Music events in NYC today
Mosher is one of those talents you need to see to believe: warm, funny, biting, ferociously committed. In her biweekly series at the downstairs Birdland Theater, she invites a gaggle of performers from Broadway and beyond to show their talents. Guests at the May 21 edition include Adinah Alexander, Nicole Zuraitis, Jen Perry, Darien Crago and Daniel Plimpton, Lennie Watts, Grace Gramins, Bill McCarty and J. Ryan Carroll.
The captivating Johnny Jewel turns out a cohesive, singular vision throughout the many projects he leads on his Italians Do It Better imprint: smoky, cinematic ’80s-indebted synth-pop, heard on everything from the recent Twin Peaks reboot to the Nicolas Winding Refn-direct cult classic Drive. He shows up here with the two label standouts, Chromatics and Desire. After the success of his universally-lauded 2011 album with the former of the two, Kill For Love, the artist has promised (and failed to deliver) on releasing the band's followup, Dear Tommy. However, we're hoping this show indicates that this year's really the year.
Sitcom royal Mullally (Will & Grace) joins forces and blends voices with young actor-singer Hunt in the guise of a bespectacled folk duo called Nancy And Beth. Their debut Carlyle set will include selections from their self-titled debut album, which includes songs by Lou Rawls, Leiber and Stoller, Rufus Wainwright and Wynona Carr.
After leapfrogging to Broadway in Grease as the winner of a reality-TV casting series, versatile soprano Osnes has proved the snobs and cynics wrong in a succession of winsome turns in shows including including Bandstand, South Pacific and Cinderella; Broadway hoofer-actor-singer Yazbeck has brightened such revivals as Gypsy, A Chorus Line and On the Town. After teaing up for a sucessful double act last year, the two stars reunite for another evening of Great American Songbook fare.
The astonishing, totally fearless Bridget Everett has had a bona fide breakout year in film (Patti Cakes) and TV (Lady Dynamite), culminating in the pilot of an Amazon series of her very own, the endearingly raunchy Love You Too. The towering sex goddess's triumphant set at her usual stomping grounds, Joe's Pub, finds her belting and oversharing as only she can, and she never fails to shake up the room with hits like "Boob Song." Not to be missed.
Theater events in NYC today
Baba Brinkman is a white Canadian dude who raps about intellectual and social questions, and his multiple shows at SoHo Playhouse have been delightfully entertaining and informative. Now he reprises three of those shows in rep, applying his rhyme and reason to questions of evolution, consciousness and climate change.
Theater review by Helen Shaw The level of control in Bailey Williams’s exquisite I thought I would die but I didn’t isn’t apparent at first. In the play’s bizarre initial scenes, things actually seem pretty loosey-goosey. A shut-in young woman (Williams, in supersad sweatpants) lives in an existentially porous apartment, crunching on aspirin and wondering where the kitchen went. Wasn’t it there a minute ago? And what about the TV? She could swear she was just watching Law & Order. Her roommate (a superb Matthew Bovee) steps directly through the wall—a stretchy white membrane that lets whole couches slide in and out—and a freaky neighbor (Yonatan Gebeyehu) tries to get her interested in balloons. Their language is formal and stilted: “Welcome home to our shared apartment!” she cries, as a smiling Bovee pops into view. This beginning has the kind of oddness you might feel you’ve seen before; even the air of menace is familiar. A number of High Weird plays rev their engines by referring to a mysterious event in the past—something no one wants to talk about. (Hauntings are big now; ditto for weird shrieks.) But then the play smash-cuts into another style, and the stylization of Sarah Blush’s direction leans farther into the strange. Suddenly we’re in a true-crime documentary about a violent murder, rendered with the idiotic portentousness of the genre’s most lurid examples. Bovee is our host; Williams is an expert witness; Gebeyehu is all the other figures at once. Another sma
Theater review by Regina Robbins About two-thirds of the way through Christopher Chen’s extraordinary new play Passage, ensemble member Lizan Mitchell acknowledges that some in the audience may be experiencing a kind of déjà vu. Based on—but in no way bound to—E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, Chen’s text takes colonialism out of any specific racial or temporal context in order to examine power, exploitation and resistance as nakedly as possible. And yet, Mitchell admits, context is everything: Everyone in the room, onstage and off, brings their own life experiences to this moment. Still, she says, “I am trying to bring us all to the same page. Even though…that’s impossible.” She pauses. “Right?” Passage begins with Q (Andrea Abello), a citizen of Country Y, travelling to join her fiancé in Country X, where he has relocated for “opportunity.” On the way, she encounters F (Linda Powell), another Country Y-er moving to X for work, who is also in search of something deeper that she can’t find in her country of origin. After arriving, F meets B (K.K. Moggie), a Country X doctor who, despite her stellar reputation, is obliged to take orders from her Country Y superiors at the hospital where she works. The trio embark on an excursion to mysterious local caves; there, in darkness, fears and prejudices are exposed and lives are turned upside down. Stripped of names and nationalities, the characters in Passage (portrayed exclusively by actors of color) are nevertheless totally
Torben Betts's comedy peeks behind the cultivated facade of a star TV chef to uncover a mess of alcoholism, adultery and family strife. Alastair Whatley directs the U.S. premiere at 59E59's Brits Off Broadway festival.
Vince Bandille stars writer-director George Cameron Grant's solo show about love, loss, fountain drinks and the falsetto-horndog hits of 1960s pop star Lou Christie.
Kevin Hourigan directs a revival of Tennessee Williams's steamy masterwork in an immersive staging that stars genderqueer actor Russell Peck as the broken Southern belle Blanche DuBois.
Theater review by Adam Feldman After all the discussion last season about the sexual politics of My Fair Lady and Carousel, it may seem like a suboptimal time to revive, of all musicals, Kiss Me, Kate: a 1940s lark, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, in which the tempestuous leading lady is—at least in the original version—spanked onstage by her ex-husband before returning to him, in the end, to sing a paean to feminine submission. Roundabout Theatre Company’s very diverting production is nothing if not sensitive to the show’s potential dangers. In his Playbill note, artistic director Todd Haimes promises a Kiss Me, Kate that “resurrects all the magic of its 1948 premiere while rising to the responsibility of a 2019 revival.” Gone is the spanking, and changed are some of the lyrics. In the most important instance, the chastened Kate no longer laments, in verse borrowed straight from the Bard, that “women are so simple”; her reproach now applies to “people” as a whole. If only adjusting a show to fit modern sensibilities were quite so simple as that. At the center of Kiss Me, Kate is an enmeshed love-hate relationship between two headstrong actors that mirrors the plot of the version of Shrew they’re performing together. Actor-producer Fred Graham (Will Chase, in fine voice and a dashing period mustache) has pinned his tenuous financial hopes on a touring Shakespearean musical; his costar is his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi (Kelli O’Hara), who has a reputation for
Theater review by Helen Shaw In Aziza Barnes’s poetry, the crunch of tire irons and the explosions of police shootings sometimes obliterate words. Violence crashes through the texts: There are gaps in the lines, as though bullets have torn through the pages. Even in the quieter pieces, white spaces might preface the word “white.” In one poem, each exaggerated pause—sometimes a whole centimeter of empty page—is the sound of the queer black writer letting a white woman ask a stupid question and giving her silence for an answer. There’s a bit of that in Barnes’s play BLKS. But after reading the poetry, the theatrical Barnes is a surprise: less formally radical, much more interested in convention and realism. BLKS operates like a sitcom, withSex and the City–style leaps of logic, sudden romances and the requisite piles of coincidence. The action takes place in a single long day and night, running all over New York from Bushwick to the Nuyorican Poets Café, trying to keep up with three twentysomething roommates who are partying to forget their troubles. Octavia (Paige Gilbert) wants to have one last orgasm before she gets surgery on her clitoris; Imani (Alfie Fuller) plans on performing a stand-up routine, but has to contend with a crying white lady (Marié Botha) who wants to make out with her; June (Antoinette Crowe-Legacy) has found her boyfriend cheating on her, and is about to make some weird decisions about a random guy, Justin (Chris Myers), she meets at the club. As in
Theater review by Diane Snyder You expect things to fall apart at the end of a Sam Shepard play. In the Signature Theatre’s ambitious revival of Curse of the Starving Class, it happens at the very beginning. Julian Crouch’s set, the kitchen of a dilapidated farmhouse, splits open at the middle; windows and cabinets hang suspended for the rest of the performance, foreshadowing the destruction that is about to befall the Tates, a destitute rural California clan riven by ennui. Temperamental alcoholic father Weston (David Warshofsky) has broken down the front door, which sullen son Wesley (Gilles Geary) sets out to repair. Distraught wife and mother Ella (Maggie Siff) longs to sell the house and go to Europe, while exasperated daughter Emma (Lizzy DeClement) is full of wild ideas about how she’s going to break free from her family. Director Terry Kinney and his cast find memorable moments in Shepard’s darkly satirical 1977 play. Food is tossed about, and Wesley eats like an animal off the floor; characters repeatedly open and close the refrigerator, as though expecting its contents to magically change. A well-behaved lamb gets penned in the kitchen and becomes a sounding board for Weston. Some aspects of the play (the destruction of the kitchen, two male relatives swapping identities) prefigure elements that the playwright would explore more successfully in his 1980 drama True West. Time has diminished some of Curse of the Starving Class’s shock value—nudity and onstage urin
Theater review by Raven Snook Equally giggly and grisly, Erica Schmidt's unnerving adaptation of Macbeth for Red Bull Theater features seven young actresses performing Shakespeare's tragedy as uniform-clad schoolgirls in an abandoned lot. The language is mostly the Shakespeare’s, albeit pared down to one whirlwind act. The sensibility, however, is decidedly contemporary, as these hyperactive drama queens get lost in a gruesome fantasy world that casts some of them as villains and others as victims. Mac Beth alternates between heightened high jinks and chilling violence. At first, you may chuckle at these bad girls’ adolescent antics—squealing, taking selfies with pink cell phones, sucking on Ring Pops, stomping around to Beyoncé's "Bow Down"—even as Macbeth (Isabelle Fuhrman of The Hunger Games, working hard) and her wife (standout Ismenia Mendes) go on an ambition-fueled rampage of destruction. But the remaining five actors play all the other parts, sometimes confusingly; aside from the three Witches (AnnaSophia Robb, Sophie Kelly-Hedrick and Sharlene Cruz) and Macduff (a heartbreaking Lily Santiago), the characters are insufficiently delineated, and the poetry is often dulled by lack of nuance. The production works better when it veers into horror territory. (Schmidt's inspiration is the 2014 Slender Man case in Wisconsin, when two 12-year-old girls stabbed a classmate.) During a furious rainstorm, the Weird Sisters stir gnarly science-lab detritus and even used tampons
Arts events in NYC today
(SPONSOR CONTENT) Discover what’s next in architecture, art, design, information studies, and the liberal arts and sciences at this year’s Pratt Shows. With over 50 exhibitions and presentations throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan, you don’t want to miss this innovative display of the Pratt Institute’s graduating talent. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise stated.
Louis Fratino paints bright, erotic scenes of young gay men in various states of undress and arousal, often in pairs or groups and sometimes in flagrante delicto. The few images of other subjects here—a woman, a baby, a still life, even the Chrysler Building—tend to reinforce the intimacy and domesticity of the boy pictures and the impression that they share lived, personal moments. The 26-year-old artist paints with a virtuosic brio that evinces his admiration for Nicole Eisenman and Dana Schutz. But he appears to love his early Modernist forebears even more than they do. The hunk in black briefs in Getting Dressed, for instance, pulls on his shirt in front of an open window in a scene that Matisse might have limned. And any number of Fratino’s figures, particularly the twinks and otters with closely cropped hair and huge almond eyes, might have stepped out of a Picasso, circa 1906. Notes of the fantastic punctuate the slice-of-life quality of Fratino’s work. A nude, bent-over youth writing a letter sprouts colorful angel wings; a man grasps his ankles while a smaller man emerges from his ass in what seems to be a queer metaphor for the birth of the self. Yet Fratino imbues these extreme visions with a characteristic gentle winsomeness, as if they illustrated stories for children, and the artist’s greatest achievement may be that he can make explicit gay sex look charming and wholesome.
Born in Lebanon, Raad has long explored the many manifestations of violence committed by and against both individuals and the state. The work in this show is a case in point: It revisits the Lebanese capital of Beirut, once known as the Paris of the Middle East, in the aftermath of the bloody 25-year-long civil war that leveled the city. Raad contemplates Beirut’s future through the prism of its apocalyptic past in pieces like a panoramic video projection of ruined buildings being demolished for reconstruction, in which the footage has been edited to appear like an animated Rorschach test.
Furniture, kitchen wares, electronics—even a car—make up this selection of midcentury modern objects from around the world whose appeal spoke to the democratizing potential of design. The show spans the hey-day of the aesthetic, from the 1930s to the 1950s.
This first ever museum survey of the Jamaican-born sculptor spans his 25-year career, much of which he spent mining materials from the streets of his Harlem neighborhood to use in powerful found-object installations dealing with social justice and the black experience in America. The pieces on view include the recreation of a site-specific, 1993 work originally mounted in an abandoned firehouse. Comprising 310 abandoned strollers, arranged in an oval with a central walkway made of flattened fire hoses, Amazing Grace, as it’s called, was initially created as a response to the crack and AIDS epidemics wracking communities of color at the time.
Adam McEwen signature schtick of milling replicas of everyday objects out of graphite blocks is on full display in this Lever House lobby installation of contemporary Americana, as the artist puts it. Presenting a sparse array of familiar items (the top of a Weber grill, a hubcap, an office wall clock and a packet of birth control pill) rendered in pencil-lead gray, the show aims to unpack the way ordinary things are invested with the weight of memory and history. The chilly allure of the work is turned down several degrees further by a floor covered in white polystyrene sheets that make the space look like an ice rink.
Last year’s hoopla over the Obamas’ official portraits proved that painted likenesses of prominent folks (or the rest of us) remain fascinating, even though many of their conventions date back to the Renaissance. This low-key show assembles portraits by Giovanni Battista Moroni (1520/24–1579/80), who worked in the middle of the 16th century and won acclaim for the lifelike appearance of his sitters. He’s not so well known today, in part because he never strayed far from home, the region around the small northern Italian city of Bergamo. The Frick pairs Moroni’s paintings of Bergamese nobility and notables with some of the luxurious objects seen in the pictures. Thus, a weird and fabulous gem-studded head of a marten, with an actual animal’s pelt attached, glitters near the regal, full-length, seated Isotta Brembati (circa 1555–56), who wears a nearly identical critter draped around her shoulders. Moroni made the bulk of his backgrounds so minimal and generic that they predict the products of a Sears portrait studio, all the better to highlight his subjects’ lavish clothing, jewels, and accessories, as well as their presence. Presenting his contemporaries so convincingly that they seem living and breathing individuals endures as his most lasting achievement. Unsmiling, they look directly at us from the past, although their turned heads result in most of them giving us the side-eye. An unintended but quietly glorious effect of this exhibition is that it often feels like we sta
Not quite architecture and not quite sculpture, the work of Iranian-American artist Siah Armajani has taken a conceptual approach to dealing with the themes of loss, exile and the ever-present impact of history on human affairs. For Armajani’s first major museum retrospective, the Met Breuer looks back at his 60-year career with a roundup that includes never-before-seen pieces from the 1960s and ’70s.
During the 1960s and ’70s, L.A. artist De Wain Valentine was part of a SoCal milieu of artists whose works were grouped under the interchangeable labels of California Light and Space art and Finish Fetish. They shared a Sunshine State spin on Minimalism inspired not only by West Coast light but also by the bright, high-gloss paint jobs favored by Los Angeles’s hot rod scene, as well by the plastics manufacturers serving the aerospace industry. The latter was key for Valentine, whose sculptures were cast from resins of varying tints, transparencies and translucencies into wedges, cut gemstones and lozenges resembling pills. This show offers a selection of classic pieces that are as seductive as they are sublime.
Two great artists who go great together shine in this roundup of 16 works on paper by Sigmar Polke and Bruce Nauman that were collected by Josef and Anna Froehlich for their museum in Stuttgart Germany. Together, the drawings reveal the central role the medium plays for both artists.
Free things to do in NYC today
Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) directs an African-American cast in Shakespeare in the Park's first 2019 offering: a modern-dress account of the Bard's tart-tongued rom-com about two too-witty longtime enemies whose friends plot to get them together. Grantham Coleman and Danielle Brooks portray the squabbling main couple; Chuck Cooper is the elder statesman, Hubert Point-Du Jour is the villain and Lateefah Holder is the hopelessly moronic constable. See our complete guide to Shakespeare in the Park tickets for details.
New York’s coveted (and free-of-charge) outdoor theater returns for the warm-weather season. This year, Tony Award winner Kenny Leon directs a modernized version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, a comedic tale about romantic retribution and miscommunication (y’know, themes not unfamiliar to our dating-app culture). Tickets are distributed each performance day at noon at the Delacorte Theater, but the line for tickets is always bananas. Our advice? Get there by no later than 10am. RECOMMENDED: How to get free Shakespeare in the Park tickets