Numbers Nerds is a selection of the New York Musical Festival playing at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater until Sunday July 23rd, but it could just as easily be part of the fall line-up on Fox or the CW. Not surprising since a note in the Playbill from Producer Larry Little (also responsible for the story) informs us its target audience is high schools, colleges & community theaters. Numbers Nerds is about a mostly female competitive high-school math team from Wisconsin that reaches the National Sum-It Championships. And it was written in response to a dialogue with theater faculty at local high schools and colleges bemoaning the lack of roles for females. Which brings us full circle to the Festival which encourages musicals with diversity.
So it’s “Halftime with Don” — the newest play at NJ Repertory Company in Long Branch. Time to review the game plan, and consider the players. If there is a reflective moment in an undertaking as intensely physical as football, halftime is it.
The Fourth Messenger is part of the New York Musical Festival and has performances through Sunday July 23rd. A reimagining of the legend of Buddha as a modern day woman who is both enlightened and flawed, the piece itself is a mirror image of its protagonist. The creators Tanya Shaffer (Book & Lyrics), Vienna Teng (Music & Additional Lyrics), and Matt August (Director); are a little like Park Slope helicopter parents. Too close and loving to see their child’s flaws in order to correct them. And really, the kid’s not that bad – there’s a lot to love here – which makes it almost more frustrating. Because with a tweak or two, The Fourth Messenger could be outstanding.
If you’re a Harry Potter mega fan who has read all the books every year since they’ve been released like my friend Katy, you’re going to love Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. Do you have your own wand? Run right out and buy a ticket, don’t bother to read the rest of this review. If, like me, you read the books as they came out and enjoyed them, but haven’t felt the need to revisit Hogwarts again and again, you’ll enjoy the show. But you may not understand why the audience is laughing at some points. If you’ve heard of Harry Potter but the word Hogwarts is totally foreign to you – Puffs will leave you scratching your head. You’ll feel a little like Tarzan would if he was kidnapped and woke up watching the movie “Tootsie.” No context for anything that was happening around you.
The New York Musical Festival is in full swing, fostering culturally and stylistically diverse new musicals by early-career artists. But don’t let the “early-career artists” designation fool you – all it means is that they’re not household names – yet. A perfect example is Miss Blanche Tells It All currently playing at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater through Sunday, July 16th. Set in the late 1960’s in a gay friendly bar in New Orleans, an intoxicated drag performer, Miss Blanche (Brian Charles Rooney), reveals more than originally intended. It’s a nuanced story and a tour de force performance by consummate professionals.
Oscar Isaac is riveting in the title role — and not just because he spends an inordinate amount of time in his underwear displaying distracting flanks (attention: Calvin Klein marketing). He inhabits and invigorates the troubled young prince; he talks and talks and talks and often makes new, lines that can carry a shopworn familiarity
This year’s summer offering by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Amerike – The Golden Land, is a perfect fit for the NYTF’s mission: “to celebrate the Yiddish experience through the performing arts by transmitting the rich cultural legacy in exciting new ways that bridge social and cultural divides.” It’s not surprising that Amerike – The Golden Land does that so perfectly, since it was commissioned in 1982 by the Workmen’s Circle to do just that. WC Director of Education, Yosl Mlotek, tapped Moishe Rosenfeld and Zalmen Mlotek – now the Artistic Director of the NYTF – to write the piece. And yes, Zalmen is Yosl’s son, and Moishe is Yosl’s nephew. Making Zalmen and Moishe cousins. And you’ve just played a round of what is affectionately known in NYC as “Jewish Geography,” or “are you a landsman (google it)/six degrees of separation.”
The chronicle of a woman who is emotionally on the ropes, and of the psychologically beat up family and friends in her corner.
While it may have augured well for its creator, who died in 1992 at age 33 after receiving several major awards, it seems to have lost much of its vigor in the intervening decades.
Moliere’s hilarious comedy about a bumbling swain gets lively treatment at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
You might be better off just reading the book. But if you can, see it. It will be life changing. It will change nothing. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
The cataclysm that shocks the audience into intermission is stunning. I won’t spoil if for you but will say as the audience recovered there was a rush to Google the horrific event that shook the room and changes everything. It leaves you longing for act 2.
In the cozy Triad Theater, Me the People: the Trump America Musical is causing an uproar – the good kind. Satirizing the Trump experience (without an actual Trump thank goodness) a talented cast takes us through our paces with hilarious impressions and songs. Sitting together in a small theater having a drink and a good laugh, we kindred spirits are refreshed for the next stage of the fight. In resistance we trust!
The sprawling emptiness of the South West’s desert is mirrored in the hearts of four troubled characters in Abe Koogler’s “Fulfillment Center”, an exploration of existential anxiety and human disconnectedness set in and around a New Mexico shipping facility.
With a convoluted story of love and deception, Shakespeare puts on a show that percolates with humor and drama. Love may triumph all but you have to travel a winding road to get there. Shakespeare makes an audience work. And it’s always worth it.
There’s nothing wrong with The Traveling Lady but there is little bite to it, little memorable about it, nothing surprising to take away. If you like Horton Foote, you will probably like this one.
The one-act play has long been a favorite form of both novice and seasoned playwrights. Tennessee Williams wrote 43 of them over the course of his 50 year career. Begun in 1977, this season is Ensemble Studio Theatre’s 36th Marathon of One-Act Plays. This year’s 15 selections are broken up into 3 evenings of 5 plays each, that are running in repertory from May 14th through June 30th. Reviews of Series A can be found here, and Series B can be found here.
With a thin script by early career playwright Isla van Tricht, this year’s Brits Off Broadway festival concludes not with a bang, but with two whiners.
A grieving father and husband, Nikolai Koslov (Declan Conlon), is having a hard time letting go of his rage. After his wife and two children lose their lives in a plane crash, his main concern is for those who survived. Was it an accident? A terrorist act? Who is responsible? And, most of all, who will be punished?