* As an FYI, apparently Blogger has gone woke and is engaging in censorship. Eventually, I may move to another platform that's not endorsing corporate censorship and has no concept of humor or artistic context to make a point. Not to mention there's no protected category for stupidity not related to a clinical diagnosis of mental illness or hypocrisy (which has no mental illness diagnosis to mitigate it unless we're talking about being brainwashed & that's not really a mental illness per se). Oh, and it's not a LAWYER'S job to co-opt woke narratives or march in lockstep with the PC police; we're the people who care about the laws as written and applied to all, not specific groups leftists have decided to give passes to (which simply furthers discrimination and problems those groups experience). That being said, let's begin the review:
This show caught my attention based on its setting. The location has a personal significance to me but you only get to know what it is if you actually know me in real life. I will say it represents a clean slate and a new beginning away from some bad stuff. Which I suppose is where we can begin this review.
The Sub patriarch, Paul (Jeff Canter), is a man just trying to catch a break in the world of entrepreneurship while taking care of his devoted family in the Upper East Side. He goes through a couple failed businesses before we get to Coventry, the club where many of the greats got their start. If you’re familiar with the history, I’m not going to give you that here. That particular task is for our guide through it all Ethyl who enlightens us at her own spot (Ethyl’s) where the show is rocking and the story is brought to life.
A special shout out to Sarah MacDonnell who sets the scene and presents this tale with wit, humor and accessibility to the TikTok and social media set who often can’t be drawn away from that world so easily. This particular performance had a wait list and that may have been specifically to see Sarah if the conversations I heard were an indication of her appeal to the audience. Seating was quite a challenge, an event I haven’t seen so much in my reviewing tenure. I’m also not sure if Theater for the New City no longer reserves seats for press though I prefer to slip in unnoticed on general principle.
Abra Bigham’s script is informative while also humorous. I definitely saw places where I laughed such as the reference to Paul as the “big boss man” (which made me think of the movie “Office Space” which some may know is one of my favorite movies of all time as well as influential on how I structured my career). The costuming was awesome as well as the scenery and usage of the projector screen set up where you didn’t feel like things were cut off or confusing.
Louie (Milo Longenecker), the guy who came with the Coventry’s previous previous incarnation and never spoke but definitely needed his time off was great. He didn’t have to speak but simply provided comic relief with his mere movements and presence in the scenes. This was even more presence at Charlie’s (Blaize Alder-Ivanbroo) birthday party where I kept wondering if he was going to hit the birthday cake or lose his balance. Physical comedy is an underappreciated skill that really deserves more credit. On his birthday (his 25th), Charlie’s family gifts him with a burial plot. Talk about a mix of practicality and maybe a morbid sense of humor.
It reminded me of when my sister’s first husband died and we were going to his funeral. My mom joked that when my father died, she’d have to make sure the casket didn’t come out until about 15 minutes after the funeral started and he’d have to have his pants unzipped while holding a Burger King bag. She didn’t actually do this when my father passed about 10 years later but we got a good laugh out of that imagery.
The characters in this show were quite interesting: there’s Charlie of course the son trying so hard to make his band “Cliff and the Pits” happen but life just was not helping him as his front man Cliff (Thomas Deen Baker) had a nervous breakdown, his father was not about to give them stage time and in the wake of the nervous breakdown the other band members felt it was time to move on, his mother Mina (Alyson Reim) who kept everything together and Mandy (Alisa Ermolaev), the California girlfriend with more sunlight aversion than even yours truly (and you know most natural redheads go from pale to lobster in 20 minutes or less without sunblock).
After the show, I was happy to meet the real life Charlie Sub who was in attendance and whose life was being portrayed onstage. He struck me as a relatable, good guy whose family raised him well and would appreciate how they were portrayed in this show.
Overall, this was an entertaining, engaging and educational show that I enjoyed seeing especially with the +1 I selected who it turned out had more connection and interest with this show than I knew about when I initially invited him. He’s also a bit of a Lower East Side celebrity in his own right so that experience made the night even better for me. I wouldn’t bring little kids but I think teens on up and especially people who know this era would get a kick out of it.