‘Awake and Sing’ at The Public Theater

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Now playing at New York’s Public Theater, “Awake and Sing” is considered to be the finest of Clifford Odets’ plays. It premiered on Broadway in 1935. This revival is being performed by The National Asian American Theatre Company under the leadership of Artistic Producing Director Mia Katigbak and Associate Producer Peter Kim. This marks their 25th Season in residency with the Public Theater. Stephen Brown-Fried directs an all-Asian American cast. Scenic design is by Anshuman Bhatia, lighting design by Gina Scherr, costume design by Alexae Visel, and sound design by Toby Jaguar Algya.

photo credit: William P. Steele
photo credit: William P. Steele
“Awake and Sing” is about a three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Great Depression who are in search of a good life. Living conditions are tight and cramped as three generations of the Berger family occupy a small apartment in the Bronx in 1933 – 1934. Bessie Berger is the over- bearing matriarch of the family who deep down is concerned with preserving her family but has a miserable temper that leads to severe consequences. Bessie has shown that she can help achieve great things for her family as she previously helped her brother Morty go through law school which has helped him become a successful business man that the family turns to in times of need. Bessie’s husband, Myron, appears to be weak as he is reconciled to allowing his wife to run the family and the household in her rough shot manner. However, in some ways, he is the emotional heart of the family. Daughter Hennie Berger wants more out of life but when an unexpected pregnancy happens, she follows her mother’s instructions and marries hard working and diligent Sam Feinschneber and settles for a life of mediocrity. Other members of the household are Jacob, the grandfather who loves to listen to his Caruso records, son Ralph who works hard but dreams of more, and Moe, a decorated veteran from World War I who is not content to live a conventional life and is wildly attracted to Hennie. The play’s action takes place over a one year period which allows character development to surface and leads to an unexpected ending.

Be prepared to be won over by the acting in this play. The very fine cast includes Mia Katigbak who recreates her OBIE Award-winning role as the matriarch Bessie and is amazing to see in this play. Additional cast includes Sanjit De Silva, Mel Duane Gionson, Teresa Avia Lim, James Saito, Jon Norman Schneider, David Shih, Alok Tewari, and Henry Yuk.

Although it is set in 1933, the issues are still seen today thus making it a very relevant piece of work for new generations who are experiencing hard times both from the economy and from being immigrants.

More photos from the show can be seen on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LetsGoToTheTheater?ref=tn_tnmn

“Awake and Sing” is playing a limited engagement in The Public’s Shiva Theater (425 Lafayette Street). It will run through Sunday, August 2, 2015. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Public Theater’s website at http://publictheater.org.

Dinner Before the Show

Thanks to Olivia Clement who wrote this article on Playbill.com, I ate dinner at Dorado Tacos & Quesadillas. Located at 28 East 12th Street, Dorado is very casual with a small seating area. You give your order at counter and they bring it to you when it is ready.

Photo by Karen Nowosad
Photo by Karen Nowosad

I started with an order of chips, guacamole, and salsa which would easily feed two people. The chips were perfectly baked, the salsa was nicely seasoned, and the guacamole was to die for. I also ordered a Baja Original Taco (beer battered Atlantic whitefish with cabbage, crema, pickled onions, and salsa fresca) and a Grilled Fish (grilled mahi mahi with cabbage, crema, tomatillo & avocado salsa). The tacos are on small soft corn tortillas and they were delicious. That day, the special taco was a grilled salmon which I would like to have tried, but honestly, I was completely filled after eating what I described above. My bill was $13 and change. Not bad for a dinner in New York City!

‘Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging’ with Pokes and Jokes

I enjoyed the chance to see “Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging” as it celebrated its official opening at the Davenport Theatre on Sunday, May 4. Created and written by Gerard Alessandrini, “Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging” is the newest version of the Forbidden shows which looks at both the current shows playing on Broadway as well as the trends that are influencing it. Think of a show that is “Saturday Night Live” styled satire and humor and you have a picture of what to expect.

The Forbidden Broadway shows had their beginnings in 1982 when Mr. Alessandrini created the first edition. The show began at West 72nd Street’s Palsson’s Supper Club where it ran for over six years. Seeing the need for a larger venue, the show relocated to Theatre East where it ran until 1994. It ran at the Triad until 1997 and then a series of theaters until it landed at the 47th Street Theatre where it has been since 2005. The show has been on hiatus but now is back at the recently renovated Davenport Theatre on W. 45th Street.

“Forbidden Broadway” has won numerous awards throughout its history including a 2006 Tony Honor, Drama Critics’ Circle, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Lucille Lortel Awards. It should also be noted that Broadway stars often stop by to laugh at themselves and enjoy the humorous presentations.

This newly updated version is directed by Phillip George and Mr. Alessandrini with musical direction by David Caldwell. Sets are by Megan K. Halpern, lighting by Mark T.Simpson, costumes by Dustin Cross and Philip Heckman, sound by Matt Kraus and wigs by Bobbie Cliffton Zlotnick. It includes a look at shows such as Pippin, Matilda, Cinderella, Bridges of Madison County, Rocky, Aladdin, Les Miserables, Bullets Over Broadway, Cabaret, Kinky Boots, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and others.

A parody on 'Aladdin' which also brings out Mary Poppins as the cast sings about Disney shows.
A parody on ‘Aladdin’ which also brings out Mary Poppins as the cast sings about Disney shows.

How do you best describe what happens? Well picture the show “Les Miserables” and now picture the most outstanding characteristics of some of the characters singing their parts but with words specially adapted to poke some fun at their script. Taking it a step further, three of the cast came out with props resembling yokes slung over of their heads resting on their shoulders as they lamented the removal of the famous turntable in the newest edition of the show which opened this spring on Broadway. They also sang about how much technology is used in the show as they displayed pictures on transparencies via an overhead projector on a screen onstage. This was a funny dig but one could also find a bit of a message about the topic of technology being used in shows nowadays. So the audience gets laughing but also thinking too.

The cast is fabulous as they sing, dance, and change their costumes and wigs numerous times. Featured are Carter Calvert, Scott Richard Foster, Mia Gentile and Marcus Stevens, with David Caldwell on piano. Their ability to transform their looks and characterizations in an instant is remarkable to see and enjoy.

A funny take-off on 'The Sound of Music' that was presented on NBC this fall. Here the satire includes Carrie "Underwhelming" and the "Tony winning soprano" Audra.
A funny take-off on ‘The Sound of Music’ that was presented on NBC this fall. Here the satire includes Carrie “Underwhelming” and the “Tony winning soprano” Audra.

Theater goers who enjoy good laughs, good singing and good music will enjoy this show. You don’t have to be an expert on all the shows portrayed; there are enough funny things that go on to keep them entertained. However, if you are a regular Broadway theater goer, you will have a tough time containing yourself as the jokes and pokes come fast and furious.

“Forbidden Broadway” can be seen at the Davenport Theatre at 354 West 45th Street in New York City on Mondays and Tuesdays at 7:00pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 7:00pm, with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm. For more information about tickets, check the show’s website, www.forbiddenbroadway.com or contact Telecharge.

Note: Post is based on an article I wrote on Examiner.com.

Wanted: ‘New York Love Stories’

Here’s a unique opportunity for anyone who has a story to tell about something special connected with New York City. Playwrights Horizons is looking for “New York Love Stories.”  They will be curating a collection of great NYC love stories and images that will be displayed in a gallery on their website, social media and maybe even in their Mainstage Theater lobby that will run in conjunction with their next upcoming production called Fly By Night.

The submissions should be something that you want to share that is connected to NYC. The story needs to be 300 or words or less and an image (digital if available) to accompany it. You can also send an image and information on where and when the image was taken. Specifically, be sure to let them know the role New York City played in your image/story such as City establishments, landmarks, modes of transportation: in other words, what makes your story a New York story?

Submission will be accepted until Friday, May 16 at 5:00 p.m. Go to the Playwrights Horizons website at this link for more information and the form.

About the next show playing at Playwrights Horizons:

Fly By Night is by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock. It is described as “a tale of love, hope, and sandwiches set against the backdrop of the northeast blackout of 1965.”