THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY

THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY

Written and Performed by JAMES LECESNE

Directed by TONY SPECIALE
Press: POLK AND CO

Westside Theatre/Downstairs
407 West 43rd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
July 11 – October 4; Opening Night: 07/27/15

A fourteen-year-old flamboyant boy goes missing in a small Jersey Shore town so why is everyone laughing? As unlikely as it seems, it is due to James Lecesne’s brilliant writing and magnificent performance of a variety of characters in THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY. Lecesne’s writing abilities have already been rewarded for his film Trevor but to watch him portray a hardened detective, a withdrawn teenage girl, an aggressive hair salon owner, a video-playing bully, and many more is a rare and unusual treat. His nuances, accents, body language, and delivery of lines are spot-on. But the real magic is in the treatment of a tragic event. At no time is Leonard Pelkey lost in the accounting of the story, and the very “differentness” that brought about his untimely demise is celebrated with humor and respect. Each character deals with this courageous and defiant young man in their own way, but the legacy that Leonard leaves is life-changing and inspiring.


There are a couple of reasons to see THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY – the message of hope and the wonderfulness of James Lecesne should be adequate. But just in case you need more, a portion of every ticket goes to The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth. Oh yes, and the fact that this show is absolutely brilliant – don’t miss it!

- Laurie Lawson -

HAPPY 50ish

Patrick Schwier in association with
Paul & Pam Roy, Neil Kosman, Shannon Stratton, Justin Pham, Bonnie Lee and Glenn Neely Present

HAPPY 50ish
www.Happy50ishMuscial.com

Book, Music & Lyrics by LYNN SHORE, MARK VOGEL, and DAVID BURNHAM

With LYNN SHORE and MARK VOGEL

Direction and Choreography by PAUL STANCATO
Scenic and Lighting Design: CHRISTOPHER ASH
Sound Design: DAVID CRAWFORD
Casting: SUSAN WHITE
Additional Staging: DAVID BURNHAM
Production Stage Manager: NIC ADAMS
Production Supervisor: PRF PRODUCTIONS
Advertising: HOFSTETTER + PARTNERS/AGENCY 212
Marketing: LEANNE SCHANZER PROMOTIONS, INC.
Press Representative: GLENNA FREEDMAN PUBLIC RELATIONS
General Management: MOGUL PRODUCTIONS, JILL BOWMAN

Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
July 15 – August 30; Opening Night – 07/26/15

There’s a party going on at The Beckett Theatre, and you don’t want to miss this one! Bob (Lynn Shore) is turning 50, and his best friend Mike (Mark Vogel) is in charge of the celebration. Clever lyrics, sing-along music, and a bit of crazy choreography chronicle and celebrate the challenges of aging. Nothing is off limits – urinary problems (“What The Hell Is Wrong With Me?”), colonoscopies (“Where’s That Camera Gonna Go?”), erectile dysfunction (“Too Damn Hard”) – bring ‘em on! Working together like Astaire and Rogers, they play off one another superbly. Vogel does the majority of the keyboard playing and Shore takes care of the physical antics while both provide the vocals. And a hilarious time is had by all. The audience is in on the fun, and most of the 90 minutes are spent out-and-out laughing. It may be Bob’s birthday, but HAPPY 50ish is a present you should give to yourself.

- Laurie Lawson -

DEATH OF THE PERSIAN PRINCE

The Midtown Internation Theater Festival presents

DEATH OF THE PERSIAN PRINCE

The Davenport Black Box Theater
354 West 45th St.
NY NY 10036

23, 25, 26 July

Written and Directed by Dewey Moss
Starring Pooya Mohseni, George Faya and Gopal Divan

With the recent Supreme Court decision, being LGBT has been something to celebrate in this country. In other countries, however, it is not so joyous. Iran is one of the worst countries in which to be homosexual. It can even mean a death sentence. However, because of a fatwa issued by the ayatollah, being transgender is not only legal, but supported by the government. This has led to the unusual situation of homosexuals being pressured to get sexual reassignment surgery, even though gender and sexuality are not at all the same thing. In some cases, it can be the only choice other than execution.

This is the inspiration for DEATH OF THE PERSIAN PRINCE, a new short play by Dewey Moss. At 55 minutes, a lot of information is densely packed into this piece about a woman who seems ambivalent about settling down with her handsome boyfriend, until her abusive brother shows up. It is clear from the very beginning that Samantha (Pooya Mohseni) has secrets, and that her boyfriend James (George Faya), while sweet and loving, is no match for either her intellect or sophistication. All hell breaks loose when Sam’s brother, Cas (Gopal Divan) arrives ready to blackmail her into coming back to their native country of Iran. When she doesn’t instantly capitulate, he manipulates her into telling James the truth: she was born a boy, but was forced to accept sex reassignment surgery or be executed for homosexuality.

For someone who was forced into sex reassignment, Samantha seems to enjoy her femininity an awful lot. She is simply too comfortable in her skin for someone who has not always felt female. James is a little too perfect and Cas is a little too villainous. But the play works very well as a searing indictment of Iran’s attitudes towards LGBT persons.

- Jean Tait -

UNFINISHED BUSINESS WITH KAREN MASON

New York Musical Theatre Festival presents

UNFINISHED BUSINESS WITH KAREN MASON

Theater 3
311 West 43rd St.
NY NY 10036

22, 25, July

Music and Lyrics by Brian Lasser
Book by Karen Mason and Barry Kleinbort
Directed by Barry Kleinbort
Musical Direction by Christopher Denny

Although its popularity was starting to wane from its peak in the 1950’s, cabaret was still a vital and popular art form in the late 70’s through the early 90’s, People flocked to Rainbow and Stars, The Ballroom, the Algonquin’s Oak Room, Danny’s Skylight Room, and Don’t Tell Mama’s.

I would argue that cabaret is still vital, even though audiences aren’t showing up in droves anymore, and the few cabaret venues that exist are struggling. Most people seem to want the vocal gymnastics that are so prevalent today (i.e., American Idol, The Voice, etc.) instead of the delicate intimacy essential to cabaret.

Fellow cabaret lovers will want to see UNFINISHED BUSINESS WITH KAREN MASON. Telling the story of her early career, which was inseparable from her pianist and best friend, Brian Lasser, Mason blends charming anecdotes with lovely song interpretations. Mason’s powerful voice is Streisand-esque (she even does an excellent Barbra imitation), but she never relies on vocal chops alone. Each song is a perfect one-act piece that could stand alone, yet works with all the other songs to move the piece along. It is a sad story, as Lasser died far too young, but as with any good cabaret show, becomes a story of hope, as Karen Mason learned to go on without her best friend and musical collaborator. This wonderful show is proof positive that she can not only go on, but thrive.

- Jean Tait -

TRAIL OF TEARS

Rebel Theater, The Eagle Project and The Nuyorican Poets Café Present

TRAIL OF TEARS

236 East 3rd St.
NY NY

10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26 July

Conceived and Directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj
Written by Thomas J. Soto

Featuring Christopher Augustine, Samantha Clark, Wolfen de Kastro, Nerea Duhart, Christopher Robert Ellis, Tony Enos, Darleen Rae Fontaine, Olivia Hoffman, Alana Inez, Javon Minter, Crystal Montalvo, Michael Nephew, Richard Perez, Lamar Perry, Ryan Victor "Little Eagle" Pierce and C.G. Reeves.

According to the press release, TRAIL OF TEARS blends elements of documentary theater, first person narrative, political satire and traditional musical theater to tell the story of the Native American Removal Act. Signed into law in 1830 by President Andrew Jackson, the Act led to the displacement and death of thousands of Native Americans.

It also uses autobiographical stories and Native American dance and music which give it a rich authenticity in its storytelling. The jumble of styles is sometimes confusing, yet most of it is very affecting as it tells the story not only of the famous Trail of Tears, but of the consistent maltreatment, displacement, genocide and attempted cultural annihilation perpetrated against Native Americans in this country.

- Jean Tait -

BUTCHER HOLLER HERE WE COME

Aztec Economy in association with DarkFest and The Tank Present

BUTCHER HOLLER HERE WE COME

Text: CASEY WIMPEE

Featuring
ADAM BELVO, ISAAC BYRNE, COLT W. KEENEY, MICHAEL MASON
HARLAN SHORT, ADAM LATEN WILLSON & COLE WIMPEE

Direction: LEAH BONVISSUTO

The Tank
151 West 46 Street (between Broadway and Sixth Avenue)
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1592222
July 24 – August 2: Opening Night – 07/25/15

If you’re afraid of the dark, Casey Wimpee’s BUTCHER HOLLER HERE WE COME is not for you. Simulating a cave collapse somewhere under the ground in West Virginia, the play is performed mostly in total darkness, occasionally illuminated by head flashlights. The effect is both disconcerting and frighteningly authentic. It’s loud and chaotic, oxygen is dwindling, and there’s no food or water. Add to those dire circumstances a crew of five totally eccentric men, and you have the ingredients for disaster. As spirits and humans co-mingle, the subjects range from religion and politics to folklore and storytelling, and of course Brylcreem (it’s 1973). Waiting to be discovered and rescued, the men jockey positions and philosophies in order to survive.

BUTCHER HOLLER is definitely an impressive artistic endeavor. The ensemble does a remarkable job of moving around in blackness, popping up in unexpected places, all the while creating an atmosphere of pandemonium. It forces you to rely on a portion of your senses and at times to tamp down your own panic. An unusual theatrical experience for sure.

- Laurie Lawson -

ROMEO AND JULIET

LES SHAKES
www.lesshakespeareco.org
presents

ROMEO AND JULIET
by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Directed and Adapted by MELODY ERFANI
Stage Managed by MAE FRANKEBERGER

July 23-25, 2015

Under St. Marks Theatre
94 St. Marks Place (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
Tickets: https://www.artful.ly/les-shakespeare-co

Choreographed by NICK NEAGLE
Music Direction by J.P. MAKOWSKI
Music Performed by LADY AND THE LION
Costumes Designed by PETER MARCIANO
Set Designed by VERONICA SIPP
Produced by ED SYZLINSKI

Cast
Lady Capulet/Apothecary – Adriana Bohmier
Benvolio – Kevin Delano
Tybalt – Edlyn Griffin
Paris/Montague/Sampson – Byron Hagan
Romeo- Sean Hinckle
Mercutio – Ariel Lauryn
Nurse/Prince – Mike Maloney
Friar Laurence – J.P. Makowski
Juliet – Sarah Anne Miles
Capulet – Devin Tillman

LES Shakes’ production of William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET is a new interpretation almost too big for the limited performance space at Under St. Marks Theater. In addition to the actors, there is a band performing live music to the side of the audience, and this version uses movement and choreography in place of larger scale action scenes and when the cast act as the Chorus.

The story of ROMEO AND JULIET involves two feuding families, the Capulets and the Montagues, and follows the romance between Romeo (a Montague) and Juliet (a Capulet) to a tragic conclusion. The meeting of the two sets off a series of events, including the deaths of two characters, Romeo being sent into exile and Juliet falling into suicidal desperation. Amid the secret meetings between the title characters and violent episodes between the families, there is levity interspersed in the play, provided mostly by the physical and verbal sparring between Benvolio and Mercutio.

Given the very limited stage space, the set changes are limited to moving a few pieces around, and scene changes are limited to lighting and actors exiting and entering from curtains that block off the backstage area. That said, the full performance area is utilized as well as can be expected, which must have been challenging to choreograph and direct for the fight scenes in particular. The live music adds to the ambiance of the show.

While not the most impactful and complex version of ROMEO AND JULIET one could see, this production keeps the essentials of the story intact and adds a layer of modernity.

- Kessa De Santis -

DEEP LOVE

The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Deep Love Opera, LLC present

DEEP LOVE
www.DeepLoveOpera.com
Book, Music, Lyrics by GARRET SHERWOOD
Book, Music, Lyrics by RYAN HAYES
Book by JON PETER LEWIS

Starring

GARRETT SHERWOOD, JON PETER LEWIS, AMY WHITCOMB, MELANIE STONE
NICOLE ADFELEIAN, ADAM DiLORETO, PIA HAMILTON, MATTHEW ORTNER, SARAH DANELLE ROBERTS

Musicians
BEN MATHEWS (Electric Guitar); RYAN HAYES (Acoustic Guitar/Accordian); FORD THUNDER ERICKSON (Guitar); ALEX FISHER (Drums); ANDREW PINCOCK (Bass); CANDIDO ABETYA (Saxophone/Clarinet); AUSTIN KALINOWSKI (Keyboard)

Directed by MICHAEL RADER and JON PETER LEWIS
Choreographer: RAY MERCER
Music Director/Arrangements: BEN MATHEWS
Scenic Design: DAVID GOLDSTEIN
Lighting Design: BRADEN HOWARD
Sound Design: MATT SEARLE
Costume Design: BREE PERRY
Make-up Design: ARIEL LaFONTAINE
Publicity: JT PUBLIC RELATIONS
General Management: YOUR THEATRICS INTERNATIONAL
Production Stage Manager: CJ LaROCHE

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square
480 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
07/17 @ 8 PM; 07/18 @ 9 PM; 07/19 @ 4 PM; 07/22 @ 1 PM; 07/24 @ 5 PM

DEEP LOVE: A Ghostly Rock Opera is an intense love story. Constance (Melanie Stone) pledged her love to Old Bones (Jon Peter Lewis) upon his demise. It was quite likely a promise she intended to keep but then she met Friedrich (Garrett Sherwood). This newly-formed love connection neither pleases Old Bones nor Florence (Amy Whitcomb), Friedrich’s mistress. A story line that involves love and its many risks and consequences ensues. But this is not your basic love story.

Garrett Sherwood and Ryan Hayes have created passionate and haunting music and emotional lyrics that produce some of the most heartfelt love songs ever. The music styles, performed by an impressive band in skeletal masks, vary from Gregorian Chant/Pop Rock to hot and steamy jazz, and there are some very interesting guitar arrangements. The raspy (and oh so sexy) voices of Lewis and Sherwood and the multi-octave sopranos of Whitcomb and Stone give these songs a spine-tingling effect. The story is enhanced with ballet/modern choreography sublimely executed by Nicole Adfeleian, Adam DiLoreto, Pia Hamilton, Matthew Ortner, and Sarah Danelle Roberts. There’s a ton of talent on the stage – from conception to collaboration to performance. It’s all working in DEEP LOVE making this one of the best offerings of the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival.

- Laurie Lawson -

MANUEL VERSUS THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

New York Musical Theatre Festival presents

MANUEL VERSUS THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

The Alice Griffin Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd St.
NY NY 10036

21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, July

Produced and Book by Noemi de la Puente
Music by David Davila
Lyrics by David Davila and Noemi de la Puente
Directed by José Zayas
Choreographed by Sidney Erik Wright

Featuring Gil Perez-Abraham, Shakina Nayfack, Tami Dahbura, Anthony Chan, Alicia Taylor Tomasko, AJ Meijer, Erika Gonzalez, Michael Marotta

The New York Musical Theatre Festival’s mission includes ensuring the future vitality of musical theatre. With MANUEL VERSUS THE STATUE OF LIBERTY, I say Mission Accomplished! The vitality of this show explodes off the stage.

Aided by the clever choreography of Sidney Erik Wright, director José Zayas keeps the energy flowing as Manuel’s tale (based on the true story of an undocumented immigrant who was accepted to Princeton) is told.

Anthropomorphizing the Statue of Liberty into a trash-talking, boxing diva (the statuesque Shakina Nayfack) is the brilliant idea of playwright Noemi de la Puente. The gimmick is a terrific way of keeping the storytelling light and joyous while telling this sad and frustrating tale.

Imagine being raised from the age of two in this country only to realize as you get older that, legally, you “belong” to another country, and that no matter how hard you work to achieve the American Dream, it can all be gone in an instant if you are found out. This is a situation hundreds of thousands face in this country, and Manuel is the perfect face to bring awareness, especially as so charmingly played by Gil Perez-Abraham. Also imagine the pain of his mother, also undocumented, who has one “legal” child (born in the US) as well. Tami Dahbura brings an intense passion as well as a gorgeous voice to Mami, and Alicia Taylor Tomasko is also terrific as Manuel’s loving little sister, Yolanda.

The entire cast (with the exception of Manuel) play multiple roles with fluidity. Each gets several moments to shine, and all make the most of it. It is wonderful to see so many different types working together as such a cohesive ensemble, easily handling the numerous musical styles, physically and vocally.

MANUEL VERSUS THE STATUE OF LIBERTY should be seen from sea to shining sea!

- Jean Tait -

NAPOLEON

New York Musical Theatre Festival presents

NAPOLEON

The Alice Griffin Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd St.
NY NY 10036

15, 18, 19, 20, 22 July

Book, Music and Lyrics by Andrew Sabiston & Timothy Williams
Directed by Richard Ouzounian

Featuring Matthew Patrick Quinn, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Margaret Loesser Robinson

Napoleon isn’t exactly a simple subject on which to write, let alone write a musical! Andrew Sabiston and Timothy Williams have wisely chosen to focus on the controversial characters of Tallyrand and Josephine in order to streamline the story. This helps, but it is still an awfully big chunk of story to tell in a mere two hours!

A little more streamlining would be useful, as would some stronger melodies. If one is writing about 19th Century France, there is no way to avoid comparisons to Les Miserables, and whatever you think about Les Miz, the melodies soar and lock themselves into your brain. The music of NAPOLEON is fine, but not memorable.

The cast is universally strong, especially Matthew Patrick Quinn as Tallyrand and Margaret Loesser Robinson as a luminous Josephine. In smaller roles, Jack Mosbacher and Christopher J. Nolan are also standouts.

The sets and costumes are simple, yet inventive and evocative.

- Jean Tait -

ORPHEUS & EURYDICE BY THE TRIP

Theaterlab presents

ORPHEUS & EURYDICE BY THE TRIP

Theaterlab
357 West 36t St, 3rd Floor
NY NY

16-20 July 2015

Text and direction by Tom Dugdale

Performed by Joshua Brody, Miranda Dainard, Tom Dugdale, Paul Marino, Joey Odom, Jenni Putney

The Trip is a San Diego-based contemporary theater company founded and led by Joshua Kahan Brody and Tom Dugdale which strives for interdisciplinary, ensemble-driven theater that challenges traditional boundaries of narrative and space. That is what their press says.

What they really are is extraordinary! The Trip’s ORPHEUS & EURYDICE takes a classic myth and brings it wholly down to earth, finding new meaning and making it applicable to our current times. Using video, film, music and a deceptively casual, interactive method, the audience is pulled into the performance. That makes it sound busy, but it is not. It is done so simply, so cleanly, it doesn’t even really feel like a performance. It feels completely natural to be experiencing what is actually kind of strange.

The walk out of the underworld is told simultaneously by a film projected on the back wall and by the actors sitting in front of the film. Jenni Putney and Tom Dugdale are exquisitely touching without being precious. Having the ending be a quiet end of a relationship rather than a Tragic End to an Epic makes so much sense, that it is a revelation.

I hope The Trip makes more trips to NYC. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

- Jean Tait -

TONYA & NANCY:  THE ROCK OPERA

The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Paul T. Boghosian/Harborside Films present

TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA

Concept, Book and Lyrics by ELIZABETH SEARLE
Music and Additional Lyrics by MICHAEL TEOLI

Starring
TRACY McDOWELL, JENNA LEIGH GREEN, LIZ McCARTNEY and TONY LEPAGE
With
ANDREW AARON BERLIN, HEIDI FRIESE, CHASE KAMATA
TATIANA LOFTON, RYAN J. MacCONNELL, and DWAYNE WASHINGTON

Directed by DAVID ALPERT
Choreographer: MARC KIMELMAN
Music Director: HENRY ARONSON
Scenic Design: STARLET JACOBS
Costume Design: VANESSA LEUCK
Lighting Design: RUI RITA
Sound Design: ALEX HAWTHRON
Assistant Director: CORY PHELPS
Wig Design: BOBBIE ZLOTNICK
Casting: DARYL EISENBERG, CSA, DARYL EISENBERG CASTING
Marketing: ALAN SWANKE
Press: JOE TRENTACOSTA
Production Stage Management: KELLY MARTINDALE
General Management: KIMBERLY LOREN EATON/THEATRUM MUNDI PRODUCTIONS, LLC
& EVAN BERNARDIN
Production Manager: TANNER ALVAREZ
Assistant Stage Manager: KATHERINE K. YIP
Production Coordinator/ASM: CHRISTIN EVE CATO

PTC Performance Space
555 West 42nd Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues)
07/09 @ 8 PM, 07/11 @ 5 PM, 07/12 @ 8 PM, 07/14 @5 PM, 07/14 @ 9 PM, 07/16 @ 1 PM

Against a pulsating rock background, the knee-whacking scandal between Olympic skating contenders Tonya Harding (Tracy McDowell) and Nancy Kerrigan (Jenna Leigh Green) is relived in TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA. The roads taken by Portland trailer-park, truck-driving, tough-talking Tonya and Massachusetts right-side-of-the-tracks Princess Nancy are not as dissimilar as you would imagine. The grueling training schedules, the sacrifices, the disappointments, and the quest for perfection are detailed in the musical numbers as they connect and collide on the rinks to the Gold. Clever lyrics and rollicking choreography move the story along until you reach the dramatic 1994 Olympics.

With much humor the absurdity of the situation is depicted in songs enhanced by news commentators, sequined costumes, court scenes, outrageous wigs, and shiny skates. Green and McDowell do a fine job as the protagonists. Shout outs go to scene stealers Liz McCartney as the schizophrenic Mom and Tony LePage as the imposing Jeff Gillooly. Thanks to them and the entire ensemble a good time is had by all. There’s still time to grab a sign and wave your flag (compliments of the production) because TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA has been extended.

- Laurie Lawson -

TEN COMMANDMENTS

MANHATTAN REP’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT presents

A BOATLOAD OF TUSRIS by Scott Haskell
Featuring Wynne Wilder, Jay Burstein, Elaine Miraglia, and Scott Haskel
Directed by Scott Haskell

HUSHED created and choreographed by Vanessa Long
Featuring Merchelle Armbruster, Bryan Menjivar, Kristen Stuart, Emelie Hedvall, Joanna Farmer,
Roseanna Bell, and Sam Dauphin

BLUE JAY by Lawrence F. Schwabacher
Featuring Ellen Ginsburg and Daniel Wuerdeman; Directed by Lawrence F. Schwabacher

TEN COMMANDMENTS by John Doble
Presented in association with Michael Palmer and 11 West Productions
Featuring Nicholas J. Pearson and Loralee Tyson; Directed by Olivia Harris

HOW TO LOVE A DRUG ADDICT by Antonette Hudak
Featuring Antonette Hudak, Didato Grisi, Liam Wildes, Arrick Dunlap, and Ginny Carey

ONCE UPON A ROSE by Albert J. Repicci (Thursday Only)

Manhattan Repertory Theatre
303 West 42nd Street (corner of Eighth Avenue)
mrteserve@gmail.com
July 15 & July 16 at 6:30 PM

There are four different plays (five on Thursday) in Manhattan Rep’s 10th Anniversary Event. The standout piece of work is undoubtedly John Doble’s TEN COMMANDMENTS. A sexy reporter (Olivia Harris) with a French accent interviews a Republican good ole boy (Nicholas J. Pearson) to learn the secrets of his political maneuvering success. As he reveals his 10-11 commandments for pulling off his party’s dirty tricks, they develop a relationship. Clever writing accompanied by great performances make this an impressive production.

Antonette Hudak’s HOW TO LOVE A DRUG ADDICT is compelling due to a tragic story portrayed by accomplished actors, and A BOATLOAD OF TSURIS by Scott Haskell is full of sharp-witted writing sometimes poorly executed. The actors in Lawrence F. Schwabacher’ BLUE JAY grow on you as we watch an uneasy truce develop between the two. Vanessa Long’s HUSHED is an amazing complex dance sequence choreographed in a very limited space.

The Manhattan Rep’s 10th Anniversary Event is like a buffet – a variety of selections that you may or may not like but you definitely won’t leave hungry.

- Laurie Lawson -

WEARING BLACK

New York Musical Theatre Festival presents

WEARING BLACK

311 West 43rd St. Third Floor
NY NY 10036

7, 10, 11, 13, 15 July

Book, Music and Lyrics by Riley Thomas
Directed by Jeremy Scott Lapp

Featuring Devin Ilaw, Erin Maya, BJ Gruber, Hayley Anna Norris, Alexis Field, Kevin Schuering and Mark Coffin

When Evan’s twin brother dies of a drug overdose, the emotional wreckage he leaves behind starts to destroy everyone who loved him in Riley Thomas’ dark musical WEARING BLACK. The show opens with a lovely, slow-building ballad that nicely introduces the characters, although the vocal blend was a little uneven.

The simple, multipurpose set is well used, but lighting was muddy and did not cover the whole area in which the actors were placed. It is not apparent why in that small space it was necessary to use body mics. It was incredibly distracting when they were taking off their clothes and all you noticed was the mic pack and cord. There was also a lot of head touching that had to be hesitant so as not to disturb the mics. Credited in the program was Fight Choreographer and Intimacy Specialist Andrew Kenneth Moss. That is the first time I’ve heard of an Intimacy Specialist, but he should have insisted on either leaving their clothes on or getting rid of the mics!

The cast all have strong voices, but there were two swings on in the performance I saw (as Evan and Alyssa), so that may be why the blend and timing were sometimes a little off. Neither the music nor the lyrics were exceptional, and except for one delightful engagement scene, the show is unrelentingly grim. It could definitely use a little more lightness, not only to relieve the emotional darkness, but to understand why these characters all care for each other in the first place.

- Jean Tait -

THE WEIR

The Irish Repertory Theatre
presents

THE WEIR

Written by Conor McPherson
Directed by Ciaran O’Reilly
Set Design: Charlie Corcoran
Costume Design: Leon Dobkowski
Lighting Design: Michael Gottlieb
Sound Design: Drew Levy
Production Stage Manager: Jeff Davolt

Featuring: Sean Gormley, John Keating, Amanda Quaid, Tim Ruddy, Paul O’Brien

Press Representative: Coyle Entertainment

The Irish Repertory Theatre
DR2 Theatre

103 East 15th Street
Tues,Thurs at 7pm; Wed,Fri & Sat at 8pm; Wed & Sat at 3pm
Through August 23, 2015
http://www.irishrep.org/theweir2015.html


A group of lonely regulars at the local pub are musing about how Finbar - the only married one of the group - will arrive with a newcomer in town - Valerie. Valerie is escaping her former life and seeking peace in this rural part of Ireland. There is great Irish banter amongst them as they discuss Finbar’s seemingly inappropriate friendship. Finbar and Valerie arrive and find shelter from the ominous whipping wind. It’s apparent that Valerie’s presence fills a void in these men’s lives.

Once they arrive and everyone has ordered their pints and “small ones”, they begin to spin mesmerizing, Irish tales that are at the heart of this play. Fairy and ghost stories abound, revealing the loneliness of these damaged souls and their need for belonging.

There is Jack, the grumpy old garage shop owner who is full of regret for a love gone by; his hired hand Jimmy, who lives with his aging mother; Brendan, the pub owner, encaged behind his bar, frets about his sisters who are determined to manage his affairs and control his every move. But Valerie’s story is the most haunting of all.

This production of THE WEIR, a terrifically, engaging script, is staged in this intimate space, creating a more personable and moving performance. It is definitely worth a ticket to see these quirky characters portrayed by talented, believable actors in this tragic comedy.

- Gloria Talamas -

HAPPY DAYS

The Flea Theater presents
The Theatre @ Boston Court’s Production of

HAPPY DAYS

By Samuel Beckett

Featuring

BROOKE ADAMS and TONY SHALHOUB

Directed by ANDREI BELGRADER
Scenic Designer: TAKESHI KATA
Lighting Designer: TOM ONTIVEROS
Costume Designer: MELANIE WATNICK
Sound Designer: ROBERT ORIOL
Prop Designer: MADISON RHOADES
Stage Manager: MICHAL V. MENDELSON
Assistant Stage Manager: BEN ANDERSON
Production Consultant: ALYSSA ESCALANTE
Wardrobe: LAURA ARCHER
Wardrobe Assistant: GABRIELLE D’ENTREMONT
Assistant to Ms. Adams: MARIETTE STRAUSS
Sound Board Operator: D.R. BAKER

The Flea Theater
41 White Street (3 blocks below Canal Street between Broadway and Church Street)
(212) 352-3101 or www.theflea.org


Samuel Beckett’s existential play, HAPPY DAYS, celebrates the resilience of the human spirit while asking “why bother?’ Perhaps that’s what makes this such an intriguing play. Put two veteran actors in the male and female roles, Brooke Adams and Tony/Emmy/Screen Actors Guild/Golden Globe Award-winning Tony Shalhoub, and how could you lose? Winnie is buried in sand up to her waist in the first act and up to her neck in act two. She awakens to a bell and begins her day with routines and rituals performed under an unrelenting sun. She prattles to herself and to Willie as she empties out her purse. Willie in turn occasionally grunts in response to Winnie’s non-stop questions or reads headlines from a decrepit newspaper.

Adams gives Winnie a flighty persona and yet grounds her figuratively and literally in a determination to survive and find hope in the minutest of circumstances. Shalhoub, although seldom seen, is a stabilizing and necessary force in Winnie’s life. He serves as both a companion, albeit barely participating, and a reminder of younger days. Together they form a union against all odds. In HAPPY DAYS the humor is droll, the questions go unanswered, and the performances are impressive. Definitely worth a trip down to The Flea.

- Laurie Lawson -

TAKING FLIGHT:  SONGS OF HOPE

TAKING FLIGHT: SONGS OF HOPE

At the 2015 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
Paradise Factory Downstairs Theater
64 East 4th Street
NY NY

26, 27 June and 1, 6, 7 July2015

Created and performed by Sarah Jebian

Directed by Robb Hillman and David McMullin
Accompanied by David Libby

The mission of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is to help artists shine a light on the issues facing our society and support the organizations working to make a difference. I have now seen three productions at this festival. TAKING FLIGHT is the first one that fit that mission. The others two didn’t seem to match their chosen organization that their proceeds supported. It was as if they just randomly chose a charity that had nothing to do with the subject matter of their pieces.

TAKING FLIGHT is also the best show I’ve seen at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.

Anchored in the lovely presence and gorgeous voice of Sarah Jebian, the excellent song choices were perfect for the journey she takes in TAKING FLIGHT. Each song goes a little deeper into Sarah’s life as we not only find out what is important to her, but are inspired by her. TAKING FLIGHT soars.

Donations will be collected after each show for Standing on the Side of Love, a non-profit organized by the Unitarian Universalist Organization with the goal of harnessing love’s power to challenge exclusion, oppression, and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, race, religion, or any other identity. www.standingonthesideoflove.org.

- Jean Tait -

THE SPOILS

The New Group
www.TheNewGroup.org
Artistic Director Scott Elliott, Executive Director Adam Bernstein
In association with Lisa Matlin present

THE SPOILS

By Jesse Eisenberg

With

REIN DARKE, JESSE EISENBERG, KUNAL NAYYAR, ANNAPURNA SRIRAM, MICHAEL ZEGAN

Directed by SCOTT ELLIOTT
Set Design: DEREK McLANE
Costume Design: SUSAN HILFERTY
Lighting Design: PETER KACZOROWSKI
Sound Design: ROB MILBURN and MICHAEL BODEEM
Projection Design: OLIVIA SEBESKY
Fight Direction: UNKLEDAVE’S FIGHT-HOUSE
Production Supervisor: PRF PRODUCTIONS
Production Stage Manager: VALERIE A. PETERSON
Casting: JUDY HENDERSON, CSA
Public Relations: BRIDGET KLAPINSKI
Advertising: AKA
Associate Artistic Director: IAN MORGAN
Development Director: JAMIE LEHRER
General Management: DR THEATRICAL MANAGEMENT

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre
480 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 279-4200 or www.TicketCentral.com

Jesse Eisenberg’s THE SPOILS is a multi-faceted exploration of relationships. What shapes our behaviors, our motives, our aspirations, our fears, and our hopes; how does this affect the way we interact with others? Ben (Jesse Eisenberg) and Kalyan (Kunal Nayyar) are unlikely roommates. Ben from a family of well-being and Kaylan from recently devastated Napal have structured a for-the-most-part peaceful co-habitation. While the easy-going Kalyan displays a penchant for PowerPoint as he learns the ways of America, a wired Ben bounces off walls, scales furniture, and shoots out sharp-edged sarcasm and cynicism under the guise of being a progressive filmmaker. Eisenberg is intensely high-energy throughout the entire play – he must be totally exhausted at the end of each performance. Kalyan’s girlfriend (Annapurna Sriram) is no fan of Ben’s, and the situation is only agitated by the re-introduction of Ben’s childhood fantasy Sarah (Erin Darke) and her fiancé Ted (Michael Zegen). As Ben battles for one-uppence, his power is diminished, his erotic dreams are analyzed, his friendships are tested, his lies are revealed, and his vulnerabilities are bared. And to the victor goes the spoils.

Kudos to this fantastic ensemble as characters battle and unite in this provoking work. Although the last act could be pared by 15 minutes, THE SPOILS is a powerful moving play that leaves a lasting imprint.

- Laurie Lawson -

AFTERMATH

Tribe Productions Presents

AFTERMATH

At the 2015 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
Paradise Factory Downstairs Theater
64 East 4th Street
NY NY

17, 20, 24, 27 June 2015

Written and directed by J.C. Svec

Featuring Emma Asher, Elizabeth Bowman, Jolie Curran, Audrey Lane, Edward Rosini, Evey Salehi, Rachel Sobel, and Ross Turkington

AFTERMATH
is not a play, but a series of short plays with an interstitial piece that runs in between each short. Other than all being about dying and right after, they don’t seem to have anything in common, and it is a rather uneven combination as some of the pieces are more successful than others.

The Cemetery Spirits are a woman we can see and a woman we cannot see. It is never explained either to the audience or the characters why one is invisible, and we never really learn anything about the women so it is never clear what their dramatic arc is.

Far more effective were Visitation and The Deluxe Package. The former is about a selfish, but not bad man (Edward Rosini) who has died and comes to realize that the practice of prayers for the dead used to be what helped folks out of purgatory and into heaven, but since that practice has died out (no pun intended), purgatory is where everyone seems to get stuck for good.

The Deluxe Package is a terrific satire about where modern society’s obsession with advertising has led. A dying person can get some extra cash at the end by selling their funeral space to advertisers (open caskets=more revenue!). Rachel Sobel is particularly good in this sketch as the synthetically sympathetic saleswoman.

A portion of the proceeds from AFTERMATH benefit The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.

- Jean Tait -

MALLORCA

Abingdon presents

MALLORCA

Abingdon Theatre
312 West 36th St. 6th Floor
NY NY 10018

29 May-21 June 2015

Written by Sheldon Bull
Directed by Donald Brenner

Featuring L.J. Ganser, Brian Russell, Steven Hauck, Rory Scholl, and Lisa Riegel

Imagine Golden Girls as boys in Manhattan. Four guys who are getting on in age (the running gag is a continual need to pee), each fitting a different stereotype, discover that being friends with each other is far more important than any of them realized.

Businessman Stan (a slick L.J. Ganser) is on the edge of his marriage failing. Leo (bundle of nerves Brian Russell) is about to lose his business. Arthur (the delightfully snobby Steven Hauck) is too busy bragging to notice anyone else around him. Holding them all together is their nebbish-y friend Julius (whiny cry-baby Rory Scholl). It would have been nice to see something other than neuroses in Julius to understand why all these busy men would put up with him, but he is really just a gimmick. The heart of the show appears in the second act with the much-needed arrival of some estrogen in the lovely form of Lisa Riegel’s Roberta. Throwing a woman in the mix is just the ticket for emotional revelations and lessons learned.

Written by Sheldon Bull (television writing credits too numerous to mention), the sitcom-ish laughs come fast and furious. There is not a lot of depth, but there is a lot of humor. From modest chuckles to explosive guffaws, MALLORCA is extremely funny.

- Jean Tait -

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

Masterworks Theater Company

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

47th Street Theater
304 West 47th Street
NY NY 10036

5-28 June 2015

Directed by Tamilla Woodard

It is such a cliché to do A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM in the summer. It’s a great opportunity to bring in a film/television star who wants some theater cred by doing some Shakespeare, and it pulls in box office receipts for a theater. How refreshing, then, to see a production of relatively not-famous actors diving in and bringing this Dream to such delightful life.

Directed by Tamilla Woodard with verve and joy, this Midsummer is an exhilarating romp that should easily achieve the Masterworks Theater’s goals of igniting a younger generation’s love of live theater. From the non-generic ingénues showing off feisty physical comedy chops (Sheria Irving, Hermia, and Becca Ballinger, Helena) to the tiniest scene-stealer, Em Grosland, the cast is universally adorable. Also outstanding are Nick Clearly as a sweetly devious Puck, and Warren Jackson making a frenziedly funny Bottom. Many of the cast play multiple parts and each little character has its own charm. You will want to take each and every one of them home with you so you can watch them instead of television every night!

The staging is fun, but not confusing (no easy feat), the costumes are eclectic and perfectly suited for each character, and all are aided by the clever and multifunctional set. The music and sound design are marvelous and add a layer of richness to what is a deceptively simple production.

Let us hope that Masterworks Theater Company produces more classics in this vein. It will enrich theatergoing for all generations!

- Jean Tait -

EASIER SAID THAN DONE

Bear Productions presents

EASIER SAID THAN DONE

At the 2015 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
Paradise Factory Downstairs Theater
64 East 4th Street
NY NY

18, 21, 28, 29, June, and 9 July 2015

Written by Paul DeSena
Directed by Kristen Penner

Featuring Dana Leigh Snyder, Michael S. Rehse, Emily DeSena, and Christopher Stokes

Nikki loves her best friend Nathan, but is married to Justin. Justin loves Catherine who is married to Nathan. Just change partners and dance, people! But that would be too easy for this bunch. Apparently friends since high school (or early college) not a one of this foursome seems able to settle for what they actually want because they are too busy thinking they should want something else, so all of them are miserable.

Catherine is a cold bitch. Nikki is insecure. Nathan is a whiner. Justin is a douchebag. Two unlikable couples in the hands of an Edward Albee becomes brilliant theater, but as the title of this play suggests, that is EASIER SAID THAN DONE. This is NOT Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe.

The women are the stronger of the four actors, bringing slightly more complexity to their one-note characters. There are secrets that are (sort of) revealed during the course of the evening. I’m still not sure if Catherine had a child and gave it up or had an abortion. Nathan refers to Justin as being so much younger, but they all seemed to have been in school at the same time. The piece builds to a violent confrontation and then, abruptly, ends.

The whole cast all does a good job of making very minimal set pieces feel like more, but the costumes are distractingly bad. As no costumer was listed in the program, I’m assuming they supplied their own, which would be fine if they weren’t so obviously in disrepair—hems hanging down from the back of jackets, holes in sweaters, and pockets of dark items badly fixed with white thread.

The good news is that proceeds go to the Hunker Down Innitiave (sic), a program that provides assistance to women seeking to escape abusive situations.

- Jean Tait -

DINNER WITH THE BOYS

The Acorn Theatre
Pat Flicker Addiss, Olympus Theatricals, LLC Present

DINNER WITH THE BOYS

Written by DAN LAURIA

Starring
RAY ABRUZZO, DAN LAURIA, RICHARD ZAVAGLIA

Directed by FRANK MEGNA
Scenic Design: JESSICA PARKS
Costume Design: PATRICIA E. DOHERTY
Lighting Design: JILL NAGLE
Sound Design: MATT KRAUS
Production Stage Manager: LINDSAY M. STRINGFELLOW
Production Supervisor: PRODUCTION CORE
Press Representation: SAM RUDY MEDIA RELATIONS
Advertising: DR ADVERTISING
Marketing: LEANNE SCHANZER PROMOTIONS, INC.
Logo Design & Social Media: W MEDIA GROUP
General Management: DR THEATRICAL MANAGEMENT

Acorn Theatre & Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com

Dan Lauria’s DINNER WITH THE BOYS is your typical mob story with a flavorful twist. Charlie (Dan Lauria) and Dom (Richard Zavaglia) are living in exile (or they may as well be – they are living in the suburbs of New Jersey for cripe’s sake!) because they have encouraged the wrath of Big Anthony Jr. (Ray Abruzzo). Although they are fed up with their punishment, they know better than to defy the wishes of the explosive kingpin…or do they?

The acting in DINNER WITH THE BOYS is impressive. Special kudos go to Zavaglia who is delicious as the devoted cook. The plot has its own unique quirkiness and moves along at a brisk pace. And the kitchen set (scenic design by Jessica Parks) is so authentic and comfy it makes you want to pull up a chair and join the guys for a quick repast. The only fault in this production is that the humor is predictable. Although executed expertly, we’ve seen it all before. Humor that matches the originality of the plot would move DINNER WITH THE BOYS from good to great.

- Laurie Lawson -

GORDY CRASHES

Ricochet Collective Presents

GORDY CRASHES

IRT Theatre
164 Christopher Street

15-27 June 2015

Written by Sam Byron
Directed by Sherri Eden Barber

Featuring Dave Klasko, Jody Flader and Ruffin Prentiss

When Gordy’s apartment is trashed by Superstorm Sandy, he finds himself in the unlikely position of crashing at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. Making the situation even more awkward is that he was invited to do so by his ex-girlfriend’s roommate. Clever dialogue flies as Mere (Jody Flader) tries to balance sympathy for his situation and anger over his abrupt ending of their relationship a year ago. Ms. Flader (reminiscent of a young Hope Davis) is excellent at playing that fine line. Also good are Dave Klasko as the neurotic Gordy watching his life crash around him and Ruffin Prentiss as the mysterious upstairs neighbor.

Sam Byron’s play is well-written and his characters are sharply drawn. I only wish the ending had been a little more impactful. The set, costumes and especially the sound design are all excellent. The Ricochet Collective is off to a great start with Gordy Crashes as their inaugural production.

- Jean Tait -

THE OLD MASTERS

The Flea Presents

THE OLD MASTERS

41 White Street
5-28 June 2015

Written by Sam Marks
Directed by Brandon Stock

Featuring The Bats: Adelind Horan, Rory Kulz, Alesandra Nahodil

Ben Schmitt is an artist-turned-art teacher who still craves the success and attention of the ever-changeable art world. He’s got a beautiful, successful wife who is pregnant with their first child. Everything seems fine until an old friend disappears and his grieving girlfriend asks him to handle the paintings of his estate. The unexpected success of the missing artist shines a light on everything Ben thinks he’s missing.

While the premise is supposed to be about art, one never gets the feeling that Ben really cares about art. He is driven not to bring his own vision to light, but to re-create the style of his missing friend in order to taste a little bit of fame and money. His shallowness and selfishness is so obvious, that one wonders why either of these women would put up with him for five minutes, let alone why an audience would care.

I do have to say that The Flea’s downstairs venue was so hot and the seats so uncomfortable, that it was impossible to enjoy the performers who were working so hard in the heat. Surely they could get someone to donate better chairs and if the air doesn’t work, get it fixed!

- Jean Tait -

THIS IS MARY BROWN

La Mama Earth Presents

THIS IS MARY BROWN

La Mama First Floor Theatre
74a East 4th St.
NY NY 10003
14-28 June 2015

Written and Performed by Winsome Brown
Directed by Brad Rouse

Mary Brown was a character. With her sharp tongue and clever observations, it is natural that her daughter would enjoy playing her. Winsome Brown is a lovely, talented actress, and although I never saw the actual Mary Brown, my guess is that Winsome is a talented mimic as well. Her Mary is a delightful and moving person. Watching her navigate marriage, motherhood and drinking made me feel as if I had not only met, but actually knew her.

In THIS IS MARY BROWN, there are a lot of characters other than Mary and her daughter, and as talented as Winsome is, it is not possible to make each character memorable other than that they were not Mary or Winsome. The play needed more of the core relationship and less of the tertiary characters. Also, Mary’s alcoholism was never obviously a problem, other than people saying she drank too much. There were no stories of how it endangered her relationships or made it difficult for her to function.

The lights, set and blocking were perfect for navigating this one-woman show.

- Jean Tait -

R/EVOLUTION

THE ROBERT MOSS THEATER presents

R/EVOLUTION

Book by WILLIAM MOULTON and M M De VOE
Music and Lyrics by WILLIAM MOULTON
Director: RICHARD ST GEORGE
Choreography: WILLIAM MOULTON
Projection Design: DAVID BENGALI
Lighting Design: AMITH CHANDRASHAKER
Set Design: SCOTT DAHL
Sound Design: EMERSON DALY
Costume Design: ARI FULTON
Video Engineer: JON BREMNER
Production Stage Manager: LINDSEY GRADWOHL

Cast: MYKEL VAUGHN, DEBBIE WILLIAMS, ALISON ROSE MUNN, JAMES PARKS, CLARK WILLIAMS, ERIC PADILLA, JESSI ST GEORGE

Choreographic Ensemble: GEORGINA BATES, MEGAN NORDLE, ALEXANDER BETKA, COLIN RANF, ARIEL THARPE, KEVIN PINERO

The Robert Moss Theater
440 Lafayette Street between Astor Place and East 4th Street, NYC
For more information, visit their website: http://www.r-evolution-the-musical.com
May 30 - June14, 2015

R/EVOLUTION
is a new musical with dance and multi-media set 150 years into the future with a scientific bent centered around corporate domination versus our present system of countries with their respective governments ruling the world. The leaders in the corporate hierarchy have suppressed emotions caused by hormones and other factors and have created robotic-like humans in a very sterile environment. Psychothrobics was created through dance and movement to control emotions. However, through a successful clone from the DNA of a strand of hair from a woman 150 years before, emotions abound and a pair of scientists begin daring experiments that threaten their very existence as well as corporate domination. What will happen to the ruthless governing paradigm when freedom of expression is unleashed?

Overall, this story appeals to a general audience but also to research scientists who research the human genome which is the map of your DNA, the double helix that contains all your genes. Your genome is composed of 23 pairs of chromosomes and what the scientists in the play were experimenting with to create a human clone from the year 2015.

As a side note which is a tough comparison, I'm accustomed to watching dance choreography On Broadway and with the American Ballet so I think the choreography needs work but it could have been the stage was too small to accommodate all those dancers. If I were to imitate Neil Rosen's method of reviewing films, I'd give this Sci-Fi production two apples out of four.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

HEY JUDE

the cell
presents the World Premiere of

HEY JUDE

Written by Nancy Manocherian
Directed by Kira Simring
Composer: Michael Dellaira
Set Designer: Peiyi Wong
Lighting Designer: Gertjan Houben
Costume Design; Rebecca Freund
Sound Design: M. Florian Staab
Stage Manager: Adrian Pena

Featuring: Larry Cahn, Catherine Dupont, Deborah Offner, Adam Weppler

Press Representative: Ron Lasko, Spin Cycle NYC

Urban Stages
259 West 30th Street
May 29 - June 21, 2015
www.thecelltheatre.org; 800.838.3006


It is Christmas time and this home is filled with anxieties. Mom, an aging hippy, is haunted by the monkey in her head that incessantly reminds her of her poor life decisions. She uses her faith in Jesus to support her denial in the life she has built. She married an atheist, Jewish, football player who ends up demented; they adopted a son from an orphanage where the babies have been neglected. She was certain she could help them both and create a happy home environment.

Her husband is retired and lives in his brain-injured bubble. Her son, is searching for his past, feeling incomplete. He finds his mother’s diary and discovers his past was all fabricated, Beatles style. “We believed our love could save him”, she says. “When all is lost, there is Jude,” the patron saint of lost causes. Things finally come to a head, and she realizes that the life she wished for is a fading fantasy.

HEY JUDE is a story about a family coming to terms with the dysfunctional, faulty thinking that defines them.

- Gloria Talamas -

THE VAUDEVILLIANS:  BRINGING UP BABY

THE VAUDEVILLIANS: BRINGING UP BABY

Created and performed by Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales

The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd St (downstairs inside the West Bank Café)
21 May-28 June

Jinkx Monsoon (a winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the alter ego of Jerick Hoffer) is the gorgeous and all-around fabulous Kitty Witless. Kitty and her husband Dr. Dan von Dandy (Major Scales, aka Richard Andriessen) were a husband and wife vaudeville duo frozen in an avalanche in the 1920’s and now thawed out due to global warming. With only their talent and charm to live on, they are once again onstage. Their previous outing, The Vaudevillians was a highly successful show in 2013, and now they are back with even more: a baby-to-be!

Songs and hilarity ensues as Kitty’s pregnancy advances swiftly during the course of the show, leading to the most hysterical birthing scene of all time. Jinkx Monsoon is incredibly talented: singing, ad-libbing and even performing an interpretive dream dance! Major Scales is a piano-man first class, but I found his frenetic energy a bit too much. His rap song was so labored and breathless that it was the only dud of the evening. Once the baby joins them, however, it is non-stop laughing till the end.

- Jean Tait -

L'AMFIPARNASO

THE WEST END THEATER presents

L'AMFIPARNASO
A madrigal comedy from 1594 by Orazio Vecchi

THE WESTERN WIND
Sopranos: MICHELE KENNEDY, LINDA LEE JONES
Countertenor: WILLIAM ZUKOF
Tenors: TODD FRIZZELL, DAVID VANDERWAL
Baritone: ELLIOT Z. LEVINE
with
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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

WHAT WAS LOST

Beautiful Soup Theater Presents

WHAT WAS LOST

Five Plays in Repertory by Steven Carl McCasland

The Clarion Theatre
309 East 26th St.
NY NY 10010

8, 10, 13, 14, 20, 23, 28, 30, 31 May 2015

Written and Directed 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!

- Jean Tait -

FOR THE LAST TIME

Clement Arts
In Association with Epic Theatre Ensemble presents

FOR THE LAST TIME

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

Featuring
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

LITTLE WARS

Beautiful Soup Theater
presents

LITTLE WARS
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

Press Representative: John Capo

Clarion Theatre
309 East 26th Street
Through May 30, 2015
www.beautifulsoup.showclix.com


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.

- Gloria Talamas -

neat & tidy

Beautiful Soup Theater Presents
Five Plays in Repertory by Steven Carl McCasland

neat & tidy

Written and Directed by Steven Carl McCasland

The Clarion Theatre
309 East 26th St.
NY NY 10010

12, 16, 21, 26, 29 May 2015

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!

- Jean Tait -

ATHENA WRITES

Athena Theatre presents
www.athenatheatre.com

ATHENA WRITES

An evening of eight ten-minute plays developed through Athena Theatre’s playwright group inspired by this year’s theme “Undiscovered Inhibitions”

Athena Theatre Playwright Group 2015

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

Stage Manager: ANDRE REVELS
Marketing Coordinator: LISA RICHARDSON

Theatre Row Studio Theatre
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
www.theatrerow.org
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!

- Laurie Lawson -

THE FLATIRON HEX

THE FLATIRON HEX

Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street
15-30 May 2015

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.

- Jean Tait -

WHAT ARE YOU EATING?

The Tank Presents
www.thetanknyc.org

WHAT ARE YOU EATING?
A World Premiere

Created by ERIC WRIGHT & MATT SINGER
Directed by EMILY DeCOLA
Puppets by THE PUPPET KITCHEN

The Tank
151 West 46th Street (between Sixth & Seventh Avenues)
www.brownpapertickets.com
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

DER KANARIENVOGEL (THE CANARY)

THE CLARION THEATRE presents

DER KANARIENVOGEL (THE CANARY)

A new play by STEVEN CARL McCASLAND
Directed by STEVEN CARL McCASLAND

Cast
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

Creative Team
Director: Steven Carl McCasland
Stage Manager: Hailli Ridscale
Assistant Director: Kristen Gehling*
Lighting Designer: Jessical Creager
Costume Designer: Somie Pak

The Clarion Theatre
309 East 26th Street
New York City

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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

Masterworks Theater Company presents

THE GLASS MENAGERIE
By TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

Featuring

SAUNDRA SANTIAGO, RICHARD PRIOLEAU, OLIVIA WASHINGTON, DOUG HARRIS

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.

- Laurie Lawson -

SUMMER AND SMOKE

T. SCHREIBER STUDIO FOR THEATRE & FILM presents

SUMMER AND SMOKE

By TENNESSE WILLIAMS

Cast
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
Rosemary...Kathleen Kuhn
Gonzales...Stephan Antonio Ortiz*
Vernon/Dusty...Philip Rosen
Archie...Evan Silverman*

*Appearing courtesy of the Actors' Equity Association

Production Team

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

Visit: http://tschreiber.org Tel: 212-741-0209
May 6th - June 6th, 2015

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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

MANUSCRIPT

Just Kidding Theatre Company, Inc., presents

MANUSCRIPT

By PAUL GRELLONG

Featuring
CAMERON CLARKE, MATTHEW HANSEN, and KIMBERLY NORDSTROM

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

Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
www.Telecharge.com

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.

- Laurie Lawson -

THE ROAD OF PROMISE

The Collegiate Chorale presents

THE ROAD OF PROMISE

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

Press Representative: Michelle Tabnick

Carnegie Hall/Perelman Stage
May 6 and 7, 2015
http://collegiatechorale.org


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.

- Gloria Talamas -

LUNT AND FONTAINE:  THE CELESTIALS OF BROADWAY

TBE THEATRICAL in association with STAGE LEFT STUDIO presents

LUNT AND FONTANNE:
"THE CELESTIALS OF BROADWAY"

By MARK E. LANG
Directed by OWEN THOMPSON
CAST:
Lynn Fontanne, et al............ALISON J. MURPHY
Alfred Lunt, et al.......................MARK EDWARD LANG

Radio Announcer......MILLER LIDE

Creative Team:
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

Visit http://www.luntandfontanne.com
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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

TWELFTH NIGHT or What You Will - DRINK

LES SHAKES
www.lesshakespeareco.org
presents

TWELFTH NIGHT or What You Will – DRINK
(part of the F*ckin Up Shakespeare Series)
by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Directed and Adapted by MELODY ERFANI
Stage Managed by MAE FRANKEBERGER

April 12 – May 11, 2015

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)

Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/966235 or (800) 838-3006

Cast
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 F*ckin 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.

- Kessa De Santis -

A QUEEN FOR A DAY

Jackson Leonard Productions, Jeff Schneider Present

A QUEEN FOR A DAY

Written by MICHAEL RICIGLIANO, JR.

Starring

DAVID DEBLINGER, VINCENT PASTORE, PORTIA, DAVID PROVAL

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)

April 14th - July 26th; Opening Night - 05/03/15

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.

- Laurie Lawson -

TRASH CUISINE

La Mama Earth
presents

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

Press Representative: Sam Rudy

Ellen Stewart Theatre
La Mama
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.

- Gloria Talamas -

RED FLAMBOYANT

RED FLAMBOYANT

Firebone Theatre
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.

- Jean Tait -

THE BELLE OF BELFAST

THE IRISH REPERTORY THEATRE presents the

THE BELLE OF BELFAST

By NATE RUFUS EDELMAN
Directed by CLAUDIA WEILL

Starring: HAMISH ALLAN-HEADLEY, PATRICIA CONOLLY, ARIELLE HOFFMAN, KATE LYDIC, BILLY MELEADY

Creative Team:
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

Visit http://www.irishrep.org
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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS

THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS

Sonnet Repertory Theare, Inc.
Teatro Lateo at The Clemente Center
107 Suffolk Street, Second Floor, NY NY 10002
April 18-May 2

Adapted and Directed by Nicolas Minas
Written by Carlo Goldoni

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.

- Jean Tait -

COMIDA DE PUTA (F%&KING LOUSY FOOD)

COMIDA DE PUTA (F%&KING LOUSY FOOD)

Multistages
West End Theater at the Church of St. John and St. Andrew
263 West 86th St.
April 8-26

Directed by Lorca Peress
Written by Desi Moreno-Penson


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 -

GO TO SLEEP, GODDAMNIT!

The Krumple Theatre Company presents

GO TO SLEEP, GODDAMNIT!

Written, directed and performed by THE KRUMPLE

JO EVEN BJORKE, JON LEVIN, ODA KIRKEBO NYFLOTT, VINCENT VERNERIE

Lighting Design/Board Op: JAMIE STEFFEN
Run Crew: JESSICA SIMON

The Tank
151 West 46th Street (between Seventh & Sixth Avenues)
www.thekrumple.com
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

THE BISCUIT CLUB

the cell presents

THE BISCUIT CLUB

By MARIANNE DRISCOLL

Featuring
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

the cell
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

CLINTON THE MUSICAL

Kari Lynn Hearn, Grey Gum Productions, Shane Ewen and Ken Davenport present

CLINTON THE MUSICAL

Book by PAUL HODGE & MICHAEL HODGE
Music & Lyrics by PAUL HODGE

Starring
KERRY BUTLER, TOM GALANTICH, DUKE LAGOON

With
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE

Directed by Jonathan Kane
Taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie
Edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner
Performed by Charlotte Hemmings

Lynn Redgrave Theater, Culture Project, Inc.
45 Bleecker Street
April 2-12

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.

- Jean Tait -

UNMENTIONABLES

NYLON FUSION THEATRE COMPANY presents the WORLD PREMIERE of

UNMENTIONABLES

By JOSEPH SAMUEL WRIGHT
Directed by MONTSERRAT MENDEZ

Starring: JEANINE BARTEL, JIMMY BETTS, DANIELLE BOIVIN,
HEATHER E. CUNNINGHAM, MEGHAN JONES, CHRISTINA TOTH, RICK ZAHN

Creative Team:
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
Visit http://www.nylonfusion.org
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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

MACBETH:  THE UNSEX ME HERE PROJECT

MACBETH:  THE UNSEX ME HERE PROJECT

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.

- Jean Tait -

SOLDIER X

Ma-Yi Theater Company
HERE Sublet Series Presentation

SOLDIER X

Here
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.

- Jean Tait -

THE FEAST

THE FEAST

Directed by COURTNEY ULRICH
Written by CORY FINLEY
Featuring THE BATS: IVAN DOLIDO, MARLOWE HOLDEN, DONALDO PRESCOD

The Flea
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.

- Jean Tait -

UNDERWATER GUY

UNDERWATER GUY

Written and performed by STEVE UNDERWOOD

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)
www.stageleftstudio.net
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!

- Laurie Lawson -

ANTIOCH:  SKIRMISH AT THE GATES

13TH STREET REPERTORY THEATER presents

ANTIOCH: SKIRMISH AT THE GATES

A new play by JACK McKEANE
Directed by CHERYL KING
Produced by CYNTHIA KEANE

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 cking3@gmail.com
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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

O'NEILL'S GHOSTS

John Stark Presents a Guest Production at the TBG Theatre
www.johnstarkproductions.com

O’NEILL’S GHOSTS

By JOVANKA BACH
Directed & Produced by JOHN STARK

Starring

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

TBG Theatre
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

FOR THE BENEFIT OF MISS JENNIE GOURLAY

FOR THE BENEFIT OF MISS JENNIE GOURLAY

Directed by Perry Dell’Aquila
Written and Performed by Billy Hipkins

Walkerspace
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!

- Jean Tait -

OTHELLO

OTHELLO

by William ShakespeareDirected by Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican
Starring Ian Moses Eaton, Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican

The Seeing Place @ the Clarion Theatre

www.seeingplacetheater.com

309 East 26th St
Feb 26-Mar 15, Tues-Sat at 7:00pm, Sun at 2:00pm

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.

- Jean Tait -

THE NOMAD

THE FLEA THEATER presents the WORLD PREMIERE of

THE NOMAD

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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

DELIRIUM'S DAUGHTERS

Triumvitrate Artists’ World Premiere of

DELIRIUM’S DAUGHTERS

By NICHOLAS KORN

Featuring

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.

- Laurie Lawson -

BREAKING THE SILENCE



Girl Be Heard and Human Rights Watch presents a world premiere collaboration:

BREAKING THE SILENCE WITH GIRL BE HEARD

February 19, 20, 21 at 8:00PM

AT THE SOHO PLAYHOUSE  (15 Vandam Street)

Directed by KATRINA SYRAN
Written by KATRINA SYRAN and SUZAN CRAIG


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.

- Jean Tait-

PILLOW ON THE STAIRS

the cell in association with Thursday Productions, presents

PILLOW ON THE STAIRS

By Brona Crehan

Featuring
BRONA CREHAN, JAQUELINE KEALY, JOHN McCONNELL

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

the cell
338 West 23rd Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
www.thecelltheatre.org
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.

- Laura Thompson -
http://www.loralia.com @LORALIA

LOVE/SICK

Royal Family Presents

LOVE/SICK

By John Cariani

Starring
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
www.royalfamilyproductions.org


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.

- Laurie Lawson -

THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT

THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT

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


Cast
Doris – Leila McCann
Felix – Joseph Spinelli

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 -

THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

Hunger & Thirst Theatre Collective presents

THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

By Philip Barry

Featuring

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

Theaterlab
357 West 36th Street (between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
www.hungerandthirsttheatre.com
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

DA

The Irish Repertory Theatre presents

DA

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

Press Representative: Coyle Entertainment

Irish Repertory Theatre at the DR2 Theatre
103 East 15th Street
Through March 8, 2015
www.irishrep.org; 212-727-2737.


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.

- Gloria Talamas -

KIND SOULS

Libra Theater Company presents

KIND SOULS

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

Featuring: Lindsey Kyler and John Clarence Stewart

Press Representative: Spin Cycle NYC

Shetler Studios
244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor
Through February 1, 2015
libratheater.org, 347-352-4549


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.

- Gloria Talamas -

A KIND SHOT

A KIND SHOT

www.akindshot.com

Written and Performed by TERRI MATEER

Dramaturgs: SETH BARRISH & LEE BROCK
Lights: BRIAN MATEER

Davenport Theatre
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

VILLAINOUS COMPANY

Rachel Reiner Productions LLC presents

VILLAINOUS COMPANY

By VICTOR L. CAHN

Featuring
ALICE BAHLKE, JULIA CAMPANELLI, and COREY TAZMANIA

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.

- Laurie Lawson -

AFRICA UMOJA

International Arts Foundation presents

AFRICA UMOJA

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

Press Representative: Glenna Freedman

Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street
www.symphonyspace.org; 212.864.5400,

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!

- Gloria Talamas -

ALL THAT DIES AND RISES

ALL THAT DIES AND RISES

Devised by THE ENSEMBLE
Text Excerpted from works by Strindberg, Dostoyesvsky, Gertrude Stein, & Others
Directed by JAMES RUTHERFORD

Featuring
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

IATI Theater
64 East Fourth Street
New York, NY 10003
www.M-34.org
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.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

PEER GYNT


The Immediate Family
presents

PEER GYNT

Written by HENRIK IBSEN
Adapted by SCOTT RAKER
from the translation by WILLIAM & CHARLES ARCHER

Directed by HAAS REGEN

Featuring
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.

- Karen D'Onofrio -

ROLLO'S WILD OAT

Metropolitan Playhouse
presents

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

Press Representative: Metropolitan Playhouse Press

Metropolitan Playhouse
220 East 4th Street
Through December 20, 2014
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/891660; 800.818.3006

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.

- Gloria Talamas -

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

The Irish Repertory Theater Presents

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

Based on the short story by TRUMAN CAPOTE
Book by DUANE POOLE
Music by LARRY GROSSMAN
Lyrics by CAROL HALL

Starring

SAMUEL COHEN, NANCY HESS, TAYLOR RICHARDSON, ASHLEY ROBINSON
SILVANO SPAGNUOLO, VIRGINIA ANN WOODRUFF and ALICE RIPLEY as Sook

Directed by CHARLOTTE MOORE
The Orchestra
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

DR2 Theatre
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!

- Laurie Lawson -

A BRONX TALE

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
presents

Chazz Palminteri in A BRONX TALE

Written by and featuring Chazz Palminteri

Press Representative: Michelle Tabnick Communications

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College
Campus Road at Nostrand Avenue
http://www.brooklyncenter.org


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!

- Gloria Talamas -

SELF MADE MAN: THE FREDERICK DOUGLASS STORY

Derek Yip and Nikita Productions present

SELF MADE MAN: THE FREDERICK DOUGLASS STORY

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

Arclight Theatre
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.

- Laurie Lawson -

NUTCRACKER ROUGE

Company XIV
presents

NUTCRACKER ROUGE

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

XIV
428 Lafayette Street
November 13, 2014 - January 04, 2015; Opening Night:  11/22/14
http://CompanyXIV.com


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.

Gloria Talamas 

NANCY REDMAN'S THE DOCTOR IS NOT IN

NANCY REDMAN’S THE DOCTOR IS NOT IN
A Sci-Fi Comedy That Explores the Hypocrisy of Hippocrates

Written and Performed by NANCY REDMAN
Directed by AUSTIN PENDLETON

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.

- Laurie Lawson -

DEAD SPECIAL CRABS

Wide Eyed Productions
presents

DEAD SPECIAL CRABS

Written by DAN KITROSSER
Directed by KRISTIN SKYE HOFFMAN

Featuring
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

TGB Theatre
312 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
www.BrownPaperTickets.com
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.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

A WAKE OR A WEDDING

Encompass New Opera Theatre
presents

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
encompassopera.org; 866.811.4111

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.

Lots of silly fun.

- Gloria Talamas -

VIETNAM...THROUGH MY LENS

LSNelson Productions
presents

VIETNAM…THROUGH MY LENS

Written & Performed by STU RICHEL
Directed by LINDA S. NELSON

Voiceovers: CHET BROOKS, AL SMITH, & TERENCE McCARTHY
Scenic Designer: MARISA MERRIGAN
Lighting Designer: ELAINE WONG
Photo Montages/Video Design: MICHAEL LEE STEVER
Costume Consultant: SAMANTHA NEWBY
Graphic Designer: PHILIP EMEOTT
Website Design/Development: CHRISTOPHER A. McCARTHY & CHRISTOPHER T. EVANS
Marketing Consultant: TERENCE McCARTHY
Assistant Stage Manager: MELISSA E. CARROLL
Stage Manager: AMY HENAULT
Press Representative: DALE HELLER, HELLERHIGHWATER

Dorothy Strelsin Theater
312 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
www.vietnamthroughmylens.com
November 9 through 23, 2014

STU RICHEL had just earned his law degree when New York called him up for the draft in 1967. He kind of took his time reporting, and when he did, it was too late for him to go in as an officer. Straight to boot camp in Georgia, and here’s your stylish new haircut. Get ready for reality, city boy.

RICHEL wrote this memoir from the viewpoint of how his service in Viet Nam changed him. He had opportunities to avoid the draft. One was to join the Coast Guard National Guard. But something in him prevented him from taking that route. A slim, scholarly looking young man, he neither acts nor thinks like a “killer”. Yet he decides he wants to see action. Once in ‘Nam he is assigned to the JAG office, far from the front and using his legal skills to deal with soldiers who had gone AWOL. He still wants to go into combat. His pals decide he is crazy.

He gets his wish, stuffed into a cargo plane headed into conflict, into an area filled with booby-traps and gunfire. He takes up smoking, since all the C-Rations (Army for “food”, sort of) contain a little pack of cigarettes, generously supplied by the tobacco companies. The camaraderie was deep, the dangers many, and RICHEL wonders at the many potentially suicidal things he did, like crawling into underground tunnels with just a flashlight and a gun. He recounts the joys: a weekend pass to Saigon with its hot showers, real food, and wonderful smells. R&R was in Taiwan with an equal array of delights. During his days at the front, he even meets a very brave, devoted man---who will turn out in the end to be a famous spy.

By 1970 he’s back on Long Island, passing the N.Y. bar exam. He bounces out to San Jose, then to Greenwich Village. In April, 1995, the twentieth anniversary of U.S. withdrawal from Viet Nam, he gets a call from CBS. They are doing a special broadcast and would like him to participate. He’s not sure he wants to go back and touch that sadness.

I’ll let him tell you the rest, including the lessons he learned from the war. RICHEL has written and performs an absolutely engaging, realistic yet primarily light-hearted, view of his participation in a war that tore not only Viet Nam, but this country, to shreds. During the production, photos from his days in the jungle are displayed on a white screen behind him, including pictures of his pals. In a postscript, the screen displays then-and-now photos of him and his friends, and what they are doing in life these days.

VIETNAM…THROUGH MY LENS will resonate with anyone who remembers that era. If you know the Viet Nam War only through history books or your father’s stories, this play will fill in the lines with colorful details and cruel truths. RICHEL tells a great tale, no matter what your age.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

SIGNAL FAILURE

Sasha Ellen Productions
presents

SIGNAL FAILURE

Written by SASHA ELLEN
Directed by PETER DARNEY

Featuring
SASHA ELLEN & SPENCER COWAN

Lighting Design: SHERRY COENEN

SoHo Playhouse
15 Vandam Street
New York, NY 10013
www.sashaellenproductions.com
October 8 through November 16, 2014

The term “short and sweet” fits perfectly here. Young Lorna, taking the subway to work in London, passes the time looking at other travelers. Young Brian does the same, coming home from his night shift.
Each alone, yet mobbed with other people. One day Brian notices a newspaper column called “Missed Connections”. People send tweets about/to strangers they’ve noticed on the daily commute. Rather anonymous and general information, but it intrigues him. Soon thereafter Lorna notices the same column. She begins to read it daily, just in case someone has noticed her. She pretends not to care, but she does.

Symbolically, each character talks in monologue until Brian dares to put an item in the column. Lorna responds. They meet and like what they see. Dialogue begins, as the two move into a relationship. Young love and all its silliness begins. Then, as the title betrays, they hit some accidents, delays, and signal failures. Youthful hearts are easily broken, but perhaps as easily mended. Everyone, including the audience, must wait and see.

This play moves swiftly and is totally relatable to anyone who has had even a crush on someone. It is sweet, but not overly so, and the characters are very real and uncomplicated. Anyone who has ridden a subway knows the truth of the situation. Sometimes eyes do meet for a second. A very nice second. Who hasn’t thought “what if…”?

-Karen D’Onofrio-

POWERHOUSE

Sinking Ship Productions
presents

POWERHOUSE

Created by Josh Luxenberg (writer) and the Sinking Ship Ensemble
Directed by Jon Levin
Produced by Dina Vovsi
Stage Manager: Carly Levin
Puppet Design: The Puppet Kitchen
Costume Design: Erin Schultz
Lighting Design: Nicholas Houfek
Sound Design: Sean Brennan

Featuring: Erik Lochtefeld, Jessica Frey, Hanley Smith, Tyler Bunch, Spencer Lott, Eric Wright, Clare McNulty

Press Representative: David Gibss/DARR Publicity

New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street
November 3- 23, 2014
http://www.powerhouse-theplay.com


POWERHOUSE introduces us to Raymond Scott, a composer and machine tinkerer unfamiliar to us. Many of his compositions were soon adapted for cartoons (Bugs Bunny, Ren and Stimpy, Daffy Duck, and Porgy Pig, among others). We are now being introduced to the man behind the music.

Raymond Scott is quite eccentric. Bland, yet obsessive about precision. He insists on perfection and having his Quintette play his songs with soul, testing their patience. His need for perfection takes a toll on those around him. He is not the easiest person to work or live with as his band members and many wives come and go.

He is more comfortable with his instruments and machines than with people. He is driven to create the grand machine that can allow people to listen to compositions in a composer’s mind. His obsession went beyond what was humanly possible, and kept others distant.

The cartoon puppets that appear in the show are hilarious, and a reminder of the Warner Brothers Saturday morning cartoon shows. The animators and their “Kalamity Cartoon” puppets steal the show.

The play is an introduction to an interesting American composer. Though a bit confusing, as it moves from scene to scene, one gets to know the various pieces and periods that makeup Scott’s life. The set design with the rolling desks that serve as pianos, machines, TVs and more are handy. Erik Lochtefeld does a fine job portraying Scott and the animators are great fun.

- Gloria Talamas -

OCTOBER IN THE CHAIR AND OTHER FRAGILE THINGS

oldsoundroom
presents

OCTOBER IN THE CHAIR AND OTHER FRAGILE THINGS
Based on the Short Stories of Best Selling Author Neil Gaiman

Adapted by the oldsoundroom ACTING ENSEMBLE
Directed & Scored by MICHAEL McQUILKEN

Featuring
WILLIAM DeMERRIT, LAURA GRAGTMANS, ELIA MONTE-BROWN,
JACKSON MORAN, & MICHAEL McQUILKEN

Lighting Design: SOLOMON WEISBARD
Masks & Sunbird Puppet Design: MICHAEL McQUILKEN
All Puppets Except Sunbird: ELIZABETH BARRETT GROTH
Sound Design: MICHAEL McQUILKEN
Clothing Donated by NICHOLAS K
Press Representation: GLENNA FREEDMAN

The American Theatre of Actors
314 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
www.oldsoundroom.com
October 29 through November 2, 2014

If you are unfamiliar with NEIL GAIMAN, he is the author of the novel “Coraline” and helped adapt it for the animated film version. Beyond that, his dark absurdist tales are cult favorites of fantasy and sci-fi fans. This production is an interpretation of five stories from his book “Fragile Things”.

Five of The Months are assembled. October sits on his throne, ruler of the meeting. He is a fearsome creature with devilish horns and a painted face. His authority is unquestioned, his power obvious in his words and actions. Reigning among the dead trees and cobwebs in the half-light, he orders each of the others to tell a tale never told before, then receive a reward.

Cantankerous August complains his way into going first. His creation is suitably black and macabre. It’s adapted from GAIMAN’s story “Feeders and Eaters”. It is a grim as it sounds. It involves blood and raw meat. Let’s just leave it at that.

Second is the lovely, chain-smoking February. Her imaginative recital of a most intriguing yet morbid Valentine’s Day love story also involves blood and red meat. There is definitely a trend here.

Third is timid, flighty, manic May. Hers is a tale within a tale. She portrays a Victorian writer whose quill pen never stops moving and whose narrative bounces around like a tennis ball. Hers is the most entertaining narrative, with its jolts and jumps and revisions. Melodrama is her forte, and LAURA GRAGTMANS goes all the way in emoting May’s confusion and self-doubt at lightning speed. Consider that her part comes from GAIMAN’s “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire”. It’s a complicated experience, to say the least. It includes an impressive ballet of a duel as well as puppetry. And many other things. So many other things. And, though in constant motion, she never stops talking. Never.

March, a troll, has perhaps the saddest story. Portrayed by MICHAEL McQUILKEN, he leads an unlikely group to an unlikely dinner. McQUILKEN also shines as the on-stage musician, subtly playing the piano and other instruments over in his dark corner, enhancing every morbid, funny, queasy moment of the whole production.

OCTOBER IN THE CHAIR AND OTHER FRAGILE THINGS defies classification. It is brilliantly performed and totally enjoyable, even if your skin crawls from time to time. It has ingenious yet funhouse terrors scattered throughout. It is too gory to be “Twilight Zone” material, but emits that same suspenseful feeling to permeate the dark around you. Per meat. Per me ate. Definitely a word made for these tales.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

THAT PLAY

Tom Gualtieri & Heather Hill
in association with
Stage Left Studio
present

THAT PLAY: A SOLO MACBETH


Written by TOM GUALTIERI & HEATHER HILL
Directed by HEATHER HILL

Starring TOM GUALTIERI

Original Music & Sound: ERIN HILL
Lighting: ELLEN ROSENBERG

Stage Left Studio
214 West 30th Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10001
October 28 & November 4 & 8, 2014
www.stageleftstudio.net

It’s enough of a miracle when an actor playing Macbeth in a traditional production can nail that complex character. TOM GUALTIERI not only grabs Macbeth by the throat and shakes him down to DNA level, he also portrays the delightful (heavy irony here) Lady Macbeth, the ultimate “power behind the throne”; the three witches, Macduff, Banquo and his apparition, King Duncan, and other characters adding up to a total of nineteen, and one wickedly witty narrator. All this with no props and wearing plain brown modern casual clothes.

Alternately sympathetic, heroic, evil, murderous, brave, and insane, he pauses from time to time to break that fourth wall and make light-hearted comments on what just happened. Then snap! Back into character and on with the play. It is a true miniature of Macbeth and, at the same time, a highly entertaining twist on the play.

The original music and sound, plus subtle lighting changes, enhance the atmosphere. There is audience participation at one point. Don’t worry. He just passes out note paper. No stage fright involved. But those papers drive home his point: do we all have a bit of Macbeth in us? Or a touch of Lady Macbeth? Perhaps we, too, are capable of evil. Or at least of thinking of evil. It’s but a short step from the thought to the deed. We see that in the news every day.

THAT PLAY is a compelling perspective on what is one of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedies. No happy ending here. No redemption. But excellent entertainment thanks to the skills of TOM GUALTIERI and HEATHER HILL.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

SHUT UP SIT DOWN & EAT

The Anne L. Bernstein Theater
At The Snapple Theater Center
Plomedy Production presents

SHUT UP SIT DOWN & EAT
www.shutupsitdownandeat.com
a.k.a. Stai Zitto Siediti E Mangia

Written by and Starring

TINA GIORGI, JOE MOFFA, ERICE TARTAGLIONE, CHRIS MONTY

Co-Written by TOM INGEGNO
Directed by EVE BRANDSTEIN
Advertising & Marketing: DTE AGENCY
Publicity: JT/PR JOE TRENTACOSTA

The Snapple Theater Center
1627 Broadway at 50th Street, 4th Floor
(212) 921-7862 or www.ticketmaster.com
October 12 through December 28; Opening Night: 10/26/14

SHUT UP SIT DOWN & EAT is a plomedy which has defined itself as “the only cure for Italian insanity.” A plomedy is a new theatrical event that blends the wit of stand-up comedy and the intensity of a one-man show presented in an innovative play format by professional comedians. Whatever. All you really need to know is that this production is hilarious. Full of sharp-witted comedy, this is a grand celebration of Italians in all their glory

Four individuals of Italian heritage (Tina Giorgi, Joe Moffa, Eric Tartaglione, and Chris Monty) meet for the first time in a group therapy session. From gravy to grandmas to macaronis and mamalukes and onward through funerals, vasectomies, marriage, divorce, and child-rearing, these four shine a light on the Italian way of thinking, eating, and dealing with issues in both the group and as asides. A funnier time could not be had. And there’s even room for a few heart-breaking moments.


SHUT UP SIT DOWN & EAT is such an exquisite piece of work that you will either leave glad that you’re Italian or wishing you were. Tell everyone you know – dese Italians are funny guys.

- Laurie Lawson -

THE BRIGHTNESS OF HEAVEN

Brierpatch Productions on behalf of VH Theatrical Development Foundation presents

THE BRIGHTNESS OF HEAVEN
www.TheBrightnessOfHeaven.com

A New Play by LAURA PEDERSEN
Directed by LUDOVICA VILLAR HAUSER

Featuring

MARK BANIK, EMILY BATSFORD, PETER CORMICAN, BILL COYNE, PAULA EWIN
JAMES MICHAEL LAMBERT, KATE KEARNEY-PATCH, KENDALL RILEIGH

Costume & Scenic Designs: MEGANNE GEORGE
Lighting Design: NATALIE ROBIN
Sound Design: JANIE BULLARD
Dialect Design: AMY STOLLER
Ms. Pedersen’s Publicity: WILEY SAICHEK
Marketing & Advertising: RED RISING MARKETING
Press: COYLE ENTERTAINMENT
Fiddler: KENDRA JO BROOK
General Management: BRIERPATCH PRODUCTIONS
Production Stage Manager: ALISON HASSMAN

Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Lane
(866) 811-4111 or https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/33005
October 16th - December 14th; Opening Night – 10/26/14

What is it about family get-togethers around a dinner table that brings out the insanity and dysfunction? Laura Pedersen’s THE BRIGHTNESS OF HEAVEN has this inevitable phenomenon down pat. The Kilgannons are a typical Irish Catholic family residing in Buffalo, NY, in 1974. In celebration of the head of the household’s (Peter Cormican) birthday, different generations collide and clash as secrets are revealed and dogmas are challenged. The rules are so simple for the older peer group (Kate Kearney-Patch, Paula Ewin) because the Bible tells them so. Their offspring (Mark Banik, Emily Batsford, Bill Coyne, James Michael Lambert, and Kendall Rileigh) are a part of changing times that include the Vietnam War, Watergate, Hippies, drugs, and the dreaded long hair. Throw in homosexuality, unwed mothers, and Jewish suitors, and chaos reigns.

In this delightful comedy of Faith vs. Reality, Pedersen has perfectly captured the 1970’s in attitudes, fears, and hopes of this era. Sexual harassment is a way of life for working women, punishment is severe for homosexual sinners, motherhood is expected but only when properly wedded within one’s own race and religion, and men are the strong ones who never admit they have feelings. Fantastic sets and costumes (a stage full of polyester) by Meganne George further serve to authentic the time period. As the lines become blurred, the family fights for survival while each generation clings to their beliefs and the gap widens. An impressive cast and succinct direction by Ludovica Villar Hauser allow an entertaining peek at the future and THE BRIGHTNESS OF HEAVEN.

- Laurie Lawson -

EXCUSE MY DUST

Michael Shannon and Soho Playhouse
present

EXCUSE MY DUST - “A Dorothy Parker Portfolio”

Written by Jennifer Engstrom
Directed by Darren Lee Cole

Featuring: Jennifer Engstrom

Soho Playhouse
15 VanDam
October 5- November 9, 2014
www.sohoplayhouse.com
212.691.1555

The title of this play is derived from Dorothy Parker’s wish to have her epitaph read “Excuse My Dust”. This one woman show enacts 5 female characters from Ms. Parker’s short stories. Each monologue is of a frustrated woman longing to be loved and accepted, providing us with some of the witticisms Ms. Parker is known for.

In the first vignette, a woman weaves her way through a party where she knows no one, and nervously fidgets with her broken garter. She sits and criticizes people, while feeling left out. In the next vignette, a woman waits obsessively by the phone for her suitor to call as promised. She prays and complains to God for the phone to ring, promising to be a better person, but to no avail. She hates herself for being “bitter, querulous and unkind”. At last, she screams to God: “Do you think your hell is worse than mine?”

In another skit, a woman is at a dancehall and reluctantly agrees to waltz with a partner who has two left feet; and in another, sitting at a bar stool with a man named Fred, a woman drowns her sorrows in alcohol. Through her tears, she utters: “I gotta give up using mascara, Fred. Life’s too sad.” The final story goes back to the broken garter, where she continues to fret and hide behind her sadness and loneliness.

As one of the characters quoted - “sorrow is tranquility remembered in emotion”, the basis of all these short stories. It’s not a subject matter that appeals to most, but Ms. Engstrom does an admirable job projecting these characters’ vulnerability and rage.

- Gloria Talamas -

ANTONIO AND SHYLOCK:  MONSTERS

Stage Left Studio
presents

ANTONIO AND SHYLOCK: MONSTERS

Adapted and Directed by DIKRAN TULAINE

Featuring
DIKRAN TULAINE, KC WEAKLEY, LIAM BOBERSKY, TC CORWIN,
CHERYL KING, & ANNETTE GUARASSI

Board Operator: ELLEN ROSENBERG

Stage Left Studio
214 West 30th Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10001
October 19, 22, 23, & 26, 2014
www.stageleftstudio.net

This production is a complete remake of the play of the same name presented by Stage Left earlier this year. It is now performed with great effect in-the-round. And as opposed to the “groundlings” of Shakespeare’s age, this play has “stage-lings”, because the audience is welcome to seats on the stage while the players occupy the center of the usual seating space.

Based on Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”, MONSTERS concentrates on the bigotry of Christian versus Jew and vice-versa. It focuses intensely on the scenes where the bargain for the pound of flesh is made, and the trial scene in which Shylock vehemently demands exactly that as his payment. Examining the complicated relationships of Shylock and Antonio and the times they live in, playwright DIKRAN TULAINE expands on and deepens these characters, their conflicts, and their rationales. All is trimmed to an exploration of hatred and the desire for revenge.

TULAINE also plays Shylock, and he is fabulous. His dark, deep intensity makes him a “monster” that still evokes the sympathy of the audience. His rage has a valid basis. Christians subject his race to verbal, personal, and economic abuse—until they need something from them. Shylock loaned Antonio the money when he needed it. Antonio did not pay it back on time. It is not about money now, it is about invoking the law to permit Shylock’s brutal revenge for every insult, every mockery. A lifetime of anger will be resolved when he carves out that pound of flesh.

The traditional “quality of mercy” speech is made. Shylock couldn’t care less. He wants his pound of flesh and nothing can change his mind. The Venetian judges plead with him to accept a large sum of money instead, or simply abandon his devilish deal. It all has a very modern ending, based on tricky legal wording. Some things never change. Another excellent production from Stage Left.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

POWWOW HIGHWAY

American Indian Arts, Inc. (AMERINDA) presents

POWWOW HIGHWAY

Adapted by William S. Yellow Robe, Jr (Assiniboine)
From the novel by David Seals (Huron)
Directed by MADELINE SAYER (Mohegan)

Starring
WYATT TRUE ASH-MILBY (Navajo), DONNA BROOKS (Sac and Fox), DYLAN CARUSONA (Ojibway/Turtle Clan Oneida), JOE CROSS (Caddo/Potawatomi), BOB JAFFE, TANIS PARENTEAU (Metis/Cree/Sioux), AUTUMN PETERS (Ojibway/Santo Domingo Pueblo), ANNA RAHN, and JOHN SCOTT RICHARDSON (Haliwa-Saponi)

Stage Manager: SAMANTHA DAVIS
Scenic, Puppet & Prop Design: RAPHAEL MISHLER
Costume Design: LUX HAAC
Lighting Design: EVAN ROBY
Sound Design: MARK VAN HARE
Associate Line Producer: BRETT HECKSHER (Cherokee)
Creative Line Producer: AMANDA FELDMAN
AMERINDA Director & Founder: DIANE FRAHER (Osage/Cherokee)

HERE
145 Avenue of Americas at Dominick Street
(212) 352-3101
October 10 -25, 2014; Opening Night – 10/16/14

POWWOW HIGHWAY is the route that Philbert (John Scott Richardson) and Buddy (Dylan Carusona) take from Montana to New Mexico. Inspired by Aunt Harriet (Donna Brooks), their goal is to retrieve Buddy’s sister (Tanis Parenteau) from jail. The trip is fraught with difficulties and tempered with spiritual beings. Heritage and faith are strange traveling partners.

As delightful as it is to see a production where the majority of the cast is Native American Indian, POWWOW HIGHWAY is at times a bit confusing and the storyline is difficult to follow. While the acting provided some insights into Native American heritage and ways, such a rich legacy could easily educate and entertain the audience but for the most part that opportunity was missed.

- Laurie Lawson -

RIDING THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS

Barbara Ligeti & Jeffrey Altshuler
present

RIDING THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS

Written & Performed by BILLY HAYES
Directed by JEFFREY ALTSHULER

Lighting Design: STEPHEN ARNOLD, SARNOLDESIGN
Graphic Design: ALAN BUTTAR, MUSE DESIGN LTD.

Barrow Street Theatre
27 Barrow Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 868-4444 or www.Smarttix.com
October 2 through November 30, 2014

Billy Hayes. A name that sounds like the boy next door. Which he was, until he became a multi-media news headliner in 1970. Something about getting arrested in Istanbul with two kilos of hash taped to his body. The Turkish government doesn’t play around. Life sentence, young man, in a Turkish prison. Not the future mom, dad, or son had envisioned.

His notoriety morphed into fame with the publication of his best-seller, Midnight Express, in 1976. That was followed by the release of the Oscar-winning movie in 1978. Now Hayes has created an electrifying one-man recounting of his youthful stupidity, his existence in prison, and the coup de grace: his hair-raising escape. He reveals aspects of his experiences never before told, elaborates on many instances portrayed in the film, and corrects some plot-lines and scenes that were fictionalized for the movie. Most especially he takes us through the incredible drama surrounding his white-knuckle escape. His is an epic journey of personal growth, fortitude, survival, and spiritual discovery. He definitely learned his lesson.

He had smuggled hash from Istanbul before. He sold it in the U.S. for $5,000 and could live a life of ease on that. Every six months he did it again. Easy money. Then Nixon declared his “war on drugs”. Hayes didn’t do his homework and slipped-up. Next stop, a nasty jail with a hole in the floor for a toilet. He went on to learn Turkish, be transferred from jail to jail, and employ the power of bribing everyone. His parents continued to send him money, standing by him although broken-hearted. Hayes admits this is his biggest regret: he caused so much suffering to his parents.

HAYES has a gift for acting, that’s for sure. You find yourself tensing up and leaning forward as he goes through each step of his terrifying night, rowing through a storm, hoping to reach the right spot on the opposite shore. Bloody and wet, he continued his petrifying trek on land, always looking over his shoulder for fear the Turks would track him. He is absolutely transfixing. It is so real, you are there with him, riding the midnight express.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

ICEBOUND

Metropolitan Playhouse
Presents

ICEBOUND

Written by Owen Davis
Directed by Alex Roe
Set Design: Alex Roe
Lighting Design: Christopher Weston
Costume Design: Sidney Fortner
Stage Manager: Katy Moore

Starring: Victor Barranca, Connor Barth, Anne Bates, Quinlan Corbett, Gregory Dann, Sidney Fortner, Michelle Geisler, Olivia Killingsworth, Kelly King, Maria Silverman, Alyssa Simon, Rob Skolits

Metropolitan Playhouse
Through October 19, 2014
www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/tickets 800.838.3006

Three siblings - ‘the Jordans' as they proudly refer to themselves - from rural Maine, sit in the parlor of their dying mother’s home, anxiously awaiting the doctor’s prognosis. They mask their greed by feigning love for their mother. But their real motives become clear once they discuss their mother’s will; which one of them needs her fortune most and whether it would be divided equally. They are like “carrion crows around a sick cow at pasture”.

Mother Jordan is a cold, unfeeling woman typical of stoic New Englanders. As she breathes her last breath, we learn from the Judge that she willed everything to Jane, their reliable, distant cousin who has been her caregiver for 7 years. She knew her children’s motives and knew they would be irresponsible, says the Judge.

Cousin Jane rules the roost now and keeps a firm hold on the family fortune denying the siblings any advances or loans without conditions. Youngest brother Ben, the outlaw, is coerced by Jane into working the family farm or else go to prison. There are twists and turns in who secretly loves (or lusts) whom and the story takes a dramatic turn when naughty Nettie (granddaughter) and ne’er-do-well Ben begin a flirtatious relationship.

But there is one last promise Mother Jordan asked of Jane which Jane cleverly uses to attempt to extricate herself from the Jordans. But all’s well that ends well and Mother Jordan still gets the last laugh.

ICEBOUND is a dark comedy that shows how cold and conniving people can be, especially in desperate circumstances and a frigid environment - and I don’t mean climate!

Ms. Killingsworth as Jane is convincing as the tough-love caregiver who emerges triumphant.

- Gloria Talamas -

CHINESE COFFEE

On The Wind Productions Presents

CHINESE COFFEE
www.chinesecoffee2014.com

Written by IRA LEWIS
Directed by LOUISE LASSER

Featuring

SEAN WALSH as Harry Levine & AUSTIN PENDLETON as Jake Manheim

Produced by SEAN WALSH
Set Design: ALISON BUATTI
Lighting/Sound Design: JONATHAN COTTLE
Press Representation: SPIN CYCLE/RON LASKO
Production Manager & Technical Director: JONATHAN COTTLE
Art Director: CHRIS CRISCOSTOMO
Additional Production & Promotional Imagery: JOHN LUSTIG
Publicity Photographer: R.J. CAPUTO

Roy Arias Stage II Theater
300 West 43rd Street (@ Eighth Avenue)
https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/937980 or (866) 811-4111
September 24 – October 03, 2014; Opening Night – 10/28/14

Ira Lewis’ CHINESE COFFEE takes place in a small apartment that serves as a seldom-used photography studio in New York City. Kudos to Alison Buatti for a realistic set design. Harry (Sean Walsh) has come to visit his best friend Jake (Austin Pendleton) to demand repayment of a $473 loan. Conversations that begin in the wee hours of a cold winter night rarely turn out well, and this one is no exception. Amidst neuroses and psychoses dripping with sarcasm and enmity (Jake refers to Harry as a “walking disorder factory’), along with much whining and philosophizing, the gentlemen engage in a pissing contest to see who has suffered the most. Their symbiotic relationship allows them to revel in each other’s pain while acknowledging their unique friendship. True motives and underlying insecurities begin to unravel this long-time alliance.

There are not enough superlatives to describe the excellence of acting on the parts of Walsh and Pendleton. It is so natural that you quickly forget you are watching a play. Clever repartee peppered with sophisticated humor and emotional outbursts make this a fascinating encounter. Direction by Louise Lasser is sharp while allowing flexibility for the many talents of the actors. CHINESE COFFEE should be seen just to witness the mastery of theatrical art.

- Laurie Lawson -

THE McGOWAN TRILOGY

the cell
presents

THE McGOWAN TRILOGY
A Serial in Three ActsT


Written by SEAMUS SCANLON
Directed by KIRA SIMRING

DANCING AT LUNACY

Featuring
PAUL NUGENT, MATT GOLDEN, PHILIP CALLEN, & CONOR McINTYRE

THE LONG WET GRASS
Featuring
PAUL NUGENT & ANNA NUGENT

BOYS SWAM BEFORE ME
Featuring
PAUL NUGENT & CINDY BOYLE

Fight Choreography: JED PETERSON
Scenic & Lighting Design: GERTJAN HOUBEN
Costume Design: SIENA ZOE ALLEN
Sound Design: DYLAN FUSILLO

the cell
338 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
www.thecelltheatre.org
September 13 through October 5, 2014

DANCING AT LUNACY

This is a rewrite of SEAMUS SCANLON’s earlier work of the same name. He has massaged the lead character, Victor McGowan, the better to flow into the two new plays that continue the saga of Victor’s life. Its tone has changed more toward the lunacy side of Victor, and expands his behavior and conversations to make him a more complicated character. Although the title may sound comic, this is a dark, violent, and challenging reconstruction of a critical moment in Irish political history. A tour-de-force production, it is set in Ireland in1984, during the era of hunger strikes and IRA bombings. The dialogue is absolutely brilliant and very funny. But some of the laughter is more from uneasiness than the clever wordplay. Victor makes everyone nervous. Very nervous.

In an illegal drinking club, IRA members gather in secret to sort out their issues. These men have a savagery and a wild disregard for what is now termed collateral damage. Enter Victor McGowan, absolutely the biggest arsehole terrorist you would never want to meet. Young and lean, he turns up the radio, dances around like a fool, insults everyone, and has a loaded gun. A weapon which he loves to play with and point at others. This may not end well.

The lad behind the bar is likeable and clueless. While amazed at Victor’s erratic behavior, he’s just the bloke who washes the glasses. It’s the other gent who is in Victor’s crosshairs. As they banter, the words become harsher, sharper. An elder IRA official joins the group. He and Victor hate each other, yet are on the same team. Someone in that little room is suspected of being a traitor. The sentence for that is always death.

PAUL NUGENT, who portrayed Victor in the earlier version, is once again a human whirlwind as the heartless villain. Though humor threads through the play, the black undertone is murderous madness. This is a brilliant snapshot of a grim instance in time, acted to frightening perfection.

THE LONG WET GRASS

Set several months after DANCING AT LUNACY, we meet Victor again, out in the countryside at night, in the long wet grass. Scenes projected on the wall behind him, and the music that plays as the characters enter, create an encircling mood of the Irish night. He is with a female companion his own age. Sadly, she is gagged and has been transported to this spot in the trunk of Victor’s car for the three-hour drive. He removes the gag and she is rather calm, considering her situation. She and Victor are old friends. She even had a crush on him for ages, but he never noticed. That surprises him, catches him off-guard. It puts a little hiccup in his intentions for the evening, possibly a wavering of his stone-cold heart.

She is another “traitor”, and we already know what happens to traitors. She recounts her “offence” in touching way, appealing to Victor because her transgression was so minor and harmless. But this is Victor she’s talking to. That tiny spark of heart we saw vanishes back into the blackness. Her fear is that she will be left in the long wet grass forever. And forever is a long, lonely time. We don’t know if we believe what Victor tells her. His words and actions do have a tinge of mercy. Her life is in his hands.

ANNA NUGENT is quietly but deeply believable in her bittersweet role, suspended between life and death. We have affection for her and wish her well. If only wishes could come true.

BOYS SWAM BEFORE ME

Just days after his walk in the wet grass, Victor pays a visit his mother. She is in a hospital bed and obviously has dementia. Sometimes she knows who he is, sometimes not. She breaks into a screechy song every so often, then babbles on about her past, real and imagined. Once you’ve heard her blather about Victor’s childhood, you begin to understand why he is what he is.

Her confusion doesn’t stop her from being sharp-tongued. He was a bad boy, she says. She thought that inside he was really a girl. She also lets slip a few heartbreaking secrets he was unaware of. He flinches but stays by her bedside. When she is cold, he pulls up her blanket. His face is still the same icy face, though. Would a “mercy killing” be a mercy to her, or to him?

--Karen D’Onofrio--

ROCOCO ROUGE

Company XIV
presents

ROCOCO ROUGE

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: Brett Umlauf, Shelly Watson, Laura Careless, Allison Ulrich, Steven Trumon Gray, Katrina Cunningham, Rob Mastrianni, Courtney Giannone, Davon Rainey, Cailan Orn,

Press Representative: DARR Publicity

Company XIV, Colonnade Row
428 Lafayette Street
Through November 2, 2014
www.companyxiv.com

Entering the bar at Company XIV (now located on Colonnade Row), you are taken back in time to a dark, red velvety, Parisian cabaret club at the turn of the century and greeted by numerous staff, dressed in 17th-century frills, or in New York black.

We were escorted through a closed door to the performance space. While waiting for the show to begin and our drinks to arrive, we were entertained by titillating, scantily clad dancers. The Madame who emceed the show was in opulent outfits and hairpieces. She glided between audience and stage, enchanting us in song. The Company, she proudly says, was named after Louis the IV, the patron saint of sinners.

The bawdy troupe performed a medley of musical pieces in a broad variety of styles, including RAP, operatic (e.g., Carmen), Piaf’s Padum, and an Adele clone. The music and circus acrobatics are the highlights of the show. The performers have wide ranging talents and are well put together in their skimpy outfits, with red feathers, high heels, thongs and nipple covers.
One audience member lamented that she was leaving town, but would love to return to see this show again. It’s a unique New York event.

- Gloria Talamas -

MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL

AnthonyKen, LLC
Sheryl Lee Ralph & the D.I.V.A. Foundation Present

MIGHTY REAL
A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL

Starring ANTHONY WAYNE

Featuring
ANASTACIA McCLESKEY & JACQUELINE B. ARNOLD
With
DEANNE STEWART & RAHMEL McDADE

Director: ANTHONY WAYNE & KENDRELL BOWMAN
Choreographer: ANASTACIA McCLESKEY
General Manager: EDMUND GAYNEES
Musical Director: ALONZO HARRIS
Lighting & Scenic Design: DAVID LANDER
Sound Design: J. RAFAEL CARLOTTO
Costume Design: KENDRELL BOWMAN
Casting: ANTHONYKEN LLC
Associate Casting: PATRICE COVINGTON
Production Stage Manager: KATRINA OLSON
Press Rep: GLENNA FREEDMAN PR/COYLE ENTERTAINMENT/ MEDIA HUNTER PR

Theatre at St. Clement’s
423 West 46th Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(866) 811-4111 or https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/34406
September 5 - October 5; Opening Night – 09/14/14

I walked into the Theatre at St. Clement’s not really sure who Sylvester was and I walked out a life-long fan. I might have been singing Mighty Real too. MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL chronicles the short but impactful life of Sylvester, the “Queen of Disco,” a talented and courageous singer/songwriter who lived life on his own terms. This musical tells the story hopefully in a way he would applaud.

Amidst disco balls and sequins, the stage explodes with talent. From the band to the backup singers (Deanne Stewart & Rahmel McDade) to the amazing Anthony Wayne (Sylvester) and his wonderful Weather Girls (Anastacia McCleskey & Jacqueline B. Arnold), the energy is non-stop and the music is oh-so-fine. Not only do you get to hear some of your favorite songs – “Do You Wanna Funk,” “Can’t Stop Dancing,” “You Are My Friend,” “Dance,” the title song and many more – but you also witness the glitz and glamour that was the trademark of Sylvester.

Go see MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL. You’ll be stomping your feet, dancing in your seat, clapping your hands, and singing along. If you weren’t there during the disco era, now is your chance. If you were fortunate enough to experience it all, come on back for a fabulous dance down Memory Lane.

- Laurie Lawson -

THE CLUB

Australian Made Entertainment Presents

DAVID WILLIAMSON’S
THE CLUB

Directed by ANDREW H. LYONS
Produced by KATHLEEN FOSTER & MATTHEW FOSTER

Featuring

SAMUEL DOUGLAS CLARK, MATTHEW FOSTER, MARC LeVASSEUR
PETER REZINKOFF, DAVID SEDGWICK, ANDREW JUSTIN SMITH

Scenic Design: TRAVIS BELL
Costume Design: EMILY ROSE PARMAN
Lighting Design: ANTHONY FREITAS
Sound Design: DAVID GREEN
Stage Manager: MARC EARDLEY
Assistant Stage Manager: ERICA PALMER

Urban Stages
259 West 30th Street (between Seventh & Eighth Avenues)
(800) 838-3006 or www.TheClub.BrownPaperTickets.com
September 12 -27, 2014

The game is on! Although set in 1977 Melbourne, David Williamson’s THE CLUB is a timely satire about corporate greed and corruption. In a boardroom where decisions are made about an Australian Rules football team that have very little to do with sports, a coach (David Sedgwick) fights for his job even though he has publicly announced his resignation. Gerry (Marc LeVasseur) is mediating (or manipulating?) between the coach, the president (Matthew Foster) and a former football star who now serves on the Board (Peter Renikoff). Samuel Douglas Clark and Andrew Justin Smith round out this fine cast as two players caught in the middle or perhaps playing their own game.

Clever writing and excellent execution make this an interesting observation of human nature and corporate shenanigans. Amidst back-stabbing, snide gossiping, ego flaunting, breast-beating, and spin controlling, a plot unfolds that reveals nothing is as it seems. Unraveling the scheme is part of the fun. In light of today’s sports scandals and resultant cover ups, you can’t help but wonder just how far we are willing to go in the name of the game. And as you realize that big bucks constantly lure us to cross the line, THE CLUB exposes that the majority of the games are never played on the field.

- Laurie Lawson -

FAULT LINES

Knife Edge Productions
presents

FAULT LINES

Written by STEPHEN BELBER
Directed by SHIRA-LEE SHALIT

Featuring
MICHAEL PUZZO, NEIL HOLLAND, CHAZ REUBEN, & DANELLE ELIAV

Set & Lighting: NICK FRANCONE
Costumes: NANCY LEARY
Sound Design: DANIEL SPITALIERE
Technical Director: CHIMMY ANNE GUNN

TBG Theatre
312 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 352-3101 or www.knifeedgeproductions.com
September 4 through September 20, 2014

Two longtime pals meet up in the empty back room of a neighborhood bar. Armed with beers & tequila shots, Jim starts giving Bill a hard time, calling him “old”. (He’s 39.) Jim is still “young”, 38, and digs at Bill both because he’s “old” and married. Jim lays it on thick that he is single, living the life, hitting on the babes, but Bill has to be home for dinner and go to bed early. This ribbing is not so good-natured. Rather harsh, actually. And more than a little obnoxious, even with tequila.

Bill is the serious type. He shares that he would like to be a father, but his wife wants to wait a while. This is obviously a touchy area for Bill, so Jim lays on even more abuse, thinly disguised as joking around. Bill isn’t laughing. Jim finally starts getting to the heart of his agenda. He has phoned Bill several times lately, and Bill hasn’t returned his calls. He wants to know why. It appears Jim has never heard of “drifting apart”, as friends often do with the passage of time.

The already uncomfortable evening is suddenly made worse by the entrance of an incredibly large, annoying, insulting older man, a stranger to them both. The fool crashes into their discussion, pulls up a seat at their table, orders more tequila, and never stops asking loud-mouthed personal questions. Very intimate questions. This is where the “willing suspension of disbelief” comes in. In the real world, Bill and Jim would have picked up their drinks and left the room. Or punched him out. But this being a play, they stick around to be harassed and disgusted by this overbearing moron.

Just when they’ve finally had enough, the stranger announces his “real identity”, then hassles them even more. Plot twists and turns follow, parts of which have more holes than Swiss cheese, but hey, it’s a play. If there’s a moral, it’s this: when a 19-year friendship fades away, just accept that. Don’t make it ugly, too.

The actors are excellently intense. The plot twists at the end are creative. MICHAEL PUZZO as Joe, the stranger, is so repugnant that I personally wanted to strangle him. His roaring questions make the play somewhat monotonous during this segment. The whole while you must ask yourself, why would these two men put up with Joe, much less answer his questions? Playwright’s choice is the only answer.

In the end this is a play about treachery, male unbonding, and pushing the boundaries of intrusion into the private lives of others. Even “friends” can hatch evil plots. And ruin lives.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

BASTARDS OF STRINDBERG

SATC Scandinavian American Theater Company Presents

BASTARDS OF STRINDBERG

By DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU, DAVID BAR KATZ, ANDREAS BOONSTRA, LINA EKDAHL
Directed by HENING HEGLAND and ALICIAN DHYANA HOUSE

Featuring

INGRID KULLBERG-BENDZ, VANESSA JOHANSSON, DEVIN B. TILLMAN, ALBERT BENDIX
RIKKE LYLLOFF, ZENZELE COOPER, KWASI OSEI, DREW O’KANE

Composer & Vocalist: ANETTE NORGAARD & ELYSSA SAMSEL
Choreographer: LAUREN CAMP
Set Design: STARLET JACOBS
Costume Design: NICOLE WEE
Sound Design & Composer: AMY ALTADONNA
Lighting Designer: YUKI NAKASE
Assistant Sound Designer: PAMELA McCADDIN
Violinist: ELYSSA SAMSEL
Fight Choreographer: JEFFERSON REARDON
Stage Manager: LAUREL DETKIN
Assistant Production Manager: MALIN BERGGREN LUNDELL

Lion Theatre at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
September 2 – 21, 2014; Opening Night: 09/05/14

The Scandinavian American Theater Company commissioned four playwrights to produce short pieces in response to August Strindberg’s Miss Julie which he wrote in 1888. Originally a ground-breaking play that introduced a new theater of realism, Miss Julie is considered a classic masterpiece that dealt with social and economic inequalities and injustices. The new pieces, amidst haunting music and innovative choreography, all take place on Midsummer’s Eve where one night can change the direction of a life.

Chanting Hymns To Fruitless Moons by David Bar Katz warns of the ramifications of erotic arousal, ancient rituals, and forbidden acts. Lina Ekdahl’s Midsummer at Tyrolen unfolds an unlikely business plan tainted with escape. Truth About Froken Julie by Andreas Boonstra allows the characters to deconstruct their play and thereby create their own destiny. But by far the shining star of this quartet is Dominque Morrisseau’s High Powered. Two black servants define ambition and debate whether the cost is worth the effort and benefit. Poignant soliloquies beautifully performed by Zenzele Cooper and Kwasi Osei powerfully speak for any oppressed group or class of people.

Remaining somewhat true to Strindberg’s Miss Julie, two playwrights from Sweden and two playwrights from America update the version with underlying themes of disparities and discrimination in current time. But not to despair, the unifying refrain in each individual piece of BASTARDS OF STRINDBERG is hope and the desire to overcome. Ah, the human spirit!

- Laurie Lawson -

IN THE RING

Theatre for the New City, Crystal Field and
Dream Up Festival
present

IN THE RING

By Leonore Confino

Directed by Alexandre Oppecini
Translator: Perine Morran
Scenic Design: Lytza and Mark
Costume Designer: Sarah Thea
Lighting Designer: Kryssy Wright
Sound and Music Design: Ann Warren, Remi Oppecini
Stage Manager: Johanne Swhartzberg


Featuring: Nathalie Bryant and Kyle Tuck


Theatre for the New City
DifFRactions Theatre
155 First Avenue@10th Street

IN THE RING is set in a “boxing ring” where two actors set up shop to act out relationships between men and women - whether just friends, strangers, lovers, spouses or divorcees.
Each relationship brings out the best and worst when a man and woman fight for their own ground, and try to coexist … or not. Much is lost in translation as they try to understand one another.

The first relationship is between Adam and Eve. Eve decides there is no point in procreating since their children would incestuously create a degenerate society. The many scenarios that follow, marked by several changes of clothing, show the degenerate nature of modern relationships between men and women.

- Gloria Talamas -

SIMPLE AS LIFE AND DEATH

The Dream Up Festival at Theater for the New City
presents
Throes Theater's

SIMPLE AS LIFE AND DEATH

Written & Performed by MEIRAV KUPPERBERG & ALEXANDRA ZELMAN-DORING
Directed by KEREN TZUR

Set Design: KEREN TZUR
Dramaturge: ERAN SHADAR
Lighting Design: ALEJANDRO FAJARDO ARBALAEZ
Video: ROAN BIBBY
Production Manager: ALEXANDRA ZAJACZKOWSKI

Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com
August 17 through August 24, 2014

In SIMPLE AS LIFE AND DEATH we eavesdrop on two female friends in New York City: Efrat, visiting from Israel with an open-ended return ticket, and Anne, who’s not sure she likes that “open-ended” thing. They are catching up on each-other’s news, yet each seems to be holding something back.

It is serio-comic, with an overall melancholy tone. We do learn the Hebrew word for “nipple.” Efrat has food issues, Anne has a cat allergy. Yes, you’re way ahead of me. Efrat has a cat. Not with her, but cat dander seems to be emanating from her every possession. Anne sneezes, Efrat starves. But their friendship continues as the personal secrets start to come out. Appropriately, in a play about two Jewish women, mama drops by for a quick visit (translation: to pry). This would be appropriate for all ethnic groups, actually. Mama’s visit can always be a mixed blessing. Especially when she drops in unexpectedly.

Anne has a very difficult personal decision to make. Neither Efrat nor mama are any help. It’s obvious that Anne is a strong, independent woman, and will make her own choice regardless of what others think.

Animal lovers should close their eyes and cover their ears during the wildlife video shown on the big screen at the rear of the stage. It inspires the women to create their own short video, “National Geographic: Humans”.

Half the fun of this play is the never-ending reconstruction (literally) of the set. Beds, tables, couches, stools, and kitchen appliances all come and go and come again. Everything is made entirely of jumbo Legos. The characters stack and unstack and reassemble these on a non-stop basis as they talk about past, present, and future. If only they could reassemble their lives as easily.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

2014 - WHEN WE WERE IDIOTS

2014-WHEN WE WERE IDIOTS

Created & Performed by XAVIER TOBY

Fringe CENTRAL at the Clemente
114 Norfolk Street
New York, NY 10002
www.fringenyc.org
August 8 through August 23, 2014

This is a comedy walking tour of the lower east side, hosted by your own personal penguin from the future, Xavier Toby. Put on your bright green traffic safety vest and follow the tall critter with the megaphone as passersby stare at you. A mix of historical trivia, humorous comments on our way of life, random talking to strangers, and applauding diners in local eateries, this is pure fun.

Tour participants are in the year 2114 and your guide explains the excavated ruins of 2014 New York City, recently excavated from a mountain of coffee cups, stale cupcakes, discarded subway tickets, cigarette butts, and coffee grounds. The penguin explains that all the buildings and vehicles we see are recreations of items used in 2014. All the people we will see are actors, playing their parts as characters from 2014.

Xavier does point out actual places and things of historical interest hidden in plain sight. These highlight fascinating trivia and obscure details of the area, including a certain large clock, a statue, and the story of Mr. Delancey of Delancey Street. We discover the real reason why the Dutch decided this was a great place to settle.

Because we are touring from the future, he must explain the concepts of “money”, “traffic”, and “garbage”, as these don’t exist in 2114. His narratives are hysterically clever. He is also an agitator, encouraging his followers to stand in front of restaurant windows and applaud the diners for their “good acting”, for example. The loveable penguin has a come-back for every question and remark. This tour is a wonderful treat on so many levels. It is true fun, letting you be a silly kid again while getting some exercise and learning some history. Xavier is charming and the “actors” we encounter are good-natured about our applause, if a bit confused. Totally different, utterly enjoyable, and peppered with surprises, this tour is not to be missed.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

MY STUBBORN TONGUE

MY STUBBORN TONGUE

By Anna Fishbeyn

Directed by Scott Klavan
Scenic and Lighting Design: Adrian Roman
Production Assistant and Social Media: Laurie Beckoff

Featuring: Anna Fishbeyn

New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street
August 6- 24, 2014, Opening Friday, August 8 at 8pm
http://newohiotheatre.org/ourcurrentseason.htm

Many immigrant stories are full of intrigue, adventure, sadness and determination. Anna’s story is no exception. She immigrated to the States with her family when she was nine years old, as one of the “grain Jews” – Soviet citizens who were traded for wheat. This was during the Reagan era, when Russia was referred to as the evil empire. The play begins at the end, with her graduation from Columbia, and travels forward as she recounts the obstacles and the loneliness in her new home and dealing with the stigma of immigrant life.

Her desire to fit in, get along and belong, propels her to excel in the tongue of her newly adopted country. Despite her efforts, she continuously gets tripped up with what it means to be “American”: from dressing right, suffering through relationships, and even using an alias. Anna undergoes six changes of clothing during the performance. A language and culture counselor mentors her over a loud speaker. She repeats: “I focus, I shift, I imitate. Assimilation is survival.”

Anna comes full circle, determined to be American, while she holds onto her Russian roots without pretension. She stands out with her superior intellect…. and succeeds. The show could benefit from a bit more editing, but in this one-woman show, Anna playfully acts out her adventures, and portrays various characters she encounters along the way, including various family members.

- Gloria Talamas -

THE LAW OF RETURN

THE LAW OF RETURN

Written by MARTIN BLANK
Directed by ELISE THORON

Featuring
JOEL ROOKS, BEN MEHL, & ANDRÉ WARE

Scenic Design: ALEXIS DISTLER
Lighting Design: NICOLE PEARCE
Sound Design: JEREMY J. LEE
Costume Design: DEBRA BERGSMA OTTE
Casting Director: STEPHANIE KLAPPER
Technical Director: MATT VIEIRA
Assistant Director: BECKY ABRAMOWITZ
Assistant Lighting Design: ALLING LANGIN
Stage Manager: CASKEY HUNSADER
Graphic Design: THERESA EVANGELISTA
Publicity: DALE HELLER

4th Street Theatre
83 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
(800) 838-3006
August 7 through August 24, 2014

THE LAW OF RETURN was inspired by events surrounding the notorious 1987 Jonathan Pollard espionage case. Pollard, a American Jewish civilian analyst employed by U.S. Naval Intelligence, took it upon himself to make off with thousands of ultra-secret documents and pass them to Israeli operatives. He was caught, convicted, and sentenced to life. He is the only person in U.S. history ever to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally.

He and his supporters insisted he did it for ideological reasons. Israel needed to know literally everything that U.S. intelligence knew, involving all countries, positions of ships and airplanes, plus details of satellites. He felt he was above and beyond the rules and laws, doing the “right thing”. Others held that he did it purely for personal gain, as intelligence agencies alleged he had also dealt with the governments of South Africa, Argentina, Taiwan, and attempted to pass information to Pakistan. Once discovered, Pollard raced to the Israeli embassy for asylum. That’s the Law of Return. Once on Israeli soil, he is out of U.S. control and on his native soil, as a Jew.

In this play he is portrayed as a brilliant but distracted professional. Bantering humorously with his boss, playing practical jokes, talking a bit too fast, bouncing around a bit too energetically. Idealistic, enthusiastic, and immature. But due to his superior skills, he is able to work in the most top-secret area. Soon he meets with his elderly Israeli contact, revealing that U.S. security is lax, that he feels Israel is in grave danger, and that the U.S. is withholding vital information just to keep Israel “squirming” and afraid. He wants to be the hero, although he has no stomach for battle. He doesn’t realize that he is playing way out of his league, and that treachery is a two-way street. Betrayal is a slippery path, no matter what the reason or what the result. If there is no honor among thieves, there is certainly no honor among spies.

Ben Mehl is outstanding as the conflicted but determined Pollard. Joel Rooks is perfect as the Israeli contact, offering matzos in times of stress. Andre` Ware is Naval authority personified, whether in jovial or official mode. The play has plenty of humor, clever wordplay, and light moments. It also has warm moments between the characters when faith fails or courage lags. Yet the serious undertones of Pollard’s betrayal are not underplayed. The story is told so that its intricacies are clearly understood. The ending is stunning, even more so because it truly happened.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

PUPPET TITUS ANDRONICUS

The Puppet Shakespeare Players present
www.puppetshakespeare.org

PUPPET TITUS ANDRONICUS

Featuring
ADAM WEPPLER, SARAH VILLEGAS, CHRSTOPHER GEBAUER, ALEX OFFENKRANTZ
TOM FORAN, DREW TURKELSON, MINDY LEANSE, ROSS HAMMAN
ABBY JUDD, A.J. COTE, SHANE SNIDER, RYAN RINKEL

Directed by RYAN RINKEL
Producers: RYAN RINKEL, A.J.COTE, SHANE SNIDER
Produced by S.T.T. PRODUCTIONS
Stage Manager: LAUREL DETKIN
Assistant Stage Manager: ABBY JUDD
Lighting Design: LESLIE SMITH
Sound Design: JOHN HULL
Assistant Sound Designer: RYAN FADDEN
Set Design: HOLLY TROTTA & KEVIN O’CALLAGHAN
Costume Design: SUZETTE SNIDER
Assistant Costumer: SARAH VILLEGAS
Puppet Design: A.J. COTE
Puppet Fabrications: MINDY LEANSE & SARAH VILLEGAS
Puppet Shakespeare Singers: A.J. COTE, CHRIS CEBEAUER & SARAH VILLEGAS

The Beckett Theatre @ Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 239-6200 or www.telecharge.com
July 24 – August 17; Opening Night – 07/30/14

Ah, what to do with one of Shakespeare’s “worse” plays that must have some redeeming qualities since it’s still hanging around? Give it to a bunch of hairy puppets, throw in a few cans of Silly String, add a pop music background, and sit back for the time of your life. PUPPET TITUS ANDRONICUS, in the capable and irreverent hands of the Puppet Shakespeare Players, becomes a hilarious offering of plots and poetry, blood and betrayal, dismemberment and death, and colorful charming puppets. Asides and improvisation enhance the wacky wildness and involve the audience – these folks are very talented.

There’s an occasional nod to The Bard with a few of his lines delivered intact, but for the most part, PUPPET TITUS ANDRONICUS is a free-for-all rendition that sweeps you along in its raucous merriment and tragic events. Shakespeare has never been such fun!

- Laurie Lawson -

SNOW WHITE & THE BEAST

The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute
presents

SNOW WHITE & THE BEAST

Written & Produced by MATHILDE DEHAYE
Directed by RENOLY SANTIAGO

July 23 - 25, 2014

The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute
115 E. 15th Street, NYC

Set Designer LILIANA INES BARRERA
Costume Designer URSULA GARCIA TINOCO
Sound/Lighting Designer NICHOLAS THOMAS
Press Representative SCOTTI RHODES PUBLICITY

Cast

Lili - Mathilde Dehave
Vincent - Malik Ali
Harold - David Woodrow
Gregory - Andre Torquato
Jerry - Brad Bolle
George - Gary Tavitian
The Man - Mauricio Bustamante
Keira - Christine Paterno


SNOW WHITE & THE BEAST is a cautionary tale of life choices, love, abuse and addiction told through the stories of painter Lili and poet Vincent. After meeting in a bar in New York City, the two become virtually inseparable, slipping deep into drug addiction and the deception that comes with it.

The play introduces a lot of material, mainly told in flashback by bar owner, Harold, including Lili's abusive father and Vincent's second life in London, to act as biography to explain the characters as they have become, but almost every scene inevitably runs too long, and some do little to add to the impact of the play. Many of the scenes between Lili and Vincent feature the effects of their drug use, and while interesting exercises in character studies, repetitive glimpses of them in these altered states undermined the script. Shorter hints of their various faces - Vincent's undercurrent of rage turned to actual violence; Lili's defiance and determination in the face of abuse; their moments of infatuation and lust posing as love and romance - would have made the piece stronger.

The set design made good use of the stage, although some of the scene changes themselves were not as smooth as they could be. Props and costumes were on point too, allowing the art created by Lili and Vincent's poems to act almost as additional characters in the play with physical presence on the stage.

Mathilde Dehaye's SNOW WHITE & THE BEAST is the winner of the 2014 StrasbergWorks competition. It is a flawed work, but also one that shows the promise of better things to come from playwright/performer/producer Dehaye.

- Kessa De Santis -

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

Written by MANUEL IGREJAS
Directed by ROBERT TEAGUE

Featuring
CASEY BURDEN, AFRIM GJONBALAJ, & KEVIN PEREZ

Lighting & Sound: ELLEN ROSENBERG
Publicity: PROPAGANDA PR

Stage Left Studio
214 West 30th Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10011
www.StageLeftStudio.net
July 24 through August 16, 2014

NO STRINGS ATTACHED is a phrase that’s easy to say but hard to endure when it comes to love. Just ask Monty, a sweetheart of a guy who’s been in a romantic partnership with Luis for ten happy years. Monty is the sentimental one, wanting to get married on the beach, wearing a Vera Wang pantsuit. He works in publicity for a Styrofoam company, but dreams of writing a best-seller one day.

Luis is not sentimental. Nor is he employed. He decides to become a stand-up comic. Eye-roll from Monty. But he will be supportive of this goal, not matter how impractical and unachievable he considers it. That’s the power of love.

One evening they attend an art opening in Chelsea and are served drinks by the handsome Stefan. Electricity fills the air. Something about Stefan excites and delights Monty. He feels he knows Stefan from somewhere. Ah, yes. Porn films. Next Stefan encounters Luis, who exhibits the same symptoms as Monty, but for a very different and more destructive reason. Let the bad times roll.

This is a triangle, but hardly romantic in any positive sense. More a sexual triangle, strangely askew in its proportions. Luis dominates Stefan, Stefan dominates Monty, and Monty just tries to cope with his breaking heart. Three men, three different priorities: love, lust, and money. Perhaps another old saying will turn out to be true. Love conquers all?

-Karen D’Onofrio-

CLINTON

The New York Musical Theatre festival and Paul Hodge present

CLINTON
www.ClintonTheMusical.com

Book by PAUL HODGE & MICHAEL HODGE
Music & Lyrics by PAUL HODGE

Featuring
KARL KENZLER, DUKE LaFOON, ALET TAYLOR, TOM SOUHRADA, KEVEN ZAK
NATALIE GALLO, KARA GUY, and JOHN GREGORIO

Directed by ADAM ARIAN
Musical Direction by JAMES DOBINSON
Choreography by EMILY McNAMARA
Scenic Design: DAVID GALLO
Lighting Design: GREG MITCHELL
Costume Design: DAVID WOODARD
Sound Design: SHANNON SLATON

Orchestra
Musical Director/Keys 1: JAMES DOBINSON
Assistant Musical Director/Keys 2: ARI ROSSEN
Drums: YUICHI MIRAKAWA
Reeds: JASON CURRY

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 352-3101 or www.nymf.org
7/18 @ 8 PM; 7/19 @ 9 PM; 7/20 @ 4 PM; 7/22 @ 9 PM; 7/25 @ 1 PM; 7/26 @ 5 PM

Michael and Paul Hodge’s CLINTON is a raucous, racy, and rollicking musical inhabited by some of the most unforgettable and unconventional characters ever to grace the American political stage. As if one wasn’t enough, there are two Clintons – serious statesman WJ (Karl Kenzler) and mischievous Billy C (Duke LaFoon) – and together they manage to stir up a great deal of trouble and fun. Alet Taylor is marvelous as Hillary. And they are joined by nemesis Newt Gingrich (Tom Souhrada), tenacious Kenneth Starr (the hilarious Kevin Zak), advisor Dick Morris (John Gregorio), Monica Lewinsky (Natalie Gallo) and of course Eleanor Roosevelt (Kara Guy). Together these folks resurrect fond memories – Newt’s Contract with America, Starr’s White Water/Monica Lewinsky investigations, and the shutdown of the government to name a few. Interweave these with a strip tease, a boxing match, the Macarena, and high-energy singing and dancing, and you can’t help but have a good ole time.

What’s truly entertaining is to reminisce of this momentous time in light of current-day events. Double entendres become triple entendres as the past and the present collide in hilarious fashion. What’s old is new again, and how fortunate are we that we not only got to live through the events but also experience it again through a delightful musical. CLINTON – may the name ring on into our future!

- Laurie Lawson -

FABLE

The New York Musical Theatre Festival
Christopher Mirto & Reed Ridgley present

FABLE

Book by H.S. KAUFMAN
Music & Lyrics by CHRISTOPHER ANSELMO

Featuring
JEFF BARONE, EDWARD WELLINGTON HARDY, DON LIEBER, MICHAEL LUWOYE, MADISON MICUCCI MARISSA O’DONNELL, GERIANNE PEREZ, RJ RAYBIN, DANROSALES, ALEX WALTON

Directed and Choreography by JEN WINEMAN
Musical Direction by KAREN DRYER
Orchestrations: ASHER DENBURG
Production Manager: SCOTT DELACRUZ
Associate Producer: JUSTIN PETERSON
Scenic Design: DEB O
Costume Design: ELIZABETH BARRETT GROTH
Lighting Design: ALAN C. EDWARDS
Sound Design: JESSICA PAZ
Casting: MICHAEL CASSARA, CSA
General Manager: REED RIDGLEY
Publicist: JUDY JACKSINA COMPANY
Stage Manager: KATY SWANN

Ford Foundation Studio Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 352-3101 or www.nymf.org
7/22 @ 8 PM; 7/24 @ 1 PM; 7/24 @ 5 PM; 7/25 @ 1 PM; 7/26 @ 9 PM, 7/27 @ 1 PM; 7/27 @ 5 PM

Ah, youth. It’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. In H.S. Kaufman’s FABLE (music & lyrics by Christopher Anselmo), six friends get together on the eve of high school graduation to celebrate their last days of non-adulthood. Although there’s a party going on in the background, a tug of war between the angst of reality and the final grasp of fun is taking place in the foreground. As the friends grapple with first love, the quest for sex, getting into college, leaving home, starting a new life, saying goodbye, and relationships of all kinds, they realize that it is time to stop believing in fairytales and fables. This reality stuff is rough and trying to fit the mold can be difficult. But a funny thing happened on the way to growing up – they start to realize that it may be time to write their own fables.

Kaufman and Anselmo are the youngest artists ever to be invited to the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and it shows in the content of FABLE – the issues addressed are all “young.” Where youth takes a back seat is in the amazing talent that it took to put this musical together. Innovative songs, snappy music, compelling characters, and a rollicking story make you excited to see what they will come up with next. The talented cast breathe life into this ode to friendship, growing up, and forging your way. The result is an enjoyable theatrical presentation

- Laurie Lawson -

OPRAHFICATION

The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Adam Lowe Theatrical Present

OPRAHFICATION

Book and Lyrics by RACHEL DUNHAM
Music by SHANON D. WHITELOCK
Featuring RACHEL DUNHAM as Oprah
Directed by DIRK HOULT
Production Stage Manager: KELLY CAITLIN SULLIVAN
Musical Director: SHANON D. WHITELOCK
Lighting Design: ALEX BERLAGE, ROSS GRAHAM
Sound Design: SARAH J. TREVORROW
General manager: SHARON FALLON PRODUCTIONS, Sharon Fallon
Press Representative: JT-PR, Joe Trentacosta

Band Members
Keyboard 1 – SHANON D. WHITELOCK
Keyboard 2 – YUVAL SEMO
Lead Guitar – STEVE DAWSON
Bass Guitar – DANIEL ASHER
Drums – KEITH ABRAMS

Ford Foundation Studio Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
(212) 352-3101 or www.nymf.org
07/17 @ 8 PM; 07/18 @5 PM; 07/19 @ 9 PM; 07/21 @ 5:30 PM; 07/24 @ 9 PM

It’s a Landmark Day – Oprah has returned to television to conduct The Ultimate Interview! This delightful musical was written and is performed by Rachel Dunham. The original score was written by Shanon D. Whitelock, and Dirk Hoult does the directing.
Dunham has the OPRAHFICATION down perfectly – the over-exuberant, sometimes obnoxious enthusiasm; the attempt at modesty that often falls short in light of the many accomplishments; the celebrity/diva status; and the down-hominess that makes us all love the richest woman in the world.

And the lady knows how to work a room. Holding center stage, she reminisces about her 25-year domination of day-time television, shares insights about some of her A-list guests, addresses personal aspects of her life, and sings and dances her talented heart out all the while. The songs range from saucy (“Who Do You Think You Are?”) and sassy (“Fat, Black & Woman”) to downright poignant and touching (“Dreams Do Come True,” “Then Came A Miracle”), and Dunham uses her powerful voice and personality to sell them all.

If you ever wondered what it was like to be in the audience of an Oprah show taping, it’s not too late. Catch OPRAHFICATION – it’s probably even more fun that the real thing. Dunham is stunning!

-Laurie Lawson -

THE BAUER SISTERS

The Producing Club
in association with
The 2014 Midtown International Theater Festival
presents

THE BAUER SISTERS

Written by JOHN DIRRIGL
Directed by TROY DIANA

Featuring
DEBORAH UNGER, JACQUELINE KROSCHELL, COLLEEN SMITH WALLNAU,
SUZANNE H. SMART, CATHERINE COBB RYAN, & MICHAEL GNAT

Assistant Director: INGA MOREN
Set Designer & Prop Master: NATALIE PECORA
Costume Design: KAREN EILBACHER
Lighting Design: SEAN BEACH
Sound Design: JASON DIANA
Dialect Coach: JULIE FOH

Dorothy Strelsin Theatre
At the Abingdon Theater Company
312 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
(866) 811-4111 or www.midtownfestival.org
July 14 through August 3, 2014

It’s war! “Florida is for old people” versus “the family homestead”. The Bauer sisters, Ingie and Rosie, energetically argue this issue while preparing for their ladies’ book club. Actually, Rosie is preparing. Ingie is out in space, dreaming of Florida while sitting in the backyard of their Connecticut farm. They are older women, widowed, German-born and proud of it. Ingie stays afloat on her cloud of dreams, as Rosie slices and dices vegetables while simultaneously trying to drag her sister back to planet earth. The farm is good enough for Rosie. It holds a lifetime of memories and keeps her happily busy. But Ingie has dreams, dahling. And they do not include digging in the dirt. Sand, maybe, but not dirt.

The rest of the girls arrive for the luncheon, but somehow the book is never discussed. They carry on about marriage, love, cooking, all the unsuitable old men in the neighborhood, gossip, and other vital concerns of elderly small-town ladies. The conversation never lags, and everyone offers everyone else unsolicited advice on every topic. One can’t find a first husband. The others don’t want a second husband. They all had married the man they loved, but who loved someone else. Such a mess.

Speaking of old men, here comes Louie. He forgot what day it is and dropped by for a beer. He’s sweet on Rosie. Rosie says have one beer, then leave. She is not pleased. She is one of those down-to-earth realists and cannot be sweet-talked. Yet Louie ends up with a second beer. Hmmm.
These ladies are so realistic, so funny, so lovable, it is beyond belief. No scenery-chewing, no over-the-top carrying on. The laughs, the sorrow, the emotion come from inside these actors and they are wonderful. Arguments turn to laughs back to arguments in a flawless stream. Every facial expression is to die for. Only Ingie gets to play it up a bit, since she’s a space-case. They portray with total authenticity the interplay of women who have known each other all their lives and seen each other through joy and sorrow.

While the play is generally upbeat and warmly funny, things get darkly serious toward the end. Sometimes when people talk, they say too much. Surprising, hurtful things. This is the moment when the truth shall set one of the ladies free to live a new life, free of guilt and regret and a sense of obligation. We want to shout “hurray”!

-Karen D’Onofrio-

PENTECOST

Potomac Theatre Project (PTP/NYC)
in association with Middlebury College
presents

PENTECOST

Written by DAVID EDGAR
Directed by CHERYL FARAONE

Featuring
ALEX DRAPER, JAKE SCHWARTZWALD, TOSCA GIUSTINI, JONATHAN TINDLE,
CHELSEA MALONE, LAWRENCE NATHANSON, CHRISTO GRABOWSKI,
NICHOLAS HEMERLING, MARTINA BONOLIS, MATT BALL, CAITLIN ROSE DUFFY, RISHABH KASHYAP, ERICA FURGIUELE, NINA SILVER, AUBREY DUBE, TOM BEYER, JOSEPH VARCA, MARI VIAL-GOLDEN, LILLI STEIN, & LILY BALSEN

Scenic Design: MARK EVANCHO
Lighting Design: HALLIE ZIESELMAN
Original Costume Design: JULE EMERSON
Co-Costume Design: ADRIENNE CARLILE
Sound Design: AUBREY DUBE
Press Representative: DAVID GIBBS/DARR Publicity

Atlantic Stage
330 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
(866) 811-4111 or www.PTPNYC.org
July 16 through August 10, 2014

David Edgar’s PENTECOST takes on Communism and Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. A 13th century fresco has been rediscovered, bricked-over and forgotten in an abandoned church in an Eastern Bloc country. If it predates the frescoes of the Italian artist Giotto, it could rock the art world’s accepted notions about European art. An American art expert, an Italian art expert, and the local government are at odds over what to do with this find. They all are on alert for each others’ secret agendas and sneaky tricks.

The second half of the play becomes a sort of second play. A group of heavily armed refugees storm the church and barricade themselves inside with the art historians. The invaders’ focus is on poverty, displacement, homelessness, loss, resentment, and violence. They care nothing for “art”. They are seeking freedom and will fight to the death for it. The church is now their fortress. Fragile post-Gothic art and bombs do not mix well. The desperate, angry refugees don’t want an art history lesson. Until they realize they can use this painting as a bargaining chip. Neither side will relent. A violent conclusion is inevitable, the details of which cannot be foretold. The end will come when it comes, as it comes.

PTP/NYC’s mandate is to present thought-provoking work of contemporary and social relevance. This play was first presented in 1994, and reflects the issues of that time, including the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Sadly, today has the same issues, the same refugees, the same violence. The countries’ names may have changed, political parties have shifted, but it’s all about ancient grudges and an inhuman lust for revenge. The play is perhaps overly long and detailed both in the first and second halves. TMI, as they say. The bounty of historical data begins to overwhelm as the play goes on. But it is quality writing and quality acting that keeps the audience engaged until the final destructive moment.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

WORLD OF SINATRAS & EXQUISITE POTENTIAL

Project Rushmore Theatre Company Presents

WORLD OF SINATRAS
By SEAN O’CONNOR
Starring
JEFF RUBINO, DENNIS OSTERMAIER, DANIELLE DELGADO, SARAH ELMALEH, and JUSTIN CIMINO

And

EXQUISITE POTENTIAL
By STEPHEN KAPLAN

Starring
VINCE GATTON, RACHEL EVANS, MATT BIAGINI, BOB ADER, AIDEN McCALL CHUMBLEY, and SOPHIE KNAPP

Director: SYDNIE GROSBERG RONGA
Technical Director: ZACH COOK
Set designer/Props: SAMANTHA GASS
Costume Designer: RYAN HANSON
Lighting Designer: LIONEL CHRISTION, MAX SCHAFFER
Sound Designer: ABI DEGAY
Graphic Designer: VICTOR BARBELLA
Production Stage Manager: JOSEPHINE ROSE RONGA
Artistic Director: ADRIENNE DOUCETTE
Stage Managers: CHRISTAL VASSILYADI, JOSEPHINE ROSE RONGA
Videographer: JUSTIN HARRIS

The ArcLight Theatre
152 West 71st Street (between Broadway & Columbus Avenue)
July 15 – August 3, 2014

Project Rushmore Theatre Company is committed to exploring the American Spirit and takes their inspiration from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930’s with a mission to create jobs in the performing arts. The two plays performing in repertory at the ArcLight Theatre from July 15 to August 3 are about families and relationships.

Sean O’Connor’s WORLD OF SINATRAS is narrated by Sam (Jeff Rubino), the product of Jack (Dennis Ostermaier) and Marie (Danielle Delgado) Murdoch. Theirs is a love story, marinated in alcohol and abuse, slowly going bad. Through music (the kind of music that had words and meanings) Sam relates the tug of war under which he develops, with Jack insisting that feelings are for sissies while Marie attempts to “slip a song into his soul.” This is an ambitious piece of work that chronicles 30 years of the life of a conflicted child who takes on the attributes of his parents as he ages. Although the performances by the entire cast are exquisite and the musical background enhances the story (amazing how a song can immediately break into your memory bank), WORLD OF SINATRAS is a bit too long and at times redundant. In trying to present a complete picture of Sam’s response to his family at different intervals of his life, repetition of the dysfunction is not needed. The reality is that alcoholism and abuse are destructive and dangerous no matter what age the viewer

Stephen Kaplan’s EXQUISITE POTENTIAL also deals with the complexity of familial relationships. All parents believe their children are special but Alan Zuckerman (Vince Gatton) thinks his son David is the Messiah. No kidding, he has documented “miracles” to back his belief, and he manages to convince his rabbi (Matt Biagini, Bob Ader). In addition to exploring the bonds between parents and children, Kaplan also delves into philosophical questions like “What is the definition of a Messiah?” and “What are the results of high expectations for your children?” Tempered with sophisticated humor and endearing characters, EXQUISITE POTENTIAL becomes a masterful theatrical presentation. Spanning the time period of 30 years, the actors take on the roles of both the parents and the siblings. Once again the cast is superb.

Project Rushmore Theatre Company has definitely accomplished their mission with both these offerings. You want to thank them for putting these talented actors on a stage and allowing them to breathe life into intriguing subject matters.

- Laurie Lawson -

GERTRUDE - THE CRY

Potomac Theatre Project (PTP/NYC)
in association with Middlebury College
presents

GERTRUDE -- THE CRY

Written by HOWARD BARKER
Directed by RICHARD ROMAGNOLI

Featuring
BILL ARMY, PAMELA J. GRAY, ROBERT EMMET LUNNEY, ALEX DRAPER,
DAVID BARLOW, KATHRYN KATES, & MEGHAN LEATHERS

Ensemble
JOELLE MENDOZA, AASHNA AGGARWAL, & JAKE SCHWARTZWALD

Scenic Design: MARK EVANCHO
Lighting Design: HALLIE ZIESELMAN
Costume Design: DANIELLE NIEVES
Sound Design: CORMAC BLUESTONE
Press Representative: DAVID GIBBS/DARR Publicity

Atlantic Stage
330 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011
(866) 811-4111 or www.PTPNYC.org
July 15 through August 5, 2014

This play unfolds in and around Elsinore, in the present. Yes, the Elsinore of Hamlet. And yes, the Gertrude who was Hamlet’s mother. Playwright HOWARD BARKER has turned Shakespeare’s Hamlet on its head, then shaken and stirred, then put the blender on “whip”, letting the modernized characters take you to places you’ve never dreamt of, even in your wildest dreams. Gertrude is a sex-machine, and Claudius (brother of her murdered husband) is all over her like a rash. Everywhere, anywhere, it’s time for him to unbuckle and for her to hike up that mini-skirt. Even funerals are suitable venues for lust. Pretty exciting stuff.

Although in modern dress (and undress), the characters speak in classical tones reminiscent of Shakespeare’s cadences. Hamlet is already mad, in the British sense, and he is angry, in the American sense. Gertrude is cold and controlling which seems to excite men even more. Men, plural. She really has no limits when it comes to lust. It doesn’t hurt that she is quite beautiful as well.

Humor also floats through this tsunami of sex. Hamlet often seems a bit like Dagwood in his cluelessness and confusion. His grandmother disapproves of all these goings-on, but rolls with it. Shrug. She gets a few zingers in when she can.

HOWARD BARKER enjoys grabbing great texts of the past and turning them inside-out to investigate their underlying assumptions and comment on the social mores of the past and the present. With GERTRUDE he has created a real psycho-sexual masterpiece.

-Karen D’Onofrio-

THE THREE IRISH WIDOWS VERSUS THE REST OF THE WORLD

THE THREE IRISH WIDOWS
VERSUS THE REST OF THE WORLD


Written & Directed by ED MALONE

Featuring
FERGAL TITLEY

The Theatre Space
at Ryan’s Daughter

350 East 85th Street
New York, NY 10028
(646) 384-0009
June 19 through July 24, 2014

Oh, bad boy. ED MALONE has written a play about his ma, her sister, and her sister-in-law. He says the play will never be performed anywhere near County Cork, Ireland, where mother lives. One must assume she would be displeased or embarrassed or both, and take after him with that classic weapon of women, the wooden spoon. Or perhaps the broom. Because these three widows mourn their “losses” by declaring riotous independence. Make the sign of the cross, then start laughing.

The play begins in1984 Ireland, where postureless pre-yoga women are housebound housewives, bending over the stove and the laundry. They had radios and perhaps TV. And husbands. One a polite British man, one a big drinker, and one who is, simply, the boss, and makes sure his wife doesn’t forget it. Life in the good old days.

The drunkard goes first, car versus tree. The tree won. His widow, Margaret, expresses her grief by going on a spending spree. Time passes and eventually “the boss” develops cancer and goes to that great pub in the sky. The polite gentleman, the playwright’s father Phillip, is last to leave this world, in 2007. The ladies don’t waste a moment before they start living their new lives of freedom to the fullest.

Off to the hair salon, then to the travel agency. First stop, Spain. Amor! These women are taking it all the way, baby. They are not little old ladies on a coach tour. They are hitting the clubs, flirting and way, way beyond. Then to New York, somewhere called Queens, where Nulla’s son Ed is working on Broadway…handing out leaflets. Widowed Brenda hits on a New York taxi driver, which turns out to be a bad idea. But these women don’t know the meaning of defeat. Next stop, India. Because Oprah liked it there.

FERGAL TITLEY plays 34 characters in this one-hour riot. By the end his shirt is soaked in sweat but his energy never lags. The venue, upstairs at Ryan’s Daughter, is a pleasant open space with slim windows, sunlight, a full bar, and upholstered couches and wing-chairs. The play is a dynamic whirlwind trip seen through the Irish eyes of the writer and performed by a classic Irish storyteller in the best tradition. A great way to forget your troubles. The non-stop narration doesn’t leave one second for your mind to wander. It’s irresistible total-immersion fun that takes you up, up, and away and keeps you there long after you leave the theater.

-Karen D’Onofrio-