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“Job” well done!

BeLonging review by Jen Bush

A Film by Gauthier-Charbel Raad

Director: Gauthier-Charbel Raad

Writers: Gauthier-Charbel Raad and Pamela Saadeh

Cast: Romain Kachaner, Jihad Saade, Jill Alexandria, Gassia Shahabzian, Gauthier-Charbel Raad

Going on a job interview can be nerve wracking.  Being uncomfortable in a vulnerable situation is par for the course.  In BeLonging this discomfort was taken to a whole new level.

In BeLonging we meet a man who goes on job interviews in the filmmaking industry in four different countries.  The interviews take place in French, Lebanese, American and body language.  We’ll get to that!  This interviewee had a stellar CV (resume), two master’s degrees, a wealth of international experience and was fluent in multiple languages.  For most employers this person would be a goldmine and he would be snapped up immediately.  These particular interviewers asked wildly inappropriate questions.  They focused on ridiculous things like the job seeker’s name, a personal issue with a film he made and questioning how he would fit into American culture.  My favorite line in the movie came from the American interviewer who asked the character, “When Easter comes up, will you be angry?”  Cultural differences aside, the Easter Bunny and a handful of chocolate eggs can put a smile on anyone’s face!  The fourth and final interview was nearly wordless but spoke volumes.  The interviewer was blatantly smitten with the interviewee.  She stared seductively while batting her eyelashes and suggestively played with her hair before and after she removed her head covering.

BeLonging shows the surreal side of job interviews and the difficulties that can be experienced when there are cultural differences.  This 11-minute film is highly relatable because most people have been on job interviews.  It contains themes of multi-culturalism and trying to fit in.  The filmmaker’s innovative use of camera angles successfully built tension with some extreme close-ups making some of the interviewers menacing.  The film was well cast, and the material was well executed by each talented actor.  Kudos to Gassia Shahabzian who uttered only two words but got the message across loud and clear.  The humor in the film is subtle but you will find yourself laughing at the absurdity of the situations.  Job well done!  You’re hired!

Robert Viagas looks back on some powerhouse productions of the end of 22

Proudly displaying his latest book, “Good Morning, Olive: Haunted Theatres of Broadway and Beyond,” at the Theatre Circle shop on West 44th Street in Times Square, theatre icon Robert Viagas penned the followqing list of notables that wowed the holiday tourist throngs last month.

& Juliet

How amazing that after more than 400 years, William Shakespeare’s plays continue to intrigue and inspire, not just audiences but writers of all kinds. The latest manifestation of this phenomenon is & Juliet—not a typo. Librettist David West Read worked with widely-heard but little-known songwriter Max Martin to use his hit pop songs to continue the story of Romeo and Juliet, but with a clever twist. We meet Shakespeare (Stark Sands) and his wife, Anne (Betsy Wolfe), who are at odds about the ending of what is perhaps his most famous play. Anne insists that Juliet (Lorna Courtney) should not die at the end. So, Mr. and Mrs. Shakespeare set to collaborate on a full sequel to chronicle Juliet’s rollicking and romantic post-Romeo adventures. The result is pure musical fun, full of sparkling and  newly-“woke” escapades, told with familiar (and some not-so-familiar) songs including “I Kissed a Girl,” “Love Me Like You Do,” “I Want It That Way,” “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” and “Oops!… I Did it Again.” An import from London, the show was directed by Luke Sherman, with joyous choreography by Jennifer Weber and lively orchestrations by Bill Sherman.

Some Like it Hot

The only new show with more pure energy than K-POP is one that is likely to stay around a lot longer: Casey Nicholaw’s blazing staging of the new musical Some Like It Hot. It’s based on the 1959 film comedy of the same title, but with a diverse cast and a timely rewrite of the central story. Nicholaw and songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Mary Poppins Returns) bring old-fashioned Broadway razzmatazz to the story of two Prohibition-era musicians on the run from the mob. The pair (Christian Borle as Joe/Josephine and J. Harrison Ghee as Jerry/Daphne) hide in plain sight, disguising themselves as women in an “all-girl” band. Yes, this is another stage adaptation of a movie with drag characters. But unlike Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire, Some Like It Hot brings the story’s sensibilities up to date. Thanks to the dynamic new book by Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin, the story is not just played for cis-gendered laughs. Ghee finds that he likes being a girl, and on a trip to Mexico with his suitor, the millionaire Osgood (the unquenchable Kevin Del Aguila), comes to realize that he may have crossed more than one border. Nearly every song in the score lands solidly, and the title number offers a classic showtune that takes its place proudly with the classics. It’s old-fashioned in the best possible sense. PS: Other than its source material, the new Some Like It Hot bears no connection with the 1972 musical Sugar adapted from the same film, which has a score by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill.

Ohio State Murders

Audra McDonald returns to Broadway in this quietly stunning murder mystery with powerful racial overtones. The play marks the long overdue Broadway debut of 91-year-old playwright Adrienne Kennedy, who has been poleaxing audiences with her daring dramas since the 1960s. In this 90-minute one-act, the main character, a stand-in for Kennedy herself, answers an interviewer’s question about the source of the violent imagery that pervades her oeuvre. Ohio State Murders is a narration of her early life as a black student in a nearly all-white campus in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She has an affair with a white professor who spurns her when she becomes pregnant. Their tiny twin daughters suffer horrific murders. Though the story unfolds slowly—at times very slowly—McDonald keeps the narrative thread taut by bearing witness with a barely-controlled fury throughout, leading to the spectacularly violent climax. The supporting cast, including Bryce Pinkham and Abigail Stephenson, speak rarely and sparely. They move in and out of the action like ghosts. McDonald plays the living, breathing central character as if she has a scream of pain perpetually stuck in her throat.

The Old Man and the Pool

Comedian Mike Birbiglia is a master of all media, having had success in movies, sitcoms, TV dramas, talk shows, clubs, music videos, podcasts, and as the author of books. But he is perhaps most completely at home on the stage. His latest monologue shows why this standup comedian gets a full evening at Lincoln Center and not 15 minutes at the local comedy club. He has used previous solo shows to explore sleepwalking and other weaknesses of the flesh, and to share his adventures in the world of romance. This latest solo show takes what might seem to be an unpromising subject—diabetes, a weak heart and the approach of middle age—and spins it into comic gold, using his familiar bemused old-buddy narrative approach. The backbone of the piece is the story of how his doctor is pressing him to take up swimming despite the fact that he had several comically traumatic pool experiences as a child. It may sound low-key, but, trust me, he’s hilarious. He makes you laugh, then touches your heart.

Kimberly Akimbo

This sweet little black-comedy musical tells the story of the eponymous Kimberly (Victoria Clark), a high school student who struggles to have as normal a life as possible despite three colossal millstones around her neck. Millstone number one: her family is utterly dysfunctional, with two battling parents (Allie Mauzey and Steven Boyer) who don’t love her, and a crazy aunt (the showstopping Bonnie Milligan) who is incapable of staying within the law. Millstone number two is even worse: Kimberly suffers from progeria, a genetic disease that causes her to age prematurely. She looks 50 but is actually only 16. Which bring us to millstone number three: Life expectancy for the disease: 16. Despite all this, Kimberly Akimbo is, as I said, a generally sweet musical comedy. But, as adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own play, the musical nonetheless has a serious problem. Although we cheer for Kimberly’s desire to escape her miserable home and hit the road for one last great adventure with her boyfriend (Justin Cooley), it’s hard to get fully on board with the way she chooses to pursue it. The cheerfully amoral aunt enlists Kimberly and her friends to perform a scam: fishing retirees’ checks out of the mailbox, changing the name, and cashing them. What would you call that? A crime? Yes, a crime. Kimberly then runs off with the proceeds to finance her grand farewell fling. Despite the charming songs (music by Tony winner Jeanine Tesori) and dances (by Danny Medford), the audience is left with a sour taste in its mouth.

A Christmas Carol

Actor Jefferson Mayes can do pretty much anything. He proves this by tackling projects where he plays multiple roles, including both men and women of all ages. He embodied all eight murder victims in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, created no fewer than 50 roles in I Am My Own Wife, and now, in a holiday season production of A Christmas Carol, enacts virtually every single character as he recites, from memory, most of the original text of Dickens’ well-known novella. Though illustrated with sets and costumes by Dane Laffrey, lighting effects by Ben Stanton, sound by Joshua D. Reid and hair by makeup by Cookie Jordan, the central strength of this production is Mayes’ power as a pure storyteller. At a moment’s notice he can switch from a truly horrifying embodiment of Jacob Marley’s damned ghost to a quivering, terrified Scrooge. His tour-de-force moments come when he is jumping back and forth among members of a crowd, such as Fezziwig’s Christmas party, the Cratchit family dinner, and the gathering at his nephew’s home. Mayes contains multitudes, and they all get their moment to shine in this “spirited” production.

A Sherlock Carol

On the other hand, for those who have seen A Christmas Carol so many times they are ready to say “humbug” to yet another retelling of the story, A Sherlock Carol offers a thoroughly charming, witty, new take on this classic. Two classics actually. Mark Shanahan’s fast-paced script offers a mashup of Dickens’ classic with the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle’s master detective Sherlock Holmes. They have more in common than you might think. The story opens on a world-weary Holmes (Drew McVety) whose life has lost its purpose since the death of his nemesis, the “Napoleon of crime,” Moriarty. At this moment—on Christmas Eve, of course—comes the thump of a cane. It’s Dr. Timothy Cratchit (Dan Domingues), yes the onetime Tiny Tim who has survived and grown into a successful adult doctor, helping others like himself. It seems that his old friend and benefactor Ebenezer Scrooge (Allen Gilmore) was found dead in his study that very morning. Natural causes are assumed by most people, but no-longer-tiny Tim suspects it was murder. This sets off a chain of events, including visits from supernatural Spirits, and various live subjects, touching on all the best-known tropes, characters and catchphrases from both classics, cunningly intertwined. The protean five-person cast manages to play the dozens of characters with fast-changes and fresh accents. McVety sometimes rattles through his lines too quickly, but Shanahan’s direction helps keep the audience oriented through the story’s many delightful plot turns and surprises. Here’s hoping it becomes a perennial on the New York stage.

Leopoldstadt

The Holocaust has inspired its own rich and sorrowful literature. Its horrors have been retold again and again in the nearly 80 years since it ended, on the theory that they must be retold lest they be forgotten and repeated. Well, looking at the news about antisemitic violence from around the world and even here in the U.S., it appears that their terrible lessons are indeed being forgotten. Into this breach comes much-laureled playwright Tom Stoppard, who tells the semi-autobiographical story of his own family, successful and seemingly fully-integrated Austrian Jews, who once enjoyed a comfortable middle-class life in the largely Jewish Viennese suburb of Leopoldstadt. The play covers a sweep of their lives from 1899 to 1955, suffering crushing dehumanization and violence at the hands of the very people whose culture they had so trustingly embraced. It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking drama, performed by a dedicated 38-actor ensemble who are determined to tell the tragic story one more time, in defiance of the threatening headwinds of history.

K-POP

K-POP came and went on Broadway all too quickly, though it sometimes suffered from being  its own worst enemy. Wildly popular in South Korea, the aptly-named K-pop music has drawn an international following, especially among young people. The musical, which originated Off-Broadway before COVID-19, attempted to give the music a dramatic context, in the form of a backstage story of several K-pop groups and stars, RTMIS, F8, MwE and RBY, as they nervously prepare for a big concert. The bright, young attractive cast (including 18 Broadway debuts, primarily of Asian and Asian-America artists) radiated energy as they performed songs by Helen Park, billed as the first Asian composer on Broadway. But most of the talented singers/dancers were weak in the acting department, and were not helped by Max Vernon’s lyrics, which were sometimes unintelligible, nor by Jason Kim’s book, which was filled with painfully stiff dialog. Despite these issues, the show seemed to inspire wild enthusiasm from younger audience members. It had the ingredients of a smash, but somehow the positive word-of-mouth didn’t get out in time.

Ain’t No Mo’

With this savage new comedy, 27-year-old Jordan E. Cooper has established himself as one of the most interesting and daring young playwrights. The overall premise is that the American government has offered all black residents one-way tickets “back” to Africa. In a series of mad, bitingly satirical vignettes, we see the resulting chaos—and relief. In one, an outspoken airline boarding agent tries to get black passengers to board a jet piloted by former president Barack Obama. The agent is performed by the author in drag. Like Hamilton author/star Lin-Manuel Miranda, he is the best interpreter of his own material. In another, a black preacher (Marchánt Davis) offers a lively eulogy in front of a coffin containing the remains of “Brother Righttocomplain.” Another vignette offer the imaginary reality show, “Real Baby Mamas of the Southside,” which savages people like Rachel Dolezal who claim to be black but aren’t. Some of the scenes run on too long, but all stick long daggers into the heart of American racism. Too bad the wickedly fun Ain’t No Mo’ didn’t find a commercial audience. Never mind. The play already won an Obie Award for its 2019 Off-Broadway premiere and will get lots of productions around the country. Cooper has already created a daring TV sitcom, “The Ms. Pat Show,” and will likely return to the stage with something new that will dazzle us again.

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Angela Theresa Egic reviews The Buffalo Hero of WWI by Kenthedo Robinson at the American Theatre of Actors

My arrival at the American Theatre of Actors was memorable. It is a space this reviewer, as an actor, has performed at some time ago. At the end of the hallway, I was told there were two performances. The man at the box office informed me, The Buffalo Hero of WWI, was cancelled due to a sick Lighting Person, or Sound Person. The actors and crew only learned about it an hour before. Before I left, I told the friendly box office volunteer I was here to “review the show”. He allowed me to go in for what would be a dress rehearsal. The first time the cast would be in the bigger theater.

My first impression as the only audience member, until there were two when my friend arrived; I was impressed with the changes in this theater. The last time I was in this space, a few years ago, there was no balcony or spiral staircase. What a great space, and doing my own plays there, danced in my mind.

I walked in early enough to catch the Writer/Director, Kenthedo Robinson, a truly talented man. Also, the Lighting Technician and various cast members preparing. Ms. D (Mamma Miner) being in full rehearsal on her own.

The assistant, whom, I’m sorry to say, I did not remember to identify between Mark Robinson or Michael Banks. One was absent and they are both noted, respectively, in the playbill as Sound, Lighting and Projection. The playbill lists them both twice each. If the gentleman there was another person, it is not noted, or one is not identified in the paper playbill.

During this dress rehearsal, the lights were used, and the sound was spoken, by the assistant (on book), when there was no sound set-up.

The missing person, and the cancelation of the performance for audience, much like sound and a missing props, here and there, marked the overall performance. It is an interesting true story of Wayne Miner, the last soldier killed in World War I. Mr. Miner was an African American Kansas City fallen Buffalo Soldier Hero. Mr. Miner was boldly portrayed by the handsome and excellent actor, Alton Ray. He fit what I would imagine this hero to be, a strong performance in every way.

The Cast of The Buffalo Hero of WWIThe cast is strong, throughout, and Mr. Ray I would say a great lead for this play. All entrances and characters were strongly identified by the actors. Particularly in Act I. Some small uneven moments in scenes as the play progressed, not as distracting to most audience members, I would think. Just as a theatre professional, fixable with tightening; the unevenness could be removed by a bit more focus to the story. Michael Julius who had a wonderfully diverse character as Franklin B. Seymour, fantastically portrayed an act of being abused very well. Yet, in describing the actual horrid act by fellow white soldiers, he lost a bit of the anger of the act. Where it seemed his anger should be growing, his ebbed during the description of the act. The event that drove him to the anger. I would have liked to see that description itself to be expressed even more strongly. Julius chose to express it more like an observer, at the moment, it would seem better to grow more there, instead of using it as calm recall.

Kassime Fofana, as Rafius Rucker, driven into shell shock and fear and cheating on his wife, was fully a great performance into this type of mental illness. There were a couple of moments, seeing the true angst on his face, softened into clear vision. I would have liked to see the incredible coming insane fear stay on his face until his decision to do what he must do, to end his internal terror.

Some may be excused due to last minute changes; for example, coming ready to perform for an audience and ending up in a dress rehearsal. Secondly, moving from a smaller space to a much bigger space. Considering this, the cast, without full sound and having some of it just being read from the front row out of the script, it was excellent. There were only a few small stops and delays, to find a missing prop or get to the right light cue.

They ran almost straight through, with a needed intermission. I would say the ending was a bit lengthy. I would not want to have missed the information, yet it felt like The Buffalo Here of WWI could have been shorter, a little long to get to the end.

Nicolas Dodge as Captain Quincy Blu is to be commended for his performance as the prejudiced, closed-minded Captain! His changes felt natural and never broke who he was as a person. He was truly the guy you hate, and eventually, almost understood he was merely the victim of his time and may have changed by the end of the war. Maybe he told the story of these men he lost?

Ms. D played way beyond her years. I felt every time she was on stage. I felt the love for her son. And if not for her performance, I would have thought, she is too young to be the mother she portrayed.

Shani Tabia as Angelica was a joy every time, she entered the stage. Her energy was the glue and if there were any lags, her performance brought up the room. Overall, the energy of all the actors was fantastic. Ms. Tabia had this and more reminding us of our purpose, no matter what others may say. That can do and will do attitude.

Final Thoughts 

Although this about a time before any of us were born. It is proof that we have not grown as much as we’d like to believe. How history, in some ways, repeats itself and even though, from the prejudice Captain Quincy Blu to the ideology of Myles Marable as Lt. Clark guiding us so beautifully, as our guru of taking people from where they are and guiding them to illuminating where we can be, with one step at a time. Marable played that he, as this character, would, ideally, have written this story of the possibilities of the future by meeting people where they are.

Chansons: Piaf, Brel & Me – Musical Cabaret about Franceby the multi-award-winning singer, Stefanie RummelLive at the Town Hall with TGI at the Adelaide Fringe

Chansons means simply “songs” but when in the hands of cabaret chanteuse Stefanie Rummel, Chansons means so much more! The international songstress offers stunning interpretations of Jacques Brel classics including ‘Ne me quitte pas’ and mesmerizing takes on Edith Piaf’s ‘Padam, Padam’ and ‘Milord.’

Audiences in Germany, France, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Finland, and the United States, described Chansons as a ‘heart-connecting experience’. Accompanied by recordings of pianists such as Bogdan Pielanu, Tom Schlueter and Bob Egan, Mrs. Rummel weaves alluring tales of France and “the French way.” Stefanie relates inspiring stories about German, French and international perspectives and cultures. Don’t worry if you don’t speak French, the songs touch universal moments and everything else is presented in English.

Stefanie Rummel has been celebrated for her work: Global Music Award (Silver Medal); Intercontinental Music Award 2022 (Finalist – Best Vocal Performance); German Rock & Pop Award 2021 (1st, 2×2, 2x.3 place); plus, acclaimed appearances at Reykjavik Fringe Festival; Living Records Festival; Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in 2023 at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, to name a few. https://chansons.show/“Great chansons… passionate feelings” – Rheingauer Echo“Rummel’s voice is outstanding: it moves from delicate, lingering notes (in a superb cover of Autumn Leaves) to real moments of joie de vivre in Rummel’s take on the Piaf classic, L’Accordeoniste.” – The Reviews Hub – Helen Tope 4 Star Review ****“A fascinating show, comfortably paced and with the right amount of history, songs and personal anecdotes, it held my attention despite me being far from fully conversant in French.”  – LondonTheatre1 by Chris Omaweng 4 Star Review **** The multi-award-winning singer and musical theater actress Stefanie Rummel has won (or been a finalist) in various national and television singing competitions. Most recently she received 5 awards for her work with Chansons. 1st Best Chansons, 2nd. Best Music Video, 2nd Best Composer, 3rd Best Musical & Best Folk Song.

Stefanie Rummel has lived in France, Germany and the USA and shares her intercultural experiences in her show Chansons. Songs from Paris to Hollywood – from “Piaf, Brel, Zaz & Me” are combined with very personal stories about the love of life. Chansons has been invited to festivals such as the Reykjavik Fringe Festival, Lathi Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Living Records Festival & Sydney Fringe, Adelaide Fringe… Stefanie Rummels’ gala acts, one-woman-shows and musical cabarets have been performed in the US, UK, Norway, Iceland, France, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, etc. Her special quadruple acts “Song, Act, Tap & Magic” went on various tours, sang on cruise ships, variety shows and galas. The shows are performed in English, German and French, depending on where she is. As a vocal specialist and Estill Mentor Course Instructor, she gives master classes internationally and lectures on various vocal styles and their scientific insights. She performed in the musical “Nunsense” for 11 years, 7 of which she played Sister Hubert in the longest running “Nunsense” show in the world. She also appeared in musicals such as “Kiss me Kate”, “Sweet Charity”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”. In 2021, she was nominated for “Producer of the Year” and “Theatermaker Choice” by Tony Award winner Ken Davenports’ Theatermaker Studio. In 2022, she was nominated for “Best Player” and “Best Musical.” https://stefanierummel.com/

Further Press Citations:

“And when the musical chameleon first breathes Brel’s ballad “Ne me quitte pas” into the microphone for the finale of her one-woman show and then encourages the audience to sing along without restraint with her gospel show-down, these are just two of the many highlights of an intimate evening of cabaret put together with much love.”
– Offenbacher Post 

“Evergreens like “Amsterdam”, “L’accordéoniste” and – at the end – “Milord” made the hearts beat faster, as the stormy applause showed. Without encore the duo was not dismissed and gave the audience still “La vie en rose.”
 – Rheingauer Echo 

“Stefanie Rummel’s choice of songs will evoke memories, collective and personal, even if they are not sung in our home language. Stefanie’s ability to connect to her audience through songs is both charming and seductive. Chansons delivers a simple but moving message: it is through songs that we are finally able to understand each other.” – BroadwayWorld, Helen Tope 

“Walter” Gets An A

WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WALTER? -Review by Jen Bush

When people think about academia, they might envision stuffed shirts sitting around engaged in profound discussions about things that are way over their heads.  Not in WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WALTER?  With themes of infidelity, ageism, jealousy and conflict, these stuffed shirts had a lot of interesting things going on.  Secret meetings and illicit encounters are just some of what this play has on the syllabus!

The setting is Bridge College Annette is the uptight head of the English department.  Walter Knight who has been there for 17 years and was just awarded the distinction of being a Writer in Residence is a thorn in Annette’s side.  He happens to be a very well-liked and good teacher.  She feels he is too old, completely inflexible and sorely lacking in credentials such as a master’s degree.  In academia the saying constantly tossed around is publish or perish. Though Walter is the most published professor in the department, Annette finds no intellectual value in his work since it’s commercial and not academic.  She tries to enlist the support of a fellow professor who she is having an affair with and the rest of her department to push Walter out of the college.  We see Walter’s inflexibility in a staff meeting where a list of books to use for the next semester is discussed.  Walter still values the consummate classic works of literature especially Shakespeare.   The college would like to modernize the curriculum with more inclusive, politically correct works with a concentration on female authors.  Walter has become Annette’s obsession and she will stop at nothing till he has crossed the bridge for good from Bridge College.

WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WALTER?  was written by Irving A. Greenfield.  Mr. Greenfield was a prolific author of over 300 books and several plays.  He had a wonderful professional and personal relationship with the American Theatre of Actors and the people employed there.  This play was supposed to run in 2020.  We all know what happened in 2020 and tragically, Mr. Greenfield passed away before he could see this, his latest work on the stage. Having seen several of his plays produced at The American Theatre of Actors with much of the same talent, I can say this was a brilliant artistic partnership.

WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WALTER? was funny, dramatic and edgy.  It was thought provoking and touched on some hot button topics such as gender, feminism, inclusivity, ageism and political correctness.  It’s hard to imagine Shakespeare ever becoming obsolete and irrelevant as was suggested in this play.   Whether they went to college or not, adult audiences can find something to enjoy in this well written play.

The powerful cast expertly directed by Laurie Rae Waugh were all ideally matched to their characters.  Ken Coughlin gets an A+ for his fabulous portrayal of the mercurial Walter.  His stage experience shows.  He made an excellent military man in Banned in Bisbee and a completely credible college professor in this.  He looked the part and he gave his all in the part.  Amanda Cannon goes right to the head of the class with her villainous portrayal of Annette.  She’s so good at being so bad, trust me, you’ll root for Walter!   From The Merry Wives of Windsor to this, Michael Bordwell provided another acting slam dunk.  He rolled a lot of traits into his portrayal of one of the department professors, Steven.  He was slimy, savvy, likeable, not likeable and more.  Overall, the character was out for himself but there was a tiny bit of heart directed at Walter.  It was an excellent portrayal.  This was the third time I witnessed a performance with Manny Rey and he is always solid.  He was authoritative and funny in his portrayal of the college provost.  The cast was rounded out by Vicky Gitre, Ben Guralnik,  Alan Charney and Rooki Tiwari who were all fantastic.  Every character brought to life was genuine and interesting.

So, what did they do about Walter?  A better question might be, what did Walter do about them?  WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WALTER gets a 4.0 G.P.A. which stands for great performance all around!

Gauthier Raad in Focus (Part II)

PART I in InDfilm

Meet filmmaker Gauthier Raad.  He is an international, multi-cultural and multi-lingual sensation.  He was drawn to the cinematic arts at a young age.  Following his passion, he has achieved success on several continents.  He has a vast toolbox of skills coupled with cosmopolitan experience to create innovative and compelling content.  It was wonderful to learn more about this fascinating artist.

Interview by Jen Bush

Mr. Raad’s defining moment in life was to go on a journey which paved the way to his career in the arts.  It took a lot of guts to do this at a young age but it all worked out in the end.  “I feel that the most defining moment in my life is when I decided to pack my suitcase and move to another country alone without knowing anyone there. This happened when I was 19 years old. It has taught me a lot of things… a lot of lessons. I think I became fearless.” 

Mr. Raad has a favorite genre and it’s a good one.  “My favorite genre is a psychological thriller. It is so difficult to be able to create such a genre but when it is well done, psychological drama movies haunt me for months. I think it needs a high level of maturity, professionalism, and time to be able to do a psychological thriller. This is why there are not a lot of them.”

Mr. Raad has a positive attitude and doesn’t let obstacles stand in his way.  “Obstacles are everywhere… but I believe if we really want something, genuinely – not for our ego – It will come. 

The biggest obstacle in our industry is always the network and the contacts. Most people stay in the same place and work on expanding their network. My journey is completely different. I have moved many places but this has never been an obstacle or a handicap in my professional life.” 

Mr. Raad shared his thoughts on how the pandemic impacted the arts industry.  “I think our habits have changed post-pandemic. It is important for us to start pushing back people to go out and meet, and network… I have noticed this in the film festival I manage. I think the virtual shift that happened during the pandemic is a very positive thing, however, I think that people have to put more effort to go out and meet other people. The pandemic made us lazy and so comfortable in our houses… I think venues, associations should help the festivals and the events by giving them more space to do more events so people will little by little get into the habit of going out more.” 

“What’s next?  My dreams… here I come.”  For someone who had the incentive to take the world by storm before the age of 20, I believe Mr. Raad’s dreams will be fulfilled, and we will be the lucky recipients of his art.

FRESH FRUIT FESTIVAL MULTIMEDIA SEASON 2023


ALL OUT ARTS, the producer of FRESH FRUIT FESTIVAL, one of NY’s premier LGBTQ arts festivals for more than two decades is accepting submissions from NYC authors of LGBT-themed short works and full plays in three multi-media categories this year. Thanks to the generosity of New York City’s Dept. of Cultural Affairs and the NYC Council, there are NO Admission or Participation Fees required, but there are numerous financial rewards and prizes




The 2023 FRESH FRUIT MAINSTAGE MAINSTAGE: Performances April – May at the Wild Project, NYC. Looking for Stage Plays of many types; must be self-produced. Tech and FOH staff provided plus production consultation and insurance. Shows receive FREE Box Office Share (last year over $6,000 was distributed). Storage provided. Event curated by Dennis Corsi and Louis Lopardi. Deadline December 15.

The 2023 MONOLOGUES-on-Film Project: A Contest and Exhibit of self-produced monologues on video. This year’s general theme: “Seeing.”  Eight to 10 Semi Finalists will be presented for public and technical panel voting. Free technical guidance and limited post-processing. Cash stipends to ALL Semi-Finalists PLUS increased cash award to all three finalists. Early-Spring presentation for votes, plus hosting on our YouTube Channel for two seasons!  Deadline January 2. Event curated by Jay Michaels.

The 2023 RadioPLAYS: Self-produced Audio works in two divisions. Radio SHORTS (up to 25 minutes, 3+ characters). Radio SHOTS! (2.5 characters, 3 to 12 minutes).  Extensive free technical help at all levels of the production process. Free post-processing and Podcast hosting. Cash stipends $175 to $250 upon completion.  Deadline January 15. Rolling production January through May. Event curated by Jay Michaels.

Please SEE our website for Details, Rules, and Links to past winners
https://freshfruitfestival.com/all-entry-fy23/  Note: Online-Application Forms only, per each part. If you submit in more than one division, please ALSO use the Contact form on the website.

Kenthedo Robinson’s powerful drama, “The Buffalo Hero of World War I: The Wayne Miner Story” returns to New York for a special limited engagement

The Buffalo Hero of World War I
The Wayne Miner Story
Returning to New York for a special limited engagement is Kenthedo Robinson’s powerful drama about a group of unknown and unsung heroes of World War I.
 
Special Engagement: December 7 – 18 (Wed – Sat. @ 8:00 p.m. and Sun @ 3:00 p.m.)
Tickets $20  (Groups of 10 or more $15)
EventBrite.com     
The American Theatre of Actors is located at 314 West 54th St, NYC
Call for tickets: 212-581-3044    917-523-2823


 

Black Lives Mattered … even in 1918
Acclaimed playwright, Kenthedo Robinson’s retelling of the true story of three young men enlisted to fight for World Democracy during WWI returns to one of New York only remaining off-off Broadway movement venues (along with La Mama and theatre for the New City), the American Theatre of Actors for a limited run during the holiday season.
Wayman Miner (1894 – 1918) was an American soldier who fought in the Buffalo Soldier regiment during the First World War. He died in the hours between the signing of the Armistice and the symbolic 11 a.m. time it was set to go into effect, after volunteering for a mission to carry ammunition to a machine gun nest. This is his story and that of his fellow Buffalo Soldiers.

They battled many more enemies than many soldier of the time. Most battled the Ottoman Empire, but the Buffalo Soldiers discovered that racism and harassment proved to be their own personal enemy. Their most powerful weapon — the power of brotherly love and the glory of honor.    

The cast includes Ms D, Alton Ray, Shani Tabia,  Kassime Fofana,  Mike Vails,  Nicolas Dodge,  and Myles Marable
Special Effects by Nikoli Pierre; Sound Design by Mark Robinson; Lighting Design by Michael Banks;
Production written & directed by Kenthedo Robinson

The American Theatre of Actors is located at 314 West 54th St, NYC
Call for tickets: 212-581-3044    917-523-2823


                                                                                   

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KEN COUGHLIN: Theatre Dignitary

Ken Coughliin Interview by Jen Bush

Ken Coughlin is an award-winning actor/director.  He is an artist in every sense of the word.  He is a talented performer and a skilled artisan behind the scenes.  Mr. Coughlin got his start at the tender age of 5.  When most Kindergarteners are singing the ABC song, Mr. Coughlin was crooning a Nat King Cole tune.  Mr. Coughlin is a mainstay at The American Theatre of Actors where he has performed in and directed numerous productions.  I had the pleasure of witnessing his talent firsthand both on stage and through seeing shows he directed.  He knows his craft well.  You’ll be able to catch him at the ATA in November in WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WALTER?.  Mr. Coughlin was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions about his life and his work.

“I have been performing for much of my life, appearing on stage the first time at 5 years old, singing When I Fall In Love, a capella. In my teens I started playing guitar, after I was gifted one for Christmas. In my 20s I started playing in clubs around New York, both as a soloist and as a member of several different bands. My entry into the world of theater didn’t come until the early 1990s. From acting came the opportunity to Direct and from Directing, I got into the other design aspects of theater. I have been able to use other of my artistic talents on stage. In a production of “The Tale Of Patrick Bannister” by Irving A. Leitner, who passed away during the lockdown, I added a hand drawing I did of my wife Phyliss, to the set. I have performed several original songs I’ve written as well.”

 This play and the playwright hold a very special place in the hearts of the artists.  Irving A. Greenfield is no longer with us and his memory will be honored by this theatre community.  “This play has been in the works since before the lockdown in 2020. Our playwright, Irving A. Greenfield (One More Time, Family Matters, P.O.W. and Banned In Bisbee) was looking forward to seeing this production. Unfortunately, Irving passed away before theaters reopened. There will be a special tribute to Irving after each performance.”

This piece is about rivalry in academia.  Mr. Coughlin has some thoughts on the current state of education in this country.  “My personal opinion is that education is under attack in this country, by people who despise unions, those who want to turn education into a For Profit model and others who don’t want inconvenient truths taught to our children.”

Mr. Coughlin has a wonderful and productive history with The American Theatre of Actors.  It even became a family affair for him.  “My very first play at ATA was in February 1994. We had only one performance, before the production was shut down. Since that time I have performed in well over 100 productions at ATA, directed over 20 plays, including 10 – 10 minute One act plays written by another friend/playwright who passed away during the lockdown, James Crafford. I have had the wonderful opportunity to perform on the Sargent stage with my daughter Krista.”

 Laurie Waugh is also a staple at the ATA.  Mr. Coughlin and Ms. Waugh share a wonderful long standing collaborative working relationship.   “Laurie and I first crossed paths when we were on the same bill, her with 2 plays she had directed, and I was there performing a one man one act, which I also directed. I also assisted with the lighting, set and sound design for all three shows, so we collaborated quite a bit on that production. We have collaborated, directing each other, on more than 15 occasions, since then, and never a harsh word between us. Laurie is wonderful to work with, and we have a great deal of trust and respect for each other.”

“On a side note, this is not the first time working with the rest of the cast, Alan Charney, Amanda Cannon, Ben Guralnik, Mike Bordwell, Manny Rey, Rooki Tiwari and Vicky Gitre. I have acted with and/or directed everyone in the cast, and I’m looking forward to being onstage with each of them.”

 Several of Irving A. Greenfield’s plays have been performed at ATA leading to a friendship and a mutual appreciation society between Mr. Greenfield, Mr. Coughlin and Ms. Waugh.  “ Laurie and I were introduced to Irving and his work with the play One More Time. The three of us quickly developed a friendship and respect for each other’s work. Since then we put up Family Matters, P.O.W. and Banned In Bisbee.  We have some other projects of Irving’s that we would like to tackle, but speaking for myself, I’m thrilled for the work that we’ve been able to do, and saddened that we won’t see any new work by this amazing playwright, who led such an interesting life that gave him some of the inspiration to write these plays. Laurie and I have also read the Depth Force series of action novels, written by Irving, which led to the play Banned In Bisbee. Irving inadvertently gave me a great compliment after one rehearsal. During the rehearsal process for Family Matters, my character was supposed to walk with a shillelagh. Irving came to a rehearsal on an evening when I had left my shillelagh home. When I took him down to put him into a cab to go home, he asked me how I hurt my leg. I thanked him very much for the compliment, explaining that I was acting.”

Mr. Coughlin is thrilled that Indie Theatre is thriving once again.  “I have to believe that Indie Theatre is alive and well, since I have been running non-stop since restrictions started lifting in September 2021.”

There is much more to come from Ken Coughlin.  “I have several things on my plate, but I’m waiting for schedules to be solidified.”  In the meantime, check out WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WALTER?  You won’t be disappointed.