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“Moses, The Author” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Players Theatre (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)

“Moses, The Author” at FringeNYC 2014 at The Players Theatre (Closes on Saturday August 23, 2014)
Written by Andrew R. Heinze
Directed by Amy Wright
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“You can’t launch new ideas on old thinking.” (Billboard message on the corner of Lafayette and Bleecker)

Andrew R. Heinze’s “Moses, The Author” is a new play currently running at Fringe NYC 2104 and is awarded Theatre Reviews Limited’s “Best Play of Opening Weekend” at Fringe NYC. This smart, funny, and provocative new comedy highlights the limitations of religious literature to adequately portray the essence of a people’s/nation’s faith. For all religions of “a book” (Judaism, Islam, Christianity), difficulty arises when the community, fearful of heresy and the death of reliable storytellers and mindful of the need for pedagogy, commits orally transmitted mythos to writing. The flexibility accepted in the oral tradition – as the needs of the community changed or new information required altered world views – became impossible to sustain: what was written was written and could not be changed. In fact, it became the word of the gods transmitted to humankind through special agents (priests, prophets, and kings) and infallible and incontrovertible. Moses (Mitch Tebo) was one of those special agents.

But according to the playwright, even Moses had difficulty writing down what his god shared in “waves of energy.” In this brilliant new play, Mr. Heinze portrays the iconic Moses as a fallible finite human being who is challenged by his family and his conscience to reconsider what he had written, reevaluate its provenance, and reimagine the possibility that future generations might need assistance in understanding the true meaning of his “five books.” In fact, he confesses to having to “settle for a book that is incomplete.”

We know very little about Moses’ sons Gershom and Eliezer except references in Rabbinic literature:
“Your sons sat and did not occupy themselves with Torah. Joshua, who served you, is fitting to serve Israel” (from Midrash Tanchuma, Pinchas 11). Mr. Heinze only includes Gershom (here Gershy) and portrays him as a gay young man quite happy spending time with his lover and painting. Hazen Cuyler is a brooding yet brash Gershy who challenges his father to examine his body of work from a new perspective:

GERSHY: “--Oh now you're making the argument from custom? I thought your whole project, Dad, was about stopping customs that are bad -- like human sacrifice – and inspiring people with new ideas, like All Men Are Made in the Image of God.”

It is this ongoing dialogue with Gershy, his wife Zippy (Judy Rosenblatt), his mother Yoheved (Janine Hegarty), and his amanuensis Thusie (Ramzi Khalaf) that makes Moses’ last day on earth a worthy testament to his body of work which he comes to realize, as Gershy reminds him, is from God, “but his words.” The engaging ensemble cast brings authenticity to the playwright’s script and enlivens the debate about infallibility with often phrenetic humor. Theologians have grappled with the role of women and the status of the LGBTQ community in scripture for centuries: “Moses, The Author” manages to put that quest into perspective with the affirmation Gershy teases out of his father in the play’s emotional climax: “We're all made in the image of God, Thusie.”

Mitch Tebo delivers a bravura performance as the aging Moses faced with mortality, banned from entering the Promised Land, and bereft of his beloved bromance with his Creator God.

Let the people say, Amen!”

MOSES, THE AUTHOR

“Moses, The Author” is presented by Who Knew! Productions in Association with The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Amy Wright.

The cast of “Moses, The Author” includes Hazen Cuyler, Janine Hegarty, Ramzi Khalaf, Jusy Rosenblatt, and Mitch Tebo.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is one hour and forty minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Tuesday, August 12, 2014

“Skyline” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)

“Skyline” at FringeNYC 2014 at the Sheen Center (Closes on Sunday August 24, 2014)
Book and Lyrics by Maureen FitzGerald
Music by Maureen FitzGerald and Taylor Williams
Directed by Jason Blitman
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Skyline” the new musical, which delves into the historical events surrounding the protests ignited by the demolition of the iconic Penn Station in 1963, is both heartfelt and interesting and is presented as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. It has all the elements of good old fashioned musical theatre and accentuates its appellation by producing a vivid view of the varying effects the decision to demolish Penn Station had on a multitude of New Yorkers and the City’s viable landscape. The book by Maureen FitzGerald provides a clear insight into the dilemma, never losing focus while also providing provocative romantic subplots that create interest and support the action. Although characters may appear stereotypical at times, it may be condoned since the musical is set mid century when these types might have even been considered progressive. The music by Taylor Williams and Ms. FitzGerald is standard Broadway but diverse and interesting, seasoned with strong solos and pleasant ensemble harmony.

The entire cast is seasoned and multi talented as they keep pace with the quick moving musical theatre plot providing well defined characters and well crafted vocals. Joseph Spieldenner turns in a passionate protester as Paul with leading man charisma and a strong baritone to support his crusade. Katie Lee Hill is determined as the career orientated Allison with an intellectual drive, confused by her emotionally romantic heart. Peter Gosik portrays a cynical Henry that finally redeems himself for the sake of love and displays his exceptional musicality in the song “Just Like You.”

There is certainly room for improvement here but even at this stage there is enough good material to entertain an audience for the intermission less hour and forty five minutes. It is filled with good performances, new music and a little bit of New York history; what more can you hope for as you partake in this annual New York Theatre Festival.

SKYLINE

“Skyline” is presented by The Present Company (Elena K Holy, Producing Artistic Director). Directed by Jason Blitman. Musical Direction by Taylor Williams.

For performance schedule, ticketing information and more information about the presenting company, please visit www.FringeNYC.org. For mobile ticketing, please visit www.FringeonTheFly.com. The running time is one hour and forty-five minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Tuesday, August 12, 2014