Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review - Glimpses of the Moon (Sharon Carr Associates, Ltd.)

Review by Bryan Clark
Photo by Erica Parise

Glimpses of The Moon is a pleasant musicalization of a 1922 novel by Edith Wharton, better known today for her earlier work The Age of Innocence. This production had an initial run at the Algonquin Oak Room from January to March of this year, and has now returned for a second engagement with new actors in three of the six roles. John Mercurio’s music has a plausible and upbeat jazz-age flavor, though not especially memorable. The book and lyrics by Tajlei Levis are more interesting, and could easily stand alone as a non-musical period piece.

The story is familiar: society girl Susy wants to break free from her dependence on well-heeled patrons and find true love, while writer Nick wants to secure a patron for his artistic endeavors…and find true love. No surprises in this storyline, as the lovers come together out of convenience, fall in love, compromise their principles, fall out of love, prepare to marry within their own circles – but wait! Will true love prevail over money and class? A no-brainer, but the great chemistry between Autumn Hurlbert and Chris Peluso holds the tension to the very end. Hurlbert is particularly strong, in a nuanced performance that invites empathy even when her character’s behavior is not so attractive.

Jane Blass gives a brilliant and effortless turn as Ellie Vanderlyn, Susy’s would-be mentor in the world of high society. She seems born to play this character, and her words flow out as though she wrote the role herself. Glenn Peters has a huge arc to contend with in the duplicitous role of Winthrop Strefford, and he delivers it with precision and vigor. Daren Kelly does fine as Nelson Vanderlyn, a smallish role which mainly rests on his exit scene – which he performs with understated enthusiasm. The only odd note comes from Laura Jordan as Nick’s stalker/other-love-interest Coral, a role which does suggest a certain degree of eccentricity but reaches out of the period style in this interpretation. (Jordan doubles as the superfluous character Ursula, a character that is used in the opening scene to introduce Nick and then never appears again.)

Surprisingly, the least successful aspect of this production is its placement in the Oak Room. The sprawling story takes us from brownstones to fishing lodges to fur boutiques, but the production is firmly stuck in the Oak Room. Although Marc Bruni’s direction and James Milkey’s lighting work wonders in the cramped quarters, the fact remains that this piece is a play, not a cabaret act, and belongs on a stage. (The brief scene in The Oak Room itself, with a walk-on appearance by a rotating guest star, is awkward and incongruous.) The audience members who were seated within inches of the action were by turns excited and uncomfortable, but in either case they were highly visible and needlessly distracting. Above all, the Oak Room doesn’t hold up so well under theatrical lighting. Never noticed that cheesy Motel 6 carpeting? Now you have. But this ill-advised venue does not diminish the value of this otherwise well-conceived new musical. As was noted in the reviews of the earlier run, Glimpses of the Moon is well-suited for summer stock and small regional theatres, and it should have a healthy future life.

Based on the novel by Edith Wharton
Book & lyrics by Tajlei Levis
Music by John Mercurio
Directed by Marc Bruni
Choreographed by Denis Jones
Music Direction by Rick Hip-Flores

Producer: Sharon Carr
Lighting Design: James Milkey
Costume Design: Lisa Zinni
Scenic Consultant: Ted LeFevre
General Manager: Brierpatch Productions / Laura Janik Cronin & Scott Newsome
Production Stage Manager: Carlos Maisonet
Press Representative: Katie Rosin/Kampfire Films PR

Featuring: Autumn Hurlbert (Susy), Chris Peluso (Nick), Jane Blass (Ellie), Laura Jordan (Ursula/Coral), Daren Kelly (Nelson) and Glenn Peters (Winthrop “Streffy”)
Understudies: Russell Arden Koplin and Matt Lutz
Reed player at performance reviewed: Dave Nolan
Guest star at performance reviewed: Lisa Asher

Oak Room
Algonquin Hotel
59 West 44th Street

For reservations call 866-468-7619 or visit

Mondays at 8PM
(doors at 6PM; dinner service to 7:30PM)

Open run.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Review - Moonlight & Love Songs (WorkShop Theater Company)

Review by Byrne Harrison
Photo by Gerry Goodstein

Love is a hard thing, even at the best of times. But when Harry (Jeff Woodman), an architect with a history of bad relationships, meets Jim (Ryan Tresser), a much younger man with a shared love of classic movies, it seems that his luck could be changing. But a fairy tale ending is not to be in Scott C. Sickles's latest play, Moonlight & Love Songs, being presented by the WorkShop Theater Company.

Jim, who claims to be a college student at a local university, is actually much younger than he appears. Harry, driven perhaps by his own innocence or merely not wanting to see the truth, ignores the clues about Jim's age. When Jim's father, The Reverend Bennett (David M. Mead), figures out what his son has been doing, he contacts the police, sending Harry's life into a spiral. He is arrested and loses both his job and the respect of his family.

Jim, forced by his sick mother not only to examine his relationship with Harry, but his own father's infidelities, must figure out if he is willing to sacrifice everything to help Harry.

Sickles's play is well-written, and because of his main characters' shared love of movies, references several classic Hollywood love stories in charming and inventive ways. Framing it in classic movie references, and by telling the main story as an extended flashback, he is able to show that no matter how terrible things get after the revelations about Jim's age, everyone makes it out more or less okay. Director David Gautschy allows the characters to set the pace of the play; Harry's scenes moving with a sort of fussy deliberateness that seems to suit his character, and Jim's with a sense of reckless energy. In addition, he makes good use of the entire Main Stage Theater space and Duane Pagano's versatile set and lighting.

While the cast is particularly good, Woodman does an exceptional job as Harry, especially in his scenes of wide-eyed yet dubious wonder when a beautiful younger man expresses interest in him, and his later scenes of stoic resignation with a healthy dose of gallows humor. Tresser as Jim effortlessly plays the mercurial tendencies of teenagers - impulsive, confused, and living each emotion with a terrifying intensity, as though it were the first time any human had ever felt it. Tresser, however, looks even older than the 20 year old college student that Jim pretends to be, but it's a minor inconsistency that is quickly overlooked.

Also outstanding are Jeff Paul, as Ben Stafford, Harry's best friend, boss and brother-in-law, and Nicole Taylor as Harry's sister Diane. As the one person who stands by Harry throughout the scandal, Paul plays Ben as a truly stand up guy, with a touch of frat boy humor, but an unflagging loyalty, and Taylor's take on Diane shows a great deal of range and mines all the humor in the role.

Sickles takes a potentially controversial topic and crafts a beautiful story of a doomed romance. Like the old movies it references, Casablanca chief among them, Moonlight & Love Songs shows that love often demands sacrifice to become transcendent.

Written by Scott C. Sickles
Directed by David Gautschy
Lighting and Scenic Design - Duane Pagano
Sound Design - David Schulder
Assistant Director - Chaya Muldavin
Production Stage Manager - Michael Palmer
Assistant Stage Manager - Samantha Mercado
Coordinating Producer - Mitchell Sawyer
Press Representative - Scotti Rhodes Publicity
Promotional Art/Logo - Todd Alan Johnson

Featuring: Ryan Tresser (Jim Bennett), Jeff Woodman (Harry Wallace), Jeff Paul (Ben Stafford), David Palmer Brown (Box Office People, et al), Nicole Taylor (Diane Wallace-Stafford), David M. Mead (The Reverend), Anne Fizzard (Eileen Bennett)

Main Stage Theater
312 W. 36th St.
4th Floor East

For reservations call 212-695-4173 x5#

Wed.-Sat. 8PM
Matinees on Sat. at 3 PM

Through November 22

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fundraiser - Into the Underworld (Maieutic Theatre Works)

November 10, 2008 AT THE TRIAD NYC


MAIEUTIC THEATRE WORKS (MTWorks) is pleased to announce their one-night only benefit event, INTO THE UNDERWORLD: A Broadway Understudy Tell All…With Music, once again under the musical direction of Matt Doebler (Wicked), hosted by Katie Adams & Julie Reiber of Wicked. INTO THE UNDERWORLD will take place on Monday, November 10th (9:30pm) at The Triad NYC (158 West 72nd Street).

Into The Underworld will included performances by:

-JUSTIN BRILL (Rent, All Shook Up)
-TONY CHIROLDES (In The Heights)
-JEFF EDGERTON (Grease, Parade)
-MICHELLE LOOKADOO (The Little Mermaid)
-KATE PAZAKIS (Jerry Sprnger The Opera)
-DAVID SPANGENTHAL (Beauty & The Beast, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
-SHAUN TAYLOR-CORBETT (In The Heights); they share their most intimate stories on how they made it to the Broadway stage.

The proceeds from this event will go to funding MTWorks Season 08-09, including The 2009 National NewBorn Festival in January 2009, and the production of Jacqueline Goldfinger’s The Oath in April 2009 at The Arclight Theater.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

General Admission: Advance Purchase $40.00 (+2 drink minimum, cash bar)
Day of the Event $45.00 (+2 drink minimum, cash bar)

*VIP Tickets: 65.00 (+2 drink minimum, cash bar).

Tickets are now available online at or by calling 212-352-3101. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at The Triad NYC half hour prior to Showtime, cash only.

*VIP Tickets include preferential reserved seating, Broadway Memorabilia, Bottle of Fine Wine, Tickets to The Oath and VIP Gift Bag.

Complimentary Hors D’Oeuvres will be served at the event; there will be an auction, including tickets to Wicked, Altar Boyz and My First Time, Broadway Memorabilia and more.

For more information visit You can also visit for driving/subway information.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fundraiser - Scavenger Hunt for Red Door Theatre

The Scavenger Hunt is coming!(THIS WEEKEND!!!)

First Annual RDT Scavenger Hunt will be held on Saturday, November 8th beginning at 1pm. (Registration begins at 12:30pm)

Start getting your team together (2-4 people per team).

Don't have a team? That's ok, we'll pair you up when you get there.

$10/per person, or $35 for a pre-registered team of four.

(You will also need a digital camera, phones are fine, and an unlimited metro card)

Win Theatre tickets, Free Seminars at The Network and other great prizes!


(You must email us to "Pre-register" for the 4-person discount!)

Please put "Scavenger Hunt" in the subject line

Details:Saturday, November 8, 2008
Time: 1:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: World Wide Plaza
Street: Between 49th and 50th, and 8th and 9th
City/Town: New York, NY

Special thanks to: Richard Frankel Productions, The Network, & Design Napier

Please visit for all the Official Rules and Details

Review - The Pumpkin Pie Show (Horse Trade Theater Group)

Review by Byrne Harrison
Photos by Cedar

Every once in a while I find out about a show that I never knew existed, but has been around for years. Once upon a time, it was Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. This time it is The Pumpkin Pie Show. Returning to New York for its tenth anniversary, The Pumpkin Pie Show makes me wish I'd known about it ten years ago.

The Pumpkin Pie Show is an evening of story telling. The latest incarnation features Clay McLeod Chapman and Hanna Cheek, two enthralling actors with a gift for telling a compelling story. The actors have prepared fourteen stories, all written by Chapman, any six of which will be performed in an evening. While this does make for a new and exciting show every night, it also makes it hard to review. Based on the six stories performed the night I saw it, and of course the fact that it is Halloween, the common theme of this version seems to be horror. This falls into roughly three categories: visceral, as in Chapman's look inside the mind of a returning veteran in Grand Marshal and Cheek's tale of a murder revealed in Bridesmaid; sly and humorous, Cheek's Overbite, about a woman with jaws of steel and the problems that can cause, or the absolute winner of the evening, Late Bloomer, a Lovecraftian look at sex ed; and emotional, as in Cheek's story of a young nurse dealing with the loss of war in The Suitor's Ward, or Chapman's look at the silver lining of Alzheimer's in Oldsmobile.

While Late Bloomer is my favorite of Chapman's stories, mostly because it allows him to delve into a breathlessly over-the-top prose, my overall favorite was the lovely and heart-breaking The Suitor's Ward. Anyone not moved by this tale of a nurse and the gentle way she provides comfort to mortally wounded soldiers must have a heart of stone.

The Pumpkin Pie Show has now closed, but when it returns, do yourself a favor and buy tickets early. The show routinely sells out, and next time, I'm bringing all my friends.

Stories written by Clay McLeod Chapman
Performances by Clay McLeod Chapman and Hanna Cheek

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Closed 11/1

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Review - Something Weird . . . In the Red Room (Rachel Klein Productions)

Review by Byrne Harrison
Photos by Lisa Soverino

Something Weird . . . In The Red Room certainly lives up to its name. It is in the Red Room and it is most definitely weird. This evening featuring two short plays directed and choreographed by Rachel Klein has a fun and freaky vibe, and though somewhat confusing, is a good time.

The first play of the evening, Sir Sheever by Benjamin Spiro, is a quirky play about a hapless burglar, Ralph (Bret Haines), who wanders into a creepy dollhouse of a mansion run by Miss Elise (Kari Warchock), a Baby Jane type, and populated with a group of life-sized dolls. Incorporated into her fantasy role-playing, Ralph, now dubbed Sir Sheever, discovers that the dolls are more than they appear, and this knowledge may spell the end of Ralph and Miss Elise.

Klein's direction is strong, though her forte appears to be more geared toward the choreography (which is outstanding) and the creation of fascinating stage pictures, and less toward the pacing and dialogue. While the actors playing humans are good, the ones playing dolls are outstanding. Special praise goes to Megan O'Connor, as a haughty talking doll, complete with pull-string, named Miss Prissypants, and Ted Caine, as the hypersexual Fredrick doll.

Aenigma by Sean Gill, the second play of the evening is . . . well, enigmatic. This strange tale about Diana (Jillaine Gill) and Charlotte (Elizabeth Stewart), two sisters who are trying to find backers for their children's show, quickly changes into a psychosexual thriller about blackmail, murder, magic, and the universe that exists just beyond our realm of consciousness.

While Klein once again demonstrates her skill with choreography and movement, Aenigma better highlights her skills as a director. Using flashbacks, slow motion, and other decidedly non-realistic techniques, Klein makes up for the main weakness of the show, the necessity of explaining the backstory of Diana and Charlotte, by making the show fascinating to watch.

Outstanding performances are given by both Gill and Stewart, as well as Rob Richardson, as the emotionally blank blackmailer, Mr. Green. Bret Jaspers, who portrays Tad, a strange antagonist to Gill's Diana, does a good job, though Tad is at his off-kilter best when Jaspers and Gill are interacting.

For an Off-Off Broadway show with, I imagine, a small budget, the technical aspects of the show are excellent. Lighting designer Lisa Soverino does an outstanding job using light, shadow, and color to highlight the more surreal moments of both plays. Makeup designer Anita Rundles and costume designers Emily Dorwart and Rachel Klein create marvelous ensembles, especially for the dolls in Sir Sheever.

Something Weird . . . In The Red Room is fascinating evening of theatre. You might come out of it scratching your head, but even so, you will come out of it entertained.

Written by Benjamin Spiro (Sir Sheever) and Sean Gill (Aenigma)
Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Klein
Lighting Designer: Lisa Soverino
Makeup Designer: Anita Rundles
Costume Designer: Emily Dorwart and Rachel Klein
Costume Consultant: Emily Taradash
Sound Designer: Rachel Klein and Sean Gill
Sound Engineer: Benjamin Spiro and Sean Gill
Original Music Composer: Sean Gill and John Gill
Photographer: Lisa Soverino
Graphic Designer: Anthony Patryn
Press Representative: Emily Owens PR
Stage Managers: Lizz Giorgos and Marina Steinberg
Producer: Rachel Klein
Associate Producers: Benjamin Spiro and Sean Gill

Featuring (Sir Sheever): Candy Bloise (Euripides), Ted Caine (Fredrick), Bret Haines (Ralph), Abigail Hawk (Eunice), Megan O'Connor (Miss Prissypants), Michael Porsche (Robert), Kari Warchock (Miss Elise)

Featuring (Aenigma): Jillaine Gill (Diana), Bret Jaspers (Tad), Dasha Kittredge (Body Rock Crew), Christopher Loar (Body Rock Crew), Rob Richardson (Mr. Green), Claire A. Sansaricq (Body Rock Crew), Elizabeth Stewart (Charlotte)

The Red Room
85 E. 4th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Ave.

Closed 10/31