Theatrical Wonders in Intimate Spaces

Over the weekend, I saw three excellent performances in three cozy venues, proving that to enjoy the arts in New York one doesn't need to go to a Broadway theater (defined as a professional hall with 500 or more seats in the Theatrical District and Lincoln Center along Broadway in midtown Manhattan). Don't misunderstand, I love Broadway, but these other spaces are much smaller, allowing for more exhilarating experiences for audiences. One was a Shakespeare adaptation, another was a children's show, and the third was a one-of-a-kind re-enactment of a late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century conjuring room visit. All were thrilling in their own way.


Julius Caesar
The Red Monkey Theater Group has done it again, taking one of William Shakespeare's classics and presenting a bold, fresh interpretation of it. With a cast of only eight actors (Julie Thaxter-Gourlay, Tal Aviezer, Matt Gordon, Kelly Kirby, Holland Renton, Zoey Rutherford, Sandra Ehrlich, and Sean Leigh), the political power struggle feels as relevant as ever. Being so close to the action, (the familiar drama is played out on a thrust stage with limited seating on three sides), I felt as if I was part of the crowd during Marc Antony's legendary speech, as his words tugged at heartstrings and provoked passions, turning sympathy to grief and then to rage as the Roman citizens are stoked into a vengeance-seeking mob. It's worth a trip to Riverdale to see the show in the charming Cahill Theater, located on the gorgeous campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The show continues on April 8, 9, 10, 15, and 16, 2016, (Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.). Visit www.redmonkeytheater.org for tickets.



The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
Eric Carle's beloved children's books come to life at the 47th Street Theater. My six-year-old daughter and my three-year-old son had smiles on their faces from beginning to end as the actors (Ariel Lauryn, Kayla Prestel, Jake Bazel, Weston Long, and Mindy Leanse) moved 75 larger-than-life puppets around the set, which transforms from a bare canvas to a colorful diorama of delightful vignettes from the pages of the best-selling A Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, and my personal favorite The Very Lonely Firefly. The show (which also has performances in Australia and will soon be produced in the United Kingdom) will run in New York until April 17, 2016. For tickets, visit www.hungrycaterpillar.com.


A Magicienne Among the Spirits
I first learned of this amazing show from a New York Times article back in January and positive word of mouth from others who had seen it, and I feel so lucky to have finally experienced it this past Sunday with my wife and sister-in-law. Belinda Sinclair lives up to the hype as "the best female magician in the world." It's a wonderful, magical, and inspirational show. I highly recommend it if you like illusions, slight-of-hand magic, and intriguing storytelling about the history of female magicians in Hell's Kitchen. If you're looking for an intimate "only in New York" adventure, this one (in a small but perfect "Conjuring Room miracle parlor" within walking distance of Times Square) can't be beat. Tickets are available at BrownPaperTickets.com, get them while you can before it disappears, because she's already working on her next show.

These are just three of many little theatrical gems out there waiting to be discovered.

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