Posted in #Roundabout, adaptation, adoption, Andrew Orkin, based on a play, based on Chekhov, Chekhov, Chekhov interpretations, classic, Classic Stage Company, Conor McPherson, drama, dysfunction, Emerging Directors, Ibsen, Ibsen adaptation, Jeff Blumenkranz, love, love story, melancholy, Norwegian playwright, play, Shariffa Ali, Shariffa Chilemo Ali, storytelling, Strindberg, Strindberg adaptation, Victoria Clark, Yael Farber

Modernist Classics

Tony-winner Victoria Clark (for Light In The Piazza) was in the short-lived Broadway run of Gigi

Like our friends Chekhov and Ibsen, August Strindberg invites reinvention, interpretation and re-interpretation. Strindberg’s brooding psychological themes have not had as much stage time as those of his contemporary.**

Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg are modern playwrights, in the sense that Freud is modern. Our preception of the inner workings of the soul and its desires have all been clarified in their work.

We are introduced to characters, conflicts and situations which have us wondering what if? We search for their outcomes and new resolutions for them. Hence the tendency for contemporary writers to rephrase and update Ibsen, or Anton Chekhov or, now especially, August Strindberg.

In the upcoming Classic Stage Company double-bill in repertory, Conor McPerson and Yaël Farber rework two Strindberg pieces, Dance of Death and Miss Julie. This Strindberg celebration runs from January 15th through March 10th at the CSC’s theatre on East 13th Street.

Farber’s Mies Julie resets the play to the Karoo of South Africa, adding a new dimension to the social conflicts in the original. Mies Julie is directed by Shariffa Ali who brings enlightened and empassioned humanitarian activism into the play’s broader themes.

Victoria Clark is helming the production of McPherson’s interpretation of Dance of Death. You surely know her as a Broadway musical star, who won a Tony for her lead in The Light In the Piazza, and was a nominee for four of her other outings. Lately, Ms. Clark has been directing musicals and operas around the country. She brings her sense of the lyricism in words to Strindberg’s brutal vision of a marriage in decline.

** (Strindberg’s Miss Julie, for instance, was last seen at the Roundabout in 2007 with Jonny Miller and Sienna Miller, although an off-Broadway production of his lesser-known The Pelican was produced in 2016.)

Posted in drama, forgotten plays, found plays, Irish drama, lost plays, love, love story, old, radio drama, Teresa Deevy, The Mint Theatre

Deevy Project

Generally when I hear a play has not been produced in lo these many years, I think perhaps its absence was a welcome thing.

Not so with the Deevy Project works, or for that matter most of the Mint Theater’s repertory.

The Suitcase Under the Bed, at the Beckett at Theatre Row extended through September 30th 23rd, refers to the place where Mint Artistic Director, Jonathan Bank found the treasures on this bill of four one-act plays. Thanks to his exacting curation, the program has a cohesion of theme and sensibility.

It opens with Strange Birth, a charming love story, with the very charming Ellen Adair playing the housemaid Sara Meade, the object of Bill The Post’s (Aidan Redmond) affection. The other three plays–In The Cellar of My Friend and Holiday House, and finishing with The King of Spain’s Daughter— are all in fact love stories as well. Some are wry, some are winsome, all eccentric to a degree particular in a Teresa Deevy play.

The cast of seven (in addition to Adair and Redmond, Gina Costigan, Sarah Nicole Deaver, Cynthia Mace, Colin Ryan, and A.J. Shively– each in a variety of roles) deliver their diverse characterizations superbly. There are lovely musical interludes as well as Entr’acte poems to mark the transitions from one play to the next. The scenic designs by Vicki R. Davis serve each setting with small but well detailed changes.

Each story is carefully defined and delineated with care under Jonathan Bank’s splendid direction.

For more information, and tickets for this and other Mint productions, please visit
http://minttheater.org/.

 

Posted in love, love story, Romeo and Juliet, timeless tale

Where for art thou?

temple 300dpi 5x5 FINAL
Logo from Temple of the Souls

Forbidden love, star-crossed love, these are timeless stories and often go under the rubric Romeo & Juliet. The Shakespeare tragedy, itself derived from an older tale, has spawned many modern adaptations and imitations. The musical West Side Story, set in New York where the feuding Montagues and Capulets are replaced by rival gangs, is famously based on the Bard’s play.

Temple of the Souls, a new musical with book by Anita Velez-Mitchell (and story), Lorca Peress and Anika Paris, and music and lyrics by Anika Paris and Dean Landon, at the NYMF in July,  uses time travel to depict the history of Puerto Rico, a country whose people are descendents of an indigenous Indian nation mixed with the occupying Spaniards. It is also about star-crossed lovers, a young Taino man (Andres Quintero) and the daughter (Noellia Hernandez) of a Conquistador (Danny Bolero.)

To learn more about Temple of the Souls, please visit www.templeofthesouls.com.

Posted in acceptance, adultery, aspiration, comedy-drama, committment, couples, dalliance, dramedy, infedility, love, love story, loyalty, premieres, romance, serious comedy, The Mint Theatre

Monogamy

Is it really cheating if your spouse approves your infidelity?

Creatives    Directing Jonathan Bank     Sets Carolyn Mraz     Costumes Hunter Kaczorowski     Lights Xavier Pierce     Original Music & Sound Jane Shaw     Projections Katherine Freer     Props Joshua Yocom     Casting Stephanie Klapper, CSA     Product
Max von Essen and Elisabeth Gray in Yours Unfaithfully by Miles Malleson. Photo © Richard Termine.

Exploring the conventions of marriage and the humbug of monogamy, Miles Malleson wrote and published Yours Unfaithfully in 1933. Mint Theater Company is giving this charming and disarming comedy/drama a premiere showing through February 18th, under the direction of Jonathon Bank. For this discovery, we owe them a great thanks.

Creatives    Directing Jonathan Bank     Sets Carolyn Mraz     Costumes Hunter Kaczorowski     Lights Xavier Pierce     Original Music & Sound Jane Shaw     Projections Katherine Freer     Props Joshua Yocom     Casting Stephanie Klapper, CSA     Product
Max von Essen and Mikaela Izquierdo in Yours Unfaithfully by Miles Malleson. Photo © Richard Termine

 

 

Stephen Meredith (Max von Essen) is blissfully enjoying his wife’s beneficence. Anne (Elisabeth Gray) has given her blessing for him to “get into some mischief” with Diana Streathfield (Mikaela Izquierdo) in the hope that an affair would rejuvenate Stephen and end his writer’s block.

Neither she nor Stephen imagine any other consequence. They are acting on their convictions that a strong marriage can withstand other and lesser alliances, just as Stephen’s father, the Rev. Meredith (Stephen Schnetzer) acts on his principles when he is shocked to learn of Stephen and Diana’s dalliance. Anne’s confidant and the Merediths’ friend, Dr. Alan Kirby (Todd Cerveris) preaches the counterbalance of the head to the heart.

The brilliantly deft production of Yours Unfaithfully is a welcome addition to the Mint archive. As is customary in a Mint production, sets and costumes have a panache as well. The scenic (by Carolyn Mraz) and costume (by Hunter Kaczorowski) design are admirable. The top-notch ensemble brings Malleson’s smart vision to life with an easy flair. It’s a tribute to all involved that one can’t peg Yours Unfaithfully as  drama, or drawing-room comedy; it transcends labels and stands on its own.

For more information and tickets, please visit the Mint website.

 

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, family drama, love story, Roundabout Theatre Company, theater

Boom boom boom

Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
Love Love Love Richard Armitage, Amy Ryan, and Alex Hurt Director btMichael Mayer; Play by Mike Bartlett Photo by Joan Marcus

Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
Love Love Love Richard Armitage, Amy Ryan, Ben Rosenfield and, Zoe Kazan. Photo by Joan Marcus

One of the many pleasures of theater is when the familiar turns into the unexpected.

When there’s Beatles’ songs, and a character starts rolling a joint, it’s clearly shorthand for the ’60s. And where do we go from the youthful exuberance of that era?

Playwright Mike Bartlett paints an unsentimental portrait of the generation that emerged from the summer of love. Can the disruption promised by the3 enthusiasms of the young be delivered?

Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
Richard Armitage, and Amy Ryan in a scene from Love Love Love. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Love Love Love OFF BROADWAYDRAMA LAURA PELS THEATRE 111 W. 46TH S., NEW YORK, NY 10036 Sparked in the haze of the 60s, Love Love Love explores a relationship charred by today's brutal reality, paranoia and passion. Starring: Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan, Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan Director: Michael Mayer PLAYWRIGHT: MIKE BARTLETT
A scene from Love Love Love with Richard Armitage and Amy Ryan. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Love, Love, Love at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre through December 18th, looks at what happens when the pendulum moves and years pass.

While Henry (Alex Hurt) fancies Sandra (Amy Ryan), his brother Ken (Richard Armitage) is the one she hones in on. Ken is at Oxford as she is, and Henry is just a working bloke. At 19, Sandra knows what she wants, weed and freedom.

Twenty years on, the revolutionary road has led Ken and Sandra to a home in the suburbs with two teenage kids, Jamie (Ben Rosenfield) and Rose (Zoe Kazan). Through it all, Ken and Sandra, still cheerful, seem unfazed by time and change. How have their offspring fared?

Boomers, take note, we might not have succeeded in saving the planet.

Walk down the path with Love, Love, Love to its clear-eyed and unflattering conclusion. It will prove most rewarding. We are always impressed by what Roundabout offers visually in its off-Broadway productions, and the sets by Derek McLane and time-inspired costuming by Susan Hilferty are no exception.

Michael Meyer deftly directs his flawless ensemble in Love, Love, Love. Richard Armitage and Amy Ryan stand out for their

Posted in based on a true story or event, love story, musical theater, theater

Incandescent

There is an all-American breed of comic who is not just a clown but also a genius.

Steve Martin is one of these. He has a brilliant and inventive mind. He is not merely clever, but he’s also erudite. Along with songwriter Edie Brickell, Martin has won a Grammy for Best Original American Roots Song for the album that inspired the musical Bright Star currently enjoying an open run at the Cort Theatre.

The musical, an indigenous art form as American as opera is Italian (or French, depending on your point of view,) has never before been entrusted to this particular native musical genre: Bright Star is Broadway’s first blue-grass musical.

Carmen Cusack and company of Bright Star. Photo by Nick Stokes
Carmen Cusack and company of Bright Star. Photo by Nick Stokes

It’s not a completely original story– it’s billed as being “inspired by a true event”– but it is told with complete originality. Rob Berman and his band of merry men and women provide tuneful accompaniment from inside the cabin on stage. The hoedown that opens the second act is not the only crowd pleaser in Bright Star.

Broadway newbie, Carmen Cusack who stars as Alice in Bright Star, and her co-star Paul Alexander Nolan as Jimmy Ray both deserve the wild applause that greet them. A.J. Shively as Billy Cane and Emily Padgett as Lucy are also natural stand outs. In fact, the entire cast and ensemble are all glorious. Director Walter Bobbie has everyone moving with graceful ease in, around and through Eugene Lee’s excellent minimalist sets. Josh Rhodes provides appropriately country-style dance numbers.

For tickets and information, please visit www.brightstarmusical.com/

Dateline, May 26, 2016: see also the review on VevlynsPen.com at The Wright Wreport.