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Where Dave Malloy's original compositions tended toward Satie-inflected wistfulness in "Panel," "Animal" is primarily two-fisted Kurt Weill cabaret.
To this end, BB&B's second offering benefits greatly from the live piano presence of the very supple Sarah Engelke, who segues seamlessly from Malloy's robust Bierhalle stein-clankers to a lilting cover of "Embraceable You" inbetwixt sprawling flat on her belly pounding the innards of her piano and flapping about the stage in a frantic, frenzied tap dance. http://theater2k.com/
"...savor the cool effervescence of Sarah Engelke in the leading role. Playing straight for a carnival of wildly farcical characters, Engelke's underplaying of the Porter/Romney wit fits perfectly into the tiny theatre, With a half-smile or a gentle eye-brow lift punctuating her lines, she is a model of casual charm..."----www.broadway.com Michael Dale http://www.broadwayworld.com/viewcolumn.cfm?colid=547
I should single out for praise Sarah Engelke as Evangeline, the shows heroine, and Bridget Harvey as Evangelines wisecracking American pal Henrietta. They are among the few and proud in this cast who nail the snappy, light effervescence needed to make this somewhat dated show come to life. When these two sing, you begin to understand why Porter so treasured this tuneful and sophisticated score. Jonathan Warmen HX review
Current Member of ACTOR'S EQUITY ASSOCIATION http://www.actorsequity.com
Company Member of INVERSE THEATER http://www.inversetheater
Company Member of THE MISTAKE http://www.meetthemistake.com
Company Member of the MEDICINE SHOW http://www.medicineshowtheatre.com
Undercover Lover Myra
35th Anniversary Best Of Ensemble/Lead
Finnegan’s Wake 04 & 05 - Musical Isobel
Nymph Errant Evangeline
The Bee Opera Killer Bee/Ensemble
Bangers Flopera Ringer Singer Ben Yalom
The American Revolution Music Director/Robert Timothy Reynolds
The American Revolution Robert Shirtless Howard Thoreson
Midnight Brainwash Revival Karma (staged reading) Joshua Spafford
Grace Notes Singer/Pianist/Ensemble Hank Wagner
The Matrix - The Musical The Oracle
Swelter (Sketch Comedy) Co-Writer/Lead/2 years
NEW YORK (AVANTE GARDE AND VERSE THEATER)
Sandwich - The Musical Goat Knife Wife/Pianist http://www.bananabagandbodice.org Mallory Catlett/Jason Craig
Danger Cruise Ship - The Musical Ukranian Washer Woman http://www.chashama.org Alec DuffyLeLycanthrope Alacoque/Werewolverine http://www.lycanthrope.50megs.com Brendan Turk/Timothy Reynolds
ST. LOUIS (COMEDY AND TRADITIONAL ROLES)
Murders, Games, and More! (Murder Comedy) Lead/3 years http://www.lempmansion.com Neville Mur
Insanity Reigns!!! (Sketch Comedy) Co-Writer/Lead/3 years http://www.nonprophets.com/ Bob Mitchell
Currently Studying long form improv comedy with
UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE NYC Michael Delaney, Sean Conroy, Ari Voudkys, Zachary Woods http://www.ucbtheater.com
VOICE: Susan Baum, Lori McCann, Susan Bouman
ACTING: Barbara Vann, William Grivna, Robert Mitchell
DANCE: Ballet / Jazz / Tap / Pointe / Modern (Broadway Dance Center)
TUMBLING: Cartwheels/ Round-offs/Somersaults/Backbends
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY @ EDWARDSVILLE (SIUE)
MASTER OF MUSIC (MM) - Vocal Performance, 2001 BACHELOR OF MUSIC (BM) - Music & Theater, 1999
Lost (NY Fringe 03 Best Music and Lyrics Award)Flautist~~Inverse Theater Co. NYC~~Dir. Robert Urbinati
Bang Your Head to Liszt....Concert Pianist.....Carnegie Recital Hall.....Dir. Joshua Seth
Accompanist Vocal Coach @ NYU / Keyboards & Classical Piano / Choir & Musical Director / Flautist & Piccolist / Some Ukelele
Visual Artist / Photographer / Writer / Poet / Choreographer // Basketball / Volleyball / Track / Rollerblading / Biking / Bartering
Current Driver’s License / Props Hunter "Playwrights Horizons Theater "Jung Griffin
24 May 2005
Read our review from Time Out New York!
WHAT'S COOKIN'? As a sinister chef,
playwright Craig dishes up a treat.
Here's what they said about us:
Time Out New York, May 26 - June 1, 2005
By Jason Craig.
Music by David malloy.
Directed by Mallory Catlett.
With ensemble cast.
If you were the type of child who briefly went vegetarian after reading Charlotte's Web, Jason Craig's Sandwich may drive you off your grub for life. And it won't be just the cute, roly-poly meals you'll reject, either - you may find yourself looking around guiltily every time you chop a head of lettuce. But tighten your belts, folks, because losing your appetite never tasted so delicious.
In a meat-locker-cum-fairground-booth, mad chefs Craig and Jessica Jelliffe elaborately prepare a BLT. Tiny fans waft bacony scents toward the crowd, and audience enthusiasm for the sandwich soon matches that of the two cooks in the nude suits. But for every luncheon treat, someone's friend must lose a life. Sad Cat (Heather Peroni) mourns Piggy (now "hairlessandoinklessandfacelessandcharred!") and will not be comforted. Trying to cheer her up, the cooks get her a new animal pal. Kitty likes to play rough, though, and once she gets a birthday knife ("those fuckers took my claws!"), it looks like transparentplasticcurtains for Bunny (played by a giant stuffed rabbit).
Cheerfully obscene - one song focuses exclusively on a chicken's back end - the company obsesses over the filthiness of consumption. While individual characters slash and stab each other, collectively they skewer American greed. Accompanied by Kurt Weill-style pounding piano, Sandwich would have made Bertolt Brecht proud (if Brecht had had a plushy fetish). Stab whom you have to for a ticket: Sandwich is play-making at its meatiest.
- Helen Shaw
How do you like them eggs?
WHO IS BANANA, BAG & BODICE AND WHAT DO THEY WANT
Gypsy Theater Troupe Plunges Down a Dark Hole of Meat and Sex in Wburg
Walking through Williamsburg these days is getting downright scary. The streets are looking too clean, the buildings too well-kept, the graffiti too self-conscious and contained. And the Good Times dive bar at Metropolitan and Berry? Goodbye. This week, it's some chi-chi south-of-the-border theme joint. Next week, who knows. Starbucks, maybe.
Fortunately, the dive next door is still just that -- a cheerfully fetid little barn otherwise known as the Collapsable Hole, home to those estimable theatrical outlaws, Collapsable Giraffe and Radiohole. And, through Saturday, worthy guests as well: Banana, Bag & Bodice -- late of San Francisco, now of Brooklyn, soon to be of Montreal -- with a pair of one-acts, "Panel (The Young War: A Panel Discussion on the Death of Love)" and "Animal (Sandwich: A Musical about Killing Animals)."
In "Panel," BB&B founders Jason Craig and Jessica Jelliffe join with Heather Peroni, Rod Hipskind (who looks more than a little like Willem Dafoe) and Peter Blomquist (who looks kind of like Christopher Walken) to unleash a collective musing on the nature of love that is by turns jaded and hopeful, manic and lethargic.
Amidst recurring themes of hula hoops, denim slacks, counting to 20 and the definition of perineum, BB&B delivers its poetic barrage as a kind of modal-scale, post-bop quintet of the spoken word, scattering a dancing pattern of word-notes over a deep, swelling octave of desire.
"Panel"'s ultimate power is one of a torrent of vivid word-images, at once fleetingly familiar and disconcertingly askew. It is as if being swept into a waking dream, ineffable and unsettling on its surface, yet seductive and enticing in its power as it pulls you down, ever down in a swirling alliterative whirlpool of lust, longing and loss.
"Animal" is less cohesive than "Panel" but more purely, ecstatically theatrical. Where Dave Malloy's original compositions tended toward Satie-inflected wistfulness in "Panel," "Animal" is primarily two-fisted Kurt Weill cabaret.
To this end, BB&B's second offering benefits greatly from the live piano presence of the very supple Sarah Engelke, who segues seamlessly from Malloy's robust Bierhalle stein-clankers to a lilting cover of "Embraceable You" inbetwixt sprawling flat on her belly pounding the innards of her piano and flapping about the stage in a frantic, frenzied tap dance.
And then there's Craig's Apocalyptic Armadillo sequence that brings Jamie McElhinney's sound design and Miranda Hardy's lighting to an appropriately bizarre and very effective crescendo. When was the last time you saw a giant armadillo gripped by the throes of an angst-ridden monologue whilst being hounded by The Giant Blue Light From Beyond?
Thought so. Which is reason enough right there to encourage Craig, Jelliffe & Co, to return right here following that gig up north. NYC theater needs them. Williamsburg needs them. If only to help keep the Starbucks away a little while longer.
"Panel . Animal"
Banana Bag & Bodice at
The Collapsable Hole
146 Metropolitan Ave.,
June 2-4, 8PM.
-- Brook Stowe
Thursday, July 7th, 2005 by Anni
This is an evening of two pieces, conceived and performed by the collaborative team of artists known as Banana, Bag, and Bodice. Their show was a hit at the Brick Theatre in Williamsburg, and was extended for more performances at the Ontological. This show does weird -college-avant guard-stuff better than any group I’ve seen, well, since leaving college. They make no apologies for what they are; raw, gritty, obtuse, uncomfortable, silly, and serious all at once. I can’t think of enough adjectives to describe this show.
The first piece I realized I had already seen in the Gawk Festival, a full year and a half ago. The play, entitled “The Young War,” has changed a lot since then, but is essentially the same piece with the same intent. They sharpened it up and made it clearer. There are four panelists, conservatively dressed, clipboards in hand, pens sharpened, alert and calm. Then there is the sound designer running the panel who hops in and out of the action. The panel is simply a platform for which a collection of ideas is presented to the audience on a grand scale. The theme is relationships, specifically, abusive relationships. They use comedy, drama, music, poetry, dance, body movement, stage combat, prop humor, and bananas to express these themes. They explore love, obsession, sex, jealousy, rage, and eventually, death. In one relationship, it is the literal death of a lover (psycho-killer) style and in the other, the sad, slow death of love, as in, the loss of passion over the course of time. These themes are basic and known to us all, and are expressed in one of the strangest ways I’ve seen.
The second piece entitled “Sandwich” is a much lighter jaunt through a grotesque, nightmarish world of giant cats that murder and cannibalize their bunny friends, boys who think they are chickens, and German people cooking bacon. I’m not entirely sure what the central focus of this piece is, but honestly, it was a musical with fun songs and sing-along moments, so I was happy! At first I thought it was a comment of vegatarianism. The cat is sad when they cook her friend the Pig, but then she cuts open a pregnant bunny and eats her young (all done with fluffy cute puppets). Then I thought it was a clear-cut betrayal tale (Cat betrays Bunny, who thought she had found true love with the Cat.) Then there was some wierd stuff with a Chicken Little Boy with an anal fixation. Then a girl kills a butterfly and is yelled at by man who asks her why she did it, she says, because it was small, and he turns into a giant smashy armadillo, who then is attacked by blue alien (whom he promises a sandwich to), and the show ends up with the kitty still being sad her friend the Pig is dead, and the German owners continue to eat their bacon, but they tell the Cat that it is not bacon, but a Rock sandwich.
I think possibly what they are trying to say is that it is sad to eat animals, but we are bigger than them, and we have to eat something, or else we will all starve. So kitties will go on being sad.
Then I thought about the institution of the nuclear family within the confines of the show; mom and dad, chicken son and cat daughter. And I really can’t figure out how that fit in. But I know it existed there for a reason.
But honestly it was so much fun and the language was so excellent and gorgeous and the performances were so ravishing, I didn’t mind that I didn’t quite figure everything out as a literal absolute. I don’t think there are any literal absolutes in their universe. Everything is maleable and strange and symbolic. Really more performance art than theatre, I highly recommend this show. I hope they get lots of funding and continue to make this kind of edgy “downtown” inspired work for some time to come.
Also my friend and colleague Sarah Engelke dressed like an evil goat and played the piano in the musical bits. Nice work!
Joyce's Musical Language Transformed Into a Musical
By ANNE MIDGETTE
"Riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay"
So opens one of the great epics in our literature, James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" - an epic so great, in fact, that relatively few people have actually read it. And the idea of basing a musical on it sounds perilously close to material for a skit on "Saturday Night Live."
But "riverrun," intones the ragtag cast over a tape of echoing sound-music as it takes the tiny stage of the Medicine Show Theater to perform this "Finnegans Wake." And it isn't ludicrous. It isn't perfect, either. What it is is Joyce.
Joyce's language is meant to be spoken and listened to and relished. It's full of music, and the text is full of musical references; singing those references is only bringing out something that's already there. And Barbara Vann, one of the company's founding members and the creative force behind this show, deserves credit for her grasp of what is contained in the book.
It's no small thing to say that the Medicine Show ensemble presents Joyce's language, abridged but undiluted, interpreted with imagination and understanding. As for its being a "musical," once the piece has established the bawdy, rollicking, drunken atmosphere of an Irish wake in song, it largely forgets about music except as incidental accompaniment. Any fears of an "Anna Livia Plurabelle" song are quickly allayed.
Certainly it is uneven, messy, long and sometimes tedious - in all these things true to its model, however inadvertently. But it is also able to be true to its model in moments of insight and beauty. The Anna Livia Plurabelle scene, the book's most famous excerpt, is inspired in its evocation of afternoon on the banks of the river Liffey, where the gossiping washerwomen are surrounded by ducks, birds, a fisherman, an idler. (The cast is not all on the same level, but John McConnel speaks well, and Jason Alan Griffin is an endearing character actor, and a memorable duck.)
The end drags out with an overlong monologue by Ms. Vann, who isn't able to invest her performance with the same spark she put into the adaptation. But if this is not entirely a successful evening of theater, it is a rewarding evening of Joyce.
"Finnegans Wake" continues through April 30 at the Medicine Show Theater, 549 West 52nd Street, Clinton,(212) 868-4444.
he Surreal Life of James Joyce
Review by Diana Barth
549 West 52nd Street,
New York City
James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake is both long and complex. It has been adapted for the stage by Barbara Vann, artistic director of a theater group called Medicine Show. What one sees here is not realistic theater, but is
abstract in the extreme.
In short, the project is a daunting undertaking. On one level it is the story of one night in the life of one man, Finnegan; actually his dream life, for what transpires can hardly be considered realistic.
On the other hand, the play transmits the universality of human experience at least, that is what I think it may do or is meant to do.
There are a group of 10 actors doing quick changes and portraying many roles. Brief scenes melt one into another: one may take place in a barroom, another in a courtroom. Some particularly strange and funny scenes are in the courtroom, where one of the actors stands on a table and dons the wig of a traditional British judge.
However, the lavish wig appears to be made from many small, white cardboard
rolls. They’re possibly toilet paper rolls; it’s hard to tell.
The judge uses a polo stick as gavel. A ladder is used to enclose Finnegan, as if it represents the prisoner’s box.
What is the trial about? One cannot tell. It appears to be all in Finnegan’s mind, in any case.
An attractive young woman is attired as a ballerina, wearing a pale pink tutu-type garment with many rows of ruffles. In some scenes she is stern. In others, she turns her attention to Finnegan, seductively. She wears pink ballet slippers and sometimes performs a gentle kind of dance.
In another scene the entire company dances a brief, formal type of square dance. Some songs are sung, one particularly effective one having the quality of the type of song to be found in Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera.
There are segments when the actors portray birds or ducks. We are in a Dublin pub experiencing a drunken free-for-all. We are on the shores of the River Liffey. Here is Phoenix Park; here is the Garden of Eden.
It is all a dream, and according to the director’s notes, the play takes place “inside the dreaming mind of a man with a doubtful connection to reality.”
Of course, being that this is James Joyce, the language is somewhat obscure.
In fact, the book was considered an aberration at the time of its publication 75 years ago.
That’s why I go into some detail on costumes, designed by Uta Bekaia. They
echo the abstraction of the spoken material.
The men’s jackets have abstract but pleasant designs painted onthem. The
lighting is dark, in keeping with the dreamlike quality of the piece.
In such a large company of actors, it is difficult and somewhat unfair to single out individuals. However, as Finnegan, Paul Murphy, with his cherubic face and curly locks, conveys sweetness and an expression of constant surprise that lends charm to the performance.
Chris McGlumphy has composed original background for the piece, which discreetly enhances the visual proceedings. Director Barbara Vann, who also
portrays the role of Anna Livia Plurabelle in the play, has orchestrated her company effectively, with the aid of choreographer Nicole Colbert.
Of the book James Joyce has written, “If anyone doesn’t understand a passage, all he need do is read it aloud.”
In the case of this theatrical adaptation, it is difficult to understand if one tries to figure it out from the standpoint of what one knows of realistic theater. Rather, it is best to let it wash over one, like a series of gentle waves, letting one’s self be open to the sights and sounds of it.
OFF OFF BROADWAY ONLINE
by Nathan Bredeman (On Leave)
Finnegans Wake reviewed April 17, 2005
If they had been stupid, this would have been easy.
|Paul Murphy (with glass) surrounded by the cast of "Finnegans Wake"|
Photo Credit:John Quilty|
Had the people behind Medicine Show's production of Finnegan's Wake simply been inept, a review would have been simple to write.
However, there is an intelligence behind the show, a calculation behind every prop, every gesture, every song and piece of choreography. Someone went through a great deal of time and effort to present Finnegan's Wake exactly as I saw it. This makes my job harder.
Why was such a well-constructed piece of theater so awful?
Let's start with the basics. The show was adapted from the James Joyce novel of the same name "novel" may be too strong a word, for Joyce filled the book with so many puns, metaphors, and allusions that the story, nay, the English language itself, is hardly recognizable. It is universally considered one of the most difficult books to read, ever.
It tells the story of Finnegan (Paul Murphy), who dreams of Dublin and her citizens. It is also the story of Adam and the birth of mankind. It is also the story of Everyman living Everylife. It is all these stories at the exact same time.
The urge to adapt it is not a new one. Thornton Wilder used it as the basis for The Skin of Our Teeth, the celebrated play that earned him his third Pulitzer Prize. Wilder sliced off Joyce's complicated language and literary in-jokes, and kept the idea of the ber-family living through all of history's floods, wars, and famines, always surviving by the skin of their teeth.
|(l-r) John McCconnel, Paul Murphy and Sarah Engelke|
Photo Credit:John Quilty|
Medicine Show and director Barbara Vann, however, kept Joyce's language, and lovingly polished his puns and allusions. The actors (who portray all manner of beasties, from Dubliners to grasshoppers) march onstage and, for three hours, let the metaphors fly. I didn't understand a word.
Not. A. Word. I figured it was English, but my comprehension stopped there.
Perhaps I'm not Medicine Show's intended audience. I wonder who its ideal audience would be literature professors? Joyce scholars, perhaps? The Finnegan's Wake Society from Gotham Book Mart? Joyce himself?
It really is a pity, for the actors are quite good especially Murphy, who is mesmerizing, even if I didn't understand what he was saying. And what a spectacle surrounds him! There are songs and dances, wine and women, a boat and a barrel and a bathtub. Books litter the stage. The cast falls asleep under a delicate shawl. Finnegan dies and wakes up and dies again! It is thrilling! I think.
Not all theater is meant to be entertaining puff pastry; some plays we watch not because we enjoy them but because they are good for us. Watching Finnegan's Wake, however, is like being force-fed horse vitamins. A little goes a long way.
Written by: based on the novel by James Joyce; adapted by Barbara Vann
Directed by: Barbara Vann
Produced by: Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble
Opened: April 1, 2005
Closed: April 30, 2005
Running Time: 2 1/2 hours
Theater: Medicine Show
Address: 549 West 52nd 3rd floor
New York, NY 10019
Creative TeamScripted & Directed by: Barbara Vann|
Produced by: Medicine Show
Light Designer: Doug Filomena
Sound Designer: Chris McGlumphy
Set Designer: Know Martin
Costume Designer: Uta Bekaia
Choreographer: Nicole Colbert
CastJascha Bilan as Dubliner/Hedge Daughter/Schoolgirl
Paul Murphy as HCE (Finnegan)
Mike Still as Dubliner, Barkeep/Mookse
Monica Lynch as Dubliner/Kate/Washerwoman
Sarah Engelke as Isobel (Iseult), HCE's daughter
Mark Gering as Shaun, HCE's son
John McConnel as Shem, HCE's son
Colleen Quigley as Dubliner/Washerwoman
Jason Alan Griffin as Dubliner/Gripes
Barbara Vann as Anna Livia Plurabelle
CrewLightboard Operators: Beth Griffith/Kip Potharas
Set & Prop Construction: Kip Potharas & Chris Brandt