In The Heights, the winner of four 2008 Tony Awards, is the current production from The SpeakEasy Stage Company that opened May 10th and runs through June 16th. The musical will grab your attention with large dance numbers set to rap and hip hop rhapsodies all set in NYC’s Latino neighborhood, Washington Heights, in the summer of 2003. The story centers around members of this closely knit neighborhood and how their lives are entwined with the neighborhood they all call home.
If you require a bit more incentive to purchase tickets to this show, I’ll give you three reasons: Diego Klock-Perez (Usnavi) and Jorge Barranco (Sonny) who’s lives center around their barrio bodega. Their rap and dance scenes are among the best in the show. However, I was distracted every time the incredibly handsome actor, Jared Dixon (Benny), stepped on stage and his shirtless scene on the balcony at the opening of the second act alone makes this show worth its money, but fortunately there is more to offer than these three men and the entire cast really does deserve credit for pulling off some intricate dance and musical numbers. This is a great date option or night out with friends.
You may purchase tickets at The Calderwood Pavilion box office on Tremont Street in the South End or by phone, 617-933-8600 or online at SpeakEasyStage.com.
Looking for something different to do? Make a date to check out one of the many great local theater productions currently or about to open. Boston’s performing arts scene has a little something for everyone right now including musicals, modern classics and even a twisted childhood classic.
Photo by Michael von Redlich
Pornocchio – Gold Dust Orphans (April 26 – May 26) Sent through The Gold Dust Orphans’ glitter filled parody machine, this is a twisted take on a classic children’s fable. Get Tickets Here.
Pirates of Penzance – A.R.T. (May 10 – June 2) Come away and enjoy this 80-minute excursion that features bathing beauties, philosophizing pirates, and grown men in remarkably short shorts. Get Tickets Here.
In the Heights – SpeakEasy Stage (May 10 – June 8) This four-time Tony Award winning musical is set in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood and uses hip hop, salsa and rap to help tell the stories of this close-knit Latin community. Get Tickets Here.
3 Sailors – On The Town – Lyric Stage Co. (May 10 – June 8) This musical also takes place in New York, but includes three American sailors with one day to see the sights, meet a special someone, and have the time of their lives. Get Tickets Here.
Amadeus – Amadeus -New Rep (April 28 – May 19) Takes place in 18th-Century Europe and focuses on the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Get Tickets Here.
Photo by Michael von Redlich
Ryan Landry’s Gold Dust Orphans are back with their latest production, a musical called, Pornocchio, that opens this Friday, April 26th and runs through Sunday, May 26th before packing up and moving to Provincetown for the summer. Tickets start at $35.00 and can be reserved online here.
The OBERON Theater has been temporarily transformed into a 21st century mead hall so they may share their version of the Old English epic poem, Beowulf. For more information about this new show which opened on Tuesday and runs for the next three weeks, check out the video about the program.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased here.
When I write about performing arts, I often intentionally overlook Broadway shows and national tours, because I want to help promote Boston’s theater scene.
However, every once in a while a new show does catch my eye and Kinky Boots the Musical, which recently opened on Broadway is one of those exceptions. Have you heard about this new musical that has music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper? For those who live in and visit NYC regularly, I’m curious if you have tickets and plan on seeing this show?
Hilton Als review in the New Yorker is quite positive. Als writes, “Kinky Boots”, a musical based on a 2005 movie comedy…pretty much follows the film script while emphasizing those themes that made the author’s work on 1983’s “La Cage Aux Folles,” so effective: tolerance and bravery win out over bigotry and smallness. But that was in 1983, when the conversation around queerness was less a conversation than a shouting match. Fierstein is still shouting. Not so much shouting as insisting on the hurt that comes with being different—and how life outside the status quo amounts to an act of defiance. Read the full review here.
Since 1996 the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) has been performing the works of Shakespeare on the Boston Common for free. This year the CSC has announced they will perform The Bard’s comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Dates have not been confirmed but performances traditionally start the end of July.
About The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Believed to have been written in 1590 or 1591, this comedy is considered by some to be William Shakespeare’s first play. The play deals with the themes of friendship and infidelity, the conflict between friendship and love, and the foolish behavior of people in love. More about the play may be read here.
Ryan Landry is a creative tour-de-force who winters in Boston and summers in Ptown but no matter where he resides, he produces plays. But these are not your run of the mill plays. Landry’s shows are always a bit twisted, very whimsical and incredibly funny. He recently finished a successful run with a musical staring Varla Jean Merman called Mildred Fierce and last spring and summer in Boston and Provincetown his show Mary Poppers received rave reviews.
“M” runs from March 29th – April 27th
Starting later this week, Ryan’s latest adaptation, “M” opens in the South End at the Calderwood Pavilion. Inspired by the film by Fritz Lang, this gender-bending show takes on a new (and rather unique – I’m sure) adaptation of the film noir classic. You may purchase tickets at the Calderwood Pavilion ticket booth during business hours, or you may buy them online here.
Earlier this week several hundred supporters of the Theater Offensive in Boston showed up to celebrate their annual fund raiser, climACTS! at Rumor Boston. The party included entertainers, Sherry Vine, Cazwell, and Marga Gomez as well as a brief auction. Theater Offensive is reporting that the 2013 event raised more than $100,000 to support the expansion of their youth theater program True Colors: Out Youth Theater!
You can learn more about The Theater Offensive and the work they do in Boston’s performing arts community by visiting www.thetheateroffensive.org.
Pick up the current issue of The Improper Bostonian’s “Spring Arts Preview”. Starting on p. 49 is Jonathan Soroff’s article, Unsung Heroes, that spotlights Boston’s local performing arts scene.
The article opens “Bostonians are spoiled. A world-class orchestra playing in one of only three acoustically perfect concert halls in the world. An equally excellent ballet. Then there are the New England and Boston conservatories, the A.R.T. and the Huntington, free Shakespeare on the Common, the Celebrity Series and pre-Broadway runs at the Shubert, the Colonial, the Cutler Majestic…”
I like his boasts, but even like his article more. It provides glimpses into ten of Boston’s performing arts organizations that are often overlooked but very worth checking out.
The Theater Offensive’s annual fundraiser ClimACTS! Unbound is later this week on Wednesday, March 20th. This year’s fundraiser includes an incredible line up including, drag performer, Sherry Vine, as emcee and performances by New England native, Cazwell and comedienne Marga Gomez.
Purchase Your Tickets Here
More about the Theater Offensive: The Theater Offensive’s mission is to form and present the diverse realities of queer lives in art so bold it breaks through personal isolation and political orthodoxy to help build an honest, progressive community.
Following my own advice from my earlier blog post, Boston’s Theater Scene, I went to check out The SpeakEasy Stage production of Clybourne Park, earlier this week. For those unfamiliar, this show won a Tony for Best Play in 2012.
The two act show which runs just over two hours will fly by (I promise). The opening act takes place in a sleepy suburban neighborhood just on the outskirts of Chicago in 1959, but tensions erupt when the neighbors learn a “negro” family will be moving there. The racial tones of the conversation are as shocking as they are uncomfortable. The second act takes place in the same home but fifty years later in 2009 when a young, white couple looking to start a family move into what is now a predominantly African American neighborhood. The “political correctness” of the era challenge all parties to address their concerns in more diplomatic terms, but for some the challenges are too great.
This play has everything you want: believable acting, riveting dialog and just enough humor – especially in the second act to allow you to run the gamut of emotion. While this may not make for the perfect 1st date, it is definitely a great show to see with friends or perhaps on the 2nd date. Make plans to grab a drink or bite to eat somewhere nearby to talk about what you just saw. I know Aquitaine appreciated the huge bar tab we racked up talking about the show.
You may buy tickets at the Calderwood Pavilion ticket booth or online here.
Bridge Rep of Boston Theater Company
A new theater company called Bridge Rep of Boston has produced their first show, The Lover, now being performed in the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End. Shows run Wednesday thru Sunday until March 17th. Want to purchase tickets to The Bridge Rep of Boston’s show The Lover? Link here.
More about Bridge Rep of Boston:
Boston’s theater companies in recent weeks have started their spring performances. The Lyric Stage Co. currently features a two man show called Stones in his Pockets which opened earlier this month and runs through Saturday, March 16th. You can read about this play which takes place in a small Irish village on the set of an American film crew in The Boston Globe’s review.
Also currently running is The New Rep’s comedy, Lungs. This 90-minute show uses humor to address serious questions about overpopulation, global warming and our collective responsibilities to help preserve the environment for future generations. As with The Lyric Stage Co., performances started earlier this month and the production will hold its final show on Sunday, March 10th.
Following the A.R.T.’s triumphant pre-Broadway run of Pippin, The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge has been performing The Glass Menagerie, which stars the hunky (and gay actor) Zachary Quinto. The show closes on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th so get tickets while they remain available.
New performances from The SpeakEasy Stage start later this week (Friday, March 1st to be exact) with their production of Clybourne Park, a show that addresses race, real estate and the volatile values of each. Inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play A Raisin in the Sun, this show explodes in two outrageous acts set 50 years apart. This new show will run through March 30th.
Starting a week after The SpeakEasy Stage opens with their play that was inspired by A Raisin in the Sun, you can go and see The Huntington Theatre Company interpretation of this American classic. Based on the 1959 classic drama, this will be a fiercely moving show. A Raisin in the Sun opens on Friday, March 8th and runs through April 7th.,
Also I’m very excited to share news that a new theater company called The Bridge Repertory Theater opens with their first production of The Lover, which opens on tonight and will run through Sunday, March 17th at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA).
Unfortunately, I’m not in Boston to see opening night, but luckily Ryan Landry’s latest musical starring Varla Jean Merman will be running in Boston through the middle of March. You can buy your tickets online here.
Last week I went to see The SpeakEasy Stage production of Other Desert Cities. The play tells a story of a once promising young novelist who has returned home after several years to celebrate Christmas with her family in Palm Springs, CA. However, the daughter’s return home turns tense after she announces that she’s published a tell all memoir about a family tragedy from the past.
The narrative of family tensions and travails are things we can all relate to, but the depth of the frustrations and personal tragedy addressed are thankfully uncharted territory for me. The humorous lines interspersed and mostly delivered by the role of recovering alcoholic, Aunt/Sister played by Nancy Carroll go a long way to release that tension and provide many unexpected laughs. Leaving the theater, I was left with the thought, we all need to be a bit more forgiving because reality isn’t always what it seems. If that message strikes home for you as well, you may want to go see this production.
Other Desert Cities performances run through Saturday, February 9th. You may purchase tickets at The Calderwood Pavilion box office on Tremont Street in the South End or by phone, 617-933-8600 or online at SpeakEasyStage.com.