Author: Kathleen Campion

La Soirée

It’s not your average night at the theater.  In fact, it’s not your average night anywhere.  La Soirée is a naughty cabaret-cum-circus with an edge of danger. When Mario, Queen of the Circus, urges audience members to pass him hand to hand above their heads, that’s one thing.  When he persuades Chrissie from Maryland, not only to join him onstage but to climb on his shoulders as he climbs on a unicycle—all this on a stage the size of a thumbtack—those in the front rows were fascinated but uneasy. The front rows are quickly sheathed in plastic as Stephen Williams lifts his exquisite body from a bath. Using bands attached to the ceiling, he spins and all but struts over the heads of the audience, spritzing us with kicks of water and droplets from his form-fitting jeans. There’s no danger when “The English Gents,” Denis Lock and Hamish McCann, tricked out in pinstripes and bowlers, take the stage—just power.  They Basil-Fawlty us into grins at first.  But quickly, as the two balance into impossible postures, the audience quiets, recognizing the strength and skill it takes to make their extravagant moves seem effortless.  It takes your breath away.   Should you have any oxygen left, you give it up when these two strip down to Union Jack skivvies.  Their bodies are stunningly beautiful. Later Hamish McCann does something with a pole I shan’t forget. But...

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BY KATHLEEN CAMPION   New2NY is one of those rare theater brands that is accurate – these are musicals that have not yet been produced in New York. The Artistic Director of the York Theatre Company, James Morgan, who introduced the Friday night staged concert performance of JACK: A Musical Drama on the Life of John F. Kennedy, told a packed house of interested friendlies, that some people have started calling New2NY “New Tunies!” Morgan entertained a house full of theater people – subscribers, producers, actors and even one dog – in the intimate space the York inhabits at St.Peterʼs Church at the base of the Citicorp monolith. He noted that given the federal courtʼs decision to stay any changes to NYʼs “stop and frisk” policy, the York Company had reinstated its policy, so the audience should be prepared. He introduced the “orchestra,” gifted pianist Matt Castle, who must have 5 to 6 hands and enormous stamina as he played flawlessly and energetically through the two hour score. After assuring the audience that, should we need the emergency exits, they were “there and there” and that “everything would be all right” Morgan gave the stage to JACK. He noted that Castle and the twelve member cast had enjoyed a leisurely five-day rehearsal period on what is essentially an opera. Playing to the old hands in the crowd, many of...

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A Time To Kill

BY KATHLEEN CAMPION   A growing share of Broadway box office relies on the tourist trade, the clear target audience of “A Time to Kill,” Rupert Holmes’ adaptation of John Grisham’s novel. Given the now requisite standing ovation and the odd hooting that followed Wednesday night’s performance, it might be said to have hit its mark. You can almost hear the pitch: “Let’s do a Broadway show based on a blockbuster Grisham novel, that was already a box office success as a 1996 film. Let’s throw in a Matthew McConaughey (who played the lead in the film) look alike,...

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A Night with Janis Joplin

BY KATHLEEN CAMPION   In “A Night with Janis Joplin” you see dead people quite a lot. The conceit of the script is Joplin, on stage singing her heart out, with pauses to tell you about the amazing women who shaped her music: Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, Odetta, Etta James and Aretha. These apparitions appear before us all over the remarkably fluid set from Justin Townsend.   Taprena Michelle Augustine gives us Bessie Smith, De’Adre Aziza offers an imposing Odetta and a dead-on Nina Simone, and Nikki Kimbrough styles Etta James.  These lively women also conjure the Chantels, the...

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