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AMY STILLER IN “JUST TRUST” | Paint drying certainly is a work in progress — but you wouldn’t disconnect from your electronic devices, schlep to a theater, and buy a ticket to watch it happen. Amy Stiller, however, is worth the trip and then some. The ever-evolving, self-aware searcher’s solo performance drops anchor back at the site of its incubation, after a series of national performances during which writer, actress, and comedienne Stiller tells us she further sharpened the silly, sexy, spiritually inclined, packed-to-the-rafters workshop performance enormously enjoyed by this publication at Dixon Place back in Aug. 2016. Assured improvements notwithstanding, the rock solid story arc remains the same: Stiller riffs on her life as “the only unknown person in a family of celebrities” (sister of Ben, daughter of Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller). Flummoxed by an unworthy suitor, a therapist with more personal problems than her client, and a celebrity culture rife with vultures and short on virtues, mamma Meara drops a Yoda-like koan that becomes Stiller’s North Star (and the two-word title of her show). True to the press material’s promise, “Amy learns to ‘just trust’ that she is enough.” There are plenty of bumps along the way, though, told through a series of alternately touching and absurd flashbacks packed with spot-on portrayals of characters both grounded and kooky — plus a few cutting zingers aimed squarely at the her own flaws. As road trips to enlightenment go, Stiller proves to be the kind of vigilant presence you want behind the wheel.
Fri., Oct. 13 at 7:30pm, Sat. Oct. 14 at 2pm and 7:30pm. At Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For tickets, ($15 in advance, $18 at the door; $12 for students/seniors; online discount code is JUSTAMY), visit dixonplace.org or call 212-219-0736.
“DEATH TO THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW” | Twenty years after he first took the ancient tradition of bone-chilling, one-upsmanship tale-telling away from the forest campfire and into a black box theater, Clay McLeod Chapman is casting himself as a ruthless homicidal nurse and pulling the plug on his still-beating, deeply disturbing storytelling series, “The Pumpkin Pie Show.” Every October, it’s given us a reliably unstable pageant of blood, guts, gore, long-held secrets, and public perversions acted with scene-chewing gusto by a revolving cast hand-harvested by author Chapman, whose tightly wound shockers repeatedly demonstrate that fiction is stranger than truth — and in the right hands, it’s far more dangerous. This three-week swan song brings back some of the series’ best, including unofficial national treasure Hanna Cheek. On Oct. 12, 19 and 26, she’ll shape-shift through “Commencement,” playing three women whose lives intersect in the heartbreaking wake of a high school shooting. On Oct. 13, 20 and 27, Chapman reunites with songwriter Kyle Jarrow and fellow cast members Cheek, Abe Goldfarb, Katie Hartman and Brian Silliman for “Seasick” — a cruise-ship-set musical theater take on survivalism, potty mouthery, and descents into madness. You’ll never think of buffet dining or karaoke quite the same way. The third part (of course it’s a trilogy), “Best of Blitzkrieg,” has Chapman, Cheek and special guests performing a punk potpourri of “Pie Show” favorites, chosen at random on Oct. 14, 21 and 28. Not enough for you? Pick up the recent Applause Books release “Nothing Untoward: Tales From The Pumpkin Pie Show” and you can take that cursed tome off the shelf any night of the week. There will be dreams, yes — but don’t bank on anything sweet.
Through Oct. 28, with performances Thurs., Fri. and Sat. at 8pm. At UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Pl., btw. First Ave. & Ave. A). For tickets ($20), visit horsetrade.info. See all three shows for the price of two when you use the code PIE. Artist info at claymcleodchapman.com.
ERYC TAYLOR DANCE: FALL SEASON | Twist, jump, and leap if you must — just don’t two-step around the opportunity to see Eryc Taylor Dance in the intimate Martha Graham Studio Theater. That’s where we last caught the muscular and nimble ensemble, at an Oct. 2016 performance (whose world premieres included “Dances on Wood,” choreographed to an original score by renowned composer and longtime Chelsea Hotel resident Gerald Busby). Nicole Baker, Chris Bell and Graham Cole — all veterans of that 10-year anniversary performance, and all fantastic in it — return for this fall season program, joined by Taylor Ennen, AJ Guevara and Alex Tenreiro Theis. Skill, sweat, and sex appeal make this a must-see, and that’s a sight-unseen recommendation we feel perfectly comfortable with. As for the specifics of what you’ll get: “Cycles” is a “sixteen-minute abstraction of space and sea” commissioned work with a soundscape by British electronic artist/DJ Swarm Intelligence and geometric exoskeleton costumes by emerging NYC-based artist Ether. The troupe’s 1992 comedic take on tango — “Chaise Lung” — gets the reconstruction treatment via new sequence created in collaboration with Latin Ballroom instructor Sidney Grant, and a new commissioned score by Salomon Lerner. Repertory works include “Song for Cello and Piano,” “The Box,” and “The Missing,” with that last one giving us the ending we needed: This is one fall arts event you don’t want miss.
At 8pm on Fri., Oct. 13 & Sat., Oct. 14, then Sun., Oct. 15 at 3pm. At the Martha Graham Studio Theater (55 Bethune St., at Washington St.). For tickets ($25; $15 for students & seniors; VIP champagne toast, $250), call 858-401-2456 or visit etd.nyc.
“IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK: CELEBRATING THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE BOTTOM LINE” | One group and two words: Uptown Horns. That’s really all you need to know to sell you on celebrating the iconic music venue that made 15 W. Fourth St. the place to be from 1974 to 2004. The Horns will, of course, be joined by a beyond-stellar lineup lovingly curated by Jessica Weitz, Danny Kapilian and Paul Guzzone, and conceived by Melanie Mintz, with music direction by Gregg Bendian (whose band, The Mahavishnu Project, was frequent Bottom Line presence). Hosted by Paul Shaffer, the announced talent (so many we don’t have room for them all, sorry) includes Sean Altman, David Bromberg (Fri. only), Clint de Ganon, The GrooveBarbers, Garland Jeffreys (Sat. only), David Johansen, Christine Lavin (Sat. only), Will Lee, Darlene Love with Ula Hedwig and Curtis King, Terre Roche with Feifei Yang and Garry Dial (Fri. only), and Jimmy Vivino. In addition to the great music you’d expect, the tribute will be packed with stories, audio clips and photos, and a pop-up gallery in the lobby exhibiting intimate moments of Bottom Line glory from rock photographers Peter Cunningham, Bob Gruen, and Ebet Roberts.
Fri., Oct. 13 and Sat., Oct. 14, 7:30pm at the Schimmel Center (at Pace University; 3 Spruce St., btw. Gold St. & Park Row). For tickets ($29 to $55), call 212-346-1715 or visit schimmelcenter.org.
—BY SCOTT STIFFLER