Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Blood Brothers Present . . . The Master of Horror (The Blood Brothers and Nosedive Productions)

Review by Byrne Harrison
Photos by Aaron Epstein

After a year spent dreaming up fresh horrors for Gotham's citizens, the Blood Brothers are back. And this time, they've brought along a famous friend.

Nosedive Productions has been given the rights to stage four plays based on the Stephen King short stories Nona, Quitters, Inc., In The Deathroom, and his poem, Paranoid: A Chant. Serving as a frame for the plays is James Comtois' The Last Waltz. This piece, based on a chapter of King's nonfiction work, Danse Macabre, covers the mayhem and murder that has been blamed on King's work and features the delightfully homicidal Family Blood (Pete Boisvert and Patrick Shearer as the titular Blood Brothers, Rebecca Comtois as Sister Blood) acting out the various immolations, impalements, and murders with bloodthirsty glee. Just hearing Boisvert hiss "They're all going to laugh at you" to a woman who had been impaled with kitchenware (à la Carrie's mother) was enough to make this one of my favorite parts of the show.

The first King show of the evening is Nona, a play about obsession and the lengths a man will go to for his dream woman, real or not. Loverboy (Jeremy Goren) is not much of a man until he meets the sultry and desperate Nona (Jessi Gotta). Where she leads, he follows even if it means murder and madness. The play, ably adapted by James Comtois, features some nice special effects, a healthy dose of blood, and some excellent fight choreography by Qui Nguyen, who does his usual bang up job. Well paced by director Shearer, it nonetheless lacks a certain amount of suspense. As with any play, props must be changed, sets moved, and "dead" actors must leave the stage. Shearer does what he can to keep the audience in the moment so the suspense can build, but the interruptions take their toll.

The second play, Quitters, Inc., adapted by Qui Nguyen, attempts to add a note of humor to the evening. This tale of Richard (Michael Criscuolo), who wants to give up smoking, and Vic Donatti (Marc Landers), who is willing to do absolutely anything to absolutely anybody to ensure Richard's success, is somewhat overwritten by Nguyen and seems somewhat under-rehearsed. This combination makes the play drag. That said, Nguyen proves adept at using flashback - the play begins with the reunion of the man and his wife (Marsha Martinez) and jumps back in time as he explains what led up to it - and Boisvert proves adept at directing it, making Martinez a witness to the scenes as Landers and Criscuolo act them out, while reacting as though she's being told a story by Criscuolo. All in all, a nice effect, and a good way to adapt the story for stage.

The next play, Paranoid: A Chant, is a monologue which will be familiar to anyone who has sat near an unbalanced person on the subway. The Paranoiac (Jessi Gotta) is being watched - and studied - and recorded - but she's one step ahead of them. She knows their tricks. Played with outstanding intensity by Gotta, who manages to make the the audience feel her stifling paranoia and makes them feel claustrophobic in the creeping darkness, and directed with a manic intensity by Boisvert, this is the highlight of the evening.

The final piece, Mac Rogers' In the Deathroom, is the best in terms of a story that translates well to the stage. Following Fletcher (Ben Trawick-Smith), a NY Times reporter who is being tortured by the sadistic Heinz (Christian Toth) under the orders of Pilar (Marsha Martinez) and Escobar (Jeremy Goren), a couple of petty dictators in an unnamed Latin American country, this tale of love and revenge is a tight, well-written, well-directed (Boisvert again), and well-acted play. Of particular note is Toth, whose Heinz is an evil maniac, but one who is slave to his passions. In the Deathroom also features a wonderfully gruesome special effect that occurs during an electrocution.

Although the adaptations vary in their degrees of success, overall The Blood Brothers Present . . . The Master of Horrors delivers what it promises - humor, fear, and a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your point of view) dose of gore. And when was the last time you saw a group of actors who could be so good at being so evil?

Written by James Comtois, Qui Nguyen and Mac Rogers
Adapted from the short stories of Stephen King
Directed by Pete Boisvert and Patrick Shearer
Stage Managers: Stephanie Cox-Williams and Ben VandenBoom
Fight Choreographer: Qui Nguyen
Lighting Designer: Leslie Hughes
Sound Designer: Patrick Shearer
Special Effects Coordinator: Stephanie Cox-Williams
Original Music: Larry Lees
Press Agent: James Comtois
Producers: Pete Boisvert, James Comtois, Rebecca Comtois, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Marc Landers, Ben VandenBoom, and Patrick Shearer
Associate Producer: Jessi Gotta

Featuring: Rebecca Comtois (Sister Blood), Michael Criscuolo (Morrison/Ramon/Trucker #2), Jeremy Goren (Loverboy, Escobar), Jessi Gotta (Nona, the Paranoiac), Marc Landers (Cook/Blanchette/Donatti), Marsha Martinez (Cindy, Pilar), Ben Trawick-Smith (Ace Merrill/Good Samaritan/Fletcher), Christian Toth (Trucker #1, Cop, Jimmy McCann/Heinz)

Endtimes Underground
at the Gene Frankel Theatre
24 Bond Street (between Bowery & Lafayette)

October 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31, and November 1, 2008
7:30 PM

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Announcement - Plucking Failures Like Ripe Fruit (Horse Trade Theater Group/No Tea Productions)





(A Night of One-Act Romantic Tragedies)

Directed by Lindsey Moore


PLUCKING FAILURES LIKE RIPE FRUIT is a collection of small works by big playwrights, all of which are about people trying, and failing, at love. Before each show, the audience will draw our performance order from a collection of more than 10 short plays, so every night is guaranteed to be a different show! Plays include Sure Thing by David Ives, 1-900-Desperate by Christopher Durang, Here We Are by Dorothy Parker, Request Stop by Harold Pinter, Cold by David Mamet, Miss You by David Auburn, Please Have a Seat And Someone Will Be With You Shortly by Garth Wingfield, Anything For You by Cathy Celesia, A Day For Surprises by John Guare, Breaking Even by Dan Dietz and, 4 a.m. (Open All Night) by Bob Krakower,

PLUCKING FAILURES LIKE RIPE FRUIT features Alicia Barnatchez, Brooke Eddey, Sabrina Farhi, Richard Lovejoy, Jeremy Mather, and Jeff Sproul.

The production, produced by Horse Trade Theater Group and No Tea Productions, will play at UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place) November 20-December 6, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday, November 30 at 2pm (no show on November 27). Tickets ($15, $12 students/seniors) are available by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or online at

# # # #

For the last year and a half, No Tea Productions has been staging off-off-Broadway shows, mostly brand new works by young playwrights in New York. With each show, we strive to be funny and entertaining, but also to always present a larger truth.

"A company to look out for … this young production company kicks out a tremendous show with an equally powerful ensemble." - Richard Hinojosa,

"...A reason for hope for American theatre." - Ethan Stanislawski, BlogCritics Magazine

Horse Trade is a self-sustaining theater development group; with a focus on new work, it has produced a massive quantity of stimulating downtown theater. Horse Trade’s Resident Artist Program offers a home to a select group of Independent Theater artists, pooling together a great deal of talent and energy. It is also the home of FRIGID New York – the first and only festival of its kind in New York City.

# # # #

News - 3LD Art & Technology Center Receives Grants

New York, NY— The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded 3LD $400,000. The Mellon grant supports all artistic and organizational initiatives at 3LD from 3-Legged Dog's own artistic production, to 3LD's Resident programming, Professional Development Resources and Program Analysis. Mellon has attached a two-to-one match requirement to $200,000 of this grant as a challenge to other 3LD supporters to make their own commitment to 3LD's facility and the continuation of artistic activity in Lower Manhattan that keeps New York City a vital cornerstone of artistic experimentation and cutting-edge creativity.

In addition 3LD has just been awarded $200,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation's New York City Cultural Innovation Fund, a fund which helps improve quality of life throughout the city by recognizing and supporting new opportunities in the creative sector. This highly competitive two-year grant, for 3LD's Cooperative Professional Resources program, will bolster several 3LD projects for large-scale theater and media artists:

- The Cooperative Studio Licensing Program, which develops the new art work of seven to nine arts groups annually.

- Professional Development technology and other training sessions, both private and public.

- Artist Working Groups, which bring artists together to tackle pressing problems affecting the New York City creative community.

- The expansion of 3LD's International Consortium, which creates long-term global partnerships for experimental art production.

3-Legged Dog was founded in 1994 by a group of artists working at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater and has become one of the leading experimental arts groups in New York. Its mission is to produce new, original works in theater, performance, media and hybrid forms. Working out of a strong literary tradition, they explore the new narrative possibilities created by digital technology, and provide an environment for their artists to create new tools and modes of expression so that they can excel across a range of disciplines. The company's award-winning work has been shown in New York and Europe. For more information visit

In 2006, the company inaugurated the 3LD Art & Technology Center at 80 Greenwich Street south of the World Trade Center site. 3LD Art & Technology Center is an artist-run production studio with one goal, to create a culture of risk taking, experimentation, independence and ambition with a cooperative international community of artists centered in New York. 3LD's facility and programs offer an arena in which residents simultaneously increase knowledge, streamline production processes and realize their creative visions. 3LD's resident programs are designed to create a stable, savvy, self-sufficient experimental arts community with access to resources and professional development that leads to better quality work, high production values, and new ways of engaging the public, here and abroad. With 3LD's resources and the time to really dig into their work, residents have the opportunity to test the limits of their materials and expand their artistic imaginations. Over the last two years, the company has supported the work of nearly 1000 artists including Laurie Anderson, Charles Mee, New Georges, Hourglass Group, HERE, The TEAM, Troika Ranch, Trick Saddle, Ripe Time, Reid Farrington, and many others. For more information visit:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Announcement - Revealed (Horse Trade Theater Group/GiGi La Femme & Doc Wasabassco)

Horse Trade Theater Group presents
a GiGi La Femme & Doc Wasabassco Production:

More burlesque than you’ve ever seen before!


Wednesday, November 19, 10:00pm $20
Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place, New York, NY


REVEALED . . . Brought to you by the Power Couple of Burlesque (GiGi La Femme and Doc Wasabassco) Revealed is a cutting-edge burlesque show with a sinfully dirty twist. This unique and extra-sultry night features the sexiest, most notorious burlesque performers in New York City, as you’ve never seen them before! Revealed promises you more bang for your buck than any other show in town.

Featuring tantalizing performances by Amber Ray, GiGi La Femme, Kobayashi Maru, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Peekaboo Pointe and Gal Friday with your charming and inebriated host, Bastard Keith!

What surprises will the girls have in store for us this month? Sushi eating? Pillow fights? Come find out and experience an evening of salacious striptease and skin, where the climax of each number leaves everything…Revealed.

"Worth considerably more than the paltry $20 admission fee it demands, the neo-burlesque show Revealed offers up a substantial helping of coquetry, comedy and camp, along with other, pinker, softer words beginning with the letter C." –New York Press

# # # #

Revealed Burlesque
UNDER St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place

The third Wednesday of every month, at 10:00 PM

Admission is $20. Tickets are available online at or by calling 212-868-4444

# # # #

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Review - Brew of the Dead (Horse Trade Theatre Group and Dysfunctional Theatre Company)

Review by Byrne Harrison

You've studied Romero and Raimi. You've watched Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later. Maybe you've even sung along to Zombie Prom and Evil Dead: The Musical. But will you survive the Zombie Apocalypse? And if so, are you going to be able to come up with some cool one-liners to use while you fight off legions of the walking dead?

Sadly, the answer is probably no. (For some good examples click here)

Luckily, playwright Patrick Storck has provided us with a handful of plucky survivors who, armed with a small cache of weapons and a staggering knowledge of zombie lore (heavy on the pop culture), flee Pittsburgh and decide to hole up in the Latrobe brewery. After all, if you're going to wait out the Zombie Apocalypse, you might as well have a nice buzz. Along the way, one of them gets bitten, and rather than giving up, he decides to drink the infection away (assuming it is an infection).

Brew of the Dead doesn't get much more complex than that, but that's fine. It's really about the jokes, adrenaline, and five people who probably wouldn't hang out together except for that whole zombie thing. Think of The Breakfast Club as directed by George Romero. The zombies in Brew of the Dead are rarely seen, but they are the subject of endless debate. Why do they eat brains? Why do they eat at all since they're dead? Is a chainsaw really a useful weapon, or did it just look cool in the Evil Dead movies? While most of these questions are never answered, they do allow for some great quips, one-liners and sarcastic banter.

The best lines of the evening tend to come from Craig (Peter Schuyler), a shaggy-looking drunk who nearly becomes zombie chow. He's the first to articulate what most of the others are thinking; even though they've seen death, un-death, and destruction, they're actually having a hell of a time. Each of them is suddenly out of his routine and boring life, and using skills they didn't know they had. Nerdy Kim (Amy Overman) is the organizer of the group. She knows where each gun and machete is and how much food they need to scavenge. Derek (Tom O'Connor) is the voice of reason; he sees the potential dangers and tries to avoid them. Nexus (Amy Beth Sherman) is the kick-ass Goth girl. Matt (Eric Chase) and Craig (Peter Schuyler) are slackers who probably watched every zombie movie in college and suddenly find themselves oddly prepared for the end of the world. Despite the circumstances, the characters seem to be having a pretty good time and that gives the talented cast plenty of material to play with.

Brew of the Dead provides more laughs than chills, though the last minutes of the play provide some nice scary moments, showing that director Justin Plowman can do horror just as well as he does comedy. It is just the thing for a night out with friends, especially as Halloween approaches. Since the theatre (Under St. Marks) sells beer and cider, there's no reason not to crack open a cold one and drink along with the cast. After all, you never know when the zombies will attack.

Written by Patrick Storck
Directed by Justin Plowman
Assistant Director: Rob Brown
Producer: Amy Overman
Associate Producer: Peter Schuyler
Original Show Graphics & Postcard Design: J.L. Soto
Additional Graphics Designer: Cory Plowman
Lighting & Sound Designer: Justin Plowman

Featuring: Eric Chase (Matt), Tom O’Connor (Derek), Amy Overman (Kim), Peter Schuyler (Craig), Amy Beth Sherman (Nexus)

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

October 3, 4, 11, 18, 25 and November 1 at 10:30 PM

Tickets: Smarttix (212-868-4444) or

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Review - Caprice (Wings Theatre Company)

Review by Byrne Harrison

Sue Berch, Jared Joplin, Frank Galgano and LinDel Sandlin
Photograph by Ben Strothmann

One of the things I admire about the Wings Theatre Company is their willingness to serve as an incubator for new musicals. Sometimes, they have a hit. Sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, their latest musical Caprice, Robert Lux’s backstage musical set in the late 1950s, misses the mark.

Following the adventures of the cast, crew and managers of the Caprice Theatre, the show promises “dueling divas, naïve ingénues, conniving board members, and a fortune teller.” And while it’s true that those things appear, the flimsy story that connects them all fails to make them interesting.

Caprice follows B. Frank Facetious (Jared Joplin) and his long-suffering and clearly besotted stage manager, Paul Marseilles (Frank Galgano), as they attempt to stage what is destined to become the latest in a line of musical stinkers. As B., as he is known to his cast, makes mistake after mistake – being seduced into casting the untalented Louise Horntinsky (Sue Berch), allowing the rivalry between Louise and the better qualified actress, Veeda Goodrich (LinDel Sandlin), to become a knockdown fight, ignoring the feelings of the puppy-dog-eyed Paul, and allowing a domineering board member (Mary Anne Prevost) to walk all over him – he spirals closer and closer to being fired and losing everything.

Lux’s music is enjoyable, though his lyrics (with an assist by Jim Keeler) tend toward the obvious. He has a gift for ballads, however, and two of the songs, “Once Again” and the lovely “On the Day of Love,” are rather good taken on their own. The second in particular, sung by Vanessa Wendt as a gypsy fortune teller, showcases a problem with the musical. The song, and indeed her character, seems shoehorned into the show. This is compounded by director Fred C. L. Mann’s decision to have the gypsy character onstage for the first few numbers before her scene, silently watching the events unfold. This makes it seem that her character will be somehow more important to the plot of the show. Several characters, especially the underwritten dueling diva, Louise, seem to be merely afterthoughts. The fact that the dueling divas rarely appear onstage together (Louise rarely appears period) and that only Veeda has any songs, give short shrift to what could have been a fun secondary story.

Lux’s decision to place the musical in 1959 seems likewise unnecessary, especially as it made one of B.’s songs, “Life is Not a Musical,” anachronistic, by referencing modern musicals like Annie. It did, however allow costume designer Kurt A. Smith and set designer Justin Couchara to have a little fun with their great period costumes and mod designs.

The acting in Caprice is uneven, with a certain amount of blame going to Mann’s flaccid direction and Lux’s cardboard characters. The one standout is LindDel Sandlin. Her Veeda is an salty broad with a touch of Merman about her. If Veeda had been given more chances to shine, and a better written opponent, Sandlin could have brought down the house.

Music and Lyrics by Robert Lux
Additional Lyrics by Jim Keeler
Directed and Choreographed by Fred C. L. Mann III
Musical Direction by David Hancock Turner
Costume Design by Kurt A. Smith
Set Design by Justin Couchara
Lighting Design by Joyce Liao
Stage Manager: Chelsea Underwood

Featuring: LinDel Sandlin (Veeda Goodrich), Joey Kovach (Cecil Beam), Jimmy Glidden III (Michael Sparks), Frank Galgano (Paul Marseilles), Jared Joplin (B. Frank Facetious), Sue Berch (Louise Horntinsky), Melissa Zimmerman (Heather Winterset), Vanessa Wendt (Madame Sherry), Mary Anne Prevost (Grace Weidenfelt), Cooper Cerulo (Georgie Weidenfelt), Anthony Fusco (Virge Butler)

Wings Theatre
154 Christopher Street

Thursday-Saturday 8 PM
Sundays 3:30 PM
Monday 8 PM

Closed October 5th