Imaginary Beasts Invite You Under the Sea

 

 

 

by James Wilkinson

 

20,000 Leagues Under the SeaStory by Matthew Woods. Written by the ensemble. Costume Design: Cotton Talbot-Minkin. Lighting Design: Christopher Bocchiaro. Set Concept and Sound Design: Matthew Woods. Scenic Design: Rebecca Lehrhoff. Puppet Design: Sophia Giordano and Rebecca Lehrhoff. Steampunk Consultant: Isaiah Plovnic. Choreography Kiki Samko. Presented by imaginary Beasts at the Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill St, Charlestown, through February 4

 

It can be a wonderful thing to have all of your theatrical expectations totally upended. Having seen Imaginary Beasts’ Winter Panto, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, let me start by admitting how ashamed I am that I have never been to one of their previous Winter Pantos, an annual event since 2009. In fact, when I walked into this production I really had no understanding of what a pantomime was. Back in elementary school I read a Great Illustrated Classic’s version of Jules Verne’s classic novel, so I had a vague idea of what the plot of the show would be, but that was it. About thirty seconds into the show, I realized that it wasn’t at all going to be what I thought it would be. Five minutes in, I had a giant smile plastered on my face that didn’t leave for the entire run time of the show. If you’re looking for an activity to make you forget about the freezing temperatures outside, then I can’t recommend this inspired bit of theatrical lunacy enough.

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Wellesley Repertory Theatre’s “The Liar” Still a Comic Gem – 400 Years Later

 

By Evan McKenna

 

“The Liar”- Written by David Ives, adapted from the comedy by Pierre Corneille. Directed by Marta Rainer. Producing Artistic Director, Nora Hussey. Stage Management by Lindsay Garofalo. Set Design/Production Manager, David Towlun. Costume Design by Chelsea Kerl. Sound Design by George Cooke. Lighting Design by Bailey Costa. Vocal Coach, Paul Michael Valley. Photography by David Brooks Andrews. Fight Director, Ted Hewlett. Presented by Wellesley Repertory Theatre at the Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall, 106 Central Street, Wellesley through February 4th

 

Considering the volume of outrageously funny comedies written for stage and film today, it should be noted when a work from the 1600s has enough comedic value to remain as vibrant as any of them. Wellesley Repertory Theatre’s presentation of “The Liar”, the David Ives adaptation of the Pierre Corneille comedy (directed by Marta Rainer) which premiered last Friday, proves to be a must-see, thanks to the outstanding execution by the cast of this hilarious story.

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Speakeasy’s ‘Shakespeare in Love’ An Absolute Charmer

(Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots)

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Shakespeare in Love’ – Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard; Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall; Directed by Scott Edmiston; Original Music/Music Direction/Sound Design by David Reiffel; Choreography/Movement by Judith Chaffee; Scenic Design by Jenna McFarland Lord; Costume Design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt; Lighting Design by Karen Perlow. Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in Boston through February 10

 

You don’t have to know and/or love Shakespeare to be utterly charmed by Shakespeare in Love, the stage adaptation of the Academy Award-winning film now being given a spirited New England premiere by Speakeasy Stage. In fact, since this is a comedy about young Will Shakespeare rather than one by William Shakespeare, the laughter comes a lot more spontaneously than when one needs to run the jokes through the Olde English Google translator of the mind. But whether you’re a Shakespearean scholar or only know his work from the “Gilligan’s Island” episode where Harold Hecuba stages Hamlet, this production is a comic delight.

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CABARET @ The Hanover Theatre

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The National Tour of “Cabaret” is the latest musical to grace the stage at the historic Hanover Theatre in Worcester, MA. This Kander and Ebb Tony Award winning musical is set in the tumultuous city of Berlin right before Hitler’s rise to power. “Cabaret” won it’s first Tony for best show in 1967, the second Tony for best revival in 1998 and is based on Christopher Isherwood’s “Berlin Stories” and John Van Druten’s “I Am a Camera.” This version was inspired by the 1993 production at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The action takes place in the Kit Kat Klub where the show begins with the jazz number “Wilkommen” as well as in Fraulein Schneider’s boarding house and Herr Schultz’s fruit shop. Cliff Bradshaw, a young American novelist arrives on the train to Berlin where Ernst, a German businessman, places his briefcase among Cliff’s luggage at the German border and uses it as an opportunity to make Cliff’s acquaintance.

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Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility at A.R.T. is “Uncommonly Good”

 

By Mike Hoban

 

Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility – By Kate Hamill; Based on the novel by Jane Austen; Directed by Eric Tucker; Choreography by Alexandra Beller; Scenic Design by John McDermott; Lighting Design by Les Dickert; Costume design by Angela Huff; and Sound Design by Alex Neumann. Presented by Bedlam at American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge through January 14

 

Fans of New York-based Bedlam have been eagerly awaiting the theater troupe’s return to Cambridge, and as we saw once again on opening night, with ample reason. Anyone who had seen their insanely clever productions of St. Joan and Twelfth Night/What You Will (both of which won Eliot Norton and IRNE Awards for Best Visiting Productions in 2015 and 2017 respectively) at the Central Square Theatre in recent years must surely have had the performance dates circled on their calendars. And Bedlam, true to form, did not disappoint.

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A Timeless “CHRISTMAS CAROL” at Hanover Theatre

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

The Hanover Theatre’s holiday show this year is the 10th Anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol” which is an annual favorite. This musical version of this well known holiday tale was adapted and directed by Troy Siebels. “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless story that still resonates with people of all ages and carries a message that is as genuine and poignant now as it was when it was first written back in 1843. This splendid musical version captures the true spirit and meaning of the holiday season for everyone.

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Old World Music, Comedy from Renaissance Era Lights Up Christmas Revels – A Venetian Celebration

 

By Mike Hoban

Christmas Revels – A Venetian Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Directed by Patrick Swanson; Musical Direction by Megan Henderson; Set Design by Jeremy Barnett; Sound Engineer, Bill Winn; Costume Design by Heidi A. Hermiller; Choreography by Kelli Edwards. Presented by Revels at The Sanders Theater at Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, through December 27th.

It seemed appropriate that snow was still lightly falling last Saturday evening, just in time for opening night of the Christmas Revels – A Venetian Celebration at the Sanders Theater in Harvard Square. Not that it snows much in Venice, Italy – the setting for the 47th Christmas Revels – nor do the performances of the Revels necessarily bear any resemblance to any traditional New England Christmas celebration. But there is something (okay, the old world music and comedy that are trademarks of any Revels show) about this Cambridge Yuletide tradition that bring that same warm feeling as any of the traditional holiday shows, and the gentle snowfall just completed the experience.

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NSMT’s Delivers Spirited ‘Christmas Carol’

 

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

 

Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre’s holiday show this year is the 27th Anniversary production of “A Christmas Carol, A Musical Ghost Story” which is an annual favorite. This version of this well known holiday tale was written by former NSMT artistic director, Jon Kimball which he adapted back in 1989. As Jon explains “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless story that still resonates with people of all ages and carries a message that is as genuine and poignant now as it was when it was first written back in 1843. This splendid musical version captures the true spirit and meaning of the holiday season for one and all.

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“Nurse Play” is Strange, Surreal, and Satisfying

Image may contain: 2 people

 

By Evan McKenna

 

“Nurse Play” – Created and Written by James Wilkinson; Directed by Joe Juknievich; Stage Management by Tori Skoniecki; Movement Director Kayleigh Kane. Presented by Exiled Theatre at Boston Playwright’s Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston through December 17

 

“Black Pawn to E four,” says Nurse, engaging in a verbal game of chess with her bed-bound, disabled patient, Joe. “White pawn to E five” Joe defiantly replies. Nurse sits alone at the only table in the small, poorly lit room, sunglasses over her hollowed-out eyes and a stack of Blondie records next to her record player, waiting to make her next move.

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Lyric’s ‘Hold These Truths’ Brings Light to Dark Chapter of American History

 

 by Mike Hoban

 

‘Hold These Truths’ – Written by Jeanne Sakata; Directed by Benny Sato Ambush; Scenic Design by Shelley Barish; Sound Design and Original Music by Arshan Gailus; Choreography by Jubilith Moore; Lighting Design by Karen Perlow; Costume Design by Tobi Rinaldi. Presented by Lyric Stage at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, through December 31

 

Theater often reflects the times we live in. As a result, 2017 has been a year where productions have often left audiences with the horrible sense of dread that what we thought could never happen again, may indeed be happening again. Local theatre companies have produced a number of Nazi-themed plays like Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day, Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy, and Brecht on Brecht, while a national tour of the revival of Cabaret rolled into Boston just days after the inauguration. There were also a handful plays (To Kill A Mockingbird, Thurgood) that served as reminders that maybe those bad old days of institutional racism may not yet be over.

 

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