Posted in bullies, childrens story, parents and children, storytelling, The 1001 Arabian Nights

Story Telling Will Save Us!

Now playing at Canal Park Playhouse, in a joint production with a new company called The TRUF, are two short productions meant to connect adult to child.

The adult-friendly children’s story, “Sarazad and the Monster-King,” playing through July 14th, pits Sarazad (Penny Middleton) against some schoolyard bullies (AJ Converse and Kelly Higgins.)

The imaginative nine-year old Sarazad finds a unique way to regain dominion over the swings. Her fantasies take her into a dream kingdom where the Monster-King (Dean Linnard) threatens to eat her. Just like the Scheherazade of the 1001 Nights, Sarazad weaves tales that are so diverting thatshe uses her skill at storytelling to save herself.

Written by EJC Calvert, “Sarazad and the Monster-King” will amuse both your children and their grandparents. “Sarazad and the Monster-King” is an update on the source material which is both funny and poignant.

To show how stories can save our lives, Frank McGuiness’s Tony-nominated play “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me,” running through July 15, explores the same theme. In it three men who are political prisoners in Beirut find storytelling as a way to survive.

The TRUF and CPP invite a multi-generational dialogue to come out of its paired offerings. “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me” is not recommended for anyone younger than teenagers, however. “Sarazad and the Monster-King,” will please children as young as five or six.

To find out more about the performance schedule and Canal Park Playhouse, visit www.canalparkplayhouse.com

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Posted in Abi Morgan, accidents and miracles, boys and girls, friendship, love story, loyalty

Pop goes "Tiny Dynamite"


Photo © Carol Rosegg around the circle: Christian Conn as Lucien, Olivia Horton as Madeleine, Blake DeLong as Anthony in “Tiny Dynamite” at 59E59 Theaters.

Not all explosions are convulsive.

For instance, there is nothing cataclysmic in Abi Morgan’s “Tiny Dynamite,” which is enjoying its New York premiere at 59E59 Theaters through July 1st. There are some power surges and lightning strikes in “Tiny Dynamite,” but it’s a tiny story of loyalty, loss, love and friendship.


Photo © Carol Rosegg around the circle: Olivia Horton as Madeleine, Blake DeLong as Anthony and Christian Conn as Lucien, in “Tiny Dynamite” at 59E59 Theaters.

Lucien (Christian Conn) is a cautious man. His best friend from childhood, Anthony (Blake DeLong) lives an untamed existence. Once a year, Lucien brings Anthony to a cabin by the lake for a summer vacation. This idyl inevitably stirs memories of a woman they both loved. Madeleine (Olivia Horton) enlivens and complicates their relationship.

While the acting rivets the attention, this slight story lacks the intensity to explode in the imagination as a full-blown adventure. It diverts with anecdotes of catastrophes and fatality, without drawing a complete picture of either miracle or just happenstance. As Anthony puts it “if there’s no cause, I’d say that it was a freak fucking accident.”

Visit www.59e59.org to get a schedule of performance. To find out more about the presenter, the Origin Theatre Company, please visit www.origintheatre.org.

Posted in 2-hander, A Chamber Opera, absurdist, chamber music, funny-sad, music, singing, The Hunchback Variations

The intersection of Beethoven and Quasimodo is Chekhov

Is it only the idealists among us who search for the unattainable? Can the melancholic also pursue it?

The premise in “The Hunchback Variations, A Chamber Opera,” at 59E59 Theaters through July 1st, is a doomed collaboration between Ludwig von Beethoven (George Andrew Wolff) and Quasimodo (Larry Adams) to find a sound that will fulfill a stage direction in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.”

Quasimodo and Beethoven, both deaf and more than a touch ornery, are holding a series of panel discussions on the inevitable failure of their project. The attempt to create “the Impossible, Mysterious Sound” and “the Effects on Love and Friendship of Rehearsing the Creation of the Impossible and Mysterious Sound” are the subject for “The Hunchback Variations, A Chamber Opera.” The sound is “impossible” because it is one of nostalgia for something lost or missing or not existent. Beethoven and Quasimodo are trying to find something that eludes the senses.

Mickle Maher, an original member of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck which brought the musical play east, adapted the chamber opera from his eccentric little play “The Hunchback Variations.” His libretto is set to Mark Messing’s score for cello (played by Paul Ghica) and piano (Christopher Sargent.)

Adams and Wolff both have a wry demeanor and pleasant voices. They tell the tale well, revealing the details of the relationship between Quasimodo and Beethoven over the course of eleven “variations.”

Quasimodo asks, “Where do we put the happiness that has not been forged?… Where is the room for keeping all the nothings?” Beethoven responds “I would like to think that such a room exists.”

For a schedule of performances, visit www.59e59.org To learn more about the producing company, Theater Oobleck, visit http://theateroobleck.com

Posted in based on a true story or event, courtroom drama, drama, film version in 1995, lawyers, Tony nominee Chad Kimball stars

Justice Is Illusive in "Murder In The First"


Chad Kimball as Willie Moore, Ryan Scoble as a guard, Guy Burnet as Willie’s attorney, Henry Davidson, Thomas Ryan as Judge Clawson, Jim Lorenzo as Alcatraz’s Assistant Warden Milton Glenn, and Darren Kelly as DA Bill McNeil in “Murder in the First” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo © Carol Rosegg.

Since justice is illusive, the courtroom always makes a compelling setting for drama.

“Murder in the First,” at 59E59 Theaters through July 1st, is a rivetting courtroom drama. Inspired by a headline-making actual trial from the early 1940s, in 1995 Dan Gordon turned these real events into a film, and now has moved the proceedings to the stage.


Willie’s attorney, Henry Davidson (Guy Burnet) visits Willie Moore (Chad Kimball) in his cell in “Murder in the First” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo © Carol Rosegg.

Gordon’s play tells the story of Willie Moore (Chad Kimball), who upon being released from the dungeons at Alcatraz, murdered a fellow inmate. The large, impassioned cast delivers the gripping tale of Henry Davidson’s (Guy Burnet) surprising defense in a Federal court in San Francisco.


His day in court: Willie’s attorney, Henry Davidson (Guy Burnet) pleads in front of Judge Clawson (Thomas Ryan) with Willie Moore (Chad Kimball) in the witness chair in “Murder in the First” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo © Carol Rosegg.

Standing out in this excellent panoply of players are Joseph Adams as a wannabe Winchell named Houlihan, and Larisa Polonsky as Mary McCasslin an ambitious lawyer in love with both Henry and her job at a time when women were not generally hired by the public defender’s office. John Stanisci is Henry’s older brother Byron, a successful corporate lawyer who tries to protect Henry from himself. Also giving a superb performance is Robert Hogan as the bewildered warden of Alcatraz Harold Humsen, a man who made rehabilitation the business of prisons but was outdone by the demands of running “the rock.” Lastly, Darren Kelly as the DA Bill McNeil certain of winning his case exudes supercilious confidence in a fine portrayal.


Guy Burnet (background), Anthoula Katsimatides and Chad Kimball in “Murder in the First” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo © Carol Rosegg.

Chad Kimball and Guy Burnet carefully measure the mettle of their characters in stirring performances. Hank and Willie develop an unlikely friendship in this moving drama.

“Murder in the First,” beautifully paced by Michael Parva’s directorial hand, is well-written and tense. The sets designed by Mark Nayden split the stage, moving the action fluidly with the aid of David Castaneda’s lighting from the cage in which Willie is held to the court over which Judge Clawson (Thomas Ryan) presides to Henry’s offices or home.

Excellent writing, good acting, fine staging all add up to a stellar “Murder in the First.”

For a schedule or tickets, please visit www.59e59.org.

Photos © Carol Rosegg l-to-r: Chad Kimball with Larisa Polonsky; Larisa Polonsky with Guy Burnet; and Guy Burnet with John Stanisci in “Murder in the First” at 59E59 Theaters. Photo.

Posted in comedy, family, one-woman show

How Is A Tree Like a Strong Woman?

Dulcy Rogers plays Claire and her aunts in “I Am A Tree” at Theatre at St Clement’s. Photo © Carol Rosegg.

Do our life choices or our genetics make us strong? Can a descent into madness be inevitable?

In “I Am A Tree” at the Theatre at St. Clement’s through June 30th, Claire (Dulcy Rogers) is in search of the truth about her mother’s slide into insanity. Claire is seeking to find her better and fearless self, as she explores her family’s past.


Dulcy Rogers as Claire’s aunt Lillian in “I Am A Tree” at Theatre at St Clement’s. Photo © Carol Rosegg.

Claire’s quest leads her to visit her long-lost aunts (all played by Rogers, who also wrote the play), each of whom remember her mother differently.

Aunt Aurelia recalls her as an ethereal being. Lillian reminisces about partying and flirting. Only Aunt Lou admits to the possibility that Claire’s mother may have gone mad. Unfortunately, the charm of these encounters wears thin. “I Am A Tree” quickly devolves into a pretentious ramble.

Dulcy Rogers makes too many claims for exceptionalism for Claire. Her father is a renowned scientist; her mother may have invented the fuzzy navel (for those of you not up on your bartending, equal parts peach schnapps and orange juice are the favored ingredients.) Her aunts are also extremely accomplished; Aurelia is some sort of UN ambassador, Lillian is vaguely theatrical, and Aunt Lou a cross-dressing wise woman. Many of these assertions in “I Am A Tree,” which is subtitled “an unstable comedy,” are in the interests of humor, of course, which is very broad.

Each aunt is a distinguishable character, or perhaps caricature, with distinct physical quirks and vocal ticks, which to be fair, Rogers pulls off well enough. High marks in this production go to Neil Patel whose minimalist set is both simple and dramatic.

For more information and for tickets for “I Am A Tree”, visit “Iamatreetheplay”