Posted in acceptance, acting, artist, ballet, comedy, Daily Prompt, dancing, drama, high expectations, joy, music, musical theater, musicals and dramas, play

Ovation

via Daily Prompt: Ovation

In the theater, the sounds of a crowd pleased are often accompanied by a standing ovation for those who pleased us.

It is a way of saying thanks. Our gratitude makes us feel good, too. We yell “Bravo” and are rewarded with a sense of our magnanimity. Our approbation fills the theatre.

Applause, like laughter, are contagious.

Posted in drama, new dramatists, new work

Title IX

We tend to think of sports teams as units, their individuality drubbed by the group.

In The Wolves, Sarah DeLappe belies our assumptions. Her suburban indoor soccer team is given voice, each one nearly drowning out the others. One expects teenage girls to trivialize serious subjects and blow up the trivial, and DeLappe’s soccer players do just that. It’s unfortunate that while letting them express themselves so eloquently, she allows them to be characterized by field position and jersey number.DeLappe fails to give them names, only personal quirks and traits.

Playwrights Realm encore production at the Duke 42nd Street follows a successful run just about a month ago. It has been spirited along by the help of producing partners Scott Rudin and Eli Bush.

The nine players on DeLappe’s field gossip, chatter, and jeer at each other as they stretch and run drills. Their adolescent speech is infectious, and engrossing, a perfect simulation of how girls talk. When the conversations hit a lull, however, it feels like The Wolves have gone into overtime.

Lila Neugebauer directs the ensemble, through pattering dialogue, superb ball handling and fancy footwork, giving each of them a standout moment. #7 (Branna Coates) shows a fiery sass, while her friend #14 (Samia Finnerty) is the perfect go-along, tag-along to her, #77’s, flamboyance. The new girl, #46 (Tedra Millan) earns her outsider status with a disarming charm. The squad works well together, and their acting very credible.

It’s a sold out run, ending after the December 29th performance, but Playwrights Realm is making it possible to see the show by making a donation. JoinThePack-Contest-01.png

To learn more about The Wolves and Playwrights Realm, visit their site.

Posted in ballet, balletic, balloons, children's shows, classic, dance, dancing, family, favorites

Nutcracker gift basket

This is an example of “smart regifting,” of recycling an idea, concept or suggestion: A somewhat tongue in cheek or perhaps just cheeky suggestion for a holiday gift from 2016 is reprised here. (For other holiday gift ideas, check out our suggestions at The Wright Wreport.)

Commenting

What we’d put in the Nutcracker gift basket
1. a little nutcracker figure
1a. with
walnuts
2. a spray of sugar plums (3-4)
3. imported hot chocolate
3a. mug optional
4. fancy coffee
4a. mug optional
5. elegant tea
5a. steeper and mug optional
6. 6 candy canes (3 red and white, 3 green and white)
7. 1/2 dozen pieces of marzipan
8. gingerbread figures (2-3)
9. a spray of dewdrops
10. a sprig of flowers and, don’t forget

from http://www.nycballet.com/

11. A pair of tickets for George Balanchine’s Nutcracker

View original post

Posted in #pointofview, 11 Tony Award winning musical, activists, aspiration, award winning, based on a true story or event, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, DC politics, economics, famous, fictionalization_of_real_events, Hamilton, long running Broadway musical, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals and dramas, Pulitzer Prize winning musical, riff, Tony winner

A Safe Place…

Tickets to Hamilton may (probably not) be available this holiday season thanks to a non-controversy P-E Trump fracked up from a non-incident at the theater. (As it turns out, Trumpistas did not relinquish their tickets en masse, and the show is sold out in all the cities across America in which it is playing.)

When VP-E Mike Pence attended a performance recently, cast member Brandon Victor Dixon used the curtain call to petition his elected official on behalf of the other half of our country. P-E DJT took offense, and a sort of boycott was born.

For the record, VP-E MP said he was not offended: “And I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said, according to news reports from CNN to the NY Daily News.

The play, which won 11 Tonys last year, has been a hot ticket since it started its Broadway transfer in the summer of 2015.

Hamilton is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s paean to America, in which the Founding Fathers (and some Mothers) are portrayed by a racially diverse cast, and issues of states’ rights and federalism are rapped.

As with everything emanating from this inclusive show, the Hamilton curtain call was a model of restraint.Witness what was said below:

hamdoc

Posted in comedy, farce, screwball comedy

That way to the movies

For Pete’s Sake, What’s Up Doc? and She’s Funny That Way have more in common than an apostrophe “s”. The first two share Barbra Streisand in the lead. All three have directors named Peter, the first a Yates and the other two Bogdanovic. Add to the coincidences that both What’s Up Doc? and For Pete’s Sake use the cinematography of László Kovács, while She’s Funny That Way uses the camera work of Yaron Orbach.

All three are also zany, yet realistic farces.

She’s Funny That Way stars Imogen Poots, a completely charming British actress whose Queens –NooYawk–accent is so spot on that its hard to imagine her having success in film or theater. It also features Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, George Morfogen, Austin Pendleton*, Tovah Feldshuh and Cybil Sheperd among others in its brilliant ensemble. Will Forte and Jennifer Aniston play a couple whose dysfunction is a monument to bad judgement. (*BTW, in a farceur-like coincidence Austin Pendleton is also in the 1972 film What’s Up Doc?)

In film, a farce has always been known universally as a screwball comedy, and the screwiness in the “apostrophe s trio” is just delightful. Mistaken identity, characters bumping into each other in improbable situations, and under false pretenses are all part of the plot points that move the story along. You anticipate what will happen and are surprised when it does. Grab a fake mustache, and join me for dinner at Nick’s.

 

 

Posted in adaptation, based on Chekhov, comedy-drama, drama, ensemble acting, favorites, friendship, girls, growing up, love story, loyalty, Playwritghts Horizons, romantic comedy, Roundabout Theatre Company, soccer, The Duke, The Mint Theatre

Short takes

Here are three shows playing “off-Broadway” but in the Times Square area you may find of interest: The Wolves at the Duke on 42nd, Yours Unfaithfully at the always brilliant Mint at Theatre Row’s Beckett Theatre, and Rancho Viejo at Playwrights Horizons.

Comeback Kids

Sports-themed stories are compelling because they are usually about fair play and, well, sportsmanship.

Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves takes place during practice sessions of a suburban girls’ soccer team as they chat, gossip, and warm-up. Part of the appeal of this show is that  The Wolves is in a reprise production at The Duke on 42nd Street through December 29th; its last sold-out run was this past August and September. It made an impact then, and it looks to make one this holiday season as well.

If you love something, set it free

The Mint is staging  Yours Unfaithfully, the never before produced comedy by Miles Malleson. The play was published in 1933 but never staged until now, when it will get its world premiere beginning on December 27th and running through February 18th at Theatre Row’s Beckett.

Malleson, an actor, playwright, screenwriter, and freethinker seems to have written about the open marriage in Yours Unfaithfully from his life experience, but this production offers much more than voyeuristic interest. Bertrand Russell reviewed the published play as being full of “humor and kindness” and “free from any taint of propaganda.” The high standards of a Mint Theatre production should bring this “well-constructed” work to life.

Neighborly

At Playwrights Horizons, Dan LeFranc brings Rancho Viejo, a small-town and its relationships and interactions to the stage. If his earlier play, The Big Meal is any indication of where he’ll be taking us, this should be an interesting journey.

Rancho Viejo, through December 23rd at the Mainstage, explores how what we do affects our friends and neighbors, who may be total strangers to us. (Check out our review of this very entertaining new play.)


Over at the American Airlines Theatre, Stephen Karam tweaked Chekhov. The Cherry Orchard, which closed on December 4th, is a challenge, as is much of Chekhov. There is melancholy mixed with hilarity in the oeuvre and it does not always play as either funny or tragic. Diane Lane (Ranevskaya) and John Glover (Gaev). the plutocratic and impoverished owners of the property at the center of the play, achieve some level of mixed despair and hysteria.

The production had its faults, and some highlights which included the second act masquerade ball with musicians (Bryaqn Hernandez-Luch, Liam Burke, Chihiro Shibayam, coordinated by John Miller) on stage. There is original music by Nico Muhly.

And most interesting is the color-blind casting in which Chuck Cooper is Pischik, a landowner always looking for a handout, and Maurice Jones is Ranevskaya’s favorite Yasha. Harold Perrineau as Lopakhin, the son of a serf who wins the estate at auction, is a particular standout in the cast.


News from the annoyance front: Impolite theater-goers of the umpteenth degree spotted recently at a matinee of The Cherry Orchard were talking quite loudly. When asked to sush, the response was “Other people are talking.” The other people in question were the characters on stage, I swear.

Also in the Roundabout repertory for this season was the frothy and likeable Holiday Inn, at Studio 54 through January 15th.

Posted in comedy, couples, Dan LeFranc, new work, Playwrights Horizons

A quiet California suburb

You probably count amongst your acquaintances someone who always over-reacts.

At Rancho Viejo, Dan LeFranc’s Southern California community, it’s Pete (the flawless Mark Blum) who fills the role.

Rancho Viejo, playing at Playwrights Horizons through December 23rd, has a feel like home, but an uneasy home.

Pete is not very imaginative, but he latches onto even the flimsiest of theories that others espouse and runs with them.

His wife, Mary (impeccably played by Mare Winningham) puzzles over his existential questions and keeps a stiff upper-lip.

Have you heard about Ritchie and Lana?

Pete and Mary are clearly misfits at Rancho Viejo, over-eager to fit in with their cooler, hipper neighbors.

These neighbors tirelessly invite them to parties, at which they remain outsiders. Pete attempts to engage, taking their travails very personally. Mary is looking for a close friendship with shared interests. Hers are the art-fair, and she repeatedly asks everyone to join her.

Neighborly

After 2 full acts in which a generic house (in an expansive design by Dane Laffrey) doubles and triples as Mary and Pete’s livingroom, then Jack and Kelly’s, then Leon (Tyrone Mitchell Henderson) and Suzanne’s (Lusia Strus) and Patti  (Julia Duffy) and Gary’s (Mark Zeisler). the scene changes. We are in the eerie outdoors as Peter wanders the hills and the beach searching for Mochi (Marti.)

Pete’s quest is heroic; like a knight of yore, he seeks to save his neighbors’ dog (more on Marti in the coda to this review.) Along the way he encounters the mysterious “Taters” (“long for Tate,” (Ethan Dubin)) a kid with an old and spooky soul, Pete had met at one of the many neighborhood gatherings. (Lighting designer, Matt Frey meets the challenge of our not being kept in the dark as Pete and Tate ramble about the darkened stage.)

Anita (Ruth Aguilar) and Mike (Bill Buell), who translates her rapid-fire Spanish stories and jokes for the group, also hang out with the gang. Anita’s tales entertain even if they
are incomprehensible to the non-native speaker, while Mike’s translations into Spanish seem only marginally more fluent than Gary’s faux Spanish.

Reality and its discontents

Dan LeFranc has created a comedy of modern manners, and alienations, in a place filled with average folk, folks like us, perhaps. Director Daniel Aukin has found the best tempo for the inhabitants of Rancho Viejo to interact, and share their moments.

In an ensemble that works the hyper-realism of the play to splendid effect, Julia Duffy’s arch Patti and Mark Zeisler’s flirty Gary are outstanding. As everyone in this little group of friends looks to be the center of attention and glory,  Lusia Strus’ Suzanne makes a wonderful drama queen.

Let’s go by the Burt Beck rule: If you feel as if you are living their lives, the play has succeeded at suspending disbelief and you have been pulled into its reality.

For information about the Playwrights Horizons season and tickets to upcoming productions as well as for Rancho Viejo, please visit their home site.

I promised you a coda

I am often star-struck, no so much by movie star encounters but most often when I meet stage performers. It was thus a rare privilege to run into Marti getting a between performances walk after the matinee curtain for Rancho Viejo. He is a professional, of course, but also a  friendly dog and as lively off-stage as on, and very gracious to his fans.

The day we went was also the annual Santa Bar Crawl, so seeing all the young men dressed in their red nightware with Santa hats atop their heads was also a bit surreal. One young woman was talking on the way out of the theater about having spotted a flock of skinny Santas on a neighboring roof that morning before she left for Playwrights Horizons. As I said, strange doings in our very own real world.