Posted in dance marathons, depression era dance contests, new work by Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor Dance Company, they shoot horses don't they?

Depression-era Dance Contests

Paul Taylor’s “Sunset” in performance.

There is something brutalizing about those depression-era dance marathons. The contestants are equal parts hopeful and downtrodden. Paul Taylor captures the essence in his latest creation “Marathon Cadenzas,” on view in the penultimate PTDC performance of the Spring 2014 season, just completed at David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. 
Taylor’s 140th dance in a 60 year span is as vital and entertaining as any in his repertoire.“Marathon Cadenzas” is set to music by Raymond Scott with sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto and lighting by James F. Ingalls. The company are all standouts in this heartbreaking dance.
More PTDC Spring Ahead: Sotheby’s auction to benefit PTDC on May 14th
Paul Taylor Dancers with Tracer in 1962 Photograph by Martha Swope, New York City © 2014 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation /Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY 
On May 14th, the Taylor “Spring” extends to an auction at Sotheby’s where works by Robert Rauschenberg, a friend and frequent collaborator of Paul Taylor’s.The two met in 1954 after Taylor left Merce Cunningham’s dance company to set off on his own  Rauschenberg designed the sets and costumes for a number of Paul Taylor productions including: Jack and the Beanstalk (1954), the solo dance performance Circus Polka (1955), Three Epitaphs (1956), The Least Flycatcher, The Tower (1957), Seven New Dances (1957), Rebus (1958), Images and Reflections (1958), and Tracer (1962), for which he also 

created a work of the same title that will be offered in May.

To learn more about the May 14th auction event, click here.

To keep apprised of PTDC performances, visit

Posted in DrunkenShakespeare, ShakesBeer, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Bar

Shakespeare At The Bar

It has come to our attention that there are two theatrical companies hard at drink to bring you Shakespeare under the influence.

By W.J. Morgan & Co. Lith. of Cleveland, Ohio.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Shakespeare Exchange has created ShakesBeer, a crawl-cum-performance.

In the meantime, the troupe Three Day Hangover has launced DrunkShakespeare.

The former gathers on on April 12, May 31, June 7, August 9 & 16, October 4 & 11 and December 6 at 2:30pm for three hours of beer and Bard at four bars.

Drunk Shakespeare opens in its home at Quinn’s Bar & Grill in midtown for drinking and tragedies on March 26th.

For tickets and information about Drunk Shakespeare, go to

Information about the upcoming crawls and tickets for ShakesBeer can be found at


Posted in dance making, modern American dance, new work by Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Paul Taylor’s Ever Lively Dance

In posters and on billboards for each of their Spring seasons, PTDC flies off the page. In person, the they do a similar trick.

Francisco Graciano and Michael Apuzzo in Paul Taylor’s “Gossamer Gallants,”
once more on the program on March 29th at 2pm.
Photo by Tom  Caravaglia.

Paul Taylor Dance Company always seems to be in motion, just off and above the stage. Theirs is an energetic force. PTDC is always propelling through air.

The momentum is intellectual as well as physical. A Paul Taylor dance is well-thought out and intelligent.
Taylor, in fact, is a man of many parts– an author with a nice sense of humor, a dance maker with a great sense of humor, irony, and a vision all his own.

There are 8 performances left to the PTDC Lincoln Center Spring at this writing, and we urge you to catch at least one of our favorites: tonight at 7pm, “Mercuric Tidings” and “Sunset” are on the bill with “Fibers” and “Troillus and Cressida (reduced).” On Wednesday, March 26th, go see “A Field of Grass.” Friday, March 28th at 8pm brings a chance to see the new “American Dreamer,” and Saturday at 2pm, “Marathon Cadenzas” premieres again; these are numbers 139 and 140 in the Paul Taylor oeuvre. “Piazzolla Caldera” is  on the final program for this season on Sunday, March 30th at 6pm.

You can purchase tickets and view the schedule here and follow PTDC on FB.

Paul Taylor’s most recent book are the essays in “Facts and Fancies” published in 2013.


Posted in Bryan Cranston, George Wallace, JFK assassination, lady bird johnson, LBJ, lyndon baines johnson, politically inspired, politics

"All The Way" with LBJ: A Year in the Life

Is the fascination we have with politics and politicians all about power and those who wield it?

Robert Schenkkan’s “All The Way,” at the Neil Simon Theatre through June 29th, looks at one critical year in the life of one of  the great political practitioners.

Bryan Cranston and Betsy Aidem. Photo Credit: Evgenia Eliseeva

Lyndon Baines Johnson (Bryan Cranston) was one of the great negotiators in our country’s presidential history.  You know the famously effective politician whose arm twisting got legislation passed, but the author posits an LBJ who may have been a better man than his reputation suggests.  Lady Bird Johnson (Betsy Aidem) has a particularly poignant take on LBJ the man in one scene, making it clear that the man was the politician.

Robert Petkoff, Bryan Cranston.
Photo Credit: Evgenia Eliseeva

LBJ took office in November 1963 as “an accidental President” after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He had just one year to establish his presidency and launch the campaign for the 1964 elections. That year hinged on LBJ’s role in the struggle for civil rights. He was left to polish his predecessor’s legacy, and create his own. The pressures he faced during that year are history, and as told by Schenkkan it is a compelling and dramatic story.

Bryan Cranston, Brandon J. Dirden  and
Richard Poe in the back.
Photo Credit: Evgenia Eliseeva

There were the rightfully disgruntled factions in the Negro caucus. He also had to deal with the recalcitrant segments of his own party’s Dixiecrats, most prominently represented  by LBJ’s mentor, “Uncle” Dick Russell (John McMartin), the Senator from Georgia. Hubert Humphrey (Robert Petkoff) of  Michigan was the Senator most sympathetic to the cause of equality for all Americans.

Among the groups of black leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. (Brandon J. Dirden) is the acknowledged head. He lobbied the President, often through Humphrey, for the assorted black organizations, which included Stokely Carmichael’s (William Jackson Harper) radical SNCC and the much tamer NAACP lead by Roy Wilkins (Peter Jay Fernandez).  LBJ not only supported civil rights, but was instrumental in passing legislation to insure that fairness and equality were the law of the land.

Rob Campbell, Susannah Schulman on the desk. On left on floor:
James Eckhouse and on right on floor: Christopher Gurr
Photo Credit: Evgenia Eliseeva

The sets in “All The Way” often depend on projections to identify the locale of a scene. Credit Christopher Acebo for the simple multi-functional scenic design and Jane Cox for the lighting.

The acting, with Bryan Cranston embodying LBJ in an astonishing performance, and Brandon J. Dirden embodying MLK down to the cadences of his speech, is universally excellent. Under Bill Rauch’s well-paced directing, the nearly three hours of politics and power go by in a flash; there is not a wasted minute.

Among other standouts in the outstanding cast are William Jackson Harper, Rob Campbell as Governor George Wallace (and others), and Eric Lenox Abrams as Bob Moses (and others.) Michael McKean is a wry and formidable J. Edgar Hoover.

To find out more about “All The Way,” please visit

Posted in dance making, David H Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, modern American dance, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor Dance Company

The Taylor Spring is Here (At Last)

Michelle Fleet and Robert Kleinendorst in “A Field of Grass”  
choreograhped by Paul Taylor, set to songs by
Harry Nilsson with costumes by Santo Loquasto and
lighing by Jennifer Tipton. First performed in 1993.
Photo by Paul B. Goode

It’s spring– at least it is a Paul Taylor Dance Company spring. The weather outside the David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center, where the season lasts from March 11th through 30th, may still be iffy, but you can count on the warmth and good humor of PTDC to welcome you once inside.

Poster for “Airs” by Paul B. Goode.

Paul Taylor’s vision is often edgy and a bit cockeyed, but it is always intelligent and interesting. For Paul Taylor, dance is social commentary or sometimes just social observation. He is often caustic, sometimes pointedly so, sometimes more genially. Paul Taylor sets the ordinary askew in his little jewels of invention.
His sharp insight into the human condition was well on display in the weekend programs we saw.

“Gossamer Gallants” took a place as a favorite when it first presented in 2011. This weekend, it had competition from a new work, that is new to me,  “A Field of Grass,” first performed in 1993. In the interests of transparency, it is important to reveal that this reviewer has many favorites in the PTDC repertoire– from “Company B” to the transcendent “Aureole,” and on and on. “A Field of Grass” just happens to be a proximate fave.

Photo by Tom Caravaglia.

Leading a hippie circle– yes it is that kind of grass– that includes the outstanding Michelle Fleet, Robert Kleinendorst goes from joy to a little bit of a bummer and back again in “A Field of Grass.” The lively songs of Harry Nilsson accompany the ensemble, which on this occasion also included the splendid Aileen Roehl, Sean Mahoney, Francisco Graciano, Heather McGinley and Christina Lynch Markham.

Photo by Paul B. Goode

For “Sunset,” set to Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings and Elegy for Strings, the mood is appropriately more elegiac. The cast puts aside its bell bottoms (designed by santo Loquasto for “A Field of Grass”) and trades them in for shirtwaists and crisp khakis (set and costumes designed by Alex Katz.)
Both dances are more balletic than we’ve come to expect from Paul Taylor, and very beautiful to watch. In “Sunset,” the men’s movements have a Gene Kelly quality.

Photo by Paul B. Goode

“Airs,” a classic out of the PTDC repertoire first performed in 1978,  is danced to Handel. It’s formality is belied by the the short gowns and leotards worn by the men and their bare chests (costumes by Gene Moore.) On the same bill, “Dust,” set to Francis Poulenc’s Concert Champetre, is amusing and lively, but the pièce de résistance on this day’s program is “Piazzolla Caldera” (1997).

“Piazzolla Caldera” breaks down the tango. There is the tango for one, a solo that seems impossibly sad in the context of this very sexy dance. A same sex tango relies heavily on horseplay and a tango a trois plays up the aggression that is also germaine to the genre.The music is by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshaky with costumes by Santo Loquasto.

Going forward into the searon, you can see “Gossamer Gallants” on March 22nd at 8pm with “Sunset” and on March 29th at 2pm with other works. “Piazzolla Caldera” reappears on March 21st at 8pm, and with “Dust” on March 30th at 6pm. “A Field of Grass” is on the program on March 26th at 6pm. and “Airs” repeats on the March 29th performance at 8pm.

For more information on Paul Taylor Dance Company, visit For a schedule of the Spring season, visit the David H. Koch Theatere website.

Posted in 2014-15 Public Theatre Season, dance, Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, New York Neo-Futurists, performance piece, Sartre's No Exit, Spring 2014

Coming soon to a theater near….

Not so soon, in fact 2014-15 season at the Public:

“Hamilton,” written by the Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, will have its world premiere next January as part of The Public’s 2014-15 season at Astor Place. Directed by his In The Heights collaborator Thomas Kail, this new musical features Miranda playing Alexander Hamilton, one of our country’s Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury.

The brilliant musical “previewed” at an American Songbooks presentation in 2012. Performances begin at the Public on January 20, 2015.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda is a marvel, but nothing could have prepared us for the astonishing achievement of Hamilton,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies, the only Founding Father who was an immigrant, and Lin’s genius is to tell the story of the birth of the United States as an immigrant’s story. The energy, the passion, joy, tragedy, and raw intelligence of this show are stunning.”

More information at

February 25-March 30

Do we exist only as constructs in each other’s minds? Explore this concept and Sartre’s famous bon mots, “Hell is other people,” at the Pearl Theatre’s production of “No Exit.” For tickets and informaiton, please go to
Jolly Abraham as Inez and Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris as Estelle in a scene from “No Exit.”
Photo by Al Foote III

March 11-April 12

Paula Vogel’s “And Baby Makes Seven” is an uproarious and timely comedy that has not been seen professionally in New York in 20 years. Marc Stuart Weitz directs an ensemble including Ken Barnett,  Susan Bott and Constance Zaytoun. Vogel’s “And Baby Makes Seven” tells the story of Anna and Ruth, a lesbian couple, who enlist their gay friend Peter to help them create a family. But are any of them ready for parenthood?
For tickets and to find out more, visit

March 14-April 5

The Chocolate Factory Theater is presenting the world premiere Target Margin Theater’s “Uriel Acosta: I Want That Man!” from March 14-April 5. This new adaptation of one of the central plays of Yiddish history is taken from a variety of literary and historical sources and created and directed by TMT’s Artistic Director, David Herskovits. Original songs are by Rebecca Hart, with toy theater created by Kathleen Kennedy Tobin for this production.
Tickets and information are available at

April 1-12

Singer-songwriter Alexa Ray Joel, Christine Brinkley’s and Billy Joel’s talented daughter, makes her premiere at Cafe Carlyle.
Visit to find out more.

April 5

Patricia Kenny Dance Collection presents “Spring Collection” which includes their world premiere of “Unrest” choreographed by Patricia Kenny Reilly. Excerpts of “Unrest” were released on film in an open rehearsal series web forum, and this evening PKDC will share the culmination of the work-in-progress. The evening of dance is at the Queens Theatre for one night only.
For tickets, visit To learn more about PKDC, go to

April 17-30

Ripe Time, the Brooklyn-based company led by Rachel Dickstein, will premiere “The World is Round,”
which adapts the Gertrude Stein book, at BAM Fisher. Conceived, written and directed by Dickstein, the work is a fable (for grownups and mature children) full of original live music by Heather Christian and aerial movement choreographed by Nicki Miller. “The World is Round” is Ripe Time’s first new show since 2011 when it launched its celebrated Mrs. Dalloway adaptation Septimus and Clarissa.
Go to for tickets and informaiton.

April 17-May 11

“The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 2” in sequel to the award-winning “… Volume 1” is adapted and directed by Christopher Loar, ensemble member of the New York Neo-Futurists.

Now he’s a legendary playwright and a Broadway mainstay, but Eugene O’Neill was once considered an experimental, downtown playwright. His plays defied the melodramatic conventions of the day and much of his work premiered with the Provincetown Players on MacDougall Street. The New York Neo-Futurists return O’Neill to his experimental roots, and “…Volume 2”  spans the years 1913 – 1915, and includes his plays Recklessness, Warnings, Fog, Abortion, and The Sniper.
Tickets and informatiokn at

April 23- May 18

Part of the Brits off Broadway at 59E59, Harry Melling’s debut play, “Peddling” makes its US premiere.
A peddler wakes up in a field, with no memory of how he got there or what happened the night before. In his attempt to find out what happened, everything comes into question.
Learn more at

50 Shades of Gray, the musical and Beauty and the Beast are among the shows still playing in these listings:

Fast Company” plays through April 6th and “The Pig, or Vaclav Havel’s Hunt for the Pig” only through March 29th.. At the latter, dinner is served at the 3 Legged Dog production, provided by the Slovakian restuarant Korzo.

Posted in City Center, going to New York to be a writer, New York City, The Women's Project, writing about NYC

"The Architecture of Becoming" — Is It Too Many Chefs?

L-to-R Christopher Livingsont, Vanessa Kai, Jon Norman Schneider and Claudia Acosta. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In Sarah Ruhl’s brilliant “Stage Kiss,” the character named He disparages a play that required more than
two collaborators– “Isn’t a bad sign when three people wrote a play? I mean if two people wrote it, it’s
one thing, but three, come on, three?”

So it’s probably not a good sign that there are five named playwrights on “The Architecture of Becoming,” at City Center Stage II through March 23rd. The enterprise, penned by Kara Lee Corthron, Sarah Gancher, Virginia Grise, Dipika Guha and Lauren Yee is represented by Siempre Norteada (Claudia Acosta), a writer who has a commission on the City Center.  By the way, not only are there 5 writers, there are 3 directors for this hour and a half interlude.

L-to-R Christopher Livingston, Danielle Skraastad, Vanessa Kai and Claudia Acosts. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

There are other storytellers enacted in the vignettes that comprise this “play,” including Vanessa Kai’s
Tomomi Nakamura, a 1940 Japanese housewife who wants only to tell her own story. “I only want to play
myself I only want to tell my story. I only want to tell my story. Does that mean I am not an actress?”
Siempre Norteada merely connects the pieces, or does her best to do so.

Vanessa Kai as Tomomi and Danielle Skraastad as Virginia, the fishmonger. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“The Architecture…” is meant to be a paean to the building, in which the Women’s Project has found its 
home. There are references to the City Center’s rich history. It is also an ode to artists who come to New York to seek inspiration.
The actors, Danielle Skraastad, Jon Norman Schneider, Christopher Livingston, and the aforementioned
Vanessa Kai and Claudia Acosta, all fine, are ill-served by this hodgepodge. 
City Center, the glorious recently restored 90 year old landmark which started life as a Masonic Temple,
and now is home to theater and ballet from around the world, deserves better too.
To find out more about “The Architecture of Becoming,” visit 

Posted in Bridges of Madison County, Jason Robert Brown, Kelli O'Hara, Marsha Norman, Robert James Waller, Steven Pasquale

Let’s cross that "Bridges…"

Marsha Norman has fashioned an appealing drama  with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown from Robert James Waller’s over-the-top romance for the musical version of “The Bridges of Madison County.” In this open run at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Kelli O’Hara plays the Iowa housewife, Francesca, with Steven Pasquale as the itinerant photographer, Robert Kincaid.

Kelli O’Hara as Francesca and Steven Pasquale as Robert Kincaid in “The Bridges of Madison County,”
at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in an open run.  Book by Marsha Norman, adapted from Robert James Waller, music
and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Robert Kincaid has lost his way, looking for the last of the covered bridges he was sent by National Geographic to photograph. Francesca Johnson takes him to it, and asks him to stay for dinner.

Caitlin Kinnunen as Carolyn and Hunter Foster as Bud in
“The Bridges of Madison County.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Her family, Bud (Hunter Foster) and the children, Michael (Derek Klena) and Carolyn (Caitlin Kinnunen) have gone to the Indiana State Fair so that Carolyn can compete with her prize steer, Stevie. As Francesca tells Robert, they will have a better time without her looking at prize pigs and large zucchini squash.

Hunter Foster as Bud and Kelli O’Hara as Francesca in
“The Bridges of Madison County.” Photo by
Joan Marcus.

She married an American soldier in Naples right after the war when they were very young, came to Iowa, made a home for herself but isn’t completely comfortable as a farmer’s wife.

Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale in a scene
 from “The Bridges..” Photo by Joan Marcus.

There are many seriously powerful voices singing Jason Robert Brown’s lovely songs. In addition to the excellent leads, there is Cass Morgan as Marge whose torchy “Get Closer” is very close to a show-stopper. Katie Klaus as the State Fair Singer and Whitney Bashor in a flashback to Robert’s ex-wife lend voltage in their roles. Michael X. Martin is very natural as Marge’s down-to-earth husband, Charlie.

It’s only fitting that such an operatic love story should get the full operatic treatment Brown gives it. “The Bridges of Madison County” is melodramatic and overwrought, but its cast remain cool-headed and dry eyed, even if we cannot.

Suggestion of a setting drops from rafters– the outline of a roof, window frame, doorway– and the ensemble doubles as stage hands, pulling up fences, moving in the kitchen table– in Michael Yeargan’s imaginative design for “The Bridges of Madison County.”

Fade to violins, cue tears. [For more commentary see VP.]

For more information about and a chance to preview the music of “The Bridges of Madison County,” please visit

Posted in acting, actors, first love, kissing, Neil Patel, Rebecca Taichman, Sarah Ruhl, theater folk

"Stage Kiss"    Extended through April 6th
Actors lead different lives from the rest of us. Their nine-to-five is generally more like 7:30 to midnight.
For them, a kiss is work, and for actors just part of their day at the office.

“Stage Kiss,” at Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater through March 23rd, is immensely clever. The play that wraps around the play within the play in Sarah Ruhl’s brilliant new comedy mirrors the events in the play being staged in the first act.

The cast of the play within the play with Jessica Hecht center take a bow.
Photo © Joan Marcus

She (Jessica Hecht), an actress in her 40s, auditioning for the role of Ada Wilcox, is surprised that the actor He (Dominic Fumusa), playing opposite her is her first love, just as Johnny Lowell is Ada’s in the melodrama they are rehearsing.

She (Jessica Hecht) and He (Dominic Fumusa) share a “Stage Kiss.”
Photo © Joan Marcus

“Stage Kiss” is about and of the theater. The perils of acting, like its joys, are in getting to embody anyone but yourself and getting to try out being someone else. “Stage Kiss” can be bestowed even on the unlikeliest of partners, as when She rehearses with Kevin (Michael Cyril Creighton), the understudy whose approach to the project is far more tentative and less empassioned than the one He plants.

She (Jessica Hecht) and
Kevin (Michael Cyril Creighton)
audtion a “Stage Kiss.”
Photo © Joan Marcus

 “Stage Kiss” is in part about creating character, and understanding love. Real life jeopardises theatrical life and messes with stage craft. Like Ada, She has an understanding Husband (Daniel Jenkins), and a life that takes on an over-the-top turn.

  • Will She and He rekindle their love?
  • Would she rather live in squalor with her first love than go back to her well-to-do husband?
  • What can her husband do to tip the balance in his favor?
  • Is that first love all we’ve cracked him/her to be?

Jessica Hecht lends a sophistication and an innocence to her character in “Stage Kiss.” Hecht has a distinctive voice that seems to both quesiton and admonish at the same time. In “Stage Kiss,” she gets to mimic, impersonate and do accents. At every nudge from The Director (Patrick Kerr), she nails it immediately and creates another persona.

There are so many facets to this superbly intelligent play.

There are in-jokes for theater folk: the ineffectual laissez-faire Director; the actress who hasn’t found work for years; the relentless optimism of reviving a less than mediocre play; the dangers of stage romance.

For the marrieds, there are questions about fidelity and temptation, and the risks in workplace romance.

Rebecca Taichman directs this excellent cast,  which also includes Emma Galvin as Angela, Millie and the Maid; Clea Alsip as Millicent and Laurie; and Todd Almond as The Accompanist. Todd Almond has also provided originally music for the production that fits the spirit of the enterprise very neatly.

Clea Alsip and Todd Almond in a scene from Sarah Ruhl’s
“Stage Kiss.” 
Photo © Joan Marcus

The sets which build from an empty rehearsal space to an elaborate 1930s drawing room and a truly delapidated and overcrowded East Village  mess of an apartment are the work of the talented Neil Patel. Costume designer Susan Hilferty is responsible for dressing the cast over various periods.

“Stage Kiss” is top-to-toe marvellous. Go and enjoy a wonderfully engaging theatrical experience.

For more information on “Stage Kiss,” please visit Playwrights Horizons. For more review, visit

Jessica Hecht and Daniel Jenkins in a scene from the play within
“Stage Kiss.” Photo © Joan Marcus
Michael Cyril Creighton, Daniel
Jenkins and Emma Galvin in a scene
from “Stage Kiss.” Photo © Joan Marcus

Jessica Hecht as She and Patrick Kerr
as the Director in a scene from
“Stage Kiss.” Photo © Joan Marcus