News & Reviews from New York

February 24, 2003

The award-winning Mint Theatre Company has another first class show in its theatre at 311 W. 43rd St.: FAR AND WIDE, Jonathan Bank's adaptation and direction of Arthur Schnitzler's "Das Weite Land." While the entire cast is quite good, the leads, Hans Tester and Lisa Bostnar are Broadway level performers, and the show, which is about fidelity, infidelity, and moofky-foofky among the married and unmarried eighty years ago, sparkles with energy and life during all of their encounters. Ms. Bostnar is an actress capable of leads in Ibson, Shakespeare, Miller, Williams and Albee. Her inner and outer beauty, the nuances of her performance, the subtlety and strength she gives her interpretation are no less than thrilling - she is a
rare talent who deserves to be a major star. With the strength of Tester as balance, it's a show not to be missed. 212/315-0231. It runs thru Mrch 9th, and hopefully will reopen in the spring.

**** Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


February 06, 2003

You go to a play called HANK WILLIAMS:LOST HIGHWAY for the music of the legendary singer, and your favorites are all there, played live by a dynamite Country band, in the production now at the Manhattan Ensemble
Theatre, 55 Mercer St. in SoHo, 212/925-1900. It's all framed in a bio-entertainment that is pure bio-charm. It's a good dramatic play as well about the self-destructive life of Williams, with a fine cast, all first rate musicians, led by Jason Petty as the singer/songwriter in a recreation that is almost a
reincarnation. Tertia Lynch as Audrey Williams is the prettiest, wriggliest bad singer on the stem. Director/co-writer (with Mark Harelik) Randal Myler
has fashioned a totally enjoyable evening of the best in Country.

**** Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and

DEF POETRY JAM on BROADWAY is a poetic outpouring of ethnic frustration and rage-the pain of the poor. The darker people (black, Latin, Asian, Arabic and various mixtures) and their working class neighbor express their inner turbulence and anger-- for people in high-priced Broadway seats. It's made up of very inventive poems of protest, life, love, all parallel to or tangential from the main stream, performed by their creators including a teeny Puerto Rican woman (Mayda Del Valle) who is very heavy and a big heavy guy (Poetri) who is the lightness in the show. A pretty Jamaican lesbian, Staceyann Chin, strongly throws out her POV, and the one white guy, Steve Coleman, presents a working class insight and irony.
These people are all poetry champs from different parts of the U.S., and they do indeed belong on Broadway, each in his or her own way expressing
thoughts and feelings of our times, the drama of life today, with the rhythm of the streets, the bounce of today: the hip of the hop and the hop of the hip.

***1/2 Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


January 28, 2003

Once in a very long while a reviewer makes a discovery-an unexpected theatrical joy-in writing, acting and directing-- Serendipity! I experienced
one: KIDNEY STONES, four one-act comedies written and directed by Frederick Stroppel. It's playing at the Nuyorkican Poet's Café, 236 E 3rd St. thru February 8th. 212/615-6680. Catch the performances of Kevin Kash, Cindy Keiter (who could star in a sit-com), Maria Fernanda, Brian Corrigan and Heather Male, if you can, as they explore a man with an itch, smoking,
terrorism, and organ donation-all performed with deadly accuracy in the acting by this extraordinary cast. Stroppel is smart, witty, incisive, right on,
and slightly skewed.

**** Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


January 24, 2003

Moliere's TARTUFFE, now at the American Airlines Theatre, is a great contemporary production of a 340 year old play in a marvelous rhymed translation by Richard Wilbur. It's played against a somewhat ponderous period set by John Lee Beatty, with super costumes by Jane Greenwood which amplify with wit the foibles of the characters. The first rate cast
includes Henry Goodman as the loathsome, slimy Tartuffe- Goodman gives good loath and marvelous slime- his eyes sparkle with glee in his villainy.
Brian Bedford, perfect as his gullible victim, is the epitome of self-righteous gull. J. Smith-Cameron adds sparkle and wit and Kathryn Meisle contributes beauty, strength and humor to the fine cast, directed with comic snap by Joe Dowling. This is classic comic theatre at its best.

**** Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER

Mark Nadler, now at The Firebird on West 46th St., has the fastest mouth since Danny Kaye, and the fasted fingers in town on a keyboard. In his show TCHAIKOWSKY AND OTHER RUSSIANS he takes you on a musical trip thru Russian composers, mostly using non-Russian song writers like Gershwin, Rodgers, and Cole Porter. Nadler gives us an amazing display of piano virtuosity-- you get satire and true musicianship in his show. He also does the only sitting-down soft shoe dance I've ever seen. It's a sophisticated, truly Manhattan show that appeals to the brain, the funnybone and the heart in its mixture of humor and sentiment.

**** Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER


January 15, 2003

DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES is a cheery cartoon with happy dancing and trivial songs. It's a rather entertaining harmless fairy tale, all tongue-in-cheek, with a cast of fine voices and real dancers and acrobats. It's an
unsophisticated, fun show for the whole family- sort of a humorous tale by Grimm. The music by Jim Steinman seems like lesser Lloyd Webber, with a little Gilbert and Sullivan on occasion. But when Michael Crawford opens up his pipes, there's a show. Mandy Gonzalez is beautiful in face, voice, figure and performance, and Rene Auberjonois is an engaging surprise, the whole cast is Broadway caliber, and the good-natured tone kept the audience smiling. Director John Rando does fine with what he is given, and the set by David Gallo is imaginative and appropriate, as it lighting by Ken Billington.

** 3/4 Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER

IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Nora Ephron is an odd experimental play- two famous writers, Lillian Hellman (Swoosie Kurtz)and Mary McCarthy (Cherry Jones), in a fantasy that works theatrically. The women are great foils for each other as they literarily, theatrically, jab enmity back and forth. There is great style in its inventiveness, and could use a bit more in the verbal encounters-- it's a bit over-written. Punctuated by period musical numbers by Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia and a great tap dance choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, with the versatile Harry Groener as many men, the show, as directed by Jack O'Brien is both intellectual and quite
entertaining, and to see Swoozie's little girl is a rare treat. She should get a special award.

*** 1/2 Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER

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