This month, we feature:
The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion
Pants Role Nation
Written by Laura Neubauer
Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio
Boston Center for the Arts
Plaza Black Box Theatre
539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
June 16 – July 1, 2017
Boston Public Works closes shop with its last original play, Los Meadows, by Laura Neubauer. The company has produced seven new plays for the Boston area over its lifetime, and, while we are sad to see them go, we are so thankful for the risk-taking and adventure that they have brought to the theatre community. From the Boston Public Works website: “When you’re from Las Vegas, it’s easy to leave and never look back. After years of make their own way the Barry sisters decided to surprise Mom for the holidays. The only problem is no one told them she’s been living on the streets.” Following in a recent trend to speak about homelessness in our theatres, such as in Off-Broadway’s Roughly Speaking and Broadway’s a cappella musical In Transit, Los Meadows seems to make strides in breaking down a stigma of creating an emotional journey for a family facing economic hardship and uncertainty. This kind of socio-economic theatre is important for a community like Boston which faces one of the highest rates of homelessness, and it is rising each year. We need an opportunity to discuss homelessness and the impact on our families and communities, and I am thankful for the Boston Public Works and Laura Neubauer for producing and writing a play that tackles these issues head on. Olivia D’Ambrosio’s smart, respectful directing returns to helm the production with an impressive core team of predominantly women.
Written by Neil Labute
Directed by Juliet Bowler
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA
June 9 – 24, 2017
Neil LaBute is in a class of controversial playwrights with David Mamet (and, now, surprisingly, Edward Albee), but more for the uncompromising topics at the forefront in his plays than because of his (or his estate’s) off-stage behavior. While perhaps most famous for his break-out play The Shape of Things, Fat Pig is one of his strongest scripts and a play ripe for our stages, despite over 10 years since its Off-Broadway premiere. The play centers around a professional man who develops a romantic relationship with a plus-size woman; complications ensue when his friends begin commenting upon her being “fat.” The flurry of prejudice and opinions keep this play feeling as timely as ever. In a reversal of roles, Juliet Bowler directs and Lindsay Eagle performs as Helen, a unique opportunity to see an actor direct and a director act. The performance comes during the rise of Flat Earth Theatre as one of the premiere fringe theatres. Established in 2006, Flat Earth has had a recent record of success, including its Silent Sky, Farnsworth Invention, Radium Girls, and Terra Nova. Its ability to meld smart productions with some of the consistently best fringe talents makes it a Boston staple; its commitment to gender parity, fringe theatre aesthetics, and strong leadership make it exemplary Boston theatre.
Written by Melina Lopez
Directed by Lois Roach
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Alumnae Hall
Wellesley College, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA
June 1 – 25, 2017
Local playwright and actress Melinda Lopez’s play gets a Greater Boston revival after a 2004 premiere at the Huntington Theatre, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In Sonia Flew, as mother of two children and wife to a Jewish man, Sonia must reflect and come to terms with her past, after her parents, fearful of the new government, sent her to the United States from Cuba in 1961. It is a gorgeous story of family and socio-political identity, as Sonia learns to accept her adopted country and resolve her feelings for her lost parents in the face of own children. Lopez is a Boston legend for her smart, passionate, and ground-breaking playwriting. Her unflinching politicism always feels tender and unforced in her characters and plays because of their grounded relationships and strong dialogue. It is time that more of her plays are revived in Boston, especially as they continue to be published by reputable publishers like Dramatists Plays. The ability to reinforce successful Boston playwrights allows us to leverage local talent while producing successful and timely theatre.
THE MIDVALE HIGH SCHOOL FIFTIETH REUNION
Written by Alan Brody
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
June 1 – July 2, 2017
The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion may seem like an odd choice for a Must See Feature, but hear me out. Debra Wise, Artistic Director of the Underground Theatre Company, stars with Emmy-winning and Tony-nominated Gordon Clapp in this memory play of romance and new beginnings. Sarah Elizabeth Bedard and Matthew Zahnzinger perform as their younger selves as the plays twists and turns through nostalgia and missed connections. With an aging population of Baby Boomers, our society needs more of these tender memory plays and opportunities for older actors to engage in meaningful work. I am excited to see a play understand that life is not over after 50 and that love can blossom at any age. As I consider my mother’s own remarriage after my father’s passing, I find comfort in knowing that my parents’ generation has hope of finding companionship and comfort in later life. Central Square Theater continues to explore innovative theatre for all generations in their programming and style. Their presentation of excellence is unwavering.
PANTS ROLE NATION
255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA
June 7, 2017 at 7:30pm
While not your typical production, this self-described “ovaries-to-the-wall” Variety Show features some of Boston’s favorite theatre performers for a one-night-only benefit for Simple Machine and Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company. More importantly, it features talented female-identified performers offering up songs, scenes, and speeches originally written for men in a gender-bent and innovative twist. Featuring Leigh Barrett, Angie Jepson Marks, Maureen Keiller, Lizzie Milanovich, Meredith Stypinski, and many more. Come see these actresses kill it while you kill a bottle of wine, all to raise funds for the joint fall production of Or by Liz Duffy Adams about a kick-ass female playwright, Aphra Behn. It seems to be a night of Who’s Who of Boston, both on-stage and off-stage, so you don’t want to miss it.