Under the Radar Festival 2021: Re-envisioned Virtually

It’s 2021. We made it. Now what? For those of us fortunate enough to have survived (though not without scars) the year that no one could have imagined, we enter the new year less naive and more prepared for the unexpected.  Fortunately, one of the annual delights that kicks off each January with surprisingly fresh performances from local artists and exciting international companies has returned. The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival is back for its 17th triumphant year, albeit differently than before. Like everything else, the festival’s offerings are confined to virtual viewings and one very personal phone call.  The artists

Theater Markers Summit 2020 Offers Investigation & Inspiration Amid Uncertainty

Over a weekend and one bonus day, 103 theater professionals from Broadway, the USA, and worldwide assembled virtually for the most well-attended Theater Makers Summit in the event’s history. Participants from NYC, across the USA, and globally were eagerly hoping to glean some spark of light in a very dark year for the theater industry. The Summit was hosted on the app and web service Whova, which enabled more direct interaction than possible with an in-person event. The community chat rooms, comments, and direct messaging were all abuzz with energetic chatter and networking attempts throughout the Summit. Another benefit provided by the

“The Game of Life” Ushers in Rubin Museum of Art’s Brainwave 2020 on Impermanence

The Rubin Museum of Art has a knack for making their exhibitions of both ancient and contemporary art from the Himalayan region -- and the philosophies and practices that inspired and informed the work -- relevant through compelling interactive engagement that makes the creations and concepts spring to life in ways that are entertaining, thought-provoking and sometimes profound. I should know because I was first lured into the former tenement building-turned-Barney’s store that was transformed into a museum to host the collection of art collectors and entrepreneurs Donald and Shelley Rubin -- who bought their first Tibetan thangka painting with

Radical Adaptations of Dracula & Frankenstein Ignite Classic Stage Company

For as many adaptations and interpretations as there are of the classic gothic horror novels Frankenstein and Dracula, it is hard to imagine two more creative, unique, radical and timely works that deal with the well-known tales and characters than the pair playing in a repertory cycle at Classic Stage Company (CSC). They are also strikingly contrasting works. Both are deeply engaging, provocative and compelling explorations of the source material -- each of which was written in the 1800s, one slightly predating the other near the end of the Victorian era. They remind the audience of timeless themes investigated in

Under the Radar Festival: THE UNKNOWN DANCER IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

When the lights come up, one immediately observes what could only be a silverback gorilla. The gait, the strut, the way he pounds his chest and paces the stage -- anyone who has seen a nature film or visited a zoo would find these distinctive characteristics undeniable. But why is he there, what is this about? Suddenly and unexpectedly, after the attendees have spent some time with the ape, the performer morphs into a couple, then an obnoxious and rowdy child, followed by a gentle yet absent-minded mother, a passionate but perturbed photographer and, finally, an annoyed older man. This

THE BLACK CLOWN Theatricalizes the Experience of Black Americans at the Mostly Mozart Festival

The triumphant, masterful production of The Black Clown—that performed its New York City premiere from July 24-27th as part of the 2019 annual Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival—offered a theatricalized glimpse into the journey and experiences of a Black person in America. When I encountered what bass-baritone Davóne Tines—who performed the title role and adapted the piece along with composer Michael Schachter from Langston Hughes’ poem about a Black man’s resilience against a legacy of oppression—said about The Black Clown, I knew had to witness it firsthand: “When I first read The Black Clown it was like receiving a revelation that

DRAGON SPRING PHOENIX RISE at The Shed is a 21st Century Kung Fu Spectacle

Swords whizzed past heads close enough to cut their opponents’ hair; dancers dropped from or rose to the sky like celestial beings dangling on a mere thread; acrobatic action scenes shifted into nightclub extravaganzas complete with vogueing routines; fire and water danced alongside the performers as elemental partners, adding to the danger and thrills. A dream team of talents was assembled to realize co-conceiver and director Chen Shi-Zheng’s vision that was initially inspired by observing Bruce Lee’s audition tape for his film debut at age 18. All of this and more came together to create Kung Fu spectacle Dragon Spring

A STRANGE LOOP Raises the Bar for Queer Black Representation and Sets a New Standard for Musicals Today

I first encountered A Strange Loop in 2015 at the Musical Theatre Factory when it was still located in a gay porn video warehouse above (the original) Drama Bookstore just around the corner of Port Authority. It was a mixed bag evening with various composers and lyricists trying out their works on performers, both eager to be heard amongst an audience of supportive peers instead of cruel critics. The song, which is the second-to-last 13 o’clock number for A Strange Loop now called “The Memory Song,” featured lyrics sung in rapid speed with mournful wailing by Larry Owens (the unconventional

Mobile Unit’s THE TEMPEST at The Public Theater

The stormy start to May has served as a fitting setting for the debut of The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, that washed up on its home shores near Astor Place after a three-week, 17 stop tour to correction facilities, homeless shelters, libraries and community centers across all five boroughs of New York City. The Mobile Unit really puts the “public” in The Public Theater, whose prestigious productions continue to sell out, garner audience and critical praise and conquer both the commercial (anyone heard of a little historical musical about a dead politician called Hamilton?) and

BEETLEJUICE the Musical on Broadway

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! Cheering his name three times from the rafters wouldn’t be nearly enough to glorify this utterly fantastic stage adaptation. Praise the dark forces that conjured such a demonic delight! Its wild antics and grotesque yet glittery depictions of the underworld have restored lightness, cheek-aching laughter (as well as glimmers of unexpected depth) and unabashed, over-the-top, go-for-broke fun back to Broadway that hasn’t been this good since The Book of Mormon took over the town. It is a crowd-pleasing wonder that’s as irresistible as it is playfully offensive, just like the namesake character, who could have only been

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