Posted in 2001, academia, ambition, arts and events, award winning, ballet, balletic, boys, boys and girls, dance, dance making, dancing, Ellen Robbins, girls, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, lessons, music, narration, new work, performance works, teens, young cast, youth

Ah, youth

Photo © Lina Dahbou

Is it true that youth is wasted on the young? Perhaps not, at least this group of youngsters is making the most of their time and talents. And yes, I am a little jealous.

There is a good deal to be said for getting an early start. Youth is lithe and agile. It is a great season for dancing, Movement can be the lingua franca for the young; it is their body language as it were.

Ellen Robbins’ Dances By Very Young Choreographers at Live Arts, on January 26th and 27th, will be showcasing works by children as young as 8. The dance-makers, ranging in age from 8 to 18, study modern dance and choreography with Ms. Robbins.

The program ranges across the many styles of dance performance, from the humorous, narrative, to the lyrical. The music selections, chosen by the choreographers, include folk, jazz, classical, contemporary.

Ellen Robbins has been teaching dance sine 1966 and has received honors for her work with children. She has taught dance education at Sarah Lawrence and been on the faculties of Bennington College, the 92nd Street Y, and other distinguished institutions. In 2001, Dances By Very Young Choreographers was on the program at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

After the matinee on January 26th, there will be an evening concert by the Alumni of Dances by Very Young Choreographers, which presents work by dancers who studied with Robbins from 1982 to 2016.  

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 drama, empowerment, feminism, girls, growing up, self-actualization, song and dance, The Vagina Monologues, young cast

Empowering The Young: "Emotional Creature"

We’re a long way from “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” 

Eve Ensler’s “Emotional Creature,” in an outside production imported from California’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre to The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, through January 13th, details the atrocities that so often rob girls of their childhood.
Molly Carden  in “Emotional Creature” by Eve Ensler. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
All over the globe, they are deprived of their girlhood by being abducted, beaten into prostitution, forced into factory labor, raped, denied an education. But it’s not just crimes, like genital mutilation, that keep girls from enjoying their youth. There is also peer pressure to be skinny, to be straight, to be popular, to be pretty that add hardship to the confusion that is part of growing up.  
Ashley Bryant in “Emotional Creature” by Eve Ensler. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
This panoply of obstacles to self-actualization is rendered in monologue, and in song and dance, in “Emotional Creature” by an enthusiastic cast of young women.
Joaquina Kalukango in “Emotional Creature” by Eve Ensler. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In her title, Ensler has co-opted the notion that conflates being female with having an excess of feeling, the diagnosis of which was once simply called hysteria. Unfortunately, even though Ensler’s earnest feminism is never in doubt, the passion in “Emotional Creature” feels like politically correct lip-service. The world-wide success of her earlier play,“The Vagina Monologues,” led to the creation of V-Girls, as a platform to empower the young  as Ensler’s foundation, V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women had empowered a generation of adult women.
Olivia Oguma in “Emotional Creature” by Eve Ensler. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Subtitled “the secret life of girls around the world,” “Emotional Creature” is just too ambitious in its scope. There is too much going on– some of it funny, some of it heartwrenching, some of it inconsequential — unless perhaps you are that teenage girl trying to fit in.  What we don’t get is to feel fully engaged with “Emotional Creature.” 

These girls stories are for the most part too dire to trivialize, but “Emotional Creature,” in aiming alll over the world glosses over and simplifies a world of troubles. In fact, some of the lighter and funnier moments are the best part of “Emotional Creature.”  Those include the cast in a chat room worrying over what not to eat. Ashley Bryant taking and critiquing pictures for her Facebook page and Sade Namei missing her pre-nose job face make for amusing insights into the secret lives of girls.

The cast also includes  Emily Grosland, Joaquina Kalukango, Molly Carden, and  Olivia Oguma. Running time is just under 90 minutes.
For more information please visit http://emotionalcreature.com