Bill Gale

Performing Arts Critic

Bill Gale has had a widely varied career (including a stint as an air traffic controller) before dedicating himself to The Providence Journal for 35 years — 25 of those as the Journal's theater and dance critic. He is the former executive committee chair of the Foundation of the American Theater Critics Association and currently serves on their board.Gale has received a variety of awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Theatre Conference. He has taught at Rhode Island College and Roger Williams University, and is currently an Admiral at Hope High School. He is married to clinical social worker Peggy Gale and is the father of two children. And he loves working in radio.

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Theater Reviews
4:10 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Ocean State's "Guys and Dolls" Is Hit And Miss

The cast performs “The Crapshooters Dance” in the musical comedy, Guys and Dolls
Credit Mark Turek

Well, yes it does. At the Ocean State in Warwick “Guys and Dolls” – admittedly one of my all-time favorite musicals – comes across as a bifurcated project. On the one hand there is still that marvelous score by Frank Loesser, songs that can break your heart and make you laugh out loud. Under music director Justin P. Cowan they are handled well by a cast of good singers who know how to offer a song without seeming to force it.

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Theater Reviews
4:05 am
Thu June 12, 2014

2nd Story’s “Freud’s Last Session” Is Quick And Sharp

Ed Shea is Sigmund Freud in Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain.
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr.

It’s September, 1939 and the carnage of World War II is just beginning. Germany has invaded Poland. The British and their allies are preparing to fight. The world is on edge.

And, frankly, so are Dr. Freud and Professor Lewis, two of the great intellectuals of their time who are meeting in Freud’s office in England. But it’s not the Nazi war machine or the reluctant answer of its provocations by the British that’s under debate.

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Theater Reviews
4:17 am
Wed May 7, 2014

The Gamm's "Blackbird" Takes A Tough Look At Molestation

Madeleine Lambert as Una, Jim O'Brien as Ray in "Blackbird."
Credit Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

Yes, “Blackbird,” by Scottish author David Harrower, is a toughie. There’s no way around but to say that it focuses intimately, deeply on child molestation. It considers who was involved. It asks if whether both of its main characters – a middle aged man and a 12-year-old girl -- did not each suffer greatly. And, most tellingly, it offers no solutions.

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Theater Reviews
4:15 am
Thu May 1, 2014

2nd Story’s “Sylvia” Is One Of The Very Best This Season

Lara Hakeem (front), Ed Shea is Greg and Sharon Carpentier is his wife Kate in Sylvia at 2nd Story Theatre.
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

First I’d like to say that “Sylvia” is an absolute true charmer of a play. It’s laugh out loud funny and can prompt small smiles, too. At 2nd Story, director Pat Hegnauer has given it force and speed and reached to its serious undercurrent, too. This is one of the very best productions of the current theater season. Don’t miss it.

Okay, about explaining it all. Playwright A.R. Gurney, best known for “Love Letters” and “The Dinner Party,” has set it up simply. A middle-aged couple with

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Theater Reviews
6:35 am
Fri April 4, 2014

The Gamm’s Macbeth Is A Big Bang Production

Jeanine Kane as Lady Macbeth in The Gamm Theatre's production of MacBeth.
Credit Peter Goldberg

Well, that’s right. Filled with shouting, drumming and blood, blood, blood, this Macbeth is a fearsome production. Director Fred Sullivan Jr. has missed no chance to put a point right under your nose, and into your ears.  Drums pound, soldiers shout and women weep.

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Arts & Culture
9:20 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Brown 250: Playwright Lynn Nottage On The Future Of Theater

Playwright Lynn Nottage speaks with Rhode Island Public Radio's performing arts critic Bill Gale.
Credit Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

All this week we're marking Brown University's 250th with a series of conversations with graduates, leaders and historians. Thursday we're focusing on the arts. Rhode Island Public Radio's Bill Gale sat down with alum and playwright Lynn Nottage about her work and the future of the theater.

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Theater Review
4:24 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Trinity Rep's "Oliver!" Is A Solid Winner

Phineas Peters as Oliver and Noah Parets as Artful Dodger in Trinity Rep's Oliver! by Lionel Bart, based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Directed by Richard and Sharon Jenkins, set design by Eugene Lee, costume design by WIlliam Lane.
Credit Mark Turek

 

It certainly is. With a book, and music and lyrics, by the era’s one-time

wunderkind, Lionel Bart, “Oliver!” received 23 curtain calls opening night and

sailed on for six years in London’s West End. Then it became a Broadway hit and

there was a very successful film, too.

 

Later on, producer Cameron Macintosh took over and ran successful revivals.

Many theater fans loved “Oliver!” for its gutsy, and plucky, drive. It’s wistful

happy ending helped, too.

 

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Theater Reviews
4:17 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Trinity Rep’s “Intimate Apparel” Is Worth Seeing And Thinking About

Mia Ellis as Esther in Intimate Apparel, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage.
Credit Mark Turek

That is for sure. Playwright Lynn Nottage, a Brown graduate, has called “Intimate Apparel” a “meditation on loneliness.” Surely that is a more exact, more piercing description of this lovely, incisive and heartbreaking work at Trinity Rep.

“Intimate Apparel” is one of those plays that will have you confused sometimes, a little bored perhaps, and then will suddenly strike, make you fall for the people involved and for the ideas being put forth. It’s a play most worth seeing, and thinking about.

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Theater Reviews
3:15 am
Fri February 7, 2014

2nd Story’s “Seven Keys To Baldpate” Is Quick & Bright

Ara Boghigian is William Hallowell Magee,and Tanya Anderson is Myra Thronhill in George M. Cohan’s “Seven Keys to Baldpate”
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr.

Right-o. Let me say it up front. “Seven Keys to Baldpate” at 2nd Story is nothing less than a charmer. It’ll tickle your funny bone and warm your heart in the middle of this obstreperous winter of our discontent.

Okay, that’s enough of 1913-type hyperbole. But there’s no question that the Providence-born Cohan knew what he was doing. He adapted “Baldpate” from a novel by the author of the Charlie Chan film series. He said the play is both a farce and a melodrama. He was right on both counts.

On-stage, “Baldpate” is filled with goofy moments and overwrought happenings.

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Theater Reviews
5:29 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Ocean State’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” Shows That Comedy Is Not Easy

Think it’s easy to be funny? Is it a joy to tell jokes? To do “physical” fun?

Ah, . . . no folks, not really. 

Comedy, as any actor or comedian will tell you, is hard.

And that’s just the case these nights at Ocean State. The production of “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” finds nine hard-working performers giving it all they’ve got.

Led by Trinity Rep’s leading actor, Fred Sullivan Jr., the cast pounces and pumps.

They jump on every Simon gag. They are happy to be physical throughout.

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