Reviews & Photos

Twelfth Night Actors’ Shakespeare Project & Lyric Stage Company Co-production April 2019

Bobbie Steinbach swaggers about in red-velvet boots with a matching vest as the brazen Sir Toby Belch. She thrills the audience with her raunchy portrayal. We all have that one embarrassing uncle, and Steinbach captured him impeccably. Rosalind Bevan WBUR  

…the positively hilarious Bobbie Steinbach as Sir Toby Belch, swing(s) for the fences scoring homers. We devoured every delicious raunchy pratfall by this magnificent and brilliant performer. OMG what fun! Charles Giuliano Berkshire Fine Arts  

Ms Steinbach reminded me a bit of the Penguin from the Batman series. As usual, she is a presence on the stage but never at the expense of her fellow players. Bobby Franklin Boxing Over Broadway 

Steinbach’s Toby is a big and brassy ruffian, complete with pencil mustache and an ample gut…Josh Garstka Talkin’ Broadway 

As Sir Toby, Steinbach is a true vaudevillian drunk, but never too soused to lose the sense of the action…Iris Fanger Wicked Local 

1776 New Repertory Theatre Winter 2018

There’s an overabundance of dirty-old-man humor that’s thankfully balanced by adding female actors to the company. Bobbie Steinbach, for one, brings a caustic wit to her portrayal of the sage Benjamin Franklin, while underplaying his more lecherous tendencies. Josh Garstka Talkin’ Broadway

Steinbach is clearly having a ball as the ornery Franklin. Erik Nikander The Arts Fuse

Several key players are acted by women, including the bawdier-than-you-expected Benjamin Franklin (played by the delightful Bobbie Steinbach… Deanna Dement Myers Theatre Mirror

Franklin (played deftly and impishly by Bobbie Steinbach)…Jillian Kravatz Dig Boston

Benjamin Franklin, played by the wonderfully witty Bobbie Steinbach… Ivy Li The Tech

Richard III  Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Summer 2018

It is the women of “Richard III’’ who denounce him most fiercely, and several actresses virtually singe the air with invective, including Bobbie Steinbach as old Queen Margaret, a font of inventive and harrowing curses… Don Aucoin Boston Globe

Bobbie Steinbach as Queen Margaret, widow of Henry VI, commands the stage and delivers an epochal tirade against Richard as only she can. Rick Fahey Boston on Stage

Bobbie Steinbach is fierce and resonant as the exiled Queen Margaret.  Erik Nikander Arts Fuse

I loved Queen Margaret, thought she was great.  Just this kind of crazy old lady who’s all, “Yup, I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I’m old and I don’t care, I’m going to say whatever I want to say to whoever I want.”  -) Duane Shakespeare Geek

Calendar Girls Greater Boston Stage Company Spring 2018

…as the relentless Jessie, Steinbach is blunt and hilarious. Eric Nikander The Arts Fuse June 2018

Steinbach is a master of comic timing as the wryly cynical Jessie. Iris Fanger Theatermania June 2018

Golda’s Balcony New Repertory Theatre April 2017

-Steinbach commands your attention throughout “Golda’s Balcony.’’ Her Meir is a portrait in steel forged by fire, yet entirely human, too, brutally honest about her own failings and about the personal toll taken by her responsibilities as a stateswoman and her devotion to the state of Israel. Steinbach is most compelling when Meir is wrestling with the moral and ethical dilemma she confronts during the Yom Kippur War, especially after she puts Israel on nuclear alert. That step, she knew, could spell catastrophe and even spiral into a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. “What happens when idealism becomes power? It kills,’’ she says. “To save a world you create — and this is the terrible question — how many worlds are you entitled to destroy?’’  Boston Globe Don Aucoin

-Whatever your feelings are about Golda Meir, Bobbie Steinbach’s performance is not to be missed. …this is really an amazing performance. Steinbach not only portrays Meir, but a host of politicians – Moshe Dayan, Kissinger, Peres, among others – with voices so distinct that one can tell who is who just by the accent and inflection. But Steinbach smokes, paces, cracks the occasional joke, and occasionally makes us weep.  She doesn’t play Golda Meir, she is Golda Meir. And this, theatergoing friends, is what makes theater art. Theater Mirror Michele Markarian

-Steinbach is nothing if not in control of the character and her surroundings. A small-size woman wrapped in a period dress and smoking countless cigarettes, she inhabits the square figure of Meir with authority, intelligence, and passion during the 100-minute monologue. Iris Fanger Theatermania

-Steinbach, a longtime favorite of local stages who was delightful earlier this season at New Rep in the role of the matchmaker in “Fiddler on the Roof,” is in full command of this role. Her Golda is a tough, no-nonsense type who projects determination sprinkled only occasionally with despair. Jeremy Goodwin WBUR The Artery

-Bobbie Steinbach’s resume as an actress needs no burnishing but here she adds a studied, skilled, and measured portrayal of Meir to go along with her recent turn as Yentl in “Fiddler on the Roof” at the New Rep and other fine efforts in musicals such as “Sunday in the Park with George” and “A Little Night Music.” Rick Fahey On Boston Stages

-If ever there was an actor suited for a role it is Bobbie Steinbach as Golda Meir. She is outstanding from start to finish, moving about the stage telling the story and recreating conversations. To say this is a riveting performance would not be an overstatement.Golda’s Balcony with Ms, Steinbach has everything you could want in an evening of theatre. A fine actor playing an amazing woman whose historical significance is not to be overlooked. The pain, the tears, the laughter, and conflict that comes when, as Ms Meir asks “What happens when idealism becomes power?”It is a story that should be heard by all, and you won’t find a better telling of it than the one now playing at the New Rep. Don’t miss Bobbie Steinbach in Golda’s Balcony. Boxing over Broadway Bobby Franklin

-Bobbie Steinbach brings incredible energy, warmth and depth to this complicated woman. The audience watch riveted as Golda transforms from an idealistic young woman trying to save the world, to a tyrannous leader prepared to destroy it. Gibson’s script provides a very one-sided but detailed history of Israel in the 20th century. Steinbach is masterful in her storytelling as she brings to life Meir’s memory of the important people not only in her own story, but also in Israel’s. Her comic re-enactment of some of her family members infuses the script with much needed moments of light relief.  NE Theatre Geek Polly Goss

-The versatile Steinbach – last seen at the New Rep as Yente the matchmaker in the sold-out December run of “Fiddler on the Roof” – blends world-weary exhaustion with firebrand ferocity to bring the always strategizing stateswoman vividly to life. Not long after quietly sharing, “I am at the end of my stories,” Steinbach sheds Meir’s chenille robe to take us back to a time when she was feverishly fielding phone calls in an effort to settle her country’s rapidly escalating conflict with Egypt. Under Judy Braha’s taut direction, Steinbach moves with skillful aplomb between the heavier themes – supported by everything from cawing birds to rapid-fire artillery in David Wilson’s mood-setting sound design – and the play’s lighter moments. R Scott Reedy Daily News

-Seldom has a standing ovation been more richly deserved or more hard-earned than the one that greeted Bobbie Steinbach at the end of last evening’s performance of William Gibson’s powerful play, “Golda’s Balcony.” For 95 minutes, Golda Meir paced the levels of Jiyoung Han’s minimal multi-level set, telling her story, chain smoking cigarettes as she ruminated on her remarkable life and career. The program claims that it was Bobbie Steinbach, but she so fully embodied the former Israel Prime Minister that it felt as if Meir had returned from beyond the grave. The irrepressible and multi-talented Steinbach delivered a tour de forceperformance that illuminated the manifold message that the playwright sought to engender using the life of Mrs. Meir as a case study in the costs of leadership, passion and the cost of turning idealism into power. Al Chase The White Rhino Report

-In this demanding solo performance, Bobbie Steinbach is just out of this world. Steinbach, a seasoned actor who has performed many Shakespearean roles, artfully combines the elements that go into making Golda Meir’s character persuasive. Golda is at once down-to-earth and warm, and, as she herself acknowledges in the script, a strong and determined leader. Steinbach captures it all, conveying Meir’s considerable vulnerability and enormous self-possession. It is truly a remarkable performance. Boston Arts Diary

Best of Boston, Boston Magazine August 2012

A veteran of Boston’s theater scene, Steinbach exhibits astonishing versatility — and this year was one of her best yet. As a founding member of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, she played not one but two ancient kings: Nestor and Priam, in Troilus and Cressida. Then, when the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre staged Deported/a dream play, Steinbach excelled as an Armenian-genocide survivor. But her biggest triumph was in the New Repertory Theatre’s Collected Stories, by Donald Margulies. That performance as an aging author betrayed by her protégé won her the Independent Reviewers of New England’s best actress award.

A Little Night Music HTC 9-15 128 A Little Night Music, Music by Steven Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler Directed by Peter DuBois at Huntington Theatre Company 9/10/15 Scenic Design: Derek McLane Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter Costume Design: Robert Morgan © T Charles Erickson Photography

Madame Armfeldt Liaisons

A Little Night Music Huntington Theatre Company Fall 2015

Bobbie Steinbach, is given a chance to shine in “Night Music,’’ and she takes it. As the imperious Madame Armfeldt, a former courtesan and Desiree’s mother, Steinbach is a delight, from start (when she tells a male servant that it’s “Time for my nap’’ in a voice dripping with insinuation) to finish.  Don Aucoin Boston Globe

Bobbie Steinbach has been one of the most engaging actors in Boston, mostly in straight plays, for decades. Her comic timing is also impeccable as the wise and witty Madame Armfeldt, but she handles the tricky Sondheim textures of “Liaisons” gracefully and mellifluously. Ed Siegal WBUR

Steinbach owns the stage in her near scene-stealing turn as the tart-tongued matriarch who has seen (and done) it all…Nick Dussault, Metro

Bobbie Steinbach is beyond perfection as Madame Armfeldt, the wheelchair-bound matriarch trailing a catalogue of aristocratic lovers, and a bushel full of bon mots…Joyce Kulhawik, Joyce’s Choices

(An) early scene established the show’s perfect blend of romance, nostalgia, and comedy. The wonderful Steinbach embodies that mixture as the woman at the end of life looking back, getting lost in stories of her romances, and still not above a droll inference as she signals her servant, Frid (Sam Simahk), to wheel her inside, saying, “Time for my”—pause—“nap.” Steinbach’s comic timing is terrific. Arts Fuse

Sunday in the Park with George Huntington Theatre Company  Autumn 2016

…the Old Lady (George’s mother), played by Bobbie Steinbach. A memorable Madame Armfeldt in last season’s splendid Huntington A Little Night Music, she is just as touching here as a woman slipping into her own world of memories, lamenting the loss of trees that were never there. The versatile Steinbach also breaks up the audience with her transformation into the hip 1980s New York composer who collaborates with Act II’s George, Seurat’s great-grandson, on his multimedia extravaganza. Evelyn Rosenthal Arts Fuse

Seurat’s mother (Bobbie Steinbach, more than holding her own once again)… Kilian Malloy WBUR Artery

It was a pleasure to see local fave(s) Bobbie Steinbach (who has a lovely, touching voice)… Joyce Kulhawik Joyce’s Choices


Collected Stories with Liz Hayes New Repertory Theatre 

Steinbach is a perfect match with this kind of featured character. She’s gold in rich supporting roles such as Juliet’s nurse, but, one of the truly accomplished actors of our local stages, Steinbach deserves these opportunities to step into the spotlight. And she seizes it, reveling in Ruth’s ability to throw words like daggers.  Patriot Ledger, Tab

If you want plenty to think and argue about, you MUST see the compelling Collected Stories at the NEW REP in Watertown! Bobbie Steinbach and Liz Hayes take Pulitzer Prize- winning playwright Donald Margulies’ play about a famous author and her protegee, and wrap it around their little fingers. Joyce Kulhawick Joyce’s Choices

 Steinbach plugs into the character’s unhealed wounds and her disappointments. She nails the big scenes…Boston Globe

The performance of IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards recipient and veteran trouper Steinbach is not to be missed. Although it is still quite early in the theatre season, I expect to look back upon her star turn as one of the major highlights of the year. She conducts a master class, inhabiting the role of Ruth Steiner, who just happens to be teaching a master class herself to her young protégé. In every moment, Steinbach is totally natural and seamless, as if she is simply being herself. Her capable portrayal of Ruth as irascible and sometimes painfully direct in early scenes segues into a deeper, more maternal vibe when she experiences pride in her student’s accomplishments. As their bond develops into friendship, Steinbach shows girlish excitement, her eyes flashing while she shares reminiscences about her youth and a secret romance. Ultimately, Ruth comes full circle to a place of heartbreaking loss and vulnerability, and Steinbach seems to physically shrink into a shadow of the woman she was at the start of the play. Talkin’ Broadway


Deported, a dream play: Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at the Modern

…art trumps politics – thanks in no small part to the feisty performance of Bobbie Steinbach in a role modeled on Van Dyke’s Armenian grandmother. Boston Globe

Bobbie Steinbach as Victoria is superb. She’s ageless, her spirit undiminished. Theatre Mirror

(She) gives a bravura performance brilliantly combining an earthy matter-of-factness in personality with an emotionally distraught inner being. The Edge

The Importance of being Ernest Lyric Stage Company 2009

“Lady Bracknell, meanwhile, is a hilarious force of nature in the condensed but formidable person of Bobbie Steinbach.” Boston Globe

 “The cast is led by Bobbie Steinbach in the role of Lady Bracknell, carefully arranging a frame for herself, her handbag, and her umbrella on the most comfortable couch in the drawing room. Steinbach, a treasure of the Boston acting community, has had quite a season, beginning with her turn as the ambitious Macbeth, in last fall’s all-female production by Actors’ Shakespeare Project, followed by her role as the loving and accepting wise women, dying of cancer, in “The Clean House” at New Rep; to this total turn-around as Lady Bracknell. 
Endowed with a ferocious sense of timing, Steinbach is letter-perfect in this test of a virtuoso actor’s technique.” Iris Fanger Boston Patriot Ledger

“While she is an integral member of the ensemble, Bobbie Steinbach deserves her own paragraph. Granted, her character is no shrinking violet, but Steinbach chews the scenery as Lady Bracknell. In addition to the fact that all of her costumes are spectacular, she draws everyone’s attention each time she enters the room. Did I say draws? I think commands is the better word as she carries herself regally and often looks askance at those silly young men and women who can’t possibly know the proper way to behave unless she tells them what to do. Lady Bracknell is formidable, but Steinbach is also able to let us see her softer core when all matters are resolved in the end.” Nancy Grossman, Broadway World

“Bobbie Steinbach gives a ferociously delicious performance as the formidable Lady B.”  Theatre Mirror


A Little Night Music Lyric Stage Company  2004

—Best of Boston Theatre 2004: 6) Best Sondheim: A Little Night Music (Lyric Stage Company) …and, best of all, Bobbie Steinbach as a magnificently gritty dowager. Carolyn Clay Boston Phoenix

Steinbach as both singer and actor owns her role (no mean feat, as Hermione Gingold played the part in both the Broadway and London original casts). Ed Seigal Boston Globe

Everything Bobbie Steinbach does on a stage becomes a Must-See and she has never looked more handsome as she does now as Madame Armfeldt… Ms. Steinbach is such an honest artist that her performances reflect the degree of her involvement: at her inspired best, she is unforgettable. Theatre Mirror

“Bobbie Steinbach, who plays the reluctant hostess Madame Armfeldt, is wonderfully droll as the sage but slightly cynical matriarch…” Broadway World

“…the family matriarch (the always delightful Bobbie Steinbach) dispenses the acerbic wisdom of “the old who know too much.” Talkin’ Broadway


Coriolanus Actors’ Shakespeare Project

“Best of all, though, is Bobbie Steinbach as Coriolanus’s fearsome mother, Volumnia. (She) generally dominates everyone she meets. Yet somehow the others all love her for it – and, watching Steinbach invest her every move with feisty energy and cunning wit, we love her too. She’s a force to be reckoned with, a tiny tornado in a wide field.” Boston Globe

“… Bobbie Steinbach imbues her striding female bantam rooster of a Volumnia with just enough warmth, particularly when interacting with her grandson, that you sense the carrot this controlling matriarch alternated with her stick…

Urging her son to make it up with the people Steinbach masterfully incorporates her character’s own advice into her appeal to Coriolanus to spare the life of Rome. Uttered with impeccable diction and stoic dignity, its choreography one of ceremonial abjection, its subtext a contest of wills, this magnificent speech deserves both the pin-drop hush it incurs and the buckling baby-boy soldier’s reaction.  Carolyn Clay  Boston Phoenix

“…the remarkable actress, Bobbie Steinbach, as his mother, Volumnia, a woman as blood-thirsty and power-hungry as Lady Macbeth. Steinbach turns Volumnia into a Roman version of Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” minus the songs. She would be the warrior; she would be the victor and hailed by the populace, except for the accident of gender.” Patriot Ledger

“…the brilliant Bobbie Steinbach as his mother Volumnia.

…was the…great revelation—and the show-stealer in this Coriolanus—was Volumnia. This is in large part due to the way the transcendent Steinbach brings to life Shakespeare’s captivating portrait of the great she-wolf of Rome who often can’t distinguish between her son’s valor and her own martial urges… Steinbach had merely to walk on stage in order to take command. The only figure more frightening than Coriolanus is Volumnia, and the only thing more frightening than Volumnia cursing and shaming (the people of Rome or her own son) was Volumnia kneeling and begging.

Follies Lyric Stage Company

The list of women in the cast of “Follies” at the Lyric Stage Company reads like a dream team of Boston musical theater… some highlights from Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant score: Steinbach evoking a whole wise, wise-cracking lifetime in “I’m Still Here,”… Louise Kennedy, Boston Globe 

…”Bobbie Steinbach in the Yvonne De Carlo role effortlessly selling Sondheim’s rumbling paean to show-biz survival, “I’m Still Here.” Boston Herald

“Local favorite Bobbie Steinbach (Carlotta) demonstrates exactly how to make a well-known song her own in her solo “I’m Still Here,”… James Grossman,

“…memorable individual turns. Bobbie Steinbach brings a sturdy languor to that show-biz survivalist’s anthem, “I’m Still Here,” half of it delivered without standing up.” Carolyn Clay, Boston Phoenix

A Little Night Music Boston Symphony and Tanglewood

 Local stage stalwart Bobbie Steinbach, pinch-hitting at the last minute as Madame Armfeldt for previously announced Ebersole Grey Gardens co-star Mary Louise Wilson, establishes the ideal dryly winking tone that permeates the sexually charged atmosphere of her Swedish country estate on a particularly combustible midsummer’s eve at the turn of the 20th century. Under her shrewdly watchful eye, lovers – her daughter Désirée included – feverishly match and mismatch, couple and un-couple, mistaking liaisons for love and love for benign affection…Broadway World

The other old pros in the cast included Ron Raines as a suitably clueless but ultimately goodhearted Egerman; and Bobbie Steinbach, perfectly cast as the tart-tongued matriarch of the Armfeldt line.  Steve Metcalf, Harford Courant

And the family matriarch (the always delightful Bobbie Steinbach) dispenses the acerbic wisdom of “the old who know too much.” Susanne Bixby, Talking Broadway

The Clean House New Repertory Theatre

The Clean House New Repertory Theatre

The Clean House
New Repertory Theatre

Ana in The Clean House

Ana in The Clean House

Steinbach, in a warm and funny turn as a cancer patient who is determined to live with as much exuberance and zest as possible until she can’t – and then to stop, thank you very much…Not least among the pleasures is to see Paula Plum, Nancy E. Carroll, and Bobbie Steinbach working on the same stage. That’s not to slight the marvelously vivacious Cristi Miles as Matilde, the cleaning-averse cleaner, or the gravely amusing Will Lyman as Charles, the sobersided doctor-husband who surprises himself with his own late-arriving passion. But to see three of Boston’s best grown-up actresses together, playing off one another with the kind of relaxed ease and flawlessly complementary timing that only years of experience can bring, is a special thrill. Boston Globe


Much Ado About Nothing Actors’ Shakespeare Project

“Bobbie Steinbach, who plays an array of roles (from Leonato’s brother Antonio to one of the fork-wielding watchmen) balances out the comic tag-team of Plum and Snee with her own comic energy: her watchman is a colorful Vaudevillian, while Antonio is a tongue-in-cheek riff on the female view of masculinity that hearkens back to the troupe’s all-female production of MacBeth.” Edge Boston

Macbeth Actors’ Shakespeare Project

“Bobbie Steinbach, clad in a white suit and shakily maneuvering a cane, is an avuncular Big Daddy of a Duncan and makes fine comic relief of the Porter,as well as holding up her third of those sexual and shimmering rag-bag witches.”  Boston Phoenix

The Winter’s Tale Actors’ Shakespeare Project

“…some fine work… especially, Bobbie Steinbach’s spitfire Paulina.”   Boston Globe

Othello Actors’ Shakespeare Project 

 “Bobbie Steinbach, tremulous with rage and concern, shines as Desdemona’s parent, here “Signora Brabantia”…’’ Boston Globe

All’s Well That Ends Well  Actors’ Shakespeare Project 

“Bobbie Steinbach, in the dual roles of no-moss-on-me elderly lord Lafew and Diana’s mother, proves again that she has the best comic timing in Boston.” Carolyn Clay  Boston Phoenix

Twelfth Night  Actors’ Shakespeare Project 

“…a definitively feisty Maria from Bobbie Steinbach, who imbues this crafty maid with every imaginable shading of good humor and mischief…” Boston Globe

Christmas Revels 

“Bobbie Steinbach, one of the most versatile of the Boston-based actors, was chief story-teller, adding a dramatic flair to the retelling of “Wicked John and the Devil,” later becoming a cigar-waving, baggy-pants interlocutor for the Mummers’ play.” Patriot Ledger

A Little Night Music Michigan Opera Theatre

“As Armfeldt, Steinbach gave a touching performance in which the character’s confinement to a wheelchair did not inhibit a crisp, nuanced interpretation.” Operaticus

Sailing Down the Amazon Woman on Top Festival

In Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro’s excellent play for one woman, the incomparable Bobbie Steinbach plays a seventy-year-old actress “Sailing Down The Amazon”. Bits of her life drift by her mind as she sits chatting with an invisible younger woman in a second deck-chair, checking with a mischievous finger under his nose whether the husband next to her is sleeping, or dead. She is sardonically witty, dealing unwillingly with some medical bad news, and since it is Millennium Eve it is her past or disturbing present, not any future, that concerns her most. There is a low rasp to Steinbach’s voice, and music even in her pauses. Theatre Mirror

Spitfire Grille Lyric Stage Company 

“Bobbie Steinbach is delightful as usual as a crusty old lady with a heart of marshmallow.”  Talkin’ Broadway

Romeo and Juliet Commonwealth Shakespeare Company 

“The two stars of the show are Jeremiah Kissel as Capulet and Bobbie Steinbach as Nurse. Every line and gesture is so assured that they command attention whenever they take the stage.” Boston Globe

Co-Director Romeo and Juliet  Actors’ Shakespeare Project

Julie Ann Earles & Jason Bowen

Julie Ann Earles &
Jason Bowen

Every twist toward the woeful inevitability of these star crossed lovers’ tragic last embrace is made fiercely intense in the no-holds-barred, bawdy and blazing production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Strand Theater.

Performed in the architectural style of the fabled wooden “O” where Shakespeare did his plays for two years, including “Romeo and Juliet” in 1597, the Dorchester theater has been reconfigured in like fashion by Actors Shakespeare Project. The seating encircles the action making it up close and personal.Now in its tenth season of bringing Boston audiences outstanding interpretations of the Elizabethan playwright, Actors Shakespeare Project potently interlaces the various elements of this comedy turned tragic: Quick paced and savvy direction (Bobbie Steinbach and Allyn Burrows). Volume-up acting from a terrific cast. Horrifyingly real knife fights (violence designer Trevor Olds).

Imaginative scene design evoking the medieval city with the sort of banners that likely hung from those gray stone walls (Janie E. Howland). Lighting design that isolated moments importantly (Jeri Rock), bright bursts of heralding music and bandstand music for the partiers dancing the gavotte (Arshan Gailus sound designer and Susan Dibble choreographer) , and costuming unique to the character’s personalities yet of a period from years past (Kathleen Doyle).

All of these fundamentals are mixed into a brew for transporting you to a time and place of long ago, yet in its story-line resonant of today as well. 

Shakespeare’s story of young people who fall madly in love despite the animosity of their families to such a union is staged often and is perhaps as popular to do as “Hamlet” written much later in the Bard’s career. She’s 13, he’s, perhaps, 20.

Yet the story done right, as it is in this mounting, always seems fresh, maybe particularly so in this city of ours which is quite like Verona plagued by tribal frictions and the too quick tempers of youth on the streets.

Little wonder that Juliet spots the hunky Jason Bowen as Romeo across the crowded dance floor. The buff actor is ripped (making the honeymoon scene really hot!) but it’s his acting chops that carry the night as he moves emotionally from being one of the boys who falls in love at the sight of most any pretty girl to a commanding figure who is resolute and purposeful and totally committed to Juliet.

Julie Ann Earls makes a sprightly Juliet, more ardent and moody than is sometimes portrayed, and with more backbone than one would expect of a cherished only child usually dutiful to her parents and nurse. Her articulation of the Early Modern English poetry Shakespeare writes is exceptional. 

There is chemistry between the two and they give intelligent and passionate voice to passages we now hear anew. Ben Rosenblatt as a rather stuffy, full of himself Paris is a perfect foil to their lustful romance.

Critics over the centuries have wryly commented that Shakespeare necessarily had to kill off Mercutio before the endearing character stole the play from the more stolid Romeo. And with Maurice Emmanuel Parent’s exuberant portrayal of Romeo’s dearest friend, we see the reason for that observation. Parent is irrepressible, dashing across the stage and, yes, up the aisles as well, always with the bright remark and tweak to Romeo’s earnestness.

Omar Robinson is suitably menacing as Tybalt, while Paula Langton brings a bawdiness to the role of the Nurse that is amusing while also conveying a sense of the Nurse being a working class person which heightens our interest in the character.

Ken Baltin as Juliet’s domineering father skillfully plays the pater familias who rules the family as if he owns the other people in it. Miranda Craigwell sweeps elegantly through the play as Juliet’s mother, bending into a more fragile creature at her daughter’s death.

Antonio Ocampo-Guzman as Friar Lawrence gives the priest a humanity that makes the marriage he performs between Romeo and Juliet much more meaningful than the Las Vegas quickie it can be seen as; this couple in love seem truly bound together for eternity in the eyes of the church as well as in their hearts.

 Buried with the couple’s death is the warring parents’s strife. Would but Boston take a page from their reconciliation seems the message the Actors Shakespeare Project sends out from the Strand’s stage.

 The Edge

Ah, but the Actors’ Shakespeare Project production playing at the Strand cuts through the romantic dribble and pierces Cupid’s heart with the all the hip efficiency of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Co-directors Bobbie Steinbach and Allyn Burrows are magicians on stage who manage to maintain the romantic eloquence of Shakespeare’s text while refusing to dodge this play’s unflinching misogynistic world view.  Together, they and the actors create a new fable,  more bitter than the one we’ve adopted, of Juliet’s coming of age and all the terrors that it brings. NE  Theatre Geek

The first thing you see when you enter the historic Strand auditorium for Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s ROMEO AND JULIET (playing through Nov. 3rd) is Janie E. Howland’s ingenious “O” (as in Shakespeare’s “Wooden O.”) Some of the audience is seated on the curved stage so that the circular sweep of the “O” leads the eye to the front section below, where the rest of the audience sits. For once the Strand feels cozy! (You don’t even notice the empty, unused seats in the back.) Howland’s ancient balustrade on the weathered stucco dwelling where Romeo will scale the balcony (for the best gravity defying kiss of any R&J production I’ve seen) adds immeasurably to the authentic 16th century atmosphere of the piece.

Directors Bobbie Steinbach and Allyn Burrows have made more than a few clever changes to the staging (and the text): The duels which are almost always staged with swordplay are now fought with knives, conjuring up rival gang warfare. Kathleen Doyle’s inventive costumes are a grand mix of classic and contemporary, emphasizing the timelessness of the story: Needless feuds are causing violence, in families and factions all over the world even today, especially today, so the directors draw the audience in, with an almost magnetic force. Actors stride the aisles, turn verse into rap and high-five people in the audience when a point is well taken.

ASP also takes a couple of certainties and tweaks them for wonderful effect: One, at the end, is a very effective surprise—which I won’t reveal. The other is the impact of Romeo’s comrade, Mercutio. Mind you, he’s always vital to the action but Maurice Emmanuel Parent makes him the star. He’s the one who sets the tragedy in motion and he’s the one who curses the two houses of Montague and Capulet.

He struts about, hooting and caterwauling and he even dances “with catlike tread.” (Doyle gives him a mask for the ball with feathers sticking up like ears!) You cannot take your eyes off him for a moment because you might miss his marvelous antics, up and down the Capulet stairs, over and across the passageway behind the balcony. He’s a whirlwind. He makes you pay attention to Shakespeare’s glorious language, delivering the Queen Mab speech with a flourish. How about that!

I don’t mean to neglect Romeo, a sincere and athletic (the kiss!) Jason Bowen and Juliet, a lovely, effusive Julie Ann Earls. If it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t have Ken Baltin as Juliet’s commanding father or Paige Clark as a perky Benvolio (here Benvolia so she and Mercutio can be “off to bed” and it means something entirely new!)

The directors have reassigned some speeches and ditched a number of characters, including the Montague parents—and I, for one, didn’t miss them at all. Paula Langton is a much younger, more flirtatious Nurse than I’m used to and Miranda Craigwell becomes Lord Capulet’s “trophy wife”—odd but interesting choices—but one decision left me flummoxed. Why doesn’t Romeo hold Mercutio back so that Tybalt (a headstrong Omar Robinson) has the terrible opportunity to skewer him? Much recrimination hinges thereon, methinks… but they must have a reason for changing it.

The best thing about ASP’s ROMEO AND JULIET is the visceral hold it has on the audience. You’re shocked, excited and delighted with the humor (too often neglected) Shakespeare uses to tell the story of sublime, reckless, impetuous youth. Beverly Creasy  Boston Arts Review

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