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A multi-tiered level of conceptual thought and emotional storytelling align perfectly in Craig Lucas’s devastatingly good new play, I was Most Alive with You. It drives down a twisting and emotional road attempting to make sense out of chaos while not plunging off a cliff. It holds your hand tightly but keeps the upcoming vista out of sight just enough that the final destination remains unknown. In truth, it’s a genre play that could fit easily and strongly into the category of ‘dysfunctional family drama’ with Lucas (Prayer for My Enemy) formulating its working gears and parts of conflict under the banners of: addiction, trauma, faith, and deafness. It’s a tree of miracles, this vehicle, that is so well constructed that it drives as smooth as one could hope. The gears are frameworks for the drama, and not necessarily the ‘problem’ within, but a component in the dilemma that affects the unit. To focus on just one as the ‘issue’ would be a disservice to the overall, but faith and the structure of Belief hangs overhead, much like the shadow characters on the floor above, and the Book of Job that is weaved into the framework throughout. Faith in our unity and life within despair is the battleground, even when the powerful biblical bangs come, three in a row, one after the after, it hits like a chain reaction multi-car collision on a cold frozen highway in the middle of a stormy winter day, harshly and haphazardly from all angles. The play punches hard in an instant, blind sighting the passengers with its power and slow-motioned feel. The whiplash and striking pain is hot, but surmountable, if taken one day at a time, ushering in the only thing one can say when the lights come up for the much-needed intermission, and that one word is “WOW“.

Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks. In order to bear it we cannot dispense with palliative measures…There are perhaps three such measures: powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of such misery; substitutive satisfactions, which diminish it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensible to it.” – Sigmund Freud (quote from the intro to the play)

I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
Michael Gaston (Ash), Lisa Emery (Pleasant), Russell Harvard (Knox); and Gameela
Wright (Mariama) in background. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Opening on the first International Day of Sign Languages, Playwrights Horizons drives up to the gates with one of the most compelling and intoxicating play that I’ve seen in a while, layering one format of the play underneath another, giving fresh construction to an old adage. In the draft of the written play, Lucas writes: “created to be performed by Deaf & hearing actors for Deaf & hearing audiences. In the original productions, Shadow actors augmented the principal cast, providing ASL translations of all dialogue. Projected English translations were provided for lines performed solely in ASL. Sound cues were projected..All future productions must provide full access for hearing & Deaf audiences at all performances by whatever means chosen. A director of artistic sign language must be employed. Any production attempting to forego these conditions will be in violation of the author’s wishes as well as the licensing agreement.” This production, directed with eyes wide-open by the inventive Tyne Rafaeli (PR’s The Rape of the Sabine Women…) and the director of Artistic Sign Language (ASL), Sabrina Dennison (ASL translation for Yale U’s Twelfth Night), take this instruction very seriously, creating a cast made up of both hearing and Deaf, and with a secondary level of sign language interpreters mirroring movement and emotion on a higher level. The double-decker approach, designed with a compelling eye for emotional truth by Arnulfo Maldonado (PH’s Dance Nation), gives a dual telling for those in the audience who are either Deaf or hearing. I’m not sure how the experience for a Deaf audience member would be compared to mine, but my guess might be that it would seem complicated and jarring, and not entirely fluid and all-encompassing. The subtitles, projections by Alex Basco Koch (Barrow Street’s Buyer & Cellar), occasionally manifest themselves on numerous surfaces when signing is not reasonable, with ASL being used mostly by the upstairs shadows, but sometimes solely by those down on the main floor. I think I wouldn’t know where to look at some points on the map, and I’d get lost in the shuffle but that’s just a theory. The only comparison I can functionally attempt might be the disconnect when reading subtitles above the proscenium at the opera, with the action and actors too far below to mesh them strongly together in an instantaneous blast. I did find myself hypnotized at times by the drama going on above, which was just as dynamically palpable as what was playing out below. That being said, I would be interested to read feedback from those in the audience who were Deaf, and there seemed to be many, and by all account, they reacted just the same.

I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
I Was Most Alive with You ensemble. Photo by Joan Marcus.

In the Torah, the Book of Job, God accepts a bet proposed by Satan: “Take away all of Job’s gifts and let’s see how much he loves you.” and with that as the overall philosophic road map for I was Most Alive with You, Lucas begins his two framed journey through tragedy down a well constructed road to a resting place for the weary, somewhere close to despair without exactly falling into that abyss. Despair, it seems, if you follow the book of Lucas, is “anti-dramatic. Feeling sorry for oneself is always the wrong choice. If we ask anything of theater, it is to show how other human beings have faced insurmountable obstacles. The characters in this narrative, confronted with losses they never anticipated or wished for, must find the highest road at all times. Even a choice to end one’s life is reaching toward improvement. It cannot be otherwise.

(Now I’m only going to write this first phrase this one time, but take it as the first part of almost every opinionated sentence going forward…) As a hearing audience member, the drama unfolds with textbook accuracy and construction, leading us forward with the weight of a catastrophe laying its heavy hand on the back of the recovering addict and concerned father, Ash, portrayed deeply and empathetically by Michael Gaston (Broadway’s Lucky Guy), with Shadow Ash performing beautifully upstairs by Seth Gore (New York Deaf Theatre). It’s obvious something has shaken his stability and tightly held sobriety to the core. His writing partner, Astrid, dynamically played by Marianna Bassham (HBO’s ‘Olive Kitteridge‘) with her Shadow played by Beth Applebaum (NYDT’s Titus), is worried, and tries with all her might to settle her own self and find a shared momentum to move him forward utilizing the strength of story telling and creation to bring them both back to the here and now.  It’s a clear-cut and sure-fire theatrical approach to rectifying trauma, and as a device for restitution, it works its magic solidly, drawing us into Lucas’s dysfunctional family neatly and successfully. The structure plays a strong role in his playwriting, most emphatically when he asks: “How do we live with things we can’t change or fix or understand? What do we do with the insurmountable?  That question is what made me write this play. To touch that place in others who also confront the immovable, irreparable, inconceivable. And the inevitable.

I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
Lois Smith, Lisa Emery. Photo by Joan Marcus.

From the notes of Lucas, it’s clear that this play is a wrestling for survival from chaos and destruction. Pleasant, the perfectly named camouflaged wife of Ash, played by Lisa Emery (PH’s Marjorie Prime)/Shadow: Amelia Hensley (Deaf West/Broadway’s Spring Awakening) is almost all the bad disruption rolled up into one. She’s a drinker whose vocal assaults get louder with every sip, and a mother who refuses to use sign language with her adorable Deaf son. Pleasant is sidelined by the seemingly more compassionate units of the family, chastising her into a cocktail’d corner, ensuring that she knows she doesn’t fit.  In many ways, her continued marriage to Ash never feels truly authentic or possible, but maybe somewhere in that anger and frustration, there is a construct worth paying attention to. Maybe, she is a possible residual affliction of Ash’s 12-Step recovery and amends, using guilt and remorse against one another.  Regardless, it never feels obvious or logical why she is present. That is until it becomes clear that her role is biblically antagonistic, stirring the pot until it boils up and over the edge, especially when it comes to her Deaf son, Knox, gorgeously portrayed by the devastatingly good Russell Harvard (Barrow Street/CTG/La Jolla’s Tribes)/Shadow: Harold Foxx (Deaf West’s Our Town). It’s clear she enjoys being the problem, generally speaking, or at least has gotten comfortable in the brittle role, but the vision we see of her through the cracked rear view mirror is blurry and distorted, made more clear by her interactions with the matriarch of the lot, and her hand written self-prescribed antidote to her husband and son’s detour; both outline a more nuanced and troubled landmark on what first appeared to be an overly simplified mapped out drive.

I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
Russell Harvard, Tad Cooley. Photo by Joan Marcus.

With Knox, we are given the other spectrum. He’s the loving, sweet, and handsome gay Deaf son, grown man, and lover, who believes with all his soul in the goodness of his existence, especially when living his dream as a teacher of ASL to kids. Passionate and very appealing to all, his heart belongs, naturally, to a man who will test his faith and agreeableness as often and as tragically as possible. Farhad, the rough and tumble man, that ignites a love in Knox that “you could warm your hands by“, is portrayed with a growing strength that multiplies with each and every line spoken and signed by the fantastic Tad Cooley (Kennedy Center’s Waiting for Trees)/Shadow: Anthony Natale (Broadway/Deaf West’s Big River). He grows more solid and real with each moment, twisting and turning around on himself and others, creating an epic portrayal of love, dishonor, and restoration.

I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
(L to R) Tad Cooley (Farhad), Russell Harvard (Knox), Marianna Bassham (Astrid), Lois Smith (Carla), Michael Gaston (Ash); and Anthony Natale (Shadow Farhad) & Harold Foxx (Shadow Knox). Photo by Joan Marcus.

Not surprisingly, the family gathers for Thanksgiving (is it that time of year already? and what’s with all the holiday dinners lining up? the next PH production is literally titled, The Thanksgiving Play. too much? or exactly what we need? you decide), and attempt to give thanks for all that surround them. With simple but exacting costumes by David C. Woolard (Primary Stage’s The Roads to Home), direct and sometimes much-needed harsh lighting by Annie Wiegand (Astoria Performing Arts’ Follies), solid sound by Jane Shaw (TFANA’s Measure for Measure) and gorgeously enriching original music by Daniel Kluger (Barrow Street’s The Effect), the gathering for the festivities feels staged but deeply authentic.

Grandmother Carla, played tenderly by the always wonderful Lois Smith (TNG’s Peace for Mary Frances)/Shadow: Kalen Feeney (Deaf Spotlight’s Skin) is simply the warmest, wrapping love and understanding at every turn of a signed phrase. She is the round circle of love at the heart of this piece, sharing with the group her compassion and honesty. She also shared with the clan her caring Mariama, carefully and exactingly portrayed by the solid Gameela Wright (A.R.T.’s Halcyon Days)/Shadow: Broadway’s Director of Artistic Sign language: Children of a Lesser God) who is like a thoughtfully complex religious hug. Mariama has a tale all of her own, that flourishes and descends with a meaningful flutter and heavy heart. Faith is being served at this gathering, and reactions and misunderstandings are passed around like gravy, as they do around a Thanksgiving dinner that never actually manifests itself. Songs are sung/signed and fireworks explode, all before the harsh fluorescent lights of a collision come flickering and harsh, crashing down upon the clan, rerouting them all in ways that resonates broadly, deeply, and intensely. This is the twist in the road I didn’t see coming, or at least aspects of it, until just moments before the call. But it’s the bang that outdoes all the others, and it smacks hard.

I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
Russell Harvard, Marianna Bassham. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Act one ends with a shocking and powerful answer to the first vague question asked, but now, in Act 2, the fall-out will need to be rectified. We are teased, most beautifully with scenes of dual interaction, all intent on saving one from their own struggle with faith.  Mariama and Knox. Astrid and Ash. Farhad and Ash. They all connect and engage beautifully with a depth of honesty that shivers. Carla enacts an engagement with both of the other mothers, separately but succinctly, that brings forth a shower of understanding and acknowledgement that feels as long as a prairie highway. Much like all the visitors who come, one by one to each other’s side, the one that will stay stitched into my upholstery forever is the extremely earth shattering moment when Astrid arrives to shake Knox deep into powerlessness and illumination. The fierceness of love and ‘the spit’ and ‘the curse’ that it brings forth gives me a lump in my throat just thinking about it, not to mention the tears that cascaded down during. It’s gives Lucas a chance to shift the whole into high gear, and drives us full speed towards the harrowing creation of an ending. “What could I have done differently“, Ash asks Astrid at one point, but the answer is as complex and exonerating as the last big white-walled scene, and Astrid’s desperate question in response. That demand is the key. The biggest bang on the floor. Craig Lucas, you couldn’t and shouldn’t have done anything differently, because to change that impact, a slice of storytelling that one audience member couldn’t withstand, running out of the theatre desperately during the last act of defiance, would be damnable, as this vase of plenty is earth shatteringly great.

I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
(L to R) Marianna Bassham (Astrid), Michael Gaston (Ash), Russell Harvard (Knox), Tad Cooley (Farhad). Photo by Joan Marcus.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Events

Titanic is a Complete Musical Triumph at NYCC Encores!

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By Dennis W

Titanic sailed into New York City Center full speed ahead saved from a watery grave and stoked with a newfound energy that brought the house down. Encores! latest concert production dazzles, taking on the famed musical about the sinking of the largest, fastest ship afloat on its maiden voyage in 1912 with expert gusto. The Tony-winning 1997 musical, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Broadway’s Nine),resonates with emotion, class struggle and humanity.

The Encores! Orchestra, with Guest Music Director Rob Berman (Encores! Into the Woods), takes center stage and the spotlight delivering a phenomenal interpretation of the nuanced score. Filling the theater with a powerful rendition of Yeston’s vision, Berman’s musical direction breathes new life into the score that tells the saga of the iconic doomed “unsinkable” ship that went down with more than a 15-hundred people aboard. The audience is transported by the music to the disaster and seems locked in on every note. The 32 voices in the cast joined to present a sound that reverberated through the space creating a richness and fullness that would give you goosebumps.   After the curtain call the orchestra played as people left and when it was done the audience who was still left in the theater roared with appreciative applause. It’s no surprise that Titanic: A New Musical swept the music category at the 1997 Tony Awards winning for orchestration, score, and best musical.

The ensemble cast, in Encores! tradition, was chosen from the best and brightest Broadway has to offer. Each actor gave an amazing performance from the leads to the chorus but there were a few standouts. Ramin Karimloo ( Broadway’s Funny Girl) as Barrett gave a deft performance as the ship’s stoker. His duet with Harold Bride played by Alex Joseph Grayson (Encores!/Broadway’s Parade) is a highlight portraying a mix of emotions including love, hope, and desire while we watch the voyage come to a tragic end. Brandon Uranowitz (Broadway’s Leopoldstadt) is convincing as the tightly wound and controlling owner of the shipping line. The always astounding Bonnie Milligan (Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo) as Alice Beane adds a little comic relief as the social climbing 2nd Class passenger who is determined to hobnob with the rich and famous. Drew Gehling (Broadway’s Almost Famous) as Edgar Beane gives a noteworthy performance as the husband who can not see his wife’s vision of a new society where people are not locked in their station forever. Encores!, as always, it seems, assembled an all-star cast who together brought this production of Titanic to life.

The direction by Anne Kauffman (Encores! Assassins) is limited but interesting given the small amount of stage the actors have to work in as the orchestra is elevated on stage directly behind the action. The scenic design by Paul Tate Depot III (Broadway’s The Great Gatsby) acts as a three-dimensional backdrop that gives the impression of the famed ship, billed as the next wonder of the world, but is rarely used by the actors. The costumes designed by Márion Talán de la Rosa (Off-Broadway’s The Connector) seemed to lose the formal spirit of the early 1900s on their way to the Encores! stage. The men were basically in suits and the women’s costumes did not evoke the structure of dresses of the era which were simpler in construction and with higher hemlines.

City Center Encores! production of Titanic is a complete triumph. It relies on a magnificent score and poignant lyrics to tell the story of one of the world’s major shipping disasters that sent shock waves around the globe. The orchestra, conductor, and actors embraced the rich score giving a performance that bowed the walls and wowed the crowds packed inside the New York City Center with their intensity and magnitude. Encores! Titanic is the show to see right now, playing at the New York City Center until June 23rd. Is there a Broadway transfer in the works? We hope so.

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Events

The Musical Titanic Successfully Sails onto the Stage at City Center

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Titanic The Musical proves that the music and story does not need the special effects of a sinking ship to send the audience on an emotional journey. Twenty-five years ago when Titanic opened on Broadway, after reading headlines about the  malfunctioning unsinkable set, I skeptically went to the show; but, those first 18 minutes turned out to be the greatest opening number I had ever seen. The show is currently being performed at City Center in the Encores! Series and this score can stand alone without the trappings usually required to produce a Broadway spectacle. The opening number not only introduced us to the three focal people who each in their own way contributed to the disaster of the iceberg: Captain E.J. Smith (Chuck Cooper), Thomas Andrews (Jose Llana), J. Bruce Ismay (Brandon Uranowitz); but, also the members of all three classes aboard the ship and the crewmembers. As the 32 member cast raises their voices in beautiful harmony to cheer “Sail on, great ship Titanic” the hopes of the third class passengers, the wonder of those in first class and the pride of the crew are all felt by the audience. So moving is this song that we can suspend reality and wish that the maiden voyage of this “floating city” actually successfully makes it to New York.

This is not the Rose and Jack story that fictionalized a love story between a third and first class passenger but an even more beautiful story based on real people who either survived or were left onboard as the ship broke apart.


The music and lyrics by Maury Yeston are thrilling, cheerful, romantic and haunting. The story and book by Peter Stone who had previously done justice to the telling of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 again brings history to the stage with wit and suspense despite knowing the eventual tragedy.

Over twenty songs fill this musical score with a variety of styles and themes. Each one perfectly delivered by this amazing team of actors and singers briskly directed by Anne Kauffman. There is not a bad song in the mix nor a disappointing performer; but, in addition to that opening number I must highlight a few.

Lady’s Maid sung by the 3rd class passengers brings me to tears as three Irish lasses all named Kate start by telling their fellow travelers their dreams for America. Samantha Williams, Lilli Cooper, and Ashley Blanchet play the ‘three Kates’ and are joined by the ensemble all singing their own individual ambitions – to be a constable, engineer, and governess, etc. It fills my heart with pride that America is such a land of opportunity and then it breaks when I realize that some of these dreamers will never make it to their destination.

A pairing of two male singers, Ramin Karimloo and Alex Joseph Grayson, playing coal stoker Barrett and radio operator Bride, respectively sing two love songs one to his fiancé and one about his career choice is a magical duet where each voice is given a chance to shine.

Another example of Yeston’s genius is a song where three voices combine but certainly not in love; the ship’s owner, designer, and captain Blame each other for the inevitable sinking. It is a dramatic song that is rarely seen in such a show but too often seen in human nature.

The real life owner of Macy’s department store was actually onboard the Titanic with his wife. Chip Zien and Judy Kuhn portray the elderly Isidor and Ida Straus whose love proved even stronger than the two youngsters in the James Cameron film. Ida chose not to get on a lifeboat without her life long partner and that love is beautifully sung in their duet Still.

Love, anger, hope and desire are all represented on the stage but it is second class passenger Alice Beane that gives the tension a bit of comic relief. Wonderfully sung and acted by Bonnie Milligan, Mrs Bean dances into the first class salon and in one of the few choreographed numbers brings joy to the festivities. She and her husband Edgar (Drew Gehling) sing I Have Danced – a song that depicts the struggle of a happily married couple when ambitions are not in line.

We know the ship is going to hit the iceberg but as Matthew Scott as the ship entertainment sings the rhythmic tune Autumn coupled with the Company repeating the haunting No Moon the suspense grows as the ship sails in the night.

Anne Kauffman directs the cast seamlessly from scene to scene not only allowing the songs to tell a fantastic story but to bring out the wit and passion of Peter Stone’s words.

Rob Berman, the Encores! Music Director, again conducts this 30 piece orchestra with incredible ease despite the complicated orchestrations created by Johnathn Tunick. With every violin string, trumpet note, drum roll and cymbal clash the music envelops the huge theater yet touches every individual in it.

Encores! Began 30 years ago to honor scores that are not often revived. With minimal rehearsal time for this limited run some actors are still on book but that does not diminish either the music, story or the talent on the stage. Much has been written about the cost of producing on Broadway so a production with this many cast members and musicians may never be transferred to a Broadway theater as Encores other 2024 title, Once Upon a Mattress will be doing so do not hesitate to buy a ticket. Do not be left on the dock waving goodbye to this magnificent creation.

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Off Broadway

The Opposite Of Love A Devastating Look At Where We Are At Sexually

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Ashley Griffin (Trial)  new play The Opposite of Love, is an uncomfortable, truthful, devastating and brave play about sexual intimacy, trauma, sexual abuse, assault, suicide and the sexualized world we live in today. This piece shows how the misuse of sex has permeated our culture, our minds and our feeling. We no longer truly date or have relationships, but look to satisfy our needs with not love, but sex. When you have grown up sexually abused, without a solid family background how do you navigate this world, that your heart tells you is instinctively wrong? That is at the crux of The Opposite of Love.

Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner Photo credit: Jeremy Varner

The play follows trust fund baby Eloise (Ashley Griffin) who has been sexually compromised since she was a small child by a relative. Though not penetrated in the true sense of the word, her boundaries and trust issues have been violated. Wanting a loving, intimate romantic relationship she is ill equipped to function. Enter Will ( Danny Gardner), a male prostitute she has hired to take away her virginity. Unable to connected in any way Eloise sends Will away, but Will seeing a potential cash cow, suggests that they meet weekly to just…talk.

Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner Photo credit: Jeremy Varner

During the course of several weeks the two share the trauma’s of their lives until they finally connect and Eloise feels safe enough. We learn about both of their insecurities, their deepest wants and lies they tell the world until they both feel seen.

Intimacy director Crista Marie Jackson has allowed us to see just enough without crossing the line, but the real kudos goes to director Rachel Klein, who does not play down to us. She crafts this play with heart, soul and intelligence allowing us to go on this journey without falling completely apart with it’s honest look at where we have come to.

Ashley Griffin, as a writer has a wonderful way with words as she expresses what we all are feeling. She shows us that we are both Will and Eloise. Who we are depends on our financial circumstances and upbringing.

Griffin as an actress needs to slow down on her delivery. Her words have so much to say but we miss some of the text due to her rushing and projection. Her charactazation fares better as she takes us on the rollercoaster of this journey. You are never going to expect the ending and that is where she really shines.

Gardner’s Will is organic as we follow his transformation with anticipation. He goes from shallow cad to a broken man who has finally allowed himself to care. We see his mind work as he lies, then tells the horrors of his actions and his the trauma’s of his life, than are even more devastating than Eloise’s as he is told by society that he can not feel. In the end when he finally let’s his guard down we feel his pain and heartbreak.

Gardner, who is primarily known for his tap dancing work on Broadway’s in Dames at Sea and Flying Over Sunset, wow’s as a dramatic actor. I look forward to seeing him do more straight acting.

Griffin and Gardner have chemistry, which allows the play to go even deeper.

The scenic design by Brendan McCann and lighting by Zach Pizza, do well in such a small space and on a small budget

The Opposite of Love, could easily upset and anger those who have not come to terms with the shadows within, but if you are willing to face those devils you just might find a fabulous piece of theatre. I hope this show gets a longer run, where audiences will have a chance to experience this intimate look at the reality of where we are now. I know it is Tony season and there are only a few more performances but if you get a chance, I highly recommend this show.

The Opposite of Love: New York Rep at the Royal Family Theater (145 West 46th Street, until June 15th.

We did a Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents with Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner. Click here to see this interview and learn even more about The Opposite of Love.

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Broadway

Drama Desk Awards Backstage In The Press Room

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T2C was backstage at the Drama Desk Awards last night. Here is a look at the action.

First in the room:

Kara Young

Celia Keenan-Bolger

Celia Keenan-Bolger and Jessica Lange

Jessica Lange

Sarah Paulson

The Cast of Stereophonic-Will Brill, Sarah Pidgeon, Juliana Canfield, Andrew R. Butler, Tom Pecinka, Chris Stack and Eli Gelb

Nikiya Mathis

JR Goodman, Ray Wetmore and Camille Labarre

Nikki M. James

Patrick Page

Enver Chakartash

Paul Tazewell

Cole Escola

How to Dance in Ohio cast members that includes-Liz Weber, Jeremy Wein, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Nicole D’Angelo and Becky Leifman

Paul Tate dePoo

Avran Mlotek, Motl Didner, Dominick Balletta and Zalem Miotek

Jane Cox

Brian MacDevitt

Brian MacDevitt and Jane Cox

Isabella Byrd

Ryan Rumery

Walter Trarbach, Cody Spencer and Kai Harada

David Yazbek

Itamar Moses

Lady Irene Gandy

Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick

Nathan Lane

Will Butler

Marco Paguia

Shaina Taub

Justin Peck

Daniel Aukin

Jessica Stone

Corbin Bleu and Sarah Hyland

Andre Bishop and James Lapine

Keisha Lewis

Maleah Joi Moon, Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara

Maleah Joi Moon

Keisha Lewis and Maleah Joi Moon

Kelli O’Hara

Brian d’Arcy James

Peter Nigrini

Carole Rothman and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Amy Herzog

David Adjmi

Adam Greenfield, David Adjmi

Sarah Hyland and Debra Messing

 

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Broadway

The 2024 Winner’s Of The Drama Desk Awards The Red Carpet

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The 2024 Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced last night at NYU Skirball Center. Tony Award Winners Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit hosted the ceremony.

Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit

Aaron Tveit

Sutton Foster

T2C was on the red carpet.

Andrew Durand

Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman 

William Jackson Harper

Shaina Taub

Peter Nigrini

Kecia Lewis

Celia Keenan-Bolger

Jocelyn Bioh

Laura Benanti

Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll

Jessica Lange

Camille Labarre, Ray Wetmore and JR Goodman

Michael Starobin, Andrea Grody and Shaina Taub

Will Brill

Sarah Paulson

Richard Ridge

Sarah Hyland

Maleah Joi Moon

Patrick Paige

Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields, Maleah Joi Moon

Brian D’Arcy James

Will Keen

Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Keen

Mary Louise Burke

Isabella Byrd

Justin Peck

Kara Young

Marco Paguia

Miss New York Rachelle diStasio

Josh Breckenridge

Lorin Latarro

Ricky Ubeda

Glauco Araujo

Dorian Harewood and Nancy Harewood

Mark Williams

Brody Grant

The Cast of Stereophonic-Andrew R. Butler, Will Brill, Tom Pecinka, Juliana Canfield, Eli Gelb, Chris Stack and Sarah Pidgeon

Paige Davis and Patrick Page

James Monroe Iglehart

Sarah Pidgeon

Nikiya Mathis

Montego Glover

Cole Escola

Tom Pecinka

Chris Stack

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