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Liberation Iannillo


Photo Wes Duvall

New York Theatre Workshop
Closes June 11, 2006

Cause and Effect

Written by Adam Ritter

"The Columbine High School motto is 'The finest kids in America pass through these halls'...It wasn't meant to be ironic." So speaks, with ample sarcasm, an ensemble player in the Theater Vérité piece Columbinus, the thought-provoking work breathed into gigabit-screaming existence by devoted members of the New York Theater Workshop.

You remember the banner headlines; On April 20, 1999, a notorious date for altered states, disenfranchised rage was collapsed into existence by the searing malevolence of an "irretrievable" menace and his latchkey sidekick.

In a single gulp, the bedrock of idyllic Americana was devoured that day by a paint mixer of teen hatred, spewed by the infamous collaboration of trench coat aficionados Eric and Dylan. If it didn't actually happen, MTV would have invented a lusciously-filmed dramatic series about it.

The potential culprits loomed large; peer ostracism, parental neglect, academic ineptitude, etc… The real cause is well known though; Marilyn Manson lyrics.

Tapping journal entries, hostile home videos, and the testimonials of massacre survivors, the Columbinus performers replay with wrenching gravitas the horrors that led up to and unraveled on that dreadful day.

Act one unfolds with the composite caricatures of high school life that we all remember well; the nerd, the preppy, the jock, the stoner, the pious, the slut and the outcasts. Each is consumed by the indentured servitude of their confining identity. It would be absolutely absurd except for that nagging inner-narrative that enables you to instantly list defacto members of each group from your own experience. These kids were your friends, your nemeses, the forgotten few and perhaps even you not that long ago. How close has such a tragedy lingered for any of us? We breathe a sigh of thankful relief for the tunnel vision that allows us to dismiss such suppositions as the isolated acts of chemically imbalanced madmen.

Act two recounts the details of the unspeakable and safely distant calamity at Columbine, transforming the ensemble into vessels of tragic testimony; we watch the drama unfold in the words of the ironically fortunate teenagers who sat astride the corpses of murdered classmates.

Eric is as disgusted by the figures reaching out to him as he feels they are by him; "With his business degree on the wall and his three day certificate in counseling," he sneers of his guidance counselor. "You want to help me for the next 80 years? How about right now?"

And here, Dylan barely amounts to perpetrator; the Barney Rubble of homicidal mania who foolishly swallowed the red pill and was consequently sucked into the churning void, never to return.

The duo strain to reinterpret social Darwinism so as to fulfill their whims of superiority and make the collective endure the pain that they have suffered; "You will try to blame it on the clothes I wear, the music I listen to, or the way I choose to present myself - but no. Do not hide behind my choices," says Eric in his suicide note. "LET THIS MASSACRE BE ON YOUR SHOULDERS UNTIL THE DAY YOU DIE…I did not choose this life."

In allusive scenes, the parents of Columbinus speak in fragmentary statements and one can easily conjure recollections of their own selective-listening snippets of parental wisdom destined for immediate resentment. Nothing, you discover, set this Coloradoan school and their students apart from any other in America.

The drama of Columbinus is punctuated by an appropriate soundtrack that includes the soul-weary works of the Verve ("Bittersweet Symphony") and Gary Jule ("Mad World") whose lyrics are virally aligned to events unfolding;

"Went to school and I was very nervous, No one knew me, no one knew me, hello teacher tell me what's my lesson? Look right through me, look right through me."

There are those that adhere to the idea that the world is merely a chain of cause and effect over which we have no autonomy. Columbinus confirms this and testifies to the rejections of life having costly consequences. Whether or not that is true, the story they recount is a compelling one and perhaps there is no harm in enlarging our worlds to include the lost souls that would otherwise be cast aside.

The show is written by The United States Theatre Project and conceived and directed by PJ Paparelli.

Cirque Du Soleil’s
Tuesday - Saturday @ 8PM
Matinees: Friday & Saturday @ 4:00PM; Sundays @ 1:00PM & 5:00PM
Closes July 1, 2006
Blue and Yellow Grand Chapiteau
Randall's Island | New York

Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams

I have just been “Cirqued;” I saw my first Cirque Du Solieil show, Corteo, and am now an addict, feverisly planning a trip to Las Vegas to see O. One of the from out-of-town friends with whom I attended the Randall’s Island production said, “There is no way you can describe this show.” And she is right. It is a circus performed by modern dancers who are the most incredible aerialist, acrobats and gymnasts I have ever seen, anyone of whom could easily have won an Olympic gold medal for their feats. And it is stunningly beautiful and incredibly moving. That is my attempt to put wonder into words, here is how they describe themselves in their press release:

Corteo, which means "cortege" in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth.

The clown pictures his own funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere, watched over by quietly caring angels. Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, the show highlights the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, to illustrate the portion of humanity that is within each of us. The music, by turns lyrical and playful, carries Corteo through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.”

The show starts with three beautiful beaded chandeliers, watched over by a flying angel. Gorgeous aerialists then perform a beautiful “air dance,” dangling from and through the chandeliers. And then there is number after number, each more spectacular than the other. The cast is huge and the costumes and lighting are superb. One of the most moving “sets” was performed by a male and female aerialist, using only two long rubber bands that hung from the huge ceiling of the tent. They simply tied these long bands around themselves, picked up the other aerialist (yes the woman can hold the man), and flew through the air in a moving romantic “air dance.” It was totally breathtaking.

I rarely see shows where I would be willing to return the next night; Corteo is definitely one of those shows. It is my Phantom of the Air.

Corteo was created by: Daniele Finzi Pasca, Creator and Director; Line Tremblay, Director of Creation;Jean Rabasse, Set Designer; Dominique Lemieux, Costume Designer; Philippe Leduc, Composer and Musical Director.

On to some practical matters: You can get to Randall’s Island via New York Waterways. Go to and then click on Catch on Event. The round trip ticket is around $20.00 and can be reserved and paid for online. There are two choices 6:15 and 7:15. I took the earlier boat and should have taken the later boat. It is about a twenty minute ride (there is no traffic on the water after all). You cannot use one of those red and blue Waterway busses to get to the 34th Street pier to go to Randall’s Island (they only go to the Westside piers), but the 34th Street bus lets you off right in front of the pier. There is no where to wait inside at the pier and the boat can be pretty chilly on the top deck. You can also drive to Randall’s Island and there is free parking.

Tickets: $60.00-$95.00 Adult; $42.00-$66.50 Children; $54.00-$85.50 Student/Senior (weekdays only) at Check for discounts.


Sandra Bernhard's
Everything Bad and Beautiful
Daryl Roth Theater
Tuesday 8:00PM - Friday 8:00PM
Saturday 7:00pm & 10:00pm
Sunday 7:00pm
Closes July 9, 2006

Reviewed by Terry Maloney

The divine Ms. Sandra Bernhard is back in her beloved New York City and she's funkier and sexier than ever! From the moment she enters the stage of the Daryl Roth Theater (wearing a sexy, slinky, ankle-length dress) she captivates her devoted audience of "Bernhard groupies" with her sultry stylings and pointed observations about today’s political and cultural scene.

Is she somewhat less outrageous then she was in her first two one-woman shows? Perhaps, but who cares? This is classic Bernhard. Starting with her opening number, Christina Aguilera's "(I Am) Beautiful," she not only skewers such easy targets as George W, and Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice, but also John and Theresa Heinz Kerry, Meg Ryan, Celine Dion, gay drama queens, and the very theater in which she performs. "I can feel the ghosts of De La Guarda...all those Brazilian acrobats who fell to their deaths!"

The story of Condi Rice meeting the ghost of Rosa Parks at the Lorraine Motel (where Dr. King was assassinated) is hilarious. "You don't belong here, Condi Rice!" says Ms. Parks, "Get out of here!" The proud mother of a seven-year old girl herself, Bernhard mocks the "motherhood" book/calendar collaboration of Dion with photographer Anne Geddes.

Ms. Heinz Kerry is depicted as a spaced-out elitist obsessed with her neckwear. ("Don't you just love my scarf?"). Her husband is described as an "arrogant prick." Mrs. Bush is rather harshly attacked by Bernhard for daring to visit New York City. "How dare you! Don't you ever come back here, you c--t!," screams Bernhard to the cheers and applause of the blue state audience.

Like all Bernhard shows this is also a rock concert, and the should-be superstar equates herself quite well with her smoky interpretation of classics such as "Like a Rolling Stone," "Respect," and "I Would Die for You." She is very ably supported by her hot backup band, The Rebellious Jezebels (with musical director LaFrae Sci).

Yes, some critics say that Bernhard has mellowed since her last one-woman show, but I'd rather describe it as an evolution. Now in a hard-to-believe mid-forties, Bernhard is finally in a long-term relationship with a woman she dearly loves and together they are raising a young daughter. Yes, parenthood and stability do tend to change one's perspective on the world, but not to worry. Bernhard is still Bernhard and she does not disappoint..

I came to the show a casual Bernhard fan, but I left a devoted Bernhard groupie. She is contagious, she is habit-forming and she is amazing!

Tickets are $35-$70 at

Daryl Roth Theater |20 Union Square East




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