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Under My Skin Provides A Healthy Dose of Laughter

I don’t think there is a person alive that hasn’t heard the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  As for myself, I prefer “Laughter is the best medicine.”  Laughter may not have the ability to cure all ailments, but it definitely heals the soul.  And a prescription filled with laughs is what the members of the audience at The Little Shubert Theatre will receive when they view Under My Skin. 

6.200106Taking cues from Switch, Big and Freaky Friday, Under My Skin adds a whole new chapter to the old body exchange tale. So here’s the story… Mr.  Harrison Badish III is the CEO of Amalgamated Healthcare, the nation’s leading healthcare provider.  He’s a cold, shrewd business man who cares more about making money for the company than making a difference or knowing his employees, one of whom is Melody Dent.  Melody is a single mom from Staten Island who works part-time at Amalgamated with her best friend Nanette.  Both she and Nanette had a problem being seen by Badish until one fateful day when a cup of coffee sets off a chain of events that leads to Melody and Harrison coming face to face with an angel.  The angel, compassionate to their pleas, decides to bring them back to life, but there is a catch, their souls are placed into the wrong bodies.   And while the pair waits for the angel to switch them back, they discover what life is really like for each other and learn more about the trials and tribulations of the opposite sex. By the time Melody and Harrison are themselves again, they realize they can’t live without each other.

6.200111Cheeky and chock full of humor, Under My Skin lodges itself directly into the marrow of the audience’s funny bone.  Husband and wife writing team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser harmoniously weave comedy and social commentary with this production.  The good ole “make ‘em laugh” approach is a tried and true method of slipping in points of view that require introspection.   Along with adding new layers to the age old battle of the sexes debate, they also weigh in on the state of healthcare, or lack thereof, in our nation and how it affects the everyday, working American.

6.200112The neon lights of Broadway do burn bright. But sometimes they shine even brighter Off-Broadway. Under My Skin is one of the most dynamic shows I’ve seen in a while.  If you find yourself on 42nd Street, take a walk down to The Little Shubert Theatre for an thoroughly enjoyable 90-minute laugh-fest.

Photos: Joan Marcus

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Under My Skin Ticket Giveaway

That’s right FAMERS, it’s contest time!

F.A.M.E NYC is giving away a pair of tickets for Under My Skin, the new comedy in previews at The Little Shubert Theatre.  This production takes the battle of the sexes to new heights.  And one of you FAMERS could be the lucky winner if you can answer this question…

What iconic blue-eyed singer from Hoboken N.J. recorded a rendition of “I’ve Got You under My Skin?”

 The winner will be announced on Good Friday at 5 p.m.

Happy spring and good luck!

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Under My Skin Is On Stage at The Little Shubert Theatre

They say, and John Gray Ph.D. wrote, men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  But how do we know that for sure unless we are willing to take a visit to each other’s planet, or to borrow another famous idiom, “walk a mile in someone shoes” or stilettos.

Husband and wife writing team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser add another chapter to this ongoing debate with Under My Skin.  Sternin and Fraser are no strangers to the subject of the male/female relationship conundrum with shows like “Three’s Company” and “Who’s The Boss?” under their belts; Under My Skin takes that enigma and turns it into an out-of-body experience.

The prescription for this new comedy involves a CEO of America’s leading healthcare provider, a single mom from Staten Island and one big outrageous twist of fate.  Under My Skin is directed by Kristen Sanderson and stars Kerry Butler and Matt Walton.  Under My Skin began previews at The Little Shubert Theatre, located at 422 West 42nd Street, on April 5 and is scheduled to open on May 15. FAMERS be on the lookout for a ticket giveaway coming soon!

To learn more about the play click, www.undermyskintheplay.com.  Or click below to meet the cast!

 

Photo and video courtesy of Serino Coyne

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Several Incarnations …One Life- Becoming Dr. Ruth

Holocaust survivor, sniper, sex therapist, author, mother of two, widow, grandmother of four all packed in 5-foot-4-inch frame, can anyone say #WOW?  While some sit and contemplate how to get one life going, Dr. Ruth has had several and at 87 this force of fierceness is still out and about every night.  Listen up Millennials, before there was a Carrie Bradshaw there was Dr. Ruth.  When she launched her radio show, “Sexually Speaking”, in 1980, the idea of a woman speaking so candidly about sex was still taboo. Dr. Ruth is a trailblazer, but what led her to become America’s favorite sex therapist?  That journey is poignantly explored in Becoming Dr. Ruth.

3.192955The one-woman production takes place in 1997 at Dr. Ruth’s apartment in Washington Heights.  Recently widowed, she is preparing to move and talking on the phone when she realizes she has company (the audience).  Dr. Ruth, colorfully played by Debra Jo Rupp, then breaks the fourth wall to lead the audience through a narrative of the events of her life before we came to know her.  Born Karola Ruth Siegel in Wiesenfeld, Germany, Dr. Ruth was forever separated from her family when her mother and grandmother decided to send her to Switzerland as part of the Kindertransport.  She details the harsh reality of living in that environment while still dealing with the issues of childhood.  At 17, she was a member of the Haganah in Jerusalem serving as a scout and sniper.  In 1950, Dr. Ruth moved to France studying and teaching psychology at the University of Paris.  In 1956, she immigrated to New York City, moving into the same apartment she inhabits today.  And if that wasn’t enough, she divorced two husbands, gave birth to a daughter, married her beloved Fred Westheimer, became a mother for the second time, earned a master’s degree in sociology and completed her-post doctoral work in human sexuality before the name Dr. Ruth became synonymous with sex. The play also chronicles what life was like after she became the most famous sex therapist of the 20th century.

Four-stars usually signify that a creative endeavor has achieved an A+ grade.  Well in my opinion, four stars don’t adequately display how wonderful this production is.  Becoming Dr. Ruth is triumphant – a soul-hooking display of the resiliency of the human spirit.  From the time Debra Jo Rupp acknowledges the audience until the lights dim, spectators are swept-up in a tale so epic Homer would be envious that he hadn’t written it.  The narrative is so engrossing that no other characters are necessary.  Dr. Ruth’s story makes for the quintessential one-woman show.

3.192957Playwright Mark St. Germain wrote my favorite play in 2010, Freud’s Last Session, and I believe he has done it again with Becoming Dr. Ruth.  To create a character in your head, infuse him/her with a dose of humanity and make him/her relatable to an audience isn’t an easy commission, but the best writers can make the transformation seem effortless.   What is even more difficult is converting a real person into a character. This is St. Germain’s genius.  He can translate a story, real or fiction, of historical figures that preserves their human quality without making them caricatures.   When St. Germain wrote the play, he knew he wanted Debra Jo Rupp to portray Dr. Ruth and he was so right.  Rupp’s performance is magnificent – she nails the amalgamation of Dr. Ruth’s German, Hebrew, French and English accent with the accuracy of a sharp shooter (pun intended).  To say she is a delight to watch is a gross understatement; her presence is its own spotlight.  She fills the stage warmth.

Becoming Dr. Ruth encompasses everything you want in a play – it tells a powerful story with candor, humor and sophistication.  It’s a brilliant artistic representation that mirrors a life that is equally as brilliant.   Many of us have followed Dr. Ruth’s advice, now take my advice…go to the Westside Theatre and see this play!

Photos: Carol Rosegg, Lanny Nagler

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Lady Day Illuminates The Little Shubert Theatre

I always knew that Broadway was haunted. Apparitions of playwrights, producers, actors and famous characters skulk around theaters and are as eternal as the neon lights that electrify the Great White Way.  Each season we are revisited with the ghosts of productions past, but this fall two New York City theaters are being visited by the spirits of iconic vocalists past.  On Broadway, Janis Joplin and her musical influences rock The Lyceum Theatre from floor to roof, and Off-Broadway the music of one of her influences is receiving its day.   Lady Day, the musical about Billie Holiday, provides its audience with a stunning visual and aural lesson in tragedy and triumph.

hc-billie-holiday-20131023Anyone who has seen or read Lady Sings the Blues knows the calamitous story of Billie Holiday’s life.  Overflowing with agonizing memories, abusive men and addiction, the pain Holiday experienced habitually showed in various aspects of her life – most often in her music.  Her sound carried listeners through the valleys of the blues transforming agony into musical ecstasy.  You don’t just hear Billie Holliday…you feel Billie Holiday, and that essence is fabulously represented in this production.

Lady Day is an overwhelming emotional tribute to the legacy of Billie Holiday.  The musical takes place at a theater in London.  Billie Holiday and her band are playing the final leg of her European tour.  The first act consists of the rehearsal and the second act is the show.  Woven between 25 of Holliday’s most famous songs is the recounting of her troubled life.  Through music Billie tries to fight the demons haunting her in rehearsal, but winds up still fighting them during the show – something I suspect that happened repeatedly during her brief life.  As Billie exposes her scars, the audience bears witness to an unflinching portrait of pain, but it is how her hurt is translated into song that makes this production shine – each song helps to build the story.  Like Billie Holiday’s music, this production burrows underneath the skin and lingers in the pit of your gut.

lady_dayThe success of this musical is largely due to the performance of Grammy-winner Dee Dee Bridgewater.  She plays the role of Billie Holiday as if she is possessed and her voice is spot-on.  I have never heard anyone capture the timbre of Lady Day as she has.  Bridgewater is simply amazing; you won’t be able take your eyes off of her.  And you won’t soon forget Lady Day the musical.  All artists are tasked with the frightening aspect of revealing their souls to the scrutiny of the masses, but there is something in the way a jazz musician does it that is undeniably raw and palpable.  Billie Holiday’s voice was an instrument that could rival the bent notes and artistry of any of the jazz greats.  She was the voice of her time.  Her influence can still be heard in singers today.

A good story and good music will always yield promising results.  It is as simple as saying one plus one equals two.  At The Little Shubert Theatre, the life of Billie Holiday (which includes her music) and the brilliant showcasing of Holliday’s work (courtesy of Dee Bridgewater) make for compelling theater and two good reasons to see this show.

Photos: Carol Rosegg

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Dirty Great Success

By Martin Burgess

FAMERS if you are up for some British action check out Dirty Great Love Story at 59E59 Theaters. It’s a clever, stripped down, well-delivered, simple play about Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna, whose relationship takes two years to develop into something serious after a one-night stand.

DGLS3webIt all begins when Richard and Katie meet for the first time in a nightclub; both happen to be at a bachelor and bachelorette party. In a drunken blur Richard and Katie wake up in a cheap hotel room the following morning.  He’s in to her, she’s not in to him and runs away trying to forget about the whole thing. The problem is…Richard’s friend Westie has hooked up with Katie’s friend CC, and the hilarity ensues as Richard and Katie keep bumping into each other at social events.

Here’s the twist; there are only two actors on stage, no set, no costumes, nada – just two chairs, mood lighting and some background music. If you’re worried about the fact that it’s British and you’re still traumatized by Shakespeare in high school, do not be, the language is very modern and easy to understand. The script is well written and the delivery is flawless. The dialogue weaves between spoken word and poetry, which really helps keep the play flowing smoothly.

Because the play is British there are lots of drinking references, which only leads to one thing, highly embarrassing moments. This new interpretation of the classic “boy meets girl” story is universal. Even hip hop fans should check it out; there is lots of good rhyming and call and response.

Pia Furtado directs this production and the play is written and acted out by Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna, who give an outstanding and unblemished performance. They have great chemistry between them and do a superb job of connecting to the audience and setting up the scenes.  Dirty Great Love Story is part of 59E59 Theaters’ Brits Off-Broadway Festival and will be playing a limited engagement until June 30.

Photos: Carol Rosegg

 

 

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59E59 Theaters Gets Sailing With Brits Off Broadway and The Boat Factory

Yes, despite the miserable weather it is that time of year to catch some jolly ole productions from across the pond as Brits Off Broadway takes residency at 59E59 Theaters.  The Boat Factory is set in Belfast 1947 and centers on a 16-year old boy beginning an apprenticeship at Hartland & Wolffs’ Titanic Shipyard.  World War II is over but the ripple effects of the war are still fresh.  This production provides a powerful voice to everyday people struggling to make a living during the glory days of Belfast’s shipbuilding era.

The Boat Factory’s limited engagement run will end on Sunday, June 30. Tickets are available by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or online at www.59e59.org. For more information, visit www.britsoffbroadway.com.

Old Jews Telling Jokes Top Off-Broadway Production for 2012

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Laughter is the best medicine, so the famous theys say.  I would agree; laughing is my favorite activity.  And if Old Jews Telling Jokes was a gym, they would be Equinox.  Old Jews Telling Jokes works your funny bone, side bone and abs in the most hilarious way.  Laugh lines be warned: Off-Broadway has never been funnier.

To view F.A.M.E NYC Editor’s review of Old Jews Telling Jokes, click http://famenycmagazine.com/2012/05/13/make-em-laugh/.

Photo courtesy of Serino/Coyne

LOL! Ticket Giveaway

With the way this economy is going, we could all use some laughter. Wouldn’t you say? 

F.A.M.E NYC can supply you with two tickets for a night of laughter with Old Jews Telling Jokes if you can tell me, who was the New York comedian that insisted that he got “No Respect”.

Comment as much as you like.  Every comment increases your chances of winning. 

Contest ends on October 5th at midnight.  This is a quickie giveaway, so act fast!

GOOD LUCK FAMERS!  I JUST LOVE A QUICKIE…DON’T YOU?

Tickets courtesy of Serino Coyne.  To learn more about Serino Coyne visit, http://www.serinocoyne.com/.

To learn more about Old Jews Telling Jokes visit, http://oldjewstellingjokesonstage.com/.

Gefilte What…Gefilte Who?

Hey FAMERS, how many of you have know what Gefilte Fish is?  If you don’t, don’t feel bad, seems most visitors in Times Square don’t know either.

Do you guys remember me telling you about a hilarious new Off-Broadway comedy titled Old Jew Telling Jokes?  Well, if you don’t this video below well serve as a reminder of some of the zaniness that is offered up on stage during the show.  Recently, OJTJ cast member Audrey Lynn Weston took to Times Square to test people’s knowledge about the delicacy and the responses are funny as H-E-Double hockey sticks!

Old Jew Telling Jokes is billed as the comedy that will make you laugh until you plotz, and I guarantee you will.   If you think that clip is funny, then you need to get yourself down to The Westside Theatre and get your laugh on. 

But if you keep checking out F.A.M.E NYC, you might just win some tickets for Old Jews Telling Jokes.

To learn more about Old Jews Telling Jokes, visit www.OJTJOnStage.com or check them out on Facebook, Facebook.com/OldJewsTellingJokesOnStage.

Video courtesy of Serino Coyne