April 2005  | This Issue

Akia Squitieri
in New York
on Theatre

does just



hat could be more monstrous than missing" the chance to see Shockheaded Peter?!

Shockheaded Peter

"Behind these very crimson curtains lie" one of the most inspiring, disturbing and delightful shows to come to the New York stage in years.

What happens when you pour Cabaret, Vaudeville, Marionettes, Puppets, a Sideshow, A Paper Doll House, Delightful Music and Twisted Humor into a Shaker? The outcome- Shockheaded Peter!

Featuring 11 original songs written by Martyn Jacques of the musical trioThe Tiger Lillies, Shockheaded Peter is a musical staging of the classic 19th Century children's book Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter). Shockheaded Peter illuminates Heinrich Hoffman's cautionary tales of disobedient children with a whimsical combination of music, puppetry, and drama. Young Harriett and her pyrotechnic tendencies, little Conrad and his insatiable thumb-sucking, and of course Shockheaded Peter himself with his nasty hair and nasty hands, along with a handful of other misbehaving youngsters all come to untimely and gleefully gory ends.

The show opens with Clump, Clump, Clump of footsteps behind a crimson curtain on the marionette like stage and the nervous giggling of children in the audience only adds to the mood. Out bursts our rather sinister & delightful host (Julian Bleach), who begins by staring down his viewers and bursts out "I am the greatest actor that has ever existed". More laughter….  Indeed this is not your average show, nor would you want it to be.

The enchanting production design by Julian Crouch and Graeme Gilmour, with costumes by Kevin Pollard and lighting by Jon Linstrum is delicious and captivating.  Watching the cast in their tattered costumes and wild makeup is like being whisked away to an old Victorian street theatre, with curtains and doors rapidly opening and closing, one dimensional set pieces sliding on and off and up and down through the cracks in the floor, the stage/set comes to live as though a paper doll house might in a child's dream, or sometimes nightmare.

Co- Creators Phelim McDermott & Julian Bleach directed the show with a touch of Victorian melodrama, which works its magic on the audience. The fast timing and silly jokes keep the youngsters engaged while the more solemn numbers such as "The Struwwlpeter overture" and "Flying Robert" keep the grown-ups fascinated.

Martyn Jacques (standing), Julian Bleach (in front) Julian Bleach (in background) and Tamzin Griffin (on ground) Anthony Cairns (slightly visible in background) Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

This was a highly collaborative production, and it shows with the majority of the creators (Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Julian Crouch, Graeme Gilmour, Phelim McDermott, Tamzin Griffin, and The Tiger Lillies - Martyn Jacques, Adrian Huge, and Adrian Stout) all still performing in the show (additional creators:Jo Pocock, Michael Morris).

I had the privilege of seeing Luther Creek (Accordion/Vocalist) who will be taking over for Martyn Jacques, (one of the original London Cast Members and Co-Creators). Mr. Creek with his tremendous Falsetto gave an awe inspiring performance. He beautifully acts the haunting songs with emotion and comic character and I would gladly sit for hours listening to his voice.

A particular favorite was the "Hare Song" a clever, albeit dark song about a hunted hare that turns the table on the hunter, which involves the entire cast using puppetry that is reminiscent of Monty Python -esque animation.

The real luminary of the night is Julian Bleach who shines with comedic physicality and poise as the story's brilliant guide through the murky and dark world of Shockheaded Peter.He wears many hats in this production and he does them all remarkably well.

This show has all of the magic ingredients: a cast (Julian Bleach, LutherCreek, Anthony, Cairns, Tamzin Griffin, Graeme Gilmour, Rebekah Wild, Adrian Huge, & Adrian Stout) who blew me away with their multi-talents, Puppetry, Prose, Movement, Singing and even instrumentation. (During one song they all whip out instruments and play with the band), Set, Lighting and Costumes that are rich in tiny detail, every song more inventive than the next and top it all off with timing and delivery that is perfection.

Quoting a line from the show "And as the Lady said, as she covered her Son's third Eye you can cover it up but you can't forget it". This show indeed haunts me in the very best of ways…

(Note also in the cast, but did not perform the evening I saw the performance: Martyn Jaques & Paul Kandel)

Shockheaded Peter

Open ended Run
Little Shubert Theatre
422 West 42nd street (Btw 9th and 10th Aves)
New York, NY

Performance Schedule: 
Tuesday, Wednesdays, Fridays 8:00pm
Thursday at 10:00pm (All seats $29)
Saturday at 3:00pm & 8:00PM
Sunday at 2:00pm & 7:00PM

Tickets, priced $36.25 - $67.50, can be purchased by at 212-239-6200. 
Special reduced price performances – where every seat in the house costs only $29 – will take place every Thursday at 10:00pm. 

A limited number of $21.25 rush tickets are available by lottery for each performance.  LOTTERY POLICY: 90 minutes prior to each performance, tickets will be sold by lottery in front of the theatre at $21.25 per ticket. There is a limit of two tickets per person.  These tickets are located in the first row of the orchestra and must be paid for in cash.  A facility fee of $1.25 is included in the price of all tickets.

For more information www.ShockheadedPeterNYC.com

Musically Speaking; the World of John Wallowitch

"Sure I love you… but it's none of your business"– this line from the aptly named "None of your business" by Song writer Wallowitch about sums up this delightful cabaret: Simple, Witty & Sharp.

Musically Speakingis a ongoing series of revues celebrating the careers, achievements and contributions of gay composers and Lyricists, presented by TOSOS II as part of the Billy Blackwell Musical Theatre Project.

Cabaret has its fair share of cliché's and gimmicks, Many theatre goers cringe at the idea of attending a cabaret as they envision tacky Vegas lounge acts or musical theatre followers chanting along to songs that have long been beaten into the ground. Well, Musically Speaking: "The world of John Wallowitch" is the exact remedy to kill the standard expectations. This is not your average cabaret, this is a show for those seeking beautiful songs performed in a classic way. The songs are off beat, catchy and witty, with a trio of actors (and yes I say actors for a reason) who are classy, poised and timeless. There is no witty banter in between songs and it's not a missed element. The songs flow naturally into one another following a streamlined theme of love, friendship and loss. Tosos II has indeed raised the bar for cabaret acts in New York.

Chris Weikel commands attention with his strong presence and even stronger voice. During the notable "Cosmetic Surgery" he draws the audience in as if he's confiding a dirty little secret among friends while delivering lines "Stitches can't resurrect bitches" & "Though their morals are loose their skin is taught" with great gusto.

Heather Olt evokes a certain 1940s charm, transforming from hambone into glamour puss to ingénue.  Ms Olt manages to masterfully deliver tongue in cheek lines such as "I wonder what its like to be a dyke" & "Let's take pity on all dykes world wide" in the delightfully comic "Dutch Ecology" which literally stops the show.

Rounding out the trio is Robert Locke who has leading man appeal with his good looks and charming smile. His subtle delivery and crisp voice makes up for the fact that he lacks the zesty personality of his cast mates. Locke has several shining moments with songs "Christmas is the Perfect time" a cheery ditty about suicide over the holidays and the previously mentioned "None of your business".

The real highlights of the night are the group numbers. This cast has wonderful chemistry and it showed particularly well in "Come into my House", "Death" and "Come a Little Closer".

Keeping with the simplistic format there are no flashy costumes, each cast member is dressed in primarily muted shades with subtle dashes of color. Flowers and fabric are the only stage adornments.

The Musical direction by Jason Loffredo is precise and smart, with quick changes that flow seamlessly from song to song.

The direction & staging worked well for the tiny stage, and Mark Finley (director) creates real relationships without dialogue. The cast conveys poignant moments, touching interludes and silly commentary of life in New York.  It would have been nice to see a touch more movement or choreography for some of the group numbers, but overall the staging serves the music and performers.

The real star of the night is John Wallowitch himself  who writes humorous lines like "I live 100 lives with high class folks in low class dives" stay in your head long after the show is over.

The 60 minute show flew by and left the audience wanting more; it also led this writer to want some recordings of John Wallowitch for her very own.

Musically Speaking: the World of John Wallowitch

$10 + a 2 Drink Minimum
Thursdays 2/17, 2/24, 3/3, 3/10 & 3/17 at 7pm
Saturdays 2/19, 2/26, 3/5, 3/12, & 3/19 at 7pm

Conception and direction:  Mark Finley
Musical direction:  Jason Loffredo
With Robert Locke, Heather Olt  & Chris Weikel
Producers: Barry Child & Doric Wilson
Stage manager: Mark Barranco
Set design: Michael Muccio
Card caricature: John Wallowitch

At The Duplex Cabaret Theatre, 61Christopher Street (at 7th Ave).
Reservations: (212) 255-5438
Website: www.tosos2.org

©2005 Akia Squitieri
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazinef

Akia has been involved in the performing arts since childhood. She is an active member of New York City's vibrant theatre community as a Producer, Playwright, Reviewer, Director, Actor and Dancer. She is currently the Artistic Director of the Rising Sun Performance Company, Director of Development for the Paul Butterfield Fund & Society & Company Manager for the New York Innovative Awards.
For more info visit www.risingsunnyc.com and www.nyitawards.com

Your Comments Are Appreciated -Click

All prior issues are secured in the Scene4 archives.
To access the Archives:

Scene4 Archives-Click

Have you read the Classifieds?

Scene4 Magazine Subscribe

Scene4 Email This Page To A Friend-Click

© 2000-2005 Scene4 - International Magazine of Performing Arts and Media - AVIAR-DKA Ltd. All rights reserved (including author and individual copyrights as indicated). All copyrights, trademarks and servicemarks are protected by the laws of the United States and International laws. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.