Flat Earth Delivers Luminous ‘Silent Sky’

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Silent Sky’ – Written by Lauren Gunderson; Directed by Dori A. Robinson; Set Design by Debra Reich; Costume Design by Cara Chiaramonte; Lighting Design by PJ Strachman; Props Design by E. Rosser; and Sound Design by Kyle Lampe. Presented by Flat Earth Theatre at the Mosesian Center for the Arts (formerly known as the Arsenal Center for the Arts), 321 Arsenal Street in Watertown, MA through March 26.

 

If the thought of spending an evening watching a play about the life of Henrietta Swan Leavitt – the groundbreaking astronomer who discovered “the relationship between period and luminosity in Cepheid variables” – has you reaching for your appointment calendar to schedule some dental work, try and fight the urge. Dental hygiene can wait, at least until you’ve seen Flat Earth Theatre’s “Silent Sky”, quite possibly the most enjoyable production I’ve seen so far in 2017, a year that has already delivered a plethora of terrific shows.

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Heart Challenges Mind in Nora’s ‘Precious Little’

 

By Michele Markarian

 

Precious Little, by Madeleine George. Directed by Melia Bensusen. Presented by The Nora Theatre Company, Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge through March 26.

 

Brodie, a single lesbian linguistics professor, is pregnant by a sperm donor. Brodie, quite honestly, is probably the least maternal person out there – she actively cringes when her beaming ultrasound technician urges her to say hello to her baby. Brodie is also having an affair with one of her young grad students, who urges her to come to the zoo and witness a gorilla who is being taught to speak by its trainers. Brodie is offended by this; it’s not real science. She is more concerned with preserving the dying language of Kari, for which she’s found a native speaker to record some sounds. But the ambiguous results of her ultrasound rock the bedrock of her intellectually safe and verbal world.

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Lyric’s ‘Stage Kiss’ A Comic Gem

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Stage Kiss’ – Written by Sarah Ruhl; Directed by Courtney O’Connor; Scenic Design by Matt Whiton; Costume Design by Amanda Mujica; Lighting Design by Chris Hudacs; Sound Design and Original Music by Arshan Gailus. Presented by the Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon St., Boston through March 26.

 

Let’s cut right to the chase. There aren’t likely to be many theatrical productions this year that are as flat-out funny as “Stage Kiss”, now playing at the Lyric. Fueled by yet another terrific comic performance by Celeste Oliva (who also killed in the Lyric’s charming production of “Becky’s New Car” a few seasons back), “Stage Kiss” is a comic gem. And while there’s nothing overly clever or original about the play’s premise, playwright Sarah Ruhl blends slapstick, parody, and a brilliant talent for one liners into a riotous comedy that works great for those who have worked in the theater – and just as well for those who just enjoy watching it.

 

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“THE FOURSOME” (Newport Playhouse, RI)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The second show of Newport Playhouse’s 34th year is “The Foursome” by Norm Foster. Rick, Ted, Donnie and Cameron are home for their 25th college reunion. During the weekend the men go out for a game of golf. During this game, they catch up on what they have been doing with their lives since college days. This is where they share their successes and failures. The play is set on eighteen tees of a golf and country club.

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“LEND ME A TENOR” (RISE Playhouse, Woonsocket, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

RISE’s current show is “Lend Me a Tenor”, a Tony Award winning farce by Ken Ludwig. The show is set in 1934 and revolves around renowned tenor, Tito Merelli, who is scheduled to sing the lead in “Otello”, produced as a fundraiser for the Cleveland Opera Company. Unfortunately, even before the star leaves the hotel room, things begin to unravel. Chaos ensues when Merelli’s hot tempered Italian wife, Maria has mistaken Maggie, an autograph-seeker hidden in his closet for his secret lover. Maria leaves her husband, a Dear John letter. The distraught Tito is given a double dose of tranquilizers to calm him down and passes out. Saunders, the hard-ass general manager and Maggie’s father, is determined that the show must go on for his own financial sake, so he asks his assistant, Max, who is infatuated with Maggie, to impersonate the opera star. Max puts on the black face makeup required for the role of Otello, and his disguise succeeds admirably until something shocking happens. What follows is a chain reaction of mistaken identity, plot twists, double entendres, innuendoes and constant slamming doors on the unit hotel set. Throw in Diana, the opera diva soprano and Julia, the chairwoman of the Board who both pursue Tito as well as an opera loving bellhop to complete this eight person cast. Director Elizabeth LaBrecque casts this show with a keen eye for farcical situations, which keeps the audience laughing merrily all night long.

Elizabeth keeps the show in constant motion and infuses her cast with the high energy to pull off this madcap roles. Michael Ferron leads the troupe in merriment, doing a wonderful job as Max. He has a multitude of funny and clever dialogue, going from meek and mild assistant to forceful opera singer when he imitates Tito finally winning the girl of his dreams. ‘s tenor voice soars in the operatic scenes especially in the aria with Tito in Act 1. He has many comic bits including the comic exercise scene with Tito, funny double takes and plays the suave lover when he seduces Maggie. One of his best moments comes when he stands up to the overbearing Saunders, becoming the mouse who roared at the lion. Robert Grady who also has a strong tenor voice is terrific as Tito. He uses an Italian accent in this role and commands the stage in his scenes, displaying a strong stage presence. Robert has many funny moments especially his argument scenes with his hot tempered Italian wife, Maria. Other funny moments include the double entendre, the mixed up happenings and when he and Max woo different girls at the same time. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Camille Terilli as the hot tempered Italian wife with the perfect Italian accent. This talented red haired actress is terrific as she runs roughshod over Tito threatening that she will make him a soprano if he doesn’t stop fooling around with other women. Camille commands the stage with the other characters making them quake in their boots while chasing them around the sofa into the bedroom. Her gestures and actions are priceless as she snarls at Maggie and Diana after they ask who she is. She receives many laughs with her hilarious antics. Camille and Roberto play off each other like a real life married couple with their spats.

The mean general manager is played by Steve Small. He plays the role in an over the top manner and is full of high energy every time he enters the stage. One of Steve’s funniest moments occurs when he chokes Tito in the bedroom scene and another when he yells at Max. His facial expressions and line delivery is excellent. I last reviewed Steve as Gary in “I Hate Hamlet” at Walpole Footlighters. Justine Durvin, a pretty brunette plays Maggie, who has a crush on Tito and fainted when he kissed her hand in Italy. She is wonderful as the infatuated ingenue. Maggie wants to have a fling before she settles down and her kissing scene with Max in blackface is hilarious. Also funny is when she asks for Tito’s autograph and mistakenly thinks he wants to make love with her. Maggie takes off her dress and throws herself at him. Dark haired Kathleen Seagriff plays the sex crazed opera diva, Diana who slept with every man in the opera company. One of the funniest scenes is when she throws Tito on the bed while Maggie throws Max on the sofa to have her way with him. Another funny scene is when Tito thinks her whole family are prostitutes. The wealthy dowager, Julia is wonderfully played by Mary Case. She wears a silver lame gown with a tiara which makes her look like the Chrysler Building. Mary has many funny lines as this Grand Dame and makes them all hit pay dirt. Tim Ferron is a hoot as the opera loving Bellhop. He steals many a scene while insulting Saunders and continually asking for Tito’s autograph. I last reviewed him two years ago as Arty in “Lost in Yonkers” at RISE and I didn’t recognize him because he grow so tall. The recap scene at the end of the show is hysterical, too. So for a fun filled farce, be sure to catch “Lend Me a Tenor” at RISE Playhouse in Woonsocket before time runs out.

LEND ME A TENOR (30 March to 9 April)

RISE Playhouse, 142 Clinton St., Woonsocket, RI

1(401)441-5011 or www.ristage.org

 

“The Nether” at the Gamm Theatre

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

The Jennifer Haley play, “The Nether” currently at the Gamm is an excursion into the dark side of the virtual worlds of the Internet. It is not lasting literature but more like a lurid side trip that leaves you disgusted by the virtual haven for pedophiles and its seamier aspects of murder in an interpretation and invention of polices procedurals. It is a sci-fi serpentine crime thriller that lingers in the darker side of private dreams. Read more ““The Nether” at the Gamm Theatre”

“TOMFOOLERY” (Pawtucket Community Players)

“TOMFOOLERY”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Community Players’ third show of their 96th season is “Tomfoolery”. “Tomfoolery” is a musical comedy revue of the witty, wicked and thoroughly twisted world of famed satirical songwriter, Tom Lehrer. In concerts, TV appearances and a series of now-classic recordings, the Harvard-educated math professor delighted millions of fans during the 50’s and 60’s with his dry, cynical but good humored attacks on the A-bomb, racism, pollution, the military, the boy scouts and, of course, mathematics. Nothing is sacred in this revue where no one is spared. Lee Rush picks a topnotch 6 member cast while Maria Day taught them all the tongue twisting and comic lyrics. Bill Whitehead supplies the dance steps needed to pull off this clever and fun filled musical revue.

This show can be compared to “Laugh-In” or “Saturday Night Live” where one of the performers describes what is happening in the next number of this 28 song revue. The talented cast members are Ken McPherson, Paul Oliver, Chris Margadonna, Alyce Hagopian, Vivian Carrette and Michael Thurber. Lee gives them clever shtick to perform as they are huddled around a bar onstage left while the four piece orchestra is onstage right. The ensemble numbers are “Be Prepared”, a send up of the Boy Scout’s motto, “National Brotherhood Week” where everyone hates everyone else, “Christmas Carol” where they sing about the commercialism of the holiday, the peppy “Vatican Rag” where they are dressed up as nuns and the final number is a spoof of what will happen during World War III with “We Will All Go Together When We Go” which ends the show with a big bang. Since there are so many numbers, I will mention a few highlights. “She’s My Girl” a torch song by Chris where he sings about everything that is wrong with his girlfriend while Michael sings “The Elements” to the tune of Modern Major General by Gilbert and Sullivan. Alyce’s comic number is “In Old Mexico” about a bullfight gone wrong while Vivienne’s is “I Got It From Agnes” where you think she is talking about a virus being passed among them but it ends up being a giant lollipop. Paul’s comic number is “I Hold Your Hand in Mine” while Ken’s is “The Masochism Tango” where he describes all the torturous things he’d like done to him. Also funny is the comic never ending “The Irish Ballad” about a girl killing her family while the most well known song is “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” which opens the show. Maria has some clever and funny ad libs with the cast and audience. She will be playing Mrs. Paroo in “The Music Man” at Theatre by the Sea this summer. So for a fun filled musical revue that will leave you laughing all night long, be sure to catch “Tomfoolery” at Community Players.

TOMFOOLERY (25 March to 9 April)

Community Players, Jenks Auditorium, 350 Division Street, Pawtucket, RI

1(401)726-6860 or www.thecommunityplayers.net

 

 

“SISTER ACT” (Company Theatre)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Company Theatre’s current musical is “Sister Act”, the international smash hit musical based on the mega-hit, 1992 film that starred Whoppi Goldberg. Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman spare no expense in bringing the highest quality productions and the highest quality of talent to this historic theatre and this one is another feather in their cap. When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in one place that cops think she can’t be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun,

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‘Sister Anonymous’ Adds New AA Chapter with Compassion, Humor

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Sister Anonymous – Written by Catherine M. O’Neill; Directed by Kelly E. Smith; Presented by Second Act Productions at the Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston  through March 18.

 

Ever since Alcoholics Anonymous emerged from the shadows with the publication of Jack Alexander’s Saturday Evening Post article in 1941, any account of the formation of the fellowship that would transform the lives of millions of “drunks” and their families has always focused on its founders, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. But as Wilson and Smith readily admitted, they received a lot of help – divine and otherwise – in launching and building upon their ideas.

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“Little Women” (Ocean State Theatre)

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

Little Women: The Musical”, which takes on the novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, is a pleasant enough look at novel which seems to lack full, deeper characters, instead content to dwell more on the surface of traits and events while lacking the nuance and details that makes that vivid onstage. If it has a saving grace, it lies in the talented cast who manage to bring some of the lacking qualities to the fore.

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