Thursday, March 28, 2013

Who am I this time?

I never know exactly where this juggling act will take me.  Which juggling act?  The one for which my Job Description makes use of numerous slashes.  Actor/Theatre Director/Casting Director/Writer.
So far, Writer is the hat that pops on and off the easiest, and always at my whim.  No one's paying me to do it and it happens whenever I decide to jot something down.  The jot might become a blog post, a Twitter tweet or a scene, but there is no discipline involved ... yet.
And Casting Director?  The most fickle.  When it's least expected, I'm selected ... but most recently the jobs have come few and far between.  Little projects, and "scouting" talent as I see everything I can and report back to my colleagues in town.  And just as I get ready to make an official announcement of retiring from that profession, something gets me back into the ring.  
I'm reading plays, and have a few projects I'd love to direct, and if all goes well I'll have a show in production in the not-too-distant future..  But there is no concrete offer yet, no plan in place.  Now, however , it's my return to performing, after a 17 year hiatus, that has me most "pumped".
Acting has been the constant, surprisingly enough.  It's where it all began, with my first grade, after school report to Mom, breathless and beaming ear to ear, that "the teacher said I read with expression!".  In my memory, I've barely gotten my coat off when I'm telling her the news.  Two years ago I followed a Twitter tweet, which led me to the ensemble of "The Miseries of the World" in the World Premiere production of Tod Machover's Death and The Powers: The Robots' Opera.  A collaboration between the A.R.T., M.I.T., and Chicago Opera Theatre, it was how i had the opportunity to work for director DIane Paulus and choreographer Karole Armitage, who together created a movement piece with our ensemble, which was performed within the opera.  I was cast the following summer in the winter 2011/12 production of Chekhov's UNCLE VANYA as Telegin, for the Apollinaire Theatre Company production at Chelsea Theater Works in Chelsea, MA.  This past spring, I auditioned for area directors, producers and casting personnel through the Annual StageSource auditions.  That audition led to invitations to audition for some projects that conflicted with the revival of Uncle Vanya in Oct/Nov, though callback auditions for the Huntington Theatre Company led to being cast in another ensemble, that of the Citizens of Grovers Corners, who are The Dead in the third act cemetery of David Cromer's production of OUR TOWN.  Since closing, I've been auditioning and will next perform the role of Blue in Keith Reddin's ALMOST BLUE, May 3-18, with Theatre On Fire at the Charlestown Working Theater, followed by The Doctor, the most famous stranger in theatrical literature, in Wax Wings' production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Factory Theatre, late June/early July (more to follow).And then I'll never work again.
That's The Actor's constant fear, in a society that doesn't support the Arts enough to guarantee a living wage to actors in pursuit of a career.  Very few of us make a living out of just being an actor.  The ubiquitous waiters and waitresses aside, actors work in all industries and positions.  Through permanent jobs and in temporary positions, I've had dozens of  titles, from dishwasher to assembly line worker, retail clerk to phone receptionist, insurance claims adjustor to food stylist's assistant (when I "picked out the good pieces" of Cinnamon Toast Crunch from scores of cases of boxes, poured into garbage bags and sifted through for the "hero pieces" that would then fill the perfectly photogenic cereal bowl of hand-selected sweet and crunchy morsels).
We live in hope, which springs eternal.
And my most recent new title?  Playwright ... well, "aspiring playwright".  I finally. after years of toying with the idea, wrote a 10 minute play for submission to this year's Boston Theatre Marathon, but was not selected.  Oh, well ...
But that won't stop me, just as the many auditions over the past 35 years, that did not lead to acting jobs, haven't stopped me from moving on.  And trying. trying. trying again.
And so in the coming week, I'll do another StageSource Audition,and go into rehearsal for ALMOST BLUE.
Watch this space:)

CLYBOURNE PARK: SpeakEasy's 21st Season Continues

CLYBOURNE PARK/SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, BCA

SpeakEasy Stage Company continues  it's mission with a visit to CLYBOURNE PARK

In a statement on it's website ( , SpeakEasy Stage Company says the mission is "to connect, inspire, and challenge our audiences with the most socially relevant theatrical premieres featuring the most talented artists in Boston."  And halfway through the 21st season, following exemplary productions of The Motherfucker With The Hat, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Other Desert Cities, that mission is being fully realized, show by show.  And now, with the sold-out and extended run of Clybourne Park, they once again honor that mission.
The Pulitzer and Tony Award winning play, by Bruce Norris, opens with a first act that parallels Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In the Sun (which, in a great show of mutual support and planning, is being currently  revived by the Huntington Theatre Company at their BU Theatre mainstage).  Bev (Paula Plum) and Russ (Thomas Derrah), the grieving parents of a Korean war veteran whose return home is marked with tragedy, are preparing to sell their home in the white middle-class Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park to the black Younger family of Lorraine Hansberry's play.  The fears and prejudices of the white neighborhood are represented by the visits of the white clergyman (Tim spears) and the Linders, Karl (a character in "Raisin", played by Michael Kaye) and his pregnant wife (Philana Mia).  The other two characters in Act One are the black maid, Francine (Marvelyn McFarlane) and her husband Albert (DeLance Minifee).
In Act Two, the acting ensemble is back for a fast-forward to 50 years later, in 2009, as Steve and Lindsey (Kaye and Mia as the penultimate white yuppie couple)  grapple, with the aid of their lawyer (the chameleonic Plum),  with a black couple (MacFarlane and Minifee) over concerns from the neighborhood organization about plans to destroy the historical home and build a McMansion.  As the meeting careens around issues of race without really addressing them, a construction worker (Derrah) digging in the yard unearths literal secrets while the assembled group exposes secrets of their own.
The drama inherent in the situations is contrasted nicely with a surprising and welcome amount of comedy.  The versatile ensemble fills Christine Tedesco's skeletal set with crisply defined characters, under the keen direction of Bevin O'Gara, who trusts the actors and allows the play to unfold as it  tells it's story.
Originally set to close this Sunday, Clybourne Park has been extended through Saturday, April 6, but tickets are selling quickly for the added week.  Don't miss it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

THE LILY'S REVENGE, ART/Oberon, closes Sunday 10/28

Company, Act Five, THE LILY'S REVENGE
I know that sometime in the future, at a party, an audition, during intermission or after a show, I'll be able to draw attention with the phrase, "Well, I saw THE LILY'S REVENGE at Oberon".
And I'm very happy I did.

With a limited three-week run and a fixed audience of 150 per performance, there weren't that many opportunities to see it, and with my Uncle Vanya performance schedule (both shows opened the same week, days apart) I only had two chances: either Tuesday October 16 or Tuesday October 23.  As the 16th was sold out when I was able to buy a ticket, I went to the A.R.T. Box Office at the Loeb Drama Center, and was able to get a $25 ticket (each performance had a limited number of tickets on sale at @ $25, while the rest of the tickets were $45; and, as it was open seating, the ticket price didn't define where one sat) for Tuesday October 23, and counted the days.
Since I first read about the New York production and followed it's reviews, I've been reading about this show, and when the ART announced it as part of the 2012/2013 season,  I wanted to know more.  Had I not committed to performing in the revival of Uncle Vanya I would have auditioned 
myself (I was invited to audition  by the A.R.T. casting coordinator, who also asked me to spread the word that this show wanted to hire many locals, union and non-union).  surfed on over to to see and read his own description of the event, and became immersed in the material there, including photos of the original NY and subsequent SF productions, interviews, and a piece on collaboration, that reads:
"I believe theater is community action and as a playwright I am a community organizer. LILY continues this approach to making theater. It is a five-act, five-hour play with a cast of 40. The first four acts have roughly ten performers each, the final act has all forty. Each act is directed by a different director. A sixth director creates the intermission performances (what I loosely refer to as kyogens), which also utilize the entire ensemble."
And that's basically how it went here in Cambridge at ART/Oberon in only the third production of THE LILY'S REVENGE.  But here, the cast numbered thirty-something, and one director, 
Shira Milikowsky a graduate of the A.R.T. Institute, and Artistic Director Fellow at the A.R.T., presided over the entire show: all 5 acts and the kyogen intermissions.
Written and conceived by Taylor Mac, the multi-talented performer has been involved with each production so far (there was a New Orleans production in October 2012 produced without him), and by performing as "Lily" with a new community of performers and artists, he increases the "fish out of water" (flower out of pot) feel of The Outsider, a flower amongst other flowers and metaphorical prototypes: The Bride, The Groom, The Great Longing (A Curtain), etc. By employing local actors, singers. musicians, artists and performers of all kinds, the show creates a community force that Lily faces and forges ever onward in it's quest to marry The Bride.

Margaret Ann Brady texts and Twitters to communicate during one of the Kyogen intermissions

Though publicized as "5 acts, 5 hours", the show clocked in at about 4:20 ... appropriately so for this trippy "happening" of a show that might have been conceived in the Haight/Ashbury or the Greenwich Village of the 60s. In style and substance, it pays tribute to the early 60's Off-Off Broadway Ridiculous Theatrical Company aesthetics of Charles Ludlam, the Radical Faerie movement started in the United States among gay men during the 1970s sexual and counterculture revolution, and the 80's Alphabet City/Drag/Gender Illusionist parody/homage of Charles Busch, while becoming a thing unto itself, unique not only production to production but also night to night. The "Kyogen", drawn, like the structure of the play, from Japanese Noh Drama, are so completely interactive and individual that no two audience members will have the same experience: while listening to a nonsensical "frat guy" interpretation of Susan Stewart's theses in the men's room (complete with "football-play"-like diagrams drawn with a bar of soap on the bathroom mirrors), I forfeited getting a neck and shoulder massage from a cast member, but later I stopped by the "disco dressing room" where performers, mostly in drag, danced and dished, surrounded by costume pieces and flamboyant accessories that audience members could try on, select, and wear for the remainder of the show (or until the novelty wore off). This effort to get the audience to "let it's freak flag fly" (a 60's slogan, not a show quote) worked, and the feeling in the audience was a relaxed open attitude, willing to follow where they led us. From the earliest moments, there were the elements of direct address, an "is he or isn't he a "plant" character entering from the audience (along with the entrance of an actual plant), and the use of some old and "hoary" "audience involvement" bits of borrowing someone's seat and actual audience/actor touching. I managed to avoid getting drawn in, literally, until, in the final moments, Taylor Mac lept from the stage and planted a kiss smack dab on the lips. I kissed a former Lily ... and I liked it.

Lily (Taylor Mac) and Subprime Deity Mary (Margaret Ann Brady)

John Kuntz's Poppy out on the street
(iphone photo by Karen Kosko)

The local performers in the cast make up a cross-section from both the mainstream and the fringes of Boston's theatrical landscape. A.R.T. mainstays Tommy Derrah as The Great Longing (a theatrical and domineering red velvet curtain, characterized mostly through Derrah's deft vocal work and facial expressions, highlighted by a pair of glaring eyes, until later, reduced to human size, he struts his stuff, and performs an outrageously comic striptease) and Remo Airaldi as the Master Sunflower (who is more a Mistress), actor/playwright John Kuntz as the Poppy (in ghoulish makeup suggesting the faded elegance of a Gloria Swanson),  and, in her A.R.T. debut, Margaret Ann Brady as Mary Subprime Deity (one of the Marys, a group of former bridesmaids, a cross between the Radical Faeries and the Chorus in Marat/Sade), are the Equity actors in the group, with credits across the local boards. Gene Dante, a rocker and a performer with the Gold Dust Orphans, drag divas "Rainbow Frite" and "Sabina Sydney, Matt Mauriello, who was hysterical in Roller Disco: The Musical at Oberon last summer, and Alexander Cook (also a member of Actors' Equity) from Underground Theatre's Arabian Nights  are among the familiar faces from the smaller stages, working alongside graduate students of the A.R.T. Institute.
Despite fears to the contrary, the evening did not drag on forever (pun intended). Each of the first four acts is divided by a kyogen intemission, and food and drinks are readily available at a few cash bars and a grilling station set up alongside the Zero Arrow Street building.  Act four, a silent movie projected onto two opposite walls of the Oberon space (cropped down by hanging screens into a cube which we all stood within), segued into the fifth and final act.  And when that act ended, in a moving speech by Taylor Mac that spoke of equality and the right to marry whoever one chooses, I was hoping for a cathartic celebratory dance that could involve the entire room.  It didn't happen.  Could be that, having received that aforementioned kiss, I wanted to dance from the joy in that unexpected "reality check".  (There was some dancing earlier on, during the Dream Ballet Act Three, when cast members drew individual audience members onto the performance space.)  Also, we started at 6,  and it was nearing 10:30.  But more than many other shows that have tried an audience-participation dance finale and only partially succeeded, this was an evening that needed to dance its way out.  Nevertheless, it was an evening that will continue to percolate and pop up in memories of the colorful visuals, the delicious performances, and the genuine heart and talents of Taylor Mac.
A Murderous Pope

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Up and Running: BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON/SpeakEasy, and THE CHOSEN/Lyric Stage

I've fallen behind in covering shows ... as the previous post will detail, I've been "otherwise engaged" but still dashing around town to see everything I possibly can.  Keep inviting me: I'll keep trying to get there.
So, here are a few current offerings ...

With perfect timing, SpeakEasy once again produces a knockout production of a recent New York hit that skewers the American political system by looking back, anachronistically and irreverently at the life of Andrew Jackson.  The cast (including the triumphant return of Mary Callanan, the Boston singer/actress who just toured the country with the ABBA musical MAMA MIA) sells this show with the energy and talent of a company twice their number.  As an antidote to the constant campaigning of an election year, the show gave me a cathartic opportunity to LOL, often, and often ROFL (though I thankfully did not actually get onto the floor).
The "emo" rock score is performed by a small kickass band and complimented by cast members occasionally strumming, blowing a horn, on banging on percussion props and instruments, often giving it a down home feel, while the genocide of Native Americans under Jackson's administration creates a solid and disturbing backdrop, and the history is told with the anachronistic and anarchic energy of a pulpy graphic novel.

The Lyric Stage follows up last season's highly successful dramatization of Chaim Potok's MY NAME IS ASHER LEV with an adaptation of Potok's THE CHOSEN.  The 1999 script, which, unlike ASHER LEV, Potok worked on before his death in 2002, focuses on the main relationships of the novel, with five actors seamlessly presenting the memory play: Charles Linshaw as the adult Reuvan Malter, Zach Eisenstadt as the young Reuben, Luke Murtha as his friend Danny Saunders, and Joel Kolodner as Saunders's father, a revered Rabbi, and Will McGarrahan as Reuvan's Father.  Directed by Daniel Gidron, the production lovingly creates the moods and the tensions within the relationship of the childhood friends and their fathers. 


Kate Paulsen (Elena) and Kevin Fennessy (Telegin) in Apollinaire's UNCLE VANYA
For the past two months, I've been in rehearsal and performance (we're entering the third of a four week run, that's been extended to five) for the remounting of Apollinaire Theatre Company's UNCLE VANYA.  The Craig Lucas adaptation of Chekhov's play was produced last winter, running from Dec.29 for a run that was extended through January 22, and starred John Kuntz as Vanya.
That production was important to me for many reasons: for one, it was my return to acting after seventeen years (aside from a dip in the waters as one of The Miseries in the ART/MIT/Chicago Opera Theatre collaboration "DEATH AND THE POWERS: THE ROBOTS' OPERA", at the Cutler Majestic in the spring of 2011).  Following a long career in theatre as an actor and award-winning director, in 1994 I was offered a job in casting with Carolyn Pickman (CP Casting) and followed it for a run that included my own Casting company and office, which was destroyed in a fire in 2002. (Though the company folded, I continue to "dabble" with some freelance clients and in consulting with colleagues).  My last stage appearance was as the Narrator in the New Repertory Theatre's HOLIDAY MEMORIES, the holiday season show of 1994 that combined two Truman Capote stories, The Thanksgiving Visitor and A Christmas Memory.  (Coincidentally, the New Rep is producing HOLIDAY MEMORIES once again this year, at their Watertown home in the Arsenal Center for the Arts).
But the winter 2011/12 production of UNCLE VANYA came at a very difficult time for me.  My Mom, Georgia Ravanis Fennessy, died on October 25, 2011, and her funeral was on Nov.2, just 9 days before I went into rehearsal.  (The auditions for UNCLE VANYA happened in late August 2011.  I read that John Kuntz was playing Vanya and called director Danielle Fauteux Jacques to set up an audition.  Casting was completed in early September and a rehearsal schedule went out shortly after.  If I hadn't already been cast, I doubt I would have followed the funeral with an audition search).
Telegin (Kevin Fennessy) and Nanny (Ann Carpenter) at tea with the samovar
The rehearsal period and performances were just what I needed to get through a very dark time.  The Theatre, capital T, picked me, wrapped its arms around me and carried me through.  Mom was always so proud of my career in the theatre, and enjoyed saying "Kevin's an actor".  She would beam with a mile-wide smile every time she told the anecdote of my returning home from school one day in the first grade, bursting with the announcement that "the teacher said I read with expression!".  Having the world of the play to immerse myself into, and finding connections to my family in the play, were what kept me going through a period that included my birthday (1/21) and Mom's (1/22).  (As I mentioned, UNCLE VANYA ran through Jan.22, with performances on both of our birthdays.  And with our birthdays so close to each other, that end-of-January time of year became "our" time to celebrate).
It's a year later, and here I am once again performing in UNCLE VANYA, as the anniversary of Mom's passing approaches.  The sadness and grief of October 2011 has gotten easier, as the happiest of memories fill my thoughts.  I miss her now and always, but it does get easier and the joys with which she lived her life daily have become more available to me.  She truly is with me, in my heart, and available whenever I need a reminder.
During the summer, we learned that John Kuntz had been offered a role in THE LILY'S REVENGE, in direct conflict with the planned revival of UNCLE VANYA.  Initially this was taken by the company as a huge blow: how would the show go on?  But this is theatre, and we all know from song and history that "the show MUST go on" ... and that of course it could, and should. We already knew we'd be recasting the roles of The Professor and Elena, as both of the actors in that original company had chosen not to continue in the revival.  I looked at the challenge before us and made a casting suggestion: Diego Arcienegas, a respected and talented actor who could be, and indeed is, the right fit.  Diego was auditioned, along with other appropriate and exciting possibilities, and was cast.  With Diego and two additional "new" actors to the company, Jack Schultz as The Professor and Kate Paulsen as Elena (who Danielle discovered through additional auditions), the rehearsal period became more involved, but also richer than a "mere remounting" would have been.  Our talented newcomers to the cast brought new energies and interpretations, which in turn offered us the opportunity to look at moments and relationships in a different light: not better, not drastically different, but "fresher" than just dusting off the sets and costumes and brushing up our Chekhov.
Diego Arcienegas (Vanya) and Kate Paulsen (Elena) in Apollinaire's UNCLE VANYA

Come see for yourself.  UNCLE VANYA continues Wednesday through Sunday evenings (Wed., Fri., Sun. at 7:30, Fri. and Sat. at 8).  As it's a revival from just last season, most of the area's critics weighed in with reviews on the first round, resulting in nominations from the IRNE and Elliot Norton's , including a win for Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques as Outstanding Director/Fringe Theater from the 2012 Elliot Norton Awards. We did receive a review from WBUR's Critic-At-Large Ed Siegel, which you can read here.  Tickets and additional info at

Friday, September 28, 2012

Coming Monday night, October 1, The StageSource Party!!!

"StageSource provides leadership and services to advance the art of theatre in the Greater Boston region.  Our mission is to unite theatre artists, theatre companies, and related organizations in vision and goals that inspire and empower our community to realize its greatest artistic potential.

I count the start of my career as June 14, 1976, the opening of MAYDAY! , a play about the 1971 May Day demonstrations in Washington DC.  A lifetime ago, but also, almost a decade before the arrival of StageSource, in 1985.
StageSource brought about a huge change in the theatre community, bringing the emerging scene together to support each other's growth and progress.  From the Annual Audition, which serves union and nonunion actors companies and productions alike, to the many workshops, seminars, newsletters and events, StageSource is at the center of our community.
And no event was as much fun as the annual party, an opportunity to socialize and scmooze, which has been on hiatus for a few years.  

But it's back!!! Celebrate the return of the  StageSource Party, Monday Oct. 1, at Oberon.  The party is a benefit for all the various programs that StageSource provides.
From the StageSource website:
"Enjoy an evening of fun, dancing, beveraging and high school hijinks theater style while supporting the services StageSource provides for the Greater Boston theater community.  Break out your poodle skirt, dust off your K-tel albums, put on your Members Only jacket, grab your best Doc Martens and make some magic.  StageSource will transform the Oberon into your high school gymnasium for an experience far superior to your prom featuring a photo booth, balloon popping, silent auction, light snacks, and a killer sound track so nostalgic we guarantee someone will be crying in a corner by the end of the night!"

Tickets are only $25, and are available here (or save a $4 service charge and go to the ART Box Office at the Loeb) or at the door.
There will also be raffles and silent auctions so bring some money and a generous spirit.
See you there!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Fleeting Joys of August On The Fringe: R&J at Happy Medium, The Third Story at Titanic, and New Exhibition Room's ZOMBIE DOUBLE FEATURE

As summer winds down, the doors to the kingdom are left unlocked for the people to play in the palace ... or something like that.  In recent years, the spaces that are busy all season with resident companies become available, sometimes for lesser rates and mostly for limited runs, to the homeless theaters of the Boston Fringe.  Two or three week runs, some longer, have opened and are running and closing this week and next, at the BCA Plaza and Calderwood theaters, Boston Playwrights Theater, and at the Black Box at the Arsenal Center in Watertown, among others.
I've seen a few (R&J at the BCA, The Third Story in Watertown), I'm seeing one tonight  ("Zombie Double Feature", two one-act Zombie plays at BPT).

Romeo and Juliet, Happy Medium Theater, BCA Plaza Theater thru 8/25
From what one can read in all of the publicity material, Happy Medium knows that the real star of its production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is the director, Paula Plum.  And it really is a triumphant fringe production, rising far above its limitations and my expectations.
While it feels somewhat like the culmination of a master class in performing Shakespeare with one of Boston's most respected "actor/director/teacher"s, it succeeds in presenting a clear and direct "no frills" production.  The unit set, by Bryan Prywes, of three portals, the requisite balcony, an open plaza and darkened entryways, are aided by Daniel Chavez's lighting, to create a fluctuating environment for fluid scene changes.  Too often on the fringe, costume budgets and constraints make for an incomplete picture, but that's not the case here, as Jillian Clark's costumes are very much of a whole.  And though I think the physical production is nicely realized, I had some confusion as to where this production was set.  With its vaguely Middle Eastern setting, and the contrast of flowing linen and vests on the Montague side and a more tailored "European" look to the Capulets, and a black Romeo and white Juliet, it was difficult to place the production.  A woman, Kiki Samko, as the Prince and Chorus, added to the sense that this was happening during a culture clash in a world other than Shakespeare's Verona, and at another time, though it wasn't clear when.  Angie Jepson's fight choreography is fantastic, and, again, well realized, especially in the performances of Michael Underhill as Tybalt and Jesse Wood as Paris..
The performances were also clear and direct.  These mostly young actors presented intelligent and well motivated characters, without extraneous clutter.  Besides Underhill and Wood, some standouts include Joey Pelletier's very physical and often lyrical Mercutio, the comic relief and timing of Mikey DiLoreto's Benvolio, June Kfoury's Nurse, and the majestic "single Mom" of Sharon Squires as Lady Montague.

The Third Story, by Charles Busch, Titanic Theatre Company, at the Arsenal Center for the Arts Black Box Theater, Watertown, thru 8/19 only
The newest fringe theater on the scene, Titanic Theatre Company, is made up of some fine veterans of the local theater scene, presenting the local premiere of Charles Busch's The Third Story.  The script is another in a series of genre parody comedies from the author of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Sleeping Beauty, or Coma, and Psycho Beach Party (all of which I directed in their local premieres from 1993 to 1995).  But Charles is also the author of the more realistic Broadway comedy Tale of the Allergist's WIfe, which earned Tony  nominations, for Best Play ,and Best Actress for leading actress Linda Lavin.   The Third Story lies somewhere in between.
It's a comedy full of Charles' famous way with words, puns and the period vernacular of  Hollywood of the Golden Age, of hardened tarts and cigar chomping gangsters, chorus cuties and Grand Dames.  The three stories that intertwine to make the intricate plot concern a Science Fiction/Gangster screenplay being written as we watch, a redemptive fairy tale woven by a Mother for her child, and the relationship of a Mother/Son writing team, a broken partnership trying to be regained.
The Titanic company rises to the challenge presenting one of the funniest shows currently running, and ONLY running through this Sunday.
The proverbial "Worth The Price of Admission" Medal goes to Rick Park's entrances, as Queenie, the Charles Busch "Leading Lady" who he manages to put his own stamp on, and as that character's clone, Queenie 2. Not a small person to begin with, Rick brings new meaning to "larger than life" in his Grande characterization of this Grande Dame.  (His "sotto voce" asides are hysterically appropriate and wholly his own).  I don't think I've ever seen Alisha Jansky look quite as tall, long and lithe as here in her period pencil line skirts and lab coats. (Alisha famously created the role of Chicklet's best friend, Berdine the ultimate 60's nerd, in my '93 production of Psycho Beach Party and it's '95 revival).  Shelley Brown maintains a commanding presence as the Mother of the writing team and as a character in her screenplay, while Brett Milanowski is having almost too much fun with his creation of the sci-fi experiment gone wrong, though I can't imagine it being played any other way than gleefully. Erin Eva Butcher camps up the golddigging gun moll, all giltter and intent, while nicely underplaying the innocence of the heroine of the fairy tale.  Jordan Sobel does a great about face in his two roles, as the screenplay's gangster and the screenwriting son.  With the addition of eyeglasses, he changes pitch and tone, body language and characters as easily as changing out of his coat.
Congratulations to director Adam Zahler and the Titanic Theatre Company, and best wishes for a long and bright future.  While the production may not completely solve the transitions of the plays difficult tones and themes, the characters and camp carry the show for a two-hour ride.

Zombie Double Feature : Terror at BPT (written and directed by Dawn M. Simmons) and Midnight at the Last Night Cabaret (written and directed by A. Nora Long)
The Zombie Apocalypse continues, this weekend and next, as two original one-act Zombie plays are presented by New Exhibition Room at the Boston Playwrights' Theater.  The waiting areas begin to fill with couples, threesomes and small groups of theatregoers, as well as solos like me, while the front theater remains open and dark.  It doesn't appear very inviting.  And rather than enter, we all wait, slightly uneasy but just as ready for some chills and laughs as the Zombie genre intersects with Boston's fringe theatre.
And then it's 8:00 and the calmly patient audience is disrupted by characters darting through the lobby, and just as suddenly we're led into the back theater, where The Vicar will hold his revival meeting.
Part theme-event, part parody, the first half of the night, Terror at BPT, had us as captives in the theater where the Zombie Apocalypse has arrived.  
In the second play, Midnight at the Last Night Cabaret, we are again playing the role of audience members at an impromptu cabaret in the BPT as the Zombie Apocalypse explodes outside the theater.  
The lines between horror and camp, music and comedy blur as the "rules" of Zombie Culture are set up and broken.  Some wonderful moments of tension and suspense are played out, while we await the inevitable gore and gross-outs.  And the inevitable Michael Jackson flash mob dance number gets turned on it's severed head.
Both shows are basically theatrical excuses to allow the New Exhibitionists permission to get their Zombie on.  The plays conform to the Basic Rules of Zombie-Dom: the undead seek fresh human meat and blood, and once bitten by a zombie, one dies and returns as one of the flesh seekers.
Terrence Haddad seems limitless in his ability to disjoint his joints and struggle with his Inner Zombie.  Both the physical contortions he gets into and the verbal attempts he lets out combine to hysterical effect.   And his final moments in Terror at the BPT rival Boris Karloff's monster for unexpected pathos.  Greer Rooney performs another hysterical sketch with a "puppet", a prop that she wrestles with, giving it a life of it's own.  In fact, Zombie puppets are also a part of this Apocalypse!  
Every one, Hannah Husband, Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Bryan Daley, Terrance Haddad, Greer Rooney, Bob Mussett (and his ukelele), Melissa DeJesus, and Omar Robinson, brings a gleeful joy to playing with prosthetic body parts and innards, and the directors, A. Nora Long and Dawn M. Simmons, keep the pace flowing, though I felt that some bits meandered while getting to the point.  It would be nice, for example, to have the musicians accompany more of the Cabaret songs, which might move them along.  The addition of live musicians in such a rock-and-roll format was a great idea, and the pieces set to their soundtrack, "inadvertant" cabaret acts during which a zombie, attempting to perform a simple task, "becomes" the show, were nonverbal highlights, and I would have liked to see them more fully integrated into the Cabaret.  (A sign at the theater announced that the musicians for last night's show were Brendan and TJ.  I don't know how often they perform, or who the alternating musicians are or what their schedules are).  
But even as is, the 2 hour 15 minute show, with intermission, moves along leaving little time to question and plenty of time to laugh.