Friday, January 20, 2017


It’s hard to review this show without just writing a love letter to the entire cast and crew. So to start off I will say, The Present is a show that will stick with you, that will challenge you, that will make you think days after seeing it, and will over all just blow your mind. Most people see the name Anton Chekov and either roll their eyes or jump for joy. Personally I have always been on the fence. I am a lover of the classics but I also have ADD so I have a short attention span. (It’s a curse) Writer Andrew Upton manages to take one of Chekhov’s early works and turns it into this modern high speed chase of love, life, passion, and of course vodka.  I honestly don’t think I have ever been so entranced with a show, and that’s saying a lot since this one is four acts!

The playbill is key in this production because Mr. Upton gives you some backstory of these characters if you are unfamiliar with Chekhov’s work. But beyond the stellar writing, director John Crowley has staged this production so beautifully.  Upton and Crowley have managed to make Chekhov actually funny.  We have a cast of 13 very different characters and Crowley gave each of them shinning moments and it never felt, crowded or upstaged, it was perfect chaos.

Now, let me gush my love for the actors. Bare with me because, after this show I feel as I know them, and we are all now friends.  Cate Blanchett! Cate Blanchett! CATE BLANCHETT! I could watch her on stage just sitting doing nothing and she would manage to make it interesting some how. She has this ease, and effortless about her that is just memorizing. And just when you think she is just perfectly poised, she gets up on a table and dances to punk rock! I was with her on her entire journey of her 40th birthday.

And then we have Mr. Richard Roxburgh. Who in my opinion steals the show. He starts off as this classic flighty playboy; all the girls love him (on and off stage) and then becomes the most grounded character. He manages to make you laugh in inappropriate situations and you can’t help but love him. And when he’s with Ms. Blanchett its pure magic!

The ensemble is filled with so many stars its hard to talk about them all. Toby Schmitz (Nikoli) has a spark that whenever he was on stage I couldn’t stop watching.  Chris Ryan (Sergei) is probably the most loveable character on stage, and I just rooted for him through the show.  Jacqueline McKenzie (Sophia) plays the perfect balance of a hot mess. Every actor on stage did beautiful work!

If you are looking for a show to make you make you laugh, cry, and honestly feel better about your friends and family, head to the Ethel Barrymore Theatre and see The Present!

Review: Bri Burnside
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus


Self produced and self shaped theatre is very much a living, breathing entity clamoring under rug swept by the glitz and sparkle of Broadway. But its there. You just have to find it. Theatre makers are taking the industry into their own hands, arthritic from self promotion on any and every social media medium, and shaping their fates. I know, I know, easier said then done. And beyond that? Easier said then done WELL.

You know who does it well? The NOW Collective- a new group of graduate apprentices from The Barrow Group. Their mission is to provide a collaborative environment for emerging artists like themselves to get stoked and work on new pieces together. And if their current show, Apartment Complex, is any indicator as to the work we can expect from this group, I anticipate a bright future ahead.

Apartment Complex is a series of shorts by various playwrights and actors within the group about, you guessed it; the trials, tribulations and absolute thrills of living in one of the best cities in the entire world. And what a smart move that was for this fledgling company. Their first big show off the bat was material that invites an audience in, almost as if they too were a part of the ensemble, because as people of New York, we could identify with it ALL.
The evening truly got kicked off when actress/playwright Sam Evans found a bedbug on her sweater, which hilariously segued into a performance art piece where the actress, in a garbage bag and rain boots, destroyed everything in her apartment. Evans was absolutely captivating and had the audience convulsing in their laughter. A highlight of the evening for sure.

Next up is Adrian Burke, an extremely talented gentleman we need to be tracking. He had two plays up in the night, one of which Burke himself was in, and not only were they really frigging funny, they were poignant and satiated the audience on a different level. Hallways was particularly brilliant. It was a two man bit satirizing how we grieve and how we are allowed to grieve in our current climate. These points were punctuated perfectly and with care by actors Andrew Dobbie and Morgan Bartholick.

Sean T McGrath’s Dinner Party was also very well received within the audience. Dinner Party took us on an emotional rollercoaster, even in such a brief amount of time, which is super admirable. Kasey Lee Huizinga was heartbreaking in her pursuits of trying to maintain homeostasis in financial insecurity, a feeling we all know far too well.

Catch this show in it’s last weekend at The Barrow Group Studio Theatre over on 36th. In this current political climate, we all need a friggin laugh…and more importantly, support the arts. Don’t allow them to get evicted from their homes.

Review: Brittany Goodwin
Photos: Kyle LeMaire Photography