Saturday, March 31, 2018


Not seven, just one. It turns out that one powerful woman can bring a tyrant to his knees, as we are seeing nightly before our eyes, but Sophocles’ mighty play about ANTIGONE (reconstructed by Jean Anouilh and adapted by Lewis Galantiere) was written 3000 years ago. Flat Earth Theatre, always surprising us with savvy, potent productions, is presenting a singular, resonant ANTIGONE (through this weekend only) with one of the most gripping performances of the “daughter of kings” I’ve seen in ages. Regine Vital gives a tour de force as the woman who defies the law and reigns destruction down on Thebes.

Director Lindsay Eagle’s vision for this production features yet another commanding performance. Just as it did in Sophocles’ day, the Greek Chorus takes center stage at Flat Earth to proclaim the awful truth: Tragedy will consume every living being (and the dead as well). The remarkable Elbert Joseph leads a dynamic signing chorus to warn us about the consequences of complacency and the grave cost of heroics.

When Joseph’s sinewy arms rise over his head in righteous anger, we tremble imagining the horror to come. His whole body speaks, not just his eloquent hands… and the roar is deafening. Kudos to Flat Earth for entrusting Joseph to elevate the profound weight of the story with his soaring hands. Without him and the other ASL interpreters, this would be just another ordinary retelling of the Greek classic. Instead it’s an extraordinary coup.

Friday, March 9, 2018

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey So Many Steves and So Little Time

Zeitgeist’s racy new farce deliberately leads us down the garden path by overwhelming us with characters named Steve. Mark Gerrard’s cheeky comedy of manners (most of them bad) is called, you guessed it, STEVE (playing through March 24th). I’ll try to explain, although I confess, I’m not really sure who’s having an affair, or thinking of having an affair, or who’s sexting whom. To make matters even more complicated, there’s a personal trainer also named Steve and there’s a scene at a gym with a person who’s about to work out, maybe with the personal trainer… or maybe “personal trainer” is a euphemism for body work of another sort.

So it’s Steve’s birthday and his husband, Steve, has organized a little get together at a local restaurant but Birthday Steve has discovered sexting on his partner’s cell phone. Tempers flare and drinks are spilled. (At this point I thought the naughty text message originated with one of the people at the party. I now think it came from Trainer Steve but that throws off my whole comprehension trajectory.) Not to worry. It doesn’t matter because the playwright hides a little magical realism up his sleeve and although drinks are airborne again, the sizzling Latin waiter arrives to clean it all up, no problem this time. I must admit, I couldn’t wait for Esteban, the dancer/waitperson (and so much more) to grace another scene. The hilarious Adam Boisselle has the plum role of Esteban (You guessed it, Spanish for Steve)… and he has all the best lines!

David J. Miller’s talented cast, led by the charismatic Victor Shopov (who manages to emote genuine pain beneath a hard crust of arrogance) have a field day with Gerrard’s angst ridden script. Mikey DiLoreto as Shopov’s BFF, has his trials, as well. Like the Steves (Shopov and a suave Alex Jacobs) his partner (Mike Nilsson) is having a wee bit of wanderlust. Gerrard throws in a dying female friend (Jenny Reagan) and a million show tunes, I presume, so you have some frame of reference.

I was humming along and then Gerrard alluded to THE RAFT OF THE MEDUSA, which sent my mind back to a 1980s production, as well as the painting. Maybe that’s why I lost my way. Or it could have been EVERSOURCE’s fault. When I saw STEVE, it was day two (of the four days and nights) of no electricity and no heat and my brain may have been already frozen.

Monday, March 5, 2018

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Musical Balm for a Long Winter By Beverly Creasey

After a bleak and harrowing winter, aren’t we all in need of renewal? Thankfully spring is showing signs of hope: A warm February forced snow drop shoots up through the ground to remind us of a new season about to bud. Then miraculously, the theater offered transformative performances to lift us out of the doldrums.

First, Jane Staab’s life affirming production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST for Wheelock Family Theater offers what the well-oiled Broadway tours do not: endless heart and a palpable exuberance that reaches across the footlights. You can’t help but be moved by the tender relationship of Belle (Justine Moral) and her hapless father (Bob Saoud), not to mention her ability to see the kindness in a sorrowful beast (Jared Troilo). Laurel Conrad’s spirited choreography and Steven Bergman’s sumptuous orchestra had a houseful of children at my performance singing and dancing in their seats. From Chip Phillips’ fussy grandfather clock to Brad Foster Reinking’s charming candelabra; From Gamalia Pharms’ sunny teapot to Brittany Rofs’ spitfire French maid… everyone, including the bad guy (Mark Linehan) generated welcome laughter and smiles. (Playing through March 4th)

Praxis Stage’s remodel of Ntozake Shange’s [updated] FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENOUGH is a fresh, visceral look at the revolutionary choreo-poem. I can hardly believe forty years have gone by since I first saw Shange’s fiercely intelligent ensemble piece. Director Dayenne C. Byron Walters and choreographer Lola Remy add music, movement, dance and connective tissue to the vignettes, making each piece more than just part of the whole. The searing but often witty portraits seem even more relevant today, in light of “Me, Too” revelations. The women suffer and rebel, resist and conquer…falter and rise. I couldn’t keep Maya Angelou’s “And still I rise” from my thoughts as I watched these luminous performers: Karline Desir takes your breath away in the pleasing, rapid fire scold, “Without any assistance from you”…then she hurls you to the depths of your fears as she recounts the events of an unspeakable tragedy. Thomika Marie Bridwell, too, reclaims her strength in a commanding metaphorical twist on “identity” theft. Verna Hampton magically morphs from innocent child to righteous woman. The entire cast excells, from tiny powerhouse Ciera Sade-Wade…to Karima Williams to Tonasia Jones and Byron Walters herself. Each “poem” empowers us, as we witness women surviving the weight of the world. (Closed)

AMERICAN CLASSICS has the knack for inventing one-of-a-kind musical niches, shows that are so delightful, you wonder why no one else thought of, say, LONDON PRIDE. After all, there’s a trove of musical treasures in the “American Songbook,” composed around the people and places of London: Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Lerner & Lowe, and of course, Noel Coward, all honored his “dear, old town.” Most significantly, AMERICAN CLASSICS has the unique ability to find the ideal singers to make a revue more than just a revue. There’s the burnished baritone of Ben Sears and gorgeous piano arrangements of Brad Conner, co-founders of the CLASSICS. And their guests: Tenor Davron Monroe (who often sings with them) lifted “On the Street Where You Live” to anthem heights in the MY FAIR LADY segment. Then Teresa Winner Blume made you feel like you had seen the whole musical with her touching, exuberant “I Could Have Danced All Night.” But it was Michelle Deluise who out-Hollowayed the vaudeville star as Alfred P. Doolittle (!) performing a rousing “With a Little Bit of Luck!”…This versatile comedienne could knead a chill into SWEENEY TODD with Sondheim’s “The Worst Pies in London” and she’s able to switch gears (and wring tears from my eyes) with the somber “Streets of London” (by Ralph McTell) where children starve and desperate men drown their troubles with drink. The ensemble took us from Berkeley Square to Neverland and back… It must have been the pixie dust…because every song soared. (Closed)