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Strays

May 12, 2016

"Strays" is a challenge to describe as it is such a mash-up of traditional theatrical conventions that it doesn’t easily fall into any one category. Directed by Cion, Strays moves as through a haze, scenes folding one into the other, transitions covered by bizarre song and dance breaks (revolving around cats), characters speaking on top of each other almost constantly. The scenic design by Kerry Chipman is straight forward and aided largely by a projector, which displays videos by Maia Cruz Palileo throughout the production. The media element adds to the bizarre tone of the show, and though some of the videos played are designed to help advance the plot, others are simply trippy displays of superimposed kitties floating through the air. [more]

Fully Committed

May 10, 2016

Meet Sam, a struggling New York actor whose day job is as the reservationist for a popular albeit fictional Manhattan restaurant. Seemingly surrounded by phones at every turn, Ferguson’s Sam has devices that connects him to the chef, the hostess, his manager, as well as to the outside World and those looking for a much sought after reservation. Demonstrating a full spectrum of physical and vocal capabilities, Ferguson manipulates his body and voice to bring to life the many characters that Sam interacts with over the phone. [more]

On Set for Grave Secrets

May 3, 2016

Before the cameras started rolling, there was this anxiety and doubt, but I began to really focus and believe in myself, in my ability, in my technique, and in my drive, and that put me in the zone. [more]

Webcam

April 24, 2016

The simple staging also gave emphasis to this unique push and pull relationship between these two young men and the overall tone of the play. The story as well as Jake’s continuous pretentious commentary made me identify that there was a specific reason behind Jake’s intentions to be seen as this cool and confident man, while Noah is made out by Jake to be this hopeless, “more than likely” to be positive “fag”, when in reality Jake is actually the one who is hopeless and insecure. [more]

A Pregnant Pause

April 22, 2016

In theory, the material that "A Pregnant Pause" attempts to provide commentary on is thought-provoking. However, this production is one which unfortunately stumbles and falls within its very first minutes and never recovers. Calvin Knie and Carla Duval play the lovers Bob and Susan, respectively. Though the duo deserve some credit for their efforts, there is hardly any chemistry to be found on stage, and thus the entire premise on which the play is founded is hardly believable. Knie turns in an absolutely enigmatic performance as Bob, one which is confusing and muddled, lacking clear intentions and any kind of subtlety. He constantly resorts to screaming and yelling, a confusing choice which is often unfounded and simply out of character. [more]

Mike Birbiglia: Thank God For Jokes

April 17, 2016

On stage, Birbiglia’s presence differs significantly from that of his fellow comics. It is no exaggeration in referring to Birbiglia as a soft-spoken individual, a term not often associated with a stand-up comedian. Birbiglia embraces his subtlety as his calling card, and this unique quality is the trait that differentiates his style from that of others. Further, because of the way he controls his onstage presence, when he does raise his voice or get particularly physical, it is even more effective as a result. This style paves the way for many different forms of comedy and jokes along the way, thus keeping the show free of any break in pace or monotony. [more]

The New York Pops: The Music of John Williams

April 15, 2016

Though the evening was studded with some of the more famous and mainstream orchestral pieces of William’s career—namely the March from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or the Theme from "Jurassic Park," the evening also highlighted some of the more experimental pieces that came with Spielberg’s influential works of science fiction. A series of excerpts from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," as well as a suite from "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," shed light on the fact that, though Williams is gifted at the art of creating a catchy melody, he is also an expert at concocting complex, ethereal music that makes the world of science fiction seem wholly believable. [more]

House Rules

April 10, 2016

Featuring a talented and engaging cast as well as an inventively designed set that adds tremendous production value, "House Rules" would seem to have all the necessary elements of a successful production. However, though the technical and theatrical aspects of this production are undoubtedly successful, the message of this story is somehow lost along the way. Somewhere down the line, this heartfelt family story devolves into a set of characters with clichéd motivations and almost no character growth; characters who are far too often put into storylines which never receive that oh-so-satisfying payoff that differentiates an exceptional theatrical experience from the ordinary. [more]

Ironbound

March 22, 2016

Darja, the grounding force of the entire production, is played with rawness and vigor by Marin Ireland. Ms. Ireland—no stranger to the New York stage as of late—delivers an unnerving performance as a woman who has had no run of good luck in her time in America. Jumping in time between the early 1990’s, the year 2014, and stopping in the middle (2006) along the way, Ireland’s performance is riveting and heartfelt from beginning to end—no matter the decade. [more]

Connected

March 13, 2016

"Connected" is a series of short plays, each tackling our always-connected culture from a different angle. The first of four stories is about Meghan, a high schooler with a crush on one of the most popular guys in school. Midori Francis, the charming actress playing Meghan, decides to ask her crush to the prom and, after her theatrical prom proposal gets caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube, Francis’s timid teen reaches web celeb status, with her video collecting one million views in 24 hours. This story has a lot to say about what it means to be popular, and the juxtaposition of a down-to-earth girl rising to celebrity status opens the door to a thought-provoking conversation about the fickleness of fame, and the isolation that ironically comes with it. [more]

Buried Child

March 13, 2016

After a twenty year hiatus from the New York theater scene, Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning "Buried Child" is back in the Big Apple but in a more intimate setting. This latest iteration of the dramatic classic sees its return to the world of Off-Broadway, with a limited engagement at The Pershing Square Signature Center. Loaded with a powerhouse cast led by Ed Harris, the latest from the The New Group is a fresh take on an American classic. [more]

Rap Guide to Climate Chaos

March 7, 2016

For his latest production, Brinkman has assembled over 20 songs which, cohesively, tackle every aspect of the climate crisis. Starting with a background of the physics and chemistry behind what’s happening in the world, he begins the show with a crash course in climate science. Brinkman’s clever lyrics are both informative and comical, and the unique way in which the information is presented to the audience makes learning fun and entertaining. Not only that, the conversational approach in his rapping also helps to make the information more easily digestible. [more]

Dead Dog Park

March 3, 2016

At the onset of the production, each cast member is introduced by walking onto stage one by one. Starring intently out into the audience, there is a general sense of unrest to be found behind the eyes of each performer. The house lights of the theater are still on, and the piercing gazes coming from the actors scattered across the stage immediately destroys any notion of a fourth wall. The fourth wall, the theatrical device that the audience can usually hide safely behind, is taken away from the audience before the production even begins. There is no question: from the time the very first actor takes the stage, it is established that the audience is just as responsible for the events of Barry Malawer’s "Dead Dog Park" as any one of the fictional characters in the story [more]

Broadway by the Year: The 1930’s

February 25, 2016

Though most of the performances of the evening were solely from vocalists, some of the performers showed versatility by playing with various different instruments. This added a refreshing amount of variety, and led to a handful of outstanding performances. Pianist and singer Billy Stritch performed in the first act, and the combination of his smooth vocals and stride-style piano was a welcome treat. The highlight of the evening for Stritch was “Comes Love” (Yokel Boy), which earned mid-song applause from the audience. Also showing versatility was Nellie McKay, who—at different times—performed on both the piano and the ukulele. McKay, who possesses a voice with an almost calm quality, is to be thanked for some of the more subtle, quiet, moments of the evening. [more]

The White Stag Quadrilogy

February 20, 2016

An element of "The White Stag Quadrilogy" which cannot go overlooked is the amount of dancing incorporated into the production. In lieu of proper production techniques, Wolfert and company instead choose to depict stags parading across the desert, or eagles flying through the sky, by way of “interpretive” dancing. Enlisting the staff of the Plaza Michelle for this purpose, the dancing trio of Derek Smith, Michelle Uranowitz, and Jaime Wright are together a band of merry misfits who revel in their undulating, gyrating, style of dance (choreographed in hilariously gratuitous fashion by Chloe Kernaghan). Referred to on multiple occasions by Wolfert as “trained professionals,” the self-aware ensemble is a recurring aspect of the play which is, time and time again—and again, hilarious. [more]

Adults Only

February 12, 2016

Directed by Alex Correia, the seven different plays presented each serve a purpose. "The Heart Attack," which opens the show, is solemn yet silly. Taking place in a hospital, Nate Rollins is a patient who thinks he is having a heart attack, and Shane Allen is the Doctor assigned to his case. The premise is initially that of just a hypochondriac in action, but once the check-up has been completed, the tone changes to that of a more poignant and meaningful exchange between two grown men. While not all the plays are equally as funny, humor is present throughout the entire evening to keep the overall tone on the lighter side. [more]

Midtown Int’l Theatre Festival Spring: March 7 – 27, 2016

February 7, 2016

Powerful and unique themes pervade this series of works including spirituality and "the other side;" sexuality and relationships and its burgeoning diversity; the power of - and within - women; the casualty of war - and the casual way we look at it; fine art; the church; crippling illness from the point of the crippled; redemption; and myriad more are explored in under two hours! [more]

Chatting with the Tea Party

February 6, 2016

Cast as the curious playwright Rich, actor Jeffrey C. Wolf is the central focus of the evening. Wolf narrates the play by way of a series of monologues, which preface interviews with various members of the Tea Party or other pertinent political figures. Carrying the show on his back, Wolf is an agreeable narrator with an infectious curiosity. At times the play navigates deeply into American History, and when he dives into a fact or number heavy-preamble, his pace is cognizant of the fact that the audience is best assumed unfamiliar with it. Thanks to this, exposition regarding past political events is well-received and easily digestible. [more]

Allen Wilder 2.0

January 21, 2016

Joe Casey is a charming actor. He exudes a “playboy” vibe which goes hand-in-hand with the character of Michael whose vices range from women to booze and back again. Casey shows an understanding of a man who is largely misunderstood and actually well-intentioned. Steph Van Vlack plays the role of Donna. Nearing 50 and a divorcée with a child, Donna is conflicted in light of the fact that she—a woman of her age—is engaging in an apparent “one night stand.” Among other things, this is also a character deeply disturbed that she’s actually considering sleeping with the child she used to babysit for all those years ago. Van Vlack brings a necessary uncertainty to the character. Playing a woman of certain age, Van Vlack’s performance indicates that Donna still has deep insecurities and still has quite a bit to learn about relationships. [more]

In Quietness

January 16, 2016

Directed by Danya Taymor, 'In Quietness" excels in its exploration of intimacy. When dialogue is being spoken between two actors at a time, there are moments of silence that are loaded with implication. It is a credit to the director that more character development happens with nothing being said at all rather than when a character is speaking. Kristen Robinson’s set design is efficient enough—the whole stage is made to look like the inside of a chapel—though it is made much more effective by intelligent lighting design by Masha Tsimring and Caitlyn Rappaport. [more]

Marilyn Maye: “Marilyn by Request”

January 15, 2016

The crowd went wild when she sang some iconic favorites and became silent so as you could hear a pin drop when she crooned out others. Maye sure knows how to work a room. This snazzy, jazzy one-of-a-kind artist sang a lot of ballads, Broadway tunes and anything fabulous. Only the best would do for this phenomenal performer. Among the highlights were “Luck, Be a Lady Tonight, “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Country Boy,” “That's Life” and “I'm Still Here” which was very apropos. [more]

How Alfo Learned to Love

December 24, 2015

Directed by Daisy Walker, "How Alfo Learned to Love" is chock full of Italian-American stereotypes. The characters are just heightened enough that the gimmick works, but there is also a lot of heart behind this story. Walker has brought to life a group of characters who are quirky and lovable, and in the end it really feels like a family affair. All of this is contingent on Thom’s performance as Alfo whose character arc is fleshed out and brimming with variety. This redemption story about learning to love is a rollicking good time. Backed by strong performances and direction, a slick and consistent pace, and an entertaining script which sticks to a winning formula, nary a soul is likely to leave this theater without a smile. [more]

Who Left This Fork Here

December 14, 2015

Conceived by Daniel Fish and Jim Findlay, "Who Left This Fork Here"—inspired by the emotional themes found in Anton Chekhov’s "The Three Sisters"—is a stark and jarringly honest piece which examines morality and aging through the eyes of three different female performers. Separated by nearly seven decades, the three women (Tina Benko, Judith Roberts, and Auden Thornton) each represent a different phase of a woman’s life. [more]

The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit

December 10, 2015

Alas, the Tiny Tim of olden days exists no more. Thanks to medical advancement in the mid-1800’s, young Tim underwent a surgery which not only cured him of his ailment, but gave him a new heightened ability referred to as “a dancing leg.” This newly autonomous dancing leg is Timothy’s calling card and—whether he accepts it or not—the leg which was once a burden is now the precious asset upon which this grand adventure is based. "The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit" is massively ambitious. As if imagining a sequel for one of Dicken’s most famous fictional characters wasn’t enough, Knee and Catrini scale things to an even higher level by tying in the fictional accounts of A Christmas Carol with the real-life autobiographical "Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi," written first hand by the famous English clown and then later rewritten by Charles Dickens. It is a heroic effort which attempts to bridge the gap between two of Dickens' most famous works, even if there isn’t much correlation between the two to begin with. [more]

That Physics Show

December 4, 2015

"That Physics Show!" is the brainchild of David Maiullo, a professional physics demonstrator who also happens to have a knack for comedy. Created and performed by Mr. Maiullo, this one man show—plus his assistant Kelsey Lane Dies—is a surprisingly educational production which, though it doesn’t have any narrative, is very engaging. From the moment the theater doors open, there is an infectious curiosity which permeates through the crowd: the stage is littered with test tubes, weights, racks, liquids, mysterious boxes containing curious looking objects and random items such as balloons, a fire extinguisher, and even a can of coke. Looking around, one can’t help but wonder how all the different objects will come to use. [more]

Baby Jane Dexter: “It’s Personal!”

November 30, 2015

It wasn't until the sixth song, "Birth of the Blues" by DeSylva, Brown and Henderson, that she finally addressed the crowd which had filled the small venue. She commented that she has never considered herself a blues singer, although she has been identified as such for years, and went on to belt out a very heartfelt, bluesy rendition of the song. She then transitioned into one of her old-time favorites, a traditional English ballad from her Hair days, "The House of the Rising Sun." Interpreted with great feeling and emotion, this was one of her best performances maybe because of the memories it conjures up in her. [more]

King Charles III

November 19, 2015

Admittedly, many of the ideas in the play are hardly new or revolutionary: the first measures to limit the scope of the British monarchy’s power date back to the 1215 Magna Carta and subsequent arguments challenging the divine right of kings include the American Declaration of Independence, drafted in 1776. Rather, this production’s merit lies in the shocking immediacy it brings to the subject. Acutely aware of the fact that the nearly 90 year-old Queen will not live forever, Bartlett takes us into a not-too-distant future where the inevitable change of the empire’s figurehead sends the nation into a state of upheaval. His England is just melodramatic enough that to allow us to see it as fictional yet a shade too realistic to feel truly dystopian. [more]

Charles Francis Chan, Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery

November 16, 2015

The National Asian American Theater Company’s world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s "Charles Francis Chan, Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery" is best categorized as fiercely provocative satire. The play has two storylines. The first follows a 1960’s Frank who is developing and producing a murder mystery; the second being scenes from the aforementioned murder mystery, which is a stylized production featuring an Asian woman in white face as an elegant old debutant, and conversely an American Vietnam veteran in brown face as the Asian Detective Charles Chan, namesake to the production. [more]

Veritas

October 31, 2015

Continuing the trend of producing challenging new works of theater in interactive environments, The Representatives are back with a riveting production of Stan Richardson’s "Veritas." Founded by Richardson along with Matt Steiner, the duo behind The Representatives chose to have their newest project performed at The Cave @ St. George’s, the ornately decorated basement chamber of the 300 year old St. George’s Church. [more]

Boogie Stomp!

October 20, 2015

Performed by two bonafide Boogie Woogie experts, Baldori and Migliazza are positioned on stage next to each other in front of their dueling grand pianos. With a lifetime of experience in the business, Baldori has played with Chuck Berry for the past 40 years in over 100 performances. This is evident in his stylings, technique, and from the hilarious and entertaining stories that are told in between songs. As his counterpart, Migliazza is a skilled and formidable musical opponent. Together the two take turns singing, playing the piano or keyboard, or cracking jokes to the audience to vary the pace. [more]

Unseamly

October 20, 2015

Director Sarah C. Carlsen does an excellent job of utilizing minimalism to tell the story. "Unseamly" is told in a non-linear format, and relies heavily on flashbacks. Instead of having set pieces rolling in and out to change scenes, the play is presented in a bright white room which has secret doors and set pieces that pop out of the walls to change the environment and accommodate the next flashback. The set and costumes are both designed by Brian Dudkiewicz, and there is definitely a consistent style throughout. Minimalist with flashes of bright color, the clothing is sexy and trendy, and contributes to the overall theme of the play: costumed liberally, the whole production is steeped in sexuality. [more]

Richard Holbrook: Richard Sings Rodgers with a Lot of Heart – Revised and Updated

October 19, 2015

As always, Holbrook was dapper in his signature tux and brought real class and style to the stage. His rich, tenor voice was soothing to the ears and stirred the packed audience, mostly an older crowd, into reminiscing with him about the old days when these songs were written. Their enthusiasm was undeniable, underscored by their continuous applause. Holbrook's vocal instrument is not particularly robust but, what he lacks in volume, he makes up for in passion; a great interpreter, he really feels the music and sings with a lot of heart just like the title of his cabaret. This, along with his great stage presence, connects him with his audience and they find themselves being reeled in. [more]
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