Brooks flowed with good humor

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Friday, November 13, 2015

pBrooks “Phil Brooks, Fired Up!” with host Jessica Beess, Derrick King and Phil Brooks as the Headliner.

The audience gets a great welcome from Jessica, and she holds the fort down with her brand of comedy. She entertains the audience as a comic about her ethnicities, half German and half Polish, and her nationality, as an Australian. She capitalizes on what she knows to the audience. Just be yourself, girl!

Next, Derrick King gets a tremendous introduction from the host, and he begins his comedy. He tells the audience about his background and his experience in New York City. Later in his performance, he undressed in front of the audience. He speaks about topics that can be politically incorrect to people outside of a comedy setting; but the audience gives him the benefit of the doubt with his jokes.

Phil gives the audience its money worth with his opening joke about an-out-of-town trip he took with one of his cousins. He talks about his experience with Tinder. His explanation to the audience of his Tinder mishap adds a lure to his bravura as a comedian. Phil tells the audience that he hooked up with a girl on his second attempt on Tinder, and she wanted a picture of a certain body part. He lets the audience know that he didn’t comply with the picture request, but he used charm and wittiness to avoid sending a picture.

Phil’s move to New York City was not without its ups and downs. He entertains the audience about his first-job experience. His working as a door man at an elegant Roof Top bar, surely suffice and equip him with a wealth of comedic material. Phil tells the audience all about specific instances when he had to turn away certain patrons. The first on his turn-away list was a pregnant woman who wanted accommodation for pregnant and disable people. In his mind, she needed to be in the maternity ward. He mentions to the audience that he told her there were no seats, but he had to wait for the response from his boss man, Tom, who wanted to know if she was hot.

In his act, Phil informs the audience that a group of white guys showed up to be admitted to the Roof Top bar, but one of them had a child with him under three years old. He had to call his boss man, and he told him what was going on down stairs. The boss man wanted to know if they were all of a specific height. Phil says he responded to him by saying yes, but with the exception of the baby. The audience gets a good laugh as Phil gives his opinion about adoption, and he speaks about certain celebrities such as Angelina, Brad or Madonna who have adopted non-white children.

Phil brings home his reality to the audience without offending anyone. He delivers his comedy that reaches the audience with a sense of professionalism, yet it was a joyous experience. I will surely recommend theatre goers to his performance.

“There is a rising and super star in the making by the name Greg Gropper”

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Sunday, November 15, 2015

greg “Greg Gropper” accompaniment on the piano by Laura Maruzzella.

There is a rising and super star in the making by the name Greg Gropper, and he entertains the audience with his many rendition of selected songs. When he sings and plays the piano, he reminds the audience of Billy Joel in his earlier days. Greg gets the message of love across in songs, and the audience enjoys his performance.

CINDERCELLAR: A HAPPY ENDING

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Monday, November 16, 2015

cinderella2 “Cindercellar” written by Joan Liman, directed by Joyia D. Bradley; and starring Tyler Ankenman, Lauren Downie, Natalia Freaner, Savannah Graner, Randall Halloway, Alex Lee, Lisa Michelle, Katie Morrill, Robert “Bob” Saypol, and Deborah Winfield.

This is a performance with a modern-day twist and trends. The audience falls in love with Cindercellar, and it gets a ride of a life time in the theatre during the act. The long-suffering Cindercellar gets her wish, and her step mother and her sisters get their just dessert. The prince gets his girl and all ends well for him and Cindercellar.

The writer’s gets her message across to the audience, and it engages the audience to reflect on its own life. We have to be mindful of our actions in life. No one never knows when and how an opportunity is going to present itself to him or her, so you have to be ready for that moment at all times. I will recommend this play to theatre goers because it has a clear irony of life.

The ENVELOPE PLEASE

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Thursday, November 12, 2015

mend-envelope “Mend the Envelope” written by Jason Lasky, directed by Jessica Schechter; Stage management and Lighting design by Maggie Larkin; Cello by Justin Zhao; Graphic design by William Bisgrove; and starring Nicholas Calhoun and Brittany Belinski.

On the stage, the audience observes its setting for the performance. It sees an object, piano, covered with a white cloth in one corner, a chair next to a table, a wheel chair in the middle of the room, and three boxes in different locations with names as labels on two of them on the other side of the room. Moments later, the audience hears music; and it sees Henry on stage as he searches a box on the floor with a multi-colored object, the remnant of an air balloon. He begins to sing and a voice speaks to him. Next, a woman voice is heard before she becomes visible to the audience. It’s Joanie, she assumes Henry fell out of his wheel chair, and she tries to help him back into the chair with unkind dialogues between both of them.

A telephone call interrupts the couple’s verbal interaction for a brief moment. Joanie picks up the cellular phone from the table, and she answers it. She passes the phone over to Henry to speak to one Mrs. Cooper. Joanie couldn’t wait to continue her barrage of questions for Henry, and she wants to know why a certain item was in their home. The audience witnesses the bickering between the couple in anticipation to what’s next in the scene.

Joanie tells Henry about her conversation with his brother, Steve. Henry uses this opportunity to accuse her of having sex and keeping secrets from him. Joanie confesses her loyalty and dedication to him; and he fights back by making reference to his family’s business. Joanie consoles her husband to use his other skills because of his disability, and she tries to convince him that people do care about him. In addition, Henry tells Joanie that the God of Abraham will help him.

Joanie tells Henry that he should be playing the piano, and he should get his sheet music for playing purposes. The audience sees Henry as he deals with his frustration, and his wife ushers him into reality with references of people with disabilities. Henry recalls the great life with his family, and he slips back into the reality when he thinks about the air balloon accident. The audience hears him speak with agony in his voice. He says, “I live with it.” Joanie responds to Henry’s comment, and the audience gets a clearer understanding of what is really going on between the couple. “You let him go!” These are the words that came out of Joanie’s mouth.

Joanie tells Henry that their son is buried next to her family at St. Paul’s, her mother’s family. Henry feels the betrayal of his wife’s decision, and he wants to know if he had married the right person. The audience’s attention to the couple’s issue heightens after Joanie revealed her broken promise to her husband, for she refused to give her son a Jewish burial. Joanie buried her son in a Catholic cemetery. She wants to take her husband to the grave site.
Something is too stagnant in the lives of Henry and Joanie, and she wants to get over the whole experience of losing her son. The audience watches the couple as they continue to focus on their loss. Henry speaks with great remorse in his voice, and he comes to terms with his role in the tragedy of his son’s death. He falls out of his chair and he cries on the floor. He says to his wife, “Why did I allow him to pull the cord? I told him not to look ….” Joanie joins Henry on the floor and they cry together. Henry then prays with the colorful sheet around him. Joanie goes to the piano, and she sits on the stool and begins to play. Henry walks over and he sits next to her at the piano.

The writer’s message touches the soul of the audience in this performance. He shows how important it is to be honest with oneself. Henry gets the relief he was looking for after he accepts responsibility for allowing his son to pull the cord. This breach in protocol became the genesis of the tragedy that almost destroyed the couple’s relationship. There is a strong possibility that this play will become a must-see performance for theatre goers.

ROBOPOP touches the audience to its core

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Wednesday, November 11, 2015

robopop3 “RoboPop,” Beat Boxer, Arabelle Luke; starring Annemarie Cullen, John de Guzmán, Dana Moore, Louie Pearlman, Patrick Reidy, Megan Reilly, Carolyn Faye Kramer, and Brian Rodriguez.

The audience sees the group on stage, and one of its members solicits a response from it. Each member of the cast portrays specific birds such as a parakeet, a canary, and tweety bird. The canary participates in the Pet store rap scene, and the connotation of a snitch, is someone who sings like a bird, the canary; when he or she finds himself or herself in trouble. A snitch usually gives up valuable information to law enforcement in order to obtain leniency for himself or herself. He or she doesn’t want to do hard time in prison. Also, the Pet store owner guards his birds from the cat.

In the next act, the audience sees the female who just wants to hang out with the opposite sex; but her date, the singer, has an ulterior motive in his mind for her. The audience gets the impression that she doesn’t like his singing. He refers to the woman’s breast as her chest, and she isn’t interested in any of his body parts. He assumes there is an unguarded vagina in close proximity, but the woman gets the last laugh. The audience relishes on the bantering between both of them.

During the Black sheep in the family scene, the audience reflects on its own ghost stories; for it sees Aunt Freda in the cave and identifies with her. Next, the Pet store owner tries to force a woman to kiss a bird, and the bird and the snake speak to her in the store. The animals attack the store owner, and they tell the woman to save them. Confusion erupts in the store, and Garfield the cat eats the bird.

The other scenes in the performance entertain the audience, for they reflect on the struggles of the human condition in gestures and words. The group shows the audience that no genre was off limit in its humor through rap songs.

The group’s performance touches the audience to its core. The Black sheep scene brings home the family dynamic that have plagued so many people and cultures for centuries. I will recommend this show to others especially theatre goers.

A DAD BY ANY OTHER NAME

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Wednesday, November 11, 2015

univers “The Universal Dad” by PJ Landers, directed by Anthony Grasso, Lighting and Tech by Tony Mann; starring PJ Landers.

The producer, Yasmin Siddiqui, introduces PJ to the audience, and he tells the audience about the other names for fathers, dad, in other languages around the world. He describes the neighborhood where he grew up in Queens, NY. The area to him was the United Nations without interpreters. There were bars on almost every block, and most of the fathers in the neighborhood frequent these taverns if they were not at work. The audience takes in every word out of PJ’s mouth after being mesmerized by his story. Also, the children in the neighborhood considered him to be the lucky one because he didn’t have a father around to abuse him. On Easter Sunday in 1980, PJ’s mom dropped a bombshell on him. She told him that she wasn’t married to his father.

PJ allows the audience to empathize with his mother. He tells his mother’s story that garnered support for him. He says that his grandmother died and his grandfather remarried, and they moved his mother out of her home to a boarding house across the street. The audience understands the plight of PJ’s mother as a teenager; but his grandfather served as his surrogate father. He articulates to the audience how he went to the bars with his grandfather. His grandfather was the king and PJ was the prince to the other guys. PJ says that he gained experience mixing drinks like a bartender at an early age.

PJ lets the audience know of a fight with another guy while he was visiting his grandfather. From his window, his grandfather yelled to him to fight back. He said, “Finish him.” PJ enlightens the audience that he didn’t know what “finish him” meant, but he won the fight by fighting back. Growing up being a red head wasn’t easy for PJ. He tells the audience that he was always accused for everything, true or false; and curious people wanted to know if that was his hair.

Being in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, his father’s name came up in conversation, and he realized then that his mother didn’t make up the story about his father. Years later, while working as an actor, doing background work in a cemetery scene; he started a conversation with another actor and he brought up his father’s name. The need to search for his father came about after his five-month old son grabbed his pinky finger. The bonding moment between PJ and his son triggered something in him, and he decided to search for his own father.

PJ tells the audience about his search. He got the telephone number and address from the Screen Actors Guild, SAG. He called the number without any luck, and he decided to go to Los Angeles. PJ apprises the audience of his wife’s remarks to him after he told her about his plan. She didn’t encourage her Magnum PI husband; but she drove him to the airport to catch the airplane. When PJ got to LA, he rented a car and he drove to his father’s address. After he got to the building, he saw a man in a wheel chair; and he was able to find out from the residents the whereabouts of his father that yielded results. Eventually, the moment of truth came when PJ’s father came down the elevator to the lobby.

PJ tells the audience how he refreshed his father’s memory about his mother and her uncle’s business where they met. By now, PJ is in his father’s apartment, and he wanted him to call his mother. He looked around the apartment, and he called his mother. His father wanted to know what he did for work. Both of them catch up on personal information. He let his father know that he’s an actor and stand-up comic. PJ and his father had dinner at Barone’s Italian Restaurant, and he introduced him as his son to the patrons. After dinner, they went back to the apartment.

PJ tells the audience that his father provided a bed for him in the living room, and they sized up each other before he fell asleep. PJ’s father wanted to look at him, but PJ’s thoughts flashed on his grandpa who died in 1980. He has a hole in his heart for his grandfather although he wanted to sleep and being tired. They were able to have lunch at brunch, and his father told him that he and Joan Collins were friends. PJ and his father took pictures and hug each other; and he watched his father waved goodbye. He wanted to get back to New York City to his son.

PJ communicates to the audience that he kept in touch with his father after he came back to New York City. His father mentioned to PJ that he was scheduled to take some tests at the VA hospital. Not too long after their telephone conversations, PJ says he received a call from his father’s doctor. The doctor told him that his father had advanced lung cancer. PJ asked the doctor specific questions about the status of his father, but the doctor wanted him to come immediately to see his father. PJ tells the audience that he traveled to LA to visit his father in the hospital. He was on the 4th floor in the hospital. He was greeted by his father’s doctor that he was in his last stage in life. PJ utters to the audience that the doctor presented a DNR form, do not resuscitate; but the final decision rested on his father’s signature on the form.

PJ tells the audience that his father asked him about his mother, and he wanted to know what he should do with the paper. PJ let his father know that if he signed the paper, he would be signing his death warrant. PJ’s father had regrets and he acknowledged them on his death bed. He was ready to sign the form, and he wished he had something to leave for PJ. PJ tells the audience that he consoled his father, and he said, “It’s okay, pops.” He comforted him! He said, “Your grandson will know your name.”

PJ says to the audience that he had to come back to New York City because he was booked for a commercial and he had to leave LA. PJ declares again that he was crying on his way to the airport, and he stopped to take in the scenery. He ended up helping some guys to save a whale. The whale looked at him, and he communicated with the whale. He let the audience know that a flat-bed truck was waiting to transport it to an aquarium. After that, people on the scene cheered them on.

When PJ got back to New York City, he told his wife about his experience. Dr. Green called him! PJ relates the doctor’s conversation to the audience. He said, “Your father has expired. His heart failed and they didn’t resuscitate him. PJ says to the audience that he did not cry, but he picked up his son and he hugged him. PJ tells the audience that he promised to tell his son his story and how he met his grandfather.

Don’t DePass-up a night with Steve

INOLA ON THE AISLE@ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Steve2 “Steve DePass: An Evening with America’s Singing Poet.” starring Steve DePass.

The audience sees a piano and microphone on the stage. Steve enters the stage and he interacts immediately with the audience. He instructs Bill Gulino, his piano player to play the melody in B-flat. Steve gets back to his introduction and he informs the audience that his show-business career began at the Palace Theatre in 1938 when he was five years old.

Steve takes the audience through a series of songs as he gives an oral history of his career and the places and people he met along the way. Steve asks the audience for its preference, as to what he should sing; and he adheres to the audience wishes. He sings a Blues rendition that took the audience back in time. Steve gives the audience a rare brand of showmanship in his performance.

Steve brings the horrors of life alive in song, and he tells a story of a man he met at a barber shop whose story almost made the audience cry. He brings the audience back to World War II, and before he delivers his story in song, he allows the audience to get a glimpse of how the southern states were like for blacks less than 75 years ago. The barber shops in many states in the north were the hub of black lives where they congregate to get a haircut or just to socialize with their friends and acquaintances.

Steve tells the story of a black man who served in the military during the WWII, and when he returned home to the south; he became friendly with the daughter of the man who owned the general store in the community. It was forbidden for black men to fraternize with white women at one time in the southern United States. This soldier boy befriended this white woman and the news got back to her father. Steve tells the story that soldier boy had to get out of his community in haste because the white woman’s father wanted to teach him a lesson. In those days, lynching was a common endeavor for white men to carry out against black men. Soldier boy didn’t want to find out his fate. Some may consider him a coward, but he skipped town in order to save his life.

The white woman found herself pregnant and helpless, and the black minister in the community gave her a job as his maid. Years later, the lady was dying and she managed to write a letter and mail it to the soldier. The lady left out some pertinent information, the part about her dying; but soldier boy took the trip back to his community. Steve tells the audience that the soldier boy got back home just in time for the funeral. Now, it was time for the father to make acquaintance with his son. He had to break the whole story to him in a gentle manner.

Steve brings home the story to the audience, and he articulates the facts in a very dramatic way. He tells the audience that Soldier boy’s persistence paid off. He frequented the grave site, and one day he was able to talk with his son. He told him the whole story. Steve tells the audience in song. It was a happy ending. Steve reminds the audience of the importance of the barber shops in the community.

Later, he brings the audience into his world as he reminds it of the famous people he had worked with throughout the years. He has ranges in singing that allows him to change genre from Blues to Afro-Caribbean songs. Steve is a very versatile performer. His is very proud of his career. This is a performance I can see again for Steve knows how to bring the audience into his routine.

REAL good deal.

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Real “Real” by Conlan Carter, directed by Paul Morris and Cassandra Lewis; and starring Corrin Carlson, Conlan Carter, Evan Arbour, and Evan Wilberg.

The audience sees three people on stage. It’s divided into two apartments. Sydney sits on the floor and she speaks to Ben. She doubts herself! She doesn’t know why she threw her boyfriend out of their apartment. On the other side of the stage, Aaron stoops on the floor and he folds his clothes with a clothes basket next to him. The activities in both apartment allow the audience to increase its interest in the performance.

Sydney and Ben continue to drink wine. She gives Ben a blow-by-blow report of Justin’s behavior after Christmas in her parents’ home. He tries to pacify Sydney. Sydney reminds Ben that her mother witnessed her confrontation with her fiancé. She tries to clean up a mess on the floor as she seeks advice from Ben. He has his own problems, and he is very secretive about them.

By this time, Justin shows up at Aaron’s place. He wants to smoke his weed in his apartment.
Reluctantly, Aaron allows him to smoke. Both Aaron and Justin get into a heated conversation with a little misunderstand, but they share the weed. However, Justin comes clean with Aaron and he tells him the truth about things Sydney is not privy too about him. Aaron gives him sound advice about coming clean with his situation. In their conversation, Ben’s name comes up. Aaron experiences a mixed emotional feeling.

Sydney tries to get Ben to confide in her as she pesters him with certain questions. She knows about Daniel. Ben evades the question as long as he could before he gives her a reasonable answer. In the other apartment, Justin tells Aaron certain information about Ben. Aaron reveals his secret to Justin about his sleeping arrangement with Ben. The audience gets an earful of a salacious drama. Justin says no one connects with him, and Aaron reminds him that he needs not to overthink his problems. Justin considers himself a rolling stone. They need to settle down to something. Aaron calls Ben immediately. He wants to talk with him.

The writer’s gets his message across because the performance enlightens the audience that one can’t run away from his or her problems. Problems can be solved if and when someone is man or woman enough to let the other person into his or her world. Relationship should be able to withstand the good and bad times. Keeping secrets is a recipe for disaster among couples. I will recommend this show to theatre goers for “Real” is a reality check for couples. It doesn’t get any better than this.

достойным выступление

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Tuesday, November 10, 2015

kiev “Leaving Kiev” by Mila Levine, directed by Mary Catherine Donnelly; Technical direction by Tony Mann; and starring Mila Levine. The audience sees a map of the Ukraine on the wall above the stage. The location of Kiev is marked by a black star, covered by a round circle in red, in the middle of the country. Kiev is the capital city of the Ukraine, and the river Dnieper flows through it. Belarus is located to the north of Ukraine, and Russia is located on the north-eastern side of the Ukraine.

The performer informs the audience about the past activities that happened in the Ukraine in 1976 and beyond. She comes from a long line of progressive people. At the age of six years old, her best friend betrayed her. She tells the audience that her trip to the library was not a joyful one, for she was ashamed to be Jewish or being so ashamed of not acknowledging her heritage. Mila tells the audience that her mother had her moments with people in Kiev who displayed anti-Semitism against them, and she defended her culture in her presence.

It was a tradition for members of Mila’s family to study how to play the piano. In Mila’s case, she tells the audience that her piano teacher was not a nice person. However, she survived the cruelty of the teacher, and she brings the captured audience into her world of her imaginary friends in Kiev. Mila got her travel visa. She speaks about her life after the visa, and she reminds the audience about how she was unable to travel with her writing. It was said that her writing would be taken away from the family if she traveled with it.

Mila speaks about her experience during and after their goodbye party in the former USSR, in Kiev. She claims that her old friend and her mother visited their apartment regularly, and they exchanged gifts. Mila had to leave certain things behind before she left Kiev with her family, and she realized that the people really liked her. Mila tells her story about her life before leaving Kiev in 1989 with warmth and sincerity. She relates to the audience that a man came to see her off at the railroad station before she left Kiev on her trip to Moscow. They exchanged pleasantries with each other. Mila and her family made it to Moscow, and they embarked the airplane in that city for the United States.

Mila gives the audience a feeling of elation when she reminisce about her trip. Her plane ride to the US was a memorable journey. Mila says she sat next to a man, and her guitar was on his lap. She lets the audience know that she wondered what he was saying. He wanted the guitar on his lap. Perhaps, the man just wanted to be nice to a young girl sitting next to him.

Mila’s story allows the audience to get a glimpse of an immigrant’s experience before she arrived in the United States of America. Some people have to endure so much before they can immigrate to this country. Things have changed in Kiev because after Mila left the Ukraine, the USSR was dismantled. The USSR finally collapsed in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin seized power in the aftermath of a failed coup that toppled Mikhail Gorbachev’s government. This is a worthy performance that theatre goers need to see and experience how other people live.

“The audience gets its monies’ worth from Vickie’s performance on stage.”

INOLA ON THE AISLE @ MITF: FALL
The First Annual MITF: FALL
Jewel Box Theatre @ Workshop Theatre Company
312West 36th Street, 4nd Floor, New York, NY
On Sunday, November 08, 2015

1610976_10153023253908873_8682418290875225718_n “Vickie Phillips, A Carousel of Colors….” with the songs of Jacques Brel, Kurt Weill, and Charles Aznavour” directed musically by Gerry Dieffenbach; and starring Vickie Phillips.

The audience gets its monies’ worth from Vickie’s performance on stage. Her selection of songs and the warmth she associates with them takes her show to a new high. Vickie tells the audience all of the backstories behind the work of each composer, and it allows it to reminisce about world history. Her search for the truth behind the genesis of each song allows her to convey a sense of enlightenment to the audience.

Vickie’s performance allows the mature audience to revisit its youthful years through memories. The audience relives its youth at the show through her singing of these special songs. She reminds the audience that love keeps harmony in the world, and without it the devil laughs. Before she leaves the stage, Vickie thanks the audience, John Chatterton and his staff for a wonderful job they are doing.

Vickie Phillips’ cabaret performance is one of distinction, and I surely recommend it to patrons of the theatre and other venues to see her in action. She’s the best in her area of expertise.