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army airmen, autobiographical, based on a movie, based on a real world conflict, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, Bryce Pinkham, carpet bombing, comedy about a serious subject, dark comedy drama, drama based on real events, duped by love, ensemble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 chronicle, memoir, one man show, Shakespeare, solo show

"In Acting Shakespeare"– Tales From A Life

James Da Vita in a photo by Jacob J. Goldberg from “In Acting Shakespeare.”

For those of us smitten with it, the theater is an uplifting and enriching experience.

James Da Vita’s ” In Acting Shakespeare,” at The Pearl Theatre through February 3rd, stands on the shoulders of Sir Ian McKellan, on whose one man show his own is based, and Shakespeare, whose body of work inspired Da Vita to “a life in the theater.”*

“And that , I think,” Da Vita says, “was Shakespeare’s true gift. He wrote us. He includes all of us in the question of what it is to be human.” 
 
Da Vita, an undeniably smart man, wisely opens with Shakespeare’s great villain Richard III. Contorting his boy into the deformed figure of the would-be King, Da Vita recites his honeyed and poisonous lines with a clarity and deep understanding. James Da Vita knows his Shakespeare!

James Da Vita in “In Acting Sharkespeare” in a photo by Jacob J. Goldberg.

In fact, the excerpts he plays out from the Bard’s work, are the most entertaining sections of his memoire in tribute to his profession.Da Vita is a savvy theatrical technician.

Photo by Jacob J. Goldberg

 

Once a fisherman, the handsome and charismatic Da Vita went from gutting fish to hoisting petards. and writing plays and novels. He is now also the literary manager, and a core member, of American Players Theater in Wisconsin.

Shakespeare’s legacy is of course undeniable and it apparently includes James Da Vita. His stage is  peopled with characters from Hotspur to Polonius, John Shakespeare and young Will himself. “In Acting Shakespeare” is about Da Vita’s journey from unschooled Long Island boy to actor.

*“In Acting Shakespeare” borrows nothing from David Mamet.

To find out more about The Pearl Theatre Company, and “In Acting Shakespeare,” please visit http://www.pearltheatre.org/. Next up at The Pearl, “Henry IV, Part I.”