Sunday, August 30, 2009

Report From FringeNYC #14

Today is the final day of the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival. I thought it was one of the best FringeNYCs ever -- and so did nytheatre.com's reviewers. A public thank you--a BIG ONE--is in order to our reviewers: without them, we would not have been able to review all 201 shows in this year's festival!

FringeNYC Encores shows will be announced later today, I believe; we're looking forward to learning which of the 201 shows will be sticking around for awhile.

And of course life after FringeNYC begins tomorrow. The fall season is shaping up to be an exciting one. Watch for coverage of it on nytheatre.com!

To close out this year's FringeNYC, here is the final list of popular shows -- the top five most-read reviews from yesterday:
  1. Zipperface!!?!: The Hobo Musical
  2. The Boxer
  3. Sorority Queen in a Mobile Home
  4. Ukrainian Eggs: Terrible Tales of Tragedy and AlleGorey
  5. Muffin Man

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #13

Last night at about 9:50pm I posted the 201st 2009 FringeNYC review on nytheatre.com (it was Jen & Angie, for the record). And with that, nytheatre.com completed our coverage of this 13th annual New York International Fringe Festival. For the eighth year in a row, we reviewed every show in the festival. (And I believe we reviewed it more quickly than ever before.)

There's still a weekend of Fringe-ing left, and with this soggy weather, seeing a show or 2 indoors is a great way to spend today! Here's the last batch of shows that were declared noteworthy at this year's festival by our reviewers:

And here's the list of the top five most-read reviews of FringeNYC shows on nytheatre.com yesterday:

  1. The Boxer
  2. Ukrainian Eggs: Terrible Tales of Tragedy and AlleGorey
  3. Zipperface!!?!: The Hobo Musical
  4. Romeo and Toilet
  5. Love Money: A Recession Rock Musical

Friday, August 28, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #12

I just posted review #199 on nytheatre.com this morning--that means we have only 2 reviews left before we complete our coverage of FringeNYC 2009. It feels like one of the best festivals ever. Here are the recent starred reviews that appeared on our site:

And here is the list of the five most-read FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com for yesterday:

  1. Love Money: A Recession Rock Musical
  2. Poppy! An Enchanted Evening with Poppy Bulova
  3. Far Out -- The New Sci-Fi Musical Comedy
  4. Sorority Queen in a Mobile Home
  5. Circuits

My final report on the 13th annual New York International Fringe Festival will be posted this weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

50/50 in 2020: Parity for Women Theatre Artists

Last night, playwright Crystal Skillman (who is an occasional contributor to the nytheatre i blog) attended a very exciting event at the Julia Miles theatre – 50/50 in 2020: Parity for Women Theatre Artists, a panel and working event sponsored by the League of Professional Theatre Women, New Perspectives Theatre Company, and Women’s Project. Crystal has this to say about the event:
The Julia Miles Theatre was literally packed--almost every seat full! The approach to this issue was discussed in an extremely proactive way by the panelists, who included Melody Brooks, Susan Jonas, Julie Crosby, Elizabeth Van Dyke, Linda Winer, Alexis Greene, Milly Barranger, and Natatia L. Griffith. The problem was covered from several angles tackling the hardships playwrights face in general, especially women playwrights, in terms of getting productions and being published. There was an emphasis of the need for all women theatre artists (playwrights, directors, actors, designers, etc.) to understand their own history, as the canon of early women playwrights and their productions is less discussed or in most cases just ignored. From gaining equal pay to gaining coverage of women’s theatre work and criticism of this work at a time when print itself is in such crisis, and a new age is forming with criticism online – it was quite a conversation. Perhaps most excitingly, the second part of the night consisted of breaking into smaller working groups where solutions to the problem were brainstormed.

Crystal is going to be filing a much longer report on the panel for the nytheatre i later this week -- please check back for details about this important discussion of an important subject.

Report from FringeNYC #11

We're coutning down toward the end of the festival. Watch nytheatre.com today for many reviews of the newest shows that have just begun their runs at FringeNYC.

Yesterday's top five most-read reviews on nytheatre.com were:
  1. 6 Seconds in Charlack
  2. Muffin Man
  3. Series 6.2: Paint on Canvas
  4. Zipperface!!?!: The Hobo Musical
  5. The Confessional

And here are the new gems we reviewed yesterday--the shows that earned starred reviews on nytheatre.com:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #10

We're in the final week of FringeNYC 2009 now, and there are still lots of remarkable shows out there to see! Here are some that we posted reviews for yesterday on nytheatre.com that seem especially notable:

And here's the list of the five most-read FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com yesterday:

  1. Muffin Man
  2. The Confessional
  3. Population: 8
  4. Series 6.2: Paint on Canvas
  5. Art's Heart

I'm going to close today's post with a link to the blog of one of this year's FringeNYC artists. Please take a look at what David Hansen (And Then You Die: How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years) has to say about the reviews his show received. Very gratifying!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #9

Happy Monday! Here are the top-ten most read FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com for Sunday, August 23:
  1. Population: 8
  2. Zipperface!!?!: The Hobo Musical
  3. The K of D, an urban legend
  4. 666
  5. Mr. Sensitivity

And here are the shows we reviewed yesterday that struck us as being special, earning starred reviews on nytheatre.com:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #8

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

1. Zipperface!!?!: The Hobo Musical
2. Mr. Sensitivity
3. A Midsummer Night's Dream
4. And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes
5. all over.

We've reached the three-quarter mark in terms of reviewing the New York International Fringe Festival -- as of now, we have 154 out of 201 shows reviewed. Keep watching nytheatre.com for the remaining 47 reviews this week! The newest starred reviews (i.e., particularly noteworthy shows) include:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #7

Here's today's look at what's hot in the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival.

First, here are the shows that nytheatre.com's reviewers found especially exciting yesterday (starred reviews):

And now here are the top five most-read reviews on nytheatre.com yesterday:

1. all over.
2. A Midsummer Night's Dream
3. The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour
4. The Songs of Robert
5. Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party

More tomorrow!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Report From FringeNYC #6

We're now about 60% complete in our mission to review all of the shows in this year's FringeNYC Festival. Yesterday, as ever, nytheatre.com's reviewers found a number of noteworthy shows that we are giving starred reviews to:

The variety is staggering, isn't it?

Here are the five most-read FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com from yesterday:

1. Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party
2. The Jungle Fun Room
3. Tell It To Me Slowly
4. Cephalopod: A Play Below Sea Level
5. And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #5

One of the things I love best about FringeNYC is that every time I see a show in the festival, without fail, I will always bump into at least one (and usually more than one) colleague. On Monday, when I saw Venus at the Flamboyan Theatre, I ran into Donna Jean Fogel and Becca Lindstrom, who were on their way out of the FringeNYC show they're appearing in, MoM-A Rock Concert Musical. On Tuesday, at American Jataka Tales, I chatted with playwright/director Vincent Marano (of Confirmation). And last night, at Candide Americana, I was delighted to run into nytheatre.com reviewer J Jordan, who was seeing the same show as a "civilian."

FringeNYC really is about community.

Ok, here are the truly worthy shows discovered by nytheatre.com's reviewers yesterday:

And now here's the list of the top five most-read FringeNYC reviews on nytheatre.com yesterday:

1. Pie-Face! The Adventures of Anita Bryant
2. VIRAL
3. Finger Paint
4. High Plains
5. And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #4

Are you having a good time at this year's FringeNYC Festival? I am, and I think lots of our reviewers at nytheatre.com are, too. Do send in your recommendations and comments.

Yesterday, we posted 16 more reviews of shows in the festival. The ones that really struck our reviewers as worthy (the "starred" reviews) included:

And here's the list of the five most-read reviews on nytheatre.com yesterday:

1. La Ronde
2. I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL!
3. Dominate Yourself!
4. The Office and the Metal Blob
5. Forest Maiden

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #3

Last night I posted nytheatre.com's 50th review of FringeNYC 2009 -- we're just about a quarter of the way through the festival.

Our reviewers continue to spot great work out there! Here's a list of the starred reviews (representing noteworthy shows) that we posted yesterday:

And for those interested in what's hot, here are the top five most-read reviews on nytheatre.com from yesterday:

1. I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL!
2. Inferno: The New Rock Musical
3. Hatching
4. A Fine Line
5. Buddy Becker's Big Uncut Flick

Monday, August 17, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #2

The reviews continue to flow in for the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival, and nytheatre.com's staff has found some more gems for you to check out! Here are the starred reviews we posted yesterday (starred reviews indicate particularly noteworthy work):

Here are the top five most read reviews on nytheatre.com yesterday:

1. I Can Haz Cheezburger: The MusicLOL!
2. VOTE!
3. The Motherline
4. Flight
5. 38 Witnessed Her Death, I Witnessed Her Love: The Lonely Secret of Mary Ann Zielonko (Kitty Genovese Story)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Report from FringeNYC #1

So we've started posting reviews of shows at FringeNYC on nytheatre.com in a big way already: there are 15 reviews online as I write these words. And our reviewers have already identified some work they really admire. The following are the starred reviews that we posted yesterday (starred means we think the show has many noteworthy elements):

Also, let me share with you the top 5 most-read reviews on nytheatre.com yesterday:

1. Remission
2. Inferno: The New Rock Musical
3. Truth Values: One Girl's Romp Through MIT's Male Math Maze
4. 38 Witnessed Her Death, I Witnessed Her Love: The Lonely Secret of Mary Ann Zielonko (Kitty Genovese Story)
5. Clemenza And Tessio Are Dead

More reviews are being posted throughout the day. Let us know what you're discovering at FringeNYC by posting a comment! Happy Fringe-ing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

FringeNYC -- Popular Shows

The overriding goal of our "gavel-to-gavel" FringeNYC coverage on nytheatre.com is to help audience members find the shows they'll want to see from among the more than 200 offerings available. Our previews and our reviews provide lots of great information about the shows, and you should check them out (revisit the reviews page frequently throughout the festival, as new reviews are posted every single day).

But sometimes it's interesting to find out what others are interested in -- which shows are most popular, in other words. Now, I don't ever advocate following the pack -- the FringeNYC Festival is the time to stretch and discover work you wouldn't otherwise see. But it never hurts to know what the pack is up to...

So, in that spirit, today I want to share with you the top ten most popular shows at this year's New York International Fringe Festival so far, as measured by most visits to the nytheatre.com preview page.

(Drum roll please...)
  1. Muffin Man
  2. I Will Follow
  3. Willy Nilly
  4. Pie-Face! The Adventures of Anita Bryant
  5. Look After You
  6. Shelf Life
  7. Notes on the Land of Earthquake and Fire
  8. Candide Americana
  9. Viral
  10. The Office and the Metal Blob

I'll be posting the most-read reviews of FringeNYC shows starting on Monday. Happy Fringe-ing!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Things To Do In Between FringeNYC Shows

So today is the start of the 13th annual New York International Fringe Festival. For the next 17 days, nytheatre.com and its fleet of reviewers will be focused on the 201 shows in FringeNYC. This is your chance to really immerse yourself in theatre's great diversity. Dance, puppetry, masks, musical comedy, satire, noir, politics, drama, romance, clowns...it's all here (plus much more), right at your fingertips. Engage and enjoy!

But I wanted, today, to also step back from Fringe-ing for a moment and remind everyone about all the other amazing, interesting theatre that's happening in NYC at the same time as the festival. Take a break from FringeNYC and check out some of these:

FREE OUTDOOR THEATRE: There are several shows in FringeAlFresco...but there are also lots of wonderful productions in parks all across the five boroughs of New York. Choose from Theater for the New City's Tally Ho!, their annual activist street musical; the Gorilla Rep offerings, Julius Caesar (in Fort Tryon Park) and Peer Gynt (in Central Park); two productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream (here and here); Romeo and Juliet and the Greek play Plutus, presented by Curious Frog Theatre. All of these are free and great for families and kids.

IAN W. HILL'S "MINI-FESTIVAL" AT THE BRICK: Each August, theatre auteur Ian W. Hill takes over the Brick (where he serves year round as Technical Director) for a repertory of eclectic work. This year's lineup includes a revival of Daniel McKleinfeld's A Little Piece of the Sun (which premiered in FringeNYC about a decade ago), the American premiere of Richard Foreman's George Bataille's Bathrobe, the Reiner Werner Fassbinder play Blood on the Cat's Neck, and an original multimedia work called Sacrificial Offerings. Hill's "stock company" includes some of downtown theatre's finest actors (many of them are contributors to nytheatre.com). Links to info about the shows are here.

INDIE THEATER AT LANDMARK VENUES: P.S. 122 continues to host The Amoralists' The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side... The Ontologic-Hysteric Theatre concludes its Summer Incubator Series with Family and a double bill of Undine and The Importance of Being Earnest... And Metropolitan Playhouse celebrates its neighborhood with the annual East Village Theatre Festival.

IT'S OKAY TO ACT LIKE A TOURIST: Hey, it's summer. Cut loose. Check out Puppetry of the Penis while you're in the East Village... or Fuerza Bruta when you're at Union Square... or Blue Man Group when you're in the NYU area... or Naked Boys Singing! when you're in the Theatre District.

It's Festival Season. See Stuff. Have fun.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Countdown to FringeNYC (1 Day Till Opening)

When the New York International Fringe Festival started back in 1997, all of the shows were presented within a relatively compact swath of the Lower East Side. Since that time, the festival has pushed beyond that neighborhood and now occupies a fairly broad cross-section of Manhattan between Canal Street and 14th Street.

The venues this year include some perennials (the Flamboyan and Milagro spaces at CSV Cultural Center, for example) along with some great spaces new to FringeNYC (the two theatres at HERE Arts Center, the new Dixon Place, and the Minetta Lane Theatre, to name a few).

You can find out everything you need to know about this year's venues on our FringeNYC 2009 Map. Click on the red pushpin markers to get info about each venue; once you do that, you will see links to even more details about each one.

I hope you enjoy using it, and that it's helpful to you!

Tomorrow is the Grand Opening of the 13th Annual New York International Fringe Festival. See you at 12 noon at the Opening Ceremonies! Check back our FringeNYC reviews throughout the festival.

Happy Fringe-ing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Countdown to FringeNYC (2 Days Till Opening)

Yesterday, I told you that we are planning to review all of the 201 shows in this year's New York International Fringe Festival. Today, I want to tell you how we are able to accomplish this...by introducing you to the members of our Reviewing Squad.

These folks are all theatre artists who have volunteered their time to help us achieve this goal. Some of them have been helping us review FringeNYC since we started our gavel-to-gavel coverage back in 2002, and some of them are joining us for the first time this summer. All of them deserve our thanks.

The squad roster is here. (Click on the "+" next to each name to see the reviewer's bio.)

Our reviewing team this year is larger and more diverse than ever! We've got NYIT Award-winning and nominated artists participating; artistic directors of long-running theatre companies (past and present); actors; dramaturgs; stage managers; playwrights; directors; producers ... you name it. I would conservatively estimate that together the squad encompasses about 1,000 years of theatre experience.

As you read the reviews this year, click on the reviewers' names to read more about them. Get to know our Reviewing Squad, and check out their work (some are participating in the FringeNYC festival this summer!).

Up next, finding your way at FringeNYC 2009. Check back tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Countdown to FringeNYC (3 Days Till Opening)

Seven years ago, I said something out loud that has haunted me ever since. What I said was, hey, nytheatre.com ought to review EVERY SHOW in the New York International Fringe Festival.

Whoever I was with at the time said, "Yes, what a great idea!" And so, for the 2002 FringeNYC, we set out to review all of the shows in the festival--something no other organization had ever attempted. We enlisted about 60 colleagues--actors, directors, playwrights, stage managers, etc.--to pitch in. And we did it. And when it was over, I took some deep breaths and said, wow that was fun, let's not try that again! And everybody I knew said, "Oh no, nytheatre.com needs to do this every year!"

And so we do.

This will be the 8th year that we tackle this mission. If I sound at all reluctant in these preceding paragraphs, it's just for comic effect -- I love that we do this, and I love doing it.

There are two important reasons why we do this every year. First, we believe that every show in FringeNYC deserves informed, considered feedback about their work. Most press outlets only review a tiny fraction of what's presented in the festival each year, and coverage tends to be skewed toward certain kinds of shows. But everybody participating in FringeNYC has something in their hearts and minds they're burning to share with audiences. They need to be heard, and our reviewers are here to listen...and to communicate back to them in return.

The second reason is for our readers and audiences. This festival is SO BIG...and it's really imperative for people to have some way to figure out which shows are the ones they want to see. By reviewing every show, we're able to serve these people, by giving them some information to help them sift through 200+ choices each year.

Our review coverage starts on August 14th, the night the festival opens. We're scheduled to review our first 35 shows that night...and continue steadily over the next 2 weeks until we're all done, on about August 28th or 29th. You'll see links to our reviews on the home page of nytheatre.com every day. The newest reviews will always be highlighted. And reviewer picks, of the best of what they've seen, will be showcased on our nytheatre picks page.

I can't wait to get started!

Tomorrow, I will introduce you to the members of our reviewing squad. Check back...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Countdown to FringeNYC (4 Days Till Opening)

For the fifth year in a row, the good folks at the New York International Fringe Festival have asked me to host their Opening Ceremonies. (It's actually my seventh year doing this; I missed 2004, but hosted in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. You can see that I enjoy this gig!)

This year, the Opening Ceremonies will be held in Washington Square Park, at Holley Plaza, in the southwest corner of the park (near West 4th Street and MacDougall Street). Here's a map. (Note: rain location is FringeCENTRAL, 54 Crosby Street.) The festivities begin on Friday, August 14 at 12NOON and continue through 3pm.

FringeNYC Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy kicks things off, as she always does, with a wonderful welcome. And then I will be entrusted with "cutting the ribbon," so to speak, for this always exciting theatre festival. Here's what we'll do:
  • We'll see previews of a dozen FringeNYC shows (FringeNYTeasers) -- the list of the shows scheduled to perform is here.
  • I'll share tips and pointers about how to get the most out of North America's largest multi-arts festival -- my "patented" "How to FringeNYC Guide," refined over a dozen years of intense FringeNYC-going and reviewing.
  • I'll interview a whole bunch of FringeNYC insiders -- staff members, participants, and alumni -- who will give you the real scoop about this year's events.
  • And there will be lots of prizes to give away, courtesy of FringeNYC and The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.

The weather forecast, as I write this words, is for partly cloudy skies and a high of 82 degrees on Friday -- that's just what the doctor (Dr. Elena, that is) ordered! Please, if you are free on August 14 between 12pm and 3pm, join me for the FringeNYC Opening Ceremonies. It's one of my favorite events of the year!

Up next, information about reviewing this enormous festival! Check back tomorrow...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Countdown to FringeNYC (5 Days Till Opening)

Every year we try to help readers and audience members navigate the New York International Fringe Festival, to find the shows that they'll particularly enjoy seeing. Our previews are a great way to get started. This year, we also focused on a few new works in the festival, all written by FringeNYC alumni playwrights, on our nytheatrecast series.

So here's what we have for you, as a way of getting to know some of these amazing artists and whetting your appetite for some of this year's new FringeNYC plays:

nytheatrecast #300: Matt Freeman talks to Mac Rogers about his FringeNYC show Viral. Matt and Mac have a great conversation about their craft and about the themes of Mac's works, including this new play premiering in FringeNYC, which is about a group of people who have become obsessed (sexually) with the idea of watching someone die. This is what FringeNYC is all about, people. Listen to the podcast.

nytheatrecast #301: Lisa Ferber talks to Todd Michael about his FringeNYC show Buddy Becker's Big Uncut Flick. Todd's works are always affectionate parodies of old movies with strong camp/drag components, and this year's is no exception. Lisa became a fan and then a friend of Todd after she saw one of his earlier FringeNYC shows. FringeNYC=Community! Listen to the podcast.

nytheatrecast #302: Series host Trav S.D. talks to FringeNYC founding artistic director John Clancy about his new show The Event. And then John talks to Trav about his new show, Willy Nilly. Between the two of them there's 30+ years of downtown indie theater history happening here. The spirit of FringeNYC! Listen to the podcast.

Check out the nytheatrecast website for info about all of these episodes, how to subscribe to nytheatrecast on iTunes, and more (including photos of all these great playwrights, all snapped by yours truly!).

Up next: News About the FringeNYC Opening Ceremonies. Check back tomorrow...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Countdown to FringeNYC (6 Days Till Opening)

The 13th annual New York International Fringe Festival begins on Friday, August 14. I'm excited--the energy around the festival this year feels great to me!

As we have every year since 2002, nytheatre.com will be doing our comprehensive "gavel-to-gavel" coverage of FringeNYC in 2009. This begins with our previews, which went online on July 13th. So far, more than 160 shows have participated this year, providing fascinating answers to our three questions:
1. What is your show about and what can audiences expect when they see it?
2. Why is your show pertinent to today's times and/or why should your show be the choice for audiences to see?
3. Why did you choose to present this show?!
Check out the previews here. You can also click on direct ticketing links from our FringeNYC Preview pages, to get your tickets from TicketWeb before the festival starts

Up next: our podcast previews. Come back tomorrow for the scoop...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Where the Heck Have You Been?

Followers of the nytheatre i / Good News Theatre Blog: Please forgive my unannounced hiatus!
It has been a busy several weeks here at nytheatre.com.

As you may know, we recently won the Microsoft/Techsoup "Show Your Impact" Competition. Part of the prize package for this was $25,000 worth of software, donated by Microsoft.

Well, the first shipment came in this past week, and it's kept us pretty busy. Thanks to Microsoft's generosity, we have been able to upgrade our technology infrastructure. Pretty cool.

I've already implemented a bit of new technology on nytheatre.com that this new software made possible. Check out our reviewers page. You'll notice that the old-fashioned links have been replaced with newfangled "+" links next to each name. Click on the "+" to bring the reviewer bios right on the same page. (This is a technology called Ajax, and you can expect to see more of it on nytheatre.com as time goes on.)

Other stuff is coming...but so is the New York International Fringe Festival, and preparing for that has been keeping me very occupied as well! More on that tomorrow...