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Sheryl Liu

The Brothers Paranormal

May 5, 2019

Is a young Asian woman a ghost or a melancholiac’s hallucination? That is the haunting question vividly answered in playwright Prince Gomolvilas’ gripping thriller "The Brothers Paranormal" which crackles with tension from start to finish. It’s a masterfully written synthesis of "Blithe Spirit," "The Amityville Horror" and "The Sixth Sense" with shades of Stephen King. Comedy gives way to terror as its Asian and African-American characters also battle their own personal demons. A floating pillow is a frightening sight and Ella Fitzgerald’s 1960 live Berlin recording of “Mack the Knife” becomes a spooky touchstone. [more]

Shadows: A Dance Musical

December 4, 2018

The flier for "Shadows," subtitled "A Dance Musical," calls it “a Gothic ghost love story,” adding, “It’s Twyla Tharp meets Stephen King.”  If only. "Shadows," written by Randall David Cook (book) and Edison Woods, Maxim Moston and Karen Biskho (music and lyrics) and choreographed and directed by Joey McKneely, does tell a love story and does have a good deal of dancing, but the eerie romance doesn’t rise to the complex Gothic levels of Stephen King and the choreography is far less creative than Twyla Tharp’s. [more]

The Rainmaker

May 6, 2018

“Never judge a heifer by the flick of her tail” is just one of the many kernels of down home wisdom in playwright N. Richard Nash’s lovely piece of Americana, The Rainmaker. It’s been tenderly revived by the Blackfriars Repertory Theatre and The Storm Theatre Company with every role perfectly cast. [more]

Daybreak

April 28, 2018

A speech of Madame Arcati’s from Noël Coward’s "Blithe" Spirit recited in Armenian is just one of the many highlights of Nicole Ansari’s awesome performance as Victoria.  The long-haired and physically graceful Ms. Ansari’s crystalline presence, twinkling eyes and tremulous voice are a joy to behold especially when she is supposed to be 90 years old. Ansari’s brilliance is showcased as she simultaneously conveys the character’s despair, resilience and humor as the production’s riveting centerpiece. [more]

Romantic Trapezoid

November 10, 2017

The problem is that under Albert Bonilla’s stolid and matter-of-fact direction, Elizabeth Ingham and Zack Calhoon's characters never come alive. Just trading quips is not a sophisticated style and as all of their lines are said the same way without variety, it becomes tiresome quite soon. While Donze continually surprises us as Beth, Melissa and Dave remain the same throughout. And the production design doesn’t help much. While the couple discusses what good taste Melissa has in buying Dave’s shirt, Viviane Galloway’s costumes are extremely conservative and colorless, no proof of any special taste whatever. [more]

Incident at Hidden Temple

February 2, 2017

Behind the theme of war," Incident at Hidden Temple" is a thriller of sorts. Sisters Ava (Ying Ying Li) and Lucy (Briana Sakamoto), first seen in China travelling on a train littered with American soldiers, are separated when a disturbing road block forces their train to a halt. With some time to kill, the sisters exit the train and are introduced to a mysterious stranger--Dinh James Doan as a blind man with a penchant for speaking in riddles--who tells them about a Hidden Temple located just a short ways away. The temple, the blind man cryptically tells them, is filled with lost treasures but will only be revealed to those of pure heart. [more]

Phoenix Rising: Girls and the Secrets We Keep

July 10, 2016

"Phoenix Rising: Girls and the Secrets We Keep" takes place in two worlds: the New York CBGB punk scene of 1985, and a dark, Greek mythological other world of indeterminate time and place. In 1985, a high school social worker by the name of Grace mentors an after-school, trauma therapy session. In the other world, the Archetypal Mother/Storyteller presides over her “damaged souls” and reads from an ancient tome, the “Phoenix Book.” [more]

A Dream of Red Pavilions

January 29, 2016

A Dream of Red Pavilions is set in 18th century China during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. The framing story which gives the plot its mythic quality involves a stone and a flower that are reborn as cousins, the rich scion Baoyu and sickly Daiyu, who fall in eternal love. Like" The Forsyte Saga" or "Downton Abbey," the social context depicted is the rise and fall of an aristocratic family. Beginning with the birth of Baoyu, the oldest son on whom the Jia family’s future fortunes rest, the play which takes place in 30 short scenes follows the affairs of these nobles and their servants over 20 years until Baoyu’s young adulthood. [more]

Sayonara, The Musical

July 15, 2015

Although "Sayonara, The Musical" had an acclaimed lavish production at Paper Mill Playhouse in 1987 and a later version at Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars in 1993, it has not been seen in New York until now. Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, now in its 38th Season, is presenting the local premiere of the adaptation with its book by playwright William Luce ("The Belle of Amhurst," "Lillian," "Lucifer’s Child," and "Barrymore"), lyrics by Hy Gilbert and music by George Fischoff. Surprisingly, "Sayonara" has a great deal in common with "South Pacific": the exotic Asian locale, the fraternization between Yankee officers and Asian women, a tale of prejudice and bigotry, and two parallel love stories. Unfortunately, at this post Sondheim junction, the way 'Sayonara" follows the Rodgers and Hammerstein formula seems dated, while the material, based more on the movie than the original novel, has deflated Michener’s story by making it oversimplified and superficial. [more]

Film Chinois

January 23, 2015

While "Film Chinois" certainly has an interesting premise to create a stage film noir set in turbulent postwar China, the play fails to deliver on its promise to entertain as well as thrill with a coherent story. Though the play has all the elements of the genre, here they are confusing rather than organic to the material. The elegantly staged production never remembers to turn up the heat. [more]