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THE WESTERN WIND
Sopranos: MICHELE KENNEDY, LINDA LEE JONES
Countertenor: WILLIAM ZUKOF
Tenors: TODD FRIZZELL, DAVID VANDERWAL
Baritone: ELLIOT Z. LEVINE
Mimes: CATHERINE GASTA & ALEXANDER REED
Stage Direction by GAMA VALLE
Set Design by BRADLEY WEHRLE
Lighting Design by JASON FOK
Costumes by LUIS E. SANTIAGO
The West End Theater
The Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, 86th Street between Broadway and West End Ave.
Call 212-873-2848 or visit http://www.westernwind.org
May 28 - 31, 2015
The Western Wind ensemble of singers sang Vecchi's madrigal comedy in delightful and witty notes characteristic of the 16th century commedia dell'arte form. For those who don't understand Italian, there were subtitles so one could follow the story. The traditional comic characters including Pantalone, Pedrolino, Dr. Gratiano, Capitano and the lovers, Isabella, Lucio, Lelio and Nisa were all interpreted by two very skillful mimes (Catherine Gasta and Alexander Reed).
It's a madcap revue about love, hurt, lust, greed, and playful seduction. The madrigal comedy genre was brilliantly sung by The Western Wind as the singers had to shift quickly from character to character in a tricky polyphonic alternation.
It's a short run and I'd recommend to see L'Amfiparnaso at The West End Theater. It's not often, you see a 16th century madrigal comedy in the 21st century!
If you miss it, then you can buy The Western Wind CDs on their website. They're an acclaimed vocal sextet devoted to a cappella music and their repertoire goes from the Renaissance to medieval carols to jazz standards to avant-garde works. They've performed all over the world at distinguished venues, such as, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center and have won many awards, including the ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award.
Beautiful Soup Theater Presents
WHAT WAS LOST
Five Plays in Repertory by Steven Carl McCasland
Taking on a backstage play about one of the most iconic shows of the 20th century, “A Glass Menagerie,” is biting off quite a mouthful for a young playwright. Steven Carl McCasland confidently takes on this project successfully. It is a good play, but I don’t know that it could have worked without the fine, strong performance by Pennylynn White. Fragile, tender, yet with an inner strength and fire, the Hepburnesque White brings the insecurity of an alcoholic with the confidence of a stage diva into a lovely and complex character. I’d really like to see her play Amanda sometime.
The rest of the cast is able, if not extraordinary. The small, unusual space is well used and the lighting is terrific (kudos to Lighting Designer Molly Tiede). Unfortunately the costumes of the supporting characters were distractingly modern, but I’m sure they didn’t have much of a budget to work with.
Having caught two of the five shows by Mr. McCasland this month at the Clarion Theater, now I wish I had seen them all. Steven Carl McCasland is definitely a playwright to watch!
Music and Lyrics by NANCY HARROW
Book by WILL POMERANTZ and NANCY HARROW
Based on the novel THE MARBLE FAUN by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Arrangement and Orchestrations by DENNIS MACREL
Musical Direction by CODY OWEN STINE
BRITTANY CAMPBELL, CARL CLEMONS-HOPKINS, KIM EXUM
BRITTON SMITH, JASON VEASEY, ANITA WELCH, REGGIE D. WHITE
Conductor/Piano: CODY OWEN STINE
Woodwind: OWEN BRODER
Violin: CARRIE DOWELL
Trombone: ROBERT EDWARDS
Drums: NATHAN ELLMAN-BELL
Trumpet: ALPHONSO HORNE
Cello: ELEANOR NORTON
Bass: ERIC WHEELER
Direction and Musical Staging by WILL POMERANTZ
Scenic Design: JOHN McDERMOTT
Costume Design: WHITNEY LOCHER
Lighting Design: JIMMY LAWLOR
Sound Design: KEVIN HEARD
Prop Design: JUDY MERRICK
Associate Music Director: ALPHONSO HORNE
Production Manager: NEAL WILKINSON
Production Stage Manager: ANGIE HESTERMAN
General Manager: COREY PEARLSTEIN
Casting: MICHAEL CASSARA, CSA
Graphic Design: MAIARELLI STUDIO
Marketing and Advertising: AMANDA BOHAN MARKETING
Press Representation: JT PUBLIC RELATIONS
The Clurman @ Theater Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 2396200 or www.Telecharge.com
May 19 – June 20; Opening Night – 05/28/15
It’s hot and steamy in New Orleans most of the time. During Mardi Gras the temperature rises along with the celebrations, dramas, and catastrophes. In Nancy Harrow’s and Will Pomerantz’s FOR THE LAST TIME the past collides with the present as four young individuals, all artists in their own individual ways, succumb to passions and desires while trying to resist temptations that could drastically alter their futures.
Based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun, this musical boasts a stellar cast, original songs, an eight-piece jazz band, and carefree choreography. Miriam (so convincingly portrayed by Brittany Campbell) is hiding a secret. Her friend Hilda (Anita Welch) has followed in Miriam’s footsteps hoping New Orleans can inject life into her writing career. Club owner Kenyon (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) and trumpet player Donatello (Britton Smith) are the men who both tempt and protect the ladies. As secrets are revealed, hungers are satisfied, and injustices are requited, hope is banished and renewed, and decisions are made as a result of actions. Reggie D. White is superb as The Overseer creating a relationship with the audience as he guides the story line to its ultimate conclusion. Jason Veasey and Kim Exum round out this talented group.
Every now and then there are gems you find Off Broadway that could easily stand side by side with Broadway productions. FOR THAT LAST TIME falls into that category.
Beautiful Soup Theater
In Repertory with What was Lost, 28 Marchant Avenue, neat & tidy, and Der Kanarienvogel (The Canary)
Written by Steven Carl McCasland
Directed by Cara Picone
Costume Design; Somie Pak
Lighting Design: Molly Tiede
Stage Manager: Hailli Ridsdale
Ensemble: Kristen Gehling, Kimberly Faye Greenberg, Samantha Hoefer, Polly McKie, Kim Rogers, Dorothy Weems Penny Lynn White
This all-female cast takes us on an imaginary gathering of literati from the Parisian avant-garde and modern literature stalwarts, such as Gertrude Stein, Lilian Hellman, Alice B. Toklas, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Parker. Stein and Toklas are having a dinner party with this cast of characters in their home in the Alps. It is the eve of France’s surrender to Nazi Germany at the dawn of WWII.
A surprise visitor arrives a day early and is invited to stay for the dinner. This visitor - Muriel Gardiner - is an activist involved in saving Jews by securing passports for their escape to America. Gardiner arrives to collect the pledged support from Stein and Toklas.
The play begins with Bernadette–the young house maid–buzzing about, readying the house. The inebriated Stein rants about having them over, and Lilian reminds her the party was her idea.
When the invited guests arrive, sparks begin to fly. Stein and Hellman share a caustic relationship. Though dinner never arrives, the guests are instead treated to plenty of liquor, allowing their tongues to flow freely. And, clearly, these authors are seldom at a loss for words. They enact their individual, personal dramas: rejection, alcoholism, racism, abortion, rape, and lesbianism, when it was considered “abnormal”. As Dorothy Parker says: “It isn’t the tragedies that kill us. It’s the messes, the little wars.”
Gardiner stands back as the alcohol flows, and we learn of each author’s political and personal struggles. She decides to step in, after the Jewish house maid’s story is revealed, and Gardiner offers to help. Her identity as a Jew sympathizer is revealed, forcing all to show their feelings about the Nazis, and how they plan to help.
Polly McKie as Gertrude Stein shows off her bold acting chops; Penny Lynn White is a formidable actor as Toklas; Dorothy Weems portrays Parker’s acerbic wit with style. Kim Rogers is an imposing and grand Agatha Christie. Kimberly Greenberg plays very well off Stein’s stings. Each is strong, talented and believable in their character.
Beautiful Soup Theater Presents
Five Plays in Repertory by Steven Carl McCasland
The gruesome rape and murder of a child affects everyone in the community. The police, the person who discovers the body, the doctor who birthed the child, a neighbor grieving over the death of her own child—all are traumatized. But of course, no one is more traumatized than the child’s parents. It is a rare marriage that can survive this tragedy. Loosely (very loosely) inspired by the 1994 case of Susan Smith who drove her children into a lake, drowning them, neat & tidy explores the way the murder of a child tears apart a couple and the ripple effects on everyone else.
Tracy (the excellent Kristen Gehling) is a cold mother who never quite developed her maternal instinct and seethed with jealousy over her husband’s love of their daughter. The murder of their little girl exposes the frazzled seams that were barely holding their marriage together, and the crime begets more murder.
The play is a little bit too long, and there are a few characters who aren’t really necessary. The small venue made the gimmick of interspersing cast members with the audience distracting rather than creating a deeper intimacy with the characters. Other than that, the fine acting and beautiful writing makes this well worth seeing.
Note to actors looking for monologues, there are some excellent ones in here. And note to agents, there are some very talented actors to discover here!
An evening of eight ten-minute plays developed through Athena Theatre’s playwright group inspired by this year’s theme “Undiscovered Inhibitions”
TOM BLOCK (Athena Theatre Playwright in Residence), PAUL BOMBA
MAXIMILIAN CLARK (Athena Theatre Playwright Group Intern), WYNOAMI GLASSER, ALEX HERSLER
SARAH KINSEY, VERONIQUE ORY, RYAN SPAHN, ALEX THOMPSON, XAVIER TOBY, MICHAEL WALKER
Theatre Row Studio Theatre
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
May 18, 2015
ATHENA WRITES will leave you astounded at how much quality and innovation you can cram into 10 minutes. Eight plays, a huge cast of gifted actors, and out-of-the-box writing create an evening of theatrical bliss.
Tom Block’s AUBERGINE has siblings contemplating relevant topics like eggplants and nothingness. A rescued man develops a huge appetite for life in Maximilian Clark’s THE CONNOISSEUR, while Wynoami Glasser’s BLUNT PROPOSITION deals with grief and its aftermath. ALVIN BALLISTER V. ALVIN BALLISTER by Alex Hersler asks how much of a good thing is too much, and Xavier Toby’s THE CURIOUS FINGER discovers new forms of pleasure and power. Sarah Kinsey’s DATING HISTORY and Alex Thompson’s DIGBY ENLIGHTMENT bring us the lighter sides of dating and religion, and Veronique Ory’s all-too-real ALTERNATION takes us on a subway ride where race, homelessness, and yoga become unlikely traveling partners.
ATHENA WRITES is a marvelous pou pou platter of theatrical tastings – a sample of what can be done in a short time span long on creativity and talent. Fantastic!
Created and performed by James Godwin
Directed and co-written by Tom Burnett
Produced by Jean Marie Keevins
Dixon Place has a reputation for inspiring, encouraging and nurturing artists and THE FLATIRON HEX is a perfect example of the results.
James Godwin’s incredibly innovative performance piece includes multimedia and multiple forms of puppetry, with almost all the characters fluidly and flawlessly performed by him as well. Even a small technical malfunction was smoothly handled with Mr. Godwin moving to the other side of the stage while a couple of technicians came onstage to fix the projector. Mr. Godwin never broke character even while commenting on his situation. The mistake just added to the fun of the evening, while impressing with both his and his crew’s skill.
Shadow puppetry, mechanical puppetry, even good old-fashioned marionette puppetry all moved seamlessly under Mr. Godwin’s talented hands. Each character was distinct and interesting in his/her own right. Their interaction was priceless, precisely because it is all spoken by the multi-talented Mr. Godwin.
The script is a bit slight even though it takes on weighty issues, but that is all part of the fun. THE FLATIRON HEX is a thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre.
Created by ERIC WRIGHT & MATT SINGER
Directed by EMILY DeCOLA
Puppets by THE PUPPET KITCHEN
151 West 46th Street (between Sixth & Seventh Avenues)
May 15 – 29; Opening Night – 05/17/15
WHAT ARE YOU EATING? is a clever celebration of food. While poking fun at our dietary restrictions and constant battle with virtuous sacrifice vs. hedonistic consumption, creators ERIC WRIGHT and MATT SINGER put cardboard props to hilarious use. With the assistance of Billy, a totally lovable puppet created by The Puppet Kitchen, they tackle subjects like comfort food, the Clean Plate Club, asparagus, tuna casseroles, and confusing food rules. Singer plays the guitar and sings; Wright manipulates Billy and the props and joins in an occasional duet. The songs are so cute and the subject matter (food, food, food) so appropriate that you wish there was a soundtrack you could buy. Treat yourself to a delightfully entertaining 60 minutes and go see WHAT ARE YOU EATING? Bad food has never been so good for you.
Elizabeth Schwarzkopf...Anna Kirkland
Mike Hamilton...Brian Piehl
Joseph Goebbels...Levi Morger
Maria Ivogun...Ellyn Stein
Karl Bohm...Mathew Martin
Adolf Hitler...David Gautschy
Kirsten Flagstad...Kim Rogers
Richard Strauss...Rick Grossman
Herman Wilhelm Goring...Orlando Iriarte
Eva Braun/Assistant...Rachel Adams
Appearing courtesy of the Actors' Equity Association
Director: Steven Carl McCasland
Stage Manager: Hailli Ridscale
Assistant Director: Kristen Gehling
Lighting Designer: Jessical Creager
Costume Designer: Somie Pak
Tickets can be purchased at http://BeautifulSoup.Showclix.com.
View the trailer at www.tinyurl.com/InRepertory.
May 7th - May 31st, 2015
DER KANARIENVOGEL (THE CANARY) is a play featuring Arias by Guiseppe Verdi and Richard Strauss that explores the life and career of soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (played by actual soprano Anna Kirkland) and how it collides with the inner circle of The Third Reich. Mike Hamilton (Brian Piehl) in academia interviews Schwarzkopf in her later years for his dissertation to prove how politics and music are inseparable. Schwarzkopf, considered a Nazi sympathizer, will do anything to have a shining opera career until her conscious awareness makes her realize she's associating with monsters only to feel like a victim herself. Kirsten Flagstad (Kim Rogers) another opera singer acts as her alter ego exposing her to the horrific events happening to the Jews. Richard Strauss (Rick Grossman)
unveils The Third Reich injustices and her guilty memories of not helping such a great composer yet she sings his arias to Adolf Hitler (David Gautschy) and her lover Hermann Wilhelm Goring (Orlando Iriarte).
The playwright does not claim that this story is fiction and it is not intended to reflect actual circumstances and events.
If you'd like to see something from The Third Reich point of vue which really stretches your comfort zone, then go to Der Kanarienvogel (The Canary) at The Clarion Theatre.
Directed by CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
Scenic Design: CAMAPBELL BAIRD
Costume Design: DUSSTIN CROSS
Lighting Design: JOYCE LIAO
Original Music & Sound Design: BRETT MACIAS
Properties: DEBORAH GAOULETTE
Production supervisor & Production Stage Manager: C. RENEE ALEXANDER
Assist. Production Supervisor & Asst. Stage Manager: MARCI SKOLNICK
Assoc. Costume Design: JOHN HARDY
Marketing & Advertising: RED RISING MARKETING, INC., MICHAEL REDMAN
Press Representative: JT-PR, JOE TRENTACOSTA
Casting: STEPHANIE KLAPPER CASTING, STEPHANIE KLAPPER
47th Street Theatre
304 West 47th Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
(212) 279-4200 or www.TicketCentral.com
May 8th – 30th; Opening Night – 05/14/15
As their inaugural production, Masterworks Theater Company is presenting Tennessee Williams’ THE GLASS MENAGERIE. The goal of Masterworks is to choose great plays and musicals that every young person should have an opportunity to see, and this is a fine production of a classic work.
Williams’ semi-autobiographical story tells of a family bound together by pain, despair, desperation, and, yes, love. They interchange reality and illusion, doing whatever is necessary to survive disappointing lives. Veteran Saundra Santiago is the indomitable Amanda Wingfield, a mother of many words who lives in the past whenever possible. Her son Tom (perfectly portrayed by Richard Prioleau) dreams of a future that doesn’t include his dependent family. He also serves as the tongue-in-cheek Narrator injecting humor and sarcasm into bleak surroundings. Olivia Washington brings a different aspect to the “frail” Laura. Although undeniably handicapped with both physical and personality limitations, Laura’s innocence and willingness to please shine through. And then there is Tom (Doug Harris), the Gentleman Caller, whose visit is a source of hope and despair, much like the lives of the Wingfields.
Ethereal scenic design by Campbell Baird and lighting design by Joyce Liao combine with original music by Brett Macias to create an illusory atmosphere. Costume design by Dustin Cross creates the authenticity of the 1940’s. Together with this fine cast and precise direction of Christopher Scott, Masterworks Theater’s THE GLASS MENAGERIE is an impressive offering for audiences of all ages.
T. SCHREIBER STUDIO FOR THEATRE & FILM presents
in order of appearance
John Buchanan...Jacques Mitchell
Rev. Winemiller... Daniel Hawk Hicks
Mrs. Winemiller...Cynthia Shaw
Alma Winemiller...Taylor Graves
Nellie Eweii...Bevin Bru Rosa Gonzales...Aida Alvarez Roger...lvan Sandomire
Dr. John Buchanan, Sr...Jim Cyborowski
Mrs. Bassett...Kathryn Fray
Gonzales...Stephan Antonio Ortiz
Director: Terry Schreiber
Producer/Production Stage Manager: DaVonne Onassis Bacchus
Assistant Director: Ana Galang
Set Designer: Hal Tine
Costume Designer: Hope Governali
Lighting Designer: Dennis Parichy
Sound Designer: Andy Evan Cohen
Props Master: Salina Polanco
Master Electrician: Kyrie McCormick
House Manager: Tiffany Jo McNerlin
Dialect Coach: Page Clements
Publicity: Bunch of People Press & Publicity (Judd Hollander & Cynthia Leathers)
Graphic Art and Design: Karen Moreno
T. Schreiber Studio for Theatre & Film
151 West 26th Street, 7th Floor
New York, New York 10001
SUMMER AND SMOKE is about "spirit and sensuality" set in Glorious Hill, Mississippi in 1913. A Minister's daughter, Alma Winemiller (Taylor Graves) is secretly in love with her next door neighbor's son, John Buchanan (Jacques Mitchell), a recent graduate from John Hopkins Medical School following in his father's footsteps as a doctor, but loosely-based morals, drinking, and gambling almost cost him his respectable lineage. Alma represents Puritanism and spirituality while John mendacity and the flesh, in essence, star-crossed lovers at opposite sides of the spectrum of mores. How will this life-long loving friendship from childhood resolve itself? The cast performed well and Mrs. Winemiller (Cynthia Shaw) although a nut was quite aware underneath her facade--she added an element of fun and delight to this bittersweet story
Any story written by Tennessee Williams is remarkable and I'd highly recommend seeing SUMMER AND SMOKE at T. Schreiber Studio for Theatre & Film.
Directed by PAIGE FRIDELL
Set Design: JOSEPH NAPOLITANO GROUP
Lighting Design: CINDY SHUMSEY
Public Relations: JOHN CAPO
Light & Sound Board: MEGAN MALONEY
Producer: SUE NORDSTROM
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
In a modest apartment in Brooklyn, two college freshmen anxiously await the arrival of their special guest. Chris (Matthew Hansen) is introducing his new girlfriend Elizabeth (Kimberly Nordstrom) to his longtime buddy David (Cameron Clarke). Alas, their night of celebration is thwarted by the death of their drug dealer, a mysterious manuscript, and a diabolic plot. Or is it?
Paul Grellong’s MANUSCRIPT will gently keep you glued to every word in this black comedy twister. As the play begins, you find yourself wishing they would get on with it. The story rambles and propels and turns and catapults with amazing dexterity, and the actors are impressive in their abilities to keep up. With MANUSCRIPT’s surprise ending, you realize the plot has been unfolding since the first word, and you have been taken on the ultimate ride. Clever and entertaining.
Music by Kurt Weill
Libretto by Franz Werfel
Conductor and Director: Ted Sperling
Concert Adaptation by Ed Harsh
Accompanied by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Featuring: Anthony Dean Griffey, Mark Delavan, Ron Rifkin, Eli Tokash, AJ Glueckert, Lauren Michelle, Megan Marino, Justin Hopkins, Philip Cutlip, Sean Fallen, Jose Pietri-Coimbre
THE ROAD OF PROMISE is a 1937 collaboration of Kurt Weill’s music and Franz Werfel’s narrative on the plight of God’s chosen people and their centuries of persecution and their hopes for a promised land. This concert was performed by The Collegiate Chorale’s 200 member chorus, accompanied by St. Luke’s Orchestra led by Ted Sperling.
The story unfolds through a multitude of singing and speaking parts. It is set in a synagogue with four primary characters: the Rabbi, a thirteen year old (who knows nothing about his religion), a contrarian called The Adversary, and The Voice of God (who is piped in and never seen). It is the evening of the “timeless night of Israel’s persecution”. As the Rabbi attempts to teach the young boy about his Jewish faith, the Adversary steps in to challenge these beliefs at every turn. They are joined on stage by singers who bring the Rabbi’s stories of Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, Moses, David and others to life. The Rabbi enlightens the young boy in the hope that he will become a voice for their people. The scenes are sung with biblical art projected panoramically in the background.
The Collegiate Chorale was big and dramatic. Unfortunately, they were underused, since most of the music was allotted to soloists. The music, uninspiring at times, was a mesh of borrowed tunes, including opera, hit songs of the times, street tunes and traditional Jewish chant. The story, though not new to many of us, is always an interesting history lesson.
Several singers recanted the Old Testament stories in song, some more skillfully than others. However it was often difficult to decipher their words. Fortunately the projection on three panels of biblical art helped piece the story together, including drawings by Marc Chagall. Some of the text of the choral pieces and the Voice of God were also projected on the panels. Supertitling the soloists words would have significantly improved the experience. This was an ambitious and powerful performance that was likely most relevant to people of faith.
LUNT AND FONTANNE:
"THE CELESTIALS OF BROADWAY"
By MARK E. LANG
Directed by OWEN THOMPSON
Lynn Fontanne, et al............ALISON J. MURPHY
Alfred Lunt, et al.......................MARK EDWARD LANG
Costume Design: JESSA-RAYE COURT
Original Music: ANTHONY UVA
Sound Design: RICHARD FROHLICH
Lighting Consultant: COURTNEY MEGARO
Graphic Design: TBE DESIGN
Casting: DEBORAH BROWN
Stage Manager: KELSEY LANE DIES
Stage Left Studio
214 West 30th Street, NYC
Last Performance May 3rd.
LUNT AND FONTANNE: "THE CELESTIALS OF BROADWAY" were the most famous couple on Broadway in the first half of the twentieth century and were given the nickname the "celestials." A 21st century husband and wife team played the Lunts synonymous with a theatrical-marital partnership in which they joke that they've become the "Lunt and Fontanne of South Jersey".
The story is a tribute to this forgotten Broadway couple, an ode to acting, partnership, and marriage, and their undeniable love for the stage over Hollywood. Lynn Fontanne (Alison J. Murphy) and husband Alfred Lunt (Mark Edward Lang) embark on their journey from the 1920s through to the 1950s showcasing the highlights of their lives and matchless careers.
The play had a short run but the story about "The Celestials of Broadway" was interesting.
TWELFTH NIGHT or What You Will – DRINK
(part of the Fckin Up Shakespeare Series)
by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
April 12th at Poco (33 Avenue B at 3rd Street)
April 19th at Parkside Lounge (317 E. Houston Street).
April 26 & 27 at Cakeshop (152 Ludlow St. between Stanton and Rivington)
May 3 & 4 at Treehouse Theatre (154 W. 29th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues) May 10 & 11 at Lucky Jack’s (129 Orchard St. between Rivington and Delancy)
Peter Collier, Gina Doherty, Mike Maloney, Peter Marciano
Sarah Anne Miles, Kathleen O’Neal and Ben Sheedy
Emcee at the 5/4 production was J.P. Makowski
The premise, or, if you like, gimmick behind Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT as presented by LES Shakespeare’s Fckin Up Shakespeare Series is that an intoxicated actor and seven classically trained professionals perform the play with audience involvement, and many alcoholic beverages. Yes there is still a Viola, a Malvolio, etc. and the essence of the Shakespearean original, but if you come see this show, you will leave having learned less about classical literature and more about an original, bawdy way to stage a night of entertainment.
Do not look for sets or much in the way of props. There are some good costumes, and errant musical numbers, but this TWELFTH NIGHT is all about the comedy and fun.
Apparently, a drunk actor is selected at random for each show, so no two shows are alike. After seeing the May 4 performance, I wish I had the opportunity to see multiple performances for comparison.
Written by MICHAEL RICIGLIANO, JR.
Directed by JOHN GOULD RUBIN
Associate Producers: STEVE ACUNTO, MAX WYMAN, RIC ZIVIC
Production Stage Manager: ERIN CASS
Production Manager: LIBBY JENSEN
General Manager: CHERYL DENNIS
Company Manager: DAN GALLAGHER
Scenic Design: ANDREEA MINCIC
Costume Design: BOBBY FREDERICK TILLEY
Lighting Design: ISABELLA F. BYRD
Sound Design: LEON ROTHENBERG
Special Effects Design: ARIELLE TOELKE
Casting: JACK DOULIN + SHARKY CASTING
Fight Director: J. STEVEN WHITE
Marketing & Advertising: AMANDA BOHAN MARKETING
Press Representation: JT PUBLIC RELATIONS
Graphic Art Design: ACHILLES LAVIDIS
Theatre at St. Clement’s
423 West 46th Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
In a deserted warehouse bristling with hostility and distrust a clandestine meeting is taking place in Michael Ricigliano, Jr’s A QUEEN FOR A DAY. “Nino” (David Proval) and his lawyer (David Deblinger) are meeting with Patricia Cole (Portia) from the Federal Government to discuss the possibility of an immunity deal, also known as “Queen for a Day.” Anything Nino reveals in this meeting cannot be used against him, and the hope is that he will give up information on his crime boss brother Pasquale (Vincent Pastore). Richard O’Brien rounds out this fine cast as Sally “The Enforcer.”
The stakes are high. Nino could be going to jail if he can’t offer up useful details; his lawyer’s secret escrow account could be uncovered; and the future of the crime family and Pasquale could be forever changed. Despite a few stereotypical “mob” lines, these seasoned actors bring humor, irony, sarcasm, and pathos to their roles. Secrets are revealed, relationships are forged and torn asunder, and difficult decisions have to be made. Family is the name of this risky game. A QUEEN FOR A DAY sets the definition of family on its ear and keeps you guessing until the last minute.
Belarus Free Theatre’s TRASH CUISINE
Written by Nicolai Kahlezin and Natalia Kaliada
Directed by Nicolai Khalezin
Choreographer: Bridget Fiske
Stage and Costume Design; Nicolai Kahlezin and Natalia Kaliada
Composer and Musician: Arkadiy Yushin
Lighting Design: Andrew Crofts
Set Design: Yuri Kaliada
Ensemble: Victoria Biran, Pavel Haradnitski, Kiryl Kanstantsinau, Siarhei Kvachonak, Esther Mugami, Stephanie Pan, Maryia Sazonava, Phillipe Spall
Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
Through May 17, 2015
www.lamama.org or 646-430-5374.
TRASH CUISINE is political theatre done imaginatively. The Belarus Free Theatre company is incensed over the atrocities that continue in their homelands and across the globe and are on a mission to stop the insanity by spreading the word through theatre. This play melds art and politics in alarming ways that can jar your nerves as it makes a call to action for human rights.
Anglo-French actor Phillipe Spall, opens the show and invites us on a “culinary” tour around the world. The ensemble marries the culinary arts with brutality, specifically on the death penalty, waterboarding and persecution. And with just a few props, they manage to convey a variety of scenarios.
There are several vignettes and the first one opens with two female executioners from Thailand and Belarus, who compare electric chair killings while eating strawberries and cream, and sipping champagne. Other vignettes include: a Rwandan woman who describes how her husband carved up their children during the genocide while a chef sizzles “steak” nearby; a horrendous accounting of an electric chair incident in the US, mouthed by various diners at a restaurant; a man devouring an entire small bird, while describing how cruelly it was treated to prepare this delicacy. Thankfully, he had a napkin over his head, as he smacked his lips while crunching on the bones and recounting the bird’s treatment. There are references to Shakespeare throughout and tellings of actual unjust death penalty cases.
The vignettes are presented in rapid fire succession - with some creative choreography - but it doesn’t give you much time to grasp any one atrocity or injustice. Nonetheless, it is a brave undertaking to remind us of the world we live in. Belarus is the last European country with the death penalty. Belarus Free Theatre is a brave underground troupe whose goal is to raise awareness of the brutality of the dictatorship in their homeland. Their members have been imprisoned and some are living in exile.
These very talented, international cast members are a skillful, physical group. And the live music was wonderfully matched. This is a noble use of theatre to send a critical message.
Hosted by The Olmsted Salon
61 Gramercy Park North
April 24-May 16
Directed by Laura Savia
Written by Don NguyenFeaturing Nancy Sun, Karen Huie, Kim Wong, Creina House, Don Castro
In present day Vietnam, people living with HIV/AIDS are isolated and shunned. Mrs. Hue was infected by her heroin addicted husband. She tries to build a support group by inviting other women infected with the disease to live in her house. Adjusting to all the conflicting personalities while trying to summon the courage to fight for the treatment they need is difficult for this shy woman.
Don Nguyen’s RED FLAMBOYANT, tells the story of Mrs. Hue’s growth from victim to leader in this affecting play combining folk lore, storytelling and the relationships with her fellow sufferers.
When one walks into the space, the simple but artful design transports you to a small village in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the rest of the staging and design are more distracting than transporting. Because of the 360° staging, there was almost always a stage light glaring in my eyes. The shadow puppets (a great idea) were sloppily handled in some scenes, but worked well in others. The aerial work (another great idea) also was inconsistent and messy. Instead of being highly affecting, it often seemed as if the actors were just bouncing around for no reason.
The acting was also inconsistent, with the exception of Karen Huie as Mrs. Sau who was consistently strong.
I hope the play is given another, simpler staging, as I think it could be quite affecting. The real Mrs. Hue deserves a successful show to bring her story of heroism to a wider audience.
Starring: HAMISH ALLAN-HEADLEY, PATRICIA CONOLLY, ARIELLE HOFFMAN, KATE LYDIC, BILLY MELEADY
Scenic Design: JOHN MCDERMOTT
Costume Design: TERESE WADDEN
Lighting Design: JUSTIN TOWNSEND
Sound Design: DANIEL KLUGER
Projections: JEFF LARSON
Dialect Coach: STEPHEN GABIS
Fight Director: RICK SORDELET
Casting: DEBORAH BROWN
Production Stage Manager: CHRISTINE LEMME
Assistant Stage Manager: REBECCA C. MONROE
Press Representative: COYLE ENTERTAINMENT
The Irish Reportory Theatre Company
The Season in Union Square at the DR2 Theatre
103 East 15th Street
Opening Night: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Scheduled to run through June 7th.
THE BELLE OF BELFAST is a contemporary work focused on the Northern Irish experience in Belfast during 1985 when the centuries-old conflict was high between the Catholics and the Protestants and one of the most contentious and defining conflicts of the twentieth century. However, the story is told in a poignantly, funny way with wonderful Irish humor.
It opens in a confessional with an elderly woman, Emma (Patricia Conolly) asking her parish priest, Father Ben Reilly (Hamish Allan-Headley) to absolve her sins but drinking is not a sin and he sends her away with four Hail Marys. Next, a fiery and profane young woman, Anne (Kate Lydic) confesses her sins and then, meets up with her school mate, Ciara (Arielle Hoffman) and they discuss what normal seventeen year olds would do--love, secrets, boys, drugs, alcohol, and Ciara's weakness for curry chips. Emma turns out to be Anne's crazy great aunt who's often had a few too many drinks and they both end up quite often in the confessional with the handsome Father Reilly at different times unbeknowst to the other. The story unfolds with the unimaginable happening intertwined with the after effects of the Belfast bombings as the senior priest, Father Dermott Behan (Billy Melaeady), although an old, drunken priest turns out to be quite wise and gives sage advice to the much younger Father Reilly. Twists and turns abound and it's really a delight to watch. Overall, it's a wry, witty, and bittersweet portrayal of a select group of people in a city at war.
I'd highly recommend to see THE BELLE OF BELFAST produced by The Irish Repertory Theatre and presented at the DR2 Theatre in Union Square.
Sonnet Repertory Theare, Inc.
Teatro Lateo at The Clemente Center
107 Suffolk Street, Second Floor, NY NY 10002
April 18-May 2
Featuring Kareem M. Lucas, Leanne Borghesi, Brian D. Coats, Jessie Shelton, Adrian Blake Enscoe, Ronald Alexander Peet, Jeff Burchfield, and Jeff Burchfield.
Commedia Dell’Arte sounds stuffy and old-fashioned: tired, old stereotypes in tired, old situations. How delightful, then, to experience The Sonnet Repertory Theatre’s production of THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS. This adaptation by Nicolas Minas joyfully brings contemporary attitudes, language, and especially, physicality to this classic piece.
The cast is bursting with talent and creativity, singing, dancing, playing instruments and acting in broad, comedic style. It starts with the actors wandering about with the audience, stopping to chat or sing a tune, like common street/subway performers. I don’t usually enjoy audience participation, but the sense of fun was so infectious, everyone happily played along. Once the show gets going, there’s barely a moment for breath. A few of the scenes were a little messy, but so much is going on at such a breakneck speed, that the little fluffs are easily forgivable.
The entire cast is multi-talented and so much fun to watch. Especially charming was Kareem M. Lucas in the non-stop role of the sweetly conniving servant, Truffaldino; Adrian Blake Enscoe and Jessie Shelton as the overwrought ingénue lovers; and Leanne Borghesi as a modern Mae West of a lady’s maid. THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS is truly a delightful evening of theater.
West End Theater at the Church of St. John and St. Andrew
263 West 86th St.
Sotero works at his father’s failing bodega in the South Bronx. Hardly any customers come in except for Sotero’s friend Manny and Manny’s sister, Alcidia (who never pay). Sotero would like his father to sell out to the corporate organic market that is buying up the neighborhood, but his father wants to hold out for an economic recovery. Complicating this already fraught relationship is Sotero’s stepmother, Laluz who is hot for her stepson.
Combining today’s political and economic climate with magical realism, COMIDA DE PUTA is a fascinating play. The production combines a terrific set design with previously shot video (at times very effective, other times distracting), an onstage drummer, and a mostly excellent cast. Standouts are Marcos Sotomayor as the Greek Chorus/best friend, Manny, and Alex R. Hernandez as the gentle, sensitive, yet hunky Sotero. A little judicious trimming of the script and two stronger actresses as Laluz and Rosalia would make this a piece that could really go somewhere, however, it is well worth seeing as is.
- Jean Tait -
151 West 46th Street (between Seventh & Sixth Avenues)
April 10-11, 17-18, 23-26 @ 7 PM; April 19 @ 3 PM; Opening Night – 04/10/15
What if you held a church service and nobody showed up? What’s a priest and 3 nuns to do? This is one of the many dilemmas of The Krumple’s GO TO SLEEP, GODDAMNIT! Burning down the church, an Amazon shopping spree, resurrecting an ancient computer, and rearranging the inhabitants of Noah’s Ark are just a few of the plots that unfold in this highly entertaining play.
With immobile masks and zany hair, not a single word is spoken by the characters. And yet you are never confused about their reactions and their intentions. It’s all in the body movement, and through this unconventional language you will be encouraged to laugh and also to poignantly share in their consternation over obsolete missions. The international GO TO SLEEP, GODDAMNIT! Is a truly unique theatre experience. Check it out.
PAUL NUGENT, STEPHANE DURET, BOB JAFFE
JACK O’CONNELL, JUDY ROSENBLATT, JOHN CHARLES McLAUGHLIN
Directed by KIRA SIMRING
Production Designer: GERTJAN HOUBEN
Costume Design: SIENA ZOE ALLEN
Sound Design: CHARLES MUELLER
Stage Manager/Production Manager: MACKENZIE MEEKS
Assistant Stage Manager/Assistant Production Designer: CHRIS STECKEL
Assistant Director: BIRAN REAGER
General Manager: SULEI JONES-LY
Press Agent: RON LASKO, SPIN CYCLE
338 West 23rd Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
800-838-3006 or www.thecelltheatre.org
April 4 -25; Opening Night – 04/09/15
For those of you who consider your dogs as little people, your sentiments have been verified in Marianne Driscoll’s THE BISCUIT CLUB. This delightful comedy takes place at Bradley’s Bed and Biscuit and lets you know just what your canine buddy is up to when you’re not around. You will meet a lovable aging Bulldog (Jack O’Connell), a once-glamorous Shih Tzu (Judy Rosenblatt), a snooty Airedale Terrier (Paul Nugent), a well-trained Beagle (Stephane Duret), an energetic Labrador puppy (John Charles McLaughlin), and a bark-is-louder-than-his-bite Pit Bull (Bob Jaffe). Together this talented ensemble skillfully portray endearing pooch personalities that will have you wanting to scratch the actors’ heads and rub behind their ears.
Very clever writing, plenty of sophisticated humor, a bit of philosophy from a dog’s perspective, and even a little dancing make you want to join THE BISCUIT CLUB. Someone let the dogs out and a great time is had by all.
JOHN TREACY EGAN, KARA GUY, DALE HENSLEY, VERONICA J. KUEHN
ROB RICHARDSON, GRETCHEN WYLDER, KEVIN ZAK
And JUDY GOLD
Directed and Choreographed by DAN KNECHTGES
Scenic Design by BEDWULF BORITT
Costume Design by DVAID WOOLARD
Lighting Design by PAUL MILLER
Sound Design by PETER FITZGERALD
Hair and Wig Design by TOM WASON
Orchestrations by NEIL DOUGLAS REILLY
Music Director/Arranger: JAMES DOBINSON
Publicity by JTPR/JOE TRENTACOSTA
Advertising by AKA
Marketing by RED RISING MARKETING
Casting by TARA RUBIN CASTING (Kaitlin Shaw, CSA)
Production Company: TINC PRODUCTIONS
Production Stage Manager: MICHAEL RICO COHEN
Company Manager: LIZ ULMER
General Manager: RYAN CONWAY, DTE MANAGEMENT
Stage 4 at New World Stages
340 West 50th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
Opening April 9, 2015
Paul Hodge and Michael Hodge have taken history that was already turned on its ear and placed a big golden hoop through its sexy lobe with CLINTON THE MUSICAL. Wherever there was to go – and there were many places, such as Monica Lewinsky, White Water scandals, blue dresses with stains, Kenneth Starr lawsuits, Newt Gingrich blockades, balanced budgets, and even Eleanor Roosevelt – they went there. And a fine time was had by all.
The multi-talented cast includes Tony Award nominee Kerry Butler as Hillary, Tom Galantich and Duke Lafoon as President Clinton, and Emmy Award winner Judy Gold as Eleanor Roosevelt. John Treacy Egan as Newt Gingrich and Kevin Zak as Kenneth Starr steal a couple of scenes while Kara Guy, Dale Hensley, Veronica J. Kuehn, Rob Richardson and Gretchen Wylder inject their unique flair into this artistic mix.
The songs are catchy, the writing is creative, the humor is sophisticated, the sarcasm is sharp, and the characters are lovably crazy. Throw in some innovative choreography, mucho sexual innuendos, and a little retrospective wisdom, and this becomes a piece of comedy heaven. The good ole days have never been better! Treat yourself to a CLINTON THE MUSICAL ticket and put your politics into their proper perspective – fodder for hilarious theatre.
Directed by Jonathan Kane
Taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie
Edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner
Performed by Charlotte Hemmings
On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, a twenty-three-year-old American, was killed in Gaza as she was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE is a one-woman play composed from Rachel’s own journals, letters and emails, edited together by Alan Rickman (better known as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies) and Katherine Viner (Editor in Chief of The Guardian in the US).
No matter what the subject matter is, there is no easy way for one single person to hold an audiences’ attention for 90 minutes. With very little changing of the set or costumes or lighting, it is incumbent on the actress to create variety in a one-woman show. Unfortunately, in this production of MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE, neither the actress nor the direction have much variety. Every diary entry, email or phone message is told with the same energy, volume and pacing. What should build dramatically to a heartbreaking finale merely goes to the obvious conclusion and finishes with a sense of relief that it is over.
It’s really too bad, because the subject matter is important, and the show should lead to much discussion, but the drama completely fails to inspire.
Starring: JEANINE BARTEL, JIMMY BETTS, DANIELLE BOIVIN,
HEATHER E. CUNNINGHAM, MEGHAN JONES, CHRISTINA TOTH, RICK ZAHN
Scenic Designer: KYU SHIN
Sound Designer: ANDY EVAN COHEN
Costume Designer: DEBBI HOBSON
Stage Manager: LAURA MALSEED
Publicist: BUNCH OF PEOPLE PROD.
Assistant Stage Manager: KIM FLORES
Props Master: GREG KANYICSKA
Fight Choreographer: JIMMY BETTS
Dramaturgy: JANET BENTLEY
Management Consultant: FORM THEATRICALS
(ANTHONY FRANCAVILLA & ZACHARY LAKS)
Nylon Fusion Theatre Company
Theatre 54, located at 244West 54th Street
April 2 - 18
UNMENTIONABLES is a story depicting life in Hollywood in 1937 with undercurrents of another possible war looming on the horizon in Europe. However, the essence of the story revolves around top talent agent and lawyer James Johnson (Rick Zahn) and his top film star Joan Madison (Jeanine Bartel) scheming to land the biggest deal of his life securing starring roles for his long time yet aging client. But Joan has secret plans of her own and something secretive about James has been revealed that could ruin his career. His office assistants are caught up in messy office politics and scandals and Gertie Fowler (Meghan E. Jones) is blackmailed to find the culprit because she's savvy to the secrets that are more than skin deep. Many truths are revealed and it's a bittersweet ending.
If you're interested in scandalous stories with a bit of humor about Hollywood in the late 1930s, then I'd recommend to see UNMENTIONABLES at Nylon Fusion Theatre Company.
Manhattan Shakespeare Project
Access Theatre Gallery
380 Broadway, NY NY
April 1-5: Performances at 8:00pm
Conceived and Performed by Sarah Eismann and Amanda Boekelheide
According to the press release, MACBETH: The Unsex Me Here Project is a fast paced, high flying take on William Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play” where the gender of the actor’s playing the iconic characters of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Duncan, the Witches, etc., is up-in-the-air. Each night the audience will have the ability to decide the gender of each of the characters, thereby making conscience (sic) what is unconscious about gender constructs - one of Manhattan Shakespeare Project’s primary goals as a company.”
That sounds like an interesting and involving experiment; however, this production is not. Uncomfortably working around the audience, and sometimes giving out “nametags” of characters to audience members, but not really asking them to participate in any meaningful way, this production of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play is mainly performed by two actresses playing multiple roles. Confusingly, since the two women are the only ones onstage, sometimes roles are read by two actors sitting in the corner using scripts. The whole production felt like an extremely self indulgent project put together by the two conceiving actresses.
The idea of playing with gender for Shakespeare’s plays is not a bad idea. It was brilliantly done with the Donmar production of Julius Caesar. Manhattan Shakespeare’s production might work in a teaching environment, using students in some roles, but in this case, it does not work as a staged production, especially asking audiences to pay for it.
It should also be noted that the Access Theatre Gallery is a fourth-floor walkup, which means it is not handicap accessible.
145 Sixth Avenue, NY NY 10013
March 24-April 19: Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:30 pm and Sundays at 4 pm
Directed by Lucie Tiberghien
Written by Rehana Lew Mirza
Featuring Kaliswa Brewster, Cleo Gray, Jared McNeill, Turna Mete and Carolyn Michelle Smith
MA-YI is a Drama Desk and OBIE Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers. SOLDIER X is the most recent result of that mission, and a highly successful one at that. Well written, directed, designed and acted, this story of a mixed race military social worker, an African American soldier newly returned from Afghanistan and the Muslim girl he loves is a terrific and explosive combination of souls.
The pacing was a bit off in the last act, but that was probably first night shakiness, and will probably smooth out, but that is a nitpick in an otherwise a wonderful production, All the performers were very good, however Carolyn Michelle Smith was especially outstanding as the troublesome patient of social worker, Monica. In one of the smaller parts of the play, Ms. Smith is riveting.
Directed by COURTNEY ULRICH
Written by CORY FINLEY
Featuring THE BATS: IVAN DOLIDO, MARLOWE HOLDEN, DONALDO PRESCOD
41 White Street, NY NY 10013
March 4-April 5
The downstairs performance space at The Flea is an odd little space. Seating only 40 people, the audience is along the long side of a long, skinny space. This means the audience is quite close to the performers, and director has to keep the actors moving from side to side without making the characters just look as if they are pacing. Watching director Courtney Ulrich’s clever staging is a delight. She keeps THE FEAST fast paced, although one could wish for a little more depth in the script.
Ivan Dolido is Matt, an artist who doesn’t seem to be able to face his doubts about his relationship, but mysterious forces, based in his toilet (!) are at work to force him to. Marlowe Holden is lovely as his girlfriend, and Donaldo Prescod is a dynamic presence in multiple other roles.
This short play (50 minutes) builds nicely until the end, when it runs out of steam a bit. Despite the fun visual effects, the “surprises” fall a little flat. However, all involved are worth watching for in future projects.
Directed by CHERYL KING
Technical Director: MICHAEL LYNCH
Lighting Design: ALEX CHMAJ
Set: CINDY THOMPSON
Stage Left Studio
214 West 30th Street (between Seventh & Eighth Avenues)
March 12-21, 2015
Creativity overflows in Steve Underwood’s HD multi-media UNDERWATER GUY. A masterful blend of underwater photography, narrative travel journal, and autobiography, Underwood displays his almost-sacred appreciation of water and how it played various monumental roles in his life. In between the humor he laces a few fascinating facts about water and a few poignant anecdotes about his personal development as a human who spends much of his time in water. He enhances his folksy, down-to-earth nature with singing and dancing, and his acting abilities are pretty impressive also – the recounting of his first 100+ feet dive will leave you breathless. Director Cheryl King provides the perfect pace of Underwood and multi-media providing easy immersion into this unique process.
UNDERWATER GUY will have you booking tickets to your favorite island or at least visiting the pool in your gym just so you can replicate the experience of this show. Fun and innovative!
Fight Direction and Choreography: JACK McKEANE
Sound Design: CHERLY KING and ALEX CHMAJ
Technical Director: ALEX CHMAJ
Saracen Costume Design: KC WEAKLEY
Set Design: CHUCK McALEXANDER
Door Construction and Assistance: JEREMIAH BROWN
Song "Uamh An Oir" by Talitha MacKenzie
13th Street Repertory Theater
50 West 13th Street, New York City
For information, contact Cheryl King at
February 18, 19, 25, March 2 & 11, 2015
Jack McKeane's ANTIOCH: SKIRMISH AT THE GATES is a new play, 50 minutes long, about an age long conflict that began during the Crusades between a Christian Crusader, Ronan (Jack McKeane), and a Muslim Saracen Warrior, Youssef (Ali Sattar) at the gates of heaven. It's a never ending duel whereby Ronan and Youssef engage in sword fighting with fast, sharp techniques combined with flowing, deep and acrobatic moves. The two warriors are later joined by a modern day American Soldier, John (Alex Mahgoub) killed in the Iraqi war.
When Ronan and Youssef aren't fighting, Ronan helps John who is also a Christian figure out where he is and in return, John helps Ronan and Youssef figure out how to enter the gates of heaven which proves to be a big mystery difficult to solve. Each of them needs to prove they're worthy to enter the doorway to heaven. John is too tormented and disappears into no man's land while the Christian and Muslim battle it out until they resolve their karma and figure out if it's possible to be a warrior and be free of sin.
It's an interesting take on values and mores across time and how one resolves to enter the gate of heaven.
Pity the play had such a short run as it was entertaining with impactful meaning.
JOHN DiFUSCO, LISA THAYER, PHIL DONLON, DANA KELLY
MONA LEE WYLDE, TOM GROENWALD, TANYA STARCEVICH
Set Designer: JARET SACREY
Lighting, Sound Designer: JOE MORRISSEY
Costumes: MICHAELYN WHITLOCK
Production Manager: ABBEY BAY
Play Revisions: JOHN STARK and RUTH MARIENEE
312 West 36th Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
(212) 868-5252 or www.Smarttix.com
March 4 – 20, 2015; Opening 03/07/15
Long Day’s Journey Into Night may perhaps be the most impressive play ever written by Eugene O’Neill, and its autobiographical qualities made the playwright request that it not be presented until after his death. John Stark’s production of Jovanka Bach’s O’NEILL’S GHOSTS deals with the creative genius behind this monumental play and the demons that fueled it.
As O’Neill (marvelously portrayed by the multi-award winning John DiFusco) puts pen to paper, he is visited by his overwhelmed father (Dana Kelly), his drug-addicted mother (Mona Lee Wylde), and his alcoholic brother (Tom Groenwald), as well as being haunted by the death of a younger brother. His wife Carlotta (Lisa Thayer) and son (Phil Donton) add to his daily strife, and even the maid Maud (Tanya Starcevich) has her moments. This stellar cast depicts a familial history of blame and accusation, guilt and remorse, brilliance and madness, competition and celebrity, and troubled souls doing the best they can to survive. As we celebrate the genius of O’Neill, we can only hope that writing about his traumatic life put to rest or at least quieted down O’NEILL’S GHOSTS.
46 Walker Street, NY NY 10013
Monday, Feb 23rd at 7:00pm
Monday, March 2nd at 7:00pm
Sunday, March 8th at 2:00pm
Monday, March 9th at 7:00pm
Who is Jennie Gourlay, and why should I care about her benefit, you may well ask. Jennie was a 19th Century actress who happened to be on stage at Ford’s Theatre the night Abraham Lincoln was shot. She was not the star that night. That night it was Laura Keene. However, Jennie’s big starring night was scheduled for the following night, which never happened due to the President’s assassination.
During a historical tour of Ford’s Theatre, performer Billy Hipkins happened upon the playbill for this evening that never took place and began to wonder about the actress whose life was so irrevocably altered. An obsession was born.
Hipkins is a charming and humorous performer who draws the audience in as he tells the story of Jennie Gourlay and some of his own story as well. The show flies by in a very short 70 minutes. For the March 2nd performance, there was a talk back that every single audience member stayed for. Everyone wanted more of this delightful show. Give yourself a treat and check it out!
by William ShakespeareDirected by Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican
Starring Ian Moses Eaton, Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican
In our “post racial” country with an African-American president, racism and bigotry are alive and thriving, sadly making OTHELLO as relevant as ever. Choosing to take a bite out of such a meaty chunk of theatre is a risky choice, and certainly not easy, so it is especially courageous for a young theatre company to attempt it.
The Seeing Place Theatre has made just such an attempt, not entirely unsuccessfully. Although a little young for the part, Ian Moses Eaton makes a fine Othello. Give him another crack at it in 15 years, and he just might be amazing. Co-director Erin Cronican is very good as Desdemona, with a modern demeanor that never conflicts with the language, but enriches it.
Sadly, her co-director Brandon Walker is not so good as Iago. His scattered performance and complete lack of any sort of relationship with Emilia makes the show feel sloppy.
The constant business of all the actors added to that sloppiness. There was much unnecessary action, especially all the slamming down of bottles and glasses, and it was horribly distracting when in Othello’s final monologue, another character was noisily folding up paper. Things that would be small or unnoticeable distractions on a large stage with a proscenium separating the audience can loom large in such a tiny space.
However, the small space was extremely well utilized by the production design (also by Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican) and lighting by Duane Pagano. For such a small group, The Seeing Place Theatre has a lot of talent, potential and enthusiasm.
Book and Lyrics by ELIZABETH SWADOS and ERIN COURTNEY
Composed and Directed by ELIZABETH SWADOS
Featuring the Bats: KYRA ATEKWANA, TOMMY BERNARDI, SYDNEY BLAXILL, MATTHEW BOVEE, GLENNA GRANT, RYAN NEAL GREEN, MICHAEL LAPINSKY, TERI MADONNA, MIKE NELSON, NEIL REDFIELD, DAVE RESULTAN, BEN SCHRAGER, RYAN STINNETT
Musical Direction by TREVOR BACHMAN
Musical Arrangements by KRIS KUKUL
Set, Props, Costume and Puppet Design by LYDIA FINE
Lighting Design: DAISY LONG
Sound Designer: JANIE BULLARD
The Flea Theater
41 White Street in TriBeCa, 3 blocks below Canal Street between Broadway and Church Street
Call 212-352-3101 or visit http://www.theflea.org
February 19 - April 6
Elizabeth Swados and Erin Courtney's THE NOMAD is a musical based on the true story of writer and journalist, Isabelle Eberhardt (1877 -1904) who lived the life she wanted to live in an era where women's desires were more or less suppressed. She dreamt of living an adventurous life in the Sahara, converted to the Muslim religion, and dressed like a man to give her freedom to travel and work. In Algiers, Isabelle associated with the French colonists as well as advocated for the rights of the disenfranchised citizens who were being occupied by the foreign power. In short, Isabelle was a rebel and she desired to live by her own rules.
The Flea is known for its theatrical productions overcoming boundaries and this performance was filled with energy. Isabelle (Teri Madonna) acted and sang with tremendous force backed by the talented Bats Ensemble. I think there were some superfluous acts but was impressed with the puppetry (Lydia Fine) and how the cast ingeniously used the props on the set. The music transported you to accompany Isabelle on her journey through the Saharan desert where her quest was joined by holy men, kief smokers, spies, soldiers and tribes of nomads. Sometimes, I thought the portrayal of the Arabs a bit stereotypical but not enough to be offensive.
It's the first desert musical I've seen and if you're interested in this young rebellious iconoclast's true life story, then I'd recommend to see The Nomad at The Flea Theater.
STEPHANIE NICOLE KELLEY, DEANNA GIBSON, KERRY FRANCES, EVAN ZIMMERMAN
JACKSON THOMPSON, BRANDON BEILIS, BRANISLAV TOMICH, NICK BOMBICINO
Directed by KATHLEEN BUTLER
Costumer and Prop Design: JAMIE NICOLE LARSON
Sound Design: SAM KUSNETZ
Lighting Design: ALANA JACOBY
Fight Director: CHRIS MICHAEL BURKE
Production Stage Manager: JACK GIANINO
Stage Manager: DUSTIN Z. WEST
Marketing & PR: KAMPFIRE PR
Artwork: THOMAS PARKES
Graphic Design: MIRROR IMAGE
Promotional Photography: JAMIE NICOLE LARSON
Casting Director: ERICA PALGON
Studio Theatre at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
February 26 – March 14; Opening Night – 02/28/15
Somewhere in the imaginary town of Aviano, Italy, on a day like no other in the past, the three daughters of Di Lirio (Branislav Tomich) have all received proposals of marriage. Middle daughter Marina (Stephanie Nicole Kelley) and her timid suitor (Brandon Beilis) along with eldest daughter Terresa (Deanna Gibson) and her serious suitor (Evan Zimmerman) await the approval of their father. Youngest daughter Cellia (Kerry Frances) has a more complicated situation with two potential husbands vying for her hand (Nick Bombicino, Jackson Thompson). But Di Lirio who suffers from a “gentle madness,” must consult with his wife before any decision can be made.
Nicholas Korn’s DELIRIUM’S DAUGHTERS is a fun romp through madcap schemes, delusional dreams, and capricious characters. Egged on by mischievous Giovio (Bombicino), the suitors jump through many hilarious hoops to win the hands of the fair maidens. With high-spirited energy, much pomp and circumstance, and a touch of melodrama, romance runs rampant through the twists and turns of DELIRIUM’S DAUGHTERS. Kudos to the splendid cast for keeping up with all the insanity.
Girl Be Heard and Human Rights Watch presents a world premiere collaboration:
A joint production of Girl Be Heard and Human Rights Watch, BREAKING THE SILENCE is an advocacy piece using the words of real girls and women, all survivors, telling their stories of rape, abuse, forced marriage and genital mutilation. The stories are powerful and the women who tell them are talented storytellers (some more than others).
Unfortunately, as a piece of theatre, it was under-rehearsed and sloppy, which distracted from the piece, diluting is effectiveness. Some actors had memorized, and some were reading. Transitions from one scene to the next were clunky. It would have been much more moving without the awkward choreography and staging. Telling the stories simply, just sitting in chairs with music stands to hold their scripts would have made their monologues much stronger.
And in a piece entitled Girls Be Heard, why were there men speaking? There were two male actors. Most of their monologues were about the importance of listening to women’s’ voices, but it just seemed patronizing for them to be telling the audience, who were there to listen, that they should be listening.
This is a piece that should be powerful and moving, and the stories of these women and girls do need to be heard. Let’s hope they smooth out the production, and get the stories to a larger audience.
Directed by JOHN KEATING
Stage Manager: MACKENZIE MEEKS
Lighting Designer: GERTJAN HOUBEN
Sound Designer: M. FLORIAN STAAB
Photography: CAROL ROSEGG
Graphic Design: AMY McLERAN
Pre-show music: The Chieftans, and "Sweet Ellen" composed by Mary Crehan, arranged and performed by Daniel Angioli
338 West 23rd Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
February 11-28, 2015; Opening Night -02/11/15
Brona Crehan's PILLOW ON THE STAIRS is a play about love, innocence, denial, and betrayal. A slice of life in Dublin, Ireland that connects three people for a lifetime but all is not rosy. The starting point of the story revolves around the question--what would your life have been like if you made one decision differently.
A minimalist stage setting. Three chairs. Three actors. It was like a stage reading but their unique point of views expressed poignantly one at a time, the others not knowing their counterpoints side of the story. This format deeply engaged the audience one character at a time.
Annie (Brona Crehan) jilted her boyfriend, Jim (John McConnell), who wanted to marry her. His rebound lover, Margaret (Jaqueline Kealy) ends up getting pregnant and is coerced by Jim to what would be the right thing to do morally, or so they both thought. Haunted by this one decision for the rest of their lives and the consequences on their subsequent partners, they delve into the world of secrets, denials, and betrayal of trust.
This story gives insight into the realities of everyday relationships and ends up leaving the audience in suspense as another twist to the intrigue has been revealed. The plays ends and the audience stays thinking there is another act after the intermission but no this is where the story ends leaving it up to the audience's imagination as to how the characters continue their lives. I'd recommend seeing Pillow on the Stairs in the quaint theatre setting of the cell.
JENN AEDO, JOHN CARIANA, RACHEL GEISLER, JUSTIN HAGAN, SIMONE HARRISON
STEPHANIE ISRAELSON, JOLINA JAVIER, SCHUYLER MIDGETT, DEBARGO SANYAL and DEE ROSCIOLI
Directed by CHRIS HENRY
Movement Direction by JOANN M. HUNTER
Produced by EVAN STOREY and ANDY THEODOROU
Original Music and Lyrics by CHRIS HENRY, BARTON KUEBLER, LARS JACOBSEN
Arrangements by BARTON KUEBLER
Set Design: SHANNON REDNOUR
Lighting Design: LUCRECIA BRICENO
Sound Design: DANNY ERDBERG
Costume Design: LUX HAAC
Production Stage Manager: ADRIAN PENA
Assistant Stage Manager: MEGAN HARRIS
General Management: PERRY STREET THEATRICALS
Press Agent: JT PR
The Royal Family Performing Arts Space
145 West 46th Street (between Seventh & Sixth Avenues)
February 6 – 26; Opening Night – 02/09/15
In nine sublime scenarios John Cariani has nailed the many faces of love in his play LOVE/SICK. From Obsessive/Impulsive disorders and singing telegrams to hysterical blindness/deafness and games to relieve boredom, he covers the gamut of relationship insanity. Couples meet, break up, marry, cheat on each other, contemplate parenthood, divorce, and reconnect with themselves. Cariani (who stepped in when actor Justin Hagan was injured), Simone Harrison, Debargo Sanyal, and Dee Roscioli do a fantastic job of portraying the various and sundry couples within these cycles of affairs. A lively bunch of SuperCenter girls (Jenn Aedo, Rachel Geisler, Stephanie Israelson, Jolina Javier, and Schuyler Midgett) provide backup singing and dancing as the cycles change while creating some of the most engaging set changes ever.
Cariani utilizes unique techniques to obtain catch-you-when-you’re-least-expecting-it humor. Dialogue harmony, innovative blindfolds, one-of-a-kind impairments, and casual confessions accompany genuinely funny dialogue keeping the audience fully engaged throughout the 90 minutes. LOVE/SICK is a definite winner and a true example of why the show must go on.
by BILL MANHOFF
Directed by TYLER ONASSIS
January 26 and 28, February 2 and 4, 2015
Producers Club Royal Theatre
358 W. 44th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues
Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com
Bill Manhoff’s THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT is billed as a classic comedy, but it is difficult to see how either label fits this particular play, or to imagine that this work ran to acclaim when it first appeared on Broadway in 1964 (starring Diana Sands and Alan Alda). There is very little humor in the production, and rather than having a timeless quality, the writing and the premise feel dated and strained.
The set-up for THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT is the unlikely pairing of model/actress and sometimes prostitute Doris, and bookstore employee/struggling writer Felix. After getting Doris kicked out of her apartment by reporting her illicit activities to her landlord, Felix wakes to find an angry Doris banging on the door. She ends up spending the night, and a tumultuous relationship begins. In spite of Felix’s repeated demands that he wants her to go, Doris refuses to leave. When she eventually does move on, Felix seemingly becomes an unstable wreck and an alcoholic overnight, and the two continue to enter and leave each other’s lives.
Hearing the lines as delivered by the actors, there is no spark to explain why these two are together, or why anyone in the audience should care. There is clearly potential in the words for wit and banter, but that unfortunately too often comes across as rancor and cynicism. Felix’s moral righteousness and verbal venom are tedious, and Doris’ willingness to be degraded by him, certainly meant to be played to show her intelligence and ability to manipulate him, never quite rise to the level where the character seems much more than his doormat.
The venue did not aid in the success of this production of THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT. Aside from loud noise emanating from an adjacent space, the limited backstage area, really just a space behind a curtain against the back wall, was not fully blocked, so shadows of actors between scenes were visible. On at least one occasion cast or crew conversation was audible from the audience, and it was clear that the actors were having trouble navigating the space every time the lights were lowered. Adding to that, the temperature inside the Royal Theatre at the Producers Club was so cold that nearly everyone in the audience wore their coats for the entirety of the evening. No one seemed to be in much of a laughing mood, even the few times there was something on stage that warranted it.
- Kessa De Santis -
BRITANNIE BOND, MARY C. DAVIS, KELSEY DIDION, JONATHAN HORVATH, JORDAN KAPLAN
JAMES LUSE, PATRICIA LYNN, LARRY PHILLIPS, and NEAL TUCKER
Directed by JACOB TITUS
Stage Manager: JESSICA PECHARSKY
Lighting Designer: YI-CHUNG CHEN
Sound Designer: DANA HAYNES
Dialect Coach: MATTHEW ELLIS MURPHY
Magic Consultant: NATE DENDY
Movement Coordinator: ELI SIBLEY
357 West 36th Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
January 29 – February 15, 2015; Opening Night -01/30/15
Philip Barry’s THE ANIMAL KINGDOM is a play about relationships and integrity. Tom (Jordan Kaplan) has decided to settle down in the life to which he was born. He is to marry the respected Cecelia (Kelsey Didion) much to the pleasure of his estranged father (James Luse) and best friend (Jonathan Horvath). They will reside in the family estate in Connecticut and Tom will write books with great selling ability. Sounds perfect, right? Ah, but in order to do this, Tom must leave behind his long-time lover Daisy (Patricia Lynn) and friends Joe (Neal Tucker) and Franc (Britannie Bond). He must even sacrifice his former-boxer-now-butler (scene-stealer Larry Phillips). And as Tom begins to play by the rules set forth, so begins his struggle with what he truly wants versus what he should do.
The Hunger & Thirst Theatre Collective presents this 1932 work with honor. Keeping with the times in which it was written, conversation is a bit stilted, morals are constricting, gender roles are firmly defined, and the path to success is straight and narrow. The actors do a wonderful job of portraying the complexity of the characters amidst the pull and tug of human instincts. Mary C. Davis rounds out this splendid cast as the proper Connecticut lady. In the end we are all part of THE ANIMAL KINGDOM challenged by what our inner voices demand. How and why we make choices determine the course of our lives.
Written by Hugh Leonard
Directed by Charlotte Moore
Scenic Design: James Morgan
Costume Design: Linda Fisher
Lighting Design: Michael Gottlieb
Sound Design: Zach Williamson
Featuring: Sean Gormley, Kristin Griffith, John Keating, Nicola Murphy, Paul O’Brien, Ciaran O’Reilly, Adam Petherbridge, Fiana Toibin
Irish Repertory Theatre at the DR2 Theatre
103 East 15th Street
Through March 8, 2015
His Da has passed away and Charlie comes home to bury him and settle his affairs. While home in Dublin for the funeral, Charlie is haunted by his father and childhood memories. While in his father’s home, he encounters the ghosts of his past - including his young self, played by Ciaran O'Reilly - and those of his present.
Charlie cannot shake his father out of his head. And even in death, Da is still the careless, comical, ignorant man that frustrates him to no end. He is a simple man and works as a gardener for a wealthy family, whom he lets take advantage of him. Da is an uninformed Nazi supporter because he doesn’t like England. But Charlie comes to realize that his father truly loved him.
In these flashbacks, his mother blurts out to a prospective employer that Charlie is adopted, as she looks for praise for her good deed. She is at times mean and demeaning to both Charlie and his father.
Charlie is visited by his childhood friend Oliver and they begin to reminisce about their youth, including when Charlie cozied up to a girl with a bad reputation, only to have his Da walk by and put a damper on his plans. His final visitor is his former employer, who delivers his father’s will and a frustrating surprise for Charlie.
The adult Charlie frequently instructs young Charlie in his behavior, and vice versa - a reminder that we are constant critics of our selves and our own worst enemies.
It’s a play about dealing with past relationships, how they affect you and are so much a part of you. He knows his father will never leave him.
Written by Tom Diggs
Directed by Alexander Greenfield
Scenic Design: Jason Sherwood
Costume Design: Travis Alexandra Boatright
Lighting Design: Carl Wiemann
Original Music: Michael Finke
244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor
Through February 1, 2015
This is a clouded telling of a “conflict” that is not identified. In this anonymous country, people are forced to live meager existences, unless they “sign” and join “them”. They are pawns in a time of war. To survive, many are forced to partake in unspeakable and unknowing atrocities.
The play has its share of desperation, anxiety and downright screeching. Tara and Oliver are forced into service, and hide away in the woods, being careful not to be seen. They cook with bark and forage whatever else the forest can provide.
At Tara’s constant badgering, Oliver finally gains employment in town, supposedly cleaning. Tara tries to recoup from an unknown illness, and Oliver insists he can provide. He comes home reeking of a putrid odor with blood on his work clothes. But they are living more abundantly, with real food on the table and material things, likely stolen from the people sabotaged by “them”. Tara gets better and is determined to also work. Oliver doesn’t talk about his work, obviously hiding something about the nature of the job. She goes against his wishes and enlists with the “cleaning company”. She soon learns what the job really is and she has a breakdown.
The conflict ends and the shell-shocked couple try to make sense of their lives and their future. This is a story about war and what it does to people. Under the thumb of a tyrannical government, poor citizens are faced with existential decisions, like participating in inhumane acts to eek out a living, or to live with integrity. It’s a tough choice for some.
354 West 54th Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
(212) 888-4444 or www.SmartTix.com
January 16 – February 8; Opening Night: 01/23/15
A KIND SHOT is the true story of Terri Mateer’s basketball career. When you’re 6’1” since 6th grade, the path would seem obvious. Not so with Mateer. Her journey twists and turns as she ventures from state to state and country to country. Eventually she ends up playing pro basketball in Paris, but her career choices are even more diversified than her travels. With raw honesty and a good deal of humor, even she at times seems amazed at the people who assisted or abused her (sometimes the same person participated in both acts).
Her fascinating story is told in a “wait until you hear this” style that immediately makes you feel as if an old friend is sharing war stories. To use the basketball analogy, Terri Mateer’s life is like the sport itself. It takes a great deal of energy, and if you’re lucky, there will be players along the way who will assist you. You don’t always win, but when you get a chance, you take a shot. And if you make it, you’re on top of the game. Taking a shot by writing and performing A KIND SHOT definitely works out – this is compelling theatre.
By VICTOR L. CAHN
Directed by ERIC PARNESS
Scenic Design: JENNIFER VARBALOW
Costume Design: BROOKE COHEN
Lighting Design: PAMELA KUPPER
Sound Design: NICK SIMONE
Props Master: LINDSAY BLEILE
Fight Director: JOSEPH TRAVERS
Stage Manager: SEAN McCAIN
Assistant Stage Manager: LINDSAY BLEILE
Master Electrician: ALEXANDER HAVAR
Technical Director: KENNETH HORGAN
Casting Consultant: STEPHANIE KLAPPER CASTING
Press: JTPR JOE TRENTACOSTA
House Manager: CHRIST BRUCATO
Artwork: BILLY MITCHELL
The Clurman @ Theater Row
410 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
January 9 – January 31; Opening Night – 01/12/15
Victor L. Cahn presents a group of mysterious and nefarious ladies in VILLAINOUS COMPANY. Unassuming and demur Claire (Corey Tazmania) has discovered a package is missing from her latest shopping venture. As she tries to work this problem out over the phone, effervescent Tracy (Alice Bahlke) shows up at her door offering service with a smile and a life-changing secret. Just when you may have figured out at least some part of this diabolical plot, commanding Joanna (Julia Campanelli) unexpectedly joins the party with a couple of secrets of her own. These three ladies do a marvelous job of presenting quirky characters while maintaining a complex and compelling storyline.
Cahn dangles the carrot of letting you know something sinister is afoot but the twists and turns, along with slightly-off characters, prevent you from narrowing down exactly what that is. VILLANOUS COMPANY is entertaining and a delightful reminder that things are rarely as they seem.
Created by Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni
Choreography: Todd Twala
Costume Design: Thembi Nyandeni
Sound Design: Bernard Productions
Stage Manager: Halid Hadiz
Executive Producer: Ernest D. Kelly
Featuring: Penuel Bhekitzitha Ndaba, Gregory Mkhabela, Aphiwe Dumeko, Kenalemang Angela Kolodi, Hazel Ntokozo Mhlaba, Leroy Thabiso Madlala, Mbhali Ndlovu, Mxegeni Enock Hlatywayo, Lindiwe Malinga, Nhlanhla Vilakazi, Nompumelelo Mayiyane, Bafana McDonald Langa, Mosia Mokheseng, Neo Ernest Chuene, Thabo April Legae, Refrieca Consent Chiloane, Kegomoditswe Mildred Nhlabathi, Metja Phillipine Ledwaba, Livhuwani Beverly, Mawela, Tumelo Seleke, Mbuyiselo Issac Dlamini, Nonhlanhla Ngcobo, Richard Pheello Mazibuko, Nomasonto Penelope Zwane, Nkululeko Freedom Molefe, Thokozile Maria Dunge, Penwell Langa, Buhle Nikosi, Fernwell Sibusiso Nyirongo, Noah Mashilo, Reuben Sipho Dhlamini, Sbongiseni Gordon Mnguni
2537 Broadway at 95th Street
Umoja means togetherness. And together this cast of 32 lively, soulful and talented performers tell the story of South Africa before, during and after the tumultuous Apartheid period. They present the lives and perspectives of the native tribes and their fellow city dwellers through the music and dance as both evolve over time. The costumes are colorful and exotic, traditional and contemporary, and change over time and from country to city.
Act I begins with a thrilling show of drums and actors in native costumes. The narrator (Hope) says drums are the heart and soul of Africa. This first act includes a snake dance for girls coming into womanhood with innovative choreography; a Zulu dance of proposal; a competition for work when the men leave the village for Johannesburg as they also face the temptations of the city; a village scene for the women and children who are left behind; and the prohibition type bars called Shebeens run by voluptuous Queen proprietors (strong women they are called).
By Act II, as time has passed, we go back to the country side. The Tin Can Girls perform with tin cans as their instruments. Gospel made its way to South Africa and the next number, a Gospel Explosion, is filled with hallelujah’s. Jazz too has made its mark on music and dance. A taste of the modern comes with a club scene that is hip hop, yet retains its South African roots. Hope gives us a narrative on his childhood and the final number ends as it began: drums giving us the true power of Africa. The singing and dancing are exceptional; there are too many standouts to pinpoint any one performer.
AFRICA UMOJA brings to the stage this most difficult and trying period for South Africa and its people, but through music and dance they persevere. As a tribute to Mandela, the songs include Long Road to Freedom and I Have a Dream, South Africans turn to music in good times and in bad–for celebration and salvation. The audience is in for a rollicking good time. The energy is intense and the performers gleefully impart their passion and energy. The live band elevated in the back of the stage enhances the singing and drums beautifully. They are shown through a transparent screen that reflects historical scenes during this period and photos of the country side and cities in South Africa.
Tonight is their last performance on their US tour. When they return, be sure to see this production - it is a WOW!
Devised by THE ENSEMBLE
Text Excerpted from works by Strindberg, Dostoyesvsky, Gertrude Stein, & Others
Directed by JAMES RUTHERFORD
CHRISTOPHER J. CANCEL-POMALES, CAMBER DONAHOE, JON FROEHLICH,
RACHEL KODWEIS, MAURY MILLER, CASEY ROBINSON, & EMILY VIANCOURT
Set Design: KRISTEN ROBINSON
Lighting Design: BRUCE STEINBERG
Costume Design: OLGA MILL
Production Stage Manager: ALEJANDRA MALDONADO
Choreographer: LAURA BUTLER RIVERA
Choral Music: DAVID SKEIST
Sound: MICHAEL COSTAGLIOLA & ALEX CLIFFORD
Stage Management: ALEJANDRA MALDONADO-MORALES
Production Management: MARIEL MARELLI & SUSAN HYON
Technical Direction: HARRISON BEAUREGARD
Assistant Lighting Designer: ANTHONY TORNAMBENE
Master Electrician: EILEEN GODDARD
Wardrobe Supervision: ALEXANDER ALLEN
Press Representative: DAVID GIBBS/DARR PUBLICITY
64 East Fourth Street
New York, NY 10003
December 11 through December 21, 2014
It is all black and white, superficially. Living, that is. The stage and two walls are blaring white. The actors wear close-fitting clothes, a second skin, white on the front, black on the back. This has nothing to do with race. This is about life and its stark contrasts. Between sparse narratives we are entranced by bodies in motion, falling, rising, writhing, contorting, and entangling. It is about how we act in the face of adversity, and how we keep rising from the ashes, most of us, until the real last defeat. Death.
The ensemble cast vocalizes with sighs, moans, and gasps while they mime and do their slo-mo gymnastic interpretation of the struggle of existence. They say our blood is a vision-inducing wine that moves through us through pain and loss, always forward in spite of ourselves.
This production exudes a sense of sheer kinetic power while conveying in clipped words brief snaps of life stories. We fall into the void with them and feel the tension as they reach out, back away, and entwine. Like us, they reach until they find a helping hand, no matter how long and difficult the struggle. Their sheer power is amazing.
Written by HENRIK IBSEN
Adapted by SCOTT RAKER
from the translation by WILLIAM & CHARLES ARCHER
Directed by HAAS REGEN
BRITANNIE BOND, JESSICA CRANDALL, REBECCA HIROTA, DAVID JACOBS,
LIZZIE KING-HALL, KHRIS LEWIN, SCOTT RAKER, JUDE SANDY, & RUDI UTTER
Music Arranged & Performed by MACKENZIE SHIVERS
Accompanied by MICHAEL PROPSTER
Stage Manager: ERIN PERSON
Light Design: JOHN ECKERT
Choreography: REBECCA HIROTA
Movement/Fight Choreography: KHRIS LEWIN
Alchemical Theatre Laboratory
104 West 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
December 7 through December 20, 2014
A classic is always a classic, even when distilled from the original four hours down to 90 minutes. In both versions PEER GYNT tells the same tales and his life bears the same theme: identity.
Peer loved the fairy tales told to him in childhood, and takes them on as truth. He recounts the incredible stories as if they had happened to him, becoming a sad disappointment to his widowed mother and the butt of jokes throughout the village. He is a Peter Pan, a man-child of no use to anyone. Peer is attractive, energetic, kind, and absolutely useless.
We are with him in an all-white room with white chairs and few props. The cast wears predominantly white, the better to transport us to Norway. The actors take turns being Peer by donning a red velvet vest. He falls in love, meets trolls, insists he can fly and can conjure up the devil. He lives alone in the woods so he will have no human interference in his fantasies. It is only in old age, when he returns to his dying mother, that the light bulb goes on. There is no Peer Gynt. He is no one, nothing, until he embraces reality and joins in worldly life, connecting with people, not dreams.
The ensemble cast does a wonderful job of portraying multiple characters. MACKENZIE SHIVERS has created and performs an outstanding score based on the original music by Edvard Grieg. Her piano blends flawlessly with the action. Although the writer has taken liberties with the original, the feel is still there. Stand still, take a breath, and face truth of your own being. Only then do you actually exist.
ROLLO’S WILD OAT
Written by Clare Beecher Kummer
Directed by Michael Hardart
Stage Manager: William Vann Carlton
Set Design by Alex Roe
Costume Design by Sidney Fortner
Lighting Design by Christopher Weston
Featuring: Joe Joyce, Alexis Hyatt, Kevin Sebastian, Mac Brydon, Erica Knight, Gary Lizardo, Page Clements, David Licht, Timothy C. Goodwin, Wendy Merritt
Rollo has a wild oat and has the means to pursue it. Endowed by his grandfather’s support, he decides to not only pursue his lifelong dream of playing Hamlet, but to also produce and direct it on Broadway. All this against his grandfather's expectations of having Rollo follow in his footsteps in the family’s air brakes business.
Rollo’s curious and bored younger sister, Lydia, makes a surprise visit to Rollo at his studio, staffed by the family butler. His prospective theater manager arrives bringing along Goldie to play the part of Ophelia, and Rollo falls for her. Lydia and a few more questionable Shakespearian actors gain a part in the play. Neither Rollo nor Goldie are strong enough actors to do justice to Hamlet, and Rollo goes so far as to change the script to appease timid Goldie.
On opening night, Rollo’s grandfather sabotages his acting debut. Meanwhile, Lydia falls in love with George, a bad actor, and they all end up at grandfather’s house. Grandfather is a famous engineer, who was once in love with Goldie’s grandmother, a great actress in her time. In contrast, Rollo and Goldie have little of the spunk and prowess their grandparents possessed.
The butler, a serious Shakespearian actor, ends up taking over for Rollo mid-play, but is laughed at during the performance (to great reviews), and swears never to go back. Both Rollo and his butler give up the desire to be Hamlet. All ends well when Rollo and Lydia end up back under their grandfather’s wing, along with their new-found lovers.
Rollo and company could benefit from perhaps more experience or talent. The dissonance inherent in Kummer’s play is that this type of play requires good actors to act badly. Nevertheless, there are moments that make it all worthwhile.
Based on the short story by TRUMAN CAPOTE
Book by DUANE POOLE
Music by LARRY GROSSMAN
Lyrics by CAROL HALL
SAMUEL COHEN, NANCY HESS, TAYLOR RICHARDSON, ASHLEY ROBINSON
SILVANO SPAGNUOLO, VIRGINIA ANN WOODRUFF and ALICE RIPLEY as Sook
Directed by CHARLOTTE MOORE
Piano: MICAH YOUNG
Synth: JOHN DiPINTO
Percussion: ED SHEA
Musical Direction: MICAH YOUNG
Choreography: BARRY McNABB
Orchestrations: STEVE ORICH
Scenic Design: JAMES NOONE
Costume Design: DAVID TOSER
Lighting Design: BRIAN NASON
Properties: DEIRDRE BRENNAN
Wigs: ROBERT CHARLES VALLANCE
Casting: DEBORAH BROWN
Production Stage Manager: ELIS C. ARROYO
Assistant Stage Manager: KAREN EVANOUSKAS
Press Representative: COYLE ENTERTAINMENT
103 East 15th Street in Union Square
(212) 727-2737 or https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938481
November 25, 2014 - January 4, 2015; Opening Night – 12/04/14
Truman Capote wrote a short story about A CHRISTMAS MEMORY with his beloved Aunt Sook in Monroeville, Alabama. Duane Poole (Book), Larry Grossman (Music) and Carol Hall (Lyrics) adapted this poignant work into a musical. The result is a touching tribute to family, no matter how unconventional, and the roots that create our life’s foundation.
Buddy (Ashley Robinson) has returned to Monroeville where the only living member of his “family” is housekeeper Anna (Virginia Ann Woodruff). A nip in the air brings back memories from 22 years ago as he and Aunt Sook (Alice Ripley) prepare for their annual Fruitcake Baking marathon. Amidst the Fruitcake Weather, young Buddy (Silvano Spagnuolo) and Nelle (the young Harper Lee portrayed by Taylor Richardson) manage to get into mischief while Sook’s sister (Nancy Hess) and brother (Samuel Cohen) make plans to send Buddy to military school with the hopes of toughening him up.
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY is a sweet play. The storyline is enhanced by songs full of philosophy, and there’s a Fruitcake Dance that borders on precious. Ripley combines a simple innocence with a complex wisdom, and Spagnuolo who is onstage throughout most of the production does an endearing job as Young Buddy. The rest of this fine cast make their unique characters both individually distinct and an essential part of the ensemble. The story remains intact and meaningful. Does this work as a musical? I would love to ask Mr. Capote!
Chazz Palminteri’s A BRONX TALE was first told as a one man show in Los Angeles prior to hitting the silver screen and becoming a major motion picture, which put Mr. Palminteri on the map. He has returned to the original format, delivering a one-man show about his colorful childhood in the Bronx. It is an engrossing tale full of quirky characters like Eddie Mush, Frankie Coffeecake, Tony Toupee, JoJo the Whale, Jimmy Ten-to-Two and Rudy Ice, among others.
Mr. Palminteri becomes all these characters, taking on their idiosyncrasies in how he walks, slouches, hulks, contorts his face, while employing a variety of accents. It’s a coming-of-age story of an adolescent boy who witnesses something that changes his life forever. A much revered and feared gangster, named Sonny, and Chazz’s father are his main influences, and he seems to have adopted the best of both - over time.
When nine-year-old Chazz does not rat him out in a police line up, after witnessing a murder, mob boss Sonny takes him under his wing. Against his father’s wishes, Sonny becomes a second father figure to him, instilling some good lessons along with the bad.
Chazz tells his story in a lively 90-minute show that takes you from his stoop in Brooklyn in the 1960s to his teenage years in the 70s. Vividly, he brings to life the characters, place, story, music and culture of the times. Unfortunately, it played for one show only at Brooklyn College. Perhaps he will return soon and tell his tale at a venue in the Bronx, maybe near 187th and Belmont!
Performed by PHIL DARIUS WALLACE
Co-Creators: PHIL DARIUS WALLACE, MELANIA LEVITSKY
Directed by MELANIA LEVITSKY
Scenic Design: ANGELINA MARGOLIS
Costume Design: KATJA ANDRELEV
Lighting Design: NATASSIA JIMENEZ
Sound Design: ERIK T. LAWSON
Composer: JOHN McDOWELL
General Manager: RACHEL McMULLIN
Press Representative: GLENNA FREEDMAN PUBLIC RELATIONS
Advertising: HOFSTETTER + PARTNERS LLC
Production Stage Manager: DAVID BELLER
152 West 71st Street
(866) 811-4111 or www.frederickdouglassplay.com
11/18/14 – 12/14/14; Opening Night: November 24, 2014
Born into slavery in 1818 and later turned Abolitionist leader dedicated to exposing slavery, Frederick Douglass was a self-made man who acknowledged the roles that circumstances and other people played in the journey of his life. In Phil Darius Wallace’s and Melania Levitsky’s SELF MADE MAN: THE FREDERICK DOUGLASS STORY, his amazing life is recounted through his writings, speeches, letters and autobiographies. Wallace commands the stage as he portrays not only Douglass, but also his grandmother, Little Freddie, Old Barney, the white lady who taught him how to read, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, President Lincoln, and a couple of Civil War soldiers and slave-owners. In a deep resonant voice he orates the philosophies, recounts the stories, and sings the songs that shaped Douglass’ forceful existence. His performance is so realistic and believable that at times it is difficult to watch.
SELF MADE MAN reminds us of the struggle, putting today’s events into perspective, while paying tribute to a remarkable man who shaped history. You can just imagine Frederick Douglass smiling down on the Wallace Eagle as he soars to dizzying heights in this performance.
Conceived, Choreographed and Directed by Austin McCormick
Set/Costume Design: Zane Pihlstrom
Lighting Design: Jeanette Yew
Sound Design: Austin McCormick
Stage Manager: Natalia Vasilyeva
Starring: Cassady Rose Bonjo, Marisol Cabrera, Laura Careless, Katrina Cunningham, Alexander Hille, Courtney Giannone, Molly Griffin, Jakob Karr, Nicholas Katen, Kana Kimura, Nico Maffey, Tyler Phillips, Davon Rainey, Jeff Takacs, Allison Ulrich, Shelly Watson
Press Representative: DARR Publicity
428 Lafayette Street
November 13, 2014 - January 04, 2015; Opening Night: 11/22/14
NUTCRACKER ROUGE telling by the title, is a titillating retake of The Nutcracker. In classic style, Marie Claire is delighted with her nutcracker gift, gets lost in the woods with it, and stumbles upon the Kingdom of Sweets. The show then takes a colorful and risqué turn. In this burlesque castle inhabited with scantily clad dancers - who twist and turn in sexually suggestive fashion - she is entertained by their sweet “treats”.
The dance performances include Cherries, Turkish Delight, Candy Cane, Macaroons, Licorice Boys and other bawdy decadence, fantastically costumed in lush colors. The dancers, entreated by Drosselmeyer and his wife, perform ballet and some impressive circus acrobatics. The music is a mix of classic and contemporary adaptions of Tchaikovsky, jazz and Madonna.
Marie Claire’s exposure to this new world adds the gusto she needs, and the performance ends with her lusty and seductive take on the Sugar Plum Fairy dance. Terrific dancers and beautiful bodies move through the music, noise and glitter, highlighted by the very talented Davon Rainey.
NANCY REDMAN’S THE DOCTOR IS NOT IN
A Sci-Fi Comedy That Explores the Hypocrisy of Hippocrates
Studio Theatre at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
October 25 @ 9 PM and November 15 @ 2 PM
Writer/Performer NANCY REDMAN and Director AUSTIN PENDLETON are at it again. The collaboration of these two award winners as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival has resulted in THE DOCTOR IS NOT IN – A Sci-Fi Comedy that Explores the Hypocrisy of Hippocrates. And as always, Ms. Redman is absolutely delightful. In an improbable story line that involves clones, the Tonight Show, doctors, and a One-Jew Chorus, she delivers her hilarious perspective on the inhumanity of the medical profession and throws in an alien takeover just to keep it wild and wacky. Running her hands through her bright red hair, her timing is so perfect and her delivery so succinct that you quickly forget that she is on stage. Suddenly you and Nancy are best friends and she is sharing a ridiculous story guaranteed to keep you laughing from beginning to end. Nancy Redman never disappoints.
GREG CARERE, SAMANTHA COOPER, ELLEN DAVID, ANDREW HARRISS, NIC MARRONE, AMY LEE PEARSALL, LEE SEYMOUR, & AUREA TOMESKI
Lighting Design: CATE DiGIROLAMO
Costumes: ELIVIA BOVENZI
Sound Design: J. ALEXANDER DIAZ
Graphic Design: MAYA ELIAM
Set Design: JOSHUA ROSE
312 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
November 12 through December 6, 2014
It’s a cold Maine autumn when Aunt Missy decides to take a road trip to Florida. She wants her nephew Loomer to drive her there in the tan Corolla. That will be Loomer’s sister’s wedding gift. Loomer does not want to spend days in the car with his aunt. When you meet her, you will understand. He wants her to fly down and he will make the drive with his friend June. That is the last sensible moment in this production. From that point on, everything goes beyond haywire.
Loomer’s gay, June is disappointed and obviously consumes way too much caffeine, a serial killer is stalking I-95 and seems to be always near them, a cult couple takes them in for the night and tries to convert them, various characters die violently, yet the Corolla rolls on. Meanwhile, back at the cabin, Aunt Missy has hired a private detective to drive her to Florida and catch up with Loomer before he gets to the wedding.
“Madness ensues” doesn’t cover it. Heaps of shrieking, mystery, deus-ex-machina, plot twists like curly fries, Dickensian revelations and unbelievable coincidences, philosophy, 1920’s-movie type emoting, operatic tragedy, and pure weirdness. There’s more, but I’ve run out of adjectives. Let’s just say it is one crazy ride, yet totally understandable. Clever playwright, DAN KITROSSER. The entire cast gets A+ for energy. DEAD SPECIAL CRABS is fun, thought-provoking, and great entertainment.
Encompass New Opera Theatre
A WAKE OR A WEDDING
Music and Libretto by Richard Pearson Thomas
Directed by Nancy Rhodes
Conducted by Mara Waldman
Set Design by Stephen H. Carmody
Costume Design by Angela Huff
Lighting Design by Colin Chauche
Featuring: Marie Anello, Alison Davy, Joy Hermalyn, Eapen Luebner, Scott Lindroth, Caroline Bassett MIller, Lindsay Rider Adrian Rosas and the Ionisation Orchestra.
Press Representative: Audrey Ross
Baruch Performing Arts Center
55 Lexington Avenue
Through November 16, 2014
A WAKE OR A WEDDING is a comic opera, and a spoof on several well-known operas, including The Marriage of Figaro, Il Trovatore and Cosi fan tutte.
A Montana copper magnate passes away on the eve of his daughter’s wedding, wreaking havoc on the relationships of his relatives and household staff. He was a wealthy and miserly ogre, who leaves them fighting for his inheritance.
Once the wedding entertainment arrives, the opera comes alive, and surprises unfold. Though the wedding is postponed, they are invited to stay and perform for the family. The duo consists of an Egyptian tenor and a flamboyant, slapstick diva.
As each performer’s secret is revealed, no one is who they appear to be. The widow who at first appears dazed and confused, reaches her long awaited clarity. The spoiled daughter gets her comeuppance. Even the suffering servants and entertainers become embroiled in the fiasco. The story gets twisted beyond belief, and tests the boundaries of what family is.
The music, performed by the Ionisation Orchestra, was solid, though at times drowned out the performers. Joy Hermalyn provided the most comic relief and biggest voice of the group as Marcella Sorella, the wedding entertainer, reminiscent of Bette Midler.
THE WAY WE GET BY
March 31 – April 14, 2019
Neil Labute’s THE WAY WE GET BY is essentially an extended conversation between two singles after what at first appears to be an intoxicated one-night stand. Over the course of 80 minutes, more about the characters and their motivations are revealed, perhaps elevating the surface situation to something more life changing.
The play opens with Doug (André Vauthey) getting up in the middle of the night and inadvertently waking Beth (Francesca Ravera). While she clearly wants him to return to her bedroom, he is obviously resistant for reasons that take a while to become clear. This leads to the balance of the action, which is the two engaged in an ongoing back and forth about what happened earlier and what it means.
While THE WAY WE GET BY features only the couple onstage, Beth’s unseen roommate, Kim, American Apparel, Star Wars and eventually the couple’s parents all become touchpoints in the telling of their story. Their intimacy is based on a shared history going back to childhood, but the cultural references to things like how the pre-rebranding American Apparel company was operated and trips to Comic Con serve as roadblocks to having a conversation of any depth.
Only in the last 15-20 minutes of THE WAY WE GET BY does the audience begin to understand these characters for more than superficial complaints about uptight roommates and concerns over vintage, autographed t-shirts. It is at this point that one might feel they have a stake in the outcome of Doug and Beth’s union. As written, directed and acted, the production moves along steadily enough to keep the audience engaged. This is not deep, soul-searching material, but it has enough to it to be entertaining.
- Kessa De Santis -
Presented by IDENTITY THEATER COMPANY
Written by: NICHOLAS LINNEHAN
Featuring: BEN DWORKEN, TIMOTHY CONNELL, NICHOLAS LINNEHAN, AMY LIZKA and MATTHEW TYLER
Costume design: RENEE SALMIERI
It’s several hours since I saw Identity and my jaw is still on the ground. It was touching, moving, occasionally confusing, always intriguing and often amazing. With passion, pathos, and wit, Linnehan dexterously moved us in and out of the fourth wall. We were transported with him on his personal journey to answer the question, “Am I happy?” We travel through time and space relieved when he discovers that although he is a bunch of contradictions (a brilliantly/disabled, gay, ardent Catholic) he no longer has to apologize to anyone. And yes, he is happy with his complicated but delightful identity. The actors playing the father, mother and doctor added richness to the complexity of the story with their fabulous acting, complimenting the author’s fast-paced and poignant dialogue. Prepare to be impressed. Different is delicious and delightful entertainment.
ACTUALLY, WE’RE FKED
Cherry Lane Theatre World Premiere
Written by MATT WILLIAMS
Featuring: MAIRIN LEE, KEREN LUGO, BEN RAPPAPORT, GABRIEL SLOYER
Set Design: ROBIN VEST
Runs March 7th- April 7, 2019
As you are sitting in the theatre waiting for the play to begin, you start to notice the amazing set design. The four actors appear and the crisp, witty, dialog begins. The scenes change with amazing graphics, titles and music. The characters and plot develop, moving from a typical millennial conversation which is cliched, passionate and filled with humorous truths (look it up, each time there is an argument of who is right) to serious problems requiring serious introspection. With a backdrop of liberalism, we are taken through nuanced intricacies of relationships, values, and life-changing decisions. ACTUALLY, WE’RE FKED helps us realize the limits of ideology and idealism once it is put to the test of reality. It is contemporary and yet universal in the way the actors parse love, life and how to live one’s life authentically. You may even want to see it again, once you get past the plot twist, just to hear the fabulous lines that are delivered so wonderfully.
- Ronni Burns -
Urban Stages presents the World Premiere of
DEATH OF A DRIVER
Starring SARAH BASKIN & PATRICK J. SSENJOVU
Directed by KIM T. SHARP
To see some of the most superb acting around today you should head on over to Urban Stages. Sarah (Sarah Baskin) and Kennedy (Patrick J. Ssenjovu) have formed a friendship and a unique bond in Will Snider’s DEATH OF A DRIVER, and a couple more perfectly paired would be difficult to find. On a practically bare stage, these two keep you mesmerized in a story of political activism tinged by culture, race, gender, trust, and betrayal. As the two create a partnership to improve the roads in Kenya, the benefits of a white American woman who brings the proposal and the money working with a black African man who lives within the conditions they are trying to change clash with the detriments of opposing perspectives. It’s a battle between thinking outside the box and surviving within the box. Both need each other but are the differences too large to overcome? DEATH OF A DRIVER is so beautifully presented that it is difficult to choose a side.
- Laurie Lawson -
Magic Window Productions Present
Written & Performed by RENATA HINRICHS
TBG Mainstage Theatre
I had never heard of Renata Hinrichs before I saw RANDOM ACTS, and now that I have seen RANDOM ACTS, I don’t understand why everyone isn’t aware of this amazingly talented actress/writer. Her autobiographical play is exquisite in its heart-wrenching, thought-provoking interminable topic. Growing up as a white girl on the south side of Chicago during the Civil Rights movement, the potential for trauma was around every corner. But the memory that stays with her and becomes the inspiration of this play is a random act of kindness.
Hindrichs portrays all characters in the retelling of her story – her Lutheran preacher father, her domesticated mother, teachers, kindergarten buddies, and her prom date. And she assures that you react to the essence of each one. A truly impressive accomplishment enhanced by dramatic lighting (Daisy Long) and music of the times (Matt Otto), RANDOM ACTS should not be missed. Seeing this performance could be a random act that alters your thinking for the rest of your life.
- Laurie Lawson -
BETWEEN THE THREADS
C0-CREATOR and PERFORMER: ZOE AQUA
DIRECTOR: CORAL COHEN
Between the Threads runs from January 18th to February 10th
BETWEEN THE THREADS captures the Jewish female experience from the perspective of five talented actors who dance and sing beautifully, bridging ancient Judaism with modern dance, ancient customs and very traditional life dilemmas. The trials and tribulations of women as second-class citizens, explore traditional customs that are cherished and how values are reconciled in the face of modern times. All are explored with sensitivity and passion. The continuous music in the background is often haunting and underscores the spirt of the play, and yet at times, it is a bit distracting from the superb dialog. You will leave with pearls of wisdom that are expressed through beautiful choreography and stories all delivered with humor and soul.
Black Rose Productions presents the World Premiere of BAREFOOT
By: KATE T. BILLINGSLEY and THOMAS G. WAITES
Runs January 24 – February 10
- Ronni Burns -
Presented by: Strange Sun Theatre
playwright and Artistic Director of Strange Sun Theater: JESSICA BASHLINE
Cast: JOSE-MARIA AGUILA, JESSICA O’HARA-BAKER, EVAN DAVES, DAWN McGEE, EMILY GARDER XU HALL, JASMINE WALKER, LUKE ZIMMERMAN
Scenic Design: ANNA DRIFTMIER
In less than 2 hours you will be inspired by a little known yet unforgettable midwife and abortionist. Ann Lohman understood the power of marketing and took on the name of Madame Restell to care for and assist hundreds of women who couldn’t afford or didn’t want a child. Eventually, when the laws changed, Madame Restell was accused of manslaughter in the second degree. Her rise to notoriety is a true story with a sad ending. Through fabulous dialog, a clever set, effective music, and beautiful costumes this extraordinary cast takes on multiple roles and transports us to life in New York City in the 1800’s. They skillfully show us that compassion, hard work, feistiness, and a deep commitment to what you are doing may not be enough when you have to go against prejudice, ignorance and “God’s law” surrounding reproductive rights. This play gives you lots to think about and much to discuss.
- Ronni Burns -
St. Louis Actors’ Studio presents three premieres of plays by Tony Award nominated playwright Neil LaBute as part of the
LaBUTE NEW THEATRE FESTIVAL
Directed by NEIL LaBUTE & JOHN PIERSON
Cast: GIA CROVATIN, KEILYN DURREL JONES, BRENDA MEANEY and ERIN DEAN WHITE
Press Agent: JOE TRENTACOSTA
The Davenport Theatre (Downstairs, 354 West 45th Street, NYC).
January 1 - 14, 2019
All three plays are thought provoking with content that is both familiar and disturbing. Unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness conversations from a Nazi sympathizer, a couple meeting for a first date who are unequal intellectually (okay, one of them is clueless and insensitive), and a woman lamenting her past decisions that still haunt her today, are delivered with clever dialog that is sharp, and perceptive. You are drawn in to look at stereotypes and prejudice in a way that asks, “Could that be me?”
Take 90 minutes to see THE FOURTH REICH, GREAT NEGRO WORKS OF ART and UNLIKELY JAPAN and you will have plenty to discuss after the show.
- Ronni Burns -
Dutch Kills Theater presents
The Wild Project
Written by Krista Knight
A SELKIE is a mythological creature based on Celtic/Scandinavian Folklore. A seal in the water and a human on land, a selkie can be enslaved by a person if the person captures the sealskin that is shed when the selkie turns human. A captured selkie will never stop longing for its skin so it can return to the water. This makes the selkie a perfect metaphor for a person stuck with a controlling/abusive partner.
When we first meet Keaton (Federico Rodriguez) and Deanna (the charming Toni Ann DeNoble), they seem to be a typical, madly in love couple. It slowly unfolds that there is a nefarious reason they are on this out-of-the-way island and why they can’t go back. And as the mysteries are revealed, so is the level of control issues Keaton has, and how Deanna’s insecurities (and drug use) keep her tied to him.
While out on a drug bender, Deanna meets some “seal women.” It could just be a drug-induced delusion, but Keaton believes her and grabs the sealskin of one of the women, Alondra, making her his slave. He intends to blackmail the other selkies into becoming drug runners for him. What he doesn’t count on is Deanna and Alondra finding common cause being under Keaton’s domination.
Elia Monte-Brown’s Alondra is lovely. Her yearning for freedom is palpable in her every gesture.
The cleverly adaptable set design in combination with the fun sound and projection designs keep the show moving fluidly.
- Jean Tait -
IN YOUR FACE – NEW YORK
Hosted by RUTH REICHL
Musical Director: JAY LEONHART
As diversified as New York City itself, IN YOUR FACE – NEW YORK, is a delightful blend of music, art, culinary, and politics. Take a seat, get comfortable and prepare to be entertained. Kind of like when you enter the subway – anything goes. You will find fiddlers of extraordinary talent (Kelly Hall-Tompkins), conversations between famed restaurant critics (Ruth Reichl) and renowned restaurateurs (Danny Meyer), award-winning novelists (Anand Giridharadas), cabaret stars (Karen Akers), stand-up comedians/writers (Julie Rottenberg, Elisa Zuritsky), storytellers (A.M. Homes), and filmmakers (Heather Quinlan). And that’s just in the first hour.
A one-night-only event, the next IN YOUR FACE – NEW YORK productions will take place March 13 and May 16. Definitely unique as only the Greatest City in the World can be, go and celebrate your distinctive and madcap culture.
- Laurie Lawson -
To Seek a Newer World LLC, Lisa Dozier King, in association with
KENNEDY: BOBBY’S LAST CRUSADE
Written and Performed by DAVID ARROW
With speeches by Robert F. Kennedy
Theatre at the St. Clement's
“We have a right to live right.” That’s just one of the many signs that adorn the stage at Theatre at St. Clement’s. The time is 1968, and Bobby Kennedy is running for President of the United States. David Arrow’s KENNEDY: BOBBY’S LAST CRUSADE follows him on his campaign trail. The country is reeling from the resignation of Lyndon Baines Johnson and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., against the backdrop of Vietnam War protests, the fight for civil rights, and aggressive actions of North Korea. It’s a time of chaos, and Americans are looking for someone to begin putting things right. Sound familiar? Enter Bobby Kennedy with his aversion of the easy access to guns and ammunition, the dismaying tolerance for violence, racism, and the neglect of the poor. At times you have to check your program to make sure the setting hasn’t transported back to current times.
David Arrow is Bobby Kennedy. He has the boyish youth, the sincere delivery of RFK speeches, the modesty of his personality, and the ability to instill hope down pat. So much so that you find yourself wondering how things would have been if he had been allowed to pursue his dreams. KENNEDY: BOBBY’S LAST CRUSADE entreats us to set the bar high for our current politicians and reminds us that amidst chaos good can rise to the top.
- Laurie Lawson -
Carol Ostrow and Joan Finkelstein present
Starring JIM BROCHU
Technical Director: ROBERT COPPOLA
The Actors’ Temple
The Actors’ Temple has performed a great service by bringing back Multiple-Award-Winning Jim Brochu’s ZERO HOUR one day before the mid-term elections. This one-night-only show chronicles the tumultuous life of beloved star Zero Mostel, and Brochu has the flamboyance, the sarcasm, and the droll delivery down pat. Within seconds, you believe you have been transported back to the 50’s and are actually watching the Master himself. You will learn that Mostel’s passion was painting even though he was celebrated on Broadway stages and Hollywood screens. Insider stories of celebrities, along with personal anecdotes, provide a glimpse of this larger-than-life gentleman.
As Brochu recounts the McCarthy era, Mostel’s House Un-American Activities Committee testimony, and the 10 years of blackballing he endured, one cannot help but draw comparisons to the chaos and conflicts of today. Shortly after the worst attack on Jews in the United States at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the prejudices that inflame violence, racism, and religious persecution are making their ugly presence known again. Sixty-plus years later, it is difficult not to lose hope. But The Actors’ Temple brilliantly started this production with an audience-participation rendition of God Bless America. And it worked. Tears spring to your eyes, pride swells your chest, and you are reminded that the values that built this country are worth fighting for.
- Laurie Lawson -
Ted Snowdon Presents
MATTHEW MONTELONGO, ANNA HOLBROOK, and RYAN SPAHN
Written by MICHAEL McKEEVER
LELAND WHEELER and LOU LIBERATORE
Directed by JOE BRANCATO
Westside Theatre Upstairs
Michael McKeever’s DANIEL’S HUSBAND is a superbly-written reminder that rights for human beings should never be taken for granted. The play starts with a social gathering full of fun, peppered with sharp humor, sophisticated sarcasm, and genuine friendship. Mitchell (Matthew Montelongo) and Daniel (Ryan Spahn) have a seven-year relationship, and although they disagree about the institution of marriage, appear to be the ideal couple. Barry (Lou Liberatore) has a penchant for young boys, and he has brought Trip (Leland Wheeler), his latest acquisition, to the gathering. As so often happens in real life, one event turns the lives of Mitchell and Daniel upside down. It also offers Daniel’s mother (Anna Holbrook) an opportunity to intervene.
McKeever deftly handles a multi-faceted issue by offering up endearing characters that are opinionated, compassionate, wise, and confused – all coping with situations the best they can. It is a thought-provoking piece that encourages us to appreciate and take advantage of the strides that have been made, or as Trip says “Do it because you can.” DANIEL’S HUSBAND will remain with you long after you leave the theatre. Don’t miss this one.
- Laurie Lawson -
The Play Onaje, LLC, in accordance with FringeNYC presents The New York Premiere of
Produced by SUE CONOVER MARINELLO
TINUKE ADETNJI, ADAM COUPERTHWAITE, JOHN DEWEY, CURTIS M. JACKSON,
Directed by PAT GOLDEN
The Eastern Shore of Maryland has been the hub of revolutionary acts – “breadbasket of the American Revolution,” Rap Brown-inspired riots in the 1960’s, and Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad in the era of slavery are among its rich history. Robert Bowie, Jr.’s play, ONAJE, moves from the race riots of 1967 to the open roads of 1980 and depicts the long-lasting effects of racism.
Michael, a promising young Black man (Curtis M. Jackson), is forced into a vicious act in order to save his family during the riots. The act forever changes his life, so much so that he has created a new identity for himself (Onaje). Fifteen years later a chance encounter as he is hitchhiking transports him back to that disastrous event, and he finds himself on the Eastern Shore again. Some fences are mended, and some can only serve as reminders.
In our current times of the rise of White Supremacy, Nazis marching in Charlottesville, police shooting unarmed Black men, and a general upswing in unabashed racism, ONAJE brings home the unsightly truth that this is not a problem easily erased. But it also gives hope that, individual by individual heart to heart, improvements can be made.
- Laurie Lawson -
Written and Produced by Soné Anandpara
October 12, 14, 17, 20, 24, 2018
Part of the 2018 New York International Fringe Festival
Here, the Brûlée is a metaphor for accomplishment and perfection. Lila equates the success of the dessert with being her best self, but also seems to want to impress her audience while also bordering on denigrating Michelle for not quite achieving her “inner Brûlée”. As might be expected, things do not go flawlessly, and as Lila succumbs to a panic attack onstage, Michelle and the crew (Emma Cavalier) are left to salvage the show.
Staging options are limited in the production space, but this did not hinder the production, as most action was limited to the television kitchen set. A short piece, the action was fluid.
Serving Brûlée is a comedy, if slightly dark. The characters, especially Lila, feel very “New York” in terms of capturing that segment of self-involved, pretentious snarkiness that can creep up all too often. Michelle counters this tone with a more down to earth presence. Overall, the play is a respectable addition to the Festival.
- Kessa De Santis -
Featuring: Drew Allen, Henry Fin Berry, Chris Dieman, Phoebe Dunn, Ariel Estrada, Sean A. Kaufman, Joseph J. Menino and Brendan Walsh
Scenic and Video Design: BRYCE CUTLER
SUDDENLY, you are not even sure if the play has started. With tv screens showing clips of movies from the 50’s, you suddenly realize that you are about to be taken on a multi-media ride. This ride includes the clever staging of a regular family, FBI agents, gangsters for hire, and guns, all thrown together around the potential assassination of the President whose train is supposed to pass by this small-town America.
The acting is excellent and what also sets apart this play adapted from the Frank Sinatra movie of the same name is the fabulous use of lighting and videos powerfully reminding us that past is present and issues of greed, gun control and family values are similar to core issues we are still grappling with today.
- Ronni Burns -
THE EVOLUTION OF MANN
Featuring: MAX CRUMM, ALLIE TRIMM and LESLIE HIATT
You will quickly remember your experiences with dating, romance, infatuation and fantasy, and how they pull at the heart strings of both men and women. In a most delightful production, with excellent acting, wonderful voices, lyrics that make you laugh and say, “Yup, been there, felt that”, three talented actors take on a variety of roles. They ask the audience to guess at what form true love will take through the many twists and turns of dating, love lost and love found. Many sage pieces of advice are sprinkled in for those who dream of finding the perfect mate, such as, “Don’t get married before your second date, learn to love the quirks, and try to find love in all the unromantic things”.
A truly great 90 minutes of clever wit, great acting, clichés to laugh at and a beautiful set and lighting design enhanced by great music. Fun Fun Fun
- Ronni Burns -
Stuffed Olive, Inc. Presents
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
TIM BOHN, ABIGAIL HAWK, BRENNAN LOWERY
Directed by KATIE McHUGH
Dorothy Lyman’s IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER tackles the question that most of us will face at least once in our lifetime – what to do with the elderly. It may be ourselves, it may be our parents or relatives, but the reward for living to a ripe-old age comes along with the waning ability to be independent. Recently-widowed Elizabeth (Lyman) is attempting to maintain the farm where she has lived for over 50 years. Her daughter Betsy (Abigail Hawk) is concerned that her mother is facing an impossible task while her granddaughter Liz (Jeanne Lauren Smith) attempts to come up with a workable plan so that Elizabeth can keep her homestead. Tensions run high as each generation considers sacrifices and weighs the consequences.
The two words that come to mind about this powerful play are emotional and authentic. Beginning with the down-home country kitchen where the action takes place and a mouth-watering dinner that will get your stomach rumbling and ending with a bond between characters that will bring tears to your eyes, IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER invites you in as a part of the family. All performances are sublime and convincing; the storyline has been infused with politics and current events; and the characters will keep you company long after you have left the theater. You don’t want to miss this one!
- Laurie Lawson -
Rising Sun Performance Company in association with FRIGID New York Presents
By EVA MeiLING POLLITT
RAIANE CANTISANO, MAERA DANIEL HAGAGE, MAGGIE KISSINGER, ITA KORENZECHER
Co –Directed by AKIA SQUITLERI & ANNA HOGAN
In Eva MeiLing Pollitt’s ELEPHANT 13-year-old Clerese (portrayed with heartbreaking vulnerability by Raiane Cantisano) has only known the inside of the 19th century Parisian brothel where her mother Magdith (Ita Korenzecher) works. While Magdith has attempted the almost-impossible job of protecting her daughter, Clerese has grown up with a total lack of knowledge of the outside world and conversely a wisdom of men and women far beyond her years. Sensing the despair of her mother while anxious to take her place as a “woman,” she meets a young man who gives her a glimpse of another lifestyle and promises undying devotion. As Clerese’s stomach grows, she suddenly is given the opportunity to know the trials, tribulations, and heartbreaks of a woman.
ELEPHANT is not your typical love story. It is a raw story of an underworld inhabited by women who have survived against unimaginable odds by depending on the sexual needs and demands of men. The cast is amazing in its dedication to authenticity, the costumes (Allison Crutchfield) are a blend of seedy and sexy, the scenic design and props are simplistic, and the direction (Akia Suitleri and Anna Hogan) is tight. ELEPHANT has completed its New York City run for now, but keep your eyes open. Something this unique will probably be heard from again.
- Laurie Lawson -
SATC (Scandinavian American Theater Company) Presents
By LISA LANGSETH
Featuring ELLINOR DiLORENZO
Producer & Artistic Director: ALBERT BENDIX
Lion Theatre @ Theatre Row
Lisa Langseth’s BELOVED is not your usual love story, and Katerina (Ellinor DiLorenzo) is more than willing to tell it to you with complete (sometimes uncomfortable) candor. There’s profanity, sexuality, and graphic descriptions – all serving to make you a part of the illicit affair she has with an older sophisticated man. What happens when you are exposed to a new world that you weren’t even aware existed? Her longing for heights she never dreamed possible co-mingles with her adoration of her married lover and holds power over the choices that she makes.
On stage for a full 90 minutes by herself, DiLorenzo is an amazing storyteller, managing to not only hold your interest but take you along her roller-coaster journey. You will have mixed emotions at the end of BELOVED, quite likely because we have all made choices based on wanting to be an “improved” version of ourselves and tentatively trying to figure out where to draw the line. And who among us hasn’t used love as an excuse for questionable and sometimes self-destructive behavior?
- Laurie Lawson -
WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III
August 1 - 19, 2018
Co- Director – Peter Bloch
WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III combines William Shakespeare’s plays Henry VI Part 3 and Richard III. Directed and adapted by Austin Pendleton, the play stars Mr. Pendleton as King Henry VI and Matt de Rogatis as King Richard III. The production will probably be best appreciated by an audience familiar with the source material or the history behind it.
The production is very spare with limited sets and props, no music/sound and fast-paced scene changes. For most of the first act, many actors not “on” are seated behind the action in folding chairs, like a gallery. An interesting choice, it suggests that the others are watching and somehow aware of and participating in the tyranny that will lead to so much death and destruction. Given the limited space in the theater