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Cindy Lou Who is all grown up

Christopher Pazdernik directs Matthew Lombardo’s 2017 grown-ups-only update of Dr. Seuss’s yuletide classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. On the outskirts of Whoville, in a modest but homey trailer, a very adult Cindy Lou Who recounts her meet-cute with the Grinch and the resulting fallout. Who’s Holiday! Through 12/26: see website for full schedule, Theater […]

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Too much of a good thing

Inspired by the real-life onstage/offstage marital drama of the husband-and-wife acting team, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, this Tony Award-winning 1948 musical features an engaging book by Sam and Bella Spewack and a score packed with iconic Cole Porter earworms—among them “Why Can’t You Behave,” “Always True to You (In My Fashion),” and “Too Darn […]

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Coercive utopia

While its drama focuses on 20th-century events, the New Coordinates’ (the company formerly known as the New Colony) Love in the Time of Jonestown is uncannily contemporary—which is exactly how historical fiction should feel.  Production-wise, Jonestown richly reflects our time and place. Written by Omer Abbas Salem, it’s a radio play in three parts that […]

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Parody actually

Goethe’s 1774 romantic classic Die Leiden des jungen Werthers convinced many ill-starred suitors to off themselves in the pain of unrequited love, and Richard Curtis’s 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually has surely convinced just as many yearning paramours to commit ill-advised confessions of infatuation towards their best friends’ spouses, their officemates, and their employees in […]

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Quirky true love songs

There are shows that break a writer’s heart, and brain. This is one of those shows—openhearted, genre-defying, utterly overwhelming, glorious to watch but confounding to write about. (My hard drive is littered with drafts of this short review.) Structured as a live concert, with bits of storytelling woven in (the songs are by Abigail Nessen-Bengson […]

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Hanukkah hijinks

Grab your dreidel and the whole mishpocha and head over to Strawdog Theatre Company’s annual hit show Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. A festive and charming holiday treat in a cozy, black-box theater with blankets for kids to sit on the floor, Hershel immediately engages and warms up youth (and adults) with pre-show schmoozing, music, […]

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Arrested development

AstonRep Theatre Company returns to live performance after a COVID-induced hiatus with a new staging of French playwright Yasmina Reza’s 2006 comedy, which the troupe previously presented in 2012. Reza’s play, in British playwright Christopher Hampton’s 2008 English translation, concerns two heterosexual married couples, the Novaks and the Raleighs, brought together because their 11-year-old sons […]

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The fly nuns

In Howard Hawks’s 1941 screwball comedy Ball of Fire, chanteuse/mob moll Katherine “Sugarpuss” O’Shea (Barbara Stanwyck) hides out from the cops and her killer boyfriend by taking refuge in the house of seven dwar . . . er, academics who are absorbed in writing a new encyclopedia. Because opposites in Screwball World, as elsewhere, must […]

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C is for confusion

Michael Mejia directs Laura Ruohonen’s 2003 exploration of power, identity, and freedom in Trap Door Theatre’s return to in-person performance. Loosely based on Queen Christina, the 17th-century Swedish monarch who abdicated because she couldn’t rule on her own terms, Queen C pays only cursory lip service to period specificity. The message is spelled out at […]