The Cats Pajamas
Post-Cold War Russia unleashes its latest weapon: trained circus cats. Also: Three musicals for the family at NYMF, a revival of The Nastiest Drink in the World at Vital Theatre, Pacific Island dancers at the New Victory, Swedish Folktales at the Looking Glass, and more.
FringeNYC has ended, but those of you going into festival withdrawal should take heart: The New York Musical Theatre Festival is back with three family-friendly works, Uncle Jed's Barbershop (opening September 20), Isabelle and the Pretty-Ugly Spell (opening September 23), and 06880 The Musical (opening September 26). (Visit the NYMF website for more information.)
The first tuner takes place in rural Arkansas along the Mississippi Delta from the '20s to the '60s -- at a time when a black barber could only dream of opening his shop. A cast of seven Broadway veterans shows how he overcomes the many obstacles that he encounters. In the second, a clumsy fairy godmother (think more along the lines of Shrek II than Cinderella) embarks on a fraught journey to save the princess. The final musical tries to do for the community of Westport, Connecticut what the TV show 90210 did for Beverly Hills over a decade ago; i.e., demonstrate that even rich kids have problems. 06880 follows a group of ten high school students coming of age in a fashionable, affluent community -- and sets those characters' problems to rock music.
Speaking of musicals, prepare your palate for The Nastiest Drink in the World. This Mark Lowenstein/John Gregor tuner follows the wrong-headed King Fredipus of Baloneya whose misguided reign is ruining the kingdom. Then, one day, a bashful peasant girl concocts a scrumptious plan to save the day. Vital Theatre revives it from September 10 to October 16. (You don't need to be 21 or over to consume this show; it's geared for audiences between the ages of 2 and 12.)
Returning from it's summer hiatus, the New Victory Theater is opening its doors for a promising fall season. It kicks off with Black Grace, an all-male Pacific Island and Maori troupe who show how budding dancers and percussionists come-of-age near Samoa. The show fuses traditional and modern dance in a paean to nature that includes rain dances, ant marches, and local body percussion. Appropriate for ages 8 and up, it opens on September 16 and closes October 9.
Have you heard the folk tale about "When Mother Troll Took in the King's Washing"? No? How about "The Seven Wishes," "Stalo and Kauras," or "The Maiden in the Castle of Rosy Clouds"? In Sweden, such stories are as well-known as "The Frog Prince." Starting September 24, the Looking Glass Theatre recounts the stories by Scandinavia's beloved illustrator John Bauer in Not Enough Princesses, inspired by some of these local classics.
Americana musician JJ Barron just landed a four-month gig at 13th Street Repertory, the Off-Off-Broadway mainstay; this month's performance falls on September 10. For a Parent's Choice Award-winning singer-songwriter, take the trip to the Bay Street Theatre in Long Island to see Wendy Gelsanliter's folksy rock on September 1.