Connect with us

Set 100 years after the female body has been legislated out of existence, and women have become extinct, this daring and satirical new play, Mankind, by the always aggressively passionate Robert O’Hara (Bootycandy, Barbecue) dives in with this compelling and complex scenario as a backdrop. How would society look and act if men, without the experience of or the interactions with a woman (or taking this one step further, a mother), took on all the roles that nature requires for continuous life. Gloria Steinem suggested once in the famous quote: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament” but playwright and director O’Hara (Bella: An American Tall Tale) suggests something very different. That men, acting stupidly and without deep consideration, might end up clinging to old rules and laws for the sake of tradition and structure, even when they don’t make sense in the here and now. That men, without women to lord over and try to control, would end up oppressing each other, because each other is all that is left. It’s clear that in this world, men, naturally, are having lots of sex with one another, but sadly, in O’Hara’s dystopian future, it’s the children who are getting fucked over the most (excuse my french, but if that word bothers you, or the continual use of the term, “dude”, this play is not for you, because both words are said, a lot). In Mankind, there are no fathers doing or even trying to nurture their boys. The two men at the center of this tale, the only two characters who have been given an actual name rather than a title or position, are void of any maternal or caring role models to help show them the way. They are left without a guiding hand towards engagement, other than the carnal pleasures of sex, money, and power. Financial gain and ego, the two largest components of masculinity and male-behaviors, sacristan in our culture, are on full testosterone display in O’Hara’s futuristic sci-fi version of life.

Mankind-02 (0011rS)_preview
Anson Mount & Bobby Moreno. Photo by Joan Marcus.

It all begins with a ridiculous and funny opening scene, one that uses repetition (to an extreme) to make a pretty clever point of the non-gayness of men having sex with men. That interaction also has more epic meaning than one could ever have imagined at the onset. This isn’t portrayed in real world method style acting, but in many ways, this first scene is as real as Mankind gets.

Jason, a young and impulsive dude, played by Bobby Moreno (MTC’s Fulfillment Center) has a confession to make to his fuck-buddy, Mark, played by Anson Mount (CSC’s Three Sisters) sleeping next to him. That even though they both were taking precautions, being on the pill, Jason finds himself pregnant with Mark’s baby. How did this happens in this new world? Well, that’s never explained, we just have to take it on faith, much like the immaculate conception is believed by Christians worldwide. It just is, and this parallel is exacting, as this play is about the creation of religion as much as anything. Getting rid of it, as suggested by the older and cooler-minded Mark, turns out to be not as easy as Steinem or any of us would first imagine in a society where only men exist. In this new world order, all the others represent oppressive characters of structure or extremists and, just like the impressive but wobbly set, inventively designed by Clint Ramos (Once On This Island) with a strong visual style by lighting designer, Alex Jainchill (Old Times/Assoc. Design) and video projections by Jeff Sugg (Sweat), they are parts of a larger authoritarian machine going by the name of ‘World Power Authority’.

Mankind-06 (0214rS)_preview
André De Shields. Photo by Joan Marcus.

There is a Detective (Ariel Shafir), an Attorney (André De Shields), a Warden (Stephen Schnetzer), and an OBGYN (David Ryan Smith) to name a few. There are fathers: Mark’s father played by Schnetzer (Oslo) and Jason’s, played by De Shields (CSC’s As You Like It) who materialize when least needed. And there is Bob and Bob, two disconnected and wildly exaggerated hosts of a Hunger Game-esque talk show, simply called “The Bob and Bob Show” played oddly and ridiculously by Shafir (Rattlesnake’s Medea in Jerusalem) and Smith (Broadway’s Passing Strange). It reminded me of Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) in ‘The Fifth Element’. But sillier. For no apparent reason.

Mankind-09 (0059rS)_preview
André De Shields, Anson Mount & Stephen Schnetzer. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Once the cultish Feminists take hold (it’s a bit too complicated to describe the how and why here, and to be honest, in that absurdity of creationism is where the fun, if any, can be found), the exaggerated becomes convoluted, guided with an all-over-the-map hand by director O’Hara and visually extended by the costumes designed by Ded M. Ayite (Signature’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train). The one moment in the second act that actually feels emotionally valid is when Jason and Mark finally have an emotionally relevant conversation about sex and the ‘first time’.  It’s a beautiful and telling exchange, that brings them closer, while also bringing us into their world for one moment. It humanizes the satirical, and for me, makes the outrageousness around them more meaningful and engaging.

Mankind-07 (0574rS)_preview
Ariel Shafir, Anson Mount, Bobby Moreno & David Ryan Smith. Photo by Joan Marcus.

There are a number of interesting concepts thrown out at us, and if they connect, you might catch hold of it for the quick moment it is played with. But don’t expect it to be dissected too much.  The ideas of: taking text out of context and creating doctrine that can be warped in a way to be used for violence and oppression; removing difficult passages and ignoring the illogical in order to make a religion more palpable and easier to take in; the wealth that religion can create for the leaders; and the gender stereotypes adopted and their impact on others. They are all presented for moments here and there, along with many other fascinating detours of thought and theology.  If that all sounds like a lot being thrown your way, you’re absolutely right, it is. And each scene takes you one or two steps deeper into a huge and complex puzzle satirizing religion, cult culture, feminism, historical and patriarchal authoritarianism, and so much more. If only O’Hara had dug down deep in just one of these compelling topics of the day, especially in the way it could parallel our current state of affairs, a more focused piece could have been created. The end scene, while layering gender stereotypes and the insanity of religious belief structures, also is trying to present hope as well. But as is, Mankind is too idea-heavy and cloudy to see anything clearly. It is a progressively outrageous satire that blossoms into a convoluted mess of ‘hot topics’ easily lampooned out at us with no deeper analysis than the simplistic idea that men are dopey and foolish when it comes down to all of this. And that they eventually will take the easy route, just like O’Hara has in his direction and writing. At the end of this journey, we find ourselves even more lost and confused as before.

Mankind-15 (0351rS)_preview
Anson Mount & Bobby Moreno. 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

Broadway

Drama Desk Awards Backstage In The Press Room

Published

on

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

 

Continue Reading

Broadway

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

Published

on

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

Jeff Kuperman and Rick 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

Leslie Kritzer

Miriam Silverman

Andrew R. Butler

Pat Swinney Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment with Juliana Canfield

Juliana Canfield

Enver Chakartash

Robert Pickens and Katie Geil

Will Butler

David Adjmi

Daisy Prince

Debra Messing

Lena Hall

Debra Messing

Nikki M. James

Michael Stuhlbarg

Paul Tazewell

Camille A. Brown

Marin Ireland

How To Dance in Ohio-Liz Weber, Jeremy Wein, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Nicole D’Angelo and Becky Leifman

Jacob Karr

Dylis Croman and Robert Montano

Eli Gelb

Walter Trarbach

Steven Valentine

Peter Charney and Brendan George

Rebecca Frecknall

Lady Irene Gandy

Timo Andres

 

Continue Reading

Broadway

The 2024 Winner’s Of The Drama Desk Awards With Interviews

Published

on

Photo Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

The 2024 Drama Desk Awards were a star-studded ceremony at NYU Skirball Center co-hosted by Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit. This is the only major NYC theater awards for which Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway productions are considered in the same categories. Two recipients in each of the gender-free performance categories were announced and in some categories not only were their ties but three winners selected.

The winners are:

Outstanding Play: Stereophonic, by David Adjmi, Playwrights Horizons

Outstanding Musical: Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Revival of a Play: Appropriate, Second Stage Theater

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Classic Stage Company


Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play:
Jessica Lange, Mother Play, Second Stage Theater

and Sarah Paulson, Appropriate, Second Stage Theater

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical: Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses, Atlantic Theater Company, Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen and Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses, Atlantic Theater Company


Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play:
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play, Second Stage Theater and Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical: Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen and Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club


Outstanding Direction of a Play:
Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons


Outstanding Direction of a Musical:
Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants

Outstanding Choreography: Justin Peck, Illinoise, Park Avenue Armory


Outstanding Music:
Shaina Taub, Suffs

Outstanding Lyrics: David Yazbek and Erik Della Penna, Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Book of a Musical: Itamar Moses, Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Orchestrations: Marco Paguia, Buena Vista Social Club, Atlantic Theater Company


Outstanding Music in a Play:
Will Butler, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons

Outstanding Revue: Amid Falling Walls, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play: David Zinn, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical: Paul Tate DePoo III, The Great Gatsby (includes projections)


Outstanding Costume Design of a Play:
Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons


Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical:
Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play: Jane Cox, Appropriate, Second Stage Theater


Outstanding Lighting Design of a Musical:
Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim (projections), The Outsiders

Outstanding Projection and Video Design: Peter Nigrini,Hell’s Kitc

Outstanding Sound Design of a Play: Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons


Outstanding Sound Design of a Musical:
Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Cody Spencer, The Outsiders and Walter Trarbach, Water for Elephants


Outstanding Wig and Hair:
Nikiya Mathis, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Manhattan Theatre Club


Outstanding Solo Performance:
Patrick Page, All the Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented the Villain

Unique Theatrical Experience: Grenfell: in the words of survivors, St. Ann’s Warehouse, National Theatre, and KPPL Productions

Outstanding Fight Choreography: Cha Ramos, Water for Elephants

Outstanding Adaptation: An Enemy of the People, by Amy Herzog


Outstanding Puppetry:
Ray Wetmore, JR Goodman, and Camille Labarre, Water for Elephants

SPECIAL AWARDS

Ensemble Award

The cast of Stereophonic – Will Brill, Andrew R. Butler, Juliana Canfield, Eli Gelb, Tom Pecinka, Sarah Pidgeon, and Chris Stack – who execute David Adjmi’s hypernaturalistic text with extraordinary care and precision, while also performing Will Butler’s music with the freshness and life that makes us believe we are witnessing, first-hand, the creation of a new American classic.


‘Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award

Cole Escola, who both wrote and stars in one of this season’s biggest hits Off Broadway, Oh, Mary! Following in the long legacy of queer artists who write themselves into American history, Escola’s new “gay fantasia on national themes” is a hilarious reminder of why we must continue to interrogate our past.

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL AWARDS

How to Dance in Ohio Authentic Autistic Representation Team – Sammi Cannold, Nicole D’Angelo, Becky Leifman, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Liz Weber, and Jeremy Wein  – for their steadfast support of autistic theatermakers, and their strides toward true accessibility for neurodiverse individuals both on and offstage.


Lighting designer Isabella Byrd, whose self-described technique as a “darkness designer” has earned her a cache of nominations and awards in the United States and abroad. During this season, Byrd illuminated two Broadway shows done in the round, An Enemy of the People and Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club. Off Broadway, her spotlight on quiet, small-scale stories both enchanted us in Primary Trust and mesmerized us in Infinite Life, with a parking-lot sky that marked the passage of time.


Lady Irene Gandy, for career achievement. A press agent extraordinaire for over five decades, Lady Irene has always demonstrated her passion, dedication, and love for theater. A Broadway producer and Sardi’s honoree, she is a zealous advocate for inclusion, diversity, and equity in the arts.

 

Continue Reading

Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents David Zayas Jr.

Published

on

We are so pleased to announce our guest this week is David Zayas Jr.

David Zayas Jr. is making his Off-Broadway directorial debut with Simpatico at The Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street 3rd Fl. Simpatico plays until June 29th. David most recently directed the Jesus Hopped the A Train staged reading starring Common, John Ortiz, and David Zayas. David also directed LABs 30th Anniversary and the Barn Series, which included three New Works in progress by Stephen Adly Gurgis. A Bronx Native, theater and film Director, Actor, and Photographer, David is a member of The Actors Studio’s Playwright/Directors Unit and LAByrinth Theater Company. He has directed with Planet Connections, Actors Theatre of NY, NY Theater Festival, Samuel French OOB Festival, and Chain Theatre along with award winning films in over 20 festivals.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here, fifteenth here , 16th here, 17th here and 18th here.

Continue Reading

Off Broadway

David A New Musical Opens At The AMT Theater

Published

on

David, A New Musical, with music by Al Tapper, book and lyrics by Martha Rosenblatt, Gary Glickstein, and Tapper opened yesterday at the AMT Theater. With the music direction by David Wolfson, direction and choreography by Kyle Pleasant, this show does well, on all these accounts, which is remarkable considering there are 14 in the cast. All sing and move incredibly well.

Timothy Warmen, Kenny Morris, Caleb Mathura
Photo Credit: Russ Rowland.

David is the biblical story of David of David and Goliath fame. Now King, David (Timothy Warmen) feels he is dying and wants to set his affairs in order. His son Solomon (Caleb Mathura) seems a bit too delighted and is chomping at the bit. David wants the prophet Nathan (Kenny Morris) to officiate, but Nathan is not interested. So David goes back down memory lane. Here we meet the younger version of David (Ethan Zeph), who slays the giant, because friends with King Saul’s (Danny Arnold) son Johnathan (Jacob Louchheim) and falls and marries Saul’s daughter Michal (Olivia Vadnais).

Ethan Zeph (center) and cast
Photo Credit: Russ Rowland.

In Act two David makes a deal with Achish (Jay Aubrey Jones) a Philistine, cheats on Michal, even though she gave up everything to be with him and somehow Sodom and Gomorrah gets in the picture. All through this, Nathan claims he was not really chosen by God, but by the end David is not dying …..yet and the two recognize their friendship.

Pictured: L to R: Danny Arnold, Jacob Loucheim, Ethan Zeph, Timothy Warmen and cast
Photo Credit: Russ Rowland.

There are a few things missing here, first David was known for his legendary skills as a poet, harpist, and hymnist. Saul plotted to kill David way before Michal, out of fear he would replace his sons, which he did. A chance for some real fun with Bathsheba, is null and void instead we get a seriously boring plot line and mundane songs with Michal. Also please somebody tell me why young David has brunette hair, when it is mentioned several times in text and song that he has blondish/reddish hair? Change the text or the hair.

Kenny Morris, Ethan Zeph, Timothy Warmen and cast

The reason I mention the later is what is done to perfection is the set design by James F. Fenton and the costume design by Ashley Soliman.  Though I like the  lighting design by Mary Ellen Stebbins at times the show is too dark. Sound designer Elisabeth Weinder needs to listen to the show as the sound is uneven and the drums over power at times.

The direction and choreography are impressive considering the size of the stage and the amount of people on it. I just wished the show had been cut because it is way too long at two and half hours. The audience loses focus as the show is not tight enough and has way to many songs that seem unfocused.

In reading Mr. Tapper’s extremely long bio, the fact that there is an over abundance of songs makes sense. Though catchy, many are generic. The score is inconsistent, but has some wonderful themes that if edited could really be good. A prime example of this is the opening number which is good, but does not tell us really where we are going, as David is not dying and Solomon is not going to be king for awhile, at least not according to the end of the show. A better song would have been based on the fact King David doesn’t want to be remembered as the kid with the slingshot, which he is. Now there is a clear picture of where we are going.

Curtain Call photo Genevieve Rafter Keddy

The cast also excels here especially the scenes with King David and Nathan and ones with Johnathan. All three are terrific actors with wonderful voices.

Curtain Call photo Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Kudos has to be given to he ensemble consisting of Ashley Marie Arnold, Blair Alexis Brown, Bruce Blanchard, Scott Harrison, Garland Ray, and Jodi Snyder. They sing, act and dance well.

Curtain Call photo Genevieve Rafter Keddy

While David, A New Musical, has a lot to work on, it is well done for an Off Broadway show and I wish it well.

David, A New Musical: AMT Theater, 354 W. 45th Street until July 13.

Opening Night Photo’s Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Ethan Zeph, Olivia Vadnais 

Olivia Vadnais

Ethan Zeph

Ethan Zeph, Al Tapper

Al Tapper

Timothy Warmen

Ethan Zeph, Timothy Warmen

Jacob Louchheim

Garland Ray

Garland Ray, Ashley Marie Arnold

Ashley Marie Arnold

Gary Glickstein, Al Tapper

Scott Harrison

The cast

The cast

Jay Aubrey Jones

Kenny Morris

Al Tapper, Kenny Morris

Gary Glickstein, Blair Alexis Brown, Garland Ray

Jay Aubrey Jones, Blair Alexis Brown

Blair Alexis Brown

Caleb Mathura, Jodi Snyder, Danny Arnold

Olivia Vadnais, Ashley Marie Arnold, Blair Alexis Brown

Jacob Louchheim

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 Times Square Chronicles

Times Square Chronicles