‘Summer Shorts 2017’ Begins July 21 at 59E59 Theaters

59E59 Theaters hosts Throughline Artists (J.J. Kandel, Producing Artistic Director) with SUMMER SHORTS 2017. This annual festival of six short plays tailor-made for summer viewing is now celebrating its 11th season. SUMMER SHORTS 2017 begins on Friday, July 21 and runs through Saturday, September 2. 

SUMMER SHORTS pairs top NYC playwrights with some of today’s best directing and acting talents. Divided into two series, SUMMER SHORTS premieres six one-act plays, presented as two separate evenings of three each. The two-series run in rotating repertory.

SUMMER SHORTS 2017 features new one-act plays from Chris Cragin-Day, Lindsey Kraft & Andrew Leeds, Neil LaBute, Graham Moore, Melissa Ross, and Alan Zweibel. Casting will be announced in the coming weeks.

SUMMER SHORTS SERIES A:

  • PLAYING GOD by Alan Zweibel, directed by Maria Mileaf
    Cast TBA  –  Unhappy that a brazen doctor changed the due date of a pregnant woman’s baby because he’s going on vacation, God decides to pay him a visit to put him in his place.

 

  • JACK by Melissa Ross, directed by Mimi O’Donnell
    Cast TBA  –  Maggie and George and Jack have been inseparable best friends since college. But when Maggie and George divorce, Jack is the only thing holding them together. Until suddenly he isn’t… A play about growing up, growing apart, and letting go of your first love.

 

  • ACOLYTE by Graham Moore, directed by Alexander Dinelaris
    Cast TBA  –  A young, married couple who are devotees of Ayn Rand find themselves in over their heads when one of Rand’s weekly Saturday night discourses on philosophy takes a surprisingly personal turn.

 

SUMMER SHORTS SERIES B:

  • BREAK POINT written and directed by Neil LaBute
    Cast TBA  –  Two world-class tennis players meet on the eve of their semi-final match at the French Open. They discuss their shared histories, their very different paths to success and the ticking clock that hangs over both of their respective futures. Is this a friendly meeting? An elusive game of cat-and-mouse psychological strategy? Or is there something even darker at work here? A funny yet sobering take on masculinity, competition, sportsmanship and the great American drive to succeed.

 

  • A WOMAN by Chris Cragin-Day, directed by Kel Haney
    Cast TBA  –  For the past ten years, every time her church passed around the anonymous elder nomination cards, Kim simply wrote “A Woman.” However, her NYC intellectual denomination does not allow women deacons. This year, the church’s new pastor, Cliff, calls her bluff.

 

  • WEDDING BASH by Lindsey Kraft & Andrew Leeds, directed by J.J. Kandel
    Cast TBA  –  A newly married couple invites their two friends over for a post wedding rehash. Things get tense when it becomes clear that maybe some of the guests didn’t think it was the best wedding ever.

Performances are at 59E59 Theaters at 59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues. Single tickets are $25 ($17.50 for 59E59 Members). A Pair of Shorts (a ticket package to both Series A & B, available through August 16) is $45 ($40 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org.

‘The Government Inspector’ Delivers Laughs Galore

Mary Testa, Michael McGrath, Michael Urie, and Talene Monahon in ‘The Government Inspector’ Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Update:

Since publishing this article, an extension and move for this show were announced. The Government Inspector will complete its run at the Duke Theater on June 24, 2017. It will reopen on July 5 and run through August 20th at New World Stages. To purchase tickets for performances at New World Stages, visit Telecharge.com, call (212) 239-6200, or visit the New World Stages box office (daily, after 1pm). 

A Show Well Worth Going to See

People will ask me “what’s a funny show to go to see?” If that’s what you’re looking for, I recommend that you head over to The Duke Theater on 42nd Street and see The Government Inspector. Presented by Red Bull Theater, this hilarious show features an outstanding company of actors who play out a story written over 180 years ago. The setting is in old world Russia when the Tsar was still in charge. However, take out that information and you might think you are in present day. Yes, issues that haunted government back then are pretty universal and so they are also seen today.

Originally written by Nikolai Gogol, The Government Inspector was brought to the attention of the Tsar.  He liked it so much that he requested the first theatrical production of the play in 1836. Modern day writer Jeffery Hatcher adapted the play in 2008 and this is the version in use for the Red Bull production. Funny dialog brings the story to life. The wacky characters take center stage which brings out the conflict. All combined, this play shines with a humorous tone.

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Directed by the Red Bull Theater’s Artistic Director, Jesse Berger, The Government Inspector centers around a town in the “middle of nowhere” someplace in old world Russia. For the most part, it is a poor existence that most of the people live with the exception of the Mayor and his family. No one seems very concerned about their station in life. They seem to accept it and live their lives.

The Postmaster reads everyone’s mail making him the most current source of news. He has discovered that a government official is being sent out to their town to investigate something. He informs the Mayor and his staff and also adds that the official is traveling incognito and has already been in the town for awhile. The Mayor makes major attempts to hide problems that are in the town such as a hospital that was built with room and doorways too small. So it is converted into a children’s hospital complete with brand new patients placed there for show.

All eyes turn to Ivan who has been staying in a less then adequate rooming house with his servant, Osip. He is wined, dined, bribed, and put up on a pedastal all in an attempt to win him over. As the mistaken identity continues, Ivan realizes he has landed in a sweet deal and he rolls right along with it.

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Finally, the identity of the inspector is disclosed which provides a surprising ending. But along the way, the cast, led by Michael Urie as Ivan, provides many laughs. Michael McGrath plays the Mayor with Mary Testa as his wife and Talene Monahon in the role of his daughter.  Other parts are played by Arnie Burton, Stephen DeRosa, Ryan Garbayo, Kelly Hutchinson, David Manis, Ben Mehl, , Luis Moreno, James Rana, Mary Lou Rosato, Tom Alan Robbins, and Ryan Garbayo.

About the Show:

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with one intermission

Location: The Duke Theater on 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, NYC

Performances: This show will play until June 24, 2017 and then move to New World Stages. See information in Update above.

Contact for Info and Tickets: Red Bull Theater website

Review: Mint Theater’s ‘The ‘Lucky One’ Looks at Sibling Rivalry and Favoritism

The name A.A. Milne usually brings thoughts about the teddy bear, Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne wrote a series of stories about the lovable bear as well as poems that have become part of his legacy. However, look deeper into his biography see his success early on as a playwright.  A play he wrote called The Lucky One was originally produced in 1922. It became Milne’s sixth Broadway production in less than two years. The first New York revival of this play is on the Mint Theater Company stage now through June 25, 2017. It focuses on sibling rivalry as it shows parents who favor one child over the other. The reason they do it is not really clear and it does not matter because the damage is done.

Deanna Lorette (l) Wynn Harmon (r) as the parents of the brothers Photograph:© 2017 Richard Termine
PHOTO CREDIT – Richard Termine

The Lucky One is the story of two brothers, Gerald and Bob. Brought up by the same parents, in the same home, each one achieves different levels of success and happiness in life.  Each of them is thought of differently by their family. Clearly much of the family’s attitude influenced the lives they now lead.

Initially, the lucky one appears to be Gerald. He is highly revered by all who know him, especially his parents. His ability to talk pleasingly with people has moved him nicely through life. He now has an important job and a fiancé, Pamela, who is well liked by the family. Even though she is engaged to Gerald, Pamela was originally friends with Bob and the two appear to be quite close. Despite this friendship, the engagement with Gerald is on and his future looks very rosy.

Bob is the lesser regarded of the two brothers. The parents and others say, “poor Bob” quite often. Poor Bob gets into trouble on his job and goes to brother Gerald for help. Gerald dismisses it saying it will eventually work out. Bob ends up serving jail time. However, when Bob reappears at the family home after a supposed early release with Pamela, they have a surprise for Gerald. After a strong verbal exchange between the brothers, one now wonders really, who is the “lucky one?”

Well-designed sets and costumes add to the high value of this production. Directed by Jesse Marchese, this play uses precise and well developed dialog that allows the action to unfold easily.  However, the real power of this show is the acting by an amazing company.

Robert David Grant plays Gerald. He portrays the character as a successful, supposedly well-adjusted man. He keeps a plastered smile on his face at all times never allowing anyone to see what is really inside of him. Ari Brand plays the other brother, Bob. As much as Gerald grins, Bob frowns. He painfully aware of his lower status in the family until a surprising friendship brings him the confidence to break out. Both Grant and Brand turn in superb acting with their roles especially in a final scene between them when each finally tells the other what they have always held back saying.

Paton Ashbrook gives a unique slant to the character Pamela as she finds herself involved in different ways with each of the two brothers. Wynn Harmon and Deanna Lorette play the parents, Sir and Lady Farringdon. Their work as a couple truly demonstrates the distance they have with Bob and their over inflated view of Gerald. Other members of the cast include Andrew Fallaize, Michael Frederic, Cynthia Harris, Peggy J. Scott and Mia Hutchinson-Shaw.

About the Show:

Running Time: One Hour 50 minutes with one intermission
Location: Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, 412 West 42nd Street, New York City
Performances: Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. with matinees Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m. Special Wednesday Matinees on May 17th and May 31st at 2 pm. Shows run though June 25, 2107.
Contact for Info and Tickets: Purchase tickets online at Telecharge.com, by phone at 212-239-6200 or in person at the Theatre Row Box Office. For more information, visit the Mint Theatre website.
Suggested Audience: Appropriate for all ages.