Posted in based on a Shakespeare play, dark drama, drama, Shakespeare

When Will We Three Meet Again?

Source: When Will We Three Meet Again?

In honor of their 20th anniversary, Dzieci Theatre will reinstate its Gypsy-infused production of Macbeth, MAKBET for a 5-Week run starting on September 6 at Bushwick’s Sure We Can. Our guest reviewer, Mari S. Gold had a chance to see it in October 2015.

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Posted in City Center, musicals, The York Theatre Company

Bell, book and…

Having a successful older sibling can be both a point of pride and a burden.

For Musicals in Mufti, at the York Theater on E54th and Lexington, despite its excellent and clever name and long history (they’ve staged 100 productions to date). the better-known City Center Encores! series is that more prominent sib.

Like Encores!, Musicals in Mufti takes a bookish approach to musicals of seasons past. The average production is only some 11 performances long, and the actors are in street dress, often carrying the texts of the musical they are performing with them.

Me and Ella, written and performed by Andrea Frierson,  closed at the York Theatre on July 23rd

It is a reading or a concert version of a classic work, not seen on Broadway for some time. The upcoming summer production at the York is Jerry’s Girls, running from August 5th through the 13th, a tribute to the women of the Jerry Herman repertory, featuring songs from Hello! Dolly, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles, Milk and Honey, Mack and Mabel, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and Dear World.

In the original 1985 Broadway run of the revue at the St. James, featured Chita Rivera, Leslie Uggams and Dorothy Loudon.

For more information about Jerry’s Girls in the Musicals in Mufti summer series, please visit the York Theatre website.

Posted in historical musical, musical, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals

A rich port

Nativist sentiments are often rooted in the stories of European conquerors who obliterated and enslaved native populations, and then high-handedly saw themselves as the rightful owners of the lands they seized.

This is the story of Puerto Rico as depicted in Temple of the Souls, part of the New York Musical Festival and playing at the Acorn at Theatre Row. Puerto Rico, named for the golden riches the Spanish found in the port of this island, was once such a promised land; its indigenous inhabitants, the Taino Indians were defeated by the invading Spaniards. Time has melded the heritage of the isle so that most Puerto Ricans recognize themselves as descendents both of the Spanish and the Taino.

Temple of the Souls is an exploration of this history, filtered through a love story–actually several love stories. Amada (Noellia Hernandez), the daughter of one of the conquistadores, Don Severo (Danny Bolero) falls in love with Guario (Andres Qunitero), a Taino she meets in the rain forests on a fiesta day. They are the Romeo and Juliet figures in this musical. Amada’s “nurse” is Nana (Lorraine Velez in a truly earnest performance) who has kept a secret all these many years.

The music, by Dean Lanon and Anika Paris, with lyrics by Paris and Anita Velez-Mitchell, is affecting. Paris, Velez-Mitchell along with Lorca Peress, who also directs the proceedings, are responsible for the book.

Temple of the Souls is a sometimes erratic work that does not always hit its mark. It aims to elucidate the story of a country and its peoples with warmth and understanding. It’s sincerity is indisputable; its artistry is less marked. The plot and its intermingling of past and present is more intriguing in concept than in execution.The cast, mostly Equity, are all good, some even excellent.

NYMF is an annual event. It is a showcase for new musicals in development. Some make it to off- or off-off-Broadway, a few to Broadway houses. Just getting into the Festival means they have been percolating for some time.

Posted in children's shows, Children's Theatre, childrens story

Bratty brothers and not-so-humble pie

It takes a special kind of imagination to recreate the magic of childishness. It is the province of the brilliantly insightful.

Dennis Lee is a poet who captures the child’s world. His book of verses for the young and mischievous, Alligator Pie, has been adapted by five of  Soulpepper’s artists into a frothy mix of antic play and playful theatrics.

Ins Choi, Raquel Duffy, Mike Ross, Gregory Prest and Ken Mackenzie are the collaborators and stars of Alligator Pie, in repertory at Pershing Square Signature Center through July 29th. The production is delicious. Its appeal to children is undeniable, as witnessed by their rapt attention; it is likewise a treat for the grown-ups accompanying them to see this sparkling tom-foolery.

For more information, a schedule of all the performances during their residence in New York, and tickets, please visit Soulpepper On 42nd Street.

Posted in theater

Speaking of no intermission…

Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
Reed Birney, Olivia Wilde and Tom Sturridge in a scene from 1984 at the Hudson Theatre on Broadway. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Fashions come and go in clothing, in the arts, even in the theater, which also experiences changing styles. In the Greek amphitheater, plays would last all day. For Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s audiences, there were often five act tragedies or comedies.

A few years ago, T and B sat in utter surprise when a play ended in just 51 minutes. Today, the drama, comedy, or musical without an intermission is quite common. Likely, it will be longer than an hour, but nonetheless, it will be a one-act play.

Currently running without an interval….

This is far from an exhaustive tour of 90-minute shows currently playing New York City, but it has breadth.

For instance, on stage at the Golden Theatre is Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2clocking in at under 90 minutes. Laurie Metcalf, this year’s Tony winner for Best Actress, is leaving the production on July 23rd, when there will also be other cast changes. Although Jayne Houdyshell stays on as the family housekeeper, Julie White will take over as Nora Helmer; Stephen McKinley Henderson will replace Chris Cooper as Torvald, and Erin Wilhelmi comes aboard as the Helmer’s daughter, Emmy, replacing Condola Rashad.

Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s 1984 comes to Broadway’s recently redecorated Hudson Theatre from a successful UK run. and is advertised as a “chilling 101 minutes.” 1984, a play adapted from George Orwell’s oft-quoted novel, delivers its abject view of a world in which our minds are controlled by an ubiquitous Big Brother without an intermission.

Pipeline at Lincoln Center’s Newhouse Theater, a new and timely play by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, confronts the realities that pit opportunity against community and identity. Pipeline also plays without an intermission.

At Soulpepper on 42nd Street, the Toronto troupe is performing a repertoire of plays and musicals, ensemble pieces, and cabaret. Some of this repertory, like Kim’s Convenience is performed in a brisk 85 minutes at Pershing Square Signature Center, giving you plenty of time to run out to the corner market before dinner. The musical adaptation of Spoon River also runs without pause, and is a mere hour and 35 minutes.

For tickets, scheduling and information, please click for the show sites:

A Doll’s House, Part 2

1984

Pipeline

Soulpepper on 42nd Street‘s:

Kim’s Convenience and

Spoon River

 

Posted in theater, theater lovers, ttheater etiquette

90 min. no intermission

No intermission” are words that cheer my heart.

1. George_Cruikshank_-_The_First_Appearance_of_William_Shakespeare_on_the_Stage_of_the_Globe_Theatre_-_Google_Art_Project
George Cruikshank-The First Appearance of William Shakespeare on the Stage of the Globe Theatre-Google Art Project

You might think that Will (now a TV series, seemingly inspired by our friends at Something Rotten!, in which The Bard is a Rock Star) would not approve.

In truth, though his plays had many acts,  folks walked in and out as they saw fit. The audience were a rowdy bunch we probably would not tolerate in our theaters today. Theatrical etiquette is far more decorous these days.

I make that statement despite having to sit through a show next to an apple-chewing patron once upon a matinee. Cell-phone  incidents are another of the annoyances that Shakespeare’s contemporaries would not have had to contend with, but that are very common among today’s audiences.

All this off the beam, however, as I was lauding the show without an interval. In that vein, I will admit that the above mentioned Something Rotten! was NOT a musical without an intermission. Many of the plays I have enjoyed over the years have been multi-acts with the obligatory pause for the audience to find refreshment and stretch their legs.

more shortly, so come on back, after this brief intermission…. and it’s July 11th, so we are back in 1, 2, 3:

LACOMBE_17024_5O9A0733_A
Laurie Metcalf and Condola Rashad in a scene from A Doll’s House, Part 2 (c) Brigitte Lacombe. Cast replacements after July 23rd include Julie White replacing Metcalf in her Tony-winning role. Lucas Hnath’s play is an intermissionless roughly 86 minutes.

n William Shakespeare’s (and Kit Marlowe’s) time, eating oranges and throwing tomatoes were not unusual activities during the course of a theatrical performance. The audience hardly needed a pause in the action to eat or drink or wander about. The interval was not for the patrons but the actors to regroup. It was for a change of scene; the groundlings bustled about throughout the show.

Get to the point, we say, and so the one act does. It suits our times as a longer play fit other eras and fashions.

A story told in one breath, without a break has a different arc from the one that follows the convention of three (or five) acts. It is shaped and shared differently. In some ways, it packs more intensity by providing a continuity of action.

And 90 minutes or an hour and forty-five is a manageable chunk of  time for those of us whose attention spans have been shortened by social media.

A one-act play is a haiku, often the more beautiful for being succinct.

Posted in comedy, comedy-drama, family, family comedy drama, family drama

The corner store

Soulpepper, Kim's Convenience
Ins Choi in Kim’s Convenience (c) Cylla von Tiedermann

Family relationships are a tricky business, made more so when a family business is actually involved.

Ins Choi has written a tribute to his family and the business in which he grew up. Kim’s Convenience, in repertory at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre during Soulpepper on 42nd Street’s run through July 29th, won the Toronto Fringe Festival New Play Contest and is a series on CBC-TV, co-produced by Soulpepper.

Soulpepper, Kim's Convenience
Jean Yoon, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (c) Cylla von Tiedemann

A funny and poignant play, Kim’s Convenience is about a proudly stubborn patriarch, Appa (or Dad in Korean) (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and his family at a crossroads. Convenience stores are in fact intimate spaces, in which neighbors gather, and which tells the story of both the proprietor and his customers.

Rather than take the money offered him for the variety store by Mr. Lee (Ronnie Rowe, Jr., also in several other roles), Mr. Kim asks his daughter, Janet (Rosie Simon) to run the shop. The payout would mean he and his wife, Umma (mom) (Jean Yoon) could retire comfortably. Instead, Mr. Kim wants to pass on what he has built. He also knows that his legacy is in his children, Janet and his estranged son, Jung (Ins Choi.)

Kim's Convenience, Soulpepper
Rosie Simon, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Ronnie Rowe Jr (as Alex here.), (c) Cylla von Tiedemann

There is no mention of gentrification, yet it is palpably present in this scenario. In fact, change and cultural/generational differences and misunderstandings are a big part of the humor and the heart of Kim’s Convenience.

The set by Ken MacKenzie (who, also, designed the costumes) is fully stocked, all the details of a corner store compactly and intricately laid out.

Under Weyni Mengesha’s adroit direction, Kim’s Convenience holds our regard.

For more information, a schedule and tickets to Kim’s Convenience or any of the Soulpepper On 42nd Street offerings, please visit https://www.soulpepper.ca/new-york.

Note that their adaptation of Of Human Bondage has been particularly recommended to us.