Thursday, June 24, 2004

A Review of Avenue Q


Saw Avenue Q last night. Herein is my review and thoughts.


Overall, I thought it was a very clever , witty , and well-done puppet musical. However, I did not love it as much as I hoped I would, as much as I felt I could have and should have, and I have to say that I left with a bit of a lamentation for the play I glimpsed at , but sadly did not see.


The book is very clever, and the songs are pretty catchy, but not in a particularlly memorable way. The performances were all superb (and I saw the B cast--three of the cast members were not the originals (including John Tartaglia (who plays Princeton and Rod), Jordan Gelber (who plays Brian). The understudies were all excellent, and the main characters (esp. Stephanie D'Abruzzo and Rick Lyons (who also created the puppets) were all very good. Rick Lyons is a great puppeteer and a great singer! And so is Stephanie D’Abruzzo. And the understudy Barrett Foa. In fact, they are all quite good!

THE NOT SO GOOD STUFF (which was still pretty good)

I left the play feeling a little dis-satisfied. It wasn't so much the cost (though at $91.25, I could have bought 4-5 months of NetFlix (30-60 movies easy, or an entire subscription to a small theatre in Providence. If I'd paid half price I would have been very pleased with the value ratio. But hey, that's what Broadway costs, and it was not the price that stuck in my craw so much.

I did not feel that the production lived up to its possibilities, and had a much too narrow scope.

Perhaps I expected too much from the hype, but I really expected it to explode and expose musical theatre traditions in the way that the Lion King did (and I did not like the Lion Kingeither-- but that's a different discussion.

The music was catchy, but not in a particularly memorable way.
The book was very clever and witty, but not astoundingly so.
The characters were drawn well, but weren't more than foam deep.
The plot was okay, but rather sacharine, without lots of surprising twists
. The acting was very well done, but... okay, no buts about it, the acting was just well done! :o)

I felt that the play does not tie up all all of its loose ends in a satisfying way. There were some very interesting concepts, that didn't get explored as far as they should, and just got kind of left behind.

In general, I felt the directors/writers/producers went for the lowest and easiest fruits on the theatrical tree, and never got to the really beautiful and tasty fruit up at the top. So in the end, they've produced a filling and satisfying pie, but it was not the most amazing pie in the world. It was a rather ordinary pretty good pie.


A) The show is loosely based on Sesame Street, and some of the parodic trappings were present. (There is a song based on Schadenfreude (pleasure at the misfortune of others) and two TV monitors do a little Schadenfreunde word dance that's pretty funny) But it could have been used in a much more pointed and caustic way, which would have changed our relationship to the characters and even to the unfolding story.

B) Another great concept are these two "Bad Idea Bears" who urge Princeton on to make foolish mistakes. They are half in his imagination (a bell rings everytime they come on) They are a device for comedy (which they should be) but only a device for comedy, and oh too clearly-- their come-uppance at the end was not earned (and their presence and the world they represent was not maximized.) Having them do their thing was great-- but I wanted a suitably evil ending for them (which we did not get)

C) There was one dream sequence where the scale of the puppets is dramatically changed, and you see for one second a gigantic puppet look up and over the whole set. Suddenly the large set is tiny, and the scale of all of our doings is brought into question for that moment. It was a great moment, and I wished that there were 20 or 30 moments of wonder like that (what Daniel Stein would call "Magic Moments"-- flashes of inspiration and virtuosity, where the mind falls in love with the image. But there weren't. Just a lot of funny puppet bits.

I am sounding rather like a negative nelly about this play. It's good,and worthwhile and funny, and you should go, and you will laugh and have a great time. Probably you won't even notice anything of what I've been talking about. Or completely disagree.

But when you get a taste of the great wine, the mediocre to good wine you've got in your glass seems a little vinegary and sour.

I'd love to hear your opinions about it. Feel free to comment in my nifty new "comments section"


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Commedia dell'arte Lecture tonight!

Masks, Comedy, and Biscotti: A Hysterical History of Italian Comedy

Adam Gertsacov, international clown of renown and the current Clown Laureate of Greenbelt Maryland (HEY THAT'S ME!), will give a lecture/demonstration on the commedia dell'arte, a form of Italian improvised comedy from the sixteenth century. The demo will take place at the Marian J. Mohr Library in Johnston RI on Tuesday, June 22 at 7 pm. Admission is free and open to the public. For more info, call 401-231-4980. DIRECTIONS TO THE LIBRARY

Click image for complete press release....

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Bloomsday Centenary is Today!

For millions of people, June 16 is an extraordinary day. On that day in 1904, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom each took their epic journeys through Dublin in James Joyce's Ulysses, the world's most highly acclaimed modern novel.

“Bloomsday”, as it is now known, has become a tradition for Joyce enthusiasts all over the world. From Tokyo to Sydney, San Francisco to Buffalo, Trieste to Paris, dozens of cities around the globe hold their own Bloomsday festivities. As far as I know, Providence has nothing going on for June 16-- Hmmm... Maybe we can change all that?

The celebrations usually include readings as well as staged re-enactments and street-side improvisations of scenes from the story. Nowhere is Bloomsday more rollicking and exuberant than Dublin, home of Molly and Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, Buck Mulligan, Gerty McDowell and James Joyce himself. The art of Ulysses becomes the daily life of hundreds of Dubliners and the city’s visitors as they retrace the odyssey each year.

Here are some books and other literary things if you are interested in finding out more about Ulysses

Tuesday, June 15, 2004



The Providence Mandolin Orchestra is hosting the Providence International Plucked String Festival on June 18, 19, 20, 2004 in Providence, RI. This festival celebrates the various world traditions of plucked string music as represented by well-known virtuosi from the New England area.

Friday evening's performance is being held at The Providence Public Library (Empire Street, downtown) and will feature flamenco music performed by Juanito Pascual on guitar, singer/dancer La Conja and Gonzalo Grau on percussion. This show will begin at 8:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at the door for $10.00.

Saturday evening the orchestra welcomes classically trained Richard Berberian playing oud, joined by Mal Barsamian on guitar and Jacob Tanoglu playing kanoon. The trio will perform a selection of traditional Middle Eastern and contemporary repertoire. Saturday evening's concert will also feature the virtuoso playing of Tamara Volskaya, internationally acclaimed mandolin and domra soloist, She will be accompanied by her husband Anatoliy Trofimov on 'bayan' (a Russian button accordian. Get ready for an electrifying performance by these acclaimed international competition winners.

This event is being held at the Egavian Cultural Center at Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church on 70 Jefferson Street, Providence, RI on Saturday , June 19, 2004 at 8:00 PM. Tickets are available online or at the door for $15.00, $10.00 for seniors and students.

For more information, visit The PMO's website

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Flea Circus Takes Charleston By Storm!

Flea Circus Takes Charleston By Storm!

UPDATE: I made the front cover of the Charleston City Paper!

I'm performing my flea circus at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston.

One of the interesting things about Charleston is that they have a Johnson & Wales University too! When I drove in, I had an eery sense of deja vu!

June 2, I had two preview pieces in two different papers appear. It was flea circus day in Charleston! And then the next day, I had a great review appear in the newspaper. (see below)

My first show was nearly sold out, and the second and third shows were about 75% full.
We'll see what the rest of the week brings, but I'm hopeful that we can up those numbers. I'm told that a lot of people have heard good things about my show.

I've seen 5 very good shows so far, and have tickets for 4 more. (That's the best
part of any festival, is getting to see a lot of other work all at once!)

I'm performing everyday through June 13, so if you have some friends who
are in Charleston, Savannah, or surrounding areas, send them on down!

The Acme Miniature Circus, a Victorian style flea circus starring "Midge and Madge, Trained Fleas Performing Spectacular Circus Stunts As Seen Before (and on top of) the Crowned Heads of Europe" Piccolo Spoleto Festival June 2-13 ( June 2,4,6,8,10, 12 at 5:30 pm, June 3,5,7,9,11 at 8 pm and June 13 at 1 pm )at the Chapel Theatre ,
172 Calhoun St, Charleston. Tickets are $10-12 and are available through Ticketmaster(call 843-554-6060). For more information, call the Piccolo Spoleto Office 843-724-7305 or visit or No Dogs or Cats will be admitted to the shows.

Preview articles:

The Charleston City Paper(local free weekly paper)

Charleston Post & Courier Preview (article may require registration to read)

Here's the review in the Charleston Post & Courier.

(It might expire or require registration, so I've included it below)

Under the Big Top

A good-things-come-in-small-packages show REVIEW

Post and Courier Reviewer
Caveat emptor: Before attending the Acme Miniature Flea Circus at
Physicians Auditorium, be aware that the fleas, Midge and Madge, perform in
the nude!

You have been warned. On the safe side, however, do not worry about leaving
with a flea in your ear, because a flea cannot fly -- or is it flea --
flee? Well, whatever, as they have no wings, they jump. Warnings clearly
posted all over warn that positively no dogs will be admitted.

Other notices announce this is "too perversely fascinating to miss." True.
The fleas, please. Ringmaster A.G. Gertsacov hawks his flea market
souvenirs before the show begins claiming, "It's a capitalist country and
I'm just trying to capitalize on it." Half the fun of his show is his
marketing of the mementos. For example, Gertsacov sells miniature programs
measuring 2 by 3 inches for 10 cents, then pushes tiny magnifying glasses
for 25 cents in order to read it. There are other goodies as well.

During the big sales event, a sign over the stage says, "Shhhh. The fleas
are sleeping." The Lord of the Fleas is finally ready and completes his
fashionable flea market, costumed with a flea-bitten mismatched top hat and
tails. Perfect for what's to come.

Audience involvement is a must and adds greatly to the frivolity. We get to
cheer for our favorite flea during a chariot race and "ooh" and "ahh" for
other events. Midge or was it Madge performed an exquisite ballet. Her tour
jetes and passer la jambes during La Valse Bleu are magnificent. Pavlova
would have fled the fleas, envious of such perfection.

Gertsacov recites poetry too. My favorite: "Fleas. Adam had 'em." He also
does a scene from "Hamlet." You know, the famous "To flea or not to flea
..." Of course, Of-fleala is a part of William Fleashpeare's offering.
Wednesday had a full house, so without giving away the entire hilarious
show, flea on over for tickets before it's too late. To see a flea or not
is something only the audience can decide. It runs -- jumps --through June