Christine Lahti

Gloria: A Life: Feminist Activist Christine Lahti Channels Feminist Activist Gloria Steinem 

By: Ellis Nassour

In a superb, don’t miss performance,  stage, TV veteran, and Oscar-winning film star Christine Lahti is starring as her mentor and friend Gloria Steinem in Tony-winning playwright Emily Mann’s Gloria: A Life, an affecting, rich tapestry about one of the most inspiring and remarkable women of our time. For over five decades, Steinem has raised her voice for women’s equality

Gloria: A Life: Feminist Activist Christine Lahti Channels Feminist Activist Gloria Steinem 

By: Ellis Nassour

In a superb, don’t miss performance,  stage, TV veteran, and Oscar-winning film star Christine Lahti is starring as her mentor and friend Gloria Steinem in Tony-winning playwright Emily Mann’s Gloria: A Life, an affecting, rich tapestry about one of the most inspiring and remarkable women of our time. For over five decades, Steinem has raised her voice for women’s equality

Gloria: A Life, Off Broadway at the Daryl Roth Theatre (Park Avenue South at East 15th Street), does something only live theater can do. Act One is Steinem’s story, told by Lahti in illuminating ways, abetted by projections in a temporary configuration of posh stadium seating and a remarkable cast of seven women playing numerous female and male roles. Act Two, called a Talking Circle, invites audiences to carry the play’s themes into conversations of their own. Special guests often lead the conversation.

Since her days at the University of Michigan, where Lahti received a bachelor’s degree in drama, she’s been in the forefront for job/pay equality and health care for women. She’s been particularly effective as a member of NOW (National Organization for Women); a board member of ERA,  which is making ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment a top priority (“especially since we didn’t succeed the first time); and a board member of Equality Now, the grassroots organization that’s trying to eradicate violence against women worldwide. She’s also gone on the road to pitch for candidates she believes in.

“Those four years at university changed my life and turned me into an advocate for women,” says Lahti.”It was the late 60s and the height of the anti-Vietnam War protests, but that wasn’t the only mitigating factor.”

When Lahti heard of the play by Mann, who adapted Having Our Say, from the best-selling  memoir by Sarah and Annie Elizabeth Delany and Amy Hill Hearth, she reached out to lead producer Daryl Roth (Kinky Boots, The Normal Heart, Indecent), Tony-winning director Diane Paulus ((Waitress, Pippin, Porgy and Bess), and her friend Steinem that she was interested. So were they, it turns out. 

Lahti has collaborated closely with Mann and Tony-winning director Diane Paulus to make the play as relevant as possible. “I’ve never had an experience like this,” she enthuses. “Diane’s amazing, so low-ego, and open to ideas we’ve put forward. Gloria and I connect on many levels. Having her as a friend, I had a lot of offer.”

The production is the very definition of gender equality activism. The company is comprised almost entirely of women – cast, creative team, designers, staff, and producers.  Featured portraying various female and males roles are Brittany K. Allen, Joanna Glushak (War Paint, A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder), Fedna Jacquet,  Francesca F.  McKenzie, Patrena Murray, DeLanna Studi (August: Osage County),and Liz Wisan (Other Desert Cities).

Lahti reveals her activism came about the same way it did for Steinem. “Hers came from witnessing that her mother wasn’t able to live a full life for lots of reasons. I witnessed the same thing with my mother Elizabeth. She was always second class in her marriage and not really respected. She was never able to live her full potential. That worry has been the fuel of my activism. That’s where Gloria and I connect on a very deep level. I feel the same type of fire in my belly.”

She’s quite candid about pushing her mother away “because I was afraid of becoming her. Gloria did the same. However, I was vindicated by mother’s last chapter. She became a professional artist and a pilot. I like to think she was inspired by her daughter and the feminist movement.” 

But it wasn’t just her mother or Steinem’s. “In the suburb of Detroit where I grew up, it was every mother,” stated Lahti. “They had the role that was handed to them: housewives, which in itself is an honorable thing, but none were able to live to their full potential. It was the same everywhere. I was determined, like Gloria, to make sure all women matter. That’s the message that resonates throughout Gloria: A Life.”

Lahti calls herself a “dilettante activist.” “I do all I can when I’m not working, but primarily I’m an artist. While I hold activism in my heart, my advocacy is a drop in the bucket compared to how Gloria devoted her life to it. What’s wonderful about Emily’s play is I get to do both.”

She reveals a moment in her career that still embarrasses her. “I was already an activist when I auditioned for a Broadway show. It was a part I really wanted. I had already had my blood-curdling moment with a man and decided I’d never allow myself to be treated in a disrespectful way.” She went in to find the director sitting on a couch and motioning for her to sit next to him. “He was flirting and rubbing my thigh. I’m giggling and laughing, saying nothing because I wanted the job. 

“When I left the office, I felt so disgusted with myself – not with him – for not speaking up. That was something that happened much too often. Before Anita Hill, there wasn’t even a word for sexual harassment. Those hearings were tough to watch, especially how all these old, white men demeaned her. That might have been the first time that it dawned on me: It’s not okay! But, recently, we lived through all that again.” 

 “We’re living through a pivotal moment for women’s rights,” notes Daryl Roth, “and it’s incredibly important to be telling this story at this moment in time, reminding us how far we have come, enlightening a younger generation of women of their history and legacy, and empowering us to do the work yet ahead. This extraordinary group of women is unprecedented on or Off-Broadway. We honor Gloria’s five decades of activism and breaking down barriers for women around the world. We’re so very lucky that Christine, whose life has been affected and inspired by Gloria, is our Gloria. Her physicality is uncanny. It feels like she’s channeling Gloria.

“In our Talking Circle, we’ve been mesmerized by the heartfelt responses of those who’re angry and frustrated with recent events in the world. Having their voices heard gives them comfort and hope that they’re not alone. Part of the power of this is learning how different the experiences have been. That makes each of our performance a living, breathing thing.”

Diane Paulus agrees. “Hearing the stories has been amazing. For some, it’s a trip down memory lane; for younger generations, an informative lesson of where we came from, and what their mothers and grandmothers went through.  Emily’s play embraces the present moment, so we’re consistently updating the script to energize the production. Christine’s a supremely talented actress, activist, and friend of Gloria’s. She’s brought everything in her being to this production. Audiences, female and male, are moved.  

Lahti focuses on three major periods of her life: childhood, her journey as an actress and activist, and the realities of her life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood in True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness, a comical and self-deprecating essay collection. She performed aspects of it as monologues in cabarets and intimate theatres to better hone them for publication. 

She was Oscar-nominated as Best Supporting Actress for 1984’s Swing Shift, and won a 1995 Oscar for Best Short Film, Live Action for Lieberman in Love, in which she starred and directed. 

Her early years in New York, she as a waitress and did commercials before breaking into theater and TV. Off Broadway, she appeared in major roles at the Public; in the rotating cast of Culture Project’s Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s award-winning The Exonerated, a first-person narrative about wrongfully-convicted inmates; and revivals, such as Clifford Odets’ The Country Girl; and Second Stage’s revival of Jules Feiffer’s black comedy Little Murders

Broadway roles have included Michael Weller’s bittersweet romance Loose End, Wendy Wasserstein’s acclaimed The Heidi Chronicles; and Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning black comedy God of Carnage.

She’s been equally at home onstage and on TV. “I was getting some great roles in TV, and stayed away from theater for a while. But I began to crave it after I aged out of certain TV and film roles.”

Lahti’s had recurring roles in The Blacklist, the reboot of Hawaii Five-0, and co-starred three seasons on Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit as A.D.A. Sonya Paxton, and five seasons as Dr. Kathryn Austin on Chicago Hope. She’s especially proud of her role in 2004’s short-lived [only one season], way ahead of its time Jack and Bobby, a futuristic faux documentary in which she had the scene-stealing role of the eccentric college professor and single mother of brothers Jack and Bobby McCallister and her efforts to secure one a place in the history as U.S. president. It netted her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in at TV Series/Drama. 

One role that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked is her marriage in 1983 to her soul mate producer/director Thomas Schlamme (The Americans, West Wing, and Sports Night among others). Though they had shared theatrical interests, at the time Lahti says, “I was very suspect of any man. I thought all men wanted to squish me, but he turned out to be this incredible humanist. In those days, men never called themselves feminists. They were humanists. Today, you can’t get away with that! You have to identify where you stand.”

One reason their marriage has been strong, Lahti points out, “is that we have work we’re passionate about and share our adventures with each other.” She described being directed by her husband in a play and episodes of Chicago Hope and Jack and Bobby as “wonderful experiences.” Either way you look at it, she says, “I really lucked out.”

For tickets and more information on Gloria: A Life, visit  www.gloriatheplay.com, www.ticketmaster.com,or call (800) 745-3000.

The Cher Show ***, American Son **1/2

By: David Sheward 

December 8, 2018:  “Have you heard our writers? This dress is the best material in the show.” That’s a typical gag from The Cher Show, the new jukebox musical celebrating the varied life and career of the single-monickered icon, and it’s unfortunately apropos. Book-writer Ric Elice’s forced dialogue is at the same adolescent level of the star’s 1970s TV variety series in which she co-starred with her then-husband Sonny Bono, but Bob Mackie’s over-the-top costumes are worth the considerable price of admission. 

By: David Sheward 

December 8, 2018:  “Have you heard our writers? This dress is the best material in the show.” That’s a typical gag from The Cher Show, the new jukebox musical celebrating the varied life and career of the single-monickered icon, and it’s unfortunately apropos. Book-writer Ric Elice’s forced dialogue is at the same adolescent level of the star’s 1970s TV variety series in which she co-starred with her then-husband Sonny Bono, but Bob Mackie’s over-the-top costumes are worth the considerable price of admission. 

Yet the uneven book and the fabulous frocks are not all there is to this dazzling, ultimately entertaining glitz-fest. Jason Moore’s direction is lightning-fast, giving the proceedings the speed and flash of a Vegas concert, and the performances rise above the Behind the Music milieu of the story. Characters introduce themselves as if appearing for an interview (“I’m Robert Altman,” “Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Lucille Ball!”). Life messages are inserted like fortune-cookie wisdom (“The song makes you strong.”) Granted it’s a formidable task to cram 50-odd years of tumultuous on and offstage life into two and half hours, but Elice fails to give his subject the depth he brought to Franki Valle and the Four Seasons in Jersey Boys which he co-wrote with Marshall Brickman and is still running Off-Broadway. 

Following in the sequined footsteps of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Cher divides its heroine in three with a different actress embodying various stages in her life. Babe (the powerfully-voiced teen Michaela Diamond) handles childhood with an absent father and a tough-as-nails, but loving mother (Emily Skinner at her flinty best), as well as the early years of her partnership with Sonny (Jarrod Spector who captures Bono’s distinctive whiny vocals and snarky charm). Lady (an energetic and sleek Teal Wicks) is the heroine finding her trademark sarcastic humor and challenging her domineering husband for artistic and personal freedom. Stephanie J. Block delivers a Tony-worthy performance as the third persona, Star, the fully formed Cher, transformed from a shy girl and wife into a warrior goddess. Block goes beyond impersonation—she sounds exactly like the mature subject—to impart the diva’s continuing insecurities and search for the strength to defy the industry’s constraints on women of a certain age. 

Despite the rushed, shallow nature of the book, Cher contains more than its share of campy fun elements. As noted Mackie’s costumes are a gorgeous celebration of feathers, color, and outrageous fun (He even appears as a character in the person of delightful Michael Berresse). In addition, Christopher Gattelli’s choreography recreates the exuberant dances of all of Cher’s platforms from the TV shows to her concerts. The highlights of the entire production are a far-out fashion show and an exhilarating dance number to “Dark Lady” with a magnificently limber Ashley Blair Fitzgerald getting tossed around by muscular chorus boys. It’s kinda weird that the top two numbers in the show don’t even feature one of the three stars, but that’s The Cher Show—kinda off-base, a little skimpy on the book, but good for a silly laugh.

While The Cher Show doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a night of guilty pleasures and mainly succeeds, Christopher Demos-Brown’s American Son wants to be a deep, complex examination of an immediate, vital issue and comes up short. The playwright’s heart is in the right place, but the four characters in this 90-minute drama of race clashes and police overreach are more like representatives of viewpoints rather than flesh and blood. They speak to each other in talking points and editorial bulletins. Kenny Leon’s overheated direction turns the stage at the Booth and Derek McLane’s realistic police waiting-room set into a debate platform with convenient rainstorms timed to obviously reflect rising emotions.

Estranged couple Kendra (an intense Kerry Washington), an African-American psychology professor, and Scott (a stiff Steven Pasquale), a white FBI agent, are tensely awaiting word of their missing son Jamal in a Miami precinct. Rookie white officer Larkin (Jeremy Jordan balancing compassion with irritation) and African-American Lieutenant Stokes (Eugene Lee in the most subtle turn as a pragmatic, no-nonsense realist) treat each half of the pair differently dependent on their race, status and gender. Issues of racial profiling, law enforcement, and Kendra and Scott’s troubled relations surface and are vigorously argued, but we can hear the author talking rather than the characters. The cast does their level best to humanize the proceedings, particularly Washington who filters Demos-Brown’s stagey dialogue through desperate mother love and a laser-like focus on her objective of finding her son. The supposedly shocking climax is telegraphed and Jamal emerges as a symbol instead of a person, so American Son, even with its discussion guide in the program, emerges as a “teachable moment” instead of a moving drama.

The Cher Show ***
 Opened Dec. 3 for an open run. Neil Simon Theater, 250 W. 52nd St., NYC. Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 8pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 3pm. Running time: two hours and 20 mins. including intermission. $59—$384. www.ticketmaster.com. Photography: Joan Marcus

American Son **1/2
Nov. 4—Jan. 27. Booth Theater, 222 W. 45th St., NYC. Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 7pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 3pm. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. $69—$250. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photography: Peter Cunningham 

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 *****

By: Paulanne Simmons

 December 3, 2018:  On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The Germans agreed, but the British declined. However, during the Christmas season, spontaneous truces broke out all along the Western Front, as French, German and British troops crossed the line of battle to sing, exchange gifts and even engage in an impromptu game of soccer.

By: Paulanne Simmons

 December 3, 2018:  On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The Germans agreed, but the British declined. However, during the Christmas season, spontaneous truces broke out all along the Western Front, as French, German and British troops crossed the line of battle to sing, exchange gifts and even engage in an impromptu game of soccer.

This is the story told in song and spoken word in the magnificent All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914. The production, written and directed by Peter Rothstein, features an all-male acapella chorus singing a variety of songs, including patriotic tunes, Christmas carols, trench songs, popular numbers of the times and an unforgettable rendering of “Minuit Chrétiens.”

Interspersed among the songs is the heartbreaking testimony of the soldiers, first as they enthusiastically enlist for the hostilities they are certain will not last beyond the new year, then as they come to understand the awful reality of war. Drawing on firsthand accounts from the men at the front, Rothstein paints a picture of pain and camaraderie. Marcus Dillard bathes the actors in doleful light, while Trevor Bowen dresses them in black uniforms that both indicate the soldiers’ country of origin and the universality of their conditions.

The program begins with the Prologue and Optimistic Departure (with songs such as “Will Ye Go to Flanders?” and “God Save the King”) moves on to The Grim Reality featuring a less sanguine repertoire (“It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” “When the Bloody War Is Over,” “Keep the Home Fires Burning”) climaxes with Christmas and The Truce (“We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Oh Tannenbaum,” “The First Noel” and many, many more) and culminates with The Return to Battle and the Epilogue and a reprise of “Stille Nacht,” when all is no longer calm and peace may be in heaven but certainly not here on earth.

And the music is glorious, from Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach’s arrangements to the incredible harmonies these ten men achieve. Just hearing the unaccompanied human voice in all its glory is an unforgettable experience.

All Is Calm debuted as a live broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio in 2007 and has since toured the U.S. as a production, playing in such venues as The Kennedy Center, Cal Performances, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It will be at Sheen Center until December 30.

Don’t miss it.

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 *****
Sheen Center
18 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Office: (212) 219-3132
www.sheencenter.org.
Box Office Hours M-F: 12pm-5pm & one hour before performancesBox Office: (212) 925-2812
One Hour, 15 Minutes
Closing December 30, 2018
Photography: Dan Norman

 

American Son **1/2

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: AMERICAN SON

By: Samuel L. Leiter

December 6, 2018:  “I don’t get it,” my plus one said as several rows of spectators rose before us in a standing ovation for American Son at Broadway’s Booth Theatre. “What didn’t you get?” I asked later, thinking she might have meant the play’s abrupt ending. “Why the audience thought this play deserved a standing ovation,” she replied. I concurred, even wondering why it had received so many glowing responses on Show-Score.com. 

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: AMERICAN SON

By: Samuel L. Leiter

December 6, 2018:  “I don’t get it,” my plus one said as several rows of spectators rose before us in a standing ovation for American Son at Broadway’s Booth Theatre. “What didn’t you get?” I asked later, thinking she might have meant the play’s abrupt ending. “Why the audience thought this play deserved a standing ovation,” she replied. I concurred, even wondering why it had received so many glowing responses on Show-Score.com. 

American Son, directed by Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun), may have a ripped-from-the-headlines topicality, and it surely holds your attention for its 85 uninterrupted minutes, but it’s also mired in melodramatic contrivance, overwrought acting, and frequent implausibility.

Written by Christopher Demos-Brown, a former actor turned playwright who also happens to be a Miami civil trial attorney, the play—not unlike a TV procedural drama—is certainly on the right track thematically. Originally produced by the Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, MA, in 2016, where it was staged by the esteemed Julianne Boyd, the play tackles the tragically familiar problem of what happens when young blacks (men, mostly) have run-ins with the police. 

Coming at the issues from various angles to show all sides, Demos-Brown crafts a domestic drama about an estranged couple, the black Kendra Connor (a de-glamorized Kerry Washington), a psychology professor, and the white Scott Connor (Steven Pasquale, looking the part), an FBI agent. The pair are brought together when their academically, athletically, and musically talented, 6’2”, 18-year-old son, Jamal, goes missing after an argument with Kendra. 

It’s 4:00 AM in a Miami, FL, police station waiting room (looking, in Derek McLane’s design, more like an apartment house lobby). Outside the large glass windows, lightning flashes (thanks to lighting designer Peter Kaszorowski) as distractingly phony stage rain pours down. Kendra is driving the young night shift officer, Paul Larkin (Jeremy Jordan), new on this job, up the wall with her insistent demands for information about her son’s whereabouts, and her defiant responses to his sometimes racially insensitive questions. 

He, for his part, although trying to be nice—which Kendra cynically declares to be based on “managing” techniques he’s been taught—says he’s hamstrung by the lack of info as well as the protocols he must follow. He does inform Kendra that Jamal and his Lexus have been involved in some sort of incident. The details creep out only very slowly as the night advances, particularly after Scott shows up and Officer Larkin, awed by Scott’s FBI badge, opens up a bit more.

As Scott, trying to keeping cool, and Kendra, volatile and often openly hostile (toward everyone), discuss their fractured relationship (replete with sentimental memories) and their upbringing of Jamal, various racial themes arise. These even include a section about why their son was given the black-leaning name Jamal, when—if you can believe it—Scott, whose background is Irish, would have preferred Seamus!

They also bicker, unconvincingly, when Kendra criticizes Scott for using colloquial expressions like “a whole nother thing,” or “Alls I’m saying.” Given his otherwise perfectly sound discourse, these seem planted just to provoke a discussion about how Kendra has raised Jamal to speak standard English, not “Ebonics.”

Jamal has been educated at an elite Miami school, where his isolation as one of the school’s only black students has made him feel he’s “The Face of the Race.” He’s recently adopted a hip-hop look, with corn rows and baggy pants, decided to abandon going to West Point, where he’s been accepted, and gone so far as to paste a bumper sticker on his car, with a slogan emphasizing the words “Shoot Cops.”

All of this his indulgent mother finds reasons to dismiss in stereotypical dialogue (“It’s just a phase he’ll get over”). Her attitude only serves to create conflicts with her more conservative spouse, who nonetheless believes this experience will produce a “teachable moment” in the family dynamic.

Eventually, in a far-too-convenient melodramatic development, Scott receives a video link sent by his brother, whose TV job involves watching what comes in from police scanners. Jamal’s fate now comes into focus.

Before the show concludes, and as Scott’s temper begins to flare, Lt. John Stokes (Eugene Lee), the black “AM liaison officer” handling Jamal’s case, appears. His hardnosed professionalism only further enflames Scott, whose unprofessional overreaction once more raises critical eyebrows; this guy’s an FBI agent?

On the other hand, Stokes’s stinging rebuke to Kendra, showing the police side of the issues as filtered through a black detective, is one of the play’s sharpest moments. It forces you to approve or disapprove of his advice that young blacks stopped by the cops should “just shut their mouths and” do “as they’re told” to prevent escalating the situation.

Dramatic necessity, though, not authenticity, then forces Stokes to offer, in considerable detail, the official report on what the grainy video reveals, something that might, in real life, take days to resolve. But, hey, we’ve got a play to finish here.

An American Son raises important questions regarding the criminal justice system. We even hear the words “Black Lives Matter” and the names of such victims as Philando Castile, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. Demos-Brown interrogates the dilemmas confronting mixed-race children; the dangers facing young, black men in America as well as those affecting police officers; racial profiling; police accountability; and so forth.

However, Kendra and Scott are too artificially drawn to make their particular predicament believable, a situation exacerbated by the plot’s too-obvious mechanics. The absence of Jamal, too, is a serious drawback, as we have nothing but the eyes of his parents with which to view him. Moreover, given the appearances of Washington and Pasquale, we’re forced to wonder what he looks like, and, despite the constant references to his skin color—he’s always referred to as “black,” not “white”—just what that actually means.

Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale, both notably gifted stars, are impassioned but they fail to make their characters either sympathetic or well-rounded. While we understand Kendra’s frustration, Washington’s performance is particularly one-dimensional with her constant tears and shouted outbursts. Jeremy Jordan as the flustered but well-meaning cop is more recognizably human and Eugene Lee makes Lt. Stokes a formidable presence.

If you’re looking for didactic theatre challenging the never-ending stream of America’s black sons being shot by cops (including black ones), American Son is for you. It may not be great drama but it at least comes loaded with teachable moments.

American Son
Booth Theatre
222 W. 45th St., NYC
Through January 27, 2019
90 Minutes With No Intermission
Photography: Peter Cunningham

#realjoy ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

December 4, 2018:  Meg Flather and Lisa Viggiano first conceived of their show, #realjoy (at Don’t Tell Mama Dec. 2 and 30) as a way of getting rid of those pre-Christmas blues. But, inspired by Tracey Thorn’s “Joy,” their show really becomes a search for happiness and meaning in the midst of loss. With music director Tracy Stark at the piano, Flather and Viggiano perform a song list that goes well beyond traditional Christmas carols.

By: Paulanne Simmons

December 4, 2018:  Meg Flather and Lisa Viggiano first conceived of their show, #realjoy (at Don’t Tell Mama Dec. 2 and 30) as a way of getting rid of those pre-Christmas blues. But, inspired by Tracey Thorn’s “Joy,” their show really becomes a search for happiness and meaning in the midst of loss. With music director Tracy Stark at the piano, Flather and Viggiano perform a song list that goes well beyond traditional Christmas carols.

Meg Flather

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Favorite Things” reminds us that it’s the “doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles” that make us happy. And while Flather offers a host of possibilities for self-improvement with “Hard Candy Christmas”: ”Maybe I’ll lose some weight/Maybe I’ll clear my junk/Maybe I’ll just get drunk on apple wine,” Viggiano adds a lighter note with  “Christmas Time Is Here,” which means “Happiness and cheer/Fun for all that children call/Their favorite time of the year.”

Flather remembers her mother, who died in March, with her “Like a Sunday.” And Stark, who is also an accomplished singer and composer, sang her own “Perfect Christmas.” But Christmas Is not all reflection. It’s also lots of fun, which Flather (who played Mame as a 17-year-old) demonstrates with a Jerry Herman medley. 

In off-the-shoulder black Flather and Viggiano are in perfect visual harmony. Even better, these two friends are the milk and honey of song, with voices that blend, complement and enhance. Lennie Watts’s skilled direction makes the magic flow.

And for all you traditionalists,  Flather and Viggiano end with Christmas favorites, “Calling All Angels” and “Holy Night.”

Don’t Tell Mama is at 343 West 46 Street, www.donttellmamnyc.com.

 

Hype Man at The Flea ****

Captivating take on race and friendship in the world of hip-hop extended.

By:  Patrick Christiano

December 1, 2018:  Idris Goodwin’s HYPE MAN: a break beat play continues The Flea’s Color Brave season with a captivating look at race and friendship played out against the backdrop of hip-hop. The story, tautly directed by Kristan Seemel with Flea Artistic Director Niegel Smith, is set three years ago in an unnamed American city and follows two hip hop artists on the threshold of success. The two men, Pinnacle, played by Matt Stango, and Verb, played by Shakur Tolliver, were best buddies growing up on the mean streets of the unnamed city. Pinnacle is a white man, who writes and rhymes, while Verb, a black man just out of prison, hypes the crowd and adds authority to Pinnacle’s vision of himself as a hip-hop artist.

Captivating take on race & friendship in the world of hip-hop extended. 

By:  Patrick Christiano

December 1, 2018:  Idris Goodwin’s HYPE MAN: a break beat play continues The Flea’s Color Brave season with a captivating look at race and friendship played out against the backdrop of hip-hop. The story, tautly directed by Kristan Seemel with Flea Artistic Director Niegel Smith, is set three years ago in an unnamed American city and follows two hip hop artists on the threshold of success. The two men, Pinnacle, played by Matt Stango, and Verb, played by Shakur Tolliver, were best buddies growing up on the mean streets of the unnamed city. Pinnacle is a white man, who writes and rhymes, while Verb, a black man just out of prison, hypes the crowd and adds authority to Pinnacle’s vision of himself as a hip-hop artist.

When the action begins, they are in a recording studio waiting for their beat maker, a mixed-race female named Peep One, played by Tay Bass. On this particular-day she is late because of a traffic jam caused by the shooting of an unarmed black man. When Peep One finally arrives, the trio begin to rehearse for a gig on The Tonight Show, but the shooting will interfere with their work and challenge the three in ways they could not have envisioned.

Verb is undone by yet another killing of an unarmed black man, and he is especially incensed since the black teenager was shot 18 times. He wants the group to use their appearance on national television to make a stand against police brutality, but Pinnacle and Peep One will have none of it. They view this as a new plateau in their development and not the place to introduce politics into their messaging.

Shakur Tolliver

Verb disregards their wishes and emerges from the background on national television by finding a brazen way to comment on the killing of the teenager named Jarod. The resulting conflict between the men will cut to the core of their friendship in a smart and entertaining tale that showcases The Flea at its best.

Goodwin is a provocateur pursuing many ideas that arise from the central conflict of his story, and his characters are well developed. He doesn’t, however, delve into the complicated relationship between the two childhood friends, who are now rivals, and unfortunately the delightfully raucous ending comes a little too easily. Nonetheless, Goodwin makes some excellent points while posing thought-provoking questions about timely topics.

The skilled cast of three is outstanding, each powerful in different ways, and when it’s time for some musical numbers, they raise the bar and the roof. The award-winning playwright has a couple of hip-hop releases on his resume and this trio of artists know how to rise and shine.

Staged by Kristan Seemel and Niegel Smith in The Pete, the smaller of The Flea’s theaters, with the audience on four sides serves the play beautifully. Their production whizzes by to a dynamic ending, a reason to lift your hands to the sky and let your light shine. 

HYPE MAN: a break beat play runs through December 18, Thursday–Monday at 7pm, with Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets start at $15 with the lowest priced tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Pete at The Flea Theater is located at 20 Thomas Street between Church and Broadway. Purchase tickets by calling 212- 352-3101 or online at www.theflea.org.
Photography: Hunter Canning

Matt Stango

Tay Bass

Shakur Tolliver, Matt Stango,Tay Bass

Big Apple Circus

Award winning acts at Lincoln Center thru January 17.

December 1, 2018: The renowned Big Apple Circus is back in town under a big top at Lindon Center’s Damrosch Park for the Holiday Season. The 41st edition is an intimate affair featuring mind-blowing acts from all over the world that will delight and thrill children of all ages along with the perpetually young at heart. Preformed in a single ring, the circus is an up close and personal happening, where every seat is less the 50 feet from the action in a climate-controlled environment that will keep you warm and toasty regardless of the outside temperature.

Award winning acts at Lincoln Center thru January 17.

December 1, 2018: The renowned Big Apple Circus is back in town under a big top at Lindon Center’s Damrosch Park for the Holiday Season. The 41st edition is an intimate affair featuring mind-blowing acts from all over the world that will delight and thrill children of all ages along with the perpetually young at heart. Preformed in a single ring, the circus is an up close and personal happening, where every seat is less the 50 feet from the action in a climate-controlled environment that will keep you warm and toasty regardless of the outside temperature.

Stephanie Monseu breaks tradition as the first Ring Mistress of Big Apple, and Jenny Vidbel is back enchanting audiences with her stallions, white dwarf horses and charming rescue dogs. The Big Apple Circus brings together acclaimed acts from all over the world. Watch horizontal juggling for the first time in America. See award winning aerial duo Desire of Flight, the astonishing quadruple somersault on the flying trapeze, horses and dogs, clowns and acrobats and so much more at the magical Big Apple Circus, now at Lincoln Center until January 17, 2019

For more information or tickets online:  https://bigapplecircus.com/

Check out this link for a related story: 

Photos/Videos: Barry Gordin

Bruce T. Sloane with Performers at the BAC

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell in Holiday Style at the Carlyle

By: Sandi Durell

December 1, 2018:  It wouldn’t be the season to be jolly without Grammy Award winning Steve Tyrell taking his honored place for the 14th season at the historic Café Carlyle. His residency takes him from November 27 thru New Year’s Eve as he spreads the Great American Songbook mantra to his many fans from far and wide.

Steve Tyrell in Holiday Style at the Carlyle

By: Sandi Durell

December 1, 2018:  It wouldn’t be the season to be jolly without Grammy Award winning Steve Tyrell taking his honored place for the 14th season at the historic Café Carlyle. His residency takes him from November 27 thru New Year’s Eve as he spreads the Great American Songbook mantra to his many fans from far and wide.

Steve Tyrell makes it nice and easy to be loved . . . singing every classic that makes us swoon and lip sink words to his newly expanded Back to Bacharach album (“A Song for You”) along with all the tunes that spread the words shouting Great American Songbook!

When he walks on that stage singing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” you’re hooked! He’s got that come hither and join me in my living room approach, comfortable, taking us into his personal life of the young boy who, at age 19, made his way from Houston, Texas to New York to become one of music’s great producers, and luckiest guys in the world working with Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Dionne Warwick, and with B.J. Thomas on his Oscar winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” His next big leap found him in Father of the Bride I and II opening new doors that launched him as a jazz singer – “Give Me the Simple Life” and continuing, waking the astronauts in space to his recording of “Sunny Side of the Street.” Luck, hard work and lots of talent!!

The evening was a feel good, nothing complicated plethora of heart warming tunes including “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” The Look of Love,” “Night and Day” – – – and wonderful personal stories about his buddy Frank Sinatra and, of course, Burt Bacharach.

Steve Tyrell, Marilyn Maye

At my side was Marilyn Maye (another one of Steve’s fans) and he not only acknowledged her presence many, many times along with her iconic place as one of the great jazz singers of our time, but dedicated “I Want a Sunday Kind of Love” to her. A really special moment!

Backed by his amazing band of Quinn Johnson on piano and as musical director, with David Finck on bass, Bob Mann on guitar and arranger, Kevin Winard on drums, David Mann on sax and flute and Jon Allen on keyboard and vocals, it was a win-win evening of great songs, musicians and the iconic Steve Tyrell on stage!

Steve Tyrell *****
Café Carlyle
35 East 76 St. at Madison Ave, NYC
212 744-1600
Thru December 31, 2018.
Photography: David Andrako

 

Big Apple Circus

Big Apple Circus Rings In the Holiday Season at Lincoln Center with Tradition, Thrills, and Wonder

By: Ellis Nassour

November 29, 2018:  What better to ring in the holidays than with New York’s home-grown Big Apple Circus, presenting a whimsical marriage of traditional theater and classic circus under its colorful Big Top in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park? The 41st Edition, running through January 27th, presents up-close family entertainment and thrills from celebrated acts – many seen for the first time, in its intimate, climate-controlled one-ring tent, with no seat  more  than 50 feet away.

Big Apple Circus Rings In the Holiday Season at Lincoln Center with Tradition, Thrills, and Wonder

By: Ellis Nassour

November 29, 2018:  What better to ring in the holidays than with New York’s home-grown Big Apple Circus, presenting a whimsical marriage of traditional theater and classic circus under its colorful Big Top in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park? The 41st Edition, running through January 27th, presents up-close family entertainment and thrills from celebrated acts – many seen for the first time, in its intimate, climate-controlled one-ring tent, with no seat  more  than 50 feet away.

Stephanie Monseu breaks through the canvas ceiling as Big Apple’s first ringmistress. Perennial favorite Jenny Vidbel, one of the reasons to never miss the Big Apple Circus, returns to captivate audiences with her majestic and quite nosy stallions, white dwarf horses, and delight with a wild and wooly set of rescued dogs. Also returning are two super spectacular acts: the Flying Tunizianis, performing on double wide trapezes, led by Ammed Tuniziani, who last season thrilled with heart-stopping quadruple somersaults; and Desire in Flight, recipient of the Golden Clown Award at this year’s Monte Carlo Circus Festival for their dual aerial silk traps act.

The lineup also features Duo Fusion, acrobatic husband and wife team Virginia Tuells and Ihosvanys Perez offering a twist (she does the heavy lifting!); Emil Faltyn, balancing on a free-standing ladder; trampoline antics from Andréanne Quintal; and award-winning, gravity-defying juggler Victor Moiseev.

Amid the sawdust, cotton candy, hot dogs slathered with mustard and relish, and ice-cold beverages, there’ll be red-hot music from Rob Slowik’s little big band.

Outside the ring there’ll be plenty of sizzle. Audiences enter into the new Hall of Wonder with photo-opt worthy fun activities and tasty locally-sourced culinary bites. The over-21 set can enjoy cocktails from three-time American Bartender of the Year winner Pamela Wiznitzer.

Big Apple Circus continues its community outreach programs. Circus of the Senses performances, a much-lauded special event since introduced in 1997 by theater executive Anne Tramon, are December 6 and 7. CircusSense, developed by Tramon, Carl Anthony Tramon, and Lisa Lewis, showcases enhanced experiences for audiences with autism, visual and auditory challenges. The performance features ASL interpretation, assistive listening devices with audio commentary, pre- and post-show touch therapy experiences, and a Braille program.

The team has also developed Dinner in the Dark for the night of December 6, which begins with a 5 P.M. with a multi-course “dinner in the dark” in the BAC VIP lounge provided by Camjae Bistro of Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village followed by the 7 P.M. performance. Audience members will wear blindfolds, with audio descriptive headsets, in order to show what special needs participants experience. All-inclusive tickets for this special performance are $150 and available at dinnerandashowinthedark.eventbrite.com (for organizational group discounts to this event, contact LLewis@bigapplecircus.com).

BAC’s Circus for All initiative offers $10 tickets to 11 performances to underprivileged children and underserved schools. The circus also devises student lesson plans from the acts they witness firsthand.

Directing the 41st BAC edition is Mark Lonergan, artistic director of physical theater company Parallel Exit; with choreography by Grady McLeod Bowman. Costumes are by Amy Clark (Wicked, Little Mermaid, Chaplin); with scenery by Emmy-nominated Anita La Scala (Sochi Winter Olympics, opening ceremony) and Rob Bissinger (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark).

Tickets for the Big Apple Circus are $29 – $195, available at the Damrosch Park  box office and at www.Ticketmaster.com. Group discounts are available.  For morning, afternoon, and evening show times, visit www.bigapplecircus.com.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui ***1/2

By: David Sheward

November 27, 2018:  As audiences enter the Laura F. Angelson Theatre for Classic Stage Company’s revival of Bertolt Brecht’s rarely produced The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, they step into a dangerous world where murder and menace lurk in every corner. This dark kingdom of night, with eerie parallels to America in 2018 as well as Germany in the 1930s, is ruled over by a vicious brute given snarling, malevolent life by Raul Esparza in a powerhouse performance. Esparza has won acclaim in musicals like Company, Taboo, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well as dark dramas such as The Normal Heart and The Homecoming. But here he totally dominates the proceedings with such ferocity and detail, you cannot take your eyes off him.

By: David Sheward

November 27, 2018:  As audiences enter the Laura F. Angelson Theatre for Classic Stage Company’s revival of Bertolt Brecht’s rarely produced The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, they step into a dangerous world where murder and menace lurk in every corner. This dark kingdom of night, with eerie parallels to America in 2018 as well as Germany in the 1930s, is ruled over by a vicious brute given snarling, malevolent life by Raul Esparza in a powerhouse performance. Esparza has won acclaim in musicals like Company, Taboo, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well as dark dramas such as The Normal Heart and The Homecoming. But here he totally dominates the proceedings with such ferocity and detail, you cannot take your eyes off him.

Raul Esparza

Written in 1941 while he was in exile from his native Germany in Finland, Brecht’s allegorical satire recasts Adolph Hitler as a Chicago gangster ruling over the Windy City’s cauliflower trade rather than a monomaniacal dictator taking control of Europe. There are numerous allusions to Richard III as well as rattling news bulletins of Der Fuerher’s ascension to power as they parallel that of Ui (pronounced “Oooo-eee”) who commits murder, arson, blackmail, and terrorism to claw his way to power among the grocers. George Tabori’s translation combines a Hollywood version of street slang with mock Shakespeare.

Surprisingly, Ui has only has three previous major New York productions: on Broadway in 1963 starring Christopher Plummer (a flop with only eight performances) and two Off-Broadway limited engagements: in 1991 with John Turturro (also at CSC) and in 2002 with Al Pacino produced by Tony Randall’s National Actors Theater.

This is a black, fiercely funny and horrifying vision of political ruthlessness. Though the pace and plot do get rather monotonous as atrocity piles on top of atrocity. Fortunately, CSC artistic director John Doyle employs an inventive, frankly theatrical style of staging as he did in his productions of Sweeney Todd, Company and The Color Purple, and as Brecht prescribed for his plays.

Just as he transformed the CSC space into a 1940s Army barracks for his thrilling production of the musical Carmen Jones, Doyle, who also designed the production, has reconfigured the company’s intimate Off-Broadway venue into a combination union hall and supply house.  The audience becomes part of the angry mob and Ui’s kitchen cabinet of killers. The stark lighting design by Jane Cox and Tess James, much of which is accomplished by bare fluorescent tubes, makes the milieu eerie and frightening.

A cast of eight plays multiple roles with both broad comic strokes and emotional reality. Christopher Gurr captures the affronted, tarnished dignity of Dogsborough and Dullfleet, two traditional power-brokers devoured by Ui. Omoze Idehenre displays fiery fury as a pair of the dictator’s victims who dare to stand up to him. Elizabeth A. Davis, Eddie Cooper and Thom Sesma are terrifying as a trio of henchmen while George Abud and Mahira Kakkar are appropriately craven as corrupt officials.

But the center of gravity is supplied by Esparza who delivers a dynamic, horrifying performance as the villainous Arturo. He could easily have turned in a one-note howl of rage, but Esparza calibrates Ui’s villainy, shading and orchestrating his insatiable grasping for dominance. At first, he is like a sniveling rat, cowering and covered up in a shapeless dark jacket and fedora. He whines and wheedles in a nasal Brooklyn-ese, sounding like a cartoon rodent in a Warner Brothers’ cartoon. As the play progresses and Ui refines his message of terror and takes posture lessons from a broken-down classical actor (Davis in a sharply funny turn), Esparza then appears in a sleeveless black tank top, exposing muscular arms and adapting postures of intimidation. His whine becomes a roar and then a bellow as Ui transforms from tiny weasel to massive beast, beating his chest like King Kong and becoming much more frightening than the massive puppet of the current Broadway musical version of the classic film. Arturo Ui is a bold reminder of the dangers of fascism and a warning against its future recurrences.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Nov. 14—Dec. 22. Classic Stage Company at the Lynn F. Angelson Theatre, 136 E. 13th St., NYC. Tue—Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm. Running time: two hours and 10 mins. including intermission. $82—$127. (212) 677-4210. www.classicstage.org.
Photography: Joan Marcus 

King Kong

5 Reasons Why You Will Go Ape for King Kong

By: Iris Wiener

November 27, 2018:  As a whole, King Kong is a musical disaster at its finest. Groan-worthy moments are endless with a score that is as forgettable as it is nonsensical. If you can get past the atrocious book, sloppy lyrics, forgettable music and the numerous clumsy aspects of the production (just take that ensemble dancing away from Kong as he tears through New York- it’s priceless), there are some gems that make King Kong a worthwhile “experience,” albeit unconventional for a Broadway stage. Prepare to be floored by the…

 

5 Reasons Why You Will Go Ape for King Kong

By: Iris Wiener

November 27, 2018:  As a whole, King Kong is a musical disaster at its finest. Groan-worthy moments are endless with a score that is as forgettable as it is nonsensical. If you can get past the atrocious book, sloppy lyrics, forgettable music and the numerous clumsy aspects of the production (just take that ensemble dancing away from Kong as he tears through New York- it’s priceless), there are some gems that make King Kong a worthwhile “experience,” albeit unconventional for a Broadway stage. Prepare to be floored by the…

  1. Scenic and projection design. The boat ride from Depression-era New York to the unknown depths of Skull Island involves a tilted platform against a brilliant backdrop of ocean waves, a night sky, and lightning in the distance. It is so realistic that you better have Dramamine on hand for the seasickness that will ensue. Skull Island’s strobe lights, ivy-covered cave-dwellers, a shattering moonscape, giant spiderwebs…the video acting in tandem with the spectacular set pieces is ground-breaking.

2. Heart-pounding moments of anticipation. Just try not to hear your own heart beating in the thrillingly silent thirty seconds leading up to Kong’s entrance. With Ann Darrow hanging mid-air entwined in a mess of vines, Kong’s footsteps reverberating as he advances towards his “prey,” and his loud snorts intermittently shaking the air at the Broadway Theatre, it is difficult to remember that you are only taking in a show. Kong’s anger-induced chase through the jungle, his ultimate aerial demise atop the Empire State Building, and his escape from captivity are enthralling.

3. Sound design. Ever wonder what it is like to have a 20-foot gorilla breathing down the back of your shirt? Wonder no more. Though you could compare his enormity to what one would experience at the Universal Studios attraction of yesteryear, Kong’s “voice,” ie., his snorts, growls, roars, etc., are piercing and intimate to chilling effect in a Broadway theatre. When Kong is breaking through his shackles, wreaking violent havoc behind the stage curtain, the show runs the risk of being gimmicky; however, due to Peter Hylenski’s gripping sound design, King Kong is as suspenseful as it is scary.

4. King Kong and his company. The “company” is an amazing troupe of performers whose sole role in the show is to maneuver the animatronic ape. They move with stunning fluidity and acrobatics that is an unbelievable form of choreography in and of itself. Every nuance of the incredibly detailed creature, from the twitch of his nose to the slouch of his shoulders, is precisely timed and impactful, thanks to Kong/Aerial Movement Director Gavin Robins and Creature Designer Sonny Tilders, sixteen microprocessors, and their teams of artists. Kong is even extraordinary visually sans movement. His multitude of veins and muscles are exquisitely detailed on his enormous body, by far surpassing any other “puppet” audiences have seen previously. The wrinkles on his face are so intricate that they tell their own story.

5. The “I was there” factor. Whether it’s to marvel in the show’s enormity, to wax poetic on the atrocity of the music, lyrics and/or book, or to experience ground-breaking technology on the Broadway stage, being in Kong’s grasp definitely allows for fun conversations, critiquing of the highest order, and possibly even bragging rights….

King Kong

King Kong
Broadway Theatre
1681 Broadway (Between 52nd and 53rd Streets
Box Office Monday – Saturday: 10AM – 8PM
Sunday: 12PM – 6PM (Beginning November 18)
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission
Photography: Mathew Murphy

The cast of “King Kong”

Christiani Pitts, Eric William Morris

 

LongHouse Holiday Party

Guests toasted the season and rediscovered the gardens at this special time of the year.

November 25, 2018:  LONGHOUSE, 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton, hosted a festive gathering with holiday music on Thanksgiving Saturday. Guests toasted the holiday season with hot apple cider rum toddy’s, Kaluah & coffee, and hot chocolate while touring the gardens and mingling with neighbors. Many people left personal wishes on the Yoko Ono Wish Tree, near the entrance to LONGHOUSE, when they departed.

Photography: Barry Gordin

Guests toasted the season and rediscovered the gardens at this special time of the year.

November 25, 2018:  LONGHOUSE, 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton, hosted a festive gathering with holiday music on Thanksgiving Saturday. Guests toasted the holiday season with hot apple cider rum toddy’s, Kaluah & coffee, and hot chocolate while touring the gardens and mingling with neighbors. Many people left personal wishes on the Yoko Ono Wish Tree, near the entrance to LONGHOUSE, when they departed.

Photography: Barry Gordin

Jeryl & Michael Goldberg

Owain Hughes, Kimberly Goff

Sandra Powers, Rebecca Chapman (Ed.D, Senior Philanthropy Advisor)

Shannah Laumeister Stern, Patrick Christiano

Julie Keyes (JulieKeyesArt) Executive Director Hamptons DOC FEST Jacqui Lofaro

Dianne Benson, Aritst Nathan Slate Joseph

 

Janet Lehr Fine Arts

Sweet Things @ Janet Lehr
An exhibition of new works by Adam Handler and Adam Umbach.

November 25, 2018:  Janet Lehr Fine Arts, 68 Park Place in East Hampton, hosted a reception on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to celebrate an ongoing exhibition of paintings by two Adams, Handler and Umbach.  Also on view, are works by gallery favorites David Demers, Haim Mizrahi. Shimon Okshteyn, Jules Olitski, Christopher Deeton, Dave Rogers, Michael Bronspigel and, new to the gallery, Gideon Lewin – Avedon’s ‘ace’ printer for 25-years.

Sweet Things @ Janet Lehr
An exhibition of new works by Adam Handler and Adam Umbach.

November 25, 2018:  Janet Lehr Fine Arts, 68 Park Place in East Hampton, hosted a reception on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to celebrate an ongoing exhibition of paintings by two Adams, Handler and Umbach.  Also on view, are works by gallery favorites David Demers, Haim Mizrahi. Shimon Okshteyn, Jules Olitski, Christopher Deeton, Dave Rogers, Michael Bronspigel and, new to the gallery, Gideon Lewin – Avedon’s ‘ace’ printer for 25-years.

The works of Handler and Umbach reveal an evolving of their aesthetic abilities with clear expressions of their on-going maturity and creative harmonies.  Adam Handler is an artist who insists that we see the big picture. His work is purposeful and dramatic engaging the viewer with an immediate connection. Shape and color are powerful tools in his hands and reflective of his aesthetic world. There is a luxurious luster in Handler’s painting, something that pokes us. Handler has absorbed the powerful style consciousness of Willem de Kooning

Adam Umbach is a classically trained artist raised in the heartland of America. His work reflects his strong Chicago roots, and a strong sense of his Prairie consciousness. A bold, textured, surface-conscious reality unfolds, bright with color and purpose. He acknowledges the vivid modernism that is a part of everything he creates. At the same time, his classical temperament manages to reveal the hand of a gracious artist. Comfortable with detailed form and precise imagery, his roots are in the far-off renaissance. He luxuriates in the architectural influences of Gerhard Richter and his pre-occupation with the flat surfaces of his dynamic canvases.

Janet Lehr Fine Arts, 68 Park Place, is in the Starbuck’s passageway across the street from the East Hampton Cinema on Main Street. For more information call the gallery at 631.324 or online http://www.janetlehrfinearts.com/

Front Gallery

ADAM HANDLER, Sisters by the Pond, 64 x 96 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018, $16,000.

Left 1: ADAM HANDLER, St. Thomas Tulip, 32 x 24 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$2,000.
Left 2: ADAM UMBACH, Blue Bow, 48 x 36 inches, Oil, enamel, and paint pen on canvas, 2018,
$3,500.
Center: ADAM HANDLER, Espanola Tulip, 32 x 24 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$2,000.
Right 1: ADAM UMBACH, Red Ribbon, 48 x 36 inches, Oil, enamel, and paint pen on canvas, 2018,
$3,500.
Right 2: ADAM HANDLER, Rainy Day Tulip, 32 x 24 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$2,000.

Left Upper: ADAM UMBACH, Mr. Bee, 24 x 48 inches, Oil, enamel, and paint pen on canvas, 2018,
$3,000.
Left Lower: ADAM UMBACH, Garden Scene III & IV,, 36 x 12 inches, Oil, enamel, and paint pen, 2018,
$1,800 each.
Center: ADAM UMBACH, Dancing in the Night, 36 x 24 inches, Oil on panel, 2018,
$2600,
Right: ADAM HANDLER, Haviland Girl, 52 x 44 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$6, 500.

Left: ADAM HANDLER, Pink Cadillac Tulip, 32 x 24 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$2,000.
Center: ADAM UMBACH, Merry-Go-Round, 24 x 24 inches, Oil on panel, 2018,
$2,200.
Right: ADAM HANDLER, St. Thomas Tulip, 32 x 24 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$2, 000.

Left: ADAM UMBACH, Untitled (Blue Study,) 48 x 48 inches, Oil and enamel on canvas, 2018,
$5,000.
Right: ADAM UMBACH, Untitled (Yellow Study,) 48 x 48 inches, Oil and enamel on canvas, 2018,
$5,000.

TOP RAILING:
Left 1: GIDEON LEWIN, DH 1, 20 x 24 inches, Platinum print,
Edition 2 of 25, 2000,
$18, 000.
Left 2: DAVID DEMERS, Untitled, 11 x 14 inches, Acrylic, ink and watercolor, 2018,
$1,200.
Center: GIDEON LEWIN, Avedon Mask, 22 x 17.5 inches, Gelatin silver print,
Edition 5 of 24, 1978,
$18, 000.
Right 1: DAVID DEMERS, Untitled, 11 x 14 inches, Acrylic, ink and watercolor, 2018,
$1,200.
Right 2: GIDEON LEWIN, DH 2, 24 x 20 inches, Platinum print,
Edition 2 of 25, 2000,
$18, 000.
BOTTOM RAILING:
Left: DAVID ROGERS, Janice Joplin, 40 x 40 inches, Oil on canvas, 2018,
$6, 200.
Center: GIDEON LEWIN, R & B III, 20 x 24 inches, Platinum print, Edition 2 of 25, 2000,
$18, 000
Right: DAVID ROGERS, Steven Tyler, 40 x 40 inches, Oil on canvas, 2018,
$6, 200.

TOP RAILING:
Left: JULES OLITSKI, Moon Bay,, 18 x 24 inches, Pastel on Paper, 1998,
$32, 000.
Center: GIDEON LEWIN, DL 1, 24 x 20 inches, Platinum print, Edition 2 of 25, 2000,
$18, 000
Right: JULES OLITSKI, Through the Clouds, 22.5 x 30 inches, Pastel on Paper, 1997,
$35, 000.
BOTTOM RAILING:
Left: SHIMON OKSHTEYN, Weathered Handle, Archival inkjet, 16.5 x 13 inches, 2010,
$1, 000.
Center: CHRISTOPHER DEETON, #250, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 2017,
$3,200.
Right: SHIMON OKSHTEYN, Accordion Corkscrew, Archival inkjet, 16.5 x 13 inches, 2010,
$1, 000.

BACK GALLERY

ADAM HANDLER, Jaime Girl, 76 x 64 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,  $10,500.

Left: ADAM UMBACH, Steadfast, 24 x 24 inches, Oil on panel, 2018,
$1,800.
Center: ADAM UMBACH, Whitey the Goldfish, 24 x 24 inches, Oil on panel, 2018,
$1,800.
Right: ADAM HANDLER, Ghost Over Tulip Fields, 76 x 60 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$9,000.

Left: ADAM HANDLER, Sal Made Me Scream, 40 x 30 inches, Movie Posters II, collage, and acrylic, 2010, $3,500.
Center: ADAM UMBACH, Kisses, 480 x 60 inches, Oil and enamel on panel, 2017,
$4,800.
Right: ADAM HANDLER, Wild Wild Angelique, 40 x 30 inches, Movie Posters II, collage, and acrylic, 2010,
$3,500.

Left: ADAM HANDLER, Ghost Over Tulip Fields, 76 x 60 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2018,
$9,000.
Center: ADAM UMBACH, Half Moon, 24 x 24 inches, Oil on panel, 2018,
$1,800.
Right: ADAM UMBACH, Drifting, 24 x 24 inches, Oil on canvas, 2018,
$1,800.

Left: ADAM UMBACH, Hide & Seek, 48 x 60 inches, Oil and enamel on canvas, 2018,
$5,500.
Right: ADAM HANDLER, Free Bat, 50 x 56 inches, Oil stick and acrylic on canvas, 2015,
$6,500.

Adam Handler_Sara Girl_52x44in_Oil stick and acrylic on canvas

Adam Umbach_Blue Bow_48x36in_Oil, enamel, and paint pen on canvas

Hide and Seek. 48 x 60 inches. Oil and enamel on canvas. 2018

Photography: Barry Gordin 

Jeryl & Michael Goldberg

Janet Lehr, Barry Gordin

Sisters By The Pond

68 Park Place Passage, East Hampton

Hype Man Opens at The Flea

HYPE MAN: a break beat play by Idris Goodwin continues The Flea’s Color Brave season with a compelling look at race and friendship against the backdrop of hip hop.

November 21, 20018:  Idris Goodwin’s HYPE MAN: a break beat play directed by Kristan Seemel and Flea Artistic Director Niegel Smith opened at The Flea for a run through December 18 in The Pete. The story set in 2015 in an unnamed American city follows two hip hop artists, Pinnacle, played by Matt Stango and Verb, played by Shakur Tolliver, now on the threshold of success. The friends, one white and one black, were best buddies growing up together on the mean streets of the unnamed city. Verb, a young black man just out of prison, hypes the crowd and Pinnacle, a white man writes and rhymes.

HYPE MAN: a break beat play by Idris Goodwin continues The Flea’s Color Brave season with a compelling look at race and friendship against the backdrop of hip hop.

November 21, 20018:  Idris Goodwin’s HYPE MAN: a break beat play directed by Kristan Seemel and Flea Artistic Director Niegel Smith opened at The Flea for a run through December 18 in The Pete. The story set in 2015 in an unnamed American city follows two hip hop artists, Pinnacle, played by Matt Stango and Verb, played by Shakur Tolliver, now on the threshold of success. The friends, one white and one black, were best buddies growing up together on the mean streets of the unnamed city. Verb, a young black man just out of prison, hypes the crowd and Pinnacle, a white man writes and rhymes.

When the action begins, they are in a recording studio waiting for their beat maker, a mixed-race female Peep One, played by Tay Bass, who is late because of a traffic jam caused by the shooting of an unarmed black man. When Peep One finally arrives, the trio begin rehearsing for a gig on The Tonight Show, but the shooting will challenge the three in ways they could not have imagined.

The Flea’s Artistic Director, Niegel Smith says, “Idris has his finger on the pulse – taking the most popular music idiom in our culture and fusing it with a pressing social question. HYPE MAN is dangerous and entertaining and fits perfectly in concert with the rest of our season.”

Carol Ostrow (Producing Director The Flea), Director Kristan Seemel

Carol Ostrow, Producing Director of The Flea, adds, “This is a play about color brave friendships that cross racial lines and about how you reach a shared destination when you come from such different starting points.”

HYPE MAN features The Bats, the The Flea’s resident acting company, including Tay Bass, Sonja Cirillo, Justin Jorrell, Matt Stango and Shakur Tolliver. The creative team includes Anton Volovsek (Scenic Designer), Sarah Lawrence (Costume Design), Xavier Pierce (Lighting Designer), Wendell Hanes (Music Composer/Supervisor/Editor), Jabob Brasi (Assistant Director), Haley Gordon (Stage Manager) and Keenan Hurley (Sound Engineer).

Idris Goodwin is an award-winning playwright, director, orator and educator. He is the Producing Artistic Director of Stage One Family Theater in Louisville, KY for which he penned the widely produced And In This Corner: Cassius Clay. The Flea Theater, under Artistic Director Niegel Smith and Producing Director Carol Ostrow, is one of New York’s leading Off-Off-Broadway companies. Winner of several Obie Awards, a Special Drama Desk Award for outstanding achievement and an Otto Award for political theater.

HYPE MAN: a break beat play runs through December 18, Thursday–Monday at 7pm, with Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets start at $15 with the lowest priced tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Pete at The Flea Theater is located at 20 Thomas Street between Church and Broadway. Purchase tickets by calling 212- 352-3101 or online at www.theflea.org.

Photography: Barry Gordin

Shakur Tolliver, Tay Bass, Matt Stango

Carol Ostrow, Michael Graff

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