SpeakEasy's "A Future Perfect" Presents Imperfect Playwriting

I appreciate the SpeakEasy's willingness (even eagerness, at this point) to produce new works.  SpeakEasy Stage Company chose an impressive season of risks and challenges, diversifying the Boston theatre scene with each of their productions.  Ken Urban's world premiere production of A Future Perfect poses unexpected risks and challenges for this Boston staple theatre company.  The actors and director rise to the challenge, but the script leaves them in a precarious place of performing a play that's so much "been there, done that" that I expected someone to have bought the T-shirt by now.  Urban's play stays in such a safe and cozy place for the play's 100-minute performance that the audience is lured into a false sense of perfection, where the future is all but certain and the play's characters tread lightly to avoid saying or doing anything to step out of the mold in which they were written.

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Heavenly Jennifer Ellis Shines

SpeakEasy Stage Company’s Far From Heaven made the My Theatre (Boston) Must See list for many reasons, but the best reason was the all-star cast. Somehow, SpeakEasy, under the steady leadership of Director Scott Edmiston, assembled some of the best talent in Boston for this hopelessly-flawed musical. The production is not flawed, but it’s hard to see heaven when you’re looking at the imperfect world in Hartford, Connecticut in 1957. Thankfully, many of the actors shine through the darkness, but few as brightly and brilliantly as Jennifer Ellis as Cathy Whitaker.

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SpeakEasy’s "Carrie" Is a Bloody Mess

Carrie: The Musical has an awful book; there, I said it. Lawrence D. Cohen took every piece of camp from Stephen King’s popular novel, and removed almost all of the humanity from the characters to create a one-note musical of epic proportions. The SpeakEasy Stage Company attempts to amend this broken musical, but, under the less-than-capable leadership of Director Paul Melone, the production struggles to piece together the mismatch of pieces. While some My Theatre (Boston) favorites make some noteworthy attempts at this flawed piece, the production is belabored by odd technical and directorial choices, which leave the musical as awkward-seeming as its teenage protagonist.

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"The Color Purple" is a Beautiful Tapestry of Performances

SpeakEasy Stage Company presents a moving and thoroughly enjoyable, even grandiose but always heartfelt, production of The Color Purple. Based on the novel by Alice Walker and the hit movie, the musical is an immersive tale of Celie, an “ugly” African-American woman who has enough heartache and troubles for us all, as she journeys from a young girl who is raped by her father to a mature woman who finds love and comfort in her family and friends, and, moreover, herself. SpeakEasy really out-does itself at the hands of masterful director Paul Daigneault (2013 My Theatre Nominee for In the Heights). Daigneault assembles a truly stunning ensemble who delivers the voice and heart to this soulful production. This may be one of the “the” shows to see for the season.

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"In The Heights" Hits High Notes

SpeakEasy Stage Company’s newest production In the Heights dazzles as a proud piece of socioeconomic exploration. The musical took New York City by storm in 2008 as a Tony-winning Best Musical, and SpeakEasy stages its own production with the same passion. While the leads lack some of the star quality necessary to sell their stories, the ensemble’s heart beats on for the lost culture and part of the city.

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SpeakEasy's "Clybourne Park"

I love the idea of unfinished stories. In theatre, we often walk out of a performance knowing that the characters’ stories carry on (with the exception of Hamlet, where I’m not sure if anything or anyone continues). Luckily for me, I had the pleasure of seeing SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of Clybourne Park, 2012 Tony Award-winning play by Bruce Norris. SpeakEasy does not disappoint with this treasure of unanswered questions, discussions regarding race and acceptance, and examinations spanning generations. Let me start by encouraging you not to miss this gem.

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Bloody Bloody Andrew Who? Or He’s So Not That Guy

SpeakEasy, you never disappoint. After a short hiatus from reviewing their shows, I’m back and more impressed than ever. While the production has some minor issues (I call them minor because they were vastly overwhelmed by the good), the production rocks. Yes, we’ve hit the era of rock musicals, which take a seemingly mundane topic and turn the topic into the course of an epic journey for the audience. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is self-aware, smart, and engaging in its hour-and-a-half performance. SpeakEasy brings this farcical show to its stage during a particularly poignant time in our nation’s history, resonating with this reviewer. Kudos to SpeakEasy and Paul Daigneault, for their continued excellence in selecting the perfect shows to complement their season.

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SpeakEasy's "Next to Normal"

SpeakEasy succeeded again in wowing me with their impressive, emotional interpretation of Next to Normal. While I missed the original on Broadway, I have difficulty believing that Alice Ripley did a better job at portraying the suffering Diana or that Jennifer Damiano acted with more pathos. Don’t miss this sure-to-be-award-winning production running until April 15.

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SpeakEasy's Artful Turn of "Red"

Ever since I had the pleasure of seeing their impressive production of Next Fall last September, I’ve been consistently surprised and excited by SpeakEasy Stage Company’s 2011-2012 season.  Their most recent production of the Tony-winning Red delivers even stronger performances by the small, but intensely talented cast. Not only is the direction and acting strikingly poignant, but the production company strikes a delicate and appreciated balance in its use of lights and sounds to create a truly visceral experience.

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Tony-Nominated Play Gets New England Premiere

It’s remarkable how many meanings that the word “fall” can take in our daily lives. We fall asleep, we fall down, we fall in love, we fall back on those we love. This fall, I was delighted to attend SpeakEasy Stage Company’s New England premiere of Next Fall by Arlington, MA-native Geoffrey Nauffts. This stunning piece of theatre had audiences falling in line to see the 2010 Tony-nominee for Best Play on Broadway. The awards and accolades are no surprise to me; the script is punchy, poignant, and moving. The Boston community is fortunate enough to have a cast and director with the sensitivity and talent to navigate the many nuances of Naufft’s script for the full-range of meanings on the play’s clever title

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