2nd Story Theatre

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

British playwright Joe Orton is probably best remembered for his loopy yet fiery comedy's “Loot” and “What the Butler Saw”. But his seminal piece was “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” a 1964 trouble-making work now being revived by 2nd Story Theatre in Warren.

When you enter 2nd Story's upstairs performing space these nights you'll be greeted by some real oldies. No, not the ushering staff. The recorded music being played: Petula Clark's “Downtown” The Seekers “Georgy Girl” and even “She's Not There” by the Zombies.

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.

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

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies once said that he loves “. . .smart, complicated women. . .” 

Well, in just two hours (with an intermission) he lets us look in on two females who meet that criteria, and more. “Collected Stories” takes place entirely in the Greenwich Village apartment of one Ruth Steiner, an award-winning author/professor. She's sharp as a whip, tight as a drum and both prissy and provocative. Lives alone and likes it. Or at least thinks she does.

Rhode Island Philharmonic

Rhode Islanders head to the polls in just a few short days.  In addition to the major races, voters will also decide on spending bonds.  There are four of them. 

For this month’s Artscape, and as part of our Rhody Votes ’14 coverage we’re looking into question Five: the arts and culture bond.  Rhode Island Public Radio's John Bender spoke with morning host Elisabeth Harrison.

For all of our election coverage, visit the Rhody Votes '14 page at our website here

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

Ah, yes, “Hay Fever” one of those plays that became known as “a comedy of manners.” But in truth Coward's 1925 hit really ought to be called a “comedy of ill manners.”

It's Coward's view of a famous family being famously, uproariously, ridiculously bad mannered to point of forcing the family's so-called “guests” to split, to sneak out of the house, to take any measures to get away from the family's self-regard, their “I really don't give a hoot for anything or anyone but myself” attitude.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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

Back in the late 1940s and early ‘50s the talk along the New York Rialto was about whether Tennessee Williams could broaden his approach. Sure, the critics and others said, he’s written great plays such as the ever-so-human “Glass Menagerie” and the stinging “A Streetcar Named Desire.” But can he go in other directions, take us to new places?

Richard W. Dionne, Jr.


If you had just one word to describe the powerful, incisive version of “Amadeus” at 2nd Story that might be it. After all, even when you enter the performing space you notice the dim. A couple of lights, a candle or two, and that’s it. Watch your step, and maybe get out those reading glasses if you care to check the program.