Michael Emerson Attends Opening Night for "The Woodsman"

Michael Emerson attended the opening night of The Woodsman. The new play performed silently and with human and puppet characters. The play is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz story of the Tin Man. Here’s a wonderfulreview written by Marilyn Stasio for Variety:

After limited runs at Ars Nova and 59E59 Theaters, Strangemen & Co.’s production of “The Woodsman” is back on the boards. There’s a haunting beauty about this dark puppet show, created by James Ortiz, the writer, co-director, puppet master and star of the current production at New World Stages. This eerie prequel to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” reveals how the Tin Woodman (as he’s known in L. Frank Baum’s Oz books) lost his heart — not to mention all his body parts — when the Wicked Witch of the East put a curse on his ax.
Although most of the show is in wordless puppet-speak, a narrator (Ortiz, who owns this show) addresses the audience long enough to put the story in perspective. The wicked witch who rules over the eastern provinces of Oz, he informs us, has made a sad and sorry place of her kingdom. The woods are inhabited by monsters, the witch’s spies are everywhere, and people are afraid to speak their thoughts out loud.
Words have literally become dangerous in the kingdom, so everyone stops talking and now communicate in non-verbal grunts, groans, squeaks, squeals and whistles. They laugh, they cry, they clap their hands, and make all kinds of weird noises — but they truly do not speak. The only other sound is the expressive but rather hectic violin playing of musician Naomi Florin. The music is not unpleasant, just relentless.
Even at 70 minutes, this cacophony of non-speech could drive a person crazy, a reminder that one of the joys of puppetry is its eloquent silences.
Despite the dangers, a brave woodsman named Nick Chopper (Ortiz again, carrying an ax) and his bride, Nimmee (Eliza Martin Simpson), make their escape through the haunted woods and into a happy place where Nick can chop down trees and build a home.
The malevolent witch is not to be outwitted, however. She puts a curse on the woodsman’s ax, directing it to (here comes the good part) chop off his limbs, one by one. But as fast as the ax shears off a limb, a clever tinker (Amanda A. Lederer) fashions a prosthesis made of tin. The woodsman’s head is the last to go, but when it does, the transformation is complete and the Woodsman has become the Tin Man.
The puppeteers are proficient and the effects are exquisite. The witch flies in on a bad wind, always in the company of the evil-looking crows that serve as her eyes and ears. But the life-sized tin puppet of the woodsman (tenderly manipulated by Ortiz) is heartbreaking.
Off Broadway Review: Oz Backstory ‘The Woodsman’
New World Stages; 199 seats; $85 top. Opened Feb. 8, 2016. Reviewed Feb. 5. Running time: 1 HOUR, 10 MIN.
Production
A presentation by Robb Nanus, Rachel Sussman, Ryan Bogner, Adam Silberman, and Leo Mizuhara and Brian Stuart Murphy, in association with RJ Brown & Joe Carroll, Rebecca Black, and Ellen Myers, originally produced and developed by Strangemen & Co., of a play in one act by James Ortiz, adapted from the books of L. Frank Baum, with music by Edward W. Hardy and lyrics by Jen Loring.
Creative
Directed by James Ortiz & Claire Karpen. Sets & puppet design, James Ortiz; costumes, Molly Seidel; original costumes, Carol Uraneck; lighting, Catherine Clark & Jamie Roderick; movement coordinator, Will Gallacher; fight director, Aaron McDaniel; music director & violinist, Naomi Florin; production stage manager, CJ LaRoche.
Cast
Benjamin Bass, Devin Dunne Cannon, Will Gallacher, Alex J. Gould, Amanda A. Lederer, Aaron McDaniel, Lauren Nordvig, James Ortiz, Eliza Martin Simpson, Meghan St. Thomas, Sophia Zukoski.

Larger and additional photos are available here.

Michael Emerson Attends Opening Night for “The Woodsman”

Michael Emerson attended the opening night of The Woodsman. The new play performed silently and with human and puppet characters. The play is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz story of the Tin Man. Here’s a wonderfulreview written by Marilyn Stasio for Variety:

After limited runs at Ars Nova and 59E59 Theaters, Strangemen & Co.’s production of “The Woodsman” is back on the boards. There’s a haunting beauty about this dark puppet show, created by James Ortiz, the writer, co-director, puppet master and star of the current production at New World Stages. This eerie prequel to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” reveals how the Tin Woodman (as he’s known in L. Frank Baum’s Oz books) lost his heart — not to mention all his body parts — when the Wicked Witch of the East put a curse on his ax.

Although most of the show is in wordless puppet-speak, a narrator (Ortiz, who owns this show) addresses the audience long enough to put the story in perspective. The wicked witch who rules over the eastern provinces of Oz, he informs us, has made a sad and sorry place of her kingdom. The woods are inhabited by monsters, the witch’s spies are everywhere, and people are afraid to speak their thoughts out loud.

Words have literally become dangerous in the kingdom, so everyone stops talking and now communicate in non-verbal grunts, groans, squeaks, squeals and whistles. They laugh, they cry, they clap their hands, and make all kinds of weird noises — but they truly do not speak. The only other sound is the expressive but rather hectic violin playing of musician Naomi Florin. The music is not unpleasant, just relentless.

Even at 70 minutes, this cacophony of non-speech could drive a person crazy, a reminder that one of the joys of puppetry is its eloquent silences.

Despite the dangers, a brave woodsman named Nick Chopper (Ortiz again, carrying an ax) and his bride, Nimmee (Eliza Martin Simpson), make their escape through the haunted woods and into a happy place where Nick can chop down trees and build a home.

The malevolent witch is not to be outwitted, however. She puts a curse on the woodsman’s ax, directing it to (here comes the good part) chop off his limbs, one by one. But as fast as the ax shears off a limb, a clever tinker (Amanda A. Lederer) fashions a prosthesis made of tin. The woodsman’s head is the last to go, but when it does, the transformation is complete and the Woodsman has become the Tin Man.

The puppeteers are proficient and the effects are exquisite. The witch flies in on a bad wind, always in the company of the evil-looking crows that serve as her eyes and ears. But the life-sized tin puppet of the woodsman (tenderly manipulated by Ortiz) is heartbreaking.

Off Broadway Review: Oz Backstory ‘The Woodsman’
New World Stages; 199 seats; $85 top. Opened Feb. 8, 2016. Reviewed Feb. 5. Running time: 1 HOUR, 10 MIN.
Production
A presentation by Robb Nanus, Rachel Sussman, Ryan Bogner, Adam Silberman, and Leo Mizuhara and Brian Stuart Murphy, in association with RJ Brown & Joe Carroll, Rebecca Black, and Ellen Myers, originally produced and developed by Strangemen & Co., of a play in one act by James Ortiz, adapted from the books of L. Frank Baum, with music by Edward W. Hardy and lyrics by Jen Loring.
Creative
Directed by James Ortiz & Claire Karpen. Sets & puppet design, James Ortiz; costumes, Molly Seidel; original costumes, Carol Uraneck; lighting, Catherine Clark & Jamie Roderick; movement coordinator, Will Gallacher; fight director, Aaron McDaniel; music director & violinist, Naomi Florin; production stage manager, CJ LaRoche.
Cast
Benjamin Bass, Devin Dunne Cannon, Will Gallacher, Alex J. Gould, Amanda A. Lederer, Aaron McDaniel, Lauren Nordvig, James Ortiz, Eliza Martin Simpson, Meghan St. Thomas, Sophia Zukoski.

Larger and additional photos are available here.

Michael Emerson to Lead All-Star Reading of "Gross Indecency"

Found this article in Deadline.com:

Michael Emerson & Sally Field Will Lead All-Star Reading Of Oscar Wilde Docu-Drama Banned By Kremlin


What Moscow rejects, Manhattan embraces: Moisés Kaufman’s celebrated 1997 docuplay Gross Indecency: The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde, recently canceled by the Kremlin during pre-production, will be presented in October by a star-driven cast as a fundraiser in New York.
Emmy-winner Michael Emerson (LostPerson Of Interest) and Oscar winner Field (Norma Rae) will be joined by Jonathan Groff (HBO’s Looking and currently on Broadway in Hamilton), Michael C. Hall (Showtime’s Dexter), David Hyde Pierce (NBC’s Frasier, Broadway’s Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike), Tony Kushner(Broadway and HBO’s Angels in America), Judith Light (Amazon’s Transparent, Broadway’s Other Desert Cities), Darren Criss (Fox’s Glee, Broadway’s Hedwig And The Angry Inch), Tituss Burgess (Netflix’ Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and others. Emerson played Wilde in the original off-Broadway production.
Earlier this year, Kaufman and his Tectonic Theater Project were working with the Moscow New Drama Theatre and the U.S. State Department to produce a Moscow revival of Gross Indecency. In the middle of pre-production, the Kremlin blocked the production because of the play’s LGBTQ content. Kaufman and the company then decided to produce the benefit reading to spotlight the suppression of the rights of the LGBTQ community in Russia.
The reading, staged by Kaufman, will take place October 5 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater on the West Side campus of John Jay College. Proceeds will benefit the Tectonic Theater Project and the International Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Commission. The reading will be sponsored by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Hilda Mullen Foundation. Info is at tectonictheaterproject.org.

The photo is available here as well.