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

Month: August 2014

Press Release | Fringe NYC — Complete Listings for Encore Series and Solos | Sept 4 – Oct 5, 2014

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Ron Lasko at ron@spincyclenyc.com or 212-505-1700 x. 11

Nearly 2 Dozen Festival Favorites Get Extensions at
FringeNYC ENCORE SERIES
September 4 – October 5 at Baruch Performing Arts Center & SoHo Playhouse

In 17 days, even the most intrepid theatergoer can only sample a fraction of the over 200 offerings at the New York International Fringe Festival. Now in its 10th year, the official 2014 FringeNYC Encore Series gives theatre lovers another chance at seeing some of the most critically acclaimed and most crowd-pleasing shows from the Festival.

This year, the FringeNYC Encore Series will be divided into two separate mini festivals. Baruch Performing Arts Center will present exclusively solo performances as part of its ongoing “Solo In The City” performance series (which has previously presented works by Sandra Bernhard, Jackie Hoffman and Tovah Feldshuh), while SoHo Playhouse will host an array of drama, comedies and musicals. FringeNYC and The FringeNYC Encore Series are servicemarks and/or trademarks of The Present Theatre, Inc. and are used with permission.

SOLO IN THE CITY: THE FRINGENYC ENCORE SERIES runs September 11 – October 3 at Baruch Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of Baruch College in Manhattan on East 25th Street between Lexington & 3rd Aves. Tickets are $18-$20, available online at www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac, by phone at 646-312 5073, or in person at the box office at 55 Lexington Ave. (enter E. 25th St. between Lexington & 3rd Aves.)  Performances will include:

• Confessions of Old Lady #2
Joan Shepard’s sparkling account of 74 years on Broadway and on TV. Laced with side-splitting stories & witty songs, this musical memoir won four stars from the London Times. (Sept. 18 at 7 PM & Sept. 22 at 2 PM)

• Fearless
The story of one man’s broken engagement (not his fault), failed suicide attempt (definitely his fault), the relationships that followed (probably his fault) and the misguided attempts to teach his students how to take risks and become fearless. (Sept. 20, 27 at 9 PM)

• Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet (As Performed by David Carl)
In this absurdist romp through Shakespeare, pop culture, and life in the theatre, iconic actor Gary Busey (played by comedian David Carl) will perform all the parts in “Hamlet”, using homemade puppets, videos, live music, and poetry. FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Sept. 19, 26 at 9 PM & Oct. 3 at 9 PM)

• Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey, with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran
Ever wish the Holocaust hadn’t happened? Some say it didn’t! Join Barry’s journey to find deniers from Illinois to Iran, meeting engineers and ex-presidents, dodging a brother in Hungary and a boyfriend back home to discover the truth. FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Sept. 11, 18, 24 at 7:30 PM & Sept. 21 at 3 PM)

• Magical Negro Speaks
Jamil Ellis gives voice to the Magical Negro — one of Hollywood’s favorite tropes — and examines what images in entertainment mean for future generations.FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Sept. 19 at 8 PM & Sept. 20 at 7 PM)

• Murder Margaret and Me
Margaret Rutherford became a global legend playing Miss Marple. Originally she didn’t want the part, and Agatha Christie didn’t want Marple played by “the funniest woman alive.” This British sell-out sensation sees Christie playing detective, unearthing Rutherford’s terrible secrets. FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Sept. 13 at 3 PM; Sept. 19 & 20 at 7 PM)

• The Pawnbroker: Lies, Lovers, and Bertolt Brecht
What price would you pay for love — your dignity, your sanity, your place in history? Discover the lies behind Brecht’s legend -and what five women lost to create it. (Sept 17 at 7:30 PM; Sept. 28 at 7 PM)

• Sex, Lies & Earl Grey
How do you take your tea? Georgina likes it hot with good manners, bad behavior and a pianist. Her crash course in etiquette reveals more than she, or you might expect. (Sept. 20 at 2 PM; Sept. 28 at 7:30 PM}

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THE FRINGENYC ENCORE SERIES runs September 4 – October 5 at SoHo Playhouse  (15 Vandam Street between Varick and Avenue of the Americas). Tickets are $18, available at 212-352-3101 or online at OvationTix at www.fringenyc-encoreseries.com. Performances will include:

• <50%
Gianmarco and Laura star in a completely factual play about the end of their five-year relationship. Everything is exactly as it happened, is happening, and will happen. (Mon 9/15 @ 9, Fri 9/19 @ 7, Mon 9/22 @ 8, Mon 9/29 @ 9:30 , Sat 10/4 @ 5)

• Chemistry
Steph is a recovering depressive. Jamie overachieved himself off the deep end. When they meet in their psychiatrist’s office, they can’t deny their chemistry, but can they survive it? A pitch black and piercingly insightful comedy about being crazy in love.(Sat 9/13 @ 5:30, Fri 9/19 @ 9:30, Sat 9/20 @ 7, Sun 9/21 @ 5, Sat 10/4 @ 7)

• Fatty Fatty No Friends
As the fattest kid in school, Tommy lives a lonely, living nightmare. When the skinny kids’ taunting goes too far, Tommy takes revenge without amends. A dark spoken-word Tim Burton-esque musical diving into the lunchtime of life, where bullies are delicious. FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Wed 9/10 @ 8, Sun 9/14 @ 3, Mon 9/15 @ 7, Wed 9/17 @ 8, Thu 9/17 @ 7)

• Held Momentarily
Trapped on a stalled New York subway, seven strangers realize it’s not just the train that’s stuck. A poignant musical comedy about making connections, living in the moment and moving on in life… and a woman just went into labor. (Thu 9/11 @ 7, Fri 9/12 @ 9:30, Sun 9/14 @ 5, Thu 9/18 @ 9, Sun 9/21 @ 3)

• The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
Join world-renowned mixologist and raconteur Anthony Caporale (Art of the Drink TV) for a boozy romp through the history of alcohol. Cocktails and comedy combine for an utterly unique musical theatre experience! “An absolute must-see!” raves The Huffington Post. 21+ only (Fri 9/5 at 8, Fri 9/12 at 8, Fri 9/19 at 8, Fri 9/26 at 8)

• Jump Man
A musical parody of the Mario Brothers world. When a crime wave hits their Brooklyn neighborhood, Mario and Luigi have their heroism tested. Jump Man addresses age-old questions like “What defines a hero?” and “Do plumbers love to sing?” FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Sat 9/6 @ 7, Fri 9/12 @ 7, Sat 9/13 @ 3 & 8, Sun 9/14 @ 7)

• Moses, The Author
Meet Moses. He has family problems (gay son, rocky marriage), God problems (existential), and career problems (writer’s block, a hellish deadline). To make a better Bible he must become a better man. A love story, with scrolls. Don’t miss it. (Fri 9/26 @ 7, Sun 9/28 @ 3, Wed 10/1 @ 3, Sun 10/5 @ 3 & 7)

• Mother’s Day
Acid-tongued New York drag queen Helen Back incites a nuclear family meltdown when she comes home to New Jersey for Mother’s Day. The debut of a pitch black comedy/drama that explores the rules of engagement for a family at war. (Thurs 9/4 @ 9:30, Fri 9/5 @ 9:30, Tues 9/9 @ 8, Thurs 9/11 9:30)

• No One Asked Me
Illegal. No papers. They are not supposed to be here, yet for thousands of undocumented children, the U.S. is the only home they know. They face an uncertain future, fearing deportation. Based upon stories of “illegal” NYC students. FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Fri 9/26 @ 9, Sat 9/27 @ 4, Sun 9/28 @ 7:30, Mon 9/29 @ 7, Tue 9/30 @ 8)

• Smashed: The Carrie Nation Story
A beer-soaked, absurdly comic opera loosely based on the hatchet-wielding temperance leader Carrie Nation. Raise your frothy brew high! (Sun 9/21 @ 8)

• This Is Where We Live
Two teenagers collide like a modern day Orpheus and Eurydice in a dead-end Australian town. A dark, moving comedy infused with the rhythm of beat poetry. Australia’s Paperbark Theatre Company presents this US premiere, which won the 2012 Griffin Award. FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Thu 9/4 @ 8, Fri 9/5 @ 8, Sat 9/6 @ 9:30, Sun 9/7 @ 5, Mon 9/8 @ 8)

• Urban Momfare
Why don’t we ever hear songs about moms not actually liking their kids? This romp through motherhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side spans 17 years: “Music For Gifted and Talented Babies” to bra straps and Bellinis. Sling on your stilettos! FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winner. (Sun 9/21 @ 7, Wed 9/24 @ 2, Thu 9/25 @ 7, Sat 9/27 @ 7, Sun 9/28 @ 5)

• Warm Enough For Swimming
Mom drowned years ago. Grandma died yesterday. Eddie fled his wedding. And Bridget can’t make coffee. Can estranged siblings clean the living room when the bride arrives with a post-recession pyramid scheme and a Russian Mafioso stalks their childhood home? (Sat 9/20 @ 9:30, Tue 9/23 @ 8, Thurs 9/25 @ 9:30, Sat 9/27 @ 9:30, Thurs 10/2 @ 8)

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Past FringeNYC Encore Series have served as a launching platform for many commercial and regional runs including Silence! The Musical, Krapp 39, Triassic Parq, 5 Lesbian Eating A Quiche, Jamaica Farewell, The Complete Performer and Piaf, among others.

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 eight 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.

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