Summer Theater Wrap-Up

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BOB OAKES: "Morning Edition" critic at large Ed Siegel's been hitting some favorite haunts and joins us to talk about what he's seen. So Ed, what should we be seeing?

ED SIEGEL: Let's start with Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires, where the great playwright is being upstaged by some of his contemporaries. Tom Stoppard's "Rough Crossing" is easily the funniest production you're going to see just about anywhere this summer.

OAKES: What's that about?

SIEGEL: It's about a collection of theater people slapping together a musical on an ocean liner and the way Stoppard has their private lives intersect with the play, as well as with the hapless steward, is hilarious. Add his great word play and the cast's dexterity with language and farce, and you come away hoping that this won't be the last time the company takes on Stoppard.

OAKES: What about the Shakespeare, Ed? Tina Packer, the sixty-something head of the company, caused waves when she announced she was going to play Cleopatra.


SIEGEL: She doesn't quite carry it off, Bob. It's a noble try, but the spark just isn't there to convince me that "Antony & Cleopatra" is one of Shakespeare's best.

OAKES: Ok, let's go to the Cape. Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater has opened a new space on Route 6. What's playing there?

SIEGEL: "Hunter/Gatherers," is in the new theater, however the play to see in Wellfleet is at what's other, smaller theater on Wellfleet pier. They have a poetic little play there called "What Then," by Rinne Groff. A woman living in a polluted world and stale marriage goes to sleep and imagines a better world. It's a tribute both to imagination and, ultimately, activism. It's a terrific production as well.

OAKES: And you've also been to the North Shore Music Theatre for a musical version of "The Three Musketeers." This one hopes to go to Broadway. Think it'll get there?

SIEGEL: George Stiles is famous for writing music for children's shows and this one doesn't develop a musical language much beyond that. Let's listen:

[Excerpt from "The Three Musketeers".]

OAKES: So anything else on the North Shore?

SIEGEL: Yes. Gloucester Stage Company has a revival of "The Widow's Blind Date," a very adult play by its founder, Israel Horovitz, in which two low-lifes in Wakefield are confronted by a woman with whom they have a prior history. Some of the language and circumstances seem contrived, but Horovitz has a way of portraying class issues that in this play keeps you on the edge of your seat. Here again, the production is first-class with a great performance by Sean Meehan and superb direction by Robert Walsh.

Walsh uses Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" in the play, which like the song is commentary on the lack of glory in working-class macho culture, but this production really rocks.

OAKES: Ed, thanks for joining us.

SIEGEL: Thanks, Bob. See you soon.

OAKES: These productions continue through the weekend and, in some cases longer. WBUR critic at large Ed Siegel reviews theater and the arts for "Morning Edition."

This program aired on August 31, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.