New York Cool

Theater
from the archives of: www.newyorkcool.com

 

Toxic Audio

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

Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri @ 8PM
Sat @ 3PM & 8PM
Sun @ 3 & 7 PM through June 27th, 2004
Wed mats @ 2PM begin June 2
Tues @ 8PM begin June 15

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 ‘Bring Me To Life’. 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.

www.toxicaudio.com

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


The York’s Theatre Company’s

The York's Theatre Company's
The Musical of Musicals - The Musical!
Monday - Saturdays @t 8:00PM
Sat @ 2:30pm
May 24th - July 31st
St. Peter's Theatre

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 Junita"); 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 the director and the 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 Weberesque 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 on-stage 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!

Tickets are $55. Students tickets are available on the day of the performance for $20, subject to availability.  Tickets are available by calling Smarttix at (212) 212-868-4444, at smarttix.com.

 Saint Peter's Theatre | 619 Lexington Avenue


Jollyship the Whiz-Bang: Sleepless Fishes
(An electro-accordion pyrate puppet sea odysse
Fridays at 10PM
May 14th - August 13th
&
Tudley's Reef: Whiz-Bang Variety Night
 First  Thursday of the month @ 10PM Starting June 3rd
Bowery Poetry Club

Reviewed by Jennifer Miranda Holmes

Jollyship the Whiz-Bang: Sleepless Fishes is a zany trip on a pirate ship with a rock opera soundtrack and some crazy crass little puppets. Sound like fun? You bet! The creators and collaborators are a team of adorable, fun-loving and witty guys that will win you over from the sound-check to the final song. This is a punk show mixed with a little Punch and Judy puppet on puppet action.

The story revolves around Tommy a young clown who is rescued from a carnival slave ship by pirates. He becomes the favorite of the ship's captain, a crazy pirate with a green face who educates little Tommy with a hilarious song entitled "Kill it if it don't got feet" where he suggests that creatures that are "different" ought to be destroyed. Tommy doesn't want a life of killing and cruelty so he befriends a mollusk called Glenn who also happens to be a movie producer for an "experimental romance". Glenn introduces Tommy to Dudley, the film's star, a drooling reef with wiggly eyes brought to life brilliantly by Raja Azar the show's co-creator. It turns out that the pirate is secretly in love with Tommy, but to find out what happens you will have to see the show. The dialogue is hysterical and this, combined with fabulous comic timing on the part of the performers, left the audience screaming with laughter .

The music is infectious with catchy and creative lyrics such as "Dirty dirty dirty, scurvy scurvy scurvy: Pirates love" and "You can't sleep with the fishes, because the fishes don't sleep". The songs had people literally dancing in their seats and were performed with incredible charismatic energy by the group, led by the show's co-creator Nick Jones.

The puppets are fantastic and full of personality and the set is casually effective and fun.

The show is so inventive and such a good time; it is the epitome of what good off-the-wall New York theater ought to be. Sail as fast as you can to the Bowery Poetry Club and bring lots of friends, this event is not to be missed!

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or at http://www.virtuous.com. There will be weekly drink specials sponsored by Michter's Straight Rye Whiskey.

Starting June 3rd, Whiz Bang will host a monthly variety show, Tudley's Reef: Whiz-Bang Variety Night  Every first Thursday of the month starting June 3rd at 10:00 PM also at the Bowery Poetry Club. Acts will range from acrobats, aerialists, puppets, out of town musical guests, and other boisterous performances. Events will also include record releases, video debuts and many special guest appearances.

Ticket to Tudley's Reef are $5.00 and can be purchased at the door or at http://www.virtuous.com. For more information on the above events, please call 212-614-1224 (no reservations), or visit  http://www.bowerypoetry.com and http://oojamadome.org/pirates.html
 

Bowery Poetry | Club 308 Bowery



 


 Tracy Lett's
"BUG"

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 www.telecharge.com or Barrow Street Theatre box office two-hours prior to every performance.  Group sales and box office at 212-243-6262. Websites: visit:  www.Bugtheplay.com
 

The Barrow Street Theater | 27 Barrow Street | West Village

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