Monday, May 31, 2010

Day Three: Leszek Mozdzer and Proserpina wow our critics

Impressive performances

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 3:33 PM

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Not many shows premiered on Sunday night, but two that did impressed our reviewers.

In Proserpina, Heather Buck gave a tour-de-force vocal performance, garnering big praise from our critic Fernando Rivas:

Like this contemporary composer's music, her artistry fulfills us in unexpected and unforeseen ways. She brings an intense lyrical sensuality to this role that might otherwise come off as a sterile exercise in atonal vocalise. It is evident that Buck has internalized this piece and has become one with it. Her interpretation releases this opera from the realm of pure abstraction.

Over at the Simons Center Recital Hall last night, T. Ballard Lesemann was blown away by the cool noise made by pianist Leszek Mozdzer, who startled and amazed audiences with astounding technique.

Mozdzer's incredible technique dazzled the sold-out room from the start — especially the blazing dexterity of his right hand as he flailed and rolled through complicated runs and trills. His most percussive embellishments resembled the single-stroke roll of an orchestral mallet percussionist or jazz vibes man. He seemed like a master musician in a big hurry, blasting through his first four pieces at high speed, pausing only briefly between them. His melodic phrasing and whimsical flourishes were passionate and beautifully executed. Even his occasionally dissonant, Monk-like off-notes accented things nicely.

Read the full review here, or just go ahead and buy your tickets. He's got two performances tonight at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. and two tomorrow night. It's a show you won't want to miss if you're a fan of new music.

We've also got reviews posted of yesterday's Spoleto Festival Orchestra Intermezzo performance, the plays Moments of Joy, My Name Is Ruth, and A Shaker's Path, the CBT's Motown Mania, and Nailor Proveta Azevedo.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Village Playhouse has some standout Piccolo shows

Plenty of goodness at Piccolo this year

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Sun, May 30, 2010 at 12:49 PM

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The reviews are in, and it looks like Piccolo Spoleto is charming the pants off our critics. Of particular note are the shows at Village Playhouse where they've brought back Shipwrecked, a play that our reviewer Signe Pike found to be engaging, unique, whimsical, and inventive.

One really shouldn't toss such weighty words around, but after attending the opening performance of Shipwrecked: An Entertainment, no other words came to mind.

Also playing at the Mt. Pleasant theatre is [title of show], a meta-musical that Greg Hambrick found to be hilarious and clever, particularly for musical theatre fans like himself.

Showmos and theatre queens take note, this is your kind of musical. Thomas and Archer play the sexuality of the two creators very matter-of-fact, but there are some lines you're destined to recognize from personal experience, like, "Drag queens are fabulous at night, but in the day? Not so much."

Elsewhere, our critics had a great time at The Reckoning, were impressed by David Lee Nelson's funny but poignant one-man show, and enjoyed the campiness of Devil Boys from Beyond at the Footlight Players Theatre.

Click here for a full rundown of recent reviews, and you'll find out that there are some duds at this year's festival too.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our critic goes bananas for Gallim Dance I Can See Myself in Your Pupil

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Sat, May 29, 2010 at 11:55 AM

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When Gervase Caycedo filed her review of I Can See Myself in Your Pupil this morning, she couldn't contain her enthusiasm for the dance company's performance:

Show was awesome.
A++++++++++

Note: I DO understand we don't allot that many pluses to any show. I was just showing my enthusiasm, that's all.

Elsewhere, our critics found Geoff Nuttall's Chamber Music debut to be supremely satisfying (A), and The Gate Theater's Present Laughter to be an endearing drawing room farce (another A).

Not surprisingly, Spoleto garnered the most As, while the shows at its little sister Piccolo Festival were also well received, getting a handful of B's & C's for their worthwhile efforts.

Click here for a list of our latest reviews, and let us know what you thought of what you've seen so far this weekend.

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The reviews are coming in

On the first night of Spoleto....

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Sat, May 29, 2010 at 8:07 AM

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We sent our teams of reviewers out to soak up the first night of Spoleto on Friday, and their reviews are starting to roll in this morning.

So far, we've got a review posted of Les Ballets Trockadero (a.k.a. Les Trocks). Kinsey Giddick had the privilege of sitting near dancer Robert Carter's enthusiastic and very proud mama:;

As he made his entrance for his pièce de résistance, the principal dancer in Paquita, the audience broke out into applause and Ms. Carter could contain herself no longer. Whoops and cheers echoed behind my seat. Uncontainable giggles emerged from her row. Clapping in sync with each rotation of Carter's impressive pirouette's began with her lead. There was not a person in that audience more thrilled to be there than that woman and given the overwhelmingly jovial atmosphere, that's saying a lot.

Read her full review here.

Susan Cohen stopped by Theatre 99 for a Piccolo Fringe infusion and found Frankenmatt sweatin' through a fun set about Godzilla and vitamin supplement pyramid schemes. (It's improv, so don't worry. We're not giving anything away.)

Some of the best moments were when either Frank or Matt was left onstage alone and left to develop the character they created for just a little bit longer. Watching Craig dressing a cute animal in a Ranger Rick inspired outfit or Caeti admiring his nails were my favorite jokes of the night.

See all of the latest reviews here

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Matt and Ben review: D, This celeb-u-spoof of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck fails to splatter

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Sat, May 31, 2008 at 9:09 AM

These guys are probably glad this review hasn't yet hit the site. I'm posting it here for now.

Matt and Ben

Imitation is the highest form of dullness

In 1995 Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were little known actors. By 1997, after they won Academy Awards for Good Will Hunting, they fell drunk on media attention. Soon enough their hangover arrived — lousy movie choices and misbehavior on Affleck’s part, too much hearty ambition and iconoclasm for Damon — and they grew vulnerable to satire.

When it premiered Off-Broadway in 2003, the script for Matt and Ben — thanks mainly to Affleck’s much scrutinized romance with Jennifer Lopez — had the wet dazzle and slow pomp of celebrity folly. Five years later, it retains as much juicy relevance as an old sewer-drowned copy of Us Weekly.

The play chronicles a memorable afternoon in Affleck’s dingy apartment. Affleck and Damon are busy adapting a screenplay of Catcher in the Rye. Things move slowly, no thanks to Affleck’s dim-witted attention span and Damon’s overzealous desire for perfection, when a magic script falls from the sky … i.e. Good Will Hunting.

The script’s arrival charts a parlous course for these childhood friends, one that exposes their different personalities and challenges their friendship.

The twist arrives as two females — instead of men — portray Affleck and Damon. Experimental and ambitious playwrights use liberty with whom and how they execute their stories. In the case of Matt and Ben, casting two women merely effeminates the characters to the point of ridiculousness. Affleck and Damon bicker like two college girls stuck inside on a rainy afternoon. They pull embarrassing memories from their closets and treat the audience to flashbacks that reenact their lifelong relationship.

Actresses Christina Rhodes and Andrea K. McGinn lend their characters as much life as they can muster. But their performances are flat, transparent, and wearisome. But then again, they are right on the money depicting their characters. I don’t blame them for this play’s failure, as they really try to make Matt and Ben interesting. Rather, I blame the script. This play is like a lame Saturday Night Live movie.

Matt and Ben in not without value: it provides two young actresses a springboard from which they can leap. It also examines a power struggle between friends, their quick flight towards stardom and omniscient descent.

The play often steps outside of itself. It addresses the audience and sometimes speaks from behind the stage’s wings. The two actresses double as J.D Salinger and Gwyneth Paltrow, they perform a funny rendition of an intense scene from Good Will Hunting.

At the beginning of the play Affleck recites, “Adaptation is the highest form of flattery.”

This, of course, is a spoof on Matt and Ben in itself, as the true adage, as Damon explains, goes, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”

Inspiration propelled Good Will Hunting, as well as earlier versions of Matt and Ben.

This production lacks imagination, yet is full of dull adaptation. It also shows how sharp you’ve got to be if you want to stay funny. —Kevin Murphy

Matt and Ben • May 29, June 4 at 9 p.m. • 1 hour 15 min. • $15 • American Theater, 446 King St. • (888) 374-2656

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