While I regret missing out on the Emerging Artist's Festival this past weekend, I spent time dashing around seeing local theater, and having a great time doing it.
Last Friday I began the weekend with HALF-WITS, at the Boston Playwrights' Theater (two remaining performance, Fri. and Sat. May 21 & 22 at 8).
Produced by the Son- Mother team of Charlie and Dossy Peabody, with direction by Charlie, HALF-WITS is a collection of sketches by Larry Blamire (and one from the director). It's a winning evening, and an introduction to Larry's comic mind.
Written over 20 years ago, the sketches stand up to contemporary themes: maintaining human dignity in a challenging society. Larry's sketches and characters are drawn in bold strokes, and established quickly in the first few moments; conflicts ensue, and we're off. From the opening, a scene in a restaurant with the world's worst waitress, revealed as a public service announcement, to the closing (watch as the quartet of neurotic characters, a customer, the manager and the employees of a copy shop, work out a method to complete the simplest of tasks, against all odds), it's a world of lost connections and miscommunication, but not for lack of trying. With pure "let's-put-on-a-show" energy and talent, the Theatre Nine production is a bare-bones treat, and reminds those of us who know Larry's work of his comic beginnings, and introduces a new audience. Click here for more about Larry Blamire.
Saturday afternoon, my Mom and I saw the Wheelock Family Theater's charming adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Simply and theatrically, Jim Byrne created an under-and-over-the-sea set for both worlds. Margaret Ann Brady's Sea Witch was a hoot! Her fabulously evil and delicious cackling laugh is Wicked-Witch/CruellaDeVille perfection! (Oh, and did I mention her Whale Song? Margaret Ann sings like a whale. A. Whale. Song. On porpoise!) (couldn't resist). Congratulations to Jane Staab and the Wheelock Family Theatre.
Saturday evening was The Gulls, Ryan Landry's hysterical adaptation of Hitchcock's The Birds. Led by Scott Marino (AKA Penny Champayne) in a Tippi-Hedren-channelling performance, everything you've heard is true: The Gulls by Ryan Landry is a riot! Reliably and outrageously silly. Go for the thrills of seeing an aviary of birds attack a gaggle of sturm und drag actors in the basement of a bar! (at Machine thru the end of this month).
Sunday afternoon, friends and I made the trek to the Merrimack Repertory Theatre's closing performance of The Blonde, The Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead, starring tonight's Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence winner, Karen MacDonald. Though the play wasn't all I'd hoped it would be, Karen's brilliant talents were on full display, in a one-person tour-de-force, creating characters, male and female, ranging from a 4 1/2 yr old boy, to an octagenarian widow. Directed by Emerson College's Melia Bensussen, the sold-out house gave Karen a well-deserved rousing standing ovation.
And now the reminder:
The Elliot Norton Awards, tonight at the Paramount Theater. As of 2:00 pm, there were still tickets available, but only by going to the box office, opening at 6pm. Doors to the theatre open at 6:30, awards ceremony at 7, and various after-parties are being hosted by nominees and winners.
As mentioned above, this year's Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence will be presented to Karen Macdonald.
Special Guests include former ART company member Tony Shalhoub and his wife, actress Brooke Adams.
Celebrate the vibrant 2009-2010 theater season! See you there.