Week of January 14, 2024
1. “RENT” at Iron Crow Theatre
“While some of his [Sean Elias’] changes serve to strip down the show to its essential elements or to bring out its gritty realism, others reinvigorate it with welcome bursts of theatrically, helping maintain the sparkle of the show and make it, again, feel genuinely fresh.” – Ilana Jael
Synopsis: Experience the pop culture phenomenon and electrifying pulse of Jonathan Larson’s masterpiece – RENT! In this daringly reenvisioned production set against the raw canvas of New York City’s Lower East Side at the height of the squatter movement and decimated by the ravages of HIV/AIDS, drugs, and homelessness, RENT is a celebration of love, a testament to human resilience, and a rallying cry for seizing the moment and making your dreams a reality.
Recipient of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT draws loose inspiration from Puccini’s La Boheme. The musical chronicles a year in the life of a chosen family of struggling young artists, musicians, and activists struggling to survive long enough to leave something behind. The musical exploration of how these vibrant bohemians negotiate their art, authenticity, and time left on earth weaves a groundbreaking tale that transcends generations, resonating with audiences of all ages.
2. “A Commedia Romeo & Juliet” at Faction of Fools Theatre Company
“…a truly gut-busting hour of theatrical joy…superb direction of Kathryn Zoerb…an absolute success.” – Miles Hurley
Synopsis: Join the Fools for the return of a foolish favorite! Romeo and Juliet, the classic story of two young lovers divided by a family feud, borrows heavily from the tradition of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. Last performed in 2012, this high-octane version of Romeo and Juliet, featuring five actors in a one-hour performance, brings physical spectacularity to Shakespeare’s poetry and highlights the tragedy by juxtaposing it with humor. Our 2024 remount is performed by two rotating casts, both alike in dignity: the “Montague Cast” and the “Capulet Cast.”
3. ”Love, Love, Love” at Studio Theatre
“…give audiences of any generation plenty to think about…Bennett and Moore bring an electricity to their roles that you can’t look away from…” – Seth Rose
Synopsis: It’s London, 1967, and the sixties are in full swing when we meet Ken and Sandra, two carefree spirits in a world that belongs to the young. Love, Love, Love drops in with them over the next 44 years, from free love to middle-class comfort to well-compensated retirement—when their adult daughter accuses them of squandering the world they inherited. Mike Bartlett turns his sharp eye and biting humor on the Baby Boomers and the generation they spawned.
4. “Jersey Boys” at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts
“…the foursome come as close to simulating the sound and original movements as any pop impersonators in recent memory…taut direction…” – Brian Bochicchio
Synopsis: With phenomenal music, memorable characters, and great storytelling, Jersey Boys follows the fascinating evolution of four blue-collar kids who became one of the greatest successes in pop-music history. Winner of Best Musical at both the Tony Awards® and Olivier Awards®, Jersey Boys takes you behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons to discover the secret of a 40-year friendship as the foursome work their way from the streets of New Jersey to the heights of stardom. Enjoy electrifying performances of chart-topping hits including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Dawn,” and “My Eyes Adored You,” which brought The Four Seasons the highest honor: induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
5. “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon-Marigolds” at Spotlighters Theatre
“…themes of passion and optimism that can transcend adversity. This impressive all-female company tells a unique and powerful story about atoms and—so much more.” – Ilana Jael
Synopsis: The old, converted vegetable shop where Tillie lives is more like a madhouse than a home. Tillie’s mother, Beatrice, is bitter and cruel, yet desperate for her daughters’ love. Her sister, Ruth, suffers epileptic fits and sneaks cigarettes every chance she gets. In the midst of chaos, Tillie struggles to keep her focus and dreams alive. Tillie – keeper of rabbits, dreamer of atoms, true believer in life, hope, and the effects of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
HONORABLE MENTION: “The Gin Game” at Compass Rose Theatre
“Luby and Elias make their characters very real and extremely familiar under director Wade’s deft hand. ‘The Gin Game’ is an intense look at hard truths and leaves the audience with a lot to think about.” – Sue Tilberry
Synopsis: In this winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, two residents at a retirement home play repeated games of gin rummy which are revealed as metaphors for their lives. Their hilarious, feisty games reveal the laughter, tears, and intimate details of their long lives and the bittersweet realities of their most challenging chapter.