Huntington’s “Merrily We Roll Along” A Winner

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Huntington Theatre’s opening show of their season is “Merrily We Roll Along” Stephen Sondheim’s, musical of friendship and ambition. It is based on the 1934 play with the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. “Merrily We Roll Along” has a book by George Furth that opens in 1976 and travels back in time to tell the story of Franklin Shepherd, a successful Broadway composer who leaves his theatre and songwriting career behind him to become a Hollywood movie producer.

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Zeitgeist’s “Faceless” Artfully Melds Current, Timeless Themes

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Faceless’ – Written by Selina Fillinger; Directed by David Miller; Set Design by David Miller; Lighting Design by Michael Clark Wonson; Sound Design by Jay Mobley; and Costume Design by Elizabeth Cole Sheehan. Presented by the Zeitgeist Stage Company at Plaza Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St. Boston through October 7.

 

There’s a lot going on in ‘Faceless’, the riveting new courtroom drama now making its New England premiere at the BCA’s Black Box Theater. For starters, there’s the specter of Islamic terrorism, the religious intolerance it has spawned, and the effect of social media on our decision-making process from the current topic file, along with the time-tested themes of screwed-up family dynamics, dealing with grief, and blind political ambition lurking in the background. If it sounds like Faceless covers a whole lot of territory in 90-minutes, it does – but director David Miller and his talented cast take the ambitious material and deliver an emotionally charged production that succeeds on most levels.

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The Aliens – Theatre on Fire (Charlestown Working Theater)

 

by James Wilkinson

 

‘The Aliens’ – Written by Annie Baker; Directed by Darren Evans; Costumes by Maureen Festa. Presented by Theatre on Fire at the Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown through October 7.

 

For the longest time, I avoided reading any of Annie Baker’s plays, though not because of any skepticism about their quality. What held me back was what I had heard about Baker’s naturalistic style. It seemed as though sitting in a chair and reading the words on the page could never compare to the performance experience. (Plays aren’t meant to be read anyway, but sometimes you take what you can get.)

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Lyric, Barrett Open Season With Winning “Gypsy”

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Gypsy’ – Music by Jules Styne, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Arthur Laurents. Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Bertone; Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez; Scenic Design by Janie E. Howland; Costume Design by Rafael Jaen; Lighting Design by Franklin Meissner, Jr. ; Sound Design by Andrew Duncan Will. Presented by Lyric Stage Company at 140 Clarendon St. through October 8.

The Lyric Stage opens its 2017-2018 season with a bang, tackling the (stage) mother of all musicals, Gypsy – widely regarded as one of musical theater’s greatest works – and delivering one of the year’s best musical productions. Fueled by a powerhouse performance by Boston favorite Leigh Barrett, Gypsy paints the seriocomic portrait of Rose Hovick, the fame-seeking mother of renowned Depression-era exotic dancer Gypsy Rose Lee, who wisecracked (and stripped) her way into the hearts of adoring burlesque house audiences across the nation.

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New Rep’s ‘Ideation’ a Win-Win

 

 

By Michele Markarian

 

‘Ideation’ – Written by Aaron Loeb. Directed by Jim Petosa. Presented by New Repertory Theatre, and Co-produced with Boston Center for American Performance at 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown through September 24.

 

“Ideation”, the Boston-area premiere of Aaron Loeb’s funny and terrifying play, has at its heartbeat the center of American, indeed, world, personhood – the corporation.  An international consulting group has tasked its team of A-list high flyers to come up with a solution for a multi-layered situation that has troubling implications.

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“DAMES AT SEA” at Greater Boston Stage

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Greater Boston Stage Company, formerly Stoneham Theatre, newest show is “Dames At Sea”, a musical spoof of “42nd Street”, “Anything Goes” and “Singing in the Rain.” It is a musical with books and lyrics by George Haimshon and Robin Miller with music by Jim Wise. It’s a parody of 1930’s Busby Berkeley-style movie musicals in which a chorus girl gets off a bus from Utah to NYC, steps into a role on Broadway and becomes a star.

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THE CARETAKER (Wilbury Theatre Group, Providence, RI)

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Wilbury Theatre Group’s first show of their new season is “The Caretaker”, a play in three acts by Harold Pinter. When it premiered in 1964, “The Caretaker” changed the face of modern theatre. Into his derelict household shrine Ashton brings Davies, a tramp with pretensions. Even though he may seem to the world to be a pathetic old creature. All that is left of his past now is his existence in Sidcup of some papers, papers that will prove exactly who he is and enable him to start all over again.

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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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