Photo by Don Kellogg

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.