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
2:38 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Theatre by the Sea’s “La Cage” is a Winner

Peter Reardon (Georges) in Theatre By The Sea's production of La Cage Aux Folles.
Credit Steven Richard Photography / Theatre by the Sea

Okay, full disclosure. I have a major soft spot for “La Cage.” Ever since I was one of the many who stood and cheered at the end of the 1983 pre-Broadway tryout at Boston’s Colonial Theatre I’ve wanted “La Cage” to succeed wherever it plays.

And it’s not just the crisp score by Jerry Herman or the pungent humor of Harvey Fierstein’s lyrics. It is truly the message of becoming a decent human being and knowing who you are, and why, that’s allowed me to love “La Cage” over the years.

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Theater Reviews
9:05 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Theatre-by-the-Sea's "Annie" is a Mixed Bag

It's a hard knock life for Annie and her fellow orphans, who take the state at Theatre by the Sea until August 10th.
Credit Steven Richard Photography / Theatre-by-the-Sea

Ah, yes. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow/Bet your bottom dollar.” Most of us remember that lyric. And you know, when “Annie,” after trying out at the Goodspeed Opera House, opened on Broadway in 1977 it definitely earned a lot more than a buck. With its bouncy music and improbable but oh-so-charming, very American narrative the show was up for 18 Tony Awards, and won 14, including “Best Musical.”

The show then traveled from Boston to Bangkok as Annie and her dog Sandy, and her multi-millionaire benefactor Daddy Warbucks, made the sun shine once again around the world.

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Arts & Culture
9:37 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Island Moving Company's Dance Extravaganza Worth the Trip to Newport

The Dance Festival is taking place this weekend at the Island Moving Company.
Credit Thomas Palmer / Island Moving Company

They call it The Great Friends Dance Festival and Island Moving, under the direction of veteran Rhode Island dancer/choreographer, Miki Ohlsen, has collected and collaborated with a half dozen or so companies and choreographers.

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Theater Reviews
1:07 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Theatre-by-the Sea’s Production is the Cats Meow

The cast of CATS at Theatre By The Sea through July 13.
Credit Steven Richard Photography / Theatre-by-the-Sea

It’s a funny thing about “Cats.”

Some people, many actually, are enthralled by this musical taken almost completely from a poem by that Anglo-American literary icon, T.S. Eliot. “Cats” lovers adore the music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and are happy to forget about the almost plotless story line that finds a beat-up old cat restored to vibrant life.

Others, myself included, enjoy much of the music but really find “Cats” to be a clawless work, more a stagnant showing off piece than anything else.

So , make your choice and pay your money. Or not.

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Trinity Rep
7:30 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

The Trick of Putting on Two Plays at Once

Phyllis Kay and Fred Sullivan, Jr. , Barbara Meek and Anne Scurria in House & Garden by Alan Ayckbourn.
Credit Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

At Trinity Rep these nights 14 professional actors and half as many kids are romping and stomping, racing and rushing from the upstairs Chace Theater to the downstairs Dowling Theater. And this is no exercise program. It’s actually the simultaneous performance of two separate plays by a single cast.

They fly from one play to another, changing costumes and characters all night long.

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Theater Reviews
1:51 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Wilbury's "Three Penny Opera" is a Good Try

Going forward with a famous musical is generally a matter of copying. After all, if you are putting on “Annie” or “Nunsense” you aren’t going to change things—just try to do a crowd-pleasing show as well as you can.

But that’s not the case with Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “Three Penny Opera.”

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Theater Reviews
1:04 am
Fri May 10, 2013

2nd Story's "Rose Tattoo" is a Play of Sicilian Passion & Wildness

Andrew Iacovelli as Jack and Valerie Westgate as Rosa in "The Rose Tattoo" at 2nd Story Theatre.
Credit 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?

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Theater Reviews
1:53 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Gamm's "Beauty Queen" is not for the Faint of Heart

Jeanine Kane (Maureen), Wendy Overly (Mag) in The Gamm Theatre's "The Beauty Queen of Leenane."
Credit Peter Goldberg / The Gamm Theatre

Watching the Gamm’s splendid, perfectly sharp, gloriously acted production of “Beauty Queen” was, for me at least, a trip down two very different roads. On one hand, I kept thinking of the legions of travel advertisements we’ve all seen. Ahh, the green of Ireland, the rolling hills, the charming little towns, the friendly pubs. Where have you gone Rick Steves?

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Festival Ballet
1:07 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Festival Ballet Reaches Beautifully into the Past and Future

Festival Ballet presents "Orchis" and "Agon" at The Vets in Providence.
Credit Thomas Nola-Rion

"Groundbreaking” is the word used in the press release announcing Festival Ballet Providence’s program this weekend at the Vets in Providence. And you know what? That’s probably not just publicity hype.

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Arts & Culture
10:25 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Wilbury Group delivers a wham! crack! production of "Chad Deity"

“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
Credit Brian Gagnon

Providence’s newest theater, the Wilbury Group operates out of a defunct mill in Olneyville. These nights they are taking on a feisty play, “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” which was a runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. While it begins with a look at professional wrestling, Bill Gale says it aims considerably higher.

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