Posted in 2-hander, air force, also a film, army airmen, autobiographical, based on a movie, based on a real world conflict, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, Bryce Pinkham, carpet bombing, comedy about a serious subject, dark comedy drama, drama based on real events, duped by love, ensemble acting, family, fathers and sons, holiday show, memoir, memories, musical theatre, musicals and dramas, narration, new work, Off or Off-Off Broadway Transfer, offbeat work, parents and children, play, play with music, Roundabout Theatre Company, serious comedy, storytelling, stylistic, the damaged and hurting, theater, Vietnam background, war

Legacies of war

bycarolrosegg
Jon Hoche, Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson (center), Jennifer Ikeda, and Samantha Quan. Photo © Carol Rosegg

History can sometimes revel in a very personal dynamic.

For instance, those of us who lived through and joined in protests against the Vietnam War may not share the viewpoint of the main character in Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, currently playing at MTC’s City Center Stage I through December 4th.

Quang (Raymond Lee) was a pilot in the South Vietnamese armed forces. He was trained in the United States. He saw the North Vietnamese as a genuine threat to life and liberty and welcomed the help of American soldiers in the struggle.

Vietgone is a fast-paced kind-of-multi-media excursion into the hero’s and heroine’s, Tong (Jennifer Ikeda), survival. They meet at a state-side refugee camp where Tong and her mother (Samantha Quan, in a number of roles) have come after the fall of Saigon.

The piece is, and isn’t, narrated by the Playwright (Paco Tolson, also playing several people), who is commemorating his parents’ story. There are rapped love songs, (original music by Shane Rettig) motorcycles, a roadtrip, and a bromance– all trappings to some extent of the era portrayed in the plot.

For the most part, Vietgone is entertaining, interesting, unusual in structure, and well presented. There is room for some cuts here and there. The cast, under May Adrales’ direction, and staging, with scenic designs by Tim Mackabee and projection design by Jared Mezzocchi, are excellent.

In other subscription house news from our household:

Roundabout’s Love, Love, Love (reviewed earlier and playing through 12/18) can make us feel guilty first for Brexit and now Trump as it portrays boomers resting in reactionary comfort.

Over at Studio 54 througfh January 15, 2017, Roundabout has mounted a vehicle for nostalgia. Holiday Inn, with no irony whatsoever, cries out for Mickey and Judy. It is well-served by the cast on hand, however, and a pleasantly tuneful production makes for a great afternoon at the movies, er theater.Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu are the friends and dancing partners, along with Megan Sikora, and Lora Lee Gayer who lead the ensemble in song and dance.

Heisenberg Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex-- Denis Arndt; Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass; Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith; Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus
Heisenberg
Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex– Denis Arndt;
Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass;
Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith;
Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus

MTC gives us Heisenberg at its Broadway venue, the Friedman Theatre through December 11th. Why Heisenberg? The play, so well-acted by Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker as to have one puzzling over the quantum physics of it name, is an enjoyable two-hander. It’s gimmicky staging notwithstanding, the dynamic of the drama is captivating. Heisenberg is a sweet-crazy story, written by Simon Stephens, the pen behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Heisenberg was a transfer from Off-Off, and as such had some buzziness surrounding it.Director Mark Brokaw elicits strong performances from both his actors. Parker, who unleashes the odd-ball in her character in little bursts, is fun to watch.Arndt’s charm reveals how a pent-up man can suddenly be both impetuous and child-like. So, back to the title: Heisenberg has an underlying if small principle of uncertainty that you will likely enjoy.

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 holiday show, musical theater, variety show

Seasonal Greetings from “the Plaids”

Bradley Beahen as Frankie, John-Michael Zuerlein as Smudge, Jose Luaces as Sparky, and Ciaran McCarthy as Jinx in the New York premiere of Plaid Tidings, the holiday edition of the ever popular Forever Plaid. James Followell on piano and Joseph Fitzgerald on bass in background. Now in performance through December 27, 2015 at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s. Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg.
A Holiday Card from
Bradley Beahen as Frankie, John-Michael Zuerlein as Smudge, Jose Luaces as Sparky, and Ciaran McCarthy as Jinx in the New York premiere of Plaid Tidings, the holiday edition of the ever popular Forever Plaid. James Followell on piano and Joseph Fitzgerald on bass in background. Now in performance through December 27, 2015 at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s. Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg.

Is there a better time to enjoy a cheerfully silly varietal show than the holiday season?

Methinks, not. The troupe that calls itself Forever Plaid, with original vocal and musical arrangements by James Raitt, and directed and staged by Stuart Ross, have brought  a “Speical Holiday Edition,” Plaid Tidings, to the York Theatre Company through December 27th.

Plaid Tidings fulfills all the necessary for a variety show, set in the mid 20th century, à la the Zenith TV sets those of us who remember that far back knew. It is especially satisfying when the Plaids–John-Michael Zuerlein as Smudge, Bradley Beahen as Frankie,  Jose Luaces as Sparky, and Ciaran McCarthy as Jinx– sing. The musical numbers under the direction of James Followell on piano are easy listening in the best possible sense.

Some highlights from the production include Bésame Mucho, rendered by Jinx with his castmates on background; Hey There. Stranger in Paradise and Fever, all beautifully rendered tributes to the originals. The James Riatt arrangement of Jamaica Farewell provides an opportunity for a big, well-lit production number.

 

Plaid Tidings was originally produced at the Pasadena Playhouse, for which it was written.

For more information about Plaid Tidings, and the York Theatre Company, please visit http://www.yorktheatre.org.