Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

By Byrne Harrison

As a thank you for all the people who have helped me with over the years - the theatre professionals who have let me interview them or review their work, the publicists who've let me know about upcoming "don't miss" shows, the people visiting my site, and my favorite theatre writers who inspire my writing and let me know about great shows that I might otherwise miss - I'm going to try something new this Thanksgiving.

Since my favorite part of having this website is getting to talk to other people who love theatre, I'm offering you a chance to be interviewed on Do you have a show coming up that you want to talk about? Are you a theatre fan who wants to describe the best play you've ever seen? Are you fresh off the bus and looking to get your name and face out there? Are you one of my many friends who is working in theatre and wants to share some practical advice with those people just starting out?

If so, let me know. Send me an e-mail with the subject line "Interview Me" and tell me a little bit about yourself. I'll send you five questions to answer. I'll begin posting these interview in December.

Thanks again for being part of I can't wait to talk theatre with you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interview With Peter Turo of All Fall Down

By Byrne Harrison

Peter Turo is the writer and director of All Fall Down, a new play, and Equity showcase, premiering November 30th at The Tank. All Fall Down is his first NYC production.

I understand All Fall Down is your first full-length play. What's your theatre background?

I’ve been acting for about 13 years; I started doing shows in high school and then continued in college. I’ve also done some community theater. In terms of writing, this is my first full-length work outside of something I had to write for school.

The play centers on a group of former friends and lovers who come together for the first time in years. Reunions are always fertile ground for drama. What inspired you to tell this story?

I’ve always been a fan of stories that take place all in one night, and I was feeling pretty inspired one night after re-reading Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. I developed the plot around the characters, so once their relationships were defined, I knew what was going to/had to happen. The original title was “Perspective” which is an idea I really wanted to be front and center with this show: how does the way you look at yourself conflict with how others look at you, and what do you do to resolve those conflicts?

Tell me a little bit about your collaborators on this project? How did you pull the cast and crew together?

I’m lucky enough to have worked with all of them before in some variety. The entire cast (and myself) went to Manhattanville College in Westchester and I’ve done at least one show with not only my actors but also my tech staff. They’re magicians, dancers, stage managers, retail workers, teachers, students… all people involved in some type of performance. And they’re great at it.

In addition to writing All Fall Down, you're directing this production. How has directing been?

It’s my first time, so definitely a challenge. It’s a learning experience—I talked to a few directors I know beforehand and tried to remember things directors I’ve worked with have done that I liked and things I didn’t like. I respect my actors and their choices, so we worked from there but there were definite moments where I went “no no no…do this instead…” You learn. Definitely a challenge, but I’ve had a lot of fun.

If you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

I hope you enjoy it? What I’d ask is to listen/watch closely—the story is told out of sequence, so following what plays out is pretty important. And also the “enjoying themselves” thing.

What's next for you after this production?

I’ll be trying to market All Fall Down to some other theaters and some festivals. I have a few more plays in my head, but I really want to see where this one can go first. This is most definitely not the last time this show will be presented.

All Fall Down opens November 30th at The Tank in NYC at 354 West 45th Street. It runs three performances - 11/30, 12/1, 12/2 at 9:30pm.

Interview With Lorna Littleway of the Juneteenth Legacy Theatre

By Byrne Harrison

After attending Juneteenth Blues Cabaret, I was interested in finding out more about the Juneteenth Legacy Theatre. I had an opportunity to speak with Lorna Littleway, Juneteenth Legacy's founder and producing director.

Tell me how Juneteenth Legacy Theatre came about.

I attended a summit, in 1999, on the state of black theater that was convened by August Wilson at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. At the time I was vice-president of Black Theatre Network, a service organization for theater academics, and I was teaching at the University of Louisville where I was co-Director of the African American Theatre Program. The conference identified needs of black theatre and number one was the development of black playwrights. It was noted that hardly any black theater companies had multiple stages and were in a position to develop emerging playwrights. I came away from the summit INSPIRED, not just by August’s words and the workshops, but also by the rural environment around Lebanon, NH. Fugitive slaves beating a path to Canada could have passed through that part of New Hampshire. Sharing thoughts over food and drink in a local tavern there was so MYSTICAL. I felt the ancestors encouraging me to DO SOMETHING. When I returned to Louisville, I vowed to start a black theater company there that focused on developing new works because the school program was mostly it for black theater in Louisville, Kentucky. So in December 1999 with a graduating senior, Kristi Papailler, I co-founded Juneteenth Legacy Theatre. In 2002, the company incorporated in NY State; and in 2005 in addition to producing in Louisville, started producing in the city - mostly at summer festivals like the NYCFringe and Midtown International Theater Festival. Three years ago we started producing at Nuyorican slowly expanding from one show a year to two, and in this our third year plan to produce our Juneteenth Festival of New Plays, which was a staple at Actors Theatre of Louisville for eleven years. Up until this past summer, we were producing in the two cities, Louisville and New York. But this season and for the foreseeable future, we are producing solely in NYC.

Having growing up in Texas myself, I'm familiar with Juneteenth and the celebrations that go along with it. Being a New York-based company, why did you decide to commemorate that event in your name?

I worked in radio news when I was a grad student at SMU in Dallas, Texas and heard about Juneteenth for the first time. I was very excited about the story of “delayed” emancipation being announced to slaves in Galveston 2 ½ years after the fact; and the image of their mass movement to Dallas to celebrate their freedom for ten days followed by an exodus north, east and west to inform other communities of slaves about their decreed freedom. Imagine the life change of being able to commune together, do whatever - talk and share freely among each other when previously your every move, thought and being was strictly dictated. Those moments of marveling were followed by disgust about yet another event in our American history being omitted in the classroom. So nearly 20 years later when I co-founded a theater company, the name Juneteenth was chosen to give wider play to that historic event because everyone inquires about the origin of the company’s name. The name Juneteenth also was chosen to underscore the universality of the African-American experience. And personally it has been very freeing as an artist to have and lead a theater company.

Tell me a little bit about your current show, Juneteenth Blues Cabaret.

We have been developing the play over seven years. Several actors, directors and designers have contributed to the process and there have been previous productions in Kentucky, Indiana and New York City. The songs have stayed the same, the text changes minimal to accommodate three-women and two-women/one man casts. With this production the score was changed and created by Music Director Ivan Thomas collaborating with “Blues Queen”, Jannie Jones. Can you believe Ivan was the original “Cool Dude”? With this production all the elements have come together – cast, composition, scenery, costumes, lights and venue! We’re working on posting “The Making of Juneteenth Blues Cabaret” on our website.

What drew you to these particular five singers (Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Lena Horne)?

They were my Mom’s favorites. She would play their records as she combed my hair at night before I would go to bed. I loved the stories the songs told. They were like mini plays. I would sneak and play them on Saturday mornings when my parents slept in. Also I grew up to Ethel Waters. I watched “Beulah” and saw her movie, “Pinky” as a kid. As described in the book, I too was disappointed by Ethel’s refusal to support the Civil Rights movement, unlike Lena Horne, who did. But I was not embarrassed by her show, “Beulah”. I thought it was great that a black actress starred in her own television show. Beulah was the brains and moral compass of that family.

If you could meet one of these blues divas in person, whom would you choose?

That’s a hard one, but if I must choose then it’s Dinah Washington. She was my Mom’s favorite. “Dinah Washington Sings Bessie Smith” was a cherished LP in our home. Her blues medley: The Blues Aint Nothing But a Woman Cryin For Her Man, Mean Ole Man’s World and Nobody Knows How I Feel This Morning is a three act play and Jannie delivers with such fervor

What's next for Juneteenth Legacy Theatre?

Our spring show, which opens March 31st, is an adaptation of scenes from three of Pearl Cleages’ plays, A Night With Pearl Cleage’s Women. The concept is similar to August Wilson’s Women which we produced last season and focused on 14 women from all ten of his plays. It’s a great way to introduce audiences to the body of a playwright’s work. Generally they are familiar with one or two, like Fences or Joe Turner’s Come and Gone for August, or Flying West for Pearl. One of the most satisfying comment from audiences, last year, was they didn’t know that August had written so many plays and that they now were interested in reading his plays because they had seen excerpts from all of them. Kind of how Juneteenth Blues Cabaret made you want to pull out your CDs and listen again to your collection of songs by Ethel Waters and Lena Horne. What I want to do is inspire people to stay connected to the black legacy in American culture.

Juneteenth Blues Cabaret

Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 E. 3rd Street

Thursday-Saturday at 7 PM, through November 19th
November 20th at 3 PM

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hardware Dreams Ticket Giveaway

By Byrne Harrison

Now that you know a little more about the people behind Modesto Lacén and Nueva Escena, Inc.'s production of Sunilda Caraballo's Hardware Dreams, how would you like a pair of free tickets to the production?

Courtesy of Kampfire PR and Marketing, I have a pair of tickets available to the Saturday, November 20th performance at 3 PM, and to the Sunday, November 21st performance at 3 PM.

To enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets, leave a comment on this post with your name, e-mail address, and the performance you'd like to attend. Winners will be announced Wednesday.

Interview with Sunilda Caraballo and Joe Ricci of Hardware Dreams

By Byrne Harrison

Sunilda Caraballo is a native of Santurce, Puerto Rico. This multitalented performer, now a proud mother, began her career in the performing arts as a dancer. She started her training with Ballet Teatro Municipal de San Juan and later on with the School for the Performing Arts. Dance credits include: Ballet Hispanico, The Metropolitan Opera Ballet The Magic Flute directed by Julie Taymor, The New York City Opera La Traviata, Thomas/Ortiz Dance Company, Radio City Music Hall, MTVTr3s, Telemundo, Olga Tanon, Jerry Rivera, among others. Theatre credits: Off-Broadway and tour company of Celia, based on the life and music of Celia Cruz, where she got rave reviews for her multiple roles, including the role of Tia Ana; Repertorio Español and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. She has also performed her own writing material as a stand-up comedian at Carolines on Broadway, Nuyorican Poets Café, and the Triad Theatre. Her one-woman show Hardware Dreams, has had successful runs at the People Improve Theatre, La Tea’s One Festival, and the Midtown International Theatre Festival. Sunilda is the recipient of the 2009 NBC Improv Diversity Scholarship, as well as the 2009 and 2010 "Best Choreography” HOLA Award. She holds a B.A. in Communications, with a minor in theatre and dance from the University of Puerto Rico.

I'm always fascinated by people with a diverse training background. You've done dance, theatre and stand up. What is your favorite part of performing?

Sunilda: Being able to express my creativity with and without words it is truly a blessing. With dance as much as theatre and stand up the most rewarding thing is to see people react… with laughter, a tear or any other emotion.

Tell me a little about Hardware Dreams.

Sunilda: Hardware Dreams is a show full of comedy, dance and Latin flavor. The show tells the unique fun moments I had with my family while growing up, which sometimes made me feel a little “different” or even embarrassed, but as an adult and now as a mother, they are not only joyful but also the strength that allows me to keep pursuing my career in New York City. I’m not only sharing my family story, but my culture, my dreams and how I’m dealing with motherhood in such different and difficult times.

So it is based on your own life and experiences.

Sunilda: The stories are very personal and almost 99 percent of them are told word for word how they really happened, even though at times they might seem made up stories. I grew up in a family and a neighborhood full of very unique and eccentric characters, like for example, my dad, which besides working at the hardware store with my mom, the four kids and four dogs, was also a passionate inventor. He invented a wheelchair for my disabled dog and made news in Puerto Rico . He was so creative and outspoken that once, he picketed in front of our school because they were asking for too much money.

What made you decide to do a solo show?

Sunilda: It all started at an acting class I took 4 years ago, where I had to write a personal monologue as part of an exercise, and when I told the class my monologue they didn’t only laughed pretty loud about it, but they also couldn’t believe that it was true. Right then, I felt the need and responsibility of telling more of my story and make people laugh even harder at me and my family. And I also get to showcase all the different talents I have in my little “bag of tricks”, including my accent.

If you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

Sunilda: You will not only have a great time laughing , but also relate to my story by remembering all those fun moments you had with your family, the struggles we all go through to follow our dreams and goals and like my mom use to say “when life gives you lemons make lemonade”.

Any advice for people just starting out in theatre or dance?

Sunilda: Always keep that inner kid alive and don’t forget to have fun.

What's next for you after Hardware Dreams?

Sunilda: I can’t wait to see all the great projects that will come from this run of Hardware Dreams; who knows, maybe a TV show or a movie could be made about the show, it certainly has potential for it. I’m also finishing my studies in Improvisational comedy at the People Improv Theatre with a scholarship I won from NBC last year. But the biggest project I have ahead of me is raising my baby, and being the best mom I can be.

In addition to directing Hardware Dreams, Joe Ricci is the writer and co-host of the ongoing hit Vintage Variety at the Triad theatre. He is also in pre-production as the director of a new play, Anywhere, Anywhere, due to have its premiere in early 2011. He directed the critically acclaimed Tricia Brouk Dining Alone - an amazing experience where he not only had his first foray into directing a dance play, but he ended up marrying the star, Tricia Brouk. As an actor, Joe recently made his Broadway debut as Mike in the hit A View from the Bridge starring Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson. He spent a better part of the last 10 years in and out of the Off-Broadway hit, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

What attracted you to Hardware Dreams?

Joe: Having worked with Sunilda before as an Actor, I jumped at the chance to work with her again in any capacity. But, when I read the script, it was really her story that grabbed me… I got excited to help tell the story when I read it.

You've directed solo shows in the past. As a director, what are some of the pros and cons of this type of show?

Joe: The pros are that you are accomplishing something that is very difficult. Not many performers can pull this off. It requires a lot of stamina and focus and guts. So when you pull it off, it’s an incredible high. I spend a lot of time analyzing the script as the director. And when you’re working with an actor who is also the writer you have an incredibly collaborative experience. Sunilda has been great about working with me on the script. The con is that because there is only one person on stage, your focus is never off of them. There is never a moment when you can say, “Great, now work on that while I go over here and stage this other scene that you’re not in.”

Since you're both a director and an actor, you've seen the process from both sides. Do you find your acting experience informing your directing and vice versa?

Joe: I also write and everything influences everything. Each is influenced by the other. But there is always a need to translate depending on what you’re doing and who your audience is. I process a certain way as an actor, but that doesn’t mean someone I’m directing will work that way.

Any advice for young directors out there?

Joe: To quote Nike… Just Do It!

What's next for you after Hardware Dreams?

Joe: I am the writer and Co-Host of a show called Erotic Broadway-Vintage Variety. Currently, we’re performing it once a month at the triad theatre. It’s a very sexy show, with hot dancers and singers. I’m in pre-production for a play that I’m directing about two men who fall in love after leaving Vietnam. And just to round things out… I’m writing the book of a musical.

Hardware Dreams
By Sunilda Caraballo
Directed by Joe Ricci

November 18-21, 2010
Thursday and Friday 8 PM
Saturday and Sunday 3 PM and 8 PM

Theater for the New City
155 1st Ave,between 9th and 10th streets

Review - Juneteenth Blues Cabaret (Juneteenth Legacy Theatre)

By Byrne Harrison

Good cabaret will often send me home wanting to hear more music by the artists who were highlighted in the show. It is a credit to Juneteenth Blues Cabaret that following the Friday night performance, I spent two hours digging through my blues CDs to continue listening to the music of Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith, two of the blues divas featured in the show. Also featuring the work of Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Lena Horne, the cabaret is equal parts history lesson and entertainment, and it succeeds well on both fronts.

Part of Juneteenth Legacy Theatre's efforts to highlight the female African-American experience, the cabaret features five women who have had a profound effect on the development of the blues, and demonstrates the effect each of these singers had on the women who followed. With songs chosen by director Lorna Littleway that best illustrate both the talents and lives of the singers, Juneteenth Blues Cabaret features many well-known standards, including "Fine Fat Daddy," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Summertime," "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," and "Stormy Weather." Sung with nuance and power by Blues Queen (Jannie Jones) and her partner and foil Cool Dude (Jamil A.C. Mangan), and featuring music director Ivan Thomas, the show is a delight.

Jannie Jones does an excellent job channeling the styles and even the physicality of these five diverse singers. She has a strong, vibrant voice that is equally suited to the raucous numbers as it is to the quiet, sentimental ones. Jamil A.C. Mangan has a terrific onstage presence. Effortlessly changing from lothario to henpecked lover, he is the perfect foil or complement to Jones as each song requires. Though a confident performer who can handle both Littleway's dialogue and Robin Hemmings' choreography, he is a somewhat tentative singer. In some songs, this works perfectly, but in others, those where the Blues Queen needs a Cool Dude who is in every way her vocal equal, he falls a little short.

Overall, this is a strong cabaret piece, helped out immensely by the atmosphere provided by the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. It's an excellent space for this show, and one that can accommodate a decent-sized crowd.

If you are a fan of the blues or simply want to find out more about the remarkable women behind the songs, I highly recommend this cabaret.

Juneteenth Blues Cabaret
Book/Director: Lorna Littleway
Music Composition: Todd Hildreth
Music Director: Ivan Thomas
Choreographer: Robin Hemmings
Set/Props: Karen Leriche
Costume Designer: Ali Turns
Lighting Designer: Rome Neal
Dramaturg: Peach Pittinger
Publicis: Bunch of People
Casting: Lawrence Evans

Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 E. 3rd Street

Thursday-Saturday at 7 PM, through November 19th
November 20th at 3 PM

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review - MilkMilkLemonade (Astoria Performing Arts Center APAC)

By Byrne Harrison
Photos by Rhys Harper

Walking into the theatre at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, it would be easy to believe that MilkMilkLemonade is a children's show; one of the old school types with vibrant primary-colored sets, built by young students under the watchful eye of a couple of young theatre teachers. In fact, the opening scenes of the play featuring Nikole Beckwith's amusing Lady in a Leotard certainly reinforce that feeling. The Lady, who serves as the rather awkward narrator of the play, begins the show with an uncomfortable chorus of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. It is a very Vacation Bible School moment.

Playwright Joshua Conkel takes this format and turns it upside down by presenting the story of an effeminate young boy, Emory (Andy Phelan), his no-nonsense Nanna (Michael Cyril Creighton), the bully next door, Elliot (Jess Barbagallo), who is both repulsed by and attracted to Emory, and Linda (Jennifer Harder), a huge talking chicken with dreams of stardom and a knack for avoiding the processing machine. Facing head on the sort of topics that children's theatre would normally avoid, or worse, preach about - brutal death, sexual experimentation, bullying, homosexuality, and the comic stylings of Andrew Dice Clay - MilkMilkLemonade creates a world that lets adults remember the pain of childhood is a way that is so clearly artificial that it never allows pathos to slip in. The audience is removed enough to enjoy the humor, and it is a wildly amusing play, without feeling too badly for Emory, who is a remarkably well-adjusted and resilient boy.

The acting is outstanding across the board. In fact, this is one of the tightest ensembles I have seen in a while. It's helped no doubt by the fact that this is the same cast from the original production. They never strike a false note, and have a good sense of comic timing, letting the audience enjoy the laugh lines without moving on to quickly or waiting too long. Phelan and Barbagallo have excellent chemistry, in particular Barbagallo is outstanding dealing with Elliot's struggle between attraction and hatred. Harder and Beckwith shine in their roles. Their scenes in which the Lady in a Leotard translates Linda the chicken's speech are brilliant. Creighton is wonderful as the tough, doll-burning, chicken-killing matriarch.

Director Jose Zayas does an excellent job with this production, keeping his touch light and letting the script and actors shine. Other technical aspects are strong, especially Nicole Beerman's choreography and Sydney Maresca's costuming.

It's rare to see a production brought back to the stage as quickly as this one was (the original production was only last fall), but MilkMilkLemonade certainly earned another run. If you missed these two productions, keep your eyes open. I have no doubt we'll see more of this play, and certainly more of Joshua Conkel.

By Joshua Conkel
Director: Jose Zayas
Choreographer: Nicole Beerman
Set Design: Jason Simms
Costume Design: Sydney Maresca
Lighting Design: Bruce Steinberg
Sound Design: David Margolin Lawson
Press Representative: Katie Rosin/Kampfire Films PR
Associate Set Design: Caite Hevner
Production Manager: Annie Jacobs
Technical Director: Andrew T. Chandler
Production Stage Manager: Alex Mark
1st Assistant Stage Manager: Katy Moore
2nd Assistant Stage Manager: George Spencer
Master Electrician: Michael "PJ" Collins & Keith Schneider
Graphic Designer/Production Photographer: Kate Northern
Box Office Manager: Dave Charest
Lead Carpenters: Ashanti Coombs-Ziths & Matt Groeneveld
Build Crew: Mabel Bermejo, Patrick Cecala, Tom Cogan, Michael "PJ" Collins, Jonathan Gregg, Stephanie Halbedel, Sean Romano, Ashlee Springer

Featuring: Andy Phelan (Emory), Jess Barbagallo (Elliot), Michael Cyril Creighton (Nanna), Jennifer Harder (Linda), Nikole Beckwith (Lady in a Leotard)

Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
30-44 Crescent St, Astoria, NY

Closes Saturday, November 13

Visit APAC's website for details.

Anyone Up For a Trip to Saint Paul?

A Klingon Christmas Carol
November-December 2010: Landmark Center, Saint Paul, MN
Playwrights: Christopher O. Kidder & Sasha Walloch
Translated by: Laura Thurston, Bill Hedrick, and Christopher O. Kidder
Additional Content and Translation by: Chris Lipscombe
Lyrics to qu'wI' by: Terrence Donnelly

Scrooge has no honor, nor any courage. Can three ghosts help him to become the true warrior he ought to be in time to save Tiny Tim from a horrible fate? Performed in the Original Klingon with English Supertitles, and narrative analysis from The Vulcan Institute of Cultural Anthropology.

The Dickens classic tale of ghosts and redemption adapted to reflect the Warrior Code of Honor and then translated into tlhIngan Hol (That's the Klingon Language).

A co-production of Commedia Beauregard and the IKV RakeHell of the Klingon Assault Group.

This production of "A Klingon Christmas Carol" marks the fourth year of out-of-this-world holiday mayhem in the Twin Cities. The 12-show run will premiere on November 26, 2010 (Black Friday).

Visit the website for more details.

A Klingon Christmas Carol

Friday, November 12, 2010

Daniel Radcliffe Sings Tom Lehrer

A little something fun for those of you who like Tom Lehrer (or have seen Tom Foolery, the musical revue of his songs). Daniel Radcliffe sings Tom Lehrer's The Elements on The Graham Norton Show.

Interview with Seth Bisen-Hersh of BROADWAY CAN! A Concert for the Citymeals-on-Wheels and City Harvest

By Byrne Harrison

Seth Bisen-Hersh is a prolific and versatile New York City based musical theatre composer/ lyricist who works as a pianist, accompanist, musical director and vocal coach.

Bisen-Hersh made his professional cabaret debut at Don't Tell Mama with Two Singular Sensations, a battle of the ego through Broadway showtunes, co-starring Rori Nogee. Starting in 2003, Bisen-Hersh began doing nearly annual cabarets of his own material, commencing with solo acts then expanding to ensemble casts. Each cabaret consisted of 16-18 new songs grouped by theme: And Then She Dumped Me (2003), The Gayest Straight Man Alive (2004), Meaningful Sex (2005), Neurotic Tendencies (2006), Why Am I Not Famous Yet? (2007), Writer’s Block (2008) and I'll Relax When I'm Dead (2010).

Furthermore, Bisen-Hersh has developed two annual charity concerts of his work featuring Broadway actors: Broadway Meows for The Humane Society of New York, each summer and Broadway Can!, a can collecting concert each fall.

How did Broadway Can! come about?

The first charity concert we did was Broadway Meows in July 2009, which was a thank you to the Humane Society for saving my cat's life and not charging a fortune. After that great experience, we decided to do another concert during the holiday season, and I had a dream that we were doing a can raising drive called YES BROADWAY CAN! which was deemed too Obama-esque, so Broadway Can! became its title. This is our 2nd Annual one.

How do you recruit performers for the event?

Mostly through Facebook. I go through my friend list and start asking everyone I know with a Broadway credit. Also, with the stars I'm closer to I will ask for referrals. Actually, Facebook wouldn't let me go into my account without re-verifying it when I was writing so many strangers b/c they thought I was a stalker or something. Which I am, but that's a whole different story. Just kidding... mostly.

How did you choose this year's charities?

That was all Dennis Fowler! We wanted to find smaller charities that would be really happy to have us involved, and I think he probably did some google searches, and then contacted a few to see their reactions. I am thrilled with how the timing all worked out - our concert is two weeks before Thanksgiving, and we're giving all the money to Citymeals-on-Wheels for their Thanksgiving drive (They provide meals for senior citizens), and since they don't take cans, we decided to bring in a second charity, City Harvest, and give those to them for their Thanksgiving drive.

I understand this is the last time your fans will be able to see you for a while. Can you tell me a little about your new project?

Well, they can still come to my weekly showcases and watch my YouTube channel -, but I am taking a 6-month hiatus from self-producing because I am exhausted and over-extended. I have 3 shows ready for Off-Broadway production, and I am going to take the time to focus on getting those produced and financed, not only in NYC, but around the country - all 3 are available for licensing at There's LOVE QUIRKS which is an hourlong song cycle designed for colleges or black box theatres; STANLEY'S PARTY, a 50-minute musical based on the popular picture book, for children's theatres; and MORE TO LOVE, a two-act musical that takes place in a gym about accepting one's body, for community/ regional theatres.

But I think the new project you are referring to is my new web series: Every Day a Little Seth. It is still in its seminal state - I hope to film the first episode soon. Basically it's a shameless attempt to get an HBO sitcom. I am going to rant about situations and tell genuine anecdotes about my life, while illustrating how it could all be turned into a fleshed out show. Each episode takes its title from one of my songs, and that becomes the theme I will ramble about, and then at the end I will perform the song.

I think it'll be quite unique, and fairly humorous, and I am hoping to go viral... in the good sense of the word.

Broadway Can!

$22 Cover/ 2 Drink Minimum (cash only - $2 off with the donation of a canned good)

Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St.
Call for reservations after 4: 212-757-0788 or reserve online at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Canned Ham to Return to Dixon Place for a One-Night Benefit Performance

By Byrne Harrison

One year after premiering his one-man musical theatrical memoir Canned Ham at Dixon Place, Tom Judson returns to that same stage for a one-night-only "re-premiere" of the new, expanded version of the show Sunday, November 14th at 7:00pm. And that one night happens to coincide with Tom's 50th birthday, making for a truly celebratory evening.

Canned Ham details Tom's life in all areas of show business: acting in Broadway musicals (Cabaret, 42nd Street) composing music for film and television (Whit Stillman's Metropolitan, Sesame Street) and the work for which he is probably most widely known, appearing in gay adult films as Gus Mattox. Stories and songs are interwoven with visuals and musical numbers to describe a life that is extraordinary yet-because the story is bookended by the tale of his partner's death from AIDS-all too familiar to many. Tom accompanies himself on the piano, the accordion, the trumpet and nine other instruments - sometimes simultaneously.

For reservations visit or call 212-219-0736.

To see the review of Canned Ham's Provincetown run, click here.

Sondheim! The Birthday Concert to Air on PBS on November 24th

The star-studded event, Sondheim! The Birthday Concert, celebrating the 80th birthday of the Broadway and film legend Stephen Sondheim with performances of his music and songs by some of the world’s biggest talents, will make its debut on PBS stations across the country on November 24th, thanks to the Emmy Award-winning producer Ellen M. Krass and Tony Award-winning co-producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley in association with Thirteen/WNET and Image Entertainment. The production, which is hosted by David Hyde Pierce, will air at 9PM ET (check local listings).

Originally presented by the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on March 15th and March 16th, 2010, Sondheim! The Birthday Concert includes show-stopping numbers by Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy, Michael Cerveris, Elaine Stritch, Nathan Gunn, and many more. Led by world-renowned conductor Paul Gemignani and Emmy-nominated director Lonny Price, the evening includes songs and orchestral pieces from Sondheim musical theater favorites such as Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Anyone Can Whistle, along with a suite from music he wrote for the film Reds, which has never before been performed live.

Sondheim! The Birthday Concert is the third television co-production of Ellen M. Krass Productions, Stewart F. Lane, and Bonnie Comley in association with Thirteen/WNET and Image Entertainment. The first two were Cyrano de Bergerac (2009) and Company (2008), both for PBS’s “Great Performances.” The only continuing primetime performance showcase on American television, “Great Performances” presents a diverse programming portfolio of the performing arts. With its programs garnering 64 Emmy Awards and four George Foster Peabody Awards, the series has received every major television honor. Lonny Price directed Sondheim! The Birthday Concert for television, with Gary Bradley as editor.

Second Annual Broadway Can! Benefit To Be Held Sunday, November 14th

BROADWAY CAN! A Concert for the Citymeals-on-Wheels & City Harvest

A night of Seth Bisen-Hersh's music performed by Broadway performers!


BRIAN CHILDERS (Danny and Sylvia)
RORI NOGEE (Pinkalicious)
JESSICA LEA PATTY (The Addams Family)
BRIAN CHARLES ROONEY (The Threepenny Opera)
ALENA WATTERS (The Addams Family)
CORREY WEST (South Pacific)
KRISTEN BETH WILLIAMS (Promises, Promises)


$22 Cover/ 2 Drink Minimum (cash only - $2 off with the donation of a canned good)

Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St.
Call for reservations after 4: 212-757-0788 or reserve online at

The 2nd Annual Broadway Can! A Concert for Citymeals-on-Wheels & City Harvest will be presented at Don't Tell Mama, one night only, Sunday, November 14th at 8pm. The evening will be comprised of songs by composer/ lyricist Seth Bisen-Hersh. Bisen-Hersh will be joined on stage by a phenomenal cast including Karmine Alers (Rent), Jessica Leigh Brown (Nine), Lanene Charters (Mamma Mia), Brian Childers (Danny and Sylvia), Russell Fischer (Jersey Boys), Kimberly Faye Greenberg (Danny and Sylvia), Madison James, Rori Nogee (Pinkalicious), Jessica Lea Patty (The Addams Family), Arbender Robinson (Hair), Brian Charles Rooney (The Threepenny Opera), Brandon Ruckdashel (Co-Ed Confidential), Brian Shaw, Betsy Struxness (Memphis), Shelley Thomas (Brooklyn), Alena Watters (The Addams Family), Correy West (South Pacific) and Kristen Beth Williams (Promises, Promises). The concert will be directed by Laura Pestronk, choreographed by Erin Porvaznika, stage managed by Livia Hill with Emma Peele coordinating production.

The audience can expect to hear 18 songs from Bisen-Hersh's catalog featuring songs from Love Quirks: a song cycle of unconventional devotion, More to Love, The Spickner Spin and a world premiere from his new musical, What If...? Songs will include "Thanksgiving Day", "The Fag Hag Lament", "This is Awkward", "Can You Believe I Was Ever Sad We Broke Up?" and the popular youtube hit, "Hey!".

All the proceeds for the evening will go to Citymeals-on-Wheels, which "raises private funds to ensure no homebound elderly New Yorker will ever go a day without food or human company." The canned goods will be donated to City Harvest, which has "served New York City for more than 25 years" as a "food rescue organization, dedicated to feeding the city's hungry men, women, and children."

For more information or to donate to the charities, please visit:

UPDATE: Congratulations to the participants for raising $450 for Citymeals-on-Wheels and 70 lbs of canned food for City Harvest. Well done!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interview With Elizabeth Taylor of Finding Elizabeth Taylor

By Byrne Harrison

Elizabeth Claire Taylor is an actress and model whose one-woman show, Finding Elizabeth Taylor, opens tomorrow in New York. I had a chance to talk with her about making a name for herself when she shares one with "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World."

When did you first realize there was another fairly well-known Elizabeth Taylor out there?

From a very early age - probably 5 or 6 I started to register of the name jokes that I was getting. As a little girl, I distinctly remember thinking, "Who is this Richard Burton guy they keep mentioning?" And I did quickly learn that whenever anyone said my name - first and last - a magical ripple of laughter went through the room! This was the 1980's so Elizabeth Taylor was HOT - her perfume, her incredible AIDS activism - a real phoenix rising from the ashes.

What was the genesis of Finding Elizabeth Taylor?

At a dinner party about 5 years ago, one of the guests said to me (after a few glasses of wine), "You have a great story - and you're funny - you should make a movie where you drive to Hollywood and try to find Elizabeth Taylor - and call it, 'Finding Elizabeth Taylor'. A true 'A-ha!' moment. Being a die-hard NYC theatre actress the idea of a one-woman show came naturally. I started recording and transcribing stories from my life as well as researching the other Elizabeth Taylor - which is always fun! The production going up tomorrow will be my 5th run and I truly feel my best one to date.

You say being a die-hard New York actress made you want to do a one-woman show. Tell me a little more about that.

I got into UCLA, Berkley and Northwestern - but getting that purple folder telling me I was accepted into NYU's Tisch School of the Arts was the dream really coming true. I have always had an admiration for the theatre and there was no looking back after I left my home (ironically, Los Angeles!) to come to New York. Even those days when it's freezing, have lost my MetroCard, and feel absolutely exhausted of this city - seeing a wonderful play sends me to euphoric heights and reminds me that I am on my right path. Seeing the greats like Meryl Streep and Patrick Stewart continue to do wonderful NYC theatre affirms it - however hard it may be! And let me tell you, I don't know WHAT is harder that a one-woman show! But at the same time, there is simply nothing more satisfying as it is simply you and your design team - mine has been incredible - molding the show into something special. And I specifically didn't want the show to look like a traditional 'solo show'. Finding Elizabeth Taylor feels like a solo play - there are scene changes - sets - incredible music (We are thinking of releasing a soundtrack! Ha ha!) - I want it to be just as compelling and transformative for the audience as any other piece of theatre. Why a one woman show? As my mentor Camryn Manheim once said, "I wrote a one-woman show because it's the only part I wouldn't be rejected for" and I think that about sums it up!

How did you get involved in modeling?

My first job out of college was an usher on Broadway - I know, the glamor - but really, pretty fabulous as far as actor jobs go - and my dear friend Vinnie turned to me on the stairway one matinee and said, "Honey, you look good - you should be a plus-size model!" I have lived off of the industry for almost 6 years now. And yes, fondly said goodbye to ushering. The next time I work at a Broadway house, I want it to be as an actor!

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in modeling or acting?

Open calls! They are painful but essential. You really need to hear feedback then decide to go from there. Believe me, I thought acting was hard self-esteem-wise until I started modeling! A good personality helps keep the client, but you do need to have the "look" whatever it maybe for them at the time - to get in the door. A great resource is And like everything in life, when you believe in what you are doing it does make it easier! The journey I took from plump kid to skinny anorexic NYU student to curvy plus-size model affirmed to me that my destiny in life is to spread this message of size acceptance and self-love. The modeling was an incredible manifestation of that and I am grateful for it each and every day. Come to my show for the whole story!

What other projects do you have coming up?

More productions of Finding Elizabeth Taylor!

Finding Elizabeth Taylor opens Nov. 11, 8:30pm at Theatre Row ( 212-239-6200), and continues on Nov. 15-16, 8pm at Manhattan Theatre Source ( 866-811-4111).

Wednesday Giveaway - NY Neo-Futurist Chapbook

By Byrne Harrison

Courtesy of the NY Neo-Futurists,'s first Wednesday Giveaway will be a limited edition collection of 30 of the best NY Neo-Futurists' Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind plays from 2008, plus a BONUS insert of Erica Livingston's "Deja Cliffsnotes" as a handy read-along guide. Assembled by a real-live Neo-Futurist!

To enter the giveaway, just leave your e-mail address in the comments (please note, the comments are moderated, so it may take some time for them to appear). Winner will be chosen on Saturday, Nov. 13th, and the winner will be contacted via e-mail.

New York Neo-Futurist Benefit at the Fatty Crab Uptown

By Byrne Harrison

On Monday, November 8th, the New York Neo-Futurists held their Second Annual Benefit at the Fatty Crab Uptown. This year's benefit honored original New York Neo-Futurists and Chicago Neo-Futurist Alums Greg Kotis (Tony Award-winner and creator of Urinetown - The Musical) & Ayun Halliday (author of The Big Rumpus and No Touch Monkey!). The very well-attended event featured remarks by NY Neo-Futurist board member Gary Belsky, Managing Director Rob Neill, and Board President Brad Rolston. In honor of the honorees, the NY Neo-Futurists ensemble performed six Neo-Futurist plays by Kotis and Halliday.

This was followed by a wild live auction featuring a private Neo-Futurist performance, a handyman-for-a-day by company member Joey Rizzolo, party planning by multi-talented Neo Desiree Burch, a fondue dinner for six with Emily Bergyl and Rob Neill, a signature cocktail designed by Fatty Crab Mixologist, Adam Schuman, and a Neo-Futurist workshop for an eductional or professional development event. This live auction, led by auctioneer Jeff Olson, raised several thousand dollars for the company, and was a nice complement to the silent auction which featured diverse items like Pilates classes, a waffle iron, TV memorabilia, theatre tickets and a host of other items donated by NY Neo-Futurists supporters.

The Neo-Futurists' long-running show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, continues every Friday and Saturday night at the Kraine Theater. For more information, visit their website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Name That Tune" Costume Benefit Supports Music Programs For Youth

By Byrne Harrison

Thanks to my day job and my theatre work, I go to a lot of benefits. Without a doubt, this weekend's American Songbook Project's "Name That Tune" Benefit at the Edison Ballroom was one of the best I've attended in quite a while.

Honoring singing legend Margaret Whiting and director Michael Mayer, the "Name That Tune" Benefit featured Broadway stars, eye-catching costumes based on the titles of popular songs, and some top-notch entertainment.

The evening began with a cocktail hour where guests perused an amazing silent auction and some marvelous raffle prizes, while a video played featuring performances from Michael Mayer's productions. This was followed by a juried costume contest. The Celebrity Judges Panel featured five-time Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivy Long, NY1's Frank DiLella, Jujamcyn President Jordan Roth, casting director Tara Rubin, jazz vocalist Hilary Kole, Time Out NY's theatre and cabaret critic Adam Feldman, and arts patron Frank Skillern. The grand-prize winner (in a costume entitled "Cry Me A River") won a one-week vacation to Paris and the French Riviera courtesy of Radisson Blue Hotels, including round-trip airfare.

The event also included a live auction with hosted by Jim Caruso, the host of Jim Caruso's Cast Party every Monday at Birdland. Caruso proved an able auctioneer, bringing in thousands of dollars for prizes including a vacation to Vancouver's Westin Bayshore Hotel and an award-winning wilderness retreat on Vancouver Island, a nine-day vacation in Switzerland, and a private performance for the winner and 30 friends by Brooke Shields and John McDaniel. The bidding was spirited . . . very, very spirited.

Following the auction, actress Maureen Moore introduced the tribute Margaret Whiting which highlighted Whiting's many contributions to music during her decades-long recording career. The tribute featured a haunting interpretation of "My Foolish Heart" by Nellie McKay.

Honoree Michael Mayer was introduced by actress Jane Kaczmarek and Tony Award-winning librettist and lyricist Dick Scanlan (Scanlan's stories were priceless), and featured Kate Baldwin singing "Look What Happened to Mabel" and a beautiful mash-up (to use the current term) of "Look to the Rainbow" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

President of the board of directors of The American Songbook Project, Michael Putman Estwanik stated, "The evening's honorees, Margaret Whiting and Michael Mayer, emblemize the scope of our organization's cultural mission. It is our belief that American popular songs are our country's unique contribution to world culture. With so many music programs in our schools being drastically cut, our role is becoming essential if we want to foster an appreciation of American popular songs among the young."

Since its founding in 1999, The American Songbook Project has been bringing Broadway and top cabaret talent into New York City schools so that young people can hear great songs, both classic and contemporary, by American songwriters.

I offer the following photos as proof that, 1) there were some amazing costumes and 2) I am not a photographer. There was a professional photographer at the event; as soon as I find a link to those photos, I will pass it along.

Lifebeat Benefit Concert Celebrates Carole King

On November 29th, artists and musicians will unite for BROTHER, BROTHER: KING FOR A DAY, a special evening to benefit Lifebeat at Comix. Performers including Lala Brooks, Ann Hampton Callaway, Grayce Coviello, Colton Ford, Sherri Lewis, Stewart Lewis, Gregory Nalbone, John Pagano, Katy Pfaffl, Barbara Porteus, MarTina Vidmar, Julie Waldman-Stiel and Liz Callaway will offer their interpretations of the songs of CAROLE KING. The inspiration for this event, which will be hosted by Matt Walton (All My Children, One Life to Live) and feature musical direction by Jimmy Horan, comes from Ms. King’s song “Brother, Brother” from her 1971 album Music. The song was her heartfelt response to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and is still relevant today.

BROTHER, BROTHER: KING FOR A DAY aims to raise awareness of World AIDS Day. First observed in 1988, World AIDS Day (WAD) occurs each December 1st and has served to raise awareness about the epidemic, honor those who have died, focus attention on issues that are key to a successful response, and inspire positive action. “We are grateful to all the artists and individuals who are donating their time and talents to this incredible event. Music has the power to heal and inspire and you’ll see that at BROTHER, BROTHER: KING FOR A DAY,” said Ben Wymer, Interim Executive Director at Lifebeat.

Tickets for BROTHER, BROTHER: KING FOR A DAY are available at:
$40 General Admission
$60 Reserved Prime Seating
$100 VIP (Premium seating + VIP Barefoot Wine & Bubbly Reception + $25 Gift Certificate to Platinum Salon)
Sponsors for the evening include: Comix, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Platinum Salon

For a complete listing of artists and bios at:

Lifebeat is a nonprofit that uses the power of music and the music industry to help educate young people about HIV/AIDS prevention. For more than seventeen years, Lifebeat has helped to mobilize the talents and resources of the music industry to raise awareness and funds, and to provide support to the HIV-positive community.

Lifebeat relies on a small but dedicated staff and an active Board of Directors to carry out our mission, as well as a wonderful group of volunteers and a network of national AIDS service organizations (ASO’s) to educate young people through our outreach efforts.

Opened in September 2006 in Manhattan's booming Meatpacking District, Comix has quickly defined itself as the premier comedy club in New York City. Comix is Zagat’s highest rated comedy venue, was dubbed “one of the top six clubs in the country” by the Hollywood Reporter and has also been named the top headliner club in New York City by both GrandLife and Digital City. In addition to outstanding comedy shows, Comix is also the ideal venue to enjoy great drinks, food and private events with options for every taste and budget. Our distinctive menu and VIP dinner packages will delight even the most discriminating diner, so come on an empty stomach and enjoy a meal with your laughs.

Signature Theatre Company's 20th Anniversary Cocktail Party and Gala Brings Out the Stars

By Byrne Harrison
Photos by Dave Allocca for Dewar’s

Dewar's Signature hosted The Signature Theatre Company’s 20th Anniversary Cocktail Party & Gala in New York City. Held at Espace, the evening honored playwright Tony Kushner. Attendees including Signature Theatre board member Ed Norton, Modern Family's Ty Burrell, Zachary Quinto, Paul Dano and Zoey Kazan enjoyed specialty Dewar’s cocktails while getting an exclusive preview of Frank Gehry’s models for Signature Center, the Signature Theatre Company’s new home, scheduled to open in 2012.

That Theatre Show to Benefit Food Bank

Come see amazing Broadway performers give back to the Food Bank!

Broadway lovers are invited to join Oscar Andrew Hammerstein III (“The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family”) and Bill Dawes (“Lombardi”) to be among the first guests to appear on a new Broadway-themed talk show launching November 15, 2010 at Manhattan’s Iguana New York at 8:00 p.m. Also there will be special performances from Broadway’s Russell Fisher (Jersey Boys), Kelly Grant (Company) and Correy West (South Pacific). Musicians will include Brad Gardner on piano, John Gundrumon guitar, Michael Pagnotta on alto saxophone, and RJ Rabin on drums.

The new talk show, entitled That Theatre Show, seeks to chronicle the thoughts and stories of various actors, directors, composers and others that make New York’s theater community world-renowned. The show will contain both be interviews and performances. The show is produced by Neal Bennington (owner of and Sahar Helmy.

In an effort to give back to the community, the event will also contribute partial proceeds from the maiden episode to the Food Bank For New York City. The Food Bank For NYC addresses the growing needs of people seeking emergency food assistance in New York City. Over the years, the Food Bank has experienced dramatic growth in the areas of food distribution, operations, programs and research to better serve the network of community food programs — and ultimately the people in New York City who rely on the food they provide. There will also be Broadway-themed raffle items to benefit the Food Bank, including a one-hour vocal coaching session with Broadway vocal coach Michael Lavine, Broadway posters and playbills. Bennington states: "The purpose of this new endeavor is to bring awareness, through different charitable organizations, and show that theater is unlike any other experience."

Oscar Andrew Hammerstein, the grandson of the late lyricist-librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, will discuss his new book “The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family”. This is the only biography of the musical theatre legends written by a family member. Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein (Oscar Hammerstein II’s grandson), gives readers unprecedented access to family archives of art, photographs, theatre blueprints, letters, programs, patents, and more, and makes this a profoundly rich celebration of musical theatre in America. He presents a multi-layered portrait of the Hammerstein legacy. He is a painter, writer, lecturer, and family historian. He has devoted much of his life to studying and preserving his family’s heritage and their contribution to American culture. He lectures frequently at universities, institutes, and theatrical and civic organizations on the Hammerstein family’s pivotal role in shaping the development of musical theatre and popular entertainment in this country from the 1860s to the present. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, teaching graduate level New York City theatre history.

Bill Dawes can currently be seen on Broadway playing “Paul Hornung" in Lombardi. As a stage actor, Bill’s first role was on Broadway with Sigourney Weaver and Christopher Durang in the play Sex and Longing, which was followed by Gross Indecency in which he originated the role of "Lord Alfred Douglas". He is an actor/comic/writer. As an actor, he has appeared in several award-winning independent films, including Adam, Evenhand and Fiona and an acting/writing role in the DVD cult hit I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. On TV, Bill has been on several hit shows, including Sex and the City, OZ, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Damages, All My Children and One Life to Live. As a comic, Bill has performed all over the U.S.A. and world including crowds of over 8,000 international troops at bases in Baghdad. Bill has been published in several magazines and an hour comedy special he wrote with Jamie Kennedy, Uncomfortable, will be seen on Showtime this fall. Bill performs every Friday & Saturday 10pm shows at Times Square Comedy Club.

Russell Fischer is currently making his Broadway debut as “Joey” and an understudy for the role of Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. Other credits include the ’98-’99 National Tour of Big – The Musical (Billy Kopecki), Chautauqua Opera’s The Music Man (Tommy Djilas), Paper Mill Playhouse’s Children of Eden (Young Abel u/s) and The Sound of Music (Kurt) starring Debby Boone.

Kelly Grant recently finished playing lead role of Christine Daaé at select performances in the Broadway National Touring Company of Hal Prince’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Broadway audiences will remember Kelly in the 2007 Tony-award winning revival of Company, starring Raúl Esparza and directed by John Doyle, where she played the role of “Kathy”. Kelly has also been seen in numerous musicals nationally including Show Boat, directed by Harold Prince; The Secret Garden, South Pacific, and My Fair Lady.

Correy West has been seen Broadway in the Tony-winning musical South Pacific (Lincoln Center Revival) as well as Off-Broadway in Shades of Harlem. Correy’s credits also include 42nd Street (Tour), The Radio City Christmas Spectacular; NY: Lunch (NYMF), An Evening with Jason Robert Brown (Cooper Union); Regional: The Producers (Westchester Broadway Theatre), Paint Your Wagon (Pioneer Theatre Company), Dreamgirls (Prince Music Theater/North Carolina Theatre), Miss Saigon (Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center), The Wizard of Oz (North Carolina Theatre).

Tickets are $12.00 for advanced reservations, and $15.00 at the door (plus a one drink minimum -CASH ONLY). That Theatre Show’s November 15th performance can be purchased by calling (212) 765 5454. The Iguana New York is located at 240 West 54th Street, New York, New York.

Visit for details.

Seussical Coming to Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts January 30th

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College continues its 2010-2011 Target FamilyFun series with Theatreworks USA's production of Seussical on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 2pm.

Dr. Seuss's beloved stories collide in this unforgettable musical adaptation of the original Broadway production. Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, and of course The Cat in the Hat find themselves intertwined in a crazy adventure, in which the power of imagination saves the day. This adaptation for young audiences features thirteen actors and enhanced production values. Music is by Stephen Flaherty; lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; book by Ahrens & Flaherty; co-conceived by Ahrens, Flaherty and Eric Idle; based on the works of Dr. Seuss; directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts' 2010-2011 Target FamilyFun Series also includes The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Sunday, April 10, 2011 at 2pm) and American Family Theater's production of Beauty and the Beast (Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 2pm). All tickets for Target FamilyFun Series performances are $6 in advance, $7 at the door.

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts' 2010-2011 Target FamilyFun Series is sponsored by Target.

Presented by TheatreWorks USA
Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 2PM
Tickets: $6 ($7 at door)

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College
2 train to Flatbush Avenue / on-site paid parking available
Running time: approx 60 minutes
Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Online orders:
Box Office: (718) 951-4500, Tuesday - Saturday, 1pm - 6pm
Groups of 15 or more: (718) 951-4600, ext. 33

Eryc Taylor Dance To Perform Four-Night Engagement at Joyce SoHo, November 10-13

Eryc Taylor Dance Four-Night Engagement at the Joyce SoHo November 10-13, 2010

For more information or to order tickets, visit their website.

Midwinter Madness Seeks One-Act Plays

Midwinter Madness Seeks One-Act Plays for Feb. 2011

Dates for the Festival are Feb. 7 - 27, 2011.

Plays should run 30 to 60 min. Scripts should be submitted in standard playscript format.*

Any subject matter okay, including musicals.

The Festival will not combine shorter plays to make full programs.

Production requirements must be minimal: rehearsal cubes, a table or two, some chairs (all provided by the Festival), and your own props, which you must bring with you and take home for every performance.

Tickets will be $12-15. There are no fees. The Festival takes the door.

There are no comps. There will be a discounted price for Festival participants to see other shows. Shows' staff may see their own shows for free, seating permitting. These comps may not be transferred to anyone else.

Shows must be non-Equity. No showcases or Equity waivers, please!

The Festival will provide a press agent, venue manager, lighting designer, and box-office manager. You must provide your own board op.

While the Festival provides the venue and staff, you must provide the production. Roy Arias Studios may offer discounts on rehearsal space, at its own discretion.

There will be a 2.5-hr tech rehearsal, during business hours Mon. thru Fri.

All performances will take place from 6 pm to 11 pm weekdays or 11 am to 11 pm weekends.

Each show will receive at least 3 performances, probably all in the same week. Shows that sell the most tickets before Jan. 2011 may receive more performances.

The Festival will provide a program "wrapper": you must provide a program specific to your show, and insert it into the wrapper for distribution to your patrons.

There will be a juried award ceremony after the Festival, with cash awards for the most popular plays.

*12 pt Times Roman; character names in the middle on their own line; line spaces between speeches and stage directions; indented stage directions; 1" margins all around.

To submit a script, send it as an attachment in .doc or .pdf format to Any questions, just e-mail.

Short Play Lab Seeking Scripts

John Chatterton's Short Play Lab Seeks Scripts for Dec. 18 - 19 -- Cash Prizes!!

The Short Play Lab is still looking for scripts for Dec. 18 - 19. New participants are welcome!

The rules are easy:
Deadline for Dec. 18 - 19 is Nov. 18. (Note the increased lead time.) Get that script in pronto!

Plays should be 1 - 10 pp. in standard playscript format.* (The shorter the better; shorter plays get priority.)

Submit scripts in MS-Word.

You produce the play; the SPL provides the theatre (at the Roy Arias Studios, 300 West 43rd Street, NYC).

Productions must be non-union: no showcases please! (And no Equity waivers, either.)

Keep production values to a minimum: costumes and hand props are okay. We provide rehearsal cubes, chairs, and a table or two.

We provide a board op, box office, and venue management.

There are no fees. The SPL keeps the door.

Tickets are $18. Each playwright and director gets to watch his/her show for free. There are no other comps.

There is a tech rehearsal, on the afternoon of Dec. 18. Plays get either 15 mins of tech (1 - 5 pp.) or 30 mins. of tech (6 - 10 pp.).

Every play gets 2 performances, 1 on Sat. and 1 on Sun.

We don't do staged readings. Be off-book, please! Plays not off-book during tech will be removed from the line-up.

There are usually 2 separate programs of plays; each program is performed twice. THE MOST POPULAR PRODUCTION IN EACH PROGRAM RECEIVES A CASH PRIZE OF $50. Winners are determined by polling patrons at the box office.

*12 pt Times Roman; character names in the middle on their own line; line spaces between speeches and between speeches and stage directions; indented stage directions.

The SPL is a lot of fun and a good way to see your work on its feet in a supportive environment. It's also a great way to see actors and directors at work, so you can recruit people for later productions.

To submit a script, send it as an attachment to Any questions, just e-mail.

Interview with the Cast and Director of (un)afraid

By Byrne Harrison

The New York Neo-Futurists' latest play, (un)afraid, dealt with fear - what causes it, why we feel it, how we overcome it. I reached out to performers Cara Francis, Daniel McCoy, Jill Beckman, Ricardo Gamboa, and director Rob Neill to find out a little more about how they deal with fear.

Since Neo-Futurism emphasizes being who you are while onstage, rather than creating a character or playing a role, what did you discover about yourself while working on a show about fear?

Cara Francis: I discovered that I am barely able to cope with large, live cockroaches. I just scream and cry hysterically. The witnessing of this reaction is far more compelling than it's description. Fear is unpredictable and in it's truest form, cannot be controlled or scripted. The framework can be created, but what ultimately happens is left up to chance.

What do you fear most about yourself?

Daniel McCoy: That I have the capacity to fail when most needed.

What do you fear most about others?

Ricardo Gamboa: What I fear most about others is their ability to be dishonest. There is a saying in Spanish, "Cada mente es un universo." "Every mind is its own universe." And embedded in that is this truth, this reality that in any individual is this never-ending network of thoughts, spiral galaxies of feelings, black holes of experiences. Each of us has this "universe" within the frames of our flesh, within the borders of our essentially solitary existence. And so, when you think about something like "love." Like the idea of the unconditional breaking down of walls and the wormhole of two connected people into each other's universe--it's a really beautiful thing. And so you can know someone in this really intimate way, spend every night together, share secrets, whatever. But the scary thing is the possibility that that person isn't who you think. That that person is deceiving, hiding, lying and the way that can hurt a person--any one of us--is scary as hell to me. To me, that type of dishonesty, the withholding of whole truth, is the worst. I used love as an example, but it's not just with love: Think about the dishonesty of business, government, etc. It is this way of limiting possibility for the other and usually for selfish reasons. The notion that we could be living a lie, in a psychic cage we don't even know exists with lovers in beds or with fellow citizens on buses, makes me paranoid. It is like, what is real, then? What or who can we trust?

What do you do to overcome your fears?

Jill Beckman: Well, that's the real question, I guess. I don't know if I've ever successfully "overcome" any of my fears. There are certain things of which I am no longer scared, but that is mostly due to time and age and experience. Most of the fears or anxieties that I haven't just "grown out of" have a tendency to stick around, no matter how many times I confront them. One of the scenes in (un)afraid involves me confronting my visceral fear of knives by conversing with a knife that is being puppetted by Ricardo. He taunts me with this big, sharp, scary knife by holding it near my face and rubbing it on my skin. I thought that, by confronting one of my biggest fears over and over during the run of the show, it would start to get less and less scary and help me to dissolve it of its strength. But that has actually not been the case. That scene remains just as frightening as ever. I saw Dan holding a knife to cut a tomato with in another scene just tonight and felt the same panic that I always do. I think maybe anxieties can be more successfully overcome, but real, deep fears... I'm not sure they can be overcome once and for all. I think our task as adults is to identify those fears that hold us back and address them head on. And hopefully, it gets easier to address them. But I'm not sure the fear itself ever goes away entirely. At least, that hasn't been my experience.

Do you think fear stifles creativity or channels it?

Rob Neill: I think that in our country we have the luxury of being able to have fear stimulate our creativity. We don't always chose to do that--put that on stage or into what we create, but with (un)afraid we have. not that what we do in this show is just about freaking people out, it is more about delving into what we as Neo-Futurists fear and how we can approach or experiment with fears uniquely in each night's show.

Monday, November 8, 2010

MTWorks Presents Underworld IV Benefit Featuring Broadway Understudies

MTWorks is pleased to announce UNDERWORLD IV: Broadway Understudies & MTWorkers will be held Monday, November 8th at 9:00pm at The Triad NYC (158 West 72nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam).

The annual benefit event headlines Broadway understudies performing their favorite songs and sharing their most intimate career changing stories. This year under the musical direction of Sonny Paladino (Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia, Dirty Rotten Scoundrel's, Grease), the skillful Broadway performers will take the stage with MTWorks' very own troop of seasoned actors from previous main stage shows.

"What a show. All of them, the young and the not-so, all with stars in their eyes. But then, their audience was equally afflicted. It was worth it. Had a couple of stars in my own eyes"
- Gene Paul, Theater Scene

UNDERWORLD IV will include Broadway understudies Alicia Albright (Wicked), Brad Bass (Memphis), Kristin Bracken (Wicked), Kathy Calahan (Mary Poppins), Anthony Galde (Wicked), Michael Hunsaker (Ragtime), and Kristen Beth Williams (Promises, Promises). With MTWorkers Alex Bond (A Home Across The Ocean, Barrier Island), Sarah Chaney (The Oath), Mark Emerson (A Home Across The Ocean, Barrier Island), Adi Kurtchik (Look After You), and Susan Wallack (Good Lonely People). This year will include performances by special guest Dathan B. Williams both a Broadway performer (Show Boat) and MTWorker (A Home Across The Ocean), and Tym Moss from QNation & TalkRadio's Artists Exposed.

All proceeds from Underworld IV go to MTWorks current 2010-11 Season, which includes the upcoming world premiere of award-winning playwright David Stallings' new play The Family Shakespeare, directed by Nicole A. Watson in April 2011 at The June Havoc Theatre.

All tickets are $30 (+2 drink minimum, cash bar) and are available online at Tickets may also be purchased in-person at The Triad NYC half hour prior to Showtime, cash only.

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

Win Two Tickets To "The Divine Sister"

By Byrne Harrison

Want to win tickets to The Divine Sister, Charles Busch's latest play? Click here to find out how you can win two tickets to the show in their Hidden Habits Contest. Hurry, because the contest closes tomorrow.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NY Neo-Futurists 2nd Annual Benefit on Monday, November 8th

By Byrne Harrison

Here's where I'm going to be tomorrow. If you're smart, like to have a good time, and want to support Off-Off Broadway theatre, you'll be there, too.

The New York Neo-Futurists'
2nd Annual Benefit

Monday, November 8th at 7:00PM

Fatty Crab Uptown
2170 Broadway
New York, NY 10024
(The 79th St. stop on the 1 train is the nearest station)


Click here to purchase tickets

A Benefit for the New York Neo-Futurists

Honoring Original New York Neo-Futurists and Chicago Neo-Futurist Alums Greg Kotis (Tony Award Winner and Creator of Urinetown - The Musical) & Ayun Halliday (Author of The Big Rumpus and No Touch Monkey!)

Join us for drinks, East Asian fare, a scintillating auction and of course the New York Neo-Futurists doing what we do best: performing live theater for you!

The Benefit Host committee is:
Brooke Joslyn, Carl Riehl, Casey Larose, Elan Barish, Jamie Heinlein, Jori Jayne Emde, Kendra Souder, Leanne Diamond, Michael Reynolds, Rhiannon Sharpe, Richard Garvey, Robbyn Footlick, Robert Phillips

The NYNF Board is:
Brad Rolston, Kyle Spencer, Gary Belsky, Cory Greenberg, Severn Taylor, Alan Blum, Jill Beckman, Eevin Hartsough

For questions, to make a donation, or if you'd like to join the host committee, please contact Eevin Hartsough (eevin(at)nynf(dot)org)

*New York Neo-Futurists is a 501(c)3 organization. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A copy of the latest annual report filed by the New York Neo-Futurists may be obtained upon request from the New York State Department of Law, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271, or from the New York Neo-Futurists, c/o Rob Neill, Managing Director, 475 W. 57th St #6A-3, New York, NY 10019.

RIP Oscar Brockett (1923-2010)

By Byrne Harrison

If you studied theatre history in college, chances are you used Oscar Brockett's "History of the Theatre" as your textbook (I have three different editions on my shelf, one from my undergrad studies and two from grad school - I still refer to them from time to time).

Brockett passed away today at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: (un)afraid (New York Neo-Futurists)

By Byrne Harrison

Here is a very short (and by no means exhaustive*) list of things that make me anxious:

Forced audience participation
Being brought on stage
Facing my own mortality and that of my loved ones
Being touched by strangers
Uncomfortable silences
Being unable to see

I list these not just because (un)afraid is about fear and what causes it, but because I had to confront all of these personal demons during the performance. And if you share any of these particular phobias, you may have to face them, too.

As with most performances by the Neo-Futurists, it's difficult to offer a simple review. By design, the performances are never the same twice. (un)afraid is broken into four sections, each section framed by a meditation on fear (some funny, some poignant, some disturbing). Each of the four sections features a short piece written by one of the performers. Only one of them will perform their piece in any given section. The other three go unperformed. So out of a possible sixteen short pieces, the audience only sees four.

That's why it's always worthwhile to see a Neo-Futurist show more than once.

Each of the short plays is drawn from the performer's own life. In the performance I attended, the most affecting was Daniel McCoy's piece on homophobia and bullying. Couched in terms of a boxing match, McCoy attempted to repent for the times as a teen when he stood by and let other kids get bullied for their sexuality. While primarily wrapped up in a fear of physical confrontation, McCoy also deals with the fear of being different, the desperate need to be "us," rather than "them," and ultimately, the fear of a part of oneself that is too painful to admit. Powerful and disturbing stuff.

That was just one of four well-performed pieces.

The ensemble is particularly strong, featuring Jill Beckman, Cara Jane Francis, and Daniel McCoy, all of whom are writers/performers in the Neo-Futurists' long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, and Ricardo Gamboa, who is making his Neo-Futurist debut. Overall, the four work well together (and with their Minions - Jonathan Herzog, Mike Puckett, and Nicole Strawbridge), though at times Gamboa seems just slightly out of sync. Perhaps it is a matter of the other three performers having been fully imersed in the Neo-Futurist style for some time, while Gamboa is a newcomer. Rob Neill's direction is strong, and his use of the performance space (marvellously designed by Liz Jenetopulos) is excellent. In fact, all of the production values of (un)afraid are outstanding, due to longtime Neo-Futurist Technical Director Lauren Parrish.

If you are the kind of person who is really uncomfortable being forced to go from audience member to participant, I encourage you to push through the discomfort and join the show. It is an amazing and challenging experience.

Written and Performed by Jill Beckman, Cara Francis, Ricardo Gamboa, and Daniel McCoy
Directed by Rob Neill
Set and Prop Design: Liz Jenetopulos
Costume Design: Hunter Kaczorowski
Lighting Design/Technical direction: Lauren Parrish
Sound Design: Christopher Loar
Video Design: Adam Smith
Stage Manager: Laura Schlactmeyer
Producer: Jennie Miller
Minions: Jonathan Herzog, Mike Puckett, and Nicole Strawbridge

The Living Theatre
21 Clinton Street
Through November 6th

*An exhaustive list would have to include being buried or trapped, drowning, snakes, and zombies. Being trapped in a small space with snakes and zombies while it fills with water would probably cause my head to explode.

This Month's Title Photo

By Byrne Harrison

This month's title photo is by Rhys Harper and comes from the APAC (Astoria Performing Arts Center) production of Joshua Conkel's MilkMilkLemonade, playing at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent St (@30th Rd) in Astoria.

Emory is an effeminate 11-year-old boy who lives on a farm with his chain smoking Nanna and his only friend, a depressed chicken about to be processed. Nanna wishes Emory would get his head out of the clouds, stop choreographing ribbon stick dance numbers, and be more like Elliot, the boy down the road with a penchant for burning things. But Emory and Elliot have a relationship — just not one Nanna would expect or approve of. With absurd, poignant dialog and brutal characterizations, MilkMilkLemonade is a bitterly funny exploration of gender, sexuality, life, death, and the human body.

For more information on MilkMilkLemonade visit APAC's website. For more about Rhys Harper, click here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Review - Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana (WTE Theatre)

By Byrne Harrison

The mark of good children's theatre is its ability to entertain (and hopefully engross) the kids, while still being palatable to the adults. Playwright Croft Vaughn's Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana, adapted from his one-man show, succeeds admirably. It is a charming, and somewhat bittersweet play about life and growing up, that will entertain children and adults and do it well.

Sinclair (Michael J. Connolly) is a dreamer with a wildly active imagination. The attic is his playroom, full of magical delights, including his imaginary friend, Russell (Chuck Blasius), and Russell's imaginary friend, Elizabeth (Dorothy Abrahams). When Sinclair's rambunctious siblings, Stu (Robert James Grimm III) and Sam (Lauren Sowa), intrude, Sinclair is shocked to find out that they can see Russell and Elizabeth. Even more alarming, the attic now contains an audience full of people. Fearing that the audience might be made up of cannibals, Sinclair and crew begin telling stories. And that's when the play really gets good.

Vaughn's stories are terrific, and bring to mind Aesop's fables or the Brothers Grimm. Full of stinky flowers, hidden truths, warring tribes of monkeys, and gunk-destroying fudge, his tales are delightful, energetic, and have some nice life lessons.

One story, however, stands out. This is the story about two birds and it directly relates to the loss of the children's grandfather. It creates a sublime moment in the play, especially through its use of drawings, and while a little too quiet for the youngest children, it is very touching.

Connolly, Sowa and Grimm are excellent as the siblings. Grimm in particular is outstanding as the rough and tumble Stu. He captures the manic energy of a particularly physical child. Connolly excels in the quiet moments, especially when dealing with the loss of Sinclair's grandfather. Sowa is just a delight, but never more than when Sam is exasperated or annoyed. Blasius and Abrahams are terrific as Russell and Elizabeth, at times acting as silly as the kids, at others acting like adults (or more often as adults seen through the eyes of kids).

Director David A. Miller does an outstanding job with the play, keeping the pacing tight (very important in children's theatre), but allowing the nuances of the script to shine through. Production elements are strong, with particular praise going to Scenic Designer Jennifer Varbalow. She skillfully transforms the small stage at Under St. Mark's into a jammed-to-the-rafters attic, full of items to fuel a child's imagination.

My only issue about Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana is the timing of the shows. 8 PM is not an easy time to get children to the theatre. I wish I could have attended one of the Sunday matinee performances to see if there were more children, and as a result, if the interactive portions of the play worked better.

With luck, Vaughn's play will be brought back for a longer, and hopefully earlier run.

Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana
By Croft Vaughn
Directed by David A. Miller
Stage Management: Barbara T. Dente
Assistant Director: Lauren Heirigs
Scenic Design: Jennifer Varbalow
Costume Design: Bradley Erickson
Lighting Design: Kate Ashton with Sam Gordon
Music: Alana McNair
Animation: Matt Burnett with Double Blind
Video Design: Jeff Heyman
Press Representation: Emily Owens PR

Featuring: Michael J. Connolly (Sinclair), Lauren Sowa (Sam), Robert James Grimm III (Stu), Chuck Blasius (Russell), Dorothy Abrahams (Elizabeth)

Under St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Closed October 24th