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Erika Longo

Erika Longo Photo by Mark Wyville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pamela Scott’s dramatic play All The Kings Horses is a deep look at how women get embroiled into abuse. Patty (Erika Longo), a waitress is living with Richie (Gregg Prosser), a mobster who manipulates her to the hilt.  From the moment we meet this couple, it seems like a problem about to escalate out of control. Patty, has been emotionally and financially taking care of Richie, as the Mob is out for his immediate death after having almost fatally shooting him, twice. This career criminal has been offered clemency through the Witness Protection Program. He has told Patty that she needs to join him as the mob is also after her. Richie promises to go legit, with marriage, kids and the good life all subsided by “the feds”. Patty buys into this even though he has lied multiple times and has been physically abusive to her. As time passes Richie cons Patty in so many ways that the abuse starts to feel old hat. In the Witness Protection Program Richie’s personality seems to get darker and now he wants to use Patty for more criminal activity. Nothing Richie has said or will say will ever say will be the truth. Thankfully the Federal Agent (Kerry Mc Gann) has hope for Patty and in the end helps Patty to escape.

Gregg Prosser, Erika Longo

Erika Longo, Gregg Prosser Photo by Mark Wyville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This play is difficult to watch, as the way Patty allows this low life human being to use her is frightening. Patty’s unfailing love for this man Is heartbreaking, as he shows her little to no respect and uses sex as a weapon.

Kerry Mc Gann, Erika Longo

Kerry Mc Gann, Erika Longo Photo by Mark Wyville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ms. Longo makes us care for Patty, as Mr. Prosser paints a brutal picture of a psychopathic male. Standing out is Ms. Mc Gann who starts out as an unfeeling officer, to a compassionate unrelenting force of good.

Gregg Prosser, Erika Longo Photo by Mark Wyville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ms. Scott’s words and play ring true. This should be playing for abused women everywhere. All The Kings Horses, will help victims see how they are caught in a web of isolation, belittling, shame and self-hatred. Ms. Scott shows the switch from extreme kindness to being a monster; as Patty feels compassion as Richie apologizes; holding on to hope that he will change.

All The Kings Horses is playing at The Bridge Theatre, 244 West 54thSt. 12thFloor Aug 16 – 19

 

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Cabaret

Have You Begun Dreaming of It Yet?  (PART I) 

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What else – White Christmas, of course! 

December is jampacked with great entertainment, so I hope you’re caught up on your shopping, because there are lots of treats for you this month. Here’s a stockingful of events that you shouldn’t miss.   

If you’re looking for probably the most glamorous gift of the season, drop by Doyle Galleries to at least look at The Ellin and Irving Berlin Sapphire and Diamond Ring.  Bidding is estimated to begin at $200,000 at the December 14th auction. 

Jason Henderson kicked off the month reprising his highly acclaimed latest venture, Getting to Noël You at Don’t Tell Mama on the 4th.  If you missed this evening, don’t worry – he’s back by popular demand—same time, same location—on January 24th and February 11th.  It’s quite a curious and fast-paced ride he takes us on, and it’s one not to be missed.   

The York Theatre has delivered a mitzvah–just in time for Christmas. Billed as a Musical Comedy of Biblical Proportions, The Jerusalem Syndrome certainly lived up to expectations.  You must see it to discover the meaning of the title, which is fact, not fiction. 

 While this has been in development for several years, the skilled midwifery of the York brought forth a little bundle of joy that had the audience laughing at its humor and touched by its message.  Sensitive to the current Middle East conflict, the York bravely went ahead with the project, which affords everyone a chance to marvel and understand the miracle that is Israel. 

 It’s running through the end of the year—visit the York website https://yorktheatre.org for more info. 

Urban Stages has announced its “2023 Winter Rhythms” series, the award-winning music festival at Urban Stages Theater (259 West 30th Street – between 7th & 8th Avenues). 

It began with a gala on December 6 entitled “Nights at the Algonquin: A Celebration of The Oak Room Supper Club,” featuring many legendary cabaret performers including  Natalie Douglas, Boots MalesonSteve Ross, and Daryl Sherman.  Hosted by Michael Colby (author of The Algonquin Kid), the evening began with a champagne and wine reception followed by the show at 7:30 with a post-show gathering to follow.  

On Sunday, December 10 at 3pm “Created at the Algonquin: Songs from Musicals Written at The Algonquin,” featuring performances by Craig Bierko, Shana Farr, Jenn Gambatese, Anita Gillette, Jon Peterson, Steve Ross and others. The program will be directed by Sara Louise Lazarus with Michael Lavine directing the music.   

As part of the festivities, Shana Farr will reprise her glorious Barbara Cook tribute on the 16th.   Ice Cream,. Anyone?   

 

Everyone’s favorite is Karen Mason, whose show Christmas!  Christmas! Christmas! is one night only at Birdland at 7 pm on the 11th.   

Stay tuned for Part II for Christmas romance, tradition, and good will! 

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Off Broadway

T2C Talks to Patrick Olson About Emergence

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Patrick Olson, is a musician-scientist and now a performer with his own show Emergence, Off-Broadway at The Pershing Square Signature Center through January 7, 2024.

T2C talked to this  prolific artist to learn more about what seems more like a movement and a unique experience.

See t2C’s review here. 

Emergence: Things Are Not As They Seem: Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street through January 7th. Tickets and information: emergenceshow.com

Video by Magda Katz

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Off Broadway

Off Broadway Girl Talk Madwomen of the West

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Right now at the Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street is the New York premier of Sandra Tsing Loh’s Madwomen of the West. The show in a way reminded me of the 1996 play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, where celebrities joined on stage. Here you have Caroline Aaron, Brooke Adams, Marilu Henner, and Melanie Mayron, all actors who have performed on film, TV and stage. They are like long lost friends, they are so familiar.

Caroline Aaron, Marilu Henner, Melanie Mayron, and Brooke Adams Photo by Carol Rosegg

The four have gathered together for Claudia’s (Mayron) birthday. It is being thrown at the Brentwood home of Jules (Adams) and Marilyn (Aaron) has decorated. Enter the long lost Zoey (Henner) and what you think you know about these friends, isn’t what it seems. As a matter of fact, this birthday brunch is about to turn into the brunch from hell. These Baby Boomers, are also feminists admiring Hilary Clinton and Gloria Steinem, though not always on the same side. They break the 4th wall, as they banter back and forth to themselves and to us, the audience. They confront, encourage, justify and talk about transgender, health, the horror of Trump and those “pussy hats”, sex and so much more. Think “girl-talk” to the max.

They sit on couches, as a backdrop of palm trees, and a lone piñata take center stage, thanks to set designer Christian Fleming. The play has no money, so the production is bare bones…. so they say. Everything about this show is tongue and check and is well directed by Thomas Caruso.

Each actor here shines and in an out of the way aside, each has pieces of their real selves written into the roles they play. Not having seen Aaron on stage before, I was impressed by her vocal quality and humor. Adams brings sophistication and Mayron adds that knowing, we are all in the same messed up boat. Henner will make you want that body and her sex appeal.

These women knocked down doors for the women to come, but I was surprised that the one issue they missed out on was that women are still not equal in this country. It takes 1, count it 1 state to approve this and yet plays about feminism leave this vital information out.

The show ends with “The Bitch is Back.” they sing in glee. I guess it is ok when we call ourselves that.

Madwomen of the West: The Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street through December 31.

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Off Broadway

“Stereophonic” at Playwrights Horizons Sings Solidly

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It’s July 1976, in a recording studio in Sausalito, CA and we are being invited into a space that only a select few get to visit, let alone witness. This is art in the making, pure and simple, with ego and love, getting mixed and faded in through the process most musically. In Playwrights Horizons‘s magnificent new play, Stereophonic, written most delicately by David Adjmi (The Blind King Parts I and II), a band on the cusp of greatness has assembled, and they are tasked, casually and with great intent, to something magnificent and meaningful, a lasting piece of musical art, to follow up their last album that has become, over the timeframe, a breakout hit.

Andrew R. Butler, Sarah Pidgeon, Chris Stack, and Juliana Canfield in Playwrights Horizons’s Stereophonic. Photo by Chelice Parry.

The play is exceptionally well framed and constructed; both musical and meandering, in the best of all possible ways, yet somewhere inside Adjmi’s engaging Stereophonicand its three-hour running time, a deeper level of contextual art formulation is unpacked quite beautifully. It saunters forward, with a complicated level of exhaustion, angst, and inspiration, unearthing something that almost defies expectations and compartmentalization. It’s a 1970s rock saga, clearly modeled on the legendary Fleetwood Mac and their dynamic backstage friction, that leans into and plays with the problematic relationships within this unnamed band as they try to create magic behind a glass wall, while also trying to fulfill their emotional needs in the confines of the studio and real life.

It’s all emotional breakups and reconciliations, with a layer of bored and sleep-deprived banter; around a broken coffee machine and the annoying reverberations of (not only) the drum. It’s electric and conflictual, playing havoc on every one of these characters’ insecure hearts, while offering up no grand solutions or final product. Stereophonic is all about the tiny details and the little frustrations that grow and become emotional cannonballs bent on destruction, leveled and defused out of an undercurrent of love and need for creation. It is incandescent in its artful construction, displaying and writing about a realm few of us can understand. It’s the agony and ecstasy that lives and sings inside the magnificent creative process of musicians, arts, singers, and writers, who hear aspects that most of us can’t understand, let alone hear or comprehend. And we have been invited in, to bear witness to its creation, in all its meticulously dull and exhausting detail. Giving light to the darkness of the process, and how art can both create and destroy those involved in its coming to life.

Eli Gelb and Andrew R. Butler in Playwrights Horizons’s Stereophonic. Photo by Chelice Parry.

Stereophonic, as directed solidly by Daniel Aukin (LCT’s Admissions), is relentless, casual, and wonderfully detailed, giving us the band experience of trying to organically create music, supplied by the immensely talented musician and composer, Will Butler (Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs). It all plays out over a long period of time, driving each other mad with their internal and external struggles and ego manipulations. The set, miraculously well designed by David Zinn (Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo), with the solid help of sound designer Ryan Rumery (PH’s Placebo) and lighting designer Jiyoun Chang (Broadway’s The Cottage), delivers the dichotomy of the control room in the foreground and the soundproof recording space in the back, separated by a wall of glass, where different elements unfold with deliberation. It’s a fantastic formulation, that resembles and plays with the making of ‘Rumours‘ whole also paying tribute, (I am told – this detail flew over my head), to albums by Todd Rundgren, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, and Elton John.
The unnamed Stereophonic band before us seemingly has a hit album that is climbing the charts as they start recording, and their record label is becoming more and more generous as they become more and more famous. All the actors find their fantastically unique space within that iconic construct, with the two couples taking center stage, along with nods to those around them. It’s a compelling narrative, with their body language giving off the boredom and exhaustion that comes with all the late-night partying and endless recording and re-recording. Dominated by an American guitarist and singer, the aggressive Peter, played strongly by Tom Pecinka (TFANA’s He Brought Her Heart Back..), and his insecure songwriting girlfriend, Diana, beautifully portrayed by Sarah Pidgeon (Hulu’s “Tiny Beautiful Things“), they act out a dynamic that is as raw and rocky as one would imagine when two artists collide, both with faltering egos and needs. The cling to one another in desperate need, while also mistreating and hurting one another endlessly. It’s electric and disturbing, while being entirely believable and dynamic.

Tom Pecinka and Sarah Pidgeon in Playwrights Horizons’s Stereophonic. Photo by Chelice Parry.

There is also, almost more fascinating, a trio of Brits, two of which are struggling to connect within their explosive marriage; namely Holly, magnificently embodied by Juliana Canfield (ATC’s Sunday), who sings and plays the piano, and Reg, brilliantly portrayed by Will Brill (Off-Broadway’s Uncle Vanya), who plays the bass and drinks and snorts so much that he can barely walk, at least at the beginning of this play. There is also the captivatingly complicated Simon, played well by Chris Stack (ATC’s Blue Ridge), who plays the drums while trying hard to manage the mess that slowly and almost lazily unravels around him.
Staying firmly on the control side of the glass, we are also given a peek inside those who live in the background; the young sound engineer Grover, meticulously unpacked by Eli Gelb (RTC’s Skintight), and his hilariously well-constructed assistant, Charlie, wonderfully played by Andrew R. Butler (Ars Nova’s Rags Parkland Sings…). Their drive and infatuation with the band and their creative power play strong and true, especially at the beginning, but as the mystique of the band’s unity begins to unravel and explode into chaos and compulsion, their determined connection to the musicians shifts from worship to irritation as the weeks turn into months and years. Or does it, in the end?

The creative energy and compounded exhaustion that live inside every brilliantly performed song cause Stereophonic to sing, most magnetically and is clearly as real and authentic as one could hope for, drenched in authentic swagger, courtesy of the costuming by Enver Chakartash (Broadway’s A Doll’s House). Even as the clock ticks forward, for them and for us, the pitfalls of collaboration and the art of creation mingle and mix like only musicians can, hurting one another while also elevating their craft in order to create that piece of art that makes all of us sit back in wonderment. They riff and talk rough to one another, accessing imagery of the hotness of Donald Sutherland and the bonding of artists, regardless of gender. The music in the background soars, thanks to the beautiful songwriting work done by Arcade Fire’s Butler, but it’s more in the magical interpersonal dynamics that elevate this experience into something special, powerful, and utterly unique. Aggressiveness and control hit hard against love, creation, and connection, playing with loyalties and solo careers in a way that unlocks chaotic relationship complications that echo far beyond the room. Sudden fame does wonders to the energy within, and in Stereophonic, we are gifted with the fly-on-the-wall syndrome, watching magic develop out of thin air and focused minds, even when clouded by love, pain, and that big bag of white powder.

Will Brill and Chris Stack in Playwrights Horizons’s Stereophonic. Photo by Chelice Parry.

Playwrights Horizons’s Stereophonic.

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Off Broadway

Vineyard’s “Scene Partners” Gets Stuck Between Floors

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This is exactly how it happened “ we are told, followed by a big wide screen opening that descends upon us, but it does not quite land where it, and our leading lady’s character, most likely intended it too. Finally escaping the 11th floor on a folding chair and faulty pulley system, Meryl Kowalski, as portrayed as only the magnificently gifted Dianne Wiest (Broadway’s All My Sons; “Purple Rose of Cairo“) could, finds flight and falter inside this fascinating exploration of some sort of demented dream. Giving the “correct response“ to abstract questions and assignments, Wiest delivers a befuddled and determined performance that elevates a play that fractures realities every chance it gets. As written with a wild wandering spirit by John J. Caswell, JR. (Wet Brain), the play is an absurdity of utter invigorating complexity, playing with and sometimes delivering itself forward in a fascinating but distancing dementia. Is it a post-traumatic disassociation of epic proportions or a fractured descent into grief and mental illness, played for a laugh or a tug at the heart? Or is it something quite else that was lost on this avid fan of this Oscar-winning actress? And I don’t even know if there is a clear correct answer to this. But that is half the fun in this half-fun exercise in abstractionism and determination.

It’s big on ‘concept’, directed with a strong forward vision by Rachel Chavkin (Broadway’s Hadestown), obviously enjoying the ride and the wandering with glee. The visuals ride and slide in and about, thanks to the incredibly detailed and smooth work of video and projection design by David Bengali (Broadway’s The Thanksgiving Play), lighting designer Alan C. Edwards (Vineyard’s Harry Clarke), and scenic designer Riccardo Hernández (Broadway’s Indecent), giving depth and clarity to this otherwise meander into fractured and fantastical thinking. Supported by clever extravagances by costume designer Brenda Abbandandolo (Broadway’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window), the effect is a fevered dive into the mind of a woman beaten down hard to the ground by a now-dead husband whose death has freed her to her desire; her dream and determination to be a big famous movie star, and she’ll point the barrel at anyone who might stand in her way or say otherwise.

Josh Hamilton and Dianne Wiest in Vineyard Theatre’s Scene Partners. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Scene Partners feels anything but safe and secure, as we join Wiest’s 75-year-old widow from the Midwest as she steadily abandons her needy mess of a daughter, played with clever calculations by Kristen Sieh (Broadway’s The Band’s Visit), to jet, train, or sled herself off to Hollywood to become a big gloriously famous movie star even before her now-dead violent abusive husband has been buried six feet under. The framing is slanted, with efforts to keep us off balance. Finding a flavor in its madness and splitting. The name of Wiest’s woman is Meryl Kowalski, and she’s not to be ignored. She is told quite clearly and quickly that she must change it if she really wants to be an actress, as that first name of hers has already been taken by that other, already famous and award-winning actress with the same first name that we all know and love. But this Meryl holds firm, inside and out of her first acting class somewhere out there in Los Angeles. It’s there, when confronted by her over-the-top acting teacher, played with wild abandonment by the perfect Josh Hamilton (Broadway’s The Real Thing), that she reveals another level of strong abstractionism. This particularly twisted Meryl’s dead husband was named Stanley Kowalski, and her Streetcar husband made Tennessee Williams’s character seem like quite the gentle nice guy.

At this point, the play stands shakily in some abstract parallels that are fun, clever, complicated, and a bit distancing, playing with fragments of trauma and grief that don’t fully come together. It pulls and pushes at about the same level of conflicted engagement, until Johanna Day (Broadway/MTC’s How I Learned to Drive) as Meryl’s half-sister comes into play, shifting the formula with a centered grounding that makes us sit back and question what’s really going on. When a doctor also enters the picture, played well by Eric Berryman (RT’s Primary Trust), a medical diagnosis once again adds a different framework that could alter the whole process. Where are we with these two half-sisters and their shared knowledge of a non-collaborated trauma of abuse? Especially after a (pre-recorded) interview with a very well-positioned Sieh asking pertinent questions that illicit praise from Hamilton’s pompous character and a disappearing act of a half-sister who might never been. It plays with the head, in both an engaging and disassociating manner that works, and doesn’t.

Johanna Day and Dianne Wiest in Vineyard Theatre’s Scene Partners. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Scene Partners doesn’t play easy with our unpacking, leading us down blind endless alleyways decorated with an abundance of movie imagery that either leads us to brick walls or bottomless pits to fall into. Wiest’s Meryl has necessarily immersed herself in these vintage cinematic panoramas, probably to unconsciously avoid the abusive reality she found herself trapped in, and in that trauma response, Wiest has found the perfect embodiment for Mrs. Kowalski, bringing feisty and forceful complexities to the forefront as she shuffles and stabs herself into frame. And even if it doesn’t, in the end, add up to much, this Vineyard Theatre production is flavorful in its twisted construction and projections. The “Doctor Zhivago” impressions and pop-culture references overwhelm, not just our heroine, but also our connections to emotional clarity and authenticity, leaving us hanging halfway down and in between floors waiting for something to fully make an impact.

Dianne Wiest in Vineyard Theatre’s Scene Partners. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

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