For Some…The Future Was Female: 2 Reinvented Icons

  Hopefully, with a lot of numerousness, the truer story of women in history and the arts will continue.  #MeToo and COVID partially started this reckoning, and these two recent works are a sampling While these icons experienced struggle, they were white and privileged.  There are plenty of reasons to stop right there, but their accomplishments - one documented, one speculative - led to a greater goods for all.  Creativity is a non-gender specific word.   New Camerata Opera's production of The Infinite Energy of Ada Lovelace by Kamala Sankaram.   April 7-10, 2022. Dixon Place Theater (161A Chrystie Street, NYC) Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852)'s backstory

IRT Theater presents Arthur Schnitzler’s ‘Round Dance’

  Does love make the world go round?  Is there such a thing as a random encounter?  In 1897, Viennese playwright Arthur Schnitzler asked these questions in Reigen (Round Dance). which in turn was questioned by censors.  Yet what was considered pornographic in 1897 is now rather tame - but still audacious - as translator/director H. Clark Kee shows in The Round Dance at the IRT Theatre. Schnitzler's plot device is deceptively simple as he reveals the complexities of emotional and physical love in one act and several scenes.  A Hooker (Ruth Guimera) turns tricks with a Soldier (J.P. Stewart).  He then puts the

J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company’s Revival of ‘A Day in Hollywood/A Night at the Ukraine at Theatre Row

It was hard not thinking about what was happening in Ukraine (the "The" was dropped when independence was declared in 1991) when J2 Spotlight Theater's captivating revival of A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine opened last weekend and finishing up its sold out run at Theatre Row on March 6.  However, it's important to remember that the infrequently seen 1980 Dick Vosburgh, Frank Lazarus and Jerry Herman musical doesn't have a Marx named Karl, but those named Groucho (David B. Friedman), Harpo (Suzanne Slade) and Chico (Mike Cefalo).  This love letter to 1930s Hollywood is about as far from the myopic disaster Carnegie

‘Space Dogs’ Blast Off at MCC Theatre

The Jetsons had Astro.  Doctor Who K-9 and Karvanista.  Boxey adopted robotic Daggit after the first Battlestar Galactica survived the Cylon attack but the poor kid's pet didn't.  The original Enterprise crew ended up with two dogs (one good, one bad and both in unintentionally hilarious costumes) in The Enemy Within.  Science fiction has long been a dog's world, but so was science at one testosterone-fueled time.  In what was not such a Cold War secret, the Soviets used/abused dogs during the Space Race (1955-1975).  The best-known stray was Laika ("Barker"), the first earther to orbit the planet in 1957.  Her dedication to the

Revisiting 2 Icons: A Dance Solo and a Legacy

Recipes, coffee franchises, fashion, even outfits worn to museum galas are labeled "iconic."  The performing arts have no shortage of them either.  Towards the end of 2021, two very different ones who deservingly earned that moniker received renewed interest, partially untied by themes of female empowerment. It was the audience at the December 4th evening performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre who helped make it perfect.  They willingly showed vaccination cards, applauded the "mask on" announcement and cheered non-stop.  To quote the Gospel lyrics heard at the end of the evening in Revelations, "There is trouble all over this world." 

United Solo Theatre Festival 2021 presents Lynn Needle’s SIX SOLOS – Legend, Myth and Nature

  Following this unprecedented time of isolation, the United Solo Theatre Festival 2021 is back at Theatre Row.  On October 28, choreographer, teacher, and gifted visual memoirist Lynn Needle performed SIX SOLOS - Legend, Myth and Nature. From her brief, intense on-stage warmup, Needle effortlessly connected to the audience providing deeply "interpersonal" reflections on each dance.  The "Legend" and "Myth" part of the program honored her mentors  Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993) and Claudia Gitelman  (1946-2012).  As a member of the Nikolais Dance Theatre in the 1980s-1990s, she was one of two female dancers who performed Noumenon (1953).  Nikolais (along with longtime collaborator and partner Murray Louis [1926-2016]) was a groundbreaking

Bated Breath Theatre Company presents ‘Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec’ in Greenwich Village

  Part street theatre, part walking tour and all fun, Bated Breath Theatre Company's, Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec uses the West Village as its stage.  Extended through November 22nd, the first live NYC stage production since COVID-19 shut theatres and disrupted everything is a socially-distanced (temperature check, audience is no larger than six, masks on at all times), journey through the artist's life and work. The Moulin Rouge's most famous visual memoirist is also the subject of Bated Breath's suspended show Unmaking Toulouse-Lautrec, both conceived and directed by Executive Artistic Director Mara Lieberman. The artist's Belle Époque Paris makes for passionate theatre material.  In addition to creating

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble Presents ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’

  Ivan Ilyich Golovin died a hard death.  Judgement of the Imperial Court official's soul is left to his creator - Leo Tolstoy - whose edicts are more dogmatic than any Supreme Being.  One of the finest examples of short fiction, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, has been adapted by Stephen Sharkey and stars Craig Smith in Phoenix Theatre Ensemble's production at The Paradise Theater. The only departure from the 1886 novella is that the dead man speaks for himself.  Tolstoy's third-person narrative is both emotionally and physically clinical, which is why it's so hard to shake.  Director Leo Lion introduces audience members to Ivan

The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. presents ‘a photograph/lovers in motion’ by Ntozake Shange,

Imana Breux as Michael. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

  Neither Michael (Imana Breaux) nor Sean David (Adrain Washington) would recognize their present-day San Francisco hometown.  The aspiring artists' relationship, told in Ntozake Shange's  a photograph/lovers in motion, develops during the late 1970s-early 1980s before SF's gentrification for the super rich and high tech.  While SF is not a "character",characters define themselves by it.  A rare revival of Shange's 1977 play is presented by The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.'s  plays through the end February at  Theatre St. Marks. Directed by Shange's sister and long-time collaborator Ifa Bayeza, a photograph/lovers in motion has the same lyricism found in her landmark for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ at New York City Center

Matthew Ball as The Swan. Photo: Johan Persson

  "DO NOT FEED THE SWANS" reads the sign posted at the edge of the lake The Prince (James Lovell) staggers towards.  Drunk, unhappy and unloved, he's ready to end it all when The Swan (Matthew Ball) who has haunted his dreams appears.  Like a real swan, he and his flock are beautiful.  Further defining their species and most unlike the traditional ballet kind, they are aggressive.  This flock will bite off whole hands of those daring feeding them.  Guided by the moonlight, Tchaikovsky's music and Sir Matthew Bourne's spectacular choreography, the Prince and Swan form an unbreakable union defying both

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