“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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Renaissance City Theatre Inc., “Arsenic and Old Lace”

 by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at the Renaissance City Theatre Inc., the producing entity at the Granite Theatre is “Arsenic and Old Lace”, a farcical black comedy from yesteryear. Set in the 1940’s, “Arsenic and Old Lace” tells the story of newspaper critic, Mortimer Brewster, who is anxious to marry his fiancee, the girl-next-door and a minister’s daughter, Elaine. But standing between them is the wackiest, weirdest family tree that ever grew.

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“SELF HELP”, Newport Playhouse

Review by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at the Newport Playhouse is “Self Help” by Norm Foster. Hal and Cindy Savage are a couple of second rate performers who long for a first class life. They are weary of scraping out a meager living by plying their trade in second rate theatres. The best thing they have is their love for each other. Cindy has an epiphany involving a pithy self-help book and a bad night at yet another uninspiring dinner theatre in Canada and voila! They reinvent themselves as all knowing gurus of personal and professional development and are a runaway success.

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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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Off The Grid Delivers Magic, Politics with Imaginative “The Weird”

 

by Mike Hoban

 

Written by Kirsten Greenidge, Obehi Janice, Lila Rose Kaplan, and John Kuntz. Directed by Steven Bogart. Presented by Off The Grid Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts through September 16

 

The Off The Grid Theatre Company continues to push the boundaries of conventional theater, following up last year’s brilliant and disturbing ‘Blasted’ with a decidedly tamer but thoroughly engaging original piece, The Weird, co-written by Boston playwrights Kirsten Greenidge, Obehi Janice, Lila Rose Kaplan, and John Kuntz. According to artistic director Alexis Scheer, the play was conceived with the four playwrights holed up in a room with 10 actors, a director (Steven Bogart) and dramaturg for a week in June, and were then given the summer to come up with their roughly 20 minute segments, which were then knit together to produce the play. The segments, which span from the time of the Salem witch trials to more contemporary settings, revolve around the themes of magic, religion, politics, and the empowerment of women.

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“Plank” Beautifully Examines Nature Versus Society

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Plank’Written by John Greiner-Ferris. Directed by Megan Schy Gleeson. Presented by the Alley Cat Theater at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts through September 16

 

Playwright John Greiner-Ferris’ metaphorical new work makes the case for an idyllic isolationist existence in nature versus what he sees as the rigid structure and empty spiritual realm of digitized 21st Century. And while his vision may be a little black and white, it’s a game effort, worth seeing for its visuals as well as the performance by lead actor Poornima Kirby. Kirby is utterly charming as Potpee (Person on the Plank), the guileless young woman who finds herself adrift at sea before washing up on the shores of a seemingly Trump-less but nonetheless hostile USA-like land, where we are apparently powerless over the Facebook/cell phone/celebrity culture that is stealing our souls.

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“GYPSY” at Lyric Stage

 

by Tony Annicone

 

Lyric Stage Company’s opening show of their season is the hit 1959 musical “Gypsy” with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents. This musical is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of famous striptease artist, Gypsy Rose Lee. It is the biography of Gypsy and her mother, Rose and is the classic musical fable of the definitive stage mother, Momma Rose. It follows the daughter’s life from her early days in vaudeville with her younger sister, June Havoc, to her successful career in burlesque.

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‘The Odd Couple” – (Arctic Playhouse West Warwick, RI)

by Cindy Killavey

 

 

The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, The Arctic Playhouse, 117 Washington Street, West Warwick, RI through September 17

 

Oscar Madison and his card-playing cronies learn that Felix Unger is missing after his wife ends their 12 year marriage. When Felix arrives on the scene the friends try to cheer him up to no avail.. In the end, Oscar, who isn’t phased by clutter, insists Felix, “Mr. Clean”, stay with him. Oscar learns to regret this decision to the delight of the opening night crowd.

 

The card players include Tony Annicone as Speed; Anthony Capraro as Vinnie; J.P. McCormick as Murray and Bob Mignarri as Roy. This ensemble seamlessly trades barbs and witty dialogue and their reactions to Felix, crying in the bathroom and the mayhem when they think that he has swallowed a whole bottle of pills, draws hearty laughter from the audience.  The stage at this black box theater is intimate and directors John Faiola and Geoff Monti used some creative blocking for the several “chases” in the performance which the cast handled perfectly. Set changes were handled by the card players between the acts, another clever Directorial choice.

 

Henryce “Hen” Zannini and Denise Izzi are Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon These English “birds of a feather” are extremely entertaining.  The way they interact with each other would have you believing they really are sisters.

 

It’s easy to see that Fred Davidson (Oscar) and John Faiola (who wears two hats as Director and as Felix) have performed in these roles before. The chemistry between the two is palpable. Oscar’s eye rolls and bluster are a perfect foil for Felix’s mobile face and gestures. John’s ladle work is priceless.  When Felix turns what Oscar had hoped would be a romantic evening with the Pigeon sisters into a group sob fest, it’s the last straw.

 

Co-Director and first time Stage Manager Geoffrey Monti keeps things running smoothly throughout and the music choices are perfect.

 

For a wonderful evening of terrific theater, laugh-out-loud humor and delicious popcorn & cookies, don’t miss this show. Call for reservations as several performances are already sold out!!

 

www.TheArcticPlayhouse.com

401-573-3443