6 December
ibrews

B

A perfectly well-adapted stage version of the book with some excellent production value.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • Clean and efficient telling of the same story as the book.
  • Really clever ways of helping the audience get inside Christopher’s head, from walking on walls to giant flashing text to lit paths on the ground.
  • Well-used music
  • Solid acting.

 

Blech…

  • The book brought a tear to my eye more than once. For some reason the show didn’t.
  • Everything was well-done, but nothing blew me away. Guess I was overhyped.

 

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6 October
ibrews

B

Synopsis: A high-energy dance explosion-fest that I didn’t quite understand but certainly enjoyed.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • Wonderful interplay of mirrors of all kinds. The set worked really well with the show and never felt gimmicky.
  • My favorite moment was with two couples, one behind a two-way mirror and one in front. They danced separately for a while. complimenting each other’s choreography, but then, the front couple moved to just the right angle and their reflection suddenly began to overlap with the other couple. The choreography, now overlapping took the sum of its parts and made something new, wonderful, incredible.
  • There was also a dance between a woman and two men that felt like everything that ever needs to be said about being torn between loving two different people.
  • Just some super talented dancers. Super talented.
  • Very catchy music.
  • A tight 80 minutes. Felt like the right length.

Blech…

  • Not sure what I took away from the whole thing. I just kind of washed over me. But I’m not a dance connoisseur.
  •  When I watch a Matthew Bourne show, I feel like it’s a story. When I watched this it felt like a collection of scenes that didn’t have any consistent narrative thread or spine.

 

Tales from before and after show:

I worked on this project! As per usual, I was involved with the seating design, but a cool new things was visualizing the colored shadows the audience created while coming in. Here’s the contrast between my initial rendering and the final result.

Also saw Keri Russell! She was there alone.

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14 August
ibrews

A

A thoroughly engaging take on a beautifully tone-balanced play featuring absolutely breathtaking scenic design: the Hudson Valley.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • An outdoor theater experience unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. When I think ‘traditional Shakespeare’, yes I think outdoors and yes I think minimalist set design, but I also tend to think intimate (some would say cramped) quarters. This was quite the opposite. Where else can you have characters make their entrances from hundreds of feet away?? (besides the Park Avenue Armory of course)
  • I really loved the play! I’m glad that I had forgotten the arc of it since the last time I saw it at Syracuse (2007 I think?). The tragic then comic nature of the different acts counterpoint each other so well, and yet because it fits so well with the story there’s no sense of disconnect. After all, why would the people of Bohemia be sad (especially sixteen years later) just because the people of Sicilia are? And I have to admit, that whole ‘statue’ thing at the end? I genuinely didn’t catch on to what was happening until about thirty seconds before the reveal.
  • Generally very strong acting. A wonderful mix of comic and tragic performances, and the actors who were called upon to do both thoroughly pulled it off.
  • I followed the narrative far better than in some of Shakespeare’s other shows, and that’s just as much a function of the acting as the writing. I can always tell when someone performing Shakespeare has no idea what they’re saying.
  • I have to call out Mark Bedard as Autolycus as my favorite performance of the night. From his singing to his comic timing (verbal and physical) I quickly learned to be prepared for something enormously entertaining any time I saw him entering the stage.
  • Having almost no set design but doing a lot with the lighting worked wonders for providing a sense of changes in scene, focus, or tone. A particularly beautiful effect was had at the end of the show when everyone exits. The stage goes dark, the outside lights come up, and then we have a final moment with a departed character.
  • Music! Fantastically catchy music throughout the second act. Can’t praise it enough. Very much contributed to the decidedly more-lighthearted tone of the back half of the show.
  • Sometimes a show affects me on an even deeper level than I can consciously comprehend. When the show ended, I was weeping, and I’m not entirely sure why.

Blech…

  • More than once, potent lines that could have been played with a quiet power but simply shout-spoken, which always feels like the lazy way to handle Shakespeare’s more vitriolic lines.
  • Spoiler territory, though come on, this is Shakespeare: it seems like such a missed opportunity (acting and writing) to have the reunion of the King of Sicilia with his daughter happen offstage. My wife suggested maybe that’s to give the reunion between the king and his wife more potency, but hey, who says you can’t question the Bard’s choices here and there?
  • What the heck was Hermione doing for sixteen years?? Hiding up in the rafters of the church pulling a Tom Sawyer and watching her husband grieve every freakin’ day? Yikes.

Tales from before and after show:

I live here now! It’s amazing to think this theater, this glorious outdoor theater with one of the greatest views I’ve ever seen is only ten minutes away nestled in the beautiful Boscobel gardens. Methinks that we’ll be buying season tickets in the future. During the July 4th parade in Cold Spring, there were a bunch of preteen girls advertising The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and thus I assumed it was a pretty amateur endeavor. A couple weeks ago, I was very excited to hear my boss say he ventured all the way from the city to the show and that he loved it. As such, even if I didn’t live so close, it still would have been worth the trip.

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14 June
ibrews

A-

Grand opera at its most intimate, OnSite Opera’s Barber of Seville is a stunningly fresh take on an often-stale art form.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • Opera in a beautiful NYC mansion courtyard and library. Epic.
  • Fantastic acting well-suited to these levels of intimacy. Subtle changes in facial expression sold the character beats just as well as the operatic notes. Also very cool to have opera singers come right up to the audience and direct lines at them/touch them/etc.
  • Gorgeous singing. With that proximity to the performers, I felt their voices resonating in my very soul.
  • Very cool lighting effects in the library where all the objects and people were able to swell with color in a way unlike anything I’ve seen in a theater.
  • Andrew Wilkowske as Figaro was a fantastic guitar player and endlessly charismatic.

 

Blech…

  • While entirely an act of god, it was very hot both in the courtyard and in the library. Thankfully the lights were LED which meant they didn’t add any heat to the room. And bonus points to OSO for giving us all water before the show.
  • Uncomfortable seats, but even that can be argued as a positive because it kept everyone present in the moment.
  • On the writing side: while I certainly appreciate the universality of this farce, I found Figaro to be far and away the most interesting character (and most hilarious), so his absence was very much felt during the second half of the show.

Tales from before and after show:

Full disclosure: I was given two comp tickets to this show through one of the producers, whom I met recently at the Opera America conference in Washington DC. OnSite Opera is interested in pursuing new technologies, so naturally my passion for all things theater and all things technology (particularly virtual reality) meant that we hit it off. There’s a good chance I’ll take part in one of their future productions, which is thrilling!

Also, I was supposed to go with my wife, but she had to work. Instead I ended up going with a friend of a friend who’s studying acting at The New School. She grew up in Romania and enjoyed trying to translate the Italian (which is ever-so-slightly similar). Also interesting coincidence: the opera is a partnership with the New School’s music department, which is soon to merge with the acting department to create the School of Performing Arts.

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14 June
ibrews

A

 The most fun I’ve had in the theater in a long time. Period.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • Straightforward, snappy, hour-long storyline expertly executed with a game-for-anything cast and crew.
  • Projections were a well-incorporated absolute joy to look at. A perfect blend of 8-bit video games with a retro-comic book overlay.
  • Not only were the projections a blast to look at, but they had such fine-details as becoming a genuine audience-interactive game at one point, as well as featuring moving mouths for the 8-bit versions of the characters that were talking in real life.
  • Music was catchy, well-sung, and another wonderfully-retro device. I never thought I’d end up with a chorus line stuck in my head with the lyrics ‘The nearest chemo center in a fifty-mile radius!’
  • Amazingly, the very well-established through-line of ‘modify a plant virus to fight cancer cells’ is based on real science being put out by Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph D.
  • The Nanoman as a character was gloriously poorly-acted, and I was rooting for him hard to work up the courage to take on the evil macro-phages. I also loved his costume.

Blech…

  • Dr. X’s German accent, while genuinely hilarious, was inconsistent enough to be distracting at times.
  • Venue was not ideal– a bar doesn’t real feel like a conference center, and because the production is so short and so sharp, it’s better if drink orders are not being taken and distracting from the show.

 

Tales from Backstage:

I was here on invitation from someone I met when I gave my VR lecture at the Microsoft building. After establishing that we both loved theater but often didn’t have anyone to go with, we became theater buddies! Her friend from San Francisco, Danielle was flown in to do the show.

 

Most every aspect of the production was created (and even performed) by Krista Knight and Barry Brinegar, a writing partnership calling themselves Knight and Brinegar. I will be following their work with interest for a very long time.

 

I was there on opening night and found Dr. X’s limp and need for a cane to be entirely convincing. Turns out Krista had fallen down in the subway that morning and actually needed the cane!

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