Posted in Charles Grodin, drama based on real events, new work, New York City, Playroom Theatre, real estate, Richard Curtis

Keepin’ it real (estate)

A segment of New Yorkers speculate over real estate, not in the buy-sell, fix-and-flip sense, but out of a prurient inquisitivity. These folks are fascinated by how much their neighbors paid, the size of their acquisitions, whether there is a space for storage. Our curiosity is piqued by all things realty.

Judging by what can transpire when facing a coop board as witnessed in Richard Curtis’ new play Quiet Enjoyment we are right to wonder. The behaviors of those tasked with protecting their building’s integrity can prove, to put it delicately, very difficult.

Some years ago, Charles Grodin also explored the relationships of a upper east side board of coopers in The Right Kind of People. Mr. Curtis, a multi-talented literary agent and author of a myriad of plays, a novel, a column in a publication called Locus. and some non-fiction about the publishing industry, picks up the subject and its endless fascination in his newest work.

Quiet Enjoyment runs from October18th through November 3rd at The Playrrom Theatre. For tickets click here.

Posted in Daily Prompt, Hair the musical, Hamilton, Joe Papp, John Leguizamo, landmark, Lin-Manuel Miranda, New York City, real estate, The Public Theater, theater space

A theatrical intersection

via Daily Prompt: One-Way

There is a short street in the East Village which goes two-ways but is at its heart a one-way street. 425 Lafayette Street, formerly the Astor Library, was saved from demolition, and gained landmark status, when Joseph Papp turned it into The Public Theater.

A part of the theater’s mission statement says “THE PUBLIC is theater of, by, and for the people. Artist-driven, radically inclusive, and fundamentally democratic, The Public continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today.” The Public began life in 1954 as the New York Shakespeare Festival, but moved into 425 Lafayette in 1967. Fittingly, the opening production was the innovative and “radically inclusive”  Hair, a musical that has had many revivals over time, including the one in 2011 at the St James Theatre in Times Square.

In honor of the 50 year anniversary of the Public, Lafayette at Astor Place will be co-named Joseph Papp Way on December 1 at 8:30a.m. The Public’s Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis will be at the ceremony along with Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs,  Rosie Mendez,  District 2 City Councilwoman, and Gail Papp, Public Theater Board Member. Gail Papp will unveil the commemorative sign, while Eustis will make a few remarks on the occasion.

The recent history of The Public has given us the 11 Tony winning Hamilton, which transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2015. This year, John Leguizamo brought his downtown show, Latin History for Morons,  to Broadway’s Studio 54. In addition to its free Shakespeare in the Park programs, The Public is also a recipient of countless awards and honors for its productions, which are represented not only on Broadway but on stages across the country and worldwide.

“Joe Papp changed the life of New Yorkers forever, creating a beloved institution devoted to making the life of our culture inclusive,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “It is thrilling that the city of New York will recognize him forever by co-naming this street for him.”

Posted in Charles Busch, comedy, female impersonators, inheritance, real estate

Location, location… It’s a drag!

The vagaries of real estate seems such a New Yorker’s obsession.

Keira Keeley, Charles Busch, Julie Halston, Mary Bacon and Jonathan Walker in the Primary Stages production
of “The Tribute Artist” © 2014 James Leynse.

In Charles Busch’s latest ouevre, “The Tribute Artist,” in a Primary Stages production at 59E59 Theaters through March 16th, the real estate is a Greenwich Village townhouse.

The expansive and elegant set, by Anna Louizos, is a grand and dignified persona. The other characters do not fare as well. The live action is marred by improbability, admittedly often very funny, and a slow pace.

Cynthia Harris in the Primary Stages production of “The Tribute Artist” © 2014 James Leynse.
Treading the fine lines between drag queen/female impersonator/and down-and out “celebrity tribute” artist, Jimmy (Charles Busch) seizes a foolproof opportunity. Jimmy’s unwarranted optimism lends both fizz and fizzle to playwright Busch’s comedy. His friend, Rita (Julie Halston) joins him in a scheme to impersonate Adriana (Cynthia Harris); Adriana was Jimmy’s landlady in the beautiful old house, who died in her sleep during a night of carrousing with Rita and Jimmy. 
Julie Haston in the Primary Stages production
of “The Tribute Artist” © 2014 James Leynse.

Halston, a long-time Busch actor and collaborator, and Busch have a natural chemistry and ease. What could go wrong, Jimmy asks? The plot’s twists make for many a merry surprise.

Enter Adriana’s niece by marriage, Christina (Mary Bacon) and her transgender daughter, Oliver (formerly Rachel) (Keira Keeley), wth a claim on the property. Oliver, ever the romantic, hunts up an old flame of Adriana’s on Facebook and hence, enter Rodney (Jonathan Walker.)  Highlights of the producton include an exit scene Busch has written for Rodney, and the fact that young Oliver-Rachel can curse like a stevedore on steroids.

The unrelenting zany in “The Tribute Artist” has some wonderful moments, and some predictible. Don’t fault the cast or director Carl Andress for any lulls in the party; sometimes the zany just falls flat.

It’s always a pleasure seeing both sides of Busch– ingenuous actor, inventive playwright. Unfortunately in “The Tribute Artist,” Busch the playwright does not do Charles Busch, the actor, justice.
(See also Tamara’s Tumblr for additional commentary.)

To learn more about “The Tribute Artist,” please visit http://www.primarystages.org/