News & Reviews from New York

August 29th, 2003

For me, the Mamas and Papas Musical DREAM A LITTLE DREAM is a flash to my past. I performed in the coffee houses and nite clubs of Greenwich Village and, after 1965, in Los Angeles, and knew the people the
Denny Doherty character (played in the performance I saw by the very engaging Eric Michael Gillett) talks about on the stage of the old Village Gate, now called the Village Theatre, on Bleeker Street. So for me the
show may have more resonance than for other, younger, people. But from the audience response, people of all ages in the smiling, foot-tapping crowded theatre loved the story of the formation of the hit singing
group, their individual and group stories, love lives, drug lives, music lives. Written b Doherty and Paul Ledoux, and fashioned into a full musical show by the master of such, Randal Myler, DREAM A LITTLE DREAM is as much a picture of America in a special breakfree time as it is of the singing quartet. The cast is an exciting group of first rate singers and musicians,
and the set by Walt Spangler, projections by Jan Hartley, costumes by David C. Woolard, all enhance this very moving historical musical drama. The show, which closes August 31st, deserves to have a longer life somewhere. It's a wonderful nostalgic excursion (and the songs are still great).

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


August 27th, 2003

The Broadway lark AVENUE Q is an adult kids' show-- a charming Sesame Street/Muppets singing, dancing delight. It's a clever concept performed with great charm by an outstanding cast of singing puppet characters mixed with non-puppet actors. The skill and range of Stephanie D'Abruzzo, John Tartaglia and Rick Lyon is amazing, and every cast member is Broadway level. Songs by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty give us a contemporary neighborhood saga full of great wit, romance and feeling, and the working class street set by Anna Louizos is just right. All the grownup kids in the audience had a great time with the spicy ideas,
language and the political insights like "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" stirred in with familiar puppetry. This show is a great idea, by Lopez and Marx, taken to artistic and entertainment heights.

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


August 25th, 2003

Marc Kudisch is one of the most exciting figures on the New York musical stage. In THE THING ABOUT MEN, now at The Promenade, he gives a powerful charismatic performance in this contemporary musical about
infidelity and Art versus Commerce that will knock your socks off. With bright clever lyrics by Joe DiPietro, lively tunes by Jimmy Roberts, and a fine
imaginative set by Richard Hoover that uses windows and projections to set the many scenes, Mark Clements has directed the cast, all top level Broadway singers and skillful actors who can do character with depth
(Leah Hocking and Ron Bohmer) and caricature (Daniel Reichard and Jennifer Simard, both from "Forbidden Broadway") believably and entertainingly. The show explores many elements of friendship as well as those of marriage, and protagonist Kudisch, whose acting performance has subtlety, depth, text, subtext and humor, united with his strength, fills the theatre with his rich powerful voice.

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


August 20th, 2003

In her very clever, delightful clown/Performance Art piece A LIFE IN HER DAY, Hilary Chaplain's personal charisma shines thru all her inventive tricks and imaginative use of props as she wakes, lives her life in a day, including courtship and marriage, pregnancy, birth and mayhem. Her props, paper towels, costumes, dolls from a Snoopy to a full-size man, and the funniest use of marshmallows I've ever seen, and her sounds, all enhance this charming, creative, show. Directed by Patricia Buckley, it is fun from start to
finish, and can be enjoyed by any age, any culture, any nationality. Hilary Chaplain will enchant you.

Richmond Shepard-- Performing Arts INSIDER, and


August 18th, 2003

The musical CAFÉ AU GO GO, which takes us to a working class London nightclub in the 60's, is a fun take on the "Grease" generation: teenage romance with verve, spirit, life, youthful enthusiasm and vigor. Written
and directed by The Heather Brothers, the songs are bouncy and clever and the action is more contemporary than "Grease," and reached levels of comedy more entertaining for today. The performers in the first class cast all can really sing, and outstanding are cute young Zack Gillman, who has real singing and comedic potential, Wade Fisher, a consummate lecherous
lout, Jessica Cannon, a perfect ingenue, and Stehanie St. Hilaire, whose vivid presence in Brian Giacchetto's sexy costume fills the theatre with
libidinous energy as she dances with energetic abandon. They dance, they sing their hearts out; you'll dance in the aisle. 221 W. 46th St.,

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


August 16th, 2003

There is a large audience hungry for good political satire, and CAPITOL STEPS, playing again at the John Houseman Theatre on West 42nd St., give us the best in town, this time titled "Between Iraq and a Hard Place." As I said in my 2002 review of them, this is a troupe of grownups whose insights and satires show mature writing with depth and intelligence as well as humor, and they are all Broadway-level singers. As they skewer Bush, Clinton, Arafat, Sharon, Martha Stewart, Schwarzenegger, France, and everything else in sight, the audience, many of whom have obviously
seen them before, laughs, applauds, calls out, delighted to be present. The Republicans sitting next to me laughed as much as the predominantly Democratic audience. The show is professionally produced with marvelous props and costumes by Linda Rose Payne, and is a delight for anyone with a mind that appreciates genuine wit.

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

Regie Cabico is known as a poet-he's appeared on Def Jam on HBO-- but he is also a wonderfully funny comedian, and his show STRAIGHT OUT, about a Pilipino boy from Maryland and his struggles in the world is most entertaining when he tells the stories and plays the characters he has encountered in his life. He moves, dances, takes us on trips. The show is
directed with lucid timing by reg e gaines, with super lighting and projections by James Mojica. Although comedy is his stronger suit, he has some very moving moments in the recitation of his poetry, and you walk out with an appreciation of his talent, and a warm feeling for Regie himself. Thru August 17th at Chashama, 135 W.42nd St.


July 13th, 2003

There is a big splashy production of the musical CATS now running near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany. The singer-dancers are all Broadweay level fantastic performers, the leads are outstanding, and the whole show is fresh, alive, and as entertaining as ever. It was fun to hear the familiar songs translated into German, but, of course, it's the same show, and as easy to understand as if it were in English. A great time was had by all. My date, a German dancer, was knocked out by the level of the dancers in the show.

Richmond Shepard--

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