A vibrant youthful cast adds its names to the Scottish Tragedy.

Review by Amy M. Frateo

James Jennings and his brainchild, the American Theatre of Actors have long been contributors to presenting the classics – especially the Bard – in NYC. His latest offering is a powerful – almost animistic – production of Macbeth.

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The women in flowing robes, the men barely swathed at all, Jennings and Jane Culley, his co-director, present to us a raw depiction of the warlords of the time period when the actual “Macbeth” may have reigned. High-energy and youthful unbridled passion, plus and unique staging for classic passages gave this production ironic innovation – ironic in that going back to its basics made it seem new.

GThomas Leverton gives us a Macbeth that is both savage warrior and scared child. Bounding across the stage stopping himself in his own tracks at grim realizations, Leverton never let his character get bogged down or declamatory but infused each passage with his engrossing electricity. Jessica Jennings’ mesmerizing Lady M gives us the same dichotomy with her “fairest in the land” looks hiding a vicious soul. Her affected vocal pattern added an eerie tone implying that there are more witches on the stage than we know. She seemed to channel Tamora from Titus Andronicus in some ways. This was exemplified by her famed letter soliloquy ending in a blood ritual. Both leads’ command of the language was admirable and their high-energy pace made a great connection between classic language and raw emotion. Speaking of the witches, it was risky having them so stereotypical but there, again, the manic pace made us follow right along. An effect of having them present at all ghostly moments was effective and should have been taken further.

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A standout among the ensemble of savages was Andrew Goebel (as Ross). His superior elocution and strong presence provided excellent commentary and anchored the production well.

Jennings & Culley’s staging was panoramic – using every inch of a very vast stage including precarious scaffolding and aisles whose wood flooring made the marching of the soldiers that much more heart-quickening.
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Costumes – at times – seemed a little unclear, but the general appearance was effective. The absence of music – clearly a choice – added to the realism but some moments of sound would have been effective.

The American Theatre of Actors turns 40 this year – and a hearty congratulations. With cost and competition in NYC as savage as Scotland during King Duncan’s reign, most theatres turn tail and run. Not James Jennings. He continues to provide a fortress for the theatrical warriors arriving in NYC every day. Hats off to him and his team. How does he do it? Maybe he has the Weird Sisters on his board of directors.

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Powerful Play with Music at the 13th Street Rep

Inola M. MCGuire reviews
New York Theatre Intensive’s production of
BETWEEN PRETTY PLACES
At
13th Street Repertory Company
50 West 13th Street, New York, NY
On Thursday, September 17th, 2015

The performance of the evening is “Between Pretty Places, A Musical Ghost Story” by Susan Merson, directed by John Hadden; starring Philip Callen, Julie Fitzpatrick, Jemma Kosanke, Ellen Parker, and Heather Lupton Rasche; dedicated to Teghan.

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The performance begins with live music by the piano player. The audience sees Diane, the mother of Cherylynn and the grandmother of Kyla, when she enters the stage. She sits on the floor with her head on a stool and she falls asleep. In the meantime, her daughter in ghost form parades around on an elevated contraption. The granddaughter, Kyla enters and sees her grandmother on the floor. It is a premonition of some sort for Diane; she has to get over her grief for another real situation that is brewing along her path.

The death of Diane’s daughter by hanging two years earlier creates a vacuum in her heart, and she has to face her fears before it is too late. However, Diane’s granddaughter needs a home; for her father wants to shift his parental responsibility that leaves her in a quandary. Diane feels like a failure. She thinks she could have done a better job with her daughter, Cherylynn, as a mother. Cherylynn had a mind of her own; and she left her parental home at a tender age of 14. Her Waterloo was Gregory, Kyla’s father.

In the meantime, Diane’s husband, Lyle, enjoys the empty-nest atmosphere with his wife. He is obliged to make love to his wife anywhere or anytime in the comfort of their home. Things are about to change when Gregory decides to become a correction officer in a prison. Gregory’s caring for his daughter feels like a monkey on his back. He is passing his daughter, who represents a problem in his mind, off to her maternal grandparents. Lyle doesn’t want any part of fatherhood at this stage in his life. Life is good between him and Diane, and he wants to maintain his status. The audience sees both of them singing on stage and enjoying each other’s company.

The ghost of Cherylynn is still earth bound, and her daughter acknowledges her presence. Both Diane and Lyle try not to acknowledge their daughter’s presence. Diane wants a job. She goes to the library and she encounters home-wrecker Marge; and she shares her concerns with her concerning Kyla. Afterward, Marge meets Lyle and she informs him about Diane’s job-search endeavor. Lyle goes home and Diane tells him about her plans to become Kyla’s guardian. He’s furious and he leaves his home to defuse his frustration.

Low and behold, Lyle ends up at the bar where Madge, the Jezebel, decides to offer him the moon and the stars. A promise is the comfort to a fool! Both of them enjoy a dance together; and the audience sees him as he contemplates his next move. Diane faces the challenges of motherhood and being the matriarch of her family. Cherylynn’s earth-bound spirit, the ghost, wants to take her daughter with her, and Diane has to do her best to keep Kyla safe with love and compassion.

Diane advises Cherylynn’s ghost to leave Kyla alone, for she needs to go over to the beyond. Her lingering spirit needs to cross over from this realm. Each member of the family has its own lingering spirit. The audience witnesses three generations of women at the same place under the tree. Diane gets an opportunity to make things right the second time around. Lyle gets an opportunity to voice his fears to Diane; yet he gives his definitions seduction. He shows his granddaughter a brief act of kindness, yet Lyle wants to jump ship and takes Madge up on her offer for her supposedly empty-nest home.

The writer gets her message across to the audience because she takes a real-life experience and weaves it into a well-written play. In Lyle’s case, he is ready to abandon his granddaughter with the promise of a home without children with Madge. This is a tale to encourage young women to stay at home with their parents and get their education. We all have to recognize that liberation without preparation is a very dangerous thing. It is a performance that is worthy of seeing, and I surely recommend it to theatre goers and non-theatre goers.

Part Two of SPL’s Double Feature

INOLA M. McGuire reviews
John Chatterton’s Short Play Lab
At
Davenport Theatre, Black Box
244 West 54th Street, New York, NY
On Saturday, September 19th, 2015

Program B

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The first performance of the evening is “On Pace” by Ray Nelson, directed by Blayze Teicher; and starring Richard Clodfelter, Paula Gates, and Jonathan Lee-Rey.

The audience gets a glimpse of a middle-age man doing his routine as a runner to get back in shape and in control of his life. He begins this tedious task before his wife gets out of bed. She is curious about what he is up to in the morning. The wife tries to stay in shape with the aid of a young neighbor. The husband lies on the ground in an effort to hide the true reason for his being up so early. The wife and young neighbor fuss with the husband to lie still. They want to call an ambulance for him. He wants no part of their suggestion.

The issue of food comes up and the husband informs his wife of her culinary skills that need improvement, and he reminds her that they are the last of the white people on the block. To add more fire to the fury, the husband informs the audience of all of his dislikes and he lets his wife understands that, as a couple, they have been running their whole lives.

The writer gets his message across to the audience. Things are never what they appear to be with a couple. There could be hidden grudges and other resentments that destroy the love and harmony in a marriage. As the saying in the good book says, “don’t make the left knows what the right knows.” In the husband’s case, he did not want his wife to know that he was in competition with her plain and simple.

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The second performance of the evening is “Kinsey” by Jessica Moss, directed by Jessica Moss; and starring Jessica Moss.

This one-woman show gives the audience a clear view into the life of a 14 year-old Kinsey who had a crap of a time adjusting to her teenage years. She has a sense of intuition that allows her to foresee things. In Kinsey’s situation, her father dies and she gets instruction from her mother to go upstairs and see her dead father.

In addition to acting out as a rite of passage as a teenager, Kinsey cheats on her Spanish test. She is bullied at school and she is unsuccessful in making friends, too. When she is told about her father’s death, she didn’t show any emotion; and her action bothered her mother.

The writer get her message across to the audience. Being a teenager is a rough rite of passage for some girls, and through frustration; some of the girls act out as a way to seek attention from friends and love ones. It is very important to have open communication with girls who may be destined to get into trouble deliberately. Teenage girls like Kinsey need as much love and understanding from their family and friends.

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The third performance of the evening is “Ashes” by Leonard D. Goodisman, directed by Katherine Wilkins; and starring Sophia Mahmoud and Rishi Mukherjee.

The audience sees a grieving mother and an angry partner arguing with each other in an apartment. The mother wants to make amends with her supposedly deceased son’s lover. During their interaction, the revelation of the mother’s behavior towards her son when she found out about his sexual orientation was disastrous. She abandoned him plain and simple. Now, she wants to blame his lover, partner, for his demise.

The partner wants her out of the apartment. She repeats her refrain, “I want my Bobby back!” The lover throws in a few jabs of his own with numerous acquisitions to send the mother flying. She tries to bribe him. The partner wants time to think about the condition of the bribe. Both of them should share his memory with tranquility. She lets her son’s partner know that not all mothers want to hear or know that their sons are guy. She demands her son’s ashes. However, the partner informs her that her son’s not dead; but he is close to death’s door. Bobby’s still hanging on!

The message that this writer shares with the audience teaches tolerance and understanding for all. Most mothers do not want to know that their sons do not fit into the norms of society because they expect to become grandparents. On the other hand, men have gotten the green light to be themselves in today’s society. Hiding your sexual orientation is a thing of the past. Mothers just have to learn to deal with the hand that they were dealt with in these times.

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The fourth performance of the evening is “Woman Up” by Kelly Canavan, directed by Emily Canavan; starring Emily Canavan and Anika Harden.

The performance shows the audience two women on a trip. The driver appears to be a hysterical type who gazes away from the road. The passenger demonstrates a stern demeanor, and she wants the driver to pay attention to the road. The woman in the passenger’s seat continues to ask the driver the same question, “Are you okay?” Both of them are on two different planets; yet they are sitting beside each other.

woman The driver is a second away from a traffic accident, but she is able to hold her own. The passenger, her company, wants to cheer her up for a few seconds. It is a toxic trip all the way. Surprisingly, they get to their destination in one piece with a great shout, “we are here!”
The writer’s message shows the audience how two travelers can be very toxic for each other. Their disagreements and other factors serve as a catalyst for the things one doesn’t want to endure. The audience surely learn from the performance. It serves as a cautionary tale for those people who like to take road trips.

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The fifth performance of the evening is “The Cellers” by EJ Sepp, directed by EJ Sepp; and starring Nicoletta DeRose and Mark Richard Goldman.

The audience sees a poster, “HappyPhone,” as the name of a business. Kent wants to get his cell phone to work but the employees at this establishment ignore him. An obnoxious female employee tries to chastise him, and she rudely tries to put words in his mouth. At least half a dozen times, the woman repeats that she is trying to help Kent without really trying to help him. Kent deserves better treatment, but he is in a Twilight Zone.

The writer gets his message across to the audience. What the audience witnesses on stage is not too far fetch from the conditions in the workplace when customers try to get good customer service. It is a common place occurrence that I have observed and other people have complained about on a few occasions.

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The sixth performance of the evening is “Anna” by Susie Neilson, directed by Susie Neilson; and starring Alison Maddren and Benjamin Howe.

The performance begins with a woman sitting on the floor of the stage drinking wine from a bottle, a pizza box, her cell phone, a book, outfits and lipstick are all on the floor next to her. A voice over, then music, a man’s voice speaks, “Wanna Bet?”

Anna texting and receiving texts from her ex-boyfriend forces her to drink from the bottle. Also, he escalates his bombardment with calling, too. She tries to be strong! He insults her intelligence by professing his love for her. The audience views him as an over-bearing character with a cosmic connection to Anna.

The messages from the writer spells out the word caution to the audience. It is always a great idea to get to know a person before one gets too close to him or her. Stalkers are for real! Some of them are relentless, and the audience witnesses how relentless one can be in and out of their victims’ lives.

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The seventh performance of the evening is “For the Love of Rosa” by R. G. Rader, directed by R. G. Rader; and staring Chanis Reyes and Jason G. Rader.

The audience sees two people trying to be friendly with each other on a certain level. The female objects to seeing Rosa. The male tries to persuade her to change her mind about Rosa. After a few moments, the conversation changes and the female speaks great things about Rosa. The couples speak about Rosa’s marriage and the type of relationship she had with her husband. In a split fraction of time, the couple decides to be there for Rosa.

The audience wonders why such a change in attitude for Rosa as it views the couple as older people. As the saying goes, “with age brings reason.” This is probably the position the audience takes about the couple with Rosa as its topic of discussion. At the funeral, the couple reiterate how funny Rosa was during her life time; for the people remember the little things that made her very special in the good old days. In the end, the couple wonders or thinks in its mind, “Don’t we all hate Rosa?”

The writer gets the message across to the audience in a profound way. In many instances, some people may dislike their close friends for specific reasons. On the other hand, a good-nature person’s ability to communicate with others may be construed as a negative instead of a positive trait among friends. It is always best to choose your battles wisely instead of trying to win the war. Some friends may just have a love and hate relationship with you because of your personality. Just tread lightly when it comes to friendships.

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The eighth performance of the evening is “Invisible of the Sidewalk” by Ran Xia, directed by Mary St. Angelo; and staring Kara Hankard, Andrew Dunn, and Nichole Jorgensen.

The performance begins with a man and a woman on stage. The audience hears and sees the man as he makes noise. Another woman enters with lots of newspapers. By this time, it is not hard to surmise that these people are vying for space on the sidewalk. The discourse among the actors reveals the importance of getting the right spot on the sidewalk and the problem with overcrowding through homelessness.

The writer’s message speaks volume to the audience, and it hears and sees the ramification of homelessness in urban cities. New York City is one such place with a large population of poor and destitute people trying to survive on the sidewalks. Capitalism has no conscience for people without money and high-paying jobs. However, there need to be another approach to homelessness and the disenfranchisement of the masses in this society.

The Short Play Lab presented by John Chatterton deserves more recognition than it has gotten in the past. It is a great opportunity for playwrights to showcase their work through the auspices John’s dedication to the theatre.

A Night of Seven to Study

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INOLA M. McGUIRE reviews:
John Chatterton’s Short Play Lab
At
Davenport Theatre, Black Box
244 West 54th Street, New York, NY
On Saturday, September 19th, 2015

Program A

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The first performance of the evening is “Routine & Discipline” by Kris Ann Barbera, directed by Kris Ann Barbera; and starring Cassiopia Coyne.

The audience sees a woman measuring her waist line on stage. She speaks about looking her best, her intake for breakfast and her exercising routine and discipline. She anticipates a meeting with William, someone she met three days ago. It’s a three-day scenario beyond a one-night stand between two people. Everything has to be perfect in her life in a superficial manner.

The audience enjoys the performance as she continues with her banter. Her encounters with men generate a few highs and a few lows at the moment, and some of the mentioning of her actions was over-the-top behavior. Some of the men were too overwhelmed by her attentiveness without knowing the real purpose of her motivation.

The writer gets her message across to the audience. Both men and women have to be very careful with the people they encounter in casual relationships. One never knows what type of emotional baggage he or she is going to pick up in the form of a human being. One can always project a wholesome outlook from the outside, but there may be serious and disturbing flaws lurking on the inside. For example, an old house can look good from the outside, but the plumbing, wiring, and flooring are all bad on the inside. This play has a lot of potential.

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The second performance of the evening is “Gut Level” by John Ladd, directed by Eric Leeb; and starring Liana Afuni, Tatiana Birenbaun, and Isabella Pacanins.

The performance begins with two actors on stage and the third one joins them. Their dialogues remind the audience of all of the goings-on in many communities in our society today like stop and frisk in urban cities. The gentrification of neighborhoods has become big business for real estates and construction companies. Homes were gutted and rebuilt to cater to a new clientele. Communities like Bushwick and Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn are examples of this practice. The displacements of people from their communities where they called home for many decades are motivated by greed.

The writer gets his message across to the audience as it touches on all of the “isms” and “schisms” that exist in our society. The world is complicated, but one has to learn how to navigate for the good of humanity.

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The third performance of the evening is “Queensboro Bridge” by Katarina Behrmann, directed by Katarina Behrmann; starring Kevin Broomfield and Katarina Behrmann.

The audience sees the performance of two people sharing a cab ride together during very slow traffic. It is an amazing opportunity where these two strangers enjoy each other company through conversation. The moment of bonding allows them to make the best of their time together.

The writer’s message speaks volume to the audience. It allows the audience to reflect on its own experience. This play has a lot of potential.

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The fourth performance of the evening is “Ski and Ari” by Arthur W. French, directed by Arthur French; Kyle Carter and Kenya Wilson.

The audience sees two characters on the floor of the stage. They communicate with each other as to the reasons why they are on the floor. They realize their purpose! Lots of people are talking about it. People with social media accounts are writing about the shooting. Facebook and Twitter have provided the opportunity to their customers to voice their opinions after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The writer’s message to the audience serves as a reminder that all lives are precious. Regardless of the victim’s race, religion or nationality; one doesn’t need to be gunned down in the manner in which Trayvon Martin was killed. Something good happened after the shooting. People of all ages and races were able to come together to protest in many American cities.

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The fifth performance of the evening is “The List” by Ethan Ness, directed by Ethan Ness; starring Ethan Ness and Abbie Krentz.

The audience sees an argumentative couple on stage trying to settle its finances. The boyfriend looks at his list of itemized items. The lady reminds him of a $12.00 loan, and he tells her of an exorbitant amount that she owes him. Their back and forth conversation gives a new meaning to how low down a couple can get during a break up over money and other issues. The young man and the young woman try to outdo each other.

The itemized list in each of their minds demonstrates how diminutive one can become when things are not beneficial to him or her in a relationship. The couple shows the audience a combat of spirit between them. Their shenanigans force them to come to terms with their insane behavior. The couple makes up and kisses!

The message the writer tries to convey serves as a cautionary tale for the audience. It is a great idea to be able to afford oneself. During a new relationship, the good times are enjoyed between the couple; and favors are done without hesitation. When there is a turn in the relationship, all of the good deeds become a physical or an emotional list that goes through a review.

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The sixth performance of the evening is “Morning of the Wedding” by Maia A. Matsushita, directed by Max Hunter; and starring Emma Orme.

The audience sees a young woman sleeping and her cell phone rings. She answers it! She searches for her dress. She gets dress and takes care of other personal things. She dials a telephone number and she continues to get ready for the wedding ceremony. The young woman wants to reach her doctor for emotional support, but there is no therapist on call. She talks to herself in the mirror, and she sits on the floor and calls her mother. She just wants to check in on her mother, but she refuses to mention her father’s wedding to her.

The writer wants the audience to get the message. The daughter remains the daughter regardless of how many times her father gets married to other women. A mother is always a mother despite the breakup of her marital status. People have to learn how to get along in spite of separation among adults.

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The seventh performance of the evening is “Cab Girl” by Jamie Lerner, directed by Camie Gillespie; and staring Jamie Lerner.

The performance begins with a woman on the stage exercising, reading and drinking wine. The audience hears a voice over that contemplates on what she is going to wear. She opens the door for another friend to enter the stage. Voice over is heard again before she puts eye liner on the friend’s face.

As the performance persists, the actor interacts with another woman and she listens to her; the audience hears a voice over of the other woman’s mind. The actor resumes her routine with the disclosure of her life through a series of texts messaging excusing herself. She is woman with a mission and she wants to use her experience to change the world.

The writer’s message to the audience permeates the room. It shows that one has to get the facts before a conscious analysis can be made without prejudice. One can’t judge a book by its cover before the pages are read in order to gain an insight.

The Short Play Lab presented by John Chatterton deserves more recognition than it has gotten in the past. It is a great opportunity for playwrights to showcase their work through the auspices of John’s dedication to the theatre.

Worthy CONVERSATION

Inola M. McGuire reviews.

The performance of the evening is “Conversations with My Molester, A Journey of Faith” by Michael Mack, directed by Daniel Gidron; starring Michael Mack.

michael-mack_conversations_timo085_under-table_6x10_300dpi_credit-Timothy-Hanson The performance begins when Michael enters the stage. The audience becomes excited as he begins his one-man show, and his introduction permeates the room. Michael shares his childhood aspiration and what life was like for him attending the Catholic Church. He wanted to become a priest. Praying was a very sweet experience for him. He wanted to be a pious young man. For starters, he was an altar boy and he observed the rituals that were performed during Sunday masses.

Michael and his siblings had to relocate and he attended a Roman Catholic Church in his new community in South Carolina. The priest of the church became like a surrogate father to him, and this priest took advantage of Michael’s trust and his innocence at the rectory. The memory of this violation bothered Michael, and years later he told his brother. Michael’s brother asked him a question that shook him to the core. He said, “What effect it had on you?”

michael-mack_conversations_timo070_eraser_6x10_300dpi_credit-Timothy-Hanson By this time, the audience experiences an emotional charge as Michael reiterated what happened to him at a tender age, and how he was treated by the priest. His description of the priest’s seductive moves evokes certain reactions. The audience empathizes with him for it was aware that the memories bothered him.

Michael’s first job before his graduation from high school was at camp for boys between the ages of 7 – 12. There was one boy who stood out, an eight-year old; and he showed him kindness at the camp. Michael takes the audience back to his experience with the priest. It sounded like it was a day or two ago.

After Michael decided to confront his molester, his journey of healing began. By this time, allegations of sexual abuse by priests were dominating the news. He couldn’t believe what he was reading, but he pursued his quest to confront his abuser. He was persistent although he experienced a few road blocks along the way by other priests, some of whom were trying to hide their own shame of abuses. In Michael’s findings, he found out that his molester was molested himself.

Michael was able to share his ordeal with the audience without showing anger and frustration. His one-man show is very timely because of Pope Frances’ visit to America. Now, sexual abuse among Catholic priests is not a thing of the past because some of the wounds are still too fresh in the minds of some of the victims and the public. In addition, the actions that were taken by the church at all levels have deterred some priests from molesting their parishioners. Law suits, prosecution, persecution, imprisonment, and firings have contributed to the curtailing of the behaviors among the priests.

In the past, the conducts of some priests were common knowledge to many people, but the perpetrators were sent to different states or archdiocese within a particular state or city. In many instances, some people did not want to believe that these men of the cloth were wretched beings hiding in plain sight. The audience needs to research what motivated some of the former abusers to become priests. Some people are attracted to specific vocation because of the availability of victims at their disposals.

In Michael’s case, he was very trusting and pure at heart as a young impressionable boy who saw the priest as a father figure in his life. About two decades ago, some people in this society still looked up to priest in the Catholic Church. However, a large segment of the populace was always leery of them because their goings-on have be known around the world. What came to light in the United States of America was not surprising to many people.

After the performance, Michael met with members of the audience in a discussion session. Jayne O’Donnell of the Healing Circle was present. She spoke about how she was motivated to start the organization. A few recommendations in order to curtail the behavior of priests were discussed. Having the third person in the midst of a priest and a parishioner would be expedient for all involved. Psychological evaluation and rigorous background checks should be carried out before men are being considered for the priesthood.

michael-mack_conversations_timo129_mouth-memory_6x10_300dpi_credit-Timothy-Hanson I will surely recommend this performance to all theatre goers and people who are staunch Roman Catholics. They are going to gain some insights on how to inform their sons about the perils of looking up to a man of the cloth. As the saying goes, “Man to man is so unjust, we do not know who to trust.” In my humble opinion, we must respect others in authority to a certain extent; but it is not wise to give reverence to them. Our reverence should be given to God.

Hauntingly Beautiful

Inola M. McGuire @ the 13th Street Repertory for Between Pretty Places, A Musical Ghost Story
13th Street Repertory Company
50 West 13th Street, New York, NY
On Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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The performance of the evening is “Between Pretty Places, A Musical Ghost Story” by Susan Merson, directed by John Hadden; starring Philip Callen, Julie Fitzpatrick, Jemma Kosanke, Ellen Parker, and Heather Lupton Rasche; dedicated to Teghan.

The performance begins with live music by the piano player. The audience sees Diane, the mother of Cherylynn and the grandmother of Kyla, when she enters the stage. She sits on the floor with her head on a stool and she falls asleep. In the meantime, her daughter in ghost form parades around on an elevated contraption. The granddaughter, Kyla enters and sees her grandmother on the floor. It is a premonition of some sort for Diane; she has to get over her grief for another real situation that is brewing along her path.

The death of Diane’s daughter by hanging two years earlier creates a vacuum in her heart, and she has to face her fears before it is too late. However, Diane’s granddaughter needs a home; for her father wants to shift his parental responsibility that leaves her in a quandary. Diane feels like a failure. She thinks she could have done a better job with her daughter, Cherylynn, as a mother. Cherylynn had a mind of her own; and she left her parental home at a tender age of 14. Her Waterloo was Gregory, Kyla’s father.

In the meantime, Diane’s husband, Lyle, enjoys the empty-nest atmosphere with his wife. He is obliged to make love to his wife anywhere or anytime in the comfort of their home. Things are about to change when Gregory decides to become a correction officer in a prison. Gregory’s caring for his daughter feels like a monkey on his back. He is passing his daughter, who represents a problem in his mind, off to her maternal grandparents. Lyle doesn’t want any part of fatherhood at this stage in his life. Life is good between him and Diane, and he wants to maintain his status. The audience sees both of them singing on stage and enjoying each other’s company.

The ghost of Cherylynn is still earth bound, and her daughter acknowledges her presence. Both Diane and Lyle try not to acknowledge their daughter’s presence. Diane wants a job. She goes to the library and she encounters home-wrecker Marge; and she shares her concerns with her concerning Kyla. Afterward, Marge meets Lyle and she informs him about Diane’s job-search endeavor. Lyle goes home and Diane tells him about her plans to become Kyla’s guardian. He’s furious and he leaves his home to defuse his frustration.

Low and behold, Lyle ends up at the bar where Madge, the Jezebel, decides to offer him the moon and the stars. A promise is the comfort to a fool! Both of them enjoy a dance together; and the audience sees him as he contemplates his next move. Diane faces the challenges of motherhood and being the matriarch of her family. Cherylynn’s earth-bound spirit, the ghost, wants to take her daughter with her, and Diane has to do her best to keep Kyla safe with love and compassion.

Diane advises Cherylynn’s ghost to leave Kyla alone, for she needs to go over to the beyond. Her lingering spirit needs to cross over from this realm. Each member of the family has its own lingering spirit. The audience witnesses three generations of women at the same place under the tree. Diane gets an opportunity to make things right the second time around. Lyle gets an opportunity to voice his fears to Diane; yet he gives his definitions seduction. He shows his granddaughter a brief act of kindness, yet Lyle wants to jump ship and takes Madge up on her offer for her supposedly empty-nest home.

The writer gets her message across to the audience because she takes a real-life experience and weaves it into a well-deserve play. In Lyle’s case, he is ready to abandon his granddaughter with the promise of a home without children with Madge. This is a tale to encourage young women to stay at home with their parents and get their education. We all have to recognize that liberation without preparation is a very dangerous thing. It is a performance that is worthy of seeing, and I surely recommend it to theatre goers and non-theatre goers.

Inola @ the ATA for Shakespeare

Review by Inola M. McGuire

The performance of the evening is “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, directed by James Jennings and Jane Culley; starring Andrew Goebel, William Greville, Jessica Jennings, Shayna Lawson, Thomas Leverton, Jorge Lopes, David Murray, Kathryn Pace, Al Perez, Jesse Pulitzer-Kennedy, David Remple, Shanelle Riccio, Jason Rule, Zen, and Dasha Zhurin.

The stage setting complements all of the scenes in the play. It makes the interpretation of the performance easier for the audience to understand. The audience witnesses in the opening scene a rape or its surmise of one taking place in a deserted place. After the dreadful experience, the lady is rescued by a few witches. These witches return on stage in later scenes, but the men of valor dominate the performance from start to finish in most of the scenes.

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As it is known, this play has its political intrigue that stems from the history of the British Isles, England, Scotland and Wales. However, the audience gets an opportunity to surmise its own experience as to what life was like during and before Shakespeare’s life time in the plot.

The performance of Macbeth allows the audience to reflect on its life in contemporary times. However, the question of how different is its life today still evokes deep emotional wounds since political power, economics, and religion have dominated its society for far too long. These three factors have worked together as a triplet with identical genes, and the end results have always been the same for centuries. The rich and the powerful get richer and the working class and the poor get poorer. It is the same script with different players in different centuries, but the message is the same each time. One must say, Shakespeare was surely ahead of his time; yet the human condition has remained the same despite the invention of modern conveniences.

I surely recommend Macbeth as a must-see performance before the culmination of the performance. It will motivate the audience to research English history of a specific time period, and the play is surely a conversational piece to enact a conversation between or among friends.