Since the pandemic started, loneliness has increased exponentially. People have been scrambling to find a fulfilling form of communication since quarantine took effect in 2020 and any miscommunication or absence of a loved one quickly became fear and worry of their well being. Even today, people are still struggling with how best to communicate and see each other in person without the fear of illness. For Aimee and Victoria at the start of the pandemic, communication had to come more from the heart than from the head as they celebrate their anniversary apart.
Directed aptly by Chrystee Pharris and written by Hannah Harmison and Mikail Chowdhury, Aimee Victoria is a short film created entirely remotely during the pandemic in 2020. The film is approximately 10 minutes long. Click here for more information and how to view this film.
Aimee Victoria explores how Natasha Ofili as Aimee and Stephanie Nogueras as Victoria, a deaf couple, cope with being separated by the pandemic on their first anniversary. As many have difficulty communicating their feelings under the best of circumstances, Aimee and Victoria tackle this obstacle in a sweet depiction of love beyond boundaries.
Through the film’s isolating setting and circumstances, Pharris navigates panic, depression, and struggle in these characters as they readjust to this new way of living. For example, Aimee struggles just to get out of bed at a loss for what is next as so many have felt in the past couple of years.
Aimee Victoria transcends not only the journey of these two people, but the significance of love beyond any obstacles and expressing to anyone, whether friend, family, or significant other, what is truly important. Finding a way to carry that love with them no matter where they are.
Aimee Victoria is available now on streaming platforms and in theatres. Click here for more information on how to view this short film.
A spontaneous escape, an evil queen, finding inspiration and discovering super strength is just the tip of the iceberg for New York City’s Indie Theatre Film Festival’s Coming of Age Shorts Screening. These shorts explore overcoming troubles, fears, and heartache in remarkable ways including a sense of humor as demonstrated in Dianne Diep’s Cloud Gazing. Peals of laughter can remedy almost any situation.
The New York City Indie Theatre Film Festival continues streaming through Sunday, February 20. Click here for more information and how to stream a variety of dynamic films including animation and documentary works.
In the face of chaos, there is strength. Overcoming is such a prevalent theme in these coming of age shorts and none quite faces it like Jonah Beres as Sam Wheeler in Balloon, a boy who is relentlessly bullied at school. Who can Sam really turn to? Beres’s sympathetic eyes and careful demeanor resemble a young Dane DeHaan. DeHaan has a knack for portraying characters with pent up emotion just on the brink of letting go. Directors Jeremy Merrifield and Dave Testa capture a captivating burst of emotions and the awkwardness of childhood through nature, at home, and symbolically in a popping balloon.
Directed and produced by Dianne Diep, Cloud Gazing is a lighthearted take upon a common rite of passage in New York City. It is the epitome of looking at the bright side as Dianne Diep as Mia makes the best of her latest apartment in the Big City. The silly and imaginative dialogue, cinematography, and the peals of laughter from Shannon Whelan as Dylan and Dianne Diep as Mia could leave the most serious heart uplifted. Click here for more on Cloud Gazing and Dianne Diep can also be seen in upcoming Mia: Unraveling Series.
Profound life advice is hard to come by. For example, ‘Life is better than a movie…buy cookies and cream’ is a notable and memorable quote from Tom’s Bench. Directed by Richard H. Pluim, it’s a heartwarming short film taking place on a special Astoria Park bench in New York. Most notable is the soothing and fitting Simon and Garfunkel-style closing song Come and Go by the Timber Choir.
Starting a new day holds new meaning for an unhappy wife in Expectations directed by Vic Dominguez. It is also directed, written, and starring Kaitlin Gould. This short would benefit with a longer screen time because Gould’s actions only bring up more questions.
Overcoming has several meanings for a discouraged artist longing for inspiration and she may find it in a most unconventional way in You and I written directed and produced by Yiqing Zhao. It is a quirky, colorful, and sweet film about overcoming doubt for the dream in your heart.
To the sounds of Gymnopedie No 1, Fair is a stinging, deeply relatable, and inventive short film infusing fairy tale with stark reality as a woman, portrayed by Marissa Molnar, must overcome her current circumstances. It is a clever and fascinating piece that has moments of charm and humor in its brief time frame.
School life isn’t easy for Angella Cao as Jessa in Pippi, a nod to the famous children’s book character, Pippi Longstocking. Most notable is the moving and poignant interactions between the adorable Cao and Karoline Xu as her mom.
A woman is on a mysterious voyage in Goat. This short film has beautiful cinematography and its share of odd humor. Ben Lewis as Simon is an especially intriguing character.
The New York City Indie Theatre Film Festival continues streaming through Sunday, February 20. Click here for more information and how to stream a variety of films.
College students Mary Hewitt (Andie Lerner) and Harold Kruger (Eric Bermudez) decide to meet upstairs at a house party in a small town in Pennsylvania. At first glance one can form a few assumptions about this scenario, but Get it Together’s clever dialogue and building tension only keeps the viewer guessing on what could possibly be next in its approximately 45 minute timeframe.
Written and directed by Michael Quinn, Get it Together is a drama film in the New York City Indie Theatre Film Festival (NYCITFF) which continues streaming online through Sunday, February 20. This film contains some mature themes. Click here for more information and how to get access to a wide range of short and full length films in a variety of genres.
From having fun to sharing secrets to betrayal to creepy and back again, Mary and Harold have a bit of a history. Deep thinking Scarlett and secretive Horan have peculiar and evolving chemistry and it is interesting to see the way the tone of the film changes at the drop of a hat.
The push and pull of the dialogue constantly ambushes expectations. Are these two people adversaries, acquaintances, friends, lovers? Each carefully selected line of dialogue will leave the viewer constantly guessing about what these two mean to each other. It is an encounter that will possibly simmer in your mind long after the film is over.
Get it Together, part of the New York City Indie Theatre Film Festival (NYCTIFF) continues streaming online through Sunday, February 20. Click here for more information and how to get access to a wide range of short and full length films in a variety of genres.
Though at times he has traveled under the radar from stage to screen aside from his turn as our friendly neighborhood Spiderman, Andrew Garfield has most deservedly been on the map lately. Though he was sadly overlooked by the Academy as the emotional center of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s 2010 acclaimed drama, The Social Network, Garfield has finally scored an Academy Award-nomination for the musical hit,tick tick…BOOM!available on Netflix. Garfield has a knack for dynamic performances and though everyone is looking at Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Garfield also brought a wealth of humor, quirkiness, and manipulative prowess to his portrayal of TV Evangelist Jim Bakker.
Once an Off-Broadway play, tick, tick…BOOM’s film adaptation is available now on Netflix and directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film is currently Oscar-nominated for Best Actor for Andrew Garfield and Best Film Editing and Garfield has a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
As Lin-Manuel Miranda was once a struggling writer himself, it is not surprising he is the director of the Academy Award-nominated musical tick, tick…BOOM!, a fascinating semi-autobiographical story about Jonathan Larson, a struggling writer living in New York City years before he created his hit rock musical, RENT. A writer writes about what one knows and so much of this story offers glimpses into Larson’s inspiration for that wildly-successful musical.
However, this is about the struggle and this musical film is brimming with it. The painstaking work of creativity and all that could go wrong illuminates tick, tick…BOOM! as Larson struggles to keep it all together to achieve what at times seems impossible, especially in New York City. tick, tick…BOOM! is not only about Jonathan Larson’s frantic life, but it is also an ode to the writer and the struggle to live that extraordinarily competitive dream while just skirting out and skimming by trying to get a chance.
At its center is narrator and lead Andrew Garfield who brings a driving intensity and delivers an electrifying performance as the frenetic Larson on the eve of Larson’s 30th birthday. The unconventional, deeply creative, and quick-thinking Larson divides his time between writing and working at the Moondance Diner. Look for Lin-Manuel Miranda as a short order cook. However, music and writing naturally pours out of Larson’s soul and he is often consumed by it at the expense of everything else. For forward-thinking Larson, turning 30 is a looming chasm that soaks up every ounce of his time until that odious deadline as he demonstrates in the catchy and memorable number, 30/90. Thirty is not old, but maybe Larson always felt like he was running out of time.
The musical features a dynamic, infectious, and multi-dimensional soundtrack about living in your 20s in New York City and how life changes. RENT’s influence is unmistakably evident in the lighthearted and humorous numbers, Boho Days and No More. It is also easy to recognize the roots that will develop Larson’s future work. Inside the Moondance Diner, Sunday features beautiful harmonies that include some of Broadway’s biggest stars. Therapy is a fantastic and humorous number about the miscommunication of love. The rap-infused Play Game depicts the struggle between living out the uncertainty of your dream or entering the corporate world which is a prevalent theme throughout the film.
tick, tick BOOM! explores the little victories, the bigger victories, and the gut-wrenching defeats in Larson’s personal and professional world. However, what is genuinely important becomes painfully clear and what truly inspires his work changes as the film progresses.
tick, tick BOOM! is currently streaming on Netflix. Click here for more information on RENT’s 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour.
As Atlantic Ocean waves lap along the shore, renowned vocalists Chabrelle D. Williams, Brianna J. Robinson, Maggie Finnegan, Vera Savage, and Hannah Ludwig provide an intense and inspired a cappella chorus for an idyllic beachside cottage as a bride, what appears to be the mother of the bride, and bridesmaids prepare for a beautiful wedding. A wedding can stir up a myriad of powerful emotions from bitter sweet to pure joy as a couple starts a new life together and in a way, leaves the former one behind. Filled with rich traditions, rituals, and cultural customs, the days leading up to a wedding can provide life’s most unforgettable moments.
Svadba, which is Serbian for ‘wedding,’ contains all the anticipation and beauty of the days building up to the big day. It is a pivotal time in a couple’s life, especially these times when family and friends gathering can be a hesitant and tricky venture. The glow of the bride-to-be is resplendent in Victoria Awkward as Milica, the loving stares of love and pride shine in Jackie Davis’s eyes as Lena and the beautiful bridesmaids excitedly bonding create a dreamy and ethereal presence in this picturesque setting.
What also makes Svadba so alluring is the intimacy among the group. From Victoria Awkward as bride Milica and Jackie Davis as Lena’s first encounter, it is easy to see the precious nature of a mother and daughter relationship, though the film does not specify the connection between them. Davis treats Awkward delicately, taking her hand and getting her ready while presenting to her family and cultural customs and heirlooms leading up to this big day. The sunlight peers into the cottage, illuminating the treasure trove of precious objects. There is a quiet outpouring of love between the two of them as Davis prepares Awkward for the future.
Costume designer Albulena’s Borovci’s dynamic costumes vary from traditional and intriguing to unconventional with fantasy and flair. Sparkling, translucent, and understated gowns adorn bridesmaids Sasha Peterson as Maid of Honor Ljubica, Emily Jerant-Hendrickson, Sarah Pacheco as Zora, and Jay Breen as Danica. The pale green and coral complements the serene beachside landscape while a bride’s vivid daydream unleashes brighter and bolder attire.
Much of this opera symbolizes togetherness, the progression of growing up and finding where a woman fits in the world from the bride’s whirlwind feelings to family and friends perspectives. The choreography at times feels so intense that the dancers look like they are being taken over by the chorus’s powerful vocal harmony. From spontaneous frolicking to wild and intense dance rituals set to heavenly, trilling, and rhythmic vocals that narrate, navigate, and reveal the complicated feelings when one weds, Svadba is a spirited snapshot to this tumultuous and extraordinary rite of passage and a beautiful celebration of the future.
Boston Lyric Opera presents in collaboration with Opera Philadelphia Channel, Svadba streaming now on Operabox.tv. The film is just under an hour. Click here for streaming access and more information.
Not even Easter Sunday can stop a scandal in the Sicilian countryside.
Featuring distinct, eye-popping costumes, a glorious Opera Chorus led Brett Hodgdon, and a full orchestra, Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) opened their season on a grand scale with the renowned one act Italian libretto, Cavalleria Rusticana for just two performances on October 1 and 3. Boston Lyric Opera was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd anticipating BLO’s return to a live venue for 18 months. Delivered on a concert scale, Cavalleria Rusticana was presented under Leader Bank Pavilion’s open air tent in the Seaport District in Boston, Massachusetts. It ran for 1 hour and 10 minutes with no intermission.
Loyalty, love, honor, and faith are tested among this group of passionate players. Led by Music Director David Angus, the seemingly joyous overture delivers an exciting rush woven into a sense of foreboding, hinting at turmoil among still waters on the holiest of days, Easter Sunday. Introducing the libretto is an interactive and unparalleled performance of Pagliacci’s Prologue by Javier Arrey. Taking a reflective, humorous, and philosophical tone addressing the audience over what they are about to see, Cavalleria Rusticana becomes a passionate and cautionary tale, pleading about the affects of love and the human spirit.
Julia Noulin-Merat’s standalone set pieces, including overturned chairs piled high in pale pink as well as bright yellow chairs lining the stage, pop as does Gail Astrid Buckley’s distinct, vivid costumes with blooming flowers set against the orchestral backdrop depicting the emergence of a Sicilian spring.
It is easy to get invested in these headstrong characters and Cavalleria Rusticana hits the ground running steeped in a complex love affair as the sacredness of Easter surrounds them, emphasized by ethereal dancers Victoria Awkward, Michayla Kelly, and Marissa Molinar and the swelling of the Boston Lyric Chorus’s powerful and spiritual lyrics.
Michelle Johnson as conflicted Santuzza leads this magnificent cast, delivering a splendid, heartrending performance. Filled with sorrow and longing, Johnson’s tremendous vocals and her searing confrontation with Turiddo, portrayed with a charismatic yet manipulative mystique by Adam Diegel, show Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. Chelsea Basler depicts alluring and complicated Lola with infuriating and masterful charm and the heart of the show lies with loyal and compassionate Nina Yoshida Nelsen as Mamma Lucia who observes it all much like the audience, with bated breath.
The show is delivered entirely in Italian and with subtitles at significant parts of the production. However, for someone who does not know Italian and with a production so captivating, it is difficult having to forego not knowing every single word spoken from this enthralling cast.
Cavallaria Rusticana takes place in 1900’s Sicily and yet this opera is as timeless as any contemporary story told today and a perfect choice to open Boston Lyric Opera’s new season which includes virtual and live and in-person performances including jazz-themed opera Championand Svadba through operabox.tv. Click here for more information and a closer look at BLO’s new season.
The power of music is in full force in Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s (MRT) production of Alison Gregory’sWild Horses streaming on demand through Sunday, October 17. Merrimack Repertory Theatre previously offered the production in person from September 15 through October 3 at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell, Massachusetts. The show contains mature language and some adult themes. Click here for more information and tickets to this virtual performance.
Directed with heart and humor by Courtney Sale, Wild Horses delves into the life of the mother of a teenage daughter, portrayed with a blend of lively charm and excitable nervousness by Leenya Rideout, as she gets wrapped up recalling her story of a special California summer during her 13th year in the 70s while onstage at an open mic night. Rideout evokes a sense of adventure during this musically-fueled Moth Radio Hour featuring lyrics from 70s greats Rolling Stones, Heart, Van Morrison, America, and more.
Having delivered a likable performance in the 2020 indie film, Love, Repeat, Rideout further showcases her dynamic range in this meatier Wild Horses role with a humorous, heartfelt and sometimes raunchy performance. See what Sleepless Critic had to say about Rideout in Love, Repeathere.
With a love for music almost as much as horses, Rideout sings, strums an acoustic guitar, and proves an energetic and engaging storyteller sharing her experiences from a studious perfectionist to a teenager not afraid to break a few rules with the encouragement from her daring friends. With no shortage of excitement, scandal, humor, and heartache, Rideout’s onstage demeanor switches from responsible mother in need of a night out to wide eyed, youthful innocent with all the angst that goes with it. She blends what she remembers with her current wisdom, dwelling in the sacredness of youth. Ranging from teenage pranks to rites of passage, Rideout recalls these stories with wistfulness and passion, interacting with the audience like old friends.
Costume designer A. Lee Viliesis has Rideout ready to rock in an animal print scarf, Fender T Shirt, and ripped jeans and accompanied by guitarist Rafael Molina, she slips right into this adolescent spirit longing to be wild and free. All that is necessary is a little courage.
Here’s to the ‘freedom takers’ with Merrimack Repertory’s production of Wild Horses continues streaming through Sunday, October 17. Click here for more information and to get a closer look on MRT’s new season.
Comic great Robin Williams once said, “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.” Williams suffered from depression, but his ability to feel the lows and to make people laugh perhaps contributed to his gift on a deeper level. Getting the laugh is greater when the pain in which it is earned is also felt, achieving connection. Perhaps this is why there is also an in-house psychiatrist at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, California.
Theatre Kapow captured isolation and resilience in a play centered around a group of people clinging for hope in A.J. Ditty’s resonating play, The Boyg based partially on the life of Per Krohg. Art and isolation are key elements and are heavily weighed as each character attempts to connect with each other in their own distinct way.
Celebrating its first indoor production in over a year, Theatre Kapow presented A.J. Ditty’s The Boyg in Derry, New Hampshire in September, toured in Charlestown, Massachusetts as October started, and the show is now available online through October 10. Click here for tickets and more information.
Before continuing, it is important to note that A.J. Ditty’s The Boyg, named after Ibsen’s classic play Peer Gynt’s groundbreaking literary monster, does not make the play a prerequisite to appreciate this production, but a companion piece. The show is part play within a play and for those who know Peer Gynt, having read Ibsen’s work may promote a richer understanding, but does not affect the universal appeal of this show.
There is a phantom presence lingering over The Boyg, a sense of tension and dread that builds throughout the production and is rarely addressed until it is unavoidable. It hides in games, questions, plays, and pleasant conversation and perhaps glimpsed in a pause or a worried glance. Enhanced by Tayva Young’s mood-induced lighting and versatile sound designed by Jake Hudgins, it is an element as real as any of the characters in this production.
Set inside a Norwegian concentration camp during World War II, each character has every reason to try to forget their present circumstances, but struggle within the inevitability of their situation. Duty, work which is often self defeating, and art seem only to hold more than a moment’s distraction.
The cast displays good timing and chemistry even as characters who often struggle to understand each other in their mutual pain. As barracks leader Odd Nansen, portrayed ardently by Carey Cahoon, Odd seems the most willing to give into whatever is necessary to keep up morale while Professor Francis Bull depicted by Molly Kane Parker, prefers to escape into literature and theatre to cope with the present.
Rebecca Tucker delivers an intriguing and heartfelt performance as secretive, complex, and anguished Per Krohg who struggles with what it takes to survive. Tucker’s cat-and-mouse conversations with Nicholas Wilder as harsh and manipulative Captain Denzer and Sabrina Sehlegel-Megia’s earnest portrayal of rebellious and mysterious Mikhail Hjorthson’s haunting recollections of past experiences are particular highlights.
What does it take to peel back life’s meaning where there is no other choice? Reflecting on art and culture while staring into the face of mortality, isn’t life better with connection over dread?
Directed contemplatively by Matt Cahoon, Theatre Kapow timely production of A.J. Ditty’s The Boyg streaming through October 10. Click here for more on The Boyg and Theatre Kapow’s new season, Return.
Opening with a remarkable reflection connecting theatre to the human heart, a bare stage shows signs of life once again.
Potomac Theatre Project (PTP/NYC) opened their virtual summer play series earlier this month with Lunch, a clever show that unconventionally explored the art of conversation. Directed judiciously by Cheryl Faraone, Standing on the Edge of Time waxes both political and poetic in conversation as it explores the bleak yet hopeful state of the world through a selection of works from different authors.
Standing on the Edge of Time is the second of three summer virtual plays presented by PTP/NYC and continues through July 27. Viewings are free and donations are encouraged. This show was filmed adhering to Covid guidelines, runs approximately 90 minutes, and has mature themes. Click here for more information, how to view the show, and how to support PTP/NYC’s mission.
From the haunted balconies of an old, empty theatre, even the dead wrestle with their wild, melancholy, and world-weary experiences in Mac Wellman’sCrowbar. This segment provides the perfect framework leading into various works that delve into contemporary issues from freedom, frustration, road rage, and relationships to downsizing, grief, sex, and paranoia.
Though each segment is written by different authors, its engaging format provides a flow that rarely veers off course. The show boasts poetic and timely musings such as Mornings at the Lake with Madison Middletonand Spell of Motion by Stacie Cassarino with Stephanie Janssen featuring some beautiful outdoor cinematography as well as haunting James Saunders’Next Time I’ll Sing to You with Tara Giordano. Though the majority of Standing on the Edge of Time is thought-provoking, these quieter segments provide respite from the production’s heavier topics and satirical themes.
Some highlights include Dominique Morisseau’s relatable and occasionally humorous Skeleton Crew, the zany and unique ideas presented in David Auburn’sWhat Do You Believe about the Future, and the surprising facts revealed of history repeating in Constance Congdon’sTales of the Lost Formicans.
The cast portray a myriad of roles, but apart from Crowbar, do not seem like they are playing particular characters for the most part. The lively cast seems like a semblance of individuals exploring contemporary issues, fears, and unique ideas of the future.
PTP/NYC’s Standing on the Edge of Time continues streaming through Tuesday, July 27. Click here for more information. Please note there is a final segment following the production’s credits. PTC/NYC will present their final virtual summer show, A Small Handful from August 13-17.
We are all hearing soon. Soon we will be back together in the theatre for a wonderful live theatrical experience. How it has been missed!
However convenient it is sitting in front of a computer for a virtual show, there is nothing quite like the anticipation of live theatre in person with an audience in a shared experience. SpeakEasy Stage Company’s remarkable concert musical benefit show, Songs for a New World, accomplishes quite a bit in its hour and a half runtime. Through clever cinematography that still adheres to Covid guidelines, SpeakEasy Stage Company recreates the thrill of seeing actors together onstage and it is easy to see each cast member’s excitement through their own extraordinary performances. We’re not quite there yet, but this is getting ever closer.
Directed by Paul Daigneault and musically-directed by Jose Delgado, SpeakEasy Stage Company continues their 30th anniversary season with John Robert Brown’sSongs for a New World streaming through June 8. The show was filmed onstage at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets. Discount tickets are also available. Click here for more information on SpeakEasy Stage Company’s recently announced 2021-22 season.
It is difficult to describe the anticipation of seeing SpeakEasy Stage Company’s concert musical benefit, Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World. The last Jason Robert Brown musical I witnessed was a film adaptation of The Last Five Years. It was a glorious, resonating tear jerker featuring reliable talents Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick.
Songs for a New World explores a variety of characters that are faced with the ultimate, sometimes humorous and other times harrowing life-changing decisions and deciding what to do next. With simple staging and an onstage band conducted by Jose Delgado, Songs for a New World has humor and heartache enhanced by some of Boston’s most recognizable vocal powerhouses.
Songs for a New World is full of powerful performances and each song is as strong as the last, but here are a few highlights. One standout performance is a tender and stirring rendition of On the Deck of a Spanish Ship, 1492 as Monroe exclaims, “Have Mercy Lord” while the cast embarks on a harrowing, life-changing journey. Dressed in a long fur coat, Laura Marie Duncan is wildly entertaining as a scorned woman in an extreme situation in Just One Step. Duncan’s expressive personality and her sheer energy drive this amazing performance.
Jennifer Ellis performs some vocal gymnastics as Mrs. Claus for Sweabaya Santa, reimagining Santa as an absent, judgmental husband whose love is as fleeting as his sleigh. Dwayne P Mitchell literally rises from the ashes of his childhood in this boastful, self-assured rendition of The Steam Train. Ellis and Mitchell have sweet chemistry in a beautiful duet about the complexity of love in I’d Give it All for You.
Rached Al Nuaimi demonstrates zany, emotional turmoil and building frustration in She Cries and Jennifer Ellis delivers a bold and anguished performance in The Flagmaster, 1776.
SpeakEasy Stage Company’s Songs for a New World also boasts an incredible finale not to be missed with Hear My Song. Glad to add John Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World as another memorable musical experience.
SpeakEasy Stage Company continues streaming Songs for a New World through June 8. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support the SpeakEasy Stage Company.