Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter


Opening number…

When the pre-show announcements started for the opening performance of Irondale’s On Women festival, I – like everyone in the audience, I guess – expected nothing more than the usual recap of future performances. , ways to support the 38-year-old nonprofit theater company, and, of course, instructions for keeping your mask covering your nose and mouth throughout the performance.

Company Members of Mom On Skype
(Photo: The School of Open-Minded Kids Studio Theatre)

But based on the surprised and excited reaction from the public, it’s unlikely many were expecting an announcement that via social media Irondale had contacted Ukrainian soldier Oleg Onechchak, who had led a set of children in a co-written play about their recent experiences. in their war-torn country which was performed in a warehouse-turned-bomb shelter in the city of Lviv, and arranged for them to fly to New York and give two performances in the company’s Brooklyn theatre.

As previously reported by BroadwayWorld, Mom Po Skaipu (Mom on Skype in English) deals with the issues of family separation seen through the eyes of these 10-14 year old actors from the School of Open-Minded Kids Studio Theater in Lviv. As with the On Women festival performances, tickets for Mom On Skype (performed in Ukrainian with English subtitles) are $30, or $15 for students, seniors, and working artists.

There are very few places in the world that offer the abundance of live theater that can be found in New York’s five boroughs, and while we can be spoiled by the glitzy spectacle of Broadway, the moments most memorable and meaningful I’ve spent watching live shows when suppressed voices tell their stories; saying to ourselves, “This is who we are. These are our truths.”

I have already purchased my tickets for Mom On Skype. Hope to see you there.

But in the meantime, let’s get back to the Festival…

Monica Hunken’s hilarious 1980s queer punk rock rebellion fantasia, Mt. Rushmore, begins with the playwright/performer, wearing a Ronald Reagan mask, leading the American presidents whose images have been carved into what the Lakota Sioux called out The Six Grandfathers in a dance to the 1987 Tiffany cover of I Think We’re Alone Now.

Sunday morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter
Monica Hunken and company
(Photo: Ken Schles)

Co-directed by Hunken and Theresa Buchheister, Mt. Rushmore is a monologue accented by hard rock performances where the playwright leads a three-piece band (Nikkie McLeod, Phil Andrews and Ben Eshleman).

A self-proclaimed political activist, Hunken recounts how, as a middle schooler, her proudest possession was a Pearl drum kit she bought with her own money.

“I don’t have a class, I don’t have a skill. I just want to make a loud noise, hit something so hard but I can’t hurt it.”

The source of this healthy anger is his conservative mother, a supporter of every Republican president since Reagan. Fortunately, her older sister, a rock’n’roll photographer, nurtures her rebellious side by taking her to concerts.

Loaded with pop culture references and a bit of audience participation (don’t worry, no one is being blamed) Mt. Rushmore takes a back-to-the-future twist when Hunken travels back in time to try to save his mother from a life of conservative thinking. I’ll leave it to the author to let you know if she succeeds, but at the very least we can rest assured that “the future is unwritten”.

Remember when Brian Stokes Mitchell leaned out of his apartment window every night after the daily 7 p.m. cheer for healthcare workers and first responders and sang the impossible dream?

Well, the people of Apthorp Cleaners on Amsterdam Avenue between 78th and 79th streets. I don’t know how long this showcase has been up, but it’s a nice tribute to the Broadway star who was hospitalized with COVID during the early months of the pandemic.

Sunday morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter

Sunday morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter

Sunday morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter

.

The Anthorp team also seem to be big fans of Company’s revival on Broadway, as seen in this display in their other storefront…

Sunday morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter

Sunday morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter

There’s a subtle and brilliantly unsettling moment in the Potomac Theater Project’s reverse transcription…

…where a young gay man, extremely cautious about COVID but hungry for physical affection, gives a mask to the bare-faced dude who arrives at his apartment, insisting that he put it on. With a smirk, the visitor places it on his crotch, suggesting a life-saving blanket from a past pandemic that many were hesitant to wear.

Sunday morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian children come to Brooklyn in a room they created in a bomb shelter
James Patrick Nelson and
Joshua Mallin​​​(​Photo: ​Stan Barouh)

The Smiling Visitor is played by James Patrick Nelson, whose excellent hard-edged performance is the culmination of this pairing of an AIDS-era play with a COVID-inspired response.

Robert Chesley’s Dog Plays, which premiered the year before the playwright died of AIDS in 1990, is a trio of short plays set in San Francisco that revolve around relationships, both sexual and non-sexual. , of a middle-aged man named Dog.

In the first scene, he is haunted by the sight of an old friend (Joshua Mallin), who looked so ill the last time he saw him that he thought he must be dead. Then, at a memorial for a former roommate, Dog meets hospital nurse Fido (Jonathan Tindle), who is haunted by the experience of seeing so many gay people die. In the final scene of Dog Plays, Dog Lad’s lover (Trey Atkins) recounts his dream of leaving San Francisco and going to a fantasy world where everyone who was lost is alive and happy again.

Dog Plays is directed by Jim Petosa, who wrote and directed the second half of the program, titled A Variant Strain. Here, Nelson plays Old Dog – possibly a ghostly image of the AIDS-era character – who plays parallel scenes to Chesley’s original. The episodic evening may have a few rough spots, but the solid set makes Reverse Transcription worth a look.

Reverse Transcription plays repertoire with Sex, Grief and Death, which combines Caryl Churchill’s Hot Fudge and Here We Go with Steven Berkoff’s Lunch. Tickets for both programs are $31.50.

Curtain line…

Marni Nixon once starred in a regional production of Lady In The Dark, which, when you think about it, is fitting.

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