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Mika Eubanks

Flex

August 1, 2023

Whether you follow basketball or not, Candrice Jones’ "Flex" is exciting theater. Actually, the play is not only about women’s high school basketball but also passions, future plans, romance, sex, ethics, friendships, rivalries, betrayals, and possible dreams deferred for all of the play’s five teammates as we follow them from their home town games in Plainnole to the 1997-98 Arkansas High School State Championship. Using a cast of relatively unfamiliar performers all of whom are making their Lincoln Center Theater debuts, director Lileana Blain-Cruz best known for her work on new plays has kept the performance as taut as a real game throughout its two hours and 20 minutes length. [more]

Tosca (Heartbeat Opera)

April 20, 2023

Just when you think you’ve seen an opera so many times you can’t imagine it being told anew along comes Heartbeat Opera with a riveting take on Puccini’s "Tosca."  Director Shadi G. sets it as a thriller in Teheran, Iran with a cast of singers trying to get through a performance in defiance of the censors. The opera "Tosca" has always been set under a dictatorship of an authoritarian regime. It is usually set 1800 with the Kingdom of Naples’s control of Rome threatened by Napoleon’s invasion of Italy. The Heartbeat production underlines the usual terror with Irani police officers in shadows, hidden in stairwells and behind stage entrances ready to arrest the performers if they do anything outside the strict code of ethics and behavior in the Irani culture. This added layer to the story provides a lot of exciting running exits into the audience to avoid capture by the authorities. [more]

Arden of Faversham

March 25, 2023

The problem with this production is that although the characters’ behavior is utterly outrageous on the verge of satire, Berger has directed in so flat and bland a style, that shocking lines that should get embarrassed laughter fail to make any impression. Has Berger directed the play absolutely straight knowing that his audience is unlikely to be familiar with it? It would be more fun and rewarding if was as over-the-top as the murderers’ plotting. [more]

Amani

February 25, 2023

Denise Manning as Amani is totally believable as a 9-year-old who has had to grow up quickly without parents and her naiveté about love as she maneuvers through growing pains is touching. Her scenes with her father move from precocious to acutely heartfelt to ultimately switching roles when she has to lay down tough love right back at him. It is a performance layered with so many emotions all at once. Although the play is performed without an intermission, it is clearly broken up into three acts, with the second act culminating in a “I deserve to live” soliloquy for Amani that, as performed by Ms. Manning, is breathtaking in its scope. [more]

Twelfth Night (The Classical Theatre of Harlem)

February 14, 2023

When the Countess Olivia played by glamorous Christina Sajous declares “How wonderful!” in the final scene of The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s return engagement of its production of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," she most likely has the whole audience in agreement. Director Carl Cofield has created a colorful, imaginative and humorous staging of a romantic comedy classic that usually has two melancholy leading characters and is not very funny. Add music and dance to the talented cast led by the dynamic Kara Young as well as visual stage pictures which are very cinematic and you have a top-notch revival for audiences of all ages. [more]

Queens Girl in the World

April 11, 2022

Whether frenetically dancing, rhapsodizing over Nancy Drew, fretting about when she’ll wear a bra or reacting horrified upon learning about sex, Ms. Curry performs with the verve of Lily Tomlin in her prime. Curry’s rich portrayal of Jaqueline Marie Butler captures the wonderment of childhood amidst harsh realities and the physical and emotional upheavals of adolescence. A matter-of-fact confession that Jaqueline has been molested is a chilling highlight. With her wide-eyes, expressive facial features, limber physicality and vocal prowess, Curry often rapidly achieves distinctive characterizations of the dozen other figures in the play. The wizardry of Mika Eubanks’ costume, hair and makeup design all visually enhance Curry’s performance. [more]