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The Directors Studio’s production of Richard Vetere’s newest work, Lady Macbeth and Her Lover, is decent. The story and its themes are so intriguing that I want everything about this production to be better.

Inspired by the lives of acclaimed poets Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Elizabeth Bishop, the story opens with poets and lovers, Corrine (Maja Wampuszyc) and Hope (Christy Escobar), making a suicide pact so they can escape their lives and be together. Corrine is unable to follow through with it, while Hope dies and becomes posthumously famous. Years later Hope’s daughter, Emily (Christy Escobar), comes to Corrine seeking her poetic advice and approval. Initially Corrine seems delusional and cold with her blunt honesty, but the truth is she just wants to be loved. Emily and Corrine become lovers and colleagues, and as Emily grows into a better poet, their relationship changes.

The first act is very much about Corrine, her cowardice and her illusions. After the first scene of the play paints Corrine in a questionable light, it is difficult to care about her desires later in the play. Just as she convinced Hope to commit suicide, she manipulates Emily to stay with her, to be her protégé and her lover. The reason Emily decides to stay is unclear, but it isn’t until the second act when Emily begins to present as a full character with desires of her own. The second act has a shift of power and conflict, which is the saving grace of the whole performance.

Brittany Vasta’s scenic design and Jennifer Fisher’s costume design are the most finished elements of the show. The set is a collection of coordinated furniture with sheer curtains that give projections life. The costumes show the passage of time and the characters’ personal transitions very clearly.

The majority of the movement feels very natural, yet Michelle Bossy’s direction lacks the edge and suspense to spotlight the complex world of the play. There are moments in which the actors sit or stand still for 5-10 minutes length of conversation. In addition to the sometimes robotic delivery of lines, this choice is problematic.

Christy Escobar (TIFF 2017’s Who We Are Now) and Maja Wampuszyc (Irena’s Vow).
PHOTO: Leah Michalos

Maja Wampuszyc feels very unnatural. Her speech has a cadence that suggests she memorized the lines in a particular way. This is unbearable because she does most of the talking. Only a handful of the moments she plays actually feel truthful – which is ironic because her character, Corrine, is so committed to truthfulness.

Christy Escobar, seems a strong actor and this comes through in a few moments of the play, yet it’s hard to see her ability when her scene partner is spitting out words like punching numbers into a calculator. In the second act, the two of them have a far better chemistry. This is likely due to the presence of conflict and a clear power shift .

Richard Vetere’s dialogue is very poetic – intriguing, beautiful and full of occasionally misguided wisdom – but the poetry often obscures the function of conversation. It is his chosen theme and inspiration that I find most captivating, and it is the exploration of this theme that fuels my desire for this work to be a thousand time better than it currently presents.

In theme, the play grapples with the complicated feelings and choices that are required to be a good poet. The scenes, and Corrine’s attitude in particular, alludes to the idea that a poet (or any artist, perhaps) requires a thorough exploration of one’s own darkness. She says, “There is something rich and wicked in digging deep into places the majority of people don’t want to think about.” She then attests that Hope, Emily’s genius-of-a-poet mother, was a failure of a human being because she chose to be a poet first. Corrine then begs Emily to dig deep inside herself in order to become a better poet, as if she cannot be good otherwise. I do not contend that the exploration of personal darkness can be a choice, nor that it can be mined for creativity and yield great artistic work. However, the circumstances of this play do not comment on or allude to the mental illnesses or physiological traumas that often accompany the struggles that brilliant artists have experienced in their lives. Considering the lives of the great poets this work is inspired by, this neglect seems a grave error.

The exploration of this subject matter is very gripping and bothersome – which is why I want Lady Macbeth and Her Lover to improve toward greatness. Work that causes me to ruminate over the existential struggles of artists is worth perfecting.

Lady Macbeth and Her Lover, The Directors Studio at The Directors Company, 311 West 43rd Street, Suite 409. Closes November 19th.

Virginia Jimenez is a writer, dancer and teaching artist in New York City. She teaches for various companies focusing on dancing for musical theatre, ballroom dancing, theatrical skills and story building. Bringing arts education to students in NYC is incredibly rewarding for her because she is passionate about arts integration and using the arts to facilitate an emotional education. As a writer, Virginia believes in the power of words and stories to challenge and encourage audiences to seek growth and modes of expression. She likes tequila and ice cream - though not necessarily together. www.vmjimenez.com

Events

Team USA Olympic & Paralympic Athletes Light Up the Empire State Building for 100-Day Countdown

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Red, white and blue came together in the most thrilling way on April 17 when the Empire State Building hosted a lighting ceremony with Team USA Olympians and Paralympians including Evita Griskenas, Kaleo Kanahele Maclay, Jessica Long, Nick Mayhugh, Blake Haxton, Daniela Moroz, Hans Henken, Cheryl Reeve, and Matthew Stutzman.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 17: Evita Griskenas attends as U.S.A. Olympians and Paralympians Light the Empire State Building to Mark 100 Days Out from the Olympics at The Empire State Building on April 17, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust)

The Empire State Building hosted a lighting ceremony with Team USA Olympians and Paralympians including Evita Griskenas, Kaleo Kanahele Maclay, Jessica Long, Nick Mayhugh, Blake Haxton, Daniela Moroz, Hans Henken, Cheryl Reeve, and Matthew Stutzman who flipped the famous light switch.

Tonight the grand landmark will shine in America’s colors and will sparkle to celebrate the 100-Day countdown to the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place in Paris.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 17: Matthew Stutzman attends as U.S.A. Olympians and Paralympians Light the Empire State Building to Mark 100 Days Out from the Olympics at The Empire State Building on April 17, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust)

After the ceremony, the athletes toured the Observatory Experience – which was recently named the #1 attraction in the U.S. in Tripadvisor’s 2023 Travelers’ Choice “Best of the Best” for the second consecutive year – and posed for photos on the building’s 86th floor and 102nd floor Observatories.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 17: (L-R) Hans Henken, Matthew Stutzman, Daniela Moroz, Evita Griskenas, Jessica Long, Kaleo Kanahele Maclay, Gene Sykes, Blake Haxton, Nick Mayhugh, and Cheryl Reeve attend as U.S.A. Olympians and Paralympians Light the Empire State Building to Mark 100 Days Out from the Olympics at The Empire State Building on April 17, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust)

Founded in 1894, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. The USOPC is focused on protecting, supporting and empowering America’s athletes, and is responsible for fielding U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, and serving as the steward of the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the U.S. For more information, visit TeamUSA.com.

 

 

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Cabaret

My View: Dick Robinson’s Birthday Continues at 54 Below with Marilyn Maye

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Marilyn Maye (96) and Dick Robinson (86), a decade apart in age… both have a youthful exuberance for the music and performance of The Great American Songbook. The Songbook is played on Robinson’s Legends Radio stations worldwide ‘round the clock’ and Marilyn is singing it around the country in nightclubs and concert halls.

The “old jock”, as Dick is affectionately referred to may not be able to do that Marilyn Maye kick when she sings “IT’S TODAY” but he sure was swinging along with the rest of us last night at 54 Below. Dick was celebrating his 86th birthday while watching Marvelous 96 year old Marilyn celebrate her Birthday Month with another phenomenal show.

MARILYN MAYE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DICK ROBINSON

DICK ROBINSON & SALLY ROBINSON

DICK & SALLY ROBINSON, MARILYN MAYE

MARILYN MAYE

TEDD FIRTH & MARILYN MAYE

MARILYN MAYE

MARILYN MAYE

MARILYN MAYE

MARILYN MAYE

JIMMY, MISSY,JILL ROBINSON & ROB RUSSELL

DICK & SALLY ROBINSON

JILL ROBINSON, MISSY ROBINSON, EDA SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

My View: Dick Robinson & Family Celebrate at Cafe Carlyle With Peter Cincotti

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Cafe Carlyle, a preeminent location in the world of Cabaret was visited by a preeminent figure in the world of radio broadcasting last night.  Dick Robinson, founder of The Society For The Preservation of The Great American Songbook (SPGAS) and Legends Radio (WLML) was in the house for a performance by Peter Cincotti, who is in the midst of a residency in the historic Woody Allen Monday spot.

Bobby Short began his residency at Cafe Carlyle in 1968, Woody Allen in 1997, and Steve Tyrell in 2005.  Now it’s   Peter Cincotti in the legendary hotel exhibiting the exciting pianistic and vocal style (with his killer band) that have made Cincotti a world famous songwriter and entertainer….. and Dick Robinson was there to enjoy the show with family and friends celebrating “the old jocks” birthday!

Singer, Pianist, Composer, Cincotti was recently awarded SPGAS’s “Legend Award” at their annual Gala held at The Kravis Center For The Performing Arts.

DICK ROBINSON & SALLY ROBINSON

PETER CINCOTTI

Jimmy Robinson, Jill Robinson, Eda Sorokoff, Stephen Sorokoff, Dick Robinson, Sally Robinson, Missy Robinson

ROB RUSSELL, STEPHEN SOROKOFF, PETER CINCOTTI, EDA SOROKOFF, DICK ROBINSON, SALLY ROBINSON, MISSY ROBINSON, JILL ROBINSON, JIMMY ROBINSON

PETER CINCOTTI

PETER CINCOTTI

PETER CINCOTTI

PETER CINCOTTI

CAFE CARLYLE

CAFE CARLYLE

PETER CINCOTTI, SCOTT KREITZER, JOE NERO, TONY GLAUSI, COLE DAVIS

STEPHEN SOROKOFF, EDA SOROKOFF, MISSY ROBINSON, JILL ROBINSON, ROB RUSSELL, JIMMY ROBINSON, DICK ROBINSON, SALLY ROBINSON

MISSY ROBINSON & JILL ROBINSON

MISSY ROBINSON & EDA SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

My View: Dr. Perrin Blank Makes His Cafe Centro Debut

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Dr. Perrin Blank, celebrity Dentist “filled” (no pun intended)  the Cafe Centro music room last night with friends, fans and probably some patients who came to hear this Palm Beach legend’s cabaret performance. It was Perrin this time who opened his mouth wide and sang a great curated song list accompanied by the extraordinary musical duo Maycol & Lilian, (who perform weekly at Cafe Centro). That old borscht belt saying “don’t give up your day job” does not apply to Dr. Blank.  Perrin created a wonderful evening of musical fun as he “pulled out” all the stops during his entertaining show.

PERRIN BLANK

PERRIN BLANK

MAYCOL

LILIAN & MYCOL

 

PERRIN BLANK & STEPHEN SOROKOFF

CAFE CENTRO

PERRIN BLANK

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Cabaret

My View: The Wick Goes For The Perfect “Trifecta” With Easter Brunch and HUGH PANARO

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Well, what more can I say about this extraordinary 10th Anniversary Weekend at The Wick? My wife Eda and I feel like it was prom weekend and are now “officially” exhausted, having experienced true theatrical joy and beautifully curated music, giving us a Broadway “fix” of the highest caliber.

Three days of pure bliss! Friday night, Hugh Panaro opened his new show MAN WITHOUT A MASK and he received 3 well deserved standing ovations. Saturday night was the 10th Anniversary Gala for The WICK and I shared with you what that was like.

Today, Marilynn Wick threw an easter Brunch in that beautiful immersive room and Mr. Panaro performed his final show, so beautifully crafted, with Musical Director Joseph Thalken at the keys and Jamie Ousley on bass. The arrangements so startling, moving and melodic, as each song called for its own nuances.

Marilynn Wick took to the stage to talk about the weekend, welcome everyone and then asked Hugh’s Director, Richard Jay-Alexander, to the stage. From there, the emotions got more and more palpable. To hear him thank Marilynn and getting emotional talking about how he feels about Hugh and his talents, put a lump in everyone’s throat and we were off to the races!

To have a weekend about a beloved theatre and beloved star and three solid days and nights of excitement is something that won’t soon be forgotten by any of us who were there.

Bravo to EVERYONE at The WICK!

MARILLYNN WICK & RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER

HUGH PANARO & MARILYNN WICK

JOSEPH THALKEN, HUGH PANARO, RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, JAMIE OUSLEY

HUGH PANARO

HUGH PANARO & JULIA SURIANO

HUGH PANARO

EDA SOROKOFF & MARILYNN WICK

OUR TABLE

KAREN DONNELLY & EDA SOROKOFF

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER & LEE ROY REAMS

JANICE HAMILTON, auctioneer

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