Jared Bowen's Arts Ahead: Love, Luck and Triumph

By Jared Bowen

April 19, 2012


The cast of Cafe Variations. Photo by Paul Marotta.

Dick Clark
Dick Clark in 1957, surrounded by fans during a television broadcast of "American Bandstand."  (AP Photo/File)
BOSTON — New performances by ArtsEmerson and the Huntington Theatre Company, as well as a round of awards, further demonstrate Boston's outstanding theater scene.

Morning Edition host Bob Seay takes a moment to recall, for Jared, how he remembers Dick Clark, the host of a televised "good kids" dance show who helped bring rock `n' roll into the mainstream. He died yesterday of a heart attack at age 82.

Café Variations
Presented by ArtsEmerson and the SITI Company
at the Cutler Majestic Theatre through April 22nd

See the Gershwin classics in a new light as they complement a compilation of scenes taken from the plays of Charles Mee. One woman awaits the future love of her life; meanwhile, her waiter experiences love at first sight. Couples quarrel, philosophize and reconnect. Unabashedly romantic, the show recalls a time when the café was a place for civil discourse—and reflects the courage it still takes for one person to reach out to another.

The Luck of the Irish
Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
at the Calderwood Pavilion through May 6

In the late 1950s, Lucy and Rex Taylor, a well-to-do African-American couple living in Boston’s South End, aspire to move to a nearby suburb to provide a better life for their two daughters. Unable to purchase a home in a segregated neighborhood themselves, they pay Patty Ann and Joe Donovan, a struggling Irish family to “ghost-buy” the house on their behalf and then sign over the deed. Fifty years later, Lucy’s granddaughter Hannah lives in the house with her family, where she grapples with the contemporary racial and social issues that stem from living in a primarily white community. When Lucy dies and leaves the house to Hannah and her sister Nessa, the now elderly Donovans return and ask for “their” house back. This complex yet intimate new play examines the long-term emotional costs of racial integration in Boston and the universal longing for a sense of place.

The 30th Annual Elliot Norton Awards

Presented at the Paramount Center on May 21st

This week the Boston Theater Critics Association announced the nominees for this year's awards, Boston's version of the Tonys.

SpeakEasy Stage Company received the most nominations (13) and had the most nominated show: Red, with five nods. The Huntington Theatre Company had 12 nominations and swept the Outstanding Performance by an Actor category with Richard Clothier in Richard III; Yusef Bulos in Sons of the Prophet and Jason Bowen in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Outstanding Musical Production (Large) goes to Porgy and Bess, Candide and Legally Blonde, while Outstanding Musical Production (Small/Midsize) goes to Next to Normal, The Drowsy Chaperone ( both SpeakEasy) and Peter Pansy (Gold Dust Orphans). Porgy and Bess also collected four nominations including Outstanding production, Best Actor for Norm Lewis, Best Actress for Audra McDonald and Best Director for Diane Paulus.

SpeakEasy Stage Company swept the Outstanding Director category for The Divine Sister, The Drowsy Chaperone and Red.

Kate Snodgrass receives the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence. She's the Artistic Director of Boston Playwright's Theatre and co-founder of the Boston Theater Marathon. The Charlestown Working Theater receives a special citation for "adventurous collaborations that provide unique insights into theater from around the world," and Tommy Tune will receive the 30th Anniversary Elliot Norton Lifetime Achievement Award.

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