Tag Archive | Play

Theater Review: The Lighting Thief, The Percy Jackson Musical

Lightning Thief Marquee
Above Photo and Playbill Image By Gail. All Other Performance Photos By Jeremy Daniel.

You just can’t keep a good thing down. Nine years after it debuted as a major motion picture, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical – based on the New York Times best-selling book, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, is back with a national theater run. The two-act rock musical, written by Rob Rokicki and Joe Tracz (Be More Chill), first played in NYC in 2017 for a short run. Due to the show’s popularity, fans of the book series demanded that the play be available to a larger audience, and a National Tour was launched in January. This past week, the tour made a four-day stop at NYC’s Beacon Theatre, and I was able to check it out.

Fans of the book, and those who have seen the 2010 movie adaptation, already know how things play out, but for the sake of avoiding too many big spoilers for those who are coming into the story fresh, I’ll give you a Reader’s Digest Condensed version of the plot. Percy Jackson (Chris McCarrell) is a teenager from Long Island, NY who struggles with ADD and Dyslexia, has a knack for unwittingly causing drama at school, and can’t figure out why he feels like such a misfit among his peers (“The Day I Got Expelled”).

Chris McCarrell and Jalynn Steele Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Percy (Chris McCarrell) is Comforted by his Mom, Sally (Jalynn Steele)

Percy’s mom, Sally (Jalynn Steele), who has raised him mostly on her own, has a pretty good idea of what the issue might be, and it has a lot to do with who Percy’s father is. Unwilling to directly address the identity of her son’s progenitor, she encourages Percy to embrace his unique attributes (“Strong”), reminds him that “normal is a myth,” and signs him up to attend a special summer camp, which turns out to be Camp Half-Blood. Arriving at camp, Percy discovers that the one trait he shares with his fellow campers is that they’re all demigods – kids with one mortal parent and one parent who is a Greek god (“The Campfire Song”). That’s right; it’s heavy.

Annabeth Percy and Grover
Annabeth (Kristin Stokes), Percy and Grover (Jorrel Javier) Begin The Quest!

Requesting a sign from the Universe to reveal his divine parent, Percy discovers that his dad is not just some dude his mom hooked-up with on the beach, but Poseidon, god of the sea. While act one serves to set Percy up with his de rigueur epic quest (“Killer Quest”), the real action takes place in act two. Our hero is told that he must retrieve Zeus’s lightning bolt – which Percy himself is suspected of having stolen – in order to prevent a war among the Greek gods. Percy and his two close friends – Grover (Jorrel Javier), a satyr who is the son of Pan, and Annabeth (Kristin Stokes) daughter of Athena – set out on a cross-country journey (“Lost”), during which the trio must battle a variety of monsters on their quest to discover who the real Lightning Thief is. Eventually, they arrive at The Underworld, which just happens to be located in Los Angeles – appropriate! To find out how the showdown goes down, you will have to see the play for yourself!

As a testament to the degree of talent in the cast, each actor — except for Chris McCarrell, because he is in every scene — handles two or more roles in the play. On the technical front, this production of The Lightning Thief is creatively staged, making clever use of its minimal sets and lighting. Particularly visually impressive is a backdrop of programmed strip-lights used to recreate various environments, from the dripping walls of a damp cave, to the flames of lapping fire that fill The Underworld. Resourceful use of props to create fun special effects include using unspooled rolls of toilet paper and a leaf blower to simulate storms, which also elicits big laughs from kids in the audience. The show is also performed with the added energy of a live band, for a real Rock & Roll feel!

Ryan Knowles as Medusa
Ryan Knowles as Medusa

The Lightning Thief’s mythical theme lends the play a crossover appeal for fans of Harry Potter, and it’s a great companion piece to young adult-focused musicals with storylines more grounded in reality, such as Dear Evan Hansen and the off-Broadway production, Out Of My Comfort Zone. The Lightning Thief also offers a terrific crash course in Greek mythology (Percy is actually short for Perseus), which is always fascinating. Ultimately, The Lighting Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical conveys a strong message of claiming one’s own destiny. Even if, as the lyrics to “Campfire Song” suggest, “Things couldn’t be worse, when your parents run the universe,” the sins of the father are not necessarily to be laid upon the children. It’s possible to transcend the circumstances you were born into, no matter what “monsters” you may face.

Luke and Percy
Luke (James Hayden Rodriguez) and Percy Do Battle!

As an aside, I feel compelled to include information about a fan-driven campaign currently taking place on Twitter. When the show kicked off in Chicago this past January, there was great excitement created via social media. Fans were thrilled that the show was going to be seen by so many but, sadly, not everyone has the means to afford a ticket. A group of loyal fans stepped up and created #HalfbloodsHelpingHalfBloods, a campaign which has so far raised over $2000 to help dozens of Percy Jackson fans, who otherwise would not have the opportunity, to attend a performance. Here’s how it works: first sign onto Twitter. If you’re a fan (a ‘half-blood‘) in need of a ticket, tweet the city/date for which you need a ticket using the hashtag #HalfbloodsHelpingHalfbloods. If you’re a fan who can sponsor a ticket, reply to a tweet under the hashtag and pair up! This heartwarming grassroots effort speaks volumes about The Lightning Thief and its community of devoted fans.

Upcoming stops for The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical include cities in North Carolina, California, Louisiana, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida, with performances scheduled through Mid-July. This play is suitable for all ages, and has a two-hour runtime, including a 15 minute intermission. Visit Lighting Thief The Musical to learn more about the show and purchase tickets at a theater in your area!

Lightning Thief Program

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Eye On Design: Vintage Toys By Wham-O

Wham-o Toys Display
All Photos By Gail

Childhood friends Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr formed Wham-O in their Pasadena garage in 1948. They championed outdoor fun that demanded children’s energy  — throwing, catching, hip-swinging, sliding — and ample space.

Slip 'N Slide

Wham-O jumped from fad to fad: Frisbees, Hula Hoops, Superballs, Slip ‘n Slides, Silly String and Hacky Sacks are just a few of Wham-O’s inventions.

Hula Hoops and Frisbee

Photographed as part of the Exhibit Play! at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles.

The Imbible, an Intoxicating New Theater Experience!

Imbible Title Card
All Photos By Gail

Do you like drinking? I sure do. If you enjoy drinking and you also like going to the theater, maybe you have wished that there was a play where the actors brought cocktails right to your seat for you to enjoy during the show. That would be insane, right? What a great idea! Well, what if I told you that this is not just a beautiful, utopian dream, but that it is already happening right now? Yes, it is true, and this magical event happens at New World Stages in midtown. The show is called The Imbible: a Spirited History of Drinking, and the cherry on the cake is that it all takes place in a bar!

Imbible Signage

Imbible Table

When you arrive at the theater, head down stairs, veer off to the left, and you will be escorted to your seat in the Green Room lounge. Water and a free bowl of fresh popcorn will be brought to your table for you to snack on while you wait for the show to begin. The Imbible was created by world-renowned mixologist Anthony Caporale, who looks a little bit like actor Joe Manganello, whose photo I have just hyperlinked, for your reference.

Host Anthony Caporale

By infusing Anthony’s knowledge of the cocktail, his charming personality, and an in-depth but also hilarious look at the history of alcohol, with music and a lighthearted, vaudevillian vibe, The Imbible becomes a singularly unique, immersive theater experience that you will not want to miss. Plus: getting wasted is included in the price of the show!

Imbible Cast
Allessandra Migliaccio, Luke Schaffer and Ruthellen Cheney also Star in The Imbible

As Anthony takes you on an intoxicating and utterly fascinating historical  journey, a singing trio called The Backwaiters, made up of a Cocktail Waitress, Liquor Runner, and Bar Back, assist him with demonstrations and perform Acapella versions of familiar tunes, whose lyrics have been modified to be about drinking and alcohol. Fun! To coincide with the story about how beer was (probably) invented, after a farmer left a basket of wheat out in the rain (all stories are re-enacted by The Backwaiters), you will be served your first cocktail of the evening, which is called a Shandy, comprised of 8 ounces of Coney Island Overpass IPA and 4 ounces of Ginger Ale. Very refreshing!

Imbible Cast Chemistry

As the performers ‘distill’ alcohol’s 10,000-year global history over the course of  2 hours, Anthony pours through beverage history, the science of alcohol, and its economic and political impact on our cultural development, all while brewing beer, distilling spirits, and singing with The Backwaiters. Trust me that you will leave the Green Room educated, entertained, and buzzing with spirit!

Imbible Cast Chemists

You are going to learn all about the process of Distillation! Fascinating!

Dates of Prohibition

And you will learn all about Prohibition. Did you know that it lasted thirteen years? Oh, the humanity!

End of Prohibiton Headline

But Prohibition finally ended and it was time to enjoy another drink!

Lilac Creamsicle Old Fashioned

Your second cocktail of the evening will be some variation of an Old Fashioned, which is always made with Bourbon and Bitters with some kind of sweet flavoring, and served on the rocks. At the performance I attended, it was a Lilac Creamsicle Old Fashioned, and it was delicious!

Casks

My favorite parts of the show were when the audience got to learn something about the medical uses of alcohol through the ages, and how sometimes the medical experimentation resulted in the creation of a favorite cocktail recipe, such as the Gin and Tonic. You see, in the 1800s, daily rations of Gin and Tonic Water (which contains Quinine) were given to British soldiers to protect them against the symptoms of Malaria. They added limes to make the concoction more palatable, and the G & T (my personal favorite drink) was born!

Gin and Tonic

This Gin and Tonic, the third and final cocktail of the evening, was made with Bombay Sapphire Gin and was among the most excellent versions of this drink I have had to date!

I didn’t know exactly what to expect when we sat down in the Green Room for this show, but I can say that The Imbible exceeded my expectations and is a show I will never forget. I would recommend trying to get into the 5 PM performance on Saturday so that you can catch a decent buzz and then go talk about how much fun the show was while you enjoy a delicous dinner! For being hilarious, educational and a fantastic entertainment value, The Worley Gig gives The Imbible Five out of Five Stars!

Tickets for The Imbible Start at $79, but you can follow This Link to get $10 per Ticket Discount on Your Order! Three Craft Cocktails (and free Popcorn) are included, and all Seats are Great! Showtimes are Monday, Thursday and Friday at 8:00 PM, and Saturday at 5:00 and 8:00 PM. Run Time is  2 Hours, which includes a 15 minute intermission/ bathroom break. New World Stages is Located at 340 West 50th Street Between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan. Visit This Link For More Information!

Boot Worn By Mrs. Potts in Beauty and The Beast

Mrs Potts Boot
Photos By Gail

This colorful, lace-up ankle boot is one of a pair of boots worn by the actress playing the character of Mrs. Potts in the Broadway production of Disney musical, Beauty and The Beast. Aren’t they fantastic? If it weren’t for these photos you would probably never have seen this rad boot, as Mrs. Potts‘ feet are generally obscured by her nearly floor-length skirt (and the fact that she is, you know, a human teapot).

Mrs Potts Boot

Photographed in the Museum of the City of New York in Upper Manhattan

New Play, Collaboration: Warhol & Basquiat Coming to Here’s Mainstage Theatre – December 2nd!

Collaboration Warhol Basquiat
Ira Denmark as Andy Warhol and Calvin Levels as Jean-Michel Basquiat (Photo Courtesy or Devious Planet)

Fans of artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat will not want to miss an exciting new play coming to the off-Broadway stage just in time for the Christmas season. Staged Dreams is pleased to present the world premiere of Collaboration: Warhol & Basquiat, a new American play written by Tony Award nominee, Calvin Levels and directed by Tony Award nominee, Lonny Price.

Collaboration: Warhol & Basquiat is a dramatic portrayal of the symbiotic relationship between two of the twentieth century’s greatest artists. Collaboration captures a historic art-world moment as the iconic Pop artist Andy Warhol and the Neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat attempt to navigate the perilous terrain of art and fame while collaborating on a joint series of paintings for their New York City gallery exhibition. The accomplished cast features Calvin Levels as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ira Denmark as Andy Warhol and Frank van Putten in the role of European art dealer Rudolfo Happesberger.  Get your tickets now for this very limited engagement!

Collaboration: Warhol & Basquiat Runs from Friday December 2nd through Thursday December 22, 2016 at Here’s MainStage Theatre, Located at 145 Sixth Ave. (entrance on Dominick St one block south of Spring), Soho, NYC. Performance Times are Wednesdays thru Fridays at 8:30PM, Saturdays at 4:00PM and 8:30PM, and Sundays at 4:00PM. Running time is 2 hours, including a intermission. For tickets and information please visit Here.org, or call the Box Office at (212) 352-3101, or toll free at (866) 811-4111. All Tickets are $25.

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Domino Set By David Shrigley

Domino Set By David Shrigley
All Photos By Gail

Ah, David Shrigley, we love his heavily-warped worldview and sense of the absurd! This Domino Set designed by Shrigley is part of the new Play collection, a collaboration between the artist and Third Drawer Down Studios, as offered by the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Domino Set By David Shrigley
Domino Tile Details

There’s rarely a dull moment when you’re playing games with David Shrigley. Instead of the traditional uniform of matching dots and tiles, you’ll find characters such as Skulls, Grumpy Old Men, and Raggedy Cats on each tile, which makes this 28-piece set a perfect diversion for when you or your partner are plotting your next move.

Available in the Gift Shop at the New Museum of Contemporary Art on Bowery and Prince Street in lower Manhattan, priced at $65 per set, $55.25 for Members.

Domino Set By David Shrigley

Theater Review: Rocket to the Moon

Rocket to the_Moon
Ned Eisenberg and Katie McClellan Star in Rocket to The Moon (Image Source)

When an oft-visited Water Cooler is the undeniable focal point in a multi-act play’s only set, you can place a safe bet that themes of Thirst and Relief — in all of their figurative and literal meanings — are sure to be explored. Currently in a limited engagement revival at Theatre at St. Clement’s, Clifford Odet’s Rocket to the Moon is set in 1938 during a sweltering NYC summer, and the heat isn’t the only thing that’s oppressive. Dentist Ben Stark (Ned Eisenberg) — whose Midtown Manhattan office provides the story’s setting — is experiencing a worrisome decline in business, as is his fellow dentist and tenant, Dr. Phil Cooper (Larry Bull), who doesn’t offer Ben much hope that his months-in-arrears rent will be paid any time soon. Ben is also treated like a doormat by his wife Belle (Marilyn Matarrese), a woman from a wealthy family who surely expected to be living a more comfortable and upwardly mobile lifestyle than what her husband is providing. Clearly, no one is too happy.

The office’s somber atmosphere is enlivened somewhat by the presence of Ben’s attractive young secretary, Cleo Singer (Katie McClellan), an ambitious and optimistic 19-year old who sees people around her settling for less than their dreams and refuses to accept the same fate for herself. Frequent visitors to the office include the Podiatrist who works down the hall, Dr.Walter “Frenchy” Jensen (Michael Keyloun) who appears openly contemptuous of Cleo’s cheerful demeanor. Ben’s eccentric father-in-law, Mr. Prince (Jonathan Hadary), also drops by on a regular basis to further the action in different ways. Mr. Prince appears to have his daughter’s best interest in mind, as he encourages Ben to move his practice uptown to a more affluent neighborhood (a move he offers to subsidize). But it becomes obvious how little he thinks of Belle, and clarifies that it’s Ben whom he considers to be more of a son, when he openly suggests that Ben cheer himself up by embarking on an affair with Cleo. What makes his suggestion somewhat confounding is the fact that Mr. Prince wants Cleo for himself, and he begins aggressively court her. Way to make things awkward at home!

Though times have certainly changed since it was written, Rocket to the Moon remains a fascinating and timeless character study about people trapped by poor decisions and imperiled financial situations who dare to take charge of their own destinies, as Ben and Cleo’s relationship leads both individuals to transform their lives in expected ways. The acting is excellent all around (Jonathan Hadary as Mr. Prince is particularly colorful), and Dan Wackerman’s direction keeps the story focused. Rocket to the Moon at Theatre at St. Clement’s is a production of The Peccadillo Theater Company in association with La Femme Theatre Productions.

Theatre at St. Clement’s (housed in a former church) is located at 423 West 46th Street (West of 9th Avenue). Performances through March 28th, 2015 are Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays at 2pm and 7pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $75 with premium seating available, and are available by phoning OvationTix at 212-352-3101 or by visiting them online at This Link.