‘I’ve just met a girl named Maria/And suddenly that name/will never be the same/to me.”
Having seen the classic musical West Side Story from the stage to the 1961 film adaptation to Spielberg’s recent Oscar worthy film, Reagle Music Theatre’s Blake Du Bois as Tony’s moving rendition of the classic song, Maria is a must see. Many Tonys have floated through this number with surprise, naiveté, and the excitement of attraction while blinded by love, but Du Bois’s delivery evokes a more meaningful perspective. Enhanced by his extensive vocal range, this soulful rendition depicts not naiveté, not necessarily blindness, but an overwhelming feeling of love for Maria and the fear of what that means. So overcome by love that he must move forward in spite of it. It was like understanding Maria anew.
Sharply directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone with seamless musical direction by Dan Rodriguez, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston delivered powerful and clever performances as it kicked off its summer musical season with West Side Story continuing through July 16 at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston live and in person in Waltham, MA. This show is not intended for children under 13. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is the timeless tale of the Sharks and the Jets, two rival gangs who cannot seem to coexist in Manhattan without a fight. However, when Blake Du Bois as streetwise Tony and Eevie Perez as idyllic Maria lock eyes, everything quickly becomes complicated.
Helmed by a captivating cast, Reagle Music Theatre’s West Side Story is intriguing from the start as it lays out mischief, antics and petty outrage over owning the streets. A broad city landscape, chain linked fences, a retro jukebox and detailed drug store are just part of Janie Howland’s retro, rolling set that successfully rewinds the clock back to the 1950s.
A great deal of West Side Story hinges on its sharp dance and fight choreography and director and choreographer Bertone hits the ground running. Along with Fight and Intimacy Director Angie Jepson, the high-kicking choreography blurs the lines between dance and fighting as the gangs intertwine in innovative and precise movements. A leap becomes a punch and aggressiveness turns graceful…all in the same move. Jack Mullen delivers an intense performance as the tough talking, swaggering Jet leader Riff, especially during a catchy and memorable rendition of Cool as each tense moment pops to Franklin Meissner, Jr’s intricate lighting. Mullen as Riff and Du Bois as Tony share some affable camaraderie as they do with their fellow Jets and their fair share of united animosity toward the Sharks. Nate Walsh stood out as hot head Action, on edge and ready for a fight while Gracin Wilkins delivers a stirring performance as outcast Anybodys.
Eevie Perez is charming and spot on as Maria, her chiming vocals and naiveté especially evident with Ana Viveros as Consuela, Marissa Pineda as Rosalia, and Karina Gonzalez as Tesesita in the exuberant and playful number, I Feel Pretty and in a gorgeous duet with Du Bois as Tony for One Hand, One Heart. Tall and distinctive, charismatic Bianca Rivera-Irions as Anita knows how to make an entrance in a show stopping red dress, just one of the many rich, vintage, and vibrant costumes provided by Tiffany Howard. A lively dancer, Rivera-Irions as Anita stands out in any room as only Anita can. Rivera-Irions as Anita and Diego Klock-Perez as proud and protective Shark leader Bernardo share lighthearted and steamy chemistry. The dynamic cast performs an exhilarating rendition of Tonight, their robust sound and stirring harmonies build the anticipation and excitement of a night that will change everything.
Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston presents musical classic West Side Story continues through July 16 at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston live and in person in Waltham, MA. This show is not intended for children under 13. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Genesis and Rashad think they know each other well. This lovable couple jokes, knows each other’s likes, quirks, habits, and dreams, and yet in one night, they start to see each other in a new and unfamiliar way.
With multi-layer direction by Jacqui Parker, Lyric Stage Company presents Loy A. Webb’sThe Light through June 26 at Lyric Stage Company live and in person in Boston, Massachusetts. The show is 70 minutes long with no intermission and is Lyric Stage’s final show of the season. This show contains mature topics. Click here for more information and tickets.
Elmer Martinez’s expressive lighting enhances the evocative nature of this production. It is a meaningful show hinging on the strengths of its leads and Yewande Odetoyinbo as school principal Genesis and Dominic Carter as firefighter Rashad are more than up to the task. While both characters are stubborn, Odetoyinbo’s grounded and witty nature as Genesis strikes an important balance with Carter’s optimistic and playful sense of humor as Rashad. Carter is charismatically charming and leads in some of the production’s funniest moments while Odetoyinbo as Genesis is best as the tension builds. It is a joy to watch as they zing each other, tease, dream about the future, debate, and share some of their most treasured memories together. Their innate and compelling chemistry attract such a fondness for this couple that it is easy to get lost in what seems like their complete compatibility.
However, realizations and revelations run deep on this special night. Webb’s clever script invites the audience into this couple’s intimate relationship in all its charms with some passing notes of underlying resentment while carefully laying its cards on the table and raising the stakes through every twist and turn. Odetoyinbo and Carter are a true force as they approach the humor, tension and the difficult and serious topics with compassion.
The Light makes the most out of its 70 minute run time. It has good pacing and escalates quickly, fueled by Odetoyinbo and Carter’s natural chemistry as the show veers toward its powerful conclusion.
Lyric Stage Company presents Loy A. Webb’s The Light through June 26 at Lyric Stage Company live and in person in Boston, Massachusetts. The show is 70 minutes long with no intermission and is Lyric Stage’s final show of the season. This show contains mature topics. Click here for more information and tickets.
Whether it was a wink, a smile, Anthony Pires Jr’s mischievous laugh, the crackling chemistry and snappy asides among this multi-talented, finely adorned cast or Central Square Theater’s transformation into a vivid vintage Harlem nightclub, Ain’t Misbehavin’ certainly knows how to throw a roaring party.
With festive lighting by Jeff Adelberg, red cocktail tables and lamps lining a gold-embroidered stage that frames the intimate, big band orchestra while eye-catching portraits hang on each side of the stage, Jon Savage’s alluring set design immediately sets the mood for an interactive, carefree, spontaneous, and humorous concert event fueled by Fats Waller’s tremendous talent.
Accented by Elizabetta Polito’s distinctive costumes from furs to glimmering garments to slick pinstripe suits and bowler hats, Ain’t Misbehavin’ seamlessly rewinds the clock to the roaring 20s where Harlem nightclubs and speakeasies sprung up for a boisterous night of revelry during the Prohibition era. Kicking off the show with a recording from Fats Waller himself, Ain’t Misbehavin’ reveals Waller’s catchy musical repertoire ranging from exuberant romance to humorous irreverence to playful flirtation while also addressing significant and sobering issues of the era that remain rife today. This incredible cast depicts it all with clever and mesmerizing swagger as well as some measure of illuminating heartache.
Led and enhanced by conductor Dan Rodriguez’s swift and extraordinary piano work especially for the thrilling stride piano number, Handful of Keys, this fiery, six-piece orchestra masters every brass-tinged and drum-laden beat with finesse.
With an vocal aptitude for exciting, big band numbers as well as ardent crooning, a few of this show’s many highlights include Lovely Hoffman’s clever and moving Mean to Me and the sheer energy and vibrant vocals in Yacht Club Swing and The Joint is Jumpin.’
Ain’t Misbehavin’s crackling chemistry is well demonstrated between Lovely Hoffman and Anthony Pires Jr as they deliver a playful duet for the light and amorous number, Honeysuckle Rose. Christina Jones and Jackson Jirard take the stage for a sweet version of I Can’t Give You Anything But Love and Sheree Marcelle and Anthony Pires Jr deliver an equally charming duet for I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter. Accented by Jirard’s limber movements and amazing choreography through hazy lighting, the show takes on a captivating, psychedelic turn as Jirard sings The Viper’s Drag. Anthony Pires Jr shows off big personality and comedic sass for Your Feets too Big before the cast gathers for a heartrending Black and Blue.
The only thing more exciting than the music are the side smirks, irritated looks and onstage antics clearly hinting of the juicy drama happening between cast members behind the scenes, though it is all part of a show that thrives on the audience’s enthusiasm and interaction. Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a riveting musical celebration for a multi-talented musician clearly ahead of his time.
Central Square Theater and The Front Porch Arts Collective continues sensational Ain’t Misbehavin’ The Fats Waller Musical‘ live and in person at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA through Sunday, May 29 before moving to the Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA from June 9 to June 26. Click here for more information and tickets.
Not certain which way is best to tell a love story, but Jason Robert Brown certainly makes a powerful argument by the innovative way this story is told as Lyric Stage Company ’s musical The Last Five Years continues through December 12 at the Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The show is 90 minutes with no intermission.
Directed intuitively by Leigh Barrett with eloquent musical direction by Dan Rodriguez, The Last Five Years describes an ardent romance between a promising writer and an up and coming actress. It’s blissful love at first sight when suddenly, life goes into overdrive.
Having seen the 2014 film adaptation of the same name starring Broadway dynamos Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick, I had high hopes for this production and like Jamie Wellerstein and Cathy Hiatt, fell for both immediately. The Last Five Years is a compelling, poignant and multi-dimensional journey of love’s elation, humor, compromise, and struggle as life veers into unexpected directions. The Last Five Years doesn’t hold back in revealing the complex nature of this blossoming relationship, showing its vibrancy and its cracks in equal measure. How do two people stay afloat when life is throwing so many things at them in completely different ways?
Intimately performed in theatre-in-the-round with a seamless six piece band, the beauty in Lyric Stage Company’s The Last Five Years is not only in its wonderful lead casting with married couple Jared Troilo as Jamie and Kira Troilo as Cathy, but in its unique depiction of time and place through a cosmic and multi-functional rotating stage and the engaging way it consistently involves the audience.
Jamie and Cathy are earnest and likable and their faults are seen and met with sympathy, heartache, and a degree of discernment when they don’t perceive their own shortcomings. It’s an intriguing and thought-provoking piece as it explores a kaleidoscope of emotions with intensity and realism and perhaps recognizing yourself in their shoes for a moment or two.
Having witnessed amazing Jeremy Jordan as Jamie in the film adaptation, Jared had a lot to live up to, but he captures the essence of Jamie’s endless humor, charm, and determination while adding his own contagious enthusiasm and captivating vocals. He is a gleeful and conspiring storyteller for The Schmuel Song and displays ego and earnest sincerity in If I Didn’t Believe in You. Kira’s soaring vocals depict Cathy’s fragility, sheer determination, and playful optimism in I Can Do Better Than That. Another highlight involves Kira reflecting on A Summer in Ohio, portraying Cathy’s dry sense of humor and insecurity. However, she is the most enchanting in Goodbye until Tomorrow.
Jenna McFarland-Lord’s enthralling set design and Karen Perlow’s mood-induced lighting reflects two sides of love through its multi-color backdrops such as violet, teal, and purple as well as floating gold rings that shine alone and in pairs.
Jason Robert Brown’s music ebbs and flows much like love from bright to poignant, confident to humbling, and from rueful to triumphant. No matter how love changes, it is always a memorable journey.
Lyric Stage Company presents Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years through December 12 at Lyric Stage Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here more information and tickets.
Like so many Hitchcock creations, it’s complicated. However, though this Hitchcock production is presented during Halloween season, please don’t let that scare you away. The 39 Steps is based on John Buchan’s 1915 thriller novel by the same name, was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock into a classic British film in 1935, and adapted to the stage by Patrick Barlow. Though The 39 steps will certainly keep the audience on its toes, it has more than its share of comedic moments sure to deliver more laughter than frights.
Greater Boston Stage Company joyfully returned indoors to present Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller comedy mystery, The 39 Steps which continues through Sunday, October 10 at the Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA. The show runs approximately 2 hours and 15 min including an intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
Directed imaginatively by llyse Robbins, this dynamic crime noir boasts plenty of vintage flair as well as adventure, romance, comedy, and suspense. However, what really makes this show such fun is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The 39 Steps pay tribute to Hitchcock’s body of works with a catchy story while spoofing some of his most famous works along the way. Vertigo and Rear Window is just a portion of the Hitchcock Easter eggs run amok in this production. Some of the dark and witty humor from The 39 Steps call to mind humor likened to other murder mystery comedy classics including Clue.
Shelley Barish’s modest and multi-functional set design, Daisy Long’s mercurial lighting, and Andrew Duncan Will’s exceptional, carefully-timed sound effects play a pivotal role in some of the production’s most humorous scenes. Moveable set pieces transform each scene and costume designer Rachel Padula-Shufelt’s colorful gowns, dynamic wigs, and tweed and paisley suits enliven the production’s vintage noir atmosphere.
Taking on this production was no small feat for its four stellar actors who depict a total of 150 characters. However, they were more than up for the task as they sometimes cleverly and quite literally switch roles at the drop of a hat or within seconds. With impeccable timing and snappy chemistry, these dynamic performers bring to life a variety of accents and deliver a great deal of physical comedy while delivering sharp and at times quirky dialogue.
Paul Melendy portrays Richard Hannay with a mix of bumbling and debonair charm. Set in Scotland, he is a man on the run after a chance encounter with a femme fatale in all her forms by Grace Experience, leading to a murder mystery. What Grace Experience does particularly well is though she depicts each character distinctly, they all have the same familiar strength, resourcefulness, and truthfulness as the tale unfolds. With Russell Garrett and KP Powell quite often after Hannay, it’s a madcap adventure with high jinx galore and likable characters that range from a ludicrous man with ridiculous eyebrows to a flirtatious and outspoken innkeeper. Some of the scenes are arbitrary and self aware and a couple of gags get a bit repetitive, yet fit right into the production’s silly charm.
Take a break from these difficult times and escape down Greater Boston Stage Company’s unconventional, madcap, and lighthearted The 39 Steps continuing through Sunday, October 10. Click here for more information, tickets, and for a closer look at Greater Boston’s Stage Company’s 22nd season.
Lexus Broadway in Boston’s heartwarming and meaningful musical, Waitress the Musical, shows that life’s most important answers can be found in a pie. Currently on a national tour, Waitress, with book by Jessie Nelson, music and lyrics by Tony and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles and featuring an all female production team, oozes with southern charm as baker Jenna, portrayed passionately by Desi Oakley, finds herself pregnant and falling in love with her doctor.
Desi Oakley as Jenna in the national tour of Waitress, photo by Joan Marcus and courtesy of Broadway in Boston
With a cast of colorful and comical characters and based on the 2007 film of the same name starring Keri Russell, Waitress served its best in Boston from February 20 through March 4 at the Boston Opera House. Click here to see where Waitress will be taking the stage next and here for more on Lexus Broadway in Boston.
From a bright neon sign and red chrome booths to clever choreography that gives diner dancing a fresh, new meaning, the majority of Waitress is set inside the vintage and picturesque Joe’s Pie Diner. Impressive songs range from catchy to reflective and numbers like When He Sees Me and Opening Up are sure to stay with the audience long after the show is over.
Full of heart, what Waitress the Musical achieves is a delicate balance of the sweetness and realism of life, delving into the lives of a group of dynamic characters who dream of a better life. Jenna expresses her thoughts on life through the humorous titles she deems to Joe’s Diner Pie of the Day.
Nick Bailey & Desi Oakley in the national tour of Waitress, photo by Joan Marcus and Matthew Murphy and courtesy of Broadway in Boston
Desi Oakley delivers a powerful, inspiring performance as Jenna. She depicts Jenna’s complex web of emotions with a blend of dark humor and a note of hope. Her voice is as versatile as the pies she bakes and her intense rendition of She Used to Be Mine is one of the show’s greatest highlights. Her irresistible chemistry and beautiful harmony with compassionate and mysterious Bryan Fenkart as Dr. Pomatter are engaging in the playful Bad Idea and the tender You Matter to Me. Dressed in a plaid shirt, worn jeans, and tied back hair, Nick Bailey as Earl is manipulative and gruff with a rich, rock n roll voice.
Maiesha McQueen, Desi Oakley & Bryan Fenkart in the national tour of Waitress, photo by Joan Marcus and Matthew Murphy and courtesy of Broadway in Boston
With big earrings and wild hair, Charity Angel Dawson offers a great deal of comic relief as outspoken and wise cracking waitress Becky. Passionate and direct, Becky is captivating in the number, I Didn’t Plan It and her onstage charisma will have the audience hanging on her every word.
Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley & Lenne Klingaman in the national tour of Waitress, photo by Joan Marcus and Matthew Murphy and courtesy of Broadway in Boston
In bright, red glasses, Lenne Klingaman portrays Dawn with her own, magnetic, comedic timing. Dreamy and shy, Dawn calls herself “a woman of many passions.” She is unforgettable singing the yearning number, When He Sees Me. With Jeremy Morse as scene stealing Ogie, they are a comedic force to be reckoned with. Gleeful and goofy with a habit of over sharing, Jeremy Morse has even the cast trying to keep a straight face. Morse’s comic timing is a bungle of flawless, unsuppressed energy.
Lenne Klingaman & Jeremy Morse in the national tour of Waitress, photo by Joan Marcus and Matthew Murphy and courtesy of Broadway in Boston
Larry Marshall, with a wonderful laugh and a curmudgeonly personality, portrays difficult customer and diner owner, Joe. A complicated storyteller with more insight than he seems, his conversations with Jenna is full of humor and openness. Speaking to the uplifting spirit of this charming show, Joe proclaims, “Baking a pie is a magical experience.”
Desi Oakley & Larry Marshall in the national tour of Waitress, photo by Joan Marcus and Matthew Murphy and courtesy of Broadway in Boston
Click here to see where Waitress the Musical arrives next. Lexus Broadway in Boston announces their new season on Monday, March 18 and is just getting started with popular musicals, On Your Feet, Disney’s Aladdin, Hamilton, and more. Click here for more information, tickets, and upcoming news. Follow Lexus Broadway in Boston on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
For Performing Arts news, interviews, reviews, and much more in Boston and beyond, follow us on Facebook @sleeplesscritic and subscribe.
In a season filled with extraordinary contemporary and classic performances, the Boston Ballet continues its 2017-18 season with the debut of Obsidian Tear. Choreographed by Wayne McGregor, The Boston Ballet takes on a gripping exploration of raw human emotion as Obsidian Tear makes its North American debut from Friday, November 3 through Sunday, November 12. Co-produced with the Royal Ballet, full of athletic grace, and inspired by poetry by Esa Pekka Salonen, Obsidian Tear depicts the powerful impact emotion makes on society, in all of its extremes. The second half of the show features the world premiere of Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius, choreographed by Jorma Elo.
Royal Ballet Artist Calvin Richardson in Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear; photo by Andrej Uspenski, courtesy The Royal Ballet
The Boston Ballet concludes 2017 with the triumphant return of Tchaikovsky’s beloved holiday classic, Mikko Nissinen’sThe Nutcracker from Friday, November 24 through Sunday, December 31. Starting in March 2018, The Boston Ballet mixes the classic with the contemporary with Parts in Suite, combining the imagination of esteemed choreographers William Forsythe, Justin Peck, and Jorma Elo from Friday, March 9 through Saturday, April 7, 2018. Two crowd pleasing romantic classics take the stage with Romeo and Juliet from Thursday, March 15 through Sunday, April 8 and Sleeping Beauty from Friday, May 11 through Saturday, May 19. Explore beauty and the pursuit of everlasting love with Classic Balanchine from Thursday, May 17 through Saturday, June 9 and La Sylphide from Thursday, May 24 through Sunday, June 10.
Royal Ballet Artist Calvin Richardson in Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear; photo by Andrej Uspenski, courtesy The Royal Ballet
Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Edward Watson and Soloist Eric Underwood in Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear; photo by Andrej Uspenski, courtesy The Royal Ballet
Royal Ballet Soloist Matthew Ball in Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear; photo by Andrej Uspenski, courtesy The Royal Ballet
Click here for tickets, call 617-695-6955, or visit the Boston Ballet box office at 19 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. All performances are held at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Subscriptions and group rates are also available. Follow the Boston Ballet on Facebook and Twitter.
Hingham Civic Music Theatre is searching for an all-new, fun-loving cast to join Shrek the Musical as it makes its Hingham debut in October. Auditions for Shrek the Musical will be held at the Sanborn Auditorium at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street in Hingham, Massachusetts on Monday, June 26 and Tuesday, June 27 at 7 p.m. Callbacks will take place on Wednesday, June 28 at 7 p.m. Click here for more information on auditions, cast descriptions, rehearsal schedule, and to download the audition form. These will be closed auditions.
Shrek is a lone, but not lonely, green ogre who lives a quiet swamp life until life as he knows it is threatened, forcing him to embark on a daunting quest and tremendous adventure. Featuring a large cast of beloved fairy tale characters with a few new faces added to the tale, Shrek the Musical is a parody, offering its own fairy tale twist with plenty of witty humor, family fun, and life lessons.
Directed by Lisa Pratt, musically directed by Mark Bono, with choreography by Tara McSweeney Morrison, Hingham Civic Music Theatre presents Shrek the Musical for two weekends from Saturday, October 21 through Sunday, October 29. Follow Hingham Civic Music Theatre on Facebook for upcoming events and more.
From the first few angelic notes from one of Oklahoma’s most popular songs, Oh What a Beautiful Morning sung a capella by Jack Cappadona as charismatic Curly, it is easy to see that Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s (HCMT) spring musical is something special. Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s Oklahoma! combines elegant costuming, an impressive, distinctive cast, and an interactive set that makes the audience settle into its own home on the range. With its wealth of historical references weaved into Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic soundtrack capturing the spirit of the time, it is no wonder that Oklahoma! won the Pulitzer Prize for musical composition in 1944 and remains relevant today. Hingham Civic Music Theatre delivers the show’s joyous zest for life, comedy, and, make no mistake, dark moments with zing and suspense.
Michael Andre as Ali Hakim and the cast of ‘Oklahoma’ Photo courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
Directed by Nathan Fogg and musically directed by Sandee Brayton with choreography by Tara Morrison, Hingham Civic Music Theatre offers two remaining performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, Oklahoma! on Saturday, April 29 and a Sunday matinee on April 30 at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets. Tickets are also available at the door.
Based on Lynn Riggs’ play, Green Grow the Lilacs, an interactive, colorful, and rustic set rewinds the clock to the Oklahoma Indian Territory at the turn of the century, equipped with softly flickering lanterns, vintage photos, bales of hay, colorful blossoms, lush greenery, and interactive props hanging on the walls. In this particular production, the lighting is its own character, effectively setting the mood from a soft, rising sun to a nightmarish hue.
The splendid costumes, by Kathryn Ridder, are meticulously-detailed from gold embroidered shirts, brightly-colored satin costumes to delicate, richly-designed dresses with thick bows and petticoats. Whether it is a cow scarf adorning an outfit or a carefully matched wicker hat, those details wonderfully capture the authenticity of the time.
Ruggedly dressed in suede chaps over khaki pants with a button down shirt and cowboy boots, Jack Cappadona portrays Curly McLain with an imaginative streak and a confident and at times, a mischievous smile. Whether engaging C.J. Hawes as Laurey in a whimsical carriage ride during the playful song, TheSurrey with the Fringe on the Top or musing about life in Oh What a Beautiful Morning, with silvery vocals, Jack slides right into the role as Curly with a natural charm. With curly red hair and green striped overalls, C.J. Hawes portrays sassy, levelheaded Laurey with great comedic timing and sardonic wit. Jack as Curly and C.J. as Laurey are enchanting together and their soaring vocals make beautiful harmony.
Jack Cappadona as Curly and C.J. Hawes as Laurey Photo courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
With thick curly hair, bright eyes, and a deep drawl, Rylan Vachon portrays Will as fun loving, somewhat hotheaded, and spontaneous. Will’s rendition of the song, Kansas City, has never been more fun with lively vocals and slick choreography as The Territory Boys stomp, slide, and perform various stunts. The entire cast captures the distinct spirit of Oklahoma! in all its stomping, sweeping joy.
Rylan Vachon as Will Parker and Jess Phaneuf as Ado Annie Photo courtesy of HCMT
Jess Phaneuf as Ado Annie brings a wild-eyed vivaciousness to the role. She seems to know how to take command of any room she is in one way or another with a wink and a grin. Her interaction with any cast member is fascinating and her comic timing is infallible. Her chemistry with both Will and Michael Andre as bewildered peddler Ali Hakim, have their own distinct charm. Michael Andre as Ali Hakim does a great job of balancing a dynamic character with comedy and cleverness.
Jess Phaneuf as Ado Annie and Michael Andree as Ali Hakim Photo courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
Athan Mantalos portrays disheveled, hired hand Jud with a slow burn and deep, compelling, operatic- sounding baritone. Athan masters this role in the quiet moments, adding tension and making his character that much more mysterious. His scenes with Curly are especially powerful and their vocals have seamless harmony.
Athan Matalos as Jud Fry and Jack Cappadona as Curly Photo Courtesy of Eileen McIntyre/HCMT
With spectacles and a high collared dress, Kate Fitzpatrick brings sensibility and a bit of sarcasm to the role of Aunt Eller, who is much wiser than she lets on. Emily Gouillart as Gertie Cummings is a great deal of awkward fun with an unmistakable laugh.
Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s Oklahoma! offers its share of romance, comedy, and plenty of uproarious moments, but dark moments as well. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote their second musical, Carousel, shortly after Oklahoma’s success and both shows share some of the same themes. Hingham Civic Music Theatre delicately weaves in the themes of loneliness, temptation, and violence effectively, balancing this timeless tale.
Hingham Civic Music Theatre offers two remaining performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, Oklahoma! on Saturday, April 29 and a Sunday matinee on April 30 at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets. Tickets are also available at the door. Be sure to follow Hingham Civic Music Theatre on Facebook and click here to learn how to support HCMT’s upcoming productions.
A spectacular evening of comedy, romance, and award-winning music is in store with Chorus pro Musica’s concert version of Gershwin Of Thee I Sing on Saturday, May 13 at Robbins Memorial Town Hall in Arlington, Massachusetts at 8 p.m. In the spirit of the show, concert attendees are encouraged to dress in 30s-inspired attire for a costume contest. Click here for full details and tickets.
Jamie Kirsch is in his fourth year as Music Director of Chorus pro Musica and loves his work. He offers a closer look into Of Thee I Sing, his incredible work with Chorus pro Musica, and more.
Chorus pro Musica’s Music Director Jamie Kirsch in action Photo courtesy of Alonso Nichols/Tufts University
Jeanne Denizard: What I absolutely love about Gershwin Of Thee I Sing is it is part concert and part theatrical production. It has comedy and romance as well.
Jamie Kirsch: Yeah, writers definitely have called it a work. It is a unified single where there’s no instantly recognizable tune in this show in the way one would recognize other Gershwin’s most famous songs from musicals that can be extracted and don’t have anything necessarily to do with the plot. They don’t appear in the best of Gershwin albums because for the most part, everything is tied to that story. There might be one or two songs that someone might recognize such as the title song of Of Thee I Sing and certainly people have recorded the song, Who Cares, but no song that would be on people’s top ten list of pieces they know because they bought a greatest hits album or a Michael Feinstein album. They are wonderful songs, but they are all tied to the book.
JD: I also understand that this is the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize.
JK: It did win the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. Everyone won the Pulitzer except for George Gershwin because there was no Music Pulitzer at the time. Ira, Kaufman, and Ryskind got it. I think actually it was awarded to George posthumously where there finally was a music Pulitzer.
JD: Of Thee I Sing surrounds the election of John P. Wintergreen and deals with politics in a humorous and lighthearted way. I understand you really were excited about this particular piece to add to the season more for the music than for its political statement though we had a heated election just recently.
JK: Yes, it doesn’t make a political statement one way or another. There is no political party mentioned, making fun of both sides equally. We also picked the piece well over a year ago. The current players in the real world were still in the primaries and no one had any inkling of what was to transpire and how unexpected it would be.
Numerous colleges and universities did the show right around the election. It is remarkable how many across the entire country, even major schools of music. The University of Michigan did it in October and November knowing what was going on. We had the same idea, hoping it would be a relevant topic but we didn’t plan for any outcome either way. Separate from the political stuff, it happens to be a musical dominated by choruses and it made perfect sense to do it with our chorus.
JD: Now, are you going to be performing a lot of scenes from the show?
JK: Yes, it is a concert version. We’re doing most of it, just without the staging.
JD: I understand it has some comedy and a bit of romance as well.
JK: Absolutely, there are elements common to musical theatre. People talk about how different it is from anything else Gershwin wrote, but the other side of that coin is a love triangle. Certainly plenty of musicals have love triangles and also present is an element of the exotic where a French ambassador arrives in the second act and that happens throughout many other musicals. It’s new, but it has ties to the standard, more traditional musical theatre.
JD: It sounds like there will be lots of surprises.
JK: Yes, there will be musical surprises. It has a Gershwin, jazzy sound and Gershwin rhythms and syncopation, but it is really unique. There are scenes that go on and on and mostly music for a good ten minutes. It’s kind of like Gilbert and Sullivan in that way. That is an example of a piece of music that cannot be extracted. You are not going to perform that at a musical theatre cabaret as you would with another Gershwin tune.
JK: They are three of the best singers around town and the city and I have worked with a couple of them before. They are just wonderful, so flexible, and able to handle this repertoire and style as easily as they are able to handle early and baroque music. They are so incredibly versatile, talented, and wonderful actors. Having them on board for this production is very special.
JD: You are also the sixth Music Director of Chorus pro Musica. The chorus has existed close to 70 years. What is it like to conduct this chorus?
JK: It’s a joy. The musicians are incredibly hard working, love challenging themselves, conquering major works, and striving for excellence. They are so supportive of each other, collegial, and just wonderful people. They care so much about the product and each other, the chorus, and its history.
Chorus pro Musica group shot Photo courtesy of Eric Antoniou
I’m very grateful to be able to do the things that we do with Chorus pro Musica. In this season alone, we have done maybe the greatest work by Beethoven and some of the greatest works by Mahler. Then we move on to Gershwin. We are dealing with pretty amazing people. I’ve written some amazing music and this chorus is up for the challenge to perform these pieces at an extremely high level while also keeping a good balance of fun while we do it.
JD: This is your fourth year with Chorus pro Musica, but I understand that you are involved in a lot of projects. You’re a busy man in music.
JK: Yes, I am fortunate enough to be on the music faculty at Tufts as my main job and finishing my seventh year there. It’s a wonderful job and I work with amazing colleagues who are at the tops of their field and teaching theory and musicology. I teach in a beautiful building with supportive faculty and administration and wonderful students. We recently did the Mozart C Minor mass. Yes, between Chorus pro Musica and Tufts, I’m a pretty lucky person.
Family Holiday Concert 2014 Boston City Singers Photo courtesy of Chorus pro Musica
JD: Do you have a favorite piece of music you like to conduct or a piece you are hoping to conduct with Chorus pro Musica?
JK: One of the great things about the Chorus is that they are able to handle everything from a candlelight Christmas concert to Beethoven’s greatest works to Gershwin to new, modern pieces. One of our strong suits is commissioning new works so we are commissioning brand new works by new composers. They are able to handle any style, genre, and that is what I like to do. It keeps things interesting for me and for the singers to switch gears from month to month. Just to be able to be flexible in that way so the chorus matches my strength and my wanting to keep exploring, pushing, challenging, finding new, undiscovered music, create new music, commission new music, so I think in that way, it’s a very good match.
Chorus pro Musica with the New England Philharmonic and the Providence Singers, performing Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, March 14, 2012 in Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
JD: You’ve also worked with a few Boston organizations and collaborated with them in the past.
JK: We collaborated with the Boston Philharmonic a number of times and we will continue to do so. We have a wonderful relationship with Ben Zander and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and with Richard Pittman and the New England Philharmonic. We did a number of wonderful collaborations with Richard Pittman. We are always seeking out new collaborations because they are always great fun, enhance the groups, and work out well for everybody.
Click here for tickets to Gershwin Of Thee I Sing on May 13 at 8 p.m. It will be an exciting evening that includes a post-concert reception. Click here for more on Chorus Pro Musica and how to support their mission.