Ocean State Theatre

Maggie Hall / Ocean State Theatre

Warwick’s Ocean State Theatre opens the season with a mixture of music and dark humor. Rhode Island Public Radio theatre critic Bill Gale was mostly won over by The Addams Family: The Musical.

The Addams Family: The Musical runs through October 25th at Ocean State Theatre in Warwick. Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theater

The Ocean State Theatre in Warwick is reviving one of the big musical hits of the 1950s, “Gypsy,” a story about family, show business and the life of the striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.  Bill Gale says that despite some problems “Gypsy” is still worth seeing, one more time.

That's right. For you see “Gypsy” is one of those musicals you could call a “But, still . . .” piece of work.

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.

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. 

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

February being Black History Month the Ocean State Theater in Warwick has brought back a 1987 play, “The Meeting.” African-American playwright and screenwriter Jeff Stetson brings together two major leaders who had very different ideas about improving the life and times of their fellow black Americans.

Dr. King, of course, developed a non-violent strategy. A minister with a Boston University PhD, he aimed to confront racism and violence strongly but without turbulence.


Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian is being inaugurated Tuesday. The mayor will be taking a RIPTA bus to his inaugural event to highlight the city’s push to become a transportation hub.

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 / 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.

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

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.

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a Broadway baby at heart. After all, “42nd Street” does go on for two hours and forty minutes. It’s filled with deliberately bad jokes and dialog like this: Says a director to an actor:  “Musical comedy.

The greatest words in the English language.”

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.

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.

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.

Mark Turek

With their very fine new performing space (excellent sight lines, comfortable seats, good facilities) it seems a shame that Ocean State has picked a weak-at-the-knees Neil Simon play to officially open Rhode Island’s newest theater.