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.

Ways to Connect

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

“Into the Woods” won three Tony Awards on Broadway in 1988. But “Best Musical” wasn't one of them.  Bill Gale thinks that a strong production at the Ocean State Theatre tells you why.

Full disclosure, I have never cottoned to “Into the Woods” which brought so much fame and honor to its creators Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

2nd Story Theatre in Warren has always liked to do off-beat plays and its current work, “4000 miles,” is no exception. Bill Gale says it's a little loopy, a little lacking in plot, but that it's also one of those works you'll think about days after you see it.

It was, of course, the poet Robert Frost who wrote that “Home is the place where …they have to take you in.”  Well, “4000 Miles” is something of a recurrence of that idea.

Peter Goldberg / Gamm Theatre

Set in 1965 playwright John Guare's “The House of Blue Leaves” was a groundbreaking work, an American family drama set amid European-like absurdity. Now the Gamm Theatre has revived “Blue Leaves.” Bill Gale says it holds up, pretty well.

Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

A conservative approach to a classic play has rarely been the Trinity Rep way. Over the years full speed ahead has been more like it. That surely is the case with the theater's new take on “The Glass Menagerie.”  Bill Gale says it works, except when it doesn't.

“The Glass Menagerie” continues at Trinity Rep through March 29th. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Ocean State Theater Company

  The Ocean State Theatre in Warwick has come up with a relatively unknown musical concerning a guy, a gal and a novel way of telling their story. Bill Gale says the production is a good try, at least.

"The Last Five Years” continues at the Ocean State Theatre through March 15th. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio. 

Courtesy Festival Ballet

Festival Ballet's Up Close On Hope series usually presents a plethora of short pieces ranging from classical ballet to comedic devices. This time around things are different. Bill Gale says the change works.

“Up Close on Hope” will be shown at Festival Ballet in Providence through February 14th. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

Written by artistic director Tony Estrella, from the award-winning novel by British expatriate Barry Unsworth, “Morality Play” sweeps through a raucous, roiling time of murder and madness, of corruption, of just plain hard times.  It's a tidal wave of provocation and problems. Change is good? Sometimes. And sometimes it's not.

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

“Meet Me in St. Louis” is a charmer, a sweet, old fashioned, happy- go-lucky musical of the kind we just don't see anymore. It's filled with wonderful, if saccharine sweet, songs. It tells a tale of a family loving, and battling, and always coming through.

Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

Bill Gale admits that he raised an eyebrow when Trinity Rep announced it would do Neil Simon's 1963 hit “Barefoot in the Park.”  Why do that old joke carnival? he asked. But after seeing Trinity's production our critic has another view.

Yup, I do. Having seen this tight, funny and carefully thought out “Barefoot,” I'm saying, well, why not?”

Brian Gagnon / Wilbury Theatre Group

Using the same theater on Broad Street in Providence where Trinity Rep began in the 1960s, the adventurous Wilbury Group is currently staging a work about the life and times, and death, of Walt Disney. Bill Gale has this review.

“A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney” continues at the Wilbury Group in Providence through November 22. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

You know I checked out the history of “Dial M” before I went to see Ocean State's production. Found a 1984 New York Times review which said that the 30 or so years that had passed since its first showing had not dimmed the play's charms. Still crisp and quick, the reviewer maintained.

Thomas Nola-Rion / Festival Ballet

Being crowded together in tiny seats and dealing with an over-humid atmosphere has never stopped Festival Ballet's audience from filling the company's main rehearsal hall for “Up Close on Hope.” Showing a number of new works, the latest edition began last weekend. Bill Gale was there.

Yes, and I was happy to be there, too. But after seeing nine short numbers – some of them world premieres – I began to wonder if today's rising choreographers aren't a . . . little bit depressed.

Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

That's it. Last time out, you may remember, the Gamm did “Grounded,” a high altitude look at an American female fighter pilot that was quick and memorable.

This time artistic director Tony Estrella and his crew have moved to Norway for a dog fight with one of the great, groundbreaking plays of all time, Henrik Ibsen's “Hedda  Gabler.”

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

It has been a while since a full scale version of “My Fair Lady” – one of the truly superb American musicals – has been done around here. So, thank goodness this Ocean State production is a true winner, super in some ways and just fine in others.

Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

Well, that's true. Written in 10 days when Chekhov, a newly minted physician, was 27, Ivanov has all the elements of the author's later greatness. It looks at an extended family of Russians as they struggle with their lives, their fortunes, their very honor.

The center point is one Nikolai Ivanov, a ne’er-do-well landholder, who felt he could conquer the world and then found himself accused of marrying for money. As middle-age approached he began to learn that he was a failure, and a well-meaning lout, too.