Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

40 Weeks: The Joys of Pregnancy Aint What They Used To Be

40 Weeks, by the InViolet Repertory Theater now premiering at the 4th Street Theater, bills itself as a comedic drama about love, marriage, parenthood and the life you thought you deserved. But the show makes the unfortunate choice to focus on an extremely unpleasant, one might even say hatefully bitter, young lady and the husband she treats with distain bordering on disgust. No one deserves this life.

Jorge Cordova and Megan Hart
Jorge Cordova plays Mark, the beleaguered husband to Angie, played by Megan Hart. These two meet cute in the rain, where Mark picks up the obviously distraught Angie and they go for a drink on the promise that he doesn’t ask her what’s bothering her. Flash forward five years, and Angie, now adding angry to distraught, is married to Mark and she announces over dinner she might be pregnant. She shares the joyous news by throwing a freshly pee’ed upon stick on to the dinner table, just north of the fried rice. She then reacts indignantly when this news isn’t accepted with open arms.

What is missing from 40 weeks, which would be a wonderful screenplay, is the quick montage to music where Mark and Angie laugh, grow and show warmth to each other. We see none of that, nor is it even hinted at. What we see is Mark, five years on, beaten down and performing like a misbehaving child trying to get on mom’s good side. And five years of life with Mark, and an emotionally fulfilling job of being a doctor to low income families, certainly hasn’t turned poor Angie’s frown upside down.

Ronan Babbitt and Michelle David spice up 40 Weeks
picture credits : Michael Mallard
Luckily, things in the secondary plot are much better. Mark’s boss, Scott-the-lawyer is a confirmed bachelor. Scott is played by Ronan Babbitt who reminds one of a very rakish and charming young Hugh Laurie. He falls for Molly, Angie’s old girlfriend and the source of her sourness – Molly dumped Angie way back when and now shows back up in the life after a stint in Africa, doctoring to the impoverished. Scott and Molly date, while at the same time Molly starts a friendship with Angie that moves dangerously close to flirtatious - very quickly falling into old habits.

Michelle David plays Molly with a bravado that makes you root for her. She is the equal to Scott, both playful and sexual. And, although she clearly has feelings for Scott, Ms. David does full credit to her emotional side as Molly falls, once again, for Angie. Molly is a whirlwind of attraction and fun. Kind of a 2011 take on Eve Arden circa 1940’s – a high compliment.

The pace picks up as the show progresses, primarily because the Scott and Molly story moves to the forefront. And their story moves in an interesting and believable way, right up until the very end. It falls apart in what seems like an tacked on wrap up. The unintended moral is that all a lesbian needs is a good man or a baby to put her on the straight and narrow – which can’t be what was intended.

This is the first play by Michael Henry Harris, and he shows some real flare for language and spontaneity.  40 Weeks would work well as a movie, as it is made up of well thought out, nicely written and easily digestible scenes; scenes in which everyone is given a chance to shine. And some quick intercutting would allow another side of Angie to show through.

Director Danton Stone moves the action forward in a simple, uncluttered manner. It allows the actors to drive the piece.

Ultimately 40 Weeks is frustrating because there is definitely a very good show in there somewhere, I just wanted more of it to come out.

40 Weeks
4th Street Theater (tickets)
Director: Danton Stone
Playwright: Michael Henry Harris
Cast: Ronan Babbitt, Jorge Cordova, Michelle David, Megan Hart, Deanna Sidoti

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Design: Fraver- Four Decades of Theater Poster Art Exhibition

“ D E S I G N :   F R A V E R ”

A New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
 Corridor Exhibit Celebrating the Work of 
Legendary Theatrical Advertising Artist
Frank “Fraver” Verlizzo

Having created poster art for over 300 Broadway and Off Broadway productions, including some of the most memorable designs in theatre history, Frank "Fraver" Verlizzo's indelible mark on the landscape of the American theatre is widely recognized throughout the industry.  In 1987, Fraver received a Special Drama Desk Award for "inspired artwork for theatrical productions," an honor never before bestowed in the area of theatrical advertising. Peter Marks, in The New York Times, said of his work, "The images Mr. Verlizzo creates become a part of the production's permanent record.  The rest could very well be theatrical history."  Fraver's unforgettable designs include the original Broadway productions of Sweeney ToddSunday in the Park with GeorgeThe Lion King and Ira Levin's Deathtrap.

“Design: Fraver” will be on view through April 30, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Audition for Almodovar plays at Centro Espanol

A.C.E. Award-Winning Performance Returns
February 13 - June 5 at Centro Espanol

Inma Heredia, winner of the A.C.E. Award for Best Actress by the Association Entertainment Critics of NYC, returns with her award-winning solo performance MY AUDITION FOR ALMODOVAR.  Created and directed by Alberto Ferreras (creator of the Habla Series for HBO and author of the award winning novel “B as in Beauty”), performances will run at Centro Espanol from February 13 (opening) - June 5.

MY AUDITION FOR ALMODOVAR explores the sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always absurd experiences of an actress who tries to succeed in America in spite of her thick Spanish accent. Complete with comedy, songs and flamenco dancing, it is a magical, musical, and hysterical journey from the heart of Seville to the small intestine of New York City. MY AUDITION FOR ALMODOVAR is the chance of a lifetime for an actress on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Inma Heredia is the first - and only - flamenco comedienne in the world. Born and raised in Seville, Spain, she has salero, a distinctive charm and charisma. She has trained at the London's Stopga Theatre Company, the Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices in Poland, and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York. Her diverse stage credits include a national tour with Angry Jellow Bubbles, Dulcinea in "The Adventures of Don Quixote" at the Hudson Guild Theatre, Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Playtime Series/Theater Vision, and "Culture for Peace" at the United Nations. She has also appeared at venues include the Apollo Theatre, the Comedy Store in Hollywood, and as hostess for the hit show "Latinas Don't P.M.S.” Her TV credits include HBO's Latino "Habla" and "Habla Ya" campaigns (directed by Alberto Ferreras), Comedy Central, HITN, Supercanal, Telemundo, and Univision. On the big screen, Inma stars opposite Louis Zorich in the Giovanis Brothers award-winning film "Run It." Her solo show MY AUDITION FOR ALMODOVAR premiered in July of 2010 at Teatro IATI’s Performing Arts Marathon before moving to Centro Español where it ran in October and November 2010.

MY AUDITION FOR ALMODOVAR runs Sundays February 13, March 6, April 3, May 1 & June 5 at 7:00pm. Centro Español is located at 239 West 14th Street, between 7th Ave and 8th Avenues (accessible from the A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, & L trains). Running time is 75 minutes. Tickets are $25, available at

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Body Politic: Love, Treachery, Politics, and Laughs

The Body Politic, now playing at 59E59 Theater, attempts to both parody our political system and tell a love story. It succeeds in the love story, but the parody of politics falls flat. The Republicans and Democrats that inhabit The Body Politic can’t compete with the over the top accusations that fly in real life.

When telling the story of Spencer Davis, played by Matthew Boston, and Trish Rubenstein, played by Eve Danzseisen, The Body Politic captures the moment of attraction and spark. Spencer and Trish are both young and idealistic true believers in the system, although in opposite systems. Writers Richard Abrons and Margarett Perry have created two intelligent characters that promote their competing ideology fairly and give grudging respect to each other. Spence and Trish share the campaign trail on opposite sides of a Presidential campaign. Their attraction is obvious to everyone around them, and the campaigns both think they can exploit a possible relationship.

Mr. Boston and Ms Rubenstein are able to convey the attraction within multiple layers of distrust, annoyance and word play. It is a fun ride and kudos out to these two actors who make the audience believe in them. Watching Mr. Boston’s Spence listen to a Democratic stump speech is hilarious.

Unfortunately, the political side of the show isn’t nearly as sharp. It isn’t the fault of the cast, which tries mightily to propel the show with a sense of fun, it is just the political humor feels stale. The story has a stereotypical Republican and Democratic candidate, and two experienced operatives for whom the campaign is one skirmish in an on-going battle. All are acted capably, but the jokes mainly fall short of funny.

Director Margarett Perry pulls some great bits out of the show, and keeps the pace moving well. As the show continues, it plays up the love and competition between Spence and Trish, and so The Body Politic ends stronger than it starts. Never bad, there is a feeling that the show isn’t quite as good as you want it to be – occasionally hilarious and ultimately touching, but missing something.

The Body Politic

Playwrights: Richard Abrons and Margarett Perry

Director: Margarett Perry

Cast: Matthew Boston, Eve Danzeisen, Brian Dykstra, Leslie Hendrix, Daren Kelly

Michael Puzzon

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Upcoming @ Cherry Lane - A Perfect Future

A Perfect Future
A World Premiere
By David Hay
Directed by Wilson Milam
at The Cherry Lane Theater
38 Commerce Street
Previews begin February 4, 2011

Opening Night February 17, 2011

Tony Award-winning producer Andy SandbergWhitney Hoagland Edwards and Neal-Rose Creations present the world premiere of the provocative new play, A Perfect Future, by David Hay (The Maddening Truth) with direction by Tony Award-nominee Wilson Milam (The Lieutenant of Inishmore).  The four-member cast features Donna Bullock (Ragtime, “Against the Grain”as Natalie, Scott Drummond (Hamlet, “All My Children”as Mark, Daniel Oreskes (Billy Elliot, The Miracle Worker) as Elliot, and Michael T. Weiss (The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, “The Pretender”) as John.
A Perfect Future is a darkly comic and provocative play that explores the question of whether people can be married and truly love each other when their political persuasions are diametrically opposed.  This high-society evening is about to turn into a night of sexually charged mind-games that could change their lives forever.   New York power-couple John and Natalie are hosting a dinner for Elliot, a friend from their days as college radicals. Also invited to the party is Mark, a straight-laced young man from John’s risk management firm. With the help of a few too many expensive bottles of wine, the group’s past and their long buried secrets resurface. Over the course of this raucous evening, their basic belief systems are upended, as the four must come to terms with each other’s true politics and behavior

A Perfect Future will play the following schedule February 4 – 27:  Tuesdays – Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.  Please note:  There are no matinee performances on February 5 & 6.   Beginning February 28, the schedule will change to:  Mondays & Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m., dark on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Your Image: Two Brothers' Search for Their History in the Flotsam of Their Father's Belongings

In Your Image, now playing at the 59E59 Theaters is a thoughtful and entertaining look at male family relationships. It explores the fraternal link between two brothers, now grown men, who were abandoned by their father when they were just kids. The relationship or lack of one, with their father colors their trust in each other and their own self-image. The brothers, apparently after a few years of estrangement, meet while cleaning their father’s trash littered apartment after the father was discovered dead by neighbors.

The younger brother, Warren is played by Rob Benson – who also wrote the piece. Warren is a bit of an obsessive compulsive individual. He can’t remember his father, and searches among the detritus of the apartment for a clue to the man who abandoned the family so long ago. It is a desperate and fruitless search and he looks for clues to a thirty year old mystery. Mr. Benson’s character seems a bit too forced and mannered, but the son’s anguish and questions come blazing out of him – unable to be bottled up anymore.

Roger Clark plays the older brother, Chris, who is left curiously unmoved by his father’s death. Mr. Clark’s Chris had to step up to be the man of the family after the father left. Forced to take care of mom and his younger brother, who was emotionally and physically scarred, Chris is alternatively protective and embittered. The brothers’ relationship is not only believable, but completely relatable. Forced into the roles of both caretaker and best friend, Chris is quickly frustrated by Warren and yet extremely protective of him and his feelings. It results in outbursts of anger, followed by patches of apologies.

Warren has no memories of the father, so he forces Chris shares his; many of them happy times spent with a popular drunk, before the alcohol settled in and changed him. Warren wants to make sense out of his father’s things, and romantically tries to conjure up an interesting life – and a reason that he would abandon the family. Chris is more practical, the trash and empty bottles testifying to a drunk and lazy coward more than some fanciful father who missed his family.

It is heartbreaking to see the dreams of Warren being confronted with the truth of the situation.

In Your Image is a quick show, less than 90 minutes, most of it in the first act. After a quick intermission, we flash back to meet the father, played with gusto by John Michalski – and get the story of why he left and why he stayed away. There isn’t anything redeeming about the selfish drunk, except maybe that he stayed away. But his selfish musings bring closure for his son Chris, and convince him to review his life’s path.

The set design, by Kacie Hultgren, shows a flat inhabited by someone, but not really lived in. It is more the inside of a dumpster, than a home. It actually feels fake, until the moment that John Michalski inhabits it like a second skin. Directed by Deborah Wolfson, In Your Image takes a while to build the story, but ultimately that story is both powerful and profound.

In Your Image

Website / Tickets

Playwright: Rob Benson

Director: Deborah Wolfson

Cast: Rob Benson, Roger Clark, John Michalski

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Road to Qatar: More Wandering In The Desert - This Time For Laughs

The Road to Qatar, now playing at the York Theater, is an entertaining - occasionally hilarious - new musical that tracks the journey of two New York Jewish writers to create a musical comedy extravaganza for the Emir of Qatar. Unfortunately, the musical, based on the real experiences of the writers Steven Cole and David Krane, ends up as more a series of songs and jokes than an engaging story. Often very funny jokes, but ultimately the show lacks resonance after the lights come up.

James Beaman and Keith Gerchak play the authors; two slightly down on their luck writers, when an offer appears from a Middle East benefactor out of the blue. Mr. Beaman plays the out-going free spirit Michael, who convinces the more cautionary Jeffery, played by Mr. Gerchak, to go on this adventure. It is an adventure that they fantasize will end up like a Bob Hope Bing Crosby classic, and in many ways it does.

Sarah Stiles, Bill Nolte, James Beaman, Keith Gerchak, and Bruce Warren.
Photos: Carol Rosegg

They are quickly whisked to Dubai, given a rather impossible deadline and put up in a suite at the Burj al-Arab – the only 8-star hotel in the world. There they meet a trio of Arabs. Mansour, the Egyptian producer and general manager, is played well by Bill Nolte. Prince Farid, a member of the Emir of Qatar’s extended family, and self styled movie star, wonderfully overplayed by Bruce Warren. (Mr. Warren doubles as a flamboyant gay Italian director, in some very funny scenes.) Most memorable is Nazirah, a wide eyed newly hired secretary and assistant, played by Sarah Stiles.

Ms. Stiles steals every scene she is in. In the opening bits, Ms Stiles looked like she might be wasted as eye-candy, but she runs with every bit, line and crazy costume the writers throw at her. She is a joy to watch every moment she is on the stage. The bit where Nazirah is translating between the obstinate Prince and the two writers is priceless.

The problem with The Road to Qatar is exactly the same problem that the writers have with the show within a show, Aspire – things happen, but a series of stories and situations isn’t a musical. It’s a bit ironic that the writers make a funny bit about the lack of conflict in the story they are given to produce, but they proceed down the same unfortunate path in their own show.

It is effectively directed by Phillip George, and moves at a snappy pace. The minimal production design (by Chris Kateff) works fine with the props and transitions, but the sets are a little too early-Flintstones. The set styling combined with some questionable portrayals of the Arabs tread the line between comedy and condescending. These Arabs aren’t terrorists, but they are bumbling, nouveau riche hicks with more money than sense. It is a joke that wears thin towards the end of the evening.

All in all, The Road to Qatar is a funny, albeit occasionally repetitive, send up of a funny escapade; but it fades quickly from memory.


The Road To Qatar
Director: Phillip George
Book & Lyrics: Stephen Cole, Music: David Krane
Cast: James Beaman, Keith Gerchak, Bill Nolte, Sarah Stiles, Bruce Warren

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tell The Way: Nico Muhly and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus at Saint Ann's Warehouse

In Tell the WayNico Muhly takes us on a musical and cultural voyage with travel diaries revealed by divergent voices, sitar, banjo, strings and electronica. As both composer and captain of the ship, Muhly has gathered a fantastic ensemble of artists for the journey, each with a special style and sound, channeled through the medium of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Our young singers display a range and palette of sound that belies their age and transcends the traditional angel chorus role.  While BYC has accompanied both classical and non-classical artists, ranging from the New York Philharmonic to Lou Reed to Grizzly Bear, in this program, they perform all of it at once! With so much talent and youthful energy converging on St. Ann's stage, Tell the Way is sure to be the best round-trip ticket in town!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

John Patrick Shanley's New Show Seems... Different than His Past Ones.

a comedy by
John Patrick Shanley
Pulitzer Prize Winner for DoubtAcademy Award Winner for Moonstruck
Directed by Brian Tom O'Connor
DRILLING COMPANY THEATRE236 West 78th Street, 3rd Fl.(bet. Broadway & Amsterdam Aves)Theatre is not handicap accessible

A Drunk, a Virgin and a Ho. Is there Hope?
Three grade school classmates run into each other at a Bronx bar. Their lives did not turn out as they thought. Will they end up frenemies, roommates, or rivals? A touching, gutsy comedy by Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winner, John Patrick Shanley (Doubt, Moonstruck). Presented by Rosalind Productions, Inc. and The Platform Group.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Upcoming at 59E59 Theaters: The Body Politic

Romantic Comedy Looks at Love on the Political Campaign Trail
Off-Broadway Engagement begins February 10 at 59E59

At Hand Theatre Company presents the World premiere of THE BODY POLITIC, written by Richard Abrons and Margarett Perry and directed by Margarett Perry. Previews of this limited engagement Off-Broadway run begin Thursday, February 10 at 59E59. 

A heartfelt and hilarious look at love on the campaign trail, THE BODY POLITIC is a new old-fashioned romantic comedy about a pair of high-ranking politcos from opposing parties who find themselves falling in love. Can this political odd couple navigate a steamy bipartisan romance behind party lines?

THE BODY POLITIC features Matthew Boston (Magic Hands Freddy, That Damned Dykstra), Eve Danzeisen (The Melting Pot with Transport Group), Brian Dykstra (HBO's Def Poetry, Clean Alternatives), Leslie Hendrix (Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers on all four Law & Order series), Daren Kelly (Broadway's Crazy for You) and Michael Puzzo (film adaptation of Doubt, Penalties and Interest at The Public Theater).


Due to overwhelming ticket demand, ROOM 17B has added third performance on Saturday, February 5 at 5:30 PM. Now in its final week at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison), the performance schedule is Tuesday – Wednesday at 7:30 PM; Thursday - Friday at 8:30 PM; Saturday at 2:30 PM, 5:30 PM and 8:30 PM; and Sunday at 3:30 PM. Tickets are $25 ($17.50 for 59E59 Members). The show must close on Sunday, February 6. To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or go to

The boss wants to maintain control; his assistant wants to be the boss; the sales rep wants to win; and the company man wants to avoid conflict. Welcome to the chaotic office of ROOM 17B, where filing cabinets hold something stranger than paperwork. The ideal show for anyone who feels like they work in a circus.