Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Tag: Bay Street Theatre (Page 1 of 3)

Review | Intimate Apparel | By Lynn Nottage | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… spinning a play from a photograph …

Intimate Apparel is a good play, worth seeing, though it’s not a you-must-see-it play like Lynn Nottage’s  RUINED (2008) or  her more recent SWEAT, both of which won the Pulitzer Prize.   Nottage is a fine, intelligent playwright and to spend the evening with her through the medium of this play, written early in her career (2003), is satisfying and thought-provoking.

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Jules Feiffer's "The Man in the Ceiling" at Bay Street Theater, Sag Harbor, L.I., NY

Review | The Man in the Ceiling | Book by Jules Feiffer | Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… segregation … 

The idea of this new musical show is that the world can be rough on for a little boy with a big imagination. Unfortunately this show can be rough on the audience.

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Review | My Fair Lady | Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Leerner | Music by Frederick Loewe | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… the story of a story …

For most of the time, this My Fair Lady is so good it made me feel that this wonderful show was even more marvelous than I thought.  I saw new things in it!  It was thrilling!  The production, however, does something really disappointing in changing the ending.  It’s easy to see why they did it – but, they shouldn’t have!

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My Fair Lady playing at Bay Street in Sag Harbor, L. I.

Review | My Fair Lady | Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner | Music by Frederick Loewe | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… great ….

This My Fair Lady is so good it made me feel that this wonderful show was even more marvelous than I thought.  I saw new things in it!  It’s thrilling!

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Bay Street Theater, Sag Harbor, Long Island, and The Last Night of Ballyhoo

Review | The Last Night Of Ballyhoo | By Alfred Uhry | Directed by Will Pomerantz | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… how do you fit in? …

December 1939, Atlanta Georgia, Hitler has just invaded Poland and Gone With The Wind is premiering in Atlanta, but in the Freitag family,  the big stir is that the end-of-year Ballyhoo party at Atlanta’s German Jewish social club is about to take place.  In keeping with the way human concerns flow from near to far, the global significance of Hitler’s invasion is barely comprehended while the question of who will escort daughter Lala to the Ballyhoo Ball is the concern prime center.

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Review | The Forgotten Woman | By Jonathan Tolins | Directed by Noah Himmelstein | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… opera with no music …

If you think you’re too fat or hate opera, maybe you’ll like this play about a fat but successful opera singer who isn’t so sure she likes opera either.  Otherwise …

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Review | Five Presidents by Rick Cleveland | Directed by Mark Clements | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… The World’s Most Exclusive Club …

Republicans and Democrats, winners and losers — how would the conversation go among five Presidents, former and current, if they were thrown together for an hour or so awaiting a formal event?  This fast talking play answers that question with zest and wit.

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Review | My Life Is A Musical by Adam Overett | World Premiere | Directed and Choreographed by Marlo Hunter | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

It feels exciting and even uplifting to attend the first performance of a new show.  This one, My Life Is A Musical, has a cute idea, some amusing moments, and some fine performances from its principals and excellent ensemble players.  On the other hand, the characters are thin, the story loose with predictable outcomes, and the music uninventive.    

What’s the cute idea?  Parker, who’s otherwise an uptight accountant, has a peculiar and lyrical trait:  he hears ordinary conversation as singing as in musicals, a quirk he hides because it makes him feel weird.  Like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar who can’t help telling the truth, Parker is mechanically locked in to a quirk he can’t help, leading to unavoidable — and potentially amusing — misunderstandings in his dealings with others. 

Roped in to being the accountant for a touring rock group, Parker encounters JT, the bouncy girl who’s group manager and Zach, its main singer. Since Parker is introverted and inexperienced with girls, and is used to hiding the truth about himself, he doesn’t confess his love to JT.  Meanwhile, with his special gift for hearing songs everywhere, he’s feeding Zach songs based on everything from fragments of overheard conversations to the words in his own heart about his growing love for JT.  Sure, Zach’s great at putting a song across but he has no soul within to write one himself (an unkind satire of rock musicians that I take in with skepticism).  Anyhow, Cyrano de Bergerac–like, JT falls in love with Zach who’s singing Parker’s love songs

And Zach, played by Justin Matthew Sargent, is great at putting a song across and some of the most enjoyable moments of the show are when he’s playing and singing.  The songs and styles are spoofs on famous singers:  “I’m just an ordinary dog,” sings the gyrating Zach.  

As Zach and the group rise to success because of Parker’s terrific songs (if only they were terrific, but they’re not), Randy, a music blogger who senses there’s something funny about the group’s sudden improvement, comes sneaking around in the guise of a suspicious detective to find out “the truth” about Parker and the group.  Randy, a spoof on “detectives you have known” from Sherlock Holmes to The Pink Panther and others in between, sings the song “What Have You Got To Hide” in the “Hernando’s Hideaway” style of covert excitement that’s enlivened many shows before.  Robert Cuccioli is theatrically commanding and archly funny as Randy, and the character lends itself to some engaging second act farce.

That’s a big improvement over what goes for humor in the first act:  I wish someone would explain to me why the phrase “It sucks” (variants he sucks, shethey…) used about 8 times early in the show, gets a laugh out of the audience every time.  Why?

Howie Michael Smith as Parker who comes out of his shell in the course of the show has a couple of introspective songs that come near to poignant but since he’s the only even partly genuine character, the others being amusing but campy caricatures (Randy, Zach) or cliché (JT), the songs spin off into nowhere.  Generally the songs, though energetically performed, tend to blend in to one another.  Put another way, “one doesn’t leave humming.”  The singers are miked, which should be unnecessary for professionals, all the more in a small theater.

Early on Parker confesses his quirk of hearing conversation as music — too bad because, he says, “I don’t like musicals.”  In spite of a laugh or two, I don’t think this one would have changed his mind. 

My Life Is A Musical plays at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, Long Island, NY through August 31.  For information and tickets, click on live link of title.

Yvonne Korshak

Comments are very welcome.  Scroll down, click on “comments,” write in comment box and click on “post.”  Emails are private and never appear with comments.

Review | Travesties by Tom Stoppard | Directed by Gregory Boyd | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

note a new production of Travesties:
“Travesties comes to London’s West End in an all-new, five-star production directed by Patrick Marber. Starring multi award-winning actor Tom Hollander, the show opens at the Apollo Theatre in February 2017. For further information and tickets, please visit: http://www.officialtheatre.com/

This is a wild, zany, Dada like, and very serious play.  It’s set mainly in Zurich in 1917 where swarms of intensely creative people migrated to the neutral Swiss city seeking refuge from World War I.  The place bubbled with the ferment and excitement of their new and revolutionary ideas.  What fun it seems to have been there — here’s your chance.

James Joyce was there working on Ulysses, Tristan Tzara was spearheading the “anti-art” Dada movement, and Lenin was on his way to leading the Russian Revolution.  Henry Carr, a British consular official of the time, was in the middle of all of it — or was he?  In Travesties, Carr, now a pretentious, forgetful old man, looks back and remembers himself as the British Consul General — though he held a lower rank — and recalls through his fragmented memory Joyce, Tzara and Lenin with whom he interacted — or thinks he did.  Through his memories and mis-memories, they spring into vibrant on-stage life.

As far as interactions, this much is fact:  at the time the real Henry Carr played the part of Algernon in a production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest produced by James Joyce and, in a dispute over the price of tickets and a pair of trousers, sued Joyce in court.  Stoppard conceives this tricky play, Travesties, as a kind of satire — i.e. a travesty — of Wilde’s Earnest, and like Wilde in Earnest, he engages the characters — and hopefully the audience — in hot if meandering debate over the nature and purpose of art, and the relation of art to life.

How wonderful that the brilliant and charismatic actor, Richard Kind, is at the center of this production in the role of Henry Carr.  Kind is hilarious, focused and profound.  If, as can happen, you find the anti-rational, anti-formal, anti-traditional exuberance of Dada, embodied in Michael Benz as Tristan Tzara, leaping on tables and cutting up Shakespeare’s sonnets, irksome, or if you find just too much theory at play, Kind will keep you smiling, laughing, glowing — and listening intently.

Although commentators like to say that Travesties is “not a history lesson,” it spends time verging on one — one feels one’s being briefed — but the great wit and dazzling word play — and exciting literary and cultural allusions for those who can catch them — are delicious sugar coatings.

In contrast to the first act, the second act has something resembling a driving narrative focused on Vladimir Lenin’s struggle to get to Russia at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution and his arrival there.  Andrew Weems’ impersonation of the passionately speechifying Lenin is so persuasive, those Russians who would visit Lenin’s glass-entombed mummy yearning to set eyes on the Revolutionary leader would do better to see this play:  seriously, Weems brings the posters of the period to life, and humorously.

By the end, the playwright has had his way:  through the deconstructions and dissonances, the great issues of the relation of art and life, and of the role of memory, perception and imagination in art, emerge with clarity that is both new and intact.  And Stoppard is fair in balancing the scales of articulate expression.  Tzara has demolished the forms and disciplines of art of the past, Joyce has reconstructed them in progressive ways never before envisioned, and Lenin has demonstrated the uselessness and immorality of hyper-individualistic “bourgeois art.”  Everybody’s right, everybody’s incomplete:  the philosophers are busy with the elephant again.  Somehow, though, through it all, Oscar Wilde’s belief in the autonomy of art and “art for art’s sake” seems to win out — or does it?  

The play is produced with tone perfect style:  the set is witty and evocative, the pace brisk, the roles perfectly cast and the whole exceptionally well rehearsed.  In addition to Kind as Carr, Weems as Lenin and Benz as Tzara, Carson Elrod plays James Joyce, Aloysius Gigi plays Bennett, Julia Motyka is Gwendolen, Emily Trask is Cecily, and Isabel Keating is Nadya.

And by the way, Joyce got back at Carr for that legal action in his own novelist’s way — parodying him in Ulysses as a drunk, obscene soldier (in the Circe segment).  Between Joyce and Stoppard, Carr lives forever — though surely not in the way one wants to be immortalized by literature!   

Travesties plays at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, Long Island, NY through July 20, 2014.  For more information and tickets, go to http://www.baystreet.org/calendar

Yvonne Korshak

Comments very welcome.  Scroll down, click on “comments,” write in comment box and click on “post.”  Emails are private — no emails ever appear with comments.

 

Review | Men’s Lives by Joe Pintauro | Adapted from the Book by Peter Matthiessen | Directed by Harris Yulin | Bay Street Theatre, Sag Harbor, Long Island

… endangered species …

Men’s Lives tells the story of what happens to fishermen on the East End of Long Island when the forces of change and politics put an end to the only way they know to make a living.  No more skeining with big nets, comes the law from Albany.  And with that, their way of life, based on a tradition of 300 years, is sucked out from under them the way, when you’re standing near the surf, the waves pull the sand out from under your feet.

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