Two people, immediately intrigued by the sight of each other, hesitate to speak to one another. Yet they have such remarkable things to say.
Steven’s Burkoff’sLunch takes off from the start in fascinating and dense musings as Mary, portrayed with perceptive shrewdness by Jackie Sanders and Thomas, depicted with charm and gall by Bill Army sit listening to the sea’s crashing waves as their lives unfold.
Directed meticulously by PTP’s Co-Artistic Director Richard Romagnoli, Potomac Theatre Project (PTP/NYC) presents Lunch virtually through Tuesday, July 13. The play contains some mature themes and is free to watch. Click here for more information and how to support Potomac Theatre Project.
Lunch makes the most of every moment of its approximately 40 minute runtime through Berkoff’s rich and enthralling script and groundbreaking style of dialogue. Letting the audience into each person’s thoughts and conversation, what makes Mary and Thomas mysterious while thoroughly engaging is the distinct contrast between what they say and mean. Their lively imaginations and their tantalizing and sometimes searing observations of one another seem unhinged amid their marginally polite discussions at first. Sanders is particularly astute at capturing Mary’s detachment while Army’s boyish and meandering charm make for some unique chemistry as their encounter escalates into a surprising conclusion.
Passionate, blunt, vivid, and occasionally shocking, Lunch also delves into earnestness and loneliness in a most unexpected way. Lunch continues through Tuesday, July 13. Click here for more information and PTP/NYC’s upcoming events in their 34 1/2 season.
Michael Levin’s Polish Jewish mother hated one man shows. Jenny Graubart didn’t think there was anything interesting about someone standing on stage talking through an entire performance. However, what is so rewarding about Michael Levin’s The Mom Show is not just his reflections and a collection of family photos. It has wisdom, tragedy, resilience, love, disaster, music, and a cast of multi-faceted relatives existing during one of the most harrowing parts of history. Accompanied by a collection of original songs performed and composed by Levin (with the exception of one), The Mom Show is an intimate and engaging portrait of a survivor whose son still wonders how she did it all.
Written, composed, and performed by New York Times bestselling author and Tanglewood Festival Chorus tenor Michael Levin, The Mom Show continues live at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts Sundays through July 18 at 7 pm. It was the first in person theatre production to open in Massachusetts and it follows Covid guidelines. The show runs 80 minutes without an intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
Unlike Levin’s mother, I think there is something endearing about one man shows if they are delivered with heart, finesse, and has a solid story to tell. The production explores three generations from 1908 Poland right into the present day exploring Levin’s family’s experiences as they ventured into different parts of the world to escape the Holocaust and ultimately settling in Queens, NY. Through their ever changing locations, Graubart’s versatility, worldliness, and resourcefulness shine through while overcoming difficult hardships and triumphs that will not be revealed here. We’ll let Levin tell the tale.
Levin is an engaging storyteller, adding humor and spontaneity to this emotional journey. Musically directed by Nancy Loedy, The Mom Show delves into various musical genres from rockabilly to the blues to a Cuban lullaby. What We Remember is a particularly stirring piece. Levin’s sincerity and heartfelt vocals add a lighthearted gleam that keeps in step with each segment of the production. Levin’s mom was also a big fan of musicals before her death in 2018 and The Mom Show is worthy of her approval.
The Mom Show continues live at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street in Arlington, Massachusetts Sundays through July 18. Click here for more information and tickets.
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.
Transitions have been a strong theme over the past year and a half and with that brings forth a tumult of emotions. Staying true to this season’s theme, “Waves of Change,” the Boston Children’s Chorus depict a vibrant range of emotions through songs of comfort, pressing contemporary issues and dreams of hope of everyone together again in their final concert of the season, Lift Every Voice:At the Table.
Featuring special guest composers Sydney Guillaume, Omar Shahryar, and Layth Sidiq, Lift Every Voice: At the Table was live streamed for free on Sunday, May 30, but is still available to watch on their Facebook page, and YouTube channel. The concert also delivers information about their upcoming summer outdoor concert series, We Sing as well as information about the Kiser Scholarship, a memorial scholarship focused on community building and social healing.
Though each song offers its own message of hope and change, Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna, and Brandi Carlile’s uplifting Crowded Table and Omar Shahryar’s The Journey of Feelings portrays the dream of unity while reflecting on uncertainty and the exhaustion of the journey through this pandemic from a child’s point of view. Crowded Table brings to life the dream and comfort of finally being together again at the table without worry by a roaring fire. It’s a sweet, joyous, and memorable song that you may never want to end.
Omar Shahryar’s catchy The Journey of Feelings has its amusing moments, but underneath the beat paints a startlingly perfect expression of what kids are feeling from day-to-day over the course of the pandemic. It’s an upbeat and urgent song providing insight into intense and overwhelming feelings and yet delivers a precocious sense of maturity expressing hope of life returning to normal. Omar Shahyar’s There’s a Change A-Coming further enhances this sense of gradual change as they navigate through these uncertain times.
Moving backdrops and colorful, innovative zoom cinematography enhance each song and it is wonderful to hear from Boston Children’s Chorus members from all levels and their reflections on the world. It is also a treat to see the chorus outdoors from bridge to beach to city singing together at various times over the concert’s duration, but this is especially wonderful to watch for Mavis Staples’s inspiring Build a Bridge and Layth Sidiq’s spiritual, haunting, and rhythmic Reflection.
John Mayer’s popular song, Waiting on the World to Change brings its signature insightful flair but BCC enhances this poignant song with a moving dedication to emergency workers and glimpses of the state of the world during the pandemic such as the closure of theatres, empty trains, and elbow bumps instead of hugs. Mayer’s timeless lyrics resonate profoundly while the world is in transition.
Delving into multiple languages and a unique, moving open, The Boston Children’s Chorus also reflects hope and uncertainty through the eyes of Migrants with Joel Thompson’sAmerica Will Be as the BCC proclaims, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Dany Rivera’s charismatic and powerful vocals depict struggle and determination with Gregory Porter’sRunning (Refugee Song).
The Boston Children’s Chorus encapsulates distinctly what many are feeling at this time through their evocative vocals and strong messages while leaving this season on a hopeful note.
Click here for more information on how to join and support the Boston Children’s Chorus, their upcoming events, and digital offerings.
Scandalous secrets unfold and things are not what they seem in Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s (MRT) quintessentially local and fascinating production of A Woman of the World by Rebecca Gilman streaming on demand through Sunday, May 30. Partnering with the Emily Dickinson Museum and directed cleverly by Courtney Sale, this one-woman show led by Massachusetts native Denise Cormier lights up the stage with natural charisma as enigmatic lecturer and historical figure Mabel Loomis Todd. She claims to bring insight into the real life of the late, renowned poet Emily Dickinson, but what she unveils is so much more.
It was wonderful to see another production from MRT filmed onstage. A Woman of the World also offers plenty of local references such as Harvard, MIT, the New England Conservatory, Boston, Amherst and the surrounding areas. The show contains some hinted adult themes. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Scenic designer Bill Clarke and Original Music/Sound Designer David Remedios seamlessly combine the inviting comforts of home with the sights and sounds of a serene Maine setting. However, don’t let the serenity of this island home fool you. Mabel gears up for a quiet storm as the sound of the wind and crickets fill the air.
From welcoming to haunting, Carolina Ortiz Herrera’s soft, dynamic lighting not only transforms each mood in an instant, but does more so with Cormier. At first Denise Cormier as Mabel seems a lively, well-to-do speaker with well coiffed blond hair, but as the show progresses, the subtle lighting reveal tinges of gray.
Though it is a one-woman show, other “cast members” such as Mabel’s daughter Millicent is addressed offstage. Delivering a multi-layered performance, Mabel’s charm to win over her audience first comes off as egotistical, but gradually becomes earnestness and she soon seems like an old friend. Nothing short of a captivating showman, a warm and inviting presence, but the guarded moments intertwined in her storytelling is the stuff that keeps you hooked and her drifting reflections are when the show truly hits its stride. Having had a stroke, Mabel is also somewhat an unreliable narrator in more ways than one.
The show tackles relatable issues on feminism and Cormier as Mabel may make you root for her one moment and against her the next. However, she’s a survivor and an enigma ahead of her time.
Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s production of A Woman of the World by Rebecca Gilman is streaming on demand through Sunday, May 30. Following the production is a short interview between director Courtney Sale and Denise Cormier on the inspiration behind the show. Click here for more information, tickets, and for more about the Merrimack’s Repertory Theatre’s season.
It’s hard to miss the message behind TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever, a bold, semi-interactive satire that takes a deep dive into prominent social issues such as racism and sexual harassment by putting a contemporary spin into troubling pieces of history. Taking cues from Dear White People, TJ and Sally 4 Ever is anything but a love story and highlights the frustration evident within each of its characters as they attempt to convey their own point of view.
Directed by Pascale Florestal, SpeakEasy Stage Company presents TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever virtually through Thursday, May 13. The show run 1 hour and 35 minutes without an intermission and is not suitable for children. Viewer discretion is advised. Click here for more information and tickets. Resources for this production can also be found on speakeasystage.com and a panel discussion is available here after seeing the production.
Speakeasy Stage Company’s TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever heeds social distancing guidelines through some careful blocking and innovative technology. Though a couple of frames look a little awkward, the majority of the show flows naturally.
Sally, portrayed with levelheaded wit by Tah-Janay Shayone, portrays a college student who is starting a job under obnoxious, egotistical, controlling (and much more) Dean Jefferson. Flailing about with a subversive glint in his eye, Jared Troilo delivers an unabashed, grimly humorous performance as Dean Jefferson. Dru Sky Berrian as Pam and Sadiyah Dyce Stephens portray Sally’s caring, protective, and partying sorority sisters and Jordan Pearson as blunt and tenacious Harold will do just about anything for change.
Though this satire at times misses its mark, TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever’s unconventional premise and delivery distinctively portrays Sally and the cast’s exasperation as they bring to light the hypocrisies and arrogance within our society as each try to forge a path toward a brighter future.Choreographed cleverly by Kira Cowan Troilo, a particular highlight involves a dance sequence between Pearson and Troilo that quite literally drives home the scene’s inherent message. Rachel Padula-Shufelt’s colorful and detailed costume design from Sally’s symbolic outfit to a scene featuring colonial gowns enhances the production’s strong and serious subject matter.
The show effectively takes a hard, long look tying in the past, present, and is ultimately optimistic for a compassionate future. Speakeasy Stage Company’s TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever continues virtually through Thursday, May 13. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support the SpeakEasy Stage Company.
Based on real life accounts gathered in 2014 by Pulitzer prize-winning finalist Dael Orlandersmith, Until the Flood delves deep into the emotional and complicated perspectives and recollections of this community and how it affected each person following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
A colorful, makeshift memorial is strewn on a chain link fence shrouded in a blue, haunting darkness. Sirens ring out in the distance amid tingling and powerful music. Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s Until the Flood sets a foreboding undertone through Lindsay Jones’s chilling sound design and Bill Clarke’s haunting and true-to-life set pieces.
Encapsulating all the anguish, uncertainty, doubt, fears, and hope is Maiesha McQueen in a tour-de-force performance onstage as she takes on eight individual composites drawn from real life interviews in this one person show. From a 17 year-old teenager to a 75 year-old retired police officer, McQueen digs into the heart of each individual and delivers the kind of multi-layered performance that flows with each individual. From a subtle head tilt and a tumult of emotion brewing in her eyes to the careful movements and creaking in her bones as she takes on the persona of an ailing senior to the confident swagger of a teenager that feels like he can take on the world, McQueen writhes and broods with each character. Dressed in colorful and consistent street clothes by Yao Chen, each perspective and recollection made by each individual is fleshed out and brought together by McQueen as she pours herself into each character and makes each stand on their own. Her pliability transforms her stature, stance, rage, compassion, sadness, and anger “like the flood” over the state of the world.
Until the Flood provides not only each individual account of what they heard, saw, or experienced of the Michael Brown shooting, but a deeper look into how each person lived their life before and after this harrowing incident within this community. It is a raw, gripping look at how ugly and how beautiful a society can be and how easily friendships can change when people do not see eye-to-eye. It delves into anger that can be unleashed too easily, anguish, sadness, harrowing fear, and unbridled hope in fellow human beings in spite of life’s sorrowful circumstances. Most of all, it presents a fairly even handed, but complex account of what truly motivates human nature and how fear and hope takes shape.
Merrimack Repertory Theatre, located in Lowell, Massachusetts continues streaming Until the Flood through Wednesday, May 5. Click here for more information and tickets.
An unusual walk, a wordless journey spoken in song, a hollow room, and bittersweet scenes from the past is just a peek into ROOM, a series of three one-act plays by two Irish playwrights. It explores three people who see the world through their isolated circumstances yet share so much.
Directed by Rachael Chapin and Matt Cahoon, New Hampshire’s Theatre Kapow embarks on their final virtual show of their 13th season themed ‘We will get through this’ with ROOM, a poignant and meaningful journey into loss, isolation, regret, and hope continuing to live stream through Sunday, May 2. Click here for more information and tickets.
Through Edna Walsh’sRoom 303 and A Girl’s Bedroom as well as Ailis Ni Riain’sI Used to Feel, each actor take in their surroundings, reflect on happier and more sorrowful times, and take in what they can of the present while depicting the meaning behind their “room.”
In A Girl’s Bedroom, ethereal special effects portray a rich countryside and more as Emily Karel reflects on a significant childhood memory. Karel offers a captivating portrayal as the girl as her world becomes vast in her small, colorful bedroom. Her bright inflections, enthusiasm, and surety are also tinged in sadness and loneliness as she reminisces on her young life.
Heidi Krantz embraces an emotional journey of loss and misunderstanding in I Used to Feel. In this brief musical portrait, Krantz evokes the frustration and heartache of misunderstanding due to a disability and the longing for connection again in any way possible. The visual imagery tied into a solitary clarinet makes this piece particularly poignant.
Perhaps the most powerful piece is in Room 303. Peter Josephson delivers a raw and moving portrayal of a bedridden man reflecting on his past and his future in his current circumstances. His journey calls to mind those who have been sick and alone with only the comfort and betrayal of their thoughts and imagination in these uncertain times. Anxious and bitter through his steely and weakening eyes, Josephson struggles with his recollections as his world becomes smaller.
Theatre Kapow’s ROOM continues live streaming through Sunday, May 2. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Ever wonder what the Mad Hatter would say if you were welcome to tea or imagining a nonsense word to get you out of a fix or how the guards paint the roses red?
This is just a glimpse into Company Theatre’s Wonderland: Alice’s Immersive Adventure, a magical, unique and most curious tour with some of Alice in Wonderland’s most iconic characters continuing through Saturday, May 1 at The Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, MA. Directed by Corey Cadigan, this family-friendly tour, based on the Academy of the Company Theatre’s Theatre Workshop, takes place entirely outdoors on Company Theatre’s surrounding grounds following Covid guidelines. Click here for more information.
Drawing inspiration from the famous Lewis Carroll tales such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its film adaptations, Wonderland: Alice’s Immersive Adventure with Alice as your guide, you follow the White Rabbit while interacting with some of Carroll’s most iconic characters on a wacky journey to defeat the Red Queen. The colorful characters’ costumes by John Crampton and the sets by Ryan Barrow are fun, detailed and imaginative featuring twinkling lights to guide your way and the enthusiastic, engaging cast make every tour a unique experience.
Each character may ask you questions and you may ask them according to the rules of Wonderland. At journey’s end, enjoy a tea party featuring cookies and other goodies.
The Company Theatre presents Wonderland: Alice’s Immersive Adventure through Saturday, May 1. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support The Company Theatre.
Aboard a whaling ship in 1896, two powerful forces cross paths that could cause a disaster of their own doing. Christina Anderson’s pen/man/ship is a rich, quietly tense production that deepens within the intriguing script’s discourse and reflections and flows into the production’s dark setting. Self-righteousness, dominance, and trust carry heavy weight as Anderson’s multi-faceted characters become more complex as the plot thickens.
Skillfully directed by Lucie Tiberghien in English with French subtitles, Moliere in the Park’s theatrical film, pen/man/ship continues live streaming for free through April 24. RSVP is required and the show is two hours with a five-minute intermission. Click here for more information and how to stream the show.
Capturing the illusion of being on a ship without the cast actually being on one is no easy feat, but attractive visual illustrations by Rocco DeSanti and effective sound effects by Daniel Williams depict large groups and cast members sitting side-by-side do not look out of place or jarring to the flow of the story. Subtle technical details such as the gentle sway of the ship seem natural with the cast aboard. One particularly innovative moment shows Jacob reflected in a mirror next to Ruby to make it appear as if he is standing in front of her. The film flows so well from scene to scene without the quirks that zoom can sometimes cause.
Widow Charles Boyd (Kevin Mambo) and his son Jacob (Jared McNeill) embark on their first maritime voyage to Liberia when Jacob meets seasick Ruby Heard (Crystal Lucas-Perry) and is immediately attracted to her mysterious ways. Mambo as Charles pens reflections on his voyage by candlelight but his real motivations are unwritten.
Pen/man/ship boasts an impressive cast including Kevin Mambo as obstinate, domineering, and manipulative Charles and Crystal Lucas-Perry as mysterious, headstrong, blunt, and stubborn Ruby sterling in their portrayals. Both of these strong characters are more alike than they care to admit. Mambo and Lucas-Perry are eloquent in their discourse and both have a commanding presence in their own unique way. Their slights and verbal exchanges become riveting as the show progresses. One is persuaded by faith and the other by facts, but both seem too emotionally invested for that to be entirely true.
Jared McNeill delivers an amiable performance as modest, shrewd, loyal, and sympathetic Jacob who struggles with his heart and his head. McNeil and Lucas-Perry’s chemistry is earnest, yet complex and McNeill and Mambo have a warm and wary father and son camaraderie. McNeill is particularly shrewd at seamlessly evoking his inner conflict with Mambo, evident right across McNeill’s face.
Bearded and dressed as a crew member faithful to the period, Postell Pringle portrays humble, fair-minded, and altruistic crew member Cecil. Pringle has a welcoming presence as Cecil who often defuses tension as the show progresses. Forthright, experienced, and respectful, he is well-spoken and has the discernment to navigate each character just as well as any ship.
Pen/man/ship is a thought-provoking exploration of what motivates people who have the best intentions and how stubbornness, isolation, and fear can wield an ugly course and a stunning revelation.
Moliere in the Park’s theatrical film, pen/man/ship continues live streaming for free through April 24. Click here for more information and how to stream this free show.