Shakespeare & Elizabeth I: The Reality Show
By: Patrick Christiano
Queen Phoebe Legere is now holding court at the Theater for the New City in the World Premiere production of her delightfully zany new musical parody, SHAKESPEARE & ELIZABETH I: The Reality Show, presented by Crystal Field for a limited run through December 15. The multi talented Phoebe Legere is a renowned singer, author, composer, and multi format artist that has performed all over the world,and she also, just happens to be a cult icon in the East Village, where she has reigned supreme for over two decades playing in venues great and small all over the tri-state area and the Hamptons.
A soprano with a five octave range, Queen Phoebe, plays both piano and accordion like nothing you have ever witnessed before, she sings as well and is a radiant presence with all her gifts on dazzling display in her outrageous new show.
Played straight for the broad humor SHAKESPEARE & ELIZABETH I: The Reality Show is a campy farce akin to the Theatre of the Ridiculous that is more a Performance Art Piece than a play. There are a dozen songs and eight actors play several parts with cross gender casting that makes a conscious effort to present insightfully disturbing and witty social commentary.
Conceived by Legere as a showcase for Queen Phoebe, whose smart feminist brashness has been compared to Mae West, the evening is a laugh out loud riot with 16 characters (played by seven actors) all paying homage to Queen Phoebe, first as Queen Elizabeth I, and later as Mary Queen of Scots. Legere imagines the virgin queen and her circle of friends were the secret authors of the Bard’s plays. The device allows Queen Phoebe to make tongue in cheek commentary on politics and art that often rings true. The evening, however, is a naughty feminist sex romp with Queen Phoebe front and center supported by her outstanding court that includes, Rhys Tivey, Crystal Field, Sarah Harper, Michael Laporta, William Niederkorn, and David Zen Mansley, who also doubles as the show’s director.
Feeling a little naughty, I suggest you make a trip downtown, to see Queen Phoebe Legere and revel in the glowing spirits of everyone involved. My companion Barry Gordin left singing one of the musical’s best songs "You’re Awesome," and he hasn’t stopped yet. The evening with book, music, & lyrics by Ms Legere has outstanding costumes by Jennifer Anderson and features a tremendously funny performance by Crystal Field, the Grand Dame of the Theater for the New City, as Bloody Queen Mary Tudor that is channeled direct from the Theatre of the Ridiculous.
Bottom Line: A delightfully zany send up that pays homage to theTheatre of the Ridiculous, played with broad humor to the audience, as an inventive debate with each chacater making his respective points, but the deck may be stacked.
SHAKESPEARE & ELIZABETH I: The Realtiy Show is now playing at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue between 9th & 10th Streets. For tickets call 212-254-1109 or theaterforthenewcity.net
Photography: Barry Gordin Check Out Photos