Fade ***

By: Isa Goldberg

Set in “Trump’s America”, Tanya Saracho’s new play, FADE, produced by Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is a soulful, engrossing two-person drama. Portraying the newcomer on a staff of television writers in LA, Lucia (Annie Dow) befriends the only person who will give her the time of day.  That’s Abel (Edie Martinez), a janitor who wears his tough edge with noticeable tattoos. A Mexican American worker, Abel sticks to himself, until he gets swept up in Lucia’s overtures of friendship.

By: Isa Goldberg

Set in “Trump’s America”, Tanya Saracho’s new play, FADE, produced by Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is a soulful, engrossing two-person drama. Portraying the newcomer on a staff of television writers in LA, Lucia (Annie Dow) befriends the only person who will give her the time of day.  That’s Abel (Edie Martinez), a janitor who wears his tough edge with noticeable tattoos. A Mexican American worker, Abel sticks to himself, until he gets swept up in Lucia’s overtures of friendship.

Insisting that as Latinos they share a commonality, Lucia lures Abel with stories of the racism and sexism that dominate in the room of white male television writers. It seems odd, somehow, that Lucia, who was born and raised in Mexico, looks and talks more like a Gringo than the LA born Abel.  In spite of her complaints, she is the mirror image of a young successful American woman. And so the die is cast.

As a playwright, Saracho has an easy honest feel for dialogue. In this story about race, gender, class and how they collide, her message is forthright and unambiguous. Truthfully, for a fair share of this 90-minute production, one might imagine that FADE is an all too obvious tale. That it is not, is a credit, both to the efficacy of the narrative and the adeptness of the actors. Similarly, director Jerry Ruiz brings the inherent conflict to the fore, accentuating the hypocrisy that prevails and pervades in the work place, and among the people who exist in it.

That Mariana Sanchez’s design of the office space transforms from borderline dingy to openly magnificent brings a nifty reveal. But overall, this small stage production is unpretentious. Mostly, it’s a really a feat for these two engaging actors, who pull off a simple tale with exceptional finesse.

Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street in the West Village
866-811-4111 primarystages.org
Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes, no intermission
Photos: James Leynse

Annie Dow, Eddie Martinez

 

Kid Victory Opens

The New York premiere of KID VICTORY, book and lyrics by Greg Pierce, music by John Kander with story by John Kander and Greg Pierce, and directed by Liesl Tommy began previews on Wednesday, February 1 and opened on Wednesday, February 22 at the Vineyard Theatre, announced by the company’s Artistic Directors, Douglas Aibel and Sarah Stern.

The New York premiere of KID VICTORY, book and lyrics by Greg Pierce, music by John Kander with story by John Kander and Greg Pierce, and directed by Liesl Tommy began previews on Wednesday, February 1 and opened on Wednesday, February 22 at the Vineyard Theatre, announced by the company’s Artistic Directors, Douglas Aibel and Sarah Stern.

Vineyard Theatre is located at 108 E. 15 St. in New York City. Member tickets for KID VICTORY will be available today, Monday, November 14 at 1pm, and tickets will be available to the general public on Monday, December 5 at www.vineyardtheatre.org or by calling 212-353-0303.

 In KID VICTORY, seventeen-year old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance.  

 Four-time Tony Award winner John Kander, with the late Fred Ebb, wrote the legendary musicals CHICAGO, CABARET, and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, which premiered at Vineyard Theatre.  John Kander and Greg Pierce’s first collaboration, the musical THE LANDING, premiered in 2013 at The Vineyard. Liesl Tommy received a Tony Award nomination for her direction of ECLIPSED on Broadway. KID VICTORY is a co-production with Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. 

 KID VICTORY  features an outstanding cast which are ANN ARVIA, JOEL BLUM, LAURA DARRELL, JEFFRY DENMAN, BRANDON FLYNN, DANIEL JENKINS, DEE ROSCIOLI, KAREN ZIEMBA, BLAKE ZOLFO and choreography by Christopher Windom (Dallas Theater Center’s LES MISERABLES), scenic design by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos (ECLIPSED), costumes by Jacob Climer (INFORMED CONSENT), lighting by David Weiner (Vineyard’s THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY), and sound design by Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski (AFTER MIDNIGHT). David Loud (THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS) serves as music supervisor, Michael Starobin (FALSETTOS) as orchestrator, and Jesse Kissel (THE VISIT) as music director.

Photography: JK Clarke/Theater Pizzazz

Chita Rivera, John Kander
Chita Rivera
Chita Rivera, Terrence McNally

 Vineyard Theatre is located at 108 E. 15 St. in New York City.
For Tickets for KID VICTORY go to www.vineyardtheatre.org or by calling 212-353-0303.

Monopoly ****

Monopoly: Singing the Lives  from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk

By: Paulanne Simmons

From its earliest beginnings in 16th century France, cabaret has always been the purlieu of writers and artists. So it should not be surprising that cabarets have always been subversive. Billie Roe must have had this in mind when she created her newest theme show, Monopoly: Singing the Lives from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk, which she brought to Don’t Tell Mama on Feb. 12

Monopoly: Singing the Lives  from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk

By: Paulanne Simmons

From its earliest beginnings in 16th century France, cabaret has always been the purlieu of writers and artists. So it should not be surprising that cabarets have always been subversive. Billie Roe must have had this in mind when she created her newest theme show, Monopoly: Singing the Lives from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk, which she brought to Don’t Tell Mama on Feb. 12

As anyone who has ever played Monopoly knows, Baltic Avenue is cheap and probably where the undesirables live, while Boardwalk is prime real estate. Thus Roe’s show becomes not only a means for her to tell the story family vacations and family rivalry but also the story of our nation’s struggles with class. 

As directed by Mark Nadler, Roe is an excellent storyteller. Her vacations in upstate New York come alive, along with all the characters she creates to sing the songs: the aging Jewish woman, Sophie Gerstein; a hipster; a homeless woman.

Roe has chosen an eclectic mix of old and new songs. She begins very appropriately with Mark Mitchell’s “Cone on! Let’s Play Monopoly.” From there it’s not a huge jump to Ted Koehler and Harold Arlen’s Depression era “Raisin’ the Rent.”

Not surprisingly, many of the songs are about finances or the lack of them: Rickie Lee Jones’ “Easy Money,” John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son.” But Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s “September Song” and U2 Bono’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” are an apt reminder that the loss of love can be more painful than the lack of money.

Although Roe creates numerous characters, it is her own personality and her formidable pipes that dominate the show. Part actress, part singer, with a strong dose of the vixen, Roe makes us remember that the purpose of cabaret is not only to make us smile. It’s also supposed to make us think.


Don’t Tell Mama – 343 West 46 Street – 212 757-0788

Billie Roe

The Object Lesson ***

By: Patrick Christiano

Be forewarned The Object Lesson created by Geoff Sobelle and directed by David Neumann, also a choreographer, dancer and actor, is a performance art piece running roughly 100 minutes at the New York Theatre Workshop. Sobelle is also the only credited actor, although another person in the guise of an audience member interacts with him.  In his biography Sobelle calls himself an actor, director and maker of absurdist performance art, and the press release says he is mainly interested in moments of “the sublime ridiculous.” 

By: Patrick Christiano

Be forewarned The Object Lesson created by Geoff Sobelle and directed by David Neumann, also a choreographer, dancer and actor, is a performance art piece running roughly 100 minutes at the New York Theatre Workshop. Sobelle is also the only credited actor, although another person in the guise of an audience member interacts with him.  In his biography Sobelle calls himself an actor, director and maker of absurdist performance art, and the press release says he is mainly interested in moments of “the sublime ridiculous.”

For The Object Lesson, which played at BAM’s 2014 Next Wave Festival to much acclaim, the NYTW’s open space resembles a warehouse full of clutter filled with piles upon piles of cardboard boxes and objects of all sorts, impressively designed by Steven Dufala. In fact, the scenic installation may be the best part of the show as audience members are encouraged to go early to roam the setting and sift through the debris. “Enjoy yourself,” a program notes says “All this stuff has been waiting for you! Take a box and open it. Explore. Find someone curious in the room and give them something…” Indeed, if you want a good seat, you must go early.  Many audience members settled for sitting on hastily arranged boxes since there is a limited number of actual seats available on the sofas or chairs that are part of the design.

Photo: Barry Gordin

When we finally meet Sobelle he talks at the audience as opposed to engaging them in the performance piece that is basically five vignettes not actually connected to one another. There is a clever one where the guest makes a phone call, and then the phone calls back repeating the first call to create a second conversation.

The highlight and most inventive is when Sobelle in ice skates prepares dinner for an audience member, which consists of chopping the lettuce and carrots for her salad with his skates before launching into a dance on top of the table.

The final piece has Sobelle unpacking a bottomless box giving us a glimpse of his life from the present to the past. Part clown, part magician and highly athletic Sobelle cuts an entertaining figure, however for my taste the show is too long. Give me old fashioned theater with real dramatic impact.

Lighting design by Christopher Kuhl and sound design by Nick Kourtides were more than serviceable.

The Object Lesson is now playing at the New York Theater Workshop, 79 East 4th St. through March 5th.
For Tickets Click Here
Photos: Joan Marcus

Westminster Dog Show

By: Patrick Christiano

Nearly 3,000 dogs from 200 breads competed in the 2017 Westminster Dog Show that concluded at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday February 14 with the German Shepherd Rumor, the Winner in the herding group, taking the coveted top prize of Best in Show. Rumor was a crowd favorite, and the packed house at Garden cheered wildly when she was named the winner from the seven group winners that competed for Best in Show.

By: Patrick Christiano

Nearly 3,000 dogs from 200 breads competed in the 2017 Westminster Dog Show that concluded at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday February 14 with the German Shepherd Rumor, the Winner in the herding group, taking the coveted top prize of Best in Show. Rumor was a crowd favorite, and the packed house at Garden cheered wildly when she was named the winner from the seven group winners that competed for Best in Show.

On Monday evening the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding groups competed with the winner of each group moving on to Tuesday’s final showdown for Best in Show.  A Norwegian Elkhound, Diky, won the Hound Group, a Pekingese, Chuckie, won the Toy Group, a Miniature Poodle won the Non-Sporting Group, and Rumor won the Herding Group.

On Tuesday evening dogs from the Sporting, Working, and Terrier Groups competed to crown a winner in each group. An Irish Setter, Adrian, took top prize in the Sporting Group, a Boxer, Devlin, won the Working Dog Group, and a Norwich Terrier, Tanner, walked off with first place in the Terrier Group. Those winners moved on to vie against the previous evening’s winners for best in show.

Terrier Group Winner Norwich Terrier “Tanner”

However, Rumor, a charismatic German Shepherd, was not to be denied. Not only was she a favorite with the crowd, apparently with the judges. She won her group last year as well, and many thought he would win in 2016. However, 2017 turned out to be a banner year for her. Besides Best in Show at Westminster, she scored numerous Best in Shows throughout the country. She was seen Wednesday having steak at the legendary Sardis Restaurant in the theater district and will retired from competition after Tuesday’s win.

Best in Show Winner German Shephard “Rumor”

 The Westminster Dog Show is the second oldest major sporting event in America, second only to the Kentucky Derby, which began one year before the Westminster Kennel Club launched the Dog Show that today is the largest Dog Show in America bringing breeders from all over the country to New York for the annual event.

Photos Courtesy of Pam Gleason and Barry Gordin

Evening at the Talk House **

By: David Sheward

As you enter the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center for Wallace Shawn’s new play Evening at the Talk House, you’re greeted by a familiar-looking lady dressed in the traditional white shirt and black pants of a waitron. “Would you like a sweet or some sparkling water?” she asks. It takes a minute to realize this is Jill Eikenberry, best known for LA Law. Wait, isn’t that the still-boyish Matthew Broderick wandering around Derek McLane’s cosy clubhouse set? And the squeaking voice of the Yoda-like playwright himself, also a cast member, can be heard chatting with the audience. From this relaxed and inviting opening, you might think you’ll be experiencing a nice, warm night with familiar faces from stage and screen delivering cute career anecdotes. But, you’re in for a surprise.

By: David Sheward

As you enter the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center for Wallace Shawn’s new play Evening at the Talk House, you’re greeted by a familiar-looking lady dressed in the traditional white shirt and black pants of a waitron. “Would you like a sweet or some sparkling water?” she asks. It takes a minute to realize this is Jill Eikenberry, best known for LA Law. Wait, isn’t that the still-boyish Matthew Broderick wandering around Derek McLane’s cosy clubhouse set? And the squeaking voice of the Yoda-like playwright himself, also a cast member, can be heard chatting with the audience. From this relaxed and inviting opening, you might think you’ll be experiencing a nice, warm night with familiar faces from stage and screen delivering cute career anecdotes. But, you’re in for a surprise.

As in his previous works The Fever, The Designated Mourner, and Aunt Dan and Lemon, Shawn has chosen a easy, comfortable milieu to examine the banality of evil. At first the bonhomie of the pre-show carries into the opening moments of the play in Scott Elliott’s deceptively laid-back staging. Broderick, in his character of Robert, a successful playwright, delivers a long monologue explaining that he and several friends are at the Talk House, a run-down theatre club, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the production of his best play. There is much praise of the club’s snacks and cocktails and friendly chit-chat with actor Tom (jovial Larry Pine), producer Bill (avuncular Michael Tucker, Eikenberry’s husband and LA Law co-star), wardrobe mistress Annette (caustic Claudia Shear), composer Ted (waspy John Epperson, aka drag creation extraordinaire Lypsinka), and Nellie (Eikenberry) who runs the club along with her sole employee Jane (Annapurna Sriram), a sometime actress.

But it’s gradually revealed we’re in a dystopian future where theater is dead, soulless TV sitcoms are the dominant cultural offerings, and murder has become a government policy. In fact, several of the group have become part-time assassins to make ends meet since there are so few jobs in the arts. A charming but ruthless figure named Ackerley (a stand-in for Trump?) has risen to power and his dictatorial whims are dismissed as necessary measures to keep the population safe. Shawn plays Dick, an unemployed actor and the lone voice of dissent. He is a pitiful figure in pajamas frequently beaten by his “friends” for speaking out against Ackerley’s repressive regime.

This is an intriguing concept but the air of casual acceptance of these horrors is so pervasive, it deadens the impact. Yes, that’s Shawn’s point—fascism creeps in on little cat feet. But the acting and direction is so mild, the effect is soporific. Excerpts from Robert’s supposedly great play are as dry as the rest of the dialogue, so there is no contrast between the golden past the characters long for and their gloomy present. The all-star company has been directed to underplay every word and action, except for Shawn and Sriram. Shawn delivers a moving performance as the pathetic Dick, raging against the dying of the light of art. Sriram is saddled with the difficult task of making Jane, who matter-of-factly discusses poisoning old people and whines about her lack of acting work,  sympathetic, but she manages to pull it off. Apart from these two bright spots and Shawn’s valid themes of the slow creeping effect of political oppression, it’s a pretty dull Evening with all talk and little action.

Feb. 16—March 12. The New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., NYC. Tue—Fri, 7:30 pm; Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, Sun, 2 pm. Running time: one hour and 40 mins. with no intermission. $75—$100. (212) 279-4200. www.ticketcentral.com.
Photos: Monique Carboni
Originally Published on February 16, 201& in ArtsinNY.com

 

Wallace Shawn, Mathew Broderick
Matthew Broderick, Annapurna Sriram, Jill Eikenberry, Wallace Shawn, John Epperson, Claudia Shear, Michael Tucker

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

20/20 Reading Series Kicks Off with The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

By: Iris Wiener

Stages need theatre that provokes conversation, has a voice, and inspires imagination. Woodshed Collective aims to do this and more with the “20/20 Reading Series,” a series of readings taking place in 2017 featuring anti-fascist and political plays speaking to the current political climate. The theatre company, which describes themselves as being driven by the belief in the combined power of stories and architecture to break down the barriers of everyday life, says that the idea for this series “will keep our vision clear about the challenges we face and help find a path to the 2020 election.”

20/20 Reading Series Kicks Off with The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

By: Iris Wiener

Stages need theatre that provokes conversation, has a voice, and inspires imagination. Woodshed Collective aims to do this and more with the “20/20 Reading Series,” a series of readings taking place in 2017 featuring anti-fascist and political plays speaking to the current political climate. The theatre company, which describes themselves as being driven by the belief in the combined power of stories and architecture to break down the barriers of everyday life, says that the idea for this series “will keep our vision clear about the challenges we face and help find a path to the 2020 election.”

With a total of three planned readings in 2017, the series kicks off with The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, starring two-time Tony Award winner Christian Borle as Arturo Ui, on February 20th at 7:30pm. Directed by Woodshed Collective Artistic Director Teddy Bergman, the play is a satirical allegory of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany prior to World War II. The Brecht classic will be performed at a New York City historic landmark which has been at the forefront of social change and activism, Judson Memorial Church, located at 55 Washington Square South in New York.

In addition to Borle, Bergman has brought a number of his original cast mates from Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher on board for the reading. Greg Hildreth, Arnie Burton, David Rossmer and Kevin Del Aguila are also along for the ride. Also joining them for Arturo Ui are Bill Buell (Cyrano de Bergerac), James Saito (Life of Pi), Ethan Dubin (Rancho Viejo), Joe Tippett (Airline Highway), Peter Bartlett (She Loves Me), Elvy Yost (The Catch), Ben Beckley (Dying for It) and Justin Perez (Justin’s Basement Show).

 

Christian Borle

According to Woodshed Collective, all proceeds from the 2017 readings will go to organizations working to ensure a safe, open and just society. Tickets for the 20/20 reading of Arturo Ui are $50, with the first benefit of choice being the Southern Poverty Law Center (www.splcenter.org). Visit www.woodshedcollective.com for more information.

Photography: Barry Gordin

All Aboard!

 All Aboard!, New “Journey” Musical by National Pastime’s Al Tapper and Tony Sportiello, Opens

By: Ellis Nassour

Girl Behind the Curtain Productions (Sonia Carrion) will present the premiere of the original musical All Aboard!, with music and lyrics by Al Tapper and book by Tony Sportiello . The train leaves the station Friday (2/17) at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y [344 East 14th Street, between First and Second Avenues]. Opening night is Saturday (2/18). The limited engagement closes March 5.

 All Aboard!, New “Journey” Musical by National Pastime’s Al Tapper and Tony Sportiello, Opens

By: Ellis Nassour

Girl Behind the Curtain Productions (Sonia Carrion) will present the premiere of the original musical All Aboard!, with music and lyrics by Al Tapper and book by Tony Sportiello . The train leaves the station Friday (2/17) at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y [344 East 14th Street, between First and Second Avenues]. Opening night is Saturday (2/18). The limited engagement closes March 5.

Warren Scott Friedman is directing the three-member ensemble. David Wolfson, associate conductor of How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Theatre at MSqG, is music director.

The creative duo are co-artistic directors of Algonquin Theater Productions. Tapper, author and Peabody Award winner for Excellence in Broadcasting for his 2013 documentary Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, and theater and TV producer Sportiello, wrote the “screwball comedy: musical National Pastime. It debuted at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, had its New York debut at Playwrights Horizons Peter J. Sharp Theatre in 2012 and went on to play across the country. It ran most recently at the Bucks County Playhouse, with Hunter Foster directing. It will have its international premiere in Guadalajara, Mexico April 1 at the Teatro Vivian Blumenthal.

Tapper wrote music and lyrics for An Evening at the Carlyle,music, lyrics, and book for the musical Sessions, and music for Imperfect Chemistry.

All Aboard! is anything but your run-of-the-mill romantic musical. For one thing, it’s a musical in three acts. And don’t let the title fool you into thinking this is a bright and breeze, homey concoction. To quote a bit of JohnA Passaro: “Life is like a train ride. The passengers are seemingly going to the same destination as you, but based on their belief that the train will get them to their desired destination they will stay on or get off…”

Sportiello describes this riveting ride of six lives as “a timeless, mystical, and musical locomotive that unravels the mysterious tales of three couples and the different journeys they take.”

There’s Larry and Kim, whose happy marriage is threatened when Larry announces his desire to have an affair — but only if she agrees. Then there’s Jake and Karen, political spin doctors who encounter a scandal that’s so hot they may end up scorched. Finally, Marie, a successful entrepreneur is approached by Terry, who instead of being the angel she so desires turns out to be — No! not going there. No Spoiler Alert needed.

“Each of the characters discovers life and death, love and heartbreak, ambition and despair,” states Sportiello, “as they journey toward their own surprising and inexorable destinations.”

All Aboard! stars Brian Demar Jones (TV’s Grimm) as the conductor guiding the three couple to their ultimate destinynation; and doing triple duty portraying all three couples are Sammi Sadicario (Rock of Ages, regional) and Nathan Oesterle .

All Aboard! tickets are $50, general admission; $25, students/seniors. Purchase at the 14th Street Y box office, online at www.allaboardthemusical.com/tickets-please, or by calling (646) 395-4310. For more information, visit www/allaboardthemusical.com.

The Girl Behind the Curtain Productions is a boutique production house formed in 2014, It focuses on the creation and selling of original works for stage, TV, and concert/recordings. Producer Sonia Carrion previously worked with Cambridge’s American Repertory under Diane Paulus. For more information, visit www.thegirlbehindthecurtain.com.

I’ll Eat You Last

Jodi Stevens Headlines as Sue Mengers in John Logan’s I’ll East You Last at Music Theatre of Connecticut

By: Ellis Nassour

John Logan’s biting, sometimes brutal eavesdrop into an evening at the home of Hollywood’s pioneering first female mega agent, I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers, will star Jodi Stevens as the much-feared and, at least to a coterie of, much-loved powerbroker. It runs February 24-March 5 at Norwalk’s Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC) (509 Westport Avenue), celebrating its 30th Anniversary season.

Jodi Stevens Headlines as Sue Mengers in John Logan’s I’ll Eat You Last at Music Theatre of Connecticut

By: Ellis Nassour

John Logan’s biting, sometimes brutal eavesdrop into an evening at the home of Hollywood’s pioneering first female mega agent, I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers, will star Jodi Stevens as the much-feared and, at least to a coterie of, much-loved powerbroker. It runs February 24-March 5 at Norwalk’s Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC) (509 Westport Avenue), celebrating its 30th Anniversary season.

The show plays in the state-of-the-art 110-seat Main Stage theatre, which boasts it’s “Connecticut’s most intimate theatre setting.”

Stevens starred on Broadway in Urban Cowboy and Jekyll and Hyde. Off-Broadway and regional credits include Annie, Dracula: The Musical, Hairspray, Legally Blonde, Sweeney Todd, and opposite husband Scott Bryce, My Way and Love Letters at MTC and White Heron Theatre. She’s portrayed Marlene Dietrich in three productions: Noel Coward and Friends, the premiere of Barry Manilow’s Harmony, and Dietrich and Chevalier.

Mengers had a meteoric rise in Hollywood, rising quickly from agency secretary to powerful, revengeful, tart-tongued, and witheringly acidic agent in a then-male dominated field. In her early life, in Nazi Germany, she was kicked to the curb as “a chubby Jewish girl.” She escaped, arriving in New York in the mid-50s. She learned English watching movies. All those films had her in a constant dreamscape about Hollywood. During the run of Funny Girl, she met and became friends with Streisand. When Streisand went to Hollywood, Mengers followed.

In I’ll Eat You Last, with Hollywood changing and clients deserting her, Mengers awaits her A-list dinner guest with a cigarette in one hand, a joint in the other. She sits forlornly in her glamorous Beverly Hills home hoping for a call from Streisand, who’s just fired her. In the long wait, she dishes hot gossip and dirty secrets.

Mengers never brushed off the rough edges, but that didn’t stop her from ruling regally over Hollywood. Her clients were the Who’s Who of tinseltown: Beatty, Cher, Dunaway, Anjelica Huston, Ali MacGraw, Nicholson, Burt Reynolds, and assorted moguls and movers and shakers from M-G-M to San Quentin. Every guest had to be famous.

In Logan’s play, Stevens, channeling mean Mengers, says “Honey, my own mother couldn’t get in here if she was standing outside in the rain!”

In a 60 Minutes interview, Mengers told Mike Wallace, “I was a little fish — a little nothing making a hundred and thirty-five dollars a week. I liked the way the agents lived: the expense accounts, the cars. I thought, ‘What they do isn’t that hard. It beats typing.'”

When she rose to agent, mentored by one of the firm’s top honchnos, she lifted his Rolodex and left for greener pastures. She took on the big boys, landing clients by threats, deception, cajoling, promises, guilt, and doggedness. She was once described as “a bulldog with charm.”

Mengers, who suffered chronic illnesses and, in the end, tiny strokes, passed in 2011 at age 79.

Jodi Stevens is a three-time Connecticut Critics Circle nominee – including for Featured Actress in MTC’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Logan is a three-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter and playwright. Plays include Red, winner of six Tonys including Best Play; screenplays include Skyfall, Sweeney Todd, The Aviator, and Gladiator. TV credits include Sex and the City.

Kevin Connors, MTC’s co-founder and executive artistic director, directs.

MTC is recipient of the Connecticut Critics’ Circle’s highest honor, the Tom Killen Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Connecticut Professional Theatre. Its 30th Anniversary season is supported in part by Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development and The Hour/Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

Tickets for I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers are $30-$55 and available online at www.musictheatreofct.com or by phone at (203) 454-3883.

Protest Songs *****

Classic Protest Songs: Second Edition
By: Paulanne Simmons

When many of us think of protest songs, we picture Bob Dylan, Joan Baez or Phil Ochs strumming guitars and singing at marches, cafes and concert halls. But as Scott Siegel showed in his Classic Protest Songs: Second Edition at Metropolitan Room on Friday, Feb. 10, the history is much richer.

Classic Protest Songs: Second Edition
By: Paulanne Simmons

When many of us think of protest songs, we picture Bob Dylan, Joan Baez or Phil Ochs strumming guitars and singing at marches, cafes and concert halls. But as Scott Siegel showed in his Classic Protest Songs: Second Edition at Metropolitan Room on Friday, Feb. 10, the history is much richer.

Of course the evening did include a few of the classic protest songs of the 60s. Alex Getlin san Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and Laila Robbins sang Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Woodstock.” But there was also a fair sampling of much older songs. Jillian Louis sang Woody Guthrie’s 1940 “This Land is Your Land,” with the original, more controversial lyrics and Sal Viviano sang Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney’s Depression era “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

Siegel’s definition of protest songs is rather broad, including a good number of what we might call “inspirational” songs. Here Broadway had a major presence. Walker Jones sang “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific and Pepe Nufrio sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the songwriting team’s “Carousel.”

The evening ended, most appropriately, with Pepe Nufrio and the Broadway By the Year Chorus rendering a powerful interpretation of “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil’s Les Misérables.

Given the state of politics in the U.S. at this time, it’s not surprising that many of the songs were extremely heartfelt. Louis’s “This Land Is Your Land” including feisty audience participation. An American flag was unfurled at the end of “Do You Hear the People Sing.”

Perhaps Siegel really has it right. Protest songs and inspirational songs work hand-in-hand. Without hope their can be no resistance, and without resistance there is little hope.

Entrance Applause

By: Paulanne Simmons 

The theater is hushed. The house lights go off. Hugh Jackman walks onstage and the audience bursts into riotous applause

By: Paulanne Simmons 

The theater is hushed. The house lights go off. Hugh Jackman walks onstage and the audience bursts into riotous applause

Why? Jackman, as talented as he may be, has as yet done nothing to merit such acclaim. So it’s only reasonable to assume the audience is clapping for one (perhaps both) of two reasons. Jackman’s fans are showing the actor how much they appreciate him or how much they are anticipating his performance.

Either way, this is detrimental to the show. When the actor walks onstage in a play, that actor is not Hugh Jackman or Patti LuPone or James Earl Jones. The actor is the character he or she is play. Applause destroys this illusion and takes both the audience and the actor out of the place they should be to best interpret the playwright’s words.

What’s more, one can only imagine how the other, lesser known actors must feel when they walk onstage, unrecognized and unheralded. These hard-working men and women become second-class citizens in a play they have worked so hard to bring to life.

But perhaps the worst aspect of entrance applause is that it is part of the cult of the star, which is currently doing so much to ruin good theater. 

One suspects people applaud when a famous actor walks onstage mostly to acknowledge that they are savvy enough to recognize this esteemed personage. Even before entering the theater, they have read the right magazines, perused the most important reviews and seen the biggest shows. This applause may serve more to gratify their own egos than to please the actor.

It would be nice if people chose shows they would like to see on the basis of other factors as well: the subject matter, the playwright, the director. This would do much to insure that producers would think twice before putting their money behind a shoddy production, with the cynical hope that it will succeed because a big movie star is taking the lead.

But if people are not interested in any of the above, let them at least keep quiet and not disturb those in the audience who have come to the theater to see a play and not a star.

Tulla Booth Gallery

Tulla Booth Gallery Presents Winter Favorites New and Old Treasures

Tulla Booth Gallery Presents Winter Favorites New and Old Treasures
Exhibit extended: November 25th, thru February   28th, 2017           

Artist: Featured: Stephen Wilkes>National Geographic Series

  Also on display are Blair Seagram  Daniel Jones Eric Meola 

Tulla Booth Gallery
66 Main Street, PO Box 547, Sag Harbor, NY 11963
Appointments: 631-725-3100 

 

Sunset Boulevard

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece, Sunset Boulevard celebrates an historic return to Broadway at The Palace Theatre on February 9th

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece, Sunset Boulevard celebrates an historic return to Broadway at The Palace Theatre on February 9th.

Three-time Tony Award-winner Glenn Close and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Sunset Boulevard return to Broadway in this new production. Close made her West End debut in bravura sold-out limited engagement at the English National Opera (ENO) in April 2016, winning an Evening Standard Award for her iconic portrayal of Norma Desmond. Based on Billy Wilder’s classic Academy Award-winning film, Sunset Boulevard features a celebrated book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.) Directed by Lonny Price, this production of Sunset Boulevard will feature a 40-piece orchestra on the stage of The Palace Theatre (1564 7th Avenue), the biggest on Broadway in more than 80 years.

With the Broadway opening of Sunset Boulevard, Andrew Lloyd Webber will have the rare distinction of having four musicals running simultaneously on Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock – The Musical, CATS, and Sunset Boulevard – an accomplishment only achieved previously by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

THE HISTORIC OPENING NIGHT WILL TAKE PLACE AT BROADWAY’S PALACE THEATRE with expected  first-nighters, including Bobby Cannavale, Al RokerJane KrakowskiCyndi LauperRosie O’DonnellJoel GreyMariska HargitayNeil Patrick HarrisPaul SchafferGabriel ByrneTituss BurgessBob BalabanKelli O’HaraPatina MillerLaura OsnesLena HallSierra BoggessLillias WhiteRosanna Scotto, and more to help  celebrate the historic opening night of Sunset Boulevard with cast members, including Glenn CloseMichael XavierSiobhan Dillon, and Fred Johanson, and the creative team: legendary composer Andrew Lloyd WebberDon Black (Book & Lyrics), Christopher Hampton (Book and Lyrics), and Lonny Price (Director).

 

Westminster Dog Show

The 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a prestigious all-breed conformation show that has been held in New York City annually since 1877. Currently, the breed and Junior Showmanship competitions are being held at Piers 92 and 94, while the group and Best in Show competitions are held at Madison Square Garden.

The 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a prestigious all-breed conformation show that has been held in New York City annually since 1877. Currently, the breed and Junior Showmanship competitions are being held at Piers 92 and 94, while the group and Best in Show competitions are held at Madison Square Garden.

Meet & Compete Featuring the 4th Masters Agility Championship & 8th AKC Meet The Breeds
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Daytime Session

4th Masters Agility Championship (8 am – 4 pm)
8th AKC Meet The Breeds (10 am – 5 pm)
Evening Session

Masters Agility Championship Finals (7 pm – 9 pm)
* Daytime session will take place at Piers 92/94 and evening session will take place at Pier 94 (711 12th Ave. at 55th St. & West Side Highway).

2nd Masters Obedience Championship
Monday, February 13, 2017
Daytime Session (8 am – 4 pm)

* Event will take place at Pier 94 (711 12th Ave. at 55th St. & West Side Highway).
141st WKC Dog Show
Monday, February 13, 2017
Daytime Session (8 am – 4 pm)

Breed Judging across Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups
Junior Showmanship preliminaries
Evening Session (6 pm – 11 pm)
Doors open at 6 pm for Best of Breed benching area

Group Judging across Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups (begins at 8 pm)
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Daytime Session (8 am – 4 pm)

Breed Judging across Sporting, Working and Terrier groups
Junior Showmanship preliminaries
Evening Session (6 pm – 11 pm)
Doors open at 6 pm for Best of Breed benching area

Junior Showmanship Finals (begins at 7:30 pm)
Group Judging across Sporting, Working and Terrier groups (begins at 8:00 pm)
BEST IN SHOW!
* Daytime Sessions will take place at The Piers 92/94 (711 12th Ave. at 55th St. & West Side Highway).
* Evening Sessions will take place at Madison Square Garden (West 33rd St. & 7th Ave)
* All time EST

Photo: Barry Gordin