Thursday, December 22, 2011

Private Lives: Short-Lived on Broadway

Noel Coward's wit is crisp and elegant. It's a genuine shame that his classy comedy, "Private Lives" is closing at the end of the month.

So, our recommendation, hurry to see it if you possible can.

Kim Cattrell (Amanda) with Simon Paisley Day (Victor) in a photo © by Cylla von Tiedemann

"Private Lives," at The Music Box in a run shortened to December 31st, takes us on a honeymoon to Deuxville France where Amanda (Kim Cattrell) and Elyot (Paul Gross) rekindle the sparks of their very fiery first marriage while on their honeymoons with Victor (Simon Paisley Day)
and Sybil (Anna Madeley).

See videos from "Private Lives" on YouTube

Amanda's haplass spouse Victor and Elyot's new bride Sybil don't stand a chance once the old lovers meet again on the balcony of their honeymoon suites. Elyot is already bored by his young wife when he and Amanda share a cocktail outside their adjoining rooms.

Paul Gross as Elyot and Anna Madeley as Sybil in a photo © by Cylla von Tiedemann

The production does Noel Coward proud. Under Richard Eyre's direction. "Private Lives" is well-paced and utterly enjoyable. The splendid set, by Rob Howell (who is also responsible for the wonderful costumes) includes the most marvellous apartment in Paris. The actors are all charming and mannered without affectation. Simon Paisley Day is extremely funny as the bombastic and conventional Victor. Kim Cattrall cavorts and dances with abandon; her Amanda is not given to humbug.

So, recap here, closing very very soon. Go... See it before it does.
There's an opening night video on YouTube

Paul Gross as Elyot and Kim Catrell as Amanda in a photo © by Cylla von Tiedemann

For more information, visit

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who exactly is "Sid James"?

See The Best of Sid James which includes the Carry On films in which he played a sly lecherous Cockney.

It's not giving too much aways to say that this is a romance that doesn't stand a chance.

"Kissing Sid James," at 59E59 Theaters through January 1, is Robert Farquhar's sad-funny new play about a ill-suited couple's sad-funny weekend away.

Crystal (Charlotte McKinney)is a vivacious young woman, who works as a croupier; Eddie (Alan Drake) invites her away for a tryst in the country. "You didn't have any... niggling... You didn't think, just you and me here," she asks him, "that we might not get along."

Photo by Carol Rosegg Alan Drake as Eddie with “the tash” and Charlotte McKinney as Crystal in “Kissing Sid James,” a Brits Off Broadway Festival offering

Crystal recognizes that Eddie has his charms, but he is basically a loser. Alan Drake is marvelously deflated as the hapless lothario. She is clearly far more imaginative than the uninspired Eddie.

After an awkward start, Crystal and Eddie settle in to some sex --which she initiates,-- and then to a rainy stay and a very contentious game of Scrabble. "This is it. Life, the great non-starter," Crystal announces in desperation at her choices.

For more information about Brits Off Broadway and "Kissing Sid James,' visit

Monday, December 12, 2011

2 Short Stories for the Holidays: "Farm Boy" and "A Christmas Carol"

Michael Morpurgo is one of the UK's best loved storytellers. He is the former Children's Laureate, an OBE. Many of his books have been adapted for the stage, most recently "Farm Boy."

"Farm Boy," at 59E59 Theaters as part of Brits Off Broadway, through January 1st, intertwines the story told in the Tony winning "War Horse" in which Albert goes to France to retrieve his horse Joey from the front with the story of Albert's son, now "Grandfather" (John Walters) and great-grandson, (Richard Pryal).

Photo by Carol Rosegg From L to R:Richard Pryall (Grandson) and John Walters (Grandfather) i

In "Farm Boy," we learn that when Albert came back from WWI, everyone in the village called him Corporal. We pick up the tale with the boy from the city visiting his grandfather on the family farm.

Photo by Carol Rosegg :Richard Pryall (Grandson) and the tractor i

When the Grandfather was just a boy, his father, "Corporal," still plowed the fields with Joey and another horse until...he won the tractor.

In Daniel Buckroyd's adaptation of "Farm Boy," the tale is told mostly as a story, with Grandfather and Grandson taking turns in the telling.

"Farm Boy" runs for just about one easy-going hour.

Find out more about Brits Off Broadway, and "Farm Boy" at or at
You'll Find More Traditional Holiday Story Telling in "A Christmas Carol"

Bah, Humbug! Here's to the Holiday Spirit. Scrooge was content to dismiss the holidays and carry on as if Christmas was just an ordinary day. He is all business and no pleasure until the spirits of the season reveal to him the error of his ways.

Charles Dickens (Jimmy Kieffer) visits Canal Park Playhouse to spin the famous Christmas yarn. The ghosts of Christmases past and future accompany him on his way.

The program will run through December 24th and you may find a complete schedule at

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"The Door" Slams

Two men are sitting in an anteroom as a door bangs incessantly.

The story they unwind in Tony Earnshaw's "The Door," part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters running through December 11th, seesaws in search of the truth.

Tom Cobley and Chris Westgate in “The Door” by Tony Earnshaw. Photo by Tony Earnshaw

"The whole system collapses if you don't obey orders," Boyd tells Ryan. Ryan's answer is "The whole system is pointless if you do." What appears to be random disagreement over politics, tabloids news, and the existence of God, turns out to be very personal.

Ryan (Chris Westgate) and Boyd (Tom Cobley) are waiting to justify an incident that happened during their service in Iraq.

The tension between the two men is punctuated by the explosively slamming door. "Drives you round the loddy bend, doesn't it. Round the bloody bend,"
is a refrain that gets passed from hand to hand as the noise unnerves each man in turn.

Tom Cobley and Chris Westgate in Tony Earnshaw ‘s“The Door.”. Photo by Tony Earnshaw

The taut fifty minutes play, under Anna Adams able directions, goes from Beckettian absurdity to a surprising animated ending.

For more information on Brits Off Broadway and a schedule of performances for "The Door," visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Does it matter if Will's the author?

Does the film "Anonymous" have you pondering who wrote all the works ascribed to one William Shakespeare?

Photo by Gregory Costanzo From L to R: Sean McNall (Richard II), Jolly Abraham (Harry Percy), and Grant Goodman (Henry Bolingbroke)

Consider the argument irrelevant. Whoever wrote the sweeping tragedies, masterful histories, insightful comedies [and a handful of clunkers], left a worthy legacy. He wrote as an Elizabethan, aware of his time and its mores, with wit and a deft hand at characters great and small.

But more on that anon.... This theater season, there are a number of fine productions celebrating that legacy.

The Pearl Theatre Company at City Center's Stage II is tackling the poesy of "Richard II" through December 24th. It's an ambitious, if uneven effort, looking at the divine right and mortal plight of kings.

Photo by Gregory Costanzo From L to R: Sean McNall (Richard II) and Jolly Abraham (the Queen)

"Richard II" is about the tragedy and the dangers
of ruling unwisely. In the title role, Sean McNall portrays a monarch unhinged by the challenge to his absolute authority by his cousin Harry Bolingbroke (Grant Goodman).

Bolingbroke is a populist leader but sometimes Goodman's affect seems too modern for the verse play he inhabits. This Bolingbroke is definitely lean and hungry. Dan Kremer as John of Gaunt, Earl of Lancaster, Harry's aggrieved and grieving father is excellent.

Photo by Gregory Costanzo From L to R: Grant Goodman (Henry Bolingbroke) and Sean McNall (Richard)

Under JR Sullivan's direction, the cast handle the poetry as if it were prose. That is smoothly, and without any sense of awkwardness.

Photo by Gregory Costanzo From L to R: Bill Christ (Duke of York) and Carol Schultz (Duchess of York)

Elsewhere around town, at The Barrow Street Theatre, Fiasco Theater performs a completely modernized and raucous version of "Cymbelline" through January 1. Fiasco Theater has transformed one of Shakespeare's lesser works into an excellent entertainment.

Also downtown at The Public, "King Lear" has just ended its run with Sam Waterston in the title role leading a brand-name cast. "Titus Andronicus" begins performances on the 29th of November through December 18th at the Public Lab and features Jay O. Sanders as Titus.
Jay O. Sanders in Titus Andronicus, directed by Michael Sexton, a Public Lab production running at The Public Theater from November 29 through December 18. Photo credit: Joseph Moran)

Looking forward, there is the January 10, 2012 opening of The Bridge Project production of "Richard III" with Kevin Spacey as the titular monarch under the direction of Sam Mendes at BAM.

So, back to the question-- does it matter who wrote these plays? Is it realy of concern if they were writ by an unknown hand unwilling to take credit for an enduring body of English literature or by an actor named William Shakespeare?

Photo by Gregory Costanzo From L to R: Grant Goodman (Henry Bolingbroke) and Charlie Francis Murphy (Sir Pierce of Exton)

The canon is vast and eloquent. It lends itself to the spoofery of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and the serious ministrations of actors and directors the world over. It has drawn the attention of your highschool English teacher and spawned rom-com plots for decades. The dramas attract filmed homages ranging from Kirosawa to Woody Allen.

In short, Shakespeare survives critical analyses and debates over who he was and what he may have been capable of doing. More importantly, all these centuries later, he offers deep and sustaining perceptions into our lives.

For more information about The Pearl's production of "Richard II", please visit

To find out more about Fiasco's "Cymbelline" at
The Barrow Theatre, go to

For a schedule of The Public Theatre's "Titus Andronicus", go to

For more information about BAM's "Richard III", please go to

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Intrigue in the setting sun of the British Empire

Long before George Orwell envisioned a world in which Big Brother would supplant our freedoms, he was in His Majesty's foreign service. There he saw the despotism with which his countryman lorded it over the natives.

In "Burmese Days," adapted and directed by (and featuring) Ryan Kiggell in an aya theatre world premiere production at 59E59 Theaters as part of Brits Off Broadway through December 4th, Orwell explores the intrigues and petty territorialism of a British Club in colonial Burma.

By 1934, the hot sun of the Empire had begun to set. Orwell's first novel, "Burmese Days," catches its last few rays before it fades as the inhabitants of Kyauktada squabble and drink.

The cast of six, featuring along with Kiggell, Charlotte Allam, Amerjit Deu, Zak Shukor, Elisa Terren, and Jamie Zubari in a variety of roles, relates the tale, and embodies characters (and critters) in the tropical land.

The political machinations and petty rivalries in this small provincial world are depicted with admirable exactitude. "Burmese Days" is an interesting theatrical work, that is both a play and a series of monologues and narrations.

For a performance schedule and more information, visit or

Friday, November 11, 2011

Alone in the crowd

"The Maddening Rain" is as much about knowing who you are as it is about greed and ambition.

In "The Maddening Rain," a solo show in repertory in Theater C at 59E59 Theaters through November 20th, a young man (Felix Scott) of working class background, dressed in business attire, is clearly a lost soul. The man looks to find himself and aspires to more, more money, mostly. After a series of odd jobs, ambition and greed bring him to the perfect place-- a securities trading floor.

One man shows are a feat for any actor. Felix Scott admirably rises to the occasion. His deft portrayal of a variety of characters is interesting and noteworthy. In a particularly exciting scene, his character convincingly holds an argument with his boss Andy.

The enticing set design by Alison McDowall with lighting by Emma Chapman and video projections by The Bidd Group turns the small stage into a panorama of city windows.

For a schedule for "The Maddening Rain" visit "The Maddening Rain" is part of the curated 8th annual Brits off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters. For more information on Brits off Broadway visit
See reviews for the solo repertory, that includes "Bunny" and "Shadow Boxing" on this site at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Throwing her voice, or throwing apples, either way, beguiling

It's all about love and juggling!

Perfect Catch,billed as "Throw-mantic Comedy" at Canal Park Playhouse through November 27th, follows the formula set by Hollywood for romantic comedies. Boy and girl meet, but they don't really like each other and, then suddenly, something happens to spark an interest, and finally, they are in the throes of an endearing love.

Jen Slaw and Michael Karas are jugglers who conduct their romance in near-complete silence, except for a timeless soundtrack. The pop 40s, some of them from the 40s, include some wonderfully quirky renditions of the standards like "Mister Sandman," "It Had to Be You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "9 to 5" and "Fernando's Hideaway."

The juggling umbrellas set to "Singing in the Rain" create a little peril for our lovely duo, he a little nerdy, she poised and glamorous.

Meanwhile, Nina Conti does an altogether different brand of throwing.
She is a world renowned ventriloquist enjoying her United States debut in "Nina Conti Talk to the Hand" at 59E59 Theaters in the Brits Off Broadway festivities for one week only through November 13th.

Nina Conti with her several character puppets has won awards for comedy from the BBC and the Barry Comedy Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Be warned, this is not a child-friendly show. Not that there's anything wrong with children. You may want to keep them away from the X-rated shenanigans of Monkey. Nina Conti is attractive and charming, and has a disarming way of laughing at the jokes she is about to tell through her puppets.

For more information on "Perfect Catch" go to
For tickets for "Nina Conti Talk to the Hand" visit or

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Odd Characters Solo in Theater C in Brits Off Broadway

Sometimes a small provocation can turn into a deadly, roiling mess.

In "Bunny," in repertory in Theater C at 59E59 Theaters as part of Brits Off Broadway through November 20th, it takes almost nothing for things to deteriorate.

Katie (Rosie Wyatt), a vindictive, insecure eighteen year old, goes along for the ride as her boyfriend Abe, goaded by his mates Asif and Jake, look for revenge on the kid who knocked an ice cream out of Abe's hand.

Rosie Wyatt in “Bunny” Photo © Joel Fildes

The one woman play is a stunning success for Rosie Wyatt as she narrates the tale, alternatively shrinking with embarrasment or bold as brass.

As Katie, Wyatt rambles on, describing the three men, her sexual history. She relates the desperation of Luton, the town in which she lives, her father's ambitions for her. She mimics the exchange between Asif and Abe about the incident that started the chase. It becomes clear, as her stories unfold in "Bunny" that she, like Asif, exacts a measure of vengeance for even the slightest slight.

Rosie Wyatt in “Bunny” Photo © Joel Fildes

Katie understands the rage that seethes in Asif as he eggs Abe on.

Rosie Wyatt, the 2010 nominee for Britain's Spotlight Prize for this role, ably carries this odd character study of an odd character. Her ability to hold our attention is a tribute to her talents, as ultimately Jack Thorne's "Bunny" goes nowhere; like purposeless anger, it revs itself up and then fizzles.

"Shadow Boxing" is a another solo show about an odd and angry character.

Jonny Colis-Scrull as Flynn in “ShadowBoxing.” Photo © Anthony Janusewski

"Shadow Boxing," is in repertory with "Bunny," and also in Theater C at 59E59 Theaters through November 20th.

Flynn (Jonny Colis-Scrull) is looking to avoid his father's legacy of mediocrity. Like his dad, Errol Sebastian Flynn, he's a boxer. Unlike his dad, he's got a shot at a title match. Also unlike his dad, he hides a secret that may unravel his promising career.

Colis-Scrull's Flynn is brusque, and charismatic. Playwright James Gaddas' "Shadow Boxing" is a compelling drama about a man looking for gentleness and kindness in the unlikely and unyielding environment of a boxing ring.

Jonny Colis-Scrull as Flynn in “ShadowBoxing.” Photo © Anthony Janusewski

For more information and schedules for "Bunny" and "Shadow Boxing," go to

Brits off Broadway, curated by 59E59 Theaters, is a festival in its eighth season, running through January 1st. For more information about the festival, visit

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Hard Times, Friendships Under Strain

Three men find their loyalties rattled and their friendship shaken when a strike in the plant at which they all work unravels their relationship.

In "On the Line," playwright Joe Roland looks at how who we are is
defined by where we come from and what we do.

Dev (Jacob H. Knoll) is unpretentiously a working class guy. "Every morning I get up, I know who I am," he says, in "On the Line," playing through November 19th at Canal Park Playhouse. "I know where I'm going, I know what I'm gonna do when I get there...."

Jacob Knoll as Dev, Jedidiah Schultz as Mikey, and Matt Citron as Jimmy. Photo © Jim Baldassare

Dev has been best friends with Mikey (Jedidiah Schultz) and Jimmy (Matt Citron) since first grade. They work together at Mr. Dolan's plant,and after work, they drink together at Moody's bar.

Jacob Knoll, with a strong working class New England twang, is superb as the troubled, enraged Dev. At several points, Knoll's voice tightens as Dev begins to lose his sense of himself.

Both Matt Citron and Jedidiah Schultz are extremely talented actors and very convincing as his buddies, Jimmy and Mikey. Michael Tisdale's directs with a deft understanding.

When the plant is shut down by a strike, Dev's grit is tested in the course of "On the Line." He is a working man, and a working man has to work to be a working man. If he knows who he is, he has to stubbornly stick to that principle at any cost.

This production fills the small 55-seat space at the Canal Park Playhouse beautifully, using sound (by Colin Alexander) and projections (designed by Ryan Dickie under the Technical Direction of Vadim Ledvin) to add mood and depth.
Jacob Knoll (front) as Dev and Matt Citron (back) as Jimmy, at work in “On the Line.” Photo © Jim Baldassare

For more information and for a schedule of performances, visit

Friday, October 28, 2011

Family=Drama Even Among Gurney's Staid WASPs

The landscape of family can be a minefield, especially family steeped in a tradition of the "stiff upper lip" like the White Anglo Saxon Protestants. A.R. Gurney (more casually known as “Pete”) has been traversing this terrain, analyzing WASP culture and customs like a field anthropologist throughout his long career. In “Children,” his first play written in 1974, ARG launches his analysis from John Cheever’s short story, “Goodbye, My Brother.”

The WASPs in ARG’s world live in changing times. In “Children," enjoying a revival in a TACT production at The Beckett Theatre through November 20th, a wealthy family gathers at their summer home on an island off the Massachusetts coast on the weekend of the 4th of July, 1970.

Margaret Nichols, Richard Thieriot and Darrie Lawrence. Photos © TACT  

These children of privilege each face the societal changes differently.

Mother (Darrie Lawrence), having lived by the rules, now hopes for more. She raised children who disappoint in their messy ordinariness and is finally ready to follow her passion by marrying “Uncle” Bill.

Her daughter, Barbara (Margaret Nichols) is recently divorced and would like to winterize the summer house so she could move out of her Boston apartment and spend time with an old flame on the island. Barbara’s hedonism is at odds with her sense of propriety. “We have rules,” she says. Later she adds, “We’re repressive. That’s what my therapist says.”

Margaret Nichols and Darrie Lawrence  

Brother Randy (Richard Thieriot), a jock and schoolteacher, plays competitively, if not fairly. Winning at tennis is his finest ambition, as if all his good breeding has degenerated into childish aggressiveness. He wants nothing more than to repave the neglected tennis courts at the house.

Like the unseen younger brother, Pokey, Randy’s wife Jane (Lynn Wright), thinks there should be more to life than the restrictive traditions, the country club dances, the games and score keeping.

Lynn Wright and Richard Thieriot prepare to go to the Country Club ball  

Pokey, the matriarch's favorite and most troublesome child, aims to throw a wrench in all their plans.

TACT- The Actors Company Theatre- is a talented young company, formed in 1992. Richard Thieriot is a guest in this cast made up of old TACT hands. In “Children” under the direction of Scott Alan Evans and with the WASP-appropriate period costumes designed by Haley Leiberman, they have ably created a time capsule of a uneasy if very comfortably well-off family.

Darrie Lawrence, Lynn Wright, Margaret Nichols and Richard Thieriot  

Visit to learn more about “Children”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Charm and Wit of Canal Park Playhouse

The artistic director, Jack Coates, is a dummy, sorry to say. The producer, Kipp Osborne, has had a varied career in theater as an actor on and off-Broadway and on the small screen. Kipp Osborne, Mr. Coates claims, is also a ventriloquist.

Messers Coates and Osborne are joined at Canal Park Playhouse by Sara Murphy as Managing Director.

Ms. Murphy is an advocate for young theater companies whose previous roles included programming at the Zipper Factory Theater. Their Technical Director is Vadim Ledvin, who has extensive experience in lighting and sound design.

Rounding out the production team is the Resident Playwright, Joe Roland, whose "On The Line," opening for previews on October 27th, enjoyed an earlier run at the Cherry Lane Theater.

The Playhouse occupies the ground floor in a landmarked 1826 Canal House in Tribeca. The upper floors are a bed and breakfast, known as The Canal Park Inn. Patrons at the Playhouse, may enjoy a very reasonably priced brunch from 10:30am to 6:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

On our recent visit, we spoke to a couple from Birmingham, Al, who with their comrades from around the south, were enjoying their stay. The group of four couples each had one of the suite-like rooms upstairs, happily occupying the entire Inn for the week.

For more information about Canal Park Playhouse and its upcoming productions, visit For information on the newly opened Canal Park Inn, visit

Monday, October 17, 2011

That's Absurd! The Surreal Worlds of Ionesco and Rapp

Legend has it that Eugene Ionesco was so taken by the phrase book when he tried to learn English that he decided to create a play, originally to be named L'anglais sans peine (or English without toil ), in honor of the strange dialogues the Assimil method offered.

"The Bald Soprano", on stage at the Pearl Theatre Company's home at City Center Stage II, through October 23rd, is a rare sighting in the United States. (Since 1957, it has been performed at the Théâtre de la Huchette so it has become one of the most frequently staged plays in France.)

As a playwright, Ionesco revels in the absurdity that comes out of (mis)communication. He is one of the premiere proponents of the theater of the absurd. The genre comes out of existentialism, and is meant to be nihilistic and gloomy. In Ionesco's hands, it is genial and cheerfully good-natured.

The text in "The Bald Soprano" resembles more a conversation between Burns and Allen than one with Jean Paul Sartre or Camus.

The Smiths, an ordinary couple, enjoying an after dinner chat, talk at cross purposes as if everything they say is lost in translation. Mrs. Smith (Rachel Botchan) rattles on about what they had for dinner. She seems to be reciting the menu by rote. Mr. Smith (Bradford Cover) grunts and reads his paper.

Bradford Cover as Mr. Smith and Rachel Botchan as Mrs. Smith Photos by Jacob J. Goldberg 

The dynamic between words and meaning, and even identity and meaning, seems to be lost. Nothing and everything is what it seems. The Fire Chief (Dan Daily) is hunting fires, and invites Mrs. Smith to confide in him as if he were her confessor, as he puts it. The play, like its title, is judiciously absurd.

Jolly Abraham as Mrs. Martin and Rachel Botchan as Mrs. Smith Photos by Jacob J. Goldberg 

The Martins, (Brad Heberlee and Jolly Abraham) who come to visit the Smiths, recognize each other by all the coincidences of where they live, the child they each have, etc. but Mary (Robin Leslie Brown), the Smith's meddlesome maid, interrupts to let us know that despite the coincidence of same domicile they are not who they think they are.

Dan Daily as The Fire Chief and Robin Leslie Brown as Mary Photos by Jacob J. Goldberg 

The production, directed by Hal Brooks, paces itself to savor all the incongruity in the text. "The Bald Soprano" offers a welcome touch of life and confusion to the Fall theater season.

Heir to Ionesco?

Adam Rapp has a much darker absurdist vision in his new play, "Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling".

"Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling", on stage at Classic Stage Company in an Atlantic Theater production through October 30th, skewers reality with subtle hints that everything is awry.

There are Canada geese falling like large hail from the skies, which are an unhealthy color. The predatory Sandra (Christine Lahti) flirts pornographically with her husband's, Dr. Bertram Cabot's (Reed Birney) old college chum, Dirk Von Stofenberg (Cotter Smith) even before her husband leaves the room.

Reed Birney as Bert, Christine Lahti as Sandra, Cotter Smith as Dirk, Betsy Aidem as Celeste, Shane McRae as James, and Katherine Waterston as Cora Photos by Kevin Thomas Garcia  

Dirk and his wife Celeste (Betsy Aidem) are at the Cabots to celebrate their son James's (Shane McRae) release from a psychiatric institution.
The Cabots daughter, Cora (Katherine Waterston) flirts with James while the parents are touring the reconstructed basement.

Wilma (Quincy Tyler Bernstine), the family's live in maid from Red Hook, walks in on James and Cora. Wilma takes it in her stride; nothing seems out of the ordinary in this household or in this play. For instance, it's a kind of play on the concept of a French maid, that Wilma is expected to serve drinks and dinner in French, under the auspices of Sandra, who bullies everyone with equal joie de vivre.

Shane McRae as James, and Katherine Waterston as Cora Photos by Kevin Thomas Garcia  

"Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling" adds a malignant twist to its comedy. The actors all acquit themselves well but Christine Lahti's vicious Sandra, is a rare treat; she is deadly serious and very very funny. Her behavior surprises but does not shock even in this staid Connecticut setting.

"Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling" soars.

For performance schedule and to learn more about the Atlantic Theater Company, go to

For more information on The Pearl Theater Company, visit

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Love Story for the Cyber Age: Extended to 29 October

There is so much new territory for the theater to cover in this super-connected, highly wired world--Google, Twitter, email, hackers, videogames-- and a lot of it just doesn't seem like it could be theatrical, does it? In Mangella, where a computer nerd meets a tech savvy prostitute via Craigslist, there is plenty of theatricality.

Connectivity takes on a whole new meaning in "Mangella," a play billed as a cyber-thriller, and produced by Project:Theater at the Drilling Company extended through October 23rd 29th.

In "Mangella," Gabriella (Ali Perlwitz) is a seductive temptress; her jealousy of Lilly (Hannah Louise Wilson)is only natural since she and Ned (Anthony Manna) have such an intimate relationship.

Gabriella is Ned's outdated computer. Lilly is a prostitute Ned hires to visit his father, known to himself as Mangella St. James (Bob Austin McDonald), a black blues man.

Ned keeps Mangella, once a dentist named Stephen Frangipani, tethered to a wheelchair in his back room, in the hope that his father will recall memories of the mother Ned lost as a young boy.

Ali Perlwitz as Gabriella_with Anthony Manna as Ned in “Mangella.” Photo by Lee Wexler  

While all the actors are excellent, Ali Perlwitz handles a particularly Shakespearean fugue in the play with special finesse.

Ken Ferrigni has written well-observed love story.
Hannah Wilson as Lilly_with Bob Auston McDonald as MangellaSt James in “Mangella.” Photo by Lee Wexler  

Joe Jung directs the action at a lovingly fast-pace, balancing the energy and innocence of the characters with the absurdist storyline.

"Mangella" uses video to enhance its action and illustrate its plot in a very entertaining way.

Ali Perlwitz as Gabriella_with Anthony Manna as Ned in “Mangella” engage in videogaming. Photo by Lee Wexler  

For more information about and performance schedules for "Mangella" ,
go to Tickets may be purchased through SmartTix at

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unspeakable Acts?

In James Lantz's "The Bus", two teenage boys share a secret love in a small midwestern town.

"The Bus", at 59E59 Theaters through October 30th, is kind of a protest play, broadly about "the love that dare not speak its name," but with no polemics and plenty of heart.

Bryan Fitzgerald (back) withWill Roland . Photo by Carol Rosegg  

Ian (Will Roland) and Jordan (Bryan Fitzgerald) meet in an abandoned bus that serves as the landmark pointing to the Golden Rule Church looming at the top of the hill. Ian's angry father, Harry (Travis Mitchell) owns the land on which the vehicle is parked, and its presence on his property begins to irk him.

There is a character called The Little Girl (Julia Lawler) in "The Bus" who is the scene-setter and narrator in this intentionally minimalist play. She paints vivid pictures of the surroundings as the story unfolds.
She is also Jordan's little sister.

While Jordan is disdainful of religion, and open about who he is, Ian is conflicted. His sexuality is as much of concern to him as it is to both his parents.

Ian's mother, Sarah (Kerry McGann), has substituted church for family since her divorce from Harry. Sarah drags an unwilling Ian to services on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Will Roland as Ian with Bryan Fitzgerald as Jordan in James Lantz’s “The Bus”. Photo by Carol Rosegg  

"The Bus" is heartfelt, intimate, and engrossing.
To learn more about and for performance schedules for "The Bus" go to
Good people, evil deeds?

You might not be comfortable setting your moral compass by this guy, but Mickey (Michael Mastro) is a great friend.

"Any Given Monday", Bruce Graham's award winning play, on stage at 59E59 Theaters through November 6th, explores issues of good and evil, which, in its scope, may be relative, with equal measure of insight and humor.

Paul Michael Valley as Lenny and Michael Mastro as Mickey in Bruce Graham’s “Any Given Monday.” Photo by Carol Rosegg  

Mickey and Lenny (Paul Michael Valley) have been buddies since boyhood. Mickey, it seems, will do anything for Lenny.

Michael Mastro has the physicality and delivery reminiscent of Art Carney. His sardonic manner is devastatingly funny.

When Lenny's wife, Risa (Hilary B. Smith) leaves him for the excitement of an affair with the unseen Frank, Mickey shows up to watch Monday night football with his old pal. He is also there to assure himself that Lenny isn't suicidal. Lenny's daughter, Sarah (Lauren Ashley Carter)comes home from college with much the same purpose.

Lauren Ashley Carter as Sarah and Hilary B. Smith as Risa in “Any Given Monday.” Photo by Carol Rosegg  

The disimpassioned amorality in "Any Given Monday" is supported by a deep understanding of the philosophical both sides. Or as Mickey tells Sarah, all three sides-- most people, he says, do neither the right thing nor the wrong, but rather do nothing.

"Any Given Monday" is good for any day of the week.

Lauren Ashley Carter as Sarah and Michael Mastro as Mickey. Photo by Carol Rosegg  

To learn more about and for performance schedules for "Any Given Monday", please go to

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Mother's Joys, A Mother's Suffering, Parenthood 101

The concept behind "Motherhood Out Loud" is to have a tag team of writers, some playwrigts, some novelists, weave tales of the joy and pain of motherhood.

Created in the spirit of "Love, Loss and What I Wore" or "The Vagina Monologues" but using fourteen authors to voice the show and a permanent cast of four to give embody it, "Motherhood Out Loud"
, in a Primary Stage production at 59E59 Theaters through October 29th, is the brain child of producers Susan Rose and Joan Stein.

The episodes, divided into five "Chapters" each with four scenes, cover the ground from giving birth to finding an empty nest, or as Cheryl L. West puts it in her segment, "Squeeze, Hold, Release."

(L to R) Mary Bacon, Randy Graff, and Saidah Arrika Ekulona. Photo credit: James Leynse. 

Michele Lowe, the most prolific of the contributors in "Motherhood Out Loud" frames the intros of each selection of scenes with things she calls "Fugues" as in "Fast Births Fugue" or "Graduation Day Fugue." Ms. Lowe also wrote a couple of skits ("Bridal Shop" and "Queen Esther") for the show.

.(L to R) Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Mary Bacon and Randy Graff Photo credit: James Leynse. 

The stories like the ones from Marco Pennett ("If We're Using a Surrogate, How Come I'm the One with Morning Sickness"), David Cale ("Elizabeth"), Leslie Ayzavian ("Threesome")or Claire LaZebnik ("Michael's Date") feel very personal.

Other monologues -- for instance by Beth Henley ("Report On Motherhood")
or Jessica Goldberg ("Stars and Stripes") feel more imagined.

Some of the material just seems a bit generic, like Brooke Berman's "Next to the Crib," for example.

James Lecesne Photo credit: James Leynse. 

Mary Bacon (Actor A), Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Actor B), Randy Graff (Actor C), and James Lecesne (Actor D) willingly work back and forth through the copious bits and pieces that include adoption, senility, in-laws, and parents, sometimes hitting the mark, sometimes misfiring.

Parts of "Motherhood Out Loud" are funny, or moving, or surprising, but it remains a pastiche, and somehow the parts just don't add up to a whole play.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrate and dance with a Paul Taylor Dance Company "star"

Our friends at Paul Taylor Dance Company are offering adult classes beginning this weekend.

The 15-week session begins September 24, and will be held on Saturdays from noon - 1:30 p.m.

The class is being taught by former Taylor dancer Raegan Wood and is designed for dancers and non-dancers alike.

Come kick up your heels at the festivities.

Visit to learn more about participating.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Careful what you wish for....

Alan (Keith Nobbs) should have heeded the old warning about being careful what you wish for....

Keith Nobbs as Alan with Kevin Kilner as Doug in a photo by Richard Termine 

What if your dad turned out to be just the sort of creep who abandoned his family as Doug (Kevin Kilner) had when Alan was five?

There is nothing Alan wants more, in Lanford Wilson's "Lemon Sky," playing at Theatre Row in a Keen Company production through October 22nd, than to live with the father he never had.

Doug says he has dreamed of having him out to California to be with him, but that Alan's mother would never let Alan come. Doug also tells him that his mother hounded him and spied on him, but that his current wife, Ronnie (Kellie Overbey), lets him breathe.

Now that Alan wants to go to college, he can be with Doug and his family, 12-year old Jerry (Logan Riley Bruner) and 5-year old Jack (Zachary Mackiewicz), and the two foster children, Carol (Alyssa May Gold) and Penny (Amie Tedesco)who live with them, and maybe with Doug's help get a part time job.

Alyssa May Gold as Carol with Keith Nobbs as Alan and Amie Tedesco as Penny in a photo by Richard Termine 

The idyllic quickly turns ugly, but expecting the dire outcome in "Lemon Sky" should not be a deterrent to enjoying the play's unravelling. "Lemon Sky" spools out the story, using narration as a dramatic technique, and promising drama as the narrative unfolds.

Alyssa May Gold's Carol is a sad teenage femme fatale whose fate, like much of the plot, is perhaps predictible. Kellie Overbey's Ronnie is strong, understanding, and protective of the life she has chosen for herself.

Kellie Overbey as Ronnie with Keith Nobbs as Alan and Kevin Kilner as Doug in a photo by Richard Termine 

Lanford Wilson's "Lemon Sky" was written in 1970 and is autobiographical. He is best known as the author of "Talley's Folly" and
"The Fifth of July."

"Lemon Sky" is a small play, that is nonetheless engrossing, and all the actors do their best to let it breathe.

For schedule, tickets and information, visit