Author: Donna Herman

Introducing Sam Salmond

If you live in NYC it helps to be one step ahead of the crowd or you will spend your life in line, and cursing those who somehow knew to get there first. I’m giving you a head’s up about Sam Salmond right now. You’ve already missed “Introducing Sam Salmond,” at Joe’s Pub on Wednesday night. But unlike the perfect newly renovated NYC one-bedroom apartment you missed for under $1,000 a month, the opportunity to get to know this fledgling Broadway composer’s work will definitely come your way again. Start watching this guy. Look for his name. Look for the musicals “Eighty-Sixed,” “Uncool: The Party” and “Mother, Me & The Monsters.” Get tickets early when they open Off-Broadway. You can thank me later.

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Underground Railroad Game

There is an incredible level of trust between the two performers and creators of this piece, Jennifer Kidwell and Scott Sheppard. They are both highly talented actors who have put themselves on the line to bring the play to the stage. Kidwell and Sheppard developed “Underground Railroad Game” over the course of a couple of years with Philadelphia based theater company Lightning Rod Special. No doubt, it has taken a lot of highly charged work on behalf of Kidwell and Sheppard to get “Railroad” to this point both emotionally and physically. There are no neat answers, just raw, honest questions, that leave us clutching our blue and grey soldiers and hoping we won’t be called on or graded on this one. Don’t expect cliff notes on the how’s and why’s. Just an understanding that until we start bringing honesty without judgement to the table, we won’t be able to start fixing the very deep rooted problems we are ALL grappling with today.

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How to Keep an Alien

Don’t get the wrong idea from the title of Rough Magic’s offering “How to Keep an Alien” at Origin’s 1st Irish Festival. There’s absolutely nothing to do with space in the piece and the only strange creatures in it are from Oz – otherwise known as Australia – and Ireland. Presented at the Irish Arts Center from September 18th through October 1st, this is an autobiographical, not-quite-solo show written and performed by Sonya Kelly about falling in love with her partner Kate from Queensland. Oh yes, and then having to prove it to the Irish Department of Immigration. This is the U.S. premiere of “How to Keep an Alien” which won the 2014 Best Production Award at the Tiger Dublin Fringe, and subsequently toured to Brisbane under Gina Moxley’s direction. Moxley is also at the helm this time around, and the collaboration between her and Kelly is clearly a successful one. Moxley also directed and developed Kelly’s debut autobiographical solo show “The Wheelchair on My Face: a look back at a myopic childhood,” which was performed in the US as “I Can See Clearly Now” where it was a NY Times Critics’ Pick. Kelly clearly has a knack for mining the deep veins of personal experience to come up with theater and comedy gold.

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The Birds

“The Birds” by Conor McPherson is based on the 1952 Daphne du Maurier short story of the same name, on which the famed 1963 Hitchcock film was also based. The du Maurier short story is set in a small town in Cornwall, England but both adaptations are set in America. McPherson sticks most closely to the du Maurier story and sets his play in a small New England farm town. However, this production of Conor McPherson’s 2009 play “The Birds” by Toronto-based Birdland Theater is where the rubber meets the road.

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Bears In Space

You really can’t get too over-analytical about “Bears In Space.” It’s a razor-sharp romp, a leave-your-grumpy-day-at-the-door good time, that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is excitingly professional, crisp and grown up without being idiotic or slapstick. Nor do you have to worry about taking grandma or junior. There’s no sex or violence although there’s a little sweet G-rated romance and a couple of scary dudes who won’t give you nightmares. Nor is there any bad language. Only smart, witty, fast-paced, nuanced dialog that you need to listen to carefully in order to wring every drop of humor and cultural reference from.

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