Review: The Extraordinary Fall of the Four-Legged Woman by Lily Ali-Oshatz

Capture“Freaks raised to nobility” sings M the Ringmaster. It’s the timeless tale of boy meets four-legged girl. However, who’s the freak?  Fans of Side Show and American Horror Story: Freak Show will love this a cappella musical. Based on the true story of Myrtle Corbin, played by Madeline Bugeau-Heartt, the musical is about a woman who was born a dipygus and has created a normal life within her circus family. Clinton Bicknell, played by Justy Kosek, is a magician who sees her act and falls in love. Corbin is torn between the only family she knows and the unknown represented by the young lover who is courting her.

Directed by Madeline Wall, the talented ensemble cast of six tell this simple story on a mostly bare stage.  A string of lights represent the circus tent and a handful of props are used to navigate scene changes and new locations. Running at 45 minutes, the show fits perfectly into the Frigid Festival’s schedule.  There are 4 performances left so definitely catch this unique and experimental piece of art.

The Kraine Theatre

85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003

Feb. 20th     6:40pm

Feb. 22nd    8:50pm

Feb. 27th     1:40pm

Mar. 2nd      8:50pm

extraordinary.fall@gmail.com

Visit http://www.extraordinaryfall.com/ for more info.

Guest Blogger Nick Radu’s Review of The Tower

  
AntiMatter Collective put on a truly interesting evening of theater entertainment as part of the SubletSeries@HERE with their production of The Tower. The audience was brought into the space and collectively told about the tour they would be embarking on. The backdrop opened onto an entire set in which audience members could roam. There was the cut-away of a log cabin, a picnic table, camp sites with chairs and even debris on the ground to demarcate that we were clearly in the woods. Trees aligned the walls and the sounds of birds and crickets could be heard.
As the tour commenced we were transported back to 1846 as we watched the Donners, the Reeds and other families live out their lives as they traveled west to California; or got caught in a violent snowstorm doing so.This beautiful ensemble cast was a pleasure to watch as they acted out the lives of these ill-fated travelers. One group stayed to weather out the storm, while another party went off in search of help and supplies. The amazing movement sequences, whether in unison or jumbled around, brought such a great understanding of the monotony of the world they lived in.

Projections for snowfall and video for certain scenes also enhanced the experience. However, certain media and other props and effects, such as an electric iron and grille and a seventies disco nightmare dance, pulled us away from the feel of the tough wilderness we had become accustomed to enduring with the characters. It isn’t subtitled The Psychedelic Tragedy of the Donner Party for nothing. That said, I do enjoy a good dance sequence, and these things helped to lighten the heaviness of the show and it’s gruesome topic.

Philip Gates did an excellent job directing this crazy piece of art. Kudos, again, to the wonderful cast for their commitment and talent. Other than standing for the majority of the two hours, as we moved out of the actors’ way and followed the action of the two stories, this was a very enjoyable evening out. Except for maybe those who got eaten.

   

    

Guest Blogger: Nick Radu Reviews Who’ll Save the Plowboy?

Jerry Rago as Albert Cobb and Julie Hays as Helen Cobb (Photos courtesy of Hershey Miller)
Jerry Rago as Albert Cobb and Julie Hays as Helen Cobb (Photos courtesy of Hershey Miller)

Who’ll Save the Plowboy? brings us into the small New York apartment of husband and wife, Albert and Helen Cobb, played by Jerry Rago and Julie Hays, respectively.  It is clear at the top of the show that the two have a very strained relationship, to say the least.  They are awaiting the arrival of Albert’s old friend and WWII buddy, Larry Doyle, played by Robert Haufrecht.  Larry saved Albert’s life during the war, and after losing touch for some time, is in town and on his way to visit his old friend.

Bradley Wherle’s set is comprised of a bare-bones, non-descript apartment with a few walls, entrances, a couple pieces of furniture and a window ingeniously placed into the grooves of the small Davenport Theater.  Even the creative picture frames, painted blue like the wall, give us no hint to the kind of life these two lead.

Rago and Cobb don’t disappoint in showing us the hard life they have together during the time before Haufrecht’s entrance, after which we get to see some beautiful moments.  Rago and Haufrecht have some great banter, and even greater timing, as they discuss (or try not to discuss) the subject of the Cobb’s son, Larry, Jr.  Haufrecht is a pleasure to watch as you see the layers of emotion in his eyes after being asked about his wife, Veronica.

Tom Ashton gives us a nice taste of a couple characters, while Alex Vamvonkakis pulls off the boy next door.

But it is Spring Condoyan, playing Mrs. Doyle (Larry’s mother), who steals the show.  Her slow, deliberate delivery made her a pleasure to watch.  She had many wonderful moments, but the look she gave Helen right before her exit spoke a thousand words.  Her subtext and subtlety left us begging for more.

While I share a birthday with the late Frank D. Gilroy (October 13th), I feel the play is dated, repetitive and heavy.  Hays gave a lovely performance, but unfortunately her character had no redeeming qualities, just one of the downfalls of the misogynistic writing she fell prey to.

Director Marcia Haufrecht and her cast do a wonderful job of leaving us with the question: Have our actions, no matter how good the intention, left the world a better place?

VENUE
The Davenport Theatre Black Box
at 354 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

Wednesday, November 11 at 8pm
Thursday, November 12 at 8pm
Friday, November 13 at 8pm
Saturday, November 14 at 8pm
Sunday, November 15 at 3pm (matinee)
Wednesday, November 18 at 8pm
Thursday, November 19 at 8pm
Friday, November 20 at 8pm
Saturday, November 21 at 8pm (closing)

BUY TICKETS
Click here or call 1-800-838-3006.

Review: Comes a Faery by James McLindon

CaptureA young girl escapes into a world of imagination when her mother is deployed overseas. As time passes between video chats and calls, Siobhan regresses into the book her mother gifts her. The Faerie, Seaneen, jumps from the pages of the book, becoming both friend and foe to Siobhan. We observe the progression of her psychosis as well as the yearning of her leprechaun to reach his personal goal. Seaneen plays on the Siobhan’s deepest fears and tricks her into doing awful deeds so her mother will  return home.

Shaun Peknic directs this emotionally charged piece against a simple yet creative set – a large book symbolizing the bedroom and the downstage area as the living room and office. One of the lines of the play that stood out for me relates to art being a game changer. A game changer to me can mean many things. In the case of this play, I believe that seamless weaving of reality and folklore through the beautiful storytelling of this ensemble cast is a game changer.

Comes A Faery runs until October 24th.

New Ohio Theatre at154 Christopher Street, Suite 1E

Wednesday October 21 at 8PM
Friday October 23 at 8PM
Saturday October 24 at 8PM

Click HERE for more info.

Review: It’s A-Scary! The Gray Man and The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains

The Gray Man Promo Photo credit Suzi SadlerI officially kicked off my new theatre season, Halloween. T’is the season to get all creepy with these two amazingly well-written and contrasting plays.

I was super excited to finally see a Pipeline production as I’ve been following them for years. And they didn’t disappoint. Andrew Farmer’s The Gray Man tells a story of a bogeyman, a ghost or a figment of someone’s imagination. Set in the round, Andrew Neisler directs this emotionally disturbing piece by employing a sensory experience that sufficiently creeped out the audience. The use of disembodied voices and movement in darkness traps us in the story. We are not sure where to look or just keep our eyes shut and listen as if being told a nightmarish bedtime  story.  The creative team and stellar ensemble supported the narrative and each other as they weaved in and out of scenes. And nothing is scarier than a little girl in a scary story because nothing good usually comes out of it. I loved the use of the theatre space as well as varying levels. The one set piece at the middle of the space brilliantly represented the interior of a home. However, there were many moments when actors were out of sight or the set couldn’t be totally seen due to being stable for the whole show.

pumpkin_V2_300_123On the other end of the spectrum, is The Pumpkin Pie Show – Labor Pains which features five short stories told through absurd and fantastically comedic monologues. Clay McLeod Chapman, storyteller, is soon to be a daddy (true story) and shares the woes and fears and neuroses of being a parent. What if you are not the baby daddy? What happens if the oracular predictions your baby is making suddenly stop? Who is that random lady at the playground? Is that baby a terrorist? And what would a Mama Bird do for her baby chick? The fast-paced, quick witted, litany of words and emotions coming at the audience from Chapman and Cheek skyrocketed the audience to another dimension – a bizarro world – which is essentially parenthood.

Two fantastic shows. Be sure to get to a performance. My suggestion is to see both show back-to-back knowing you’ll need another hour to find your footing in reality.

See you at the show!

The Gray Man presented by Pipeline Theatre Company

Walker Space (46 Walker Street between Broadway and Church Street)

September 24-October 18,

Wednesday through Sunday at 8pm with additional performances on Saturday at 5pm and Tuesday, October 13 at 8pm.

Featuring Tahlia Ellie, Daniel Johnsen, Katharine Lorraine, Claire Rothrock, and Shane Zeigler. The production will include Lighting Design by Christopher Bowser, Costume Design by Daniel Dabdoub, and Scenic Design by Andy Yanni with an original score by Composers Mike Brun and Chris Ryan. Produced by Natalie Gershtein with Production Manager Joshua Shain and Stage Manager Kristy Bodall.

Visit www.pipelinetheatre.org for more info.

The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains, presented by FRIGID New York @ Horse Trade 

UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)

September 24-October 10, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm

Featuring Hanna Cheek and Clay McLeod Chapman.

Visit http://claymcleodchapman.com/performances/the-pumpkin-pie-show for more info.

Review: Mend the Envelope by Jason Lasky

unnamedSometimes one can get so lost in dreams that reality is almost another realm. Jason Lasky’s Mend the Envelope tells the harrowing story of a married couple broken by events of a single poor decision. Questions of faith and purpose are told under the careful direction of Cihangir “G.” Duman. Set on a almost bare stage with set pieces strategically placed, Henry and Joanie Davis’ relationship unfolds before the audience. Played by  Andy Phillips and Brittany Belinski, the actors honestly share glimmers of a once successful and exciting life abroad to their current mundane and shattered life in upstate New York.  Fern Lim’s lighting and sound design flawlessly shifted us to dreamscape and added a another layer to the one act. I would love to read the next scene of this one act to find out where the Davises go in their relationship.

Mend the Envelope is playing as part of the Thespis Festival for two more performances.

Tuesday, September 22nd at 6:15 PM;
September 26 at 3:30 PM

Hudson Guild Theatre

441 W. 26th Street

Click HERE for more info.

Review: Olivia’s Roses by Joanne de Simone

“The war to end all wars.”

12033186_1488258154808000_5926881307510641709_nThree brothers. Three wounds. The woman in the middle of it all. I am already committed to the story. Joanne de Simone’s Olivia’s Roses is a story that reveals the pathology of a family. Set at the end of World War II, three brothers return home: one with a bride, one with physical and emotional wounds, and the other filled with dreams.

Dennis Gleason directs this captivating cast on a simple set perfect for this complicated story. A story intertwined with love, deceit and confusion. The strong ensemble is absolutely riveting to watch on stage.  It’s always a good sign when the audience applauses at the end of each scene. Led and brilliantly played by Brad Brockman (CADE), he is brooding, flawed, and absolutely riveting to watch on stage. Kalen J. Hall’s (JUDE)  transitions within his character is breathtaking to watch. Byron Hagan (LUKE) is the romantic, artistic and sensitive dreamer who makes you want him to be happy. Ashley V. Harris (OLIVIA) flawlessly juggles her relationships with each son. I appreciated her complexities and her honesty in her performance. Greg Schuh (Rev. Holden) is the pragmatist who knows way too much and maybe doesn’t play too close to the vest.  Rounding out this cast is Amy Losi (Martha), the matriarch is who is shrouded in secrets.

Olivia’s Roses is playing as part of the Thespis Festival. There are two more performances so be sure to take a friend so you can squeeze their knees during some revealing moments.

Friday September 18 at 9 pm;
Sunday September 20 at 3 pm

Hudson Guild Theatre

441 W. 26th Street

Click HERE for more info.

Guest Blogger: Ian McDonald Travels the World with Jasmine Pittenger

unnamedIn My Ass (In The World) Jasmine Pittenger explores our cultural biases about body image through the lens of an international traveler, journeying to exotic, far-away lands where those biases are not only upended, but completely thrown away.  This is juxtaposed with the backdrop of violence in war-torn regions around the world, forcing us to ask ourselves “is the violence in the world the same as the violence we inflict upon our own bodies in order to fit some unattainable ideal?”

Performing as a cast of characters from around the world, Ms. Pittenger bares her soul in some wonderfully, and sometimes brutally, honest moments. From the wonder and adoration of Senegalese tribeswomen, to the predations of well-to-do South American teens, culminating in the dangers of being blonde and full-figured on the back streets of Afghanistan, Jasmine pulls no punches as she weaves her story supported by simple but elegant projections on the set behind her.

Coming in at just under 60 minutes the piece feels a bit short, as if there is more to this story that needs to be told and we are only hearing the beginning. That said, My Ass is a delightful hour of theatre and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a craving for kofta kebabs after seeing it.

Performance Schedule:

SUN 8/16 @ 8:00 – 9:00 – SOLD OUT
THU 8/20 @ 2:00 – 3:00
SUN 8/23 @ 6:00 – 7:00
THU 8/27 @ 9:00 – 10:00
FRI 8/28 @ 4:30 – 5:30
Venue #04: Spectrum at 121 Ludlow, Second Floor, NYC
For more information, visit http://www.myassintheworld.com.

Guest Blogger: Ian McDonald on Felicity Seidel Being a “Lucky Chick”

a38d952f-8684-4138-a374-6e5a42fb4a5dFrom the get go, Felicity Seidel’s Lucky Chick entranced me completely.  The show opens with a fairytale style cartoon that tells the story of a young girl trapped in her circumstances that escapes to join a wild carnival of color and joy.  That carnival parallels the audience experience as Felicity takes the stage and, through a series of vignettes and a motley cast of characters, leads us through a journey of awakening, questionable life choices, crime, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, culminating with her own redemption and acceptance of her inner peace deep in the wilds of Wyoming.

Ms. Seidel’s easy-going style and personality shine as she pulls the audience into the story, seamlessly slipping from one character to the next.  Particularly challenging is the sequence in Wyoming where she plays no fewer than five distinct characters apart from her own, without once betraying them as caricatures.  Each one had a distinct style, speech pattern, and posture, being so fully formed that I could almost smell the hay, whisky and perspiration on one and the engine grease, manure, and aqua velva on another.  My only issue with the show is that running at a brisk 60 minutes, likely a symptom of being in a festival, I was left wanting more of the story. I could easily have sat for another 30 to see the circumstances that brought the vibrant talent of Ms. Seidel out of the danger-seeking, wild child runaway that  began this odyssey.  Running in The White Box on Lafayette Street, Lucky Chick is a delightfully twisted way to spend an evening in The Village.

Performance Schedule:
FRI 8/14 @ 7:00 PM – SOLD OUT
MON 8/17 @ 9:30 PM – SOLD OUT
FRI 8/21 @ 3:15 PM
SAT 8/22 @ 5:15 PM
THU 8/27 @ 3:00 PM
Running Time: 60 minutes

VENUE #14: The White Box at 440 Studios
440 Lafayette St • 3rd Floor
(Astor Place & East 4th Street)

For more information, visit http://www.luckychick.nyc/.

Guest Blogger: Nick Radu Reviews Rise of the Usher by Jessica Elkin

Victoria Medina, Production Photographer
Victoria Medina, Production Photographer

Every business has its cast of characters and Rise of the Usher gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the front of the house at a Broadway theater. Jessica Elkin doesn’t waste any time delving into those characters as she jumps right into the action. Accents, mannerisms and voice changes abound as she carefully and playfully jumps from one eccentric usher to the house manager to another usher to an ex-con ticket-taker and back again until you get a sense of who’s who in her zany romp to the top of the usher totem pole. It was a pleasure watching a fellow Ohioan up on a New York stage enjoying her craft. Mary Catherine Donnelly’s direction gave way to a fun and quirky night of theater as Jessica, who also wrote the piece, found a job, a purpose and even love on her journey. Many ushers will no doubt be able to relate to the antics that are being portrayed in front of them. But whether you’re an usher, an actor, an avid theater-goer or just someone who likes to laugh, catch Jessica Elkin’s performance in the 16th Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival before the lights go down, the curtain comes up and an usher keeps YOU from getting a seat!

Performance Dates:
Sat 7/18 at 3:00pm
Thurs 7/23 at 6:30pm
Sun 7/26 at 4:00pm

Danielle Gautier, Executive Producer
Joanne Pan, Stage Manager/Board Op
David Goldstein, Lighting Designer
Malini Singh McDonald, Marketing Director/Publicist

Nick is an actor/writer/director/producer from Canton, OH. He is currently a founding board member of Non Disposable Productions and a member of Theatre Beyond Broadway. Nick has worked on TV pilots, film productions and numerous theater projects in NYC. Favorite acting credits include Tony Wendice, “Dial ‘M’ for Murder,” Cain/Japeth, “Children of Eden,” Philip, “The Lion in Winter,” and Oscar Lindquist, “Sweet Charity.” Nick is currently writing a musical, “Lonely Moon” as well as a novel, “3225.” Nick loves collaborating with other artists and looks forward to creating exceptional art and connection.