As television’s roadrunner beep-beep’s its way into our consciousness, forecasting coyote casualty, trauma, and pain inside the girls’ giggle, the tension hangs overhead like the fleshy insides of the house that heaves and creaks with an insistence that registers as something alive and demanding. Is it sinister or a much-needed required response to an off-balanced gendered power dynamic? Grey House, the new play by Levi Holloway (Haven Place; Pinocchio), plays with our fear and our processing, at least with mine, that forever wants to breathe in the energy within a play’s internal bones. It’s what makes me the theatre junkie that I am, taking on the turmoil as if it is my own, and investing in the outcome completely. Holloway finds the formula, or at least a unique framework, that throws us deep inside the creaking sleeping Grey Housethat is larger than life and holds more secrets down those stairs than anyone can imagine. Especially for those that somehow find themselves at its door in search of salvation.
The vibe is deliberate, drenched in spooky thriller tactics that forever keep us on the edge, waiting for the jolt that it keeps promising. And when the pack of young girls and one boy scamper up the stairs as if they are trying to avoid a scheduled visit from some non-existent father figure who they don’t want to see followed closely by their seemingly worn out, exhausted mother, those that are seeking shelter show up at the door, as if right on time, banging and barging their way in with the hopes that this house will deliver shelter from the storm and from the trauma that hangs on their every broken ankle move.
But who are these people anyway that live in this house? Are they the family that they first appear to be? Or are they something quite different? It’s a complicated unpacking, that takes over our inquisitive heads from that first banging in the cellar to the moment we ourselves get when we lay down our heads in the safety of our own home. It occupies our mind; this house and its inhabitants, as we almost obsessively try to put together the abstracts into a form we can understand, forever trying to see the big picture even through the thick falling snow outside and the allegories inside. Grey House, for all its complications and cracks, lingers, daring us to try to put the pieces together and make a semblance of its structuring. And derive meaning from its meandering.
The cast of girls is demonically good in their unraveling, giving forth parallels and posturings that intrigue and mystify. Each one is a masterpiece of clever complications, such as the deaf and demanding Bernie, played sharply by Millicent Simmonds (“Quiet Place“), the tight, triggered Squirrel, portrayed intensely by Colby Kipnes (WPPAC’s A Christmas Carol), the curiously constructed A1656, embodied magnificently by Alyssa Emily Marvin (Off-Broadway’s Trevor: The Musical), and, most intriguing of them all, the sharply defined Marlow, played to perfection by Sophia Anne Caruso (Broadway’s Beetlejuice). They form a Crucible union of sorts, floating together like one and the same, but with vastly different protractions, corraled together, casually, by Mama Raleigh, portrayed with the most compelling edge by Laurie Metcalf (Broadway’s Three Tall Women), giving off an energy that shatters norms and expectations within every line delivered. It’s funny and scary, filled with exhausted anger and acceptance. She’s ready for what lies ahead, on so many levels, delivered and packed magnificently in each turn of phrase delivered.
With them all living together in this house in the woods, the pack seems to be waiting for, most passively, the two troubled travelers, Max and Henry, expertly portrayed by Tatiana Maslany (Broadway’s Network) and Paul Sparks (Signature’s At Home at the Zoo), who, by accident (or fate), find themselves seeking shelter against the pain of a broken ankle and a violent snow storm that caused death to a deer and a damaged vehicle, without a friend in sight. They arrive at the unlocked door of this particularly deranged house in the woods, that, as designed most devilishly well by Scott Pask (Broadway’s Shucked), with expert lighting by Natasha Katz (Broadway’s Sweeney Todd), clever costuming by Rudy Mance (Netflix’s “Dahmer“), and a striking sound design by Tom Gibbons (West End’s Good), isn’t exactly the safe haven they might have been hoping for. Or is it an answer to an unsaid, unformed prayer, by someone or something, that lies waiting inside the house, standing right there before us, or crouched and in hiding?
As directed with comical dread and tension by Joe Mantello (Broadway’s Blackbird), the elixir of dread sits sneakily within and above the refrigerator, or outside that tall window at its side, waiting to make us flinch and jump with unease. The scares are few, but the complicated questions begin to pile up in our collective consciousness. Who, or what is that Ancient one, played hypnotically by Cyndi Coyne (Williamstown’s Hot 1 Baltimore), who keeps floating in and engaging? Is she a ghost, as described within the complicated text? Or is she something quite else? And what are we to make of that one young boy, played tenderly by Eamon Patrick O’Connell (“Mother’s Instinct“) who the others keep feeling the need to chase away as if he is the origin of their pain? I’m still not quite sure, but the games that are played by these ‘girls’ with Max bounce around within our heads as much as with Max, who is “already playing” before she even realizes it.
Maslany and the rest of these women, particularly Metcalf and Caruso, find compelling tension inside every action and reaction, slicing off the layers brilliantly as Grey House meanders around a mediation on the pain of unrevenged abuse, torture, and sexual assault. The ideas and design find unfocused realizations inside that house, as the red riddles keep tangling themselves up before our eyes, delivering metaphors and vengeance with captivating care. It falters and drags, as the snow keeps falling outside that door, but the puzzle is ever present, challenging us to peer down into the depth of hurt and hell that resides underneath, perhaps just down those stairs. Is this a purgatory stop, where the injured and abused get to stand up tall to their abusers? Or an operating table for revenge for those who have been hurt at the hands of men looking for love and approval in the innocent?
The questions will ring on and rattle around in your head for hours and days, begging to be unraveled and answered. Some will, but many don’t, as my companion and I talked into the night long after the Lyceum Theatre curtain fell on Grey House. The compelling new play doesn’t frighten as much as it haunts and infuses, demanding curious attention without really giving complete resolution to all that it tries to put forth. I was in it from the get-go, and for hours after. Grey House can feel at moments unsatisfying and bewildering, but the overall descent is worth the tension my body had to endure.
Head To The The Algonquin Hotel For Some Holiday Cheer
As we head into the holiday season, The Algonquin Hotel’s December event lineup is open to both hotel guests and New York City locals. The hotel will spread holiday cheer with a variety of festive performances, cocktails, and experiences including:
- Cocoa and Carols Happy Hour: Daily, 5-8PM, Every evening this December, all are invited to enjoy Specialty Cocoa while Christmas carols chime at the Blue Bar. Drinks will include Mexican Hot Chocolate spiked with mezcal
- KT Sullivan Cabaret: December 5th, 12th and 19th, Sullivan will perform her iconic Christmas Cabaret. As noted by The New York Times, Sullivan is a thrilling Off-Broadway performer with over eight published albums
- Rocco Dellaneve’s Rat Pack Christmas: December 7th, 14th and 21st, Rocco Dellaneve will perform iconic songs from the Rat Pack Christmas album with special inclusions of Santa with Sinatra, Rocco of the Snow, Rudolph and the Rat pack
- The Serafina’s and Broadway Vocalists: December 8th, 15th and 22nd, enjoy the high kicking – precision line dancing Christmas tradition around The Algonquin tree. The Serafina’s will be available for pictures and autographs from 6pm to 7pm, followed by special Broadway vocalists
A portion of proceeds from all events will be donated to Toys for Tots.
Beyond the December events, The Algonquin Hotel is located in a prime position nestled in the heart of Times Square and Fifth Avenue, making it the perfect launchpad for a New York City holiday experience. The hotel is a historical jewel that emphasizes the importance of making unique, storied experiences. Since its opening in 1902, The Algonquin Hotel is famous for its timeless style and desire to honor the literary and cultural elite. The distinguished Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar offer tasteful dining inclusions and curated cocktails that are sure to excite everyone.
Photo credit: The Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection
Countdown to Christmas: For The Dancer and Theatre Lover Chita Rivera
2o days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.
There are a lot of books out there this year but we highly recommend Chita: A Memoir , the critically-acclaimed book is written by the legendary Broadway icon Chita Rivera with arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Chita takes fans behind-the-scenes of all her shows and cabaret acts, she shares candid stories of her many colleagues, friends, and lovers. She speaks with empathy and hindsight of her deep associations with complicated geniuses like Fosse and Robbins, as well as with the mega-talent Liza Minnelli, with whom she co-starred in The Rink. She openly discusses her affair with Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as her marriage to Tony Mordente and her subsequent off-the-radar relationships. Chita revisits the terrible car accident that threatened to end her career as a dancer forever. Center stage to Chita’s story are John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriters and dear friends indelibly tied to her career through some of her most enduring work: Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Visit.
Chita’s love of performing began as a child in Washington, D.C., when her mother enrolled her in a local ballet school to channel her boundless energy. Still a teenager, she moved to New York to attend the School of American Ballet after an audition for George Balanchine himself and winning a scholarship. But Broadway beckoned, and by twenty she was appearing in the choruses of Golden Age shows like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can. In the latter, she received special encouragement from its star Gwen Verdon, forging a personal and professional friendship that would help shape her career. The groundbreaking West Side Story brought her into the orbit of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, and Stephen Sondheim. After Bye Bye Birdie further burnished her rising star, she reunited with Verdon and her then-husband Bob Fosse to work on the film version of Sweet Charity and the celebrated original Broadway production of Chicago.
Chita: A Memoir was published in English and Spanish and the English audio version of the Memoir was recorded by Chita. A Spanish audio version is also available.
“Chita Rivera blazed a trail where none existed so the rest of us could see a path forward. She has been part of some of the greatest musicals in the history of the form, from Anita in the trailblazing West Side Story through Claire Zachanassian in the underrated masterpiece The Visit, over 60 years later. She is a Puerto Rican Broadway icon and the original ‘triple threat.’ We’re so lucky to be alive in the same timeline as Chita Rivera.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“A frank and fascinating memoir from one of the truly great artists of the American Theater. Lots of stories … Lots of insight … and quite a few caustic statements from Chita’s alter ego, Dolores. An illuminating history and a guaranteed pleasure!” — John Kander
Broadway legend and national treasure Chita Rivera, multi-Tony Award winner, Kennedy Center honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – has taken no prisoners on stage or screen for seven decades. From her trailblazing performance as the original Anita in West Side Story—for which she tapped her own Puerto Rican roots—to her haunting 2015 star turn in The Visit. Chita has proven to be much more than just a captivating dancer, singer, and actress beloved by audiences and casts alike. In her equally captivating and one-of-a-kind memoir, Written with Patrick Pacheco, the woman born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero shares an incomparable life, both on stage and behind the curtain.
By the way this Memoir has won a Gold Medal for “Best Autobiography – English” at the 2023 International Latino Book Awards. https://www.latinobookawards.org/
Click here to buy your copy.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot
Here is the amazing cast of Spamalot. Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady of the Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/Prince Herbert, Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad and Taran Killam as Lancelot.
I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.
To read T2C’s review click here.
Ahead of the Broadway Opening of Lempicka The Longacre Theatre Is Showcasing Art Work By Tamara de Lempicka
The Longacre Theatre (220 W 48th St.), soon-to-be home of the sweeping new musical, Lempicka, is showcasing a curated selection of renowned artist Tamara de Lempicka’s most famous works. Eschewing traditional theatrical front-of-house advertising, the Longacre’s façade now boasts prints, creating a museum-quality exhibition right in the heart of Times Square. The musical opens on Broadway on April 14, 2024 at the same venue.
The Longacre’s outdoor exhibition includes works of Self Portrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) (1929), Young Girl in Green (1927), Nu Adossé I (1925), The Red Tunic (1927), The Blue Scarf (1930), The Green Turban (1930), Portrait of Marjorie Ferry (1932), Portrait of Ira P. (1930), Portrait of Romana de la Salle (1928), and Adam and Eve (1932).
Starring Eden Espinosa and directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin, Lempicka features book, lyrics, and original concept by Carson Kreitzer, book and music by Matt Gould, and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.
Spanning decades of political and personal turmoil and told through a thrilling, pop-infused score, Lempicka boldly explores the contradictions of a world in crisis, a woman ahead of her era, and an artist whose time has finally come.
Young Girl in Green painted by Tamara de Lempicka (1927). Oil on plywood.