‘ELEEMOSYNARY’ A Journey Between Generations

Playing through Oct. 29, 2016 in New York City
Playing through Oct. 29, 2016 in New York City

The word eleemosynary is not one that usually pops up in every day conversation. Saying it is one thing, but being able to spell it is quite another.  Eleemosynary, is a favorite word of Echo, a young girl in the play of the same name which is currently running now through Oct. 29, 2016 at the John DeSotelle Studio NuBox Theater. Written by Lee Blessing, the play is an intense look at the relationships between three generations of women.  It features a well-developed storyline and superb acting. All of this allows the audience to experience the journey that the three women are on as well as speaking directly to the emotions we all carry with us from our own life experiences.

ELEEMOSYNARY was first performed in 1985 in Minneapolis. Since then it has been performed in a variety of locations and theaters including a stop at Manhattan Theater Club. This version is directed by Alexandra Scordato, and it features a trio of female actors who give themselves over completely to their characters.  The story is told through flashback scenes that intertwine with the actual time in which the play takes place.

Dorothea is a woman who had ideas about how she wanted to live her life that conflicted with the accepted norms for women of the time. After high school, she dreamed of going on to college. But she grew up in a time when women were supposed to marry as soon as possible and that is what awaits Dorothea. As a result, she feels lost until one day when she learns what the word “eccentric” means. She is so taken with that word that she adopts it to describe herself. And she does many things to live up to it including the way she raises her daughter, Artie. One very memorable scene shows Dorothea trying to get Artie to fly. Artie is wearing a set of wire and mesh wings and with her mother’s encouragement, is being told to go to a high ledge and jump off and fly. Mom tells her to believe she can fly and she will. The common sense that Artie has conflicts with her mother’s request and she wisely does not jump.

These types of conflicts occur throughout their lives resulting in communication breaking down. Always at the base is the expectation to be extraordinary particularly as articulated by Dorothea. Artie runs away to live her own life several different times. She graduates college, goes to graduate school, and eventually devotes her career to research which does impress mother Dorothea but that point is never really made clear to Artie until much later. She also marries and has a child who goes to live with her grandmother, Dorothea.

In many ways, the child, Echo, has some of the best characteristics of her mother and grandmother. She is very smart and she excels at spelling so much that she becomes a national champion. And yes the word “Eleemosynary” is key in the contest. However, even more important than her being smart, Echo understands both of the women in her life and she is able to communicate with them both. She becomes the bridge between Dorothea and Artie so that eventually, a form of forgiveness arrives to soothe some of the feelings of conflict.

The intensity of the journey to reach this bridging of the communication provides an audience with opportunities to see three women performing their roles in a manner that creates and shapes characters who are hard to forget. Marina Barry creates Dorothea in a high energy, enthusiastic format. Her Dorothea is lovely when she is with Echo and over the top in terms of having sense when dealing with Artie. She succeeds in creating the interfering mother who you cannot stand to be around. Zoe Van Tieghem plays Echo with a calm, self-assured manner needed to convince the audience that she can bridge the gap between her mother and grandmother. The character of Echo is strong and she has the determination and perseverance to make it happen. Playing what might be the most challenging role of the show is Shana Wiersum as Artie. She portrays Artie as a woman who does what she needs to do in order to stay calm and centered. Doing this is not easy for the character and it causes her to have to cut off contact with her mother and at one point Echo too. It’s hard to tell what Artie is thinking or feeling at times because Ms. Wiersum does a fine job in playing the character holding back emotion and not allowing things to come to her that will hurt her as she has been in the past.

For people who want to see a good drama about family conflicts, this is a good choice to go to see. Unless the run is extended, it will close this weekend, on Oct. 29.

Run Time: 95 minutes (approx)

Written by: Lee Blessing

Director: Alexandra Scordato

Location: John DeSotelle Studio, NuBox Theater, 300 W. 43rd Street, New York City

Performances: October 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29 at 7:30 p.m. and a 2:00 p.m. matinee on October 29

Contact for Info and Tickets: Wind River Productions

‘Mad Love’

Jared Michael Delaney and Brittany Proia in 'Mad Love'. Photo credit: SuzAnne Barabas
Jared Michael Delaney and Brittany Proia in ‘Mad Love’.
Photo credit: SuzAnne Barabas

Mad Love is a new comedy that opened last weekend at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, NJ. Playwright Marisa Smith has produced a contemporary, edgy, funny play about Brandon who is sort of dating Sloane, but neither will commit to a serious relationship. Mad Love was the first new play produced at the new Northern Stage/Barrette Center in White River Junction, Vermont where it was directed by Maggie Burrows. The play was an O’Neill Playwright’s Conference semi-finalist and won Best Play (2012) from NH in Portland Stages’ (Maine) Clauder Competition.

This production marks the return to the NJ Rep for Playwright Marisa Smith whose play Saving Kitty was produced by New Jersey Rep in 2013 and in the summer of 2015. Marisa is an associate artist at the Lark Play Development Center, an artist in residence at the Hermitage Artists Retreat on Manasota Key, Florida for 2015-17 and an artist at the Marble House Project in Dorset, Vermont for the fall of 2016. She has developed work at the Lark, the Theresa Rebeck Writer’s Colony, The University of Delaware Professional Repertory Company, at the Dorset Theater Festival, Dartmouth College and at the Williamstown Theater Festival. In 2017 Sex and Other Disturbances will be produced in Melbourne, Australia, directed by Nadia Tass.

Evan Bergman is the Director for Mad Love. He most recently directed the world premiere of A Better Place by Wendy Becket at the Duke Theater in New York. He also directed the world premiere of the long running New York and Los Angeles production of The Director starring John Shea. He has directed a number of productions for NJ Rep including Marisa Smith’s Saving Kitty, A View of the Mountains by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award nominee Lee Blessing, and The M Spot by Michael Tucker, starring Emmy Award winner Jill Ekinberry.

Press notes describe the play in the following manner:

Sloane Hudson, a wealthy, beautiful recent Ivy League graduate and product of the campus hook-up culture and frat basement pong tournaments, doesn’t believe in love or marriage. She does, however, believe in babies and wants one soon so her tummy can bounce back and she can still wear a bikini. The problem is she needs a sperm donor who passes muster. Enter Brandon, who has all the right stats, but the wrong attitude. Brandon, meantime, has enough on his plate living with his brother Doug, who just fell in love with Katerina, the hooker from the Ukraine. Cabbage soup, a rare baseball card and a lizard named Pogo all play a part in this romantic comedy for cynical times.

The cast includes the following:

Making his debut at the NJ Rep is Jared Michael Delaney who plays the role of Doug. Jared is the cofounder and Associate Artistic Director of Revolution Shakespeare. He has appeared in productions at 59E59 and at a number of regional theaters. He also is a playwright whose first full-length play, The Hand of Gaul, was produced in 2013 at Inis Nua Theatre.

Also making an NJ Rep debut is Brittany Proia in the role of Katerina. An actor and songwriter from Olney, MD, she has appeared in regional theater and performed in productions of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (The Night Shift), Breadcrumbs (Urbanite Theatre), and the Taming of the Shrew (Nebraska Shakespeare) in addition to other work with theater companies.

Playing the role of Brandon is Graham Techlet who is an actor and writer from Boston but based in New York. His recent credits include: Song For A Future Generation and Jonah, A Musical Detour (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Gutenberg! The Musical! (Basement Arts), and Stupid F**king Bird (University Productions). His plays include Nantucket Sleighride (Beckwith Theatre, 2015), The Kid Cult Cosmology (Playfest), and Like Henry the Sixth But Cool.

Alex Trow plays the part of Sloane. She has appeared off-Broadway in London Wall (Mint Theater), Flamingo (Sanguine Theater Co.), Straight (u/s, Acorn Theater Off-Broadway), and Scarlett Fever (NY Fringe Fest). Regionally, she has appeared in Mad Love (Northern Stage, world premiere), Owners (Yale Rep), and Othello (Shakespeare Santa Cruz).

About the Show:

Playwright: Marisa Smith

Director: Evan Bergman

Production Team: Jessica Parks (Set Design), Brian Snyder (Technical Director,) Jill Nagle (Lighting Design), Merek Royce Press (Sound Design), Patricia E. Doherty (Costume Design), and Jennifer Tardibuono (Stage Manager).

Location: New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ

Performances: October 20 – November 20, 2016 on Thursdays and Fridays 8:00 pm; Saturdays 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00 pm.

Contact for Info and Tickets: The New Jersey Repertory Company website at www.njrep.org or by calling 732-229-3166.

Additional Information: Discounts available to groups of 10+

7th Annual ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ to feature ‘Frankenstein’

shakespeare-theatre-of-nj-logoThe Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present the seventh annual Something Wicked This Way Comes. This popular one-night-only event will take place on Monday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue in Madison.  This year’s event will be a staged reading of Frankenstein by Victor Gialenella based on the classic horror novel by Mary Shelley.

The reading, which is directed by Brian B. Crowe, will see Theater Company members Clark Scott Carmichael and Jeffrey M. Bender of this summer’s Coriolanus and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised) respectively, returning for this one-night event. Mr. Carmichael will play Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Bender will play The Creature.  The evening will also feature the haunting music of the theremin, played by annual musical guest, John Hoge.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at www.ShakespeareNJ.org or by phone by calling the Box Office at 973-408-5600.