male privilege, female bonds, comedy, music

Shows have started on stages around Cape Cod and our reviewers have seen four of the shows currently running in Wellfleet, Chatham, Brewster and Cotuit. Here’s what they thought of the productions and what you need to know:

“Straight White Men”

By Sue Mellen

Written by: Young Jean Lee, directed by Sasha Bratt, presented by the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

What is it about : It’s Christmas and middle-class, presumably Midwestern Ed (Mark Hofmaier) has managed to convince his three adult sons to stay with him for the holidays. When they get together for the reunion, there are a lot of memories and fights; they are, after all, straight white men. But something else is happening. Matt (Mike Mihm), who has been living with Dad for some time, is depressed. Life hasn’t gone as planned for the high school valedictorian and Harvard graduate, and it’s especially tough given the obvious success of brothers Jake (Andy McCain) and Drew (Carl Howell). How are the guys going to handle this family crisis (if, indeed, it is a crisis)?

See or not? See him for the sometimes moving, sometimes humorous look at what some consider the “endangered species” of the straight white male.

Highlight of the show: Obviously, this show is about relationships. Throughout, the four tenets skillfully play off each other, skillfully expressing every emotion in the book. It would be all too easy for the actors to overplay their hands and get into melodrama, but they and director Bratt resist the temptation and instead take audiences on an often touching tour of that familiar and dangerous territory of a reunion. family (shades of the old Holly Hunter movie “Home for the Holidays”).

Fun fact: The 2018 production of this show at the Hayes Theater on Broadway made the writer the first Asian-American woman to produce a play on the Great White Way.

To note: Not so far behind the scenes, this show is about white male privilege and how it thrives in capitalist society. At first, the boys sing a number about the Ku Klux Klan to the tune of “Oklahoma,” then retrieve a Monopoly-style game called Privilege from the library and — just in case we’re in doubt about the underlying messaging – we learn that as a teenager, Matt had a school for young revolutionaries.

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One more thing : Two people in charge (Eleanor Philips and Freddy Biddle) present the show and, at each stage opening, guide the characters on stage and position them as if they were props. It is a unique and particularly effective device.

If you are going to: 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through June 24 at the Wellfleet Actors Theater, 2357 State Highway (Route 6), Wellfleet; $40 orchestra, $36 senior orchestra, $15 student orchestra, with an additional $2.50 added to each ticket for fees; 508-349-9428, www.what.org.

“Steel Magnolias”

By Carol Panasci

Written by: Robert Harling, presented by Chatham Drama Guild, directed by Anna Marie Johansen

What is it about : Set in the sisterly sanctuary of a beauty salon in a fictional small town in Louisiana, the play explores the strong bonds of female friendship. All five characters grapple with daily life, small and overwhelming problems – and hairstyles, of course. They handle it all with grace, strength and a healthy dose of humor.

To see or not: Although there is less substance in the 1987 play than in the 1989 film, the characters are realistically sketched with humor and pathos. Despite some glitchy production values ​​(intermittent lighting and overly loud music drowning out dialogue), it’s an entertaining evening.

Highlight of the show: The cast of Chatham works well together under Nicholson’s direction: Nicole Gardner as Annelle, Sheila Jamieson as Clairee, Lee LaCroix as M’Lynn, Emily Nyerick as Shelby, Julia Randall as Ouiser, and Kristen Winn as Truvy.

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Fun fact: The work has gone through a number of iterations, including a 2012 TV movie featuring an all-African-American cast.

To note: Harling based her play on her family situation and real life circumstances. Originally conceived as a short story, it turned into a play.

One more thing : Actresses who have starred in this story in one form or another range from Julia Roberts to Marsha Mason to Queen Latifah.

If you are going to: 7:30 p.m. June 9, 11 and 23-25, 4 p.m. June 5 and 12 and 2 p.m. June 25 at Chatham Drama Guild, 134 Crowell Road; Cabaret seating $25, General seating $22, Students $12; 508-945-0510, www.chatdramaguild.org

Left to right, Marcia Wytrwal, Sonia Schonning and Sara Sneed play "Silver Threads: A Musical Tribute to Linda Ronstadt" at the Cape Cod Theater Company/Harwich Junior Theatre.  The show is on view this summer at the Center des arts Cotuit.

“Silver Threads: A Musical Tribute to Linda Ronstadt”

Sue Mellen’s review of the 2021 Cape Cod Theater Company/Harwich JuniorTheatre production which was revived at the Cotuit Center for the Arts

Conceived by : Sonia Schonning and Marcia Wytrwal

What is it about : It’s a musical tour de force through the long and surprisingly diverse career of one of the biggest names in rock music of all time. Cape Town-based singers Wytrwal, Sonia Schonning and Sara Bleything take turns as lead vocalist backed by a four-piece band led by music director Robert Wilder.

Highlight of the show: Bleything perfectly interprets “Poor Wandering One” from “Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan. Ronstadt played Mabel in the classic operetta, in 1980 on Broadway (which earned a Tony Award nomination) and in the 1983 film version.

Fun fact: Ronstadt was born in Tucson, which explains the country/western vibe of some of her songs.

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To note: The extensive song list includes familiar and less familiar Ronstadt numbers including “When Will I Be Loved”, “Different Drum”, “Hurt So Bad” and of course “Desperado”.

One more thing : Ronstadt’s father’s origins were Mexican, which likely contributed to some of his beautifully plaintive Spanish songs. This show includes “Tu Solo Tu” and “Por Un Amor”.

If you are going to: 7:30 p.m. June 1-4, 9-11, 4-27 and 4 p.m. June 5, 12 and 19 at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Falmouth Road (Route 28); $35 with discounts available; https://artsonthecape.org/

The townspeople seem to be in trouble in the cowboy musical "Tumacho" at the Cape Rep Theater in Brewster.

“Tumachō”

By Sue Mellen

Written by: Ethan Lipton, directed by Maura Hanlon, musical direction by Nick Nudler, presented by Cape Rep Theater

What is it about : The few remaining inhabitants of an almost ghost town are terrorized by the evil gunslinger Big Bill Yardley (Ari Lew), who preys on the few warm souls who haven’t abandoned ship. Old bearded Sam (Ian Ryder) predicts that “when the streets are red with blood, the clouds are upside down, and a three-legged coyote roams the streets”, the mighty spirit Tumacho will inhabit a human body. and save him. When all these things happen, Tumacho enters the scene, but who welcomes the visitor and who will save the inhabitants from this new executioner?

To see or not: Let’s go for 90 minutes of happily wacky comedy. The first hint of how wacky this show is going to be is the title – “Tumacho”, pronounced “too macho”. Then there’s the line in the program describing the setting as “an ugly little town”. And of course there’s the opening number, which features singing cacti as the whole company prepares the audience for a trip to a dusty western town that might just be called Goofytown.

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Highlight of the show: The actors work together like a well-oiled machine, through comedic elements such as the “doo doo” discussion between Yardley and Dr. Alonzo (Robert Tucker) and a wonderful scene where Clement Graham Sr. (Nick Nudler) develops an additional pair . weapons for the amusement of local sweetheart Catalina (Holly Erin McCarthy). Thanks to Nudler’s musical direction, this perfect symmetry is especially evident during ensemble song and dance numbers like the opening “One Horse Town”, “We Need a Break” and the closing “Oh, the Saguaro”. .

Fun fact: Journeys through the nearby mountains are represented by simple horse and horse puppets bouncing behind a mini mountain range. (Sounds a little too basic, but it works!)

To note: The rest of the set is attractively simple, with the monotonous feel you’d expect in a small desert town, until a brightly colored poster titled “Hacienda” hints at Catalina’s move to a new dynamic life.

One more thing : The hilarious nuggets throughout are just priceless, like resident Chappy (Jared Hagan) who’s a gourmet chef who dreams of starting a hostage-trading business.

If you are going to: 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday-June 12 at the Cape Rep Indoor Theatre, 3299 Route 6A, Brewster. $35, with group rates and peak student tickets available; 508-896-1888 or www.caperep.org. Mandatory masks.

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