Just Do Art: Week of July 14, 2016
LESLIE ODOM JR. IN CONCERT | Having just completed his run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre as understandably bitter odd man out Aaron Burr — with a legion of fans and a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical to show for it — the charismatic and not entirely unattractive Leslie Odom Jr. claims his rightful place as a main attraction, by turning The McKittrick Hotel’s Manderley Bar into the room where it happens. This strictly limited concert residency features material from Odom’s self-titled 10-track debut solo album, which finds him applying to jazz and musical theater classics the same knack for navigation and nuance he brought to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rat-a-tat-tat “Hamilton” lyrics.
Smartly surrounding himself with high-caliber talent given ample room to shine, the sharp arrangements and deft instrumental execution of such tunes as “I Know That You Know” and “Look for the Silver Lining” serve to heighten the effect of Odom’s engaging and textured vocals, while providing him with a welcome new forum for grafting his contemporary sensibilities onto source material from days gone by. In keeping with that spirit, don’t be surprised if a selection from his recent Broadway gig makes it into the setlist, alongside throwback interpretations of today’s pop hits and a collaboration or two with special, unannounced guests.
NOTE: This run is currently sold out. To be put on the (already long) waiting list, call 212-904-1880. Thursday, July 14, 21, 28 at the Manderley Bar (inside the McKittrick Hotel; 542 W. 27th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Doors open at 11pm, show at 11:30pm. Tickets ($45) at events.mckittrickhotel.com/lesliemanderley.
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT | Wide swaths of concrete are to this troupe’s annual outdoor productions as ice floes are to the polar bear — rapidly disappearing territory upon which survival depends. Undaunted by 2014’s loss of the Ludlow & Broome location that served as its home for two decades, The Drilling Company’s “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” program marks season number two in a space behind The Clemente.
Performed with grace and grit amidst all of the audible distractions and unplanned interactions the city can throw at them, director Kathy Curtiss’ adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” tells the tale of forest magic and mistaken identity by casting its classic characters as outrageously garbed artists prone to playing tricks; upscale urbanites whose money can’t buy them love; and tech sector workers who long to create. During a post-solstice visit to the Lower East Side (aka Shakespeare’s magic forest), all involved must sort through spells, misunderstandings, and subconscious desires.
Free. Through July 24, Thurs.–Sun. at 8pm, in the parking lot behind The Clemente (114 Norfolk St., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). Audiences are welcome to bring their own chairs (otherwise, blankets will be provided). Following “Midsummer,” July 28–Aug. 4 sees “The Merchant of Venice” at the same location. For more info, including productions in Bryant Park, visit shakespeareintheparkinglot.com.
NEW OHIO THEATRE’S ICE FACTORY 2016 | As brisk and biting as its name implies, this annual summer festival of new work occupies the polar opposite end of the risk-averse spectrum. Through July 16, “The Annotated History of the American Muskrat” is Foxy Henriques and Circuit Theatre’s music video, dance, PowerPoint, and snack-filled handling of gloriously Hatter-mad Boston-based playwright John Kuntz’s patchwork quilt exploration of our national identity — as told through the struggle of eight people tasked with giving a presentation about the titular native North American rodent. July 20–23, the title of performance ensemble Hook & Eye’s “She-She-She” references the 1930s women’s forest work camps championed by Eleanor Roosevelt as a response to the Civilian Conservation Corps. “Bear Mountain on a serving platter” (via visual and scenic design by Susan Zeeman Rogers) is the production value promise of this queer women’s love story, which employs the poetry of civil rights activist Pauli Murray to tell its epoch-spanning exploration of gender, memory, and history.
July 27–30, live event collective Piehole’s new collaborative effort sticks the landing in a traditional theater, having launched past productions in hotel rooms and galleries. Taking place in an abandoned ski shop located at the very center of our universe, “Ski End” finds a group of adults swimming in a swirling cosmic cycle of nostalgia, delusion, and every element of the titular sport. Aug. 3–6, Eliza Bent’s Bentertainment production entity furthers the playwright/author’s penchant for wordplay and philosophy with “On a Clear Day I Can See to Elba” — in which a man and a woman work on their romantic relationship while struggling to retain their own identity. Generous portions of wine, puns, and the music of Queen help the process along.
The festival concludes Aug. 10–13, with “Our Voices Project,” from playwright Charles Mee and the multicultural Our Voices theater company. Sign language, music, and dance are deployed to probe the inner life of James Castle — who created over 20,000 works of art, despite the fact that he was born deaf and never learned to read, write, sign or speak.
Through Aug. 13, at the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St., btw. Washington & Greenwich Sts.). All performances at 7pm. For tickets ($18; $15 for students, seniors), call 866-811-411 or visit newohiotheatre.org.
—BY SCOTT STIFFLER