Review: In ‘The Butcher Boy,’ an Anti-Coming of Age Story | Big Indy News
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Review: In ‘The Butcher Boy,’ an Anti-Coming of Age Story

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They creep in from the shadows, snorting and snickering. The singing pigs that skulk and shimmy through “The Butcher Boy,” which opened on Monday at the Irish Repertory Theater, are silly but also half menacing. Below the neck, they’re dressed like townspeople in 1960s Ireland, where the new musical, written and composed by Asher Muldoon, is set. From the jowls up, however, their snout-nosed masks are eerily impassive.

The swine chorus appears to be a totem of indecency, embodying the dark and unknown depths of the show’s narrator, Francie (Nicholas Barasch), a jaunty lad with flame-colored hair and an implacably sunny disposition. In his upbeat brogue, Francie recounts a tale of boyhood mischief and alienation with a zeal that belies what seems to be the threat of promised violence. If there’s danger lurking beneath his gleaming grin, Francie may be a bit too good at hiding the knife.

Based on the 1992 novel by Patrick McCabe, “The Butcher Boy” presents a myopic view of a troubled upbringing — call it an anti-coming of age tale. Francie claims that his adolescence was idyllic, though scenes in the musical plainly prove otherwise. He and his best friend (Christian Strange) fish and carouse and steal comic books from a nerdy classmate (Daniel Marconi), whose mother (Michele Ragusa) fatefully derides Francie and his parents on the basis of social class, calling them pigs.

“It was a sweet and simple time,” Francie sings as his father (Scott Stangland) belts him across the butt. “We were happy,” he says before walking in on his mother (Andrea Lynn Green) about to hang herself from a fuse wire. The motormouthed Francie turns to the audience with asides and misdirections that dissemble as much as they reveal.

In the novel, McCabe’s prose is propulsive and unpredictable, bordering on stream of consciousness and bubbling with proto-punk sensibility, not unlike Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting,” published in Scotland a year later.

But putting a narrator as unreliable as Francie at the helm of a stage musical is a tricky business. Should an audience believe what they hear or what they see? That depends on which is more convincing, and the results here are tough to decipher. Is Francie fooling only himself, or is he trying to fool everyone else? The answer often seems to be both, and it’s a difficult deception for a performer to pull off, particularly while recounting and participating in two and a half hours’ worth of action.

“The Butcher Boy” might have been finessed into a sharper, more forceful black comedy if the score from Muldoon, who is not yet a senior in college, had developed a more distinctive point of view. Its dutiful tour through Broadway-style pop, vaudeville and Irish influences is largely referential.

The production, directed by Ciaran O’Reilly, uses graphic shorthand to suggest the tension between Francie’s insular mind and the outside world. The wood-slatted walls of the set by Charlie Corcoran resemble a treehouse, while an oversize rendering of a turn-dial TV serves as a backdrop for Dan Scully’s projections. The screen looms large over the compact stage, nodding briefly to the turmoil of the 1960s and to Francie’s taste for “The Twilight Zone,” but the significance of mass media to Francie’s tortured descent is either overstated or underplayed.

“The Butcher Boy” centers Francie’s perspective to a fault, so that the convictions of other characters are mediated through his own. It’s a powerful concept but requires a delicate physics that staging a story in three dimensions tends to defy. When characters who are without emotional agency express themselves in song, whose heartstrings can they claim to be pulling? Francie seems determined to prove that he himself has none.

There are promising moments of affecting sentiment at the conclusion of Muldoon’s score, in ballads that seem to offer unlikely resolution, before Francie yanks it away with a still indeterminate rage. But by the time Francie’s own mask finally falls, the revelation feels oddly bloodless.

The Butcher Boy
Through Sept. 11 at the Irish Repertory Theater, Manhattan; irishrep.org. Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

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Lindsey Stirling is on a Christmas tour. Tickets are still available.

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You may think you’ve seen every kind of Christmas show there is.

Well, unless you’ve been to a Lindsey Stirling concert, you’d be wrong.

Stirling takes your standard Christmas show and turns it on its head with her energetic violin arrangements, lively dance numbers and stunning costume changes.

Now, midway through her sprawling “Snow Waltz Tour,” Stirling will be bringing her unique yet familiar production to venues all over North America.

That includes performances at Albany’s Palace Theatre on Dec. 6 and Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Dec. 7.

So, if you want to catch the former “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing With the Stars” alum spreading Christmas cheer live, here’s everything you need to know.

Lindsey Stirling 2022 tour schedule

All the way up until Dec. 31, Stirling will hit venues all the way from the East to West coast.

Just a few notable stops on the run include gigs in Orlando (Nov. 30), Hershey (Dec. 5), Milwaukee (Dec. 13), Salt Lake City (Dec. 16) and Los Angeles (Dec. 23).

The run concludes at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Dec. 31.

A complete calendar featuring all upcoming tour dates, venues, show start times and links to buy tickets can be found here.

Lindsey Stirling new album

To accompany the tour, Stirling just dropped her 2022 Christmas-themed album “The Snow Waltz”— which also happens to be the the name of the tour.

Featuring 14 tracks made up of reimagined classics and originals, the album has been received warmly by critics.

“Stirling imbues her holiday soundtrack with a sense of realism, a spirit of adventure, and a child-like whimsy that still rings within the best of us,” said Crypticrock.com.

If you’d like to hear the record in whole, you can here.

Other can’t miss Christmas concerts

It’s a good year for fans of Yuletide cheer.

Along with Stirling, a number of huge artists are taking their joyful Christmas hits to venues small and large.

Here are just five of our favorite must-see Christmas concerts you need to add to your December calendar before the season passes us by.

• Trans-Siberian Orchestra

• Mariah Carey

• Pentatonix

• Andrea Bocelli

• Postmodern Jukebox

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Brendan Fraser looks dapper with his beautiful partner Jeanne Moore at the Gotham Awards

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Best Feature

Aftersun

Charlotte Wells, director; Adele Romanski, Amy Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Mark Ceryak, producers (A24)

The Cathedral

Ricky D’Ambrose, director; Graham Swon, producer (MUBI)

Dos Estaciones

Juan Pablo González, director; Ilana Coleman, Jamie Gonçalves, Bruna Haddad, Makena Buchanan, producers (Cinema Guild)

Everything Everywhere All At Once 

Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, directors; Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Jonathan Wang, producers (A24) – WINNER

Tár

Todd Field, director; Alexandra Milchan, Scott Lambert, Todd Field, producers (Focus Features)

 

Outstanding Lead Performance

Cate Blanchett in Tár (Focus Features)

Danielle Deadwyler in Till (United Artists Releasing / Orion Pictures) – WINNER

Dale Dickey in A Love Song (Bleecker Street)

Colin Farrell in After Yang (A24)

Brendan Fraser in The Whale (A24)

Paul Mescal in Aftersun (A24)

Thandiwe Newton in God’s Country (IFC Films)

Aubrey Plaza in Emily the Criminal (Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment)

Taylor Russell in Bones and All (United Artists Releasing / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)

 

Outstanding Supporting Performance

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking (United Artists Releasing / Orion Pictures)

Raúl Castillo in The Inspection (A24)

Hong Chau in The Whale (A24)

Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway (Apple TV+)

Nina Hoss in Tár (Focus Features)

Noémie Merlant in Tár (Focus Features)

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24) – WINNER

Mark Rylance in Bones and All (United Artists Releasing / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Gabrielle Union in The Inspection (A24)

Ben Whishaw in Women Talking (United Artists Releasing / Orion Pictures)

 

Best Documentary Feature

All That Breathes

Shaunak Sen, director; Aman Mann, Shaunak Sen, Teddy Leifer producers (A Sideshow & Submarine Deluxe Release in Association with HBO Documentary Films) – WINNER

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Laura Poitras, director; Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin, Yoni Golijov, Laura Poitras, producers (NEON)

I Didn’t See You There

Reid Davenport, director; Keith Wilson, producer (RePort Media)

The Territory

Alex Pritz, director; Alex Pritz, Darren Aronofsky, Sigrid Dyekjær, Will N. Miller, Gabriel Uchida, Lizzie Gillett, producers (National Geographic Documentary Films)

What We Leave Behind

Iliana Sosa, director; Emma D. Miller, Isidore Bethel, producers (ARRAY)

 

Best International Feature

Athena

Romain Gavras, director; Romain Gavras, Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Mourad Belkeddar, Jean Duhamel, Nicolas Lhermitte, Ladj Ly, producers (Netflix)

The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh, director; Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh, producers (Searchlight Pictures)

Corsage

Marie Kreutzer, director; Alexander Glehr, Johanna Scherz, Bernard Michaux, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade, Jean-Christophe Reymond, producers (IFC Films)

Decision to Leave

Park Chan-wook, director and producer (MUBI)

Happening

Audrey Diwan, director; Edouard Weil, Alice Girard producers (IFC Films) – WINNER

Saint Omer

Alice Diop, director; Toufik Ayadi, Christophe Barral, producers (Super LTD)

 

Breakthrough Performer 

Frankie Corio in Aftersun

Kali Reis in Catch the Fair One

Gracija Flipovic in Murina – WINNER

Anna Diop in Nanny

Anna Cobb in We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

 

Best Screenplay

Kogonada (After Yang)

James Gray (Armageddon Time)

Lena Dunham (Catherine Called Birdy)

Todd Field (Tár) – WINNER

Sarah Polley (Women Talking)

 

Breakthrough Director 

Charlotte Wells (Aftersun) – WINNER

Owen Kline (Funny Pages)

Elegance Bratton (The Inspection)

Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic (Murina)

Beth De Araújo (Soft & Quiet)

Jane Schoenbrun (We’re All Going to the World’s Fair)

 

Breakthrough Non-Fiction Series 

The Andy Warhol Diaries

The Last Movie Stars

Mind Over Murder

The Rehearsal

We Need to Talk About Cosby – WINNER

 

Television Performers 

Bilal Baig (Sort Of)

Ayo Edebiri (The Bear)

Janelle James (Abbott Elementary)

Matilda Lawler (Station Eleven)

Britt Lower (Severance)

Melanie Lynskey (Yellowjackets)

Sue Ann Pien (As We See It)

Minha Kim (Pachinko)

Zahn McClarnon (Dark Winds)

Ben Whishaw (This Is Going To Hurt) – WINNER

 

Breakthrough Television Under 40 Minutes 

Abbott Elementary (ABC)

As We See It (Amazon Prime Video)

Mo (Netflix) – WINNER

Rap Sh!t (HBO Max)

Somebody, Somewhere (HBO)

 

Breakthrough Television Over 40 Minutes 

Pachinko (Apple+) – WINNER

Severance (Apple+)

Station Eleven (HBO Max)

This Is Going To Hurt (AMC+)

Yellowjackets (Showtime)

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Aaron Carter’s Ashes to Be Spread with Deceased Sister, Mom When She Passes

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Aaron Carter Cremated, Death Certificate Reveals

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Aaron Carter Cremated, Death Certificate Reveals

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