Posted in comedy, drama, opera, performance art, singing, theater

What’s doing around our town

Photos by Richard Termine Gotham Chamber Opera – EL GATO Photo Credits Photos by Richard Termine  puppeteers and Kevin Burdette
Photos by Richard Termine
Gotham Chamber Opera – EL GATO Photo Credits
Photos by Richard Termine
puppeteers and Kevin Burdette

through November 23rd
For this production of generations, debbie tucker green, the London-born playwright, is reunited with director Leah C. Gardiner with whom she collaborated on her 2011 Obie winning “born bad.” In generations, audiences are brought into a kitchen in a South African township where a fragrant meal is being prepared and into the lives of three generations of a close-knit family. As they cook and banter and share stories and food, generations explores what is passed on and what is lost through generations of a family and a nation in this structurally audacious new play. generations is a co-production of Soho Rep and the Play Company; it runs through November 23 at Soho Rep. A 13 piece choir is led by Bongi Duma who also composed and arranged the music in generations.

More at http://sohorep.org/generations

December 1st and December 13th
Suzi Shelton performs two family concerts sponsored by Symphony Space.On December 1st, The Suzi Shelton Band takes part in Winter’s Eve, a free celebration of the holiday season. On the 13th, Suzi Shelton joins Amelia Robinson and Mill’s Trills as part of a daylong event in Brooklyn. Suzi Shelton is a regular on the “tot circuit” and composes and performs meaningful material for family-friendly events.

More at http://www.winterseve.nyc/forkids/ and http://www.eventbrite.com/e/ps-133-winter-concert-featuring-suzi-shelton-tickets-14206659501?aff=es2&rank=1

December 2nd
Giving Tuesday and Opening Night combine to make the Urban Stages Outreach an “event.” Winter Rhythms kicks off its season with a tribute to Bing Crosby, champagne and a reception with the artists.

More at http://urbanstages.org/winterrhythms2014. To contribute go to http://urbanstageschristmasgiving.mydagsite.com/

December 6th-14th
Gotham Chamber Opera and Tectonic Theater Project’s production of El gato con botas (Puss in Boots) will be at El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio from December 6-14, 2014. Can the scruffy  “Puss” help his master win the princess’s hand?
Xavier Montsalvatge’s take on the classic story features Bunraku puppetry will be directed by Moisés Kaufman and features puppetry from London’s Blind Summit Theater. El gato con botas, originally created in 2011 by the Gotham Chamber Opera, is a co-production with El Museo del Barrio and Works & Process at the Guggenheim. To add to the magic of the opera, the Teatro’s interior contains scenes from children’s literature, including a mural of “Puss in Boots” designed in 1921 by the gifted illustrator and painter, Willy Pogany (1882-1955).

More at http://www.gothamchamberopera.org/production/el_gato_con_botas_2014

December 6th
Cyberscripting Workshop at the New York Public Library: Around the Block’s workshops focus on the interplay of mathematics, urban experience, and technology in the creation of dramatic works. Admission is free, and you can find out more about the program by attending this workshop at The 115th Street Branch of the NYPL, corner of Adam Clayton Powerll Jr Blvd, at 10:30 on Saturday, December 6th.

Extended to December 7th and December 14th respectively
Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 and 3) by Suzan-Lori Parks has had tremendous reception in the press and with audiences. The play, directed by Jo Bonney, opened October 14th, and in its third extension, The Public announced it will run through December 7th.

Also at the Public Theater, also in an extended run is Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, which will play through December 14th.

Photo: Gary Wilmes, James Stanley, and Pete Simpson in Straight White Men, a co-production with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, written and directed by Young Jean Lee, running at The Public Theater. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.
Photo: Gary Wilmes, James Stanley, and Pete Simpson in Straight White Men, a co-production with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, written and directed by Young Jean Lee, running at The Public Theater. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.

More at http://www.publictheater.org/en/Public-Theater-Season/Father-Comes-Home-from-the-Wars/ and at

http://www.publictheater.org/en/Public-Theater-Season/Straight-White-Men/

Posted in cross dressing, Edwardian and Victorian Music Halls, male impersonators of the stage, singing, Vaudeville

Girls Will Be Boys

Naturally impersonation is about creating an illusion.

Jessica Walker in “The Girl I Left Behind Me” at 59E59. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” playing at 59E59 Theaters through May 19th, co-author and performer Jessica Walker salutes the women who wore the pants in Victorian and Edwardian era music halls and on America’s vaudeville stages.

These ladies in trousers, like Miss Hetty King, Ella Shields, or the 6-foot Gladys Bentley from Harlem, dressed the part but sang in their natural register. Hiding in plain sight, in men’s clothing, achieved great success and had a large following. Walker and her co-writer, Neil Bartlett suggest that their admirers were complicit co-conspirators in women-worship.

Jessica Walker in “The Girl I Left Behind Me” at 59E59. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

It’s a fact that some of these professional cross-dressers may have been lesbians. One, Annie Hindle, in fact managed a marriage by signing the certificate with a man’s name. Nice tidbit, and there are some others in “The Girl I Left Behind Me” that will amuse and edify. But, unfortunately, the historical thesis of the show is neither shocking nor all that interesting.

Joe Atkins at the piano with Jessica Walker in “The Girl I Left Behind  Me.” Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In full gentlemanly attire, with tails and tophat– one of several she doffs for her performance,–Walker shows off a finevoice and a nice way around a variety of musical styles, even the operatic.

“The Girl I Left Behind Me” is presented by Jess Walker Musical Theatre and is part of the Brits Off Broadway. Learn more about “The Girl I Left Behind Me”at www.59e59.org.

Posted in 2-hander, A Chamber Opera, absurdist, chamber music, funny-sad, music, singing, The Hunchback Variations

The intersection of Beethoven and Quasimodo is Chekhov

Is it only the idealists among us who search for the unattainable? Can the melancholic also pursue it?

The premise in “The Hunchback Variations, A Chamber Opera,” at 59E59 Theaters through July 1st, is a doomed collaboration between Ludwig von Beethoven (George Andrew Wolff) and Quasimodo (Larry Adams) to find a sound that will fulfill a stage direction in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.”

Quasimodo and Beethoven, both deaf and more than a touch ornery, are holding a series of panel discussions on the inevitable failure of their project. The attempt to create “the Impossible, Mysterious Sound” and “the Effects on Love and Friendship of Rehearsing the Creation of the Impossible and Mysterious Sound” are the subject for “The Hunchback Variations, A Chamber Opera.” The sound is “impossible” because it is one of nostalgia for something lost or missing or not existent. Beethoven and Quasimodo are trying to find something that eludes the senses.

Mickle Maher, an original member of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck which brought the musical play east, adapted the chamber opera from his eccentric little play “The Hunchback Variations.” His libretto is set to Mark Messing’s score for cello (played by Paul Ghica) and piano (Christopher Sargent.)

Adams and Wolff both have a wry demeanor and pleasant voices. They tell the tale well, revealing the details of the relationship between Quasimodo and Beethoven over the course of eleven “variations.”

Quasimodo asks, “Where do we put the happiness that has not been forged?… Where is the room for keeping all the nothings?” Beethoven responds “I would like to think that such a room exists.”

For a schedule of performances, visit www.59e59.org To learn more about the producing company, Theater Oobleck, visit http://theateroobleck.com

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.