“In the Heights” Soars at Wheelock Family Theatre

 

By Michele Markarian

 

In the Heights.  Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Book Quiara Alegria Hudes.  Directed by Rachel Bertone.   Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA, through November 19.

 

I don’t know if anyone remembers watching the 2008 Tony awards, but the winner of that year’s Best Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapped his acceptance speech. “What an odd little guy”, I thought, with a mixture of admiration and disdain (even for the Tonys, it was an unusual form of acceptance speech). I never felt compelled to see “In the Heights”, but given the quality of Wheelock Family Theatre’s musical productions, I figured, why not?  This wonderful show, expertly directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone, does not disappoint.

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Lyric’s “Souvenir” a Keeper

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Souvenir’ – Written by Stephen Temperley.  Directed by Spiro Veloudos.  Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA through November 19.

 

“How many people have already seen the show?” asked Producing Artistic Director Spiro Veloudos during his curtain speech. A large number of hands went up in the audience. “What the heck?  Who sees a show twice?” I thought. After seeing “Souvenir” once, I get it.  This is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen all year, with its two performers wonderfully in tune with each another.

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‘Silent Sky’ Shines Brightly at MRT

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Silent Sky’ – Written by Lauren Gunderson; Directed by Sean Daniels; Set Design by James J. Fenton; Costume Design by Anne Kennedy; Lighting Design by Brian J. Lilienthal; and Original Composition and Sound by David Keeton. Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the 50 East Merrimack Street through November 12

 

Lauren Gunderson’s ‘Silent Sky’, now being given glorious life by Merrimack Rep’s first rate production, is proof positive that science can indeed be fun. It certainly helps that it’s the science of the stars – and its infinite possibilities – at the heart of this dramedy, which is uplifting without hitting us over the head with the very real importance of its subject matter. Silent Sky tells the story of Henrietta Swan Leavitt, the groundbreaking astronomer who devised a method of analysis that established “the relationship between period and luminosity in Cepheid variables” – which essentially provided the building blocks for the discovery that the universe is considerably bigger (by billions of times) than previously thought.

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Huntington’s “A Guide for the Homesick” Artfully Mixes Global Politics, Personal Pain

 

by Mike Hoban

 

A Guide for the Homesick – Written by Ken Urban. Directed by Colman Domingo. Scenic Design by William Boles; Original Music and Sound Design by Lindsay Jones; Costume Design by Kara Harmon; Lighting Design by Russell H. Champa. Presented by Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, through Nov. 4.

 

About a third of the way through A Guide for the Homesick, the outstanding new drama being presented by the Huntington Theatre Company, it becomes apparent that this is not going to be your typical “boy-meets-boy, boy-is-closeted, boy-gets-boy” story. Instead, what we get is an utterly engrossing new work that weaves religiopolitical and mental health issues into a tale of two men (who just met) sharing their guilt and remorse over their potentially life-destroying screw-ups in a place far from home. The play, written by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ken Urban, features two Boston-born protagonists, and is fittingly receiving its premiere at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Calderwood Pavilion.

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“Oleanna” Stirs a Disturbing Debate

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Oleanna’ – Written by David Mamet.  Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue. Presented by New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA through November 5

 

I feel like I need to start this review off by saying that I am – absolutely – a feminist.  Keep reading, and you’ll see why.

 

“Oleanna” takes place in the office of John (Johnny Lee Davenport), a professor at a college whose impending tenure has just been announced. The subsequent raise in pay is allowing him to purchase a new home. A series of phone calls negotiating the details of this real estate transaction is interrupted by the arrival of Carol (Obehi Janice), a student who claims to be having difficulty with his class and in particular, his textbook. The textbook, one that he has authored himself, refers to higher education as “systematic hazing”. As someone who has worked hard to get herself to college, Carol is deeply offended by this. As she despairs at being too “stupid” to understand what is going on in his classroom, John offers to give her an A, if she agrees to meet with him for tutoring sessions. This decision will ultimately be John’s downfall.

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Trinity Rep’s “DEATH OF A SALESMAN” is a Masterpiece

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The opening show of Trinity Repertory Company’s 54th season is “Death of a Salesman”, a 1949 play by Arthur Miller. It was the 1949 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. The play premiered on Broadway in February, 1949 and ran for 742 performances, and has been revived on Broadway four times, winning three Tony Awards for Best Revival. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century. It explodes with poignancy and relevance. In 1947 Brooklyn, Willy Loman desperately craves success for himself and his two sons, but stark reality cannot live up to his dreams.The wall of delusions that he has constructed quietly crumbles around him while a devastated and demoralized man searches in vain for a hidden path to greatness. Director Brian McEleney takes this masterpiece of a show and makes it relevant to contemporary audiences so they can see each person’s struggle to achieve their ambitions and dreams is universal and not confined to the 1940’s. They can apply lessons learned from the past into their own lives during these uncertain and turbulent times. Beware of the past for if you don’t learn from it, it will come back and bite you on the butt. Brian not only blocks the show brilliantly but with his keen eye and insight into these characters brings out the best in his very talented cast, too. This show is electrifying and is the must see show of this season.

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Gloucester Stage’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” Brilliantly Evokes the Bad Old Days

 

By Sheila Barth

 

Some things never change.

We say they do. Over the years, we claim, there have been sweeping, amazing, changes.
But people don’t change. Sadly, there’s a stagnancy in human nature and conditions. Such is the case with Christopher Sergel’s striking stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic 1960 novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,”  with Gloucester Stage’s blended cast of outstanding professional and local actors, skillfully directed by award-winning Boston director-Boston University educator, Judy Braha.

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Ogunquit Playhouse’s ‘FROM HERE TO ETERNITY a Powerful, Dramatic Musical

By Sheila Barth

 

Okay- straight out – Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of new musical “From Here to Eternity” is so overwhelming, realistic, and gut-wrenching, it’s the hardest-hitting musical I’ve seen in a while. Some of you remember the dramatic movie that won Frank Sinatra an Academy Award and took several other Oscars. The movie was superlative, and this new musical seems slated for success.

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MARY POPPINS (Uncommon Theatre, Foxboro)

MARY POPPINS
Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of Walt Disney with “Mary Poppins” and the opening musical of Uncommon Theatre’s 38th season. This musical opened on Broadway on November 16, 2006, closed on March 3, 2013 and ran for 2619 performances. It is now a full Broadway musical with 44 major awards worldwide. The story of Mary Poppins, the magical nanny who flies into the troubled lives of the Banks children will dazzle and delight audiences of all ages. Bert, the chimney sweep welcomes the audience into the world of “Mary Poppins” with “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” We then follow Mary’s exploits throughout all of London where she charms each person she comes in contact with. The talent of this cast captures the hearts of all members of the audience by propelling them to their feet at curtain call. Director Meg Dussault, music director Linda Barbieri, orchestra director Esther Zabinski and choreographer, Anna Pietal  definitely out do themselves with this spectacular musical.

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LEGALLY BLONDE – (Dean College)

LEGALLY BLONDE
Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The School of Arts at Dean College’s fall musical is “Legally Blonde, the Musical” which is based on the Amanda Brown novel and the 2001 movie which starred Reese Witherspoon. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl from Delta Nu who is the college sweetheart and home coming queen who doesn’t take no for an answer. So when her boyfriend, Warner dumps her for someone more “serious”, she puts down the books, heads to Harvard Law School to win him back. Along the way Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style. She also discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others and defends fitness guru, Brooke Windham from murder charges. Director Ali Angelone creates a high energy contemporary musical with her keen insight into these comic characters while musical director taught them all these musical numbers does so while playing lead keyboards and conducting a seven piece orchestra. Ali who is also the choreographer, supplies the dance numbers that stop the show with their power and execution. Their combined expertise wins the cast a standing ovation at the curtain call.

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