Under the Radar Festival: 2023 Highlights

Lovers of avant-garde, cutting-edge performing arts in tune with the current pulse rejoice! The Public Theater’s annual theater festival, Under the Radar, is back after a hiatus since its 2020 edition. This year brought some of the most exciting creators making new work locally, nationally, and globally. This year’s UTR Festival sprawled out across various venues beyond the Public’s Astor Place home, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The New York Public Library, and La MaMa, to name those I visited. My final show was a homecoming to Joe’s Pub for New York cabaret artist Salty Brine’s monstrously fun

Madeline Sayet’s WHERE WE BELONG at the Public Theater

Theatre-maker Madeline Sayet straddles many identities that often contrast and sometimes conflict. She's half Mohegan (on her mother's side) and half Jewish (on her father's side). Sayet is also an actress/director and an academic who found joy and solace in escaping through Shakespeare. But she can't shake the painful scars of colonialism that haunts her people's present and flavors their future, where erasure is imminent if the next generation doesn't keep the Mohegan language and traditions alive. It's a heavy burden for a young woman searching for her place in this world and a sense of belonging. In her solo show,

FC Bergman’s 300 el x 50 el x 30 el at BAM Next Wave

How does one describe the foreboding feeling of the calm before the storm? What might you witness if you peeked into the homes of a small community before a raging tempest transpired? In the US and Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) premiere of 300 el x 50 el x 30 el by the daring, provocative Belgian theatre company FC Bergman, you don’t have to guess. Instead, you are granted fly-on-the-wall access to the private moments of ordinary people with quirky and bizarre habits, blissfully unaware of the storm brewing.  The Harvey Theater at BAM Strong is transformed into a quaint European

Public Works’ Musical Adaptation of “As You Like It”: Free Shakespeare in the Park

The 60th anniversary of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park series was memorable. It opened with risk and ended with a reward. The first of the two productions for summer 2022 was Richard III, directed by Robert O'Hara and starring Danai Gurira in the title role. It seemed to be the summer of Richard III, and the choices made by The Public's version and other productions worldwide (notably in Canada and the UK) were the source of many conversations, press articles, and hot debates.  In contrast, it's hard to imagine anything but praise for the delightful, exuberant modern musical

The Butcher Boy: A New Musical at Irish Repertory Theatre

Adaptations are tricky. The best ones manage to cover the key points and honor the tone of the source material without getting bogged down by too many narrative details. These elements must also work well with the tools of the chosen medium. The Butcher Boy, a new musical now playing at Irish Repertory Theatre, achieves the benchmarks of a solid, imaginative adaptation, despite the oddball choice of transforming Patrick McCabe’s acclaimed 1992 novel about a schoolboy’s descent into mischief, madness and murder as the world around him collapses in a small Irish town in the 1960s.  The Butcher Boy features a

Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park: Richard III

It’s important, if not essential, for theatre makers to be ambitious and take risks. Equally crucial, especially in today’s climate, is considering diversity and inclusion when casting. However, when a production tries to tick all the boxes at once, that can muddle the play’s message. The latter is the unfortunate result of the production of Richard III, directed by Robert O’Hara and starring Danai Gurira in the title role. Though the efforts and intentions were admirable and excellent performances were given by all, throwing in everything and the kitchen sink made the show fall short of its possible impact by presenting

Chita Rivera Awards 2022

(For the Full List of 2022 CHITA RIVERA AWARD WINNERS and Red Carpet Photos, see below) The stars with the highest kicks, swishiest hips, dynamite tap skills, and the slickest moves were out for the 2022 edition of the Chita Awards on Monday, June 20. It was the first "Chitas" since 2019 and honored outstanding dance performances and choreography on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and film for the 2020-2022 seasons. Selecting the creme de la dance is never an easy task, but this year the committee had to make their selections from several years and a very dance-heavy return season for Broadway. The

QUINCE: An Unforgettable Immersive Experience Blossoms at The Bushwick Starr

Anyone who has tended a garden (even on a rooftop or fire escape) or owned a houseplant knows that a living thing needs proper care, time, nourishment, and nurturing to grow, flourish and reach its potential. The same is true of a new work of theatre. It does not sprout from the playwright’s head or the director’s vision fully actualized but requires an investment to cultivate the seed and make it bloom. I have seen no finer example of this in the past two years than the journey of the interactive play celebrating modern Mexican American culture playing (on extension) at

Fat Ham at The Public Theater: Succulent Joy Triumphs Over Tragedy

  For a play premiering on Memorial Day weekend, what could feel more festive than a family gathering at a backyard barbecue served with a side of Shakespeare, a heaping portion of pop culture references, simmered in family drama, seasoned with violence and a dash of glitter to taste? Ay, there's the spice rub! Shakespeare's plays have had many adaptations and updated versions that take creative licenses with the Bard's works and themes. A favorite choice is the tale of the brooding, tragic prince with intense and questionable family dynamics. The Guardian recently published a piece examining the obsession that dramatists of stage and

The Accidental Futurist Ensemble: SITI Company’s “The Medium” at BAM

The year is 1993: Bill Clinton becomes president of the US; the World Trade Center is bombed by Islamic Fundamentalists; the FBI raids Branch Davidians, a religious cult in Waco, TX; Russia and the US sign a treaty; an earthquake and tsunami devastate Japan; brush fires ravage Australia; ethnic fighting causes turmoil in Bosnia; Ty introduces plush toys called Beanie Babies; the tech company Intel launches its Premium Processor. And an ensemble-based theater company called SITI Company devises the play The Medium in Toga-Mura, Japan. The Medium returns almost 30 years later to BAM Fisher, Fishman Space from March 15-20. As Shakespeare

Top