Posted in comedy-drama, drama, romance

Plus one

College is kind of a demarcation line for growing up. Once past that point, you are expected to do grown up things. Get a job. Find a life mate. In short, settle down, like so many of your friends have done.

Significant Other, at the Booth Theatre through April 23rd, in a Broadway transfer, features Gideon Glick in the lead. Joshua Harmon’s play is, like its lead, eminently sweet and charming. Most of Glick’s castmates, including Lindsay Mendez, Sas Goldberg, Luke Smith, Barbara Barrie and John Behlmann are reprising their off-Broadway Roundabout roles. They are joined by Rebecca Naomi Jones as Vanessa.

Visit http://www.significantotherbroadway.com/ for tickets.

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 dance, dancing with the stars, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Luis Bravo, Maxsim Chermkovskiy, romance, tango

Sexy Sells: "Forever Tango"

Gilberto Santa Rosa and the cast and musicians of Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” in a photo by Walter McBride.

Tango is about desire and possession.

Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” returning from a world tour to The Walter Kerr Theatre through September 15th, is a showcase for the ritualized sexiness of this aggressively elegant dance.

Karina Smirnoff and Max Chmerkovskiy with the cast of “Forever Tango.” Photo by Walter McBride.

Guilty pleasure and fan favorite Maxsim Chmerkovskiy adds his “Dancing with the Stars” charisma as a Guest in “Forever Tango,” partnering with the lovely and talented Karina Smirnoff, herself a mirror ball trophy winner on the ABC show. The varied choreography — no small feat in such a familiar dance form– is attributed to The Dancers, each pair of whom is responsible for the acts they perform. The exception is “Comme I’ll Faut,” choreographed by Juan Paulo Horvath and Victoria Galoto for Max and Karina. 
Juan Paulo Horvath and Victoria Galoto in Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” at the Walter Kerr through September 15th. Photo by Walter McBride.

In a tribute to the signature instrument that gives the tango its distinctive sound, Juan emerges from a giant bandoneon in “Preludio del Bandoneon y la Noche” to be joined by Victoria coming from the wings. Juan has his own somewhat gangsterish charm and is very dapper in spats and fedora. 

The many and also varied costumes for “Forever Tango” are the design of Argemira Affonso, each costume change setting up the scene and the characters. Of course, the tuxedo or some variant is the staple for the men in many of the tangos. It’s the ladies who get to show off leg in black split skirts with red trim, or in slinky white sequined gowns. It’s also the ladies, who Ginger Rogers-like, do what the men do, just backwards and in stilettos. 

Erotic and dangerous, rugged and delicate, the tango requires precision and artistry, all of which the cast provide in abundance. Gilberto Santa Rosa, “El Caballeor de la Salsa,” with five Grammies to his name, sings bewitchingly of longing and love, sometimes in accompaniment of the dancers, sometimes on his own. 3-time Latin Grammy and Granmy Award winner, Luis Enrique takes over for him on July 30th.

Ariel Manzanares and Natalia Turelli are the comic relief in “Forever Tango,” and they take their role very seriously. For example, in the wry “La Tablada,” the couple fight over an elicit camera which they in turn flash at the orchestra and each other. Manzanares gives witty impersonations of a clown in his appearances, while Turelli plays the straight woman to perfection.

The large company of dancers, as well as the on-stage orchestra, has clearly been chosen from the best of the best.

“Forever Tango” is not a prescriptive or a rallying cry, but a promise. There is infinite variety in the ardor of its movements which promises lifetimes of pleasure.
For more information about Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” please visit http://forevertangobroadway.com/.

Posted in a bar in Newark, Anita Loos also wrote Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, drinking and thinking, Karen Ziemba, love, rebirth, romance, romantic comedy, The Jersey Mecca Cocktail Bar

It’s a "Happy Birthday" when Addie comes out of her shell

Being drunk and lovesick may not be an ideal combination.

In Anita Loos’s “Happy Birthday,” at Theatre Row;s Beckett Theatre in a TACT production through April 13th, the combination proves magical.

Mary Bacon as Addie Bemis and Todd Gearhart as Paul Bishop in “Happy Birthday.” Photo by Hunter Canning.

The mousy librarian, Miss Addie Bemis (Mary Bacon) is lovestruck. She shows up at Gail Hosmer’s (Karen Ziemba) Jersey Mecca Cocktail Lounge to warn Paul Bishop (Todd Gearhart) that her father Homer (Anderson Matthews) intends him harm. Paul is the object of Miss Bemis’s affections.

Don’t know how many of us thrive through liberal doses of alcoholic beverages, but Addie Bemis comes into her own the more she drinks. Her priggishness melts and her confidence builds. As the evening goes on, she is sure she can get Mr. Bishop away from Miss Maude Carson (Victoria Mack.)

Addie’s barroom full of new friends, and the audience, are all pulling for her. The bartender, Herman (Ron McClary) gives her godfatherly advice. She sings, she dances, but can she prevail over Miss Carson’s obvious charms?

The large cast to a man and woman are as delightful as the lighthearted, but savvy, romance in “Happy Birthday.” Mary Bacon is especially poweful, as she carries Addie seamlessly from stiff to giddy.

The TACT’s “Happy Birthday” is a gift.

For more information on “Happy Birthday,” please visit http://tactnyc.org/
 

Posted in 2-hander, Canal Park Playhouse, juggling, play with music, romance, Singing in the rain, Valentine's Day

In The Mood for Love?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, many of us turn our thoughts to couplehood– which includes love, of course, and often much more.

Cora Bissett as Helena with Matthew Pidgeon as Bob in “Midsummer [a play with songs]” by David Grieg, who also directs with songs by Gordon McIntyre. Costumes by Georgia McGuiness. at the Clurman. Photo by Douglas Robertson 

Each year, Carol Tambor heads to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to sample the unusual and find the play she deems to be “Best of Edinburgh.” The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation then presents the play thus designated to New York audiences. Last year the work was “Leo” (See review on these pages.)  This year, “Midsummer [a play with songs]”by David Grieg, who also directs, at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre through January 26th, shares the Award with “Mies Julie,” currently running at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

Midsummer [a play with songs]” is an early Valentine’s gift from Ms Tambor to us. In Midsummer [a play with songs]” romance is a by-product of a quest.  

Searching for meaning in booze, sex and bondage (it’s a long story!), Helena (Cora Bissett) and Bob (Matthew Pidgeon) find something far more valuable– friendship and 15,000.

When they meet, Bob is reading “Dostoyevsky… to cheer himself up.” Despite his overtly intellectual endeavors, Bob is “a f****** underachiever.” Their match-up is improbable. He is a low to mid level crook, and she’s a swanky divorce lawyer.

Photo by Douglas Robertson. Helena (Cora Bissett) and Bob (Matthew Pidgeon) in “Midsummer [a play with songs]” by David Grieg, who also directs with songs by Gordon McIntyre. Costumes by Georgia McGuiness.


“Midsummer [a play with songs]” is not for everyone. Love and romance mingles with philosophical asides and silliness in this not strictly linear tale. Songs are interspersed with the narrative and dialogue. “And so– when you see them — the runners,” Helena says, “weaving and glistening through the crowds– you might think, ‘look at them, the fools, they’re trying to run away from death,’ — but they’re not– they’re honestly not– they’re running towards something….”

The central bed is the all-purpose set, cleverly designed by Georgia McGuiness, which also has convenient storage for some of the props the actors need.

Photo by Douglas Robertson of Matthew Pidgeon as Bob and Cora Bissett as Helena in “Midsummer [a play with songs]” by David Grieg, who also directs with songs by Gordon McIntyre. Costumes by Georgia McGuiness. 


While you’re in a romantic mood, take your sweetie to see “Perfect Catch,” being reprised at Canal Park Playhouse on Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm and 4pm through February.

Perfect Catch,” billed as “Throw-mantic Comedy”  takes mime and juggling to Hollywood. Just watching
Jen Slaw and Michael Karas toss umbrellas to the soundtrack of “Singing In The Rain” is worth the price of admission.

To get tickets for “Midsummer [a play with songs],” visit www.telecharge.com. To learn more about “Perfect Catch,” visit www.canalparkplayhouse.com

Posted in Cyrano De Bergerac, drama, fathers and daughters, handicaps, impediments, love story, nose, overweight, romance

Flawed heroes: "Cyrano De Bergerac" and "The Whale"

Sometimes, we allow even minor physical flaws to represent all our failings.

The hero in “Cyrano De Bergerac,” at the Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre through  November 25th, allows his comically large nose to be an impediment to his happiness.

Cyrano (Douglas Hodge) does not suffer fools. He triumphs with his sabre-sharp intelligence and sharper sword. It is his generous heart and animated wit that that command the loyalty of his regiment as well as of his fellow poets and gad-abouts.

Samuel Roukin as Valvert and Douglas Hodge as Cyrano in Roundabout’s production of Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano De Bergerac.” Photo by Joan Marcus

The excitement with which his companions anticipate Cyrano’s arrival energizes the already vibrant opening scene in “Cyrano De Bergerac.” When he finally bursts in, Cyrano mesmerizes with the force of his outsized personality. Douglas Hodge embues Cyrano with so much gusto and fire that he seems to be a mythical hero.

Cyrano and Christian (Kyle Soller), a handsome newly recruited cadet are bonded by their rivalry for Roxanne’s (Clémence Poésy) love.

Clémence Poésy as Roxanne, Kyle Soller as Christian with Douglas Hodge as Cyrano. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Edmond Rostand’s gorgeous and enduring masterpiece of unrequited love gets a beautifully fluid verse translation from Ranjit Bolt in this gorgeous and opulent production.

Roxanne, taken by Christian’s good looks, is even more intoxicated by the rapturous words of love Cyrano writes for him.  Cyrano and Christian share an allegiance that leads to sacrifice. The love in “Cyrano De Bergerac” is unconsummated, tender and wildly romantic.
Peter Bradbury, Jack  Cutmore-Scott, Douglas Hodge, Okeeriete Onaodowan, Samuel Roukin, Bill Buell, and Andy Grotelueschen in “Cyrano De Bergerac.” Photo by Joan Marcus. 
In an excellent and extensive ensemble, Douglas Hodge is a marvel. His performance is both natural and incredible. His Cyrano is a gigantic and imposing figure. After a powerful performance as Spidey’s over-miked nemesis, The Green Goblin,  Patrick Page plays a subtler role as a foppish villain, the Comte de Guiche, 
Jamie Lloyd’s imaginative direction gives this “Cyrano De Bergerac” a feeling of accessibility. It’s somehow akin to gourmet comfort food, familiar in its outlines, astounding in the details of its ingredients. The sets and costumes by Soutra Gilmour provide a lush and elegant backdrop on which Cyrano’s touching story plays out. 

The physical also looms large in Samuel D. Hunter’s “The Whale,” at Playwrights Horizons through December 9th.


 In “The Whale,”Charlie (Shuler Hensley) is so grotesquely overweight that he can barely move around the epic dump (set by Mimi Lien) of an apartment in which he lives. His 600+ lbs have made breathing difficult and painful. Liz (Cassie Beck), his impromptu visiting nurse and friend, lovingly and disgustedly hurls abuse at him while she cares for him.   They are both aware that he is dying.

Like Cyrano, Charlie is a wordsmith. His job is to offer on-line tutorials on term papers. He is a very nonjudgmental teacher. Charlie is a softee with a rosy view of human potential and kindness. In contrast, all the women in his life are tough and angry.

Regina de Courcy, as Ellie, his strange and estranged teenage daughter, gives a brilliant portrayal of a smart and smart-mouthed misfit. Shuler Hensley makes this bleak tale of a man isolated in his immobility riveting.

Samuel D. Hunter’s “The Whale”is a well-conceived play but Rostand’s “Cyrano De Bergerac” is an iconic and soaringly wonderful with  beauty-and-the- beast themed work. The Roundabout has done it proud.
For more information on “The Whale,” please visit Playwrights Horizons.

To learn more about the Roundabout and its production of  “Cyrano De Bergerac,” please go to  Roundabout Theatre Company.

Posted in adapted from an Academy Award winning film, dance, drama, from the movie Ghost, multi-media, musical, musical theater, romance, singing

"Ghost…" Haunts A Broadway Stage

Who knew blockbuster was spelled G_h_o_s_t?

Caissie Levy as Molly Jensen and cast in “Ghost the Musical.” Photo © Joan Marcus.

Bruce Joel Rubin (book & lyrics) has adapted his Academy Award winning film into “Ghost the Musical,” in the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre for what may prove to be a very long run. (See videos from the show at www.ghostonbroadway.com.)

Caissie Levy as Molly Jensen, Richard Fleeshman as Sam Wheat and Bryce Pinkham as Carl Bruner in “Ghost the Musical.” Photo © Joan Marcus.

“Ghost the Musical” merges the cinematic with the dramatic into a spectacular spindrift of song, dance and romance. Matthew Warchus helms a musical play with many moving parts all of which contribute to the atmosphere of other-worldly excitement. The visual tricks (Illusions by Paul Kieve and Video & Projections by Jon Driscoll in a prodcution designed by Rob Howell) will convince the greatest cynic that there are ghosts among us. Ashley Wallen’s dynamic choreography, with additional movement sequences by Liam Steel keep up the pace and tension in “Ghost the Musical” even for those of us who have seen the iconic movie.

Da”Vine Joy Randolph as Oda Mae Brown, Richard Fleeshman as Sam Wheat and Jeremy Davis as a Bank Officer in “Ghost the Musical.” Photo © Joan Marcus.

Like the movie’s plot, “Ghost the Musical” is a simple romantic fantasy. After he is murdered in what looks like a street robbery gone bad, Sam Wheat (Richard Fleeshman) can find no peace until he makes an honest psychic out of the con woman Oda Mae Brown (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). In “Ghost the Musical,” Sam comes to rely on Oda Mae to keep his girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Caissie Levy) out of harm’s way and to avenge his untimely death.
Whoopi Goldberg’s fans won’t be disappointed in Randolph’s sassy Oda Mae, who turns out to have a gift for leading souls to their rest. Randolph is a triple threat star, acting, singing and dancing; her Oda Mae has swagger and vulnerability as she reluctantly befriends Sam’s ghost.

Da”Vine Joy Randolph as Oda Mae Brown and cast in “Ghost the Musical.” Photo © Joan Marcus.

Fleeshman develops his character well showing first Sam’s bewilderment at what has happened to him, and then his tenacity at making things right. Carl Bruner (Bryce Pinkham), Sam’s colleague who hits on Molly a little too soon, is swarmy and appropriately a little creepy. Levy and Fleeshman are pretty to watch adding the heat to this love story.

Caissie Levy as Molly Jensen and Richard Fleeshman as Sam Wheat at the pottery wheel in “Ghost the Musical.” Photo © Joan Marcus.

Even the technical glitch that held up the conclusion in act two at the preview performance this reviewer attended kept everyone in their seats. It was taken as a time to talk amongst ourselves and wait patiently.
Please visit www.ghostonbroadway.com for tickets and to learn more about the show.