From Hairspray to Street Sounds, Dot talent fills stages across region
A wide range of Dorchester theater artists–many of them from the talent-rich Savin Hill–are in last-minute rehearsals for upcoming performances in both professional and semi-professional local musical shows.
This weekend Lower Mills resident Bill Lowe will be directing and playing the bass trombone and tuba in a revival of Ed Bullins’ “Street Sounds” at Hibernian Hall. Bullins, former Minister of Cultural for the Black Panthers and Northeastern University professor, first staged his “montage of voices” portraying the inner city, “Street Sounds: Dialogues with Black Existence,” at La Mama Experimental Theater Club in Manhattan in 1970.
Now “Street Sounds” has been recast in an entirely fresh production by Lowe, who has made a selection of the monologues with the playwright’s approval. The script will be directed by Lowe and performed by three actors and two dancers, interspersed with Lowe’s original music for a five-piece jazz ensemble – all part of a featured special event during Jazz Week Boston 2013.
The cast includes Radcliffe St. jazz vocalist Fulani Haynes and Uphams Corners Tory Bullock, founder and head writer for ARTiculation. Mattapan’s Ron Mahdi who teaches Ensemble at Berkelee College of Music willing be playing bass in the ensemble.
Three other Dot residents have prominent roles in the soon-to-open Riverside Theatre Works’ revival of the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray from May 10 through May 19 at French’s Opera House in Hyde Park. David Giogrando of Savin Hill has the lead role of Edna, Tracy Turnblad’s mother, the cross-dressing part that got John Travolta top billing in the movie version.
Sheree Dunwell plays one of the Dynamites, a three-woman Supremes-like ensemble who raise the roof with their soulful, virtuosic R&B singing. Kami Smith, a 27-year-old Dorchester actress, who just finished playing the title role in the Lyric Stage Company’s production of “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” choreographed Hairspray’s many dance numbers.
Based on the film by John Waters, with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, Hairspray brings to life the city of Baltimore in 1962 and one girl’s effort to racially integrate a local TV dance show.
Savin Hill’s Phil Tayler co-stars in yet another revival, the Lyric Stage’s version of the Leonard Bernstein musical On the Town (1944). Tayler plays one of three sailors on a 24-leave in New York, New York before they have to ship off to war. His character Chip (played by Frank Sinatra in the film version) falls for the brassy lady cabdriver Hildy. In between roles with other companies, Tayler has appeared with the Lyric in this season’s Stones in His Pockets and last spring’s Avenue Q, his appearance in the latter, winning him the W.I.S.E. Award for Outstanding Performer of the Year.
Finally, fresh off their foray into upscale world of the Huntington Theatre, the Ashmont-based Gold Dust Orphans headed by Ryan Landry are back in their basement venue of the Machine leather bar in the Fenway with their latest salacious spoof; this one not a revival exactly, but a burlesque of the Disney classic. “Pornocchio” has a female star, Savin Hill’s Grace Carney, as the hapless marionette who just wants to become a live boy. In this darker-than-usual satire, Landry camps it up as the transgressive Fox who coerces the naïf into joining a traveling porn show.