At the Vineyard Theatre John J. Caswell, Jr.’s Scene Partners directed by Rachel Chavkin. The show stars Dianne Wiest, Eric Berryman, Johanna Day, Josh Hamilton, Carmen M. Herlihy and Kristen Sieh. Taking place in the winter, 1985. 75-year-old Meryl ditches ice-cold Milwaukee for sunny Los Angeles, hell-bent on becoming a movie star. She’s got big dreams, a little money, and a whole lot of nerve. But will the world ever know her for who she really is?
Also recently opened is Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at the West End Theatre. Directed by Eric Tucker, starring Alan Altschuler, Lisa Birnbaum, Shaun Taylor Corbett, Caroline Grogan, Deychen Volino-Gyetsa, Mike Labbadia, Arash Mokhtar, Randolph Curtis Rand, Jamie “Smitty” Smithson, Zuzanna Szadkowski, Devin Vega and Elan Zafir.Tom Stoppard examines events at an English country home in 1809 and in the present day. Mathematics, romance, Lord Byron and other ideas and feelings contribute to the goings-on in the past, as two academics attempt to unravel them in the present.
Opening tonight at the Lucille Lortel Theatre John Patrick Shanley’s Danny And The Deep Blue Sea. Directed by Jeff Ward staring Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott. Follow two desperate people in the Bronx, Danny and Roberta, as they walk the line between destruction and transcendence.
Opening last night at MCC Theater Space / Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater Walk On Through: Confessions Of A Museum Novice. Book, music, and lyrics are by Gavin Creel and the show stars Creel, Sasha Allen, Madeline Benson, Chris Peters, Ryan Vasquez and Scott Wasserman. Directed by Linda Goodrich.
On November 15th at the Connelly Theatre A Good Day T Me Not To You, directed by Lee Sunday Evans and starring playwright Lameece Issaq. A dental lab tech in her 40’s who has been fired and lost her apartment moves into St. Agnes Residence, a woman’s house run by nuns. While there, she grapples with her unreached goal of motherhood and her struggles with fertility, as well as the death of her sister.
On November 19th Alicia Keys musical Hell’s Kitchen opens at the Public Theater/Newman Theater. Book by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Michael Greif this show stars Shoshana Bean, Chad Carstarphen, Rein Clarke, Chloe Davis, Nico DeJesus, Brandon Victor Dixon, Timothy L. Edwards, Badia Farha, Vanessa Ferguson, Crystal Monee Hall, Gianna Harris, Chris Lee, Jackie Leon, Kecia Lewis, Raechelle Manalo, Maleah Joi Moon, Onyxx Noel, Sarah Parker, William Roberson, Niki Saludez, Mariand Torres, Donna Vivino and Lamont Walker II. In a cramped apartment hanging off the side of Times Square, 17-year-old Ali is desperate to get her piece of the New York dream. Ali’s mother is just as determined to protect her daughter from the same mistakes she made. When Ali falls for a talented young drummer, both mother and daughter must face hard truths about race, defiance, and growing up. Ali feels trapped, until the sound of a neighbor playing piano opens the door to an unexpected friendship and a radically different future.
Also November 19th, at New World Stages – Stage III Mind Mangler created by Mischiief Theatre. Directed by Hannah Sharkey starring Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer. The Mind Mangler returns to the stage following a disappointing two-night run at the Luton Holiday Inn Conference Centre. His new solo spectacular is predicted to spiral into chaos as he attempts to read your mind.
I am so looking forward to November 20th and Michael John LaChiusa’s The Garden of Anuncia at Lincoln Center Theater @ Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Directed by Graciela Daniele, starring Enrique Acevedo, Andréa Burns, Eden Espinosa, Priscilla Lopez, Tally Sessions, Mary Testa and Kalyn West. Anuncia tends the garden of her country house as she reflects on her life, looking back on her girlhood in Juan Perón’s Argentina and paying homage to the family of women whose love and sacrifices allowed her to become an artist.
At the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene on November 20th Avram Mlotek and Zalmen Mlotek Amid Falling Walls. Directed by Motl Didner and starring Steven Skybell, Abby Goldfarb, Avram Mlotek and Daniella Rabbani. A new musical that tells the story of the perseverance of the Jewish spirit during the Holocaust as expressed through Yiddish song. Amid Falling Walls (Tsvishn Falndike Vent) features material written and performed in ghettos, cabarets, partisan encampments in the forests, concentration camps and clandestine theaters. Amid Falling Walls includes first hand testimony of Holocaust survivors through their own poetry and music. Although many of the young men and women in their 20s and 30s who created this remarkable work were murdered during World War II, their songs are brought to life in this theatrical production, the first of its kind: telling the authentic story of resistance and hope through the words and music of those who were there.
On November 24, at the Ruth Stage / Theatre One @ Theatre Row James McLure’s Lone Star. Directed by Joe Rosario. Starring Ana Isabelle, Matt de Rogatis, Ryan McCartan and Barton Cowperthwaite. A dark comedy, Lone Star, takes place in the cluttered back yard of a small town Texas bar. Roy, a brawny macho type, is back in town, battling symptoms of PTSD, after a hitch in Vietnam. Joined by his younger brother Ray, this hilarious and poignant study of a pair of Texas “good ole boys” explores the depths of brotherhood and the scars to be dealt with from battles fought at home and abroad.
On November 28 at the Merchant’s House Museum A Christmas Carol. Playwrights are Rhonda Dodd, John Kevin Jones. Dodd directs, Jones stars.
Finishing off the month Jen Silverman’s Spain at Second Stage Theatre/Tony Kiser Theatre. Directed by Tyne Rafaeli, starring Andrew Burnap, Marin Ireland, Zachary James, Erik Lochtefeld and Danny Wolohan. Step into a sophisticated, slippery world where the line between truth and fiction is all in the packaging. It’s 1936, and a pair of passionate filmmakers have landed their next big project: a sweeping Spanish Civil War film with the potential to change American hearts and minds. It just happens to be bankrolled by the KGB.
Also on the 30th Elizabeth Coplan’s Til Death at Theatre 5 @ Theatre Row. Directed by Chad Austin, starring
Judy Kaye, Robert Cuccioli, Michael Lee Brown, Whitney Morse, Dominick LaRuffa Jr. and Amy Hargreaves. One mother’s choice unveils a family’s long-buried secrets. As Mary’s life-altering decision sends shockwaves through her loving-but-turbulent family, they all must confront their past, reconcile the present, and pick up the missing pieces in the process.
Another 30th entree is The Jerusalem Syndrome at the York Theatre Company @ The Theater At St. Jean’s. Book and Lyrics by Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman, music by Kyle Rosen, directed by Don Stephenson. The show stars Farah Alvin, Dana Costello , Scott Cote, Andrea Fleming, James D. Gish, Alan H. Green, Danielle Lee James, John Jellison, Josh Lamon, Garrett Long, Karen Murphy, Jeffrey Schechter, Jennifer Smith, Chandler Sinks, Pablo Torres, Curtis Wiley, Lenny Wolpe and Laura Woyasz. The Jerusalem Syndrome explores a real-life psychological malady that causes tourists in Israel—over 200 every year!—to suffer mental breakdowns and suddenly come to believe that they are characters from the Bible. Meet an inept tour guide who turns into Moses, a professor in a troubled marriage who thinks she’s Abraham’s wife Sarah, and a resort tycoon with daddy issues who might be Jesus…not to mention multiple Virgin Marys and the Lord Herself.
On December 5th at the Public Theater/Anspacher Theater Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Manhattan. Directed by Laurie Woolery, starring Rainbow Dickerson, Elizabeth Frances, David Kelly, Jeffrey King, Enrico Nassi, Jessica Ranville, Joe Tapper, Sheila Tousey and Rex Young. A gripping journey from the fur trade of the 1600s to the stock trade of today, Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Manahatta tells the story of Jane Snake, a brilliant young Native American woman with a Stanford MBA. Jane reconnects with her ancestral Lenape homeland, known as Manahatta, when she moves from Oklahoma to New York for a banking job just before the 2008 financial meltdown. Jane’s struggle to reconcile her new life with the expectations and traditions of her family and Nation are powerfully interwoven with the heartbreaking history of the Delaware Nation’s expulsion from their land. Both old and new Manahatta converge in a lesson about the dangers of living in a society where there’s no such thing as enough.
In her own one women show Rachel Bloom Opens in Death, Let Me Do My Show at the Orpheum Theatre. From the co-creator and star of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” comes a one woman musical comedy that is definitely NOT about the ever-present spectre of death. Rachel Bloom’s new show is filled with raunchy and escapist material that will in NO way explore the pandemic and all the tumultuous events that ensued in her personal life. NOTHING will stop Rachel from partying like it’s 2019!
On December 11th Sandra Tsing Loh’s Madwomen Of The West at the Actors Temple Theatre Directed by Thomas Caruso and starring Caroline Aaron, Brooke Adams, Marilu Henner, and Melanie Mayron. Welcome to Jules’ stunning Brentwood mansion, where hangry (she’s on a sugar cleanse) Marilyn is throwing a surprise birthday brunch for Claudia, who hates birthdays. Champagne corks pop—and tempers flare—when their long-estranged celebrity friend Zoey crashes the party, fresh from her TED Talks.
On December 13th at the Atlantic Theater Company / Linda Gross Theater Buena Vista Social Club. This new musical has a book by Marco Ramirez, music and lyrics by Buena Vista Social Club and is directed by Saheem Ali.
The show stars Skizzo Arnedilla, Renesito Avich, Natalie Belcon, Angélica Beliard, Kenya Browne, Danaya Esperanza, Carlos Sanchez Falú, Jared Machado, Hector Juan Maisonet, Ilda Mason, Marielys Molina, Julio Monge, Leonardo Reyna, Mel Semé, Olly Sholotan, Jainardo Batista Sterling, Nancy Ticotin and Luis Vega.
Finishing off the year Tennessee Williams’s The Night Of The Iguana at Irene Diamond Stage @ The Pershing Square Signature Center. Directed by Emily Mann starring Tim Daly, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Lea DeLaria, Austin Pendleton, Jean Lichty, Carmen Berkeley, Eliud Kauffman, Keith Randolph Smith, Bradley James Tejeda and Dan Teixeira. A defrocked clergyman encounters inside disturbances amid outside disturbances at the Costa Verde Hotel in Acapulco as the world prepares for World War II. After four women of different ages and backgrounds, along with a 97-year-old poet, engage in the clergyman’s spiritual struggles, their lives leap dramatically forward.
Ruth Stage’s “Lone Star” Guzzles Down Edgeless Revelations and Trauma at Theatre Row NYC
By Dennis W
Hey, grab yourself a six-pack and head out to Angel’s Bar (at NYC’s Theatre Row) where Ray, Roy, Cletis, and Elizabeth will meet you in the backyard. It’s just a place to hang out, where tired old lawn furniture and a few milk crates hiding in the scrub go before they retire to the junk pile. It’s the early 1970s, and there isn’t much to do in the backwater town of Maynard, Texas, as a matter of fact, the town almost disappeared not too long ago.
The main players, Roy and Ray, in Ruth Stage’s Lone Starwritten by James McLure (Original Adaption by Ruth Stage) seem to be the brothers. They exist here, living out a dark comedy about a psychological casualty of war who comes home. It begins with a substantial monologue and mini-concert by Roy’s wife, Elizabeth, played by Ana Isabelle (Off-Broadway’s I Like It Like That). She is trying to save her marriage to her high school sweetheart, a former soldier who came home from Vietnam two years ago and suffers from PTSD (which was not even acknowledged by the military until the 1980s). Isabelle gives an adequate performance but it feels very odd that she is alone on stage talking about how her husband’s condition has and is affecting her, him, their life together, their family, and their strained marriage. What’s odd is that when she’s finished she leaves, not to be seen again, until just before the final curtain.
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Have You Begun Dreaming of It Yet? (PART I)
What else – White Christmas, of course!
December is jampacked with great entertainment, so I hope you’re caught up on your shopping, because there are lots of treats for you this month. Here’s a stockingful of events that you shouldn’t miss.
If you’re looking for probably the most glamorous gift of the season, drop by Doyle Galleries to at least look at The Ellin and Irving Berlin Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Bidding is estimated to begin at $200,000 at the December 14th auction.
Jason Henderson kicked off the month reprising his highly acclaimed latest venture, Getting to Noël You at Don’t Tell Mama on the 4th. If you missed this evening, don’t worry – he’s back by popular demand—same time, same location—on January 24th and February 11th. It’s quite a curious and fast-paced ride he takes us on, and it’s one not to be missed.
The York Theatre has delivered a mitzvah–just in time for Christmas. Billed as a Musical Comedy of Biblical Proportions, The Jerusalem Syndrome certainly lived up to expectations. You must see it to discover the meaning of the title, which is fact, not fiction.
While this has been in development for several years, the skilled midwifery of the York brought forth a little bundle of joy that had the audience laughing at its humor and touched by its message. Sensitive to the current Middle East conflict, the York bravely went ahead with the project, which affords everyone a chance to marvel and understand the miracle that is Israel.
It’s running through the end of the year—visit the York website https://yorktheatre.org for more info.
Urban Stages has announced its “2023 Winter Rhythms” series, the award-winning music festival at Urban Stages Theater (259 West 30th Street – between 7th & 8th Avenues).
It began with a gala on December 6 entitled “Nights at the Algonquin: A Celebration of The Oak Room Supper Club,” featuring many legendary cabaret performers including Natalie Douglas, Boots Maleson, Steve Ross, and Daryl Sherman. Hosted by Michael Colby (author of The Algonquin Kid), the evening began with a champagne and wine reception followed by the show at 7:30 with a post-show gathering to follow.
On Sunday, December 10 at 3pm “Created at the Algonquin: Songs from Musicals Written at The Algonquin,” featuring performances by Craig Bierko, Shana Farr, Jenn Gambatese, Anita Gillette, Jon Peterson, Steve Ross and others. The program will be directed by Sara Louise Lazarus with Michael Lavine directing the music.
As part of the festivities, Shana Farr will reprise her glorious Barbara Cook tribute on the 16th. Ice Cream,. Anyone?
Everyone’s favorite is Karen Mason, whose show Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! is one night only at Birdland at 7 pm on the 11th.
Stay tuned for Part II for Christmas romance, tradition, and good will!
T2C Talks to Patrick Olson About Emergence
Patrick Olson, is a musician-scientist and now a performer with his own show Emergence, Off-Broadway at The Pershing Square Signature Center through January 7, 2024.
T2C talked to this prolific artist to learn more about what seems more like a movement and a unique experience.
See t2C’s review here.
Emergence: Things Are Not As They Seem: Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street through January 7th. Tickets and information: emergenceshow.com
Video by Magda Katz
Off Broadway Girl Talk Madwomen of the West
Right now at the Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street is the New York premier of Sandra Tsing Loh’s Madwomen of the West. The show in a way reminded me of the 1996 play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, where celebrities joined on stage. Here you have Caroline Aaron, Brooke Adams, Marilu Henner, and Melanie Mayron, all actors who have performed on film, TV and stage. They are like long lost friends, they are so familiar.
The four have gathered together for Claudia’s (Mayron) birthday. It is being thrown at the Brentwood home of Jules (Adams) and Marilyn (Aaron) has decorated. Enter the long lost Zoey (Henner) and what you think you know about these friends, isn’t what it seems. As a matter of fact, this birthday brunch is about to turn into the brunch from hell. These Baby Boomers, are also feminists admiring Hilary Clinton and Gloria Steinem, though not always on the same side. They break the 4th wall, as they banter back and forth to themselves and to us, the audience. They confront, encourage, justify and talk about transgender, health, the horror of Trump and those “pussy hats”, sex and so much more. Think “girl-talk” to the max.
They sit on couches, as a backdrop of palm trees, and a lone piñata take center stage, thanks to set designer Christian Fleming. The play has no money, so the production is bare bones…. so they say. Everything about this show is tongue and check and is well directed by Thomas Caruso.
Each actor here shines and in an out of the way aside, each has pieces of their real selves written into the roles they play. Not having seen Aaron on stage before, I was impressed by her vocal quality and humor. Adams brings sophistication and Mayron adds that knowing, we are all in the same messed up boat. Henner will make you want that body and her sex appeal.
These women knocked down doors for the women to come, but I was surprised that the one issue they missed out on was that women are still not equal in this country. It takes 1, count it 1 state to approve this and yet plays about feminism leave this vital information out.
The show ends with “The Bitch is Back.” they sing in glee. I guess it is ok when we call ourselves that.
Madwomen of the West: The Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street through December 31.
“Stereophonic” at Playwrights Horizons Sings Solidly
It’s July 1976, in a recording studio in Sausalito, CA and we are being invited into a space that only a select few get to visit, let alone witness. This is art in the making, pure and simple, with ego and love, getting mixed and faded in through the process most musically. In Playwrights Horizons‘s magnificent new play, Stereophonic, written most delicately by David Adjmi (The Blind King Parts I and II), a band on the cusp of greatness has assembled, and they are tasked, casually and with great intent, to something magnificent and meaningful, a lasting piece of musical art, to follow up their last album that has become, over the timeframe, a breakout hit.
The play is exceptionally well framed and constructed; both musical and meandering, in the best of all possible ways, yet somewhere inside Adjmi’s engaging Stereophonicand its three-hour running time, a deeper level of contextual art formulation is unpacked quite beautifully. It saunters forward, with a complicated level of exhaustion, angst, and inspiration, unearthing something that almost defies expectations and compartmentalization. It’s a 1970s rock saga, clearly modeled on the legendary Fleetwood Mac and their dynamic backstage friction, that leans into and plays with the problematic relationships within this unnamed band as they try to create magic behind a glass wall, while also trying to fulfill their emotional needs in the confines of the studio and real life.
It’s all emotional breakups and reconciliations, with a layer of bored and sleep-deprived banter; around a broken coffee machine and the annoying reverberations of (not only) the drum. It’s electric and conflictual, playing havoc on every one of these characters’ insecure hearts, while offering up no grand solutions or final product. Stereophonic is all about the tiny details and the little frustrations that grow and become emotional cannonballs bent on destruction, leveled and defused out of an undercurrent of love and need for creation. It is incandescent in its artful construction, displaying and writing about a realm few of us can understand. It’s the agony and ecstasy that lives and sings inside the magnificent creative process of musicians, arts, singers, and writers, who hear aspects that most of us can’t understand, let alone hear or comprehend. And we have been invited in, to bear witness to its creation, in all its meticulously dull and exhausting detail. Giving light to the darkness of the process, and how art can both create and destroy those involved in its coming to life.
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