157 posts categorized "THEATRE REVIEW"

Oct 21 2014
And She's Looking Good: An Intimate Evening With Linda Lavin Comments (0)
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I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a private, for-donors-only performance by Linda Lavin at Baruch College last night, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the George and Mildred Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and the 10th anniversary of the Baruch Performing Arts Center. 

LavinWith Stritch (L), and taking her bows

Lavin performed with accompaniment by Billy Stritch and her top-notch band (including her painter/actor/jazz drummer of a hubby, Steve Bakunas, of whom she said, “I married the drummer. Cool!”).

Lavin is leggy and lovely at a hard-t0-believe 77, and was having (1) a ball, (2) a great hair day and (3) a better leg day than most will have in a lifetime; it's incredible to think that she is actually slightly older than Elaine Stritch (February 2, 1925—July 17, 2014) was when the latter dame first performed her legendary Elaine Stritch at Liberty show in 2001. Lavin is so youthful that unless you're an IMDb addict like me, the impact of her cabaret act has little in common with Stritch's—there's no “I'm Still Here” vibe because Lavin looks like she's mid-way through a career, not defiantly placing an exclamation point at the end of it. Just absolutely ageless, in good voice and effortlessly able to engage an audience of bigshots with her girlish banter and wry, nostalgic peeks back at her career.

And yes, she fully embraces Alice (1976—1985).

Above, check out the delicious Sondheim number Lavin sang in 1966...she recreated it last night and it's still a hoot.

I won't go into great detail about the song selection (which was pleasingly heavy on the bossa nova) since this was a one-off, but if you're interested in hearing Lavin sing a loving rendition of her Alice theme song and charming versions of songs she first sang upwards of 50 years ago when she (and Joan Rivers and Rodney Dangerfield and many other greats) was playing in, as she recalls, every venue with “Downstairs” in the title, be on the look-out for a 2015 show at 54 Below. You'd be a damn fool to miss this.

Linda-Lavin-Baruch-Matthew-Rettenmund-2014-AliceGoin' through life with blinders on, it's tough to see how Lavin manages to make 77 the new 50!

Lavin made a brief appearance at a post-show champagne toast. I was able to congratulate her and to ask if she would honor my friend and I with a photo. Have you got a camera? she shot back, ready to get 'er done. Lovely, classy lady.

After the jump, listen to Lavin tackle that Alice theme in 2013...

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Oct 14 2014
2 Die 4: A Review Of DEARLY BELOVED Comments (0)
  Dearly-Beloved-actors Robin-de-Jesus-performsRobin-de-JesusDearly-BelovedLena-Hall

Promo images courtesy of JD Urban, live images by Matthew Rettenmund for BoyCulture.com

BOY CULTURE REVIEW: ***1/2 out of ****

I still wasn't being allowed to see R-rated movies in 1984 when Prince's Purple Rain came out, making him seem like Jehovah's gift to the multiplex, and I was probably a bit protective of my diva Madonna due to Prince's chart-busting achievements with its legendary soundtrack. But as an American Top 40 freak, I was acutely aware of the many hits the record launched...it was like Minneapolis spooged all over Billboard.

Dearly-Beloved-Prince-Robin-de-JesusMaking his big entrance

Lena-HallPurple reina

Robin-de-Jesus-profileTake from him his lace.

Flash forward 30 (!) years, and I'm seated in 42West (514 West 42 St., NYC), watching Dearly Beloved, an anniversary tribute to the album (and the film), directed by Jacob Langfelder and starring Robin de Jesús (as Prince—I don't honor the whole Artist Formerly Known As thing) and Lena Hall (as Apollonia), and with featured performances by E. Clayton Cornelius, Kiyan Taghaboni and Ariel Bellvalaire.

Performers-PrinceTheir chemistry was something that you cannot comprehend.

AiiaKKDl7Si4TFI0gR89Iw-YluRYWcexTg1mVjjlL5wE. Clayton Cornelius was Morris Day all night long!

The show was a straight-up revue, but certainly wasn't karaoke. De Jesús suggested Prince without copying him exactly, sounding perfectly confident in every number, with the possible exception of “When Doves Cry”, with its odd, nasal vocal, which proved a little too offbeat for him to nail.

Hall, looking the opposite of her male Hedwig and the Angry Inch character in her bustier and Katy Perry via Bettie Page glamour makeup, soared in her numbers, making even the delightfully sugary “Sex Shooter” sound like a whole different animal coming from such powerful pipes.

Sexy-Robin-de-JesusCock 'n' Robin

The audience was mesmerized by the whole thing, especially de Jesús's libidinous writhing—it will be hard to see him in his In the Heights mold after witnessing this transformation.

Prince-fansThese fans acted surprised that I wanted their picture...

Lena-Hall-Prince-Robin-de-JesusMy pal Jason shot these. Yes, I wore purple...I wasn't kidding around!

The show felt like a try-out for a more elaborate, sung-through musical based on the already very musical movie; if that's the case, I think everyone involved proved it's an idea worth exploring.

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After the jump, check out the original “Sex Shooter”...

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Oct 13 2014
Rossy Is A Rossy Is A Rossy Is A Rossy Is A Rossy: A Review Of Jessica Mitrani's TRAVELING LADY Comments (0)
  Rossy-de-Palma Rossy-cast Rossy-FIAF Rossy-Spanish-NYC Rossy Rossy-de-Palma-fans

BOY CULTURE REVIEW: *** out of ****

It's not every day that I'm invited to the U.S. stage debut of a Pedro Almodovar superstar, so how could I refuse when offered the chance to see Traveling Lady, a multi-media presentation by Colombian visual artist/director Jessica Mitrani and Spanish film icon Rossy de Palma? Answer: I couldn't, and I didn't.

IMG_9348De Palma & Mitrani, post-partum

After initially bobbling the invite for me plus-one (sorry, Nathaniel!), I showed up fresh from a full day at New York Comic Con and a quick visit with Don Bachardy to find a long line outside FIAF Florence Gould Hall (55. E. 59th). A passer-by seemed nonplused when I told her we were waiting for a show. “A theatrical performance???” she sputtered. It was as if she knew what was in store for us; we didn't, however, so I went in thinking we were seeing a play while my companion Jason though it would be a movie. We were both kinda right.

Rossy-de-Palma-flowers

Rossy-de-PalmaWith “Kika” herself!

A part of FIAF's Crossing the Line 2014 series, Traveling Lady turned out to be a singular experience. I wish I had seen it both nights it played to get a firmer grasp on it, but I did divine its staunchly feminist roots, using as a jumping-off point the 19th-Century travels of journalist Nellie Bly. The show made use of a booming female voice-over, outstandingly dazzling projections, a somewhat goofy, talking, 8-foot dress with no body in it (voiced with an insinuating authority by Joan Juliet Buck), original music and all-too-brief appearances by de Palma in the flesh, lip-synching to her pre-recorded recitations.

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De Palma plays more than Bly; it quickly becomes obvious she is embodying various female archetypes. In so doing, she only had to appear briefly, allowing her unique visage to do all the talking. She merely had to stand there in order to give the show a twisted depth. Her presence is so arresting it was shocking later to meet her and see that she herself isn't 8 feet tall.

6a00d8341c2ca253ef01bb0796ee37970d-550wiThe show lagged when it became too esoteric for its own good, but I felt was saved from being a parody of NYC performance art excess thanks to its tongue-in-cheek humor. While it's true enough that some of its odder visuals would have baffled the real Bly (who once feigned insanity in order to explore the depravity of early insane asylums), I felt the show's broad send-up of branding and marketing were spot-on and LOL hilarious. I was also very taken with the show's tangential embrace of passages from the writings of Gertrude Stein (Ida: A Novel), which gave perfect voice to some of Mitrani's visuals.

Ida Gerrtrude Stien

All in all, Mitrani and de Palma's collaboration seemed a match made in heaven.

Afterward, we were invited to a champagne toast, at which de Palma was mobbed and a child was given a birthday cake. When I met her and congratulated her on the show, de Palma rasped in her wonderful way, “Wasn't it great???” and enthusiastically posed for photos.

 
Oct 07 2014
MILKing It: A Review Of I AM HARVEY MILK Comments (0)

BOY CULTURE REVIEW: **** out of ****

Tonight, I was privileged enough to be invited to attend a one-night-only oratorio (or, as last-minute guest Whoopi Goldberg called it, “oratio”) I Am Harvey Milk, with words and music by Andrew Lippa and starring Lippa as Milk, Noah Marlowe as Young Milk and angel-voiced Kristin Chenoweth as a soprano muse who stands in for several different women in Milk's life.

They were accompanied by the Joel Fram-conducted Orchestra of St. Luke's and The All-Star Broadway Men's Chorus.

Following Goldberg's intro (she referred to us as “family”...) and a more impassioned intro by Milk protégé Cleve Jones, the 60-minute presentation was thoroughly impressive, especially considering how well-mined the subject matter is. It was especially exciting to see and hear on the day the Supreme Court declined to review some lower court decisions, bringing marriage equality to five states immediately and another six in the long run, but this piece would be exciting to see and hear any day or night of the week, at any point in history.

The reason I Am Harvey Milk has a timelessness is that it's about the overall struggle for equality and fairness, even as it uses Milk's personal political odyssey to get at that larger theme. 

I was lulled to light sleep at times by the beauty and sonic purity, but there were plenty of attention-getting highlights, most notably the jumpin' “Enough Is Enough”-inspired “Friday Night in the Castro” (complete with clapping hands and gay boogie), the triumphant “Lavender Pen” (recounting Mayor Moscone's signing of a non-discrimination proclamation) and the searing “Tired of the Silence”, in which the assembled singers exhort every gay person in the world to come out, come out, come out. (Using images that included reluctant, quasi-out Jodie Foster was perhaps a misstep, but damned if they weren't up-to-the-minute enough to include headlines from earlier today!)

Fantastic evening, surrounded by a lot of civic-minded gay people and our supporters, lovers of the arts and some glitterati; but the snazzy ensembles and relentless fitness of the crowd was just fashion, and the music and words were a reminder than being loud and demanding respect never goes out of style.

 
Oct 04 2014
I Yam Because We Are—A Review Of KAREN FINLEY: WRITTEN IN SAND Comments (0)

Karen-FinleyFinley is a dazzling stage presence who's still got a lot to say—and that voice with which to say it.

BOY CULTURE REVIEW: ***1/2 out of ****

The last time I saw Karen Finley on stage was around 1990 in Chicago, at the height of her notoriety as one of the NEA Four—artists whose grants were voided when right-wingers decided to make an issue of their work's sexual and political content. I recall her being smeared in chocolate pudding, among other things. It was a heady time for edgy performers—I saw Finley, Annie Sprinkle (my first cervix sighting!) and Lypsinka the same year—but there must be something in the air, because I just saw two of those three again in 2014.

KarenFinley-sand-300x175Finley is performing Karen Finley: Written in Sand at Baruch Performing Arts Center every Thursday through October 23. The show is a 90-minute, stripped down collection of her AIDS-related work, consisting of Finley and a musical accompanist. I have to say that while it begins with a characteristically out-there series of vignettes (and ends with an amazing tribute to the black sheep of the world), the show quickly becomes irresistibly, uncomfortably, movingly intimate; she's able to summon up vivid visions of the many friends she's lost to AIDS with sometimes sad, sometimes sly in-jokes and the verbal shorthand that exists between all friends.

Just hearing her unique speech in person was exciting to me—this is, after all, the woman who commanded us all to drop our ghetto blasters:

Karen at 1:39, 2:27, etc.

I found her works challenging and raw, even as Finley herself—she would emerge from in character every so often to wink at us and reassure us, or to charmingly play off any rough transitions—came across as endearingly open and flat-out funny.

Bonus of seeing Karen Finley in 2014 instead of 1990? Jesse Helms is dead.

Keep reading for some classic Finley works...

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Oct 03 2014
Need To Know: LiLo Blow + Tight End + Made For A Man (But I Like It, Too) + The Goldwyn Standard + White Mischief + MORE! Comments (0)

Raven-Symone
*widget boy cultureRaven-Symoné subtly shades ex-roomie Lindsay Lohan.

*widget boy cultureOne of the best butts on any football player. Ever.

*widget boy cultureWomen love gay male porn?

*widget boy cultureTeresa & Joe Giudice will serve prison time. Yay!

*widget boy culturePHWOAR!: Ben Cohen's 2015 calendar cover revealed.

*widget boy cultureNew York Times also loved Tail! Spin!

*widget boy cultureDisgusting rationale behind lesbian moms' suit over black sperm donor.

Scott-foley-800Tony Goldwyn's having a go at Scott Foley. I want a go at Tony Goldwyn!

*widget boy cultureHollywood is a dog-eat-dog town!

*widget boy culturePresident Obama tweaks FOX News over healthcare.

*widget boy cultureHIV traced to the Congo in the '20s.

*widget boy cultureIf you like the Artist Often Known as Prince, click here now.

*widget boy cultureRandy Quaid and his wife are lunatics.

*widget boy cultureAfter the jump, hear Megan Mulally's advice on what NOT to wear...

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Oct 02 2014
Political Animals: A Review Of TAIL! SPIN! Comments (0)

Playbill-Tail-Spin

BOY CULTURE REVIEW: ***1/2 out of ****

Had a great night at the opening of Tail! Spin! at the Lynn Redgrave Theater (45 Bleecker St., NYC). Comic VIPS (Robert Kline, Mo Rocca) and well-heeled voyeurs packed the house for Mario Correa's show, a clever, unflinching re-enactment of some of the most embarrasing sex scandals of recent years, using the actual words spoken by the high-profile politicos embroiled in them.

Tail2f-2-webNate Smith is the total package.

Far from a rote reading, the show is intricately stitched together to wring maximum laughs and insights from the damning words of the notorious, sort of the political version of what Lypsinka does.

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Sep 25 2014
She Knows What It Is To Be Bad...She's Been Bad Comments (0)

Lindsay-Lohan

Lindsay Lohan's stage debut in Speed-the-Plow in London sounds disastrous.