Friday, June 30, 2006

School of the Americas: 06/30/2006

Ay Dios Mio! I think there may be a new term for naturalism pejoratively known as “kitchen sink” theater; amigos, we now have “live chicken” drama. Yes, there are live chickens on stage at the LuEsther Hall of the Public Theater. And that’s about the only surprise in store at School of the Americas. The new play by Jose Rivera, about the last days of Che Guevara, seems like a cross between and A&E bio-pic and a Spanish Telenovela. Rivera’s play comes across as an overly earnest character-study of the repressed schoolteacher and the rebel with a heart; it’s sort of a South American Educating Rita. Although based on fact, this play couldn’t seem more like a night at scene study class. The entire evening could not be more disappointing given the talent involved: Jose Rivera, Mark Wing-Davey, Jon Ortiz, LAByrinth Theater Company – all of whose work I greatly admire. Let’s chalk it all up to a terrible misalignment of the stars and hope for better work next time.

For Info & Tickets: Public Theater

Monday, June 26, 2006

2006 Fringe NYC

So...I don’t think it’s been officially announced, but it looks like this year’s FringeNYC shows are listed on the Fringe website.

Check them out: FringeNYC 2006 Shows

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Theater of a Two-Headed Calf

Check out the nice article in today’s New York Times about Theater of a Two-Headed Calf and their development process.

Click here to read: New York Times

Click here for info on the company:

Friday, June 23, 2006

Quail: 06/23/2006

Rachel Hoeffel’s Quail is a really odd play. Set in law office in lower Manhattan, it tells the story of Arlene Quail, a discontented secretary and her relationship with her boss, his tenant attorney and two of their clients. Arlene seems to be yearning for something; she’s a lost soul in search for some meaning or purpose. Arlene is as strange as the play she inhabits and Elizabeth Meriwether’s understated performance is up to the task. The detailed set by David Evans Morris with its offices, reception area and supply closet aid the play immensely in its workman-like tone. Former Ridiculous Theatrical Company member Everett Quinton lends some colorful, over the top mannerisms to the otherwise underplayed tone of the show. While I didn’t dislike the play, it did feel as though at times it was wondering as aimlessly as it’s title character.

For tickets and info: Clubbed Thumb Summerworks

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Americana Absurdum: 06/22/2006

I first saw the second act of Brian Parks’ Americana Absurdum, “Wolverine Dream”, performed in the late 90’s at Todo con Nada on Ludlow Street. A few years later it was performed, as Americana Absurdum, with its first act, “Vomit & Roses”, as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the Present Company’s space, Theatorium, in the heart of the Fringe Festival (and the Lower East Side). Flash forward to 2006, and American Absurdum is back and being performed at PS122, with many of its original cast members. Americana Absurdum is still a brilliantly written, hilarious play. But, boy has the world changed. Nada is gone, Theatorium is gone, for that matter the World Trade Center is gone – and while there is still not a false note in Americana Absurdum and it’s messages of corporate greed, a corrupt legal system and misplaced American priorities are still completely valid, the play now seems almost innocent. Original cast members David Calvitto, Nancy Walsh and Jody Lambert are still spot-on and precisely execute John Clancy’s intricate staging. Newcomer Eva van Dok in two important roles is outstanding. My only quibble with the production as it stands now it that the cast may be delivering their lines in a little too rapid-fire-quick manner for audiences who are seeing the play for the first time. But that is minor compared to my longing for the days in which all we had to worry about were the huge issues in Parks’ play.

For Tickets & Info:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mama Dada by Sarah Bay-Cheng

Sarah Bay-Cheng’s Mama Dada is a study of the plays of Gertrude Stein within the context of the theatrical avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century as well as it’s relation to film and Stein’s own queer identity. The book is an excellent look at Stein’s work in a very specific context and there are some truly inspired readings of a few of her plays. Bay-Cheng argues for the reconsideration of Stein’s plays as texts written for performance as opposed to closet dramas which some critics argue they are. She also clearly places Stein as the mother of late twentieth century and contemporary American experimental theater, whose influence can be seen and everything from The Living Theater to the Wooster Group and Richard Forman. Overall a very worthwhile read.

Check it out:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Trouble in Paradise: 06/19/2006

The Hourglass Group’s stage adaptation of the Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 film Trouble In Paradise is a joy. The physical production is gorgeous with art deco sets by Lauren Helpern and amazing costumes by Theresa Squire. Director Elyse Singer has assembled a terrific cast with extra kudos to the always-brilliant Steven Rattazzi, Jeremy Shamos and especially the OBIE-worthy Nina Hellman in the Miriam Hopkins role. The film, which I wasn’t familiar with but which I intend to now rent, is the story of Gaston and Lily, a pair of society thieves and their meeting and teaming up to swindle perfume heiress Madame Mariette Colet This adaptation opens up to include glimpses of the filming process, some backstage drama and even an off-stage Lubitsch calling out directions. This is the perfect show for a hot summer evening.

For info and tickets:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I was surfing the net last night when I came across this photo of the Wooster Group’s production of Hamlet. Apparently it is being performed at the Festival GREC, Mercat de les Flors, Barcelona, Spain from June 27 - July 1 . Let’s hope we’ll get to see it in NYC soon.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

A “Heads Up”: Orange Lemon Egg Canary

Writer Rinne Groff and director Michael Sexton will team up once again in July when PS122 will present Orange Lemon Egg Canary a play about relationships and magic tricks. I saw a reading of this play years ago and am really looking forward to seeing a full production. It will run from July 12th – 30th.

For tickets and info: Click Here

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sweeney Todd: 06/09/2006

John Doyle’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is brilliant. The concept of Tobias and his fellow asylum inmates re-enacting the story of the demon barber of Fleet Street with the entire cast doubling as the orchestra works perfectly. Sarah Travis’ orchestrations certainly deserve to win a Tony Award on Sunday; Travis actually manages to make Sondheim’s score even more haunting, if that is possible. And if any cast ever deserved to win an award for best ensemble, it is this one. I think Michael Cerveris is my favorite of all the Sweeney’s I’ve seen and Manoel Felciano, Benjamin Magnuson and Lauren Molina are all outstanding. This is the second time I’ve seen the show and I enjoyed it just as much on second viewing.

For info:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Satellites: 06/06/2006

Diana Son's Satellites is a complicated, sloppy play – but I mean that in a good way. Miles and Nina are new parents and have just bought a Brownstone in Brooklyn. Their life seems ideal, but things are complex. Nina is Korean. Miles is black. Nina is in the midst of a very important project. Miles recently lost his job. Nina’s business partner is shouldering the bulk of the workload as she cares for her new baby and hires a nanny. Miles’ brother shows up with a business proposal. And I haven’t even mentioned Reggie, the neighbor. What is wonderful to watch is the way each character’s past affects the way they interact with each other and informs their decisions. Michael Greif’s staging is dazzling and his cast in uniformly excellent, especially Kevin Carroll as Miles. The play isn’t perfect, but it is well worth a visit.

For info:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I Have Loved Strangers: 06/04/2006

Clubbed Thumb kicks off this year's Summerworks with Anne Washburn’s I Have Loved Strangers – and they’re off to a great start. The play, set in “Ancient New York,” is a fantastic tale of a battle for survival that may have no winners in a city that may have no future. Johanna McKeon expertly directs a superb cast of seven that includes the always-amazing T. Ryder Smith as the prophet Jeremiah and the funny and touching Jennifer Ruby Morris as Ruthie who may be the wife of another prophet – or is he a terrorist? It’s unfortunate that the play will only be here for a week, but hopefully I Have Loved Strangers will have another life in the near future.

For info and tickets: Clubbed Thumb