I’m an Award Winning Actor Now

June 30, 2008

The Perception of Dawn

That’s right. As of last night I am an Award Winning Actor. At The Film Festival Closing Night Awards Ceremony, the folks at The Brick Theater were kind enough to bestow acting honors upon me for my performance in Q & A: The Perception of Dawn.

The specific award I won was Best Performance by a Theater Critic.

Damn right, Loretta.

I thanked the assembled drunken sundry at last night’s gala for recognizing my dominance as both a critic and a performer, especially since I should’ve won this award at last year’s Pretentious Festival. (That’s right: I said it.)

Then I continued my phone conversation. I was on the phone with The Companion when I won, so I made my acceptance speech while talking to her. It was appropriately obnoxious, I thought. My Q & A castmate Jorge Cordova told me he wept like a proud mother when I won. So I couldn’t have been too obnoxious, right? (I’m sure some home video of this will surface at some point. Then you can decide for yourself.)

(By the way: The Brick now has its very own blog and YouTube channel, both of which you should probably be looking at. So hop to it.)


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

June 30, 2008

The Good, courtesy of Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris, and Nathan Fillion. This looks ridiculous. Watch the trailer and see for yourself.

The Bad and The Ugly, courtesy of Coreys Haim and Feldman. WTF?!?!?!?!?! Watch this trailer and scratch your head in confusion (after you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, that is).

Entertainment Weekly Names “The New Classics”

June 28, 2008


Recently, Entertainment Weekly published “The EW 1000,” a humongous list of their picks for the best in all of pop culture from the last 25 years. I was to happy to see that they give some props to New York theater, ranking their picks for the Top 50 productions since 1983. A pretty interesting list, all-around, bound to start some discussions. It got me thinking about what my picks might be from within that timeframe, and after I sat down and thought about for a few minutes, I found that my picks were pretty easily discernible.

So, with that little intro, I give you my purely subjective list of Top 10 Personal Favorite New York Theater Experiences of the Last 25 Years. These were the experiences that immediately stood out in my memory, and have stayed with me over the years for a variety of personal reasons. Here goes, in chronological order…

  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984). August Wilson’s Broadway debut. My father was in the original production, both on Broadway and at Yale Rep. I attended the Broadway opening with my mom, and to this day it remains one of the most electrifying and memorable theatergoing experiences of my life.
  • M. Butterfly (1988). The theatregoing public’s introduction to B.D. Wong, who gave a brilliant performance as Song Liling that included an astounding onstage transformation from his female persona to his male persona during the intermission between Acts II and III that made everyone forget they had to go to the bathroom. Theater magic at its best.
  • Our Town (1988). Lincoln Center Theater’s revival, directed by Gregory Mosher. This was the production that starred Spalding Gray as the Stage Manager, Eric Stoltz and Penelope Ann Miller as the young lovers, and brought this old chestnut thrillingly alive for a generation of audiences that thought it was nothing more than a musty old museum piece.
  • The Who’s Tommy (1993). The last Broadway musical I paid full price for, and boy was it worth it. I saw it ten days before it closed, and it was so exciting and vibrant and alive after a nearly a two-year run that I would’ve gladly paid full price to see it again. Amazing.
  • Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk (1995). The original Off-Broadway production at The Public Theater, before it moved to Broadway. I was in college at the time, and one of my fellow classmates from acting class, Baakari Wilder, was in this show. Nice guy, very funny, and a good actor to boot. We all knew he danced, but had never seen him in action. So, unbeknownst to him, I went to see the show early in previews. And when I saw him take the stage with Savion Glover and Co., tapping away furiously, I realized I was seeing him in his true element for the very first time. Astounding.
  • A Delicate Balance (1996). Lincoln Center strikes again with this Broadway revival of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Easily the finest example of a director (in this case, the late Gerald Gutierrez) being able to express a play’s themes through design, stagecraft, and acting that I have ever seen. Clear, precise, and devastating. The spectacular trio of Rosemary Harris, George Grizzard, and Elaine Stritch in the lead roles didn’t hurt either.
  • I Can’t Remember Anything / The Last Yankee (1997). A double-bill of little-known Arthur Miller one-acts produced by Signature Theatre Company during their Miller season. I was on the stage crew for this production and had a blast doing it. I got to see the inner workings of a real Off-Broadway company first-hand; I got to observe the late Joseph Chaikin (who directed) in action during rehearsals; I got to watch a bunch of seasoned New York theater actors – including Peter Maloney, Rebecca Schull, and Joseph Wiseman (in what turned out to be an Obie award winning performance) – do their thing every night; and, best of all, I got to meet Mr. Miller himself. It doesn’t get any better than that.
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch (1998). Another personal experience for me, as I worked this production as a staff usher and assistant house manager for the first seven months of its Off-Broadway run. I saw it dozens of times – with both John Cameron Mitchell and Michael Cerveris in the title role – and it was just as good the 40th time I saw it as it was the first time. Now that’s theater magic.
  • Death of a Salesman (1999). The Broadway revival starring Brian Dennehy and Elizabeth Franz, both of whom were heartbreaking. Another instance of a director (in this instance, Robert Falls) breathing new life into a well-known classic. My best friend, Ed, and I caught this one on the tail end of previews, and were blown away by it all over again.
  • Blackbird (2007). An extremely intense experience, and quite a gutsy move by Manhattan Theatre Club, I thought: a harrowing production of David Harrower’s pedophile love story starring the fantastic Jeff Daniels and Alison Pill. In a word: wow. (I reviewed this production for nytheatre.com, and you can read my review here.)

Honorable mentions to the following productions: Lost in Yonkers (original Broadway production, 1991), Lobby Hero (Off-Broadway transfer, 1993); and Hamlet (The Public Theater, 1999).  

And kudos to Entertainment Weekly to legitimizing theater as a pop culture force for the general public outside of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Live theater gets all the help it can get these days, and by giving it valuable national space EW arguably does more for the theater with this list than the NEA has done for it in God knows how long.

Okay, I’ve given you my list. Now I’d love to hear more about what some of your faves from the past 25 years have been. Ply me with comments, Dear Reader – GO!

My Sister Continues to Rock the House

June 25, 2008

Carla Criscuolo

Some of you may remember reading about my younger sister Carla in April, when I proudly bragged that she had become a published poet. Well, now I’m here to brag on her some more.

Since April, Carla has had a whirlwind of writerly triumphs. In May, she got a second poem published in the online journal, The Blue Jew Yorker. (This one was so powerful, in fact, that it caused The Companion to weep right there at her desk at work. Just warnin’ ya, people.) Then, she found out that a third poem had been accepted for future publication in the print journal, Main Channel Voices. Hot stuff!

And, if that weren’t enough, this month Carla found out that a fourth poem of hers had been accepted by another print publication called Cause & Effect. Poem # 4 will be published in their August issue.

So, as you can see, Carla continues to rock the house. Her time has come and now the world will finally learn the truth about Carla’s writerly dominance!

Congratulations to you again, sis! You have earned these successes and make the rest of us Criscuolos very, very proud!


Time Flies

June 24, 2008

As you can see, I’ve been a little absent from the blog recently. There are several reasons for this.

First was just plain ol’ post-Babylon decompression. We busted ass on that show for nearly three months and I needed a rest afterwards. Despite closing over six weeks ago, it’s almost as if the 30-person cast never stopped seeing each other: the company was so large that it has now become an email list unto itself, and nary a day goes by where I do not see or hear from one (or more) of my fellow Babylonians. We’ve grown into quite a close knit team, and one that I’m very glad to be a part of, even if I haven’t been able to attend any of the shows and parties they’ve all invited me to recently.

And why is that, you may ask? Because I’ve been working on shows of my own, of course – a pair of them for The Brick Theater’s Film Festival, both featuring a fair number of Babylonian alumni. This past weekend saw the two-night stand of Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing, a staged concert reading of an original comedy by William Peter Blatty, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Exorcist. Crazy, weird, rude, crude humor served straight up and dirty by an all-star indie theater cast featuring Hope Cartelli, Fred Backus, Bryan Enk, Trav S.D., Kamran Khan, Robert Pinnock, Art Wallace, Christiaan Koop, and myself. Babylon director Jeff Lewonczyk supervised the mayhem, and a loose and sweaty time was had by all.

Next followed the opening of Q & A: The Perception of Dawn, a comedy conceived by fellow Babylonians Gyda Arber and Danny Bowes, who also co-star along with Rebecca Comtois, Jorge Cordova, and Ken Simon. The premise is simple: we play the volatile cast and crew of an indie movie that we’re promoting at a post-screening Q & A session that goes horribly, horribly wrong. Great fun so far, and our opening night crowd was very appreciative (which is just another way of saying they were laughing their fucking asses off). We even shot a ridiculous faux-trailer for the movie which you can see here.

And if that wasn’t enough, yesterday I started rehearsals for my next endeavor: Boomerang Theatre Company’s outdoor production of As You Like It, by none other than Mr. Willy Shakespeare. I’m happily reunited with fellow Blood Brothers alumni Matt Johnston and Jessi Gotta on this one, as well as Ms. Rebecca Comtois, and looking forward to my first partnership with fellow nytheatre.com colleague Matt Trumbull and the good folks at Boomerang.

So, I’ve been doing all of that.

Right near the tail end of Babylon, I also got sucked into a time-consuming temp job that prevented any daytime blogging at all. With my evenings and weekends taken up with rehearsals, it was difficult to find any time to sit down and blog at length. So I just took a couple of weeks off.

The time off has been good, and has given me much to think about, starting with the time-sucking temp job. What was supposed to be a three-month gig was cut short by two months after the woman I was assisting griped to H.R. about me. She didn’t like the way I was doing things (even though the work was getting done), and that’s fine. So I left unceremoniously a couple of weeks ago, and have been gleefully sitting at home ever since. I really love not working, except for the fact that it doesn’t pay.

But it got me thinking that maybe the abrupt end of my temp job was really a good thing. Because, honestly, I’ve been doing office work as a means of survival for eleven years now, and I am over it. With every passing day I temped for the good doctor, I began to think more and more, “Man, I am no one’s fucking little office bitch anymore. When this job’s over, I am through with this!”

And now I am through with it. I haven’t contacted any of my temp agencies to let them know I’m available. I haven’t gone looking for another permanent job, either. I know I’ll have to do something, in the short term, but I’ve decided to re-focus my energies on more theater-related matters.

That’s right, folks: I’m gonna try to get paid doing what I love and enjoy. Imagine that.

I’ve got a multitude of ideas running around in my head, some of which concern this blog, all of which involve getting paid for theater/artistic-type stuff. Every time I put a significant effort into landing an office gig, I got one without fail. So, now I’m gonna try to put a significant effort into landing…oh, I don’t know – say, a paid acting gig.

The Impossible Dream, you say? Maybe. But, I’m going for it anyway.

Needless to say, I’m going to keep you updated on my progress. In fact, I may be using this very blog to forward my progress. The ideas aren’t crystallized yet, but they’re getting there. More news to follow soon people. Stay tuned.

reasons to be pretty Review

June 6, 2008

reasons to be pretty

Last week I had the opportunity to go see Neil LaBute‘s newest play, reasons to be pretty, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. I’m a big fan of LaBute’s, and always enjoy going to see his stuff. As usual, I was not disappointed. Both the author and MCC Theater (where LaBute is playwright-in-residence) deliver the goods yet again. Here’s the opening paragraph of my review for nytheatre.com:

Late in Act II of Neil LaBute’s terrific new play, reasons to be pretty, Greg, the hapless protagonist, laments, ‘Oh God, I never say the right thing.’ Which is funny considering the scandalously inappropriate things the author’s characters have said over the years. As often as LaBute has ruffled audience feathers, it’s only because he speaks uncomfortable truths. In that regard, reasons to be pretty is no different from his other works. This time he faces up to those truths himself.”

You can read the rest of my review here.

If you’re interested in reading what else I’ve written about LaBute previously, you can check out this, this, and this. Enjoy.