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The set up is cute and surprisingly nuanced, even with the loudly annoying pre-show music blasting our ear drums from the moment we walk into the Helen Hayes Theatre. We have walked into this social research laboratory (of some sorty) to see Young Jean Lee’s whip smart and decidedly captivating new satirical play, Straight White Men. We are supposed to be uncomfortable we are told by our ‘Persons in Charge‘ for the evening, as it is all apart of the experimental installation laid out before us. The boisterous and aggressively engaging men that we are later introduced to are exactly what we would expect from the title, loving brothers in combat corralled by their sweet natured and politically correct father, with care in their heart and a mischievous wink in their eye, but the chaperones for the evening are anything but expected.  As instructed by playwright Lee, (LCT3’s We’re Gonna Die), Kate Bornstein (La Mama’s On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us), a gender theorist who defines herself as non-binary, and Ty Defoe (Public Studio’s Masculinity Max), a two-spirit member of the Oneida and Ojibwe nations, dance and saunter out as shiny as the curtain is behind them. They ask for our forgiveness, commenting that our needs might not have been necessarily taken into account, and give reasons that revolve around the ideas and exploration of privilege and typical acceptability. They instruct and guide us towards the rules of the game we are about to play, and that game is called Privilege, more specifically: straight white male privilege and what that means to personal drive and success. So let the glittering curtain rise, and the experimental game begin.


Bornstein and Defoe take their individual playing pieces and physically guide them delicately into their starting positions. One chooses the iron playing piece named Jake, played heroically by the wonderfully agile Josh Charles (MTC’s The Receptionist), and the other chooses the metal thimble in the form of the handsome movie star, Armie Hammer (“Call Me by Your Name“), who charmingly plays the young Drew, or more commonly named by his two brothers, ‘Shit Baby’.  Postured and placed on the board game of a family room, designed with an exacting eye for traditional suburban by Todd Rosenthal (Broadway’s This is Our Youth, St. Ann’s Nice Fish), with stereotypically perfect costumes by Suttirat Larlarb (Broadway’s Waitress), creatively solid lighting by Donald Holder (2ST’s Whorl Inside a Loop), and delicate sound design by M.I. Dogg (Public’s Here Lies Love), the cast as a whole enact the lives and loves of white men of privilege with integrity and exacting attitude. As directed with an easy playful style under the conceptual eye of Anna D. Shapiro (Broadway’s August: Osage County), the family satirical drama unfolds beautifully.  The attachments are drawn, centered around the sweet natured and loving father, Ed, played sheepishly and adoringly by Stephen Payne (Broadway’s Of Mice and Men) who is happily hosting his two visiting sons for Christmas. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and the fake Christmas tree will arrive soon, but the desire for nostalgia is all around. Standing beside his father, sharing hosting duties is the now care-giving roommate slash eldest son, Matt, played with an intelligent eye to an internalized dilemma of some sort (or not) by Paul Schneider (Jane Campion’s “Bright Star“).  All three brothers are whip smart and carry a strong connected history with each other, playfully ribbing and reminding each other of days long gone by.  The two visiting sons are successful and bright in their own particular manner, but Matt was and is the prodigy, so they say. But somewhere along the road to fulfillment he has stalled, and doesn’t seem to want to partake in the game anymore, if he ever really did. The love is solid and clearly in focus between the three siblings. They play and fight, irritating one another in the most engaging and comical manner, dancing, punching, and wrestling one another to the ground, as only brothers can do. And the father watches and smiles with glee, as this signifies attachment to a high degree.


I’m not from a family of boys, like my fellow theatre-junkie is, so I never experienced this dynamic and these kinds of interactions, but from what I am told, this aggressive style with which they attack one another is spot on perfect. I have one older sister, and we never carried on like this, but it does feel authentic and organic. And in a touching way, it feels based on pure admiration and connectivity to one another. It’s heart warming, how these four actors are portraying familial attachment, especially when they mention the mother of these sons, a woman of strong moral opinion, especially regarding privilege, duty, and place.  She is the actual creator of the game that the two visiting brothers play, and in some abstract from, the same one the two ‘Persons in Charge” are playing with these two young men.

The whole thing feels warm, wrapped in the nostalgia of Christmas and brotherly bonding, that is until Matt shows us all a tear-filled crack in the framed painting. And then, without too much warning, the board game is overturned, and each visiting brother starts to play the game a whole lot more aggressively, trying to win by figuring out Matt’s tears and motivation. Where does it fit into their personal outlook of being a straight white man among men? And what does it mean if Matt is giving up? With the father eventually joining in, the family tries to decode Matt’s stalled life as a symptom of something being wrong or something out of whack.  Jake thinks its a noble integration and thesis culminating from a Political Science project and a personal privileged revolution, while Ed thinks it’s financially (de) motivated, but Drew thinks it falls into the Psychology department of advanced psychotherapeutic need and denial. Is Matt actually quitting the game of life and privilege, or just stepping back and off the board game? I’m not sure, nor do I think anyone in that framework is quite sure what’s going on in Matt’s head, and if it’s something to be challenged or fixed. It’s up to Matt to give his input, and he’s not talking.


Directed by ANNA D. SHAPIRO


Interestingly, it’s as if the two ‘Persons in Charge‘ are from a time and place somewhere in the future, gazing at an interactive art installation framed within a museum, one that is labeled Straight White Men.  The two position their pieces and watch what the species will do with what is thrown at them, and how they will act on this level, or non-level playing field, depending on how you look at it.  It’s a research paper from the future, destined to be debated by those silver-clad space-age theorists, marveling at the oddness of these silly primates and their lack of understanding and insight.  We, as the audience, join in with these fantastical creatures, debating and discussing what this unique and exciting new play is trying to tell us.  It’s a bit obtuse and vague in the final moments, not giving us much of a formal conclusion of the study, but somewhere within the margin of error, deep in the statistics found, the idea of privilege and what it means to be Straight White Men is still churning and figuring itself out.  And I’m happy to have been an observer of the study and the playful Dance Nation moment that it gives us.

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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


Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ Is Looking For Bob Fosse



Where are the Sandahl Bergman, René Ceballos, Christopher Chadman, Vicki Frederick, John Mineo and Ann Reinking’s? They are not in Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ now playing on Broadway right now. Only Wayne Cilento, who was in the original, has become the director and  Musical stager of the show on Broadway now.

Dancin originally was created, directed, and choreographed by Bob Fosse and originally produced on Broadway in 1978. This new version holds very little of what Fosse stood for or represented.

I went to show score and someone wrote: Lots of dancin. very little Fosse. See it if You’ve never seen real Fosse. Don’t see it if You’ve seen real Fosse.

This is so true. I came to New York in 1978 and I knew most of the cast of Dancin. If you auditioned for a Fosse show, you did what was known as “Tea For Two” routine. It was the first in a round of cuts. Everyone knew the routine. It was about placement. Your arms and hands had to be a certain way, your fingers, head, legs, Fosse was about precision. This is what Casey Nicholaw, does in spades in Some Like it Hot and it is a joy to behold! Somehow Wayne Cilento has forgotten his training, because what is on stage at the Music Box is a sloppy, over indulgent mess. Only Peter John Chursin who is fabulous, Dylis Croman, Manuel Herrera and Kolton Krouse have an understanding of how a Fosse dancer moved and kept it so easily under control. For that matter why is it called Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ when this reviewer didn’t see a lot of Bob Fosse’s dancing.

Except for the costumes for “Sing, Sing Sing” they are seriously unflattering and ugly. The set list, though a lot is taken from the original is disappointing and unrecognizable. We have music supervision, orchestrations, incidental music, and vocal arrangements by Jim Abbott, music direction by Darryl Archibald and dance arrangements and additional music by David Dabbon to thank. Kirsten Childs has given the show a script that is banal. Robert Brill’s set design, Finn Ross’s projection design, go from utilitarian to stark reality.

In Act 1 we are “treated” to “Big City Mime”, that seemed more sleazy than steamy. When you watch Fosse’s “Take Off With Us” number from “All That Jazz” its erotic, not like moves in a strip joint in the 70’s 42nd Street. Also notice the precise placement of all body parts.

In this piece they did add elements of the “Snake in The Grass” number from “The Little Prince”, and the Pippin “Glory ” ‘ Manson Trio .’Also the choreography of Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall’s “Duet from My Sister Eileen” one of my favorite pieces of dance to watch. That was extremely well done by Peter John Chursin and Manuel Herrera.

Ending the first act is the crowd pleaser “Dancin Man,” but again sloppy.

Jacob Guzman, Ron Todorowski, Karli Dinardo, and Peter Chursin in Bob Fosse’s Dancin’. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

The second-act opener “Sing, Sing, Sing,” is performed very close to the original, except the female solo goes to the excellent Kolton Krouse who is a they/their. As a matter a fact most of the female solo’s are given to others. Why? During the number the marvelous Gary Seligson is on drums.

Kolton Krouse by Julieta Cervantes

Selections from Sweet Charity‘s “The Rich Man’s Frug”, “Hey Big Spender” and “I’m a Brass Band,” “From This Moment On” from the film version of “Kiss Me Kate” are included.

It was wonderful to see Fosse’s Big Deal back on the stage.

The cast also includes; Ioana Alfonso, Yeman Brown, Tony d’Alelio, Jōvan Dansberry, Karli Dinardo, Jacob Guzman, Mattie Love, Yani Marin, Nando Morland, Khori Michelle Petinaud, Ida Saki and Ron Todorowski.

I am a huge fan of choreography. My go to video’s to wind down are “Whose Got The Pain” from Damn Yankee’s, “Sing, Sing, Sing” from the original Dancin’, “Duet from My Sister Eileen,” “Lets Take a Glass Together” from Grand Hotel and “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises. When Dancing is done well, it is euphoric, but it seems lately on Broadway dancing is going freestyle and technique no longer counts. I miss the days of Bob Fosse.

Bob Fosse’s Dancin: The Music Box Theatre, 239 W 45th Street.




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Broadway’s Life of Pi Sails Strong and Magically Over From the West End




Will you join us?” This is the compelling question asked within the new Broadway adaptation of Life of Pi by an engaging young man who has just survived a trauma more intense than any of us, most likely, could imagine, let alone survive. He has wound up in a Mexican hospital room and is being asked, most insistently, to tell his story to two interested parties; a representative of the Canadian Embassy, Lulu Chen, played strongly by Kirstin Louie (PBS’s “Endeavour“), and a representative of the shipping company, Mr. Okamoto, captivatingly portrayed by Daisuke Tsuji (“Invasion“), who are not exactly on the same exact page. Or share the same interest.

Hiran Abeysekera, Mahira Kakkar, and the company of Broadway’s Life of Pi. Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Crawling out from underneath, the boy, exceptionally well played by Hiran Abeysekera (RSC’s Hamlet), tells them that his name is Pi and that he has “had a terrible trip,” which is the understatement of the Broadway season. All this, just before the stage swells and crashes forward most majestically into a world that draws us in most completely. The transformations, and I definitely mean each and everyone, are utterly magnificent and awe-inspiring, but that first one tells us so much, but not all, about the voyage we have all signed up for, pretty much in the same way that The Lion King found its way to overwhelm our senses back in the day. But this play and this production are just so much more than all that. It delivers in a way that must be seen to be believed, as the stage moves, flows, opens, and emotes in the most astounding of ways, leaving you tantalized at almost every turn.

Rajesh Bose and Hiran Abeysekera in Broadway’s Life of Pi. Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Butterflies and giraffes emerge, drawing us into a zoo so small that it can fit inside Pi’s head, as this exceptionally well-crafted production, based most lovingly on the award-winning novel by Yann Martel (Beatrice and Virgil), invites us into a visual that is outrageously tender yet profoundly beautiful. Adapted most engagingly by Lolita Chakrabarti (Red Velvet), this epic journey through the ocean is both surprisingly gorgeous in its delivery and emotionally gut-punching in its connection. We begin to see as we are instructed, and feel the way the weight and depths of the tragedy that unfolds.

A cargo ship sets out from India, filled with an assortment of wild caged animals from the zoo, alongside Pi’s tender and gloriously embodied family. Their destination is Canada, where Pi’s father, played with wise warm by Rajesh Bose (RTC’s Indian Ink), hopes to create a more safe life for the whole menagerie. They are escaping the violent unrest in their homeland, but when a storm comes somewhere in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, far from any land that might save them, the escape becomes something quite the opposite, leaving the sweet-natured sixteen-year-old boy stranded on a lifeboat with four other survivors, a hungry hyena, a broken zebra, a protective orangutan, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Sonya Venugopal, Celia Mei Rubin, and Hiran Abeysekera in Broadway’s Life of Pi. Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

The story is fantastical, and utterly hard to believe, Mr. Okamoto tells Pi. This straight-laced all-business man from Japan requires the true story, not this manufactured one. He needs to know the details of the sinking of the ship. The ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ and as directed most beautifully by the wondrously talented Max Webster (Regent’s Park’s Antigone), the “better” story that is given astounds, just like it did within the pages of the Man Booker Prize-winning book. Walking in, knowing the book, one of the most pronounced questions that floated around my curious mind was how were they going to tell this complicated tale. Would it work on the stage? Would we believe in the tale we are being told?

The simple answer is yes, most assuredly and most magically. And that, no surprise here, is due to the fine cast that has been assembled, including Brian Thomas Abraham (West End/Broadway’s Harry Potter…) as the Cook/Voice of Richard Parker; Avery Glymph (Broadway’s The Skin of Our Teeth) as Father Martin/Russian Sailor/Admiral Jackson; Mahira Kakkar (“The Blacklist“) as Nurse, Amma, Orange Juice; Salma Qarnain (off-Broadway’s Acquittal) as Mrs. Biology Kumar/Zaida Khan; Sathya Sridharan (NYTW’s An Ordinary Muslim); and Sonya Venugopal (NCT’s Annie) as Rani, as well as the others already mentioned. They bring a level of connectivity that radiates out, filling our collective hearts with understanding and love.

The emotional engagement is phenomenal in its weight and how well the tale resonates across the ocean and the stage, but none of that would work as well as it does if not for the phenomenal talent of the whole production/design team, namely; the breathtaking scenic and costume design by Tim Hatley (West End/Broadway’s Travesties), the detailed and dynamic puppet designs by Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes, the exceptionally vivid video design by Andrzej Goulding (Broadway’s & Juliet), the beautifully integrated lighting design of Tim Lutkin (West End’s Back to the Future) and the impeccable work of the sound designer Carolyn Downing (NT/PH’s Downstate). The staging morphs, expanding and contracting like living and breathing animals, unpacking environments and emotions using the magic of stagecraft, unlike anything I’ve seen before. It surprises and engages, giving you more and more moments of clarity and connection, as he dives deeper and deeper into the trauma of fear and the desire to survive.

Hiran Abeysekera and Richard Parker (Fred Davis, Scarlet Wilderink, Andrew Wilson) in Broadway’s Life of Pi. Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.

Don’t you want to know what happened to Richard Parker?” Yes, yes we do. Most definitely, as the survival tactics spin forward, on a boat that magically appears out of nowhere time and time again. We can’t look away, thanks to the strong performances enlivened by the talented crew of puppeteers; Richard Parker, Nikki Calonge, Fred Davis, Jonathan David Martin, Betsy Rosen, Celia Mei Rubin, Scarlet Wilderink, and Andrew Wilson, creating visuals that elevate and expand over and over again. The waves crash over the bow, shifting the boy, his boat, and its occupants through a hardship that is ever so emotionally overwhelming to take in. The production takes us on a journey, from the most idyllic space through a story that lands on the powerful shore of determination, tackling animalistic fear and a personal belief in self that resonates. Man, really is “the most dangerous animal in the zoo“, make no mistake about that, but Life of Pi knows exactly where to take us, and doesn’t fail us in the voyage.

Drunk on water, ” Pi unpacks his voyage of survival to those two who are needing to know, where fear can poison everything, yet can also lead a man to stand up tall to a tiger. Or a hyena. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderfully engaging Abeysekera is in the lead role, nor how magically the stage shifts and floats from one continent to another. It is one of those ‘you must see it to believe it‘ kinda theatrical events, filled to the rim with emotionally powerful moments and unbelievably telling bits of magic and wonder, enhanced most touchingly by the original music of Andrew T. Mackay. Endurance and hope are at its core, but the structuring and the visual engagement of the voyage are what truly delivers this tale onto our shore, and into our heart. Having won five Olivier Awards including Best Play in the West End, Life of Pi makes the journey over the other ocean to find its place at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway. And for that, we must stand up and all cheer, “this is my boat” as strongly as Pi does. Buy your tickets asap (try to sit in the front mezz, not the orchestra), because is one ride you want to experience. But trust me, this ship isn’t going to sink anytime soon. It’s just far too strongly built.

Broadway’s Life of Pi. For information and tickets, click here.

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T2C Talks With Rajesh Bose on Life Of Pi’s Opening Night and More



Lolita Chakrabarti’s Life Of Pi, the new drama is adapted from the novel by Yann Martel makes its Broadway debut  tonight at the Gerald Schoenfeld theatre. T2C talked with Rajesh Bose who plays Pi’s father.

Rajesh is an actor who has worked regional and Off-Broadway. He performed with The Bedlam Theatre Company in The Crucible and Pygmalion, Henry VI forNAATCO),  Against The Hillside for the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Indian Ink at the Roundabout, Oslo at St. Louis Rep, Mary Stuart at the Folger Theatre, Guards at the Taj for Capital Stage, Disgraced at Playmakers Rep, Huntington Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre winning the  Connecticut Critics Circle Award and an IRNE Nomination. The Who & The What at Gulfshore Playhouse and The Invisible Hand at the Westport Country Playhouse and Hartford TheaterWorks.

Rajesh’s film and television roles include “Quantico”, “Blue Bloods”, “Elementary”, “Blacklist”, “Damages”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Madame Secretary”, “The Good Wife”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “Criminal Minds”, the series finale of “The Sopranos”, and the Academy Award nominated film Frozen River. 

T2C wish the Life of Pi and very happy opening.

Video by Magda Katz

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