May 23, 2008

Don’t judge a (musical’s) book by its cover

Filed under: Listings,News — offoffbway @ 4:32 pm

Here’s the progression of forming an opinion without actually seeing a show:

When you hear the title of the new musical “White Widow: a sicilian musical passion”, you might think it sounds silly. After that, you might think that poking fun at said musical may not be a great idea, since it sounds like something Christopher Moltisanti might be producing, and insulting it could lead to a date with the East River and a pair of cement galoshes. But then you look at the press release and realize that it’s based on a play called “Mafia” by Italian playwright Mario Fratti, who also adapted the book for the Broadway musical “Nine.”

Does this mean the show will be good? (more…)

May 15, 2008

Review: ME

Filed under: Reviews — offoffbway @ 2:55 pm

MeReview of Me

A play by Kirk Wood Bromley

Review by Stefan Matthew

Through May 10

Click here for tickets

I want to preface this review with a personal disclaimer—

I used to live in the backyard of a family of dolphins in Egypt and am very sensitive to the beauty of those creatures and the need for their conservation. I also really, really wanted to like this production.

If in fact as “Me 6” proclaims in Kirk Wood Bromley’s Soho Think Tank/Inverse Theater production of Me that, “…we act some more, but the more we act, the less we know what to do”, the playwright of Me might have thought to follow his 6th personae’s advice before he reinforced in both script and program notes a vapid American cold-war anti-communism. If as another persona (I counted 12 “Me’s” on stage at any given time in this ambitious but in the last instance politically frustrating piece) recounts—“Belief is the first sign of wrong”, then perhaps the playwright of Me might have found it prudent to complicate simplistic arguments indirectly positing ridiculous eco-super human historical super-powers to an already maligned (in a usually racist fashion) Chinese revolutionary leader.

The production note entitled “The Goddess of the Yangtze” asserts that the Yangtze River Dolphin (Bai Ji in Chinese, i.e. white fish) “was targeted by Mao Tse-Tung in his ‘Great Leap Forward.’” The actor playing Baiji asserted the same logic and protested against its being driven to extinction by Chinese revolutionary communist zeal.

There is a huge problem in these assertions, which was part of what spoiled my reception of this production despite its impressive qualities.

Alec Duffy’s direction, Jill Guidera’s choreography, the confident interdependent workings of the ensemble, John Gideon’s suiting score, the lighting, even the puppetry – these elements almost redeem this problem. Bromley’s piece interestingly stretches the boundary of the performative—a bunch of “Me’s” greet the audience and engage you in light conversation prior to the show. I talked to at least two very charming and attractive “Me’s” before the show. Bromley, with great thoughtfulness and care, sets up the entire art space as a “museum of the playwright” for the audience to view on the way to their seats. So why obsess over some flip references to Mao. I don’t want to argue Marxist history, Chinese history, or questions of causality as it relates to ecology; I want to make a point about theater. But in case you were curious—from Brendan O’Neill’ “China’s River of Life”:


May 14, 2008

Tony Award Noms Announced (and we don’t care)

Filed under: Awards,Broadway,News,Opinions — offoffbway @ 3:47 am

The Tony Awards nominations have been announced and we think we should be pleased. Why? A couple of “smaller” shows (read: transferred from off-Broadway and/or have no stars in them) received a lot of attention, such as “In The Heights” and “Passing Strange.” Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” – or rather, “Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein” as it is officially known – received only 3 nominations, and none in the Best Musical category.

Are you asleep yet?

In case you haven’t guessed, we sort of don’t care much about this. But why not? Small is better, small is the new big, blah blah blah. The truth is, you don’t get to Broadway without a crapload of cash behind you. It’s a little bit like being so excited about Barack Obama’s “outsider” status. Do you really believe that someone can run for President without tons of money and connections? How “outside” could he possibly be?

When “Urinetown” was nominated and won lots of awards, that was a little different. This was a couple of guys who toiled on tiny stages for years, had no intention of making a run at Broadway, and got there anyway. I’m not knocking “Passing Strange”, which has a little bit of that pedigree. “In The Heights” seems like just more of the same. Regardless, it’s all Broadway, it’s $100+ for a ticket, so screw ’em.