Off-Broadway Review: “Nantucket Sleigh Ride”

Off-Broadway Review: “Nantucket Sleigh Ride”

In the 18th and 19th centuries, new phrases entered the language of the sailors who took to the sea off the island of Nantucket, one of the whaling capitals of the world during that period. One specific expression “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” describes what happens when a harpooned whale drags the sailors in their long boat across the surface of the water in the wake of waves until it dies. During this treacherous event, which was a fight to the finish, sometimes the sailors also perished. John Guare’s somewhat new play (revised from a previous 2012 production at McCarter Theater) is aptly titled since the audience is only given enough to trawl over the surface of the story and characters without any depth of understanding until the play dies or the audience gives up trying to comprehend it. The switching from reality to the surreal and absurd becomes too confusing and too big a whale of a tale to comprehend the message or purpose of the play. Stopping half way through the farcical memory ride for an intermission seemed unnecessary for a ninety-five-minute play.

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Review: Mystical Feet Company & EMVEE Productions Present “THE MAR VISTA: In Search of My Mother’s Love Life”

Review: Mystical Feet Company & EMVEE Productions Present “THE MAR VISTA: In Search of My Mother’s Love Life”

Written, directed, and choreographed by the industrious and passionate Yehuda Hyman, “THE MAR VISTA: In Search of My Mother’s Love Life” is a comical, semi-autobiographical dance-play hybrid that ultimately gets lost within its dizzying breadth of aspirations.

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Off-Broadway Review: “The Mother”

Off-Broadway Review: “The Mother”

Somewhere in France, or perhaps in England in the nineteenth century, a young married woman is standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes after an evening meal. A dish slips from her hand, breaking I pieces as it hits the floor. The young woman begins to cry, sob really. Her husband not understanding any of this “odd behavior,” reaches out to the family physician who makes the diagnosis of hysteria and prescribes laudanum to “sedate” her. If the laudanum isn’t effective over time, this young woman – like many others of this time period – might be institutionalized for having “felt,” or “been sad,” or “not been a dutiful wife.”

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Review: “Tammy’s Bachelorette” at the Producer’s Club

Review: “Tammy’s Bachelorette” at the Producer’s Club

With spring time creeping right around the corner, that means only one thing in the worlds of comedy and independent theatre: The return of the long-running Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble, with their latest season at the Producer’s Club in Hell’s Kitchen. Having managed to catch all four of their shows during their season last year, I recently had the chance to return and see their most recent outing, and their first of 2019.

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Review: “Moral Support” at Medicine Show Theatre

Review: “Moral Support” at Medicine Show Theatre

Alcoholism. Abuse. Divorce. Dysfunctional families.

 All of these are familiar themes in American drama. Rightly so, given how well they’ve proven to continuously resonate with audiences, to some extent or another. However, it’s not every day you come across a script that seamlessly weaves each of them together as well as Moral Support, which recently enjoyed a successful two-week run at the well-renowned Medicine Show Theatre.

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Jeremy Jordan Owns the Stage, Bares It All, and Takes No Prisoners in His Town Hall Triumph

Jeremy Jordan Owns the Stage, Bares It All, and Takes No Prisoners in His Town Hall Triumph

It’s been said that the era of the great Broadway leading man has passed.  While this bizarre claim generally emanates from the fingertips of those who relish living in their memories and fail to provide any hard evidence, it does leave a person periodically flipping through old Playbills for great examples to the contrary. 

How fortunate are we that we need not look too far when one Mr. Jeremy Jordan is heartily emoting on the stage.  A man who truly needs no introduction to the readers of this publication, the Tony-nominated tenor occupies one of very few spots in the stratosphere of the elite and, indeed, reigns supreme among those leading men under the age of 40.  Hailing from Corpus Christi, by way of Ithaca College, Jordan not only cleaned out the inventory at the Handsome Store, but clearly ransacked the Talent Warehouse en route to Broadway.

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Off-Broadway Review: “If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka

Off-Broadway Review: “If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka

“If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka” in the Mainstage Theater at Playwrights Horizons is a must see. Audiences need to support new voices like Tori Sampson. Her contributions to the theatre will continue to challenge the ways we have understood what theatre is, how it is expressed, and how its messages can be exposed to audiences.

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Off-Broadway Review: National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s “Fiddler on the Roof”

Off-Broadway Review: National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s “Fiddler on the Roof”

One father longing to be wealthy enough to adequately care for his family – and letting the Creator know he feels overlooked – and three “adult” daughters dodging the craft of the local matchmaker are the grist for an epic challenge to the traditions held dear by the members of Tevye’s Shtetlekh and its “on-the-fence” Der Rov (a confident yet conflicted Adam B. Shapiro) who is often consulted to determine which traditions remain relevant and which might have become obsolete. Tradition. Culture. Politics. Love. Tevye grapples with these four and more in National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s “Fiddler on the Roof” currently running at Stage 42.

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“The Tallest Man in the World” at The Tank

“The Tallest Man in the World” at The Tank

Telling three intersecting stories, “The Tallest Man in the World” takes us through the fragmented mind of a man struggling with alcoholism and how that affects those around him. At the same time, we are taken to a far-off island in Ireland, home of the tallest man in the world. We see him struggle with his isolation and loneliness, a perfect mirror to the alcoholic memories of the first man.

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“Henry V” at The American Theatre of Actors

“Henry V” at The American Theatre of Actors

Telling the classic story of Henry V’s clash with France and the bloody war that followed, director, Mary Lou Rosato brings us the story once again with an effective minimal set and a large and engaging cast.  Henry V was brought to life by Laris Macario, who balanced the commanding presence of the battlefield with the warm compassion towards his fellow men very well. At first it felt as though Macario was simply screaming through his lines but this improved as the play went on.

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Review: “Toto Talks” at the Kraine Theater

Review: “Toto Talks” at the Kraine Theater

If there’s ever a such thing as a cliché, overdone type of fringe show, it would have to be this: A show that’s heavy on humor that relies too much of both innuendo and raunchy humor, as well as recycled stories and characters from within the public domain. If you’re a fan of both drag queens and The Wizard of Oz, then maybe you might enjoy spending an hour of your day watching one of this show’s last performances. Otherwise, you’re probably better off looking into one of the FRIGID Festival’s other offerings this year.

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Off-Broadway Review: “Hurricane Diane” at New York Theatre Workshop

Off-Broadway Review: “Hurricane Diane” at New York Theatre Workshop

Playwright Madeleine George sets her “Hurricane Diane” in an Early Anthropocene Time, the era defined as “the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.” Most, except members of the current Administration, see that influence to have been deleterious at best and are aware of the dire predictions for Planet Earth’s future viability unless this human activity is modified speedily and thoroughly. The effects of climate change are as evident now as they were when Ms. George’s play had its debut at Two River Theatre in New Jersey in 2017. Perhaps even more so. So why does New York Theatre Workshop team up with Women’s Project Theater to resurrect this problematic play?

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Review: “Immigrants: We Are Them, They Are Us” at The Tank

Review: “Immigrants: We Are Them, They Are Us” at The Tank

Ever since the election of Donald Trump nearly three years, the topics of immigration and racism have come to the forefront on the national conversation, and have fueled many – in some cases uncomfortable, but consistently honest and necessary – discussions on these topics in the arts and the general public sphere. The latest example of such work was seen recently at The Tank, when the Asian-American Film Lab presented Cheryl L. Davis’s new play Immigrants: We Are Them, They Are Us for a brief limited engagement.

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Off-Broadway Review: Fiasco Theater’s Production of “Merrily We Roll Along”

Off-Broadway Review: Fiasco Theater’s Production of “Merrily We Roll Along”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” could prove to become the mantra of the famed Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” which was a dismal failure when it first opened on Broadway in 1981. There is a new production helmed by the Roundabout’s resident Fiasco Theater Company which falls short of delivering a new efficacious incarnation, becoming yet another casualty in the history of this troublesome and puzzling show. This current endeavor lacks the emotional depth of the characters needed to successfully bring forth the message; additionally, the cast is not vocally capable of delivering most of the brilliant musical numbers. However, the orchestrations and new arrangements for the eight-piece orchestra by Alexander Gemignani allow the audience to wallow in the brilliance of Mr. Sondheim’s captivating score and are the highlight of this production.

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Review: “The Glass Menagerie” by Pigeonhold Theatre Company

Review: “The Glass Menagerie” by Pigeonhold Theatre Company

“The Glass Menagerie” is a Tennessee Williams’ classic that needs no introduction.  Often thought of as autobiographical the piece explores the weight of familial obligations and the dangers living in the past all told through the lens of a memory by the play’s focal point, a  guilt-ridden Tom who is often thought to be a stand-in for Williams himself.

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Review: “The Glen” at Shetler Studios

Review: “The Glen” at Shetler Studios

“The Glen” , set mostly in the 1940s and 50s, follows the life of Dale Olsen as he transitions through being a young man living on a farm in Northern California to joining the U.S Army. Telling a story of belonging, identity, and family, Dale must make sense of the world around him and ultimately himself. This makes for a very heartwarming and sometimes, tragic story that many can relate.

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Review: “MAGNUM OPUS: Resurgere Ex Cineribus” at Kickstarter HQ

Review: “MAGNUM OPUS: Resurgere Ex Cineribus” at Kickstarter HQ

On a snowy Tuesday night in Greenpoint, I found myself at the headquarters of Kickstarter. Objectively speaking, it’s hard not to describe this location as anything other than an unconventional location to present the world premiere a brand new short film production. However, MAGNUM OPUS: Resurgere Ex Cineribus – the new art film presented recently presented by a group called “The Void” – is anything but a conventional film, or even a conventional work of art.

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