Saturday, January 30, 2016

Shameless Plug: Go On Forever at the Venus/Adonis Festival



I'm really excited to share my latest play, Go On Forever, at the Venus/Adonis Festival! It's coming up THIS WEEK and it would be a thrill to see some friendly faces in the audience! I could not be prouder of my cast. These boys have gone above and beyond to bring this baby to life and you should support them.


Go On Forever
Written and Directed by Michael Bradley

Starring Evan Gambardella and Chris Goodrich

The Hudson Guild Theatre
441 W. 26th St.

Monday, February 1st at 9:00pm
Wednesday, February 3rd at 9:00pm
Saturday, February 6th at 3:30pm



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spotlight On...Rhiannon Lattimer

Name: Rhiannon Lattimer

Hometown: Banstead, Surrey England.

Education: The Three Year program at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. The Brit School of Performing Arts and Technology.

Select Credits: Agave – The Bacchae, Paulina – The Winter’s Tale, Mary – Serenading Louie, Original cast member of Douglas Carter Beane’s Robin Hood: A New Musical.

Why theater?: Theatre has no boundaries it can venture from movie like naturalism to the abstract and everything in-between. It is a shared experience, between the actors and the audience, which will never be repeated in the same way again.

Who do you play in An Ideal Husband: The Scheming, Dangerous, Duplicitous Mrs Cheveley.

Tell us about An Ideal Husband: Well its Oscar Wilde’s late 1800’s look at society where honour crumbles under the weight of expectation, and blackmail with a healthy side helping of Wilde’s witticism.

What is it like being a part of An Ideal Husband: Fabulous Fun. Since my Last production was The Bacchae where I was pulling apart my own son with my bare hands, therefore Wilde’s witty repartee is a welcome change of pace. Bobby our director is great his directing style is specific yet he gives us room to play and collaborate. I look forward to each and every rehearsal.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Mark Rylance and Frank Langella are the two most inspiring artists I have ever had the fortune to see working and meet. They are true artists. I saw Mark Rylance as Johnny Rooster Byron in Jerusalem and as Richard III, he had the audience in raptures eating out of his palm, yet after the show he comes out in socks and Jesus sandals and barely raises his voice above a whisper. Frank Langella merely described our Job in three stages 1) Learn the words. 2) Understand what they mean. 3) Mean them when you say them. It is their unaffected attitudes towards themselves that makes their work extraordinary.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Probably any role in a period drama which has already been taken by either Keira Knightly or Carey Mulligan, however I don’t think they’ve got around to Catherine Ernshaw - Wuthering Heights or Sue Brideshead – Jude The Obscure.

What’s your favorite showtune?: I loved Mary Poppins as a kid so it would probably have to be "Lets Go Fly a Kite".

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Julian Fellowes, if for no other reason than I could wear a pretty dress and dole out witty slurs à la Dame Maggie Smith. Roman Polanski as well, his work never ceases to amaze and delight me.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Recently I’ve been watching Francis Ha and Mistress America, so therefore I would love Greta Gerwig to play me and for Noah Baumbach to direct my biopic, although she is nothing like me she will make my life funnier than it is. Most definitely it would be called “No Nonsense Nonny” – A recent nickname which I enjoy rather.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Jude Law’s Hamlet would have been a sight to see.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: A View from the Bridge, such refreshing non naturalistic staging.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Terrible Telly, completely devoid of any artistic merit, Dance Moms and Gossip Girl to name some.

What’s up next?: I am also rehearsing for an all female adaptation of Titus Andronicus called Martyr’d Signs with Hudson Shakespeare Company, which shall open in April, also I was featured in a couple of short films I shot over the summer intended for a spring release!!!

For more on Rhiannon, visit www.rhiannonlattimer.com  http://everythingadamllc.weebly.com/tix-for-current-productions.html

Spotlight On...Genny Yosco

Name: Genny Yosco

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Favorite Credits: The Countess in Countess Dracula!, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Trinculo in Tempest, Katherine in Taming of the Shrew, various roles in A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody

Why theater?: It’s literally the only thing I’ve wanted to do since I was about 8 years old. I saw Footloose on Broadway and fell in love with theater. Ever since then, I’ve been acting, directing, producing, and have just started to write my own shows. I’m so happy one of them – my second original show EVER – got accepted into the FRIGID Festival!

Tell us about CSI: Mayberry – An Unauthorized Parody: It’s this weird mashup between "CSI: Miami" and "The Andy Griffith Show", in which a string of murders crop up in the town of Mayberry. Since Andy and Barney aren’t, well, the most competent law enforcement officers in the world, it goes about as well as you think it would. I threw in a bunch of in jokes from the original Andy Griffith episodes, but I also did my best to make sure those who aren’t very familiar with either TV show would be able to enjoy it.

What inspired you to create CSI: Mayberry?: Well, the idea came about after my co-producer, Chris Weigandt, and I were exhausted and punchy after finishing up a children’s show that we directed and produced last August, and we came up with this weird idea on the subway ride from the theater headed back home. I was filling out the application for the FRIGID Festival a few days later, and I decided to put in this show as a bit of a “Hey, we’re never gonna get in anyway!” type of deal, and since I only had to submit a plot, not a script, I just kinda made stuff up as I went along. About an hour after submitting to the festival, I got an email stating that CSI: Mayberry was in. After that, I really had no choice on the matter!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Oh, comedy all the way! I’m such a dork, and while I can direct/act in dramatic pieces, they’re not the most fun things for me. For instance, my theater company, Sour Grapes Productions, put on a Halloween show last October that I directed and acted in. We specifically picked a drama that was written so poorly that the only way it could be done would be to do it as a farce. I mean, the last line was “And now, a marriage in hell!” How is THAT supposed to be taken seriously? The cast had a blast with it, and the audiences loved it. What mostly inspires me to be an artist at this point is the Hate Fire™ that has been building inside of me from an early age. I was bullied a whole lot in school, I had a lot of bad relationships growing up, unsupportive family members, teachers that would tell me that this industry is too hard (duh) and that I would instantly change my mind (opposite of duh). While this is the only career that makes me feel whole, what drives me to keep going past the brink of exhaustion and insanity is the fact that I need to make a lot of people eat their words.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Anyone off of the Harry Potter franchise, because I’m in love with those stories. Also Seth Rogan, because I have the same weird sense of humor as that weirdo.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: When Rock of Ages was still on Broadway, I saw it 10 times – I’m not even exaggerating! I was CONSTANTLY dragging friends to go see that play. I also really love Something Rotten and The Fantasticks. I’ve also heard some GREAT things about this FRIGID Festival show called CSI: Mayberry, although I’ve also heard that the playwright is kind of conceited.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would insist on playing myself because I’m narcissistic trash, and it would be called "Vanity, Thy Name is Genevieve".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Heathers – I was way too busy to go see it when it was out, and I have regretted it ever since it closed.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Nickelodeon shows. Yeah, I still watch. FIGHT ME.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Depressed, probably.

What’s up next?: Well, I’m currently in the process of (AKA procrastinating) writing an LGBTQ version of Romeo and Juliet, and I’m submitting a bunch of shows to various festivals. I’m also working on getting this show, as well as my last original show, A Fifth Dimension: An Unauthorized Twilight Zone Parody published.

For more on Sour Grapes Productions, visit www.sourgrapesproductions.com and www.facebook.com/sourgrapesproductions. For tickets to CSI: Mayberry, visit horsetrade.info.

Preview: Frigid Festival 2016

It’s winter which means the Frigid Festival is upon us! This year for their 10th edition, Horse Trade Theater Group will play host to an assortment of producitons at the Kraine Theater and Under St. Marks. Theater in the Now is giving you a glimpse into the thirty productions of this year’s festival! Frigid Festival 2016 runs February 16th-March 6th. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit horsetrade.info and remember to use #frigidfestival2016 and #titn on Twitter and Facebook! And now, for a preview!



Top 5 Exciters

Chalk
Created & Performed by Alex Curtis

CHALK (a silent comedy) is a hilarious and unexpected one-man show guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Chalk invites audiences into a hand-drawn world where imagination is made real and anything can happen. Charlie Chaplin meets Harold and the Purple Crayon in this romantic romp sure to “Draw You In.”

The Kraine Theater
2/16 @ 8:50pm, 2/20 @ 1:40pm, 2/24 @ 8:50pm, 3/1 @ 5:30pm, 3/4 @ 6:50pm

CSI: Mayberry- An Unauthorized Parody
Written & Directed by Genny Yosco

In this farcical mash-up of "CSI: Miami" and "The Andy Griffith Show", we find a gruesome string of murders happening in Mayberry. It’s up to Andy and Barney to find out who the killer is from a list of familiar faces: Is it Aunt Bee? Floyd the Barber? Or someone else...?

The Kraine Theater
2/16 @ 10:30pm, 2/20 @ 3:20pm, 2/23 @ 10:30pm, 2/28 @ 5:10pm, 3/3 @ 7:10pm

Emily Dickinson: Paranormal Investigator 
Written by Todd Brian Backus, Directed by Ben Ferber

In this historical romp, Emily Dickinson, New England's premiere paranormal investigator, is reunited with her mentor, Edgar Allan Poe. They venture to Brooklyn on the trail of a horrifying new adversary. Along the way they encounter ghosts, witches, and the mysterious Fox Sisters.

The Kraine Theater
2/17 @ 8:50pm, 2/20 @ 5pm, 2/25 @ 8:50pm, 3/1 @ 10:30pm, 3/6 @ 5:10pm

Help Me Out Here
Written & Performed by Michael Joel and Kaitlin Overton

As one assembles an IKEA chair, another determines the meaning of their existence. Devised from journals, emails, and drunken iPhone notes, Help me out here is written and performed by Michael Joel and Kaitlin Overton. Bring a screwdriver...and a Xanax.

UNDER St. Marks
2/18 @ 5:30pm, 2/21 @ 5:10pm, 2/24 @ 7:10pm, 2/27 @ 10:30pm, 3/5 @ 12:30pm

Lil Women: A Rap Musical
Presented by Lil Theatre Company

Come join the March sisters as they spit rhymes, drop sick beats, and kick it old schoolhouse! Original debuted in at the Orlando Fringe in 2012; Lil’ Women: A Rap Musical combines the classic story "Little Women" with hip-hop music.

The Kraine Theater
2/23 @ 5:30pm, 2/25 @ 7:10pm, 2/28 @ 3:30pm, 3/1 @ 8:50pm, 3/4 @ 5:10pm, 3/5 @ 3:20pm


The Rest of the Fest 


A Broad Abroad!
Written by Eric Kornfeld & D’yan Forest, Performed by D’yan Forest, Directed by Eric Kornfeld

Classy comedic "femme fatale" with an international flair takes you on her 80-year journey around the world through songs (French, Italian, English), humorous vignettes, with her piano & ukulele. Her unusual escapades and sexcapades will hold your attention since you won't know what to expect next.

The Kraine Theater
2/16 @ 5:30pm, 2/21 @ 3:30pm, 2/26 @ 6:50pm, 3/2 @ 5:30pm, 3/4 @ 8:30pm

Acute…Girl
Written & Performed by Julia Sun, Directed by Christine Renee Miller

How much bullsh*t can a girl put up with just to have nice things to wear? Come and listen to her stories told in a heartbreakingly hilarious way: between amateur modeling gigs and mail-in beauty pageant, what could possibly go wrong?

The Kraine Theater
2/17 @ 7:10pm, 2/21 @ 1:50pm, 2/25 @ 5:30pm, 3/1 @ 7:10pm, 3/3 @ 8:50pm

All is Fine in Sunny Florida!
Written by Mark Levy

Florida is a messed up place with lots of crazy horrible things happening everyday. All is Fine in Sunny Florida! is a series of short plays (written by a Floridian) all about these TRUE STORIES….yes 98 percent of those play is completely true.  Either from Florida Man twitter, real news stories or happened to the author.

The Kraine Theater
2/19 @ 5:10pm, 2/22 @ 10:30pm, 2/27 @ 5pm, 2/28 @ 1:50pm, 3/5 @ 6:40pm

The BYU/Berkeley Plot
Written by Ben Abbott

Brigham Young University and UC Berkeley couldn’t be more different. They’re the crispy ends of the higher education banana, and Ben Abbott went to both. But while trading Book of Mormon classes for angry protest rallies, he may have stumbled upon a shocking conspiracy linking the two! (Spoiler: It’s aliens.)

UNDER St. Marks
2/22 @ 5:30pm, 2/25 @ 10:30pm, 2/27 @ 7:10pm, 3/2 @ 7:10pm, 3/4 @ 5:30pm, 3/6 @ 12:10pm

CLENCHED
Written & Performed by David Mogolov, Directed by Steve Kleinedler

Struck by a mystery illness, David receives doctor's orders to relax: something he's incapable of doing. Desperate to conquer his debilitating tension, David dives into a spiraling monologue, a farce that audiences will find familiar, funny, and delightfully weird.

UNDER St. Marks
2/19 @ 8:50pm, 2/20 @ 12:30pm, 2/25 @ 8:50pm, 2/26 @ 5:30pm, 2/28 @ 5:10pm, 3/4 @ 7:10pm

Conversations with Body Language
Written & Performed by Mike Spara

Conversations with Body Language is wordless solo sketch comedy. Started as a loving update to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Mike Spara combines silent film sensibility, modern music and absurdity into a mix-tape for your imagination. Mike is also a co-founder of The New Movement New Orleans.

UNDER St. Marks
2/16 @ 5:30pm, 2/19 @ 10:30pm, 2/20 @ 10:30pm, 2/21 @ 12:10pm, 2/25 @ 7:10pm, 2/27 @ 8:50pm

Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy!
Written & Performed by Dandy Darkly, Directed by Ian Bjorklund

NYC’s “decidedly wicked storyteller” (New York Times) returns to the FRIGID Festival with his latest tales to eviscerate the American Dream — exposing obsessions on guns, fear and our relentless pursuit of happiness. A resonant new voice of contemporary cabaret, brazenly bizarre and fearlessly foppish. Set expectation aside and see why critics the world over swoon for Dandy Darkly.

UNDER St. Marks
2/16 @ 7:10pm, 2/20 @ 8:50pm, 2/23 @ 5:30pm, 3/4 @ 10:30pm, 3/6 @ 1:50pm

Don’t Move to Toronto
Written & Performed by Zoe Daniels, Dramaturgy by Mikaela Dyke

In 2012, Zoe Daniels lived a charmed life in Montreal. By 2014 she'd been dumped, evicted, fired, threatened, and bankrupted. Using the worst possible iTunes playlist and her years of experience as a stand-up comedian and storyteller, she presents the brutally hilarious tale of perfect happiness ruined by simply moving to Toronto.

UNDER St. Marks
2/24 @ 5:30pm, 2/26 @ 7:10pm, 2/28 @ 12:10pm, 3/1 @ 7:10pm, 3/3 @ 10:30pm, 3/5 @ 5:30pm

Eighth Grade
Written & Performed by Nisse Greenberg

Eighth Grade is the origin story of Nisse Greenberg's neurosis. It's funny in the way that losing your optimism is always a little funny. Using projections of found images and his eighth grade yearbook, Nisse shows us what it's like inside his mind: a place no one asked to go.

UNDER St. Marks
2/17 @ 5:30pm, 2/21 @ 1:50pm, 2/28 @ 3:30pm, 3/2 @ 8:50pm, 3/5 @ 8:50pm


The Extraordinary Fall of the Four-Legged Woman
Written by Lily Ali-Oshatz, Directed by Madeline Wall

Step right up and witness a fantastical circus sideshow! In the dusty desert of Arizona, Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged Woman, meets her match. This experimental musical reveals the wonders of performing and navigates what it means to be "other."

The Kraine Theater
2/18 @ 7:10pm, 2/20 @ 6:40pm, 2/22 @ 8:50pm, 2/27 @ 1:40pm, 3/2 @ 8:50pm

The Golden Smile
Written by Yaakov Bressler, Directed by Joey Stamp, Music by Zach Stamp

While struggling to write a play, five mental patients battle personal demons and theatrical creativity through vulgarity, sarcasm, and song.

The Kraine Theater
2/18 @ 8:50pm, 2/21 @ 6:50pm, 2/24 @ 10:30pm, 3/2 @ 7:10pm, 3/5 @ 8:20pm

The Gospel of Sherilyn Fenn
Written & Performed by Brad Lawrence, Directed by Cyndi Freeman

The show is the true story of how Brad Lawrence survived a childhood at the center of the Reagan Eighties, the rise of the moral majority and meth amphetamine, the terrors of sex and the nuclear bomb, and his guest role in a sibling’s suicide by escaping into pop culture.

UNDER St. Marks
2/19 @ 7:10pm, 2/24 @ 8:50pm, 2/27 @ 3:50pm, 3/3 @ 5:30pm & 3/5 @ 10:30pm

The Murder at Ginger Creek: An Interactive Murder Mystery
Written & Directed by Michael Curtain and Ruthie Scarpino

Welcome to Ginger Creek, where curious characters and perplexing events are the norm. Join Hank O’ Hara and Sally Silver Gunz, as they run from the law, stumble over clues and suffer from amnesia. Their lives depend on you, as they attempt to solve a murder and prove their innocence.

The Kraine Theater
2/18 @ 5:30pm, 2/22 @ 5:30pm, 2/26 @ 5:10pm, 3/3 @ 5:30pm, 3/6 @ 3:30pm

Outskirts of Eden
Adapted by Eva Dolan from Edward LeComte’s novel I Eve, Directed by Joy Kaczmarek

From an Eden magical, menacing and alive with human feeling, we enter very the mind of Eve. Centuries later Adam is dead, Eve is pissed and good and evil are on the tongues of the tasters. Live musical accompaniment.

UNDER St. Marks
2/18 @ 8:50pm, 2/22 @ 7:10pm, 2/28 @ 1:50pm, 3/2 @ 5:30pm, 3/6 @ 5:10pm

Peach Fuzzy
Written & Performed by Mark Pagán

What happens when a boy wakes up to find out that puberty has turned his body into a mustache? Mark Pagán presents the only coming-of-age story involving mysterious stubble patches, etiquette tutorials, Teddy Pendergrass, treasure trails, Russian lasers, fake cancer scares, clandestine salon visits, and wax. Lots of wax.

UNDER St. Marks
2/17 @ 8:50pm, 2/20 @ 5:30pm, 2/26 @ 10:30pm, 2/27 @ 12:30pm, 3/3 @ 7:10pm

Punk Grandpa
Written by Laura Scruggs, Directed by Janie Martinez

Punk Grandpa is about one magical weekend Laura spent with her grandpa at 5 3/4 years old, portrayed through storytelling, dance, music and vintage family movies and photos. Grandpa was the free-est, most inappropriate person Laura ever knew and this show demonstrates how he set Laura free to be herself through his humor and unpredictable, wild ways. It'll put hair on your chest.

UNDER St. Marks
2/19 @ 5:30pm, 2/21 @ 3:30pm, 2/22 @ 8:50pm, 2/23 @ 7:10pm, 2/28 @ 6:50pm, 3/5 @ 3:50pm

Rotten Apple
Written & Performed by Matthew K. Sears & Amanda Nicastro

A woman raised by pigeons, an author famous only on NPR, and a devil worshipping cable company all know how to make it in the big city. Do you? Once you do, you may be too damaged to make it anywhere else...

UNDER St. Marks
2/17 @ 10:30pm, 2/21 @ 6:50pm, 2/26 @ 8:50pm, 3/2 @ 10:30pm, 3/5 @ 2:10pm

Set Yet in Motion
Written by Alaina Hammond, Directed by Sarah M. Chichester

In Set Yet in Motion, the ancient Greeks contend with the Judeo-Christian God. Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche address the intellectual and romantic tension between them. Also, there's onstage sex!* (*Verbal, metaphorical. Some would say that's the sexiest kind of sex.)  A good time will be had by philosophers, artists, and geeks from all walks of life.

UNDER St. Marks
2/18 @ 10:30pm, 2/20 @ 2:10pm, 2/22 @ 10:30pm, 2/27 @ 5:30pm, 3/4 @ 8:50pm

Seven Fragments
Written & Directed by Rachel Kerry

If falling in love could affect the fabric of reality, then a broken heart would shatter it into fragments. Merging theatre, experimental dance, animation, and a dark jazz score, Seven Fragments is a tale of unrequited love, lost memories, and high school.

The Kraine Theater
2/17 @ 10:30pm, 2/19 @ 8:30pm, 2/23 @ 8:50pm, 2/27 @ 12pm, 3/5 @ 5pm

So Amazing
Written & Performed by Diana Brown

HBO’s "Going Clear" meets Netflix’s "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" in this one-woman comedy that takes you along for the ride as main character, Diana, gets into and out of a cult. Based on a true story, Diana’s family does everything they can to rescue her as the cult holds firm control.

The Kraine Theater
2/16 @ 7:10pm, 2/20 @ 8:20pm, 2/24 @ 5:30pm, 2/27 @ 3:20pm, 3/5 @ 1:40pm

Sprucehaven B
Written by Mark Cornell, Directed by Akia Squitieri

The award winning, critically acclaimed Rising Sun Performance Company returns to FRIGID with a tale of heartbreak, madness, and horror.  Isabel’s world is forever altered over the course of two nights separated by decades in a desolate Maine cabin.  If only she could hear three little words…

The Kraine Theater
2/17 @ 5:30pm, 2/21 @ 5:10pm, 2/23 @ 7:10pm, 2/26 @ 8:30pm, 3/3 @ 10:30pm

SUPERSHOCK VS FAUST
Written by Paolo Cipriano

During the screening of the silent movie “FAUST” by Murnau (1926), the rock musician Supershock performs live music composed to interact with the images. The public experiences the atmosphere of silent cinema, but everything is repeated according to today's standards and the classic orchestra becomes rock music, who gives a fresh and modern voice. A show of contamination.  A representation of modernity.

UNDER St. Marks
2/18 @ 7:10pm, 2/20 @ 3:50pm, 2/25 @ 5:30pm, 2/27 @ 2:10pm, 3/1 @ 5:30pm, 3/5 @ 7:10pm

Thank You For Waiting
Written by Kasey Brown & Marc J. Franklin, Directed by Nicholas Foster

Kate and Eddie, two estranged friends, unexpectedly meet in a therapist’s waiting room after a year apart. As they confront a shared trauma, a delicate dance begins between who they were, and who they have become. Thank You For Waiting explores mental health, loss, and the dynamic nature of friendship.

The Kraine Theater
2/18 @ 10:30pm, 2/24 @ 7:10pm, 2/27 @ 6:40pm, 3/2 @ 10:30pm, 3/5 @ 12pm

Why So Much Shame?
Written & Performed by Nicole Ferraro, Directed by Sara Peters

Nicole was six when her dad died. But she kept trying to get his attention in hopes he'd come back. WHY SO MUCH SHAME? uses vivid storytelling to explore a child's unspoken grief, a woman's confrontation with the truth, and the powerful things that happen when we stop pretending.

UNDER St. Marks
2/17 @ 7:10pm, 2/20 @ 7:10pm, 2/24 @ 10:30pm, 3/3 @ 8:50pm, 3/6 @ 3:30pm

WITH YOU!
Written & Performed by Una Aya Osato

WITH YOU! is a queer sports rom-com about a college rugby team's love for the game and each other, brought to the stage via one woman's body. The newest semi-autobiographical comedy from award-winning performer/playwright Una Aya Osato.

The Kraine Theater
2/19 @ 6:50pm, 2/22 @ 7:10pm, 2/25 @ 10:30pm, 2/27 @ 8:20pm, 3/6 @ 1:50pm

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Spotlight On...Luke Darnell

Name: Luke Darnell

Hometown: Morristown, NJ

Education: I was born into a “theatre family” and grew up in and around theatre and learned much by doing and observing. I studied at Worth-Tyrrell Studios School Of Performing Arts in Morristown, NJ and with various teachers in NYC and L.A. Currently studying acting at Matthew Corozine Studio and voice with Michael Warren and Martin Hurt in NYC.

Select Credits: Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac! Carl Perkins in the Las Vegas company of Million Dollar Quartet, Jake in The Understudy (Cape May Stage, NJ), several roles/productions of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Regional credits include Fulton Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre, Arvada Center, Ogunquit Playhouse.

Why theater?: I almost had no choice! ;-) Both my parents were actors and I’m a fourth generation performer (3rd generation AEA member) so I almost HAD to go into theatre! Well, that, and I happen to love it.

Who do you play in Cyrano?: Christian, the tongue-tied cadet who borrows Cyrano’s eloquence to win the love of the beautiful Roxanne.

Tell us about Cyrano: It’s the classic story of Cyrano de Bergerac, a brilliant speaker, poet and swordsman, who lacks confidence with women because of his looks, particularly his very large nose. He is in love with the beautiful and equally eloquent Roxanne but believes he has no chance with her. She falls in love at first sight with the handsome cadet, Christian, who is “speechless, dumb” with women until Cyrano agrees to feed him the words he needs to win her. Comedy and tragedy ensue. Our script was adapted for 8 actors by Gabriel Barre (who also plays Cyrano), Rick Sordelet and Alexander Sovronsky based on the Anthony Burgess translation. It’s raucous, incredibly fun, and moving.

What is it like being a part of Cyrano?: It’s been a whirlwind, so far. With only 8 actors in the cast, almost everyone is playing at least 2-3 other roles, beside their primary, and playing instrumental underscoring and accompaniment so there is little, if any, down time. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating!

What's your favorite showtune?: It’s not your typical showtune but “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy is one of my absolute favorites. It’s a perfect encapsulation of Rose’s story, brilliant story telling with a tremendous arc and haunting musical accompaniment.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:
 I’d go back and watch my grandparents in vaudeville.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Something Rotten! It’s clever and hilarious. Also, keep an eye out for Between Riverside And Crazy which I had the good fortune to catch lat year at Second Stage Theatre starring the incredible Stephen McKinley Henderson. I hear there’s a Broadway run coming up.

What's your biggest guilty pleasure?: Disco...Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Chic!

What's up next?: Possibly some music gigs in the near future. No acting work booked at the moment but audition season looms...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Spotlight On...Vanda

Name: Hi, my name is Vanda. I only use my first name, which seems to really upset some people. One director informed me that he would never work with a playwright who only had one name. Still, I do have my fans. Edward Albee calls me “the playwright with one name.”

Hometown: I guess you must mean the place where I was born and grew up.  After decades of living her, New York City is home to me. But I grew up in Huntington Station, right next to Huntington where four of my characters in the novel and show Juliana come from.

Education: A doctorate in psychology.

Favorite credits:  "Juliana", the novel, Juliana, the show based on the novel, which is performed at the Duplex Cabaret every second Tuesday of the month.  Edward Albee Fellowship. National Lambda Literary Award finalist in Drama. First place winner in “Best new LGBT play” at Celebration Theater, Los Angeles, CA (where Naked Boys Singing got its start)
 
Why theater?: I saw my first play when I was 12. It was Oklahoma. As a working class kid I had no idea that grown-ups could actually get up on stage and play parts and sing and dance.  I was staggered and went straight home to start rewriting (stealing) Oklahoma. In eighth grade I wrote my first novel. My English teacher noted that I had a flair for dialogue.  I didn’t know what to do with that “flair” until after I graduated with my doctorate. It wasn’t a month after I was freed from my boring dissertation that I was hit with a desperate need to write a play. Why? I don’t know.

Tell us about Juliana: Juliana began first as a novel, which will be released this February and is available for pre-order now from all the on-line sellers in both print and e-copy.  Juliana is the story of dreams, the dreams of two women who randomly, inevitably cross paths, of stage stardom and soulful songs amid the deceptions required in a prewar 1941 New York City, where love was presumed to be straight, and destiny was supposed to be written in the stars. Alice “Al” Huffman comes from the potato fields of Long Island with her beau, her best girlfriend and her girlfriend’s beau to make it on the Broadway stage only to find she has no talent. On the kids’ first day in New York City, they meet Maxwell P. Hartwell III, a failed nightclub owner and Broadway producer, who, according to Al, looks a little like Clark Gable. He invites them to a nightclub where Al hears Juliana, the glamorous, perpetually-on-the-brink-of stardom nightclub singer, sing for the first time. Al is instantly drawn to her and seeks her out. Juliana, a sexual risk-taker, easily reels in the mesmerized Al. Al is increasingly pulled into a secret gay underworld of men who wear dresses and women who smoke cigars, while her childhood friends continue in their “normal” lives.  Al glides easily between the two worlds until these worlds begin to collide.  Before Juliana was slated to be published, back in December, 2104 I found an actor who had been working with me on other projects and asked him if he would direct a few chapters from my novel for the stage. That’s how Ray Fritz became my director. He is such a marvelous talent. Other directors wouldn’t take on the project because it wasn’t a play in the traditional sense, but Ray is always up for a challenge. We gathered some exceptional actors and began performing chapters from the novel beginning with chapter 1 at the Duplex Cabaret on Christopher Street. Over the months we’ve developed a following of repeat audience who come to the Duplex each month to find out what happens next. We’ve expanded how we perform these chapters by including singing and dancing from the time period. Our show is part radio program, part novel, part nightclub entertainment and part play.

What inspired you to write Juliana?: From an intellectual perspective Juliana tells the story of LGBT history as the characters live it.  I felt a need to 1. Know more about this history myself and 2. To share this fascinating history with others. From an emotional level there is always the magic that grabs you by the throat and says, “You must write this piece.”  This magic took me over one afternoon when I was walking down Waverly Street, about to step off the curb at Fifth Avenue. Coming toward me from the other side of Fifth I saw a woman in a salmon colored cardigan sweater walking toward me.  I didn’t see much of the rest of her. My eyes focused on the shape and color of her neck and how the pearl necklace sat on her décolletage. In that moment Juliana was born.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I have a wide range of theatrical tastes.  I can enjoy a traditional toe-tapping musical and I can enjoy a thoughtful in depth piece that explores character.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with who would it be?: Meryl Streep. I am a lover of truly great acting.  In the US we focus everything on celebrity rather than acting, but when I see good acting—and I more often see this in non-celebrities, like the actors in my cast for Juliana—I am totally enthralled and excited. Meryl Streep is one of the few celebrities who insists that she be allowed to act and not simply pose. I would love to hear my words coming out of her mouth.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy. Breath-taking!

If you could go back in time and could see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I could never pick just one. For musicals I would go back to the 1941 version of Lady in the Dark, for straight plays I would want to see the original 1945 production of Glass Menagerie. How exciting it must have been to experience Laurette Taylor as Amanda Wingfield.  And I would have loved being at the original Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 1956.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Since I don’t feel guilty about my pleasures I don’t know how to answer your question.

If you weren’t working in theater what would you be ____?: A psychotherapist.

What’s up next?: Juliana has been extended to December 2016!  In March we will finish Volume 1 (1941-1944) Then in April we’ll do a short recap of the early chapters of the novel to catch people up who haven’t seen the show from the beginning. In May we begin Juliana, Volume 2: Post War Years—1945-1955.

Spotlight On...Dee Roscioli

photo by Russ Rowland
Name: Dee Roscioli

Hometown: Easton, PA

Education: BA in Theatre arts/acting

Select Credits: Wicked (Elphaba, Chicago, San Francisco, Broadway and touring companies); Circus in Winter (Jennie, Godspeed Musicals); Love/Sick (by John Cariani and produced at Royal Family); Little Miss Sunshine (Second Stage); Murder Ballad (Sara, MTC workshop); Spamalot (Lady of the Lake, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre); Sweeney Todd (Mrs. Lovett, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); Various symphony concerts and solo cabaret performances in NYC and across the globe.

Why theater?: Why theatre? Well..Im not good at anything else. : ) When it all comes together and there is a human in front of you living in the moment…nothing can top it. I love being apart of that, either in the audience or on stage.

Who do you play in Rock and Roll Refugee?: Goldie…the younger Genya Ravan

Tell us about Rock and Roll Refugee: What Katrina Rose Dideriksen said..seriously she has a great summary. :)

What is it like being a part of Rock and Roll Refugee?: I will tell you the truth, it is remarkably challenging. The story itself isn’t a lighthearted musical affair, so the emotional life required to be present is wide and deep and switches on a dime. There is a lot of sh*t that happens to this woman, to put it lightly, its dark and and a lot of times difficult to navigate. Christine Henry, our writer and director, has done a fantastic job of taking the audience through Genya’s  heavier times without getting too indulgent. Lets also add the challenge of playing a woman at 7, 13, and 16 making it one of the hardest characters I’ve taken on. I think the whole cast is challenged in this show, its not easy, but when we get it right it will certainly be a unique theatre moment.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I recently saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and was blown away by it in it’s entirely. There wasn’t a thing missing from that show. It is a perfect example of everything coming together to make a beautiful genius piece of theatre. That’s what inspires me the most. Lets work together as one cohesive entity and create something.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Well it used to be Fantine in Les Miz and Ellen in Miss Saigon but I think I’ve let it go…it doesn’t seem to be happening for me with those roles :) I really love creating something from the ground up so I’ve been focusing on that.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Oh jeez…No idea. In this moment I just heard a song from The Color Purple and was completely moved. Im a little ADD with my musical theatre selections…whatever is red and shiny. LOL

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Marianne Elliot, she directed Curious Incident and War Horse. I think she is astonishing. Acting wise I think Daniel Day Lewis…cuz I see that in the foreseeable future (*drops head slightly and silently cries*) ;)

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Kristin Wiig is DEE and the MARVELOUS MARSHMALLOW MISHAP!

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Funny Girl…I want to see the star in the making

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Fun Home, Curious Incident

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Stupid Potato chips and I wish they would leave me alone!!!!!

What’s up next?: I’ve been working on a new show called The Circus in Winter this past year and had a production at Goodspeed Musicals last fall.  The book is by Hunter Foster and Music and Lyrics by Ben Clark. I think it’s a special piece of theatre. Other than that I have some concert dates coming up..the closest is with the Philly Pops in April..Im really excited about that one because it’s so close to my home town.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spotlight On...Danny Ashkenasi

Name: Danny Ashkenasi

Hometown: Living in Brooklyn, NY; born and raised in Berlin, Germany

Education: BFA in Drama from NYU (Acting and Directing track at Playwrights Horizons Theater School)

Favorite Credits: Composer: beTwixt, beTween & beTWAIN: a Mark Twain musical; The Song of Job 9:11; The Tell-Tale Heart: a musicabre; Witches: a two women musical; Actor: "Rote Erde" – TV miniseries; Richard II (title role); The Tell-Tale Heart: a musicabre (Protagonist)

Why theater?: I’ve loved performing and music since before I can remember.  It’s always been who I am.  I can’t remember what initially spurred the enthusiasm (although my mother being an opera singer may have had something to do with it; her mother was a performer too, so it could have been nature, it could have been nurture, it could have been both).  I was acting and singing as a child and composing musicals became a natural outgrowth of my love for theater.   Always expected to become an actor.  That I was a composer too took me by surprise when the ideas for my first full length musical (called Once Upon a Frog) happened upon me at the age of 14.

Tell us about Speakeasy: Speakeasy transports the stories and weird dream logic of "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass into the Roaring Twenties".  Two Alices, newlyweds John and Jane Allison, get mixed up with the Queer subculture that flourished in Prohibition era New York, encountering characters based in part on Lewis Carroll as well as real life eccentrics of that era’s Gay and Lesbian demimonde.  A lesbian kiss and homoerotic public restroom encounter are catalysts for the young couple’s fantastical adventures.  In one magical dream night John and Jane discover the Wonderland nightclub, experience bathtub gin, buffet flats, drag balls, and engage in whirlwind same sex affairs before witnessing the dissolution of 1920’s Queer culture during a bizarre “trial of the tarts”.  Finally John and Jane separately wake up from all this “stuff and nonsense”.   But was it all “just a dream”?  And will John and Jane reveal their newly discovered truths about themselves to each other?

What inspired you to write Speakeasy?: I’ve always wanted to set a musical where a 1920’s/1930’s nightclub defines and envelops the whole world of the play.  I also wished to compose a musical illuminating Gay American history.  Gay culture of the 1920’s/1930’s seemed so long ago and so “before recorded modern Gay History” to be almost fantastical.  So I thought exploring that time through a magical realist lense would be appropriate.  When I hit upon using both Alice books as templates for a married couple going “down the rabbit hole” and “through the looking glass”, I knew I had found my story.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: All genres and styles speak to me, if done well, with artistry, passion and intelligence.  But I have a lot of experience with and am particularly drawn to ensemble theater that relies on minimal sets and technical requirements and creates the whole world of the play through creative, evocative use of the actors. Where to begin, and how to end?  In music theater the greats like Sondheim, Porter, Weill, Robbins, Prince quickly come to mind; add composers like Beethoven, Bartok, Gershwin, Bush and Joel to another long list; cinematic geniuses like Astaire, Kelly, Fosse, Berkley… you really shouldn’t get me started…

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Nope, not saying it out loud, for then the wish won’t come true…

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Recently, A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder, Fun Home, A Curious Incident…, Kinky Boots, and of course, Hamilton!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Darren Chris (younger version)?  Steve Carrell (older version)? "Once Upon a Tune"?

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Shakespeare’s plays as originally performed, including at the original Globe Theater.  The original production of Kurt Weill’s and Max Reinhardt’s The Eternal Road.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: "Dancing with the Stars".  But I don’t feel guilty about it, although I imagine those, who haven’t discovered it to be the wonderful feel-good bowl of TV jello it is, would think I should feel guilty about how much I love that show.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Professor of Semantics in some small rural liberal arts college.

What’s up next?: The showcase run of Speakeasy is Feb 18 – Mar 13 at the Theater for the New City.  After that, … actually, I can barely think beyond that at this point, Speakeasy has so completely consumed me.  But I do have another musical, feedstore Quarte, written in collaboration with Jack Hilton Cunningham as well as the concept album “American Anthem” with the Jazz singer Jacqui Sutton in the pipeline.  And continuing my blog Notes from a Composer” – www.dannyashkenasi.com, which includes many fascinating tidbits and behind the scenes looks at Speakeasy among other cultural topics.

Review: It's All About the Experience

by Michael Block

Immersive theater is all the rage. And rightly so! Immersive theater offers a unique opportunity for theatermakers to create art that allows the audience to be fully engulfed in the experience, interacting in a manner that defies the fourth wall. But to pull off a feat of success takes a lot of intricate planning, impeccable timing, and an idea that is dreamily suited for the execution. In Journey Lab and Deaths Head Theatrical’s extraordinarily ambitious The Alving Estate, the company takes a piece inspired by a classic text and thrusts it into a haunted mansion in hopes of joining the ranks of other esteemed immersive companies. Sadly, that’s not quite the case.
Taking inspiration from Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, The Alving Estate transports some key players from the story to an earlier time to create a prequel of sorts. Though, you’d likely have to dig up some information to discover that important detail of context. While it will cause some concern later, picking Ghosts as the source material is strong, especially when you have a space to stage it like the Morris-Jumel Mansion. With a captivating story to use as the backbone and a venue seemingly perfectly equipped for an immersive experience, all the important ingredients are in place so what could go wrong? The Alving Estate suffers from an exuberant amount of execution woes. And it’s unfortunate because the potential is present. Co-created, co-conceived, and co-directed by Victor Carinha, Mia Zanette, Jennifer Wilson, Liz Lehman, Christy Casey, and Anthony Logan, The Alving Estate may be an example of too many cooks. Immersive theater is all about the experience. From entering the venue to leaving the venue, every minute detail in between should be deliberate, detailed and executed precisely. One tiny flaw could alter the enter flow of the evening. Having experienced the powerhouse that is Sleep No More or not, it’s evident that The Alving Estate is trying to capitalize on the Punchdrunk model. From the intricate movement interludes to the one on one interactions to the necessity of wearing a mask, the parallels are clear. It’s always nice to be likened to something worthy but if you don’t match or exceed the comparison, audiences are likely to say the other did it better. Comparisons aside, what was offered didn’t quite hit the mark.
Without spoiling the experience entirely, there are some key factors to consider. Staging the piece in January in New York City has some risk attached but the evening begins as you find house attendants hopefully waiting for you at the gates of the mansion to check you in. But you have to wait until a large enough group arrives before you can find warm refuge inside. Once inside, drinks are offered and you have an opportunity, if you so chose, to mingle with your fellow anxious colleagues. When all have gathered, the experience officially begins. Drunkard Jakob Engstrand meanders to the basement quarters to set the scene. We, the audience, are present for a job interview. We’re advised to pay close attention to the staff and explore the Alving Estate. In groups, you’re guided upstairs to collect a pair of white gloves and a surgical mask to wear as you explore. And thus begins a series of whys. From a dramaturgical perspective, establishing the experience as a job interview is interesting but it doesn’t quite get fully realized. You never quite get evaluated. Rather you watch the current help fight the ghosts within themselves, each searching for an escape from the retched job. The white gloves are a clever choice as it is a means to keep the estate clean if you wish to touch anything. But the surgical mask? It ends up feeling like they’re only used because Sleep No More has their audience wear masks. It becomes even more problematic from a dramaturgical perspective because if we’re perspective help, why isn’t the current help wearing the masks as well? With gloves and masks on, Regina Engstrand, daughter of Jakob and lead maid of Mrs. Alving, allows you to explore the estate. And thus, the immersive experience officially begins. You fend for yourself and follow your favorites. The Morris-Jumel Mansion is a multi-story house with an array of rooms filled with history. But ignore the Morris-Jumel memorabilia as it has nothing to do with the storytelling. It’s likely in your long beats of downtime you’ll read up on Aaron Burr and the other original residents of the home. Each room starts with the help engaging in lyrical movement where you may or may not be interacted with. What do these people’s stories have to do with the larger picture? That’s a big question mark. Until each person has their opportunity to journey from room to room does the Ibsen-inspired story begin. You discover Helene Alving preparing for the launch of a party where an announcement that an orphanage in her deceased husband’s name is to be built. As time passes, Pastor Manders arrives disparaging of her. And then her son Oswald suddenly returns home where he engages in a flirtatious affair with Regina. Knowledge of the source material is nearly essential to comprehend the character relationships, especially when the interactions begin. Unlike Sleep No More, The Alving Estate relies on dialogue. But the main problem is there is not enough content to keep the evening moving. There is so much individualized/slightly choreographed moments to fill the dead beats. The Alving Estate needs to either have less time in between beats or once the dialogue starts, it never stops, continually moving from moment to moment. With a source material that may not be as well known, missing any of the scenes is detrimental. Perhaps a stronger solution of the night was utilize the help in a manner where they guide the audience to the scenes so no one misses anything. But that means cueing and timing has to be exact. With haphazard rules set, yes, everyone’s experience will be different, but it may be a detriment for this particular piece. And with only five key players to follow, there’s only so many places you can go. It’s likely you may end up filling the time void by walking in circles and seeing repetitious scenes. The evening virtually ends with a dynamic scene of foreshadowing, but not knowing the source material and the true nature of Regina and Oswald, the scene lacks nearly all of its gravitas. From there, the guests are guided back to the basement, but who gets the job, since that’s the premise of the night? Well rumor had that there is an extra special scene that involved one audience member and the entirety of the company that seems to lack purpose in context, especially if you’re not in the room where it happened.
From a design perspective, much credit is due when it comes to the ambiance. The lights and sound add a dynamic layer, transforming the space into something spooky. And with experience being an essential element, the mode that was evoked was successful. Textually, the script is transported to the 1950s. But only one actor, Michael DeBartolo, truly captures the essence of the period. The rest of the company lived in a more heightened Ibsen-esque cadence. And it didn’t quite work. The bond between DeBartolo’s Oswald and Regina, played by Sandra Glinka, was the most interesting story to follow. Especially if you know what's to come in Ghosts. And we’re only given limited moments between the two. Phoebe Dunn took on the role of Helene. Dunn has a mesmerizing presence but age was a factor in believability. Evan Shaw as Pastor Manders spent most of his evening with Helene. Shaw offered a pensive performance, almost lost in the mansion like the guests. Sadly for Andrew Hamling, he was seldom utilized. But when Hamling appeared, he created a strong and interesting character. Credit should be given to the ensemble of "help" as they fill time and space, crafting a story that, at times, is more interesting than the text itself.
With an audience unsure of where and when exactly to journey, The Alving Estate is a choose-your-own-adventure that wasn’t fully realized. For those who can’t quite afford Sleep No More, The Alving Estate is a viable option. Just don’t quite expect the grandeur of Punchdrunk.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Spotlight On...Annie-Sage Whitehurst

Name: Annie-Sage Whitehurst

Hometown: Nyack, NY

Education: Smith College, MA

Select Credits: Cabel in UNTAMEABLE, an immersive diamond heist from The Unsoft War/ Highly Impractical Theatre (Nov 2015), Lia Haddock in Limetown (Two Up Productions, 2015)

Why theater?: Because it's my church.

Who do you play in Juliana?: I play Juliana!

Tell us about Juliana: Vanda's written an incredibly multifaceted character who is much more complicated and private than she seems.  Juliana is a church going, clit flicking torch singer in 1940s NYC and she does it all with poise and grace. She is the unobtainable femme fatale who knows exactly what she wants, and what part of herself and her character to show.

What is it like being a part of Juliana?: I love it! I love getting to channel such a mythical character- because Juliana IS mythical- and I enjoy the challenge of realizing her more unassuming, unflattering qualities.  (Director) Ray Fritz has done an excellent job of helping me connect Juliana's seemingly contradicting ideologies, and having the writer in the rehearsal room is such a privilege.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I grew up nose-deep in my parents' bookshelf of Brecht, Kenneth Bernard and Charles Ludlum, along with Chekov, Sam Shepard, etc. I'm attracted to work that comes from a need - whether to reshape the conversation, communicate a trauma, or a need to tell an untold story, and I love accessing different representations of femininity and history.  In a way, Juliana falls into all of these categories- as it is a story about a side of history that we really haven't heard before.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Yes.  Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Lady M.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I want to work with everyone I have yet to work with.  Seriously, call me.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would like to play myself now, and cast a Bruce Bogtrotter-type (from Matilda) to play me in flashbacks.  As for the title, I know I'd want a lot of hyphens and taglines.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Mae West's SEX in 1926, or Bernadette Peters in Into The Woods.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Jellybeans and America's Next Top Model, Cycle 3

What’s up next?: We've just had our contract at The Duplex, so I'll be here every second Tuesdays through December, 2016.  I'm also working on a few different filmed projects - stay tuned at www.annie-sage.com!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: How to Be the Perfect Housewife

by Michael Block

People do strange things when they experience tragedy. Even finding solace to accommodate loneliness leads to drastic paths. A desperate househusband strays while his wife is away on business. He meets a woman. Has an affair. Tells his wife. And suddenly the pair find themselves in Texas where the wife enrolls in a training facility where she learns how to be the proper housewife. That's how things begin in Anna Moench's In Quietness.
Presented by Dutch Kill Theater, In Quietness is a tragic story of a fading marriage and the steps the pair take to repair the cracks all while finding themselves. Gender roles are put on blast through the lens of religious expectancies. Moench takes a pair of strained New Yorkers and transports them to Texas where Paul attends Seminary school while Maxine serves as the welcoming committee at Homemaking House, living in a home in progress where impressionable girls are days away from learning how to be the perfect housewife. On their journey, we meet the matron of the right Terri and Maxine's do-right bunk buddy Beth. Moench's concept is poignant and a vital story. The ideas and themes that Moench presents are filled with much potential. But the final product she offers could use some clarity. No matter what, this story is Maxine's. It's truly her journey. Yet Moench bookends her script with monologues from husband Paul. And that's problematic in its own right. When it comes to Paul, with how and what we learn it, he's doomed. Right from the start there's no hope of salvation for Paul. He’s flawed. And lacks amiability. With an instantly unlikeable character, it sets up Max for victory, even if she too, is flawed. Regardless of this, if Max is in control of the piece, allowing her to lead in and out of the play could work to the play’s advantage. Moench establishes the first few scenes to serve as active exposition. At the peak of Paul and Max’s turmoil, Moench sends them to Texas to join a religious sect. But what was the cause of this move and why, are these two trying to repair their marriage, especially after the battle we previously saw? The explanation is strong but we spend an exuberant amount of time until we learn exactly why. Moench relies on anticipation but perhaps clueing in with more subtle hints would work to the story arch’s advantage. And that story that Moench has penned is something titillating. Whatever your views, the themes Moench addresses are significant, delicately placed in a character-driven drama. The dynamic between the three varying women is what drives the play to the finish line.
Kate MacCluggage is truly the centerpiece of In Quietness. She is a catalyst for nearly every character. MacCluggage offers a grounded performance, strong and balanced. You can see the fight in her, even though you may not understand Max’s desire to fight. As her strayed but found the light husband Paul, Blake DeLong does everything in his power to make you like him. And that allows a glimmer of hope for his renewal. But no matter what DeLong does, liking Paul is no easy feat. Lucy DeVito’s Beth is something unique. DeVito is able to play upon Beth’s secret by keeping a guarded disposition. And when Beth reaches her breaking point, DeVito is at her finest. In Quietness needed some comedic charm and Alley Scott delivers. Scott plays the quintessential Southern Belle that smiles through the vile she spews. There’s a tenacity to Terri that makes you love her and strive to stay on her good side. Scott is the perfect person to be the leader of the Stepford Zombies. In almost a cameo role, Rory Kulz as Dusty defies the image of what you thought Dusty would be. Moench has Beth set Dusty up as this monster and Kulz’s Dusty is anything but. Is he suited for marriage? Likely not but Kulz manages to bring a bit of shock to the stage through his take on the character.
photo by Christopher Genovese
Guiding this play was Danya Taymor. Taymor’s direction was solid when it came to focusing on the characters and their relationships to the world and one another. With a fluid staging, there was little dead space between beats. By having a unified connection with lights and sound, sound designer Asa Wember and lighting designers Masha Tsimring and Caitlin Smith Rapoport brought a take charge approach to the movement of the story. The lighting duo created some stunning stage pictures through light, especially in the night scenes. Wember’s quick percussive sound was exactly what the play needed. And Wember gets a win for the preshow song selection of Southern inspired country and gospel including Marin Morris’ “My Church”. On point? Yes. But that’s what made it work. With the lights and sound being so strong, there had to be one caveat. And that came in the form of the scenic design by Kristen Robinson. Here’s the struggle. As you walk into Walkerspace, you see this church-like set with a window to the heavens and a warm circular light cast centerstage. It’s an ominously hopeful picture. But when the lights truly rise to full, the true nature of the set is revealed. Yes, the house the characters live in is supposed to be unfinished but it didn’t read that way. It set read as seemingly untreated. And it’s unfortunate. While the construction of the set may also have been a bit wonky, the aesthetic felt unintentionally unfinished. Moench’s script makes reference to a field trip to Ikea by Pau and Terri. It’s a cute scene. And it makes sense that nearly all of the limited furniture used is Ikea items. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, I suppose. Especialy when you recognize the white chairs from your own home.
Anna Moench and Dutch Kills Theater have potential on their hands. This play could be powerful. But it just didn’t reach the great expectations. There were many missed moments in execution. Nevertheless, In Quietness is a play to keep on your radar.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spotlight On...Katrina Rose Dideriksen

Name: Katrina Rose Dideriksen

Hometown: Durham, NC

Education: NYU - vocal performance



Select Credits: Hairspray (1st Nat'l Tour/Broadway, Tracy Standby); Hairspray (Vegas, Tracy Turnblad); Jerry Springer the Opera (Carnegie Hall, Shawntel); A Night with Janis (Janis standby/Joplinaire swing); RENT (Off-Bway, Female swing); Bloodsong of Love (Off-Bway) 



Why theater?: I like a story. Music was always a part of my life growing up and so I knew I wanted to do something with it, but it wasn't until I was looking at colleges that I decided to focus on music theatre and the idea of telling a story through these characters became interesting.


Who do you play in Rock and Roll Refugee?: Genya Ravan



Tell us about Rock and Roll Refugee: Rock and Roll Refugee follows the story of Genyusha Zelkovicz (later given the name Goldie and then calling herself Genya), an immigrant from Poland, who escapes the Nazi Holocaust with her family to live in NYC's lower east side and eventually, after overcoming many hardships, breaks out with the first successful all-girl band, becoming a rock and roll star. 


What is it like being a part of Rock and Roll Refugee?: I've been working on the project for just over a year and it's tough, but awesome to be a part of a show while it's still being figured out-- we make changes everyday, trying to find the best way to tell this story. It's totally intimidating to be telling the story of someone who is actually still alive! When Genya saw me for the first time, I was so nervous about what she would think, but I think I did alright.



What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I consider myself a singer first so I would say I am strongly inspired by the music of Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse.. apparently a lot of tortured souls with addiction issues. Ha. Adele is pretty spectacular and still living, so there's one! I have also always been hugely inspired by my Uncle, Jim Watson-- He's an amazing bluegrass musician, an original member of The Red Clay Ramblers who had their own off-Broadway show in 1975 called Diamond Studs and a member of Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group. He has introduced me to some amazing music over the years and inspired me to keep going after my singing career even when things get tough.



Any roles you’re dying to play?: For a long time, I was dying to play Elphaba & I still certainly wouldn't mind going green. Growing up I was obsessed with Into The Woods and would happily play the Witch or the Bakers Wife since I think I am finally too old to be Little Red. Other than that, I love the mother in Next to Normal, but working on new pieces is one of my favorite challenges. 



What’s your favorite showtune?: I don't know if its my top favorite, but I remember totally succumbing to the "music theatre student" stereotype singing the opening of Songs For A New World with my friends in college. 



If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd love to work with Neil Patrick Harris -- He's so talented and seems like he would be a great cast mate. 



Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Jennifer Lawrence and I are like.. twins, clearly, so I think she would be perfect. "Katrina (Not the Hurricane)" 



If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Into the Woods original cast

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Fun Home. 


What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Bourbon and Brunch. But I don't feel one bit of guilt about either. 



What’s up next?: I'm excited about a four concert series with a group I have performed & recorded with for a LONG time, Joe Iconis & Family. Check us out at 54 Below April 3,10, 17th & May 9th! (plug plug plug).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Spotlight On...Emma Rosa Went

photo by Matthew Pandolfe
Name: Emma Rosa Went

Hometown: Cambria, California

Education: BA Sarah Lawrence College

Favorite Credits: Love's Labors Lost, Hearts of Gold (from Henry IV)  and The Changeling for Easy Leap Theatre Company, but that time I assisted Much Ado About Nothing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was also pretty cool.

Why theater?: Because I was born too late to be a pirate captain. Or just a regular ship's captain in the British navy or something, you feel me. It's not about the bloodshed, it's about the ship thing. Really because I'm obsessed with language, which is why I gravitate toward heightened-language plays of one kind or another. Because I live in a world evolving toward efficiency and deconstruction, not just in the theatre but in loads of aspects of society, and I want to fight for beauty of expression, and depth and texture, as well as economy. I just love words, man. What kind of original, expressive, urgent language is happening in the work, that's what matters to me.

Tell us about Boxcar: Boxcar is everything that you want a really good novel to be in many ways, or a really good dream. It takes over your visual imagination, because if you picture a train rattling through an empty American desert in a sunset-- that's what the play looks and feels like. It has the confidence of an old-school American folk song, and a similar sort of rough-and-tumble quality, but an incredibly intimate tenderness, because it's about poets. Artistic people who have sought out this storybook, mythic vastness in order to lose themselves, and then maybe find themselves again, we'll see. It's a fable, really. But it's also a very grounded, modern love story about desire, and identity, and pain. And there's some rap and some silliness and some sexiness. It's what you wanted to run away to when you were staring out your window in math class, and then what it turned out to really be like when you got there. All good adventures end with some kind of bittersweetness or regret, the kind that comes from greater self-knowledge.

What inspired you to direct Boxcar: Well, my partner wrote an incredible play, basically. They first completed it a couple of years ago, so it's had a long presence in our lives, and has been through a number of readings with myself and other directors and artistic voices contributing a lot to its development. I haven't worked on a new play for a year or two and when Corbin and our producer Daniella were first putting their ducks in a row for this last June, I was actually in Colorado working on Othello. When Corbin finally suggested that I do it, they made me interview over the phone. If you've never conference-call interviewed over the phone for your own spouse, it is a hysterical experience. We only hesitated because I am so close to the work and there is essentially so much of me already in it, but it was clear in the first week around the table that I could never have let it out of my sight on the first production.

What kind of theatre speaks to you? Who or what inspires you as an artist?: BIG, risky, hopeful theatre. I like stories where something HAPPENS, writing that is brave enough to complete the gesture, that wants to go all the way from stasis to catastrophe to redemption and back again-- that's why we love Shakespeare so much, it's a ritual of deep feeling, and a visceral boxing arena-- and even when it's not explosive, even when it's quiet, it's writing that takes you all the way to the edge. Guts and audacity really are what inspire me. And remember, hope is risky, love is risky, but we often have to earn them by going through hell first, and the fact that the whole arc happens in about 100 minutes is what makes it good theatre. I like new plays that are as messy as Shakespeare, that aren't afraid. Courage, athleticism, wit, people and projects who know how to use those tools. I've been lucky enough to work for and train a little bit with Lisa Wolpe, who is a seriously gnarly Shakespeare artist who inspires me. Many of my peers just shock me with the quality of their work, Matt Minnicino is one who I've been stunned to collaborate with many times and that dude really knows how to mess with language and is not afraid of his own sentimentality, which I admire, so watch his stuff wherever you can. Even spending a couple of months working under/near Bill Rauch at OSF is enough make you realize that the most important quality you can have as a director is kindness. And Hamilton, I know everyone says it-- that doesn't make it less great.

If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?: Lin Manuel Miranda, in a project called me getting coffee with Lin Manuel Miranda. Also like, many many actors and writers who I think are geniuses, who will be hearing from me as soon as I have any money or power at all.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Changeling, at Red Bull Theatre because I think that play is crazy but also because I really admire Jesse Berger's work and have followed his career very closely as long as I've been in New York.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: In an ideal world, young Helena Bonham Carter or Carey Mulligan in some sort of terse, moody period piece where I can anachronistically wear suits, but in reality, probably Lena Dunham in a film called "Make this Kid Stop Talking Please."

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Original production of Romeo and Juliet, hands down. I want to be there the first second they realize it isn't a comedy.

What's your biggest guilty pleasure?: Delusions of grandeur. Cigarettes.

If you weren't working in the theatre, you would be_____?: English teacher maybe, poet/writer I suppose. The thing about being a director, is that it's halfway between English teacher and ship's captain. It's my sweet spot.

What's up next?: Stay tuned...

For more on Boxcar, visit www.thetanknyc.org. For more on Emma, visit www.emmawent.com

Blog Hijack: Survivor-Big Brother NYC Meet & Greet in Support of the Arthritis Foundation

We have a very special Blog Hijack with the help of our sister site Reality Ace! Meg Maley, one of the stars of Big Brother 17, is here to share information about her NYC Meet & Greet in support of the Arthritis Foundation. The event will feature a mix of Survivor and Big Brother contestants including Survivor: San Juan Del Sur and Broadway stars Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly! 



On January 30th, Big Brother meets Survivor in NYC! Meg Maley and Andrea Boehlke are teaming up to throw a Meet and Greet for fans in Manhattan in support of The Arthritis Foundation. Join us in the afternoon from 2-4pm for a family-friendly meet and greet where autographs and pictures are more than welcome (kids under 16 free)!  We invite you to come party with the cast from 7-10pm at the Public House, with drink specials all night ($4 beer, $5 wine, and 6$ well drinks!). WHO will be attending?! Guests will be announced as we confirm up until the event..but don't worry we got some fab people lined up for you!!

Yotel: 570 10th Ave New York, NY 10036 | Public House: 140 East 41st Street New York, NY 10017

Proceeds and donations will be going to the Arthritis Foundation, leading the fight for the arthritis community. With more than 50 million Americans with arthritis, and 300,000 of them children, the arthritis foundation works to not only find better treatments and a cure but also to provide resources, access to optimal care, and a way to connect with others.

"I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in the sixth grade, and it's been a battle I've dealt with ever since. Arthritis affects my day to day life - some days it is painful to walk or even open a jar, but thankfully, with new medicines always evolving, I do have good days, too! People often don't think of young people with arthritis - but it is all too real in all ages...not just grandmas!" - Meg Maley

For an exclusive interview with Rob Cesternino about the event, visit robhasawebsite.com.

For tickets, visit EventBrite. To donate to Meg and Andrea's Walk to Cure Arthritis campaign, visit walktocurearthritis.org