Back from vacation as I continue my reviews of the 7 plays I’ve seen in the last 10 days! In addition to yesterday’s Must Sees, here’s my take on what to see before they close:

L .to R. Anthony Pires, Jr., Sheree Marcelle, Diego Cintron

NEXT TO NORMAL: An outstanding, moving, smart production of this Pulitzer & Tony-winning musical is onstage now at CENTRAL SQUARE THEATER and co-presented by FRONT PORCH ARTS COLLECTIVE. Well-directed by Pascale Florestal, this musical deals with the explosive  repercussions and fallout of mental illness in a nuclear family. It is the first New England production to feature a Black family which only serves to widen its relevance .

Sheree Marcelle is deeply relatable as the mother, Diana, who is suffering from what has been roughly diagnosed as bipolar disorder. Her long-suffering husband Dan is played by the potent Anthony Pires, Jr. These two magnificent voices and performances anchor a superb production additionally bolstered by its excellent supporting cast: the sweet-voiced Cortland Barrett as daughter Natalie; the charismatic Dashawn McClinton as Natalie’s loving boyfriend Henry; Diego Cintron brings tenderness to son Gabe; Ricky Holguin makes the thankless role of Diana’s psychiatrist–who has no quick solutions–honest and compassionate.

I was moved to tears at this frank yet hopeful look at what ails more and more of us, and its understanding that there are NO easy answers to anything life throws our way beyond acceptance, love and resilience. At Central Square Theater EXTENDED through Sunday 6/30!

Christopher Chew & Jennifer Ellis

 

SOUTH PACIFIC: It’s a three-hour extravaganza at REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE in Waltham and packed with more fabulous Rodgers and Hammerstein songs than I remembered! Directed and choreographed by Elliot Norton Award winner Rachel Bertone, the production boasts a stellar cast: Jennifer Ellis and Christopher Chew as Nellie Forbush and Emile de Becque are an achingly gorgeous couple who make beautiful music together while navigating love, politics, and racism in the middle of WWII and the soft winds of Bali Hai. Lisa Yuen is nothing short of spectacular in the tricky role of Bloody Mary. Blake du Bois as young officer Lt. Cable in love with Bloody Mary’s daughter Liat, the delicately beautiful Calico Velasco, cook up real heat. Brendan McGrady as Luther Billis is winning as a cocky sailor always playing the angles. Bertone captures that 1940’s slang and can-do optimism. I LOVED this production. See it ONLY¬† THROUGH THIS WEEKEND 6/23 at REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE!

L.to R. Eryn O’Sullivan, Jaime Jose Hernandez, Diego Arciniegas, Wendy Waring, Adrianne Krstansky. On the floor: Valyn Lyric Turner

VANYA and SONIA and MASHA and SPIKE are a quirky quartet up at GLOUCESTER STAGE. Rebecca Bradshaw directs Christopher Durang’s “Chekhovian”comedy of sibs squabbling over the family home. It comes to life in Act II thanks to a terrific cast lead by Diego Arciniegas as a dawdling Vanya, Adrianne Krstansky as the loopy Sonia, Wendy Waring as theatrical Masha, and Jaime Jose Hernandez as hunky lunky boy toy Spike who can’t keep his shirt on. Valyn Lyric Turner as aspiring actress Nina, and Eryn O’Sullivan as kooky psychic Cassandra fill out the excellent supporting cast. Only through Sunday 6/23!

Clockwise from top left: Arthur Gomez, Sara Coombs, Jared Troilo, Lisa Kate Joyce

 

GUYS AND DOLLS¬† is the final offering of Greater Boston Stage Company’s season and features a striking performance by Jared Troilo as smooth-talking gambler Sky Masterson who falls for straight-laced missionary Sarah Brown played by Lisa Kate Joyce. This duo along with Sara Coombs as Hotbox Nightclub performer Miss Adelaide are the reasons to see this show. Troilo is firing on all cylinders in an electric rendition of “Luck Be A Lady”! At Greater Boston Stage Company through 6/30!