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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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: Waterworld: The Aqua-Play

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:51 PM


While flooding and signs of global warming abound, it could be the appropriate time for levity. In an unusual reversal, Danielle Small, founder of Microwave Babies theater company, adapted a $235 million dystopian epic, Waterworld, into a low-budget musical, staging it in the cozy courtyard of Maison de Macarty Bed and Breakfast in Bywater. The absurd premise of the original film is elevated to outrageous in Waterworld: The Aqua-Play.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Culture Collision is Wednesday

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 6:05 PM

Culture Collision is at the National World War II Museum's U.S. Freedom Pavilion
  • Culture Collision is at the National World War II Museum's U.S. Freedom Pavilion

Culture Collision, a happy hour hosted by local arts and cultural organizations to share info about their programs and upcoming seasons, is 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31 at the National World War II Museum's U.S. Freedom Pavilion. There are more than 50 arts organizations, short performances by some participating groups, a cash bar, raffles and more.

Participating groups range from museums and theater companies to film groups and festivals. They include Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Shotgun Cinema, The NOLA Project, New Orleans Ballet Association, Marigny Opera House, OperaCreole, Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans Film Society, French Quarter Festivals, WWNO 89.9 and others. There's an updated list here.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Lizzie

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 2:18 PM

Idella Johnson and Leslie Claverie star in Lizzie. - GARY MICHAEL SMITH
  • Idella Johnson and Leslie Claverie star in Lizzie.
For those who revel in the sheer outrageousness of rock music, Lizzie, may be fulfilling fare, but if seeking well developed characters enacting a thrilling and horrifying story, the See ’Em On Stage production of the murderous musical falls dramatically short.

However well-intentioned, the creative choice of venue — the cavernous New Orleans Art Center — makes it almost impossible to follow the narrative. While lyrics are incidental to many rock songs, they are critical in a musical, and here the audience must strain to understand exactly what is happening. Despite the performers’ hand-held and headset microphones, the band positioned onstage is too dominant and distracts from the action. Musicians performing on the same plane as the actors is a good example of an interesting idea that undermines the purpose of the show.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Review: The Illusion

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 11:03 AM


The Albert Lupin Memorial Theatre is an ideal location for staging The Illusion, a tragicomedy written in 1994 by Tony Kushner (Angels in America), based on a 17th-century play by Pierre Corneille, the influential French dramatist. The black box theater provides the blank slate for imagining three stages of love experienced by a handsome son disowned by his nobleman father. Corneille famously wrote morality tales, and Kushner’s The Illusion packs a punch.

Currently running, and finishing the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane’s 23rd season, The Illusion is at once classical and contemporary in its depiction of the complexities of love. Its dialogue is poetic, yet modern since Kushner translated no line from the original French. Lush costuming and magical special effects infuse the production with a mystical quality.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: The Rose Tattoo

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 5:18 PM


Few roles require an actor to express the full range of human emotions, but Serafina delle Rose (Lillian J. Small), the central character of Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo, explores the entire spectrum of misery, anger, jealousy, fear, lust, madness and eventual joy. During her masterful, more-than-two-hour performance, Small never leaves the stage as her character cycles through profound stages of grief after learning her husband Rosario was killed in a traffic accident. Coincidentally, Serafina discovers he may have been unfaithful, a crushing blow that threatens her sanity. Like many Williams characters, she struggles with depression and alcohol abuse, but her evolution is uplifting.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Exterior. Pool-Night

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 10:19 AM

Alex Martinez Wallace (left) plays Shia LaBoeuf in Exterior. Pool-Night. - JEREMY BLUM
  • Alex Martinez Wallace (left) plays Shia LaBoeuf in Exterior. Pool-Night.

If you want to dip a toe into The NOLA Project’s latest immersive theater experience, be sure to wear a bathing suit, because you might get wet (swimming is welcome after the show). Exterior. Pool-Night, an original play written and directed by founding artistic director Andrew Larimer, is staged in and around the pool on the 11th floor of the Aloft New Orleans Downtown hotel, as well as in the streets of the CBD. The location looks like a movie set, and the audience is almost part of the action.

At the elevator of the Aloft, theatergoers are given headphones and tiny radios tuned into Beach Boys music, setting the timeframe. Poolside, a starlet (Audrey Wagner) treads water, sporting a vintage red and white bikini as people arrange themselves on lounge chairs or sit at the pool’s edge.

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