Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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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Posted February 11, 2015in Center Stage

Wounded bull, Southern belle

The playbill for “A Streetcar Named Desire” includes an unusual listing — a “dialect coach.” The “coach” is Ann Woldt, from Simpson — and the woman knows her stuff. Not only did the voices ring true and straight out of Dixie, but also they came together in one bluesy crescendo

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Posted February 04, 2015in Center Stage

Elephant in the room

It takes a professional to weather a blackout. The lights quit unexpectedly midway through the first act of “The Elephant Man” — perhaps this had to do with the blizzard outside — yet Bob Baskerville kept on, unfazed. As Gomm, head of the hospital providing sanctuary to the deformed title

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Posted January 28, 2015in Center Stage

Transmitting the Comedy Virus

When I lived in Chicago, the best cheap date was on a Monday. On that night you could catch the “greatest hits” of Second City, ground zero for improv comedy since 1959. The troupe has launched dozens of stars, from John Belushi to Tina Fey, but the headliners usually skipped

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Posted January 21, 2015in Center Stage

Whatever Lola wants…

“Cyndi Lauper brought it off!” exclaims Nick McCough. “She brought her rock ’n’ roll to Broadway!” What has got McCough so excited is “Kinky Boots,” the new musical, bursting with the same energy Lauper brought to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in 1983. Thirty years later, her score for “Kinky

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Posted January 14, 2015in Center Stage

Swapping Genders

“It’s the kind of exciting work StageWest has always brought to town,” claims Todd Buchacker. “It proves we’re still taking chances.” Buchacker, the director for this show, might be talking about the title alone: “Cock.” The word isn’t quite so shocking in England, however, where playwright Mike Bartlett set his

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Posted January 07, 2015in Center Stage

Peter Pans Go Head to Head

These days anyone who thinks of the sitcom “Growing Pains” probably thinks of Robin Thicke, the young lead, now a rock star. The show’s success, however, depended more on the father, Alan, and since it ended he’s kept busy, too. He’s done movies with Adam Sandler and written bestsellers about

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