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Theatre Review: Montana: The Shakespearean Scarface, Drowning in Blue

After a long stretch of consolidation and contraction, our theatre scene began showing badly needed growth near the end of 2014. New voices and fresh approaches. One of the most popular: Shakespearean stage adaptations of mass culture properties, like Star Wars and The Big Lebowski. These pre-sold parodies, the storefront theatre equivalent of Hollywood sequelitis – “You loved the film, remember? Come enjoy it again in iambic pentameter!” – use Bardian tropes in much the same way that drag and musicalization have been used for years. They attempt to claim as one’s own some chunk of shared nostalgia, albeit ‘straighter’ and, frankly, more lazily. It’s less work to rewrite dialogue into da-DUM da-DUM rhythm, replacing the ‘yous’ with ‘thous’, than it is to cross-dress the cast or compose songs.

State of Play: 1.12-2.02

Compiled by Michael Martin

Boom! Ten new shows open the weekend of the 16th, as everybody squeezes in a run before Mardi Gras takes over. Defying the Carnival calendar, NOLA Project opens its big spring comedy at the end of January and runs it into March, skipping only the big parade weekend.

State of Play: 1.01-1.12

Compiled by Michael Martin

The holiday break slowed down theatre a bit, but with 2015 dawning, the footlights are getting fired up again. Southern Rep and the Old Marquer (formerly The Shadowbox) are rolling out a pair of premiers. New installations of Verbatim Verboten and Debauchery are also on the docket. Details follow.

Fringe Finale

Reviews: My Horse's Name is Loneliness, Roller Rink Temptations

The plus of having your planned slate of Fringe Fest shows fall apart is that you start just wandering around to whatever’s still available and sounds interesting. That’s when synchronistic patterns emerge. Two of the four shows I saw Saturday night – My Horse’s Name is Loneliness, Aztec Economy’s sequel to its Fringe hit, My Aim is True, and newbie troupe Beaubourg’s production of Catherine Weingarten’s A Roller Rink Temptation – both seem to me to be modern, niche variations of the old-school gay sensibility’s main contribution to culture: Camp.

The Sunday Critic: Sarge, Enter Your Sleep, A Nudist's Wedding

Besides the opportunity to be windy and wordy, the main advantage of keeping my amateur status as a critic rather than going pro (i.e being paid) is that I am not obligated to the scene as a whole. I get to what I get to. I’ve taken a pass on many shows. Sometimes, there's a conflict, other times shows are just not ready for a review, and sometimes words just don't do justice to a work.

Fringe Begins

NoDef's Theatre Critic Does Opening Night: Cicada, The Other Mozart, Boesman and Lena

Two or three years ago, I grew disgruntled with the New Orleans Fringe Festival. Except for any absolute obligation shows, I started avoiding it in its entirety. Sheer size had not made the fest a “victim of its own success.” There’d been no noticeable decline in the quality of its slate. Rather I believed that the rest of the New Orleans scene had fallen victim to it. It’s all in the timing: Whereas in most cities a fringe fest invigorates the off-season, the theatrical dead zone, ours had set up camp in the middle of prime time – in a town where workable periods for full-run shows is already severely limited by the major holidays – then grown so huge as to suck all the air out of the room. 

Extra Credit

Theatre Reviews: The Lion and the Jewel, 
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

I hate to think what the New Orleans theatre scene would look like without its student shows. Yes, you have to make allowances for talent that’s still maturing, also squint at twenty-somethings playing characters twice or more their age, but there’s an adventurousness in the university theatre departments – in presenting new material, and works that are commercially unviable, particularly from other cultures – that we’d be much the poorer without. Serious theatergoers have to add the halls of edication to their itineraries.

State of Play 11.07-11.18

Compiled by Michael Martin

This week's listings offers the last update before the performance explosion that is Fringe Fest, November 19-23.However, several productions are still running, and even more are firing up early to hit their pace when the festival begins. SoLa is also seeing an early start to the holiday season with a couple classics.

Parental Concerns

Theatre Review: Orphans

Damned if I know whether Frederick Mead is a genius or the luckiest director in town. 

I winced when casting was announced for Jonathan Mares’ production of Lyle Kessler’s Orphans. The oft-produced, award-winning drama (three showy roles, simple unit set) is about grown orphan brothers, practically feral: the older Treat (Martin Bradford), a violent control freak who makes their lousy living as a petty thief; the younger Phillip (David Williams), submissive and so childlike as to seem mentally challenged.

State of Play 10.28-11.03

As Fringe Fest and Halloween approach, theatre in NOLA is in the midst of small lull. However, the week does bring a remount of a Jim Fitzmorris classic and radio play about Nancy Dreaux. Plus, derivative fare like Rocky Horror, Trek a Go-Go, and a Living Dead musical continue their runs.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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