Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bernadette: A Broadway Treasure

By Anthony James Host

Theatre practitioners are opinionated… I think we all can agree with that. We all have our favorite performers and those who we always anxiously await to see what they will be doing next. There are several people who are on the Broadway scene today whose careers I am looking forward to watching in the upcoming years, but there is still one performer I wish were around a little more and would be given a new original musical or just another powerhouse vehicle. This person (and you already know who it will be by the title; I know I am not holding anybody in suspense) is truly unique and always has such an emotional attachment to her work and I always watch her work in amazement as she handles comedy and drama with seeming ease.

Bernadette Peters is someone who stood out to me even as a little kid. I was bizarre as a child because I always watched and preferred more adult programming than children’s television.  One of my favorite things was watching reruns of The Carol Burnett Show. One afternoon, a musical number came on with this very petite, sultry woman signing the then-new show tune “All That Jazz,” and I just remember that I was transfixed by her.  Around that same time, Ms. Peters was featured as a spokesperson for Ocean Spray on television and I made the connection that she was the same person as the one I'd seen on Carol Burnett. One of my mentors at the time told me that Bernadette was a theatre legend--thus began my education on her career.

I have only ever seen Bernadette perform live once and that was in her second Tony Award-winning performance in Annie Get Your Gun, a show that she made work wonderfully. It is still an experience that I treasure highly.

As I got older, I watched more of her cabaret and concert appearances (thanks, YouTube!) and also watched the filmed productions of Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods. What makes me love her in these settings is how she takes “her moment” before each song and then comes around to the microphone--making it seem she has lived the life of that character for years. I think the strongest example of this is when she sings “Not A Day Goes By” from the underrated Sondheim score of Merrily We Roll Along.”

If there was ever a musical showcase for her that showed the ability of how great she could command a stage and show off her versatility it was another underrated musical: Mack and Mabel. In this show, she went from being cutesy and peppy ("Look What Happened to Mabel)" to angry and bitter ("Wherever He Ain’t") to her final heartbreaking 11 o’clock number ("Time Heals Everything").  I also think she may possibly be the strongest Rose to ever come out on the Broadway stage for bringing her usual slinky alluring quality to someone who was normally seen as a monster by many people.

For reasons that I still can't exactly explain, my favorite performance of hers is the dual role of Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George. From her first moment on stage, she steals the scene from Mandy Patinkin (who is definitely strong in his own right), and continues to steal it throughout Act One, particularly with her little moments in “Color and Light,” and then her two huge numbers, the underrated “Everybody Loves Louis” and then her emotional blow-up “We Do Not Belong Together." Dot and Marie may not be the main focus of the story, but she manages to steal the show.  I think she was truly robbed of the Tony Award from Chita Rivera in The Rink.

When she finally won for Song and Dance in 1986, I almost feel that it was an opportunity to reward her for a good performance in a year where she had virtually no competition, even though she had done much stronger in previous years. Then you had the category confusion of Into the Woods, in which some debated whether or not she was the lead or a featured player as the Witch . Of course, Joanna Gleason was in the same boat as she won the Drama Desk Award as a featured player, then got won as lead at the Tonys, while Bernadette was nominated for the Drama Desk as lead, then was snubbed at the Tonys. Despite the snub, I still think Bernadette will forever be the definitive Witch; no one has yet to come close to her.

Bernadette Peters is always good in whatever she does, even in weaker shows like The Goodbye Girl,  George M! and On the Town. She wiped the floor with Catherine Zeta Jones when she replaced her in the revival of A Little Night Music.then played a very commendable Sally in the recent revival of Follies (though she was overshadowed by the stunning Jan Maxwell).

I am always glad that Bernadette Peters comes back to the theatre, especially after she her forays into film and television, standing out in movies like “The Jerk,” “Annie,” and “Pennies From Heaven." She, like other Broadway standouts such as Angela Lansbury and more recently Audra McDonald, always come back to the theatre, and it is where she belongs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Making a Difference Through Song - Vandy Students Give Back

By Byrne Harrison

Thanks to a Facebook posting by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, I found out that a group of students at my alma mater, Vanderbilt University, recently made a significant donation to the organization.  I had a feeling it would be one of the theatre groups.  After a little sleuthing, I discovered that it was made by Vanderbilt Off-Broadway (VOB), a student-run theatre group founded several years after I graduated.

I reached out to Michael Greshko, Vanderbilt class of '14 and the current president of VOB, to find out more and to congratulate the group on supporting one of my favorite charities.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway started a number of years after I graduated from Vanderbilt.  Tell me a little bit about the group.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway--or VOB, as we're commonly known--is a performing arts troupe at Vanderbilt University that prides itself on being the only student organization at Vanderbilt that produces full-length, fully student-produced musicals. Born out of a brainstorming session at a 1997 fraternity party, VOB has gone on to put on nineteen productions, performing everything from massive, classic shows like Guys and Dolls--our first production--to modern, more intimate works like The Last Five Years. Now in our fifteenth season, we pride ourselves on doing everything with student talent: Our shows are student-directed, student-produced, student-designed, student-choreographed, and feature a top-notch student orchestra.

Do the VOB members have hopes of making it to Broadway, or do they just share a love of performance and musical theatre?

We're fortunate to have a diversity of people join VOB; some people in the group are gunning for careers in professional theatre, while others are more interested in it as an artistic and social extracurricular activity. What binds everyone together, though, is a deep love of musical theatre and performance, a bind that reflects itself in VOB's tightness. It becomes a second family to many of its members, myself included.

What are some of the shows VOB's done recently?

Since 2011, we've offered two shows a year: a larger mainstage production in January and a smaller second show in April. In the last few years, we've done mainstage productions of Urinetown, Nine, and Reefer Madness, keeping it pretty modernThis past January, we put on our 2012-2013 mainstage production, The Drowsy Chaperone, setting attendance records in the process. Our second shows have included I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and The Last Five Years.

Tell me a little bit about your recent Athenian Sing performance.

Photo by Jessie Rodriguez
Athenian Sing is a time-honored tradition at Vanderbilt. Founded in the late 1930s by then-student Dinah Shore, the event has become a massive performing arts showcase and friendly competition for charity. A panel of judges, assembled from Vanderbilt's faculty, rank the acts, with the top three places winning money for their charity of choice. In the past, VOB hasn't performed at Athenian Sing; the event's in October, and we usually don't have anything ready from our upcoming January show. This year, though, we decided to put together a performance of "Pandemonium," from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, as VOB's act in Athenian Sing. After some fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants rehearsals and clever closet-mining for costumes, we performed it to delightfully excited reactions from the audience and judges. It was a ton of fun, and I'm glad we did it; not only did we have a blast our first time out, but we also came in second place!

Your second-place finish led to a $1,000 donation to BC/EFA.  Why did you choose that charity?

Since VOB's early days, we've been committed toward joining our professional brethren in supporting BC/EFA for the tremendous work that they do in supporting the performing arts community and broader populations threatened by HIV/AIDS. It's amazing to be even a small part of what BC/EFA does, and we're proud to support them through our fundraising and educational efforts. We hope do do even more with BC/EFA and its local Nashville partners in the years to come.

I understand you'll be making another donation using proceeds donated by the audience of one of your recent shows.  What was the show?

Yes, we used our closing performance of The Drowsy Chaperone in January to raise money for and awareness of BC/EFA.

What kind of reaction did you get from the audience when you asked them to donate?

Our audience was incredibly generous and receptive to learning more about BC/EFA. Not only did we collect over $450 for BC/EFA in one night, but through material in all of our programs and a pre-show speech about BC/EFA from an esteemed Vanderbilt music professor, we did a lot to get BC/EFA's message out to our audience. For me, that's the most rewarding thing.

What is coming up for VOB for the rest of the semester?

In early April, we'll be putting on one of Nashville's first local productions of Spring Awakening, which is a thrill for us. We'll also be performing in several on-campus showcases throughout the spring, and there's a chance that we'll be performing parts of an original, student-written musical in mid to late April.

Photo by John Boyd

If you're in Nashville and want to check out a VOB show, you can see Spring Awakening on April 4, 5 and 6 at the Sarratt Student Center Cinema.  Performances are at 8 PM and are free for Vanderbilt undergrads.  All others pay $5.

"Love, Redefined" Tonight - New work based on traditional love poems

By Byrne Harrison

Poetic Theater Productions brings back it's popular Love, Redefined for a final salute the Valentine's season.

Expect to see some amazing work.

I spoke with Alex Mallory and Jeremy Karafin, Co-Artistic Directors of Poetic Theater Productions, about the production.

I understand the original Love, Redefined was Poetic Theater Productions' first show in 2010.  How did it come to be?

Alex: Jeremy moved to New York in 2009 and reconnected with former California poets Daniel Silber Baker, Edward McWilliams and Christine Hatch who introduced him to the New York poetry scene. In February of 2010, he recruited several of them to do a show that would provide an alternative to the traditional Valentine's Day commercialized concept of love. This seed of connection between poets and theater and the extremely positive feedback from both artists and audience launched the concept of Poetic Theater Productions, so Love, Redefined has a very special place in our company's history.

How has the show developed over the years?

Jeremy: We skipped Love, Redefined in 2011, when Alex came on board and we began a shift towards producing more theater, and brought it back in 2012 with the idea of using traditional sonnets as inspiration for new work. The unique thing about this event was that it offered the opportunity for actors to perform poetry - both classical and brand new, and create their own theatrical moments within it, in addition to the infusion of music, dance, multimedia and the fantastic Josh Henderson on hip-hop violin playing the transitions. 

We were so thrilled with the results that we decided to keep the structure this year and are thrilled to incorporate many of last year's artists performing new pieces as well as an incredible array of artists we have been wanting to work with and those new to our community.

How many artists will be participating in this year's version?

Alex: 42 artists performing 40 pieces including playwrights, poets, actors, singers, a dancer, a beatboxer and musicians on violin, guitar and ukulele

The artists will be performing original pieces based on poems by a variety of poets.  Who's work will be used for inspiration?

Jeremy: William Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda, John Donne, Ghandi, George Herbert, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and E. E. Cummings.  

What kind of audience are you looking for and what sort of reaction do you want from them?

Alex: There's something for everyone in this show - whether you love Shakespeare or think he is theater's most famous impostor, whether you're deeply in love or despise the word. We are looking for people who want to be inspired by the incredible wealth of talent this city has to offer and the funny and heartbreaking stories they have to tell. 

Poetic Theater Productions presents

Love, Redefined

Remixes, Re-imaginings and Riffs on Non-Commercial, Non-Traditional Love

Join us for a thrilling evening of familiar sonnets turned into original spoken word poetry, theater, dance and music!

featuring new work by
Mia Anderson, Scotty Arnold, Mickey Bolmer, Mahogany L. Browne, Darian Dauchan, Maurice DeCaul, Sarah Duncan, Safia Elhillo, Madeline Fendrick & Brian Peck, Kate Foster & Anna Gothard, Nicole Goodwin, Ish Islam, Joell Jackson, Ryan F Johnson, Kashi Johnson, Teniece Divya Johnson, David Trevor Lawson, Mary McCarthy, Margaret McCarthy, Christine J. Schmidt, Vassilea Terzaki, Tanaya Winder, Catherine Weingarten, and Donte Wright da Storyteller

based on traditional sonnets and love poems by William Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda, Ghandi, John Donne, George Herbert, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and e. e. cummings.

also featuring Jenny Aaron, Amanda Berry, Samantha Cooper, Dontonio Demarco, Karen Eilbacher, Kristen Islas, Wade Ray, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Temesgen Tocruray, Nabil ViƱas, Leal Vona and more!

with Josh Henderson on Hip Hop Violin and beats by Leal Vona

Wednesday, February 27 at 8PM
The Wild Project – 195 East 3rd Street

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"The Man Who Laughs" - A silent film brought to the stage

By Byrne Harrison
Photos by Carrie Leonard

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are so enthralled by something that you quit noticing time's passage?  I had one at the recent production of The Man Who Laughs, Stolen Chair's "silent film" version of Victor Hugo's novel "L'Homme qui rit."  From the moment I walked into the theatre to the sounds of the cool American songbook classics provided by Margi & The Dapper Dots, time seemed to pause.

The opening act, as good as it was, only hinted at what was to come.  The Man Who Laughs was a visual treat from start to finish, and Kiran Rikhye's adaptation was a wonderful surprise.

Gwynplaine (Noah Schultz as the young version and Dave Droxler as the adult version) was disfigured by criminals who wanted to force him into a sideshow act; his face is in a permanent grin.  Later abandoned by his abductors, he saves the life of a young blind girl, Dea (Molly O'Neill) and is taken in by a crotchety ventriloquist, Ursus (Jon Froehlich).  Dea and Gwynplaine join Ursus's ventriloquist act, a generally satisfying life.  But Gwynplaine wants more.  He rebels against constantly playing a grinning clown in Ursus's show.  He knows he can be taken seriously as a dramatic actor, if the audience just gets a chance to see him perform.

Naturally, things do not turn out as Gwynplaine hopes, and his foray into dramatic acting takes a tragic turn when he encounters the bored and decadent Duchess Josiana (played with Theda Bara sexiness by Rebecca Whitehurst) and her paramour Lord David Dirry-Moir (Raife Baker).  Repulsed and attracted by Gwynplaine's disfigurement, she attempts to seduce him.  It ends badly for everyone.

The story is melodramatic, but enjoyable.  The true strength of this production is the outstanding way that the director, designers and actors recreated the feeling of a silent film.  Julie Schworm's costumes and Jaclyn Schaefer's makeup recreated the sepia tones of old movies (extra praise for Schaefer's kewpie doll lips for Dea, a perfect touch).  Lighting effects by Daniel Winters and Michael Minahan's sets (especially his use of a scrim) helped create the grainy feel of old film.  Winters in particular used some marvelous lighting effects to create a stage equivalent of a tight closeup.  Eugene Ma's live music was the icing on the cake.

Stephanie Cox-Williams, one of the most creative visual effects designers working in the Off-Off Broadway community, created some excellent special effect makeup for the show.

The superb ensemble of actors adapted well to non-verbal performance.  Their use of exaggeration, large gestures, mime, broad physical comedy, and other techniques seemingly lost in modern film was excellent.

Jon Stancato's direction was strong, and his knowledge of the techniques of silent films showed through.  If there can be said to be anything that could use some tweaking, it would be that some of the set changes were overly long.  A very minor complaint.

I, for one, would love to see The Man Who Laughs have another run.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable production.

The Man Who Laughs
Written by Kiran Rikhye
Directed by Jon Stancato
Music by Eugene Ma
Set Design by Michael Minahan
Costume Design by Julie Schworm
Lighting Design by Daniel Winters
Dramaturgy by Emily Otto
Makeup by Jaclyn Schaefer
Special Makeup Effects by Stephanie Cox-Williams
Props & Graphic Design by Aviva Meyer
Fight Choreography by Noah Schultz
Stage Management by Colin Miller

Featuring: Noah Schultz (Young Gwynplaine), Jon Froehlich (Ursus), Dave Droxler (Gwynplaine), Molly O'Neill (Dea), Josiana (Rebecca Whitehurst), Raife Baker (David Dirry-Moir)

Closed Feb. 24th

Sunday, February 24, 2013

FRIGID New York Interview - Lucas Brooks of "VGL 5'4" Top"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Lucas Brooks
Show: VGL 5'4" Top

Lucas Brooks (Playwright/Performer) is a writer, performer, and sex educator living in Brooklyn. He holds a BA in The Arts from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, where he appeared in OperettaFirefall, and Love's Labours Lost, and directed The Vagina Monologues. His first one-man show, VGL 5'4" Top has been performed at the LGBT Community Center and the Stonewall Inn in New York City, as well as the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 2012. His second show, Fame Whore made its debut last summer at Dixon Place's HOT Festival. He is also the creator of the blog "Top to Bottom" where he analyzes gay culture and sexuality.

What’s your show about?

For starters, for those of you who don't speak gay hook-up lingo, let me break down the title of my show for you. "VGL" stands for 'very good looking.' 5'4" is clearly my height, and a 'top' is one who gives penetration in a  gay sexual situation. The show itself chronicles my struggle with body image throughout my many attempts at internet dating.

What inspired you to write it?

When I first moved to New York almost eight years ago, I dove right into true adulthood by taking up internet dating. I met some truly lovely men this way, but even more often I found myself being rejected, ignored, or flat-out insulted because the expectations men had of me didn't match the way I looked. Because I have this young face and boyish frame, guys assumed that I was an effeminate, dim-witted bottom boy. This still happens from time to time, and I've made it my mission to prove to the world, and the gay community in particular, that you can't fully know someone based on a few checked boxes. These are the guys who should know this better than anyone else, but in my experience they are often the guiltiest party.

Who else is involved with the show?

It's just me an my director, Matthew Klein. I write, perform, and produce the show, and he makes sure I look good doing it. He's had my back on this project from the very beginning and he's absolutely terrific.  We've both grown so much since the first production and I can't imagine a more perfect pair for a project like this.

Who is your dream audience for this show?

When I first wrote this show four years ago, I really wanted to lure in the men who inspired me to write it in the first place; the guys who for some reason couldn't fathom the fact that I might not be the twinky bottom they imagined I'd be. However, over the handful of productions I've done of this show, I've mostly attracted the eyes and ears of other men who have experienced the same pigeon-holing that I have. I am so glad to be able to inspire them and have their support. But…just once… I would like to perform to a crowd that really needs to hear what I'm saying. It would be terrifying and amazing.

Who are your biggest influences?

David Drake is the man who inspired me to pursue solo performance in the first place. I performed a selection from his one-man show "The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me" for Forensics in high school, and I knew that one day I wanted to create my generation's equivalent of that show.  "VGL" definitely is not that, but it's been a terrific start. I also draw inspiration from Alan Cumming and John Tartaglia, who are not only some of the most talented people on earth, in my book, but absolutely delightful men.

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

iMime, My Pussy's Purrin' Again, My BoX, JonBenet Ramsey: Murder Mystery Theater… just to name a few! I hope I get to see at least thrice as many as that. One of the best parts of doing a fringe festival is LOTS OF FREE THEATER!

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Later this year I'll be taking "VGL" to the University of Illinois for my first campus performance, which I'm super excited about, and in July I'll be performing in the Toronto Fringe Festival. Until then, New Yorkers can see me as a regular face in the burlesque circuit under the name of Lucky Charming. You ought to catch me amongst a huge flock of naked mens in the second annual New York Boylesque Festival on April 26th and 27th.

Lightning round

Paper or plastic? Reusable tote

Comedy or drama? Comedy

Beach or mountains? Beach

Black box or proscenium? I love both, but I'm going with proscenium because I'm a Leo and like big stages.

Glee or Smash? "Glee".

Cats or dogs? DOGS! Big, fluffy ones!

Musical or straight play? No disrespect to straight plays, but I'll usually choose a musical.

VGL 5'4" Top plays at The Red Room on the following dates:

Feb 26, 10:45PM
Mar 01, 10:50PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Bricken Sparacino of "Sisters Grimm: Fables of the Stage"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Bricken Sparacino
Show:  Sisters Grimm: Fables of the Stage

Bricken Sparacino is an award winning/nominated performer, writer and director. She was one of’s People of the Year ‘08.

You might recognize Bricken from last year's FRIGID “audience choice award winner” Death: it happens. A girls guide to death. Other highlights include: the two person show, MEDICATION for the NYC Fringe Festival which was selected by BACKSTAGE as a highlight for the theatre season. She was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical for her original character Cherry On Top (Planet Connections). Her first solo show, I’m Not Sure I Like the Way You Licked Me, was a great success. The Wonder Twin in Are We Freaks (Frigid Festival), Senior News Anchor in Weekly Review (Caroline’s Comedy Club), Natalie in Lenny Bruce Lives Inside My Shirt (NJ REP), The Crossing Guard in Respect the Vest (24 hour Play Fun), Bridgeet Lolalolalo in American Treacle (MITF). Bricken can be seen on the internet as part of the Key Of Awesome and’s Sci-fi department. She is proud to be a part of the Frigid again this year representing in two shows! Sisters Grimm: Fables of the Stage, began at 24 hour play fun and she is very happy it has grown to be a play. You can see more of her directing in 36 Hours at the UNDER St. Marks Theater. Go to to read more.

What’s your show about?

Our show is a comedy with hints of bed room farce about theater and fairy tales. We make fun of the genre and auditions and actors and what happens backstage.

What inspired you to create it?

Amy E. Witting and I both had 10 minute shows about fairy tales and the life of actors. We created them for the 24 hour Play Fun. I always loved both shows. They thematically fit together, but were only 20 minutes together. I challenged myself to expand my section (Pointy the Starfish) and Sisters Grimm was born. We pull inspiration from our own lives as performer/writers and I also take things from my day job working at the Central Park Zoo's touring children's theater company.

Who else is involved with the show?

We have a fantastic cast of 7 hilarious actors: Elisabeth Furtado, Brandon Schraml, Bill Bria, Derby Thomas, Adam Sullivan, Lori Kee and I'm in it too. We have two great composers we worked with to create the musical life of the show: Ethan Bailey and Eric Chercover. Elizabeth Chaney's Set Design and Starfish costume put the finishing touches to the production. Lori and I are co-directing, so someone is keeping an eye on both of us. 

Who is your dream audience for this show?

People who love to laugh. 

Who are your biggest influences?

The ladies of Absolutely Fabulous and real life.

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

36 Hours by Amy E. Witting, Two Lovely Black Eyes by Chris Harcum, My Box, written and performed by Killy Dwyer and The Spectator & The Blind Man by Dr ML Godin.

What's next for you after FRIGID? 

I'm working with Gregory Levine for the Mini-Frigid in the summer. It will be a one-man show (mostly) about Gregor of Berlin. The play will be a tragicomedy, both with absurdly big laughs and heart-breaking poignance, arrogance and sorrow, as various segments come together to spin the tale of his journey from Berlin to Paris to NYC. Or something like that. 

Lightning round

Paper or plastic? Paper- don't forget to recycle

Comedy or drama? Both

Beach or mountains? BEACH

Black box or proscenium? Black Box

Glee or Smash? I plead the 5th

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Musical or straight play? Straight play 

Sisters Grimm: Fables of the Stage plays at The Kraine Theater on the following dates:

Feb 26, 7:05PM
Mar 02, 2:05PM
Mar 03, 5:15PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Karim Muasher of "The Vindlevoss Family Circus Spectacular!"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Karim Muasher

Karim Muasher is a director, performer, and teacher of original devised theatre.  His work has been seen at venues all over the world, from the London Sprint Festival to the PUNCH Puppet Slam in New York.  He currently teaches at both Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Brooklyn College Community Partnership.  A graduate of the London International School of Performing Arts, he trained under pedagogues Thomas Prattki and Amy Russell.

What’s your show about?

It’s about a mustachioed lady Professor Penelope Vindlevoss and her domesticated zombie Edward putting on a circus all by themselves.  And what it means to be human.

What inspired you to create it?

I discovered on Halloween that I loved wearing fake teeth and pretending to be a silly zombie. My collaborator Carrie came up with Professor Vindlevoss as a way to complement that character.  And she looks great in a mustache.  At the same time we were watching the documentary “Circus” on PBS, and found that whole world fascinating.  Mix all that together and POOF! a show is born.

Who else is involved with the show?

It’s me, my collaborator Carrie Brown, and our director Mark Gindick.  Mark is the latest addition to the team, and he brings a lot of experience to the show from clowning with both Ringling Bros. and the Big Apple Circus.

Who is your dream audience for this show?

Parents with their kids.  Teenagers.  People in their 20’s.  We’ve gotta create the next generation of theatregoers.

Who are your biggest influences?

I grew up with my eyes glued to the TV.

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup.  Everyone who’s seen her has told me she’s fantastic.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

It’s onward and upward to our next two person show, Petunia and Chicken.  It’s going to be an epic love story set against the backdrop of a Willa Cather inspired world of cornfields and Czech accents.  We think.

Lightning round

Paper or plastic? Paper.  Does anyone ever answer plastic?

Comedy or drama? Comedy-drama.

Beach or mountains? Beach AND mountains.

Black box or proscenium? Black box, baby.  It’s all I know.

Glee or Smash? Smash. So much drama!

Cats or dogs? Cats AND dogs.

Musical or straight play? Play with music.

TheVindlevoss Family Circus Spectacular! plays at UNDER St. Marks on the following dates:

Feb 27, 10:15PM
Mar 01, 5:30PM
Mar 02, 6:50PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Seth Lepore of "Losing My Religion"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Seth Lepore

Seth Lepore (Writer/Performer) holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, focus: Creativity in Education from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. Since 1996 he has created several self-produced one-man shows. I am not Fragile: A Confessional (1996); 5 Perspectives on Public High School (1997); Jobs Galore (1998) which was performed in tandem with a one-act play entitled Versus which Lepore wrote and directed. Two Minutes to Midnight (1999) was the last monologue Lepore performed before taking a ten year break to focus on several music collaborations especially his solo project Older Than Hours.

In 2010 he embarked on a parallel trilogy of solo shows about the underbelly of the self-help movement. The first installment, Losing My Religion: Confessions of a New Age Refugee, has been self-produced in black box theaters and fringe festivals throughout the country. The show won an Encore Award at both the Boulder and Minnesota Fringe Festivals as well as being named one of the top ten plays of 2011 by the Twin Cities Daily Planet. The second part of the trilogy, SuperHappyMelancholyexpialidocious premiered in the Spring of 2012. Kicking Ass and Taking Names, the third part of the installment is in development for 2014.

Lepore also tours War/Peace, a weeklong installation and participatory performance project involving community members throughout the United States. 

What’s your show about?

A hysterical romp through America's spiritual enterprise exploring the blurry line between self-help and faith.

What inspired you to write it?

I was entrenched in the new age/self-help world for over a decade. Even though I was always cynical about the results I finally saw that the dogma was just as rigid as any extreme religious movement so I decided to make a whole trilogy of shows about it. This one is the first in the series.

Who else is involved with the show?

Thomas Griffin directed it.

Who is your dream audience for this show?

Anyone who considers themselves a secular Humanist, agnostic, questioner, skeptic and/or recovering fill-in-the-blank is perfect for this show.

Who are your biggest influences?

Mike Daisey, Spaulding Gray, a bunch of people no one has ever heard about but will sooner or later.

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

All of them.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

I'm doing a residency of War/Peace in Easthampton, MA. It's a participatory installation which examines our ideologies and belief systems around these two concepts.

Lightning round

Paper or plastic? Paper.

Comedy or drama? Comedy.

Beach or mountains? Beach.

Black box or proscenium? Black Box.

Glee or Smash? Glee.

Cats or dogs? Dogs.

Musical or straight play? Neither.

Losing My Religion:Confessions of a New Age Refugee plays at The Red Room on the following dates:

Feb 26, 9:10PM
Feb 28, 7:35PM
Mar 01, 9:15PM
Mar 02, 3:10PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Molly Ballerstein of "The Sandman's Coming"

By Byrne Harrison

Name:  Molly Ballerstein

Molly is a proud member of Brain Melt Consortium and very happy to be debuting her first conceived/created work in New York with the Frigid Festival. New York credits include: Smacker and the Highway (Planet Connections Festival), Daughters of Lot (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Frigid Festival), Stein/Holum's Chimera (Under the Radar Festival), Anna Fishbeyn's Sex In Mommyville (The Museum of Motherhood). In addition to directing, her design work has been seen at premieres in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as Boston's New Repertory Theater. Molly received her B.A. in Theatrical Production at Northeastern University. Thank you to the entire team and my friends for all your support in making this happen!

What’s your show about?

The Sandman’s Coming is about one man’s journey to separate his addiction from his identity. The story is told with flashbacks fading between dreamlike and authentic, familiar and outlandish.  While his physical memory unfolds before us on stage, we are hearing an interview about the experience of being an addict. The story weaves dance, multi-media, and text into an entanglement  

What inspired you to write and direct it?

I was inspired to write and direct The Sandman’s Coming after many run-ins with addiction. Family, friends, and even I have faced how addition attaches itself to your identity and the consequences it can have on relationships. I am always intrigued to work on a story that serves as an exploration of an experience and this piece has helped me to explore the links between addiction and identity.

Who else is involved with the show?

The team for The Sandman’s Coming is a mix of people from those that I have worked with and taught me about theatrical tech in college to current college students. The acting team consists of Anya Gibian, Nelson Patino Jr, and Lantie Tom.  Dede Booth, Dana Boll,  Dan Lance, Tony Lepore, Joel Rudzinski, Rachel Kerry, and Kristin Dwyer make up the rest of the production team.

Who is your dream audience for this show?

My dream audience for The Sandman’s Coming is broken down into two groups; the first is adults that have had addiction affect them. The second is young adults and teenagers that (although also could have dealt with this already) are coming to an age where friends and loved ones  are more prone to becoming addicts.

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest inspirations and influences in the theatre world right now are Deborah Stein and Suli Holum of Stein/Holum Projects. I have been blessed to work with them on one show in the past and am continuously inspired and impressed by their work.

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

I have collaborated before with the writer of The Dreamer and the Acrobat so I’m looking forward to seeing her piece.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

After FRIGID I am working with Writopia Lab. Writopia Lab is a writing school for children age 6 - 18 which produces plays written by its students.

Lightning round

Paper or plastic? Paper

Comedy or drama? Drama

Beach or mountains? Beach

Black box or proscenium? Black box

Glee or Smash? Smash

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Musical or straight play? Straight Play

The Sandman's Coming plays at UNDER St. Marks on the following dates:

Feb 27, 5:30PM
Feb 28, 8:40PM
Mar 02, 2:05PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Yanomi of "A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup"

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Richard Hanna

Name: Yanomi

Yanomi was a member of the Ryuzanji Company, a performance troupe which has created a wide variety of theater works that have been performed in Japan as well as in such countries as Canada, Russia, Iran, Europe, and many other Asian countries.

She utilized her vast theater experience and formed Shoshinz, with her theater partner Kuronatsu, and together they started out at a small bar in Tokyo. She has studied classic and contemporary dance, tap dance, classic music (opera singing) as well to develop her skill to  express her own unique fantasy world. 

Yanomi has a strong desire to cross over genres, and has therefore created a truly unique show which has a fearless mix of bizarre antics. She performed with her partner tirelessly at bars, live music venues, club events, parties, schools, theaters, and also on the street. After four-and-ahalf years, she had embarked on a solo career.

Regardless of age or gender or nationality, audience members are always pleasantly surprised and delighted when they watch Yanomi's show. And most people come away from it unable to find the words to describe exactly what they have seen!

What’s your show about?

The mysterious Miss Hiccup lives alone, but is definitely not lonely. She is forever
accompanied by a raucous cast of sounds and music that make her life an absurd adventure.

What inspired you to create it?

I love the small funny things in my life, small beauty in the world, music, and sounds around us.

Who else is involved with the show?

Composer Shunji Nakamachi, Costume & Eyelashes VIVID VI-VRANT, Make-UP Kengo Kuramochi

Who is your dream audience for this show?

My mother.

Who are your biggest influences?

Michael Ende

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

My Three Moms, My Pussy is Purrin’ Again, My BoX and as many as I can!

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Performing in Czech Republic, in Tokyo, and Fringe Circuit in this summer.

Lightning round

Paper or plastic?  Either.

Comedy or drama? Both.

Beach or mountains? Beach.

Black box or proscenium? Black box.

Glee or Smash? Neither.

Cats or dogs? Both!

Musical or straight play? Straight play.

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup plays at The Red Room on the following dates:

Feb 27, 9:10PM
Mar 02, 7:55PM
Mar 03, 6:20PM

FRIGID New York Interview - D'yan Forest of "My Pussy is Purrin' Again!"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: D'yan Forest

D’yan Forest (actor/writer/producer), 78 years young, has been lighting up audiences for over seven decades.  She started early with piano, then ukulele, moved onto trumpets, drums, and the glockenspiel.  Her music took her on global performances in Paris, Israel and Greece.  After returning to the states, this native Boston girl moved to New York City, and has made a successful career singing in 9 languages in the tri-state area: Waldorf, Plaza, and Park Lane among others.

In addition to national commercials and international print campaigns, her credits include “Gigi,” “Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral,” and Shaw’s, “The Music Cure.”  Her principal role as the mother in “Soldier’s Heart,” has been screened in numerous film festivals throughout the world.  She’s branched into a new career as a ukulele playing comedian appearing at the Gotham, Comix, Carolines Comedy Club, the Duplex, and the Metropolitan Room.

What’s your show about?

The power of love.  And that it's amazed me to see how people will deprive themselves the power of love, especially as they age.  As time passes I’ve become acutely aware of the lies we tell ourselves in order to get the love we long for, even if it is not the love that feeds our soul.  I wanted to share the comedy, candor and complexities of my bi-attractions that are explored with humor and pathos in a show.  And I do it with comedy and song, playing the ukelele, the trumpet and the glockenspiel. 

What inspired you to write it?

I always wanted to share the unusual adventures from my attractions and first sexual stirrings starting in my bunk at Camp Takawalananakiki, that have taken me across the Atlantic to the smoke-filled clubs of gay Paris.  It's almost like educating people that sex is something ongoing and long lasting. 

Who else is involved with the show?

Stephen Jobes is my right-hand as co-writer and director.  There's my assistant director Meghan Kennedy, and production manager Andrew Alton.

Who is your dream audience for this show?

Anybody walking!

Who are your biggest influences?

Joan Rivers and Ethel Merman.  

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

A Day in the life of Miss Hiccup - she's great.  And My Three Moms. 

What's next for you after FRIGID?

The Orlando Fringe Festival in May.   

Lightning round

Paper or plastic?  Paper

Comedy or drama?  Comedy

Beach or mountains?  Mountains 

Black box or proscenium?  Proscenium 

Glee or Smash?  Smash

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Musical or straight play? Musical

My Pussy is Purrin' Again! plays at UNDER St. Marks on the following dates:

Feb 26, 5:30PM
Mar 01, 8:40PM
Mar 03, 6:50PM