“I felt like an Alice transported to a very artsy wonderland.”

Article by Ashley Hutchinson On Sunday July 6th, the Midtown International Theatre Festival, a force to reckon with in the vast universe of New York theatre festivals, had its opening night. The festivities began with a short comical opener by Louis S. Salamone, the master of ceremonies detailing the top ten strangest emails received that day. Given that this is an event created entirely by avid theatre lovers, actors, directors and the like it was hardly surprising that this sort of bit would be well received based on the reality: theatre people are specific, and they like emails. The emails relayed to us included questions about the availability of bathrooms or if they would “have to provide jars to pee in” or if cannibalism was legal in the state of New York. I heard remarks around me asking if these questions were fabricated and I wouldn’t be surprised either way. Believe it or not, weird theatre-makers exist, and believe it or not, people would fabricate anything to get a laugh. Though I will say the question still haunts me. With this short introduction out of the way and with the passing of the microphone to the head of the festival, John Chatterton, we were given some background on this year’s festival. Chatterton boasted the festival’s new variety of acts (and rightfully so), as there will be a new cabaret division opening this year joining a commercial division, a short plays division, and so on. The festival will have roughly 212 performances this year, that being said Chatterton’s message to “get ready to see a lot of theatre” was extremely appropriate. JIM_120.PRThe ceremony then continued in an intimate way, the feel was that of theatre-makers performing for fellow theatre-makers and some avid theatre-appreciators, and the diversity of acts really was impressive: we were to get a taste of the different shows and performances happening within the festival. I felt like an Alice transported to a very artsy wonderland. The performances began with a jazzy cabaret act titled “An Evening with Rosemary” and continued on with a poetry recitation including various hats, the inner musings of a Stripper, and musical theatre songs about Star Trek. CAM00652 How these 23 performances landed in the same showcase is a feat that only a theatre festival can truly achieve, and is part of the joy and slight terror associated with seeing live theatre. I was surprised by the amount of the one-man shows in the evening, but with hits such as “Buyer and Cellar” (at the Barrow Street Theatre) and “Murder for Two” (just closed at New World Stages) coming to the forefront of New York Theatre culture the new motto seems to be less is more where casting is concerned. A lot of the work proved very experimental as well; a performance from “Pistrix: A Melancholy Fable” included well-timed choreography with flashlights and the shocking yet appropriate lack of clothing in “Chenel Star! My Journey Through the Strip Club” was bold and fiery.                                                                      10426709_10152109792016567_5515385414022325934_n        All in all, it was an affectionate and appreciative night. A small event, but the Festival will be achieving big things through August 8 at 312 West 36th Street.

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