that girl allison

I'm Allison. I see a ton of theatre. I'm a fan of Green Day, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Weezer, Oasis, Adam Rapp, Emily Giffin, and Shakespeare. I run sometimes, and do yoga always.

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thatgirlallison08 at gmail dot com

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Last weekend I went to see The Money Shot by Neil LaBute at MCC. I usually like LaBute. I loved reasons to be pretty, Dirty Talk, etc. 

This was basically a 90 minute episode of a sitcom that doesn’t exist. (and thank goodness for that) One about how awful Hollywood actors and their culture is out in LA. Two washed-up actors have a shot to be ‘big’ again if they shoot ‘the money shot’ scene of a movie and actually have sex. They’ve come together this evening with their partners to discuss this out in the open. As you can imagine, it all worked out. (Not.)

Did it have it’s moments? Yes. Were laugh-out-loud lines? Yes. Did this need to be 90 minutes? No. Not at all. The characters were also highly unlikeable. The cast did the best job they could with a pointless script though - they were hilarious. 

MCC is usually fantastic, but this is probably down at the bottom of the list of the shows I’ve seen there. I have higher hopes for the next one though. Hey, not every production can be a homerun. 

 As much as I liked This Is Our Youth, I would have to say that if you see one play on Broadway this year, it should definitely be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (based on the book of the same name). This National Theatre transfer from London tells the story of Christopher Boone, a teenager in England with autism who is investigates the death of his neighbors dog and finals out a lot about his family in the process.

The story is simple, but it’s the direction (by Marianne Elliot), set design (by Bunny Christie), and lighting (by Paule Constable) that really make this piece come to life. I wish I could describe it better without spoiler alerts, but I can’t. The audience is really served with a fantastic idea of what it’s like to live with autism.

The ensemble cast is fantastic and work together to bring the ten thousand moving pieces of this play together. The stand out, of course, is Alex Sharp as Christopher Boone. This kid just graduated Juilliard in May and if they don’t give him a Tony Award for his performance, it will be a crime. His portrayal of an autistic child seems genuine and not forced at all.

Make sure you have your coffee before though as it’s 2 hours and 45 minutes long. But it’s fantastic and I was never bored (and my favorite words in the English language are “ninety minutes, no intermission.”). I sat dead center in the last row of the orchestra and the seats were perfect. I know there are $27 tickets in the rear mezzanine or balcony, and if you have the means, I’d encourage everyone to go grab one of these as close to the center as you can and enjoy, and be moved.

Last Thursday I was invited to see Company XIV’s latest production, Rococo Rouge. Last season’s Nutcracker Rouge was so fantastic that I couldn’t wait.

Rococo didn’t have a plot though - it was mostly just touching upon Louis XIV’s favorite sins with a lot of fantastic dancing and some opera.

The dancing was fantastic and raunchy and everything I’d expect from Company XIV. I even enjoyed the company member named Katrina Cunningham (pictured) who sang a few songs and sounded a fantastic amount like Adele. What I wish they would have spread out a bit more evenly, or if I’m being completely honest cut entirely, was the opera singing. It was too much and I was really expecting just a lot of fantastic dancing. So maybe it was me that was the problem.

In any case, I really enjoyed Rococo Rouge regardless of the excessive opera. And Company XIV’s new space down on Lafayette is sexy and fabulous too.

I went to Here Lies Love again last night with Kristen after a long day of scavenger hunting at the Museum of Natural History, hanging at Boat Basin, and dinner and drinking with my colleagues.

I was very tired and sore and still quite smashed by the end of the night. Here Lies Love is still such a cool immersive experience. Jaygee Macapugay was on as Imelda, and she was great. She doesn’t look as much like Imelda as Ruthie Ann Miles does, but she had a really great voice. 

No matter what you may think of Fatboy Slim, or David Byrne, or Imelda Marcos, I say get thee to the Public Theater to experience this ASAP.

I was invited to the first preview of Love Letters last weekend starring Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow. I knew nothing about it going in but it was 90 minutes, no intermission, and the stars are fantastic, so I was excited. Love Letters was originally off-Broadway and then on Broadway in 1989. It had a weekly rotating cast, which is going to be sort-of replicated on Broadway this time around too .

Love Letters is the most simple play you can imagine. Two actors sitting at table onstage reading letters back and forth to each other. Some are only a sentence, some are a page long. We journeyed with these two characters from the time that they were 8 years old and passing notes in class until they’ve both been married multiple times, with children, and careers, and problems. It’s funny, serious, sad, charming, and slightly depressing (towards the end).

This play was slightly reminiscent of the movie One Day, which follows two people throughout a number of years and much unrequited love. 

I walked out of Love Letters completely moved by these actors, the story they told through letters, and the uncomplicated way that it was presented. 

For more information, click here.

On Tuesday night I went to see a preview performance of the Broadway transfer of Steppenwolf’s, “This Is Our Youth,” by Kenneth Lonergan. I was extremely excited because I remember really enjoying reading the play in college and I adore both Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin. I didn’t actually remember what the play was about, and I didn’t know whether or not Michael Cera could actually act onstage, but I had high hopes going into the show.

This Is Our Youth is about affluent youth living on the Upper West Side in the early 80’s, trying to figure out their next steps in life, deciding whether or not to continue using various drugs, and attempting to be independent from their parents. After one of their friends, and primary dealers, dies during the night, they contemplate what they’re doing with their youth and if THIS is how they want to remember it.

Michael Cera, as Warren, was great onstage. He did what he does best: lanky, socially-awkward teenager. My favorite was Kieran Culkin though. I’ve seen him onstage a few times previously and he’d always been good, but he just rocked it as Darren. He spouted off line after line with such ease and his comedic timing for darkly humorous lines was perfect. His physical comedy was also natural. Rounding out the small cast was Tevi Gevinson as Cera’s love interest Jessica. Gevinson, I believe, is just out of high school and doing this in her gap year between high school and college. She was perfectly awkward and nervous as Jessica.

 Needless to say, I really enjoyed this production. I’m also someone who has a soft spot for plays about entitled kids bitching endlessly (ala Suburbia, etc.). This play will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was definitely mine and I highly recommend it. 

Over two years ago I saw Colt Coeur’sRecall" at The Wild Project downtown. It was interesting premise (kids who get "recalled" for bad behavior and such) and I had high hopes for "Dry Land,” by Ruby Rae Spiegel.

Unfortunately Dry Land had no point. I’m still not even sure what it was really about. It focused on two high school girls on a swim team, one is pregnant and needs not to be, then she accuses the other girl of being in love with her, and then the other girl gets recruited for college, and the originally accusatory girl is upset. Sound incoherent? It was.

The cast including Sarah Mezzanotte, Tina Ivlev, Alice Kremelberg, Matthew Stadelmann, and Jim Ireland all gave it their best shots to make sense of the script.

I don’t like to be unfairly harsh on shows, but I really have no idea why this play was staged. If you like avant garde though, this might be for you. 

On Tuesday night I decided to take in a performance of Primary Stage’s newest production, Poor Behavior by Theresa Rebeck. It sounded interesting because who doesn’t love some poor behavior sometimes? I also love Rebeck’s work - as far as playwriting. Her screenwriting for TV (ahem, Smash), not so much. 

Onstage was a small cast of theatre veterans, Brian Avers, Katie Kreisler, Heidi Armbruster, and Jeff Biehl as two couples spending what should be a peaceful weekend somewhere outside of New York City. The play opened with a philosophical screaming match between Ian and Ella (not a couple) over whether or not the word ‘good’ has any meaning. 

There are twists and turns, and affairs that may or may not be, but as you can probably guess, this weekend is a disaster that ends one or maybe two (I’m not spoiling anything!) relationships. I enjoyed Ian’s tirades on marriage and American misuse of it. I enjoyed all of the screaming battles and physical comedy that Poor Behavior has to offer (and it offers a lot of it). What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good screaming match. 

These four adults all take part in some Poor Behavior. Some are more guilty than others, but I can attest to the fact that they all need to grow up a bit next time they leave town together. 

Last weekend I saw another fun, yet ridiculous, show, Pageant, by Bill Russell, Frank Kelly, and Albert Evans.

A musical about a beauty pageant filled with cliches from all around the country. The catch? All of the contestants are played by men, in drag, of course. 

Through a series of fun numbers, lots of singing and lots of dancing, a few chosen audience members who are the judges, pick who wins the Pageant. The cast is filled with talented gentlemen like Nick Cearley, Marty Thomas, and John Bolton, in addition to Nic Corey, Alex Ringler, Seth Tucker, and Curtis Wiley. 

Is Pageant fun? Yes, but it’s also stereotypical and a little bit cheesy. 

So the Labyrinth Theater’s production of The Muscles in Our Toes, by Stephen Belberclosed on Saturday night, but I wanted to write about it regardless. Because it was really ridiculous (in a good way).

The Muscles in Our Toes was a ridiculous comedy about a bunch of high school friends coming together for their 25 year reunion. When one of their beloved classmates has supposedly been kidnapped in Africa and nothing is being done to get him back, this group of old friends devises a plan to wake the government up themselves.

Does it sound ridiculous? Well it was. It definitely was. Was it entertaining? Oh yes, it was that too.

Bill Dawes as Les lead the cast fearlessly. Amir Arison was hilarious and probably my favorite of them all. Rounding out the small ensemble cast was Samuel Ray Gates, Matthew Maher, Jeanine Serralles, and Mather Zickel. 

They were all great, but the plot has the ridiculous confidence that most American’s have - which is too much.