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Articles by Christopher Caz

Christopher Caz
About Christopher Caz (38 Articles)
Christopher Caswell hails from Austin, Texas, but has called New York City his home for over three decades. Seasoned cabaret soloist, longest running member of the award-winning pops group "Uptown Express" and contributor to ManhattanDigest.com, he shares his view from the audience for TheaterScene.net. http://www.ChristopherCaswell.com
Contact: Website

Wit

January 8, 2022

Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Wit, an exquisitely literate and dramatically poignant piece, would certainly suffer in the hands of less than able artists. Fortunately, the production currently running at The Paradise Factory is in well-talented hands and does the material proud. Director Brynn Asha Walker (who also provides sound design and plays Nurse Susie Monahan) has carefully shaped this production for maximum impact, cultivating Stage Four ovarian cancer patient/professor Dr. Vivian Bearing’s (Erin Cronican) gripping descent from dignity to death in a compelling manner. The lighting design by Scott Monnin coupled with Phoenix Lion’s projections of well-placed phrases from the script artfully provide mood and thought provocation, all enhanced by Walker’s sound design. [more]

Cheek to Cheek: Irving Berlin in Hollywood

December 6, 2021

This show is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Randy Skinner, and his four-time Tony Award-nominated talents shine throughout the production. The choreography is inventive, interactive, fun and impressive. His staging is well-balanced and keeps the transitions moving. The opening number, “Let Yourself Go” ("Follow the Fleet," 1936), sets the bar high with dynamic tapping that leaves the audience exhilarated and ready for more. Barry Kleinbort’s book is packed with interesting Berlin history and is full of charm and wit. Thank you, casting director Michael Cassara, for the great ensemble cast! Six performers were chosen to present this material:  Phillip Attmore, Jeremy Benton, Victoria Byrd, Kaitlyn Davidson, Joseph Medeiros, and Melanie Moore. All six actors move through the evening in harmony, both physically and vocally, interacting with each other in song and dance as though in conversation. [more]

The Antelope Party

November 14, 2021

Meyer’s darkly comic script is ultimately terrifying, a nod to Orwell and a brilliantly satirical parable which is uncannily prescient in today’s political climate. Director Jess Chayes brings the best out of each of the actors, and finely shapes the delicate arc which begins with laughs and rainbows and descends into fear and suspicion. The costumes by Kate Fry keenly capture each character. The sets by Yu-Hsuan Chen efficiently reflect the simplicity and humble economy of the characters’ environment, and effect some extremely smart scene transitions, one which was so clever it evoked a quiet murmur from the audience. [more]

Odd Man Out

November 11, 2021

Without the benefit of sight, one must strain to listen more closely in order to understand the events of the play; footsteps, cane taps, ball bounces, far off music, distant voices and other incidental sounds make much more of an impact in the story, sounds that would have held less significance when simply watching a play. The original music by Mirko Mescia sounds even more beautiful when listened to without visual distraction, including a notably gorgeous guitar piece played by Roberto Ariel Cáceres during an especially transporting interlude. All told, the binaural sound design by Nicolas Álvarez was robust and inventive, providing an amazing, three-dimensional sound experience of Alberto’s world. The audience isn’t just treated to sounds to fill the gaps of sight. Smells of coffee, tangerines, and celery soup waft by when such things are mentioned, and drops of water are felt in relevant moments. These visceral layers greatly enhanced the experience of this production. [more]

The New York Pops Underground Cabaret featuring Max von Essen

October 9, 2021

Von Essen did sing a couple of songs from a living composer, one Andrew Lloyd Webber. He relayed the story of going on for Ricky Martin in Evita, where the curtain had to be held so that all the box office refunds could be processed; he won the sympathy of every ear in the house on that retelling. He also declared that although auditions for both the parts of Raul and the title character of "The Phantom of the Opera" did not yield successful results for the Broadway production, he did get to play said Phantom in "Love Never Dies," which was a perfect segue to “Till I Hear You Sing.” It seemed the evening was specifically shaped to present this “power ballad” as the 11 o’clock number, and von Essen truly pulled out his most formal, rich and dramatic voice for it, earning him spontaneous applause in the middle of the song and even a few standing ovations afterward. As for the other Webber song, well, I did not think I’d ever want to hear this song again, in or out of its "Evita" context; yet von Essen put Magaldi completely aside and sang a most stunningly beautiful and exquisite version of “On This Night of a Thousand Stars” as one could ever imagine hearing. His sublime and subtle tenor notes were completely glorious, and this song became the superlative number of the evening for this listener. [more]

Polylogues

September 27, 2021

Each interviewee’s name is projected onto the back wall as Clark carefully transitions between the 21 people she’s interviewed; young, old, male, female, cis- or otherwise. This is a large number of roles for one person to play, so there is some blurring of “characterizations”; nonetheless, Clark establishes an effective conduit for what is ultimately most important: the messages that these individuals share about their experiences and varying successes with non-monogamy and/or polyamory. The direction by Molly Clifford seamlessly shapes the evening into an effective delivery device for thoughts on an intriguing subject. [more]

Blackbird

September 20, 2021

In his thankless role as Ray, Grossman’s performance is perpetually defensive, harried and out of breath. As unlikable a character as Ray is expected to be, Grossman doesn’t quite manage to bring enough variation, warmth, or earnestness to the part to engender the compassion or believability needed to sustain it. Ravera seems physically uncomfortable in the character of Una. She speaks her lines with intention, but she awkwardly drags herself around the stage as though she’s never worn heels before, and her body belies her words, words which are sometimes lost in her thick accent and lack of projection. It’s surprising to see tears come to her eyes when there doesn’t seem to be enough organic truth coming out of her lines to warrant them. [more]

The Karens

August 17, 2021

Fortunately, good things come to those who wait, even after an hour and a half. The play suddenly takes a turn when Karen X has a breakdown behind a dumpster at Whole Foods. Karen X may have been talking about her complexion in the opening scene when she tells Karen Y that “black don’t crack,” but in this scene it is her core that is cracked open, when she realizes her life is as empty and pointless as she’s always feared. “#influence me, please?,” she begs of God, as flies buzz around her head. It is a brilliant scene, and Day is brilliant in it. [more]

Judgment Day

July 27, 2021

As Sammy, Jason Alexander’s exquisite comic genius delivers like gangbusters, a delivery which gets even richer in some subtler moments when Sammy surprises himself with some honest emotions. Father Michael is superbly acted by Santino Fontana, who is the perfect straight man to Alexander’s dastardly Sammy. Justina Machado gives a fiery, honest and earnest portrayal as Tracy, the abandoned wife, standing up to Sammy and shining in her own light. Julian Emile Lerner is spot on as the moody Casper; together, he and Alexander strike an excellent rapport as father and son. Patti LuPone deliciously cackles her way through the modestly sized part of Sister Margaret, making every moment count. Loretta Devine also provides some gratifying deadpan moments as Sammy’s secretary Della. [more]

X the Experience

March 28, 2021

The music by Manuel Pelayo, Giancarlo Bonfanti and Katz sets an eerie, futuristic tone that, combined with numerous dance and visual elements, presents X the Experience like a long MTV video with some thoughtful concepts acted out in between. X the Experience posits the interesting question as to whether human beings can ever truly give up their “personal provocative narrative” in favor of any greater good, and writer Veasey’s script successfully puts this notion forward, when the script is in progress. If you’ve got the time and especially the patience, check out X the Experience. [more]

A Day

November 18, 2020

Chapdelaine’s writing is funny and sincere, thought-provoking and smart. There is a suggestion in the script that these four individuals could all be different facets of the same person, and in retrospect some staging and props do support that, but the suggestions are so subtle that they are easily dismissed as coincidence, perhaps intentionally. There is so much finely crafted personality in the characters’ dialog and narrative, and the overarching themes of isolation, desperation and loneliness are beautifully presented in the writing, performances and direction. Kudos on a fine production to all, and to the Cherry Artists’ Collective. [more]

Tomorrow We Love

March 11, 2020

There is plenty of over-the-top acting, physical antics and far-fetched story lines, all perfectly acceptable ingredients for a zany gender-bending farce. The only thing missing are the laughs. Even the high school-quality set design by Ryan Goff and delightful costumes by Jimmy Moon are on par for this campy send up of a 1950’s rom-com. Ultimately, Vause’s script reads funnier than it plays, so there is more amiss than the smoking gun in this screwball comedy. [more]

Bundle of Sticks

March 6, 2020

One of the most interesting attributes of this play (apart from the clever title being a less common and unharmful definition of the word “faggot”) is playwright J. Julian Christopher’s insistence that none of the characters be portrayed by cisgendered men. The most significant effect of this casting is demonstrated in scenes when the men are supposed to be naked and interacting with each other in sexual ways. Where true male nudity and sexual touching would have simply been gratuitous and distracting, clever costuming (presumably) provided by production designer Meghan E. Healey has the characters wearing body suits, onto which sequined phalluses and scrotums of different colors and sizes have been sewn. Each suit sports a large nipple and a heart as well. The depiction of sex and sexuality thus become representational and symbolic, allowing the play and its language to proceed unimpeded by gawking. [more]

The Sickness

February 17, 2020

Even before the playwright pays homage to William S. Burrough’s "Naked Lunch" through this last line, one is already drawing comparisons to the psychotic, structureless existence of that novel, and wondering whether there is anything more to "The Sickness" than the eventual demise of two wasted lives of X and Y. Later that evening my theater companion admitted to thinking, “die already” at some point during the play, because there seemed to be nothing else happening. The audience is given no reason to like the characters, no reason to think they’re ever going to change and no reason to root for their survival; all that they’re left with is the desire for the play to end. [more]

Doctors Jane and Alexander

February 4, 2020

Additional credit can be given to Simon and Wolkowitz’s performances by the excellent supporting cast and Einhorn’s writing. The script's one weakness appears to be an insistence on providing an overabundance of mind-numbing facts about blood-type science, details which ultimately don’t lend themselves to the overarching tale of one man’s search for value and importance in his dreams, those of his family that came before him, and the question of whether he will leave anything other than a legacy of his children’s memories. [more]

BOOM

January 22, 2020

Employing an impressive array of voices and mannerisms, and only sometimes augmented with a wig or article of clothing, Miller as “Narrator” impersonates numerous performers, personalities, and politicians of the era, voicing every commercial and even dubs his own parents in short video clips at the very beginning of the piece. “100 voices. 25 years. 1 man,” the publicity statement declares, and Miller doesn’t disappoint. [more]

A City of Refuge

December 17, 2019

The story itself has potential, yet despite the actors’ heroic attempts to bring truth to it, the script has its characters written to say and do so many unrealistic things that the core authenticity of what’s unfolding can’t be upheld. Physical and emotional boundaries get crossed in questionable ways, and unreasonable demands are made to unbelievable responses. Characters drop vague references and make mysterious insinuations, demonstrating resentment and distrust in each other without explanation. Understanding who is what to whom just takes too long to be revealed, and the audience must buffer so many mysterious references and unexplained pieces of information for so long that by the time the play concludes with a battery of accusations and revelations, the audience isn’t sure what’s happening and thrown up its hands in disbelief. [more]

The Santa Closet

December 10, 2019

Houses on the Moon Theater Company’s delightful and earnest mission is to “dispel ignorance and isolation through the theatrical amplification of unheard voices.” "The Santa Closet," another one-man show written and performed by the company’s co-founder Jeffrey Solomon, doesn’t reach the lofty goals of some of his other plays; however, the newly updated, tenth-year anniversary production of this frothy, zany tale is nevertheless aloft with quite a few grins and chuckles. [more]

The Giant Hoax

November 30, 2019

"The Giant Hoax" is a charming morality tale about telling the truth and growing up. The expert hands of director Christopher Michaels and choreographer Molly Model are clearly at work in all aspects of this production, bringing a touching story with affable songs and clever lyrics to life with a cast of first rate actors, a fine ensemble, and inventive and humorous choreography. This show will never get any bigger than it is, but it’s big enough to fill the hearts of its audience to bursting, as long as actors of this production’s caliber are playing it. [more]

Confidence (and the Speech)

November 24, 2019

Political plots can be dry as toast. Hatem attempts to spice things up by crossing the genders of the actors playing Carter and young Cynthia; the convention is an interesting choice although it really doesn’t add any new light to the characters or story and is sometimes distracting.  Not to worry, though, the script is smart, imaginative, humorous at the right times and keeps its audience interested. [more]

Monsoon Season

October 31, 2019

Vieh’s script is extremely clever in its telling two sides of a story completely by separate monologues. The dialogue is real and yet extremely funny, never revealing too much, allowing the audience to piece together what’s going on as the actors deliver their lines with impeccable timing and tumult. [more]

The Worth of Water

October 17, 2019

Rocky execution aside, the play is not without humor, imagination, charm and whimsy, and the same can be said about the designs by Jessie Bonaventure (scenic), Johanna Pan (costumes), Kelley Shih (lighting), and Brian Heveron-Smith, (sound), all of which work well together to allow this tale to be told. The play’s wonderfully emotional climax which has Elle, Rebecca and Ethel casting off the shackles of their lives into the winds of an oncoming storm is absolutely jubilant and makes the entire evening worthwhile. [more]

All the Rage

September 21, 2019

Both Moran and his script are disarming, captivating, touching, and thought-provoking. The audience cranes to hear his every truth-packed word, feeling his moments of joy and triumph as well as those of disappointment, resignation and, yes, even anger. [more]

Reborning

July 16, 2019

There is a prevailing sense that the script tries to cover too much intellectual ground on the topic of reborning in too short a time frame, placing a burden on the characters to experience more than would seem realistic in an ordinary world. Nevertheless, through the efforts of the actors and valiant direction by Triolo, this dark play does succeed in bringing to light some of the complexities of motherhood, child loss and abandonment through the very unique reborning lens. Check it out for yourself. [more]

Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson

June 24, 2019

A decade has passed since the much-criticized AT&T vs. Verizon commercials starring Luke Wilson took to the airwaves, but playwright Rob Ackerman has chosen to bubble up their essence into his whimsical, off-the-wall new play, "Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson," helmed by Theresa Rebeck in her New York directorial debut. [more]

Open

June 19, 2019

Skillman unfolds an achingly beautiful story, dropping bits and pieces of Kristen’s thoughts and memories as she balances her tightrope of love, commitment, sacrifice and transformation. Hill’s performance as Kristen is funny, honest, compelling and heartbreaking; one cannot take their eyes off her, and it’s not because she is the sole occupant of the stage. [more]

The Pink Unicorn

May 18, 2019

Alice Ripley (Best Actress Tony Award winner for "Next to Normal") is, in a word, astounding. Her Trisha is brimming with curiosity, honesty, humor and grace; she is inspiring to watch and simply amazing. Edie’s characterization of Trisha is delicate and poignant, funny and sincere; her illuminating script is sheer writing perfection. [more]

The Buffalo Play

May 13, 2019

Folks, this is no ordinary play, and it's not for everyone. Call it an absurd commentary, a daydream, a nightmare, a fantasia, a memory play--come see it and decide what you want to call it. [more]

Perp

April 2, 2019

Alexandro and Ben-Victor as the soul-stained detectives are excellently cast, playing off each other without a single misstep. The gender-blind casting of Alexandro as Jack is especially funny when she gets to deliver the hilarious line “I got a hard on a mile long” without blinking. Grant is brilliant as the soulful felon Myron, locked away for an unknown crime but brimming with goodness. Molina is spot-on as the creepy, anguished killer looking for love and redemption. [more]

The New York Pops: “Movie Mixtape: Songs from the Silver Screen”

March 20, 2019

The evening’s vocal guests are exceptionally strong singers, although their talents are not equally evident in a concert format. Silverman probably shines best in a book show, as well as Osnes, although she did demonstrate more spontaneity and connection with the audience. Kilgore brought even more freedom, energy and levity, and Large’s vocal and physical presence was sheer dynamite, and never to the detriment of ensemble moments. The amazing caliber of The New York Pops itself cannot escape mention; its underscoring of each of the singers was exquisite. Their ad hoc dedication to the late Michel Legrand and Andre Previn with a superb “The Summer Knows” (Michel Legrand/Marilyn and Alan Bergman, The Summer of ‘42, 1971) and the second act opener Disney Classics Overture were wonderful moments featuring its amazing musicians. [more]

Fiercely Independent

March 12, 2019

Let’s talk about the talent:  Gallogly and Smith are, in a word, fantastic in "Fiercely Independent." They listen to each other intently, their responses are spontaneous and natural, and their chemistry is evident. Even when they’re not speaking, their inner dialogues are continuous and their intents are crystal clear. Gallogly and Smith are by turns playfully fun and painfully electric. [more]

Twelfth Night (Frog & Peach Theatre Company)

March 1, 2019

As directed by Benson, special mention goes to Primack, Quint, Payne, and Wexler for their strong and playful commitment to their characters, followed by the efforts of Mazzoccone, Porter and Belch. All the actors can be credited with bringing moments of levity and ingenuity to their parts. Favorite line in the whole play--an aside from Fabian, delivered expertly by Ungar--“If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.” Ship sailed! [more]

Bonnie’s Last Flight

February 15, 2019

"Bonnie’s Last Flight" peppers its character moments with humorous sketches and air travel anecdotes. Some don’t hit their mark, but most do. There’s an especially amusing and thoughtful moment where the audience is handed landing cards on which they’re invited to “lighten their emotional luggage upon arrival.” All “passengers” are asked to “write down whatever’s been weighing you down: a fear, a hurt, a grudge, anything you’re ready to let go of—anything to lessen the emotional kilos you carry around. When we do our trash collection shortly we will also take the emotional waste you wish to dispose of. Namaste.” I’m quite certain every person in the audience felt better after their card was taken out with the trash, present company included. [more]
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