Posts Tagged ‘Theatre

02
May
18

Randy Writes A Novel: My Review

Randy Writes A Novel 1Randy has written a novel and he wants to read it to you. Actually, he needs to read it to you. He’s slaved and labored and sacrificed to get it done and he wants to make sure it’s just right. He wants to know if it qualifies as art. He must know if it measures up to the great authors that have come before him and even the ones that will come after him. His search for artistic perfection is his main driving force. So much so that he’s not even sure that his art exists whether he reads it out loud or not. He even questions if you just knowing he wrote something is enough to mark his work as artistically sublime. He wonders if he really needs to read it to you at all. This drives Randy’s existential dilemma. It’s why Randy continues to distract himself from the task at hand.

Randy is a puppet. A very self-aware puppet in fact. Not only that, he’s a puppet on a hysterically funny journey to discover the meaning of life and all its peculiarities. He wants to know what makes us all tick. Randy is alone for the entire ninety-minute mind trip onstage at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre. He’s at his desk, well used  typewriter to his right, continually unread manuscript to his left, and strewn all around the floor are chaotic piles of books and torn and crumpled papers. Randy’s been hard at work and his mind is a buzz with thoughts he must express. All of Randy’s work pays off in a very funny evening of outright truths, blatant lies, broad exaggerations, and accurate observations

An evening with Randy is a combination of stand-up comedy and puppetry. It’s both wildly improvised and intelligently scripted. You’ll find yourself literally howling with laughter. Randy encourages that. He loves his audience to shout back at him, question his observations, and articulate their own opinions. The whole evening becomes a riotous amalgamation of master puppet and willing audience. You’ll find yourself laughing through riffs on Harper Lee’s other book, a three-and-a-half-minute condensed version on the life of Ernest Hemingway that blossoms into a remarkably funny yet astute conversation on the value of art versus character. You’ll also find social commentary being delivered on subjects like Veganism versus Carnism and there’s a Craig’s List story that will have you doubled over with an ending you will never forget. All this and more while Randy struggles and keeps stalling the reading of his presumably epic creation.

Randy’s own puppet master is a mystery. Whoever it is doesn’t want you to know because it doesn’t matter. Randy is Randy. He’s his own man with his own thoughts. Randy has been lauded and acclaimed. He’s travelled the world presenting and perfecting himself before many an adoring crowd. Before arriving in New York, he toured the country in order to understand his American fans better. The puppet has done his homework. Randy himself will tell you that what he’s presenting on stage is an anthropological social experiment and one helluva good time. As always Randy, a philosopher in fabric and flock, is more than right.

Clurman Theatre
Theatre Row
410 W 42nd St
New York, NY 10036
212.239.6200
http://randywritesanovel.com/
$81.25
April 18 – June 9, 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.

28
Apr
18

Seagullmachine: My Review

Seagullmachine 1Seagullmachine, now being presented at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, is the totally immersive creation of The Assembly which describes itself as a collective of multi-disciplinary performance artists committed to realizing a visceral and intelligent theater for a new generation. There are two distinct parts to this creation which was principally conceived by Assembly member Nick Benacerraf with a script by Anton Chekhov, Heiner Muller, The Assembly, and with a nod to William Shakespeare

The first part has the audience ushered passed an empty performance space and through a door to a performance space with three quarter seating and set pieces and props everywhere. A wall with a metal garage door separates you from the empty space. As you take your seat there are actors milling about, warming up, reading their notes, and laying about on couches or sitting at desks presumably pondering what’s to come. What eventually follows is a traditional execution of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull. The racially diverse and multigenerational cast is as effective as they can be in this relatively staid world. They do shine at times though, and with all candor, the entire ensemble is to be commended for the multiple roles, both real and unreal, they will each pull off during the balance of their time on stage.

After intermission in what is the midst of a performance length of two hours and forty-five minutes we return to Chekov’s Seagull but as the action progresses and at the moment when Konstantin would normally shoot himself a jarring change occurs. Someone begins banging loudly on the garage door. Up to this point the large rolling metal door has been being used as a curtain to a supposed stage set against a field and a distant lake in this play within a play world. What follows is a full blown sequined Baz Luhrmann-like musical extravaganza of the obscure ten-page play Hamletmachine by German postmodern dramatist Heiner Mueller. In addition to the confounding confusion, sight lines are a definite problem here. It doesn’t help that the garage door wall bisecting the set designed by Nick Benacerraf and Emmie Finckel does not prove entirely effective for a good portion of the house observing from the three-quarter round seating.

Seagullmachine 2The next part of the evening has the audience being lead back to the once empty performance space to find themselves surrounded by loud, brash, neon colored costumes on display. Costume designer Kate Fry having been restrained in the first section was now allowed to go all out and her work is quite beautiful in its glorious absurdity. Here in this world the voyeurs are encouraged to walk around, view the costumes, speak to the cast, some of whom have now changed into colorful garb, and even help others change into the clothing on display. There amongst the multitude of flat screens playing images of social destruction and broadcasts of gloom and doom with disco music blaring and dancing encouraged the cast begins recitations and pronouncements until an observer is chosen to be the sacrificial Dane.

This theatrical double play, co-directed by Jess Chayes and Nick Benacerraf, doesn’t ever gel enough to actually work together. As much as they try to make the pieces fit the whole is never greater than the sum of its parts. The Seagull portion is passible and would work well on its own if it didn’t feel as if it was just a long setup for the rest of the show to come. The first half of the Hamletmachine section is just bizarrely out of place and so overblown to everything that precedes it that any hope of it being a bridge to what follows is immediately lost. The colorful, daring, and fancifully shocking madness of the latter part is left to try and make sense of it all. The task is too much for it to bear because everything leading up to that moment feels so distant and unrelated.

Experimental theatre is indeed a risky business. Abstract ideas need to meet real-world dilemmas and then be delivered in a strong and unified voice that leaves the audience moved in ways they never expected in forms they themselves could never visualize as possible. The Assembly may rightly believe there is a conceptual connection to this production but it’s a seemingly thin one. What’s truly missing is a strong enough artistic through line to connect this duo of extremely individual experiences. Shock for shocks sake never works on its own. It needs a solid foundation to land the blow. With Seagullmachine The Assembly is clearly brave enough to take risks they just need to unify the voice they deliver it with.

La MaMa
Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 E 4th St
212.254.6468
http://lamama.org/seagull_machine/
$30

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
Apr
18

This Flat Earth: My Review

This Flat Earth

March 16, 2018 – April 29, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Written by Lindsey Ferrentino
Directed by Rebecca Taichman

Let us not bandy about. This Flat Earth is an important play. It is among the first of its kind to arrive in the theatrical commercial mainstream. It will sadly not be the last. This production is a clear clarion call for a problem that is only now becoming locked into our national psyche even though it’s grown from a constant and seemingly unending set of events. This Flat Earth by Lindsey Ferrentino, now at Playwrights Horizons, is about the death of our young students, the individual impact this has on all our daily lives, the struggles that present themselves as we pay a repeated cost, and the message manifests itself as a subtly delivered yet powerfully landed punch to the societal gut.

Thirteen is a critical age. It’s the supposed time when teenagers begin that transition into adulthood. It’s a time of reality and responsibility. Reality comes crashing in on Julie and Zander. They’re both thirteen and living in an idyllic seaside town in New England. They also both attend a perfect middle school where a gunman has entered the building and shattered their lives. Both teens are trying desperately to process the event each in their own way. Ian Saint-Germanin as Zander is a wonder of awkward but deeply caring pubescent contradictions. Ella Kennedy Davis takes the role of Julie to heart and succeeds comically and gracefully in wrestling with the complex issues before them. We see a majority of the coping both good and bad through Julie’s eyes and they are the perfect lenses for viewing troubled understanding.

This Flat Earth

March 16, 2018 – April 29, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Written by Lindsey Ferrentino
Directed by Rebecca Taichman

While the kids are trying to find meaning in chaos the adults here are attempting to do the same. Julie’s single dad Dan, a former standup comic turned working class hero in order to make things better for his daughter, doesn’t have all the tools necessary to answer his daughters very real and sometimes abstract questions but he tries as hard as he can to help. Sometimes a little too hard. Lucas Papaelias is charming and endearing here as Dan. He’s the perfect slightly imperfect father fueled by well-meaning intentions. The other counter balancing grown up here is Lisa played by Cassie Beck who’s a powerhouse actress filling her role with jumbled nerves and tortured angst. As she comes and goes Lisa serves as a constant reminder of the incident. She lost her daughter that day. The energy of that loss is always with her and it impacts everyone in this world.

Rising above them all, quite literally due to the fabulous two-story set of scenic designer Dane Laffrey, is Cloris. She lives in the apartment above Julie and Dan and its from there that she rules the roost as the sage goddess figure of the proceedings. Lynda Gravatt’s performance is stellar and grounding. She brings a knowing gravitas that helps to provide a much-needed balm to not only Dan and the kids but to those of us in the dark as well. Cloris has been around, she’s experienced all that life has to offer, she understands that life is a set of patterns that are as predictable as they are unpredictable and that change for the better is sometimes hard fought and hard won.

This Flat Earth

March 16, 2018 – April 29, 2018
Mainstage Theater
Written by Lindsey Ferrentino
Directed by Rebecca Taichman

From the start of This Flat Earth author Ferrentino carefully sets about the business of layering in a narrative foundation and then methodically reverse engineering this emotional time bomb as she peels back each layer. By the time the ninety minutes are up she leaves you an emotional but much wiser mess. There is no hammer here pounding the nail home. There is no rallying cry driving you to action. There is just a constant sense of truth in the midst of heartfelt questions and genuine pain. Everyone in this world pays a price and because the writer never talks down to her audience we easily empathize with each of them.

The production is deftly directed by Rebecca Taichman but Ferrentino and Taichman both work together seamlessly to let their characters breathe the moments of their lives which enables us to witness our own in theirs. Writer and director both let these characters find humor in the dark, compassion in the light, and everyone is allowed their cathartic pangs without judgement. Whether at the blunt end of the barrel of a gun, or at the sharp point of a jointly crafted moment, This Flat Earth proves itself to be a significant work that never preaches as it enlightens in the midst of our current politically polarized climate.

Playwrights Horizons
Mainstage Theater
416 West 42nd Street
$49 – $89
www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/flat-earth/
212-564-1235
Mar 16 – April 29, 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

Latin History For Morons: My Review

Photo 3 - John Leguizamo in Latin History for Morons - Photo Credit Joan MarcusJohn Leguizamo has a problem at home. His wife is waiting for him to step up, his daughter is at the know-it-all brat stage, his son is being bullied at school and that is the source for all the turmoil at home. He wants his son to be able to defend himself not with his fists, but with his words. It is words, after all, that built his father’s career. When the bullies at his prep school begin to taunt him about his race and heritage Leguizamo wants his progeny to be able to quote historical facts about their great ancestors. This is where the problem presents itself. When his son challenges him for facts to use in his defense his father realizes he has none. He realizes that the education that he received, the one we all received and continue to receive, is devoid of the true story of the Latin global influence.

Latin History for Morons, as Leguizamo points out, is for us. We’re the morons. So was he. Until he set about educating himself and his son. That search gave birth to the latest one-man show from the king of one man shows. This semi-autobiographical ninety minute work is a class in discovery. Our lesson spans three thousand years of Latin history. Its syllabus includes all the magnificent Latin kingdoms that once ruled a good portion of the globe. It speaks in truths of the rise and fall of great cultures, legendary heroes, and the significant impact they had on history. These historical events range the gamut from ancient wars to modern battles, through science, art, music, and beyond. All the while illustrating how these accomplishments were squashed and diminished by calculated influences that exist to this day.

Photo 2 - John Leguizamo in Latin History for Morons - Photo Credit Joan MarcusThere are shades of Mark Twain alive and well on the Studio 54 stage. Twain was, of course, known for his books and stories but he was also one of the first touring standup comics. His lectures made the people of the late 1800’s take an introspective look and question the lessons they had taught themselves about life, the class system, and race relations. This lecture is also reminiscent of the heady days of George Carlin’s landmark Class Clown where he took on the establishment and where the seeds were sown that made him a counter culture icon. Carlin dedicated that album to Lenny Bruce who led the modern-day counterculture era and paved the way for future outspoken social critics and satirists, who had no fear of mixing comedy and politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity.

Leguizamo embodies all that but he would be quick to point out that the influences don’t stop there. Cheech and Chong are the current Latin anchors of this genre. All their albums were lessons in resistance, non-conformity, and cultural reflection. There are echoes of their classic parochial school routine Sister Mary Elephant at work in Leguizamo’s lesson. Puerto Rican Freddie Prinze is here too, so are the language hijinks of Mexican comedian Cantinflas, Cuban historical comedy artist Alina Tropayo is present, even the ironic sass of young Puerto Rican Aubrey Plaza can be felt. Leguizamo gleefully speaks of the mixing of the races and the foundations of his comedic work reflects that.

Photo 1 John Leguizamo in Latin History for Morons - Photo Credit Joan MarcusActor and comedian Leguizamo is a Columbian raconteur that started in stand up and branched out into television and film. His personal life and experiences are the source of his comedic work. He is a fearless entertainer and a masterful wordsmith, who not only obviously values education but also basks in the light it provides. This producer, screenwriter, playwright, and now self-taught teacher of Latin history is also well credentialed. He has won two Obie’s, three Drama Desk awards, three Outer Critics Circle awards, one Emmy, and six Cable Ace awards for his troubles. Leguizamo needs to make room on his shelf of accomplishments because Latin History For Morons is a powerful, and powerfully funny lecture that will once again garner awards for its creator and professor.

Director Tony Taccone is no slouch either. He’s been the Artistic Director of Berkley Rep for the past twenty-three years. Amongst his accomplishments he commissioned and co-directed the Los Angeles world premiere of Tony Kushner’s Angels In America. In this production Taccone lets his thoroughbred lead run at his own pace but has crafted a world around him that lets every aspect shine. Rachel Hauck’s very realistic drab New York public school classroom is a treasure trove of nooks and crannies that Leguizamo uses to his advantage to find books, and books, and even more books to back up all his claims. Lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols work is to be commended as well for its ability to take Leguizamo on all the journeys he must travel to present the world of his stories. From his son’s constantly slamming bedroom door, to distant far off shores and imagined dance parties, then bringing us right back to class again.

At this point in his career John Leguizamo has performed in the more plays than any Latin actor. He’s also had the most one man shows on Broadway by any actor. Leguizamo is a theatrical national treasure of many nations. They’re all inside him. The Mayan warrior. The proud Incan. The peaceful Taino. The outspoken American. He’s a true citizen of the world and he’s on a mission to teach a class we should all take. Now more than ever.

Studio 54
254 West 54th St
New York, NY 10019
https://latinhistorybroadway.com/
212.239.6200
Nov 15 – Feb 4, 2018
$55 –  $249

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Photo credit Joan Marcus.

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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