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 #dystopia, drama, moving musical drama, political drama

It’s a Crime

Fucking A

By Susan Lori Parks
Directed by Jo BonneyIs it crime to be poor?

In the dystopia Suzan-Lori Parks has created in Fucking A, extended through October 8th at the Signature Theatre along with her sister play In The Blood (through 10/15,)  poverty is in and of itself a criminal act.

The anguish of the impoverished and uneducated is fundamental. A trespass leads to delinquincy, then to ever greater villainies. With a stellar cast, under the expert direction of Jo Bonney, Fucking A cuts to the bone.

The actors play instruments during the musical numbers, also written by Parks. Standouts among the ensemble include Christine Lahti as Hester Smith, Raphael Nash Thompson as Butcher, and Joaquina Kalukango as Canary Mary. The staging is simple and stirringly stark.

Parks’ ultra-Brechtian musical drama has both blood and guts.

There is still time to see Fucking A. Tickets and info at the Signature website.

Posted in drama, theater, theater for the common good

Provocations

In the Blood By Susan Lori Parks Directed By Sarah BensonThere are so many social challenges that confront us these days that you would think we need no more provocations. Some of us, for good or ill, welcome them nonetheless.

I can’t speak for you but among the ones  I am most looking forward to are provocations by Robert O’Hara. He has written and will direct Mankind, which starts its world premiere run on December 15th at Playwrights Horizons.

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Sutter (Phillip James Brannon) with his sister (Benja Kay Thomas), mother (Jessica Frances Dukes) and stepfather (Lance Coadie Williams) in a scene from Robert O’Hara’s “Bootycandy.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

O’Hara’s recent works for @PHnyc included directing Kristen Childs’ raucus and insightful Bella: An American Tall TaleHe also directed his own exhilirating romp,  Bootycandy a few seasons ago. O’Hara’s plays tear at the fabric of our reality to offer  exciting new views and cogent, perceptive outlook. He is provocative in the best and biggest sense of the word.

Likewise, reimagining As You Like It for a new world stage resonates in the era of travel bans.
Arden/Everywhere, at the Baruch Performing Arts Center from October 8th through the 28th,  turns Shakespeare into a playwright of the diaspora. As conceived by Jessica Bauman, this refugee-centric version of the classic comedy, is about giving welcome to the unwelcome and finding a home for the exiled.

Signature Theatre is rounding out the Suzan-Lori Parks’ revision of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Fucking A and In The Blood, both extended to October 8th and 15th respectively, and known collectively as The Red Letter Plays.

In In The Blood, Hester LaNegrita (a luminous Saycon Sengbloh) is punished for sins she did not commit alone, sins in which society is hypocritically complacent. Hester not only does not get “the leg up” she needs but she is consistently kicked down. She is not an innocent, but she is a naif. A transgression may only be an error in judgement, and should not be judged so harshly as it is in Hawthorne and in The Red Letter Plays. As for the other play in this set, the title alone has some not giving its full name. I recall the stir when it first played The Public in 2003.

 

Posted in comedy, concert, dance, drama, musical

An embarassment of riches

Summer and theater are words often linked but less so in this big city than in summer stock country.

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Pamela Mala Sinha in Crash,/b>. Photo by Michael Cooper. Soulpepper Theatre.

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.

Cage, Soulppper
Cage from Soulpepper. Diego Matamoros. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

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.

Summer in the city can be ever so sweet!

 

Posted in #festivital, The Public Theater, theater, Theater Resources Unlimited

It’s not just dessert

The arts feed us. They are not like cake. You can skip cake. You have to eat your vegetables.

cakedujourThere is tremendous nourishment to be found in museums and theaters. These provide us nutrients for our soul. I will focus here on theater arts, but it applies to all aspects of essential human endeavors in expression and self-expression.

Good and good for you! 

The arts, in their turn, need nourishing. They are most often supported by the public that attends to them. It’s a kind of symbiosis.

Not for profit theater is particularly vulnerable. The subscription houses that depend upon patrons will tell you that only x% is derived from the price of tickets; the rest is covered by donations, and sometimes public funding. In the present environment, the latter is likely –no scratch that– definitely not going to be much support.

Mind the gap

It is up to us, and to theater professionals to find their way around the gaps.

Twitter is explosive with opinions and comments on all sides, with many an artist standing tall in that forum. Some hail from abroad, including Canada based  University of Waterloo. Others like @GeorgeTakei and @Rosie (O’Donnell) are doing what we expect in their tweets, as is our dear @cher, whose all caps outrage is refreshing.

We can easily concede that the 140 character message does not begin to tell the story. For more complete dialog, there will be many artists empanelled in an effort to understand how to proceed.

The Public Theater is holding a series of fori on the subject of the election’s impact on the arts. In March, the panwels will address what responsible citizens can do in this new dystopian era; the series is called Truth to Power.

On February 20th, Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) will take a direct look at the risks this election has created, and how the artistic community should and can address them.

March 3-5, Dixon Place in association with the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art hosts an International Human Rights Festival as their answer to life in the post election USA. The festival, a first of its kind in NYC’s long cultural history, celebrates the arts and activism.

Tom Block, the force behind the International Human Rights Festival talks about progressive art:

 

 

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 #newShakespeareanplay, dance, drama, theater, theater for the common good

Theatre for the greater good

Well, yes, of course the purpose of theatre is to entertain, but also as a platform to educate and elevate.

doublefalseThe projected HeForShe Arts Week that kicks off March 8th in support UN Women’s mission for gender equality arts and cultural institutions in New York City will coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th. UN Women will partner with cultural and art institutions, like The Public Theater which is taking a lead role. The Public’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis says “The theater is a collaborative form, and the core of collaboration is solidarity. The Public is proud to stand in solidarity with HeForShe and the United Nations as we fight together for a better world.”
During the inaugural arts week in March,  venues for ballets, operas, Broadway shows, concerts, as well as other theatres, galleries, and museums will enjoy the opportunity to join the HeForShe Initiative and spotlight the work of UN Women as the global champion for the rights of women and girls. These other partner institutions will also donate a percentage of proceeds to UN Women to support its efforts in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality globally.
Emma Watson, British Actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador adds “… it makes perfect sense for HeForShe to partner with arts institutions like The Public Theater to evolve the behaviors, norms, and perceptions that shapes our cultural view of gender.” The goal for HeForShe is gender parity, to be achieved as Planet 50-50 by 2030. (See how the League of Professional Theatre Women are awarding gender equality in the theater, here.)

The stories of three very different women merge in The Hundred We Are, by the famous Swedish novelist, playwright and activist Jonas Hassen Khemiri. In The Hundred We Are, Khemeri conflates the lives of a young radical, a middle-aged housewife, and a discerning world-traveler in his innovative new memory play. The Hundred We Are, is at the cell from March 16th through April 8th, in an Origin Theatre’s production. For information on Origin and The Hundred We Are, visit www.origintheatre.org.

From February 25th through April 6th, LAByrinth Theater Company presents the New York premiere of The Way West by Mona Mansour, directed by Mimi O’Donnell, and featuring in its ensemble Deirdre O’Connell. The comedy treats the serious subject of debt and dependencies in a funny and poignant way. To learn more about The Way West, please visit labtheater.org.

Abrons Arts Center & New York City Players (NYCP) present a world premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Really, directed by Richard Maxwell and designed by photographer Michael Schmelling, from March 16th – April 2nd. Really concerns itself with grief, and intimacy. In the play, a woman takes photographs of her boyfriend’s mom, and they jockey to a claim on him. To learn more about Really, please visit www.nycplayers.org and also abronsartscenter.org.

In the world of Shakespeare, there is always something to celebrate and often something to learn. It is the 400th year of William Shakespeare, and Letter of Marque Theater Company has uncovered a “new” play by the Bard. Double Falsehood, at the Irondale Center  March 5th through April 9th, 2016, has many elements usual in a Shakespearean work. The action in Double Falsehood is propelled by a sexual assault, which Letter of Marque is using to create an important dialogue. During the run, there will be additional programming and panels to discuss rape culture in our country. To learn more about Double Falsehood and Letter of Marque Theater Companyvisit www.lomtheater.org. To learn more about the panels and programming discussions, please also go to www.lomtheater.org/double-falsehood.html

Starting in April, in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., Alice Birch explores the thorny questions of gender supremacy and how inequality is sustained through the politics of language. Playing at Soho Rep, April 5–May 1, extended to May 15th the production,  presented in association with John Adrian Selzer, and marking U.S. debut of the award-winning U.K. playwright is directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. To learn more about Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., please visit sohorep.org.

Edward R. Murrow contributed mightily when it came to doing good. He brooked no nonsense even from the scary likes of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Joseph Vitale looks at the man and his career in Murrow, starring Joseph Menino, and directed by Jeremy Williams. Murrow, produced by Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, is in a limited engagement at The Wild Project from May 4th through May 22nd. To learn more about Murrow and about the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, please visit www.MurrowThePlay.com and http://www.phoenixtheatreensemble.org/murrow/