Excuse the trite headline, but earlier this week I saw Pippin at the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) in Cambridge. It is rare to have a local show filled with so many Broadway actors in Boston so when I heard about Pippin’s run I knew I wanted to check it out before it left for Broadway. I am unfamiliar with how this production differs from the original, so I won’t try to pretend I know what I’m talking about other than to say, the show is spectacular.
The music is fantastic but its no surprise considering it was penned by Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked and Godspell), and the cast really does amaze, belting out pitch perfect tunes. Even I recognized the Bob Fosse choreography I’d heard about prior to seeing the show. All this comes together to form a very entertaining musical that had me holding my breathe more than once watching the amazing circus-like acrobatics executed by 7 Fingers (a Montreal-based company that is reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil).
Since the show closes this weekend, you’ll need to get tickets (probably for quite a bit more money) when it opens in April at the Music Box Theater on Broadway. In anticipation of the question if it is worth seeing on Broadway – I’ll keep my answer short and sweet, “Yes”.
Photo by Craig Bailey/ Perspective Photo
Now that we are halfway through the work week, it is time to start planning for the weekend. On Friday, January 18th I will be heading over to enjoy The SpeakEasy Stage Out & About performance of Other Desert Cities.
Out & About night at The SpeakEasy Stage welcomes everyone but it is safe to say there is even more than usual representation from the GLBT community on these special performance nights. Following Friday’s show, all are welcome to join the cast after the performance for a special post-show party.
Join me this Friday and be sure to say hello. You may buy your tickets online here or call the box office at, 617.933.8600.
33 Variations Dr. Brandt
Last week I saw The Lyric Stage Co. production, 33 Variations. The story opens in present day in New York City with a heated conversation between a mother and daughter, but in the next scene the audience is drawn into a second story involving Ludwig van Beethoven. Sound complicated? Not interested in the music scene from 19th century Austria? These were my thoughts too when I first read about the show, and it is why I wanted to be sure I dispel these reservations – they are unfounded. I promise you will thank me for telling you to go.
The Lyric Stage Co. does an excellent job suspending time and weaving these stories that on the surface are about Beethoven’s piano masterpiece the Diabelli Variations, but actually have a lot more to do with personal relationships, individual passions and the need for closure. Dr. Katherine Brandt played by Paula Plum steals the show perhaps because her story is so compelling – even though at times I found her character so frustrating I wanted to walk down on to the stage and shake some sense into her.
33 Variations Clara Brandt & Mike Clark and Beethoven, Schindler & Diabelli
Dr. Brandt’s friction with her daughter and fixation on her research happen to be incredibly relatable and I suppose that is what I found so engaging about her character and the entire play. I had assumed the storyline would be too cerebral for me to sit back and simply enjoy. The humorous dialog and candid conversations that run through out the show will draw you in and the two hours will pass so quickly you’ll be left wondering if The Lyric Stage Co. ability to suspend time on stage had somehow extended to your seat as well. So pick up tickets and make a night of it. I assure you it is money well spent and an evening you will enjoy.
33 Variations – The Lyric Stage Company in Back Bay
January 4 thru February 2, 2013
Purchase tickets here
MARRY ME A LITTLE.
Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures
The New Rep’s production of Marry Me A Little, is set in an apartment complex on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. The four neighbors played by Aimee Doherty, Brad Daniel Peloquin, Erica Spyres and Phil Thayer use songs from Stephen Sondheim that were originally intended for unproduced shows and cutouts from known musicals to tell their stories about love, romance, heartbreak and loneliness.
One of my favorite songs was Saturday Night performed early in the show by Aimee and Brad. I loved the end of the song when they sang, “but I’m on my own on a Saturday night with no one to phone on a Saturday night and when you’re alone on a Saturday night you might as well be… dead.”
Not all the songs made sense to me, but that didn’t detract from the overall experience and in some cases actually made me like the show even more. For example, I loved it when Brad and Phil sing Can That Boy Foxtrot, which is filled with not so subtle innuendo about one man’s
love lust for another.
Compliments to the two pianists Todd Gordon and David McGrory as well as Erica Spyres who pulled double duty with a lead role and as violinist for several songs. This is worth venturing out to Watertown and with the show concluding by 9pm you can even grab a dinner next door following the performance.
Marry Me A Little – New Rep Theatre in Watertown, MA
January 6 – 27, 2013
Purchase tickets here
While there are many great shows coming to Boston from theater companies touring the United States, there is a vibrant local theater scene too often overlooked. While I can’t list all that Boston offers, I’ve listed five productions that have caught my attention and hope to see.
Other Desert Cities at Lyric Stage Company, Jan. 4th thru Feb. 2nd Tickets Here
33 Variations is about a mother coming to terms with her daughter and a composer coming to terms with his genius. Separated by 200 years, these two people share an obsession that transcends the boundaries of time. The play takes place both in present day and in Beethoven’s time, switching back and forth between New York City to Bonn, Germany and Vienna, Austria.
Invisible Man at The Huntington Theatre Jan. 4th thru Feb. 3rd Tickets Here
The Invisible Man is a play based on the 1952 novel by Ralph Ellison. The production addresses many of the social issues facing African-Americans in the first part of the 20th century. The Huntington’s Artistic Director, Peter DuBois, shares more about the production here.
Marry Me A Little at The New Repertory Theatre Jan. 6th thru Jan. 27th Tickets Here
Marry Me A Little from the NewRep is an updated take on Sondheim’s charming musical revue—and on modern-day marriage.Through spoken word and song, lonely New York singles fantasize romantic adventures, join in emotional conflict, and question the commitment of marriage.
Other Desert Cities at The SpeakEasy Stage Jan. 11th thru Feb. 9th Tickets Here
Other Desert Cities tells the story of a family where secrets are currency and everyone is rich. Brooke Wyeth, a once promising young novelist, comes home after a 6-year absence for Christmas in Palm Springs, but festivities are short-lived, when Brooke announces she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a tragic event in the family’s history.
Mildred Fierce by The Gold Dust Orphans Feb. 7th thru Mar. 17 Tickets Here
Mildred Fierce is Ryan Landry’s latest musical, inspired by the Joan Crawford film, Mildred Pierce. This production will star Varla Jean Merman as Mildred and will be performed at the Ramrod Performing Arts Center as Ryan likes to call it but is probably better known as downstairs at Machine Nightclub.
Want to see what other shows are opening in Boston later this month? Check out The Phoenix which has a more complete listing here.
Struggling to get into the holiday spirit? Perhaps you need to ignore conventional wisdom and tradition to make you crack a smile and feel jolly again. Fortunately, Boston has two great programs running right now which you should check out: Rudolph the Red Necked Reindeer and The Slutcracker are not to be missed.
Ryan Landry and his cast of misfits otherwise known as the Gold Dust Orphans are receiving rave reviews for their show, which opened last month in the Fenwayand runs through December 23rd (Thursday – Sunday). Tickets are $35 for general admission and $45 for reserved seating. You may purchase your tickets here.
The Slutcraker is a home-grown holiday spectacular that has a very naughty twist to the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker. Tickets are on sale for this bawdy production, which is currently running at the Somerville Theatre. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased here.
Still unsure? Read my write up from last year.
Photo by Baron Michael Von Redlich w/ Grace Carney and MvR Photography
Last week I wrote about Ryan Landry’s troupe rehearsing for their new show, Rudolph the Red Necked Reindeer, which opens tonight at the Ramrod Performing Arts Center (otherwise known as Ramrod / Machine) at 1254 Boylston Street in Boston.
About the show: Based on the Rankin/Bass Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Orphan’s Rudolph is one sexy redneck with a southern drawl to boot! Along with special guest star Drew Barrymore, (her dogsled pulled by E.T.) Rudy and his trusty friend Herbie are out to save Christmas by any means necessary! But only if they can manage to escape the evil clutches of The Abominable Icicle Snow Monster Lady!
Tickets to this show are certain to sell out so be sure to purchase your tickets today. Rudolph the Red Necked Reindeer opens tonight and runs through Sunday, December 23rd.
Purchase your tickets here.
Ryan Landry and his cast of misfits otherwise known as the Gold Dust Orphans are busy at work in rehearsals for their holiday show, Rudolph the Red Necked Reindeer. More about this show will follow but for now all you need to know is that tickets are currently on sale.
Rudolph the Red Necked Reindeer opens Thursday, November 29th at 8:00 pm and will play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 pm and every Sunday afternoon at 5:00 pm until December 23rd.
Purchase Tickets Here
On Sunday night I’ll be heading to a special concert to benefit SpeakEasy Stage that includes Boston’s first ladies of song – Leigh Barrett, Mary Callanan, Kerry A. Dowling, and Kathy St. George. Tickets remain available for both Sunday and Monday night. If you plan on going on Sunday let me know and perhaps we can meet early for a drink. Tickets are available at the box office or on the SpeakEasy Stage Company website.
Source: SpeakEasy Stage Company, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Photo: Craig Bailey
Michael Friedman who penned Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson describes the story as, “…political theater, but one that happens to have this giddy, pop-rock soundtrack.” This is true, but he doesn’t do justice to how funny the show is considering the grim subject matter culminating with President Jackson’s most notorious accomplishment.
While I often laughed out loud, the scene with America’s ruling elite from the first half of the 19th century sashaying onto stage like runway models and dancing with reckless abandon to the Spice Girls was deliciously funny. I recognize that for many a rock musical detailing the life of the 7th President of the US may not be how you envision spending an evening out, but I have to challenge your preconceptions. The show has the spirit and energy of a rock show with the narrative of a compelling story you can’t stop watching.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson runs without intermission for one hour and forty-five minutes at the Calderwood Pavilion from October 19 – November 17. Tickets for the SpeakEasy Stage production are currently on sale, starting at $25. Purchase Your Tickets Here.
The Slutcraker returns to Boston for its 5th year. This home-grown holiday spectacular returns to the Somerville Theatre this December and will proudly host a very special holiday show on Christmas Eve.
Tickets are now on sale >>> buy your tickets here
This scene-by-scene retelling of the Nutcracker, resplendent with ribald parody, “whisks the audience away to a carefree realm of sexual fantasy.” Do you have an uptight friend? Bring them with you and watch them squirm.
This year’s performance starts on Saturday, December 1st. Tickets are $25 and will sell fast. Here is my write up from last year.
Starting today and running through Saturday is the Theater Offensive Off-Broadway play by Lenelle Moise, Expatriate. Normally I try to only write about shows I’ve had the opportunity to see, but due to the short run, I won’t have a chance to see this show. However, I love the work the Theater Offensive does and wanted to give them a shout out.
Want to find out more about this show or purchase tickets? Click here.
Idina Menzel’s tour Barefoot at the Symphony comes Boston this week when she performs at the Wang on Saturday night, September 29th.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to see Idina perform part of her show when she was a special guest on the Western Caribbean Sea Atlantis Cruise. Although the sets are the same, I’m inclined to think that her comments may have been a bit more raw knowing she was performing in front of an entirely gay audience. If you are going to the show in Boston we can always compare notes after.
This past weekend I saw The SpeakEasy Stage production of The Mother-F**ker with the Hat. The attention grabbing and funny name is appropriate for this Tony-nominated play. Performed without intermission, the show is divided into nine scenes. The highly charged and dramatic vignettes are laced with witty lines that drew consistent and hearty laughs from the entire audience.
Cousin Julio proves to be the most lovable character and delivers some of the most humorous lines. However, one unintentional funny moment that caught my attention occurred when Ralph D (played by Maurice Emmanuel Parent) was standing stark naked stage left and Veronica (played by Evelyn Howe) was talking stage right. Looking out at the audience I noticed nearly every man’s head remained stage left on Ralph D. I should note that I happened to see the play on “Out Night” when it seemed as if half the South End was in the room. Do yourself a favor and call the box office today to reserve tickets to this show. You’ll enjoy watching this as much as you will talking about it. Plus, its fun to tell people the name of the play when they inquire what you saw.
From left: Jaime Carrillo, Maurice Emmanuel Parent, and Alejandro Simoes from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.
The SpeakEasy Stage production runs through Saturday, October 13th so hurry to get tickets by phone at 617.933.8600 or online here.
The Kite Runner at New Rep Theatre
The Kite Runner, is a story written by Khaled Hosseini first published in 2003. It became a New York Times best seller and was eventually adapted into a movie and a play. The somber story centers around the life of a young, privileged Afghani named Amir.
The New Rep’s production will draw you in. The narrative play opens in Kabul when Amir is a child growing up with his best friend and servant, Hassan. Its a happy story, but by the time the first act closes you’ll have lump in your throat. The second act opens in America but when contacted by a family friend Hassan finds himself returning to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he must face his past, literally.
Performances run Wed thru Sunday until Sept 30th
I loved this story and I think you will too. This is a play that will elicit discussion and make you thankful to have the good fortune to grow up in a developed nation. New Rep Theatre’s performances of The Kite Runner conclude on Sunday, September 30th. Performances run Wednesday thru Sunday each week and tickets may be purchased here.
More about New Rep Theatre