News Ticker

solo

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

January 13, 2022

Her nine years on SNL would seem excellent preparation for "Search" which requires her to portray ten different characters alternately. However, although Strong has tremendous stage presence, she has not yet grown into all of the roles or given all of the characters (nine women and one man) distinct, separate voices. While still a tour de force for one performer, the play seems dated after 37 years with one scene using a coin pay phone and several references to the Equal Right Amendment (ERA), neither of which are in common parlance anymore. On some level, a good deal of the play takes place in the past (Betty Friedan, LSD, Rupert Murdoch, “I mean the Women’s Movement isn’t that old,” etc.) but as no years or dates are mentioned, it feels like it is taking place now which seems like a mistake. Without the intermission, the show presents too many stories to take in all at one sitting. [more]

I Just Want to Tell Somebody

January 11, 2022

He used the gimmick of preparing to perform the very show he was performing for his audience in the Cabaret Theater of the Theater for the New City; but by the end of his fascinating and grueling life story he was on fire with his tale of his life in the theater and film.  He grew up in the Sixties when the U.S. was in turmoil and it seemed that everyone was getting high. Smokey’s career began with a first prize in his Washington, D.C., high school talent show and some performances at the Arena Stage.  He quit school to try his luck in California but failed and returned to D.C. where he joined an all-Black repertory theater and appeared in his first commercial which he showed on a large screen.  Much later he appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s "The Cotton Club" as a featured musical performer.  His number in the film was shown proving he was an impressive dancer and singer partnered by Jackée Harry. [more]

Is There Still Sex in the City?

December 15, 2021

Although Candace Bushnell’s one-woman show, "Is There Still Sex in the City?," shares the same name with her 2019 novel/self-help book, the stage show now at the Darryl Roth Theatre is her autobiography telling the story of her life and career. Ms. Bushnell proves to be a vivacious performer with a great deal of stage presence, not surprising for a woman who was the model for "Sex and the City"’s Carrie Bradshaw. The show is both entertaining and revealing, correcting many misconceptions about the true adventures of the author. She also gets to change into a dazzling array of outfits by Lisa Zinni in an attractive apartment setting by Anna Louizos which colorfully lit by Travis McHale. And like Carrie Bradshaw she collects shoes which are in evidence in the shelves on the stage. [more]

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing

November 22, 2021

Performed as one long 80-minute monologue, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing also offers actor Jenn Murray little, if any, respite, laying on her shoulders complete responsibility for telling every detail of its emotionally unyielding story. Besides the girl, she must give voice to all of the other unnamed characters in the play, too, distinguishing them so that the staged version of McBride's novel, where it's impossible to simply reread a sentence, has an immediate intelligibleness. By itself, this feat is enough to make Murray's performance astonishing, but it's only the tip of her accomplishments. [more]

Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord 

November 22, 2021

But of course, looks are famously and frequently deceptive, if not all the time. Indeed,"Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overload" emerges as one of the most serious-minded plays of all, as it surveys what we all have been going through and having to endure for the past 20 months. During that period, as you may recall, there were various times when necessary facemasks were proving unavailable—and especially in different parts of the country. Wong made it her business to recruit hundreds of her “Aunties” to produce them and provide relief, ergo the self-deprecating description in her title. She may have been overseeing something akin to a “sweatshop,” but it’s hard to imagine her as a demanding “overlord” of anything. [more]

Lackawanna Blues

October 15, 2021

Employing his majestic vocal and physical talents, Santiago-Hudson supremely differentiates each of his brief characterizations with specificity and pathos. There’s also a poignant dynamic as he plays himself as a child and now at his current age. Santiago-Hudson’s staging is equally as assured as visually and aurally and the production is impeccable. Blues guitarist Junior Mack is onstage dramatically matching the spoken words with his skillful performing of Bill Sims Jr.’s intense original music. [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]

Yeah, But Not Right Now

September 25, 2021

Holmes’ songs include clever lyrics particularly “Facebook,” “I Can Be That Guy” and "Beautiful Girl in the Front Row.” His expert playing on the keyboard allows him to have duets with himself and making it sounds like many instruments. He also accompanies himself on the guitar and a drum. The show is a confessional in which Holmes reveals the worst, most embarrassing parts of himself which seems to be the latest thing with comedians, except this show is partly sung. However, it is bright and upbeat even when telling unlikable characteristics. Craig Bundy’s sound design is usually clear, but occasionally makes it difficult to catch the lyrics. Director Caitlin Cook keeps this one-man show moving swiftly along. [more]

Neal Brennan: Unacceptable

September 24, 2021

If a hallmark of our best stand-up comics is that he or she is unique—think of Whoopi Goldberg, Jackie Mason and Lenny Bruce—a relative newcomer named Neal Brennan belongs in their company. In his new work, "Neal Brennan: Unacceptable," directed by Derek Delgaudio, now playing at the Cherry Lane Theater—a jewel box space in the West Village—Brennan sustains his non-stop humor for 90 intermissionless minutes. This is despite our having been told it would only be for 75 minutes. But we welcome the 15 extra minutes. [more]

Ni Mi Madre

September 6, 2021

As his mother Bete (pronounced Bet–chi), Soria is bigger than life without a great deal of assistance from props, costuming or make-up. When he enters carrying an offering to the stage which is set up like a tropical altar to Iemanja, the Afro-Cuban diety whose picture is on the wall center stage, he is wearing a white linen skirt which he suddenly pulls up and it becomes his mother’s dress (designed by Haydee Zelideth). In English punctuated with pungent Spanish and Portuguese, sometime translated, often as not left unexplained, Bete tells us of her three marriages, each one unfulfilling, and of her children, her difficult son Arturo who from a young age wanted to dance ballet and was always getting into trouble, and his sister who always liked sports. We learn of her unconventional child rearing practices which was as much a tug of war with her children as it was a series of lessons in living, and marked Arturo for life. [more]

The Book of Moron

August 23, 2021

“Do I believe in heaven and hell or another parallel universe? If I parallel park in a parallel universe will I be double parking?” muses the affable performer Robert Dubac during his clever self-written comic solo show, "The Book of Moron." Dressed in gray trousers, a black shirt and a black jacket, the seasoned Mr. Dubac holds forth for 80 minutes with his appealing persona that recalls Mort Sahl’s topicality, David Steinberg’s impishness and George Carlin’s profundity. [more]

Charmed Life: From Soul Singing to Opera Star

July 15, 2021

She gets to sing everything from the Patsy Kline classic “Crazy,” “Respect” (made famous by Aretha Franklin), and “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess to generous, beautifully acted scenes from Bizet’s Carmen, her favorite role and the highlight of the show. The setting, a comfortable, slightly formal room (by Jaime Terrazzino) also includes a convenient grand piano played by John DiPinto (who alternates with Allison Brewster Franzetti), clearly delighting in collaborating with this warm-hearted diva. [more]

The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment

March 12, 2020

With its eloquent nods to conceptual art, good-natured comedic tone and superior performance, "The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment" is an intelligent entertainment. [more]

Incantata

March 7, 2020

Some books and movies and poems do not lend themselves to theatricalization, and that’s certainly the case with "Incantata," which is currently being given its American premiere at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Though it’s only 80 minutes long, it felt like an eternity--and not only because of the story--but also the telling. What’s even more annoying is that it tells the same poem, again and again, and seemingly again. [more]

Ashley Blaker: Goy Friendly

February 17, 2020

"Goy Friendly" is clearly meant as a light entertainment with lecture-demonstration components and succeeds as such.  It’s delightful spending time with this superb raconteur, even if he cleverly sidesteps the deeper implications of his subject matter. [more]

Happy Birthday Doug

February 16, 2020

Mr. Droege’s sharp and well-observed writing renders each of these familiar figures with biting depth, achieving grand mini-portraiture. Though preoccupied with comedy, an undercurrent of proportioned sentiment elevates the work above mere caricature. Promiscuity, aging, drugs, alcohol, loneliness and the past are among the issues eloquently explored in relation to the gay male lifestyle. Droege’s shrewd structure has each of the participants alternatively popping up to chatter while imparting pertinent personal details, fueling the semblance of a narrative. [more]

Where We Stand

February 14, 2020

Amidst the hubbub that includes coerced audience clapping and singalongs, we attempt to discern what the point is. It appears to be the story of an outsider who takes up residence in a rural locality and is accused of a crime;  the audience votes whether to convict or acquit him. Several audience members have been given pages of lofty speeches to recite. “The words your fellow Townspeople quoted come from Dr. Cornell West and Coretta Scott King,” states the program. Where We Stand’s 70 minutes are mildly engaging if often baffling and do make some impact. [more]

Border People

February 5, 2020

Hoyle has brought his most recent play, "Border People," to New York City in a production directed by Nicole A. Watson. It’s a work dedicated to people who dwell along borders of various sorts—“geographical or cultural”—and it suggests that no matter how clearly lines of demarcation may be drawn, they can seem arbitrary and sometimes strangely porous. Hoyle presents nearly a dozen characters in this show: diverse in age, gender, race, nationality, religion, sexuality and temperament. He includes people from one side or another of actual U.S. borders, both to the north and to the south. We also meet characters from the Bronx who live along the borders that separate the borough’s “projects” from the outside world. [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]

Miss America’s Ugly Daughter:  Bess Myerson & Me

January 18, 2020

More in the spirit of Carrie Fisher than Christina Crawford, performer Barra Grant chronicles her life and that of her famous mother in her engaging and smartly presented self-written solo show, "Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me." Nostalgic New Yorkers will have their memories refreshed while others might be delightfully informed. It’s a harrowing, insightful and often very funny 90 minutes. [more]

The Gospel of John

December 11, 2019

After marveling at Ken Jennings’ power of memorization, one has to admire his ability to deliver the entire text of "The Gospel of John" with unwavering clarity and devotion to its meaning both as literature and as a Christian lodestone. An agile actor (and singer), Jennings (the original Tobias in "Sweeney Todd"), deftly tells the story of Jesus as seen through the eyes of John the Baptist.  The actor roams about a simple raised platform in front of a rough-hewn back curtain made of wrinkled tan cloth.  What looks like a handmade bench—a subtle reference to Jesus’ vocation?—completes the set. [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]

Fires in the Mirror

November 17, 2019

The Reverend Al Sharpton, Angela Davis, and Sonny Carson are among the two dozen celebrities, cross section of New Yorkers, and male and female integral figures of diverse ethnicities that are given astounding portrayals by actor Michael Benjamin Washington. These simulations occur during this bedazzling revival of conceiver and writer Anna Deavere Smith’s acclaimed 1992 solo play about the Crown Heights Riots, "Fires in the Mirror." [more]

A Woman of the World

November 3, 2019

Kathleen Chalfant adds another feather to her cap as Emily Dickinson’s posthumous editor Mabel Loomis Todd in the world premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s new one-woman play, "A Woman of the World," presented by The Acting Company in association with Miranda Theatre Company at 59E59 Theaters. Staged by Miranda’s artistic director Valentina Fratti with elegant assurance, Chalfant is both fascinating and seductive as this real life woman who in the 1880’s and 1890’s scandalized conventional Amherst, Massachusetts, with her liberated and bohemian behavior long before such goings on became acceptable for women – or men. [more]

Bella Bella

October 31, 2019

Like a great many history plays, Harvey Fierstein's "Bella Bella" is as much about the present as the past, paralleling everything that's gone wrong now with what went wrong then. Unsurprisingly, it's also shamelessly biased, with the first word in the play's title apparently meant to be read in Italian as part of Fierstein's banally straightforward tribute to Bella Abzug, the feistiest of feisty 1970's New York City politicians, best known for her take-no-prisoners liberalism as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. One's enjoyment of the play probably depends on how prone you are to clap or hiss along with the rest of the unambiguously sympathetic Manhattan Theatre Club audience, even if it's only in your own head. [more]

Victor

October 16, 2019

The play captures emotions that many of us have felt, from unrequited love, to loss. Seldom are we allowed access to such a raw story and candidness. In a time where we shield each other from truths, this stark and unapologetic performance allows us to feel what Victor meant to Edgar. [more]

Katsura Sunshine’s Rakugo

September 29, 2019

Katsura Sunshine is the stage name of this charismatic 49-year-old Toronto-born performer who relocated to Japan and apprenticed to a Rakugo artiste. Mr. Sunshine eventually became a notable practitioner in his own right and has the distinction of being a Westerner. Sunshine is affable, animated and possessed of a pleasing fast-paced vocal delivery that demonstrates comic timing and dramatic heft with a Canadian lilt. This vocal expressiveness combined with his shock of jagged blonde hair, striking facial features that he contorts into a gallery of expressions enables him to command the stage. Wearing a kimono, kneeling at a small table and handling the hallowed props of a fan and a hand cloth, he evokes the genre’s essence with assured authenticity. [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]

L.O.V.E.R.

September 18, 2019

If you are put off by the idea of women defining themselves based on the men in their lives, then Lois Robbins’ one-woman play "L.O.V.E.R." is not for you. However, if you concede that there are women today whose mothers brought them up to believe that they are nothing without a man, then you will find "L.O.V.E.R." entertaining if not enlightening. Last seen Off Broadway in the revival of "Cactus Flower," Robbins proves to be a very personable and genial narrator of this semi-autobiographical story of love, sex and finding contentment. [more]

“the way she spoke”

July 26, 2019

Written by Isaac Gomez, who lives across the border in El Paso, Texas, "the way she spoke" is a one-woman show that fails to speak to us: it’s performed by Mexican film star Kate del Castillo who attempts to give different accents and vocal mannerisms to the various characters she impersonates, without much success. She is no Whoopi Goldberg or Anna Devere Smith, who were--and in Smith’s case, still is--masters or impersonation. [more]

Jacqueline Novak: Get On Your Knees

July 23, 2019

Dressed in gray jeans, a gray T-shirt and white sneakers, the gutsy seasoned comic Ms. Novak expertly paces, gesticulates and does wild double take after double take while clutching a microphone. With her soothing yet expressive vocal tones Novak confidently delivers her masterfully crafted material. It’s comprised of a multitude of classic setup punchlines, precise observations and breezy conversational riffs. The results are very funny and thought provoking. “Death is coming” sets off a somberly pragmatic rumination as there’s more than sex to her routine. [more]

Casting Aspersions

June 26, 2019

Passero’s expressive tenor voice, twinkling eyes, seasoned character actor presence which recalls that of Michael Tucker and jovial personality enables him to entertainingly chronicle his interesting life in 75 breezy minutes. The memory of his parents bringing home the original cast recording of Cabaret incites a smashing rendition of "Willkommen." It’s one of several delightful musical interludes with selections from Applause, equally as accomplished. A wicked Nicholas Cage is among his several spot-on impressions of those he’s been in contact with. Mentioned in stories are Paul Rudd and Leonardo DiCaprio. [more]
1 2 3 6