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REVIEW: The Ding Dongs or What is the Penalty in Portugal?

September 14, 2011 7:33 pm0 comments

It’s difficult to describe Brenda Withers’ new play The Ding Dongs or What is the Penalty in Portugal? Absurdist? Yes. Funny? Yes. Horrifying? Absolutely.
The very first scene of the play is barely a scene at all. A man walks out his front door onto his porch and proceeds to eat an ice cream sandwich. As he does so, he calmly observes the world around him from the safety of his front steps and says not a word. The scene is brief and amusing, and it acts as the calm before the storm.
Redelmo (Marshall York) appears to be a regular guy; the kind of guy who could calmly eat an ice cream sandwich on his porch without rushing around to be anywhere or do anything. But when Natalie (Brenda Withers) and Joe (Tom Patrick Stephens), a married couple from out of town, arrive on his doorstep asking to come in and look around the house where Joe grew up, Redelmo loses that calm, easygoing manner. The couple work their way into the house after 20 minutes of trying to talk their way in. It isn’t until Joe suggests that Natalie use the bathroom that Redelmo acquiesces, letting her in out of pure civility. From that point, there is no turning back and Redelmo finds himself the victim of an oddly polite home invasion that gets more and more complicated as the one-act piece continues.

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REVIEW: Closet Cases

August 31, 2011 8:34 pm0 comments

Now in its second year in Provincetown, Closet Cases continues to offer poignant and amusing coming-out stories that will appeal to every audience member, whether they themselves have actually come out or not. (I say that because a straight couple sitting next to me on opening night seemed to be having the best time of anyone in the room!) The format is simple: storytellers (comedians, writers, actors) are on hand to tell their own coming-out stories—the good, the bad, and the hilarious—and it’s hard to leave this show without a smile on one’s face.
Every night the performers are different, although host and producer William Mullin is consistently on hand to open the show with his own tale of his mother, an Easter Sunday, a large box of wine, and a dog named Frisbee. Don’t ask: just go and find out for yourself!
Mullin moves the show along with special trivia questions (complete with prizes!) between each act, and one audience member is interviewed by Mullin to tell his or her coming-out story—with, of course, a prize for bravery!

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The First Lady of the Second City: Andrea Martin

8:13 pm0 comments

With an earthquake rattling the nation’s capital, Hurricane Irene blowing up the coast, and crazy ass Michele Bachmann rising in the polls, it does indeed seem like “end times.”  But it’s not the end of the world, just the summer, and these “final days” are going to be hilarious with the comic genius and legend Andrea Martin making her Provincetown debut in Andrea Martin: Final Days! Everything Must Go!!
Appearing as the closing show of the summer-long Broadway at the Art House series, Martin’s show features Seth Rudetsky on piano, the man who along with Mark Cortale produced the successful run, bringing some of the biggest names of the Great White Way to Provincetown. Rudetsky and Martin met when she made her Broadway debut in 1992 in My Favorite Year, for which she won a Tony Award. 
“He’s not going to like this, but I really didn’t remember him,” says Martin, with a sly chuckle. “But a few years later when he walked in the room to rehearse for Nude, Nude Totally Nude he began to recite every line I’ve ever uttered in every show I’ve been in. He’s kind of like Rainman. I love him.”
Born in Portland, Maine, and a graduate of Boston’s Emerson College, Martin is best known for her work on the legendary Canadian television show SCTV. Fresh out of college in 1971, Martin landed a role in a touring production of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown where she played Lucy.  She fell in love with the Canadian actor who played Linus and followed him to Toronto, where this time she fell in love with the city.  As an American with a Canadian husband, and two sons with dual citizenship, Martin keeps one foot in Toronto and the other in New York.

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Review: Alice in wonderland

August 30, 2011 9:02 pm0 comments

altWhen I was getting my seven-year-old son ready to go see the Pee Wee Players production of Alice in Wonderland at the Vixen last week, he asked which version we were going to see – was it the Disney film version or the more recent one with Johnny Depp in it? I told him I didn’t know but that Alice in Wonderland was actually a book, so I thought maybe it would be based on that version. The fact is, the Pee Wee version is not much like either film, and it is a good deal sillier than the book, which is good because although the play stars veterans of our local nightlife scene, like Billy Hough and Marc Guerrette, it is very much a children’s theater production.
In this musical version, Alice, played perfectly by Megan Ludlow, goes through the familiar trials and tribulations of exploring her imagination down a rabbit-hole. She follows the white rabbit, shrinks and enlarges, meets the Mad Hatter, and is threatened by the evil Red Queen with her “Off with their heads” obsession. The production sets itself apart from the rest with a very Provincetown camp sensibility, sets creatively designed (by Matthew Lazure) to remind you of an Ed Wood movie, and plenty of self-referential humor.

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REVIEW: Bakersfield Mist

August 24, 2011 2:44 pm0 comments

Unemployed bartender Maude Gutman (Paula Langton) thinks she’s won the lottery, and it’s not because of all those scratch tickets she’s buying. After a full day of dumpster diving and rummaging through thrift stores, she buys an “ugly” painting for three dollars to cheer up a friend with the blues in her Bakersfield, California, trailer park.  But the sight of it makes her friend shudder, plus the big canvas won’t fit in her trailer. While trying to unload it at a yard sale, Gutman’s told that perhaps that hideous painting might be a long lost work by Jackson Pollock…and that if it is, it’s worth $100 million. Gutman just needs Lionel Percy (Ken Cheeseman), a world-renowned art expert from New York, to authenticate the work and she’s living on Easy Street. But in their first meeting, two worlds collide in a burst of conflict over class, human frailty, and art itself, in the compelling and entertaining new play Bakersfield Mist.
Making its New England premiere at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater’s Julie Harris Stage, Bakersfield Mist is above all a wonderfully written play that initially introduces us to two caricatures: Maude the chain-smoking, booze-swilling, tough talking “broad” and Lionel, the savagely snotty, mincing Ivy League dandy, who is a merciless guardian of the elitist world in which he lives.  However, the two find that they have more in common than they want to admit, or reveal.

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REVIEW: The Food Chain

2:35 pm0 comments

altFans of the Provincetown Theater Company will be delighted to know that the nearly 50-year-old community theater troupe is back with a new production at the Provincetown Theater. More importantly, the play they have chosen is the hilarious The Food Chain by Nicky Silver, and under the direction of PTC veteran Patrick Falco, this show is a smashing success.
The Food Chain starts off in the apartment of a very high-strung, attractive poet Amanda (Braunwyn Jackett) who we quickly learn has lost her husband. I don’t mean he passed away, I mean he went out for a walk and hasn’t come back in two weeks. The chain-smoking, understandably stressed-out Amanda can’t reach her friend Binky on the phone, so she resorts to calling a crisis hotline, staffed by Bea (Lynda Sturner), a classic Jewish mother with too much time on her hands.
In the second scene, we meet another attractive individual, male model Serge (Aaron Tone), who is terrorized by a former lover, Otto (Brian Dunham), who simply will not let go of the “relationship” they once had.

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A Tardy Trio

2:31 pm0 comments

Several thousand years from now when archaeologists dig up the remnants of our society and based on the artifacts found seek to give it a name – like the Bronze Age or the Renaissance – they will most likely call it “The Age of Annoyance.” Cell phones, baby strollers as big as SUV’s, and a half-decaf triple soy latte will be on display in museums of the future as the tools used by the irritating tribes of loud day traders on their iPhones, mothers from suburban Connecticut who ignore their kids’ out of control behavior, and hipster douche bags. And much like the Druids or the priestesses of the Temple of Athena, history will remember Unitard as the High Priests of Comedy who commune with the gods of satire and irony providing a haven for refugees seeking safety in a world full of really annoying people.
The New York-based comedy trio features Mike Albo, Nora Burns, and David Ilku, all familiar names in the downtown Manhattan and Provincetown performance scenes, both for their individual accomplishments and group work.

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The Legends of the Atlantic House

August 17, 2011 5:00 am0 comments

altThe Atlantic House is, of course, a popular nightclub. But it is also a Provincetown institution with a chameleon-like ability to reflect and set the cultural tones for nightlife in town. Built in 1798, the A-House, as it’s popularly known, opened as a tavern run by Provincetown’s first postmaster Daniel Pease.  Now, it’s a nightlife hot spot where resident DJ David LaSalle spins and hosts parties with Thirsty Burlington and Mona Mour, welcoming thousands throughout the year to what some theorize is the oldest gay bar in America, with evidence of welcoming gay patrons dating back to the early 1900’s.
With its eclectic flair, the A-House is a veritable museum of Provincetown, but also of the night spot itself. Posted on the walls of the dance club, the Little Bar, and the Macho Room, are artifacts of days gone by, of different incarnations of the A-House. With over two centuries of history, the A-House has time and time and again been central to entertainment and nightlife in P’town. Tennessee Williams partied there (and wrote there as well!), Eugene O’Neill drank there, and a long list of celebrated artists hung out there. 

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I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Billy!

August 16, 2011 5:00 am0 comments

altBilly Hough was living in New Orleans and had joined a punk band called Surrender Dorothy not long after being part of a folk duo called Anubis in the late 1980’s. He didn’t like his voice, especially when compared to the hard edge his band mates had in their performance arsenal. He needed to rough it up; he needed to take some sandpaper to the smooth musical style he was used to.
“I would go home and listen to Nirvana and Janis Joplin and I screamed along to toughen up my voice,” says Hough. “I learned to scream.”
Those screaming sessions clearly paid off. The multi-talented Hough, along with bass player Sue Goldberg, are tearing through their sixth season of Scream Along With Billy, a cabaret night of rock and roll.  The two close friends created, and continue to produce, an intimate, raucous evening of music and stream-of-consciousness monologues.
“It all happened by accident,” says Hough, as to how Scream Along got its start in 2006.
Hough began playing the piano at the Porch Bar at the Gifford House at the invitation of bartender Bobby Blinn and manager Gregg Daniels. Performing several nights a week at the Gifford House, which he still does, was a risk for a rock and roll musician in a piano bar. In the beginning, Hough wasn’t exactly popular with the crowd at the Gifford House, he notes. But Daniels stood by him knowing that he would catch on, something Hough is grateful for, which is why he says the Gifford House is like a second home to him. When Blinn moved over to work at Enzo, he and manager Jen White offered Hough a performance slot. Not wanting to compete against himself, he decided to create something completely different.

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Anything Can Happen

5:00 am0 comments

altShe’s coming to Provincetown as a special and unexpected treat: Ana Gasteyer was scheduled to appear at the Art House but had to cancel because of scheduling conflicts with a new sitcom, and Christine Ebersole graciously agreed to appear in Ana’s place in the Art House Broadway series this summer. And the Art House couldn’t be more pleased. 
    “I am over the moon that Christine Ebersole is coming to Provincetown to play the Art House,” says producing artistic director Mark Cortale. “This is a dream booking for our Broadway at the Art House series, and I am thrilled that this new series has attracted such major talent so quickly. Seth Rudetsky, who hosts the series, says that Christine will be singing incredible songs and that she’ll also have hilarious stories to share.”
The woman whose show the Los Angeles Times described as a “tour-de-force … one of the most vivid performances” is arriving in Provincetown for two shows, August 20 and 21, and the time to get tickets is now.
So what is her favorite among the pieces she’ll be performing? “I have no idea,” she laughs. “I don’t even know what we’ll be doing, yet!”
Christine Ebersole is taking it all in stride, the same way that she’s taken most of her career. It’s a spectacular one, covering Broadway, off-Broadway, movies, and television. She won her second Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, as well as virtually every Off-Broadway award, for her “dual role of a lifetime” as Edith Beale and Little Edie Beale in Grey Gardens. The critically acclaimed musical was nominated for a total of ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the CD recording of the show was nominated for a Grammy Award.  

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