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Posts tagged ‘Dave Quay’

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

“Tempest” in DC Delights, Ariel Soars & Dave Quay Clowns Up a Storm

Tempest 1Taking Amtrak down to Washington DC from New York(and back) is really a delightful way to spend a holiday day away from Mad Manhattan. Even though I was on the Northeast Regional NOT the super-fast Acela, the trip seemed to fly and it was a canny, apt prediction of the delightful flights of fancy Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” I was to witness when I got there.

At Washington’s Harmon Theater, right in the heart of their Chinatown, the Shakespeare Theater Company is now presenting a very creditable, and sometimes absolutely delightful production of Shakespeare’s late comedy “The Tempest.” Often thought of as Shakespeare’s retirement play, it revolves, of course, around the famous character of Prospero, an aging magician and former and now deposed Duke of Milan, who has been exiled to this tropical, semi -Caribbean isle, where he has taught himself all of the black arts of mystery and enchantment and magic.

Talented young director Ethan McSweeney does bring the magic to his production of “The Tempest,” especially in Act Two when he has interpolated the role of “The Voice” for the beautiful, talented Broadway vet Nancy Anderson to sing as larger than life (and almost this stage) iridescent puppets of the goddesses of Juno, Ceres, etc. who seem to dwarf and devour the island. Designed and coached by James Ortiz, this triumvirate parade of monumental myths is proceeded in Act II by Sofia Jean Gomez’ Ariel descending from the heights all in black as an ominous Lady Gaga/Spiderwoman figure with huge black, drapery wings.

In fact, this is the only production of “The Tempest” I have ever seen where Ariel, Prospero’s imprisoned sprite, dominates the story. As performed by Ms. Gomez, this Ariel is CONSTANTLY in flight, literally and figuratively, under the astounding flight direction of Stu Cox, and the flying effects of ZFX, Inc. Sometimes butch as can be, sometimes as light as air, Ms. Gomez’ memorable fairy nymph flies into our hearts and memories.

Part punk-rocker, part gymnast, and part Tinkerbell and all girl, Gomez has an especially strong moment at the end, when her master Prospero frees her and the golden rope she has been suspended from falls to the ground with a thud, as her white, silk robe transforms from something athletic and imprisoning into something feminine, stately and beautiful, and she turns on her former master and doesn’t even look back or say good-bye. Not even a glance backward, she is no one’s slave now. And brava to Ms. Gomez, I say.

In fact, it is the supporting players  and the dazzling Special Effects and Jenny Giering’s ethereal just-right music, that seize this “Tempest” and makes it as magical as magic can be.

Main among the delights is the great young actor Dave Quay’s hilarious turn as the drunken butler Stephano, a role I have never remembered from any previous “Tempest.” In fact, the play barely has a pulse until he arrives stumbling and bumbling and bellowing to great comic effect to wake up the audience towards the end of Act One.

Quay doesn’t miss a beat or a laugh, and he put me in mind of the great Oliver Hardy of the early screen duo of Laurel and Hardy, though he is not stout in the least. He was comically paired with Liam Craig as Trinculo, the also ship-wrecked and also drunk Jester, who was bedecked in jingle-bells so you always knew when they were coming, or leaving, or moving, or anything.(Costumes designed by Jennifer Moeller). It had a very Christmas-y effect.

Less unfortunate is the casting of the central figure of Prospero, the Welsh actor and Stratford Festival regular Geraint Wyn Davies, who was simply too young and too robust for the part of the aging, about-to-retire wizard. I had seen and admired greatly Davies’ performance as the bastard in “King Lear” supporting Christopher Plummer’s great Lear at Lincoln Center a few seasons back.

And this Tempest put me in mind of the problems always associated with casting King Lear, the other great End-of-Life character in Shakespeare. If you have someone who is the right age for Lear, he invariably may be too old or too frail to do it.

There needs to be at least SOME of that frailty in Prospero. In Wyn Davies’, extremely healthy, hearty and hale performance, there was no hint of “The End.” And there should’ve been.

But around him is this great frame of a set by Lee Savage, a great ship-wreck scene that starts the play with a vertiable tempest at sea, and the best use I have ever seen of a chorus of spirits, and I’m going to mention them all! Ross Destiche, Freddie Bennett, Asia Kate Dillon, Ben Henderson, Dan Jones, Matthew Pauli, Stephanie Schmalzle, Kendren Spencer, Jessica Thorne, and Katherine Renee Turner, under the  spirited direction of choreographer Matthew Gardiner. These are the noble, able-bodied and adept souls animating those gigantic puppets under the direction of Puppetry Captain Dan Jones.

 

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Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!!!

Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!!!

I’ve never felt like I’ve ever REALLY seen Shakespeare’s Cleopatra performed right, that is until tonight when the young and beautiful actress Tiffany Baker just blew the roof off of the tiny Main Stage of the Workshop Theater on 312 West 36th Street.

I’m mentioning the name and address of the theater. It’s between 8th & 9th Avenue on the 4th floor. It’s a little tricky to find, but I found it. And I’m mentioning all this info first because, unfortunately, you are going to just have to drop all your plans for this weekend and RUN to see it quick, because there are only three performances left. Sat at 2pm and 7:30 and again on Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets are at http://www.guerillashakespeare.org And the name of the play is “And to the Republic”

Time is running out to miss the birth of a star, and that star is Tiffany Baker. And Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!

I can’t say enough wonderful things about Tiffany Baker’s performance. Firstly, that NO ONE I’ve ever seen essay this difficult part, this legendary woman of infinite variety has done it justice. Until now.

And Tiffany Baker is playing her in this kind of cobbled together mash-up of “Coriolanus”, “Julius Ceasar” and “Anthony and Cleopatra” which the neo-phyte Guerrilla Shakespeare Project is calling “And to the Republic:The Roman Plays of Shakespeare Reconstructed.”

I’m not really sure what all this reconstructing was adding up to, except it puts Cleopatra front and center of all these plays(it’s only 90 mins.) and gives the scintillating young Ms. Baker the role of the career. Or her first outstanding role, in what I hope will be an equally outstanding career. She so good as Cleopatra you’ll never be able to get her out of your head, nor will you want to.

She deserves to be Cleopatra in a full-on production of Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra.” And Shaw’s “Shakespeare and Cleopatra.” Why not?

I got the feeling after seeing Tiffany Baker’s ASTOUNDING turn as the Queen of the Nile that she could play ANYthing.

I’ve always felt Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s greatest roles for women. He just didn’t do it very much, and featured the male parts much more than he did the women. Because in those days, women weren’t allowed to be actresses, and so astonishingly the role of Cleopatra, one of the most difficult ones in the Shakespearean Canon, was originally played by a boy!

After you see Tiffany Baker, you’ll think not only could no one else play Cleopatra, but that no one else SHOULD. She’s THAT good!

Director Geordie Broadwater made the magical choice of giving Cleopatra the “Friends, Romans and Countrymen” speech here.(Also Caesar is an off-stage character. His assassination is never seen, nor is he.) That’s the famous speech that is usually intoned by Mark Anthony. But it is an electrifying moment that I’ll never forget when Ms. Baker takes the podium and profoundly DOES it.

Caesar was after all her lover. Or one of them.

She is at turns, sultry, seductive, intelligent, powerful, passionate, defiant, fierce, funny, all the adjectives that you think Cleopatra should be. With a whiskey voice that suggests Tullalah Bankhead crossed with Jacqueline Kennedy, she is royalty personified.

And this is a modern dress production. And costumer designer Lea Reeves has gone to town and given Ms. Baker the sharpest and chic-est tailored outfits to wear, as well as a red satin sheet. She looks equally ravishing in red as in black.

In the most minimal of minimalist settings(by Brooklyn Praxis), the struggling young company is well, struggling to do something new with Shakespeare, and what they’ve done this time is to afford Tiffany Baker an incredible star vehicle and I’m so glad they did!

I got to share a few stolen moments with the actress herself, who told me she was born in Detroit, but then at six moved to Jacksonville, Florida, so there is a touch of the Southern Belle in her. I see many Tennessee Williams plays ahead.

And having just graduated from NYU’s prestigious Grad Acting program with the rising star Dave Quay in her class, I really feel Tiffany Baker is in a class by herself. She totally credits her training at NYU for giving her the power, majesty and control to speak all of Cleopatra’s lines so perfectly and so memorably.

In someone so young, it is an astounding combination of artistry and technical prowess.

I can’t wait to see the next thing she’ll do! And don’t worry dear readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theater, I’ll keep you posted!

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Carson Elrod & Dave Quay Explode like Supernovas in Hilarious “Heir Apparent”!

What an uproarious delight is awaiting theater-goers at the CSC on E.13th Street! You must see two young, incredibly talented and gifted actors become stars in David Yves uproarious new comedy “Heir Apparent”. Carson Elrod explodes and Dave Quay shines in one of the most expertly executed comic duets since Laurel and Hardy had us in stitches! This kind of delight and excitement is so, so rare in theater or in film, or anywhere. It’s a unique and festive romp that will leave you rolling,if not dancing, in the aisles! Send in the clowns! Don’t bother, they’re here! At the CSC!

Carson Elrod, remember that name! You are going to be hearing it a lot this season, is a veteran, and quirky, comic actor whose work I have been following ever since he graduated from NYU’s prestigious Grad Acting program a few years back. His is a unique talent that has finally gotten the role of his career in “Heir Apparent”, as Crispin, the wily servant straight out of Commedia dell’Arte via the inventive playwright David Ives’ wildy comic take on a centuries old French farce by Jean-Francois Regnard”Le Legataire Universel”(1708).

If all of this sounds a little stuffy and pretentious, “The Heir Apparent” is none of that. It’s simply the funniest show in New York! And Carson Elrod’s comic genius of timing and impersonations is finally allowed to explode like the Supernova he’s going to be.

Director John Rando (“Urinetown”) has given Carson Elrod his comic head and unleashed the stupendously funny volcano inside. Elrod explodes and explodes, topping himself in scene after scene, where he, the wiliest of servile servants, is called upon to assume one outrageous disguise after another, trying to bilk the dying Miser character of Geronte (the always perfect Paxton Whitehead), out of his considerable fortune.

He is matched beat for beat by the stunning Dave Quay(pictured above^), who only JUST graduated NYU’s grad acting program this past June, and who here makes an incredibly impressive New York debut in what perhaps is the more difficult role of Eraste, the ardent young lover, who is Crispin/Elrod’s master, and the Heir Apparent of the title role.

Quay has to play straight man to Elrod’s wackness-to-the-max-ness and it’s a comic duet by two young actors the likes of which I’ve never seen in all my play-going life!

Quay has to be touching, ardent, relatable, impetuous romantic and sexy, too, and he manages to do all that and not miss a comic trick, complementing and completing Elrod’s tour-de-force, Quay does this without missing a beat, or a laugh.

Elrod’s character describes himself at one point as a “one man Comedie Francaise”.

I’d say it was two!

Playing the straight, leading man to Elrod’s whirling dervish is no easy task for an actor. But Quay’s meets the challenges and surpasses expectations ~ for handsome love interests are not USUALLY this funny. But he is!

You have to CARE about Dave Quay’s blond, blue-eyed, sincere heir with the Rock-Star hair, and you do. You have to want him to inherit the earth and the considerable fortune that is at stake here.

“The Heir Apparent”is like discovering a new play by Moliere! Yes! It’s THAT funny!

The fact that both Elrod and Quay trained in clown work at NYU makes them a perfectly matched pair of comical technical wonders. They can handle the slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am physical comedy as well as Ives’ scintillating wit.

And did I mention the play is entirely in RHYME!?! What a joy! To hear language this highfalutin (and hilarious) handled with such magical mastery by Elrod, Quay, and past British masters Paxton Whitehead and Suzanne Bertish who set an expert pace here.

If Carson Elrod is a volcano, Dave Quay is simply a star, and does what stars do. He just shines, shines, shines!

And I can’t forget to mention the gigantic comic performance of the world’s tiniest lawyer Scruple, played on his knees, with tiny little pads for feet by the redoubtable David Pittu. He doesn’t make his entrance til Act Two but you’re going to never stop laughing at the world’s littlest lawyer with a wig(by Paul Huntley) that is bigger than he is!Pittu is the comic cherry on top of this delicious French pastry of a play!

Don’t miss “The Heir Apparent” before it moves to Broadway! Or somewhere more expensive, like David Yves’ last hit “Venus in Furs” did which made another NYU Alum Nina Arianda famous. (WHAT magical elixir do they have in the water down there?!?)

I think “The Heir Apparent” will do the same for Carson Elrod and Dave Quay! Don’t MISS iT at the CSC, a theater that is barely large enough to contain the laughter!

They throw gold coins at the audience at the end, and I’ll treasure mine for ever and ever, like you will the golden, mirthful memories “The Heir Apparent” will leave you with. You’ll exit happy!

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A Jewel Glows in Brooklyn! “Until Next Time” Clown show = Brilliant!

I almost never venture out of Manhattan to see theater, especially to parts of Brooklyn I’ve never been to, trendy though they now may be. Such is Billyburg, or Williamsburg. I went there to see of all things a Clown Show. In a Clown Festival, at the tiny Brick Theater at 579 Metropolitan Avenue. A bright red door led you into a tiny, black-box theater, with yes, the requisite exposed brick walls.

And there I saw one of the best, most moving pieces of theater I have seen in a long, long time. “Until Next Time” was the multi-talented David Quay’s completely wordless story of a young man(Quay himself, who also sharply directed) suffering the loss of his beloved (Tiffany Baker) in a car crash.

Completely pantomimed with a lush musical score underneath, Quay acted out the heart-break, love and loss, he felt about the comatose pretty girl in the hospital bed. We all know she may never recover, but Quay refuses to let her go. And his memories come to vivid life as the Sleeping Beauty (Baker) arises from the bed and re-enacts their life together.

The hospital setting is bleak as any, as Quay sees all the medical personal as his adversaries and at one point he even battles the doctor and nurse, who come to symbolize death itself. And we all want him to win this tug of war and bring the beautiful Baker back to life.

Quay’s masterful, incredibly skillful clowning recalls all the great mimes, Marcel Marceau, Chaplin, Buster Keaton and reminds you of how sad the world of wordless clowns can be, and how heart-breaking.

There are no words when you are fighting with your feelings of the death of a loved one.

I must’ve cried three times.

The final images are shattering.

I wish “Until the Next Time” were playing longer, but alas, its’ run at the Brick Theater is done, but such a superb, original work surely will be seen again.

That’s the way we all feel when someone we love passes. Until Next Time.

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Meet Dave Quay! A Star is Born!

Stephen Holt introduces multi-talented young actor, filmmaker, clown Dave Quay, recently graduated from the prestigious NYU Grad Acting program. He’s appearing in a new play “The Rufus Equation” in the NYC Fringe Festival and prepping his own clown show “Until Next Time” for the New York Clown Festival in late September in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Camera & Editing ~ Michael Grinfeld

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