Tim J. Lord is the recipient of a 2023 Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts recognizing his work as a playwright. The Fellowships are competitive awards granted to New Jersey-based artists in 12 rotating disciplines in order to help them produce new work and advance their careers. For this fellowship Tim submitted his play WE DECLARE YOU A TERRORIST which the selection panel evaluated to be of “very high artistic quality.” He will use his fellowship funds to support the completion of his radical re-imagining of an Oedipus trilogy that resets the story in a contemporary version of Thebes and re-focuses the classic story on the people at the fringes of society who are forced to cope with the failures of their leaders.
Review: Mashuq Mushtaq Deen’s FLOOD at KC Rep
KCRep long-awaited debut at Copaken runs through February 19th.
Friday night saw the debut at the Copaken theatre of Mashuq Mushtaq Deen‘s Flood, an absurdist tragicomedy making its first appearance on stage courtesy of the KC Rep. This reviewer has always been a fan of absurdist theatre, so it was with considerable excitement that she attended the evening’s performance, eager to see a premiere that has come a mere 3 years after its workshop reading in 2019 (thanks again, covid). Happily, this reviewer can safely say she was not disappointed.
Flood takes place in a cozy, midcentury modern apartment on the 19th floor where Darren (Matt DeCaro) and Edith (Laura T. Fisher) live in quiet retirement, a pair of boomer empty-nesters marking time. The names, by the way, are no coincidence: the relentlessly cheery domestic sitcoms of the 50’s and 60’s are an ongoing motif in the play. It is very much the world that the couple has created for themselves: clean, domestic, and isolated from the not-so-niceties of the outside.
During the play, Darren (wearing what one might call his “Father Knows Best” mask) labors away at his “great work”, a baffling construction of toothpicks and glue. Edith, ever the pleasant and patient hausfrau, hovers by his side, waiting for the moment that the work is done, when at last they shall have tea, enjoy their Very Nice View, and all questions will be answered. So far, so Beckett. But the story really takes an extra dimension when the pair’s grown children, Darren Jr. and Edith Jr. (Darrington Clark and Jamie Morrow, respectively) enter the picture. The two children, having moved down to the lower floors of the same building with families of their own, try desperately to raise the alarm: the building is flooding, the water is rising, and they are scared for themselves and their families.
Their protestations are less than successful: the elders, having grown up in a world where such things Do Not Happen, are unable to comprehend what they are being told. Darren Sr., in particular, refuses even to speak directly to them, too wrapped up in his “magnum opus”. But as the waters rise, and the view outside becomes less and less familiar, even they have to eventually reckon with the world.
The production is a clever one, very well staged in a way that lets the world gradually intrude itself into the main characters’ lives. The view outside the windows slowly transitions until there is nothing but blue, blue, blue. The books of unanswerable questions (which Edith has been carefully writing down for the glorious day when the work is done) grow and accumulate around the couple until it seems a wave is about to come crashing down on them. Mr. Deen’s script is witty and skillful, taking us step by step through the story and keeping a good balance of humor and tension. There were no weak spots in the cast, though special mention must be made of Ms. Fisher who ably carries the great bulk of the play.
Overall, Flood is a splendid work, a truly contemporary take on absurdist theatre written with sharp and fresh relevance. It is first and foremost a story of generations: of the ones that were raised in one world and imparted the values of that world to a generation that finds itself in a very different one. Those of the protagonists’ generation will recognize the bafflement of finding themselves in a time where the old rules seemingly no longer apply. To the younger viewers, the frustration of the children trying to make their progenitors understand will no doubt ring all too familiar. And to the very pleasant older lady in the elevator on the way out who loudly asked if anyone could tell her “what all that was about”, the answer, dear lady, is that it is about time that you looked out the goddamn window.
Tickets available HERE at KC Rep, performances through Feb. 19, 2023
Review by Kelly Luck for Broadway World
Want to gift a book? Let the best of Philly writers help featuring Jacqueline Goldfinger
Airea D. Matthews, Emma Copley Eisenberg, Nikil Saval, Warren C. Longmire, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, and Greg Pizzoli come through with book recs this holiday season.
by Julia Shipley, For The Inquirer
Dec 19, 2022
Philadelphia is packed with literary talent. We chased after some of the city’s finest to ask what projects they’re working on, and got them to suggest what books (and tickets!) to gift this holiday season.
Author Jacqueline Goldfinger is a Philadelphia-based playwright and author of “Playwriting with Purpose” and “Writing Adaptations and Translations for the Stage” (co-written with Allison Horsley).
For your loved one who wants words that leap off the page … and onto the stage
Who: Jacqueline Goldfinger is a Philadelphia-based playwright and author of Playwriting with Purpose and Writing Adaptations and Translations for the Stage (cowritten with Allison Horsley), published by Routledge. They are also the cofounder and director of creative affairs at Tripwire Harlot Press.
Currently working on: Goldfinger’s opera, Alice Tierney, will premiere at the Oberlin Opera Company in January. The libretto, written in collaboration with Philadelphia-based composer Melissa Dunphy, is based on an infamous true murder story from the days of colonial Philadelphia and features Penn archaeology students who excavate Tierney’s home to figure out what really happened to her. Goldfinger is also premiering a new choral work, A Bright Morning Dawns with Philadelphia conductor and composer Dominick DiOrio of the Mendelssohn Chorus. And their new play, Backwards Forwards Back, will premiere in 2023.
Holiday season rec: Three Plays by Christina Anderson, Rarities and Wonders by Phillip Howze, and Doodles from the Margins: Three Plays by Hansol Jung. Fans of Anderson’s play, How to Catch Creation, (produced at Philadelphia Theatre Company), and fans of Jung’s plays, Wolf Play and Among the Dead — both performed at Theatre Exile — will enjoy the latest works from these powerful playwrights. Goldfinger says these books include visual art alongside the text, “They’re mini-performances on the page.”
Silicon Valley TheatreWorks’ ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Directed by Jeffrey Lo, is a kick in the plants
Forget the poinsettias and celebrate this holiday season with an Audrey II. Perennial stage favorite “Little Shop of Horrors” is blooming in the Bay Area for a second time this year (Another production was mounted at the Berkeley Playhouse in the spring) at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley), and for good reason.
With its pop-culture savvy book and lyrics by the late gay writer Howard Ashman, a zippy 1950s pastiche score by Alan Menken and an off-kilter monster movie-meets-“Sesame Street” scenario adapted from Roger Corman’s grindhouse classic, “Little Shop” offers family-friendly entertainment (Let’s say for ages 10 and up) with a full stratum of funny subterranean dirt for adults to dig while the kids remain oblivious.
Chief among the musical’s adult pleasures is the sadistic dentist, Orin Scrivello, played here to puffed up perfection by Nick Nakashima. Under the wise direction of Jeffrey Lo, he combines the looming but cartoonish physical presence of a parade float with an endlessly elastic repertoire of facial expressions to simultaneously portray and undermine his potentially problematic character. (Orin physically and psychologically abuses shop girl Audrey, played by Sumi Yu, who effectively conveys a growing confidence as the show progresses).
Late in the second act, Nakashima nearly steals the show altogether, unexpectedly popping up in three smaller roles —one of which is female— in rapid succession. But complete larceny is impossible given the wealth of talent on stage here.
In addition to Yu, whose comic sweetness feels entirely natural, Phil Wong turns in a deliciously self-conscious Seymour, keeping you on his side even when his dorkyness turns to darkness; and the Motown Greek chorus of Ronette, Chiffon and Crystal (Lucca Troutman, Alia Hodge and Naima Alakham) aces their giggle-inducing blend of choreographic slinkiness and editorial side-eye.
If Ashman and Menken, who also wrote the lyrics and music for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid,” are role models for teamwork, their standard is lived up to by this production’s puppetry crew. Matthew McAvenue Creations’ design, Brandon Leland’s remarkably expressive manipulation and Katrina Lauren McGraw’s disco diva vocals combine to give Audrey II, the man-eating plant, an alluring vegetal vavoom.
As Mr. Mushnik, Seymour and Audrey’s boss, Lawrence-Michael C. Arias’ turns in another yet another laugh-out-loud performance. He takes a character usually played with the exaggerated shtetl schmaltz of a downtown Tevye and instead pushes the caricature full-on Filipino, complete with thick accent (Think: “Ip I were a rich man!”).
Director Lo’s decision to make this switch from “Oy!” to Pinoy, trading one comic stereotype for another, feels clever given Arias’ background, and inoffensive given the show’s broad brush humor (The character’s name remains Mushnik; Wong’s Chinese-American Seymour’s similarly semitic surname is “Krelborn”).
Unfortunately, in marketing this otherwise top-notch production, Lo and TheatreWorks have effortfully stressed the fact that they’ve set their “Little Shop” in San Francisco’s Chinatown and cast mainly AAPI actors. It’s great to see representation, but other than a bit of set-dressing —a tail-wagging cat clock, a mural of Bruce Lee, Chinese characters on store signage— the shift feels largely irrelevant otherwise.
There’s a little rainbow flag by the cash register and a photo of Harvey Milk (next to a headshot of former SF Giants’ Tim Lincecum) pinned to the flower shop wall; a nice little bit of queer and local representation on stage, yes. But is there any deep meaning? Might Mushnik be growing pansies? I noticed these clever details without a press release extolling their virtues.
“Little Shop” is a smart, silly comedy. TheaterWorks’ noise about its version subtly addressing issues including Chinatown gentrification and domestic violence in the Asian-American community feels overstated and unattractively opportunistic. There’s a theater marketing strategist who deserves a meeting with Audrey II.
‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ through Dec. 24. $30-$100. Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. (877) 662-8978 www.theatreworks.org
Article by Jim Gladstone for The Bay Area Reporter
‘The Wiz’ Aims for Broadway After a U.S. Tour
Schele Williams will direct and JaQuel Knight is choreographing a new production of the show, with additional material by Amber Ruffin. It will start its tour in Baltimore.
The Tony Award-winning musical “The Wiz” will be landing on Broadway for a limited run in the spring of 2024, after a national tour next year, producers announced on Thursday. The tour will start in Baltimore, where the musical made its original debut.
“The Wiz,” inspired by L. Frank Baum’s children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” had an all-Black cast, and premiered on Broadway in 1975. It netted seven Tonys, including best musical.
For the director of this reimagined “The Wiz,” Schele Williams, the work is personal. “I wouldn’t be on Broadway if it wasn’t for ‘The Wiz,’” Williams said in a statement, adding, “Seeing that show changed my life.”
Williams is a founding member of Black Theater United and serves on the board of trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This will be the first time she has directed a show on Broadway; she previously served as an associate director on the Broadway production of “Motown: The Musical,” and she performed on Broadway in “Aida” and “Rent.”
This version of the musical is choreographed by JaQuel Knight and contains musical arrangements, music supervision and orchestrations by Joseph Joubert. It will also feature additional material by Amber Ruffin, and the original Tony-winning score by Charlie Smalls.
The original show ran for four years and had 1,672 performances on Broadway. In 1978, a film adaptation included stars like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne.
Article by Khalia Richardson for the New York Times.