Oscar E Moore

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THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME – Alex Sharp: from Juilliard to Broadway

October 12th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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Based on the 2003 bestselling mystery novel by Mark Haddon of the same title, this challenging play adapted by Simon Stephens and precisely directed by Marianne Elliot (who also directed WAR HORSE) has recently opened to mostly rapturous reviews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

It is a production of The National Theatre brought over from England and recast with American actors.  First and foremost is the Broadway debut of Alex Sharp a recent graduate of Juilliard who by chance and talent got the role of his thus far young lifetime – that of Christopher Boone.

He is phenomenal as a mathematical genius with Asperger’s syndrome who cannot lie and would love to be an astronaut.  Christopher is 15 years 3 months and 2 days old at the start of this challenging role.  A role where he commands the stage, in fact never leaving it except for the twenty minute intermission.  It is a demanding role and Taylor Trensch appears at the matinee performances Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday which I find a rather strange decision.

Alex Sharp has done his homework and works extremely hard during the first act building a model railway – laying down tracks and adding cars and trees and stations as he deftly exhibits the symptoms of Asperger’s as he relentlessly attempts to discover who killed Wellington – a neighbor’s dog – much to the annoyance of his dad Ed (Ian Barford) and Judy (Enid Graham) his mum who have their own marital discord erupting.

With his repetitive behavior, lack of eye contact, awkward movements and mannerisms, his particular love of everything red and his aversion to social interaction and terrible mood swings he finally discovers who killed Wellington and that leads him on another quest in Act Two when he travelers alone to London with his dad’s credit card and his pet rat Toby in search of the answer to another mystery.

We view the world through Christopher’s eyes and his voice.  He has written it all down and it is spoken aloud by his special education teacher Siobhan (Francesca Faridany) who suggests doing it as a play.  The play that we are seeing.

The technological aspects are stupendous – especially in Act II.  You will be amazed by the lighting effects (Paule Constable) video design (Finn Ross) and the human element movements choreographed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett on the simple grid-like set by Bunny Christie that bring Christopher’s mind to life.

The entire ensemble works at acting and moving set pieces and making Christopher float through the universe and his mum swimming.  Especially fine is his dad who finds dealing with Christopher challenging as well and eventually coming to beautiful terms with it.

And so I am amazed and bewildered that I didn’t particularly care for the show with all of its incredible pyrotechnic visuals.  Admired it, yes.  Loved it, no.  I found it lacking in something and I have been trying to discover what that is.  Perhaps it’s the alienation factor I felt and/or the abusive treatment that Christopher has to deal with.  Or the math.  It’s still a mystery to me.

www.curiousonbroadway.com

Photos:  Joan Marcus

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YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU – One big happy family

October 10th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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Wake up and smell the roses.  Be happy.  Follow your dream.  Don’t pay taxes.  Just go for it.  Well the Sycamore family is doing just that in this timeless and ageless revival (by special arrangement with the Roundabout Theatre Company) of the 1936 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU which has lost none of its luster over the years and is now cause for unbridled laughter at the Longacre Theatre on 48th Street.

Messrs. Kaufman and Hart had a lot on their collective collaborative minds – most of it amazingly still pertinent and still very amusing.  Eccentric characters.  Farcical situations so well constructed that there is always a big payoff of laughter.  And laughter is what makes audiences merry.   Makes us feel good.  There is nothing like hearing an audience roar with laughter and laugh they do time after time as the momentum of the zany plot unfurls with the increasingly farcical antics of the characters build to fever pitch.

Penelope Sycamore (a ditsy Kristine Nielsen) is a would-be playwright and painter.  Her spouse Paul (Mark Lynn Baker) putters around the basement making fireworks with Mr. DePinna (Patrick Kerr).  Their daughter Essie (a dead pan, en pointe and very amusing Annaleigh Ashford) is a would-be ballerina who “stinks” as described by her Russian instructor Boris Kolenkhov (a riotous Reg Rogers).  Essie is married to Ed (the elastic Will Brill – a nervous printer who makes masks and plays the xylophone while looking like a human slinky.  Their housekeeper Rheba (Crystal Dickinson) and her beau Donald (Marc Damon Johnson) tend this looney household headed by Grandpa Martin Vanderhof (the great James Earl Jones) who in true Dr. Phil fashion dispenses his wisdom of relaxing and being happy – having given up his job years ago to simply enjoy life – after all the best things in life are free.

An actress that Mrs. Sycamore has met on a bus - Gay Wellington is deftly played by the daffy Julie Halston who manages to get quite drunk and pass out and out and out.

Alice Sycamore (Rose Byrne – looking lovely in her Alice Blue Gown by Jane Greenwood) is the sanest person living under the eaves of the cluttered two story revolving home designed by David Rockwell (one wonders how the Sycamore’s collected all those items during the depression that hang on the walls and fill the shelves.)

Alice works and has fallen for a Wall Street boss’s son Tony Kirby (Fran Kranz - who has reciprocal feelings) and has done everything in her power to keep him from meeting her family but the show must go on and all three show up – on the wrong night – Tony and Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (Byron Jennings and Johanna Day – a perfectly uptight and snobbish couple).  As you can imagine, all hell breaks loose.

Did I mention that Grandpa has been receiving letters from the government for not paying his taxes and is being investigated by Henderson (Karl Kenzler)?  The outcome of this plot line is pure genius.  There’s more.

Making her grand entrance in Act III as the Grand Duchess Olga Katrina – a displaced Russian Royal who now is a waitress at Childs Restaurant is the radiant and comically gifted Elizabeth Ashley in all her glory.  She is the cherry on top of this delicious sundae directed by Scott Ellis with panache and precision.  Original music by Jason Robert Brown adds greatly to the overall enjoyment of this first rate treat that encourages us to see the bright side of everything – belly laughs included.

www.youcanttakeitwithyoubroadway.com

Photos:  Joan Marcus

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INDIAN INK – Stoppard’s romantic and mystifying journey back to the past

October 6th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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A bit of British imperialism is on view at the Laura Pels Theatre in what started out as a Tom Stoppard “clash of cultures” radio play in 1991 “In the Native State” that morphed into the retitled 1995 production of INDIAN INK that is now being presented by The Roundabout Theatre.  It is long on rhetoric and short on “RASA” – the “it” factor that makes a creative work “pulse.”  After all it is Tom Stoppard who seldom knows when to stop.

It’s a lethargic, complex period, period piece that is set simultaneously in Jummapur India (1930) and England and India fifty years later where Eleanor Swan (the indomitable Rosemary Harris) reminisces over the letters of her older sister Flora Crewe (a fine and refined Romola Garai) – a scandalous poet with a raunchy past when she traveled to India in 1930 for health reasons.

Or was she also looking for an excuse for another romantic adventure – this time with the shy and nervous Indian artist who loves everything British – Nirad Das (an excellent Firdous Bamji) who paints her portrait while she flirts and writes looking ravishing in her frocks designed by Candice Donnelly?

Eldon Pike (Neal Huff) is digging around for information that he wants to include in a biography of Flora – he is obsessed with her – after the publication of her poems and letters.  Her sister isn’t too keen on supplying any further information.  Or does she not know the truth?  INDIAN INK is in part about how we perceive the people we think we know.

The son of the artist, Anish Das (a fine Bhavesh Patel) also shows up at Eleanor’s doorstep.  The plot thickens like the fog in London as we go back and forth with characters from both eras on stage together – it’s a fine job of keeping the traffic moving that director Carey Perloff pulls off superbly.

She is aided greatly by the unit set of Neil Patel and the beautiful lighting of Robert Wierzel.

The ensemble cast is spot on but do we really need that scene at the British Club that opens Act II – prolonging the almost three hour romantic excursion of Flora with the most dapper and more English than English Lee Aaron Rosen as David Durance of the gin and polo set?

Assisting Mr. Pike in his quest for the real Flora is Nick Choksi as Dilip – who reenergizes the stage and longwinded second act that almost derails the journey.  He is marvelous with his sparkling eyes and wit whenever he appears.

Also keep an eye on the servant Nazrul (Omar Maskati) who manages to steal a few brief moments for himself.

In this economical but attractive production of INDIAN INK you may learn something of the history of the Brits in India but Flora Crewe remains an enigma as the plot evaporates in the heat of the British colony striving for independence.  Through Nov. 30th

Photos:  Joan Marcus

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www.roundabouttheatre.org

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ROCOCO ROUGE – COMPANY XIV’s aspects of love with a twist

September 21st, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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It’s like stepping into another world.  A fantasy world created by director/choreographer Austin McCormick, the new Ziegfeld of Off-Broadway.  A world of debauchery, provocative pasties, bejeweled jock straps and bare buttocks where one can celebrate with champagne the inventive, inspired and insane creativity of Mr. McCormick in the intimate salon at 428 Lafayette Street – the new oasis of COMPANY XIV – directly across from The Public Theater.

It is the perfect space for ROCOCO ROUGE.  Where arias meet rap.  Where Handel meets Beyonce.  Where Carmen rocks with Peggy Lee and where the inevitable Can-Can finale causes the packed house to cheer.

After last season’s sensational NUTCRACKER ROUGE expectations were high.  Mr. McCormick and COMPANY XIV mostly do not disappoint.  His is a rare combination of styles and music that somehow come together to entertain without a plot.  Just magnificent voices and beautifully toned bodies on stage strutting the period balletic steps - one of Mr. McCormack’s trademarks - and performing numbers reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil.

Suspended from the rafters is a hoop where two beautiful semi-naked bodies sinuously engage in a semi-sexual encounter that is balletic and ballsy.  One of the highlights of the program SONG TO THE MOON sung by a formidable Shelly Watson - the hostess for the evening and magnificently performed by Allison Ulrich and Steven Trumon Gray.

Other aspects of love include the always riveting Laura Careless dancing to Handel in Endless Pleasure while Brett Umlauf effortlessly adds silken vocals; Cyr Wheel Artist, Courtney Giannone repeating her stand out spinning from NUTCRACKER ROUGE.  And Davon Rainey artistically stripping to “Is That All There Is?” while lip syncing to the live vocals of Shelly Watson – who can sing just about any style and range.

The excellent guitarist Rob Mastrianni adds to the second “Break Interlude” – an excuse to order more drinks served by the cordial and charming wait staff.

The costumes designed by Zane Pihlstrom are spectacular, worthy of a Ziegfeld production.  Lighting by Jeanette Yew is artistically perfect.  My only wish is that the sound could be better so that we could enjoy to the fullest extent the soothing vocals of Katrina Cunningham.

Many more surprises await you – I don’t want to spoil all the fun by divulging them.  Tickets are $55 – 125 through November 2nd. www.COMPANYXIV.COM

Photos:  Phillip Van Nostrand

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THE OTHER MOZART – In her brother’s shadow

June 26th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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There were two Mozarts.  Two child prodigies.  The famous Amadeus (Wolfie) and his older, overshadowed sister Maria Anna (Nannerl).  Maria Anna started playing the harpsichord at eight and by age twelve was an accomplished and acclaimed pianist throughout Europe with a seven year old Wolfgang tagging along – vying for attention and then exploding onto the musical scene with his genius genes that were shared by his set aside and soon to be forgotten sister.  Until now.

Sylvia Milo a Renaissance woman herself has written a fascinating, surreal and theatrical one woman homage to Maria Anna – THE OTHER MOZART.  She is performing this seventy five minute “true and untold” story at the HERE Arts Center 145 Sixth Avenue – based on family letters that are strewn across and concealed inside the period eighteen foot diameter dress that fills the stage.

Itself a work of art by Magdalena Dabrowska and Miodrag Guberinic covered with sheet music and conceling miniature props that cleverly enhance the story.  A metal framework complete with panniers enable Miss Milo to fit herself into the dress when called for – a metaphor for her being imprisoned for being a woman with an enormous talent and not allowed to use it - as women were only supposed to sew and cook and find a husband.  They were not to think, not to perform and not allowed to express their innate talents as Maria Anna’s mother keeps harping on.

Miss Milo is quite mesmerising.  With expressive arms and hands that match her expressive and impressive ability to convey her brother, father and mother – among others - with vocal dexterity.  She is also quite the vixen with a sharp sense of humor.

Almost dancelike she narrates the tale appearing sometimes to be a marionette – the invisible strings being manipulated by her father – not allowing her to blossom while his son (and her younger brother) becomes more and more famous leaving her to languish at home, bored and frustrated.  Sylvia Milo is breathtakingly beguiling as Maria Anna.

Original music by Nathan Davis and Phyllis Chen partner with the sublime sounds of Wolfgang.  Great lighting design by Joshua Rose and a wonderful do atop the head of Miss Milo by Courtney Bednarowski are perfect adornments.  Directed by Isaac Byrne – a wonderful collaboration with his creative team is the result that begs to be seen.

Maria Anna Mozart was resigned to her fate as a woman.  She was strong willed.  Talented.  But alas she was a woman.  Just imagine if she had been born a man.  Would she then have eclipsed Amadeus and not been a mere footnote to his illustrious career?  Through July 12th.

NOTE:  At the performance I attended the show started twenty minutes late – without any explanation or apology.  I was not amused.  However, Sylvia Milo and the production itself more than made up for any inconvenience.

Also please note that the understudy Julia Rosa Stockl will appear at certain performances.

www.TheOtherMozart.com

www.here.org

Photos:  Peter Griesser & Charlotte Dobre

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HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME – Hip-Hop RAP at a shrunken Palace

June 20th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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Tupac Shakur.  Palace Theatre.  Broadway’s newest odd couple.  What’s really odd is that the producers of this new hip-hop-rap musical have redesigned the orchestra section of the Palace Theatre – at what must have been a considerable expense – to make it more intimate.  Losing about half the number of seats in the process.  We now have “stadium seating” – the seats are no larger however nor are they more comfortable.  Only closer to what is happening on stage.

And what is happening on the black bare bones stage with a few movable steps standing in as the stoops of the “hood” has some very mixed results.  A bit of background.

For those uninitiated – myself included – Tupac Shakur has sold over 75 million albums.  His rise to fame as a poet and actor (circa 1991-1995) with his very special brand of hip-hop-rap was intensely passionate and political – touching upon the plight of the niggers (the show uses this word freely) in his East Harlem ghetto neighborhood, their trouble with each other and the whites, peace, love, sex, gangs, poverty, violence and hope.  All written while in his twenties.

He was an angry, militant young man who had a high regard for his mother and all that she did for him.  He was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas when he was 25.  He was born of June 16th 1971.  HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME opened on June 19th 2014 – a very belated birthday gift from the dedicated creative team.

I suppose he would be honored by this tribute to his soul and his music.  It is claimed that this is not a bio-musical.  But all of the songs used are biographical – coming from the man himself – his passionate beliefs bared in rap.

All of his stories are shoe horned into a new book by Todd Kreidler who has moved the ghetto to MY BLOCK in a Mid-Western industrial city.   With an assortment of characters to voice Tupac’s thoughts.  The time is now.  The songs are from the 90’s - given new arrangements and orchestrations by Daryl Waters.  Unfortunately there is little to be done with gangsta rap.  The rhythms pulsate as the words spew forth.  However Tupac’s themes of entrapment, despair and pain are timeless.

Kenny Leon, a magnificent director who has just received the Tony for the acclaimed revival of A RASIN IN THE SUN (which has just closed) helms this large and very talented cast.  He seems out of his element here directing a musical and does not receive much help from his choreographer Wayne Cilento.

Musical numbers fade out.  The show doesn’t catch fire as we follow John (Saul Williams) who has just gotten out of jail and tries to get back his life in the old hood (that is dealing with the aftermath of a tragic shooting), attempting to reconnect and get a job at the garage that is owned by whites.  Griffy (Ben Thompson) is running the place as his dad is dying in a hospice as a homeless street preacher (John Earl Jelks) wanders around with megaphone and Bible.

John attempts to rekindle the sparks with Corinne (Saycon Sengbloh) a fine “Unconditional Love” - the next best thing that you’ll get to a traditional song.

Christopher Jackson plays friend Vertus who gets to sing the best number “Dear Mama” to Tonya Pinkins.

But the real revelation is Ben Thompson who gives great meaning to the rap number “California Love” strumming on his guitar atop a purple Cadillac newly refurbished at the garage. He puts meaning and emotion behind the words – he doesn’t just rap them out.

As I left the show I had to walk past all those empty orchestra seats that reminded me of the rows of headstones at Arlington Cemetery.  An eerie ending to HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME.

www.hollerifyahearme.com

Photos: Joan Marcus

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JUST JIM DALE – Then and Now - a revival of sorts

June 4th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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Two awards:  The first for most original shut-your-cell-phone-off warning and the second for outstanding stamina and longevity in the grand manner of British Music Hall entertainment go to Jim Smith aka Jim Dale – singer, songwriter (lyric for “Georgy Girl”) - Shakespearean actor, Broadway star (Barnum, Scapino) limerick man and all around raconteur who was born with show business DNA and hungry, make that famished, to escape the confines of a suffocating life in a shoe factory to go on and on and on entertaining audiences every charming tap step, song and joke along the way.

Jim Dale learned some of these jokes and dance steps back then at the age of seventeen.  He is now a ripe seventy nine and you would never know the difference.  Lithe and limber still, he is strutting his life across the stage of The Laura Pels Theatre in JUST JIM DALE – a musical memoir of his life thus far.  He isn’t the least bit tired.  Some of his material is.

However, Mr. Dale obviously loves to entertain his audience.  He is on stage with just a grand piano played to perfection by Mark York for almost two hours – no intermission – sipping once in a while from a small cup – never once out of breath as he jogs through his most memorable achievements as a performer.  And reader of the Harry Potter audio series with a slew of voices to match the slew of characters created by J. K. Rowling.

Mr. Dale has written this show and my one quibble is that it could be a bit shorter – perhaps by ten minutes.  Some tales, as charming and interesting as they are, begin to repeat themselves in words and actions.  That being said, I think you will have a most enjoyable time in the company of Jim Dale.

As directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. JUST JIM DALE is a time capsule of a performing style of a bygone era by a man who originated these many numbers and is still able to perform them magnificently.

In the blink of an eye he is performing “The Lambeth Walk” – from Me and My Girl (1937) then he is Barnum – singing a tongue twister of a song a la Danny Kaye – then a monologue of Shakespearean quotes in the style of Victor Borge that is brilliant and then a tidbit from Noel Coward as a hen-pecked husband escaping from his nagging wife and daughter and then an audience participation excerpt from JOE EGG.  It’s a master class of how to go from getting titters, to giggles, to guffaws and then applause.

Some jokes are groaners – but Mr. Dale delivers them with perfect comic timing that make them seem fresh and not merely recycled.  Jim Dale loves his audience and his audience loves him in return in this easy going stroll down memory lane in JUST JIM DALE - a revival of his life in the biz called show.

Limited run through August 10th.  A Roundabout production.

Photos:  Joan Marcus

www.roundabouttheatre.org

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THE CITY OF CONVERSATION amazes at Lincoln Center

May 11th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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Once in a blue moon an actress has the good fortune to be cast in a career defining role that she is ready, willing and more than able to take advantage of.  Jan Maxwell has been given this wonderful gift by playwright Anthony Giardina in THE CITY OF CONVERSATION that has just opened – and been extended (rightfully so) – at The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center.  She is fantastic.

The role is that of the glamorous, smart, sophisticated and lethal Hester Ferris – a liberal/activist/ hostess (and controlling mother) who makes the most of her gorgeous Georgetown townhouse (another classic design by John Lee Beatty) by giving political deal making dinners, bringing together those opposing Senators and such and allowing their opposing ideas to be hashed over, over brandy and cigars with the hope of persuading them to be swayed – one way or the other - in the process.

One such dinner is on the menu the day that Hester’s son Colin (Michael Simpson) whom she has been “grooming” from day one, unexpectedly arrives back from London armed with his ruthless fiancée Anna Fitzgerald (Kristen Bush) in September 1979 – during the Carter Presidency.

Guests for the evening include George Mallonee (John Aylward) conservative Senator from Kentucky and his wife Carolyn (Barbara Garrick) whose tongue has been sharpened for the event, Hester’s long time married boyfriend Chandler Harris - D. VA. (Kevin O’Rourke) who is seeking a VP place on Ted Kennedy’s ticket and her sister Jean Swift (Beth Dixon) who acts as secretary, maid and bottle washer.  I’ve left out “chief cook” as there is never much food in the house as per Hester’s request (never fully explained).  Why Aunt Jean stays and puts up with this is also never fully explained.  But I quibble.

Politics and family are dished up with wit and zingers.  Deftly directed by Doug Hughes.  The dialogue is fast, taut and at times furious. We soon discover that Anna is as conniving and sharp tongued as Hester with strong political ambitions that are on the opposite side of Hester’s agenda, bringing to mind another opportunist - Eve Harrington (ALL ABOUT EVE).  Sparks fly and the fight is on.  Round one ends with Anna securing a job with Mallonee.

Act II – October 1987 – The Reagan Presidency - finds a dismayed Hester lovingly doing day care for Colin and Anna’s six year old son Ethan (Luke Niehaus) who likes bouncing his ball, running around inside the house and watching Cinderella - while secretly writing a letter to block the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court – which is at odds with her son and Anna’s political agenda.

More sparks fly as they verbally spar.  Anna threatens to take Ethan away from grandma’s care – never to be seen again – if the letter isn’t destroyed.  What’s a stubborn hostess who is losing ground fast but with her principles still intact to do?

Fast forward to January 2009 – The Obama Inauguration – a grown up and openly gay (I didn’t see this coming) Ethan – age 27 played also by Michael Simpson beautifully - unexpectedly drops in with his boyfriend Donald Logan (Phillip James Brannon) who just so happens to be black, just as young and an historian - to visit his estranged grandmother – a now physically frail but still strong willed Hester and Aunt Jean for a reconciliation of sorts.  Jan Maxwell’s transformation is awesome.  The final moments are touching and will bring tears.

THE CITY OF CONVERSATION is an entertaining and gripping examination of how far one will go to prove a point.  Prove a point and lose a family.

Nice work Mr. Giardina to start off the new theatrical season. Through July 6th.

www.lct.org

Photos:  Stephanie Berger

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THE LOVESONG OF ALFRED J. HITCHCOCK – the mind inside the man

May 9th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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In this somber, strangely poetic, esoteric and dull as dishwater play by David Rudkin and directed by Jack McNamara (as if he were wearing blinders) THE LOVESONG OF ALFRED J. HITCHCOCK – a riff on the T.S. Eliot poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock - is two hours of prolonged torture reminding one of Marat/Sade.

It aspires to make some sort of tragic Shakespearian hero out of the iconic film director of such classics as Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo and Strangers on a Train.  Better to rent one of these films than to catch this opus which is part of the Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.

This limited engagement, through May 25th – would be fodder for those interested in what was going through the mind of the master if only it were more interesting with at least a modicum of entertainment.  Does mental abuse make a genius?

Mr. Hitchcock (an unconvincing Martin Miller) was also funny.  Scary yes, but with a droll, dry sense of humor that is absent in this production with the exception of three, no make that two jokes in Act II as he struggles to come up with the motivations of his actors and the plot of a film he is working on with an American writer (Tom McHugh).  Here he is a prime candidate for the funny farm.

An excellent Roberta Kerr gets to chew the scenery (what little there is of it) playing his dragon of a mother Emma who instilled “fear” in her little boy and his wife Alma (his severest critic – that is, until now) who is attempting to write a book that might be titled “My Life with a Serial Killer”.

Poor Hitch was obsessed with his weight – having been jeered at by others but continued his love of food – as well as his muddled relationship with women.  Racked with guilt we discover his obsession with religion and we even get to witness his “confession” – which only makes us want to flee the theatre all the faster.

Anthony Wise portrays a Jesuit Teacher, Priest and Stranger on a train.

The short, staccato words and phrases do little to help and their repetition tends to make one fall asleep.  I kept anticipating someone yelling “CUT!” which would bring to a close this ill- conceived character study that began its life as a 1993 radio play…

www.newperpectives.co.uk

www.59E59.org

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Photo:  Carol Rosegg

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FORBIDDEN BROADWAY Comes Out Swinging - knocks ‘em dead at The Davenport

May 6th, 2014 by Oscar E Moore
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Can you imagine if Gerard Alessandrini wasn’t an out of work actor thirty years ago?  His creative, sharply witty and blistering expose of the blemishes of Broadway musical revue– FORBIDDEN BROADWAY would never have been born.

And now thirty years later, emerging in its newest incarnation FORBIDDEN BROADWAY – Comes Out Swinging (and boy do they mean it) - at the newly refurbished DAVENPORT THEATRE – where it sparkles like a treasure chest filled with diamonds.  It is immense fun.  And knowing the show’s reference points make it twice as much fun.  No one is safe.

With a quartet of players (Carter Calvert, Mia Gentile, Scott Richard Foster and Marcus Stevens) blessed with outstanding comic timing, an ability to mimic the multitude of stars represented, terrific voices and the dexterity to manage hand held microphones - we are bombarded with Mr. Alessandrini’s take on the present and recently departed Broadway scene with its extended family represented by the television live special of THE SOUND OF MUSIC included, re-writing the lyrics to the famous tunes to suit his own satiric purpose.  How could he resist lampooning Carrie Underwood?  Or pointing out the corporate take-overs rampant on the Great White Way?

Mr. A has the courage to say what many people think but are afraid to say.  Bless him!  And he says it with a sometimes scathing wit that is based in truth - the whole truth and nothing but - which makes it all so deliciously amusing.  That is, if you are not the target of his barbed arrows.

The other stars of the production include the expert pianist David Caldwell, who keeps things humming along like a well-tuned engine as the actors quick change characters, fabulous right on wigs (Bobbie Cliffton Zlotnik) and amazingly elaborate costumes (Dustin Cross/Philip Heckman) and director Phillip George who has also provided some snappy dialogue (along with his co-director Mr. A.)

Highlights include everything.  And I won’t give any of the specifics away - they must be heard for the first time for full effect.

If I must I will point out Mr. Foster’s Robert from BRIDGES, Frankie Valli JERSEY BOYS, Sylvester Stallone ROCKY, Steve Kazee ONCE and Alan Cumming CABARET.  Mia’s Patina Miller PIPPIN, Cristin Milioti ONCE, Audra McDonald THE SOUND OF MUSIC and Stark Sands KINKY BOOTS.  Then we have Carter Calvert as Andrea Martin PIPPIN, Fran Drescher CINDERELLA, Francesca BRIDGES, Carole King BEAUTIFUL, Carrie Underwood THE SOUND OF MUSIC and Liza.  Mr. Stevens shines as Matthew Warchus Trunchbull MATILDA, Jason Robert Brown, JASON ROBERT BROWN, Andy Karl ROCKY, Woody Allen BULLETS and the amazing Mandy Patinkin.

There are more laughs per minute than any other production on or off Broadway.  Who could ask for anything more?  Two Acts.  Almost two hours.  Too funny for words.

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Photos:  Carol Rosegg

www.forbiddenbroadway.com

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