“CAROUSEL” (Swanhurst Chorus’ 23rd Annual Dinner Theater)

“CAROUSEL”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Swanhurst Chorus’ 23rd Annual Dinner Theater musical is “Carousel” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Based on the play “Liliom”, this show takes place in a small New England fishing village in Maine between 1873 and 1888. The tale revolves around the love affair between Billy Bigelow, a traveling carnival man and Julie Jordan, a local factory worker. They end up getting and after learning he is to become a father, Billy kills himself in a botched robbery.

Read more ““CAROUSEL” (Swanhurst Chorus’ 23rd Annual Dinner Theater)”

Timely Relevance with Brecht on Brecht

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Brecht on Brecht’ – Written by Bertolt Brecht. Arranged by George Tabori, from various translations. Co-produced with Boston Center for American Performance. Directed by Jim Petosa; Music Direction by Matthew Stern; Scenic Design by Ryan Bates; Costume Design by Alyssa Korol; Lighting Design by Bridget K. Doyle. Presented at the Black Box Theater at the New Repertory Theatre, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown through March 5.

 

Two men and two women rush out of the wings, wearing red clown noises and pushing a shopping cart. They babble and chant slogans relevant to today (…”nevertheless, she persisted”.  “No war”, etc) before bringing onstage a man in tails (music director and accompanist Matthew Stern) to the piano. “What the heck IS this?” I thought somewhat crankily, before settling in to the very entertaining, often moving, and frighteningly timely kaleidoscope of Bertolt Brecht and his writing, expertly directed by Jim Petosa.

Read more “Timely Relevance with Brecht on Brecht”

Arts Emerson’s ‘Beauty Queen’ of Leenane’ is a Tragicomic Masterpiece

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Beauty Queen of Leenane – Written by Martin McDonagh; Directed by Garry Hynes; Set & Costume Design by Francis O’Connor; Lighting Design by James F. Ingalls; Sound Design by Greg Clarke; Original Music Composed by Paddy Cunneen. Presented by the Druid Theatre Company of Galway at Emerson/Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage by ArtsEmerson, at 559 Washington St., Boston through February 26th

 

Loneliness is a disease. It will gnaw at you like a cancer, and much like the disease of addiction, it can force you to abandon your basic human principles just to stave off that horrible feeling of emptiness. That point is driven home with both laughter and pathos in the “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” the tragicomic masterpiece now playing at the main stage of Emerson College’s Paramount Center. The play, which won multiple Tony Awards as well as a slew of ‘Best Play’ accolades when it made its debut on Broadway in 1998, is now in the midst of a twentieth-anniversary tour by Galway’s Druid Theatre Company, which swings through LA, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Ann Arbor before heading to the Hong Kong Arts Festival in mid-March.

 

Read more “Arts Emerson’s ‘Beauty Queen’ of Leenane’ is a Tragicomic Masterpiece”

Wheelock’s ‘Billy Elliott’ – the Next Best Thing to Broadway

 

By Michele Markarian

 

Billy Elliott the Musical, Music by Elton John, Book and Lyrics by Lee Hall. Directed by Susan Kosoff. Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA, through February 26.

 

This winter, you can take Amtrak or the GoBus to New York City to see one of the many fabulous musicals there that grace Broadway. Or you can make it easy on yourself by taking the D line to Wheelock Family Theatre to catch “Billy Elliott the Musical”. You won’t be disappointed.  From the sets to the choreography to the exceptional cast, “Billy Elliott” is a show that should not be missed.

 

Read more “Wheelock’s ‘Billy Elliott’ – the Next Best Thing to Broadway”

“Thriller of the Year” at Theatre One

 

By Richard Pacheco

Theatre One finishes its season with a production of Glyn Jones’ “Thriller of the Year,” a play about a thriller writer who suddenly finds her life in jeopardy after winning a major award find a copy of her latest award winning book has been delivered with no note and no indication as to who it is from.

As the evening unfolds, when a series of unfortunate accidents occur, she soon finds out why: someone is trying to kill her using methods from her own book. Will she be able to discover the identity of the murderer before it is too late, using her novel to stay one step ahead; she finally comes face to face with the murderer. In the last chapter of her book how did her heroine die? And will Gillian suffer the same fate!

Jones, was a South African writer who also wrote for Dr. Who which he not only wrote for but acted in several times.

 

The cast is strong and energetic. The have a solid chemistry between them and real verve. The award-winning writer, Gillian Howard, is played by Susan Salveston. Howard is smug, self-satisfied with her own importance and more than a bit of a bully. She likes to get her way at any and all costs, from anyone around her from her publisher to her assistant, her doctor to her soon to be former mother-in-law. None of them really matter in her universe unless they contribute to her goals and succumb to her wishes. Salveston handles it all with verve and aplomb, making the nastiness delicious and entertaining as she goes about verbally abusing people at her whim.

Holly Christian Cipriani is her publisher, Irene Knight, the woman who put Howard on the map in the writing world and now must endure Howard’s relentless attacks and threats to find another publisher for her next book. She likes her alcohol, and indulges in it liberally at the apartment, particularly when Howard is on the attack, knowing full well Howard is not suppo0swed to drink for health reasons. Cipriani is energetic and bold in the role, a solid presence fully able ton confront the rampaging Howard.

Vanessa Lima is Madge Robinson, Howard’s assistant and for all practical purposes indentured servant. Madge has a growing discontent with her job and her boss an wonders about leaving to find greener pastures in the job market. Madge is very efficient and has contributed a lot behind the scenes to Howard’s success, perhaps even adding something to her acclaimed novel, more than just typing it. She has an underlying resentment against her boss that is well justified. Lima is excellent in the role, a mixture of submission and self confidence in her abilities and contributions to her boss that is appealing and effective.

Elizabeth Goulart is the dedicated and determined Beryl Spence, Howard’s doctor at her beckon call. She is smart, dedicated and determined to be the most supportive doctor, even making house calls in the wee hours of the morning. She often battles Howard over health choices like drinking brandy. Goulart has a smart presence as the doctor. She is poised and in control at all times even faced with Howard’s often bombastic and relentless assaults on her and her advice. Goulart handles it all with confidence and conviction.

Finally there is Howard’s soon to be ex mother-in-law, Edith Howard who longs for Gillian to get back with her son and often hints very obviously in that direction. Edith is genuinely concerned and a bit of a meddler to achieve her goal of getting her son and Gillian back together again. She is not obnoxious it her quest, just very obvious. Linda Merritt is Edith. She is meek yet determined in her quest and she handles the role with sincerity and warmth. She is convincing.

Together this ensemble evokes a sense of impending doom, which mounts as the play progresses. All this under the sure and firm direction of Peg Holzemer, which keeps it all directly on track to build suspense and concern as the tension mounts.

The set by John Marzelli offers a fine sense of upper class presence with paintings on the wall and furniture.

All these elements offer a fun quest for a murder and mayhem as it all closes in and you wonder who is out to kill Gillian and why. It comes as a surprise which I will not spoil.

It will be presented again March 10 & 17, and Saturday evenings March 11 & 18 at 7:30pm. Sunday afternoons March 12 & March 19, at 2pm. Tickets are $20 for general admission, and $18 for seniors and students cash only at the door. We collect food donations at all our performances for the Middleboro COA Senior Pantry. Come join the fun with Theatre One, bringing a little bit of Broadway to your backyard. Info 1-774-213-5193.

“AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS” (Rhode Island Stage Ensemble)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Rhode Island Stage Ensemble’s current show is “Around the World in 80 Days” which is based on Jules Verne’s 1873 novel and this version is written by Mark Brown. In 1872, on a gentleman’s wager, Phileas Fogg and his French manservant, Passepartout attempt to traverse the globe in just eighty days. Fogg is an adventurer who bets he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days or less. The two of them encounter strange new countries, colorful and at times hostile characters, and even love.

Read more ““AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS” (Rhode Island Stage Ensemble)”

“VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE” (Attleboro Community Theatre)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at Attleboro Community Theatre is the comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up. However their peace is disturbed when their movie star sister Masha returns unannounced with her twenty-something boy toy, Spike. They discuss their lives and loves, argue and Masha who supports her siblings, threatens to sell the house.

 

Read more ““VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE” (Attleboro Community Theatre)”

“GREASE” (Smithfield High School)

“GREASE”

Reviewed by Hen Zannini

The Smithfield High School Music Department’s current musical is “Grease.”

“Grease” opened off-Broadway in 1972 and moved to Broadway to run for another eight years. In 1978 it was made into a movie starring John Travolta and ‪Olivia Newton John and grossed nearly $400 million.

Aiden Travers opens the play singing “Grease,” the well know song from the movie, sung by Frankie Valli. Aiden’s energy and contagious smile sets the pace for what’s in store! We are welcomed to Rydell High School’s class of 1959 high school reunion and are greeted by the entire Company performing the “Alma Mata Parody.”

This musical is beautifully directed by Katherine Young, assisted by Cynthia Fontaine-Powers, Production Assistant, and Chloe Olean, Stage Manager. Katherine fully utilizes the stage and theatre to maximum potential. Her high-energy blocking of over fifty cast members is professional and highly entertaining. Band Director Kelly Chartier conducts the seven-piece student orchestra as they play the nearly two-hour score to perfection. It’s hard to believe the orchestra is comprised of high school students; their talent is top notch.

Kudos to the Set Design team–Patricia Bubis, Megan Anderson, Paul and Maria Duhamel, and Luana Towne-Stearns. Everything from the school exterior, lockers, bedroom, and malt shop complete with jukebox, to the “hunk of junk,” also known as “Greased Lightning,” were perfect and easily transported you to 1959. The transformation of the car is unbelievable. I’ve seen “Grease” close to a dozen times (and performed in it, as well!), and this is one of the best vehicles I’ve ever seen!

The hard work of choreographers Bethany Pierpaoli, Kerissa Roderick, Justina Mabray, and Carissa Charbonneau is evident and delightful to watch throughout the entire performance. The larger group numbers are so much fun—I didn’t want them to end! The costumes were true to the fifties, colorful, and beautifully made. To see them all together at one time in the ensemble numbers was like watching fireworks, only on the ground!

Bad boy Danny Zuko is well played by Alec Devine. He has lots of comic moments and lines, including his appearance in a “track suit” and being stranded at the drive-in. “No one walks out of the drive-in!” His delivery is spot on. He displays his voice and dancing in “Summer Nights,” “You’re the One That I Want,” and “Hand Jive.” Alec—I mean Danny—is every girl’s dreamboat!

Juliana Rivelli is good girl Sandy Dumbrowski. Good, that is, until she turns “bad” in Act 2. It’s a change that you have to see to believe! Juliana’s character runs the gamut of emotions, and you feel every one of them through her superb acting, be it happiness, anger, sadness, or frustration. Her beautiful voice simply soars in the poignant “Hopelessly Devoted,” which showcases her wide range and which left me with a lump in my throat. She also does a great job in her duets, “Summer Nights,” and “You’re the One That I Want.” Juliana totally captures the sweet essence of Sandy.

The Pink Ladies are a hoot, each with a distinctive personality. They wear the prettiest and pinkest Pink Lady jackets I’ve ever seen. Where can I get one?! Hope Sousa plays Pink Lady Betty Rizzo. Betty is hard hearted, but her true colors come through in her show-stopping solo, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” All I can say is “WOW.” I had tears in my eyes. This number won her thunderous applause. She also sings the comical, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” which generates lots of well deserved laughter. Hope’s acting is excellent; you feel what she feels.

Sexy Pink Lady Marty is convincingly played by Nina Votolato. Her marvelous voice is heard in “Freddy My Love.” Jessica Lawton is Jan, whose primary focus is food! Jessica sings the hysterical “Mooning” with her boyfriend Roger, who is played by Michael Iannuccillo. They elicit lots of laughs and are just the most adorable couple! Frenchy is played by Emma McKay and is hilarious in this role. Poor Frenchy drops out of school to attend beauty school, only to flunk out. You truly feel for her. She is serenaded by Teen Angel, Benjamin Duhamel, in “Beauty School Dropout.” His falsetto is very much appreciated by the audience! Hailey Beaulieu plays Patty Simcox to the bubbly and bouncy hilt! She is a ball of energy with fabulous acting chops.

Bryce Moroni is suave and swaggering as Rizzo’s boyfriend Kenickie. He is awesome in his solo, “Greased Lightning,” where he sings and dances with the boys in one of my favorite numbers. How can you not love watching twelve guys in black leather jackets making love to their car?! Sonny Latierri is played by David O’Brien. Devin may be small in stature, but he is huge in character! He is fantastic playing the cad who is always in trouble. Andrey Kryschnuk, Doody, nails his naïve and nervous character. I found myself just wanting to hug him. I loved his guitar playing in “Those Magic Changes.”

“Born to Hand Jive” had me wanting to jump out of my seat and dance with the cast! Additional excellent musical numbers include “Shakin’ at the High School Hop,” It’s Raining on Prom Night” (beautiful harmony), and the energetic closing, “We Go Together.”

Rounding out this marvelous and talented high school cast are Renee Roy (Miss Lynch), Austin Sanderson (Eugene), Jonathan Twining (Vince Fontaine), Michael Russell (Johnny Casino), Adeline Schwartz (Cha-Cha DiGregorio), and Mary Edsall (Burger Palace Waitress), as well as the Cheerleaders, Angel Choir, and Ensemble. An additional shout-out to the Stage Crew and Sound and Lights Crew.

Don’t miss this lively and highly entertaining musical! There are just two performances remaining. I promise you will not be disappointed!

“GREASE”

‪Saturday, March 11 @ 7 pm‪ and Sunday, March 12 at 2 pm

Smithfield High School
‪90 Pleasant View Avenue‪
Smithfield, RI

“THE SCHOOL FOR LIES” (University of Rhode Island’s winter show)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

University of Rhode Island’s winter show is “The School for Lies” by David Ives which is a comic adaptation of “The Misanthrope” by Moliere. This show is set in the 1660’s and tells the comic tale of Frank, who shares with Moliere’s Alceste, a venomous hatred of the hypocrisy that surrounds him. Like his predecessor, Frank gets into trouble by insulting the work of a dreadful poet, Oronte and falls in love with Celimene, a witty widow. In this madcap version, the brightest, wittiest salon in Paris is that of Celimene, a beautiful young widow so known for her satiric tongue that she is being sued for it.

 

Read more ““THE SCHOOL FOR LIES” (University of Rhode Island’s winter show)”