Mon & Wed - Sat @ 8 PM
Wed & Sats @ 2 PM and Sun @ 3 PM
Upstairs at Studio 54
Reviewed by Dinika
I salute the times
we live in, times when cornerstone companies like
Arthur Andersen close down in a matter of weeks,
and celebrity success stories (Winona Ryder, Martha
Stewart) turn into sob stories overnight. NEWSICAL,
by Rick Crom, is a musical satire of our times.
We see spoofs of
political figures like John Kerry and George W.
Bush. And we learn that straight men, in flannel
shirts no less, would like gays to experience
the hellishness of married life. Actor Todd Alan
Johnson pleads, "Please let them marry!"
My personal favorite among the zingers is one
on the entertainment world, where we hear testimony
of the tiger that nipped, to put it lightly, the
neck of Roy Horn of Vegas illusionists Siegfried
and Roy fame.
The material in
NEWSICAL is constantly changing, which makes it
"uber" cool. Seriously, I have no bones
to pick. Donna Drake's direction is flawless-and
while the best direction is futile with a badly
written script, this is not the case with NEWSICAL.
Rick Crom, I hope you're reading this because
the music and lyrics were, to borrow from Austin
Powers, very groovy, baby. In comedy timing is
the key, and NEWSICAL'S timing is impeccable,
earning more kudos for Crom and Drake.
While the cast has immense stage presence and
are all excellent performers, I thought two spoofs
were particularly well done. Stephanie Kurtzuba
had the audience in stitches with her portrayal
of the dominating, "I want it all,"
child wonder and adult media mogul, Martha Stewart.
And when Jeff Skowron donned a wig to play former
President Clinton, complete with black pinstripe
suit and blue tie, I held my breath. His flashing
baby blues and enigmatic pearly whites were almost
too real, sort of like a figure at Madame Tussauds.
Similar to THE
DAILY SHOW, the exciting spin of NEWSICAL is that
the news we see and hear everyday is magically
transformed into an entertaining musical. I'm
certain that all current events junkies as well
as anyone seeking a good laugh will appreciate
Cast: Kim Cea,
Stephanie Kurtzuba, Todd Alan Johnson, Jeff Skowron,
Peter P. Allburn, David Kaley, Michael Flink,
Jason Hayes, Gary Maffei, Jacki Florin, Barry
Fisher, Jesse Adelaar, Ed Goldschneider.
are Mondays, as well as Wednesdays through Saturdays,
at 8:00 p.m.; Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00
p.m.; and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Tickets range from
$20-$60 and can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster
at 212.307.4100 or by going to www.ticketmaster.com.
For more information, please visit www.newsicalthemusical.com.
Studio|54 254 West 54th Street
THE AWESOME 80S PROM
Friday and Saturday Nights @ 8PM
Opens September 10th - Open Run
by Tara Koppel
Lace up your Pumas and give Boy George a
call, were moon-walking our way back into
the 80s! The Awesome 80s Prom, written and
directed by Ken Davenport, is a high-energy, interactive
experience set in the school gymnasium at Wanna
Get High. All of your favorite classmates from
1989 are there competing for Prom King and Queen:
Whitley Whitiker; (Jenna Pace) head cheerleader
with attitude, Blake Williams; (Brandon Williams)
captain of the football team, and Kerrie Kowalski;
(Kathy Searle) everybodys favorite spaz,
just to name a few, and the audience decides who
will be crowned! If you dig turtle racing, watching
mold grow, and any given episode of The Facts
of Life, than this play is too hip and fun for
you. But if youd rather Walk Like
an Egytian, figure out a rubix cube, and
harm the Ozone with aerosol hairspray, then come
to the prom!
You will be transformed
from audience member to class member, and I promise
youll have a blast Wang Chunging
the entire night. The nerd, Louis Fensterspock
(Noah Weisberg) nervously admitted that hes
had a crush on me all year and asked me to dance.
In true 80s fashion, we were flailing our arms
side to side to Karma Chameleon
Whered you get that sexy pocket protector,
I asked him.
My dad gave it to me.
Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma-Chameeeleoooooon.
Cool. I smiled.
Hes dead now.
You cooome and gooo. You cooooome and gooooO-O-O.
I had more fun
at this prom than I did at my own. (Maybe because
this time my date wasnt inflatable
you even know how difficult it is to slow dance
with plastic?!) The Awesome 80s Prom includes
all the nuances of what you remember from your
own high school years: Principal Snelgrove (Edward
Kelly) yelling on the microphone at students with
alcohol, recently outed gay guy, Dickie
Harrington (Stephen Guarino) pleading for your
vote for Prom Queen, and my head getting flushed
in the toilet bowl by an experimental Science
Team (Their hypothesis was correct: apparently
my head is too dense to stay afloat.) Flush Face
or not, you will absolutely adore this play. Ill
be going again. Ive told every single one
of my friends about it and she really wants to
The talented classmates
of 1989 also included: Phil Burke, Nicole Cicchella,
Dooley, Jeff Hiller, CP Lacey, Sarah Katherine
Mason, Emily McNamara, Troy Metcalf, Regina Peluso,
Brian Peterson, Jessica West Regan, Jennifer Winegardner,
and Simon Wong. Marty Postmas lighting had
the perfect balance; flashy enough for a prom,
yet subdued to avoid capturing all that bad teenage
skin, while Drew Geracis choreography was
so energetic that it made even Richard Simmons
My walk back to
the subway felt like detention. There I was on
the 2004 sidewalk, knowing that exciting 1989
was just a few blocks away. Who could have been
prepared for life after the 80s? Not even Miss
Cleo could have predicted the future would hold
a Monica Lewinsky, a Chia pet, and a white Michael
Jackson. Similar to New Jersey Governor McGreevey,
things really have changed.
The Awesome 80s Prom is like the first time you
had sex, except the play lasts longer and actually
feels good. If you were one of the cool kids in
high school, it is a chance to relive those memories,
and if you were one of the dorks, The Awesome
80s Prom is the party that you were never invited
to. So fish out those leg warmers, cuddle up in
a letter jacket, and drive your Camaro straight
to the prom!
: $59.75 PROM COMMITTEE; $69.75 PRINCE/PRINCESS;
$99.75 KING/QUEEN: www.theatermania.com
or phone: 212-352-0255
Webster Hall |125
East 11th Street
David Nehls and Betsy Kelso's
Great American Trailer Park
The Run is Over
Reviewed by Dinika
You know the feeling
you get when you walk out of a thrift store with
a Prada bag in top condition? Great American
Trailer Park is the Prada of off-Broadway
shows. Part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival,
Great American Trailer Park is the
best show I have seen this year.
The story revolves
around an agoraphobic housewife Jeannie, (Carter
Calvert) in the Armadillo Acres Trailer
Park of Starke, Florida. Jeannie is married to
Norbert (Dan Sharkey) who is having an affair
with the sexy new stripper neighbor, Pippi (Jenn
Colella). Jeannies challenge is to tear
herself away from Oprah and Dr. Phil long enough
to leave her trailer and save her marriage.
The story of Great
American Trailer Park is told by three narrators,
Betty (Robin Baxter), Pickles (Amanda Paige) and
Lin (Marya Grandy). To make things a little more
exciting, Pippis head case, overly possessive,
marker-sniffing, psycho-with-a-loaded-gun boyfriend
Duke (Geoffrey Scheer) is on the prowl to get
All the craziness,
madness, twists and turns that life can take are
in this play. The cast is extraordinary. Writer
Betsy Kelso has mastered the art of sassy humor.
Great American Trailer Park is peppered
with sarcasm, wit and biting jokes. David Nehls
uses blues music that can melt your heart, and
80s music that leaves your feet tapping.
Nehls lyrics are amazing too. My favorite
number was But Hes Mine sung
by Pippi and Jeannie. Ms. Calverts voice
is very powerful, reminding me of Whitney Houston.
The title song, This Side of the Tracks,
sung by the three Greek style narrators - Betty,
Pickles and Lin - was a lot of fun too.
Trailer Park belongs on Broadway. So when
this gem of a play eventually does move to Broadway
(as it should), go see it. You wont be disappointed
(reviewers guarantee). Oh, and if the sound
track gets released on CD, grab it!
Cast: Jerry Lame,
Steven Jones, Julie Rose, Caroline Liadakis, David
McGee, Stephen Tucker, Phil Monat, Roberta Knowles,
Todd Johnson, Dan Sharkey, Carter Calvert, Jenn
Band: David Nehls, David Matos, Paul Ranieri,
For more information
WOMEN ON THE VERGE
Tuesdays - Saturdays @ 8PM
Wednesday & Saturdays @ 2PM
Sundays at 3PM
Beginning Previews September 23rd
Opening September 30th
Irish Arts Center
by Dinika Amaral
Women on the Verge
of HRT, produced by Autumn Stages and written
by Marie Jones, is a touching play about two Irish
women, Vera (Joan Slavin) and Anna (Kelly Taylor).
Vera and Anna are trying to cope with aging. Both
women are afraid of ending up on the sexual scrap
heap, unable to compete with younger women. Vera
and Anna travel from Belfast to Donegal to see
Daniel ODonnell, a famous Irish singer,
in concert. At their hotel in Donegal, Vera and
Anna are served by a magical room service waiter,
Fergal (Tom Souhrada).
In the second
half of Women on the Verge Fergal
changes into various people from Vera and Annas
lives who have some explaining to do.
The process of facing their fears leave Vera and
The play ends with
a sunrise, demonstrating the empowerment that
Vera and Anna have achieved. The inspiring message
of Women on the Verge of HRT is that
while we cannot physically be reborn like nature,
we can achieve a spiritual resurrection.
Joan Slavin was outstanding as Vera. She was funny
and flirtatious and said the most outrageous things
with such wide-eyed innocence that she left the
audience in stitches. Kelly Taylor was a fantastic
Anna. She skillfully portrayed a character whose
happiness had been ruined by an empty marriage
and an uncaring husband. The versatile Tom Souhrada
did a fantastic job of portraying the women and
men that Anna and Vera confront. He also sang
beautifully as Daniel ODonnell. Music Director
Doug Oberhamer did a great job producing fabulous
music. And set designer Robert Monaco also deserves
a commendation for his clever set.
I found the play refreshing and funny. Director
Lynne Taylor-Corbett certainly deserves a feather
in her cap for Women on the Verge of HRT.
Cast: Brant Murray,
Christopher McGovern, Gregory Fletcher, Louis
Salamone and Toy.
$45 and can be purchased by calling Smarttix at
212.868.4444 or by going to www.smarttix.com.
Irish Arts Center |553
West 51st St.
( btwn. 10th and 11th)
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays @ 8PM
Sundays September 26th and October 3rd @4PM
September 10th - October 3rd.
Under St. Marks
Reviewed by Jeffrey
Crux is the story
of three homeless, hungry, and altogether helpless
folks contemplating the meaning of life in a world
entrenched in mankind's final Great War. Amid
the chaos of explosions and warfare, they live
and continue to sell roses in the park, hovering
on the brink of starvation. While the character
of Slope finds solace in blissful reminiscences
of times past, Cleep is hopelessly entrenched
in the present state of things. Meanwhile, Nora,
their beautiful female counterpart, is constantly
prognosticating, launching into occasional and
perfectly placed tirades on future death and destruction.
It certainly doesn't sound like a comedy on the
surface, but this was the funniest production
I have seen in a long time.
The quality of
the work is delivered via its simultaneous depiction
of a humorously absurd slice of life alongside
a commentary on the state of the world. It consciously
perpetuates the tradition known as Absurdist Theatre
that began in a similar world climate some fifty
years ago, in post WWII Europe and America. According
to Langham, authors like Samuel Beckett and Eugene
Ionesco believed that, "we as a species are
very out of touch with the world in which we live,
making life pointless and absurd." However,
Langham's more modern approach seeks to infuse
that absurd world of his predecessors with a breath
of humor and purpose that festers on the underbelly
of war and destruction. Although he claims to
parallel the Absurdist tradition, he says, "I
fervently believe life does have a rather divine
purpose, a very distinct point." In The Crux,
we are asked to discover what that purpose is,
for the playwright and ourselves.
I believe that
Langham was correct in choosing the one act format
for this particular play. His wit and humor, coupled
with the actors' timing and delivery, kept the
pace at a perfect clip as to keep the audience
smiling (and often out and out laughing) almost
the entire time. And he left no issue unaddressed
- greed, lust, war, love, revenge, marriage, and
the meaning of life - the crux, the breaking point,
and the anatomical and spiritual severity of a
world caught in the clutches of leaders who don't
even attempt to understand their enemies. All
of these were given their due.
I can't here critique
Langham's work or writing, as there were few,
if any, inadequacies in the entire production;
the timing and delivery of the script were especially
impressive. I can, however, comment on the supreme
quality of Matthew David Banton, Monica Cortez,
and Alvin Lutspeich's performances, as well as
their obvious and infectious chemistry and humor.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Jamie
Chandler's choreography, Erica Frank's humorously
appropriate costume design, Anne Lee's simple
yet effective set design, Lindsey Moore's direction
and stage management, as well as Rik Sansone and
Jenny Wilsen's contributions in making this a
poignant and inventive piece of contemporary theatre.
UNDER St. Marks | 94 St. Marks
(Between 1st Ave. and Ave. A)
"The Gray Area"
Wednesdays @ 8PM
Under St. Marks
Reviewed by Tara Koppel
Who can forget
their first love? And do we ever completely get
over them? These first loves are the guests who
randomly invite themselves (unannounced) into
our Memory Scrapbook. Sometimes the melody of
a song or the scent of soap allows us to briefly
stumble upon their page. Other times, however,
that page seems to be a permanent fixture in our
thoughts and we find ourselves writing and starring
in a one woman play about them, so is the case
of Ophira Eisenberg, who will be featured on Comedy
Central's Premium Blend this season.
I walked into the
small downtown playhouse, Under St. Marks, excited
about being an addition to the New York Cool Cool
crew, and being here, in the heart of undomesticated
New York City. Yes, I confess
I am a newyorkcool.com
virgin. And when we're through, please feel free
light a cigarette.
Under St. Marks
is a cozy, intimate theater, resembling an underground
basement. It seemed hidden, like a secret that
I'm letting you all in on. It feels as though
you're about to watch a show in the comfort of
your own home, but where the performers are much
more talented than your brothers and sisters.
They offered the audience wine. Have you ever
heard of anyone passing up free alcohol? Me neither.
And who am I to break tradition
began and I took a sip.
If listening to
sagas of love is like a roller coaster; then I
should have come prepared with a full case of
Dramamine. In this hilarious and all too realistic
performance of "Hindsight," Ophira invites
us into the highs and lows of her first relationship:
the fighting, the making up, the intense love,
the pissing off, the hating, the crying, the incredible
sex, the needing, and finally, the knowing when
it's time to let go. Sound freakishly familiar?
If this is foreign to you, that's o.k. Surveys
suggest that one out of every twenty psychos never
have a first love. So don't sweat it! You're in
Ophira accomplishes what many performers have
difficulty doing, capturing her audience and taking
us along for the ride. The show did not include
what we as an audience have come accustomed to:
special effects; murders; or people dramatically
dying. The only actress in this play is a single
woman; extending me an invite to her intriguing
story, and I RSVP'd, ASAP!
Ophira's "Hindsight" details how a person
falls "hard" and "messy" into
love. To paraphrase her, the first time you fall
in love you wear a set of window blinds over your
eyes. Every now and then they lift up and you
notice questionable behavior, so you lower the
blinds again right before intuition and reality
sets in. For a moment I thought that the entire
performance was a hoax. Was Ophira a private investigator
that had been following me for years? How else
could she understand my past so well? Thank God
for the lessons of "hindsight," right?
(I am now proud to say that my eyes are clear
of all window treatments.)
Our Memory Scrapbook, similar to a bank account,
ages and matures, even if our relationships always
do not. This guides us into what is commonly known
as "The Gray Area," the second comedy
of the night, written by and starring Neil Potter
and Bethel Caram. This real life couple have been
"committed to non-commitment," existing
in the gray area, the locale where a relationship
is ambiguously defined.
Receiving bad directions reminds me of this gray
area that Neil and Bethel speak of. You're lost:
possibly in the vicinity, but still don't exactly
know where you are. In a relationship, the gray
area means that you are a couple, although not
completely established, nor do you always want
to be. The only problem lies in that the rules
are flexible and often unclear, you don't know
what direction the relationship is headed, and
you can't turn to an atlas for guidance.
Neil and Bethel have been in this noncommittal
relationship for eight years. (No, that is not
a typo; I did in fact say eight.) They admit that
being in the gray area is a possible outcome from
being "afraid to grow up." They can't
figure out their relationship because they haven't
figured out themselves yet. This probably accounts
for the hours of soul searching they invest their
time in. Neil is a groupie to motivational speaker
guru, Tony Robins, while Bethel reads self-help
books like The Power of Now, which made
most of the audience laugh at the pitiful ness
of it all. (I didn't feel pathetic when I read
and bought two copies;
one for reading and for decoration.)
Within its dialect, "The Gray Area"
comedic ally captures the essence and confusion
of the differences between men and women. For
example, Bethel suggests that they each say something
nice about one another. She begins this exercise
by saying she enjoys his wonderful "zesty"
personality. Neil replies by telling her he likes
The "Gray Area" provokes my curiosity
about men and women and if we're truly bred from
separate species: belonging to two different animal
kingdoms. If so, this certainly explains a great
deal. (Now it makes sense why when I communicate
with men, they respond by swinging from tree branches
while scratching their arm pits and pulling gnats
out of their hair.)
There is no gray area about it: both plays were
creatively written and had impeccable comedic
timing. And in hindsight, I have learned two things
about love: the first is that, although love can
seem torturous at times, it is vital to us like
water, air, food, and porn. Actually, that's not
we can survive a while without food.
And the second is that, although our Memory Scrapbook
may look messy and unorganized, time and growth
will eventually make our future scrapbook into
a fine piece of artwork, as are these two performances.
Under St. Marks
|94 St. Marks (8th
(between Ave A and 1st Ave)
Here's to The Third New York
" A state of the art, one-act musical"
Saturdays & Sundays @ 8PM
September 18th through October 3rd
15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor
Cast: Michael Ashford, Daniella
Galli, Elissa Goldstein, Jamal Green, Ryan Greer
& James Robinson
With live funk
music performed by: Stephanie Wells, Christopher
Heinz and Nathan You
Reviewed by Diedre
I attended Tada!
Theatre's opening weekend of Here's to The Third
New York with my friend Hana. Tada! Theatre provides
a fantastic venue for an Off-Broadway show. When
we entered the lobby, we were welcomed by a bohemian
world of candlelight, and then were ushered into
a spacious yet cozy warehouse-type space, with
a large, well-constructed stage.
program had an introductory quote taken from E.B.
White, which seemed to aptly explain the title
of the show we were about to see. "There
are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first,
the New York of the man or woman who was born
there, who takes the city for granted…….Second,
there is the New York of the commuter…….Third,
there is the New York of the person who was born
somewhere else and came to New York in quest of
something. Of these three trembling cities the
greatest is the last-the city of final destination,
the city that is a goal." Well now. That
certainly got our attention. This show celebrates
a dying breed of New York artists, which simply
do not have the outlets they used to. Be it lack
of funding, complacency, bureaucracy, you can
pretty much name your culprit. However you slice
it, its tough being a New York City artist.
Here's to The Third
New York realistically illustrates this lifestyle
quite well, and brings up and pushes out what
it's truly like to be a part of the third New
York. The opening scene shows a poet on a soap
box, with an accompanying tap number screaming
of an impending revolution as a necessary action
needed for artists to combat the growing commercialism
of the city. I would have loved to see a revolution
unfold, but it seems the solution was less the
point of the show than to simply portray an ever-dying
subculture of New York. Having said that, the
show does a fantastic job at entertaining and
the cast has explosive moments of well-honed talent.
Standout performances come from Elissa Goldstein,
her acting and signing were both soulful and heart
wrenching. Michael Ashford and James Robinson
were both excellent dancers that just seemed to
glide across the stage. The music was fun and
upbeat, and the tap numbers, which were utilized
as a kinetic backdrop to anarchistic poetry, were
well composed both at the opening and closing
of the show. The audience is taken through an
entertaining and realistic ride through a day
in the life of struggling artists trying to get
by in New York City.
Once the show was
over, Hana and I left the theatre and went down
the street to the Blue Smoke, and with two double
shots of Jack Daniels in hand, we made a toast.
Here's to an inspirational
story of survival, in the struggle to keep alive
the creative spirit.
Here's to the Third
Tada! Theatre |15 West 28th
Street, 2nd Floor
Burning the Old Man
A Boomerang Theatre Company Production
Reviewed By Jeff
I begin by asking
an age-old question: Is the glass half empty or
half full? And further, is that a big hole in
the wall or just a convenient bit of extra ventilation?
Is an inconsistent and not altogether believable
character really just struggling to tell us something
Ah, the questions
of life - the same questions I ask myself after
a production of Boomerang Theatre Company's "Burning
the Old Man." It's a story of sibling rivalry,
adultery, intrigue, and travel. Or, if you prefer,
it's the story of two bickering brothers stranded
in the middle of the desert who meet two hopeless
hippies and demean the hotel owner's wife.
First, a synopsis:
Two brothers, Marty and Bobby, are carrying their
recently-deceased father's ashes through the desert
to put him to rest at the Burning Man Festival
in fulfillment of his dying wish. On the way,
their car blows up and they meet Josephine, a
hotel desk clerk with a penchant for Thai food.
Two hippies, Candy and Earth, join the party and
provide some comic relief from the endless slinging
of obscenity between Marty and Bobby. Later, Jo's
husband, Eddie, gets home after being fired from
"his sixth Reno casino in as many months,"
at which point all hell breaks loose.
Here I must concede
that the production of this play was near flawless
- one single, unchanging set, a few props, and
really solid acting on all parts. I especially
liked the younger brother, Bobby, played by Brett
Christiansen, a reverently irreverent young man
who holds the distinction of being the only character
in the play who undergoes any positive transformation.
Jo and Eddie are walking stereotypes of a bad
marriage and why people stay (but we could've
tuned into Lifetime for that), while Candy and
Earth flit out as they flit into the action.
Marty is another
story altogether, with a sordid past and a hopeless
future. He goes from "Mr. Responsibility"
to "I hate my life, I want to die" about
six times in the course of the action. Furthermore,
his immoral sexual escapades leave me questioning
the realism of the script. Where has he been for
the past three years, under house arrest? Somehow,
Timothy McCracken's acting trumps the playwright's
inadequate character development to keep the glass
I love Candy and
Earth because they simultaneously add humor and
levity to the situation. Candy's clairvoyance
is performed through her prodigal olfactory capabilities,
while Earth is at once a humorous hippie stereotype
and a realistic, contemplative young loser. Two
of Earth's lines really sum up this play for me:
"Love is just evil spelled backwards and
wrong," and "Just when life gets to
be worth living, it becomes this long, sad road
to certain death."
Judge for yourself
the tone of this play and the state of mind of
the playwright. On my glass half full side, I
laughed at the funny parts of this play as if
my glass contained brackish water spiked with
tequila, while my glass half empty side cried
its eyes out, lamenting all the pathetic souls
out there roaming the desert in search of a way
to get a fresh start at their worn out lives.
All things being unequal, I recommend it.
Directed by Tim Errickson;
Featuring: Brett Christiansen, Philip Emeott,
John C. Fitzmaurice, Christine Goodman*, Timothy
McCracken*, Sara Thigpen*
Sets: Harlan Penn;
Costumes: Cheryl McCarron; Lights: Carrie Wood
on the web | www.boomerangtheatre.org
Center Stage | 48 West
21st Street 4th Floor
(between 5th & 6th Avenues)
Tuesday - Saturday @ 8PM
Matinees Wednesday & Saturday at 3PM
September 23 - November 14th
Reviewed by Wendy
'Honor Bound to Defend Freedom', written
by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo (from spoken
evidence) and directed by Nicolas Kent and Sacha
Wares is a devastating "documentary"
drama about the prisoners from the war in Afghanistan
that we are holding in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These
so called "unlawful combatants" have
been held for up to three years with no right
of judicial review. The play raises extremely
uncomfortable questions about what we have become
as a people that we have not risen up in outrage
over how these prisoners are being held, without
the basic rights spelled out in the Geneva Convention.
And by the way, what is an "unlawful combatant?"
Is it a soldier from a country so poor they can't
afford uniforms? And were they all "combatants?"
Or were some of them bystanders picked up under
the rational of, "They all look alike, who
The United States has a long nasty history of
forgoing the basic human rights of the weak. We
imprisoned the slaves, incarcerated the Japanese,
executed Ethel Rosenberg etc. etc. And here we
go again. We are afraid, so we quickly forget
about the very values that made our nations great
- the reasons the United States is worth fighting
and dying for. We are simply supposed to be better
than that and we aren't.
the play, is beautifully written and acted. The
night I was there, the audience collectively sat
on the edge of their seats for the entire show.
And I bet many left with the same thought I did.
How could this happen in the supposed land of
the free? And how did we forget who we supposed
to be again?
The very talented cast included: Jeffrey Brick,
Kathleen Chalfant, Gerald Cosgrove, Steven Crossley,
Ramsey Faragallah, Robert Langdon Lloyd, Aasif
Mandvi, Harsh Nayyar, Maulik Pancholy, Andrew
Stewart-Jones, Joris Stuyck, Waleed Zuaiter.
The beautiful minimalist
prison set and simple costume design was by Miriam
Buether. Light design was by Johanna Town and
sound design was by Bill Grady. The production
stage Manager was Bonnie Brady.
The Culture Project |
Wed – Sat @ 9pm
Runs through Oct 9th
FREE Boru Vodka drink with every ticket!
Reviewed By Troy
If you are of the
ilk who enjoys the dream-like depths of David
Lynch, the sheer giddiness of symbolism from Peter
Greenaway, and the emotional ponderings of Hal
Hartley, you should run, not walk, to see ORPHEUS,
HERE’s latest theatrical production. ORPHEUS
is described as an “alt-rock, multi-media
experience”, but it is so much more than
ORPHEUS is a modern,
retelling of an ancient myth about loss, dependency,
and distrust, reconceived by Juliet Chia (lighting),
Kristin Marting (director), and David Morris (set);
written by Stephanie Fleischmann with music by
In this retelling,
Orpheus is now a superstar pop singer who has
just started his catapult into fame and fortune
when he suddenly loses his powerfully-loved newlywed,
Euridice, as she falls beneath the wheels of a
car. Orpheus, in his anguish, finds his way to
Hades and into Club Asphodel, managed by Persephone
and her Sirens. He begins negotiating the release
of Euridice back into life using only the power
of song. The play is ingeniously presented all
around the audience as we sit along with other
lost souls of Hades, sipping on our free cup of
Woe, Forgetfulness, and other painful adjectives
in vodka form. Costumes, lighting, set and music
were incredibly impressive in creating an ambience
at once sinister and comforting.
While Orpheus (Taylor
Mac) and Euridice (Leeanne Hutchison) are the
focus of the story, Persephone (played by Daphne
Gaines) and her Sirens (Katy Cunningham, Nina
Mankin, Arie Thompson) command and captivate the
audience. Gaines et al are flawless in their performances,
both as actors and singers, creating riveting
sequences that force a serious and respectful
eye on the play. Performing numbers to live music,
Gaines makes you wish there was a soundtrack CD
for sale immediately.
Mac and Hutchison
are fairly strong in their performances, with
creepy, emotional, and tragedy-induced vocals
to help shape the dimensions of their characters.
While one intellectually understands the connection
between Euridice and Orpheus, the portrayal of
the intensity of that connection is a bit lost
in the theatrics. This, however, does not detract
from the sum effect of the play, which is quite
The Shades (played
by Scott Blumenthal, Kim Carpenter, Raquel Cion,
James Ferguson, Corey Moosa, and Dax Valdes) are
souls trapped in Hade’s Asphodel for various
reasons, each eventually being a conduit of insight
for Orpheus as he painstakingly negotiates with
Persephone for Euridice’s release. Although
peripheral characters throughout the play, The
Shades are fascinating to watch as they continuously
emote in “gestural vocabulary”; a
symbolic choreography created by Marting. The
choreography is mesmerizing with messages clearly
being conveyed, but just out of reach from linear
thinking. This level of the production made me
want to see ORPHEUS more than once, simply to
decipher these beautifully-portrayed messages.
Although it is
assumed that many people already know the ancient
myths and their lessons, morals, and outcomes,
I will trust that some of you do not know the
story of Orpheus, allowing you the thrill and
anticipation of discovering just how Orpheus frees
In the end, many
of you will irresistibly want to look back [wink],
bringing new friends to share in this potentially-addictive,
rising cult classic! See it while you can! Run
ends OCTOBER 9th.
Tickets: $15 at www.here.org/orpheus
or SmartTix: 212 868-4444
HERE Arts Center | 145 Sixth
I Love Paris
Tuesdays @ 8PM Sept 7th - 28th
Mondays @ 8PM beginning October 4th.
Blue Heron Arts Center
Reviewed by Armistead
I Love Paris
takes place backstage at the daytime talk show,
The View, where Paris is waiting to audition
for a slot as one of the show's co-hosts. The
play is a stream of consciousness monologue of
musings from America's favorite hotel heiress
and B porn star, Paris Hilton.
Paris's mind," you ask? Everything from her
hair to terrorism and thankfully, Doug Field's
(Down South, An Enola Gay Christmas)
script provides no segue from topic to topic,
giving I Love Paris an authenticity that
fans of Paris's The Simple Life have
come to appreciate from Ms. Hilton.
Now, there are
critics out there who claim that Paris Hilton
is nothing more than a pretty face and hot body
with millions of dollars. "How has I Love
Paris dealt with such harsh remarks," you
ask? By taking her hot body and pretty face out
of the equation and having the reality TV star
and Guess? model played by someone who no more
resembles her than he does her dog Tinkerbell;
veteran Broadway actor Kevin Shinick. The bold
direction, by Timothy Haskell (one of the most
talented directors in New York right now), has
Kevin playing Paris as a man, so there is no pretty
face or hot body (or horrid drag performance)
to get in the way of Paris's intriguingly empty
I be doing this weekend," you ask? Well,
if you are interested in an intelligent take on
one of the most seemingly unintelligent stars
of this day and age, going to see I Love Paris
would be a great option.
Blue Heron Arts Center
| 123 E. 24th St. at Park Avenue South
Tues - Fri @t 8:15 PM
Sat @ 2:15PM & 8:15 PM
Sundays @ 3:15PM & 7:15 PM.
Opening Sept 17th
Closing Oct 10th
59E59 St Theatre
Begs The Question:
What The Hell Are We Doing?
Reviewed by Dinika
is produced by the Riot Group, which is known
for its appetite for original plays. The play
won many awards in Britain and in my opinion,
is on a par with my favorite American army movie,"
Stripes." Released in the 80s, "Stripes"
is the comic story of John Winger (Bill Murray),
who joins the army to meet girls and then blunders
his way to glory. While "Pugilist Specialist"
is funny, the humor is ridden with sharp jabs
of melancholy and frustration at the confusion
in the United States Marine Corps. Specialist
is a true political satire. Like the situation
in "Stripes," pandemonium breaks lose
when dimwitted officers unwittingly sabotage their
own best laid plans, resulting in brouhaha. In
a democracy, we have the right to hope that any
decisions made affecting the lives of others will
not be taken lightly. In "Specialist,"
the reality is shown to be far from this hopeful
The Marines are
reputed to be one of the most hierarchal divisions
in the American defense machine. And as in any
other hierarchy where obeying orders is key, bad
decisions from superiors go unquestioned. That
absolute power corrupts is a well known fact.
The Marines are certainly no exception to this
The play has four
main characters: Lieutenant Emma Stein (Stephanie
Viola), Colonel Johns (Paul Schnabel), Lieutenant
Travis Freud (Adriano Shaplin) and Lieutenant
Studdard (Drew Friedman). Lieutenant Stein is
the "hooker with a heart of gold" and
she functions as the conscience of the group.
Through the play, we learn that sometime in the
past, when Stein felt the public good was not
being served, she talked to the New York Times.
This was a sacrilegious act, which cost her her
career in the Marines. For all her earlier conscientious
efforts, toward the latter half of the play, Stein
is shown to be the most unrealistic about how
to best serve the public. She reports to Colonel
Johns (Paul Schnabel), a commanding officer who
subscribes to a philosophy of empathy during combat.
"Bring your heart, that's the muscle that
pulls the trigger."
And as you would
expect, the character of Lieutenant Travis Freud
(Adriano Shaplin) was written with the goal of
balancing-out the Colonel's so-called empathy.
Freud exhibits unbridled joy when called to combat.
He is also the quintessential video game junkie,
but now his remote control has been replaced with
an Uzi. Like some of the imbeciles in Xbox's popular
videogame Halo, we learn that Freud has acquired
a reputation within the marines as a bit of a
loose canon. He does not adhere to the make-sure-mind-is-in-gear-principle
before pressing the trigger. Freud is bent on
human extermination and sees the world only in
black and white. When the in-touch-with-his-feminine-side
Colonel Johns asks him to agree with him he, responds,
"Is it an order sir? Then it doesn't have
to make sense."
The conflicts and
squabbles between Stein and Freud provide a hilarious,
sarcastic backdrop for the mind-numbing Lieutenant
Studdard (Drew Friedman), who serves as the recorder
for the unit. To Studdard, talk is cheap. He likes
to focus on the facts and abstains from idle banter.
While he could have represented the prudence we
crave, he actually comes off devoid of conscience.
He portrays the robot soldier that we all despise.
The four are drawn
together in a secret mission to assassinate the
"Bearded Lady" at his palace in the
desert. From a political standpoint the mission
makes no sense, as Stein quickly points out. She
states that it is most unwise to assassinate the
leader of a country under attack, as it will make
him a martyr. She is, of course, unaware of the
true nature of the mission, as are we.
The play has a
surprise ending that explains very little. The
motivation that leads the characters to this ending
was obscure, at best. Ideally the surprise twist
ending the play would leave us guessing. Alas,
in this case we are merely bewildered.
The set is bare
with three wooden benches forming the props. The
music is minimalist with instrumental beats kicking
in now and then, but disappearing during important
conversations or moments of high conflict. With
little else to add to the flavor, the dialogue
has to be stellar to capture the attention of
the audience. Stellar it is; writer Adriano Shaplin
delivers. The words jump and grab you by the throat.
Another very interesting
and unusual feature is that the characters always
face the audience when speaking, never each other.
This contributes significantly to the dramatic
effect of the play, while drawing attention to
facial expressions. The lion of the show is Stephanie
Viola as Stein; she gives a very passionate performance.
Shaplin and Friedman are stunning and draw many
laughs from the audience. Schnabel is a steady
Specialist" focuses on the current Iraq War,
it raises timeless political questions regarding
the actions of all superpowers. It is not often
that we get to see good theater about the present
in the present. Reminiscent of work by Harold
Pinter, writer of "Betrayal" and also
known for his unexpected twists, playwright Adriano
Shaplin bitingly asks, "What is the truth
and what the hell are we doing?"
59E59 St Theatre |59 East 59th