By Thomas Brennan
Based on a real-life, 1960s, bank heist pulled off by four criminals, the chase by a corrupt law enforcement officer, and the siege where the criminal protagonists make their final stand, Plata Quemada is a play that carries itself on both strong performances and bold direction with its integration of graphic novel elements.
It at first seems like a production where there are no heroes, only a story where each character who enters is competing to be even harsher than the last. This production isn’t content to do that though. It takes its time in humanizing the criminal protagonists while never fully justifying the atrocious actions or depriving them of consequence. The story builds a sense of intimacy and rawness in the criminals’ dynamics. It’s obvious how awful and dark these characters are and that they’re still relying on one another like a castaway to wreckage. Each of the actors play multiple roles in the story, and though it can be hard to track at certain moments, each performance is always either a gut-punch or a heart-wrench in some form.
Plata Quemada is the latest play of the season, adapted from Ricardo Piglia’s novel, and at the Emerson Paramount theatre from March 11 to 15. Directed by Juan Carlos Zagal and is produced by Teatrocinema, which Zagal co-founded.
All of the technical aspects of the production are as much a delight as the performances themselves. The graphic novel elements and animation on a stage seems like a risky concept, but this technical choreography works. The use of lighting and the backscree are done to a masterful degree. From the starting scene it’s obvious the power this play will have with its use of props, angles and lighting. It brings a dynamic and energetic movement to what could have been otherwise straightforward and less interesting scenes.
The only thing that distracted was the use of subtitles. The choice to assure all the spoken lines were kept in Spanish was definitely the right move as it kept the feel of the production authentic in a historical context and made it feel more immersive. In certain moments the subtitles kept from giving full focus on the performances. It was surprising the play never went the route of word bubbles as traditional graphic novels do; potentially adding even more to the play from the medium they’re pulling inspiration from and sidestepping more inherent issues with subtitles altogether.
The film is provocative and mature in its portrayal of violence, but it balances itself that while it pushes the envelope, that it never feels like a line is crossed unnecessarily. The climax is heartfelt while still feeling like an inevitable path for the story. The end message and its motif of the burning money was also incredibly poignant. It creates the question of how material wealth is able to incite more anger in the populace than the actual gruesome loss of human life along the criminals violent trail.
Plata Quemada is definitely a unique piece with a strong message that amounts to an absolute must see for anyone looking for a great show.
CAMBRIDGE – After 10 years and tons (probably, literally) of glitter, The Donkey Show will end its run this week at the American Repertory Theater’s Club Oberon on the fringes of Harvard Square.
The immersive theatrical experience was part of Artistic Director Diane Paulus’ first season in the “Shakespeare Exploded” festival that also included The Best of Both Worlds and Sleep No More, which took over a school in Brookline.
Paulus created The Donkey Show with her husband, theater producer Randy Weiner, and they staged it Off-Broadway in 1999 to rave reviews.
During its run at the ART, the show was extended because of popular demand and later moved to weekends only, where it continued as a destination stop for brides-to-be and superfans. The Boston Globe’s Meredith Goldstein documented the show’s long run. The show succeeded in at least one area, Goldstein writes, it attracted audiences considerably younger than had been seen at the ART.
The show’s closing also opens a coveted timeslot for local or smaller productions and marks a new chapter for Oberon.
Styleboston’s host and creator Terri Stanley interviewed Paulus prior to The Donkey Show’s opening as one of the TV show’s “Power Player” segments. (See clip above.) This segment originally aired 10 years ago this month.
If there was a Tony Award for best dress worn by a presenter, then actor-director Billy Porter would have taken the prize. His flowing custom-made ballgown (created from the curtain of Broadway’s Kinky Boots) – the show that won him his Tony Award – was just one more bold choice by the star of TV’s Pose. Porter will be in Boston late this summer directing the world premiere of Dan McCabe’s The Purists at the Huntington Theatre Company.
At the award ceremony, the most-talked about outfit was worn by singer-songwriter/playwright Taylor Mac, who was on stage in a full-fledged costume created by Matthew Flower, who is known as Machine Dazzle. Mac, who wrote the Tony-nominated Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. He became a hit in Boston for his five-hour show that played at the American Repertory Theater’s Oberon in Cambridge in 2012.
It was a good night for Bryan Cranston, who won for his role as Howard Beale in the stage adaptation of the film Network. Cranston won a Tony two years ago for his portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson in All the Way, which got its start at the American Repertory Theater (ART) in Cambridge before heading to Broadway. In his acceptance speech, Cranston used the moment to reflect on the state of things, which was very “Howard Beale” moment: “The media is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.”
And while, the Northern Ireland drama The Ferryman won the best play Tony, it was Hadestown, conceived and written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, who won a Tony for her score that stole the night with eight total awards. Also winning for Hadestown was director Rachel Chavkin, who was at the ART a couple of years ago with Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and returns to the ART this summer to open the 2019-2020 season with Six, a musical about the merry wives of Henry VIII.
Berklee College of Music and its sister school Boston Conservatory at Berklee College alumni and faculty were involved in various capacities with other Tony Award-winning shows this season, including Oklahoma! Hadestown, The Cher Show, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ain’t Too Proud, Ink, and Tootsie.
Sergio Trujillo received the 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography in a Musical, for the show Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations. He, too, had success in Boston as the director and choreographer for the stunning Arrabal, at the ART for which he won Elliot Norton Awards.
Also – finally – winning a Tony for his turn on Hadestown was Broadway veteran André De Shields, the narrator of the show. De Shields stole the show in the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of The Jungle Book in which he played King Louie. The Huntington had a lot to celebrate on Sunday night with 23 of its alumni receiving Tony Awards nominations this year.
They both attended Wellesley College and they both faced the usual uncertainty of attending college, surrounded by women of note and, in many cases, privileged. Those campus experiences started both on their paths to serving as the United States’ highest diplomatic position, Secretary of State.
Madeleine Albright, Wellesley Class of ’59, and Hillary Clinton, who graduated from the all-women’s college ten years later, were both on the leafy campus west of Boston for their class reunions. Both women were on stage on Saturday with Wellesley’s president Dr. Paula A. Johnson.
A theme of their discussion was the need to protect democracy from a threat of fascism, something Albright called out in her 2018 book, Fascism: A Warning. “The idea that, ‘Oh it can’t happen here,’ is just old fashioned, my friends,” Clinton was quoted as saying. “There seems to be no staying power for these really serious threats and that’s part of the strategy. …You say something that’s totally beyond the pale of what should be expected from any public official. And so what happened yesterday is quickly lost in what’s happening today.”
You can read more about the Wellesley talk here.
As part of styleboston’s look back at our launch as a television show in 2009, we offer this Power Player segment with Albright and show creator Terri Stanley.
BOSTON – 500 guests turned out for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation‘s 14th annual Boston Hot Pink Party, which raised more than $2 million for breast cancer research. The BCRF has awarded more than $8 million in grants this year.
The swanky gala recognized New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and his girlfriend, Linda Holliday, with the organization’s Carolyn Lynch Humanitarian Award for their commitment to breast cancer research that stretches back to several years. This year’s Hot Pink Party was held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at the InterContinental Boston hotel.
The BCRF was founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1993 and she served as the organization’s chairman until her death in November 2011. In 1989, Mrs. Lauder initiated the fundraising drive that established a state-of the-art breast and diagnostic center at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. That facility is known as the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center.
She and her husband, Leonard A. Lauder, who attended this year’s Hot Pink Party in Boston, were committed to providing the most innovative clinical and translational research for breast cancer in the world. Styleboston’s Terri Stanley spoke with Mrs. Lauder at the Hot Pink Party in Spring 2010 about the BCRF and her many roles with The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., including serving as senior corporate vice president and head of fragrance development worldwide until her passing.
At this year’s Hot Pink Party at the InterContinental Boston, the stars turned out to honor Coach Belichick and our styleboston colleague Linda Holliday.
Gov. Charlie Baker told TV station WHDH that the recognition is well-deserved. “I certainly think if you’re looking for a symbol of excellence over time, which is in many respects what this foundation has been all about, they’re not going to find a better one than what Coach Belichick has accomplished.”
Recently retired (it kills us to write this) Patriots player Rob Gronkowski was on-hand to celebrate his former coach, including taking a turn at the DJ table. Gronk brought along his lady friend, the model Camille Kostek. Breast cancer survivor Paqui Kelly and her husband, Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly, presented the award to Linda and Bill.
Among those in attendance were Holliday’s daughters, fashionistas and bloggers Kat and Ashley Hess; now retired (we’re still upset about Massachusetts’ first lady Lauren Baker; football great Doug Flutie and his wife, Laurie; former Patriots defensive coordinator (and current Detroit Lions head coach) Matt Patricia and his wife, Raina; mega-builder John Fish; WZLX 100.7’s Sue Brady; WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben and her husband, Bill; philanthropist Simone Winston; tech and business guru Bob Davis and his wife, Rita; and Pyramid Group’s Rick Kelleher and his wife, Nancy, who hosted earlier Pink Party events at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
For a gallery of photographer Bill Brett’s party pictures, click here.
Filmmaker Georden West is getting ready to screen her second fashion film at the Emerson Film Festival this weekend. “Patron Saint” (click here to see trailer) will be part of two programs of student shorts that will be screening in the Bright Screening Room at the Paramount Center ArtsEmerson on Sunday, March 24 at 12 p.m., followed by a red carpet reception open to the public at the Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery, located at 25 Avery St. (across the street from the Ritz-Carlton hotel.) West recently completed the Emerson graduate program in Film and Media Arts from what many consider to be one of the top film departments in the country.
West identifies herself as a queer woman and a queer filmmaker and what lead her to making fashion films was the opportunity to speak to groups neglected and often left out of the mainstream conversations. Fashion films can be used to magnify expression, exploring and pushing bounderies, especially with regards to gender.
“The queer community is hungry for representation” says West. “In a society where so much of how we perform gender and sexuality is based on media representation, we actively seek ourselves in the visual arts and are consistently let down. This is why I make fashion film. I am passionate about building visual experiences reflective of the subculture and history of queer people. I want to craft stories in new ways that surface historic and contemporary marginalization and builds community around art that resists universalization and commodification.”
Fashion films have been evolving over the last few years into a way to make a social statement with a new look and language that showcases fashion and lifestyle brands in a more creative and narrative way. Acting as an alternative to traditional promotion and marketing of brands, such as print photo shoots and :30 fashion ads for television, the brands behind the films can be emerging designers or well-heeled names.
For “Patron Saint,” West is collaborating with emerging designer Jamall Osterholm, who is currently a contestant on Bravo’s “Project Runway” and who will be debuting on New York Fashion Week’s official schedule in September. A Rhode Island native, Osterholm graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and his focus is on futurism and borrowing from the past.
“Jamall is a designer whose work speaks to a need for fashion to recognize its own political nature” West explains. “He makes beautiful work while remaining relational to history. Jamall is brilliant and he brings out the best and challenges the teams around him; I know when I work with him nothing will be less than exceptional and intentional. Nothing we say is for beauty’s sake alone.”
“We deserve characters and media art with complexity beyond the tropes of coming-out and romance. I long to see queer stories told in interesting and challenging ways that bring queer cinema to the forefront of the film industry without having to assimilate into its narrative demands that manifest in stereotypes and conventionality,” says West. “To me fashion does this. As an experimental and atmospheric filmmaker, I have an ambitious approach to queer cinema that would allow a narrative to be told with magical realism, challenging the medium of filmmaking as well as presenting original content with novelty.”
Patron Saint will be screening on Sunday March 24th at 12pm and on March 29th at Distillery Gallery.
SAN DIEGO — The owners of TCL Chinese Theatre, known to most as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, are behind San Diego’s newest hot spot, The Theatre Box, a luxury theater, dining and entertainment complex.
And, the new venue was kicked off in grand style, with a private screening of “A Star Is Born,” which recently was nominated for eight Oscars. Noted movie producer Billy Gerber made the short trip form LA to welcome the guests and lead a question and answer session before the film’s screening.
The night was held in partnership with the San Diego International Film Festival, which launches its 2019 season this month with the “Film Insider Series” and its Annual Awards Viewing Party (watch the Academy Awards in style!) star power fundraiser on Feb. 24th.
Theatre Box was the perfect venue for about 400 attendees who played on the red carpet and sipped cocktails from the large bar upstairs. “For the theater itself, Theatre Box plans to host world-class Hollywood film premieres and hand- and footprint ceremonies in the long-standing tradition of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre,” said a representative. “We will surprise you by bringing Hollywood to San Diego.”
Sugar Factory American Brasserie, the high-profile eatery is one of the stars of the show, with plenty of celebrity endorsements behind it. Britney Spears, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman and many others have been seen licking those lollipops, but there is so much more on the table here. The Sugar Factory offers a menu created by world-class chefs that promises to satisfy any palate, offering items from yummy pancakes to mouth-watering burgers, pizza and salads.
Nick Cannon is the face behind the new rooftop sports bar and arcade opening up this summer called Wild ‘N Out, and according to those in the know he and other celebs will be appearing from time to time to guest DJ. A 14,000-square-foot hip-hop-themed Wild ‘N Out will feature a complete arcade with interactive games and memorabilia from the hit MTV show and a sports bar that claims to have the largest televisions in the city. TCL has also teamed up with Pitbull “Mr. Worldwide” to collaborate on ILov305 Rooftop Bar & Garden–a 6,000-square-foot Latin-inspired, rooftop Tiki bar and nightclub set to open in 2019. Known as the place “Where What Happens, Never Happened,” ILov305 fare will consist of a seafood-themed menu to offer in its numerous VIP rooms, several bars and a private lounge, all complete with Pitbull’s ball of fire persona.
So much more than a movie theater, the Theatre Box promises a multi-faceted experience that certainly feels like a giant step forward in the entertainment business. San Diegans should support any venue that shines a spotlight on this beautiful city that is only a stones throw away from Hollywood.
The Theatre Box is in discussions with the San Diego International Film Foundation to partner on several events over the course of the year and film fest CEO Tonya Mantooth is excited about the opportunities to engage with this spectacular venue.
BOSTON — Are the spirit of the times and the spirit of the holidays on a collision course? Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been a time of good cheer towards all men (and women), a celebration of our founding fathers giving thanks to their new world, and, for many, the birth of Jesus Christ.
But today it could be said that the feeling among many people this holiday season is not one of joy and hope, but a heightened sense of anxiety that threatens to derail the holiday train and throw it right off the tracks.
One way to return the essence of the season is to see a “Charlie Brown’s Christmas,” which opens on Nov. 29 for a four-day run at the Boch Center-Shubert Theatre. The unforgettable music of Vince Gueraldi brings people back to this story time and time again and there are several threads to pull on that resonate today-inclusion, tolerance, anti-bullying, and independent thought and speech.
This story also works as a reminder of better days and kinder times, when the world seemed a lot simpler and in many ways much safer. Baby boomers grew up with the Peanuts gang and introduced them to their kids, who still love the timeless group of characters. Lucy, Charlie, Linus, and Schroeder are a staple in the line up of holiday must-sees and accompanying the original Peanuts gang will be Rudoph, Frosty, the Grinch and “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Perhaps what remains relevant for so many of us is that in each one of these stories lies the power to defeat the bad guys and believe, in the end, in decency and the basic goodness of mankind.
For those looking for fun ways to celebrate the holidays, Charlie Brown’s Christmas runs from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. Or, by clicking here.
By: Anna Paula Goncalves
With pop[ular] culture placing considerable focus on the “marketability” of an artist, most would agree that the misplaced focus has weakened the quality of Pop music and jeopardized the potential of what it can become. It’s no longer solely about the raw “talent” anymore. This can – and to some degree, has – made the music we listen to in mainstream radio more commercialized than ever before. So when someone comes into the scene as a “Pop Artist,” whose attention is on reinventing the pop sound with unlikely melodies and chord progressions using a hint of the formulas by timeless musicians before him, I welcome them with open ears.
Last night, I got the chance to see multi-Grammy nominated singer, songwriter and producer, Charlie Puth, during his candid sit down with Grammy Museum’s Artistic Director Scott Goldman at The Clive Davis Theater. Chances are you’ve heard some of Charlie’s chart-topping hits, when he first emerged about three years ago with, “See You Again,” “One Call Away,” “Marvin Gaye (feat. Meghan Trainor),” and “We Don’t Talk Anymore (feat. Selena Gomez).” But believe it or not, these tracks – although successful – were more experimentation for the 26-year-old; tracks that he jokingly referred to as “crap shoots” as he was still discovering himself as an artist.
The Berklee College of Music alum also graced us with a stripped down performance of three of his tracks, including his latest single (“The Way I Am”) off of Voicenotes – one he credits as his “debut” album since he feels he has fully grasped his artistry this time around. Voicenotes was certified “Gold” only five days after its release, according to Forbes. And has been considered as “one of the year’s best pop albums” by the New York Times.
With the admirable ambition to “write soundtracks to people’s lives,” his musical genius is undeniable. His genuine desire (because it clearly shows) in “making people happy” and believing whole hardly that “what matters to [him] the most is how [people] take the music and apply it to [their] everyday life” is what sets him apart in an age where people are hungry for raw and timeless talent.
Some people are simply born with it and born for it. It has become more than apparent that the self deprecating artist with perfect pitch (he jokingly called out the key to an audience member’s sneeze mid interview) is one of those people.
Thank you to Communications Manager Jasmine Lywen-Dill and her team at the Grammy Museum for inviting me to the show. For more information on the museum and their future events, visit GrammyMuseum.org.
LOS ANGELES – L.A. Live, the entertainment complex with a 40,000-square-foot, open-air plaza that features giant LED screens as well as a red-carpet site for special events, celebrated its 10th anniversary on June 8 in Microsoft Square.
A press conference, hosted by ESPN co-anchors Neil Everett and Stan Verret, kicked-off the festivities while the chemistry between the two filled the outside space with positive energy.
Neil and Stan introduced us to the friends and driving forces behind L.A. Live, which includes Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG; Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center and L.A. Live; Curren D. Price Jr., 9th District Council Member of Los Angeles; Luke Walton, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers; chef/restauranteur Wolfgang Puck; and Luc Robitaille, president of the Los Angeles Kings.
The press conference concluded with a special performance by the Conga Room Foundation’s “Conga Kids.” Once the Conga Kids were done wiggling their little hips to “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley, Wolfgang Puck surprised us with the grand finale—a three-foot tall, tiered birthday cake designed especially for the occasion.
Later that evening, L.A. Live transformed into the ultimate anniversary celebration called “Dark Nights Birthday Edition” sponsored by Absolut Vodka. The celebration reflected the name of the location “LIVE” with outstanding performances including Weekend Celebrity, Ryan & Liz Dueling Pianos, and Phobik Vyal.
For the past 10 years L.A. Live has hosted more than 204 million guests and 15,000 events, including 93 award shows, 125 movie premieres, 1,700 sporting events, and more than 2,000 concerts and live events so it’s no secret why L.A. Live is Los Angeles premier sports and entertainment district.
Happy Birthday LA Live and we at LeftCoast.LA wish you many more!
We asked photographer Steven Tackeff to select some of his favorite images from the summer radio station concerts that are always a tough ticket in Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Steve picked some of his favorites from Kiss 108’s annual concert, including Alanis Morissette, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, and Lenny Kravitz.
IMAGES BY STEVEN TACKEFF
One thing that you can count on when talking about Wyclef Jean is that he is not going to walk a familiar path. From running for office in his native Haiti to leading humanitarian efforts after natural disasters, this Grammy Award-winning performer always seems to be on a road less traveled. For his current “Carnival” tour is making stops from cities as varied as Harrisburg, Pa., to Boston, where Jean will play the Wilbur Theatre on March 1. styleboston pulled our interview with Jean from our archives to share. You can view it here.
Photographer Steven Tackeff is a Boston area native who recently returned to his favorite professional subject: photographing concerts and capturing the music scene.
The most striking element of opening night at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre for the musical adaptation of “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was the diversity of the audience and the connection that was made by people of all colors that evening.
In a world where the media seem to barrage people everyday with negativity around race relations in this country, the congeniality and shared excitement for the evening was the prevailing sentiment among the crowd. The performances by the cast of “The Color Purple” were filled with raw emotion, and the audience responded enthusiastically. Strong and natural yet controlled, the actors spun a powerful version of Walker’s story that was more upbeat and positive and less focused on the horrific treatment suffered by these southern African-American women during the 1920s and 30s because of their race and culture.
Moving quickly through the story, the vocal capabilities of the lead actresses, Adrianna Hicks in the starring role of Cecie, and Carla Stewart as Shug Avery, were worth the trip alone. The arts play an ever more important role in bringing people together and encouraging them to find common ground in the things they love. This is the message that Americans need to hear and for a few hours that magical evening all agendas were checked at the door, making opening night’s achievement truly worth the standing ovation it received.
Tickets are on sale now at the Boch Center Box Office, bochcenter.org, or by calling (866) 348-9738.
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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