Sunday, September 13, 2009

POWERHOUSE (with puppets), Act II

The New York Fringe Festival production Powerhouse, a freewheeling take on Raymond Scott's life and music, gets an extended life. Four additional performances will be staged Sept 19-21 as part of Fringe Encore, which features the best 19 (out of 200+) shows from the August festival. Ticket and venue details about the show are here. We blogged about the show on August 17, with rave reviews linked at the bottom. Here's another.

I hadn't seen the show at the time, and later attended one of the final performances of the limited run. The bravos are deserved. Powerhouse the musical, like its novelty namesake, doesn't have a dull moment. It's cleverly constructed and staged at a dizzying pace. For a production featuring real people (and two hand puppets), it might as well be animated. You'll learn a bit about Scott, and be hugely entertained in the process. If you consider yourself even a modest Scott authority, ignore the factual inaccuracies in the chronicle. I told writer Josh Luxenberg and director Jon Levin after the show that it was riddled with historical errors—and that I wouldn't change a word in the script. It's a Raymond Scott fantasia. The cast (six, each playing multiple roles) is charismatic, with physical gestures and facial expressions that match the pacing. At the Festival's closing ceremony, they received an award for "Outstanding Ensemble."

Raymond Scott's widow, Mitzi, is 91 and lives in Southern California. She will be flying to New York next weekend to attend the Sunday matinee, where she will behold herself portrayed onstage by the vivacious Clare McNulty. Twenty years ago, such an event would have seemed unlikely, if not unthinkable.

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