Posts Tagged ‘Off Broadway



26
Mar
18

Prurience: My Review

Prurience 1An old woman sits quietly in a chair. Her chair is one of many in a circle. She sits amongst a group of fellow addicts that are in need of confession. Admissions and revelations begin spewing forth until she decides it’s her turn. She then tells the story of a date she had when she was a young woman. Her date had her meet him in New York’s Times Square. He began by touring her about the then seedy stretch of strip joints and porn theaters. She’s slightly offended but can’t help to be a bit turned on. The young man convinces her to step inside one of those porn theaters to experience her first pornographic film. Lo and behold the man she’s with is starring in the film. Afterwards they sleep together, fall in love, and then she decides to move in with him.

It’s an intriguing story. What makes it intriguing isn’t the content of the story. It’s that one is wondering throughout the lurid revelation whether the old woman is telling the truth or whether she’s one of the many actors sitting in a circle at the Guggenheim Museum’s restaurant The Wright. They’re all playing a part in an experimental immersive theatrical production produced by Works & Process at the Guggenheim. Prurience is an almost two-hour long group therapy session for porn addicts and you’re invited along for the fun. That is if paying good hard-earned money to sit through an almost two-hour long group therapy session for porn addicts is your idea of fun.

The Prurience Method is a supposed modern-day bastardized self-help Masters and Johnson for porno addicts. They hold regular weekly meetings were everyone grabs a chair, sits in a circle, and shares. The annoying, pony tailed, logo baseball cap wearing host, who feigns being late like he always is, makes his introduction and lays out the rules. Have some tea and cookies. Sing the indoctrination song. Lots of greet your neighbor and acknowledge each other’s presence. Collaborate with others in the word play games. Put post it notes with helpful thoughts on the feedback tree. Confess your addiction but don’t demand results. Watch the video tape of founder and former porn star, producer, and director Amelia Atkins.

This is all geared to unlocking your memories, desires, and need to reveal your overt love of porn. This is all meant to be both satire and drama and Prurience is not always successful at either. Created and written by British performance artist, and the evenings host, Christopher Green, and directed along with his co-director Holly Race Roughan, Prurience presents an evening of both performers and perhaps audience members revealing their intimate sexual secrets. Some actors are better at this than others. Some audience members are actors that are not. Without a program there’s no way of knowing who the players are as story after story are told. At the end of the performance piece nine actors behave as if they’re the phonies but this may be an illusion as well because it felt like more actors were involved in attempting the illusion.

People have an inherent psychological need to follow and the creators take advantage of that but the problem with Prurience is that it cannot just be experienced. Prurience insists that you believe. Prurience insists that you participate. Oddly enough there’s no room for the voyeur here because once you just observe you can clearly see the cracks in the flimsy façade. The structure and illusion doesn’t always hold. It’s not that the subject matter is uncomfortable. It’s that the presentation of it is awkward and annoying in its lack of truth. The sad punchline is that no one gets any help. In that way there is no drama. Only emotional presentation. There are confessions but no conclusions.

Like a bad overlong sketch with no ending in sight the session quickly devolves into an overlong, overlapping, extremely grating shouting match which we’re supposed to believe causes an abrupt end to the fake festivities. This then requires an actual intervention. Even that doesn’t play well. What happens next to wrap up this circle jerk is so absurd that its best left to those who are willing to endure the Prurience method and experience the closing disco lit musical number. Suffice it to say the actual method here is in and of itself a confused attempt to entertain but ultimately proves flacid.

The Wright Restaurant
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128
https://www.guggenheim.org/event/prurience
(212) 423-3575
March 21 – 31, 2018
$45

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 American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror  Writers Association.

14
Mar
18

Wicked Clone: My Review

Wicked Clone 1Take equal doses of Transylvanian folklore, Goethe, Faust, Ibsen, Dante, booming Werner Herzog like voice overs, stock footage movie moments projected on a supposed magic mirror, club dance moves, electronic beats, roller blades, circus arts, daddy dom issues, notions of sin and redemption, and overt sexuality. Now toss it all in a blender, hit frappe again and again, and once properly mixed, hurl the resulting concoction all over a black box stage. This will give you an approximation of the gloriously spectacular, misguided avant-garde, multimedia, passion project being served up at the Davenport Theatre.

Let us begin at the beginning of this torrid tale. Wicked Clone is the story of two identical twin sisters born in Transylvania in 1483 to Vlad the Impaler himself. Mihaela and Gabriela are opposite acorns not falling far from the same blood-thirsty tree. Mihaela is the somewhat good girl who questions her existence and is always in search of love. Gabriela is the totally bad girl that always seeks vengeance and is constantly jealous of her sister’s ambitions. Both being undead daddy’s girls they can’t help but do battle with each other.

Mihaela flees from Transylvania to 2018 New York and pulls her fangs out in order to find love and become a human. She then writes a book and mounts a Broadway show based on her life and writings. Twin sister Gabriela also follows Mihaela through space and time to return her sister to her vampiric roots and back under now actually dead daddy’s demonic control. Mihaela falls in love with a human poet who, in the midst of being killed by Gabriela, manages to bite Mihaela which turns her human. That doesn’t stick though, since no plot point lingers in this story, so her fangs start to grow back and soon enough both sisters are at each other’s throats again. If this all sounds like a confused and convoluted mess it’s because that’s exactly what this is.

Wicked Clone 2Wicked Clone is performed, choreographed, scored, designed, and teched by Transylvanian born American artists Mihaela and Gabriela Modorcea. Mihaela wrote the novel, Wicked Clone or How to Deal with the Evil on which her script for the show is based. Both sisters traveled to America and ended up creating Wicked Clone as a production to showcase their many skills and find fame and fortune on the Great White Way. If this all sounds familiar that’s because it is indeed all too familiar. In an extreme case of life imitating art, these multi-talented identical twin sisters have birthed what they call a cinema musical, which they believe is a new genre that projects the audience into an immersive blend of theater and film projection.

According to the program Wicked Clone was directed by God. If true the Creator has much to answer for as far as his, or her, theatrical choices are concerned. The music is the stuff of dance floor fodder, but as a musical there’s not a hummable memorable tune in the entire lot of nineteen original pop-gypsy compositions imbedded in the drama. The sisters Modorcea are not without talent. They can sing. They can dance. They can write pop happy electronic dance music. They also managed to mount what is an ambitious production. Their faith in themselves to create something artistically grand is heroic and an argument can be made here for experimental theatre reminiscent of the Warhol crowd. The shear audaciousness of the thing makes one want the sisters Modorcea to succeed at their attempt to create dark cinema theatre magic, but there are a mountain of obstacles rising against them and many are self-perpetuated.

Davenport Theatre
354 West 45th St
New York, NY 10039
www.wickedclone.com
212.956.0948
$69
March 8 – May 27, 2018

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 American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

12
Feb
18

The Chekhov Dreams: My Review

Chekhov Dreams 3Sometimes in the world of theatre you run into the seemingly perfect show. Everything appears to be just as it should be. The actors are talented and in some cases truly gifted. The script is appropriately funny, or tragic, or both whichever the case may be. The design facets are successfully executed and presented. The direction is in line with the text and equally in sync with the production. The audience is responding right on cue as expected. Yet in spite of all that there’s something just not right overall. As smooth as everything seems, as hard as everyone is working to nail it, there’s a nagging feeling that there’s something rotten in the state of Minsk. The Chekhov Dreams, currently playing at Theatre Row’s Beckett Theatre, is one such show.

Jeremy is an independently wealthy struggling wanna be author. One evening over lots of wine, and a mutual game of guess the quote by which famous literary figure, Jeremy and his recently ex-girlfriend Kate form a blood oath to reach out and remain together in this life and the afterlife. This of course immediately leads to her death in a car accident. Three years later the still rich and now lost Jeremy is struggling to finish his first book. His opus is loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen which was a favorite story of his since childhood. In the midst of the struggle he begins having regular dreams where Kate comes to visit. She taunts, and teases, and seduces him. Her temptations are too great, and his fear of failure is too overwhelming, so Jeremy makes another pact to kill himself and marry his now dead fiancée. This decision is no easy task to complete as his life proceeds to get more complicated.

Jeremy’s narcissistic hedonist of a brother Eddie keeps trying to cure his doldrums to no avail. Jeremy also wants to finish his book before he departs so he takes an acting class to help him release his creative juices. It’s there that he meets his acting scene partner Chrissy. She comes with her own imposing wants and needs including a love of Jeremy’s least favorite author Anton Chekhov. Of course, the scene their working on is from Chekhov’s The Seagull. It’s not long before the dead fiancée becomes jealous and impatient. She not only keeps up her dream visits she also begins appearing in Jeremy’s apartment while he’s awake causing him much distress and added mayhem. On top of all that Chekhov also begins taking on a featured role in his dreams as mentor, advisor, author, and dramaturge.

Chekhov Dreams 2Dana Watkins as Jeremy has the makings of a good leading man. He pulls off the awkward, dazed and confused romantic, along with the tortured lover and author to be. Elizabeth Inghram as the deceased Kate does very well as mortal girlfriend, seductive spirit, and eventually manipulative evil queen. As Chrissy, the ingenue and Chekhov scene partner, Charlotte Stoiber embodies a hopeful somewhat naive actress in search of true meaning in her work and in matters of the heart.

Christian Ryan as Jeremy’s flawed, heavy drinking, chain smoking lothario of a brother is in fine comic form. His scenes bring a laugh filled breath of fresh air into each scene he appears in. Rik Walter as the legendary director and writer Anton Chekhov is every bit the stately, stern, and imposing dark genius one might expect but he brings with it a sassy comedic edge that is fun to watch.

As already mentioned the cast is a talented lot. While each player plays their part the problem with the ensemble is one of what appears to be nervous energy. No one seems to be able to be still. There’s constant unnecessary movement and in some cases unconscious mirroring of each other’s actions. There’s also that unwavering feeling of trying too hard to please. It’s not always the case. When they connect with themselves, the erratic material, and the house, the ensemble plays very well together but for the most part this is all a hit or miss affair.

In support of the production the design team set themselves some very ambitious goals and for the most part they achieve them. Costume designer Christina Giannini is well represented. Along with the needed every day wear of the characters that inhabit this world she’s able to shine with beautiful period costumes that make the dreams they have so vivid. Lighting designer Diana Duecker and sound designer John McKinney more than ably deliver on setting the mood and the tone for both the real and the surreal proceedings. Scenic designer Scott Aronow had the larger challenge of having to wrangle many settings into one multi-dimensional set. His solution and execution does work nicely even though it was a bit wobbly at times. An extra support here, an additional nail there, and this minor quibble is eliminated.

Chekhov Dreams 1All is not lost because there’s a gem of a show to be mined her but the excavation would have to go deep. Writer John McKinney and director Leslie Kincaid Burby could and should go back to the drawing boards on this one and uncover all that this script truly has to offer. There are warnings already built into this current version. In his dreamy appearances Chekhov warns of not using too many devices to advance the plot and yet he himself becomes one. He also warns that not everything is to be explained and yet that happens often in this production. Particularly in the fact that the play goes one scene too long for the sake of trying to wrap everything up with a neat bow. In fact, the entire show runs a bit too long. If the next incarnation were trimmed down to a tight intermissonless ninety minutes, as opposed to the overstuffed feeling of the current with an intermission two hour plus version, the entire company might find themselves with a dream worth having again.

Theatre Row
Beckett Theatre
410 West 42nd Street
www.chekhovdreams.com
(212) 239-6200
$44.25

Now Playing Through Feb 17, 2018

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 American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

03
Feb
18

Puffs: My Review

Puffs2An owl has arrived to deliver a message to a young boy. The lucky recipient of this owlgram has been accepted into a little known world renowned school of magic. He is to be taken from his humdrum life and set upon a new course and the magical adventure of his life. The catch is that this is not merry old England and this is not the boy legend in the making Harry Potter. This is New Mexico in the good old US of A and the boy is an awkward, and not that much of a gifted wizard to be, named Wayne. Nonetheless, Wayne is whisked off to England to experience ‘seven increasingly eventful years at a certain school of magic and magic’ just like the infamous Harry.

While Harry does make occasional appearances in this tale this story belongs to Wayne and all his fellow Puffs, the magical house he’s sorted into for his time at the school. This is a mirror world of the Potter books and if you don’t know them you will have some problems catching all the jokes in this very clever, fast paced, hysterically funny farce. While elements of the books play out in the periphery, this version is all about the Puffs and their mutual adventures of just getting through school and dealing with all the mayhem that Harry creates in his wake. The Puffs are endearing misfits but they know it and that always seems to empower them forward through their mutual endeavors.

The ensemble cast is exactly that in every sense of the word. They are frenetic poetry in zany motion and to lose any one of these skillful cartoon treasures would be to collapse this magical school’s house of cards. In total the company of thirteen players portray fifty three characters and features the talents of Langston Belton, Madeleine Bundy, Jessie Cannizzaro, Nick Carrillo, Anna Dart, A.J. Ditty, Julie Ann Earls, James Fouhey, Jake Keefe, Andy Miller, Zac Moon, Eleanor Philips and Stephen Stout.

Puffs1The design work on this production is clever to the max with every department delivering excellence. Madeleine Bundy’s set, costume, and prop designs are at the center of it all. Her set gives the reigning Broadway work of The Play That Goes Wrong a run for its money. Its backstage reverse world look and feel serves as the visual foundation in this frenzied world. Her hodgepodge of costumes is in all actuality a well-organized balance of quick change mastery that fits well within the mania and lets the audience keep track of the many characters and their houses as they fly by.

It’s writer Matt Cox’s book of secrets that drives this glorious insanity. His work reveals a true and genuine love of the parodied Potter source material. He provides not only comedic reverence to the proceedings but also isn’t at all afraid to skewer its revered cannon with right-on-the-mark pokes at its fabled facade. Cox has scripted an intermissonless one hour and forty five minute speeding magical locomotive that makes for a wild and wonderful ride.

One would think that a show and a cast that moves this quickly and delivers this many punch lines per second would be allowed to run amok to achieve those goal. That thinking would be incorrect. There’s a slow and steady hand at the helm of this madness that makes it all work and it belongs to director, Kristin McCarthy Parker. Reigning in all that creative energy and then knowing exactly when to unleash it is no simple task and her skill is to be admired.

Tilted Windmills Theatricals and producers John Arthur Pinckard and David Carpenter are to be commended here as well. They took great steps to protect, package, and promote this gem of a production in such a way that allowed it to be found by its adoring audience. They knew what they had and nurtured it wisely. Puffs began at the Peoples Improv Theater, where it gained its first momentum, before moving to the Elektra Theater where continued critical acclaim brought it to its current home at Stage 5 at New World Stages.

Puffs has broken two New World Stages box office records to date and is well on its way to break others as it repeatedly plays to sold out houses. It is primarily word of mouth support from its loyal and growing fan base that drives this well-deserved success. With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opening shortly it’s easy to see how Puffs may just become a permanent fixture on the New York theatre scene as scores of fans flood into the city from all over the world to catch two of the hottest wizarding tickets within reach.

New World Stages
Stage 5
340 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019
http://www.puffstheplay.com/
212.239.6200
$52-$97
Now Playing Through Nov 4, 2018

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 American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

19
Nov
17

Don’t Feed The Indians: My Review

Don_t Feed The Indians 1In order to gain entry to the Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective’s production of Don’t Feed The Indians: A Divine Comedy Pageant at the legendary La MaMa’s Downstairs Theatre you must first pass through a sideshow. Your guide through this living tableau of indigenous fallacies and misrepresentations is a tall well-dressed ponytailed huckster in braids and sunglasses. You’re given gold chocolate coins to toss in the baskets of the presented freaks in order to feed the Indians an enticement to perform for you. There’s the half-naked, half breed singing warrior brave, the firewater drinking alcoholic homeless veteran of many wars, and of course the cigar smoking tobacco selling old woman indecipherably chanting away, all there for your enjoyment before you take your seat in the theater for the main event.

The carnival atmosphere, beautifully created by set designer Ann Mirjam Vaikla, lighting designer Cecilia Durbin, and costume designer Sheldon Raymore, continues on inside. What follows is an absurdist collection of songs, skits, and parables about expected racial archetypes and the insufferable lengths to which Native American actors must go through to fit into those molds or find themselves without professional employment. Loosely based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, the story presents the onstage performances and backstage dramas of a Native American family of performers trying to satisfy an audience starving for those stereotypes while dealing with the personal costs of living up to the lies imposed upon them to match the forced expectations of the Eurocentric crowd. This is a twisted variety show with the punch of an in-your-face moral message that’s meant to amuse, but make one squirm in the process.

Don_t Feed The Indians 2There are bits exposing the racism of supposedly tried and true entertainments like Disney’s Peter Pan and the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Indian Casino shows are also on display here with an emcee from hell and the comedic stylings of a beaded borscht belt husband and wife team that present the irony of double edged self-deprecating humor. Television is properly skewered as well with a very funny use of Keeping Up With The Kardashians to exemplify the cost that individuals pay when living a lie. These are all set against real and touching revelations of autobiographical sacrifices made in the act of attempting against all odds to live an artist’s life including depression, family conflict, forced rape, and the loss of leaders and elders as the fight for equality and acceptance rolls ceaselessly on.

Don’t Feed the Indians was conceived, written, and directed by Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna/Rappahannock Nations), with musical direction by Kevin Tarrant (Hopi/Ho-Chunk Nations) both of whom serve double duty in the cast as well turning in some of the funniest and touching work of the show. The balance of this talented all Native American ensemble includes Nicholson Billey (Delaware/Choctaw Nations), John Scott-Richardson (Haliwa-Saponi Tribe), Danielle Soames (Mohawk/Kahnawake Nations), Henu Josephine Tarrant (Hopi/Ho-Chunk/Kuna/Rappahannock Nations), Joe Cross (Caddo/Nation of Oklahoma), Tony Enos (Cherokee Nation), George Stonefish (Delaware Chippewa/First Nation) and Gloria Miguel (Kuna/Rappahannock Nations). Each of these actors delivers performances ranging from spiritual ritual, broad slapstick, and heart wrenching sadness with utmost skill and grace.

Don_t Feed The Indians 3This is a production whose heart is in the right place and whose cause is righteous. The overriding message is everything here and that’s not only laudable but also commendable. That being said this is also a production whose heart and cause cries out for some focus in the telling. The script is in need of editing and the production overall is in need of tighter direction. The old adage of less is more is apt here. Many of the target points are being missed in the scattershot delivery of scene, after scene, after scene with the encroaching feeling of repetitiveness around every corner. A sharper focused beam would shed even more light on these all important issues and would greater serve to correct the injustices being presented. One would hope that the production and artistic teams of Don’t Feed The Indians will return to the stage after having polished this diamond in the rough once more.

La MaMa
Downstairs Theatre
66 East 4th St
New York, NY 1003
http://lamama.org/
212.352.3101
$25 Adult Tickets; $20 Students/Seniors + $1 Facility Fee
Nov 2 – Nov 19, 2017
From an original post on TheaterScene.

Photo credits Maya Bitan.

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 American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

18
Nov
17

The Red Shoes: My Review

The Red Shoes 1The mere mention of The Red Shoes conjures up technicolor memories of the 1948 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger British film that tells the story of a love triangle sided by a controlling director, an idealistic composer, and a dedicated dancer thrown together in a creative crucible. It also brings to mind remembrances of the dark Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of a pair of red slippers that once worn may never be removed until the dancer dies of exhaustion or has her feet cut off to make the madness end. First produced in London last year it took twenty years for director and choreographer Matthew Bourne and his New Adventures dance company to bring his sumptuous vision to life. Every day spent conceiving this masterpiece was time well spent.

The theatrical story of The Red Shoes follows the film closely. The simple plot is a love letter to dance, theatre, the life of performance artists at work and the sacrifices they are willing, or are forced to make, in order to create a legacy. Still set in the 1940’s, Victoria Page, a young ambitious dancer arrives at Covent Gardens to audition for the demanding company director Boris Lermontov. While there the company composer Julian Craster spies her as well. Once cast she begins her rise within the company ranks and in the hearts of both men. But they each want her for reasons of their own. Craster is in love with her heart. Lermontov is in love with her gifts. Once she dons the aforementioned shoes to dance the ballet written for her by the composer, and created for her by the director, she begins to feel torn by both men and her growing fame. Eventually the emotional and artistic strain is too much on the threesome and they begin to pull at each other. This results in rejection, revenge, and a tragic ending foretold by a train whistle in the first act.

The Red Shoes 4The phenomenal cast of twenty-six dancers includes members of Bourne’s New Adventures dance company, the New York City Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre. In this particular performance Sam Archer was dark and dramatic as ballet impresario Boris Lermontov, Sara Mearns was exquisite and flawless in her role as rising star Victoria Page, and Marcelo Gomes was romantic and heartbreaking in his interpretation of struggling composer Julian Craster. The rest of this outstanding cast is split between a variety of dancers at various times. A mix born out of the necessity to rest dancers during what must be a grueling run. The choreography that guides and glides them all is detailed and complex. Scenes are filled with movement both front and center and deep in the background. Every character that occupies a space is at work bringing this vision to life.

The music of New York born composer Bernard Herrmann serves as the foundation that brings this lush world to life. The score of The Red Shoes is a compilation of the original film score and Herrmann’s works on Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Fahrenheit 451. All these orchestrations were webbed together by Terry Davies into what amounts to a haunting score. In a traditional Broadway musical there is always the hope that the tunes are catchy enough that the audience is humming them as they leave the theatre. The score for The Red Shoes will be playing in the theatre of your mind in a bittersweet blend for days afterward.

The Red Shoes 3Though there has been some very impressive production design and execution, both on and off Broadway, this season but the sets, lights, sound, and costumes of The Red Shoes outshines them all. The beautifully clothed to perfection dancers dance but the set dances as well. A suspended curtained proscenium arch is flown about the stage as needed to give points of view from a myriad of angles. One moment we are on stage, the next we are backstage, the next we’re stage left, or stage right, and in one set of scenes with a simple side to side motion we are transported from one distant room to another. The rest of the settings from Covent Gardens, to the Monte Carlo Opera House, to a seaside resort, and theatrical offices, and lover’s apartments are all equally grand with minimal execution. Such is the magic of set and costume designer Lez Brotherston, lighting designer Paule Constable, projection designer Duncan McClean, and sound designer Paul Groothuis.

At the center of all this, The Red Shoes ballet itself is the culmination of all the parts of the overall whole. It’s different than the wild color explosion of the film and yet it holds its own as a darker richer piece. It’s a unique sparkling grey gothic gem at the center of a ring setting of bright color rich diamonds. To experience the New Adventures rendition of The Red Shoes is to surrender yourself to master storytellers using every facet of their talents to bring romance and tragedy to life. Without a single word spoken, with only powerful grace filled movement, one is made to truly believe in the transformative powers of a pair of crimson slippers.

New York City Center
Main Stage
131 West 55th St,
New York, NY
www.nycitycenter.org/pdps/TheRedShoes/
212.581.1212
Oct 26 – Nov 5, 2017
$35 – $140

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Photo credit Johan Persson.

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 American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.

27
Oct
17

Squeamish: My Review

Photo Oct 17, 12 36 10 PM

Alison Fraser in Squeamish (Photo by Maria Baranova)

Sharon is a basket case. She’s a New York City, Upper West Side psychoanalyst in need of her own New York City, Upper West Side psychiatrist. She’s off her meds. Has been for a while. She’s a recovering alcoholic. Desperately in need of a drink. Sharon’s barely keeping it together but she’s still capable of understanding her needs. She needs to see her shrink. Badly. Even though she hasn’t kept up with her visits she shows up at Dr. Schneider’s apartment in the dead of night. Once inside she takes a seat.

It’s there that we first find her. It’s there that she will remain. For the next ninety intermission-less moments we will be transfixed by her story. She will gloriously regale us, and the good doctor, with her recent adventures in the flat landscape of Lubbock, Texas. She will tell us about her nephew’s sudden death and the funeral that brought her to that hot and humid place. She’ll go on about her encounters with the locals. Her growing paranoia. Her expanding psychosis. Her continuing nightmares. Most importantly she will tell us of her hemophobia. Her fear of blood. The results of her relationship with the warm red fluid that keeps us all alive will drive the tale and keep you fixed and focused on Sharon’s every word.

Sharon has been falling asleep on her own patients as of late. Nightmares of her mother’s past suicide have been keeping her awake. She’s now at the same age when her mother did herself in. She’s also having nightmares about her cousin Eddie’s recent suicide. If it was indeed a suicide. Her trip is a journey to find the truth. Once in Texas the mystery thickens as Sharon meets Cara who has a thing for razor sharp knives and the taste of blood. Despite being squeamish about life’s vital juice for as long as she can remember, except for that one time she tasted her own and found it oddly satisfying and sexually gratifying, Sharon finds herself going along on Cara’s sanguinarian adventures. All this death and blood, and lack of booze and pills, and the smell of peppermint that permeates her cheap motel room leaves Sharon’s mind in a state of frenzied confusion. All of this leads to some very dark morbid choices on her part and therein lies the bloody rub.

A good horror story is one that draws you in closer and closer until the trap that’s been set begins to close in around you. The trappings of Squeamish are sublime. Every aspect of the All For One Theater production at the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row are exquisite in their execution.

It is pitch black in the house when the show begins. In fact, before Squeamish even starts the usual warnings of cell phone activity is heightened by the additional caution that any light, even the light from your watch, will appear three-fold brighter should it suddenly reveals itself. Darkness is this productions friend. Everything in this world is black. The walls, the simple furnishings, the frame representing a large window overlooking the city, even Sharon is dressed entirely in black. Lighting designer Sarah Johnston, and her associate designer Sophie Talmadge Silleck, manage to use all this negative dark space to heighten the low-level lighting that they concentrate tightly on Sharon, her cup, table, and chair. There’s subtlety in design is at work here in an extremely elegant fashion.

A one-person show is primarily a dance between actor and author. A symbiosis of two storytellers at work. Here, once again, the production is in excellent hands. Playwright Aaron Mark has crafted a frightening journey that travels along a very tight wire. He balances humor and pathos with finesse. His characters are woven well and feel very real. Squeamish is his third psychological thriller and it is indeed charmed. Mark also takes the helm here as director and the benefits of his deceptively light touch are palpable. The highest compliment that can be paid to a director is that a good director is one that is never caught directing. Mark lets the words speak for themselves and he cast the perfect actress to deliver them.

Alison Fraser in Squeamish (Photo by Maria Baranova)

Alison Fraser in Squeamish (Photo by Maria Baranova)

Alison Fraser as Sharon is a wonder to behold. Along with playing Sharon she will also inhabit six other characters, both male and female. There are no doubts that the technical skills of a two time Tony Award nominee are at work here in a masterful performance. Those skills are wrapped up in an artistic tour deforce that makes you fall for the sanguine, neurotic, twisted little soul she brings to life. There’s a smoky, syrupy, sultry texture to Fraser’s voice that is intoxicating. Her delivery of Sharon’s staccato thoughts is flawless and instrumental to that all-important draw that sucks you into her story. Squeamish does indeed have a twist but Alison Fraser herself is the seductive trap.

Sharon spends the waning night in Dr. Schneider’s apartment. Time flies here and there is a profound sense of disappointment as the sun begins to rise on Sharon’s tale and the realization occurs that things are coming to an end. There’s a great deal to be said when you long to spend more time in the company of a charming yet deadly villain.

The Beckett Theatre – Theatre Row
410 West 42nd St
New York, NY 10036
$52.25
www.theatrerow.org
212-239-6200
Oct 6 – Nov 11, 2017

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 American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.




Edward Medina Author

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