Groundhog predicts six more weeks of Downtown theater

[media-credit name=”Photo by Joan Marcus ” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]
F. Murray Abraham (left) and Andy Phelan, in the Classic Stage Company production of Bertolt Brecht’s “Galileo.”

FRIGID returns to Horse Trade, as Vampire Cowboys move on up


It seems the groundhog left his hidey-hole, saw his shadow — and ran back into a Downtown theatre. The artists he encountered were so open and welcoming, they didn’t even mind performing their show for a fat little rodent! What’s that? You didn’t hear that on the weather report? That’s why we call it a “scoop,” people!

Here’s some more terrific news: F. Murray Abraham will play the title role in a production of Bertolt Brecht’s “Galileo” at Classic Stage Company (CSC). I once had the honor of meeting “F.” after a performance he gave in Turgenev’s “A Month in the Country” (at the Roundabout). Praise, he would not take — it was a litany of beating himself up about the imaginary imperfections in his terrific performance. He is one of our great actors, so I know he’ll be both funny and tragic in the part of this weak-willed scientific hero (just as Brecht’s original American collaborator Charles Laughton must have been. It’ll be up at CSC through March 11. Find more info at classicstage.org.

Also promising: “The Ugly One,” which is opening at Soho Rep February 1. This is the New York premiere of German playwright Marius von Mayenburg’s absurdist play about a man who discovers that he is unspeakably ugly, thanks to the thoughtful help of his boss, who won’t allow him to make a company presentation at a convention. Then, when the guy gets plastic surgery, his male colleagues all like his new look so much, they all go to his doctor and get the same face! It’s funny because it’s true. The play has already been done in 30 countries. Needless to say, advance word is very positive. For info and tickets, go to sohorep.org.

Here’s a little news bulletin for fans of the Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company. Having just closed a successful run of their show “She Kills Monsters” at the Flea, they now announce a revival of their recent hit “The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G” at Theatre Row’s Beckett Theatre. You may recall our earlier account in these pages when that play (about a young man’s search for his roots in Vietnam) debuted at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. Now it’s being kicked upstairs to an Off-Broadway production where the company’s unique Molotov cocktail of humor and martial arts are likely to take a lot of people by surprise. I wish them well. This is a cultural moment that must be watched. The run is through March 4. For tickets and information, go to vampirecowboys.com.

If you are a lover and not a fighter, a few savvy companies are mounting (forgive me) some productions that are calculated to take advantage of the Valentine’s season. “An Evening of Awkward Romance” is Wendy Herlich’s offbeat comedy in which two actors (one of whom is the author) portray a wide assortment of oddball characters trying to find love. It’s playing at the Tank from February 11-26. For more info, see thetanknyc.org. Meanwhile, the Canal Park Playhouse will be reviving “Perfect Catch: A Throwmantic Comedy” (first presented at that new-ish venue a few months ago). The show promises to use the art of juggling to tell the story of an office romance. It is being resuscitated for two shows only, February 11 and 12. More details at canalparkplayhouse.com. And then there’s always “Love N’ Courage” — Theater for the New City’s annual Valentine’s-themed benefit, held on February 13 at the National Arts Club. This year’s ceremony honors 100-year-old Bel Kaufman, author of “Up the Down Staircase” (who last year became the oldest professor in the country). Taking a turn at the mike to perform and pay their respects will be a bevy of showfolk including Elaine Stritch, Tammy Grimes, Phoebe Legere, and, just to switch it up some, the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers. For more info, go to theaterforthenewcity.net.

If you are, like me, much interested in the Roma culture (formerly known as the Gypsies), then you may want to check out “I Killed My Mother,” playing at La MaMa February 10 through March 4. Set in Romania during the bloody rule of Nicolae Ceausescu, András Visky’s play is based on the true story of a girl who is abandoned by her mother at birth and learns to make it on her own as an orphan. A special talkback organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute will follow the February 15 performance. More info at lamama.org.

February 18, don’t miss “The Anna Copa Cabanna Show: Love in Space” (at Joe’s Pub). Ms. Copa Cabanna is a faux Australian singer-songwriter, go-go dancer, roller skater and xylophone player. That sounds like an entire show by itself — but she is backed by an outfit called The Anna Copa Cabanna Dancers, and we’re promised that people of all genders will be wearing unitards. Look for me in the front row! Tickets and information can be arranged at joespub.com.

From February 22 through March 4, the Horse Trade Theater Group will be presenting its annual FRIGID New York Festival. An order of magnitude smaller than Fringe, and apparently scheduled so that audiences will freeze rather than swelter, FRIGID is always curated smartly, with a high percentage of non-turkeys to its credit. There are 30 shows in this year’s fest. My picks include: “The Rope in Your Hands,” Siobhan O’Loughlin’s interview-based solo show featuring survival stories of victims of Hurricane Katrina; the clown piece “Little Lady,” by Sandrine Lafond (a former performer with Cirque du Soleil and back-up dancer for Celine Dion); “Stripper Lesbians,” a comedy about “what it means to be in love with a stripper”; and “Scratch and Pitz: Burlesque Variety Hour,” featuring well-known burlesque host and comic actress Cyndi Freeman (a.k.a “Cherry Pitz”) and her comedy partner Brad Lawrence. As you can see, I was only able to keep it classy for one or two shows — but for me that’s not a bad record. Anyway there’s over two dozen more to choose from. You can learn about them all at frigidnewyork.info.

See you next month, if the creek don’t freeze!