ArtsImpulse Must See: June 2015

One of my goals as part of ArtsImpulse is to inspire young millennials to attend the theatre.  Why does my generation shy away from theatre?  What keeps us from engaging as a community to share in storytelling?  With the internet, we are even more connected; perhaps, we don't need communal storytelling -- we have Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Twitter for that.  But, as this month demonstrated, there is something vibrant about the theatre, especially when it touches part of our everyday lives, proving to be as accessible as it poignant.  Each of these Must See productions should appeal to audience members of any age, but, even more so, to the twenty-something millennials. 

Yes, I know, Our Town was a snooze-fest in high school, but under the guidance of the Boston Opera Collaborative, the production is deconstructed and examines a simpler time, a world of youth, love, and death with characters, friendships, and lovers to believe in.  Our of Sterno is another hard sell, but, as we struggle to understand equality and acceptance, we can't help but be drawn into the kooky world and its many parallels to our own misogynistic, inequitable reality.  Dreamgirls is an anthem of hope, dreaming, and friendships; as a young professional, I can’t help but be drawn into the whirlwind of success and the hope for something more.  The Farnsworth Invention speaks in a language that is familiar and welcome to millennials – Sorkin knows how to write for an educated, passionate, and energetic class of people.  His people are bright, hungry, and eager, the perfect rhythm of our ambitions and laziness.  And, finally, we have Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them.  I can’t think of a better production for people, young and old, to experience together.  In a heartwarming tale just on the other side of reality, three adolescents struggle to overcome their fears, their math homework, and their parents.  In what could be a trite experiment in putting twenty-somethings in the shoes of teenagers, Company One through A. Rey Pamatmat’s insightful and spunky play is right on target. 

What kinds of theatre speak to you as a generation?  What plays or musicals do millennials need to see onstage to feel engaged and interested?  These are some of my thoughts for the summer, as I attend these Must See productions.

This month, we feature:

  • EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM by Company One
  • THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION by Flat Earth Theatre
  • DREAMGIRLS by North Shore Music Theatre
  • OUR TOWN by Boston Opera Collaborative
  • OUR OF STERNO by Gloucester Stage Company
EdithCanShootThingsAndHitThem

EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM (New England Premiere)

By A. Rey Pamatmat

Directed by Shawn LaCount

Company One

The Boston Center for the Arts

Deane Hall

539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

About the Production

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June 4 - 27, 2015

A New England premiere isn’t something to miss.  A New England premiere with another New England premiere at the Huntington Theatre Company by the same playwright is too good to be true.  A. Rey Pamatmat has invaded Boston in the very best way, and his Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them is a play packed with the punch and wit to own a place in your heart. It’s a fabulous coming of age story for people who have reached the age beyond childhood but haven’t quite reached adulthood and what it means to grow up in our crazy world.  Featuring Maria Jan Carreon, Eddie Shields, and Gideon Bautista, the cast is a young and vibrant mix of emerging artists in the Boston theatre scene, directed by award-winning and clever Shawn LaCount.  Company One’s success in breaking down barriers, projecting new social norms through its theatre, and creating both immersive and provocative new theatre makes them one of the finest theatre companies in Boston.

TheFarnsworthInvention

THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION

By Aaron Sorkin

Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz

Flat Earth Theatre

Arsenal Center for the Arts

321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA 02472

About the Production

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June 12 - 27, 2015  

Do you love Aaron Sorkin?  Because I do.  While I admit that my own television viewing skews towards the more mundane and less intellectual (but I’ll always love you, Gossip Girl), Sorkin’s writing is spot-on brilliant and creates interesting and complex characters with clipping dialogue that perfectly matches the atmosphere that he creates in his stories.  In his The Farnsworth Invention, we’re introduced to the mystery and accolades behind the man who invented the television, and the conflict with the self-made millionaire and the down-on-his-luck inventor as they struggle to be remembered for their contributions.  The compelling story and strong dialogue make the play enjoyable, but it is the winning cast assembled by Flat Earth Theatre that will make the play a memorable experience.  

Dreamgirls(NSMT)

DREAMGIRLS

Book and lyrics by Tom Eyer

Music by Henry Krieger

Directed and choreographed by Nick Kenkel

Music directed by Jesse Vargas

North Shore Music Theatre

62 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915

About the Production

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June 2 - 14, 2015

This musical almost needs no introduction; the Dreamworks and Paramount Picture movie solidified its success in our hearts.  Drawing inspiration from the success of other R&B musicians such as The Supremes, Dreamgirls follows a young female singing trio called “The Dreams” on its rise to success, and the troubles along the way.  It is a classic story of ambitions, music, and love, but most of all dreams.  Each of the characters has a dream in his or her heart and a song in his or her voice.  You’ll recognize show-stopping numbers like “Steppin’ to the Bad Side,” “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” and, of course, “Dreamgirls.”  It’s a show that rises and falls on its Effie, Deena, and Lorrell, and the North Shore Music Theatre has the credibility and acclaim to attract singers and performers who can nail these characters and their songs.  With our fascination with celebrity life and the life behind the music, we should not miss the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and the struggle of Dreamgirls as they sing their way into our hearts. 

OurTown(opera)

OUR TOWN (Opera)

By Ned Rorem

Directed by Greg Smucker

Music directed by Jean Anderson Collier

Boston Opera Collaborative

The Modern Theatre at Suffolk University

525 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111

About the Production

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 June 13 - 19, 2015

Our Town has become one of my favorite plays and stories.  It is an acknowledgement and appreciation of our American history as well as a reflection on what really matters.  It a gorgeously simple story that continues to resonate, making it ripe for adaptation.  The Boston Opera Collaborative performs Ned Rorem’s opera in the sunny month of June.  This intimate chamber opera mirrors Wilder’s sparseness, focusing on the strong melodic songs rather than the dense orchestral score.  The focus is, and always will be, on the characters and their lives, from birth to maturity to death.  The biggest concern is transforming the Stage Manager, the play’s most famous and important character, into someone accessible and relatable, despite singing poetic bits.  Thankfully, the Boston Opera Collaborative has cast an assortment of familiar and new voices to their production, especially Ms. DellaFera and Ms. Shechtman sharing the role of Emily Webb, and Ms. Gregg as Mrs. Soames.  For this month, let’s remember what’s really important in our daily lives, by appreciating the wonderful art and opera in Boston.

OutofSterno

OUT OF STERNO

By Deborah Zoe Laufer

Directed by Paula Plum

Gloucester Stage

267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA 01930

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June 25 - July 18, 2015

Gloucester Stage is doing a lot of wonderful things right now; from its Apprentice Program to its NeverDark series to its stellar season, Gloucester Stage is on the rise and we’re happy to enjoy the sunshine.  In its upcoming Out of Sterno, actor-director Paula Plum chooses a play with hilarious and dark comedy overtones (a la Durang and Lindsay-Abaire) and infuses it with some real questions about the way that we live our lives, what it takes to grow up, and who decides what it means to grow up and be the man or woman that we’re supposed to be. The stellar cast of 2014 ArtsImpulse Best Leading Actress in  a Musical Award winner Jennifer Ellis, Richard Snee, Amanda Collins, and Noah Tuleja make the trip to Gloucester not only fulfilling but necessary.