Posted in #LaMama, #Macbeth, Bated Breath Theatre Company, Classic Stage Company, CSC, emerging playwright, George Bernard Shaw, Gingold Theatrical Group, Kate Hamill, known playwrights, LaMama, Lucas Hnath, New York Theatre Workshop, playwright, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage Theatre, Sondheim, Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, The Flea Theater, The Mint Theatre, Will Arbery

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David Raposo & Nicole Orabona. Photo by Mia Aguirre: Unmaking of Toulouse-Lautrec

Sure, Broadway can do it bigger and splashier. It’s Off-Broadway, and its sister wife, off-off, that can take the bigger risks.

This means that, often enough, it is the offs’ productions that are the more interesting and provocative.

This is not to say that we don’t appreciate the tone and tenor of a big show, but we are inspired by what is accomplished by the off-the-main-stem houses. Sometimes, like the Tony-favored Hadestown, there is novelty and innovation, along with a touch of provocation, on the Broadway stage as well.

Some of these are the usual suspects– Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, The Mint, Classic Stage Company, New York Theatre Workshop, to name a few– who come up with exciting theater year in and year out.

Not all of these are “small” productions, of course. For instance at CSC, the artistic director, John Doyle, has slated big names Corey Stoll and Nadia Bowers to play the lead and his lady in the Scottish play. Shakespeare’s Macbeth will run this fall from October 10 through December 15. The season at the Classic will continue with  two new iterations of iconic tales of horror presented in repertory in January-March 2020: Dracula by Kate Hamill, adapted from the novel by Bram Stoker, and 
Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley’s original work, and adapted by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm. In April-June 2020, it concludes with Assassinswhich completes the trilogy of Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musicals John Doyle has staged,

Playwrights Horizons opens its main stage fall season with a play about our political dystopias. Will Arbery’s Heroes of the Fourth Turning, directed by Danya Taymor, gets its world premiere beginning September 13. Mr. Arbery is the playwright in residence for 2019-20 at PH thanks to a grant from the Tow Foundation. PH does not disappoint.

Later in the year, Lucas Hnath returns to PH with The Thin Place, beginning November 22. Consider this a Thanksgiving present from PH to you! If you are unfamiliar with this particular talent, before we saw Hnath’s The Christians at PH we were too. Then came A Doll’s House Part 2, an exceptionally imaginative reimagining of Ibsen, in which Laurie Metcalf won the 2017 Tony for Best Actress in a Play. Also on the PH bill for the 2019-20 season is a musical, An Unknown Soldier ( book and lyrics by Daniel Goldstein; music and lyrics by Michael Friedman) set to begin on Valentine’s Day. There’s more to it than just what we’ve listed, so please go to phnyc.org for more information, tickets etc etc.

Going off off the beaten path can be very rewarding. The immersive, site specific Unmaking of Toulouse-Lautrec is a kind of boheme rhapsody, and perhaps a throw-back to the Belle Epoque. This interactive production is conceived and directed by Mara Lieberman and devised by members of the Bated Breath Theatre Company . The show continues where it started in May through October 30th at Madame X in Greenwich Village, where you can imbibe cocktails along with the atmosphere of creative decadence.

Still following the path to the off off, we might stop by at The Flea to see The Invention of Tragedy, an exploration of how to tell grief by Mac Wellman. The world premiere is scheduled to run from September 7 through October 14. Or, for a limited engagement at The Tank catch the Spanish language En El Ojo de la Aguaja (In the Eye of the Needle) story of our present dystopias and how we solve them.

David Staller brings the Gingold Theatrical Group production of Shaw’s Caesar & Cleopatra to Theatre Row from September 3 through October 12. History in a Shavian warp gives us a comedy of sex, murder, intrigue. Very timely, doncha think?

LaMaMa, where it all began, in association with Theater Three Collaborative tackles the climate crisis in Other Than We, starting November 21.

Posted in 2-hander, emerging playwright, family drama, LEED-certified theater space, mystery, Željko Ivanek

"Slowgirl" exhilirates

“Slowgirl” at Claire Tow

So often it happens that bad things come from the exercise of poor judgement.

In Greg Pierce’s “Slowgirl,” produced by LCT3 at the new Claire Tow Theaer, and in a twice-extended run through August 5th, there is plenty of anguish to go around.

A tragedy brings Becky (Sarah Steele) to seek haven with her uncle Sterling (Željko Ivanek).

Like Becky, Sterling is harboring a secret.  The fast-talking Becky and her near-silent uncle are each complicit and share a sense of guilt for very different incidents in their lives.

Sarah Steele and Željko Ivanek Photo © Erin Baiano.

The mystery that is buried in “Slowgirl”unravels over four scenes at Sterling’s Costa Rican jungle home.
Sterling’s affection for his niece eventually gives him the impetus to move ahead.

Sarah Steele’s privileged 17-year old hides her pain in bravado. Hers is a smooth and seamless performance. In the diminutive and lovely Claire Tow Theater, its easy to see Željko Ivanek’s every raised eyebrow. His dismay as Becky chatters, blurting every inappropriate thought, is beautifully nuanced and perfectly timed.  Anne Kaufman’s direction allows the plot to unfold unexpectedly, keeping the enigmaiic center of “Slowgirl” alive throughout.

The sets, by Rachel Hauck, and sound, by Leah Gelpe, imaginatively invoke the bucolic tropical forest.  Their designs add to the simple exoticism of “Slowgirl.”

To get tickets and find out more about “Slowgirl” visit http://www.lincolncentertheater.org/.

Željko Ivanek Photo © Erin Baiano.

A word about the theater at LCT3:

The Claire Tow Theater sits atop the Vivian Beaumont and Mitzi Newhouse Theaters on the Lincoln Center Campus at 63rd and Broadway. The newly-built LEED-certified strucure is really extremely beautiful. It features along with its expertly designed 112 seat interior, a green roof; insulated glass and recycled materials were used in its construction.

The Claire Tow is a breathtaking space in which to showcase the works of emerging playwrights.