From Rhinoceros to Metamorphoses to Amadeus

Raise the Curtain
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  December 26, 2012

BOTH SIDES NOW Constantine Maroulis in Jekyll & Hyde.

A goofy spoof of King Arthur and his merry men, and an appreciative take on one of the wives of Henry VIII. A challenging adaptation about a novel killer, and a love story of two-faced conflict. Theater this winter runs the gamut.

At Trinity Repertory Company, artistic director Curt Columbus's adaptation of Dostoevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, which premiered 10 years ago, is finally getting on the schedule (January 17-February 24). North of 400 pages in translations, the classic story of rationalized murder and consequential psychological torment has been compressed into 90 minutes of momentum propelled by three characters.

Around the corner, the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA theater program is staging two quirky, funny plays, by turns dark and surreal. In José Rivera's magical realism cautionary tale MARISOL (February 22-March 10), war rages from Brooklyn to Heaven, as God grows demented and mankind bears the consequences. The allegorical RHINOCEROS, by Eugene Ionesco (February 21-March 9), has a man watch his friends turn into lumbering beasts, the consequence of dangerous conformity.

Speaking of such changes, a maddening battle between good and evil is coming to the Providence Performing Arts Center (January 1-6) as the Broadway musical JEKYLL & HYDE hits the stage. (PPAC is also presenting MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET January 15-20, charting the Sun Records success of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley.) An ancient source of such tales is Ovid's 15-volume work on transformation myths, METAMORPHOSES, which is also the name and inspiration for a play by Mary Zimmerman that University of Rhode Island Theatre is putting on (February 21-March 2).

In a prestigious coup, the Gamm is staging the US premiere of Howard Brenton's ANNE BOLEYN (January 17-February 17), commissioned and first presented at the Shakespeare's Globe Theater. Henry VIII's notorious second wife is portrayed not as a sexual schemer but as a witty and confident young woman who takes on the politics of the 16th-century Tudor court.

Leaping ahead two centuries, we get to enjoy Peter Shaffer's AMADEUS (January 18-February 17), as 2nd Story Theatre presents the entertaining exaggeration of the rivalry between Mozart and fellow composer Antonio Salieri. Scholars agree that the professional rival wasn't the antagonistic schemer depicted here, but Salieri is a much more interesting person in the playwright's alternate universe.

Yet another world of disrupted relationships is presented in Donald Margulies's TIME STANDS STILL, at Roger Williams University Theatre (January 25-26). Sarah is a photojournalist who has returned from the Iraq war, injured by a roadside bomb, and James is her foreign correspondent boyfriend, who has to deal with his guilt at having left her there.

The most outrageous of the comedies coming up, no one will disagree, is MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT at Courthouse Centerstage (February 14-March 10), the droll British troupe's musical adaptation of their hilarious film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They retell the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table through their twisted imaginations.

Ratcheting down a few notches from such broad humor, Ocean State Theatre Company is presenting FOOLS, by Neil Simon (January 23-February 10). It's the comical story of schoolteacher Leon Tolchinsky, who falls in love and realizes that the object of his affections, along with the entire town, has been cursed with profound stupidity. He has only 24 hours to cure them, or they will remain fools forever.

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  Topics: Theater , Anne Boleyn, AMADEUS, Jekyll and Hyde,  More more >
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  •   2ND STORY’S MASTERFUL AMADEUS  |  January 29, 2013
    Poor Antonio Salieri. Try as he might to make his compositions sound more Germanic, the Lombardy-born court composer was forever grouped with other Italians in their suspected nefarious cabals.
  •   OCEAN STATE THEATRE COMPANY’S FOOLS  |  January 29, 2013
    Neil Simon's comic fable Fools is getting a talented and chuckle-packed production by Ocean State Theatre Company (through February 10), which might have mildly annoyed the playwright if he knew.
  •   REVIEW: UNCLE JO JO’S PIZZA & PASTA  |  January 22, 2013
    Since there are more Italian restaurants on Federal Hill than potholes on Providence sidestreets, it's easy for newcomers without favorite spots to just go home and order Chinese delivered.
  •   THE GAMM’S MAJESTIC ANNE BOLEYN  |  January 22, 2013
    The Gamm Theatre has pulled off a couple of coups.
  •   TRINITY REP’S CRIME AND PUNISHMENT  |  January 23, 2013
    As voluminous Russian novels go, none could be boiled down to a 90-minute stage adaptation with unsurprising economy as well as Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment , which Trinity Repertory Company is proving with authority and imagination (through February 24).

 See all articles by: BILL RODRIGUEZ