

One of the more frustrating aspects of reviewing (or just being a fan of) theater in Boston is knowing that, even if you can get to as many as 2-3 shows per week during the seasonal peaks, there are still a number of stellar productions that you will miss out on in any given year. Most of these productions are mounted by so-called “fringe” companies that often don’t have the resources to consistently bring their work to the more widely known, larger (and promoted) stages such as the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) – despite doing some of the most compelling work in Boston theater. So discovering these shows can be a bit more challenging for those who aren’t in the Boston theater loop.

Below are a handful of productions that I saw in 2016 that were mounted in venues that many theatergoers don’t necessarily find their way to, but absolutely deserved a wider audience.

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“LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE” (Little Theatre of Fall River)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


Little Theatre of Fall River’s opening show of 2017 at the Firebarn is “Love, Loss and What I Wore” by Nora and Delia Ephran. Based on the best selling book by Ilene Beckerman, this show is a series of monologues. It is an ensemble piece about ensemble pieces, covering all the important subjects: mothers, prom dresses, mothers, buying bras, mothers, purses, and yes, mothers. It also sheds light on women’s passion for wearing black and for buying shoes. It includes women’s relationships and wardrobes and at times using the women’s wardrobe as a time capsule of a woman’s life.It shows how they evolve throughout the one act, 28 scene show. It’s funny and powerful, serious and sweet, rueful and ruthless. A unique and universal chronicle of women’s wiles, worries, insecurities and loves. Director Kathy Castro blends the comic and serious moments together splendidly, creating a show that will leave you laughing out loud and being able to relate to the situations at the same time.


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“WAIT UNTIL DARK” (The Players, Providence, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


The Players’ third show of their 107 season is “Wait Until Dark” by Frederick Knott. This mystery thriller’s heroine is Susy Hendrix, a blind Greenwich Village housewife who becomes the target of three thugs searching for heroin hidden in a doll that her husband unwittingly transported from Canada as a favor to a woman who has since been murdered.

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Our Town (Mansfield Arts and Music Society)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


Mansfield Arts and Music Society’s first show in 2017 is “Our Town”, Thorton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning play. The show tells the life of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire from 1901 to 1913. This version is intimate, engaging and timely. It features a female stage manager who not only explains the actions of the characters but becomes part of the show herself. Through the use of flashbacks, dialogue and direct monologues, the other characters reveal themselves to the audience, walk through the audience and interact with them at times. Director Adam Joy picks the best performers to play these roles and molds them into these townsfolk that the audience can identify with. He has them pantomiming the props and handles the transitions from scene to scene beautifully. Adam makes its message to live each day to the fullest ring true in the 21st century, too.

Dori Bryan-Ployer is dynamic as the Stage Manager. She plays her part with great energy and conviction, commanding the stage in this role. Dori sets up the scenes of the show and tells the other characters what to do. She plays all her characters excellently, moving in and out of the scenes with ease. The main characters of “Our Town” are George Gibbs, a doctor’s son and Emily Webb, a newspaper editor’s daughter. The play covers their lives together from childhood to courtship and marriage to death with a funeral at the end of the show. They are next door neighbors who look at the moon and the stars from their respective bedroom windows. Michael Bradley does a wonderful job with the dramatic and comic moments, transforming himself from young boy to teen and finally into adulthood. His nervousness at the wedding and his talk with his in-laws on the same day are very funny. His crying at the grave scene is brilliantly done. Cj Hawes plays Emily and shines in this role. She makes you laugh at her young girl antics in Act 1 and then tears your heart out with the poignant graveyard revelation in Act 3. Her reflection back on her 12th birthday tugs at your heartstrings. Her relationship with George comes through strongly especially in the argument in the soda shop and in the wedding scene.

The roles of the parents are played wonderfully, too. Katia Greene as Mrs. Webb and Rachel Morandi as Mrs. Gibbs do incredible work with their miming in the cooking of the breakfast scenes. They actually look like they are using real food in them. They also show the warmth between mother and child as well as husband and wife. Patrick Murphy and Ty Waterman as Mr. Webb and Dr. Gibbs play their roles very well, too. Ty has a funny scene with George when he tells him that his mother has been chopping the fire wood when it is really George’s responsibility. Patrick also has a funny one with George on their wedding day by telling him what his father told him on how to have a successful marriage. Mr. Webb ignored his dad’s advice and had a successful marriage ever since. The younger siblings are well played by Elinor Ault as the pesky, Rebecca Gibbs who bothers her brother when he is flirting with Emily at his bedroom window in Act 1 and Thomas Stapleton as Wally Webb. (A tear jerking moment occurs during brother and sister in the last act. )Three scene stealers in the show are Greg Smith as Simon Stimson, the drunken choir director, Will Candler as Professor Willard and Shannon Dwyer as Mrs. Soames. He directs the choir, yells at them and leads them in “Blessed Be the Tie That Bind” which leads to much laughter. The song is also sung at the wedding and funeral with much different results at each of them. Will is a hoot as he describes Grover’s Landing directly to the audience. Shannon is hilarious as Mrs. Soames who likes to gossip with the other ladies after choir rehearsal and in the wedding scene tells the audience what a lovely wedding it is during the sacred vows of the couple. So for a splendid look back at a Pulitzer Prize winning play that still resonates with contemporary audiences, be sure to catch “Our Town” at the Black Box at MMAS. Tell them Tony sent you.

OUR TOWN (20 January to 5 February)

MMAS, 377 North Main Street, Mansfield, MA

1(508)339-2822 or


“THE ADDAMS FAMILY” (Beacon Charter High School for the Arts)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


Beacon Charter High School’s current show is “The Addams Family”, a musical which ran on Broadway for 722 performances and is a sentimental tribute to Charles Addams’ beloved characters. This macabre tale explores the deliciously dark world of Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma, Uncle Fester, Lurch, and Thing. This weird and wonderful family is every father’s nightmare.

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“I HATE HAMLET” Arctic Playhouse, JMG Theater (Warwick, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


JMG Theater’s current show at the Arctic Playhouse is “I Hate Hamlet” by Paul Rudnick. Andrew Rally seems to have it all, celebrity, a long running TV series, a beautiful, rich girlfriend, a devoted agent, a perfect New York apartment once owned by John Barrymore and a chance to play Hamlet in Central Park.

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“CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF” Epic Theatre Company (Cranston, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


The current show at Epic Theatre Company is “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, written by Tennessee Williams. The show first opened on Broadway on March 24, 1955 starring Ben Gazzara, Barbara Bel Geddes and Burl Ives. In 1958, it was turned into a movie starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives.

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