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Otello (LoftOpera)

March 20, 2017

LoftOpera is a feisty little company that operates around Brooklyn, especially Bushwick. They are giving" Otello" in LightSpace Studios, a disco on Flushing Avenue about the size of a high school gymnasium. There’s a small orchestra (27, about half the size Rossini wrote for), kept under tight but lyrical control by the company’s maestro, Sean Kelly. The singers do not appear to be looking at him for cues while they are enthusiastically playing out the story, but they only got lost once at Saturday night’s performance. [more]

Zora Neale Hurston: a Theatrical Biography

November 17, 2016

The actors make the characterless space come alive. Elizabeth Van Dyke (Zora Neale Hurston) shrouds Zora with the same purity and authority that she conveyed in the 1998 production. Zora never pandered to convention -- Harlem Renaissance beliefs (Langston Hughes or Richard Wright) or white America politics. Zora walked her own path and was unwaveringly true to who she was and her ideas about art, politics, men and women, academia, and Black culture. Van Dyke towering performance is one that depicts Zora's all these character traits, as well as having a vulnerability and zest for life. [more]

27

November 14, 2016

Gordon created the role of Gertrude Stein with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe in mind. Blythe’s monumental presence, thanks to a towering, charismatic, forceful voice, is meant to arrest and command attention. Blythe captures Stein’s complicated personality – her genius, her stalwartness, her humor and her occasional, brutal judgments about the artistic quality of her bon mots. [more]

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

November 9, 2016

Josie Rourke, artisic director of the Donmar Warehouse, understands the game’s complexity and what adroit moves need to be made throughout to maintain a psychological cohesiveness. Her deft hand is evident in her light touch so that the production is not weighed down by nastiness. Where Rourke falls down is casting Schreiber, who is known for his charismatic masculinity and not for being a jocund bon vivant. Valmont needs to be more calculating, as well as, effete. [more]

Phantasmagoria; or, Let Us Seek Death!

October 31, 2016

Benjamin Stuber’s puppetry designs are a disappointment and should be more thoughtful and complementary to the play. Ghoulish puppets that are meant to disturb seem make-shift and thrown together. There is only one disturbing and appropriately quirky puppet effect – the appearance of a huge eye, set into a collage background of assorted textiles. [more]

Ship of Fools

October 20, 2016

Visual artist and puppeteer Jessica Scott navigates through a satiric and fascinating new media “seascape” with a dysfunctional ship’s crew, albeit all women. Scott’s "Ship of Fools" uses nightmare structure, intentionally drawing from Book VI of Plato’s "Republic" (from whence its title came), Bosch imagery and other surreal allegories, depicting the fine line between heroines and madness. [more]

The God Projekt

October 19, 2016

In "The God Projekt," the “Divine He” repeatedly tries to make reparations for his past destructive deeds, but to no avail. God is wrestling with dementia and in a time loop. Yet, he is determined to correct, well, his god-awful mistakes -- one of which is not only acknowledging the “Divine She” in his heavenly order, but atoning for a heinous crime against her. [more]

Underground Railroad Game

October 11, 2016

Sheppard recollected that in the Underground Railroad game his fifth grade classmates were designated to be either Union or Confederate soldiers. The Yankees (Union) tried to covertly run slaves (portrayed as “black dolls”) from a classroom “safe house” to another classroom “safe house.” The Rebels (Confederates) endeavored to prevent the Yanks from accomplishing their mission. The end goal was to secret slaves or dolls to Canada (a school lobby glass case filled with memorabilia served as Canada). [more]

Bears in Space

September 21, 2016

"Bears In Space" is a story-within-a- story. An interstellar archivist, who collects “every story in the universe,” enjoys having his sons (Bertram, Darcy and Lady Susan Vernon) regularly act out his favorite tales. The Story Keeper, as the archivist is known, invites the audience to “bear” witness to the telling of one of his prized narratives from his galactic library -- "Bears In Space." The celebrated Irish theatre company, Collapsing Horse, employ their adept puppetry, comedic talents, linguistic prowess (including the fine art of punning and utilizing malapropisms to artistic advantage), and clever music making "Bears In Space" a delightful farce for puppet, improv, Disney and Simpsons’ enthusiasts alike. [more]

Blossom

September 13, 2016

Lott employs skillful puppetry, complementary video projections, innovative lighting and novel sound design to show the transitions between the present and make-believe. Five puppeteers (Robert Stevenson, Jamie Agnello, Rowan Magee, Chelsea Fryer, and Sam Jay Gold) carefully and exactingly portray the slow but sure disintegration of Blossom's mind. Real-time and imaginary time are each given their own set pieces through which Blossom explores memories and in-the-moment relationships. [more]

To Protect the Poets (The New York International Fringe Festival 2016)

August 21, 2016

"To Protect the Poets" shows how readily lines can be crossed when “street justice” is employed, instead of the judicial system. This first-rate, timely and intelligent play is a just representation of how two people who love each other deal with violent crimes against women and police brutality. [more]

Alice in Black and White

August 9, 2016

"Alice in Black and White" is a play-within-a-play. Two parallel stories are told: one of Austen’s life and relationship with Gertrude Tate, her companion for over 40 years; and one in the early 1950’s involving a Staten Island Historical Society receptionist and journalist Oliver Jensen, who later published "The Revolt of the American Woman" (which included Austen photographs) and a Life magazine article on Austen. [more]

Paradiso: Chapter 1

August 6, 2016

A new media and sophisticated ticket booking system is brought into play even before the play begins. In order to buy tickets, a theatergoer has to give out his/her cell phone number for text follow-up information as to confirmation of time and the Midtown location. The immersive theater is kept secret until the day of booking the event. The address of where "Paradiso: Chapter 1" is being held is texted only four hours before the participant’s allotted time. [more]

Men on Boats

August 2, 2016

In this swashbuckling comedic play, 'Men on Boats" takes an innovative approach by casting ten women in the roles of the first “white” discovers of the Grand Canyon. However, this was not a nod to the current trend of casting cisgender or transgender actors. The use of “on boats,” instead of “in boats,” indicates the state of being in which the actresses find themselves — a history panorama where gender and race play little part. [more]

Oslo

July 26, 2016

Bartlett Sher complements Rogers by punctuating the play with visual puns that substantially add to the drama and importance of the enfolding events. A dinner party at Mona and Larsen’s home is disturbed by two phone calls, ringing at the same time. Larsen fields a call from Israel and Mona takes a call from the P.L.O. Phone cords or wires are crossed, as Larsen and Mona exchange mouthpieces and try to arrange meetings and facilitate a place and time for the negotiations in Norway. [more]

The Lost Ones: A New Musical

July 12, 2016

Karen Carpenter singing her song, We Have Only Just Begun (to live), sitting on a stool in the afterlife takes the meaning of ill-fated to a whole new level. However, Karen Carpenter, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain singing Karen and Richard Carpenter’s number one hit, Top of the World, brought the house down. The staging of whom sang what verse and when was priceless. And, Greg Schlotthauer’s musical direction is inspired. [more]

Phoenix Rising: Girls and the Secrets We Keep

July 10, 2016

"Phoenix Rising: Girls and the Secrets We Keep" takes place in two worlds: the New York CBGB punk scene of 1985, and a dark, Greek mythological other world of indeterminate time and place. In 1985, a high school social worker by the name of Grace mentors an after-school, trauma therapy session. In the other world, the Archetypal Mother/Storyteller presides over her “damaged souls” and reads from an ancient tome, the “Phoenix Book.” [more]

Himself and Nora

June 29, 2016

James Joyce most always put himself first, according to Jonathan Brielle, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for "Himself and Nora," (subtitled “The Greatest Love Story Never Told”), Minetta Lane Theatre’s new Off-Broadway musical. Brielle explores the narcissistic and codependent 37-year relationship between James Joyce and Nora Barnacle (who later became Joyce’s wife). For a purported love story that defined a genius and mesmerized Joyce enthusiasts for ages, the two-act musical is lightweight with minimal literary biographical details. [more]

Christopher Wheeldon in Conversation with Rita Moreno: From Ballet to Broadway

April 30, 2015

On April 27, Symphony Space and Words on Dance presented “Christopher Wheeldon in Conversation with Rita Moreno: From Ballet to Broadway,” a delightful romp through the dancing career of one of Broadway’s brightest choreographers. The lecture was moderated and led by Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy winning actor-singer-dancer Rita Moreno. Moreno’s conversation with Wheeldon was prompted by a series of film clips featuring him as a young dancer as well as brief segments of his past choreographic work with the New York City Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the Wheeldon Company, and his most current work in the new Broadway production of "An American In Paris" where he serves as both director and choreographer. It is the fusion of his classical European ballet training, his love for American music, American dance stars, and American dance that Wheeldon has established himself as a leading force in the world of dance. [more]

American Moor

April 29, 2015

A play that has much opportunity to expose the relationship of casting director with actor, not merely across the table but across racial backgrounds and stereotypes begins as it promises. Enter Cobb, a large black man, anxiously awaiting the call of the casting assistant as he proceeds to unapologetically disturb the entire waiting room with his nervous behavior. The thought of playing Othello brings back memories of his youth and a single theater teacher unwilling to allow him to play any role other than that which he might be traditionally cast in for an assignment. As the character’s exposition is beginning to evolve, the casting agent interrupts us. We can tell the actor has an agenda to prove; that now as a grown man in this audition things will be different. [more]

The Visit

April 24, 2015

The illustrious Chita Rivera appears in an elegant floor length white dress and bedecked with jewels. The grande dame’s presence electrifies the audience. Unfortunately, with little to work with, she postures and delivers McNally’s lines the best she can. Along with co-star Roger Rees as Anton Schell, her lover from the old days, she breathes some life into the song, “You, You, You.” When she dances, the ball is back in her court. There is a magnificent moment when she dances with her younger self (Michelle Veintimilla). Sensitively choreographed by Daniele, they do a sweet dream-like duet with grace and passion, the highlight of the evening. [more]

The Belle of Belfast

April 24, 2015

The ample set by John McDermott is an intelligent divide between interior and exterior life, the run down streets of Belfast and a humble, wooden and warm rectory. Contemplation goes on in both places, be it perils of war or morals. Famed film director Claudia Weill returning to the New York stage establishes this well. Each character has his or her place and is well defined. Weill has a clear vision of the conflict at hand. Impressive music, explosions and street noise punctuate the scenes artfully with sound design by Daniel Kluger. [more]

The New York Pops: “Let’s Be Frank”

April 14, 2015

December 12, 2015 marks the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra. Sinatra’s singing career spanned seven decades starting in the 30’s until shortly before his death in 1998, winning him eleven Grammy Awards. Even those born after his death know his iconic songs such as “Love and Marriage,” which was used as the theme song of the TV sitcom Married with Children. Sinatra is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. He is considered by many to be "the greatest singer of the 20th century.” Led by the energetic and creative Music Director Steven Reineke, The New York Pops Presents "Let’s Be Frank" affectionately and admirably paid tribute to the prolific and unique singing career of Frank Sinatra with the help of four robust and polished guest singers, Storm Large, Tony DeSare, Frankie Moreno and Ryan Silverman. [more]

Martyrs Street

April 2, 2015

Shulman is a skilled story teller, creating characters that are real and complex: honorable people that make mistakes, some misguided, some well-intentioned or ruthless. People we all know, maybe even in our own families. Shulman makes the head of each household, two women, the focal point of the play. Noor, which means light in Arabic, is a widowed professor at the university with a 16-year-old daughter, Aisha, and a son, Nimer. She doesn’t wear a headscarf, and spends time alone with her late husband’s friend Salim (Alok Tewari), which is frowned upon in the community. Noor received an order from the Israeli government that her house is going to be taken down in 30 days. [more]

Irreversible

March 23, 2015

Josh Doucette, Hugh Sinclair and Jordan Kaplan in a scene from “Irreversible” (Photo credit: [more]

Lonesome Traveler

March 19, 2015

As principal narrator, Justin Flagg is charismatic and easily engages the audience in a sing along. He is impressive playing a number of instruments and wearing several different hats. The talented ensemble cast does a superb job playing a colorful array of roles and instruments, singing a cappella, harmony, and full out concert style. The costumes by Pamela Shaw astutely help tell the story. Several scenes revealed behind the scrim call to mind a Norman Rockwell painting. And you could be fooled by the sight of Peter, Paul and Mary. Marty Kopulsky (hair and wig design) deserves accolades for the many characters and eras to reflect. [more]

Long Story Short

March 11, 2015

Does love provide the strength that keeps a marriage bound, or is love fragile and, when it wanes, the cause of the failures in a partnership? Maybe it’s both? The new musical "Long Story Short," written and composed by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda, adapted from David Schulner's play An Infinite Ache, explores this quandary artfully. Skillfully directed by Kent Nicholson, this imaginative and fresh musical chronicles the ups and downs of a 50-year relationship between an Asian American woman and a Jewish American man. This aptly named 95-minute production poetically exposes the wonder and misery of a lifetime together. [more]

Sisyphus

March 1, 2015

"Sisyphus" played at the Abrons Arts Center this February, the newest avant-garde production from Experiments In Opera. Composers Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, and Matthew Welch (acting as their own librettists) created a promising concept for an opera, with a cultural abundance of Greek myth at their disposal to create a beautiful libretto. However, this world premiere was a case of more tragedy, full of missed opportunities, rather than inspiring. [more]

Fabulous!

February 24, 2015

"Fabulous!," which returns to Off-Broadway after a successful run last fall, is an unabashed gay mash-up of "Anything Goes" and "Some Like it Hot," where two best-friend drag queens, Laura Lee Handle (Tobias Young) and Jane Mann (DaWoyne A. Hill), working in Paris in a cheesy musical revue, witness the shooting of the star of the show. As everyone scurries frantically to get away, a priceless necklace falls off the victim and is retrieved by Laura Lee. The best friends flee the crime scene. [more]

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey

February 23, 2015

The fabric of the community of a small Jersey shore town is torn apart in the wake of the mysterious disappearance of young Leonard Pelkey. At first this one-man show, written and performed by James Lecesne, follows the lines of every crime drama you have seen. Yet, "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey" proves to be much more than superficial intrigue and ends up challenging the very conscience of society. The standing ovation and second curtain calls this show has been receiving in previews are already setting this piece of theater apart. [more]

TheaterScene.net Cabaret Honors: A First Annual List

February 23, 2015

The eclectic world of cabaret is unique in the entertainment industry. It allows artists' to connect with an audience in an intimate setting. Today, the clubs are ripe with new, rising and mature talents and the beginners who want to make it. But, who are today's torchbearers? Who will make their mark? And, who will take cabaret into its next phase? Time will tell. [more]

Snow Orchid

February 15, 2015

Pintauro’s play about a tragic American family is highly dramatic but lacks nuance. The four main characters are clearly defined in the first fifteen minutes of the play and remain static throughout. The dialogue is unnatural at times and makes for awkward lulls and pauses. As a result, the action becomes monotonous. [more]
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