Review: “The Mortality Machine” at Wildrence

Review: “The Mortality Machine” at Wildrence

How deep will you dig to find out the truth about your loved ones?

In a completely immersive experience, “The Mortality Machine” takes you through a laboratory After an illegal experiment caused five deaths, authorities quickly covered it up before loved ones could get any information. Now, five years later, the lab is finally open for inspection. Groups of friends and family of the five victims are gathered together to hopefully get some closure and some answers. Though what follows may raise more questions than it answers…

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Off-Broadway Review: “I’m Not A Comedian . . . I’m Lenny Bruce”

Off-Broadway Review: “I’m Not A Comedian . . . I’m Lenny Bruce”

The first image after the lights come up on stage is a slumped over, motionless, naked man sitting on a toilet. What follows is a silence that fills the room and becomes a force that provokes processing this scene. There might be the assumption that this is not a comedy. That would be a good guess, since the subject matter of “I’m Not a Comedian . . . I’m Lenny Bruce,” currently enjoying a successful run at The Cutting Room, is the tragic life of the outrageous, groundbreaking comedian. Yes, there are snippets from his more familiar routines to provide a glimpse into what was considered obscene during his heyday in the turbulent decade of the 1960s. His act complimented a society filled with protests and marches, supporting civil rights and denouncing war, proving Lenny Bruce was a performer that took to the stage intentionally to become a fierce advocate for free speech. He was arrested several times and charged with public obscenity for the shocking language he used in his routines that scoffed race, religion, sex, and politics. This one-man show is testament that his stand-up comedy was more abrasive than funny and reinforces the power of words. Mr. Bruce exposed the hypocrisy of humanity in such an unconventional style that his audience was shocked and humored at the same time.

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Review: "Frankenstein" – Manual Cinema at Under the Radar Festival at The Public

Review: "Frankenstein" – Manual Cinema at Under the Radar Festival at The Public

Worried about the fate of live performance or cinema in this digital age? Run to see Frankenstein at The Public’s Under the Radar Festival this month and you’ll be shouting, “It lives!!”

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein turns the anatomy of a play inside out in a unique amalgamation of shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, sound, and live music. Interwoven stories of Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and his Monster unfold before one’s eyes in a 97-minute spectacle of nonverbal, unadulterated marvel in which actors and technicians are one entity, seamlessly transitioning between a multitude of characters and multimedia platforms to tell the story. Three playing areas exist comprised of live feed cameras, lights, projecting screens, and puppets that allow Manual Cinema to manually create a sort of live movie projected on one giant screen above center stage.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Blue Ridge”

Off-Broadway Review: “Blue Ridge”

Abby Rosebrock introduces an interesting mélange of broken characters in her new play “Blue Ridge” currently running at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater. She drops these six disparate “recovering” personalities into the vortex of a Christian halfway house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. Pastor Hern (a cagey but caring Chris Stack) and his partner Grace (a sincere and dedicated Nicole Lewis) run the place and come to the enterprise with their own baggage. Their twelve-step-type program includes daily Bible study, meditation, community service, and help securing required employment.

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Broadway Review: “Network”

Broadway Review: “Network”

When Howard Beale (a tortured yet determined Bryan Cranston) first admonishes his listeners to get out of their chairs, go their widows, stick out their heads and yell, “I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore,” the audience at the Belasco Theatre erupts with a nostalgia that since the 1976 release of Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network” has morphed into a current state of being: an irrepressible rage about the state of the world, particularly about the current political environment. The satire in Chayefsky’s iconic film transfers well to Lee Hall’s adaptation currently running at the Belasco.

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Review: “The Russian and the Jew” at The Tank

 Review: “The Russian and the Jew” at The Tank

For some younger theatergoers, it could be easy to forget how during the dark days of the Cold War in the 1960s, many Soviet citizens feared the state tyranny and suppression of faith that existed in that era, and sought to escape to the United States in a manner that isn’t all too different from the refugees fleeing countries like Syria and Yemen today. What’s still easy for many people to forget today is that these migrants have deeply personal (and often tumultuous) stories that they are often taking with them. That’s exactly what “The Russian and the Jew”, the latest production to be showcased at The Tank, seems to be aiming to remind us.

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Review: “The Fantastical, Dangerous Journey of Q” at the 14th Street Y

Review: “The Fantastical, Dangerous Journey of Q” at the 14th Street Y

Toward the beginning of this year, I had the pleasure of seeing a sci-fi themed solo-show geared for young audiences about caring for the environment entitled “Constellarium”. It was just the latest outing from educational theatre company Rebel Playhouse, the brainchild of actor/producer Clara Kundin. Given , after receiving an invite to their latest production: The premiere of Ric Averill’s “The Fantastical, Dangerous Journey of Q”. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

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Broadway Review: "The Cher Show"

Broadway Review: "The Cher Show"

Anyone who is or was a fan of Cher during the past six decades will find it difficult to resist the urge to see the new Broadway musical based on her fascinating life and intriguing career that is now playing at Neil Simon Theatre. It would be wise to follow that urge and see for yourself how the beat still goes on. “The Cher Show” follows the same format as a similar musical currently running on Broadway – that show scheduled to close at the end of the year after its successful nine month run.

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Review: “Inferno! Fire at the Cocoanut Grove: 1942” at Theatre 80 St. Marks

Review: “Inferno! Fire at the Cocoanut Grove: 1942” at Theatre 80 St. Marks

The massive loss of life – especially when it’s as many of 492 people – is a horrifically sad incident, in and of itself. For the survivors and the people who remember, including those who didn’t survive completely unscathed, it leaves an emotional and psychological scar that their bound to carry for the rest of their life. That’s exactly the message which James Hansen Prince seems to be trying to show his audience in his period piece entitled “Inferno! Fire at the Cocoanut Grove: 1942” about a tragic real-life fire that occurred at a supper club in Boston in 1942.

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Review: “Selkie” at the Wild Project

Review: “Selkie” at the Wild Project

I honestly try not to be as colorful in my reviews that I write, as I normally would be in regular, everyday conversation. Having said that, I also owe the readers of OnStage Blog honesty, and thus, I feel obligated to say that while waiting to see the world premiere of Krista Knight’s new play “Selkie”, the only question I could think of, over and over, was…

“What the fuck is a Selkie?”

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2nd Opinion Review: “Shadows” at the Connelly Theater

2nd Opinion Review: “Shadows” at the Connelly Theater

When I saw that “Shadows” was described as a “dance musical” I was unsure what to expect. Were we going to get a show where all of the songs were sung from an offstage singer and the actors onstage simply danced? Were we going to get something that was mostly dance with a little bit of dialogue to carry us from scene to scene. But what we got was something very different and very engaging. Taking place entirely in her apartment, “Shadows” tells the story of Claire (Janine Divita) who starts an affair with her real estate broker, Alex (John Arthur Greene) and how they deal with the difficulties of keeping their two lives at bay and whether or not they even want to. In addition, we get a story told entirely through dance about a similar affair by Claire’s great-grandmother (Irina Dvorovenko). These stories intersected in a way that felt like a dance in itself and created an almost magical tone to the whole show.   

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Review: “Consumption” with Mason Holdings Theatre Company

Review: “Consumption” with Mason Holdings Theatre Company

From the moment you walk into the old victorian house where “Consumption” is being performed, you know that you are in for a different kind of show. Loosely telling the true-ish story Elena Hoyos and Count Carl Von Cosel, and the rumors around their relationship, “Consumption” takes us through the lives of five different couples (All played by Tracy Weller and Devin Burnam) all intersecting through different points in time and space, yet somehow, also all connected. The story is told in an immersive format, all taking place within the Beverly Social Club.

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Review: First Maria Ensemble’s “Macbeth” at Teatro Círculo

Review: First Maria Ensemble’s “Macbeth” at Teatro Círculo

In an age of inescapable information inundation, First Maria Ensemble’s “Macbeth,” directed with ferocity by Celeste Moratti, is a light in the dark. Lines are blurred between truth and fake news, leadership and tyranny, and this production shines with an earnest honesty to interrogate Shakespeare’s classic text in a way that can only be driven by our modern time’s aggrandization of the self in an increasingly isolating world.

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Review: “As You Like It” at the Players Theatre

Review: “As You Like It” at the Players Theatre

Like all other revivals, productions of William Shakespeare’s large canon of plays tend to be a mixed bag. Some prove to be colorful and innovative takes on these classics, while others make you fall asleep, if not scratch your eyes out. This past weekend at the Players Theatre, I found myself viewing the worst of the worst in this category of productions, when director/producer Carrie Isaacman’s production of “As You Like It” made me wish I weren’t there as a reviewer, so I could feel like I didn’t have to stay in the theater from beginning to end.

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Review: “Shadows” at the Connelly Theatre

Review: “Shadows” at the Connelly Theatre

Dancing! Romance! Ghosts!

To some theatergoers, the above combination is certainly one that is bound to lead to a night of entertainment that they will love. I will confess, neither ghost stories nor romances are exactly the genres that excite me most, when heading out for a night of theatre. However, not even I can deny that the recent production of Shadows is one of the most impressive and sophisticated musicals to premiere in the NYC indie theatre scene within the past year or so.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Lewiston/Clarkston” at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Off-Broadway Review: “Lewiston/Clarkston” at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

There is quite an intriguing theatrical event occurring at the Rattlestick Theater, where two ninety-minute plays separated by a thirty-minute communal dinner break takes the stage to engage an audience of fifty, in two compelling dramas. The playhouse is stripped down to its original walls discovering weathered multi paned windows and worn wainscoting, wearing years of neglect, with some sections beyond repair. This is the performance space, perhaps a foreshadowing of a shared theme of discovery, as two brave young people make a journey following the steps of their ancestors only to reveal the ugly past and face the troubled and turbulent present.

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Off-Broadway Review: “The Hello Girls” at 59E59 Theaters

Off-Broadway Review: “The Hello Girls” at 59E59 Theaters

There is no doubt that the so called “Hello Girls,” the bilingual operators that were sent to the front line to operate secured switchboards, were invaluable to the Signal Corps units in World War I. It is unfortunate that they needed to fight for sixty years to be recognized as veterans of that war in order to receive appropriate benefits. It was just one more example of the historic and ongoing women’s crusade for equal rights. So, it is fitting that there be an acknowledgement of their service in any form, including the documentary and the current stage musical by the same name now running at 59E59 Theaters. This recent tribute is produced by Prospect Theater Company and features a remarkable cast of performers who do triple duty as actors, vocalists and musicians playing multiple instruments.

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Review: “The Brutes” at New Ohio Theatre

Review: “The Brutes” at New Ohio Theatre

In their mission statement, the independent theatre company spit&vigor describes themselves as being dedicated to producing works that are both “spirited” and “innovative”. Indeed, this troupe of performers does come off as spirited, and there’s a fair amount of talent and energy to be seen. However, a better word to describe the play they’ve selected for production – The Brutes by Casey Wimpee – feels less innovative and more middling than anything else.

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