6 January
ibrews

B

My old theater group (WhAT (now What)) takes on a big ol’ musical.

 

Hoo-rah!

  • They had the audience in the palm of their hand from the moment the show started
  • A few incredibly talented singers– a couple of the songs gave me goosebumps
  • Surprisingly excellent lighting design in the Schine Underground
  • Good blocking

Blech…

  • Acting wasn’t up to the heaviness of some of the material
  • The ending felt especially bla, which may be a failing of the performance or the writing

 

Tales from Before and After the Show:

I was invited up by Syracuse University this weekend (December 12, 2015) to be a guest critic for finals at the School of Architecture. A real honor! And even better was finding out that the theater group I cofounded back in 2006 was putting on a show. What joy! The new head of the group was very sweet and invited me on stage for a quick hello before the show got started. I have to say– I had very mixed feelings throughout the weekend after seeing the show. On the one hand, it’s a far more popular group than it was when I left school in 2010. The singing was a thrill and everyone in the audience seems to have really enjoyed themselves. On the other hand, the ethos of WhAT (back when it was Warehouse Architecture Theater instead of What Theater) was to put on well-acted, off-the-beaten-path shows suited to the schedules of busy people. A big fluffy musical seems a little against that sentiment. Still! It seems like they’re settling into splitting the year between a musical and a standard play (just like my high school!). And next semester’s production of Almost, Maine is sure to be great– I saw that show at Syracuse Stage back in the day and I think it’s a very good show for WhAT. Or What.

comments

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.

 

comments

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.

comments

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.

comments

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.

comments

Page 3 of 1512345...10...Last »