Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Moonbox Productions Presents Neil Simon's "Barefoot In The Park" - Through December 12th

I have always loved Neil Simon's clever comedy "Barefoot In The Park."  The current Moonbox Productions offering at the BCA Plaza Theatre is a very satisfying revival of this classic play set in 1960s New York City.  John Paul Devlin's set beautifully captures the ethos of a typical West Side 5th floor walk-up apartment that is the starter home for newlyweds Corie (Marisa Gold) and Paul (Tom Shoemaker).  Director Allison Olivia Choat has very cleverly staged this production so that the few necessary set changes, including furniture deliveries, take place during brief intermissions while audience members choose to look on.

Tom Shoemaker (Paul Bratter) and Marisa Gold (Corie Bratter) 
Moonbox Productions "Barefoot in the Park"
BCA Plaza Theatre
Through December 12th
Photograph - Earl Christie Photography
Mr. Shoemaker and Ms. Gold give strong performances as the young couple who are having a hard time in their first few weeks of marital bliss adjusting to one another and to the less than edenic ambience of their cramped love nest.  There is a hole in the skylight that lets in snow and cold air, and there are holes in Corie and Tom's understanding of one another that lead to a deep chill in their relationship. Complicating things in delightful ways are Corie's overbearing mother (Sheriden Thomas) and the eccentric neighbor, Victor Velasco (Phil Thompson) who inhabits the atelier on the roof.   As the newly forged matrimonial bonds between Corie and Tom are tested, the older pair find themselves bonding with the help of copious doses of catalytic ouzo imbibed at an Albanian restaurant on Staten Island.  Adding their own small doses of spice to the shenanigans are the beleaguered deliveryman (James Bocock) and an AT&T Princess telephone installer (Andrew Winson).  Their breathless sense of having been beset upon after scaling the alpine heights to the Bratter's bower in the clouds provides some nice light comic moments in this play.

Tom Shoemaker (Paul Bratter), Phil Thompson** (Victor Velasco), Sheriden
Thomas* (Corie's Mother) and Marisa Gold (Corie Bratter) 
Moonbox Productions "Barefoot in the Park"
Photograph - Earl Christie Photography
*Member of Actors' Equity Association
**Member of Screen Actors' Guild

Emily Rosser's costumes place us firmly in the days of JFK's Camelot, aided by effective Lighting by Jeffrey E. Salzberg and Sound by Dan Costello.  Dan Rodriguez provides original background music.

This play will run through December 12th at the BCA's Plaza Theatre. Grab a friend, relative or special significant other and come celebrate the holidays in this delightful Park!

Moonbox Productions Website



Friday, November 20, 2015

"Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Echoes of James Baldwin

"Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates struck me in much the same way that the early writings of James Baldwin hit me in the solar plexus when I first read them.  This book takes the form of a long letter sent by the author to his adolescent son, describing his view of their place in the world as Americans of color.  It is strident, angry, insightful, infuriating, humbling and eye-opening. Mr. Coates shares from his protean views of the world based on his sojourns in places like Howard University, Paris, the South Side of Chicago and his current home in New York City.

I agree with Toni Morrison's assessment that this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to attempt to see the world through the eyes of a Black man who feels that at any moment forces beyond his control may succeed in gaining access to his body and cause him to do things he does not wish to do and be things he does not wish to be.  In the ongoing clash of ideas between "Black Lives Matter" vs. "All Lives Matter," this very personal observation shines a bright light on one thinking man's experiences of running the gauntlet of segregation, racism and marginalization.

This book is not only a very personal and reflective gift to young Master Coates from his father, it is also a generous contribution to the discourse we should be having with one another about issues of race in America.  The experiences and reflections that this author shares are both timely and timeless. I have a friend who is using this book in a course he is teaching at the University of Texas.  It is my hope that "Between The World And Me" will become part of the syllabus for most of us in the School of Lifelong Learning.