Thursday, May 12, 2022

another great play by Alice Childress: Wedding Band


Of all the fine plays I saw last year, Trouble in Mind, by the late, great Alice Childress, was my favorite, so I was thrilled to learn that another play of hers, Wedding Band, was being revived by Theater for a New Audience.

I saw Wedding Band last weekend and found it, if anything, even more brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable than Trouble in Mind. Directed by Awoye Timpo, it's performed by a terrific cast, with the extraordinary Brittany Bradford in the lead role of Julie, a black woman in love with a white man she can't legally marry. Though set in 1918, the play feels as timely as ever.  

Wedding Band has just been extended until May 22. Catch if if you possible can.

Meanwhile Trouble in Mind has just received several well-deserved Tony nominations, including best play revival, lead actress (LaChanze), and featured actor (Chuck Cooper). I hope that more Childress revivals are in the works--I'd like to see everything she wrote. She's one of the greats.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

A BLOCK IN TIME: Christiane Bird's latest

My friend Christiane Bird, a wonderful writer and intrepid traveler, has authored several classics, beginning with The Jazz and Blues Lover's Guide to the U.S. (first published in 1991, now in its third edition).

Next came Neither East Nor West: One Woman's Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran (2001) which begins thus:

"I went to Iran to flirt with my childhood. I went to Iran to court the unknown. I went to Iran to see the effects of the Islamic Revolution for myself."

She followed with another book on the Middle East, based on her travels in Kurdistan and research into the history and culture of the Kurdish people: A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts: Journeys in Kurdistian (2004).

 Next, in 2010, came a fascinating popular history, The Sultan's Shadow: One Family's Rule at the Crossroads of East and West.
I can't wait to read her latest, A Block in Time, which, in Chris's words, "tells the story of NYC through the prism of a single block and the lives of people who once lived and worked there. Among them: a freed slave, who was the first owner of the block; a Dutch family with ties to the pirate Captain Kidd; an abortionist rumored to have had an affair with a high-society man; and an arriviste who dared breach the social hierarchy of the Gilded Age."
The block in question is next to Madison Square Park: 23rd Street to 24th Street between Broadway/Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. Tomorrow, Monday, March 21, she'll be reading close to that block: at Rizzoli's Bookstore, 1133 Broadway.  (I'll be there.)
Then on March 23, at 12:35 pm, she'll be doing a radio interview with Alison Stewart on WNYC. I'll try to catch that, too.

JANE ANGER at the New Ohio Theatre


Back in 1589, one Jane Anger published the earliest known feminist pamphlet in English, Jane Anger, her Protection for Women. Pretty much all we know about Jane (assuming she was indeed a she) is in those pages, of which only one copy survives.  

But playwright Talene Monahon has huge fun envisioning a history for Jane involving William Shakespeare in Jane Anger: The Lamentable Comedie of Jane Anger, that Cunning Woman, and also of Willy Shakefpeare and his Peasant Companion, Francis, Yes and Also of Anne Hathaway (also a Woman) Who Tried Very Hard.

As you might assume from the title, this is no deep dive into feminist history, but it is deeply hilarious, providing many a welcome belly-laugh. 

Played with over-the-top verve and gusto by Amelia Workman as Jane, Michael Urie as Shakespeare, Ryan Spahn as Francis, and Monahon as Anne Hathaway, and directed by Jess Chayes, it's at the New Ohio Theatre through March 26.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Saturday, March 12, 2022


One sign that New York City theater life is beginning to return to some semblance of normal is a new, live show by the Talking Band.  The last time I saw a show of theirs in a theater was Theater of No Illusions in February, 2019--a show that in retrospect might seem to have been slightly prophetic, set, as it was at a funeral parlor near the US-Canadian border where two asylum seekers take refuge.

Last night was opening night of their latest--Lemon Girls or Art for the Artless--which La Mama, their frequent venue, describes as  "A comedic and revelatory music and dance/theater celebration of older women and the thrill of unlikely art."

 Sounds good to me!  I'll be at this Sunday's matinee.  You have till March 27 to catch it.




Friday, March 4, 2022

Art of Glass

 A few days ago I wandered into a gallery specializing in art glass, and in their back room found a small show of extraordinary works by by Lino Tagliapietra, a glass artist in his late 80s, who's recently retired from glass blowing,

The show will be running through this Saturday and possibly into early next week at the Heller Gallery, on 10th Ave. just south of 28th Street in Chelsea.  

For further information, check out 


where you can see a video of the artist at work.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

my favorite play this year: Trouble in Mind

After a successful run off-Broadway in 1955, Alice Childress's first full-length play was scheduled to open on Broadway.  But Trouble in Mind had some tough things to say about racism in the theater, so the author was asked to asked to tone it down.  She refused--and the run was canceled.  Now, a mere 66 years later, you can catch Childress's masterpiece on Broadway with an excellent cast led by the brilliant LaChanze, Tony Award winner for The Color Purple. Produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, it's running through January 9 at the American Airlines Theatre.  Don't miss it!