Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #12

Here is our final "hot list" for the 2008 New York International Fringe Festival. These 10 shows were the most popular on nytheatre.com yesterday, August 23rd:

1. KNB - the musical
2. Mare Cognitum
3. 2 by Sinner: Unburthen (To My Soul's Delight!) & If Water Were Present It Would Be Called Drowning
4. Galatea
5. The Boy in the Basement
6. Wildboy '74
7. Keep Your Eyes Open
8. A Fire as Bright as Heaven
9. Baby Cow
10. Paper Dolls

Saturday, August 23, 2008

FringeNYC Reviews -- All Done!

nytheatre.com has reviewed all 201 shows in the 2008 New York Internation Fringe Festival! This is the seventh year in a row that we've reviewed everything in FringeNYC. Thanks to our amazing all-volunteer squad of 68 theatre artists (actors, playwrights, directors, stage managers, designers, dramaturgs, etc.) who made this happen--who wrote thoughtful, honest full-length reviews of every show in this year's festival.

The reviews are here: http://www.nytheatre.com/nytheatre/fnyc08_reviews.php

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #11

Here are the top ten most-read FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com for August 22nd:

1. Krapp, 39
2. A Fire as Bright as Heaven
3. 2 by Sinner: Unburthen (To My Soul's Delight!) & If Water Were Present It Would Be Called Drowning
4. KNB - the musical
5. FACE (Every Good Boy Does Fine)
6. SPITE
7. The Refugee Girls Revue: A Musical Parody
8. Keep Your Eyes Open
9. @lice in www.onderland
10. Other Bodies

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #10

Here is the list of the ten most read reviews for FringeNYC on nytheatre.com yesterday, August 21st:

1. Krapp, 39
2. FACE (Every Good Boy Does Fine)
3. KNB - the musical
4. 2 by Sinner: Unburthen (To My Soul's Delight!) & If Water Were Present It Would Be Called Drowning
5. Galatea
6. Tune Up, Faulty Piston!
7. Keep Your Eyes Open
8. Underwear; A Space Musical
9. Usher
10. The Redheaded Man

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #9

Here is the list of the ten most read FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com for yesterday, August 20th:

1. Galatea
2. Krapp, 39
3. CONTROL
4. Tough Guys Don't Shoot Blanks
5. The Redheaded Man
6. KNUCKLEBALL
7. The Corn Maiden
8. The Refugee Girls Revue: A Musical Parody
9. Underwear; A Space Musical
10. One Seat in the Shade

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #8

Here's the list of the 10 most popular FringeNYC show reviews on nytheatre.com for August 19th:

1. Galatea
2. Krapp, 39
3. Knuckleball
4. The Redheaded Man
5. The Disappearance of Jonah
6. @lice in www.onderland
7. A Fire as Bright as Heaven
8. Tune Up, Faulty Piston!
9. The Golden Aurora
10. Underwear; A Space Musical

FringeNYC Isn't Just Little Plays

From today's New York Times, in an article by Anita Gates that looks at a few FringeNYC offerings:
Here are some things I have learned about the 12th annual New York International Fringe Festival recently. You do not want to arrive late for a performance. (They won’t let you in.) Six actors is considered a huge cast. The most popular (and possibly least expensive) set is a bed placed center stage. Suffolk Street is not within easy walking distance of Commerce Street.

I won't dispute the first or last of the things that Ms. Gates says she's learned, because they're true (though a quick glance at a map would have told her how far Suffolk Street is from Commerce Street; they're just where they always have been, after all).

I will dispute the assertion that a bed is the most popular set -- of the 11 plays that I have seen personally at this year's festival, I have yet to see a single bed. I HAVE seen all manner of inventive stage design, much of it spare and engaging the audience's imagination (in works like The Umbrella Plays and Krapp, 39).

But the statement that rankles most here--putting aside the fact that something along the lines of "The New York International Fringe Festival is offering [better, worse, wonderful, awful] theatre experiences for audiences this year" might have been a more appropriate opening for this article--is the one that implies that FringeNYC shows are dinky in size. This is simply not true. KNB boasts a cast of 23, more than most shows on Broadway. Of the 9 shows I've seen this year that were not solo shows, more than half had more than six people in them. And there are plenty of other shows with large casts in the festival--in part because the festival is designed to accommodate them in ways that more conventional off-off-Broadway producing arrangements cannot.

I'd love to see the Times celebrate the vitality and diversity of the FringeNYC, not complain about its inconvenience and presumed diminutiveness. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #7

Here's the latest list of the most popular reviews of FringeNYC shows on nytheatre.com -- this is for Monday, August 18th:

1. Krapp, 39
2. @lice in www.onderland
3. The Redheaded Man
4. KNB - the musical
5. Good Pictures
6. Knuckleball
7. Underwear; A Space Musical
8. 2 by Sinner: Unburthen (To My Soul's Delight!) & If Water Were Present It Would Be Called Drowning
9. The Seven Little Foys
10. Tune Up, Faulty Piston!

Monday, August 18, 2008

FringeNYC--nytheatre.com Reviewers' Favorites

There's still one full week of the New York International Fringe Festival--plenty of time to enjoy a show or two! Our reviewers have weighed in on about three-fourths of the offerings by now, and I thought I'd quickly share some of their favorites with you.

This is not a comprehensive list of all the shows that have gotten positive reviews -- just a short list of 30 productions that really seem to have gotten our reviewers jazzed. I'm only including shows here that have at least 2 upcoming performances this week:

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #6

Here is a list of the top ten most-read FringeNYC show reviews on nytheatre.com for yesterday, August 17th:

1. KNB - the musical
2. Krapp, 39
3. A FIRE AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN
4. One Seat in the Shade
5. The Redheaded Man
6. The Johnny
7. JOHNNY LAW, Courtroom Crusader
8. Underwear; A Space Musical
9. KNUCKLEBALL
10. Behold The Bowery!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #5

Here's the list of the ten most popular FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com for yesterday, August 16th:

1. Krapp, 39
2. Underwear; A Space Musical
3. The Redheaded Man
4. Tune Up, Faulty Piston!
5. The Boss in the Satin Kimono
6. One Seat in the Shade
7. The Grecian Formula
8. The Umbrella Plays
9. Mourn the Living Hector
10. Panopticon

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #4

These are the top ten most-read reviews of FringeNYC shows on nytheatre.com for yesterday, August 15th:

1. Krapp, 39
2. Underwear; A Space Musical
3. The Pantyhose Grid
4. Big Thick Rod
5. The Permanent Night
6. The Boss in the Satin Kimono
7. Lecture, with Cello
8. There Will Come Soft Rains
9. Thoroughly Stupid Things (or the Continuous Importance of Being Earnest)
10. Paper Dolls

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #3

Here's our top ten list for August 14th: these are the shows at FringeNYC whose reviews were read by the most people yesterday.

1. Fancy Guts & Ghosts
2. Tune Up, Faulty Piston!
3. Eagle Squadron GO!
4. Krapp, 39
5. There Will Come Soft Rains
6. Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (tie)
6. FELL (tie)
6. The Boy in the Basement (tie)
9. Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire
10. Thoroughly Stupid Things (or the Continuous Importance of Being Earnest)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's Hot at FringeNYC - Daily Update #2

Here's the list of the ten most popular reviews on nytheatre.com on Wed, Aug 13, for shows at the New York International Fringe Festival:

1. Baby Cow
2. One Seat in the Shade
3. SPITE
4. Anais Nin Goes to Hell
5. The Legislative Process
6. Fancy Guts & Ghosts
7. Tune Up, Faulty Piston!
8. The Boy in the Basement
9. Lydia's Funeral Video
10. The Gay No More Telethon


All of nytheatre.com's FringeNYC reviews can be found here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer and Smoke Talkback - Aug 27th

I'll be hosting a talkback at the Aug 27th performance of SUMMER AND SMOKE at the Clurman Theatre. Here's the official info:
The Big Sky Theatre Company is proud to present a special post-show Talk-Back with Martin Denton of nytheatre.com, following the 8:00 pm performance of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row on August 27th, 2008. The Talk-Back will include the cast of Summer and Smoke and director Tlaloc Rivas. Tickets for this and all performances can be purchased at Ticket Central, 212-279-4200. Summer and Smoke will be performed Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $18.00.You can also purchase tickets online at: http://www.ticketcentral.com/.
I've never done a talkback about a Williams play...and Williams is certainly one of my all-time favorites among American playwrights. So this should be a very interesting conversation!

Most Popular Shows at FringeNYC

Loyal blog readers, I've decided to bring back a feature I started last year--daily reporting of the most popular shows at the New York International Fringe Festival, based on the number of folks who click on their reviews on nytheatre.com. I hope people enjoy this, and that it provides at least a bit of guidance as to what's "hot" at FringeNYC this year.

All of nytheatre.com's FringeNYC reviews can be found here.

Here's the top ten list for August 12:

1. Tune Up, Faulty Piston!
2. Eagle Squadron GO!
3. The Boy in the Basement
4. Anais Nin Goes to Hell
5. Behold The Bowery!
6. The Gay No More Telethon
7. The Permanent Night
8. The Umbrella Plays
9. Woodhull: A Play About the Woman Who Ran for President
10. More Than Pants

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm on WBAI Today

I've been asked to preview this year's New York International Fringe Festival on Cat Radio Cafe on WBAI (99.5 FM). I'm scheduled to go on at about 2:10pm with host Janet Coleman. Info about streaming the broadcast is here.

Should be fun! I hope some folks will be listening.

Here's the link to the interview: http://archive.wbai.org/files/mp3/080811_140001crcafe.MP3
My segment starts about 40 minutes in.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Suspicious Package

As my Facebook friends may already know, last Saturday I saw/was in Suspcious Package, the ingenious interactive "iPod noir" devised by Gyda Arber and Wendy Coyle. This show was originally part of the Brick's "Film Festival: A Theatre Festival" and has proved popular enough to extend in an open-ended engagement. It plays on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and I can't recommend it highly enough.



The operative word here is "plays": this is theatre that the audience makes on its own. Yet it is the safest, most comfortable form of interactive theatre I've ever participated in.



Daniel Kelley reviewed the piece for nytheatre.com at the festival last June; read his review--it really sums up the experience beautifully and I haven't got much to add to it. Then go here and make your reservation.



Major kudos to Gyda and Wendy. Their painstaking efforts have made this one of the most exciting, innovative, an fun new theatre pieces of the year. I applaud particularly the way they have crafted this show so that audiences are almost guaranteed a comfy, warm, rewarding experience.



One of the things Gyda does at each show is take pictures of her four audience members/actors "in costume." Here's the quartet I was in:



How To FringeNYC

On Friday (August 8th, from 1pm - 3pm), I am hosting a portion of the Opening Ceremonies at the New York International Fringe Festival at FringeCENTRAL. I'll be introducing some sneak previews of shows appearing in this year's festival, chatting with festival participants/local celebrities, and offering some advice about how to get the most out of FringeNYC. I want you to come to the Opening Ceremonies if you can, so I won't give away all of what I'm planning to say here.


But I would like to reflect here in the nytheatre i on how I learned HOW TO FRINGENYC. Every year I think I do it a little bit better; and every year I try to share what I know with as many people as possible.


At the first FringeNYC festival, back in 1997, I didn't have any idea what to expect. But as soon as I arrived at FringeCENTRAL that year (which, as I recall, was at The Piano Store on Ludlow Street), I was greeted by a man who I now know was named Mark Lonergan, who handed me a postcard and said, "Hi, come see my show!" (It was called WHITE/NOISE/JUMP and was unlike anything I'd ever seen before--I loved it.)


Mark taught me my first lesson of HOW TO FRINGENYC, which is that traditional advertising doesn't matter very much in this festival, but the personal touch means absolutely everything.


The next year, that lesson was amplified by several artists who had become aware of the then still-new website nytheatre.com and invited me to cover their work at the 1998 festival. (Among them were Tim Cusack and Ken Urban, both of whose work I continue to follow to this day.)


In 1999, I sat down one day in late July with the festival's co-founder (and then-artistic director) John Clancy for a walk through the program guide. From John I learned two important lessons that I repeat to this day: (1) Get recommendations from your friends; and (2) Don't always listen to them. This is true, I swear: John was near the end of the program guide, in the "U" section, and came to a show and said: "Now this show here, this is like 3 hours long and I just don't know -- it could be great but it could be absolutely terrible. You can probably skip it." The show was, as you've probably guessed, Urinetown.


In 2001, NYTE produced our very first FringeNYC preview event in conjunction with the opening of FringeCENTRAL. By this time, we had published a couple of volumes of our Plays and Playwrights anthologies and gotten to know many of the artists participating in the festival; we had folks from five of that year's shows appear in a mini-variety show at the Present Company Theatorium to give audiences a flavor of what was in store. This modest show--which featured such titles as Halo and The Elephant Man-The Musical--turned out to be the prototype for our nytheatrecast FringeNYC preview series which we started last summer. The lesson here being, obviously, that nothing gives you a better idea of what you might like to see at FringeNYC than some free samples.


The following year I was invited to co-host the FringeCENTRAL Grand Opening. We started with a presentation at the Theatorium where, for the first time, I presented my public "lecture" on HOW TO FRINGENYC. (The entire crowd then traipsed, in the rain, several blocks to Orchard Street to the first free-standing FringeCENTRAL location in the festival's history.)


I am proud to say that the FringeNYC folks asked me to repeat this little "course" at FringeNYC Opening Ceremonies in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and now this year.


Every year I think about what I should say when I'm asked HOW TO FRINGENYC--i.e., how to make the most of a festival that, for its sheer size and scope, is impossible for any single person to navigate. Every year, my bottom line answer is: immerse yourself in the festival and have a blast. This is your once-a-year chance to see theatre of every shape, size, and style for a relatively low outlay of time and money. Don't follow the crowd or follow the hype; follow your curiosity instead.

nytheatre.com provides previews written by festival artists and will this year (for the 7th year in a row) review every show in FringeNYC. Why do we do this? So that audiences can make their own decisions about what to see in the festival, rather than relying on the limiting and reductive choices made in other media outlets. FringeNYC, ultimately, is all about choice.

Join me at the Opening Ceremonies on Friday and then stay tuned to nytheatre.com as we cover every one of this year's 201 productions. You will see our reviews by August 9th.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A New Kind of Premium Pricing on Broadway

Kudos to Playbill Online for this article, which informs us that several Broadway shows, such as the incoming revival of The Seagull and Gypsy, are now charging extra for aisle seats. The Seagull, for example, is charging $110 for orchestra seats but $135 for seats on the aisle (which can only be purchased in pairs). (Note that these are the prices for non-"premium" seats, which go for $252.)

Not only is this new pricing structure sort-of reprehensible, it has also been implemented without much in the way of notice. The press releases I've received for The Seagull have not included any pricing information, and the official announcement of ticket prices that nytheatre.com received from Tele-charge (as one of their affiliate websites) shows the top ticket price as $110. So I applaud Playbill for breaking this story.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Where Exactly Is the Beaten Track?

Here's a sentence from the end of Sam Thielman's rave review (in Variety) for Larry Kunofsky's new play What to Do When You Hate All Your Friends:

The worst thing about this silly, stellar production is that it's puttering
along at a tiny theater off the beaten track in Midtown.


The theatre is the Lion, in Theatre Row (42nd St just west of Ninth Avenue). Come on, Sam, the Lion is a lovely intimate theatre (not "tiny" by a long shot)...and if a block away from Times Square is off the beaten track, then I need to know where the beaten track actually is.

Another example of the disrespect that indie theater has to put up with in the mainstream media, seemingly more and more.