Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: 4000 Miles

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 10:13 AM


The term “generation gap” was coined in the 1960s to describe the chasm separating baby boomers from their parents with regard to values, attitudes, lifestyle and speech. In 4000 Miles, when Leo (James Bartelle) bikes across the country to visit his 91-year-old grandmother Vera (Carol Sutton) in Greenwich Village, there is plenty of miscommunication, but also a great deal of compassionate understanding.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Southern Rep extends Airline Highway run to Nov. 3-6

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 5:27 PM


Southern Rep and UNO opened the regional premiere of local playwright Lisa D'Amour's Airline Highway at UNO's Nims Theatre. The company is extending its run with shows Thursday Nov. 3 through Sun. Nov. 6.

Set in a run-down, cheap hotel on the edge of New Orleans, Airline Highway captures a day in the lives of people who live or hang out at the hotel, including an aging prostitute, a French Quarter bar's karaoke host, a handyman who scrapes together a living by fixing odds and ends and a former burlesque dancer who's decided to throw herself a wake so she won't miss the party when she's gone. Airline Highway is reviewed here.

D'Amour's work premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre, which commissioned it and ran on Broadway in 2015.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: The Toxic Avenger — The Musical

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 11:51 AM


Christopher Bentivegna’s See ’Em On Stage production company has produced comedy musicals based on zombie and slasher movies, and now he’s added a lovable nerd thrown into an oil drum full of radioactive waste who becomes an unsightly freak. It may be difficult to imagine, but The Toxic Avenger — The Musical is not just crazy funny, but also heartwarming. If the hunchback in Phantom of the Opera can fall hopelessly in love, why not a disfigured environmentalist?

The show, which won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, spoofs a cult classic 1984 science fiction film produced by Lloyd Kaufman. Though the music, directed by Ronald Joseph, is not Tony Award-caliber, the songs are catchy, clever and well delivered. Especially noteworthy are “Hot Toxic Love” and “Evil Is Hot,” a tango.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Airline Highway

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 3:34 PM


WWOZ 90.7 FM blares in the background and clothes are hung over the railing to dry at a pink motel on Airline Highway. Francis (Thomas Francis Murphy), an unshaven and disheveled man wearing a Defend New Orleans T-shirt and feathered crash helmet, bicycles onstage, carrying a basket full of Mardi Gras beads. Hummingbird Motel residents sit on plastic chairs in the parking lot where they are planning a “living funeral” for Miss Ruby (Janet Shea), a beloved neighbor who owned a strip club in her younger days. In other cities, these goings-on might seem exotic, but in New Orleans, it’s just another day.

Airline Highway, written by Lisa D’Amour and directed by Southern Rep’s Aimee Hayes, could be described by the cliche, “truth is stranger than fiction.” First produced at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago and also on Broadway last year, Airline Highway is populated with colorful New Orleans types, living on the edge and in the moment, who form a supportive community at a seedy motel. The show is full of humor, which is well delivered, but its originality is undercut by the fact we can see similar scenes every day.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Southern Rep enters two-year residency at Loyola University

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 4:12 PM


Southern Rep opens its production of Lisa D'Amour's Airline Highway at the University of New Orleans' Robert E. Nims Theatre Wednesday. But the theater company has already moved into its temporary home at Loyola University. Through the end of summer 2018, Southern Rep will present shows at Loyola's Lower Depths Theatre and Marquette Theatre.

The inaugural production at Loyola will be Grounded, a play about an Air Force pilot whose career is ended by an unplanned pregnancy, which runs Nov. 2-20 at the Lower Depths Theatre. Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth will be staged at the Marquette Theatre May 31-June 18, 2017.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: West Side Story

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 2:54 PM


Some consider 1957’s West Side Story the best musical of all time, and a defining work of the brilliant composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. In his score, Bernstein interspersed “cool” 1950s jazz with classical, popular and Latin music, while drawing inspiration from opera to complement a modern version of Shakespeare’s tragic love story Romeo and Juliet.

Beginning with a solitary whistle echoing against New York City’s concrete walls and a bongo beat, the show’s tumultuous, symphonic score alternates between complex, discordant jazz and stirring love ballads.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Pippin

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 11:44 AM


Pippin, the Tony Award-winning musical, written by Roger O. Hirson with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, dazzled Broadway audiences in the ’70s and a talented cast is delighting audiences with a season opening production at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. Schwartz’s timeless and captivating score provides ample opportunities for stellar vocals and jazzy, Bob Fosse-style dance moves, giving the show magical flair.

Originally conceived as a student musical, Pippin essentially is a coming-of-age story. Bored with formal education and the royal court, Charlemagne’s first-born son yearns for an “extraordinary” life, seeking excitement and, above all, meaning. It is a classic tale of a young man traveling the world only to find true happiness back home.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: Alleged Lesbian Activities

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 9:52 AM

Alleged Lesbian Activities revisits New Orleans' lesbian bar scene. - MELISA CARDONA
  • Alleged Lesbian Activities revisits New Orleans' lesbian bar scene.

The title Alleged Lesbian Activities might suggest a flamboyant show, but that is only partly right. Based on oral histories about coming out in the 1960s and 1970s, its tone is bittersweet. The nostalgic play, focusing on a New Orleans “dyke” bar, reminisces about a pivotal time in New Orleans’ gay history.

With standout performances by the cabaret’s master of ceremonies (Hannah Pepper-Cunningham) and Franki’s bar owner (indee mitchell) to ’70s hits that beckon the audience to join in and dance, Alleged Lesbian Activities is a loving portrayal of an almost forgotten lesbian experience.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Esperanza Spalding opens Faux/Real festival Nov. 3

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 1:53 PM

Esperanza Spalding performs in New Orleans Nov. 3. - JOHANN SAUTY
  • Esperanza Spalding performs in New Orleans Nov. 3.

Esperanza Spalding
will perform at the Orpheum Theater Nov. 3 to open the Faux/Real Festival of Arts. Spalding is touring following the March release of Emily's D+Evolution, and in the show, the jazz bassist roves through musical genres and adds theatricality. 

Faux/Real director Ben Mintz notes that the festival is evolving. It's still focused on elements of theater and performance art, and Spalding's piece is more than a concert, he notes. The festival is condensing its schedule from three weeks to 10 days (Nov. 3-13), and there will be 30 events, including theater, magic and culinary events. The full schedule will be released this week, Mintz says.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Flood City

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 1:59 PM


Flood City is not about Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, but there are so many similarities between the devastating flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1889 and the flooding of New Orleans in 2005, it is difficult not to draw comparisons.

Written by NOLA Project member Gabrielle Reisman and directed by fellow member Mark Routhier, Flood City focuses on the collapse of the South Fork Dam, which released 20 million tons of water into the Appalachian steel town and killed more than 2,000 people.

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