Sunday, August 28, 2016

New York Off-Broadway Buzz, Sept/Oct 2016

By Jacquelin Carnegie - (New York, NY)
A reminder that Off-Broadway shows have limited runs, so head straight to the box office or online for tickets.

Ars Nova (511 West 54th St.) Until Nov. 11, 2016
Created by Jennifer Kidwell & Scott Sheppard with Lightning Rod Special; Directed by Taibi Magar; Starring: Jennifer Kidwell & Scott Sheppard
Sheppard & Kidwell
(photo: Ben Arons)

Kudos go to Ars Nova for presenting such an innovative theater piece. While it will not appeal to all audiences, seasoned theatergoers and/or anyone interested in unique dramatic performances will want to attend. The subject of race in America is broached via a singular approach: a pedagogical lesson about slavery, the Abolitionist movement, and the US Civil War--with a budding romance in the backdrop. While the play needs more time in the oven--and often feels like a scold rather than entertainment--the performances by Scott Sheppard and especially Jennifer Kidwell are electrifying. And, the show will engender long, interesting post-performance conversations. In fact, Talk Backs after each performance would benefit the experience; I encourage you to attend the related Off Color Salon Series (10/3 & 10/10). Best of all, this is a wonderful introduction to the exciting work presented by Ars Nova; find out what else they have in store for the season!

Louis Ozawa Changchien, Caught (photo: Carol Rosegg)

La Mama (66 East 4th St.) Until Sept. 24, 2016
Written by Christopher Chen; Directed by Lee Sunday Evans;
Starring: Louis Ozawa Changchien, Jennifer Lim, Leslie Fray & Murphy Guyer

The Play Company has an incredible track record of presenting really groovy theater pieces with unique points of view and out-of-the-ordinary stagings. Besides encouraging you to go, I don't want to say much about CAUGHT because part of the thrill of this play is experiencing it unfold for yourself. What I will say is that playwright Christopher Chen explores issues confronting dissident artists in oppressive regimes, America's love affair with the truth, and the parameters of performance art. The oh-so-engaging and charismatic Louis Ozawa Changchien, as Chinese artist Lin Bo, draws you so deep into the storyline, you struggle for air. He's aided and abetted by an equally talented supporting cast: Jennifer Lim, as fellow artist Wang Min, and Leslie Fray & Murphy Guyer, as his American "handlers." It's general admission, so as you rush to grab a seat, be sure to take a look at dissident Chinese artist Lin Bo's exhibit in the entrance way and enjoy the show.
Editor's Note: Theater lovers, this is The Play Co.'s 15th season. The perfect time to check out some of their past productions and brace yourself for the future: THE GOLDEN DRAGON, WORKING ON A SPECIAL DAY, THIS IS MY OFFICE.   


New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd St) Until Oct.10, 2016; For ages 10 & up
Written by Craig Francis & Rick Miller, based on the Jules Verne sci-fi novel; Directed by Rick Miller. Starring: Rick Miller (Jules), Suzy Jane Hunt (Professor Aronnax), Marcel Jeannin (Ned Land), & Richard Clarkin (Captain Nemo).

If you're a parent with young children, you'll want a family subscription to the New Vic's amazing 21st season. Montréal-based Kidoons/WYRD Productions kicks things off with an astonishing, you-are-there version of the Jules Verne classic tale, first published in France in 1870. Through a combination of dazzling, multimedia devices--projection, puppetry, plastic figurines--and real-live actors, you'll be transported to the scary-and-fascinating Captain Nemo's famous submarine, the Nautilus, for the adventure of a lifetime. While Professor Aronnax and her trusted assistant Jules try to solve an underwater mystery, Canadian whaler/harpoonist Ned Land endeavors to find a way back home.
Editor's Note: Lots of big words, so do some vocabulary prep with your kids before coming: i.e., "Ichthyologist" (studies fish); "Maelstrom" (violent whirlpool). Before, during intermission, and after the show, go to for more in-depth information and original content. In fact, this show will definitely inspire you to read or re-read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to your kids!

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