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59E59 Theaters

The Drama Desk Award-winning 59E59 Theaters is the number one Off-Broadway destination in New York City. In the heart of Midtown, just east of Central Park, 59E59 Theaters is a spectacular modern theater complex with three stages and a lively bar on the mezzanine level. http://www.59e59.org/

Angel & Echoes

April 18, 2017

Presented together on the same bill, "Angel & Echoes" is part of the Brits Off Broadway Festival at 59E59 Theaters (where, it’s worth noting, "Echoes" originally played last year). As written by Naylor, enacted with ferocity and vitality by Avital Lvova, and directed with dispatch by Michael Cabot, "Angel" proves the far more effective (second) half of the evening. That may be because it’s told with an in-your-face immediacy and gumption that elude Echoes, which juxtaposes the lives of two different women, who lived in that region of the world at very different times. [more]

A Gambler’s Guide to Dying

April 14, 2017

“To some he was dad, to some he was mate,” says McNair, at the top of his monologue, “to others he was liar, cheat, addict, hero, story teller.” Over the course of the next 70 minutes, McNair will also do, with modest effects and a modicum of success, other voices including his much younger self, a schoolteacher, mates of Archie’s, and even his own mother. Through it all, the one thing we never lose sight or sound of is his love for his grandfather. [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]

Sam & Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant

March 19, 2017

Beckett lived in rural France, and his nearby neighbor, Boris Roussimoff, helped him build a cottage on his property in 1953. Beckett grew close to the family, and offered to drive Andre to school, as the boy was reluctant to take the bus. This was because he suffered from gigantism and was self-conscious about his appearance and his difficulty in fitting into the bus. By the age of 12, he was 6’ 3” tall and weighed 208 lb. [more]

White Guy on the Bus

March 18, 2017

Musical star Robert Cuccioli has to call upon his experience playing both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to become Ray in "White Guy on the Bus," a first-rate, new play by Bruce Graham, that has more than a stunning surprise or two, as it spreads out the story like a wild brush-fire burning out of control. His complicated and duplicitous “numbers man” character wants, from the beginning, to quit his high-paying job, and, like the French painter Gauguin, escape from the workaday world of banking and finance. “I don’t want to sell the house,” he tells his wife Roz in the opening scene. “I want to sell everything.” [more]

Kunstler

February 24, 2017

In "Kunstler," playwright Jeffrey Sweet recounts the defense attorney’s life and career in his well-written, comprehensively researched, and affectionate treatment. The conceit is that Kunstler is to address an audience of law school students at a university. Kerry is a young woman who is the vice-chair of the program committee attends him to him and becomes his foil, and is the play’s secondary character. This construction allows for a free wheeling manner of imparting the chronological details. It’s a solid take that could have certainly been at least a routine biographical exploration, but is undone here by the odd casting. [more]

The Dressmaker’s Secret

February 19, 2017

The playwrights have a keen understanding of this place and time, helped by the simple, but telling scenery of Stephen C. Jones, who also lit the small performing space to give the illusion of multiple settings. Molly R. Seidel’s costumes also hit the nail on the head as far as period and character are concerned. The glamorous dress Mária creates for Irma is in direct contrast to her own dreary housedresses, and Robert’s fancy western style suit makes Robi even more eager to leave Romania. [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]

Albatross

January 22, 2017

What Evett delivers—using ample quotes from the poem and robust contributions from himself and Spangler—is a terrifying inside look of the Mariner’s experiences, beginning with being hijacked by a friend at a pub. He breathlessly illuminates what the day-to-day life was like with lurid descriptions of illnesses and exciting second-by-second reports of battles with other ships. [more]

2017 LaBute New Theater Festival

January 21, 2017

Reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest while lying on a couch is Jay, a slacker-looking type in his 30’s. Sitting in the living room nearby is his 60ish mother who enjoys watching Dr. Phil on television and complaining about her ailments. Gabe McKinley’s Homebody is an enthralling black comedy with shades of Grey Gardens. Mother and son bicker, rehash recriminations and share their joy over the possibility of Jay’s novel being published. In 35 minutes, Mr. McKinley delivers a very well written, plotted and satisfying one-act play. It’s so pleasurable that a full-length version would be most welcome. [more]

Life is for Living: Conversations with Coward

December 24, 2016

Green’s dry delivery is in the Coward manner, crisp, almost spoken to the music, with impeccable diction. Shrubsole’s accompaniment supports him without ever getting in the way. The most famous song is probably “I Went to a Marvelous Party,” and there are five songs from Coward’s last all-original Broadway musical "Sail Away." However, there are also unfamiliar songs from "After the Ball" (“Something on a Tray”) and" Pacific 1860" (“I Saw No Shadow”), London shows that never made it to Broadway. In addition is “London Pride,” recently heard in the rediscovered post-war musical, "Hoi Polloi." Stand-alone songs include the poignant “There’s No More to Say about Love” and “I Travel Alone.” [more]

His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley

December 14, 2016

Raucous highlights include a jive reinterpretation of A Christmas Carol, “by Chazzie D, about a cat called Scrooge...who lives in Scrooge Tower.” There’s also Buckley’s irreverent take on The Gettysburg Address, “I’m a Lincoln cat.” Intertwined are Broder’s cool renditions of “On The Sunny Side of The Street” and “Georgia On My Mind.” He also demonstrates excellent saxophone and tambourine playing. [more]

Terms of Endearment

November 30, 2016

It isn’t until the second act of Dan Gordon’s stage adaptation of "Terms of Endearment," based on both the Larry McMurtry novel as well as the Academy Award-winning screenplay by James L. Brooks, that the play takes off. Featuring the now grown-up film star Molly Ringwald in the role of Aurora Greenway that won Shirley MacLaine the 1984 Oscar for Best Actress, the first act jumps around, skipping huge chunks of time as you can in movie cutting, but seems like something is has been left out on stage. [more]

Don’t You F**king Say a Word

November 19, 2016

Though the premise is an interesting device for dissecting the friendship between two men--for surely many men are curious how they are perceived by their better halves (self included), the play doesn’t aim to say much otherwise. Acting choices, pacing and thematics are all appropriate thanks to Lee Sunday Evans' seamless direction, but it’s the script itself which is the production’s biggest hurdle. Though there are some interesting and engaging ideas presented regarding the mind of the male, the untidy and nondescript ending make no attempt to make any significant statement about any of it, ultimately shrouding the entire production in a veil of murky, middle-ground mediocrity. [more]

The Collector

November 2, 2016

Healy’s treatment is faithful to the novel with a good deal of it being Clegg’s narration addressed to the audience. There are lengthy conversations between Miranda and Clegg, and her escape attempts are depicted. No matter how skillful Healy’s stage version is, it’s still two hours of often-philosophical talk between two characters in an unpleasant situation. [more]

The Clearing

October 16, 2016

Playwright Helen Edmundson whose stage plays have been mostly adaptations of famous literature ("The Mill on the Floss," "War and Peace," "Anna Karenina," as well as "Coram Boy" and "Thérèse Raquin" both seen on Broadway) tells her story in the leisurely way one might write a novel. While the material is both shocking and surprising, director Pamela Moller Kareman has undercut the inherent tension in the play by the choices she has made. [more]

Orwell in America

October 14, 2016

Grand highlights of Mr. Horton’s dynamic work includes an analysis of "Animal Farm" while he erases the novel’s seven animal commandments that are written on a blackboard as they are overturned one by one, by the pig Napoleon who represents Josef Stalin. There’s also a dramatic demonstration of American versus British rationing during W.W. II as Orwell produces bountiful American foodstuffs comparing them to the meager provisions allowed in Great Britain. [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]

The Birds

September 16, 2016

Unlike the original short story which was set on a rural farm in Cornwall, England, and the film which was reset in Bodega Bay, California, the play takes place entirely in the main room of an isolated house in New England. Stefan Dzeparoski’s production which puts the audience in the same room with the characters has its strengths and weaknesses making this an evening of mixed success. [more]

Maestro

September 16, 2016

Felder’s play begins with a video of the actual Leonard Bernstein delivering a colorful, yet entertaining, illustrated lecture on music. When Felder sashays down the aisle, a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, the lack of resemblance is, at first, bothersome. But, somehow, sitting at a piano—which he plays impeccably—his monologue pulls you into Bernstein’s tumultuous life story. [more]

Touch

August 27, 2016

Toni Press-Coffman’s "Touch" is a rather challenging play both in that a great deal of it is narrated in recollection and also that it deals with much naked emotion. The cast led by Peter McElligott who is onstage almost throughout the evening could not be bettered. Director Nathaniel Shaw has made this under-dramatized play into a more theatrical experience. While Touch will not be for everyone, it is an impressive document of the workings of the human heart. [more]

Summer Shorts 2016 – Series B

August 15, 2016

Richard Alfredo’s 'The Dark Clothes of Night," a brilliant parody/homage to film noir and hardboiled fiction, the third play of Summer Shorts – Series B, is so good it alone is worth the price of admission. The other two plays which precede it in this year’s 10th Festival of New American Short Plays have interesting but undeveloped premises. But "The Dark Clothes of Night" is an instant classic, a humorous satire that is also a brilliantly theatrical study in paranoia, fear and evil and the elements that made film noir irresistible. Directed by playwright Alexander Dinelaris, the three actors in this memorable short work play multiple roles with assurance and aplomb. [more]

Alice in Black and White

August 9, 2016

"Alice in Black and White" is a play-within-a-play. Two parallel stories are told: one of Austen’s life and relationship with Gertrude Tate, her companion for over 40 years; and one in the early 1950’s involving a Staten Island Historical Society receptionist and journalist Oliver Jensen, who later published "The Revolt of the American Woman" (which included Austen photographs) and a Life magazine article on Austen. [more]

Summer Shorts 2016 – Series A

August 1, 2016

As might be expected LaBute’s new one act, "After the Wedding," contains a shocker. However, when it arrives in Maria Mileaf’s production, it is so matter-of-fact that it has little or no impact. Elizabeth Masucci and Frank Harts play a married couple of six years. Named simply “Him” and “Her,” they alternate telling (different) versions of their years together without interacting. However, both of them recall an event that occurred on their way to their honeymoon which should have been a game-changer. For these self-absorbed people millennials, it was simply another incident along the way. Sitting in chairs facing the audience, Masucci and Harts are rather charming as the amoral couple but the play seems like a scene from a longer play not yet written. [more]

Hero’s Welcome

June 20, 2016

Now having its American premiere in repertory with "Confusions," one of Ayckbourn’s earliest plays, with the same actors in both, the production which is directed by the author is from the Stephen Joseph Theater, Scarborough, where most of the author’s plays have had their world premieres. This is a powerful and engrossing study of friendship, love, jealousy, competition and betrayal. [more]

Ross & Rachel

May 27, 2016

Part of the 2016 Brits Off Broadway lineup at 59E59 Theaters, James Fritz’s "Ross & Rachel" provides a more emotional, poignant and truthful story than what is expected when thinking of our favorite “friends” and their intense relationship.  Molly Vevers takes on the role of both partners in a relationship plagued by different viewpoints and dealing with life’s hardships as a couple. This very talented actress relies on wit, candidness and sentiment to tell her story and doesn’t hold back when giving audiences the complete picture – in both the joyful and difficult times. While most people go in thinking that the show is going to be a comedic portrayal of the couple we know and love from television, Ross & Rachel flips the script and leaves you pondering the true meaning of life and one’s identity while in the confines of a relationship. [more]

City Stories: Tales of Love and Magic in London

May 25, 2016

A seamless production in many ways, James Phillips’ latest is nothing short of ambitious, and Rosabella Gregory’s music is the perfect companion. Thoughtful and engaging, the enchanting collection of English fairy tales known as City Stories is a serendipitous affair. [more]

Echoes

April 25, 2016

Playwright Henry Naylor achieved prominence in Great Britain as a television writer most notably for the satirical program "Spitting Image." This work is not groundbreaking but it does very effectively depict the two women and their plights with shrewdly imparted historical and cultural details that conjure up exotic imagery reminiscent of David Lean’s epic films. Humor and tragedy are seamlessly combined. There are topical references to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, drone strikes and the British tabloids as well as 19th century specifics. [more]

Ideation

March 18, 2016

Taking place in real time, Aaron Loeb's entertaining play is in the mode of Paddy Chayefsky’s "Network" with shades of "The Blair Witch Project." It also echoes the explosive style and resonant themes of psychological moral complexities that Yasmina Reza theatrically explored in her plays "Art" and "God of Carnage." [more]

Connected

March 13, 2016

"Connected" is a series of short plays, each tackling our always-connected culture from a different angle. The first of four stories is about Meghan, a high schooler with a crush on one of the most popular guys in school. Midori Francis, the charming actress playing Meghan, decides to ask her crush to the prom and, after her theatrical prom proposal gets caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube, Francis’s timid teen reaches web celeb status, with her video collecting one million views in 24 hours. This story has a lot to say about what it means to be popular, and the juxtaposition of a down-to-earth girl rising to celebrity status opens the door to a thought-provoking conversation about the fickleness of fame, and the isolation that ironically comes with it. [more]

Dead Dog Park

March 3, 2016

At the onset of the production, each cast member is introduced by walking onto stage one by one. Starring intently out into the audience, there is a general sense of unrest to be found behind the eyes of each performer. The house lights of the theater are still on, and the piercing gazes coming from the actors scattered across the stage immediately destroys any notion of a fourth wall. The fourth wall, the theatrical device that the audience can usually hide safely behind, is taken away from the audience before the production even begins. There is no question: from the time the very first actor takes the stage, it is established that the audience is just as responsible for the events of Barry Malawer’s "Dead Dog Park" as any one of the fictional characters in the story [more]

The Good Girl

February 21, 2016

The chemistry between Gabriel and Baessato is fierce and electrifying as they get to know each other, and intensifies as Van begins to observe the human-like behavior of the robot and is determined to find out more. Anjali is hesitant to let him in on the secret, but reveals that the robot has developed an emotional bond to her, and sometimes responds to certain feelings such as loneliness and separation – often uttering the words, "don't leave me" through the door. Van is fascinated at what he finds out and the two join forces to figure out how best to capitalize on the service of the sex robot and how she can accommodate a greater (and richer) clientele by playing into their fantasy of the obedient housewife. [more]

I and You

February 4, 2016

So begins a remarkable comedy-drama of two very opposite teenagers who shouldn’t have met and wouldn’t have if Anthony had not chosen the reclusive, mysterious Caroline for his partner. The play makes use of opposites, beginning with the theme of the poem, love and death, and in Whitman’s typical fashion, everything in between. But Caroline and Anthony are also opposites in every possible way: pessimistic/optimistic, sedentary/athletic, closed minded/open minded, white/black, friendless/popular, careless student/straight A student. They appear to have nothing in common, but by the end of the play they are drawn to each other through the magical words of Whitman and Leaves of Grass. Ultimately, Caroline and Anthony have revealed their dreams, fears and true selves to each other and to us. [more]
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