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
6:01 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

The Gamm’s “The Big Meal” Is Satisfying

Wendy Overly, Richard Donelly, Steve Kidd, Emeline Easton in Gamm's production of The Big Meal.
Credit Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

In an interview concerning the New York production of “The Big Meal” the 33- year-old author, Dan LeFranc, makes a point of saying that his own growing up saw, quote, “lots of support but also a ton of friction and fear.”  And that was “critical in making me the kind of writer and person I am today,” he added.

Well, that would be a guy who has sharp instincts both for the jugular and the heart. “The Big Meal” checks out those eight folks in all kinds of ways.

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Theater Reviews
2:12 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Trinity Rep’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Wild, Almost Wooly

Vanya (Brian McEleney), Masha (Phyllis Kay), Cassandra (Tangela Large) and Spike (Mark Larson) in "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" by Christopher Durang.
Credit Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

Ah, yes. Good old Chris Durang. What’s he gotten into now? Over the years he’s been known for such ideosyncratic shows as “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” and, of course, “The Idiots Kasamazov.”

But Durang’s nicely into his 60’s now. Perhaps he’s calmed down a bit?

Well, no. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” concerns Bucks County, PA., Snow White, licking postage stamps, movie stars, the theatuh, voodoo, pricks, getting old and the significance of the blue heron. Among many other things.

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Theater Reviews
4:20 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Trinity Rep’s “A Christmas Carol” Filled With Song And Dance

Fred Sullivan, Jr. as Scrooge and the cast of Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol," as adapted by Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming.
Credit Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

Yup. Charles Dickens is back in town. Played with great good humor by the veteran Tom Gleadow, this year’s “A Christmas Carol” has Mr. Dickens on stage often and to considerable effect.

The rotund Gleadow is one of those luminous actors whom you find yourself watching anytime he’s on stage. And he’s there a lot, giving this year’s version more of the dialogue from the novel then perhaps ever. He also chides, and directs, poor old Ebenezer Scrooge a bit, too, which lends a nice comedic touch.

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Theater Reviews
6:49 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

2nd Story Theatre’s “Golda’s Balcony” Is a Splendid Piece of Theater

Sandra Laub as Golda Meir in William Gibson’s one-woman tour de force "Golda's Balcony."
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

Yes, indeed. There are lots of reasons why this production is a splendid piece of theater. First and foremost is Sandra Laub, the actress playing the one-time prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir.

Most theater people, especially actors, will tell you that doing a one-woman or one-man show is the most difficult of assignments.  After all, it is just one soul out there, alone. It’s a matter of getting the audience to fall for you, and there’s nobody to help out. You, and you alone, must keep the play’s pulse moving, must make the character live.

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Theater Reviews
4:31 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Gamm’s “Good People” Nothing Less Than Sizzling

Bill Mootos and Jeanine Kane in Gamm Theatre's "Good People."
Credit Peter Goldberg

Well, I don’t want to go overboard here. But “Good People” is just nothing less than a sizzling comedy with a real life message. It’s delicious, deep, delightful, and just plain dandy.

Directed with fire and feeling by Rachel Walshe, the production will have you laughing out loud and holding your breath as the characters reveal themselves.

Led by a splendid Janine Kane, the acting is as good as you’re liable to see anywhere. The sets and the goofy, great costumes add a lot, too.

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Theater Reviews
4:35 am
Fri November 15, 2013

At Ocean State Theatre Lombardi Is Played With Dark Vigor

Jennifer Byrne, Robert Ierardi and Joel Kipper in the New England premiere of "Lombardi."
Credit Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

Ah yes, the late Vince Lombardi. I can see him now, back in the black and white TV era of the 1960s. He’s standing like a statue on the sidelines on the tundra that is a Green Bay football field. Legs apart, polo coat covering his broad shoulders, absurd fedora on his head. And most of all there’s his shouting, bellowing, at anyone nearby. The refs, his own players, his assistant coaches, were all fair game, targets of his single minded drive.

He was the Bill Belichick of his time, the best-known coach in all of football. Only louder, tougher, harder to deal with.

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Theater Reviews
4:10 am
Wed November 6, 2013

2nd Story’s “Sons of the Prophet” Doesn’t Shy Away From Anything

Vince Petronio, Nathan Goncalves, Andrew Iacovelli, Jed Hancock-Brainerd, Paula Faber star in 2nd Story Theatre's "Sons of the Prophet."
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

“Sons of the Prophet” comes to Rhode Island with a pretty darn good reputation. Brown University graduate Stephan Karam’s play was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and did win several awards that year. It was a favorite of Manhattan’s downtown theater crowd, too.

So, what happened?

At 2nd Story this work, which the author calls “a comedy about a guy coping with chronic pain” seems pretty much weak-kneed. Its “comedy” never really clicks; its philosophy, which seems to be that coping with the unspeakable can be nourishing, doesn’t seem real, or true.

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Theater Reviews
1:01 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Ocean State Theatre’s “Les Mis” is a First-Rate Effort

Fredric S. Scheff and Kevin B McGlynn star as Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Misérables being presented at the Ocean State Theatre in Warwick.
Credit Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

Yes, you could figure that “Les Mis” might be just a tad over-saturated these days.

Many have seen it at least once. Or, they’ve heard the wonderful score.

But, you know what? “Les Mis” is still worth seeing, worth being affected by, worth pondering for its immense world view. And the production opening the season at Ocean State is a first-rate effort. No, it doesn’t have the great turntable racing the pace on stage. It hasn’t reached the incredible settings of Broadway or top flight road shows.

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Theater Reviews
2:27 am
Mon September 23, 2013

The Gamm’s Season Opener is a Clunker

Credit Peter Goldberg / The Gamm TheatreCasey Seymour Kim and Alexander Platt in "Far Away" by Caryl Churchill, directed by Tony Estrella.Edit | Remove

For decades, English playwright Caryl Churchill has been accorded Goddess stature in the upper reaches of play writing circles. Fiercely political, strongly on the left, Churchill made her mark with plays of attitude and insight.

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Theater Reviews
2:42 am
Wed September 18, 2013

2nd Story Theatre’s “Lobby Hero” is a Tough, Snappy Play

Valerie Westgate as Dawn and Jeff Church as Jeff in 2nd Story Theatre's “Lobby Hero.”
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

2nd Story Theatre debuts its new 70-seat performing space this week with a play called “Lobby Hero” by New York writer Kenneth Lonergan.

Yeah, well, you see “hero” is not exactly the right word. On the other hand, maybe it is. Or it is sometimes. You get what I mean?

No, huh? Well, the strength of this very funny, charming, tough and potty-mouthed snappy play is that nothing is exactly as it seems. But it might be. Irony prevails in “Lobby Hero.”

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