Thursday, April 20, 2017

New York Off-Broadway Buzz, April/May 2017

Jasper Newell (photo: Julieta Cervantes)
By Jacquelin Carnegie - (New York, NY)
A friendly reminder that Off-Broadway shows have limited runs, so head straight to the box office or online for tickets.
Mezzanine Theatre, A.R.T./New York Theatres (502 West 53rd St);; Until May 7, 2017
Written by Richard Maxwell; Directed by Sarah Benson, Soho Rep's Artistic Director. Starring: Becca Blackwell, Vinie Burrows, Steve Earle, Roy Faudree, Modesto Flako Jimenez, Matthew Korahais, Paul Lazar, & Jasper Newell
       With so many bloated, over-produced Broadway shows on view, it's nice to know that pared-down, avant-garde theater survives and thrives.        
      Samara, this dystopian, Mad Max-esq tale, is brought to life by a wonderful, ensemble cast. The drama unfolds in a desolate, Western-like, frontier landscape where the characters are holding on to their meager possessions and questionable sanity by a thin thread. But, the terrific actors infuse the action with such heartfelt pathos that it keeps this bleak narrative from becoming morose. 
      Richard Maxwell, experimental theater director/playwright and denizen of downtown, Greenwich Village, off-off-off Broadway productions, has been much aided with this theater piece by Soho Rep's talented Sarah Benson doing the directing and beloved singer/songwriter Steve Earle composing the beautifully-haunting, original score. 
     Steve Earle also makes his Off-Broadway, acting debut as the show's wise, all-seeing Narrator (just don't come expecting to hear him sing; he doesn't). But, the award goes to...14-year-old actor Jasper Newell who does a star turn as the "Messenger" and makes you care if anyone gets out of Samara alive!
Editor's Note: Seating is very limited in this small theater space, so if you're interested in seeing this show, book your tickets now.

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