Theater Reviews

With Walljasper providing elegant, understated readings, Curry delivering a lovely, funny mini-breakdown while filling cups with peanuts, Lavner sweetly suggesting utter guilenessness, and Liuzzi holding court as a Lutheran Don Corleone - her comic imperiousness drew gasps from the audience - all of the performers have random moments both charming and hilarious.

RIVER CITIES' READER, By Mike Schulz, April 2007


Margaret Curry is excellent as Karin, Signe’s modish mother, and Curry’s lanky, June Cleaver-esque portrayal is both a gentle ribbing of and a tribute to the ingénue moms of yesteryear. Her grandstanding “Mother of the Bride” is her best number, but her enthusiasm for some wonderfully goofy choreography is apparent throughout.

Quad Cities Times, By Ruby Nancy, April, 2007

 

mc

“… Spins the classic play A Midsummer Night’s Dream into a musical that young people will understand and even enjoy!”

mc

“The Bard and the Beat: Your best bet this weekend… A Midsummer Night’s Dream meets Motown!”

mc

Rated a “Voice Choice” by the Village Voice!

 

NYT

"The Arts - Monday, July 11, 2005"
Shakespeare Remains Goldest Oldie of Them All
Anita Gates

ShakespeareI have seen a few productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," beginning with Peter Brook's in 1971. On film, I have seen Mickey Rooney as Puck, Calista Flockhart as Helena and Rupert Everett as Oberon. But never has it all been clearer to me than when I watched the Millennium Talent Group's simplified one-act version, "Fools in Love."

"Fools in Love" is intended to introduce children to Shakespeare, and it does the job with exaggeration, pure silliness and 1950's and 60's pop music. The comedy is set in the era of "Happy Days" and poodle skirts, in a California town called West Athens, where four teenagers hang out at a diner and discuss their romantic problems and plans. Hermia (Erika Villalba) loves Lysander (Matt Schuneman) but is being pressured to marry Demetrius (Antony Raymond). On the sidelines, Helena (Annelise Abrams) pines for Demetrius, who finds her completely unappealing and tells her so.

When Hermia and Lysander decide to elope, they find themselves the victims of mischievous fairies. Oberon (Andy Langton, in a black leather jacket with macho black wings) obviously has nothing better to do than play tricks on humans and on his beloved Titania (Margaret Curry).

Spellbound by a magic herb, the victims wake up from naps to fall in love with unexpected objects: Titania with Bottom (Ryan Knowles), a weaver who has been turned into a donkey, and both Lysander and Demetrius with Helena. Helena has such low self-esteem that she believes both young men are just ridiculing her by pretending to want her.

There's no real need for a Greek chorus, but five singers known as the Doo-Wop Group comment on the action frequently with mostly a cappella excerpts from golden oldies like "Duke of Earl," "Baby Love," "Respect," "My Guy" and of course "All I Have to Do Is Dream." D. J. Paris, making his New York stage debut, does a particularly nice job on "Unchained Melody."

Sarah Rosenberg and Louis Reyes Cardenas, who are credited with the show's conception, have kept Shakespeare's language (accented with an occasional "huh?" or "oh, all right"), letting young theatergoers grasp meaning through context.

It's nice to see a cast of all shapes and sizes. The full-figured Ms. Villalba is highly lovable as Hermia, and when she calls Helena a "painted maypole," she strikes a blow for all women over size 10. The very skinny Brandy Wykes has an endearing "Laugh-In"-era Goldie Hawn quality as Puck. The very tall Mr. Knowles has a lot of fun with physical comedy as Bottom. And then there are the smallest performers, children from the audience who are invited onstage to dance and occasionally speak a line or two. Warning: The actors have been known to force a pink wig on small volunteers.

NYT

Doo-Wopping a Midsummer Dream
Ryan Knowles, Tom Falborn and Louis Reyes Cardenas in
Alan Kaplan
Ryan Knowles, Tom Falborn and Louis Reyes Cardenas in
"Fools in Love," an abbreviated version of "A Midsummer
Night's Dream."

By ANITA GATES nyt
Published: March 24, 2005

I have seen a few productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," beginning with Peter Brook's in 1971. On film, I have seen Mickey Rooney as Puck, Calista Flockhart as Helena and Rupert Everett as Oberon. But never has it all been clearer to me than when I watched the Millennium Talent Group's simplified one-act version, "Fools in Love," at the Wings Theater in Greenwich Village.

"Fools in Love" is intended to introduce children to Shakespeare, and it does the job with exaggeration, pure silliness and 1950's and 60's pop music. The comedy is set in the era of "Happy Days" and poodle skirts, in a California town called West Athens, where four teenagers hang out at a diner and discuss their romantic problems and plans. Hermia (Erika Villalba) loves Lysander (Matt Schuneman) but is being pressured to marry Demetrius (Antony Raymond). On the sidelines, Helena (Annelise Abrams) pines for Demetrius, who finds her completely unappealing and tells her so.

When Hermia and Lysander decide to elope, they find themselves the victims of mischievous fairies. Oberon (Andy Langton, in a black leather jacket with macho black wings) obviously has nothing better to do than play tricks on humans and on his beloved Titania (Margaret Curry).

Spellbound by a magic herb, the victims wake up from naps to fall in love with unexpected objects: Titania with Bottom (Ryan Knowles), a weaver who has been turned into a donkey, and both Lysander and Demetrius with Helena. Helena has such low self-esteem that she believes both young men are just ridiculing her by pretending to want her.

There's no real need for a Greek chorus, but five singers known as the Doo-Wop Group comment on the action frequently with mostly a cappella excerpts from golden oldies like "Duke of Earl," "Baby Love," "Respect," "My Guy" and of course "All I Have to Do Is Dream." D. J. Paris, making his New York stage debut, does a particularly nice job on "Unchained Melody."

Sarah Rosenberg and Louis Reyes Cardenas, who are credited with the show's conception, have kept Shakespeare's language (accented with an occasional "huh?" or "oh, all right"), letting young theatergoers grasp meaning through context.

It's nice to see a cast of all shapes and sizes. The full-figured Ms. Villalba is highly lovable as Hermia, and when she calls Helena a "painted maypole," she strikes a blow for all women over size 10. The very skinny Brandy Wykes has an endearing "Laugh-In"-era Goldie Hawn quality as Puck. The very tall Mr. Knowles has a lot of fun with physical comedy as Bottom. And then there are the smallest performers, children from the audience who are invited on stage to dance and occasionally speak a line or two. Warning: the actors have been known to force a pink wig on small volunteers.

"Fools in Love" runs through April 9 at the Wings Theater, 154 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 627-2961

© The New York Times

BACKSTAGE East
Off-Off Broadway October 07, 2004

Metropolitan Operas

Reviewed By Jeanette Toomer
"Metropolitan Operas"

Presented by Millennium Talent Group in association with Wings Theatre at Wings Theatre, 154 Christopher St., NYC, Sept. 13-Oct. 2. Sarah Rosenberg's creative direction and the finely tuned dialogue of playwright Joe Pintauro work brilliantly as one to lift "Metropolitan Operas" off the stage and into the hearts of theatregoers. These vignettes, unified by the theme of hearts on the mend, feature angelic choral singers and strong performances by several actors.

The first half presents drama mixed with comedic turns that succeed very well in "Seymour in the Very Heart of Winter," "Rosen's Son," and "Birds in a Church." Strained relationships are the subject of two of these scenes -- one between a couple dining at a restaurant and the other between a grieving father and the ex-lover of his deceased son.

In "Seymour," Matt Schuneman delivers a deft physical performance as the young working-class boyfriend of a disinterested fading actress. As his older girlfriend, Margaret Curry is a living portrait of upper-class snobbery and selfishness.

In "Rosen's Son," Louis Reyes Cardenas presents a riveting portrayal of a man who is trying to move on after his lover's death. When confronted by his partner's father at his apartment, he breaks down and mourns his irreplaceable love.

Burke Adams has a great career ahead of him in comedy, as he hilariously portrays an obsessed priest in "Birds." And in "Rex," he's a very reluctant meat-eater, with Lindy Rodgers as his wildly funny, guilt-ridden wife, who offers him cooked pheasant for dinner.

After intermission, serious dramatic scenes about intimate relationships that are at best tenuous offer more to think about. In "Soft Dude," Curry presents a gritty portrayal of a whore afraid to love. John Dillon, the waiter in the restaurant scene, returns for a larger, more revealing role in "Dirty Talk." Brandy Wykes shows off her acting and dancing dexterity coupling with Dillon in that play, and later with Nick Mazza in "Fiat." Rachel Balch, Andy Langton, Anthony Galluccio (subbing for Bill Barnett), and Kevin Smart complete the cast.

The harmonizing choral members are Johanna Bon, Ryan Darling, Jules Dudas, Evy Lutzky, Melissa Nook, Antony Raymond, and Nadine Zygaj. Bruce Dean deserves special mention for a versatile and beautiful set design.


©www.offoffonline.com

When you think of Shakespeare, many things come to mind: lofty language, intricate plot lines, doo-wop. Well, maybe not the latter, but after you see Millennium Talent Group's production of Fools in Love A Midsummer Night's Dream set to hit songs from the 1950's and 60's you will wonder how Shakespeare could be done any other way.

Keeping the text intact, with a few edits so the show doesn't lose its targeted younger audience, the play is presented with such simplicity that children and adults alike will leave the theater with a thorough understanding of what they just saw, a difficult feat when taking on the Bard.

S In Love    
The fairies in Fools in Love
Photo Credit:Alan Kaplan
 
Fools in Love focuses on the lives and loves of four teenagers. Hermia (Erika Villalba) is being pressured to marry Demetrius (Anthony Raymond), but she loves Lysander (Matt Schuneman). Poor Helena (Annelise Abrams) is in love with Demetrius, who wants no part of her.

Deciding that to be together they must elope, Hermia and Lysander fall prey to scheming fairies led by Oberon (played with perfect dead-panning by Andy Langton), who is determined to cast a spell on the object of his affection, Titania (sweet soprano Margaret Curry). As is Shakespeare's way, everything goes awry when the spell is cast on the wrong victims, leaving both Lysander and Demetrius in love with Helena, Titania in love with Bottom (Ryan Knowles), and a very jilted Hermia left all alone.

  S In Love  
(l-r) Tom Falborn as Peter Quince and Louis Reyes Cardenas as Francis Flute in Fools in Love
Photo Credit:Alan Kaplan
 
An exuberant cast brings the story to life with great success. With impeccable comic timing, Villalba's Hermia is a delight. She finds humor in every scene and makes Hermia a thoroughly modern teenager. As her admirers, Schuneman's Lysander is a lovable, pocket protector-wearing nerd, while Raymond's Demetrius lends a nice touch of sarcasm to the role, often becoming the voice of reason while the other lovers are consumed with themselves. As Helena, Abrams turns in a fine performance as a woman desperate to be loved.

Rounding out the cast, Knowles as Bottom proves quite a scene-stealer. Deliciously hammy and over the top, he takes what is usually a considerably funny role and makes it hilarious. Puck, as played by Brandy Wykes, is a charming, albeit ditzy, woman on a mission to cast her spell, though often losing her way. The doo-wop group, taking the place of a Greek chorus, does a nice job, most notably a beautiful rendition of "Unchained Melody" by the group's D.J. Paris.

Specifically designed to bring Shakespeare to young audiences, this production under director Sarah Rosenberg has provided us with a revealing look at how simple Shakespeare can and should be. She has made him as accessible as a modern playwright, as demonstrated by the smaller audience members who were fully engrossed in what they were watching. Sharing the title of conceptionist with Rosenberg is Louis Reyes Cardenas. Both have done an outstanding job of bringing the Bard down to earth.

If you have ever attended a production of Shakespeare, you may have left the theater feeling as though you deserved a medal for staying awake. Not this time. Not only will you be entertained, you will "gasp"enjoy Shakespeare. Grab your children and any anti-Shakespeare friends and run to the Wings Theater for what is sure to be a delightful afternoon.