Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: Lifestyles of the Rich and Privileged

Not all good kids are good. Some use their brains as a façade to hide the bad that’s truly inside. There’s a common stereotype that all the smart kids in high school are good kids. This is absolutely not the case in Jacob Presson’s Very Bad Words. The play follows three privileged geniuses after they get tattled on for speaking their potty-mouthed minds, tarnishing their perfect reputations, and thus seeking revenge because how dare anyone do that!
The plot is pretty simple. Three kids get in trouble and play a prank on the kid who turned them in. The aftermath isn’t pretty. The kid then kills himself. Presson’s characters are smart, driven individuals who could only function as a trio. They are the offspring of the well-to-do who have no regard for consequences. When it looked like Steve, the tag-along, was going to have a complete character change, Presson decided to twist the ending and make it realistic. None of the characters change, something that doesn’t happen often and is unrealistic when it doesn't happen in plays of this nature. Hate the characters all you want, they’re real. Despite this, there were moments where the actions and reactions seemed contrived. Another scene of longer reaction time could have been used before the execution of Will, the ringleader's, final plan. The script comments heavily on the power of words and how in today’s society some of these hurtful words are meaningless. Except certain words were a catalyst for a horrible action. Presson’s characters spew very bad words in every sentence, distracting from the impact of the important words. Do they need the foul language throughout? Probably not. It seemed to be there for laughs. Let’s be honest, if you spewed out the words these three did in the school office in front of the secretary, this trio would have been expelled on the spot.
The cast of three worked well off of each other. As Will, PJ Adzmia made a despicable person loveable. Adzima is a natural, performing with great depth, from high comedy to intense dramatic. He was definitely the standout of the bunch. Adam Warwinsky’s vulnerability showed through as Steve. Though his character wasn’t consistent, Warwinsky shined when Steve displayed the paranoia side of the character. Olivia Macklin’s Taylor was annoying, which is exactly what she was written to be. In the end, she is equally, if not more, selfish as Will.
Director Jake Ahlquist does a wonderful job taking the extreme characters and circumstances and grounding them. He works the simplicity angle well. Emily Auciello’s sound design was lively and energetic, tying the scenes and monologues together nicely with Gary Slootisky’s lights.
The story is poignant. Though at times preachy, cleverly disguised through characters, Very Bad Words personifies the cruelty within these situations. You want these characters to lose and get what they deserve, but like real life, they end up winning in the end.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spotight On...Summer Broyhill

Name: Summer Broyhill

Hometown: Marietta, Georgia

Education: Bachelor of Music, Florida State University and an Internship with Georgia Shakespeare Festival

Select Credits: A whole lotta Hairspray (Broadway/National Tour), Independents (FringeNYC '12), and some awesome regional stuff: Jane in the post-Broadway regional premiere of Tarzan, Cathy in The Last Five Years at Virginia Stage Company, Kate in Kiss Me, Kate opposite Davis Gaines.  I've been pretty gosh darn lucky. 

Why theater?: You know when someone's having a revelation onstage, or reaching some hilarious or heartbreaking emotional climax and you somehow feel like they are connecting you to God, like a divine light is reaching down through them, then out to you, grabbing your heart and making it beat a little faster?  An epiphanic moment.  An a-ha moment, as Oprah would say.  I live for that.

Tell us about Killer Therapy: A ruthless assassin seeks rehabilitation by way of an overly apologetic pacifist therapist who is on her way to spin class.  They debate life's most polarizing questions of morality using push-ups, roundhouse kicks, and a mutilated orange.  Though Killer Therapy opens on a fairly wild concept, the themes are universal and incredibly relevant: must we be weak in order to connect? Must we be violent to be strong? Does being an "uncompromising" person oblige you to compromise values? And most importantly: what happens when even your therapist is unravelling?"

What is it like being a part of Killer Therapy?: Brandt created a piece that, like any good piece of writing, leaves itself open to a lot of discussion and interpretation.  What was lovely about the process was that even though I came in reading things in it that he did not intend, he didn't ignore these things.  We embraced them and let them help imbue the piece with more colors that will probably elicit more questions.  That and Katie Lindsay is pretty much the greatest director ever.  She has this magical balance of being able to coax powerful moments out of actors while having a great ear for comic timing.  Sometimes comedy and truth feel like star-crossed lovers: when they are together, it's fireworks and orchestral swells, but the two kids never can seem to sneak out of the house for long enough to be in one place.  Katie's like the friar.  Katie marries them, hoping for a better world. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
I love theater that is transformative, that shows that we are capable of rebirth, of rising from the ashes.  I love theater that makes me laugh while I cry, that says I am not alone, that describes perfectly the moment when. I love theater that makes me believe in miracles. 

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Millie in Millie, Vanda in Venus in Fur, Melody in Be a Good Little Widow, Nina in The Seagull, and Julie Jordan in Carousel.

What’s your favorite showtune?: "Finishing the Hat" maybe.  I know that's so typical.  I also really love "Brigadoon".  Like, really.  "Come to me, bend to me"?  I swoon.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
I want to do a Pete Mills musical with Pete Mills.  I want to work with Alex Timbers.  I want to speak the words of Amy Herzog and Bekah Brunstetter because I want to be as witty and insightful as they are.  And I want to be mentored by Young Jean Lee.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
Samuel L. Jackson.  He has always been my first and only choice.  As for the title, I dunno. 
Bad Ass Vegan Motherfucker"?  Can you say Motherfucker on this site? 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Cupola Bobber's The Field, The Mantel pretty much rocked my world. Peter and the Starcatcher was the greatest thing I think I've ever seen on Broadway.  Belleville at NYTW was horrifying and thrilling.  And I loved Jake Lipman's Tongue in Cheek company's production of The Mistakes Madeline Made this spring.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:  I feel like people always say either "sugar" or "bad tv" or some combination of the two in regards to this question.  I feel guilt about neither brownies nor Rupaul's drag race (I mean, except to the extent that I feel guilty about western excess generally).  What do I feel guilty about?  Spending ten dollars on juice at Organic Avenue. What on earth is wrong with me??

What’s up next?: A renaissance of wonder.  I feel it. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Totes Not in Kansas

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and have no sense of popular culture then you’re well aware of the story of Dorothy and pals, also known as “The Wizard of Oz”, and there’s no need for me to recap the story. If you have been living under a rock, welcome to the surface, and to some up the source material, Kansas girl Dorothy and her dog Toto are transported to the mysterious land of Oz where she accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the East. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, vows revenge on the teen murderer. But before she can, Glinda, the good witch, sends Dorothy on a scavenger hunt down the Yellow Brick Road to find the Wizard of Oz. Along the way she meets the brainless Scarecrow, the heartless Tin Man, and the cowardly Lion. They meet the Wizard, who’s not all he’s cracked up to be, and defeat the Wicked Witch by drowning her, all while Dorothy realizes it was all a dream. Trippy, right? Perfect piece to turn into a modern remix, right? You would think.
Haberdasher Theatre took the L. Frank Baum classic and transported it to modern day NYC. The program note gives a detailed description of how it’s going to work. Spunky Dorothy meets gun-wielding Glinda, drama queen Wicked Witch of the West “Side”, starving artist Scarecrow, emotionally damaged Tin Man, Prozac dependent Lion, and the not so wonderful Wizard. Sounds like it should work, right? Unfortunately the execution was so far off that the program note was a stretch at best. Taking the beloved story and playing with it is a risk, but could have worked if done with care. With an adaptation by Jeannette Jaquish and Hollie Klem and directed by Klem, many of their ideas seem to have never been lifted off the drawing board. There were definitely shades of a remix in The Wonderful Remix of Oz, but it was too much like watching the movie with actors in brilliantly designed modern costumes. The choices and references didn’t quite resonate as well as they needed to. The adaptation wanted to be trippy and dark. Instead, we saw a funny take up that tried too hard. Luckily the story is recognizable that the twists on the original were easy to follow, despite how extraneous they may be.
With wild ideas to play with, the cast made some choices themselves. Not all for the best. Pamela Karp took The Wicked Witch of the West to the worst possible place, making her almost unrecognizable. Alex Coelho’s heartless Tinman lacked emotion, taking the emotionally damaged bit too far. Amy Lee Sanchez as Glinda gave the good witch some sass, though with her fabulous pink gown, she could have given her more bite. Jennifer Michaels did a fine job as Dorothy. There was, however, one giant standout in the company. Jeff Foley as the Scarecrow was extraordinary. With his brilliant comic delivery and commitment to the physicality of the character, Foley shines as the highlight of the production. Only Katie Grammes wonderfully whimsical costumes could overshadow Foley’s performance.
The Wonderful Remix of Oz is not your nostalgia Oz. It had its moments where it worked, but overall it fell under the rainbow. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spotlight On...Nathan Gregorski

Name: Nathan Gregorski

Hometown: Scottville, MI

Education: BA in Theater Performance from Western Michigan University

Favorite Credits:
Directing: Far Away (WMU), Mother Courage and Her Children (Asst. Director, WMU). Writing: The short film "Kin" (with co-writer Rachel Lambert, Distiller Films)

Why theater?:
I love stories. I love stories with magic and fantastical elements. And I love the challenge of telling these stories onstage with the limitations of live theatre. How can you make someone fly in a simple black box theater? How can you jump back and forth through time and space? How can you create the illusion of castles or forests or planets without the use of elaborate set pieces? It's part staging and it's part agreement with the audience. It is so exciting to have an audience say, "I know that actor is standing on a chair but he's telling me it's a mountain so I am going to agree that he is standing on a mountain." What's better than that?

Tell us about Orbiting Astral Bodies?: Orbiting Astral Bodies begins with the Moon's announcement that she is leaving planet Earth. She feels forgotten, unloved. She is tired of watching everything but having no part. So she decides to go off on her own. Luckily, the government is building a new silicon moon to replace her. Moon 2.0 will control the tides and record the months and light up the night, so no biggie, right? Depends which of the other five characters you ask. Mark opposes the Moon's leaving, going so far as to chain her to the Earth. Warren wants to go with the Moon in an effort to slow the passing of time so he can discover his true purpose. Meanwhile, Gillian is afraid of...everything. She collects travel books but won't get on a plane. And her friend Claire falls in love with Allen, the man of her dreams found in her dreams. But is he real or illusory? These interwoven stories explore characters seeking safety in a mad world and asking, "Can we replace something real with something fake?" Oh, and it's funny.

What inspired you to create Orbiting Astral Bodies?: Orbiting Astral Bodies came out of the typical post-collegiate wanderings and ponderings. I myself was in that limbo space of "What do I want to do with my life? Where do I want to go?" The world around me seemed to be in shambles, there was war, the economy was in the tank, then there was the oil spill in the gulf, and eventually Occupy Wall Street. There was a lot of shit going down (can I say "shit"?) and I felt pretty powerless in the big grand scheme. So I decided to write a play about the end of the world. But I wasn't concerned with the big-picture issues like the science of the moon leaving or the politics or the grand global reaction. I'm a fan of stories like Another Earth or The Road that explore big events from a microcosm. Like those stories, I wanted to follow a few characters as they struggled to accept (or curb) the oncoming new reality.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I enjoy theater that embraces the fact that it is theater. As theater artists we are given this wonderful opportunity to do things that can't be done on television or in cinemas and I love when a play takes that opportunity and runs with it. As an artist I'm inspired greatly by music, I listen to a lot of it while I'm writing. Also by other plays and I read a lot of books. I read a lot of news because truth really is stranger than fiction.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Matthew Weiner, the creator of "Mad Men". The man is a genius. I would kill to write an episode. And I would love to write a musical with singer/songwriter Josh Ritter.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The last show I went gaga over was The Other Place with Laurie Metcalf. God, that play. I saw it at the Lortell and when it came to Broadway I ran out to see it again. It was heartbreaking and beautiful and her performance was unbelievable. And that ending was like a knife in the heart no matter how many times you saw it. Top of my list to see at Fringe this year is Lula del Ray, a mix of puppetry, projections, live actors, and music set in the American West. I'm sold.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Lifetime Presents: Jason Priestly in "For Dear Life: The Nathan Gregorski Story". And I want Kellie Martin in it.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I love Taylor Swift. And please don't misunderstand me when I say that. Because I really do love her more than I can possibly tell you. We're talking album-on-repeat I-want-to-be-her-best-friend obsession.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I've been watching "Breaking Bad" and the meth business seems promising. That's gonna turn out okay for him, right?

What’s up next?: Currently I'm working on my first feature film with my co-writer, Rachel Lambert. I'm also working on my next play (it has to do with a game show) and I'm dabbling with some short stories.

Review: Funny Love

First comes love. Check. Then comes marriage. Hmm. Then comes baby in a baby carriage. Not gonna happen. And that’s basically Trish and Rick’s relationship in a nutshell. In The Adventures of Boy and Girl, Trish and Rick are over but through hilarious snippets, we see why.
Written by youngsters Alec Grossman and Rachel Kaly, the script is nothing short of entertaining. If you read this play on paper, you’d probably say, “Oye this again?” but with the brilliant aid of director Patrick Vassel, The Adventures of Boy and Girl is a hit. And thankfully, there were two brilliant comedic actors on stage who embody the perfect couple. Matthew Goodrich and Margy Love lifted Grossman and Kaley’s words and turned it into an outstanding and hilarious comedy. Goodrich and Love have an insane amount of chemistry as Rick and Trish. They are able to riff off of each other flawlessly. Love plays the typical girly-girl Trish with spunk. Goodrich, with the boy next door good looks, plays the nonchalant douchebag Rick easily, but it’s when he reveals Rick’s secrets, there’s no wonder Trish has fallen for this teddy bear of a guy.
Grossmand and Kaly have a way with keeping recurring jokes funny and relevant throughout, something that can be hard to do. Again, having two tremendous talents on stage help make this triumphant. April Bartlett’s set works wonders for the fast-paced comedy. Boxes and boxes filled with momentos and chachkies are strategically placed and revealed at pristine moments of the show.
If you’re looking for a funny, yet short, night out, check out The Adventures of Boy and Girl. With two spectacular performances, you’ll be sure to laugh your butt off.

Spotlight On...Jeff Foley

Name: Jeff Foley

Hometown: Port Jervis, NY

Education: AA degree at SUNY Orange

Select Credits: The Cherry Orchard (Lopakhin, Apprentice Players); Christie in Love (Constable, andcompany); The Lombardi Case 1975 (O'don, Live IN Theater)

Why theater?: Theater is my outlet. I have tried many other types of creative outlets but I always come back to the theater. The way it resonates with me is unlike anything else I've ever experienced. The physical and mental transformations that can take place are highly appealing. So I don't sound like I'm trying to understand the ocean, Theater... is creative crack!

Tell us about The Wonderful Remix of Oz: It is exactly that, a remix. Our director, Hollie Klem, has created a spectacular spin on the timely tale we all know and love. Dorothy is a sassy sarcastic orphan who consequentially finds herself in the land of "Oz" (New York) via tornado, and she meets up with freaks, Guido monkeys, a starving artist, a hot heads, and gentle and courageous cub star. It's truly a remarkable show to be a part of, my only regret is that I will never see this magic as an audience member. It needs to be seen.

What is it like Being a part of The Wonderful Remix of Oz?: To tell you the truth, it's like being cast on SNL. I know that sounds out there but the truth is, I think those folks have a blast laughing and playing before they go live. The whole process of Oz and working with all these incredible actors on this clever show has given me some of the funniest memories I have. Oz is one of my blessings

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The type of theater that speaks to me is interactive theater. I like playing with the audience and I respect actors who stay in character despite all the external factors that have the potential to pull them out. My inspiration as an artist is Jim Carrey. Why? I don't need a reason but I'll give you one. He made me smile at a time when I had nothing else to smile over.

Any roles you are dying to play?:
Hamlet, Biff, and Kevin Bacon's son... in a movie of course, otherwise that would be weird.

What's your favorite showtune?: "Coffee Break", How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I'm an addict.

If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?: Pina Bausch, you said anyone....

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "Expect Average"

What show have you recommended to your friends?: TV - "Breaking Bad", theater - Motown The Musical

What's your biggest guilty pleasure?: Call of Duty

What's up next?: I have two features coming out this year, "The Kids Get Dead" and "Kingdom Come". I'm currently in two other plays and in rehearsals for another. Live IN Theater's The Lombardi Case 1975, Drama Desk nominated The Ryan Case 1873, and The Murder of Venus Xtravaganza 1988.

For more on Jeff, visit

Review: Take a Trip to the Mysterious Peninsula

When you watch a character live a life of struggle and hardship, you hope it ends with a happy ending. But not every story has a happy ending. Tiago’s story certainly didn’t. Peninsula follows Tiago, a Brazilian migrant worker in Michigan, on his journey to escape his past and make a life for himself. On his way, he encounters a privileged eighteen year old Tommy who falls for him and would do just about anything for him in order to get him.
Peninsula, written by Nathan Wright, is carefully constructed through monologues and flashbacks that help share Tiago’s story. Wright’s script is beautifully balanced by smart dialogue and beautiful poetic passages. Director Nadia Foskolou marries the colloquial and the poetic seamlessly, adding some stunning physical work from her actors. With no set to be had, Foskolou requires the audience to imagine the multi-locational world, which she is successful at creating. There is beauty in the simplicity. This was greatly aided by Drew Florida’s lighting.
The ensemble of six is quite strong. While it is Tiago’s story, each supporting character brings ample substance as a catalyst for Tiago’s ending. Josue Gutierrez Guerra as Tiago brings heart to the hopeful Brazilian. Kellan Peavy brings great passion as Tommy, the kid who just wants to be loved. Peavy fights the whiny nature of the text, bringing compassion and determination. Angela Atwood and John Zdrojeski serve as wonderful comic relief to the oft heavy piece. Vanessa Bartlett and Mac Sinoway are strong in the flashbacks to Tiago’s time in Brazil, but it’s Bartlett we wish we saw more of throughout.
Peninsula is not your average Fringe show. It’s actually good. Nathan Wright’s script is engaging, leaving you wanting to know what happens next. If you have a chance to check it out, Peninsula is highly recommended.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Spotlight On...PJ Adzima

Name: PJ Adzima

Hometown: Belchertown, Massachusetts

Education: Currently receiving a BFA with a Musical Theatre Minor from Marymount Manhattan College

Selected Credits: Volleygirls (Xavier Ives, NYMF); Hamlet (Hamlet, Hampshire Shakespeare Company); The Fantasticks (The Boy, The Majestic Theatre)

Why theater?: I love theatre because there is nothing like live performance. Nothing is like the tension of a crowed of people coming together for something. Feeling an entire room inhale or riding a perfect laugh, there is a heightened level of awareness that doesn't exist in any other medium.

Tell us about Very Bad Words: Very Bad Words is a show that takes a harsh and brutal look at the tragically flawed moralities and ambitions of America's next generation.

What's it like to be a part of Very Bad Words?:
VBW is wonderfully fun because it's a chance to get dirty. I have the opportunity to play a character with extremely questionable morals, so I've really enjoyed exploring a part that's so far from the wholesome American persona. The play requires a lot of commitment in order to own some of the harsh dialogue, so finding that freedom has been a blast.

What kind of theatre speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
Good theatre is like a roller coaster. It picks you up and takes you for a ride. You're never bored on a roller coaster, and you shouldn't be at the theater. There's an old belief that you should never let them see you work, and I think that's the opposite. Let them see you work, and they will love you for it. Acting is hard, that's why it's rewarding. Go for it.

Any roles you're dying to play?: Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a big one for me. He's over the top, hilarious, callous, plotting, and full of endless comedic possibilities. It's a gold mine.

What's your favorite showtune?:
"Betrayed" from The Producers was the first showtune I learned all the words to. I thought it was the funniest thing ever. I remember listening to it over and over again to get the long patter section right. It's too bad I'll never actually play the part.

If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?:
I sat front row at Chaplin The Musical this past year and Rob McClure delivered a performance that I'll never forget. I've never seen someone perform like him. Comedy, drama, stunt work, dancing, everything. He is my favorite Broadway star.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: All my life I've been told that I remind people of Neal Patrick Harris. Seriously, a man in a van stopped me at a red light once just so he could let me know. In a recent review the Huffington Post said: "If someone is looking to cast The Neil Patrick Harris Story, you've just found your man." So I'm going with him. The title? "The Pajama Game"... wait that's taken. DJ PJ? I'm still workin on it.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Have you heard of Very Bad Words? Come see Very Bad Words.

What's your biggest guilt pleasure?:
"Doctor Who". I surrender fully to its nerdiness.

What's up next?: This fall I'll be playing Keith Burgess in Stage Door presented on the main stage at Marymount Manhattan College.

Spotlight On...Amy Weaver

Name: Amy Weaver

Muldrow, Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma

Why theater?:
It's my roots! I grew up on the stage, but because I am based in Los Angeles, most of my career has been focused in front of the camera. I've been fortunate enough to be a part of some great productions in LA, but it hasn't been as plentiful as I'd like.  Don't get me wrong, the talent is there, but it isn't as accessible as it is here in New York.  So, right now, I am loving every minute!  It feels so good to be working these muscles again!  Feels like home.

Tell us about Waiting for Waiting for Godot: In Waiting for Waiting for Godot, two understudies stuck in backstage limbo grapple with art, life, the "biz" and their absurd existence.  As it turns out, the only two people who truly understand waiting for Godot, are the understudies.

What is it like being a part of Waiting for Waiting for Godot?:
Dave Hanson, the playwright, and I met performing improv at Improv Olympic West in Los Angeles.  It was an instant friendship!  I have enjoyed all of his creative endeavors since the beginning, so it is a complete honor to be a part of this creation.  Overall, it is always exciting to work with talent you admire and trust-- and this show truly does have it all with my castmates, Chris Sullivan and Dave Hanson, and our fearless director, Alex Harvey.  But, in truth, I simply just love this play!  I love its fresh comedy and smart nod to one of the greatest plays of the last century.  And, I love what it has to say-- the questions it asks-- about the choices we make as artists.  I've never known what I would do if I weren't an actor-- I never had a back up plan-- and this play addresses that deep-down, it's-in-my-blood desire to stick it out-- the instability and insanity that goes along with that.  It's a really funny show, but there are a few lines in the second act when Ester (Sullivan) and Val (Hanson) are discussing waiting for "promises that never come" and their everyday sacrifices for the greater goal, that always rip my heart out.  These moments take me back to when I was starting out and struggled.  I think most actors are probably only once-removed emotionally from those days. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: My taste is pretty eclectic.  I love really raw, everyday characters that battle real demons.  In general, I would say I am pulled toward stories and characters that have a darkness to them-- and if that comes with comedy in tow, you've made my day!  As far as what inspires me, I find inspiration all along this city: the buskers in the subway, the art in the MET, the farmers in the farmer's market, the kindness of strangers...  If you take a moment to look around, there are stories everywhere.  So much to learn and so much to tell!     

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Most of my work has been in comedy.  For this reason, I think it would be great to dive into a really tragic character-- maybe something from a classic playwright, like Tennessee Williams or Eugene O'Neill.  Their characters are always working through very complex facades.  I love the layers to these characters and I would like to sink my teeth into something like that soon.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Anything from Mack & Mabel, and of course, I love a good tragic Jason Robert Brown song.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?
: Right now, I am in love with actors who create their own material,  like Tina Fey, Holland Taylor, Mindy Kaling, Kristin Wiig & Annie Mumolo, Steve Martin, and Tracy Letts...  I also have a mad talent crush on Michael Shannon, whose performance in Mistakes Were Made at Barrow Street Theater a few years ago made me lose my mind. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:  I once shot a commercial whose casting called for an Amy Adams/ Penelope Cruz type (because this makes absolutely no sense).  So, I guess either of those ladies would work fine.  I am a sucker for classic Rom-Coms, so the film would definitely be something like “BRIDGET JONES' DIARY (AMY WEAVER'S DIARY?)”-- without a cool British accent and with a lot more bad dates in there.  Luckily for me, the happy ending would be appropriate!

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
I have been working out of New York for the last 6 months, so I have been a complete crazy lady with the theater-going.  I saw First Date on Saturday night and really loved it!  Michael Weiner and Alan Zachary (the show's composers and lyricists) are friends of mine, and they are just so talented!  Such a fun night out!  It will make you cringe thinking about your past dating experiences.  (Or, maybe that is just me!)  Within the past year, I loved Pippin, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (please tell me you saw Tracy Letts' Tony acceptance speech for this!), The Last Five Years, and Sleep No More is an unforgettable experience.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: A mean cocktail?  Not sure if this is a guilty pleasure or just a really good decision.

What’s up next?: I am a really finding a lot of joy creating original material for myself, telling the stories that speak to me.  The whole process is thrilling, heartbreaking, and everything in-between.  I wrote and starred in a television pilot a few years ago, a comedy called "A Temporary Life" which was based on my life-- leaving Oklahoma for the Big Apple, the naiveté and growing pains that came with that transition.  I was really proud of the work, but ultimately, it wasn't picked up.  So now, I am working on a fresh approach to that idea in the form of a webseries.  A webseries gives me a little more flexibility to explore the story lines-- the comedic tone and layers I personally find funny.  I am really finding there is a freedom in not feeling beholden to the formulas that make up network television.  I am even working on a musical episode!  This webseries and a feature screenplay I am also writing continue to be exciting challenges.  And, while I love acting in film and television, I hope that this experience with Waiting for Waiting for Godot is a catalyst for more stage work to come. 

For more on Amy, check out @AmyWeaverTweets and For more on Waiting of Waiting for Godot, visit

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Who is Bradley Cole!

It was inevitable. Social media has made its way into musical theater as a leading character. In Bradley Cole, all the highs and lows of the digital world are in full force as they alter the lives of every character in this cute musical. The musical follows Ian after he adapts a digital alter ego named Bradley Cole and develops a huge following. On his journey, he has to deal with pinning over his roommate, exposing the true nature of a reality star, and life as a whole.
Bradley Cole is your standard modern musical. With some exceptions, Bomi Lee’s score is pretty redundant. It sounds very similar to other composers of late. Way too much sung-through dialogue. What makes Bradley Cole stand out, though, is the book by Jason Young. Take away the music, it could be a standalone script, a rarity in musical theater. Sure, the music makes the story cutesy and bubbly, it was difficult leaving the theater remembering any of the tunes. What makes Bradley Cole special is it’s not a musical that follows the typical leading man or lady. The sidekick gets the spotlight. The wonderfully geeky Remy Germinario as the title character shines in this role. You’re excited when he gets his infamy. Germinario has wonderful timing and spirit. Justin Flexen as Ben, Ian/Bradley’s best friend and roommate, is goofy and loveable, though never in a million years would you ever pick these two to be besties. Though unapologetic, the design team shows off Flexen’s best assets in his Cupcake Boy costume. Jeannine Frumess as Stacey also defies the typical leading lady type, but she doesn’t have as much command as the character calls for. L. Celeste Weathers as Della Rae packs a mean bark as the egodriven tv host.
Geoffrey Goldberg’s staging was occasionally messy, leaving the ensemble on stage for the sake of having voices and cellphones. With the limited Fringe lighting system, those moments took away the focus from the main characters. Nickey Frankel’s Mondrian-inspired panels were colorful but distracting, not adding anything but popping color in the bleak space. Frankel’s color burst in costumes were all that were needed to create the bubbly world.
Bradley Cole is like bubble gum pop music. It’s a guilty pleasure you don’t want anyone to know about. The story is current but will unfortunately soon become a period piece.

Spotlight On...Charles Giardina

Name: Charles Giardina

New York, NY

Education: Middlebury College

Favorite Credits: Directing- Marisol, Man of la Mancha

Why theater?: I started participating in theatre to tell stories of all kinds. Since setting out on that journey I learned that not only the story but how the story is told is the beauty of the theatre. As a director I choose stories not only compelling stories, but ones that benefit from the unique opportunities theatre offers storytellers. With the accession of smartphones, Netflix, etc, the onus is that much greater on theatre makers to utilize the qualities of live performance in ways that no other artistic media can.

Tell us about Harriman-Baines: Harriman-Baines is a play about obsession and fantasy. Its characters toil fanatically to maintain some delusion that their lives are not in fact empty. The question at the heart of the play is, then, can one subsist solely on imagination? While this production makes no pretense of offering a definitive answer to this question, it seeks to explore many facets of the quandary—one that has become ever more relevant in recent years with the advent of the digital world and the internet. This piece teaches us about our modern age by turns embracing and eschewing it, using both intimacy and alienation to explore that which looms in the void of the human condition, one which has been vampirized by its pursuit of meaning.

What inspired you to direct Harriman-Baines?: We reviewed over 50 different new script submissions before settling on Harriman-Baines. I was particularly interested in the themes it explored, namely obsession and delusion. It was a piece for which I saw an interesting opportunity in how the story might be told, eschewing American Naturalism and embracing a more raw, musical and heightened world.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
Theatre that transcends the real world.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Emma Rice. I want to discover whatever order of directing witchcraft to which she subscribes.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
Jerusalem with Mark Rylance. People ought to go back in time and see it.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
Daniel Day Lewis. "Drink to my health and get off the table."

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Taking over the world. Or consulting.

What’s up next?: Another op'nin', Another Show!

Spotlight On...Tim Murray

Name: Tim Murray

Hometown: Sandusky, OH

Education: University of Miami

Favorite Credits: Romeo and Juliet (Tybalt, Penn Shakes), Merry Wives of Windsor (Peter Simple, Texas Shakes), Forum (Marcus Lycus, Connecticut Rep Theatre), Dog Sees God (CB, The University of Miami)

Why theater?: Cuz there's not future in drag racing anymore. I've always loved theatre and I tried to shy away from it when I went to College. I originally applied to schools for journalism and then after my first year of undergrad I decided I wanted to get a degree in performance. You only live once and this is what I want to do with that life!

Tell us about The Connector: The Connector is a play about a young gay guy with an impeccable ability to charm his way through relationships, but can't seem to stay attached to anyone. He searches for a deep, meaningful connection so intensely and incorrectly that he can't even see the friendship he should be embracing. He misses the connection he could have because he thinks sex is the link to the relationship he craves. 

What inspired you to create The Connector?: It stemmed from this idea of an extremely likable person who is completely miserable. Social interaction has changed so much in the last few years and I remember thinking it was fascinating that a person could get a Facebook status to reach 150 likes but of those 150 people how many of them really cared about that person? Who are they close to? The idea of loneliness amidst popularity really kept screaming at me.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
Great storytelling. I love groundbreaking theatre and obviously it is exciting when someone comes up with something new, but there's nothing I love more than when a show simply nails a story arc and you've been on the ride the entire time. The Heiress was my favorite show of this Broadway season. It's not a new or particularly exciting story but that production took you from A to Z so perfectly and focused so much on the beauty of a story and getting to watch a person change.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
Susan Blackwell. She's my comedic hero. I want to keep her used band aids and packs of her hair in a jar in my room. Is that weird?

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
Sonia and Vanya and Masha and Marcee Mae Marlene and Marsha Marsha Marsha and Creole Lady Marmalade and Spike. Incredible comedy.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Sophia Grace. It would hopefully be called something like "Out of the Woods" and be all about my gender transformation.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I never feel guilty about any of my pleasure, but I do enjoy... Baywatch, Dawson's Creek and The Facts of Life... proudly.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A movie star.

What’s up next?: I've been writing a web series with my brother that I'm super excited about!! As soon as The Connector is over I hope to focus on getting that filmed! I'm also playing Henry in N2N and Tommy in Pterodactyles in January in upstate New York.

For more on The Connector, check out

Spotlight On...Colin Crowley

Name: Colin Crowley

Hometown: Osterville, MA

Education: Neither of them theater-related - but Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science (Northwestern University) and Masters of Arts in Security Studies (Georgetown University)

Favorite Credits: I have always “played” one part in my theatrical ventures – playwright… but, of my experience, I’m most proud of Harriman-Baines and my first musical Hail and Reign (for which I wrote the book and the lyrics).

Why theater?: I love theater because theater is both democratic and oligarchic insofar as the performing arts is concerned. Theater is oligarchic to the extent that it lacks the mass appeal of Hollywood and it therefore tends to be specialized. This restriction helps to make theater unique and also helps to maintain certain artistic standards. Theater is democratic in that it is easily accessible to people in their communities and something which everyone can widely experience. Not everyone can be in a movie, even a small-budget movie, but anyone can audition for a local play and be on the stage. I also love theater because theater has limitations that force artists to be more creative than they normally would have to be. In screenwriting, for instance, you can write a movie without any regard for the number of characters or the number of locations or the extravaganza associated with the special effects. In theater, you have to be more realistic and you have to be conscious of the people you use and the space you use, often for pure economic reasons. The upside, though, is that theater forces artists to squeeze every ounce they can out of a character or a set or a scene - and, in all that, you find a depth to theater that is lacking in other art forms.

Tell us about Harriman-Baines: Harriman-Baines is a tragedy about human loneliness that explores the fantasies we invent to prevent ourselves from recognizing and feeling the inherent loneliness in our lives.

What inspired you to create Harriman-Baines?: I tend to be a cerebral person and I enjoy writing plays that begin with a theme rather than with characters or a plot. I consciously wanted to write a play that would deal with the theme of “loneliness” and how human beings handle the loneliness in their own lives. I was also drawn – albeit vaguely – to the concept of loneliness in the modern world and the lonely nature of many human relationships. This theme is epitomized by the rise of “manufactured relationships” (for instance: vague connections formed over cyberspace and divorced from real contact) and the fact that human relationships now tend to be less dedicated than they have been in the past. We live in an age where people are more likely to stay connected via Facebook than by actually talking with someone or seeing them in person – so, while it seems we are more connected than even before, our bonds are increasingly artificial. I think many people feel this subtle loneliness in their lives, which partly explains the rise of “humanization” campaigns in marketing – ie: giving a friendly, human face to businesses as a way to engage customers.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
I tend to run the gamut in regards to my artistic preferences – but I generally coalesce around loving two main types of theater: First, I love traditional musical theater, because I see that as being a seminal part of the American theatrical tradition and the most collaborative branch of the performing arts. Second, I love simple, but complex, character plays (dramas) – especially ones that are very word-heavy, thoughtful, and subtle. I have been heavily influenced by “classical” writers like Tennessee Williams (I’m a Night of the Iguana person) – sometimes, but less so, Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill. I also have been greatly influenced by the British playwright Peter Shaffer, especially because he also tends to create plays around themes (sometimes using historical backdrops, which I also enjoy) and because his plays are heavily character-based. I enjoy musical theater very much, too, especially the playwriting and lyrical work of Alan Jay Lerner (mainly his later shows – the ones no one knows about) and the intriguing composer and lyricist Bob Merrill. Lerner and Merrill influence my everyday playwriting in regards to how they were (and are) able to present simple and straightforward concepts in artistically heightened, but not melodramatic, ways. (Case in point: a lyric by Merrill, about confronting our own self-delusions, which would be great for Harriman-Baines – “life is frightening when the orchestra is gone.”)

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
I will take a generic route and I will say that I’d love to work more closely with a choreographer – because, even with the musicals I’ve written, I’ve never really authored anything with “dance numbers” and I’d like to explore that side of theater and its relation to storyline and character development.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
I have recommended Annie on Broadway, traditional as it is, because traditional can be really nice when the economy is bad and isn’t much getting better.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I think that Matthew Broderick would do a good job and we’d call it “The Sesquipedalian” because I inadvertently like long words.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
The British gadfly Paul Johnson – which isn’t necessarily guilty in my book, but would be considered very guilty among the theatrical community. (…plus Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer…)

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Honestly, I’d probably be working right where I am now – as an Associate Vice President in an e-commerce business – BUT I’d be having a lot less fun.

What’s up next?: I have recently completed another play that I am going to start shopping around, about Dorothy Parker and how we sometimes can become trapped in our public personas – and, of course, I am going to shop around Harriman-Baines some more. I’m also going to work on revising an older play of mine that has received quite some attention but has always been two inches away from “wonderful.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Spotlight On...Misha Braun

Name: Misha Braun

Hometown: Born in Amsterdam. Raised in NYC

The Neighborhood Playhouse (Jim Brill)

Select Credits: Bryan and Kim (Bryan, Teatro SEA, NYC Fringe Festival Festival 2013), Every time I Fall Back (Chris (Winner of best play in the Strawberry Play Festival 2013), Henry IV part 1 (Hotspur, American Theater of Actors), Late Night Snack, Self Examination (HB Playwrights Theater)

Why theater?: I guess because I'm fortunate enough to be friends with a Playwright! Adam Delia, who wrote and directed Bryan and Kim, and I have been working together since we started reading the one act version of this play in his playwriting class at HB. Since then we have performed this piece at various festivals, including the Strawberry One Act Festival where it won best play in 2011. It is now a full length play and is better than ever!

Tell us about Bryan and Kim: When Bryan helps Kim confront a traumatic event from her past, their relationship faces unforeseen challenges. As the ghost of Kim’s past threatens their future, Bryan finds himself inside a present he never could have predicted.

What is it like being a part of Bryan and Kim?: It's been a wild ride! Definitely the hardest material I have ever worked with. Adam Delia, Laurel Casillo and I have all become good friends through this process. It is a piece we all hold very close to our hearts.The subject is emotionally draining, the transitions are tough, going from present to flashback's with out a moment of preparation. We have tried to keep the piece moving to keep audiences at the edge of their seat. After the 50 minutes roller coaster, everyone can let out a collective breath of relief. It's intense!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Well i love all types of theater really, from Shakespeare to Guirgis. I come from a ballet background so the classic themes and language of Shakespeare still move me deeply. I also grew up in NYC and really get the street talk of Guirgis. I have been using a monologue from The Little Flower of East Orange for years now, something about that mans struggle speaks to me.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Oh, like every other male actor, i would love a chance to play Hamlet, and of course Stanley Kowalski.

What’s your favorite show tune?: Not a show tune guy. Although, maybe if I was exposed to musical theater more often I would have one!

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Hmmm. That's tough. It changes every day! Love, love, love, Derek Cianfrance. I feel like he is a actors director and very much believes in the collaborative relationship between actor and director. I guess you could say the same about Woody Allen, I would jump on that in a heartbeat. As far as theater directors. i would love to work on a David Rabe play, I really enjoy the language and symbolism in his plays.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
uhh.... Bryan and Kim...duh! 

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
Sometimes I am stuck watching the Kardashians when my girlfriend has the remote. I find myself in awe of their lavish lives in contrast with their lack of depth.  

What’s up next?:
Some R & R and money making! It's been an arduous process getting this play on its feet. Call me a week after we close though, I am sure I'll be anxiously finding my next gig!

For more on Misha, visit

Spotlight On...Josh Fielden

Name: Josh Fielden

Hometown: Knoxville, TN

Education: The Studio New York

Select Credits: The Crucible (John Hale, The New Ohio); Romeo and Juliet (Romeo, Hudson Shakespeare); Things I Found On Craigslist (Dev Barlow, 29th Street Rep)

Why theater?: The arc. There's no greater learning experience then putting myself in someone else's shoes and allowing my body to learn a lesson. The depth in which you have to know a character to perform is greater than any class I ever taken. I love being in a creative environment no matter how painful it is. I am grateful to have the theater, I am grateful for the writes that when it's worth its salt, such as Kitchen Table Plays, it's like velvet coming out of my mouth. It's a great joy of mine and I'm pleasured to share my experience with an others.

Tell us About Kitchen Table Plays?:
Kitchen Table Plays is a play about finding personal resolution in each of the plays given segments. We have a wonderful cast that is diverse in personality and life experiense and that in my opinion is the Joy of Theater; What happens when you mix a yellow and green? Our writer, Erin Breznitsky, brings a poetry to a very creative structure that I am honored to play in. Our director, Tamara Winters, has a super clear vision of the story we are telling which helps us as actors to find our freedom. It's simply beautiful.

What is it like being apart of the Kitchen Table Play?: It's thrilling being able to work on multiple characters is one show. It's so pleasing what each character allows me to express and discover about myself, and my my are the experiences varied.  There is so much hope at the top and it ends in a sort of destruction.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater is the exploration of the human condition, in my opinion, so to say is there a type of theater I cannot say. Just Committed. I'm just thankful for the opportunity that my life has come to this. I love the poetry of great writers thats all i need./ My inspiration is all around me, New York is my inspiration. There are so many people and characters and music and food and art and parks and New York! I love it hear and appreciate the difference from the north from the south in both directions. Now i get to sit in a happy medium. I am blessed. If there's one actor, Mark Rylance and actress Maggie Smith. They work there asses off.

Any roles you're dying to play?: Katurian Katurian in The Pillowman, Doug in Gruesome Playground Injuries, Every One in The Cherry Orchard, The Baker in Into the Woods. Hey I can dream!

What's your favorite showtune?: Marry Me A Little, Company. Johanna, Sweeney Todd

If you could work with any one who would it be?: David Cromer, Our Town was my favorite play as a kid and the way he brought me into that world made me so so happy. Nicky Silver does great work. I wanna do a scene with Kate Winslet.

Who would play you in a movie and what would it be called?: Haha, Hmm, Samuel L Jackson in The Musical: "Southey Falls for Concrete Halls". I don't know this is a funny thing to think about. Or maybe Leo when i still lived in Tennessee; Oblivious would be a fine title.

What shows have you recommended to your friends?: I took one of my good friends from home to Hand to God. Now this friend has never been to an Off- Off show and not really into theater and it left him speechless. Incredible Show! Fela! Long Days Journey. Book of Mormon.

What's your biggest Guilty pleasure?: Project Runway and Grape Ice-cream. Make it Work!

What's up next?: Web-Series- "Sky of the Damned". I hope to get into a musical next so we will see. My Birthdays August 17th, I think I'm gonna go to the Zoo!!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: What I Did For Love

Any dramatic situation can be made funny. How can you make a kidnapping funny you say? Well, have two bumbling men who moonlight as semi-professional abduction and personal detainers hold a girl and a boy who are having relationship woes that slowly gets turned into couples therapy. That’s the basic premise of Persephone by Matthew Minnicino.
Like his characters refer to often, the play takes inspiration from Greek mythology, specifically the story of Persephone, or “Percy Phone” as on of the characters calls her. The story of Persephone is that she deliberately was abducted by Hades and brought to the underworld. Minnicino’s Persephone follows Toby and Oskar, two semi-professional abductors, as they hold their marks as they wait for the ransom comes through. With a twist of fate, their business becomes a bit of a game as they soon discover that they may have been set up from the start. The cast of five does a nice job playing and having fun in this dark comedy world. But it’s Bill Griffin who stands out in the ensemble. Griffin packs a knockout punch as one-bit thug Toby. His game loving wordsmith is endearing. You’re not sure if Toby is not all quite there or if he’s too smart for his own good. And that’s what keeps us watching him. Josh Sauerman as his partner Oskar doesn’t get to shine like Griffin, but serves as a nice opposite. Elizabeth Bays, Caitlin Johnston, and Benjamin Drew Thompson bring their own flavor to the piece as three drastically different abductees. Though one of my biggest theatrical pet peeves was in full force. An actor poorly tied can only go so far, especially when the bogus tie is exposed, something Bays and Thompson did not quite sell.
Estefania Fadul did great work directing her ensemble. Though the audience did not help the effort, she and her cast were able to bring out the comedy throughout, allowing for the dark ending to work. Aaron Ethan Green’s set was perfect for the space. The wallpaper lined cardboard boxes established the locale quite well. Ellen Geissal-Shapiro’s lights worked for the realistic script, though theatricalizing some of the characters’ monologues were questionable.
Overall Persephone was an enjoyable night at the theater, helped greatly by Griffin’s Toby. You almost could imagine Toby and Oskar getting a sitcom where each episode is another victim. Or even a sequel with Toby and his new friend.

Spotlight On...Gloria Rosen

Name: Gloria Rosen

Hometown: NYC

Education: BA/MA History/Theater NYU

Favorite Credits:
How To Break Up With Your Mother (Mother); Anna Christie (Marthy); On The Beach (Clair, winner Estro Festival)

Why theater?: The most exciting aspect of theater is to perform each night as if it’s the first time every time. It’s a live organism that keeps growing and changing and there are infinite possibilities.  Audiences can subtly affect a performance – sometimes a line that always gets a laugh does not but something else will – it’s always a surprise and always exciting. And it has very personal meaning for me – because way back before caption tv, there was myself sitting in front of the little black and white set mouthing every word that was said so my deaf parents could  follow the stories. And one day I took a puppet to school and created a whole act for us and finally got to be the one on stage talking out loud and laughing and crying and I thought that was just great. I still do.

Tell us about Listen…Can You Hear Me Now?:
This is my personal story of growing up as a hearing child and sole interpreter for my deaf parents – it was a unique situation because I was not allowed to learn sign language – although this was my father’s primary means of communication.  In the course of the performance I play myself as a young child involved in the action of the piece, and  as my present day grownup self communicating directly to the audience. In addition -  I morph into 26 other characters, a small sample being: Jewish Grandma; Little Puppet Head; Deaf Parents; Frustrated Actor Relay Operator; Liberating Best Friend; Loud Mouth Aunt and Clueless Social Worker.

What inspired you to create Listen…Can You Hear Me Now?:
There is both a who and a what here.  The who was my acting coach and mentor, Peter Flint.  I started sharing some of the stories of my life with him, and it was his idea to write a play – even though I was pretty sure I did not remember anything worthwhile!  But Peter was gently relentless – and in 2005 I did start to write it all down and began performing a 20 minute version in 2007 and it has now grown up into a full hour. As for the what – on the surface this is about being an outsider to my parents deaf world. But there is a more universal theme –it’s for anyone who grew up not quite fitting into the “norm” –  could be gay or too big or too small or the wrong color or a strange accent – all of these can make one feel excluded and of little value. But we are all unique – and we can all find our own voices and be  happy with who we are and take joy in that.  That’s what I want for this show – to let people know that someone hears them and is listening.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater that celebrates the heroic.  Actors who cross the line and leave it all on the stage without self indulgence.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I think it would be great fun to work with any of my coaching students!

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Always Les Miserables (the Broadway version) – for celebrating the hero and its glorious music that stays with the soul forever.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Christina Ricci as she was in "The Addams Family" would be just deadpan enough to play me as a child in my own show.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I would love to find the time to go sit under a big tree with a book and read all day while snacking on tiramisu.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: No options here…theater is my life.

What’s up next?: The book version of the show.  Since I now have enough material for War and Peace, I guess it’s time to get it started. In addition – I recently was asked to perform part of the show with a talkback for a high school sign language class.  Traveling with the show to venues such as this one – to entertain and to inform – would be ideal.

Spotlight On...Luke Wise

Name: Luke Wise

Hometown: Madison, Indiana

Education: BFA in Acting from Ithaca College

Select Credits: Proof (Hal, The Bridge); Hamlet (Osric et al, The Kraine); A Frog in Boiling Water (Jason, The Beckett/Theatre Row); Romeo and Juliet (Romeo, Ithaca Shakespeare Co).; Macbeth (Malcolm, Ithaca Shakespeare Co).; Rhinoceros (Berenger, Ithaca College); Dave Davinci Saves the Universe (Dave Davinci, Ithaca College); Much Ado About Nothing (Claudio, Ithaca College); Measure for Measure (Barnardine, Ithaca College)

Why theater?: To be honest, I don’t have the slightest clue. I think it has something to do with Christopher Plummer’s performance in "The Sound of Music" (there’s not much live theatre in Southern Indiana). I would watch it, in its entirety, everyday when I was 3. Some days I’d watch it two or three times. That’s 8 hours and 42 minutes of 3-year-old attention span for anyone who’s counting. I’d sob hysterically if my mom didn’t switch the VHS tapes fast enough, so I got my hands dirty and learned how to use the VCR myself to expedite the intermission. When I was 4, my parents finally broke down and took me to see a live version at a dinner theatre. I remember nothing of this performance I’m sad to admit... but, funny enough, the actress playing the Mother Abbess became my voice coach years later. This is a really difficult question for me. If you turn the sound off and watch Mr. Plummer’s eyes, you’ll come pretty close to my answer though.

Tell us about Tartuffe: Our Tartuffe is the same bawdy, sexual, farcical exposé of aristocratic hypocrisy that we know and love by Moliere. In keeping with the spirit of the original production, which was censored by the clergy for hitting a little too close to home, we’re setting this production in Park Slope and taking an unflinching jab at our friends from Brooklyn.  In our production Tartuffe is a PBR slinging, Catcher in the Rye wielding, plastic-neon-crucifix wearing hipster who’s ingratiated himself with Orgon, a burnt out hippie who has resigned himself to a comfortable life of privilege and yuppiedom. It’s all in good fun. The treatment is less of an anachronistic social attack, and more of a larger than life,  contemporary periphrasis of your stereotypical Brooklynite. The play zips by in a snappy 80 minutes. It’s a great introduction to classical theatre and Moliere for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to experience his work outside of the classroom. Which isn’t to say the seasoned, PhD’d, French Classical Drama expert won’t find something to love as well. It’s also great for kids. The antics will keep the little ones entertained, and the sexual innuendo will likely go over their heads, but certainly pique the sensibilities of adults. So in other words... bring the whole family! It goes up at the new First Street Green Park in the East Village. You can find the dates and directions on FringeNYC’s website. It’s close to a ton of awesome bars and restaurants too, like JoeDoe (far tastier than the much hyped Prune across the street if I do say so myself... the chef is a fellow Ithacan, so I may have a tiny bias). Have I sold you on Tartuffe yet? Did I mention it’s FREE???

What is it like being a part of Tartuffe?: It’s an absolute blast! The rehearsal room is generally in stitches. We’re constantly cracking each other up and certainly not shying away from the farce. I play Damis, who exerts an extraordinary amount of energy given his little stage time. I feel like I’ve completed a triathlon by the end... not that I know what that feels like. We have a fantastic ensemble as well, which makes the piece very accessible and the language easy on the ears. We’re itching to share this baby!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
I’m drawn to theatre and storytelling that creates an expectation and mercilessly shatters it... not cruelly, but certainly without a care for like-ability.  I’m inspired by generous performances. Douglas Hodge’s Cyrano comes to mind. Shocked he didn’t get a Tony nom this year. That being said, Tracy Letts was absolutely mesmerizing. I think I actually drooled on myself during the third act.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Eek! Where to start? Richard II pops into my head first... some people reading this may be spitting in disgust, but I find something very compelling and dramatic about this play. He was also a red head!

What’s your favorite showtune?: Not sure if this counts because it’s from a film, but I love this great Jule Styne song, “I Fall in Love Too Easily.”

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

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Michael C. Hall and it would be called "The Life and Times of an Idiot: a user’s guide to f#@cking up everything and general mayhem". 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Right now I’m dying for some catfish tacos, fried pickles, and a Basil Hayden’s with one cube to wash away the guilt.

Whats up next?: I’m actually changing gears a little bit for the next few months. A play I wrote, The Stand-Ins, will be getting its premiere at Manhattan Rep this fall and then I’ll be working on a film I wrote, and am also directing. It’s a story about a Brazilian woman, so we’ll be doing some filming in Brazil! ...and then back to the frigid NYC winter for the rest of the shoot. BRRRRRRR!! Speaking of winter... what happened to the summer in NYC?

For more on Tartuffe, visit and

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: A Mormon and a Gay Sit Under a Tree

Sometimes theater is hard to watch. Not because it’s bad but because it strikes a cord on a personal level. That was my experience with Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea. The base of the play is simple: two best friends begin to drift apart over time. The extenuating circumstances are what make this play stand out. One of the friends is openly Mormon, the other is openly gay. As they begin to journey to adulthood, it becomes clear to them that their beliefs will strongly affect their friendship. With Prop 8 as a backdrop, though a very minor one in the grand scheme of the play, Adam and Steve’s once inseparable bond grows tumultuous as they grow up.
Told through a number of scenes that take place under "their tree", with some jumping backwards in time to their childhood, playwright Matthew Greene’s title characters have a very special friendship. They spew out the truth. They say exactly what’s on their mind. They tell each other everything. So when Steve feels he has comfort in coming out to Adam, Adam says how he feels about it. Thus starts the downward spiral. Adam does not exactly approve for obvious reasons yet Steve is still holding on. When not preaching, which happens frequently in the play, Greene does a phenomenal job at constructing tender moments between the two boys. Watching Steve try to talk to Adam about their friendship, trying to salvage any last sliver was like holding a mirror to the audience. We’ve all been in that position. I found myself jotting down exact lines that I have said to my friend. So in those moments, the play was a success. But it was when the script grew more politically-driven that the characters seemed false. Both actors did a great job treading relationship with belief. Topher Rasmussen and Logan Tarantino, as Adam and Steve respectively, had a nice chemistry with one another. Though you may not have picked this pair to be besties if they were walking down the street, on stage they looked like they knew each other forever. Rasmussen played Adam with strong conviction. Tarantino, though occasionally monotonous in his delivery, gave Steve passion and determination. Director Jerry Rapier did all he could do at staging the play in the insanely tricky CSV Kabayitos. He’s lucky his actors were tall enough for the audience in the last few rows to see. With a tight space, the characters barely moved which slowed down the pace a bit.
They say art imitates life if you look closely enough at it. Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea did just that. It’s a heart wrenching script with a purpose that deserved much more attention.

Spotlight On...Chris Cafero

Name: Chris Cafero

Hometown: Norwalk, CT

Education: B.A., George Washington University

Select Credits: Off-Broadway: The Awesome 80’s Prom (Blake, Webster Hall), Regional: A Christmas Carol (Bob Cratchit, The Century Club), The Last Godfather (Bennie, New Rochelle PAC Theater), Garage Quartet (Chris, Fairfield Theater Company) TV/Film: As The World Turns, Guiding Light, Campus Life (Dirs. C. Scorsese/K. Waddell), Life In Parallel. Commercial: McDonalds, Coke, Nintendo, Dunkin Donuts, Gatorade, Macy’s, and more.

Why theater?:
I really just love acting, regardless of the medium. Theater is amazing because of the unique and raw emotion that is produced during each performance. There is nothing more exhilarating and rewarding for an actor than the visceral connection you create and share with a live audience.

Tell us about Sheeple: Sheeple gives us a peek inside the minds of four high schoolers, who spend a summer day philosophizing about life, love, politics, and, of course, how to buy weed. Over the course of the story, certain events and revelations cause the characters to question themselves, their worldview and their plans for the future. Told through the eyes of teenagers, Sheeple manages to capture the struggles of adolescence and the burden of needing to change the world, one summer afternoon at a time. It is written by Mara Wilson ("Matilda", "Mrs. Doubtfire") and directed by Max Reuben (AGGRCRAG).

What is it like being a part of Sheeple?: Being a part of this production has been an awesome experience. The process has been enlightening, educational, challenging, and a lot of fun. Each member of the team, cast and creative, bring such a unique quality to the table. I’ve really learned and grown a great deal by working with all of them. It is also great to be a part of a new play, because you can really take the role and make the character your own.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater that makes you feel. Anything that can bring you to laughter or tears, or that can make you think in a way you haven’t before. That is the ultimate goal of storytelling: to move people. The most inspiring artists I have met are the ones who are still struggling. The bar tenders and tutors and waiters and baby sitters and office assistants and parents-- many of whom are working multiple jobs and busting their asses to make ends meet. Yet they still find time to chase what they love. They fight and scrape and claw to achieve their dreams and goals in this business. When I have moments of professional doubt or fear, I look to these people in my life and I am inspired and rejuvenated by their passion for their craft and their undying persistence. They keep me going.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Nothing in particular, but I would love to do commedia dell’arte style comedy.

What’s your favorite showtune?: “One Day More”, Les Miserables. But “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray always gets my feet moving and puts a smile on my face.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Theatrically, I would love to work with Norbert Leo Butz. He is insanely talented. I think he has mastered his craft and really seems to have his finger on the pulse of comedy and human emotion. I would love to learn from him. And Martin Scorsese.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Oh geez. I only hope that my life is interesting enough to make into a movie! I would want my brother (and actor) Nick Cafero to play me. And I’d like it to be called “A Good Story”. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The last show I saw that I recommended to friends was Alan Cumming’s Macbeth. His interpretation and performance were unlike anything I had ever seen. Unbelievable.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I find no guilt in my pleasures.

What’s up next?: That remains to be seen. Stay tuned!!

For more on Chris, visit For more on Sheeple, visit

Spotlight On...Matthew Goodrich

Name: Matthew Goodrich (but you can call me Matt)

Hometown: Mansfield, PA

Education: CalArts (MFA), University of Notre Dame (BA)

Select Credits:
The Nance (u/s, The Lyceum Theatre); Picnic (u/s, American Airlines Theatre); Camino Real (Kilroy, Boston Court); Brewsie and Willie (Henry, Center for New Performance + Poor Dog Group)

Why theater?: It was a hobby I developed in high school because I wasn't much good at anything else besides studying.  The drama teacher was kind enough to cast me as Ferdinand in "The Tempest" my freshman year and I've been doing it ever since.  By the end of college I accepted the inevitable that this would be my career, went to grad school, and am now working in New York.  I like it because it affords me to opportunity to explore many different ways of living and thinking.

Tell us about The Adventures of Boy and Girl: It's a play about love in your 20's and why we throw it away, even though it might have been the real deal.  A play about lacking the self-confidence to believe that you are inherently worthwhile and worthy of love, no matter your faults.  It also explores the importance of honesty and full-disclosure in relationships, especially when you're figuring yourself out.  It was written over Facebook chat by two Hunter College High students a couple years ago and it feels very current.

What is it like being a part of The Adventures of Boy and Girl?: It's a blast.  I worked with the director, Patrick Vassel, in some of my first shows in college and we developed a strong friendship and a good working relationship.  Margy Love, my co-star, fell right into our way of working/thinking/being and it's been seamless.  It never feels like work, though most of the time I don't think making theatre does.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theatre that focuses on what I'll call "The Trauma of Living."  The NYTimes had a nice op-ed last week about life, that no matter how breezy and devoid of tragedy your life might be, just waking up in the morning and going through the motions of a regular day (especially in a city like this) is inherently traumatic.  Oftentimes we don't acknowledge that trauma which life exacts on us, and we internalize the aggression and violence and it eats us from the inside out.  So plays that investigate how we might cope with or rise above that trauma are important, and I think the answer is by seeking refuge in each other.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: All the big Shakespeare roles, no doubt: Hamlet, Macbeth, Iago, everyone in Julius Caesar.  I keep hearing about the "American Psycho" musical and a film-reimagining and I'm dying to play Patrick Bateman.  I think he's the perfect allegory to the violent competitiveness in the modern American male (and female, for that matter) to succeed, regardless of moral implications.  He's not a bad man, but a man driven to maiming and murder in order to feel something in a life devoid of all meaning.  He can't handle the vapidness that surrounds him.  Sometimes I feel the same way.  Thankfully I lack the blood-thirst.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Probably Macheath's lament at the end of The Threepenny Opera. "Oh brothers, who live on when we are dead, let not your noble hearts against us harden. Nor smile not when the noose shall claim our heads, a silly, secret smile to ease your burden.  Nor rail against us now you see us broken, nor take revenge upon us like the law.  Not all of us treat virtue with such awe.  Oh brothers, being light of heart, be shaken.  Oh brothers make our fate a lesson be, and beg of God that he will pardon me."  He goes on to indict every individual member and clan of the ruthless and immoral society in which he became the king, the same people who now turn on him before the Queen and country, and yet begs them all to forgive him.  "Ballad of Guiteau" from Assassins is another favorite.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Paul Newman, may he rest in peace.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
If they made a movie of my life up until now it would be an abject waste of time and effort.  Ask me in 30 years. your money.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I'm just finishing working on The Nance and I've tried to get everyone to come see it.  Nathan Lane is a living legend.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Fruity Pebbles

What’s up next?: The US Senate, 2034.

For more on The Adventures of Boy and Girl, visit

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: Love and Bugs with Walt Whitman

The past always seems to haunt a person. And with the aid of some herbal remedies, Walt Whitman will haunt you too. With Walt as his guide, a young gay man confronts his demons of his past and present in order to better his future. Like Poetry is a beautiful play about coping with life while trying to live it.

Written by Kristian O’Hare, Like Poetry follows the Stagger, a young man who goes on a journey to squash his repressed memory like a bug. Told through the present and flashbacks, we watch as Stagger visits an unorthodox doctor who prescribes a combination of pills and Walt Whitman to help him navigate his mind. On the way, Stagger falls for his neighbor Trout, visits a club where clothes aren’t allowed, and recalls significant moments with his parents and bug-loving best friend, all the while being led by Walt Whitman himself. A pill-enduced fantasy? Perhaps, but Whitman helps Stagger find inner peace. O’Hare writes a very poetic yet comfortable dialogue that is engaging. It’s a prevalent story with a fantastical twist, yet it’s fresh. The cast as a whole is pretty solid. Jim deProphetis is delightful as Trout, Stagger’s “gaybor.” From his first appearance, you can’t help but root for Stagger and Trout to get together. Matt Renskers is a standout as Card. Renskers gets to put his comic skills on display bringing life to the ill-fated youngster. Robert Crozier gives a fine performance as Stagger. He doesn’t have the depth Renskers has when they play younger versions of themselves, but he’s enjoyable to watch throughout. Andrew Dawson is fun as the Doc, offering a moment of firmness in his final scene with Stagger. Director Audrey Alford does a phenomenal job making the massive Ellen Steward work for the play. She uses the space to it’s full capacity, never allowing her cast to be swallowed.
Like Poetry is a nice slice of life in a theatrical aspect. It’s poignant and funny, allowing you to walk from the theater with solace.

Spotlight On...Sarah Stevens

Name: Sarah Stevens

Hometown: Harrisonburg, Virginia

Education: BFA in Music Theatre from Elon Univeristy

Select Credits: Sweeney Todd (Johanna/Barrington Stage); Sunset Boulevard (Betty, Portland Center Stage); Company (Amy, Gallery Players); Les Miserable (Cosette, Riverside Theatre)

Why theater?: It's what I've always known I would do.  It truly has always been some weird innate calling for me.  But I will also say that, especially in the past few years I have really come to understand how very important theatre is for us as human beings.  In so many ways it seems like our world is traveling at light speed these days.  I think theatre is a vital tool for allowing us a moment to be still and reflect and remember the things that will matter when it's all said and done.

Tell us about Someone To Belong To: In its essence it is a sweet and quirky little love story.  The music, by David Denoon is reminiscent of the old classics (Lerner and Loewe, Bock and Harnick...)  Coupled with the very cleverly written book by his daughter, Christine Denoon and her friend Laurie Steele, it is a lovely and poignant throw back to the Mad Men era.  The story takes place in NYC in 1963 where two copywriter's Davis and Joe are working on there latest advertisement slogan.  Of course romantic shenanigans ensue and as Joe's secretary Mrs. Sasslebaum says, "the office is better than the guiding light."   If you are a fan of the classics it is a must see. David Denoon's songs are truly some of the most beautiful I've ever heard.  They are gems that have literally been sitting in an attic for 50 years until his daughters recently discovered them.  And even if you are more keen for the contemporary, you should still check us out.  There are lots of laughs to be had:)

What is it like being a part of Someone To Belong To?:  It has been the most wonderful experience.  It is a fantastically talented cast and we are working with a lovely and brilliant creative team who are willing to go any extra mile to help this show take off.  On top of all that, the piece itself is just written very well and it has been a pleasure to work on every moment. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theatre that is new and creative and focuses on the story telling above all else.  I am really inspired by my family, by their constant support of my somewhat insane passion, and by the fact that they are just simply always there.  None of them are in theatre so they serve as a constant reminder of who we are doing theatre for and I think that perspective is invaluable.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Dot in Sunday in the Park with George or Anne in A Little Night Music

What’s your favorite showtune?: Currently... “Simple” from Nine

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Hmm this is random and not a Broadway guy but I would say Will Ferrell.  I think he is just hilarious and that it would be the most fun because I would just be laughing all day.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Maybe Zooey Deschanel.... and it would hopefully be called "Something Like a Love Story" ;)

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I am a big fan of Peter and the Starcatcher.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Nutella and Peanut Butter side by side, straight out of the jars.

What’s up next?: Not sure just yet... I've been really enjoying working on Someone to Belong To and I'm excited to see where its headed next.