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.
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”.
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