REVIEW: Reagle Music Theatre’s ‘La Cage aux Folles’ a rollicking, madcap extravaganza with heart

Robin Williams had many memorable roles, but one of his most amusing roles was alongside Nathan Lane in the 1996 film adaptation of “La Cage Aux Folles,” “The Birdcage.”  Who could forget when Robin gave that dance tutorial?

Though “The Birdcage” was set in Miami Beach, the musical production of “La Cage Aux Folles” is set in Saint Tropez, France.  With European flair and heart, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston presents the wild, gender-bending, and hilarious musical, “La Cage Aux Folles” through Sunday, August 18 at Robinson Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and tickets.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston La Cage aux Folles James Darrah as Albin with the Cagelles

James Darrah as Albin (center) and Les Cagelles Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

A translucent, glittering blue curtain was just a glimpse of the glitz behind it as the musical’s catchy and exotic overture began, peppered with European flair.  Directed by Susan Chebookjian with book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, “La Cage aux Folles” is about Georges (J.T. Turner) who runs a drag night club and Albin (James Darrah) is the show’s star attraction.  When Georges’s son announces his engagement, everyone realizes they are in for a lot more than they bargained for.

With amazing choreography by Susan M. Chebookjian and Daniel Forest Sullivan, “La Cage aux Folles” bursts with color, razzle dazzle, and unlike “The Birdcage,” features a lot more dance numbers delivered by the sharp and athletic Les Cagelles.  The opening, gender bending tune, We Are What We Are, is a nimble display of tight choreography while the signature number, La Cage aux Folles is stylized, bizarre, and fascinating.  The show is also semi-interactive, which contributes to some of the productions most amusing moments.

Matthew Wright and Alison Pugh’s fantastic costumes are flashy, elegant, and over the top featuring wild, multi-colored wigs, shimmering gowns accented with furs and other costumes using an array of materials such as velour and silk with a bit of 70s flair.  The colorful set, by David Allen Jeffrey, is equally exotic featuring velvet couches and gold accents as well as its share of seaside, Mediterranean flavor and little French nuances at Cafe Renaud.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston La Cage aux Folles J.T. Turner as Georges

J.T. Turner as Georges Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

The quirky, madcap cast is an excellent study in contrasting perspectives and family dysfunction.  In a purple velour coat with bowtie, J.T. Turner delivers a charming, comical, and tender performance as Georges.  Love struck and irresistibly likable, Georges is the heart of the show.  He has a beautiful rapport with Jonathan Acorn as his son, Jean-Michel and James Darrah as Albin, delivering heartfelt renditions of Look over There and wistful Song in the Sand.  The impressive comic timing between Turner as Georges and Darrah as Albin doesn’t get much better than during the number, Masculinity, especially while demonstrating their best John Wayne.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston La Cage aux Folles Cafe Renaud

James Darrah as Albin (center), J.T. Turner as Georges (right) and cast Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

James Darrah as Albin, who possesses more than a passing resemblance to Nathan Lane, delivers a dramatic, engaging, and powerful performance as Albin.  Often not so fashionably late, Albin contends with his longing to hide from the world and his undeniable need to make an entrance.  His rendition of I Am What I Am is a Tour de Force performance, the best number of the show.  Full of bravery, yearning, and emotional weight, it is an anthem for those who feel like they do not belong.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston La Cage aux Folles James Darrah as Albin

James Darrah as Albin in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s “La Cage aux Folles” Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Jonathan Acorn as anxious Jean-Michel is madly in love with his fiancée Anne.  She delivers a sweet and earnest performance by Lily Steven.  Theirs is a sweet love story and Acorn’s beautiful timbre is on full display during the affectionate number Anne on my Arm.

The show cuts loose with adventurous and delightful Maureen Brennan as Marie up against Rich Allegretto as relentlessly frowning, disdainful and uptight M. Dindon.   Speaking of cutting loose, Benz Atthakarunpan’s energetic, smirking Jacob delivers more than a few self deprecating moments in outrageous and surprising costumes while Ellen Peterson brings cleverness and a great set of pipes to Jacqueline.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston La Cage aux Folles Dinner

J.T. Turner as Georges, Jonathan Acorn as Jean-Michel, Lily Steven as Anne, Rich Allegretto as Dindon, Maureen Brennan as Marie, and James Darrah as Albin Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

The show is a bit lengthy, but delivers more than its share of laughs from the dynamic and charismatic cast.  With pizzazz and heart, Reagle Music Theater of Greater Boston presents their final musical of the summer, “La Cage Aux Folles” through Sunday, August 18 at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Click here for more information and tickets.  Follow Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston on Twitter and Facebook for upcoming events and more.

REVIEW: Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s ‘The Sound of Music’ a moving summer gem

The Sleepless Critic has reviewed a few beautiful productions of ‘The Sound of Music,’ a riveting true story set in Austria about the resilient Von Trapp family who not only attempt to resist the Nazi regime in 1938 Pre-war Salzburg, but also attempt to move on without their late mother.  A blend of grace, faith and strength in the face of an indelible sadness, no doubt makes it a stirring classic.  Yet, with the exception of Audra McDonald’s brilliant turn as Mother Abbess in NBC’s 2013’s ‘The Sound of Music Live‘ musical, her extraordinary vocals lifting Fox’s arguably mediocre production with this glorious anthem, Climb Every Mountain, the music to ‘The Sound of Music’ has generally never been my favorite.

Make no mistake, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, Academy Award-winning musical score is nevertheless respected and appreciated for its mark in musical history.   However, what makes Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s musical, ‘The Sound of Music’ particularly special is its resonant harmonies, a brilliant lead in Aimee Doherty as Maria, and the lively vocals and playful choreography delivered by this wonderful, lighthearted cast.  It convinced me to care for ‘The Sound of Music’ score, which has never sounded lovelier.

With a mix of tradition, opulence, and a few songs not featured in the iconic 1965 film starring Julie Andrews, Reagle Music Theatre’s ‘The Sound of Music’ is the perfect lighthearted summer treat, even in its serious moments.  ‘The Sound of Music’ continues at the Robinson Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts through Sunday, July 21.  Click here for more information and tickets.

Reagle Music Theatre The Sound of Music Aimee Doherty as Maria Confidence in Me

Aimee Doherty as Maria I Have Confidence Photo courtesy of (C) Herb Philpott Photo/Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

The Sound of Music has many highlights, but one of its brightest is Aimee Doherty’s glowing, enchanting turn as Maria.  This Maria is a tad more youthful, boasting flowing dark hair and a wide, playful smile.  Doherty brings light and gravitas to the role, her infectious charm and soaring vocals especially noticeable during the playful, yet pensive number, I Have Confidence.  Paired with Daniel Forrest Sullivan’s buoyant choreography, it is one of Maria’s more subtle, but powerful moments.

Reagle Music Theatres The Sound of Music Von Trapp Children

Emma Heistand as Leisl, Wade Gleeson Turner as Friedrich, Jane Jakubowski as Louisa, Ryan Philpott as Kurt, Fiona Simeqi as Brigitta, Addison Toole as Marta, Libby Sweder as Gretl, and Aimee Doherty as Maria  Photo courtesy of (C) Herb Philpott Photo/Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Each of the adorable Von Trapp children featuring Emma Heistand as sweet, but rebellious Liesl, Wade Gleeson Turner as Friedrich, Jane Jakubowski as precocious Louisa, Ryan Philpott as Kurt, Fiona Simeqi as Brigitta, Addison Toole as Marta, and Libby Sweder as Gretl have their moment to shine, and their charming number Do-Re-Mi with Doherty is a delight.  The children’s colorful, identical, and traditional Austrian wardrobe enhance each scene.  Liesl, portrayed by Emma Heistand and Rolf, depicted by Max Currie impressively develop swift chemistry over the playful number, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, largely thanks to Sullivan’s breezy choreography.

Reagle Music Theatre's The Sound of Music Sixteen Going on Seventeen

Emma Heistand as Liesl and Max Currie as Rolf in ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ Photo courtesy of (C) Herb Philpott Photo/Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

There is a moment during the production where Doherty states, “When God closes a window” and Mark Linehan completes her sentence with, “he opens a door.”  The expression is actually the other way around, but Mark Linehan as Captain von Trapp instantly picks up on her phrase and completes her statement, indicating how in tune they both are onstage.  Mark Linehan has shown a natural charisma in other productions and there is no shortage of that here, delivering a powerful performance in the dour, firm, but forthright Captain.  However, his biggest strength is in the quieter moments of the show, especially in the moving reprise of the title song The Sound of Music and bittersweet Edelweiss.

Reagle Music Theatre The Sound of Music Captain Elsa and Max

L to R: Mark Linehan as Captain von Trapp, Janis Hudson as Elsa, and Robert Orzalli as Max Photo courtesy of (C) Herb Philpott Photo/Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

From the first few notes of the Nuns’ gorgeous, a capella chant, Preludium, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston have certainly outdone themselves.  Their resonant harmonies are among the production’s most beautiful moments.  Mara Bonde delivers an understated performance as patient, insightful, and ceaselessly faithful Mother Abbess, enhanced by a soaring rendition of the show’s inspiring anthem, Climb Every Mountain.  Ever the standout, Yewande Odetoyinbo also makes a remarkable impression as outspoken Sister Berthe.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston The Sound of Music Aimee Doherty as Maria and Mara Bonde as Mother Abbess

Aimee Doherty as Maria and Mara Bonde as The Mother Abbess Photo courtesy of (C) Herb Philpott Photo/Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Elsa, portrayed with flashy elegance by Janis Hudson, is a sophisticated, marginally manipulative socialite, with a taste for the finer things.  In what could be a potentially unlikable character, Hudson strikes a delicate balance of a woman who struggles with what she wants and yet, wishes to do the right thing.  She and Robert Orzalli as comical and seemingly smarmy Max are quite a comical pair, especially during the little known number, How Could Love Survive.

Reagle Music Theatre The Sound of Music So Long, Farewell

Mark Linehan as Captain von Trapp, Aimee Doherty as Maria and the Von Trapp children Photo courtesy of (C) Herb Philpott Photo/Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

As wonderfully potent to the ears as visually vibrant, experience Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s ‘The Sound of Music’ though Sunday, July 21 at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Reagle Music Theatre will soon cap off its summer musical season with the comedy classic, ‘La Cage aux Folles’ in August.  Click here for more information and tickets.  Follow Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston on Twitter and Facebook for upcoming events and more.

 

 

 

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston presents one last summer dance with award-winning dance extravaganza, ’42nd Street’

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston is ready for its last dance of their 49th summer musical season.  After the smashing successes of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s spectacular production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the historical, epic, award-winning musical, Showboat, Reagle presents the Tony award-winning dance extravaganza, 42nd Street continuing through Sunday, August 13 at Robinson Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Reagle Music Theatre Rachel York

Rachel York stars as Dorothy Brock Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Featuring an array of exuberant songs such as We’re in the Money, Lullaby of Broadway, and its title track, 42nd Street delves into the life of a troubled director and the inner workings backstage of a Broadway show.  The toe-tapping, Tony award-winner for Best Musical, 42nd Street, stars award-winning actress Rachel York as ‘Dorothy Brock’ and beloved Reagle alum Rich Allegretto as ‘Julian Marsh.’  Performances are held at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Reagle Music Theatre's Rich Allegretto

Beloved Reagle alum Rich Allegretto stars as ‘Julian Marsh’ Photo courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston has plenty to look forward to in the fall.  On Sunday, September 17, Reagle presents a celebrity concert of what might have been with The Concert that Never Was:  An Evening with Barbara and Frank at 2 p.m.  Featuring classic tunes from The American Songbook, this fascinating concert explores what it might have been like if legendary entertainers, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra, took the stage for one enchanting stage performance.  Click here for this one day only experience as well as other events coming this fall.

Call 1-781-891-5600, click here  or email groups@reaglemusictheatre.org for more information on their final summer musical of the year, upcoming events, and much more.  Group tickets and gift certificates are also available.  Stay updated on all of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s latest news by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston presents award-winning, grand scale musical, ‘Showboat’

Swept up in the weathered pages of a photo album is a story of forbidden love and a reflection of time gone by and the beauty in its passing.  Celebrating its 90th anniversary, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston proudly presents the award-winning, grand scale musical, Showboat as part of Reagle’s 49th annual summer musical season.  Starring Broadway’s Ciaran Sheehan as Ravenal, Sarah Oakes Muirhead as Magnolia, and Broadway’s Michel Bell in his Tony award-winning role as Joe, Showboat arrives for two weekends only from Thursday, July 6 through Sunday, July 16 at Robinson Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

Reagle Music TheatreMichel Bell headshot hi

Broadway’s Michel Bell reprises his Tony award-winning role as Joe in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s ‘Showboat’

With music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Showboat focuses on the happenings aboard a Mississippi showboat over generations from 1887 through 1927.  This insightful musical, which delves into social issues and prejudice, features the classic numbers Ol’ Man RiverCan’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man and Make Believe.

Reagle 42nd Street

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston will close out its summer musical season with the toe-tapping, Tony award-winner for Best Musical, 42nd Street starring The Dukes of Hazzard star Tom Wopat for two weekends from Thursday, August 3 through Sunday, August 13.  Performances will be held at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts. Call 1-781-891-5600, click here, or email groups@reaglemusictheatre.org for more information on their summer musical series and much more.  Group tickets and gift certificates are also available.  Stay updated on all of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s latest news by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

REVIEW: Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s lighter ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ a stunner

Kicking off their 49th annual summer musical series with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s uplifting Joseph and the Amazing Technical Dreamcoat, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston unveils an everlasting world in rich, glorious color.  An interactive, endearing, and humorous production, Joseph nears its 50 year mark with exuberance and a bit of modern subtlety stirred in the funniest and unlikeliest of places.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston proudly presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through Sunday, June 18 at Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Based on the Book of Genesis, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat explores the incredible journey of Joseph and his brothers as Joseph discovers his destiny.  Click here for more information and tickets.

Joseph 'Any Dream Will Do'

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Peter Mill as JOSEPH with children’s ensemble perform ‘Any Dream Will Do’

Bursting with vibrant, dynamic costumes by Goodspeed Musicals, wardrobe supervisor Amelia Fitch not only rose to the occasion, but makes a distinct, daring, and memorable impression in each spectacular ensemble and most notably in Joseph’s magnificent coat. From stunning, glimmering headdresses to brightly colored, heavily-embroidered designs that recalled another era, the costumes were consistently remarkable.  The scenic design by Peter Colao and Richard Shreiber and David Wilson’s lighting design further enhance the show’s visually spectacular nature in multi-colored lights and innovative sets.  The versatile and brilliant music, by the Academy Award-winning team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, offers a wide spectrum of music for every taste from calypso to rock and roll, accompanying the unique retelling of a sacred tale of treachery and unceasing hope.

Joseph Photo Joseph and male ensemble

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Peter Mill as JOSEPH and male ensemble perform “Joseph’s Coat.”

With wide eyes and an unassuming demeanor, Peter Mill portrays humble, yet forthright Joseph with instant likability.  Peter gives a multi-dimensional, powerful performance as a naïve outsider who is transformed by his destiny.  Peter’s versatile, soothing, vocals master signature numbers Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door, his tone heart rendering and sympathetic.

Waltham native, singer, and American Idol contestant Ayla Brown returned and delivers a powerful performance as Narrator, ten years after she last performed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Reagle.  Clever, sunny, and engaging, silvery soprano Ayla Brown has a relaxed charm with each cast member, but was particularly sweet with the Children’s Choir, a small group of boys and girls.  Carefully arranged as a coordinated rainbow in pinks, greens, purples, blues, yellows, reds, the choir’s angelic, soaring voices blend in perfectly at different points in the songs.  Their choreography, helmed by Susan Chebookjian, mix well with Ayla during the number, Go, Go, Go, Joseph, as the kids performed the hand jive.  It is also worth mentioning that one of the child singers at intermission was dressed like a mini-Joseph, wearing a lit multicolored hat and a cleverly designed mini Technicolor Dreamcoat made entirely of beach towels.

Joseph Ayla Children's choir

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Ayla Brown (right) as NARRATOR with children’s chorus performing A Pharaoh’s Story.

Charming and funny even whether they are rejoicing or scheming, the united choreography between Joseph’s eleven brothers reflects the wonderful camaraderie between each of them.   This was most evident during a country themed tune, One More Angel in Heaven with Bernice Baldassaro, who does a wonderful job chewing the scenery as Judah.  Another excellent number that depicts the brothers’ united front was delivered by Taavon Gamble as Naphtali, a catchy, amusing song called Benjamin Calypso.

Joseph Photo Joseph Brothers

Bernie Baldassaro (center) as JUDAH with male ensemble.

Rock n roll royalty takes on a new meaning in the show’s rollicking, show stopping number, Song of the King, featuring Andrew Giordano’s  always impressive comedic talent and zany charisma as Pharoah.  It’s a shimmering display in blue and gold as Andrew flawlessly captures the essence of a certain king in a high energy number not to be revealed here.   It is one of the great highlights of the show in every joyous, silly moment.

Joseph Ayla and Andrew

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Ayla Brown (left) as NARRATOR and Andrew Giordano as PHARAOH

The cast wearing sunglasses and a unconventional journey to Egypt are just a few of the subtle, modern touches added to this lighthearted production that had its share of stirring moments, but offers so many more uplifting, spirited moments, it’s difficult to feel down for long.

Joseph Photo7

Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/©Herb Philpott Male ensemble performs “One More Angel in Heaven”

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues at the Robinson Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts through Sunday, June 18.  Click here for more information, tickets, group rates, and more.  Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to get updates on its stellar summer musical season.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston celebrates 49th summer season with three renowned musicals

Dance, forbidden love on the water, and an epic tale among brothers featuring a coat of many colors encompass Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s award-winning summer musical season.  Celebrating its 49th season of bringing summer musicals to Waltham, Massachusetts, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston kicks off their summer season on June 8, featuring one renowned musical a month through August 13.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

From acclaimed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, who have both earned Tony, Grammy, Academy, and Golden Globe awards, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston presents the joyous and stirring musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring American Idol contestant and country singer Ayla Brown for two weekends from Thursday, June 8 through Sunday, June 18.

Based on the Book of Genesis, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat explores the incredible journey of Joseph and his brothers as Joseph discovers his destiny.  Exploring a variety of genres such as country western, rock and roll, disco, and reggae, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat boasts memorable tunes such as Close Every Door, Any Dream Will Do, and Go, Go, Go Joseph.

Reagle Showboat

Courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Celebrating its 90th anniversary, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston proudly presents the award-winning, grand scale musical, Showboat starring Broadway’s Ciaran Sheehan for two weekends from Thursday, July 6 through Sunday, July 16.  With music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Showboat explores the relationships and events aboard a Mississippi show boat from 1887 to 1927.  An insightful musical delves into significant issues such as prejudice and forbidden love, Showboat features the timeless numbers Ol’ Man River, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man and Make Believe.

Reagle 42nd Street

Courtesy of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston closes out its summer musical season with the toe-tapping, Tony award-winner for Best Musical, 42nd Street starring The Dukes of Hazzard star Tom Wopat for two weekends from Thursday, August 3 through Sunday, August 13.  Featuring hit songs such as Lullaby of Broadway, We’re in the Money, and I Only Have Eyes for You, 42nd Street is a fast-paced, dazzling musical surrounding the inner workings of a Broadway show.

All performances will be held at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts. Call 1-781-891-5600, visit click here, or email groups@reaglemusictheatre.org for more information on their summer musical series and much more.  Group tickets and gift certificates are also available.

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston will also host Musical Theatre camp in July! Click here for more information and follow Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston on Twitter and Facebook.