My Theatre

03 May 2014

Brian’s Must-See: May

By // Theatre (Boston)

I am in awe over the amount of diverse, interesting, and, dare I say, exceptional theatre in Boston for the lusty month of May. We have finally put away our winter coats and we’re ready for summer (maybe?). Before we go into our summer theatre slump (seriously, Greater Boston, what’s up with that?!), the Greater Boston theatre community is here to liven things with some of the Boston My Theatre favourite theatre companies’ final performances for the 2013-2014 season.

This month is all about wishes, and the dangerous consequences of what happens when we get for what we wish. Into the Woods is famous for asking “Ever After?” but we can ask the same thing when we gain power and control which we thought that we’d never achieve, over the people in our lives who have tormented or ignored us, like in The Tempest or even A Little Night’s Music, or, frighteningly, Carrie the musical. What happens when we seem to get the power, the love, the excitement for which we crave? Do we continue wishing? Do we change our wish? Are we satisfied when we think we have is enough? And here is where the story really starts. So often, our journey is more than the destination for which we seek, and, only too often, we realize that once we have arrived at our intended destination that it is not the place or solace for which we sought. Perhaps the things we most wished for are not to be touched.

However, as we all continue wishing, our wishes conflict with others’ goals, creating the struggle for power and control, dominance and success. And within this turmoil comes the saving power of forgiveness. This month, even more than wishes, these productions present the many ways that we are redeemed and we forgive. When we are “wronged” by others in our journeys to fulfill our wishes, how do we forgive and forget? How do re-establish the community and status quo when our trust and love are horribly misplaced? Where do we find the hope that allows us to move on? Each of these productions present a different journey; a different wrong; and a different way that we cope with the hurt and betrayal before finding our paths again, albeit sometimes a different one. Remember: “Nice is different than good.”

While the majority of these productions feature a musical element, they are diverse in their use of space, size, and period, ranging from the small and intimate to the elaborate, from a Shakespearean classic to a modern news story, from the horrific to the slapstick. Many of these are accessible to children, some of them are not, but all provide hours of entertainment, but, more importantly, they present fantastic questions about what it means to wish, to journey, to redeem, and to forgive. I can’t wait to hear which productions you choose to journey to see!

To be considered for June’s entry, please email me at brian@myentertainmentworld.ca by June 26, 2014 with information on your production, including company name, production title, director, location, production dates, and a brief reason why your production should be considered. June’s listing will be posted at the very beginning of the month.

This month, we feature:

  • Into the Woods by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston
  • Carrie the musical by SpeakEasy Stage Company
  • The Tempest by American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)
  • A Little Night’s Music by Arlington Friends of the Drama (AFD)
  • Speakeasy Circus by The Boston Circus Guild and OBERON
  • Imagining Madoff by New Repertory Theatre (New Rep)

ggfrrrrrttttInto the Woods
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine
Directed and staged by Spiro Veloudos
Music Direction by Catherine Stornetta
The Lyric Stage Company of Boston
140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA 02116
About the Production
May 9 – June 7, 2014
An wandering (and wondering) Cinderella, an ambitious Jack, a rebellious Rapunzel, and a grown-up Red Riding Hood embark on their separate journeys into the woods, where they encounter wolves, witches, and wishes. Joining them, a Baker and his Wife want desperately to have a child, but at what cost will they go to obtain their wish, and what must they do once they are granted it?

If you know me, then you should know that this production has been on my “Must See” list since its announcement. I love the magic of Into the Woods. Is it the best Sondheim musical? Not by a long-shot. But I love it regardless. The Lyric Stage has proven that it can handle musicals with talent, passion, and charm. But can they do Sondheim? With the smart and award-nominated Spiro Veloudos helming the production and with a cast like this, they have plenty of magic on their side (including the award-winning John Ambrosino as The Baker). This production promises to be a magical tale for the whole family, though I would encourage young teenagers and above for this darker fairy tale. Truly, there are “Giants in the Sky,” and the Lyric Stage Company of Boston has proven that they are the most worthy wish for this month’s Boston Must See.

gtgtefgCarrie the musical
Music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, book by Lawrence D. Cohen
Based on the novel by Stephen King
Directed by Paul Melone
Music Directed by Nicholas James Connell
Choreographed by Larry Sousa
SpeakEasy Stage Company
Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116
About the Production
May 9 – June 7, 2014
Based on the Stephen King novel and the cult classic movie, Carrie the musical follows an awkward teenage girl with special powers (telekinesis) as she navigates the terrors of high school and at home with her religious fanatic mother. After a disastrous and humiliating experience at prom, Carrie takes things into her own hands with horrifying results for everyone who stands in her way.

I can’t begin to gush enough about the talent in this cast. The SpeakEasy has a long reputation for discovering and using the most talented Boston Conservatory students and young alumni. This production provides the perfect production to accentuate their partnership, under the talented wings of Paul Melone, Nicholas James Connell, and Larry Sousa, director, music director, and choreographer, respectively. First, the 2013 Boston My Theatre Award-winning Supporting Actor in a Musical Jorge Barranco is back (though in a notably smaller role than I would like—hopefully his continued roles with SpeakEasy will mean that he’ll stay in Boston after graduation); Paige Berkovitz will bring wonderful humanity to the bitchy Chris Hargenson (it’s a delight to see her onstage again in a very different role after Merrily We Roll Along); Shonna Cirone has made a splash on the Boston theatre scene recently with numerous and diverse productions); Kerry Dowling will, no doubt, fill the big shoes of Maureen McGovern and Barbara Cook as Margaret White; and Joe Longthorne and Phil Tayler have been two young male performers on my list of “must see” performers for some time. With this much emerging young talent, Carrie the musical should be on every young (and old) theatre goer’s list for May.

gtttttttttThe Tempest
Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller
Magic by Teller, Music by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Movement by Pilobolus
American Repertory Theater
Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
About the Production
May 11 – June 15, 2014
The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s last plays, and it’s been called his “farewell to the stage.” With Prospero’s magic, it’s no wonder what many scholars consider the role a stand-in for Shakespeare’s magical storytelling. The Tempest tells the magical story of Prospero, a sorcerer and magician, rightful Duke of Milan, who is banished with his daughter, Miranda, to an island by his jealous brother, Antonio, the King of Naples. While outcast to the island, Prospero enlists the help of the spirit Ariel, and enslaved Caliban, a deformed monster, to aid him in stirring a tempest and shipwrecking Antonio and Antonio’s co-conspirators onto the island. Will Prospero get the revenge that he has desired for the past twelve years? Will the conspirators get the revenge upon the Prospero? And what of the fantastical spirit and deformed monster?

The American Repertory Theater (the “A.R.T.”) is a Boston gem, and this production is just the sort of magic to showcase their impressive talent for transforming their space into a storytelling masterpiece. This piece, reimagined by genius Aaron Posner and masterful Teller, received rave reviews when it premiered in Las Vegas this Spring before coming to Cambridge, MA. The piece has all of the magic and spectacle which richly tell the story for a 21st century audience and never losing its gorgeous Shakespearean storytelling for which the Bard earned accolades over centuries of productions. This production promises to be a production for all audiences, both regulars and newcomers to the Jacobean tale.

gtttA Little Night Music
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed by Joe Stallone
Music Direction by J. Parker Eldridge
Choreographed by Dan Marshall
Arlington Friends of the Drama
22 Academy Street, Arlington, MA 02476
About the Production
May 2 – 18, 2014
Another Sondheim tops our list, and not without good reason. One of Sondheim’s less known and less produced works finds an apt home in Arlington for its community theatre company’s final performance of its season. A beautiful and haunting tale of love and loss, and everything in between, A Little Night Music waltzes among lovers with the classic and iconic songs Every Day a Little Death, In Praise of Women, and, of course, Send in the Clowns. The successful lawyer Frederik is unhappy with his young teenage wife until he is reunited with the glamorous actress Desiree with whom he has a stormy past; the old grandmother Madame Armfeldt is unhappy as she tells her young grandchild Fredrika of her loves and life; and the unhappy young man Henrik who yearns to find his purpose and place in the world.

Joe Stallone is a very prolific community theatre director in the Greater Boston area, knowledgeable and equally comfortable with the realms of musicals and plays. His extensive knowledge of Sondheim will serve him and his cast well as they tackle this layered piece of emotions and harmonies. Arlington Friends of the Drama provide some of the best community theatre in the Greater Boston area, consistently nominated for Distinguished Achievement and Special Honors (DASH) Awards for their high quality and challenging productions. Will this production earn them similar accolades? Will the lovers find comfort in a summer evening, or will they simply languish in the dizzying waltz among paramours?

fdsSpeakeasy Circus
Presented by The Boston Circus Guild and OBERON
A.R.T.’s OBERON
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA
About the Production
May 23, June 27, July 25, August 22, 2014 (performances at 7:00pm & 10:00pm)
And now for something completely different. The A.R.T. has multiple partnerships and collaborations with innovative and interesting theatre and performing companies to bring the best in entertainment to the Greater Boston community. This month, they give us Speakeasy Circus. Each Friday, for the summer months, A.R.T.’s OBERON transforms into the Oberon Social Club, a hot new speakeasy. With two performances each Friday evening, the underground cabaret brings acrobatics, juggling, burlesque, and aerial performances to liven the Boston scene.

These performances are exciting because they blend so many genres and forms of performance in one night of entertainment. Rarely do we see such interesting work, which promises to blend theatre, music, athletics, and personality all into a single room. An oxymoron in itself, Speakeasy Circus promises to be a relaxing and exhilarating experience for all. You don’t want to miss this once-in-a-Blue-Moon experience.

UntitledImagining Madoff
Written by Deborah Margolin
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue
New Repertory Theatre, co-presented with Boston Center for American Performance (BCAP)
Boston University Theatre, Lane-Comley Studio 210
About the Production
Encore Extension: May 28 – June 1, 2014
I missed this Must See production when it was first performed in Boston earlier this year, and, boy, do I regret it. This 2010 play follows fraudulent financier Bernie Madoff as it attempts to “humanize the devil” and give him a voice and face for us to spite (and spit on). The play is a two-person dialogue and “investigation” into a fictional encounter between Madoff and Holocaust survivor and philosopher and friend, Solomon Galkin. The play is less about sympathizing with the man, but about understanding his actions, his story, and his ideology. Of course, the play attempts the unthinkable.

However, despite its lofty goals of telling a story for which few want to hear or understand, the play (and the January Boston performance) succeeded and paid off in spades. Returning for an encore extension to finish (and perhaps serve as a capstone for) the New Repertory Theatre’s excellent season, Imagining Madoff is the perfect production to bring your know-it-all colleagues, or your intellectual and compassionate comrades, or just go by yourself for a thrilling evening of thoughtful theatre and engaging entertainment. Rarely have two actors shared and fired up the stage with this much controversy. Don’t miss this production before it’s really gone for good.

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