Saturday, March 23, 2013

New York Off-Broadway Buzz: Not-To-Be-Missed Shows, March 2013

Tina Benko, JACKIE
(photo: Carol Rosegg)

By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
These days, some of the best theatrical work in New York is happening off not on Broadway. But, Off-Broadway shows have limited runs, so head straight to the box office (or online equivalent). 

City Center Stage II
 (131 West 55th St.) Limited run: until March 31, 2013
Written by Elfriede Jelinek; Directed by Tea Alagic; Starring: Tina Benko
A star is born: actress Tina Benko delivers a stellar, one-woman performance in this theater piece about Jackie Kennedy Onassis, without a hint of cliché. Director Tea Alagic does a masterful job of creating a work of subtle forcefulness, taking this ballet of words and turning it into something mesmerizing. Presented by The Women’s Project Theater, the play has a non-linear narrative that might not appeal to all theatergoers but the acting is exquisite.

SAGA (photo: John Stenersen)
Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Ave.) Limited run: until April 14, 2013
Written & Directed and Puppets & Masks by Kirjan Waage & Gwendolyn Warnock
(Adult Puppetry: for ages 16+)
Puppetry is the suspension-of-disbelief squared. When done well, it can transport you to another place faster and better than any hallucinatory drug. This incredible show, presented by OBIE-award-winning and Drama Desk- nominated Wakka Wakka Productions, is both entertaining and political. There is such artistry in the puppets and puppeteering that you will be sucked right into this family drama that unfolds during the Icelandic economic collapse, similar to the subprime meltdown experienced in the U.S. That may not sound like a fun evening at the theater, but the SAGA puppets and scenery are so visually stunning that you will be enchanted like a night at the opera. The talented puppeteers are an international group from Iceland, Norway, Ireland, and the U.S.


John Duddy & Laoisa Sexton, FOR LOVE (photo: Trevor Murphy)
The Irish Repertory Theatre (132 West 22nd St.) Limited run: until April 5, 2013
Written by Laoisa Sexton; Directed by Tim Ruddy; Starring: John Duddy, Jo Kinsella, Georgina McKevitt & Laoisa Sexton.
Irish theater in Dublin is world-renowned. But New York also has a terrific venue: The Irish Rep, which produces work by well-known and emerging Irish and Irish-American playwrights. You don’t have to be a lover of all-things-Irish to enjoy the first-class productions here. FOR LOVE is the sad and funny tale of the romantic life of three women in modern-day Dublin. The acting is just wonderful by Jo Kinsella, Georgina McKevitt, and Laoisa Sexton, who is also the playwright. These lovely actresses are joined by John Duddy, a retired professional boxer turned actor. (You will be so glad he didn’t get his face smashed in during his first career.)

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