Saturday, July 31, 2021

Georgie D.

 Georgie D.
Chain Theatre
July 30, 2021 

Georgie D., now playing on the mainstage at Chain Theatre, is a poignant story of a brother and sister coming to terms with their relationship after the passing of their father.  Playwright Jessica Durdock Moreno has written a somber and emotionally driven story.  Director Rick Hamilton gathered a superb cast and captured the mood and rhythm of the writing.  

Photo courtesy of Chain Theatre

Thomas (played by Patrick Grizzard) rushes to the hospital to meet his sister Margaret (played by Cheryl Games) after she texts him that their father suffered a stroke and is on life support.  Their relationship is strained, not having seen one another in some time and not knowing how to handle the situation.  They stumble through small talk and a few unpleasant memories.  When Patty, an elderly neighbor (played by Constance Cooper), comes to visit their father, she calls him “Georgie D.” and shares stories of his traumatized childhood.  Not only is this nickname something they never heard before, but the unpleasant facts of their father’s upbringing are news to Thomas and Margaret.  They begin to understand why their father was cold and distant while they were growing up.  

A few months later, when Thomas and Margaret meet at a local restaurant to discuss their father’s property and remaining paperwork, the waiter, Pedro (played by David Rey), shares stories of their father’s kindness toward him and his young daughter.  Again, they hear the nickname Georgie D., as Pedro describes a side of their father that Thomas and Margaret never met.  

In the final scene, when their father’s house has been sold, Margaret and Thomas admit the truth of how much they have been there for one another in all the hard times they faced growing up.  It is clear they will be able to rely on one another with more ease and certainty in the future. 

Patrick Grizzard & Cherly Games
Photo courtesy of Chain Theatre

Cheryl Games and Patrick Grizzard are amazing together.  Their relationship is clearly established in their first moment on stage.  While the tensions between them are deeply entrenched, their bond is clear and strongly rooted.  Their demeanor softens as the needs of each of their characters emerge.  Then the walls of defense quickly rise as old wounds come to the surface.  The work these two actors put into creating this troubled brother/sister relationship is truly masterful.

Constance Copper offers well needed humor as Patty.  The humor quickly flips as her memory loss becomes evident.  David Rey delivers genuine sentimentality when his character tell the stories of Georgie D.  It is a touching and heartfelt high point.  

Georgie D. is playing at Chain Theatre, 312 W. 36th Street, through August 15.  It is a simple production with a bare stage and a strong emotional impact.  It is an amazingly directed and skillfully crafted piece of theatre.  Be prepared to show proof of vaccination status when picking up your tickets. 

Domenick Danza

Monday, July 26, 2021

Blithe Spirit at Woodstock Playhouse

 Blithe Spirit
Woodstock Playhouse
July 24, 2021 

Photo courtesy of Woodstock Playhouse

The Woodstock Playhouse is back with a full summer season!  Their production of Blithe Spirit is delightfully entertaining.  Director Randy Conti has brought together a talented cast who capture Noel Coward’s humor, creating a highly enjoyable evening of fun and surprises.

When Charles (played by Patrick Sharpe) needs to conduct research for his new novel about a psychic, he and his wife Ruth (played be Brooke Sterling) invite Madame Arcati (played by Lynda Sales) to a dinner party.  To round out the evening, they also invite two skeptical friends of theirs, Dr. and Mrs. Bradman (played by Alex Gossard and Jenna Robinson).  When Madame Arcati falls into a trance, Charles hears a familiar voice.  Since no one else hears it, they all believe Madam Arcati is a fake.  Charles has a different perspective of Madam Arcati’s powers when the ghost of his deceased first wife, Elvira (played by Gena Heylock) appears and begins to wreak havoc on his present marriage. 

Gena Heylock is enchanting as Elvira.  The chemistry between her and Patrick Sharpe is electric.  The sparks really fly when Brooke Sterling joins their scenes.  These three skilled actors make the most of Noel Coward’s rhythm and timing to the increase tension and build each scene to a dramatically funny high point. 

Photo courtesy of Woodstock Playhouse

Blithe Spirit played for only one weekend, but if you are planning a trip upstate New York this summer, be sure to include a visit to Woodstock Playhouse.  Their next show is Sweet Charity from July 30 – August 15.  Due to Covid restrictions, seating is sporadic throughout the theater, so get you tickets in advance.  

Domenick Danza

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Two Noble Kinsmen

 The Two Noble Kinsmen
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
The Drilling Company
July 16, 2021 

Photo courtesy of The Drilling Company

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is back… and better than ever!  This summer they are presenting a glorious production of William Shakespeare & John Fletcher’s TheTwo Noble Kinsmen in two locations: the parking lot at the Clemente Cultural Center (107, Suffolk St. on the Lower East Side) and in Bryant Park (6th Ave. & 42 St.).  Director Hamilton Clancy has gathered a remarkably sharp company of actors for this rarely seen Shakespeare piece.  It is not to be missed.

After Athens is victorious in war with Thebes, Duke Theseus (played by Lukas Raphael) imprisons two noble cousins, Palamon (played by Bradford Frost) and Arcite (played by John Caliendo).  From their prison window, Palamon and Arcite spot Emilia (played by Liz Livingston), who is the sister of Duke Theseus’ wife, Hippolyta (played by Kathleen Simmonds). Both men are enamored and begin arguing over the right to woo her affections.  When Arcite is released from prison and banished from Athens, he disguises himself and sneaks into court to get close to Emilia.  Meanwhile, the Jailors Daughter (played by Jane Bradley) falls madly in love with Palamon and helps him escape. 

Palamon and Arcite find each other in the woods.  Though happy to see one another, they continue to fight for the right to pursue Emilia.  When Duke Theseus discovers them fighting, they reveal their true identities and the reason for the fight.  Theseus sets a date for a duel between the two cousins.  He promises Emilia’s hand to the victor, and death to the loser.

The Jailor’s Daughter has gone mad in her unrequited love of Palamon.  Her father (played by David Marantz) consults a doctor (played by Mary Linehan) to cure her.  The Wooer of the Jailor’s Daughter (played by Remy Souchon) willingly plays his part in her cure. 

Arcite wins the duel for Emilia’s hand, then dies when falling from his horse.  Palamon gains his life and love, but loses his noble cousin and closest friend. 

Bradford Frost as Palamon & John Caliendo as Arcite
Photo courtesy of The Drilling Company

Bradford Frost and John Caliendo bring humor and honesty to the complicated relationship between Palamon and Arcite.  One minute they are inseparable cousins and the next they are fighting to the death.  They create genuine characters, earnestly motivated by love and honor.  Liz Livingston is strong and resolute as Emilia.  Even though she is unwavering in her conviction not to marry either kinsman, she takes the responsibility of the duel very seriously.  Her deliberation is portrayed with high integrity and meticulous care.

Jane Bradley as the Jailer's Daughter
Photo courtesy of The Drilling Company

Jane Bradley is mesmerizing as the Jailer’s Daughter.  The physicality of her character consumes her.  She opens her heart with unwavering trust and steadfast conviction.  The humor is brought to an even higher level in Mary Linehan’s impeccable portrayal of the Doctor, Remy Souchon’s winning portrayal of the Wooer of the Jailer’s Daughter, and David Marantz’s staunch portrayal of the Jailer.  Their characterizations are flawless and their timing is impeccable.   

Lukas Raphael is noble and proud as Theseus, and Kathleen Simmonds is regal and commanding as Hippolyta.  There are strong performances by Lizabeth Allen, Elowyn Castle, Ja’Quawn Turner, and Bob Arcaro, each creating numerous and distinct characters who engage the audience in the progress of the action. 

Director Hamilton Clancy and Assistant Director Karla Hendrick have outdone themselves with this production.  The Two Noble Kinsmen will be at Bryant Park on July 19, 20, & 21 at 7:30 PM, then back at the Clemente Cultural Center parking lot on July 28, 29, & 30 at 7:00 PM.  All performances are FREE.  No one does outdoor Shakespeare better that The Drilling Company.  Don’t miss it!  

Domenick Danza

Sunday, July 11, 2021


East Harlem Repertory Theater
The Actor’s Temple
July 10, 2021 

Photo courtesy of Mandela
Mandelawritten by Yolanda Brooks and John Ruiz Miranda, succinctly tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s fearless dedication to freeing the people of South Africa from the oppression of apartheid.  Not only does this play give the clear facts of Mandela’s life and work, but it depicts the emotional degradation the characters endured in their relentless struggle to achieve freedom.  

When peaceful demonstrations are not serving the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela (played by Robert Greene) has a meeting with his followers, Robert Mbeke (played by Thaddeus Birkett), Joseph Kwezi (played by Jimmy Garrett), Walter Sisulu (played by Lamine Thiam), and Dennis Goldberg (played by Ivan Goris) to plan their next move.  They decide a more violent approach will better serve the cause.  Winnie Mandela (played by Nadjah A.K.) addresses this decision with her husband before he leaves for a demonstration, unaware it is the last time she will hug him.  He is arrested later that night, then sentenced to a term of life in prison for conspiring to overthrow the government.  In the United States, the Black Panther Party is speaking out to help free Mandela.  Many nations of the world rally in his support.  They are finally successful.  After spending over twenty-seven years in prison, he was later elected the first black president of South Africa in 1994.  He died in 2013 at the age of 95. 

The Actor's Temple Theater
339 W. 47th St., NYC
Photo courtesy of The Actor's Temple Theater
Robert Greene has a powerful presence as Nelson Mandela.  He is solid and determined in his portrayal of this heroic figure, showing his charisma, his flaws, and his conviction.  Nadijah A.K.’s portrayal of Winnie Mandela is grounded and genuine.  She skillfully plays this character with deep insight and an expansive emotional range.  Thaddeus Birkett, Jimmy Garrett, Lamine Thiam, and Ivan Goris create distinctive characters and realistic relationships, bringing this story to life with depth and passion. 

The script it seasoned with direct address from the main characters that shine a light into their thoughts, fears, and driving principles.  These are well crafted monologues that are admirably delivered.  The set is simple and stark, yet it is the brilliant use of projections and video that keeps the action connected and the chronological facts clear.  

Mandela is playing on Saturdays and Sundays at 4:30 at The Actor’s Temple Theater, 339 W. 47th St. 

Domenick Danza

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Watering Hole

 The Watering Hole
Signature Theatre
The Pershing Square Center
July 6, 2021 

Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre

Lynn Nottage and Miranda Haymon’s The Watering Hole, now at Signature Theatre’s Pershing Square Center, is a healing experience for the soul.  It is made up of ten installations that offer participants the opportunity to take a breath, review the past fifteen months, and release.  It is a communal acknowledgement of what we’ve gone through and what we need, as individuals and communal beings, to heal and move forward.  In this respect, it is great theatre.

You travel through the spaces in small groups (4 – 8), so it is a very quiet, personal experience.  Each installation has its own purpose.  Pre-Industrial and The Multiplicity of Our Desires are informational.  This Room is a Broken Heart, The Beach Explored, Water Brings Me Back to You, and Ebb & Flow invite you to take a deep look and participate, each in a different way.  Wings & Rings, Spray Cap, Sssssshhhhhh, and Frequency are experiential.  The installations build upon one other, connecting and flowing to engage you in a unique and much needed cathartic experience.

Lynn Nottage & Miranda Haymon
Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre
To walk through and sit in empty spaces of Pershing Square Center is in itself a wondrous journey.  As you realize these spaces, once filled with creative energy and top rate professionals, have been empty for the past fifteen months, your heart sinks a little.  As each installation fills with light and sound, you, the participant, becomes a part of the space.  You, the participant, fill the space with what it has been missing, and in return, your artist soul becomes reborn.

This piece was conceived and created by Lynn Nottage and Miranda Hayman with a clear and unselfish objective.  Get a ticket and enter it with an open mind and an open heart.  Breath and enjoy it. 

Domenick Danza