Category Archives: BOLLI After Dark

OCTOBER BOLLI AFTER DARK: IN PRAISE OF COMMUNITY THEATRE (AND HALLOWEEN)

                    In Praise of Community Theater                     (and Halloween)

by Donna Johns

BOLLI recently hosted Celia Couture for a noontime talk. Celia is an esteemed regional theater director, and she gave an interesting talk on the pleasures and risks of presenting edgy, thought-provoking plays to community theater audiences. That got me thinking about which local groups were tackling challenging material this fall. Here’s a short list of plays you might want to check out this fall.

Hovey Players in Waltham is presenting Ideation by Aaron Loeb. A group of consultants are pulled together for a top secret assignment. At first, it looks like just another day at the office. Ground rules like “no powerpoint” are scribbled on a white board. But as their instructions come in from the boss, it becomes obvious that they are being tasked with finding a way to dispose of a million or more dead bodies. Are they being sucked in to planning a holocaust? And do they care? Performances-November 23, 24, 30, December 1, 6, 7, 8 at 8PM and December 2 at 2pm  Click the Hovey link above for more information.

The Arlington Friends of the Drama takes an off kilter look at Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard is a Tony Award winning play described as an absurdist tale of fate and free will. The language is luscious as the audience is treated to a retelling of Hamlet from two minor characters’ points of view. This clip with Benedict Cumberbatch will give you a sense of Stoppard’s special brand of lunacy.  Performances November 30 – December 9, 2018. Click the Arlington Friends link above for ticket information.

Tcan Center for Arts in Natick tackles that age old question: what is my purpose in life? Princeton, a new college graduate, moves to Avenue Q and learns a lot about life from his neighbors. In case you didn’t know, this entire tale is told by puppets. Called “Sesame Street for adults,” Avenue Q is a Tony award winning musical which has a lot to think about. Check out this clip of “Everyone’s a Little Racist” for a taste of the fun. Performances are November 9,10,11,15,16,17,18 2018. Click on tcan above for more information.

For all you scientists out there…check out the Concord Players production of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. Thomasina, a precocious thirteen year-old, asks her tutor why jam mixed into rice pudding can never be unstirred? The play unfolds from that not so simple question as Stoppard weaves tales past and present together with dollops of physics, mathematics, sex and romantic poetry.  Here’s a sampler from Yale Repertory Theater. Performances are November 2-17. Click on Concord Players above for more information.

And here’s the best part: all four of these fascinating plays can be seen for as little as $80. Before you order tickets, check out Goldstar.  They frequently offer community theater tickets at half price. For example, right now, the Arlington Friends of the Drama tickets for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are being offered for $10. Just type “community theater” in the Goldstar search box to see all the choices.

If theater is not your thing, Goldstar can be a great resource for fun Halloween activities. Among their offerings are discounted tickets for a HalloWeekend Pub Crawl at the Hard Rock Cafe, a Ghost Tour in Harvard Square, and a Haunted Speakeasy at Bull Mansion New American Bistro in Worcester.

Autumn is, indeed, a wonderful season for BOLLI After Dark!

BOLLI Matters 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.

 

 

 

AUGUST BOLLI AFTER DARK WITH DONNA JOHNS

BADBROKE!

by Donna Johns

Oh, dear. I have been having too much fun this summer, and my checking account is complaining.  When will I learn that buying a ticket is only the beginning of the cash outlay? Getting into the city, parking, a meal, a souvenir tee shirt all eat up an entertainment budget. No regrets. Richard III was well done, except for an actress prone to overacting. The Book Of Mormon was delightfully silly good fun.  Moulin Rouge was a delicious confection.

So, my checking account is on life support. Do I need to stay home with the two chihuahuas and do Netflix binges until the next paycheck? Of course not. My thirst for live entertainment in lean times led me to find some great options. They are close to home with free or almost free parking and no souvenir tee shirts to tempt me. And they have reasonably priced restaurants nearby for that meal which is part of the fun.

Let’s start with a recent discovery: the Regent Theater in Arlington, right off Massachusetts Avenue. Built as a vaudeville house in 1916, it is true to its roots, featuring an eclectic mix of live music, stand up comics,  film specials and more. I recently attended a Yellow Submarine sing along. I sank into my comfortable seat with a bucket of popcorn from the concession stand. The show opened with some live music and a free raffle. Then the film was projected crisply on a movie screen. And before you ask, yes, I did sing along (softly), and, no, I did not know all the words.

Tickets for Regent shows vary but are usually in the $22-$45 range. They also partner with ArtsBoston and  Goldstar where you can often snag half-price tickets. Check out upcoming shows at the Regent; maybe I’ll see you there!

A second inexpensive option is tucked into a side street next to the Waltham Public Library.  Hovey Players is a community theater with a difference. They eschew the standard fare of community theater and seek out rarely performed and thoughtful pieces. The themes of this season are POETIC, BOLD, RAW, RESIST. First up is Constellations by Nick Payne, a love story played out over space and time. Senior tickets are $17 per show. Passes for the entire season are $70.  Even better, they offer a couples season pass for $116. The theater is tiny, so book early. They usually sell out all performances.

A depleted bank account doesn’t mean you can’t get out and see wonderful live performances. Do you have favorites to share? I have Hamilton tickets in October. After parking, meal, and obligatory tee shirt, I will doubtless be broke again.  And so it goes in Bolli After Dark.

“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.

 

JULY’S BOLLI AFTER DARK: Road Trips!

SUMMER ROAD TRIPS!

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.

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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!

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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.

 

 

 

A NEW FEATURE: BOLLI AFTER DARK WITH DONNA JOHNS

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: mamasigs126@gmail.com.

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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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFay0SVFxVI. (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!)