January 24, 2015
This is the final week (unless extended another month or two??) of Company XIV's "NUTCRACKER ROUGE" at 428 Lafayette Street, south of Astor Place (this is a more cozy venue than the Minetta Lane theatre locale of last season's booking). In case you don't know by now, this is a version of Tchaikovsky that Tchaikovsky might have just loved if he were visiting Manhattan of the early 21st century. You will regret not ever seeing it if you have not ever seen it. On this - my second visit to "Rouge", I was vigorously refilled with enthusiasm at the stunningly talented troupe of all the dedicated professionals and their magical power to enthrall us groundlings. Some minor changes in the cast and performance - musically and choreographically speaking - have taken place since the last time, but the requisite theatrical voltage is still here, perhaps better executed nonetheless. Under the watchful dedication of the show's director and choreographer, Austin McCormick, it is impossible to not enjoy this steaming-hot, guilt-free holiday experience. For an overall refresher of what I have thus indicated, please see my earlier, slightly lengthier compendium on "Nutcracker Rouge" - put forth when I first saw the show in all its raw musicality and fun. See directly below.
- KEVIN MARTIN
December 1, 2013
Hey you flabby, arm-chair people - after you see "Nutcracker Rouge", get thee to the gym!
Art should inspire, nothing else. It should make you both feel and THINK. "Nutcracker Rouge", presented by Company XIV and directed by Austin McCormick, does that.
T'is the Season that visionary, director, and choreographer Austin McCormick brought to the NY stage a blend of excellence in theatre art, via Pytor Tchaikovsky's timeless "Nutcracker" - with a do-over that works with a sharp, enthusiastic appeal to our present time of social change, ala gender-bending energy and creativity, traditional motifs of style and presentation, and excellence of execution. Combined, you get a holiday treat unexpected, un-threatening, but all engaging. Herewith, thanks to the ensemble's excellence that will stick to your memory for a good while, you will find waiting a complete trove of superb movement, story-telling, dance, and music. McCormick's drive toward the finish line of holiday surprise is on full display, as he boldly, successfully experiments with both new forms and routine expectations. NUTCRACKER musical selections of the original (e.g., Waltz of the Flowers) are given perfect attention and effect as the cast of dancer/characters weave their finely tuned bodies and souls effortlessly through and about the air, allowing this "Nutcracker Rouge" to soar swiftly along in the magically appointed Minetta Lane theatre - and not a Minetta minute too soon. McCormick's magic moves well at nearly each and every moment; by employing a melange of raw-energy acrobatics (raw in its barest sense), classical ballet, French Can-Can, double-entendres freshly expressed, elements of rock, jazz, and night-club vocals, the director helps us to see things differently, perhaps more fascinatingly, than we might have expected. Ribaldry - New York Holiday style, is here to stay. These nearly 2-hours of surprise enjoyment (that's what a creative director should do anyway: surprise us; this is what happens here) go nimbly by, but you will enjoy it. "Nutcracker Rouge" is intelligent, gutsy, and done with sheer originality. The cast and crew deserve high honors for their dedicated, skilled energies and talent. All here are totally professional and giving; to name a few that do this are Laura Careless in the part of Marie Claire, giving her character precise care and vulnerability every step of the way; Shelly Watson as Mrs. Drosselmeyer, in a style of singing this story along with power and grace and enthusiasm, and Ms. Watson does it brilliantly; as Mr. Drosselmeyer, Jeff Takacs is utterly engaging as he works along side Mrs. Drosselmeyer as a "co-host" of sorts - accented by a '70s hard Rock look, realized with perfect humor and intelligence. Also not to be overlooked are Zane Pihlstrom for the exquisite, uncrowded set design (Minetta lane is not a Broadway house), and for giving the story a comforting albeit luring appeal, but always (for lack of a better phrase) sucking us all into the land of Marie Claire/Nutcraker Rouge imagination. Complementing this is the light design from Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, with a smooth, subtle, and well-thought out arrangement of mood and atmosphere, appropriate to the inventiveness of the director's effort. This production with its cast of physically powerful, soulful, talented commitment is just about flawless. Let it suffice that Tea Party folks, anal types should drag themselves to Minetta Lane for some crazy, funny, sensual, surprising entertainment - if you think you can still get a TICKET. 'Ya better hurry, last performance is Jan. 5.
- KEVIN MARTIN
March 25, 2014 "Sir Patient Fancy" performed by the Queens Company.
Review by KEVIN MARTIN
"Sir Patient Fancy", by Ms. Aphra Behn (love that name!) via 17th century England is now captivating audiences every evening at the The Wild Project on East 3rd Street in the East Village. "Fancy" is a barrel of wicked, bawdy, intelligent fun with its plot all unfurled by all female cast. Here you will find some of the socially mobile upper class types of the day - with their respective Sirs and Ladies and all in-betweeners seeking their higher station in life (how to get rich quick stuff) by marrying up if possible. Hey, doesn't that stuff go on today? Isn't that how the 1 Per Cent get to keep the Ninety Per Cent of this country's wealth? Well, yes. But this play - so deftly handled by the insightful director Rebecca Patterson - shows us how to laugh, and even marvel at the absurdity of it all. This is a wondrously written, highly sardonic display of money and manners couched in trickery over the hoped-for pursuit of loving resolution. The razor-witted story involves a trio of upper classmen and loving adventurers (amorous opportunism). All three are filled with their respectively vain and self conceits as they chase about the objects of their affections; they are portrayed skillfully by Sarah Hawkins, Amy Dreisler, and Antoinette Robinson. The plot is multi-layered and enthralls us watchers with its sharp ironies and timeless jabs at the human condition: some folks will try almost anything to get what they want if it serves their interests. The plot thickens here, as varying intentions of the several characters get in the way of each other. "Fancy" covers much ground, and never disappoints. It is over a 2-1/2 hour show with intermission and worth every minute. Other stand-outs among the outstanding cast are Elizabeth Preston and Virginia Baeta. Top-notch kudos goes to Natalie Lebert as the wounded, cuckolded, albeit resolute Sir Patient Fancy himself. The costumes and set are period eye-catching and the lighting is done seamlessly. The music-song bits are an apparent add-on. However, they end up fitting well, due in in large part to the commitment and enthusiasm of the entire ensemble.