Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Imaginary Beasts Presents "Winter Panto 2018 - 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" - At Charlestown Working Theater


There are several things that we Bostonians can rely on to get us through the bleak midwinter days of January and February. There is the Patriots perennial striving to reach the Super Bowl. There are the resurgent Celtics and Bruins making a trip to TD Garden a worthwhile adventure. There is clam chowder at Union Oyster House, Durgin Park, or Legal Seafood. There is skating on the Frog Pond at Boston Common or the ice at Government Center. And there is the annual Imaginary Beasts Winter Panto. This year, they have decamped from their old home at Boston Center for the Arts and have set up shop at the Charlestown Working Theater. This new home gives them a bit more elbow room, and they use the added space wisely in the current production: "Winter Panto 2018 - 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea."

As you may be aware, pantomime or panto is a fondly held British tradition that takes stock characters, and employs them in melodramatic fashion that involves audience participation - booing villains, cheering on heroes, warning of danger lurking in the background. Imaginary Beasts has adopted and adapted this tradition for Boston audiences, and a growing number of people look forward to each year's version.

This winter's tale is loosely based on Jules Verne's classic tale of Captain Nemo and his submarine. Director Matthew Woods has crafted a story outline, and the vivid imagination of the ensemble have colored inside and outside the lines of his sketch.The result is a wild and fun ride for audience members of all ages. The silliness entertains the young, and the sophisticated humor and political allusions keep the adults intellectually engaged. There is some wonderful use of classic songs to keep the action moving.

Costume Dsign is by Cotton Talbot-Minkin, Lighting Design by Christopher Bocchiaro, Set and Sound Design by Matthew Woods, Set Design by Rebecca Lehrhoff, Puppet Design by Sophia Giordano and Rebecca Lehrhoff.

Inhabiting the wonderful Steam Punk world is a gifted, uninhibited, and energetic troupe of actors:
  • Matthew Woods is Jules, the narrator for this nautical voyage
  • Rebecca Lehrhoff is The Good Coral Nymph
  • Sarah Gazdowicz is Demon Queen Blanche
  • Kim Klasner is Yves, the fisher lad
  • Amy Meyer is Felicia, the fishwife
  • Molly Kimmerling is Salty the cat
  • Michael Underhill is Constable Crabbe
  • Kiki Samko is The Old Salt Dog and Captain Nemo
  • Jennife Taschereau is The Commander and The Octopus
  • Bob Mussett is Ned Land
  • William Schuller is Professor Aronnax
  • Jamie Semel is Constanze
  • Noah Simes is the unforgettable Zsa Zsa Faux Pas, n'est-ce pas?
Michael Underhill as Constable Crabbe - Cramming to memorize the Miranda Rights
Imaginary Beasts Winter Panto 2018
"20,000 Leagues Under The Sea"
Charlestown Working Theater
Through February 4th

The bottom line is that this is a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging day or evening at the theater - one of my favorite Pantos ever, and I have enjoyed them all. So, bring yourself, your spouse or significant other, your children and grandchildren, your superannuated great aunt Mabel, or the fishmonger living next door. This show comes with two thumbs up - well, two White Rhino hooves up!

William Schuller as Professor Aronnax, Kiki Samko as Captain Nemo, 
Bob Mussett as Ned Land
Imaginary Beasts Winter Panto 2018
"20,000 Leagues Under The Sea"
Charlestown Working Theater
Through February 4th
Photo by Andrew Wang

Why, you may ask, should I journey to Charlestown to see this show? I am glad you asked. Here are just a few of the reasons:
  • The cutest octopus who ever wrapped her tentacles around an audience's heart.
  • The crabbiest constable who ever walked a beat.
  • The saltiest Old Sea Dog who ever limped upon the deck of a ship
  • A remote control mechanical mouse used as a tool for espionage
  • A despicable evil Demon Queen
  • Her nemesis, the Good Coral Nymph
  • And the unforgettable Zsa Zsa - Oo-La-La! 
When you go, give Zsa Zsa a hug for me. She will not consider it a faux pas!
Some performances are sold out, so do not wait too long and earn a "Boo - Hiss - Boo"! Get your tickets now.

Imaginary Beasts Website

FULL RUN AS FOLLOWS:
Friday, Jan 19 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, Jan 20 at 1:30 PM & 4:30 PM
Sunday, Jan 21 at 2 PM
Friday, Jan 26 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, Jan 27 at 1:30 PM & 4:30 PM
Sunday, Jan 28 at 2 PM
Monday, Jan 29 at 7:30 PM | INDUSTRY NIGHT
Friday, Feb 2 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, Feb 3 at 1:30 PM & 4:30 PM
Sunday, Feb 4 at 2 PM

Enjoy!

Al

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

SpeakEasy Stage Presents The New England Premiere of "Shakespeare In Love"- A Thorough Delight!


SpeakEasy Stage Company consistently delights and challenges audiences with its productions, many of which are Boston or New England premieres. Such is the case with the thoroughly delightful "Shakespeare In Love," based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. This production is directed by the gifted Scott Edmiston, who has this cast fine-tuned like a race car engine. The action is fast-paced and nonstop. For this stage adaptation, Original Music/Music Direction/Sound Design is provided by David Reiffel. Choreography and Movement is by Judith Chaffee, Fight Direction by Ted Hewlett. Scenic Design that faithfully recreates London's 16th century Rose Theatre is by Jenna McFarland Lord. Gorgeous period Costumes are by Rachel Padula-Shufelt. Lighting is by Karen Perlow.

Cast
"Shakespeare In Love"
Directed by Scott Edmiston
SpeakEasy Stage Company
Calderwood Pavilion
Through Bebruary 10
Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots


Mr. Edmiston's cast is stellar from top to bottom. Familiar faces blend with those who are new to the Boston stage:
  • The incomparable Jennifer Ellis is Viola de Lesseps, unhappily betrothed to the pompous Lord Wessex, an excellent Lewis D. Wheeler. She longs to be an actor, but women are forbidden from treading the boards in Elizabethan times. So, she disguises herself as a boy to audition for a Will Shakespeare play in the works - "Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter"!!! She and the young unknown playwright fall in love, and Shakespearean complications ensue. It is the kind of bravura performance Boston audiences have come to expect from Ms. Ellis. I could compare her to a summer's day, but I digress.
  • The young bard is played wonderfully by Boston newcomer George Olesky. The chemistry between him and Ms. Ellis' Viola is palpable and thrilling. His interpretation of the role makes the iconic Shakespeare human, flawed, and approachable.
George Olesky as Will Shakespeare
Jennifer Ellis as Viola de Lesseps
"Shakespeare In Love"
Directed by Scott Edmiston
SpeakEasy Stage Company
Calderwood Pavilion
Through February 10
Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots
  • Nancy E. Carroll is drolly regal as Queen Elizabeth I. Is there an actor working in Boston with a better deadpan face than that which Ms. Carroll brings to this role? But then she adds a dollop of fun to the character when the Queen cleverly rescues Viola after the young woman has been discovered acting in contravention of the law.
Jennifer Ellis as Viola de Lesseps
Nancy E. Carroll as Queen Elizabeth I
"Shakespeare In Love" 
Directed by Scott Edmiston
SpeakEasy Stage Company
Calderwood Pavilion
Through February 10
Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots

    • Ken Baltin is wondrous as the beleaguered theatre owner Henslowe, competing for plays by Marlowe and Shakespeare with his rival, the formidable Burbage, played with gusto by Omar Robinson.
    • Eddie Shields returns from New York to create a memorable Christopher Marlowe - Kit. As Shakespeare's rival, friend and sometime muse, Mr. Shields' interpretation of the enigmatic playwright is both flamboyant and fey, and thoroughly convincing.
    • Carolyn Saxon is solid as Viola's nurse, and a precursor to Juliet's nurse in the tragedy that is being written.
    • Remo Airaldo is Fennyman, the money behind some of the plays. He also gives us a liberal dose of the Apothecary, festooned in a blue floppy hat.
    • Jesse Hinsom is the self-absorbed actor, Ned Alleyn, returned from the provinces to reluctantly and gravely portray Mercutio.
    • Damon Singletary ably handles to dual roles of Edmund Tilney, the rectitudinous Lord Chamberlain, and Sir Robert de Lesseps.
    • Edward Rubenacker is Sam and Juliet, but he hankers to play Ethel!
    • Steve Auger is Ralph/Nurse/Catling.
    • Jade Guerra is Mistress Quickly and Kate
    • Zaven Ovain is Frees/Peter/Tybalt/Musician
    • Several actors double as musicians. They are Paul Alperin on cello, Cameron Beaty Gosselin on mandolin, Jeff Marcus on Lute.
    George Olesky as Will Shakespeare
    Eddie Shields as Kit Marlowe
    "Shakespeare In Love"
    Directed by Scott Edmiston
    SpeakEasy Stage Company
    Calderwood Pavilion
    Through February 10
    Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots
      Many of us know this story from the film version. Seeing it develop live and on stage with additional music adds new dimensions to the enjoyment of this engaging tale - a romance, a comedy, a coming of age tale, a gentle feminist manifesto. We get to see Will struggle to become SHAKESPEARE,

      Do not miss this theatrical delight. Through February 10th at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.

      SpeakEasy Stage Website

      Enjoy!

      Al