A Dead Body is Missing – Laugh It off with ‘Loot’


What’s so funny about a missing dead body? Loot, the first offering of 2014 from Red Bull Theater answers that question with a parade of less than ethical characters who will get you laughing as they attempt to recover that body and themselves in the process. Not to spoil the suspense, but the body does get recovered. However, as to the characters recovering, well that’s another story.

Loot was written by Joe Orton in a time period where attitudes towards certain institutions of society were considered sacred. So, when Loot first played in London’s West End theater district in 1966, it was regarded as one of the 20th Century’s most subversive comic masterpieces. Orton took aim at some of the most highly regarded institutions of the day namely the police and Catholic piety. He also makes humorous use of a dead corpse, murder, and robbery.

The setting for the play is June 1965 in a living room of a home in the UK. The plot centers around the McLeavy family who are in mourning due to the death of the matriarch, Mrs. McLeavy. The son, Hal, has been in cahoots with another young man, Dennis, robbing a bank. It turns out that Dennis works for the undertaker who is handling Mrs. McLeavy’s funeral services. This gives him access to the casket with Mrs. McLeavy’s body which he and Hal remove in order to store their stolen cash. Nurse Fay is already romancing Mr. McLeavy as her next husband after a long string of former ones who have already passed on. All of this is going on as Scotland Yard Inspector Truscott enters the picture and begins the investigation. He passes himself off as a water department inspector so he can gain information without arousing suspicion. And so it goes on until all is revealed with surprising but amusing outcomes.

The fine casting for the show includes Rebecca Brooksher (Fay), Eric Martin Brown (Meadows), Jarlath Conroy (McLeavy), Ryan Garbayo (Dennis), Rocco Sisto (Truscott), and Nick Westrate (Hal). Some of the characters are so despicable that one can hardly believe they have not been locked up in a prison and had the key thrown away. But then again, they would likely have found the key after it was thrown and made it out again to continue to ravage those in their path.

Direction for the Red Bull’s production is by its Artistic Director Jesse Berger. Berger has provided a play that has lots of irreverent humor, action that is well paced, and characters that appear lovely but are scoundrels underneath. Loot keeps its audience laughing for the entire 90 + minutes of the show. Much has changed in the world since this play premiered back in 1965. Yet, today’s audiences should be able to acknowledge that corruption and deception are as alive today as back then.

Performances run until February 9th only at the Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker and Hudson Streets. Visit www.RedBullTheater.com for more information and to purchase tickets online.

‘Edison’s Elephant’ to Premiere in New York City

GildedStagLogoThe world premiere of the play Edison’s Elephant will take place Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7:00 PM. The play, which is presented by The Metropolitan Playhouse and Joe Trentacosta, is a part of the Metropolitan Playhouse Gilded Age Festival which is running Jan. 16 – 22 at 220 East 4th Street in Manhattan.

Edison’s Elephant was written by Chris Van Strander and David Koteles and directed by David Elliott. Press notes describe it this way:

In 1903, on Brooklyn’s Coney Island, Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant. Moreover, he filmed it, for all to witness. Based on historic accounts, Edison’s Elephant explores the life and death of Topsy, the circus elephant who, after much abuse, retaliated against those who harmed her, and who was ultimately executed for her actions—then made the subject of Edison’s film Electrocuting the Elephant.

Casting for this play includes: Lynn Berg (How I Learned to Drive, Batz. Film: A Day’s Messing and The Clean Up), Kevin Orton (Sir Peter Hall’s Amadeus, Uncle Vanya), Wendy Merritt (My First Lady, Game Changers), Alyssa Simon (Film: They Will Outlive Us All, Off-B’way: Purchase, My First Lady), CJ Trentacosta (BergenPAC’s 42nd Street. Film: Life in a Box) John Thomas Waite (Broadway: Dracula, Amadeus. Off Broadway: The Fantasticks), Rik Walter (K Comma Joseph, “30 Rock,” “Law and Order”) and Sean Gough on piano.

Performances of this new play will be held on :
Thursday, Jan 16 at 7PM; Sunday, Jan 19 at 9PM; Friday, Jan 24 at 9PM; Saturday, Jan 25 at 1PM. Running time is 75 minutes.

Tickets are $15-$18 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.metropolitanplayhouse.org where more information on the festival is available.

Note: The Metropolitan Playhouse explores America’s theatrical heritage to illuminate contemporary American culture. The Playhouse produces early American plays, new plays drawn from American culture and history, and plays from around the world that resonate with the American canon

New York Theater Treats – Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013Halloween is being celebrated by the theater community in New York beginning this weekend. Here are some of the shows we spotted which feature a Halloween theme.

This Weekend

The Canal Room is hosting “Nightmare on Canal Street” which includes prizes for the best costume and a show by the 80’s Tribute Band Jessie’s Girl featuring “Rock of Ages” Tony Nominee Constantine Maroulis. Doors open at 10:00 p.m. There is also an 8:00 p.m. show with Constantine and Jessie’s Girl. Check the website www.canalroom.com for information and tickets.

Two other “Rock of Ages” alumni, MiG Ayesa and Angel Reed, will be a part of the Rock’nRock Debauchery show “Nightmares” at the Cutting Room. The show also features other Broadway dancers and singers for a 10:00 p.m. show presented by Studio7Arts which includes a Best Costume Contest. Visit the website for the Cutting Room, thecuttingroomnyc.com for information and tickets.

Halloween – Oct. 31, 2013

The Broadway show “Annie” invites show goers to celebrate Halloween at the Palace Theatre by coming to the performance in their Halloween costumes and get a trick-or-treating surprise. More information is available on the Annie website, anniethemusical.com.

Perhaps the most famous of all events in New York City for this holiday is the Village Halloween Parade. If you want to walk with the crowd, turn up in costume at Sixth Ave between Canal and Spring Streets, Oct 31 between 6:30–8:30 p.m.

Note: This article was originally published on my Newark Theater Examiner column.