Embarking on a journey from beloved local landmarks to overseas to inside the Boston Ballet studios, Boston Ballet’sreSTART amps up the excitement of their highly-anticipated return live onstage in time for the holidays.
With a versatile lineup that includes recently filmed jazz-infused contemporary dance, classic tales, traditional dance, and a season preview as well as a full range of costumes including street wear by Yin Yue and Jens Jacob Worsaae and Judanna Lynn’s spectacular royal fashion, Boston Ballet’s virtual reSTART, available through November 7, delivers an elegant and dynamic show for dance lovers everywhere. Click here for more information and for Boston Ballet’s full season.
Over the past year and a half, the renowned Boston Ballet has become much more than a force onstage. It has been inspiring to see this sophisticated and athletic company in various settings, using creative and unconventional methods to evoke their passion for their extraordinary work. Lighthearted, romantic, and refreshing, Boston Ballet’s season premiere reSTART demonstrates a brilliant new season to come.
Boston Ballet delves into a classic tale with fantasy flair featuring Soo-bin Lee and SeokJoo Kim, a stunning duo as they perform a deeply romantic Pas de Deux in an excerpt from Romeo and Juliet. Angelically adorned in a halo of ribbons and flowing gown by Song Bohwa and Hanna Kim, Lee is a vision in an idealistic dark forest. Despite a hint of foreboding, Prokofiev’s score is uplifting and glorious as Lee and Kim enchant each other building into bursts of joy, seeming to move as one into an embrace.
From classic tale to classic dance, another highlight of reSTART features Bach’s soothing, piano-driven rhythms as Addie Tapp and Lasha Khozahvili perform a tender and delicate dance as Khozahvili quite literally sweeps Tapp off her feet.
Muses take on full form as Paul Arrais beguiles inspiration as bold and fresh faced Apollo in a pivotal classic work which first brought choreographer Balanchine and composer Stravinsky together. What is particularly captivating about Balanchine’s choreography is the mechanical synchronization between muses Lia Cirio as majestic Terpsichore, Viktorina Kapitonova as mysterious and foreboding Calliope, and Chryrstyn Fentroy as jubilant and charismatic Polyhymnia. Their dance is meticulously precise as they rhythmically pivot in unison, at one point forming a beautiful silhouette until each have a chance to portray their own distinct chemistry with Arrais’s mesmerizing Apollo. They join together, hinging onto each other and one might wonder who is in control.
The Boston Ballet kicks off their new season with virtual reSTART continuing through Sunday, November 7. Click here for more information and a closer look at Boston Ballet’s new season.
Just prior to the pandemic, an award-winning, intriguing production not only made its debut but closed in one night on the Company Theatre stage in Norwell, Massachusetts over a year ago. Onstage as the meaty role of Bruce, Company Theatre’s Director of Development Michael Hammond experienced that incredible and bittersweet night and what it meant to the cast of the musical memoir Fun Home. Click here for our full podcast conversation.
The Company Theatre is offering a chance to see Fun Home for the full run they had originally intended in October. Michael talks about his experience as Bruce, his favorite part of theatre, and a secret upcoming project.
Click here for Sleepless Critic’s Fun Home review and here for tickets and further information about the Company Theatre.
Sleepless Critic: So you’ve been in theatre since you were a kid and now that we have had the pandemic, what was your favorite part of the theatre before and was there a change in your favorite or what you miss the most when we had a break?
Michael Hammond: I think we take a lot for granted in life. We forget how much fun it is to sing with an orchestra or to perform on a beautiful set someone built. Ryan Barrow does amazing sets at Company Theatre and it’s thrilling to perform on one of his sets. It’s thrilling to perform with Steve Bass conducting an orchestra and thrilling to perform Sally Forrest’s choreography under Zoe Bradford’s direction.
I think we take that for granted in some ways and as much as I enjoy it and maybe as I got from show to show to show, I think I just liked performing specific roles for the experience of getting to know a new cast. I did a Christmas show at Company Theatre and just recharged my energy to be around such beautiful people and exciting kids and talent. You’re in a flow and you are doing shows and enjoying it.
You get what you get out of it, but when the pandemic was coming, I was doing Fun Home with an extremely talented cast. Riley Crockett was playing the youngest Alison. I was re-experiencing theatre through her eyes and she had never been on a big stage or performed with an orchestra which is shocking because she is so talented. She would ask me, ‘Are you nervous for your solo tonight?’ I would say, ‘I am a little.’ She would say, ‘Good, now you know how I feel.’ Ok, she needs a little more support and encouragement in that moment.
Then we were standing on top of a staircase and we were about to walk down for our first entrance and she said, ‘Michael, I’ve never performed on a set like this. This is a big deal.’ I said, ‘Yes, it is a big deal. You are right. This is a beautiful experience and you’re about to sing live with an orchestra for the first time in a big theatre on a beautiful set.’ It made me look at what we are doing and not take it for granted.
So we were fortunate to open and close Fun Home on the exact same night because the pandemic had really hit. That day everyone was cancelling their performances but we went on because we had a feeling this would be it. I’m so glad we did because it was one of the most exciting and electric experiences of my life. People were rebellious and excited. They knew this might be the last time they ever saw this show and Fun Home is not a super positive and happy experience.
SC: It is melancholy.
MH: Right, but the audience treated it like it was a rock concert!
SC: Yes, I was there to review your first and final performance. I felt so comfortable and wonderful and I had saw this show in Boston before. What I liked about watching this particular show is that you can make it so different every time you perform it. The parts can be portrayed very differently and you can do so much with the show. In a way, if you had to say goodbye to theatre for awhile, I felt like that was such a poignant thing to do in that moment.
MH: It was. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I think I ever had and it was just so bittersweet because it was the last show with Jordie. How thrilled and grateful am I that I got to have Jordie’s final show be Fun Home and I got to be a part of it. It was just such a fantastic experience and she loved the show. It was such a joy to go through that process with her.
SC: It is one of those shows that sneak up on you unexpectedly. You’re experiencing the show and you enjoy it, but once it’s over, it is really thought-provoking.
MH: I saw it on Broadway and loved it. I thought that I don’t necessarily need to see it again. It was beautiful and moving and I think of it like a beautiful film. You watch it and then you watch another film. When this opportunity came around to work on the show, I have such a great appreciation for it. I think it’s just one of the greatest things ever written where you’re dissecting and it personally and really in the trenches on it. It’s so much more brilliant than I realized.
SC: It has such multi-layered performances as well.
MH: I was thinking today that there were so many things about Bruce, I almost feel like I just left my body. I personally couldn’t be any part of this character because it just wasn’t anything like me. Sometimes I think about it and it feels really difficult to do it again because I remember it as ‘What did I even do?’ I feel like something else took over and performed the role for me.
SC: I don’t often see you play parts like that. Not to reveal anything, but your character is very complicated.
MH: Then to hear compliments like you should do roles like that more often is such a compliment because people think of me as a song, dance, and musical theatre man. Not that I shy away from roles like that, but it was very gratifying to play that part especially opposite such a talented cast. It’s unbelievable.
SC: I know you’ve written a few works with Jordie and Zoe over the years. Please tell us how that came about.
MH: I co-wrote Paragon Park the Musical with Zoe, Jordie, Sally, and Michael Joseph for the first production and Steve Bass for the second who worked on the music. I love amusement parks and I loved Paragon Park. I went there so many times in my life.
When I heard that Zoe and Jordie were thinking of writing a musical about Paragon Park, I selfishly just wanted to see it. I had no inkling that I would be involved or that they would want me involved. I just wanted to see that production so it got mentioned many times over the years and one summer I designed a poster Paragon Park the Musical coming summer of whatever year it was. It was a long time ago.
One day Zoe decided years after the poster even to start doing some research. She said, ‘Why don’t you come with me? We’ll get lunch.’ We went to the Hull Library which was incredible. They put us in a private room and provided us with access to microfiche, boxes of memorabilia, and photographs. They were so generous. It just snowballed from there. We just couldn’t stop. We were researching and loved what we found. It did not end up being the musical we thought we were going to write because the ideas we had in mind turned out to be completely not true. It all got shifted.
We thought maybe there was this seedy underbelly to the park and that once the park was closed, things happened at night. It was going to be dark and mysterious and then we find out from the park owners that ‘Oh no, we locked that place, sealed it like a drum at 11 pm, and went out for Chinese food.’ Nothing happened at the Park after hours. So much for that, but the Stone Family provided us with so much information that we were able to write a really interesting and factual musical. It was 80% true except for the love story we incorporated.
SC: Not only did you write it the first time around, but when it came back around, you got to star in it too.
MH: I did and it was a thrill! The nicest feeling about that show and being in it is to be putting on a costume and as I’m by myself getting dressed, I would hear people walk down the hallway singing the songs or they would say that they get to do that scene they love now. There was so much positivity and to realize we wrote a show that was really fun to perform. Some of the kids were in Ragtime and we used to make these funny backstage videos. So I said, ‘Why don’t we make videos during Paragon Park?’ They said, ‘Michael, you and Zoe wrote a show where there is no time to make videos. When would we do that?’ It was nice to know we had a hand in creating this really fun experience. It was quite thrilling to be able to perform something that I helped write.
SC: Please tell me about the projects you are working on now and upcoming projects.
MH: I’m devoting all my time to Company Theatre and Zoe and I thought, ‘Why not write another musical?’ It’s a completely different project from Paragon Park and we can’t quite announce yet what it is, but Zoe is incredibly inspired by this project.
Watching her, it’s almost like she is channeling something like I’ve never seen. She’s a beautiful artist and I’m obsessed with the way she draws and paints. So she just took out a magic marker and a gigantic pad of paper and drew what she saw in her head for the plot of this show and it was quite impressive to watch. Her ideas are flowing through her. It is unbelievable so we’re hoping that will probably be the summer of 2023.
Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts, is presenting Fun Home in October as well as devoting a night to their late co-founder, Jordie Saucerman, in November. Click here for more information and check back to find out about Company Theatre’s mystery original production.
“It looks like a snapshot in time waiting for life again,” reflects Cohasset Dramatic Club President Lisa Pratt, as we spoke about what the future holds for live theatre and their highly-anticipated production of The Music Man. The show was supposed to take the stage in March on the weekend Covid-19 shut everything down.
Sleepless Critic spoke to Pratt about live theatre, the history of Cohasset Dramatic Club, and how art makes a new start. Cohasset Dramatic Club is hoping to present The Music Man in September 2020 to kick off its 100th season, but what it will look like still remains to be seen.
Photo courtesy of Cohasset Dramatic Club
Sleepless Critic: I understand you are hoping The Music Man will arrive this fall.
Lisa Pratt: I guess I’m hopeful but realistic. From a parent’s standpoint, I only want to do what’s best and give everyone an outlet for a beautiful and wholesome show. Literally every costume is perfectly intact and every dressing room is waiting for us to come back. It looks like a snapshot in time.
Of course, there’s the financial fallout. We spent all that money to put on a show, but didn’t sell a single ticket. Not that theatre is a money-making venture. We might lose more money producing the show than not, but the art is so important to put back on its feet again that we’ll do whatever we have to do to make it happen.
It’s ironically Cohasset Dramatic Club’s 100th season this September and we had a bunch of plays in the talking stages. We are scheduled to do Our Town because Our Town author Thornton Wilder portrayed the Stage Manager when it was first being produced in summer stock on our stage which was what Cohasset Town Hall’s Theatre space was before The South Shore Music Circus became their second venue. It was necessary to have more space, so a family named Cook who owned that flat land in Cohasset, donated the land to let the people put up a tent for shows in 1950. The summer stock circuit started in the 40s. It was in and out of the Cohasset Town Hall for 10 years.
Our Town, a relatively simple show to produce, has a fairly large cast. The town election takes place in that space. It works for them and I think it is convenient to have the town officers have their own auditorium attached to them. So, we would bypass a September 1 election and have Our Town before the November 3 election. The final show and the end of our 2021 season would be in March 2021.
Sleepless Critic: I was watching the 1962 film The Music Man a few weeks ago. At one point in the movie, Robert Preston as Harold Hill was told not to go in that house and he replied, “Why? Is it in Quarantine?”
Lisa: Shut the front door! Are you kidding me? That is so funny. We want The Music Man be a live event at this point. It all depends if Covid-19 follows the right path to keep all of us safely sharing space and moving forward. As much as I want it all to happen, I would be devastated if anything came from it and someone got sick. What will it look like?
Sleepless Critic: Theatre has transformed a bit as we’ve been going through what Lin- Manuel Miranda deemed “an intermission.” Some theatres have just stopped and some have turned to other avenues.
Lisa: I feel we have stayed in touch with people who have wanted to study scene work, choreography, dance, and vocal work. In the spring, we created a program called, Live from the Living Room, a free virtual production with option to donate to Cohasset Dramatic Club and people did. We did a special theatrical makeup piece created by Lancôme’sCara Lee Chamberlain. We have a great friend who is a professional dancer and choreographer for The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon in New York. She also choreographed a large theatrical production of Matilda which took place at the Union Theatre in Minneapolis, one of the biggest regional theatres in the country. She taught a choreography class and we had lots of young families virtually tune in. We did that for about six weeks and then took a break to settle in a bit.
Photo courtesy of Cohasset Dramatic Club
This would have been our 15th consecutive year of offering that summer theater education and performance program for kids ages 8-21. One of the shows we got the rights to produce this summer is Les Miserables with age ranges from 14 to 21 years old. We are excited we are not losing the rights and doing it next year.
‘Les Miserables’ delayed to 2021 Photo courtesy of Cohasset Dramatic Club
Cohasset Dramatic Club has been at the same place for 100 years and thankfully, I haven’t been at the helm of it that long which I think is unique. So many theatres I respect are having a hard time and I am saddened every time a theatre is selling off stuff because they can’t keep it alive anymore or however it works at a professional, regional, or local level. No one goes into this with the amount of time it takes to spend to do any less than the best they can with the resources they have. For that, I am always buoyant when I see theatres at any level doing great things.
Whether we present our work virtually, in person, or on the town green with people sitting further apart from one another, the arts community is committed and alive and it’s so important for so many people to keep it that way.
I’m so proud of this organization that has been through good times and bad whether living on a shoestring budget or having the money to pay for rights for shows before they get to deadline. We’re part of a community that I think we’ll survive. If there is ever a person looking for a rocking chair and we have one, I’ll be the first one to say that you can come get it or I can meet you somewhere. That’s the camaraderie of our combined love of art.
We can do this. Theatre can do it. It has survived through everything.
Click here for more on Cohasset Dramatic Club and its upcoming events.
She’s just a girl in love with love. Swipe right for the Tony award-winning, romantic musical dramedy instilled with a dose of cynicism, Sweet Charity. Unforeseen high jinks and adventures find Charity as she makes her way through what can be a harsh reality. Before Julia Roberts stepped onto the L.A. streets in the popular film, Pretty Woman, Charity wondered Central Park. Both have a heart of gold.
Emilee Leahy as Charity Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre
Sweet Charity is one of those rare opportunities to witness a collaboration featuring theatrical icons playwright Neil Simon and director and choreographer Bob Fosse. Oh yes, and Fosse’s then wife, muse, and dance dynamo Gwen Verdon starred in the musical’s stage debut in the 60s.
Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s influence is still as lively as ever as FX continues Fosse/Verdon, a biographical miniseries starring Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. Coincidentally, Fosse/Verdon also covers in part the making of Sweet Charity. Fosse Fever has certainly been evident on the South Shore of Massachusetts as two adaptations of Chicago recently took the stage in close succession.
Perhaps it’s the Neil Simon influence, but Sweet Charity seems to tread on the lighter side of Fosse’s popular works. It has its edgy moments and not for everyone, but Sweet Charity depends much more on humor than darkness. Though Pretty Woman might be a beloved, yet formulaic tale, Sweet Charity is less predictable and not a by-the-numbers romantic comedy. The costumes, by Kathryn Ridder and company, are fitted and flashy and the dialogue is snappy and at times, charming. At one point, Emilee Leahy as Charity sings, “You’re so strong, you have muscles you don’t need.”
After portraying resourceful criminal Velma Kelly in Massasoit Theatre Company’s production of Chicago, Emilee Leahy delivers a breezier performance as coy yet sweet, aware and yet sometimes naïve, hopeful and pensive Charity Hope Valentine. Charity can be a poor judge of character, but Leahy’s Charity proves to be worth rooting for. She has a pliable vocal range and is certainly light on her feet as she slips into a spontaneous tap routine featuring the famous number, If They Could See Me Now, decked out with a signature Fosse top hat and cane.
Speaking of dance, Sweet Charity offers an array of Fosse-inspired dance sequences, tinged with retro flair. Choreographer Samantha-Brior Jones, Music Director Sandee Brayton, and Dance Captain Mary Donahue turn up the heat with sharp and distinctive choreography as the Fan-dango Ballroom dancers perform a fierce, steamy, and hip shaking Hey Big Spender. The sweeping, sophisticated, 60s-inspired Rich Man’s Frug featuring Pompeii Club dancers in all-black has a classic vibe to it while Rhythm of Life is an outrageous, seemingly spiritual journey.
Kristen Annese as Nickie and Pompeii Club dancers Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre
The characters that Charity encounter seem a bit melodramatic, showing it doesn’t take itself too seriously. With great New York accents, Kristen Annese as Nickie and Lindsay Warwick as Helene are a plucky, street smart comedy duo. Their rendition of Baby Dream Your Dream has a lot of reassuring sass and they share playful, if at times mildly-snarky camaraderie with Charity.
Leah Shiels as Ursula and Rob Buckel-Gillis as Vittorio make an exotic celebrity pair, decked out in shimmering attire. Buckel-Gillis delivers a beautiful rendition of Too Many Tomorrows. Tony Light is comical as Oscar, a panicked claustrophobic. Shirtless and in suspenders, Rylan Vachon delivers a wildly energetic, off-the-wall performance as zany preacher Daddy Brubeck. Mike Warner as Herman also delivers some laughs, but keep an eye on his T-shirts. Trust me.
Hingham Civic Music Theatre offers two remaining performances of Sweet Charity on Saturday, May 4 and a Sunday matinee on May 5 at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets. Tickets are also available at the door. Be sure to follow Hingham Civic Music Theatre on Facebook and click here to learn how to support HCMT’s upcoming productions.
With the recent premiere of the highly-anticipated FX biographical miniseries, Fosse/Verdonabout the sizzling creative and romantic partnership between legendary filmmaker and choreographer Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and spectacular Broadway dancer Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams), it seems Fosse and Verdon’s influence is still everywhere. So, it is not surprising that South Shore Theatre Works (SSTW) is taking on what SSTW’s Executive Director and President Richard Bento called, “a dream production of mine to direct,” Chicago the Musical continuing through Saturday, April 20 at Abigail Adams Middle School in Weymouth, MA. This show is not for young audiences. Click here for more information and tickets.
One of Fosse’s most popular creations was a dark satire dealing with corruption and murder during the Jazz age called Chicago the Musical. This Tony award-winning production continues to thrill audiences as one of the longest running Broadway musicals and its most recent 2002 film adaptation was the 2002 Academy award-winning film starring Renee Zellwegger (Roxie), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma) and Richard Gere (Billy Flynn) garnered a few Academy Awards.
The cast of ‘Chicago the Musical’ Photo by Annabella Valle/South Shore Theatre Works
How has Chicago the Musical earned its longevity? The proof is in its clever, satirical storytelling that isn’t afraid to occasionally shock, its sizzling choreography, memorable characters, catchy music, and its frank, timeless message about humanity. With an impressive, semi-interactive fifteen-piece orchestra led by conductor Doug Gerber that elevates the action onstage plus additional songs not featured in its most recent film adaptation, this darkly humorous production is off to a good start.
With a modest set featuring vintage theatre lights that illuminate the stage, director Richard Bento keeps this production in classic Fosse form dressing his dancers in black. The close-knit, tight choreography by co-choreographers Richard Bento and Amy Valle Wallace includes some dance crazes of the Jazz Age that make for some visual sizzle. Though the classic number Cell Block Tango needs a bit more snarl, clever Razzle Dazzle boasts some sleek staging.
Headlining this colorful cast is Stephanie Wallace as desperate, hot tempered and fast-living Roxie Hart. With a great scowl and energetically navigating Roxie’s myriad of emotions, it is easy to see how Wallace relishes this character. She is never better than during her natural and engaging signature song, Roxie Hart.
Jaclyn Cleary lends a mix of sharp sophistication and mayhem to Velma Kelly, a former dancer turned criminal. Her wild, light eyes reveal a smugness and unsteadiness that will keep you guessing her next move. Having seen Chicago the Musical quite a few times, I admire Jaclyn Cleary’s sleek vocals and not so by-the-numbers rendition of All That Jazz. She and Matron Mama Morton, portrayed charismatically by Hanna Ford, have great chemistry. They are two sides of the same coin in their rendition of Class.
Staring down her glasses with an ironically sophisticated air is Hannah Ford as Matron Mama Morton. With a belt that certainly packs a punch, her rendition of When You’re Good to Mama clearly shows she knows how to pull some strings and depicts Mama in a different and refreshing way.
Wielding a cane, Aaron Stolicker masterfully navigates the cast and the audience as suave, shrewd, and debonair Billy Flynn, sharply dressed in a black tuxedo. He’s full on smirking charm in the number, All I Care About is Love and quite the storyteller in his rendition of They Both Reached for the Gun, a complex, energetic number with strong choreography. J. Merlo adds some humor and some serious pipes as journalist Mary Sunshine.
South Shore Theatre Works continues Chicago the Musical through Saturday, April 20 at Abigail Adams Middle School, 89 Middle Street in Weymouth, MA. Click here fore more information, tickets, and how to support South Shore Theatre Works, an organization that recently celebrated its third anniversary. Click here for more information about South Shore Theatre Works and its Executive Director and President, Richard Bento.
David Bowie, Prince, and the Rolling Stones are just a few of the innovative artists that made a profound impact on rock and roll. Paying tribute to some of the biggest rock and roll talent through ballet, Tony Williams Ballet Company presents rock ballad, Life: In Color, which explores memorable music over the past 60 years on Thursday, May 25 and Thursday, May 26. Performances will be held at the Oberon Theatre, conveniently located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets.
Tony Williams, acclaimed choreographer and creator of the Tony Williams Ballet Company, talks about his love for dance, nearly meeting David Bowie, and how Life: In Color was born.
Tony Williams Photo courtesy of the Tony Williams Dance Center
Sleeplesscritic: You are behind the annual Urban Nutcracker, now in its 17th year. What do you think it is about the Urban Nutcracker that has appealed to audiences for so long?
Tony Williams: It’s a show about Boston for an audience that wants to see themselves represented onstage. Our mission is diversity through dance, and there aren’t many shows where an 8 year-old African-American boy can see himself reflected onstage amongst a cast that truly reflects Boston’s multi-cultural community. While it’s a take on the modern tale of the Nutcracker, it has heart, soul, and a more modern driving force. We add something new each year. Whether it’s our LGBT celebration show, a sensory-friendly show for those with autism, or even a selfie stick for our onstage party photo, there is always something fun and unique. This year we have exciting plans and I can’t wait to share the growth of our Urban Nutcracker show, but we have to keep some elements of surprise.
SC: What inspired you to become a dancer? Was there a particular moment where you realized that dance is what you were meant for?
TW: I was a real jock playing baseball and doing gymnastics. I never thought about dancing until I was 16 and was always fascinated with classical music. One day I saw a ballet performance at the gym where I worked out and was totally mesmerized by the purple color in the costumes. Around the same time at the gym, some of the gymnasts said how Russian gymnasts took ballet to improve their skill. I went with one of the gymnasts to the Boston Ballet School and watched him in class. I soon took a class and was hooked, but I stopped after one class because someone said ballet is not for boys. Then, by good fortune, I bumped into one of the dancers that had performed at the gym. I mentioned I saw him dance and tried to become a dancer, but stopped. He encouraged me to continue and here I am more than 50 years later.
SC: Please tell me about the Tony Williams Dance Center and the Tony Williams Ballet and why you decided to start a dance school.
TW: I started the Tony Williams Dance Center in 2000. I had been freelancing as a ballet teacher and was traveling all around New England. In order to cut down on travel, I decided to settle down in Boston neighborhood and my hometown, Jamaica Plain. Things got off to a good start and now the Tony Williams Dance Center is in its 17th year. My first professional ballet company actually dates back to 1985 when I co-founded Ballet Theatre of Boston with Jose Mateo. From there, I founded the American Concert Ballet (ACB) in 1991. ACB morphed into BalletRox in 1996. I finally founded my professional dance company, the Tony Williams Ballet, in 2014.
SC: I was struck by the innovative concept of Tony Williams Ballet’s Life: In Color. The show infuses 60s rock and jazz into contemporary dance. Some influences include David Bowie, Prince, and the Rolling Stones. You’ve said that you felt with the recent deaths of a few of these music legends, now is the time to pay tribute to them. How did this performance come about from there?
TW: I was buying a coffee at the City Feed ‘hippie store’ near my studio when I heard Lady Jane by the Rolling Stones. I hadn’t heard it in quite some time and it brought me back to 60s. I loved that song and was inspired to choreograph to it.
One time, while on a tour with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, we were staying at a hotel in Norfolk, VA. After we performed one evening, some of my fellow dancers and I had a drink in the hotel lounge. Afterwards, I went up to my room to go to sleep. The next morning, one of the dancers excitedly told me David Bowie entered the hotel lounge with his band after I went to bed. He was very friendly and drank with my fellow dancers. Yikes, I really missed out on meeting Bowie!
SC: What do you think makes this upcoming performance particularly unique?
TW: These performances will be our first in a 3 – D setting at the Oberon Theatre. It is a night club setting with patrons sitting at tables around an open dance floor with a stage. The dancers perform on the dance floor, stage, bar, the catwalk, and in and amongst the seated patrons!
SC: What makes you particularly excited about Life: in Color? You’ve said this performance is particularly meaningful, an emotional journey.
TW: The 60s was such an incredible decade. I lived through the Vietnam War as well as the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and Robert Kennedy. I lived in New York City and was swept up in that ‘Flower Power & Love’ decade that arose as a counter balance to so much tragedy. Creating Life: in Color allows me to reflect nostalgically on those times by using certain rock songs that I love from the 60s and 70s. Witty and entertaining, the show is anchored around the fabulous poetry of Ken Nordine’s 1966 poetry album called Colors. The playful poems are accompanied with beautiful jazz music. The poetry spans the myriad personality traits of human beings.
Stoneham native, choreographer, and dancer Janelle Gilchrist
Maya Holden Photo courtesy of Meghan Gaucher
Venezuelan dancer Gianni Di Marco Photo courtesy of Tony Williams Dance Center
Tony Williams Dance Center Ballet presents ‘Life: In Color’ on May 25 and 26 Photo courtesy of Tony Williams Ballet
TW: I have been working with these talented artists for a number of years and had planned to choreograph Life: in Color myself, but realized that I did not have sufficient time to create the 30 plus mini- dances in the performance. So I allotted approximately six dances to each choreographer. Our costume designer, Dustin Rennells, assisted me with fleshing out a scenario based on my ideas and has created wild and colorful costumes.
SC: What do you think is the best reason people should attend Life: in Color?
TW: It will be lots of fun! You’ll appreciate the fabulous dancers and the wide variety of types and styles of dance, from classical ballet en pointe to circus art, hip hop, and campy jazz. We aim to entertain with an original artistic approach that will appeal to everyone, not just balletomanes.
Tony Williams Ballet Company presents rock ballad Life: In Color Thursday, May 25 and Friday, May 26 at the Oberon Theatre, 2 Arrow Street, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets and further information.
From the first few angelic notes from one of Oklahoma’s most popular songs, Oh What a Beautiful Morning sung a capella by Jack Cappadona as charismatic Curly, it is easy to see that Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s (HCMT) spring musical is something special. Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s Oklahoma! combines elegant costuming, an impressive, distinctive cast, and an interactive set that makes the audience settle into its own home on the range. With its wealth of historical references weaved into Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic soundtrack capturing the spirit of the time, it is no wonder that Oklahoma! won the Pulitzer Prize for musical composition in 1944 and remains relevant today. Hingham Civic Music Theatre delivers the show’s joyous zest for life, comedy, and, make no mistake, dark moments with zing and suspense.
Michael Andre as Ali Hakim and the cast of ‘Oklahoma’ Photo courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
Directed by Nathan Fogg and musically directed by Sandee Brayton with choreography by Tara Morrison, Hingham Civic Music Theatre offers two remaining performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, Oklahoma! on Saturday, April 29 and a Sunday matinee on April 30 at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets. Tickets are also available at the door.
Based on Lynn Riggs’ play, Green Grow the Lilacs, an interactive, colorful, and rustic set rewinds the clock to the Oklahoma Indian Territory at the turn of the century, equipped with softly flickering lanterns, vintage photos, bales of hay, colorful blossoms, lush greenery, and interactive props hanging on the walls. In this particular production, the lighting is its own character, effectively setting the mood from a soft, rising sun to a nightmarish hue.
The splendid costumes, by Kathryn Ridder, are meticulously-detailed from gold embroidered shirts, brightly-colored satin costumes to delicate, richly-designed dresses with thick bows and petticoats. Whether it is a cow scarf adorning an outfit or a carefully matched wicker hat, those details wonderfully capture the authenticity of the time.
Ruggedly dressed in suede chaps over khaki pants with a button down shirt and cowboy boots, Jack Cappadona portrays Curly McLain with an imaginative streak and a confident and at times, a mischievous smile. Whether engaging C.J. Hawes as Laurey in a whimsical carriage ride during the playful song, TheSurrey with the Fringe on the Top or musing about life in Oh What a Beautiful Morning, with silvery vocals, Jack slides right into the role as Curly with a natural charm. With curly red hair and green striped overalls, C.J. Hawes portrays sassy, levelheaded Laurey with great comedic timing and sardonic wit. Jack as Curly and C.J. as Laurey are enchanting together and their soaring vocals make beautiful harmony.
Jack Cappadona as Curly and C.J. Hawes as Laurey Photo courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
With thick curly hair, bright eyes, and a deep drawl, Rylan Vachon portrays Will as fun loving, somewhat hotheaded, and spontaneous. Will’s rendition of the song, Kansas City, has never been more fun with lively vocals and slick choreography as The Territory Boys stomp, slide, and perform various stunts. The entire cast captures the distinct spirit of Oklahoma! in all its stomping, sweeping joy.
Rylan Vachon as Will Parker and Jess Phaneuf as Ado Annie Photo courtesy of HCMT
Jess Phaneuf as Ado Annie brings a wild-eyed vivaciousness to the role. She seems to know how to take command of any room she is in one way or another with a wink and a grin. Her interaction with any cast member is fascinating and her comic timing is infallible. Her chemistry with both Will and Michael Andre as bewildered peddler Ali Hakim, have their own distinct charm. Michael Andre as Ali Hakim does a great job of balancing a dynamic character with comedy and cleverness.
Jess Phaneuf as Ado Annie and Michael Andree as Ali Hakim Photo courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
Athan Mantalos portrays disheveled, hired hand Jud with a slow burn and deep, compelling, operatic- sounding baritone. Athan masters this role in the quiet moments, adding tension and making his character that much more mysterious. His scenes with Curly are especially powerful and their vocals have seamless harmony.
Athan Matalos as Jud Fry and Jack Cappadona as Curly Photo Courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
With spectacles and a high collared dress, Kate Fitzpatrick brings sensibility and a bit of sarcasm to the role of Aunt Eller, who is much wiser than she lets on. Emily Gouillart as Gertie Cummings is a great deal of awkward fun with an unmistakable laugh.
Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s Oklahoma! offers its share of romance, comedy, and plenty of uproarious moments, but dark moments as well. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote their second musical, Carousel, shortly after Oklahoma’s success and both shows share some of the same themes. Hingham Civic Music Theatre delicately weaves in the themes of loneliness, temptation, and violence effectively, balancing this timeless tale.
Hingham Civic Music Theatre offers two remaining performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, Oklahoma! on Saturday, April 29 and a Sunday matinee on April 30 at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets. Tickets are also available at the door. Be sure to follow Hingham Civic Music Theatre on Facebook and click here to learn how to support HCMT’s upcoming productions.
While the award-winning Company Theatre continues their sold-out run of Academy of the Company Theatre’s (A.C.T.) musical production of Disney’s The Lion King, Jr. through Sunday, April 30, another Disney production will soon be in the works. The Company Theatre is going under the sea for the adult version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, with auditions will soon be held on Wednesday, May 3 and callbacks on Thursday, May 4. Both dates take place at Company Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts at 6:30 p.m. Click here for further information.
Company Theatre presents Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ this summer. Courtesy of the Company Theatre
Based on the beloved Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name, The Little Mermaid follows the adventures of Ariel, the mermaid daughter of the mighty king of the sea, King Triton. Accompanied by a crab named Sebastian and a cute little fish named Flounder, Ariel gets a glimpse of a world above the sea and longs to take on that great adventure with unforeseen consequences. Under the Sea, Kiss the Girl, and Part of Your World are just a few of the unforgettable songs composed by Alan Menken from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, a heartwarming story for the entire family.
Directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, choreography by Sally Forrest, and musical direction by Steve Bass, all roles are open for casting and will take place at the Company Theatre Center for the Arts, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. Audition candidates should be strong singers and be prepared to sing a song from the show in the show’s key or a song in a similar musical style. A headshot or snapshot and a resume is preferred at the audition, but not required. Audition candidates may bring their own sheet music, but the music score will be available with accompaniment. Please dress appropriately to learn and practice a dance combination.
If unable to attend auditions and are located out of state, the Company Theatre is also accepting video submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions must be sent by Tuesday, May 2.
Performances for Disney’s The Little Mermaid will be held from Friday, July 28 through Sunday, July 30 and continuing Wednesdays through Sundays through Sunday, August 20. Click here for tickets and for further information about the auditions, email email@example.com, or call 1-781-871-2787. Family and Friends Friday offers limited amount of discounted tickets for four or more. Click here for more information about the Company Theatre’s fabulous 2017 season and follow them on Facebook.
World-renowned choreographer William Forsythe, dressed in a baseball cap and modest attire, addressed an eager, mesmerized audience in a post-show talk with Boston Ballet’s acclaimed Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen after the evening performance of William Forsythe’s Artifact on Saturday, March 25. Mikko Nissinen introduced Forsythe with enthusiasm and said that working with him has been a lifelong dream fulfilled. William Forsythe and Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen have a five-year partnership, working together to establish each season’s performances, highlighting one of Forsythe’s exceptional works each year.
The Boston Ballet Photo courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor/Boston Ballet
Friendly and unassuming, Forsythe spoke about his beautifully-unconventional production, Artifact, a piece he created over 30 years ago and a work that audiences and critics alike have embraced ever since. Veiled on the Boston Opera House stage and enhanced with minimal props, lies a complex, timeless, and thought-provoking masterpiece which makes a powerful statement on the essence of the art of ballet. Shown in its full length, Forsythe revised Artifact’s finale specifically for the Boston Ballet, which is a thrilling, compelling spectacle that blends classical and contemporary dance in a unique way.
Boston Ballet presents ‘Artifact’ Photo courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor/Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet presents William Forsythe’s Artifact through Sunday, March 5 at the Boston Opera House. Click here for tickets, call 617-695-6955, or visit the Boston Ballet box office at 19 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Take a closer look at William Forsythe’s Artifacthere.
Blending humor, philosophy, drama, and a wide range of traditional and contemporary ballet, William Forsythe’s Artifact, since the show was introduced, set a significant precedent in the inspiring works that followed. A production packed with a wide range of welcome surprises, each distinct character offers their own insight into this mysterious tale. Featuring a shimmering backdrop that matched the majestic, glittering black gown worn by Dana Caspersen, a statuesque woman in grey portrayed by Caralin Curcio, and a dapper, yet frustrated older man with megaphone portrayed by Nicholas Champion, Artifact is an intensely fascinating work from its start.
Raina Sawai as Woman in Gray and Nicholas Champion as Man with Megaphone
Caspersen’s performance is full of jubilance and inquisitiveness from the moment she welcomed the audience with a peerless smile. Curcio delivers a haunting, athletic, and captivating non-verbal performance, her movements sharp, poised, and vigorous while she appears in unexpected places. Dignified and authoritative, Champion’s dynamic performance boasts comedic moments, especially in his interaction with Caspersen. While Champion’s musings are incomprehensible and muffled, Caspersen’s seem philosophical and poetic.
Artifact, divided into four parts like a symphony, features piano by Margot Kazimirska and delves into a full range of emotions as the piano seems to have a mind of its own, often breaking convention. The music, featuring J.S. Boch: Chaconne from Partita Nr. 2 BWV 1004 in D-Minor by Nathan Milstein, Sound Collage by William Forsythe, and music from composer and pianist Eva Crossman-Hecht, progresses from playful to somber then frantic to rhythmic.
Sao Hye Han and Paul Craig in William Forsythe’s ‘Artifact’ Photo courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor
Dressed in rich, vibrant color and launching into choreography ranging from romantic and sweeping to freestyle to stiff and regimented, the Boston Ballet often break convention under the direction of Curcio. A few of the highlights are ballet dancers breaking away into romantic, sweeping duets as they spin, sway, and soar. With a verbal countdown, they perform intrinsic dance combinations such as a row of dancers drop to the floor in unison, embracing. Another thrilling highlight is the ballet directs the curtain to lift and close, creating snapshots of various, choreographed scenes. As Artifact culminates into an unpredictable, uplifting, and magnificent finale, unified dancers are as mesmerizing as the dancers breaking away into frantic, dynamic arrangements, performing pirouettes to a wild rhythm, blossoming into a new entity.
Seo Hye Han and the Boston Ballet in ‘Artifact’ Photo courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor/Boston Ballet
Click here for tickets, call 617-695-6955, or visit the Boston Ballet box office at 19 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Subscriptions and group rates are also available. Follow the Boston Ballet on Twitter.
The Boston Ballet’s 2017-18 season boasts masterful works such as Kylian/Wings of Wax from March 23 through April 2, Robbins/The Concert from May 5 through May 27, Obsidian Tear from November 3 through November 12, and the return of Tchaikovsky’s beloved holiday classic, Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker from November 24 through December 31, 2017. Click here for a closer look at all of Boston Ballet’s 2017-18 season highlights.
On Thursday, February 23, the Boston Ballet begins another magnificent spring season and simultaneously launches a five-year partnership with brilliant dancer and world-renowned choreographer, William Forsythe. As part of Forsythe’s five-year partnership, William Forsythe and Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen work together to establish each season’s performances, highlighting one of Forsythe’s stunning works each year.
Choreographer William Forsythe and Misa Kuranaga in rehearsal for Artifact; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet
William Forsythe’s full length masterpiece, Artifact, a revelation in the art of dance and has thrilled audiences since its stage premiere in 1984. Artifact continues through Sunday, March 5 at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets, call 617-695-6955, or visit the Boston Ballet box office at 19 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Take a closer look at William Forsythe’s Artifact here.
The Boston Ballet boasts a monumental lineup for its 2017-18 season including timeless romantic classics such as Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty from April 28 to May 27, 2017 and John Cranko’s Romeo & Juliet from March 15 through April 8, 2018. This season is also filled with masterful works such as Kylian/Wings of Wax from March 23 through April 2, Robbins/The Concert from May 5 through May 27, Obsidian Tear from November 3 through November 12, and the return of Tchaikovsky’s beloved holiday classic, Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker from November 24 through December 31, 2017. Click here for a closer look at all of Boston Ballet’s 2017-18 season highlights.
Click here for tickets, call 617-695-6955, or visit the Boston Ballet box office at 19 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Subscriptions and group rates are also available. Follow the Boston Ballet on Twitter!