Sure, it’s escapism, but isn’t that what Pretty Woman is all about?
Based on the hit film adaptation starring breakout star Julia Roberts and then megastar Richard Gere, Pretty Woman put a fairy tale spin on a story about a clever prostitute who charms a rich guy. The film is produced by Disney no less and solidly directed by the esteemed Garry Marshall. With natural elegance, pitch perfect comic timing, and tangible chemistry with Gere who she went on to star with in other film projects due to their thriving and bankable chemistry, Julia Roberts instantly became America’s Sweetheart at just 21 years old.
A lot of big box office movies become musicals, so Pretty Woman was inevitable.
While the musical lacks Roberts and Gere’s tangible chemistry, Pretty Woman the Musical is still a fun adaptation with a few memorable musical numbers and includes the beloved and iconic moments that charged the 90s rom com classic. However, I do wish the show took its time a little more. The scenes and dialogue at times seem rushed, but with a show already two plus hours, that can be understandable. There is a great deal to cover from the music to the wealth of the film’s signature moments, but perhaps subtracting the more forgettable reprises might make up for the patches of rushed pacing.
From colorful street clothes to flowing, runway fashion to majestic gowns that include Vivian’s iconic red dress, costume designer Gregg Barnes exacts the splashy nature and 80s/90s vibe of this fantasy fairy tale. Fashion bursts onto the scene in the flashy number, Rodeo Drive oozing in the elegance of many shoppers’ fondest dreams and can’t help but notice Jessica Crouch as Kit’s amazing and glittery red and gold heels.
One performer who does more of the heavy lifting in this version is Kyle Taylor Parker as Happy Man. He not only carries his excellent and fun-loving charisma to the neon glow of Hollywood Boulevard for What’s Your Dream, a catchy opening number with a tropic tinge, but keep an eye out for Parker to pop up unexpectedly and delightedly in various sequences throughout the production boasting sharp comic wit and dynamic spontaneity.
Olivia Valli, the granddaughter of Frankie Valli, has a lot to live up to and does not do a Julia Roberts impression even through those signature red curls, but she makes the part her own as a goofier free spirit and an even faster-talking Vivian than in Roberts’s memorable performance. Julia Roberts had more of an established elegance in her role, even when she is trying to look tough. Valli has her own unique and bubbly comic timing. She performs a charming rendition of This is My Life, created from one of Vivian’s monologues to Edward. She also delivers a heightened and powerful solo for I Can’t Go Back.
Adam Pascal as quiet, powerful, and observant Edward lacks Richard Gere’s subtle charm though he sounds a lot like Gere. His character is developed further than in the film, especially during his insightful solo, Freedom which is a nice addition drawn from Edward’s monologue in the film to Vivian.
Jessica Crouch’s vocal gymnastics with a rock edge as Kit uplifted Luckiest Girl in the World alongside Olivia Valli as Vivian and in the bright and catchy number, Never Give Up on a Dream. Kit’s spitfire persona and shoot-from-the hip attitude is a heightened version of Laura San Giocomo’s benchmark performance, but here Kit is a more established character and given a larger arc than in the film. She and Olivia Valli have a warm camaraderie evident from Kit’s first scene.
Jason Alexander has said that his opportunity for George from Seinfeld came from Pretty Woman and it was a hard fought battle for him to play the role of Edward’s lawyer and friend, Phillip Stuckey. However, in this version, Brent Thiessen filling for Matthew Stocke, is more of what director Garry Marshall originally had in mind for Stuckey’s intimidating, slimy, and snarky persona (imagine if Bradley Cooper took this role) and Olivia Valli as Vivian’s updated interactions with him are a little different this time around and more welcoming.
Whether it’s the astounding vocals from Amma Osei as Violetta or the scene’s up close and personal delivery or even Pascal’s beautiful rendition of You and I, which has an unmistakable Bryan Adams influence, the iconic opera scene between Vivian and Edward stands out as is one of the best scenes in the musical.
Lexus Broadway in Boston’s Pretty Woman the Musical continues live and in person at the Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts through Sunday, January 30. Click here for more information and for tickets.
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.
One this is for sure, Boston Lyric Opera can achieve elegance anywhere.
Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) had two remarkable debuts for their virtual concert, A Winter’s Evening. Directed sublimely by Nathan Troop, Boston Lyric Opera’s ‘A Winter’s Evening’ not only made its virtual debut on Operabox, but soprano Gabriella Reyes also made her effervescent debut with the Boston Lyric Opera, an event which she calls “a dream come true.”
BLO’s ‘A Winter’s Evening’ continues streaming through Sunday, January 10. Click here for more information. Boston Lyric Health Task Force helped coordinate the virtual performance to meet safety standards.
Surrounded by the gorgeous grounds at Castle Hill at the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Miss Massachusetts 2020 Sabrina Victor, adorned in black fur over a glittering white gown, hosted this lovely evening with warmth and poise.
Boston Lyric Opera also weaved in elements of hearth and home blending classic opera and festive classic songs as Gabriella Reyes and Sabrina Victor shared personal remembrances of holidays past. The show is the height of elegance, not only in the couture, but inside the Crane Estate’s majestic ballroom embellished with candlelight and Christmas trees.
Impressively accompanied by pianist Brett Hodgdon, Reyes, adorned in a black gown, showcased her broad range with a dynamic selection of songs that included a serene, bi-lingual version of Silent Night/Nochede Paz, passionate Quando M’en Vo from Puccini’s La Boheme, stirring Nana by Manuel De Falla, a dreamy and heartfelt When You Wish Upon a Star with lyrics by Ned Washington and music by Leigh Harline, and the inspirational classic Harold Arlen song, Over the Rainbow featuring its rarely sung introduction. Reyes masters the operatic selections, her light and powerful vocals make it all look easy.
Guitarist Zaira Meneses accompanied Reyes for a portion of the evening with a selection of songs that are meaningful to both of them including Grever’s Alma Mia and Sandoval’s Gracias a la Vita. Meneses’s vibrancy and flair, putting her entire body into her music with Reyes’s eloquence made for a stirring pair.
BLO’s ‘A Winter’s Evening’ continues on Operabox through Sunday, January 10. Click here for more information and how to subscribe to Boston Lyric Opera’s current season.
The cast of Theatre@First’s ‘Hamlet’ Photo courtesy of Johanna Bobrow/Theatre@First
Directed purposefully by Elizabeth Hunter, Theatre@First continues Shakespeare’s Hamlet through Saturday, November 23 at Unity Somerville in Somerville, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets.
Not a bad seat in the house as the audience gathered in Unity Somerville’s church basement for Theatre@First’s Hamlet. The show is an immersive experience as the production expands beyond the stage and cast members can enter from anywhere in the venue.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is about a Prince of Denmark who discovers his mother has married his uncle after his father has been murdered. An urgent message inspires Hamlet to believe “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Theatre@First’s Hamlet is a stylish, compelling drama that boasts some iridescent and impressive special effects as a translucent figure paces from a mysterious location. It is not revealed which actor portrays that particular figure, but his moving and affecting presence is a highlight of the production.
Clowning…. Nathan Phillip Johnson as Laertes, Andrew Harrington as Polonius and Evelyne Cardella as Ophelia Photo courtesy of Johanna Bobrow/Theatre@First
The show also blends the contemporary with the historical through its more casual tone and costume choices while Shakespeare’s alluring text and action sequences remain the same. Carolyn Jones’s and Katie Caroll’s costume design nods to the late Middle Ages setting in Elsinore, Denmark while also boasting a contemporary flair. For example, Hatem Adell portrays Hamlet wearing stone washed jeans and a crown on his t-shirt while Gertrude, depicted by Ron Lacey, wears a gown more faithful to the historical time period. Makeup artists Meg Boeni, Mack Caroll, and their assistants did an extraordinary job transforming the cast into their respective roles.
Hamlet features a capable cast that occasionally engages the audience. The dialogue can be a bit rushed at times in its conversational tone which lessens the gravitas of Shakespeare’s eloquent text. Andrew Harrington is an unforgettable presence as Polonius. Wearing a beard and a bow tie, Harrington has natural comic timing with a distinctive voice and lighthearted demeanor. A bit of a scene stealer, he humorously engages the audience with his offhanded and frank observations while offering wisdom and insight to his children.
Evelyne Cardella as Ophelia and Hatem Adell as Hamlet Photo courtesy of Johanna Bobrow/Theatre@First
Evelyn Cardella glows as Ophelia with a wide smile, bright eyed virtue, and complete infatuation with Hamlet. Playful and charming, Cardella has a sweet chemistry with Nathan Phillip Johnson as her brother, Laertes and Andrew Harrington as their warm and wise father, Polonius. Cardella navigates the character with vulnerability and heartfelt poignancy as her emotions turn on a dime.
Nathan Phillip Johnson as Laertes and Myra Hope Eskridge as Claudius Photo courtesy of Johanna Bobrow/Theatre@First
Hatem Adell certainly has exacted the alarming rage expected of Hamlet in the face of betrayal. Adell delivers the famous “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy with finesse. He also excels at Hamlet’s darkly playful demeanor, especially in a powerful scene alone with Ophelia. Nathan Phillip Johnson also gives a memorable performance as valiant and forthright Laertes, infusing a natural charisma in each scene.
Myra Hope Eskridge as Claudius delivers a suave poker face, but lacks the devious nature expected of the character. Claudius is a calculating character and leaves little room for sympathy. A brief exchange with Laertes later in the production showed just a glimpse of Claudius’s true nature.
Hamlet is not complete without the appearance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, portrayed with fresh humor by Chantelle Marshall and Julia Kennedy respectively. They make a seeming pair of jolly, dimwitted bookends as Hamlet’s childhood friends, dressed identically and interchangeably. However, they are more than meets the eye.
Hatem Adell as Hamlet joined by Chantelle Marshall as Rosencrantz and Julia Kennedy as Guildenstern Photo courtesy of Johanna Bobrow/Theatre@First
Get thee to Theatre@First’s final performances of Hamlet through Saturday, November 23 at Unity Somerville, 6 William Street in Somerville, Massachusetts. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support Theatre@First.
Over the years as a critic, taking notes during the show has been a ritual and now pretty much a reflex these days. When Disney’s The Lion King musical amazed audiences over 20 years ago on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre, it was a larger than life spectacle that was as impressive to the eyes as it was to the heartstrings. Seeing it for the first time back then, it was probably one of the most glorious theatre experiences in memory.
One would think that as time passed, the technology and the sheer artistry of the show would become a bit dated. However, it hasn’t aged a bit unveiling richer interpretations of songs from the film such as I Just Can’t Wait to Be King and The Circle of Life and including additional songs such as Shadowland and They Live in You not included in the film. It is also the one show that was too enthralling to take notes.
Directed by Julie Taymor, Lexus Broadway in Boston presents Disney’s Tony award-winning musical, The Lion King through Sunday, October 27 at Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets and click here to see where the show is touring next.
The Lion King is based on Disney’s 1994 Academy award-winning film of the same name which is also an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is about a cub prince named Simba who must grow up fast after being exiled from his home by his scheming uncle. Bursting with color, comedy, jaw dropping special effects, a classic soundtrack by Elton John and Tim Rice with important lessons about growing up, it puts an entirely new spin and depth into in this extraordinary tale, giving this musical new dimension and heart.
With scenic design by Richard Hudson, lighting by Donald Holder, and Steve Canyon Kennedy on sound, it brilliantly navigates Citizens Bank Opera House’s space to stage some of the film’s vast landscapes which includes the breathtaking and encompassing opening sequence. The show manipulates movement and height with strategically placed moving props and the Julie Taymor and Michael Curry’s mask and puppet design representing members of the animal kingdom are visionary marvels.
The entire cast is as impressive as their visually stunning surroundings. Bursting with color, I Just Can’t Wait to be King is a celebration with zany, eye popping color and wild shapes combined with Walter Russell the III’s enthusiastic vocals as Young Simba. Buyi Zama is intense and hilarious as the wise Rafiki, her mesmerizing interactions with the cast unpredictable and endlessly amusing while delivering the emotional impact that the part entails. She stands out in the stirring number, Nao Tse Tsa and every scene at Rafiki’s Tree. Gerald Ramsey has a commanding, yet nurturing presence as Mufasa as he interacts with energetic and adorable Walter Russell III.
Adding a wealth of comic relief is Nick Cordileone as Timon, his compelling puppetry bringing the character to life in a new way. With Ben Lipitz as a wild haired Pumbaa whose expressions channel John Belushi, the two make a sidesplitting pair as they deliver the catchy classic, Hakuna Matata.Greg Jackson is impressive as he navigates Zazu’s jittery angst in a sprawling bird.
Lexus Broadway in Boston presents The Lion King musical through Sunday, October 27 at Citizens Bank Opera House, 539 Washington Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets and here to see where The Lion King will perform next on their national tour. This mesmerizing hit musical continues to reign on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City.
Lexus Broadway in Boston has an amazing lineup in store as they continue their 2019-2020 season which includes Disney’s Anastasia, Mean Girls, and their next musical, Come From Away. Click here for their entire lineup and follow them on Facebook for updates and much more.
Bursts of orange, green and yellows adorn a landscape of huge pumpkin patches on a chilly night. Vivid mums, harvest wreaths, festive decorations, and fall colors fill the night sky in a special, nightly fireworks celebration. No, this is not fall in New England, but the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, a hidden gem for all the flavors of fall from the end of August through November. Featuring Disney’s most infamous villains, enchanting characters, and seasonal activities for the entire family, attendees are encouraged to dress up in costume for trick or treating throughout the park. Click here for more information on Disney’s extensive activities.
Epcot’s annual International Food and Wine Festival Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
Key Lime Wine and a dish from Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival food and wine Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
Epcot’s Botanical Gardens Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
A topiary character gardens Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
Fall is also widely known for amazing food festivals around the country. Taking that idea and expanding it in Disney’s own unique way within Epcot’s famous World Showcase, Epcot is proud to offer their annual International Food and Wine Festival kicking off Thursday, August 29 through Saturday, November 23. While Epcot’s World Showcase features the rich cultures of 11 countries from Mexico to Tokyo, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival exponentially expands on this idea for a limited time, offering enticing cuisines and beverages from 30 marketplaces. Explore and dine on fare from the Caribbean Islands, Africa, Australia, Brazil, and more. Cooking demonstrations from famous culinary chefs, exclusive wine and beers from around the world, concerts, and cultural demonstrations take place throughout the park. From sweet and fruity Hurricane Class 5 wine and key lime flavored wines sold exclusively in Florida to international wines that suit any palette, attendees can try them first with wine tastings throughout the day.
This way to more of Epcot’s World Showcase Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
While the festival takes place, enjoy the classic and new attractions such as Norway’s popular ride, Frozen, Soarin,’ Test Track, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Mission Space. Canada and Mexico are among the most popular attractions featured within Epcot’s World Showcase. With the holidays and the summer months among Disney World’s peak times, attendees can see a bit more without a bigger crowd, though FastPass is always recommended for optimal time saving and planning.
At Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the sun shines a little brighter than most places around the world. Having thrilled families for almost 50 years, enjoy shopping, family activities, and spectacular attractions within each of the four parks. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom all offer exciting adventures throughout the year. Click here for more information about Walt Disney World, rates, exclusive offers and more. It’s never too early to start planning a trip to Disney World, no matter what time of year.
It has become a beloved Boston Pops tradition to exhibit the finest films in cinema history enhanced by the stellar sounds of the Boston Pops, an immersive film experience performed so eloquently, one may never watch the film quite the same way again. In the past few years, The Boston Pops has inventively breathed new life into film classics such as ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ‘Psycho,’ ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and ‘Nosferatu‘ through stunning live orchestration and Star Wars lives up to that sterling reputation.
The re-mastered, extended version of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert‘ with live orchestration by the Boston Pops was held at Symphony Hall earlier this spring and then recently in the Koussevitzky Music Shed at the Tanglewood in Lenox, MA on August 16. The ninth film and epic conclusion of the Star Wars series, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘ arrives in theatres in December and what better way to welcome the end than by remembering the beginning.
John Williams conducting Film Night at Tanglewood Photo credit to Hilary Scott
Academy award-winning composer John Williams has been the name on everyone’s lips at Tanglewood for the past couple of weeks with ‘Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert‘ on Friday, August 16 and then the ever-popular ‘Film Night’ on August 24, an annual tribute concert featuring just a few of the acclaimed film scores of John Williams. Not only did John Williams make an appearance at the end of the August 16th performance, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft was also in the audience. Click here for more information, tickets, and a look at Tanglewood’s full schedule.
Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops at Tanglewood Photo courtesy of Hilary Scott
Conducted by acclaimed Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, The Boston Pops launched an enthusiastic audience into that beloved galaxy with ‘Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope,’ the first film in what would become a beloved series of films in 1977. The rising swell of the perilous, suspenseful, triumphant, and Academy award-winning Star Wars Main Theme from John Williams was just the start of this exciting film that has been thought to be a touchstone to future films in that genre while also possessing some classic Shakespearean roots.
The intense score, each crisp note from the orchestra, the sound that thundered in the Koussevitzky Shed was nothing that can be relived in front of a television screen or in a movie theatre. It felt like being in the studio with the cast, enhancing their already outstanding performances, and scoring the film for the first time.
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo in ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ Photo credit to Disney/Lucasfilm
The lively audience was clearly composed of some of the most devoted Star Wars fans cheering not only the opening of the film, but each major character as they were first introduced onscreen. Familiar faces such as the twinkling eyes and swaggering charisma of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, Peter Mayhew’s towering presence as Chewbacca, Carrie Fisher’s holographic appearance as Princess Leia as she utters the classic line, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my Only Hope,” Alec Guinness as the wise and mysterious Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mark Hamill’s naïve Luke Skywalker, and James Earl Jones as the timeless voice of Darth Vader were all greeted with rousing applause.
Set on the planet with two suns, the subtle humor, the scheming, the epic adventure, George Lucas’s marvelous characters, the dazzling technology of its time, the bickering between R2-D2 and C-3PO and between Han Solo and Princess Leia are all recaptured in this unforgettable cinematic experience.
The Lawn at Tanglewood 2016 Photo credit to Hilary Scott
Located in the Berkshires at 297 West Street in Lenox, Massachusetts and now year-round, Tanglewood’s outdoor venue is a must see, whether under the tent at Koussevitzky Shed or under the stars for a lawn picnic. Click here for Tanglewood’s full schedule follow them on Facebook.
Building a dream always has its share of surprises and challenges. However, with determination, hard work, and more than a touch of luck, those sought after dreams can become a reality. Sleepless Beyond the Stage explores the reality of making that dream come true, whether by building an organization, finally bringing that dream production to life, or starting a group that makes a difference.
Richard Bento, Executive Director and President of South Shore Theatre Works (SSTW) checked in with Sleepless Critic a few years ago as the theater was just getting on its feet. Boasting a successful run of Seussicalin December, SSTW’s upcoming productions include Blithe Spirit, Ordinary Days, and Chicago. Richard Bento talks about how this Massachusetts theater has grown in a short time. Click here for more information, auditions, and for tickets.
Past performances of ‘Seussical the Musical’ December 2018
Sleepless Critic: Please tell me about your background and what inspired you to start South Shore Theatre Works?
Richard Bento: I’ve participated in community and semi-professional theater throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Georgia, and San Francisco. One of my goals was to have a group of my own who share the same mission and passion I had for the arts.
A few years ago, I decided to participate in theater here and assist another community theater group. I fell in love with the people. We shared the same passion. When we were at a crossroads needing to decide whether we were going to bring this other group to another level or start our own with other people who shared that same drive, I decided to put together South Shore Theatre Works.
South Shore Theatre Works presents ‘Blithe Spirit’ February 15-17 in Randolph, MA Photo courtesy of South Shore Theatre Works
JD: What would you say to those who are considering starting a community theater?
RB: I wish them a lot of luck and determination because starting a community theater is difficult. It is not an endeavor for everyone or for the weak-hearted. Like an actor who wants to perform professionally and make it on Broadway, 99% of that actor’s experience will be rejection. When you’re putting together a theater group, you will also face rejection, people who feel threatened, or don’t understand why you’re creating this new project. What’s important is to make sure the reason behind this endeavor comes from a place of love and passion.
JD: How do the particular shows this season fit into this year’s mission?
RB: The hardest thing is deciding where we want SSTW to be at the end of that year. Going into the third season, we chose shows that celebrated the talent we have at SSTW.
We kicked it off with the musical, Urinetown. Not very successful on Broadway, but the SSTW actors were passionate about the show and Urinetown shows off an actor’s strengths. Seussical was about bringing wholesome family fun back into community theater. We’ll continue the fun with our upcoming spring musical Chicago, which was a dream of mine to direct.
South Shore Theatre Works presents the hit musical ‘Chicago’ in April. Photo courtesy of South Shore Theatre Works
JD: You once said you hope South Shore Theatre Works would become “a home where we can perform all year round, where people can feel comfortable, and share their talents and passion for the craft with audiences from all over.” Is that plan being fulfilled and where do you see SSTW in the future?
RB: The word “home” can be defined in many ways. I think a home theatre company is a comfortable place where I’ll also be challenged and empowered to try new things. South Shore Theatre Works has accomplished that in three short years. We have new actors and actors who return show after show not just for their dream roles, but to be part of our family.
Of course we have a long way to go. We have to evolve with the times and change with what is happening around us. We have performance space in Holbrook and Randolph with rehearsals in Stoughton. By changing our accessibility off the highway, it is easier for people who are coming in from the city to perform with us.
Second Saturday Cabaret presents ‘Love is in the Air’ on Saturday, February 9 at Connection Cafe in Holbrook. Photo courtesy of South Shore Theatre Works
We do many projects as an all-year-round group and keep adding more shows that have purpose. We launched Second Saturday Cabarets the second Saturday of every month which includes five or six performers. They do their own set in front of a live audience like the Don’t Tell Mama venue and nightclub in New York City.
We’ve had success with the SSTW Youth Division. We decided last summer to do not just one youth production, but to divide it into ages 6-13 and a 13-19 division with Aristocats and Heathers. This year we’re even more excited to do the same with The Lion King, Jr. and Carrie the Musical. We’re asking these kids to take an active part in choosing the shows. We also took on a new challenge by doing a summer camp last year and we’re looking forward to continuing it this year.
We had wonderful opportunities to empower some of our actors from different shows to take on new roles. Urinetown actress Stephanie Wallace and I co-directed Seussical because she took an interest in directing. Urinetown actress Jaclyn Cleary choreographed a couple of numbers in Seussical because took an interest in choreography. We give people a well-rounded experience to be onstage in one show and offstage in another and still feel that same passion in those experiences.
Support us financially by being an audience member and an active South Shore Theatre Works member. Visit out website, sign up for our emails, keep in touch, and find that one project where you really want to help. Support the arts in any way possible and spread the word about South Shore Theatre Works.
Click here for a closer look on how to support South Shore Theatre Works. Call 774-386-8258 and follow them on Facebook for a closer look at their current season and more.
An unexpected hero, an insulted fairy, true love, and a terrible curse make up the enchanting and haunting fairy tale classic as Boston Ballet proudly presents The Sleeping Beauty. Unfolding with elegant and athletic choreography by Marius Pepita and Sir Frederick Ashton, The Sleeping Beauty has returned to Boston for a limited run by popular demand through Saturday, May 19 at the Boston Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets. Click here for a closer look at more of Boston Ballet’s upcoming performances.
A full house including a wealth of excited children gathered inside the Boston Opera House as Ming Luke conducted Tchaikovsky’s famous and dramatic music score, transporting the enthusiastic crowd into a world of royalty, betrayal, innocence, a few familiar fairy tale faces, and a dose of magic. Disney’s popular animated adaptation possesses a few similarities to this captivating tale, but Boston Ballet delivers more to the story. At the center of The Sleeping Beauty was raven-haired Lia Cirio as regal and elegant Princess Aurora, a triumph of athletic grace, her limber body mastering a few of ballet’s most difficult dance moves with impeccable balance, an arabesque garnering particular applause.
Lia Cirio and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
Based on Russia’s Imperial Ballet’s 1890 production, The Sleeping Beauty is a visual treat, boasting finely-detailed costumes and a multi-dimensional set design by David Walker. From ornate, lush and colorful backdrops in gold, red, and green to the enchanting Renaissance era costumes, each scene is a portrait to behold. Wearing wreathed tiaras and dressed in sparkling pink, green, yellow, and blue, the gracious fairies made up of Dawn Atkins, So Jung Lee, Maria Baranova, Maria Alvarez, and Emily Entingh floated, frolicked, and twirled, each displaying their own unique personalities. The energetic yellow fairy was a particular highlight, performing a sweet, joyful, and humorous dance.
Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
With a cruel, mocking laugh and appearing in a dark, glimmering carriage was Dalay Parrondo as treacherous Carabosse. Accompanied by a group of monstrous henchmen performed by Tyson Clark, Derek Drillon, August Generalli, and Christian Pforr, Dalay delivered an electrifying performance as an insulted fairy in a haunting display of sharp, rigid movements.
Kathleen Breen Combes and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
Tchaikovsky’s uplifting score hit a crescendo as Rachel Buriassi appeared as the Lilac Fairy. In this adaptation, she acted as a guide, her quick thinking and courage setting her apart. Her skillful performance was most evident among her lively, energetic lilac fairy attendants in a glorious display of fouettes, plies, and pirouettes. She was also impressive in a compelling scene with Lasha Khozashvilli as Prince Desire. Lia Cirio as Aurora and Lasha Khozashvili as Prince Desire had instant chemistry and perfectly complemented each other in a dream-like dance, swept up in love.
The Sleeping Beauty delivers many magnificent performances within this large cast, many taking on multiple roles. From a fascinating, thrilling duet from Maria Alvarez as Little Red Riding Hood and Alexander Maryianowski as the Wolf to a humorous, feline flirtation from Emily Entingh as The White Cat and Irlan Silva as Puss ‘N Boots, many beloved fairy tale characters took the stage in a joyous celebration.
With two intermissions, The Boston Ballet also offers an opportunity to learn more about ballet through The Warm Up, an interactive, photo friendly display located in the lower lobby. Boston Ballet presents The Sleeping Beauty through Saturday, May 19 at the Boston Opera House. Click here for more information and follow the Boston Ballet on Twitter and Facebook.
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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.
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.
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.
For Performing Arts news, interviews, reviews, and much more in Boston and beyond, follow us on Facebook @sleeplesscritic and subscribe.