Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Clown Fest Interview - Sarah Liane Foster of The Last Show You'll Ever See

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Paul Rich

Name: Sarah Liane Foster
Show: The Last Show You'll Ever See
Relationship to show: Creator, solo performer
Website: www.nomadictheatre.org

Tell me a little bit about The Last Show You'll Ever See.

It is a show about the end of the world. It features a woman and her trombone as they face the possibility of impending apocalypse. Through fast-paced humor, offbeat text, virtuosic pantomime, and musical interludes, our intrepid heroine grapples with the endless possibilities of ending, before it’s too late.

What inspired you to create it?

I wanted to make a solo clown show with my trombone as a stage partner, and chose the theme of the end of the world because it's something I think about a lot, because the end of the world seems constantly possible in a simultaneously fascinating and terrifying way, and because I often find horrible things to have the most potential to be hilarious.

What is your clowning background?

My first clown workshop was with Avner the Eccentric and Julie Goell at the Celebration Barn Theatre in Maine. Then I went to the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre, where Ronlin Foreman taught us clown. I went back a year later for Ronlin's Advanced Clown workshop. After that I moved to Portland, OR, where I've been creating and performing clown and mask shows with the Nomadic Theatre Co. My clown skills have also developed a lot through my work with Clowns Without Borders, with which I've been involved since 2005. For the past three autumns I have been studying clown and movement theatre with Giovanni Fusetti. He coached me through the initial creation of this show in October, 2008.

What would you tell someone who is afraid of clowns to get them to come to your show?

I'm not the scary kind. For reals. I don't even wear clown make-up. In this show, I don't wear a red nose. Funny, thought-provoking, not scary.

What is next for you after the New York Clown Theatre Festival?

After the festival, I am flying to Florence, Italy, for an assistantship for the first year of Giovanni Fusetti's new movement theatre school, Helikos.

The Last Show You'll Ever See
Nomadic Theatre Co.
Portland, OR

NY Clown Theatre Festival
The Brick Theatre
575 Metropolitan Ave.

Friday, September 17th @ 7pm
Saturday, September 18th @ 6pm
Tuesday, September 21st @ 7pm
Friday, September 24th @ 7 pm
Saturday, September 25th @ 10pm

Half-Nekkid Neo-Futurists: The Video

By Byrne Harrison

In case those photos weren't enough of a thrill, the NY Neo-Futurists have released video of their recent Half-Nekkid Streak.

Love the choice of music.

Monday, August 30, 2010

FringeNYC Encore Series Announces Lineup

FringeNYC Encore Series Announces Lineup of 20 Shows
September 9 - 26

Now in its fifth year, the FringeNYC Encore Series gives theatre
lovers another chance at seeing some of the Festival's favorite shows.
Beginning September 9th, the FringeNYC Encore Series will present
nearly 20 works in rotating repertory at three downtown venues: The
Lucille Lortel Theater (121 Christopher Street between Bleecker anf
Hudson) and The Players Theatre (115 MacDougal, between Houston & West
3rd Street) and Soho Playhouse’s Huron Club (15 Vandam Street between
6th Ave & Varick, off the #1 to Houston Street or C, E to Spring).
Tickets are $18 at 866-468-7619 or www.FringeNYC-EncoreSeries.com.

In 16 days, even the most intrepid theatergoer can only sample a small
fraction of the nearly 200 offerings at the New York International
Fringe Festival. The FringeNYC Encores Series is an annual showcase
some of the critically acclaimed and most crowd-pleasing shows from
the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival. The schedule is as


Getting Even with Shakespeare
Writer: Matt Saldarelli / Director: Laura Konsin
Five tragic heroes walk into a bar...and they're pissed. When not
dying nightly, Macbeth plays paintball, Juliet deals ecstasy and Lear
(unsuccessfully) avoids storms. Enter a lawyer who proves the play is
the thing to catch the Playwright King. 1h 30m.
9/21 @ 8:00, 9/24 @ 9:00, 9/25 @ 7:30, 9/26 @ 4:00

Hearts Full of Blood
The New Colony (Chicago, IL)
Writer: James Asmus / Director: Andrew Hobgood
A horrifying secret forever affects the lives of a couple and their
two single friends. "Quite the riveting show." (Chicago Tribune).
"Gut-wrenchingly tragic and very, very funny." (TimeOut Chicago). 2h.
9/9 @ 9:30, 9/10 @ 7:00, 9/12 @ 3:00, 9/14 @ 8:00

How My Mother Died of Cancer, and Other Bedtime Stories
Robert Intile, Jr. & Alina Gutierrez with The Dreamscape Theatre
Writer: Chris Kelly; Director: Laura Moss
Kate Morgan, 25, copes with her mother's death by writing a comedy
about cancer and its impact on her family. She's also cast her family
and friends as themselves. When they hijack the performance, the
results are disastrous. 1h 30m.
9/9 @ 7:00, 9/11 @ 7:00, 9/12 @ 8:00, 9/13 @ 8:00

Over and Over
No Hope Productions
Writer: Tim Aumiller; Director: Tim Aumiller; In a downtown Manhattan
theatre --where relationships, both real and imagined, are forged and
broken --Mitch and Jimmie meet. Two former Fordham roommates and best
friends, they negotiate the complex and intimate terms of their sexual
history. 1h 15m.
9/18 @ 8:00, 9/22 @ 9:30, 9/24 @ 7:00, 9/25 @ 5:00

PigPen Presents The Nightmare Story
PigPen Theatre Co. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Writer: Alex Falberg, Arya Shahi, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Daniel
Weschler, Matt Nuernberger, Ryan Melia
A boy's beloved mother shows symptoms of the mythical "Nightmare
Disease". Now he must journey into the unknown to find a cure...
before it's too late. Actors from Carnegie Mellon University; PigPen
combines storytelling, music, puppetry, and shadow-play. 45m
9/10 @ 9:30, 9/11 @ 5:00, 9/11 @ 9:30, 9/12 @ 6:00

The Journey Company
Writer: Arlene Hutton / Director: Beth Lincks & Lori Wolter
His first Marathon just hours away, Stephen needs a good night's
sleep. Then his wife's attractive former roommate shows up
unexpectedly. Will he be running on empty? A new dark comedy from
the award-winning author of LAST TRAIN TO NIBROC. 1h 30m.
9/16 @ 7:00, 9/18 @ 2:00, 9/19 @ 5:30, 9/20 @ 7:00

Saving Throw Versus Love
Rhetorical Question Players
Writer: Larry Brenner / Director: Dann Fink
Carol thinks her fiancee Sam goes to a weekly poker game. But Sam has
a terrible secret-he’s a seventh level Elven thief. Will Carol be able
to accept Sam’s hobby? And can Grolock the Barbarian slay the evil
Werewolf? 1h 40m
9/20 @ 9:30, 9/22 @ 7:00, 9/25 @ 9:30, 9/26 @ 7:00

South Pathetic
New Conservatory Theatre Center Of San Francisco/Trash de Blanc (New York, NY)
Writer: Jim David; Director: Peter Smith; An unemployed comedian
directs North Carolina's worst community theatre in "Streetcar Named
Desire." Blanche played by "family values" crusader, Stella's a
stripper, Stanley's a porn star. Nominee Outstanding Solo Show, San
Francisco Theatre Critics. "Hilarious." - SF Weekly "Sidesplitting." -
TalkinBroadway.com 1h 15m.
9/15 @ 8:00, 9/17 @ 9:30, 9/18 @ 10:00, 9/19 @ 3:00

The Twentieth-Century Way
The Theatre @ Boston Court (Pasadena, CA)
Writer: Tom Jacobson; Director: Michael Michetti; Based on a
little-known incident in Southern California history, this theatrical
thrill ride explores the collision of reality and fantasy as two
actors juggle various roles to entrap homosexuals for “social
vagrancy” in public restrooms in 1914 Long Beach, California. 1h 40m.
9/16 @ 9:30, 9/17 @ 7:00, 9/18 @ 5:00, 9/19 @ 8:00


Bunked! A New Musical
Writer: Alaina Kunin and Bradford Proctor, Music by Bradford Proctor;
Director: Seth Sikes
Bunked features the exploits of five summer camp counselors as they
embark on their first taste of adulthood. Fatal secrets, impassioned
jealousy and triangular love trysts entangle the counselors as the
bittersweet end of summer approaches. 1h 40m.
9/19 @ 5:00, 9/20 @ 7:00, 9/23 @ 7:00, 9/25 @ 4:00

The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Festival
Writer: Rob Florence / Director: Dann Fink (New Orleans, LA)
The heartbreak. The humanity. The humor. Five true stories. Their own words.
1h 30m
9/11 @ 8:00, 9/12 @ 5:00, 9/15 @ 7:00, 9/19 @ 8:00

Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical
Writer: Emma Barash, Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz and Steve Wargo;
Director: Marshall Pailet.
Boldly re-imagined and retold from the perspective of the dinosaurs,
Jurassic Parq is an unflinching meditation on gender, sexual, and
racial identity in an evolving landscape destined to stun you with its
importance. And you should probably see it drunk. 1h 20m.
9/9 @ 7:00, 9/11 @ 10:30, 9/17 @ 9:30, 9/18 @ 10:30

Just In Time: The Judy Holliday Story
Writer/Director: Bob Sloan
A fast-paced romp through the life of the Original Dumb Blond and one
of the funniest actresses of all time. Featuring such exalted cohorts
as Orson Welles, Katherine Hepburn, Comden & Green, Gloria Swanson,
and Jimmy Durante.
(90 min)
9/10 @ 9:30, 9/13 @ 7:00, 9/14 @ 7:00, 9/15 @ 3:00

Lost and Found
Rogue Machine Theatre (Los Angeles, CA)
Writer: John Pollono; Director: Andrew Block
An embattled Boston cop family. A stranger with a secret. Sit down to
dinner with the Broncatos as they grapple with personal demons and
search for a place at the table in this savagely comic, emotionally
gripping, dysfunctional family portrait. 1h 50m.
9/18 @ 5:00, 9/21 @ 8:00, 9/24 @ 9:30, 8/25 @ 7:00

Made in Taiwan
Writer: Michelle Krusiec/ Director: Andy Belser
"A Chinese American Sandra Bullock" (NY Post). Krusiec's comedy-drama
entwines dysfunctional family, cultural confusion, and suburban
desperation. Pimped out by a Chinese mother, cowed by an American
naval father, this coming of age story is both poignant and hilarious.
1h 20m
9/10 @ 7:00, 9/14 @ 9:30, 9/17 @ 7:00, 9/18 @ 8:00

Pope! An Epic Musical
Writer: Justin Moran, Music by Christopher Pappas, Lyrics by Justin Moran
Director: Greg Moran, Musical Direction by Adam Podd
A popular Pope is framed and exiled from the Vatican, a tyrannical
Archbishop seizes power. People are in unrest, armies of robots stalk
the streets, the world is crying out for a hero… only one Pope can
answer the call! 1h 30m
9/16 @ 9:30, 9/24 @ 7:00, 9/25 @ 10:30, 9/26 @ 4:00

When Last We Flew
DRD Theatricals & Eric Louie
Writer: Harrison David Rivers/ Director: Colette Robert
After stealing his library's only copy of Angels in America, misfit
teenager Paul begins reading and discovers that his dull Midwestern
life is about to take flight. WHEN LAST WE FLEW was developed at
Lincoln Center and Sundance Theater Lab.
2h 0m Local Manhattan, NYC
9/9 @ 9:30, 9/11 @ 5:00, 9/12 @ 8:00, 9/16 @ 7:00

The Secretaries
Writers: The Five Lesbian Brothers (Maureen Angelos, Babs Davy,
Dominique Dibbell, Peg Healey and Lisa Kron). Director: Mark Finley
Join this cult of murderous Slim-Fast drinking, high-heel wearing,
big-haired secretaries who work the desks of the Cooney Lumber Mill in
Big Bone, Oregon. It's just like your office, only with chainsaws. 1h
9/13 @ 10:00, 9/15 @ 9:30, 9/22 @ 9:30, 9/23 @ 10:00

Viva Los Bastarditos!
Writer: Jake Oliver
A sublimely ridiculous and heartfelt tale of love, music and
revolution. When dastardly villains take over a mysterious realm
called Western Massachusetts, three rock heroes emerge to unite The
People against the would-be dictators. Join the revolution! 1h 50m
9/19 @ 2:00, 9/20 @ 9:30, 9/22 @ 7:00, 9/26 @ 7:00


Amsterdam Abortion Survivor
Micha Wertheim. (Holland, Netherlands)
His controversial solo performance earned him praise in the
Netherlands and at the 2007/8 Edinburgh festival. Wertheim manages to
shock and charm his audiences at the same time. His US debut promises
hard-hitting cutting edge comedy with an adorable accent. 1h
9/10 @ 9:30, 9/12 @ 8:00, 9/16 @ 10:00, 9/17 @ 8:00, 9/19 @ 8:00

Faye Lane's Beauty Shop Stories
Writer: Faye Lane / Director: Jay Rogers
She grew up in a Texas Beauty Salon... and lived to tell! Come hear
the glittered up memories of a Green Bean Queen. "They were howling,
crying, falling in love with her." New York Magazine. 55m
9/9 @ 9:30, 9/12 @ 6:00, 9/15 @ 3:00, 9/17 @ 10:00, 9/23 @ 9:30

FringeNYC 2010 Announces Overall Excellence Award Winners

In a brief ceremony at the closing night party for the New York International Fringe Festival at The Gramercy Theater, winners of the 2010 FringeNYC Overall Excellence Awards were announced. The awards are selected by an independent panel of over 50 theater professionals.

Overall Production/Play:
The Twentieth Century Way
PigPen Presents The Nightmare Stories
The Momentum
The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Festival

Overall Production/Musical:
Bunked! A New Musical
Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical

Tyler Moss – Terror SuperHighway
Geraldine Librandi – Lost and Found
Jared Houseman – Art of Attack
Rory Lipede – When Last We Flew
Deanna Pacelli – 23 Feet in 12 Minutes: The Death and Rebirth of New Orleans
Jake Ahlquist – Richard 3
Marina Squerciati - Just in Time: The Judy Holiday Story

When Last We Flew - Harrison David Rivers
My Name Is Ruth - Stephen W. Baldwin
Getting Even with Shakespeare - Matt Saldarelli
Hearts Full of Blood - James Asmus

Music & Lyrics:
Justin Moran & Christopher Pappas - Pope: The Musical
Jeff Bienstock - The Morning After/The Night Before
David Chesky - The Pig, the Farmer and the Artist

Dear Harvey
The Secretaries
The Timing of the Day

Lucy Cashion - AK-47 Singalong
Kym Gomes - By Hands Unknown
Josh Liveright - Alternative Methods
Divya Palat - A Personal War: Stories of the Mumbai Terror Attacks
Lillian Meredith - Hamlettes
James Presson - Richard 3

Faye Lane's Beauty Shop Stories
Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown
Driving the Saudis
Viva La Evolucion!
Scared Skinny

Trinayan Dance Theater - Swaha: Rituals of Union
Claire Porter/Portables - Namely, Muscles

Unique Theatrical Event:
Daddy Day
Cloud to Ground

TheaterMania Audience Favorite Award (selected through public balloting):
Viva Los Bastarditos!

In 1997, New York City became the seventh US city to host a fringe
festival, joining Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston,
Orlando and San Francisco. In its first 14 years FringeNYC has
presented over 2500 performing groups from the U.K., Canada, Poland,
Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Germany, the Czech Republic and across the
U.S., prompting Switzerland’s national daily, The New Zurich Zeitung,
to declare, “FringeNYC has become the premiere meeting ground for
alternative artists.” The festival has also been the launching pad for
numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown
hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Matt &
, Never Swim Alone, Debbie Does Dallas, Dog Sees God, 21 Dog Years, Krapp 39, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, Silence! The Musical, The Irish
, 666, Tales from the Tunnel and Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party and as well as movies (WTC View) and even a TV show (‘da Kink in My Hair). FringeNYC is a production of The Present Company, under the
leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy.

The 15th Annual New York International Fringe Festival will run August 12 - 28, 2011 and will once again feature nearly 200 of the worlds best emerging theater and dance artists. Applications for the 2011 festival will be available online in November; completed applications are due February 14, 2011. For more information visit www.FringeNYC.org

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review: Shine: A Burlesque Musical (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Rebecca N. Robertson
Photos by Frank Roberts

I am relieved to report that Shine is not a homogenized musical 'about' burlesque and, unlike what appears to be a modern trend, it is certainly not a strip show excusing its lack of skill by calling itself 'burlesque'. Internationally touring music duo The Wet Spots have spawned a genuinely bawdy musical that triumphantly succeeds in hailing free expression of sexuality and embracing of individuality, while dazzling the audience with the talent of its artists.

The premise of the show is The Aristocrat, a fictional burlesque house circa 1930's that is struggling to make the rent in NYC's rapidly gentrifying Bowery district between the Whole Foods Market and a Starbucks. Enter Richard Suit (Douglas Crawford) to save the historic hall and its burlesque show, but at the expense of its soul, imposing sterile mainstream sexual ideals on the untraditional cast of characters.

Adopting the structure of a great backstage musical, Shine's song and dance numbers are willfully entertaining, furthering the action with clever lyrics and illustrating the finer points of the dialogue with upbeat mischief. The original music explores various genres from rock to cabaret vaudeville, while remaining cohesive in style, offering singable melodies and toe-tapping grooves. Highlighting the youthful limberness of the chorus, the choreography keeps energy high and supports the folly of the club atmosphere, especially effective in the plot background number "Perversions of Yesteryear". In a such song heavy production, a few of the numbers that seem to exist for the sake illustrating argument, such as "Girls Gone Wild" and "Breezy Broadway Love Song" may be unnecessarily long, thanks to straightforward presentation that quickly drives the ideas home.

The ladies of Shine dominate the stage. As theatre owner Shine Mionne, Cass King's self-empowered stage presence leads this fast paced exhibition of campy humor, catchy songs and passionate ideals. New to burlesque Adra Boo Green portrays The Aristocrat's unconventional leading lady Lulu Von Doozy with growing confidence in numbers like "Large and in Charge", winning hearts and much deserved audience exultation. Gemma Isaac exudes sexy innocence as the starry eyed ingenue, seducing us into following her as she discovers the landscape of this underground performance culture and her own developing desires. The ensemble is energetic eye-candy, though undermatured characterizations unfortunately weaken the dramatic effectiveness of the chorus numbers. Amid infrequent rough spots such as these, the show shines with higher production potential and begs to be seen, more, more!

There are few moments that fail to win empathy, such as a number devoted to a performer's complaints that he might have to "get a day job" to make ends meet while he pursues his dreams, but this is NYC, after all. However, the great majority of the idealistic message is intellectually convincing and presents the modern existence of burlesque as rebellious movement toward self-acceptance and a revival of consensual sexual exploration beyond exploitation of stereotype. Like great sex, comedy though titillation of intellect may be at the core of Shine, but it quite simply feels like fun!

Shine: A Burlesque Musical
Book by Cass King, John Woods, and Sam Dulmage
Music and Lyrics: The Wet Spots (Cass King / John Woods); song "The Nasty" contributed by Mark Growden
Director: Roger Benington
Choreographer: Inga Ingenue
Assistant Choreographer: Roxie Moxie
Stage Manager: Andrea Hager
Assitant/Rehearsal Stage Manager: Oren Ashkenazi
Set Design: Roger Benington
Lighting Designer: Andy Smith
Sound Engineer: Dave Horowitz
Costume Designers: Daniel Webster, and Cast
Publicist: Juli-Ann WIlliams

Featuring: Anna Allen, Cass King, Adra Boo Green, Roxie Moxie, The Luminous Pariah, Jesse Belle Jones, Melissa Bayern, Paris Original, Trojan Original, Gemma Isaac, Scott W. Abernathy, John Woods, Captain Jakalof, and Douglas Crawford

Venue #7: The Ellen Stewert Theatre @ LA MAMA

Fri 13 @ 8:15
Sat 14 @ NOON
Mon 23 @ 8:45
Thu 26 @ 2
Sat 28 @ 2

Review - The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve (Wings Theatre and Zephyer Rep)

By Byrne Harrison

Blake Bradford's latest play, The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve, currently in production at Wings Theatre has its share of comic moments. The play follows Tony (Matt Klane) and Steve (K.B. Thomas) on what would have been their honeymoon. Due to Tony's substance abuse issues, Steve called off the wedding and had Tony sent to rehab. Since the honeymoon was already set, Steve and his best friend Rachel (Madeline Reed) have come to Lindy Loo's Hideaway in the Bahamas for some rest away from all the drama. Unfortunately, Tony, fresh out of rehab, has had the same idea, and has brought his nephew Bobby (Jake Zachry) along. As often happens in comedies, the two former lovers find themselves next door to each other. This works out well for Rachel and Bobby, who embark on a steamy affair. It doesn't quite work out so well for Tony and Steve.

Bradford's play feels a lot like a sitcom, albeit a long one, which has both good and bad aspects. On the good side, it tends to move at a quick pace, and thanks to some good comic work by several of the actors (Madeline Reed and Carol Neiman in particular) and director Kymm Zuckert it maintains a light, breezy feel. On the negative side, it feels long and a bit rehashed. In fact, one scene between Steve and his mother (Susan Kirby), in which his mother confesses to Steve about one of her youthful dalliances, is straight out of an episode of "The Golden Girls." Other portions of the play seem to beg for a laugh track, and indeed in some places the actors seem to be holding for laughs, just in case.

Bradford is a good dialogue writer, and the weaknesses in the script primarily come from allowing it to become a bit bloated and trying to stick too close to a sitcom format. When he allows moments of pure theatricality, the play shines. One of the best examples of this is early in the play when Lindy Loo (Linda Hill) and her Cowgirlettes (Katharine McKenzie, Zade O'Blenes, Drina Seay) provide a running musical commentary about the shenanigans going on between Tony, Steve, Rachel and Bobby. Unrealistic and hilarious, it is one of the funniest moments of the play because it is so surprisingly fresh. By ditching the safe sitcom style and bringing in more scenes like this, Tony and Steve could be a much stronger show.

Acting in Tony and Steve is a mixed bag. Leads K.B. Thomas and Matt Klane are both strong in the quieter moments between their characters. Thomas has a tendency to play his comedy very broadly, which often puts him at odds with the rest of the actors in the scene. Madeline Reed is terrific as the supportive and put-upon Rachel, and her scenes where she cuts loose with the much younger Bobby are outstanding. Reed and Zachry play well off one another, and they often steal the scene even if they are doing nothing more than frantically making out.

The characters of the Cowgirlettes, Lindy Loo's trio of wayward girls, are sadly underutilized. Doing little more than glaring and lipsynching, the Cowgirlettes' comic potential remains largely untapped. Zade O'Blenes' choreography for the girls is strong, however, and shows that they can move. I would have liked to have seen more done with them and Lindy Loo.

Overall, The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve has its moments, but isn't quite up to the task of keeping an audience entertained for the full running time. Judicious editing, keeping a firm hand on the mugging, and playing up the theatrical and farcical aspects of the script while downplaying the sitcom feel would help pull the show together nicely.

The Unfortunate Honeymoon of Tony and Steve
By Blake Bradford
Special material by Linda Hill, Matt Klane and Kymm Zuckert
Directed by Kymm Zuckert
Scenic Design: Matt Klane
Stage Manager: Emily Rolston
Costume Design: Linda Hill
Choregrapher: Madeline Reed
Cowgirlettes Choreographer: Zade O'Blenes
Associate Producer: Eli Walker Palzkill
Zephyer Rep Producer: Karen Brelsford
Casting Director: Gretchen Ferris
Resident Director: Dana Dobreva
Directing Intern: Nicole Gehring
Production Management Intern: Chie Morita
Acting Intern: Allie Rightmeyer
Design Intern: Anastacia Spada
Directing Intern: Abigail Strange

Featuring: Linda Hill (Lindy Loo), K.B. Thomas (Steve), Madeline Reed (Rachel), Jake Zachry (Bobby), Matt Klane (Tony), Carol Neiman (Grammy Jean), Susan Kirby (Donna Ann), Katharine McKenzie (Cowgirlette), Zade O'Blenes (Cowgirlette), Drina Seay (Cowgirlette)

Wings Theatre
154 Christopher Street

August 5th-29th

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review - Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison
Photograph by Streeter Phillips

A musical version of "Jurassic Park" told from the dinosaurs' point of view. I'll admit when I decided to review this, it was with the same sense of creepy fascination that one experiences when watching the aftermath of a car crash. I pictured a pretentious "concept" musical, full of young, eager actors ready to show off what they had learned perfecting their craft through those four long years as undergrads.

Holy crap, was I wrong about that.

Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical is pretty damn brilliant.

To say that the musical tells the story of "Jurassic Park" is a bit of an overstatement. In fact, it takes a small plot point from the movie, the fact that some of the dinosaurs were able to turn male thanks to the addition of frog DNA to fill in the blanks in the dinosaur DNA, and expands that into a meta-musical that touches on faith vs. science, gender roles, love, betrayal, finding a home, and the enduring, almost mythic appeal of Morgan Freeman.

Velociraptor of Faith (John Jeffrey Martin) is the leader of a happy band of female dinosaurs. Happy, that is until T-Rex 2 (Natalie Bradshaw) suddenly grows a penis. Confused and questioning their faith in The Lab that made them, the dinosaurs send Baby Velociraptor (Brandon Gill) to reach out to the Velociraptor of Science (the hilarious Mary Ellen Ashley), the exiled twin sister of the Velociraptor of Faith to tell them what is happening. Along the way, Morgan Freeman (Lee Seymour) says lots of profound, and wildly amusing stuff (his rumination on the word "catastrophe" is brilliant).

The writers of Jurassic Parq have created a wildly irreverant musical that will appeal to an audience weaned on the satire of "South Park," "Family Guy" and the like. Director Marshall Pailet crafts a tight, sharp production (slightly over an hour long). Music director (and Pianosaurus) Jonathan Breit does an amazing job, as does choreographer Kyle Mullins, who has created some great numbers.

Acting is uniformly strong, with particular praise going to Ashley, Bradshaw, Seymour and Martin. And though he didn't say much, Brandon Espinoza repeatedly stole scenes as Mime-o-saurus, a rather brilliantly written role.

The last performance of Jurassic Parq is today, but I imagine this is not the last we'll see of this show.

Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical
Written by Emma Barash, Bryce Norbitz, Marshall Pailet, Stephen Wargo
Directed by Marshall Pailet
Producer: Bryce Norbitz
Choreographer: Kyle Mullins
Stage Manager: Ashley Rodbro
Music Director: Jonathan Breit
Costume Designer: Bronwyn Meehan
Lighting Designer: Dante Smith
Set Designer: Caite Hevner
Technical Director: Rahel Biru
Assistant Director: Maggie Burrows
Assistant Stage Manager: Elaina Kwartler
Associate Set Designer: Alyssa Dillon
Press Agent: Drew Fornarola
Print and Graphic Design: Casey Ford Alexander/Alexander Arte
Press Photographer: Streeter Phillips
Marketing Assistant: Anna Perczak
Fashion Police: Hayley Podshun
Dino-Interns: Eddie Pailet, Annie Norbitz

Featuring: Mary Ellen Ashley (Velociraptor of Science), Natalie Bradshaw (T-Rex 2), Jonathan Breit (Pianosaurus), Denise Dumper (Chorusasaurus), Brandon Espinoza (Mime-a-saurus), Jay Frisby (Dilophosaurus), Brandon Gill (Baby Velociraptor), Olli Haaskivi (Chorusasaurus), Emily Jenda (Chorusasaurus), John Jeffrey Martin (Velociraptor of Faith), Cara Massey (Chorusasaurus), Tara Novie (T-Rex 1), Lee Seymour (Morgan Freeman)

VENUE #7: The Ellen Stewart Theatre @ LA MAMA

Fri 20 @ 7
Sat 21 @ NOON
Sun 22 @ 6:15
Wed 25 @ 7:45
Fri 27 @ 4

Auditions - Prom Night of the Living Dead

AG Theatrical Productions is now casting for Prom Night of The Living Dead, an immersive, interactive theatre experience, fusing together the awkward excitement of adolescence and the raw horror of the living dead —think George Romero meets John Hughes. Rehearsals start the week of Sept.13. Performances are in the third week of October at The Players Theatre.

Seeking— Joe Cooper: young looking 20s-30s, high school quarterback, an arrogant, fit alpha male, LEAD; Barbra Pearl: young looking 20s-30s, head cheerleader, charismatic, somewhat ditzy, likeable princess, LEAD; Gary Benford; young looking 20s-30s, head of science club, smart, geeky underdog; Wolf; young looking 20s-30s, rebel hooligan, always at odds with authority, unpredictable, sarcastic outcast, LEAD; Principal Geraldine Thorkelson; 40s-60s, by-the-book chaperone with no tolerance for troublemakers and a weakness for booze, LEAD; Michael; young looking 20s-30s, Joe’s go-to guy, and the first to turn into a zombie, supporting role; Spike; young looking 20s-30s, Wolf’s rebel buddy, trickster and valiant zombie fighter, supporting role; Supporting Princess, Jock, Geek, and Hipster (Rebel) roles: Males and Females: young looking 20s-30s, any ethnicity, some will double as zombies; Zombies: any age, any ethnicity, actors solely playing zombies will have more limited rehearsal commitment

Auditions will be held by appointment on September 11th and 12th (morning/afternoon) at our rehearsal space in Brooklyn. To schedule an audition appt, send headshot, resume, and audition availability by Sept.5 to agtheatrical@gmail.com. Non-union. Non-pay.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review - The Twentieth-Century Way (The Theatre @ Boston Court and New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison
Photos by Ed Krieger

The story that inspired Tom Jacobson to write The Twentieth Century Way is intriguing in and of itself. In 1914, in order to cut down on the vice of oral sodomy, the Long Beach Police Department hired two actors, Warren and Brown, to entrap and arrest men in public bathrooms, changing rooms of bathhouses, and private clubs - wherever men "given to that sort of thing" congregate. The story of the men they target and how they arrest them is interesting enough to put on stage as is.

Jacobson, however, has created an intriguing play within a play within a play that incorporates Warren and Brown's story, then transcends it. The Twentieth-Century Way begins with two actors Warren (Robert Mammana) and Brown (Will Bradley) vying for a role as a confidence man in a movie. While they wait for their auditions, the two probe and challenge each other, trying to psyche the other out in a display of alpha male one-upmanship. This leads into a challenge: using their improv skills, Warren and Brown will act out a story about two actors hired to entrap homosexuals in 1914. The first person to fail has to drop out of the audition. The two men jump from role to role - actors, police, newspaper editors, victims - telling Warren and Brown's story, and constantly daring each other to go further. As the story careens forward, taking on a life of it's own, the two actors begin to lose themselves, forcing them to finally strip off the characters, the pretense of their acting and storytelling, and fianlly be themselves.

Bradley and Mammana are spectacular in their numerous roles. Although much of the play is humorous, director Michael Michetti keeps the production charged with a certain amount of menace and eroticism. The Twentieth-Century Way is also a technically well-produced play. Garry Lennon's costumes and Nick Santiago's props are excellent - set backstage at a theatre, the actors are constantly pulling costume pieces and props from various trunks and wardrobes and incorporating them into their "improv." Lighting designer Elizabeth Harper also does a terrific job helping set the mood of the scenes.

A fascinating play, excellent cast and superior production values make The Twentieth-Century one of the best shows in Fringe NYC 2010. The Theatre @ Boston Court is to be commended for bringing this challenging and entertaining play to life.

The Twentieth-Century Way
The Theatre @ Boston Court
Writer: Tom Jacobson
Director: Michael Michetti
Properties Design: Nick Santiago
Lighting Design: Elizabeth Harper
Costume Design: Garry Lennon
Dialect Coach: Tracy Winters
Assistant Director: Sabina Ptasznik
Production Stage Manager: Meg Friedman
Casting Director: Michael Donovan, CSA
Key Art: Christopher Komuro
General Press Representative: O+M Co./Rick Maramontez, Jaron Caldwell

Featuring: Will Bradley and Robert Mammana

VENUE #10: Players Theatre

Sat 14 @ 7:30
Mon 16 @ 5:15
Wed 18 @ 8:45
Sat 21 @ 12:15
Tue 24 @ 4:15

Adopt-A-Home And Help Bring A Play To The Stage

By Byrne Harrison

Rather than the typical appeal for donations, Maieutic Theatre Works is offering a chance to "adopt" a cast or crew member from its upcoming production of Cody Daigle's A Home Across the Ocean running Thursday, September 16th through Saturday, October 2nd. In addition to a cool certificate of adoption and mention on their website, anyone adopting one of the MTW adoptees will get two tickets to see the show.

MTW will be updating their adoption page frequently, but current participants up for adoption include:

ALEX BOND (playing "Grethe")
When Ms Bond is not on stage performing in shows like Off-B'way's Flamingo Court & MTWorks' Barrier Island, she's spreading tolerance one reading at a time with her book "Late Nights With The Boys: confessions of a leather bar chanteuse."

RACHEL DOZIER-EZELL (Costume Designer)
Not only is Rachel designing for the top theatre companies in New York City, like Milk Can Theatre Company, she is also the costume director for The New School for Drama.

DAN GALLAGHER (Lighting Designer)
He's quite the MTWorker, having designed our productions of Anaïs Nin Goes To Hell at the Connelly Theatre, The Oath at the Arclight Theatre, Look After You at the SoHo Playhouse, and Barrier Island at Center Stage NY.

An associate producer of the recent revival of Miracle Worker at Circle in the Square, you might have adopted her as a sound designer in the past, but this season she's doing the real dirty work, producing!

The Spiritual Warrior of the bunch, when he's not trying to get you to come to the show, he's out playing his Lakota drum or Tibetan bowl. Oh yeah, he wanted to make sure you've bought your tickets!

She started collaborating with us during Look After You at FringeNYC, and we've never let go! she's making a heart shape with her hands, but she really wears it on her sleeve.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review - Monetizing Emma (Thackery Walsh LLC and New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Shauna Horn

Emma (Nitya Vidyasagar) is a brilliant, though introverted high school student, enraptured by Jane Austen and tormented by her classmates. Invited to participate in a new type of financial bond, a "genius trust" that trades in students' future earnings, she finds herself thrust into the spotlight. Will this bookworm be able to adapt to the big time? Or will she find out that everything around her is just smoke and mirrors?

Monetizing Emma is a satisfying, well-paced show, full of humor and teenage angst. Nitya Vidyasagar is excellent as the awkward Emma, as is James Arden as Tony, the charming banker who makes her the face of the genius trust. Director Leah Bonvissuto does an outstanding job with the pacing and in finding the humor in every scene.

Having already produced Monetizing Emma at last year's Planet Connections Festival (see review here), it's no surprise that this is a strong, polished production. With good technical work, solid acting, and well-written story, Monetizing Emma is an excellent choice for a night out at Fringe.

Monetizing Emma
Written by Felipe Ossa
Directed by Leah Bonvissuto
Assistant Director: Shauna Horn
Scenic Designer: jasmine Vogue Pai
Lighting Designer: Lauren Parrish
Costume Designer: Mira Veikley
Production Stage Manager: Carly Levin
Associate Producer: Sergei Burbank

Featuring: James Arden (Tony), Dawn Jamieson (Caroline), Janice Mann (Colleen), Daniella Rabbani (Vanessa), Tovah Rose (Annie), Nitya Vidyasagar (Emma)

VENUE #17: HERE Arts Center- Mainstage Theater

Sat 14 @ 9:45
Tue 17 @ 3:45
Thu 19 @ 8
Sun 22 @ 2:30
Wed 25 @ 9:45

Review - Missionary Position (Geveryman Productions and the New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Dorothy Shi

As part of Fringe NYC, Steven Fales brings the latest chapter in his Mormon Boy Trilogy to the stage. Despite his best intentions, Missionary Position, does not deliver.

I have to confess that it's a little hard to write a review of this play, since I was unable to see the entire performance. The evening I saw him perform, Fales was cut off before completing the play because he had gone over his allotted time. But this is indicative of the main problem with this production.

Fales is a pleasant, though somewhat conventional actor with good looks and a lovely singing voice. His story, dealing with his two years spent as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and his struggles with homosexuality while on that trip, is not one that is by any means common fare on stage. He is personable and friendly. He is not, however, a director, and Missionary Position needs someone with an iron grip to make it work.

With a director in place to work with the pacing and to cut some of the stage business and more overwrought scenes (particularly a big pirate fantasy sequence), Fales would be allowed more time to concentrate on his performance. Several times in the play, Fales bobbles his lines and seems to lose his way. More importantly for a solo show, he lacks the sense of spontaneity that forges the bond between an actor and his audience. We all want to succumb to the illusion that we are the first people to hear this particular story, that Fales is letting us all in on a little secret. Here he doesn't act so much as perform, and this performance creates a distance that keeps us from truly empathizing with his struggles.

There is a lot in Fales' play that is unique and interesting, but this production is not the best opportunity to experience Missionary Position.

Missionary Position
Written, Performed and Produced by Steven Fales
Stage Managers: Sean Lambert, Alex Mark

VENUE #16: The SoHo Playhouse

Sat 14 @ 7:45
Fri 20 @ 2
Sun 22 @ NOON
Tue 24 @ 10
Fri 27 @ 6

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review - Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison
Photos by Brandon Kaiser

Miss Magnolia Beatrice Deveraux Beaumont is nothing if not proper. She is, after all, a debutante. Imagine her surprise at finding herself, after her untimely death on the cusp of the Civil War, not in heaven as she expected, but an unwilling passenger in the body of a gay man living in Manhattan in the 21st century. It's enough to make a lady clutch her pearls and reach for the smelling salts.

In Joe Hutchenson's charming one-man play, the audience follows Miss Beaumont and her host, Joe, on his birthday vacation to Provincetown. He sees this vacation as a chance to connect with someone, perhaps even to find some happiness that has been missing in his life.

Miss Magnolia doesn't know why she's been placed in this body, but she voraciously consumes every morsel of Joe's completely alien lifestyle. As she starts to experience Joe's senses and is eventually able to communicate with him, she discovers that it's never too late to live a useful life.

Hutchenson is an excellent actor. His Miss Magnolia is sweet as honey and as proper as a lady can be (she's even working on an etiquette book). That she never strays into camp says a lot about his ability as an actor and his empathy for this character. Miss Magnolia is not to be ridiculed, nor is she merely a comic means to an end. Joe, also, is a fully fleshed out character - a gay man, alone on his birthday and recognizing the writing on the wall as his youth starts to fade. He's a man in need of support, even if it is of the supernatural kind.

In addition to being an effective actor, Hutchenson is a marvelous storyteller. Miss Magnolia's description of her first few moments in Provincetown transported me to the place. I could picture the streets and the crowds, smell the food and the sea air. With few props and set pieces, Hutchenson himself becomes the ultimate set designer, inviting the audience to see through his (and Miss Magnolia's eyes).

Under the able direction of Cheryl King, and with support from Ellen Rosenberg's strong lighting and sound, Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown is an outstanding production.

Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown
Cheryl King Productions
Writer: Joe Hutcheson
Director: Cheryl King

VENUE #15: The Studio @ Cherry Lane Theatre

Sat 14 @ 3:45
Tue 17 @ 9
Fri 20 @ 9:15
Tue 24 @ 5:45
Thu 26 @ 2:45

This Month's Title Photo

By Byrne Harrison

Since I've never been able to decide on an official look for StageBuzz.com, I've decided to start using production photos in the title block. The current photo, which will be up through September, comes courtesy of the New York Neo-Futurists and is from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, their twice-weekly showcase of short plays at the Kraine Theater.

The photo is by J.M. Pixley.

To find out more about the New York Neo-Futurists, please visit their website, then head downtown and see a show.

To submit a photo for consideration, please contact me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Midtown International Theatre Festival Announces Nominees for MITF Awards

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) has announced the nominees for the MITF Eleventh Annual Season Awards. The ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 8pm at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th Street. Tickets are $20 ($15 if booked before 8/30) and are available now at www.midtownfestival.org or by phone at 866-811-4111.

The 2010 MITF Award Nominees are:

Outstanding Production of a Play
Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke?
In Our Own Image
The Starship Astrov
The Tragedie of Cardenio

Outstanding Production of a Musical
10 Reasons I Won't Go Home with You
Civil War Voices
Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical

Outstanding Production of a Special Event
Alice & Elizabeth's One Woman Show
Asian Belle
Love, Humiliation & Karaoke
Tallish Tales

Outstanding Playwriting for a New Script
Alice & Elizabeth's One Woman Show by Alice Barden
Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke? By Amy Holson-Schwartz
Gray Matters by Jacques Lamarre
Screenplay by Scott Brooks
The Starship Astrov by Duncan Pflaster

Outstanding Music & Lyrics
Bobby Cronin, Jason Purdy, Andrew Byrne, Blake Hackler, Steven Silverstein,
Alan Bukowiecki & Phillip Chernyak for 10 Reasons I Won't Go Home with You
Mark Hayes for Civil War Voices
Victor Lesniewski for Conspiracy: A Love Story
Christopher Massimine for Lovers
Michael Tester for Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical

Outstanding Direction
Dennis Courtney for Civil War Voices
Abbe Gail Cross for Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical
Jenny Greeman for Screenplay
Mike Hayhurst for The King of Bohemia
Eric Parness for The Starship Astrov
Paula Riley for Literary Disruption

Outstanding Costume Design
Janell Berte for Civil War Voices
broadwayclubhouse.com for Most Likely To
Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke?
Marc Caswell for Colored People's Time
Mark Richard Caswell for The Starship Astrov
Amy Kitzhaber for Tallish Tales

Outstanding Sound Design
Todd Ackerman for Love Me Tinder
Benjamin Furiga & Nathan Manley for Tallish Tales
Love, Humiliation & Karaoke
Nick Moore for The Starship Astrov
Nicholas Pacifico for The King of Bohemia
Michelangelo Sosnowitz for Peking Roulette

Outstanding Scenic Design
Darby Cire for The Starship Astrov
Steven Octavius Hill for Literary Disruption
Dan Koch for Never Norman Rockwell
Randall Parsons for Colored People's Time
Christine Peters for Tallish Tales

Outstanding Lighting Design
Isabella F. Byrd for The Starship Astrov
Jon Capozzoli for Gray Matters
Jake DeGroot for The Gospel According to Josh
Patricia R. Floyd for ResurGENTS
Yuriy Nayer for Colored People's Time
Ian Wehrle for Screenplay

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Frankie Alvarez in The Tragedie of Cardenio
Walter Brandes in The Starship Astrov
Jason Liebman in Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke?
Jonathan Sale in Screenplay
Josh Sauerman in Prevailing Wins

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
Cindy Blevins in Love Me Tinder
Elizabeth Davis in The Starship Astrov
Olivia Horton in Literary Disruption
Catherine LeFrere in Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke?
Gabby Sherba in Merrily, Merrily, Merrily
April Woodall in Gray Matters

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical
Mark Cajigao in Conspiracy: A Love Story
Stephen Hope in Civil War Voices
Eddie Schnecker in Conspiracy: A Love Story
Ryan Stadler in 10 Reasons I Won't Go Home with You
Will Taylor in Lovers

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Amanda Castanos in Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical
Danielle Lee Greaves in Civil War Voices
Courtney Hammond in Lovers
Elaine Moran in Conspiracy: A Love Story
Kelly Nichols in 10 Reasons I Won't Go Home with You
Jesse Zeidman in Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical

Outstanding Performance by an Actor or Actress in a Special Event
Alice Barden in Alice & Elizabeth's One Woman Show
Daniel Damiano in The Hyenas Got It Down
Michelle Glick in Asian Belle
Enzo Lombard in Love, Humiliation & Karaoke
Joshua Rivedal in The Gospel According to Josh

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play or Musical
Scott Brooks in Screenplay
Craig Divino in The Tragedie of Cardenio
Arthur Marks in Civil War Voices
Stephen Trafton in Civil War Voices
Matt Welsh in In Our Own Image

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play or Musical
Heather Dilly in Screenplay
Jennifer Gawlik in The Starship Astrov
Kathryn Kates in Gray Matters
Sarah Sixt in Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical
Emily Soffe in Literary Disruption

Outstanding Ensemble Performance
All Folked Up
Civil War Voices
Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical
The Starship Astrov

Outstanding Choreography
Dennis Courtney for Civil War Voices
Abbe Gail Gross & Janice Aguilera for Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical
Jusin Williams for ResurGENTS

Outstanding Production of a Short Subject
All Folked Up
An Ode to the Washerman
Love Stinks
Searching for Soula
The Hyenas Got It Down
The Reunion Plays

Outstanding Reading
Becoming Kinky
Miss Pell is Missing
Soleda Red and Yellow

Outstanding Show Marketing & Advertising
Asian Belle
Civil War Voices
Gray Matters
Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical

MITF's awards will feature entertainment by 2010 Season shows, including scenes from Can I Really Date A Guy Who Wears A Yarmulke? and Screenplay; and musical numbers from Civil War Voices, Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical, and Ten Reasons I Won't Go Home With You, among others. There will be a cash bar. Audiences voted online for the Best of Fest and winners will be announced at the ceremony. One of the Best of the Fest voters will win tickets to The 39 Steps in a drawing held at the ceremony.

Neo-Futurists' Midnight Half-Streak Run

By Byrne Harrison
Photos courtesy of the New York Neo-Futurists

Want to see some photos from the NY Neo-Futurists' midnight streak through the East Village?

Of course you do!

Review - Hamlet Shut Up (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Rebecca N. Robertson
Photos by Chris Millar

I love Hamlet! And what I love even more than Shakespeare's tragedy about the moody prince is the plethora of theorizing, psychoanalysis, and heavily conceptualized retellings of the story both on stage and on film. In a similar veins of anti-purist experiments Reduced Shakespeare Company and Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet," Hamlet Shut Up seems to be an attempt to both cut to the chase and convey the most pertinent bits of one of the bard's most loved plays to a modern audience.

Using pop culture references in music, film, current events, and modern living (but no words!) our band of players entertains and delights us at a brisk comedic pace. Lines are drawn and crossed and ridiculum embraced. All the high and lows of the story are explored without tears or introspection while nodding along the way to the hypotheses touted by professor types and the players who have tread the boards of dramatized Denmark before from Olivier to Steve Martin's gravedigger scene in "L.A. Story."

This presentation will tickle anyone who is familiar with the play, and might be considered just goofing around by someone who managed to skip reading it in high school or seeing Mel Gibson's turn on the wronged prince. But those of us who love the play will anticipate the next scene and look forward to seeing what twisted pantomimed metaphor Hamlet Shut Up will employ. The show will definitely go there and take on that difficult subtext, translating even Freudian-named angst into adolescent embarrassment à la "American Pie." Judging from the reaction of the audience, the show is a hit. Friday night's performance received a standing ovation and excited laughter filled the air outside the theatre as patrons chatted about what they had just seen.

Hamlet Shut Up
Story by William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Jonas Oppenheim
Set & Lighting Design/Stage Manager: Heatherlynn Gonzales
Costume Design: Wesley Crain
Sound Design: Josh Senick
Fight Choreography: Laura Napoli
Prop Design: Matt Valle
Video Production Ben Rock

Featuring: Kimberly Atkinson, Jay Bogdanowitcsh, Tegan Ashton Cohan, Victor Isaac, Derek Mehn, Laura Napoli, Stephen Simon, Adina Valerio, Matt Valle, Colin Willkie

Venue #5: The First Floor Theatre @ LA MAMA

Sat 14 @ 8:30
Mon 16 @ 2:30
Wed 18 @ 9:45
Fri 20 @ 8:15
Sat 21 @ 2:30

Review - Questions My Mother Can't Answer (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Rebecca N. Robertson
Photo by David Flores

All soul-searching stories seem to begin with a wake-up call, and Andrea's number is dialed by a New York City taxi cab that slams into her body on an uptown street. A year and a half later, she survives to tell a story that she says is "part documentary theatre, part autobiographical, and part fictional." Seeking answers to her self-questioning, she interviews eight women who are all about her mother's age regarding marriage, motherhood and life choices. What she culls from these interviews is a cohesive presentation of unique philosophical value, a humorous narrative that can inspire tears and that possesses a kind of healing mojo.

Questions My Mother Can't Answer is a moving story and Andrea Caban's warm, humble presentation style and her tremendous skill with characterization make seeing this solo-performance feel like an intimate conversation. Without the use of props, costumes or lighting changes, Ms. Caban presents nine characters and herself, each with their own cadence, tone and physicalization and each imbued with an infectious spirit. This is an impressive presentation by a young actress and writer that we will undoubtedly see more of in the future.

Questions My Mother Can't Answer
Written & Performed by Andrea Caban
Directed by Rachel Eckerling
Sound Design Marcelo Añez
Lighting Design: Jason Byron Teague
Stage Manager: Danielle Buccino

Venue # 4: 4th Street Theatre

Sun 15 @ 10:15
Sun 22 @ 1:45
Tue 24 @ 2
Thu 26 @ 6:45
Fri 27 @ 9:15

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill, Kill, Kill! (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Rebecca N. Robertson
Photos by Alana Jacoby

I admit that I had no knowledge of the Japanese yakuza B-movie genre of film when I chose to see Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill! at the New York Fringe Festival on Wednesday night. Walking into a pre-show of actors and musician randomly suiting up, warming up, and casually cracking jokes on the stage did not mentally prepare me for what I saw once the show began. However, Brooklyn-based Depth Charge has created a work that stands on its own -- no love or knowledge of the film genre or of the film that inspired the show is necessary to fully enjoy this well-crafted romp in absurdist secret agent land.

Seijun Suzuki's "Branded to Kill" was critically bashed in the 1960's, later becoming a well-loved cult classic, and Butterfly's Writer/Director Patrick Harrison treats this, his inspiration, with same respect and admiration of a geeky kid emulating his favorite superhero for whom he surely knows absolutely everything about. But it seems his greatest achievement is in the direction of an excellent ensemble of actors. From meticulously presented fight scenes of expressionistic proportions to a mouthful of paper butterflies, the movement and imagery of the piece is superbly timed, keeping a fervent pace throughout gunfights, maintaining suspense during dialogue, and allowing the mind to settle into scenes of psychedelic interlude. Additionally, both Dave Harrington's live music and Nancy Kwon's original film projections are integral to the ensemble and serve as characters in the adventure, furthering the action and telling the story with as much skill and consistency as the seven actors onstage.

This is a must-see show in a must-do festival and, given the success stories of those smash hits that started out in these tiny village venues inhabited by the New York Fringe Festival in years past, I look forward to seeing what is in store for Depth Charge and Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill! in its production future.

Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill!
Written and Directed by Patrick Harrison
Music Composed and Performed by David Harrington
Video and Film Design by Nancy Kwon
Lighting Design: Alana Jacoby
Fight Choreography: Adam Scott Mazer
Puppetry Design: Jeff Wood

Featuring: Patrick Harrison, Margaret Odette Perkins, Adam Scott Mazer, Alexandra Hellquist, Andrew Krug, Gerrardo Macias, and Dan Rogers

Venue #5: First Floor Theater @ LA MAMA

Fri 13 @ 7
Sun 15 @ NOON
Mon 16 @ 8:30
Wed 18 @ 8
Thu 19 @ 2

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review - In Loco Parentis (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison

Carly (Kristin Katherine Shields) is a bright and vulnerable high school student who has suffered the loss of her mother. Mr. Browning (Desmond Dutcher) is her English teacher, a man with a sarcastic bent, but one who truly seems to care about reaching his students. When his class begins to study Hamlet, he sees his chance to engage Carly about her mother's death, something even her father (Marc Geller) has been unable to do.

But will his attempts to break through her reticence push her away for good or draw her too close?

Playwright Michael DeVito clearly draws on his experiences as an English teacher to create the well-written characters of Browning, Carly, and the slacker student, Ravi (Kareem M. Lucas). He has a good ear for dialogue and does an excellent job with the subtle shifts in power between the characters. Director Jonathan Warman keeps the production tight and interesting. But it is the work of lead actors Desmond Dutcher and Kristin Katherine Shields that keeps this play riveting. Dutcher is spot on as the slightly bored teacher who finds himself fascinated by and somewhat attracted to his smart, but damaged student. Shields as Carly shows impressive range as her character tentatively comes to grips with her mother's death and her feeligns about it. Dutcher excels in particular during the final scene of the play, a reunion between the now divorced Browning and the college-aged Carly. It's a scene that requires a great deal of vulnerability on Dutcher's part, and he handles it masterfully.

In Loco Parentis is a solid play, well-performed and directed, and one that should be on your Fringe viewing list.

In Loco Parentis
Written by Michael DeVito
Directed by Jonathan Warman
Lighting Designer: Yuriy Nayer
Scenic Designer: Maggie Pilat

Featuring: Desmond Dutcher (Mr. Browning), Marc Geller (Oliver), Kareen M. Lucas (Ravi), Kristin Katherine Shields (Carly Price)

VENUE #4: 4th Street Theatre

Sat 14 @ 7:45
Sun 15 @ 5:45
Fri 20 @ 4
Thu 26 @ 2
Sat 28 @ 2

Review - Trick Boxing (Sossy Mechanics and New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Ed Bock

Boxing is like dancing. Dancing is like falling in love. Falling in love is like boxing.

Or at least that's how things are in Sossy Mechanics' fun and charming Trick Boxing, currently at the Connelly Theater as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. If you like fancy footwork, in or out of the ring, this show is for you.

Set in the 1930s, Trick Boxing tells the story of a young apple seller, Daniel Danielovich, who falls under the sway of a charming, but greasy fight promoter, Bill Buck. Rechristened Dancin' Danny David, and with next to no experience under his belt, Daniel begins an improbable race to the championship. Along the way, he meets Bella, a young lady with a secret and a pair of gams built for dancing. But is Daniel's meteoric rise to the top based on skill and luck alone, or do Buck and his shady associate Tony have something more sinister in mind?

Created by Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan, Trick Boxing has been a festival favorite for nearly a decade, and it's easy to see why. Both are charming and adept performers. Sostek, who plays easily half a dozen characters during the show, is like quicksilver, flowing and changing seamlessly from one to the next. Even now, when remembering certain scenes, I can picture three actors on stage, when in fact, there was only him.

Not surprisingly, given the time they've had to work together on this project, Trick Boxing is a highly polished production. Since they've worked the festival circuit, Sostek and McClellan know to keep things simple. Costumes are evocative of the era, but Sostek doesn't change his from character to character - everything is done vocally and physically. Set and props are kept at a minimum, which leads to a taut, well-paced show with few interruptions. Most importatly, it creates a large, open playing space for the actors to utilize in their wonderful and exuberant dance numbers.

Choreographed dances, a fast paced story, boxing puppets (trust me, it works), rapid-fire dialogue, wonderful characters, a top-notch love story, and two terrific actors make Trick Boxing an absolute treat.

Trick Boxing
Written, Directed, Choreographed and Performed by Megan McClellan and Brian Sostek
Stage Managed by Michelle Cote

VENUE #2: Connelly Theater

Sun 15 @ 5:45
Wed 18 @ 8:45
Thu 19 @ 2:30
Sun 22 @ 4:15
Thu 26 @ 7:30

Review - A Separate Peace (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Michael C. Hughes

There are times when watching Brian Foyster, whose one-man version of John Knowles' A Separate Peace is currently playing in the New York International Fringe Festival, that I would swear I was watching two or more actors. It's not so much that Foyster spends the entire play jumping from character to character in such a way as to make the stage seem crowded. It's that he is an exceptional storyteller, capable of painting such a vivid picture with his words that the characters he's describing seem to be onstage with him, even when he's not playing them at that moment.

Foyster's adaptation is stripped down and spare. This is not to imply that the production is lacking in some way, however. He distills the important moments from the book, keeping the focus squarely on the complex relationship between Gene, the studious introvert, and his athletic, gregarious roommate, Finny. With minimal set pieces (a desk and chair, a bench, two suitcases) he creates the dorm, hospital, Finny's home, a bicycle, a beach, and most importantly the old tree from which they jump as members of the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session.

Foyster is precise, physical actor - a scene where Gene and Finny wrestle, which could have been slapstick in the wrong hands, shows his skill exceptionally well. Director Jason McConnell Buzas keeps the pacing tight and creates a nice tension throughout the play, no small feat in a one-man show. This is helped considerably by Foyster's well-written adaptation.

A Separate Peace was my first show in the 2010 Fringe. If it is indicative of the quality of this year's productions, it is going to be an amazing festival.

A Separate Peace
Based on the novel by John Knowles
Adapted and Performed by Brian Foyster
Directed by Jason McConnell Buzas
Lighting Designer: Grant Wilcoxen
Costume Designer: Sharon Lynch
Production State Manager: David A. Vandervliet
Assistant Lighting Desinger: John Wilder
Assistant Stage Manager: Megan Griffith

VENUE #2: Connelly Theater

Sun 15 @ 7:45
Wed 18 @ 6:45
Wed 25 @ 2
Fri 27 @ 4:45
Sat 28 @ 2:30

Friday, August 20, 2010

More Nearly Nekkid Neos

By Byrne Harrison

Has it been a year already? The New York Neo-Futurists are back with their flesh-filled version of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Billed as "30 Half-Nekkid Plays In 60 Half-Nekkid Minutes," this special half-naked version of the show features the Neo-Futurists' performing their award-winning blend of personal, political, hilarious and absurd short plays... just in a whole lot less clothing than normal. Featured Neos for the performances are Christopher Borg, Cara Francis, Ryan Good, Nicole Hill, Rob Neill, Joey Rizzolo and Lauren Sharpe.

Immediately after the first performance (Friday, August 20th), you can join the Neos as they half-streak New York City on a midnight run from the East River to the Hudson on 14th Street.

Audience members who join in on the half-nakedness receive a discount at the door.

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Half-Nekkid Plays In 60 Half-Nekkid Minutes
August 20 - 21, 2010 at 10:30 pm
The Kraine Theatre | 85 East 4th Street

Tickets are $10.00 plus the roll of a six-sided die ($11-$16) at the door.
Advance tickets are $16.00 and can be purchased online at www.nyneofuturists.org, or by calling 212-352-3101.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review - Triumph of Love and Macbeth (Redd Tale Theatre Company)

By Byrne Harrison
Photographs by Ben Strothmann/BenStrothmann.com

It's all about the witches.

"Well, sure," I can hear you say. "Of course Macbeth could be all about the witches, but there aren't any in Triumph of Love. It's a romantic comedy."

Au contraire, mon frère. This is not the Marivaux play you are familiar with. Or rather, it is, but it has been given the supernatural twist that is becoming Redd Tale Theatre Company's signature. While not everything that this spirited company tries out in this rep version of Macbeth and Triumph of Love works, their bold choices hit more often than they miss.

If you are planning to see both productions, and I would suggest you do since the design elements are tied together in such a way as to create two complementary shows, I would recommend seeing Triumph of Love first. It most clearly shows director Will LeVasseur's otherworldly concept, and makes it easier to follow some of those choices when they appear in Macbeth.

The original Marivaux play was a comedy following Leonide (Lynn Kenny), a princess and daughter of the recently deceased usurper of the throne. She finds out that the son of the real king still lives, the ward of the dour philosopher Hermocrate (Tom Cleary), who has taught him to hate all women, especially Leonide. Naturally, upon seeing the handsome young Agis (Brad Lewandowski), she falls in love, and sees a chance to make things right by marrying him and restoring him to the throne.

To accomplish this, she takes the rather roundabout way of dressing up as a young man and befriending Agis, in order to woo him later. Along the way, she seduces Hermocrate, who has figured out she is really a woman, and Hermocrate's sister, Leontine (Virginia Bartholomew), who hasn't. All in all, an improbable, but fun comedy where love triumphs over reason, and everyone is happy in the end... well, not Leontine and Hermocrate, who were completely bamboozled by Leonide, but they are meant to be ridiculed for having tried to turn their backs on love completely to begin with.

This, however, is now the play within the play that Le Vasseur has created. In his Triumph of Love, we find Leonide alone after a great plague. All of the people she knew, including her husband Agis, have died. In her desperation, she turns to a Witch (Rainbow Dickerson) to try to bring her husband back. She can only do this, says the Witch, by reliving the moment when she and Agis fell in love; then she will be judged to see if she is worthy to get him back. To make Leonide experience events again, the Witch brings the funerary statues of her former companions to life to act out the scenes. Leondie must participate, but cannot change events. Only at the end will it be decided if Agis can return to the land of the living.

While this does provide an interesting frame for the play, and plenty of supernatural bits for the company to play with, it puts a spectre of death over the whole play. Great stuff for Lynn Kenny, who gets to play a Leonide simultaneously in the first blush of love and carrying the knowledge of how that love will end, but it tends to undercut some of the broad comedy still residing in the play.

Kenny does a good job playing essentially three roles in one (a princess pretending to be a young woman pretending to be a young man), though I would have liked to have seen a little more masculinity in the young man. She is spot-on playing the young coquette when trying to seduce Hermocrate, and Tom Cleary is great as the sputtering philosopher forced to attend to his long suppressed libido. Though not onstage as much as the others, Virginia Bartholomew is outstanding as the spinster sister Leontine. Her comic timing and facial expressions - which quickly cycle between suspicion, hope, bemusement, longing and worry during her seduction by the disguised Leonide - remind me of a young Carol Burnett. I hope to see Bartholomew in some more comedies soon.

Brad Lewandowski is suitably handsome and naive as Leonide's quarry, Agis. His resistance to love and his overcoming of it are not quite as dramatic as those of Bartholomew's Leontine or Cleary's Hermocrate, both of whom are excellent at physicalizing their characters' confusion and reticence. Agis comes across more like an overeager puppy, happy to get a new treat. Some resistance to these unusual feelings, and if not caution, then a little fear at these overwhelming desires might have been a nice touch.

Rounding out the cast are the Witch, played with suitable otherworldliness by Rainbow Dickerson, and the three comic servants - wily Arelequin (Robert Dyckman), greedy Dimas (James Stewart), and earthy and sexy Corine (Cameran Hebb). The three comics provide plenty of humor, especially Dyckman with his nonstop energy, and Dickerson provides a truly transcendent ending to Le Vasseur's play.

Le Vasseur also gets set and costume credit for the show, and gives everything a classical feel. The set features three entrances - left, right and center - in the classic style, and a glowing Celtic triangle (which is clearly more appropriate for Macbeth, but still works nicely here). Since most of the actors are playing funerary statue versions of characters, everyone except Kenny and Dickerson are decked out in light grey togas. In fact, when these characters are not involved in a scene, these "statues" return to their plinths, and with a sigh, become statues again. It is a nice touch that is echoed by the three witches in Macbeth.

More like their statuary brethren than Dickerson's Witch, the three weird sisters of Macbeth (Jodi Mara, Merrie Jane Brackin and Mélissa Smith) are also clothed as statues, and return to a frozen state when not involved in a scene. This helps take care of the pesky stage directions which often require them to vanish into thin air - now they just become stone.

(Just to take a sci-fi geek break for a moment, if you've watched any of the recent Doctor Who series, imagine the witches as the Weeping Angels. It gives you a sense of what Le Vasseur has done.)

In addition to this neat trick, Le Vasseur's version of Macbeth gives the witches a lot more to do. They become central players - the killers of Banquo and Macduff's family, for instance - and ultimately are responsible, in a very hands on, for Macbeth's death.

I will admit to being something of a traditionalist. While I enjoy much of what Le Vasseur has done with the witches, I find their active participation in these scenes a bit difficult to swallow. It creates certain inconsistencies in the script - the scene where Macbeth suborns the murderers into killing Banquo, most notably - and makes me more aware of the script than of the performance.

Other than this and the oddly unnecessary choice of changing the sex of Duncan and Siward from male to female to suit the sex of the actor (Maria Silverman, who plays Duncan, Siward, Hecate and Lady Macduff has a strong presence and would have been more than up to the challenge of playing Duncan and Siward as male), Le Vasseur's lean version of Macbeth is well done. He has cut it to a quick 2 hours (purists will notice the bits and pieces that have been cut, others may not).

James Stewart's Macbeth is more thoughtful and less physical than is normally presented. This would be fine if there were more of a progression from balanced Thane of Glamis to wild and bloodthirsty King, but Stewart tends to keep his Macbeth more stoic - more brain, less brawn. That said, Stewart excels at the fight scenes, well choreographed by Mike Yahn, especially the final fight scene with Sam Laakso's Macduff. Virginia Bartholomew more than makes up for this low-key husband with her powerful Lady Macbeth. Her scenes are electric and she is a delight to watch.

The rest of the cast acquits themselves well, with strong performances by Maria Silverman, Morgan Auld, whose Porter gets to interact with the witches in an interesting staging choice by Le Vasseur, and Collin McConnell as the doomed Banquo.

While not at all an obvious choice to put in rep together, Le Vasseur and the Redd Tale Theatre Company take some exciting risks with Macbeth and Triumph of Love. This continues to be a company to watch, especially as they refine their creative vision and build their unique voice.

Triumph of Love
Adapted and Directed from Pierre de Marivaux by Will Le Vasseur
New Translation by Virginie Maries
Movement Choreography: James Dorfer
Set, Costume and Website Design: Will Le Vasseur
Stage Manager: Brittany Ray
Poster Design: Graeme Offord
Original Music: Robert Roxby
Production Photos: Ben Strothmann

Featuring: Virginia Bartholomew (Leontine), Tom Cleary (Hermocrate), Rainbow Dickerson (Witch), Robert Dyckman (Arlequin), Cameran Hebb (Corine), Lynn Kenny (Leonide), Brad Lewandowski (Agis), James Stewart (Dimas)

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Will Le Vasseur
Fight Choreography: Mike Yahn
Fight Choreography Assistant: Alec Barbour
Movement Choreography: Rebecca Smith-Millstein
Set, Costume and Website Design: Will Le Vasseur
Stage Manager: Brittany Ray
Poster Design: Graeme Offord
Original Music: Robert Roxby
Production Photos: Ben Strothmann

Featuring: Morgan Auld (Ross/Porter), Virginia Bartholomew (Lady Macbeth), Elyse Beyer (Sergeant/Seyton), Merrie Jane Brackin (Witch 2), Michael Komala (Donalbain/Fleance/Macduff's Son/Young Siward), Sam Laakso (Macduff), Brad Lewandowski (Malcolm), Jodi Mara (Witch 1), Collin McConnell (Banquo/Menteith), Jack Nicolaus (Lennox), Maria Silverman (Duncan/Hecate/Lady Macduff/Siward), Mélissa Smith (Witch 3), James Stewart (Macbeth)

Spoon Theatre
38 W. 38th Street, 5th Floor

August 5th - 28th
Visit Redd Tale's site for further information.