CEOExpress
Subscribe to This Blog | Author Login | Join CEOExpressSelect | Private Label CEOExpress

 
David Roberts  Theatre Critic
  
Amazon | CNN | Wikipedia | BuzzFeed | CEOExpress 

  Navigation Calendar
    
    Days with posts will be linked

  Most Recent Posts

 
Posts 1 - 50 of 442 51-100 >>
“Warm Enough for Swimming” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center Black Box Theatre (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)

“Warm Enough for Swimming” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center Black Box Theatre (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)
Written by Maggie Cino
Directed by Fred Backus
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

The characters in Maggie Cino’s “Warm Enough for Swimming,” currently running at FringeNYC 2014, all need to make the commitment to participate in a twelve-step program in an attempt to end the cycles of self-recrimination and co-dependence that complicate their lives. Eddie (David J. Goldberg) and his sister Bridget (Phoebe Silva) are the grandchildren of their recently deceased maternal grandmother with whom Bridget has been living on the Jersey shore. Grandma apparently physically abused the siblings’ mother cracking her on the head with a skillet more than once – a series of attacks which caused Alzheimer’s like symptoms and the mother’s suicide. Eddie wonders if granny similarly abused his sister over the many years she lived with and cared for her. There is enough co-dependence here to flummox the best therapist.

Bridget’s co-dependence draws her to her organized crime boyfriend Alex (Derrick Peterson) whose accent would place him somewhere in the former Eastern Block. Eddie’s co-dependence draws him to uber-protector and organizer Viva (Lindsey Carter) who unexpectedly joins her husband at their childhood home after he left her mid post-wedding festivities in California to come to his sister’s side upon grandma’s inconveniently scheduled demise.

All of this occurs at the height of the financial meltdown in 2008: Eddie exposes the wrongdoing in his financial institution (losing his job) and Viva’s dad wants to dump his sizeable fortune on Eddie and Viva before the Feds prosecute him for his own mortgage malfeasance. If there is a point to Ms. Cino’s new play it is as elusive as the never-ending coffee making the cast engages in throughout the play. The audience understands that everyone is in a less than healthy relationship but the audience is not given well-rounded characters they can care about or conflicts that matter much. One just wants to scream, “Get over it and move on!”

Instead there is a lot of punching and arguing and eventually Bridget throws everyone out and prepares herself for a life-ending dip in the Atlantic. Is she following in her mother’s footsteps? Is she pregnant with Alex’s child (lot of belly-grabbing goes on)? The actors do their best to make sense of it all with or without Fred Backus’ direction and ultimately are unable to infuse “Warm Enough for Swimming” with enough energy to keep it afloat.

WARM ENOUGH FOR SWIMMING

“Warm Enough for Swimming” is presented by Obvious Volcano in Association with The Present Company (Elena K. Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Fred Backus.

The cast of “Warm Enough for Swimming” includes Lindsey Carter, David J. Goldberg, Derrick Peterson, and Phoebe Silva.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, August 21, 2014

“All My Children” at FringeNYC 2014 at The White Box at 440 Studios (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)

“All My Children” at FringeNYC 2014 at The White Box at 440 Studios (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)
Written and Performed by Courtenay Raia
Directed by Martha Demson
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

After being trampled by someone who had something to do with “All My Children” at the White Box at 440 Studios, we waited on line for an eternity to enter the theatre. Apparently, although this was not playwright-performer Courtenay Raia’s first FringeNYC2014 performance, she was experiencing technical problems. The woman who trampled us scampered about from theatre to rest room to theatre to lobby whimpering, “Just another minute.” Mystery solved – I think this was the director!

Although our instincts warned us to take flight down the same stairs upon which we were trampled, we stayed and entered the theatre where being trampled gave way to being abused by what is perhaps the worst piece of theatre we ever experienced. Ms. Raia’s endless rant - as lecturer Dr. Courtenay Grean - about the virtues of freezing ones babies is tasteless, offensive, and meaningless. The script is beyond awful, the performance more of the beyond awful, and the direction – well you have heard about her earlier. How this mess got into the FringeNYC 2014 lineup will remain a mystery.

After an hour of what was supposed to be a 52 minute performance, “3 months later” flashed on the screen and two patrons in front of us seized the day and ran from their seats. We followed and fled down the steps onto Lafayette Avenue hoping somehow to forget what we had just seen.

ALL MY CHILDREN

“All My Children” is presented by Mad Academy in Association with The Present Company (Elena K. Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Martha Demson.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is posted at 52 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, August 21, 2014

“The Tunnel Play” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Kraine Theater (Closes on Thursday August 21, 2014)

“The Tunnel Play” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Kraine Theater (Closes on Thursday August 21, 2014)
Written by Ashley J. Jacobson
Directed by Courtney Laine Self
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Birdy (Dondrie Burnham) and Priddy (Chelsea Wolocko) choose to live in an underground tunnel, preferring its ambiance to the cluttered competitive world above. Birdy clips things from newspapers and Priddy feeds the rats and sings a bit. Colin (Ryan Guess) lives above ground quite comfortably (financially) working as a copywriter cajoled daily to work on the Nabisco account by his Boss (Brett Epstein). During the super storm of all super storms, these members of the one per cent and the ninety-nine percent collide in the Manhattan bar tended by Bartender (Laura Bogdanski). Ms. Bogdanski also plays the frenetic Meteorologist who warns of the impending doom.

These characters in Ashley J. Jacobson’s “The Tunnel Play,” currently running at the Kraine Theater as part of FringeNYC 2014, are not clearly defined and their problems or conflicts are not carefully developed so it is difficult to engage with them or with the plot that their conflicts drive. If there is a theme here it is not readily apparent. Yes, the audience knows Colin is miserable and bereft of girl friend/fiancé but the audience has no idea who Colin is and could care less about his weird flirtations with Priddy and the barkeep and his inability to hold on to his wallet in the subway.

Standing in a bar dripping wet and proclaiming that it would be nice to get along after the flood is not enough to make a play. “The Tunnel Play, despite the efforts of its cast, just does not work on any level.

THE TUNNEL PLAY

“The Tunnel Play” is presented by The Dirty Blondes in Association with The Present Company (Elena K. Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Courtney Laine Self.

The cast of “The Tunnel Play” includes Laura Bogdanski, Dondrie Burnham, Brett Epstein, Ryan Guess, and Chelsea Wolocko.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, August 21, 2014

“Absolutely Filthy” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Player’s Theatre (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)

“Absolutely Filthy” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Player’s Theatre (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)
Written by Brendan Hunt
Directed by Jeremy Aldridge
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

Once again, the gang is all here ( or what is left of them) in a new unauthorized parody of one of the most beloved comic strips. Entitled “Absolutely Filthy,” the play is presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. It has been ten years since we viewed this gang as teenagers in “Dog Sees God” (part of the Fringe NYC 2004) as they reunited for Snoopy’s funeral and now they have grown up and come together for the memorial service of “CB.” It is difficult to imagine the traits of these cartoon characters transferred to adults but as the script unfolds playwright Brendan Hunt makes no mistakes fleshing out each with their familiar attributes and threatening flaws. It is insightful, inspired and infused with life lessons that are to be learned by our faulty friends.

As the group slowly assembles with individual entrances, characters’ scars are a display of struggles, problems, and mishaps contributing to ironic situations within the cynical group. The cast is perfection, led by the tour de force performance of Mr. Hunt as he surrounds himself with the stench of failure, the filth of misfortune and the solitude of regret, while keeping old friends at bay with the swivel of his hip and a revolution of an impenetrable hula hoop. He is brave, uninhibited, secure and vulnerable as he mutters through his psychological meltdown to find peace. There are no disappointments here as each member of the ensemble clearly understands who they are, where they are, how they got here and the consequences that come with facing the past with old friends. They are deftly directed by Jeremy Aldridge who understands the fine line between reality and absurdity and keeps the momentum at a fast pace.

The play is full of laughs, lighthearted lessons, remarkable performances and characters, that no matter what their flaws, will capture your heart as you sit back and remember when. It may be sarcastic, but never preaches, yet somehow you will leave the theatre feeling good, a little smarter and maybe ready to pick up your phone and call an old friend.

ABSOLUTELY FILTHY

“Absolutely Filthy” is presented by The Wall of Sound in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Jeremy Aldridge.

The cast of “Absolutely Filthy” includes Jaime Andrews, Curt Bonnem, Anna Douglas, Rachel Germaine, Brendan Hunt, KJ Middlebrooks, Shannon Nelson, Kiff Scholl, and Robbie Winston.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours with one 12 minute intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, August 20, 2014

“With A Shrug” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center Black Box Theatre (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)

“With A Shrug” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center Black Box Theatre (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)
Written by Nicholas Priore
Directed by Robert Haufrecht
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Nicholas Priore’s “With A Shrug” is a complex script that raises as many rich questions as it answers. Full of intriguing connections and delicious sub texts, this expanded version of Mr. Priore’s one-act play of the same title captures intimate moments between unlikely characters and examines their motivations with shameless surgical exactitude.

Chris (Devin Doyle) strolls into his friend’s home in a deteriorating neighborhood to find the Old Man’s (Bob Adrian) daughter Shelley (Julie Hays) sorting through what is left of her father’s belongings after his recent death. Kids in the neighborhood have taken much of what he left behind. Chris has been coming to see Shelley’s father since grade school: Chris is a loner, emotionally abused by his military father (Walter Michael DeForest) and bullied at school. Chris is smart, gentle, a concrete thinker who does not always “put things together” easily, and focused: he might be suffering from an autism spectrum disorder, perhaps Asperger’s. Chris finds comfort and acceptance at the Old Man’s table and in the tree house they built together in the back yard.

Shelley is shocked to find Chris in her father’s house and threatens him with a baseball bat. Refusing to leave, Chris explains he has come to retrieve something he loaned Shelley’s father and which the Old Man promised to return after finishing with it. And, with a shrug, affirms he will not leave until Shelley turns it over. The item is the German luger Shelley’s father used to commit suicide: life had become increasingly difficult and he was experiencing a rapid increase in dementia. What follows is an explosive exchange of emotion: anger, regret, remorse, and denial. And all of these emotions lead to a place of redemption and release.

Past and present coexist in this play and energize one another with explosive force. Relationships are re-examined and old jealousies and “ruins” are revisited and explored from new perspectives. Identities overlap and those among the living inherit the names and characteristics of those among the dead. The ensemble cast is brilliant, each capturing the gritty essence or her or his character. Devin Doyle is splendid as Chris/Joe and never misses an opportunity to revel yet another layer of his complicated and intriguing character. Julie Hays exhibits a Shelley who understands how tempting suicide can be and displays her character with exactitude. Bob Adrian is brilliant as the Old Man and, with the wink of an eye or the quick turn of his head, embraces the soul of the aging father who sees in Chris not just the image of his son Joe (who committed suicide) but the years of sorrow and pain that clutter his soul, And Walter Michael DeForest gives the audience an unlikable Father who projects onto Chris his own solitude and loneliness and fear.

Robert Haufrecht directs with care and moves the cast into and out of the present with fluidity that serves the script well. After the scene between Chris, his father, and Shelley (at Chris’s house), the script begins to weaken just a bit; however, its merits outweigh its weaknesses. “With A Shrug” is a tightly woven fabric of surprises and catharses.

Ruins are rebuilt quickly and healing embraced without much hesitation. Shelley moves into her father’s house in the neighborhood she claims to hate, embraces Chris and even calls him Joe. They have soup together every day and embrace the future with hope. Chris’s father does a one eighty and softens up. And the gentle spirit of the Old Man hovers in the wings.

WITH A SHRUG

“With A Shrug” is presented by Prior Projections in Association with The Present Company (Elena K. Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Robert Haufrecht.

The cast of “With A Shrug” includes Bob Adrian, Walter Michael DeForest, Devin Doyle, and Julie Hays.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, August 20, 2014

“Ryan Is Lost” at FringeNYC 2014 at the 64E4 Mainstage Theatre (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)

David Haverty and Brittany Allen in "Ryan Is Lost"
“Ryan Is Lost” at FringeNYC 2014 at the 64E4 Mainstage Theatre (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)
Written by Nathan Wellman
Directed by Michael Nankin
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

The NY International Fringe Festival is presenting “Ryan Is Lost” a new play by Nathan Wellman which is an intriguing, interesting and brooding two character drama. If one could imagine, it would be the offspring of “Waiting for Godot” and “The Zoo Story.” It is absurdly provocative as it slowly retrieves simmering emotions to the surface, allowing a boiling pain and intense relief.

Waiting here are Avis and Frank – an odd couple if ever there was one. Claiming to be sister and brother with a (perhaps) abusive father and one with a parole officer, they wait on a bench in a shopping mall for their nephew Ryan who has wandered off and not yet returned to the designated meeting area. As they wait, they engage in a marvelous nihilistic rant whose tragicomic content would make Samuel Beckett and Edward Albee proud.

Whether they are related or whether Ryan is even real matters not. Avis and Frank are strangers in a strange land unable to reach out to traditional constructs of protection and surcease. What matters is that they have found a safe place (for now) to protect themselves from the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortunes. Ryan’s being found might only make that sweeter still.

The two actors (Brittany Allen and David Haverty) are a force to be reckoned with, creating invisible shackles that bind them together, sharing, hoping, wanting and waiting for a savior. When there is an emotional eruption it shakes their stability and causes tremors and aftershocks which after a while become comfortable and easily ignored forbearers of doom. They are intense, ever present and draw breath from each other, sometimes suffocating, other times liberating but most of the time creating a vacuous void where they are safe. Ms Allen is remarkable, never missing an opportunity to carve another facet into her complex character (Avis) and with every turn shows strength, vulnerability, fear and an undetermined faith that everything will be all right. Mr. Haverty is an equal match, with an unbridled performance, infusing his character (Frank) with fervor, subtle delusion, survival and impetuous emotional outbreaks.

Michael Nankin deftly directs this production keeping a tight rein, never allowing it to wander, confining all the energy in a bombshell waiting to explode.

RYAN IS LOST

“Ryan Is Lost” is presented by Awake Unafraid Theatre in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Michael Nankin.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 10 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“A Touch of Forever” at FringeNYC 2014 at Teatro SEA at the Clememte (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“A Touch of Forever” at FringeNYC 2014 at Teatro SEA at the Clememte (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Written by Josiah DeAndrea
Directed by Michael Tartaglia
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Gavin Blitz (Josiah DeAndrea) is on lithium. As he finishes his script for a pornographic film, he decides to stop taking his medication to clear his mind and allow him to complete his art-form contribution to the canon of online porn. The protagonist in his script Lucia appears throughout the play to assist, cajole, and warn her creator when he errs in judgment: this fiction “inside his head” ultimately finishes the script before Gavin’s untimely death. His sister Cassie’s “client” (yes, she is putting her way through college as a sex worker) enters the apartment and murders Gavin assuming he is Cassie’s favorite client. Once this is established in Mr. DeAndrea’s real life script for “A Touch of Forever,” it might have been a good idea to exit the theatre - audience right. Staying, however, with a nod to civility proved the wrong choice. There is nothing in this play worth an investment of one hundred precious minutes of one’s life.

“A Touch of Forever” is a depressing bit of theatre with a theme that happiness is not attainable and exists only as an elusive goal. Not a new theme and this play adds nothing new to the conversation.

This is not a reviewer’s attempt to be cruel; it is an authentic appeal to the playwright to reevaluate his script. Unfortunately, Mr. DeAndrea is a cast member and not able to have a proper perspective on his creation. Director Michael Tartaglia should have that perspective and is responsible for most of the bad choices made in this production. The cast – except for the playwright – remain blameless and unnamed in this review.

A TOUCH OF FOREVER

“A Touch of Forever” is presented by The Uncivilization Project in Association with The Present Company (Elena K. Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Michael Tartaglia.

The cast of “A Touch of Forever” includes Brett Marcus Coady, Rory Allan Meditz, Pooya Mohseni, Niko Papastefanou, Connie Saltzman, Jason Stanley, and Maggie Jane Tatone.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“Behind Closed Doors” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“Behind Closed Doors” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Book by Peter Berube
Music and Lyrics by Aaron Beaumont
Directed by Peter Berube
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

There is a new musical being presented at Theatre 80 as part of the NY International Fringe Festival with the billing “Behind Closed Doors.” It is appropriate to explain what occurred behind closed doors at a recent performance. There to review the show, we took our seats promptly in the back row to avoid disturbing the performers or audience members while quickly scratching notes on our programs or notebooks. As the lights dimmed on a sold out performance, someone approached us and and asked if the empty seat next to us was taken; the response was “No,” so she proceeded to sit down apologetically mumbling that she was somebody involved with the production and had to text during the performance. That she did incessantly, until mid act decided to leave the theatre, only to arrive back a few minutes later to stand next to the patron sitting next to me, who in five minutes decided to leave (reason unknown) and then she returned to her seat only to continue to text. Then two patrons climbed over their seats in the back row and exited the theatre and returned a few minutes later to climb back into their seats - this despite the strict “No Reentry” warning. Then the first act ended, the house lights came up and we left. There really was no point in staying, since we missed most of the content of the first act from the distractions, and what we did see seemed like bad burlesque and a “Cabaret” wannabe. This behavior is unacceptable from any patron nonetheless a company member. We are not too familiar with theater etiquette in L.A., but this is certainly frowned upon in a New York theater. Hopefully this critique will improve behavior for the remaining performances so audience members can focus on what is happening on the stage.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

“Behind Closed Doors” is presented by Traveling Muse Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Peter Berube.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes with one intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“Poor Behavior” at Primary Stages at the Duke on 42nd Street (Closes on Sunday September 7, 2014)

Katie Kreisler and Brian Avers - Photo by James Leynse
“Poor Behavior” at Primary Stages at the Duke on 42nd Street (Closes on Sunday September 7, 2014)
By Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Evan Cabnet
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Theresa Rebeck asks an important and rich question in her new “Poor Behavior” currently running at the Duke on 42nd Street the new home of Primary Stages. This question might go unnoticed it is so intertwined with Ms. Rebeck’s rant about the state of marriage in contemporary “civilized” culture: and it is a good rant indeed. The real question though is not just whether the institution of marriage is sustainable, but whether the institution of America is sustainable. If there were a time when William Butler Yeats might have an attentive audience, it is at this maleficent moment of antinomian delight midway through the first decade of the twenty-first century.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; /Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, /
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned; /
The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” (“The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats)

In other words, poor behavior abounds and no one seems to care much. Playwright Theresa Rebeck seems to care in this challenging foray into finding a (perhaps) moral compass. Two couples share a weekend at one couple’s weekend country home and as wine flows to the bacchanalian brim, trendy muffins fail to sate hunger, and truth emerges in abundance: as does an abundance of histrionics and soul searching. Ms. Rebeck’s script is well structured and the opening argument between Ian (Brian Avers) and Ella (Katie Kreisler) transforms into an argument about morality – the old and the new.

The argument between Ian and Ella appears to be a heated argument between husband and wife and that perception is the first clue to the conflict that drives the play’s intriguing plot where “Everything’s suddenly a question.” This from Ian, “And besides, let me tell you, everyone on the planet is talking about it. We’re crushed, honestly. Do you think we weren’t rooting for [America]? Because we were. You were our dream. And then you threw it away, you threw away the Enlightenment, for what? For marriage? I’m telling you, the entire planet is crushed.”

Brian Avers is the quintessential “diabolos:” that one whose essence is to tear apart, pull down, and separate that which only desires to be whole. His plan – since a kiss in a walk in closet years ago – has been to win Ella over despite the cost. And Ian does this to “save” Ella from her marriage with Peter (Jeff Biehl) that he considers unfulfilled. Ian even squirrels away Ella’s earrings she leaves on the counter-top to further prove to Peter and Ian’s wife Maureen (Heidi Ambruster) he is having an affair with Ella. This is not delusional behavior: this is the work of a human being seemingly bereft of a superego. Peter knows this well: “[Ian’s] just a liar, he’s a trickster, he destroys things, look at this, he’s destroyed three lives, without even, he’s a destroyer and you are letting him, why, why—.“

It is not easy, however, to dismiss Ian as a terrible person. His character is a trope for all those things that push humanity to question their own moral core and the moral core of their nation-state. In fact is this wonderfully morally ambiguous character who is able to assert, “Because the real indignity, finally, is that crashingly horrifying discovery that your soul was wrong. Was in fact just stupid, your soul, and how do you live with that, how do you live with the utter insult of cataclysmic personal mistakes?”

Katie Kreisler is the perfect Ella, caught in a marriage that has entrapped her (and Peter) and not sure how to escape. Heidi Armbruster is captivating as Ian’s wife Maureen who he describes as “completely raving bonkers, the women is an emotional lunatic from start to finish.” And Jeff Biehl’s Peter is convincing as Ella’s husband: although he refuses to admit that she is having an affair with Ian, he knows that she is and is unable to accept the drowning of “the ceremony of innocence” that admission would provoke. Under Evan Cabnet’s fluid direction, this gifted ensemble cast delivers a quartet of authentic and honest performances.

“Poor Behavior” raises the possibility that “the center is not holding.” But was that center ever meant to hold? Whose center is it? Plays about moral ambiguity are nothing new. This one by Theresa Rebeck is a welcomed addition to the canon of dramatic works that address the “good versus evil” conundrum. The behavior in this worthy play is neither good nor bad (whatever those constructs mean) but rather it is “poor,” wanting, not rich. Whether the answer to the inadequacy of marriage is to abandon all responsibility (as Ian does) is questionable. And it is this type of rich, deep question that the playwright asks in “Poor Behavior.”

Perhaps Ian says it best: “We’re talking about goodness, your favorite subject. Because it all comes back to that, darling. Why on earth are you trying so hard to be good, if goodness is death? Or not even that. What is it's just an anesthetic? Of goodness is just an anesthetic is it still goodness? Especially if anesthesia isn’t finally just an excuse to release the worst in us. Our own little excuse for poor behavior.”

POOR BEHAVIOR

The cast of “Poor Behavior” includes Heidi Armbruster, Brian Avers, Jeff Biehl, and Katie Kreisler.

“Poor Behavior” features a scenic design by Lauren Helpern, costume design by Jessica Pabst, lighting design by Jason Lyons, sound design by Jill BC Du Boff, and casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting. Production photos by James Leynse.

Poor Behavior plays a limited engagement July 29- September 7 at The Duke on 42nd Street – a NEW 42ND STREET® project. (229 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues). Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:00 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 3:00 p.m. There is an added performance Wednesday, August 20 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for Poor Behavior are $70.00 and can be purchased online at PrimaryStages.org or at Dukeon42.org, by phone at 646-223-3010, or at the box office.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 18, 2014

“The Hurricane” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“The Hurricane” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Bjorn Berkhout
Directed by Taryn Turney
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

There is a new musical (operetta) by Bjorn Berkhout entitled “The Hurricane” being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. It is an admirable attempt in a difficult genre and casts a light on a contemporary theme that shines with integrity. The plot, although complicated, is easy to understand and follow when viewing, and not at all necessary to reveal in detail. It deals with revenge, ostracism, greed, morality and love. It invents a situation that is melodramatic but contained by the human condition and controlled by characters that do not fall prey to becoming the victims of stereotype. The music is operatic and progressive (ala Britten) being somewhat successful but also periodically inconsistent as far as quality.

Mykel Vaughn does a fine job in capturing the nature and spirit of Madame Sparrow never being trapped or confined, reaching beyond the role’s limitations. Laura Sudduth exudes the youthful, lovelorn Miranda with a clear soprano and energetic charm. Spencer Glass creates a confused Ferdinand, doting and delusional. Jay Aubrey Jones brings a stable Alonso to the stage with truth and understanding. The remainder of the cast includes Warren G. Nolan Jr. (Caliban), Bryce Henry (Ariel), Robert Ackerman (Sebastian), and Ryan Rhue(Antonio) round out the ensemble competently. As Director, Taryn Turney keeps the action moving and the energy level high.

The show does not come without its problems, but most likely nothing that cannot be fixed, and it is worth a look, especially if the genre appeals to you. Even if the first act seems slow and a bit difficult to swallow, hold on the second act proves to redeem.

THE HURRICANE

“The Hurricane” is presented by Bjoto Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Taryn Turney.

The cast of “The Hurricane” includes Robert Ackerman, Spencer Glass, Bryce Henry, Jay Aubrey Jones, Warren G. Nolan, Jr., Ryan Rhue, Laura Sudduth, and Mykel Vaughn.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 10 minute intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 18, 2014

“Sick City Blues” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Connelly Theater (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)

“Sick City Blues” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Connelly Theater (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)
Written by Jake Shore
Directed by Jake Shore
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Sick City Blues” Is a new play by Jake Shore being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival that has the ability to captivate an attentive audience. It is a crime drama with twists and turns laced with f… ing Mamet style vulgarity which at times seems gratuitous when not lending authenticity to character definition. The plot is clever and complicated relying on the audience fill in the blanks and think in order to have that “ah hah” moment, a novelty that rarely exists in today’s bombastic theatre world. It consists of short vignettes and long monologues that are sewn together with a strong thread and tight stitch, creating tight seams that connect the complex plot. It is interesting, intriguing, involved and produces characters with absolutely no integrity in the underground world of crime. In other words it appears to be real.

The cast buys into the material which helps create the reality and they effectuate their characters’ purposes with honest and vivid definition. Stephen Heskett (Martin) gives a bold performance, easily producing a commanding presence and mastering the vulgar cadence as if it were poetry. Adam Files (Ray) captures desperation and survival and turns them into an attractive attribute rather than an evil personification. Gavin Starr Kendall (Sal) is hard, raw and unpredictable which produces his dangerous and callous persona. Justin Colon (Vinny) is calm, calculating and frivolous in his attempts to play with the big boys. Cara Moretto (Mary) inflicts her own fear, unstable, vulnerable and searching for a safe place, riddled with wrong choices. This proves to be a good collaboration of talented artists.

SICK CITY BLUES

“Sick City Blues” is presented by Backyard Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K. Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Jake Shore.

The cast of “Sick City Blues” includes Justin Colon, Adam Files, Stephen Heskett, Gavin Starr Kendall, and Cara Moretto.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 18, 2014

“Fearless” at FringeNYC 2014 at 64E4 Underground Theatre (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“Fearless” at FringeNYC 2014 at 64E4 Underground Theatre (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Written and Performed by John Del Vecchio
Directed by Sharon Counts
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

John Del Vecchio attempts to share with his audience what he has learned about moving beyond fear – fear of intimacy in relationships, fear of self-expression, and fear of self-discovery. Mr. Del Vecchio, who holds a Master in Educational Theatre from NYU, teaches elementary students the craft of drama and uses vignettes from his teaching experience to illustrate his overcoming of fear by illustrating how he teaches his students the same skill set.

Conversations with Rachel and other students – with the performer playing role of teacher and student – are at times quite funny and their authenticity clearly engages the audience. By the time Rachel and her cohort matriculate to middle school, they are confident, brave, and self-assured. The stories from Mr. Del Vecchio’s personal life, on the other hand, are not as funny (except to family and friends in attendance who insisted on laughing every time the performer opened his mouth) and ring with fabrication: most of them involve the performer’s impressive sexual conquests without and within the schools where he was serving as a Teaching Assistant.

The most questionable story was the longest of the already overlong sixty-five minute exercise in self-indulgence. Why Mr. Del Vecchio includes a story about a threesome he engaged in is puzzling. This drab story does nothing to drive the plot or support his theme. It has nothing to do with anything.

Unfortunately, the material Mr. Del Vecchio chooses to share detracts from the important stories about self-loathing and self destruction. Contemplating suicide – and once attempting to do so – is an important consideration. The audience longs to hear more about how the performer ultimately faced that extreme self-hatred. We know how John Del Vecchio enables Rachel to find her center and her fear-less self. How, Mr. Del Vecchio have you done that for yourself?

FEARLESS

“Fearless” is presented by Mutandi Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Sharon Counts.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is one hour with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 18, 2014

“Freaks: a legend about growing up” at FringeNYC 2014 at Teatro SEA at the Clements (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)

“Freaks: a legend about growing up” at FringeNYC 2014 at Teatro SEA at the Clements (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)
Written by Sam French
Directed by Kyle Wilson
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

A new play being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival is penned by Sam French and is in collaboration with a cast all associated with Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. They are all “Freaks” of the “me generation” and so the play has adopted that specific term as the title, subtitled “a legend about growing up,” and rightfully so. The four characters fall far from the generational stereotype; instead, they are caring, careful, cautious, sharing contagious dreams and complex memories but never texting or taking selfies. They manage to engage each other without the help of an android. The script is spotty and at times vague, but the language is intelligent, lyrical and rich. The dialogue sometimes rolls off the tongue like fresh water rambling over smooth rocks in a bubbly stream. It is reminiscent of the poets of the sixties: this group of young friends who reunite, who search, save, sing and try to achieve some satisfaction.

The cast does a fine job in defining their characters even though the material somewhat lacks the necessary exposition that could add depth and substance. Sawyer Pierce (Carl) never leaves the past but raises from self pity with a contemplated hope for the future. Carl Lundstedt (Danny) harnesses the courage to change, the intelligence to accept that change and the vulnerability in the fear of losing his past. Cara Ronzetti (Flower) inhabits a free spirit with high energy and honest confusion, sharing her mystic beliefs and strumming a guitar to ease the tension. Colleen Pulawski (Jenny) is pensive, fearful and struggles as she tries to hold on to what she thinks she needs. Each actor gives sincere individual performances but their strength is exhibited as an ensemble.

It is a glimpse into the lives of four young adults reunited for an hour, to figure out a lifetime. They survive the coming of age storm, dancing in the turbulent waters, trusting destiny and letting their troubles blow away with the wind. It poses many questions and provides no answers but that may be the point. It is a refreshing new work by a promising new playwright infused with the fine performances of young actors practicing their well learned craft. The freaks in this sideshow rise up and show hope for the cavalcade of characters usually found in the carnival of the me generation.

FREAKS: A LEGEND ABOUT GROWING UP

“Freaks: a legend about growing up” is presented by The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Kyle Wilson.

The cast of “Freaks: a legend about growing up” includes Carl Lundstedt, Sawyer Pierce, Colleen Pulawski, and Cara Ronzetti.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 18, 2014

“Over” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center Black Box (Closes on Thursday August 21, 2014)

“Over” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center Black Box (Closes on Thursday August 21, 2014)
Written by Dave Chapman
Directed by Bryan Enk
Reviewed by
Theatre Reviews Limited

Dave Chapman’s “Over” would appear to be the obverse of M. Night Shyamaian’s “The Sixth Sense.” In the latter movie the boy played by Haley Joel Osment is able to see dead people. In “Over,” those among the living are able to see the deceased Tabitha (Becky Byers) who transports her spirit self – after committing suicide – to the side of her sister Nicole (Alisha Spielmann) to become her “guardian angel.” Tabitha appears in Nicole’s apartment right after Nicole is dumped by her boyfriend Jack (Adam Belvo) who is so codependent he never makes it out the door after the breakup. Of course he could not leave because the playwright needs him with Nicole to further his convoluted and unlikely plot.

Nicole and Jack are joined by Nicole’s neighbor and co-jogger Spence (Brian Siliman) who of course also is able to see Tabitha. By the way, the spritely Tabitha experiences hunger and pain – traits intended perhaps to keep the audience in suspense rather than falling into somnambulism and to keep Spence busy making pancakes in the kitchen. It takes Nicole almost the full overlong two hours and twenty minutes to figure out the Tabitha Code – Jack and Spencer somewhat less. During this time, Jack and Nicole continue to bicker and Tabitha continues to whine and Spence attempts to referee the melee. Spence and Jack leave Nicole and Tabitha alone in the apartment to begin the process of spiritual healing. As they leave, Tabitha tells sleep-deprived Jack he would make a great guardian angel and she tells overweight Spence he is in danger. Car accident and heart attack in the making?

“Over” is overlong and overwrought and provides little payoff. The characters, particularly Nicole, are uninteresting and Nicole is downright unlikeable. If Tabitha can help Nicole reach some level of adulthood and civility, she will earn her guardian angel wings.

OVER

“Over” is presented by KRM Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Bryan Enk.

The cast of “Over” includes Adam Belvo, Becky Byers, Brian Silliman, and Alisha Spielmann.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, August 16, 2014

“Dust Can’t Kill Me” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“Dust Can’t Kill Me” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Book by Abigail Carney
Music and Lyrics by Elliah Heifetz
Directed by Jacob Osborne
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

The new musical “Dust Can’t Kill Me,” which is being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival, is a bit of folklore associated with the Dust Bowl in the Midwest during the depression. It is narrated by a storyteller who spins the tale of a motley group of farmers, wanderers, gamblers and outlaws drawn together by the promise of a prophet to guide them to a paradise, in the middle of the drought. They are strangers tied together by a dream to escape their catastrophic existence. It sounds interesting and viable but disintegrates when characters are not fully developed and do not move the plot forward. They lack drive and passion so the struggle seems inconsequential. When realizing that death is their salvation, one by one they give into the temptation and unfortunately that is what generates the plot. It is interspersed with plenty of musical numbers but they also fall short in contributing any information that would further the plot or define a character. There is no dramatic arc.

The music is mostly American folk and lends itself to the period and the location but quickly becomes superfluous, even though every effort is made instrumentally with acoustic guitar, an ample string section, and harmonica. The entire cast makes an admirable attempt to transcend the material and create a cohesive product; however this effort fails and the cast is left disjointed and unconnected. Perhaps one major problem is that the musical is bogged down with depression and hopelessness. There is absolutely nothing uplifting, bright, comedic or inspiring to invite the audience in. When there is no contrast the despair is not a catalyst but merely becomes the norm, producing no emotional connection.

DUST CAN’T KILL ME

“Dust Can’t Kill Me” is presented by Jonathan Lian in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Jacob Osborne. Music Directred, Arranged, and Orchestrated by Max Gordon. Choreographed by Claire Gassford.

The cast of “Dust Can’t Kill Me” includes Jamie Bogyo, Chris Camp, Paul Hinkes, Nathaniel Janis, Alyssa Miller, Michael Ruocco, and Lily Shoretz.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, August 16, 2014

“The Picture (of Dorian Gray)” at FringeNYC 2014 at Location (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)

“The Picture (of Dorian Gray)” at FringeNYC 2014 at Location (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)
Written and Directed by Neal Utterback
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” ― Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

One could consider Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” to be a retelling of Goethe’s “Faust.” Both Dorian Gray and Faust sell their souls to the Devil in exchange for things they desire: they receive eternal youth and magical powers respectively. The plot of Wilde’s retelling is well known and need not be recounted here. There have been several retellings of Wilde’s novel including Will Self’s “Dorian” published in 2002. Neal Utterback has attempted a retelling with his “The Picture (of Dorian Gray)” currently running at FringeNYC 2014. Presumably the parentheses substitute for a more substantive title.

Mr. Utterback’s version of the iconic tale is, unfortunately, not remarkable. The seventy minute performance piece counterpoints the portrait of Dorian Gray (Phil Oberholzer) narrating the story from beginning to end with the “acting out” of that story on stage by four young energetic and committed actors who play all the roles with enthusiasm and authenticity. A variety of sunglasses defines each character and the actors pass these back and forth as they assume the character associated with the distinguishable pair of sunglasses. Dorian Gray sports classic Ray-Ban Aviators and these are mostly worn by the engaging and energetic Jamison Monella. Jessica Denison, Andrew Kilpatrick, and Alyssa Newberg play Lord Henry Wotton, Basil Hallward, Sibyl Vane and others and complete the ensemble cast.

Despite their efforts, Mr. Utterback’s script fails to give new meaning to Mr. Wilde’s themes despite the attempt to reference contemporary song lyrics and “dens of iniquity.” Kudos to the cast for giving their all to this project. Such effort is commendable.

THE PICTURE (OF DORIAN GRAY)

“The Picture (of Dorian Gray)” is presented by The Gravity Partners in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Neal Utterback.

The cast of “The Picture (of Dorian Gray)” includes Jessica Denison, Jamison Monella, Andrew Kilpatrick, Phil Oberholzer, and Alyssa Newberg.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 10 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, August 15, 2014

“Breaking the Shakespeare Code” at FringeNYC 2014 at 64E4 Mainstage (Closes on Wednesday August 20, 2014)

“Breaking the Shakespeare Code” at FringeNYC 2014 at 64E4 Mainstage (Closes on Wednesday August 20, 2014)
Written by John Minigan
Directed by Stephen Brotebeck
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Marry, this is the short and the long of it; you have brought her into such a canaries as 'tis wonderful. The best courtier of them all, when the court lay at Windsor, could never have brought her to such a canary.” – Mistress Quickly in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (Act II, Scene 2)

There ought to be a warning posted above the entrance to the Mainstage Theatre at 64 East 4th Street Theatres on the days “Breaking the Shakespeare Code” is running. Something like, “Fasten your seat belts or prepare to be blown away!” It takes Martha and George years of angst-ridden and explosive off-campus confrontations to break the “kid” code in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” It takes Curt and Anna sixteen years of angst-ridden and explosive on-campus confrontations to break the Shakespeare code that has bound them together in John Minigan’s brilliant and demanding new play currently running at FringeNYC 2014.

Like George and Martha, Curt (Tim Weinert) and Anna (Miranda Jonte) bring each other to a point halfway between their characters and themselves and push each other to a point halfway between them. This is a hard game for Curt and Anna and one that keeps them asking, “What are we working on?” That question defines the powerful plot spun by two characters driven by deep-seated and dissociative conflicts.

John Minigan’s “Breaking the Shakespeare Code” is bold, brutal, brave, beguiling and brilliant. The structure is sturdy, the dramatic arc intriguing and it is a remarkable escape into reality. Stephen Brotebeck’s direction is fluid, sometimes frantic, and never frivolous: it always supports the script and the actor. The two actors attack their provocative roles with fierce commitment, each holding his or her
own territory whilst always sharing the same battleground. Mr. Weinert’s Curt is steady, strong, imperious and intelligent as a teacher, yet human, vulnerable, insecure and approachable as a man. He is a mentor and menacing, headstrong but harmless, aggressive and agitated. Miranda Jonte’s Anna is captivating, cautious, cunning and consistent as she develops her character. She is impressive as she walks a fine line between art and life willing to risk both for the chance to succeed. Both are generous actors, prepared to give and willing to receive, always present, and fearless. They drown in their emotion, never coming up for air. They know there is nothing for them on the surface and it makes them delve even deeper, rummaging through their souls to retrieve the passion needed to expose their character.

Shakespeare characters Portia and Brutus and Mistress Quickly and Falstaff do not prove worthy matches for Anna and Curt: these heroic yet ruthless protagonists are willing to hedge their bets again and again in order to discover the precise definition of their connection and how that “banding together” will determine their futures.

BREAKING THE SHAKESPEARE CODE

“Breaking the Shakespeare Code” is presented by Hey Jonte! Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director) and is directed by Stephen Brotebeck.

The cast of “Breaking the Shakespeare Code” includes Miranda Jonte and Tim Weinert.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 80 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, August 15, 2014

Three Solo Performances at FringeNYC 2014

Three Solo Performances at FringeNYC 2014
“The Death Monologues” Written and Performed by Giselle Suarez and Directed by Cathy Hartenstein
“Mining My Own Business” Written and Performed by Xavier Toby and Directed by Glenda Linscott
“No Static At All” Written and Performed by Alex Knox and Directed by Becca Wolff
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Three solo performances at FringeNYC highlight the difficulty of performing solo. All three actors were engaging; however, their stories were not. Here is TRL’s take on these shows.

THE DEATH MONOLOGUES

Giselle Suarez’s “The Death Monologues” gives death personified the opportunity to defend itself against popular notions about the famed harbinger of the life after life. Death is of course the master of ceremonies here and pops up between monologues to “clarify” what the audience might have missed in each. The audience hears from “Mortality” about the existential crisis of the first awareness a child has that those around her or him might not always be there. Death echoes, “I love you and you can trust me!” “Only Love” follows with the affirmation of life after death of Ms. Suarez’s father and that “love is the only thing that matters.” Death echoes, “I never make mistakes or cheat anybody.”

A character named Tristus and then Persephone, goddess of the Underworld make their case for death as does Ms. Suarez’s mother Betty in the final monologue making her case for “readiness for death” despite the efforts of others to keep her alive.

Throughout the monologues, Giselle Suarez relies heavily on magical thinking and concepts of death which offer nothing new on an age-old topic. The reappearance of “Death” becomes tiring and obtrusive. There is language in this performance not suitable for children.

MINING MY OWN BUSINESS

It is probably not best to listen to work mates when they suggest writing a one-act play about experiences on the job with them, particularly if they are the sort who put you in your bed in your drunken stupor and draw pornographic images on your face while you are passed out. But that’s exactly what Xavier Toby decides to do in his “Mining My Own Business” the sixty minute recounting of his stint in administrative duties at an Australian FIFO mining site where he worked to pay off the substantial credit card debt incurred while “following his dream” performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012.

Laced with more than a fair share of homoerotic humor (this from an ostensibly straight young man), and a smidgen of scatological humor, Mr. Toby’s story highlights the perks and pitfalls of being just a bit out of his element at the work place.

Although much of Xavier Toby’s humor is bland, he is an affable performer whose story has a modicum of interest despite its lack of comedic punch.

NO STATIC AT ALL

Alex Knox, juggling the trendy tenants of Judaism (Biblical and Rabbinic), humanism, and unabashed magical thinking, weaves a tale of friendship, self-discovery, and finding meaning and direction in one’s life.

Although these are admiral themes for a solo performance, they need tender care in composition and performance. There are times when Mr. Knox achieves a “perfect chord” in the delivery of his script (developed by Becca Wolff); there are other times when the performer seems to wobble off course and lose the thread of his story. It is not that past and present events are not clearly identifiable; the problem is that one often wonders why the story is being told. Is the listener supposed to reconnect with spiritual roots? Become a fan of Steely Dan? Look for sixth dimension connections between events stretched across continents?

Unfortunately, “No Static At All” creates more fuzziness than clarity. Mr. Knox is an affable and engaging young actor. There is something about his friendship with Joshua and his connection with Steely Dan (Walter Becker and Donald Fagen) that is honest and authentic and makes the piece a worthwhile effort on the journey to self-understanding.

THE DEATH MONOLOGUES, MINING MY OWN BUSINESS, NO STATIC AT ALL

“The Death Monologues,” “Mining My Own Business,” and “No Static At All” are presented by The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Cathy Hartenstein, Glenda Linscott, and Becca Wolff respectively.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running times are listed in the online FringeNYC Guide.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, August 15, 2014

“Jump Man” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)

“Jump Man” at FringeNYC 2014 at Theatre 80 (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)
Written by Samuel Pitt Stoller
Directed by Myla Pitt
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

There is a new musical being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival entitled “Jump Man” which is remotely based on the characters remembered in the popular video game The Mario Brothers. It really is not a parody but rather a reinvention or fantasy of who these characters might be if they appeared in the present as part of a normal neighborhood with regular people. The particular hood presented in this production seems to be a bit less than normal, more than vulgar, a bit too presumptuous, and lacking any sense of viability. For the most part the music is repetitive, flat and generic with little diversity but does make an attempt at rap though falling short. The lyrics are a bit on the vulgar side, used gratuitously. As messy and scattered as it is, there is a book, with a storyline, a beginning, middle and an end which serves up the ridiculous in a fashion of interconnected vignettes jumping from one scenario to another.

The cast seems to be enjoying themselves, at times a bit more than the audience. They do what they can with the material which is an admirable undertaking. This production might find a respectful audience or could be deemed as offensive and irreverent but no matter: the bottom line is that it certainly does not qualify as good musical theatre. The production has a sold out run at FringeNYC 2014 so most likely you will be able to catch it later on especially with the huge support of friends and family which gifted most of the accolades at the recently attended performance.

JUMP MAN

“Jump Man” is presented by Is A Door Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Myla Pitt.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours and 5 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, August 14, 2014

“NO HOMO” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Players Theatre (Closes on Sunday August 17, 2014)

“NO HOMO” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Players Theatre (Closes on Sunday August 17, 2014)
Written by Brandon Baruch
Directed by Jessica Hanna
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“NO HOMO,” a new play being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival, should first decide what it wants to be and then take a closer look at what it is trying to say. After viewing a recent performance, it is easy to discover what it is not and safe to assume it has no relevance whatsoever. It is not a comedy, drama, or a farce though it tries to be all. It is not invigorating, interesting, or intelligent and it is stuck in the pre-AIDS period of gay history replete with rampant promiscuity, unprotected sex, self loathing, and sexual identity crises. The characters are two dimensional stereotypes with no redeeming value and have no appeal. They are not likable, they are difficult to watch, and there is no reason why anyone would desire a relationship with any of them, which unfortunately is the premise of the play.

Some fellow audience members displayed signs of enjoyment and there were a few chuckles so there might be a target group attracted to the title, but do not be fooled: “NO HOMO” does not cast a very positive message for the LGBTQ community and desperately needs to address issues with more social consciousness.

NO HOMO

“NO HOMO” is presented by Be Flat Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Jessica Hanna.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, August 14, 2014

“No Provenance” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Kraine Theater (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“No Provenance” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Kraine Theater (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Written by Kate Holland and Caroline Prugh
Directed by Kate Holland
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Based loosely on the life of Parisian actress Josephine Mercier, “No Provenance” is a refreshing new play about the importance of where we come from - our unique “thread” - and honoring that time and place with unconditional and non-judgmental love. Narrated by Clotho, youngest of the three Greek Fates, the play relates the story of three sisters (all having the same father with three different mothers) who are summoned to their paternal great-grandmother’s apartment in Paris to come to agreement on how to divide her sizeable estate. If they fail to agree, the sisters will forfeit the estate entirely.

Orit (Stephanie Taylor), Marion (Sarah Eismann), and Ilana (Robyn Michele Frank) convene for this challenging task burdened with years of resentment toward one another, anger, denial, and bravado and their resulting disagreements almost cost them the contents of the estate.

Counterpointing their meeting in the present (2013) are flashbacks to 1926 through 1942 when great-grandmother Josephine Mercier (Libby Skala) lived in the apartment with her dresser and helpmate Suzanne Ducroix (Michelle Ramoni). Josephine leaves a substantial legacy of art and genteel accoutrement including the lost marble statue of Clotho by Camille Claudel. It is the beauty of this statue and its back story as narrated by Marcelle Ducroix (Renee Erikson) great-grandniece of Suzanne who serves as executor of the estate of Joseph Belitsa that enables the siblings to put their differences aside and decide to preserve the apartment and its contents – particularly “Clotho” – as a museum.

The talented ensemble cast, under the careful direction of co-writer Kate Holland, capably brings their characters to life. Although Carole Forman is an alluring Clotho, the playwrights (Kate Holland and Caroline Prugh) rely too heavily on her mythological character to guide the audience through their competent script. They can trust their work and its fascinating story to stand on their own.

NO PROVENANCE

“No Provenance” is presented by Vilde Chaya in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Kate Holland.

The cast of “No Provenance” includes Sarah Eismann, Renee Erikson, Robyn Michele Frank, Carole Forman, Michelle Ramoni, Libby Skala, and Stephanie Taylor.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, August 14, 2014

“The 8th Fold” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“The 8th Fold” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Music and Lyrics by Gianni Onori
Book by Gianni Onori and Ava Eldred
Directed by Gianni Onori
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

There is a little bit of theatre magic, which is not an illusion, but steeped in reality and boiling over with the conflicts of human nature, and is generated by the new musical “The 8th Fold” being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. This coming of age tale deals with love, loss, tragedy, identity, strength and purpose as it follows the journey of four unique young men hoping to discover the solution that will finally bring them peace and closure. As Elijah slowly captures the trust of each new acquaintance, they listen, they follow, they find themselves surrendering their stories and opening their hearts, as they join together to mourn their heroes, taunted by shadows of the past, conflicts of the present and ambivalence of the future. They form a bond, experience the love that might have escaped their grasp, allow the wounds of sorrow to heal, recognize fear and move forward ever so gallantly. The book by Gianni Onori and Ava Eldred is beautiful, boundless and inspiring. The music is soothing, haunting, and assertive and strikes emotional chords solitarily or when joined by the astute and perceptive lyrics which are both provided by Mr. Onori.

The cast turns in an admirable performance led by Micah Cowher in the formidable role of Elijah capturing the spirit of a savior, selfless and all knowing, providing strength and understanding. Kyle Schliefer finds all the necessary elements to create the acquiescent Kane, searching for love and identity and proving that only the meek shall inherit the earth. Matthew Brown as Russ, builds a bold, defiant, angry façade that is slowly chipped away to reveal his quest for acceptance and his need of approval in order to survive. Thaddeus Kolwicz shows the caregiver Calum as a believer, calm, sincere and like a dove exhibiting innocence, tenderness and a peaceful (Holy) spirit. They attack the daunting vocals with fervent effort, not an easy task when confronted with incessant singing in such a wide range, frequently relying on falsetto to accomplish the task. It is challenging; they sometimes succeed and at times falter but it really does not matter for they transcend the inconsistency with pure honest emotion that allows them soar into your heart, grab your soul and take it with them to a safe place.

The young actors ply their craft offering truths that have the potential to set the viewer free on his or her own journey of learning and love. Learning about the ceremonial folding of the American flag has the potential to calm the waters of the troubled soul and to offer redemption through sacrifice ultimately revealing only the bright stars in the background of the dark sky. This is the greatest gift from the “8th Fold” and its brilliant band of honorable young men.

Do yourself a favor: make a point of seeing one of the remaining performances and savor the moment.

THE 8TH FOLD

“The 8th Fold” is presented by Onoray Ltd. in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Gianni Onori. Musical Direction by Andy Collopy.

The cast of “The 8th Fold” includes Matthew Brown, Micah Cowher, Andy Dubick, Thaddeus Kolwicz, Glen, North, and Kyle Schliefer.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours and 5 minutes with one intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Wednesday, August 13, 2014

“Moses, The Author” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Players Theatre (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“Moses, The Author” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Players Theatre (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Written by Andrew R. Heinze
Directed by Amy Wright
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“You can’t launch new ideas on old thinking.” (Billboard message on the corner of Lafayette and Bleecker)

Andrew R. Heinze’s “Moses, The Author” is a new play currently running at Fringe NYC 2104 and is awarded Theatre Reviews Limited’s “Best Play of Opening Weekend” at Fringe NYC. This smart, funny, and provocative new comedy highlights the limitations of religious literature to adequately portray the essence of a people’s/nation’s faith. For all religions of “a book” (Judaism, Islam, Christianity), difficulty arises when the community, fearful of heresy and the death of reliable storytellers and mindful of the need for pedagogy, commits orally transmitted mythos to writing. The flexibility accepted in the oral tradition – as the needs of the community changed or new information required altered world views – became impossible to sustain: what was written was written and could not be changed. In fact, it became the word of the gods transmitted to humankind through special agents (priests, prophets, and kings) and infallible and incontrovertible. Moses (Mitch Tebo) was one of those special agents.

But according to the playwright, even Moses had difficulty writing down what his god shared in “waves of energy.” In this brilliant new play, Mr. Heinze portrays the iconic Moses as a fallible finite human being who is challenged by his family and his conscience to reconsider what he had written, reevaluate its provenance, and reimagine the possibility that future generations might need assistance in understanding the true meaning of his “five books.” In fact, he confesses to having to “settle for a book that is incomplete.”

We know very little about Moses’ sons Gershom and Eliezer except references in Rabbinic literature:
“Your sons sat and did not occupy themselves with Torah. Joshua, who served you, is fitting to serve Israel” (from Midrash Tanchuma, Pinchas 11). Mr. Heinze only includes Gershom (here Gershy) and portrays him as a gay young man quite happy spending time with his lover and painting. Hazen Cuyler is a brooding yet brash Gershy who challenges his father to examine his body of work from a new perspective:

GERSHY: “--Oh now you're making the argument from custom? I thought your whole project, Dad, was about stopping customs that are bad -- like human sacrifice – and inspiring people with new ideas, like All Men Are Made in the Image of God.”

It is this ongoing dialogue with Gershy, his wife Zippy (Judy Rosenblatt), his mother Yoheved (Janine Hegarty), and his amanuensis Thusie (Ramzi Khalaf) that makes Moses’ last day on earth a worthy testament to his body of work which he comes to realize, as Gershy reminds him, is from God, “but his words.” The engaging ensemble cast brings authenticity to the playwright’s script and enlivens the debate about infallibility with often phrenetic humor. Theologians have grappled with the role of women and the status of the LGBTQ community in scripture for centuries: “Moses, The Author” manages to put that quest into perspective with the affirmation Gershy teases out of his father in the play’s emotional climax: “We're all made in the image of God, Thusie.”

Mitch Tebo delivers a bravura performance as the aging Moses faced with mortality, banned from entering the Promised Land, and bereft of his beloved bromance with his Creator God.

Let the people say, Amen!”

MOSES, THE AUTHOR

“Moses, The Author” is presented by Who Knew! Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Amy Wright.

The cast of “Moses, The Author” includes Hazen Cuyler, Janine Hegarty, Ramzi Khalaf, Jusy Rosenblatt, and Mitch Tebo.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is one hour and forty minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, August 12, 2014

“Skyline” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)

“Skyline” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)
Book and Lyrics by Maureen FitzGerald
Music by Maureen FitzGerald and Taylor Williams
Directed by Jason Blitman
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Skyline” the new musical, which delves into the historical events surrounding the protests ignited by the demolition of the iconic Penn Station in 1963, is both heartfelt and interesting and is presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. It has all the elements of good old fashioned musical theatre and accentuates its appellation by producing a vivid view of the varying effects the decision to demolish Penn Station had on a multitude of New Yorkers and the City’s viable landscape. The book by Maureen FitzGerald provides a clear insight into the dilemma, never losing focus while also providing provocative romantic subplots that create interest and support the action. Although characters may appear stereotypical at times, it may be condoned since the musical is set mid century when these types might have even been considered progressive. The music by Taylor Williams and Ms. FitzGerald is standard Broadway but diverse and interesting, seasoned with strong solos and pleasant ensemble harmony.

The entire cast is seasoned and multi talented as they keep pace with the quick moving musical theatre plot providing well defined characters and well crafted vocals. Joseph Spieldenner turns in a passionate protester as Paul with leading man charisma and a strong baritone to support his crusade. Katie Lee Hill is determined as the career orientated Allison with an intellectual drive, confused by her emotionally romantic heart. Peter Gosik portrays a cynical Henry that finally redeems himself for the sake of love and displays his exceptional musicality in the song “Just Like You.”

There is certainly room for improvement here but even at this stage there is enough good material to entertain an audience for the intermission less hour and forty five minutes. It is filled with good performances, new music and a little bit of New York history; what more can you hope for as you partake in this annual New York Theatre Festival.

SKYLINE

“Skyline” is presented by The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Jason Blitman. Musical Direction by Taylor Williams.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is one hour and forty-five minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, August 12, 2014



“Held Momentarily” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Sheen Canter (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Oliver Houser
Additional Material by James Zebooker
Directed by Hunter Bird
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

There is a fresh new voice speaking to a new generation of American musical theatre with an interesting production entitled “Held Momentarily” being produced as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. Oliver Houser, creator of this new work, has assembled a group of diverse commuters in a subway car that has stopped mid tunnel due to technical difficulties and tests the power of the human condition. The book is utilitarian in providing enough plot and interest to keep the action moving at a steady pace and serves the actors well in discovering a definition of character. The music is complex, at times melodic, diverse, and for the most part produces a good marriage for the astute lyrics; but in certain respects it lacks the force and drive to infuse the situations that develop.

The entire cast is capable and digs deeply to unearth non stereotypical characters that create the kaleidoscope of everyday New Yorkers. Their vocal ability though inconsistent never falters below acceptable; however, it is difficult to single out performances with the lack of a song list in the program. All manage to delineate characters that are real and constantly develop as the plot progresses.

There are however a few problems that might be addressed when dissecting this incarnation in order to improve this promising new work. In the opening sequence, frivolous movement attempts to create the force and drive, inadvertently overpowering the sophisticated lyric and diminishing the music, which instead should be the catalyst. Back stories are always presented as an aside to educate the audience rather than revealed in conversation to develop relationships with other characters, creating a tighter weave in this colorful tapestry of humanity. With this modification the ending would become more powerful, emotional and better represent the quintessential rebirth of each character. Examine the symptoms of pain, loneliness, disappointment, fear and anxiety more carefully to find the cure. The homeless subway rider needs a song explanation as to how she ends up riding the subways with all her possessions in tow; she is a person not a representative object. Commit to trusting the material and curtail the Durang absurdity which switches on too quickly providing laughter but also confusion. It is a daunting task to create book, music and lyrics while also performing in the production. Hopefully when viewing the video some of this constructive criticism will appear valid.

In the mean time, try to catch one of the remaining performances of “Held Momentarily.” You will not be disappointed. The young Mr. Houser will in time become a recognizable voice in the musical theatre scene. This indeed is a welcome addition to the FringeNYC.

HELD MOMENTARILY

“Held Momentarily” is presented by Lionel A. Christian and Marielle Young in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Hunter Bird. Musical Direction by Jeremy Lyons. Choreographed by Katie Palmer.

The cast of “Held Momentarily” includes Jordan Barrow, India Carney, Elliot Greer, Oliver Houser, Andrea Nevil, Geena Quintos, Yael Rizowy, and James Zebooker.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is one hour with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 11, 2014

“Well Adjusted” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)

“Well Adjusted” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)
Written by Phil Horst
Directed by Marty Moore
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

After his two year (well, just over a year) breakup with ex-girlfriend Abby (Lora Lee Jones), Ben (Phil Horst) is still not well adjusted to the single life despite his protestations to the contrary. When he shows up in sweat pants and a white tee shirt at Kate’s (Sarah Elizabeth Edwards) apartment for a “bring your own wine” party, Kate knows he is not doing well. To make things worse, Ben’s friend Mark (Robert Rydland) decides Ben needs to move on and invites Ben’s ex to the party. This scenario is the delicious fodder for Phil Horst’s “Well Adjusted” currently running at the Sheen Center’s new Black Box Theatre as part of Fringe NYC 2014.

“Well Adjusted” is a fantastic farce waiting to happen. With pants on, pants off, shirt on, shirt off, door-slamming energy, this play should be very funny – and often it is. Despite his anger at Mark, Ben needs Mark’s clothes to wear so Abby will not think he is still pining for her. Despite Mark’s assumption, no one likes Abby who is indeed unlikable. Attempting to protect Ben from embarrassment, his friends construct a matrix of mistaken identities and gender-bending antics that drive a pleasing plot. Mr. Horst has endowed his characters with believability and the actors portray these characters with honesty and authenticity.

Director Marty Moore seems to shift her focus from the farcical underbelly of the play near the end of the first act and often allows the actors to settle into reverie and repose. When this happens, the energy on stage drops and the momentum of Mr. Horst’s script needs to re-discover its core of comedic power. Reminiscent of the best of 1990s sit-coms, “Well Adjusted” just needs some tweaking to keep the farce alive. Claire Chandler’s Beth, Kelsey Boggs’s Betsy and Deandra Irving’s Natasha reignite the second act and they conspire with the ensemble cast to recapture the audience’s interest and trust.

WELL ADJUSTED

“Well Adjusted” is presented by The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Marty Moore.

The cast of “Well Adjusted” includes Kelsey Boggs, Claire Chandler, Sarah Elizabeth Edwards, Phil Horst, Deandra Irving, Lora Lee Jones, and Robert Rydland.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is one hour and forty minutes with intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 11, 2014

“Generation ME: the Musical” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Sheen Center (Closes on Sunday August 17, 2014)

Photo by Colleen O'Donnell
“Generation ME: the Musical” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Sheen Center (Closes on Sunday August 17, 2014)
Book and Lyrics by Julie Soto
Music by Will Finan
Directed by Ryan Warren
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Generation ME” a new musical presented by Flying Monkey Productions as part of the NY International Fringe Festival might have been conceived with admirable intent but the result is less than what should be expected when dealing with such fragile subject matter. Unfamiliar with this west coast company, a note in the executive director Ryan Warren’s bio (also the director and contributing story writer) states the principles of the company create an environment where students and young adults can practice their art in a safe constructive space, and this should be commended. However the accolades stop there unless credit is given to an audience for enduring the insipid two hour and forty five minute performance plagued with faulty mikes and feedback eruptions.

The musical takes place in high school utopia, where there are absolutely no authoritative figures visible to enforce any type of consequence for disruptive behavior. No wonder this group of forlorn youth is in despair and thinks that a typical fist fight brawl in a school hallway is acceptable and a good way to release some pent up anger and energy. Or perhaps the absolutely ridiculously staged food fight at the end of the first act could supplement their need for indulgent activity, with the only consequence afforded is a twenty minute intermission to mop and clean the stage.

The music is unremarkable but could at least be heard, unlike most of the dialogue and lyrics which were lost either from poor projection or faulty mikes. The subject matter was more than valid but less than executed. It was put on exhibition for the audience to view, but there was no resolution. Not only were characters undeveloped they did not progress or grow from the situations they incurred. Everyone expresses grief at a memorial service but that does in no way constitute change or resolution. This production needs to dig a little deeper in order to nurture the “Me Generation.” This generation is certainly crying out for help and they need to be given hope, not just a reminder of who they are.

GENERATION ME: THE MUSICAL

“Generation ME: the Musical” is presented by Julie Soto, Will Finan, and Ryan Warren in Association with Flying Monkey Productions and The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Ryan Warren. Choreographed by Monika Joyce Neal. Production Photos by Colleen O’Donnell.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.
2 Comments - Read Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, August 11, 2014

“The Van Meder Trust” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Connelly Theater (Closes on Friday August 15, 2014)

“The Van Meder Trust” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Connelly Theater (Closes on Friday August 15, 2014)
Written by Beth Danesco
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Any play about personal identity is a welcomed addition to the contemporary body of new dramatic work. In addition to discovering who murdered his presumed father turned ghost, Hamlet needed to sort out who he was and who his real father was. Charlotte Van Meder (Alexandria Danielle King) is a suburban Boston high school student who, like Hamlet, is confused about her cultural, racial, and social identity: Charlotte has South African (Afrikaner) and African American roots and is the daughter of a dysfunctional drug-addicted mother and an emotionally absent father (Kevin Tobias Brown) who holds the keys to her substantial fortune. Playwright Beth Danesco attempts to focus on Charlotte’s dilemma in her new “The Van Meder Trust” currently running at the Connelly Theater as part of FringeNYC’s eighteenth season. Unfortunately, a variety of sub plots (mostly driven by dysfunctional characters with dysfunctional conflicts) drain the energy from the main story of Charlotte’s need to take charge of her own present and future, free herself from debilitating fear, and move forward in her process of self identity and self acceptance.

Ms. Danesco has created an extremely complicated bi-coastal, bi-continental story with more conflicts than necessary. At the opening performance on August 8, this complexity was exacerbated by actors who simply could not be heard. Essential exposition was missing for the audience. For example, someone’s father (or grandfather?) fathered children with two women who are in some fashion related to Charlotte. Obviously, clarity about Charlotte’s lineage is essential; however, that clarity never makes it past the proscenium.

What is clear is that Charlotte’s aunt Afton (Liz Adams) is the catalyst for her niece’s escape from fear and her concomitant journey to wholeness. Ms. Adams and Ms. King endow their characters with authenticity and deliver honest and transparent performances. The remainder of the ensemble cast performs adequately and each does his or her best to elucidate Ms. Danesco’s dense and sometimes elusive script. There is no mention of a director in the creative team and this absence could explain some of the problems exhibited in the performance.

Clear in addition is that “The Van Meder Trust” has a core of significance that deserves additional attention by the playwright and an expanded creative team.

THE VAN MEDER TRUST

“The Van Meder Trust” is presented by The All Stories Theater Company and The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director).

The August 8, 2014 cast of “The Van Meder Trust” includes Liz Adams, Jose Guns Alves, Kevin Tobias Brown, Kathy-Ann Hart, Sarah M. Jackson, Alexandria Danielle King, John Trent, Dayenne C. Byron Walters, and Alan R. White.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours with one five minute intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, August 10, 2014

“I Am Not I” at FringeNYC 2014 at Teatro SEA (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)

“I Am Not I” at FringeNYC 2014 at Teatro SEA (Closes on Friday August 22, 2014)
Written by Laura Abbot
Directed by Laura Abbott and Jordan Reiff
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“I Am Not I,” a new play being presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival at Teatro SEA, is about gender identity, righteous religious beliefs, dysfunctional families, heritage, ethnic customs, and overall idiosyncratic delusion. That is just one of the problems; the play has no focus and provides no resolution. It is a protracted two hours with a scattered script that does not fully flesh out characters but merely puts them in situations that somewhat move the plot along. When you throw in a dancer as a tempting alter ego it only creates an annoying sideshow that detracts from whatever the play might be about at that certain time. The cast tries in earnest to provide some substance and continuity but rarely succeeds in transcending the material. Robyn Unger is able to draw from within to create a real and conflicted Jane. Morgan Lavenstein provides a tough exterior for Dawn and in a turn cuts through her hard façade to find a sensitive and caring persona.

Perhaps the mounting of this world premiere will provide influential insight that will articulate the flaws and pitfalls of the script so “I Am Not I” might have further development. Dissection of this incarnation could provide enough fodder to develop several shorter one act plays around the important themes inherent in the script.

I AM NOT I

“I Am Not I” is presented by Maureen Keleher and Christopher Marsh in association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Laura Abbott and Jordan Reiff. Choreographed by Kendra Slack.

The cast of “I Am Not I” includes Claire Cuny (Dancer), Morgan Lavenstein, Sam Lowenstein (Guitar), Elise Rovinsky, Izzy Ruiz, and Robyn Unger.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is 2 hours with one ten minute intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, August 10, 2014

“AROUSAL”/”The Lover” at The Flea Theater (Closed on Saturday August 2, 2014)

Laura Lundy-Paine and Dan Fagan in "The Lover" - Photo by Luis A. Solarzano
“AROUSAL”/”The Lover” at The Flea Theater (Closed on Saturday August 2, 2014)
Written by George Pfirrmann/Harold Pinter
Directed by Chloe Bronzan
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

A felicitous pairing of George Pfirrmann’s “AROUSAL” and Harold Pinter’s “The Lover” recently closed at The Flea Theater in Manhattan. Both short plays deal with themes of loneliness, passion, motivation, and human need: each short play addresses these important themes in quite different ways.

Mr. Pfirrmann’s “AROUSAL” pairs two star-crossed lovers: Albena (Laura Lundy-Paine) a committed scrabble-playing sex worker from the Ukraine and Clifford (Dan Fagan) a lonely twenty-something with Asperger’s Syndrome. Clifford has been unable to connect well with other people because of his disorder and, until her death, spent his entire life inside with his mother. Clifford is computer savvy and, deciding he needs to restart his life, searches Craig’s List for companionship and discovers that Albena has an ad offering to be “a special friend.” Clifford meets Albena in her apartment and when he discovers she is a sex worker he begins to discover the work he needs to do: Clifford needs to rediscover how to relate to another human being without fear and anxiety. Despite Albena’s efforts to remain professional (“No kissing!”) and Clifford’s superego (“My mother told me that …”) the two manage to break down barriers of pity and pain and find in each other redemption and release – at least with each other and only one moment at a time. Ms. Lundy-Paine is exceptional in the role of Albena: she captures the broken soul of a woman trying to escape from a difficult past and gives her character a high-octane dose of realism and honesty. And Mr. Fagan delivers his character Clifford with a sympathetic yet tortured authenticity: his Clifford is a young man desperate to touch and be touched in so many significant ways.

Chloe Bronzan’s fluid direction – although serving the actors well in “AROUSAL” – leaves them sometimes aimless in Harold Pinter’s “The Lover.” Pinter’s work often requires exacting and specific direction and without that “frame” the resulting portraits can seem unfinished. In “The Lover,” a well-to-do English couple sorts out their own matrices of loneliness, passion, motivation, and need. Sarah (Laura Lundy-Paine) ostensibly has – with her husband’s consent – an afternoon lover who visits while husband Richard (Dan Fagan) toils at work. And Richard ostensibly has – with his wife’s consent – regular trysts with a sex worker. Ms. Lundy-Paine and Mr. Fagan handle Pinter’s cat-and-mouse play with sometimes too tender mittens: more sparks need to fly between these two as they explore ways to deal with their ennui and sexual dissatisfaction. Director Bronzan seems to miss the opportunity the tam-tam drum offers the actors: both should be tapping the drum at the same time using it as a trope for the intriguing game they are playing. The director also allows the actors to deliver their lines at the same cadence throughout which is disappointing because the rhythms of the conversation are important to the relationship ruse the audience eventually solves. Still Harold Pinter’s script triumphs and supports every effort the actors make to bring it to life.

One wonders why Virago decided not to pair “The Lover” with its usual “mate” Harold Pinter’s “The Collection.” Despite that query, this current pairing is more than satisfactory and seems to have stood the test of time.

AROUSAL/THE LOVER

“AROUSAL”/”The Lover” is presented by Virago Theatre Company at The Flea Theater. Directed by Chloe Bronzan.

The cast of “AROUSAL”/”The Lover” includes Dan Fagan, Laura Lundy-Paine, and Michael Vega. The creative team includes Robert Lundy-Paine (Set Design); Sophie Spinelle (Costume Design); Brandon Stock (Lighting Design/Technical Design), Nikki Eggert (Sound Design); and Gary Quinn (Production Stage Manager). The publicist is Scotti Rhodes Publicity. Production photos by Luis A. Solarzano.

For more information about the Virago Theatre Company visit www.viragotheatre.com.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, August 05, 2014

“Eddie” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at The Dorothy Streslin Theatre (Closes Sunday August 3, 2014)

“Eddie” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at The Dorothy Streslin Theatre (Closes Sunday August 3, 2014)
Written by Matthew Ethan Davis
Directed by Brian Catton
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

Greg (Jacob Banser) is an insecure teenager with problems at home and under a lot of stress in school. His hearing loss requires him to read lips in class – when possible – and when the noise level is high, he cannot hear the teacher’s instruction or questions. Greg joins a gang to deal with his issues. In Matthew Ethan Davis’s “Eddie,” currently running at the Midtown International Theatre festival, Greg bullies schoolmate Eddie (Yair Ben-Dor) who lives with similar issues: Eddie has serious hearing loss and lives with an addicted mother April (Nina Salza) who is also a sex-worker and a poor judge of character. Her relationship with James (Jay Rivera) often puts Eddie in compromising situations.

Counselor Kyle (Steve Carrieri) attempts to help Eddie cope with his codependent issues and perhaps transfer schools; however, Eddie is often not cooperative and fearful of trusting anyone. Eventually, Greg stops bullying Eddie and desperately seeks to befriend Eddie, confessing to him his own hearing loss and matrix of stress-related problems. In fact, Greg is in love with Eddie and wants nothing more than to run away and start a new life with him. This is the tender love story of two apparently very different young men. Mr. Ben-Dor and Mr. Banser are to be commended for their fine craft as actors: they bring authenticity and believability to their characters. Unfortunately, Mr. Davis’s script gives them little to work with.

With two characters so needing to “hear” the chords of love across empty spaces and with two talented actors portraying these characters, it is remarkable that experienced playwright Matthew Ethan Davis was not able to write a compelling story about their discovery of one another’s deep affection for each other despite their backgrounds of loneliness and abuse. Mr. Davis has constructed a needlessly complex script that is overwrought and overlong and includes extraneous (and distracting) characters and scenes that do nothing to advance the plot and serves only to prolong Eddie’s and Greg’s angst-filled need to belong and be loved. One wonders why the character of Linda is needed. Madison McGhee deserves credit for even trying to infuse believability into a distracting and extraneous character.

Although director Brian Catton’s frenetic direction moves the characters on an off the stage in what seems like an endless series of blackouts, two of those characters – Eddie and Greg – make magic when they have the opportunity to stand together and just discover they do not have to be “bosses of each other’s heads:” all they need to do is be themselves.

EDDIE

“Eddie” is presented by Ticket 2 Eternity Productions/7 Guild Productions in association with The Midtown International Theatre Festival. Director: Brian Catton. The creative team includes: Liz So (Lighting Design), Andy Cohen (Sound Design), and Jacqueline Filer (Stage Manager). Press Representative: Bunch of People Press and Publicity.

The cast includes Jacob Banser , Yair Ben-Dor , Steve Carrieri, Madison McGhee, Jay Rivera, and Nina Salza.

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF)'s fifeenth season will include a slate of full-length plays and musicals, as well as Cabaret MITF. The Festival will run from July 14th to August 10th 2014, at the June Havoc Theatre and the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (1st floor), the Jewel Box Theater (4th floor), and the TBG Theatre (Main Stage) all located at 312 West 36th Street, NYC. Tickets are $20.00 and are available at www.midtownfestival.org or by phone at (866) 811-4111.

“Eddie” continues its run at The Dorothy Streslin Theatre (see above) on Wednesday July 30th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday August 3rd at 2:30 p.m. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, July 29, 2014

“Cover” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at The Dorothy Streslin Theatre (Closes Tuesday July 29, 2014)

“Cover” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at The Dorothy Streslin Theatre (Closes Tuesday July 29, 2014)
Written by Bill McMahon
Directed by Paul J. Michael
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

David and Zan, a young Westchester married couple and Peter and Beth, a married couple in their late 40s collide in a fragile foursome in Bill McMahon’s new “Cover” currently running in NYC at part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. What happens in this refreshing play might not “make sense” to any of the four characters; however, they each come to understand they “are in the middle of something” important – and that something has everything to do with love and becoming honest with themselves and their true identity and status.

All four characters are living under cover to some degree and it is in the careful maintenance of those covers that each preserves a center and each experiences a defining moment that jeopardizes their zones of safety and comfort. David (Max Rhyser) finds safety in Peter (Tony Travostino) the older man who serves as a healthy ersatz father (his own father was abusive and distant) and a fulfilling partner in love and sex. Their relationship provides cover for his disappointing and unfulfilled relationship with his "wound-as-tight-as-a-mummy" wife Zan (whose only surcease is a daily dose of Xanax and other prescription psychotropic drugs.

Peter’s cover is his strong professional exterior that shelters him from his fears of getting older and his disdain for his wife Beth. Beth’s (Karin de la Penha) cover is her successful career in acquisitions and divestments, a juicy trope for the way Beth deals with professional and relationship “clients” including her husband and sons. Zan’s (Olivia Mell) cover is her co-dependent behavior and her need to be cared for.

Bill McMahon’s script is disarmingly complex. The relatively accessible story of boy meets man, man leaves wife, and boy struggles with leaving girl is the softer side of the plot with an underbelly barnacled with intrigue, years of layered fear and disappointment, and a ground-breaking glimpse into the real meaning of falling in love. When they first meet at the train station, David and Peter have no idea what missing the 4:55 can unleash.

When they ask one another, “What if neither of us is what we thought we were,” they understand that “they will work it out.” Their relationship is a complicated and rich process and under Paul J. Michael’s careful and sensitive direction, David and Peter do attempt to understand their identities, sexual and ideological. After David realizes they have blown their cover and both Beth and Zan know of their affair, Peter wants David to live with him and announces he “would die for him.”

This is not a love story but a story about love. Who we love, why we love, how we love, when we love and the puzzling consequences love can inflict on the participants. The story is non-judgmental, places no stereotypical labels, holds no accusations, and realizes that authentic love might be involuntary and unintentional. One conclusion that is clear that when you acquiesce to love, everything will change and nothing can ever be the same.

Max Rhyser shows a precise, honest, assiduous David, who is young, confused and might just be in love with love. Tony Travostino creates a cautious, wounded, vulnerable Peter who is fully capable of battle when necessary and surrender when inherent. Karin de la Penha is ice cold as Beth but is so competent of melting away her frigid exterior with subtle warmth from within when needed. Olivia Mell is broken, delusional and paranoid as Zan but is quick to beguile to conquer her needs. These four actors are solely remarkable and as an ensemble they are fierce force that ignites the stage. Prepare to hear more about “Cover” in the not-so-distant future.

COVER

“Cover” is presented by Jim Kierstead in association with The Midtown International Theatre Festival. Director: Paul Michael. The creative team includes: Daniel Geggatt (Set Design), Alex deNevers (Lighting Design), LeeKinney (Sound Design), Andrew Medlin (Costume Design), and Sofia Montgomery (Production Stage Manager). Press Representative: Bunch of People Press and Publicity.

The cast includes Karin de la Penha, Olivia Mell, Max Rhyser, and Tony Travostino.

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF)'s fifteenth season will include a slate of full-length plays and musicals, as well as Cabaret MITF. The Festival will run from July 14th to August 10th 2014, at the June Havoc Theatre and the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (1st floor), the Jewel Box Theater (4th floor), and the TBG Theatre (Main Stage) all located at 312 West 36th Street, NYC. Tickets are $18.00 to $20.00 and are available at www.midtownfestival.org or by phone at (866) 811-4111.

“Cover” continues its run at The Dorothy Streslin Theatre (see above) on Tuesday July 29th at 6:00 p.m. This final performance is sold out. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, July 29, 2014

“Fable” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)

“Fable” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)
Music and Lyrics by Christopher Anselmo
Book by H. S. Kaufman
Directed and Choreographed by Jen Wineman
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

All John (Dan Rosales) wants is to celebrate his 2014 high school graduation with close friends Chelsea (Gerianne Perez) and her brother Tucker (Alex Walton) and bound-for-Princeton Emmy (Marisa O’Donnell). Reading his post-graduation speech is all that is really on John’s agenda. Somehow college lacrosse star Richie (Michael Luwoye) is invited and interloper Amelia (Madison Micucci) breaks in through window and screen to add to the growing matrix of post-graduation melancholy. What begins as a simple celebration develops into group therapy spiced with an abundance of alcohol.

All this partying occurs in John’s parents’ New England suburban twentieth century colonial in the present. Unfortunately, the characters seem to have been transported from some earlier decade: they seem to lack the sophistication and weltanschauung of twenty-first century late teens. A necessary sense of worldliness is lacking in their characterizations and their conflicts – although identifiable – seem relatively simplistic. All they want is love and acceptance but appear not to have worked diligently to achieve those goals.

The book by H.S. Kaufman captures a bit of everything and too much of nothing, while exploring the thoughts and activities of six young adults at a graduation party, making it difficult to establish a cohesive structure. Characters rotate waiting to sing a song and tell their story. There is no form or arc so it tends to be flat and uninspired. The music however is inspired, although sometimes repetitious, and has a complicated rock feel, that should but fails to infuse the cast with the kinetic energy this piece needs. Part of this problem may be the direction and choreography by Jen Wineman. The lyrics are hit or miss, sometimes spot on for character delineation, but at other times miss the mark leaving cast members who are listening unsure and confused.

The cast is energetic and in fine vocal form. Characters unfortunately appear one dimensional, controlled by external circumstances rather than inner emotion, which may be induced by script and direction. The actors are young, talented and know their craft, but cannot transcend the inconsistent material.

Humankind – old and young alike – live by the mysteries of mythos and fable and cling to those constructs to order their lives and – clinging to their truth or falsehood – manage to separate and individuate and enter adulthood. “Fable” gives us a group of teens who seem to know what they want but do not quite know how to “get there.” This new musical is in its early stages of development and has the potential, with some judicious work, to serve as an authentic trope for the search for identity, love, and acceptance.

FABLE

“Fable” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival, Christopher Mirto, and Reed Ridgley. Jen Wineman is the director and choreographer. H. S. Kaufman has authored the Book. Christopher Anselmo has composed the Music and penned the Lyrics. Karen Dryer is the Musical Director. Orchestrations are by Asher Denburg. Scenery is by Deb O. Costumes are by Elizabeth Barrett Groth. Lighting is by Alan C. Edwards. Sound is by Jessica Paz. Judy Jacksina Company is the Press Representative.

The cast includes: Dan Rosales is John. Michael Luwoye is Richie. Alex Walton is Tucker. Gerianne Perkins is Chelsea. Marissa O’Donnell is Emmy. Madison Micucci is Amelia.

The band inckudes: Guitar – Jeff Barone. Bass – Don Lieber. Violin/Viola – Edward W. Hardy. Drums – RJ Raybin.

“Fable” continues performances on Sunday July 27th at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25. For tickets, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935947. Runtime: 90 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, July 27, 2014

“Mr. Confidential” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)

“Mr. Confidential” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)
Book and Lyrics by Samuel Bernstein
Music by David Snyder
Directed and Choreographed by Stephen Nachamie
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Mr. Confidential” is the new musical currently running as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. With an outstanding book, lyrics that complement and successfully expand the scope of the book, and music pleasing to the ear and heart, this is a big brassy musical with a Broadway beat begging for attention. With a cast headed up by Kevin Spirtas, “Mr. Confidential” tackles the meteoric rise and softer fall of Robert Harrison the 1950s iconic journalistic purveyor of scandal, gossip, and the art of the expose.

American success stories have always chronicled those who win and those who get scarified in the process of “climbing the ladder.” Bob Harrison achieves success with “Confidential” by betraying confidences and outing members of Hollywood’s LGBT community. In one July issue of the magazine, under a photo of Liberace the tease line reads “Why Liberace’s theme song should be, ‘Mad About the Boy.’” Some objects of Harrison’s scathing attacks did not care; others could have been blacklisted and lost their Hollywood appeal.

It is at this point that “Mr. Confidential” the musical becomes most accessible to the audience. Few audience members have not climbed over fallen friends, family, and acquaintances to “make it to the top” of their game. There is a Bob Harrison deep in the heart of each of us. Mr. Harrison believed the magazine was successful because it was liberating for readers and icons; others thought “Confidential” was successful because readers delighted in seeing successful and prominent personages brought down to earth.

Stephen Nachamie’s clear-cut Broadway choreography and exacting direction serve the talented ensemble cast well. Kevin Spirtas (Bob Harrison), Amy Bodnar (Jeannie Douglas), Erin Leigh Peck (Marjorie Meade), and Paul Michael Valley (Howard Rushmore) anchor a superb cast of thirteen. Mr. Spirtas captures Bob Harrison’s character with the wink of an eye or the quick turn of the head and dazzles in the “Chicago” style “Bobby Is Back” where the chorus of fan dancers dons copies of “Confidential.” Amy Bodnar’s Jeannie is as deep as she is shallow and delivers “The Girl with the Yellow Hair” with show-stopping perfection. Erin Leigh Peck captures the soul of Bob’s niece Marjorie who leaves her husband Fred (Joshua Dixon) to head up the magazine’s west coast shenanigans. Her “Girl Next Door” is both a mantra of liberation and – reprised – an anthem of despair and defeat.

“Mr. Confidential” is still in its early stage of development. Most songs have clear placement and serve the plot well; others need editing or cutting. And most of the musical’s scenes handily drive the plot forward. A few, like the trial scene, need to be shortened and perhaps reimagined. Without such prudent pruning, the closing scenes in the second act might spin out of control. There is no need to bring every character onto the stage to resolve her or his particular conflict. To do so weakens the powerful ending.

Don’t breathe a word, but just between you and me, in strict confidence, with some judicious redaction, “Mr. Confidential’s” foray into the sustained prevalence and resilience of gossip and innuendo could easily find its way onto the Broadway stage. Remember, you didn’t hear it from me.

MR. CONFIDENTIAL

“Mr. Confidential” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Ronald Shore and Babyhead Productions. Director and Choreographer: Stephen Nachamie.

The cast for “Mr. Confidential” includes: Jane Blass, Amy Bodnar, Joshua Dixon, Badia Farha, Jamnes Larosa, Michael Marotta, Rachel Lee Norman, Erin Leigh Peck, Elyssa Samsel, Kevin Spirtas, Paul Michael Valley, and Alena Watters. The orchestra includes Kevin Cole (Conductor), Jack Morer (Guitarist), Gregory Landes (Drummer), Ben Ruben-Schnirman (Bass Player), and Brandon Sturiale (Keybaord 2).

The production team is comprised of: Vanessa Leuck (Costume Design), Alan C. Edwards (Set Design), Pete Bragg (Lighting Design), Matt Kraus (Sound Design), Kevin Cole (Music Director), Delores Duran-Cefalu (music supervisor) and Aislinn Curry (production stage manager).Casting by Cindy Rush Casting. Press Representative: The Publicity Office (Jeremy Shaffer).

“Mr. Confidential” continues performances on Sunday July 27th at 5:00 p.m. at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25. For tickets, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935942. Runtime: 2 hours plus one intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, July 27, 2014

“Madame Infamy” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)

“Madame Infamy” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)
Book by JP Vigliotti
Music and Lyrics by Cardozie Jones & Sean Willis
Directed by Carlos Armesto
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Madame Infamy,” a new musical being presented at the Alice Griffin Theatre as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, is an undertaking of epic proportion. The attempt to capture the lives of two important historical women namely Marie Antoinette and Sally Hemings in parallel, with Madame Tussaud as their liaison and storyteller, complete with singing narrative, is certainly no easy task. This production certainly has the feel of mega musical partly due to the sometimes sweeping, soaring melodies and intricate orchestrations of composers Cardozie Jones and Sean Willis; however the musical sometimes falters when those orchestrations are entwined in the book and lyrics. Too much effort is spent depicting these figures as idealistic humanitarians, (which is actually debatable) who were martyrs and saviors for their cause. The all evident immorality of both these women is tainted with saccharin and they are portrayed as courageous, compassionate leaders, complimented by frivolous lyrics and all too fortuitous scenes. This seems incongruous when being graced with the incredible music and lyrics of “I Dreamed” delivered by Justin Johnston with heartfelt integrity and strong but vulnerable vocal interpretation. Direction by Carlos Armesto is adequate but too lighthearted and at times distracting.

Once again, as is found throughout the festival, there is an amazing cast that is well prepared and up for the challenge. Rachel Stern uses her enormous vocal to narrate and portray Madame Tussaud with wise and perceptive comment. Bashirrah Creswell does her best to overcome the pitfall of a happy slave, as she inhabits the soul of Sally Hemings with genuine emotion delivering a clear sharp vocal tone. Briana Carlson-Goodman as Marie Antoinette tries to peel away the comical façade afforded her, to reach a darker characterization, and sometimes succeeds, but always delivers a strong voice that emanates determination. Kevin Massey gives credibility to Thomas Jefferson, never infecting the character with obligatory kindness, excessive emotion or melancholy moods and conducts his vocals with strength and power. The remaining cast is superb in every aspect of their support and in part make the production as grand as could be in the intimate space. The band is exceptional exhibiting a clear translation of every emotional chord supporting the spirit of the production.

There are awkward scene transitions in the dialogue and in the score that need to be addressed. The first act finale is weak, falling flat when entertaining the thought of a grand ball at Versailles. Perhaps a bit more attention to the depth of the main characters is in order along with the torment, struggle, morality and emotional stress that they endure which truly makes their mark in history. This certainly is an earnest attempt of a major piece of musical theater and hopefully only the first step. This is where the work begins. If you get the chance, do not be shy and take a look - you may be pleasantly surprised.

MADAME INFAMY

“Madame Infamy” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival. Directed by Carlos Armesto and Choreographed by Elisabetta Spuria.

The cast for “Madame Infamy” includes: Briana Carlson-Goodman, Bashirrah Creswell, Justin Johnston, Kevin Massey, Q Smith, Rachel Stern, Jelani Alladin, Elijah Caldwell, Jessica Dyer, Samille Ganges, Jake Levitt, Crystal Sha’nae, Katie McMillen, Joshua Silver Hughes, Xalvador Tin-Bradbury and Bronwyn Whittle. The orchestra includes Music Director, Keith Robinson; Associate Music Director and Keys, Matthew Russell; Guitar, Micah Burgess; Violin, Chiara Fasi; Cello, Eleanor Norton; Bass, Mark Ziegler; Drums, Casual-T.

The production team is comprised of: Shane Ballard (Costume Design), Damon Wiggins (Set Design), Jake Degroot (Lighting Design), Keith Robinson (Sound Design), Amy Baer and Keith Robinson (orchestrations and arrangements) and Paris D. Rhoad(production stage manager).Casting by Mungioli Theatricals. Press Representative: Theatre Beyond Broadway (Malini Singh McDonald).

“Madame Infamyl” continues performances on Sunday July 27th at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25. For tickets, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935941. Runtime: 2 hours plus one intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, July 27, 2014

“The Travels” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre (Closed on Saturday July 26, 2014)

“The Travels” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre (Closed on Saturday July 26, 2014)
Music by Kelly Hoppenjans
Lyrics by Aaron Ricciardi
Directed by Travis Greisler
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Meet the Travels: Mr. Travel (J. Anthony Crane) ostensibly travels the globe with sidekick (and lover) Warren (Matthew Patrick Quinn) televising his adventures back to the United States. His broadcasts confirm that the USA is the best of the best and all other locations on the globe are the worst of the worst. France, for example, is terrible because of its bidets. Mrs. Travel (Luba Mason) is the June Cleaver-like stay-at-home mom who does her best to do what is right (rightness) and avoid what is wrong (wrongness) – the mantra of this futuristic Orwellian country (overseen by Mr. Ruler) that is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. Teeny Travel rounds out the Travels clan and just cannot seem to behave as her parents would hope. She has so many demerits (items of support) that she would be located to the Mill was she not one of the Travels. This is satire at its best.

“The Travels” – an epic play with songs – is currently running as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival and is an interesting trope (here an extended metaphor) for the loss and recovery of personal freedom. The Travels inhabit a futuristic America where hypocrisy has supplanted honesty, where indifference has conquered unconditional love, and where wrong and right have landed wrong side up. This is a world where even Consuela (Michelle Rios) wife of the President of Ecuador and her son Pinto (Jose Ramos) are no more than foreigners who may not speak their own language and are fit for either working at nail salons or being domestics in the homes of the 1%.

Under Travis Greisler’s tight direction, the ensemble cast excels at character development and making their characters believable enough to care about or relegate to the Mill. In addition to those mentioned, Jamie Bogyo is a delightful Adonis Perfect who buys into the sham of the Travels and is willing to betray anyone to maintain his inner order. And Leslie Alexander shines as Mrs. More the teacher who has only five children’s books to encourage deep thinking in her students.

The music and lyrics are pleasant and the songs move the plot forward with ease. One song, perhaps entitled “Little Lemmings” (no song list was provided), makes an unfortunate and cheap reference to the death of Natalie Wood and might be re-worked. This type of low-brow lyric is unnecessary in a product as sophisticated at “The Travels.”

Ultimately, at the hands of Pinto who notices Mr. Travel seems to be recording his world-wide travels on a nearby sound stage (“Why does Mr. Travel have two shadows?”), a revolution is mounted by Teeny Travel who “is mad as hell and can’t take it anymore.” Her declaration of revolution speech quotes not just Peter Finch in “Network” but a fusillade of quotes from all the movies she has been secretly watching. This is an epic tale where the women take the lead with heroic aplomb.

The premise of “The Travels” is refreshing, original, and solid; however, some of the execution of this delightful premise and some of the staging needs refinement and clarification. Some of the cast sit on the sidelines for long periods of time – perhaps there is a way to integrate them into scenes as “non-present” observers. “The Travels” is definitely worth the look now and, hopefully, in the future.

THE TRAVELS

“The Travels” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Cohen Theatrical. Director: Travis Greisler; Musical Director: Assaf Gleizner; Scenic Design: Christopher Heilman; Costume Design: Mira Veikley; Lighting Design: KJ Hardy; Sound Design: John Emmet O’Brien; Production Stage Manager: Joshua Quinn; Press Representative: Joe Trentacosta/Spinger Associates).

The cast features Leslie Alexander, James Bogyo, J. Anthony Crane, Holland Mariah Grossman, Luba Mason, Matthew Patrick Quinn, Jose Ramos, and Michelle Rios . The band includes Assaf Gleizner (Conductor/Keyboards); Dan Glaude (Acoustic and electric Guitar); Ray Sullivan (Electric Bass); and Sam Wagner (Drums).

“The Travels” concluded performances on Saturday July 26th at 5:00 p.m. at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25. For tickets, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935950. Runtime: 90 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, July 26, 2014

“As We Lie Still” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)

“As We Lie Still” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)
Book by Olivia de Guzman Emile
Music and Lyrics by Patrick Emile
Directed by Michael Serrecchia
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“As We Lie Still” a new production being presented by NYMF at the PTC Performance Space attempts the difficult task of creating a musical drama, but falls a little short. One of the foremost problems is the lack of comic relief in an intermission-less ninety minute, heavy handed exploration of a controversial subject matter. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the dramatically dark lighting which is neither mysterious nor ethereal. The characters are too serious almost brooding and are weighted down by the somber music that sometimes lacks melody and rhythm. The book has promise but becomes lost in the overall tone, never achieving an uplifting spirit. Olivia de Guzman Emile who penned the script, comes closest to defining her character of Josephine. Michael A. Robinson finds compassion in Old Avi and fervently acts as liaison between past and present. It appeared difficult for the rest of the cast to provide any emotional content in their characters, existing in a vacuum and not connecting. There is more to this story and to the characters that needs to be told in order for the drama to cast a spell over the audience. Although the music is original and has a flavor of the period it needs to be a bit more varied and possibly even succumb to a touch of standard Broadway fare. The contrived staging is repetitious and awkward and sometimes performed with no intent and the direction manages to create attractive vignettes but lacks in substance. Hopefully this production has given the creative team the opportunity to examine their work and make revisions which might improve upon the present incarnation.

AS WE LIE STILL

As We Lie Still is an Official Selection of the 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival and is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival along with Olivia de Guzman Emile and Patrick Emile. Director: Michael Serrecchia; Music Director: Rachel Olsen; Lighting Design: Sarah Abigail Hoke-Brady; Costume Design: Michael Robinson; Set Design: Michael Robinson; Sound Design: Patrick Emile; Stage Manager: Sarah Duc; Publicist: Paul Siebold/Off Off PR. Production photos by Steve Rosen.

The cast includes Olivia de Guzman Emile, George Michael Ferrie Jr., Clinton Greenspan, Erika Larsen, Michael A. Robinson, and Travis Stuebing.

“As We Lie Still” continues performances on Sunday July 27th at 5:00 p.m. at The PTC Performance Space, 455 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25.00. For tickets, further information about the show and about the New York Musical Theatre Festival, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935242. Running time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, July 26, 2014

“Propaganda! The Musical” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)

Beth Cheryl Tarnow and Dale Sampson - Photo by Russ Rowland
“Propaganda! The Musical” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closes on Sunday July 27, 2014)
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Taylor Ferrera and Mat Webster
Directed by Nathan Brewer
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Propaganda the Musical” hits some high notes making it an enjoyable new piece of musical theater at the PTC Performance Space and being presented by NYMF. Taylor Ferrera and Matt Webster use all the right ingredients to serve up a delightful parody of musical theater, executed by a cast that has boundless energy and extreme talent. The book is clever and direct with the skill of efficient storytelling but it delivers nothing new to whet an audience’s appetite for exciting creative theater. The cartoon characters are brought to life with just enough silly to entertain, never losing a grasp on reality and without falling into offensive stereotypes. The music is standard pop with some memorable melodies and provides enough rhythm to galvanize choreographer Jason Sparks to create lively production numbers, but once again nothing fresh. The lyrics are simple, sharp although sometimes wordy with unwarranted rhymes and seem to serve the melodies. Avid musical theater goers have an advantage since it is full of inside jokes, shades and shadows of past mega hits and a complete parody of itself.

Dale Sampson does well defining the naïve and aloof character Rookie, almost always hitting his mark in an exhaustive, vocally demanding role. Kenita R. Miller tears up the stage with her comic timing and powerful voice as she conjures up every ounce of evil in Agent X. Beth Cheryl Tarnow manages to win your heart as the forlorn Tary harnessing all of her seductive energy to get her man and delivering a terrific vocal in “Love Him to Death.” One could never prepare themselves for the appearance of the Fierce Ass Girls (living up to their acronym), in an over top performance by Shaun Repetto, Nick Mason and Benjiman Dallas Redding. Kenny Morris as both Grandpa and Harry turns in a solid and steady character. Marc Cornes, Maryjoanna Grisso and Jillian Wallach do a fine job rounding out the ensemble.

This is an earnest attempt but limited in scope and style with a specific appeal. Ms. Ferrera and Mr. Webster have a keen eye and ear and will hopefully have a bright future as they continue to grow. The stumbling blocks which appear in this production only reinforce the need for a broader spectrum and refinement. Catch a performance if you can, it will provide two hours of harmless entertainment and a few good laughs if nothing more.

PROPAGANDA! THE MUSICAL

“Propaganda! The Musical” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival in association with Taylor Ferrera and Matt Webster. Director: Nathan Brewer; Musical Director: Andre Cerullo; Choreographer: Jason Sparks; Set Designer: Ryan Howell; Lighting Designer: Ethan Steimel; Costume Designer: Sky Switser; Stage Manager: Katie Kavett; General Manager: Form Theatricals (Anthony Francavilla & Zachary Laks); Public Relations: Paul Siebold/Off Off PR. Production photos by Russ Rowland.

The cast includes Marc Cornes, MaryJoanna Grisso, Nick Mason, Kenita Miller, Kenny Morris, Benjiman Dallas Redding, Shaun Repito, Dale Sampson, Beth Cheryl Tarnow, and Jillian Wallach.

The band includes Andre Cerullo (Conductor/Piano), Kris Rogers (Bass), and Dominic Lynch (Drums).

“Propaganda! The Musical” continues performances on Saturday July 26th at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday July 27th at 12:00 p.m. at The PTC Performance Space, 455 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25.00. For tickets, further information about the show and about the New York Musical Theatre Festival, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935747. Running time is 2 hours including one intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, July 26, 2014

“Clinton” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closed on Saturday July 26, 2014)

“Clinton” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closed on Saturday July 26, 2014)
Book by Michael Hodge and Paul Hodge
Music and Lyrics by Paul Hodge
Directed by Adam Arian
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

The smarmy, insipid, and infantile “Clinton” has crawled west from the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe to have a run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. This boring musical about the presidency of Bill Clinton (or might it be about something else – matters not) depends on puerile sight gags, profanity, and a pernicious book by the Hodges. The musical has no purpose, no redeeming quality, and - one would wish – no future.

This critic had the courage to walk out after thirty-five excruciating minutes – just after an actor embarrassed himself performing a song about Kenneth Starr. The team behind this mess of a musical decided to draw on every stereotype ever heaped upon a gay male to characterize Mr. Starr. Why, one asks? Well, hold on, those Hodges have the two male Clintons (yes, there is a Billy and a WJ) ask following the actor’s bump-and-grind number in sheer shorts and “leather” adornment, “Now why did we decide to have Kenneth Starr be gay in this show.” Their answer was my impetus to flee to safety: “Because he’s going to (expletive deleted) us!”

The patron next to me dropped her head and emitted a pained groan. I left – quickly. What happened thereafter – as good as it might have been – could not excuse or redeem the use of the vile and unnecessary homophobic slur.

No mention will be made of the actors trapped in this hapless endeavor. This mess was spawned by Michael Hodge and Paul Hodge and they and director Adam Arian bear the responsibility for the creative blunder called “Clinton.” Obviously there is no need to see this musical now or ever.

CLINTON

“Clinton” completed its run at NYMF on Saturday July 26th at 5:00 p.m. at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. For further information about the show and about the New York Musical Theatre Festival, visit nymf.org.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, July 25, 2014

“Me and Caesar Lee” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at TBG Theatre (Closes Friday August 8, 2014)

“Me and Caesar Lee” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at TBG Theatre (Closes Friday August 8, 2014)
Music, Lyrics, and Book by Pat Holley
Directed by Jonathan Warman
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

There is an interesting new work being presented at TBG Theatre as part of MITF entitled “Me and Caesar Lee” that has the potential to develop into a successful little musical. Tackling the conflict between old and new music genres that were erupting in the eighties and discovering self worth and aspiration seem to be the focus of the story. The music, lyrics and book by Pat Holley conjure up some memorable moments but sometimes struggle with distraction leading the musical astray down paths of subplot dead ends. Eliminating some musical numbers that do not move the plot forward, shorter versions of the longer songs and changing tempos might afford the effort to create better flow and structure. The book is informative but needs improvement in areas of character support and scene development. The music is solid and varied with Broadway pop, sultry jazz and soft rap (rhythm talk) which employs a slower tempo and perfect diction adding an interesting storytelling element. “Could It Be Love” should become a standard on the jazz circuit and “I Know the Passion” an R&B classic. Lyrics need to be more economical and less repetitive. This comes as constructive criticism along with strong evidence of a sturdy core that conveys truth, passion and musicality.

The cast is uneven but capable and admirably works in earnest to deliver the material. Robyn Payne is superb as Camille, teasing every emotional turn of a complicated character and captivating the audience with her sultry vocals. Ernestine Jackson delights as Lorraine and adds the perfect amount of comic relief. Her rendition of “Could It Be Love” is remarkable. Amanda Holley is a powerhouse belting “Rough Ride to Heaven” and also captures the savage narcissism of Nakima D. with controllable confidence. Hopefully with this first fully realized production the flaws and fumbles become clear and a collaboration can begin to bring this project to the next level. It deserves that attention in order to continue the journey, and realize the dream, sort of paralleling the message of the show.

ME AND CAESAR LEE

“Me and Caesar Lee” is presented by The Midtown International Theatre Festival and G. Gebony Productions. Director: Jonathan Warman. The creative team includes: Akil Noel (stage manager) and Napoleon Gladney (choreographer).

The cast includes Amanda Holley, Ernestine Jackson, Nick Mara, Robyn Payne, Raun Ruffin, Joshua Scarlett, and Sadat Waddy.

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF)'s fifeenth season will include a slate of full-length plays and musicals, as well as Cabaret MITF. The Festival will run from July 14th to August 10th 2014, at the June Havoc Theatre and the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (1st floor), the Jewel Box Theater (4th floor), and the TBG Theatre (Main Stage) all located at 312 West 36th Street, NYC. Tickets are $18.00 to $20.00 and are available at www.midtownfestival.org or by phone at (866) 811-4111.

“Me and Caesar Lee” continues its run at TBG Theatre (see above) on Saturday July 26th at 8:00 p.m.; Thursday July 31st at 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday August 6th at 3:00 p.m.; and Friday August 8th at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $18.00 (see above). The running time is 2 hours with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, July 25, 2014

“The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” at 59E59 Theater C (Closed July 23, 2014)

“The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” at 59E59 Theater C (Closed July 23, 2014)
Written by Mary Lou Quinlan and Martha Wollner
Directed by Martha Wollner
Performed by Mary Lou Quinlan
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Not all good books – not even best-selling books – translate well to the stage. Sometimes when readers lose the opportunity to “see” the storyline in their mind’s eye, they connect less to the characters and their conflicts. Mary Lou Quinlan’s touching story of her mother’s “God Box” is a loving tribute of a daughter to her mother that most likely reads better than it plays out in a theatre.

The script for “The God Box” is co-written with director Martha Wollner (LAByrinth Theatre) and is a strong and endearing piece of writing. However, as performed by Mary Lou Quinlan, the script becomes too personal and too introspective. Despite Chris Kateff’s splendid projections, it is difficult to get a sense of who Ms. Quinlan’s mother was and how her life and dying can provide opportunities for understanding, accepting, and processing death and dying as a form of healing. Did Mary Lou’s mother simply “let go and let God” all of her life? Did putting something in one of her many “God Boxes” mean she ceased to be proactive? What is it that Ms. Quinlan wants the audience to learn from her story?

As it stands, the story seems to celebrate faith mixed with magical thinking stirred with deep affection and love. Perhaps that is not a bad recipe for a diet of coping with a bereavement that eventuates in the healthy acceptance of the death of a loved one.

It would be interesting fir Mary Lou Quinlan to hold auditions for an actor who can relate her compelling daughter’s story with the distance needed to make it more accessible to the audience and to allow them to connect to their own processes of bereavement and their own methods of understanding how faith intersects with living and dying.

THE GOD BOX, A DAUGHTER’S STORY

“The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” is presented by Just Ask A Woman as part of the 2014 East to Edinburgh Festival at 59E59 Theaters.

The creative team of “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” includes Justin Townsend (production consultant), Kia Rogers (lighting design), Betsy Rhodes (sound design), and Chris Kateff (projection design).

East to Edinburgh began on Tuesday, July 8 for a limited engagement through Sunday, July 27. The performance schedule varies. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Tickets to each EAST TO EDINBURGH show range from $15 - $20 ($10.50 -$14 for 59E59 Members). Tickets can be purchased by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or online at www.59e59.org. Performances of “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” closed on Wednesday July 23, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Friday, July 25, 2014

“WikiMusical” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closed on Saturday July 26, 2014)

Photo by Billy Bustamante
“WikiMusical” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closed on Saturday July 26, 2014)
Book and Lyrics by Frank Ceruzzi and Blake J. Harris
Music by Trent Jeffords
Directed by Richard J. Hinds
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

Perhaps the new venture entitled “WikiMusical” being presented as part of NYMF at the PTC Performance space needs to find a better venue to reach its target audience and potential. In this project’s present condition, the concept might have looked fine on the page but it does not translate very well onto the stage as an example of good musical theater. The storyline is simple, especially if you are a tech geek, but it has no substance or character delineation. Yes, it can be said it is all in fun but at times when there is an attempt to be comical, there is only gratuitous vulgarity and distasteful jokes that border on being offensive. The music is scattered, changing tempos and styles mid song with no memorable melodies and the lyrics are insipid. The choreography tries hard to keep the action moving and create some needed energy and sometimes succeeds but needs to be a bit more varied.

The cast members do their best, with some tackling several roles, but are not given enough to establish purposeful characters or situations. It is a difficult task to portray invented, cartoonish characters that cohabitate with humans in a cyber space fantasy. This somewhat modern day “Alice in Wonderland” for the computer age simply does not compare, and falls short in every aspect, appearing bland, sophomoric and lackluster. The capable cast works too hard to make the material they are given amount to no more than a very long high school skit and credit should be given to them for endurance. Possibly this might fare better on a computer screen as a virtual reality cyber musical and attract a recognizable audience.

WIKIMUSICAL

“WikiMusical” completed its run at NYMF on Saturday July 26th at 9:00 p.m. at The PTC Performance Space, 455 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. For further information about the show and about the New York Musical Theatre Festival, visit nymf.org.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, July 24, 2014

“Deployed” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closed on Tuesday July 22, 2014)

The Cast of "Deployed" - Photo by Christine DiPasquale
“Deployed” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closed on Tuesday July 22, 2014)
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jessy Brouillard
Directed by Mindy Cooper
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Jessy Brouillard’s “Deployed” just completed its American premiere run at the 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival. The new musical seems to be in search of an identity and hopefully this NYMF run will give the creators the opportunity to clarify that identity. On the one hand the musical seems to want to be the heartfelt story of Emily Baker (Janice Landry) and Anthony Wilkes (Bryant Martin) and their somewhat turbulent relationship during the Iraq War. On the other hand, the musical wants to tackle the more enduring questions about war and peace, confession and forgiveness, and unresolved anger. These weightier issues are more than this musical can handle despite its two hour length and its musical score.

Several of the show’s sixteen songs are beautifully written and beautifully performed. Among them are: “I Know I’m Home,” Emily and Anthony’s mantra for their love; “For Those Who Follow;” and “The Poem.” Perhaps the most impressive song in the show is sung by Laila (Nina V. Negron), Emily’s interpreter, eventual confidant, and murderer of Anthony. Laila’s “Lullaby” is heartfelt and expresses the authentic matrix of feelings that occur after the death of a loved one. Unfortunately there are a few songs which have no contextual meaning and are as vapid as they come. Brooke’s “Come to Mama” sung by the talented Natalie Toro could easily be cut from the musical. This actor’s well-honed craft – as exhibited elsewhere in her portrayal of Sergeant Brooke Redmond – is completely wasted on this silly song. Unfortunately, Ms. Toro is given no other opportunity to use her gifted voice.

The plot is driven by characters who are not completely defined and whose growth is either questionable or far too accelerated and by conflicts that remain unclear and beg for resolution. For example, after over one act and three-quarters of being a miserable human being, Corporal Emily Baker – after a bit of a chat with Brooke – experiences redemption and release from years of unresolved anger. Psychotherapy should be a quick and easy. None of this is the fault of performer Janice Landry who gives Emily exactly what the creators and director must have asked for.

Emily feels the need to prove herself in battle and requests a transfer from her home base to Iraq where her boyfriend of nine months is serving. Unfortunately, Anthony is on his way home after inadvertently killing a civilian female child (Laila’s daughter Rose). He has had enough of war and does not sign up for redeployment. So they are again separated and that space seems to give Emily’s rage and jealousy and mean-spiritedness a fertile ground in which to fester. When Emily arrives in Iraq she discovers she will be assigned to train women, not men: this throws her into a tizzy and repeated tiffs with her interpreter and trainees. One wonders: what is the point? If you are so intent on proving you can compete with men, simply take the assignment given and make it work: that is what successful people do!

The plot gets complicated (including Anthony’s return to Iraq) with disingenuous banter about “needing to save the world” and “making the world a better place” and “ending cycles of hate, a problem not solved by war.” Add to that mix Mr. Brouillard’s attempt to deal with the LGBT community and serving in the military: this comes up short and is more gratuitous and homophobic than helpful to the cause.

Hopefully the talented Mr. Brouillard and his creative team will continue to develop this new musical. There is no reason why with some careful editing and re-writing, it could have a successful future.

DEPLOYED

“Deployed” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Mount Elise Entertainment. Director: Mindy Cooper.

The cast for “Deployed” includes: Kyle Robert Carter, Hannah Rose Deflumeri, Erik A. Gullberg, john D. Haggerty, Collin L. Howard, Adam Hyndman, Ashanti J’Aria, Anna Lise Jensen, Clayton Jones, Janice Landry, Bryant Martin, Nina V. Negron, and Natalie Toro. The orchestra includes Justin S. Fischer (Musical Director/Keyboard 1), Jack Morer (Guitarist), Gregory Landes (Drummer), Ben Ruben-Schnirman (Bass Player), and Brandon Sturiale (Keybaord 2).

The production team is comprised of: Frances Nelson McSherry (costume design), David Lee Cuthbert (lighting/projection design), Haddon Kime and Rick Lombardo (sound design), Anna Ebbeson (musical director), Delores Duran-Cefalu (music supervisor) and Matthew Stern (production manager). Press Representative: Richard Hillman. Production photos by Christine DiPasquale.

“Deployed” concluded performances on Tuesday July 22nd at 5:00 p.m. at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. For more information on the show or the Festival, visit nymf.org.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Thursday, July 24, 2014

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” at 59E59 Theater A (Closes Sunday August 24)

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” at 59E59 Theater A (Closes Sunday August 24)
Based on the Book “The Children of Willesden Lane” by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen
Adapted and Directed by Hershey Felder
With Mona Golabek
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

"Through the way where hope is guiding,/Hark, what peaceful music rings;/Where the flock, in Thee confiding,/Drink of joy from deathless springs." – “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (Words by Martin Janus)

Mona Golabek’s “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is an extraordinary Master Class in the resilience and healing of memory, the power of storytelling, and the enduring mystery of the art of the piano and its impressive repertoire. Ms. Golabek shares the inspiring story of her mother Lisa Jura using the rhetorical devices of pathos, ethos, and logos. The audience member feels for Lisa Jura from her childhood through adulthood: the audience member identifies with the marginalization Lisa experienced: the audience member understands it is not reasonable to commit genocide.

Under Hershey Felder’s exacting and sumptuous direction, Ms. Golabek portrays all of the characters in her mother’s remarkable story. She gives each character a unique identity and an authentic presence. The story has broad appeal as it traces Lisa Jura’s difficult journey from war ravaged Vienna to the United States where she marries the French freedom fighter from the Howard Hotel in London’s West End. Ms. Golabek’s remarkable skill at telling the story of her mother’s journey is matched only by her keyboard skills. She narrates and performs all or a selection from fourteen songs.

As she plays through Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata (op. 27, no. 2), Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and “Moonlight” from “Suite bergamasque,” Chopin’s “Nocturne in B-Flat Major” (op. 9, no. 1), and Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C-Sharp Minor” (op. 3, no. 2), Mona Golabek shares the inspiring and often turbulent history of her mother’s experiences in Nazi-era Vienna and beyond. She has the remarkable ability to come in on cue to a recorded orchestra track, speak while playing, and re-enter a piece without hesitation or error.

And Ms. Golabek’s playing of the Grieg “Piano Concerto in A Minor” (op. 18, third movement) as a bonus “encore” is spellbinding and one of the finest performances of this challenging Concerto this critic has witnessed. Mona Golabek clearly remembers the advice her grandmother gave her mother Lisa when she returned from Professor Isellis’s studio in Vienna in 1938: “The secret of a beautiful chord is that the notes must never be played with equal force – the secret is the layers – the layers of beautiful sound.” Indeed, Mona Gloabek’s performance is a series of beautiful chords with layers of beautiful sound which resonates “through the way where hope is guiding."

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” raises a series of rich and enduring question, including: why do human beings have such difficulty understanding that human rights are universal and not matters of entitlement by gender, race, or cultural ties; why do children have to suffer as the result of the grievous errors made by adults; and why cannot humankind live in peace and harmony? Ms. Golabek addresses these and other rich questions without presumption, with pure honesty, and with a welcoming and redemptive spirit.

Given the overwhelming audience interest in this first 5A Season offering at 59E59 it would be prudent to purchase tickets to this and all future offerings. 59E59 has made a fortuitous decision to create this new season of five plays. As part of the flock who witnessed Mona Golabek fire up this season, this critic drank of joy “from deathless springs.”

THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is presented by 59E59 Theaters, the Geffen Playhouse in association with Hershey Felder, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

The concert grand piano used during the show is provided by Steinway & Sons.

The design team includes Trevor Hay and Hershey Felder (scenic design); Christopher Rynne (lighting design); Jaclyn Maduff (costume design); Erik Carstensen (sound design); and Andrew Wilder and Greg Sowizdrzal (projection design). Production photos are by Carol Resegg.

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” began performances on Friday, July 11 for a limited engagement through Sunday, August 24. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7:00 p.m.; Friday at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Single tickets are $70.00 ($49.00 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“The Gig” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closed on Monday July 21, 2014)

The Cast of "The Gig" - Photo by Russ Rowland
“The Gig” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The PTC Performance Space (Closed on Monday July 21, 2014)
Based on the Motion Picture “The Gig” by Frank D. Gilroy
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen
Directed by Igor Goldin
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

The recent incarnation of “The Gig,” a musical presented by NYMF and performed by an outstanding cast of Broadway vets, leads one to think that it cannot get any better than this - except of course with the addition of lavish sets and opulent costumes. Unfortunately, there will be no need for the latter since this rendition performed on a bare stage reveals all the blemishes and imperfections that impair the product from being a successful musical. Most evident is the book which is predictable, scattered and with no real in-depth characterization, which in this case was left up to the actors who did a remarkable job with what they had to work with. If the audience does not emotionally connect to the characters, then they do not care what happens to them, no matter how well they sing, dance or deliver a joke. What the playwright and composer Douglas J. Cohen does provide are some nice melodic tunes and crafty lyrics that support certain situations.

The storyline is simple. It is NYC in 1975 and friends and amateur musicians with a dream get their first gig at a Catskill resort that ends up not being exactly what they imagined. The expected plot twists and turns highlighting new romance, disappointment, heartbreak, failure, and flat tires - you get the picture. It all starts feeling old and tired, especially when treated to some Borscht Belt jokes by the owner of the resort. Since the musical has been kicking around for several years and is already published, I would not expect too much to change. It is fine as a regional theater piece and will certainly entertain an audience, but once you leave the theater you forget about it and the characters and with the high at-risk stakes in the theater world that just is not enough.

THE GIG

“The Gig” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival and The Gig at NYMF, LLC. Director: Igor Goldin; Music Director: Jonathan Smith; Choreographer: Keith Andrews; Scenic Design: Josh Zangen; Costume Design: Ryan J. Moller; Lighting Design: Cory Pattak; Sound Design: John Emmett O’Brien; Stage Manager: Naomi Anhorn; Publicity: Sam Mattingly; and Casting by Michael Cassara. Production photos by Russ Rowland.

The cast includes Stephen Berger, Larry Cahn, Doug Eskew, Kate Fahrner, Nick Gaswirth, Michael Minarik, Kevin Pariseau, Dee Roscioli, Steve Routman, Bruce Sabath, and Donna Vivino. The band members include Jonathan Smith (Keys); Mark Thrasher (Woodwinds); Ray Kilday (Bass); and Joe Mowatt (Drums).

“The Gig” completed its run at NYMF on Monday July 21st at 5:30 p.m. at The PTC Performance Space, 455 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. For further information about the show and about the New York Musical Theatre Festival, visit nymf.org.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Oprahfication” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre (Closed on Thursday July 24, 2014)

Rachel Dunham as Oprah Winfrey - Photo by Ange Leggas
“Oprahfication” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre (Closed on Thursday July 24, 2014)
Book and Lyrics by Rachel Dunham
Music by Shanon D. Whitelock
Directed by Dirk Hoult
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Oprahfication (ˌəʊprəfɪˈkeɪʃən) noun (informal) - the perceived increase in people’s desire to discuss their emotions or personal problems, attributed to the influence of confessional television programmes. Word origin: from Oprah (Winfrey) (born 1954), US actress and pioneer of this genre. – From “Collins English Dictionary”

What happens when a powerful actor with an equally powerful voice portrays one of America’s most powerful (and wealthiest) women ever? Let’s call it “Oprahfication!” Currently running at the New York Musical Festival, “Oprahfication” highlights Oprah Winfrey’s 25th Anniversary Episode through the eyes and heart of actor and singer Rachel Dunham. Ms. Dunham – who watched Oprah live and recorded in the 20th Anniversary DVD Collection - celebrates the years Oprah dominated daytime television and presents the “ultimate interview.”

Under Dirk Hoult’s careful direction and supported by Shanon D. Whitelock’s music, Rachel Dunham pays tribute to all that was, is, and ever shall be ‘Oprah’ in fourteen show-stopping songs inspired by Gospel, Motown, doo-wop, rock ballads, love ballads, and lullabies. Through parody, satire, and humor, Ms. Dunham’s songs pay tribute to Oprah Winfrey: each is a well-penned love letter. “All Things Are Possible,” “Dreams Come True,” “I’m Fine,” “Fat, Black, and Woman,” and “Hand in Hand” are particularly effective. And the “Network Sequence” is sheer, manic, over-the-top joy. Ms. Dunham has a powerhouse of a voice with a full range of vocals which she controls with precision and care.

Ms. Dunham tackles Oprah’s legacy leaving – as does Oprah herself – no stone unturned. When her scheduled interviewee fails to show up, Ms. Dunham has Opera do the obvious but risky alternative: she interviews herself! The “Episode” is filled with affirmations, audience interaction, rumor-control about the Oprah, Stedman Graham and Gayle King Triangle, and references to stellar guests and uber-stellar giveaways. Ms. Dunham’s book and lyrics exhibit her uncanny ability to distance herself from the icon she portrays while providing perspective, humor, and sensitivity toward her subject of interest. In a remarkable feat of acting and singing, Rachel Dunham shows the deepest affection for the Queen of daytime television.

I waited around a bit after the performance to get Oprah’s - I mean Rachel’s - autograph but like any megastar she had slipped out the back entrance. I wonder if it was into a stretch limousine.

OPRAHFICATION

“Oprahfication” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Adam Lowe Theatrical. Director: Dirk Hoult; Music Director: Shanon D. Whitelock¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬; Lighting Design: Alex Berlage and Ross Graham; Sound Design: Sarah J. Trevorrow; Production Stage Manager: Kelly Caitlin Sullivan; Press Representative: JT-PR (Joe Trantacosta). Production photos by Ange Leggas of 3FatesMedia .

The cast features Rachel Dunham as Oprah and Dirk Hoult as the off-stage voice. The band includes Shannon D. Whitelock (Keyboard 1); Yuval Semo (Keyboard 2); Steve Dawson (Lead Guitar); Daniel Asher (Bass Guitar); and Keith Abrams (Drums).

“Oprahfication” concluded performances on Thursday July 24th at 9:00 p.m. at The Ford Foundation Studio Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25. For tickets, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935948 . Runtime: 115 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Der Gelbe Stern” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at the Laurie Beechman Theatre (Closes on Monday July 21. 2014)

“Der Gelbe Stern” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at the Laurie Beechman Theatre (Closes on Monday July 21. 2014)
Created by Alexis Fishman
Written by James Millar and Alexis Fishman
Featuring Alexis Fishman and Heath Saunders
Directed by Sharone Halevy
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

The longer humankind “treads the boards” of planet Earth, the more connected the general population of the fragile globe is to what Alexis Fishman calls the unfathomable trauma and tragedy of European Jewry during the Second World War. Alexis Fishman has created a cabaret within a play for the New York Musical Theatre Festival that in narration and song pays tribute to Erika Stern the fictional Jewish chanteuse who is living and performing in pre-war Berlin as the Nazis rise to power. Erika Stern’s bawdy cabaret show with her accompanist Otto (Heath Saunders) is shuttered by the Nazis 1n 1933 because she was a Jew who sang songs with questionable content.

Using those lyrics and the narration (the patter) between and during the songs, Ms. Fishman successfully manages to encapsulate the horrors of the Nazi rise to power during the Weimar Republic. The Nazi reimagining of Club Der Gelbe Stern as The White Elk parallels the Nazi reimagining of an inclusive Germany (and all of Europe) as a superior Aryan race that excludes Jews and members of the LGBT community (among others) and plans meticulously for their extinction and for the extinction or confiscation of their art.

Erika’s life story is counterpointed by songs of the era (with one exception) and the lyrics serve as much as a retelling of the chanteuse’s life as her life’s story seems the perfect provenance of the lyrics. The story of her first lover who decides to side with the Nazis, for example, counterpoints well “I’ve Been In Love Before (Friedrich Hollander/Frank Loesser). The heart wrenching story of her father in opposition to “The Jews Are To Blame” (Music by Georges Bizet) is haunting.

For many denizens of Planet Earth, “the marginalized, the profligates,” any one of their varied “performances” might be their last. “Der Gelbe Stern” is a powerful reminder “not to make arbitrary distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ The lives of European Jewry were so much like ours today … until they weren’t.”

The live portion of the character Erika Stern’s performance closes with her farewell song “If You Go Away, Little Boy” a brilliant conflation of “If You Go Away” (Jacques Brel and Rod McKuen) and “Go Away, Little Girl (Gerry Goffin and Carole King). Ms. Fishman’s rendition of these two songs – and her interpretations of all the play’s songs – is as mesmerizing as it is cathartic. This final song (Erika leaves the stage) segues into Otto listening to a recording of “I Don’t Know Who I Belong To” (Friedrich Hollander/Robert Liebmann and Friedrich Hollander) on the radio, believing it might be the recorded voice of Erika Stern whom he never sees after the Club was shuttered. The play closes with the song taking center stage.

“Der Gelbe Stern” needs to be seen before it closes on July 21st and hopefully in a production somewhere soon thereafter.

DER GELBE STERN

“Der Gelbe Stern” is presented by The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Three Fish Productions. Creator: Alexis Fishman; Writers: James Millar and Alexis Fishman; Director: Sharone Halevy; Original Musical Direction: Michael Lavine; Orchestrations: John Baxindine; Set and Lighting Designer: David Goldstein; General Manager/Line Producer: Paradox Productions/Kristen Luciani & Jason Vanderwoude; Publicist: Paul Siebold/Off Off PR. Production photos by Hunter Canning.

The Band: Giuseppe Fusco and Steve Millhouse.

“Der Gelbe Stern” continues performances on Monday July 21st at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42nd Street, NYC 10036. Tickets: $25. For tickets, visit nymf.org. Direct ticketing link: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/935994. Runtime: 1 hour and 15 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, July 21, 2014

“Fortune” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at the June Havoc Theatre (Closes Saturday August 2, 2014)

“Fortune” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at the June Havoc Theatre (Closes Saturday August 2, 2014)
Written by George Cameron Grant
Directed by Joy Kelly
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

When someone escapes from a life-threatening event and makes it to safety, that individual might feel that fortune has smiled on him or her. When an entrepreneur starts up a small business with no capital and the business grows to be profitable, that individual might believe she or he has been visited by good fortune. Not so for Miss Rose Fortune (Elizabeth Flax) who traveling as a child from slavery in Pennsylvania and Virginia achieves both and knows exactly how she succeeded: she was blessed by the very hand of God. “Fortune,” currently running at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in NYC, chronicles Miss Rose’s life story with all the ethos and pathos needed.

Rose’s Daddy (Michael Andrews) sacrifices his life as a member of King George III’s “Ethiopian Regiment” in the American Revolutionary War. Wounded in the battle that ironically gives America its freedom from the British Throne, Rose’s Daddy realizes he served on the wrong side and despite his induction with other black loyalists into the “King George County Register of Free Negroes” he is now nothing more than a runaway slave. He leads his ten-year-old daughter Rose (Olivia Gordon) and her Mama (Shannon Harris) to safety in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, as part of the Black Loyalist migration.

Although the “heat” of his leg wound ends his life, Rose’s Daddy’s initiative and foresight lands his daughter Rose and his wife in a safe place to begin a new life. Playwright George Cameron Grant’s script is the heartwarming story of Rose’s new beginnings as a stranger in a strange land. Despite a shaky beginning with distracting lighting mis-cues, the occasional dark stage, and the stage work lights remaining on for the first fifteen minutes of the performance (this was the first performance of the five), the cast found its footing and as a skilled ensemble cast successfully recounted Rose Fortune’s story with passion and intensity.

This tale is narrated by the “present day” Rose Fortune and as she relates the details of her epic journey, members of the cast enter and exit in a series of flashbacks to dramatize the narration. Elizabeth Flax is a powerful presence whose storytelling craft drives the performance from beginning to end. She also has a strong singing voice and an arsenal of acting skills to make Rose’s story believable and ring with authenticity.

Despite having to struggle with the disruptive lighting issues, the cast is uniformly competent. Christopher Michael Bauer is extraordinary as the Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia resident who welcomes Rose (after considerable coaxing from the young Rose (Kali Turner) and gives her the opportunity to found her Rose Fortune Carting Company. Tomike Lee Ogugua is a commanding persona as Jonah who arrives later in the migration of slaves to Nova Scotia and delivers a believable performance as Rose’s love interest and husband.

“Fortune” is the powerful testament to the ability of the individual to overcome seemingly impossible odds to achieve success. The play is also a testament to the importance of family, faith, and the amazing resilience of the human spirit to overcome.

FORTUNE

“Fortune” is presented by The Rose Fortune Company (Robyn Watson, Executive Producer) in association with T Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, as part of the Black Loyalist migration he Midtown International Theatre Festival. Director: Joy Kelly. The creative team includes: Zach Pizza (Lighting and Sound Design); Ali Turns (Costume Design); and Rositsa Timm (Stage Manager). Publicist: Bao Nguyen.

The cast includes Michael Andrews, Christopher Michael Bauer, Dean Conroy, Elizabeth Flaz, Olivia Gordon, Shannon Harris, Kristoffer Infante, Tomke Lee Ogugua, and Kaili Turner.

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF)'s fifeenth season will include a slate of full-length plays and musicals, as well as Cabaret MITF. The Festival will run from July 14th to August 10th 2014, at the June Havoc Theatre and the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (1st floor), the Jewel Box Theater (4th floor), and the TBG Theatre (Main Stage) all located at 312 West 36th Street, NYC. Tickets are $18.00 to $20.00 and are available at www.midtownfestival.org or by phone at (866) 811-4111.

“Fortune” continues its run at The June Havoc Theatre (see above) on Wednesday July 23rd at 8:00 p.m.; Friday July 25th at 6:00 p.m.; Saturday July 26th at 1:00 p.m.; and Saturday August 2nd at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.00 (see above). The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Monday, July 21, 2014

“Julia & Buddy” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at the Jewel Box Theatre (Closes Saturday August 2, 2014)

Claire Warden and Matthew DeCapua - Photo by Linda Jaquez
“Julia & Buddy” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at the Jewel Box Theatre (Closes Saturday August 2, 2014)
Written and Directed by N. G. McClernan
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

The bare stage at the Jewel Box Theatre, one of the venues for the Midtown International Theatre Festival, does not deter the new play “Julia & Buddy from instantly making it a playground for wit, intellect, and heartfelt affection as two actors inhabit the stage and begin their ninety minute banter. Claire Warden playing Julia and Buddy inhabited by Matthew DeCapua seem to capture and understand the age old quip that “opposites attract” and give evidence of proof to this notion with exceptional clarity. The panic ridden philosopher and the forgetful maintenance man are the perfect example of the odd couple: each examines her or his actions carefully, peeling away shallow facades and gently exposing their sensitive cores. Both actors manage to appear real and in control and never waver from an honest and truthful performance. Ms. Warden is strong, mindful and focused, yet frail, vulnerable and distracted and always tempts the audience to wonder about her path and intent - always with a distinct emotional investment. Mr. DeCapua is a pleasure to watch as he morphs into impressions of unseen pertinent characters. He produces a character study which is complex, precise, honest and filled with integrity, resulting in a sensitive portrait of a hopeful soul with fractured dreams and the will to survive. They are generous actors providing for each other and allowing the audience to enter their intimate world, always searching for creative ways to establish an emotional connection.

The writing by N.G. McClernan is quick, intelligent, purposeful and entertaining, never wasting words. Her script provides fuel for the actors allowing them to cruise at full speed never faltering or second guessing their commitment. As director, she knows her voice and characters well, taking all opportunities to squeeze every morsel of emotional energy from each verbal encounter. It would be worth the while to treat yourself to this little gem and witness some fresh, new and interesting New York theatre.

JULIA & BUDDY

“Julia & Buddy” is presented by Mergatroyd Productions in association with The Midtown International Theatre Festival. Director: N. G. McClernan. The creative team includes: Katie Kavett (Stage Manager); Renee Cole (Shopenhauer Costume Creator). Publicist: Tony White/Double Down Productions and Jay Michaels at WrightGroupNY Communications.

The cast includes Matthew DeCapua (Buddy) and Claire Warden (Julia).

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF)'s fifeenth season will include a slate of full-length plays and musicals, as well as Cabaret MITF. The Festival will run from July 14th to August 10th 2014, at the June Havoc Theatre and the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (1st floor), the Jewel Box Theater (4th floor), and the TBG Theatre (Main Stage) all located at 312 West 36th Street, NYC. Tickets are $18.00 to $20.00 and are available at www.midtownfestival.org or by phone at (866) 811-4111.

“Julia & Buddy” continues its run at the Jewel Box Theater (see above) on Sunday July 27th at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday August 2nd at 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $18.00 (see above). The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Sunday, July 20, 2014

“The Qualification of Douglas Evans” at Walkerspace (Closes Saturday August 9, 2014)

Photo by Russ Rowland
“The Qualification of Douglas Evans” at Walkerspace (Closes Saturday August 9, 2014)
Written by Derek Ahonen
Directed by James Kautz
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Douglas Evans (Derek Ahonen) is the perfect anti-hero in his anti-epic “The Qualification of Douglas Evans” currently running in repertory with “Enter at Forest Lawn” at Walkerspace in New York City. This protagonist struggles with his addiction to alcohol as the codependent son of an alcoholic father (Penny Bittone) and completely codependent mother (Barbara Weetman). The audience experiences this playwright want-to-be fall into addiction and reenter the addictive cycle in an ever circling gyre.

Douglas Evans’s journey is complex and although Mr. Ahonen’s writing and acting attempt to capture the tortured soul of an alcoholic, the script depends too heavily on successive flashbacks and concurrent action (past and present on stage at the same time). The audience understands that anyone Douglas meets or loves or harms (Jessica, Holly, Kimmy, Cara, or Robin) will in essence be his mother and father. Delusional behavior, projection, transference, and identification are all part of the matrix of addictive behavior. As playwright, Mr. Ahonen can trust the audience to understand this quickly. The audience wants a more substantive Douglas Evans and a clearer understanding of his conflicts and what would truly be required to ‘qualify’ him.

As it stands, those undefined conflicts paired with a less than resolved conflict drive a series of repetitive plots that begin to wear thin. If only the play clearly reflected Robin’s (Agatha Nowicki) weltanschauung which she summarizes in a conversation with Douglas:

ROBIN: No. You have to remember. We’re animals. Pure, innocent and full of love. But we’re also susceptible to evil influences. You know… Like mice in labs? When they keep going for
Something that’s bad for them cause they’re prisoners of their bodies? That’s us. We’re vulnerable too and we have to spend our lives rising above our spiritual, emotional, and physical weaknesses. But it’s completely okay to fail. Just gotta get back on that horse and keep pushing for greatness.

“The Qualification of Douglas Evans” is overwrought and overlong. Addiction is a serious and debilitating illness: the road to recovery is long and (like Odysseus’ path to Penelope) fraught with setbacks, temptations, blackouts, hallucinations, anger, and disappointment. The stage attempt to address the cycles of addiction, however, does not have to match the length of recovery. There is a solid and powerful ninety minutes in “The Qualification of Douglas Evans” and Mr. Ahonen and Mr. Kautz are more than capable of refashioning the play to a reasonable length without sacrificing any of the theatrical conventions they have consistently managed with excellence.

It is difficult for a playwright to cast himself as the protagonist in his own play (though, obviously, that’s Douglas Evans’s primary conflict) and equally difficult for the Founder and Artistic Director to direct the Founder and Associate Artistic Director: who provides the unbiased perspective and criticism needed? It would be interesting for this team to cast a new Douglas Evans and Mr. Ahonen and Mr. Kautz co-direct a ninety-minute version of “The Qualification of Douglas Evans.” This is just an unsolicited thought from a critic who passionately believes in the important work of the Amoralists.

THE QUALIFICATION OF DOUGLAS EVANS

The Amoralists present “The Gyre” a two play repertory exploring humankind’s vicious cycles. “The Qualification of Douglas Evans” is written by Derek Ahonen and Directed by James Kautz.

The cast for The Qualification of Douglas Evans includes Derek Ahonen, Penny Bittone, Mandy Nicole Moore, Agatha Nowicki, Samantha Strelitz, Kelley Swindall and Barbara Weetman.

The creative team includes David Harwell (Set Design), Brad Peterson (Lighting Design), Lux Haac (Costume Design), Phil Carluzzo (Sound Design), Stephanie Cox-Williams (Special Effects), Francine Volpe (Dramaturg) and Alfred Schatz (Assistant Director). The production team includes Lico Whitfield (Producer), Form Theatricals (General Management), Jeremy Pape (Production Manager) and Jane Davis (Stage Manager). Production Photos are by Russ Rowland.

Performances are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at Walkerspace, 46 Walker Street in NYC (between Broadway and Church). The schedule varies - for exact days and times go to http://www.TheAmoralists.com.

Tickets are $40.00 and $20.00 for students and can be purchased online at http://www.TheAmoralists.com. For more info visit http://www.TheAmoralists.com, Like them on Facebook at https://www.Facebook.com/TheAmoralists and follow on Twitter at @TheAmoralists.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Saturday, July 19, 2014

Posts 1 - 50 of 442 51-100 >>