Posted in American Ballet Theatre, ballet, children's shows, comedy, dance, drama, events, kid-friendly, Manhattan Theater Company, Matthew Bourne, musical theater, The Women's Project, theater, theatrical events, Theresa Rebeck, writing about NYC

What’s on your calendar?

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from cafepress.com

As always, and as our standard preface for these listings, there’s a lot to do and see. New York City theater can keep a body very busy.

Listings for October-November and maybe even December 2017

PortugueseHow time flies? Is it almost the end of this year? Could Halloween be just a week away?

Women’s Project gave this a go in 2016, and it is being reprised at the Westside Theatre.
The cast in Stuffed, playing through February 18th, has changed, except for creator and star, Lisa Lampanelli, and under the same director, Jackson Gray,  but it is still a very relateable comedy. You or someone you know has been on and off the diet wagon for a long time.  Everyone of us has a relationship to food– love it or loathe it.  Can this lead to funny circumstances? With Lisa Lampanelli giving voice to the issues, you bet it can.

Meanwhile, currently at Women’s Project Theatre, What We’re Up Against, a new dark comedy by Theresa Rebeck, playing from October 28th to November 26th, is directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, and features Skylar Astin, Marg Helgenberger, Jim Parrack, Krysta Rodriguez, and Damian Young.

John Patrick Shanley writes wry comedies based in realism with surreal twists. Examples include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, as well as Moonstruck, in which Cosmo’s moon overwhelmes the landscape and Cher’s Loretta tells Nicolas Cage’s Ronny Cammareri
that he’s a wolf who chewed off his own hand. His latest, The Portuguese Kid, at MTC at City Center Stage I through December 3rd, stars Jason Alexander as a lawyer beleaguered by family and clients.

 

Listings are only represent some of the presentations on NYC stages

American Ballet Theatre is in week two of its two week run through October 29th at the David H. Koch at Lincoln Center. Lots of premieres, including a Millipied World Premiere, as well as classics from Frederick Ashton and Jerome Robbins.

Matthew Bourne has a new ballet, his first in many years, which is spending five days on the City Center mainstage, from October 26th through November 5th. There’s a rotating cast for The Red Shoes, and a suggestion that children over the age of 8 would enjoy it.

Speaking of the kiddies, take them to Symphony Space on the weekend with Just Kidding, a series of programs dedicated to events for children. This weekend, there is a Halloween fun day planned for Saturday, October 28th at 11am with Joanie Leeds who will lead the musical costume party. Check out the full schedule at the Just Kidding website.

On Saturday, November 4th, the Symphony Space program offers a new way to teach your little ones new languages. Future Hits, a Chicago rock group, brings their irrestible mix of song with learning to the Just Kidding series. One show only at 11a.m.

Zoe Kazan, actress, playwright, has written a new dystopian play, After the Blast, which is at LCT3 in the Claire Tow Theater through November 19th.

Tired of the dystopian world view? Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves,  about a girls’ soccer squad, is coming to L.C.’s Newhouse Theater beginning November 1st. The team are highly competitive but there is no end-world scenario here. The Wolves had its well-received premiere with Playwrights Realm last year.

John Leguizamo gives us lessons in Latin History for Morons, another Broadway transfer from the Public, to Studio 54 through February 4, 2018. (You may recall that Hamilton went this route….) Leguizamo was inspired by the ignorance of Latino history in his son’s school to create this primer. More information on Latin History for Morons can be found at its official webpage.

 

 

Posted in dance, dance making, drama, drama based on real events, historical drama, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Playwrights Horizons, The Debate Society, Uncategorized

What’s up?

1WorldsFairTeslaPresentationWorld’s Fairs are theme parks for progress. The 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, named in honor of Columbus’ landing in the Americas 400 years before, offered marvels never before seen.

 

Naturally it was commerce that drove the innovation. Technology was well represented by the likes of Nikola Tesla (exhibit pictured.)

Spectacles and the arts also set the stage for novelty and inspiration at Chicago’s great fair.  One feature of the 1893 Exposition was theatrical impressario, Steele MacKaye’s visionary Spectatorium which proved to be a costly and extravagant project. (Spoiler alert, don’t click on the link above if you prefer to be surprised.)

Weekend Plans?

The Light Years presented at Playwrights Horizons through April 2nd (opening night is March 13th) finds the personal in this grand historic event. T and B will be there so look for our review of this new work by the experimental troupe, The Debate Society, next week.

For more information on the production (and tickets), please visit the @PHnyc website.

Leaps and bounds

Acrobats, gymnasts and trapeze artists might be dismissed as circus performers, but their skills are undeniable. Those talents when put in the service of thought-provoking materials rise way above. They are often on display in a Paul Taylor season, and we are fortunate to have the 2017 one starting at Lincoln Center today, March 7th, and running through the 26th.

1TrusanvoecGoodePrintempsTaylor’s dancers (and the dances he devises for them) thrill and jump with all their heart and soul. There is abandoned precision in every move. Some of the highlights T and B will share this season are Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal);  The Weight of Smoke; Lost, Found and Lost; Syzygy and the new The Open Door, among others.

For more information and tickets, please visit the Koch Theater website.

Posted in adaptation, dark drama, David Harrower, Ibsen, Ibsen adaptation, renowned playwright, The Pearl Theatre Company

Majority rule

It rarely happens when I find myself speechless.

David Harrower’s adaptation of Public Enemy, at the Pearl Theater through November 6th, leaves me gob-smacked as our midwestern friends might say.

Populism has a way of drowning out reason, and majority rule can have unwelcome consequences. Ibsen knew this when he created An Enemy of the People, translated by Charlotte Barslund for Harrower’s re-imaging as Public Enemy.

Crowd mentality

The man of principle, Ibsen says, stands alone while the majority is lulled into serving the self-interests of the powerful. And that man, the individual, who stands alone is “the strongest man.”

Dr. Stockmann (Jimonn Cole) stands alone, of course. Stockmann’s insistence that he has discovered that the Baths which are a tourist attraction for their little burg are a health hazard threatens the town’s livelihood and prosperity. He’s alienated everyone, except his wife Katrine (Nilaja Sun) and daughter, Petra (Arielle Goldman) who both acknowledge his genius. The rest of the town, represented by his brother, Peter, the Mayor (Giuseppe Jones), the printer and small businessman, Aslasken (John Keating), the hypocritical newspaper men, Billing (Alex Purcell) and Hovstad (Robbie Tann), all turn against him.His father-in-law, Kiil (Dominic Cuskern) is especially angry since it looks like his tannery has caused the pollution.

Harrower (Good With People, Blackbird, A Slow Air) is no stranger to moral uncertainties and slippery slopes. His adaptation of Ibsen is lean and to the point. The text is thought-provoking, and anything but reassuring. Earlier productions of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, like the one at MTC several seasons back, were equally disheartening.

Standing out in this fine cast, Cole plays Stockmann’s as humbly arrogant with a fine subtlety. The Pearl’s Artistic Director, Hal Brooks directs the ensemble with a light touch, playing on both the tragedy and humor in Public Enemy.

For tickets and more information, please visit The Pearl website.

 

Posted in adaptation, anticipation, Chekhov, Chekhov interpretations, drama, feminism, Ibsen, Ibsen adaptation, Ophelia Theatre Group, Roundabout Theatre Company, The Pearl Theatre Company

Classics anew

opheliaMankind has had the urge to tell its stories since time immemorial. The stories told in different voices all have universal themes. Theatrical history has a long time-line.

Warping that time-line is also a stage-borne tradition. Retelling Antigone’s
tale, as Ivo Van Hove did at BAM last year, for instance, is one way to honor
theatre’s lineage.

Stephen Karam has been charged with recharging Chekhov’s classic Cherry
Orchard for the Roundabout this season. David Harrower is reworking Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People into Public Enemy, currently playing through November 6th over at the Pearl.

Drama poses a problem, offers solutions and catharsis. To that end, Kelly

McCready, an actress and director we recently saw at the Mint in The New Morality has taken on Hedda Gabler. Ms McCready, who has re-imagined this Ibsen and is directing, at the Ophelia Theatre Group , starting on October 27th and running through November 19th, feels that Hedda is too often maligned. She has cut the play to 80 intermission-less minutes, and taken Hedda’s side, as an advocate and a friend. And why not? Hedda should be a feminist hero.

To quote Ms McCready, “This production seeks to throw out preconceptions of the play and the character herself. This Hedda is just a woman who tries to make her new life and relationship with Tesman work, but she can’t combat her circumstances and the expectations placed on her because she’s a woman.

She can’t change any of that.”

BTW, the Ophelia Theatre Group is in Astoria, and Ms McCready also

advocates for the “growing arts community” in this outer borough location.

She says, “Astoria has even earned the nickname “Actoria” in recent years, but it’s obviously difficult to get audiences to venture far from Manhattan. And that means people are missing out.”

The tickets for Hedda Gabler are available here; they are gently priced at $18 which should drag some of you from Manhattan to the wilds of, we might point out, nearby Astoria.

In another vein of adaptation altogether is David Stallings’ Anais Nin Goes to Hell, at The Theater at the 14th Street Y from October 14th through the 29th, which takes a comedic turn but looks at feminist icons. Imagine Andromeda, Heloise, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Queen Victoria, Ophelia, Karen Carpenter and of course Anaïs Nin, all trapped together in the afterlife. The play was a hit in the 2008 Fringe Festival, and is being re-staged here under the direction of Antonio Miniño.

Posted in based on a real world conflict, based on a true story or event, drama, theater

At home in a war zone

African politics can be a complicated business, most often decidedly unglamorous.

Pascale Armand, Lupita Nyong'o, and Saycon Sengbloh in a scene from Danai Gurira's Eclipsed, directed by Liesl Tommy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Pascale Armand, Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o in her Broadway debut, and Saycon Sengbloh in a scene from Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed, directed by Liesl Tommy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Danai Gurira does not prettify the reality. The characters in her drama, Eclipsed, in midst of its Broadway transfer at the Golden Theatre, are all women cast into the scrum of war.

The women have no names, their personhood has been erased by strife. Each of them has a different attitude toward their fate. Each is locked in a cycle of brutalization.

They speak with a shocking matter-of-factness about pillaging, murder and rape. Each women in her own way has been debased and dehumanized.

Zainab Jah, Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, and Lupita Nyong'o in a scene from Danai Gurira's Eclipsed", directed by Liesl Tommy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Zainab Jah, Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, and Lupita Nyong’o in a scene from Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed“, directed by Liesl Tommy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Wife #3 (Pascale Armand) remains charmingly naive despite the cruelty she has endured. Wife #1 (Saycon Sengbloh) has perserved a bossy tenderness. She tries to shield The Girl (Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o in her Broadway debut) as best she can.

Their husband is the unseen, off-stage C.O., whose position as commander provides his wives a measure of protection. One Wife –#2, (the outstanding Zainab Jah), has gone off soldiering in the bush. Her strength is a cynical determination to persevere and triumph against all enemies. She carries a gun like a man, but she too needs protecting in order to survive.

Akosua Busia, Lupita Nyong'o, Saycon Sengbloh, and Pascale Armand in a scene from Danai Gurira's Eclipsed, directed by Liesl Tommy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Akosua Busia, Lupita Nyong’o, Saycon Sengbloh, and Pascale Armand in a scene from Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed, directed by Liesl Tommy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

There is hope for peace in the Liberian wild in which Eclipsed takes place in the person of Rita (Akusua Busia), a member of a helpful
interventionist women’s group. Her work at reconciliation is not necessarily welcomed in this balkanized place of internecine conflict and tribal hatred.  Here, war can be defined not as winning military victories but by its spoils.

The dialect of Eclipsed is so sing-songy and staccato as to feel foreign yet familiar enough to be clearly understood. The production has come mostly intact from the Public Theater, with Liesl Tommy directing the excellent ensemble.

Clint Ramos’ rustic sets circumscribe the compound in the jungle in which the women live. He has also designed the costumes. The original music and sound design by Broken Chord, which  punctuates scene changes, is integral to the atmosphere of Eclipsed.

Eclipsed is powerful and sad. Despite its grim subject matter, Eclipsed is full of humor and humanity.

To learn more about Eclipsed, visit www.eclipsedbroadway.com/

Posted in drama, theater

“A Radical Change”

I went to church on Sunday. Those who know me even slightly may wonder why.

 If I were in want of saving, I believe that Pastor Paul (Andrew Garman) would be the man to lead me there.

Lucas Hnath’s thought-provoking new play, The Christians, at Playwrights Horizons through October 25th, is about religious teaching and faith. When Paul preaches “a radical change,” Hnath never states the obvious. Paul’s charisma as a pastor is rivalled by his associate pastor, Joshua (Larry Powell) whose views differ from Paul’s. There is always more than a touch of the unexpected: in Paul’s sermon to his mega-flock, and in his elders’, represented by Jay (Philip Kerr,) response to him, as well as in the way Paul’s wife Elizabeth (Linda Powell) reacts.

Emily Donahoe as a congregant named Jenny delivers her confusion over the new direction in which Pastor Paul is leading his flock in a brilliantly simple scene with equally brilliant simplicity.

In fact, the ensemble, under Les Waters’ direction, meet the challenges of Hnath’s intelligent play with superbly intelligent performances.

The Christians is flawless.

For more information about The Christians, please visit PH’s website.

Note: as this is the first play of the 2015-16 season, you can still get a subscription for the year.

Posted in based on a true story or event, drama

“Henry V to the Rescue” A review by Mari S. Gold

"The Angels of Mons" featuring Ben Stroman, Christopher Basile, Sophia Speigel, and George Hider Photo credit Laura Archer
“The Angels of Mons” featuring Ben Stroman, Christopher Basile, Sophia Speigel, and George Hider Photo credit Laura Archer

Early in World War I, a story published first in a London newspaper and later in numerous parish magazines, described the Battle of Mons in which phantom bowmen from Agincourt came to aid badly outnumbered British soldiers. The actual outcome of this fight in which advancing German troops were overcome by the British was thereby publicized beginning to make the British public realize that winning the war would not be easy.

"The Angels of Mons" featuring Jeffrey Roth, Christopher Basile, and Dario Caudana Photo credit Laura Archer
“The Angels of Mons” featuring Jeffrey Roth, Christopher Basile, and Dario Caudana Photo credit Laura Archer

This back story is the central motif for The Angel of Mons, a two-plus hour play under the auspices of FRIGID New York in a March Forth Production at Under St. Mark’s Theater through April 4th. The setting is spare–dark walls, a few boxes and some blankets– and feels very appropriate for this tiny theater. Six British soldiers have been separated from their company and fall into the ruins of a house where, in a root cellar, they find an eight-year-old boy and his dead parents.

"The Angels of Mons" featuring Michael Broadhurst, Jeffrey Roth, Ben Stroman, Christopher Basile, Sophia Speigel Photo credit Laura Archer
“The Angels of Mons” featuring Michael Broadhurst, Jeffrey Roth, Ben Stroman, Christopher Basile, Sophia Speigel Photo credit Laura Archer

To kill time before the next morning’s assault, the men play cards, drink and read Shakespeare, notably Henry V. At one point, the boy runs away causing the soldiers to rethink their feelings about him until they see him not as an annoyance but as a figure to be protected and almost revered. They also find their feelings for their default leader, George, turning from dislike to admiration.

In Act II, many philosophical truths are told –that enemy troops are men who dislike war just like British soldiers; that kings are regular people albeit cloaked in the robes of ceremony; that war deaths weight heavily upon both commanders and fighting solders.

"The Angels of Mons" featuring Michael Broadhurst Photo credit Laura Archer
“The Angels of Mons” featuring Michael Broadhurst Photo credit Laura Archer

Much of the play makes use of Henry V verbatim, beginning with the version staged by George to amuse Harry, the boy, as King Henry was known. It’s hard to compete with the Bard which make the words of playwright Eric C. Webb less gripping. As soon as the St. Crispen’s Day speech begins, my mind drifted to the wonderful productions I’ve seen going back to Lawrence Olivier in the 1944 film. These young actors try hard but their performances can’t match classic eloquence and their British accents slip.

"The Angels of Mons" featuring Sophia Speigel and Michael Broadhurst Photo credit Laura Archer
“The Angels of Mons” featuring Sophia Speigel and Michael Broadhurst Photo credit Laura Archer

The play is well-staged making the most of the cramped space and actors Michael Broadhurst as George, Christopher Basile as Frank and Ben Stroman as Alfred get high marks. Eleven- year- old Sophia Spiegel works hard as Harry to make a convincing young boy. Laura Archer gets a shout-out for direction as does Tim Bell whose fight directions result in credible tussles.

The last fifteen minutes cry out for editing but overall there are affecting moments. The historical events are worth the attention and my guess is that playwright Webb’s career is on an upward trajectory.

To find out more about March Forth Productions’ The Angel of Mons, please visit their website.