The New Ohio Theatre presented its 7th annual NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival live and in person at New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street in NYC from February 16-19 and then virtually from February 20-26. The New York City Indie Film Theatre Festival offered a variety of films from shorts to features on a wide range of topics and some of the film selections contain mature themes. Click here for more information and to learn more about New Ohio Theatre.
The Sleepless Critic was knee deep in short films and tackled Dating Drama and Friendship Bonds shorts which focused on a variety of perspectives on relationships. Friendship Bonds explores the value and challenges of friendships in various circumstances. Click here for the Dating Drama short film review.
Exceptionally directed, written, and edited by Tom Bean, Two Women on a Bridge is a thought provoking journey over the Williamsburg Bridge in May 2020 in a captivating display of black and white cinematography. Starring Karen Maine and Suzanne Lenz to Michael Abiuso’s gentle score, Two Women on a Bridge delves into a fractured friendship and reflects on the overwhelming changes in the world while engaging and hypothetical popup endings instill light humor to some serious themes.
In a quirky but realistic zoom scenario, a group of students are brought together by a group school project in Eyeballs. Written by Molly Powers Gallagher and starring as Nadine, Ola Pater as Cara, and Zack Palomo as Dev, the small zoom group convincingly conveys the nervousness and the hesitation to share ideas and connect. Directed and edited by Robert Thaxton Stevenson, stay put for this cute comedy’s end credit scene.
Lindsay, Lindsey, Lyndsey is not an exaggeration, but a tale of three different Lindsays. Lindsay’s fabulous new house. However, things are not quite as they seem. Dan Kuan Peeples, Cameron Cronin, and Daphne Overbeck deal with jealously, unrequited love, and a renewed sense of belonging as they reminisce over old times. Though some of the themes are a bit repetitive, this dramedy examines the complications of long term friendships and what keeps them going through it all.
Directed by Catrina Rubenis-Stevens and written by Bryan Harlow, The One they Wanted is an absorbing and important short film about the challenges veterans face from within after they come home. It is a beautiful and poignant look at a pair of brother and sister veterans who share in their internal battles as sister Gabi faces difficulty in daily activities. Margo Serrano as Gabi embodies the veiled emptiness and depression over recent events while Writer Bryan Harlow also stars as Gabi’s nurturing brother Patrick as they attempt to find connection in their shared experiences. It is a genuine and affective short film not to be missed.
Scene Study is a sly short film about mixed signals. Written and directed with a few twists and turns by Trace Pope, Russell Sperberg as shy Cal and Joshua Ciccel as charismatic Ryan rehearse a scene study together when something unexpected happens. Director Trace Pope does a remarkable job in this brief time frame to create a light, unpredictable drama that keeps the viewer guessing till the very end.
Remarkably directed by Bandar Albuliwi, Sakrə Fīs (Sacrifice) is a riveting Iranian story about Azaheh, impressively depicted by Tiffany Ariany and Johnny Ferdosi as playful and fascinating Aadan who find themselves in a suspenseful and life threatening situation during a football game. Enhanced by Joe Aguirresarobe’s gripping cinematography and Nima Fakhrara’s affective score, Ariany and Ferdosi’s natural and sweet chemistry and the dangers of daily life in present Iran is what makes this increasingly tense and unpredictable tale such an engrossing and heartrending journey.
Do the ends justify the means? A man, at his most vulnerable, is being forced into a mysterious lake at gunpoint. Hostility and tension reach its boiling point in this eerie confrontation between James Kautz as Jude and Alex Grubbs as John before the plot thickens. With harrowing direction by Morgan O’Sullivan and James Kautz and fueled by Adam Bloch’s haunting sound effects, The Bottom is an dark, deeply psychological look at the affect of toxic relationships and may cause more than a chill.
On a lighter note, We (Don’t) Know How to Live is a comical and somewhat liberating look at life when reaching a milestone birthday. Four friends unite for Claire’s 30th birthday party, but Claire receives some distressing news before she arrives which may ruin the whole thing. Jayne McLendon as Betty, Hilary Wirachowsky as Claire, Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah as Darcy and Gordon Harper as Daniel all give off some Friends vibes as they reflect upon the direction of their lives. Reflectively written by Jayne McLendon, Hilary Wirachowsky, and Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, the festive and inviting setting keeps the mood light as the group tackles relatable and age appropriate musings.
The New Ohio Theatre presented its 7th annual NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival live and in person at New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street in NYC from February 16-19 and then virtually from February 20-26. Click here for more information and to learn more about New Ohio Theatre.
The pandemic put life on pause for awhile and for some, it has an interesting way of putting life into perspective and mull over what really matters. Perhaps it is to cherish time with family and friends or to realize that the future is now. It might have prompted regrets and an eagerness to fix the future in any way possible.
College students Lydia and Amy are at a pivotal point in their lives. Both are ambitious with big dreams, but approach their goals in different ways. Amy decides to shake up her world while Lydia pursues her interests with her feet planted firmly on the ground. Their peculiar and abrupt chance meeting and awkward dialogue takes a moment to latch onto as if these two distinct young women speak different languages. Their observances and approaches to life are in such stark contrast, it is a wonder how they get along.
First time director Darya Amirshahi captures the essence of the pandemic with this small cast spending much of their time in solitude and hints at the restlessness of this time. This quiet life has Amy crawling out of her skin while Lydia dares not to dream.
The title suggests multiple meanings in this film, but what first comes to mind is Amy’s dream to become an actress, a career she pursues impulsively and with some reckless abandon. Serious and steadfast, Jacqueline Yushkov as hardworking Lydia does not seem to indulge in anything other than sensibility and gawks at Lydia’s impulsiveness. Gradually, Lydia tempers Amy’s lofty goals.
Sharon Juhasz amiably depicts Amy’s worried mother and voices her concerns, but Amy is resolute. Rebecca Lachmansingh as controlling and occasionally harsh Amy makes some questionable decisions in the film, but Lachmansingh also brings naïve and idealism that garners some sympathy for her character.
Two unlikely friends discover with a little faith, less reckless abandon, and a few hard lessons, there is hope. The dialogue is farfetched at times and can benefit from having a bit more subtlety, but Yushkov and Lachmansingh work out its believability through their quirky chemistry and gradual understanding of each other.
METHOD, an indie dramedy directed and co-written by Darya Amirshahi with Matthew Choi, is available now on Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services. Click here for more information
It is a production so engrossing that when it ends, you find yourself asking, “Then what happens?”
This is not to say that this insightful one man production, Mr. Parentis incomplete by any means, but the essence of this thought can be found in Maurice Emmanuel Parent‘s charismatic and absorbing storytelling. This autobiographical and semi-interactive recollection of a life-changing period in Parent’s compelling history features amusing and captivating characters that will keep you invested in his journey, eager to find out what is next.
Seamlessly directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Lyric Stage Company continues the timely production Mr. Parent by Melinda Lopez through February 6 at Lyric Stage Company in Boston, Massachusetts. It will also be available for streaming from February 7 through February 20. This show runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Within a colorful and empty classroom by Cristina Todesco, the aptly-named Mr. Parent manages to cover a great deal in its limited time frame from the state education system to struggling families to struggling teachers to desegregation during a pivotal time in Mr. Parent’s life approached with the kind of heart and humor that comes from experience. Inspirational, educational, and complex, Mr. Parent also begs a significant question that many people face every day: How do I pursue my passion while still making a decent living?
Working in the arts, this quest is close to my heart. In order to do what one loves, one may have to supplement that journey with additional job or jobs to make it all work. It is a journey of sacrifice, more than likely a lack of sleep, and an overwhelming desire towards that dream goal, however means it may take to get there. For some, taking this avenue may create another dream realized.
Maurice Immanuel Parent as himself is a struggling actor hoping to find success, but quickly realizes that doing so requires supplemental income. He finds it in the form of teaching. Having seen him perform as Cardinal Richelieu in Greater Boston Stage Company and Front Porch Arts Collective’sThe Three Musketeers, Parent has a wealth of talent. He is a charismatic presence onstage and it is easy to see the drive and heart he puts into his work. Here, Maurice Emmanuel Parent’s personal account reflects that talent in spades.
It has as much heart as adventure from hyena auditions to a sneaky hoodie to recollections of shows he encourages his parents not to see, Parent recounts the unsettled and unpredictable life of teaching and acting which includes plenty of realizations along the way with bite, humor, and in times of distress, unmitigated honesty. For example, in two particularly moving moments, Mr. Parent describes in anguish what it is like to see his bright students from low income families struggle for their basic needs and enduring the scare of a lockdown. He navigates scenario after scenario invoking an intensity and desperation to succeed in a job that he hopes will meet his needs, but wondering if he may be in over his head. Seemingly sterling opportunities almost always have its challenges and Mr. Parent shows that we all have much to learn.
Lyric Stage Company continues Mr. Parent through February 6 live and in person at Lyric Stage Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Not certain which way is best to tell a love story, but Jason Robert Brown certainly makes a powerful argument by the innovative way this story is told as Lyric Stage Company ’s musical The Last Five Years continues through December 12 at the Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The show is 90 minutes with no intermission.
Directed intuitively by Leigh Barrett with eloquent musical direction by Dan Rodriguez, The Last Five Years describes an ardent romance between a promising writer and an up and coming actress. It’s blissful love at first sight when suddenly, life goes into overdrive.
Having seen the 2014 film adaptation of the same name starring Broadway dynamos Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick, I had high hopes for this production and like Jamie Wellerstein and Cathy Hiatt, fell for both immediately. The Last Five Years is a compelling, poignant and multi-dimensional journey of love’s elation, humor, compromise, and struggle as life veers into unexpected directions. The Last Five Years doesn’t hold back in revealing the complex nature of this blossoming relationship, showing its vibrancy and its cracks in equal measure. How do two people stay afloat when life is throwing so many things at them in completely different ways?
Intimately performed in theatre-in-the-round with a seamless six piece band, the beauty in Lyric Stage Company’s The Last Five Years is not only in its wonderful lead casting with married couple Jared Troilo as Jamie and Kira Troilo as Cathy, but in its unique depiction of time and place through a cosmic and multi-functional rotating stage and the engaging way it consistently involves the audience.
Jamie and Cathy are earnest and likable and their faults are seen and met with sympathy, heartache, and a degree of discernment when they don’t perceive their own shortcomings. It’s an intriguing and thought-provoking piece as it explores a kaleidoscope of emotions with intensity and realism and perhaps recognizing yourself in their shoes for a moment or two.
Having witnessed amazing Jeremy Jordan as Jamie in the film adaptation, Jared had a lot to live up to, but he captures the essence of Jamie’s endless humor, charm, and determination while adding his own contagious enthusiasm and captivating vocals. He is a gleeful and conspiring storyteller for The Schmuel Song and displays ego and earnest sincerity in If I Didn’t Believe in You. Kira’s soaring vocals depict Cathy’s fragility, sheer determination, and playful optimism in I Can Do Better Than That. Another highlight involves Kira reflecting on A Summer in Ohio, portraying Cathy’s dry sense of humor and insecurity. However, she is the most enchanting in Goodbye until Tomorrow.
Jenna McFarland-Lord’s enthralling set design and Karen Perlow’s mood-induced lighting reflects two sides of love through its multi-color backdrops such as violet, teal, and purple as well as floating gold rings that shine alone and in pairs.
Jason Robert Brown’s music ebbs and flows much like love from bright to poignant, confident to humbling, and from rueful to triumphant. No matter how love changes, it is always a memorable journey.
Lyric Stage Company presents Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years through December 12 at Lyric Stage Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here more information and tickets.
The power of music is in full force in Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s (MRT) production of Alison Gregory’sWild Horses streaming on demand through Sunday, October 17. Merrimack Repertory Theatre previously offered the production in person from September 15 through October 3 at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell, Massachusetts. The show contains mature language and some adult themes. Click here for more information and tickets to this virtual performance.
Directed with heart and humor by Courtney Sale, Wild Horses delves into the life of the mother of a teenage daughter, portrayed with a blend of lively charm and excitable nervousness by Leenya Rideout, as she gets wrapped up recalling her story of a special California summer during her 13th year in the 70s while onstage at an open mic night. Rideout evokes a sense of adventure during this musically-fueled Moth Radio Hour featuring lyrics from 70s greats Rolling Stones, Heart, Van Morrison, America, and more.
Having delivered a likable performance in the 2020 indie film, Love, Repeat, Rideout further showcases her dynamic range in this meatier Wild Horses role with a humorous, heartfelt and sometimes raunchy performance. See what Sleepless Critic had to say about Rideout in Love, Repeathere.
With a love for music almost as much as horses, Rideout sings, strums an acoustic guitar, and proves an energetic and engaging storyteller sharing her experiences from a studious perfectionist to a teenager not afraid to break a few rules with the encouragement from her daring friends. With no shortage of excitement, scandal, humor, and heartache, Rideout’s onstage demeanor switches from responsible mother in need of a night out to wide eyed, youthful innocent with all the angst that goes with it. She blends what she remembers with her current wisdom, dwelling in the sacredness of youth. Ranging from teenage pranks to rites of passage, Rideout recalls these stories with wistfulness and passion, interacting with the audience like old friends.
Costume designer A. Lee Viliesis has Rideout ready to rock in an animal print scarf, Fender T Shirt, and ripped jeans and accompanied by guitarist Rafael Molina, she slips right into this adolescent spirit longing to be wild and free. All that is necessary is a little courage.
Here’s to the ‘freedom takers’ with Merrimack Repertory’s production of Wild Horses continues streaming through Sunday, October 17. Click here for more information and to get a closer look on MRT’s new season.
Michael Hammond may change the way you look at life. Are you afraid of the audition? He’ll show you a way to succeed. Having a bad day? He’ll show you a way to lift your spirits. As the new Director of Development at the Company Theatre, a role he calls a lifelong dream, his positivity may help others the way Company Theatre has helped him since childhood.
The Company Theatre, located at 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts, joyously held their first indoor production since their absorbing musical, Fun Home early last year. Rock of Ages was an edgy and energetic rock jukebox musical that took place last month. See Rock of Ages review here and click here for Sleepless Critic’s full podcast.
Sleepless Critic: Please tell me what it was like to be back in the indoor setting for Rock of Ages.
Michael Hammond: It’s so fantastic. It’s emotional, exciting, and the energy in the air was just electric. You were there. You saw it. People were cheering and screaming.
The show starts with Sally Forrest’s voice doing her standard announcement which we are all accustomed to hearing. It was such a welcome back and to hear her voice and I think people cheered over her entire announcement. Just to be back inside, hear that familiar voice, and to know we’re about to see a really fun and exciting show was just great.
SC: I know this was the opening weekend for indoor theatre, but you did have some outdoor theatre experiences like Avenue Q before this show.
MH: Avenue Q was incredible. The kids were so talented. Their commitment to what they were doing and their characters were dynamic. It was Broadway-type quality coming out of these kids on the outdoor stage of the Company Theatre out back. We have had other things like Divas with a Twist and Donny Norton’s band,The New Band there. That’s been a really nice addition to the Company Theatre as well as now being back inside.
SC: So getting back to Rock of Ages, you had your opening weekend and you felt like everything went as smooth as can be?
MH: Absolutely! So many new people in this show and as is typical of the Company Theatre, they are already saying this is my new home. It’s this overwhelming feeling that you’re home and you found your family at the Company Theatre even if you did one show and you never come back, it still feels that way. I’ve been involved since I was 19 years old.
SC: I was going to say that you are familiar with that feeling.
MH: I’m very familiar with that feeling. I don’t know what my life would have been like without Company Theatre. I would have taken a completely different path.
SC: It’s hard to replicate the kind of friendly and welcoming atmosphere you have when you’re in theatre.
MH: Absolutely! Such a nice group of people too that do theatre especially the teens. They just stay out of trouble. They have a common goal they are working towards and they enjoy each other’s company and make lifelong friendships. I can’t say enough about it.
I’ve just seen so many kids, even this summer just come through the doors and they leave just completely changed and confident and more themselves. It’s just a beautiful thing to witness.
SC: When you said you had been with Company Theatre pretty much your whole life, you said it was a lifelong dream to do something like this as the Director of Development now. I’m really excited for you.
MH: Thank you! Like a lot of people during the pandemic, you start to question ‘Am I doing what I want with my life? Is this fulfilling and rewarding?’ Like many people, I came to the conclusion that what I was doing was not for me anymore.
It had run its course and I needed something new and Jordie Saucerman, one of the founding partners of the Company Theatre, had passed away and that really accelerated my thought process because her wake was attended by so many people. I thought ‘Look at all the lives that she touched.’ The impact that Jordie had on people is immeasurable. Even if I make just a little sliver of that impact on people, I would feel great about my life. That set the wheels turning.
I approached Zoe one day and said, ‘I will be your janitor. I basically don’t care what you have me do, if there is a spot for me here, I am coming.’ That seed was planted awhile ago and it sort of blossomed into Director of Development. I’m so excited to try new things and just give back what I got from this theatre.
SC: Not only that, but you have a similar positive way about you like Jordie had. Where do you get your positive outlook from? Where do you draw it from considering I’ve also seen videos of you on social media?
I’m not attempting to fill Jordie’s shoes in any way. That’s not a task that anyone could accomplish. She is a unique individual who I feel is still around in the atmosphere and in the joy of the theatre. If I’m upset or have a bad day, it makes me feel better to brighten someone else’s day. That is such a nice feeling to buy someone in line a coffee or just compliment someone or encourage someone to do something they didn’t think they could do. I live off of that. If I am having the worst day of my life and I do something nice for somebody, I instantly feel recharged. I think that’s how I basically go through life.
SC: I hear that from a lot of comedians as well. It makes them feel better to make someone else laugh even if they are upset or having issues.
MH: I tried standup comedy once. I did it more for the writing aspect, but I did perform. It was an interesting experience because you come out onstage and you look at a sea of faces who want you to succeed because if you succeed, they have a fantastic time. You have an overwhelming amount of support that you just want to hold onto and it was an incredible feeling.
SC: What did you did before this that you wanted to walk away from and join the Company Theatre?
MH: I was the station manager at a local cable television station. I was so grateful because it was also a non-profit. I probably learned so many skills that I could apply to this job I didn’t necessarily have before. Just the behind the scenes stuff, the QuickBooks, the budgets, and managing a non-profit was extremely helpful and then also applying my video experience to the job as well. Filming and creating events and learning special effects.
So all of that which at the time was a perfect job for me, but nine years later I felt like I needed a change and so I am going to apply what I learned there and bring it to the Company Theatre. We can offer acting for camera classes and improv for camera classes.
I’ve been on auditions and in commercials. We want to provide those skills to kids who like to act and be on camera. We want them to be able to go into an audition and know how to slay what they are going to be asked to do and be prepared for anything.
I actually started with a class over the summer. Some of the kids were auditioning so they got immediate training for those auditions. When they came back, they would tell the other students that they did just what Michael showed us. I asked if they felt more prepared. Did you do a better job with the audition? Their faces lit up and they said, ‘Absolutely!’ That was a nice thing.
We want to get in touch with the local casting agencies which we already have a good relationship. We want to create a talent database where you can see video auditions and we can send those out so we kind of want to be a bridge between the local movie and theatre scene. We’ll provide students with the training. They’ll have the skills to go out and nail professional auditions and maybe get cast in movies and commercials. We just really want everyone to have new and exciting opportunities to excel in a career in film and theatre if that is something that they are interested in.
SC: Let’s face it – the audition process is the most nerve-wracking and hardest part I think to convey right off the bat because in your head, you are saying,’ I know what I can do for you’ but then you get up there and it is not exactly what you picture.
MH: Having directed before, people come in and they are nervous. The reality is the casting company is nervous and they have roles to fill. So, the second you come in, put them at ease, and they know they have options, they feel better. I always say in my mind when I got into an audition, ‘Here I am! You can relax. I am going to be that person you need.’ I think it’s an interesting way to keep yourself calm to think I am exactly what you need instead of I hope I’m what you need.
SC: I never really thought of it like that.
MH: Think about it. You have a reputation. You have a project. You want to cast the right people because that makes you look good as well. If you find the right people not only are you confident about the project, but it brings excitement.
When I direct a show, I’m not very excited about it until I know who is in it and then I can tailor their performances to their talents. It is such a thrill to watch people blossom.
Please tell me about the projects you are working on now and upcoming projects.
I don’t think I’ll be directing anything for a little bit. I’ll probably take on some projects here and there. I definitely can’t leave that part behind. I’m really going to focus on the video classes. I’ll be working with Christie Reading. She is extremely talented with anything video related. So, I will be teaming up with her teaching improv for camera, acting for camera, and getting people ready for auditions.
We want to nurture and encourage that. That is kind of my goal. It’s to really push people to excel in any way that they can.
SC: You can’t forget about Boston Casting. How convenient is that! There are all kinds of films going on in the state.
MH: Exactly and literally a mile down the road they are making motion pictures. So how can we not be a part of that? They are working on the new Jon Hamm movie in Cohasset. I know Angela at Boston Casting who is an incredible woman and I don’t know how she does everything she does, but with all those films going on, eventually they will run out of actors.
We get casting notices all the time and I’m forwarding them off to everybody I know that I think fits. For example, I sent a buddy of mine a notice yesterday. They were looking for an actual butcher with acting experience and I happen to know a butcher with acting experience. I’m thinking he might get it.
SC: I know. Some of the requirements are so wild.
MH: It’s so specific, but every once in a while I’ll say, ‘Wait a minute, that is me.’
Company Theatre is offering theatre classes in the fall. Click here for the full schedule and upcoming events.
To some, the sun is an adversary. To fast-living insomniac Simon, portrayed by Michael John Ciszewski, the sun is sleeping just when he is waking up. Michael John Ciszewski’s second solo project, The Sun is Sleeping, is a personal, contemplative piece though Simon wants to be anything but contemplative. He’d rather escape than be alone in his thoughts and his isolation, always looking for a quick fix as he dreams, loves, and parties big.
Click here for more information and how to watch The Sun is Sleeping, a one hour avant-garde film.
The Sun is Sleeping is part confessional, part introspection, and part escape, featuring a myriad of mixed emotions as Simon and other characters face a pandemic. As Simon fantasies about an eternally happy existence and doubt seeps in, the audience is privy to each character’s meandering perspectives in their sheer yearning to bond with other people in any way they can.
For the actors themselves facing an arts ‘intermission’ of this magnitude, it’s the thrill of the audience, lack of that type of expression, and entire way of life turned upside down that contributes to their unsettling uncertainty. Pier Lamia Porter as Sam and Rachel Belleman as Caroline unite in a wistful zoom call that could speak to anyone right now. It’s the longing and joy of being together. Some of the show has a sense of humor, but much more of it is reflection showing we all have too much time on our hands and yet the sun still shines.
When not working on the next house project, the last few months have brought many opportunities as an avid television and film fan to stream from home. From Knives Out to the Netflix hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, settling into the living room has been convenient and strongly advised.
However, theatre belongs in a separate category. It’s not only the buzz of anticipation from an exhilarated crowd as the lights dim, but live theatre begins a journey into a different world upon a unique and dynamic stage as I let the new setting settle into my psyche. Whatever may come of theatre over the next months or year, a live venue and the slow murmur as the curtain goes up has become more valuable to me than it ever has before.
Theatre has survived everything in history from World Wars to disasters to pandemics. It has transformed and overcome every obstacle it has faced. This time will be no different. Ah, but that glorious feeling.
In the meantime, virtual streaming broadcasts have made their way to center screen. New content seems to be popping up every day from theatre to music groups that are hoping to keep things afloat and longing to perform for an audience – even if it is one they cannot hear or see. Some are short, some are interactive, and some don’t translate well. Virtual award shows have also popped up in the last few months.
Perhaps I’m feeling more nostalgic than usual because each summer, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston sets the stage for a trio of summer musicals ranging from classic to contemporary. This time last year, Sleepless Critic reviewed Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s musical classic, The Sound of Music. It was a glorious production flanked with sprawling sets and an enchanting cast that left you humming the timeless soundtrack long after the show’s moving finale. Click here for the full review.
Mark Linehan as Captain von Trapp, Aimee Doherty as Maria and the Von Trapp children
A few of The Sound of Music’s promising talent lent their voices to Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s live, theatrical fundraiser Entr’acte that premiered on Sunday, June 28 and is still available on Reagle’s website. Hosted by Reagle veterans JT Turner and Mark Linehan and directed by Marisa Diamond, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston lifted the virtual curtain and offered a glimpse of summer musical magic featuring a showcase of musical favorites, familiar local and renowned talent, and some interactive fun while delving into Reagle’s rich history.
J.T. Turner as Georges Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
Among the many highlights were Jennifer Ellis who reprised her award-winning role in My Fair Lady with a soaring, blissful rendition of I Could Have Danced All Night. The Von Trapp children from The Sound of Music delivered their own number and youth performer Kimora Yancey delivered a powerful rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been from Hairspray. Pier Lamia Porter, who has been doing her own wonderful charity work for Covid 19, also shared her flourishing vocals for If I Loved You from Carousel, Reagle’s premiere musical in 1969. Scott Wahle brought his usual charisma for Music Man’s76 Trombones, Leigh Barrett reprised her role for It’s Today from Mame, and Dwayne Mitchell sang, I am What I Am from last year’s La Cage Aux Folles. Found Robert Eagle also shared some of Reagle’s vivid history.
Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s ‘Entr’acte’ performers Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
Virtually, they are all singing to that man, woman, or child behind the computer screen, phone, or on television. While this is flattering, it also makes me a bit sad. I miss hearing them sing while I quietly sing along, upstaging my performance in every way. How I have missed most steps in the dance…but can’t see their feet.
Click here for more on Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston located at 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts. Their virtual youth theatre workshops are happening now and their second workshop session will start on July 20.
In a white suit and glittering heels, soprano and actress Christina Pecce may have paid homage to Beyonce (her style reminiscent of Beyonce’s suit at the Superbowl 50 halftime show), but certainly stepped into quite a few famous shoes with ‘Witches, Bitches, and Divas,’ a one night only, one woman cabaret that took place at the American Repertory Theatre’s (A.R.T.) Oberon Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Sunday, September 8. Click here for a closer look at ‘Witches, Bitches, and Divas!’ and here to see where Christina will perform next.
Don’t be deceived by the title. No witches, bitches, or divas actually appear in the show unless you are referring to “every woman” Christina Pecce. Her one woman show steps into all three categories to create a partly auto-biographical and comedic musical show covering the likes of Elphaba (Witch) from the Tony award-winning hit musical ‘Wicked,’ Miss Hannigan from the classic musical, ‘Annie‘ (Bitch, if left to interpretation), and diva Mariah Carey. She also chooses zany selections about marriage and shows off her classically-trained vocal talents performing a soaring French opera and then a tonally-deaf singer with Flanders and Swann’s A Word to My Ear. The bottom line is Christina Pecce can sing just about anything.
The Oberon in Cambridge, Massachusetts Photo credit to Witches, Bitches and Divas
Accompanied by a trio of powerhouse musicians which included Music Director Steve Bass on piano, drummer George Darrah, and bassist Nick Francese, Christina brings humor and personal anecdotes while adding her own spin to various medleys. She tackles subjects like nannies, drinking, and gravity and even sneaks in an amusing little drinking game too.
From Sondheim to Nat King Cole, Christina makes her time onstage an unpredictable, interactive treat as she occasionally wanders through the crowd, serenading a few audience members. She also left a piece of her heart onstage in a stirring rendition of Sondheim’s ‘Being Alive.’ Pecce last appeared at the Oberon in February and from the glowing reception she received when she returned, it certainly will not be her last time.
American Repertory Theatre’s Oberon is an intimate and inviting night club without a bad seat in the house that welcomes a variety of shows throughout the year. Located at 2 Arrow Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Oberon is American Repertory Theatre’s second stage for theatre and nightlife. Click here for upcoming events at the Oberon, here to learn more about Christina Pecce, and here for more about the American Repertory Theatre.
Is it worth seeing him when he comes back to Boston? Is he the Greatest Showman?
One thing is certain – Hugh Jackman is the genuine article.
Some actors who decide to go on tour put on self-indulgent shows of their history in show business and share their general musings about life to promote their next album or film. They might even sing a song or two. However, outside the studio, they can’t really sing or dance. People cheer, even if the show isn’t what they were expecting, but they remember that guy in that film or show who was so great in those roles, and that is enough.
Hugh is one talented guy. He is a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy award-winner as well as a Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominee. He has also been on the other side of acting as host of the Academy and Tony Awards. For his 50th birthday, he wished to go on a world-wide tour.
Hugh Jackman’s ‘The Man. The Music. The Show’ will continue through October 20, 2019. Click here for show dates. He’ll also return to Boston’s TD Garden for one more performance on Tuesday, October 1.
Photo credit to Hugh Jackman The Show
The morning of Hugh’s appearance on Thursday, June 27 at the TD Garden, Hugh Jackman made a surprise appearance serving coffee from a coffee truck in Boston to promote his charity work with ‘The Laughing Man Cafe and Foundation.’ A loyal Bruins fan, he called performing in Boston one of his big dreams.
As superhero Wolverine (in which he demonstrated an onstage pose or two), he showed his dynamic range. Decked out at first in a white tux, he ran the gamut of styles from flashy costumes to more casual attire with no ringleader costume in sight. Though he reminisced about his career with a realistic look at his dogged pursuit to find success as an actor, he seemed like a humble, funny, and approachable guy.
A family friendly show, he kept the crowd moving with a broad range of music. From reaching into an old school vibe with selections such as I’ve Got Rhythm and Mac the Knife to tap dancing to AC/DC to performing a vast selection of musical theatre including lighting up the stage with selections from ‘The Greatest Showman,’ the show had a universal appeal though especially tailored for the theatre buff. He joined Kaley McKnight onstage to perform a stunning, powerful rendition of This is Me and a sweeping ‘Les Miserables‘ medley. He also joined members of the Boston Children’s Chorus for a stirring rendition of You Will Be Found from the hit musical, ‘Dear Evan Hansen.’
Hugh Jackman at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
The second half of the show did not outdo the first, but he demonstrated his range further in the second. It actually became a bit trippy during his ode to his Australian idol, Peter Allen in which Hugh won a Tony Award for his portrayal as Peter in ‘The Boy From Oz.’ Peter was not only known for songs such as Don’t Cry Out Loud and Arthur’s Theme, but for his over-the-top stage performances. He also welcomed the audience into his native Australia by recreating the outback, claiming it as one of his most out-of-this-world experiences he has ever had.
So, to answer those questions, I prefer Hugh in his epic films, but he is undeniably a wonderful performer. The very best is a lot to ask, but his dynamic range is truly great and worth watching on tour or when he returns to Boston in October. You will no doubt recognize the sheer talent that he has developed over decades of being a singer, a dancer, theater actor, movie star, and a hero.