musical theater

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Great Comet‘s Dave Malloy On Epic Choral Songs, Hamilton, and Showing Tunes to a New Generation

(photo: Chad Batka)

Nowdays, the commercial and insular shell that is Broadway is feeling a little less untouchable. Of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is a major catalyst behind this shake-up, but the latest to breathe new life into the Great White Way has been Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, an “electro-pop opera” based on a drama-laden portion of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

The immersive show began at Ars Nova in 2012 and has gone through many iterations, including a funky stint in a pop-up tent in the Meatpacking District. Now, it’s landed at Broadway’s Imperial Theater, which has been totally restructured to accommodate the show’s 360-degree, immersive staging. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, it remains one of the most authentic transfers of a smaller, more experimental production to a Broadway stage I have observed.

I have seen every NYC production of this show now, and always maintained it was too odd and unique to ascend to the oh-so commercial realm of Broadway. Turns out I was absolutely wrong, and audiences and critics alike are gobbling it up with a voracious enthusiasm. (Singer Josh Groban is now in a starring role.) There is even fanart of the characters, so you know it’s real. The 12 Tony nominations don’t hurt, either.

Great Comet‘s original Broadway cast recording will be released tomorrow and is now available for first listen over at Vulture. We caught up with the show’s writer and composer Dave Malloy, fresh off his Broadway debut temporarily stepping back into the role of Pierre, to talk how the Broadway transfer has affected the show’s music and even got him a little closer to Bowie. Keep Reading »

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Hairy Ape in an Armory, Patriarchy Smashing, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image via Chris Tyler / Facebook)

Not Normal: Intersection, Corporate Doubleteam, and Orangutan
Wednesday, March 22 at Irondale Ensemble Project, 8 pm: FREE

As long as politics are a hellscape, there will be artists to create work about it. Tonight, Not Normal will present a three-part evening all about the utter nonsense that seems to grow greater every day. Even the word “greater” seems tarnished now and conjures images of red hats and the pallid, fleshy faces wearing them.

In any case, the evening’s programing begins with The Intersection, an “artistic conversation about identity” spearheaded by a group of creators but open to the public. It’s dubbed a discussion “jam session” of sorts. Next is Chris Tyler’s Corporate Doubleteam, a play about how the white boys will play when the Trump is away, and by “play” I mean do a circle jerk potentially involving an intern. Haven’t we all been there? Closing out the night is Orangutan, a one-woman show written by Troy Deutsch and performed by Kristina Mueller all about the curious character of Trump’s mother. If you’re feeling generous, the show will also be accepting donations for Planned Parenthood.

THURSDAY

(image via Knockdown Center / Facebook)

Incarnata Social Club
Thursday, March 23 at Knockdown Center, 8 pm: $10 suggested

The experimental art salon started in a basement by Kembra Pfahler and Orlando Estrada has moved on to bigger digs, taking up residency in the massive Knockdown Center this Thursday. A fittingly sizable lineup will be showing work, with a bill comprised of Social Club regulars and newcomers alike, including Nandi Loaf, Chris Cole, Whitney Vangrin, Cameron Cooper, Shawn Escarciga, and more. Anyone with a bigoted attitude will presumably be booted, as Estrada proclaims the show a “queer, femme, trans, POC, GNC safe space” and a “no shade zone.”

FRIDAY

(flyer via New York Neo-Futurists)

The Neo Show: Smash the Patriarchy
March 24-25 at The Kraine Theater, 10:30 pm: $20

The New York Neo-Futurists have recently rebranded their recurring show, formerly known as Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, but they’re still up to the same artistic madness. Which is to say, they’re definitely still trying to do 30 short and strange plays in 60 minutes. Or, at least “a barrage” of short plays in an evening. This weekend, in a reprisal of sorts of their popular Too Many Ladies show last year, an all-female cast of Neo will be taking over the Kraine Theater to strut their stuff and dismantle some oppressive systems in the form of many feminist short plays. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for this show to include a literal smashing of the patriarchy, as the Neo-Futurists pride themselves on their unique technique of creation in which everyone plays themselves and what they are doing in the moment is true. Aside from that, they’re up for anything.

SATURDAY

(image via Park Avenue Armory / Facebook)

The Hairy Ape
March 25-April 22 at Park Avenue Armory, various times: $30+

The glorious Park Avenue Armory will see a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s classic 1921 expressionist play The Hairy Ape, starring Tony-nominated actor Bobby Cannavale. The Armory is no stranger to elaborate theatrical productions, acting as host to such spectacles as Paul McCarthy’s grotesque and sprawling WS installation. The production, directed by Richard Jones, initially appeared at The Old Vic in London. Its subject matter is certainly relevant for American audiences, as it centers around a worker who seeks for belonging amidst a sea of the filthy rich, including those found in the money-laden areas of New York. Will capitalism ever be dismantled? Not if you spend money on this play, I guess.

SUNDAY

(flyer via In the Works / Facebook)

In the Works
Sunday, March 26 at The Duplex, 9:30 pm: $10 advance, $15 doors plus a 2-drink minimum

Spend your Sunday taking in the musical stylings of several new composers at this edition of the In the Works series, presented by Honeck-Moss Productions. The evening will showcase a handful of composers, each presenting about 15 minutes of newer material that they are working on. This time around, you’ll hear pieces from patriotic songbird Marcus Goldhaber, edgy belter and rock opera creator Terra Warman, and “piano troubadour” Peter Trevino, who has collaborated with members of Journey and The Foo Fighters.

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South By South Death is the Music-Festival Slasher Musical You Didn’t Know You Needed

(image via National Sawdust)

(image via National Sawdust)

America is replete with music festivals (especially this summer, New York). There are so many it could make your head spin, causing you to momentarily lose sanity and fall into a killing spree.

That’s not exactly what happens in Jared Saltiel and Toby Singer‘s new musical South By South Death, but it’s close—the show is about a group of friends who head south to attend the infamous “Didgeridoo Music Festival,” conveniently set on a remote island. At the festival, pop star “Ciley Myrus” is headlining, but there’s something darker afoot. Someone in a Myrus mask begins killing everyone and documenting the carnage. Through selfies, of course. As more and more people die, there’s another disaster looming, this one of the natural variety: Hurricane Beyoncé.

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Performance: A Decapitation, Circus Maximus, and Female Serial Killers

(photo: Maxine Nienow)

(photo: Maxine Nienow)

THURSDAY

Circus Revue: Love, Trust, and Partnerships
House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff Ave, Bushwick. 7pm doors, 8pm show. Also on Friday. Tickets are $15. More info here
In a special edition of House of Yes’s recurring circus revue, this show is totally devoted to the magic number two. Yes, each act in this high-flying variety show will be a partnered one, so instead of the singular dazzling aerial, burlesque, dance, and circus acts you’re used to this glitzy venue delivering, you’ll be seeing double. In the spirit of deux, this show will be going on for two nights instead of its usual one, so there’s no excuse not to check it out. Plus, there’s a free dance party afterward, where you can probably unsuccessfully attempt some of the moves you saw.

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Futurity Is A Folk-Rock-Math-Science… Musical?

Sammy Tunis, César Alvarez (photo: Julieta Cervantes)

Sammy Tunis, César Alvarez (photo: Julieta Cervantes)

When folk-rock band The Lisps, helmed by César Alvarez and Sammy Tunis, assemble in front of the big curtain atop The Connelly Theater’s stage, they look like your average band: quirkily dressed, bantering amongst themselves and strumming out jaunty and conversational indie Americana-influenced tunes.

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Theater: Futurity

Futurity_ShowPage-439x620

Two theatrical powerhouses from different worlds—composer and musician César Alvarez of The Lisps and Soho Rep’s artistic director Sarah Benson—come together for the New York premiere of this “avant-americana” musical centering around a Civil War soldier and a math genius who seek to invent an electrifying machine. Alvarez leads a diverse cast of musicians and performers who will surely bring this unique musical to life in interesting ways. Tickets are going fast and it’s just been extended, so the phrase “sold out” may be appearing in this show’s futur(ity). Might be a good idea to get those tickets now.

Futurity is written by César Alvarez with music by Alvarez and The Lisps, and directed by Sarah Benson. With choreography by David Neumann, set design by Emily Orling and Matt Saunders, percussion and contraption design by Eric Farber, lighting design by Yi Zhao, costume design by Emily Orling, sound design by Matt Tierney, props design by Noah Mease, fight choreography by J. David Brimmer, music direction by César Alvarez, and dramaturgy by Jackie Sibblies Drury. Featuring César Alvarez, Andrew R. Butler, Fred Epstein, Eric Farber, Eamon Goodman, Karen Kandel, Kristine Haruna Lee, Mia Pixley, Jessie Shelton, Kamala Sankaram, Darius Smith, Storm Thomas, and Sammy Tunis.

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Salty Brine Gives Abbey Road the Cabaret Treatment, and Pinkerton May Be Next

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Salty Brine, meet Ringo Starr.

For his new one-man show, East Village performer Salty Brine will take one of his favorite records and weave stories around the songs so the audience experiences the music in a new light. Spectacular Living Record Collection Cabaret premieres at the Red Room tonight with its first incarnation, based on the Beatles album Abbey Road.

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So, How Was Courtney Love’s Experimental Opera Debut?

Almond and Love. (Photos: Cory Weaver, Courtesy Prototype Festival)

Almond and Love. (Photos: Cory Weaver, Courtesy Prototype Festival)

I can’t say I’m as lucky as the friend who claims he was the only other person in the store when Courtney Love was shopping for lingerie at Agent Provocateur this one time – but I have seen the former Hole frontwoman in an intimate setting before. Namely, at a surprise show at Plaid in 2004, when she ended up getting arrested for heaving a microphone into the crowd.
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