Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rising Action Theatre: The Boys in the Band (2 reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened its production of The Boys in the Band on November 5, 2010.
In his Manhattan upper east side apartment, Michael is throwing a birthday party for Harold--a self avowed "32 year old pock mark Jew Fairy." complete with a surpise give--Cowboy- a street hustler. As the evening wears on, fueled by drugs and alcohol, bitter unresesolved resentments among the guests come to light when a game of truth goes terribly wrong.
Michael Leeds directed a cast that included Nigel Revenge, Andy Herman, Sam Sherburne, Alan Saban, Christopher Michaels, Johnnie Bowls, Brandon St John, Angel Perez, and Manuel Uriza.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for The Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Somehow, Leeds, the Tony-nominated director and composer of Swinging on a Star, has found himself directing at the non-equity Rising Action Theatre Company: a gossiped-about, critically maligned, underfunded little theater that has yet to assemble a single uniformly competent cast, even for a small show. There, Leeds has directed a very large show: Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, an uncommonly demanding ensemble piece about gay men in New York in the pre-Stonewall '60s. He almost pulled it off.
With the exception of the hapless Saban, every one of the actors on Rising Action's stage is competent, and most have at least a moment of brilliance. For a few, the brilliant moment lasts all night. Michaels' effeminate Emory is the gay-man-as-fireball, a screaming comet of wicked glee. I would be perfectly pleased to never hear another gay man call his fellows "Mary" so long as I live, but the way Michaels does it makes me want to join a sorority...
Bowls is an actor who listens intently to his fellows onstage and responds to their peculiarities in real time, thinking through each word as we watch. He's quietly mesmerizing.
...Revenge has one of the most deadly deadpans you'll ever see — filled, variously, with turmoil, mirth, indulgence, forgiveness, and brittle anger, all reduced to a flat feline stare.
...St. John, as the stone-stupid cowboy, once again parlays his deadly dearth of dramatic ability into improbable enjoyability. He is like a one-man John Waters flick.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...the play gets a tart, extravagantly funny, pain-filled production, thanks to director Michael Leeds and his gift for drawing effective performances from a large cast with varying abilities and backgrounds. Each actor gets a moment, or many, to shine. And thanks to Leeds, most capitalize on their time in the spotlight.
There are, however, some missteps in both the physical production and in certain acting choices. Set designer Jonathan Jones' flashy rendition of Michael's '60s crib, for instance, requires the actors to ascend a little staircase, then appear through an exit at one side of the stage, crossing between the stage and audience to enter Michael's "upstairs'' bedroom. Awkward.
Just as awkward is the moment when, as other characters are speaking, Cowboy tenderly caresses Harold's thigh, then gets a few back-at-ya pats on his pretty blond head. Whatever the fleeting relationship between birthday boy and his for-rent buckaroo might be, sweetness isn't a believable part of the equation.
The Rising Action Theatre presents The Boys in the Band at The Sunshine Cathedral through December 12, 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment