THE GREAT GATSBY (Burbage Theatre Company, Pawtucket)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Burbage Theatre Company’s second show of their season is “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is their first show in their new location in Pawtucket. This classic novel from 1925 has been adapted for the stage by Simon Levy, it remains the evocative story of the pursuit of wealth and romance in The Jazz Age of the roaring 1920’s. Enigmatic self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby pursues the married, moneyed Daisy Buchanan as his party guests drink and Charleston their frenzied way of life at his opulent Long Island mansion.

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Halloween Family Fun with ‘THE ADDAMS FAMILY’

By Sheila Barth
A nod of the shroud to North Shore’s Stage 284 for its two-act, two-hour finger-snapping, fun production of musical comedy ”The Addams Family”.  Based on Charles Addams’ cartoons, the spoofy, spooky, kooky family play resurrects the popular 1960‘s TV wacky, weird, family, and their creepy, abnormal, anti-societal demeanor.

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Bill Hanney’s NSMT ‘EVITA’ Evokes Excitement and Tears

 

By Sheila Barth

 

BOX INFO: Under two-hour, two-act, multimedia musical production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1980 multi-Tony Award winner and others, appearing through October 8: Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; matinees, Wednesday, Saturday Sunday, 2 p.m. Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly. $57-$82; kids 18-under, 50 percent discount. nsmt.org, 978-232-7200.

 

While dynamic, dying, populist First Lady Eva Peron sings to the masses,”Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” members of Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre audiences stifled tears, identifying with the grieving masses who deified the beautiful performer-turned-political leader.

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Jesus Christ Superstar, Bristol Community College, Fall River

Jesus Christ Superstar, Bristol Community College, Fall River

Janice MacDonald’s Studio Theatre Company

October 19-21, 2017

 

By Sue Nedar

 

Going into the theatre last night, I was filled with hopeful anticipation.  Jesus Christ Superstar, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s crown jewel piece, is this reviewer’s all-time favorite show.  It holds a very special sentimental place in my heart – but that’s another story.

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YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The current show at MMAS is the 1999 revival version of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” which is based on Charles Schultz’s beloved “Peanuts” comic strip. The revival opened on February 5. 1999 and made a star out of Kristen Chenoweth, winning her the Tony Award for best featured actress as Sally Brown. The show takes us through an average day in the life of Charlie Brown. The audience catches a glimpse of their favorite characters and includes many moments from all the days of his life from Valentine’s Day to baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair. They include all his friends. both human and non-human and strung together on the string of a single day, from bright uncertain morning to hopeful starlit evening. Director/choreographer Adam Joy infuses the musical with high energy from start to finish with his talented cast while musical director Eli Bigelow not only conducts his five piece orchestra but plays keyboards and taught them this glorious music. They are rewarded with a resounding ovation at curtain call.

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“Hair” Still Rocks at Fifty

 

By Michele Markarian

 

“Hair” – Book and Lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Music by Galt MacDermont.  Directed by Joey C. Pelletier. Presented by Heart and Dagger Productions at Club Café, 209 Columbus Avenue, Boston, through October 20.

 

I was a little kid when my parents bought the album of the original Broadway cast of “Hair”, after they’d gone to New York to see it. I thought the music was contagious and would sing along to the soundtrack.  My naïve mother didn’t know the meaning of the words in “Sodomy” any more than I did, so the singing worked out nicely.  Years later, I found a book in our local library by original cast member Lorrie Davis, called “Letting Down My Hair: Two Years With the Love Rock Tribe–From Dawning to Downing of Aquarius”. Fans of “Hair”, this book is not to be missed!  ($30 used on Amazon.)  I read and reread it cover to cover until my mother, who had wised up by then, got her hands on it and declared it “filthy”. Years later, as a young theater reviewer in college, I volunteered to see a Brown University production of “Hair”. The show itself was excellent, but I was disappointed to experience it as a piece of history, rather than something relevant to the times.

 

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THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Stadium Theatre’s current musical extravaganza is “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, a new musical which debuted at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in October, 2014. Then in March, 2015 it played at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey. Both theatres have had shows transferred to Broadway. Unfortunately this musical did not make it and why is a complete mystery to me. This version is based on the Victor Hugo 1831 novel which was transformed by Disney into an animated film in 1996. This version has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Peter Parnell. However this is not the usual happy musical from Disney where everyone lives happily ever after. The songs from the Disney film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are powerful and potent and the tale dark and Gothic but still it is an entrancing and enticing musical to see and savor. Director Becca Donald and musical director Mark Colozzi pick the best performers for these roles and infuse them with high energy all night long. Mark plays lead keyboards and conducts a fabulous 9 piece orchestra and obtains awesome harmonies from the cast. Choreographer Matt Parello supplies some upbeat dances to lighten up the show in some of the gypsy sequences. Their expertise wins a very well deserved spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the performance.

 

The storyline is a deformed man, Quasimodo is hidden from the world by his devious caretaker and longingly observes all of Paris from atop a bell tower. However during the Feast of the Fools, he escapes for the day to join the crowd, discovering both the cruelty and compassion of strangers and new friends he must defend from a familiar evil. Becca blocks this huge epic musical splendidly on a fantastic two story cathedral style set by Wayne Boucher. She brings every ounce of pathos pouring out to the very appreciative audience. The multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Eve Lajoie, Gina Giuliano, Linda McDermott, Dean Hernandez and Caroline Tillinghast . Jack Cappadona does a magnificent job as Quasimodo, the poor tormented creature whose only friends are the gargoyles of Notre Dame. He captures the pathos of this character perfectly and acts his heart out in this role. Jack’s voice is so powerful as he renders the hopeful “Out There” where he yearns to be like other people, “Heaven’s Light” and the 11th hour show stopping song “Made of Stone” which is despairing but all are fabulously sung by this young man who should be a professional performer after seeing him in this performance. Hannah Duhamel also shines as Esmeralda, the gypsy who captures Quasimodo’s heart. She is a gorgeous brunette with a beautiful voice which is heard with the chorus in “God Help the Outcasts” and in “Someday”, a duet with Phoebus where people should learn to live with each other peacefully after facing prejudice against the gypsies. Hannah also sings the poignant “Top of the World” song with Jack when he brings her to the bell tower.

 

Powerful vocalist Cooper Ceruolo plays the Captain of the guard, Phoebus who falls in love with Esmeralda. His voice is heard in “Rest and Recreation” and “The Court of Miracles.” I last reviewed him as Chris in “Miss Saigon” at the Stadium. John McElroy Morgan as Frollo, the pious archdeacon who lusts after Esmeralda and becomes more depraved. He is terrific as this pious but bigoted man whose hate for the gypsies overpowers his religious nature and he also treats his nephew, Quasimodo with disdain due to his father’s assignation with a gypsy girl. When Frollo meets Esmeralda, his dark side comes out. John is onstage almost the whole musical. His powerful voice is heard in “Hellfire” with the choir. He sends chills up your spine with this bloodthirsty song and his malevolent character. The chorus and congregation vocalists are incredible and their voices soar in the group numbers especially in “The Bells of Notre Dame”, the Latin songs, “Justice in Paris” and “While the City Slumbered.”  Mark does a magnificent job with the soaring, beautiful harmonies of these numbers. So for a splendid new epic musical, be sure to catch “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Stadium Theatre before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (20 to 22 October)

Stadium Theatre, 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket, RI

THE CRAZY TIME , Newport Playhouse

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome back to the 1970’s and the battle of the sexes in the current show at Newport Playhouse, “The Crazy Time” by Sam Bobrick. Miles Gladstone finds himself making some drastic midlife changes after leaving his wife of thirty years and marrying a gorgeous woman half his age. Just six months into his new marriage, his new wife is nowhere to be found, his daughter Susan fears that her marriage is headed down the same road as her parents. Miles, business partner Jerry is plotting a hostile takeover and surprisingly ex-wife Kate is back in his life but now involved with a much younger boyfriend. The crazy time occurs in your lives when outside distractions lead you astray from your path of life. Director Rick Bagley infuses his cast with keen insight into these comic roles and they lead the audience on a merry romp after the audience enjoys an all you can eat buffet before the show and a delightful, fun filled cabaret afterwards.

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ANNIE, (Pawtucket Community Players)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The first show of The Community Players 97th season is “Annie” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. This show is based on Harold Gray’s comic strip Little Orphan Annie, it won 7 Tony Awards and ran for 2,377 performances. With a combination of street smarts and optimism, Annie rises from next to nothing in 1930’s New York. She is determined to find her parents, who left her in the orphanage years ago in the clutches of the evil Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other orphans, Annie manages to foil Hannigan’s greedy plans and find a family with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his secretary, Grace and Annie’s lovable dog, Sandy. It has insightful direction by Brian Mulvey, topnotch music direction by Ron Procopio who plays lead keyboards and conducts a 7 piece orchestra and some energetic dance numbers by Leslie Racine Vazquez. Their combined expertise wins the cast a resounding standing ovation at the close of the show.

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LEADING LADIES (Rhode Island College)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

“Leading Ladies” by Ken Ludwig takes place one month in the spring of 1958 in York, Pennsylvania. Written by the author of “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo”, this hilarious comedy is Rhode Island College Theatre Department’s current show. In this play two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Shrewsbury, PA. When they hear that Florence, an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her relatives and get the cash.

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