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BY TRAV S.D. (travsd.wordpress.com) | Well, the big news this month is that The Slipper Room is back. After a two-year-long renovation, the Orchard Street resort quietly opened towards the end of October — just in time for Sandy to quash their planned launch bash. But it’s always good to get your bad luck out of the way up front. I predict smooth sailing from here on in. With a new upper level to their Orchard Street facility, the joint has improved sightlines and more room for audience (always a problem in the old days). Music concerts have now joined burlesque shows on the calendar. For a full schedule of what’s up, go to slipperroom.com.
Mayan calendar called it: December is Trav S.D.’s swan song
Through December 29, HERE Arts Center is premiering “Chris March’s Butt-Cracker Suite.” Written, directed and designed by Chris March (“Project Runway,” “Christmas with the Crawfords” and Bravo’s “Mad Fashion”), this version of Tchaikovsky’s perennial classic is set in a trailer park and features “dancing pink flamingos, cans of Spam and ugly Christmas sweaters come to life.” March is a Drama Desk award-winning costume and fashion designer. Look for this show to be all about the outlandish gear. Visit here.org for more details.
Through December 31, The Flea will be presenting the New York premiere of “Restoration Comedy” by Pulitzer Prize-finalist Amy Freed. The play mashes up Colley Cibber’s “Love’s Last Shift” (1697) with John Vanbrugh’s satirical answer to it the following season: “The Relapse.” Wicked adultery, trickery and intrigue rule the day in this comedy, aided by immersive accoutrements such as baroque music and a burlesque dancer in the lobby, passed hors d’oeuvres, bottomless cocktails and a post-show dance party.
Currently in previews (with its official run from December 9-23), Red Bull Theater’s rare revival of Ben Jonson’s “Volpone, or The Fox” at the Lucille Lortel Theatre is the tale of a miser so stingy that he is tricked into making his own life a living hell. The story has been making audiences laugh for centuries, although it is more commonly revived nowadays in Garson Kanin’s latter-day adaptation. But don’t be dissuaded by the density of Jonson’s Elizabethan era patois. With a first rate roster of Broadway comic talent like Stephen Spinella, Tovah Feldshuh, Alvin Epstein and Rocco Sisto, it’s bound to be every bit as laugh-provoking. All the info is at redbulltheater.com.
December 3-23, terraNOVA Collective [sic] will be presenting “P.S. Jones and the Frozen City” — a new play by Robert Askin (“Hand to God”) at the New Ohio Theatre. Described as a “superhero adventure story,” the play concerns a young manure shoveller who is called to leave his job and save the world by making a journey to the titular cold place. Well, I guess if my job involved poop, I would require very little inducement to play hooky! If you’d like to step into the adventure, check out terranovacollective.org.
December 4-15, Horse Trade Theater Group’s resident acting ensemble, The Drafts, brings Michael McGuire’s campy “It Comes from Beyond!” to the stage. It evokes Fifties horror films like “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” and “The Blob,” and also promises to “explore American archetypes, xenophobia, fate and the monsters that lurk within us.” Well, YOU maybe. Tickets for the show, which will be performed in the Red Room, may be procured at horsetrade.info.
December 9, The Schlep Sisters present their sixth annual “Menorah Horah” at the Highline Ballroom. Eight girls will vie for positions as “Menorah Royalty.” The proceedings will be hosted by Sherry Vine and will feature Minnie Tonka, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Little Brooklyn, Bastard Keith, the Maine Attraction and more. Go to highlineballroom.com and schlepsisters.com for the full scoop.
Two shows at Joe’s Pub caught my eye this month. Anna Copa Cabanna’s previously announced Halloween-themed variety show has been rescheduled for December 14 under the new title “Oh Unholy Night.” The Australian honey will be joined onstage by her Copa Cabanna Dancers, along with Esther Crow of the Electric Mess, singer Joy Dragland and “hula hoop harlot” Melissa-Anne. Then, on December 23, look for the comical, clowny burlesque duo The Wau Wau Sisters to unleash their crazy madness just in time for Santa to put them on his “naughty” list. Information on both shows can be found at joespub.com.
On December 21 (the end of the world according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar), don’t miss the incomparable, trash-talking Tammy Faye Starlight as she brings her “Defense of Opposite Marriage Tour 2012” to The Duplex. There are so few people you can say this about nowadays — but I think I’m on safe ground when I say that in a Tammy Fay Starlight show there is something there to offend everybody. Plus, she’s got some pretty decent pipes and a wonderful feel for country music even while she’s skewering it. One thing I do know? That band of hers is going to be getting all close and intimate with each other on the tiny Duplex stage whether they like it or not! Audience members are encouraged to dress in “wedding attire.” For more info, go to theduplex.com.
Lastly, on a sentimental note, this is my final “Downtown Theater” column for the Community Media family of papers. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m realizing now that I’ve lost track of how long that is. Three years? Four? One thing I do know is that after you’ve done something many, many times, there’s a danger of getting repetitive.
As much as I esteem the beat I’ve been covering, the coming New Year simply feels like a good time to step off the merry-go-round. I want to thank my editor and publisher — and you, dear reader — for this opportunity to bring you the news about some of my favorite New York theater artists. Happy Holidays, and here’s hoping the world doesn’t end before 2013!