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Robert Barossi

Robert Barossi Robert Barossi has worked in just about every possible job in professional theater, from actor to stage manager to company manager to box office and house manager. This has included time spent immersed in the theater and arts scenes in places like Philadelphia, D.C., Boston and Rhode Island. He has also been a staff writer for Motif Magazine in Rhode Island, writing reviews, previews and features, for six years, leaving the publication just recently. Though not working in professional theater currently, he continues to work on being an aspiring playwright and getting to as much theater as possible.
MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Reviews: OUT LOUD Theatre Immerses the Audience in Brilliant RHINOCEROSBWW Reviews: OUT LOUD Theatre Immerses the Audience in Brilliant RHINOCEROS
Posted: Apr. 25, 2015


BWW Reviews: Gamm Theatre's Up and Down Season Ends With Timely MARIE ANTOINETTEBWW Reviews: Gamm Theatre's Up and Down Season Ends With Timely MARIE ANTOINETTE
Posted: May. 11, 2015


BWW Reviews: Monsters Among Us at Mixed Magic Theatre's FRANKENSTEINBWW Reviews: Monsters Among Us at Mixed Magic Theatre's FRANKENSTEIN
Posted: May. 18, 2015


BWW Reviews: Family Dysfunction Brought to Life in Epic Theatre's ABSALOMBWW Reviews: Family Dysfunction Brought to Life in Epic Theatre's ABSALOM
Posted: May. 18, 2015


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Reviews: Mediocre MARY POPPINS Lands at Theatre By the SeaBWW Reviews: Mediocre MARY POPPINS Lands at Theatre By the Sea
Posted: Jul. 28, 2014


BWW Reviews: Incomparable LINDA EDER Brings Showstopping Talent to The VetsBWW Reviews: Incomparable LINDA EDER Brings Showstopping Talent to The Vets
Posted: Dec. 15, 2014


BWW Reviews: The Gamm's Sublime THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES Surprises in Many WaysBWW Reviews: The Gamm's Sublime THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES Surprises in Many Ways
Posted: Mar. 12, 2015


BWW Reviews: DIANA KRALL Brings Unmistakable Talent and Style to PPAC with WALLFLOWER WORLD TOURBWW Reviews: DIANA KRALL with WALLFLOWER WORLD TOUR
Posted: Mar. 5, 2015


BWW Reviews: Ocean State Theatre Kicks Off Summer with Pitch-Perfect ALWAYS...PATSY CLINEBWW Reviews: Ocean State Theatre Kicks Off Summer with Pitch-Perfect ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE
Posted: Jun. 9, 2014


BWW Reviews: Trinity Rep Ends Fiftieth Season with Uneven A LIE OF THE MINDBWW Reviews: Trinity Rep Ends Fiftieth Season with Uneven A LIE OF THE MIND
Posted: Jun. 3, 2014


BWW Reviews: Family Dysfunction Brought to Life in Epic Theatre's ABSALOMBWW Reviews: Family Dysfunction Brought to Life in Epic Theatre's ABSALOM
May 18, 2015

Family dynamics and dysfunction are well-worn territory for writers, artists, singers and all other creative types. Themes that run through family dramas are among the most universal themes a writer can employ. They are the stories that we all experience, instantly recognizable and relatable. In her play Absalom, now being presented by EPIC Theatre Company, Zoe Kazan mines these stories and universal human experiences for a tale that is all too familiar, for better or worse.
BWW Reviews: Monsters Among Us at Mixed Magic Theatre's FRANKENSTEINBWW Reviews: Monsters Among Us at Mixed Magic Theatre's FRANKENSTEIN
May 18, 2015

There is a very famous episode of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone called 'The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.' The episode dramatizes the concepts of how and why people might in fact turn into monsters. It demands that the viewer ask 'who are the real monsters?' and 'is it us?' These sorts of questions about monsters and how they are created have been around for many years. One of the most famous, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, is now receiving a new and fascinating adaptation at Mixed Magic Theatre.
BWW Reviews: Gamm Theatre's Up and Down Season Ends With Timely MARIE ANTOINETTEBWW Reviews: Gamm Theatre's Up and Down Season Ends With Timely MARIE ANTOINETTE
May 11, 2015

At times, it can be hard to imagine that there was ever a period in history when society was as celebrity-obsessed as we are right now. With the internet, social media, Twitter, 24-hour cable news and everything else, information about the rich and famous is everywhere, all the time. It seems impossible to avoid and seems that the public's appetite for it is insatiable. On the other hand, David Adjmi's play Marie Antoinette, now playing at the Gamm Theatre, casts the famous French queen in much the same kind of world. And while the uneven play doesn't offer much that's new or original, it does provide another lens through which we can view and examine our own society and it's problems.
BWW Reviews: OUT LOUD Theatre Immerses the Audience in Brilliant RHINOCEROSBWW Reviews: OUT LOUD Theatre Immerses the Audience in Brilliant RHINOCEROS
April 25, 2015

Theater is often at its best when it is unconventional. Surprising. Innovative. While there is certainly merit in sticking to the old-fashioned and traditional ways of doing things, there's also great value in doing something new and outside-the-box. The success of doing so depends on many things, from the technical aspects of a production to the ability of the actors to create and tell the story in ways the audience can relate to, even in unfamiliar trappings. So far in the short lifespan of OUT LOUD Theatre, the company has excelled in doing just that, masterful storytelling that is delivered in creative and exciting ways.
BWW Reviews: JOHN MELLENCAMP Shows No Sign of Slowing Down at Rocking PPAC ShowBWW Reviews: JOHN MELLENCAMP Shows No Sign of Slowing Down at Rocking PPAC Show
April 17, 2015

Famous celebrities, singers, musicians, actors and the like, can often seem almost other-worldly. As if they're from some other dimension or planet, different from ours, one we'll never fully experience or understand. Others, though, seem so remarkably a part of our world and a familiar resident in it that the quality becomes one of their calling cards. For his entire decade-spanning career, John Mellencamp has been one of those artists. He has always had an everyman quality, as if he has worked the same jobs we have, dreamed the same dreams, lived the same life and had the same experiences. And, of course, he has had some of those same dreams and experiences, he's just been able to craft them into songs which have more than stood the test of time and still have as much relevance and power as on the day he wrote them.
BWW Reviews: Fast and Furious Fun at Trinity Rep's A FLEA IN HER EARBWW Reviews: Fast and Furious Fun at Trinity Rep's A FLEA IN HER EAR
April 13, 2015

Door-slamming farce can be a tough beast to tame. There's often so much going on, so much quick-moving action, doors opening and closing, characters literally running from place to place, that it can easily devolve into a confused mess. And there are usually so many witty retorts and double entendres, also often delivered very quickly, that they can sometimes be missed altogether. Luckily, in the hands of Trinity Repertory Company, A Flea in Her Ear by Georges Feydeau, is handled with near-perfect precision.
BWW Reviews: Excellent Performances Lift Weak Script of Wilbury Group's RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURNBWW Reviews: Excellent Performances Lift Weak Script of Wilbury Group's RAPTURE, BLISTER, BURN
March 30, 2015

There are many ways a playwright, filmmaker, writer or artist can work their themes and messages into a creative work. In some cases, those themes are delivered subtly, with nuance, so they're almost imperceptible at first but land in the audience's mind long after they've witnessed the work of art. At the other end of the spectrum, important messages can be put at the forefront, told in forceful and undeniable ways so that the audience is immediately confronted with them. Both of those approaches can and do often work. Unfortunately, in the Wilbury Group's current production of Rapture, Blister, Burn, the messages are delivered at the expense of a captivating compelling story or engaging characters.
BWW Reviews: The Gamm's Sublime THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES Surprises in Many WaysBWW Reviews: The Gamm's Sublime THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES Surprises in Many Ways
March 12, 2015

There are some plays that are easily categorized. They fit a very specific label, nice and neat and tidy. Hamlet is a tragedy. Noises Off is a comedy. There's little room for doubt or debate. On the other hand, some plays defy definition. They challenge you to put them into a category or give them a label. When that happens, you can sometimes get a muddled, confused mess that never really works. Or, as in the case of The House of Blue Leaves, currently playing at the Gamm Theatre, you get an exciting and entertaining piece of theater that surprises in part because of just how well it works.
BWW Reviews: DIANA KRALL Brings Unmistakable Talent and Style to PPAC with WALLFLOWER WORLD TOURBWW Reviews: DIANA KRALL Brings Unmistakable Talent and Style to PPAC with WALLFLOWER WORLD TOUR
March 5, 2015

While Providence Performing Arts Center is known by many as the place in town where the big touring Broadway musicals make their local stop, PPAC isn't just about the Broadway shows. It's also a venue with a reputation for bringing in countless other kinds of performances, from stand-up comedy to internationally renowned dance troupes. Recently, PPAC has also hosted a string of amazing concert performances from some of the world's most talented and beloved musicians. Last year featured such performers as Beck and Jackson Browne and this year includes the recent appearance of Diana Krall, making a stop on her "Wallflower World Tour."
BWW Reviews: Ocean State Theatre's THE LAST FIVE YEARS is a Tale of Two MusicalsBWW Reviews: Ocean State Theatre's THE LAST FIVE YEARS is a Tale of Two Musicals
February 28, 2015

Coincidentally, Ocean State Theatre Company happens to be presenting back-to-back productions which are two-person shows. The first one, The Meeting, was a serious drama depicting the fictional meeting between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The second one is their current production of a much different show, the musical love story, The Last Five Years. While the first one had a noticeable but minor difference in the charisma and stage presence of its two performers, the second one is an example of just how obviously wide that gap can become and just how much the difference between its two leads can impact a production.
BWW Reviews: Wilbury Group Showcases New Works with ROADHOUSE: THE MUSICALBWW Reviews: Wilbury Group Showcases New Works with ROADHOUSE: THE MUSICAL
February 27, 2015

For theater aritsts and theater lovers, few things compare to watching the genesis of a new piece of theater. The creation and development of a new work, from initial staged readings and workshops to final performance, is a thrilling process. Of course, there are many steps along the way and not all of them are successful. Not every aspect of the play found in the first version of the script will make it to the final version. Not every beloved moment or great-idea-at-the-time will end up making the grade when all is said and done. Still, it's a process that is vital to the present and future of theater. Vital because new blood and new life must be created and injected into the theatrical world and it's up to theater artists everywhere to make sure that happens. In our region, one of the companies doing just that is The Wilbury Group, currently presenting the second iteration of a new work, Roadhouse: The Musical.
BWW Reviews: OUT LOUD Kicks Off Third Season with Unique and Exciting FEFU AND HER FRIENDSBWW Reviews: OUT LOUD Kicks Off Third Season with Unique and Exciting FEFU AND HER FRIENDS
February 23, 2015

There are an endless number of ways for a new theater company to make its mark. In a crowded artistic and theatrical landscape, a fledgling company must find a way to stand out and be noticed. A way to make its voice heard. Some will succeed spectacularly while others will fail just as spectacularly. Now entering its third season, OUT LOUD Theatre has begun to carve out quite a successful path for itself. Last season's Metamorphoses proved just how talented and skillful the company could be at pure storytelling. This season's opening show, Fefu and Her Friends, allows the company to demonstrate equal talent in bringing a distinctive voice and vision to a theatrical event that is entertaining and exhilarating.
BWW Reviews: Fine Performances Fill 2nd Story's Uninspired SEMINARBWW Reviews: Fine Performances Fill 2nd Story's Uninspired SEMINAR
February 13, 2015

It may be something rare when a theater company is able to utilize its two performances spaces at the same time to feature two plays which are extremely similar yet completely different in important ways. Two plays that deal with similar issues and in a sense tell the same story, or kind of story, but execute that story with vastly differing results. Such is the case at 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, where the current production in the UpStage space, Seminar, bares a striking resemblance to the just-closed production that playe din the DownStage space, Collected Stories. While Collected Stories was a finely crafted study of two nuanced and textured characters, Seminar is the exact opposite. This play, written by Theresa Rebeck, doesnt even begin to scratch beneath any surfaces as it deals with four writers who are participating in a writing seminar with a well-known, past-his-prime writer of fiction. As the seminar progresses over the course of a number of weeks, we begin to see conflicts arise as the egos, insecrities, passions, dreams and failures of the writers, young and old, tumble together and clash.
BWW Reviews: Ocean State Theatre's Riveting THE MEETING Should Not Be MissedBWW Reviews: Ocean State Theatre's Riveting THE MEETING Should Not Be Missed
February 9, 2015

There is a well-known Native American proverb about the spirits of two wolves that live inside all of us. One is violent and aggressive. The other is peaceful and benevolent. The wolves are always fighting and the one that wins, according to the proverb, is the one we feed the most. In every battle we fight, we can choose which way to respond. Are we going to react with aggression and violence or with compassion and empathy?. Two of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, were similarly two sides of the same coin. One preached nonviolent protest while the other was willing to use violence to stop or defend against violence. In Jeff Stetson's play The Meeting, receiving its New England premiere at Ocean State Theatre Company, we witness an imagined encounter between these two men, who in real life met only once, and briefly. This time, they get a little over an hour, in a hotel room in Harlem in 1965, to discuss, debate and arm wrestle, figuratively and literally, over the best way to achieve their common goals.
BWW Reviews: Wilbury Group's Surprising ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDNESTERN ARE DEAD is A Must-SeeBWW Reviews: Wilbury Group's Surprising ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDNESTERN ARE DEAD is A Must-See
January 26, 2015

It may sound strange but, at its best, theater is not unlike an ecosystem in the natural world. Every organism in nature interacts with every other organism. All the various parts of that system, living and nonliving, must work together so that the system as a whole can survive and thrive. Similarly, every part of a theatrical production must work well together. All the elements, acting, directing, sound, lights, costumes, etc. must be working in harmonious union. If not, it's just a gathering of disconnected ideas, concepts and gimmicks, making a collection of nice parts but not a cohesive whole. On the other hand, when done just right, all of the parts come together to create a perfectly executed singular vison. The Wilbury Group's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is exactly that type of show.
2nd Story Explores Relationships and Writers in Wonderful COLLECTED STORIES2nd Story Explores Relationships and Writers in Wonderful COLLECTED STORIES
January 19, 2015

'Write what you know' is a phrase writers hear often and have heard for probably a very long time. It's also a hotly debated piece of advice, with some saying it's essential that writers do just that and others saying that writers should ignore it and write about anything and everything. It boils down to the writer's source material, the fountain of their inspiration. Should they draw only from their own lives and experiences? Or should they draw from the lives and experiences of everyone else around them? And is there anyone or anything that is off limits? These are just a few of the central questions in 2nd Story Theatre's emotional and though-provoking production of Collected Stories.
BWW Reviews: Spectacular Magic and Hilarious Comedy Brought to PPAC by THE ILLUSIONISTSBWW Reviews: Spectacular Magic and Hilarious Comedy Brought to PPAC by THE ILLUSIONISTS
January 17, 2015

Heading to Providence Performing Arts Center the other night, I couldn't help but turn to my friend who accompanied me and say, "When was the last time you saw a magic show??" It seems that these days magic shows are less common than they were in our youth. Back in the day, you would often hear about and could witness live the likes of David Copperfield, Doug Henning, The Pendragons and others. Today, it seems, magic shows are relegated to kids' birthdays, college campuses and the Las Vegas Strip (wherefore art thou, Sigfried and Roy?). On the other hand, The Illusionists, a touring show featuring seven different magicians and playing this weekend at PPAC, proves that magic shows are alive and well. And still extremely entertaining, although perhaps in slightly different ways. While magic shows of old seemed to be much more about the grand illusions and massive spectacle, The Illusionists keeps things at a much smaller scale. This may be due, largely or in small part, to the fact that it's a touring show. There's only so many props and set pieces you can fit in the back of a truck.
The Gamm's Unique MORALITY PLAY Offers Big Ideas but Lacks DepthThe Gamm's Unique MORALITY PLAY Offers Big Ideas but Lacks Depth
January 7, 2015

An audience member sitting by me at the Gamm's performance of Morality Play mentioned that one of the reasons she loves the company is their penchant for putting on plays that are daring, challenging and different. They do not just do the same old thing, she said, and she's absolutely correct. It is one of the characteristics of the Gamm that make it stand out among the theatrical crowd, that they take on plays that are more unique or risky than other companies might dare to produce. Morality Play is, arguably, a bit of a risk. While successful at being something unique, it is not as successful at being an entertaining, compelling or enjoyable piece of theater. Based on a novel of the same name, by Barry Unsworth, Morality Play is adapted for the stage by the Gamm's Tony Estrella. The story revolves around a roving troupe of actors, traveling the harsh English countryside in the winter of 1361. This gang of thespians are among the earliest practitioners of theater, actors who performed morality plays, one of the three major types of drama in the Middle Ages (the other two being miracle plays and mystery plays). In morality plays, a figure representing the common man, often called something like Everyman, is tempted by the personification of qualities such as Vice, Avarice or Lust, but is then saved by the appearance of, for example, Truth, Faith or Conscience. In the case of this play, our actors have just suffered the death of one of their company. Almost immediately, they meet a runaway priest who they allow to join them as a player, to take on the roles of the dead actor. Shortly thereafter, the troupe, very short on funds, arrives at a town where they will perform one of their morality plays. After that play fizzles, they decide to perform a new kind of play, one based on an actual real-life event, a true crime that has just occurred, the murder of a young boy. While doing so, they begin to solve the crime and put their own lives in jeopardy. If that sounds like an interesting idea, actors solving a crime using their powers of performance, it truly is. Unfortunately, this play is more of a collection of interesting ideas and concepts than an engaging piece of theater. Much of the play's early going feels like the Theater History 101 class that every theater major takes in college. It's as if the professor said, Come up with a morality play and put it on for the class, just how the actors of the time would have. And I'm willing to give Estrella and director Tyler Dobrowsky the benefit of the doubt that they have accurately recreated the feeling of the times and created an accurate and true recreation of the drama of the Middle Ages. Still, most of it is fascinating but boring and uninspired, not likely to excite many audience members, other than those who took that class in college. After getting through all of the this is what theater was like in the 1300's stuff (and it takes a long time), we finally reach the play's central story, the true-crime murder mystery. Unfortunately, this part of the play just demonstrates how many times we've seen all of this before. It quickly becomes an episode of C.S.I.: Broadway, with actors, instead of scientists, running around investigating and solving the crime. And in the third act, there are enough twists and turns to fill a season's worth of Law & Order episodes, with everything from corrupt heads of state to pedophiles and mysterious diseases. Yes, I realize that part of the point is that things that happened way back then are still relevant today, but in this case, they just make for a dull, predictable mystery, rather than an exciting and compelling story. One reason why it's not compelling is that we never really get to know any of these characters, not well enough to really connect with or care about them. The runaway priest, Nicholas Barber, is given a bit of backstory here and there, but not enough (he also may suffer from the fact that he is no longer the central character and narrator of the story, as he is in the novel). The master player, Martin Bell, also has some hints thrown his way about a possible checkered past, but not enough is provided to really make us feel for him. The other players are almost nameless and mostly interchangeable. Most of the rest of the characters, the King's Justice, for example, are just stereotypes, given no depth whatsoever, as they are only there to further the plot. Not helping is the actors milling about before the show, interacting with the audience as themselves, not in character, as far as I can tell. It adds to the feeling that we are watching Providence actors giving us a demonstration of early drama, not watching real, developed and believable people who lived at that time. Having said that, the Gamm has assembled an all-star team of some of the area's best acting talent. The dashing and charismatic Jesse Hinson makes his Gamm debut as the priest, Nicholas Barber. Hinson is masterful in the role and provides a number of the play's highlights, from his scene with the accused woman's father to another scene with the acting troupe's whore, who is about to get out before it's too late. Hinson makes every moment count and is impossible to not watch when he's in a scene. On the other end of the who is the protagonist? tug-of-war is Martin Bell, played by Tony Estrella. Bell is the leader of the troupe of actors, their motivator and moral compass, or at least he tries to be. Estrella, as usual, plays all of the nuances with skill and dexterity. At times, he is the seeker of truth and justice, and at other seems like a bit of a snake-oil salesman. It's a balancing act that he's able to pull off better than most. Our travelling troupe of performers are played by an excellent ensemble, all giving fine performances, even if they aren't ever given the chance or reason to dig very deep emotionally. Steve Kidd is a standout as Stephen, as is Elliot Peters as Springer. Jed Hancock Brainerd is also wonderful, though given a bit less to do. All three shine especially bright during the scenes when the troupe puts on their plays, from the biblical story of Adam to the true-crime tale of murder. All of the movement and physical action in those scenes is especially interesting and partly due, I assume, to Normand Beauregard, who plays one of the actors, Tobias, but is also one of the area's best fight choreographers. In what seems at times like a cast of thousands, a number of other actors appear and vanish. The wonderful Jeanine Kane, as the Innkeeper and wearing a hat she stole from Pharrell Williams, is mostly wasted. Jim O'Brien also gets little to do but does give a brilliant turn in one scene as the weaver, the father of the accused woman. And that woman herself, who is deaf and mute, is played by Clara Weishahn, providing one of the show's best performances. Her scene with Estrella, where they communicate without words, is beautiful and mesmerizing. It's unfortunate that the rest of play could not be as spellbinding or entertaining as that one scene. Instead, it relies of far too much speechifying and talking a lot about big ideas. Much of it is also heavy handed, as if they really want to make sure the audience gets the message, loud and clear. There are certainly some interesting themes and messages for the audience to ponder as they leave the theater, but the rest of the production may leave them cold and wanting more.
BWW Reviews: Incomparable LINDA EDER Brings Showstopping Talent to The VetsBWW Reviews: Incomparable LINDA EDER Brings Showstopping Talent to The Vets
December 15, 2014

Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence may not always get the same level of appreciation or respect that is bestowed upon its big brother, Providence Performing Arts Center. Underappreciated or not, The Vets, as it's called, brings in its fair share of wonderful performances and fabulous productions. This past weekend's holiday concert with Linda Eder was easily a highlight of the season for everyone in attendance. From the first moment to the last, Eder proved why she is one of the most talented and beloved professional songstresses of our time.
BWW Reviews: Broadway Tour of CAMELOT Dusts Off an Old Tale at PPACBWW Reviews: Broadway Tour of CAMELOT Dusts Off an Old Tale at PPAC
December 11, 2014

Some classic stories, tales, myths and legends do more than stand the test of time. They speak to generation after generation, entertaining and teaching new audiences across the ages. The legends of King Arthur and his knights of Camelot are those kinds of stories. They remain as well-known and beloved today as they have ever been. There are similar theatrical entertainments, plays and musicals, that stand the test of time, entertaining the masses in the same way for years and decades. Unfortunately, Camelot, the musical version of those Arthurian legends, is not that kind of musical.


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