News & Reviews from New York

October 27th, 2003

I attended one of the most surprising, interesting and entertaining shows in town last week: THE LADY CAVALIERS, in their "Women-at-Arms Festival." This group of Stage Combat experts, under the direction of a brilliant and imaginative writer/director, Peter Hilton, performed four short pieces, each with women engaged in swordplay, martial arts, or boxing, each with good writing and acting as well. The first piece, "Mrs. Garrud's Dojo," by Hilton, about a suffragette in the early 1900's who brings her stuffy
husband to a ju-jitsu class, is funny, moving, and there are songs with a Gilbert and Sullivan flavor. The singers can really sing, and the fighter can
really jit. The second, "This Side of Paradise," by Mariana Elder, is a hilarious play in which Valley Girls break out of their total preoccupation with
makeup, hair, and dates, to box and beat the shit out of each other, before returning to the preparation for the upcoming dance. The third, "Mlle Mapin," by Ricki G. Ravitts, with French courtiers and a dueling courtesan in the 18th Century, has some wonderful swordplay and style. And the last, "A Silent Exchange," written by Hilton, about the making of a silent film in the '20's, is one of the best Mime pieces you'll find anywhere. Authentic costumes by Robin Mates, a consistently professional level of acting (and dueling), and the taste, timing and ingenuity of director Hilton, make THE LADY CAVALIERS a "Don't Miss!" theatre company.

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


October 17th, 2003

BOLD GIRLS by Rona Munro, now at the 29th St. Rep., is deceiving. Basically it is a "kitchen sink" drama set in Belfast, Ireland, in 1990 with four women whose men are either dead or in jail (we never find out what they did, but insurrection is implied). While the talk and concerns of these working class women are quite ordinary, an explosion and shots in the background give the atmosphere some tension-- "The Troubles" are rumbling nearby, and might spill onto the stage. They don't. Director Ludovica Villar-Hauser keeps as much dramatic tension going as she can in what is basically a domestic drama with family feuds, rivalries, betrayal, jealousies- even a strange, ghostly figure-- enough to fill a soap opera. The entire cast is excellent, especially Paula Ewin, the set by Mark Symcrak evokes a Clifford Odets
reminisce, and costumes by Christopher Lione and lighting by Douglas Cox are just right. While it is quite an engaging evening of theatrics, the basic
message of the play seems to be: "Men are NO DAMN GOOD!" I always knew that. But after living in Derry, Ireland, where "Bloody Sunday" took place, last summer, I wanted more of the guts, the roots of what went on there in a play about Ireland at that time.

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


October 13th, 2003

A STOOP ON ORCHARD STREET, music, lyrics and book by Jay Kholos, is well-meaning musical about immigrants on the Lower East Side a hundred years ago. The story is trite and obvious, but if you have the patience to set aside that and the community theatre level of acting, there are some sparkling musical numbers, particularly one about names and one about grandmothers that are well worth the trip. There are mostly good singing voices in the cast, and the show has a kind of sweetness in its sincerity. The choral arrangements by Tom Berger and Jeffrey Campos are
Broadway level, but director Lon Gary could use a real choreographer for some exciting musical staging. Gary's Zero Mostelish performance as the narrator is terrific. I'd like to see him as Max Bialystok in "The Producers." Kholos's strength is in his song writing-I look forward to his next musical (with a new book writer). And-they do serve good pickles at intermission.

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

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