Archive for June, 2018

06
Jun
18

BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno A-Go-Go: My Review

Inferno2_JasonRusso (1)Dante Alighieri’s epic 14th century poem The Divine Comedy is very much alive and swell at the Laurie Beechman Theatre and embodied in the luscious and multi talented form of television star and theatrical siren BenDeLaCreme. No worries though. This is not a dark and morose Hell. This is more like a Hell on wheels with a comically creative motor that blasts the fun right ‘atcha and leaves you thoroughly satiated in its wake but still wanting more.

For those not up on their religious studies, this great work tells the story of Dante’s journey through the afterlife. In the poem Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of torment located within the Earth’s core. It is the realm of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen. Or as our drag queen laureate tells us in her opening number “that’s what Wikipedia says” and she’s right. I looked it up.

In the poem Dante is guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. Not so for us. With writer, performer, and RuPaul’s Drag Race Miss Congeniality winner BenDeLaCreme as our tour guide, DeLa to her friends, followers, and admirers of which there were many in the house, we begin our journey through the underworld.

Inferno6_JasonRussoDeLa will take on many forms as we progress and her first is Carnal Cruise Line’s Cruise Director Carol. We board the naughty ship and make several stops and along the way we’ll encounter a bevy of wonderful characters. There are Furies, Centaurs, a messenger from God, a harpy, an unforgettable femme by the name of Indulgence Gluttington, and after having traveled down all nine suffer rings we even meet Satan himself. All of these are performed live, or on truly well produced rear projections, or even as puppets by DeLa’s alter ego Benjamin Putman. I almost dare not mention his name for fear of ruining the illusion but let’s give credit where credit is due. Ben and DeLa meld together into a consummate singularity of entertainment perfection.

Between the musical numbers, the multiple live characters, the costume changes, the puppets, the characters she plays on the screen, and her flawlessly timed interactions with her prerecorded selves BenDeLaCreme’s working her well rounded keister off and yet the show appears to be sublimely effortless. DeLa is without a doubt a smart, funny, vivacious, sultry, devilishly playful, and remarkably talented tour guide and Inferno A-Go-Go is her wildly entertaining drag show domain. As an allegory, The Devine Comedy represents the journey of the soul towards God and enlightenment. Whether or not God, or the Devil, are in the details you will most definitely leave this trippy theatrical sojourn uplifted.

Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 W 42nd St
New York, NY 10036
212.695.6909
web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/959376
May 24 – June 3
25 – $50

Edward Medina is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and welcomes comments at EdwardMedinaAuthor@gmail.com.

From an original post on TheaterScene.

All photo credits Richard Termine.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

02
Jun
18

There’s Blood at the Wedding: My Review

There's Blood at the Wedding 1As the sun set on yet another day when a gunman opened fire in a school on American soil the company of There’s Blood at the Wedding began their performance at La Mama ETC’s Ellen Stewart Theatre. Death by gunfire has become so pervasive in our society that these occurrences are categorized in a myriad of ways. This deeply moving, and at times, rightfully disturbing production seeks to address and present needless civilian deaths at the point of a police officer’s gun, or sometimes at the whims of their violent tactics. What is perhaps most chilling is that the thirteen vignettes that comprise this one hour entertainment represent just a mere drop in the bloody bucket we all bear.

Several forms of puppetry are blended together to present these stories and drive the point home. There are oversized full body puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes, and even the Japanese style of Bunraku puppetry, where the fully visible puppeteer manipulates the puppet figure in a seamless union of performer and character. The main artistic device though are large performing books that unfold with each story presented within. Developed just for this production these oversize books each contain their own unique storytelling methods. In this way, along with haunting music, poetic verse, and dance macabre the tragic stories of hapless victims like Sean Bell, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Justine Damand, and Amadou Diallo are all brought to brief life.

There's Blood at the Wedding 2Puppetry has a long history of being a vehicle for political discourse. From ancient Egypt, early Europe, and through our modern-day world puppets can be found expressing and communicating what others find to be uncomfortable or unspeakable. Puppets and their puppeteers and the messages they wish to convey also tend to flourish when times become oppressive and freedom of speech is restricted. The various forms of the puppetry arts have at times remained a singular form of dissent rejecting the doctrines imposed on their human counterparts. There’s Blood at the Wedding exalts the art form further in its mission to prove itself more than just a device for entertaining children.

Having created, designed, and directed the overall production, Theodora Skipitares has lead an exemplary team of puppeteers, puppet builders, scenic designers, composers, musicians, singers, and performers in a remarkable piece of dark theatrical magic. These gifted artists working together bring about a synergy of creative mastery and social commentary that is impossible to ignore and inconceivable not to be impacted by. This is a company of expert craftsman at the start of their creative journeys together and one can only hope to see more of their collaborations in the future and in Ms. Skipitares there are definite reflections of producer, director, playwright, author, and puppeteer Julie Taymor at the beginning of her illustrious career.

There's Blood at the Wedding 3Based on the recommendation of the American Theater Critics Association, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club will be this year’s recipient of the Special Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. This honor is given to theatre companies that have displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally. There’s Blood at the Wedding is a perfect example of why La Mama is so deserving of this special award and why this bold and exemplary production is more than worthy of your attention.

La MaMa
Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 E 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
212.254.6468
http://lamama.org/songs_for_lorca/
May 17 – June 3, 2018
$25

Edward Medina is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and welcomes comments at EdwardMedinaAuthor@gmail.com.

From an original post on TheaterScene.

All photo credits Richard Termine.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

02
Jun
18

Devil of Choice: My Review

Devil of Coice 1Chemistry is key in any play detailing the perils and pitfalls of human relations and relationships. There must be a synergy of character, style, and purpose to make all our foibles seem real and viable in a dramatic form. Devil of Choice is a sexually charged, tense yet funny, menage-a-trois of strong acting, crisp writing, and well finessed directing that makes for a very satisfying theatrical affair. This world premiere production on stage at the Cherry Lane Theatre, and presented by the Labyrinth Theater Company, is an exceptional piece of work that studies what makes us tick, both good and bad, in the world of human nature and in the midst of lust filled passion. The story takes place in the constrained world of academia and revolves around the academics that are caged within it.

Our characters all work at the local university somewhere in the middle of the country where identities and secrets can easily get lost in the everyday doldrums and the wants and desires that bubble just beneath their polished surfaces. Sal is a very popular literature professor teaching Goethe’s Faust. The devil is in the good hands of this charismatic teacher who basks in the adoration of his pupils. Sal’s dragged his wife Pepper, a former violinist who now works in the school’s music library, with him to his new posting. Pepper is devoted to Sal and he likes it that way. But it isn’t long before Sal finds his mistress. The next in what has probably been a long line of them. Delia is one of the college’s administrators. All three of them are bound together by work and play as Sal insists that the two woman become friends. Thus locked in a triangle, the games begin.

Devil of Choice 2This world revolves around Sal and David Zayas gives a powerful and commanding performance as the misogynistic Don Juan of the hallowed halls. He doesn’t just walk the stage, he prowls. He doesn’t just speak, he orates. He doesn’t just seduce, he takes. One could accuse him of sucking the oxygen out of the room by his shear presence but he always leaves just enough to give you one last gasp. You want to hate him but you just can’t.

Elizabeth Canavan as Pepper is the dark horse here. This is a character that could easily be lost as just the typical unfortunate wife. In her estimable hands Pepper is a sad yet oddly happy woman in that quirky way that you know hides so much loneliness and pain just below the surface. She gives, and Sal takes, and he takes, but Pepper doesn’t take that for too long. Her own will finds its way back as she uncovers the hidden truths and lies of her marriage.

Florencia Lozano’s performance is sexy. Her Delia has the brains to go with the body. She also has the skill sets to go toe to toe with Sal. As the seduction plays out it’s interesting to watch as she reels Sal in while giving him the illusion of control. Sadly poor Delia is not that all together herself. She suffers from wanting more, and wanting more from Sal is a complicated thing.

Devil of Choice 3This fast moving ninety-minute freight train filled with emotional baggage is written by Maggie Diaz Bofil and make no mistake about it she is in control of her characters and her audience from the moment the lights go dark and the first words are spoken. This is a writer whose transitions are smooth as silk as she moves from very comic moments to real, heartfelt, and tragic revelations. She has several tricks up her sleeve to make that happen.

Sal’s lectures, given directly to the audience, in which he demands your participation with a dark charm and confident knowledge of his subject draw you in closer and closer. It’s a trap to make you like him and she sets it up beautifully. Her women are real. They’re very funny. They’re also broken but they’re stronger in the broken places. You can identify with them and when the time comes you realize that while Ms. Bofil has given the power to Sal, it’s the women that are ultimately the one’s in control. She’s also given us a fourth character in the form of violinist Melisa McGregor. A constant bathed in red light upstage right presence whose music drives the story along through the twenty or so scenes that tell this story. The music of the violin and the rhythm of the words stitch everything together seamlessly.

All of this is under the slick and stylish direction of Shira Lee Shalit. There’s a lot to rein in and it’s all assuredly done. She is yet another woman in this predominantly female driven production that manages to keep all things in balance. There is very delicate work being done here. This is a play that could have easily turned into an over the top, mansplaining, weak woman as victims free for all mess. This director, this writer, these actors, and their production team have made sure that Devil of Choice is a superbly acted play of substance that revels in the devils we all face.

Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street
New York, NY 10014
www.cherrylanetheatre.org/onstage/devil-of-choice/
212.989.2020
May 23rd– June 9th
$20

Edward Medina is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and welcomes comments at EdwardMedinaAuthor@gmail.com.

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.




Edward Medina Author

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