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

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

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

HCMT Seussical cast

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

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

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

HCMT Seussical Jojo and the Whos

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

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

REVIEW: Immersive and insightful, Museum of Science’s ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’ cleverly reveals the woman behind the monster

The beauty of mythology is how outlandish a tale can be while still conveying a powerful, contemporary message.  ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth‘ with ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox?’ is an immersive, multimedia experience that weaves live music with a classic tale…and a twist.

For three Thursday nights during the summer with a final performance that took place on August 22, The Museum of Science in Boston’s Charles Hayden Planetarium presented a theatrical experience that conveyed messages of female empowerment, human nature’s capacity for cruelty and shallowness, and more through this classic mythological tale.  Click here for the full trailer.

It was part of an adult series (18+) which continues with ‘Subspace:  Redefining the Adult Experience’ throughout the fall.  This dynamic series includes Storytelling, Halloween Happening, the music of Stevie Nicks, a night with Isabella Rossellini, and much more.  The Museum of Science is located at 1 Science Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  Click here for the full schedule and ticket information.

Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth

Imagery of the legendary creature, Medusa Photo credit to ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’

‘Man plans and God laughs’ takes on a whole new meaning when breathtakingly beautiful Medusa plans to become a priestess to Athena.  However, what she thought was her path became a sordid journey.  Told in flashback in Crete 1100 B.C., ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’ offered humor, violence, and beauty weaved into an insightful, message-driven tale.

Packed with illustrations depicted more artistically than realistically by animators Ruth Lingford and Norah Solorzano, this panoramic experience combined with the Charles Hayden Planetarium’s supersonic sound creates a mesmerizing journey through the world of Ancient Greece.  Rich blue skies, the star-studded cosmos, and dark, raging oceans were just glimpses into this mesmerizing experience.

Medusa - mrfoxlineuplogo_orig

The band, ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox?’ Photo credit to ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox?’

As the tale unfolded, the haunting and emotive sounds of acoustic neo-soul group, ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox’ performed original songs that emphasized the madness, grief, tyranny, and danger within this tale.  With vivid lyrics such as, “We can do a lot more with this kind of rage,” “Trying to breathe while learning to drown,” and “You’re going to wind up dead if the devil gets in,” this dynamic group’s jazz-infused interludes between scenes not only enhanced what the characters were thinking, but the journey itself.  Front and center and bathed in blue light, a few of the most beautiful orchestrations included On Fire, Learning to Drown, The Witness, and Into the Black.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The men were depicted as arrogant and narcissistic and the conversations between the gods had their moments of humor, chemistry, gossip, and power talks.  However, what made the tale so intriguing was it offered a more rounded, sympathetic view of the legendary Medusa while sharing various interpretations of her through statues and illustrations.  ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’ means to shatter those preconceived notions of this mythological, snake-haired creature and bring her to a place of mercy and anguish, powerful but yielding, and facing issues that were not so different than they are today.  She was a myth, a monster, but still a woman.

Though this show has completed its run, ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’ may still have a future beyond its time at the Museum of Science.  Click here to learn more about ‘Medusa Reclaiming the Myth’ and here for more on the band, ‘What Time is It, Mr. Fox.’  The Museum of Science offers programs throughout the year and continues ‘Subspace Redefining the Adult Experience‘ through the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

Laurence Lesser shares music memories as New England Conservatory celebrates his 80th birthday and Leonard Bernstein’s centennial in free opening concert

‘You don’t choose music.  It chooses you.’  This is just one of renowned cellist and longtime New England Conservatory (NEC) President Emeritus Laurence Lesser’s thoughts on music as Lesser celebrates his 80th birthday in a big way with the New England Conservatory Philharmonic and acclaimed conductor Hugh Wolff on Wednesday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Taking place at NEC’s Jordan Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, this free concert also pays tribute to Boston native, legendary composer, and NEC Prep alumnus Leonard Bernstein’s centennial with Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and much more.  Click here for more information and how to reserve seats to this extraordinary concert.

NEC’s Laurence Lesser, who will be performing at the concert, discusses his history with music, the cello, career surprises, and recording Hollywood soundtracks from films such as Rosemary’s Baby.

Sleepless Critic:  I understand you were invited to perform with the New England Conservatory Philharmonic and conductor Hugh Wolff for your 80th birthday celebration.  Were you able to choose your own music?

Laurence Lesser:  I asked to do Ernest Bloch’s  Schelomo because it is a wonderful piece full of personal meaning for me.

SC:  What first interested you in music, especially the cello?

LL:  My parents took me to LA Phil Children’s concerts when I was about 5.  I wanted to play the double bass, but they thought that was too big for a little guy and gave me a cello for my 6th birthday.

SC:  I understand you play a 1622 Italian-made cello.  There must be an amazing story behind how you obtained it.

LL:  I was looking for a great old Italian cello with a true solo voice and bigger dimension than what I was using.  I saw it in a shop in London, England, but I was second in line for it.  Fortunately very soon afterwards in 1972, it came my way.

Leonard Lesser

Photo credit to Carlin Ma Photography

SC:  What was it that encouraged you to pursue music as a career?

LL:  My mother was a pianist.  My two older brothers and I had music lessons from an early age.  When I went to college at Harvard to study mathematics, I soon knew that mathematics was the wrong path for me and it had to be music.  You don’t choose music, it chooses you.

SC:  Music afforded you a great deal of opportunities, just a couple of them recording Hollywood soundtracks such as Rosemary’s Baby and Finian’s Rainbow and traveling the world.  What kind of surprise opportunities have you experienced in your career or a moment where you couldn’t believe this is happening to you?

LL:  I played in chamber music concerts with Jascha Heifetz and my teacher Gregor Piatigorsky and we performed at Carnegie Hall.  Such a wonderful place and an amazing memory to be on stage with those musical giants!

SC:  How did you end up working at the New England Conservatory?  I understand during your tenure as President, you were part of the restoration of Jordan Hall and you curated ‘First Mondays at Jordan Hall.’  Please tell me about that.

LL:  I was invited to teach there by then President, Gunther Schuller.  Jordan Hall is one of the greatest ‘rooms’ for music in the world.  It had become shabby.  When I was President, my team joined me in focusing on the restoration.  ‘First Monday’ concerts were the outgrowth of ad hoc faculty chamber concerts.  I decided to put some structure into it and it’s now beginning its 34th season!

SC:  Congratulations!  Jordan Hall is a majestic venue.  You’ve enjoyed a wonderful career in music from teaching to performing.  What kind of music do you like to listen to?

LL:  I can listen to anything that ‘speaks’ to me.  Any medium suits me and I don’t simply listen to pieces I have heard over and over again.

SC:  What music goals are you pursuing now?

LL:  I think it’s too late in my life to go on a completely new road, but I intend to keep pursuing excellence in what I am currently doing.

SC:  For those pursing music as a career, what was the best piece of advice you were given?

LL:  My father, who was not a musician, said you should do what you love in life.  It’s not for personal glory or ego.  Simply keep remembering that you are doing this for listeners who want something.

Attend Leonard Lesser’s 80th birthday and celebrate the music of Leonard Bernstein on Wednesday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m.  New England Conservatory will pay tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s works all season, including the New England premiere of the exhibition, Leonard Bernstein at 100, unveiling on September 24 and continuing through November 11 at NEC’s Student and Performance Center.  Click here to learn how to support NEC and here for all of NEC’s upcoming concerts this season.

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

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

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

SS Conservatory Opening Reception and exhibition

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

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

SS Conservatory Art Gallery 2

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

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

Keri McAndrews Trees in Fog at exhibition

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

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