Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Block Talk- Episode 17- Joshua Young



In today's episode of Block Talk, I sit down with Josh Young to talk about The Playwriting Collective and their upcoming fundraiser Godzilla vs My Ex-Girlfriends coming to Dixon Place!

For more on the event, visit http://dixonplace.org/performances/godzilla-vs-my-ex-girlfriends-a-playwriting-collective-party/

To listen to the episode, visit iTunes or Soundcloud and make sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an episode!

And visit patreon.com/theaterinthenow to become a patron today!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: Stacy Layne Matthews Shares the Love

By Michael Block

The Laurie Beechman Theater is the hub for the RuPaul’s Drag Race queens to showcase their talents off the screen. Unlike a club, the stage is theirs to do what with they please. Season 3 icon Stacy Layne Matthews shares the love in her show From Stacy with Love.
photo by Michael Block
A quick night of song, From Stacy with Love is a showcase for Stacy Layne Matthews and her soulful voice. Decked out in a beautiful blood red gown covered with stones, Stacy Layne Matthews found a safe space on stage to share some of her favorite love songs that played a part in her life. The set list was quite ballad heavy. But the truth is, when you think of love songs, they tend to be slow. Despite what was presented, she found moments to tell the story of why the upcoming song had an impact on her life. For example Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” included an anecdote about falling in love with a best friend. Or how, following special guest Natalie Weiss, she discussed how “Quiet” was a song she played on repeat during a hard time. These stories, paired with song, was when From Stacy with Love was at its finest. Stacy Layne Matthews has R&B soul with a lot of heart in her song. She has more to give but held back a bit. When she did open up and riffed off of the audience, she felt at home with her hennies. Hopefully the next iteration will include more comfort.
With more polish and confidence, From Stacy with Love can be a special night of love and song. If there’s one thing to take away from this show it’s that if you ever felt like you’re the only person who’s experienced a broken heart, you’re not alone.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spotlight On...Joshua De Jesus

Name: Joshua De Jesus

Hometown: I’ve moved around a lot during the recent years so I don’t have one set hometown. Born in Washington Heights, raised in Bushwick, moved out to Bay Shore, Long Island, currently in Dix Hills, Long Island.

Education: Bay Shore High School (Freshman year) Half Hollow Hills West High school (Sophomore-Senior Year) Long Island High School for the Arts (Senior Year)

Select Credits: Runaways (Encores! City Center); Guest star season 5 of "Chicago Fire"

Why theater?: It was the most accessible form of art to me growing up. Theatre is a way to find yourself. Even if it isn't for you, it can open you up to various other opportunities as well.

Who do you play in Wink?: Wink!

Tell us about Wink: Wink is a timely piece of theater revolving a homeless and traumatized gender questioning teenager, and Dario Villanova, an ex-A list actor doing B movies, both down on their luck in Los Angeles. Their kindred spirits bond over doo-wop music and an effort to forge a heartfelt and unconventional love story of surrogate father and child.

What is it like being a part of Wink?: It’s been a rollercoaster of an experience. Definitely the biggest challenge I’ve faced thus far as an actor trying to tell the story of this fragile being with complete authenticity.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Unconventional theater. Theater that doesn’t hesitate to provide a new experience for audience members that are both avid theater goers and newcomers alike. As an artist, names like Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Oscar Isaac are all huge inspirations to me, all whom are hispanic and began at the theater. They really set the bar for me.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: ANY role in a Stephen Adly Gurgis play. He’s my favorite.

What’s your favorite showtune?: “Heaven on Their Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: That’s a hard one, there’s so many! I’ve always wanted to work with Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s an all around talent.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Either Jay Hernandez or Rami Malek. I don’t think I’ve experienced enough of life to come up with a title yet.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Al Pacino in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Lynn Nottage’s new play Sweat.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Taking really long hot showers.

What’s up next?: Something very very exciting!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: A Sensitive Story About A Traumatized Child

By Ed Malin

Rising Sun Performance Company begins its 16th season with Child’s Play, written by Kevin D. Ferguson and directed by Brock Harris Hill. Vera, a child psychologist (Crystal Edn) frames the story with a TED Talk which she is delivering after the events we see on stage.  Vera has worked with a ten year-old girl named Cindy (Raiane Cantisano) who suddenly stopped using words to communicate.  Saddened by their daughter’s silence, Cindy’s strong-willed mother (Mercedes Vasquez) and gentle step-father (Michael Pichardo) have sought out Vera’s help.  Vera is able to talk to Cindy and get nods and other non-verbal responses.  Also, Cindy uses action toys to tell the story of a princess whose parents stifle her ambition of fighting a dragon; that is, until she gets help from a warrior.  These clue-filled episodes are performed on a human scale by Christian Victoria Allen, Ashleigh Herndon, Katie Lynn Esswein and Ronald Kitts.   Vera has some meeting with Cindy’s mother and step-father, where she learns that Cindy’s mother keeps insisting that everything was fine in their house up until Cindy stopped talking.  However, Cindy’s step-father has a different point of view.  He says that, during the years he spent living with Cindy’s mother before they got married, his bride’s parents were cold to him.  What happened when Cindy went to her grandparents’ house for the duration of her mother and step-father’s honeymoon?  Who is the dragon who has caused so much suffering to several of the characters?  When Cindy tells you, you may find yourself crying.
photo by N-K Photography
Raiane Cantisano’s performance as Cindy and her transformation from tortured girl to triumphant young person in control of herself is worth watching.  Mercedes Vasquez gives a dynamite performance as a very strong woman who is shutting out her family while she continues to overcome much bad karma.  It is really a triumph to see the patient, nurturing Crystal Edn and the empowered Cindy finally get Cindy’s mother to listen to them.  Director Brock Harris Hill helps us get into the characters’ heads so we can confront the sensitive, unpleasant truth.   This happens at a decent pace, never boring, always making me want to embrace the evolving complexity of the story.  I am still not clear whether events such as these could be discussed in such identifying detail in a TED Talk, nor whether a young person in shock can recover quite so quickly, but the rest of the story is very moving and well-acted.

Spotlight On...Katie Goodman

Name: Katie Goodman

Hometown: Boston

Education: U. Penn

Why theater?: I’m starting to think it’s the only thing that can save the world. Besides kale. And pharmaceudicals like post-election anti-anxiety meds. In that order. Or star with the kale. Get a good jump on the day.

Who do you play in Broad Comedy?: We all play about ten parts. Ya know, from talking vaginas to MILF’s to rats in a maze. Just the usual Off-Broadway parts.

Tell us about Broad Comedy: Ever wonder what would happen if “Inside Amy Schumer” & “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” had a child and hired Tim Minchin as the manny? That’s pretty much us.

What is it like being a part of Broad Comedy?:  It’s really the joy of my life. The camaraderie is endless and we get to evolve as the world changes.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Comedy has always challenged me more than drama so I love doing comedy and I love watching drama. I am inspired by other writers who are trying to figure out what we all want to say in this trying time. I love seeing other artists create their own work from scratch. It’s freaking exhausting but satisfying.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I have already done all of the ones I was dying to do because I spent 15 years running my own theater. (It’s good to be the King…er, queen.) Faves were the Nanny in Baby With The Bathwater, and the title role in Edwin Drood.

What’s your favorite showtune?:  I’d be a real schmuck to name one of my own, so I guess I’d have to say anything by my buddy Lawrence O’Keefe (Batboy), and there are a few from Altar Boys (particularly "Epiphany") and Book of Mormon ("Turn It Off"… hmmm… noticing a theme here) that are faves. I also am still a fangirl of In The Heights ("96,000"), and, yeah, I love some of the greats like "America", and "Suddenly Seymour."

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:  Tim Minchin and Samantha Bee. Together. In a musical we’d call Trumped. I have no idea what the story would be but it would be glorious. And it would get panned. But we wouldn’t care.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Sarah Silverman. “All Fucked Up.”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I’d like to see Tom Lehrer and Victor Borge live. There are so few musical comics and they are my heroes.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon.

What’s up next?: This! I can’t think past it!

For more on Katie, visit www.KatieGoodman.com

Spotlight On...Brian Mulay

Name: Brian Mulay

Hometown:  Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Been in NYC since 1999.

Education:  BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of Michigan

Favorite Credits: Falsettoland, 42nd Street, Godspell 

Why theater?: It has the power to transform the way a person thinks.

Tell us about The Love Curriculum: One day I realized that my love life has been the reverse of what many people experience.  Then it occurred to me that we're all learning the same lessons, but they just occur in a different order for everyone.  I wanted to put together a show that explored these lessons by relating my experience and allowing others to reflect on theirs.

What inspired you to write The Love Curriculum?:  Situations I've experienced in my life seem to be reflected in the musical theatre songs I've listened to over the years.  We've all heard songs that make us say "that's my life!"  I wanted to do something with the songs that have shaped my life in hopes that others will relate as well.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:  My favorite kind of theater is the kind that forces you to think and question what you already know.  It was always stars and legends of the musical theater who seemed to be able to do everything: Ben Vereen, Gene Kelley, Chita Rivera, and Judy Garland, just to name a few.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:  I adore Patti LuPone.  I'd be content just to have dinner with her!

What show have you recommended to your friends?:  Next To Normal, Title Of Show, Waitress, Avenue Q, so many....

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Oh, it's already been done.  Amy Adams played me.  It was a little movie called "Enchanted".  Lol

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Who wouldn't want to time travel to see Barbra Streisand play Fanny Brice in the original Funny Girl on Broadway.  That had to have been thrilling to see a star be born.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:  RuPaul's Drag Race and everything on the Food Network or Cooking Channel.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:  I have a wonderful job outside of theater working for Nespresso as a training specialist.  My Nespresso family is very special to me and I'm so grateful for their support of my theatrical ventures.

What’s up next?:  Brainstorming on an idea about exploring the four elements of fire, water, earth and air from a musical perspective.

Block Talk- Episode 16- Daniel John Kelley



On this episode of Block Talk, I sit down with Daniel John Kelley, playwright of That True Phoenix! 

For more on That True Phoenix, visit teamawesomerobot.com!

To listen to the episode, visit iTunes or Soundcloud! And don't forget to subscribe to never miss an episode.

And visit patreon.com/theaterinthenow to learn about how you can support the website and receive more content like this!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Meet the Queens! Lady Liberty Semifinals Round 1!

Lady Liberty is in their FOURTH CYCLE! So who is competing to snatch the crown in the first semifinal round? It's time to meet the Queens. Check them out Friday, April 21st at the Ace Hotel. Doors Open at 7:00pm, Drag Race Viewing Party at 8:00pm, and the Lady Liberty Drag Competition, hosted by Brita Filter and Terra Hyman, at 9:00pm

MEET THE QUEENS

 What is your drag name?: Egypt

What is the origin of your drag name?: For the longest time everywhere I would go people thought I was from Egypt so I said since they already saying I'm from their why not name myself Egypt.

How did you get involved in the drag community?: I started competing back in September of last year as an androgynous performer and this past January I entered my first pageant Ms. Barracuda.

What or who inspires you as a performer?: The people who inspired me to start coming out clammed up were grace Jones and Leigh Bowery.

If you had your own show, what would it be?: If I had my own show I would have it were the audience would get a chance to raise money for different organizations benefiting the LGBTQ community.

What is your go-to lip sync song?: My go to lip sync is "I Am Telling You" from Dreamgirls 

Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: My instagram is Therealegypt


What is your drag name?: Jessie James

What is the origin of your drag name?: My favorite female vocalist is Jessie J! The name also ties in with the famous bank robber, Jessica Rabbit, and I love that the name Jessie is androgynous

How did you get involved in the drag community?: After having one experience with a drag queen, that was it! The amount of sole talent, passion, and tenacity it takes is unsurpassable and respectively admirable. Being able to utilize and strengthen multiple artistic outlets at once is invigorating!

What or who inspires you as a performer?: Strong, committed performers are my biggest inspiration. Artists that are 100% unapologetically and authentically themselves is fuel for my fire!

If you had your own show, what would it be?: A cabaret or a game show!

What is your go-to lip sync song?: "Mama Knows Best" - Jessie J

Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @JessieJamesNY everywhere!


What is your drag name?: Miss Carriage

What is the origin of your drag name?: The inability of a higher power to keep me from the current situation of "alive" that I am in.

How did you get involved in the drag community?: I've seen all to many shows and thought what the hell.

What or who inspires you as a performer?: Chameleons.

If you had your own show, what would it be?: I'd never have my own show because my hamstrings can't handle all the drop splits.

What is your go-to lip sync song?: Lucky

Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @datgirlmisscarriage @tayteehanson




What is your drag name?: Shirley U Jest

What is the origin of your drag name?: I got it from the movie Airplane!

How did you get involved in the drag community?: I played dress-up in preschool and I've never been the same since.

What or who inspires you as a performer?: Big theatre comedy divas like Carol Burnett

If you had your own show, what would it be?: Two hours of me lip syncing to "Mah Na Mah Na" by the Muppets

What is your go-to lip sync song?: "Rose's Turn" (the Bernadette Peters revival)

Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: Facebook-Shirley U. Jest, Instagram @thinkoutleod, twitter Jest_a_girl



What is your drag name?: Sullivan

What is the origin of your drag name?: Somewhere in Ireland?

How did you get involved in the drag community?: As a little boy I would drape a towel down my head pretending it was beautiful luscious hair. The drag community is the closest thing to reliving my childhood fantasies

What or who inspires you as a performer?: Creating experiences with people through artistic expression and connection

If you had your own show, what would it be?: Two parts. First half: a choral and theatrical performance in a concert hall or church! During the intermission, the audience will head over to a nearby cabaret space or a bar to watch the second half. singing. vaudeville. dance. comedy. The works!

What is your go-to lip sync song?: Anything by Babz

Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: mike3sullivan


What is your drag name?: Tess Tickles

What is the origin of your drag name?: My friends were just throwing random names at me of things I liked and testickles just so happened to be number one.

How did you get involved in the drag community?: We have a super small drag community here in Westchester and I started going to their Thursday shows a few years ago at a young age, and a few years later I decided to give it a try and stuck to it.

What or who inspires you as a performer?: My drag inspirations are all the westchester queens starting with Gigi Cutina, dotty Spartans, Rhoda Rollin Stone and Bella Biscotti.They all taught me different things about drag and made me who i am today.

If you had your own show, what would it be?: If I could have my own show it would be a show where I could get new queens involved in because I don't feel like they have many opportunities and only get to perform in competitions where they don't really get to showcase who they are as a drag queen.

What is your go-to lip sync song?: "Voodoo Pussy" by Miss Prada

Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: Instagram @whostesstickles Facebook: Dan Richards (Tess Tickles)



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spotlight On...Molly Kelleher

Name: Molly Kelleher

Hometown: Guilderland, NY

Education: Emerson College

Select Credits: Broad Comedy member of the troupe for nearly a decade,  recently seen on “Hack My Life” on TruTV , her film “The Cat Callers”(finalist at the New York Downtown Short Film Festival), as well as this past summer’s NYCFRINGE festival with The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer written by the amazing Michael Bradley Block. You may also recognize her from teenVOGUE’S “Ask a Comedian” video series. Her upcoming project “BERT”, a web series she is co-creating will be hitting YouTube this fall. Throngs of internet trolls are anxiously awaiting the usage of their comment buttons.

Why theater?: I spent about five years performing for children as Helen Keller and this role was my most satisfying theatrical role to date. To tell the story of such an incredible woman is the gift theater gives the world. Before I step on stage I want to run away as fast as possible (every time), but once I’m out there I feel truly whole. That is the gift theater gives me. The gift to trust fall into the story and pleasure of the audience’s experiences.

Who do you play in Broad Comedy?:  I play over a dozen characters. We are a fast moving political-comedy-musical troupe (say that five times fast), so every 3-5 minutes I’m someone else!

Tell us about Broad Comedy: Broad Comedy is a musical comedy show. We are a very liberal, sex positive, empowering, feminist and we manage to make that really really funny! We are different from your usual sketch shows however. I think of our pieces more like 20 mini stories rather than sketches that are looking to just find the laugh. You will laugh, but you will also be asked to think. I hope it inspires our audiences to get involved in the movements that matter most to them!

What is it like being a part of Broad Comedy?: This show, the Soho Playhouse run, has been my dream for a decade. I started working with the company when the did a quick run in Boston ten years ago. I’ve since performed with them a Planned Parenthood fundraisers, colleges, the Triad Theater, and the PIT. The show is originally out of Bozeman MT where we have another amazing cast of actresses but now our NYC cast is taking this city by storm. And I’m just thrilled to be part of it!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Telling stories that make you think. That leave you wanting to do more, learn more, feel deeper or stronger about a topic. I love working on conversation starters! I’m inspired by so many things all of the time. I’m a total nerd for learning and reading. I never feel full of knowledge or curiosity. NYC inspires me. My friends and fellow artists inspire me. I’m also a Yoga and Pilates teacher, I find movement inspires me greatly. I’m mad for magical realism and Gustav Klimt. I like my life sprinkled with a little bit of wonderment.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Yes! I can’t wait to play Berta in Pippin some day. Trina in Falsettos. I’d love to play Marisol in Jose Rivera’s Marisol (but I never will…for obvious reasons) still I love his writing so much!

What’s your favorite showtune?: This is an impossible question. But I’ll tell you I am looking to learn a few from the new Amelie (which I saw at Berkley Rep).

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: For TV: I have an actor crush on Walton Googins and Aaron Sorkin. For (recent) Theater: I fell in love with Taylor Louderman (Kinky Boots) this past week. She’s my favorite kind of actress….always busy, always in character. totally committed.  For “THE DREAM”: Meryl, Cate, Kate, Helen, Jane+Lili, Judi, Kathy, Julianne, Susan, Sissy, Francis, Maggie, Glenn, Tom, Jack, Morgan, Ed….I’m easily inspired.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: “French Bulldogs, Wine, and Ambition” starring Jade Jolie

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I recently missed out on The Color Purple and Bridges of Madison County. Tori Amos’ “The Light Princess” that played in the West End. I would have loved to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in anything he ever did.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Hamilton, have you seen it…the tickets are real easy to get.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: HGTV, give me Chip and Joanna with a side of Nicole any day

What’s up next?: I’m in the middle of writing a new web series and filming that this summer. We have a bunch more Broad Comedy shows coming up. And I’m taking a week off at the end of August for a much needed break away from America!

For more on Molly, visit mollykelleher.com!