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Off-Broadway

The Widow of Tom’s Hill

November 8, 2015

In Aleks Merilo’s play, "The Widow of Tom’s Hill," human nature is tested in the face of a life-threatening plague. Under Rachel Black Spaulding’s direction, this play takes place in a small town off the coast of Washington in 1918, with audiences first meeting a young widow named Aideen (Lucy Lavely) struggling to provide for her young child. She must fight for survival and take caution against anyone who crosses her path. From the beginning scene, audiences can surmise the rough past she’s encountered that’s forced her to become her own soldier against the cruel, harsh outside world. [more]

Professor Brenner

November 5, 2015

New Worlds Theatre Project’s mission is to present English language translations of Yiddish plays as comparable to their contemporaries Chekhov and Ibsen. Now they have turned to a first English translation by producing artistic director Ellen Perecman of David Pinski’s Yiddish classic, "Professor Brenner," which appears to have had no previous production. The reason may have been Pinski’s frankness about sexual relations and the controversial nature of the subject matter for the Yiddish–speaking community. [more]

Ripcord

November 3, 2015

Holland Taylor and Marylouise Burke in a scene from “Ripcord” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus) Joel [more]

Perfect Arrangement

November 1, 2015

"Perfect Arrangement," Topher Payne’s first play to reach New York, is a well-crafted and engrossing play with much to say and has been magnificently staged in its Off Broadway debut. Don’t let the initial sit-com style fool you: this play has several serious messages at its heart about our personal freedoms and how repression starts at home. [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]

Travels with My Aunt

October 27, 2015

Havergal’s adaptation is unusual in that it uses four male actors to play 25 roles including the central role of Aunt Augusta, with all the actors taking turns narrating the story. Dressed exactly alike in each act, Thomas Jay Ryan, Jay Russell, Daniel Jenkins and Rory Kulz switch identities, nationalities, age, and genders in a madcap adventure told with decided British understatement. This is challenging for the audience as well as the actors: since the performers do not change costumes, it is necessary to follow the plot closely to follow who is who, with the actors sometimes changing characters in the same scene. Steven C. Kemp’s minimal but clever unit set is not much help either as it remains basically the same in each act throughout all of the outrageous adventures that unlikely hero Henry Pulling is taken on by his aunt. [more]

Empanada Loca

October 27, 2015

Rubin-Vega dazzles from her first moments on stage. She is sassy and witty while sharing her life story in a raspy tone to match the mood, and maintains this intense connection with the audience the entire time. All eyes are on her as we comprehend her past and are in suspense as we see her present life unfold after learning the secrets of this empanada shop. They are unexpected and gruesome and will make the hair stand up on your head. The lighting design by Bradley King adds to the haunting atmosphere as there are moments when the light shines just right on Rubin-Vega and all you see is her face in the dark. [more]

Barbecue

October 25, 2015

Robert O’Hara’s "Barbecue" may seem like a series of sleights of hand, but as a satirist of American culture, the playwright has a good deal to say about how the media shapes and defines our culture by how it reports the evens of the day. Under the direction of Ken Gash, Barbecue will take your breath away at its invention and cleverness while holding up the mirror to our natures, exactly what theater is supposed to do. [more]

Romance Language

October 24, 2015

In Joe Godfrey’s new play, Romance Language, middle-aged Kay (Audrey Heffernan Meyer) is searching for joy again after experiencing a divorce and the death of her husband. Kay’s grown and smart-as-a-whip lawyer daughter Penny (Mairin Lee) is worried about her mother spending the rest of her life alone and insists that her mom find some kind of productive hobby or class to fill her time. With the help of her attractive and charming Italian tutor, Fiore (Jared Zirilli), Kay soon finds herself a lot less lonely. [more]

Cloud Nine

October 23, 2015

What is most remarkable about Caryl Churchill’s time traveling comedy "Cloud Nine" is that this prescient play about sexual politics and repression is now 36 years old, though it could have been written this year. Still a challenging gender-bending play, it asks us how far we think we have come from the Victorians in our attitudes about sex and identity. Set among the British in Africa during the repressed 1879 in Act I and back in England in liberated London in 1979 in Act II, the characters switch roles, genders and ages in the course of the evening. It isn’t obvious until the second half where the play is headed or how brilliant Churchill has been. Cloud Nine (which proves not to be a nirvana for the characters) challenges a great many of our strictly held beliefs about the way the world is or should be. [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]

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]

Death of a Salesman in Yiddish

October 19, 2015

Although Arthur Miller grew up in a Jewish family, none of his characters with the exception of the antique dealer in The Price are explicitly Jewish. Yiddish stage star Joseph Buloff sought to correct that when he adapted "Death of a Salesman" as "Toyt fun a Seylsman" and presented the play in Argentina in 1949. In 1951, Miller permitted Buloff to bring the translation to Brooklyn’s Parkway Theatre where it was deemed a great success. Not seen again in New York until now, New Yiddish Rep is giving the Yiddish adaptation its Manhattan premiere in a slightly revised version in which the non-Jewish characters speak in English and the text is projected with English supertitles for a contemporary audience that does not know Yiddish. [more]

Rabbit Hole

October 19, 2015

With its realistic and detailed dialogue, Mr. Lindsay-Abaire’s very well constructed script is a superior work of playwriting containing many humorous and moving dramatic exchanges. It is greatly realized by director Maria Riboli’s sensitive, accomplished, and subtle staging. That the racially diverse cast appears to be an actual family is a testament to her talents. [more]

Street Theater

October 19, 2015

The downstairs of the gay leather bar, The Eagle, has been configured into a runway-style performance space with rows of white folding chairs. This setup is for this giddy revival of the panoramic fantasia "Street Theater" by Doric Wilson. The play takes place on June 28, 1969, before, during and after the Stonewall riots on Christopher Street in Manhattan. [more]

Clever Little Lies

October 14, 2015

Before coming to the Westside Theatre, director David Saint helmed this production at the George Street Playhouse. No stranger to DiPietro’s style (he also premiered The Toxic Avenger at George Street), Saint does an excellent job of keeping the pace up when it matters most. The physical comedy is subtle and effective, but is over-the-top in just enough places to keep the laughter going continuously. Though one can hardly call the comedy of "Clever Little Lies" 'smart'—it is more vulgar than anything—Saint employs many different tactics to elicit laughs from his audience. [more]

Would You Still Love Me If …

October 14, 2015

Is it possible to love unconditionally? While we all say the words and make those promises, sometimes we may be faced with a condition that we never saw coming and may not be strong enough to accept. In John S. Anastasi’s "Would You Still Love Me If…," modern couple Dayna (Sofia Jean Gomez), a hard-working and ambitious lawyer, and Addison (Rebecca Brooksher), a beautiful and talented writer, seem to be well on their way to the perfect life as they are trying to adopt a child together and working to create the home of their dreams. [more]

Hard Love

October 12, 2015

The revelation of the play is Mr. Lerner’s detailed knowledge of both the orthodox sect and its place in modern Israeli society. He manages to make the age-old arguments of secular versus religious fresh and human scaled, not judging either of the characters, but observing them. [more]

Believers

October 11, 2015

Donna and Chris, the couple under the microscope in this play, are portrayed by two sets of actors: the first pair represents the lovers while they are still in college (where they first meet), and a second set of actors play the couple twenty years later—married and expecting their first child. The way these two stories intersect is through rotation, as alternating scenes flip between the two timelines until both stories come together at the climax. [more]

Half Moon Bay

October 11, 2015

Under Margarett Perry’s careful direction, Half Moon Bay, challenges an audience to try and decipher Richie’s infatuation with Alicia and what type of relationship he wants with her. Her mysterious ways question if she even wants his help at all or if his obsession clouds his otherwise logical judgment. Dumeng is the perfect mix of purity and puzzlement when she doesn’t even recall where she grew up or who her family is. The only concern she has is her baby who was taken away from her as she worked hard at part-time job after part-time job to make ends meet. The audience is left to ponder what her motives are and if there is any rationale to Richie’s decision to invest in her life. The do-gooder in him is admirable but the price he pays to help this woman is heartbreaking, causing the audience to feel sympathy as well as concern for his condition. [more]

Be That Guy (A Cat and Two Men) 

October 7, 2015

Heavyset and with a sullen countenance, Mr. Marinelli plays Trey by ably conveying the character’s melancholy and witty expressiveness. The charming John Carhart as Keith is animated and gives a fully realized characterization of the contemporary middle-class gay man navigating through New York City’s difficult milieu. [more]

The Awful Truth

October 5, 2015

If this story sounds familiar, it is the plot of the classic thirties screwball comedy "The Awful Truth" which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. In fact, Arthur Richman’s 1922 play of the same name has been filmed four times including a 1925 silent version, a 1929 sound version with original stage star Ina Claire which has been lost, and a 1953 musical version with Jane Wyman and Ray Milland. As part of its 24th Season devoted to “Hope,” Metropolitan Playhouse is producing the first New York revival of this unpublished play, surprisingly as the original production ran a successful 144 performances. [more]

Reread Another

October 5, 2015

"Reread Another" is a collection of Stein’s sometimes illuminating, sometimes moving, and sometimes completely ridiculous linguistic portraits arranged into a series of discrete scenes. Spoken by three actors taking on various roles from sailors to shrubs, the text is an angular, twisting mix of paradoxes, circular logic, and contradictions that achieve satisfying moments of coherence when we least expect them to. Although the performance lacks any sort of cohesive story, it amounts to a shockingly moving evening, providing its viewer the unique sense that something indescribably interesting, perhaps even important, has occurred. [more]

The Quare Land

October 3, 2015

Mr. Maloney is a veteran character actor of stage and screen with New York City theater credits going back to 1964. This leading role of Hugh Pugh is a marvelous showcase for his immense talent. With a perfect accent, graceful physicality, and his grandly expressive face, deep set eyes, and prominent bald head he creates a riveting characterization out of Samuel Beckett. Visually and vocally he effortlessly combines humor, pathos and malevolence in this towering and memorable performance. [more]

The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains

September 30, 2015

The annual "The Pumpkin Pie Show" is back for its 17th year. Performed with no sets and no costumes, it has been described as “bedtime stories for adults.” Usually presented around Halloween (hence the pumpkin), this year the show has a run from September 24 to October 10. The reason is simply that creator, storyteller and writer Clay McLeod Chapman is about to become a father. The due date for his baby boy is October 31. As result Chapman’s scary and engrossing evening this year is called “Labor Pains” and includes five tales about babies from birth to childhood. Parenting has never been dissected so closely or seemed so chilling. [more]

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Pearl Theatre

September 29, 2015

If you thought Bedlam’s artistic director Eric Tucker had created physical productions for his acclaimed acting troupe in the past, think again. His "A Midsummer Night Dream," seen this summer at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and now in residence at the Pearl Theatre, gives the actors a workout from beginning to end. Whether all audiences will go along with it – it is tiring for both performers and viewers – is a question, but like watching a world-class circus or ballet troupe, you know at the end of the evening that you have seen an extraordinary imagination at work. Tucker just expects everyone to go the extra mile. This is not a "Midsummer" for people who have never seen the play before, but one for whom the traditional interpretation no longer has anything to offer. [more]

The Gray Man

September 29, 2015

Mr. Farmer has crafted a suspenseful and gripping tale based on the reality of child abduction with mythical overtones. The dialogue is very fine and is evocative of the era. The intriguing script has been tremendously elevated by the superb production it has been given that is comparable to visiting a Halloween haunted house. [more]

The Legend of Georgia McBride

September 29, 2015

Lopez knows these characters and how they speak. He is helped immensely by his director Mike Donahue who allows just enough comic exaggeration without ever letting the show become a cartoon. Paul McGill’s hilarious choreography for the drag acts is right on target. Donyale Werle’s single set is wonderfully adaptable, changing from the grungy dressing room at Cleo’s to its stage to Casey and Jo’s apartment with just the shifting of a wardrobe rack and a couch. Anita Yavich’s costumes are a show in themselves, maybe a bit too posh for the Panama City venue but a hoot nonetheless. [more]

The New Morality

September 28, 2015

When American born Londoner Harold Chapin was killed in W.W. I in 1915, he was a highly regarded actor, stage manager and playwright, although not as famous as his colleagues George Bernard Shaw, James Barrie or John Galsworthy. While he had completed four full-length plays, his early death led to an eclipse of his work and his fame. In the centenary of his death, the Mint Theater Company well-known for uncovering lost works of merit, has revived his major comedy, "The New Morality." While Jonathan Bank’s production is elegant and polished, this diverting play unfortunately seems lightweight and thin today. [more]

Rough Draft

September 28, 2015

Performed at The Wild Project, a stylish downtown venue with a raked stage, the set (John Lavigne), lighting (Robert M. Stevenson) and sound design (Jorge I. Sanchez) all compliment the production and enhance the overall experience. Co-written by Wittrock, Donovan and Custer, and conceived and developed by the members of Improbable Stage, "Rough Draft" is a piece of theater which remains in its own category; a challenging, creative, and unique work presented by a group of talented artists with a message. [more]

Fulfillment

September 24, 2015

"Fulfillment" by the always surprising Thomas Bradshaw is about anything but the contentment and success implied by its ironic title. The Flea Theater’s production, directed to emphasize its undercurrents of eroticism and anger by Ethan McSweeny, is both shocking and sad. The audience witnesses the almost classically Greek downfall of a man done in by his own weaknesses. Anger, lust, pride and greed does in the central character. [more]

Radio Mystery 1949

September 24, 2015

Could Dennis Richard’s new play "Radio Mystery 1949" be inspired by the Mad Bomber George Metesky who terrorized New York in the 1940’s and 1950’s? Otherwise, there is no explanation for why this mild recreation of a radio mystery show which is beset by a mysterious actor who may or may not be carrying a bomb is set in 1949. Aside from no references to the post-war period, there are also some anachronisms like speaker phones which came from a later era. [more]

Hamlet in Bed

September 22, 2015

The play is told mainly in monologues by both actors on microphones, alternating with rehearsal scenes from the Gertrude/Hamlet confrontation. This makes the evening more of a performance piece than a stage play. Once we are given the facts, the ending becomes very predictable though the actors are very intense throughout the play’s 90 minutes. Except for the battered white mattress, Rachel Hauck’s set is entirely black, as are most of the costumes by Jessica Pabst. Sometimes due to Scott Zielinski’s lighting, the actors fade into the dark walls of the set. [more]
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