“SISTER ACT” (Company Theatre)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Company Theatre’s current musical is “Sister Act”, the international smash hit musical based on the mega-hit, 1992 film that starred Whoppi Goldberg. Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman spare no expense in bringing the highest quality productions and the highest quality of talent to this historic theatre and this one is another feather in their cap. When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in one place that cops think she can’t be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun,

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‘Sister Anonymous’ Adds New AA Chapter with Compassion, Humor

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Sister Anonymous – Written by Catherine M. O’Neill; Directed by Kelly E. Smith; Presented by Second Act Productions at the Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston  through March 18.

 

Ever since Alcoholics Anonymous emerged from the shadows with the publication of Jack Alexander’s Saturday Evening Post article in 1941, any account of the formation of the fellowship that would transform the lives of millions of “drunks” and their families has always focused on its founders, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. But as Wilson and Smith readily admitted, they received a lot of help – divine and otherwise – in launching and building upon their ideas.

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“Little Women” (Ocean State Theatre)

 

By Richard Pacheco

 

Little Women: The Musical”, which takes on the novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, is a pleasant enough look at novel which seems to lack full, deeper characters, instead content to dwell more on the surface of traits and events while lacking the nuance and details that makes that vivid onstage. If it has a saving grace, it lies in the talented cast who manage to bring some of the lacking qualities to the fore.

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ART’s ‘Night of the Iguana’

 

By Daniel Gewertz

 

 Night of the Iguana – Written by Tennessee Williams; Directed by Michael Wilson; Scenic Design by Derek McLane; Costume Design by Catherine Zuber: Lighting Design by David Lander; Sound Design by John Gromada. Presented by The American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge through March 18.

 

“The Night of the Iguana” doesn’t get produced as frequently as the other half-dozen of Tennessee Williams’ essential plays. That’s not just because it didn’t win as many awards or sell as many tickets as “Glass Menagerie” or “Streetcar” or “Cat.” It is also among the playwright’s most difficult to pull off.  Like Williams’ other major works, “Iguana” possesses a brilliant balance of dueling forces: each character represents a crucial human trait, or, in the more complex characters, a troublesome clash of traits, and their battle is metaphoric and philosophic as well as psychological.  The character of Shannon, the dissolute, sinful, regretful ex-pastor, plays a more dominant part in this drama than the leading men do in most other major works of the Williams’ canon.  (This dominance has less to do with the number of lines as to the fact that in “Iguana,” Shannon’s female counterweight is portrayed by two characters, the lusty Maxine and the spiritual Hannah.)

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Rousing Folk Rock in Stoneham’s ‘Jonah’ as Real as It Gets

 

By CJ Williams

 

Jonah and the Whale – Book written by Tyler Mills; Music and Lyrics by David Barrow and Blake Thomas; Directed by Weylin Symes; Scenic Design by Katheryn Monthei; Costume Design by Deirdre Gerrard: Lighting Design by Christopher Fournier; Sound Design by John Stone. Presented by The Stoneham Theatre 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA 02180 through March 12.

 

“It wasn’t real,” says a character at one point in ‘Jonah’, the newish musical now making its New England premiere at the Stoneham Theatre. But in this rousing new folk-rock musical, that’s not the answer, rather, it’s a question, and one that runs through the length of the show. As we get our sea legs, so to speak, on the theatrical ship, we’re pressed more and more to ask about reality, both what and why – What makes life worth living? What makes us human? But like that first statement, the answers the play gives are often more questions in disguise.

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The Sumptuous Tragedy of “Edward II”

 

By Michele Markarian

 

“Edward II” – Written by Christopher Marlowe; Directed by David R. Gammons; Set Designer, Sara Brown; Lighting Designer, Jeff Adelberg; Costume Designer,  Rachel Padula-Shufelt; Sound Designer, Dave Wilson. Presented by Actors Shakespeare Project, Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, through March 19.

 

By most accounts, Edward II was a failure as king, considered weak, inept, and prone to lavishing money on his favorites. He fathered at least one illegitimate child and was reputed to enjoy the company of lower-class people, including his alleged homosexual lover, Piers Gaveston. It is this relationship and its repercussions that are the focus of Christopher Marlowe’s accessible and exciting play, “Edward II”.

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ART Delivers Compelling Take on Williams’ ‘Night of The Iguana’

 

by Mike Hoban

 

Night of the Iguana – Written by Tennessee Williams; Directed by Michael Wilson; Scenic Design by Derek McLane; Costume Design by Catherine Zuber: Lighting Design by David Lander; Sound Design by John Gromada. Presented by The American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge through March 18.

 

In “Night of the Iguana” the star-studded production now being mounted by the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Tennessee Williams may ostensibly be tackling the weightier themes of sex and religion, but at its core, the play is still about loneliness in its many forms. Williams has assembled a collection of principal characters, led by a “defrocked” clergyman turned second-rate tour guide, that have lived their entire lives without ever making that vital – and risky – connection to another human being. And during the 24 hour span which “Iguana” takes place, we experience the messy process of watching the characters trying to make themselves whole by trying to find that human bond.

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“AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY” (Little Theatre of Fall River)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Little Theatre of Fall River’s current main stage show is “August Osage County” by Tracy Letts. The show won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize as well as five Tony Awards. It takes place in August, 2007 in a large country home outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It tells the story of the dysfunctional Weston family who all come together after the disappearance of Beverly Weston, the patriarch. The father opens the show when he is hiring an Indian woman, Johanna to look after his wife. He is a published poet who likes to quote T.S. Eliot. He delivers these ominous words “My wife takes pills and I drink. That is the bargain we have reached” which opens the gates to the adventure and whirlwind journey that the audience takes in this three act play. The couple’s three daughters, Barbara, Ivy and Karen are called back to the family home with husbands and beaus with them. Beverly’s wife, Violet is battling mouth cancer and a growing dependency on pain pills. They return to comfort their mother in her time of need and to try to get to the bottom of their father’s disappearance. Violet’s entire clan returns including her sister, Mattie Faye Aiken, her husband, Charles and their son, Little Charles. As the clan bickers and jokes, old truths come to the surface, jealousies flourish and eventually each one of the characters confront some past hurt and future fear. The moment as each one leaves Violet, is a marvelous moment in this show. It can be likened to Regina’s fate at the end of “The Little Foxes” when her daughter leaves her alone with her ill gotten gain of money. However this one is heard in the 21st Century. Director Roberto Soares casts these roles beautifully and obtains stunning performances from each one of them in this dramedy.

Leading this cast is Linda Monchik as Violet. Violet is an evil mom too end all evil moms, done with black comic moments thrown in the mix. She is excellent in this riveting role. The lesson to learn from these characters is you better be a good person or you’ll end up tasting your own poisonous venom. Her insults and running rough shod over the other characters is splendid to behold. The sordid secrets of the family come tumbling out wonderfully. Other colorful characters include Ron Caisse as Beverly, who delivers a strong monologue to start off the show as well as Violet’s strong willed daughters. Pamela Morgan is a powerhouse as Barbara. She delivers a tour-de-force performance. Her argument scene with her mother, husband, Bill and sisters are show stopping moments. These scenes are mesmerizing with their intensity. Michael McGill does a great job as Bill who tries to help his ex-wife with her problems with her dysfunctional family. Another impressive scene is the battle between Violet and Barbara about who will control the family. Violet needs Barbara’s help in Act 1 but then continually insults her in Act 2. Barbara finally puts her in her place in the dinner from hell sequence. It tells of the cruelty of family life but sometimes some kindness is thrown into the mix.

Erica Vitelli plays the youngest daughter, Ivy who has lived near her parents all her life. Now she wants to run off with Little Charles but there is a dark hidden secret that might explode at any moment. The argument scene between Linda, Pam and Erica is riveting and electrifying. Kathleen Povar plays the sexpot sister, Karen very well. She is engaged to Steve, a handsome cad in sheep’s clothing who tries to seduce her 14 year old niece, Jean. Strong performances are given in these roles by Ray Almeida Jr. as Steve and Shauna Brosky as Jean. Other amazing performers include Jay Burke as Charles who delivers a terrific speech to tell off his wife from insulting their son, the biggest scene stealer is Deb Sadler as Mattie Faye who delivers her many hilarious one liners perfectly and has a hidden secret that rocks the family with high intensity and Jeffrey Griffin as Little Charles who loves Ivy. Rounding out the cast are Nadine Goulet as Johanna and Richard Brosky as the Sheriff. So for a stunning, well written and provocative black comedy, be sure to catch “August Osage County” at Little Theatre of Fall River. It will definitely make you appreciate your own family after witnessing this messed up one. This electrifying show wins a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the night.  A word of praise for the stunning three story set designed by Roberto and built by George Sadler and his crew. Run do not walk to the box office before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY (16 to 19 March)

Little Theatre of Fall River, BCC, 777 Elsbree St, Fall River, MA

1(508)675-1852 or www.littletheatre.net

“ROMEO AND JULIET” (Community Theater)

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Players fourth show of their 108th season is “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. It is considered to be one of the greatest works of romantic literature. Written in 1591, it is a story of deep passions which come out as lover or violence, the tragic tale soars with the poetry of heartbreak and doomed but perfect love. It can also been seen as a contemporary play with gang violence, emotionally absent parents, generation gap frustrations, reckless youth, unbridled passion and torrid romantic love. Director Roger Lemelin casts his show splendidly and blends the comic and dramatic moments together marvelously, too.

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“Shirley Valentine” at 2nd Story Theatre

By Richard Pacheco

 

“Shirley Valentine” is a one-character play by Willy Russell. Taking the form of a monologue by a middle-aged, working class Liverpool housewife, it focuses on her life before and after a transforming holiday abroad. Russell turned the acclaimed play into a film staring the actress who did the show on stage in London’s West End, Pauline Collins.

 

The current production at 2nd Story offers a bravura performance by Joanne Fayan that bristles, sparkles and delights without hesitation and without stop.

 

Shirley is stuck in her life, caught and trapped in the dull day to day in Liverpool. There seems to be no escape from her doldrums which daily encroach on her and only leave her with faded dreams and lost hopes, in short leave her in a dismal state longing for more. Shirley finds herself regularly alone and talking to the wall while preparing an evening meal of egg and chips for her emotionally distant husband. Her friend whose husband left her for the milkman, offers to take her along on a trip to Greece, all expenses paid and Shirley can’t resist. Her two children often annoy and distress her with their attitudes and antics. Her husband is often distant and self-absorbed leaving her feeling trapped with no way out of her dilemma, which only seems to get worse everyday.

So when she heads off to Greece she does with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Here is a chance to revive herself and her life to reconnect with the Shirley Valentine who was bold and daring and tamed down when she became a wife, misplacing her sense of daring and love of life. In Greece, she is ignites in her love of life and herself once again, reviving her sense of daring and adventure, stirring her courage once again.

Joanne Fayan is raw delight in the role. She is poised and astute in her depiction of Shirley’s conflicting fees and dreams. She has personality that she exudes without fail. When she rants about her husband and her disappointments, it is comic gems, delivered with the right mixture so sassy and smart. The only thing missing from the performance is a Liverpool accent and frankly with this kind of gem of a performance, that is minimal and better no accent that a horrid one. Fayan’s performance makes up for this with a zest and convincing passion that illuminates the stage.

Mark Peckham directs with a sureness of touch and real energy, which takes full advantage of the theater in the round set up at 2nd Story’s upstairs theatre. He moves her with grace and supple confidence throughout the space, a sheer delight.

The setting and light design by Max Ponticelli is right on the mark evoking both the Liverpool flat and the Greek ruins with discrete and slight touches that work perfectly.

This is a bold and superb performance that shimmers with verve and personality, leaving an indelible mark in the memory and the heart. Ms.Fayan got a well deserved standing ovation at the end for her memorable performance. You don’t want to miss it.

It will be presented again until April 2in the Upstage theater with tickets: Regular – $35, Preview (online) – $20, Preview (phone/in-person) – $25. Under 25 – $25* Matinees are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday matinees at 2:30.