REVIEW: Soprano-actress Christina Pecce puts her own spin on a few famous faces in fabulous ‘Witches, Bitches, and Divas!’

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.

Witches Bitches and Divas Oberon Cambridge

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.

 

 

 

REVIEW: Celebrating their 70th anniversary, Hingham Civic Music Theatre delivers a feel good family favorite with ‘Annie’

Generations have grown up with some version of little orphan Annie and her trusty dog Sandy who meets billionaire tycoon Oliver Warbucks during Depression-era New York.  It is a classic family tale for all ages with the eternal promise that no matter what happens, there is always hope.  As the intimate, sweet-sounding orchestra chimed its first triumphant, horn-infused notes of the overture highlighting song snippets of It’s a Hard Knock LifeFully Dressed, and TomorrowHingham Civic Music Theatre (HCMT) proves this steadfast musical favorite never goes out of style.

To cap off their 70th anniversary, Hingham Civic Music Theatre brings back this beloved musical to an almost sold-out audience so try to capture the last few tickets now.  Directed and choreographed by Nathan Fogg and musically directed by Sandee Brayton, Annie continues through Sunday, November 10 at Hingham Town Hall located at 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Annie NYC

Abby Tondorf as Annie, Rob Buckel-Gillis as Oliver Warbucks, Sara Daly as Grace Farrell and the cast in the Big City Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

What is such fun about Annie is although the story remains the same, there is always room to perform it a little differently each time.  Having seen the beloved 1982 film adaptation featuring a brilliant cast including Tim Curry, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Aileen Quinn, and Albert Finney, it is easy to forget the stage musical version sticks to the storyline for the most part, but also contains additional songs.

A group of homeless New Yorkers offer a spirited version of Hooverville, which dials into social injustices during the Great Depression.  Rob Buckel-Gillis as dapper, tough-minded tycoon Oliver Warbucks pays tribute to the Big City with N.Y.C. before later performing a touching rendition of Why Would I Change a Thing.  These are just a few of the additional songs included in the stage version of the musical.

Annie I think you're gonna like it here

Abby Tondorf as Annie, Sara Daly as Grace Farrell as Grace, and the cast singing ‘I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here’  Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

From wealthy city shoppers to house staff to government officials including President Roosevelt to the amazing Rockettes and even Santa, the delightful ensemble cast seamlessly enhances the lighthearted atmosphere of this production.  For example, before the famous number, Be Our Guest from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast existed, I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here offers its own set of accommodations as the house staff warmly introduce Annie to Oliver Warbucks’s mansion.

Enhanced by a few impressive stunts, the orphans skillfully navigate the memorable number, It’s a Hard Knock Life as the orphans mourn their life in the orphanage with Miss Hannigan.  The orphans’ version of Fully Dressed is adorable and sure to make you smile.

Annie - It's a Hard Knock Life

‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ number Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

Donning a red bob haircut tied with a scarf, Abby Tondorf delivers spunky charm as Annie, her silvery vocals strongest during the numbers I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here and her signature song, Tomorrow.   She shares some endearing moments with Rob Buckel-Gillis as Daddy Warbucks.  Along with her trusty dog Sandy who is a ringer for the dog in other adaptations, the two of them make a sweet pair.

Having made her last appearance as the Dragon in HCMT’s Shrek, Debby Rawson Stratton sinks her teeth into this fiery role as sarcastic and snarky Miss Hannigan.  Wearing a purple silk robe over a green nightgown with frazzled red hair, Debby makes the role her own with sharp, comic timing and a vocal belting quality never better than during the hilarious number, Little Girls.  Aaron Stolicker as Rooster and Whitney Lloyd as Lily St. Regis make an amusing, sleazy pair.

Sara Daly charmingly depicts elegant Grace Farrell, Oliver Warbucks’s levelheaded secretary.  Daly participates in a frequent battle of wills with Debby Rawson Stratton as Miss Hannigan and their smug verbal exchanges are hilarious.

Annie Christmas photo

The cast of ‘Annie’ Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

Don’t wait for tomorrow to get the remaining tickets to Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s musical, Annie, a classic family show with an timeless message about never giving up.  Annie continues through Sunday, November 10 at Hingham Town Hall located at 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and for tickets.  Follow Hingham Civic Music Theatre on Facebook for updates and more.

Kristen H. Tremblay talks role in Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s ‘Cabaret’ to kick off 70th anniversary season

Hingham Civic Music Theatre (HCMT) is thrilled to kick off their 70th anniversary.  Over the past 7 decades, The Wizard of Oz, Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma, Young Frankenstein, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Sound of Music are just a few of the wide range of musical productions HCMT has produced on the South Shore of Massachusetts.  They are launching their milestone season with award-winning spring musical, Cabaret, a captivating musical which celebrated its 50th anniversary just a couple of years ago.

HCMT Cabaret poster

Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

Set in the Kit Kat Club in Berlin, Germany as the Nazi Party was rising to power, Cabaret focuses on nightclub girl Sally who becomes embroiled in a love triangle.  Winner of multiple Tony awards, Cabaret is known for its glamorous dance numbers while dealing with serious issues of the era.  The 1972 film was directed by dance legend Bob Fosse and starred Liza Minnelli in her star making role.  This show is not intended for children and contains mature themes.

Sleepless Critic caught up with Kristen H. Tremblay who will make her HCMT debut as Sally Bowles in Cabaret for two weekends only from Friday, April 20 through Sunday, April 29 at Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.

HCMT Kristen as Sally

Kristen H. Tremblay as Sally Bowles

Sleepless Critic:  How does it feel to star in the first show of Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s 70th season?  It is quite a milestone.

Kristen H. Tremblay:  I’m so thrilled to be playing a leading role in such a great show as part of this wonderful theater group’s 70th anniversary season! A very special honor for sure!

SC:  What do you like most about being part of Hingham Civic Music Theatre?

KHT:  This is my first production with Hingham Civic Music Theatre. They have such a wonderful reputation and it’s been great getting to know everyone in the group.

SC:  This season also includes the beloved musical, Annie this fall.  You star as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.  Have you ever done this show before?  What was the audition process like for you?

KHT:  I’m a classical soprano and usually play roles very different from Sally. As I get older, I’m trying to challenge myself by going out for roles that might be a stretch for me creatively. Sally Bowles is a complicated, meaty character and love every moment in her shoes.

I auditioned to challenge myself and because I have known the director, Nathan Fogg, for years and think he does great work. I didn’t think I had a shot at getting Sally, but felt really positive about my audition. The day after the audition, I was in line at the grocery store when I got the call. I was shocked and incredibly thrilled.

SC:  The multiple Tony award-winning musical, Cabaret celebrated its 50th anniversary a couple of years ago.  It is a unique musical with memorable songs such as Maybe This Time, Wilkommen, and its famous title track, Cabaret.  What was most challenging about this role?

KHT:  Sally is an iconic character in musical theater. There’s some intimidation associated with the pressure of doing her justice!  She has many sides to her and many intriguing levels. It’s been fun exploring how best to portray her.

HCMT Cabaret production photo 2

Aaron Stolicker as Emcee with cast in production photo

SC:  How has it been putting the show together?

KHT:  I adore everyone in this cast. They are such a fantastic group of kind, talented, and hard working people. We are having a blast and we all have deeply bonded. No question I’ve made lasting friendships.

SC:  What is the best reason one should see Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s Cabaret?

KHT:  Cabaret is a very different theatrical experience unlike anything else out there right now. It will not disappoint!  It’s edgy, honest, shocking, funny, and thought provoking.

Directed by Nathan Fogg, Hingham Civic Music Theatre proudly presents their spring musical, Cabaret for two weekends from Friday, April 20 through Sunday, April 29 at the Sanborn Auditorium, 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.

Click here to take advantage of “Facebook Friday” offer exclusively for the April 20 performance.  Use password “pineapple” to get a pair of tickets for 35 dollars.  Follow HCMT on Facebook.

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