Author: Stefie Gan

They Call Me Q

A story about a young immigrant growing up in a new country with pulling forces from a traditional family and urban America, in the Bronx, the protagonist tries to find her own special identity. We all know the immigrant identity crisis story. The difference here is the performance Qurrat Ann Kadwani gives as she brings her personal story to life in her character Q with bold confidence and a radiant smile. We are captivated by her presence on stage, her burst of energy, but the storyline has holes here and there that makes the performance more of a meander...

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What isn’t entertaining about a night of lights, dancing, and music? You can’t go wrong; you are guaranteed see something refreshing. It was featured on America’s Got Talent after all. It is dark and silent. Music fills the void. With every blink of your eye, a piece of furniture appears in the form of line drawing illuminated by colorful lights. There’s personality in every squiggle, who wouldn’t want to enter this world for the next hour? Our protagonist, Jacob, dances in his room as he gets ready to paint. A magical brush appears and he makes big strides and brush strokes with it. He paints the walls behind him and a huge magical root-like structure appears as though you are in an enchanted forest. Moments like these make the whole experience magical. A few of his other creations, a pair of feminine characters and a pair of endearing robots, enter the stage and dances with him. A pair of wings flying above them attaches to one of his feminine characters and gives her flight. She glides and graces above Jacob with the lovely melody. The pacing is beautiful. A girl enters, a friend of Jacob and convinces him to go out to a club. The tone of the music changes to a more hip and active dance beat. Characters dance off in fast-paced, smooth, and trendy beats. The audience...

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The Pigeoning

With an Office Safety Manual on our laps and an old television set from the 1980’s on stage, a parody of an office safety video plays and sends the audience in a laughing spell. My favorite office safety warning is the segment on “corners,” one of the most dangerous incidents in the office that can occur, where coworkers run into one another at the perpendicular where walls meet, thus creating a blind spot. To solve this issue? Get rid of corners! The television set disappears, and we see a middle-aged man puppet who sits quietly in an office desk reading the “Office Safety Manual.” He fidgets a few times trying to align the office supplies on his desk, making sure the post-its are equidistant from the corner of his desk, and he is particularly specific about his desk nameplate, Frank. He makes sure that his nameplate is exactly two finger widths apart on both sides of its surrounding. He does this for a few minutes (or more, a little too long), yes, he is obsessive and compulsive. The puppeteers’ fixing of Frank’s tie, straightening of his shirt, and wiping down the areas around him convinces us that Frank is a real character with an agenda. The comedy lies in Frank’s unfaltering stern expression and his execution; there is nothing more real to Frank than what is about to happen....

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Lies My Father Told Me

A story about a boy and his grandfather, the musical starts off with a full cast ensemble that introduces the boy’s family and neighbors. The orchestra is quaintly hidden at the top of the platform above the apartment buildings. The set mesmerizes as it rotates from the exterior of a building to reveal a staircase then an interior of a living room. It also takes a section cut of the apartment to reveal the first and second floor, figuratively representing the layers of the family. The grays and browns in the set effectively set a grim mood. The story is told through the eyes of older David (Joe Pararella) about his heart-warming relationship with his beloved Zaida, or grandfather (Chuck Karel). Young David (Alex Dreier) begs Zaida to take him on one of those magical journeys to various countries as they always do on a wagon with Zaida’s horse (the audience would have to use their imagination). All the other songs don’t stick, but this scene has song with a sticky line: “We’ve got magic wings, fly fly!” David grew up in a working class Jewish family where his mother Annie (Russell Arden Koplin) is expecting a child and his father Harry (Jonathan Raviv) does not work but comes up with impulsive business ideas. The worst part is when Harry’s plan has a flaw, he ignores it and continues...

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