Archive for March, 2008

Music in the Middle

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I know we’re living in Internet time, but this pic goes all the way back to last weekend (I know, shocking), at the John Scarpulla recording session at Tom White‘s studio in Middleburgh, near Cobleskill, NY, in the Catskills region. That’s John with the guitar, and you can see me on the right through the glass, looking intently at his fingers to make sure I’m playing the right note.
Scarpulla Sessions

I’ve been in a lot of recording studios, but this was probably the first one with horses outside. Here’s one of Tom’s beauties.
Horse at Tom White's Place

Cobleskill’s a nice upstate town with a pretty happening arts community (and some really nice Victorian houses).
Cobleskill House

On the way back to the city, we stopped at this other little house, which is also kind of nice. (For scale, note the tiny figure of Elisa in the white hat, lower left.)
Olana

Back in the Apple, Soul of the Blues featured Carol Thomas, in her first real gig after having her baby, and (pictured) Speedo’s Billy Rose Band.
Speedo's Billy Rose Band at Soul of the Blues, Cornelia Street Cafe

Meanwhile the Kings County Blues Band played what was probably its last gig at the Baggot Inn, which is sadly slated to close. Here’s me on bass, with Jeremy Kaplan on drums and Allan Spielman on keyboards. I’ve been hanging out at the Baggot Inn since the 80s, when it was the Sun Mountain Cafe. It was the first place I got regular gigs after I moved back to New York post-college. A dive then, it’s since had a great makeover and has lately been one of the nicest live-music watering holes in the city. Very sorry to see it go.
Kings County Blues Band at the Baggot Inn

Theater Review (NYC): Almost An Evening by Ethan Coen, with F. Murray Abraham and Mark Linn-Baker

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Big names go a long way. Multiple-Oscar winner Ethan Coen is so big right now, especially after No Country for Old Men, that success has seemed almost a foregone conclusion for his Off-Broadway debut as a playwright. (Foregone in New York, anyway, where we especially love our Coen Brothers for living here and not in Hollywood.) With F. Murray Abraham and Mark Linn-Baker heading up the cast, the play would have had to have been quite bad to fail.

Almost an Evening is a triptych of short, funny plays that deal with deep matters in a consciously shallow manner. Together they constitute an enjoyable but very slight "almost evening" of theater that, without the big names attached, probably wouldn't have had the legs to move from its original Atlantic Theater Company home to its new, larger Bleecker Street home.

In Waiting, a nebbish-everyman (Joey Slotnick) waits, and waits, through a comic version of a bureaucratic nightmare. Slow-paced, it feels like a 78-rpm Monty Python sketch played at 33 1/3, with a tiny plot like those old-fashioned multi-panel New Yorker cartoons.

In the closing play, Debate, the primal, foul-mouthed God Who Judges (Abraham) and the buttoned-up God Who Loves (Linn-Baker) "debate" sin and man's relationship to God. Mark Linn-Baker and F. Murray Abraham in Almost an Evening/Debate Absurdities ensue, some silly, some clever. Abraham's thundering Jehovah is hilarious, like George Carlin in his prime but even rougher. It's a real treat seeing these two masterful actors spar. Not much of a play, though. Which is not to imply that it claims to be. Far from it, as the later scenes make clear.

In terms of stagecraft, the middle piece, Four Benches, is the best. Unlike the other two, which play quite smoothly, it is written and directed awkwardly. It's sketchlike. A central scene is too long. J.R. Horne in Almost an Evening/Four Benches But, though funny, its humor depends less on "business" and more on character, and it has a touch of of the dark quality that pulses through the Coen Brothers' films.

It's a fairly simple story of a disenchanted British spy (the superb Tim Hopper) searching for more meaning in his life. There's a real plot involving characters with some depth. It's a truism, with an emphasis on the "true," that a character growing and changing before us is what really draws us into a drama. Or a comedy, for that matter. Even if that change is practically all that happens, theater happens.

Almost An Evening runs through June 1 at The Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street.

Photo Credits: Photos by Doug Hamilton. 1. Mark Linn-Baker and F. Murray Abraham in Debate 2. J.R. Horne in Four Benches

Artful Wand’rings

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

It hasn’t been all sitting in dark rooms reviewing CDs and plays. There’s also wandering around looking at art. Today we checked out the Pool Art Fair at the famous Chelsea Hotel. I’d never been in the Chelsea before except to see the lobby, so this was a good opportunity to wander its hallowed halls and see where the art is made. (Thanks to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York for the tip.) It was just like a neighborhood studio tour, except all in one building. Here’s Elisa dashing along a corridor, anxious to see yet more art.
Chelsea Hotel Railing

We were particularly taken with Grant Haffner’s paintings of country roads and power lines. Here’s his “Leaving Mecox.”
Grant Haffner, Leaving Mecox

This one isn’t meant to be art, but I thought it made a good photo. I call it “Stairway to Nowhere.”
Chelsea Hotel Stairs to Nowhere

Back in the lobby we fought through a crowd of French tourists to get this shot of the shiny old phonebooths. Then, faster than a speeding bullet, we zoomed out.
Chelsea Hotel Phonebooths

Music DVD Review: Tangerine Dream – Live at Coventry Cathedral 1975

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

The artful television director Tony Palmer set his video footage of Tangerine Dream's 1975 Coventry Cathedral concert to music from the band's Ricochet album, for broadcast on the BBC. Since then the video has been available in poor quality bootlegs, but now here it is in a new DVD release.

Combining psychedelic effects with the cathedral's own architectural and artistic imagery, Palmer created an extended music video for a band whose performances, at that time, consisted of expressionless manipulation of analog synthesizers. The three musicians had a seemingly uncanny ability to build on each others' sounds in a live setting to create semi-improvisatory music of a kind that we no longer hear in this all-digital age.

In 1975, analog synthesizers hadn't been compressed into digital simulators within two-dimensional, soulless-looking electronic keyboards. Rather, they were big, sometimes huge banks of patch bays and "black boxes" manually linked together to create sound effects. This video is a good opportunity to witness how such instruments were played. Most likely, no concert of this nature will ever be performed again, by anyone.

On the video, however, the musicians' actions on keyboards and knobs don't match the music. How could they? The music is from an album that had nothing directly to do with this concert (though it was recorded at around the same time). This video is neither more nor less than an extended, psychedelic music video of a very cool (and important) band. It is not, however, what a lot of TD fans – an extremely devoted bunch – were expecting. The full title is Tony Palmer's Film of Tangerine Dream Live at Coventry Cathedral 1975. Technically, that's exactly what it is. But it led many fans to think that this was actually a film of the concert, with live sound, and it's not that at all.

At 27 minutes, with no extras and $26.98 on Amazon, it's overpriced, too, no matter what you call it and however enjoyable it may be on its own terms. Even Tangerine Dream completists might want to consider renting this first, or buying a used copy.

His Highness Hollywood

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Celebrity blogger Dawn Olsen (of Glosslip) and I attended a preview of investigative journalist Ian Halperin’s new documentary, His Highness Hollywood, at the National Arts Club last night. Unfortunately a technical problem interrupted the film and we ended up settling for an earlier cut, which was still rough around the edges, but it was still quite amusing – and not just amusing, for in addition to skewering the easy target of Hollywood wannabe-stars, Halperin penetrates the scary world of Scientology.

In attendance was celebrity biographer Andrew Morton, here discussing his new Tom Cruise bio with Dawn. (Hence the Scientology connection.)

morton_olsen

Here’s Ian Halperin introducing the film:

ian_halperin

And just for fun, here’s Dawn and me in one of those trying-to-take-a-picture-of-yourself photos. Goofy charm, or just plain silly? You decide.

dawnolsen_jonsobel

Music Review: Indie Round-Up – Gordone, Rush, Blatt, Segal, VonderHaar

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Leah-Carla Gordone, Phoenix from the Ashes: Rise

Leah-Carla Gordone's folk-rock is an oasis of sincerity in a desert of irony and boastfulness. The best of her work grabs you by the gut, and this disc contains some of her best, most moving melodies to date. These melodies, together with her tension-wracked vocals, turn her best songs into whizzing worlds of twelve-string soulfulness – "Naked," "What It Feels Like," and "I Am Your Friend" are good examples.

Consistent sincerity, ironically (!), carries the danger of losing sight of the forest (art) for the trees (inspirational messages, thoughts, and feelings not focused through a creative lens). As with many confessional songwriters, Gordone cannot always control the tendency to populate lyrics with abstractions and cliches. It is frustrating to be drawn to the heartfulness of a tune and a voice, but then pushed away by a line that's so beaten down it's long since lost its cultural resonance. (A song such as "Tomorrow's Another Day" is an example.)

Fortunately, Leah-Carla Gordone has the skill and the forcefulness to elevate many of her songs into the realm of the truly, not facilely, inspirational. When this happens, it's clear that honesty really is the best policy.

Hear extended samples and purchase CD or MP3s.

Joal Rush, Imagination

Joal Rush's new seven-song EP is 21 minutes of dark-edged power pop. The darkness comes from his muted vocal quality and the seriousness of the lyrics; the power and the pop are in the densely layered guitars, keyboards, and rock rhythms. The title track is immensely catchy and "Stone" isn't far behind. "Lovely Day" starts out a little too shoegaze-y for my tastes, but it has a nice throaty instrumental break and it ended up winning me over. "Living a Lie" has a gritty, grungy '90s feel, while "Bleed" looks back to '80s synth-rock, and "You Are" is a nicely crafted 12/8 ballad. Rush's distinctive creative flavor holds it all together. This is solid stuff. Hear extended samples and purchase CD or MP3s.

Lawrence Blatt, Fibonacci's Dream

Here at the Indie Round-Up we don't cover a lot of music that would be eligible for an award from the New Age Reporter, but that just goes to show it's better to come at new music without preconceived notions. This is a lovely set of acoustic guitar instrumentals, supplemented by a variety of keyboard, bass, and percussion tracks. "New Age" or not, it's just nice music.

Blatt builds his compositions around mathematical ideas centered on the Fibonacci number sequence, but I'm actually just taking his word for that; the rhythms and melodies are pretty straightforward, and for the most part Blatt uses common guitar tunings. I found the program notes more distracting than fascinating (and pocked by disturbing misspellings, like "Bob Dillon"). Best to just stick with the music. Soothing without being boring, this would be a nice addition to one's instrumental music collection.

Hear extended samples.

Garry Segal, Taking Notes

Garry Segal applies a bit of country-rock twang to soulful, bluesy Americana tunes reminiscent of John Hiatt. Heavyweights like Jeff Pevar and the Seldom Scene's Phil Rosenthal contribute instrumentally, but it's Segal's slightly gravelly vocals and woodsy acoustic guitar that drive these well-crafted songs. "Two Broken People" sounds like a slowed-down "Tennessee Plates," and the drawling "Wrong Dogs" is also Hiatt-esque. "I Keep Drinkin'" has a more languid, jazzy, Randy Newman catch to it, while "Cartwheels" has a country-blues ease that reminds me of Little Toby Walker. "Wind Will Blow" and "Without Rain" betray a slight lyrical awkwardness that keeps the disc from perfection, but the latter has a beautiful melody, and overall the grass-rootsy world Segal creates in these seven songs is a most appealing one.

Hear extended samples and purchase CD or MP3s.

Sarah VonderHaar, Are You Listening Now

Sarah VonderHaar, a 21-year-old sometime America's Next Top Model contestant, has come out with a solid bubblegum-pop album. It's full of mostly good-natured pop-rockers along with a few emotional but still light-toned ballads, all topped by VonderHaar's sunny chirp. She co-wrote most of the songs, and according to her press package she's "a girl with a goal. She'd be happy to grab a stint on a TV show or a film, especially if she was able to play her own songs as a musician character." Wow, some people live in a completely different world from the one in which most of us toil. But if Kate Voegele can do it, why not this equally talented and attractive kid? Peppy optimism, catchy tunes, and good looks never go out of style, and why should they? Available for pre-order, or listen at Myspace.

Theater Review (NYC): A (Tooth) Fairy Tale

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

The Vital Theatre Company's A (Tooth) Fairy Tale is a charming little musical for kids, with a simple story by Ben H. Winters and credible songs by Rick Hip-Flores. Running weekends at the Soho Playhouse, it concerns a Tooth Fairy afflicted with ennui, a ten-year-old boy chafing under an excess of rules, and a daring switcheroo.

The point of the play is to entertain kids with song and dance and humorous business, and that it does. Secondarily, it provides a moral the story illustrates quite neatly, though it's delivered with a heavy hand. (Hint: it begins with "golden" and ends with "rule.") The talented, energetic cast is boisterous enough to keep the attention of the little ones (down to age four), while making the characters interesting and sympathetic enough for the bigger children (up to age twelve, as advertised, although I suspect real ‘tweens would find the show too babyish).

The story itself, it must be said, is a little lumpy. My theatergoing companion, aged eight and therefore smack in the middle of the intended age group, had some follow-up questions I couldn't answer. Either I'm not very sharp, or she had identified holes in the plot. (A bit of both, actually.)

This didn't seem to reduce her enjoyment, though, or that of the many other kids of various ages in the house. A tiny girl sitting behind me squealed in delight when Santa Claus appeared. Yes – Santa in springtime! Things really do go topsy-turvy in this tale.

It seems that by giving her magic scepter to Samuel and abdicating her tooth-collecting duties, the Fairy has screwed something up big-time in the cosmic order of things. It takes a special council of the heavies of faerydom — from Old Saint Nick and the Easter Bunny right down to the mop-headed Boogeyman — to figure out how to set things right.

The cast of seven switches adroitly between their human roles (in most cases, several each) and magical ones. Without looking at the program, it would be hard to keep track of how many actual actors were in the cast, and that's good. You're supposed to get caught up in this sort of play, lost in the world it creates. That's the most important thing, and this well-staged entertainment gets the important stuff right.

A (Tooth) Fairy Tale plays Saturdays and Sundays at noon through May 25. For reservations visit the Vital Theater online or call (212) 691-1555.

Theater Review (NYC): TBA by Carla Ching

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Carla Ching's new play, TBA, directed by Denyse Owens, is one of the central productions of Second Generation's celebration of its eleventh year. Of the production's fine qualities, first mention should go to it star, Lloyd Suh, an actor of remarkable talent, concentration, comic timing, and stamina.

Suh plays Silas Park, a Korean-American writer on the verge of major literary success. Obsessing over Maya (the excellent Michi Barall), the ex-girlfriend he still loves, Silas has withdrawn to his small East Village apartment and won't come out, even when solicited by Darren, an enthusiastic literary agent played by the droll Dustin Chinn, so hyperactive he constantly trips over his lines but so amusing you don't care.

Evoked effectively by Nick Francone's dusty-looking, dirty-window-laden set, Silas's humble but homey pad holds nearly all the action. This consists of Silas's interactions with Maya, with the agent, with his adoptive brother Finn (the solid J. Julian Christopher), and with Maxie, a restaurant worker who befriends the shut-in from the sidewalk below his window.

Next to Silas, Maxie is the play's most interesting character. She is played with assurance by Nedra McClyde, who I saw last year in Victor Woo. Here, rather than being asked to dance and sing, McClyde plays an intensely emotional woman with some secrets of her own. Her infiltration of Silas's rather wobbly orbit seems at first a forced plot device, but that changes.

"I don't like people, Darren," Silas tells the agent early on. "They freak me out." But much more than that – and much less – lies behind Silas's retreat into his urban version of hermithood, and it is the playwright's skill in holding things back and revealing them slowly and effectively that keeps the story, which might have been claustrophobic, flowing and tense.

Unfortunately this knack deserts her during a stretch of the second act, collapsing a chunk of the play into a flat, dry talkfest. The act could do with some cold-eyed tightening up. But a lovely final scene helps redeem it.

Ching is a gifted writer, both in the elevated style expressed by her writer-characters and in the everyday conversations she writes for all her creations. Now and then the shifts between poetic and realistic language feel a little abrupt or misplaced, as in the voicemail messages Silas leaves for Maya, which sometimes resemble the words of a melodramatic adolescent more than those of a successful literary figure in his thirties, much less of a normal man. But mostly, Ching's language leaps and twirls like the movements of a finely trained, gifted athlete. It shoots and usually scores. Quite often it's very funny.

Silas's tough-guy brother Finn, though less technically articulate than Silas the writer or Maya the actress, is a creature entirely of language. He arrives late in Act I to spur the plot, but stays to complete Ching's world of words. Played powerfully by Mr. Christopher, Finn, short for Phineas, is a street-hardened Latino with previously unsuspected stores of intellectual power. This angry, emotional creature bears a whiff of the Tennessee Williams type of tragic figure.

Suh is on stage for just about the entire two-hour play. Moving fluidly from a dry, comedic mode through various forms of squirming discomfort and pain, he even delivers a beautifully written, Shakespearean-style explanatory monologue with quiet conviction. In that and numerous other moments, Ching's poetic vision finds fulfillment in Suh's masterful performance.

Through April 5 at the Milagro Theater inside the CSV Cultural Center. Order tickets online or call (212) 352-3101. If you go… arrive early and try to grab front row seats, as the theater has a bit of a legroom shortage.

Music Review: Indie Round-Up – Spitzer’s Folly, Sky Cries Mary, and Down the Line

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

We hear a lot of crappy music here at the Indie Round-Up. It's part of the process: we have to pan through a lot of sand to find the nuggets of gold. But before we get to this week's good stuff, bear with us while we explore the musical talents of Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the high-priced call girl at the center of the Eliot Mess.

Though briefly taken down after the scandal exploded, Dupré's MySpace page, with her song, "What We Want," is back up. It links to her Amiestreet.com page where you can – and where, apparently, over two million people did – purchase the song. (A second track has since been added.)

I understand people's prurient interest in listening to Dupré's track at MySpace. I did it myself. But that should be enough to satisfy simple curiosity. For the song to actually sell, wouldn't you think it should be a tiny bit – I don't know – good? But it's not. (Neither is the other song, the embarrassingly titled "Move Ya Body.") It's not "promising." It's not "halfway decent," as one music website called it. It's awful. Not halfheartedly awful, like the lamer work of her idol, Madonna, but MySpace hot babe awful. Tila Tequila awful.

And it's sad. Sad that someone with the troubled background that Dupré describes in her MySpace bio has been allowed to believe that the music she's put out is decent.

Not that it's more awful than some of the other stuff floating around on the Internet. There's always been crappy music, of course, but now that anyone with a computer and some time on their hands can record their crap and make it sound semi-professionally produced, musical "artists" are buzzing around as numerously, and as annoyingly, as locusts.

The whole Spitzer saga is sad, and the sub-story of the call girl with musical ambitions is no exception.

Now, with relief, let's turn to some good music.

Sky Cries Mary, Small Town

Since regrouping in 2004, trance-rockers Sky Cries Mary have been relatively seldom seen on stage, but their new CD Small Town shows the bicoastal sextet in top form. A lovely little acoustic guitar song, "Travel Light," breaks up the sequence of hypnotic wall-of-sound tracks, and the title track itself also features acoustic guitar. The "small town" refers to New York, various areas of which appear throughout the disc, which makes the album something of a portrait of NYC life. Who would have thought a band could make a compelling chorus with just the words "Here comes the 5 Train"? – but SCM could and did. The CD runs out of steam a few tracks before the end, but there is a lot of lush, muscular, feelingly executed, and well-written stuff here. Hear extended samples.

Down the Line, Home Alive

At a far distant point on the pop spectrum from SCM, we find the Chicago acoustic-rock quartet Down the Line, who are equally good at what they do, as this live album demonstrates. Having toured with the likes of Peter Frampton, America, Ben Folds, and Colin Hay, the band's road credentials are unquestionable; the tight musicianship demonstrated here clearly comes from logging a lot of stage time. But the band's two strongest points are their vocals and their songs. Assured and sometimes downright soulful lead vocals and harmonies enliven their catchy and extremely well-crafted songs.

The band is equally at home with smooth pop, like "I Don't Want to Sing" and their cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"; riff-based rock like "Here I Am"; heartland rockers and barroom singalongs like "Martyr," "Dion," and "One Bottle of Bourbon"; a soul-inspired, falsetto-laced song like "Change Your Mind"; and even a well-turned ballad or two, like "A Boy Like Me," and "All Wrong," which brings to mind Clapton's "Old Love." And they do it all without electric guitars, keyboards, or a drum kit. The versatile Dan Myers, who covers harmonica, mandolin, and violin, has a good deal to do with the band's success at this. Besides those instruments, the band comes at us with just acoustic guitar, djembe, and electric bass. I don't often come across a live album worth multiple listens from a band I've never heard before, but this is one. Listen, buy.

Theater Review (NYC): Great Hymn of Thanksgiving and Conversation Storm at the Frigid Festival

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

The art of theater has flourished for thousands of years, but it never runs out of room for experimentation. Three talented artists have combined to realize two separate but conceptually related experimental pieces by Rick Burkhardt as part of the New York Frigid Festival.

Great Hymn of Thanksgiving, which takes up the first third or so of the hour-long show, bridges the gap between musical and meta-theatrical performance. Three actor-musicians – Burkhardt, Ryan Higgins, and Andy Gricevich – sit around a table playing percussion and sometimes vocalizing. A few of their instruments are standard ones – cymbals, a zither, a triangle – but they're often not played in the usual way, and much of the sound comes from objects "found" at the table – dishes, cutlery, bowls, and glasses filled with water.

One gets the sense that there's some internal logic to the sequence of quiet, slow sections and loud cacophonies of rattling and table-pounding, but if there is, it isn't easily teased out. It doesn't help that one loses patience during some of the near-silent sections. The spoken parts include evocative elements such as a quiet litany of Iraqi war dead, but these seem cobbled in with little if any context. On the whole, it's an interesting piece that has one at the edge of one's seat at times, but would have more impact if it stepped more lively, or were compressed into a shorter time-frame.

The Iraq war references take on more meaning as the second part begins. Conversation Storm is a play about three high school friends, now in their thirties, sitting in a restaurant revisiting the intellectual debates of their youth with a discussion about whether torture is ever justified. Self-consciously acting in a play, giving each other director's notes and stage directions, and lecturing the audience, they dig ever deeper into a psychological game where they try to break each others' will until it no longer seems a game. Nightmarish imagery and plain sophistry are both enlisted to challenge moral principles; we are gripped; tables turn. But the deliberately fractured action careens between genuinely dramatic intensity and inexplicable weirdness.

Like the musical portion of the show, this part would benefit from some tightening up; I frequently lost patience with the insistent distractions from what the characters were actually doing to each other, especially in the latter part of the play where it stopped making an effort to engage the audience. No doubt Burkhardt is diluting the emotional power of his piece on purpose. But if it is to make a statement, I wasn't sure what the statement was (perhaps the dehumanizing effect of torture, but that hardly needs saying) – and if it was primarily for effect, the effect was disconcerting and not always engagingly so. All experiments are valid in art, and theater – the most visceral and potentially powerful of all the arts – is ground zero for the cutting edge. But this edge didn't cut evenly.

Presented by Horse Trade and EXIT Theater, through March 9 in repertory at the Frigid Festival. At the Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4 St. (across the street from La Mama).

Theater Review (NYC): STUCK! at the Frigid Festival

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

The Frigid Festival is one of those idealistic, from-the-grassroots alternatives to bigger, more corporate events such as the Fringe Festivals. In this self-described "celebration of independent theater," all box office income goes to the actual productions, while the Festival rather cutely passes the tip bucket for itself.

A one-woman play written and performed by Jennie Franks, STUCK! is a fine example of the kind of (literally) underground theater that flourishes in the context of an event like the Frigid. Kiki, a no-longer-young suburbanite with children and a jittery marriage, is trying – with a faint air of desperation – to maintain a cosmopolitan social life by staying on top of fashion trends and clinging to an Upper West Side lifestyle. Her frazzled morning slams to a halt when she gets locked in the basement bathroom of a Starbucks, with little more than a weak cell phone signal, a giant turd, and her own insecure inner narrative.

Expectedly, Kiki lays her neuroses out for us as she talks herself through her unsanitary ordeal. Unexpectedly, breaches in the fourth wall toy with the audience's assumptions, as the character of Kiki flowers into a bearer of social and political commentary. Ms. Franks' convincing New Yorker morphs into the character of the actress herself (complete with British accent) and back. The first of these shifts disturbs and discomforts the audience, but as the play progresses they become sort of the point, and although last night's fairly sizable crowd contained a lot of Frigid supporters and friends, the cheers for Ms. Franks at the end of her original little piece weren't just friendly, but well-deserved.

The Frigid productions are all supposed to be under one hour, and with their tiny budgets it's not too surprising that quite a few are solo shows like this one. But while small in scale they are large in creative energy. I attended a "Snapshots" presentation last week, where each of a dozen productions staged a five-minute taste, and I'm going to try and catch at least a couple more. You can check out the whole schedule here.

Presented by <a href="http://www.httheater.org/" target="_blank">Horse Trade</a> and EXIT Theater, through March 9 in repertory at the Frigid Festival. At the Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4 St. (across the street from La Mama).