Month: October 2014

The Curtain Report: Oct. 25th-Oct. 31st

What to See in Boston this Week
By Jake Smerechniak

We’re already finishing up the month of October and it’s flying by! Concluding this coming week is Halloween, but be sure to catch at least some of the amazing theatre Boston has to offer before you go into scare-mode. Take advantage of your last chance to see some of these amazing performances that are closing next weekend, or if you aren’t a big Halloween fan and would prefer to treat yourself rather than trick others, go ahead and see a show that’s opening on Halloween night! 

10/30 – 11/22 Chosen Child @ Boston Playwrights’ Theatre

On October 30th, the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre will be bringing you their production of Chosen Child, a touching play surrounding the elements that make up a family. Following the story of three generations of mothers and memories and a schizophrenic man, this performance is guaranteed to make you question the most important aspects of a tightly-bound family. Familial relationships are explored and expanded upon. Don’t miss this heart-jerker before it closes the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

10/31 – 11/9 Blue Window @ Brown Box Theatre Project

Looking for a touch of comedy? This show explores the relationships among vastly different symbolic characters at a dinner party while utilizing “comic irony,” as the site states.

10/23 – 11/1 Language of the Angels @ Happy Medium Theatre

Follow the story of what happens when a girl goes missing and her nine friends are left with nothing but guilt and ghostly cries. Closing in a week!

10/22 – 10/26 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum @ Boston College Theatre Department

Sondheim’s classic farce has come to Boston College. Don’t miss this hilarious musical! It closes this Sunday at 2pm.—2015-season/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-the-forum.html

10/28 – 11/2 Mamma Mia! @ Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre

Mama Mia advertisment

Lexus Broadway in Boston presents the unforgettably smash hit musical “Mamma Mia!” Opening Monday and located right in the heart of the Emerson College campus, this is a must-see.
For tickets:

History’s Famous Pen Pals

When’s the last time you received an actual letter in the mail? Were you flipping through your bills and came across a hand-addressed envelope? Did your heart skip a beat? Was it a love letter? A continuation of your mom’s adamant refusal to use email or texting? Your 20 year old college kid using a deceivingly sweet method to ask for another $50 in his or her checking account? Or maybe you haven’t gotten one in years. But still, the thought of getting one probably brings a nostalgic smile to your face. 

Robert Lowell & Elizabeth Bishop walking on the beach

Robert Lowell & Elizabeth Bishop corresponded for 30 years

Up until the 19th century, letters were just about the only means of communicating with people aside from face to face contact, but that didn’t make them any less meaningful. Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell weren’t the first or last famous duo to have an equally famous correspondence. Some others are romantic. Some are fraught with unrequited adoration. Others still show mentorship, or simple yet powerful friendship. All demonstrate the powerful bond that the written word can create between two people, especially in the form of letters.

1. Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot

Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot

One of the most interesting and unexpected pair of famous pen pals is Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot. Their correspondence lasted three years, beginning in 1961 and ending 1964, not long before Eliot’s death. The two men began their exchange out of a mutual respect for one another’s work. Despite their contrasting personalities and some accusations of Eliot’s anti-semitism, the two men played well off each other. Eliot was a conservative and respectful man, and Marx loved to riff on this. Marx would try to offend Eliot by writing things such as, “I would be interested in reading your views on sex, so don’t hesitate. Confide in me, Tom,” and “Why you haven’t been offered the lead in some sexy movies I can only attribute to the basic stupidity of the casting directors.” The two men eventually met in person for the first time in 1964 when they sat down for dinner with their wives at the Eliot home. Apparently they lost contact not long after this, but Marx would later state he’d learned at the dinner that he had three things in common with Eliot: “(1) an affection for good cigars and (2) cats; and (3) a weakness for making puns.”Those sound like the three ingredients to any great friendship. 

2. Ronald and Nancy Reagan

Ronald and Nancy Reagan kissing over a cake

Far more well known and far more romantic were the letters that Ronald Reagan wrote to his beloved wife Nancy throughout their courtship and marriage―a span of over 48 years. Their relationship has been referred to as “probably the greatest love affair in the history of the American Presidency.” Some even thought it too good to be true, a relationship embellished to satisfy the public, but all you have to do is read just one of Reagan’s letters to Nancy and in order to know that their love was pure and legitimate. Reagan’s words were elegant, earnest, and sincere. In return for these letters, Nancy would leave notes around the house for him to find when she had to be away from him. In 2002, Nancy Reagan released a book called I Love You, Ronnie, which compiles Ronald’s letters to her as well as her reflections on the letters, their relationship, Ronald, and their life together. Men, take notes. 

3. Tony Danza and Tupac Shakur

 Tony Danza and Tupac Shakur

Even more unprecedented than the exchange between Marx and Eliot was the correspondence and friendship of actor Tony Danza and rapper Tupac Shakur. In 1995, Shakur was in prison, and Danza, upon listening intently to his song “Dear Mama,” felt compelled to conctact him. Danza wrote, “considering the situation you find yourself in, and considering the juxtaposition of the song [‘Dear Mama’] that reaches people like that, maybe there’s another way. I understand that the business you’re in is not—you can’t be a goody-two shoes in this business, but maybe there’s a way to inspire youth instead of—you know. Maybe there’s a way that you can use this talent of yours to inspire our youth, because they need somebody.”Basically, Danza wanted Tupac to stop with the illegal funny business and embrace the role he played in the lives of so many young people. Tupac’s response? Something along the lines of “thanks for understanding me.” The two wrote back and forth a few more times, and ended up meeting at a premiere after Tupac’s release and before his death. Danza had made an impact on Shakur, by reaching out to him in the form of written word. It’s amazing what a couple of letters can do.

Dear Elizabeth poster

The lives of the rich and famous have always been compelling, and unexpected treasures from their lives add to their novelty. Dear Elizabeth treats poetry lovers, Bishop and Lowell fans, theatre enthusiasts, and the general public alike to an inside look at one of the most beautifully written and heartfelt real-life friendships. Bishop and Lowell’s story is captivating and all the more powerful as it was upheld through a now out-of-date means of communication.Come see their words brought to life at the Lyric Stage Company’s presentation of Dear Elizabeth, October 17th through November 9th, 2014

Elizabeth Bishop paints!

Elizabeth Bishop was more than just a poet. She was a wonderful friend. An ardent lover. A remarkable teacher. An extensive traveler. And a talented…painter? Yes! 

A painting of pansies by Elizabeth Bishop with a gingham table cloth and books

“Pansies” by Elizabeth Bishop

Renowned poet Elizabeth Bishop was skilled in more than just her evocative way with words. She has even been noted for saying she would have preferred to be a painter than a poet: ‘“How I wish I’d been a painter,” she once wrote, “that must really be the best profession—none of this fiddling with words.”’

A painting of the town of Merida by Elizabeth Bishop

“Mérida from the Roof” by Elizabeth Bishop

She had an eye for detail, humor, and the beauty of the simplest things. Her pieces often featured flowers and bouquets, and her color schemes tended towards browns, with vibrant colors such as red or yellow shining through here and there.

A painting of a woman by Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth’s work was often a commentary on what was going on around her, especially during the fifteen years she spent in Brazil, when politics were uneasy and, sadly, infant mortality rates were high. Bishop’s “Tombstone for Sale” features white tombstones with the words for sale inscribed on them, chills to the bone, and her “box” called “Anjinhos” displays an abandoned sandal amongst a collection of cut-out angelic children’s faces, is even more haunting. 

Several galleries have jumped at the opportunity to display her artwork, but most notable was “Objects and Apparitions” at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York City, December 2011-January 2012, which paired her work with San Franciscan painter Jess. The Tibor de Nagy Gallery had previously debuted Bishop’s work in 1996. 

A painting of a tree, barn, and cemetery  by Elizabeth Bishop
A collage of women, flowers, seashells, and a shoe by Elizabeth Bishop

Bishop’s artwork is also displayed in the 2012 book Objects and Apparitions, a companion to the Tibor de Nagy’s exhibition of her work. It compiles several pieces of her art and poetry, as well as photographs from Elizabeth’s life, and essays by three Elizabeth Bishop scholars who authored the book. 

Elizabeth Bishop’s life and history are constantly emerging and fascinating fans and newcomers alike to her work.. Her poems, paintings, and correspondences are continuously inspiring to those whose paths they cross, and Dear Elizabeth is another recent yet deeply profound manifestation of this. Bishop’s writings and artwork allow us to see the world through her eyes, and gain insight on the life led by this incredible woman. 

Dear Elizabeth, based on Elizabeth Bishop’s 30-year correspondence with poet Robert Lowell, is onstage at The Lyric Stage Company until Nov. 9th 2014.

Laura Latreille as Elizabeth Bishop in Dear Elizabeth sitting at a desk

Laura Latreille as Elizabeth Bishop in Dear Elizabeth by Sarah Ruhl

The Backstage Kitchen: NOT the Worst Pies in London

The BAckstage Kitchen

The Backstage Kitchen: NOT the Worst Pies in London
By Jessica Austin, Artistic Assistant

If you saw our production of Sweeney Todd and you’re anything like me, you left the theater distinctly more curious about what exactly goes into those famous meat pies. And a bit more hungry, too (don’t judge!).

Alemila Broome and christopher CHew in Sweeney Todd

This definitely isn’t a recipe for the Worst Pies in London – or a recipe with a decidedly sinister list of ingredients – but if you’re looking to make delicious meat pies this autumn and into the holiday season, we have just the thing! Adding warm spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon into this beef and brandy mincemeat is sure to heat up the whole house as Boston begins its lunge into winter.

A meat pie that looks yummy

Meat Pie Recipemakes two 9-inch meat pies
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 pastries for nine-inch two-crust pies (simple recipe here, or store-bought can be used)1½ cups cooked beef or venison (no people!), diced
4 cups apples, chopped1½ cups raisins¼ cup sweet pickle juice¼ cup pineapple or apricot juice1 large orange, peeled, sectioned, cut into bite-size½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon ground cloves1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon ground nutmeg1½ cups white sugar½ cup molasses or sorghum1 cup beef brothBrandy to taste

Thoroughly combine the beef, apples, raisins, sweet pickle juice, pineapple juice, orange pieces, salt, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, molasses, and beef broth in a sealable container. Let the mincemeat mixture sit in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. This can be frozen for up to 6 months to be used later.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a layer of pastry dough along the bottom of two nine-inch pie pans. Divide mincemeat between the two pies and add brandy to taste. Cover each pie with a second layer of pastry dough, fluting the edges with a fork and cutting two-inch slits in the center for steam to escape. If you so choose, you can brush the edges with egg wash and dust with sugar.
Place in oven and bake until the crust is golden and the edges are lightly browned.
Hopefully with a recipe like this, the chilly winter months here in New England will be a bit more bearable. But don’t get any ideas from the Demon Barber of Fleet Street–no people are to be harmed in the makings of these pies!
Did you try the recipe? Comment below!

The Curtain Report: What to see in Boston NOW

The Curtain Report

What to see in Boston NOW
by Jake Smerechniak, Artistic Assistant

October is rushing by us here in the Lyric Stage offices as we lay Sweeney Todd to rest and prepare to open Dear Elizabeth on October 17th. The autumn chill has set in but don’t worry, the Boston arts scene is generating heat this coming week. With a Shakespeare classic, a circus extravaganza and more, there’s no excuse to stay huddled under a blanket. Many shows have already begun this October and this upcoming week will be perfect for catching them before they close. Be sure not to miss college theatre too, as many schools have kicked off their Fall seasons with knock-out productions. Put on your scarf and get out there!

10/17-11/9Dear Elizabeth @ The Lyric Stage Company
Told through the extensive and imaginative correspondence between two of the 20th century’s most important and celebrated American poets — Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell — Dear Elizabeth is a different kind of love story, of artists and friends. Bishop and Lowell’s thirty-five-year friendship served to buoy each other up in life and art, each being profoundly impacted by the other. Celebrated playwright Sarah Ruhl weaves a lyrical, moving portrait of a friendship between two writers that transcends oceans, continents, and time.
Tickets and more about Dear Elizabeth

Assassins @ New Repertory Theatre
The musical compilation of history’s most infamous assassins, by the one and only Stephen Sondheim, is at the New Rep. Theatre this month.
Tickets and more about Assassins

10/10 – 10/26
Far Reaches @ The Sanctuary Theatre
If you enjoy dance, be sure to catch Far Reaches, a concert of original ballads with a world premiere.
Tickets and more about Far Reaches

10/15 – 10/23
King Lear @ ArtsEmerson

Cast of King Lear

Bringing eye-opening Shakespeare to Boston once again is ArtsEmerson with London’s renowned Shakespeare’s Globe. King Lear, a tale of redemption, realization, and the restraints of man, opens on Wednesday, October 15th at Emerson’s Paramount Center Mainstage and runs through October 23rd. Being one of Shakespeare’s prime tragedies, King Lear is sure to be just as successful as Hamlet was when it was done two seasons ago at ArtsEmerson, also through Shakespeare’s Globe. Starring Joseph Marcel, this production is most certainly a show that you will not want to miss, especially if you have a special place in your heart for Shakespeare.
Tickets and more about King Lear

10/2 – 10/12
Traces @ ArtsEmerson
Don’t miss the final weekend to see this acrobatic extravaganza, ArtsEmerson’s powerful, movement-based season opener.
Tickets and more about Traces

37th Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert @ Blackman Theatre @ Northeastern University
This concert is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” with collaboration between FJCMC and Northeastern’s Center for the Arts.
Tickets and more about John Coltrane Memorial Concert

We hope you take advantage of the endless productions and cultural events going on in Boston this month. Many shows close this coming week so be sure to grab your tickets if something interests you. Be on the lookout for the Curtain Report update every Friday, with exciting facts and upcoming information about shows about arts in Boston. Enjoy the show!

Dear Elizabeth Actors–Transformed!

Laura Latreille and Ed Hoopman sitting at a desk

Look closely at this photo from our upcoming production of Dear Elizabeth.  Have you seen these actors before?

This isn’t the first time Ed or Laura have transformed themselves on The Lyric’s stage! Check out their past performances and count how many you guessed correctly!

Laura Latreille and Ed Hoopman (pictured from left to right) star as famous Boston poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop in a remarkable play about their 30-year friendship that kept them both afloat during tumultuous love affairs, personal tragedies and the creation of great works of art.

Ed Hoopman as Capt. Jeffrey T. Spaulding in Animal Crackers
Ed Hoopman as Capt. Jeffrey T. Spaulding (Groucho Marx) with Leigh Barrett in Animal Crackers (2010-2011 Season).
Laura Latreille as Sarah Goodwin with Barlow Adamson in Time Stands Still
Laura Latreille as Sarah Goodwin with Barlow Adamson in Time Stands Still
Laura Latreille as Sarah Goodwin with Barlow Adamson in Time Stands Still (2011-2012 Season).
Laura Latreille as Sarah Goodwin with Barlow Adamson in Time Stands Still
Laura Latreille as Roxanne with Kelby T. Akin, Christopher James Webb in The Understudy (2010-2011 Season).
Dear Elizabeth Poster

Dear Elizabeth runs October 17th through November 9th at The Lyric Stage Company of Boston. 

Tickets are available now online: or through our Box Office: 617-585-5678.  

“[An] articulate, imaginative, and moving theatrical experience.” – New Haven Register

“Heartfelt, elegant, and even playful.” – Hartford Courant

Backstage Kitchen: Blood from Sweeney Todd

The BAckstage Kitchen
Sweeney Todd shaving someone

by Shanna Tedeschi, Management Associate

While sitting in your seat at Sweeney Todd, did you overhear murmurs and mumbling about BLOOD? It’s one of the biggest questions people have after seeing the show performed on our stage. 

Is it pigs blood? 
Water dyed with red food coloring? 
Cherry pie filling? 

None of the above. This inaugural posting of The Backstage Kitchen will reveal our secret recipe for entertaining, easy-to-wash and tasty blood fit for a demon barber (and just in time for Halloween!). 

Blood splatter

Recipe #1: Blood from Sweeney Todd

There are two ways to make this recipe. The basic instructions are for a very fluid, syrup-y blood, good for blood that needs to run through tubes and/or make puddles.

If the blood needs to be applied to skin, use 4-times the dry ingredients and reduce the mixture on Medium Low heat until it looks like grandma’s-too-thick-to-eat-gravy. Keep in mind, all blood mixtures will be a bit thicker when they cool.


2 liters Corn Syrup
500mL Chocolate Syrup
2 cups Water (1 cup cold, 1 cup hot tap water)
2 tbsp (heaping) Corn Starch
3 tbsp (heaping) Coffee Mate
15 mL Red Food Coloring
3 mL Yellow Food Coloring


1. On stovetop, mix corn syrup and chocolate syrup together in large pot on high heat.
2. In a separate bowl, dissolve corn starch in cold water. Add to pot.
3. In a separate bowl, dissolve Coffee Mate in hot tap water. Add to pot.
4. Bring entire mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
5. When mixture has reached your desired consistency, remove from heat and mix in red food coloring to your preferred blood shade.
6. When cooled, it can be stored in containers in the fridge for weeks at a time.
Makes approximately 3 Liters of blood…and is great on ice cream!

Want to see the Sweeney Todd blood in action? 

Watch our Behind the Scenes video and don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube!

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