Posted in family, family affair, holiday event, holiday fare, holiday show, theater lovers

Kid friendly

Exposing our children (or grandchildren) to theater and dance could really be a year-round endeavor. Nonetheless, many of us choose to show them the grand repertories of kid-friendly shows over the holidays.

NYCB is not alone in mounting a lavish Nutcracker from November through December, but it is a go-to for lots of parents. ABT has yet to release dates for its Nutcracker spectacle, another rousing destination for families. (Those of you in New Jersey can enjoy the American Repertory Ballet’s version.)

Another newer tradition for some people is Peter & The Wolf at the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series which kicks off in early December.Brad Lubman leads Ensemble Signal in Sergei Prokofiev’s score.  Renowned fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi narrates, directs, designs the set and costumes. Mizrahi’s special cast performs choreography by John Heginbotham, at which the familiar characters come to life in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Peter B. Lewis Theater for ten performances.

Other holiday specials are all around the town. One, at the Axis Theatre, is from the Grimm canon and starts on December 2nd. Seven in One Blow, or the Brave Little Kid written and directed by Randy Sharp is in its 15th year of production.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/87891224″>Axis Company (a Meet the Theatre film)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/tdf”>Theatre Development Fund (tdf)</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Children’s theater gets the year-long treatment at The New Victory Theater. For November in their New 42nd Street studios, the company hosts something called Paper Dreams for 2-5 year olds, and on the mainstage for an older crowd, a magic show, Jason Bishop: Straight Up Magic. New Victory productions will charm adults as much as they do  youngsters.

Symphony Space on the upper west side has a series called Just Kidding that offers all-year programming for the younger crowd. There are hootenanies and game shows, puppets, plays and all manner of story-telling for them to enjoy almost every week. For the holidays, they have Just Kidding: National Dance Institute: The Celebration Team! with 100 kids dancing on November 19th and  Puppetkabob: The Snowflake Man on December 17th among other programs. November 13th brings the LIVE Trivia show for the whole family, called the Big Family Quiz Thing.

Also check out the Theater at the 14th Y for children’s fare. This December, for a limited run, there’s Hanna and the Moonlit Dress, based on the beloved Israeli book Hanna’s Sabbath Dress by Itzhak Schweiger-Dmi’el and is adapted for the stage by Ronit Muszkatblit and Yoav Gal.

There’s so much holiday fare for you and your children but we share only a select few things here. 

Posted in ensemble acting, family affair, Harrison, Horton Foote, three short plays, TX

"Harrison, TX…" Delves Deeply Into Human Frailty and Strength

Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell
(for Follies and Well) speaks about her current role in “Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote” at Primary Stages.
The places in which we grew up have stories to tell.

Evan Jonigkeit, Hallie Foote, Andrea Lynn Green, Devon Abner in “Blind Date” from “Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote” at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters. © 2012 James Leynse.
At least that’s true if you’re Horton Foote, whose first play, “Texas Town” was produced off-Broadway in 1941. And his favorite Texas town was the fictional “Harrison, TX” which stood in for his birthplace of Wharton in many of his plays.

In “Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote,” a bundled compiliation of works written at different times, at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters through  September 15th, Foote’s subtle and sincere character sketches are minutely drawn. Each play on the program quickly captures the essence of its characters.

The accomplished cast, led by Horton Foote’s eldest daughter, Hallie (a Tony-nominee for her work in her father’s “Dividing The Estate,” which premiered at Primary Stages before its Broadway transfer), convey the poignancy and humor in these brief tales. This production is something of a family affair, featuring Hallie Foote’s husband, Devon Abner, himself a veteran of other Horton Foote productions and an ensemble many of whom  have also appeared in other Foote plays.


The first of the three plays is the sweetly funny “Blind Date,” which has Dolores (Hallie Foote) fussing over her truculent niece, Sarah Nancy (Andrea Lynn Green.) Green’s clumping Sarah Nancy is delightful.

There are some particularly sharp insights into the avuncular C.W. Rowe (Jeremy Bobb), the executive in “The One-Armed Man,” part two on the bill, whose sense of charity is shaded by his self-importance.



Jeremy Bobb and Devon Abner in “The One-Armed Man” from  “Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote” at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters. © 2012 James Leynse.

“The Midnight Caller” is a wistful look at winners and losers in love. In it, Miss Rowena Douglas (Jayne Houdyshell) is incurably romantic, staring at fireflies and the harvest moon from the windows of the boarding house she shares with two other women. Alma Jean Jordan (Mary Bacon) and “Cutie” Spencer (Andrea Lynn Green, showing her versatility), stenographers in the local courthouse, each resigned in her own way to spinsterhood. When their landlady, Mrs. Crawford (Hallie Foote) takes in new boarders, Helen Crews (Jenny Dare Paulin) and a gentlemen, Mr. Ralph Johnston (Jeremy Bobb) scandal enters their parlor. Helen’s former lover, Harvey Weems (Alexander Cendese) crys out into the night for a love lost while another love blossoms.



Clockwise from left: Jayne Houdyshell, Mary Bacon, Jeremy Bobb, Andrea Lynn Green, Jenny Dare Paulin, and Alexander Cendese in “The Midnight Caller” from “Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote” at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters. © 2012 James Leynse.
  

Everything in the Pam McKinnon-helmed production is dry and spare. Marion Williams has made some excellent choices in the scenic design, using a simple and versatile staircase to help delineate and define the small space in each of the three short works. The costumes by Kate Voyce elegantly reflect the time periods – 1928 for the first two and 1952 for the last- of each story.



Understanding the heart and soul is an attribute of the greatest philosopher-writers. It’s not for nothing that Horton Foote has been referred to as the American Anton Chekhov. He is plainspoken and straightforward, yet sees the nuances and foibles in humanity.In 1996, Foote was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, just one among his many honors which included two Academy Awards and a Pulitzer.


To find out more about “Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote,” please visit http://primarystages.org/