Posts Tagged ‘NYC Fringe Festival’

Michael Hirstreet is another writer and performer on the rise…he is the co-founder of Dreamstreet Productions and recently wrote and performed in “The Gay Test” as part of the Short Play Lab. His other NY Theatre credits include “Wired,” “Working It Out” (FRIGID Festival), “Animals” (2007 FringeNYC and George Street Playhouse), “The Art of the Pick-Up” (Riant Theatre), and “War in Paramus” (HB Playwrights Foundation). Michael is in the midst of  developing the “Garage Band Project,” a new musical being created with producer Ken Davenport as well as starring in his witty, humorous, and heartfelt one-man NYC Fringe Show “My Broken Brain” (click here for my review) which runs through August 28 at the Players Loft (115 MacDougal Street, 3rd Floor, NYC). For more on Michael be sure to visit http://michaelhirstreet.blogspot.com/

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? George Carlin, John Leguizamo, and seeing “Phantom of the Opera” at 9 years old.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? The Situation, we seriously need to do a buddy cop movie together.

3. If you could perform alongside anyone, who would it be? Martin Short, he’d be the perfect person to play my dad.

4. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I’m really good at NFL2K3 on Xbox.

5. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Definitely Starbucks, I’m a vegan, and Starbucks lets me order my Grande Decaf Soy Cinnamon Dulce Latte.

6. Favorite meal? Arroz Con Frijoles y Platanos, my Ecuadorian half controls my taste buds.

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? I have a really fast metabolism, so I try to eat anything vegan I can to stay alive.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Boxers.

9. Favorite website? mybrokenbrain.net and playbill.com

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman because she’s the one with the lasso, does anyone know where I can get one of those?


11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Gordon from Sesame Street, he has a calming effect on me.

12. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Anything that comes out my girlfriend/ director Leah Benavides’ mouth. She’s the life behind My Broken Brain and my partner in everything.

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Today I saw “My Broken Brain” at the NYC Fringe Festival. Written and performed by Michael Hirstreet and directed by Leah Benavides, “My Broken Brain” tells Michael’s coming of age story as he struggles to fit in. From falling in love with the wrong girl to straying from his best friend JC, to having his brain explode, literally, Michael has lived.

Using multi-media effects in addition to his acting, Michael engages the audience from the moment the show starts. He takes us on his journey of growing up in New Jersey with the struggles to fit in to being diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), after his first brain explosion. AVM is a condition in the brain resulting from an abnormal connection between the arteries and the veins in the brain.

If you’re looking for a show with wit, humor, and heart, then I suggest going on Michael’s journey in “My Broken Brain” playing at The Players Loft, 3rd Floor (115 Macdougal Street in NYC). Remaining performances: Mon 8/16 at 7pm, Sun 8/22 at 9pm, Fri 8/27 at 5:45pm, Sat 8/28 at 10pm

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Today I saw Freed Purple Monkey Theatrics and The Stage Reperotry Company’s production of “A Matter of Choice” at the NYC Fringe Festival. Written by Chad Beckim and co-produced and co-directed Alicia Dempster and T.R. Burtt, Jr , “A Matter of Choice” tells the story of three friends who must decide what do when they get a letter from the MTA telling them they are being evicted from their apartment due to the 2nd Avenue Subway project.

In different stages of their lives, these friends start to question where they are at, with the themselves and with each other. Jake Lemmenes plays “Webb” who must decide whether to continue to live with his friends or take the next step in his relationship with “Michael,” played by Nicholas Wilder. Divided between the love he has for his friends and the love he has for his boyfriend, “Webb” decision could cost him more than just his friends, it could cost him his life.

Tom Woflson who plays “Diggs,” a guy who would rather avoid the responsibility life puts on you as you grow older than work through it and Ashley Marie Ortiz who plays the well-educated and responsible “Chasity.” “Diggs” has to figure out whether it’s time to grow up and find a new place to live or continue coasting by, high as can be, and possibly be homeless. With her stable job and head of the household attitude, “Chasity” has to decide where to go next…does she stay living with her brother “Diggs”, get a place of her own, or move back home with her parents.

Rounding out the cast are Emily Edgerton as “Madison,” Amanda Kay McDonald as “Karen,” and Damlyr Shuford as “Boo.” These friends are interwoven throughout the show adding circumstances to each of the main characters choices as to what they should do.

The cast works well together and the story is entertaining and thought-provoking. It makes one think, what would you do, if you got evicted? Would you be able to handle curve life has thrown at you or would you just crumble? To help figure things out, come take a trip to “A Matter of Choice” at the SoHo Playhouse at 15 Vandam Street (between 6th Ave & Varick) in NYC. Remaining performances are: Tue 8/17 at 10:15pm, Thur 8/19 at 7pm, Sat 8/21 at 2:15pm.

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As a 2010 Sir John Gielgud Fellow finalist and 2010 Mark Ockrent Fellowship nominee, Troy Miller is a director on the rise. In his senior year of high school, everything clicked for Troy when he directed his senior class production of Neil Simon’s “Lost In Yonkers.” After high school and college, Troy decided to attend Trinity Rep Conservatory to earn his Masters of Fine Arts in Directing where he got to direct a production of Craig Lucas’ “The Dying Gaul” which prompted then Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis to introduce Troy to Lucas. Shortly after, Troy joined the artistic team for the Tony Award winning Lincoln Center Production of “The Light In The Piazza” working closely with Craig Lucas as his assistant.

Troy’s other directing credits include “Horatio” at the 2007 NYC Fringe Festival, “Noises Off” with Festival 56, “Blithe Spirit” at Barnstormers, assistant director to Marion McClinton on “Roar” at The New Group, “Postcards From A Dead Dog” and “Our Lady Of The Sea” at Emerging Artists. Currently, Troy is directing “Together This Time” in the New York City Fringe Festival. Playing at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, showtimes are August 18 at 9:30pm, August 19 at 8:15pm, August 22 at 12pm, August 23 at 1pm, August 26 at 4:30pm. Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door. For much more on Troy and his happenings, be sure to visit http://www.troymiller.org.

1. Who inspired you to become a director? I don’t know if it was a person specifically, but the idea of telling a story was something that always appealed to me. The running joke in my family was after I saw a movie they could expect me directing the neighborhood production within a few hours starring the neighborhood kids. I loved acting and dancing but when I was directing there were no words to describe what I was feeling.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? I would very much like to work with Jane Krakowski. I adored her on Alley McBeal, on stage and the few times I have had the opportunity to speak with her. I think she is immensely talented and seems like she would be amazingly fun to work with.

3. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? As odd as this may sound, it would be being in rehearsal with James Dean and a young Marlon Brando. I have always admired their work and their style as performers. The idea of having a conversation with the two of them about the craft, their life and everything in between would be amazing.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Trust. Trust the work that you have done. Trust that you have found the truth and let go.

5. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? Well, I can fold my legs into a pretzel without using my hands and walk on my knees.

6. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Depends on the purpose. Sitting and talking? Then Starbucks with a Vanilla Latte. Just grab and go, much prefer Dunkin’ Donuts regular coffee.

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? A combination of yoga and/or a long walk along the west side of Manhattan. Low impact.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs. (American Apparel)

9. Favorite website? My own of course! Seriously though, playbill.com and texts from last night.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? The Man of Steel!


11. Favorite ride at an amusement park? Don’t know the name of any of them, but I really enjoy the ones that spin you around in every possible direction. Roller coasters are also right up there.

12. Favorite way to spend your day off? What’s a day off? I don’t believe I am familiar with that concept.

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I had the fortunate experience of having a one on one interview with Autumn Hurlbert after seeing her in Bobby Cronin’s concert “Not The Same: The Music and Lyrics of Bobby Cronin” on Sunday, March 28. With a big beautiful voice and stage presence to go with it, Autumn not only has the talent, but she is gracious, personable, and full of energy. From starring in the first national tour of “Little Women” to regional productions of “Beauty and the Beast,” “Les Miserables,” and “Evita,” Autumn gained national attention as the runner up in MTV’s reality series “Legally Blonde: The Search for Elle Woods.” Since then, she has continued entertaining audiences. She joined Broadway’s “Legally Blonde” until it closed in 2008, then starred in “Glimpses of the Moon” at the Algonquin Hotel, “On The Town” at Encores, “Beehive” at the Maltz Jupiter Theater in FL, and “A Contemporary American’s Guide to a Successful Marriage (c) 1959” (which also starred fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Lee Aaron Rosen) at the 2009 NYC International Fringe Festival. Autumn has a few projects in the works, so stay tuned to find out when they come about and in the meantime be sure to visit http://www.autumnhurlbert.com for more on Autumn.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? My dad because he was in a band when he was in college, but his dream of becoming a musician never came to fruition. He became a banker instead. My parents never pushed anything on me and just allowed me to explore the arts and it was very obvious very quickly that this is where I belonged. Growing up I loved Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters…all the curly haired girls.

1a. Is that where you get your big beautiful belt from, from loving Bette and Bernadette? You know where I get my big beautiful belt from, I had colic when I was a baby and my mom said I screamed every single day of the first year of my life. So I think I have a big voice because I got good training, screaming, as a baby.

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? The lowest note I can sing is Low E below C, highest note I can belt is a high B flat or B, highest note I can sing is High F or G.

3. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Too many names to pick, but I would really, really, love to  work with is Lin-Manuel Miranda. He has such great energy. I’ve seen “In The Heights” a bunch of times and he’s so smart, humble, and really innovative. I think he’s really fabulous.

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Oh, I’ve never been asked a question like that. That’s scandalous! I would probably dream that Henry Krieger wrote a fierce song for me.

5. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I am able to stick objects in my nose. I can make a q-tip disappear into my nasal cavity. If I stick 2 things in my nose, I can make them hang from my nostrils. Actually, everybody can do that because if you cut your nose off your face you just have two holes and I found mine. It’s disgusting, I know, but I love freaking people out.

6. Favorite kind of sundae (ice cream flavor & toppings)? If I got a Sundae with lots of toppings it would be vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate and strawberries. If I had just plain ice cream my favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip all the way.

7. Favorite kind of shoes? All Shoes.

8. Favorite skin care product? Burt’s Bees when I’m not working and Origins when I’m employed.

9. Favorite website? Etsy.com or Apartment Therapy.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman. I was her for Halloween. Rope, cuffs, and starred undies included.


11. Favorite quote? I have a lot of favorite quotes, but I will say “leap and the net will appear.”

12. Favorite play/musical? Play: “Lend Me A Tenor” or “August Osage County.” Musical: “Once on this Island.”

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Vote!I went to see the NYC Fringe show “Vote!” about what one would do to win student body president. Amongst it’s stars are Bailey Hanks, Deidre Goodwin, and Morgan Karr. The cast as a whole is great, but these 3 actors know how to command the stage. From hitting the high notes to to giving just the right look, Bailey knows how to play it cool, but sneak it in where needed. The diversity that is Morgan Karr is one to be seen…from his amazingly wonderful voice to his good looks, Morgan knows how to keep you watching. If you look up stage presence in the dictionary, you should see Deidre Goodwin’s name next to it. This girl knows how to give the audience all she’s got! From her walk to her talk to her choreography, your eyes never turn away. You have one more chance to see these three strut their stuff…catch “Vote!” at the Minetta Lane Theatre Wednesday, August 26 at 5:30PM.

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AContemporaryAmericansGuidetoaSuccessfulMarriage3234I went to see “A Contemporary American’s Guide to a Successful Marriage (c) 1959” at the NYC Fringe Festival, produced by Sean Bradford (“Simba” cover in Broadway’s “The Lion King”) & Adam Kantor (final “Mark” in Broadway’s “Rent”) in association with The Present Company. What a fun show…Robert Bastron has written a show that is cleaver, funny, and enjoyable by all. The show takes you on the journey of two couples from their initial meeting to dating to marriage and ultimately their own self-discovery of what a marriage is. The ups and downs that follow are wonderfully acted by this cast. Autumn Hurlbert & Lee Aaron Rosen are marvelous as “Abigail & Mason Lawrence”. Whether it’s through a gesture, a look, or her inflection, Autumn’s impeccable comedic timing is really shown. Lee demonstrates “Mason’s” enthusiasm as he falls love with “Abigail” and then his realization that marriage or this relationship might not be for him. Meredith Forlenza & A.J. Shively are perfectly cast as “Ruth Grundly & Daniel Henry”, she trailer-trash turned millionaire and he a child prodigy med student. Meredith gets to show off her sultry and independent woman sides with conviction while A.J. get to reveal his innocence, dedication and wisdom with power. The cast is rounded out by Chris Henry Coffey as “The Narrator” who moves the show along with humor and wit. Colin Israel plays “Michael Henry (the brother of Daniel) &  Jeremy (the gay male nurse)”  whose . Miranda Jackel is precious as “Evelyn Henry” the daughter of “Ruth & Daniel”.  Adding zingers both on stage and during scene changes are Francis Mercanti-Anthony & Monica West who play “Abigail’s” mother & sister “Dorothy Peck” & “Sheryl Howard” as well as Anna Stone who plays “Burnhilde Henry” (mother of “Daniel”) & “Ellen” (the nurse). Finally, Rob Sheridan gives a fine performance as “Henry Henry (“Daniel’s” father) & “Dr. Osborne”.

If this show comes back around (which I hope it does), go enjoy an evening of laughter!

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Tales from the TunnelI just the NYC Fringe Show “Tales From The Tunnel” about our daily scenarios on the NYC subway system. Humorous and touching, this show’s topic is easily identifiable. Whether it’s the NYC subway, Boston’s T, Washington DC’s Metro or any other train system you’ve rode, these are scenarios you can relate to. Tonight’s show was unique because unfortunately Wilson Jermaine Heredia was out sick at the last moment, but the whole cast should be applauded for not missing a beat while one of their own, Sam Rosenberg, covered Wilson’s parts in addition to his own. If you are thinking of what Fringe show to check out next, “Tales From The Tunnel” should be on your list!

Two of the more humorous scenarios I enjoyed were:

1. A segment of Musical Chairs to see which handicapped/disabled rider gets a seat.

2. A woman is sitting on the subway on a really hot summer day in a dress, the lights go out, and she feels something licking her legs and as she’s waiting for the lights to come back on she’s imaging it’s some crazy guy getting off, but to her delight, it’s a seeing eye dog.

Some of the touching scenes that stuck with me were:

1. Recounting a subway ride on September 11, 2006, 5 years after the World Trade Center attack and having the subway conductor remind riders of what they would have seen if they rode the subway 5 years earlier on September 11, 2001.

2. A subway ride that involved a homeless man coming on the subway and saying how “it’s so cold, it’s so cold, it’s so cold” and one compassionate rider giving the homeless man his coat.

3. A homeless guy who had the world at his feet and little by little his life started to fall apart, first by him losing his job, then his girlfriend leaving, and then a falling out with his parents, which left him no where to go but the streets.

Everyone has a “Tale From The Tunnel”, come see if yours is lived out!

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The Boys Upstairs LogoOf the 200 plus shows featured this summer in the NYC International Fringe Festival, one show you should definitely check out is The Boys Upstairs” by Jason Mitchell. Funny, humorous, and current, yet timeless. Three gay friends living together and sharing their lives. From boyfriends to one night stands to “is he” or “isn’t he” to showing the depths of what it is to have a real circle of friends. The cast is amazing. One might think these boys (Nic Cory who plays “Josh”, Joel T. Bauer who plays “Seth”, & Kristen-Alexzander Griffith who plays “Ashley”) have been friends forever. Their on-stage chemistry is perfect. Josh Segarra who plays “Eric”, the boy everyone wants to know about, is wonderfully cast as he keeps you guessing the whole show. David A. Rudd who plays the one-nighters and boyfriends of the other boys, keeps your attention, for you never which boy he’ll be cozying up to next. The playwright, Jason Mitchell, is one to keep your eye on. He may be telling a story, but the story is real. If I had to cast each of my friends in a role, I could which says just how identifiable this show is. You never know what kind of show you will see in a festival, but with “The Boys Upstairs”, you will be seeing a good one! Get your tickets now before it’s too late!

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