Theater (172)

Modeling a Crisis: Hal Cohen's 'Intervention' Cuts Deep

We encounter the statistics almost daily now: opioid addiction is killing far too many of us. But statistics, as I once heard someone say, never made anyone change their understanding or their life. Stories do that, and in the face of the crisis, we’ve been hearing more of them, both true and invented. Local playwright and physician, Hal J. Cohen, consulted with present and former addicts, and those close to them, for his fictional “dark comedy” Intervention, which he also directs and produces (with On A Dare Productions).…

The fall theater season is here — Our roundup of dramatics to come

Tracey Conyer Lee as Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.  Whenever presidential politics hit a new benchmark for gross, mean, and ignorant, perhaps some musical satire is in order. Mad Horse Theatre Company is here to help with its season opener, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (September 21 through October 15), which explores the class divisions, racism, and rabble-rousing populism of an earlier era and president — and with a rock soundtrack, too. In our…

Is this play just about music? — Portland Stage and MSMT combine for 'The All Night Strut'

If the late-summer blues, or just the mind-numbing present, have you yearning to escape into yesteryear into breezy musical nostalgia, Portland Stage and Maine Stage Music Theatre have your ticket. For their second summertime collaboration on PSC’s mainstage, they present The All Night Strut, a concert production of hits from the 1920s through the 1950s, performed by four singers and a three-piece band. There’s no story to distract from the tunes. There’s barely even any…

Listen to the Crows — Raw amateur theater forum Crowbait Club readies its fifth annual deathmatch

For five years now, brave and intrepid playwrights have risked it all in the Crowbait Club's monthly theater Deathmatches: If a contestant’s play is drawn from the hat and performed on the spot by the actors, playwrights pray that it will win the audience's raucous love, beat out the competition, and secure a place in the CBC's annual best-of fest, the King of Crows. At King of Crows V, onstage this weekend at the St. Lawrence, expect 10-minute explorations of war, nature, holiday anxiety, and…

Peeling Away the Past — Bare Portland's must-see pop-up show 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

One of the most talked-about and transporting shows of this year’s PortFringe was Bare Portland and New Fruit Art Collective’s exploration of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper. Beautiful and eerie, the immersive short work merged theater and installation in the ballroom of the Mechanics Hall. Now, members of the two groups return with a full-length production, staged in a mystery venue that’s far less grand (theater-goers are asked to meet at a pop-up box office called…

Ogunquit's 'Ragtime' Revives the Musical Ideal

The defining characteristic of ragtime music is its “syncopation” — a style in which the melody falls in between the beats instead of on them. Syncopated rhythms, which originated with African-American musicians, give the sense that the melody is slightly ahead of or even moving against its own beat, and they were new and jarring in early nineteenth-century America. These rhythms are an apt vehicle for the cultural and personal intersections of Ragtime, the musical epic of three very…

Monmouth's Excellent 'Red Velvet' Depicts a Society Unable to Act its Values

In 1833, London was embroiled over slavery in Britain’s colonies: after a revolt in Jamaica and pressure on the home front, Parliament instituted the Slavery Abolition Act. Enter Ira Aldridge (the excellent Ryan Vincent Anderson), a young African-American actor, to replace an ailing Othello at Covent Garden — and to expose, as the first black actor on that stage, London’s hypocrisies and bigotries. In the beautifully crafted comedic drama Red Velvet, on stage at the Theater at Monmouth, playwright Lolita Chakrabarti imagines what happened offstage at Covent Garden. Jennifer Nelson directs a dynamic and deftly performed production of the play, both an affecting portrait of Aldridge and an acute meditation on the politics and powers of…

Monmouth's 'Macbeth' Searches for the Damned Spot

The Theater at Monmouth’s Macbeth takes some pains to convey an out-of-time Scotland for its horrors of avarice. The inter-scene music is aggressively modern — industrial metal, dissonant synth-rock. Colored lights pulse through layers of gray and fraying sheaths. Is this a steam-punk world? Cyber-punk? The costumes keep us wondering: leather vests over blood-splattered t-shirts; straight-up Victorian jackets and bowlers. Setting thus feels unsettled in this Macbeth, directed by Dawn McAndrews and performed in rep as part of this…

Chekhov in the Park — Fenix Finely Forgoes Shakespeare for Elegant 'Three Sisters'

How many times have you watched Midsummer in a summer park? With all due respect to the Bard, do you ever yearn to enjoy your picnic with some other master of language and the human condition? This summer, Fenix Theatre Company takes a blessed break from Shakespeare to bring Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece Three Sisters to the Deering Oaks band shell.  Now, if Chekhov intimidates you, or if his name conjures only grey Russian misery, rest assured that this excellent Fenix show, directed by Tess Van…

Out to Win — MSMT's 'Guys and Dolls' Spins American Myths

The quintessential American musical Guys and Dolls, based on stories by New York writer Damon Runyon, plays like a kind of Dickensian comic book of America. It’s a New York peopled by two vying types, the gambler versus the evangelical — a standoff between those who want to be left to their vices and those who want to save you. Any of this sound familiar? Maine State Music Theatre presents a bright and snazzy production of this…
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