“Falling in love” is a fascinating expression. In my native language, Chinese, the two most-used equivalents of the phrase compare love to things one could physically fall into, such as a river or a net, but English expression might just be superior because of its ambiguity. Do we fall into love, or are we falling when we’re in love? The Kitchen Theater’s Bright Half Life seems to say it’s both. Written by Tanya Barfield and directed by Sara Lampert Hoover, Bright Half Life is a two-women play that follows the story of Vicky (Shannon Tyo) and Erica (Jennifer Bareilles) through the decades.
Murder Ballad (directed by Cameron Krane ’17) is just what you want out of a Friday night as Risley Theater. It’s fun and exciting, a little bit messed up, well executed and small-scale. The musical has four main characters — a woman, her two love interests and a narrator. It’s a fairly typical New York City love triangle. Sara (Ana Carpenter ’19) is stuck between the respectable NYU poet and the sketchy downtown bartender.
“A good one! For I say, things hard to bear might chance to mean good luck — if, by some chance they turn out straight.”
Thus, Creon reintroduces himself to Oedipus after a long journey, bearing significant news. His report is of course not good. This I the first thing I said as I walked onstage for three nights, in the recent Classics department production of Sophocles’ Oedipus. This circular, beguiling phrase, swollen with hope and deceit, has come to haunt me.
Company (written by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth; director, Catherine Weidner; musical director, Christopher Zemliauskas) as a play itself doesn’t have a particularly dramatic plot the way a Greek tragedy or a Shakespearian comedy might — set up as a series of vignettes, the play focuses on exploring the topic of marriage through the eyes of Robert (Liam Snead), or “Bob/Bobby” as his friends affectionately call him, a 35-year-old man who just can’t seem to get married. Despite that Robert is well-liked, attractive and well-established, Robert’s friends are disheartened that is he still isn’t married by the time of his 35th birthday; on the other hand, he mostly works hard to deny that he is completely terrified of committing. In looking at the very different personalities and marriages of Robert’s friends, Company seeks to explore how marriage changes and affects people. In the eyes of ever-unmarried Robert, the premise leads to a fun look at the dynamics of a group which Robert is always third-wheeling his married friends. While the vignette set-up of the play itself might make some find the story stale or less dynamic, Ithaca College Theatre Arts’ Company does an excellent job in creating a colorful and engaging story through an incredibly distinctive cast.
Even before the show begins, the set at the Clark Theatre in Dillingham Center of Ithaca College is striking — clean lines, neat delineations of space with blues and whites, and solid colors immediately give a modern tone to Blood Wedding, the famous tragedy of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. Set in twentieth century rural Spain, Blood Wedding tells the story of an on-going curse of a family feud and deception as it explores the story and aftermath of a young woman who abandons her own wedding for her former lover. Though such a story could easily slip into the realm of cliché, the clean aesthetic and direction of Ithaca College’s “Blood Wedding” keeps the narrative fresh and enthralling. Director Norm Johnson’s Blood Wedding remains contemporary in great part due to the set and costumes. The creative team (Scenic design: Emily Weisbecker; Costume design: Victoria Pizappi; Lighting and projection design: Steve TenEyck, assisted by Teddy Kosciuszek; Sound design: Don Tindall) does an incredible job with a nod to Lorca’s surrealist links — the look is simple but timeless.
“Il avait le jugement assez droit, avec l’esprit le plus simple ; c’est, je crois, pour cette raison qu’on le nommait Candide.”
Theodicy is the central problem for any incarnation or lyricized reworking of Voltaire’s novella Candide. The eponymous character runs the Weltanschauung-gamut in his pained, hopelessly naïve globe-trekking, alternatively stumbling into phenomenal luck and misfortune, being swindled out of everything he owns or plucking golden pebbles off the streets of Eldorado. It is equal parts absurd travelogue and philosophical disenchantment, what the tale of the Buddha would have been if written by a splenetic Frenchman. It is an irreverent parable with a moral, a Bildungsroman and, on a 21st century stage, a pastiche suprême. It lends itself, if one may be so bold, to musical theatre.
Well, here we are. It’s been quite the ride, hasn’t it? To be quite honest, I don’t even know what to say. I’ve read countless farewell columns in my four years of reading, writing for and editing the Arts section of The Sun. Everything worth saying has been said, and more eloquently, by a talented stable of friends and writers that I should have gotten to know better.
When I first heard about Spring Awakening, I thought of benign, sunny meadows full of blossoming flowers with some schoolchildren skipping through. Little did I know that the play is about schoolchildren’s sexual blossoming rather than their cavorting in a blooming field of flowers. I might have been far off, but the surprise made seeing the Risley Theatre production of Spring Awakening even more enjoyable. The rock musical is based on a book by Steven Sater, who also wrote the lyrics to accompany the play’s music. Set in Germany in 1891, Spring Awakening’s story is that of a group of teenagers in the midst of puberty.
Playing an album live, end-to-end, can prove arduous for many artists. Rather than tailoring a set list to crescendo, climax, and resolve for a given night, the performers must trust that the same progressions that worked on the album will similarly thrill live audiences. The same challenges that can sink such a play-through, however, can also elevate a concert. A performance can offer testimony to the narrative and vision that inspired an album rather than simply offering up a smattering of tracks from an artist’s career. Kurt Riley’s Kismet proved to be a viable work to bring to Klarman Auditorium, in its entirety, on Friday night.
Arts & Entertainment writers Emily Kling and Jesse Weissman discuss Ithaca College Theatre Arts’ production of Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia. Arcadia played at Ithaca College’s Hoerner Theatre from April 26 to May 1 and was directed by Ithaca College professor Greg Bostwick. Jesse Weissman: Before we start discussing the play itself, I want to note just how nice the Main Stage Theatre at Ithaca College is! It is a pretty impressive venue and feels like a real Broadway theatre. Emily Kling: Agreed!