Colin Campbell's
August 2004
NYFringe Festival

"An unfortunate family journeys west in 1901 in search of the American Dream, but finds… Los Angeles. Opium! Pornography! Prostitution! Disfigurement! Asphyxiation! Apoplexy! Fun for the whole family."

Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams

Golden Prospects is a classic melodrama complete with stalwart heroes, damsels in distress and cape-wearing, mustache-twirling villains. This show is a hoot, and brilliant to boot. Colin Campbell is a very good writer, but he is an even better director.

In theater, casting is everything and Mr. Campbell chose an incredible cast: Colin Campbell (himself), Max Faugno, Dennis Fox, David Furr, Katie Firth, Karl Herlinger, Suli Holum, Vin Knight, David Libby (original music and piano), Rebecca Lowman, Trey Lyford and Jordin Ruderman, Every one of these talented actors totally got it. They skillfully used their bodies and voices to depict the heightened style demanded by melodrama. They didn't just say their lines, they moved their lines.

One of my director friends has a funny joke. He asks,"What is the difference between a joke and a bus?" The punch line is, "If a bus is late, it is still a bus." Prospects has many funny moments - some examples are their campy amputations, cruel seductions and the hyper-pronunciation of words like Los Angeles and cruel (cru-well). In comedy, timing is everything, and Golden Prospects is timed like a stopwatch. Comic timing is a gift from the gods that can be developed but not taught. It is an inborn talent, like perfect pitch. Here they were, twelve actors who had been blessed by the comic gods and goddesses, not one but twelve. I review a lot of off-off-Broadway shows, and I have never before seen this many gifted comedic actors all on one stage.

The costumes (by Melissa Schlactmeyer) were beautiful and appropriately period - a lot of fun capes, carnival barker costumes, white period dresses, etc. The show is hilarious in this bare bones presentation, but would be even funnier if time and money had allowed for a lighting designer, set designer and sound designer who possessed the same campy, outrageous sense of humor as Mr. Campbell. This show could also use some beer as well as some popcorn - so the audience has something to throw as they hiss and boo.

Golden Prospects has one more show on August 29th @ 2:45 PM. at the Linhart Theater, 440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor (Astor Place / 4th Street). Tickets are $15. For tickets visit or call in New York: 212.279.4488 or Outside New York: 1.888.FringeNYC

James Christy Jr's
August 2004
NYFringe Festival

Reviewed by Jeffrey N. Gangemi

Currently winding down its 6th year, the New York Fringe Festival has quickly grown into the largest multi-arts festival in North America. With more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for sixteen days in more than twenty venues, its website proudly declares that this gala of the arts attracts a "young, educated, culturally adventurous audience." An estimated 60% of attendants fall between the ages of 18 and 35. Investigating further, I am beginning to feel like I'm onto something here. I find myself shouting, "This isn't just any demographic! This is my demographic!" I begin to wonder what this play called "Never Tell," a collaboration of father-son team James Christy Jr. (Playwright) and James Christy Sr. (Director), might offer a person of my demographic.

As I sweat my way to the 4th floor of 380 Broadway, the name Access Theatre starts to seem a misnomer. My expectations are high, but I don't know if they're this high. Not three minutes inside the lobby, the volunteer doorman is already giving me rave second-hand reviews of the show. Next, the playwright himself proudly tells me that his production has been extended for two more days beyond the end of the festival. "Wow!" I think to myself, "I'm impressed already." But, at the same time, I can't help wondering, "If you continue beyond the fringe, where exactly does that leave you?" I am hoping I will soon be privy to that information.

According to the playwright, "Never Tell" presents, "in a vivid series of ironically comic and emotionally explosive scenes, a contemporary of friendship and betrayal." Ten minutes into the action, it occurs to me that I'm experiencing something more here; this play ventures even deeper - into the depths of the human psyche and its different methods of communicating truth. From technology to art to verbal interaction, extending to love and all the acts it entails, the characters communicate with each other in any number of ways. Through the action and dialogue, Christy ponders how a person's concept of truth and his modes of communication contribute to his eventual happiness and success in sex and relationships.

Furthermore, in "Never Tell," I found an exceedingly well-crafted sequence of monologues and dramatic interchanges with just the right amount of humor woven in. The work delves into the complex and convoluted web of relationships between five young New Yorkers. Manny, a mentally unstable everyman, hopes to change his life (and the world) with a computer program that can predict human behavior. Will, an artist and curator, gains notoriety through an art installation that includes documentary style footage of a rape. Will's wife, Anne, and her best friend, Liz, engage in unhealthy relationships with men for different reasons. And finally, the enigmatic and improbable Hoover exposes all of their problems, enabling a final resolution.

For me, contemplating Hoover's actions and the motives behind them is the highlight of the play. No doubt, the ease and humor with which actor Josh Weinstein delivers his performance are a major factor. But moreover, Christy's writing easily conveys the multiplicity of emotions at work between the characters. Manny's desperation and paranoia, Will's audacity, Liz's helplessness, along with Hoover's wit and deceptiveness are all given, through monologue and dialogue, appropriate attention and background as to simplify an otherwise complex series of interactions.

Each time I check in with myself, I find my brain performing cartwheels. One moment I'm laughing. The next I'm horrified. Through it all, I am unmistakably enjoying myself, despite the darkness that lurks just below the characters' skin, eating away at them from the inside out.

As I make my way home from the theatre, I feel like I'm bringing a bit of the Fringe Festival back to Brooklyn with me. And after regaining my senses, they're all in agreement. This is a great play. Congratulations to James Christy Jr. on a very promising debut.

Never Tell has two more shows - Monday August 30th @ 8:00 PM
Tuesday August 31st @ 8:00 PM - at the Access Theater, 380 Broadway. Tickets are $15. For tickets visit or call in New York: 212.279.4488 or Outside New York: 1.888.FringeNYC


Matthew Holtzclaw's
Cane's Bayou
The NYC Fringe Festival

"Don't say sad stuff like that when I'm buzzing," Lila Baggot

Reviewed by Stephanie Alberico

What a relief! I attended my first play at the Fringe Festival and it was delightful. I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by "Cane's Bayou," a play by Matthew Holtzclaw.

"Bayou" is a small production about the hardships of life in the rural south. It was a riot. Drinking,nudity, cursing and offensive one-liners makeup the entire play. Nonetheless, it also dealt with the harsh realities of autism. Gary Michael McElroy, who plays Cane, portrays an autistic adult. His performance was touching and spellbinding. Only six actors are actually in the play, but they all did a wonderful job. The redneck accents and jokes were impressive, believable and hilarious.

These cast members were tight-knit and worked extremely well together.
Their individual and ensemble performances proved their closeness as a cast. They had obviously worked together before and complemented each other on stage. The atmosphere was comfortable and confident, which made it seem authentic and real.

This play was not your normal play. "Cane's Bayou" offers an alternative to the norm and reveals an unusual experience for any audience. There were no big production scenes, minimal props, and no real costume changes. This allowed for some actual "acting," because it forced the actors to keep the audience's attention only through their characters. The set had a couch, a blanket, a table, and a phone. These same props served as the set for Luther and Cane's trailer, Gamey's truck, a bar, and Graceland Construction.

Luther, played by Matthew Holtzclaw, is a quiet, nervous, unsure character who takes care of his retarded brother, Cane. Luther can't catch a break and by the advice of his boss, Ol' Boot, played by Delano Dunn, goes to a bar to meet women. This is where he meets Lila Baggot.

Lila, played by Rachel Plotkin, is the blonde, skinny love interest of
Luther. She works at the bakery at Winn-Dixie and is a loud drunk. The play moves forward with ease and comedy, as the actors chug Natural Light and crack jokes about the lifestyles of rednecks.

Gamey, played by Tony Larkin, is Lila's hateful brother who is always
accompanied by his sidekick, Hunter, played by Matt Hobby. Gamey takes a liking to Cane, but continues to harass Lila about everything. Cane and Luther's complicated relationships are the main focus of this
play. Most of the drama occurs in the haunted swampy grounds of Cane's
Bayou. Cane's girlfriend is also retarded and her name is Bang-Bang, played by Betsy Winchester. She has also mastered the art of playing an autistic female.

"Cane's Bayou" is light and funny. The story and the string of events did not seem to matter as much as the humor and the characters. If you need a break from the hyped-up, extravagant and expensive Broadway plays, this is definitely the play to go see.

"Cane's Bayou" is presented by The Matchbook Theatre Company. Tickets can be purchased at or call 212-279-4488 (in New York) or 1-888-FringeNYC (outside New York). All tickets $15. "Cane's Bayou" runs August 17th-August 25th at Schaeberle Studio/Pace University.

Christopher Durang's
Beyond Therapy

Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams

Christopher Durang (Betty's Summer Vacation, Sister Mary Ignatius Explain It All for You) is one of my favorite playwrights and Durang's "Beyond Therapy" is one of my favorite plays. "Therapy" opened on Broadway in 1982 with Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow in the roles of Prudence and Bruce. Unfortunately I was unable to attend due to an extended childhood. So on Saturday August 14th, I happily went to see "Beyond Therapy" performed by The Source Works Theater Company. And all I can say is, "Wow!"

Director Mark Cannistraro did an amazing job with this show. First, he chose a wonderful cast: Kurt Bauccio as Bruce, Tom Daddario as Dr. Stuart Framingham, Matt Fraley as Andrew, Brad Letson as Bob, Forba Shepherd as Mrs. Charlotte Wallace and Marlene Wallace (also amazing in True West) as Prudence. Most off-off-Broadway shows have a few good actors and one or two so-so actors that the good ones have to drag behind them to the very end. That is certainly not the case with this troupe. Everyone on stage was absolutely hysterical. The actors were obviously having a blast, depicting every bizarre personality disorder known to man.

The set was very simple. Dillons is a supper club/cabaret space and can only accommodate "suitcase" plays. But nevertheless, I was totally taken into the bizarre world of these crazy characters. All the scenes were impeccably timed and I really have absolutely no criticism of anything.

Christopher Durang is a very funny absurdist playwright. I can just imagine him writing his plays, sitting in front of his computer, cracking himself up as he comes up with this insanity. Saying to himself, "Really should I? Will they be too……oh, why not? Hee, hee, hee!"

There are only supposed to be two more Therapy sessions, August 21st and 28th at 8PM, so everyone needs to rush over to Dillons at 245 West 54th Street and see the show before it closes. And if you miss it, perhaps you can ask the cast to come to your home and perform the show for you. I don't know what the price would be, but whatever it is, it would be worth it. After all, this is New York and we can all use a little therapy.



ALL GOOD THINGS: The Story of the Remains
August 2004
The NYC Fringe Festival

They were magic. They were how you told a stranger about rock' n' roll." Jon Landau, Crawdaddy

"All Good Things: The Story of the Remains" is a play about a Boston "boy band" that was popular in the sixties during the time of the English invasion (aka The Beatles). Here is a quote from their press release: "They were signed by Columbia Records. They played on Ed Sullivan. They opened for The Beatles! They never had a hit. What went wrong?"

All "All Good Things" is directed by David Roth, with a book by Michael Eric Stein and music and lyrics by The Remains. It stars Ryan Link, Anthony Rand, Clayton Fletcher, Jay Greenberg, Daniel Hall, Jay Strauss, Dorothy Abrahams, Dina Drew, Melanie McCarthy, Michelle Pruett, Elliott Mayer, Michael James Stamberg, Jason Summers and Daryl Wein. Here is an interesting note from their press materials: The original members of the Remains were from Westport, Connecticut, as is the director, David Roth.

The Remains were formed in the early sixties at Boston College by Barry Tashian, William Briggs and Vernon Miller. They then persuaded Chip Damiani to join as their drummer. The band became a hit in New England with their signature "bottom heavy" rock, so much so that they decided to quit college and move to New York. This move was much to the chagrin of their affluent Westport parents, who were expecting much more from their sons. Once in New York, they encountered repeated cycles of feast and famine as exhibited by playing on the Ed Sullivan Show. Playing Sullivan was a huge honor which did not pay off in fame and fortune, because the show's producers insisted that they mute their heavy sound. They also had good luck in getting a record contract, but bad luck when another group recorded the same single at the same time. All of this up-and-down cycle culminated when after touring with the Beatles (minus drummer Damiani), they were left in Los Angeles forced to get minor gigs to earn enough money to fly home. And soon afterwards, they disbanded.

When watching the show, I could not help but think about fame and fortune and wonder what would have happened for The Remains if they had not quit and stayed on to fight another day. I have a copy of their CD and the music is great. But they were Boston College boys (by way of Westport, Connecticut Boston College boys), and a life of failure and poverty must have been unthinkable.

When you see a show at The Fringe, you see a skeleton, an idea of what a show could be. "All Good Things" is no different. It is a show about a rock band, staged in a gymnasium without proper sound or lighting - a first look for everyone, including the writer, director, and cast. There were some very talented actors and musicians on stage (Ryan Link is always a favorite) and a very poignant story of lost possibilities. So I was left with the same question about the show that bedeviled the Remains themselves. Is there something here, something that should go on, something worth investing more time, money, energy? And the answer is yes, there is something here, something that should go on, a story worth telling, something that is worth putting up again and again - seeing what it looks like, making changes, allowing it to grow, allowing it to Remain. Rock on!


Lance Werth's
High Cotton
The NYC Fringe Festival

"High Cotton," produced by Meredith Lucio (Tex-in-the-City) and directed by Joseph P. McDonnell (director of the Fringe debut of Urinetown), has enjoyed a great run at this years Fringe Festival, playing to full appreciative houses. High in the Cotton is the cast: Claire Alpern (Lurlene), Eric C. Bailey (The Willets), Ivanna Cullinan (Cordelia), Cole Kazdin (Jean), Roland Johnson (Grand Dandy/Grand Mandy), Peter Maris (Flint), and Flotilla DeBarge (Partition).

The plot is a simple melodrama, a loose retelling of King Lear with a twisted ending and lots of fluff added just for the fun of it. There is the father, Grand Dandy, and his three daughters Cordelia (the drunk), Lurlene (the religious nut) and Jean (the sexy bombshell). The other members of the household are Flint (the hunky handyman) and Partition (the saucy maid). All of these characters are tossed together and soaked in the home-made Southern hooch that is "High Cotton."

The script is pure camp and it is served up expertly by the performances of the two veteran character actors: Flotilla DeBarge (the black maid) and Eric C. Bailey (several official-sounding men). They both had amazing timing with all their lines and could elicit laughs by simply walking on stage.

The beauty of the Fringe Festival is its function as an incubator, giving many shows their first chance to play in front of a live audience, a chance to "let her rip." In any comedy, the audience is a member of the cast and they have their own lines, their laughs. Comedy cannot exist without an audience. And High Cotton, with the help of the Fringe Festival, is now well out of the box and out there strutting its campy stuff in front of full houses. So let the show go on, cuz the Cotton is high and the living is easy.

 Tracy Lett's

Tuesdays - Fridays at 8 PM
Saturdays at 3 and 8 PM
Sundays at 3 and 7:30 PM.

Opens Sunday Feb 29th at 3PM
Open Run
The Barrow Street Theatre

Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams

Tracy Lett's "Bug" is one bugged-out show.  Filled with varmints and crawling with vermin, it is one of the best shows I have seen off Broadway.

As you enter the theater there is a wonderful advertisement in the ticket office warning that the show contains nudity, violence and cigarette smoking. And the show certainly contains a lot of nudity and violence, but it is so fast paced the characters have little time to smoke until the very end - but I don't want to give away too much too soon.   

The eerie theme is launched in the beginning when we see the drugged-out Agnes (the wonderful Shannon Cochran) standing in the doorway of a seedy Oklahoma City motel, casually smoking a cigarette, listening to the trucks whizzing by as an ignored phone rings in the background. She then leaves the door wide open while she looks for something to drink in the bathroom.  This directorial choice is a great metaphor for the rest of the story, for Agnes is always forgetting to "shut the door."

Soon her lesbian friend RC (the talented Amy Landecker) arrives with Peter (the amazing Michael Shannon) in tow.  When RC leaves, she leaves Peter (as a present?), and once Peter is in the door, he never leaves. And with Peter come the bugs, with the bugs comes the paranoia and with the paranoia comes the apocalypse.

Tracy Letts has written a very provocative script that is both scary and darkly funny. And Dexter Ballard has done a great job directing; he really knows how to use the space between the lines.  The lighting (Tyler Micoleau) and set (Lauren Helpern) were right on the money; I have stayed in those motels and they nailed it.  The talented cast also features Reed Birney, who does a clever turn as the smiling Dr. Sweet (a clever choice of a name) and Michael Cullen who portrays Agnes's ex-husband Goss.  Mr. Cullen does a fabulous job playing the menacing and perplexed Goss.  So go see Bug, it's "buggin'."

"Bug" is running a the new Off-Broadway 199-seat Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street (at 7th Avenue), New York, NY 10014. (1/9 to Christopher St./Sheridan Square, or A/C/E/F/V to West 4th Street.) Tickets: tickets are $35-$60 at Telecharge  212-239-6200 or or Barrow Street Theatre box office two-hours prior to every performance.  Group sales and box office at 212-243-6262. Websites: visit:

The Barrow Street Theater | 27 Barrow Street | West Village


Tony & Tina's Wedding
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:00 pm
Saint Luke's Church

It's a party, and you're invited.

Tony Tina

"I'm holding out for Pigs in a Blanket"
- Valentina Vitale

Reviewed by Diedre Kilgore

A joining of a union between Tony Nunzio and Valentina Vitale
Every Thursday through Saturday night at 7:00. The ceremony begins at St. Luke's Church, 308 West 46th Street

The Cast of that night: Joli Tribuzio, Johnny Tammaro (swing), Laura Escalante (swing), Scott Voloshin, Danielle Monteznos (swing), Craig Thomas Rivela, Amy Broder (swing), Deno Vourderis, Cindy Kostello (swing), Rhett Kalman, Daniella Gernoble (swing), Mark Nassar, Janine Molinari (swing), Joe Leone (swing), Abraham Sparer (swing), Henry Caplan, Susanna Hairy (swing), Danny Bruckert, Ernie Curcio, Matthew Knowland, Miriam Daly, Mike Lavelle, James Kluz and Sam Solovey (who recently guest starred in the Apprentice)

I had a little time to kill before meeting up to see "Tony & Tina's Wedding" with my fabulous clothing designer friend Eric Landgren, so I ducked into Pomaire, my favorite Chilean restaurant in Manhattan. Knowing I would be fed during the show, I opted to just nibble on a marvelous ceviche appetizer while sampling various South American cocktails. What.

Hunger pains at bay accompanied by a nice little buzz, I felt rejuvenated. I met Eric outside of St. Lukes Church where we were literally ushered inside. Unsure whether we should sit on the Groom or Bride's side, we were fortunately rescued by the usher who realized that we were friends of the Bride, huh? We took our places and were immediately accosted by a nun with Touretes. Not the kind of Tourettes people constantly accuse ME of having, but the kind that makes one twitch uncontrollably. Eric and I loved this nun, but unfortunately, I didn't catch her name. Sorry about that, funniest nun in the world. You see, here's the thing. That night, there were about 10,000 understudies performing, and it was a little difficult for me to keep track of everyone, but I did my best. My apologies to anyone I may have left out. Understudy or not, they all did a fantastic job.

"But back up a minute", you might be saying to yourself, "I thought this show was cancelled?"

Well, it was, until Big Apple Entertainment got a hold of it and has brought it back to life. Back by popular demand, the longest running show Off-Broadway, "Tony & Tina's Wedding" is here again, and for those of you finding yourselves in Las Vegas, it's running there too. So get out there and relish in the outlandish drama of an Italian wedding gone nutso (I learned all of my Italian American sayings from The Fonz).

"Tony and Tina's Wedding" was just recently made into a movie, starring Joseph McIntyre and Mila Kunis (That 70's Show) which screened this year at the Tribeca Film Festival. From what I understand, the film falls short in its attempt to re-create a story that was originally intended as an audience-interaction piece. I can understand why. The whole charm (and point) of watching Tony & Tina's Wedding is that you, as an audience member, are included in the festivities. You get to know the characters and they get to know you, and you don't really feel like you're watching a play as much as finding yourself thrown into the middle of a twilight zone that features an extremely trashy, bizarre Italian wedding.

There are two locations, when you go to see this show. The first is at St. Luke's Church, where the wedding takes place, then everyone parades a block down restaurant row with the cast to the reception hall located under Sophia's Restaurant. The journey alone between the two venues is loads of fun, especially while watching the reactions from the people on the street, who often times, seem to truly believe that we are a giant group of trashy wedding people. It's hilarious to watch the actors scream inappropriate things to the people on the street and witness the looks of disdain on the passersby's faces. It certainly puts you in a dimension outside of reality.

At the reception, the fourth wall becomes completely non-existent, melding dimensions, making you feel eerily comfortable yet a bit out of your skin at the same time. But just when Eric and I started to get a little edgy and confused, alcohol was served. What a great show! The characters not only include you in their worlds but will even lean over at times and tell you secrets. The production is truly an ensemble piece with a circus of activity and is therefore difficult to get the full experience of the show from only one viewing. From where I was sitting however, I was really taken with the bridesmaids, played by Danielle Montezinos, Laura Escalante and Amy Broder; one was very pregnant, one was a complete slut, and the other had a major attitude problem. Other standout performances included the father of the groom, played by Mark Nassarand who would blurt out offensive things at the most inappropriate times, accompanied by his sleazy girlfriend fabulously played by Janine Molinari, who kind of reminded me of a bizarre cross between Pat Benatar and Joan Jett. After having said this, depending on where you are, you get a completely different experience than the people sitting across the room from you. Not to mention that the majority of what you're seeing is improvised, so the vibe definitely changes with each production. At this reception, you not only get liquored up, you get fed. The food even tastes like wedding reception food. Eric was all about the pasta smothered in white sauce, until he saw an attractive man sitting at another table that forced him to have creative visions of other things one could smother in a white sauce. The whole experience was like an acid trip where you find yourself inside of an eerie cartoon, but at the same time, everything feels so very real.

Running Time: 2 hours 45 min - Price: $85 - $125
$125 VIP seating -- you will be seated in the best seats, and treated like family! 212-352-3101

Saint Luke's Church| 308 West 46th Street


Toxic Audio

Toxic Audio in LOUDMOUTH
Featuring Jeremy James, Shalisa James,
Michelle Mailhot-Valines, Rene Ruiz & Paul Sperrazza

August 10th - September 5th
Visit for further details

Review By Liberation Iannillo

Having seen this show twice it’s still hard to definitively describe what the Toxic Audio experience is like. Of course being such an enigma works in their favor. Using only their voices, Toxic Audio delivers a show that is a unique combination of singing and comical performance art. The five talented vocalists that make up this group perform their music and sound effects using nothing but their voices. At first thought this may not sound all that impressive, but after hearing vocalist Paul Sperrazza flawlessly recreate a DJ booth, complete with a scratching records and various song samples, all created by his voice, all at the same time, you’re left thinking, “Did I just hear that?” That is Toxic Audio.

The group, comprised of Jeremy James, Shalisa James, René Ruiz, Paul Sperrazza and Michelle Mailhot Valines, perform a number of songs varying from The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ to Evanescence’s ‘Wake Me Up Inside’. The latter, which Shalisa James sang lead vocals, was so powerful that I had to remind myself constantly that her flawless voice was not accompanied by musical instruments, that it was her fellow vocalists bringing the house down. Toxic Audio opened with Til’ Tuesday’s ‘Voices Carry’ which was performed with such heartfelt emotion that you would think the song was their own. One of the standout pieces in the show by far is Paul Sperrazza’s performance of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. In fact, Sperrazza’s surreal, fluid body movements and near perfect comic timing unintentionally make him the star of the show.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a show that I raved about it to anyone who would listen to me. The one and only problem I had with the show was that at times it was so overly miked’ that you couldn’t capture the clarity of the voices.

Toxic Audio has performed throughout the United States and recently won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. This is definitely one of the best shows running and my only regret is that it’s not longer.

Houseman Theater | 450 West 42nd Street | BTW 9th Ave & 10th Ave

Miss Wendy Click here for Wendy's Archived Reviews from

© New York Cool 2004-2014