Larry O'Brien

Larry O'Brien



Posted: Apr. 24, 2018

BWW Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS--LIVE FROM BROADWAY at Providence Performing Arts CenterBWW Review: THE ILLUSIONISTS--LIVE FROM BROADWAY at Providence Performing Arts Center
Posted: Jan. 20, 2018

BWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, OR WHAT YOU WILL at Burbage TheatreBWW Review: TWELFTH NIGHT, OR WHAT YOU WILL at Burbage Theatre
Posted: Feb. 26, 2018

BWW Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at Providence Performing Arts CenterBWW Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at Providence Performing Arts Center
Posted: Mar. 2, 2018

BWW Review: New Life: PILOBOLUS: BRANCHES at Veterans AuditoriumBWW Review: New Life: PILOBOLUS: BRANCHES at Veterans Auditorium
Posted: Oct. 30, 2018

BWW Review: LAKE STREET DIVE: FREE YOURSELF UP at Veterans AuditoriumBWW Review: LAKE STREET DIVE: FREE YOURSELF UP at Veterans Auditorium
Posted: Nov. 15, 2018

BWW Previews: LE DERNIER REPAS: A LOVE STORY at Counter-Productions Theatre CompanyBWW Previews: LE DERNIER REPAS: A LOVE STORY at Counter-Productions Theatre Company
Posted: Mar. 23, 2018

BWW Recommends ART: It's Good for Ya!
April 25, 2017

'ART' has come to Rhode Island in a very entertaing production. Hey, what is art, and why are your friends your friends?

BWW Review: LEND ME A TENOR a Little Off Key at Rhode Island Stage Ensemble
April 9, 2017

Some good things, some not quite so good things going on in Woonsocket.

BWW Review: Willy Russell's SHIRLEY VALENTINE Comes to 2nd Story Theatre
March 14, 2017

Willy Russell's SHIRLEY VALENTINE is running right now at 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, and I advise you to call them at once to purchase a ticket and them come back and finish reading my review. This is the second trip to Russell-Land for director Mark Peckham and 2nd Story; last year they scored with EDUCATING RITA. I think they're on to something. This time Russell has created the circumstance of a housewife, who, feeling shortchanged by life, has the chance to travel to Greece and see what more there might be.

February 19, 2017

2nd Story Theatre in Warren is currently offering Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark's 1979 classic MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON'S. Did I say classic? What I meant was a shallow, pithy, superficial, farcical, and light-weight comedy. Bobrick and Clarke cut their teeth writing tv comedy for some of the smartest television of all time like The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Steve Allen Show. (Look these up if you have to.) This is a comedy about murder and infidelity-now who couldn't like that? 2nd Story says they were shooting for 'a pain-reducing balm' to what we've been experiencing the past months, and I think they more or less delivered. The audience was laughing and, my God, needed it.

BWW Review: BORN YESTERDAY at Ocean State Theatre Company is Scary/Funny
January 28, 2017

On opening night, Garson Kanin's BORN YESTERDAY had 'em rolling in the aisles at the Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC) in Warwick. Actually, the first act had 'em rolling in the aisles; the second act had 'em marching in the streets.

January 18, 2017

SEASCAPE, Edward Albee's 1975 Pulitzer Prize-winning comic-drama is getting a very entertaining production at Warren's 2nd Story Theatre. SEASCAPE is a quirky, compelling examination of the meaning of life, how we got, and where we go, from here. On a deserted beach, an older couple (Ed Shea and Susan Bowen Powers) encounters two humanesque sea creatures (Valerie Westgate and Charles Lafond) contemplating the evolutionary leap to dry land. Ironically, it's the human couple, for whom existence has grown flat and routine, who holds the answers to the inquisitive amphibians' naive yet probing questions, which in turn helps the humans answer their own. If I have neglected to say so thus far, this thing is hilarious.

BWW Review: Love PRELUDE TO A KISS at 2nd Story Theatre
November 25, 2016

With PRELUDE TO A KISS, the current offering at 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, RI, playwright Craig Lucas came up with a realistically magical take on the Hollywood formula, boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl back. Apparently this theme predates even Hollywood: on the way home from the theater I listened to Monteverdi's seventeenth century opera, L'Orfeo, based on the even older story of Orpheus, in which boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, but oops. In this PRELUDE TO A KISS, which 2nd Story bills as a modern day fairy tale, elderly 'wedding crasher' (F. William Oakes) kisses the bride, Rita, (Lara Hakeem) and their souls exchange, which turns a perfect wedding into a white-knuckled flight of doubt and regret. All this leaves the brave but bewildered groom, Peter, (David Sackel) to reverse the curse armed only with the power of love and, eventually, the assistance of the persona-switched bride and crasher. Got all that?

October 28, 2016

First of all, I was supposed to write a review last month of Charles Morey's adaptation THE LADIES MAN by Georges Feydeau. Unfortunately, the elevator was out of service and, since I get around in a wheelchair, so was I. I finally got to see it the night it closed; It was the night of the full Hunter's Moon, and Warren was hopping-every restaurant we passed was packed. My wife and I had a light dinner around the corner from the theater at the Square Peg. The joint was jumping and deservedly so. Then it was on to THE LADIES MAN, and it was a hoot; Ed Shea was hilarious; the whole production rocked. I still laugh once in a while at some of the goings on.

August 8, 2016

BWW Review: DAMN YANKEES at Ocean State Theater Company Lose Some But Winsome
July 11, 2016

Ocean State Theater Company (OSTC) opens its summer season with the 1955 Tony Award winning musical, DAMN YANKEES. The show may be sixty years old, but as long as the Yankees play ball and there are fans that despise them, it will have a place in many a heart.

BWW Review: HAROLD AND MAUDE at 2ND STORY THEATRE - Flower Power Lives!
July 5, 2016

In keeping with Artistic Director Ed Shea's avowed goal of staging less cynical plays, 2nd Story Theatre in Warren is offering the stage version of the 1971 cult film classic HAROLD AND MAUDE by Colin Higgins, who wrote both the screenplay and this stage version, If you have never seen the film version, which starred Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort, you should get yourself over to Warren; if you have seen the film, you might want to go by a ticket to see what director Kevin Broccoli hath wrought. This production features some fine performances, a couple of almost magical special effects, and a story that is so dated it's current again. As Maude, charmingly played by Isabel O'Donnell, explains to Evan Kinnane's Harold in the second act, 'A cliche today is a profound truth tomorrow, and vice versa.' Somebody say, 'Amen.'

June 17, 2016

Either late last winter or early spring, 2nd Story theatre's Artistic Director, Ed Shea, announced that he was looking for less cynicism and revamped the schedule. Out went SPEED THE PLOW and in came CATHOLIC SCHOOL GIRLS. In Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom's adaptation of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE (based Albom's book), Shea has struck the mother lode of positivity. In this play (and in the book, and in life) Mitch (Jeff Del Sisto) a young, career-driven journalist learns of his former professor Morrie's (Jay Burke) battle with Lou Gehrig's disease and a one-time visit becomes a weekly pilgrimage and a graduate seminar on the meaning of life and death. The book has sold over fourteen million copies and been translated into fourteen languages. Cynical it is not. The question is, how does into translate onto the stage?

BWW Review: BUDDY - THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY at Theatre By The Sea
June 6, 2016

Theatre By the Sea (TBTS) in Wakefield, RI (I would have thought Matunuck) opens its season with a rousing version of BUDDY-THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, a jukebox musical in two acts with a book written by Alan Janes, and music and lyrics by a variety of songwriters, mostly of course, Buddy Holly. Based on the life and career of the early rock and roller, the musical hews more closely to Holly's actual life story than the 1978 film version, which starred Gary Busey, and follows Holly from his struggles to escape country music and establish himself as a rocker, to his untimely death in a plane crash in 1959.

BWW Review: Take a Chance on EDUCATING RITA at 2nd Story Theatre
May 9, 2016

EDUCATING RITA by Willy Russell is running at 2nd Story Theatre at 28 Market St. in Warren until May 22. Ed Shea plays Frank, the jaded, just-this-side-of washed-out, alcoholic professor; and Tammy Brown plays Rita, a hairdresser who wants more out of life, who wants not simply a change in circumstances, but, as she says twice in the play, 'the change in yourself.' Rita wants to know, 'what's it like to be free?' If Frank ever knew, he has forgotten. Over the course of the very enjoyable two hours, they each get to look at what they know and to decide what must stay and what has to go. This play reminds you of Shaw's Pygmalion: the young woman comes to the older man seeking knowledge that can transform her life. Henry Higgins is more confidant then Frank in the value of what he has to offer, but Rita, whose real name turns out to be Susan, is every bit as convinced of its worth as Eliza Doolittle ever was.

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Providence Performing Arts Cewnter
April 28, 2016

JERSEY BOYS has opened at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), 220 Weybosset St., Providence. The touring company moves out Sunday May 1, which does not give you a lot of time to pick a date, come up with the scratch and get your butt over there. This play rocks, and this iteration of it rocked PPAC opening night.

April 19, 2016

CATHOLIC SCHOOL GIRLS by Casey Kurtti, the current offering at 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, follows MASS APPEAL and continues the theater's exploration of the Catholic Church in the second half of the late, lamented Twentieth Century. While MASS APPEAL concentrated on the masculine side of the Church (priests and would-be priests), CATHOLIC SCHOOL GIRLS focuses on the distaff side by following the school lives of four grammar school girls and the nuns who teach them at St. George's School in Yonkers. Four actresses play the girls and each takes a turn playing a different nun. Unlike a show like NUNSENSE, which is played for laughs, Kurtti's play explores both the lighter and darker sides of the girls experience; sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it hurts. You don't have to be Catholic, but it helps.

BWW Review: MASS APPEALs at 2nd Story
March 24, 2016

2nd Story Theatre in Warren is on a pretty good run in 2016: HYSTERIA, LOVE DEATH AND WHAT I WORE, and now MASS APPEAL by Bill C. Davis, playing Upstage until April 3, have each provided entertaining and interesting evening or afternoons for their audiences. This play premiered in 1981-about halfway between Going My Way and Spotlight. That seems right: the show does not portray priests as saints, and only hints at the existence of problems, that will be revealed later on. In ninety minutes, MASS APPEAL tells the story of Father Tim Farley (Bob Colonna), a Catholic parish priest whose comfortable existence is upset by the arrival of an idealistic young seminarian, Mark Dolson (David Sackal), who becomes Fr. Farley's charge and challenge. Father Tim Farley is highly popular with his parishioners due to his charm, wit, easy-going manner, and entertaining (but unchallenging) sermons. One Sunday Dolson interrupts Farley's 'dialogue' sermon to challenge his stance on the ordination of women. In fairness to the young man, Fr. Farley had invited questions but got more than he asked for from Dolson. The pastor is outraged yet intrigued by Dolson, and asks to have him assigned to work with him. And that, as Rick tells Captain Renaud in Casablanca, is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

BWW Review: LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE at 2nd Story
February 29, 2016

You are almost out of time to go see LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE by Delia and Nora Ephron, currently running Downstage at 2nd Story Theatre in Warren. Part of this is 2nd Story's fault, as the show had a limited run to begin with; and partly this is my fault because my computer monitor quit and delayed you faithful correspondent in the swift completion of his appointed rounds. Sigh. Still, you have another weekend.

February 4, 2016

BWW Review: Odd But Funny STORY THEATER
November 27, 2015

STORY THEATER by Paul Sills is one odd little theatrical experience. It features music by the estimable duo of Atwater and Donnelly and a half-dozen or so actors performing the fables of Aesop and the Brothers Grimm. This piece originally opened on Broadway in 1970 and closed after 243 performances with three Tony nominations, including one for best play. Paul Sills has an outstanding pedigree in improvisation: in the fifties he opened the Compass Players, which was an early platform for the esteemed Mike Nichols and Elaine May; in the sixties, he was a co-founder of Second City improvisational comedy troupe (Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi and Stephen Colbert are among the alums). After leaving Second City, Sills ran several schools teaching improvisational techniques around the country.