WP Theater and The Bushwick Starr in association with New Georges present [PORTO] by Kate Benson. Following the structure of a romantic comedy, Kate Benson delivers a typical narrative with jaded characters in this dry, self-aware play. Director Lee Sunday Evans takes care with the ironic tone by telling the story with unique pictures.
Porto (Julia Sirna-Frest) hangs out at her usual “boushy” bar with the typical bar flies. Her attractive and won’t-eat-enough friend, Dry Sac (Leah Karpel), complains drunkenly about things that are hard to care about unless they happen to you. The moody and silent type, Doug the Bartender (Noel Joseph Allain) has an edgy rapport with all the regulars. Raphael the Waiter (Ugo Chukwu) is friendly and warm, and in search of an intelligent and witty woman. Hennepin (Jorge Cordova) is an average sort of guy, who has a lot in common with Porto. As they move through the “we met at a bar and I didn’t think I liked him/her much at first” storyline, the characters are at the mercy of the omniscient narrator (Kate Benson), who also plays the role of argumentative inner voice.The play asks the question, “If you know how it’s made, would you still eat it?” This question is encapsulated in the metaphor of sausage and the meat industry, but it is applied to romantic relationships. We know all the cruelty and pain that goes into making sausage (and other meats) – that doesn’t make us want to eat it less – just as we know the emotional risks that are involved in pursuing and creating romantic relationships, but that doesn’t make us want them less.
Kate Benson brilliantly crafts this theme into a story about a woman who desires romance, but who has also come to terms with being alone. There are several poignant moments that call out the ridiculous and occasionally contradictory things women are advised to do when seeking a heterosexual relationship. This manifests in the Dumb Bunny Chorus and cameos of Gloria Steinem and Simone De Beauvior – which, because they are performed in drag, adds an extra element of satire and irony.Kate Marvin’s preshow music is delightful! The diverse selection feels like a “boushy” Brooklyn bar in a neighborhood on the verge of gentrification. The scenic design by Kristen Robinson offers a fresh perspective of two common play settings – the bar and the apartment. Amith Chandrashaker’s lighting design is simple and elegant. Together the elements of design capture and create the gentle yet sharp mood and tone of the work.
As the omniscient narrator, Kate Benson’s voice is delicious. The bodiless voice in the dark is appealing and satisfying; her word choice is juicy and the auditory effect of those words moves the story along like poetry. Her narration often embodies the thoughts and musings manifested by everyday fatigue as weary feet carry one home.The actors are fun to watch. Noel Joseph Allain and Ugo Chukwu are particularly good at maintaining cool faces, capturing both the aloof, informed hipster and the warm romantic. They are at their best when they play Gloria and Simone. While I don’t love the fact that two men are telling a woman how to be a feminist, the scene feels in tune with the mood of the piece, and it also the opposite of the scene with the Dumb Bunny Chorus. As a twisted stock best friend, Leah Karpel is comically devious and Jorge Cordova makes Hennepin socially awkward but accessible. Julia Sirna-Frest’s compassionate portrayal of a strong woman – the fearful, insecure woman that every woman is, has been or will be – resonates with the complex image of femaleness in the present social moment.
[PORTO] is entertaining and engaging on social, emotional and intellectual levels. Watching actors move on stage, responding and reacting to a bodiless voice that is sometimes gentle, mostly longwinded and decidedly pointed is gratifying. It is especially satisfying when a play enthusiastically advocates, “Just go for it!”
[PORTO], WP Theater with The Bushwick Starr, 2162 Broadway at 76th St. Closes February 25th.
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
Theatre News: Smash, I Need That, Good Night, Oscar, Funny Girl, This Beautiful Lady and In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical
The NBC television series Smash is coming to Broadway for the 2024-2025 season. Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Steven Spielberg will produce. The musical will feature a book co-written by three-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice and Tony winner Bob Martin. Tony and Grammy winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Some Like It Hot). The team earned three Emmy nominations for their songs from the “Smash” series will pen the score, which will feature numbers from the TV show.
Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (New York, New York) will direct and Tony nominee and Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse will choreograph.
The series was created by Theresa Rebeck and Spielberg, launch the series. Spielberg is also one of the co-producers of Good Night, Oscar, which begins performances at the Belasco Theatre on April 7.
Official dates, theater, creative team and casting for the “Smash” stage musical will be announced at a later date.
Speaking of the Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright Theresa Rebeck, Danny DeVito and Lucy DeVito are set to star in her new play I Need That at the Roundabout. The new comedy will be directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel which will open at the American Airlines Theatre in October. The cast will also include Ray Anthony Thomas. … Also newly announced for Roundabout’s new Broadway season is a spring 2024 revival of Samm-Art Williams’ 1980 Tony-nominated play “Home.” Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct
Speaking of Good Night, Oscar, Doug Wright’s play was named finalist for 2023 new play award by The American Theatre Critics Association. The other six finalists for the 2023 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award include: Born With Teeth by Liz Duffy Adams, the ripple, the wave that carried me home by Christina Anderson, Sally & Tom by Suzan-Lori Parks, Spay by Madison Fiedler and
Swing State by Rebecca Gilman.
Paolo Montalban and Anne L. Nathan are joining Lea Michele in Funny Girl as Florenz Ziegfield and Mrs. Strakosh. Montalban and Nathan will replace original cast members Peter Francis James and Toni DiBuono, who take their final bows on March 26th.
Elizabeth Swados’ This Beautiful Lady will play at La MaMa this May. Previews will begin May 5 for the Off-Broadway run ahead of the May 8 press opening, with performances set through May 28 in the Ellen Stewart Theatre.
In The Trenches: A Parenting Musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Graham & Kristina Fuller, will receive industry readings on Friday, March 24th at 11am & 3pm at Ripley Grier Studios. The readings will be directed by Jen Wineman (Dog Man: The Musical) and will feature music direction by Rebekah Bruce (Mean Girls) and arrangements by Dan Graeber, Graham & Kristina Fuller.
The cast of In The Trenches features Amanda Jane Cooper (Wicked), Jelani Remy (The Lion King, Ain’t Too Proud), Christine Dwyer (Wicked), Caesar Samayoa (Come From Away), Max Crumm (Grease, Disaster!), and Vidushi Goyal.Join two bleary-eyed young parents as they trudge through the trenches and discover their new post-baby identities. In an evening of new-parent greatest hits, a foul-mouthed toddler zeroes in on “the most dangerous thing in the room”, tap dancing towards bleach, knives, and tide pods; a chronically-overlooked younger sibling sings the “second child blues”; a mom trio celebrates yoga pants in an R&B love song to the “official mom uniform”; dad discovers he’s not the “ice-cream and movie-night cool parent” but rather the “do your homework real parent” amid a kiddo sugar-crash; and mom retrieves a sticky, hair-covered pacifier from the floor of a LaGuardia bathroom while her baby screams bloody murder and her flight boards without her.
Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and More To Perform at TheaterWorksUSA Spring Gala
TheaterWorksUSA, currently presenting the hit family show Dog Man The Musical at New World Stages, will host its annual Spring Gala on Monday, April 24 (cocktails begin at 6 PM) at The Current at Chelsea Piers.
100% of the net proceeds from the event will support our mission to create exceptional, transformative theatrical experiences that are accessible to young and family audiences in diverse communities across New York City and North America.
This year TWUSA will honor Lisa Chanel (TWUSA Board Chair 2019-2022), Andréa Burns (Award-winning Broadway actress & educator), Peter Flynn (TWUSA alumnus and award-winning director, writer, and educator), and Holly McGhee (Founder and Creator of Pippin Properties, New York Times best selling author). The event will feature appearances by some of Broadway’s biggest stars, including Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Kevin Del Aguila, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and more.
On behalf of TheaterWorksUSA’s Board of Directors, we are thrilled to celebrate the people who have generously supported our mission, making it possible for us to bring high-quality theater to young audiences of all backgrounds throughout the country. We look forward to recognizing Lisa, Andréa, Peter, and Holly publicly at this very special event. – Tracy A. Stein, Board Chair
It’s a privilege to honor these individuals for playing such an important role in the work we do. Their vision, creativity, and ongoing commitment to our mission is truly something to celebrate. They are very much a part of our TheaterworksUSA family.- Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director
TheaterWorksUSA (Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director; Michael Harrington, Executive Director) has led the Theater for Young and Family Audiences movement in New York City and across North America for over half a century. At TWUSA, we believe that access to art—and theater, in particular—is vital for our youth. Since 1961, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit has captured the imaginations of 100 million new and veteran theatergoers with an award-winning repertoire of over 140 original plays and musicals. Acclaimed alumni include Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Disney’s Frozen), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Jerry Zaks (The Music Man), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen), Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton), Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America), and Chuck Cooper (Tony award-winning actor, The Life). WWW.TWUSA.ORG
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