Search Us
Around the Web

Thursday
Sep142017

MUCH ADO ABOUT TEXAS // A THEATRE REVIEW OF "LOVELESS TEXAS"

BY MATEO MORENO

Adapting Shakespeare into new forms is hardly a new approach, but it's one that continues to impress (and sometimes not impress) in new and varied ways. Some strong adaptations in my mind include West Side Story, 10 Things I Hate About You, My Own Private Idaho, & Baz Luhrmann's frantic and exhilarating Romeo & Juliet. There are less successful ones out there (She's the Man and come to mind) but I'm happy to say that Boomerang Theatre's latest offering LOVELESS TEXAS can sit with the former, not the latter.

Henry Aronson and Cailin Heffernan's musical take on Love's Labour's Lost, resets the action in Texas and Louisiana and has shades of Oklahoma in its DNA. Berowne Loveless Navarre (Joe Joseph) and his buddies love spending their days chasing girls and getting into trouble. But his older brother King Loveless Ferdinand Navarre (Darren Ritchie) has other ideas. He offers them all jobs with a catch: they can't go chasing girls, drink, or gamble. He needs the help on the ranch and he wants to shape up his brother in the process. So because the men really don't have options, they sign their fun days away. But this being a musical comedy, there is of course shenanigans to be had, and there just so happens to be a town near King's ranch full of women. And once they visit it, each of the boy’s hearts, including King's, begin to swoon, and that's when the real fun begins.

The cast is filled with some very fine actors with great voices, most notably Darren Ritchie as the King, Joe Joseph as his younger brother, powerhouse vocalist Amanda Lea Lavergne as Rosaline, charming Bligh Voth, and starry eyed Annette Navarro as Kathy Bridge. The ensemble is strong and the production values are lovely. Seeing the band on stage is an inspired choice. However, not everything works quite perfectly, notably the choreography (or lack thereof) and some peculiar character choices and direction. Joe Joseph sounds great but his character's quick switch from rebel to his brother's lapdog seems to come out of nowhere. And his brother, played with force by Darren Ritchie, is painted as kind of a villain and sort of a wiser than character, but neither one is quite defined. The costume design also seems to be unsure of what decade it's set in. According to the story, it should be the beginning of The Great Depression but there are shades of Jazz era 20's, the 1950's, and even modern day. Although the show is quite charming, it need some much-needed focus to really ground it.

Henry Aronson and Cailin Hefernan know how to strum up a catchy song. The songs in LOVELESS TEXAS are great; tuneful and full of joy. There's also A LOT of them, 19 songs in total, many of which don't actually move the plot. And some songs seem like they're about to end perfectly but then go on for several more verses, making you wish the song would just end. Which is a shame because the melodies are quite good (the song Draw The Line is a perfect example of a tuneful song that should be half the length). To put it simply, there's just too much music, and a good pair of trimming scissors is needed. With a bit of cutting and sharper character focus, LOVELESS TEXAS will really shine. Head down to The Sheen Center to see this great cast sing their hearts out, and I hope in the near future a slimmer, sharper version of LOVELESS TEXAS graces the stage once again. I'd quite like to revisit Loveless and these characters. I feel they'll only get stronger with age.

 

GRADE: B
Music and Lyrics by Henry Aronson Liberetto and Directed by Calin Heffernan Starring Joe Joseph, Darren Ritchie, Colin Barkell, Brett Bernowitz, John Herrera, CJ Eldred, Trisha Jeffrey, Amanda Lea Lavergne, Annette Navarro, Bligh Voth, Kimberly Jajuan, Chase Kamata Playing at The Sheen Center, 18 Bleeker Street.
For tickets and more info: https://sheencenter.org/shows/loveless/

 

 

Wednesday
Aug232017

WHOA // A THEATRE REVIEW OF "THERE IS NO SPOON: THE USUAL REJECTS"

BY MATEO MORENO

There are a lot of great comedy shows in New York, from The Pit to UCB, The Comedy Cellar to those wacky folks in SPAMILTON. But one of the most unique ones is the pack of misfits who call themselves "The Usual Rejects." Here's the concept: For each show they tackle a different movie. The audience sits down, the cast of the night is revealed and is told the rules of the game. The cast will do a staged reading, in costume, of the movie they are parodying. They include props, sound effects, and a lot of naughty curse words. Oh, did I mention that it's a drinking game? Because it is. If this all sounds familiar it might be because I did a write up of it here at "The ArtsWire Weekly" in 2015.

 

The latest incarnation was a one night event called THERE IS NO SPOON: THE MATRIX which finds them lampooning, you guessed it, The Matrix. The cast is compiled of some of the usual rejects of "The Usual Rejects" and some rookie faces. It also marked the last show featuring Kyle Kirkpatrick because he's moving to LA and becoming a foot fetish model (editor’s note: That may not be the exact reason he's moving to LA. To be honest, this was a drinking show and I had a lot of drinks). The rest of the cast included Deven Anderson (who created all of the amazing props), Stacey Ayn Price, Kirk Gostkowski, David Rey, Evan Bass and Matthew Bogorad. I thought about describing the plot of The Matrix to you here but if you haven't seen it, I don't think I would do it justice. So, I'll just wait here for you to go watch it (it's streaming on Netflix right now) and I'll see you when you're back.

 

....

 

 

....

Ah there you are! Man, what did you do, watch all three?! Yeah, that last one sucks. And the middle one ain't much better. But how about that first one?! Awesome right?! Yeah.... Okay, moving on.

Deven Andrerson takes on the lead role of Neo, Stacey Ayn Price is a leather clad Trinity, and David Rey is a Spanish version of Morpheus. The rest of the cast round up all the rest of the characters, with Kirk Gostkowski also doing the narration. To be frank, I've seen a lot of these, and they never get old. But I do believe this one was the best one yet (Betcha feel foolish for missing it now, don't you?). The props and "special effects" were hilarious and creative (giant 90's cell phones, two actors clad in black helping with the fight scenes, tiny short legs doing all the kicking, and a lot of Vaseline (you've seen the movie now so you know what I mean). The delivery veers from deadpan to overacting to just ridiculously funny. Everyone is clearly having a great time, including the audience. Beers are always cheap and no matter who the cast is, you will have a blast. As an extra bonus, there's a not so silent auction at the beginning and whoever wins the auction gets to play "God," stopping the show three times and force whoever they want in the cast to stop what they're doing and chug a whole beer. It's the one time you can be a prick in public and everyone will give you a high five. Their next show has yet to be announced but do yourself a favor: join their mailing list, check their website & their Facebook and get your ass to their next show. You can thank me later. At the show. Because I'll be there.

So, in conclusion, did I have a great time? Hey, I won a trivia question and won a FREE Rick & Morty toy. So... yeah. I have a pretty damn good time.

 

GRADE: A
Created by The Usual Rejects Starring  Deven Anderson, Kyle Kirkpatrick, Stacey Ayn Price, Kirk Gostkowski, David Rey, Evan Bass and Matthew Bogorad
Now closed by played The Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn NY. For more info on "The Usual Rejects" upcoming shows visit: http://www.usualrejects.com/

 

Friday
Jul282017

BOND. JANE BOND // A FILM REVIEW OF "ATOMIC BLONDE"

BY MATEO MORENO

For years now, people have been clamoring for a female James Bond. Well look no further. ATOMIC BLONDE has arrived. Based on the Graphic Novel The Coldest City written by Anthony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, Atomic follows Lorraine Broughton, an American spy working for M16. The backdrop is set against the end of the Cold War in 1989. We begin with Broughton being interviewed by her commanding officer (Toby Jones), the CIA chief (John Goodman), and a member of M16 (James Faulkner). She's covered in bruises, battered but cool as a cucumber. She tells her crazy tale to them which, as the best spy thrillers do, has many twists and turns. She arrives and is immediately ambushed before meeting a David Percival (James McAvoy), a British Spy. There's a informant named Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) who wants to get a one way ticket out of Berlin for him and his family. There's a French Spy Delphine (Sofia Boutella) that may become more than just a contact. The Berlin Wall is about to come crashing down and there's a mole within the ranks. But before she figures it out, everything around her will come crashing down with the wall in a very frenzied and stylish way.

Director David Leitch (John Wick, Deadpool 2) aims to make this stylish thriller a female "John Wick meets Bond" and for the most part he succeeds. But the plot and script does get bogged down in a few too many confusing or layer upon layer moments. But his eye knows stunts (he himself also being a stuntman) and the action is beautifully chaotic and thrilling to watch. However, the real reason to see Atomic is Charlize Theron. She elevates every scene from beyond a stylish thriller into something with more heart, with more soul. She also knows how to throw a punch and kick, as is very evident in her stunt scenes (which she performs most of). She's a badass but one who's not a Terminator killing machine. She can, and does, get hurt. She makes the right and wrong decisions. And her magnetism is magnetic. She shares great chemistry with both McAvoy and Boutella and even when the film falters her commitment with confusing arcs, she pulls us back in with her commitment and presence. ATOMIC BLONDE is a stylistic, non-stop action thrill ride. Earlier I said she is the female James Bond but I now correct myself. She's one better than that. She's Lorraine Broughton, and her performance is a damn original one.

 

MATEO'S GRADE: B

Based on the Graphic Novel "The Coldest City" by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart Screenplay by Kurt Johnstead Directed by David Leitch Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Sophia Boutella Now Playing in Theatres Everywhere

 

OFFICIAL RESTRICTED TRAILER: