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Off Broadway

He Says: Spill: Disastrously Great Theatre

He Says: Spill: Disastrously Great Theatre
Molly McAdoo, Kelly Simpkins

Molly McAdoo, Kelly Simpkins. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

In the same way that others look at me oddly when I tell them that Come From Away, the musical currently on Broadway centered on 9/11 and the week after that terrible day, is the must-see feel good show of the spring season (Dear Evan Hansen is still my number one of the 2016/17 Broadway season), I looked at the email from Suzanna, telling me Spill, the play about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster that happened on April 20th, 2010 is a must see play of the month (sadly it closes April 2).  And she wasn’t mistaken.  It’s a deeply powerful ensemble piece, meticulously written and directed by Leigh Fondakowski (Head Writer of The Laramie Project) with an exacting attention to scientific detail without losing one bit of humanity along the way. In it’s quick and finely constructed 100 minutes, we are instructed, schooled, and lead through what happened out on that oil rig far off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico that lead to the worst drilling disaster ever.  With four or five million barrels of oil spilled into the ocean over a period of 87 days, eleven souls lost, and BP found guilty of gross negligence and reckless conduct, Fondakowski has a way of keeping us fully engaged emotionally and intellectual at every moment of this well tuned play as she dissects what happened that fateful day.


Cast of Spill. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

With the assistance of the Ensemble Studio Theatre/The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project (EST/SLOAN Project), an organization who’s purpose is to help stimulate artists to create work that explores science and technology, Spill resonates on so many different levels that exploring science and technology is just one of its many gifts.  The creative design team (scenic designer/dramaturge: Sarah Lambert; costume designer: Suzanne Chesney; lighting designer: Nick Francone; sound designer: Lee Kinney; props master: Claire Rufiange) all do spectacular work here, creating a compelling environment and tension within the confined space of the Ensemble Studio Theatre, along with the solid work from composer, Gary Grundei and video designer, David Bengali. The staging and utilization of the space is wildly creative and powerful. The excellent cast, consisting of the very talented Michael Cullen (Obie Award winning Barrow St. Theater’s Bug), Vince Gatton (David Johnston’s Candy and Dorothy), Alex Grubbs (EST’s Kentucky), Ronald Alexander Peet (La Mama’s Loveplay/Playmoney), Molly McAdoo (Ars Nova’s Cowboy Bob), Maurice McRae (The Public Theatre’s Wild with Happy), Kelly Simpkins (The Laramie Project), and Greg Steinbruner (Moises Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde), play numerous parts with skill, ease, and clarity giving us a journey that is engrossing and upsetting.  I would be hard pressed to single out anyone from this stellar cast as all give us fully formed emotionally rich characters, much like the previously mentioned Come From Away. If there is one sliver of good that can come out of an epic disaster, it’s these two pieces of theatre.  And I hope Spill has an equally long life ahead of it.

So for more, go to

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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