Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Now in Previews

Scarlett Johansson and Benjamin Walker will play
Maggie and Brick in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is opening on Broadway next month, it is in previews now.  There are many actors in the production who have made their name Off-Broadway.
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Benjamin Walker stars as Brick.  He made his name in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, first at the Public Theater.  Also in the cast are Debra Monk (as Big Momma), Emily Bergl (as Mae) and Michael Park (as Gooper) with extensive Off-Broadway credits.
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I won't review the show until it opens, but I can tell you even at this stage in previews, it is an excellent show.  I was blown away by Mr. Walker and Scarlett Johansson.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pan Plays with Fire


Amy Herzog’s new play, The Great God Pan – now playing at Playwrights Horizons, covers familiar ground, without being derivative at all.  The story works because of the unique viewpoint and an outstanding job by the lead, Jeremy Strong.
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Keith Nobbs and Jeremy Strong in The Great God Pan


Pan opens with Jeremy Strong, as Jamie, meeting for the first time in thirty years with a childhood friend, Frank – excellently played by Keith Nobbs as he barely controlls his angst and expectations.  Frank tells Jamie that his father abused him, and possible others, including Jamie.
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It is a familiar theme, but Ms. Herzog takes it into unexpected areas.  Jamie doesn’t remember any abuse at all; but his relationship with his girlfriend Paige, Sarah Goldberg in a fine turn, is strained.  Just like when someone reads the symptoms of a disease on WebMD and then sees the symptoms in themselves, Jamie questions himself with the possibility of past abuse.  Are the problems in the relationship due to abuse or his own personality?
Jeremy Strong & Sarah Goldberg
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Jamie's parents, played Becky Ann Baker and Peter Friedman, are even less helpful.  After Jamie’s mother stonewalls him, his father shares some troubling information.  Nothing traumatic, just details that show Jamie that his parents are like anyone else, not perfect and occasionally selfish.
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The Great God Pan works on an interesting level, did events happen in the past?  If so, do they still effect how we interact on a daily basis?  And is it reality or an excuse - or perhaps both?  The play works so well because the questions poised are meaningful.  A subtle touch by director Carolyn Cantor and an amazing turn by Jeremy Strong only increase the emotional impact.
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Kudos must also go out to Mark Wendland, whose scenic design had me questioning choices at first, but ultimately enhanced the theme of the show.  Go see this play; it tackles real life with a light touch without diminishing a person’s experience.
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The Great God Pan
Playwright: Amy Herzog
Director: Carolyn Cantor
Cast: Jeremy Strong, Becky Ann Backer, Peter Friedman, Sarah Goldber, Keith Nobbs, Joyce Van Patten, Erin Wilhelmi

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review of Gloss in Minneapolis

So my nephew Sean is in a band, "Gloss."  There is a great review of them below courtsey of We Heart Music)
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We Heart Music (W M - LINK) has a review of their set in at BNLXFest.  I am copying it here - and it includes a link to where you can get the song.  It's a great review.
Gloss (with my nephew in the front right)
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Gloss at Cause Spirits and Soundbar (11/17/12)

If you guy's haven't noticed, I am really fond of Gloss. And if you were at the 2nd day of BNLXFest, you were privy to why that is. 

The five-piece Gloss definitely carries all the wonderful energy of every great shoegaze and dream-pop band from past years. As the crowd packed into the cozy little venue they started with some brand new instrumental material. The instrumental was a hit, Jordan on the drums was killing it. The crowd was grooving and they cheered graciously as the song finished. Gloss definitely has that early Cure influence, but you can tell that Jeff and crew are big fans of DIIV, Wild Nothing, MBV and Sonic Youth, to name a few. 

Their set was as equally as venue-shaking as any of those bands, and as beautiful as the most crypticRobert Smith lyric. Most of the material were new debut’s, some untitled. The band told me that the two tracks after the instrumental were just titled “80’s Cheese” for now. The next two tracks sounded as if members of The Cure had enlisted a young Morrissey to douse his pained vocals with reverb. The brand new track after all the 80’s cheese is called “Jan’s Dream.” And it made their set flow beautifully. They ended it with a solid take on their single, “Front Porch.” 

These guys definitely rocked it out and impressed the crowd. Very loud cheers and applause were given for a band who help start the night out great. The word is that these fellows might be releasing something physical soon, via small Minnesota based indie label;manic pop! records. Stayed tuned, but for now check out the hypnotizing single, “Front Porch” on their Bandcamp. And catch them at the Kitty Kat Club Dec. 3rd with Carroll, Wild Cathedral, and Strange Relations. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Robin Byrd Show LIVE at the Cutting Room

Cable TV Legend Hosts Weekly Live Adult Variety Show
THE ROBIN BYRD SHOW LIVE!
Saturdays beginning Dec. 1 at The Cutting Room

Cable television legend Robin Byrd brings her bawdy program to life every Saturday night with THE ROBIN BYRD SHOW LIVE! Performances begin Saturday, Dec. 1 at The Cutting Room, Manhattan's newest venue.  For the first time, Robin Byrd will host strippers, burlesque dancers, comedians, musicians, celebrities, novelty acts and other sexy performers live onstage in

The Robin Byrd Show began on Manhattan Cable in 1977, and has played continuously since then.  The congenial host quickly became known for mixing x-rated strip shows and porn star interviews with motherly concern for her guests and her audience, frequently reminding late-night viewers to brush their teeth before bed. THE ROBIN BYRD SHOW LIVE! follows a similar format, but adds in a plethora of talented and unique live performers to create a sexy live adult variety show. “Generations of New Yorkers grew up with me and the girls and boys who appeared on The Robin Byrd Show,” says Byrd.  “But I never had a studio audience for the TV show.  For the first time, everyone can come down to The Cutting Room and experience  THE ROBIN BYRD SHOW LIVE!  It will be like you remember watching when you were in high school – with a few new twists and even more gorgeous dancers than we could fit in one TV show!”

In addition to her cable TV show, Robin Byrd is best known as one of the stars of the porn classic 'Debbie Does Dallas.' Robin Byrd was adopted and raised in New York City; she has been searching but has never been able to identify her birth parents. After taking classes in marketing and advertising at Baruch College and School of Visual Arts, her adult entertainment career was launched when she was a finalist in the 'Ms All Bare America' contest. She went on to make numerous adult films in the late 70's and early 80's. After guest-hosting on a leased access cable show called 'Hot Legs', she changed the name to 'The Robin Byrd Show' in 1977. The show has aired continuously since. Each episode features Byrd in her trademark black crochet bikini and white fingernail polish, on a set with a large, heart-shaped neon sign that bears the name of the show. In addition to adult film stars, the show featured guest appearances from celebrities including Sandra Bernhard, Mark Kostabi and Michael Musto, among others. She has appeared in Hollywood movies (Life With Mikey starring Michael J. Fox), on stage (The Donkey Show) and on the small screen (VH1's I Love The 80's). The Robin Byrd show was parodied on Saturday Night Live' in a series of skits airing in 1997 and 1998 with Byrd being played by Cheri Oteri.

THE ROBIN BYRD SHOW LIVE! takes place Saturdays at 10 PM beginning December 1 at The Cutting Room, 44 East 32 Street (between Park and Madison -- accessible from the #6 train at 33rd Street).  Tickets are $20, with a $15 per person food/beverage minimum. For more information, visit www.SpinCycleNYC.com.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Funny and Touching Love Song


The Seeing Place Theater is exploring “Fantasy vs Reality: The Games Our Minds Play” this season, and they have opened with a wonderful show, Love Song by John Kolvenbach.  Despite the overarching theme of the season, Love Song is rooted very much in the reality of emotions and humanity.
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The show is a relatively straightforward look at the life of Bean, played by Brandon Walker.  Bean is a depressed young man, sleepwalking through the daily grind.  He is minimalist to an absurd degree, as noted by the woman who attempts to rob him only to find a nearly empty apartment.
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Bean’s sister Joan is, in many ways, the emotional opposite of Bean.  Joan, well played by Marnie Klar, is a detail oriented, hyper organized, over excitable businessperson.  She rules the office with an iron fist and a short temper.  Her husband Harry, played calmly by Jason Wilson, seems to manage her by passivity - letting her anxiety and control blow up and then dissipate naturally.  Joan and Harry are  only people Bean interacts with, but even with them Bean seems oddly removed from conversations he is part of.
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Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican in Love Song
Enter Molly, played by Erin Cronican, a burglar with an attitude.  Bean arrives home to find Molly waiting for him in his nearly empty apartment.  She questions Bean directly on the way he lives, and his answers surprise them both.  Molly leaves with his pitiful possessions, but is later drawn back to his apartment.  Forced to open up, Bean grows infatuated and excited by Molly.  Bean’s outlook changes as he begins to experience life instead of merely existing.
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Bean’s enthusiasm motivates Joan to reexamine her choices, for the better.  Harry and Joan are infected by Bean’s newfound zest for life.  But complications arise when Joan and Harry try to meet Molly.
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Love Song is a wonderful show, but it starts off a little shaky.   Bean and Joan are defined too broadly as damaged before settling into believability.
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Early on, Brandon Walker’s Bean vacillates between being withdrawn and passive to angry and aggressive in his apartment.  Bean’s sudden enjoyment of life is a little too manic.  It is a frustrating because once the characterization settles in Bean’s transformation delivers a beautiful payoff.   On a side note, the sets by Joe Arnow work excellently to help define Bean’s neuroses.  Mr. Walker silent interactions with the sets and lights convey the fragility of Bean.
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Marnie Klar and Jason Wilson exploring freedom in Love Song

Marnie Klar’s Joan is well played, but also over written at the start of the show.  The character starts as excessively Type-A personality.  Joan’s journey would be more believable if frazzled frustration showed through instead of manic intensity.  It is a choice of the playwright that Ms. Klar almost makes work.  Once Joan’s foundation shifts a little, Ms. Klar is excellent in delivering a nuanced performance.
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Ms. Cronican’s character Molly benefits from lovely writing, and she gives a nicely restrained performance.  A burglar that stirs emotion in wounded psyche, and then responds to it, is a tough act to render believably.
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Love Song is sweet and funny, as well as a fascinating look at the power of emotion.  So much of the story and acting is great, that the occasional odd choices are frustrating.  Once the story starts to move, the play flows beautifully.
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Love Song is being presented through December 9th at a low price of $12.00.
Love Song
Playwright: John Kolvenbach
Director: Erin Cronican
Cast: Erin Cronican, Marnie Klar, Javan Nelson, Brandon Walker, Jason Wilson

Monday, November 19, 2012

Upcoming: Alice Ripley at the Cutting Room


ALICE RIPLEY
Monday, December 10:
The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street at Park Ave.
The Tony Award winning star of Broadway's Next to Normal and Side Show performs an intimate live concert. 7:30pm. Tix: $25 at 
866-811-4111or click HERE.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Interesting Arts Benefit for MIX: The New York Queer Experimental Film Festival


 SNAP!



November 24 - December 2:
on eBay
Get ready for the SNAP! Celebrity Camera Auction.  Disposable cameras were distributed to celebrities for them to photograph anything they want.  The cameras are signed, and the winners of the auction get to develop and keep the photos!  Lots of cool celebrities took part, includingJane Wiedlin, Alan Cumming, Amanda Palmer, Augusten Burroughs, Big AngMink Stole, Michael Lucas, John Cameron Mitchell and
 more. Check out the list HERE.  This auction benefits MIX: The New York Queer Experimental Film Festival.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TURKEY serves up Holiday Humor


A visit to the New York Holiday House (website) is a fun trip through a kaleidoscope of designers in an East Side Townhouse.  Topping off the experience, is a brand new one-act play, Turkey by Ben Holbrook, presented by the Fundamental Theater Project (website).
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Turkey takes light-hearted look at family dynamics during the holidays, when forced proximity cannot be avoided. Spencer Aste portrays Jefferson, a petulant adult who refuses to play nice during a holiday dinner with his extended family.  Jefferson just lost an election where no one in the family supported his campaign, so he has decided to ignore their company.  He avoids dinner by hiding out in the parlor with cater-waiter Ted, Sam Underwood.  The two entertain themselves through drinks, jokes and magic - until interrupted by Sebastian, Jefferson’s brother.
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Nicola Murphy as Dotty and Sam Underwood as Ted in Turkey at New York Holiday House

Garth Kravits plays Sebastian, a younger brother who sometimes scolds Jefferson for missing the family dinner and other times tries to join him in hiding out.  It falls to serious niece Dotty, Nicola Murphy, to bring these two men back into the family fold.
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Turkey works smoothly on the superficial level of quick witted banter and suggestive innuendo.  The cast is on form with insults, jokes, retorts and flirtation delivered quickly and believably.  Making the dialog works requires a sense of spontaneity, and the author is well served by this cast.  
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But the real joy of Turkey is watching how easily adults can fall back into childish roles at holiday time.  With no one to break them out of it, Jefferson and Sebastian act out their old roles as co-conspirators and rivals with young Ted as their audience.  It falls to Dotty to remind them of their duty to the family, a role she seems destined to do for innumerable family gatherings in the future.
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Turkey works particularly well in the chaotic design of the Holiday House, where it seems normal to be eavesdropping on how the rich and silly live.
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Turkey
Holiday House New York (See Fundamental Theater Projectwebsite for dates)
Playwright: Ben Holbrook
Director: Sam Underwood
Cast: Spencer Aste, Garth Kravits, Nicola Murphy, Sam Underwood
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Holiday House New York proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Upcoming: The Skivvies


THE SKIVVIES
Monday, November 19:
The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street at Park Ave.
The "next big thing" is here! THE SKIVVIES serve up guilty pleasure pop, stripped down to the abs. Join Lauren Molina (Marry Me a Little, Rock of Ages, Sweeney Todd) and Nick Cearley (Altar Boyz, All Shook Up) as they perform stripped down versions of pop hits -- in their undies!  They're joined by boxer-clad and lingerie loving special guests from Broadway and beyond including Tony Award Winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy), Wesley Taylor (The Addams Family), Emily Bergl (Southland, Desperate Housewives), Adam Kantor (Avenue Q, Rent), Mitchell Jarvis (Rock of Ages), and Joseph Morales (In The Heights). Tonight will also serve as a launch party for their debut single "Hardbody Hoedown."  Check out their take on Robyn here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqydJRkt7eg.  7:30pm. Tix: $18 at
 866-811-4111 or click HERE.
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I reviewed the amazing Ms. Molina here (LINK).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wild Man in Rome opens


Performances for two-time Obie Award-winning actor/director/playwright Matthew Maguire’s new solo show, Wild Man in Rome, begin tonight at The Wild Project (195 E. 3rd Street). Wild Man in Rome will run for a strictly limited two-week engagement through November 24. Wild Man in Rome is a follow-up to Maguire’s smash hit solo show, Wild Man, which premiered at The Wild Project in 2010.

Following its run at The Wild Project, Wild Man in Rome will play Los Angeles’s Son of Semele Ensemble, beginning November 29.
In his hit solo show Wild Man, Mr. Maguire grappled with mortality as he explored the wildest moments of his life.  He told true stories of runaway horses, smuggling watermelons, and cheatin’ death.  Following Wild Man’s strong critical and audience response in New York and Los Angeles, Mr. Maguire has created this all new play with fresh stories collected in Rome over four years.  Whereas Wild Man was entirely autobiographical,Wild Man in Rome will weave fact with fable. Wild Man in Rome asks: Where is our wild side and how can we unleash it?
Written and performed by Mr. MaguireWild Man in Rome features direction by Elizabeth Margid and lighting design by Chad McArver.
The performance schedule is as follows: November 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 23 and 24. All performances are at 8:00 P.M. Tickets are priced at $18 ($13with valid student I.D.) and are available through OvationTix at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/917415 or by calling (212) 352-3101.

CONEY at the New Ohio adds a Sunday Show

CONEY at the New Ohio adds performance!

Due to popular ticket demand, Blue Coyote Theater Group announces that David Johnston's CONEY will have an additional performance on Sunday, November 18 at 2PM, which will now be its final performance. The remaining performance schedule for CONEY is Wednesday – Saturday at 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM.

With cold weather and the threat of gentrification looming, a group of Coney Island die-hards take to the boardwalk for one last summer fling. A panoramic tribute to, as one character puts it, a world that is “all going away," CONEY presents a diverse cast of twelve characters spanning in age from 13 to 73, including carnival barkers and freakshow stars eking out a living; working class friends looking back at a lifetime of courtships on the boardwalk; and a young couple with an obsession for the film The Warriors on a touching first date.  Between the Sideshows at the Sea Shore, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan’s Hot Dogs and Shoot the Freak, dreams are conjured and hopes are dashed in acclaimed playwright David Johnston's love letter to America’s original national playground.

Performances are at The New Ohio (the Archive Building at 154 Christopher Street, between Greenwich Street and Washington Street in the West Village). Tickets are $25 and are available by calling SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or online at www.smarttix.com. For more information, visit www.bluecoyote.org. ###

Monday, November 12, 2012

Job Returns to the Flea in January

Job (reviewed here) is returning to the Flea for a run from January 4th - 28th.
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JOB runs January 4 - 28, 2013, performance schedule varies. The Flea is located at 41 White Street between Church and Broadway, three blocks south of Canal, close to the A/C/E, N/R/Q, 6, J/M/Z and 1 subway lines. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 212-352-3101 or online at www.theflea.org.