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He Says: MCC’s Seared Sizzles Seductively

He Says: MCC’s Seared Sizzles Seductively

The stove is fired up as the lights come up on MCC Theater’s new play, Seared, and the chef is working his magic with intense finesse, slicing and dicing the ingredients together with just the right balance and edge to achieve coordinated appeal. The genius is in the precision and the passion of the collaborators when MCC serves up this spicy and delectable treat starring the phenomenally talented Raúl Esparza (Encores! Off Center’s Road Show) as the chef god, Harry. It’s his scallops that are his delicacy, but also his downfall. They’re too tasty to recreate, and with that impossibly complicated conundrum, the struggle between the culinary arts and commerce come crashing together, particularly with the arrival of consultant Emily. Perfectly portrayed by the gorgeously clever Krysta Rodriguez (Broadway’s First Date), she’s a brilliant catalyst and a solid unfazed manager of hot tempered geniuses, who has been brought in by the financial strapped restaurant partner, Mike, played strongly and with great emotional detail by David Mason (59E59’s Trick or Treat). He needs some non-combative sanity in his life, but more importantly, he needs this enterprise that he started with his pal Harry to succeed; for him, for Harry, and for the loyal and utterly ‘pure’ waiter Rodney, deliciously portrayed by W. Tré Davis (Public’s Hamlet). But this consultation thrown seemingly haphazardly into Harry’s kitchen is not going to be added into the mix without a hot tempered fight by the chef, mainly because Harry, who holds his eccentricity close to his heart, demands a certain purity of heart and authenticity of ingredients. Or is that what this is really about, or is it some other ingredient that we will need to savor the bite for a bit to uncover?

Searedby THERESA REBECK directed by MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL OCT 03 - DEC 01, 2019
David Mason and Raúl Esparza in a scene from MCC Theater’s SEARED (photo by Joan Marcus)

As written with wildly-appealing aggression and a zest for the psychologically twisted by the strategic Theresa Rebeck (Primary Stages’ Downstairs), the escalating drama sizzles as only a play about cooking could. It’s clear and determined, although not reinventing any sort of wheel. The seasoning is exact and appealing though, with Raúl shining in a part made perfectly for his energy and intensity, It’s a surprising balancing act by one and all, feeding off the flavors given with clarity of vision and focus, thanks to the sharp-edged vision of director Moritz Von Stuelpnagel (RTC/Broadway’s Bernhardt/Hamlet written by Rebeck) who keeps the action searing forward like a well coordinated kitchen should. I’ve worked in enough restaurants in my twenty’s to know that inside the flammable tense restaurant kitchen set, designed by the equally magical Tim MacKabee (RTC’s The Last Match), with exacting costumes by Tilly Grimes (Red Bull’s The Government Inspector), strong lighting by David Weiner (LCT/Broadway’s The Great Society), and clearly flavored sound by Palmer Hefferan (Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact) the feast is ‘fired’, and the meal served, divine.

Searedby THERESA REBECK directed by MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL OCT 03 - DEC 01, 2019
Raúl Esparza, Krysta Rodriguez, and David Mason in a scene from MCC Theater’s SEARED (photo by Joan Marcus)

Every night I go to bed wishing I could cook like that.” An understandable statement made by a fan and a dreamer, one that I’m sure resonates with all spectators, theatrejunkies, wanna-be artists, and dreamers alike. The play surprises us in the end with a spectacularly well-versed assessment, delivered with spark and fire by the phenomenal Davis who has been patiently waiting in the wings for his moment to shine. And boy does grabbing hold of the reins and making us wish we could all cook just like that on stage, or more likely, that every production seen could have that same kind of sizzle. This is a particularly true sentiment, especially when you get to witness such genius creations happening right before your very eyes. Esparza has obviously trained hard for this venture, moving around the space like a true culinary professional in the kitchen, but also as an actor on that stage. It looks effortless, but we know it’s because of some finely tuned skill at work, making us believe the meal served has just happened by magic. But it’s talent, working together, with vision and focus, that makes all those flavors come together in the end.

Searedby THERESA REBECK directed by MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL OCT 03 - DEC 01, 2019
Raúl Esparza and W. Tré Davis in a scene from SEARED by THERESA REBECK directed by MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL at MCC Theater: OCT 03 – DEC 01, 2019 (photo by Joan Marcus)

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Off Broadway

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 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

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