Move over glass slipper and fairy godmother and hello fashionistas and Amazon drivers. Cinderella is getting the city treatment with a few contemporary twists, but keeping its sparkling delivery and timeless moral message from a modern penthouse apartment overlooking the city of Boston.
The Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre’s ornate theatrical setting is so fitting for Jenna McFarland Lord’s sophisticated and elaborate set design featuring two towering lit lamp posts. From a pristine, lightly furnished penthouse apartment to a starlit, fantasy masquerade garden party embellished with vines chasing the walls, a wrought iron staircase, and twinkling lights, Lord builds up the fanciful spirit of this modern fairy tale.
La Cenerentola, spoken in Italian with English subtitles, is a spin of the traditional fairytale Cinderella and centers around an imaginative woman who lives with the Baron and his two daughters and must cater to their every whim. When Don Ramiro shows up at the Baron’s doorstep, change just might be in the air.
However, some things haven’t changed in soprano Dana Lynne Varga as Clorinda and mezzo soprano Alexis Peart as Tisbe, Cinderella’s self-absorbed, scornful, and gold digging wicked stepsisters who can barely see beyond their mirrors (or in this case, their phones and selfie rings). The duo possesses certain regality in their bookend statures, if it was not for their disdain for others. Feathers, diamond encrusted bowties, crushed velvet, lace, and floral embroidery is just a portion of Trevor Bowen’s glittering, extravagant and fanciful costume design. Cecelia Hall as Angelina seems to simply float in her idyllic emerald gown. Don Magnifico, otherwise known as The Baron depicted with scene stealing glee by bass baritone Brandon Cedel, shares his daughters’ conceitedness decked out in rings, an earring, and carefully coiffed hair. Cedel waltzes around the apartment in self congratulatory bliss unless something or someone ruffles his flawless feathers. Though Cedel’s Baron does have a threatening side, Cedel spends much more time as a humorous ham as he flirts and shows off fun loving comic charm.
In suspenders and doo rag cap, mezzo soprano Cecelia Hall gracefully portrays modest, tactful, and compassionate Angelina with agile vocals, shining especially in the production’s quieter moments. A sidelong glance, demure blush, and a barely concealed impish smile and gaiety escape her while she tends to her endless household duties, especially in the charismatic presence of tenor Levy Sekgapane as Don Ramiro. Sekgapone’s dazzling vocals and captivating rapport with Hall make for some of the production’s most delightful moments and Ferretti’s libretto wisely delves further into Ramiro’s persona than other Cinderella productions.
Hall also shares a sweet camaraderie with bass baritone James Demler through a good deed as humble and quick witted Amazon driver and part narrator Alidoro. Both Demler and Levi Hernandez as Dandini are immediately likable from the start. Demler’s gravitas and commanding vocals deliver some wondrous surprises while baritone Hernandez’s soaring vocals as Dandini show they are much more than meet the eye.
Gioanchino Rossini’s urgent rhythms, quick pacing, and playful, melodic dialogues enchant while the lightning speed of some of the libretto demonstrate the collective and extraordinary skill of this engaging cast. With a few more refreshing twists and turns than in Cinderella’s traditional tale, Boston Lyric Opera’s La Cenerentola(Cinderella) embarks on a humorous and jovial journey while emphasizing the power of love and grace in all circumstances.
Stage directed with charm and finesse by Dawn M. Simmons and infused with Gioachino Rossini’s lively and whimsical music, Boston Lyric Opera presented Jacopo Ferretti’s Italian libretto La Cenerentola(Cinderella) live and in person at Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, MA for one weekend only through Sunday, November 12. Click here for more information and for a closer look at Boston Lyric Opera’s new season.
Just in time for Halloween, Greater Boston Stage Company stages one creepy ghost story.
Taking a cue from the success of last year’s one man show, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Greater Boston Stage Company decided to draw from a few classic and haunting tales for this one woman show, We Had A Girl Before You.
Directed by Weylin Symes, Greater Boston Stage Company presents Trevor Schmidt’sWe Had A Girl Before You live and in person at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA through Sunday, November 5. It is 90 minutes with no intermission. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Wearing spectacles and with hair pulled back in a tight bun is just one of Annie Barbour’s many personas as she depicts Edwina Trout, a lonely and inquisitive woman who embarks on an ardent journey to work as a lady’s companion. Longing for love and a sense of belonging, she travels with hope on a dangerous journey to Wichham Manor.
Kathy Monthei’s gloomy and effective set boasts a distant and lit manor on a high hill, a large full moon, a wide staircase, a veiled and translucent black curtain, and bronze-like etchings on the walls with a built in crawl space. The show relies a great deal on David Remidios’s moody sound design and spontaneous special effects for a few jump scares along the way.
Annie Barbour not only depicts Edwina Trout, but a number of unsavory characters on her journey such as a gruff and surly barmaid and an abusive and resentful teacher. The physical prowess that Barbour carries is substantial, but she handles it while exacting accents, mannerism, and conversations varying from a dark scowl to a hypnotic stare. Trout is far more complex of a part than it seems and Barbour handles these variations of temperament believably. ‘We Had a Girl Before You’ is not as strong of a story as a classic tale of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ but it contains enough chilling content and wily twists that make for an interesting day at the theatre.
Greater Boston Stage Company presents Trevor Schmidt’s We Had A Girl Before You live and in person at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA through Sunday, November 5. It is 90 minutes with no intermission. Click here for more information and for tickets.
What is refreshing about this contemporary iteration of Hamlet is not only is it much more of a comedy than a tragedy, but it also roots itself far more into the family dynamic than even Shakespeare portrayed. Watching Hamlet, one assumes that the king and his son had a traditional and loving father-son relationship. What if it everything was far more complicated? What if the father is not the model dad that a child grows to admire? Fat Ham bears a resemblance to the classic production in key plot points, but then flips the script and transitions into its own entity that delves into the cycle of intergenerational trauma swinging from ruthless, creepy and suspenseful to not taking itself too seriously.
Rather than Hamlet standing for Juicy, the metaphorical star of this production is just what one roasts during a barbecue, a fat pig as a grill takes center stage. However, there is a struggle of who is king of this house as Juicy’s father has just died and Juicy’s uncle suspiciously soon after marries Juicy’s mom, Tedra.
Fat Ham is humorously set in ‘Virginia or Maryland or Tennessee’ and in a small town where gossip travels fast. Luciana Stecconi’s working class set design boasts tiny, multi-functional and mood setting white lights that adorn a large tree on a dilapidated back porch strewn with arbitrary clothes hanging on a disheveled clothesline. Baby shower balloons, a tire swing, grill and a fire pit surround a half decorated picnic table and chairs. Costume designer Celeste Jennings leans on frenetic colors and patterns to accentuate the essence of each character. Aubrey Dube’s rich sound design, Xiangfu Xiao’s sharp lighting, and Evan Northrup’s amazing illusion design all team up to illustrate some startling, eerie, foreboding, and pivotal revelations.
In some key ways, Fat Ham’s cast improves on the Shakespeare’s classic play and Ijames diligently exposes the hypocrisy of each character. The casting is also particularly astute as Juicy, depicted with timid and burdened inquisitiveness by Marshall W. Mabry IV and Lau’rie Roach portrays lively and wisecracking cousin Tio who buries insightfulness in raunchy humor. Ebony Marshall-Oliver as self centered Tedra still shares a nurturing and sympathetic rapport with Mabry while flaunting spicy swagger with Vincent Ernest Siders as Rev/Pap. A particular scene in which Marshall-Oliver and Mabry both shine is a dynamic musical interlude that shows off their individual charisma and prowess.
Vincent Ernest Siders stepped in as Rev/Pap and punctuates his performance with a domineering sneer as well as savage and manipulative taunting. Victoria Omoregie as Opal and Thomika Marie Bridwell as Rabby deliver a relatable and hilarious mother-daughter relationship while Amar Atkins bears his own burdens as Opal’s seemingly straight laced brother Larry.
Sometimes it takes something big for life to change. Fat Ham explores overcoming betrayal and one’s supposed lot in life against all odds to forge a new path in a crazy world.
Based partially on Shakespeare’s classic production Hamlet and conscientiously directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, the Huntington Theatre in association with Alliance Theatre and Front Porch Arts Collective presents James IJames’s semi-interactive dramedy Fat Ham through Sunday, October 29 live and in person at Calderwood Pavilion in Boston, MA. This Pulitzer prize-winning show is 90 minutes with no intermission and contains mature themes and strong language. Click here for more information and tickets.
‘I gave my tears into the earth, now it must give me back flowers.’
This is just a hint of Puccini’s masterful lyrics that encapsulates profound love and loss in Puccini’s epic classic 1904 Italian libretto Madama Butterfly presented live and in person at Emerson Colonial Theatre through Sunday, September 24. This expansive production was 2 hours and 25 minutes with one 20-minute intermission after Act 1. Click here for more information and more about Boston Lyric Opera’s season.
With heartrending direction by Phil Chan and stirring choreography by Michael Sakamoto, Madama Butterfly was delivered with an altered setting and contemporary flair over a period of time from 1941 to 1983. Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is a searing and brilliant love story and the source material for the Tony award-winning Broadway musical, Miss Saigon. This time, Madama Butterfly’s settings ranged from Hawaii to San Francisco to Arizona. Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew’s multifaceted lighting not only reflected the shadows and watercolor reflection in a lively nightclub but the rich purple and rose of the horizon at daybreak as moving set pieces transported the audience to contrasting settings. Featuring multicolor fans, contemporary yellow crowns, and regal military uniforms, Sara Ryung Clement’s distinctive, silky, and shimmering costumes in bursting color embellished the festivities of the Club Shangri-La in Chinatown in San Francisco, where Navy officer B. F. Pinkerton, depicted with enigmatic sweetness by tenor Dominick Chenes and soprano Karen Chia-Ling Ho as naïve, proud, bubbly and devoted Butterfly or Cio-Cio San meet in 1941. It will be a night they never forget.
Boston Lyric Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly had the audience gripped in a full range of emotions as the eye level live orchestra led by Annie Rabbat articulated Puccini’s moving array of arias punctuated by magnificent drums. Boasting angelic vocals, Chia- Ling Ho blossomed as Madama Butterfly, her coy yet fragile depiction poignant and buoyant as she navigated through a plethora of challenges during World War II and Pearl Harbor. Chenes and Chia-Ling had captivating chemistry only enriched by powerful vocals and enthralling dialogue. Mezzo soprano Alice Chung at first offered an understated performance as steadfast and loyal Suzuki, but Chung’s depiction gradually culminated into one of the most endearing characters of the production alongside Troy Cook as compassionate and protective Sharpless. Baritone Junhan Choi had a reduced role as Commissioner/Registrar in Madama Butterfly compared to the engineer’s meaty role in Miss Saigon, but Choi left his mark during each of his memorable scenes in a charismatic portrayal of dark humor and dastardly wit.
Michael Sakamoto’s dynamic choreography ranged from delicate to fitful, most notably as Butterfly took the stage in a traditional dance with the Club Shangri-La performers and later in a stirring dance featuring Cassie Wang. Wang’s symbolic performance was peculiar, heartfelt, foreboding and so riveting that it may remain ingrained into the psyche long after the performance has ended.
Boston Lyric Opera’s Madama Butterfly took some liberties from the classic libretto that dealt in immigration, bigotry, and patriotism in a surprising array of twists and turns and proved to be a production that will not soon be forgotten.
Boston Lyric Opera presented Puccini’s Madama Butterfly through Sunday, September 24 live and in person at Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. This expansive production was 2 hours and 25 minutes with one 20-minute intermission after Act 1. Click here for more information and more about Boston Lyric Opera’s season.
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.
Two peculiar overachievers meet. One is a precocious, well-read, well versed and outspoken college student and another a well versed, well-read and well-spoken middle-aged Yale professor. It is a meeting of the minds as they surprisingly challenge each other when seemingly the only thing that challenges each of them comes in literary form.
Immediately engaging, shrewdly written, and oftentimes bleak, The Sound Inside is quite capable of rendering the audience speechless. It is jarring, reflective, and moving and from what is learned about these characters, one cannot help but hope for the well being of these two lost souls.
Directed by Bryn Boice, SpeakEasy Stage Company opened their new season with Adam Rapp’s Tony-nominated play The Sound Inside continuing at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts in Boston through Saturday, October 16. Presented for the first time in Boston, The Sound Inside contains mature themes and some difficult topics. It is 90 minutes without an intermission. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Much of The Sound Inside is about hope. It’s about looking for hope when the light is dim and the quest for finding hope is rarely a comfortable journey.
Cristina Todesco’s minimal set does well creating depth and dimension, but does not take away from the primary focus of this character driven study. Devorah Kengmana’s lighting lends to each character’s loneliness as shadows are created at pivotal moments.
Jennifer Rohn as prominent Yale professor Bella Baird unleashes a no holds barred look into her psyche. She is an avid reader which seems to help her escape past trauma and the crisis she is currently facing. Her keen intellect is immediately obvious and she is unfiltered, blatantly unfettered, and undeterred as she shares her life up to this point. Rohn is as captivating a storyteller as she is in exhibiting Baird’s loneliness.
Set in the fall in New Haven, Connecticut, Baird has a surprising encounter with Christopher Dunn, portrayed with a mix of arrogance, intuitiveness, and inquisitiveness by Nathan Malin, and they share a distinct, intangible connection. With similar dry senses of humor, a shared love of the written word, and a mutual social awkwardness, they understand and encourage each other to live life boldly. However, Rapp’s script is full of detours and twists that don’t always land perfectly, but lead to a tense and incalculable ending. Just when the show seems to tow the line, the tables turn.
SpeakEasy Stage Company presents The Sound Inside at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston through Sunday, October 16. Click here for more information and tickets. Click here for upcoming events and more at the SpeakEasy Stage Company.
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.
It is not difficult to see why A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most performed and beloved plays. It is everything but tragic. It features magic, mischief, romantic comedy, action, and under a harvest moon, a haunting twist perfect for October and Halloween.
This particular play holds historical significance to the Company Theatre because it was the first show they ever produced 40 years ago when they were working with very little money. Company Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an opportunity to transform the production into what they have always hoped it to be and what a dream it is.
Cleverly directed by Steve Dooner, Company Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues through Sunday, October 20 at the Company Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts. Click here for a closer look at show and here for more information and tickets.
Samantha McMahon as Queen Titania and fairies Photo courtesy of the Company Theatre
Under a gigantic moon, Ryan Barrow’s enchanting set design and Zoe Bradford’s beautiful art design unleash a picturesque, woodland world full of frolicking fairies, sword fights, romance, and more surrounded by a moving and glittering landscape. The show’s fanciful Ravel and Mendelssohn-infused soundtrack, some high flying special effects, Paula Ninestein and Anna Splitz’s authentic costumes with a bit of a contemporary edge, and Ethan R. Jones’s stirring lighting design seamlessly combine to enhance this captivating work.
Dan Kelly as Theseus and Sarah Dewey as Hippolyta Photo courtesy of the Company Theatre
A Midsummer Night’s Dream has multiple story lines, but the cast translates Shakespeare’s work with gravitas and humor. For those hesitant about understanding Shakespeare’s work, this production is lively, lighthearted, and manageable to follow.
Part play within a play, part intrigue, part comedy, and part mystery, A Midsummer Night’s Dream essentially explores love in all of its forms from unrequited to true love to romantic comedy to love potions. This production is the source of some of Shakespeare’s most famous reflections on love such as “True love does not see with the eyes, but the mind,” and “The course of true love never did run smooth.” The show’s witty dialogue is a wonderful reminder that Shakespeare’s story lines are timeless and can translate into any contemporary story line.
Though A Midsummer Night’s Dream boasts a dignified and dynamic cast, it also excels at improvisation, hilarity, and absurdity. Dan Kelly is a regal and charismatic Theseus and Sarah Dewey a radiant Hippolyta. They glide onstage like today’s royal family. Declan Dunn delivers a remarkable performance as wild, mischievous, and mighty Puck and his conspiring moments with Jermaine Murray as King Oberon make for a clever and cunning pair.
The women in this production are strong, beautiful, and fierce. Ariel Wigfall portrays sympathetic, yet courageous Hermia while raven-haired Joan Raube-Wilson is virtuous and stunning as Helena. Samantha McMahon is as glamorous as she is amusing as Queen Titania.
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ also has a wealth of wonderful, improvisational moments. Suraj Ranhbhat as headstrong Demetrius, Bryant Marshall as Lysander, and especially Marco Zenelli as the energetic, bombastic, yet benevolent Nick Bottom along with his group of madcap, merry Mechanicals all demonstrate some excellent physical humor, improvisation, and zany comic relief. Where would today’s humor be without these classic comedic moments which stand as the foundation of what we are all laughing about today.
From L to R: Marco Zanelli as Nick Bottom, Declan Dunn as Puck and Caroline Kautsire as Peter Quince
Company Theatre’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues through Sunday, October 20 at the Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support Company Theatre’s future. Also follow Company Theatre on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to learn all about their upcoming events.
The Boston Film Festival presented US Premiere of indie film, ‘JoJo Rabbit’ Photo credit to Fox Serachlight Pictures
The Boston Film Festival took place for the most part at the stellar Showplace Icon Theatre. Located at the Boston Seaport and conveniently located at the Courthouse stop on the Silver Line, The Showplace Icon Theatre features state-of-the-art stadium seating with plush reclining chairs, a beverage holder, and a place for your popcorn. Click here for a closer look at this amazing theatre and here for more information and tickets.
Showplace Icon Theatre, located at Boston Seaport. Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
The Shorts Program I took place on day three of the festival on Saturday, September 21 and featured a dynamic group of films that ranged from heartrending to hilarious to the macabre. It was a selection likely to appeal to everyone.
Alex Salsburg as Mom and Harley Harrison as Mike Photo credit to the Boston Film Festival and Class of 84
Directed by Alex Salsburg and Joe Andrade, Class of 84 is a narrated animated short film that offers an amusing and clever angle on helicopter parenting. Dr. Katz’s Jonathan Katz is involved in the project. Through clean, colorful, and two dimensional animation, Class of 84 delves into the life of a teenager living with his constantly hovering, overprotective mother. From eating raw cookie dough to crossing the street, Class of 84 has its share of silly moments, but overall a fun and interesting look at the virtues of listening to your mother.
Directed by Jon Bloch, Waiting Game takes a darker turn exploring a tough and complicated relationship between constantly worried and well meaning Kenny, portrayed by John Patrick Amedori and his ailing, frustrated father, portrayed by Bruce McGill as Mel. It doesn’t take long for this meaningful short film to cause a lump in one’s throat.
‘Waiting Game’ Photo credit to Boston Film Festival and ‘Waiting Game’
Waiting Game is a relatable tale about how family can have the best of intentions and those intentions can end up getting misconstrued in the worst way. John Patrick Amedori Bruce McGill deliver powerful and moving performances that can sometimes be painful to watch as they build a fragile, tension-filled chasm between them. Waiting Game balances a few lighter moments between Kenny and sweet waitress Alyssa, portrayed by Dilshad Vadsaria.
On a lighter note, director Barbara Elbinger directs You Need Help, a heartfelt look at a retired married couple. Featuring a fitting soundtrack, Fred, portrayed by Edmund Dehn, is a depressed husband who longs to put vitality and fun back into his life with his all too practical wife, Doreen, portrayed by Eileen Nicholas. These two have a wonderful chemistry even when they do not see eye to eye and there is much more to these two than they seem. To witness Fred’s unconventional antics in recapturing the joy in their marriage is worth the price of the ticket.
Shahana Goswami as Sheetal in ‘The Seal’ Photo credit to Boston Film Festival and The Seal
Directed by Richa Rudola, The Seal takes a look at Shahana Goswami as Sheetal, a woman haunted by her past when she receives a mysterious, sealed package. Though the story is fictional, Director Richa Rudola was inspired to create this tale based on events she witnessed and experienced as a woman growing up in India.
The Seal delves into the struggles that keep people stuck in their pain, unable to move on with their lives. As the haunting phrase, ‘Remember what Mama used to Say’ permeates Sheetal’s thoughts, she seeks comfort in caring, but shady Daquane Cherry as Ruben. However, some of The Seal’s best scenes are in the unspoken moments, allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Photo credit to the Boston Film Festival and ‘Boy Eats Girl: A Zombie Love Story’
Director Sarah Gurfield puts a little love in a zombie’s heart in Boy Eats Girl: A Zombie Love Story. Zombies seem to be all the rage and a love struck zombie picking flowers can be humorous, but found these seven short minutes all too dark and grisly to muster adoration.
The Bigonia Garden, directed by Ron Goldin and based on Goldin’s own experiences, is a foreign short film that explores an unexpected connection between neighbors in war torn Ashdod in Tel Aviv. As missiles are launched over their heads, Sound Producer Adam and neighbor Bar retreat to the stairwell in their building, the safest place during a crisis. It is a snapshot into the lives of people who have no choice but live in the moment during a tumultuous time.
It is a beautiful, personal film and loner Adam, portrayed by Adam Hirsch and Bar, portrayed by Bar Ackerman, have compelling chemistry with an unpredictable conclusion.
Directed by Joel Marsh, A Valley explores a couple of adventure-seeking risk takers as they go on a camping excursion together. It is based on a short story called The Marsh. They make each other laugh, wax philosophical, and the film gives the impression that all they have is each other. The film was a bit ambiguous and would have liked to have delved more into their relationship to give the film more emotional weight.
Boston Film Festival’s Shorts Program I also featured American Life and Heirloom, but were not reviewed. Click here for more about this year’s festival and future updates.
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.