REVIEW: Greater Boston Stage Company’s ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ worth every penny

December 4, 1956 was a pivotal night for rock and roll music as four distinct, legendary performers united for a one-night-only recording experience unlike anything rock and roll would see again.  The egos, the tension, and the harmony.  Oh, the harmony.

Greater Boston Stage Company’s tribute concert musical Million Dollar Quartet is guaranteed to keep your feet tapping, whether you are aware of it or not.  Directed by Ilyse Robbins with Music Direction by James Scheider who also portrays a hilarious Jerry Lee Lewis, Million Dollar Quartet continues through Sunday, May 19 at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.

Accompanied by Trey Lundquist behind the Fluke and Drums and Matthew Pitts as Brother Jay and Bass, Million Dollar Quartet does an exhilarating job of capturing the sound and magic of that musical night long ago featuring Luke Linsteadt as Elvis Presley, Nile Scott Hawver as Carl Perkins, Austin Wayne Price as Johnny Cash, and James Scheider as Jerry Lee Lewis.  With a powerful, authentic sound by John Stone, inventive set design by Patrick Lynch, stylized concert lighting by Jeff Adelberg and Lawrence Ware, and each performer singing and playing their own instruments like the legends themselves, Million Dollar Quartet delivers greatness times four.

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From L to R: James Scheider as Jerry Lee Lewis, Trey Lundquist as Fluke/Drums, Matthew Pitts as Brother Jay/Bass, Nile Scott Hawver as Carl Perkins, Melissa Geerlof as Dyanne, Luke Lundquist as Elvis Presley and Austin Wayne Price as Johnny Cash Photo courtesy of Greater Boston Stage Company

 

On the surface, Million Dollar Quartet seems like the ultimate jam session featuring classic songs such as Blue Suede Shoes, Folsom Prison Blues, Great Balls of Fire, and Ghost Riders, but that is only part of the story.   The show is also about loyalty, a bit of David and Goliath, and knowing real talent from the man behind the music, Sam Phillips, portrayed with forthright affability by Robert Saoud.  Saoud is wonderful as Phillips, a modest, compelling, and insightful narrator.  A genius among record producers, Phillips had a vision and music was all that mattered.

Luke Linsteadt portrays a young, thriving Elvis complete with his familiar, rubbery legs as he keeps the crowd moving with Hound Dog.  Attempting to keep his ego in check is Nile Scott Hawver as Carl Perkins, who was last seen at Speakeasy Stage’s captivating musical, Once.  Though Perkins is the more reserved in the bunch, the story behind Blue Suede Shoes was one of Hawver’s best moments.

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Perfecting Johnny Cash’s guitar style is Austin Wayne Price, taking on the man in black with a soulful quality, his drawn, serious eyes and deep vocals deliver a unique rendition of Walk the Line.  Jeff Scheider relishes the reckless and obnoxious nature of up and coming, bigger-than-his-britches Jerry Lee Lewis.  Scheider is a real scene stealer, delivering some of the funniest one liners in the show while madly sweeping those piano keys.

Though Elvis brought a dancer to the recording studio as his date on that night in 1956, Melissa Geerlof slips into the role of Dyanne, a promising songstress.  She shows she is much more than Elvis’s eye candy singing Fever with an alluring, bluesy growl.

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The cast of Million Dollar Quartet Photo courtesy of Greater Boston Stage Company

Though Million Dollar Quartet features plenty of rock and roll moments, the band’s quieter scenes are just as appealing.  When Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis unite for an acapella version of the spirituals, Down by the Riverside and Peace in the Valley, their clean, silvery harmony is pure perfection.

Greater Boston Stage Company’s Million Dollar Quartet continues through Sunday, May 19 at Greater Boston Stage Company, 395 Main Street in Stoneham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.  Click here for more information on Greater Boston Stage Company’s recently announced 20th season.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Hingham Civic Music Theatre’s ‘Sweet Charity’ has fun, laughs, and the right moves

She’s just a girl in love with love.  Swipe right for a Tony award-winning, romantic musical dramedy instilled with a dose of cynicism, Sweet Charity.  Unforeseen high jinks and adventures find Charity as she makes her way through what can be a harsh reality.  Before Julia Roberts stepped onto the L.A. streets in the popular film, Pretty Woman, Charity wondered Central Park.  Both have a heart of gold.

With music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, book by Neil Simon, and directed by Nathan Fogg, Hingham Civic Music Theatre (HCMT) continues Sweet Charity through Sunday, May 5 at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham, Massachusetts.  This show is for mature audiences and not for young children.  Click here for more information and tickets.

HCMT's 'Sweet Charity' - tap dance

Emilee Leahy as Charity Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

Sweet Charity is one of those rare opportunities to witness a collaboration featuring theatrical icons playwright Neil Simon and director and choreographer Bob Fosse.  Oh yes, and Fosse’s then wife, muse, and dance dynamo Gwen Verdon starred in the musical’s stage debut in the 60s.

Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s influence is still as lively as ever as FX continues Fosse/Verdon, a biographical miniseries starring Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon.  Coincidentally, Fosse/Verdon also covers in part the making of Sweet Charity.  Fosse Fever has certainly been evident as on the South Shore of Massachusetts as two adaptations of Chicago recently took the stage in close succession.

Perhaps it’s the Neil Simon influence, but Sweet Charity seems to tread on the lighter side of Fosse’s popular works.  It has its edgy moments and not for everyone, but Sweet Charity depends much more on humor than darkness.  Though Pretty Woman might be a beloved, yet formulaic tale, Sweet Charity is less predictable and not a by-the-numbers romantic comedy.  The costumes, by Kathryn Ridder and company, are fitted and flashy and the dialogue is snappy and at times, charming.  At one point, Emilee Leahy as Charity sings, “You’re so strong, you have muscles you don’t need.”

 

 

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After portraying resourceful criminal Velma Kelly in Massasoit Theatre Company’s production of Chicago,  Emilee Leahy delivers a breezier performance as coy yet sweet, aware and yet sometimes naïve, hopeful and pensive Charity Hope Valentine.  Charity’s can be a poor judge of character, but Leahy’s Charity proves to be worth rooting for.  She has a pliable vocal range and is certainly light on her feet as she slips into a spontaneous tap routine featuring the famous number, If They Could See Me Now, decked out with a signature Fosse cane and top hat.

Speaking of dance, Sweet Charity offers an array of Fosse-inspired dance sequences, tinged with retro flair.  Choreographer Samantha-Brior Jones, Music Director Sandee Brayton, and Dance Captain Mary Donahue turn up the heat with sharp and distinctive choreography as the Fan-dango Ballroom dancers perform a fierce, steamy, and hip shaking Hey Big Spender.  The sweeping, sophisticated, 60s-inspired Rich Man’s Frug featuring Pompeii Club dancers in all-black has a classic vibe to it while Rhythm of Life is an outrageous, seemingly spiritual journey.

HCMT Sweet Charity - The girls

Kristen Annese as Nickie and Pompeii Club dancers Photo courtesy of Hingham Civic Music Theatre

The characters that Charity encounters seem a bit melodramatic, showing it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  With great New York accents, Kristen Annese as Nickie and Lindsay Warwick as Helene are a plucky, street smart comedy duo.  Their rendition of Baby Dream Your Dream has a lot of reassuring sass and they share playful, if at times mildly-snarky camaraderie with Charity.

Leah Shiels as Ursula and Rob Buckel-Gillis as Vittorio make an exotic celebrity pair, decked out in shimmering attire.   Buckel-Gillis delivers a beautiful rendition of Too Many Tomorrows.  Tony Light is comical as Oscar, a panicked claustrophobic.   Shirtless and in suspenders, Rylan Vachon delivers a wildly energetic, off-the-wall performance as zany preacher Daddy Brubeck.  Mike Warner as Herman also delivers some laughs, but keep an eye on his T-shirts.  Trust me.

Hingham Civic Music Theatre offers two remaining performances of Sweet Charity on Saturday, May 4 and a Sunday matinee on May 5 at the Sanborn Auditorium in Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre presents Disney’s award-winning musical, ‘Beauty and the Beast’

A mysterious candlestick, a robust clock, a talkative dresser, an imperfect cup, and a warm tea pot could very well be the right ingredients to true love.  On the heels of the blockbuster, live action remake of Disney’s blockbuster film starring Emma Watson, Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre proudly presents the spectacular, award-winning Disney musical, Beauty and the Beast from Tuesday, July 11 through Sunday, July 30 at North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road in Beverly, Massachusetts.  Tickets for children up to 18 years old are half price, but no children under the age of 4 are permitted in the theatre.  Click here for further details, tickets, and special performances that feature free post-show talks.

Based on the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast is about a prince who resides in a magical castle under a dark spell. Belle is the beloved child of an inventor who seems more interested in the life of a good tale than reality. When Belle’s father gets lost in the forest, a series of events will test their capacity for compassion and love. With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Asman and Tim Rice, Beauty and the Beast boasts enchanting musical numbers audiences know and love such as Be Our Guest, Belle, Something There, and the musical’s beautiful title track.

Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre kicks off their 2017 musical season with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast from Tuesday, July 11 through Sunday, July 30.  The Mel Brooks musical comedy, Young Frankenstein, the epic musical Evita, the toe tapping 42nd Street, and the return of the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol round out this year’s stellar season.  Follow North Shore Music Theatre on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and more.

The Company Theatre will hold auditions for Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’

While the award-winning Company Theatre continues their sold-out run of Academy of the Company Theatre’s (A.C.T.) musical production of Disney’s The Lion King, Jr. through Sunday, April 30, another Disney production will soon be in the works.  The Company Theatre is going under the sea for the adult version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, with auditions will soon be held on Wednesday, May 3 and callbacks on Thursday, May 4.  Both dates take place at Company Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts at 6:30 p.m.  Click here for further information.

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Company Theatre presents Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ this summer. Courtesy of the Company Theatre

Based on the beloved Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name, The Little Mermaid follows the adventures of Ariel, the mermaid daughter of the mighty king of the sea, King Triton. Accompanied by a crab named Sebastian and a cute little fish named Flounder, Ariel gets a glimpse of a world above the sea and longs to take on that great adventure with unforeseen consequences. Under the Sea, Kiss the Girl, and Part of Your World are just a few of the unforgettable songs composed by Alan Menken from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, a heartwarming story for the entire family.

Directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, choreography by Sally Forrest, and musical direction by Steve Bass, all roles are open for casting and will take place at the Company Theatre Center for the Arts, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. Audition candidates should be strong singers and be prepared to sing a song from the show in the show’s key or a song in a similar musical style. A headshot or snapshot and a resume is preferred at the audition, but not required. Audition candidates may bring their own sheet music, but the music score will be available with accompaniment.  Please dress appropriately to learn and practice a dance combination.

If unable to attend auditions and are located out of state, the Company Theatre is also accepting video submissions at sally@companytheatre.com.  All submissions must be sent by Tuesday, May 2.

Performances for Disney’s The Little Mermaid will be held from Friday, July 28 through Sunday, July 30 and continuing Wednesdays through Sundays through Sunday, August 20.  Click here for tickets and for further information about the auditions, email sally@companytheatre.com, or call 1-781-871-2787.  Family and Friends Friday offers limited amount of discounted tickets for four or more.  Click here for more information about the Company Theatre’s fabulous 2017 season and follow them on Facebook.

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

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

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

SS Conservatory Opening Reception and exhibition

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

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

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

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

Keri McAndrews Trees in Fog at exhibition

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

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

Celebrity Series of Boston’s 78th season boasts big shows and return of Stave Sessions concert series

Having kicked off another sensational season with the return of Pianos in Boston, Celebrity Series of Boston’s 78th season has been offering a broad spectrum of captivating performances in their 41 show lineup including the debut of the Vertigo Dance Company, the Berliner Philharmoniker led by conductor Sam Rattle, as well as Argentine cello star, Sol Gabetta with French pianist Bertrand Chamayou.  Celebrity Series of Boston is taking audiences through the winter and spring with mesmerizing performances by Yo-Yo Ma, The Art of Elegance with Kristin Chenoweth, KODO’s 35th anniversary, and the return of the concert series, Stave Sessions.  Click here for more information and the full calendar.

Presented on the Berklee College of Music campus and sponsored by Susan and Michael Sonis, Margaret Eagle, and Eli Rapoport, Celebrity Series of Boston offers five consecutive nights of dynamic, live music in jazz, classical, indie, Moroccan, and contemporary flavors.  Each night has its own unique feel and takes place from Tuesday, March 21 through Saturday, March 25 at 8:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, March 21, the music festival kicks off with YMusic, a group that combines pop and classical styles followed by award-winning tenor sax player Melissa Aldana on Wednesday, March 22.  Electrifying, 18-piece big band orchestra Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society takes the stage by storm on Thursday, March 23 and Tigue and Innov Gnawa combine Moroccan gnawa music with a contemporary percussion trio on Friday, March 24.  The final night features indie music group, Blond Redhead featuring Acme on Saturday, March 25.  A festival pass gains access to all five shows.

Click here for the full list of performances and for tickets. Subscriptions and gift cards are also available.  Celebrity Series of Boston thrives on support from the community. Click here for a variety of ways to support Celebrity Series of Boston.