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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Friday, July 15, 2016

Jefferson Performing Arts Society announces 2016-2017 season

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 5:12 PM

My Fair Lady opened Jefferson Performing Arts Society' 2015 season. - JOSHUA FREDERICK
  • My Fair Lady opened Jefferson Performing Arts Society' 2015 season.

Jefferson Performing Arts Society (JPAS) announced its 2016-2017 season for shows at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center (JPAC) and Teatro Wego in Westwego. Tickets will go on sale in mid-August. JPAS has one show left in its current season, Elf Jr., which runs July 29-31 at JPAC.

The upcoming season is as follows:

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: The High Priestess of Dark Alley

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 4:52 PM


One could imagine Janee Michelle channeled Katharine Hepburn for her depiction of the strong-minded Celeste Thibodaux in The High Priestess of Dark Alley, currently running at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. The actress’ precise enunciation, aristocratic attitude and bouffant hairstyle elicit memories of another overly protective mother from the 1960s film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which broke new ground regarding interracial marriage.

A force to be reckoned with, Celeste is trying to dissuade her light-skinned Creole daughter from becoming involved with a man who is “blacker than shoe polish.”

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Review: The Killing of a Lesbian Bookie

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 1:53 PM

  • Photo by Edward Carter Simon

The title of Jim Fitzmorris’ latest drama, The Killing of a Lesbian Bookie, is racy, but it isn’t long enough to accommodate all the crime, vice and prurience that quickly spill onstage at The Theatre at St. Claude. Burlesque star Triple Lexxxi is preparing for the opening night of her bar and club a when beer purveyor, nicknamed Irish, drops by with what turns out to be an offer that’s hard to refuse.

Lexxxi (Bunny Love) has worked long and hard to save money and build up the fame she’s leveraged to open her own club. She wants to cash in on the dues she’s paid, including trading sex for favors, and make the most of the time left in her performing career. Her lover and business partner is a bookie (Kimberly Kaye), who has complicated relationships with her clients. Irish (Justin Welborn) is interested in more than stocking the bar with craft beers, including selections from Rogue Ale, if you were looking for easy clues.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Second City Improv All-stars perform at Boomtown New Orleans

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Charles Pettitt (far right) performs with The Second City Improv All-stars. - COURTESY THE SECOND CITY
  • Charles Pettitt (far right) performs with The Second City Improv All-stars.

After graduating from high school, Shreveport native Charles Pettitt thought pursuing a degree in chemical engineering at Georgia Tech was his destiny, but he settled on a less serious track.

“I took my first improv class in 2009 in Atlanta, when I was at Georgia Institute of Technology,” Pettitt says. “I took the class at the Whole World Improv Theatre. I got bit by the improv bug and I realized when I got offered an apprentice position in that theater that this art and way of life might be something for me. I immediately searched on the internet and found Second City. I booked a one-way ticket from Atlanta and saw my first Second City show in 2011 and I was blown away. It was so different from the things I’d seen at the Groundlings in L.A. and Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York.”

Pettitt eventually joined The Second City, a mecca for sketch and improvisation comedy, which has helped develop comedic geniuses such as Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Stephen Colbert. Pettitt is part of The Second City Improv All-stars troupe, which performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Boomtown New Orleans.

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Review: The House of Bernarda Alba

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 4:34 PM

The Tigermen Den is an interesting choice of venue for staging The House of Bernarda Alba, a play written in 1936 by poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca, during the Spanish Civil War. The tiny, rustic space simulates the claustrophobic atmosphere where five unmarried sisters are sequestered by their heartless mother Bernarda (Kathleen McManus) within a tightly controlled social system.

Produced by In Good Company, a theater company with a mission to tell women’s stories, Lorca’s play continues to be relevant and could similarly depict the subjugation of women by repressive cultures across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Two Gentlemen of Verona

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 4:09 PM


Contemporary adaptations of classical plays can be perilous endeavors, suffering from stilted prose and contrived action, but The Two Gentlemen of Verona, mounted by New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, succeeds with aplomb. The sole anachronisms — not easily substituted — are amorous, handwritten letters secretly delivered back and forth. Text messages simply would not do.

This light-hearted romantic comedy, one of Shakespeare’s earliest works, probably written while the playwright was in his twenties, speaks to the inexplicable power of youthful infatuation. In this production, the actors’ smart, quick-paced repartee captivates the audience as the plot intertwines two love triangles, threatening a lifelong friendship.

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