Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Off-Broadway Review: Broadway Bounty Hunter

Annie Golden and Alan H. Green. Photo: Matthew Murphy
Broadway Bounty Hunter
Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis
Book by Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin and Jason Sweettooth Williams
Directed and Choreographed by Jennifer Werner

By Lauren Yarger
Following the force of the cult musical Be More Chill selling out Off-Broadway and rolling onto Broadway last season, another funky show by Joe Iconis has found its way to a short Off-Broadway run at the Greenwich House Theatre. Like the composer's  sci-fi Be More Chill which appeals to teens, Broadway Bounty Hunter involves a plot using mind controlling drugs for evil purposes, but this story is about an older women, Annie (Annie Golden), an actress of a certain age, who isn't getting parts any more....  The real-life Golden, who made her mark in Hair, Assassins and most recently in the TV series “Orange is the New Black,” proves that she still can belt and deliver a very humorous performance (it is award- worthy).

Down-on-her-luck Annie, still mourning the loss of her beloved husband and laughed out of an audition by a director (Omar Garibay), Annie sees some hope when she is given a chance to train as a bounty hunter under master Shiro Jin (Emily Borromeo). Colleague Lazarus (Alan H. Green) doesn't think she has what it takes, but starts to see her in a different light when they take off on their first bounty hunter assignment together to bring back notorious drug dealer Mac Roundtree (Brad Oscar). Rounding out the cast are Badia Farha, Jasmine Forsberg, Jared Joseph, Christina Sajous and  Emilie Battle. Broadway veteran Anne L. Nathan (Once, Sunday in the Park with George) performs the title role at Saturday matinee performances.

There is a lot going on on the small stage set by Michael Schweikardt with Lighting Design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauser and Projection and Viceo Design by Brad Peterson. It can be a bit dizzying, especially when Choreographer/Director Jennifer Werner gets everyone moving.

But it's fun. I have become a quick fan of Joe Iconis's quirky, catchy scores. Despite not being a 12-year-old, I really liked Be More Chill and am sorry it didn't get more traction on Broadway or with Tony voters. "Michael in the Bathroom" and "Rich Set a Fire" and other songs from Be More Chill circulate through my brain regularly making e wonder if I have ingested some kind of pill that makes you love music of certain composers... And I liked Bounty Hunter, too, though it is less developed than the other. I related to the "woman of a certain age theme" and thoroughly enjoyed the production of a musical called Young People the Musical. Funny stuff. Alas. not everyone was a fan and the show will  close Sunday,  Aug. 18, a month earlier than originally scheduled.

More Information:

Broadway Bounty Hunter plays at Greenwich House Theater (27 Barrow Street, NYC). https://www.broadwaybountyhunter.com/

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS
-- Language
-- Risque costumes (design by Sarafina Bush)
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Sexual dialogue

Chita Rivera Will Honor Hal Prince at Annual Broadway Blessing

Chita Rivera. Photo: Barry Gordin
Chita Rivera is scheduled to give a special tribute to Hal Prince at the 22nd annual Broadway Blessing 7 pm Monday, Sept. 16 at St. Malachy's Church (The Actors' Chapel).

Performers from other Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, including Ain’t Too Proud, Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, Desperate Measures, and Hair are scheduled to participate as well.  The Broadway Blessing Choir and instrumentalists are under the direction of Stephen Fraser.  George Drance, SJ (La MaMa, Magis Theatre), will emcee again this year. The evening will culminate with a moving candle-lighting ceremony led by clergy from various churches and the rabbi from the Actors’ Temple.

Doors open at 6:30 pm; seating is open, first come/first served at St. Malachy's, 239 W. 49th St. NYC. A reception will follow. The event is free to the public. Past participants have included Lynn Redgrave, Marian Seldes, Frances Sternhagen, Kathleen Chalfant, Billy Porter, Tituss Burgess and Chad Kimball, just to name a few.

St. Malachy's, the Actors' Chapel, was founded in 1920. It is a spiritual oasis in New York’s heart for Broadway artists and fans alike. Chiming “There’s No Business Like Show Business” every day, a half hour before curtain, the chapel has welcomed such theater greats as George M. Cohen, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino. Florence Henderson, Elaine Stritch, Danny Thomas, Bob and Dolores Hope, Antonio Banderas, Liam Neeson,and countless others. Under the leadership of Fr. John Fraser (pastor) and Stephen Fraser (director of music) it continues to offer programming to the Broadway community and develop the talent and work of the next generation of Broadway stars.

The Broadway Blessing is produced by Tony-Award-winning Producer Pat Addiss and Kathryn Fisher. Designed as a program of song, dance and story to celebrate the spirit of the new theater season, the annual Broadway Blessing was founded by theater writer Retta Blaney in 1997.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Broadway Producer Pat Addiss Among Speakers at 2nd Act Series at CT''s Waterbury Palace


Presenters have been selected for the second season of 2ND ACT, the Palace Theater’s acclaimed speaker’s series that features stories by people post age 50, who are doing some extraordinary things after mid-life.

Among them are Pat Addiss, a Tony-Award-winning Broadway producer based in New York, who will kick the series off on Sept. 17 with her presentation, "Necessity is the Mother of Reinvention," and Lisa Lampanelli, a life coach formerly known for her acerbic comedic style, who will present her new show Losin’ It on the main stage of the theater on Nov.16.

The series may be purchased in its entirety, as a five-presentation option, individually or by adding on Lampanelli’s show. All presentations with the exception of Lampanelli’s include light fare pre-show and are held in the intimate space of the Poli Club on the venue’s second floor. A cash bar will be available. Tickets: www.palacetheaterct.org; 203-346-2000; Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury.

Part inspirational, aspirational, experiential and comical, these after-50 life stories will ignite the audience member’s own imaginations and a desire to become part of a growing community of 2ND ACTers! As one regular attendee has commented, ‘you always leave with a nugget to ponder’. Series Creator Sheree Marcucci, marketing and public relations officer for the theater, states “we are living much longer than past generations and are expecting our later years to be as rich and vivid as possible. This series, and many like it popping up all over the country and world, attest to this- we are as a group, just not going quietly into that good night!”

The presenters, chosen by a selection committee who viewed short videos of presenter candidates, are engaging and have a personal story that will inspire others as they share how they pursued a passion, dream or championed a cause after the age of 50. 

2ND ACT SERIES PRESENTERS AND DATES:

Tuesday Sept. 17 – 6 pm
PAT ADDISS

Necessity is the Mother of Reinvention

How does a woman break into the tough world of showbiz as a Broadway Producer at an when most are looking to retire? After 30 years running her own promotions company hear Broadway producer Pat Addiss tell her gutsy story. They say that necessity is the mother of re-invention… 40 years ago putting food on the table for her children after her husband left was just the beginning of her many fascinating incarnations.


Tuesday Oct 29 – 6 pm

JILLIAN CLENTANO

The Stranger in the Mirror

Jillian is a 58-year-old transgender woman who transitioned from male to female three years ago. Growing up, the person staring back in the mirror was not her…it was a stranger. She will share her personal journey of starting life over again as her authentic self by discussing her challenges, hardships and victories. Since transitioning, she has become an advocate for the transgender community and speaks at various venues, including: conferences, universities and medical centers. She has returned to college to obtain her master's degree in psychology to become a counselor for the LGBTQ+ community, and recently finished an internship at the Yale Gender Program.


Saturday Nov 16 –8 pm

LISA LAMPANELLI’S Losin’ It!

Lisa Lampanelli’s LOSIN’ IT! is an intimate collection of humorous observations and real-life stories curated and performed by Lisa and a few of her friends. Inspired by her work with The Moth Radio Hour, Lisa has created a heartfelt theatrical evening focusing on the issues of weight, body image, and “losin’ it!” Performed in the spirit of The Vagina Monologues and Love, Loss and What I Wore, Lisa and friends enchant theatergoers with hilarious, touching anecdotes about their own weight struggles, and lively audience interaction.

“I decided stand-up comedy really wasn’t for me anymore. It wasn’t making my heart happy. So, I created LOSIN’ IT! a show using comedy to talk about weight and body issues, which are things I’ve struggled with for years," she said. "This is so much more fulfilling!”


Tuesday Dec 10 – 6pm

TANYA DETRIK

Change in the Blink of an Eye

Life can change in the blink of an eye. The secret to living life more joyously and peacefully lies in our ability to choose how we respond to situations that challenge us. Learning to shift how you view any situation is the key.

Tanya Detrik’s backstory is one of post-traumatic growth. At a moment of extreme stress she was gifted the realization that making a simple shift in her perspective catalyzed instantaneous mental and emotional relief.

That discovery more than ten years ago has transformed her life, never more so than in 2019 with the death of her husband.

Her message is that it is not necessary to experience trauma in order to be inspired to see life through different lenses, and that the ability is liberating and life enhancing. See what you may have been missing.


Saturday Jan 11 - Noon

KARENNA ALEXANDER

Listen to Your Heart

2ND ACTs typically come from the heart. Karenna Alexander should know. She's a dating and relationship expert, and former matchmaker, who helps women find love. Her 2ND ACT came about after conquering dating dilemmas of her own. If you’re looking for love in all the wrong places, come hear her share the secrets of finding love in the 21st century.


Saturday Feb 1 – Noon

KATE KATCHER

Things To Do When (They Say) You Can’t

ACTOR-WRITER-DIRECTOR-TEACHER

Shortly after her 57th birthday, Kate Katcher read an NY Times article that revealed that women over 55 who fall out of the workplace will most likely not get back in. She had just fallen. With retirement not an option and no prospects, Kate turned to the one person she could rely on: herself. Over the next eleven years, she created a blog, a theatre company, pursued and acquired two University teaching jobs, served elite clients in the luxury suites of Madison Square Garden, and returned to school for a Master’s Degree. Follow her journey over hurdles and through closed doors. Performance (script in hands) of a short playlet is part of this presentation.


Tuesday Mar 3 – 6 pm

JACK LEVINE

Laughing Out Loud

Author, actor. standup comedian and improv performer Jack Levine feared being bored in retirement. So, when he finally retired as chief financial officer of a school district at 72, he decided to try the performing arts and found the journey to be awesome. Jack will use stand-up comedy, improv, comedy sketches, personal storytelling and acting to entertain as he offers insights and inspiration to his audience to try something new, creative and fun.



Tuesday Apr 21 – 6 pm

SHARON RUCHMAN

The Gift of Rudy: A Second Chance

While Sharon Ruchman has always loved music, studying voice and piano since childhood, she felt pressure to become something that she was not ready to become. Stress and anxiety took the joy out of learning until about four years ago when her great uncle’s viola from 100 years ago found its way to her. Sharon felt compelled to learn and play it, and as a result, her creative floodgates opened. Today, she’s composing everything from chamber music to tango, believing that it is never too late to do something fabulous.



Tuesday May 19 – 6 pm

DONNA PALOMBA

BE the Change

Inspired by the famous quote by Ghandi and deeply affected by her own experience, Donna wants to empower people to fight back against injustice and become the change they want to see in the world. Donna shares her personal insights into what allowed her to make the choices she did, and how she sought guidance along the way. Using her story as a case study, she explores not only the fight against sexual assault, but draws on her experience as a business woman and the challenges she faces in that role as well, to move her audience to action on behalf of themselves and the greater good.


Tuesday June 23 – 6pm

RICH CYR

Don’t Just Dream it, Live it!

RICH Cyr was born with cerebral palsy, given the last rites three times, was told that he would never walk or talk, and encountered many obstacles during his life.

In his early 50s he became a financial advisor, actor, podcaster, author, voice actor, stand-up comedian, and motivational speaker.

He is now living the life that he always dreamed of.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Broadway Theater Review: Moulin Rouge

Danny Burstein. Photo: Matthew Murphy
Moulin Rouge! 
Book by John Logan
Music by various artists
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Directed by Alex Timbers
Al Hirschfeld Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
It's a love story set against the seedy streets and Bohemia of turn-of-the-century Paris. This production has been seeing good traction at the New York Box Office following a sold-out run at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre last summer. Word of mouth about the over-the-top optics has fueled some of the rusg to see the newest musical written by John Logan (Red) and helmed by Alex Timbers It's hard to imagine topping the big/wow factor for Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and Beetlejuice, but he does...)

Here's the gist: The Moulin Rouge Theater is going bankrupt under the management of Harold Zidler (Danny Burstein). He persuades his star chanteuse, Satine (Karen Olivo), to do what ever is necessary to attract the Duke of Monroth (Tam Mutu) and get him to put some of his considerable fortune into the theater's next show (so much for seeing better roles for women on Broadway in the Me Too Era, I suppose....) Meanwhile, songwriter Christian (the golden-voiced Aaron Tveit) agrees to pitch a new musical written by friends Toulouse Lautrec (a moving Sahr Ngaujah) and ladies' man Santiago (Ricky Rojas).  After some mistaken identity, Christian and Santine become lovers and continue down a dangerous road as they and the other members of the acting roup, keep their passion a secret from the possessive and violent Monroth.

As in the film, the musical celebrates some of the greatest popular music of the last 50 years -- some with just a line or two and others will full song (music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Justin Levine who also joined Timbers for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).The stage musical features many of the iconic songs from the movie (the credits in the program are microscopic there are so many -- the folks in charge of copyright clearance for this show deserve a raise). It  also includes recent hits released since the movie's  premiere almost 20 years ago when it was nominated for eight Oscars, including best [icture.

What Are the Highlights?
Derek McLane's sumptuous sets and Justin Townsend 's lighting design (perfection)  are ooh la la!  They, with Timbers, make this bigger than life. Performers pose and interact on stage in the house, and event overhead in the boxes where a colossal elephant and windmill expand the setting on either side.  Get there early. This show has the best pre-show action on a Broadway stage.

It's posh and encompassing, much like the Moulin Rouge itself. which started life as a popular cabaret and dance hall, then became an iconic music hall in the Roaring Twenties, then a theater where numerous famous French and international artistes stepped out into the limelight.

Aaron Tveit's voice is as smooth and delightful as always and it is so good to hear him singing on a Broadway stage again -- it has been a while since Catch Me if You Can and Next to Normal.

Just as the pre-show is terrific, the curtain call is spectacular too. Don't slip out early on this one.

What Are the Lowlights?
Olivo, who wowed in West Side Story,  is miscast in this role. The music doesn't fit her voice and she and Tveit have no chemistry. Burstein seems out of place in his role as well, trying hard to sell the boisterous pimp of a theater manager.

Even more troubling is the question that keeps coming to mind throughout the two -hour, 35-plus minute show: Is this a comedy or drama? It often is hard to tell. Things are pretty serious until about 20 minutes in when some song choices bring laughter from the audience. This continues throughout because some of the lyrics are really hokey where they are sung. That makes us think it is on purpose. But other songs are dramatic and most of those have us wondering why that particular song was chosen when many others more suited come to mind. It's confusing and takes us out of the story.

More information:
Moulin Rouge! The Musical plays at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th St., NYC. A block of tickets recently was released through July 2020.  https://moulinrougemusical.com/

Additional casting: Robyn Hurder as Nini. Ensemble: Amber Ardolino, Jacqueline B. Arnold, Olutayo Bosede, Kyle Brown, Sam J. Cahn, Max Clayton, Karli Dinardo, Aaron C. Finley, Paloma Garcia-Lee, Bahiyah Hibah, Ericka Hunter, Holly James, Evan Kinnane, Reed Luplau, Jeigh Madjus, Morgan Marcell, Caleb Marshall, Brandt Martinez, Jodi McFadden, Kaitlin Mesh, Kevyn Morrow, Fred Odgaard, Dylan Paul, Khori Michelle Petinaud and Benjamin Rivera

Additional credits: Catherine Zuber (costumes); Peter Hylenski (sound), Drama David Brian Brown (wig and hair design); Sarah Cimino (Make-up design).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Mature themes

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 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. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other 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. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

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

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

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- 2018 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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