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OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS WINNERS

2008 – 2009

OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS

The Outer Critics Circle Award Winners were announced Today.

The awards ceremony will take place on May 21, 2009.

 

 

 

 

THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN won the Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Award (David Pearse).

 

 

GOD OF CARNAGE has won Outstanding New Broadway Play and Outstanding Actress in a Play (Marcia Gay Harden).

 

 

EXIT THE KING has won Outstanding Actor in a Play (Geoffrey Rush).

 

 

HUMOR ABUSE’s Lorenzo Pisoni has won Outstanding Solo Performance.

 

 

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS has won Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Director of a Play (Matthew Warchus) and Outstanding Ensemble Performance (Amelia Bullmore, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Mangan, Ben Miles, Paul Ritter, Amanda Root).

 

 

RUINED won the Outstanding Off-Broadway Play.

 

 

SHREK THE MUSICAL has won Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Brian d’Arcy James), Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Sutton Foster), Outstanding Set Design (Tim Hatley), Outstanding Costume Design (Tim Hatley).

 

 

 

 

TO READ THE COMPLETE LIST OF NOMINEES, VISIT: http://www.outercritics.org/Awards.aspx

HIGHLIGHTS OF A STAR-FILLED 08-09 BROADWAY SEASON

2008-2009 Broadway Season Officially Ends

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF AN HISTORIC STAR-FILLED YEAR,

PACKED WITH PLAYS,  INCLUDES: 

 

The Seagull • A Man For All Seasons •  To Be Or Not To Be • All My Sons • White Christmas 

 Shrek •  Pal Joey •  Soul of Shaolin•  The American Plan  • Hedda Gabler •  33 Variations 

God Of Carnage •  Impressionism •  Exit The King • Mary Stuart •  The Norman Conquests 

The Philanthropist • Accent on Youth •  Waiting for Godot 

 

as well as the stars:

Joan Allen •  Matthew Broderick •  Stockard Channing    Jeff Daniels   Hope Davis

Jane Fonda    Sutton Foster   James Gandolfini •  John Glover •  John Goodman

Colin Hanks   Marcia Gay Harden • Katie Holmes   Jeremy Irons  •  Bill Irwin

Brian d’Arcy James   Nathan Lane •   Frank Langella John Lithgow   Samantha Mathis

Jan Maxwell   Janet McTeer •  Mary Loiuse Parker    David Hyde Pierce

Lily Rabe  David Rasche   Matthew Risch     Mercedes Ruehl    Geoffrey Rush

Susan Sarandon •  Peter Sarsgaard   Christopher Sieber  Kristin Scott Thomas

Harriet Walter • Steven Weber •  Dianne Wiest   Patrick Wilson

 

Visit the link below for a 2.5 minute glance back at the stars and shows this season

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ1ZH2TZNT8

 

 

Here are some highlights from the season. 

 

This was one of the busiest, starriest and eclectic Broadway seasons in years, featuring productions and performances that will make it one to remember.   Starting in October with The Seagull starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Sarsgaard, through last night’s Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Waiting for Godot starring Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman and John Glover, 43 productions have opened on Broadway, including 10 new musicals, nine new plays, four musical revivals, 16 play revivals and five “special events.” 

 

Fall kicked off with the Royal Court’s acclaimed production of Chekhov’s The Seagull directed Ian Rickson, examining the romantic entanglements and regrets of a group of artists gathered on a Russian estate. 

 

Roundabout Theatre Company began autumn exploring politics, religion and power with Frank Langella in A Man for All Seasons directed by Doug Hughes, and wrapped up 2008 with Stockard Channing , Martha Plimpton  and Matthew Risch in Pal Joey, directed by Joe Mantello.  Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler starring Mary Louise Parker rang in the new year at Roundabout, in an adaptation by Christopher Shinn.

 

 

Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, asked audiences to reexamine the costs of war when it returned to Broadway this fall, directed by Simon McBurney and starring John Lithgow, Patrick Wilson, Dianne Wiest and Katie Holmes. 

 

Snow fell early on Broadway when Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, a new stage adaptation of the classic film, opened in November starring Stephen Bogardus, Kerry O’Malley, Jeffry Denman and Meredith Patterson, featuring direction by Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie and choreography by Randy Skinner.

 

The Great White Way saw green in December when Shrek The Musical landed at the Broadway Theatre starring Brian d’Arcy James as the loveable ogre and Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona. Also starring Daniel Breaker, Christopher Sieber and John Tartaglia, the new musical is directed by Jason Moore and written by David Lindsay Abaire (book & lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (musical) with choreography by Josh Prince.   Flying monks were spotted a few blocks south when Soul of Shaolin played a limited run at the Minskoff.

 

Manhattan Theatre Club opened their season with To Be Or Not to Be, directed by Casey Nicholaw and began the new year in the Catskill Mountains of the 1960s with Richard Greenberg’s The American Plan starring Mercedes Ruehl and Lily Rabe.  They wrapped up their season with Samuel Raphaelson’s on-and-off stage love story, Accent on Youth starring David Hyde Pierce and directed by Daniel Sullivan.

 

This spring, Jane Fonda returned to Broadway after 46 years to confront an obsession with Beethoven and to settle with her on stage daughter played by Samantha Mathis in Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations, alongside Colin Hanks and Zach Grenier.  Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden tried to make nice (and failed) in Yasmina Reza’s comedy God of Carnage directed by Matthew Warchus.  Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen returned to Broadway after long absences to star in Michael Jacobs’ examination of art and love in Impressionism, directed by Tony Award-winner Jack O’Brien.

 

Fictitious monarchs Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon, and Lauren Ambrose – and unappreciated servant Andrea Martin – added their regal presence to the Rialto in Eugene Ionesco’s Exit the King under the direction of Broadway newcomer Neil Armfield.  Historic British royalty was welcomed when Harriet Walter and Janet McTeer took to the stage in the Donmar Warehouse production of Mary Stuart, directed by Phyllida Lloyd.  And The Norman Conquests, Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy, showcased a somewhat more middle class group of Brits, helmed by the busy Matthew Warchus.

 

Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist , directed by David Grindley and starring Matthew Broderick and Steven Weber, looked at the empty, insular lives of college intellectuals.  Appropriately closing the season is Samuel Beckett’s historic Waiting for Godot starring Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman and John Glover, and directed by Anthony Page.  It tells of two seemingly homeless men waiting for someone or something to explain life’s meaning – which, of course, never shows up.  Vladimir and Estragon might be relieved to know that as of yesterday, this year’s season has arrived at its end.

 

Please visit the link below for a 2.5 minute long glance back at the stars and shows this season  www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ1ZH2TZNT8

 

 

#  #  #  # 

 

2008-2009 OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD NOMINATIONS

2008-2009 OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD NOMINATIONS

 

Nominations for the 59th annual Outer Critics Circle Awards, celebrating excellence in Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre, were announced this morning.

 

 

 

33 VARIATIONS has been nominated for five Outer Critics Circle Awards including: Outstanding New Broadway Play (Moisés Kaufman), Outstanding Director of a Play (Moisés Kaufman), Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Zach Grenier), Outstanding Set Design (Derek McLane) and Outstanding Lighting Design (David Lander).

 

 

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS has been nominated for one Outer Critic’s Circle Award including: Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Patrick Page).

 

 

BODY AWARENESS has received a John Gassner Award nomination for playwright Annie Baker.

 

 

THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN has received three nominations, including Outstanding Revival of a Play (Broadway or Off-Broadway), Outstanding Director of a Play (Garry Hynes), and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (David Pearse).

 

 

EXIT THE KING by Eugene Ionesco has been nominated for two Outer Critics Circle Awards, including: Outstanding Actor in a Play (Geoffrey Rush), and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Andrea Martin). The production is directed by Neil Armfield.

 

 

FARRAGUT NORTH has received two nominations: Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play and the John Gassner Award (Beau Willimon).

 

 

GOD OF CARNAGE by Yasmina Reza has been nominated for two Outer Critics Circle Awards, including: Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Actress in a play (Marcia Gay Harden). The production is directed by Matthew Warchus.

 

 

HUMOR ABUSE, which just concluded its extended run at MTC, has received a nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance (Lorenzo Pisoni).

 

 

MARY STUART has been nominated for three Outer Critics Circle Awards: Outstanding Actress in a Play (Janet McTeer, Harriet Walter) and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (John Benjamin Hickey).

 

 

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS has been nominated for two Outer Critics Circle Awards: Outstanding Revival of a Play and Outstanding Director of a Play (Matthew Warchus).  The production has won an award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance for the cast (Amelia Bullmore, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Mangan, Ben Miles, Paul Ritter, Amanda Root).

 

 

PAL JOEY has been nominated for two Outer Critics Circle Awards including: Outstanding Revival of a Musical and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Martha Plimpton).

 

 

RUINED, currently at Manhattan Theatre Club, has received five Outer Critics Circle Award nominations: Outstanding Off-Broadway Play, Outstanding Lead Actress (Saidah Arrika Ekulona), Outstanding Featured Actor (Russell G. Jones), Outstanding Featured Actress (Condola Rashad), and Outstanding Lighting Design (Peter Kaczorowski).

 

 

SHREK THE MUSICAL has been nominated for 10 Outer Critics Circle Awards, including: Outstanding New Broadway Musical, Outstanding New Score (David Lindsay-Abaire & Jeanine Tesori), Outstanding Director of a Musical (Jason Moore), Outstanding Choreographer (Josh Prince), Outstanding Set Design (Tim Hatley), Outstanding Costume Design (Tim Hatley), Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Brian d’Arcy James), Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Sutton Foster), Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Daniel Breaker), Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Christopher Sieber).

 

 

WAITING FOR GODOT has been nominated for five Outer Critics Circle Awards including: Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Actor in a Play (Bill Irwin & Nathan Lane) Outstanding Director of a Play (Anthony Page) and Outstanding Set Design

(Santo Loquasto).

 

 

WHAT’S THAT SMELL? THE MUSIC OF JACOB STERLING has received two nominations, for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical and Outstanding Actor in a Musical (David Pittu).

 

 

ATLANTIC THEATER COMPANY productions have been honored with eight nominations: including three for THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN, two for FARRUGUT NORTH, two for WHAT’S THAT SMELL? THE MUSIC OF JACOB STERLING and one for BODY AWARENESS

 

 

MANHATAN THEATRE CLUB productions have been honored with six Outer Critics Circle nominations: RUINED, received five nominations, the most nominations for an Off-Broadway show; and one nomination for HUMOR ABUSE

 

 

ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY productions have been honored with eight nominations including five for WAITING FOR GODOT, two for PAL JOEY, and one for A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS.

 

 

TO READ THE COMPLETE LIST OF NOMINEES, VISIT:  http://tinyurl.com/crfaja

MTC ANNOUNCES EXTENTIONS FOR RUINED AND HUMOR ABUSE

MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB

ANNOUNCES EXTENSIONS

FOR BOTH OF THEIR ACCLAIMED PRODUCTIONS

AT NEW YORK CITY CENTER

 


RUINED

EXTENDS FOR A THIRD TIME

AT STAGE I

 

HUMOR ABUSE

EXTENDS THROUGH APRIL 19

AT STAGE II

“RUINED is the kind of play we desperately need – a crackling thriller

with humor, plot twists, and lots of humanity.”

– David Cote, NY1

 

“HUMOR ABUSE packs a thousand laughs and

a dozen pulls at the heart strings into a very swift 75 minutes.”

– Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News

 

Manhattan Theatre Club is proud to announce extensions for both of the world premiere shows the institution is producing at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street): RUINED and HUMOR ABUSE.

 

RUINED, the acclaimed new play by playwright Lynn Nottage with direction by Kate Whoriskey, has been extended through Sunday, May 3 at Stage I. This marks the third extension at Stage I for the Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre critically acclaimed co-production.

 

HUMOR ABUSE, the new one-man-show created by Lorenzo Pisoni and Erica Schmidt, has been extended for one week at Stage II. Tickets are now on sale through Sunday, April 19. The production, starring Pisoni and featuring direction by Schmidt, opened last week and has been hailed by New York critics.

 

TICKETING INFORMATION

  • Tickets for both RUINED and HUMOR ABUSE are available via New York City Center Box Office (131 West 55th Street), CityTix® (212-581-1212) and www.nycitycenter.org.
  • Tickets for RUINED are $75.
  • Tickets for HUMOR ABUSE are $52.

# # # #

 

www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com      

HUMOR ABUSE RECEIVES RAVE REVIEW FROM BLOOMBERG NEWS

The MTC world premiere of HUMOR ABUSE opened Tuesday at New York City Center – Stage II and has been praised by critics.

 

Below is today’s Bloomberg News review by Jeremy Gerard.

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=ak.4J6o598Rs&refer=muse

 

Clown Batters Body for Laughs, Reveals Family Secrets: Review

Review by Jeremy Gerard

March 13 (Bloomberg) — “Humor Abuse” is a one-man show spiked with pratfalls, juggling and some exceptionally funny clowning around. Running on Manhattan Theatre Club’s smaller stage at New York’s City Center, it’s also Lorenzo Pisoni’s ingenious, true tale of a son’s hard-won liberation from an overbearing father, a clown in public who was dead serious in private.

Beginning in the 1970s, the San Francisco-based Pickle Family Circus toured the region and then the country as its popularity grew. It even spawned two of the country’s best-known modern clowns: Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle. Among other things, the show is an inside look at what came to be called New Comedy.

The inspiration behind the company’s classic antics was Larry Pisoni, an American-born performer who found his soul in Italian commedia dell’arte and little theater (“piccolo teatro,” which became Pickle).

Inevitably, Lorenzo followed in his father’s baggy-pants and floppy-shoes footsteps. “Humor Abuse” is Lorenzo’s aptly, if horribly, titled memoir of a boy who began performing in a gorilla suit at age 2, was handed a performance contract by his parents at 6 and had learned the tricks of the trade by 10.

Larry creates Lorenzo in his own image and for a time they work together, much to the delight of audiences. Eventually, however, Lorenzo becomes his own clown and then his own man.

If Irwin and Hoyle twisted the old gimmicks into modern forms, Pisoni stayed truer to tradition. He’s utterly endearing, whether folding himself into a steamer trunk, diving off a very high ladder into a tiny pail or cajoling audience members into making fools of themselves.

Sweat, Blood

He also reveals the sweat, tears and sometimes blood behind the comedy.

“Larry’s busted open his chin, cracked his ribs, dislocated his shoulder, broken his hand, pulled his groin, broken both legs, sprained both ankles and broken both feet — all in the pursuit of laughs,” the son says, adding that, chief among the things he inherited from his father was “his anger.” He’s not kidding about the “abuse” half of his title. Being clowns never made them a particularly happy family.

Pisoni, blessed not only with rubber limbs and matinee-idol looks, created the show with his sensitive director, Erica Schmidt. They pack a thousand laughs and a dozen tugs at the heartstrings into a very swift 75 minutes.

Through April 12 at 131 W. 55th St. Information: +1-212- 581-1212; http://www.mtc-nyc.org.

 

 

HUMOR ABUSE OPENS TO GLOWING REVIEWS

MTC’S

HUMOR ABUSE

OPENS TO GLOWING REVIEWS

 

“BREATHTAKING.”

– Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

 

The Manhattan Theatre Club world premiere production of HUMOR ABUSE, the new one-man-show created by Lorenzo Pisoni (Equus, Last Dance) and Erica Schmidt (Debbie Does Dallas), has been hailed by New York critics.

 

The production, currently playing at New York City Center – Stage II (131 West 55th Street) stars Pisoni, and is directed by Schmidt.

 

Below is a sampling of what critics are saying about the show:

 

“Lorenzo Pisoni’s performance is breathtaking. With director Erica Schmidt, Pisoni has created an endearing stage memoir with a novel twist. He juggles, he performs pratfalls, he dodges sandbags. He certainly has a fresh angle.”

  • Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

 

“Funny, poignant, and inspired. Lorenzo Pisoni is utterly delightful. Pisoni and director Erica Schmidt pack a thousand laughs and a dozen tugs at the heartstrings into a very swift 75 minutes.”

  • Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News

 

“Entertaining and surprisingly moving. A remarkable memoir. Humor Abuse transcends the traditional show-biz saga to become a more universal tale. It becomes a heartfelt story of a son looking for what makes his father tick.”

  • Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press

 

“Surprising, funny, and entirely theatrical. Other solo performers take note: you can describe your troubled childhood, but can you do it with balloons?”

  • Sam Thielman,Variety

 

“3 ½ STARS (OUT OF 4). A charming and moving tribute. Lorenzo Pisoni is a performer of charisma and charm with the split-second timing and aplomb of Buster Keaton.

  • Frank Scheck,New York Post

 

“Great fun! Lorenzo Pisoni is a one-man whirlwind. The stunts will amaze you and kids will enjoy it.”

  • Dave Richardson,WOR

 

Humor Abuse is an utterly charming, absorbing, and hilarious 70-minute piece co-conceived by the marvelously inventive director, Erica Schmidt.  Lorenzo Pisoni expertly captures his unconventional upbringing with heartfelt recollections and an appropriate wryness. He is truly talented and very funny.”

  • Brian Scott Lipton, Theatermania.com

  

HUMOR ABUSE is the unique story of Pisoni’s upbringing as the youngest member of the Pickle Family Circus, the Bay Area’s tiny big top that entertained thousands of people worldwide and launched the careers of several legendary performers. Filled with the clowning that Pisoni learned at his father’s knee, and the wonder, heartache and complexity of stepping into (and out of) his father’s shoes, HUMOR ABUSE shows that running away with the circus isn’t always all fun and games.

 

TICKETING INFORMATION

  • Tickets for HUMOR ABUSE are available via New York City Center Box Office (131 West 55th Street), CityTix® (212-581-1212) and www.nycitycenter.org.
  • Tickets for HUMOR ABUSE are $52.

 

# # # #

 

www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com

 

VARIETY RAVES ABOUT MTC’S HUMOR ABUSE

The MTC world premiere of HUMOR ABUSE opened last night at New York City Center – Stage II and received a great review in today’s Daily Variety.

 

Below is the review by Sam Thielman.

 

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117939842.html?categoryid=33&cs=1

Humor Abuse

 (City Center Stage 2; 150 seats; $52 top)

By SAM THIELMAN

A Manhattan Theater Club presentation of a solo show in one act by Lorenzo Pisoni and Erica Schmidt. Directed by Schmidt.
 
With: Lorenzo Pisoni.
 

After trying to escape from his clown family as a child, Lorenzo Pisoni wore a button reading “I belong to the circus” by order of his father. For better or worse, this appears to be true: “Humor Abuse” is a clown show of the highest order, but it’s also Pisoni’s autobiography. As the performer limns his difficult relationship with his dad, he breaks out a top-tier ladder routine, a terrifying series of falling sandbag gags and plenty of expert pratfalls. Other solo performers, take note: You can describe your troubled childhood, but can you do it with balloons?

For his most improbable factoids, Pisoni offers proof — photos projected onto the canvas curtain behind him. For the “I belong to the circus” story, though, there’s an additional surprise: The man holding the serious-looking toddler wearing the button is none other than master clown Bill Irwin. Anyone looking to fill Irwin’s shoes is going to have his work cut out for him (especially since those shoes don’t even fit Irwin), but Pisoni is working hard in the very same tradition, and here, those classic routines have the added texture of a confused child’s very real relationship with his distant father.

Pisoni’s clowning comments on his narrative in some painful ways: Anybody can say “Nothing was ever good enough for my father.” Very few can perform an elaborate bit in which Pisoni’s character repeatedly, hilariously fails to give a balloon to an older man from the audience. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the look on Pisoni’s face as he realizes the balloon has escaped again is worth a million.

A clown character, after all, is someone who can’t even do the simplest things right — for a boy growing up in the circus, the simplest things included juggling objects of different weights, balancing one’s hat on one’s nose and hiding in a small trunk until needed. For a child constantly worried about disappointing his dad, clowning is the most natural thing in the world.

Then there’s the confusion about who Pisoni’s father actually is. Is it Larry Pisoni, or is it Lorenzo Pickle, leader of the Bay Area’s Pickle Family Circus? For a child, the choice seems natural. Larry is unreliable, demanding, occasionally violent; Lorenzo Pickle is kind, clever and makes everyone laugh. A further question, then: When Larry fell the wrong way and hurt his back so badly he couldn’t clown anymore, did Pisoni’s father die?

These are uncomfortable issues, but Pisoni doesn’t allow them to dominate the scene. Instead, we catch glimpses of desperation in the performance itself, when he intentionally flubs a backflip or nearly parts his hair with a plummeting sandbag. A performer who grew up pushing himself to his physical limits to get approval from his father, Pisoni now pushes those limits as a matter of course. (He most recently took on the intense physical demands of the lead horse role in the Broadway revival of “Equus.”)

It’s a lot of food for thought from a clown show, but then, comedy is about surprise, and “Humor Abuse” is nothing if not surprising. Now that everyone is worried about money, too many Gotham venues are housing cheap solo shows that indulge a performer for 90 minutes and then send the audience home, not always enriched by the experience. Pisoni’s show is everything those shows could be: funny, entirely theatrical and performed by somebody demonstrating (and deconstructing) his maniacal devotion to a difficult craft.

Lighting, Ben Stanton; sound, Bart Fasbender; production stage manager, Hanah Cohen. Opened March 10, 2009. Reviewed March 5. Running time: 1 HOUR, 15 MIN. 

 

HUMOR ABUSE’S GLOWING NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

The MTC world premiere of HUMOR ABUSE opened last night at New York City Center – Stage II and received a glowing review in today’s New York Times.

 

Below is the review by Charles Isherwood.

 

 

 

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/theater/reviews/11humo.html?pagewanted=print

 

March 11, 2009

THEATER REVIEW | ‘HUMOR ABUSE’

Pratfalling Through an Eccentric Childhood, the Son of a Clown

By CHARLES ISHERWOOD

 

Nobody is born in a trunk anymore, to use the old expression describing an immersion from early childhood in showbiz. But Lorenzo Pisoni, the star and co-author of the new solo show “Humor Abuse,” came pretty darn close. Mr. Pisoni spent a good portion of his early childhood locked in a trunk – yes, an actual trunk – strapped to his father’s back.

 

Don’t worry. Dad was not a monster mixing exercise with a penchant for brutality. He was a professional clown – white makeup, red rubber nose and all – and the opening of his act involved having his son pop out of a steamer trunk Dad carried onstage on his back.

 

Memoirs of lost, traumatic or misspent youth have become a numbingly familiar stage staple, but Mr. Pisoni, who created this endearing show with its director, Erica Schmidt, certainly has a fresh angle. While other kids were frolicking in the schoolyard, little Lorenzo was practicing pratfalls. To earn a bowl of ice cream, he had to become a master of the double take.

 

In “Humor Abuse,” which opened on Tuesday night at City Center under the auspices of Manhattan Theater Club, Mr. Pisoni shuffles amiably through a scrapbook of memories from his eccentric childhood while proffering a few deftly turned samples of the clown’s craft. Once a juggler, always a juggler, although Mr. Pisoni has been cursed with the kind of Arrow-shirt-model looks that probably spelled doom for a serious career in funny business. He has long since left behind his baggy-panted past to become a legit actor. (He has a long list of Off Broadway and regional credits and was the lead man-horse in this season’s Broadway revival of “Equus.”)

 

Mr. Pisoni comes from a family of vaudevillians. His father, Larry, grew up on Long Island and ran away to the city at 15. He ended up in San Francisco as the entrepreneur and star of the Pickle Family Circus, a small outfit that performed classic routines outdoors, mostly to benefit philanthropic organizations. Young Lorenzo was conscripted into the act to stop him from beguiling audiences with his own bits during intermission, keeping them in their seats rather than at the concession stand, where the troupe made its money.

 

Mr. Pisoni speaks with warm affection of the early years of his informal apprenticeship. Adorable photographs projected onto the antiqued curtain used as a backdrop reveal father and son rehearsing and performing in the open air. But the child’s impulse to emulate his father, to test his ability to fill Dad’s (floppy) shoes, became codified into a career when his father and mother, who also worked in the circus, sat their boy down at age 6 and asked him to sign a contract to become a performing partner.

 

“These were the greatest years,” Mr. Pisoni recalls, as father and son toured the country, eating meals together in their camper, working up new routines and performing them by night. But there are indications that the ego of the clown sometimes got in the way of the sensitive father. Larry’s primary clown persona, after all, was named Lorenzo Pickle. He insisted that his son be outfitted as a miniature version of himself. And what is a kid supposed to think when his father packs a plastic banana in his lunch, not once (ha, ha) but every single day?

 

At a little over an hour, “Humor Abuse” is split evenly between reminiscences and re-enactments of routines. At the top of the show Mr. Pisoni confesses that he’s not, ahem, actually funny. Untrue, and yet he’s not really a natural goof either.

 

Some of the comic routines – particularly a long bit involving goggles, flippers and a ladder that young Lorenzo performed on his own after his father left the circus – may try the patience of the clowning-allergic. And when Mr. Pisoni describes the dissolution of his parents’ marriage, the show begins to cover well-worn broken-family territory, although the sawdust backdrop provides a novel twist even for the familiar stories of familial regret, estrangement and decline.

Physically, Mr. Pisoni’s performance is breathtaking. He juggles, he performs pratfalls, he flings himself in and out of the trunk that is the main feature of the set. He dodges sandbags that drop from the ceiling and balances a hat on the tip of his nose. Funny business is “serious business,” he says more than once, and it can be backbreaking work, too. (Literally – Mr. Pisoni’s father actually suffered such an injury.)

 

Blended with the tenderness in Mr. Pisoni’s stage memoir is a sense of relief at having survived a singular ordeal. As he remarks ruefully at one point, once upon a time kids dreamed of running away to the circus. It took the young Mr. Pisoni a while to find the courage to run away from it.

 

HUMOR ABUSE

Created by Lorenzo Pisoni and Erica Schmidt; performed by Mr. Pisoni; directed by Ms. Schmidt; lighting by Ben Stanton; sound by Bart Fasbender; production stage manager, Hannah Cohen; production manager, Kurt Gardner; general manager, Florie Seery; associate artistic director, Mandy Greenfield. Presented by Manhattan Theater Club, Lynne Meadow, artistic director. At the Manhattan Theater Club at City Center Stage II, 131 West 55th Street, Manhattan, (212) 581-1212. Through April 12. Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes.  

 

 

 

HUMOR ABUSE OPENS TONIGHT AT MTC

MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB’S

WORLD PREMIERE OF

LORENZO PISONI & ERICA SCHMIDT’S

HUMOR ABUSE

TO OPEN TONIGHT

AT MTC NEW YORK CITY CENTER – STAGE II

 

The Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer) production of HUMOR ABUSE, the new one-man-show created by Lorenzo Pisoni (Equus, Last Dance) and Erica Schmidt (Debbie Does Dallas), will open tonight, Tuesday, March 10. HUMOR ABUSE stars Pisoni with direction by Schmidt.  The world premiere limited engagement began previews on Thursday, February 19.

 

HUMOR ABUSE is the unique story of Pisoni’s upbringing as the youngest member of the Pickle Family Circus, the Bay Area’s tiny big top that entertained thousands of people worldwide and launched the careers of several legendary performers. Filled with the clowning that Pisoni learned at his father’s knee, and the wonder, heartache and complexity of stepping into (and out of) his father’s shoes, HUMOR ABUSE shows that running away with the circus isn’t always all fun and games.

 

The creative team for HUMOR ABUSE includes: Ben Stanton (lighting design), Bart Fasbender (sound design) and David Caparelliotis (casting).

 

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, MTC has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. MTC productions have earned a total of 16 Tony Awards and five Pulitzer Prizes, an accomplishment unparalleled by a New York theatrical institution. Renowned MTC productions include Top Girls; From Up Here; Come Back, Little Sheba; The Receptionist; LoveMusik; Blackbird; Translations; Shining City; Rabbit Hole; Doubt; Proof; The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife; Kimberly Akimbo; Love! Valour! Compassion!; Sylvia; Four Dogs and a Bone; Putting It Together; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Crimes of the Heart; and Ain’t Misbehavin’.

 

This season, MTC’s Broadway stage was renamed the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street). The landmarked theatre has been the institution’s home on Broadway since 2003 and was rehabilitated by MTC following a two-year, $35 million capital campaign. In addition, MTC operates two theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street), its Off-Broadway home since 1984.

 

For more information on Manhattan Theatre Club, please visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

 

TICKETING INFORMATION

  • Via New York City Center Box Office (131 West 55th Street), City Tix® (212-581-1212) and www.nycitycenter.org: Single tickets for all Manhattan Theatre Club productions at New York City Center are available by calling CityTix® at (212) 581-1212, by visiting www.nycitycenter.org or by going to the New York City Center box office. Tickets are $52.00. Group and student rates are also available. For group ticket information, call (212) 399-3000 x 4132. Student tickets are $25 and will be on sale for all performances based on availability on the day of the performance, up to one hour before showtime. Call (212) 581-1212 for further information. MTC at New York City Center is accessible to people with disabilities and is equipped with a hearing augmentation system.
  • MTC Subscriptions: You can subscribe to MTC by calling (212) 399-3030, Monday – Friday, noon – 8 PM, with a major credit card. Subscriptions are available online at www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

 

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

  • THROUGH SUNDAY, MARCH 15: Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 PM. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM.
  • MONDAY, MARCH 16 – SUNDAY, MARCH 29: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM.
  • MONDAY, MARCH 30 – SUNDAY, APRIL 5: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM. Please note that only seven performances are on sale to the general public this week.
  • TUESDAY, APRIL 7 – SUNDAY, APRIL 12: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM.

 

BIOGRAPHIES

LORENZO PISONI (Creator/ Performer). Broadway: Equus (Broadhurst), Henry IV (LCT). Off-Broadway: Devil’s Disciple (Irish Rep), Election Day (Second Stage, Lortel nomination), Last Dance (MTC), As You Like It (The Public), Much Ado About Nothing (NYSF/The Public), Troilus and Cressida (TFNA). Regional: The Injured Party (South Coast Rep), The Great Gatsby (Guthrie/Seattle Rep), Tuesdays With Morrie (Seattle Rep), The Tempest (McCarter), The Illusion (NJ Shakespeare Festival), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare & Co.), The Gamester (ACT, Bay Area Critics nomination), Arms and the Man (BSC). Film: Company Retreat, South of Pico. Other credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lincoln Center/NY Phil), Pickle Family Circus, Cirque du Soleil. Education: Vassar College. Member of Actors’ Equity.

 

ERICA SCHMIDT (Creator/Director). Directing credits include: Rent (Tokyo); Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer and Copland’s The Tender Land  (all at Bard Summer Scape); Carnival (The Paper Mill Playhouse); People Be Heard (Playwrights Horizons); Trust (The Play Company, Callaway Award nominee); As You Like It (The Public Theater/NYSF, chashama and New York International Fringe Festival 2000 Winner for Best Direction); Debbie Does Dallas (wrote the adaptation and directed Off-Broadway at the Jane Street); Spanish Girl (Second Stage Uptown); Romeo and Juliet (Outdoor Garage). College and University work includes: Buried Child and R&J (The Juilliard School); Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards (The McCarter’s Berlind Theater, Princeton University); Top Girls (Fordham University). Upcoming: The Burnt Part Boys (The Vineyard).

 

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www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com