Oscar E Moore

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SUNSET BOULEVARD – Revival starring Glenn Close – a magic in the making moment

February 18th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore
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I can’t ever remember witnessing a world famous star or anyone for that matter eliciting such a thunderous and prolonged ovation as Glenn Close did on Thursday (2/16/2017) evening after singing “As If We Never Said Goodbye” as Norma Desmond in The English National Opera Production of SUNSET BOULEVARD – the Andrew Lloyd Webber revival now at the Palace Theatre through June 25th.

Everything clicked.  All the stars aligned as she entered in a stunning black and white outfit (one of many eye popping ensembles designed by Anthony Powell) to meet Cecil B. DeMille (Paul Schoeffler) mistakenly thinking he wants to film her comeback (rather her “return”) in a screenplay she has written starring herself after being absent and mostly forgotten in Hollywood after being the reigning Queen of the Silent Movies – where facial expressions were paramount in telling the story.

She is overwhelmed by her reception once the “extras” realize who she is.  What she was and what she has meant to the industry.  She sits.  She becomes emotional. Slowly one by one the sound stage lights focus on her.  It is truly a magic in the making moment.  She is young again.  She is a star once more as she hesitantly begins what turns out to be the highlight of this production.  The long ovation is well deserved.  It is the reason you should not miss this once in a lifetime performance.

It takes great courage and stamina and extraordinary talent to tackle the demanding role of Norma Desmond.  For the second time.  Glenn Close won a Tony for her performance twenty three years ago.  She has now returned older and wiser and more than spectacular.  Watch her descent into madness with complete fascination.

A bit shaky in Act I receiving star entrance applause and a mini ovation for her performance of the other hit song from the show “With One Look” we tend to overlook that the book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton are not up to the original screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett upon which they based this almost sung through version.

Her supporting players are all more than adequate without having that certain charisma to make them special.  Norma’s boy-toy Joe Gillis (Michael Xavier) a handsome, broke, down and almost out screenwriter with a great voice is surprisingly bland as narrator of the tale, her butler Max (Fred Johanson) excels with his “The Greatest Star of All” and Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaeffer who works at the studio and falls for Joe makes the best of what she has to work with which isn’t much.

Director Lonny Price has come up with a Hollywood Sound Stage bare bones concept – Set design (James Noone) with a 40 piece orchestra in full view reminding us of an Encores! Production.  Opulent it is not but it works.   The sound doesn’t.  The lush music sounds recorded.  What a shame.

Some vintage black and white film projections add some nice nostalgic flavor to the mix.

Andrew Lloyd Weber’s score is quite wonderful to hear but certain aspects of a disappointing Act I need to be endured as we await the return to stage center of Glenn Close whose commanding performance is sublime.  We wish she could be in every scene.  After all that’s what the people out there in the dark are paying top price to see.  Just ask Norma Desmond.

www.sunsetboulevardthemusical.com

Photos:  Joan Marcus

Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com

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MAN FROM NEBRASKA – Past Pulitzer Prize finalist at Second Stage Theatre

February 16th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore
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It’s not a traditional play.  More of an odyssey.  A man searching for “something” – a man who has been married, happily it seems until the routine of married life wears thin.  Is he looking for an escape clause or has he lost his faith in God?

The latter is what he asserts after a few very brief cinematic scenes with limited dialogue in Tracey Letts surreal production of MAN FROM NEBRASKA at Second Stage Theatre.

The man is Ken Carpenter (Reed Birney).  His wife Nancy (Annette O’Toole).  Without these two exceptional actors – mostly and beautifully acting the subtext (what is unsaid) under the fine direction of David Cromer this odyssey would simply flake away.

They are seemingly in a rut.  Hardly speaking to one another.  Driving, eating, attending mass.  His extremely sick mother (Cammie – Kathleen Peirce) is wheelchair bound and needs oxygen.  So does he it seems.  Of a different sort.

He visits with his minister Reverend Todd (William Ragsdale) who gives him odd advice.  Which he follows.  His insensitive daughter Ashley (Annika Boras) tries to sort it all out.  Another daughter (unseen) is the smarter one – she steers clear of them all.

He leaves his wife and goes off to London for an unlimited specified amount of time.  Airborne he meets Pat an openly lusty businesswoman (an amusing Heidi Armbruster) who flirts with him.

In London, at his hotel he meets Tamyra (Nana Mensah) the bartender.  He quickly learns to drink one of her alcoholic specialties.  She reads poetry when the bar is slow which is often and they start up a friendship.  Enter Pat who leads him to her bed.  End of Act I.

Returning to the bar after intermission we pick up Ken’s journey.  We meet the boyfriend of Tamyra – Harry (Max Gordon Moore) a talkative bohemian sculptor.  Ken learns the craft.  He’s been in London for about six weeks – how is he paying for all this?  A small unexplained detail…

Meanwhile back in Nebraska staid Nancy has a dinner date with a guy who expects more (Tom Bloom).   The Reverend Todd’s dad.  Will she or won’t she?

Back in London Ken lets loose.  There is a pill popping dance sequence and that’s all I’ll divulge.  Has he found what he’s looking for?  Will he return to Nancy?  Will she greet him with open arms?

The many different locations are lit nicely (Keith Parham) with all the props and furniture in full view – which are rearranged by expert stagehands.  They deserve a final bow with the cast.

Nice incidental music by Daniel Kluger.

The production is intriguing, bizarre, disturbing at times but ultimately unsatisfying.  Through March 12th.

Photos:  Joan Marcus

Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com

www.2ST.com

 

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THE MOTHER OF INVENTION – Abingdon off-Broadway

February 10th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore
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What’s it all about Alfie?  A question we should be asking James Lecesne the award winning author of this 95 minute no intermission rambling drama/comedy loosely directed by Tony Speciale that has just arrived at the newly re-carpeted and freshly painted June Havoc Theatre.  New seats too.

What’s not so new is the play itself.  Watching this production, where the acting ranges from barely audible to mediocre to excellent we are reminded of past plays and actors in situations that have been better fleshed out.

What’s more confounding?  That Mr. Lecesne has won multiple awards or that his new play doesn’t support his reputation?

There is an echo of OTHER DESERT CITIES (a family memoir) , THE FATHER (dementia and a slowly disappearing set) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (an urn of ashes) Chekhov (a gun) and a slightly heightened realism bordering on the absurd (ALBEE)  If you are put off by nudity stay home.  If you are put off by writing that doesn’t sparkle stay home as well.

Dottie (Concetta Tomei) channeling Ruth Gordon supposedly is suffering from dementia.  Her adult children – David (James Davis – a gay writer from California) and his sister Leanne Reed who has a bright and pretty but barely audible daughter Ryder (Isabella Russo) have come to pack her up and off.  Dad has died and mom’s brain is dying somewhere in Central Florida and they must move on.

Next door neighbor Jane (Dale Soules) helps out and portrays a homeless lady later on.  She perks things up quite a bit.

But the perkiest moments are delivered by Frankie Rey (Dan Domingues) – keep an eye out for this one.  Excellent actor.  Great body.  Especially in the all-together.

Mom thought so too as she has written him about 10,000 dollars-worth of checks for services rendered.  His Spanish grave robber character is heavily accented with muscles to match.  But mind you – he is also a fine actor with a sly sense of humor.  Is he a con man as he has seduced mom and daughter and then attempts to do the same to David?  Or what?

Throughout the play Mom speaks to us remembering without the least bit of difficulty.  It’s unclear if she is losing it or if her kids just want to cart her off to a home and sell the one she has willed to the much younger Senor Rey.

The set by Jo Winiarski is just as confounding.  Cardboard cartons are stacked high representing the walls.  They slowly are taken off as they pack up mom and her memories.  Lamps abound doing little to enlighten the play.  The sibs squabble.  Unearthing family secrets.  The little girl does her best to be seen but not heard.  And Mr. Domingues conquers all.

Through February 26.

www.abingdontheatre.org

Photos:  Maria Baranova

Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com

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JITNEY – Timely and timeless MTC production soars

January 25th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore
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When you know your people, when you are so in tune with how they speak, how they react and interact (or not) with one another; when you have something important to say with compassion, insight and humor that is timeless and timely in a play called JITNEY you are Mr. August Wilson.

When the direction is so finely tuned and detailed down to the almost choreographed entrances and exits of its characters who become living and breathing friends – friends that you care for and hope that they will obtain a good and better life you are Mr. Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

And when after the first act curtain the audience has that extra special buzz, a buzz that signals the audience is hooked and wants to know what is going to happen to these people you know that you are seeing something rare and special and should cheer and shout and send one and all to see it.

Set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District circa 1977 we meet a collection of characters that Mr. Wilson has a fondness for and knows deep down inside and out.  He shares their stories with us.  Bringing us in with their idiosyncrasies, their desires and dreams in JITNEY which has recently opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre – a Manhattan Theatre Club production that soars and stays with you long after the curtain comes down.

It’s a “car service” overseen and owned by Becker (John Douglas Thompson) in a run-down dump beautifully rendered by David Gallo.  It is a second home to those who work there.  A gathering place where his drivers wait for calls, play checkers, read girlie magazines, share neighborhood gossip and dream of a better life.  And play the numbers with Shealy (Harvy Blanks).

There is the outstanding busy-body Turnbo (Michael Potts) who can’t seem to mind his own business – much to our amusement.  The inebriated and wobbly but wise Fielding (Anthony Chisholm).  Youngblood (Andre Holland) a sexy dude who has a suspicious wife (Carra Patterson) and baby who secretly surprises her with a special gift.  And Booster (Brandon J. Dirden) the son of Becker who has just been released from prison.  They haven’t seen each other for twenty years and are estranged.

And then there is the sword of Damocles over Backer and Company’s collective heads.  The city wants to close their business for some badly needed urban renewal.  Will they fight and stay?  Or give up.  Where will they go?  What will they do?

Will father and son have a peaceful reconciliation?

Will you all just go and see JITNEY and find out.  You will not be disappointed.  This is about the finest production you will see this season.  You will be entertained and moved by the terrific acting of this ensemble of fine actors.  And want to hear more of the jazz score that sets the mood precisely by Bill Simms Jr.

Let’s hear it for August Wilson and Company!  Highly recommended. Through March 12th

www.JitneyBroadway.com

www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com

Photos:  Joan Marcus

Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com

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THE PRESENT – Chekhov with a down under twist

January 13th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore
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Some prefer their Chekhov straight up or neat as has been the traditional way of performing his classic tragi-comedies in the past.  Not so for Andrew Upton who has taken on Chekhov’s very early and lengthy draft of a play called Platonov – fiddling around with it, updating it to a post-perestroika Russia (mid 1990’s) and honing it down to a mere three hours.

Which brings us to THE PRESENT that is served on the rocks (anything but neat) starring his beautiful and extremely talented wife Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh in the Sydney Theatre Company production now playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre through March 19th – although there is plenty of wine and vodka being imbibed on stage – most probably to help the ensemble of fine actors stagger through this overlong and confusing production.

There are two acts consisting of two scenes each.  It deteriorates progressively.  You may spend the first scene of Act I (the longest) trying to figure out who these characters are and what their relationships are to each other or as I noticed a few seats away someone just nodding back and nodding out until the loud music was blasted signaling the change of scene.  It’s quite baffling.

On the way home via subway a couple across from me were chatting about THE PRESENT going back and forth in their program to the faces and the characters they portrayed.  Yes, they were trying to figure it all out.  I asked them.

So I decided to do some research myself.  Time consuming and in reality it didn’t make much of a difference.  It’s not a very good play.  It rambles on and on.  Some characters are never explained – they just show up.  Others go missing.  And so our minds are trying to sort things out while we listen intently as to the plight of Anna Petrovna (just plain Anna in the Playbill – Cate) who is turning 40 and is hosting a birthday party for herself and the aforementioned confusing cast of characters.

Does anyone remember Helen Trent (radio soap opera) who had similar problems coping with turning 35!

Anna has two wealthy older suitors as the estate she is visiting and hosting said party has a cash flow problem.  She inherited it after the death of her husband 7 years ago.  Instead of a cherry orchard there is a weedy lake.  There are guns.  There are long boring speeches.  Anna is bored, preoccupied and anxious.  Who can blame her?

A spark of an old relationship is rekindled.  Mikhail (Mr. Roxburgh) a womanizer with a capital W – who is now married to a frumpy Sasha (Susan Prior with a newborn in the next room) but still pursuing Anna and Sophia (Jacqueline McKenzie) who is married to a meek Sergei (Chris Ryan – Anna’s stepson) and Maria (Anna Bamford) girl friend of Nikolai (Toby Schmitz) AND most probably the cook.

After the second scene of Act I which dissolves into a dance on top of the table, frenzied sexual explosion we have an intermission where some audience members leave never to return.  And so they miss the Act II scene in hell with Mr. Roxburgh meeting up with various characters surrounded by mist or fog or remnants of the fire where there is the worst fight scene I have ever witnessed on stage.  Or is it real?  Or is he having hallucinations?  Do we really care?  And then finally the last scene, staged as a farce.  There you have it.

If you absolutely need to see Cate Blanchett in the flesh be forewarned.  She is lovely but the play itself isn’t.

Mr. Roxburgh does have a charm about him.  But Mikhail is a braggart and a drunk.  And Mr. Roxburgh goes a bit overboard enacting such.  One wonders how Mikhail can get it up so often and for so many in his inebriated state.  The women all seem to fall under his spell or at the very least his body during this birthday bash.

Directed by John Crowley who does little to clarify or enlighten this lumbering production.  Scenic and costume design (Alice Babidge) are serviceable.

www.thepresentbroadway.com

Photos:  Joan Marcus

Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com

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IN TRANSIT on Broadway – a cappella musicianship trumps all

December 15th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore
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In October 2010 I reviewed “In Transit” off Broadway at 59 E 59.  It was intimate.  A cast of seven.  All superb singers whose “harmonies were closer than a jam packed subway car during rush hour.”  All sung a cappella – without the accompaniment of any musical instruments.  I really enjoyed it a lot.

It has now opened at Circle in the Square with a larger cast of eleven superb singers.  Their superb musicianship trumps all.  As the slight well-worn stereotypical characters and situations are there solely to showcase the songs and their delivery.

It’s bigger and flashier with stylized choreography by Kathleen Marshall who also directs in three quarter thrust with a conveyor belt, running the length of the stage that keeps the action chugging along at a fast clip.

There is Jane (Margot Seibert) an office temp yearning to star on Broadway.  Nate (James Snyder) who has lost his lucrative job and has to deal with an irate and bossy MTA worker with “ATTITUDE” Althea (Moya Angela) who also portrays the in denial BIG TEXAS MAMA of her in the closet son Trent (Justin Guarini) who has a new lover in this edition Steven (Telly Leung).

Ali (Erin Mackey) a marathon runner who has split with her boyfriend Dave (David Abeles) and rap narrator Boxman (Chesney Snow – from the original production) who holds it all together with his sound effects and rhythmic backup.  Gerianne Perez, Mariand Torres and Nicholas Ward.  At certain performances Steven “HeaveN” Cantor is Boxman.

The creators (book, music and lyrics) Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan & Sara Wordsworth with an assist by Gregory T. Christopher & Karla Lant.  All are responsible for the original concept.

And they have been adding and revising and updating and enlarging the production values that were just fine to begin with.  But this is Broadway.  And an audience needs to get a bigger bang for their bucks.

And so the videos, the larger 2 level almost sterile set (Donyale Werle) and flashing lights.

But it is the extraordinary arrangements by Deke Sharon and Music Supervision by Rick Hip-Flores that are the true stars of this production.  Along with each amazing singer.  You may not remember the songs but you will remember the sound.  So sit back and enjoy the ride.  90 minutes.  No intermission.

www.intransitbroadway.com

Photos:  Joan Marcus

Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com

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A BRONX TALE – mediocre crowd pleasing coming of age musical

December 11th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore
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For anyone who hasn’t heard of WEST SIDE STORY with its Jets and Sharks rival New York gangs or the Damon Runyon characters in GUYS AND DOLLS or the near to closing JERSEY BOYS you now have an opportunity to witness a sort of hybrid of the above musicals at the Longacre Theatre where the recycled A BRONX TALE is entertaining audiences hungry for the sounds of the sixties, stoops, egg creams, baseball, doo-wop, slick hair, crap games, gangsters and guns.

I say recycled because originally this was a one man off-Broadway play (1989) – the autobiographical story of one Chazz Palminteri and his coming of age in the sixties.  Facing a fork in the road of Belmont Avenue life:  follow the sage advice of his bus driving dad Lorenzo or follow the not so sage advice of Sonny the local gangster – which became a film (1993) with Robert De Niro and Mr. Palminteri and again on Broadway as a solo play in 2007.  So there is a built in following.

It is now an entertaining, slick musical with a superficial book by Mr. Palminteri that is co-directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks in broad strokes.  The music is by Alan Menken.  The lyrics by Glenn Slater.  The score has its ups and downs bringing back Doo-Wop with a quartet of likable guys, a few lively numbers that open each act (“Belmont Avenue” – “Webster Avenue”), a couple of fun numbers (“Roll ‘Em” and “Nicky Machiavelli” – a Mack the Knife type spinoff and my all-time favorite “One of the Great Ones.”

But A BRONX TALE somehow comes up less than the sum of its professional parts.  The cast is excellent.  Nick Cordero starring – as he should be – as Sonny the head thug of Belmont Avenue takes a nine year old Calogero (a super talented Hudson Loverro) under his questionable wing advising him not to be like his dad Lorenzo (Richard H. Blake) a well-meaning and honest bus driver while grown up Calogero (Bobby Conte Thornton) narrates with a strange vacant almost hypnotic gaze which disconnects him from the very personal story.  He is good looking, the perfect type, sings well but doesn’t connect fully.

Unfortunately he does connect with Jane (a delightful Ariana Debose) falling for her hard.  Thing is, she is of the rival Webster Avenue and black.  So it’s the (and I quote) “the spooks vs the wops” in this forbidden 1968 love.  Will they wind up together?  Or will more shots ring out in the hood?

The overpowering set of movable tenement buildings with fire escapes – for what amounts to be an intimate story – by Beowulf Boritt – are great looking and create a great atmosphere.  Sergio Trujillo has choreographed the show – not too much dancing but if we include the movable buildings he has done another fine job here.  William Ivy Long does well with the period costumes.  Neither a feather nor a sequin appear.

Mr. Cordero made a name for himself portraying an unlikable thug to great effect in BULLETS OVER BROADWAY and now he is at it again in what might become known as Bullets Over the Bronx.  He has a way with these parts and we like him despite the distasteful character he portrays.

Direct from the Paper Mill Playhouse where it had its World Premiere February 2016.

Two hours with one intermission.

www.abronxtalethemusical.com

Photos: Joan Marcus

Visit:  www.TalkEntertainment.com

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SWEET CHARITY – Scaled down Off B’way revival starring Sutton Foster glistens

December 6th, 2016 by Oscar E Moore
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I should start by advising you to hasten down to The Pershing Square Signature Center to see SWEET CHARITY running through January 8th 2017.   However I am a bit late.  It’s a very hard ticket to come by.  The space is indeed intimate.

However care has been given in the staging to make every seat have an equal opportunity view.  The production is sensational.

This Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields 1966 musical has been brilliantly scaled down and reexamined and reimagined by director Leigh Silverman to slip into the intimate three quarters round seating – adding a deeper dimension to Charily Hope Valentine’s search for the perfect man – without sacrificing the super entertainment factor and exciting score one iota.

A smaller cast.  Doubling and tripling in roles.  They are all wonderful.  Especially Joel Perez, Asmeret Ghebremichael and Emily Padgett.

 Spearheaded by the incomparable Sutton Foster.  May she never be out of the spotlight.   She has it all.  Her effortless dancing.  Her comic timing.  Her sandwich making.  Her mega-watt smile.  And a vulnerability that makes this Charity one whom you just want to hug and tell her it will all turn out OK.  Eventually.

When Charity shouts out “Somebody Loves Me!” it is not just a cue for a production number but a newly found realization that her life finally has some meaning.  And we want to celebrate along with her.

She’s been in denial for so long but still hopeful, wearing her heart on her sleeve as one man after another takes advantage of her and wearing her hurt in her heart.  Sutton Foster allows us to glimpse that hurt.

A sextet of women above the stage replaces a full orchestra.  And yet the now famous songs sound as fresh as ever.  The excellent choreography by Joshua Bergasse make memories of the Bob Fosse original fade into the wings of the past.

The bare bones set by Derek McLane seems perfectly seedy for the dance hall and other locations that have props whisk in and out speedily.  Lighting by Jeff Croiter helps tremendously to depict the Central Park Lake, the stuck Parachute Jump of Coney Island and claustrophobic elevator where Charity meets the man of her dreams Oscar – a bedraggled and shy nebbish of a guy – played honestly and surprisingly sympathetically by Shuler Hensley.

The idea to place the heartbreaking “Where Am I Going?” at the end of the show makes an emotionally valid and bittersweet finale to all that has occurred making Charity face the music, wondering what went wrong and what is going to happen next.  Will she ever learn?  We hope so – for without love life has no purpose.

A production of THE NEW GROUP.  www.thenewgroup.org

Photos:  Monique Carboni

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RIDE THE CYCLONE – Neither here nor there

December 1st, 2016 by Oscar E Moore
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The big question is – who of the five dead teenage choir members plus one “Baby Jane” doll-like mysterious girl who lost her head in a tragic accident on the Cyclone roller coaster in a decrepit vintage Coney Island Carnival site, spearheaded by a robotic fortune teller will win enough votes tallied by said fortune teller “The Amazing Karnak” to be lucky enough after spilling out their guts in tuneful if not altogether memorable song after song to return to the living in this mixed bag vaudeville import from Canada which has just blown into the Lucille Lortel Theatre?

Attempting to take us to dizzying heights RIDE THE CYCLONE is a series of ups and downs without too many thrills and/or chills.  Life or rather death isn’t such a carnival for these unfortunate teens.  All but one rises to the occasion.

And one – Jane Doe (the mysterious beheaded doll-like charmer Emily Rohm) whose head sits in its rightful place allowing Ms. Rohm to majestically sing her aria while giving the flying magic carpet from ALADDIN a run for its money.  This extra special effect is truly spectacular.

If Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond the creators of this uneven production intended for us to care for their characters – all victims of a tragic accident – they could have created real people and not stereotypical central casting types who one after another (check them off as they finish their songs) are showcased in some lovely musical production numbers.

There is the gay boy – Noel Gruber (Kholby Wardell channeling Michael Urie channeling Marlene Dietrich.  Jane Doe (Emily Rohm) who gets to keep her decapitated head firmly in place to entertain us while toting a decapitated doll.  A physically challenged Ricky Pots (an adorable Alex Wyse) who gets to rock his inner rock star with surprisingly strong vocals.  Mischa Bachinski a crotch grabbing (his own) Ukrainian rapper who bares his chiseled chest.  Constance Blackwood (Lillian Castillo) the shy, low self-esteemed best friend of the heroine of this opus Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg (a terribly annoying Tiffany Tatreau) a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Matilda – who originated this role in Chicago and took over for Taylor Louderman who unexpectedly left the show this week citing “artistic differences.”

Also the dry and acerbic Karl Hamilton as The Amazing Karnak who foretells his own demise by Virgil the giant rat who is chewing on his power cable.

The set by Scott Davis is fantastic.  Ditto for costumes (Theresa Ham) projections (Mike Tutaj) special effects and illusions by Michael Curry Designs & Hat Rabbit Studio, lighting design Greg Hofmann and choreography by Rachel Rockwell who also keeps the Cyclone moving along despite jumping the tracks every so often with her first rate cast of players.

“Well, I wasn’t bored.” a friend said after the 100 minutes in purgatory – without intermission.  But not being bored does not a great musical make.

A MCC THEATER production.   Through December 29th

www.mcctheater.org

Photos:  Joan Marcus

Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com

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THIS DAY FORWARD – saying “I do” and not meaning it

November 22nd, 2016 by Oscar E Moore
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This new play by Nicky Silver could be subtitled REGRETS.  In the absurd first act we find Irene (Holley Fain) and newlywed husband Martin (Michael Crane) having a face off in a room at the St. Regis Hotel on their nuptial night circa 1958.  He is wealthy.  He is Jewish.  He is about to be very unhappy.  You might be too and have a strong desire to leave.

In the beautiful Allen Moyer designed room an extremely nervous Irene wearing her beautiful Kaye Voyce designed wedding gown has a confession to make to her brand new loving husband Martin who tries his best to get her beneath the sheets.  After all they have just said “I do” and should be celebrating happily.  But then there is out-of-the-blue “confession” from Irene.

What follows is vintage TV sitcom silly.  Third rate Neil Simon.

Emile (Joe Tippet) a handsome and virile gas station worker shows up.  The heavily accented and very amusing maid Melka (June Gable) shows up – bellhop son Donald (Andrew Burnap) in tow.  Mrs. Schmitt (Francesca Faridany) shows up briefly as Martin and Irene try to come to some agreement as we hear the back stories of those involved.

It’s all light and superficial.  Not plausible nor believable.  However the acting is convincing.  And then all of a sudden in Act II everything begins to make sense.  Sort of.

It is 46 years later.  On a brand new set – the high rise Manhattan apartment of Irene and Martin’s son Noah (Michael Crane) where he reluctantly awaits his mentally unravelling mother (June Gable) and his fed-up-with-taking-care-of-her sister Sheila (Francesca Faridany) along with his sexy actor boy-toy lover Leo (Andrew Burnap).

All of the actors convincingly convey their new found characters with warmth and honesty.  And humor.  Especially June Gable who gives a commanding performance.  The dialogue sounds different.  Real.  Mr. Silver has captured both periods exactly and has created a theatrical coup with his double part casting.

There are more back stories and arguments as we learn the heartache behind that initial “I do” between Irene and Martin.  It’s quite sad, believable and touching.   Each act nicely directed by Mark Brokaw with its own and quite unique tone.

Do the right thing for yourself when you find someone to share your life with.  It’s a major decision and you must do what feels right.  What is right and honest and not live a make-believe life full of regrets.

The older Irene gives out some sage advice that makes THIS DAY FORWARD worth a trip to the Vineyard Theatre.  She is not so mentally disabled.

www.vineyardtheatre.org

Photos:  Carol Rosegg

Visit: www.TalkEntertainment.com

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