It takes a special kind of imagination to recreate the magic of childishness. It is the province of the brilliantly insightful.
Dennis Lee is a poet who captures the child’s world. His book of verses for the young and mischievous, Alligator Pie, has been adapted by five of Soulpepper’s artists into a frothy mix of antic play and playful theatrics.
Ins Choi, Raquel Duffy, Mike Ross, Gregory Prest and Ken Mackenzie are the collaborators and stars of Alligator Pie, in repertory at Pershing Square Signature Center through July 29th. The production is delicious. Its appeal to children is undeniable, as witnessed by their rapt attention; it is likewise a treat for the grown-ups accompanying them to see this sparkling tom-foolery.
For more information, a schedule of all the performances during their residence in New York, and tickets, please visit Soulpepper On 42nd Street.
Fashions come and go in clothing, in the arts, even in the theater, which also experiences changing styles. In the Greek amphitheater, plays would last all day. For Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s audiences, there were often five act tragedies or comedies.
A few years ago, T and B sat in utter surprise when a play ended in just 51 minutes. Today, the drama, comedy, or musical without an intermission is quite common. Likely, it will be longer than an hour, but nonetheless, it will be a one-act play.
Currently running without an interval….
This is far from an exhaustive tour of 90-minute shows currently playing New York City, but it has breadth.
For instance, on stage at the Golden Theatre is Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, clocking in at under 90 minutes. Laurie Metcalf, this year’s Tony winner for Best Actress, is leaving the production on July 23rd, when there will also be other cast changes. Although Jayne Houdyshell stays on as the family housekeeper, Julie White will take over as Nora Helmer; Stephen McKinley Henderson will replace Chris Cooper as Torvald, and Erin Wilhelmi comes aboard as the Helmer’s daughter, Emmy, replacing Condola Rashad.
Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s 1984 comes to Broadway’s recently redecorated Hudson Theatre from a successful UK run. and is advertised as a “chilling 101 minutes.” 1984, a play adapted from George Orwell’s oft-quoted novel, delivers its abject view of a world in which our minds are controlled by an ubiquitous Big Brother without an intermission.
Pipeline at Lincoln Center’s Newhouse Theater, a new and timely play by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, confronts the realities that pit opportunity against community and identity. Pipeline also plays without an intermission.
At Soulpepper on 42nd Street, the Toronto troupe is performing a repertoire of plays and musicals, ensemble pieces, and cabaret. Some of this repertory, like Kim’s Convenience is performed in a brisk 85 minutes at Pershing Square Signature Center, giving you plenty of time to run out to the corner market before dinner. The musical adaptation of Spoon River also runs without pause, and is a mere hour and 35 minutes.
For tickets, scheduling and information, please click for the show sites:
You might think that Will (now a TV series, seemingly inspired by our friends at Something Rotten!, in which The Bard is a Rock Star) would not approve.
In truth, though his plays had many acts, folks walked in and out as they saw fit. The audience were a rowdy bunch we probably would not tolerate in our theaters today. Theatrical etiquette is far more decorous these days.
I make that statement despite having to sit through a show next to an apple-chewing patron once upon a matinee. Cell-phone incidents are another of the annoyances that Shakespeare’s contemporaries would not have had to contend with, but that are very common among today’s audiences.
All this off the beam, however, as I was lauding the show without an interval. In that vein, I will admit that the above mentioned Something Rotten! was NOT a musical without an intermission. Many of the plays I have enjoyed over the years have been multi-acts with the obligatory pause for the audience to find refreshment and stretch their legs.
more shortly, so come on back, after this brief intermission…. and it’s July 11th, so we are back in 1, 2, 3:
n William Shakespeare’s (and Kit Marlowe’s) time, eating oranges and throwing tomatoes were not unusual activities during the course of a theatrical performance. The audience hardly needed a pause in the action to eat or drink or wander about. The interval was not for the patrons but the actors to regroup. It was for a change of scene; the groundlings bustled about throughout the show.
Get to the point, we say, and so the one act does. It suits our times as a longer play fit other eras and fashions.
A story told in one breath, without a break has a different arc from the one that follows the convention of three (or five) acts. It is shaped and shared differently. In some ways, it packs more intensity by providing a continuity of action.
And 90 minutes or an hour and forty-five is a manageable chunk of time for those of us whose attention spans have been shortened by social media.
A one-act play is a haiku, often the more beautiful for being succinct.
Family relationships are a tricky business, made more so when a family business is actually involved.
Ins Choi has written a tribute to his family and the business in which he grew up. Kim’s Convenience, in repertory at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre during Soulpepper on 42nd Street’s run through July 29th, won the Toronto Fringe Festival New Play Contest and is a series on CBC-TV, co-produced by Soulpepper.
A funny and poignant play, Kim’s Convenience is about a proudly stubborn patriarch, Appa (or Dad in Korean) (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and his family at a crossroads. Convenience stores are in fact intimate spaces, in which neighbors gather, and which tells the story of both the proprietor and his customers.
Rather than take the money offered him for the variety store by Mr. Lee (Ronnie Rowe, Jr., also in several other roles), Mr. Kim asks his daughter, Janet (Rosie Simon) to run the shop. The payout would mean he and his wife, Umma (mom) (Jean Yoon) could retire comfortably. Instead, Mr. Kim wants to pass on what he has built. He also knows that his legacy is in his children, Janet and his estranged son, Jung (Ins Choi.)
There is no mention of gentrification, yet it is palpably present in this scenario. In fact, change and cultural/generational differences and misunderstandings are a big part of the humor and the heart of Kim’s Convenience.
The set by Ken MacKenzie (who, also, designed the costumes) is fully stocked, all the details of a corner store compactly and intricately laid out.
Under Weyni Mengesha’s adroit direction, Kim’s Convenience holds our regard.
A little bit like the musical 1776 and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster, Hamilton,The Fourth of July is a theatrical celebration in honor of the United States of America.
That whole nativist thing doesn’t really fly– you know, as in “Immigrants get the job done”– although we might say, we are all immigrants. This is a country that started with a group of British subjects, not native to America, rebelling against their King and country across the seas.
They came as colonists to this land, as all immigrants do, to seek a better life. Economic and religious freedom, and opportunities are common denominators; this is what we all commonly seek for ourselves when we emigrate from one place to another.
Summer and theater are words often linked but less so in this big city than in summer stock country.
Theater, like some of your neighbors, heads to the Berkshires, or Saratoga, or another vaguely vacationy venue.
There are always remnants, of course, such as the hits that play the Great White Way regardless of season, and of course the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park.
Starting in July, the New York Musical Festival gives voice to new works in off-Broadway houses. This year, thanks to some visitors from Toronto, the NYMF and Soulpepper on 42nd Street, appear in such close proximity that we can only suggest you tablehop a bit.
Take in as many of the NYMF premieres at Theatre Row and at Playwrights Horizons’ Peter Jay Sharp Theatre as you can. Head a little further west to sample the workshops, master classes, ensemble creations, and new plays that the Soulpepper Theatre is presenting at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre stages.
Among the other highlights of our NYC summer there is the Bolshoi Ballet dancing The Taming of The Shrew at Lincoln Center. Check out the full list of summertime offerings at the Lincoln Center Festival, another annual event.
John Banvard was a muralist during the days after the American Civil War. He painted portraits and panoramas. His mechanism for displaying a moving panorama received mention in the December 16, 1848 issue of the Scientific American magazine.