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The Very Best of NYC Theater
by Mei Mei Chin
October 19, 2011
La MaMa presents Clowns Ex Machina in the world premiere of Clowns Full-Tilt: A Musing on Aesthetics Nov 4-20. In their newest show, Kendall Cornell and her troupe of eight female clowns match their humor against the twodimensional—flattening themselves into famous paintings, even squeezing themselves into one-dimensional stock characters from advertisements and TV. Through a series of short vignettes, songs and dances, they create an absurd and chimerical brew of animated great art and shallow cosmetics commercials, and explore the chains of culture and the perversion of pure impulse.

Polybe + Seats present Alice, Or The Scottish Gravediggers at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn through Nov 20. The story revolves around Alice Butler, a young orphan working as a serving girl in her aunt’s inn. She finds herself torn between two of the inn's lodgers who are vying for her attention—the wealthy Sir Jack Spleen, and the poor but dashing medical student Edward Belton. As their competition takes a dark turn, Alice's future is at stake, as well as her very life.

Director Ivo van Hove delivers a collective soul in this visually stunning and riveting stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s 1972 film Cries and Whispers, playing at the BAM Harvey Theater Oct 25-29. Powerful performances from the acclaimed Dutch repertory company Toneelgroep Amsterdam drive this modern interpretation of Bergman’s unflinching film about the will to live and the human capacity for empathy amid the remnants of a damaged life. The story unfolds in a sterile grey room of a tomb-like manor house at the turn of this century, where a video artist named Agnes lies dying as her video diaries flicker on screens. Her estranged sisters hover about physically present but emotionally removed while the faithful maid, Anna, attends to her. Agnes’ cancer worsens, and her life culminates in a heart-wrenching emotional breakdown—a final battle waged by her body as deafening techno music attempts to drown her last screams and gasps, coming to an intense and poignant conclusion.

Queens Theatre in the Park presents CHIX 6, now through Oct 30. The pre-Broadway tryout of an exciting original musical by indie rock sensation—and Queens native—Lourds Lane tells the story of a comic book artist whose superheroine characters leap off the page to teach her how to love herself. Featuring a dynamic cast and a dazzling original score, the touching story, multimedia wizardry and electrifying music will captivate the eye, ear and heart in this world premiere event.

America’s foremost Gilbert & Sullivan repertory ensemble, the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP), continues its 2011-12 schedule with a repertoire of some G&S favorites. All performances feature the full score and dialogue with NYGASP’s cast and 25-piece orchestra in fully staged productions. The season features afternoon presentations of The Grand Duke Nov 13, as well as a week-long engagement of The Pirates of Penzance Dec 28-Jan 1 (including a gala New Year’s Eve performance).
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