Here's to The Third
"A state of the art, one-act musical"
Run is Over
Michael Ashford, Daniella Galli, Elissa
Goldstein, Jamal Green, Ryan Greer &
funk music performed by: Stephanie Wells,
Christopher Heinz and Nathan You
by Diedre Kilgore
Tada! Theatre's opening weekend of Here's
to The Third New York with my friend Hana.
Tada! Theatre provides a fantastic venue
for an Off-Broadway show. When we entered
the lobby, we were welcomed by a bohemian
world of candlelight, and then were ushered
into a spacious yet cozy warehouse-type
space, with a large, well-constructed
program had an introductory quote taken
from E.B. White, which seemed to aptly
explain the title of the show we were
about to see. "There are roughly
three New Yorks. There is, first, the
New York of the man or woman who was born
there, who takes the city for granted
there is the New York of the commuter
there is the New York of the person who
was born somewhere else and came to New
York in quest of something. Of these three
trembling cities the greatest is the last-the
city of final destination, the city that
is a goal." Well now. That certainly
got our attention. This show celebrates
a dying breed of New York artists, which
simply do not have the outlets they used
to. Be it lack of funding, complacency,
bureaucracy, you can pretty much name
your culprit. However you slice it, its
tough being a New York City artist.
to The Third New York realistically illustrates
this lifestyle quite well, and brings
up and pushes out what it's truly like
to be a part of the third New York. The
opening scene shows a poet on a soap box,
with an accompanying tap number screaming
of an impending revolution as a necessary
action needed for artists to combat the
growing commercialism of the city. I would
have loved to see a revolution unfold,
but it seems the solution was less the
point of the show than to simply portray
an ever-dying subculture of New York.
Having said that, the show does a fantastic
job at entertaining and the cast has explosive
moments of well-honed talent. Standout
performances come from Elissa Goldstein,
her acting and signing were both soulful
and heart wrenching. Michael Ashford and
James Robinson were both excellent dancers
that just seemed to glide across the stage.
The music was fun and upbeat, and the
tap numbers, which were utilized as a
kinetic backdrop to anarchistic poetry,
were well composed both at the opening
and closing of the show. The audience
is taken through an entertaining and realistic
ride through a day in the life of struggling
artists trying to get by in New York City.
show was over, Hana and I left the theatre
and went down the street to the Blue Smoke,
and with two double shots of Jack Daniels
in hand, we made a toast.
to an inspirational story of survival,
in the struggle to keep alive the creative
Here's to the Third
and Hana Kapp
|15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor
Beyond The Horizon
Run is over
Reviewed by Dinika
destiny? Is it that what happens to us
or is it what we create for ourselves?
"Beyond The Horizon" is about
humankind's struggle with destiny. This
play was written by one of Americas' most
renowned playwrights, Eugene O'Neill.
Mr. O'Neill won a well deserved Pulitzer
Prize for "Beyond" in 1920.
by Cailin Hefferman, "Beyond the
Horizon" is about two brothers on
a farm, Rob Mayo (Peter O'Connor) and
Andy Mayo (Justin Krauss). Rob has always
been a sickly child. During his sick spells
his mother, Kate Mayo (Margaret Flanagan)
would instruct him to sit by the window
and be quiet. He would stare beyond the
horizon and wonder what adventures awaited
him yonder. The play commences with Rob
on the brink of a voyage around the world
aboard his uncle Captain Dick Scott's
(Peter Morr) ship. Rob and Andy both have
romantic feelings for their neighbor's
daughter, Ruth Atkins Mayo (Jennifer Larkin).
While saying goodbye to her, Rob confesses
his love for her. Much to his surprise,
she returns his affection and begs him
to stay and marry her. Her mother Mrs.
Atkins (Dolores McDougal) is an invalid
and Ruth cannot leave her alone. Rob agrees
to stay and marry Ruth.
by Ruth's choice, Andy decides to leave
in his brother's place. James Mayo (Ron
Sanborn) has trouble believing his son
wishes to leave the beloved farm. "You
lie when you say you want to go 'way -
and see thin's!" James becomes very
angry, and despite his wife's efforts
to stop him, he disowns Andy and tells
him to never to come back to the farm.
three years and James has passed away.
Rob and Ruth are not happy. The marriage
was a mistake. Rob is a failure as a farmer
and Ruth now loathes him. Stuck in a loveless
marriage, Rob dotes on his daughter Mary
Mayo (Emma Warman). In a heated argument,
Ruth tells Rob that she still has feelings
for Andy. She tries to get the visiting
Andy, to stay on the farm. He tells Ruth
that his former passion for her was never
more than a "kid's idea that he was
letting rule him." Ruth is humiliated
and Rob feels sorry for her. Andy leaves
for Buenos Aires.
next five years Rob and Ruth do not live
as man and wife. Kate and Mary pass away
and Rob becomes ill. Andy returns with
a specialist Dr. Fawcett (John Fitzmaurice).
Alas, it is too late. The final scene
brings Rob, Andy and Ruth back to the
same place the play commenced. Everything
has come full circle. In a very touching
death scene, Rob admits that he made the
wrong decision when he decided not to
follow his dreams beyond the horizon.
And Andy admits to being a failure for
having left the thing that was most dear
to him - the farm.
of Ruth is the most interesting of the
lot. She starts-off as this bonny farm
girl, dedicated to her disabled mother,
becomes a nagging wife and ends up an
apathetic shell of a woman. By her own
admission she is incapable of feeling,
having felt too much suffering over time.
However, the biggest evil she committed
was to deliberately leave her husband
under the impression that she loved his
brother, when in truth she felt nada.
The beauty of O'Neill's play lies in her
resignation and in our incapability to
hate her. All she compels is our sorrow.
There were many times during this play
when the melodrama manifested itself in
yelling making it impossible to understand
the dialogue. For instance, in act one
scene two when the fight breaks between
John and Andy Mayo, emotion and anger
run high, too high. It was not believable
and many of the words are incoherent.
Ron Sanborn and Margaret Flanagan have
the best accents in the play. Flanagan
does an excellent portrayal of a doting
mother who mollycoddles her son and cannot
hold her husband in check. Justin Krauss
beautifully portrays his character's love
for his brother. This bond is shown throughout
the play, even when Rob steals his love
was an excellent Rob Mayo. His monologues
were delivered with passion and in correct
measure. When he interacted with Ruth,
he managed to convey both his poetic hope
and his devotion to her, even after he
learned that she was "mean and small."
In one particularly touching moment, when
he still hoped he could fight death, he
makes plans for their future. O'Connor
is a fine father figure to Emma Warman.
His love and affection for her brightens
the play, showing us that she is the only
good thing that ever happened to him.
O'Conner's beautifully capped off a great
performance in the end, when he gave his
last speech, before moving on into the
for the first half of the scene was good,
but dwindles away as the play moves on.
O'Neill provided very explicit guidelines
for the set in his playscript. The tablecloth
in the second scene was not hemmed. While
this might be a small factor, it demonstrates
some lack of attention to detail in the
set design. People with limited means
and few things take very good care of
their belongings. The appearance indoors
failed to convey this from the onset.
Therefore, as things progressed, the squalor
that time had wrought was only apparent
in the dulled lighting, not in the set.
During insightful monologues, we heard
poignant music that helped with the mood
of the production, hats off to composer
of this play lies in the writing. Despite
the limitations of the production, for
those interested in seeing amazingly written
plays take life, this show is a must.
We are left with a sense of foreboding.
God forbid we make the mistake of loving
the wrong things. Life is best lived by
those that learn not just to love, but
to love the right things most. Eugene
O'Neill won a Nobel Prize for Literature
in 1936. No mean achievement, "Beyond
the Horizon" gives testimony to a
great writer because despite everything,
the power of the main trio holds you spellbound.
I could not help being moved.
Tues - Fri @t 8:15 PM
Sat @ 2:15PM & 8:15 PM
Sundays @ 3:15PM & 7:15 PM.
Opening Sept 17th
Closing Oct 10th
59E59 St Theatre
by Dinika Amaral
Specialist is produced by the Riot Group,
which is known for its appetite for original
plays. The play won many awards in Britain
and in my opinion, is on a par with my
favorite American army movie," Stripes."
Released in the 80s, "Stripes"
is the comic story of John Winger (Bill
Murray), who joins the army to meet girls
and then blunders his way to glory. While
"Pugilist Specialist" is funny,
the humor is ridden with sharp jabs of
melancholy and frustration at the confusion
in the United States Marine Corps. Specialist
is a true political satire. Like the situation
in "Stripes," pandemonium breaks
lose when dimwitted officers unwittingly
sabotage their own best laid plans, resulting
in brouhaha. In a democracy, we have the
right to hope that any decisions made
affecting the lives of others will not
be taken lightly. In "Specialist,"
the reality is shown to be far from this
are reputed to be one of the most hierarchal
divisions in the American defense machine.
And as in any other hierarchy where obeying
orders is key, bad decisions from superiors
go unquestioned. That absolute power corrupts
is a well known fact. The Marines are
certainly no exception to this rule.
has four main characters: Lieutenant Emma
Stein (Stephanie Viola), Colonel Johns
(Paul Schnabel), Lieutenant Travis Freud
(Adriano Shaplin) and Lieutenant Studdard
(Drew Friedman). Lieutenant Stein is the
"hooker with a heart of gold"
and she functions as the conscience of
the group. Through the play, we learn
that sometime in the past, when Stein
felt the public good was not being served,
she talked to the New York Times. This
was a sacrilegious act, which cost her
her career in the Marines. For all her
earlier conscientious efforts, toward
the latter half of the play, Stein is
shown to be the most unrealistic about
how to best serve the public. She reports
to Colonel Johns (Paul Schnabel), a commanding
officer who subscribes to a philosophy
of empathy during combat. "Bring
your heart, that's the muscle that pulls
you would expect, the character of Lieutenant
Travis Freud (Adriano Shaplin) was written
with the goal of balancing-out the Colonel's
so-called empathy. Freud exhibits unbridled
joy when called to combat. He is also
the quintessential video game junkie,
but now his remote control has been replaced
with an Uzi. Like some of the imbeciles
in Xbox's popular videogame Halo, we learn
that Freud has acquired a reputation within
the marines as a bit of a loose canon.
He does not adhere to the make-sure-mind-is-in-gear-principle
before pressing the trigger. Freud is
bent on human extermination and sees the
world only in black and white. When the
Johns asks him to agree with him he, responds,
"Is it an order sir? Then it doesn't
have to make sense."
and squabbles between Stein and Freud
provide a hilarious, sarcastic backdrop
for the mind-numbing Lieutenant Studdard
(Drew Friedman), who serves as the recorder
for the unit. To Studdard, talk is cheap.
He likes to focus on the facts and abstains
from idle banter. While he could have
represented the prudence we crave, he
actually comes off devoid of conscience.
He portrays the robot soldier that we
are drawn together in a secret mission
to assassinate the "Bearded Lady"
at his palace in the desert. From a political
standpoint the mission makes no sense,
as Stein quickly points out. She states
that it is most unwise to assassinate
the leader of a country under attack,
as it will make him a martyr. She is,
of course, unaware of the true nature
of the mission, as are we.
has a surprise ending that explains very
little. The motivation that leads the
characters to this ending was obscure,
at best. Ideally the surprise twist ending
the play would leave us guessing. Alas,
in this case we are merely bewildered.
is bare with three wooden benches forming
the props. The music is minimalist with
instrumental beats kicking in now and
then, but disappearing during important
conversations or moments of high conflict.
With little else to add to the flavor,
the dialogue has to be stellar to capture
the attention of the audience. Stellar
it is; writer Adriano Shaplin delivers.
The words jump and grab you by the throat.
very interesting and unusual feature is
that the characters always face the audience
when speaking, never each other. This
contributes significantly to the dramatic
effect of the play, while drawing attention
to facial expressions. The lion of the
show is Stephanie Viola as Stein; she
gives a very passionate performance. Shaplin
and Friedman are stunning and draw many
laughs from the audience. Schnabel is
a steady act.
Specialist" focuses on the current
Iraq War, it raises timeless political
questions regarding the actions of all
superpowers. It is not often that we get
to see good theater about the present
in the present. Reminiscent of work by
Harold Pinter, writer of "Betrayal"
and also known for his unexpected twists,
playwright Adriano Shaplin bitingly asks,
"What is the truth and what the hell
are we doing?"
St Theatre |59 East 59th Street
I Love Paris
Tuesdays @ 8PM Sept 7th - 28th
Mondays @ 8PM beginning October 4th.
Blue Heron Arts Center
by Armistead Johnson
Love Paris takes place backstage at
the daytime talk show, The View,
where Paris is waiting to audition for
a slot as one of the show's co-hosts.
The play is a stream of consciousness
monologue of musings from America's favorite
hotel heiress and B porn star, Paris Hilton.
on Paris's mind," you ask? Everything
from her hair to terrorism and thankfully,
Doug Field's (Down South, An Enola Gay
Christmas) script provides no segue from
topic to topic, giving I Love Paris
an authenticity that fans of Paris's The
Simple Life have come to appreciate
from Ms. Hilton.
are critics out there who claim that Paris
Hilton is nothing more than a pretty face
and hot body with millions of dollars.
"How has I Love Paris dealt
with such harsh remarks," you ask?
By taking her hot body and pretty face
out of the equation and having the reality
TV star and Guess? model played by someone
who no more resembles her than he does
her dog Tinkerbell; veteran Broadway actor
Kevin Shinick. The bold direction, by
Timothy Haskell (one of the most talented
directors in New York right now), has
Kevin playing Paris as a man, so there
is no pretty face or hot body (or horrid
drag performance) to get in the way of
Paris's intriguingly empty words.
should I be doing this weekend,"
you ask? Well, if you are interested in
an intelligent take on one of the most
seemingly unintelligent stars of this
day and age, going to see I Love Paris
would be a great option.
are $20.00 and can be purchased by calling
(212) 868-4444 or by going to www.smarttix.com.
Blue Heron Arts
Center | 123 E. 24th St. at Park Avenue
a Better Idea
A Series of Solo Performances by Women
Safety in Numbers & Peasant
Reviewed by Stephanie Alberico
I only saw a small segment of these women's
solo performances, Jan Rudd's "Safety
in Numbers," was delightful and funny.
I laughed so hard, I cried. Kef Productions
presents the first show in this series
with a minimal set and a woman who made
typical standup comedians look boring.
The simplistic setup allowed for the audience
to focus in on the talent of the actress
and her bizarre jokes.
performs an amazing show of six women
in group therapy. She
creates six different characters and makes
it amazingly believable. For a
moment, I even thought she might really
be bipolar and have six different
personalities. That's how good she was.
Doris, Urla, Cindy and the overly enthusiastic
group leader makeup the six diverse
women in the show.
CT is a lesbian convict with a potty
mouth. Doris is an uptight mother figure
who is sexually frustrated. Cindy is
the dimwitted, no brain cheerleader
type. Urla is the twitching, Gilligan-Island
obsessed woman. Nada represents the
most normal woman of the group, but still
brokenhearted and complex.
in Numbers," was like "One
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," except
it portrayed the experience from a woman's
point of view, instead of Jack Nicholson's.
Kef Productions aims to showcase some
of New York's strongest and most talented
women, and they're definitely
on the right track.
I didn't get a chance to check out Peasant
or the other shows, but you should.
If they are anywhere as funny
as this show, they are a guaranteed good
time. Laughter is contagious, good for
the soul, and makes you feel good. So,
what are you waiting for? Life is funny,
especially when it involves six crazy
women in group therapy.
Tickets are $15 for all shows and $25
for any two separate performances
purchased at the same time.
212.239.6200 or visit www.telecharge.com
Theatre Row Box office
at 410 West 42nd Street
www.kefproductions.com or www.thetrerow.org
September 21-26: (**Note - Show Tuesday,
No Show Thursday)
not a nice girl - written and performed
by Cheryl King
The Accidental Activist - written and
performed by Kathryn Blume
Wreckage - written and performed by Lauren
Unaccustomed to My Name - written and
performed by Marta Rainer
Wednesdays @ 8PM
Under St. Marks
Reviewed by Tara
forget their first love? And do we ever
completely get over them? These first
loves are the guests who randomly invite
themselves (unannounced) into our Memory
Scrapbook. Sometimes the melody of a song
or the scent of soap allows us to briefly
stumble upon their page. Other times,
however, that page seems to be a permanent
fixture in our thoughts and we find ourselves
writing and starring in a one woman play
about them, so is the case of Ophira Eisenberg,
who will be featured on Comedy Central's
Premium Blend this season.
into the small downtown playhouse, Under
St. Marks, excited about being an addition
to the New York Cool Cool crew, and being
here, in the heart of undomesticated New
York City. Yes, I confess
I am a
newyorkcool.com virgin. And when we're
through, please feel free to
light a cigarette.
Marks is a cozy, intimate theater, resembling
an underground basement. It seemed hidden,
like a secret that I'm letting you all
in on. It feels as though you're about
to watch a show in the comfort of your
own home, but where the performers are
much more talented than your brothers
and sisters. They offered the audience
wine. Have you ever heard of anyone passing
up free alcohol? Me neither. And who am
I to break tradition
the play began
and I took a sip.
to sagas of love is like a roller coaster;
then I should have come prepared with
a full case of Dramamine. In this hilarious
and all too realistic performance of "Hindsight,"
Ophira invites us into the highs and lows
of her first relationship: the fighting,
the making up, the intense love, the pissing
off, the hating, the crying, the incredible
sex, the needing, and finally, the knowing
when it's time to let go. Sound freakishly
familiar? If this is foreign to you, that's
o.k. Surveys suggest that one out of every
twenty psychos never have a first love.
So don't sweat it! You're in good company.
Instantaneously, Ophira accomplishes what
many performers have difficulty doing,
capturing her audience and taking us along
for the ride. The show did not include
what we as an audience have come accustomed
to: special effects; murders; or people
dramatically dying. The only actress in
this play is a single woman; extending
me an invite to her intriguing story,
and I RSVP'd, ASAP!
Ophira's "Hindsight" details
how a person falls "hard" and
"messy" into love. To paraphrase
her, the first time you fall in love you
wear a set of window blinds over your
eyes. Every now and then they lift up
and you notice questionable behavior,
so you lower the blinds again right before
intuition and reality sets in. For a moment
I thought that the entire performance
was a hoax. Was Ophira a private investigator
that had been following me for years?
How else could she understand my past
so well? Thank God for the lessons of
"hindsight," right? (I am now
proud to say that my eyes are clear of
all window treatments.)
Our Memory Scrapbook, similar to a bank
account, ages and matures, even if our
relationships always do not. This guides
us into what is commonly known as "The
Gray Area," the second comedy of
the night, written by and starring Neil
Potter and Bethel Caram. This real life
couple have been "committed to non-commitment,"
existing in the gray area, the locale
where a relationship is ambiguously defined.
Receiving bad directions reminds me of
this gray area that Neil and Bethel speak
of. You're lost: possibly in the vicinity,
but still don't exactly know where you
are. In a relationship, the gray area
means that you are a couple, although
not completely established, nor do you
always want to be. The only problem lies
in that the rules are flexible and often
unclear, you don't know what direction
the relationship is headed, and you can't
turn to an atlas for guidance.
Neil and Bethel have been in this noncommittal
relationship for eight years. (No, that
is not a typo; I did in fact say eight.)
They admit that being in the gray area
is a possible outcome from being "afraid
to grow up." They can't figure out
their relationship because they haven't
figured out themselves yet. This probably
accounts for the hours of soul searching
they invest their time in. Neil is a groupie
to motivational speaker guru, Tony Robins,
while Bethel reads self-help books like
The Power of Now, which made most
of the audience laugh at the pitiful ness
of it all. (I didn't feel pathetic when
I read that book
two copies; one for reading and for decoration.)
Within its dialect, "The Gray Area"
comedic ally captures the essence and
confusion of the differences between men
and women. For example, Bethel suggests
that they each say something nice about
one another. She begins this exercise
by saying she enjoys his wonderful "zesty"
personality. Neil replies by telling her
he likes her apartment
The "Gray Area" provokes my
curiosity about men and women and if we're
truly bred from separate species: belonging
to two different animal kingdoms. If so,
this certainly explains a great deal.
(Now it makes sense why when I communicate
with men, they respond by swinging from
tree branches while scratching their arm
pits and pulling gnats out of their hair.)
There is no gray area about it: both plays
were creatively written and had impeccable
comedic timing. And in hindsight, I have
learned two things about love: the first
is that, although love can seem torturous
at times, it is vital to us like water,
air, food, and porn. Actually, that's
we can survive a while
without food. And the second is that,
although our Memory Scrapbook may look
messy and unorganized, time and growth
will eventually make our future scrapbook
into a fine piece of artwork, as are these
St. Marks |94
St. Marks (8th Street)
(between Ave A and 1st Ave)
An (un)Jaded History
of Lesbian and Gay Icons, Volume 1
Jade Esteban Estrada
The Lesbian and Gay History of the world,
Performed @ Manhattan Theater Source
(Run is over)
by Troy Tolley
boy in a billowy, flowing, white gown
informally steps onto stage, casually
saying hello, and quickly becomes engaged
with the audience. Jade (half in costume)
offers us sweet greetings and warm welcomes
before he asks us to state who is an icon
to us, living or dead, famous or unknown,
and to explain why. As each person answered,
I was racing through my heart and mind,
running through the few icons I feel were
powerful enough for me to call an "icon".
I dreaded giving my response, because
I know of no "icons" who are
as obvious as what other people were saying.
While others find Oprah Winfrey, Mother
Teresa, Princess Diana, and Miles Davis
to be their icons, I find Jane Roberts
and Elizabeth Fraser to be mine. See what
stated who my icon was (I had chosen Elizabeth),
there was so much confusion and "what?"
and "who?" and gawking that
I quickly changed to the most recognizable
name of inspiration to me: Björk!
they all nodded as if that explained everything.
we segue into the performance as Jade
begins to transform, to complete his costume,
by throwing on a large, mass of golden,
curly hair, and altering his voice. His
first icon is emerging and the play has
us through 6 major icons across time,
seeming to focus on their pivotal part
in history, using monologue, singing,
and dancing. He begins with Sappho, the
famous lyrist from Lesbos, whose wealth
and aristocracy allowed her to explore
her sexuality, making her the first "lesbian"
in recorded history (the word "Lesbian"
is derived from "Lesbos", the
island). Though her freedoms were attributed
to her status, there is also strong evidence
to support that sexual exploration was
not an issue in her time. Nonetheless,
Sappho created a world of poetry and inspiration
(Plato called her the 10th Muse!), but
time, culture, and ignorance have reduced
her to mere slang.
next hour or so, Jade flips through the
pages of history, moving from one icon
to the next, leaving you more and more
engrossed, inspired, and even emotional.
As he channels Michelangelo (sculptor,
painter, architect, and poet), Oscar Wilde
(poet/playwright), Gertrude Stein (poet,
playwright, feminist), Sylvia Rivera (transgender
veteran of Stonewall), and Ellen DeGeneres
(modern day comedienne), he does not mock
them or make them into caricatures. Although
entertaining, Jade's icons are wrought
with insight and each one offers a profound
contribution to the overall message of
the performance: We've come a long way
in learning to accept each other, and
we have a long way to go.
overshadow his characters with a perfected
portrayal of them, nor does he distract
you with strained efforts to actually
perform impressively, instead he seems
to honor each icon with his casual and
playful approach. Bad wigs, adorable,
fumbling costume changes, random interactions
with the audience, big Broadway singing
voices; these make the play more like
watching a magical child playing dress-up,
except with a complexity and wisdom that
is not lost in the fun. There are moments
you may be thoroughly surprised by your
lack of knowledge, (one woman stated that
she had never heard Oscar Wilde was gay!),
other times you may be moved to tears
by the realization of what has been contributed
to the freedoms we take for granted as
a people. Gay, Straight or in-between,
adult, teen, parent or grandparent, this
performance is about PEOPLE, about our
freedom, and about accepting one another.
may be called "The Lesbian and Gay
History of the World", but it is
not about gay pride, politics, or power;
it is about Humanity and the overlooked
contributors to the on-going struggles
for absolute freedom for all of us to
be who we are, no matter what we are.
been featured on Graham Norton, and has
an extensive and notorious history of
writing, acting, and singing, boasting
a powerful resume dotted with several
awards and praises. He is one of the most
famous people you may have never heard
but you will!
is currently beginning his tour to promote
the sequel, Icons Volume 2, wherein he
will invite us to explore Alexander the
Great, Queen Christina of Sweden, Susan
B. Anthony, Billie Jean King, Harvey Milk
and 9/11 hero Mark Bingham.
more information on Jade: http://iconsvolume1.com
the Old Man
A Boomerang Theatre Company Production
Wednesday, September 22nd at 8pm
Saturday, September 25th at 2pm
Friday, October 1st at 8pm
Saturday, October 2nd at 8pm
Sunday, October 3rd at 3pm
By Jeff Gangemi
by asking an age-old question: Is the
glass half empty or half full? And further,
is that a big hole in the wall or just
a convenient bit of extra ventilation?
Is an inconsistent and not altogether
believable character really just struggling
to tell us something about ourselves?
questions of life - the same questions
I ask myself after a production of Boomerang
Theatre Company's "Burning the Old
Man." It's a story of sibling rivalry,
adultery, intrigue, and travel. Or, if
you prefer, it's the story of two bickering
brothers stranded in the middle of the
desert who meet two hopeless hippies and
demean the hotel owner's wife.
a synopsis: Two brothers, Marty and Bobby,
are carrying their recently-deceased father's
ashes through the desert to put him to
rest at the Burning Man Festival in fulfillment
of his dying wish. On the way, their car
blows up and they meet Josephine, a hotel
desk clerk with a penchant for Thai food.
Two hippies, Candy and Earth, join the
party and provide some comic relief from
the endless slinging of obscenity between
Marty and Bobby. Later, Jo's husband,
Eddie, gets home after being fired from
"his sixth Reno casino in as many
months," at which point all hell
must concede that the production of this
play was near flawless - one single, unchanging
set, a few props, and really solid acting
on all parts. I especially liked the younger
brother, Bobby, played by Brett Christiansen,
a reverently irreverent young man who
holds the distinction of being the only
character in the play who undergoes any
positive transformation. Jo and Eddie
are walking stereotypes of a bad marriage
and why people stay (but we could've tuned
into Lifetime for that), while Candy and
Earth flit out as they flit into the action.
another story altogether, with a sordid
past and a hopeless future. He goes from
"Mr. Responsibility" to "I
hate my life, I want to die" about
six times in the course of the action.
Furthermore, his immoral sexual escapades
leave me questioning the realism of the
script. Where has he been for the past
three years, under house arrest? Somehow,
Timothy McCracken's acting trumps the
playwright's inadequate character development
to keep the glass half full.
Candy and Earth because they simultaneously
add humor and levity to the situation.
Candy's clairvoyance is performed through
her prodigal olfactory capabilities, while
Earth is at once a humorous hippie stereotype
and a realistic, contemplative young loser.
Two of Earth's lines really sum up this
play for me: "Love is just evil spelled
backwards and wrong," and "Just
when life gets to be worth living, it
becomes this long, sad road to certain
yourself the tone of this play and the
state of mind of the playwright. On my
glass half full side, I laughed at the
funny parts of this play as if my glass
contained brackish water spiked with tequila,
while my glass half empty side cried its
eyes out, lamenting all the pathetic souls
out there roaming the desert in search
of a way to get a fresh start at their
worn out lives. All things being unequal,
I recommend it.
go to www.boomerangtheatre.org.
Center Stage | 48 West
21st Street 4th Floor
(between 5th & 6th Avenues)
Huacuja Del Toro's
Celebrities Shouldn't Have Children
(Run is over)
Madera: The God of Celebrities Shouldn't
by : Leonard Zelig
Starring: Brad Thomason, Jason Madera,
Tania Robles, Belen Cortizo and Buster
by Dinika Amaral
"Paradise Lost," writer Malu
Huacuja del Toro uses "Celebrities
Shouldn't Have Children" to showcase
the idea of a fallible God. Brad Thomason,
the comic hit of "Just Us Boys,"
stars as Caesar. The energy and enthusiasm
Thomason fans have come to expect are
evident in his performance. Caesar is
the son of a celebrity who has been chosen
by God (Jason Madera) to give a message
to the world. Having been born on a heap
of silver spoons has guilt-tripped Caesar
into spending his adult life apologizing
for his wealth. Of course in true superficial
Hollywood style the remorse evaporates
where lifestyle begins and he has no qualms
about living it up.
of insecurity and unworthiness have shaped
an indecisive Caesar that tries his level
best to take no stand, like most gentlemen
of leisure. Unfortunately for him, God
is unwilling to let him off that easy.
He dismisses freewill like a pesky footnote
and then threatens him with being labeled
as insane and thereby losing his wealth.
God even uses the girlfriend Diane (Belen
Cortizo) to manipulate him. Faced with
the possibility of losing Diane, his wealth
and having no alternatives, Caesar is
on the brink of capitulating, when God
is momentarily overpowered. Enter the
is the sly, conniving Devil in this play.
She works very hard to dissuade Caesar
from the task of starting a religion and
using his inherited celebrity to gain
a following. Her motivations are not revealed
and the only rationale behind her behavior
is that she is against God's will. Diane
does most of the work of making Caesar
famous for his witnessing God and she
arranges for him to be on television.
However, breaking away from Donald Trump's
example, God wants Caesar to give up his
fame and disgrace himself by professing
to viewers that "no religion"
is the true message. Diane and the devil
plead, cajole and advice against this.
But Caesar obeys God and gives the anti-message.
the play is set in Caesar's closet, which
typically is big enough for God, the devil,
Diane and probably half the audience to
fit in (maybe all the audience, once we
get rid of the clothes). While, simplistic,
the set is inventive and creative and
allows for the actors to take control
of the stage. The smaller size of the
hosting Gene Frankel Theatre, further
contributes to the vividness of off-beat
productions it usually showcases. Workshops
conducted here make it the perfect diving
board for beginners.
close of the play one learns that god
was using the devil all along to test
Caesar, but the nature of the test is
unclear. While "Celebrities Shouldn't
Have Children" touches on many interesting
themes it falls short of the focus and
cohesiveness necessary for clarity and
great performances. Probably one of the
most touching insights is when Caesar
observes that it was the devil that did
most of the talking and explaining to
him, while Gods used a completely hands-off
approach. If it wasn't for the efforts
of the devil, Caesar would have been lost.
In a very Miltonian fashion one is forced
to ask where is God when Caesar needed
devil is a woman and God a man would lead
feminists to cringe. However, the devil
and Diane do all the work and are still
defeated by God in gaining control of
Caesar, which is a subversive critique
of the patriarchal world order.
gives a compelling performance as a twisted
God who uses mortals and the devil for
his amusement. His presence is similar
to the legendary presence of Paul Robeson
in Othello. From the onset he commands
attention with a bold entrance and continues
to hold his own throughout. Madera's previous
exploits include "The Cook,"
which according to critics lays testimony
to his skill and versatility. Celebrities
Shouldn't Have Children serves as another
feather in his cap, fortifying his acclaimed
Toxic Audio in LOUDMOUTH
Featuring Jeremy James, Shalisa James,
Michelle Mailhot-Valines, Rene Ruiz &
September 2nd - 30th
for further details
By Liberation Iannillo
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.
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.
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.
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
| 450 West 42nd Street | BTW 9th Ave &
The Dead Sea
Written By Mark A. Robertson
The New York International Fringe Festival
(Run is over)
By Mikal Saint George
It is always
refreshing to find a drama that deals
with men and their relationships with
one another that is not the usual trivialized
stereotype that so much theatre –and
mass media in general - has become. Too
often men are reduced to nothing more
than primitive lunk heads ruled entirely
by their genitals and job titles. Not
that the stereotype does not exist –
that’s why it is there. But anytime
a playwright takes more than a nanosecond
to explore some of the fundamentals of
what makes men tick as well as the bonds
that can tie them together, I am willing
to buy a ticket. Mark A. Robertson’s
THE DEAD SEA, which premiered at the New
York Fringe Festival, does not merely
delve but instead goes bravely spelunking
into just such relationships.
introduced to the characters on the eve
of Christmas Eve when a sleeping Jake
(Hayden Roush) is abruptly awakened by
a would-be intruder pilfering random gifts
and household items. After easily overpowering
the burglar, Jake is stunned to realize
that he has confronted his own brother
Caleb (Mark A. Robertson – a triple
threat as writer/actor/producer) who ran
away 4 years earlier at age 16 and has
been M.I.A. ever since. The young men
are quickly joined by third sibling Corey
(Nick Amick) and their father Paul (Elias
family gets over the initial shock of
this impromptu reunion they are then startled
by the fact that Caleb has apparently
not showered nor changed his clothes since
leaving home in sophomore high school.
His tweaky state of inebriation speaks
for itself. This is family however, and
they seem relieved, if not particularly
over-joyed, to have him home. After all,
much has changed since Caleb’s less-than-grand
exit. Jake is single again as is brother
Corey, who also has the pleasure of a
bitter custody battle. Dad has seemingly
come to (shakey) terms with his alcoholism
and, oh yeah, Mom died about a year ago.
You can practically smell the middle class
a couple more intriguing details regarding
Caleb’s absence, I won’t give
them away but they will definitely raise
eyebrows. More importantly, we are able
to see the family dynamics that hold this
family together through estrangement,
addiction and death. While true “families”
very often don’t grow up under the
same roof, the ones that do – and
live to tell about it - often have the
kind of bond that simply can’t be
broken. From the shared childhood rituals
that have spilled over into adulthood
to a simple afternoon of holiday shopping,
these guys really love each other and
somehow, astonishingly manage to find
a way to like each other.
Robertson indicates promise as a playwright
but clearly displays himself as a gifted
actor. There are many good actors out
there that could easily take on this role
and give a truly heart felt, profound
performance. Few – very few –
could display the kaleidoscope of emotion
constantly swirling just beneath the surface
of Robertson’s Caleb. He manages
to portray the next to impossible balance
of wounded spirit, dark depression and
smothering narcissism that make this character
complex and compelling. Yes, he is repulsive
in the way that only homeless, compulsive
drinking speed freaks can be but there
is something genuinely endearing about
him. East village bars are full of these
guys, there is a cult of the women (and
men) who love them, Oprah built her early
career talking to flotsam and jetsam they
inevitably leave in their wake.
as patriarch Paul is a man still dealing
with his own demons but willing to do
anything (including turning a conveniently
blind eye) in order to exorcise those
of his offspring. Even in his more joyous
moments there is a sadness that permeates
his presence as only the pain of watching
a child self destruct can. Stimac brings
a certain elegance to this sadness that
adds a subtle poignance to the story unfolding.
Hayden Roush’s Jake maintains a
boyish quality that belies an explosive
temper. Nick Amick as Corey brings a stalwart
reliability that is counter-balanced by
the tumultuous emotions surrounding his
failed marriage and estranged daughter.
Leah Vesonder displays an acute sense
of the sublime. She is able to somehow
see beauty in the decidedly dowdy world
of these four men and even at Caleb’s
most pathetic find a sort of dignity that
could easily be overlooked by a less astute