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Boston Spotlight: February 2005

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Joe Wilson, Jr. and Kes Khemnu in Topdog/Underdog
(Photo © Christopher Oquendo)
Wasn't Broadway brave to stay lit throughout the latest storm of the century? Here's what New England has to offer that would warrant going postal -- slogging through all the rain/snow/slush/sleet/ice or whatever else nature sees fit to hurl our way.

Last chance (through February 6 only) to catch the Huntington Theatre's irresistible bonbon, The Rivals. And you've got a few weeks more (till February 13) to see Topdog/Underdog at Trinity Rep in Providence before the production decamps for the New Rep in the Boston burbs, where it will run February 23 through March 27. February 19 is the cutoff date for The Moonlight Room as rendered by the Speakeasy Stage -- definitely on a roll this season -- at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Startups include the inaugural production of the new Boston Conservatory Opera, under the direction of stellar local baritone Sanford Sylvan: they're mounting Phillip Glass's challenging 1984 work Akhnaten February 3-5 at the Boston Conservatory Theater.

On February 4-20, the Devanaughn Theatre -- housed in the Piano Factory, an artists' complex in Boston's South End -- will present Voices in the Dark: 3 Plays by Samuel Beckett, comprising Krapp's Last Tape, the lesser-known Ohio Impromptu, and a radio drama, Cascando; the latter will be performed in the dark, with a score by British avant-rocker David J. February 4 is also the start date for the New England première of The Sanctuary Lamp by Tom Murphy (Bailegangaire, etc.) at the BCA, performed by the Sugan Theatre, which specializes in contemporary Irish/Celtic drama. The play -- about the consolatory function of religious faith -- caused a ruckus when it debuted at the Abbey Theatre in 1975; it runs through the 26th.

The American Repertory continues its world-ranging season with The Far Side of the Moon (February 4-27), a solo piece written/directed by Robert Lepage and performed by Yves Jacques. Originating in Quebec and performed thus far in scores of international venues, this multimedia extravaganza -- with music by Laurie Anderson -- pursues parallel vectors: the space race, and the quest for self-understanding.

A children's theatre production of The Sound of Music might sound ho-hum, were it not for the presence of a couple of outstanding performers: knockout gospel singer Angela Williams as Maria, and Leigh Barrett -- Boston's most acclaimed musical star -- as the Mother Abbess. It's at the Wheelock Family Theatre February 4-27.

Trinity Rep is offering up a Francophile romp -- The Moliere Impromptu -- February 4 through March 13. This backstage view, conceived by director Christopher Bayes, encompasses some of the master's best-loved comedies, within a framework of an impending royal command performance.

Huntington subscribers have a star-power treat in store February 8 through March 6: Trumbo, with Brian Dennehy as the blacklisted but far from silenced screenwriter. And Boston is the tryout town for the Kathleen Turner/Bill Irwin Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, at the Wilbur Theatre February 10 through March 16.

On February 16-27, the Wang Center, in concert with Boston Lyric Opera, presents the East Coast premiere of The Little Prince, composed by Rachel Portman. The Stoneham Theatre will introduce New England audiences to the '60s musical John and Jen February 17 through March 6. February 18 through March 19 brings the Boston premiere of Michael Hollinger's Red Herring -- a spoofish romance/mystery/thriller set amid the cold-war hysteria of 1952 -- at the Lyric Stage.

Tour-wise, Cats prowls the Wang Center yet again -- isn't it on its ninth life by now? -- February 22-27, and the Colonial hosts The Producers February 22 through March 6.

Gordon Edelstein directs A Moon for the Misbegotten at New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre from February 23 through March 27, and Boston audiences are looking forward to the local premiere of Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul, directed by Jason Southerland of Boston Theatre Works, at the BCA February 24 through March 19. The very accomplished, and seemingly ubiquitous, Nancy Carroll plays the eccentric central character.

February 24 also marks the New England premiere of The Cook by Eduardo Machado at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut. Director Michael John Gárces oversaw the play's successful run at New York's Intar 53 Theater last season. Running through March 27, it tells the story of a family retainer in Cuba whose faithful service over several difficult decades earns her scorn and distrust, rather than gratitude. Expect a submersion experience in the quiddities of post-Castro Havana, and an exploration of the notion of home.

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