Bill Gale

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.

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.

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.”

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?

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.

“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”
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. “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity continues at the Wilbury Group through February 9th.  Bill Gale reviews the performing arts for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Mark Turek

When you enter Trinity Rep’s Dowling Theater these evenings you just can’t miss the mess. Designer Eugene Lee has outdone himself, creating a scene that looks like a teenager’s bedroom on a very bad day. The walls are covered with large carpets, all conflicting in tone and color. There’s a distinctly un-comfortable looking iron bed.  Lamps from all eras abound. A Danish modern table, a keyboard from when, the 1960s, maybe? And above all is a huge crucifix, on which the murdered Jesus is nailed.

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.

Richard W. Dionne, Jr.

Dark.

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.

Peter Goldberg

Oh my goodness, folks, those wacky Brits are back. They arrived Monday night in a slippery snowstorm using as their invasion vehicle the much anticipated, and much hyped, “Anne Boleyn” by veteran troublemaking playwright Howard Brenton. You will remember his work if you caught the deliciously provocative play “Paul” which celebrated the life of St. Paul at the Gamm a while ago.

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