Michael Levin’s Polish Jewish mother hated one man shows. Jenny Graubart didn’t think there was anything interesting about someone standing on stage talking through an entire performance. However, what is so rewarding about Michael Levin’s The Mom Show is not just his reflections and a collection of family photos. It has wisdom, tragedy, resilience, love, disaster, music, and a cast of multi-faceted relatives existing during one of the most harrowing parts of history. Accompanied by a collection of original songs performed and composed by Levin (with the exception of one), The Mom Show is an intimate and engaging portrait of a survivor whose son still wonders how she did it all.
Written, composed, and performed by New York Times bestselling author and Tanglewood Festival Chorus tenor Michael Levin, The Mom Show continues live at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts Sundays through July 18 at 7 pm. It was the first in person theatre production to open in Massachusetts and it follows Covid guidelines. The show runs 80 minutes without an intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
Unlike Levin’s mother, I think there is something endearing about one man shows if they are delivered with heart, finesse, and has a solid story to tell. The production explores three generations from 1908 Poland right into the present day exploring Levin’s family’s experiences as they ventured into different parts of the world to escape the Holocaust and ultimately settling in Queens, NY. Through their ever changing locations, Graubart’s versatility, worldliness, and resourcefulness shine through while overcoming difficult hardships and triumphs that will not be revealed here. We’ll let Levin tell the tale.
Levin is an engaging storyteller, adding humor and spontaneity to this emotional journey. Musically directed by Nancy Loedy, The Mom Show delves into various musical genres from rockabilly to the blues to a Cuban lullaby. What We Remember is a particularly stirring piece. Levin’s sincerity and heartfelt vocals add a lighthearted gleam that keeps in step with each segment of the production. Levin’s mom was also a big fan of musicals before her death in 2018 and The Mom Show is worthy of her approval.
The Mom Show continues live at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street in Arlington, Massachusetts Sundays through July 18. Click here for more information and tickets.
We are all hearing soon. Soon we will be back together in the theatre for a wonderful live theatrical experience. How it has been missed!
However convenient it is sitting in front of a computer for a virtual show, there is nothing quite like the anticipation of live theatre in person with an audience in a shared experience. SpeakEasy Stage Company’s remarkable concert musical benefit show, Songs for a New World, accomplishes quite a bit in its hour and a half runtime. Through clever cinematography that still adheres to Covid guidelines, SpeakEasy Stage Company recreates the thrill of seeing actors together onstage and it is easy to see each cast member’s excitement through their own extraordinary performances. We’re not quite there yet, but this is getting ever closer.
Directed by Paul Daigneault and musically-directed by Jose Delgado, SpeakEasy Stage Company continues their 30th anniversary season with John Robert Brown’sSongs for a New World streaming through June 8. The show was filmed onstage at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets. Discount tickets are also available. Click here for more information on SpeakEasy Stage Company’s recently announced 2021-22 season.
It is difficult to describe the anticipation of seeing SpeakEasy Stage Company’s concert musical benefit, Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World. The last Jason Robert Brown musical I witnessed was a film adaptation of The Last Five Years. It was a glorious, resonating tear jerker featuring reliable talents Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick.
Songs for a New World explores a variety of characters that are faced with the ultimate, sometimes humorous and other times harrowing life-changing decisions and deciding what to do next. With simple staging and an onstage band conducted by Jose Delgado, Songs for a New World has humor and heartache enhanced by some of Boston’s most recognizable vocal powerhouses.
Songs for a New World is full of powerful performances and each song is as strong as the last, but here are a few highlights. One standout performance is a tender and stirring rendition of On the Deck of a Spanish Ship, 1492 as Monroe exclaims, “Have Mercy Lord” while the cast embarks on a harrowing, life-changing journey. Dressed in a long fur coat, Laura Marie Duncan is wildly entertaining as a scorned woman in an extreme situation in Just One Step. Duncan’s expressive personality and her sheer energy drive this amazing performance.
Jennifer Ellis performs some vocal gymnastics as Mrs. Claus for Sweabaya Santa, reimagining Santa as an absent, judgmental husband whose love is as fleeting as his sleigh. Dwayne P Mitchell literally rises from the ashes of his childhood in this boastful, self-assured rendition of The Steam Train. Ellis and Mitchell have sweet chemistry in a beautiful duet about the complexity of love in I’d Give it All for You.
Rached Al Nuaimi demonstrates zany, emotional turmoil and building frustration in She Cries and Jennifer Ellis delivers a bold and anguished performance in The Flagmaster, 1776.
SpeakEasy Stage Company’s Songs for a New World also boasts an incredible finale not to be missed with Hear My Song. Glad to add John Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World as another memorable musical experience.
SpeakEasy Stage Company continues streaming Songs for a New World through June 8. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support the SpeakEasy Stage Company.
Transitions have been a strong theme over the past year and a half and with that brings forth a tumult of emotions. Staying true to this season’s theme, “Waves of Change,” the Boston Children’s Chorus depict a vibrant range of emotions through songs of comfort, pressing contemporary issues and dreams of hope of everyone together again in their final concert of the season, Lift Every Voice:At the Table.
Featuring special guest composers Sydney Guillaume, Omar Shahryar, and Layth Sidiq, Lift Every Voice: At the Table was live streamed for free on Sunday, May 30, but is still available to watch on their Facebook page, and YouTube channel. The concert also delivers information about their upcoming summer outdoor concert series, We Sing as well as information about the Kiser Scholarship, a memorial scholarship focused on community building and social healing.
Though each song offers its own message of hope and change, Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna, and Brandi Carlile’s uplifting Crowded Table and Omar Shahryar’s The Journey of Feelings portrays the dream of unity while reflecting on uncertainty and the exhaustion of the journey through this pandemic from a child’s point of view. Crowded Table brings to life the dream and comfort of finally being together again at the table without worry by a roaring fire. It’s a sweet, joyous, and memorable song that you may never want to end.
Omar Shahryar’s catchy The Journey of Feelings has its amusing moments, but underneath the beat paints a startlingly perfect expression of what kids are feeling from day-to-day over the course of the pandemic. It’s an upbeat and urgent song providing insight into intense and overwhelming feelings and yet delivers a precocious sense of maturity expressing hope of life returning to normal. Omar Shahyar’s There’s a Change A-Coming further enhances this sense of gradual change as they navigate through these uncertain times.
Moving backdrops and colorful, innovative zoom cinematography enhance each song and it is wonderful to hear from Boston Children’s Chorus members from all levels and their reflections on the world. It is also a treat to see the chorus outdoors from bridge to beach to city singing together at various times over the concert’s duration, but this is especially wonderful to watch for Mavis Staples’s inspiring Build a Bridge and Layth Sidiq’s spiritual, haunting, and rhythmic Reflection.
John Mayer’s popular song, Waiting on the World to Change brings its signature insightful flair but BCC enhances this poignant song with a moving dedication to emergency workers and glimpses of the state of the world during the pandemic such as the closure of theatres, empty trains, and elbow bumps instead of hugs. Mayer’s timeless lyrics resonate profoundly while the world is in transition.
Delving into multiple languages and a unique, moving open, The Boston Children’s Chorus also reflects hope and uncertainty through the eyes of Migrants with Joel Thompson’sAmerica Will Be as the BCC proclaims, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Dany Rivera’s charismatic and powerful vocals depict struggle and determination with Gregory Porter’sRunning (Refugee Song).
The Boston Children’s Chorus encapsulates distinctly what many are feeling at this time through their evocative vocals and strong messages while leaving this season on a hopeful note.
Click here for more information on how to join and support the Boston Children’s Chorus, their upcoming events, and digital offerings.
One of the main attractions of virtual concerts is being able to discover new music anywhere in the world.
Inside Copenhagen’s iconic Round Tower that houses a church, library, and an astronomical observatory, three musicians deliver a mesmerizing musical experience as Dreamers Circus. Warmly introduced by violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen, this performance was filmed in Round Tower’s immaculate library as Swarm, a floating exhibit created by female Denmark artists Baskets4Life, contributes to the concert’s surreal setting.
Celebrity Series of Boston welcomes award-winning musical trio Dreamers Circus streaming through Thursday, April 15. The concert premiered as a live streamed concert on Friday, April 9 and includes a Q & A with the group. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Comprised of violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen, pianist and accordionist Nikolaj Busk, and Ale Carr on Nordic Cittern, Dreamers Circus draws from classical, Swedish, and Nordic rhythms to weave a collection of playful, breezy, and mesmerizing selections well suited to the band’s name while providing a haven in this dark time.
Among the many highlights of this performance is the quirky originality and chipper rhythms in their telling song, The World is Waiting from their latest album, White Gold. The sunny piano and whistling medley exudes a lighthearted anticipation of what’s to come. Pentamime delves into hypnotic rhythms, suspense, and building intensity while City Gardens, from their album Rooftop Sessions, offers a fascinating and intricate mix of soothing rhythms, bright notes, as well as haunting, eclectic, and electronic sounds that brings out the song’s unique vibrancy.
Busk introduces Kitchen Stories, a rich number that fluctuates between lively and tranquil while showcasing Sorensen’s nimble artistry with the violin and Busk’s switch to an accordion before joining together for a memorable folk reel.
Hjerter To/Fangden Og Hans Pumpestok has a bright, catchy, and fanciful medley as Busk pulls double duty performing on the piano and the accordion. Introducing what Carr calls “a poor man’s viola,” Carr duets with Sorensen for traditional Swedish song, Folkrothvalsen.
The concert builds to a thrilling finale with A Room in Paris and Prelude to a Song. While A Room in Paris delivers an upbeat and joyful urgency, Prelude to the Sun provides a perfect blend of sonic and dreamlike harmony.
Not to be left out is the engaging and laid back camaraderie between the musicians as they take the audience on an intriguing and inviting musical journey that could suit any musical taste. Celebrity Series of Boston @home presents Dreamers Circus on demand through Thursday, April 15. Click here for more information and tickets.
Celebrity Series of Boston will present their annual Stave Sessions kicking off on Wednesday, April 21. Click here for a closer look at their season and ways to support Celebrity Series of Boston.
This virtual concert ended with a laugh. On Thursday, February 25, Celebrity Series of Boston at home’s free weekly Neighborhood Arts concert series featured the soothing and unique rhythms of Quartet Kalos: The Songs We Make livestreamed on Celebrity Series of Boston’s website, Facebook Live and YouTube at 7:30 p.m. The concert was filmed at Futura Productions in Roslindale, MA and included a Q & A with the group. Click here to see the full concert on demand.
Introduced by Celebrity Series of Boston’s Associate Director of Community Engagement Robin Baker, this livestreamed concert was particularly meaningful for this skilled quartet. Not only did they make their Celebrity Series of Boston debut as a group though they have all performed for Celebrity Series individually since 2017, it was the first time performing live together onstage since the pandemic and they couldn’t have been more delighted.
A portion of Quartet Kalos’s music is Swedish-inspired due to members of the group having lived there and these particular concert selections took some time to deliver their take on classical music and hymns.
Their lively and inquisitive opening number, Solstice, is an instrumental piece blending soprano Mary Mackenzie’s silvery and versatile vocals. Mackenzie’s operatic range has a brilliant and natural shine, even when delivering the spoken word.
Dreamlike and experimental, Beau Kenyon’s I Will is melodic and smooth in its building intensity. Aaron Copeland’s timeless Appalachian Spring is easily recognizable within Quartet Kalos’s upbeat arrangement to Shaker tune Simple Gifts. Quartet Kalos also provides a unique and memorable blend on the Swedish tune, Uti Var Hage with timeless hymn, I’ll Fly Away (arr. Angela Shankar) in a sea of galloping rhythms with a special dedication.
Maria Finkelmeier’s original and spirited composition, Clone has an urgency and mischievousness filled with rhythmic stops, starts, and lively moments.
However, the real standout was Swedish tune, I denna ljuva sommartid (arr. Sanna Andersson), a glorious, uplifting song about summer’s great beauty which is particularly missed in the depths of winter. This lively number is further enhanced by its stirring acapella harmony.
Quartet Kalos: The Songs We Make is still available for viewing here. Celebrity Series of Boston’s free virtual Neighborhood concert series will next present Hub New Music on Thursday, March 11 at 7:30. Click here for more information and for all that Celebrity Series has to offer this season.
One thing rings true: No good can come from a dying phone.
A dark highway and a last minute errand kick off the world premiere of Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s family-friendly supernatural thriller Solitaire Suite, a rich, engaging play by Trent England that explores a family’s strange occurrence over one evening. With a dreamlike and tense score that underlies its various twist and turns, Solitaire Suite’s relatable cast are just part of what makes this as alluring a zoom production as it would be a stirring podcast.
Directed by Daniel Bourque, Solitaire Suite is nestled between two Shakespearean productions in Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s current season. While Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing thrilled audiences last year and next is Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in the spring, Hub Theatre Company of Boston took a break from soliloquies and bravado for this psychological thriller continuing on Hub Theatre’s YouTube page on live stream and on Hub Theatre’s Facebook page through Saturday, February 27. Tickets are on a pay-what-you-can basis. Click here for more information.
Having seen a few of Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s productions, it is refreshing to see them present such a vast array of work over the years from period pieces to dark fantasy to southern rom-coms and now what is deemed twilight zone meets zoom.
Marty Mason bears most of the weight of this production as Celeste, a former city-lover turned suburban mother whose mysterious son keeps her guessing. She delivers a natural and nuanced performance, sharing the evocative, lively, and multi-layered account of her family’s evening. Cristhian Mancinas-Garcia is charismatic as Celeste’s quick-witted and laidback husband Pete and Michael Lin portrays their introverted and mysterious son, Tiger.
Solitaire Suite veers off into different directions and each detail is a window into each character’s psyche. The dramatic and haunting cinematography, with sound design and digital design by Kyle Lampe and Justin Lahue respectively, contributes to the production’s ominous and suspenseful tone that takes on not only some supernatural aspects, but the tension brimming just beneath the surface within this seemingly close family.
Solitaire Suite unpacks a lot within its under an hour runtime and though all your questions might not be answered, the production is thought-provoking well beyond the production’s close.
Solitaire Suite continues through Saturday, February 27 and is also available on Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s Facebook page. Click here for more information and their current production. Hub Theatre’s next production is Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost this spring.
It has been said, ‘Happiness is good food and good company.’
For those who miss hugs and some good company, Liars and Believers (LAB) in Cambridge, MA may have a cure for that with their interactive, virtual, and family-friendly production of Beyond a Winter’s Day continuing through Saturday, March 27. This production is offered on a pay-what-you-can basis. Click here for more information and for tickets. These are live streaming zoom performances that are scheduled at specific times.
Directed shrewdly by Jason Slavick with video editing by Sam Powell, Beyond a Winter’s Day is more an experience than simply a theatrical production. What makes this experience rather unique is how cleverly it is put together. Not only does Beyond a Winter’s Day deliver a selection of insightful, creatively dynamic stories including an open-ended tale that ticket holders are encouraged to finish, but takes it one step further.
Before watching, ticket holders are offered three recipes that could be considered hearty comfort food for a winter’s day to be prepared prior to the production. The food is cleverly woven into the storyline and cast members enjoy the food with the audience during key points in the production, creating a multi-sensory experience.
Though a portion of the production is set in space, Beyond a Winter’s Day attempts to evoke the comfort you might feel sitting in front of a campfire while eating, conversing, and sharing stories. The colorful cast, portrayed by Rachel Wiese as Isabel, Rebecca Lehrhoff as Mishka, Glen Moore as Fergus, and Jesse Garlick as Stanislav, address the audience on occasion and the audience can respond via messaging. A marginally self-aware piece, each nuanced character that introduces the tales all react differently to being separated from their other cast mates and gradually learn how best to capture that light and feeling of togetherness once again.
Each tale is produced with varying creative styles and conveys a strong message about the underdog, judging a book by its cover, a campfire fable with unexpected attendees, and an open-ended story for you to finish.
Each tale possesses its own strengths, but Vasalise the Blessed, an original work written by Rachel Wiese, was a particular highlight. Its rich shadow puppetry boasts a passing resemblance to The Tale of Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I film. The haunting, detailed quality of this work is evident right down to the lattice pattern in Vasalise’s dress and the poignant story seems to come out of a set of dark fairy tales.
Jesse Garlick’s Malka and the Bahema is a fascinating Yiddish morality tale that involves a variety of puppetry including hand and finger puppets as Malka embarks on a harrowing journey to prove an entire town wrong and Kendra Bell’s mischievous and expressive costumes for a bedtime fable look like they walked right out of storybook.
Beyond a Winter’s Day also features its own version of musical storytelling in the live, upbeat, and relaxing acoustic rhythms from singer-songwriters Carlos Odria and singer Mali.
Liars and Believers present innovative Beyond a Winter’s Day through Saturday, March 27. This show is on a pay-as-you-like basis and streams live at scheduled times. Click here for more information and tickets.
Although the Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC) could not physically be together this year for their annual concert, they certainly spiritually united in harmony through innovative zoom technology that helped make this remarkable concert a visual spectacle. Featuring renowned special guests in music and in the arts, The Boston Children’s Chorus composed a stirring, gripping, and hopeful collection of works including music and poetry honoring Martin Luther King’s historic day.
The 18th Annual Boston Children’s Chorus concert tribute to Martin Luther’s King, Born on the Water was livestreamed on their website and Facebook on Sunday, January 17 at 4 p.m. The virtual concert is still available on their Facebook page and YouTube channel. Click here for more information on how to support the Boston Children’s Chorus, their upcoming events, programs, digital offerings, and how to join.
In under an hour, the free virtual tribute concert offered a selection of hymns, protest songs, and hopeful melodies. Broadway actor-vocalist Roman Banks delivered an incredible opening number with the Boston Children’s Chorus in a gripping rendition of the African American folk song, Been in the Storm as Banks exclaimed, ‘Give me Time to Pray.’
African American Folksong Joy in my Heart, arranged and introduced by Dr. Rollo Dilworth of Temple University, was a beautiful and hopeful song made more enchanting by the visually-engaging technology and the heart shaped graphics that framed the adorable and angelic-sounding Children’s Chorus.
Boston Children’s Museum’s President Carole Charnow introduced the moving classic African American Spiritual Let Me Fly with Edith Mae’s poem written during for the Civil Rights Movement, Fight on Little Children in memory of Emmett Til.
Other highlights included Nina Simone’s protest song, Mississippi Goddam introduced by KingBoston’s Executive Director Paris Jeffries. It was a fast paced, quick witted, impactful song mastered by the Boston Children’s Chorus and enhanced by clever, visually-engaging technology.
Boston Children’s Chorus dedicated Alicia Keys’s catchy, meaningful song Underdog to Frontline Workers and everyone who is risking their lives during the pandemic. The BCC delivered seamless harmonies accentuated by a beautiful montage of Boston.
Adorned in an elegant dress, actress and soloist E. Faye Butler joined the Boston Children’s Chorus in a performance of Stevie Wonder’s poignant, yet uplifting rendition of Love’s in Need of Love Today. It was easy to hear the enthusiasm in Butler’s warm and soaring vocals as she sang, ‘Don’t delay/Send yours right away’ as the group offered a sorely needed message with such relevance today and so in tune with MLK’s continuing mission.
BCC’s Born on the Water is still available to stream on their Facebook page and YouTube channel. Click here to learn more about the Boston Children’s Chorus, their upcoming events, digital offerings, how to join, and how to support their mission.
Viewing Warwick Film’s unconventional and heartwarming romantic comedy Love, Repeat makes this city lover long to return to New York City. Steeped in New York City’s pinnacle, snow-covered beauty and featuring some of the city’s most iconic landmarks in muted enchantment brings on a wistful feeling. New York City not only provides this film’s idyllic ambiance, but is portrayed as its own active character in James, an auspicious person who feels like he lucked out in love to his wife Barbara until they suddenly divorce. James feels much like Manhattan, a lonely island.
Whether you are still feeling the holiday spirit as any Hallmark movie fan would be or looking for a lighthearted tale of love and loss, Love, Repeat delivers. January is also nestled between the close of the holiday season and the anticipation of Valentine’s Day. Warwick Film’s Love, Repeat is available to stream and on DVD. Click here for more information on the film and how to watch Love, Repeat.
Written, executive produced, and starring Bill Connington as James, Love, Repeat largely portrays the difficult part of love. It explores the kind of love that is tested after things go right, but done in a way that is optimistic, humorous, and never bereft of hope.
The setting may be idyllic, but this is not a tale of beautiful people with beautiful problems that are easily solved. Love, Repeat boasts a dynamic, strong, and quirky cast helmed by Bill Connington as earnest, stoic and quietly romantic James Anderson. Connington endearingly depicts James’s tension and hesitation as he wades into this unexpected period in his life while his artistic ex-wife Barbara, amiably portrayed by Leenya Rideout, seems ready to move on. The pair possess a sweet and familiar chemistry. There is nothing quite like getting romantic advice from your son and Maxwell Purushothanan as their bright, albeit blunt son Chris receives the lion’s share of the laughs. Stu Richel as Phillip, James’s football-loving father resembles that “shoot-from-the-hip” charisma portrayed in Martin Crane from the hit TV show Frasier.
Marcus Ho as Chad and Nandita Shenoy as Lavanya are James’s chic and wildly dramatic friends as they amusingly swing from passionate to cynical at times in the very same scene. The film also has its share of good naturedly silly moments including a spontaneous dance sequence and Vivia Font who deems a noteworthy portrayal as increasingly obsessive and comically driven Camilla.
The story is a bit rushed at times and it would have been nice to get more insight into Barbara’s character, but the characters are relatable enough to stay invested while delivering an authentic message about love, risk, acceptance, and relationships while taking in those marvelous city views.
Warwick Film’s Love, Repeat is available to stream and on DVD. Click here for more information on the film and how to watch Love, Repeat.
2020 has made an indelible impact on our society affecting family life, schools, businesses, the arts, and the very nature in which we live. When Urban Nutcracker returned for its 19th season in 2019 and took the stage at Boch Center’s Shubert Theatre, it delivered dazzling style, live, multi-genre music, and the thrill of a classic tale with a unique perspective. It was one of the many inventive performances taking the stage at Shubert Theatre or at any venue in Boston during the holiday season.
Seeing it now evokes an air of wistfulness. Being a lover of city life in Boston for decades, seeing it now makes me long for Boston’s exciting streets, sit in the Boston Common, walk through Faneuil Hall in its crowded, bustling glory, and watch people marvel at the lights and holiday spirit of the city. Make Way for Ducklings, the Duck Boats, the Boston Harbor, live music at the Hatch Shell, and the crowds filing into Fenway Park are a memory this year. Especially at this glorious time of year, the warmth of the holidays in phenomenal Boston fills this city-lover’s mind with nostalgia and an enduring fondness for its boundless energy and heart. How it is missed.
Filmed in 2019 at the Boston’s Shubert Theatre and featuring the City Ballet of Boston, Tony Williams Dance Center’s Urban Nutcracker continues streaming for free for its 20th anniversary through Christmas Eve. Click here to see the show and more information on Tony Williams Dance Center.
The dynamic orchestra is the first to set the show’s immersive tone as they greet the setting audience traveling through the aisles playing their horn-infused, big band sound on instruments stringed in colorful lights. As the band settles inside a replica of the Hatch Shell above the stage amid Janie Howland’s amazing scenic design, identifiable landmarks such as the CITGO sign, Massachusetts State House, and Downtown Boston’s Custom House Clock Tower are set strategically on Boston’s city skyline. The orchestra plays above the performers, delivering a robust sound in a plethora of music styles that match the cornucopia of festive costumes by Dustin Todd Rennels and Rebecca Cross as cultures from around the world unite onstage.
When Tchaikovsky, Duke Ellington, and David Berger combine for the eclectic score musically directed by Bill Whitney, it is a journey of unfettered entertainment. Urban Nutcracker has a modern, relaxed, family-friendly vibe which is depicted in the show’s bright and jubilant colors, an urban-chic apartment with a distinctive tree, and the dance styles intonate a party that could happen anywhere in the city today especially as kids gather for a picture using a selfie stick.
Urban Nutcracker depicts all the classic scenes from Tchikovsky’s production with an inviting twist featuring a diverse, multi-talented cast. In a magnificent coat and top hat, Gianni Di Marco is captivating as wise, charismatic and exuberant Drosselmeyer. He not only wows adults and children alike with tricks and presents, but his sweet interactions with Ruby, portrayed by enchanting Juliet Brown and Stella Kotter, provide some of Urban Nutcracker’s most memorable moments.
Khalid Hill dazzles in multiple roles, but his tap dancing shines most on the city streets as dancers synchronize beats on trash cans. Ronnie Thomas is excellent as a funky soldier doll bouncing and coasting around the stage.
The Snow Queen and King, portrayed by Ruth Whitney and Joe Gonzalez, is the picture of elegance surrounded by luminous snowflake dancers and a glittering view of the Boston Common. Gonzalez also delivers a visually-rich and daring performance in a duet with Ruth Whitney as Arabian dancers.
Betsy Boxberger Khalil stuns as the Sugar Plum Fairy not only in a beautiful, upbeat solo but in a later performance with Joe Gonzalez and Gianni Di Marco during a jazz-infused Nutcracker Suite. The lifts themselves are spectacular.
Several fun performances included athletic hula hoop dancers featuring Kendra Frank, a high-energy performance featuring skilled, tap-dancing workmen, Urban Nutcracker’s amusing answer to Bo Peep, but Urban Nutcracker’s answer to Make Way for Duckling featuring Michael Oliver Slayton as a tap dancing cop and an adorable troupe of ducklings led by Simone Wolfhorst, is a favorite, an unforgettable and endearing performance.
Urban Nutcracker offers something for everyone without being boxed into any particular music taste while also delivering a timeless message of the season. It also pays unparallel tribute to Boston and if you are feeling nostalgic for the city, make sure to see this show.
Tony Williams Dance Center’s Urban Nutcracker continues streaming for free through Christmas Eve 2020. Click here for more information, how to access the show, and how to support this organization.