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

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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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 10th Annual Jimmy Awards Winners!

Andrew Barth Feldman and Renee Rapp

Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor were presented to Reneé Rapp (Charlotte, NC) and Andrew Barth Feldman (New York, NY). See complete list of winners blow

Watch the 10th annual Jimmy Awards, in which 80 high school students from across America competed for top prize, honors and scholarships.

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12 Summer Theater Festivals in New York City 2018

Summer has begun in the city, theatrically speaking, with the first of the summer theater festivals. These festivals present  shows that are cheaper (often free), more cutting-edge and more abundant than what you can see during the regular theater season.  They also present a greater challenge in choosing which of their shows to see.

In this, the seventh year I’m offering a run-down on New York’s most reliable summer theater festivals, there are two big changes.  Lincoln Center has killed its Lincoln Center Festival, and the Fringe Festival has moved to October.

Below is a list arranged more or less chronologically by the month in which the festival begins. (Several continue through the summer.) Read more of this post

The Fire This Time Festival 2018 Review: African American Plays

Fire This Time playwrights and performers

The Fire Next Time Festival 2018 performers, playwrights, directors.

A white police officer shoots a black driver five times after pulling him over for a minor traffic violation. But things are not what they seem in “Black, White & Blue”by William Watkins, one of the six 10-minutes plays in the ninth annual Fire This Time Festival.

Watkins’ play is the most overtly political, and one of the most effective, in the evening of short plays that is the centerpiece of this year’s Fire This Time Festival, which showcases the work of early-career playwrights of African and African American descent, running through January 28, 2018.
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Pursuit of Happiness at Under the Radar: Hilarious Poke at Westerns, War Pics by Nature Theater of Oklahoma

What makes us happy? The clear if indirect answer in “Pursuit of Happiness” is a lot of laughs, since that’s what the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, a notoriously inventive downtown theater company, provides in their new theater piece. “Pursuit of Happiness” is a bizarre and hilarious hybrid of physical comedy and surreal Hollywood parody, which swings wildly from the Wild West to the Iraq War, and from wondrously slapstick to borderline offensive to surreptitiously insightful. It is running at the NYU Skirball Center only through January 14, as part of the Under the Radar Festival. Catch it if you can.

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The Hendrix Project at Under the Radar: Watching Jimi Hendrix

It’s New Year’s Eve 1969, and a dozen fans are in the balcony of the Fillmore East watching a concert by Jimi Hendrix and his electronic blues trio, Band of Gypsys, nine months before Hendrix dies. That is a summary of “The Hendrix Project,” running at BRIC through January 14, as part of the Under the Radar Festival. That is also more or less all there is to say about it. We in the audience spend an hour watching the fans in the balcony as they watch the concert.

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Acquanetta Review: 1940s Horror Film and Its Mysterious Star Turned into Opera at Prototype Festival

The Prototype Festival, which showcases what it calls contemporary opera-theater and music-theater, opened its sixth season last night with an opera called “Acquanetta,” inspired by a cult horror film of the 1940s, “Captive Wild Woman,” and by its alluring and mysterious star, who went by the stage name Acquanetta.

The most charitable thing I can say about the opera, which is running through January 14 at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, is that Mikaela Bennett’s performance as Acquanetta provided some occasional sparks, and Deborah Artman’s lyrics were at times intriguing, but  “Acquanetta” was simply not for me. The least charitable thing I can say is that “Acquanetta” managed to drain the campy fun out of a story featuring a mad scientist turning an ape into a beautiful woman, and was alienating in the exact way that both opera and the avant-garde can be at their worst — self-serious, overbearing and tedious.

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