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Barbara Samuels

Dance Nation

May 9, 2018

Ms. Barron’s conception is more of an agenda driven fantastical tract rather than a well-crafted play with a cohesive plot. Her tone is of exaggeration and artifice with mannered dialogue that is intended to be hilarious yet thoughtful. A brief gag about "A Chorus Line" and a reference to the actual Telsey & Company Casting are some of the smug inside humor tossed in. [more]

Against the Hillside

February 8, 2018

The production is not helped by William Carden’s heavy-handed direction.  Scene transitions are punctuated by sound designer and composer Shane Rettig’s blaring, pulsing and overwhelming original electronic music. In near darkness, stage hands wearing black appear to rearrange furniture and set props.  This all becomes formulaic and distracting. Carden’s physical staging is rudimentary and the actions flow weakly. Most unnerving is that Mr. Carden has the actors speaking rapidly and being overly emphatic for much of the time and this sets an artificial tone. [more]

Orange Julius

January 23, 2017

On the one hand, it is a punch in the gut dramatizing the cold hard facts of disintegrating with this disease; on the other, the non-linear time scheme is difficult to follow, offering more questions than it answers. What "Orange Julius" really is could be described more accurately as a screenplay or a teleplay with cuts and fades. There is a powerful work hiding in this material but it still remains unshaped. Under Dustin Wills’ fast-paced direction, Jess Barbagallo, Ruy Iskandar, Irene Sofia Lucio, Stephen Payne and Mary Testa give fine performances despite the fact that the play seems to wander around trying to find its center. [more]

Caught

August 31, 2016

The beauty of Chen’s technique lies in engaging the audience in a guessing game that they don’t immediately know they are a part of – presenting them with certain messages that appear to be true, but challenge them to think about it from a different perception. One of the main themes is examining the different viewpoints between the Chinese and American cultures and how perceptions can be skewed. The result is a clever and eye-opening puzzle that teaches important lessons around the human experience in a shocking way by offering extremes. [more]

O, Earth

February 7, 2016

Nevertheless, Wills’ production is continually taking us by surprise both by his casting and his choices. His transgendered characters are played by transgendered actors. Moran’s Wilder and Angelos’ Ellen look a great deal like their counterparts, while Blankson-Wood and Heleringer as Spencer and Duncan, respectively, are a hoot as young entitled gay men who have totally bought into the capitalist system. “Mizz June” and Gentili, who are themselves transgendered icons, bring an air of authenticity to their roles as the colorful and outspoken Marsha and Sylvia. [more]

Patricia Noworol Dance Theater: “Replacement Place”

May 6, 2015

Four intensively self-involved, but personable, performers meandered on and off the stage which was glaringly lit by the geometrically arranged fluorescent bulbs designed by Barbara Samuels, their paths only occasionally crossing. Each was given or created a simple movement theme: one a stomping walk, another a finger snapping hip sway and a third some steamy hip-hop movement, complete with the usual badly rhymed “poetry” and a plethora of N- and F-words. [more]