Posted in circus award

Clowning is serious business

Bill Irwin will once again prove just how serious a business being a clown can be. He’s to be named the Evolving Circus Honoree at the 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus. His compadre David Shiner from Old Hats, returning to the Pershing Square Signature Center on January 26th, will roast and toast Irwin while presenting him the honor.

Old Hats The Pershing Square Signature Center/Irene Diamond Stage Cast List: Bill Irwin David Shiner Production Credits: Tina Landau (Director) Nellie McKay (Music) G.W. Mercier (Scenic and Costume Design) Peter Kaczorowski (Lighting Design) Other Credits: Written by: Bill Irwin & David Shiner Music by: Nellie McKay
Old Hats
The Pershing Square Signature Center/Irene Diamond Stage
Cast List:
Bill Irwin
David Shiner
Production Credits:
Tina Landau (Director)
Nellie McKay (Music)
G.W. Mercier (Scenic and Costume Design)
Peter Kaczorowski (Lighting Design)
Other Credits:
Written by: Bill Irwin & David Shiner
Music by: Nellie McKay

Circus Now together with the Big Apple Circus have planned a big event to spotlight and celebrate the achievements of the circus arts. The  2nd Annual Celebration…, at Lincoln Center on January 5th, brings a new Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented by Dolly Jacobs of the Circus Sarasota to Hovey Burgess, teacher, high-wireist and circus legend.

The evening is planned as ceremony and performance, honoring four artists and/or organizations that have been prominent in the circus arts landscape in America, while spotlighting the thriving state of the circus arts across the nation.

For more information and tickets, please visit www.circusnow.org/CELEBRATE2016.

For tickets for Old Hats at the Signature Theatre, click here.

Posted in riff

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. And I am proud to share it with you:

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in dance, musical theater, theater

Michael Flatley plans his retirement

Irish dance is a competitive activity, almost like a sport, you might say.

Michael Flatley in "Lord of the Dance." Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments
Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance.” Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments

Michael Flatley, whose Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is at the Lyric Theatre through January 3rd, made Irish dance a destination entertainment with his Riverdance some 20 years ago.  Flatley has had world-wide success with the Irish dance shows he conceives, creates choreographs, directs. From New York, Lord… is moving onto stages around the world, including the Crocus in Moscow in April. In June, Lord… will go to Cork and Dublin.

Irish dance is percussive in the tradition of clog, flamenco, and tap, but it’s often shown off, like ballroom, in competition. Many members of the Lord… cast have won national and  international contests. It’s easy to see why.

While the rat-tat-tat of the taps on the heels, soles, tips of the shoes are an amazing effect, it is when the choreography allows the dancers to move quietly through the same intricate steps without the tapping that we are fully immersed in how skillful the movement is. The peace of those moments when we watch in awe at the nimble feet of the cast is sublime.

Michael Flatley in "Lord of the Dance." Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments
Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance.” Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments

In Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, Flatley is creating a grand myth. To be mythic, good must triumph. Evil uses brute force and ruse. It is an uneven battle. Flatley’s mythologizing is uneven. It’s not til the second act the Dark Lord fights the Lord of the Dance. The scenic and lighting designs (by Paul Normandale, with video projections created by JA Digital and visuals by Fractured Pictures) provide magical settings from the bucolic to the demonic. The bucolic includes projections of unicorns and rainbows in an Ireland worthy of the world of Finian’s Rainbow and in which we expect leprechauns to appear. The design is splashy and spectacular as are the costumes of the dancers.

The hologram of three Flatley challenging each other is wonderful. Flatley shows off some truly superb footwork.

Michael Flatley in "Lord of the Dance." Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments
Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance.” Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments

In Lord…, Flatley does nothing by half-measures.

The music is composed for the show by Gerard Fahy who imbues his original tunes for Lord… with the sounds of Ireland. During the interval, we are regaled by  the familiar Danny Boy; the pipes they are a-callin’, but for the show itself the songs sound like but are unlike the expected.

Along with the fantastic dance cast, there are two lovely violinists–fiddlers in the Irish dance parlance– Giada Costenero Cunningham and Valerie Gleeson, who lead the troupe in some numbers.

 

For more information about Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, please visit
http://www.lordofthedance.com/.

 

Posted in theater, year end bests

Making the lists

The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.
The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.

Looking back on the year about to pass is a time-honored activity. Critics make lists of the past year’s favorites and share them. Seems like a good time for us to do that, too.

We posted a couple of year end reviews and then realized that neither one was a LIST of our faves for 2015.

So, back to the drawing board for T and B On the Aisle it is:

10! is our number one pick- Hamilton 

9. Something Rotten! 

8. School of Rock- The Musical

7. Hir

6. The Humans

5. Clever Little Lies 

4. On Your Feet! 

3. Fool for Love

2. Dada Woof Papa Hot

and last but not least, Marjorie Prime

 

 

 

Posted in drama

In her “…Prime”

Memory is a trippy thing. As you get older, remembering long ago events is so much easier than recalling what you did yesterday.

In Marjorie Prime, the future-forward play by Jordan Harrison at Playwrights Horizons through January 24th, recollections of the past serve to improve lives in the present.

Memories make us who we are, but they are also a slippy slope that does not always conform to reality. When we begin to forget ourselves, it may be especially unsettling for those near and dear to us.

Marjorie (Lois Smith), an aging and ill widow, shares her home with a computer (Noah Bean) who channels her late husband, Walter. His companionship allows her to live more or less independently in her house.

Walter is a Prime, an embodiment who uses Artificial Intelligence to assist with Marjorie’s cwell-being. He has been programmed to absorb Marjorie’s history. Walter Prime retells stories of their courtship.

Marjorie is fortunate that her son-in-law Jon (Stephen Root) is so attentive and invested in fleshing out Walter Prime’s memory bank. Her relationship with her daughter Tess (Lisa Emery) is a bit more prickly.

Marjorie and Tess’s father were happy, although he was not her only suitor. Marjorie, in her prime, was a vivacious violinist and a bit of a flirt.

Anne Kaufman elegantly directs the impeccable cast through the twists in Marjorie Prime.
Laura Jellinek’s scenery evokes the lightness of California with a touch of futuristic brightness.
Scene changes in this compact one-act drama are effectively made behind blanket of light (lighting design is by Ben Stanton), for the most part, giving the play a cinematic quality in transition.

For more information about Marjorie Prime, please visit
http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/marjorie-prime/

 

Posted in based on a movie, fromscreentostage, musical theater

Get Ready to be Schooled

Rock and roll, properly spelled rock ‘n roll, I believe, can be transformative, or progressive, or divisive. It is sometimes a rebellious shout, sometimes a soulful whisper.

Alex Brightman as Dewey, and the kid band from School of Rock-The Musical Photo by Matthew Murphy
Alex Brightman as Dewey, and the kid band from School of Rock-The Musical Photo by Matthew Murphy

In School of Rock–The Musical, at the Winter Garden Theatre in a predictibly long run,  it serves to bring together as much as it does to pull asunder. Based on the motion picture, written by Mike White and starring Jack Black, School of Rock… has  lyrics by Glenn Slater, music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and a book by Julian Fellowes, that pretty much steps along with its source.

As in the original, Dewey (Jonathan Wagner, standing in for Alex Brightman, at our performance) is an earnest rocker who mooches off his best friend Ned (Spencer Moses) and is expelled from the band he founded. His dream of climbing to the “top of Mount Rock” looks to be out of reach when Ned’s live-in girlfriend, Patty (Mamie Parris) threatens him with eviction.

Sierra Bogges and the kids ensemble of School of Rock-The Musical Photo by Matthew Murphy
Sierra Bogges and
the kids ensemble of School of Rock-The Musical Photo
by Matthew Murphy

Things brighten up for Dewey when he decides to impersonate Ned for a substitute teaching gig at a prestigious prep school. At Horace Green, Dewey meets his future bandmates, the ten-year olds in his class.

School of Rock-The Musical gives rock ‘n roll one other dimension. It is also heartwarming.

The music has variety and offers many opportunities for its stars to shine. The shiniest in School of Rock... are the little scene-stealers who form the eponymous band. These kids can really rock out. They can also act and dance. Standing out, but by no means standing alone in this fabulous young cast, are Isabella Russo as the masterful if somewhat bossy Summer, Luca Padovan as the boy, Billy, who designs costumes for the band, and Jared Parker as Lawrence, the keyboardist. Evie Dolan’s Katie and Brandon Niederauer’s Zack are amazing instrumentalists.

The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.
The Children Ensemble. Photo By Matthew Murphy.

The adults in the ensemble are also excellent, with Jonathan Wagner fulfilling the role as a Jack Black sub to a tee. He is charming and talented, and his interaction with the youngster is wonderful to watch. Sierra Boggess, like her character the principal Rosalie, seems uncomfortable being severe and stern; despite that, Boggess  hits some very high notes– she has “music in her,” after all–; in the Queen of the Night scene she soars.

Joann M. Hunter gives children and adults some great rock-centric moves in her smooth choreography. The scenic designs and costumes by Ann Louizos fluently move around a palette of rebellious and straight-laced. Laurence Connor directs with a light touch.

For more information about School of Rock-The Musical, please visit 
http://schoolofrockthemusical.com/

The Wright Wreport also published a review by TB at VevlynsPen.com

 

Posted in comedy, drama, musical theater, theater

More Year end review: ‘Tis the season…For lists,

Looking back on the year about to pass is a time-honored activity. Critics make lists of the past year’s favorites and share them. Seems like a good time for T and B On the Aisle to do that, too. Part 2:

Fool for Love at MTC kept our attention, especially with Arianda and Rockwell in the lead. Props, also, to their co-stars, Gordon Joseph Weiss and Tom Pelphrey for their support in this Sam Shepard enterprise!  Was I alone in feelng giddy from all the subtle flirtation in Old Times?

Roundabout’s Thérèse Raquin, playing at Studio 54 through January 3rd, while not destined for greatness, is a solid and haunting production.

Clever Little Lies  at the Westside Theatre through January 3rd, is a very dark comedy, with some of the finest performances in town. Greg Mullavey is simply fantastic. Marlo Thomas has impeccable timing.

To complete the list of musicals we started in the Year end review:

The Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
The Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

Dames at Sea, constructed to make us feel like we were at one of those “let’s put on a show” films, succeeds at this conceit. This bit of fluff is definitely cute and the tap dancing is invigorating. Dames at Sea is at the Helen Hayes Theatre through January 3rd.

On Your Feet! will have you standing to dance along to Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s inspiring story.