Now Showing: “The Seagull and Other Birds” at Abrons Arts Center

PanPan Photo by Ros Kavanagh

PanPan Photo by Ros Kavanagh

The contemporary Irish theatre company, Pan Pan, has brought its production The Seagull and Other Birds to the Abrons Arts Center for its U.S. premiere. The show is a modern mashup and experimental tribute to Anton Chekov’s classic play, The Seagull.  They write:

The performance centers around a concise new version of The Seagull integrated with a number of works specially commissioned by the company. Through the wormhole of the new work, Chekhov’s characters find themselves in extraordinarily different contexts: classic plays, TV shows, YouTube and stuff they’ve just made up. The result is playful and uncompromising – expect lots of talk about art, some action, and tons of love.

The piece is a tribute of sorts to Konstantin, a character in The Seagull, who is quoted as saying:

“What we need are new artistic forms.
And if we don’t get new forms it would be better if we had nothing at all.”
(Konstantin, The Seagull, 63)

As part of their exploration into new artistic forms, each performance includes audience participation in order to offer a different experience each night.

The Seagull and Other Birds runs Weds. – Sat. at 7:30 p.m., through April 2, 2016. You can buy tickets ($30) here.

Arts Watch: Joey Arias – Christmas With the Crawfords Comes to Abrons


Beginning this Wednesday, the always entertaining Joey Arias is teaming up with San Francisco’s Artfull Circle Theatre in what looks to be a hilarious parody of — and homage to — the “golden age” of Hollywood in Joey Arias – Christmas With the Crawfords at Abrons Arts Center. Based on the infamous Christmas Eve radio broadcast from the Crawford family’s Brentwood mansion, the show promises that NYC’s Yuletide will be “ever so gay in this all-singing, all-dancing, holiday extravaganza.”

Through Dec. 27, 466 Grand St., showtimes vary, $45,

Arts Watch: “War Lesbian” Premiers at Dixon Place


Dixon Place has commissioned what looks to be quite an interesting new musical from the experimental ensemble harunalee theater company.  The piece, written by Kristine Haruna Lee (playwright) and Katie Hathaway (composer) premiers this Friday. It’s based on an Inuit myth about a woman who is rejected from her family for being different and embarks upon a journey creating wars with others and within herself.

The creators note that it “deals with impossible probabilities, ridiculous heartbreak, and absurdity in which anything, and that means anything, goes. WAR LESBIAN is set in a universe where Ellen DeGeneres is a demonic demi-god and digging for truths and covering up holes can cause wars.”

Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. // $16 adv./$20 door // 161A Chrystie St. //

Arts Watch: 18th Annual NYC Fringe Festival Kicks Off Tonight

Jason Goodman and Andrea Trovato star in Vagabond, directed by Arianna De Giorgi, at FringeNYC. (© EXTRATeatro)

Jason Goodman and Andrea Trovato star in Vagabond, directed by Arianna De Giorgi, at FringeNYC. (© EXTRATeatro)

The 18th Annual NYC International Fringe Festival is up and running, featuring works from over 200 solo performers and companies for the next 16 days.  The legendary theater fest that turned into one of the largest multi-arts events in North America offers a lineup includes more than 200 companies from all over the world performing in more than 20 venues.

At the conclusion of the juried festival around 20 shows are selected to participate in the FringeNYC Encore Series which runs for an additional two weeks in September.

The festival’s headquarters, know as “Fringe Central,” are conveniently located this year in the back of The Clemente (114 Norfolk Street, between Rivington & Delancey).

Lower East Side venues include four different theaters at The Clemente, the old Living Theatre space, (which is now The Celebration of Whimsy theater) and four different E. 4th Street theaters, among others.

Here’s a good verview and some recommendations from Theatre Mania and The NY Times.

Shows run through Aug. 24th.  Tickets are $18.  For a complete list of shows, click here.

The State of the Performing Arts on the L.E.S. – a Panel at Manny Cantor

State of the Performing Arts Panel

From left: Nicky Paraiso, Jay Wegman, Ellie Covan, John Collins and Traven Rice.

Here’s the audio recording from our fascinating panel discussion held at the new Manny Cantor Center on Monday.  Our guests included Jay Wegman – artistic director of Abrons Arts Center, Ellie Covan – founder and artistic director of Dixon Place, John Collins – founder and artistic director of the theatrical company, Elevator Repair Service and Nicky Paraiso – director of programming at The Club at La MaMa.

We checked in with these esteemed programmers, producers and artists, and examined the current climate for the performing arts downtown. We discussed sustainability, how audiences and venues have evolved over the years, and explored the idea of building and growing audiences in the future, as the neighborhoods downtown continue to transform.



Review: Beauty and the Beast Charms and Entices at Abrons

Beauty and the Beast

I went to see Beauty and The Beast yesterday at Abrons Arts Center.  A friend warned me it was “very very very very very raunchy. ” I know, that’s a lot of “verys.” After all, this was a Julie Atlas Muz (Beauty) and Mat Fraser (Beast) production. She of neo-burlesque fame (a former Miss Exotic World). He, a past winner of the UK’s Exotic Award for Best Male Striptease. So my expectations for a Disneyfied PG version (even an R rating) of their interpretation of this classic fairy tale of love and acceptance were low.

Any fears those of us in the audience might have had that we were going to possibly shed a tear for our lovers were quickly extinguished by Muz who early on plainly tells her Beast “there aren’t any fairy tales.” I can’t remember if this took place before or after she had us all join in and bark like dogs.

Was I disappointed? No. Was I surprised? Yes. In fact, I was moved. This Beauty, beautifully decorated in Gothic storybook style, sans shadow puppets, snarly rose bushes and wrought iron gates, was actually a very sweet interpretation. Ok, maybe sweet is not the exact word for it. Muz and Fraser are prolific conceptual and multi-disciplinary performers who have been shocking and delighting audiences around the world with their work, which is always filled with a “subervise lack of political correctness.”

Their milieu usually includes a sideshow style take on feminism, disability and entertainment; this production works in all of those elements (including a few clever moments with puppeteers and prosthetic arms) but it is even more lavish than usual.  I was completely drawn into the world they created, often rooting for the Beast to win over Beauty—at times wondering, each time Beauty spurned Beast’s advances, who was more beastly?

The show starts out with Fraser and Muz facing the audience directly and explaining who they are. Fraser, a British “Thalidomide  baby,” was born with short “seal” like arms (or “small and perfectly deformed arms,” as he calls them)– hence the Beast, and Muz, our Beauty, was just a restless and curious doe eyed American girl from the mid-west’s murder capital of the world, Detroit.

The pair continue in this style throughout the show as they break character to weave in stories about their own true-life fairy tale of how they met and fell in love, with the archetypical story of Beauty and the Beast.

The raunch?  It is there, but it’s sly and playful, from the minute the inevitable attraction to each other begins to the moment they consummate their love for each other. As for the end? Let’s just say, they both enjoy a very “Happy Ending” — in every position imaginable!

Through March 30th // Abrons Arts Center – 466 Grand St. // $35 // 8:00 p.m.


15th Annual NYC Fringe Fest Lands on the LES

The 15th Annual New York International Fringe Festival is under way and has happily taken over many Lower East Side venues for the next two weeks.  The festival touts more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues. From edgy solo shows to avant-garde musicals to fun performances for the kids, there’s something to be found for everyone.

We are glad to see programming back at the Clemente Soto Velez Center, utilizing four of their theater spaces  – Teatro SEA, Teatro LATEA, CSV Flamboyan and the CSV Kabayitos. Other LES venues include Dixon Place, The Living Theater and the Bowery Poetry Club.