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Articles by Christopher Caz

Christopher Caz
About Christopher Caz (50 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

Burbank: Walt Disney in Crisis

September 11, 2022

Although "Burbank: Walt Disney in Crisis" occasionally has its actors delivering monologues out to the audience, the most compelling drama occurs from the interactive scenes between the actors themselves; more of this would have absolutely been welcome. Nevertheless, the play does entertain and inform, revealing the financial struggles Disney went through to make such iconic films as "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," and "Bambi," even in the wake of "Snow White"’s success. Bossert also managed to squeeze in the fact that Disney attempted to block Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, from getting other work, in order to not “spoil the illusion” of the character. [more]

The Near Disaster of Jasper & Casper

August 30, 2022

As a piece of writing, "The Near Disaster of Jasper & Casper" is whacky and creative, and except for a couple of out-of-place bits of humor, one involving a middle finger and another a candle called “Blow Me,” it is charmingly humorous. The story even becomes lightly touching when Jasper’s love for his brother Casper is tested, and Jasper learns the real meaning of family and what it is to be responsible for others besides himself. "The Near Disaster of Jasper & Casper" is a thoroughly enjoyable, quirky fairy tale told by an expert storyteller, Jason Woods. By the end of this foray into the woods, it was time to go, I hated to leave, I had to, though. Worth a second viewing. [more]

Mister Miss America

July 16, 2022

D'Astolfo (that’s duh-STAHL-fo, mkay?), who also wrote the piece, sends Taylor off like a firecracker from the moment he comes onto the stage, speeding through Taylor’s wry and witty dialect so fast, why Mother of Jefferson Davis, he’s passing the fox! D’Astolfo’s dialogue is chock full of delightful West Virginian-isms, gay and regional. Taylor is described in the script as “wide-eyed and winning,” and this definitely describes D'Astolfo in the role. He also adds to the play’s humor in a totally different capacity as the voice of the wry, off-stage announcer and master of ceremonies. [more]

Queen

June 19, 2022

Shekar’s script is extremely smart, funny at just the right moments, and morally gripping. Her characterizations of Ariel and Sanam are fully formed, uniquely individual and carefully complementary:  Ariel is a crunchy-granola, bee-loving, single mom who’s desperate to prove Monsanto’s guilt, and Sanam is intense, strong-minded and honest to a fault. Through the character of Arvind, Shekar introduces the notion to Sanam that she and Ariel are looking at their study through the impartial lens of confirmation bias. The character of Dr. Hayes adds just the right amount of antagonism, almost sinister. Although there’s lots of statistics jargon in the script, it never impedes the progress of the story, thanks to the actors and director Aneesha Kudtarkar, who skillfully shapes the piece, finely intertwining the performances to maximum impact. [more]

Our Brother’s Son

May 6, 2022

Freshman playwright Charles Gluck, a retired gastroenterologist who has finally followed his dream to write a play, has turned out one terrific piece of theater. There is virtually no superfluous dialogue in this script; almost every line serves a specific purpose, whether it’s to provide key exposition, continue to build the play’s fully three-dimensional characters or to accelerate and intensify the dramatic through point. [more]

Wish You Were Here

May 4, 2022

In the 13 years that span this earnest, thought-provoking play, three weddings, fear, war, and death all serve to test the strength and sanctity of these women’s bonds. Toossi’s script is intimate, and searching, both funny and heartbreaking; "Wish You Were Here" is a beautiful testament to the strengths and allegiances women find with each other in times of turmoil and oppression. [more]

Bloom

April 26, 2022

Direction by Victoria Pérez could have better negotiated the script transitions and emotional shaping of the piece; however, script, director and actors, as well as lighting design by Miguel Valderrama and sound design by Michael Hernandez all come together to create a moving ending which comes with no answers but does provide a sense of closure. "Bloom" hasn’t fully flowered in this incarnation, but perhaps more will be revealed in future productions. [more]

Songs About Trains

April 16, 2022

As a piece of theater, "Songs About Trains" is earnest and unique. Lead author (and performer) Beto O’Byrne, along with contributing authors Eugenie Chan, Reginald Edmund, Jay B Muskett and Rebecca Martínez (who also co-directs) have constructed a work that’s not definitely a musical and not quite a play, but more of a performance piece which sews stories together with music, dance and songs. [more]

The Patsy

April 12, 2022

Greenspan, a six-time Obie Award winner, whirls at breakneck speed through this three-act play in just over an hour, transforming from one character to the next with expert fluidity. He transitions between the highly dramatic and entitled Grace, the histrionic and prideful Mrs. Harrington, the simple but lovable Mr. Harrington, the gentle and sweet Patricia, and the gangly, dopey gentleman callers Tom Anderson and Billy Caldwell, drawing on every gender-bending limb, muscle, hand, voice, look or facial gesture he can muster. Even the brusque Tip Busty and party girl Sadie Buchanan get their own unique treatment. [more]

Tiananmen Requiem

March 18, 2022

The play itself is suitably dramatic and thought-provoking; as a piece of theater it should continue to be presented to enlighten future audiences. This particular production isn’t quite up to the task of delivering the play to maximum impact. [more]

Barococo

February 14, 2022

Mandell’s costume and wig design are exquisite, perfectly defining each character in their own distinct look and style with numerous fabrics and colors and without overlap. Each of the actors’ performances are as unique as their costumes. Grastorf gets many laughs from her wide-eyed, innocently naivety (or just plain dimwittedness), and Mark Jaster’s puffy bravura and expressive face are delightfully campy. Mandell’s cantankerous bawdiness is perfectly chosen for her character, and Thomas plays the narcissistic Dauphine with laughable presumptuousness. Vernon’s pretentious, foppish roguery is spot on for his role, and Caleb Jaster as the simple musician interacts perfectly when called upon. Each actor’s facial expressions, gestures and gaits are very distinct and in line with their characters. [more]

The Collision / The Martyrdom

January 30, 2022

Throughout these plays there resonates an overarching message of female empowerment, a message that provides depth to the otherwise light comedy being served up. Nuns are habit forming, that’s what people say, and this viewer wanted nothing more than to run back and see this show again. [more]

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]
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