NEA dispatches almost $500,000 to Austin arts

The National Endowment for the Arts today announced almost $83 million in grants nationwide.

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The NEA has awarded $20,000 to Collide Arts to remount “Traffic Jam.” Contributed

Of that, $2.5 million went to Texas. Almost $1 million of that was given to the Texas Commission on the Arts to pass along to artists and arts groups statewide. In fact, of the $83 million that the NEA handed out today, almost $51 million went to its state partners like the Commission.

RELATED: Legislature cuts Texas arts funding 28 percent

Austin’s share of the NEA grants is distorted by the fact that the Texas Commission is located in the city but benefits artists statewide. Some of that will be spent here, but we don’t know yet how much.

Interestingly, the $100,000 that Austin’s Creative Action garnered was for a partnershiip with Six Square, a group that seeks to preserve and promote the historical and cultural legacy of African-American in East Austin. Six Square is a designated Texas Cultural Arts District, but the state legislature declined to fund $5 million for the more than 30 such districts statewide.

Unless I’m missing something, these are the Austin beneficiaries:

Forklift Danceworks: $40,000 (in two grants)

Austin Chamber Music Center: $20,000

Austin Classical Guitar: $55,000

Austin School District: $100,000

Big Medium: $20,000

KLRU: $10,000

Austin Cultural Arts Division: $50,000

Collide: $20,000

Conspirare: $30,000

Creative Action: $100,000

Texas Folklife: $35,000*

*UPDATE: Texas Folklife received an additional $38,000 grant for its statewide work.

Show from ‘Hamilton’ creator takes Zach Theatre to new ‘Heights’

Contributed by Kirk Tuck

Before the award-winning pop culture phenomenon that is “Hamilton,” writer/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda had already taken the Broadway world by storm with his first Tony-winning musical, “In the Heights.”

With music and lyrics by Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, the show tells the story of a group of diverse, multicultural neighbors living and working on the same block in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. What the show was most notable for, though, was its mix of musical styles — hip-hop, salsa, meringue — to create a sound that was new to the Broadway stage, a sound that Miranda would later expand even further with “Hamilton.”

Thanks in part to the success of “Hamilton,” “In the Heights” has had a popular resurgence at regional theaters, and Austin’s Zach Theatre has just mounted its own production, running through July 2. To make sure their version stays in keeping with the energy of the show’s Broadway run, Zach has brought in director/choreographer Michael Balderrama, who was a cast member in that original run and served as the resident director/choreographer for its national tour. Zach and Balderrama even utilize scenic designer Anna Louizos’ original set, which cleverly re-creates the various storefronts and apartments of an entire Manhattan block without overcrowding the stage.

RELATED: How you can get tickets to see “Hamilton” in Austin

It’s very clear from watching this production of “In the Heights” that the director is a choreographer, as the characters’ movements and dances reveal as much of their inner life as the script and lyrics do. Hudes’ book is, in some ways, the weakest part of the show, as it hews to highly traditional notions of family and community, and so the added layer of characterization embedded within the choreography makes for a stronger presentation of the musical as a whole.

Of course, inventive, engaging choreography and a dynamic score mixing a variety of musical styles can’t succeed without a cast that can pull them off, and the cast of “In the Heights” — mixing local talent with performers from out of town (some of whom have been a part of the show’s national tour) — keeps the show’s energy running high from beginning to end.

Keith Contreras-McDonald is given the difficult task of re-creating Usnavi, a role made famous by Miranda himself, and he pulls it off with boyish charm and innocence, particularly in his relationships with his younger cousin Sonny (Nicolas Garza) and love interest Vanessa (Alicia Taylor Tomasko). As another pair of young lovers, Benny and Nina, Vincent J. Hooper and Cristina Oeschger steal the show with a mixture of chemistry and earnestness that lets us see their inner workings throughout the course of the evolving plot.

“In the Heights” is a triumph for Zach Theatre, a production that brings energy and vitality to their stage thanks to text and sound that resonate with contemporary audiences. Though ultimately telling something of a small, intimate story of love and family/community devotion, the sheer vibrancy of the show’s music demands a large-scale, vibrant production, which Zach and Balderrama deliver with energy and skill.

“In the Heights”
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through July 2
Where: Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd.
Cost: $29-$81
Information: zachtheatre.org

 

 

Feminism, comedy and the Reign of Terror meet in ‘The Revolutionists’

“The Revolutionists” looks at larger themes of women’s rights and revolution through the relationships of four women. Contributed by by Errich Petersen

Given today’s political climate, it is easy to draw parallels between various historical dramas and the current state of America. Portrayals of turbulent periods in history have much to say about the repetition of the past in the present, and Austin’s theater companies are not shying away from material that can easily be interpolated within a contemporary context.

Such is the case with Shrewd Productions’ “The Revolutionists,” playing at the Santa Cruz Center for Culture through June 25. Written by Lauren Gunderson and originally produced in 2015, the black comedy about four women in the French Revolution speaks to issues of women’s rights that remain unresolved today.

Director Rudy Ramirez neither shies away from nor leans into the comparisons between the French Reign of Terror and today’s America but rather allows the text to seduce audience members into reaching those conclusions on their own. Gunderson’s play does this through a variety of tried-and-true theatrical tricks, including high comedy, bleak drama and dream-like reverie. As a text it’s somewhat hard to pin down, with a light, comedic, almost sitcom-esque first act (which feels like it could be cut down a bit) and a brutal, moving second act featuring key moments of beautiful and simple theatricality.

Fortunately, Ramirez and his talented quartet of actresses are able to mine the somewhat uneven text for its moments of both great wit and moving tragedy. Sarah Marie Curry, as playwright Olympe De Gouge, provides the heart of the production, as well as the most extreme emotional transition, as she begins to watch what little power and privilege she holds disappear among the corruption of the Reign of Terror. Her friend Marianne Angelle, an activist for Caribbean freedom from French occupation, is presented with a steady intellectual bent by Valoneecia Tolbert, the conscience of the play. Gricelda Silva, as assassin Charlotte Corday, brings in an element of in-your-face punk rock attitude, while Shannon Grounds’ oblivious-yet-likable Marie Antoinette provides reams of comic relief undergirded by a strong sense of personal tragedy.

The show’s creative team (set designer Chris Conard, lighting designer Patrick Anthony and sound designer David DeMaris) wisely sticks to a rather minimalist aesthetic, allowing the text and the performances to hold sway. The one exception is Jennifer Rose Davis’ gorgeous costumes, which provide the period-placement for the action while simultaneously evoking the central characters of each of the women.

Though dealing with large themes — the rights of women, the excesses of revolution, the fortitude to outlast corrupt regimes — “The Revolutionists” is an intimate play, dealing with the relationships of the four women and the emotional toll that these issues take on them. Shrewd Productions’ mounting of the show focuses intently on this intimacy, creating a dark, funny and moving tribute to the long, ongoing history of the fight for women’s rights.

“The Revolutionists”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through June 25, with additional performance 8 p.m. June 19
Where: Santa Cruz Studio Theater, 1805 E. Seventh St.
Cost: $15-$37.50
Information: revolutionists.brownpapertickets.com.

 

Scope out UT’s fabulous ‘Collections’ as it goes free and digital

One of the most beautiful and compelling books to come out of Austin in many a year is “The Collections,” an encyclopedic account of the 170 million artifacts preserved by the University of Texas.

It’s a big one. The doorstop, released in January 2016, comes in at 720 oversized pages. I’ve browsed through it incessantly and have cooked up some tasty stories from its contents, derived from more than 80 collections of art and artifacts over a wide range of subjects.

Wonder of wonders: It’s now available for free digitally.

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If you prefer the hard copy, the list price is $125.

RELATED: ‘Collections’ highlights unusual and historic objets held at UT.

“This is the first time a publication of this kind has been produced by a public university,” said Andrée Bober, the book’s editor and director of the university’s public art program, Landmarks. “By making it available for free and online, we are putting the collection before a greater public. It’s our hope that this digital edition will increase awareness of these materials and inspire other universities to make their collections known.”

Bober conceived this survey and organized more than 350 individuals to lend their expertise. She’s an enormous asset to the university, to say the least.

Zach Theatre actor joins the Brotherhood of Barbra Streisand in NYC

What do you get as a gift for playwright Jonathan Tolins, who wrote the comic solo turn, “Buyer and Cellar,” to toast his honors at the Drama Desk Awards earlier this week?

Zach Theatre sent the star of its staging, J. Robert Moore, to New York to help surprise Tolins with as many actors as could be found who have played Alex, the show’s pivotal character, around the country.

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At the Drama Desk Awards, actors from around the country who have played Alex in ‘Buyer and Cellar’ surprised its playwright Jonathan Tolins. Among them was Zach Theatre performer J. Robert Moore, fourth from the left, who stands next to the playwright, third from left. Contributed

The character staffs a shopping mall that Barbra Streisand has created in her basement to store her collections of antiques, dolls, clothing and so forth. It’s more complicated than that, but you get the picture.

REVIEW: Zach Theatre’s “Buyer and Cellar” gabs about Babs.

Among the familiar actors who have played Alex is Michael Urie, best known for his portrayal of Marc St. James on “Ugly Betty.” Social tidbit from the awards show: Moore says Urie is amazingly warm.

“How funny to perform in a show completely alone, and then to suddenly become a part of a family of actors who have all done the same show across the country,” Moore writes. “It was thrilling for a musical theater kid like me to see some of Broadway’s legends at the awards, and to actually speak with them at the after party! We are calling our group: ‘The Brotherhood of Barbra.’ I hope she approves!”

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J. Robert Moore with Michael Urie at the Drama Desk Awards. Contributed

UPDATE: The last name of Jonathan Tolins has been updated.

The warm, loving, slightly boozy embrace of the Austin Critics Table Awards

The Austin Critics Table Awards ceremony was long. Very long. A record four hours at Cap City Comedy Club.

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Yet the 25th anniversary celebration of all things arts might have been the best one ever. Because every minute was a warm, loving, slightly boozy embrace between artists and the writers who cover them.

I loved every tribute from the critics and (almost) every enthusiastic and authentic acceptance speech. (Why do some people choose a moment of honor to be mean?) Bonus: a witty proclamation from Austin Mayor Steve Adler for the occasion

RELATED: Behold: The Austin Critics Table Awards nominees

Some people — well, a lot of people — left early. But then they missed the best acceptance speech of the evening, given by Christine Hoang, who shared the David Mark Cohen New Play Award with Lisa Thompson, and who talked about how each word from her reviews reduced her “imposter anxiety,” and whose bilingual play, “A Girl Named Sue,” represented a social and cultural leap for the descendants of Vietnamese refugees and their families.

The big news, however, was the expansion of the Critics Table to 20 members including web-based writers, a move I’ve strongly supported for years. The Table began with just five of us newspapermen, sole survivor Robert Faires reminded us — I no longer vote — and over the years has included more than 50 writers.

AUSTIN CRITCS TABLE AWARDS 2016-2017

W.H. “Deacon” Crain Award for Student Work: Madison Williams, Emily Ott

Lighting Design: Jason Amato (“Atlantis: A Puppet Opera”), Patrick Anthony (“A Perfect Robot,” “Old Times”)

Group Gallery Exhibition: “The First Horizons of Juno: Christina Coleman, Jane Hugentober, Candice Lin, Karen Lofgren, Christine Rebet, Alice Wang and Chantal Wnuk,” Mass Gallery

Museum Exhibition: “Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser,” Blanton Museum of Art

Singer: Donnie Ray Albert (“The Manchurian Candidate,” “I Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes”), Liz Cass (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance”), David Adam Moore (“The Manchurian Candidate”), Paul Sanchez (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” “A Christmas Carol”)

Chamber Performance: “I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes,” Living Paper Song Project

Original Composition/Score: “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” Graham Reynolds & Lagartijas Tirades al Sol

Scenic Design: Chris Conard (“Totalitarians,” “The Drowning Girls”), Desiderio Roybal (“Clybourn Park,” “The Price,” “The Herd”)

Short Work, Dance: “Camille: A Story of Art and Love,” Jennifer Hart

Solo Gallery Exhibition: “Tammie Rubin: Before I Knew You, I Missed You,” De Stijl Podium for Art

Artist: Deborah Roberts

Costume Design: Susan Branch Towne (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”)

Dancer: Alexa Caparedo (“Tikling(bird),” “Loose Gravel”), Amy Morrow (“Hiraeth,” “We’ve Been Here Before”)

Ensemble Dance: Dance Repertory Theatre (“Momentum”)

Gallery, Body of Work: “Museum of Human Achievement”

Independent Project: “Workout with Erica Nix,” Erica Nix

Ensemble, Classical: Schumann Chamber Players

Classical Concert/Opera: “The Manchurian Candidate,” Austin Opera

Sound Design: Lowell Bartholomee, “Clybourne Park,” “Fahrenheit 451”

Direction: Jenny Lavery (“The Drowning Girls”), Lily Wolff (“Lungs”)

Dance Concert: “Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees,” Sharon Marroquin, produced by Latino Art Residency Project, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

Choreographer: Lisa Nicks, “Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter”

Digital Design: Greg Emetaz, “The Manchurian Candidate”

David Mark Cohen New Play Award: “A Girl Named Sue” (Christine Hoang), “Underground” (Lisa Thompson)

Ensemble, Theater: “Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe,” Doctuh Mistah Productions

Actor: Liz Beckham (“Lungs,” Neva,” “Clybourne Park), Chase Brewer (“Hand to God”), Michael Joplin (“Lungs”), Amber Quick (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Herd”)

Production, Theater: Clybourne Park (Penfold Theatre), “The Drowning Girls” (Theatre en Bloc), “The Great Society (Zach Theatre)

Special Citations: Luis Armando Ortiz Gutierrez, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Andrea Ariel, Babs George, “Rambunctious,” Jennifer Sherburn for “11:11,” Theatre Synesthesia, Sandy Yamamoto, Thr3e Zisters,” Amy Downing.

Austin Arts Hall of Fame: Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith, Zell Miller III, Kate Warren

UPDATE: Thanks to Robert Faires for correcting some embarrassing typos in names banged out quickly this morning.

‘Scheherazade’ is timely and necessary piece of political theater

Contributed by Errich Petersen

According to their website, Austin’s Generic Ensemble Company “makes the invisible visible through bold, socially relevant, body-centered theatre.” In the past, this has included works like “Robin Hood: An Elegy” and “The Mikado: Reclaimed” that have focused on loosely adapting classic texts into contemporary, collaboratively devised works that tell the infrequently heard stories of people of color in today’s America.

Now, the company has done it again with “Scheherazade,” playing through June 17 at the Vortex Theatre. The show, directed by kt shorb with a script devised by the entire ensemble (compiled and edited by Annie Kim Hedrick and Leena Warsi), updates the storytelling conceit of “The Arabian Nights” to explore one woman’s experience of being Muslim and queer in a world hostile to both of those identities.

The framing story of “Scheherazade” follows Leila Suleman (played by Laura J. Khalil) as she attempts to re-enter the United States after having spent time abroad in the Middle East searching for her best friend Yousef (Donnesh Amrollah), who has either been forced to go into hiding or been killed over his homosexuality. At the airport, she comes up against racist Department of Homeland Security agent Ginny Wight (Laura Baggs), who is obsessed with catching a terrorist.

Contributed by Errich Petersen

The interactions between Leila and Wight are counterpoised against a variety of flashbacks, showing both a mythologized vision of Leila’s childhood with Yousef and Wight’s intense, pop culture-infused fantasy of becoming a hero through stopping a terrorist plot in the course of her job. These scenes intentionally play off one another, showcasing the role that our own fantasies and self-created narratives play in our lives and interactions, both for good and ill. The moments of memory and fantasy also allow for various explorations of theatrical possibility, from dance to symbolism to agitprop.

Austin theater, as a microcosm of American theater in general, can often rightly be accused of being overwhelmingly white, which is what makes GenEnCo’s work, both in “Scheherazade” and more generally, so important and so overwhelmingly vital to our community. The cast, the majority of whom are actors of color, are clearly speaking from their own experiences with pain and trauma, which creates a visceral connection that overcomes some of the actors’ less technically adapt performances. There is, ultimately, passionate, painful truth in this art that creates the beating heart of the production.

“Scheherazade” is political theater at its most raw and most direct, giving a voice to a marginalized group of creators who revel in the chance to tell their own story, a story that demands to be heard.

‘Scheherazade’
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday through June 17
Where: 2307 Manor Road
Cost: $15-$35
Information: 512-478-5282, vortexrep.org

 

 

Austin Playhouse’s ‘Guys and Dolls’ is a living cartoon, and that’s a good thing

Contributed by Austin Playhouse

Capping off an eclectic season of classic works, regional premieres and whimsical farces, Austin Playhouse’s new production of “Guys and Dolls” brings the stage musical to life with energy and color.

Based on the short stories of Damon Runyan, “Guys and Dolls” tells the story of two gamblers, Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson, and the women they fall for, Miss Adelaide and Sarah Brown, among a New York filled with colorful criminals, driven missionaries and chorus girls. With a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, it’s a light-hearted romantic comedy in the classic Broadway vein.

Austin Playhouse’s production, directed by Don Toner with musical direction by Susan Finnigan, emphasizes the good-natured humanity underneath the wise guy patter by turning “Guys and Dolls” into something of a living cartoon. With colorful, vibrant costumes designed by Diana Huckaby — from loud, ill-fitting suits to burlesque chorus girl outfits — the large cast comes to bouncy life on the busy streets, and sewers, of a nostalgic New York City that never quite actually existed.

Adding to this cartoonish nature, the cast gleefully ham up the broad strokes of their characters, with outrageous physicality and delightful vocalizations. Boni Hester’s Adelaide fits particularly well within this outsized, chaotic world, her mixture of ditziness and rage melding to form a delightful comedic foil to Steve Shearer’s hectic and harried Nathan Detroit. Jarret Million as Sky Masterson and Sarah Fleming Walker’s Sarah Brown, on the other hand, give the show a more grounded, romantic center that prevents the production from teetering over completely into farce.

However, it is in the more farcical moments that this production is at its strongest. Scott Shipman brings down the house as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, especially when it comes to “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat,” the show’s big 11 o’clock number. Paired with Kyle G. Stephens’ Benny Southstreet, the two tall, gangly actors bring a vaudevillian flair to their scenes that engenders some of the biggest laughs.

In 2017, “Guys and Dolls” doesn’t particularly have anything pointed to say about our contemporary world, and the show’s outdated gender and relationship politics can get in the way of its universal emotional truths. However, as Toner and the rest of the Austin Playhouse crew realize, that can be the show’s strength, by creating a fun, frantic and frolicsome romp that provides some much-needed escapism into a time gone by (that perhaps never actually was).

‘GUYS AND DOLLS’
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday through June 25
Where: Austin Playhouse, 6001 Airport Blvd.
Cost: $42-$46
Information: 512-476-0084, austinplayhouse.com.

Bawdy humor, Shakespeare and Broadway glitz – ‘Something Rotten!’ has it all

Adam Pascal, center, plays Shakespeare in “Something Rotten!,” which comes to Bass Concert Hall May 30-June 4 as part of Broadway in Austin. Contributed by Jeremy Daniel

There have been quite a few attempts to turn Shakespearean plays into musicals over the years, with varying degrees of success, but it’s far less frequent to find a musical that features Shakespeare as a character, let alone the villain.

Welcome to the world of “Something Rotten!,” the 2015 musical that tells the story of the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, as they attempt to stage the world’s first musical in order to compete with their rival, rock star playwright William Shakespeare. After a successful, Tony-nominated run, the national tour comes to Austin this week, thanks to Broadway in Austin and Texas Performing Arts, and will be playing through June 4 at Bass Concert Hall.

“Something Rotten!,” with a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, and directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, displays a mix of various influences, from Disney animation to envelope-pushing musicals like “The Producers” and “The Book of Mormon.” Karey Kirkpatrick, in fact, began his career at Disney Animation, while Nicholaw was co-director of “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. (Read more about the “Something Rotten” origin story.)

Set against a fairy tale-esque interpretation of Elizabethan England (brought to vivid life by Scott Pask’s cartoon-influenced scenic design), the show features a panoply of references and homages to the history of musical theater, alongside broad, ribald, deliberately offensive humor of the kind found more recently on the Broadway stage.

Part of the plot revolves around contrasting splashy, empty, meaningless musicals against art that comes directly from the heart — yet the show unfortunately chooses to embrace the former over the latter at every opportunity.

Fortunately, the very human and surprisingly nuanced performances in the production redeem it from the cynically conflicting messages of the text. Rob McClure, as Nick, plays the Zero Mostel-like lead whose own conniving threatens to undo him, even though he means well at heart. Pierce Cassedy, as the sensitive, head-in the-clouds Nigel, bounces wonderfully off McClure’s manic energy, giving the leading duo a marvelous chemistry (that, once more, reminds one of the leading men from “The Producers”).

The supporting characters are also given many opportunities to steal the show, especially Blake Hammond as the soothsayer Nostradamus, who manages to be over-the-top (in all the right ways) in an already over-the-top production. For the character of Shakespeare, the play demands a charming conniver who can give off a rock star vibe, and Adam Pascal (“Rent”) has the perfect personal gravitas and star persona to pull that off delightfully.

Though the story and script of “Something Rotten!” often leave something to be desired, an immensely talented cast picks up the slack to help create a piece of purely enjoyable entertainment, with all the Broadway frills one could ask for.

‘SOMETHING ROTTEN!’
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Cost: $25-$125
Information: texasperformingarts.org

Update: This story was updated to correct the name of the actor who played Nigel at Tuesday’s performance.

 

‘The Effect’ is the drug you need

Contributed by Hyde Park Theatre

Director Lily Wolff’s production of Duncan Macmillan’s “Lungs” at Hyde Park Theatre last year is one of the best pieces of theater I’ve seen in Austin, and playwright Lucy Prebble’s debut play, “The Sugar Syndrome,” is one of my favorite dramas of the 21st century thus far. It was with great anticipation, then, that I looked forward to Wolff’s new production of Prebble’s 2012 play, “The Effect,” produced by Capital T Theatre.

Fortunately, “The Effect” lived up to my high expectations. In many ways this is a more complex work than either “Lungs” or “The Sugar Syndrome,” as it is both an intense character study and a meditation on the nature of self in the age of mood-altering medications. However, both Wolff and Prebble are masters at turning complex ideas into theatrical beauty.

The show’s plot imagines a five-week study of a new antidepressant wherein participants are forced to live in a compound under 24-hour supervision and undergo a series of psychological examinations and tests as their dosage is gradually increased. Connie and Tristan are two such test subjects who quickly find themselves attracted to one another but worry about whether what they feel is real or merely a side effect of the drug. Overseeing this experiment is Dr. Lorna James, a concerned psychiatrist with her own history of depression, and the corporate-focused Dr. Toby Sealey, who is more worried about the drug trial than any of its participants.

What Wolff excels at, as a director, is getting deep, nuanced, intensely moving performances from her actors, and in helping them to express their character’s emotions with unique and engaging physicality. The scenes of passion between Sarah Danko, as Connie, and Delanté Keys, as Tristan, bristle with electricity, while Rebecca Robinson’s Lorna and Rommel Suit’s Toby imbue the play’s more cerebral meditations with an emotional resonance all their own. Danko, in particular, is breathtaking, maneuvering Connie from a shy, reserved college student through various stages of mania and depression in a raw and vulnerable journey that manages to hit extremes while still remaining wholly believable.

The design team (costume designer Cheryl Painter, sound/video designer Lowell Bartholomee, lighting designer Patrick Anthony, and scenic designer/Capital T artistic director Mark Pickell) similarly recognize that the intensity of this play is seated with the performances, and they work in clockwork unison to turn what begins as a simple, sterile, doctor’s office into a world of emotional and moody settings.

“The Effect” is a complex play dealing with important contemporary issues, but at its heart it is a moving story about the ways in which love can only coexist alongside the many lies we tell ourselves and others.  Wolff and her top-notch cast, crew and creative team elevate that story to the next level, creating a show that is not to be missed.

“THE EFFECT”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through June 17
Where: Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd St.
Cost: $20-$30
Information: capitalt.org/wp