Posted in drama

Bitter sweet

You may be too young to remember when this play by Shelagh Delaney was made into a film of the same name,”A Taste Of Honey” by Tony Richardson. Honestly, what I do recall about the movie I saw so many years ago is very sketchy.

 A Taste Of Honey, extended to October 30th when it will play in repertory with David Harrower’s adoption of Ibsen, Public Enemy, at The Pearl, confirmed some of my memories, and expanded on them in a very satisfying way.

Mother love

A girl, Jo (Rebekah Brockman) meets a sailor, Jimmy (Ade Otukaya). When her mother, Helen (Rachel Botchan) abandons her once again at Christmas time– this time to run off and marry Peter Smith (Bradford Cover)–, Jo takes up with her boyfriend in their apartment. Jimmy goes back to sea leaving a pregnant Jo to fend for herself. She is joined int the flat by an art student, Geoffrey (John Evans Reese), who is warm, nurturing and accepting. I recalled the sweetness of her relationship with Geoff, and the bourgeois life these two shared.

A precocious talent

A Taste Of Honey, written when Delaney was just 18, premiered in the West End in 1958 and had a run on Broadway. The Pearl’s is the first New York production in 35 years.

Richardson’s cine-adaptation (with Delaney collaborating on the script) did not prepare me for the avant-garde in Delaney’s stage play. She was a poet of the working-class, though her subsequent work never had as much fame as her first work.

Music Hall or barroom

A Taste Of Honey features on stage band, performing tunes from the Music Hall and Jazz repertoires. The accomplished trio here, all hep young musicians, under Phil Faconti’s (guitar) baton, include Max Boiko on trumpet and Walter Ashford Stinson on bass.

A Taste Of Honey, directed by Austin Pendleton, is a touch slow of pace. The ensemble are all terrific, although Rebekah Brockman lets Jo seem a bit too down-at-the mouth. Her character, Jo has remarkable strength, and some of that shows through in her interactions with Geoff. Botchan’s selfish mama is a whirlwind, and Brad Cover’s charasmatically non-chalant Peter is a breath of fresh air.

Harry Feiner’s perfectly messy stage set and Barbara A. Bell’s neat costumes allow A Taste Of Honey to make an expansive statement in its hsitoric context.

Visit pearltheatre.org to learn more.

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Posted in #Roundabout, Manhattan Theater Company, Playwrights Horizons, The Flea Theater, The Mint Theatre, The Pearl Theatre Company, theater, theater lovers

Happy New Year

Black Moon Theatre presents Bliss based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead September 8-25, 2016 Photo by Steven Pisano
Black Moon Theatre presents Bliss based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
September 8-25, 2016
Photo by Steven Pisano

The moment between December 31st and January 1st so widely celebrated, and especially so at the hub on Broadway’s Times Square, is not the real new year.

Every summer-tired kid can tell you that the new year starts in September when school opens. Theater nerds will likewise say that this is the beginning of the year. Broadway will have two openings on the 20th with The Encounter at the Golden and The Front Page at the Broadhurst. Manhattan Theatre Company also starts previews for Heisenberg, a Broadway transfer to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on the 20th. Holiday Inn started previews at Roundabout’s Studio 54 on September 1st, while their The Cherry Orchard previewed on the 15th at The American Airlines.

Off-Broadway has already been perky this season. Playwrigths Horizons opened its first show of the season, Julia Cho’s Aubergine. PH’s second show, A Life, which begins previews on September 30th, and features David Hyde Pierce in the cast, has already extended its run to November 27th. The Mint has  A Day By The Seaplaying since July 22nd and through October 23rd. The Pearl’s A Taste Of Honey began previews on September 6th and has already extended the run through October 30th. Starting on September 29th, it will be running in repertory with David Harrower’s Public Enemy, an adaptation of Ibsen’s Enemy of the People.

Further off the great white way, there is also a good deal of action, too. The list is too long to include every production, but we’ll sample a few here:

Black Moon Theatre Company presents Bliss based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead with performances on September 8-25, 2016, at The Flea Theater.
Core Creative Productions presents an updated version of ariveting and award-winning drama about police brutality called Chokehold at the 14th Street Y Theater from September 16th through October 8th.
Playwrights Realm started their 2016-17 season on August 29th with the world premiere of The Wolves by Sarah Delappe, and will also present a collab with (and at) the New York Theatre Workshop when it shows Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners & Her Portmanteau later in the Spring.
Meanwhile, currently playing at the New York Theatre Workshop is Nathan Alan Davis’ provocative new play Nat Turner in Jerusalem.
A musical with illusions promises to be a happy ride when On The Rails opens on September 29th, at The Actor’s Temple where it will continue through November 20th.
On The Rails is part of the Lady Liberty Theater Festival, as is Missed Connections, playing sporadically (aka check the scheds) from September 27th through the end of November at the Kraine.
A cinematic and live dance/theater work combines in Geoff Sobelle’s Pandaemonium, directed by Lars Jan with music composed and performed by Brooklyn musician Xander Duell looks to be a unique experience at New York Live Arts from September 28th through October 1st.
The no-holds barred comedy about race and American history, Underground Railroad Game began previews at Ars Nova on September 13th for an opening on September 26th and running through October 15th.  extended to October 29th! now in a final extension to November 11th!
Followung up on the introduction they made in 2014New Light Theater Project  is featuring playwright Ross Howard, a Brit indie sensation, in rep from October 19th through November 12th at the Access Theater.
In other festival news, the Flea is presenting a pair of A.R. Gurneys, Squash and Ajax, beginning October 10th.
EDWIN, The Story of Edwin Booth is at Theatre at St. Clement’s through September 18th, so hurry. The musical is about the most famous American actor of the nineteenth century, and, famously, brother to Abraham Lincoln”s assassin.
This list could go on and on, but you don’t want to hear that. Check out Soho Rep, and MCC, for example, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre.The Vineyard Theatre deserves a visit, too, especially for their kid-friendly productions. Lincoln Center’s The Claire Tow Theater deserves a visit if for nothing but its view, but its productions have been spectacular, too. Downtown, there’s also the Classic Stage Company, the Public, and for Off-Broadway in the heart of Broadway, the Signature Theatre Company and the resident New Group. Just to name a few theatrical companies waiting to entertain you.
Posted in drama

Food and memory: Omikase

Aubergine August 20, 2016 – October 02, 2016 Mainstage Theater Written by Julia Cho Directed by Kate Whoriskey New York Premiere A man shares a bowl of berries, and a young woman falls in love. A world away, a mother prepares a bowl of soup to keep her son from leaving home. And a son cooks a meal for his dying father to say everything that words can’t. In Julia Cho’s poignant and lyrical new play, the making of a perfect meal is an expression more precise than language, and the medium through which life gradually reveals itself. FEATURING Tim Kang Sue Jean Kim Jessica Love Stephen Park Michael Potts Joseph Steven Yang Scenic Design: Derek McLane Costume Design: Jennifer Moeller Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski Sound Design: M.L. Dogg Production Stage Manager: Cole P. Bonenberger
Aubergine, New York Premiere, August 20, 2016 – October 02, 2016, Written by Julia Cho, Directed by Kate Whoriskey, Scenic Design: Derek McLane, Costume Design: Jennifer Moeller Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski Tim Kang and Michael Potts. Photo © Joan Marcus

Aubergine is a plummy color. It is also a French vegetable, less grandly called eggplant in English.

Aubergine is also a play by Julia Cho, whose Language Archive delivered a smartly tart look at the interstices in communication. Aubergine, at Playwrights Horizons through October 2nd, (like Language Archive ) intertwines multiple and parallel experiences.

Familiar ties

A chef, Ray (Tim Kang), tries to reconnect with his father (Stephen Park) by preparing him a memorable last meal, with ingredients suggested by his Uncle (Joseph Steven Yang). A young woman, Diane (Jessica Love) recalls sharing a pastrami sandwich with her father just before he died.

Mulberries

Aubergine Pictured Tim Kang with Sue Jean Kim. Photo © Joan Marcus
Aubergine
Pictured Tim Kang with
Sue Jean Kim. Photo © Joan Marcus

Ray’s girlfriend, Cornelia (Sue Jean Kim) remembers her mother relentlessly feeding her so that she began to hate eating.

Meanwhile, a caregiver named Lucien (Michael Potts), speaks with fondness of the vegetables in his memories. Lucien is a shaman, guiding Ray as he sits by his father’s deathbed.

Trust the chef

Death is ever-present in Cho’s drama, even as food is cooked, eaten and immortalized.

Hunger is one of the themes; family another in Julia Cho’s sometimes engaging, oft-times off-putting story.

Going home

Aubergine
Aubergine
Pictured Sue Jean Kim, Joseph Steven Yang, Stephen Park, and Tim Kang. Photo © Joan Marcus

One should never underestimate the eggplant. Like Cho’s main character, Ray, it has a harshly bitter rind, and a center that is well-textured and soft. Cho may have bit off more than she can chew in the meandering Aubergine.

Courtesy of Ray’s Uncle, parts–even swaths– of the story is told in Korean with English supertitles.

Kate Whoriskey plies a light hand directing this material; the assembled cast is both polished and charming.

To learn more about Aubergine, please visit PH’s website.

 

 

Posted in 2016 Tony nominations, based on a film, based on a movie, Jessie Mueller, menu, musical, musical theater

The overlooked contender or 2

It looks like Waitress has all the pluck of the indie project from which it was created. Like Something Rotten!, it carries on.

As if the presence of star Jessie Mueller and a lovely cast were not enough, Waitress is offering a little sweetner: groups as few as 4 (and up to 11) people can get discounted tickets- with pie- to attend.

Our Theater Blog: TandBOnTheAisle

In my predictions for the nominations Tony is about to make, http://wp.me/p5jq0w-OI, I left out some of this year’s Broadway starts. School of Rockwas not mentioned, and truly, despite its spunk, I doubt it stands a chance in this contest. Nor will American Psycho overturn Hamilton in its run to the top.


May 3rd, noon, Looks like the Tonys left out a contender, too: Audra McDonald was not nominated for the Best leading actress in a musical.

Here’s where the oversight is more serious: From the list (entitled The Chanteuse) below, I have left out Laura Benanti, a soprano to be contended with, often on the short list for many an Award, and Tony winner (for “Gypsy”). Benanti stars beautifully in a wondrous revival of She Loves Me, the musical descendent of a personal favorite among Magyar tales–Little Shop Around the Corner. (In view…

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