Part of Working Theater’s Five Boroughs/One City Initiative, Bamboo in Bushwick addresses gentrification with honesty and absurdity, bringing to light the harsh realities and many perspectives of those living in changing neighborhoods.
The event is the neighborhood domino game, and the regulars gather around and talk about all of the ways the neighborhood has changed. They comment on how others used to play dominoes too, but now they’re gone. Edson (Arisael Rivera) has already been pushed out of the neighborhood, but he still works there – just trying to survive and to provide for his family. Crispin (Jose Antonio Melian) is sentimental and has a lot to say about how Bushwick has changed, and he is considering renting a room to one of the incoming “yupsters.” Magalia (Edna Lee Figueroa) is just trying to get by while waiting for her husband and son to join her in America. Swayze (John J. Concado) is a young transplant from Queens who feels strongly about his art and the gentrification of his new neighborhood. Two artists, Budhi and Nirt (Michelle Sui and Clinton Lowe, respectively) have been employed to paint a new mural on the wall that often serves as the backdrop of the domino game. In this everyday space, we see ideas belonging, change and survival clash.
Often the action cuts from Bushwick to an icy place where penguins are being pushed out of their homes by polar bears. They are being oppressed, eaten, and forced away from their life. The penguins take artistic – and drastic – measures to be remembered.
The piece is well structured and the effects of gentrification are magnified by the absurdity of the polar bears taking over the penguins. For example, two polar bears demanding to see the “papers” of two penguin parallels to the idea that people have to prove they belong in a neighborhood to claim it – living there for 25 years doesn’t serve as “proper” proof. The piece also high lights how unlawfully minorities are pushed out of their neighborhoods.
The design of the production relies on projections that display the wall before the mural and the icy tundra as well as English and Spanish subtitles throughout the production. The neighborhood sounds during scene changes gives us a feel for where we are, and the actors portray their characters (and the penguins) with real concern and sometimes excitement that a changing neighborhood can cause.
Working Theater created this piece by collaborating with communities in Brooklyn. Their work facilitates conversations that helps communities to explore the challenges they face, and to create tools to overcome those challenges. This play is one of several that can help us learn about other communities, and to practice empathy and activism in helping our neighbors.
Bamboo in Bushwick: Working Theater, Urban Stages, 259 W. 30th St. Through May 3.
Bamboo in Bushwick is also playing in other boroughs, please visit http://theworkingtheater.org/bambooinbushwick/ for information and tickets.
My View: Barrington Stage Co. on 42nd Street Oct. 30 For Its Gala at Green Room 42
The evening of cocktails, dinner, and cabaret show headlined by Billy Stritch celebrates the inaugural season of newly appointed Artistic Director Alan Paul and Managing Director Lynsey Shade.
Proceeds from the Gala will benefit the Julianne Boyd New Works Fund.
Mary Ann and Bruno Quinson are presenting the event which is sponsored in part by Rhoda Levitt. Eda Sorokoff is Chair with Violet Eagan & Rosita Sarnoff Co-Chairs
Since its inception in 1995, Barrington Stage (BSC) has produced 41 new works, 21 of which have moved on to New York and major regional theatres around the country.
BSC believes that new work is the heart and soul of theatre. If theatre is to thrive and create meaningful and new experiences for audiences, then it is vital to support playwrights and their visions of the world we live in.
BSC’s New Works Fund takes a two-pronged approach – PlayWorks supports the creation of new plays while our acclaimed Musical Theatre Lab develops new musicals. In both of these programs, BSC seeks artists whose unique voices speak to our audiences with relevant new plays and musicals. BSC hopes our new work will ask questions of the world we live in – questions that may not have answers but will begin a dialogue between the artists and our audiences.
My View: A Cult Following At Birdland For The Hilarity of CASHINO
I had no idea what I was walking into, but boy, oh, boy….am I glad we went. Birdland was packed last night for a return engagement of CASHINO which stars Susie Mosher and John Boswell. These two have, literally, built a cult following as Pepper Cole and Johnny Niagara with this unexpected piece of hilarity and music. It is so fresh, so funny, so crazy and so original that all I can say is, “You had to be there.” Thank you for such a memorable evening and Congratulations! I hope these photos give you some idea of what fun this evening was.
My View: Mr. Finn’s Cabaret Audience Enthralled by Hugh Panaro Debut at Barrington Stage Co.
It was an absolute thrill to see Hugh Panaro make his Barrington Stage Company Cabaret Series debut at Mr. Finn’s. The accomplished actor has one of the finest voices in the current landscape of performers you will find on Broadway or anywhere else in the world. Hugh has a unique and interesting career of achievements and experiences, and the young man originally from Philadelphia, is a gifted storyteller with a voice that just never ceases to amaze in color, range, power, simplicity and feelings that explode in warmth, rage, romance, humor and plenty of musical performance thrills. No adornments. Just pure and communicative. To be a part of this special evening, in such an intimate setting, with Musical Director/Arranger Joseph Thalken on the piano and Brian Holtz on Bass, it felt like they were all breathing together and us, too, along with them. The musical program was a feast and although Mr. Panaro has been in countless Broadway shows, as well as in Canada and London’s West End, and done symphony concerts all over the world, this show which he conceived with his director Richard Jay-Alexander is brand new and only the third time he’s performed it. It is very, very special.
Talking about very special……..In 2012 Board member Eda and I were with Bill Finn and Julie Boyd (founder,artistic director BSC) for the Grand Opening of Mr. Finn’s Cabaret. Tonight at this truly spectacular performance by Hugh Panaro, (and also Sunday’s opening night of William Finn’s NEW BRAIN) we were honored to be with Barrington’s new Artistic Director Alan Paul and again with Julie Boyd and Bill Finn.
My View: William Finn Attends Opening Night of NEW BRAIN at Barrington Stage Company
Last night Barrington Stage Company (BSC) in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) presented William Finn’s 1998 musical A NEW BRAIN on Barrington’s Boyd-Quinson mainstage. Check out the opening night photos and after party below. A NEW BRAIN will play through September 10, 2023.
A New Brain features Adam Chanler-Berat (Broadway: Next to Normal, Peter and the Starcatcher; HBO Max: “Gossip Girl”; WTF: Animal Crackers) as Gordon, three-time Tony Award nominee Mary Testa (Broadway: Oklahoma!, 42nd Street; Off-Broadway: Bill Finn’s In Trousers; BSC: Sleepless Variations; WTF: Most Happy in Concert) as Mimi, Tally Sessions (Broadway: Company, Anastasia, Bill Finn’s Falsettos) as Dr. Jafar / Dad, Demond Green (Broadway: Sister Act; BSC: Funked Up Fairy Tales, Bill Finn’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as The Minister, Dorcas Leung (Broadway: Miss Saigon; National Tour: Hamilton; BSC: Into the Woods) as Rhoda, Andy Grotelueschen (Broadway: The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Tootsie) as Mr. Bungee, Salome B. Smith (Broadway: 1776) as Lisa, and Justine Horihata Rappaport (National Tour: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella) as Nancy, Darrell Purcell, Jr. (Signature Theatre: The Scottsboro Boys; Temple Theatre: Hairspray) as Roger, and Eliseo Roman (BSC: Fall Springs; Broadway: In The Heights, On Your Feet!) as Richard. Understudies are Ross Griffin, Courtney Balan and Jamen Nanthakumar.
In A New Brain, Gordon can’t get past his writer’s block when a medical emergency forces him to reassess if his songs (or lack thereof) are more important than his family, his friends, or his partner. He needs to navigate a mean nurse, shelves of books and a bossy frog to get to the heart of his music.
A New Brain features music and lyrics by BSC Associate Artist William Finn (BSC: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Royal Family of Broadway), book by Finn and Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner James Lapine (Broadway: Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George), and direction by BSC Associate Artist Joe Calarco (BSC: Waiting for Godot, Into the Woods, Ragtime), with music direction by Vadim Feichtner (BSC: The Royal Family of Broadway; Broadway: Falsettos, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and choreography by Chloe O. Davis (Paradise Square).
A New Brain was originally presented in 1998 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, where it won the 1999 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical. The largely autobiographical musical is about Finn’s life-threatening experience surviving a neurological brain condition.
For a 2015 production of A New Brain at New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center, Jesse Green, writing for New York Magazine, said, “What makes A New Brain so satisfying is that its almost relentless humor and cynicism are used to promote a very serious and often sad inquiry into key human questions. What do we make of our time here? What do we make of our abilities? Finn’s answer is the obvious one, but no less generous for that. If your brain is wired for it, you make music.”
A New Brain features scenic design by Paige Hathaway, costume design by Debra Kim Sivigny, lighting design by Jason Lyons, and sound design by Ken Travis. Production Stage Manager is John Godbout. Assistant Stage Manager is Leslie Sears.
The Boyd-Quinson Stage season opened with the legendary Tony Award-winning musical Cabaret, directed by BSC Artistic Director Alan Paul. It also includes Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky (now-August 5), directed by Candis C. Jones, and Steinberg Playwright Award winner Sanaz Toossi’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play English (September 27-October 15).
The St. Germain Stage season at Barrington Stage Company opened with The Happiest Man on Earth by Mark St. Germain, based on Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku’s extraordinary 2020 memoir of the same name, published when Jaku was 100 years old, starring Kenneth Tigar and directed by Ron Lagomarsino. The St. Germain season continued with Mike Lew’s tiny father, a co-world premiere play produced by Chautauqua Theater Company and BSC, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. The season concludes with a revival of Brian Friel’s Faith Healer (August 1-27), directed by Julianne Boyd and starring BSC Associate Artists Christopher Innvar, Mark H. Dold and Gretchen Egolf.
BSC casting is by McCorkle Casting (Pat McCorkle, CSA; Rebecca Weiss, CSA).
For tickets to A New Brain or the BSC Season, please call the BSC Box Office at 413-236-8888 or visit www.BarringtonStageCo.org/Tickets.
ABOUT BARRINGTON STAGE COMPANY
Barrington Stage Company (BSC), under the leadership of Artistic Director Alan Paul and Managing Director Meredith Lynsey Schade, is an award-winning theatre located in Pittsfield, MA, in the heart of the Berkshires. Co-founded in 1995 by Julianne Boyd, BSC’s mission is to produce top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and to engage our community with vibrant, inclusive educational outreach programs. Alan Paul succeeded Ms. Boyd as the company’s Artistic Director in 2022.
BSC attracts over 60,000 patrons annually and has gained national recognition for its superior-quality productions and comprehensive educational programming, including the award-winning Playwright Mentoring Project, the Musical Theatre Conservatory, Youth Theatre, KidsAct! and other initiatives. The company has become integral to the economic revitalization of downtown Pittsfield.
BSC’s reputation for excellence began with a smash revival of Cabaret that moved to Boston in 1997 for an extended run. The theatre’s prominence grew with the world premiere of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin (BSC 2004; Broadway 2005-2008, winner of two Tony Awards). Other notable productions include the world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s American Son (BSC 2016; Broadway 2018); Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session (BSC 2009; Off-Broadway 2010-2012); Leonard Bernstein, Comden & Green’s On the Town (BSC 2013; Broadway 2014, four Tony Award nominations); Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Company, starring Aaron Tveit (2017); and West Side Story in honor of Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’ centenaries (2018).
BSC develops and commissions new work with two programs: PlayWorks, which supports the creation of new plays, and the Musical Theatre Lab, which develops new musicals. Since 1995, BSC has produced 45 new works, 22 of which have moved to New York and major US regional theatres.
ABOUT WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL
For seven decades, the Tony Award-recognized Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought emerging and professional theater artists together in the Berkshires to create a thrilling summer festival of diverse, world premiere plays and musicals, bold new revivals, and a rich array of accompanying cultural events.
Artists are drawn to Williamstown Theatre Festival to make great theater in an environment conducive to artistic risk-taking. Matthew Broderick, Audra McDonald, Dominique Morisseau, Mary-Louise Parker, Susan Stroman, Uma Thurman, and Blair Underwood are just a few of the luminous theater artists who have worked at the Festival. Many others, including Sterling K. Brown, Ty Burrell, Charlie Day, Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Brie Larson, Chris Pine, and George C. Wolfe, began their careers at the Festival.
Productions and artists shaped at the Festival fill theaters in New York City and around the world. Recently, Williamstown Theatre Festival was represented on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally by The Sound Inside, Grand Horizons, The Rose Tattoo, The Visit, Fool for Love, The Elephant Man, Seared, Selling Kabul, Unknown Solider, and Lempicka, to name just a few. Cost of Living, which was developed and premiered at Williamstown Theatre Festival, was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and made its Broadway debut last fall.
My View: If You Remember Being in Studio 54 in the Seventies…You Really Weren’t There….Ann Hampton Callaway
To paraphrase that well used line….If you remember being in Studio 54 in the seventies… then you really weren’t there! However if you were in 54 Below last night for “Ann Hampton Callaway Sings the Seventies” you will definitely remember being there!
The exuberance of the audience reminded me of a High School reunion, the love and camaraderie that Ann created in the room with her extraordinary musicianship and wit started from the minute she took the stage and asked us all to join in ‘Sing, Sing A Song”.
It was a reunion of baby boomers who grew up with the music of the seventies and the gathering of an audience who cherish the opportunity to be at an Ann Hampton Callaway performance.
The Diva’s song list contained some of the greatest hits of the 1970’s, and the folks who filled the seats at 54 Below got a chance to relive the soundtrack of their lives sung by this Tony Award nominee, Broadway star and platinum selling singer/songwriter.
What a wonderful treat to have Billy Stritch as Ann’s music director for this show. BIlly, can authentically bring you musically into any era. His extraordinary ability to recreate the sounds of any style of music was especially evident with the songs of the seventies. Stritch grew up with that music, and it’s organic to him. Some of the duets and harmonies with Ann were especially genuine to the genre.
“Sing, Sing a Song” “Come in From The Rain, “I Will Survive” “New York State Of Mind……and so much more….got the picture?
The Disco Ball got plenty of activity last night but the music was LIVE with Billy, Tim Horner on drums and Martin Wind on bass helping Ann gloriously recreate it.
Ann Hampton Callaway has got the “Secret O’ Life”. Thanks Ann for reminding us of “The Way We Were” in such a masterful and intimate way.
BTW getting a shout out from Ann during “You’ve Got A Friend” was a personal thrill for this baby boomer!
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