DANCE AND THEATER

'YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU' IS BACK AGAIN AND AS DAZZLING AS EVER
BY TAMARA BECK
LONG
before the sitcom came into everyone's living room, there was a great American comedy deeply ingrained in theatrical tradition. "You Can't Take It With You," in a beautifully staged and spectacular revival at the Longacre Theatre through 4 Jan. 2015, is a bright and shining part of that heritage. "#YCTIWY," as it is widely advertised, is George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's Pulitzer-winning play, written in 1936 and first produced at the Booth Theatre from December of that year until December 1938. The show has been on Broadway stages often over the years since, most recently in 1983. As reincarnated here with a gorgeous set by David Rockwell and under the expert guidance of Scott Ellis, "#YCTIWY" is as sparkly and modern a rom-com as any seen in years. The Sycamores, mother Penny (Kristine Nielsen), father Paul (Mark Linn-Baker), daughter Essie (Annaleigh Ashford) and her husband, Ed Carmichael (Will Brill), live under Penny's father's beneficent roof. Grandpa is Martin Vanderhof (James Earl Jones) who indulges all their eccentricities and has some of his own. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2014/10/you-cant-take-it-with-you-is-back-again.html


MAZZINI DANCE COLLECTIVE AND DANCES PATRELLE MAKE IT SHORT AND (HOPEFULLY) SWEET
BY TAMARA BECK
ONE
tends to assume that the season of a production will be at least a few months. Occasionally, however, it can pass as quickly as a schoolboy's summer. Such is the case next month when two dance companies will showcase blink-of-an eye seasons, condensed into just a few days. The Mazzini Dance Collective (MDC), founded by former Paul Taylor Dance Company principal, Annmaria Mazzini, is an interdisciplinary, multi-generational troupe. It defines itself as a family collaborative of young dancers inspired by veterans to reach new levels of excellence in technique and choreography. Several premieres will be presented during the inaugural season on 6 and 7 Sept. Francis Patrelle, of the eponymous Dances Patrelle (dP), home to the FP-choreographed annual "Yorkville Nutcracker," presents a season in honor of dP's 25th anniversary. For three days (11-14 Sept.), he offers his take on the immortal story of young love. His "Romeo & Juliet" is set to Prokofiev's score. Unlike Baz Luhrmann, FP doesn't modernize it. This is a classicist version in celebration of Shakespeare's 450th birthday. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2014/08/mazzini-dance-collective-and-dances.html


NOT SO SHORT '...SHORTS' FROM THROUGHLINE ARTISTS
BY TAMARA BECK
FASHIONS
change, but as the song says, "We wear short shorts." Covering everything with a tight little pair is a challenge. The challenge is mostly met in the 2014 "Summer Shorts" festival, currently playing at 59E59 Theaters through 29 and 30 Aug. There was a time not so long ago when the Throughline Artists-produced series featured truly pithy plays.This season, some are more a Bermuda shorts length. Only one is of a below-the-knee style. None would be considered really short shorts, which is not to suggest that most of the "Summer Shorts" in repertory on two bills – Series A and Series B – are anything but crisp and stylish. The set design by Rebecca Lord-Surratt is all-purpose clever. It serves for the six plays with only minor alterations made by stagehands between playlets. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2014/08/long-winded-summer-shorts-from.html


'THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE' IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH ITS DRAMATIC ROOTS
BY TAMARA BECK
INSPIRATION
often finds us in the darkest times. "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane" tells the heartfelt story of Lisa Jura, who at 14, was sent from her home in Vienna to live and work in England. Mona Golabek is the star and co-creator, with Lee Cohen, of the book. Hershey Felder adapted it for the stage and directs. It is based on the experiences of MG's mother's during WWII, recounted in “The Children of Willesden Lane - Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir Of Music, Love, and Survival.” "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane" is beautifully told in words and piano accompaniment. MG is a charming narrator, channeling mostly her mother's voice and performances at the Steinway, but enacting other characters in this solo presentation.
Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2014/07/the-pianist-of-willesden-lane-in.html


IN THIS WORLD, THE TONY GOES TO ...
BY TAMARA BECK
THOUGH
still reeling from the works and performances that didn't and should have been nominated for an award, one must handicap the “68th Annual Tony Awards.” Such an undertaking does present some challenges, but I rise to the occasion. To hedge my bets, my predictions will be limited to the major awards. That is, Best Lead Actress in a Play, Best Lead Actor in a Play, Best Play, Best Revival of a Play, Best Lead Actress in a Musical, Best Lead Actor in a Musical, Best Musical, Best Revival of a Musical. It was clear that Tyne Daly's astounding performance as Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's "Master Class" in 2011 was staged too early in the year to be remembered by the time the nominations came in. Obviously, the Tony committee would not recall (or honor) in June what was on stage the previous summer. If members choose to rectify the oversight this year by nominating TD in the Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play category, so be it. TD's Katharine Gerard in another TMcN play, "Mothers and Sons," is damn fine work. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2014/06/in-this-world-tony-goes-to.html


CRUELEST CUTS OF THE TONY AWARDS COMMITTEE
BY TAMARA BECK
WHEN Lucy Liu
and Jonathan Groff announced the nominations for the “68th Annual Tony Awards” on 29 April, there were serious oversights. Some fine and/or interesting productions, as well as superb performances were overlooked. First, gripes about the ones that shoulda been named, then predictions about the winners from those that made the cut. If this reviewer takes it personally, imagine how the casts and creatives on the unacknowledged and under-acknowledged shows feel. Maybe it's just the Tony committee messing with the regular theater-lover's head. Broadway's producers are to be congratulated for taking the chance on so many straight plays, an oft misunderstood and under-appreciated entertainment this season. The applause would be that much louder, though, if unconventional vehicles like “The Realistic Joneses” were in the Tony running. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2014/05/cruelest-cuts-of-tony-awards-committee.html


GORDY TELLS HIS STORY HIS WAY IN 'MOTOWN THE MUSICAL'
BY TAMARA BECK
ONCE
upon a time, Detroit’s assembly lines rolled out lots of big cars. In those days the Motor City was also home to a big sound that caught on across the nation and the world. You might say it had folks, as the title of the famous Martha Reeves and the Vandellas song goes, “Dancing In The Streets.” The reminiscences of those halcyon days by Motown record company founder Berry Gordy inform “Motown The Musical.” Based on his book, “To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, the musical is in an open run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2013/05/gordy-tell-his-story-his-way-in-motown.html


'RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA' IS AGE APPROPRIATE
BY TAMARA BECK
THE
point of fairytales is, as the old Disney tune has it, that “they can come true.” As a rule they don’t feature a self-reliant heroine or an overly introspective hero. However, this is the 21st century, and things have changed – at least with the “Cinderella” story. Douglas Carter Beane has updated the book and added some songs, written with David Chase, to “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” The musical is making its Broadway debut in an open run at the Broadway Theatre. This Prince Topher (Santino Fontana) – short for Christopher and a string of amusing monikers – is a lovely young dragonslayer who wishes he “could do more with my life.” Once the Prince meets Cinderella (Laura Osnes) his resolve to do better grows. The two will rid the kingdom of corruption. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2013/04/rodgers-hammersteins-cinderella-is-age.html


IN 'WUNDERKAMMER,' CIRCA THRIVES ON BREAKING BARRIERS
BY TAMARA BECK
WHAT’S
a “Wunderkammer” Circa?
The second first. Circa is an Australian circus troupe that, among other things, staged a self-titled show at the NYU Skirball Center more than a decade ago. “Wunderkammer” is the name of Circa’s new show. It has its U.S. premiere at the Skirball Center. “Wunderkanner,” part of the Visions + Voices Global Performance Series, is a sexy and dynamic spectacle, featuring an ensemble of seven that blends contemporary dance with innovative movement, shifting the perceptions and practice of circus arts. This is not your grandma’s circus act. Under the artistic direction of Yaron Lifschitz, Circa creates genre-bending pieces that celebrate the expressive possibilities of the human body at its extremes. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2013/03/wunderkammer-circa-thrives-on-breaking.html


HARD TIMES FUEL DESPERATE MEASURES IN 'BETHANY'
BY TAMARA BECK
HOPELESSNESS
often fuels reckless behavior.
In Laura Marks’ “Bethany” a woman’s financial woes sap her judgment. The Women’s Project world premiere production is at New York City Center Stage II. Crystal (America Ferrera) encounters Gary (Tobias Segal) when she breaks into the foreclosed house in which he is already squatting. On the surface Crystal appears to be a cheerful survivor, but her suggestion to Gary that they be housemates hints at the depth of her distress. There’s a lot of hard sell in “Bethany.” The very sleazy Charlie (Ken Marks) is selling prosperity and opportunity. Crystal sells luxury cars. Given the sliding economy that is the backdrop to “Bethany,” all this is based on delusion. Each salespitch is a fraud that hides a secret. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2013/02/hard-times-fuel-desperate-measures-in.html


TWO STORIES DIVERGE IN 'WATER BY THE SPOONFUL'
BY TAMARA BECK
NOT
every interesting-sounding tale and much anticipated drama delivers on its promise. “Water By the Spoonful,” in an extended run at Second Stage Theatre, has the pedigree and potential to be a blockbuster. It’s written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, a Tony nominee for the book of 2008’s Best Musical Tony winner, “In the Heights.” Furthermore, QAH also received the Pulitzer Prize last year for “Water By the Spoonful,” a sequel to her acclaimed 2007 play “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue.” So what went awry in “Water By the Spoonful” that made it a slog of an experience? Two dissonant threads unravel. This tantalizing premise makes the story exciting but also splits it apart so that the play is bogged down by its disjointed construction. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2013/01/two-stories-diverge-in-water-by-spoonful.html


'TIS ALSO THE TIME OF YEAR TO INDULGE IN ALVIN AILEY
BY TAMARA BECK
FOR
many, taking the kiddies to see a production of “The Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition. Taking in a performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) should also be a favorite diversion of the season for the whole family and any visitors to New York City. AAADT is a national treasure, known far and wide for its showcase “Revelations,” created in 1960 by a 29-year-old Alvin Ailey as a nostalgic tribute to his Texas youth. Going to church with AA is a special privilege. “One of the promises of my company,” founder and choreographer AA said at the time, “is that its repertoire will include pieces that ordinary people can understand ... That’s my perception of what dance should be – a popular form wrenched from the elite.” Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/12/tis-also-time-of-year-to-indulge-in.html


AN OUTSIDER FIGHTING FOR HIS PLACE IN 'GOLDEN BOY'
BY TAMARA BECK
EACH
generation has to find its own way. For immigrants’ sons who carry their fathers’ foreignness within them, belonging to America is a struggle. The ambition, like Joe Bonaparte’s (Seth Numrich) in “Golden Boy,” is to “show ‘em all.” Joe has a particularly thick streak of resentment. His chosen path to glory is with his fists to the dismay of his father (Tony Shalhoub) whose gift to his son is music. Joe, the City’s top young teen violinist, is looking for a very different kind of championship. Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy,” at the Belasco Theatre in a Lincoln Center Theater revival, pits the humanism of music against the noisy brutality of prize fighting. As he commits himself to fighting, Joe also falls in love with Lorna Moon (Yvonne Strahovski), the girl of his manager Tom Moody (Danny Mastrogiorgio). Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/12/an-outsider-fighting-for-his-place-in.html


'EDWARD ALBEE’S WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?' IS 50
BY TAMARA BECK
IT
seems that even love can be a blood sport. In “Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” all of that passion spills out into contentious combat. The play is in a 50th anniversary revival and open run at the Booth Theatre. George (Tracy Letts) and Martha (Amy Morton) duke it out in a battle of words and booze over the course of one long night. Theirs is a perverse love story. Alcohol fuels the parlor games George and Martha play out in front of their bemused guests. “Humiliate the host” and “Get the guest” are not for the faint of heart. At first, it seems that the new guy in biology will not be able to rise to Martha and George’s challenge. But Nick is another one who should not be underestimated. He knows his way around academe. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is a timeless classic of American theater. In its inaugural production in 1962, it won the Tony Award. The revival, ably directed by Pam MacKinnon and on Broadway via Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, is on pace to once again garner honors. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/11/edward-albees-whos-afraid-of-virginia.html


HUMOR IN SPADES IN 'BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK'

BY TAMARA BECK
THE
distance between being a maid and playing a maid may be short. Going from there to Hollywood stardom covers a lot of Jim Crow miles. The distance is the story of the seven-decade journey of the titular character from black maid and bit actor to legend in Lynn Nottage’s “By The Way, Meet Vera Stark.” Vera Stark’s (Sanaa Lathan) off-handed introduction comes soon after the lush purple plisse curtain rises to reveal her reading lines with her employer, Gloria Mitchell (Amanda Detmer takes over the role in LA). They are both preparing to audition for roles in a film called “The Belle of New Orleans.” The script offers a meatier part than was usually given to black actors in Old Hollywood. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/10/humor-in-spades-in-by-way-meet-vera.html


TROUBLED LIFE OF A GREAT FUNNYMAN IN 'CHAPLIN THE MUSICAL'
BY TAMARA BECK
IS
it just a cliché that tragedy informs the lives of funnymen? “Chaplin The Musical,” in an open run at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, makes it clear that it was a deep sadness that dogged the great comedian in all his creative endeavors. Charlie Chaplin (Rob McClure) is haunted by the insanity that took his mother Hannah (Christiane Noll) from him when he was merely 7, (Zachary Unger plays the boy Charlie.) CC, along with his brother Sydney (Wayne Alan Wilcox) went from the London slums into the family business, vaudeville. CC’s success on the stage drew the attention of Mack Sennett (Michael McCormick) who lured him to Hollywood via a cablegram offering him the princely sum of $150 a week. His success in films got him ever more phenomenal sums of money from competing movie companies and eventually his own studio. “Chaplin The Musical” has much to recommend it especially RMcC’s brilliant star turn. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/09/troubled-life-of-great-funnyman-in.html


HOMAGE TO AN ICON IN ‘THE SENSATIONAL JOSEPHINE BAKER’
BY DARALYN JAY
IN “The Sensational Josephine Baker,”
writer/actress/singer Cheryl Howard uses character sketches and songs to tell the fascinating life story of performer Josephine Baker in a 90-minute one-woman performance. The American-born singer, dancer and actress achieved her greatest success in France and enjoyed a 50-year career before her untimely death just days following her anniversary concert in 1975. The play begins and ends in Paris with a 68-year-old JB on the eve of her 50th anniversary concert. After a brief setup portraying the aging diva facing foreclosure and the displacement of her 12 adopted children, CH deftly hops in and out of characters as diverse as a pubescent JB, her abusive mother and doting grandmother, American and French stage managers, a French painter and American-born French nightclub owner Ada “Bricktop” Smith. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/09/homage-to-icon-in-sensational-josephine.html


2-FOR-1 SHOWS DURING BROADWAY & OFF-BROADWAY WEEKS
BY TAMARA BECK
IN
1952, Argentina was enthralled with its charismatic first lady, Eva Peron, when she died tragically at the age of 33. “Evita” is about political intrigue, ambition and sex appeal. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice based their masterwork, in an imperfect and interesting revival at the resplendent Marquis Theatre, on the accounts of worshipful crowds mourning her loss. From Tuesday (4 Sept.) through 16 Sept., tickets to “Evita” – starring Ricky Martin, Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris – and nearly a score of Broadway shows are two for the price of one. That’s right, a twofer. This goes for the high-flying “SPIDER-MAN: Turn off the Dark,” too. The original tale in this Broadway musical based on an iconic comic book figure may be a bit muddled but the stunts are big-top spectacular. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/09/2-for-1-shows-during-broadway-off.html


TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT FOR ‘BIG MAYBELLE: SOUL OF THE BLUES’
THE scuttlebutt is that Lillias White blew the roof off the mother in previews of “Big Maybelle: Soul of The Blues.” Pray tell, what is to happen this very evening when the Tony winner (“The Life”) steps up to the mic as Maybelle Smith at the musical's opening night gala? Are workmen at this very moment battening down the hatches at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theatre, the site of this potentially momentous occasion? “Big Maybelle” chronicles the hard life and good music of the R&B singer-pianist born in Jackson, Tennessee as Mabel Louise Smith. She enjoyed too-brief success – dying in a diabetic coma in 1972 – during the ’50s and ‘60s. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2012/08/tonights-night-for-big-maybelle-soul-of.html


EN POINTE!: 'FOR THE LOVE OF DUKE' HAS THAT SWING
BY TAMARA BECK
SUSAN
Stroman, that Broadway babe who’s won Tonys for both choreography and directing, uses the full vocabulary of ballet in “For the Love of Duke.” The limited run of “For the Love of Duke,” from Wednesday through Sunday (25 May-29 May), is appropriately placed in a Broadway-themed program with George Balanchine’s classic “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” and Jerome Robbins’ equally timeless “West Side Story Suite.” A snazzy two-part dance, “For the Love of Duke,” pairs a spirited new “Frankie and Johnny … and Rose” dance story with “Blossom Got Kissed,” created for the 1998 season. SS explores the juncture between jazz and ballet, making great use of both styles. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/05/en-pointe-for-love-of-duke-has-that.html


CHAPTER AND VERSE IN ‘THE BOOK OF MORMON’
BY TAMARA BECK
“SOUTH
Park” fans have good reason to rejoice! Co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Robert Lopez, who co-wrote “Avenue Q,” have turned unorthodox material into an intelligent and animated musical. In “The Book Of Mormon,” two newly minted missionaries, Elder Cunningham (Josh Gad) and Elder Price (Andrew Rannells), are sent to a small Ugandan village to convert the inhabitants to the Mormon faith. The play is colorful, inventive, offbeat and abundantly charming. It is a serious and irreverent romp. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/05/chapter-and-verse-in-book-of-mormon.html


OLD GLORIES IN ‘THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON’
BY TAMARA BECK
IN
1973, Jason Miller won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony for “That Championship Season.” Nearly 40 years later, the revival starring his son, Jason Patric, and a team of all-stars is still winning, intense and relevant. JP is joined by Chris Noth, Brian Cox, Jim Gaffigan and Kiefer Sutherland. In “That Championship Season,” four players from a trophy-winning high school basketball squad meet at their Coach’s house for a 20th-year reunion. As a team, they were completely in sync, catching passes and making crucial plays. In the course of the alcohol-fueled evening, however, their dissension and disloyalty to each other becomes evident. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/05/old-glories-in-that-championship-season.html


POETIC IS ‘THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT’
BY TAMARA BECK
IT’S
been tough on advertisers and reviewers alike. For the sake of propriety, how many asterisks should be used? For the record, the marquee and the Playbill go with just two.“The Motherf**ker With The Hat” has a profanity-laden script so maybe the title is fair warning of its contents. The title, however, does not do justice to the grace and poetry in its language nor the soulful heart of “The Motherf**ker With The Hat,” recently nominated for six Tonys. Originally meant for an off-Broadway run, the LAByrinth Theater Company production currently at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre through 26 June, gained traction once Chris Rock was onboard. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/05/poetic-is-motherfker-with-hat.html


IN ‘GOOD PEOPLE,’ PAST INTRUDES ON SWELL LIFE
BY TAMARA BECK
“HE’S
good people” doesn’t so much refer to the decency of the complimented as it suggests, “he’s one of us.” The titular “Good People” in David Lindsay-Abaire’s new play in an extended run through 29 May at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre is Dr. Mike Dillon (Tate Donovan). He is a success story from the poor South Boston neighborhood. Mike Dillon left “Southie” to go to college. He has returned to Boston not only as a doctor, but to a house in the fancy, affluent Chestnut Hill section of the city. The good people he has left behind in the old neighborhood lead hardscrabble lives. Read more:
http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/05/in-good-people-past-intrudes-on-good.html


AFTER THE LOVE IS GONE IN ‘MARIE AND BRUCE’
BY TAMARA BECK
WALLACE Shawn’s “Marie and Bruce”
is an offbeat story of love gone askew in which the titular couple is locked in a dance of regrets and recriminations. Much of the action in “Marie and Bruce is explained by Marie’s expositions. For instance, she describes how her day has passed as she prepares to meet Bruce at a dinner party. It becomes clear as the evening wears on that Marie and Bruce are mutually abusive, he passively and she more aggressively. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/photos-from-marie-and-bruce-by-monique.html


GOING ‘GAGA-GAKU’ AT ARMITAGE GONE! DANCE
BY TAMARA BECK
BLEND
Cambodian court theater, Japanese Noh and Balinese dance and the result is “Gaga-Gaku,” choreographer Karole Armitage’s latest work, making its world premiere at the Joyce Theater. Gagaku, which means “elegant music” in Japanese, is a court music. In “Gaga-Gaku,” the Tony-nominated KA pairs her Armitage Gone! Dance hoofers with young ballerinas from the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/going-gaga-gaku-at-armitage-gone-dance.html


IN 'LOVE SONG,' IMAGINATION TAKES FLIGHT
BY TAMARA BECK
JOHN
Kolvenbach’s “Love Song,” is a fantasy which raises a glass to toast [the] “death to literalism.” An imaginary love, Molly (Zoë Winters), enlivens the drab and withdrawn Beane (Andrew Pastides) and brightens the lives of his sister, Joan (Laura Latreille) and brother-in-law, Harry (Ian Barford). Beane falls in love with Molly when she appears in his dull under-furnished room as a “fearsome force” who robs him of his second pair of pants. Molly is everything Beane is not – aggressive, unpredictable. She is also, as Beane fully understands, a figment of his imagination. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/in-love-song-imagination-takes-flight.html



PLODDING 'GO BACK TO WHERE YOU ARE'
BY TAMARA BECK
IN “Go Back to Where You Are,”
Passalus (David Greenspan) is released from an eternity in hell to do an errand for God (Tim Hopper). His mission: to repair to a houseparty on Long Island to help Caroline (an unseen character) liberate herself, though from what exactly is unclear. If Passalus completes his mission as asked, only taking care of Caroline’s predicament, he will be granted the utter oblivion he has requested. He fails by meddling in the lives of others he encounters, including falling in love with Bernard (Brian Hutchison), a playwright. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/plodding-go-back-to-where-you-are.html


SORTING THINGS OUT IN ‘THE OTHER PLACE’
BY TAMARA BECK
LAURIE Metcalf
is seated, holding centerstage, long before the lights dim. For the next 80 minutes in “The Other Place,” she continues to dominate in monologues lobbed directly across the fourth wall, as well as in fiery encounters with both her husband, Ian, an oncologist, and her doctor, Cindy Keller (Aya Cash, billed as The Woman and playing several parts). Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/sorting-things-out-in-other-place.html


SERIOUS GHETTO ‘KLOWN’ING FROM JOHNNY LEGZ
BY TAMARA BECK
“Ghetto Klown,” John Leguizamo’s
latest Broadway offering covers some of the same ground as his Tony-nominated “Freak,” the self-described “Semi-Demi-Quasi-Pseudo Autobiography.” The presentation and production, however, are fresh and of the moment. The performer has made the misery of his home life well known in a series of one-man performance pieces. In “Ghetto Klown,” he also tells tales on his costars and directors from his experiences in making films over the years. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/ghetto-klowning-serious-business-for.html


IN ‘KIN,’ ENDURING RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
BY TAMARA BECK
“KIN”
tells its stories slowly, with a love of the telling and the words it takes to reveal its characters’ lives. Bathsheba Doran’s storytelling is concise and precise. At every turn, “Kin” offers something surprising about its characters and the ordinary complications of their lives. It is a large drama in a short form, well-written and perfectly paced. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/in-kin-enduring-relationship-problems.html


ENCORE FOR SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK REP
BY TAMARA BECK
THE
Public Theater continues its “experiment” this year with a repertory program for its 2011 edition of Shakespeare in the Park. “Measure for Measure” and “All’s Well That Ends Well,” two lesser known of William Shakespeare’s works, sometimes said to be his “problem plays,” since they are comedies with dark moods and subject matter. They run from 6 June to 30 July and will be staged at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, the home of Shakespeare in the Park. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/hamming-it-up-big-time-in-wittenberg.html


HAMMING IT UP BIG TIME IN ‘WITTENBERG’
BY TAMARA BECK
PLAYWRIGHT David Davalos
uses William Shakespeare’s well-worn conceit about Hamlet’s indecisiveness to set up his comedy, “Wittenberg.” The Prince is on the fence. Should he follow the teachings of Dr. Faustus (reason) or those of Martin Luther (faith)?
Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/04/hamming-it-up-big-time-in-wittenberg.html


DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE TO THE TUNE OF PAUL TAYLOR?
BY TAMARA BECK
DANCERS
who think they have the moves should submit a video no longer than 90 seconds that conveys their love of dance and explains why they deserve to attend the Paul Taylor Dance Company Summer Intensive in New York City. The competition is open to all genres. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/think-you-can-dance-to-tune-of-paul.html


IN 'THE WHIPPING MAN,' ALSO FREEING HURTS
BY TAMARA BECK
“THE
Whipping Man,” at Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center Stage I until 10 April, explores the relationship between a Jewish Confederate soldier returned from the war and the freed slaves of his household. In doing so, it showcases subtle truths about decency and dignity. The drama is enhanced by the graying darkness in a richly sparse set by John Lee Beatty. The designer has fashioned a twisting staircase in the gloomy house that adds a surreal quality to the darkness that is the heart of “The Whipping Man.” Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/in-whipping-man-also-freeing-hurts.html


MARTHA GRAHAM CLOSES WITH POWERFUL WEAPON
BY TAMARA BECK
THE
montage, “Dance Is a Weapon,” presented at the 85th Anniversary of the Martha Graham Dance Company as a reprise of its “Political Dance Project,” shows how artists contributed to the conversation about Marxism and Socialism, turning their art from a comment into social action. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/martha-graham-closes-with-powerful.html


85 YEARS OF MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY
BY TAMARA BECK
THE
85th anniversary of the Martha Graham Dance Company is a momentous celebratory occasion, not only because of the legacy of Martha Graham, but also because of the resiliency of the company in the face of staggering financial difficulties. The Company is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home at the Rose Theater through Sunday (20 March) with a roster of programs that honor its founder. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/85-years-of-martha-graham-dance-company.html


'SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK' SAGA CONTINUES

BY TAMARA BECK
THE
flight of “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark on Broadway has been marked by terrible mishaps that have been reported far and wide. But the speculation and bad press have helped keep the house at the Foxwoods Theatre full through a long cycle of previews. Regardless of how muddled her vision, director Julie Taymor and co-creator Glen Berger have cobbled together a genuinely brilliant story. Opening night is now scheduled for 14 June. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/spider-man-turn-off-dark-saga-continues.html


KEEPING IT RELEVANT AT PAUL TAYLOR DANCE CO.
By TAMARA BECK
PAUL
Taylor continues to add vibrant, thought-provoking and relevant dances to Paul Taylor Dance Company at the age of 82. There are some 150-plus works that are often licensed for performances by other dance troupes and taken on tour by both the larger company of 16 dancers and Taylor 2’s ensemble of six. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/keeping-it-relevant-at-paul-taylor.html


'BLACK TIE': THINGS FALL APART, WASP-STYLE
BY TAMARA BECK
WHITE
Anglo Saxon Protestants, once at the forefront of American life, have lost some of their ascendancy. In A.R. Gurney’s new comedy, “Black Tie,” the dying WASP is already dead. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/03/black-tie-things-fall-apart-wasp-style.html


3 DECADES OF 'GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES'
BY TAMARA BECK
IN Rajiv Joseph’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries,”
the hurt is perpetually horrendous and generally self-inflicted. It is an odd love story. Doug (Pablo Schreiber) cherishes Kayleen (Jennifer Carpenter) from the first moment they meet. “Ew gross,” Kayleen says to Dougie at that first meeting in the school nurse’s office as much with fascination as disgust. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/02/3-decades-of-gruesome-playground.html


IT’S ‘RAIN’ING AGAIN … ON BROADWAY
“RAIN - A Tribute to The Beatles On Broadway” closed at the Neil Simon Theatre, took a little break and then reopened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. It's on until 27 Feb. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/02/its-raining-again-on-broadway.html


ON BRINK OF WAR IN ‘OTHER DESERT CITIES’
BY TAMARA BECK
“Other Desert Cities”
is the telegenic new play by Jon Robin Baitz. It is also a road sign directing drivers beyond the Palm Springs locale. Finally, it alludes to those war zones where America has been engaged. Read more: http://www.vevlynspen.com/2011/02/on-brink-of-war-in-other-desert-cities.html


‘BLOOD FROM A STONE’ GUSHES FAMILY DYSFUNCTION
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2011/01/blood-from-stone-gushes-family.html

MYSTERY AND ESTRANGEMENT STOKE ‘A SMALL FIRE’
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2011/01/mystery-and-estrangement-stoke-small.html

DOWN MEMORY LANE w/‘MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET’
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2011/01/down-memory-lane-wmillion-dollar.html

DONNY AND MARIE BRING IT FROM VEGAS
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2011/01/donny-marie-bring-it-from-vegas.html

AROUND ‘THREE PIANOS,’ ENJOYMENT APLENTY
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2011/01/around-three-pianos-enjoyment-aplenty.html

GOING FAST: ‘IF THAT'S ALL THERE IS' & 'HAUNTED'
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/12/going-fast-if-thats-all-there-is.html

A ‘BRIEF ENCOUNTER’ THAT GOES A LONG WAY
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/12/abrief-encounter-goes-long-way.html

TWO ONES: ‘THE COLLECTION’ AND ‘A KIND OF ALASKA’
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/12/two-ones-collection-and-kind-of-alaska.html

POLITICAL MACHINATIONS AND SMALLTOWN MORES
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/12/political-machinations-and-small-town.html

‘Lombardi’: A Good Story About a Great Man
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/11/lombardi-good-story-about-great-man.html

‘A Free Man of Color,’ ‘Banished Children of Eve’
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/11/free-man-of-color-banished-children-of.html

Misunderstandings in 'The Language Archive'
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/11/misunderstandings-in-language-archive.html

Very Different Flights in 'Wings,' 'Spirit Control'
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/11/very-different-flights-in-wings-spirit.html

Surprising Results All Around ‘In the Wake’
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/11/surprising-results-in-wake.html

‘The Scottsboro Boys’ Puts on a Happy Face
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/11/scottsboro-boys-puts-on-happy-face.html

3fer: 'La Bête' 'A Life in the Theatre' 'The Sneeze
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/10/3fer-la-bete-life-in-theatre-sneeze.html

'Me, Myself and I' and Other Strange Bedfellows
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/10/me-myself-and-i-and-other-strange.html

This 'The Little Foxes' Retains Mendacity
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/10/this-little-foxes-retains-mendacity.html

Miners and Principals Impress a Cynical Soul
http://vevlynspen.blogspot.com/2010/09/miners-and-principals-impress-cynical.html
 
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