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Theater

Youth, Identity, AIDS, It’s All Here

Theater: 'Rent'
leong@lakevillejournal.com

The exhilarating, seminal Broadway rock opera, “Rent,” is exploding on the Tri-Arts stage in an exciting, propulsive, moving production that is the best I’ve ever seen there.

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Just a Fella and His Dog

Theater: 'Sylvia'
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Sylvia is unlike the usual “other woman.” She’s frisky, adoring, devoted; she sits and stays and rolls over on command (well, usually). She’s sexy in fishnet stockings or down home in sweatshirt and jeans. She loves middle-aged Greg, who picked her up in the park, with an almost embarrassing adoration, but she wants his wife, Kate, to like her, too.
Sylvia, of course, is a dog.

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The Sedaris Kids Hit Town

Theater: ‘The Book of Liz’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

The Talent Family, otherwise known as brother and sister David and Amy Sedaris, have brought us “The Book of Liz,” a strange and sometimes funny play about the reclusive Squeamish sect in the community of Clusterhaven.
The Squeamish men are bearded, stern fellows who are a little hard on their womenfolk who scurry about in long black dresses, support the community by growing chives and making cheeseballs and who travel the countryside by llama.

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How Human, How Hilarious

Theater: ‘The Supporting Cast’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

“The Supporting Cast,” a comedic howler that arrived on Broadway in 1981, is filled with gag after gag, which – done well – generates both chuckles and guffaws. And in The Sherman Playhouse’s production, a talented cast delivers stinging one-liners and physical comedy with aplomb.

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All Dazzling Scope and Shouting Soul

Theater: ‘The Who’s Tommy’

It’s the brave company that takes on “The Who’s Tommy,” a high-risk piece of theater if ever there was one. This Brit-band’s fantastical “rock opera” of 1969 was never intended for the stage, but was writ large for Broadway production 25 years later. At heart, it’s nothing more than a few dozen music-video scenes accompanied by brilliant late-1960s rock songs, all shakily stitched together by a plot involving vague themes of Eastern-mystic-inspired self-discovery and a blind, deaf and dumb kid who plays pinball.

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Before the Thunder That Changed a Nation

Theater: ‘Moonchildren’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Berkshire Theatre Festival’s revival of Michael Weller’s first play, “Moonchildren,” is intelligent and keenly observed in Karen Allen’s directorial debut with the company. A good-to-brilliant cast gives fresh performances and brings near perfect timing to lightning fast comic banter, hilarious but meaningful monologues and deeply felt confessions.

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Pleasant, Jaunty and a Trifle Dusty

Theater: ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

A century and a half or so of Broadway musicals has produced oodles of timeless classics and perhaps an equal number of forgettable shows. Somewhere in the middle is “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the quintessential chestnut if there ever was one.

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Sometimes, It Just Has To Be

Theater: 'F2M'
compass@lakevillejournal.com

There’s gender. And then there’s biology.
In Isabelle, the two are at war.
That’s where “F2M” focuses in Patricia Wettig’s play in progress about a girl, wanting to be a boy.
F2M means female to male. And that means counseling, drugs, surgery, isolation and a risky life at the edge of the tribe as Isabelle’s father, Clarence (actor Ken Olin, playwright Wettig’s husband), sees it.

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Dance Like the Show

Theater: ‘42nd Street’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

There’s something about tap dancing, and lots and lots of tap dancers, that makes audiences forgive anything, even the frail silliness of a show like “42nd Street.”
It started out as a 1930s Warner Brothers movie that embraced the glitter required of Depression-era musicals: the little guy (or gal) comes from obscurity and trouble to flourish in hard times, accompanied, often incoherently, by tricky Busby Berkeley numbers.
And, of course, bouncy songs like “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”
Grinning tap dancers.
Sequins.
Lots of sequins.

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“Streetcar,” Even Darker Than Usual

Theater: ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” is almost foolproof. But the production at Williamstown Theatre Festival weakens the dramatic power of this classic American play.

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