Photo by Don Kellogg

Saturday, December 29, 2007


OK, if you're a Monty Python Fan - that goes a long way to enjoying Spamalot. However, as I've seen before, once a play gets "old", you are on the 16th cast change, the director is long gone, the producers are no where to be found and the stage manager is running the show - this is what you get. Garbage-a-lot!

My friend commented during the show - "This won the Tony? I guess it was not up against much competition in 2005!". (for the record it was up against Spelling Bee, Light in the Piazza, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). I see the attempt at humor - it's clever in concept, yes. Act II much more so than Act I, for sure. Plenty of marginally funny and stale one-liners abound. The plot is thin, to say the least. Even the "Python-esque" fun and frolicking seems muted and lethargic.

Well - let's look back at the point of this show - - Put on a low budget looking (they spent $11m, by the way) show that perpetuates and extends the cultural phenomenon of Monty Python: The Holy Grail. Entice a new theater audience, perhaps? Have these people gone on to be inspired by the performance and see other deeper shows? (there couldn't be any less deeper shows). I think not.

Lest not we mention the current day annoying, dumb, and culture-less tourists that packed the theater. The requisite gay jokes got many-a-laugh. Of course they would. The mostly white, homophobic, middle American, suburban seat-fillers who paid upwards of $200 for a mezzanine ticket (see, i told you they were stupid) seemed more than willing to accept what they saw as "good theater". Again, I think not.

Let's just say that there are some good "theater" jokes in the book - (of course there would be, it's a Broadway musical!) - but not a one of the idiots that packed the theater laughed at the Wicked parody, the West Side Story music, or the Company spoof. At least the parents (not the kids) got the Fiddler joke - i mean it was a whole scene - how could they miss it?! And then there were all the references to popular culture. They had a big long reference to Senator Craig and the bathroom stall scandal. I think it took a full 5 minutes for the morons (or is that Mormons?) in the audience to get it!! And at that, they didn't like it much. ("He's not gay, you know").

I'm not a Monty Python fan - but let's just say I was less than pleased with what i found both on stage and in the audience at the Shubert Theater. I was right to not see this in 2005 and wrong to see it now.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I wasn't sure from the hype exactly what kind of play this would be. His last play, Butley, was a serious drama - so what's a boy to think?! Well, after about the first 3 minutes - it's clear - David Mamet has penned a stinging romp - an indictment of current public policy and politics in general. Only a little "potty mouth" this time, however. (Mamet is known for his extreme language). Nathan Lane, Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) and Dylan Baker (Mauritius, et al) have a grand ol' time on stage - you can tell. Just don't try to take this one too seriously - at all. Enjoy it for what it is.

Nathan Lane, the unpopular, dumb, and scheming president (remind you of anyone these days?) needs money for his presidential library - or to get re-elected (anything is possible with money and media). Dylan Baker is his trusted advisor (the only one apparently) and straight man to Lane. Laurie Metcalf plays his brilliant lesbian speech writer. They all get tangled up in issues (and laughs) around gay marriage, Indian reservations, gambling, special interests (the turkeys), and political issues and gaffs galore!

As you would expect, Lane aptly harpoons each topic with his natural comic genius. Act II was clearly funnier than Act I - plenty more of the requisite "gay jokes". There's so much farce here, it really precludes any long term teeth the show might have. It's topical and relevant to this current time. I guess we'll see in 20 years if the show can be revived and if it will need any updating or the same issues will persist!

Right time - the presidential electoral cycle in full swing; Right people - comic trio reminds you of presidents, advisers, and cabinet members current and past; Right niche - go for broke with the farce. Anything less would have required a whole lot more pomp and circumstance to execute. Go for a big belly laugh.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pied a Terre

Welcome to the next installment of a Lifetime Television Movie off- Broadway! In two acts we manage to fade in and out of two times in the melodrama of Julia, Jack, and Katie's lives.

Here goes the summary. Act I: Daddy (50 years old) picks up teenage hooker and keeps her at his NYC Peid-a-Terre. Teenage hooker falls in love with him because he is taking care of her. Daddy doesn't touch her (something must be up). Mommy shows up and is greeted by girl and pretends to be daddy's brother to find out why she's there. Blah... Blah.... Blah... Act II. We come to learn Daddy is dead. Mommy and Daddy both are carriers of a gene for Cystic Fibrosis and had a daughter who died of it. (could daddy be re-creating the daughter he never had?). Think so? Well, flash to last scene - where mommy tells daddy that she really did have another daughter with daddy when they were dating but gave her up for adoption. Daddy wants to find her. Mommy doesn't. In a final scene of rapid flashbacks and time shifts- we learn that Daddy actually did find said daughter (Ala the teen hooker he picked up not to screw but to surprise mommy with after a few months of "polishing her up) but Mommy showed up and figures it out herself but it's too late - Daddy is dead. Oh brother!

So goes another episode of "The Stomach Turns". Seriously - pretty decent acting - and i swear with a drink in her hand, Sue Ellen Ewing could have played the role. Check out the melodrama at the Kirk Theater on 42nd Street.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Farnsworth Invention

"The turning point of the 20th century wasn't on television. It was television". So goes the "grab" for this play at the lovely Music Box Theater on West 45th.

Jimmy Simpson and Hank Azaria bring the little-known drama and conflict over who invented the television to the Broadway stage. Clearly is was Philo T. Farnsworth... or was it Vladimir Zworykin who stole it from Farnsworth and worked for David Sarnoff at the Radio Corporation of America? Two acts later, the full story is revealed - and you find out the truth... or do you?

As critics will tell you, Aaron Sorkin (creator of The West Wing) has taken some liberties with this play - altering some facts, revealing to you at various points that he has; not telling you about altering others.

My bottom line is that this play was a drama meant to entertain. David Sarnoff says at the beginning of Act I, "The ends justify the means. What else are the means for?" Sorkin seems to do the same. Walking out of the theater, the result is the same - you understand that Sarnoff is credited with the invention of the TV and Farnsworth is a nobody regardless of a few altered facts. Along the way the audience is treated to the the lives, loves, and obsessions of both men in a way that only Sorkin could present - suburb, tight, fast-paced and intelligent dialogue.

Not a moment of "dead air" on stage - Simpson and Azaria couldn't be a better pair of adversaries - Top notch. The Tony nod should be headed their way. Only one of them can win. Perhaps another drama will ensue. Only time will tell.

Check out Philo T. Farnsworth on "I've Got A Secret" - 1957

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn

A Sunday night delight! Not so much a musical as it was a musical review. The evening consisted of a single 90 minute act of non-stop singing by 4 super talented actors - Sandy Binion, DB Bonds, Adam Heller, Sally Wilfert - all accompanied by Darren R. Cohen on the Piano.

The musical selection was broad - from all aspects of William Finn's repertoire - which included, of course, a Falsetto's Suite, but interestingly enough, nothing from Spelling Bee. Surprisingly, (to me anyway) William Finn wrote quite a few songs for shows that never quite happened. I was also intrigued at the fact that most of his melodies are fluffy and rhyme filled but have deceptively deep lyrics and meaning. The man behind the curtain put a lot of thought into what he was writing. It struck me when leaving that i somehow wished i had heard more of his songs in the shows he intended. One thing's for sure - I will definitely go see Falsettos the next time it comes around.

Following along the program, the audience was able to read a little blurb about each song - it's origin or meaning or little known fact or two. My favorites included Change (a double entendre about "coins for the poor" and "a desire to improve life"); Stupid Things I Won't Do (it was written for Elaine Stritch); and Mister, Make Me A Song (unbenounced to Mandy Patinkin, it was written for him).

Set Those Sails for the New World Stages and enjoy the Music of William Finn. He's always on stage watching over you!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Die Mommie Die!

Charles Busch wrote and directed this comedy-thriller. As Angela Arden, an aging and washed up singer and actress, Thru little gestures, voices, and tell tale phrases, Angela evokes stars of the golden era - Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Tallulah Bankhead - and more! And the wig she wears smacks of Lucille Ball! It also doesn't hurt that Bootsie (Kristine Nielsen) - the housekeeper looks and sounds like Ethel Mertz!!

It's quite a farce - but a classic romp, nonetheless. Set in what could only be called a classic Beverly Hills home, Angela Arden has two kids (Lance and Edith) both of whom have deep emotional issues - presumably from being raised by Angela! Lance (with or without his short shorts and shirt off) is a dreamboat (Van Hansis - the gay teen on As The World Turns). Bob Ari aptly plays the mega-Hollywood movie producer in debt to the mob- Sol Sussman. His image brings to mind Mr. Goldwyn or Mr. Mayer.

All around it's a murder mystery with a B-Movie ending. The "bad" acting is on purpose - and you don't mind it for a minute. You are there for camp - and camp you get! The mere budget for the glam hostess dresses and "a few very important peices of jewelry" Angela appears in must be half the show's budget alone!

For a night of comedy-noir just stroll on over to see Charles and the entire cast ham it up in this one act treat!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is He Dead?

Norbert Leo Buts - in Drag?! How could you go wrong?!! This romp at the Lyceum theater is a belly- laugh evening at the theater. Written by Mark Twain in 1898 , but apparently not published until discovered in 2002! It's lighter than most of his works - but what a treat!
The basic premise is the question of value. An artist's work tends to be worth nothing during his life - but becomes the "hottest" thing once he's dead. So let's see - - what could an artist do to change that? Hmmm... maybe fake his death, have his friends sell all his works at a premium price and then they all live happily ever after?! Voila! They've figured it out.

A great supporting cast - but Norbert (especially as his twin sister!) is a trip! He appears to be having fun the entire show. It brought to mind the days of the Carol Burnett show - watching Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, and Carol Burnett try to crack each other up on stage.
Don't miss this Winter treat!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Overwhelming

This powerful and educational performance is not to be missed. The subject is Africa - Rwanda circa 1994 to be exact. It's a reminder of all we Americans don't know, don't pay attention to, and/or don't care about. It's a perspective on the culture, the violence and the civil war that the rest of the world has either been involved with or known about for a long time. It's a powerful indictment of the American "know it all" culture.

Who is at fault? Who is telling the truth? What, if anything, can we do about it? Should we even be doing anything about it? Why should we think we can do anything about it?

Don't miss this performance at the Laura Pels Theater on 46th.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bingo with the Indians

A new play - written and directed by Adam Rapp at The Flea. It features the BATS - the theater company renowned for good acting and non-payment for said services!

Well - if you were going to like this play - you'd say "edgy, angst ridden and raw". It would certainly be well situated in an off-off Broadway theater - far from a commercial audience! If you took a less appreciative view of the work, you might say "self indulgent, pointless, and gratuitous".

I'm somewhere in between. Certainly the actors put on a fine (if not over the top) portrayal of their characters - who by the way are a band of not-so-mainstream actors from an east village theater company (um.. could it be the Bats themselves?) who take a road trip to a New Hampshire motel to ultimately make a heist at the local Bingo game, frequented mostly by the local Indian tribe. If you think that is odd - throw in a young skinny kid living at the motel with his strange mother, a "first time" gay sexual experience, a gun, a girl with lots of piercings, a huge bag of cocaine a fatal flashlight beating and an otherworldly Indian spirit with a drum.

The story is odd, to say the least. The actors jump in head first and provide a powerful performance. I'm just not so sure that the story makes sense. It's a jumble of drugs, violence, social commentary, and weird people. Maybe it's reality. I'm not sure.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Rise of Dorothy Hale

What an amaxing untold story up to this point. Myra Bairstow, the playwright explores the lives, loves, and conflicts surrounding Dorothy Hale. I kept waiting for Jessica Fletcher to stand up in the audience and and solve the whole case! (for the record she did not, and nor was she in the audience).

Dorothy Hale was a widow, a pawn in a game of New York society power-brokers, and was dating a potential candidate for president of the United States. You might expect that her death could occur under suspicious circumstances. A true story that unfolded right here in New York City at the Hampsire House on Central Park South!

Did she jump from her 16th floor window or was she pushed? If so, who did it? Solid performances by the entire cast. The play will leave you yearning to know more about artist Freida Kahlo as well as the whole affair of Dorothy's death.

See if you can solve the mystery - check it out at the St Luke's Theater.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Doris to Darlene - A Cautionary Valentine

Jordan Harrison is cute - and by the way - he has written a gem which is now playing at Playwrights Horizons . Doris to Darlene, a cautionary valentine is delightful. It requires little advance explanation except to say that Jordan has penned a tale in which music, art and love transcends 3 different eras.

It's told to you like a story - often in the 3rd person - from the perspective of 3 seemingly very different young boys and girls. Wagner and King Ludwig II (the 1800's) , Doris (Darlene) and Vic Watts (1960's) and Mr. Campani and "Young Man" in classroom (current).

What on earth could these people have in common? You guessed it - Music! Each story for it's own era has a different twist but music and love and art permeate each. Young King Ludwig II (Laura Heisler) funded the older Wagner's (David Chandler) musical endeavors (Operas) and was deeply affected and influenced by the deep emotions and splendor he created. Doris, or Darlene as she became, ( de'Adre Aziza) was a creation of Vic Watts (Michael Crane) a "Phil Spector like" music exec in the 1960's. In this story we see a glimpse into the all too familiar story of a young black girl brought to overnight fame by a high flying music exec who fell in love with his client (or was it her music?). Lastly, we witness a young, gay high school boy coming of age (Tobias Segal) who becomes infatuated with his music teacher - a complex older gay gentleman with his own set of issues and desires (Tom Nelis).

Two acts - one hour each. Act I could probably be a bit shorter and crisper - which would make Act II even better. By far Act II is where the story unfolds and the dots are connected on the brilliantly designed ever circulating set (just like a spinning record) among the 3 stories.

Get out your running shoes out. This gem is not to be missed!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


This tour-de-force is packed onto a stark glass stage with only 3 metal chairs at Manhattan Theater Club Stage II. Written by emerging Irish playwright Abbie Spallen, the story unfolds in rural Ireland where where 3 lives begin to collide.
A young tomboy-ish gas pump girl (Hannah Cabell) gets tangled up with a local race car driver and his friends and ultimately his children. At the same time, the race car driver's unhappy and disenchanted wife manages to get equally tangled up with the same friends. As their rough and raw lives collide, the crescendo of the drama unfolds - with tragic consequences for all in the end.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I have to say that Spain was the most abstract play that I have seen in a while. I have even read a few reviews after seeing it and I wonder if they give the same performance each night at the Lucille Lortell Theater! Hallucination? Dreams? Desires? Simmering emotions below the surface? What exactly was this play about?
Annabella Sciorra did hold command of the stage in this rather bizarre tale. and the fine support of Veanne Cox and Lisa Kron (in yet another bizarre role) certainly helped to keep us from walking out.
You start off in a living room. A virile Spanish conquistador appears (why, we don't know), her friend and her boss keep calling and asking her to come back to work, she kills her cheating husband with the warrior's sword (or was it a kitchen knife?), the police arrest her. End of Act I (OK, I'm lost). But it only gets worse! Act II we start off in jail with her lawyer, then we are transported to Spain and the conquistador it turns out was a fake. He's a tender loving (virgin) farmer! (why, we don't know). She deflowers him. She phases in and out of jail and Spain - and when back in Spain her friend appears again- -in Spain her husband, who has come back to life kills the farmer (conquistador previously!).
What is all this supposed to mean? Don't ask me - or anyone else in the already sparcely filled theater seen leaving shaking their heads in bewilderment! Check out the Peruvian restaurant across the street - it made it all better again!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Broadway Sings the Phone Book

Since Broadway is on Strike and I lost my tickets to see a show tonight - I found free tickets to this little ditty - turns out it was a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Hosted by Tony award winner, Julie White, it was cute, silly, and entertaining. Based on the old adage - "Oh, he's so dreamy - he could sing the phone book to me and I'd love it"

Well they did - and it was. Now let's hope this strike is over soon!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Edge, a one woman show at the 45 Bleaker Theater, is possibly the best off-Broadway show that I have this year! Angelica Torn portrays Sylvia Plath, a brilliant writer and poet who led a brief and tragic life.

Two acts and over 2 hours on a small stage, we see the tragic life of Sylvia Plath unfold before us - as told by Sylvia from her own perspective. This story is about details. Each movement, word, and gesture had meaning and Angelica executed each with aplomb. I agree with the critics on one point - and that is that it bordered on melodrama upon occasion. I honestly could not tell if that was Sylvia herself or Angelica. I bet it's a little of both.

Check out this rare treat downtown. And don't forget to take in a bite to eat at one of my favorite places afterwards - The Noho Star!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Straight from the creators of De La Guarda comes FuerzaBruta - a visual, sensory overload. Lights, acrobatics, massive props, and water are all part of the experience at the Daryl Roth Theater on Union Square. No Seats. No Playbill (until you're on the way out).

The spectacle seems a bit "been there, done that". It's fun. It's certainly aimed at the younger audience - club music and the sexually charged environment is brilliant theater - and not theater at all both at the same time.

This show carries the message of brute force (hence the name). How does life treat us? Knocks us down. Flattens us out. Lifts us up again only for another round of beatings. I got it, but it seemed a bit obvious.

The actors were all tremendously talented (and risk takers!). The water scene was an awesome site to see as the entire ceiling lowered. Unlike De La Guarda this performance herds the audience around the room as the huge props and scenery are moved around. Like De La Guarda, there is a bit of audience participation if you want it. And the sexy, horny, charged up audience members (read kids) all have the chance to cool off under the "rain" at the end.

Spectacular. Done before. Too short (where were the men in 3 of the 5 scenes?). I think they could have done more with the premise to really "wow" the audience.
Do me a favor - see it with someone you like. Have fun. Get Wet. And go home all charged up and see where it leads!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cyrano de Bergerac

David Leveaux hit a perfect note with this latest production of Edmond Rostand's 1897 romantic classic. Most of us will recall the modern movie rendition, Roxanne, which stared Steve Martin. The story is basically the same - just a more distant time and setting.

Based on a true story, Cyrano de Bergerac is a tale of romance and tragedy. The soulful philosopher and brilliant swordsman Cyrano (Kevin Kline) falls for the beautiful and headstrong strong Roxane (Jennifer Garner), but is too ashamed of his looks (he has a huge honker nose!) to tell her. Instead, when he learns that she loves the very handsome Christian de Neuvillette (Daniel Sunjata), he writes poems and love letters to Roxane on Christian's behalf. Where might this one lead?

Tony award winning performance by both Jennifer Garner and Kevin Klein. The direction, lighting, mood, and flow of the show was magnificent. The entire cast contributed to a wonderful evening of theater.

Look for this one to receive several Tony nods! Run... don't walk....

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Late in his life, William Shakespeare started writing works for indoor performance with "modern" stages. Well, i think he also lost his touch a bit with this one. At Lincoln Center this season at the Vivian Beaumont Theater he seemed to throw in everything in his bag of tricks - - an evil woman marries the king just to get her son to be next in line to the throne - an old man reveals that he stole the king's two sons years ago - and those two sons (um, gorgeous!) saved the kingdom - - the king's daughter (Imogen) takes a vow of celibacy since he won't let her be with the man she married because he's a commoner - - this very same man is approached by this hunky man (shirt off in the baths was a nice touch) who bet him he could get his still wife to betray him and let him, shall we say, bang her - - he in turn tricks the woman and does not get in her pants, but steals her ring and watches her sleep -- so he tells the husband he won - which causes the husband to cast her off and hate her.... and on... and on... and on... there is a war with the Romans... poison potions... battles in the woods.... death... and that's only act I. Act II rounded out the performance in just about 3 hours. Oh brother!

Unremarkable performances by Felicia Rachad as the queen and John Cullum as the king (he's lost under all the King's Robes). Michael Ceveris (deceived commoner husband) and John Pankow (his devoted man-servant) hold the stage, but the story deals them a raw deal. Martha Plimpton, last seen in another LCT production (The Coast of Utopia) gave a valiant effort in a touch, gender-bending role.

Who knew Shakespeare wrote for As the World Turns?! Do me a favor - stick to Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Receptionist

Occasionally, it happens. I see a play and walk out with a totally different perspective than Ben Brantly, Charles Isherwood, and the other critics. They loved it.
Don't get me wrong - Jane Houdyshell is pitch-perfect in her portrayal of every one's favorite admin in the office - she comes and goes like the Swiss railroad, she guards her pens, chitty-chats with the staff and her friends and family all day on the phone while allowing occasional work task to creep in, throws the un-wanted callers into voicemail for the boss, and keeps a watchful eye over the comings and goings in the entire office.

Other than the bright spot of Jane - this play was a disaster. The first scene took 10 minutes to unfold - and went nowhere. You had no idea what Robert Foxworth is talking about.

Then the next 50 minutes were spend watching meaningless and pointless conversations take place and leave you asking after over an hour - - "Where is this thing going"? You are supposed to infer after a while that some form of futuristic torture is in play.

Not even in the final 15 minutes to they even get to the point. And then - after you finally convince yourself that you were right in your vague assumption thus far, the play ends!! What becomes of our favorite admin? You can only assume her dark fate.

You never saw the boss again. You find out the other co-worker ran away. And you come to learn that that the "Northeast Office" and the "Central Office" are nothing more than a proxy for the CIA... or the FBI... of some vague combination of Abu-Garave in Iraq.
I'm sorry Ben, Charles, and all the others who loved it. I think you may have dozed off and got the funny lines in the beginning and the "dramatic" ending. I couldn't even bring myself to clap at the end. Mostly because the person next to me asked two or three times in the dark "is that it"?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Ritz

Terrance McNally took on a controversial topic in 1975 on Broadway with the debut of The Ritz - a gay bathhouse! Well in 2008, it's not quite the same "gasp" from the audience regarding the topic. The movie was made shortly following the Broadway debut - staring Rita Moreno and Jerry Stiller. Coming back to Broadway in 2008 we find Kevin Chamberlain and Rosie Perez headlining the show.

Well - it's funny. And the shirtless young boys roving around the clever multi-level bathhouse set certainly hold your eye. But the show more reminded me of a marginal episode of Three's Company or Laverne and Shirley.

I did also enjoy the cabaret performances- which i have come to understand are meant to remind you of the starts to the careers of such singers at Bette Midler at the Continental Baths. Notwithstanding the farcical plot, I'd advise getting a discount ticket to see it. It's worth some moderate price just to make eye contact with one of the boy-babes roaming in and out of the steam room.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Speach & Debate

A new "cutting edge" oriented space opened this month at the Roundabout. Speech and Debate, a new play by Stephen karam, christened the space. The new space is a new initiative by Roundabout to cultivate new works by emerging playwrights by giving them the opportunity to present their works as "full scale" productions with all the resources that the Roundabout organisation can bring to the table.
Speech and Debate stars 3 up-and-coming actors - Gideon Glick, Jason Fuchs, and Sarah Steele. They portray 3 not-so-average teens in school who are all linked indirectly to a sex scandal. They bond together for various reasons to form a Speech and Debate club to express their ideas. The play is actually presented in the various segments that align to the categories of classic speech and debate. Gideon plays a gay teen who is out, but doesn't want to bring the story to light to cause himself any embarrassment. Jason plays a high school newspaper reporter digging for the story - and making deals along the way. Sarah plays the eclectic student, blogger, and debate club leader.
The play, performed without intermission, provides an insight into the troubles of youth today and the issues that plague society overall. You'll leave the theater thinking. That's how you know it's a good show.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


There's a lot of Experimental Theater at The Flea. Seating ARRANGEMENTS is one such performance. You walk into the theater space and notice that there is a large horseshoe shaped banquet table with seating for about 16 - - and there are only 8 actors! You are asked if you want to join the feast. After a nervous "sure, why not", you start to think - are they going to talk to me? Am I somehow going to become part of this show? Are they serving food? The answer to all these questions is yes. But fear not - you won't be cross examined!

You will awkwardly indulge the cast as they chat with you - and sit right next to you! It's not exactly a scripted performance, but not exactly stream of consciousness either. Based on the short story Babette's Feast, the 8 actors speak directly to the audience as if we are all there part of their dinner party. They interact with each other as if they are in another time and place. Time, location, and characters bleed together.

The underlying concept is about what happens around the dinner table - how we all interact, the inappropriate things we say, or the things we don't say. It's a study in psychology and sociology. It's about topics that inevitably get broached - Religion, Politics and Love - sometimes appropriately, sometimes not.

Remarkably - I learned afterwards that there was no real script for this show. The actors all developed the stories based on their own experiences and beliefs. They melded them together in workshops and rehearsals. There's a violin, a rapper, a national anthem, and a dance. There's love, hope, revenge, and desire. It's a slice of life both current and past.

Kudos to the 8 performers from The Bats Theater Group - Donal Brophy, Jane Elliott, Ben Horner, Max Jenkins, Jocelyn Kuritsky, Nana Mensah, Bobby Moreno, and Sylvia Mincewicz.

Fear not - they serve wine. Drink up - and don't be shy. Wink at the adorable Max or chat up your cute neighbors. Who knows what might come of it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Bronx Tale

Chass Palminteri makes his Broadway debut in his own semi-autobiographical show - A Bronx Tale. A classic story teller, Palminteri regales us with about 90 minutes worth of stories from his "rough" childhood on the streets, on his front stoop and in his neighborhood - up @ 187th.

Funny, poignant, and entertaining, the characters come to life as described by Palminteri - most centrally to the story his gangster friend who took him under his wing. There was no Soprano's in his day, but the stories ring similar. In his case, the story revolves around choices and how each of them affects the rest of our lives.

Take a night out and enjoy an evening of storytelling by one of the best.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Lucy Thurber has penned a powerhouse - now on stage at the Atlantic Theater Company. Scarcity is the story of intense frustration and struggle. Struggle with family, choices, poverty and alcohol. Frustration over how our position in life is affected by those choices- and the struggle to escape and the collateral damage left behind.

The poor family has a smart kid - who takes advantage of an over-attentive teacher to "get out" from under his alcoholic father and ocassionally delusional mother. Kristin Johnston (3rd Rock from the Sun) and Michael T Weiss (The Pretender) preside over the sad family and mom and dad. I saw Brandon Espinoza (u/s) as the young man at the center of all the energy and Meredith Brandt making her off-Broadway debut (at age 11) as the youngest member of the family - who in many ways was the smartest - - and certainly the most vulnerable.

The family dynamic might remind us of the television show Roseann - the twisted ways that love weaves into these families. The hope offered by escape. The sadness at the situation, and the despair of the young ones left behind.

You might not leave with a smile on your face - but you will certainly enjoy a powerful evening of theater.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My First Time

A multi-media experience. Four actors on stage telling the thousands of stories, snippets, and one liners about the age old "first time". Yes - the reference is to the first time you had sex. Was it good? Was it fun? Who laughed? Who farted? Who's mom walked in? Did it hurt? Oh boy... it goes on and on... and covers just about all kinds!

It's a bit like the vagina monologues - - the actors speaking to the audience telling stories. They take a poll in the audience before the show - and they flash the results up during the show. They have a projector that beams facts and figures above the actors heads in between the vignettes. In our audience there were 2 virgins too! 90 Minutes isn't even enough to cover all the possibilities, but it is certainly enough time to entertain and inform.

If you need a night of plain old fun - take in a performance at the New World Stages! Virgin or not - you will enjoy.