Articles by Michael Miller

Theater

Inside the Wild Heart by Group.BR. Closing November 18, 2018.

I’d be very much inclined to discuss this fascinating, moving, strange—and important—two hours of immersive theater, spread across some twenty spaces from the first to the third floor (as well as a mezzanine) of a townhouse not far from Gramercy Park, but it is supposed to close on November 18, and I feel I owe it to its creators and our readers to get the word out. This magical spectacle has been over three years in development, and I’m sure the organizers, Group.BR, led by Artistic Director Andressa Furletti would like as many people as possible to see the fruit of their hard work and curious imaginations.
Coming Up and Of Note

TRANSFIGURATION RETURNS! On November 15 at 7:30 at Theatre Row as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival

Plays, which happen in real time amidst a live audience who have assembled at a specific time to experience the performance, are inextricably interwoven with events and ideas of the moment. Austin Pendleton, for example, devised his brilliant conflation of Shakespeare's Henry VI and Richard III (to return to the stage at the Theater for a New City, December 3, 4, 5) in the shadow of the botched U.S. election of 2016 and installation of criminal elements in the highest tiers of government. This kind of inspiration is anything but uncommon.
Theater

My Parsifal Conductor by Allan Leicht at Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the West Side YMCA

As I wrote and revised this review. The news of the terrible shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh unfolded, reminding us that there is nothing funny about anti-Semitism. Following the hijacking of the US government in the 2016 election, so many topics any of us might use in black or tasteless humor have lost their potential for even sardonic laughter. These are grim times. (My Parsifal Conductor was clearly not made for them.) But we mustn't forget the power of satire in emergencies like the present one. As artists, it is our duty to keep people awake, and laughter, especially painful laughter, is one way to accomplish that.
Theater

The Wars of the Roses (Shakespeare’s, Henry VI, Part 3 and Richard III), directed by Austin Pendleton, starring Matt de Rogatis, at the 124 Bank Street Theater—Closing August 19th

The violent reign of Richard III was a popular subject from the time of Henry VIII on, according to the several chronicles and plays that preceded Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard III (ca.  1592), and his own play was an immediate success with the public, as the five quarto editions published before his death attest, and has continued to be a favorite until the present day—not least because of the rich meat it provided for star actors, from Richard Burbage on.  Popularity creates expectations.  Richard's opening monologue is one of the purple passages that sticks in the mind of even the most casual Shakespearean, and Shakespeare gives some hint of the story's rootedness in the minds of his audience by meticulously chronicling all ten of Richard's most heinous murders, recapping them in Act V in the successive entrances of their ghosts.  Even though some of Shakespeare's predecessor felt no compunction to be so thorough, he felt the need to satisfy his audience's appetite for guilt and gore with each and every one of them, and that may well have been one of the keys to the play's success.
Music

Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the New York Choral Society and Orchestra under Music Director, David Hayes

The New York Choral Society, which has provided New Yorkers with a wonderful variety of mainstream and neglected choral works. Alongside Beethoven's Ninth, Brahms' German Requiem, and Berlioz's Grande messe des morts, their recent programs have included Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, Holst’s The Hymn of Jesus, Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum, MacMillan’s St. Luke Passion (New York premiere), Mendelssohn’s Paulus (St. Paul), and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony. Next season we have Tippet’s A Child of our Time, Finzi’s Requiem da Camera, Honegger’s Le roi David, and Randall Thompson’s Requiem to look forward to. One can only admire their comprehensive representation of the choral repertoire.
Theater

Preview: Spit & Vigor’s Moth & Flame—FINAL WEEKEND, Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, at Balcony Theater at the Center at West Park 165 W 86th Street

A full review of this remarkable two-person play will appear in May. Since the final performances take place this weekend, Friday, April 20th and Saturday, April 21st, I offer this very brief account to urge readers not to miss this fascinating experiment in parallel lives—the lives of artists, a category of humanity that Plutarch passed over.
Music

Three Recently-Founded Chamber Music Series in Manhattan: The Crypt Sessions, The ASPECT Foundation, and the WA Concert Series

Some of the most rewarding musical experiences I have enjoyed this season have been with small chamber organizations of recent mint. It is no coincidence that all three of the concert series feature ambitious offerings of food and drink. As Ruth Sommers, founder and director of yet another series, Festival Chamber Music, which I have already discussed in these pages, the rationale for this is as much social as culinary. She attributes the extraordinary success of her series in part to this social element, and the series discussed here are no less successful and equally lively as an environment to meet like-minded people, including the musicians. This does in fact enhance the music directly, as only conversation can. As for the food and drink, I can say all are excellent, without going so far as to review them, as if they were restaurants. The point is the social encounter, which above all helps attract newcomers to classical concerts and does wonders in making the events more relaxed and fun for everybody.
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