Sunday, February 21, 2010

Focus on hocus-pocus at Firehouse

Don’t take that old Pilot song literally. You know the one ... “Oh, oh, oh it’s magic. Never believe it’s not so.” ... There, now it’s stuck in your head, too. The point is, you can believe if you want, and a lot of people do, but it’s not mandatory. Peter Boie doesn’t need true believers to make the show work. And he doesn’t need a whole box of props to make it work. Bells and whistles-wise, everything he needs for his show, which pulls into the Firehouse this week, fits into a single suitcase — like the straitjacket, the toilet paper and the Tootsie Pops ... Huh? Yeah, Tootsie Pops, but that would be getting way ahead of the story and, worse, giving up the ghost — and a ghost, by the way, is also a part of the act. Specifically, one of the spirits said to haunt Dungeon Rock, located in a forlorn corner of Lynn Woods, where a pirate died after being sealed in a cave with his ill-gotten booty in the 1600s. And the TP? Hang tight, we’ll see.

But the real trick may be learning how to pronounce his name. He says “bwah.” No one else does, of course, but Boie ought to know, right? And the magician is sticking to his linguistic guns, “trying to maintain the integrity of the French pronunciation,” he says. Or maybe the real sleight of hand is how Boie, 27, was able to turn his “geeky little passion” into a profession that has him crisscrossing the country like a rock star. He calls himself “a magician for non-believers,” saying he tries to create an atmosphere where audiences don’t worry about whether it’s real or how he does it. There’s not a whole lot of spectacle in the show: Just a magician and his audience. “You just sit back and enjoy it,” he says.

Magic started as a way to get his mother to stop bugging him about stupid books. She always wanted him to sit around and read, and he, being a kid and everything, just wanted to be outside running around and playing. So one day, when Boie was 11, she dragged him off to the library, and he found a book on magic tricks. Mom figured, hey, reading is reading. His first professional show was at the Grange Hall in Topsham, Maine, a small town near Bowdoin College. He was 15 years old and took home $50 for his efforts ”... and I thought, ‘Wow, they actually paid me for this, for having fun?’” Tape of the event is available, he says, but no one is ever going to see it any time soon. Since then he’s been putting a tight focus on his hocus-pocus, creating and honing his craft over thousands of performances developing the act, winning honors at major competitions around the country (including a first place at the Columbus Magi-Fest and finalist at the Society of American Magicians National stage contest) and performing at college campuses and corporate functions. He’s doing between 150 and 200 shows a year.

He’s in Dubuque, Iowa, for a show at Loras College, explaining the whole “magic for non-believers” thing during a telephone interview. “A lot of people really want to believe, but you don’t have to. You don’t even have to like magic to like the show. Belief is optional. It’s all just entertainment, it’s just for fun,” Boie says. The show will feature comedy routines, funny escapes. He even contacts a ghost from Dungeon Rock. It’s kind of a creepy routine that may raise a goosebump or two, but shouldn’t worry people with pacemakers. There’s an escape routine. That’s what the straitjacket is for. And there’s some sleight of hand. A word of warning, the audience gets involved. That’s what the toilet paper is for. (Sorry, can’t give it away.) The show is evolving all the time. The Tootsie Pop routine, in which the audience will discover what science has never been able to ascertain: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. (Sorry, we can’t give it away here.) A friend, also a magician on the circuit (Yeah they bump into other on the road and talk shop) pulled that idea out of his hat and Boie picked it up and ran with it. It fit, not all new bits do — no matter how good they may be. He still has not delved into multi-media and bigtime Hollywood displays. “It’s just me on the stage,” he says. “It’s not about props, it’s about me and the audience.”

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: Magician Peter Boie performs at 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Firehouse, 1 Market Square, Newburyport. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors. For ticket information, call 978-465-5336 To see a clip of the Boie in action, click here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Port playwright Boho in Soho

Gregory S. Moss has gone native. He’s Boho in Soho, hanging out, living the Bohemian lifestyle in the Big Apple. That is to say the Port-born, Providence-based playwright, who made a huge splash on the local scene in the ‘90s with the edgy, irreverent Independent Submarine, is writing and generally imposing on the good will and the hospitality of his friends, since, for the moment, he doesn’t have a “real” job or anything especially pressing to do. He’s doing okay with the playwriting thing, though — very well. He’s got three different plays premiering in three major cities this year: “Punkplay,” a piece that has its roots in Newburyport, in the Inn Street youth culture during the first- and second- wave punk movements of the 1980s and 1990s, just closed at Steppenwolf Garage in Chicago, and “House of Gold,” his creepy, in-your-face take on the Jon-Benet Ramsey case — and, more to the point, the disturbing culture that produced and tricked out the pre-pubescent beauty queen, and lovingly, endlessly nurtured the case of her brutal murder for our nightly amusement — will have its professional debut at Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, D. C., in October. And ”Orange Hat and Grace,” his latest play ... well, that, ironically, is the reason Moss is in the city with nothing on his dance card.

“Orange Hat and Grace” is a “little more hospitable” than his previous shows. (“Or housebroken,” says Moss. “Or something ... I don’t know, maybe mature?”) Soho Rep, which made a huge splash last year with its critically acclaimed production of Sarah Kane’s “Blasted,” was supposed to bring out the play for a three-week run beginning next month — with SR artistic director Sarah Benson in the driver’s seat. Then came the "creative team availability issue"
— long story, believe me and the “Orange Hat and Grace” debut got pushed back until the fall. And Moss, in town to be a part of the conversation about the production, suddenly had time on his hands — not a lot, but nearly two months before he’s due back home to lead “Elements of Playwriting,” a four-session intensive designed as a “gymnasium for the writing brain,” he says, in which students will enter with blank sheets of paper and leave with pages of notes, fragments and scenes unlike anything they would have written on their own. It will be the first time Moss has been back in town since the revival of the wildly popular Yankee City Theatre Project, a multimedia documentary theater piece looking at old, weird Newburyport, last year. It’s also a way to “touch base with the community,” he says.

In the meantime, Moss is hanging in New York (“It’s where I should be anyhow,” he says) and trying to keep busy. Because, strange as it sounds, having three of your shows debuting in a year still leaves a lot of time to fill, unless, of course, you’re putting up the productions yourself. He’s collaborating with Nikole Beckwith, another Port exile in the Big Apple and Moss’s go-to actress from the Independent Submarine days, on a stage play and screenplay. Which is great, says Beckwith, a three-time Manhattan Monologue Slam champion, member of the YoungBlood’s playwright group and the Striking Viking Story Pirates. “Writing with other people is hard,” she says, “but it helps if you’ve known each other fifteen years and done as much work together as we have. I love working with Greg and am excited that we found a way to do that again.”

Moss is also working on three projects of his own: A wife and two mistresses, he says — the wife requiring, demanding the most attention, the others “pleasant distractions.” The mistresses are a straight play and a children’s play. And the wife? A follow-up to “punkplay,” a prequel of sorts focusing on the rise and fall of the counterculture in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He says he would like to stage “punkplay” in Newburyport at some point — and is considering directing it himself. He was in Chicago last month for the production by the Pavement Group, a young, energetic Chicago-based company. Sort of. He was actually hiding in the basement of the venue, pacing back and forth the whole time — his usual showtime strategy. (“I can’t be in the same room,” he says. It’s a challenging play — “deceptively so,” says the playwright, seeing how, on the surface, it’s just two guys in a room telling dick jokes. It grows more complex as you unpack it. It’s about Newburyport, about real people, drawn without much literary camouflage. It’s blunt, not necessarily flattering, maybe a little bald, says Moss. Anyone hanging at the fountain would not need a program to keep the players straight.

It was written, indirectly, in reaction to audience responses to “House of Gold” at the Firehouse and Brown University. The subject matter — a murdered pre-pubescent “beauty queen,” with the rest of us as participants, passively or otherwise — is pretty tough stuff, the show itself fearless and aggressively staged. It drew strong, visceral reactions from audiences. Moss found this“surprising,” causing him to examine his approach to theater — why he seemed determined to take what some might see as a deliberately provocative approach. He found the answer in the dim historical reflection of the Inn Street fountain, where all the first- and second-generation punk-rockers hung. Moss and fellow-traveler Dylan Metrano were key figures in that scene— if a decentralized anti-movement can have key figures — forming Hamlet Idiot, a fierce, blistering punk band; publishing Buzzy, a fanzine for the local and larger scenes, and establishing Envy Productions, a multi-media clearing house for alt-culture. “I wanted to write plays that felt like this music sounded,” he says. That is to say brash, aggressive and to the point.

The new play, ”Orange Hat and Grace,” is something else entirely. It’s difficult to describe, except in generalities. It’s about an old woman dying, although you probably would not know it at first. It’s about coming to terms with the fate that awaits us all ... and dealing with the regrets and disappointments of life. Moss describes the play as funny and “one of the prettiest things I’ve ever written” — although, he says, “it’s pretty dirty, too.”

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pullins: The sound, the fury, the war

Yeah, yeah. We all know theater is a collaborative venture, that productions change because outsiders can see something in the work that the playwright cannot because he is too close to it, that actors and directors can clarify the work by fumbling over it in rehearsal — and that, more often than not, the work is better because of the process. But, still, whether they will admit it or not, some playwrights, a sensitive breed, get the jitters as they pass off their "babies" to "outsiders." Not that Ron Pullins is admitting to any of this. The Newburyport playwright is a big believer in the process. But he did confess to a little separation anxiety about "Red Star," a short piece staged last month at the Playwright's Platform in Cambridge. Actually, the playwright said he was "curious" about how they would approach the piece, and that amounts to the same thing. Specifically, he was curious about how they would approach one of the characters because he drew it loosely, allowing the production team plenty of freedom to fiddle about — and because the character (or characters, depending on how you play it) is so unconventional.

Noises of War has the look and feel of a human prop, but is written as a character. It's a one-man war-time noise machine, but it can be played by two, three or more actors who provide special effects — bicycle wheels that sound like machine guns, a drum or tin that sounds like bombs exploding and so on. But the role can also be "played" with a light and soundboard on stage or a multimedia show. "There's no pretense that this is real," he writes in the stage direction. "It is a human imitation of war. The more animated and crazier, the better." But NOW, as the character's pals know him (and as Freudian a slip of an acronym as possible), is meant to be taken seriously. During the reading at the Playwrights Platform, a Boston-based developmental theater for new plays, kind of like the North Shore Readers Theater Collaborative, they played him for laughs. Which is one way of looking at it/him. The character, at first blush, does sound a little like a one-man band — fascinating to watch, but difficult to take seriously, at least at first. The problem is, "Red Star" is not about laughs. It's about people in the trenches, about people ill prepared for war being thrown into the middle of it — and being slaughtered.

"It didn't quite work," says Pullins. "They were really into it, and that was good, but they played it like war-gamers. It played against text. I think they misinterpreted it. But I liked their enthusiasm. It's a delicate line, separating the energy from comedy. It felt like it needed a human voice, not being a monster in the machine."

The play — and the character of NOW — gets a second spin on Feb. 20, when it is staged during the New England Russian Theater Festival. The four-day festival, which boasts 25 Russian-themed one-acts, will also include two full-length productions. Interestingly, the two full-lengths, which dig, TMZ-style, deep into the love lives of the Russian literati, were staged in Newburyport over the past two years — Ludmila Anselm's full-length "Chekhov's Last Love," which was produced last year at the North Shore Readers Theatre Collaborative, and Wendy Lement and Firouzeh Mostashari's "The Woman With the Red Kerchief," which Theater in the Open put on two years ago in Maudslay State Park.

The work was prompted by a Pullins family discussion about whether war is ever justified, with the idealistic "no-never" position being confronted, perhaps overwhelmed, with the grim reality of jackboots on mankind's collective throats, when it's a matter of survival, but it is informed by the work of Kazimiera Cottam, who has written and served as editor of several collections of essays and biographies about the role of Soviet women — as soldiers, partisans and leaders of urban resistance — during World War II, including "Women in War and Resistance: Selected Biographies" and "Defending Leningrad: Women Behind Enemy Lines," a collection of stories detailing the activities of Russian women soldiers in World War II. Focus Publishing, which Pullins owns and operates, brought out four titles by Cottam during the 1990s.

The play takes no overt position on the moral question, focusing, instead, on a bunker-eye view of the issue: As total war grinds the qualities we understand as human into dust, as the world shrinks to surviving the next few minutes, an ordinary shlump in the ditches is elevated into a hero — an ascension caught up in historic fact (and necessity) and, of course, political reality. NOW churns through it all. "The rest," Pullins says, "is just mud and dying.”

Pullins' next production will be "The Dollartorium," which will be get a staged reading May 5 at Whistler in the Dark, at The Factory Theatre in Boston. The play is a loose reinterpretation of Aristophanes' "Clouds," a Greek comedy that took aim at philosophers in general and Socrates in particular, only this time it's our hi-finance corporate cockroaches in the sights — a necessary adjustment, the author says, because "there's no compelling reason to make fun of philosophers any more since they have no impact on American society."

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: The New England Russian Theatre Festival runs Feb. 18 to 21 at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. The festival boasts 25 Russian-themed one-act plays and two full-length productions. It will also include interactive educational workshops in Russian-based acting techniques and playwriting. More than 100 international artists will be participating. Ron Pullin's "Red Star Rising" will be staged Feb. 20 and 21, during the short play series. Tickets for a half-day are $15 for adults, $12 seniors and students. All-day tickets are $25. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will be given to Wide Horizons For Children. For the complete schedule and ticket information, click here.

MORE, MORE, MORE: Check out a video for the Boston Russian Playwright Festival here.

More familiar faces at Russian theater festival

Ron Pullins won't be the only familiar face for local theater-goers who attend the New England Russian Theatre Festival. The four-day festival, which boasts 25 Russian-themed one-acts, will also include two full-length shows that dig, TMZ-style, deep into the love lives of the Russian literati and were staged in Newburyport over the past two years — Ludmila Anselm's full-length "Chekhov's Last Love," staged last year at the North Shore Readers Theatre Collaborative, and Firouzeh Mostashari and Wendy Lement's "The Woman With the Red Kerchief," which Theater in the Open put on two years ago in Maudslay State Park. That's them on the left.

Mostashari and Lement, former educational director of the Newburyport Children’s Theater, look at Leo Tolstoy’s late-in-life obsession with a 23-year-old married woman named Askina who was a serf on the so-called nobleman’s estate and who became pregnant by Tolstoy not long before he tied the knot with his more class-suitable financee Sonya Behrs, but whose son was never acknowledged by the literary big shot and hypocrite as his own. Such things, of course, are not so uncommon. And, if you believe his journals, Tolstoy never saw her again after he married. He just wanted to ... a lot. He returned to the issue of the pretty serf girl in his stories and his journals, touching directly on these events, but the character of the temptress changes over the years. The carefree and coquettish girl in the early stories becomes something of a gold-digger in the later work. Tolstoy later immortalized this John Edwards-like chapter of his life in “The Devil,” which has two endings: In one, the nobleman kills himself. In the other, he kills the girl.

Amselm's piece explores the relationship of Anton Chekhov and his actress wife, Olga Knipper, and the creation of the legendary Moscow Art Theatre. The play takes audiences through the days when Chekhov wrote "Three Sisters" and "The Cherry Orchard," in which Olga was to perform. It is the latest in a series of works about homegrown writers for the Russian-born playwright, who studied at Leningrad State University and worked for two decades as an experimental physicist before beginning her career as a writer. Her “Rehearsal of ‘The Idiot’” deals with the relationships of F.M. Dostoevsky and his first wife, Maria Dmitrievna, a likely model for Natalya Phillipovna, a major character in “The Idiot.” Amelm is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and Boston Playwrights’ Platform. The Chekov play had its first reading at Shadowboxing Theatre Workshop in Boston. It got a second reading just about a year ago at North Shore Readers Collaborative Theater.

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: The New England Russian Theatre Festival runs Feb. 18 to 21 at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. The festival will include interactive, education workshops in Russian-based acting techniques and playwrighting. More than 100 international artists are participating. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will be given to Wide Horizons For Children. For the complete schedule and ticket information, click here. For a peek at the trailer for the festival, click here.

Faigen back with a 'Simple' play. Sort of.

Don’t get tripped up by the irony: Joshua Faigen’s new play, called “A Very Simple Play” is anything but simple. Even the playwright isn’t exactly sure what’s he’s got, as far as form goes. It is not, strictly speaking, a play and it’s not a recital. It’s a performance, he says, in which the music is spoken as words and the words are played as music. It alternates between music and dialogue, with one informing the other, but it’s not musical theater — not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s built around Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbundlertanzes,” a glorious piece by a fabulously insane Romantic composer, written for a group, a society, called the League of David, whose purpose was to defend the cause of Romantic music against the revanchist forces, the classical creeps lurking in the wing — a group whose personnel included, at one point, a guy named Brahms as well as two people (Florestan and Eusebius) who didn’t actually exist, but who had the good sense to manifest the different sides of the composer’s personality. Yeah, it’s always something with this guy.

The Merrimac Street playwright is certainly capable of writing nice, straight-ahead plays, like “Gail Can See for Three Days,” in which a woman facing execution tells her story in an exploration of passion, loneliness and broken taboos. But Faigen seems just as happy sticking his finger in the eye of the conventions of the form, like conventional, linear plots, or even in terms of content. Like his psychologically complex “Docent’s Son,” which tells the story of a museum volunteer trying to come to terms with the death of her son, through the language of an abstract painting. Or ”Home/Office,” in which 14 unorthodox scenes convey the complexity of marriage and work. Or the almost novelistic approach he takes in “Porch/Dusk,” a short about a Marine bereavement specialist whose job it is to deliver terrible, terrible news — a piece that ended up as an old-timey radio play. Or “Sikyatki,” a play about Hopi mythology, of all things — a collaboration with Tim Rubel and Rhode Island Theatre Expansion that ended up being as much a dance piece as play.

In “A Very Simple Play,” Schumann’s ”Davidsbundlertanzes,” which is, at turns, brooding and joyous, simple but beautiful, is performed in its entirety. The music is interwoven with the story of two people whose lives revolve around music, the piano. They talk about the melancholy of the past and the sadness of love, they talk about their lives, but, as in many Faigen plays, a lot of the heavy lifting, the specifics about who they are and what their story is, will be done by the audience. The two characters are connected in a deep and long-term way, although not necessarily happily. They have an intimate knowledge of each other. They may or may not be married. They look and sound like a married couple, with issues — perhaps trust issues. They mention a son. Faigen sees them as middle aged, but “the audience can make up its mind about that, too,” he says. “God forbid I be specific about anything.”

The production will feature Missy Chabot and Sandy Farrier as Man and Woman. Barbara Flocco will be at the keyboard. Sarah Chrestensen will be the page-turner. The pianist and page-turner are not named as characters, have no spoken lines and are not directly addressed by the actors, but their presence, the playwright says, is important to setting the tone of the play. Sherry Bonder directs.

The project “kind of chose me,” says Faigen, after he caught Anton Kuerti at the 2007 Rockport Chamber Music Festival and picked up a 1990 recording of “Davidsbundlertanzes” on the product table. The music “took me over,” he says. “It’s very magnetic. It attracts you, it sucks you in.” And the storyline? That’s not so easy to pin down. “I don’t know where this came from,” he says. He acknowledges that the production will be something of a risk. “In my head, it works perfectly,” he says. “We’ll see how it goes on stage.”

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: North Shore Readers Theatre Collaborative will stage Newburyport playwright Joshua Faigen’s “A Very Simple Play” at 10 a.m. Feb. 13 at the home on Stephen and Deidre Faria. The show features performances by Missy Chabot and Sandy Farrier. Sherry Bonder directs. Barbara Flocco is the pianist and Sarah Chrestensen is the page-turner. The show is free, reservations are recommended. For more information, check out the Actors Studios web or call 978.462.1229.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Clopton's curiouser production of 'Alice'

No, this is not the Alice you grew up with. Or the 10-foot tall one that Grace Slick sang about back in the day, in a lost era so perfectly suited to the absurdity of the story. No, this Alice is someone else entirely — several people, in fact. It’s Alice times three, a little girl falling through the looking glass and being placed under a magnifying glass as she encounters all of herself, all aspects of her curiouser and curiouser self — a new Alice for a new generation. And, equally curiouser, the Stage Three production of “Alice in Wonderglass” will be the first time that Marc Clopton, a virtual institution on the Newburyport theater scene, has ever staged a full-length production of his own work in the city. Ever. Despite the fact that he’s been teaching, directing and writing — even publishing a scene book for actors — for close to two decades here. So, then, what’s the deal, Marc Clopton? Why the big holdup?

He laughs. “I don’t know,” he says. “I got distracted? Life got in the way?”

Fact is, he says, “Alice” is the first full-length play he’s written that he feels passionate enough about to deal with the frustrations and challenges of actually bringing to the stage. And there have been plenty of challenges, beginning with the fact that the play appropriates characters created by another writer, Lewis Carroll, from another world, another time, the late 19th century. Meaning that he’s had to take a classic piece of literature, a staple from our youths, and drag it into modern times, which is always a dangerous thing — something that can irritate people as much as amuse or enlighten them. Then there’s also the fact that it deals with complex psychological and spiritual issues and worldviews, which, if not done with a deft touch, can smother the whole enterprise.

“Wonderglass,” which opens Feb. 11 at the Actors Studio, follows the teenage Alice through the Looking Glass, but the character divides into three characters competing for dominance: Prima, the young girl as defined by her parents, who is locked into their worldview; Secunda, who wants to grow up and change, but is she ready?; and Tertia, the third Alice, a shadow self, who is flatly denied by the other two and who holds all those dark feelings that the others do not want to acknowledge. The role is split among three actresses — Christina Beck, Allegra Larson and Katherine Hall. Anna Smulowitz is co-directing with Clopton, who tapped her, in part, because of her strength working with physical plays. And because, as both acknowledge, because Clopton knew that, as playwright, he might be a little too close to the work and not be able to assess issues that come up in the course of getting the production up and running. “I needed another eye, someone who could look at it critically and make changes,” he says. “Anna doesn’t hold back, she’s someone whose opinion I can trust.”

Yeah, they’ve got history, theatrical and otherwise, going back to the early 1970s, when Smulowitz taught in the theater department of the University of Maryland, and Clopton was one of her students. The campus became a theatrical playground. They worked on many shows together. The collaboration led to marriage. When the curtains closed on the marriage, Clopton headed to the Left Coast, where he studied with Gene Bua in Burbank and taught in Bua’s expanding studio. He also taught for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and in the UCLA Continuing Education Program.

Smulowitz moved to Cambridge and, eventually, Newburyport, where she founded the Newburyport Children’s Theater, which would eventually become Theater in the Open. Clopton moved to the Port City to be closer to his son, Aaron, who is also involved with the current production, working on special effect set painting with Deirdra Corbelle and Ellen Sklar. “It was good then,” Smulowitz says, laughing “... and better now, nearly 40 years later. I know it sounds really schmaltzy, but we really do finish each other’s sentences. It’s a remarkable piece of writing. It looks like a play for children, but the language is beautiful and poetic and musical. It feels like a showcase for something for the future, something bigger. It’s just a great piece.”

Down the rabbit hole
Actually, the concept for “Wonderglass” has been kicking around for a long time, since Clopton’s LA days, where the piece started out as a 10-minute short. He’s used that version through the years as a workout piece for students at the Actors Studio. “I’ve wanted to explore its themes for a long time,” Clopton says. “It kept tugging at me.” Then about three years ago, he took the plunge and started developing and expanding the ideas of the piece, and has gotten “intense about it” over the past year and a half. He rolled it out, with a little trepidation (“It’s risky, personally risky as well as risky as a writer,” he says. “You don’t know how the world is going to respond to it.”) last year at the North Shore Readers Theater Collaborative — just to see how it would fly. The response was strong enough, he felt confident enough to work out the kinks.

It’s a Stage Three production, the last stop before actual, official world premiere — a process that begins with cold readings at Writers and Actors, Ink, and is followed up by North Shore Readers Theater treatment, but it’s a completed work.
The production will take the Tannery theater way beyond its well-defined role as edgy, alt-stage black box. The show is front-loaded with the kinds of bells and whistles from, well, more financially well-endowed theaters, beginning with Gordon Przybyla’s multimedia magic, which will take the audience, as well as Alice, through the looking glass. Barbara Keiter’s set pieces complete the multimedia, multidimensional effects. Dan Hanson created set designs, Shari Wilkinson and Kathy Schenk created the costume designs. In addition to the three Alices, the cast includes Alan Huisman and Danny Gerstein.

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: “Alice in Wonderglass,” a new play by Marc Clopton, will be staged Feb. 11 to 27 at The Actors Studio of Newburyport, Mill #1, Suite #5, at the Tannery. Anna Smulowitz directs. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $15, $13 for seniors and students. For more information, call 978-465-1229 or check out the Web page.