Posts Tagged Michael Mitnick

The Siegel – Play Review: May, 2018


Image result for siegel, citylightsThe Siegel by Michael Mitnick, directed by Mark Anderson Phillips is a beautiful romantic comedy, with the title poking fun at the Chechov classic, “The Seagull”.  Ehan Siegal (Ben Euphrat) is in love with Alice (Ella Dershowitz) and though Alice and Ethan have broken up about two years ago, as the play opens, Ethan is with Alice’s parents, Ron (Erik Gandolfi) and Deborah (Luisa Sermol) asking them for Alice’s hand in marriage.

Ethan is on a mission to convince everyone who would be willing to get a dinner or down a few drinks that he deserves a second chance. Ethan tries to convince Alice’s mystified parents. “The point is, I will love you daughter as if she were my daughter”, says the aspiring groom. When Ron and Deborah remain unconvinced, Ethan manages to persuade Ron to have a beer with him where he reads the poem he has written for Alice.

Image result for siegel, citylightsAlice herself is not only determinedly against the entire idea but to complicate matters, she has recently moved in with her boyfriend, Nelson (David Morales). Ethan forces himself on their dinner date and Nelson is somewhat intrigued and amused by Alice’s ex boyfriend. But when Ethan manages to convince Alice to go on a dinner date, Nelson is no longer amused and he too shows up at her parents’ home to ask her hand in marriage. This prompts Alice’s bemused father to inquire, “well how many goats do you offer”?

Image result for citylights, siegelIf the goal is for Alice to be with the person who is a better match for her, then an equally pertinent question lingers in the air, “Do you think there is only one person out there for us”? For Alice, is that person Ethan or Nelson? This isn’t a play with a remarkable story. But it is a play with the most memorable, best cast of characters and each of them do do complete justice to their roles. Each one is just perfect or with just the right mix of quirkyness. “A cast is kind of a living, breathing organism”, says director Phillips and the result is this superbly funny play that leaves you in splits of laughter.

Image result for citylights, siegel

It would be amiss to not notice an underlying sadness, a gentle touch of melancholy underneath all the drama.  Without dwelling on it too much, it leaves the audience with a whole host of nagging questions. “Do we settle sometimes in life, because it is the right thing to do in that moment or because it takes too much courage to change course, and how long a shadow will that cast on one’s future happiness?” A memorable gem is a quote from Alice’s mother to Alice, “the person who you enjoy being with, is the person you should be with”.  This is not-to-miss play of this theater season and is running at Citylights Theater in San Jose. For tickets, go to www.cltc.org .

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Spacebar – a Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman —- Play Review


Spacebar – a Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman

Kudos, City Lights, for bringing Spacebar by Kyle Sugarman, on stage.  Jeremy Helgeson is absolutely superb, as Kyle Sugarman, a 16 year old with aspiration of becoming a Broadway playwright.   The playwright Michael Mitnick, is graduate of the Yale School of Drama.  Perhaps in Spacebar, there is some touch of autobiography?

Kyle Sugarman’s dad (played by brilliant Jeff Kramer), delivers a monologue, in the opening scene, that is irreverent, shocking, and hysterically funny.  In one short speech, he delivers non-sugar coated reality of events to his four year old, that one hopes, is beyond a child’s level of comprehension.  As the play progresses, it becomes apparent that everything the child (who is now a young man) aspires for and becomes, is perhaps triggered by those events.  There is a deeply touching, just tragic enough to constantly tug at your heart strings kind of undertone, to the play, that is otherwise quite funny.                                                                                                              SpacebarAd

In a cover letter addressed to Broadway, Sugarman explains his script and as he reads the letter aloud, the script plays out beside him.  Captain Iditarod (played by Jeff Kramer), attired in lighted space suit, owns a bar in outer space, several thousand years into the future, and he serves FutureBeer to his friend, Mortimer Pip (played by Kieth C. Marshall), who engages in no-holds bar profanities.  Suddenly, there on the edge of black hole, lands another space vessel and descends beautiful Esmerelda Happenstance (Morgan Voellger), with her Playboy, millionaire fiancée (George Psarras).  (The cast in this play is excellent and loved both Voellger and Psarras.)  Amidst all the comedy of events, there is a short tragic saga of Captain Iditarod’s long lost daughter and how he plans to find her.

When Sugarman does not receive the response he desired, from Broadway, at the insistence of his girl friend, also superbly played by Adrienne Walters, he escapes to New York, to personally make a case about his play, to Broadway.  But there is more.  Kyle not only wants his play produced on Broadway but he wants it heralded by a big bill board, precisely on the corner of 46th and Broadway.  Precisely why?  Didn’t I say, there is a tragic undertone, in this part comedy, part drama, part futuristic production?  As Kyle Sugarman says, “Spacebar is the story of humanity.  Spacebar is not about the space key on a computer keyboard.”

Executive Artistic Director Lisa Mallette, Associate Artistic Director, Kit Wilder, Technical Director Ron Gasparinetti, and Stage Manager, Michelle Marko deserve big kudos for beautiful stage design and lighting.  Costumes by Erin Haney and lighting by Nick Kumamoto, brilliantly complement the futuristic theme.

Spacebar is playing at City Lights Theater, in San Jose.  For more information and tickets, go to www.cltc.org .

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