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 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. 

Last night I was invited to see The Qualification of Douglas Evans, by Derek Ahonen, the second play currently playing in rep with Enter on Forest Lane, both produced by The Amoralists. I hadn’t noticed the tag line on their logo when I saw Forest Lane last weekend, but it says, “a two play repertory exploring man’s vicious cycles.” Well, Douglas Evans was definitely about a man in a vicious cycle of codependence and alcoholism.

Douglas starts out an innocent college freshmen in New York City who is soon corrupted by a harlot from his college and soon after he’s introduced to booze and everything is down hill from there. A wanna-be actor, he soon turns into a wanna-be playwright who jumps from one codependent relationship with a quirky female to the next.

To say it was depressing is an understatement. But it was also really interesting. I kind of want to see it again to analyze it a bit more.

Derek Ahonen, who starred as Douglas in addition to writing the piece, was impeccable and highly impressive. The girlfriends played by Kelley Swindall, Mandy Nicole Moore, Samantha Strelitz, and Agatha Nowicki, were each convincing and endearing. Penny Bittone and Barbara Weetman as Douglas’ father and mother, in addition to a few other characters each, were also impressive.  

Clocking in at two and a half hours, this is definitely not a RomCom, but it’s a worthy play nevertheless.  

I was super excited when I was invited to The Amoralists’ newest production, Enter at Forest Lawn recently. The Amoralists are amazing and even though they’re productions are weird, to say the least, I love them.

Enter at Forest Lawn, written by Mark Roberts and directed by Jay Stull, was about a stressed out Hollywood television producer and how he’s manipulated by the people in his life. Mark Roberts spouted off line after line effortlessly as Jack, the always-stressed producer. The always-amazing Sarah Lemp was Jessica, Jack’s on-edge and less-than-competent assistant. Then there was Matthew Pilieci, another Amoralists member, who is consistently amazing and probably the stand out in the cast. David Lanson and Anna Stromberg round out the cast as a nervous staff member and a devious Hollywood columnist.

As with most productions by The Amoralists, I highly recommend Enter on Forest Lawn. It’s playing through August 9th down at the Walkerspace at 46 Walker Street. Click here for more information. 

New York’s immersive theater scene has outdone themselves yet again. I was offered a ticket to The Queen of the Night last week and immediately jumped. Think Nutcracker Rouge meets The Great Comet of 1812 minus the literary source and Christmas. That’s what The Queen of the Night is. Or in other words: it’s a super erotica circus with a few dance breaks.

The entire night lasts about 3 hours. There’s about an hour of pre-show where you’re encouraged to go just walk around the space and explore, and if you’re lucky a cast member will pull you away and show you something neat that you hadn’t yet discovered. Some people were whisked away to meet the Queen who was standing on the stage for most of the pre-show. 

Once the show begins, all of the chairs that are messily piled onstage are ripped down and put around the tables that are scattered around the stage. I had been told to sit at a certain table by a cast member, so like an obedient audience member, I listened. 

After the story is introduced and there’s some impressive stuff onstage, they bring out huge platters of food that includes lobster, a rack of ribs, a full roast pig, potatoes gratin, kale salad, bone marrow, and of course, wine. Oh, and two vegetarian options which were roasted cauliflower and some mushroom dish that I didn’t try. We were served the rack of ribs at first but then encouraged to go to other tables to try what they had. Such a cool idea! Definitely a way to make the audience socialize.

After eating and another section of the show is performed, the cast rolls out huge white containers and tells us to throw out plates and everything on the table in them. That’s one way for a quick clean up!

Just so you know: You will get felt up, kissed, fed, and used (in the show).  I was singled out to be the girl who refuses the crazy character’s proposal for a happy ending with him (as in marriage, not an orgasm). I won’t lie - I loved the moment that we had in the spotlight. And then we danced again at the end of the show. I’m glad i listened to that one cast member on where to sit!

After the two main couples of the night get together and all is well, everyone dances (including the audience) and then cast members are lined up in various spots around the nightclub with lots of spoons and the most decadent chocolate cake you’ve ever tasted. As evident in the above photo, they feed it to you.

This is definitely more fun than Sleep No More, though the story is less clear than The Great Comet of 1812, and it’s definitely more immersive (and invasive!) than Here Lies Love (and twice as long). This probably ties with Here Lies Love - I love the historical aspects and music of Here Lies Love but who doesn’t love a free meal with their erotic circus acts? 

This is a definite New York experience to be had if you can deal with being touched by more strangers in one night than ever before. Tickets are not cheap but they’re definitely worth the price.

For more information, click here

I attended the opening night of Manhattan Theater Club’s When We Were Young a couple of weeks ago. I had seen the word ‘feminist’ thrown around in writing about the plot of the show but didn’t really know what to expect.

Cherry Jones plays a woman (Agnes) who runs a home for women who are domestically abused and looked to escape their husbands. Agnes also has a daughter of her own, Hannah (Cherise Boothe), the feminist of the house who wants to go to an Ivy League school and has no time for boys. Mary Anne (played by Zoe Kazan) arrives at their doorstep and while she’s staying with them, she coaches Hannah on how to get her dream guy to ask her to the prom, among other things, and this totally changes Hannah, for better or for worse, who knows.

When We Were Young is much deeper and thought-provoking than I’m making it seem, but it’s also a very heavy. You definitely need to take a moment to remember to breath during intermission.

Cherry Jones is, of course, spectacular. Boothe and Kazan are both enjoyable to watch and believable. Patch Darragh and Morgan Saylor play two supporting roles as well and help keep the play moving and exciting.

This is a fine production at MTC and Jones’ gives a performance not to be missed. 

(Full disclosure: The company I work for works on this show, but the opinions are all my own.)

Last week my friend David invited me to see Our New Girl, Atlantic Theater Company’s newest play, with him. I’d read that it was a thriller and thought YES! Who doesn’t love a good dramatic thriller?

About a stressed out wife (Hazel) with one super-creepy son (Daniel) and another child on the way, her husband (Richard) who is always busy and away for work sends her an au pair (Annie) to help her out around the house. While you think, at first, that the play is about Hazel’s super creepy son that is thisclose to possibly stabbing her, it’s really much more about how much she hates being a mother. She was a person just doing what was expected of her and what’s expected of women after they get married is that they have children. Her character, portrayed by ATC ensemble member Mary McCann, won my empathy once I realized what was going on inside her head. While I think most people have a maternal instinct that kicks in after giving birth, I think there might be a bunch who that doesn’t happen for and I feel really awful for the people who find themselves trapped in that position.

McCann did a lovely job as Hazel, while Henry Kelemn scared all of us as her disturbed son Daniel. CJ Wilson (Bronx Bombers) commanded the tiny stage as the husband, Richard and Lisa Joyce (Annie) was endearing as the Irish nanny.

I think this is a relevant piece. One with a surprisingly hopeful ending. 

You know you’ve made it in New York when you can go see Shakespeare in the Park without having to wait in line. Something like that. My friend texted me two Wednesdays ago saying she had two tickets to Much Ado About Nothing and I canceled my plans to go to yoga and immediately headed to the park after work.

I’d really wanted to see this because of Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe. Because, duh, they’re fabulous. I hadn’t seen Much Ado since I was in 5th grade and saw my high school’s production, but got the gist from reading a brief synopsis before the show that night - love triangles, tricks, and all of that. Great, so basically your typical Shakespearian comedy. To be honest, I’m a much bigger fan of Shakespeare’s dramas and tragedies than I am of his comedies. But this is Shakespeare in the Park. And it’s free. And it’s a New York tradition. It’s my tradition. There was no way I wasn’t seeing it.

Linklater and Rabe made the show for me. They were both absolutely brilliant. Brian Stokes Mitchell was miscast as Don Pedro and I barely noticed when he was onstage (and that’s saying something). There were really no weak links in this, but Linklater and Rabe just made this so-so comedy of Shakespeare’s that much better to watch.

Much Ado About Nothing plays through July 6th, so this is your last week. Get thee to the Delacorte!

Considering when I saw this show, I’m way behind on my Writing-About-Shows-I’ve-Seen-Lately. I was offered tickets to The Village Bike, MCC's newest production, and almost turned it down but was interested after learning that Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) was in it. And she is awesome, so that was that.

It was about a couple who had just moved from London to the English countryside and are expecting a baby. Gerwig plays Becky, the undersexed and super horny Becky and Jason Butler Harner plays John, her worried and overprotective husband. The trouble starts when Becky buys a bike from Max Shepherd, a local with a less than stellar reputation. 

I’m not quite sure what Penelope Skinner’s intentions were when she wrote this, but it was entertaining and frustrating at the same time. I enjoyed it and I thought Gerwig’s performance was great.

The Village Bike plays through July 13th. 

A few weeks ago I saw Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill at the Circle in the Square Theater starring the magnificent Audra McDonald. 

I knew nothing about Billie Holiday, nor did I know most of her song catalogue. It was all really pretty music and it was interesting to learn so much about this musical icon. 

Although McDonald is fabulous in everything she does, this included, but I left this show asking the same thing I did after End of the Rainbow, “Why?” As in, what was the point? 

I have no idea but I’ll just think of this a music history lesson and consider myself incredibly lucky to see Audra McDonald onstage again.