“Angry Young Man” Opens

Urban Stages, Frances Hill, Founding Artistic Director brings American Premiere of critically acclaimed British comedy to New York.

Angry Young Man, a timely comedy by award winning playwright Ben Woolf about a Middle Eastern surgeon, who’s arrival in London is fraught with witty mishaps, opened at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street in New York.  A superb cast meticulously helmed by Stephen Hamilton with comic panache keeps the fast-paced tale moving at a delirious pace for a brisk 75 minutes. The gifted ensemble features Christopher Daftsios, Rami Margron, Max Samuels, and Nazli Sarpkaya.

Urban Stages, Frances Hill, Founding Artistic Director brings American Premiere of critically acclaimed British comedy to New York.

Angry Young Man, a timely comedy by award winning playwright Ben Woolf about a Middle Eastern surgeon, who’s arrival in London is fraught with witty mishaps, opened at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street in New York.  A superb cast meticulously helmed by Stephen Hamilton with comic panache keeps the fast-paced tale moving at a delirious pace for a brisk 75 minutes. The gifted ensemble features Christopher Daftsios, Rami Margron, Max Samuels, and Nazli Sarpkaya.

The limited run at Urban Stages is through April 9th and will be followed up a by a run at Guild Hall in East Hampton from May 31 through June 18. The performance schedule  at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street, is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7pm, Saturday a 3pm & 7pm and Sunday at 3pm. No evening performance on March 29 and April 5th.  For tickets call 866-811-4111.

Photography: Barry Gordin

Tony Walton Yuka SIlvera, Maxine Leu, Gen LeRoy
Costume Designer Yuka Silvera, Director Stephen Hamilton
Gen LeRoy, Emma Walton Hamilton
Founder/Artistic Director Urban Stages Frances Hill, Director Stephen Hamilton, Christopher Daftsios
Director Stephen Hamilton, Rami Margron, Nazli Sarpkaya
Stephen Hamilton, Christopher Daftsios
Tony Walton, Stephen Hamilton
Urban Stages Founder/Artistic Director Francis Hill, Rami Margron, Nazli Sarpkaya, Director Stephen Hamilton, Max Samuels, Christopher Daftsios, Urban Stages Associates Artistic Director Peter Napolitano

 

 

Live Out Loud

LIVE OUT LOUD  Kick -Off Reception at the New Amsterdam Theater

LIVE OUT LOUD hosted a lively kick-off reception at the New Amsterdam Theater on West 42 Street for their annual Young Trailblazers Gala that will take place on June 5th at TheTimesCenter in NYC. Catering was provided by David Ellis Events and Spirits were provided by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. 

LIVE OUT LOUD  Kick -Off Reception at the New Amsterdam Theater

LIVE OUT LOUD hosted a lively kick-off reception at the New Amsterdam Theater on West 42 Street for their annual Young Trailblazers Gala that will take place on June 5th at TheTimesCenter in NYC. Catering was provided by David Ellis Events and Spirits were provided by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. 

 Live Out Loud inspires, nurtures and empowers LGBTQ youth to build a successful future by connecting them to positive role models and affirmative experiences in the LGBTQ community.

By providing youth with opportunities to interact with adults who understand the realities of living openly as a member of the LGBTQ community, Live Out Loud helps young people to achieve academic success, healthy relationships, rewarding careers, and a fulfilling life.

Live Out Loud’s Young Trailblazers Gala is an annual event where 400 donors, corporate supporters, elected officials and youth scholarship winners celebrate Live Out Loud’s life-affirming educational programming for LGBTQ youth. At the event, Live Out Loud will honor advocates in the community who further our mission, and will present three $10,000 scholarships to high school seniors for their leadership in the LGBTQ community – a favorite moment of the evening. 

 For Tickets and more information go to www.liveoutloud.info

 Tuesday, June 5, 2017 5:30pm VIP Entry. Doors Open 6pm until 9:30pm TheTimesCenter, 242 W 41st Street in NYC
Early-bird tickets are $200 until Monday, April 3rd, 2017. Afterwards tickets are $250.

Photography: Barry Gordin

Edie Windsor, Judith Kasen-Windsor
Edie Windsor, Zach Wichter

David Nickle, Bruce T. Sloane, Hal Rubinstein

Angelique Piwinski, Edie Windsor

Come from Away *** – Idomeneo ***

By: David Sheward

Is it appropriate for a Broadway musical to address the staggering impact of the 2001 attacks on America? Come from Away, the new Canadian tuner, answers with a resounding yes. Husband and wife librettist-songwriters Irene Sankoff and David Hein have solved the problem of their super-heavy subject matter by focusing on a positive aspect of the tragedy. When terrorists were using planes as bombs targeting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, several hundred flights were diverted to Gander, a tiny town in New Foundland where thousands of passengers had to remain for days. How the citizens and their guests from around the world coped with this logistical nightmare forms the main thread of the show with several individual story-strands interwoven throughout. The New Foundlanders respond to the demands with grace and humor and the panicked “plane people” gradually warm to them.

By: David Sheward

Is it appropriate for a Broadway musical to address the staggering impact of the 2001 attacks on America? Come from Away, the new Canadian tuner, answers with a resounding yes. Husband and wife librettist-songwriters Irene Sankoff and David Hein have solved the problem of their super-heavy subject matter by focusing on a positive aspect of the tragedy. When terrorists were using planes as bombs targeting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, several hundred flights were diverted to Gander, a tiny town in New Foundland where thousands of passengers had to remain for days. How the citizens and their guests from around the world coped with this logistical nightmare forms the main thread of the show with several individual story-strands interwoven throughout. The New Foundlanders respond to the demands with grace and humor and the panicked “plane people” gradually warm to them.

Yes, the book is episodic and the songs are a bit treacly here and there, occasionally taking a mite too much inspiration from the Titanic theme which is quoted ironically more than once. However, Sankoff and Hein resist these Lifetime-TV temptations for the most part, leavening syrupy “feel-good” tropes with sharp wit and memorable, Gaelic-flavored music.

Director Christopher Ashley keeps the many characters and settings clear with a precise, fluid direction and strong, detail-laden performances from a twelve-member cast playing multiple roles. Jenn Colella has the sole solo number as a pioneering female pilot and soars with it. Joel Hatch is dryly deadpan as the town’s mayor. Rodney Hicks gets maximum comic mileage out of a New Yorker’s skepticism at his hosts’ hospitality. Lee MacDougall and Sharon Wheatley are endearingly awkward as middle-aged strangers who become long-distance lovers. Chad Kimball and Caesar Samayoa lend snap to a quarreling gay couple. Petrina Bromley delivers an animal lover’s concern for pets trapped on board with a direct honesty. Astrid Van Wierren is refreshingly blunt as a no-nonsense teacher. Kendra Kassebaum makes a nervous new TV reporter endearingly eager and Q. Smith emotes with intensity as a mother seeking word of her firefighter son.

Jean Colella in Come From Away

Not all instincts tapped by the crisis are noble. A Muslim traveller (played with dignity by Samayoa) is treated with fear and suspicion, though gradually befriended by the townspeople, and then subjected to a humiliating interrogation. I would have preferred Sankoff and Hein had ventured further into this darkness, to give a fuller picture of the story. But despite its slight flaws, Come From Away offers a reassuring and heartening take on the earth-shattering event that launched us into an age of terrifying uncertainty.

The Metropolitan Opera’s staging of Mozart’s Idemeneo is also about a community in crisis, but the citizens of ancient Crete are handling a ravenous sea monster rather than an influx of displaced passengers. This revival of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s 1982 staging is gorgeously sung by soprano Ying Fang as the delicate princess Ilia, baritone Matthew Polenzani in the title role, and mezzo-soprano Alice Coote in the trouser role of the prince Adamante. Maestro James Levine delivers his customary exquisite handling of the Met orchestra. But the four-hour evening is stolen by Elza van den Heever as the treacherously jealous Elettra.

Matthew Polenzani in Idomeneo at the Met

Like a libidinous tornado swooping in from another opera (such as Strauss’ modernistic Electra about the same mythological figure), van den Heeven sweeps away all before her in a whirlwind of diva passion. During her Act Two aria in which Elettra eagerly anticipates thwarting her rival Ilia and ensnaring Adamante, she practically makes love to the furniture as she physicalizes her character’s devouring lust. Then after everyone else finds a happy ending, she consumes the stage in a towering rage and collapses, choking on her own fury. Most of Ponnelle’s staging is of the “stand and deliver” or “park and bark” variety where the singers are planted center stage and hold forth for their solos. Van den Heever is anything but stationary or static, taking command of this massive work and wrestling it to the ground.

Come From Away ***
Opened March 12 for an open run. Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St., NYC. Tue, Thu, 7 pm; Wed, Fri—Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, 2 pm; Sun, 3 pm. $47—$157. Running time: one hour and 40 mins. with no intermission. $47—$157. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com.
Photos: Mathew Murphy

Come From Away

Idomeneo ***
 March 6—25. Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, 66th St. and Broadway, NYC. Repertory schedule. Running time: four hours including two intermissions. $25—$460. (212) 362-6000 or www.metopera.org.
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Alice Coote

Baby, Dream Your Dream @ 92nd Street Y ****

By: Linda Amiel Burns

The famed Lyrics & Lyricist series at the 92nd Street Y celebrated Dorothy Fields and the Women of the American Songbook in “Baby, Dream Your Dream.”

By: Linda Amiel Burns

The famed Lyrics & Lyricist series at the 92nd Street Y celebrated Dorothy Fields and the Women of the American Songbook in “Baby, Dream Your Dream.”

The Third Concert of Lyrics & Lyricists at the 92nd Street Y was held on March 18-20 to honor women songwriters in “Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and the Women of the American Songbook.”  Deborah Grace Winer, the series artistic director served as writer and charming host. The terrific all female cast starred Kenita Miller, Nancy Opel, Margo Seibert, Emily Skinner and special guest artist, the remarkable Marilyn Maye.  The renowned music director John Oddo was the arranger/orchestrator on piano and led the ironically all male

Band consisting of Aaron Heick on reeds, Scott Harrell on trumpet, Jay Leonhart on bass and James Saporito on drums.  The program was smoothly director by Mark Waldrop.

According to Program notes by Winer,  “Tin Pan Alley was always a ‘boys’ club’ but a few brilliant persistent women elbowed their way in creating some of the most iconic songs and musical in the American pantheon.  Dorothy Fields led the way (collaborating with Jerome Kern and others) and winning an Oscar for her lyrics to  “The Way You Look tonight by the age of 30, and becoming the only woman whose name sits alongside the Gershwins, Kern, Berlin, Porter, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein and other A-listers of the American Songbook.”

The show opened with the cast performing “Baby, Dream Your Dream” followed by “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” from Sweet Charity written by Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman (1966).  Two of Fields most famous songs were written with Jimmy McHugh “On The Sunny Side of the Street” sung beautifully by Emily, and Margo sang a sweet rendition of  “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”

There were only a handful of female songwriters but Fields was not alone in her time. The standouts were Kay Swift (music) who wrote “Can’t We Be Friends” with Paul James in 1929 sung by Kenita.  Nancy performed “You Oughta Be in Pictures” that Dana Suesse wrote the music for with Edward Heyman.  The cast sang Ann Ronell’s (written with Frank Churchill) “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” from the 1933 film Three Little Pigs, which was a political statement at the time.  Other female songwriters came later and stood on the shoulders of these pioneers.

Many people didn’t realize that Billie Holiday wrote her iconic song “God Bless The Child” with Arthur Herzog, Jr. and Kenita scored with.  The brilliant Betty Comden (with Adolph Green) was represented with Nancy’s dynamite rendition of “If You Hadn’t- But You Did” from Two On The Aisle and “The Party’s Over” from Bells Are Ringing both with music by Jule Styne.  Another fabulous female composer was Carolyn Leigh who wrote Little Me with Cy Coleman and Kenita sang “I’ve Got Your Number” and Nancy scored with “When In Rome” and Emily’s love voice was perfect for “It Amazes Me.”  Mary Rodgers, daughter of Richard, wrote Once Upon A Mattress with Marshall Barer and the show made Carol Burnett a star in 1959.  Kenita did a great job on one of the hits from that show, “Shy.”

The extraordinary Marilyn Maye rocked the room with “You’re Gonna Hear From Me” written by Dory Previn with her then husband Andre Previn from the film Inside Daisy Clover (1965).

She also sang a wonderful rendition of  “Fever” that Peggy Lee wrote additional lyrics to.  A highlight of the show was her thrilling “Fifty Percent” from Ballroom written by Marilyn Bergman (with her husband Alan and music by Billy Goldenberg).

Another great moment was the emotional “Back To Before” sung in parts by the cast, from Ragtime with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens (and music by Stephen Flaherty).  The show closed with the optimistic “The Best Is Yet To Come” by Carolyn Leigh with Cy Coleman and as the lyrics appeared on the screen, the audience happily joined in.

There are two more concerts “yet to come” in this series.

May 6-8 Songbook Classics by Unsung Lyricists

Rob Fisher, Artistic Director with Sheldon Harnick

June 3-5 From Camelot to California – the Worlds of Lerner & Lowe with Rob Berman, Artistic Director

For Tickets Call 212 415-5500 or Visit www.92Y/concerts

Hello Dolly

Hello, Dolly!, starring legendary performer Bette Midler. Directed by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, Hello, Dolly! began preview performances at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street) on March 15, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20, 2017.  

Hello, Dolly!, starring legendary performer Bette Midler. Directed by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, Hello, Dolly! began preview performances at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street) on March 15, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20, 2017.  

Ms. Midler, and  David Hyde Pierce (Horace Vandergelder), will be joined by two-time Tony Award® nominee Gavin Creel (Cornelius Hackl), Tony Award® nominee Kate Baldwin (Irene Molloy), Taylor Trensch (Barnaby Tucker), Will Burton (Ambrose Kemper), Melanie Moore (Ermengarde), Tony Award® nominee Jennifer Simard (Ernestina), and an ensemble of twenty-seven.

The complete creative/design team for the production, features three-time Tony Award® winner Santo Loquasto (Scenic & Costume Design), five-time Tony Award® winner Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Tony Award® winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), Andy Einhorn (Music Direction), Tony Award® winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), Tony Award® winner Don Pippin (Vocal Arrangements), Glen Kelly (Dance Arrangements), and Telsey + Company (Casting).

The ensemble features Cameron Adams, Phillip Attmore, Giuseppe Bausilio, Justin Bowen, Elizabeth Earley, Taeler Elyse Cyrus, Leslie Donna Flesner, Jenifer Foote, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Blake Hammond, Stephen Hanna, Michael Hartung, Robert Hartwell, Amanda LaMotte, Analisa Leaming, Jess LeProtto, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Nathan Madden, Linda Mugleston, Hayley Podschun, Jessica Sheridan, Michaeljon Slinger, Christian Dante White, Branch Woodman, Ryan Worsing, and Richard Riaz Yoder.

This new production of Hello, Dolly! the first new production of this classic musical to appear on Broadway since it opened more than fifty years ago, will pay tribute to the original work of legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion, which has been hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history.

Based on Thornton Wilder’s farce The Matchmaker, Hello, Dolly! caused an instant sensation when it premiered on Broadway in 1964, starring Carol Channing in the title role.  It went on to win a record-shattering ten Tony Awards, including those for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Producer of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design.  It was also named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. Its original Broadway cast recording hit the top of the Billboard album chart, and years later was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  It also marked the greatest producing triumph of legendary impresario David Merrick, running for 2,844 performances over seven years and breaking the record for the longest running show in Broadway history.   In addition to Ms. Channing, an astonishing list of Broadway and Hollywood luminaries have inhabited the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi, including Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Betty Grable, Martha Raye, Ginger Rogers, Ethel Merman (in her last appearance on Broadway), and Mary Martin, who led the West End company.
Photo: Julieta Cervantes

For Tickets to Hello Dolly Click Here

 

Guild Hall Awards

Guild Hall, the cultural center of East Hampton, held their 32nd Annual Academy of the Arts Achievement Awards at The Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.

Guild Hall, the cultural center of East Hampton, held their 32nd Annual Academy of the Arts Achievement Awards at The Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.

The Awards presented to summer and year-round East End residents, who have demonstrated excellence in the visual, literary, and performing arts, the honorees this year were Susan Stroman, a five time Tony award winning choreographer/director, for Performing Arts, Edwina von Gal, a landscape designer, who has designed gardens for Calvin Klein, Cindy Sherman and Ina Garten, for Visual Arts, Philip Schultz, a poet and founder of the Writer’s School in NYC, for Literary Arts, and Cheryl and Michael Minikes for Leadership and Philanthropic Endeavors. Cheryl is the Director of the 92 Street Y and Michael is the Chairman and President of JP Morgan. The awards ceremony and dinner was hosted by artist Eric Fischl, the Academy President, along with Marty Cohen, the Board Chair, and Andrea Grover, Guild Hall’s Executive Director.  Broadway producer Roy Furman was one of the presenters along with John Weidman, Maya Lin, and Alice Quinn.

Andrea Grover, Edwina von Gal

Photography: Barry Gordin

AIR Residents @ Guild Hall Marianna Feldman Levine, Walter Price, Tanya Gabrielian, Lydia Hicks, Judson Merrill, Lucia Davis
Artist April Gornik, President, Academy of the Arts Eric Fischl, Chairman Marty Cohen, Edwina von Gal
Honorees Michael Minikes, Cheryl Minikes, Philip Shultz, Edwina von Gal
Academy of the Arts President Marty Cohen, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Michele Cohen
Ginger Propper, Judy Steir, David Lewis, Elayne Krauss
Executive Director Guild Hall Andrea Grover, Carlos Lama
Pamela Pantzer, Cheryl Minikes, Magda Bleier
Honoree for Performing Arts Susan Stroman
Neo Political Cowgirls Artistic Director Kate Mueth, Artistic Director Guild Hall Josh Gladstone
Susan Jacobson, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Steve Jacobson
Producer Roy Furman, Honorees Cheryl & Michael Minikes
Artist Clifford Ross, Blythe Danner
Drama Desk Award winner Laura Osnes, Astaire Award winner Tony Yazbeck

Kate Mueth, Susan Stroman
Andrea Grover, Renee Bross Steinberg, Edwina von Gal, RIchard Steinberg
David Greenberg, Debra Halpert
Executive Director Guild Hall Andrea Grover, Carlos Lama

 

 

The Glass Menagerie ** – Sweeney Todd **** – Man from Nebraska ****

By: David Sheward

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve,” says Tom, the melancholy narrator of Tennessee Williams’ beloved The Glass Menagerie. “But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” In the new Broadway revival, the seventh since its 1945 premiere, director Sam Gold has stripped this delicate memory play of the magic Tom evokes. The stage is bare, the walls of the Belasco Theatre are exposed, there are few props, and Adam Silverman’s lighting is as unforgiving as the naked lightbulb which exposes Blanche DuBois’ true age.

By: David Sheward

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve,” says Tom, the melancholy narrator of Tennessee Williams’ beloved The Glass Menagerie. “But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” In the new Broadway revival, the seventh since its 1945 premiere, director Sam Gold has stripped this delicate memory play of the magic Tom evokes. The stage is bare, the walls of the Belasco Theatre are exposed, there are few props, and Adam Silverman’s lighting is as unforgiving as the naked lightbulb which exposes Blanche DuBois’ true age.

Unlike John Tiffany’s 2013 haunting, surrealistic dream vision, Gold offers a raw, unvarnished retelling of Williams’ autobiographical tale of the fantasy-ridden Wingfield family and the brief, heartbreaking visit by a charismatic Gentleman Caller to the painfully shy daughter Laura. Tiffany’s staging stressed the script’s ephemeral memory aspect but also brought out the deep love between the Wingfields. The deep affection among the family is here thanks to soulful connections between Joe Mantello’s layered Tom and Sally Field’s somewhat clownish, rage-filled Amanda, the desperate mother. But Gold’s inconsistent, concept-driven direction obscure this bond and Williams’ themes of comforting lies versus harsh reality.

Why have a drenching onstage rainstorm during the Gentleman Caller dinner scene when you’ve established a minimalist, no-frills aesthetic? Why have that sequence accompanied by a contemporary song when the rest of the score evokes the time of the play, the late 1930s-early 40s?

To add to the confusion Gold has cast Madison Ferris, an actress with muscular dystrophy as Laura whom Williams describes as having a limp. Ferris exudes a confident air even as she is helped in and out of her wheelchair and moves with difficulty by herself. This is totally contrary to Williams’ depiction of Laura as a pathetic creature who can’t even sit through a typing course without being ill. This Laura can take care of herself, a choice which diffuses the impact of the tender encounter with Jim O’Connor, the Gentleman Caller, played as a shallow narcissist by Finn Wintrock.

It’s understandable that Gold would want to try a startlingly different tack since the play has been done so often and Williams’ original intent was to shake up theatrical conventions. I have previously seen the play three times on Broadway (with Julie Harris, Jessica Lange, and Cherry Jones), Off-Broadway (Judith Ivey), in summer stock (with Maureen Stapleton), regional theater in Philadelphia (Geraldine Fitzgerald), community theater, Off-Off-Broadway, on film (Gertrude Lawrence and Joanne Woodward), and TV (Katharine Hepburn). (I have not yet seen the restored 1966 broadcast with Shirley Booth.) So a fresh approach is admirable, but why blast away all the poetry?

Siobhán McCarthy and Jeremy Secomb in Sweeney Todd

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s magnificent musical horror show Sweeney Todd is as gritty as Menagerie is gauzy, and a radical staging shift does not diminish its power. Harold Prince’s original 1980 production was set in a giant factory. In 1989 Susan L. Schulman placed it on a crowded London street. In 2005, John Doyle moved it to an insane asylum, and last summer’s Glimmerglass version was played out in a 1950s town hall. A new production imported from London places the thrilling tale of a throat-slashing barber and a cannibalistic cook in its most logical setting—a meat pie shop—and the results are deliciously devilish. Designer Simon Kenny has transformed the Barrow Street Theatre into a cozy eatery with audience members crowded into shared tables and benches, munching on Mrs. Lovett’s delicacies before the show starts.

Like Sam Gold, director Bill Buckhurst has stripped Sweeney down—there are only eight actors and three musicians—but he has not attempted to deconstruct it. Buckhurst uses the intimate setting to create a terrifyingly close experience, having the actors move around and on top of the tables. It’s like being trapped inside a closet with a razor-wielding maniac (Amy Mae’s lighting, with the instruments hidden behind gratings, makes the atmosphere particularly spooky.) At one point the deranged Sweeney screams “MOVE!” to a theatergoer so he has enough room to strangle a victim.   

That bloodcurdling command is uttered by Jeremy Secomb, a holdover from the British production and probably the most frightening Sweeney you’ll ever see. His rumbling baritone and imposing physique are accompanied by a thousand-year stare which he fixes on certain patrons. Siobhan McCarthy captures Mrs. Lovett’s jolly amorality with precise comic timing. Two other Brits, Duncan Smith and Joseph Taylor create memorable impressions as the vile Judge Turpin and the spritely Toby. Among the fine American players, I especially enjoyed Betsy Morgan’s double turn as the addled Beggar Woman and the boisterous rival barber Pirelli. Music director Matt Aument and his trio manage to impart the lushness of Sondheim’s complex and gorgeous score.

Annette O’Toole and Reed Birney in The Man From Nebraska

Tracey Letts’ Man from Nebraska at Second Stage begins minimally but gradually takes on the weighty subjects of faith and finding your place in the universe. The opening scenes depict late middle-aged businessman Ken Carpenter and his wife Nancy on a typical Sunday with very little dialogue: attending church, eating out, visiting Ken’s elderly mother in a nursing home as the TV blares, driving home, going to bed. But suddenly Ken bursts into sobs and cries “I don’t believe in God anymore.” The rest of the play follows Ken as he searches for meaning in a meaningless world. Letts’ script is packed with subtext, brought out by an insightful cast and director (David Cromer). As he did in last season’s The Humans, Reed Birney as Ken creates a shattering and affecting portrait of a man suddenly without moorings. Annette O’Toole is equally heart-wrenching as his alienated spouse. The playwright is best known for the Pulitzer Prize winner August: Osage County, which was something of a massive melodrama about a large dysfunctional family right out of Shepard and Albee-ville. He achieves more devastating effects by tightening his focus onto one Man adrift.

The Glass Menagerie **
March 9—July 2. Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St., NYC. Tue, Thu, 7 pm; Wed, Fri—Sat, 8 pm; Wed, Sat, 2 pm; Sun, 3 pm. Running time: two hours and ten mins. with no intermission. $39—$149. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Sweeney Todd ****
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
: March 1—Dec. 31. Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., NYC. Tue—Thu, Sun, 7:30 pm; Fri, Sat, 8 pm; Sat, Sun, 2:30 pm. Running time: two hours and 40 mins. including intermission. $69.50—$135. (866) 811-4111. www.ovationtix.com. Photo: Joan Marcus

Man from Nebraska ****
Feb. 15—March 26. Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St., NYC. Tue-Thu, 7 pm; Fri—Sat, 8 pm; Sun, 2 and 7 pm. Running time: two hours and five mins. including intermission. $30—$100. (212) 246-4422. www.2t.com. Photo: Joan Marcus

Originally Published on March 12, 2017 in ArtsinNY.com

Sunset Boulevard ****1/2

By: Isa Goldberg

When Glenn Close created the role of Norma Desmond in the original 1994 Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard, it was something of a camp Hollywood event. Her oversized gestures and vibrant voice seemed like a humorous counterpoint to the image of the fading silent film star, which she portrayed.

By: Isa Goldberg

When Glenn Close created the role of Norma Desmond in the original 1994 Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard, it was something of a camp Hollywood event. Her oversized gestures and vibrant voice seemed like a humorous counterpoint to the image of the fading silent film star, which she portrayed.

Watching her now – 23 years later – you won’t hear titters in the audience. Nor is there a sweeping staircase that lands nearly center stage – as there was in the original production. There is, however, a more believable, more vicious, more fearful and frightening Hollywood icon to discover. And that is the present day Glenn Close (Norma Desmond), who we follow in close-up throughout most of the entire two acts.

Beyond any ordinary vanity, Norma is the object of her own ritualistic devotion.  And as Close portrays her, she is a universal character, embittered by her faded glory to the point of being delusional. It’s truly old age that lurks here like a hideous evil.

Deftly directed by Lonny Price at the legendary Palace Theater, the stage is mostly taken up by the orchestra. In that respect, this revival feels like a concert-style production – in the manner of director John Doyle – and without the glitz of a Broadway musical.  Sunset is a sung-through musical, after all, and in this production there aren’t any  dance numbers.

With a minimalist set (James Noone), darkly lit as though through a smoky camera lens, (Mark Henderson)– the production evokes a sense of impending gloom, as in a horror movie from the ‘40s. It takes a while before we even hear a splashy upbeat Broadway tuner.  Fortunately, that song, “Every movie’s a circus,” ramps up with jazzy rhythms and a chorus of Hollywood kids, hanging around at Paramount Studios.

 

Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis and Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaefer

This is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s more beautiful scores, in my opinion. Its cynical lyrics are the work of his collaborator Don Black, along with Christopher Hampton.

Glenn Close’s costumes (Anthony Powell) evoke not only the Hollywood icons of the ‘40s, but also the femme fatales and villains she helped to make famous – Cruella De Vil, among them. 

As Norma’s love interest, Joe Gillis, Michael Xavier is a dashing tenor, and here he definitely wins the bathing suit contest.  Siobhan Dillon, making her Broadway debut as the young woman who catches Joe’s eye, comes as a welcome relief to the vamps of old.  But, Glenn Close is in a class of her own.

Sunset Boulevard ****1/2
Palace Theatre
1564 Broadway in NYC.
Wed, Sat, 2 and 8pm; Thu 7pm; Fri, 8pm; Sun, 3pm.
Running time: two hours and 30 mins. including intermission.
$65—$199.
(877) 250-2929. www.ticketmaster.com.
Photos: Joan Marcus

Drama Desk Awards

Laura Benanti (She Loves Me, Gypsy) and Javier Muñoz (Hamilton, In the Heights) will announce the nominations for the 62nd Annual Drama Desk Awards on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10:00 AM at Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 W. 54th Street), announced by Charles Wright, Drama Desk President and  Gretchen Shugart, CEO of TheaterMania.com.

Laura Benanti (She Loves Me, Gypsy) and Javier Muñoz (Hamilton, In the Heights) will announce the nominations for the 62nd Annual Drama Desk Awards on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10:00 AM at Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 W. 54th Street), announced by Charles Wright, Drama Desk President and  Gretchen Shugart, CEO of TheaterMania.com.

The nominations announcement news conference and the awards show will be live-streamed on www.TheaterMania.com.

Javier Munoz

“It is an honor to have Laura Benanti and Javier Muñoz announce this year’s Drama Desk Nominations,” said Gretchen Shugart. “Unique, gifted, and gracious… these creative individuals are excellent representatives of the New York theater community.  We invite the industry and public to watch the nominations on TheaterMania.com‘s live webcast from Feinstein’s/54 Below.”

Michael Urie will host The 62nd Annual Drama Desk Awards at The Town Hall (123 W. 43rd Street) on Sunday, June 4th 2o17.

Michael Urie – Photo: Barry Gordin

The Drama Desk Awards, which are presented annually, honor outstanding achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. What sets the Drama Desk Awards apart is that they are voted on and bestowed by theater critics, journalists, editors, publishers, and broadcasters covering theater.

The 2016-2017 Drama Desk Nominating Committee is composed of: David Barbour (Lighting&Sound America), Chair; Linda Buchwald (freelance, American Theatre, Playbill, TDF StagesTheatre is Easy, JTA); Peter Filichia (Broadway Select, author, most recently, of The Great Parade: The Remarkable 1963-64 Broadway Season); David Finkle (Blogger, Huffington PostClyde Fitch Report); Sandy MacDonald (freelance, Time Out New YorkTheaterNewsOnline.com); Douglas Strassler (Garden State Journal); Zachary Stewart (TheaterMania); Charles Wright (President, Drama Desk), ex officio.

For the sixth consecutive year, TheaterMania will present the awards ceremony and Joey Parnes Productions will produce and manage the show.  Shugart is the Managing Executive Producer of the Drama Desk Awards. The Awards show will be written by Bill Rosenfield anddirected by Mark Waldrop (Not That Jewish, Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly, Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends). In addition to Gretchen Shugart as Managing Executive Producer, Robert R. Blume and David S. Stone are Executive Producers of the Drama Desk Awards.

Tickets to the 62nd Annual Drama Desk Awards are available to the general public at www.dramadeskawards.com.

The Drama Desk Awards, which are presented annually, honor outstanding achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. What sets the Drama Desk Awards apart is that they are voted on and bestowed by theater critics, journalists, editors, publishers, and broadcasters covering theater.


The 2016-2017 Board of Directors of the Drama Desk is composed of: Charles Wright (A+E Networks), President; Richard Ridge (BroadwayWorld.com), 1st Vice President; Lauren Yarger (reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com), 2nd Vice President; Andy Lefkowitz (Broadway.com), Secretary; Edward Karam (offoffonline.com), Treasurer; David Barbour (Lighting&Sound America), Chair, Awards Nominating Committee; Leslie (Hoban) Blake (Two on the Aisle/MNN/YouTube/Daily Motion), Historian; Arlene Epstein (Richner Communications/South Shore Record & Nassau Herald); Elysa Gardner (freelance critic/arts writer); Isa Goldberg (freelance writer, East Hampton IndependentSouthampton Press); John Istel (Managing editor, DramaDesk.org; freelance arts editor and journalist); David Kaufman (author and freelance); William Wolf (WolfEntertainmentGuide.com, adjunct professor, NYU). 

The Penitent ***1/2

By: Isa Goldberg

Victim or victimizer? In David Mamet’s new play The Penitent, off Broadway at The Atlantic Theater Company, a mass murderer, whom we never meet, is the central figure. But he’s not the one who is on trial here, anyway. It’s his psychiatrist, Charles (Chris Bauer), who becomes the object of the inquisition that surrounds the murder of ten innocent people. In the metaphorical sense, Charles, his wife Kath (Rebecca Pidgeon), and his attorney (Jordan Lage) count foremost among the triage. Their lives are ruined.

By: Isa Goldberg

Victim or victimizer? In David Mamet’s new play The Penitent, off Broadway at The Atlantic Theater Company, a mass murderer, whom we never meet, is the central figure. But he’s not the one who is on trial here, anyway. It’s his psychiatrist, Charles (Chris Bauer), who becomes the object of the inquisition that surrounds the murder of ten innocent people. In the metaphorical sense, Charles, his wife Kath (Rebecca Pidgeon), and his attorney (Jordan Lage) count foremost among the triage. Their lives are ruined.

Chris Bauer

The issue here is less about gun control, but rather about the tragedy of a society in which so much is deregulated, while so much else suffers from rigid regulation. So, what are we regulating or deregulating, and why? Who has the right to hold guns? What are our responsibilities as citizens? What are we free to believe and enact? Is good faith and loyalty meaningful? What is law and what is morality?

While these issues emerge clearly through an intriguing plot, it would be unfair to give too much away. But the fact that Mamet is raising these questions with us makes us party to the inquisition, and therefore partners in the crime. This is one of his most thought provoking plays, and the dialogue is especially rich. Noticeably, there are very few four-letter invectives here.

Capturing the rhythms of Mamet’s clipped overlapping lines of dialogue with utmost finesse, his long time collaborator, director Neil Pepe is at the top of his game. Building complex relationships, peeling away at triangulation and betrayal with a formidable eye to revealing the truth.

Tim Mackabee’s set design is as simple and unobtrusive as possible, indicating to us with minimalist elements, the space where these events take place. Given that they all occur in the here and now, we may simply conclude that it’s any space, all space, and perhaps a space anyone and everyone could inhabit.

The acting is uniformly excellent. Bauer brings a soulful thoughtfulness to his role, which makes the talky nature of the play manageable. And if he isn’t the most honest card player in this game, it’s pretty clear that his attorney, a straight-faced Jordan Lage, isn’t either.

Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as the attorney who needs to identify guilt (in the case of a mass murder, where the murderer is caught with the gun in his hand?) is outrageous and totally credible in his snazzy lawyer’s garb. The most opaque and disturbing character, however, is Kath, a role which Rebecca Pidgeon embodies in a most intriguing way.

The Penitent ***1/2
Atlantic Theater Company
Linda Gross Theater
336 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011
Phone: (866) 811-4111  Photos: Doug Hamilton

Patsy Cline

PBS/THIRTEEN’s American Masters: Patsy Cline

By: Beau Jared 

The legendary country and pop star of the late 50s and early 60s has finally gotten a quasi-good biography in the form of PBS/THIRTEEN’s American Masters: Patsy Cline, which premiers on March 4, to kick off Women’s History Month. Marks the 43rd Anniversary of Cline’s death (March 5, in a plane crash and the 85th anniversary of Cline’s birth (September 8, 1932).

PBS/THIRTEEN’s American Masters: Patsy Cline

By: Beau Jared 

The legendary country and pop star of the late 50s and early 60s has finally gotten a quasi-good biography in the form of PBS/THIRTEEN’s American Masters: Patsy Cline, which premiers on March 4, to kick off Women’s History Month. Marks the 43rd Anniversary of Cline’s death (March 5, in a plane crash and the 85th anniversary of Cline’s birth (September 8, 1932).

Cline was the rebellious, outspoken Virginia gal named Virginia Patterson Hensley until she let a band leader madly in love with her [he was merely one of her loves] change her name to the more palpable Patsy Hensley. Then, another change was in store when she met sorta-wealthy, mama’s boy Gerald Cline and, mistakenly, married him.

There’s lots to admire in this American Masters, but it’s mainly just a bunch of talking heads – and not the ones you might expect [Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee, Barbara Mandrell, whom are very much still with us and who had almost a sisterly relationship with Patsy.

Cline defined modern country music and was a pioneer of the Nashville Sound [actually, the pioneer was legendary country record producer, Owen Bradley,  a former big band leader, who was the pioneer – he knew what Patsy was capable of and guided her away from yodeling to lush ballads that became her bread-and-butter. Though Cline was a fan of rock and pop, she only wanted to sing hillbilly.

Many who worked in the studio with her related Cline had no idea what her voice was capable of. A sleazy record label owner dusted off a song that had been turned down by several artists, but Bradley took it, rearranged it and created Cline’s first hit, “Walkin’ After Midnight.” It was not only a country hit, but also got into the upper reaches of the pop charts – making Cline the first female country solo artist to cross over from country into pop. Once there, lush ballads laced with strings [unheard of in country except as fiddles!], followed: “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy,” “She’s Got You,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Leaving on Your Mind,” and “Back in Baby’s Arms.”

 As fate would have it, just when the best of her life was beginning, it ended. Cline was peaking in stardom after overcoming industry gender biases in a male-dominated field, not to mention and her own personal hardships [she was about to sign final divorce papers], and, after a near fatal car crash, uncanny premonitions that she would die early. Cline, her manager and two Grand Ole Opry artists were killed in the crash of a four-seater plane. She had only just turned 30.

Bradley shaped Cline to use her singular talent and heart-wrenching emotional depth he co-created to break down barriers of gender, class and genre. Amazingly, she didn’t write any of her songs, but friends such as Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran, and Willie Nelson knew her so well that the tunes they wrote actually captured what was going on in her tumultuous private life [a second marriage to a home-town hot shot, literally cut from the same cloth, but stardom stymied their marriage into one of and physical abuse].

It would be wonderful if this American Masters reached the heights that most have. It seldom even reaches half way. There are numerous old B&W film clips [but no one thought to locate several fine color ones from the famed Ozark Jubilee TV archives. The program is mostly sound bites, very few insightful, from Beverly D’Angelo, who did a fantastic impersonation of Cline in the Loretta Lynn bio-pic Coal Miner’s Daughter; country legend Wanda Jackson, who at least knew Cline, but not well; Reba McEntire, about the only one who tells it like it was; Bill Anderson, only briefly, and what a shame because he toured with Patsy and has great tales of their time on the road; artist Kacey Musgraves, Nelson, and LeAnn Rimes.

There are clips from archival video interviews with Bradley, Nelson, and second husband, Charlie Dick. There’s a glimpse of Cline/Dick’s daughter Julie, who was only four at the time of her mother’s death. Roseanne Cash narrates, but not that much. It’s a shame she wasn’t interviewed because her father Johnny Cash was a beloved friend of Cline’s and she toured on his shows.

You’ll hear Cline’s winning moment on CBS’s Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts, which in fact was a bit of a scam, when she broke the applause meter with her rendition of “Walkin’ after Midnight,” a tune she abhorred because, as she put it, it made her feel like a “street walker.”

Most of the above was researched from the best-selling Patsy Cline biography Honky Tonk Angel (St. Martin’s Press; updated edition, Chicago Review Press), the very first and, to many, the still definitive one because author Ellis Nassour interviewed just about everyone who ever came in contact with Cline.

Patsy Cline boldly  — brazenly, according to a couple of jealous “Opry gals” interviewed for Nassour’s book, bucked female conventions of the 1950s with her wildly-creative fashion sense [most of her costumes were designed and crafted by her mother], and, even while helping others achieve success, to reach the top of her game. And just when the best of it began, it ended.

Her many posthumous honors include being the first solo female performer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, induction into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and a U.S. postage stamp.

American Masters: Patsy Cline is produced by Emmy-nominated director/producer Barbara J. Hall (Song by Song, Titanic: Band of Courage). Michael Kantor is American Masters series executive producer. For a preview of the program, go to pbs.org/americanmasters. For more on Patsy Cline, visit www.PatsyClineHTA.com

If I Forget ***

By: Isa Goldberg

In Steven Levenson’s If I Forget, the dysfunctional American family stands at the verge of self-destruction – with no safety net in sight. Billed as a comedy, it doesn’t take long before this tale, produced by the Roundabout Theatre at the Laura Pels Theatre, starts to sound like the Book of Job.

By: Isa Goldberg

In Steven Levenson’s If I Forget, the dysfunctional American family stands at the verge of self-destruction – with no safety net in sight. Billed as a comedy, it doesn’t take long before this tale, produced by the Roundabout Theatre at the Laura Pels Theatre, starts to sound like the Book of Job.

Set in a white, upper middle class neighborhood in Washington D.C., around 2000-20001, these are “hard times.” The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have collapsed; it’s days before 9/11; there is “another Bush in the White House.” And Michael (Jeremy Shamos) has just published his academic treatise, suggesting that we forget the Holocaust, and the death-obsessed culture, which it inculcates.

To his Jewish family, this is like inviting a suicide bomber to lunch. And the trustees of the University where Michael is up for tenure don’t feel too differently. To his credit, Michael’s book speaks to the hazards of American chauvinism and the crisis over immigration. And, for American Jews, it raises the question of what we have really learned from our history.

Tasha Lawrence, Larry Bryggman, Jeremy Shamos, Seth Steinberg, Gary Wilmes, Maria Dizzia

Regardless, the entire family arrives at the home where they all grew up, and where their father, Lou (Larry Bryggman) is living with the youngest of the three siblings, Sharon (Maria Dizzia).  The occasion is Lou’s 75th birthday. Clearly, the favorite sport is family sparring, with its focus on caring for the ageing patriarch, who can no longer take care of himself. That discussion, about money, brings out everyone’s ugly secrets.

That the two acts run by so quickly in spite of the of fairly well-worn material. Credit must go to the outstanding acting ensemble. Shamos, who has the gift of making every character look and feel like it’s just him, reveals Michael’s hypocrisy, which is so finessed, even if the character doesn’t recognize it. But clearly, Michael, who is devoted to the life of intellect, cannot live by the values he professes.

Bryggman who remains one of the great voices of the New York stage, portrays the aging Jewish merchant with crackling wisdom.  We respect his insights, especially when he describes his experience as an American soldier, liberating Dachau.  As his most devoted child, Sharon appears transparent and somewhat one-dimensional, but in Maria Dizzia’s hands she, too, emerges as an unresolved and complex character. The others, including a highly acquisitive Ellen (Tasha Lawrence) and her liberal wealthy philandering husband, Howard (Gary Wilmes), and Michael’s overlooked wife Holly (Kate Walsh) mesh into this tangled dystopian web.

Firmly directed by Daniel Sullivan, the production is engaging – not to mention moralizing. An ingenious set by Derek McLane shows us the characters on two levels – with the bedrooms upstairs and the living areas downstairs. Indeed, there is a kind of double speak going on. Clearly, when it comes to mining the language of parent child relationships, Levenson (Dear Evan Hanson), is a remarkable bard.

If I Forget ***
Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre
111 West 46 Street
Through April 30, 2017
2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission
Photos: Joan Marcus
For Tickets Click Here

 

Man from Nebraska ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

In Tracy Letts’ quiet but luminous Man from Nebraska, Reed plays Ken Carpenter, an unassuming family man who wakes up one night and discovers he’s lost his faith in God. Neither his wife, Nancy (Annette O’Toole), nor his married daughter, Ashley (Annika Boras), can help him. But the young Reverend Todd (William Ragsdale) suggests he may need a change of atmosphere and time away from his wife. So Ken decides to return to London, where he was stationed while he was in the service. 

By: Paulanne Simmons

In Tracy Letts’ quiet but luminous Man from Nebraska, Reed plays Ken Carpenter, an unassuming family man who wakes up one night and discovers he’s lost his faith in God. Neither his wife, Nancy (Annette O’Toole), nor his married daughter, Ashley (Annika Boras), can help him. But the young Reverend Todd (William Ragsdale) suggests he may need a change of atmosphere and time away from his wife. So Ken decides to return to London, where he was stationed while he was in the service. 

In London, Ken experiences a series of temptations similar to those of St. Anthony, the 3rd Century Egyptian monk who renounced all worldly goods and went off into the Arabian Desert to live the life of a hermit. 

On the plane, Ken meets a very available American business woman. Pat Monday (Heidi Armbruster), who offers exciting sex complete with handcuffs. Tamyra (the feisty Nana Mensah), the hotel bartender he befriends, provides the oblivion of drugs. Her sculptor flat mate, Harry Brown (Max Gordon Moore), seduces with the satisfaction of creating art.

Reed Birney, Heidi Armbruster

For a while Ken seems lost. When Ashley calls, he tells her he has no idea when he will be coming home. Under David Cromer’s thoughtful direction each of the many scenes in the play becomes one more step in Ken’s journey toward heaven or hell. The path is relentless, from Ken and Nancy’s routine-laden life, through Ken’s crisis in their bathroom, to his enlightenment in London. And set designer Takeshi Kata’s ever-present night sky overhead never lets us forget the spiritual nature of his journey,

But unlike St. Anthony, Ken has a wife who is back home grieving. And she too has her temptation, in the form of the raunchy septuagenarian, Reverend Todd’s father, Bud (Tom Bloom), who watches movies with Nancy and makes his moves. 

Ken also has one daughter who is drifting away from the family and another who thinks he no longer merits news of his grandchild. And he has a mother in a nursing home (Kathleen Peirce). These facts considerably reduce his options.

Like so many plays about mid-life wandering, Man from Nebraska only succeeds when the man in question, in the end, makes the decision we can approve or at least live with.  But if Letts’ play moves us despite the well-worn path it travels, that’s because it has three major assets: an excellent cast headed by the incomparable Birney, Cromer’s skillful direction backed by a terrific creative team, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s ability to create totally believable and sympathetic characters who never amaze but always surprise us.

Man from Nebraska ****
Second Stage Theater at the Tony Kiser Theatre:
305 West 43 Street
Through March 26, 2017
(212) 246-4422
Photography: Joan Marcus
www.2st.com
RUNNING TIME: 2 hours and 5 minutes including one intermission

Reed Birney, Nana Mensah

 

A Sketch of New York

Sketch comedy is a laugh out loud riot in the hands of Joe DiNozzi and Darien De Maria, the creators, writers and directors of A Sketch of New York, that played 9 performances at The Producers Club, 358 West 44th Street, this past weekend. The show, eighteen witty sketches of varying lengths lampooning life in the Big Apple poked fun at dating, film producers, cellphones, the transit system, and the perils of acting with entertaining zest. A Sketch of New York is a satirical comedy show in the vein of classic New York sketch theater with an aim at mocking the absurd dichotomies of life in New York City performed by three entirely different casts.

Sketch comedy is a laugh out loud riot in the hands of Joe DiNozzi and Darien De Maria, the creators, writers and directors of A Sketch of New York, that played 9 performances at The Producers Club, 358 West 44th Street, this past weekend. The show, eighteen witty sketches of varying lengths lampooning life in the Big Apple poked fun at dating, film producers, cellphones, the transit system, and the perils of acting with entertaining zest. A Sketch of New York is a satirical comedy show in the vein of classic New York sketch theater with an aim at mocking the absurd dichotomies of life in New York City performed by three entirely different casts.

The exceptional ensemble at the early show, which I attended, played beautifully together, displaying a deft command of the material while performing with terrific energy, pace and timing. Kudos to funny material deliciously served by these fine actors in no particular-order: Nancy Levine, Cara Jaye Dekelbaum, Rama Orleans-Lindsay, Gabrielle Arles, Brittney Bullock, Jarrod Crump, David Carter, Yoni Vendriger, Zeeshan Haider, Sandra Ajami, Janice Acevedo, Nasreen Rahman, Tom Crockett, and Patrick Christiano.

Joe DiNozzi
Patrick Christiano, Nasreen Rahman

 

 

Audrey Appleby ***1/2

Ladies Cheap Cocktails: Concoctions and Confessions ***1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

Audrey Appleby may live in Greenwich, Connecticut, but, to judge by her cabaret show, Ladies Cheap Cocktails: Concoctions and Confessions, she’s not exactly your typical soccer mom. Wearing sexy black lace, she took the stage at Cafe Noctambulo at Pangea and backed by the Daryl Kojak Sextet, sang in French, Spanish, Italian and English. What’s more, she wrote many of these songs herself.

Ladies Cheap Cocktails: Concoctions and Confessions ***1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

Audrey Appleby may live in Greenwich, Connecticut, but, to judge by her cabaret show, Ladies Cheap Cocktails: Concoctions and Confessions, she’s not exactly your typical soccer mom. Wearing sexy black lace, she took the stage at Cafe Noctambulo at Pangea and backed by the Daryl Kojak Sextet, sang in French, Spanish, Italian and English. What’s more, she wrote many of these songs herself.

Appleby’s songs speak of falling in love for the first time in Italy (“Estate”), meeting her husband (“Picasso Woman”), Paris adventures (“Silent Sights”), and going to Spain with a married man (“Spanish Affair”). There’s so much love and lust here, we hope it’s all autobiographical.

Certainly Appleby has spent much time abroad, both vacationing and working. She has performed in  Lyon, Angers and at such well known Paris venues as Cafe Universel and Caveau De La Huchette.

Many of Appleby’s songs are clearly influenced by Spanish music, but there’s also a touch of the blues and a bit of rock. The last two are particularly well suited to Appleby, as her voice is much more vibrant in the lower registers. Kojak has supplied some marvelous arrangements that support the singer and highlight her strengths.

Although the theme of the cabaret show is imagination, creativity, and freedom of spirit, there’s also a great deal of humor. Just when we expect a sweet or loving ending, Appleby reminds us that romance is not always romantic. There are women who pay for their children’s hot chocolate by having sex with men they don’t love (“Rue Blondell”). And sometimes nothing is the way it seems, like when the guy used to be a girl (“Girl in the Past Tense.”)

Appleby knows enough about a broken heart to sing about it and go on to the next man.  There’s always another bar offering ladies cheap cocktails all night long.

Cafe Noctambulo at Pangea is located at 178 Second Ave., www.cafenoctambulo.com.