Posted in #critique, athletic, ballet, balletic, classic, connectivity, dance, dance making, dancing, empowerment, high expectations, history, in repertory, joy, legacy

Howdy, Partner

Partnering has developed a new look as the 21st century progresses. Partly, this is a reflection of a more liberal social milieu. Gender fluidity is the term of art for this LGBTQ-era. Same sex marriage, mixed use bathrooms, dorms which house both boys and girls on the same floor are part of our new-age maturity.

Equality has certainly not come full-circle. The workplace and the quotidian are still often off-kilter and exhibit the same kinds of inequities that have been with us forever. We are working on it, much as the dance makers are working on many more diverse ways to partner.

Many choreographers– Justin Peck, Christopher Wheeldon Benjamin Millipied etc.– experiment with male on male lifts, and Jessica Lang has a woman catch and release her male partner at one point in Her Notes.

Roles can be reversed for Mr. Mom and his executive wife. We’ve come to accept that and to expect to see it in our arts and entertainments. The glass ceiling– and other prejudices and biases– will be broken and taken down in tiny steps rather than with crowbars.

Posted in David Wilson Barnes, family drama, inheritance, Jennifer Mudge, legacy, Michael Cristofer, Stephen Belber

"Don’t Go Gentle"

We all know that the scales of justice are often out of balance. 

In Stephen Belber’s “Don’t Go Gentle,” an MCC Theater world premiere at the Lucille Lortel through November 4th,  Lawrence (Michael Cristofer) looks to right that inequity. 

Photo by Joan Marcus. David Wilson Barnes as Ben, Jennifer Mudge as Amelia and Michael Cristofer as Lawrence.

Lawrence, a conservative judge who is sick with cancer, makes end of life assessments and adjustments. Lawrence is concerned over his legacy. In his eagerness to redress wrongs and “evolve” as he puts it, he over-corrects and crosses a line.

Encouraged by his daughter, Amelia (Jennifer Mudge) to give pro bono counsel, Lawrence offers his legal advice to Tanya (Angela Lewis.) Tanya and her teenage son, Rasheed (Maxx Brawer) are badly in need of Lawrence’s aid. What starts out as a project to keep Lawrence active, ends by giving him a purpose.

Photo by Joan Marcus. David Wilson Barnes and Michael Cristofer in a scene from “Don’t Go Gentle”

Lawrence’s decisions rekindle the resentments his children, particularly his son, Ben (David Wilson Barnes) harbor from an unexceptional childhood.

Maxx Brawer, Angela Lewis with David Wilson Barnes in background, and Michael  Cristofer in a photo by Joan Marcus

The acting with Michael Cristofer in the lead, is superb. Newcomer, Maxx Brawer makes the most of Rasheed’s gawky but inherent nobility and wisdom. Angela Lewis, David Wilson Barnes and Jennifer Mudge each deiiver little gems of characterization. 

Director Lucie Tiberghien understands and clarifies the moral dilemmas in Belber’s wonderfully-written “Don’t Go Gentle.”  The pacing in each scene of the intermissionless production is perfect.

For more information on MCC Theater and “Don’t Go Gentle,” please visit

Posted in Daisy Foote, dark comedy drama, family drama, inheritance, legacy, The Foote Family Legacy

Disquiet Contemplation in "HIM"

Nature can be both cruel and glorious.

The titular and unseen “HIM” in Daisy Foote’s new play, in a Primary Stages production at 59E59 Theaters through October 28th, leaves volumes describing the pleasure he felt sitting on a mountaintop.

Hallie Foote as Pauline and Tim Hopper as Henry in “HIM” at Primary Stages. Photo by James Leynse.

Quiet contemplation is the antithesis of the hubbub of family life. In “HIM.” his children see only a remote and withdrawn man. It’s not entirely satisfying that so much of the story of “HIM” is pegged to this mysterious disconnection, to what was unknown or unknowable about their father. Nonetheless, there is so much humor  and humanity in “HIM” that the emotional characterizations ring true and clear.

The eldest, Pauline (Hallie Foote) harbors deep resentful hatred for the father she does not understand because of the poverty in which the family has lived. She is ambitious, acquisitive and envious of her better-off neighbors.

Adam LeFevre as Farley and Tim Hopper as Henry in “HIM.” Photo by James Leynse.

“We don’t have lives,” she tells her brother Henry (Tim Hopper), “we have existences.” Pauline’s burdens which include caring for their retarded brother, Farley (Adam LeFevre), his girlfriend Louise (Adina Verson) and a failing family business are brightened by an unexpected inheritance. Meanwhile, looking for a glimmer of understanding of their father’s legacy, Henry wonders, as he reads the journals his father left behind,  “What was he reaching for when he died?”

The small and accomplished cast, ably led by director Evan Yiounoulis, polish the jewel-like dialog in “HIM” to a fine sheen.

Primary Stages is celebrating the Foote Family Legacy this season. So far, they have given us Horton Foote’s closely observed vignettes of life in “Harrison, TX” and his daughter Daisy’s skillful look at a misappropriated legacy in “HIM.” Hallie Foote, the other family treasure, has her deft and subtle acting to both productions.

For more information about Primary Stages and this production of “HIM,” visit