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

SOCRATES at THE PUBLIC THEATER

Lecture, exhortation, dissertation, harangue. These are all synonyms for “talking”, which is what the subject of actor/director/playwright Tim Blake Nelson’s new play Socrates --- now playing at The Public Theater extended through June 2nd as the anchor of Onassis USA Festival 2019: Democracy is Coming --- is best known for. In fact, he made a life, death and immortality out of being a relentless orator, so much so that a man born in 470 B.C.E. is still a topic of modern tongues and his tradition of thought, theories and philosophies are taught as required curriculum at any liberal arts school

Diary of One Who Disappeared at BAM Lingers With Themes of Familiarity, Longing and Obsession

Obsession, fixation, unrequited love, chasing the muse and being haunted by a longing that can never fully be realized or consummated, but nevertheless continues to ignite flames of desire and creative sparks, are pervasive themes in Diary of One Who Disappeared. Muziektheater Transparant — a Flemish company devoted to sharing old-meets-new opera and musical theatre expressions for a wide audience — returns to their exploration of the autobiographical tormented love story of Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s enchantment with Kamila Stösslová, a married woman nearly 40 years his junior and from a very different background to whom he wrote over 700

Colin Quinn Red State Blue State at Minetta Lane Theatre Unites a Nation Divided with Humor and Wisdom

Comedian Colin Quinn has been referred to as a “satirical sage from Brooklyn.” It’s an apt title for the performer who took the stage of the Minetta Lane Theatre to a packed house for his new solo show, Red State Blue State. With his scruffy facial hair -- not quite a beard but well past the hour of a 5 o’clock shadow, now with more salt than pepper -- the alumni of MTV, Comedy Central and SNL both looks and acts the part of a wise, witty and wistful observer reflecting on our drastically divided nation without malice, blame or

4:48 PSYCHOSIS Explores the Sounds of Despair, Rage and Hopelessness at Prototype Festival

Great art is meant to bring the viewer into another universe, perhaps allowing them to -- if only fleetingly -- experience previously unimagined scenarios, feelings and worldviews. It has the power and potency to connect us to the broader spectrum of emotions that make up the human condition. But what happens when this art is a semi-autobiographical piece of essentially heightened, poeticized and dramatized non-fiction that could be and has been regarded as “a 75-minute suicide note” (Michael Billington, The Guardian), such as 4:48 Psychosis -- the stark, often brutal, occasionally darkly comedic and deeply unsettling post-mortem work of English

THE PROM on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre

The Prom, now playing at the Longacre Theatre, might just be the show that single-handedly puts the Broadway back into Broadway musicals. With rare yet notable exceptions, most of them Tony winners -- Fun Home, Hamilton, Come From Away, The Band’s Visit and Dear Evan Hansen (the latter of which The Prom is a close cousin of but the cheerier, more bubbly sort) -- most musicals being produced today are based on branded properties: film or book adaptations, jukebox creations where the songs are guaranteed to be memorable hits (they already are) or pop culture icons (Spiderman: Turn Off The

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