Red Bull Theater To Feature A Zoom Reading And Plus Streaming Their Recent Production of The Alchemist!

I have touted Red Bull Theater’s skills at readings via Zoom in a number of previous posts and now they are going to grace us with a new one! This time it is John Marston’s The Wonder of Women. AND they are offering an on demand streaming version of their recent live performance: The Alchemist. Both offerings are pay want to can!

Here are the details and I urge you to sign up for both of them!!

“The more cold fate, the more thy virtue burned”

Sensational melodrama, overt eroticism, and splashes of wry wit color John Marston’s grimly dark Jacobean tragedy–inspired by events from Roman history. A dauntless princess is tested in a crucible of moral absolutes, ruthless ambition, and utter depravity. After her wedding night is interrupted by the onset of war, Sophonisba emerges from a series of conspiracies with heroic virtue as the “just shame of men” and multi-faceted “wonder of women.”

Directed by Nathan Winkelstein

Featuring Ro Boddie, Jason C. Brown, Robert Cuccioli, Cara Ricketts, Derek Smith, and Sarin Monae West

Additional details here…includes a bio of the author as well. Although this is pay what you can, you do have to make a reservation regardless. There will be a live reading and then the recorded reading will be available on line for a limited time:

This event will premiere LIVE on Monday, January 31, 2022.

A recording of that livestream will be available until 7:00 PM EST on Friday, February 3, 2022

A Side-splitting, Screwball FARCE of Magical Proportions.

London. 1610. It’s plague time again. When a wealthy gentleman flees to the country, his trusted servant opens his house to a pair of con artists and sets up a den of criminal capitalism. Claiming alchemical powers, the quick-witted trio fleece an onslaught of greedy sheep with their virtuosic ability to improvise amidst increasingly frantic comings and goings. It’s comic gold with dupes, double-dupes, duels, disguises, and a lucky flea named “Lewis”.

This new version of Jonson’s rowdy comedy classic is adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher and directed by Jesse Berger – ran Off-Broadway for strictly limited engagement from November 7-December 15, 2021.

Streaming On-Demand Available from February 1 – February 14 Only.
Pricing subject to change.

I am grateful that Red Bull Theater is streaming The Alchemist since I didn’t have the opportunity to travel to New York to see the live performances. So you can bet that I have my reservations placed for this unique streaming event!

Details on the play and reservation process are here!

I hope you have the opportunity to experience this fine theater group and you enjoy these streamed events. Wonderful entertainment for a cold winter evening.!

Toni Stone Plays Hardball at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater!

I am struggling a bit putting together my response to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of Toni Stone written by Lydia R. Diamond. This is such an engaging play that I am afraid that I won’t do it justice.

courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Toni Stone the character introduces us to Toni Stone and her boys, the ball team she plays for in her opening soliloquy. Tony Stone the play fills in the details with life on a ball team and vignettes around her family and personal history. And all of our stories are told by the eight men who make up the rest of her ball team. So we have actors stretching out to play multiple characters, whether it is the white team owner, Toni’s mother, the family pastor, or her best friend and confidante, Millie!

Director Tinashe Kajese-Bolden brings out the best in the story and the best in the actors. Those playing multiple roles are able to switch characters and clearly tell the story. And the choreography gives us the feel of the agility of ballplayers and their love of them game…but there is more to that…continue reading.

The obvious story is that of a woman trying to prove she is able to compete at baseball with men. Toni Stone proves that she can do that and we see that her desire to play isn’t any less of a driving force for her than the other players on her team.

But there is a lot more going on here. This is baseball in the early 1950s, Negro League baseball, Jim Crow era baseball. So beyond the story around gender roles we have the even uglier reality of racism in America. This play is a reminder of how far we’ve come but also of how far we have to go. And on top of that the play openly displays misogyny, sexism, and sexual assault/harassment. And these are presented in direct ways that raise the blood a bit and a few scenes that are rather embarrassing. Particular the scene where the Clowns have to pantomime playing ball or perform juggling or other circus type acts as part of the ball game. sigh.

But…this isn’t all drama…there is plenty of humor to be had! There is certainly a full plate of theater here.

Kedren Spencer plays Toni Stone. And she clearly shows us the athleticism and desire that is Toni Stone. And she can also move into the complaining daughter when her mother discourages her interests in favor of somethings that are more appropriate for young women…to being a bit wary or ignorant of social mores and flirting…to being direct to pursue her baseball career…to being stubborn and unaware when she says what’s on her mind and not realizing she has hurt another’s feelings. Spencer has got to be tired by the time the play ends.

My favorite actor here is Enoch A. King who plays one of the ball players but whose main character is Millie, a prostitute who becomes a mentor and best friend to Toni Stone throughout the history covered in the play. You know exactly how Millie is feeling before she says a word. King has got her down pat…facial expressions…vocal tones and intonations…and the right sashay or stride to tell us who Millie is and how she feels about the world and how she relates to Toni.

The Rep recommends this for people 12 and older. The reason here is some adult language and adult situations. But there is a lot to learn here about American sports, culture, and society beyond the incredible story of Toni Stone.

The play continues through January 30. 2022 and runs 2 hours and 15 minutes with an intermission. Be aware of the COVID-19 protocols in effect…check here for current status.

And for extra credit reading here is the PlayGuide and Program!

Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Piano Men

You will be entertained.

You will be the entertainer!

Milwaukee Repertory Theater Artistic Director Mark Clements has taken the piano bar and dueling piano motifs and subverted them in the Stackner Cabaret to warm our hearts on cold January evenings. Voila, Piano Men!

Pianists Nygel D. Robinson and Steve Watts share a minimalist stage and their respective pianos…working through song requests submitted by the audience (get there early enough to fill out a request card) and relayed to the stage via a tablet computer. So the show you experience will be different than the one I saw this past Friday.

There is a very comfortable camaraderie between the two men as they take turns fulfilling those requests…and a bit of underlying competitiveness as well. And it all adds up to good fun. And as they develop and select their playlist there is an easy patter between them and some anecdotes and stories to be shared with you! (you might hear some complaints about Milwaukee weather)

Steve Watts
Nygel D. Robinson

Some of the best bits are songs that they both play along with, sometimes with counterpoint from their keyboards, alternating the vocals on verses, or taking a verse and handing off the chorus.

You may sing along. Nay, you will be encouraged to sing along! You will be required to sing along. You will be the entertained and the entertainer!

And the stage was perfectly suited to the performance. Two baby grands facing each other before an aged brick wall with ‘graffiti’. And I am sure the acoustic properties of brick helped bring out the sound of dueling pianos just exactly right.

But be ready for the lightening round last 15 minutes or so when Mr. Robinson and Mr. Watts put away the pads…and try to identify songs that they know from the ones you shout out from the audience!!!!!

This is the Stackner Cabaret. So I encourage you to make reservations and have dinner before the show. AND the show is 90 minutes with no intermission, so make sure you have your beverage of choice and any dessert or snack in front of you before the lights go down.

Piano Men is at the Stackner Cabaret from now until February 27, 2022. As I said above it runs about 90 minutes without intermission.

One last thing: Mr. Robinson will be replaced by Colte Julian starting February 8, 2022.

Colte Julian