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Press Reviews and Articles

Familiar faces in ‘Driving Miss Daisy’

By Gwyn McAllister, MV Times

Those attending a performance of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse’s current production of “Driving Miss Daisy” may recognize one or more of the actors. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Alfred Uhry, directed by the playhouse’s artistic director, MJ Bruder Munafo, features three actors who have previously appeared here a number of times.


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Driving Miss Daisy Still Tells a Timely Tale on Stage

Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy begins with the sound of a shattering collision and moves briskly through 25 years in the life of widow Daisy Werthan and the two men closest to her, son Boolie and chauffeur Hoke. From start to finish, every moment in the play is alive. Thirty years after the show — Mr. Uhry’s first — opened Off-Broadway, with Morgan Freeman originating the role he would play in the Academy Award-winning film, the Vineyard production is already a hit, with local audiences packing the seats at previews.


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Dystopian Daze Delivers Both Humor and Darkness

Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

Actress and Chilmark resident Brooke Adams made an auspicious playwriting debut Monday night at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, with a sold-out staged reading of her new dark comedy Dystopian Daze. Set several years in the future, after a fascist takeover has imposed new laws and fears in the United States, Ms. Adams’s play takes a bitterly comic view of enforced morality as it follows the misadventures of a loving but beleaguered family.


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A fresh look at an old masterpiece

‘Driving Miss Daisy’ opens at the M.V. Playhouse.
By Holly Nadler, MV Times

Most of us were introduced to “Driving Miss Daisy” by the 1989 movie. The film version had a slow box office start, then gained momentum. It vacuumed up 9 Oscar nominations and awards, including winning Best Picture. All at once, it was a must-see movie, with superb acting — Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman (who originated his role off-Broadway), and Dan Aykroyd. Snappy dialogue keeps things lively, while a whole lot of subterranean class tension plays out with every shared glance and offer of tea. MJ Bruder Munafo, artistic director of the playhouse, and director of this final play of the summer season, as always, brings ingenuity to the casting. The youngest character — the exacting Miss Daisy’s put-upon son (Marc Carver) — is 40. Daisy (Bonnie Black) is 72, her chauffeur-to-be (Rob Karma Robinson) not far behind her in age. They spend the next 25 years of the story continuously aging; an acting marvel. Later, when you descend the wide stars of the playhouse and check out the actors’ CVs and photos on an easel in the lobby, you can’t help blurting out, “They’re so young! And hot!” Which is neither here nor there, other than to say their youth reveals hidden skill sets in their acting.


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Monday Night Specials come to an end with ‘Dystopian Daze.’

A new play by actress Brooke Adams will complete the Vineyard Playhouse’s series of Monday Night Special play readings. The dark comedy “Dystopian Daze” deals with a wayward teenage girl and her strained relationship with her parents. The play is set in the near future, where America is a police state and paranoia is a way of life.


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‘Who You See Here’ is a funny, smart, and witty production

Gwyn McAllister, MV Times

Before a single word of dialogue is spoken in the new comedy currently playing at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, audience members will know that they’re about to witness something fun and fast-paced. As the lights go down, the four actors are all seen silently engaging in various activities, the colorful set — full of moving pieces and graphic elements — provides great visuals and the upbeat retro-style music that bridges each scene change is very catchy. And this first impression does not disappoint. “Who You See Here” by Emmy-winning writer Matt Hoverman is a smart, witty, and very funny play that draws its humor from human foibles, modern life, and celebrity gossip culture. A series of coincidences along the way and a blow out of a finale give the play some elements of a farce, but it’s really in the one-liners, delivered with perfect timing by a terrific cast of four, that make this two-act play shine.


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Playwright Larry Mollin creates a play from the song ‘Please Come to Boston’

By Holly Nadler, MV Times

And so it was on a recent Monday evening. Larry Mollin, former television writer and producer — most famously known for his years as executive producer on “Beverly Hills 90210” — and longtime summer resident, in his seasoned, sager years has written a trio of plays, all produced here at the playhouse, and in New York, London, and Los Angeles. Mr. Mollin is back on-Island (he and wife Dee have a house in Vineyard Haven), and he arrives with a fourth stroke of invention: “Please Come to Boston.”


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A Love Triangle Plus One, New Play Is Four Wheeling Farce

By Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

f you already happen to belong to a love triangle encompassing an earnest psychotherapist, an alcoholic ex-standup comic 12-stepping his way to recovery and a sexy but unstable action-movie superstar, then you don’t need to see Who You See Here, the latest production at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. But that would be denial.


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‘Julius Caesar’ is still slaying audiences at the amphitheater

By Holly Nadler, MV Times

Every summer on our Island, the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse stages an Elizabethan classic in this idyllic spot, under the trees and with sounds of chirping birds and squawking geese high overhead. And this summer, for “Julius,” a tale of raging testosterone, the cast is composed 100 percent of women. Playing men. And it works!


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For Jenny Allen, She and Her House ‘Were Sort of in This Together

By Penelope Green, The New York Times

MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass. — Not long after Jenny Allen left New York City to live full-time here, her once-sturdy farmhouse had a nervous breakdown. The pump to the well gave out, the water heater flooded the furnace, the pipes froze and an ancient tree crashed through the roof. It was 2013 and Ms. Allen, the journalist, humor writer and performer, had just separated from Jules Feiffer, the cartoonist and author to whom she had been married for 30 years, when the house began behaving like a kindergartner who had toughed it out all day at school only to have a meltdown at dismissal. You could see its collapse as a proxy for Ms. Allen’s own experience. “It was like the house knew that someone was there to take care of it so it just went …” Ms. Allen paused. “It just went ‘boing’ like a house in a cartoon.”


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Dusty and the Big Bad World Adds Levity to the Culture Wars

By Louisa Hufstader, MV Times

At the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse through July 29, Cusi Cram’s political comedy Dusty and the Big Bad World is a fast-paced and funny take on the culture wars of the last Republican administration, sparing neither the right nor the left as both sides struggle over Dusty’s survival.


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Lend them your ears

By Nicole Galland, MV Times

“Julius Caesar” is possibly Shakespeare’s most male-dominated work. There are only two female characters, wives who appear in brief supporting roles. All other characters are warriors or politicians, in a society where women could be neither. In this production, the entire cast is made up of women.


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‘Dusty and the Big Bad World’ opens the Vineyard Playhouse season with a bang!

By Holly Nadler, Martha's Vineyard Times

Inspired by the conservative outcry after a popular children’s television show spotlighted a family with two mothers, playwright Cusi Cram’s biting comedy Dusty and the Big Bad World lost its topical hook on the eve of its first production in January 2009. “It opened four days after Obama was inaugurated and it seemed like old news, pulling funding from public television and censoring children’s shows,” said MJ Bruder Munafo, artistic and executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, who is directing Dusty and the Big Bad World in its second-ever public run.


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Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse Opens With Timely Tale

By Louisa Hufstader, The Vineyard Gazette

Inspired by the conservative outcry after a popular children’s television show spotlighted a family with two mothers, playwright Cusi Cram’s biting comedy Dusty and the Big Bad World lost its topical hook on the eve of its first production in January 2009. “It opened four days after Obama was inaugurated and it seemed like old news, pulling funding from public television and censoring children’s shows,” said MJ Bruder Munafo, artistic and executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, who is directing Dusty and the Big Bad World in its second-ever public run.


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Science confronts politics in ‘Gene Play’

By Brittany Bowker, Martha's Vineyard Times

The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse was filled to capacity last Monday night for the reading of Gene Play, written by Jonah Lipsky and Casey Ann Hayward. The performance was part of the theater’s weekly Monday Night Specials, showcasing new work from budding and seasoned playwrights for a one-night-only performance.


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Gene Play Opens Monday Night Specials

Vineyard Gazette

As the title suggests, the play is about genetic engineering, tracking the growth of this science through time, along with the factors controlling it. Act One takes place in 1976 and Act Two occurs in the present day.


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Monday Night Specials opens with a comedy, Gwyn McAllister’s ‘The Green Rose’

Vineyard Gazette

The series begins with a comedy by Gwyn McAllister, directed by MJ Bruder Munafo, and featuring a cast of seven actors. Ms. McAllister is a longtime resident and frequent contributor to the Times; she now splits her time between Oak Bluffs and New York City. She is a journalist, humorist, and playwright who has previously had her work produced as readings on the Vineyard and in New York City.


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Artist Anne Cook at the M.V. Playhouse

MV Times

Island-born artist Anne Cook will showcase her work at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse Art Space until Thursday, June 8. Her exhibit, “Color in Motion; Darkness in Action” depicts Vineyard landscapes and cartoons from Dante’s “Inferno.” This unique series features pastel paintings of tranquil up-Island scenes, in tandem with mixed-media and collage works on paper.


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Been There, Still There at the Playhouse

Vineyard Gazette

Second City Main Stage alums Bruce Jarchow and Nancy McCabe-Kelly are bringing their show, Been There, Still There, to the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse for a one night only performance on Saturday, May 6, beginning at 7:30 p.m.


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Cultural Council Announces 2017 Grants

Martha's Vineyard Gazette

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James Langlois in (Mostly) Black and White

Louisa Hufstader, Martha's Vineyard Gazette

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Tom Mullins’ Art Knows No Bounds

Solo show at the Playhouse Art Space features acrylics and collage.
By Gwyn McAllister, Martha's Vineyard Times

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Shakespeare for the Masses Presents Romeo and Juliet

Patricia Neal Stage
Quick & Painless & and Free.
Martha's Vineyard Gazette

For its final show of the season, Shakespeare for the Masses is presenting fan favorite Romeo and Juliet, but with a twist. In the theatrical world, everyone wants the coveted role of Juliet, but of course only one person per show gets this gem. Until now that is. Shakespeare for the Masses is known for putting new spins on the mighty English bard, including slicing and dicing his plays down to a manageable hour.


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Romeo and Juliet, Juliet, Juliet, Juliet

By Gwyn McCallister, MV Times

Which four art thou Juliet? That’s the question audiences will be confronted by in the upcoming production of “Romeo and Juliet” by the popular Shakespeare for the Masses group. It’s every actress’ dream to play Juliet, according to S for the M co-founder and writer Chelsea McCarthy. To accommodate that ambition, Ms. McCarthy and her co-writer Nicole Galland have opted to cast four of the five actors participating in the upcoming production in the coveted role. As a matter of fact, those four will interchange in all of the roles, except for Romeo. “It’s basically going to be like Boggle, where you shake them up and see where they land,” says Ms. McCarthy, who promises that the role changes will be done in such a way that the audience can easily follow the action.


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A musical escape through ‘Reconciliation: Songs of Peace and Protest’

by Gwyn McAllister, MV Times

Looking for a late winter pick-me-up? Or a positive way to relieve some current-events-related anxiety? Visit the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse on Friday, March 17, for an evening of uplifting music in a program called “Reconciliation: Songs of Peace and Protest,” to be performed by a trio of students and alumni from the Berklee College of Music.

The culturally diverse group will draw on their various backgrounds for the song selections. The trio was brought together by Jason Sibi Okumu who, last year, came to the Vineyard to perform at the playhouse as part of Berklee’s African Club. This time around he has invited two fellow Berklee-ites along. Mr. Okumu is from Kenya. He will be joined by Israeli-born Sagit Zilberman, who will sing and play a variety of instruments, and harpist and vocalist Allegra Cramer from the U.S.


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Patricia Neal Film Series Honors Big Star With Small Town Humility

By Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

When Patricia Neal attended events at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse she always sat in the front row and made a point of speaking to the cast members after the show. It’s not every day an Oscar and Tony award winning actress chats with cast and crew of a local theatre group, but Patricia Neal was not an ordinary actress. The very opposite of a cloistered celebrity, Ms. Neal was known on the Vineyard for her friendly manner around town, chatting with children on the street, eating at the Edgartown diner, and graciously accepting recognition from fans.


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King John for the Masses, a Populist Affair

The folks at Shakespeare for the Masses often perform King John before important elections. Even though it depicts a monarchy from a long time ago, the play has many parallels to a the drama of modern day elections. The drive for power, the gray area of who should really be crowned, plus the backstabbing (literal and metaphorical of course), theft, mayhem most foul — it’s just another day on the stump for most politicians today.


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Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse honors Patricia Neal with film series

During the month of January, the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse will hold a film series to honor one of its longtime supporters, actress Patricia Neal. “Her birthday is Jan. 20,” playhouse artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo said. “We thought this was a good time to pay homage to a great friend.” The films will be shown at the playhouse’s intimate theater, whose stage is named for the actress.


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Warming Up Winter With Acoustic Carols

Patricia Neal Stage
By Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

A holiday-themed, all-female acoustic music group that plays to sold-out mainland audiences every December is making its Island debut Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony features a blend of strings, vocals and glockenspiels in an expansively eclectic program of Christmas carols, holiday standards, winter-themed originals and unexpected cover tunes like In the Cold, Cold Night by The White Stripes.


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Monday Night Movies, and more, return to the Vineyard Playhouse

By Gwyn McAllister, Martha's Vineyard Times

There’s a lot going on at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse these days. While the summer season of theater ended on Oct. 8, the playhouse is once again keeping its doors open all winter with a variety of programming. According to artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo, “Our motto is: Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, where the off-season is the on-season!”


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