REVIEW: ‘Friendship Bonds’ shorts reveal new perspectives at New Ohio Theatre’s New York City’s Indie Theatre Film Festival

The New Ohio Theatre presented its 7th annual NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival live and in person at New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street in NYC from February 16-19 and then virtually from February 20-26.  The New York City Indie Film Theatre Festival offered a variety of films from shorts to features on a wide range of topics and some of the film selections contain mature themes.   Click here for more information and to learn more about New Ohio Theatre.

Photo credit to New Ohio Theatre

The Sleepless Critic was knee deep in short films and tackled Dating Drama and Friendship Bonds shorts which focused on a variety of perspectives on relationships. Friendship Bonds explores the value and challenges of friendships in various circumstances.  Click here for the Dating Drama short film review. 

Shorts: Friendship Bonds ‘Andy and Kaliope’ Photo credit to New Ohio Theatre

Beautifully written and produced by Rachel Handler with stirring direction by Crystal Arnette and Catriona Rubenis-Stevens, Andy and Kaliope is a touching short film starring Jai Ram Srinivansan in a sweet portrayal as Andy, a foster child whose big imagination is in a war with his darkest fears.   Accompanied by Rachel Handler as warm and encouraging Jamie, Colin Buckingham as Cole, and an extraordinary gift, Andy must muster the courage to move forward.  It is a wonderful short film about the power of hope.

Shorts: Friendship Bonds Two Women on A Bridge Photo credit to New Ohio Theatre

Exceptionally directed, written, and edited by Tom Bean, Two Women on a Bridge is a thought provoking journey over the Williamsburg Bridge in May 2020 in a captivating display of black and white cinematography.  Starring Karen Maine and Suzanne Lenz to Michael Abiuso’s gentle score, Two Women on a Bridge delves into a fractured friendship and reflects on the overwhelming changes in the world while engaging and hypothetical popup endings instill light humor to some serious themes.

Shorts: Friendship Bonds ‘Eyeballs’ Photo credit to New Ohio Theatre

In a quirky but realistic zoom scenario, a group of students are brought together by a group school project in Eyeballs.  Written by Molly Powers Gallagher and starring as Nadine, Ola Pater as Cara, and Zack Palomo as Dev, the small zoom group convincingly conveys the nervousness and the hesitation to share ideas and connect.  Directed and edited by Robert Thaxton Stevenson, stay put for this cute comedy’s end credit scene.

Shorts: Friendship Bonds ‘Lindsay, Lindsey, Lyndsay’ Photo credit to New Ohio Theatre

Lindsay, Lindsey, Lyndsey is not an exaggeration, but a tale of three different Lindsays. Lindsay’s fabulous new house.  However, things are not quite as they seem.  Dan Kuan Peeples, Cameron Cronin, and Daphne Overbeck deal with jealously, unrequited love, and a renewed sense of belonging as they reminisce over old times.  Though some of the themes are a bit repetitive, this dramedy examines the complications of long term friendships and what keeps them going through it all.

Shorts: Friendship Bonds ‘The One They Wanted’ Photo credit to New Ohio Theatre

Directed by Catrina Rubenis-Stevens and written by Bryan Harlow, The One they Wanted is an absorbing and important short film about the challenges veterans face from within after they come home.  It is a beautiful and poignant look at a pair of brother and sister veterans who share in their internal battles as sister Gabi faces difficulty in daily activities.  Margo Serrano as Gabi embodies the veiled emptiness and depression over recent events while Writer Bryan Harlow also stars as Gabi’s nurturing brother Patrick as they attempt to find connection in their shared experiences.  It is a genuine and affective short film not to be missed.

Shorts: Friendship Bonds ‘Scene Study’ Photo credit New Ohio Theatre

Scene Study is a sly short film about mixed signals.  Written and directed with a few twists and turns by Trace Pope, Russell Sperberg as shy Cal and Joshua Ciccel as charismatic Ryan rehearse a scene study together when something unexpected happens.  Director Trace Pope does a remarkable job in this brief time frame to create a light, unpredictable drama that keeps the viewer guessing till the very end.

Remarkably directed by Bandar Albuliwi, Sakrə Fīs (Sacrifice) is a riveting Iranian story about Azaheh, impressively depicted by Tiffany Ariany and Johnny Ferdosi as playful and fascinating Aadan who find themselves in a suspenseful and life threatening situation during a football game.  Enhanced by Joe Aguirresarobe’s gripping cinematography and Nima Fakhrara’s affective  score, Ariany and Ferdosi’s natural and sweet chemistry and the dangers of daily life in present Iran is what makes this increasingly tense and unpredictable tale such an engrossing and heartrending journey.

Shorts: Friendship Bonds ‘The Bottom’ Photo credit New Ohio Theatre

Do the ends justify the means?  A man, at his most vulnerable, is being forced into a mysterious lake at gunpoint.  Hostility and tension reach its boiling point in this eerie confrontation between James Kautz as Jude and Alex Grubbs as John before the plot thickens.  With harrowing direction by Morgan O’Sullivan and James Kautz and fueled by Adam Bloch’s haunting sound effects, The Bottom is an dark, deeply psychological look at the affect of toxic relationships and may cause more than a chill.

Shorts: Friendship Bonds ‘We (Don’t) Know How to Live Photo credit New Ohio Theatre

On a lighter note, We (Don’t) Know How to Live is a comical and somewhat liberating look at life when reaching a milestone birthday.  Four friends unite for Claire’s 30th birthday party, but Claire receives some distressing news before she arrives which may ruin the whole thing.  Jayne McLendon as Betty, Hilary Wirachowsky as Claire, Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah as Darcy and Gordon Harper as Daniel all give off some Friends vibes as they reflect upon the direction of their lives.  Reflectively written by Jayne McLendon, Hilary Wirachowsky, and Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, the festive and inviting setting keeps the mood light as the group tackles relatable and age appropriate musings.

The New Ohio Theatre presented its 7th annual NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival live and in person at New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street in NYC from February 16-19 and then virtually from February 20-26.  Click here for more information and to learn more about New Ohio Theatre.

REVIEW:  ‘Freestyle Love Supreme’ an astounding good time

A roaring crowd greeted hip-hop comedic dynamos, Freestyle Love Supreme opening night at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston on Friday, March 18.  Packed with plenty of self-proclaimed Freestyle Love Supreme super fans, witnessing this unique, interactive, Tony award-winning production feels more like attending a rock concert.  The anticipation leading up to it was palpable and I immediately got the sense I was in for a truly remarkable experience.    

Before In The Heights or Hamilton, there was Lin Manuel Miranda’s Freestyle Love Supreme which continues live and in person at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston Street in Boston, MA through April 2.  The show is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.

L to R: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kaila Mullady AKA Kaiser Roze, Anthony Veneziale AKA Two Touch and Aneesa Folds AKA Young Nees Photo credit to Joan Marcus

No wonder Freestyle Love Supreme is beloved seeing that the show still features some of the founding cast members since the group started in 2004 and went on to be featured in the self-titled Hulu documentary and on Broadway.  Founding member Chris Sullivan AKA Shockwave wows with phenomenal hip hop beats (and seemingly impossible) sound effects, Aneesa Folds AKA Young Nees can perform powerful vocal gymnastics to anything that is thrown Young Nees’s way, and founding member Anthony Veneziale AKA Two Touch is a great and welcoming host.  Not only can every cast member deliver clever quips at the drop of a hat, but the show is friendly, interactive, and inclusive.

From L to R: Chris Sullivan AKA Shockwave, Richard Baskin Jr AKA Rich Medway, Anthony Veneziale AKA Two Touch and Aneesa Folds AKA Young Nees Photo credit to Joan Marcus.

Is Freestyle Love Supreme a big party?  A resounding yes, but every performance is unique so it is best enjoyed just knowing the basics.  Don’t feel pressure to participate, but the more enthusiasm and participation, the better the show.  Trust me.  Even in masks which Freestyle Love Supreme deems ‘consonant killers,’ the audience is invited to demonstrate what they are saying in creative and amusing ways.  It is fun, has heart, and there wasn’t a dull moment.

The show is tailor made for the locals boasting a slew of signature Boston and pop culture references.  Listen closely for the inventive and masterful delivery of these brilliant, high-speed rappers.  The possibilities are endless.  They also aren’t shy about what they say onstage.  This may sound a bit like Whose Line is it Anyway and Wayne Brady was part of the cast at one point, but accompanied by an intimate live band, Freestyle Love Supreme is just on another level.  For example, one audience member suggested the word, ‘Yankees’ and it was amazing to see how just many ways that one word was demonstrated led by the vocal styling of hilarious Jay C. Ellis AKA Jellis J.

The cast of ‘Freestyle Love Supreme’ Photo credit to Joan Marcus

Freestyle Love Supreme is hilarious, relatable and brilliantly fast-paced, but what makes the show most endearing was not so much the spectacle, but how much the cast does not hesitate to share their personal experiences as each show is shaped into a carefully tailored crowd pleaser. To think for the first time ever, the show’s full set was not delivered by opening night!  I can’t imagine having a better time.

Freestyle Love Supreme continues live and in person at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston, MA through April 2.  Click here for more information and tickets.

REVIEW: Lexus Broadway in Boston’s ‘On Your Feet’ a riveting, musical sensation

Leave it to music trailblazers Gloria and Emilio Estefan to make even folding laundry an exhilarating event.  A glimmering purple curtain provided just a hint of the radiance behind it as Lexus Broadway in Boston presented On Your Feet through Sunday, April 29 at the Boston Opera House at 529 Washington Street in Boston, Massachusetts.  Direct from Broadway and featuring five of the original members of Gloria Estefan’s band, Miami Sound Machine, On Your Feet is currently on a national tour.  Click here to find out where they will take the stage next.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Estefan and National Tour

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

From its first few powerful notes and flowing, multicolored club lights, On Your Feet is a party from the start.  After real life superstar couple, Gloria and Emilio Estefan playfully introduce the show, Cuban dancers emerge pounding drums as a full, onstage band, Miami Sound Machine, flood the stage and greet the audience.  Award-winning Sergio Trujillo’s thrilling choreography frames every aspect of this international, true story with flair and gusto.  It has an equal share of wild, quick, and intense music with complex, fancy foot work as well as poignant, inspiring moments within a few of Gloria Estefan’s famous ballads.   Gloria and Emilio Estefan are behind the Latin rhythms, touching original compositions, and the orchestrations of some of Gloria Estefan’s biggest hits.  This captivating production not only showcases Latin culture and a peek into its history, but Gloria and Emilio’s tenacious struggle to fit it into American music scene.

BIB On Your Feet National Tour of show

The company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

Costume designer Emilio Sosa skillfully replicated Gloria’s sparkling, iconic outfits featured in her memorable concert appearances, the Estefan’s worldwide travel, brought together the colorful styles of the 60s, 80s, and 90s from casual, colorful floral summer wear of Cuba and Miami to elegant, nightclub attire.  David Rockwell’s often romantic scenic design and dim lighting depict Miami’s palm tree silhouettes as well as the particular vibe in their worldwide travels.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Adriel and Company

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan, Adriel Flete and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

On Your Feet not only explores Gloria and Emilio’s budding romance and their mutual dreams, but their aspirations to pursue music as Latin performers.  What is most fascinating about the show is Mauricio Martinez as Emilio and Christine Prades as Gloria’s sheer dogged determination to thrive.  Martinez offers a charming, yet serious performance as Emilio, business minded and determined with smooth and angelic vocals.  He delivers a touching rendition of Gloria Estefan’s hit, Don’t Want to Lose You Now and original song written by Gloria Estefan’s daughter, If I Never Got To Tell You, a duet with Nancy Ticotin as Gloria Estefan’s mother, Gloria Fajardo.  Martinez is intense, charismatic, and always planning one step ahead.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Emilio and Company

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan, Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan, and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet.’

It is easy to see why Christine Prades as Gloria has such natural, crackling chemistry with Martinez.  Prades as Gloria complements Emilio’s drive through her vibrant, shy, and creative personality.  Curly haired and slim with inflections of Gloria Estefan’s distinctive voice, it is hard to imagine another person portraying the award-winning singer-songwriter.  She engages the audience with her glowing, infectious smile while skillfully handling the quick pacing and complex choreography of this production, often breaking out into song and dance on a dime.   From a ‘can’t-help-but-sing’ child doing chores in Cuba, portrayed sweetly by Ana-Sofia Rodriguez, to a timid woman taking the stage, Gloria’s charismatic stage presence in undeniable. Together, Gloria and Emilio are a force to be reckoned with in their uphill battle to become a music sensation.  The tender song, Here We Are is a particular highlight, showing off their sweet chemistry.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria and national tour

Nancy Ticotin as Gloria Fajardo and the company of the national tour of On Your Feet.

Nancy Ticotin delivers a powerful performance as Gloria Fajardo, Gloria’s mother.  Ticotin portrayed strong willed Fajardo with a passion and a powerful voice, especially portrayed with the flirtatious number Mi Tierra, sung in a Havana nightclub.  Ticotin is stubborn and hard on Gloria, but with a giving spirit toward Jason Martinez as Gloria’s loving war veteran father, Jose.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Kevin and Emilio

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan, Kevin Tellez, Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

On Your Feet not only quite literally encourages the audience to dance with some of Gloria’s most riveting songs such as 1-2-3, Rhythm is Gonna Get You, Conga and Dr. Beat, but also depicts the journey and sorrows of following a dream.  It has its share of humorous moments in Debra Cardona as Gloria’s charming grandmother, Consuelo, in her unwavering support of her granddaughter and delivering a few sharp one liners.  Carlos Carreras as Jeremy wows as an enthusiastic Gloria Estefan fan that can’t help but dance.  In such an uplifting, spectacular musical celebration, it is easy to understand why.

BIB On Your Feet Concert stage

The company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet.’

On Your Feet is currently on a national tour.  Click here to find out where they will take the stage next.  Click here for more of Lexus Broadway in Boston’s upcoming performances and follow them on Facebook.

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Beehive of Boston’s 10th annual ‘Erin Go Beehive’ features Irish comfort food, live Celtic music, and more

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and the Beehive is encouraging revelers to start celebrating a day early with their 10th annual celebration, ‘Erin Go Beehive’ on Thursday, March 16 at the Beehive of Boston at 5 p.m.  ‘Erin Go Beehive’ will last into the early morning hours and boasts a special menu of authentic Irish comfort food by Executive Chef Gregory Torrech, holiday festivities, cocktails, live music, and much more.  Click here for further details!

Hailing from Galway and residing in Boston, the Beehive once again welcomes Celtic singer-songstress Katie McD and other special guests.  Katie McD’s soothing Celtic vocals and insightful lyrics have captivated audiences from Boston Symphony Hall to the Guinness Fleadh and she’ll perform selections from her debut album, I Know You Know and her sophomore release, Angel Baby.

The Beehive of Boston, 541 Tremont Street in Boston, Massachusetts, will offer a wide range of festive entrées by Executive Chef Gregory Torrech including traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage, Fish and Ships with tartar sauce, and Shepherd’s Pie along with their usual fare. Sponsored by the Harpoon Brewery, pair the meal with a festive cocktail.

Listed as one of the “100 Jazz Clubs in the World” by Downbeat Magazine, The Beehive boasts nightly live entertainment featuring a dynamic array of music genres throughout the year with an extensive menu. Dinner reservations are highly recommended and there is no cover charge. Call 1-617-423-0069 or click here to reserve a table! Click here for more information and follow the Beehive on Facebook.