The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University mounted a very entertaining production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), a romp through all of the Bard's work that distills his best-known and beloved characters, scenes and speeches into absurdly brief vignettes. The show is reviewed in Gambit here. The run has been extended through July 24. Remaining shows are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sunday, July 21. Romeo and Juliet runs through July 27.
No one picks up Cliffs Notes for the pleasure of reading, but The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), currently running at the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University, shows that encapsulation can be wildly amusing. The premise of the play is to gloss all of Shakespeare’s plays in two hours, and while it names all of them, it only dwells on plays, scenes and characters ripe for parody or a raunchy bit.
The comedy is as clever as it is bawdy, and it’s entertaining whether one appreciates all the erudite references and jokes about theatrical conventions, or whether one comes to it tabula rasa. The play was created by the Reduced Shakespeare Company and originally presented at the 1987 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It calls for the actors to bulldoze the fourth wall and talk to the audience constantly and at times enlist members to play parts. At Tulane, Andrew Vaught, Brendan Bowen and Clint Johnson give the show a fast and furious whirl.
Wayne Self’s musical Upstairs, which recently premiered locally at Cafe Istanbul, takes on the difficult task of telling stories about the 1973 fire at the Up Stairs Lounge in the French Quarter. An arson fire killed 32 people trapped at the second-floor gay bar that was destroyed in the city’s single deadliest fire. The play sticks close to the facts, but it’s a work of fiction that creates an arsonist (albeit one similar to a suspect in the case, although no one was arrested or charged with a crime). Upstairs also imagines the lives of some of the victims, whose real names are used in some cases. Telling those stories without letting the deaths of 32 people overshadow the action is not easy. Starting from before the tragedy and following a trajectory through the violence of the arson, the grief and the possiblity of redemption is a lot of ground to cover. Self is ambitious in the breadth of issues he raises. He succeeds in some places and falls short in others.
The musical has two settings: the Up Stairs Lounge in the hours before the fire, and a year after the fire in the apartment of the arsonist. Edward Cox’s set and Alison Parker and Kate Adair’s costumes convincingly evoke the time and place. The central characters are Buddy (Garrett Marshall), the bartender who saves many patrons by leading them to a back exit when the fire erupts, Agneau (Alxander Jon), who sets the fire after he is kicked out of the bar and Adam (Nicholas Losorelli), who dates Buddy and has an awkward encounter with Agneau. The Buddy and Agneau share a haunting duet before Buddy realizes Agneau set the fire.
New Orleans Pride Festival 2013 events range from fun dance parties and karaoke nights to solemn relationship blessings and memorial services. Select events are listed below, in chronological order. For even more events and full information on several of the events listed below, please check out the AmbushMag.com calendar, as AmbushMag.com has been designated the official pride guide.
• Upstairs premiere — 8 p.m., Cafe Istanbul Theatre. The dramatic musical about the fire 40 years ago at the Up Stairs Lounge makes its debut.
• All Hands on Deck open turntable night — 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., Ninth Circle and Voodoo Bar.
• Video request night — 9 p.m., Bourbon Pub & Parade.
• BINGA — 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Michael's on the Park. Princesse Stephaney hosts the event where prizes will be won and where proceeds will benefit gay Mardi Gras krewes.
• Love Free or Die screening — 6 p.m., Ashe Cultural Arts Center. The film is a documentary on the first openly gay bishop.
• “True Colors” art exhibit opening reception — 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., UNO St. Claude Gallery. The mixed media exhibit features pieces which communicate the values represented by each color in the Pride flag.
• Esoterotica's Queer Hearts Pride benefit and open-mic — 7 p.m., Allways Lounge. To participate in the open-mic session, send a Facebook message (link here will take you to the event page), email email@example.com or arrive 20 minutes early and ask for Aime' SansSavant.
• Pride kick-off party — 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Boomtown Casino. With a $20 cover, guests get $20 in casino play, food and the chance to meet the stars of Pride Fest 2013.
• Beer Bust — 7 p.m., Rawhide 2010.
• Queerlesque! Pride benefit for Women With a Vision — 9 p.m., AllWays Lounge. Tickets for the "Social Shakedown" are $10 and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Women With a Vision.
• Dance, Bitches, Dance — 7 p.m., Oz. DJs JRB and Tim Pflueger will provide the soundtrack and the Hot Men of Oz will offer the bar dancing.
• New Meat amateur dance contest — 10 p.m.. The Corner Pocket. The winner of this contest, hosted by Lisa Beaumann, will receive a $100 cash prize.
• All Hands on Deck open turntable night — 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., Ninth Circle and Voodoo Bar.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday events are below the jump.
The NOLA Project announced its 2013-1014 schedule. It includes a new work by Jim Ftizmorris, a play by company director A.J. Allegra, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and a dark comedy about children's Scientology pageant.
The schedule is as follows
Sept. 5-22 A Truckload of Ink by Jim Fitzmorris, about a newspaper caught up in the changes brought on by the Internet.
Nov. 14-24 Oregon Trail by A.J. Allegra, a show based on the computer game. Presented in the New Orleans Fringe Festival
Dec. 6-22 A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant by Kyle Jarrow, in which children portray Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and John Travolta
March 2014 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
May 2014 Alice in Wonderland, a new adaptation by Peter McElligott will be presented in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
ACE Theatrical Group announced an impressive lineup of concerts, musicals, comedians and more for the Saenger Theatre, which reopens Sept. 28 with two performances by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The official opening gala is Oct. 5 and features Kristin Chenoweth and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Other performances include A Prairie Home Companion starring Garrison Keillor, Book of Mormon, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Bill Maher, Bonnie Raitt and Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker.
The theater is nearing completion of $52 million in renovations.
Schedule of events after the jump.
Hell’s Belles, currently on the boards at the Mid-City Theatre, is an antebellum Southern Gothic tale, but you’re more likely to come across a harlot than a Scarlett at this Tara.
The French Finishing School for Little Confederate Women, where Hell’s Belles takes place, was dreamed up and populated by Running with Scissors. Maj. Ashley Wood (Jack Long), a wounded Union soldier, is discovered by one of the belles while gathering mushrooms.
The belle and Maj. Wood do some smooching, and she helps him to the finishing school, where he can be treated. Wounded or not, Maj. Wood is now the fox in the hen house. Much of the tale concerns the students’ and teachers’ attempts “to get their hands on” Maj. Wood, and that sort of double entendre accounts for much of the show’s humor.
A weekend full of exciting events starts this evening and continues through Sunday night.
Tonight there will be a birthday party for Prince and a screening of Purple Rain, a screening of Creature From the Black Lagoon in 3-D, a bounce show featuring Katey Red, Miss Tee, Rusty Culotta and DJ Rusty Lazer and the play Next to Normal.
Saturday is even more full with the Gambit Wellness Expo, Creole Tomato and Louisiana Cajun Zydeco festivals, several farmers markets and second showings of Purple Rain, Creature From the Black Lagoon and Next to Normal.
Sunday, Niki Walker Salon hosts a hair drive to benefit sick kids, the Louisiana Cajun Zydeco Festival and Next to Normal close out and Creature From the Black Lagoon continues.
More information about these events is below the jump. Contact info and more can be found by clicking the links.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park is a full-throttle drama getting a full-throttle treatment in its regional premiere at the Shadowbox Theatre. It’s about housing and racial issues, and the script is both subtle and full of surprises. Under the direction of Francesca McKenzie, a compelling cast brings the bizarre story vividly to life.
Playwright Bruce Norris picks up on the conflicts in Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 classic A Raisin in the Sun, about a black family moving to a white neighborhood in Chicago. Act 1 of Clybourne Park revisits the Rasin story from the perspectives of white residents battling over the makeup of the neighborhood.
The bigotry aimed at keeping African Americans out of the neighborhood is not overcome by liberal impulses, it’s scorched by an unrelated emotional volcano. Middle-aged, middle-class Bev and Russ are packing to move. Russ (Jackson Townsend) is acerbic; his wife Bev (Mary Pauley), a nervous wreck. We learn later that Russ has been petulant since their son Ken returned from the Korean War and hanged himself.
When they chose to parody the 1980s sitcom Designing Women, Varla Jean Merman (aka Jeffery Roberson), Ricky Graham, Brian Peterson and Jack Long knew there would be an audience for their version. During opening night at Mid-City Theatre, when Graham delivered Julia Sugarbaker’s YouTube-immortalized tirade defending her sister Suzanne’s beauty pageant achievements, most of the audience joined in — not just mouthing the words, but following the steadily rising volume and intensity to the dramatically staggered final pronouncement about “The night the lights went out in Georgia.”
Redesigning Women features three reworked and barely stitched together episodes of the sitcom. In the first, the four coworkers in an Atlanta interior design firm travel to New Orleans for a convention and each delves into their own indulgence. The segment intertwines the show’s take on women appropriating power — in running a business and addressing social issues — and local humor about clueless tourists who explore the city and plunge into hedonistic excess while far away from home. The middle segment is the beauty pageant episode, and the final third features a talent contest, in which the four performers morphed into new guises for a show-ending musical bit, which is more obviously the end than a show-stopping number.
God's speed, Rodrigue
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