Onward to Glory with “Man of La Mancha”

By Michele Markarian

 

Man of La Mancha, by Dale Wasserman. Music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion.  Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman.  Presented by New Repertory Theatre, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown through December 31.

 

“Man of La Mancha” is based on the story of Miguel de Cervantes, one of Spain’s – and the world’s – most eminent authors. Cervantes was imprisoned many times over the course of his lifetime, usually for financial reasons, and managed to survive five years in captivity by pirates during his early military career. Throughout his captivity, his love for literature kept him going, setting the stage for his creation, Don Quixote, the nobleman who wishes to restore chivalry by becoming a knight in a world that’s decidedly harsh. With the help of a recruit, poor dumb farmer Sancho Panza, who serves as his squire, and his courtly love towards the lowly born Aldonza (renamed Dulcinea), Don Quixote attempts to live out his reality in his world where chivalry thrives.

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Praxis’ Successfully Blends Comedy, Political Commentary in ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Accidental Death of an Anarchist – Written by Dario Fo; Adapted/Translated by Gavin Richards & Gillian Hanna; Directed by James Peter Sotis. Presented by Praxis Stage at First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston through December 17

 

Who says political theater has to be dour?

Not Praxis Stage, which has updated Dario Fo’s 1970 farce, the Accidental Death of an Anarchist, to deliver a very funny take on how western capitalist political systems “deal with” dissent. The re-worked script also fires a few broadsides at the circus that is the current United States political debacle, with references to “alternative facts” and “Fake News” sprinkled throughout. The play is based on a real life case where an anarchist, who was being interrogated in connection with a 1969 bank bombing in Italy, either jumped or was thrown to his death from the fourth-story window of a Milan police station. If that sounds a little heavy-handed, don’t worry, there’s plenty of clever dialogue and physical comedy to keep the non-Democratic Socialists entertained.

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Women Stand Strong in Boch Center’s Magnificent ‘The Color Purple’

 

by Mike Hoban

 

The Color Purple – Based on the novel by Alice Walker; Book by Marsha Norman; Directed by John Doyle. Music and Lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray; Set Design by John Doyle, Costumes by Ann Hould-Ward; Lighting by Jane Cox; Sound by Dan Moses Schreier. Presented by the Boch Center Shubert Theatre through December 3.

 

For those who believe that pain and suffering are indeed the gateways to a spiritual life, then Celie, the central character of The Color Purple, must surely be the poster girl for that philosophy. Celie suffers through presumed incest, teen pregnancy, and losing her children all by the time she turns 15, and the years that follow don’t get much better. But through persistence and prayer she endures her trials and tribulations and transforms herself into a strong woman of dignity and honor before our eyes.

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Greater Boston Stages’ ‘She Loves Me’ is a Delight

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘She Loves Me’ – Book by Joe Masteroff; Music by Jerry Bock; Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; Based on a play by Miklos Laszio. Directed by Ilyse Robbins; Music Direction by Matthew Stern; Scenic Design by Brynna Bloomfield; Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg; Costume Design by Gail Astrid Buckley; Sound Design by John Stone. Presented by the Greater Boston Stage Company at 395 Main St, Stoneham through December 23rd

 

The Greater Boston Stage Company and director Ilyse Robbins have again mined gold from Broadway’s lesser known catalogue, following up the wonderfully campy season opener Dames at Sea with an utterly charming production of She Loves Me, which debuted on Broadway in 1963. Featuring two of Boston’s most gifted female musical theater actors (Jennifer Ellis and Aimee Doherty – both fresh off sterling performances in the Huntington’s Merrily We Roll Along) as well as a pair of Boston’s emerging leading men (Sam Simahk and Jared Troilo), She Loves Me is a delight.

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Laughter Abounds in Moonbox Productions’ “The 39 Steps”

(Cirone, Zahnzinger, Mussett and Gazdowicz in Moonbox Productions’ “The 39 Steps”)

 

by Michele Markarian

 

“The 39 Steps”. Written by Evan George Patrick Barlow. Directed by Allison Olivia Choat.  Presented by Moonbox Productions, the Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston through December 9.

 

“I was bored – no, more than bored, tired,” begins the play’s hapless, world weary protagonist, Richard Hannay (Kevin Cirrone), from a rented flat in London.  He decides to go to the theater, where he meets a mysterious woman (Sarah Gazdowicz, playing one of three roles) who, after shooting off a gun in the theater, asks if she can spend the night. When his guest is mysteriously murdered, Hannay is the suspect-at-large and goes on the run, but not before the dying woman gives him the address of a professor in Scotland with the cryptic phrase, “the 39 steps.” It is here that Hannay’s boredom ends and his adventure begins, as he journeys to Scotland. Along the way, he meets another young woman as well as a multitude of characters, some benign, some nefarious, many inept, and all played by Man 1 (Bob Mussett) and Man 2 (Matthew Zahnzinger).

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Company Theatre’s “Company for the Holidays” Sparks Holiday Spirit

 

by Evan McKenna

 

“Company for the Holidays: A Christmas Spectacular” – Directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, Music arranged by Steve Bass and Chris Hansen, music direction and several original arrangements by Steve Bass, choreography by Sally Ashton Forrest, costume design by Kathryn Ridder, lighting design by Adam Clark, set design by Ryan Barrow and James A. Valentin. Through 12/17

 

While Black Friday deals and long lines at the Christmas Tree Shop remind us that December is almost here, gifts and Christmas decorations don’t always spark that genuine holiday spirit. It’s family, song, and traditions that give Christmas its true essence, and that’s what Company Theatre’s “Company for the Holidays: A Christmas Spectacular,” which premiered Friday, illustrates so well, making it the perfect entré into the Holiday season.

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Greater Boston Stage’s ‘She Loves Me’ a Joyful Musical Journey

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Greater Stage of Boston’s winter show this year is Joe Masteroff’s 1963 musical, “She Loves Me” with music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (who also wrote “Fiddler on the Roof.”) This musical is based on a 1930’s play by Miklos Laszlo on which the movies “The Shop Around the Corner”, “In the Good Old Summertime” and “You’ve Got Mail” are also based. “She Loves Me” takes place in a perfume shop in Hungary in 1930 and the characters live in a world of love and longing.

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Huntington’s Hilarious ‘Tartuffe’ Keeps Classic Relevant

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Tartuffe’ – Written by Molière, Translated by Ranjit Bolt, Directed by Peter DuBois; Scenic Design, Alexander Dodge; Costume Design, Anita Yavich; Lighting Design, Christopher Akerlind; Sound Design, Ben Emerson; Choreographer, Daniel Pelzig; Original Music, Peter Golub. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts/Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, through December 10

 

As someone who did not grow up reading the classics, and came into the theater later in life, I must admit that I don’t usually share the same sense of glee as some of my counterparts when it comes to reviewing plays written before the 19th century. The archaic language and rhythmic structure often make it difficult for the untrained ear to follow, and by the time I catch on, the first act is usually half over. Such is not the case with Tartuffe, the wickedly funny 1664 comedy by Molière now being staged at the Huntington. Powered by a wonderfully oily performance by Brett Gelman in the title role, Tartuffe is as accessible as any 20th century work, and a howl to boot.

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Oberon’s “The Fever” Brings Sense of Community to Theatrical Experience

 

by Mike Hoban

 

The Fever – Written and Directed by Abigail Browde & Michael Silverstone. Created in collaboration with Brandon Wolcott, Emil Abramyan, and Eric Southern. Produced by Oberon in collaboration with 600 Highwaymen. Performed at the Ex at the Loeb Theatre, 64 Brattle St. Cambridge through November 19

 

If you’re one of those folks who is a little (or a lot) skittish about the thought of attending a show where audience participation is built into the theatrical experience, relax, The Fever is not that kind of a show. In fact, it’s not really a “show” at all, certainly not in any traditional theatrical sense. This oddly compelling piece plays more like a social experiment in unforced compliance than theater, but it works in a way that never feels forced or hokey.

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Trinity Rep’s 40th Anniversary “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” A Holiday Gem

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Trinity Repertory Company ushers in the holiday season for their 40th Anniversary of their production of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and adapted by Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming. The show’s underlying themes of charity, forbearance and benevolence are universal and are equally relevant to people of all religions and backgrounds especially with the unsettling events in this country and around the world. This familiar tale is about the curmudgeonly miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghosts of Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Present and Future who hope to change his destiny and save his soul to ultimately discover the true meaning of Christmas.

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