REVIEW: Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s ‘Seussical the Musical’ is groovy, dazzling, and endlessly imaginative

What a time to know Dr. Seuss.  Not only was Dr. Seuss’s new book, Horse Museum, recently released from some of Seuss’s old manuscripts, but this month marked the Canadian debut of an immersive, interactive touring exhibition based on his legacy.  “Dr. Seuss Experience” is expected to arrive in Boston later this year.  After all this time, we are still celebrating Theodor Seuss Geisel who would have been 115 years old this year.

Hingham Civic Music Theatre (HCMT) found many reasons to celebrate Dr. Seuss with their family-friendly, brightly imaginative, and insightful Seussical the Musical continuing through Sunday, October 27 at Hingham Town Hall in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.

HCMT Seussical cast

The cast of Seussical Photo courtesy of Kerry Tondorf/Hingham Civic Music Theatre

From the introspective yearnings of Solla Sollew to the wise, multi-tiered significance of the number, How Lucky You Are, Seussical runs the gamut of silly, sorrowful, and thoughtful musical moments. The catchy, distinct, and clever soundtrack resonated through the live orchestra, newly situated onstage above all the action.

Directed by Victoria Kirichok-Pratt, Seussical is a musical adventure that strings together a few of Dr. Seuss’s most popular works while cleverly weaving in valuable life lessons along the way.  What makes it such a wonderful musical is beneath its comical, brightly-lit fun lie universal truths for the young and old.  Zany, imaginative tales unveil insights about vanity, war, sticking to one’s convictions, and just plain coping with life’s inevitable difficulties.  Even the darker topics remain family-friendly as audiences delve deeper into Dr. Seuss’s vast and unique universe.

HCMT Seussical Jojo and the Whos

Paul Antico as Mayor, Jean Lyon as Mrs. Mayor and Marcus Myers as JoJo Photo courtesy of Kerry Tondorf/Hingham Civic Music Theatre

At the center of this universe is adorable, inquisitive, and charming JoJo Who, portrayed by Marcus Myers.  With wide eyes and a sweet smile, JoJo is starting to learn that life is much more complicated and unpredictable than he ever thought possible.

Much like Dr. Seuss, this wildly dynamic cast is much more than meets the eye and with award-winning costume designer Kathryn Ridder, each character’s outward appearance certainly shines.  The catchy opening number, Oh The Things You Can Think, reveals the brilliant and beautiful costumes which include some that look like they walked right off Seuss’s innovative books.  Bursting with color, mismatched, madcap patterns and edgy, impossible hemlines deliver that peculiar Seuss quality.  One character was even decked out as a Christmas tree.  Bird girls shimmer, Wickershams strut in sunshades and fringe, and the Whos revel in vintage flair.  There’s fine detail in each costume, like a hint of red glimmering under the tails of the Cat in the Hat’s black jacket.

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Wearing his signature top hat and “tails,” Michael Warner mischievously portrays The Cat and the Hat as part Master of Ceremonies, adviser, narrator, and occasional troublemaker.  Warner bounces and glides along the stage, popping in to depict a variety of characters and reveling in the occasional chaos such as Egg, Nest and Tree and It’s Possible.

Justin Grankewicz delivers a sweet and sympathetic performance as ceaselessly faithful and compassionate Horton, who hears a mysterious sound from a speck of dust.    Grankewicz’s earnest face and charming demeanor with JoJo, Gertrude, and the community make him easy to root for.  Myers and JoJo deliver a heartfelt rendition of Alone in the Universe and Jessica DePalo brings unassuming, awkward charm to Gertrude who shines as an avid, amusing storyteller in All for You and Notice Me Horton.

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With a Cheshire grin, Carole Shannon struts and shimmers as self-involved Mayzie, showing great comic timing and chemistry among her girl birds and Gertrude.  Sour Kangaroo, portrayed with a wealth of sass and quite the set of pipes by Katia Green, has plenty to say accompanied by her equally streetwise young sidekick Natalia Tsourides.  They make quite the charismatic pair.  In a robe and festive pajamas, Bruno Barbudo’s bearded Grinch is a creature of few words, but his priceless morose scowl makes a statement all its own.

Hingham Civic Music Theatre continues Seussical the Musical through Sunday, October 27 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets and follow HCMT on Facebook for upcoming events and more.

REVIEW: From the creator of ‘Riverdale’, Flat Earth Theatre delivers a bizarre and suspenseful ‘King of Shadows’

The theme of Flat Earth Theatre’s 13th season has been a thought provoking, mind-bending journey exploring the extraordinary in Delicate Particle Logic, the mythical in Not Medea, and now the mysterious and fantastical in King of Shadows from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the creator of Riverdale. This season’s unique, message-driven productions bend reality to reveal a bigger picture.

As a fan of the twist-ending, they have been nothing short of fascinating.  Directed by Michael Hisamoto, Flat Earth Theatre continues King of Shadows through June 22 at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.  This show may be haunting for children.

Flat Earth Theatre King of Shadows set

The setting of Flat Earth Theatre’s ‘King of Shadows’ Photo courtesy of Flat Earth Theatre

Much like Riverdale, an ordinary setting withholds extraordinary secrets. Grounded in the reality of missing children in San Francisco, King of Shadows delves into the lives of four distinct characters, all affected by their dark past.  The haunting set and intimate, encompassing staging, especially PJ Strachman’s light design, Bram Xu’s sound design, Stage Manager/Puppeteer Amy Lehrmitt, and scenic designer Ryan Bates, create an immersive, unsettling atmosphere for what is about to unfold.

Compassionate and ambitious Berkeley graduate student Jessica, portrayed with finesse by Laura Chowenhill, may be in over her head when she meets Nihar, a mysterious, wise-beyond-his-years homeless teenager portrayed by Trinidad Ramkissoon.  Ramkissoon’s penetrating gaze and inquisitive nature give Nihar an edgy charisma.  He has a fuzzy past, but that does not stop Jessica from her perpetual desire to help others.

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Logical and protective policeman Eric Saunders, portrayed impressively by Matt Crawford, is suspicious that Nihar may have a dangerous agenda.  Crawford’s Eric is a great foil for Chowendill’s pensive and conflicted Jessica, setting the stage for some sparks.  Jessica’s resentful and impulsive younger sister Sarah, portrayed with sarcasm and sass by Abigail Erdelatz, is capable of anything as she longs for a different life.

Flat Earth’s multi-layered production, King of Shadows is best seen without revealing too many details.  Though it’s an increasingly outlandish tale, King of Shadows has more than its share of suspense, leaving the audience constantly wondering where each character’s loyalty truly lies.

Flat Earth Theatre - King of Shadows Trinidad Ramkissoon as Nihar

Trinidad Ramkissoon as Nihar Photo courtesy of Flat Earth Theatre

Flat Earth Theatre’s final production of its 13th season, King of Shadows continues through Saturday, June 22 at the Black Box at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street in Watertown, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.

Partially surrounded by a lush green lawn that gives it a campus feel, The Mosesian Center for the Arts houses a number of productions, concerts, and exhibits during the year.  Offering free parking and next door to Panera Bread,  Earful and Gilly Assuncao are among the featured concerts this month while The Wizard of Oz and the opera, La Cenerentola, are among the upcoming theatrical productions.  Click here to see all that Mosesian Center for the Arts has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Inspiring documentary ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ more than a beautiful day in the neighborhood

“It’s such a good feeling to know we are lifelong friends,” was Mr. Rogers final words as he closed out his show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhoodin 2001.  However, the impact he has had on the world is timeless.

Though The Sleepless Critic usually tackles the very best in music and theatre, one has to make an exception to express the rare, extraordinary quality in Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a moving, deeply personal documentary which highlights Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, a children’s show that was unconventionally the best in television and ran from 1968 through 2001 on PBS.  The film is currently in limited release.  Click here for more information and ticket availability.

This is not to say Won’t You Be My Neighbor didn’t explore the power of music.  American cellist Yo-Yo Ma appeared on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood at a young age and shared his exceptional musical talent.

Mr. Rogers also used music as a powerful tool to influence his viewers such as with his original song, It’s You I Like.   An introvert from childhood, Mr. Rogers often expressed his feelings through music.  This inspiring documentary opens with Mr. Rogers offering a metaphor on the piano about life’s difficult transitions.  He expressed how easy it may be to get from a C note to a D, but how challenging it is to transition from an F to an F sharp, paralleling the challenges children face growing up.  His dedication to children through television offered children support on how to overcome the hardships of life and feel like they have a unique importance in this world.

The film draws from Mr. Rogers’s charisma, which softened the toughest of hearts with his assertion that everyone either had love or lacked it.  Through his family members, cast, crew, and some of his adversaries, it is a balanced portrayal of an ordained minister with a simple purpose, a purpose that was not always understood.  Nonetheless, Won’t You Be My Neighbor is an important film that has navigated generations of children through grief, assassination, divorce, disabilities, and other hardships, providing glimpses into devastation in recent history such as war, the Challenger tragedy, and 9/11.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor was also not without its own sense of humor from backstage antics to show parodies.  However, the best quality of Won’t You Be My Neighbor is, like a good neighbor, Mr. Rogers had a warm smile and an open door, and he genuinely cared.  That’s an awful lot of comfort in a troubled world.

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South South Conservatory’s annual, family summer outdoor concert series, ‘Wacky Wednesdays’ returns

South Shore Conservatory, known for offering fun, educational, and interactive classes and entertainment for all ages for the South Shore of Massachusetts and beyond, is proud to enliven Wednesday mornings once again.  Sponsored by The Harold and Avis Goldstein Trust with WATD as media partner, South Shore Conservatory’s Wacky Wednesdays has been delivering award-winning, educational, and interactive family entertainment for their 21st year every Wednesday mornings as part of their outdoor Summer Spotlight series.  Wednesday morning concerts also feature free lemonade and chocolate milk starting at 10 a.m.

Kicking off the season on Wednesday, July 5, singer-songwriter and Music Together teacher Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys return to the Jane Carr Amphitheater stage.  This family concert series includes humorous, high energy, and catchy family pop band Karen K and the Jitterbugs on July 12, multiple award-winning Roots musician, Alastair Moock and Friends on July 19, and imaginative, energetic, and interactive musical storytelling by Debbie and Friends on July 26.  Click here for a closer look at this enchanting series.

All concerts take place rain or shine at Jane Carr Amphitheater, One Conservatory Drive in Hingham, Massachusetts.  With funding from Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, the Jane Carr Amphitheater has been updated entirely.  See the South Shore Conservatory’s summer spotlight concert series at affordable prices and no charge for children under three.  Discounted prices for groups are also available.  Click here for tickets and more information or call 1-781-749-7565, ext. 22.

 

REVIEW: South Shore Conservatory presents fascinating art exhibition, ‘South Shore Photographers’ through April 30

No matter how talented an artist is, there is nothing like discovery and opportunity.  South Shore Conservatory is dedicated to mold and provide opportunity for promising talent in the arts through their classes, workshops, and exhibits.  Click here for further insight into the South Shore Conservatory with two locations in Hingham and Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Curated by Judith Montminy, South Shore Conservatory and South Shore Art Center offered an opening reception for an insightful exhibition featuring 44 South Shore Photographers’ inspirational works of art on Thursday, March 23 at 6 p.m.  Visit South Shore Photographers exhibit through Sunday, April 30 at South Shore Art Center.

SS Conservatory Opening Reception and exhibition

‘South Shore Photographers’ feature 44 artists on two floors Photo courtesy of South Shore Art Center

Linked by a regal wooden staircase, The South Shore Art Center is brimming with carefully selected framed pieces on two floors.  Delicious free food and wine were available for guests at the reception as they carefully perused bright colors and abstract pieces.  Other pieces portrayed water and people.

SS Conservatory Art Gallery 2

Part of the exhibit for ‘South Shore Photographers’ Photo courtesy of Michelle McGrath

Soft landscapes, bright, sparkling water, snow steeped winter scenes, colorful highways, emerald green wooded views, and a pair of Bengal tigers is just a taste of what these deeply observant photographers offer in this ongoing exhibition.  Convinced that one portrait will be a perfect fit to take home?  Each framed photo is on sale.

Keri McAndrews Trees in Fog at exhibition

Guests gather at ‘South Shore Photographers’ opening reception and ponder ‘Trees in Fog’ by Keri McAndrews Photo courtesy of Keri McAndrews

South Shore Art Center presents South Shore Photographers exhibition through Sunday, April 30 at South Shore Conservatory, One Conservatory Drive in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information, how to donate, and the full calendar of upcoming events.  Follow South Shore Art Center on Facebook.