We are all hearing soon. Soon we will be back together in the theatre for a wonderful live theatrical experience. How it has been missed!
However convenient it is sitting in front of a computer for a virtual show, there is nothing quite like the anticipation of live theatre in person with an audience in a shared experience. SpeakEasy Stage Company’s remarkable concert musical benefit show, Songs for a New World, accomplishes quite a bit in its hour and a half runtime. Through clever cinematography that still adheres to Covid guidelines, SpeakEasy Stage Company recreates the thrill of seeing actors together onstage and it is easy to see each cast member’s excitement through their own extraordinary performances. We’re not quite there yet, but this is getting ever closer.
Directed by Paul Daigneault and musically-directed by Jose Delgado, SpeakEasy Stage Company continues their 30th anniversary season with John Robert Brown’sSongs for a New World streaming through June 8. The show was filmed onstage at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets. Discount tickets are also available. Click here for more information on SpeakEasy Stage Company’s recently announced 2021-22 season.
It is difficult to describe the anticipation of seeing SpeakEasy Stage Company’s concert musical benefit, Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World. The last Jason Robert Brown musical I witnessed was a film adaptation of The Last Five Years. It was a glorious, resonating tear jerker featuring reliable talents Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick.
Songs for a New World explores a variety of characters that are faced with the ultimate, sometimes humorous and other times harrowing life-changing decisions and deciding what to do next. With simple staging and an onstage band conducted by Jose Delgado, Songs for a New World has humor and heartache enhanced by some of Boston’s most recognizable vocal powerhouses.
Songs for a New World is full of powerful performances and each song is as strong as the last, but here are a few highlights. One standout performance is a tender and stirring rendition of On the Deck of a Spanish Ship, 1492 as Monroe exclaims, “Have Mercy Lord” while the cast embarks on a harrowing, life-changing journey. Dressed in a long fur coat, Laura Marie Duncan is wildly entertaining as a scorned woman in an extreme situation in Just One Step. Duncan’s expressive personality and her sheer energy drive this amazing performance.
Jennifer Ellis performs some vocal gymnastics as Mrs. Claus for Sweabaya Santa, reimagining Santa as an absent, judgmental husband whose love is as fleeting as his sleigh. Dwayne P Mitchell literally rises from the ashes of his childhood in this boastful, self-assured rendition of The Steam Train. Ellis and Mitchell have sweet chemistry in a beautiful duet about the complexity of love in I’d Give it All for You.
Rached Al Nuaimi demonstrates zany, emotional turmoil and building frustration in She Cries and Jennifer Ellis delivers a bold and anguished performance in The Flagmaster, 1776.
SpeakEasy Stage Company’s Songs for a New World also boasts an incredible finale not to be missed with Hear My Song. Glad to add John Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World as another memorable musical experience.
SpeakEasy Stage Company continues streaming Songs for a New World through June 8. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support the SpeakEasy Stage Company.
Dressed in a stylish blue and black dress is Sara Campbell, designer, founder and CEO of women’s clothing boutique shop, Sara Campbell Ltd. She hosted Boston Women in Media and Entertainment (BWME) for Giving Tuesday, opening up her shop for great deals on her fashion line with 20 percent of the proceeds benefiting Cradles to Crayons, a local non-profit that fights childhood poverty. On Giving Tuesday, attendees were encouraged to contribute a new coat for a child age 5 to 17 to be delivered to Cradles to Crayons.
This is Sara’s second time hosting BWME at this location and her sixth year hosting this event. Designed in the USA, Sara Campbell Ltd. has 25 locations nationwide. The Sleepless Critic and BWME co-founder and Magic 106.7’sCandy O’Terry spoke with this event and the act of giving. Click here to learn more about BWME, how to join, and the opportunities they offer all year. Click here to learn more about Sara Campbell, her collections, the company’s community involvement and much more.
Sleepless Critic: You work a lot with Cradles to Crayons. What does Giving Tuesday mean to you?
Sara Campbell: Giving Tuesday means nothing to me because I don’t believe it should be one day a year. As a shop owner, a manager to my employees, and all the people I am responsible for, our mission is to give back and serve our customers, our community, serve each other as a company, and everyone who works together. It’s service. I believe that is what small business is and should be. It’s delivering that act of kindness that makes a difference in somebody’s life today. Every day, I have my employees write up an act of kindness they did today in our stores. When I get a blank, I am not happy.
I raised my business knowing I was supposed to give back, whether it’s buying someone a cup of coffee or paying a toll which could be 25 cents at the meter. I was taught to give what you can and that’s your way of putting back what has been given to you. It is what feeds our business, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. You have to have faith for whatever the journey is.
It’s getting more and more obvious these days how much we have to breed kindness, thoughtfulness, and empathy. Faith is hard, especially when it’s eCommerce and it is Cyber Monday. The tariffs in China are hugely impacting me. I’m made in the USA and we don’t make zippers in the US. I have to import supplies and it’s going to be passed to the consumer because my payroll is increasing. My staff deserves raises, healthcare, insurance, everything. As a strategy, the only way we are getting through it is hopefully to grow and have our bricks and mortars survive and prosper, but it takes our loyal customers to make that happen.
Candy O’Terry: I’m a loyal customer!
Sara: You are! Giving Tuesday drives a lot of prosperity to different organizations that wouldn’t get it otherwise. To that end, I am for Giving Tuesday. The drive to get bigger is I can give bigger. I can do more. It’s not that we are getting bigger and getting a bigger house. I’d like to get out of debt (laughs.)
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Candy: The Sara Campbell brand is selling all across the country.
Sara: It takes a village of friends, customers, team workers in this office, in the sample shop, and in our stores. I’ve had this idea that I’m going to take a picture of all our stores and we’re going to cut out paper dolls. They are all going to be holding hands around the building. That’s what community and this wonderful night is all about. It’s the women who are part of Boston Women and Entertainment. So much camaraderie excites us and helps us get through the dark days.
Candy: I met Sara about ten years ago. I interviewed her for a show called Exceptional Women on Magic 106.7 and she became my friend. As the years passed, it doesn’t matter if I do 50 or 60 events a year, if I can show up wearing a Sara Campbell dress and say in front of 1,000 people if they like my Sara Campbell dress. I am so loyal to her because she is a local designer with a heart of gold.
Sara: I will never say no to you. I don’t care what you need or want because you are delivering the message through you to bigger places.
Candy: See that is what Giving Tuesday is all about. Good goes around. That’s why we are here tonight because if I can introduce ten new people to the Sara Campbell brand and they buy Sara Campbell and they tell their friends, it’s a win-win all around.
We love local charity Cradles to Crayons so much and will leave this place with two giant bags for them. Sara donated about ten jackets for children. We’re going to write them a nice check and I’m going to show up with this stuff to our giving factory tomorrow. We’re going to help local Boston kids walk to school with a beautiful, warm pink coat on looking like a million bucks.
Sara: I learned the beauty of giving a brand new coat to a child from Kids Clothes Club, another local organization started in Brookline, MA. We have had kids write us to say they slept in their new coat in the kitchen last night because they just didn’t want to take it off. It’s so good for their self esteem. I’m going to write Cradles to Crayons a check so they can go get the size for the exact kid they have in mind.
Candy: When we walk out of here tonight because of the kindness of these women and Sara, we’ll be able to donate something to children in our own community and that means so much to us.
Sara: We have to take care of each other. Candy, thank you for orchestrating such a fun night. You are a change maker.
Hingham Civic Music Theatre debuts ‘Shrek the Musical for two weekends only from Oct 21 through Oct 29 Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre
Can an intimidating green ogre have what it takes to become an unlikely hero? Get to know Shrek, Donkey, the Gingerbread Man, Three Blind Mice, The Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, and many more iconic fairy tale creatures in an entirely new way as Hingham Civic Music Theatre debuts Shrek the Musical at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham Town Hall Saturday, October 21 and continuing for two weekends through Sunday, October 29. Based on William Steig’s imaginative fairy tale that later launched into a beloved animated film starring Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz followed by many popular film sequels, Shrek the Musical adds a bit more to this thrilling, family adventure. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to participate in the HCMT Fundraising campaign.
Featuring real life husband and wife Chris DiOrio as Shrek and Leslie DiOrio as Princess Fiona, Shrek is a lone, but not lonely, green ogre who lives a quiet swamp life until life as he knows it is threatened, forcing him to embark on an daunting quest to save a mysterious princess. With heartwarming songs such as Don’t Let Me Go, Big Bright Beautiful World, This is How Dreams Come True, and the Monkees classic, I’m a Believer, Shrek the Musical offers enough witty humor and heartwarming moments that will entertain children and adults alike.
Directed by Lisa Pratt, music by Jeanine Tesori, musically-directed by Mark Bono, with choreography by Tara McSweeney Morrison, Hingham Civic Music Theatre presents Shrek the Musical on Saturdays, October 21 and 28 as well as one Friday performance on October 27 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees will be held on October 22 and 29 at 2 p.m. All shows take place at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts. Click here for further details, tickets, and be sure to follow Hingham Civic Music Theatre on Facebook for upcoming events and more.
For the past twelve years, South Shore Conservatory’s Duxbury Music Festival (DMF) has welcomed summer with seaside entertainment and extraordinary live music along the South Shore of Massachusetts. With more than a week-long concert extravaganza exploring reggae, jazz, classical, and blues, the Duxbury Music Festival kicks off their summer series at a seaside tent on Duxbury Bay at Freeman Place for Blues on the Bay Cabaret Concert on Friday, July 14. The evening offers cocktails and appetizers featuring live music from Sugar Ray and the Blue Tones at 6:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1. Call 781-934-2731, ext. 11 or click here for the full list of events and tickets. Follow Duxbury Music Festival on Facebook for updates.
Photo courtesy of South Shore Conservatory
Set in in several locations in Duxbury, Massachusetts, the Duxbury Music Festival will be held from Friday, July 14 through Friday, July 28. On Sunday, July 16, the Duxbury Music Festival continues at the seaside tent at Freeman Place with Festival Overture Concert and Reception featuring works from Haydn and Hurnik at 6:30 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Kathy Dixon
Founding Duxbury Music Festival faculty member and soloist Oxana Yablonskaya returns to the festival on Tuesday, July 18 for the All-Rachmaninoff Faculty Concert at South Shore Conservatory, Ellison Center for the Arts, 64 George Street in Duxbury, Massachusetts at 7:30 p.m. This special concert funds scholarships for Duxbury Music Festival students.
Photo courtesy of Kathy Dixon
Travel to Duxbury Town Green and enjoy Reggae on the Green featuring the Berklee Reggae Ensemble with opening act and South Shore Conservatory rock band, Toast on Friday, July 21 at 7 p.m. Other events on the Duxbury Town Green include Rhythm and Blues on the Green Dinner Dance with party band In the House Saturday, July 22, Family Fest with plenty of kids entertainment and interactive activities featuring South Shore Conservatory’s ImagineArts band followed by Picnic in the Park featuring live entertainment from DMF students, lobster roll, and concessions on Sunday, July 23. Back at South Shore Conservatory in Duxbury, take in Duxbury Music Festival’s All That Jazz featuring quintet Elan Mehler and a Duxbury Wine and Spirits tasting on Wednesday, July 26.
The Duxbury Music Festival concludes with a Winners Concert and Farewell Reception including a Duxbury Wine and Spirits Tasting on Friday, July 28. Tickets go on sale June 1, but subscriptions are now available. Call 781-934-2731, ext. 11 or click here for tickets, see the full schedule, and all that the Duxbury Music Festival has to offer.
Finding strength and endurance in life’s challenges is easier said than done, especially when it comes to one of the most cherished and epic races in history. Hailed as one of the most demanding marathons since its inception in 1897, for many, The Boston Marathon encapsulates a lifelong goal. It takes the utmost endurance, agility, stamina, and determination for some the fastest runners in the world to conquer and suffer through the Boston Marathon’s annual awe-inspiring journey from Hopkinton to Boston. Boston invites audiences to hear a few of those extraordinary stories and more for just one night on Wednesday, April 19.
In its 120th year, the Boston Marathon will show its first feature-length documentary film, Boston as a nationwide Fathom event on April 19 only. Narrated by Academy Award-winner Matt Damon, Boston explores the extensive history, the building momentum of the Boston Marathon over the years, the incredible stories of its runners, and continuing the race following the tragic events in 2013. Sponsored by John Hancock, learn the story of the Boston Marathon’s first charity runner, Stelios Kyriakides, who ran to support poverty-stricken Greece during World War II. Boston interviews first female runner Bobbi Gibb, the first Kenyan and African to win Boston, Ibrahim Hussein, and shares the story of exceptional runner Johnny Kelly, who ran the Boston Marathon 61 times.
Boston is directed by award-winning filmmaker and marathon runner Jon Dunham, who was able to share exclusive marathon footage, photos and memorabilia with permission from the Boston Athletic Association. Jazz instrumentalist and Emmy award-winning composer Jeff Beal, best known for creating the haunting score of the Netflix’s drama series, House of Cards, composed Boston’s extraordinary soundtrack, which was recently recorded live at Symphony Hall.
Click here for a closer look and tickets to Boston. Get further details on their Facebook page.
What is it like to perform at Urban Improv’s annual fundraiser, comedy, and music revue Banned in Boston? For the last five years, Emmy award-winning journalist and Chronicle host JC Monahan has taken the stage to support Urban Improv’s dedication to youth empowerment each year while leaving seriousness at the door. Sometimes the backstage antics are as hilarious as what is happening onstage.
As the guest list grows longer each year, this exciting, highly-anticipated event get sillier and more inventive. Anything can happen. Emmy award-winning journalist JC Monahan talks about her experiences.
Onstage at Banned in Boston – Governor Charlie Baker and musician Sally Taylor
Jeanne Denizard: Last year, I interviewed returning musician, Sally Taylor. Sally said she had a blast at Banned in Boston.
JC Monahan: She participates every year and is such a big supporter. I think a lot of the fun happens backstage, but we also have fun onstage too. It’s a chance to connect with so many other people in Boston behind the scenes talking and getting to know each other, laughing at the costumes we’re wearing and the lines that we’re saying, and it’s a blast seeing some of these people put into crazy situations. For example, one of my all-time favorite memories is Aerosmith’s Tom Hamilton, dressed in this fantastic blue prom dress, as one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters. Tom has achieved so much in his life and it’s so great he is totally willing to get onstage and be silly all for Urban Improv.
JD: He’s local too.
JCM: We have amazing people right in our backyard and it’s fantastic they all get onstage for this cause. We’re all from different walks of life contributing in our own way in our personal lives, but we are also contributing together onstage. I am as much a fan as I am a participant. Sally Taylor is so sweet, so down to earth, and so talented. I’ve become good friends with WGBH’s Jared Bowen and that is completely through Banned in Boston. Emily Rooney is hysterical and Matt Siegel, who I only hear on Matty in the Morning. I usually don’t get to see him face to face. It’s a little reunion every year.
Urban Improv presents their annual fundraiser, Banned in Boston Photo courtesy of Lisa Kessler/Urban Improv
JD: This year, Banned in Boston is hosted by WGBH’s Margery Eagan and Jim Braude.
JCM: They are two of my favorites and I listen to them all the time. Jim usually gives me a hard time which is perfect. It’s a great night and I love everything about it.
JD: It’s such a great cause. Urban Improv helps youth cope with real life challenges such as bullying and violence through topical improvisation.
JCM: Exactly, you’re there to support the arts in many ways, but you are also using the arts in such a constructive way to help kids learn to communicate. We can all benefit from being better communicators. I love that they are starting young and reaching kids who may not know how to solve a problem. Maybe Urban Improv will be that change in their life that sets them on a new path. How can you not want to be behind that?
JD: These kids may lack the guidance and are not in an environment where they can get it.
JCM: Exactly, it takes all of us. Urban Improv steps in and reaches those kids. If I can help keep that program going in a very small way, I’ll be there. I’ve participated for four or five years, but I feel like I’ve been there since the beginning since they make you feel like part of a family. It is a very inviting, warm, environment and it allows you to be even sillier that you would be.
JD: Oh, I know! The funny things I have heard.
JCM: When you have the congressmen get up onstage and act silly, the Governor, and the people I know through charity events as well, it’s just fun for everybody. One of the funnier ones is Sonia Chang-Diaz who was funny as Miley Cyrus one year. Banned in Boston oftentimes have a ringer who is an actual actress or actor that will blow us all away. Kathy St. George will be there this year and she’ll be amazing.
JD: You need a few to keep people guessing. Are any of your characters created with you in mind?
JCM: No, I think they work hard to keep us outside our comfort zone. Politicians don’t play politicians most of the time, though last year I did get to play a reporter a little on the nose. Then, years ago, I was a bratty yoga devotee. I’m all for putting me in the most uncomfortable, craziest role because it’s much easier than something that’s close to who you actually are. I’d rather play Miley Cyrus than have to play myself.
JD: Do you have certain people that you click with better onstage?
JCM: Anyone who is all in is the person I want to work with and I don’t think there has been anybody who hasn’t been all in. Lisa Pierpont is always all in. She came one year in a big, long wig. If you take yourself too seriously, this might not be the place for you. The list of people who have said yes are ready to be silly, ridiculous, and get people to laugh and enjoy themselves because we want people to come back year after year and continue to support Urban Improv.
JD: I know it is an improv show, but do you do any preparation for it?
JCM: We get the script less than a week before the show, but they do give you a costume comment. One year I played a judge, so I overnight shipped a graduation gown on Amazon for the show. I played the yoga devotee and they said to please come in yoga clothes. You have no rehearsal time and we walk onstage with our scripts. We are pretty much a mess, and that is the fun of it.
JC Monahan during an improv sketch at Banned in Boston as a judge with cast Photo courtesy of Lisa Kessler/Urban Improv
JD: What kind of surprises stick out for you over the years?
JCM: You don’t know what character you are playing opposite until you get there, so it’s always fun to see who got what character. A couple of years ago, the chefs in Boston made this awesome music video. Nobody knew they had done it and it wasn’t part of the program. That took some coordination, preparation, and effort for people that are super busy, but it was hysterical. This year’s Banned in Boston’s theme is offense, misdeeds, and comedic infractions.
JD: That sounds dangerous.
JCM: Yes, you never know. When I see the script in my inbox, it’s Christmas morning for me. You find out where they put you, the songs we sing at the beginning and the end and coming up with new lyrics to fit the always Boston-centric theme. Anybody from this area will get the jokes. The jokes are always about Boston accents, Boston parking, Boston drivers, Boston politics. Nothing will be missed and the audience will get it all.
JD: You talked a lot about what you look forward to each year and what drives you to return. What do you think is the best reason people should see Banned in Boston?
JCM: There are a lot of wonderful Boston fundraisers, so it’s hard to capture people’s attention, time, and money, and Banned in Boston has found a really unique way to do it that captures the spirit of what Urban Improv is. It has great food, great drinks, and a fantastic space at House of Blues in Boston. There’s no better mix than that.
Youth improv work in action Photo courtesy of Urban Improv
Click here for more information and tickets to this hilarious, one night only event starting at Lansdowne Pub for a cocktail reception at 9 Lansdowne Street on Friday, April 7 at 6 p.m. Banned in Boston at House of Blues, located at 15 Lansdowne Street, kicks off at 7:45 p.m. Click here for more on Urban Improv and its mission.
Music lovers unite! Zumix, East Boston’s non-profit organization geared toward empowering youth through music, has saved the best for last. Featuring 20 Boston DJs past and present, live performances, special guest sets, silent auction, and much more, Zumix brings their 25th anniversary year to a grand close with ‘Boston DJs for Zumix’ on Friday, March 31 at 8 p.m. This sensational benefit will be held at Zumix, 260 Sumner Street, East Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets and more information.
New radio station 94.9 FM Zumix Radio Photo courtesy of Zumix
After streaming online for 10 years, the evening benefit will also celebrate their new, growing community station, 94.9 FM Zumix, a station that serves a bilingual audience and features a wide range of programming. All proceeds of ‘Boston DJs for Zumix’ support Zumix’s dynamic, free teen music programs in songwriting, community radio, creative technology, instrument instruction, and performance. Click here to make a donation.
Youth DJ on the mic Photo courtesy of Zumix
The featured DJs are as follows: Adam 12, Akrobatik, Baltazar, DJ Bean, Jim Braude, Julie Devereaux, Fast Freddy, Mike Gioscia, Lori Grande, Merilee Kelly, George Knight, Carolyn Kruse, John Laurenti, Dana Marshall, Jess Phaneuf, Matt Phipps, Morning Guy Tai, Nancy Quill, Neal Robert, Nomadik, and Zumix DJs.
Zumix accepting an award from Michelle Obama Photo courtesy of Zumix
Winner of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award from the White House and providing music lessons and other technology to lower income families, Zumix’s mission is to empower youth to express themselves through music and make positive changes throughout their community and the world. At first started as a songwriting program, Zumix students enjoy in-school and after school events throughout the year. Songwriting, radio, audio technology, and performance are among the renowned programs offered by Zumix for youth ages 7 through 18 and over 1,000 students attend classes.
Annual Walk for Music community event Photo courtesy of Zumix
For tickets to ‘Boston DJs for Zumix,’ click here or call (617) 568-9777. Click here for more information on their upcoming concerts, events, and festivals. Follow Zumix on Facebook and Twitter.
Conquering distance with each stride is easier said than done. Hailed as one of the most demanding and beloved marathons since its inception in 1897, for many, The Boston Marathon encapsulates a lifelong goal. It takes the utmost endurance, agility, stamina, and determination for some the fastest runners in the world to conquer and suffer during the awe-inspiring journey from Hopkinton to Boston.
In its 120th year, the Boston Marathon is getting its first feature-length documentary film, Boston. It will explore the extensive history and the building momentum of the Boston Marathon over the years, the stories of its runners, and the devastating events of 2013. Jazz instrumentalist and Emmy award-winning composer Jeff Beal, best known for creating the haunting score of the Netflix’s drama series,House of Cards, is composing Boston’s extraordinary soundtrack. On Monday, February 13, Beal will conduct the BSO and record the soundtrack at Boston Symphony Hall. He will then lead the Boston Pops for a live performance on One Boston Day on Saturday, April 15.
Hosted by WBZ-TV and anchors Lisa Hughes and David Wade, the Boston Pops orchestra performs Beal’s original Boston score live at the world premiere screening of Boston on Saturday, April 15 at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston. Sponsored by John Hancock, a portion of each ticket sold to this special performance will support Martin’s Park, which is being built on Fort Point Channel. The Martin Richard Foundation was founded to commemorate Martin Richard, the eight year-old boy who was killed five years ago during the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. The park is named after him, the youngest of the victims. Click here to make additional donations to Martin’s Park.
Take a closer look at the upcoming film, Bostonhere. Click here for ticket information or call 800-982-2787. Follow the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Twitter, and like them on Facebook.