Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Posted April 22, 2015in Center Stage

Chuckle-worthy gadgetry

John Viars, in his director’s notes for “Around the World in 80 Days,” says he’s sorry his show doesn’t have a balloon. The balloon was a feature of the 1956 movie, and the Playhouse actually uses one in its ads. Still, I don’t think Viars has to apologize. His choreography

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Posted April 15, 2015in Center Stage

Brightness in a blackout

Screens and shadows rarely matter so much as they do in “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The show takes place in cramped quarters where the Franks and other Jews survive two years in Nazi-held Amsterdam. But Jay Jaglim, who designed the set and handles the lighting, finds unexpected nooks and

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Posted April 08, 2015in Center Stage

Dream and nightmare

You can thank God you never had a mother like Mary Bricker. Her face set in a grim, seamy square like a box of drawers set with traps, Bricker continues to break down and manipulate her daughters long after they’ve grown to adulthood. “Independence” may be the latest Tallgrass “Dream

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Posted March 31, 2015in Center Stage

Show me the money!

Hillary Clinton can wear a director out. The former Secretary of State, even in late rehearsal for the PAC-funded show at Stagewest, keeps quibbling over stage directions. “Stage left?” asked Clinton. “That depends on your definition of ‘left.’ ” With the presidential campaigns beginning to show signs of catching fire,

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Posted March 25, 2015in Center Stage

The war within

For a minute halfway into “My Name is Asher Lev,” nothing matters so much as a shadow. The dark profile of the title character, a budding artist, falls across a blank canvas, while his mentor prods him to do better — to leave his mark. What’s more, the shadow evokes

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Posted March 18, 2015in Center Stage

Vintage sass

“I never left standup,” says Wanda Sykes. “Standup, that’s my day job; it’s what I love.” And with that, she’s off. Literally. Audiences across the nation will get a chance to see Sykes on tour doing what she does best, including a March 21 stop at Hoyt Sherman Place in

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Posted March 11, 2015in Center Stage

Spilling blood in the courtroom

Drama can be all in the eyes. Rich Richards, the whole show in “Clarence Darrow,” can raise the tension with a hardening stare or lighten it with a sidelong glance. In a late rehearsal, his look even seemed to change the scenery, going from a seat in a small-town ballpark

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Posted March 04, 2015in Center Stage

Pinball, vaudeville and murder

Midway through our conversation, Kyle Brantzel started speaking in tongues. First he used a birdlike falsetto, then a gravelly basso, switching off without a hitch. “That’s how you’ve got to do it,” he explained, dropping back into his natural voice (with a hint of a Chicago accent). “After all, you’re

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Posted February 25, 2015in Center Stage

No sex in the funhouse

Frances and Peter Hunter get a lot of visitors for newlyweds. The couple has a crazy and busy time of things in “No Sex Please, We’re British,” now enjoying an affable run at Newton Community Theater. Onstage, every knock on the door sets off fresh laughs. Indeed, the flat has

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Posted February 18, 2015in Center Stage

Festival of surprises

The walls of the Last Laugh, Persian blue, are decorated with empty picture frames, a light tan. The owner, Josh Chamberlain, quickly turned this into a joke. “You can fill the frames in any way that works,” he said. “Just like improv.” In fact, Chamberlain would like to see such

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Barmuda