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Archive for the ‘Berlind Theatre’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 13, 2016] Avi Avital

aviA few months ago I wrote about Avi Avtal’s Tiny Desk concert.  I had never heard of him, but his mandolin playing was amazing.  And then about three days later I saw that he was going to be playing in Princeton.  Well, I immediately got tickets.

And today we saw him and he was even more amazing in person.

In the Tiny Desk show, he played solo.  But in this show (and tour) he played with two people accompanying him: Ksenija Sidorova on accordion and Itamar Doari on percussion.

The only complaint I had about the show was that there was no progamme, so I had to look up everything online to know what we had just seen.  Fortunately I was able to find a setlist, because I never would have remembered what he told us.

Anyhow, in this show, titled Between Worlds Avital and company explore the borders between folk and classical music.  What that means is that they play music from classical composers, but also some very traditional folks songs from around the world.

Mandolin doesn’t seem like the instrument of choice for classical music, but Avital, who has been playing since he was little is amazing at the instrument–playing incredibly fast and clear and managing all of those Bach notes like nobody’s business. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 19, 2015] Zoyka’s Apartment

zoykaI was offered free tickets to this show.  I read a brief review, saw the word “farce” and decided it would be fun to go to it.

This play was written by Mikhail Bulgakov, an author I’ve heard of but know little about.  Turns out that all of his plays were banned by the Soviet government.  Including this one, even though it was not an anti-Soviet play.  After the banishment, he wrote to Stalin requesting permission to emigrate, but was denied.

As this play opens, there is a lectern at which an announcer reads a 1990 review of the play by Frank Rich in the New York Times (which you can read here).  Perhaps the most fascinating thing that I heard from the review was this:

Boris A. Morozov’s production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s ”Zoya’s Apartment” at the Circle in the Square. Mr. Morozov is resident director of the Maly Theater in Moscow. His New York cast is headed by such actors as Bronson Pinchot.

Since Pinchot is my new favorite audio book reader, I immediately paid attention. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 4, 2014] Black 47

b47logo I was a fan of Black 47 when they first came out (even though my Irish friends dismissed them out of hand.  What with the “Bridie!” and the “Fiddlee diddlee deidely dee!” and, yeah, Larry Kirwan’s voice, they were just too much for actual Irishmen.  But Irish-Americans loved them.  And now 25 years after they burst onto the scene with “Funky Cieli,” they are calling it quits.

As far as I can tell Kirwan is the only original member left in the band (I’m not inclined to do the research on that).  Actually, I didn’t even realize they were still together.  But they have been releasing albums over the years–some of which have been lauded and other not so much.  (Kirwan has also published some books and is a host on Sirius FM).  They have a brand new going-away album called Last Call, and if the live versions of the songs were any indication, they sound quite good.  And Kirwan is just as political as ever: “If you’re Irish you have to be political.”

I actually saw Black 47 back in, oh, 1993.  I remembered the show, but had misremembered the venue.  It wasn’t a concert, it was a small club in Allston, Mass.  I don’t seem to have any photos.  The bar was packed, I could barely see the band, and I’m not even sure if the people there were there to see the band.  I don’t even know if there was a cover charge.  So it only seems fitting that this concert, one of their last on their farewell tour, should also be free.  As part of the Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies, the band played a free 90 minute set in the tiny Berlind Theater.

I have seen a few theater shows there, so I was a little surprised that the sound wasn’t great (well, mostly Kirwan’s lyrics were hard to understand, but that may be a common problem for him), but my seat was great–a few rows back in dead center. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2013] Much Ado About Nothing

much adoDespite all of my reading, I am fairly ignorant of Shakespeare. I’ve read or seen most of the big ones, but I don’t know a lot of his works first hand.  As a young reader I realized that reading Shakespeare was hard—as, really, any play with dozens of characters tends to be.  It’s not easy to keep character straight when there are no descriptors about them.  So I more or less gave up on reading Shakespeare and decided I would watch him when I could.

When the Princeton University theater offered us tickets to see Much Ado About Nothing, it seemed a great opportunity to brush up.

This was a student production, and I have to complement all of the students on their wonderful performances.  They never broke characters, and their Shakespearean dialogue was flawless (as far as I know).  What I found interesting was that it took about fifteen minutes before I was absorbed in the dialogue and understood, well, about 45% of it.  Well, maybe 60%.  They did speak a little fast sometimes.

What was incredibly helpful about the dialogue was…the actors.  Duh.  But really, the language comes to life when you see people actually performing the lines (making Shakespeare’s bawdy jokes that much more bawdy).  And while some of the performances seemed almost over the top, I have little doubt that that is how it was performed back in the day—why would they go for subtle when there’s jokes about sex? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 3, 2012] Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Berlind Theater is on the back side of the McCarter Theater on Princeton University’s campus.  I’ve seen a number of shows at McCarter, but none at Berlind.  Berlind proved to be an even smaller and more intimate venue than the gorgeous McCarter.

What better place to see Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce in starring roles?  Especially when I managed to get $20 seats that were in row K.  That’s right, Row K, as in 11 rows from the stage.  All for $20 and free parking…suck it, Broadway!

Sorry, that was very unclassy.  Let me start again.

Christopher Durang wrote the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike as a kind of loving nod to Chekov’s Uncle Vanya.  The booklet that came with the play is very funny in which Durang interviews himself and gets most of the details wrong (he keeps calling it a parody of Uncle Vanya, which he explicitly states it is not).

The play is set in Bucks County, PA (just a hop skip and a jump from Princeton).  David Hyde Pierce played Vanya, an older man who lives with his sister Sonia.  Sonia, who is played by Kristine Nielsen, was adopted as a little girl.  Their parents loved Chekov and named them after the characters in Uncle Vanya.  And when thy became infirm, Vanya and Sonia stayed in their childhood home to take care of their ailing parents.  Now Vanya and Sonia are much older, unemployed and curmudgeonly.  She and Vanya have a hostile, co-dependent relationship.   (more…)

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