Posts Tagged ‘theater’

The Karpovsky Variations: A Brilliant, Engaging and Haunting Study in Family Relations

Playing through the end of the month, Adam Kraar’s is a study in family relations. The off-Broadway play makes its world premiere courtesy of Boomerang Theatre Company.

Courtesy Boomerang Theatre Company

Julia Karpovsky’s father Lawrence is brilliant and talented. Living away from his family, somewhere across the globe, with his daughter Julia and a very absent mother, he is always on a plane or smoking a pipe to seemingly hide from something, Laurence is struggling with his wife and also having difficulty establishing a relationship with Julia. His brothers, Barry and Harold, live in the US and have welcomed Julia into their complicated lives as she moves to the United States for school.

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

Growing up among her eccentric and disparate relatives, Julia navigates her way through a family with a missing piece and a father who has walked back from his musicality to a life of running from country to country as a journalist. She, herself, is trying to find herself as a musician, linking her clarinet play to elusive notes connected with Jewish melodies that she heard her father play when she was a child. We see her evolve from a child to an adolescent all in the opening scene, leading to her transformation as a “wandering Jew,” unsure of how she fits in.

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

The play runs for 120 minutes with a short 10-minute intermission and switches back and forth in time periods, not unlike many of our favorite television shows today such as This Is Us. The matriarch of the family, Great Momma Rose, appears both in real time and in after-death flashbacks as a symbol of what the Karpovsky family was and could be in different times. A fascinating glimpse into the search for connection with people and through music, the play traces the Karpovskys’ encounters at airport lounges over two decades as they improvise what it means to be a family, bringing kugel to share along with tales of disappointments and problems.

Playwright Adam Kraar creates stories about cross-cultural clashes and connections, including works about American families in Asia, the Civil Rights Movement, and quixotic rebels who challenge societal boundaries. Adam’s plays have been developed and/or produced at Primary Stages, The Public Theatre, Theater for the New City, Theatreworks U.S.A., The New Group, N.Y. Theatre Workshop, Cherry Lane, LaMama, Stella Adler Studio, Geva Theatre, and many others.

The talented ensemble includes:

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

Ezra Barnes as Lawrence Karpovsky has performed in many off-Broadway shows including Queen, Breakfast with Mugabe, Transparent Falsehood, To Kill a Mockingbird in White, America English Bride, The Miser and Richard II.

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

Like her character Julia Karpovsky, Rivka Borek is a third culture kid, growing up in Hong Kong and London before moving to America at 15. She has been seen in Off-Broadway in Love’s Labour’s Lost and in regional productions including Hamlet; Sense and Sensibility, Oh Gastronomy! , Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet.

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

Barbara Broughton, Great Momma Rose, is familiar to New York theater audiences from Sunday in The Park with George and Music Music on Broadway and off-Broadway in Grey Gardens and A Little Night Music.

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

J. Anthony Crane, Barry Karpovsky, has played in NYC on Broadway in The Country House, Sight Unseen, Butley and The Winslow Boy and is familiar from TV’s Succession.

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

Michelle Liu Coughlin, Maxine, is an actress, singer, and producer. Michelle toured with Lincoln Center’s Tony-winning revival of The King and I and has worked extensively in New York and regional theatre including City Center, Playwrights Horizons, and York Theatre.

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrica

Chris Thorn plays Harold Karpovsky and has been seen on Broadway in Bernhardt/Hamlet and Off-Broadway in Pride and Prejudice and Twelfth Night.

Tickets are available at Boomerang Theatre Company Presents: The Karpovsky Variations – Events (onthestage.tickets) with the last performance scheduled for Sunday, May 29 at The Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at A.R.T./NY , 502 West 53rd Street, New York, New York.

Celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th Birthday with a Musical Tribute Sunday Night

The Broadway community comes together, separately, to celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday as only the theater community could do.  Giving of themselves to raise money for ASTEP, a galaxy of stars will bring their talents to the musical library of Sondheim’s many songs on Sunday, May 3. The tribute will be broadcast at 8pm on www.Broadway.com or the Broadway.com YouTube channel.

The all-star special online concert, “Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration,” is a free show, hosted by Raúl Esparza, a true Sondheim fan who wowed audiences with his portrayal of Bobby in the 2006 revival of Sondheim’s Tony-award winning Company. The scheduling coincides with the date of the 50th anniversary of the opening night of Sondheim’s original production of Company on Broadway on April 26, 1970. A new production of Company with groundbreaking role reversals was set to open this spring. With the opening date of Broadway still to be determined, the updated Company remains on hold.

Courtesy of Broadway.com

The show’s stars represent some of the greatest talents of musical theater, many of whom have appeared in Sondheim musicals.

Annaleigh Ashford, Laura Benanti, Melissa Errico, Beanie Feldstein, Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Kuhn, Linda Lavin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt, Randy Rainbow, Lea Salonga, Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Christine Baranski, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Maria Friedman, Iain Armitage, Katrina Lenk, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephen Schwartz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani and Ann Harada will perform songs of inspiration from the Sondheim catalog.

There will also be special appearances by Victor Garber, Joanna GleasonNathan Lane and Steven Spielberg.

Writer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim is revered for the many musicals that he brought to Broadway. Highlights of his prolific work include Company, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Follies, A Little Night Music, Gypsy, West Side Story, Sunday in the Park with George, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion, Anyone Can Whistle and Road Show.

This special online event is a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), the organization conceived by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.

A Hot Theater Opening and Plays about to Disappear

Quick!  These are shows that you need to pay attention to:  one has just opened and is hotter than hot. Two others are closing soon or have limited runs. I can only encourage you to jump on your computer and book any or all of these as quickly as you can.

Just Opened and Hot, Hot, Hot

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the Broadway extravaganza translation of Baz Luhrmann’s enormous film hit which starred Nicole Kidman as Satine.  With a playlist of 71 songs that extend into current music phenoms like Lady Gaga, Pink, Katy Perry as well as perennial faves like Elton John and the Rolling Stones, this show will have you paying attention as you play “name that tune” throughout. The set is gorgeous with the theater transformed into the Moulin Rouge that you’ll recognize from the movie.  As Satine, Karen Oliva wows as do Danny Burstein as Harold Zidler, and Aaron Tveit as the lovestruck playwright Christian. You’ll be covered with confetti before you leave.  Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, www.moulinrougemusical.com

Limited Run

Oklahoma! is the re-imagined Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite, done up in a way that’ll make you look twice at the classics.  The band is on stage, playing a countrified version of singalongs like “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” or “Surrey with the Fringe on the Top.” The costumes are contemporary, and there’s a daring use of light and dark. Plus you’ll be treated to an intermission refreshment of vegetarian chili and cornbread. Ado Annie is played by wheelchair-bound Ali Stroker in a role that won her a Tony award for best featured actress in a musical. For a special experience, try to score a seat at one of the floor tables – you’ll be right in the center of the action. The show closes in January so you have a little time, but not that much.  Circle in the Square Theatre, 235 West 50th Street, 212-239-6200, www.OklahomaBroadway.com.

Closing Soon

The Cher Show is to Broadway what Cher’s Farewell Tour is to Las Vegas – a tribute to one of the greatest music divas of our times. Spanning Cher’s five-decade (or longer) career, The Cher Show has three Chers, each portraying a span of her life. Babe is the young Cher, discovered by Sonny Bono.  Lady is the Cher of Sonny and Cher and the solo Cher. And Star, in a tour de force Tony-winning performance by Stephanie J. Block, is the mature Cher who continues to find and re-invent herself.  Cher fans will know every song, while fashionistas will marvel at the array of Bob Mackie costumes. I wish this one were playing longer, as I’d really love to see it again, and I’ve already seen it twice.  Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd Street, 877-250-2929, www.TheCherShowBroadway.com.

It’s Broadway Week! Time for Two-for-one Broadway Tickets and Great Eats

Broadway Week, from September 3-16, lets you buy two-for-one tickets to 24 of Broadway’s hottest shows. Several of the shows are already sold out, but some of the hottest ones available include SpongeBob SquarePants (catch it before it closes this month), My Fair Lady (at Lincoln Center), The Play That Goes Wrong (hilarious British farce), Tony-award winner Once on This Island, Waitress and family-fave Wicked. https://www.nycgo.com/broadway-week

There are many places where you can dine near the theaters, but here are some of my favorites for both family and date-night dining.

Sen Sakana (28 West 44th Street, 212-221-9560)

New York City’s first modern Nikkei restaurant is set in an expansive two-level restaurant closer to the Sixth Avenue theaters. Offering a four-course prix-fixe menu from 5pm-6:30pm Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday, Sen Sakana invites you to start with either chicken or miso soup; select an appetizer from a list including house-crafted tofu, Japanese chicken curry empanadas, spicy tuna maki and Black Feather chicken wings (my personal favorite). For the main course, Chicken Nanban is a must-order as well as the sushi combination plate or ton katsu. The restaurant has an extensive craft cocktail menu including a variety of sakes and piscos, complementing the mix of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine served, along with a global list of wines. The perfect ending? Sen Sakana’s unusual ice creams.

Green Fig (570 Tenth Avenue, 646-449-7790)

A short walk from the Broadway theaters, Green Fig in the Yotel has a beautiful outdoor rooftop and indoor space for dining on Mediterranean fare. The menu features dishes such as fried cauliflower, flatbreads, kebabs and salads. The terrace also has a new grill where you can order grilled watermelon steak (it’s amazing), burgers, hot dogs and more. Refreshing cocktails like The Purple Bee, a gin, lemon juice and honey-lavender syrup potion; and the Watermelon Moonlight made with watermelon, ruby red moonshine and lemon juice are popular choices. Take a few minutes to check out the cabaret entertainment line-up at Green Room 42 on the same floor as the main dining room.

Carmine’s (200 West 44th Street, 212-221-3800)

Legendary Carmine’s Italian Restaurant is the go-to for family dining. Known for their large portions, Carmine’s serves all dishes family-style including meatballs, chicken parmigiana, and gluten-free and regular pastas, and veal dishes. Just as huge and every bit as popular is their enormous Titanic ice cream sundae for dessert. Plan to bring your appetites and enjoy! Carmine’s is close to most of the Broadway theaters as well – perfect for kids!

Virgil’s (152 West 44th Street, 212-921-9494)

Sister restaurant to Carmine’s and also set in the center of Times Square, Virgil’s specializes in real BBQ with Southern (and Midwest) flavors. All Virgil’s meats are slow cooked over indirect heat for maximum tenderness and flavor. Around-the-country favorites include Memphis-style pork spare ribs, Texas beef brisket, Carolina pulled pork and Kansas City fried chicken. For the kids, place mats for coloring and a special menu will keep them satisfied before their Broadway experience.

4 Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows to See Before They Close This Fall

Although I’m excited about the upcoming fall theater season with its variety of Broadway and Off-Broadway openings, it’s always sad to see some favorites like Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 or Bandstand close. Here are my suggestions for four shows that you absolutely don’t want to miss – check the individual websites and sites like Playbill.com; you might either have a tough time scoring tickets or be privy to a host of discounted offerings.

Closing Sunday, September 3, 2017

NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812
Featuring Denée Benton, Scott Stangland, Lucas Steele, “The Great Comet” is a loud and lively immersive musical based on “War and Peace.” The story revolves around Natasha who is visiting Moscow while her fiancé Andrey is off in the war. Her attraction to the seductive Anatole and her relationship to Pierre and the rest of the characters forms the crux of the story. Be prepared for an evening of Russian-style cabaret where you can choose to sit on-stage if you like. Imperial Theatre, http://shubert.nyc/theatres/imperial/, 249 West 45th Street, New York, NY

HAMLET
The classic Shakespearian drama about Hamlet, a Danish prince who discovers that his uncle Claudius murdered his father and took the throne, has received rave reviews at the Public. The story is one of betrayal and revenge, written as only the Bard could. The stars shine in the production, arguably the most comic version every made, with comedian (aka Luther) Keegan-Michael Kay as Horatio and Oscar Isaac as Hamlet. The Public Theater, https://www.publictheater.org/Public-Theater-Season/Hamlet/,425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY

Closing Sunday, September 17, 2017

BANDSTAND
A showpiece by Andy Blankenbuehler, choreographer of “Hamilton” and “Cats” fame, Bandstand features musical theater stars Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, and Beth Leavel. The show is set in 1945 and depicts an America filled with joy as soldiers return from the war. With no money and just his own talent to save him, Private First Class Donny Novitski puts together a group of veterans, all of whom are musicians, to enter NBC’s national musical competition. Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, 242 West 45th Street, New York, NY.


Closing Saturday, October 21, 2017

A RAISIN IN THE SUN

Produced by the Harlem Repertory Theatre, “A Raisin in the Sun” is a timely story about American-American life during the civil rights era. Walter Younger and his widowed mother, Lena, both strive to move from Chicago’s black ghetto, Lena hoping to move to a house in a white neighborhood.  Tato Laviera Theatre, http://www.harlemrepertorytheatre.com/current_season.html, 240 West 123rd Street, New York, NY

Enjoy an Outdoor Broadway Concert FREE – June 2, “Stars in the Alley”

Theater lovers, it’s time for one of my favorite Broadwa experiences , STARS IN THE ALLEY®, a showpiece of what’s currently playing on the Great White Way, held one week before the Tony Awards® for the 2016-2017 season. Scheduled on Friday, June 2, Stars in the Alley is a celebration of the current Broadway season, and you get to see a sampler of songs and performances from nearly two dozen shows, all FREE. A 12-piece live orchestra accompanies. Given the price of theater tickets, this is a show you don’t want to miss.  #StarsInTheAlley

Heather Hedley and the cast of The Color Purple at Stars in the Alley 2016. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Actor Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “30 Rock,” Guys and Dolls, The Little Mermaid and much more) is the host of this year’s outdoor concert, scheduled rain or shine on June 2, at 1 PM in Shubert Alley, between Broadway and 8th Avenue and 44th and 45th Streets. Come early for the best seats.

The show is produced by the Broadway League and sponsored by United Airlines.

Crowd at Stars in the Alley 2016 (bottom). Photos by Jeremy Daniel

How many of these shows, scheduled to appear, have you seen? Now’s your chance!

Musicals:

Aladdin

Anastasia

Bandstand

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

A Bronx Tale

Cats

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Chicago

Come From Away

Dear Evan Hansen

Groundhog Day the Musical

Kinky Boots

Miss Saigon

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan

The Phantom of the Opera

School of Rock the Musical

Sunset Boulevard

Waitress

Wicked

Plus star appearances from:

Jitney

The Little Foxes

The Play That Goes Wrong

Present Laughter

Six Degrees of Separation

Sweat

War Paint

Visit broadway.org for more information.

Hungry after the show? Stop by Juniors, right next door, for a pastrami on rye or a slice of strawberry cheesecake.

Planning a trip to NYC?