Monday, July 28, 2014

Titanic Theatre Company Presents "Wonder of The World" by David Lindsay-Abaire

I have long been a fan of the quirky and off-beat sense of humor that characterizes the plays of David Lindsey-Abaire.  So, I was delighted when I learned that Titanic Theatre Company would be mounting a production of Lindsay-Abaire's slightly absurdist play, "Wonder of the World."

The comedy is inspired by the Marilyn Monroe film "Niagara," and involves two women who meet for the first time on the bus and who travel together from the Port Authority in NYC to Niagara Falls.  Cass is leaving her husband, Kip, for a variety of reasons that become clear as the arc of the story progresses.  Her traveling companion is the surly and uncommunicative Lois, who is going to Niagara Falls to hurl herself over the precipice and end her life.  Cass is carrying with her a long bucket list; Lois is bringing a pickle barrel!  Lois finally caves into Cass's persistent attempts to start a conversation. The two women share their life stories and eventually also share a motel room in Niagara Falls while Lois drinks and tries to summon the courage to climb into the barrel and launch herself into the river for her final voyage.  Complications ensue, including encounters with a husband and wife team of incompetent private detectives who have been hired by Kip to track down Cass so he can persuade her to come home.  A Captain of the Maid of the Mist enters the scene and further complicates the picture of domestic bliss enjoyed by Cass and Kip.

Director Adam Zahler has assembled a cast and creative team that make good use of the Black Box at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown.  Costume Design is by Julie Dauber, Lighting by Chris Bocchiaro, Scenic Design by Joshua Kigner, Sound Design by David Reiffel.

Cast members are consistently effective in their roles and include:

  • Alissa Cordeiro as Janie
  • Alisha Jansky as Lois
  • Johnnie McQuarley as Kip
  • Meredith Saran as Cass
  • Damon Singletary as Glenn
  • Laurie Singletary as Karla
  • Matthew Zahnzinger.Cap'n Mike

There are many memorable moments in this well-written and well-acted production.  I can guarantee that you will never again see a Barbie doll in the same light after seeing this play!  The final scene finds Cass and Lois crammed together in the pickle barrel near the head of the falls.  It is an appropriate metaphor for the whole evening for up to that point the audience has been experiencing a barrel of laughs.

This production will be presented through.August 9.  Click on the link below to order tickets and to learn more about Titanic Theatre Company.



Titanic Theatre Websitel

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Amaluna Moves to Washington, D.C. - Re-CALI-brating the White Rhino's Cirque de Soleil Experience

Viktor Kee as Cali
Cirque de Soleil's Amaluna

During the past three weeks, while the cast and crew of Amaluna have taken a richly deserved vacation, the eponymous and mysterious island has been making a silent and invisible voyage. The Island of Amaluna has been drifting slowing down the Atlantic, making headway into the Chesapeake Bay, and up the slowly moving waters of the Potomac River to find temporary mooring at National Harbor.  Washington area residents are strongly advised to grab tickets to this wonderful spectacle, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

White Rhino Report Review of Amaluna

Before Amaluna and its residents decamped from Boston to our nation's Capital, I made a return visit.  I knew that amid the spectacle and story, I had not been able to take in and fully appreciate all of the acts and their nuanced blend of artistry and athleticism.  So I returned with two friends to see the show once again.  At the end of the show, I turned to my friends and asked, "What images and acts from the show stand out in your mind?"  The answer was swift: "Cali!" 

The character of Cali is a half man - half beast creature who serves as a sometime protector and sometime pursuer of the lovely Miranda, whose Coming of Age story is at the heart of the narrative of Amaluna. Cali is played with great aplomb by Ukrainian born circus superstar, Viktor Kee.  Cali not only prowls around the stage/island with tail-flicking panache, he also juggles impressively.

Viktor Kee as Cali
Juggles Fire
Cirque de Soleil's Amaluna

This circus veteran's career really took off in 1994, when Viktor won the Silver Medal and the prestigious Raspini Award at the 17th International Circus Festival "Cirque de Demain" in Paris.

In 2003 Viktor Kee won a Silver Clown Award at the 27th International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo - widely considered the Olympics and the Oscars of the circus world.

Viktor Kee

"At first, he juggles with the delicacy of a miniaturist but then his moves grow bolder, empowered by the rhythmic pulse of the music. His body twists and turns, stretches and contorts, but with finesse, precision and power of a danseur noble. All the while, the balls orbit around him, seemingly not even glancing off his fingertips, but simply following his will as they dance in space when they're not gliding over, down and along, every path of his body.

In his uniquely avant-garde style, the balls dance around his body; in his abstract yet fluid movements, the balls and the body merge to form a unified whole.

He moves from one to seven balls in an awe inspiring display of perfection.  Control, pacing and mastery over his body and props hypnotizes the entire audience."

It was wondrous and appropriate that my friends had identified Cali and Viktor Kee as the highlight of the show, for I had made arrangements to meet Mr. Kee after the show.  He very graciously guided us through a backstage tour of the impressive Cirque de Soleil facilities that include practice spaces, wardrobe, make-up, props, physical therapy and massage facilities, and a spacious lounge area where the cast and crew can congregate for drinks and food.  We shared some refreshments and mingled with Vikor and several of his fellow performers.  It was the closest that the White Rhino has come to running away with the circus!

So, Washington friends, I invite you to sample the wonders of Cali and his fellow cast members while Amaluna is in residence for the next two months.  I know you are busy, but it will be worth it to find a way to "juggle" your schedule to enable you to slip away to Amaluna for a few hours of escape and entertainment.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"A Devil Is Waiting" by Jack Higgins

Jack Higgins remains of one my favorite writers of political and espionage thrillers.  In "A Devil Is Waiting" he takes the reader through a whirlwind tour of the world as it exists after the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Al Qaeda still exists and wants to demonstrate to the world its continuing power by launching an attack as the U.S. President visits London.

A motley cast of characters is drawn from all over the world - the Prime Minister's private anti-terrorism team, former IRA terrorists turned government muscle, a rich Sephardic Jewish soldier named Sara who has been commandeered into the special private army because of her linguistic skills and battlefield track record.  We also have a French foreign Legion veteran, an Al Qaeda leader hiding in Afghanistan, a few thugs and a whole lot of chaos.

Higgins knows the dark worlds well.  His writing about places and weaponry and tactics smacks of someone who has been there and carefully recorded nuanced thought patterns and speech patterns of the denizens of these dark worlds.

Whenever I finish a Jack Higgins novel, I am hungry to read the next one.



A Gem of a Novel Containing Many Deep Lessons - "The Grotto Under The Tree" by John A. Theo, Jr.

John A. Theo, Jr. has written a wonderful young adult novel that reminded me at several levels of some of C.S. Lewis' works.  Think of "The Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe" with a touch of "Prince Caspian."  As I read this book, "The Grotto Under The Tree," I kept thinking to myself: "I can't wait to bring this book with me to London and read it to my grandchildren!"

Sebastian and Sara are best friends.  As they visit the remains of a favorite tree that had been struck by lighting, they are magically transported to an underground world where elves, mermaids, gnomes and other mystical creatures battle with forces of evil called the Kylo.  While the world that Sebastian and Sara visit is very different from the one they knew above ground, it is described beautifully and clearly in Mr. Theo's very elegant style of writing.

Sebastian is book smart, but physically clumsy.  Sarah is gifted athletically.  As the story progresses, these characteristics are amplified, and each one learns to use their strength to help their new underground friends fight off a devastating attack from the Kylo.

There are many moral lessons contained within this allegory - without it feeling preachy or didactic.  During a climactic battle, the children learn deep lessons of sacrifice, the meaning of true love and the need for forgiveness. The Elf Lord Capri is a spirit guide through this magical world that leads Sebastian and Sara all the way to the Arctic Circle.

I loved this little gem of a book.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Company One Presents "Astro Boy & The God Of Comics" by Natsu Onoda Power - A Noteworthy New England Premiere

True confession time.  When I saw that the Company One season would conclude with a new play about an anime comic hero, I was less than enthused.  Japanese anime - or manga - is not an art form I have come to appreciate very much. But Company One has never disappointed me in any of their productions that I have seen, so I put the event on my calendar.  I showed up dutifully at the Boston Center for the Arts on Saturday evening prepared to see a high quality production.  I was not prepared to be amazed and moved to the degree that Natsu Onoda Power's new play touched me.

 "Astro Boy & The God Of Comics" is a very complex and innovative telling of the career of manga icon Osamu Tezeku - referred to in Japan as "The God of Comics.".  The story of his life and career as an artist is told in reverse chronology - not unlike the movie "Memento." or the Sondheim musical "Merrily We Roll Along."  Each chapter of Tezuka's life is treated as a separate scene.  Playwright and director Natsu Onoda Power brings incredible originality to the telling of the story, using live action, models, projections, cartoons and props to propel the telling of the story forward as the chronology scrolls backward.

The projections designed and realized by Jared Mezzocchi are the most impressive I have seen as an integral part of live drama.  During the party that followed Saturday's performance, I spoke with the Playwright/Director about her very effective use of Mr. Mezzocchi's projections.  She was effusive in her praise of him and his artistry, and then she added this caveat: "One can only go so far with projection.  Some things need to be left to the imagination."  That comment triggered a strong visual image in my mind.  I saw the projections in this play as the first stage of a rocket that began to propel the mind of an audience member on a certain trajectory.  At a certain point in the journey, the first stage burns out and falls away and a second stage rocket - the individual audience member's fertile imagination - is ignited to carry the story into an orbit that matches that person's individual world view and prior experiences.

The cast members interact with the projections in fascinating ways, often cartooning on top of the animated projections.  Many of the cast are not only gifted actors but graphic artists as well.  They are:

  • Phil Berman
  • Jessica Chance
  • Gianella Flores
  • Amanda Ruggiero
  • Jeff Song
  • Robert St. Laurence
  • Kaitee Tredway
  • Clark Young
Several of the scenes feel as if they are improvisational theater sequences because they have such a vibrant sense of immediacy and wonder. One scene has the actors huddled in a mass miming an arduous journey.  The combination of group movement, individual facial expressions and sound effects and overall energy level is a marvel.

In telling the story of an artist little known in the West, Ms. Power manages to make the audience care about the man and his art.  We care, as well, about the arc of the career of his beloved creation, Astro Boy, an atomic-powered robot that exists to serve mankind.  The playwright brings home with striking pathos the irony of the atomic-powered peace warrior having been birthed in a nation so recently devastated by the destructive power of the atom.  Images of the haunting mushroom cloud have a particular poignancy.

I have only just begun to process the many thoughts, questions and emotions that this play triggered for me.  This New England Premiere of "Astro Boy" is an opportunity for Boston area audiences to experience something new and fresh and provocative.  That is how Company One rolls!  Head out to Tremont Street to experience it for yourself.   Bring a date, bring the family, bring someone who loves anime, bring someone who loves good theater!

The play will run through August 16.



Company One

A New England Premiere
Conceived and Directed by Natsu Onoda Power
July 18, 2014 – August 16, 2014
@ the Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Theatre
Lauded for its technical and artistic genius, ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS serves up live animation, interactive video, and a 1960s dream of the future. Astro Boy – a crime-fighting, sweet-faced robot – and his creator, Osamu Tezuka – the real-life Father of Manga and “Walt Disney of Japan” – explore the intersections of science, art, and family. Director and Playwright Natsu Onoda Power’s high-octane, convention-breaking ASTRO BOY was called “one of the Top 3 Best Theater Experiences in 2012” by The Washington Post. 
Full Price: $20-$38
Students w/ ID:
$15 Presale, $10 Rush
Pay-What-You-Can Performances ($6 min):
Sunday, July 20 & 27

Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont Street
South End, Boston, MA

Box Office:
 Phone: 617.933.8600
Walk-up: Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts,
527 Tremont St.
OR Boston University Theatre Box Office,
264 Huntington Ave.

Apollinaire In The Park 2014 - One More Week of Free Theater in Chelsea's Mary O'Malley Park

As I am learning to appreciate the many positive aspects of Apollinaire Theatre Company, two things stand out.  First, this theatre company consistently presents programs of the highest possible professional quality. Second, they are deeply committed to making a positive impact on their host community of Chelsea.  In keeping with this commitment to community involvement, Apollinaire is presenting free theatre in the park for their 11th production of bi-lingual Theatre in the Park.  The park in the beautiful Mary O'Malley Park that sits on the banks of the Mystic River and just under the Tobin Bridge.

This summer, the two plays being offered are "¡Bocón! " by Lisa Loomer and "Invasion!" by Jonas Hassen Khemiri.

I recently enjoyed a performance of  "¡Bocón! "  The play is written in such a way that the story is easily understood by both Spanish and English speakers.  The play tells the story of a boy living in an oppressive environment "south of the border."  After his parents are taken away by soldiers, the boy loses his power of speech, and eventually find his way to the U.S., where he is held as an "undocumented" person.  His adventures and perils are portrayed dramatically in a style reminiscent of guerrilla theater or street theater.

On the evening that I attended, the audience included families with young children as well as senior citizens, sitting in chairs or on blankets.  All ages enjoyed the performance with equal gusto.

The Apollinaire acting troupe for these plays running in repertory include:

Julia Alvarez
Felix Teich
Jacob Athyal
Victor Hugo Arellano
Nicole Dalton
Tony Dangerfield
Paola M. Ferrer
Melissa Nussbaum Freeman
Kelly Chick
Mauro Canepa
Amelia Lumpkin
Dale J. Young
Alana Osborn-Lief
Diego Buscaglia

The actors play multiple roles in the three plays - "Bocón and the English and Spanish language versions of "Invasion."

I plan to attend the performance of "Invasion" this Wednesday evening at 7:30.  I invite you to consider joining me for a fun evening of free theatre.

For more information and directions, visit the Apollinare website:

Apollinaire Theatre

This will be the final week of this summer's productions.  Here is the schedule:

Invasion: Wednesday & Saturday
Invasion en Español: todos los viernes
Bocón: Thursday & Sunday

Saturday, July 19, 2014

An Inspector Calls . . . And Discovers A Room Full Of Immensely Talented Young Actors - Boston Teen Acting Troupe Presents J. P. Priestley's "An Inspector Calls"

If you hurry, you will still have time to catch the final performance of the Teen Premiere of J.P. Priestley's classic mystery play, "An Inspector Calls."  There is a performance this evening at 8:00 at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theatre.

Since their founding in 2011, Boston Teen Acting Troupe has amassed a very solid reputation for providing teen actors and creatives who are serious about theater opportunities to hone their skills in front of live audiences.  This production has all of the earmarks of a solid professional production.  In less capable hands, this Edwardian era mystery could come off as dated and dusty.  In the capable hands of Director Catherine Spino, this fine acting troupe handle this period piece in very nuanced ways that make the play lively and its themes timely.

The set is elegant and precise, as designed by Molly Porter.  Lighting by Alex Fetchko, Costumes, Hair and Make-Up by Neil Fortin, Sound Design by Jack Serio and Dialect Coaching by Danny Bryck all add to the strong impression that we have been ushered into the very proper dining salon of a very proper aristocratic British family as they as finishing their meal with a toast to their daughters upcoming very proper nuptials.  In the midst of the toasts and celebration, a stranger calls who identifies himself as a Police Inspector.  Complications ensue!

The cast that Ms. Spino has assembled is universally excellent.  In almost every case, the audience soon forgets the actor's chronological age, and settles into seeing each cast member as the age of the character they are portraying in the play.  A bit of gray hair helps in the case of Jack Serio, as pater familias Arthus Birling, but even more impressive are his physical movements, gestures, verbal tics and idiosyncrasies that are characteristic of a man of the world who has been around the block a few times and sees himself as a force to be reckoned with and not to be trifled with.

The rest of the cast shines, as well.

  • Garrett Sager as Gerald Croft
  • Barbara Woodall as Sheila Birling
  • Olivia Hayhurst as Sybil Birling
  • Jordan Underwood as Edna
  • Sam Vita as Eric Birling
  • Brendan Caulfield as Inspector Goole.
Inspector Goole is aptly named, for he ghoulishly haunts the Birling home and family with his questions and insinuations of their potential involvement in the life of a young woman who has committed suicide.  As the Inspector's questions probe ever deeper, individual ghosts emerge and family skeletons come popping out of the proper lavender-scented closet into which they have been stuffed by the various members of the family. Priestley is clever not only in the dialogue he has written and the action he set in motion.  He also manages to allude to many social issues of the day - both the time of the setting of the play (1912) and the time when he wrote the play (1945).

The action is set on the evening of April 15, 1912.  It is the same date as the sinking of the Titanic.  Early in the play, mention is made of an unsinkable ship.  This proper family at the outset seems water tight and unsinkable, but as the Inspector lingers, icebergs appear and holes are ripped in the haughty hulls of the members of the Birling family.  (FYI - April 15, 1912 is also the day that Fenway Park opened for business!)

Along the way, Priestley deals with the rising tension between laborers and industrialists, the role of women in a changing society, denial of the inevitability of war, class warfare of several stripes, and the hypocrisy of keeping up appearances.

Jack Serio as Arthur Birling,
Sam Vita as Eric Birling,
Barbara Woodall as Sheila Birling
and Olivia Hayhurst as Sybil Birling
 (Source:Julia Budde Photography)
This production is a huge success at every level, and adds another feather to the cap of the Boston Teen Acting Troupe.



Monday, July 14, 2014

F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company Presents "City of Angels" - A Very Satisfying Production

"City of Angels" is a gem of a musical that is seldom produced.  Thankfully, F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company has decided to end its 2013-2014 season with a very satisfying production of this beautifully written piece.  For those who are not familiar with "City of Angels" here is a quick overview of the set-up:

"A seductive and stylish homage to artistic integrity and Hollywood film noir screenwriters of the 1940’s CITY OF ANGELS’ irresistible story presents the beleaguered “real world” of STINE, a 1940’s novelist hired to adapt his acclaimed novel, CITY OF ANGELS, into a screenplay for one of Hollywood’s most successful and dynamic movie moguls.  During the course of this daunting assignment, STINE’s wife announces that she has had enough of his womanizing, the mogul refuses to stop meddling in the artistic process while the film’s characters, inhabiting his “reel world”, stage a full-throttled revolt.  The mogul assigns himself a lucrative co-writing credit, STINE quits on the sound stage the first day of principal photography while a “genius” re-write by his main character, STONE, saves his life and the day"

(L. To R.)  Katie Preisig and Jared Troilo star in
CITY OF ANGELS at the Arsenal Center for the Arts
(321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA)
where it will play through Saturday, July 19.

Photography by Matt Phillipps

The most pleasing aspect of the F.U.D.G.E. production of this musical is the execution of the memorable songs and production numbers.  The music was written in 1940's style by Cy Coleman with the brilliant lyrics of David Zippel.  I own the cast album, and never tire of the clever banter of the characters as they sing to one another in clever double entendre.

Joey DeMita directs an energetic and musically sophisticated cast.  Steven Bergman's musical direction perfectly captures the style and ethos of the period.  James Petty has designed a very clever and versatile set that changes - sometimes in mid-action - from Stone's sparse office to the lush Kingsley mansion.


STONE - Jared Troilo*
STINE - Kyle W. Carlson
ALAURA/CARLA - Katie Preisig
OOLIE/DONNA - AnneMarie Alvarez
BOBBI/GABBY - Lori L'Italien
MALLORY/AVRIL - Molly Gervis
ANGEL CITY 4 - Agatha Babbitt, Shawn Gelzleichter,
Amy Oldenquist, Ryan Solero
BUDDY FIDLER - Dan Goldstone
LT MUNOZ - Ben Gold
LUTHER KINGSLEY - Timothy Maguire

*denotes member of Actors' Equity Association

By far the most memorable aspect of this production is the near flawless execution of the clever music and lyrics.  I will mention a few of the musical highlights.

"Double Talk" with Buddy and Stine sets the tone for the troubled relationship that will persist between the screen writer and the director.  Both Kyle W. Carlson as Stine and Dan Goldstone as Buddy do a good job of establishing their characters through this song.

"What You Don't Know About Women" is a highlight of this production.  Lori L'Italien as Gabby and AnneMarie Alvarez as Oolie berate Stine/Stone for being clueless in their interactions with the women in their lives.

In the torch song, "With Every Breath I Take," Ms. L'Italien in the role of lounge singer, Bobbi, reaches down to a smoky and cavernous part of her soul and vocal register to produce this dark number.

In "The Tennis Song" Stone and Alaura face off against each other swapping provocative verbal shots that represent some of Zippel's most clever lyrics.  Jared Troilo and Katie Preisig are at the top of their game in this number and serve aces!

Molly Gervis as the missing rich girl, Mallory, offers up a very provocative rendition of the rousing "Lost and Found."

"All You Have To Do Is Wait" is a clever pseudo-Latin number sung with over the top ethnic panache by the very talented Ben Gold as the vengeful Lt. Munoz.

"You're Nothing Without Me" not only closes Act I but it stops the show.  This duet and standoff between Stine and his creation Stone is a tour de force perfectly executed by Mr. Carlson and Mr. Troilo.  The close harmonies are so perfectly matched that I got chills listening to this number.  Bravo!

Opening Act II is the hauntingly beautiful "Stay With Me" with Rich Hoen as Jimmy Powers backed up by Angel City 4 - Agatha Babbitt, Amy Oldenquist, Ryan Solero and Shawn Gelzleichter.  The song emulates a 1940's era radio broadcast, and is beautifully done.

Finally, Ms. Alvarez's rendition of "You Can Always Count on Me" is a classic "other woman" rant.

As you can see, I very much enjoyed this show.  I think you will too, so head to Watertwon this week.  The show closes this Saturday night.



Thursday, July 17 at 8:00pm
Friday, July 18 at 8:00pm
Saturday, July 19 at 8:00pm

$26 Adults
$21 Students/Seniors 

INFORMATION:  617-945-0773

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Reagle Music Theatre Presents "Me and My Girl - Call the Cops! Joshua Holden Steals The Show!

Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston has done it again: they have exceeded the high expectations I brought with me when I took my seat and waited for Dan Rodriguez's orchestra to launch into the opening riffs of the overture of "Me and My Girl."  I only became aware of Reagle a few summers ago, and since discovering this iridescent gem of a theatre company, I have been consistently delighted and transported by each production I have attended.

Before last evening, I knew little about "Me and My Girl."  I knew a couple of the songs: "Lambeth Walk" and "Leaning on a Lamp-Post." The story is a simple one - Upscale Mayfair meets Downscale Lambeth.  Denizens of the two worlds collide in ways that send showers of entertaining sparks flying at the audience and which leave all of the play's characters somewhat changed by the collision of classes.  But this play is about so much more than the book.  On the surface it is a simple and often silly saga of class warfare with a touch of Pygmalion thrown in for good measure.  The overall impression  with which I was left at the end of the play was that I had experienced a delightful encounter with something resembling a mash-up of Gilbert & Sullivan, the Gershwins and a dash of Monty Python.

Director and Choreographer Cynthia Thole appeared in this show on Broadway, so she brings the ethos of the piece to the cast which she has carefully assembled.  They are a wondrously entertaining troupe - a saucy admixture of veterans of the stage and energetic rookies who hold their own quite well alongside Actors' Equity members.  There is not a weak link among the chain of principals and ensemble singers and dancers.  The show is a visual delight.  Ms. Thole has recreated the original Broadway choreography, and it is gorgeous - legs and arms flying in all directions in perfect syncopation.  Adding to the spectacle is the delightful set designed by Richard E. Schreiber, Lighting by David Wilson and Costumes by Kansas City Costumes.  Previously mentioned Dan Rodriguez leads an orchestra that bathes the players and the performance space in luxuriant tones with vibrant brass overtones and lush strings.

Among a uniformly impressive cast, several actors stand out and need to be highlighted here.

Joshua Holden as Bill Snibson commands the stage from the moment he bursts through the double doors leading to the interior of Hareford Hall.  His Cockney accent and rough manners stand in comically stark contrast to the stiff-upper-lip ethos of Hareford Hall and its aristocratic inhabitants.  It has been learned that he is the unlikely heir of the late Earl of Hareford, and if he can be cleaned up enough to be able to address the House of Lords without creating a scandal, he shall become the next Earl and take ownership of Hereford Hall and all that accompanies the title.  The physical humor and agility that Mr. Holden brings to the role is mind-blowing.  He seems born to play this role.  The ermine-trimmed cape depicted in the poster above plays a significant role in one of the funniest scenes in the play.  This scene alone is worth the price of admission.  In my title for this article I mentioned that he steals the show.  I do not mean that he in any way tries to overshadow the rest of the cast.  It is simply that when he is on stage, one cannot keep one's eyes off of him, wondering what he will do or say next.  This role for Holden is nothing less than a tour de force!  He is an original - an amalgam of Fred Astaire, Stan Laurel and Jim Henson!

Joshua Holden as "Bill Snibson" from Reagle Music Theatre's production of Me and My Girl
running July 10-20th at the Robinson Theatre, Waltham.
Photos Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/Herb Philpott

Jamie Buxton plays Bill's Cockney girlfriend, Sally Smith.  With Bill's rapid escalation up the social ladder, she is reluctant to hold him back by his being saddled with a simple and unsophisticated companion, she she tries to disappear and leave him to his new life.  Complications ensue!  Ms. Buxton has a sumptuous Broadway voice, and her rendition of "Once You Lose Your Heart" is heart-rending and a highlight of the evening.  Like a carefully chosen wine, her Sally pairs well with Mr. Holden's bangers and mash Bill.

Devon Stone as Gerald Bolingbroke and Shonna Cirone as Lady Jaqueline Carstone are also perfectly paired.  Before the discovery of the heir, they stood to inherit Hareford Hall when they marry.  Jacqui throws over Gerald when he is no longer the presumptive heir.  She plots to win Bill's heart, and Gerald plots to make sure that Bill does not succeed in becoming a gentleman. Their duet, "Thinking of No One But Me" is a fun number.

The trustees of the estate who must decide if Bill passes muster to become the Earl of Hareford are Sir John Tremayne (Rishi Basu) and Marie, Duchess of Dene (Carole Healy)  They are each pitch perfect in these roles - the Duchess trying to help to refine and salvage Bill and Sir John trying to send Bill packing back to the East End of London.  Like Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," these two use outward hostility towards one another to mask a smoldering subterranean passion that finally comes to the surface and is fanned into flame. They bring a wonderful archness and playfulness to the roles that greatly enriches this production.

Speaking of playful archness, Chris Charron as Herbert Parchester, the Hareford family's Solicitor, is clearly having a great time with this role.   The usually punctilious solicitor often spontaneously breaks out into song, including the very Gilbert & Sullivan-like "The Family Solicitor."

Daniel Forest Sullivan's Butler, Charles Heathersett, is the very model of formal correctness and rectitude, remaining calm amidst Bill's escalating antics.

I could go on.  They are all lovely, and seem to be having the time of their lives singing and dancing and telling this delightfully silly tale.

Joshua Holden as "Bill Snibson" (center) and ensemble from Reagle Music Theatre's production of 
Me and My Girl, running July 10-20th at the Robinson Theatre, Waltham.
Photos Courtesy Reagle Music Theatre/Herb Philpott

My advice is to take a Lambeth Walk out to Waltham, and see this show that runs through next Sunday, July 20.

Reagle Website



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Homeless Artists - A Rallying Cry To Support Boston's Fringe Theater Community - Factory Theater To Close

Don't Let This Happen To Boston's Fringe Theater Companies!
As soon as I received the communication below from Mikey DiLoreto of Happy Medium Theatre Company, I knew I had to help to spread the word of the immanent loss of an important performance space in Boston's South End.  You will read in Mikey's missive the news that Factory Theater will be closed to make way for a gym and parking lot.

It would not be a proper Blog piece in The White Rhino Report without a bad pun or two, so here we go.  Let's go with the gym and parking lot motifs.  Those of us who love and support the Boston theater scene must put our heads and hearts together, do the heavy lifting and work out a way to find a new home or homes for these theater companies listed below.  We need to help find them a place to park themselves, their props and costumes and their audience's butts.

Please reach out individually to leaders of the theater companies listed below and offer your blood, sweat, tears and dollars to find a creative solution.  Let's help raise the curtain on a new era of theater possibilities in this great city!

Here is Mikey's message:

"I write you today with a very heavy heart. 

The Factory Theatre has been told to close its doors on 10/31/14 to make way for a gym and an enclosed parking lot. This displaces so many young companies such as: Happy Medium Theatre, Heart & Dagger, Sleeping Weazel, Fresh Ink Theatre, Maiden Phoenix, Science Fiction Theatre, among others. 

As the Artistic Director of a fringe theatre group, I am crushed. I am heartbroken. The Factory has afforded so much to the arts in Boston, and to lose it is nothing short of soul-crushing. We, as fringe theatre artists, have been dealt a huge blow, but hopefully not a TKO. That is, until we can find a new home because, in short, we're homeless. 

My hopes in writing this email is to get something out there to the public. You are the premiere reviewers for the Boston scene, and we need some help getting this recognized by folks who might not know how much this hurts the arts in our community. If you do the math, it is quite possible that dozens of: artists will not be showcased onstage this next year; playwrights will not be produced; new works will not be seen; designers will be without work, etc. 

Thank you for your time in reading this. I hope to hear from you. 


Mikey DiLoreto
Artistic Director
Happy Medium Theatre"

Review of "Edgar Allan Poe - The Fever Called Living" by Paul Collins - Illuminating the Dark Life and Literary Career of Edgar Allan Poe

Nevermore will I wonder about the troubled path that Edgar Allan Poe trod; Paul Collins has illuminated that dark journey through life.  In 100 very sparse and concise pages, Mr. Collins has captured both the salient facts about Poe's life and the ethos of his troubled pilgrimage and literary career.

As a result of reading the author's carefully chosen prose and excerpts from Poe's own writing, I feel as if I have a much deeper understanding of Poe's rocky journey as a writer and as a human being and would-be philosopher.  The title of the book is very fitting: "Edgar Allan Poe - The Fever Called Living."  The "Fever Called Living" phrase is culled from Poe's late work, a poem entitled "To Annie."

"Thank Heaven! the crisis - 
The danger is past,
And the lingering illness,
Is over at last - 
And the Fever called 'Living'
Is conquer'd at last"

Poe himself lived his life at a feverish pace and pitch, and left behind a legacy of memorable stories and phrases, as well as providing a spark for authors like Arthur Conan Doyle who drew inspiration from Poe's "Murders In The Rue Morgue" as the proto-detective and mystery novel.  Poe's was a life was cut short by drink and disease, but it was a life worth celebrating and remembering.  Mr. Collins has helped us to do that with style that would have made Poe smile..



Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Exciting Boston-based Job Opportunity - Personal Assistant and Team Assistant with Some Basic Accounting Background - Immediate Opening

An exciting Boston-based start-up in the field of on-line adaptive learning needs to hire a personal assistant/bookkeeper.  The position is initially part-time - 25-30 hours per week with benefits.  The ideal candidate must be extremely well organized, professional and articulate, have a valid driver's license.  Previous basic bookkeeping experience is a plus.

This position can evolve into a full-time role with greater responsibilities, leading to Chief of Staff or similar role.  This could be ideal for the spouse of a Boston area graduate student, or someone wanting to return to the workforce at a less than full-time schedule.


  • Handle expense management for senior executives
  • Process monthly bills
  • Organize and maintain personal calendars
  • Personal shopping as needed
  • Handle routine errands, including dry cleaning, groceries, etc.
  • Assist in coordinating conferences including flights, hotels, etc.

  • Dependable, professional demeanor with strong verbal and written communication skills:
  • Ability to handle confidential information with discretion
  • Self-starter who is able to prioritize and organize work flow
  • Ability to drive to multiple locations in the Boston area as needed
  • Can-do attitude
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office
  • Knowledge of Quick Books or equivalent a plus
Hours: Initially 25-30 /week - flexible

Location: Brookline/ Chestnut Hill

Send MS-Word resume and cover letter to Dr. Al Chase,

Monday, July 07, 2014

A Fascinating Victorian Romantic Thriller - Review of "the Illusionists" by Rosie Thomas

Rosie Thomas has conjured up a wonderful and fascinating tale in "The Illusionists."  Set in Victorian London, the novel evokes the spirit and style of many of Dickens' novels and characters.  The work revolves around a troupe of illusionists and their supporters who perform at the Palmyra Variety Hall on the Strand.  Devil Wik is the nominal head of the troupe.  He, along with the dark-hearted dwarf Carlo and Devil's boyhood friend, Jasper, all love the irrepressible Eliza.  Devil eventually wins her heart and her hand.

Eliza is the real heart of this story.  She represents women who do not want to settle for a pre-programmed and proscribed role as dutiful housekeeper, wife and mother.  She has other aspirations.  The author very cleverly intertwines Eliza's story with that of an automaton who has been built by a mad Swiss inventor by the name of Heinrich.  Heinrich has built and programmed Lucie to dance with him on the stage. Using the new technology of voice recording, he captures Eliza's voice and places it inside of Lucie.  That act of capturing involves a wonderful foreshadowing.of events to follow.  And it is clear throughout the book that Eliza is no automaton.

Rosie Thomas has won several awards for Romantic Novel of the Year, but she writes in a style that far surpasses that of the typical "romance novelist."  She uses metaphor and intricate themes as she lays out a fascinating tale with many twists and turns.  The language is rich and evocative.  If you like magic, Victorian England or simply a great read, then "The Illusionists" will delight you.



Sunday, July 06, 2014

Guest Blog Article by Ben Faw: "Wearing My Military Uniform In the Business World

My good friend, Ben Faw is a combat veteran, a graduate of West Point who recently completed his MBA at Harvard Business School.  He will be joining the team at LinkedIn Headquarters in the fall.  

I am grateful that he has given me permission to share his thoughts about what military veterans bring to the business world.

Wearing my Military Uniform in the Business World by Ben Faw

Ben Faw, a combat veteran and former Army Captain, shares his thoughts on how prior members of the military can use their unique skill sets to battle the dangerously high young-veteran unemployment rate of 21.4%.

Rank never equaled respect in the military, and neither will your title in the private sector

Pinning the 2nd Lieutenant bar on my beret and shoulders as a junior Army officer following graduation from West Point was an incredible moment. However, I already knew any true respect from my subordinates would be earned through actions and care for their needs, not through the rank shown on my uniform. The same principles apply in business. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” In my own case, helping my Soldier’s clean bathrooms when they were exhausted from the sweltering heat in Iraq earned more respect than any rank or position ever would. Post military, my experiences in private companies and academic environments have shown this same principle at work. Serving others as a leader has translated into far more credibility and respect than flaunting position, rank, or past accomplishments.

The “Right time, right place, right uniform” still makes a difference

While the peer from the private sector might know Excel modeling and financial statements far better than a veteran, the self-discipline practiced in the military is rarely ingrained as deeply in people from other backgrounds. Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hours it takes to become an expert in something; after the first few years of service, many veterans have already completed the 10,000 hours in self-discipline training.  Whether you are going to a platoon meeting or the corporate board room, arriving a few minutes early dressed in the right attire goes a long way in building trust, credibility, and authority. I can still clearly remember an occasion when I was late in Basic Officer Training, and I was the patrol leader for the mission! That terrible feeling in my stomach after my commander woke me up late at 5AM is something I will never let happen again.   

Fitness, health, and wellness create an edge

Those early morning physical training sessions five days a week in the military were not a waste.  Instead, they built a habit and character trait that now becomes an advantage. Maintaining this fitness routine post-military provides more than just a healthy feeling; recent research indicates it may lead to higher wages as well. Even if your health and wellness never directly impacts wages, the self-discipline and work ethic can shine through to potential employers in a positive way. Practicing healthy living can also help reduce stress and build the resilience and stamina needed for the challenges of the future. With long winding and ambiguous career paths for many in today’s workforce, every reasonable way to reduce stress is useful!
Be willing to serve based on the job, not the location 

As you can see in the interactive image, veterans tend to take jobs all over the country after business school. This should not come as a huge surprise. In their military careers, veterans have been deployed in locations far off the beaten path, and continuing on this same trend of serving based on the job - and not on the location - is nothing new for them. While it can be neat to live in an energetic city, if you dislike the job itself or the company culture, it is not the right choice for you. Instead, focus on finding something that you love, regardless of location, and you will always do your best work. 
 Leadership is incredibly transferable

While the functional training received in the military is not always transferable to the private sector, the leadership skills are. When I started my military service, I learned how to follow. As a freshman at West Point, I witnessed my first Platoon Sergeant earn incredible respect by participating alongside the unit in every event, even when he had no obligation to do so. In that same training cycle, another unit leader constantly did the minimum required and lost credibility. When I was eventually given responsibility for subordinates, I made sure I set the example through participation and devotion to duty. In one of my first civilian jobs at Tesla Motors, learning by following again helped me build the skills to lead that I would eventually use when I earned more responsibility within the company. Whether you are leading a military unit into harm’s way or guiding a team though the due diligence process for an investment, many of the same skills apply: communicating and listening to others, leading by example, and treating all parties with respect. These skills were essential in the military, and they are still incredibly important in the private sector.

A special thanks to Matthew Faw, Momchil Filev, Julia Yoo,and Walter Haas: You have each been wonderful editors in this writing process and more importantly dear friends, thanks for everything.

Some Smooth Fingers - Sanctuary At Ground Zero - In Loving Memory of Bob McCrone

Photographs by James Wheeldon, '
and (inset) Leo Sorel

“Some folks like to get away;
Take a holiday from the neighborhood”

Bob McCrone took his place at the keyboard as he did several days each week since tragedy had visited the neighborhood surrounding St. Paul’s Chapel at Trinity Church.  Along with a handful of other volunteer musicians, Bob felt drawn to this place in order to provide a sanctuary of sound for the rescue workers toiling next door among the rubble and ruins of the World Trade Center.  The workers came into the Chapel weighed down with physical fatigue, staggered with unimaginable grief for their colleagues whose remains they were attempting to recover, and carrying heavy souls wracked with questions and anguish.  St. Paul’s had become a sanctuary – a place to rest for a few minutes, to grab a cup of coffee, to have their backs rubbed and feet massaged by volunteers and to allow their spirits to be bathed in the gentle waves of sound that came from Bob and his brother and sister musicians.

On this day, as Bob began to play Billy Joel’s iconic “New York State of Mind,” his eyes were drawn to someone who caught his attention as he took his place in the back pew.  He was an imposing figure – an African American gentleman of a certain age with a stern look.  He seemed to be listening intently, and Bob wondered if the look on the man’s face was an indication that he did not like what he was hearing.

“But I know what I'm needing
And I don't want to waste more time
I'm in a New York state of mind”

Bob labored on, playing a song that had come to mean so much to him and others who call New York home. When he looked up from the piano keys, he noticed that the man – his presumptive music critic – had moved a few pews closer.  He was still listening intently, and did not look pleased.  Bob wondered what he may be doing wrong, but played on.

It was so easy living day by day
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
But now I need a little give and take”

Bob mused to himself, “I wish I could know what he is thinking,” 

He soldiered on, playing the last verse and chorus. 

“It comes down to reality
And it's fine with me 'cause I've let it slide
Don't care if it's Chinatown or on Riverside

I don't have any reasons
I've left them all behind
I'm in a New York state of mind

I'm just taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line
'Cause I'm in a New York state of mind”

As he looked up from the keyboard, he was shocked to see that the man had moved closer still, and was sitting as close as he could get to where Bob was perched on the piano bench.  Breaking the silence, the man spoke to Bob:

“Boy, you sure have some smooth fingers.”\

Bob recently left us.  In his last days of being able to talk with friends, he loved to recount this story.  “Smooth-fingered” Bob McCrone was one of the most humble men who ever walked the earth or tickled the ivories.  He always deflected praise to others and away from himself.  But when he told the story of the mysterious critic who praised his “smooth fingers,” he did so with a hint of a gleam in his eye.  Bob was put on this earth to provide pleasure and sanctuary to others through his music.  Being told that he had “smooth fingers” was tangible evidence to him that he was fulfilling his mission.  He played the piano with the same gentle grace with which he lived his life.  Those of us who knew and loved him have had our path through life made more gentle and smooth by Bob’s “smooth fingers.”  His notes of graciousness will ever reverberate in our souls.

Some smooth fingers!

Play on, Bob!

In living memory of Bob McCrone, by Al Chase

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Review of "This Is Your Brain On Music" by Dr. Daniel J. Levitin

This is a book that had sat on my "to be read" shelf for too long.  I finally pulled it down, and I am so glad that I did.  Daniel J. Levitin comes at his examination of how music impacts the brain from two perspectives.  He trained as a musician at Berklee College of Music, a few blocks from where I sit writing this review.  He then went on to receive a Ph. D. in neuroscience, and is a leading expert in the field of Human Cognition.

"This Is Your Brain On Music - The Science of a Human Obsession" provides answers and clues to our very human propensity to make music and to listen to music - since before recorded history.  What comes through very clearly in his writing are his twin passions for music and for scientific inquiry to solve mysteries of how we think and feel in response to specialized stimuli such as music. There is enough detail in this book to keep the scientist engaged and the musician intrigued.  Yet the concepts are also explained in such a way that they are accessible to non-scientists and non-musicians.

I have long been a music lover, and reading this book has given me a deeper appreciation of what is happening within my brain and spirit as I listen to such diverse works as Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Handel's "Messiah," or Don MacLean's "Starry, Starry Night."



Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Review of Bill Bryson's "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" - A Memoir of Growing Up in the 1950s

I have long been a fan of Bill Bryson's work.  He has a knack for presenting the familiar in refreshingly unfamiliar ways. In this memoir of growing up in the 1950s, "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid," he shares simple stories of what life was like for him and his friends and neighbors in Middle America - Des Moines, Iowa.  There were too many spots for me to keep count when I burst out laughing at the image he had created in my mind as he related memorable characters and indelibly vibrant pranks and pratfalls.

This book is a loving portrait of a simple and satisfying time in which to grow up.  It is one man's story of his boyhood, but it is also a slice of American cultural history as well.  I can't wait to share it with my sister and brother, who will recognize many of the same dynamics of life as a kid when Ike was in the White House.