Monday, August 31, 2009

Best of the NY Fringe Festival

By Lauren Yarger
Mix together more than 200 shows in 18 venues over three weeks and you have the New York International Fringe Festival.

Of the total package, I reviewed 24 shows and awarded fringe “tassels” from 1 to 5 based on overall quality of the production. Following is a wrap-up of the top five I saw. You’ll be seeing these shows or hearing from these playwrights again. They’re that good.

Check here to see which shows have been selected to play encores in September. To read reviews with an added Christian perspective of all 24 shows I saw, go to http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/, scroll down on the left side of the page and click on “NY Fringe Festival 2009 Reviews.”

Memoirs Wrapped in Love and Forgiveness

Show: White Horses: An Irish Childhood
Presented by: Breaking Tide
Writer: Owen Dara
Director: Elizabeth Duck & Dan Toscano
Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4.5 of 5

Summary:
A sweet, sad and inspiring memoir of growing up in Ireland. Owen Dara uses humor, song and love to paint a picture of his boyhood in Cork, Ireland with a devout Catholic mother and a father who battles depression.
Dara spends content and happy younger years watching his father create pottery which he sells to tourists to support the family. He thrills his mother when he announces plans to enter the priesthood. All these dreams are shattered by a fallible priest and by his father loss of the pottery business and descent into depression which forces the family to live in poverty, first in rented accommodations, then in a run down home given to them by his wealthy maternal grandfather.

As a teen, Dara rebels against the upper-class snobbery of his mother’s family and drops out of school. Years of travelling can’t put distance between him and the anger he feels for his father, and it’s only when, fighting his own depression, he returns to express his feelings to his father, that he finds peace through forgiveness.

Dara is a wonderful storyteller, playing the various roles of his parents, a school mate, the priest and himself. He draws the audience in and touches them deeply with the tales. It’s very encouraging to see an author’s view of family dysfunction filtered by love, rather than by the anger and pain it causes. The show is derived from Dara’s book of memoires “White Horses: An Irish Childhood.” The white horses refer to a story his father told him about herds of white horses forming the white caps on ocean waves.

Highlights:
• Just the right blend of humor to balance the sadder parts
• The song he writes for his dad
• Would love to see an Off-Broadway run with a song added at the beginning and a book signing following

Lowlights:
• None

Christians might also like to know:
• Lord’s name taken in vain

Juggling Love, Careers and Womanhood

Show: And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes
Presented by: DRD Productions
Writer: Harrison David Rivers
Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4.5 of 5

Summary:
A really compelling triplet of monologues by Melissa Joyner, Rory Lipede and Jehan O. Young who discuss trying to balance careers, finding their identities as women and negotiating romantic relationships that often try to interfere with both.

Young grows her hair long in what she discovers is an attempt to keep a guy; Joyner must give up a relationship when he wants her to forgo an acting career in New York to be a good wife in Memphis; and Lipede finds herself the cruel victim of a bet by the popular guy on campus.

Highlights:
• The three women are great. They’re honest, funny and inspiring and make you think they’d be a lot of fun to hang out with.
• Their dialogue, written by Harrison David Rivers and using much of theowmen's own stories, is engrossing and pulls you in and keeps you engaged throughout the 90-minute presentation. It's upbeat and definitely not a "man bash."

Lowlights:
•None. Take it Off-Broadway.

Christians might also like to know:
• Sex outside of marriage and date rape is included in the dialogue
• Language

The Most Fun You'll Have in Church Out of Church

Show: Sunday Best
Presented by: Azddak Performances Writer: Laura Canty-Samuel
Composer: Laura Canty-Samuel and Ethan Forrest Wagner
Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4 out of 5

Summary: Have you ever wanted to laugh in church? Here’s your chance, and you might actually spend time praising God too. It’s the well-done Sunday Best featuring the talents of author Laura Canty-Samuel who plays 10 characters taking part in a Sunday service at the fictional Mount Carmel Church and their corresponding wide range of idiosyncrasies and emotions.

She’s backed up by the church choir (Xavier Rice, Kimberly Crane and Fola Azali Vann) and musical director and co-composer Ethan Wagner and his praise band (Anthony Richardson, Darrell Ward and Mike Tucker).

The show (amusingly listed as an order of worship in the program) features toe-tapping, hand-clapping gospel music with some thoughts, prayers and sermons from the characters in between. Among the characters are Mother Lucy, a grandmotherly type, Evangelist Reese who shares a word from God, Sister Marisol who isn’t happy about her husband’s call to the ministry, Sister Eunice who is frustrated in her attempts to give testimony by the choir which keeps adding refrains to its song, Minister Roland with a rapping sermon about being a soldier, a 4-year-old Sister Denay and Sister LaShonda who balks at directives about what women should wear in church, like a ban on open-toe shoes.

“What’s a toe going to do?” she questions.

Canty-Samuel makes lightning-fast, full costume changes for each of the characters, including wigs and hats. She adds some humorous prayers for health care and Glenn Beck, some interaction with the audience and lots of great music (there’s a nice selection of sound styles) to offer one of the most-fun filled church services around. In all seriousness, the selection of songs leading into the monologues seemed better thought out than the praise songs leading into sermons I’ve experienced at some church services.

Highlights:
• “Ride on King Jesus” with terrific harmonies by the choir and a stand-out tenor solo by Rice
• “I’m a Soldier” with Minister Roland dividing the audience into two parts to sing “I’m a soldier, I’ma. I’ma soldier” and the responding “What?!” And they did it with unfeigned enthusiasm.
• With lyrics like “Jesus Christ has got your back; ain’t it nice to have a savior like that?” what’s not to like? I love when theater honors God.

Lowlights:
• It goes a bit too long (like some church services, dare I say?) at an hour and 30 minutes with no intermission. Some trimming, particularly of two songs focusing more on relationships between the characters and of the prolonged ending would form a tighter production.

Christians might also like to know:
• Booking information at azddak@gmail.com


Strangers on a Train Find They Have a Lot in Common

Show: Damon and Debra
Presented by: B Train Productions
Writer: Judy Chicurel
Director: Passion Hansome
Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4 out of 5

Summary:
Playwright Judy Chicurel has hit one out of the park at her first New York theater at bat with a fascinating interaction between two commuters stranded together on a subway train.

Damon (Julito McCullum) and Debra (Michelle H. Zanagara) find themselves stranded on a NY Subway B train shortly after the September 11 attacks and enter into a forced conversation as they wait for service to resume. What starts as two people apparently on different ends of the spectrum becomes a fascinating conversation between two people who have more in common than you’d think. He’s a young African American, a distrustful product of the foster care system who works as an orderly at a hospital and who carries a notebook to write down new vocabulary words; she’s a multiple-degreed bureaucrat, who’s feisty and bold – she breaks out a bottle of wine and a joint while waiting for the train to run -- who carries purchases from a high-end-store shopping trip.

Anything you’ve ever heard or thought about racism comes out at some point, often with good humor attached. This script contains some of the most raw, honest, funny and razor-sharp dialogue I have heard in a while. After finding common ground, they end up revealing some of their inner struggles. Debra, it turns out, just found out she has breast cancer, to which she just lost her mother. Damon dreams of living in peace in a house outside of the city where no one can find him (like they always could when he was in foster care). The exchange is natural and not forced as in so many “two-strangers-meet” plots and these two characters are extremely likable, thanks to the actors.

Highlights:
• Crisp realistic dialogue

Lowlights:
• It’s unlikely a B train would have only two people in a car at 3 pm (more plausible at 3 am). It’s also unlikely that so close to the attack on the WTC, these two would be so laid back and unconcerned about why the train was stopped. They do attempt to open the doors that exit onto the platform early on, but it never occurs to them to pass between train cars to find a conductor or other passengers?

Christians might also like to know:
• Lord’s name taken in vain
• Language
• Drug usage

Lessons Learned Following U2

Photo by Deborah Alexander

Show: I Will Follow
Presented by: Pennyfield Productions
Writer: Barri Tsavaris
Director: Steve Wargo
Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3.5 of 5

Summary:
Barri Tsavaris loves Bono and the band U2. No, she uber loves them. No, you don’t get it. She LOVES them, so much so that she camps out on the cold street overnight for a chance of seeing them at a television appearance, plans her wedding around their tour dates, spends rent money on concert tickets and risks losing her job to attend a taping.

She shares her escapades, which start in 1987 as she is preparing for her bat mitzvah, assisted by John Keabler and Melissa Center who play the various acquaintances, friends, family members and U2 fans along the way. She finally meets her idol then has to ask, “what now?”

It’s really a lot of fun, and it’s hard not to immensely like the effervescent Barri, who’s not afraid to laugh at herself and learn a few lessons on her life's road trip. Keabler and Center are very entertaining as well and excel as the groundskeeper at Bono’s Ireland home and an Italian groupie, respectively.

Highlights:
• Nice set by R. Allen Babcock
• Barri’s thoughtful reflections on being in the financial district on September 11, 2001 and her thought about being grateful for a bed after sleeping on the street.

Lowlights:
• None

Christians might also like to know:
• God’s name taken in vain
• Barri doesn’t believe God is real, but does talk to Bono God, who answers her.
• Horoscope

NY Fringe Festival Review: White Horses: An Irish Childhood


White Horses: An Irish Childhood
Presented by: Breaking Tide
Writer: Owen Dara
Director: Elizabeth Duck & Dan Toscano

Summary:
A sweet, sad and inspiring memoir of growing up in Ireland. Owen Dara uses humor, song and love to paint a picture of his boyhood in Cork, Ireland with a devout Catholic mother and a father who battles depression.

Dara spends content and happy younger years watching his father create pottery which he sells to tourists to support the family. He thrills his mother when he announces plans to enter the priesthood. All these dreams are shattered by a fallible priest and by his father loss of the pottery business and descent into depression which forces the family to live in poverty, first in rented accommodations, then in a run-down home given to them by his wealthy maternal grandfather.

As a teen, Dara rebels against the upper-class snobbery of his mother’s family and drops out of school. Years of travelling can’t put distance between him and the anger he feels for his father, and it’s only when, fighting his own depression, he returns to express his feelings to his father, that he finds peace through forgiveness.

Dara is a wonderful storyteller, playing the various roles of his parents, a school mate, the priest and himself. He draws the audience in and touches them deeply with the tales. It’s very encouraging to see an author’s view of family dysfunction filtered by love, rather than by the anger and pain it causes. The show is derived from Dara’s book of memoirs “White Horses: An Irish Childhood.” The white horses refer to a story his father told him about herds of white horses forming the white caps on ocean waves.

Highlights:
• Just the right blend of humor to balance the sadder parts
• The song he writes for his dad
• Would love to see an Off-Broadway run with a song added at the beginning and a book signing following (now I have to read the book)

Lowlights:
• None

Christians might also like to know:
• Lord’s name taken in vain

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4.5

VENUE #7: manhattan theatre source
The run has ended.

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Damon and Debra


Damon and Debra
Presented by: B Train Productions
Writer: Judy Chicurel
Director: Passion Hansome

Summary:
Playwright Judy Chicurel has hit one out of the park at her first New York theater at bat with a fascinating interaction between two commuters stranded together on a subway train.

Damon (Julito McCullum) and Debra (Michelle H. Zanagara) find themselves stranded on a NY Subway B train shortly after the September 11 attacks and enter into a forced conversation as they wait for service to resume. What starts as two people apparently on different ends of the spectrum becomes a fascinating conversation between two people who have more in common than you’d think. He’s a young African American, a distrustful product of the foster care system who works as an orderly at a hospital and who carries a notebook to write down new vocabulary words; she’s a multiple-degreed bureaucrat, who’s feisty and bold – she breaks out a bottle of wine and a joint while waiting for the train to run -- who carries purchases from a high-end-store shopping trip.

Anything you’ve ever heard or thought about racism comes out at some point, often with good humor attached. This script contains some of the most raw, honest, funny and razor-sharp dialogue I have heard in a while. After finding common ground, they end up revealing some of their inner struggles. Debra, it turns out, just found out she has breast cancer, to which she just lost her mother. Damon dreams of living in peace in a house outside of the city where no one can find him (like they always could when he was in foster care). The exchange is natural and not forced as in so many “two-strangers-meet” plots and these two characters are extremely likable, thanks to the actors.

Highlights:
• Crisp realistic dialogue

Lowlights:
• It’s unlikely a B train would have only two people in a car at 3 pm (more plausible at 3 am). It’s also unlikely that so close to the attack on the WTC, these two would be so laid back and unconcerned about why the train was stopped. They do attempt to open the doors that exit onto the platform early on, but it never occurs to them to pass between train cars to find a conductor or other passengers?

Christians might also like to know:
• Lord’s name taken in vain
• Language
• Drug usage

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4.0
VENUE #15: The Studio at Cherry Lane
The run has ended.

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Look After You


Look After You
Presented by: Maieutic Theatre Works-MTWorks
Writer: Louise Flory
Director: Michele Pace

Summary:
Hannah (playwright Louise Flory), the recent victim of a brain aneurysm is recovering well physically, though some memory still hasn’t returned. Her boyfriend Jake (Jason Altman) helps with exercises, but sort f hopes she doesn’t regain one memory: his asking her to marry him. Overwhelmed by the fact that the aneurysm could re-occur and end any time they might have together, Jake isn’t sure what he wants.

Additional stress is added to their household with a visit from Hannah’s overbearing sister, Lucy (Adi Kurtchik), and by Jake’s best friend, Paul (Lowell Byers), reminding Hannah about the upcoming wedding she doesn’t remember.

Flory’s script stands out because it doesn’t study the illness, or how Hannah’s copes with it, but focuses instead on the relationships between the characters and how the aftermath of the illness affects them, often using humor to keep the tone from becoming too depressing. Paul is the least developed of the characters, but the other three have some depth which allows the actors to explore a range of emotions.

Hannah seems the least concerned with the future, including whether or not it includes a wedding. Coming near to death has given her confirmation about what she wants: a life with Jake, marriage or no. We feel for Jake as he grapples with emotions he doesn’t want to feel and we glimpse the depth of feeling Lucy has for her sister despite a self-absorbed lifestyle. How they “find their way back to their lives” is the crux of this thoughtful work.

Highlights:
• Script

Lowlights:
• Costumes for the women are very unflattering and out of date.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Couple lives together

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3

VENUE #16: The SoHo Playhouse
The run has ended.

--Lauren Yarger

Sunday, August 30, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Imagine


IMAGINE
Presented by: Imagine Project Inc
Writer: Children of Imagine Project workshops
Director: Bill Bartlett
Choreographer: Annie Faulkner

Summary:
A school-recital type of performance. A bunch of kids from the Imagine Project perform a play with nine acts of ideas and short scenes created by the students and set to prerecorded music and lyrics.

Cast members are Jessica Aitken, Brayxton, Elle Fried, Amani Lewis, Allesandra Licul, Nellie Licul, Skai Konya, Linda Rivasplata, Justin Spencer, Micahel Spencer, Kristopher Sweet and Emily Tajima.

Highlights:
• Kids having fun expressing themselves through the arts.

Lowlights:
• Hard to understand some of the kids.

Christians might also like to know:
• No notes

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 2.0

VENUE #2: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Flamboyan
The run has ended.

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: ARTIFEX: The Artistic Life of Emperor Nero


ARTIFEX. The Artistic Life of Emperor Nero
Presented by: The Artifex Company
Writer: Davide Ambrogi, Original Music by Davide Ambrogi
Director: Velia Viti

Summary:
Emperor Nero and his court take a psychological trip inside his artistic mind with the help of an Italian five-person troupe called Artifex. Allesandro DiSomma, Marco Zordan, Chiara Loriga, Daniele Grifoni and Davide Ambrogi use comedy, drama, dance and music to tell the “creative joys, fears, doubts and deepest anxieties the artist usually carries within himself. Escaping from Rome, after a long tour in Greece and aware of his imminent political fall, Nero asks his courtiers to stage what he feels are the most important episodes of his existence.”

Confession: without that description from the program, I wouldn’t have had any idea what I had been watching. It’s heavy on dialogue, some of which is hard to understand when delivered in heavily-accented English. Unless you're a real fan of Nero, it tends to be on the boring side.

Highlights:
• Only 50 minutes long

Lowlights
:
• The lone female seemed to spend a lot of time being groped and having her bottom slapped, but for some reason, when a female is needed, the role of Nero’s mother is played by one of the male members of the troupe (including a seductive kiss with Nero).

Christians might also like to know:
• Sexually seductive dialogue (OK, in truth, I’m guessing, because the dialogue to which I refer was in Italian, which I don’t speak, but some things need no translation….)

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 1

VENUE #14: The Cherry Lane Theatre
The run has ended.

--Lauren Yarger

Saturday, August 29, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: I Will Follow


I WILL FOLLOW
Presented by: Pennyfield Productions
Writer: Barri Tsavaris
Director: Steve Wargo

Summary:
Barri Tsavaris loves Bono and the band U2. No, she uber loves them. No, you don’t get it. She LOVES them, so much so that she camps out on the cold street overnight for a chance of seeing them at a television appearance, plans her wedding around their tour dates, spends rent money on concert tickets and risks losing her job to attend a taping.

She shares her escapades, which start in 1987 as she is preparing for her bat mitzvah, assisted by John Keabler and Melissa Center who play the various acquaintances, friends, family members and U2 fans along the way. She finally meets her idol then has to ask, “what now?”

It’s really a lot of fun, and it’s hard not to immensely like the effervescent Barri, who’s not afraid to laugh at herself and learn a few lessons on her life's road trip. Keabler and Center are very entertaining as well and excel as the groundskeeper at Bono’s Ireland home and an Italian groupie, respectively.

Highlights:
• Nice set by R. Allen Babcock
• Barri’s thoughtful reflections on being in the financial district on September 11, 2001 and her thought about being grateful for a bed after sleeping on the street.

Lowlights:
• None

Christians might also like to know:
• God’s name taken in vain
• Barri doesn’t believe God is real, but does talk to Bono God, who answers her.
• Horoscope

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3.5

VENUE #11: The Actors' Playhouse
The run has ended.

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: The Confessional


The Confessional
Presented by: The Cohort Theatre Company
Writer: Jayson Akridge
Director: Jayson Akridge and Gloria Dossett

Summary:
Mild-mannered high school social studies teacher Stanley Prentiss (Kevin Stidham) confesses to murdering his neighbor, but police can’t find a body and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence the woman ever existed and they think it must be a hoax.

Something about Prentiss gets under the skin of detective Bill Bryce (author and director Jason Akridge), however, who senses in the suspect the same evil he recognized in a serial killer named Martin Hobbs whom he tracked and captured. What’s more, Prentiss claims to have committed Hobbs’ murders and knows details only the killer would know, leading Bryce to question whether he arrested the right man.

Meanwhile, Prentiss threatens Bryce’s love interest, Detective Carter Munroe (Kelly Levander) forcing Bryce to take action to stop Prentiss. He pursues the case and questions Sandra Beatty (Ashley Larsen), a teacher at the same school, who can’t believe he could have committed such a crime. In a game of cat and mouse, the question for everyone becomes, “what really is true.”

Akridge’s script plot is fairly decent and gives a number of nice twists, but is laden with clichés and false-sounding lines between Bryce and officer Troy Brown (Joe Levander). The interesting subject matter can’t overcome the rather wooden acting, either. There isn’t any chemistry between Bryce and Munroe, and no palpable tension between Bryce and Prentiss. Most of the lines sound like they are being read (actors don’t even look at each other sometimes while reciting the lines).

Highlights:
• Nice twists and exploration of evil

Lowlights:
• Noted above.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Bloody scalp prop
• Munroe leaves her husband to pursue a relationship with the already-divorced Bryce

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 2

VENUE #1: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Milagro
See it again Sat 29 @ 7 Sun 30 @ 2

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Camp Wanatachi: A New Musical


Camp Wanatachi: A New Musical
Presented by: Mercurial Productions
Writer: Book and Lyrics by Natalie Weiss, Music by Natalie Weiss, Conrad Winslow and Travis Stewart
Director: Natalie Weiss

Summary:
What could be a fun parody of Christian summer camps, or summer camps of any kind, for that matter, veers off instead to reveal itself as a sad statement devaluing teen girls as suicidal or unable to contain their lust.

Jana (Aleque Reid) and Lauren (Samantha Daniel) are supposed to be BFFs, but the high-heel and short-short-wearing slutty Titi (Biet Simpkin) has a thing for Jana and keeps interfering. Titi comes on to the trying-so-very-hard-to-be-a-Christian Jana when she’s not having fun making life miserable for outsider Daisy (Amy Gironda) who sings a song about various ways she can commit suicide because she’s unhappy at the camp.

Meanwhile, director Corky (author Natalie Weiss) has the hots for Joel (Jonathon Roberts), but he’s been participating in a “True Love Waits” rally and has an accountability partner, so she’s not getting anywhere. Running around the camp are a couple of black-clad “hobos” (Jenny Lee Mitchell and Greg Couba, who also sports studs and nipple rings) very upset about walkie talkies for some reason.

The Fringe performance apparently is comprised of snippets from a full two-act musical of the same name. The snippets are enough to tell me that I have no desire to see more. The thrust of the satire seems to come from an edge dulled by arrogance, stereotype and a desire to cause injury instead of from a rapier wit sharpened by an intimate understanding of the subject. It scores a foul, rather than a touché.

The music, as described in the promotional material for the show, is “nostalgic” “super futuristic” with “sick beats.” I would describe it more as harsh, dissonant, cacophonic and really hard on the ear.

Highlights:

•More musicans than your typical fringe show.

Lowlights:
• Sexually suggestive dialogue and lyrics
• Homosexuality
• Scantily-clad campers
• Language
• Corky gives her “testimony” at chapel including using the “F” word, saying she was stoned and explaining that God dropped a SP404 music playing device on her doorstep and threw a copy of >Ere Christianity” through her roof.
• Suicidal Daisy sings that she “had a talk with God” who told her that her parents should bring her home or he would bring her to his.

Christians might also like to know:• Language

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 1
VENUE #3: Dixon Place
See it again Sat 29 @ 3:15

--Lauren Yarger

Friday, August 28, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Just Don't Touch Me, Amigo


Just Don't Touch Me, Amigo
Presented by
: Fernando Gambaroni
Writer: Fernando Gambaroni
Director: Jose Zayas

Summary:
Pedro (Fernando Gambaroni) is newly arrived from Buenos Aires in New York and looks for a place to live, a job, a chance to be famous and friends. Gambaroni, the author, also plays the parts of people he meets along the way: a secretary who helps him get an interview and a date (he plays David, the date too), the Hispanic guy who interviews him and a religious fanatic with mental issues riding the subway.

Each of the interactions reveals how people aren’t all that willing to help or befriend him. They especially don’t want him to touch them. Pedro isn’t comfortable with revealing his ethnicity or speaking Spanish.

“People like to create a whole picture with only a fraction of the information,” he explains.

He shares his experiences through telephone conversations with Pepito at home. He eventually seems to morph into a different person, having joined some sort of church. He heads off to work (at a job he incredulously gets after getting into a fight with the interviewer) and tells Pepito he has discovered that his homosexual lifestyle was a choice he made to anger his parents.

Highlights:
• Pedro’s ending reflections on being lonely and deciding not to turn bitter
• Gambaroni does a nice job creating the various characters.

Lowlights:
Hum in the AC unit of the building

Christians might also like to know:
• Homosexuality
• Language

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 2.0

VENUE #7: manhattan theatre source
The run has ended

NY Fringe Festival Review: Flight


Flight
Presented by: NO HOPE Productions
Writer: Tim Aumiller
Director: Tim Aumiller

Summary:
Two people stranded at O’Hare Airport during Thanksgiving travels strike up an unlikely and revealing conversation. Paula (Brandy Burre) isn’t in the mood to talk. She’s having relationship problems and hasn’t been able to reach her partner and asks the friendly Hank (Todd Lawson) to leave her alone.

Despite her protests about not wanting to talk, Paula gabs on and on. She tells him she’s a lesbian, that she’s pregnant, that she’s dealing with rage, that her partner wasn’t happy about her sleeping with a man, that she found she really liked sleeping with the man…. My mind wandered – severely -- throughout the play, which lasts only 50 minutes. My favorite part was when Paula barked, “OK, please shut up,” to Hank, who thus far had muttered only a few words of kindness.

Why would anyone continue to try to make conversation with this officious, unpleasant woman? Aah, the airport is packed and there are no seats available, we’re told. A vacant seat between them where Hank has hoisted his bag is available, however, and having been stranded in O’Hare airport, I can tell you that someone would have asked him to remove it so they could sit and voila!, no more conversation needed. In addition, the pregnant Paula could have asked a seated gentleman somewhere else to switch with her because Hank was bothering her. Voila! No more conversation needed. I would even have opted to go somewhere else and sit on the floor or my suitcase to get away from this woman. But then we wouldn’t have a play.

Hank persists, apparently, because she reminds him of a love he lost in youth. And by the way, he asks her, what do women do together sexually? Maybe he’s not what he appears and there’s something more sinister at play? We never really know.

Highlights:
• Only 50 minutes

Lowlights:
• Above

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Homosexuality
• Sexually suggestive dialogue

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 1.0
VENUE #15: The Studio at Cherry Lane
The run has ended

Thursday, August 27, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Viral


VIRAL
Presented by: Gideon Productions, LLC
Writer: Mac Rogers
Director: Jordana Williams

Summary:
There’s a fine line between love and hate, and I found it with Viral.

There is a lot not to like in Mac Rogers’ play about a group of sick whackos who want to film a woman’s suicide because they get aroused sexually by watching a person’s last minutes.

Colin (Kent Meister) and his girlfriend Geena (Rebecca Comtois) have set up a website with veiled information about assisting someone who wants to commit suicide. After months of waiting, they get a hit from Meredith (a really terrific Amy Lynn Stewart) and she agrees to come to the couple’s ratty apartment to die on camera (while they watch by remote video while having sex). Geena’s brother, Jarvis (Matthew Trumbull), who lives with the couple and who shares their sexual inclination, can score the pills that will put her to sleep quickly and painlessly.

Colin has a vision for an elegant film and hopes sleazy film industry acquaintance Snow (Jonathan Pereira) will distribute the film as a service to others with the same death watching fetish can enjoy it. Snuff films are available, of course, but this is different, the three insist. “Those people are animals!” they agree, differentiating.

What Colin didn’t envision is that Meredith and Geena would hit it off and that the woman who has given up on life would give the woman he abuses and degrades new strength to take control of her life. Meanwhile, Jarvis, who goes off to masturbate as often as others take smoking breaks, is turned on by a living Meredith practicing taking her pills.

The play enraged me for its total lack of respect for life and decency. The threesome talks about an “exit strategy” for the body while Meredith sits in the room. Colin cautions Geena about becoming too friendly with Meredith because he doesn’t want her to give her “any reason to stay alive.” When Meredith has a moment of hesitation about going through with it, Colin physically blocks her exit because she represents only a film opportunity and money to him.

In fact, no one ever asks meredith why she has come to the point of feeling life isn’t worth living. In a moving monologue, Meredith does share some of her despair, and Geena defends her right to choose not to commit suicide, but no one ever offers any hope or help.

I wanted to run up there and hug Meredith and tell her she’s precious and so is her life and that no matter how many times she had failed, there always is hope in Christ. I wanted to slap Geena and tell her to stand up for herself and get away from the abusive boyfriend who was turning her brain to jelly. I wanted to tell Colin that he was a sick wimp and I wanted to tell Jarvis that if he used his hands for something more constructive, for once, like a job, he could stop depending on his sister to support him.

And then I realized what a good play this is despite my hatred of its disgusting subject matter. These characters had become like real people to me, and isn’t that a mark of good theater? So I loved the writer's ability in spite of myself.

Highlights:
•Stewart's full-ranging interpretation of the character

Lowlights:
•Really not fun subject matter

Christians might also like to know:
Besides all of the stuff mentioned above…
• Lord’s name taken in vain

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3.0
VENUE #16: The SoHo Playhouse
The run has ended

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes


And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes
Presented by: DRD Productions
Writer: Harrison David Rivers

Summary:
A really compelling triplet of monologues by Melissa Joyner, Rory Lipede and Jehan O. Young who discuss trying to balance careers, finding their identities as women and negotiating romantic relationships that often try to interfere with both.

Young grows her hair long in what she discovers is an attempt to keep a guy; Joyner must give up a relationship when he wants her to forgo an acting career in New York to be a good wife in Memphis; and Lipede finds herself the cruel victim of a bet by the popular guy on campus.

Highlights:
• The three women are great. They’re honest, funny and inspiring and make you think they’d be a lot of fun to hang out with.
• Their dialogue, written by Harrison David Rivers and using much of theowmen's own stories, is engrossing and pulls you in and keeps you engaged throughout the 90-minute presentation. It's upbeat and definitely not a "man bash."

Lowlights:
•None. Take it Off-Broadway.

Christians might also like to know:
• Sex outside of marriage and date rape is included in the dialogue
• Language

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4.5
VENUE #18: HERE Arts Center - Dorothy B. Williams Theater
See it again Thu 27 @ 9:30

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Series 6.2: Paint on Canvas


Series 6.2: Paint on Canvas
Presented by: HumanWell Productions
Writer: Becca Hackett and Katherine Randle
Director: Ilana Becker

Summary:
Did you ever meet one of those people who talks on and on about herself because she thinks her story is so unique and interesting?

Well, multiply that by two, while Becca Hackett and Katherine Randle brush, throw and roll paint on a canvas on the floor (and sometimes each other) while telling you about their relationships with guys, what they think about following rules, what horoscope sign they are, how they helped a friend who died from cancer, how they want to “dance to the heartbeat of the world and laugh, because there’s nothing worth crying about” or that they want to “human well” and you’ve got Series 6.2: Paint on Canvas.

“Here’s looking at ourselves,” the women announce at the end, “this is how we see the world ... ourselves.” Audience members were invited to view the finished work, containing a lot of lines, squiggles, depictions and shapes displayed on the stage

This show is like a piece of abstract art coming to life. I stood back, put finger to chin and said, “Hmmmn. I don’t get it.”

Highlights:
• Three mirrors suspended from the ceiling allow you to see the creation a little better.
Lowlights:
• Stated in summary

Christians might also like to know:• Language
• “Do you believe in God?” on asks the other? “She’ll be there, whether I do or not,” is the reply.

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 1

VENUE #17: HERE Arts Center - Mainstage Theater
See it again Fri 28 @ 4:30 Fri 28 @ 7 Sat 29 @ 2:30

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Shelf Life


Shelf Life
Presented by: The Arcade
Writer: Molly Goforth
Director: JV Mercanti

Summary:
Staying with the one you love despite her memory loss; putting on a gruff exterior to hide the pain you feel after losing the love of your life; finding compassion to help other cope: all complex emotions, but who would have thought they would be happening inside your refrigerator?

That’s the premise of Molly Goforth’s play Shelf Life, where things just might not be as quiet as you think when the light goes out and the door shuts. A bottle of ketchup (I think) named Hi (Eric Loscheider) and a jar of grape jelly named Sweetie (Teresa Stephenson) are an item, but Sweetie gets taken “out there” more than Hi. He asks each time she returns what it’s like, but she just replies “bright and boring” and lately, she seems to be remembering less and less.

Meanwhile, Hi defends Sweetie’s honor when an offensive and gruff refrigerator mate named Clovis (I’m guessing he’s horseradish or garlic paste — we never really know) and his cronies start throwing insults. The British-accented Armand, (baking soda) who has been sitting over in the corner longer than anyone can remember, tries to befriend him, as does French-accented Frieda (Katya Campbell, the best of all the condiments) who somehow has escaped the container where the rest of her family was lost (I think she’s a French fry, but until she described the terror of being boiled in oil, I thought she was Brie cheese).

A newcomer, Tex (Clark Gookin) whom Sweetie and Hi knew “back home” (wherever that was -- the supermarket? the warehouse? the processing plant?) arrives and is taken out almost as often as Sweetie (he’s maybe barbecue or steak sauce? Honestly, I know and I don’t care). Together they seem to be losing more and more of their memories and of themselves which leads the others to fear for their shelf lives.

The play is an interesting idea “gone bad” in that it becomes too serious and we’re left wondering about too much.

Highlights:
• A great Abbott and Costello “who’s on first” scenario when Sweeties forgets having met Tex.
• Lighting (Chad. Jung) and sound (Daniel Neumann) to create the interior of a refrigerator and the simulation of the door opening and shutting.
• Direction by JV Mercanti
• I’ll never throw away a box of baking soda from the frige with quite the same lack of feeling.

Lowlights:
• Spending too much time trying to figure out which condiments they all were. Call me slow, but I spent quite a while thinking from the dialogue that Hi must be peanut butter, but couldn’t figure out why he would be in the refrigerator or red.
• Too long for the plot to develop. At the half hour mark, one of the characters asks “what is this place” and if you hadn’t read the program description about it being a refrigerator, I’m not sure you would have known either.

Christians might also like to know:• Lord’s name taken in vain
• Language
• Sexually suggestive dialogue

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 2

VENUE #2: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Flamboyan
Run has ended

--Lauren Yarger

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Sunday Best

The Most Fun You'll Have in Church Out of Church

Sunday Best
Presented by: Azddak Performances
Writer: Laura Canty-Samuel
Composer: Laura Canty-Samuel and Ethan Forrest Wagner

Summary: Have you ever wanted to laugh in church? Here’s your chance, and you might actually spend time praising God too. It’s the well-done “Sunday Best” featuring the talents of author Laura Canty-Samuel who plays 10 characters taking part in a Sunday service at the fictional Mount Carmel Church and their corresponding wide range of idiosyncrasies and emotions.

She’s backed up by the church choir (Xavier Rice, Kimberly Crane and Fola Azali Vann) and musical director and co-composer Ethan Wagner and his praise band (Anthony Richardson, Darrell Ward and Mike Tucker).

The show (amusingly listed as an order of worship in the program) features toe-tapping, hand-clapping gospel music with some thoughts, prayers and sermons from the characters in between. Among the characters are Mother Lucy, a grandmotherly type, Evangelist Reese who shares a word from God, Sister Marisol who isn’t happy about her husband’s call to the ministry, Sister Eunice who is frustrated in her attempts to give testimony by the choir which keeps adding refrains to its song, Minister Roland with a rapping sermon about being a soldier, a 4-year-old Sister Denay and Sister LaShonda who balks at directives about what women should wear in church, like a ban on open-toe shoes.

“What’s a toe going to do?” she questions.

Canty-Samuel makes lightning-fast, full costume changes for each of the characters, including wigs and hats. She adds some humorous prayers for health care and Glenn Beck, some interaction with the audience and lots of great music (there’s a nice selection of sound styles) to offer one of the most-fun filled church services around. In all seriousness, the selection of songs leading into the monologues seemed better thought out than the praise songs leading into sermons I’ve experienced at some church services.

Highlights:
• “Ride on King Jesus” with terrific harmonies by the choir and a stand-out tenor solo by Rice
• “I’m a Soldier” with Minister Roland dividing the audience into two parts to sing “I’m a soldier, I’ma. I’ma soldier” and the responding “What?!” And they did it with unfeigned enthusiasm.
• With lyrics like “Jesus Christ has got your back; ain’t it nice to have a savior like that?” what’s not to like? I love when theater honors God.

Lowlights:
• It goes a bit too long (like some church services, dare I say?) at an hour and 30 minutes with no intermission. Some trimming, particularly of two songs focusing more on relationships between the characters and of the prolonged ending would form a tighter production.

Christians might also like to know:
• Booking information at azddak@gmail.com

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 4.0

VENUE #3: Dixon Place
See it again Fri 28 @ 6

--Lauren Yarger


NY Fringe Festival Review: Looming the Memory


The threads of Memories, Family Weave Together

Looming the Memory
Presented by: Thomas Papathanassiou
Writer: Thomas Papathanassiou
Director: John Saunders

Summary:
The story, in pantomime and words, of Papathanassiou’s return to a village in Greece where he had been raised for a portion of his childhood by his grandparents.

Feeling torn between two countries and feeling no sense of belonging in either (he's from Australia), Papathanassiou learns the story of his grandmother’s sister, Alexandra, and the circumstances that caused her to take her own life by walking into the nearby lake. The actor portrays all of the characters and a chicken. Threads of his memories and those of his relatives weave together to form the bonds of family, strong and durable, just like the rugs his grandmother creates on her loom.

Highlights:
• Papathanassiou creates very distinct characters, literally breathing them to life.
• Best human chicken you’ll ever see.

Lowlights:
• A loud roaring hum from the AC unit in the building

Christians might also like to know:
• Some of the villagers fear “the evil eye.”

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3.0

VENUE #7: manhattan theatre source
See it again Wed 26 @ 9:15 Fri 28 @ 7:15 Sat 29 @ 5

-- Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Testify


A Dance Recital Explores Emotions

Testify
Presented by
: ETCH Dance Co.
Choreographer: Elisha Clark Halpin

Summary:
A dance recital of sorts for students and recent grads affiliated with Etch Dance Co. in Central Pennsylvania. Artistic Director and choreographer Elisha Clark Halpin explores emotions expressed through dance in five numbers performed by Allison Alemi, Megan Moore, Caitlin Rogowski and Lauren Steinke (Halpin also performs).

Highlights:
• A moving dance performed by Moore to Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas.”
• 30 minutes long

Lowlights:
• The program blurb describes the performance as “Displacement in Darfur, unrequited love, warfare, devastation, compassion, & desire; Testify takes you there and everywhere in between.” I guess I was somewhere in between because even if I figured out the war and displacement themes (and yes, I did), I wouldn’t have known that number was about Darfur.

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 1.0

VENUE #6: The Robert Moss Theater
See it again Wed 26 @ 4:15 Thu 27 @ 5:45 Sat 29 @ 8:45 Sun 30 @ 3:30

-- Lauren Yarger

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Home is the Sailor, Home From Sea

Learning How to Say Goodbye

Home is the Sailor, Home From Sea
Presented by: WeThree Productions
Writer: Alex Coppola
Director: Alex Coppola

Summary:
Johnny (Blake Lowell), Sam (Alex Coppola) and Thom (David Morris), driving home from their friend Gus’ funeral hit a deer and try to figure out what to do. Should they drag it off, bury it along the roadside, leave it there, let a passerby (Spike McCue) take it away in his truck or bury it in Thom’s backyard while his parents are away? They opt for the latter, and get help form Thom’s sister, Kate (Janna Emig) and friend Leah (Suzi Sadler) who has a box of memorabilia she’d like to bury along with the animal.

The deer’s funeral with ensuing eulogies (the title comes from a Robert Louis Stephenson poem Thom incorporates) helps the friends come to grips with Gus’ suicide and saying goodbye.

Highlights:
• David Morris stands out as the entertaining Thom. Give this guy an Equity card.
• A very engaging script. I would have thought killing a deer and having its leg come off when the boys try to move it would have been somber, if not just gross, but author Alex Coppola’s gifted prose has you laughing in spite of yourself. The characters are engaging as well.
• Nice deer carcass prop.

Lowlights:
• Most of Sam’s dialogue is lost as Coppola mumbles in barely audible or inaudible tones. I found myself trying to piece together what he must have said based on responding dialogue from the other characters.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Dead deer carcass and bloody canvas on stage

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 2.5

VENUE #1: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Milagro
See it again Wed 26 @ 3 Fri 28 @ 7 Sat 29 @ 2:45

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour


The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour
Presented by: W. Kamau Bell
Writer: W. Kamau Bell

Summary:
Just because Americans elected a black president doesn’t mean racism isn’t still an issue. It’s still alive and comedian W. Kamau Bell challenges his audience to think through some recent stories, like the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Gates Jr. or objections to the appointment of Sonia Sotomayer to the Supreme Court to see underlying prejudice.

He offers some humorous segments on People Magazine’s sexiest man alive covers, which have featured a black man (actor Denzel Washington) only once and on stupid questions whites ask blacks, like “Can I touch your hair?” Bell pokes fun at himself and at blacks as well.

Highlights:
• He’s funny, and has insightful thoughts.
• His delivery is more from a common place than from one of attack.
Lowlights:
• Ironically, there are some across-the-board statements where Bell lumps people into categories like “all those who voted for McCain are scary racists.” Isn’t that the definition of prejudice?

Christians might also like to know:
• Language throughout

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3.0

VENUE #9: The Players Loft
See it again Sat 29 @ 5

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: All Over


The Road Traveled to Find Answers about the Road Traveled
All Over
Presented by: The Fugitives
Writer: Elizabeth Audley
Director: Jack Young

Summary:
In between jobs and desperately seeking meaning in her life, Elizabeth Audley decided to drive across the country in her car (named Timmy) to find it. She recounts places she visited and much of the self analysis she put herself through on the journey with some photos shown on video to break up the monologue.

Offering humorous observations punctuated with raw emotion, Audley finally realizes that she’s not having a good time on the endless drive, camping in various parks and finding that she likes herself less and less. Answers finally come when she realizes she needs to stop looking down the road for answers and to enjoy where she is now.

“Maybe the road less travelled isn’t traveled as much because it’s a bad road,” she quips. She’s filled with an overwhelming love for America and a desire to try to cross-country trip again

Highlights:
• Some fun humor
• Honesty in the questions she asks herself—and in the answers she gives

Lowlights:
• An annoying buzz in the speaker
• Would have preferred to see photos of the locations while she was talking about them instead of in between segments and as a collage at the end.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• God’s name taken in vain

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3.0

VENUE #11: The Actors' Playhouse
See it again Wed 26 @ 2

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Review: MoM A Rock Concert Musical


Desperate Housewives Meet American Idol

Presented by: 5 Mothers
Writer: Richard Caliban
Director: Richard Caliban

Summary:
Five mothers form a rock band for a school fundraiser and find that they like performing. That gig leads to a TV commercial and that leads to an agent and before they know it, they are on the road touring and trying to come to grips with sudden fame. Nancy (Jan Keitel) is a single mom, sort of the leader of the group. Melissa (a delightful Bekka Lindstrom), who fits right in to the rock star persona (and she looks like one too) wonders how she wasted so many years trying to be someone she’s not. Her relationships break down with her son, Brian, and her husband, especially when he sees her share a romantic kiss with Nancy, with whom she has just begun a lesbian relationship.

Ingrid (Dana McCoy) is high most of the time, trying to escape from the constrictions of being a good wife to a celebrity cellist. Southern Nell (Stefanie Seskin), who regrets that her husband has been her only sexual partner, fantasizes about cowboys and other men (she’ll go to bible study twice this week to make up for it, she says) and finally has an affair with one. Karen (Donna Jean Fogel) doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t want to be unfaithful to her husband, and has a hard time making the band first priority in her life.

The story of the women’s hopes and struggles are told mostly through songs, with each of the actresses playing a multitude of musical instruments.

Highlights:
• Caliban’s lyrics are clever and the band rocks out the place
• The music styles of the songs are varied
• All of the actresses bring depth and warmth to their characters

Lowlights:
• Kind of depressing. Maybe because I’m a middle aged mom and I can totally see some of my cohorts form the old PTA days touring as a rock band, I wanted to see them have fun, not have their lives fall apart.
• WAY too long at 2 hours with an intermission. Cut to 90 minutes with no intermission, the show would play better.
• The story involves way too much emphasis on sex.
• Some vocals are weak.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Homosexuality
• Sexually suggestive dialogue throughout

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 2

VENUE #2: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr.
See it again Sun 30 @ 12

--Lauren Yarger

Theater Review: The Bacchae

Bacchae in the Park is, Well … A Tragedy

By Lauren Yarger
Euripides is a strange choice for the Public Theater’s second offering this summer in Central Park. With strange jealous gods, debauchery and a lot of Greek tragedy, it’s not exactly a fun night at the theater. It’s also not easy to follow, even if you’re a Euripides scholar, which I’m not, but most of whom seem to agree that this play isn’t one of his best. And, it’s not written by Shakespeare.

Hence the conversations I overheard among audience-goers prior to the show: “Do you know what this is about?” “I’ve never heard of it.” “It wasn’t written by Shakespeare?” “Who is Euripides? “Never heard of him” “How do you pronounce it?” “Do you think it will be as good as Twelfth Night?”

After seeing Nicholas Rydall’s translation of the play, directed by Joanne Akalaitis with an original score by Philip Glass and starring Jonathan Groff of Spring Awakening fame as the god Dionysus who throws a fit because the people of Thebes aren’t worshiping him, I can at least answer the last two: it’s “bock eye” and No.

I’m not sure the other questions are answered satisfactorily, despite four pages of notes included in the playbill, telling us about Euripides and his times, a map of ancient Greece and a family tree for the royal house of Thebes. Except for Glass’ interestingly haunting score, a nifty metal stadium seating set under which some cool flames erupt, (John Conklin, set design), some very realistic thunder (Acme Sound Partners) and strong performances by Joan Macintosh as Agave, a mother tricked into brutally slaying her son, Pentheus (Anthony Mackie), the king of Thebes, and Steve Rishard, who gives a terrific, if brief, turn as a herdsman, there isn’t much here to make me a fan of Euripides.

At first, I even liked listening to and looking at the the all-female, culturally diverse chorus dressed in flames (Kaye Voyce, costumes)and dancing to the choreography of David Neumann. They went on too long, though, and if what they were singing was supposed to help the plot along, I think I missed most of it....

In other words, this production is interesting to hear and look at, but leaves you wondering why the Public would stage this play, not at all popular or known, when there are so many great ones out there (like the Oedipus trilogy – now there’s Greek tragedy I get excited about), all just waiting to come to life in the majestic setting of Central Park. It’s a tragedy all right.

The Bacchae runs through Aug. 30. For information, visit www.publictheater.org.

Christians also might like to know:
• Greek gods
• Ories described graphically, but not shown
• Blood soaked corps with visible parts; severed bloody head and blood on hands
• Don't be fooled by the "Cross Dressing in the Park" advertising. One of the characters dresses as a woman to disguise himself.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Jesus Ride


Promising Idea Ends Up on Cutting Room Floor

Jesus Ride
Presented by: Deux Ex Productions
Writer: Mike Schlitt
Director: Nancy Keystone

Summary:
100 years of Hollywood and 33 films starring Jesus as seen by Michael Schlitt, a former post-production manager at Sony.

What starts as a promising idea about looking at how Jesus is portrayed by the film industry morphs into a personal platform for a sermon about the hypocrisy of believers. triggered, apparently, by a personal negative experience Schlitt had while working on “The Revolutionary,” a virtual-experience film about Jesus produced by Trinity Broadcasting Network.

He shows some very brief clips from the films (there's a humorous clip of John Wayne as a Roman soldier) and talks about them a little, but is more interested in taking some jabs at TBN and believers in general (he might be shocked to find that all Christians don't behave hypocritically and don't all even watch TBN, which surprisingly, Schlitt tells us he watches a lot).

"People actually believe this stuff is real," he says as clips of a charismatic healing service are shown

A non-practicing Jew, who assures us many times during the program that he does not believe in God, Schlitt opines about how people “push back the darkness,” and portrays Christians as people who believe all Jews will go to hell and teach that Jews are bad because they killed Jesus. “No one knows what eternity looks like, but we all have to make it through the day,” he says.

What does all this have to do with Jesus and Hollywood? Some, to be sure, but not enough to justify an hour-and-20-minute diatribe. We’re left feeling like we didn’t see the show advertised. I had looked forward to Schlitt’s insights about the Jesus movies based on his expertise in the film industry, as well as his playwrighting and acting credits. Those were obscured by another agenda, however.

Highlights:
• There are some interesting facts about the film industry and a few amusing anecdotes.

Lowlights:
• Already expressed in the summary.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• A clip from a pornographic film about Jesus is shown

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 1

VENUE #18: HERE Arts Center - Dorothy B. Williams Theater
See it again Tue 25 @ 7:45 Sat 29 @ 3:15
--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Camp Super Friend

Camp is for Super Heroes, but Lessons are for Everyone

Presented by: Taproot Theatre Company
Writer: Bethany Wallace
Director: Josiah Wallace

Summary:
Super Hero Marvel (Solomon Davis) can speed read and retain information, but doesn’t know how to make friends when his father (Peter Nolte) drops him off at Camp Super Friend, where heroes with various powers are put through a course by Cosma (Laura Bannister) who challenges them to work as a team. Jet (also Nolte), who can move so quick you can’t see him and who has a plane on his shirt, is also a super bully who appears to have a lot of friends. Marvel decides to follow his example, but soon finds it doesn’t win him any friends.

A subplot involves a scheme by Professor Nemesis (also Bannister) and her henchwoman Una (Adrienne Littleton) to steal the heroes’ super powers. To thwart it, Jet, Marvel and the other campers have to join together (the cast is rounded out by Charissa Huff, playing some sort of bug super hero).

Highlights:
• A cute show for little kids which entertains as well as teaches important lessons about how to make friends and treat others. The kids in the audience often participated when prompted by responding verbally with lessons that had been taught earlier in the show. They got it.
• Adult audience members were laughing, probably more than the kids, at the silly, over-the-top humor. One scene involving the collection of chipmunk saliva caused me to laugh out long and hard. Very funny and well executed.
• All of the cast members sans Davis play multiple parts and do a good job of making some lightning-quick costume changes behind a colorful backdrop depicting cartoon scenes from camp life.
• The audience at the Saturday 2:15 performance deserves super hero awards. Never have I seen a more attentive and well-behaved audience of kids.

Lowlights:
•The bug hero is underdeveloped. Not sure what her powers were, exactly.

Christians might also like to know:
•Taproot Theatre Company was founded in 1976 by six college graduates from Seattle Pacific University. From its beginnings as a touring group, the company has become one of Seattle's largest mid-size theatre companies serving more than 150,000 people annually throughout the Pacific Northwest with a full Mainstage season, touring programs and Acting Studio. Taproot Theatre exists to create theatre that explores the beauty and questions of life while providing hope to our search for meaning. Visit them at http://www.blogger.com/www.taproottheatre.org.
Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3

VENUE #14: The Cherry Lane Theatre
Run has ended

--Lauren Yarger

NY Fringe Festival Review: Afterlight


Story Glows with Warmth

Presented by: Threads Theater Company
Writer: Monica Flory
Director: Misti Wills

Summary: Set in the “afterlight,” or twilight , this play is snippets of three couples’ lives, loosely connected by the recent death of a school bus driver.

Michael (Angus Hepburn) inexplicably hears sounds coming from under the living room floorboards and rips them up, much to the consternation of his wife, Louise (Kim Carlson). His behavior has been increasingly troubling, and the couple deals with that, as well as some repressed memories about the infant baby girl they lost 24 years ago.

Ann (Kimberly Prentice) awaits the birth of her second child and hopes its father, Hess (Frank Mihelich) will adopt Shane (Tyler Merna), her son by a previous relationship, after they marry. Hess can’t relate to the shy, intelligent boy, however. Meanwhile, Shane sees albino Monarch butterflies that no one else sees at his friend the school bus driver’s accident and later in his own bedroom when Ann almost loses the baby.

Dating teens Pru (Allyson Morgan) and Hunter (Davi Santos) meet in the graveyard, where they encounter a wolf. Hunter thinks the wolf is the spirit of the dead school bus driver. Pru thinks it’s the spirit of the father who abandoned her as a child. She sees butterfly larvae at the school bus driver’s funeral, where the couples finally interact (until this, each couple is featured one at a time, telling their stories on distinct portions of the stage). As the couples work through their relationships, wounds are healed.

Highlights:
• Hepburn as the humorously doddering, kind-hearted guy lurking beneath the guise of a curmudgeon in the making.
• Merna as the too-smart-for-his-age, but still young-enough-to-talk-back-and-whine kid which every parent in the audience recognized. He does a swell job for such a young actor.
• Director Misti Wills’ terrific use of a wading pool, a few boards, two benches and some fabric to create separate spaces for the couples on the same stage. Somehow, you’re sure that you see the whole room, not just a few props.
• Lighting and set design by Robby Bradley that creates twilight (there’s a lantern-like piece suspended on the stage which contains a glowing light reminding us of the timeframe), as well as general stage lighting that creates “afterlight” without leaving the audience in the dark as to what is happening on stage.

Lowlights:
• The characters and story are quite interesting (it was inspired by some surreal photographs), but I’d love to see the script developed further. We don’t know enough about these people, why they are doing some of the things they are doing and the ending comes too abruptly.
• The multi-purpose benches serve well until the funeral scene, where only one is used to simulate an open coffin. Both placed side-to-side would be more effective and would eliminate jokes from exiting audience members about how the school bus driver must have been a little person given the diminutive size of the coffin.

Christians might also like to know:
• Some otherworldly qualities to the script involving the wolf and butterflies
• Threads theater Company exists to tell stories that start inclusive conversations about faith and grew out of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. Visit them at www.thredstheatercompany.org.

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 3

VENUE #14: The Cherry Lane Theatre
See it again Tue 25 @ 5:45
--Lauren Yarger

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review: A Lifetime Burning

Christina Kirk as Tess and Jennifer Westfeldt
as Emma. Photo by James Leynse.


The Embers of Shared Past Smolder in this Study of Siblings
By Lauren Yarger
The same sense of “family” that gives comfort and belonging can morph suddenly into a base for pain and turning sisters into outcasts in playwright Cusi Cram's sibling study A Lifetime Burning playing Off-Broadway at Primary Stages.

Emma (Jennifer Westfeldt) has just published a book of memoires and her sister, Tess (Christina Kirk), is not exactly happy for her. The uptight divorcing mother of twins isn’t just a little jealous of the success awaiting her free-spirited, unreliable sister who has gone off her bipolar meds. She’s livid because Emma has fabricated a different life, including giving the family some “Inca” blood that doesn’t sit well with Tess, who knows their Irish roots all too well. The fictionalized memories are Emma’s way of giving a voice to the at-risk South American students she tutors and who can’t speak for themselves, the author argues. Journalist Tess disagrees and wants her sister to tell the truth.

A lot of drinking and bickering laced with tight, spit-fire repartee and clever turns of phrase from Cram, which keep the dialogue from becoming just a bunch of hurled insults and reminiscent of the last bad family gathering you attended, ensue, although some of the lines are delivered just a tad too quickly and lose full effect.

“I want an escape hatch from the nightmare of being related to you,” yells Tess, who has always resented the extra money Emma inherited from their father (he loved you more…) which allows her to live without a “real job” and to volunteer as a tutor. Emma tells Tess to stop being “buzzkill” referring to Tess’ bringing her down despite her attempts to remain high through constant alcohol consumption.

When Emma’s publisher, the suave and Chanel-coutured Lydia Freemantle (Isabel Keating, costumed by Theresa Squire)arrives, the conflict intensifies. Through flashbacks, nicely staged by director Pam MacKinnon, assisted by focused lighting by David Weiner, we learn about Emma’s romantic liaison with one of her young students, Alejandro (Raul Castillo), and the miscarriage that results. Alejandro is out of Emma’s life and Tess doesn’t want to go home, where her soon-to-be ex and her kids, who dislike her so much they have poisoned her dog, await. In the end, both alone, they find strength in their familial bond.

Keating stands out as the publisher who strokes, then discards Emma, all in a day’s work, looking out only for her own interests and profit. Also noteworthy, is the upscale apartment with designer furniture by Kris Stone.

A Lifetime Burning runs through Sept. 5 at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th Street, NYC. For tickets, call 212.279.4200.

Christians might also like to know:• God’s name taken in vain
• Language
• Sexually suggestive dialogue and action
• Sex outside of marriage


Review: Burn the Floor

Dancing with the Stars Meets Broadway
By Lauren Yarger
It’s Dancing with the Stars meets Broadway as Ricky Rojas and Rebecca Tapia of the famed television show headline a group of 20 dancers performing some of the most unrelenting demanding choreography you’ll see on Broadway this year in Burn the Floor at the Longacre Theatre.

The non-stop nirvana for fans of international style ballroom competition features direction and choreography by Jason Gilkison who intertwines cha-cha, tango, waltz, samba, rumba, quickstep, pop, boogie and, well, just about every form of dance known to man, with the musical renderings of a heavily percussion band conducted by Henry Soriano (set up left and right behind the performers on the stage). Gilkison uses the aisles and incorporates some gasp-inducing lifts and face-almost-touching the stage spins as well as some nice softer visual moments where instrumentalists are silhouetted upstage behind two dancing lovers (Rick Belzer, lighting design), for example.

There’s lots of flash: Janet Hine’s costumes are liberal in their display of sequins and billowing, twirling skirts for the women and a sleek and sexy, often black and white, wardrobe for the men. They are a show in themselves, especially in their detail. Each dress worn by a group of women for a number appears at first glance to be the same, but closer examination reveals subtle changes and detailing to make each frock unique.

That’s where the flash, stops, however, as there is an apparent lack of chemistry between the dancers. They execute their moves well, but the extra sexy quality of ballroom dancing, and particularly a connection between Rojas and Tapia, seems to be missing, despite the show’s mature rating (there is one sort of bondage number, but compared to much of what we’re seeing on theatrical stages these days, it’s pretty tame).

There’s no real plot to this musical – it began as a special request for a party being thrown by Sir Elton John and then someone said, “Hey, this should be a musical,” though some of the numbers do express contained storylines. We’re treated to vocals by Rojas and Tapia. The ensemble dancer teams, worked so hard that the 15-minute intermission hardly seems long enough to replenish the water they must lose in the first half (sweat flies visibly with each turn), boast numerous ballroom dancing credits and awards and come from a myriad of countries, through surprisingly, not from any of the Latin countries associated with many of the dances.

Burn the Floor has been extended through Jan. 6 at the Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th Street, NYC. For tickets, click here (and make sure you indicate that the charity you wish to support is Masterwork Productions by clicking on “religious” and then on our name).

Christians Might also like to know:
• Mature rating (the above-mentioned bondage-themed dance, but again, I’ve seen worse. None of the costumes even qualify for what I would call “scantily clad.” )

Theater Review: The Tin Pan Alley Rag

Joplin, Berlin Meet, but Past Gets in the Way
By Lauren Yarger
What would it have been like if Scott Joplin and Irving Berlin had met? That’s the question asked and answered by Mark Saltzman’s The Tin Pan Alley Rag, playing Off-Broadway at Roundabout Theatre Company.

Some 24 musical numbers, or parts of them, are presented in between and as backdrop for memories shared by the two men at a fictional meeting at Berlin’s New York publishing office, depicted amidst two pianos in the brown walled-office (Beowolf Boritt, set design) that provides a frame for scenes from the two men’s lives recalled and reflected during the meeting.

The play, directed by Stafford Arima, is set at the early part of the 20th century after the men both had achieved some commercial success in the music industry, but hadn’t met. Joplin (Michael Boatman), not in good health and hoping the more famous Berlin (Michael Therriault) will publish his opera Treemonisha, arrives at the office of Berlin and his partner Teddy Snyder (an engaging Michael McCormick ) and tries to pass himself off as a manager representing Joplin’s work. Berlin soon recognizes the talent at his piano, however, and the two men hit it off. They have a lot in common, it seems, including being “transposed” by falling in love, then tragically losing their wives, Dorothy (Jenny Fellner) and the Treemonisha-inspiring Freddie (Idara Victor), after short marriages.

Walls rotate and floods of brilliantly attired people (Jess Goldstein, costumes) dance around the stage (Liza, Gennaro, choreography) as moments are recalled and relived. The effect is to detract from the otherwise interesting meeting between the two music giants. Past scenes depicted upstage or off stage might have effectively communicated the past without obliterating the present scene. Too much time spent on the past stories and excerpts from Treemonisha leave us wanting more conversation and ragtime.

The Tin Pan Alley Rag runs through Sept. 6 at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th Street, NYC. For tickets, call (212) 719-1300. For group rates, click here (and make sure you indicate that the charity you wish to support is Masterwork Productions by clicking on “religious” and then on our name).
Christians might also like to know:
No notes. Acceptable for all ages.

Broadway Underground

See a writeup about the recent Broadway Underground presentation at http://christianperformers.blogspot.com/2009/08/review-broadway-underground.html

Friday, August 14, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Starts Today

I have 25 shows on my schedule for the NY Fringe Festival, a fun romp through "what's new out there" in the theater world.

My selections are based on which shows fit in my schedule, which have a worthwhile religious theme and those offerings for which I think it might be worth sitting in a confined unairconditioned sweat box (which some of the Fringe venues can be) to see while avoiding those that might cause me to wretch or sit gaping with my mouth open in horror or disgust (some of the Fringe shows are out there, to put it mildly.)

We'll post abbreviated reviews of the shows here beginning Aug. 23.
New York friends, if you would like to venture with me to some Fringe shows Aug. 24-Aug 30, let me know by email. Thanks to all of you who passed along suggestions. I couldn't schedle all of them, but some worked!
-- Lauren Yarger

Here are the shows I'll be seeing and some information about them:

Afterlight
Threads Theater Company
Writer: Monica Flory
Director: Misti Wills
Twilight. A flutter, quick and light. A wolf howls. An accident. Ordinary lives collide with the supernatural. Inspired by surrealist photography, Afterlight is the story of a small community clinging to hope amidst unsettling events.
1h 30m Local Manhattan, NY Drama
http://www.threadstheatercompany.org/
VENUE #14: The Cherry Lane Theatre
Fri 14 @ 7:15 Wed 19 @ 3 Thu 20 @ 7:15 Sat 22 @ 12 Tue 25 @ 5:45

Super Friend
Taproot Theatre Company
Writer: Bethany Wallace
Director: Josiah Wallace
Marvel is a super-hero, but doesn’t know how to be a super-friend…yet. At SuperCamp Professor Nemesis plans to strip super-kids of their powers. Marvel learns how to be a good friend and with his friends, saves the day
1h 0m National Seattle, WA FringeJR Comedy
http://www.taproottheatre.org/ /grades-k-through-six/ Share Show
VENUE #14: The Cherry Lane Theatre
Tue 18 @ 8:30 Wed 19 @ 5:15 Thu 20 @ 5:30 Fri 21 @ 7:15 Sat 22 @ 2:15

Jesus Ride
Deux Ex Productions
Writer: Mike Schlitt
Director: Nancy Keystone
Journey through the first 100 years of the Savior on the silver screen: 33 films about Jesus Christ and confessions of the secular humanist non-practicing Jew who watched every one. The 2006 Outstanding Solo Show winner returns with a FringeNYC World Premiere.
1h 20m National Los Angeles, CA Solo Show Comedy
http://www.mikeschlitt.com/
VENUE #18: HERE Arts Center - Dorothy B. Williams Theater
Sun 16 @ 7:45 Thu 20 @ 7:45 Sat 22 @ 5 Sat 22 @ 9:45 Tue 25 @ 7:45 Sat 29 @ 3:15

MoM - A Rock Concert Musical
5 Mothers
Writer: Richard Caliban
Director: Richard Caliban
Five suburban moms start a rock band just for laughs and inadvertently become a phenomenon. Man oh man do their lives change.
2h 0m Local Manhattan, NY Musical Comedy
www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=65426781220
VENUE #2: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Flamboyan
Fri 14 @ 9:30 Mon 17 @ 5:15 Sat 22 @ 6:15 Mon 24 @ 2:15 Sun 30 @ 12

all over.
The Fugitives
Writer: Elizabeth Audley
Director: Michael Page
She's gone to look for America. She still hasn't found what she's looking for. (You can't always get what you want.) Don't stop believin' - it's a beautiful day. A story about optimism, patriotism, and driving around.
1h 20m Local Brooklyn, NY Comedy Solo Show
http://www.allovershow.com/
VENUE #11: The Actors' Playhouse
Mon 17 @ 3:30 Mon 17 @ 7:30 Mon 24 @ 5:15 Mon 24 @ 9:30 Wed 26 @ 2

The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour
W. Kamau Bell
Writer: W. Kamau Bell
Black president or not, racism continues to make a comeback. And Kamau is here to make (non)sense of it all, using multi-media and personal stories. According to Comedy Central, Kamau told the very first Obama joke way back in 2005.
1h 15m National San Francisco, CA FringeHIGH Solo Show
www.wkamaubell.com/the-w-kamau-bell-curve/
VENUE #9: The Players Loft
Mon 17 @ 2:15 Fri 21 @ 8:30 Sat 22 @ 6:45 Sun 23 @ 10:30 Mon 24 @ 7:15 Sat 29 @ 5

Home is the Sailor, Home From Sea
WeThree Productions
Writer: Alex Coppola
Director: Alex Coppola
Shouldn’t you bury it? After hitting and killing a deer on the way home from the funeral of a friend, three young men are confronted with crushing pangs of guilt, questions of closure and the impossibility of saying goodbye.
1h 30m Local Manhattan, NY Drama Comedy
http://www.homeisthesailor.com/
VENUE #1: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Milagro
Sat 15 @ 12 Mon 24 @ 9:15 Wed 26 @ 3 Fri 28 @ 7 Sat 29 @ 2:45

Looming the Memory
Thomas Papathanassiou
Writer: Thomas Papathanassiou
Director: John Saunders
18 characters and a chicken! An award-winning theatrical memoir exploring one man's challenge growing up with his heart in two parts of the world, and how our family stories play an integral part in shaping who we are.
1h 10m International Perth, Australia Solo Show Drama
http://www.loomingthememory.com/
VENUE #7: manhattan theatre source
Sat 22 @ 12 Tue 25 @ 5 Wed 26 @ 9:15 Fri 28 @ 7:15 Sat 29 @ 5

Testify
ETCH Dance Co.
Choreographer: Elisha Clark Halpin
Displacement in Darfur, unrequited love, warfare, devastation, compassion, & desire; Testify takes you there and everywhere in between. Dancing the blues, women unleash the deep places of their hearts. Jagged and angular movements illustrate the physical embodiment of emotional truth.
0h 30m National State College, PA Dance FringeHIGH
http://www.etchdance.org/
VENUE #6: The Robert Moss Theater
Tue 25 @ 8:15 Wed 26 @ 4:15 Thu 27 @ 5:45 Sat 29 @ 8:45 Sun 30 @ 3:30

Sunday Best
Azddak Performances
Writer: Laura Canty-Samuel, Music by Laura Canty-Samuel and Ethan Forrest Wagner
Hallelujah! One woman, ten characters and a wicked romp through the devilishly funny minds of members of a Black Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn. Questions of faith, loss, and hat size abound amid irreverent “ridiculosity”, punctuated with live gospel music.
1h 30m Local Brooklyn, NY Solo Show Comedy
http://www.sundaybestplay.com/
VENUE #3: Dixon Place
Sat 15 @ 9 Sun 16 @ 1:30 Sat 22 @ 11:45 Tue 25 @ 10 Fri 28 @ 6

Shelf Life
The Arcade
Writer: Molly Goforth
Director: JV Mercanti
Beat the Heat: Come see the coolest show at FringeNYC! Shelf Life puts you in the middle of the drama unfolding behind the closed door of an ordinary refrigerator. You'll never look at your fridge in the same way again.
1h 25m Local Manhattan, NY Drama Comedy
http://www.arcadetheatre.info/
VENUE #2: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Flamboyan
Fri 14 @ 7:15 Sun 16 @ 1:30 Thu 20 @ 3:30 Sat 22 @ 4 Wed 26 @ 2

Series 6.2: Paint on Canvas
HumanWell Productions
Writer: Becca Hackett and Katherine Randle
Director: Ilana Becker
Armed with words and paint, two artists engage in a playful battle on a life-sized canvas. Tackling their greatest demons and joys, they bring new artwork to life with each unrestrained, paint slinging performance. Do YOU human well?
0h 35m Local Brooklyn, NY Performance Art
http://www.humanwellproductions.com/
VENUE #17: HERE Arts Center - Mainstage Theater
Sun 23 @ 9:15 Wed 26 @ 6:15 Fri 28 @ 4:30 Fri 28 @ 7 Sat 29 @ 2:30

And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes
DRD Productions
Writer: Harrison David Rivers
Director: Eric Louie & Anika Chapin
Post breakup, three women attempt to make sense of their lives. In recounting stories of weight gain, drunk dials, flying milk cartons, Facebook stalking, and hair growth, they explore the very nature of love, loss, and ultimately their own humanity.
1h 35m Local New York, NY Drama Comedy
http://www.shesaidhesaidyes.com/
VENUE #18: HERE Arts Center - Dorothy B. Williams Theater
Fri 14 @ 9:15 Sat 15 @ 1:15 Sun 16 @ 4:45 Fri 21 @ 5:15 Wed 26 @ 7 Thu 27 @ 9:30

VIRAL
Gideon Productions, LLC
Writer: Mac Rogers
Director: Jordana Williams
A woman googles "painless suicide" and finds the people who will help her end her life - if she'll let them film it. And sell it. A pitch black comedy from two-time FringeNYC award winner Mac Rogers.
1h 45m Local Brooklyn, NY Drama Comedy
http://www.viraltheplay.com/
VENUE #16: The SoHo Playhouse
Sat 15 @ 7:30 Sun 16 @ 6 Wed 19 @ 3 Sun 23 @ 10 Wed 26 @ 9:45

Flight
NO HOPE Productions
Writer: Tim Aumiller
Director: Tim Aumiller
On the eve of an early winter storm, two strangers are forced together by sheer proximity at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. While waiting for their lives to resume, they find refuge and danger in revealing themselves.
0h 50m Local Brooklyn, NY Comedy Drama
http://www.nohopeproductions.com/
VENUE #15: The Studio at Cherry Lane
Fri 14 @ 7 Tue 18 @ 9:30 Wed 19 @ 10:30 Thu 20 @ 2 Sat 22 @ 6:15 Thu 27 @ 5:15

just don't touch me, amigo
Fernando Gambaroni
Writer: Fernando Gambaroni
Director: Jose Zayas
A comedy about loneliness in the city and the alienating process of becoming a resident alien.
1h 10m Local New York, NY Solo Show Comedy
http://justdonttouchmeamigo.blogspot.com/
VENUE #7: manhattan theatre source
Sat 15 @ 2 Wed 19 @ 9 Sat 22 @ 9:15 Wed 26 @ 3 Thu 27 @ 9:30

The Confessional
The Cohort Theatre Company
Writer: Jayson Akridge
Director: Jayson Akridge
Mild-mannered teacher, Stanley Prentiss, confesses to a horrific murder which may or may not have happened. The detectives on the case must journey into the innermost darkness a human soul is capable of in order to discover the truth.
2h 15m Virginia Beach, VA Drama
http://www.theconfessionalplay.com/
VENUE #1: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Milagro
Sun 23 @ 9 Thu 27 @ 9 Fri 28 @ 2:15 Sat 29 @ 7 Sun 30 @ 2

I WILL FOLLOW
Pennyfield Productions
Writer: Barri Tsavaris
Director: Steve Wargo
A girl from Long Island embarks on a fanatical search for truth, love and religion through the music of U2. Her 20-year journey explores the challenge of finding yourself when following something else. A rock-and-roll adventure for fans of anything!
1h 30m Local New York, NY Comedy Drama
http://www.iwillfollowtheplay.com/
VENUE #11: The Actors' Playhouse
Sat 15 @ 8:30 Sun 16 @ 3:15 Thu 20 @ 2 Sat 22 @ 12 Fri 28 @ 5:15

CAMP WANATACHI: A New Musical
Mercurial Productions
Writer: Book and Lyrics by Natalie Weiss, Music by Natalie Weiss, Conrad Winslow and Travis Stewart
Director: Natalie Weiss
Spirit-soaked and hormone-charged, two 13-year-old girls fall in love at Christian summer camp. Live orchestra. Sick beats. Songs like "We All Need Jesus in Our Lives," and "Let's Ride Bareback." This nostalgic musical is super futuristic.
1h 30m Local Brooklyn, NY Musical Comedy
http://www.campwanatachi.com/
VENUE #3: Dixon Place
Sat 15 @ 1:30 Sun 16 @ 11 Tue 18 @ 7 Fri 28 @ 8:15 Sat 29 @ 3:1

George and Laura Bush Perform . . . Our Favorite Sitcom Episodes
NOTE: This show, originally on the list, will not be reviewed because of a schedule conflict.

Look After You
Maieutic Theatre Works-MTWorks
Writer: Louise Flory
Director: Michele Pace
MTWorks (Anais Nin Goes To Hell) returns with "Look After You". When a photographer's life is threatened by illness, everything she thought was secure turns upside-down, testing friendships, family and love.
1h 30m Local Manhattan, NY Drama
http://www.lookafteryoutheplay.com/
VENUE #16: The SoHo Playhouse
Fri 14 @ 5 Sun 16 @ 3 Wed 19 @ 8:15 Fri 28 @ 9:30 Sat 29 @ 1:30

ARTIFEX. The Artistic Life of Emperor Nero.
The Artifex Company
Writer: Davide Ambrogi, Original Music by Davide Ambrogi
Director: Velia Viti
An opportunity to call into question the main themes and problems most frequently present in the life of an artist. The Italian Artifex Company leads you on a psychological trip into the artist's mind through comedy, drama, dance and music.
1h 20m International Rome, Italy Comedy Drama
http://www.blogger.com/www.wix.com/davideambrogi/artifex
VENUE #14: The Cherry Lane Theatre
Thu 20 @ 9:30 Sat 22 @ 9:45 Tue 25 @ 9:45 Wed 26 @ 4:45 Sat 29 @ 5

Damon and Debra
B Train Productions
Writer: Judy Chicurel
Director: Passion Hansome
On a stalled subway train shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Damon, a distrustful young African American male, meets Debra, a feisty, middle-aged white woman. Race, relationships, and startling personal revelations pave the way for a provocative interaction.
1h 30m Local Brooklyn, NY Drama FringeHIGH
VENUE #15: The Studio at Cherry Lane
Mon 17 @ 8:30 Tue 18 @ 7:15 Fri 21 @ 4:45 Tue 25 @ 5:45 Fri 28 @ 7 Sat 29 @ 8

White Horses: An Irish Childhood
Breaking Tide
Writer: Owen Dara
Director: Elizabeth Duck & Dan Toscano
Based on his acclaimed memoir, comedian Owen Dara brings to life his Irish childhood. Through portrayals of his militant mother, bewildering father, and juvenile self, he leads a hilarious journey filled with passion, insight, and a whole lot of laughs.
1h 20m National Los Angeles, CA Comedy Solo Show
www.owendara.com/show.html
VENUE #7: manhattan theatre source
Sat 15 @ 7 Tue 18 @ 5 Tue 25 @ 9 Thu 27 @ 7:15 Sun 30 @ 12

IMAGINE
Imagine Project Inc
Writer: Children of Imagine Project workshops
Director: Bill Bartlett
Choreographer: Annie Faulkner
All original music and story lines are a result of improvisations created by the young actors. More than half the performers have been cast from the children participating in our creativity programs in NYC homeless shelters.
1h 5m Local Brooklyn, NY FringeJR Musical
http://www.imagineproject.org/
VENUE #2: CSV Cultural and Edu. Cntr. Flamboyan
Sat 15 @ 12 Sun 16 @ 3:45 Thu 20 @ 7:30 Thu 27 @ 6 Sun 30 @ 2:45

TheWritePros.com

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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