Charlie Parker’s Yardbird

The jazz infused music (conducted by Kelly Kuo) was varied, brassy and nicely conveyed the mood of the piece. Brownlee effectively presented the contradictory side of the troubled genius. We see how heroin destroyed Bird that led to his death at age 35. Much of the best arias in the piece came as the women led a long and heartfelt tribute to the fallen composer. This 90 minute chamber opera is a rare treat about a forgotten jazz giant whom youngsters probably don’t know.

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For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play)

Playwright Gina Femia’s For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play) focuses on the Brooklyn Scallywags, an amateur roller derby team peopled by a diverse cast of dedicated players whose passion for the game is immense. We meet the players who consist of a married player to a law student to a tattoo artist and other athletic women. This play features a fresh look at contemporary queer woman who are attracted to roller derby. Set in the locker room, For the Love of (or, The Roller Derby Play) shows the manic energy and personal dynamics that forms a strange bond that creates a team.

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Destiny of Desire

The production is quite theatrically interesting garnering loads of satire and raw humor. Even the set changes feature ballet-styled jumps and twirls by cast members including the older men. At key plot twists, acters breakout in song and sometimes the entire cast sings and dances a ‘show-stopper in Spanish. the plot twists are familiar from well-known musicals and films. This melodramatic structure has a Brechtian feel but with a humorous edge including actors stepping up to a microphone to make social/political factual comments and statistics.

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The Hard Problem

So my analysis will be superficial since the play was difficult to comprehend. Hilary (Cross) is a young psychologist who works at the prestigious Krohl Institute for Brain Science. She believes in God and altruism that gets her to debate with her associate Spike. She ends up fighting the burden of her regrets as her troubling issues in her research cause he problems. Questions like where does biology end and personhood begin? Is there only matter? What is consciousness? Will the computer someday answer all psychological questions? Hilary’s “hard problem’ put her at odds with her colleagues; she prays for a solution.

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The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Most noticeable of the effects in the production, however, are the red clown noses that adorn every character. These are, at once, richly and effectively symbolic, and symptomatic of the unrelenting comedic style that robs the production of its underlying “horror.” The world to which these red noses introduce us is one in which everyone is, to some conscious degree, implicated in the corruption. When a character dies, his or her red nose is torn from their face and they are (as I interpret it) forced to breathe the noxious, corrupt, “fishy” odor that pervades this world—a reality they had denied; indeed, it may be assumed that it is of this that they finally die. In the production’s most poignant moment, Ui and his henchmen remove their red noses and their caricature-esque gestures fall away to reveal the real, dimensional criminals that they are. This moment has a visceral quality to it, as if one awoke from a circus dream to find it were only a gaudy gild on a harrowing reality.

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10 out of 12

Once seated, we continue to watch the crew getting setting up for the play. Only when we hear voices on the headset announcing the start of the tech rehearsal do we realize that the show we came to see is actually starting. We hear constant chatter over our headsets that is idle chatter with techies desiring snacks, gossiping and telling stories to pass the time while the slow process of getting the set located, the props in place plus to lighting and sound cues organized. There are many lag-time delays while the details get are polished and corrections made. Once the actors do some scenes, they need to become familiar with the blocking. That can be difficult since actor’s foibles and even script disagreements surface complicate things.

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The Most Happy Fella

Fella is about love and forgiveness as it plays out in spirited celebrations featuring rich vocals from Roberts, Hernandez and Singleton.The songs offer a fine blend of styles from light comic to lush opera to haunting love songs. Fred Anzevino’s efficient use of the stage at No Exit Cafe contains a polish presentation with energetic choreography, cute comedic bits and stirring emotions come through smartly and flawlessly. Jeremy Ramey’s piano, violin, viola and cello orchestra produced a lush sound.

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The Wiz

Under the skilled theatrical craftsmanship of director Lil-Anne Brown and choreographer Breon Arzell, Kokandy production’s non-Equity production of The Wiz is a fun musical. It is filled with heart and soul as the African-American urbanized retelling of the Oz story is a funky, campy and heartfelt production. Led by the strong voiced and charming Dorothy (Sydney Charles), this adventure is a dance heavy trip to the Emerald City. Steeped in Black urban culture, this winning production is a humorously manic trip.

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The Source

The principle problem with McKinley’s story is that his story is not a story: it’s a situation. The real story—that is, the drama—never manifests because nothing happens: no one actually acts. They wait and talk and debate and talk and fret but never do anything of consequence. What conflict there is—and a middling conflict at that—is entirely between the two journalists, their rather irritating personalities, and their ethical ideas. That’s the “story”—and it’s boring.

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