With the Cherry Lane Theatre, Kairos Italy Theater has produced three new plays from Italy by established Italian playwrights. Directed by Laura Caparrotti, each play deals with perception of ‘the other,’ telling stories about encounters with people from different cultures. As stories the works are topical and compelling, as theatrical pieces they are lacking visual intrigue.
A Story of Love and Soccer by Michele Santeramo tells the story of many ethnic groups in a small town in Italy. Two brothers tell about the first ever Clandestine World Cup, a soccer tournament put in place to determine which ethnic group is in charge of the town for a full year. As the community comes together to put on the matches, they learn how to live together – and they learn a lot about love. The actors, Dave Johnson and Eric Gravez, tell the story with energy and they interact with ease. Eric Gravez plays the softer, talented soccer player who falls in love with an Indian woman, while Dave Johnson plays his business savvy, brassy brother. The two are a good match. While the writing is riveting and poetic, and the actors are dedicated to the story, we are simply watching two men tell a story. The movement on stage is far less interesting than the story itself.
The Journey I Never Made by Paolo Bignami depicts two women from different backgrounds waiting for a train. Petra (Paloma Pilar) is taking the train back to her home country while Silvia (Carlotta Brentan) is seeking a new start in a different country. As the play goes on, we learn that the women, though different and wary of each other, share similar experiences of immigration. As they move between dialogue and internal monologue, we learn about their prejudices and desires. If there is any conflict in the situation, it arises from how they react to the cancellation of their train. Petra is very easy going and relaxed while Silvia is uptight and concerned about potential circumstances. Paloma Pilar and Carlotta Brentan work very well together on stage, they play opposites well and their patience with silence evokes intriguing moments on stage. There are two very abstract sections of the play that highlight the characters’ experience with leaving and arriving. These moments are the most theatrical and compelling to watch even though the show maintains a singular tone throughout.
The third play, Enrico IV by Luigi Pirandello starring Rocco Sisto, plays separately from the above mentioned plays. I did not see Enrico IV though it appears to be just as compelling in theme and content.
AlieNation, Kairos Italy Theater, The Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street. Closes December 3rd.
My View: “Because I Have A Story With Each And Every One Of You”…Richard Jay-Alexander
If you never heard of a restaurant/bar called Milady’s on Prince Street, you’ll know it now! That’s where Richard Jay-Alexander chose to celebrate his 70th Birthday and it was truly a WOWZA evening…the setting, the food, the peonies, the curated music PLAYLIST (assembled by longtime friend and assistant, Nellie Beavers), the craft cocktails and even a film crew (led by longtime pal, Brian Morgan) in the back, taping BRAVO-style “confessionals” with each guest, about the BIRTHDAY BOY. The guests in attendance ranged in age and interests, like a perfect jambalaya of an accomplished life. Even friends from his High School, in Solvay, NY! The most impressive part of who Richard is was quickly revealed in his post “blowing out the candles of his cake” moment when he looked around the room (clearly moved) and explained that the reason we were all there was, “because I have a story with each and every one of you.” Needless to say, there was much talent present throughout the room and plenty of legendary New Yorkers, raising a glass to a pretty special guy. In reality, it is he that entered into our lives and our stories and happily so. This is how you do it!
My View: It’s Richard Jay-Alexander’s Birthday!
If there’s anyone who deserves to be featured in TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES, on this particular day, May 24, it would be this guy, Richard Jay-Alexander. Born in 1953, today he turns 70 years old, here in New York City. He has walked these city streets more than most, as he pursued and has enjoyed a 49 year career, working on Broadway, in most theaters, clubs and majestic musical institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and The MET. He’s touched many, many lives and has a passion for this business that continues to burn and just this past Sunday, he helmed a thrilling evening, celebrating BroadwayWorld.com‘s 20th Anniversary, at midtown’s historic Sony Hall. On the eve of his birthday, he attended his favorite Tuesday night happening, Susie Mosher’s The LINEUP at Birdland Theatre, and treated the audience to a couple stories, observations on this important birthday and then, with Billy Stritch at the piano, John Miller on Bass and Clint De Canon on drums, performed a moving and heartfelt (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Richard clearly has a gift and a passion for the stage and for music and we are all the better for it, on the receiving end.
Happy Birthday, Young Man! Here’s to many more.
My View: A Glamorous Celebrity Filled Night With Lorna Dallas at The Laurie Beechman Theatre
It was a celebrity filled audience last night and the glamor of Manhattan Cabaret nightlife was in abundance for Lorna Dallas and her show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre titled “Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days
Ms. Dallas returned to New York City with a wonderful new show. This was Ms. Dallas’ first appearance in this town since she performed at the Bistro awards prior to the lockdown of 2020. The three years respite has done nothing to dim the luster of Ms Dallas’ exceptional instrument. She stayed in fine voice all evening long. But she is more than just an excellent vocalist. She is also a compelling actress. Her show, skillfully crafted by director Barry Kleinbort, and sensitively accompanied by one of this city’s best musical directors, Christopher Denny, was a joy from start to finish. The star studded audience at the Laurie Beechman theater responded heartily to every one of Lorna’s numbers. Evening high points ran the gamut, from standards like “I Have Dreamed,” to “When the Sun Comes Out;” from an hilarious “By Strauss” by the Gershwin’s to a dramatic “Silent Spring” by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. She also premiered a new song written especially for her by Ann Hampton Callaway and Amanda McBroom, “In My Dreams,” which wowed the savvy New York crowd. Hopefully, Lorna Dallas will return to these shores on a more regular basis. Three years is too long a wait for this powerful soprano’s next appearance..
My View: David Yazbek and Norbert Leo Butz at 54 Below
Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award winning composer/writer/musician David Yazbek and his band were on the stage of 54 Below last night playing some of his new songs from an upcoming album. They also played some great music from the Yazbek songbook and from his Broadway musicals.
In addition to being an award winning composer and lyricist David Yazbek is a formidable pianist possessing a fearless technique generating an extraordinary combination of intoxicating melodious dissonance. . A highlight of the evening for me was when he displayed his unique harmonic and rhythmic pianistic concepts on the Great American Songbook Standard “Over The Rainbow”. Norbert Leo Butz also starred in the the 54 evening titled “David Yazbek and The Bludgeoneers” and he brought the house to it’s feet with the “Dirty Rotten Medley”
The Band: Javier Diaz (Percussion), Tony Orbach (Sax), Sam Sadigursky (Clarinet), Dean Sharenow (Drums), Chris Tordini (Bass), Paul Vercesi (Sax)
My View: Just Say “Gianni Sent Me”…Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks at Birdland
You don’t have to knock on the door and identify yourself to the bouncer looking through the peephole by saying “Joe sent me” the way revelers did during prohibition. That was how one gained entry to the nightclubs of the day serving alcohol and jazz music during the 1920’s. But otherwise the party atmosphere of those days are the same as Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks make the authentic sounds of that period come to life again in the Birdland Theater.
The band has Giordano’s library of 60,000 pre swing era arrangements, and his 11 musicians, using the instrumentation and paraphernalia of that time musically bring you“back to the future” or more accurately like the title of the Giordano documentary movie, “There’s a Future In The Past”. The two shows every Monday are always packed, but we got excellent seats and cocktails by saying…”Gianni sent me”.
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