Archive for the ‘ Theater ’ Category

“Sleep No More”, No CliffsNotes Required

sleep

Imagine going to a play where you felt you were only getting half of the story. Now imagine having the freedom to crawl on stage and be immersed in what you had only been watching a few minutes before, invited to even go backstage to touch and smell props, to become one with this play that has ceased to be a play and has somehow become something real. That’s the best way I can think of to describe “Sleep No More”. It’s a 4D experience. The premise is likened to live-action Shakespeare with extra bits thrown in, but it’s so much more complex than that. While the Bard’s tale of “Macbeth” is, indeed, acted out, there are also several different tales being told in the vein of “choose your own adventure”.

“Sleep No More” has had a successful presence in NYC’s Chelsea district since December 2011, though I wasn’t aware of it. In fact, I’m sure most people weren’t, which boggles the mind as every single showing sells out on a nightly basis. It’s literally one of those clichéd best kept secrets of the city, though, sadly, it isn’t permanent. My friend, Roxy, was the one who convinced me to go despite the admittedly steep price. We, along with another friend (Mary Beth), went to the 11:30pm showing on a Friday night to try and alleviate said price ($90 at that point). By the end of the evening, I heartily declared that it had been worth every penny and I’d be more than willing to do it again!

The most fascinating thing is that everyone’s experience will be different. Even your own experience will differ if you go multiple times, as Roxy was able to attest. They took an old hotel, the McKittrick, fleshed it out into the warehouses beside it, and filled it with a fantasy world of murder, mystery, seduction, dance, fear, love, and psychosis. And tantamount to being absorbed in this world are the two main rules of “Sleep No More”: 1) Never remove the Venetian theatre mask you are given at the beginning and, 2) Never speak once you enter what is essentially a 3 building, 6 floor maze.

You are suddenly given the freedom to openly stare at a marital spat as it leads to a marital bedding or chase a murderer down a stairway as they run to rinse the blood of their sin away; the mask protects you from feeling responsible, and accountable, and self-conscious. I rifled through the drawers of strangers, read letters certainly not addressed to me, played spectator in extremely intimate (read: naked) moments, lost my friends in a graveyard, and lost MYSELF in the psych ward. Continue reading

Re-Animator: The Musical

Re-Animator is a cult classic horror film about a young med student who discovers a way to bring the dead back life as murderous zombies. It’s a fun movie, based off of a story by H.P. Lovecraft, and while it may not have been groundbreaking at the time, it still has a strong fanbase. It has everything you want in a horror movie: a story about bringing the dead back to life, plenty of gore, and a decapitated zombie who uses his own severed head to go down on a young co-ed. So naturally, the original director of the movie, Stuart Gordon, took this and turned it into a musical.

The original movie never took itself completely seriously, and the musical follows this trend. While the plot of the movie is followed very closely, there are some variations to scenes (aside from the added musical numbers), mostly for comedic affect. The biggest addition to the show being performed in front of a live audience is the gore. Instead of taking the easy way out and toning it down, the original effects team from the movie–Tony Doublin, John Naulin and John Buechler, joined by Greg McDougal and Tom Devlin–create practical effects throughout the show, from dummies being used for killing, to gallons of fake blood. The first four rows of the theater are designated as the “splatter zone,” and a free poncho is given to anyone who sits there. Those ponchos get put to good to use throughout the show.

There are way too many good puns I could make here, so I’ll just move on

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Galapagos Art Space weekly smites with The Floating Kabarette

Event Date: January 29,2011
Venue: Galapagos Art Space
Performers: Jenny Rocha and Her Painted Ladies, the Red Hook Ramblers, Maine Attraction, Miss Tickle, Cole Zocca, Amazing Amy,  Bastard Keith.

While looking for wedding venues for my sister I stumbled on an NYC gem – Galapagos Art Space, a performance space housed in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Brooklyn. Although I realized that my idea of what a wedding could be didn’t really match with hers, I did decide to check out their weekly occurring Floating Kabarette. First of all, because I wanted to know if anyone would actually be nearly nude and in their 1600 square foot lake, or was it to be aerial acrobatics, again, nearly nude?

Well, turns out it’s mostly the latter, which is still totally fine by me. The indoor “lake” I was so excited about is actually more of a pond, with wooden decks covering a great portion of it and housing tables and booths for guests who were wise enough to show up early and claim the lower level of the building. Continue reading

Simon Munnery’s “Self-Employed” via the Fringe Festival

This year I chose to take a trip to Scotland over the usual booze-fueled expedition to a Metal Music Fest somewhere in Europe. I grieved for a while, but a choice had to be made and I’ve never seen Edinbourgh (pronounced Eh-din-bur-row or even Eh-dn-bra), the capital city of Scotland. By happy coincidence we arrive in the middle of the Fringe Festival, which takes place there every year during the last three weeks or so of August.

The Fringe Festival itself deserves a few words of description. It is a smorgasbord of the arts, with theater, musical performances of all sorts, street performers and comedy galore. The whole city center becomes a collection of venues, where you can walk into a store to buy some pants and a performance may be taking place in their downstairs space converted for the honor. Street performances range from mimes, to musicians congregating in large bands with huge selections of instruments, to acrobats from all over the world performing feats atop 6 meter poles. Many of the events are free, and many of these free events are absolutely excellent. Most others are anywhere from 5-20 BPS (British Pounds Sterling), which is pretty affordable when you’re used to Broadway prices. And the best part, for me anyway, was that practically everything on the festival menu has a taste of comedy to it.

It was tremendously difficult to find a recent picture of Munnery, so here is the best Internet had to offer.

My absolutely favorite performance took place at The Stand Comedy Club. It was a performance/stand-up by Simon Munnery, entitled “Self-Employment.” We squeezed ourselves into a dimly lit basement with chairs, stools and tables scattered anywhere a square foot could be had. The stage was a few inches away from the tables of those in the front and a pull-down screen on the side of the stage promised some sort of a short film. Continue reading

Get Your Sexy On: A Night at the NYBF

Warning: This is a NSFW article.

Event Date: October 3, 2009
Venue: B.B. King’s Bar and Grille
Performers Reviewed:
Angie Pontani, Indigo Blue and Co., Gravity Plays Favorites, Ms. Tickle, Melody Sweets, Hot Toddy.

Burlesque.

Bur-lesque.

The word invokes all sorts of thoughts.  Mostly, they’re thoughts of half-naked women clad in tassels, garters, and feather boas.  Not to say that these elements are no longer relevant or present in modern burlesque but, well, the “art” has grown far beyond that simple description in recent years.

Wikipedia defines burlesque as, “a humorous theatrical entertainment involving parody and sometimes grotesque exaggeration.”  But that’s still not hitting the nail on the head. While I put the word in quotation marks before, burlesque has truly become an art and nowhere was this more evident than at the Seventh Annual New York Burlesque Festival.

Anna Fur Laxis pretends to be scandalized!

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Enter the Asylum: Long-Awaited Emilie Autumn, in NYC

(Editor: I screwed up the passes so our awesome photographer, Frenchie, with her DSLR camera, couldn’t take pics. These are shots with a regular handheld courtesy of Thomas. Thanks man.)

A long line stood outside the Highline Ballroom on the night of October 13th, 2009. They weren’t waiting for a concert, however…they were waiting to enter the asylum. Emilie Autumn fell upon New York City with all of the grace and costumed pageantry that one would expect of a young woman from the Victorian Era.

The stage was adorned with everything one would need for a tea party at the asylum. Cakes, cookies, tea pots, dolls, skulls, and rats, all lit by candle light, created the perfect atmosphere for the macabre performance still to come. As the lights dimmed the enthusiastic screams of dozens of wayward girls filled the Highline. Their long wait to see Emilie Autumn on her first ever North American tour was finally was over (this after a cancellation months ago).

A spot of tea and cookies with The Bloody Crumpets

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Repo! The Genetic Opera: The Interactive Experience

Event: Midnight Surgeons Repo! Shadowcast
Venue: Multi Media Arts Center, Bloomfield, NJ
Date: March 21, 2009

taken by Frenchie

The flier with some Zydrate, (by guest photographer, Frenchie)

D42 often sends me random links to things she finds during hours of aimless internet browsing which she calls work. One of those links led me to a trailer for “Repo! The Genetic Opera”. From that first viewing, the wait began for the eventual limited release of this film (I again thanked the gods that my parents chose to immigrate to New York City some fifteen years ago.)

Yeah, I knew it was gonna be fun, I knew it was gonna be great, but I didn’t realize that it would rouse a following akin to Rocky Horror. I didn’t suspect all the fanfic it would generate, nor did I think the show would go on the road! Of course, all these things happened anyway.

One of the results of “Repo!”’s success is the Midnight Surgeon’s Repo! Shadowcast. These guys came all the way from Philadelphia to add to the film their own, often quirky, interpretation. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and if you’re a shadowcast virgin, you should know that the idea is to have the movie playing in the background, while you and a bunch of your friends dash around in costumes and act/sing along with the bits you really liked. I bet it was a lot of fun to do. It was certainly a lot of fun to watch.

You remember the girl being chased by the Repo Man at the beginning of the movie? Here she is, reimagined.

You remember the girl being chased by the Repo Man at the beginning of the movie? Here she is, reimagined.

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I never want to leave Spiegelworld… oh “Absinthe”

Have you ever been to the circus? I mean, back when you were little and could see past the dirty tired animals and the worn out grins on the clowns’ faces. I went. Many years ago. My dad bought me an enormous lollipop which I shared with my sister and which we kept going for almost a week until we woke up to find the treasure covered in ants. I loved going to the circus. I loved the feeling of awe at the heart-stopping tricks of aerial acrobats, and the courage of lion-tamers, and joy at the tricks clowns played on each other, the orderly chaos of it all.

That was when I was a little girl. Well, I finally got to experience all these feelings, and more, all over again in Spiegelworld . Absinthe, this “variety show on acid”, a burlesque and a circus, a surreal trip into a whole other dimension appealed to my adult sensibilities the way the circus charmed me when I was a child.

Beelzy and I rushed to Pier 17, arriving a few minutes before 9:30 just in time to realize the tickets we bought were actually for next week. The ticket clerk straightened everything out for us and we kept on rushing to the lights and sounds of what seemed to be a carnival with a circus tent or two in the center of it all.

Terrible shot, I know

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The Fiery Pit Called Hamlet

Crammed in plastic chairs with hundreds of people inhaling what should have been my fiery oxygen, I prepared to watch this year’s production of Shakespeare in the Park as presented by The Public Theater: Hamlet.

The morning went by more pleasantly. A few of us, hungry for culture, camped out and picnicked for a grand total of a workday, from 6am-1pm, to make sure we got tickets to that evening’s performance. This year was going to be extra exciting as both Hamlet and Hair (playing during the second half of the summer) were put on in 1967, during The Public ‘s first season.

Rivulets of sweat ran down my back into the already formidable puddle by my ass. Gnats and mosquitoes bathed in my perspiration. The air was still. This is Saturday, June 7th, and we are in the Delacorte Theater–an open-air arena–in the middle of a heat wave. Continue reading

The Fight for Farnsworth’s Invention

farnsworthinvention.jpg

The story of the invention of television is apparently a murky one, with two men fighting for the patent. It is also a story of how an industry grew around patents, of the stock market crash, and the last lone inventor. A story loosely based on true events, “Farnsworth Invention” is playwright Aaron Sorkin’s what-if version of events and is currently playing at the Music Box Theater.

Philo T. Farnsworth (played by Jimmi Simpson) was a boy genius from a potato farm in Utah. David Sarnoff (played by Hank Azaria) was a Jewish kid whose family home was burned by the Russians before he and his family immigrated to the United States. The audience watched how they grew from their humble beginnings into two men who have so influenced our lives. Farnsworth threw himself into the invention he first masterminded at the age of 15, while Sarnoff worked to increase his influence and then his capital until he became the president of Radio Corporation of America, and more. They are the two narrators who enter and leave the action of the play, and join in a mighty battle, through a hail of words, which rages in front of the audience in a quick succession of scenes. They tell the story of their lives, and of television. They tell it as they know it, or as they have convinced themselves it has happened.

But how did TV come about? Who came up with that name? How does it work, exactly? All these questions have fascinating answers, which are to be found within the play. Comedic at times, tragic at others, (but never a court room drama) the dialogue and the action never let up. Continue reading