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Big Times
Tuesday - Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.
Walkerspace
The Run is Over


Reviewed by Yolanda Shoshana

WET's (Women's Expressive Theater) new show Big Times is a homage to
vaudeville and what a homage it is. Big Times is seventy-five minutes of entertaining and clever theater, directed by Leigh Silverman and starring Mia Barron, Maggie Lacey, and Danielle Skraastad.

From the minute you walk into Walkerspace, you feel like you are in an old
vaudeville theater; there are old posters in the lobby area and a smell of popcorn in the air. The theater even has red curtains, a staple in old vaudeville theaters.

Big Times boasts three main characters: Sadie, Nellie, and Lucy. Three girls with nothing to lose, they show up in the Big City with a ukulele and a dream of making it in the Big Time. As they look for their place in the spotlight, they stumble into each other, join forces and realize there is nothing they cannot do.

Maggie Lacey as Sadie is simply delightful. Sadie is full of sweetness and naiveté, but certainly not the smartest one in the bunch. Mia Barron is a hoot as Nellie, the wisecracking orphan who has dreams of making it big. Danielle Skraastad is fabulous as Lucy, the sexy, hardened ex burlesque dancer. Lucy has the air of classic movie divas like Katherine Hepburn. She shines every time she hits the stage.

While Lacey, Barron, and Skraastad hit their mark with their individual performances, their ensemble work should be commended, as well. The timing between the actresses is impeccable. Their choreography, provided by Lisa Pilato, is consistently in sync. One of the things that is so clever about this show is that you feel like you are watching a show within a show as the characters stories intertwine with vaudeville acts. Kudos to the director, Leigh Silverman, for utilizing the talent of the cast in the best possible way.

The set is sparse with a table, a few chairs and some suitcases. The minimal setting suggests the locale and work to focus the audience on the performers. Live music provided by the Moonlighters is integrated into the play. The music fits the scenes and enhances the storytelling. The song "So Many Years Ago" begins the show and gives the audience a little background on the three ladies. When the band plays "Box Car with a View," the scene reminds you of the Hollywood Golden Era.

Big Times is another triumph for WET. Part of WET's mission is to challenge stereotypes of women's roles. And with the comeback of vaudeville being mainly male-dominated, this show helps highlight what the women of vaudeville can do.

If you want to have fun, see a great show and see some talented (not to mention hot) women, run, don't walk, to Big Times.

Tix $19. www.wetweb.org

Walkerspace 46 Walker Street

 



Ken and Mitzie Welch's
The Blonde in the Thunderbird
Saturdays @ 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
Closes July 23, 2005
Brooks Atkinson Theater

The Blonde is Back… Again

Reviewed by Adam Ritter

It was 1973 when Suzanne Somers leapt, or rather drove, into the public consciousness with her feature film debut in George Lucas's American Graffiti. As we will come to learn, she spent the entire evening before the shoot rehearsing her single line, "I love you," only to discover that her part, that of the "blonde in the thunderbird," was actually a silent role. Times have changed.

Flash forward to 2005 and you'll find the multifaceted actress singing, dancing and ruminating her way through an autobiographical one woman show, now playing a limited run at the Brooks Atkinson Theater.

Over Blonde's ninety-five minutes which span her fifty-eight years (Applause!), the tapestry of a career spent in and out (and back in) the crosshairs of fame are stretched and torn only to be woven together and made whole again. You'll have many "oh yeah" moments remembering all of the ways Ms. Somers publicly conquered personal demons and professional setbacks and still managed to emerge optimistic and energized at the end of every tunnel, whether there was a guiding light or not.

If you thought three was really more of a crowd, then the soundtrack of these confessions may not be music to your ears. Coy isn't the name of the game here - think mallet not scalpel.

Ms. Somers has undeniably contended with a stew of volatile ingredients… parental alcoholism, emotional abuse, infidelity, breast cancer... Not exactly the diva tribulations you anticipate rolling your eyes at, but rather the type of adversity that often devours people.

Just to add contrast, though, there's some compulsive shopping, check bouncing and contract disputes thrown in, as well. And who among us hasn't felt the sting of being kicked off television's top-rated show?

Despite the obstacles, or perhaps because of them, Ms. Somers has acquiesced to a reconstructed inner-self that breathes in the tumult of calamity and summons from it only serenity and inspiration. Where else but from a realm far beyond mortal contemplation could the Scarecrow's lament "If I Only Had a Brain" be commandeered to illustrate the depravity of self-doubt? Yes, there's a story worth telling here and you sense that at the end of this road Ms. Somers might just wonder if the style was as worthy as the substance.

But tonight, just beyond the fourth wall, looking on with admiration and remembering the ditzy, snorting roommate or those pounds that were shed with a contraption that resembles an oversized paperclip, or that young blonde in the '56 Thunderbird, there was no doubting the gracious affection this audience has for their star, and disappoint them she does not.

Tickets: 212-307-4100 or 800-755-4000 - Price $20.00-$90.00 www.ticketmaster.com.

Brooks Atkinson Theatre| 256 West 47th Street


 

Paul Boocock's
Boocock's House of Baseball
Thursday - Saturday @ 9:00 p.m.
June 30th - July 23rd
The Flea


Reviewed on June 30, 2005 by Caroline Smith

I think it’d be foul play on my part to withhold my initial feelings on this play. A Boston girl at heart, I watched my boys break the curse in October of 2004. And more true to Beantown form, I’m gloating about the win eight months later. (okay, Boston will be bragging life.) Nevertheless, I have chosen to live in this pin-striped, grid-locked city, so it’s only fair that I try out the Yankee bleachers. Or in this case, the seats in the Flea Theatre.

If Bush and Cheney were to be elected again there would only be one thing worth staying for, according to performer, Paul Boocock. Baseball. In his all-star one-man-show, he uses the sport as a vehicle for viewing contemporary politics.

“Baseball can represent the best things about our democracy. The rules apply equally to all participants.” – Boocock

From my knowledge, this is true. When baseball is played well, fans become emotionally invested with a team. They trust what happens on the field more often than they trust the news coverage. Why is that? Boocock says it’s because sports happen in real time, with real players. In life and in the theater, there is always the search for truth. And baseball gives us truth at the swing of a bat.

The stage was bare with the exception of a single water cooler, giving Boocock ample room to catch imaginary balls and hit homeruns (also imaginary) into the audience. He had a "Babe Ruth confidence" about him. I saw him sitting Indian- style in front of a TV set as a kid smacking a glove. The performance, straying from sentimental, would not have been stitched together right if it were performed by someone who didn’t live and breathe baseball. Paul Boocock... grew up... with baseball.

He took both a hitter’s and a politician’s stance on the steroid issue. Performance enhancers have rocked our sports nation and seriously altered the morale of the game. Boocock had a way of highlighting a player’s personal fouls with his gains. His physicality was a “show all, tell none” display. We knew the Darryl Strawberry and the Jason Giambi cut-outs immediately. Through these impersonations he raised the question of accountability. Should we bench George Bush for his past offenses or should we bench our power hitters? Where is the umpire when you need him most?

Overall, the parallel he makes is a good one. Sports and politics run side-by-side so often that they began to resemble the red and white stripes of the flag backdrop behind him. In a country that puts so much precedence on who wins, it’s easy to understand our fascination with sport.

It’s going, it’s going, it’s gone! Be sure to catch this limited engagement!

Tickets: $15. Call (212) 352-3101 or visit www.theatermania.com
Running time: 70 minutes
Trains: A, C, E, 6, N, R, Q, W to Canal or 1, 9 to Franklin

THE FLEA THEATER |41 White Street (Broadway & Church Street)


Elephant Larry presents…
BOOM
Saturdays, July 9th, 16th, 23rd @ 8:00 p.m.
August 6th, 13th, 27th @ 8:00 p.m.
The PIT



Reviewed on April 23, 2005 at 9:00 p.m. by Caroline Smith

What’s more refreshing than snorting out loud because you’re laughing so hard? I guarantee that that distinctive noise hardly escapes your trunk at other amateur stand-up nights around the city. This doesn’t even happen while you’re watching SNL on a good night. But on April 23rd, I joined the circus with award-winning sketch comedy group, Elephant Larry, and laughed like a hyena. New Yorkers in general need to laugh like this.

These guys were electrifying. The funny tune that opened the show only had a snowball effect for the remainder of the hour. The audience loved the immediate energy that this group brought and their outbursts of chuckles echoed every wild and outrageous sketch. Clever jokes aside, I had the impression that these were five little boys having fun. That comes with knowing, collaborating, and surrounding oneself all the time with each other’s talent. And I was right. All five elephants were once members of Cornell University’s sketch comedy group, Skits-O-Phrenics. After graduation, their laughter moved to NYC and BOOM! history was made. Check out their success.

July-August 2004: Elephant Larry presents two shows as part of the New York International Fringe Festival.

June 2004: Elephant Larry wins the Audience & Jury Awards at the Bass Red Triangle Comedy Tour.

June 2004: Elephant Larry named Backstage Comedy Best Best of 2004.

February 2004: Elephant Larry begins their three month sold-out run of All Aboard the U.S.S. Boatship.

October 2003: Winner of Sketch Fights at Caroline’s Comedy Club, awarded the title of “New York’s Best Comedy Writers.”

May 2003: Finalist for “Best Sketch Comedy Group” at the ECNY’s (Emerging Comics of New York Awards).

In all honesty, this review has already been written. There is no bragging necessary for this talented group. But what I can say is that I admired the group’s collaboration and originality. Not only were you listening to jokes, but also you were having a multi-media and smile-inducing experience. Colorful, random video skits enhanced the live skits on stage.

It’s true that there’s a quirky and absurd quality to the makeup of this group, but this helps define and stretch the term, “sketch comedy.” The city is hungry for this kind of energy. They’re quick, smart, and keep the ball moving. Sketches influenced by puns and “What Year Is It?”, to name a couple, grabbed you. But ending with the “Earth Rap” made our hearts and laughter BOOM from our chests. Elephants never forget and neither should you, so get to The PIT and start your roaring. These guys rock.

The Elephants: Geoff Haggerty, Stefan Lawrence, Chris Principe, Jeff Solomon, and Alexander Zalben

Tickets $8. Call 212.563.7488 For Reservations or Contact: 917.309.5965
info@elephantlarry.com/ www.elephantlarry.com

The People’s Improv Theater (The PIT)|154 W 29th Street (Between 6th and 7th Avenues)

 




Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson's
Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy
Tuesdays – Saturdays @ 8:00 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays @ 10:30 p.m.
Sundays @ 6:00 p.m.
Through Saturday, August 27th
The East 13th Street Theatre


Starring: Corey Feldman as Michael Douglas (Dan Gallagher); Alana McNair as Glenn Close (Alex Forrest); Kate Wilkenson as Ann Archer (Beth Gallagher); and Aaron Haskell as Ellen Hamilton Latzen (Beth Gallagher). And as the Greek Chorus: Kellie Arens; Nick Arens; Ebony Cross; and Sergio Lobito.

Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams

Tim Haskell and Gorilla Productions are playing dirty this summer and having lots of fun with pot roasts, knives, dead bunnies, white bathtubs and dry-hump sex. Yup, it’s Fatal Attraction time you 80's freaks - blowing across two decades to titillate you with fog machines, strobe lights and blood-squirting gizmos.

I loved Fatal Attraction, the movie, with its themes of good and evil, flirtation and nasty sex. And I especially loved Ann Archer’s apartment and country home and Glen Close’s ultra-sexy loft. These prime pieces of real estate represented two opposing dreams of Manhattan in the 80’s – the traditional Upper-East-Side-to-Westchester story and an ultra-chic fashionista story of urban adventure. And make no mistake about it, the conflict in the movie (and the play) is between those two women - Ann Archer and Glenn Close. Michael Douglas was just their personal West Bank, the man-toy grand prize that both women desired to either keep (Ann Archer) or obtain (Glenn Close).

And Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy is just plain fun. In the play, the characters in the movie are called by their movie star names – the way we remember them, anyway. Glenn Close’s sexy white (business woman) outfit is back, initially masking her pathology just the way it did in the movie. There is a Greek chorus roaming the stage, acting in some of the scenes, narrating the story and performing some interesting and fun dance numbers. And everything is deconstructed. Glenn Close’s obsession with Madame Butterfly is now a love for the soundtrack from Miss Saigon. Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson obviously loved the movie and had a blast writing their script.

All the actors do a fine job and are obviously having a good time on stage. Corey Feldman is especially funny with his spoiled rich guy puss and deadpan delivery. He perfectly depicts Michael Douglas’s (Dan Gallagher's) totally entrenched belief that he is entitled to have it all (it was the 80’s, after all). So it is a lot of fun to watch Glenn Close (Alana McNair) tell him, "I will not be ignored, Michael Douglas."

Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy is directed by Timothy Haskell. The rest of the artistic team includes: Rebecca Ramirez (Dance Choreography), Rod Kinter (Fight Choreography), Wendy Yang (Costumes), Tyler Micoleau (Lights), Paul Smithyman (Sets), Faye Armon (Props), Vincent Olivieri (Sound).

Tickets will be $49.50 for all seats except $45 for Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling Ticket Central at 212.279.4200, or by oing to www.ticketcentral.com For more information, please visit: www.fatalattractiontheplay.com

The East 13th Street Theatre |136 East 13th Street
(between 3rd and 4th Avenues, just southeast of Union Square)




Sabooge Theatre’s
Fathom
Devised and created by the company
12th Annual Ice Factory
July 2005
Soho Ohio Theatre
The Run is over

Reviewed by Christina M. Hinke

The Ice Factory. The name alone sounded like a refreshing place to cool off away from the ninety-degree heat of summer. So, needing a chill, I went to see the first “Ice Play" (in a lineup of six plays) - the stimulating show, Fathom.

As the performance began, I heard the swish of rushing water and the sound of birds singing above my head. It was so realistic, I was waiting for water to pour down upon me. Adeptly tuned to the acoustics of the space, the sound effects were played live through horns, string instruments, flutes and more. The sounds truly added to the visual treat of the entire experience.

The stage setting of colonial Tasmania was simple yet profound. A ship’s sail was the backdrop, and it was used to show ethereal images in split-screen style. As I watched a scene in the foreground, I saw a simultaneous presentation behind the swatch of fabric – e.g., a man swimming underwater or a woman searching for her boy. Each muscle and body feature was lit up like firelight lights a face at a campfire, creating an eerie, mesmerizing glow.

Fathom is an inventive play centered on the idea that if you take a creature out of its environment, it will not survive. A seventeen-year-old boy, who is wheezing for air, has a secret. He breathes underwater. A naturalist and shell collector has come to a faraway place to do his work. He befriends the boy and soon discovers his talent.

The story involves Fabian, the sickly boy (Patrick Costello); his mother Sarah (Adrienne Kapstein); her two employers, Dr. Watson (Andrew Shaver), a scientist who studies human skulls to predict a person’s behavior; his wife, Lady Jane Franklin (Kayla Fell), a woman’s activist; and the London naturalist, Alastair (Attila Clemann).

Richard Crawford directed the show’s inventive storyline with precision. Not a minute was wasted in the scripted dialogue, and all the cast and musicians gave compelling performances.

Watch for Fathom to hit other festivals in the future (I can’t "fathom" why it wouldn’t travel onward!). Fathom recently won the award for Best Show at the 2004 ESB Dublin Fringe Festival, and the award for Best Text at the 2004 Montreal Critics' Circle Awards.


 



David Mamet's
Glengarry Glen Ross
May 1st - August 28th 2005
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (formerly Royale)

Starring: Alan Alda as Shelly Levene, Liev Schreiber as Richard Roma, Frederick Weller as John Williamson, Tom Wopat as James Lingk, Gordon Clapp as Dave Moss, Jeffrey Tambor as George Aaronow and Jordan Lage as Baylen

Reviewed by Christina M. Hinke


Joe Mantello’s revival of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a taut, funny look at a group of smarmy real estate salesmen who will do anything to make a sale. Winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, this all-male cast kicks up the testosterone and puts on one hell of a show.

The top seller, Richard Roma is played with power and pizzazz by Liev Schreiber (Tony for Best Featured Actor). He has the Italian machismo down. With his impeccably tailored suits and a black onyx pinky ring on his right hand, he emphatically gets his message across as he talks in his bada-bing voice and throws his hands around to accentuate a point.

Among his colleagues are the old-timer Shelly “the machine” Levene (Alan Alda), the unsuccessful-with-no-balls George Aaronow (Jeffrey Tambor), and the strong-headed loudmouth, Dave Moss (Gordon Clapp). All of them are led by office boss, John Williamson (Frederick Weller). Weller seems to take his lead from the company man, Lumbergh, of the film Office Space, complete with large-framed glasses and back-stabbing persona. Even his smile is sadistically fake.

In the opening scene, Shelly, desperate to close a deal, meets with Williamson at a gaudy Chinese restaurant complete with an aquarium large enough to hold a shark. Using the F word like a machine-gun-in-open-fire (the lady-who-lunches-next-to-me gasped), he frantically tries to get some hot leads from Weller. Alda, looking old (jowls and all), seems custom-made to play a man stuck in his memories of being a-top-seller-who-had-all-the-tricks-of-the-trade, but now refuses to admit he doesn’t have it anymore. His suit is too big to hold his withering frame and his posture is slumped over, making him look like a man begging for dinner.

As the second act opens, we see a lowly real estate office with nine fluorescent overhead lamps (one burned out). The set is so honest with its fake wood paneling, cheap furniture, revolving doors and a chalkboard covered with statistics about the “top sales.” The setting is perfect in its sheer dankness.

Tom Wopat’s quiet portrayal of James Lingk, a man being all walked over by the sales shark Roma, is dead-on. Head lowered and twiddling his thumbs, he attempts to get his money back from a signed deal, just because his wife said so. Dressed in rumpled khakis and a tired wind-breaker, he is no match for the sweet-talking Roma. This scene epitomizes the tale.

Glengarry
is an ideal play. The 1992 movie was remarkable, but after seeing Glengarry on Broadway, it is clear to me why it was originally written for the energy of the stage. And who better for the lead than the mesmerizing Schreiber.

Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (formerly Royale) 242 W. 45th St.



Scott Capurro's
Loaded
July 20-23, 2005
Ars Nova Theater

Loaded and Reloaded

Reviewed by Adam Ritter

Haven't you ever wanted to put a couple of bullets into your parents' heads? Are you still a vegetarian if you drink urine? Why are psychopaths often hotties? So go the musings of Scott Capurro, playwright, author, borderline-creepy comedian and star of Loaded, now playing at the ARS Nova Theater.

There's an arguably thin line between familial dysfunction and double homicide. We may never have known this had Erik Menendez been more of a homely-looking murderer. Instead his cinematic good looks prompted Mr. Capurro to overlook that solitary youthful indiscretion (the shot-gunning of his parents, that is) and initiate a short-lived pen pal relationship with Mr. Menendez, who (along with his brother Lyle) was at the time on trial for parenticide in California.

In a self-described "cock-sucking seizure", Mr. Capurro anchors his comedy about family and relationships on the bizarre association that he was compelled to develop with Mr. Menendez. It's no surprise that there was somewhat of a strained relationship between Mr. Capurro and his own father, whom we discover was not only distant, but who - according to his mother's stoic observation – was also well-hung and "came" by the bucket load. Admittedly their internecine hostility was never on par with the fallout the Menendez family seemed to experience. Several parallels are drawn, nonetheless.

Why Erik Menendez, you might ask? Well, Erik still had all of his own hair, unlike Lyle. And Dahmer only sent back form letters.

Mr. Capurro is joined onstage by actor/playwright Mark Farrell who portrays both Mr. Menendez and Simon, an adrenal-gland-deficient and therefore enthusiasm-deprived former co-worker whom Mr. Capurro recalls with inexplicable fondness. The subplot builds up steam but ultimately fizzles.

Very much in his element in this intimate setting, Mr. Capurro reminisces and philosophizes with the audience, who must check their rectitude at the door or risk utter revulsion. The daring will be glad they did as neurotic ruminations rain down to the cadence of a cleverly-arranged slide-show that serves to illustrate the nuances of Mr. Capurro's narrative.

If the subject matter doesn't keep you at bay, then you will not be able to resist laughing at the feverishly paced, eyebrow-raising quips, contemplations and self-effacing one-liners that infuse Mr. Capurro's performance.

www.arsnovanyc.com


 




The York's Theatre Company's
The Musical of Musicals - The Musical!
Open Run
The New Dodger Stages

Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams

The Musical of Musicals - The Musical! is a hysterically funny musical satire depicting a simple story, about an ingénue who cannot pay her rent, told in the style of five musical comedy greats: Rodgers and Hammerstein (Corn); Stephen Sondheim (A Little Complex); Jerry Herman (Dear Abby); Andrew Lloyd Webber (Aspects of Juanita); and Kander and Ebb (Speakeasy).  All of this fun was written by Eric Rockwell (Music and Co-Writer Book) and Joanne Bogart (Lyrics and Co-Writer Book), who also appear in the show. The very talented Pamela Hunt is both director and choreographer of the show.

The show works on many levels.  First there is a marvelous cast: Lovette George (the ingénue who can't pay her rent); Craig Fols (the slightly foolish hero who will pay her rent); Joanne Bogart (the wise older woman); and Eric Rockwell (the villain/piano player).  They all have great voices and to-the-nanosecond comic timing.  They were also great fun to look at.  Their costumes were simple, variations on black cabaret-type attire, but their faces were amazing.  Lovette George, in particular, could give Jim Carrey a run for his money in a "Who's got the best rubber face?" competition. 

Then there are the jokes - total howlers for audience members familiar with the various composers, but still funny enough to elicit a laugh from a musical comedy novice.  After I saw the show I was talking about it with a relative who has performed in musical comedies since she was a child.  I told her she had to see it, because she would probably like it even more than I did because she would get some of the more obscure musical comedy references.  She then asked me if her six-year-old daughter would like it.  I thought for a moment and said, "Yes, she would.  She would not get the insider jokes, but the performers are so funny and the musical numbers are so wonderful that she would like it anyway."  But before you make reservations for a first grade class, let me add one caveat:  I know this kid and she adored Phantom and Little Shop.

All the different segments work.  The show starts with a dead-on send up of Rodgers and Hammerstein set amid the corn fields of August, then moves on to a cynically twisted scene set in an apartment house in the dark world of Sondheim.  Next it was time to idolize-a-diva in the Jerry Herman scene. I have seen many middle-aged community theater divas ham it up as Mame, so those jokes killed me. A total Phantom junkie, I loved the Andrew Lloyd Webber piece. The night I attended, when it was time for the Webber piece, someone in the audience groaned and said, "He deserves to be skewered." But they sure did laugh during the scene and all the Webberesque songs were beautiful.  The show ends with a very witty Kander and Ebb segment, with the final bits sung in many different languages.  Life is so very Cabaret! 

The York Theater has an excellent road show on their hands.  Musical has a simple set and most of the music is supplied by an onstage piano.  This show could easily be performed in a large cabaret space.  Throughout the country there are people who cut their theatrical teeth on musicals, and they will be a perfect audience for this show.  I only hope that if it tours, it tours with this cast. Bravo!

Reviewers note: I saw this show last July at the York Theater and wrote the review at that time. I saw it again on opening night February 10th and it was even more fun than the first time.

Tickets are $55 and $59.50 (Friday and Saturday evenings) and are available through Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or at the Dodger Stages Box Office. For information visit www.musicalofmusicals.com.

Dodger Stages, Stage Five |340 W 50th St

 








Jamie Carmichael's
Pilgrims
Tuesday - Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.
July 8th - July 29th
The Medicine Show Theater


Reviewed by Tova Bernbaum

Is it wrong to ask that the privileged be held to a higher standard of anguish than the rest of us? This question sounds a bit cold, I realize, but let me explain: Wealthy, beautiful people are entitled to their problems, of course, but if a playwright is going to arouse audience sympathy, shouldn’t said problems be bigger than the average existential crisis, or the my-parents-don’t-love-me-enough syndrome? All too often, stories about rich white folks and their issues come off as condescending rather than profound, as if the playwright is flattering us by saying, “Hey, you know those people who seem to have it all? Well – surprise! - their lives suck just as much as yours do!”

Such were the thoughts running through my head as I watched Pilgrims, a new play by Jamie Carmichael running at the Medicine Show Theatre through July 29th. On a minimalist stage, four actors play various characters in a series of scenes that at first seem disconnected, but eventually string together. Lauren (Emily Young) is a troubled but popular college student who befriends and taunts Alvie (Rufus Tureen), an outcast on their Ivy League campus; her spiritualist brother, Serge (Eric Murdoch), is trying to convince Tamara (Catherine Gowl) to use meditation to cope with the loss of her brother (whom we are introduced to briefly in the first scene, as Tamara is escorting him to a mental institution). Each character is experiencing some kind of emotional pain, but because of the elliptical nature of the play, we never really see the cause of his or her suffering. Lauren, in particular, is painted as a depressed wild-child, but the only possible motive for her discontent is revealed through a few words about rich, neglectful parents. In the absence of a concrete, developed backstory, the characters’ sorrow seems like the kind of melancholy that grows in the place of real problems, or the kind that exists simply to serve the playwright’s purposes.

This is not to say that Pilgrims is without charm. Thanks to a talented, attractive cast and brisk direction, the play is always interesting to watch and hums along at an energetic pace. There are also funny moments when the actors will break the fourth wall to comment on the action or speak to the audience, an amusing tactic that jibes well with the laidback, minimalist style of the piece. Pilgrims may not have been a profoundly moving experience for me, but it did manage to keep my attention for a full seventy-five minutes, which in this generation of ADD and MTV is quite a feat.

Tickets are $15.00 - www.theatermania.com The running time is 75 minutes with no intermission. For more information please visit:
www.babeltheatreproject.org

The Medicine Show Theater |549 West 52nd Street, 3rd Floor.






Shonn Wiley and Stephen Dolginoff

Stephen Dolginoff 's
Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story
Monday - Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.
Wed & Sat @ 2:30 p.m.
Now extended until August 31st
York Theatre


A dark psychological story about obsession and the sexiness of evil.

Starring: Doug Kreeger as Richard Loeb; Matt Bauer as Nathan Leopold

Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams


“Relationships can be murder,” is the tag line the York Theater is using to market their new musical, Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story. And it is a truly murderous relationship being depicted in this musical - the relationship of the infamous Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Most of the people who read this review will be too young to know about Leopold and Loeb. Those murderous boys were the OJ or Scott Peterson of my mother’s generation - the bogey men who scared her at night and the reason her own mother warned her to never talk to strangers or she would end up like little Bobby Frank. Yes, little Bobby Frank, the little boy who died for no reason at all except to supply a thrill to two privileged University of Chicago students who killed little him just for the fun of it.

The York Theater’s Thrill Me takes the audience to a very dark place. The kind of place you go to and afterwards you need a bath. And you go willingly, holding onto the arm of your chair as you fall into the sick relationship between these two young men, a relationship of domination and compulsion between the masterfully evil Richard and his equally evil and willing slave, Nathan. And as you fall you get shivers down your back from the line, “Thrill me, babe!”

The York Theater’s production is spare, set on a black stage with very little in the way of setting. A piano is the only musical instrument used to play the haunting and beautiful score. (But it is a piano being played superbly by the very talented Eugene Gwozdz, recently of Fort Worth’s Casa Manana.) But the minimalism works by forcing the audience’s focus on the sickness of the relationship between the two men, and also on the beauty of the sung score. So Bravo to the York Theatre for pulling another one out of their hat. Congratulations to Director Michael Rupert and congratulations also to Jim Kierstead, the Associate Producer who shepherded this show from the Midtown Theater Festival to the York Theater.

Update: 6/28/05. I just got an email from David McCoy, the Executive Director of the York Theater. "Also exciting is that the author (Stephen Dolginoff) is now playing the role of Nathan. He is doing a fine job ... adds a different dimension. What a talent!"


Another update: 7/28/05. This time it was from Helen Davis of Helen Davis PR. "Shonn Wiley, who recently received rave reviews for his portrayal of "Younger Brother" in the Papermill Playhouse production of Ragtime, and who was featured on Broadway in Dracula and 42nd Street, will assume the role of the sinister Richard Loeb in Stephen Dolginoff's Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story at The York Theatre Company."



Tickets are $55. www.smarttix.com or 212-868-4444.

York Theatre Company's Website: www.yorktheatre.org

York Theatre Company at St. Peters |619 Lexington Avenue


 


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