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 fromOld Hats, returning to the Pershing Square Signature Center on January 26th, will roast and toast Irwin while presenting him the honor.
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.
Irish dance is a competitive activity, almost like a sport, you might say.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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, playingat 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.
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.