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

 

It’s the End of the World as We Know It, So Let’s “Burn All Night”

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Book and Lyrics by Andy Mientus. Music by Van Hughes, Nicholas LaGrasta, and Brett Moses. Directed by Jenny Koons. Scenic Design by Sara Brown; Choreography by Sam Pinkleton; Costume Design by Evan Prizant, Lighting Design by Bradley King; Sound Design by Jessica Paz; Music Direction by Cian McCarthy. Produced by the American Repertory Theater at Oberon, 2 Arrow St, Cambridge, through Sept. 8

 

There’s a scene in the second act of “Burn All Night”, the millennial musical now making its world premiere at Oberon, where four friends are partying hard while waiting for the apocalypse, when they decide to engage in a faux philosophical game of “What would you do if the world were ending tomorrow?” The answer by one of them – that he would essentially get spectacularly wasted – angers the alleged deep thinker of the group, who was undoubtedly hoping for something a little more substantial. The unintentional irony is that the same holds true for much of “Burn” a frothy new work by Broadway and television star (and first time playwright) Andy Mientus, who has created a show that delivers high energy entertainment – but little of its promised depth.

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NSMT’s ‘YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN’ a Monstrously Riotous Musical Comedy

By Sheila Barth

BOX INFO: Two act musical comedy by Mel Brooks, appearing through August 27, at Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly: Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, 2 p.m. $57-$82. Kids ages 18-under, 50 percent off at all performances. 978-232-7200, nsmt.org.

 

A four-sided scrim bearing a large, foreboding, black and white image of a horror film-style castle on the hill greets theatergoers as they face North Shore Music Theater’s stage. Eerie sounds echo in surround-sound, while gusts of stage fog spurt around them, temporarily obfuscating their view. Chains rattle.  An ominous buzz saw whirrs. Voices groan, moan, howl, in the distance, while ancient-style lanterns set  intaglio in archways adorn the background of the theater-in-the-round. Cacophony abounds. Like an olden-style, black-and-white horror movie, the scrim beams a movie company logo, and announces the film, its stars, producers, directors, etc., then transforms live, in color, to a European village.

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“THE PRODUCERS” Theatre by the Sea, Matunuck, RI

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The closing show of the 84th season of Theatre by the Sea is the Broadway sensation “The Producers” which is based on the Mel Brooks Academy Award winning 1968 film. This bawdy musical is the story of down on his luck theatrical producer, Max Bialystock and a mousy accountant, Leo Bloom. Their “sure fire” theatrical fiasco is none other than the musical “Springtime for Hitler” written by neo-Nazi, Franz Liebkind, an ex-Nazi storm trooper which tells of the rise of Hitler to power in song and dance.

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“Babes” Shine in Horovitz’s Latest at GSC

(Debra Wise, Paula Plum, and Sarah Hickler in GSC’s Out of the Mouths of Babes)

 

by Mike Hoban

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes – Written & Directed by Israel Horovitz; Set Design by Jenna McFarland Lord; Costume Design by Jane Alois Stein; Lighting Design by Russ Swift; Sound Design by David Remedios. Presented by the Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester through September 2

 

Can four women, each of whom was the live-in lover of the same recently deceased man for prolonged periods of time, co-exist under the same roof – even if it’s to attend his funeral?

 

That’s the premise of Israel Horovitz’s latest work, “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” an airy but laugh-filled comedy now making its New England premiere at Gloucester Stage after a sold-out Off-Broadway run last summer. Complicating matters is the fact that the deceased had cheated on and left all of the assembled women (except possibly the final wife) for other women now sharing the same apartment – the one in which they had all lived in with him. So if all that tension sounds like a springboard for a comedic jousting match, you’re correct, and Horovitz (who also directed) assembles some of Boston’s top female talent to deliver the goods.

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“YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Welcome to the wild and crazy world of Mel Brooks at the North Shore Music Theatre. Their summer blockbuster hit musical is “Young Frankenstein” with no expense spared by owner and producer Bill Hanney to bring it to this 62 year old gem of a theatre. This hysterically funny musical is an inspired retelling of the Frankenstein legend based on Mel Brooks’s 1974 classic comedy movie masterpiece.

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“Bell Book and Candle” at 2nd Story, Warren RI

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

By Richard Pacheco

The 2nd Story Production of the classic John Van Druten play, “Bell, Book and Candle” is refreshing, spirited and well acted. Onstage attempts at efforts which involve magic can go badly awry, but not here. The Broadway play was turned into a film with Kim Novak and James Stewart and on Broadway with Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer in the lead roles.

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