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Two delights for the summer

by Jules Becker
Thursday Jun 16, 2022

Dominic Carter and Yewande Odetoyinbo in Lyric Stage Company's production of "The Light." Photo: Mark S. Howard.
Dominic Carter and Yewande Odetoyinbo in Lyric Stage Company's production of "The Light." Photo: Mark S. Howard.  

The Light, Lyric Stage Company of Boston, through June 26. 617-585-5678 or

Are 65 minutes enough time to make a play sing on stage? Gifted multi-talent Jacqui Parker (IRNE and Norton Awards) , in her playbill director's note for the Lyric Stage Company of Boston area premiere of "The Light," calls the Loy A. Webb work "my theater song." While the engaging play seems to tackle too many issues, its evolving romance does take on a striking jazziness—particularly thanks to strong performances by Dominic Carter and Yewande Odetoyinbo as the lovers in question.

As the play opens, large photos of Maya Angelou, Beyonce, Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the backdrop dining room wall of a handsome Hyde Park, Chicago condo (kudos to scenic designer Baron E. Pugh) promise serious attention to women. The condo owner is Genesis, the savvy principal of a black charter school. Her fireman boyfriend Rashad grooves as he enters before her.

If their conversation and body language display true feeling and love, their future together is uncertain. Although Rashad proposes marriage, a dispute about the integrity of a performer—for whose concert he has V.I.P. tickets—erupts into a verbal debate about the relative worth of Black women and Black men and threatens the future of their relationship. Towards the end of the play, there are significant revelations—especially regarding the performer. Rashad assures Genesis that he is there if she needs him. Audience members will have to decide on their own if the ending is convincing.

Reservations about the overly busy play aside, Parker's sharp direction and the fine performances of Carter and Odetoyinbo make the play worth seeing. Carter captures Rashad's embrace of life, deep love for Genesis and insecurities about his career. Odetoyinbo` finds all of Genesis' passionate feelings for Rashad as well as her ongoing uncertainty about the durability of their love in the face of personal differences.

Rashad and Genesis, richly characterized and likable, may ultimately have more to offer than Webb's earnest play. The true radiance in "The Light" proves to be the chemistry between director Parker and actors Carter and Odetoyinbo.

Wicked, tour presented by Broadway in Boston at Citizen Bank Opera House, Boston, through June 26.

"Wicked" lost out for the 2003 best musical Tony Award to "Avenue Q" for good reason. While glossy and 'popular,' it needed more of the latter's heart and a stronger score (as was the case with composer Stephen Schwartz's "Pippin"). Even so, Idina Menzel was electrifying as Elphaba and Kristen Chenoweth radiant as Glinda—so much so that they established a stage twosome that has helped the visually stunning show—rightly honored with scenic and costume design Tony's (respectively for Eugene Lee and Susan Hilferty)—run for many years.

The good news about the tour at the Citizen Bank Opera House is a strong performance that will please the musical's legions of fans.

Under the taut direction of veteran Broadway director Joe Mantello ("Assassins," "Take Me Out"), the leads and supporting cast bring vocal magic to strong and middling numbers alike. Lissa deGuzman has the right perseverance and strong will as Elphaba and properly builds the power of "Defying Gravity," the show's best song. Jennafer Newberry, who displays operatic tone, and deGuzman make the most of the friendship anthem "For Good." Jordan Litz has all of Fiyero's independent demeanor and his growing love for Elphaba. Lisa Howard captures Madame Morrible's singular meanness.

To borrow from the score, "Wicked" is clearly dancing through life. Musical buffs know that like Glinda it has more style than substance (not to mention sizable changes from Gregory Maguire's novel in Winnie Holzman's book). Still, there is a lot of enjoyable life in this tour.