NYMF Review Emojiland: 😎

“Emojiland,” an entry in the 2018 New York Musical Festival, is set inside a smart phone, with the resident emojis facing a “textistential” crisis —  the phone is due for a software update. That’s in the first act. In the second act, they face a virus.

A dozen talented performers, including Broadway stalwarts Lesli Margherita and Josh Lamon portray Smiley Face 😀 and Angry Face😠 and Worried Face 😟 and Weary Face 😩 and a whole raft of icons I’ve never used before, nor knew they existed — 📻🙄💂‍♂️💀ℹ🤓😎👷‍♀️🤴👸👮‍♀️🤰🏽😘, including 💩 pile of poo. The result is a hilarious entertainment, mostly — though one is greatly tempted to call it two-dimensional.

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NYMF Review If Sand Were Stone: A Musical About Alzheimer’s

Billie is a published poet and a professor, who has been married to her husband Marvin for 25 years. She can’t sleep. She has trouble finding her things, and blames Marvin for rearranging them behind her back. She thinks it’s night when it’s early in the morning. She loads and unloads the laundry, without turning on the washing machine. She looks at her face in the mirror and feels that her nose and her lips don’t belong to her.
Billie has Alzheimer’s. “If Sand Were Stone,” an entry at the 2018 New York Musical Festival, presents Billie’s deterioration over a span of two years, and its effect on her husband Marvin and daughter Margaux. Read more of this post

Shakespeare on Treason and Traitors

Son: What is a traitor?
Lady Macduff: Why, one that swears and lies.
Son: And be all traitors that do so?
Lady Macduff: Everyone that does so is a traitor, and must be hanged.
Son: Who must hang them?
Lady Macduff Why, the honest men.
Son: Then the liars and swearers are fools; for there are liars and swearers enow to beat the honest men, and hang up them.”


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Fire in Dreamland Review. Three Coney Island Disasters: Fire in 1911, Flood in 2013, and Love.

During the 1911 fire that burned Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement park to the ground, one of the animal attractions,  a black lion, with his hind quarters ablaze, scrambled up the staircase to the top of the roller coaster, which made him “a perfect flaming target against the clear night sky” for the mob shooting at him from below.

Kate (Rebecca Naomi Jones) tells us this vivid story about halfway through “Fire in Dreamland,” a three-character play by Rinne Groff that’s about three disasters in Coney Island.. The play takes place in Coney Island in 2013, the year after the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy. The third disaster is Kate’s love life.
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Gypsy No More. West Side Story Up The Wazoo. Jeremy Jordan Back on Broadway. The Week in NY Theater

Starting today, your public library card gives you free admission to some three dozen cultural institutions  through “Culture Pass.” It’s mostly museums now, but the list will grow.  Check out

In New York theater this week, below: Reviews, including the first Yiddish-language production of  Fiddler on the Roof in the United States,and the first couple of shows from the 2018 New York Musical Festival. News about West Side Story, Jeremy Jordan, innovative choreographers. Bobby Steggert on quitting acting. Theater moves by medical students and the DC City Council.  And what Actors Equity has done about the Gypsy Robe Ceremony.
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A Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish Review: As directed by Joel Grey, A shtik naches

Those who doubted that a Yiddish-language production of “A Fiddler on the Roof,” directed by Joel Grey,  would turn out to be a great joy (“a shtik naches) might see Jackie Hoffman’s performance as a revelation.

Hoffman, a resident funny lady on Broadway (Hairspray, Xanadu, The Addams Family, On The Town and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as well as TV and Twitter,  portrays Yente, the yente(gossip) and shadkhnte (matchmaker) in the fictitious shtetl (town) of Anatevke. In the opening number of the show, “Tradition,” (now “Traditsye”), she sidles up to a bearded man (Kirk Geritano)  and says in Yiddish (with surtitles in English and Russian):

Avrom, I have a golden match [ “a goldenem shidukh”] for your son, a girl, a diamond.

Who is she?

Rokhl, the shoemaker’s daughter.

Rokhl? She can barely see. She’s almost entirely blind.

The truth is, Avrom, what is there to see in your son? The way she sees, and the way he looks— it’s a match from heaven.

And right there, Jackie Hoffman reveals that Yiddish is surely the source of her comic gifts; the shrug and the whine and the wisecrack are embedded in the rhythm of the language.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged and read the caption.

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NYMF Review Interstate: Trans Man and Lesbian Asian Musical Duo in a Road Trip Musical

“Interstate,” an entry at the New York Musical Festival, is about two New Yorkers who form a band called Queer Malady and tour the country: Dash is a Chinese-born trans man and spoken word poet; Adrian is an Asian-American lesbian who is a gifted composer and guitarist. The show is written by Kit Yan, a Chinese-born trans man and spoken word poet, and Melissa Li, an Asian-American lesbian who is a composer and guitarist; the two formed a band called Good Asian Drivers and toured the country.

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Broadway Photographs from the Museum of the City of New York

The Theater Collection at the Museum of the City of New York contains over 190,000 objects that document theatrical performance in New York City from 1785 on. These include more than 30,000 photographs, documenting over 5,000 Broadway production, which are currently in the process of being put online. Below is a sample, including Sarah Bernhardt in an 1880 production of “Adrienne Lecouvreur,” and “New Faces of 1952” featuring Eartha Kitt and Paul Lynde, as well as Lunt and Fontanne, Katharine Cornell and Basil Rathbone, Fanny Brice and a Fanny Brice female impersonator, Paul Robeson, Patty Duke, Celeste Holm, Lillian Gish, Tallulah Bankhead, Glenda Jackson. Click on any picture to see it enlarged, and read the caption.

NYMF Review Pedro Pan: A Cuban Refugee Child Adjusts to NYC

The title of this musical, a selection of the 2018 New York Musical Festival, comes from Operacion Pedro Pan (Operation Peter Pan),  which between 1960 and 1962 brought more than 14,000 children from Cuba to the United States without their parents.

“Pedro Pan” is the (fictitious) story of one such Cuban kid, Pedro, and his adjustment to life in New York City, living with his aunt, who herself left Havana just two years earlier.

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The Saintliness of Margery Kempe Review: Revisiting A 15th Century Feminist Con Artist

In her actual medieval memoir, which was rediscovered in the 1930s, Margery Kempe seems almost as extreme in her devotion as her 15thcentury contemporary, Joan of Arc. The English woman tells us in her book of her weeping and shrieking for Jesus, of her spiritual visions and holy visitations, of her decision to overcome temptation and turn her marriage chaste, and of her pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Rome.

But in the current revival at the Duke on 42nd Street of John Wulp’s 1958 play “The Saintliness of Margery Kempe,” which was inspired by Kempe’s 600-year-old book, the character of Margery Kempe seems like something of a con artist. And the tone of the play, as directed by Austin Pendleton, registers somewhere between a picaresque like “Candide” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”

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