Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Sweet Charity

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 3:27 PM

Shelbie Mac stars at Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity. - JOHN BARROIS
  • Shelbie Mac stars at Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity.

Charity Hope Valentine’s boyfriend steals her purse and pushes her into a lake as a way of breaking up with her. Unfortunately, this isn’t an unusual way for men to treat Charity, whose kindness often has been exploited. She’s unlucky in love, but she won’t give up hope in the musical Sweet Charity at Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts.

Charity (Shelbie Mac) is a hostess at the Fandango Ballroom, a seedy joint where men pay women to dance with them. Charity can’t find a good man, but she finds support from co-workers Helene (Jessica Mixon) and Nickie (Kelly Fouchi). Dressed in flirty, fringe-trimmed dresses designed by Linda Fried, the women always lend a sympathetic ear. Mixon and Fouchi both give excellent performances as feisty, world-worn workers, balancing Charity’s naivete. Fouchi is especially charismatic and brings a powerful voice to the performance. Mac gives Charity a mixture of warmth and pluckiness, and she’s a strong singer with great comedic timing.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Late, A Cowboy Song

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 3:58 PM

Philip Cramer, Sam Moltmaker and Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth star in Late, A Cowboy Song.
  • Philip Cramer, Sam Moltmaker and Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth star in Late, A Cowboy Song.

Mary has known and loved her husband Crick since they were children. Their lives fall into a familiar routine built around work, arguments and her pregnancy, but everything changes when Mary has a chance meeting with a former classmate-turned-cowgirl, Red, in Lux et Umbra’s Late, A Cowboy Song at Old Marquer Theatre.

Much of the first act shows how Mary (Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth) feels stifled by conventional domesticity. Initially unemployed, Crick (Philip Cramer) becomes irrationally angry at her for things such as being late for dinner. He bangs pots and later hopes kisses warrant forgiveness for his outbursts. Their relationship is strained by finances and Mary’s growing ennui, and she finds an outlet in a budding relationship with the reserved yet alluring Red (Sam Moltmaker), who lives outside the city and rides horses on her farm.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Old Marquer Theatre to close in February

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 5:47 PM

Terminator: The Musical recently ran at the Old Marquer Theatre during the Faux/Real festival.
  • Terminator: The Musical recently ran at the Old Marquer Theatre during the Faux/Real festival.

The Old Marquer Theatre (2400 St. Claude Ave.) will close in February. Theater director Richard Mayer confirmed the theater will close permanently. Currently scheduled productions will run in the space in January. 

The theater, which opened as the Shadowbox Theater in 2010, has been home to independent theater productions and a venue in the recent Faux/Real Festival of Arts. 

Mayer said details about the closure are forthcoming.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review: Ditzyland

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Varla Jean Merman, Sean Patterson and Ricky Graham star in Ditzyland.
  • Varla Jean Merman, Sean Patterson and Ricky Graham star in Ditzyland.

The allure of Walt Disney Pictures’ animated movies and The Mickey Mouse Club show is the notion that anyone can grow up to be special. Even a princess. But Varla Jean Merman’s pageant of Disney princesses in Ditzyland, an adult-minded homage to the Magic Kingdom, had the audience rolling in the aisles at Cafe Istanbul and likely had Walt Disney rolling in his grave.

The 90-minute musical show featured Merman at center stage in an array of bright gowns and big wigs, flanked by frequent collaborators Ricky Graham and Sean Patterson, with musical director Jefferson Turner on the piano. Merman started the evening of parody numbers as Peter Plate, whose lack of flying skills forced him to climb to the balcony, where he became stranded. Then the princess parade began and Merman appeared as a burqa-clad Jasmine from Aladdin, who engaged in a sort of striptease to fulfill the wishes of Patterson after some vigorous lamp rubbing. Varlarella endured jealous and wonderfully catty stepsisters played by Graham and Patterson before going to seduce her prince with something akin to twerking.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

"Total War Puppets" demilitarize the Mudlark Theater

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:18 PM

Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
  • Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
In the years I've been acquainted with the woman known as Nyx, she has been not only a very solid poet, artist and anarchist-feminist theorist but an outspoken and unstinting critic of what she perceives as weak or regressive creative endeavors here in New Orleans.

After a sojourn abroad, she and her new collaborator Ben Bornstein are returning to town Jan. 9, 10, 12 and 13 with their project Total War Puppets, in a production at the Mudlark Theatre titled "Fire with Fire."

I spoke to Nyx and Ben about their puppet show, its ideological underpinnings, and what Nyx finds lacking in the New Orleans DIY art scene. One of the most principled and least cowardly New Orleans artists I know is back with a vengeance, and I couldn't be happier about it.

What's the origin of "Total War Puppets?"

I left New Orleans to go to Bread & Puppet in Brattleboro, Vermont for an apprenticeship. I met Ben there and we had more political affinity than I had with most of those people. I'd had the idea for a show about militarism and its connection to my family. A few months later I was working on little scenes, and I had enough to make a show. Ben joined me and we spent a month doing nothing except building the puppet show. We both wrote different scenes and then heavily co-edited them.

BEN: The name of our troupe addresses how a militaristic culture isn't relegated to statist violence like the police. Total War is the current doctrine of war, including citizen non-combatants — Total War throws you into the context of war simply by being alive.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: John Waters: Holier and Dirtier at the Civic Theatre

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 2:25 PM

John Waters
  • John Waters

Writer/filmmaker/raconteur John Waters brought his annual Christmas standup show — this year titled Holier and Dirtier — to the Civic Theatre last night. “We are going to put the X back into Christmas,” he promised, but only part of his rapid-fire, very funny monologue was about the holidays. Waters described how some churches are attaching GPS tracking devices to the Baby Jesuses in their manger scenes to prevent theft; wished that Slipknot would issue a Christmas album; and talked about how much he hated people with food allergies at holiday meals: “Just shut the fuck up and eat it, or stay home.”

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Review: The Winter’s Tale

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 at 6:02 PM


King Leontes becomes so convinced his pregnant wife, Queen Hermione, has cheated on him that in a fit of passion and tyrannical delusion he has her arrested for treason. As she awaits trial, she goes into labor with their daughter in the ominous beginning of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, presented by The NOLA Project in the Great Hall at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

As King of Sicily, Leontes (Sean Glazebrook) wields unchecked power. He only has a “feeling” that Hermione (Kristin Witterschein) slept with the King of Bohemia, Polixenes (Graham Burk). The ordeal upsets her son Mamillius (Thomas LaGrange) so much that he dies. Paulina (Monica R. Harris) defends the queen’s honor, but it’s no use and Hermione dies during the trial.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review: The Bluest Eye

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 12:08 PM

Constance Thompson, Destani Smith, LaSharron Purvis and Lila Blake Palmer star in The Bluest Eye. - JOHN B. BARROIS
  • Constance Thompson, Destani Smith, LaSharron Purvis and Lila Blake Palmer star in The Bluest Eye.

As a young black girl in Lorraine, Ohio, in the 1940s, 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove has repeatedly been told that she and her family are ugly. Pecola plays with a white baby doll, idolizes Shirley Temple and feels invisible to her community in The Bluest Eye, currently running at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre.

Adapted from Toni Morrison’s first novel and directed by Clayton Shelvin, The Bluest Eye examines how society propagates prejudiced beauty standards. Eleven-year-old Pecola (Constance Thompson) is routinely subjected to abuse and neglect, and she prays God will change her brown eyes into blue ones so people will notice her and stop doing “ugly things” in front of her. Bill Walker’s simple and elegant set features wooden benches and beds; the backdrop has a giant eye that changes color as scenes change.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Fishers of Men

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 1:42 PM

Martin "Bats" Bradford, Oliver Thomas, Alfred Aubry and Damien Moses star in Fishers of Men. - JIM BELFON
  • Martin "Bats" Bradford, Oliver Thomas, Alfred Aubry and Damien Moses star in Fishers of Men.

On his nightly ministry on the streets of New Orleans, Deacon Job finds a drug dealer named Debarrow pointing a gun at a man. In that moment, Debarrow hears a “whisper” — maybe a sign from God — and puts down his gun. He agrees to go with Job to meet Bishop Perriloux and comes face-to-face with his murderous past in Harold Ellis Clark’s Fishers of Men, currently running at the Ashe Power House Theater.

In Fishers, former prison inmate Bishop Perriloux (Oliver Thomas) started a church because he believes men can change. Deacon Job (Alfred Aubrey) is proof of his theory; he killed two men but has thrived in the church. Job hopes the bishop can help save the notorious Debarrow (Martin “Bats” Bradford) but also has doubts because Debarrow has been responsible for 23 deaths.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Harry Potter burlesque and show reviews from Faux/Real

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 4:15 PM

Sexpelliarmus is a Harry Potter-themed burlesque show.
  • Sexpelliarmus is a Harry Potter-themed burlesque show.

The Faux / Real Festival of Arts concludes Nov. 22, and there are still new shows opening. Reviews of shows including The Eulogy, Once Upon a Dream and others after the jump.

The “nerdlesque” minifestival begins this week, and shows have been moved to Bamboula’s on Frenchmen Street. The nerdlesque minifestival is comprised mostly of local troupes, and Altlanta’s Hysteria Machines visits New Orleans for the first time to perform Sexpelliarmus, its Harry Potter-themed burlesque show.

Hysteria Machines is a collective of burlesque dancers, comedians and other performers. It has presented different styles of burlesque dance, but began focusing on nerdlesque in 2012, creating shows based on pop culture and sci-fi, including The Avengers, Gotham and Game of Thrones. It debuted Sexpelliarmus in 2014 at a Harry Potter convention in Atlanta. Company director Persephone Phoenix had developed the show after performing a Ravenclaw-themed act at Atlanta’s fantasy convention Dragon Con.

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