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The Flatiron Hex

September 15, 2017

Dazzling hand puppets, stick puppets, marionettes and shadow puppets that are projected onto screens, which were all created by Godwin, depict this gallery of archetypal characters.  These are all fantastically employed by him and are on display for the show’s 80 minutes. [more]

Friends Call Me Albert

August 27, 2017

Billed as a “bio-epic,” playwright Zachary Desmond emphasizes the epic in his uneven though compelling approach.  Mr. Desmond affectionately imparts biographical details of Einstein’s life from youth to old age.  Particularly captivating are the sequences depicting his courtship and marriage to his first wife, mathematician Mileva Marić. [more]

Van Gogh’s Ear

August 21, 2017

Projected titles indicate place and year—beginning with Arles, 1888 and progressing until van Gogh’s suicide—which we hear as an offstage gunshot—in July of 1890. The audience is treated to Vincent’s thoughts on his painting technique, his poverty, his mental health, his fellow artists, stars, sunflowers, all interrupted by chamber music by Debussy, Fauré, Chausson and Franck played—in various combinations—by Henry Wang (violin), Yuval Herz (violin), Chich-Fan Yiu (viola), Timotheos Petrin (cello), Max Barros (piano) and Renana Gutman (piano). [more]

Lucky (Atlas Circus Company)

August 19, 2017

Watching Evans being bossed around by the tall beanpole Russel Norris, whether in an office job, cleaning a park or waiting on tables, was to watch classic comedy performed with brilliant, but invisible timing. (Credit choreographer Tyler Holobaski for his seamless contributions.) [more]

Ovo (Cirque du Soleil)

July 7, 2017

The Wall is also used by the performers who climb on it, disappear into it, and use it as both a platform and a launching pad. The most remarkable act is the finale – the “Trampo Wall” performed by the ten Crickets in green. A colony of Crickets run, jump, and travel straight up the four story vertical wall without artificial support. They also use air track and trampolines to take flight from the back of the stage to the very apron. One watches with bated breath in absolute disbelief. [more]

The Reception

June 27, 2017

Soon little rends in the fabric of normalcy became apparent.   Bits of dialogue are repeated senselessly and the five revelers keep returning to the same positions (three on a couch, one alone at the border of the space and one behind the bar).  Attempts at dancing get more and more inelegant, even leading to a bit of physical sparring.  Even worse, there is an intermittent ominous, crackling sound emanating from deep in the floor, as if the house were about to collapse. [more]

Derren Brown: Secret

May 24, 2017

It quickly becomes apparent that Brown is a master at reading body language--no less than facial and vocal expressions--to manipulate the many audience-members who participate and to read their inner thoughts. Brown’s patter is also built on an almost glib sort of false modesty, such as his saying, near the end, “This only works because we are story-focusing creatures.” Any given interaction doesn’t “work” because we’re focusing on the “story,” but because he knows just exactly how to get us all to see only what he wants us to. [more]

Beneath the Gavel

March 28, 2017

Bated Breath Theatre Company specializes in original works inspired by and in partnership with museum collections and exhibitions. However, this show about the fate of the “Haddie Weisenberg Collection” painted by artist Daniel Zeigler appears to be entirely fictional. Written and directed by Mara Lieberman, executive artistic director of the company since 2012, the play uses six actors in 43 different roles from artists both famous and imaginary, to auction house sales personnel and staff, to collectors to dancers, as well as having actors impersonate free standing sculptures. Ironically, 59E59 Theaters was at one time part of Christie’s Auction House and Theatre B was actually one of the firm’s galleries. [more]

See Reverse

February 22, 2017

Presented by the acclaimed Broken Box Mime Theater, "See Reverse" consists of ten short pieces with some even shorter vignettes sometimes in between. Lasting close to two hours with an intermission, it’s a lot of mime. [more]

Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi: Predictions Past Present and Future

February 11, 2017

The only real high-tech exchanges take place only three times during the run of the show. At the performances of February 6, 9 and 17, one of the roles in "Camera Obscura" will be performed telematically from Seoul Institute for the Arts in Korea and directed by Il Kyu Park. "Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi" which uses a great many sound specialists for little effect is an interesting idea but doesn’t go far enough either dramatically or in terms of modern technology to have much impact. As a cautionary tale, time has caught up with these plays and passed them by. [more]

Made in China

February 5, 2017

The ensuing journey is a bizarre and sometimes hilarious exploration of China and the culture within, even if it doesn’t always make the most sense. "Made in China" makes the most of the liberties that puppetry allows, and features some very impressive techniques and performances from the actors behind the scenes. Though the two main characters are both interesting, they are both made all the more entertaining by their canine companions. The two dogs, Lily and Yo-Yo (Dorothy James and Andy Manjuck among others) are completely lovable, and every single scene they are a part of is instantly heartwarming. [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]

Paris (Company XIV)

October 27, 2016

Company XIV has applied its inimitable Baroque-Burlesque style to the Greek myth of the Judgement of Paris for the second time and come up with Paris, an exotic and erotic adults-only entertainment that is like nothing else you will see this year. Conceived, directed and choreographed from the fevered imagination of Austin McCormick, Paris combines the arts of dance, opera, circus, theater, storytelling and high fashion to tell its story of the competition between the goddesses Athena, Juno and Venus for the Golden Apple. As you may know, the future outcome was eventually The Trojan War. [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]

Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities (Cirque du Soleil)

October 10, 2016

Cirque du Soleil's "Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities" has a wonderful premise and an eye-filling mise en scène. However, without the needed narration or program notes, the idea remains still in embryo. The problem one supposes is how to narrate a show that is intended for international audiences. [more]

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea

October 6, 2016

The live action elements of the show are performed on various platforms and screens on which are projected Deco Dawson’s designs which give the dramatization a 3-D look. In addition to 2 -D minatures, Miller manipulates tiny action figures (the scientists, etc.) and puppets (the Giant Squid, etc.) which are projected life size. Other moments take place in the audience. The audience is also asked to put their smart phones on mute to await developments. Among the magical moments are the walk on the bottom of the sea and the school of jelly fish. Aside from the marvelous visuals, the creators seem to want to have it both ways: although we are transported to a Victorian world, smart phones and computer monitors seem to work – although the younger members of the audience will most likely not notice the anachronisms. [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]

Toruk – The First Flight (Cirque du Soleil)

September 10, 2016

The show includes pole vaulting, giant flowers that rise up out of the ground, the building of the bone structure of the totemic Thanator, the high flying of the Toruk, a flock of birds played by kites, pulsating live drumming, two earthquakes, the lava flow, a three story water fall, and the rise of the river by which the Pandorans are saved. Along the way the questers are beset by various exotic animals played by 16 huge puppets (designed by Patrick Martel) which are manipulated from inside by the performers. As the trio travel from one clan to another, the environment before us morphs from one colorful place to another in Carl Fillion’s monumental set and prop design. [more]

Paramour (Cirque du Soleil)

June 9, 2016

"Paramour," the Cirque du Soleil’s stab at producing a Broadway style musical at the Lyric Theatre, is the circus equivalent of a jukebox musical. Instead of songbook—Beach Boys, Four Seasons, Carole King, etc.—this show is a panoply of circus shtick: juggling acts, trampoline chases, trapeze acts, contortionists, teeter board high fliers, etc. Although the circus bits aren’t truly integrated into the overblown plot—a rather silly "42nd Street"/"A Star is Born"/"Red Shoes" mash-up—it’s great to see the Cirque du Soleil performers in any context, but why the creators couldn’t dovetail the wonderful circus bits with an intelligent plot, is a mystery considering all the money that clearly went into "Paramour." [more]

Bianco

May 16, 2016

Frankly, the main difference between Bianco and its sister circuses is its ambiance and not the acts, wonderful as they are. Every circus has jugglers, tightrope walkers, silk artists and hula hoop masters, but Bianco presents them as people, not virtuosos (which of course they are). This philosophy sacrifices awe for user friendliness. [more]

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]

Port Cities NYC

May 10, 2016

On the ferry, audience members listen to a previously downloaded soundscape which includes a voice-over by Katie (played by Emma Meltzer) who has always seen ghosts and ends up investigating her family inheritance as an archeologist, plus a moody original score by Cameron Orr. Upon docking in the working port on the Brooklyn side, audiences walk three minutes to the Waterfront Museum Barge where the live performance begins on the pier in which four actors carry crates slowly towards us. The audience is then invited into the Museum Barge for the actually theatrical performance. [more]

Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey

May 7, 2016

Before the fascinating biographical exploration "Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey" begins, the audience is able to walk around the stage and see up close the totemic objects used in the show. Gorey’s fur coat, an old record player, an artist’s table, vintage luggage and trunks, shelves of books and records are among the items on display. The back wall of the stage is adorned with reproductions of manuscript pages of his writing and drawings and during the show home movies, animations, slides of his work, and images of his residence are projected. [more]

Butterfly

April 30, 2016

The show’s creator and director Ramesh Meyyappan also plays a character named Nabokov. The Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov was a renowned butterfly enthusiast. Naomi Livingstone plays Butterfly, a kite maker who hunts, kills and mounts butterflies. She meets Nabokov and they fall in love. Chris Alexander plays a customer who visits Butterfly’s shop and falls in love with her. Their relationships are ultimately marred by violence and tragedy. [more]

The Woodsman

February 15, 2016

The forest setting by Ortiz seems to envelop the audience as does the sound design which is created by the actors in tandem with violinist Naomi Florin who plays Edward W. Hardy’s melancholy original score throughout the evening. The impressive Bunraku-style puppets are the work of Ortiz who seems to be a one-man theater corporation able to do everything required himself including his co-direction with Claire Karpen. The only wrinkle is that at times it is a bit confusing as to what is happening since after the opening prologue there is no dialogue and some of the mime is ambiguous. However, the show with folk-style backwoods costumes by Molly Seidel and atmospheric lighting by Catherine Clark & Jamie Roderick is always theatrical, always hypnotic. [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]

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]

Pilobolus’ Shadowland

November 26, 2015

"Shadowland" follows the young girl, played to perfection by Heather Jeane Favretto, on a surreal journey, exposing her fears and pleasures, leaving her forever changed. A true collaborative adventure, the show is the product of the inventive minds of Steven Banks, Robby Barnett, Renée Jaworski, Matt Kent, Itamar Kubovy and Michael Tracy along with input from the original cast members. This resulted in some inevitable unevenness of style and a few too sudden changes in mood, but the mind-boggling complexity of the choreography and stagecraft (including superb lighting by Neil Peter Jampolis, constantly morphing sets by Neil Patel and very sexy costumes by Liz Prince) plus the witty presentation of the wandering storyline, makes for an overwhelming theatrical experience. [more]

Circa: Opus

November 12, 2015

The sobriquet “tricks” is probably not a fair or adequate description of the acrobatic feats these fourteen gymnasts displayed. Their tours de force included: balancing upon each others’ shoulders like giant totem poles; forming arches in backbends upon which others balanced; hanging precariously from ropes and stretches of cloth; and forming impossibly balanced sculptures. They hung off each other. They rolled on the floor and on each other. They formed lines and circles that communicated a certain sense of communal camaraderie, but little else. Gender didn’t seem to matter: women did as much lifting as the men. [more]

Big Apple Circus: The Grand Tour

October 31, 2015

“The golden age of transportation!” intoned the ebullient, mellifluous, mutton-chopped ringmaster John Kennedy Kane. Clad in a red and black striped waistcoat and a black top hat that he doffed later on for a white pith helmet, he was a commanding host. Assisting him for this marvelous journey were dynamic clown tour guides Brent McBeth and Joel Jeske. Mr. Jeske also wrote the sensational show and is a creator of this institution. [more]

Sisters’ Follies: Between Two Worlds

October 20, 2015

With a cast led by downtown icons Joey Arias and Julie Atlas Muz, "Sisters’ Follies" includes life size puppets, flying ghosts, music and dance, topless performances, talking masks, and spectacular recreations of their most famous productions. When we first meet them, they are ghosts flying about the stage in long white diaphanous gowns glad to be back in their theater. They then sing a duet of Irving Berlin’s “Sisters” with appropriately new ribald lyrics. From their clever banter, we discover that Alice (Arias) was an actress and Irene (Muz) a dancer who were continually warring over everything from billing to which of them received more flowers to their legacies. Self-centered Alice, the older sister, is always cool and collected while Irene, who worships her even though she always seems to get the short end of the stick, is more passionate and temperamental. Today Irene is remembered as having founded the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while the acting school they both founded, The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, is also very much alive. [more]
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