“Tick, Tick … Boom” slaps the hands of time

By Rod Stafford Hagwood

The musical “Tick, Tick … Boom!” gets an outrageously good workout by the Outre Theatre Company in Boca Raton.

The blazing talent of the cast and brisk direction by Skye Whitcomb turn what could have been a series of cliches into a smart and smooth production that moves with purpose through about 90 minutes with no intermission, hitting just about every sweet spot in the script along the way.

Read the rest of the review here.

 

If you loved ‘Rent’ see ‘tick tick BOOM!” in Boca Raton at Outre Theatre Company

by Richard Cameron from The Examiner

South Florida Theatre lovers now is your chance to see Jonathan Larson’s “tick tick BOOM! ” Any musical theatre student or theatre lover who knows “Rent‘ should see the very first musical that really inspired “Rent“! Outre Theatre Company’s mission states theatre should be raw, visceral, thought-provoking and action-inducing, well they are right on point with there brave new choices in musicals, that have not been shared with Florida theatre audiences.

Read the rest of the review here

Outre Stages Solid Outing Of Larson’s tick, tick…BOOM!

Review By Bill Hirschman

If Jonathan Larson had lived, he would be 53 years old. But the legacy of Rent’s composer/lyricist remains two works that laser-target the timeless angst of young adults struggling to preserve their ideals in a pragmatic world demanding compromise.

Outré Theatre Company, itself a fledgling troupe of young adults striving for a creative and financial footing, has mounted a smooth and solid production of Larson’s other produced work, the semi-autobiographical rock musical tick, tick…BOOM!

Read the rest of the review here

“An Iliad” – The Around Town Review

Outre’s An Iliad electrifies the stage

by Jesse Leaf

This isn’t THE Iliad, it is AN Iliad, and what an Iliad it is. Avi Hoffman delivers an electrifying performance as a hardened war correspondent covering the Trojan War, which turned out to be one war too many.  After he reports on the outsized characters in the Greek epic who die outsized deaths in outsized battles, he puts that conflict in historic context, reeling off the wars mankind has fought through the ages. Soon, he crosses that dangerous line separating his humanity from objective observer.  It is a devastating onstage moment as Hoffman almost physically shrinks under the onslaught of our insane and bloody history, crying out not for the unfathomable waste of people and treasure, but for the individual kids from small towns and large cities who have lost their future and their contributions to humanity. Just your everyday youth erased by forces bigger than themselves.

The intertwining of the abattoir of war with ancient Greek beliefs is brilliant. Why are wars fought? In fear that the blame would be laid at the doorstop of the ruling elite, the Greeks invented a panoply of imperfect gods – jealous, thoughtless, envious, petty – and dumped the blame on them. We humans are pawns in their games – and games they actually are to the gods who plant seeds of discontent and then sit back and watch the fun, taking one side or the other, in a sort of cosmic video game. This is a much more interesting explanation of the dynamics of civilization than any we’ve ever come up with.

To backtrack, Hoffman plays the part of The Poet, a wandering minstrel who tells the story of Troy (also called Iliam, thus the title) and Greece, and the protracted and devastating war between them. The Poet is clothed in the modern dress of a journalist, with khaki pants and indentifying ID cards hanging from his neck. His stage is an area outside the walls of Troy, a set artfully designed by scenic designer Sean McClelland.  There is untold history in this set; flanked by two massive walls is the discarded effluvium of war – cartridge cases, gas containers, cable spools, splintered wood mixed with pieces of destroyed furniture, and an old radio. The future is the past as we are lead to the conclusion that war knows no cessation, it is an unbroken continuum.

This great maelstrom of past and present conflict is further reflected in the play’s constant melding of time to make a point. Hoffman’s assimilation in a dual time milieu is so complete that when he emphasizes some point or another using modern examples, we are acceptingly transported, drawn into the dual milieu effortlessly. So we immediately understand when he likens the inner rage and blood-lust of a Greek warrior to what we feel on the highway when we are cut off by a lunatic driver, or when somebody on the supermarket line cuts in. We are all capable of homicidal rage, whether we are defending a walled city in ancient Greece, or living suburban lives in Ft. Lauderdale.

Without so much as a mock helmet or spear, Hoffman creates in your mind’s eye the sights, sounds, and even the smells of an ancient battlefield, suddenly making war a reality, a close personal experience. The idea is to build a relatable empathy for the moment when the narrative is backed by a series of projected background photographs of war victims at the play’s searingly dramatic conclusion. We graphically see that the child in a Syrian hospital is brother under the skin to a Greek warrior who fought and died in the dust of a battlefield three millennia ago.  This, my friend, is theater incarnate.

That said, An Iliad is not so much a political anti-war message, as an argument that blood conflict is built into our DNA, exactly like the transference of blame to the Greek gods who control us as a way of passing time. For if the megaheroes of Homer flail helplessly before the gods, what fault can we find in our daily battles with people who exhibit sociopathic acts with seeming unconcern or, worse, pride? Homer’s warriors are bogged down in hubris, by definition a destructive fault, but it is an engine of action without which there would be no Iliad. But also no war.

A solo show makes special demands on a theater company. It has to maintain interest with few aides from cast, scenery, lighting, sound. I give five stars to Outre’s talented cast of backstage staff: Director Skye Whitcomb choreographed Avi Hoffman’s movement between and around the castoffs of war with fluid grace. Sound designer Danny Butler finessed a background that was this close to subliminal and so powerfully effective. Stefanie Howard’s lighting was ever-changing with split-second timing and a lot more complicated than she will get audience credit for. So here’s credit.

You owe it to yourselves and your relatives and your friends to gather together and see this production – you will not soon forget it.

“An Iliad” – The Miami Artzine Review

An Iliad

by Roger Martin

Hey boys and girls, moms and dads! Anyone want to be an actor? Lead a life of riches, glamor and excitement? Great, then scoot right on up to Boca Raton and watch Avi Hoffman in An Iliad. Ninety minutes in Outré Theatre with Avi and you’ll learn it all. Fame awaits.

It’s a one man show, An Iliad, and a terrific show it is. Avi Hoffman is Homer, regaling the audience with this updated version of the classic tale of the siege of Troy. And of course you all remember how that went, Paris stealing Helen from the King of Sparta, thoroughly ticking off the Greeks who then spent ten years trying to get her back. Hero versus Hero, God versus God. Cue the carnage.

So in this updated version by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson, Hoffman is dressed and booted in quasi battle fatigues, unshaven and exhausted, becoming the heroes, telling their tales, strutting the stage, killing and lamenting.

This is a timeless piece, performed 3000 years ago and, in this version, still very much alive, vibrant and utterly intriguing. As Hoffman speaks, voice overs and sound fx delineate the battles old and new and videos flash upstage but nothing detracts from Hoffman’s performance. It’s a rare actor who can enthrall an audience with tales of endless violence and the utter stupidity of war, but Hoffman does this, not with ease but with his belief in himself and the characters into whom he disappears. Hoffman drags us onto the blood stained beaches and before the battlements of ancient Troy and we are there, completely, as Achilles destroys Hector and the gods weave their petty plots. An acting lesson, indeed.

The set by Sean McClelland is a red stained multi-level rendering of the detritus of war, the battlefield and the battlement. It’s well done and effective but seems almost too large for the performance. It reaches far upstage and when Hoffman is up there he is far from the audience. Six inch risers rather than eight inch hinder the sight lines. This is not the fault of Outré but rather that of the theatre designers. So be warned, when you go to see An Iliad, and you most certainly should, go for the front few rows.

Hoffman is excellent from any seat in the house but if you’re close to him you can see the subtleties, the glint of an eye, the lapse of a lip, his true sense of being, that contribute so much to his performance.

Well and imaginatively directed by Skye Whitcomb, An Iliad is a piece that requires attention but offers myriad rewards. It’s a brave choice for a relatively new theatre, the artistic over the commercial, and it’s a choice to be applauded. Well done, Avi Hoffman and Outré Theatre.

The rest of the production team: sound designer Danny Butler, lighting designer Stefanie Howard and assistant director/stage manager Sabrina Lynn Gore.

“An Iliad” – the Florida Theater On Stage Review

Avi Hoffman Leads Harrowing “An Iliad” Reboot at Outre

by John Thomason

To a soundtrack of exploding missiles and news dispatches from modern wars, a lone, grizzled man enters what appears to be a bombed-out rampart. The corpses have been removed but the rest of the castle is a mangle of crushed chairs, broken stanchions and strings of unused bullets. This man is Avi Hoffman; he’s dressed like a casual war correspondent from no particular war, a lanyard around his neck and a guitar case slung over his shoulder. He starts muttering to himself in Greek, then kindly asks a front-row theatergoer for the program of the show he happens to be starring in.

So begins the hour and forty minutes of Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s An Iliad, a breathtaking solo show from Boca Raton’s Outre Theatre Company that exhumes Homer’s dramatization of the mythological Trojan War in terms we all can understand. There is colloquial language, modern-day references, video projection and audience interaction – even, occasionally, humor.

To this day, I’ve not read The Iliad. Presumably, this is because I was never assigned it in high school or college, and it always seemed like one of those chiseled-in-marble literary landmarks, like Beowulf or The Inferno, that one doesn’t read voluntarily. There must be a purpose behind all those hours suffering with the gods and warriors, in those 24 roman numeraled books written in dactylic hexameter. Luckily, in this case, knowledge of the source material is beside the point. This, after all, as An Iliad, not TheIliad, and it’s written with the literary laymen in mind.

It starts off slowly and incoherently, with Hoffman, credited simply as “the poet,” stalling for time, burying his own lede. Apparently, the poet is on tour with this whole Iliad thing, and he references previous shows: Alexandria was a tough crowd, but he killed at Gaul. This performance doesn’t appear to be going smoothly; he strums a few ragged bars of a country song on his guitar, then abandons it and very quickly takes to the three bottles of liquor housed in his knapsack, while trying to convey the magnitude of the Trojan War, or the role of the Greek gods in everyday emotions, or something like that.

Struggling for a connection – with us, or with some higher power – he tries repeatedly to summon his muses, but his cries fall on deaf ears.
Eventually, though, aided by the alcohol, our host manages to find his footing as a storyteller, and the result is absolutely spellbinding. Adopting a dozen or so voices – for Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, Hermes, Patroclus, et al, as well his own, objective narrator – Hoffman elucidates Homer’s epic for us in propless but vivid details: a graphic novel come to life in our imagination, a Cliff’s Notes Iliad complete with analysis of the text. Part enthusiastic schoolteacher, part desperate messenger of mythological mayhem in a world overrun by real war, Hoffman’s performance oscillates between complete command of his historical subject and anguished aphasia, often breaking down from the sheer intensity of the harrowing scenes.

Hoffman is no stranger to one-man shows, having penned a trilogy of them for himself, beginning with his award-winning Too Jewish?No solo show could rightfully be called “easy,” but this play is in another league, an impossibly demanding exercise in memorization and endurance, directed imaginatively by Skye Whitcomb. In a calorie-burning performance, Hoffman runs Sisyphean circles around the stage, bounds steps, balances on planks of wood, dodges invisible spears, pounces on his victims like a feral animal, and dies a couple of times. In the process, he runs an emotional gamut, exuding the joy of victory, the absurdity of war, the rage of revenge and the bloodshed of its result.

He fills his oration with pregnant pauses, and there’s always a sense that maybe the next line has slipped his mind. But of course not – he’s simply too tormented to go on, or he’s waiting for words that never come, because no mere words can appropriately convey the brutality of infants smashed into mush or corpses dragged through war zones until they are no longer recognizable. Hoffman’s work here is, in a word, flawless – the best I’ve seen him in my eight years as a theater critic.

Outre’s An Iliad is a minimalist show only to a point; it swims feverishly in theatrical artifice. Stefanie Howard’s lighting design is a rainbow of emotional connection, bathing the stage in a blood-red whenever a god gets angry, basking Hoffman in a triumphal golden glow when appropriate and employing a chilly blue for a death scene. Danny Butler’s soundscape contributes just the right amount of clashing swords, crashing waves, howling winds and echo effects without distracting us from Hoffman’s performance. And Sean McLelland’s scenic design is a desiccated playground of discarded and decaying material, abstract enough to suggest any particular war.

Which is really the point of An Iliad, after all. War is war is war, and it really sucks for everyone involved, whether it’s mythological Greek warriors, combat troops in World War II or rebels in the current Syrian Civil War. In the play’s centerpiece, a rapid-fire audiovisual montage rattles off the names of every war in history, with images to back them up and Hoffman clutching his head an agony with the name of each decimated nation. It’s an exhilarating example of pure theater and this show’s icing on its emotional cake.

If, like me, you were disappointed in Outre’s initial offering, The Wild Party, last fall, don’t miss this one; it marks this company’s emergence as a major player in the South Florida theater community.

An Iliad, starring Avi Hoffman

“Harrowing…breathtaking…an exhilarating example of pure theatre” – John Thomason, Florida Theater On Stage

“Vibrant and utterly intriguing…we are there, completely” – Roger Martin, Miami Artzine

“Electrifying…devastating…this, my friend, is theater incarnate” – Jesse Leaf, Around Town

Outré Theatre Company is proud to announce its sophomore production, Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson’s Obie Award-winning one-man show An Iliad, starring Avi Hoffman. Returning Homer’s classic to where it originated – the words of the Poet, speaking directly to an audience – An Iliad brings alive the struggle between Achilles and Hector, the battle and fall of Troy, and the beautiful woman who caused it all.

Outré’s production of An Iliad stars Avi Hoffman, the well-known and well-respected South Florida actor/director whose accolades and nominations include the LA Ovation Awards, the NY Drama Desk, the NY Outer Critics Circle, and South Florida’s own Carbonell Awards. Hoffman plays the Poet, bringing to life Homer’s timeless characters such as Achilles, Hector, Helen, and Priam.

The production will be directed by Skye Whitcomb, Outré’s Artistic Director. Sabrina Lynn Gore will assistant direct, with set design by Sean McClelland and lighting design by Stefanie Howard.

An Iliad will be performed at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center, 201 Plaza Real in Boca Raton, Florida. The production opens April 5, 2013, and runs through April 21, 2013. Performances are Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. There will be no 7:00 pm performance on Sunday, April 14.

Please click  HERE purchase tickets.

‘The Wild Party’ review on Talkin Broadway

By John Lariviere

The Outre Theatre Company opens its inaugural season with the musical The Wild Party featuring book, lyrics, and music by Andrew Lippa. The musical is based on a narrative poem of the same name written by Joseph Moncure March in 1928. Like the poem, the musical tells the tale of two vaudeville performers named Queenie and Burrs who live a decadent life of indulgence. They decide to have one of their parties complete with the couple’s eclectic mix of eccentric and self-absorbed friends. Fueled by passion, regret, drugs and alcohol, the party unfolds into a night they will long remember.

Read more of John’s review for Talkin Broadway, here.

 

 

Outre Theatre’s First Show Is Challenging ‘The Wild Party

By Bill Hirschman

Some troupes ease into existence with a modest, surefire and frugal first full production. Not Outré Theater Company.

South Florida’s newest professional company bows Friday with Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. The 200close0 off-Broadway cult hit combines a brilliant but edgy Jazz Age score with a jet black story of self-destructive hedonists in the 1920s who indulge in virtually every vice imaginable.

The music is artistically challenging to perform, the piece needs a relatively large cast and band, and this isn’t Andrew Lloyd Webber, let alone Lerner & Loewe.

Outré would have it no other way, said Skye Whitcomb, artistic director and co-founder of the troupe with Managing Director Nori Tecosky.

Read  more of Bill’s feature on Wild Party, here.

The Wild Party is a kinky move for a new company

By Richard Cameron

Outre Theatre Company presents the bravest musical yet, from any South Florida theatre company. The Wild Party is a kinky move, especially for a new theatre company. And everyone knows sex sells!”

Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party is playing November 24, 2012 through December 2, 2012 at Mizner Park Cultural Center located at 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, Florida 33432. For tickets call 954-300-2149 or visit www.outretheatrecompany.com.

Artistic Director Skye Whitcomb has chosen one of the most talked about musicals of this generation. Although the musical takes place in 1926. The Wild Party was inspired by Joseph Moncure March’s poem. The same brutal, destructive lifestyles are as visible today, as they were in 1920’s. But, they may have had more sex, lies, drugs without the video tapes.

Read the rest of Richard Camerons review for The Examiner, here.