Huntington’s “Merrily We Roll Along” A Winner

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Huntington Theatre’s opening show of their season is “Merrily We Roll Along” Stephen Sondheim’s, musical of friendship and ambition. It is based on the 1934 play with the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. “Merrily We Roll Along” has a book by George Furth that opens in 1976 and travels back in time to tell the story of Franklin Shepherd, a successful Broadway composer who leaves his theatre and songwriting career behind him to become a Hollywood movie producer.

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Zeitgeist’s “Faceless” Artfully Melds Current, Timeless Themes

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Faceless’ – Written by Selina Fillinger; Directed by David Miller; Set Design by David Miller; Lighting Design by Michael Clark Wonson; Sound Design by Jay Mobley; and Costume Design by Elizabeth Cole Sheehan. Presented by the Zeitgeist Stage Company at Plaza Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St. Boston through October 7.

 

There’s a lot going on in ‘Faceless’, the riveting new courtroom drama now making its New England premiere at the BCA’s Black Box Theater. For starters, there’s the specter of Islamic terrorism, the religious intolerance it has spawned, and the effect of social media on our decision-making process from the current topic file, along with the time-tested themes of screwed-up family dynamics, dealing with grief, and blind political ambition lurking in the background. If it sounds like Faceless covers a whole lot of territory in 90-minutes, it does – but director David Miller and his talented cast take the ambitious material and deliver an emotionally charged production that succeeds on most levels.

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The Aliens – Theatre on Fire (Charlestown Working Theater)

 

by James Wilkinson

 

‘The Aliens’ – Written by Annie Baker; Directed by Darren Evans; Costumes by Maureen Festa. Presented by Theatre on Fire at the Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown through October 7.

 

For the longest time, I avoided reading any of Annie Baker’s plays, though not because of any skepticism about their quality. What held me back was what I had heard about Baker’s naturalistic style. It seemed as though sitting in a chair and reading the words on the page could never compare to the performance experience. (Plays aren’t meant to be read anyway, but sometimes you take what you can get.)

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‘Or,’ Brings Real Wit to Restoration Era Farce

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Or,’ Written by Liz Duffy Adams; Directed by Adrienne Boris; Scenic Design by Ryan Bates;Costume Design by Erin Eva Butcher; Lighting Design by Emily Bearce; Sound Design by Julianne Mason. Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company and Simple Machine at Chelsea Theatre Works at 189 Winnisimmet St, Chelsea through September 23.

 

Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company and Simple Machine have combined forces to deliver a terrific adaptation of Liz Duffy Adams Or, a 17th century backstage sex farce loosely based on what could have been a single night in the life of Aphra Behn, the English poet and playwright who was one of the first English women to earn a living as a writer. Fueled by solid performances from its three member cast (in multiple roles), Or, is not only wickedly funny, but shows women (and men) in an astonishingly different light than one would expect in Restoration-era England, while paying homage to the life of a literary pioneer.

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“Dames at Sea” a Rollicking Ride

 

by Michele Markarian

 

“Dames at Sea”. Book and Lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, Music by Jim Wise.  Directed and Choreographed by Ilyse Robbins; Music Director, Steven Jones.  Presented by Greater Boston Stage Company, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, through September 24.

 

As two pianists, flanking the stage, play the opening song of “Dames at Sea”, sung by a funny dancing vamp, Mona (the expressive Shana Dirik) a bored, gum-chewing chorus girl, the statuesque Joan (Sara Coombs) taps out the same dance routine in the corner. It’s an offbeat, charming opener, one where you know that what’s going to follow is going to be delightfully unexpected – after all, what is charm but the ability to deliver the unexpected? And like all of the musicals I have seen at this theater over the years, the characters onstage are not just singing and dancing, but have inner lives that make the action that much more exciting and real.

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‘Constellations’ Diagrams Love’s Infinite Possibilities

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Constellations’ – Written by Nick Payne  Directed by Scott Edmiston; Susan Zeeman Rogers, Scenic Designer; Jeff Adelberg, Lighting Designer; Charles Schoonmaker, Costume Designer; Dewey Dellay, Sound Design & Composition. Presented by the Underground Railway Theatre at the Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge through October 8.

 

In 1998, Miramax released Sliding Doors, a “parallel universe” themed film starring Gwyneth Paltrow, about a woman whose life takes two completely different paths based on whether or not she makes it onto a subway train before said doors close. As it turns out, it wasn’t much of a movie, but the idea of exploring how the direction that one’s life takes based on the outcomes of seemingly random situations was really intriguing. Constellations, the brilliantly conceived two-hander now being staged at Central Square by the Underground Railway Theatre, takes that concept, puts in on steroids and produces a work that is enormously clever as well as touching – thanks in large part to its gifted leads, Marianna Bassham and Nael Nacer.

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Lyric, Barrett Open Season With Winning “Gypsy”

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Gypsy’ – Music by Jules Styne, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Arthur Laurents. Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Bertone; Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez; Scenic Design by Janie E. Howland; Costume Design by Rafael Jaen; Lighting Design by Franklin Meissner, Jr. ; Sound Design by Andrew Duncan Will. Presented by Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon St. through October 8.

The Lyric Stage opens its 2017-2018 season with a bang, tackling the (stage) mother of all musicals, Gypsy – widely regarded as one of musical theater’s greatest works – and delivering one of the year’s best musical productions. Fueled by a powerhouse performance by Boston favorite Leigh Barrett, Gypsy paints the seriocomic portrait of Rose Hovick, the fame-seeking mother of renowned Depression-era exotic dancer Gypsy Rose Lee, who wisecracked (and stripped) her way into the hearts of adoring burlesque house audiences across the nation.

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New Rep’s ‘Ideation’ a Win-Win

 

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Ideation’ – Written by Aaron Loeb. Directed by Jim Petosa. Presented by New Repertory Theatre, and Co-produced with Boston Center for American Performance at 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown through September 24.

 

“Ideation”, the Boston-area premiere of Aaron Loeb’s funny and terrifying play, has at its heartbeat the center of American, indeed, world, personhood – the corporation.  An international consulting group has tasked its team of A-list high flyers to come up with a solution for a multi-layered situation that has troubling implications.

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“DAMES AT SEA” at Greater Boston Stage

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Greater Boston Stage Company, formerly Stoneham Theatre, newest show is “Dames At Sea”, a musical spoof of “42nd Street”, “Anything Goes” and “Singing in the Rain.” It is a musical with books and lyrics by George Haimshon and Robin Miller with music by Jim Wise. It’s a parody of 1930’s Busby Berkeley-style movie musicals in which a chorus girl gets off a bus from Utah to NYC, steps into a role on Broadway and becomes a star.

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THE CARETAKER (Wilbury Theatre Group, Providence, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Wilbury Theatre Group’s first show of their new season is “The Caretaker”, a play in three acts by Harold Pinter. When it premiered in 1964, “The Caretaker” changed the face of modern theatre. Into his derelict household shrine Ashton brings Davies, a tramp with pretensions. Even though he may seem to the world to be a pathetic old creature. All that is left of his past now is his existence in Sidcup of some papers, papers that will prove exactly who he is and enable him to start all over again.

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