Saturday, April 23, 2016

Satter's Half Straddle rocks out at New York Live Arts

Playwright/director Tina Satter
of Half Straddle

The lights go down at New York Live Arts, and a big WHOOP goes up from the audience.

Yeah, it's not a dance show.

It's Ghost Rings, the latest theater piece from Tina Satter's Obie-winning Half Straddle troupe, and her fans are pumped.

Commissioned by NYLA, Ghost Rings takes the form of a pop rock concert featuring a made-up band credible enough to be a real band. Performers include actor/singers Erin Markey (deep into her being and as compelling as ever) and Kristen Sieh; keyboardist/backup singer Chris Giarmo; and Satter, herself, narrating, singing and drumming. (Satter learned to drum to perform in this piece.) Markey and Giarmo share credit for composing the music. Half the time, I had no idea what anybody was singing about--my hastily-scrawled lyrics notes might only confuse you--but they sounded fantastic, funky and passionate, and that's all that mattered to me. Rock on!

Driven by music and movement, the piece looks back on Satter's childhood closeness with her sister (now estranged) and their fantasies of having a band. For some reason, there are two animal spirit guides in the mix--adorable seal and deer puppets manipulated and voiced by the lead singers. These charming creatures appear to shyly dip into risky territory best friends Samantha (Markey) and Shawna (Sieh) otherwise avoid. The force of the music and vocals and the sweetness of the interactions with the deer and "Sealy" give Ghost Rings a heartfelt impact.

Ghost Rings continues through Sunday, April 24 and returns April 26-30 with all performances at 7:30pm. On April 28, there will be a Stay-Late Discussion moderated by Kate Valk. For information and tickets, click here.

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Manhattan

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