Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Dreaded Q&A with...Julia Warner

Name: Julia Warner

Hometown: Villanova, PA

Education: Point Park University

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Rhiannon Miss Utah… a goody goody?

Describe your character in three words: good, bad, passionate.

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: Its a Zany new comedy about an off the wall pageant. Where girls will be girls and boys will be boys.  You wont know what to expect!

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Quirky, Risky, and Fabulous

What beauty pageant would you win?: The “beautifully unorganized” pageant.. ?

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: One where knitting is a well respected talent.

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: Heather

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: I think all of us could easily do something wrong..

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: I wana say.. Samantha. But a fabulous scandal.

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: Sophie. She so sweet

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: I think Brian would be a funny stage dad

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Def Jay. He’s got it down

Most likely to have a showmance?: Well nothing has happened yet! I’d say no one!

Who's the most offensive?: No one!

Most ruthless?: Well previous surveys say me… I say Michael

Best pageant cry?: Well… I’ve been practicing.

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: Tiara. Sash and bouquet cover up the dress..

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: The Pageant!!

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: The cast and crew is amazing. And it’s hysterical so rehearsals are a blast.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: All of the above.. and why not? Also Rhiannon has some secrets she would love to share with all of you…..

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix


Spotlight On...Bob Brader

Name: 
Bob Brader


Hometown: 
Catasauqua, PA

Education: 
NYU Tisch School of the Arts


Favorite Credits: Spitting In The Face Of The Devil – Writer/Performer Spitting is the first thing I ever wrote and I am very proud of it.
 CIRCLE, a play by Suzanne Bachner who also developed and directed Spitting.  The show is so much fun to do; I get to play 5 different characters!


Why theater?: 
Because it is alive and powerful for the moment it is happening and then it is gone.

Tell us about Spitting in the Face of the Devil:Spitting In The Face Of The Devil is the true story of discovering that my abusive, charismatic, ex-Marine father was a pedophile.  It is a powerful story, but it has a lot of humor.  


What inspired you to write Spitting in the Face of the Devil?:
 I was compelled to write the show because I never heard a story of abuse told the way I wanted to tell it, with the confusion and pain that goes along with growing up that way, but also with the joy of childhood.  I also wanted to talk about what happens after you get away from the abuser.  Most stories make you feel like after you leave the person that hurt you, you are fine, but that is when the real work begins.


What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: 
I love all different kinds of theater.  Great stories speak to me, told in a way that catches you off guard.  The late great Spalding Gray was a true hero of mine.  Spitting In The Face Of The Devil started out as a desk monologue, I wanted to be just like him.  Eric Bogosian is brilliant, and Anna Deavere Smith is quite frankly one of the best solo performers I have ever seen.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: That is a very long list.  I love working with actors that excite me, that are not afraid to take risks, make bold choices.  If you are looking for a celebrity list, at the top would be Bernadette Peters, Ian McKellen, Neil Patrick Harris…this list could go on and on.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: 
We saw an amazing show in the New York International Fringe Festival this year called This Is Where We Live written by Vivienne Walshe and directed by Alec Fellows-Bennett.  It is a fantastic piece of theatre that I recommended to everyone. The two actors, Shaelee Rooke and Oliver de Rohan are from Australia and they were both just incredible to watch.  These two are absolutely on the list of actors I would love to work with.  

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would love an unknown actor to play me, someone who comes from nowhere and knocks it out of the park.  The story of my life already has a title: it’s Spitting In The Face Of The Devil.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
 I’m not a sports fan in any way, but I love watching Ninja Warrior.  I find myself on the edge of my seat rooting for the underdogs to make it through the course.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: “A Little Revolution” by Firewater.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Lost.  Theatre is my home and it has been ever since I was a kid.  I don’t know what I would do without it.

What’s up next?: 
I am working on a new solo show about smoking.  I was a smoker for many years and loved it.  The show focuses on that love affair as well as how fear becomes belief and the importance of communication in a relationship.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Spotlight On...Ian Antal

Name: Ian Antal

Hometown: Berlin, Germany

Education: BFA from UNC School of the Arts

Select Credits: Associate Artist with New York Classical Theatre; Orlando in As You Like It; Treplev in The Seagull; Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night

Why theater?: It's the only place I get rewarded for breaking rules and social norms.

Who do you play in Flamingo?: I am playing the role of Finn, Caroline's goofy lab partner, best friend, confidant.

Tell us about Flamingo: The script is what hooked me. Reading is not an  activity that comes naturally or easily to me. It's work. All those  clichés about not being able to put a book down never really made much  sense to my rather visual and kinesthetic disposition. But then I read this beautifully constructed story about a smart, young woman wrestling with the dichotomy between what feels right in her heart, brain, and  gut, as an intense passion is sparked by someone who deeply challenges her beliefs. The dialogue was just so engaging on the page alone, and felt so immediate and accessible that, for once in my life, there wasn't a single fiber of my being that wanted to lay the script aside until the arc of the story had been completed. The writing is honest. The relationships are intriguing. And the development of the story is very smooth.

What is it like being a part of Flamingo?: For one, it is a treat and a  trap to be sharing the stage with the playwright. Alex is so tremendously gifted both on the page and in person that the tone of the play becomes very approachable in the rehearsal room. Yet there is always the lurking temptation to tweak the script here and there when something isn't quite sitting right with me, and one has to stay very judicious and honest with oneself: "Do I want that change because it's a real problem in the storytelling, or do I want it because I am a victim of my own laziness?" So far it's always been the latter for me. ;) It's quite a privilege to look at every face at rehearsals and realize that absolutely everyone is on top of their game. Jillian is terribly clever and insightful, and she approaches the process with a very compassionate directing style that creates the safe space for us to confidently explore difficult questions. The designers have each brought so much vision and personality to the show that a chain reaction of creativity becomes apparent. And what is most comforting of all is that there is no ego in the room. Dylan and Alex are such humble and energetic artists, and the entire production team is so very down to earth that there just isn't any room for the self-indulgent freakouts one sometimes observes in other creative circumstances.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I am a total sucker for Shakespeare. Experiencing the electricity in the air when contemporary audiences connect with the emotional journey within such heightened text is a deeply humbling experience. The fact that one can read, work on, or attend the very same play numerous times and still find numerous surprises in the text upon each encounter speaks worlds about the magnitude of Master Will's body of work. Bill Murray is the most interesting man in the world.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Luke Skywalker in the Shakespearean adaptation of Star Wars (oh believe me, it's real. Look it up!)

What’s your favorite showtune?: My fiancée is not a singer, but she brings each and every song from "Mulan" to life in a hilarious way that makes me pity the rest of the world for never getting to experience it.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Kenneth freakin' Branagh

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Curious George would play me in a movie called "The Fool on the Hill"

What show have you recommended to your friends?: If we're talking live shows: My lady's upcoming dance performance with mishiDance. If we're talking tv: I was destitute when I ran out of "House of Cards" episodes.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Booty Swing" by Parov Stelar. This gentleman's work introduced me to the delightful world of Electro Swing. Who knew??

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Polishing off an entire pack of double-stuff Oreos in one sitting (with Cool Whip, of course)

What’s up next?: The Simpletons, a silent red-nose clown collective I founded over a year ago, has a bunch of ridiculously fun projects and collaborations in the pipe-line. We shoot short films around the streets of New York City to give a wondrous twist to ordinary, everyday occurrences. I'll also be starring in a production of A Christmas Carol at the World Financial Center with New York Classical Theatre in December as well. What I'm really most excited about right now is getting cracking on a project that involves visiting cancer patients in hospitals and reading Winnie the Pooh stories to them while they receive treatment.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spotlight On...Selda Sahin

Name: Selda Sahin

Hometown: Born in Blacksburg, VA and raised in Kalamazoo, MI.

Education: NYU

Select Credits: "Grind", All Fall Down (NYMF)

Why theater?: Theatre is so immediate and every experience and performance is unique. If you weren’t there, you can only hear the story (or anecdote). “Grind” is obviously and exception because it’s a film, but there will likely be a “live” life for it.

Tell us about “Grind”: We’re really excited – the album just came out and it’s a celebration of that. We’re doing the five songs from the album and songs related to the concept of the film. It’s got a very electronic feel. The concert is September 1st at 54 Below

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Rent was actually the first show that really got me excited about musicals. I had done theatre as a kid, but that was the show that made me realize theatre was amazing. I love William Finn and Adam Guettel. I loved Violet. I think there have been lots of really great things happening. I am always inspired by my friends who write and create and I think that’s important.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Oh, wow. I guess... "Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Alex Timbers

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: This sounds like a question that is begging for a joke. But, I am too tired to make a good joke ;) I do have a twin sister, Sara Sahin. So, really, she should play me. And, it’d be called “Stop asking your sister to borrow money”. (I tried)

What show have you recommended to your friends?: “Here Lies Love.” It’s really great.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Kathie Lee and Hoda (the 4th hour of the Today show) and anything on “Investigation Discovery”

What’s up next?: I am writing an album with Derek Gregor (who I wrote “Grind” with) and Eric Michael Krop. We’re recording soooon! We’ve been writing some country songs and I have two new musicals in the works!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Spotlight On...Alex Trow

Name: Alexandra Michelle Trow

Hometown: Highlands Ranch, CO

Education: Yale undergrad, Yale graduate school (cue New Haven jokes!)

Select credits: London Wall (Miss Hooper, Mint Theater); Owners (Mrs. Arlington/Alec's Mom, Yale Rep); "Twenty Five" (Taylor, web series).

Why theater?: Theater because of the thrill of the real live event every night. I.e. if you say that line a little differently, I’ll probably say my line a little differently, and then where will we be by the end?! WHO KNOWS?!

Who do you play in Flamingo?: I play mysel… I mean. “Caroline.”

Tell us about Flamingo?: Like the title suggests, it’s a play about birds. But here’s the twist, not just flamingos, also another kind of bird. Two types of birds. Our marketing team is gonna kill me. That is not what the play is about.

What is it like being a part of Flamingo?: Much like being myself, with important differences. Any time my character is un-likable or un-cool or a bit crazy, that is not at all like being myself, and I really have to dig to find those moments. Also, the people involved with Sanguine Theatre Co. are the best people. So it’s been a delight.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: All of it, I guess! Especially the top 2% and the bottom 2%, for educational purposes. I’m staring at a book about Vincent Van Gogh that’s sitting on my bookshelf. I really like him, because it seems he was a little sad and crazy, but also so good and so dedicated to spending vast amounts of time getting better at his craft, plus did cool artist stuff like carry jewel-tone yarn around to check the effectiveness of different colors against one another when deciding how to paint things. I love the idea of having contrasting jewel-tone yarns lying around my brain for when I’m trying to watch and remember and write things.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: All the fun big ones (Lady M, Blanche, Vanda), plus some cool new ones that haven’t been written yet, like: the young CEO of a major corporation who’s got a sweet dark secret, like maybe she’s dead but still coming to work? Also, it would be fun to play a mastermind villain in an action movie. And a nun who’s a sniper.

What’s your favorite showtune?: "Holiday Inn" from Seesaw: A Musical. I’d like to dedicate that answer to my good friend, the talented actor Mr. Seamus Mulcahy.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: The Holy Mother Meryl

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: It would be called "Flamingo: A Narcissist’s Tale", and I would play myself. I’d probably do the adaptation, too. And maybe cut all the other characters.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Oh my gosh, I have so many talented buddies! I’d like to give a special shout out to Bones in the Basket, a devised show based on Russian fairytales (read: nightmares) that has been in the works for years, and only gets better with each iteration. Also, this awesome new ensemble called Old Sound Room is developing October in the Chair, a piece based on Neil Gaiman short stories. Also, Flamingo.

What’s the most-played song on your iTunes?: First by a long shot is “Tightrope (feat. Big Boi)” by Janelle Monae, but I think mostly because I left that song on repeat for a full 24 hours accidentally after a fairly long one-song-only dance party. Next we have “Allegretto” by Cecile Chaminade (I write plays and things while listening to her!) and then “Dissolve Me” by Alt J.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Sometimes I eat cake mix out of the box with a spoon. Like… dry.

What’s up next?: Feeling super sick about all that cake mix. And a bunch of plays about super cool things! Like one about home-grown terrorism, and another about dealing with friends you hate, and a third about an ex-con rock star with a Jesus-complex up her sleeve.

The Dreaded Q&A with...Kate Villanova

Name: Kate Villanova

Hometown: Montclair, NJ

Education: Skidmore College (BA) and Rutgers University (MFA)

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Colette aka Miss Louisiana aka the next America's Goddess (if all goes according to plan)

Describe your character in three words: Goal oriented, conniving, hurricane. Oops that's four.

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: It's the metaphysical quest of a Danish Prince who seeks to avenge his father's (the King's) untimely murder. Wait a second....

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Accents. Competition. Hilarity.

What beauty pageant would you win?: The one where the contestants actually believe in Evolution.

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: I don't know, but I would throw a mean after party!

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: If I told you, they'd beat me up.

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: Probably me, actually. I get so nervous and I'm a bit clumsy in heels.

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: Matthew. No Brian. No MATTHEW.

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: Sophie. Who doesn't like Sophie?!

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: Michael Bradley Block

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Tony (our director)

Most likely to have a showmance: Alexis and Madeline... but in character.

Who's the most offensive?: Me. I have the humor of a twelve year old boy, fart jokes and all.

Most ruthless?: Jay, I don't know why, but Jay.

Best pageant cry?: I've never seen her cry, but something tells me Heather's got some mean tears. Mean in a pageant kind of way.

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: Bouquet for sure.

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Marjorie's kitties.

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Spending time with this beautiful, kind, hilarious cast (and crew)

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Why the heck not?

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spotlight On...Dylan Lamb

Name: Dylan Lamb

Hometown: Brooklyn based; Minneapolis born.

Education: BFA@NYU

Select Credits: Wrote and performed in Alligator Summer at the Dorothy Streslin Theater in NYC. Also done stuff at Montreal Zoofest and the Edinburgh Fringe. Worked for Warner Brothers Television as part of its Creative Lab. Recipient of Chair's Award of Excellence in Dramatic Writing at NYU.

Why theater?: Despite the runaround, it really is the most legal fun available. I say that like I'm a drug addict or a criminal. I am neither. So, maybe 'why theater' because I like feeling cooler than I am.

Who do you play in Flamingo?: I play Andrew, a young man who is unfortunately recognizable. So many unique, exciting qualities in a guy who doesn't seem to want to put it all together and be a human being. I care about him but he makes me so mad sometimes.

Tell us about Flamingo: Flamingo is the story of Caroline, who meets Andrew while conducting a study on pornography. Andrew is frank and open, if not polite: a jarring foil to Caroline's amiable lab partner, Finn. Caroline learns from each, cares for both, and must figure out if it's possible to be happy with either, or at all. This play is positioned at the current standstill in male/female dynamics, with each side either unwilling or too willing to acquiesce in order to make togetherness work.

What is it like being a part of Flamingo?: Rehearsal feels like you're swimming in a shark-tank of Mensas. Real-live, hyper-intelligent sharks, and you've got a cut on your leg and you're naked and the ladder if there ever was one is now gone. So you just have to keep finding ways for these sharks not to eat you alive, and at the end of the day you're exhausted, and sometimes proud, and you can't wait to go swimming again.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I am inspired by people who are able show their warts. It's terribly difficult to be honest, and I'm deeply in awe of those who have made it their vocations to be so. I think the next steps towards progress, for many troubling topics in the newspaper, are unbridled honesty and a collective attempt to understand. Which thankfully have always been two major pillars of the theater.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Whatever's next. I love new work and I love great writing. Characters that actors want to play. So yeah, something like Flamingo 2 would be nice.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Yes.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Mark Rylance or Tilda Swinton. I don't know why I said "or"; they could be together. Wait can you even imagine how good that would be?

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The celebrity doppelganger I get most frequently is the porn star James Deen, so that's obviously my first choice depending on his availability.  I've also been kicking around the title "Penis Equals Drama" for something. This feels right.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: TV? “Breaking Bad” forever. Theater? Clown Bar at the Box, except all of my friends are in it and out of their minds so I didn't really recommend it to them because that would be weird.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Luckiest Man", The Wood Brothers. Followed by Kanye West, Hanson, Fred Eaglesmith and Billie Holiday. Try to contain me.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Scratch-off tickets; I still think I've got the magic despite my lifetime batting average. Meeting people with a screw loose and becoming close with them. My Ricky Rubio jersey. Attempting to free-style. I relish in guilty pleasures because they're inherently unpredictable.

What’s up next?: I co-wrote and performed in a pilot called "Carmen", which will screen at ITVFest in September. Workshopping a play of mine with Squeaky Bicycle Productions in October. Thanksgiving in November. Who's hosting? I like yams.

The Dreaded Q&A with...Brian Collins

Name: Brian Patrick Collins

Hometown: Maynard, MA

Education: B.A. in Acting from Emerson College

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Joey, Nicole's right-hand gay.

Describe your character in three words: Jersey. Flamboyant. Dazed.

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: PTABF is an over-the-top parody of the "drama" behind the pretty faces we see as beauty pageant perfection.

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Shameless. Chaotic. Ridiculous.

What beauty pageant would you win?: America's Drama Queen.

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: Judging.

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: Kate because of the funny stories I've heard from her.

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: Matthew because his shorts are shorter than his apron.

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: Ian because you would never expect it.

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: Madeline because I like her compliments.

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: Alexis because she seems super organized.

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Yours truly.

Most likely to have a showmance: Sophie because she's so damn cute.

Who's the most offensive?: Samantha with her Jersey-Italian blood.

Most ruthless?: Jarrett because he is a confident fellow.

Best pageant cry?: Julia.

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: Tiara.

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: In the Q&A when Kayla says "my favorite actor or actress is like RuPaul because she's like an actor and actress and like wears some fierce clothes." Kills me every time. And also, all of Rhiannon's moments - I find her oblivion to be remarkable and hilarious.

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: In all honesty and cheesiness, working and connecting with the PTABF team. Since living in NYC, it's been a stimulating and reassuring experience. I look forward to future collaboration with this talented bunch.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: To see all the extremes we know as stereotypes from our culture of reality television and the media all in one room.

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, vist Smart Tix


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Medusa's Early Days

Origin stories of well known characters are always rich in possibility. In Rachel Graf Evans' Ravishing Medusa, the pre snake haired, stone turning Medusa is explored, displaying a side of the woman we don't know.
Inspired by the Ovid version of the myth, Ravishing Medusa tells the tale of a beautiful young maiden who worships Athena. This causes envy to Athena’s father Zeus and uncle Poseidon. Poseidon’s jealously brings him down to confront Medusa and ultimately rape her. In Rachel Graf Evan’s retelling of the Medusa myth, we see this story through a feminist lens. The play boasts five woman to play the various roles through poetic dialogue and dance and movement. Where Ravishing Medusa succeeds is through Graf Evans’ words. The book scenes truly explained the history and story in a effective manner. With the exception of the piece between Medusa and Poseidon, the dances did very little to progress the story. The dancing fell flat as the ensemble did not gel well as a cohesive unit. Director and choreographer Blaze Ferrer did not play to the strengths of his team prompting some unnatural and amateurish movement. Had the overall piece not relied on so much movement, perhaps a stronger story would have been portrayed.
As Medusa, Marisa Brau gave the villainous woman dimensions. Her ingenuousness to the part played well into the complete arc. Alexis Kelley played well into the vivacious newfound seductress Athena. Kelley eased naturally into the world of the play. The standout of the piece was Samantha Bergman as Poseidon. Bergman took great command on stage transforming to the God of the Sea.
Director Blaze Ferrer’s strongest moments was during the storytelling through the book. While the movement pieces took away from the power of the story, the strength in the book scenes took center stage. Despite the dance pieces not working, the accompanying music throughout the play was quite lovely. Lighting designer Ebony Burton did wonders altering the stark space into a temple. Emily White’s costumes balanced nicely between period and modern.
Ravishing Medusa is an ambitious work that after going back to the drawing board can be something special. Playwright Rachel Graf Evans has devised an engaging play with much potential.

The Dreaded Q&A with...Victoria Anne Miller

Name: Victoria Anne Miller

Hometown: East Meadow, Long Island

Education: BA in Psychology/Acting (Theater Arts), Holistic Health Coach Certification (towards Masters degree)

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Loretta, The Pageant Mom

Describe your character in three words: Overbearing. Loud. Hair.

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: This is a gem of a show that will steal your heart as you follow it's young, ambitious contestants to win a Beauty Pageant and the people who run it - you'll be hit over the head with outlandish characters and their endearing quirks. Who will win? What's that Voodoo Potion? and did that interpretive dance really just involve FEMA?!

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Quirky. Competitive. Beautiful.

What beauty pageant would you win?: Weirdest facial expressions.

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: Who can eat a whole jar of peanut butter the fastest. That's not a category is it?

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: I'm thinking that after we're done with this show Heather will know a thing or two about all three of these things. :-)

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?:  Me. Ev'eryday.

Most likely to be involved in a scandal? :o0o0o I can see Sophie being involved in one, she's so sweet no one would ever suspect it.

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: I don't know one person in this cast, including the guys who wouldn't steal that title.

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: Can I say Tony? ;-)

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Jay. DONE. he would own that sucka.

Most likely to have a showmance: Jay and Matthew .... I mean, they are totally cute in this.

Who's the most offensive?: Who wrote this .......

Most ruthless?: My baby gurl.

Best pageant cry?: Julia. Nails. It.

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: I'm a nature girl, give me those flowers!

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Without a doubt the interpretative dance that Kate does. KILLS IT. I could watch that over and over.

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: I have new friends who are totally hott. But seriously, working with this cast and crew has been a wonderful professional experience, and each person involved has a heart of gold ..... and a nice ass. ;-)

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Because you know what's good for you, and if not Mama's gonna get angry - and TA-RUST me you don't want Mama angry.

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Super Cleanse

Once upon a time there was a tunnel. And in this tunnel lived two girls who made this tunnel their home. Above them on the surface lived a down and out young man ready for a new life. As fate would have it, an epic superstorm brings these people together to look at the value of life. In Ashley Jacobson’s enchanting urban fairy tale, The Tunnel Play, we see these characters come together as outside forces make them deal with internal conflict.
Ashley Jacobson has devised a hauntingly stunning world that is so fantastical yet all too real. The Tunnel Play watches as a series of characters are brought together by happenstance as a superstorm threatens New York City. A storm of this magnitude has never been heard of before and allows Colin, the down and out man, and Priddy and Birdy, the homeless duo, to reexamine their lives through impending doom. Jacobson’s script is accessibly poetic. Her characters have elements of whimsy and mystery, but they also have authenticity. The themes and ideas Jacobson presents are quite interesting. The superstorm represents a cleanse and rebirth for the trio, both physically and metaphorically. What Jacobson does well is she presents her ideas in a subtle manner, allowing the audience to take their own stance.
The ensemble of offered an overall wonderful cohesive performance bringing Jacobson’s characters to life. Ryan Guest as Colin was a knockout, bringing such depth to the disgruntled everyman. Guest’s range was captivating and refreshing. Chelsea Wolocko as simple Priddy was vibrant and spirited with a hopeful demeanor. Her chemistry with Guest was wonderful to watch. Dondrie Burnham as sage Birdy was a great foil for Wolocko’s Birdy, though both Burnham and Wolocko did have some projection issues in their scenes together. Laura Bogdanski and Brett Epstein brought the funny to their nameless ensemble parts with Epstein perhaps bringing a different kind of comedy to the play that was a bit jarring.
Director Courtney Laine Self did an incredible job bringing Jacobson’s world to the stage. With the ingenious aid of Stephen M. Cyr’s set, the mobile and multifunctional world was transformative yet simple. Self’s vision and guidance was wonderful to see portrayed through her company. The costumes by Holly Cain evoked the spectrum of money quite well. Jacob Subotnick’s sound set the mood of the impending storm.
The Tunnel Play is an intriguing and innovative play about loss and solitude. And as fitting as possible, there was a giant storm brewing outside the Kraine Theater as the show concluded. You almost have to wonder if The Dirty Blondes paid mother nature for such a beautiful coincidence.

Review: The (Almost) Ultimate Movie Mash-Up

There have been a lot of movies in the history of, well, movies. Some legendary, some clunkers. But the fine folks at the American Film Institute, or AFI for those who only know it by that name, have watched every single movie ever and compiled a list of the 100 greatest. And that is the source of the new comedy The List (The Greatest, Most Absurd 100 American Movies Mash-Up Parody Ever Stitched Together).
Written by Bryan T. Donovan, The List takes the AFI 100 Top 100 and slams them all together. The play is set up as one of the list makers questioning the list thus forcing him to watch them all thus forcing him to go insane and literally see all the movies as one. The man takes the role of Oscar Schindler and goes on a journey through cinema history. On the journey we meet some epic mash-ups, through plot and character, which keep the play churning. The majority of the audience will probably have not seen the entire list, but writer Donovan doesn’t care. To tackle all 100 takes some skill, he pulled from some more obscure moments, but where The List shines is through the obvious. Letting an audience in on the joke is a surefire way for a laugh. So when you attempt to pull a laugh from something the audience may not get, chances are it’s not actually funny. But using the obvious quotes and characters, that’s when the funny came out. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very often. It’s commendable what Donovan did, but the execution in script was not as strong as it could have been.
The ensemble of four, including Donovan, Matt W. Cody, Mallory Hawks, and Amanda Huxtable, seemed to never stop going from character to character, costume to costume. Cody took on the role of Schindler, bringing his main plot to life via an abundance of voices and quotes. For the most part, Donovan gave himself the meatier roles, many of which including drag. Donovan has a great ability to transform from character to character. Mallory Hawks shined in the Eve Harrington track. Amanda Huxtable clearly had the least stage time but brought some of the funniest moments in her mash-up of the late Katherine Hepburn and Princess Leia.
Director Regan Adair kept the fast-paced play moving. With the aid of the brilliant video design by Lianne Arnold, Adair was able to cover quick changes with ease through Arnold’s sublime video. Natalie Robin’s lights were swift and easily transformable into the billion worlds the characters journeyed through. Benjamin Klemes had a very difficult assignment as costume designer by not only having to replicate some iconic costumes but allow the actors to transform from one into another. For the most part Klemes did a fine job at iconography.
Deciding what the greatest movies of all time will always be up for debate, but what is on that list is quite great. Unfortunately, the way Donovan stitched together The List may not have been as funny as it should have been. Though his passion and love for the movies shined, it just was not enough to keep the audience in stitches.

The Dreaded Q&A with...Heather Cadarette

Name: Heather Cadarette

Hometown: Hemet, CA

Education: BA, UCSD

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Bonnie Rae

Describe your character in three words: Evil, young, competitive

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: Reality show on stage

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Staged reality show

What beauty pageant would you win?: This one

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: Talent

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: Matt

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: Tony obviously

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: Michael

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: Sophie

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: My mamma, Victoria

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Jay

Most likely to have a showmance: Ian. Jk he's married.

Who's the most offensive?: Alexis. Not.

Most ruthless?: Julia

Best pageant cry?: Kate

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: Tiara

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: The talent portion. Let it go.

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: getting to sing my favorite song.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: to see me sing my favorite song.

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: A Flock of Mormons

Mormon's are so in. While pop culture occasional pokes fun at the religion, exploring the deeper seeded truths of Mormonism is refreshing. In Roger Benington's highly brazen and intellectual The Mormon Bird Play, an ensemble of six young men explore the story of Ivona a mute girl through the Mormon lens.
From birds to pioneers to young girls, The Mormon Bird Play is a series of sketches with a through story about a young mute girl named Ivona and her journey to baptism. Along the way, the allegoric dream concept explores the history of the Mormon religion. As writer and director, Benington certainly has a vision. If you have difficulty processing this play, you're not alone. The script is quite thorough and poetic but occasionally difficult to follow. While the focus is primarily on Ivona, it shifts over to Evan's story. Though they do intersect, it gets a bit blurred. The play is a morality play about faith and identity with two young characters on opposite sides of the spectrum. Despite Ivona being the focal point of the characters’ discussion, it’s Evan’s journey that is truly more appealing. When the play moves into the dream concept, the energy explodes and the comedy truly shines.
With a progressive script to tackle, the ensemble was all willing and able to play. Leading the flock was Billy Hutto as Pippa. Hutto offered a transformative performance as the young, opptomistic girl. Hutto’s commitment was committed and flawless, easily livening Pippa. James Leach as Clifford was beautifully naïve. Like Hutto, Leach discovered his character with great ability, you could believe him as a young boy. Thomas Sullivan as Evan and Brennan Pickman-Thoon brought drive to their moments on stage.
Roger Benington had his hands completely full wearing three hats for the production. As writer, director, and scenic and costume designer, Benington ensured his vision was perfectly executed. From a design stand point, Benington created a visually stimulating world for his characters to live in. With perhaps the exception of Jordan Parente’s Brenda’s costume, an ill colored burlap sack looking dress, the costumes fit the characters and the actors quite well. The simplicity of the scenic design, including a piece of fabric that could be pulled on a clothes line allowed lighting designer Philip Treino to do wonders with color and mood.
The Mormon Bird Play is a polarizing work. It’s smart and unique but occasionally prevents the audience to enter the world without previous knowledge of the said world. Where The Mormon Bird Play shines is through the pictures Benington creates on stage.

The Dreaded Q&A with...Sophie Moshofsky

Name: Sophie Moshofsky

Hometown: Portland, Oregon.

Education: Well, I learned to read with my Mom and Dad. I graduated from Oklahoma City University with a BFA in acting.

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Like… Kayla. Miss California.

Describe your character in three words: Like like like

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: It’s freakin hilarious! It highlights so many stereotypes of different kinds of American gals and brings them all together in the most estrogen filled situation to fight to the death: a beauty pageant.

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Like so funny.

What beauty pageant would you win?: Well, I just heard there’s a Miss Beautiful Bottom… maybe I could win that. Or like… Miss Weirdo.

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: Talent or Interview

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: Hahaha. Ummm… I can’t say.

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: I feel like it’s me… it has to be me… Yep, it’s definitely me.

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: Oooh! Michael and Tony. HAHA.

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: Alexis. She’s a doll.

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: Oh my gosh, Victoria. She’s already so good at it.

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Jay. He really has the voice down.

Most likely to have a showmance: Jay and Matt- I kind of want it to happen.

Who's the most offensive?: I guess Samantha, but it’s really more her character. She’s a natural though :0)

Most ruthless?: No one. They’re all perfect.

Best pageant cry?: Julia. By far.

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: OOH! Um… all of them. I like bouquets though. They smell good.

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: I love when Kate does her poem about Louisiana. Like… dribble dribble drip drop? That shitake is hilarious. I like doing my scenes with Ian too.

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: This is my first full production in New York. It feels so good to be a part of something- and something GOOD at that! I love the people, the script, the work… it feels good to work.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: You’ll laugh, you may cry, and you’ll have a great time! The theatre isn’t just for us, man. We’re doing this for you!

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Dreaded Q&A with...Michael Bradley Block

Name: Michael Bradley Block

Hometown: Mahwah, NJ

Education: Boston University! BC Sucks!

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: I play the role of the playwright. I gave birth to these wacky characters!

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails is an over-the-top offensively hilarious comedy about a fictional beauty pageant called America’s Goddess and the zany characters who inhabit this year’s event. It’s set up mockumentary style, paying homage to the brilliant Christopher Guest films.

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Fabulous, Hysterical, Unafraid

What beauty pageant would you win?: Mr. Reality TV

What portion are you most likely to dominate?: The talent portion. The way I can binge watch a TV series is unmatched

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: Sophie Moshofsky. Don't be fooled by those eyes and that smile!

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?:  Our director Tony Curtis is either on or he’s so far off. One day you’ll see him rocking Express, the next he’ll be paying homage to high school fashion fails.

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: Matthew Menendez. Absolutely.

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: In this case, it would be changed to Mr. Congeniality and it would definitely go to Ian Way. He’s so darn nice and funny!

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: Victoria. I say whoever cast this show can see into the future

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Jay. He has the voice of a host!

Most likely to have a showmance: Oh man. Jay…he’s always prepared with the mints!

Who's the most offensive?: I’m going to have to say myself…see the play and you’ll understand.

Most ruthless?: Julia Warner. I heard she killed a girl to play Rhiannon.

Best pageant cry?: They’re all pretty brilliant at it!

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: The money! Who the hell wrote these questions?

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: For me, working on a new piece in a room of brilliant collaborators, my favorite moment is being able to make changes with the actors. They are all hilarious. Having a process where you watch them bring these characters to life, as a playwright, you can’t help but want to continue to develop and mold these characters for them!

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: I am so fortunate to work with such a great group of artists. And to be working alongside my friends is so rewarding. I get to share this special moment with them.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: It’s hilarious! If you’re looking for a night at the theater where you’re allowed to laugh and have a good time, Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails is the play for you. It’s theater where you’re not forced to think!

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Spotlight On...Melinda Buckley

Name: Melinda Buckley

Hometown: North Attleboro, MA

Education: BA Dance, Theater with a minor in Music

Select Credits: Broadway: Crazy for YouA Chorus Line and the ill fated Raggedy Ann (which was directed/choreographed by the most wonderful Pat Birch).  Also, National Tour of Sweet Charity directed/choreographed by Bob Fosse.

Why theater?: Theater has always been like church to me.  The place I go to 'commune' with something bigger than myself.  I've always found great theater to be thrilling, powerful and transformative.

Who do you play in Mother?:  I play all the characters in this story: myself, my Mom and everyone she and I encountered 'along the way,' so to speak...

Tell us about MotherWell, obviously it's about a Mother... mine; who I always thought of as my 'larger than life Hungarian Mama Rose.'  She was a real character but her strength and undying support of me and my dreams, propelled me all the way to Broadway. When she became ill, the tables turned... and I stepped into a very different role. MOTHER tells that story but hopefully in a very creative way.  It incorporates music, pop culture, humor and a narrative that goes back and forth through time to tell a story of love and what it truly means to be family.

What is it like being a part of Mother?:  Right now, it's an unbelievably amazing and exciting experience... a true labor of love, and I'm so thrilled to be a part of FringeNYC, I can't even describe it!
What kind of theater speaks to you?  What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love creative, innovative staging.  For example, I loved Peter and the Starcatcher. The recent Glass Menagerie, and a few years back, Stones in his Pockets.  (I can't wait to see Fiasco's Into the Woods choreographed by my friend Lisa Shriver.) When I was a young dancer in Germany, I went to everything Pina Bausch did.  That blend of dance, theater, set design and audio... this collage form of story telling... was a powerful influence on me.  I also LOVE the art of solo performance.  From the first time I saw Lily Tomlin's "Search for Signs of Intelligence" I was hooked.  And then Eric Bogosian, John Lequizamo, Spaulding Gray, Mike Daisy... I just love the range and versatility of these artists and their ability to create a whole world on the spot out of their words and themselves.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Oh, dear... I can't think past MOTHER at the moment!

What’s your favorite showtune?: Ack... how can I possibly pick just one??  Anything Sondheim.  Right now, I've got "Everybody Says Don't" on my brain... I think it's to inspire me to keep going.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Oh my gosh, there are so many!  Des McAnuff, for one.  I loved how he staged Billy Crystal's solo show, 700 Sundays.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: In my improv days, we used to joke that my movie would be: "Wigs in my knapsack... the Melinda Buckley story."  And I guess since a lot of people think I resemble Catherine Keener, she'd get to play me.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I really loved Fun Home at the Public last year.  And Murder for Two, which just closed.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I just checked my iTunes playlist.  It's a track called, "Middle Age Trifecta" and it underscores a funny bit in my show.  You'll have to come see MOTHER to hear it for yourself. ;)

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Sauvignon Blanc and dark chocolate.  Equal guilt.  Equal pleasure.

What’s up next?:  MOTHER at the FringeNYC!

For more on Melinda, visit www.melindabuckley.com

The Dreaded Q&A with...Jarrett Jay Yoder

Name: Jarrett Jay Yoder

Hometown: Archbold, Ohio

Education: The American Music and Dramatic Academy

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: The one and only Alan Price

Describe your character in three words: I love myself.

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: Brilliant, zany characters running around in the most hysterical way possible.

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Devilishly beautiful chaos.

What beauty pageant would you win?: Sushi Eating Contest….Pageant

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: Question and Answer

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: Victoria ;)

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: Myself

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: Matthew

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: Alexis

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: Victoria

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Alexis

Most likely to have a showmance: Sam and Brian

Most ruthless?: Madeline

Best pageant cry?: Julia

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: TIARA

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Miss Louisana’s answer to the Question and Answer

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Working with such and incredible cast, director, and writer.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: If you don’t see this show, your life will be chaos.

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Magic Exists

Write what you know. It's the mantra some writers live by while others stray far far away from. When you write what you know, chances are the emotional stakes will be ever present. In Cory Conley's latest play Magic Kingdom, Conley taps into a moment of his life, or a coincidental moment, and brings it to the stage in a wonderfully theatrical style. And who better to tell his story than Conley himself.
Magic Kingdom follows Cory as he travels to the Magic Kingdom to rescue his sister, Claire, and niece from, well, Claire. After being abandoned by her husband in Tomorrowland, Claire sets out to make a new home right in the Magic Kingdom. As insanity ensues, we meet a cast of characters including old and new flames for both siblings, zany tourists, and Mickey himself! No, not the mouse but the personification of the mouse’s corporation. Conley's script is nothing short of smart, clever, and beyond engaging. The theatricality of the world is quite brilliant. The story is told simply. Sure some of the circumstances are a bit out there but that's what makes Conley loveable. And if you're enthusiasts of the source location, there are some fun inside jokes for you. Despite the D word never being uttered, the Happiest Place on Earth is present through reference and projections. The one tiny question that begs to be asked is what if another actor played Cory. Would the story still be told properly? Sure, this is a personal story and Conley is a wonderful nonchalant comedian, but with such a beautiful script, any sense of indulgence would deter from its intent.
To bring this play to life, a fantastic ensemble of actors was assembled. Marisa Lark Wallin was fantastic as the wise beyond her years Emma. She easily played nine years old without becoming a caricature. Daniel K. Isaac as Mickey delivered some of the evenings greatest moments with his perfect deadpan as the iconic corporation. Cameron Michael Burns as Dylan and Tyler, two of Cory’s love interests, plays youthful and innocent with hilarity. Burns receives a show stopping applause after his rousingly entertaining Facebook post monologue. An extra special recognition should be given to Drew Ledbetter as the button pusher controlling the projections. If you caught Ledbetter in the back watching the show, you couldn’t help but smiling at how excited he was to watch the action.
Director Craig Baldwin does a fabulous job using the space to it’s fullest and keeping the action lively and entertaining. Baldwin’s brilliance in simplicity easily told the story, nailing the range of emotions lifted from Conley’s script. Miriam Nilofa Crowe’s lights were colorful, evoking the happy endorphins Magic Kingdom naturally spreads.
Magic Kingdom is nothing short but amusing and a beautiful script. The entire teams does a fantastic job telling Conley’s story. The burning question for the future is does this play live on without Cory as Cory. But without a doubt, this another incredible script from a brilliant mind.

The Dreaded Q&A with...Samantha Algieri

Name: Samantha Joanna Algieri

Hometown: Lyndhurst, NJ

Education: BA in Psychology

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Nicole, Miss Jerzy

Describe your character in three words: Blunt, Ballsy, Bitchy

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails:  A comedy about a bunch of dames who have no clue what the hell they’re doing at this pageant but they all feel they are the winners.

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Fun, Witty, Eccentric

What beauty pageant would you win?: The ‘I would rather be in yoga pants eating Ben&Jerry’s” pageant #CherryGarciaIsMyJam

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: The part where I walk from the line of girls to the microphone and back.  Oh!  And the fake smiling portion is ALL ME.

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: Ian, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.  

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: All of the above because we are all Gods creations and nobody is perfect

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: Sophie.  Always have to be careful with those Aryans, know what I’m saying?

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?:  Um, Julia, have you SEEN THAT HAIR.

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: Madeline.  She’s the tallest so she’s already on top of the future stage parent world.

Most likely to host a beauty pageant?: Alexis really nails it.  I think her alter ego is Marjorie and just doesn’t tell anyone.

Most likely to have a showmance: Jay and Matthew

Who's the most offensive?: Brian the Bostonian because he’s from, well,  Boston in which they tend to like New England sports team and that’s really offensive, so Y-E-A-H!

Most ruthless?: I’m going to say me because I really think it’s true

Best pageant cry?: Kate

Sash, bouquet, or tiara?: Divas want it ALL.

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?:  The part where I just drop the “f bomb” and walk away with complete sass.

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?:  Working with a great group of talented actors.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?:  Because I’m in it, DUH.

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails.com. For tickets, visit Smart Tix


Review: Mother's Day from Helen Back

Holidays with the family can certainly be an adventure. Sometimes the celebrations are happy and festive. Other times it can be a dramafest. In Colin Drucker’s new play Mother’s Day, we watch as a family is torn apart when they reunite on a very specific holiday.
Mother’s Day follows the Pollacks as they come together as a family to celebrate the titular holiday. This Mother’s Day is a special occasion as it is one of the first reunion in a long while and Joey Pollack, who is out and proud as drag queen Helen Back, reveals he is about to be a dad. Drucker’s bold script has its moments. With the exception of Karl Gregory as Joey slash Helen Back, the script and company goe from corny sitcom to overdramatic Lifetime movie. Before the drama comes in full force, the way director Reginald L. Douglas showcases the humor is through a very “here’s the set up, there’s the punchline” manner. Joey slash Helen Back spends the majority of the show dropping zings and very pointed insults, all of which happen to hilarious. The reactions and mannerisms lead to moments that may be better suited for a laugh track. The overall themes Drucker brings to light are quite interesting. The way the Pollacks treat Joey as his Helen Back persona is wonderful to watch. Acceptance is a beautiful thing. But as we soon learn the true nature of the family, the sides each member takes, and specifically the concessions mother Liz takes in her treatment of Joey slash Helen Back is quite horrific. What was once a fun play about a loving family quickly turns into something quite upsetting. The climax truly does tear a family apart. Could this be realistic? Absolutely. But seeing this portrayal on stage is devastating. Liz Pollack is a hateable character. Whether it’s the character or Gregory’s brilliant performance, he’s likeable. When pitted against Liz, there is no way to have any empathy for her.
The ensemble overall is quite polarizing. Karl Gregory is by far the best part of the show. Gregory does a flawless job shifting from “always on” Helen Back and damaged Joey. Gregory’s performance is so strong, he makes the rest of the cast look mediocre at best. Brough Hansen has very little to work with as older brother Nicky. Nicky’s presence allows for trouble to stir up, putting him mostly on the defense. The scene between Hansen and Gregory is the strongest and most grounded in the entire show. Liz Pollack is a despicable character. Renee Claire Bergeron’s portrayal of the horror mom is simply a whiney victim with no redeeming qualities. There are moments when you want to boo Bergeron’s Liz. From what we see of the character, there is no hope for her to get help and change. Bergeron and Neal Lerner as husband Talbott have very little chemistry and believability. The script is a family dramedy at its core. With the addition of a non family member retracts from it's purpose. Rhonda Ayers as Suzanne is more if a device than a necessity. Next to Gregory, Bergeron, Lerner, and Ayers showcase almost a community theater quality to their performance.
Reginald L. Douglas has an almost Jekyll and Hyde approach to the script. Sure, there is comedy and drama within, but they are so drastic they feel as if they’re lifted from two separate plays. His staging is filled with actor movements just to create new stage pictures. Gregory’s Joey slash Helen Back falls victim to this quite often, especially when preparing for a joke. The set by Colin McGurk evokes the lived-in New Jersey home quite well providing the basic necessities. Costume designer Orli Nativ did a fabulous job dressing Helen Back and giving Nicky the local punch. The costumes for the other three, especially Suzanne’s leopard print, were very hokey, reminiscent of the sitcom feel.
Mother’s Day is a script with so much promise. It is a script that needs a nice polish and a stronger vision. Regardless of it’s future, Karl Gregory’s character is an integral part of what this story is.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Dreaded Q&A with...Matthew Menendez

Name: Matthew Menendez

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Education: Associates in Dramatic Arts / Film and Television

Who do you play in Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Terence

Describe your character in three words: Sassy, Classy, and Bold

Tell us about Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails: Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails is the stereotypical comedy you have always wanted to see. You take the best regions of the USA to poke fun at and a few gay jokes and you have a good time and a lot of laughs. On top of that you have it all taking place in a beauty pageant. That’s the cherry on top of “the very moist cake”.

Describe Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails in three words: Bawdy, Hilarious, and Ridiculous

What beauty pageant would you win?: Seeing as how I don’t have the face or genitalia for Miss America, I would say, is there a pageant for Miss Skinny ass?

What pageant portion are you most likely to dominate?: The Pageant portion I would dominate would have to be evening gown wear.  I look great in a dress. It would be fitting up top with shimmer all over, and a slit up to my thigh.

Which company member is most likely to lie, cheat, or steal their way to glory?: I’m going to say Brian Collins, Joey from Jersey Shore. Maybe not so much Brain himself he’s a sweetheart but his other half Joey… not so much.

Most likely to commit a beauty fail?: Beauty fail goes to … damn… me. Not my other half, Terence he’s flawless but me… oy.

Most likely to be involved in a scandal?: I feel like Jay Yoder would be the one to be in a scandal. Just does.

Most likely to win Miss Congeniality?: Miss Congeniality has to go to the hilarious Alexis. In and out of character she’s just the most original, funny, sweet heart around.

Most likely to be a future stage parent?: This maybe Terence talking but I don’t see anyone being a bat shit crazy pageant mom. No, nada, no way.

Most likely to have a showmance: Oy vey… I guess I got to say me and Yoder, I mean we do hard core make out. Also given the fact more than half our cast are girls and the few boys we have are well... not interested in those parts, makes things a little difficult.

Who’s the most offensive?: Most offensive…. I guess character wise Miss New Jersey, but Samantha is a sweetie. Represent!

Most ruthless?: No doubt most ruthless would be Heather Cadarette. She will stop at nothing to get her way. Nah, she’s a angel. Now her other half Bonnie Rae, she’s a different story.

Best pageant cry?: This hands down goes to Miss Utah, Julia. You will just have to see why when you see the show.

Sash, bouquet or tiara?: Tiara all the way, what little gay boy doesn’t dream of owning a tiara.

What is your favorite moment of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: Oh geesh, my favorite moment would have to be… the cat fight. Best!! Makes me laugh every time I see it.

What is the most rewarding part about being a member of Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: The most rewarding part Is working with such a beautiful and talented cast. It’s not every day you get to work with such a great cast and I’m loving every moment.

Why should we come see Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails?: You should come see it because you will regret it if you don’t. This is going to make waves in the theatre and you are not going to want to miss this piece of theatre history. Trust me.

For more on Pageant Tales and Beauty Fails, visit facebook.com/pageanttalesandbeautyfails. For tickets, visit Smart Tix.


Review: A 1950s Puppet's House

Every now and again you go in blindly seeing a show. Let the wind take you were it may. Before seeing Coffee and Biscuit I knew nothing about it besides there being puppets. As the play progressed and I figured out just exactly what I was watching, I had a newfound love for this piece. Coffee and Biscuit is a genius new telling of the Ibsen classic A Doll's House
Set in the 1950s against a backdrop of Hoovers and Jell-O, Coffee and Biscuit follows Nora Helmer on a journey through feminism and gender roles in a media-influenced society. Oh, and there are puppets. Coffee and Buscuit is a wildly innovative and spectacular exploration of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House through a thought-provoking lens and era. Written by Teresa Ann Virginia Bayer, Coffee and Biscuit turns the classic right on its head, analyzing the specific theme of women and presenting a gallant view. The characters from the source material have gotten a lovely update playing an integral part in Nora’s journey. The men of Nora’s world are played by puppets operated by women. The only man on stage is a well dressed man who serves as Nora’s puppet master. What Bayer does well is gives a fresh approach to an overdone story. By having an ensemble of strong women operate the male characters, the commentary of gender roles is even more present and stimulating.
Zoe Farmingdale gives a tour de force performance, leading the pack as Nora. Farmingdale brings an airy, innocent quality to the housewife. Bethany Nicole Taylor brings great character work to Betty, Nora’s best friend. Her balance between actress and puppeteer is seamless and unrecognizable. Mike Racioppa as the Man personifies the puppet master idea quite well. He’s presence is subtle yet impactful. Rounding out the ensemble were Melissa Diane Martin as Harold the husband, Cindy Kay as Carl the loaner, and Alexandra Gellner as Dr. Smith. They each brought variety as puppeteer and television ad.
Regardless of where you lean toward the moral of this piece, the approach by the entire team takes is remarkable. The manic world that Nora lives in is defined by a greyscale set designed stunningly by Douglas Clarke. Despite not having a working television for the performance, the production was near flawless. The costume design by Alexandra Rozansky was stunning, placing Nora in her grey world and the rest of the ladies in matching outfits of color. Christina Watanabe’s lights added an extra boost of color. Watanabe went above and beyond giving the ladies’ television moments the right feel. The only dramaturgical question that Coffee and Biscuit was whether the original music by Jay Spriggs correct. The music Spriggs brought was beautiful and worked well for the mood of the play but it was the only element of the show that was not in the same period. The true stars of the show were the puppets. Designed by PuppetFluff and Bayer, each character truly had it’s own unique identity.

Teresa Ann Virginia Bayer devised a world that worked wonders as an individual play as well as paying great respect to the source material. What Coffee and Biscuit does well is it opens up a conversation about the source material as well as the themes it presents. By having a clever device with the puppets, the theme is subtler.