And the 69th Annual Tony Award Nominees Are…

As you can tell, I’ve been too busy to update this blog!!!!! RAAAAAAR!

*smashes computer*

*smashes buildings*

*sits panting, admiring the wreckage, contemplating life*

But here’s why:

Fun Home

‘Fun Home’ is the greatest piece of musical theater in decades

I’m going to do a quick rundown of all the shows I’ve covered in some way for Backstage, which double as my NYC theater recommendations. If you can, do yourself a favor and check out some of this year’s extraordinary shows, many of which were just nominated for Tony Awards.

Hand to God: If you miss it, you’re committing blasphemy. Playwright Rob Askins and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel are geniuses, check out my interview with them. The show deserves all the awards.

Fun Home: I cried so much during this musical, I was dehydrated. Possibly the most affecting, cathartic, brilliant, gorgeous, and wondrously personal show anyone could see. A lot has been written about its creators Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, here’s my humble addition to that.

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Smart Reads: Jack Smart Edition #7

The Human Symphony

Dylan Marron’s ‘The Human Symphony’

Wonderful internet wormholes you should fall into:

  • Web series!: Good Cop Great Cop (superb absurdist comedy), Paragon School for Girls (if you want to feel a liiittle bit high), SRSLY (proof that creating your own online content can lead to lucrative work!)
  • Kate McClanaghan, now a contributing Backstage Expert, has some really excellent advice for actors looking to break into the voiceover industry. Ditto Jennifer Ashley Tepper of NYC’s 54 Below when it comes to cabaret.
  • Although the fervor of awards season has (blessedly) subsided, it may tickle you to learn where all this year’s acting nominees got their start on screen, especially if you’re still enraged about Patricia Arquette’s Oscar snub for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Also – my apologies – I wrote about next year’s Oscars too.
  • I interviewed the writer behind Let the Right One In, the only horror theater I’ve ever seen that actually made me leap out of my seat like a ninny.
  • David Ives is a theater genius! I got to pick his genius brain a little bit about his invigorating new collection of one-acts at Primary Stages, Lives of the Saints.
  • Check out my alliteration: 9 Fabulous February Films!

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Kristin Chenoweth Rides ‘On the Twentieth Century’ Back to Broadway

My Wicked-obsessed teenage self was very excited to sit down with the one and only Kristin Chenoweth recently. If you are in the New York area at all, get your hands on a ticket to On the Twentieth Century. It’s all-out musical hysteria and this diva completely nails it. Check out my cover story over at Backstage! And stay tuned!

Kristin Chenoweth on the cover of Backstage

Photo source: Matt Doyle

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Smart Review: POST TRAUMATIC SUPER DELIGHTFUL

There are only two more chances to see Antonia Lassar’s rip-roaring, thought-provoking, solo-clown show Post Traumatic Super Delightful, at the New York Frigid Festival: Wednesday, March 4 at 5:30pm and Friday, March 6 at 8:30pm. See it! See it if you consider yourself a feminist, see it if you or someone you know identifies as a survivor of sexual assault, see it if you’re a college graduate. Lassar and director Angela Dumlao are using the power of theater to both educate audiences on an increasingly hot-button issue and offer a revolutionary way of discussing it: through laughter. Read my review below or over at TheatreIsEasy.com.

Post Traumatic Super Delightful

Antonia Lassar in ‘Post Traumatic Super Delightful.’ Photo by Kati Frazier.

BOTTOM LINE: Equal parts incisive and hysterical, Antonia Lassar’s one-woman show investigates sexual assault on college campuses using clowning and laughter as a means of healing.

Can sexual assault be funny? As one character in Antonia Lassar’s Post Traumatic Super Delightful points out, laughter “means connection with someone.” What better way, then, to cope with the lingering anguish of rape than finding a way to collectively laugh about it?

Lassar’s solo show, now playing at the Kraine Theater as part of the aptly named Frigid New York Festival, opens with a series of fart noises interrupting a tormented confession from a survivor. The scene invites you to laugh — in fact it dares you not to — just as the play later invites you to sympathize with an alleged rapist. Continue reading

Oscars 2015 Recap: The Broadcast’s Most Emotional Moment

First of all, let’s get best dressed out of the way:

Emma Stone

Emma Stone blew everybody out of the water (and got covered in seaweed?) with this chartreuse Elie Saab number

My initial reaction: “What is that, seaweed?? WTF she looks like an alien!” Second reaction: “Ohmygosh it’s like. Seaweed. Like sexy glamorous seaweed. She’s a sexy glamorous bug-eyed alien.” By the end of the night: “Wait, everybody at this year’s Oscars is dressed so conservatively and here’s Emma Stone, national treasure, resident alien supermodel, dressed in a wildly unusual and eye-catching color. Not only does nobody else on this carpet stand out like she does, nobody in all of awards season dared to wear something as bizarre and striking as this! And look at that face!! She freaking KNOWS. All hail, bitches!!!”

Anyway. Patricia Arquette’s speech was great, and Meryl and JLo’s joint reaction was even better. I’m happy for Julianne, I don’t really have words for what happened with Menzel and Travolta, and seeing Julie Andrews did my heart good. The ceremony was full of some unexpectedly cathartic moments; in defiance of #OscarsSoWhite we were treated to a rousing performance of Selma‘s “Glory” followed by an unabashedly political speech from John Legend and Common. Here’s hoping the Academy can pull their head out of their asses a bit more and open their minds to films that aren’t only biopics centering on brilliant misunderstood white dudes.

But for me, I must admit, the most emotional part of the broadcast – tears spring to my eyes just thinking about it – came somewhere in the middle….

 

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Smart Pick of the Month: Bob’s Burgers

I know I’m late to this party, but Bob’s Burgers has been getting me through the cold hellish madness of February in NYC. As the snow outside lather-rinse-repeats itself into grotesque gray slush, I’ve been curled up with Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene, and Louise Belcher, laughing at their endearing foibles and astonishing comic timing. It’s a show about losers, but a family of losers – there’s too much heart for us to ever be laughing at their expense. The above clip is from the season 5 premiere, where the cast to sings the title song from their theatrical mashup of “Working Girl” and “Die Hard,” joined by Carly Simon.

“Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl” is basically my 2015 motto.

Smart Review: NEVERMORE

I recently sat through a musical adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s life, and if you couldn’t tell by my use of the phrase “sat through,” it didn’t quite thrill me. Here’s my TheatreIsEasy.com review of Catalyst Theatre’s Nevermore, which I sincerely wish I could have titled “Edgar Allan Nope.”

Nevermore

This critic shall sit through an Edgar Allan Poe musical NEVERMORE GET IT

BOTTOM LINE: Although designers may appreciate the elaborate steampunk costumes, this Edgar Allan Poe musical neglects and reduces its subject to a series of basic bullet points.

In last year’s Red Eye to Havre de Grace, New York Theatre Workshop staged Edgar Allan Poe’s last days with innovative theatricality and exquisite dread. It may not seem fair to compare such an achievement to Catalyst Theatre’s Nevermore, now playing at New World Stages, but both productions do in fact share a protagonist, despite vast cosmetic differences. Where one was a haunting meditation on the cost of genius, the other is a musical confection that shrinks, flattens, and buffs our collective image of Poe to a sickly-sweet shine. Indeed, were the man himself to rise from the grave and stalk the theatre’s aisles, he might not even recognize this quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

Nevermore deploys a familiar aesthetic, a kind of glamorous moroseness made popular by everyone from Margaret Keane to Lemony Snicket. Designers take note: Bretta Gerecke’s black and white garments are a marvel of ingenuity. Although at odds with her curiously industrial set of metal bars and sliding doors, the Victorian steampunk vibe allows the designer to hide elaborate delights in her handiwork. As the cartoonish cast of narrators embody the players in Poe’s life, the whole thing looks like an unusually dark children’s TV show meant to educate but mostly dazzle. It’s a Disneyland ride as brought to you by the Addams Family. It’s Tim Burton’s Seussical.

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