REVIEW: Complex exploration of era’s biggest crook debuts with its own back story

Imagining Madoff/Stageworks Hudson

IN CASE YOU LEFT the planet for a while after 2008, let me introduce Bernie Madoff, the “wealth management” mogul, who now resides in  prison for having bilked wealthy individuals, banks, unions, and  charitable organizations out of billions of dollars. The real-life Madoff is scheduled to be in there for 150 years or–you know.

What an idea for a play! Read more…

REVIEW: Characters shine in Christie classic

Spider’s Web/Theater Barn/New Lebanon

ABE PHELPS’ SET has intense, dark green walls and wainscoting dotted with red plush side chairs. It suggests right away that the evening may deliver impact along with familiar Agatha Christie comforts. And it does. Mostly.

For a while, audience brains are engaged in filing away the web data that rat-a-tats from the stage (no, not that kind of data–the spider’s kind–the plot kind). But eventually, under the care of charming Melissa Macleod Herion as Clarissa, endearing John Trainor as Sir Rowland and keen, importuning John Philip Cromie as the investigating officer, characters come shining through.

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REVIEW: ‘Our Town’ weaves its magic at PS/21

“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure,” says one of the characters in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” and the magical thing about seeing it under the Tent at PS/21 in Chatham is that, if you look up and to your right, there’s the moon in the sky. I don’t know what a potato moon looks like, but it should look like what the audience saw the other night during Walking the dog Theater’s exquisite production of the venerable play.

As the Stage Manager, David Anderson is our amiable guide through the lives, loves and deaths of the people of Grover’s Corners; part Greek chorus, part Godlike figure, he wanders about the stage commenting on the action, interviewing the characters, imparting words of wisdom. With minimal sets and virtually no props, the characters go about their daily lives in what may seem to us now to be an idealized version of a small American town at the turn of the 20th century. But there is a reason this play has endured through the generations; it speaks to universal truths in a folksy, accessible way while maintaining the pure poetry of its language. Read more…

THEATER REVIEW: One-man play re-examines role of art in an age of horrors

“Mengelberg and Mahler”

By Daniel Klein

Shakespeare & Company

Lenox, Mass.

THE HUMMING ALLITERATION of “Mengelberg and Mahler” is pleasant, but the title is not going to send mobs of theater-goers racing to the box office. Pity, because the play is 90 minutes of absorbing, amusing, life-examining theater, and the playcraft is well-honed, having been through a film iteration before coming to the stage. Read more…

THEATER REVIEW: This ‘Sweeney Todd’ production finds recipe for success

Sweeney Todd

Barrington Stage Company

WHEN MOST CONTEMPORARY OPERA composers are a mere cyber-blip, there will be Sondheim. Unless we bump ourselves off the planet, centuries from now our great great great grandchildren will have “Sweeney Todd.”

“Sweeney” is an opera for people who avoid opera. It’s musical theater for people who disdain “Hairspray” and “Beauty and the Beast” and song recitations disguised as musicals. Read more…