Results tagged “Diane Paulus” from ARTicles

PrometheusPHOTO.jpgMaybe it's true of all botched vacations: There can be a silver lining. To paraphrase Dorothy, sometimes when you're looking for your heart's desire, you may not have to go any further than your own backyard. Which is a good thing because that's how far I got when I had to abandon plans to spend spring break in Chile visiting my brother and reporting on the arts. I ended up staying in the Boston area where the arts chops are pretty sharp these days. And yeah, it's true: I didn't have to go more than four T stops to find my heart's desire.

1. Prometheus Bound directed by Diane Paulus at American Repertory Theater's Club Oberon in Cambridge.

Do you like your revolutions Greek style? Diane Paulus does. Her decision to focus American Repertory Theater's season on classics - as in Aeschylus and Sophocles (add her touring Broadway revival of Hair which, coincidentally, stops in Boston this month) - has turned out to be prescient given the headlines in Africa and the Middle East. Prometheus is another example of Paulus' gift for musical spectacle with gender-social-political-choreographic (did I leave anything out?) commentary glinting from a disco ball. For a show in which the protagonist is chained to a rock for most of the story, there's a lot going on here. There's no escaping the action whether you're with the groundlings - the throngs of fist-pumping youths on the center floor - or seated off to the side in a banquette where a trio of hauntingly pale chorus angels in combat boots might nudge you aside to use your table for a scene. Paulus had a dream team in script and lyrics writer Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) and composer Serj Tankian (System of a Down). The storyline may feel Greek to our ears because of the volume, but the production is rousing - and features the usual lineup of hyper talented performers who seem to give their souls to Paulus' vision of Outsiders Are Powerful. Thank you, Prometheus, for the bright ideas. We have some people in Wisconsin who would have found you very inspiring.

2. The Sun Also Rises by Elevator Repair Service at Arts Emerson's Paramount Theater.

After last year's Gatz, which ranks in the Top Ten Performances I've seen in three decades of theater going, I hoped Elevator Repair Service wasn't going to be a one-trick pony. It isn't. Select14_sm.jpgDirector John Collins has three important talents: He understands pacing - and isn't afraid to take it slow. He understands humor - and isn't afraid to combine the nuance of the aforementioned pacing with the nonsense of stagecraft. And he loves literature enough to know that a book is one thing and a stage play is quite another and that the two are related but not pathologically. If anything, Collins is a master of the remix. Purists may have walked away saying, "This isn't Hemingway!" Fine. That is fine. But I walked away wondering if I got the cultural wink in the Ferrante & Teicher poster on the wall - and not caring much for the answer because, well, it seemed very Hemingway not to overwork a symbol. In the end - and Collins crafts one of the

March 23, 2011 12:31 PM |

James Rainey's Los Angeles Times article on tepid press reception of Gustavo Dudamel's first U.S. tour as LA Philharmonic music director reminds me of a scene I'm watching unfold in Cambridge, Mass., where Diane Paulus is completing her first year as artistic director of American Repertory Theater. Both media and popular support of Paulus have been strong, but there's a less documented story on the street. Is she turning A.R.T. into an out-of-town stage for New York actors and other theater workers? Is her work serious or is it, as has been suggested of Dudamel's, a "publicity and fund-raising machine"? 

During her first year, Paulus has produced the biggest ticket-seller of any season at A.R.T. -- "Sleep No More" by England's Punchdrunk theater -- and her revival of "Donkey Show" that has been running nearly a year at A.R.T.'s smaller black-box space has a minor cult status locally. People love the work, or they don't. Critics love the work, or they don't. But the work keeps trucking, just as it does with the other theaters in the Boston area. Paulus' "Best of Both Worlds," a musical adaptation of "A Winter's Tale" staged in an inner-city vernacular, featured outstanding performances by an all-black cast -- a rarity at A.R.T. -- but the show didn't find the same kind of following as "Sleep No More," and the writing didn't cast the same spell for many who did attend. Same for another import, "Paradise Lost," Daniel Fish's update of Clifford Odets' play. Time will tell how Paulus assesses these two productions.

Paulus' newest work, "Johnny Baseball," is a musical about the Red Sox. The show opens June 2, and the local theater community is already noting that the cast is imported from New York -- even as the story is written by Massachusetts native Richard Dresser, stars Boston Conservatory graduate Stephanie Umoh, and features young Erik March, pitcher and infielder for the Newburyport Pioneer League. In previews, theatergoers wore Red Sox outfits and caps, and drank beer during the show. Can Fenway fans be far behind?

May 27, 2010 5:32 AM |


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