Category Archives: BOLLI After Dark



by Donna Johns

Ah, the call of the open road on a sunny summer day! Nothing is more enticing than the great American road trip. Of course, the ultimate road trip is cross-country but with high gas prices, you may want to think smaller. And if you love the arts, nothing could be better than a road trip to the Berkshires. Museums, music, dance and theater abound during the summer season.

Put the app TodayTix on your phone or tablet to help plan your trip. The app has a Berkshires button which will list multiple weekends and highlight some of the productions you might miss by just looking at Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow and Shakespeare and Company websites. Choose your weekend and then scroll through. Not only is TodayTix convenient but it is also a great venue to snag deeply discounted tickets.

That said, don’t miss the chance to see Shakespeare & Company’s production of  As You Like It (August 9 to September 2). Performed in the outdoor Roman Garden Theater, you will be transported to the forest of Arden for a magical night.  Bring your bug spray and prepare to be enchanted.

Up for a road trip but not too keen about driving? Stroll down Turner St. to the commuter rail, travel to North Station, and grab the Amtrak Downeaster train to Portland ME. This is a bargain at $58 round trip, and the scenery along the way is special. In under 3 hours, you will be in Portland with enough time to enjoy the lobster stew at DiMillo’s on the Water, a boat tour of Casco Bay, and a bit of shopping or bar hopping before catching the train home.


If your bunions are barking or you threw your back out weeding the garden or your old jalopy has 200,000 miles on the odometer or it’s just too darn hot to leave the house, you can take an armchair road trip. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Leisure Seeker, coming soon to rent/buy. Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland play a  couple taking one last road trip in their old RV. A bittersweet comedy meticulously played for  laughs, not pathos.

On the Road, available on DVD and Sundance Channel. Based on the Jack Kerouac novel.  A young would-be writer encounters some interesting characters during his road trip. The result is a little uneven but captures the spirit of the 1950’s.

Little Miss Sunshine, available on DVD and rental. A delightfully eccentric family hitS the road   to enter their little girl in a beauty pageant.

National Lampoon’s Vacation, available on DVD and rental. The Griswalds’ trip to a theme  park doesn’t go as planned. Wonderful physical humor by Chevy Chase makes this a classic.

I could go on, but I bet you have your own favorite road trip movies. Share them in comments!


Whatever road trip you choose–be safe, use sun screen, don’t forget to hydrate, and have a wonderful time.  Bolli After Dark will be back in August to preview the fall season.

BOLLI Matters “After Dark” feature writer Donna Johns

Donna Johns is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater, and new BOLLI member. She now has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.





Welcome to Bolli After Dark!  In this column, I will highlight stage plays, movies and videos to dive into after a day of learning. Comments and suggestions are always welcome at my email:


Summer in the greater Boston area used to be an entertainment wasteland, with only concerts on town greens and baseball games for diversion. Not so this summer.

Let’s start with the biggest original musical coming in to the city. Moulin Rouge, based on the Baz Luhrmann movie, is slotted for the newly renovated Emerson Colonial Theater starting on June 27. Broadway veterans Aaron Tviet and Karen Olivo headline the show, which will be heading for Broadway next season. It tells the story of an ambitious young writer and an enchanting chanteusse who cross paths at the decadent French nightclub. Here’s a teaser from YouTube: (through August 5) Preview the story by watching Lehrmann’s film which can be rented through Comcast, Fios and Amazon Prime.

Most of the repertory companies remain dark during the summer but American Repertory Theater has two robust shows extending into June and July. Jagged Little Pill is an original story inspired by the Alanis Morrissette album. The Healey family, living a pleasant suburban life, is rocked to its core and must examine the values and morality of their lives. (through July 15)

A perennial A.R.T. favorite, The Donkey Show, retells Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a disco beat. The show is performed in the intimate Oberon theater, where cocktails and audience participation are part of the fun. (through June 30)

One of Shakespeare’s greatest villains, Richard III, strides onto the Boston Common from July 17 to August 5. Commonwealth Shakespeare’s free performances are always well done and you can’t beat the picnic atmosphere on a sultry summer night. I saw a brief scene from Richard III done by this group last month and it was a chilling picture of an ambitious man seizing and trying to keep power at any cost.

Don’t feel like driving into Boston? Shakespeare is coming to the Waltham Common on July 28th. J.T. Turner presents a one man show which highlights the Bard of Avon’s life as well as scenes from his comedies, tragedies and histories. The parking is plentiful, the show starts at 6:30 and carryout is nearby. Bring a lawn chair and prepare to participate as well.

If you’ve been out in the hot sun all day weeding your garden, you may not feel like going out at all. Settle in with one of the Oscar nominees you might have missed. Better yet, rent The Black Panther.

I am not a comic book/superhero fan and saw this film under protest. Boy, was I wrong. It’s visually stunning, full of humor and action and big ideas. Chadwick Boseman’s performance as Black Panther was touching and inspiring as he made the difficult transition from prince to king.

So get busy marking up your calendars for an exciting, entertaining summer. In my next column, I’ll be looking at that great American institution, the road trip.  Lots of great films to explore as we hit the road.

BOLLI After Dark feature writer Donna Johns

Donna Johns is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater, and new BOLLI member.  (Welcome, Donna!)